Dr. Tim Ball has written an article in the November 21 Canada Free Press in which he calls leading climatologists "frauds." He bases this on computer-based information obtained by someone who hacked into the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit server. The pro-anthropogenic climate change media, such as Associated Press and the Washington Post, emphasize the ethical issues associated with the hacking of the computers but downplay the implications for the credibility of pro-anthropogenic academics. The damage seems to be more serious than the Post yet admits. In his Canada Free Press article Ball raises questions not only about the credibility of climatological research but of the academic peer review process generally. Given widespread public interest in this topic, increased public scrutiny of peer review and of university research may be a collateral effect of the scandal. Concerning the peer review process generally Ball writes:
I was always suspicious about why peer review was such a big deal. Now all my suspicions are confirmed. The emails reveal how they controlled the process, including manipulating some of the major journals like Science and Nature. We know the editor of the Journal of Climate, Andrew Weaver, was one of the “community”. They organized lists of reviewers when required making sure they gave the editor only favorable names. They threatened to isolate and marginalize one editor who they believed was recalcitrant.
We may ask whether this kind of bias exists elsewhere in universities. If climate change has been politicized, what about studies like labor relations, law, sociology and economics?
Cross-posted from NAS.org, "An Unsuccessful Education Can Ruin You": The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article, "Course Reminds Budding Ph.D.'s of the Damage They Can Do," about a seminar taught at the CUNY Graduate Center on the ethics of teaching. Steven M. Cahn teaches the class, and he seeks to dispel the notion that all education is innocuous:
"People often think that education works either to improve you or to leave you as you were," Mr. Cahn says. "But that's not right. An unsuccessful education can ruin you. It can kill your interest in a topic. It can make you a less-good thinker. It can leave you less open to rational argument. So we do good and bad as teachers—it's not just good or nothing."
Cahn discusses with his small class the meaning of academic freedom ("How free should instructors be to proclaim their beliefs in the classroom? And how sensitive should they be to their students' personal commitments?") and the question of university neutrality ("Do colleges have an institutional duty to stay out of certain public debates? Or is that kind of neutrality actually undesirable or impossible?"). His students enjoy tackling these issues; as future professors, the subjects they consider in Cahn's seminar will soon become very real for them. This course covers the very same fundamental higher education debates in which the National Association of Scholars has found a voice for the last twenty-two years. These are conversations well worth having - they ponder "What does it mean to be a university of integrity?" The existence of the CUNY seminar is encouraging. Now if only all faculty members and administrators took this course, perhaps we'd have a better foundation for teaching the next generation.