Saturday, 10 October 2009

Universities : freedom of speech or politics ?

When being pointed out that the well known climate sceptics often are funded by Exxon, the answer often heard from sceptics side is "yeah, but all scientists are funded by the government and writing whatever politicians want to hear”.
While it is possible to demonstrate that this kind of reasoning is weak, p.ex. by pointing out that a libertarian like professor Frank Van Dun is working for the government (lol ?) , it is impossible to take away the deep mistrust behind such a claim.Unless maybe a sceptic himself testifies the paranoia is unjustified ?
On DGR’s klimatosoof, the latest post is a video-interview emeritus Ton Begemann. One of his claims is that emeriti have the freedom to say what they want, while scientists belonging to universities don’t have the possibility to say what they think, as it would cause them to loose their funding.
This resulted in this comment from Bas van Geel :
Professor Begemann’s claim in universities it is not possible to present a different opinion about climate change - certainly isn’t true for the University of Amsterdam. In my professional environment nobody has ever tried to "correct" me (a sceptic with an opinion based on strong arguments)
In the past 10 years,  i never have had a problem with finding funding either for my research on the role of the sun on climate changes in the past. It is (also) because of this research i started having an alternative opinion on what’s going on with the present-day climate : i still believe that natural variability is much more important than changes caused by mankind.
Dr Bas van Geel, UvA

In a case of extremely good timing, just today Labohm on DDS wrote an article stating scientists are threatened to loose their funding if they don’t follow the masses :-)