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I Hope For His Sake He Has Tenure

What’s remarkable about this article is that what it describes should be unremarkable.

James Wanliss, a space physicist who teaches at Embry-Riddle, showed students the two films [An Inconvenient Truth and The Great Global Warming Swindle] in an honors course titled “The Politics and Science of Fear” because he said more and more the public is being sold one side of an issue with many dimensions.

“I fear that attempts are being made to purposefully subvert the public understanding of the nature of science in order to achieve political goals,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Science is not about consensus, and to invoke this raises the hackles of scientists such as myself. The lure of politics and publicity is no doubt seductive, but it nevertheless amazes me that so many scientists have jumped on the bandwagon of consensus science, apparently forgetting or ignoring the sad history of consensus science.”

Wanliss argues that both films overstate the science as a means to a political end.

Wanliss said he doesn’t necessarily subscribe to either film, but believes his students — and the public — should remain skeptical of theories such as Gore’s explanation of global warming.

Other Embry-Riddle scientists are less outspoken than Wanliss, but one — John Olivero, professor and chairman of the department of physical science — allowed that skepticism is an essential tool of the scientific method.

“Science lives with internal conflict all the time,” Olivero said. “Part of what we have to do is continually challenge each other.”

That process, they say, leads scientists closer to truths that may be elusive for lifetimes.

The truths of global warming are, if not inconvenient, incomprehensible, Wanliss argues.

“The atmosphere is incredibly complicated, and we know very little about it,” he said. “We are studying a system which is so big . . . we don’t know what all the variables are.” [emphasis added]

Apparently these two denialist hacks haven’t gotten the memo: the debate is over, the science is conclusive, there can be no questioning of the AGW gospel.

It would be interesting to see what, if any, trouble this skepticism causes them when their next performance reviews come along.

4 comments to I Hope For His Sake He Has Tenure

  • I sincerely hope you’re being ironic in that second-last paragraph.

  • Joe Shmo

    Wanliss is also skeptical about the theory of evolution.

  • I’ll admit, that makes me question his judgment in that area of science (though to be fair, I don’t know what his skepticism about evolution actually entails — is he a young-Earth creationist, or does he simply find fault with certain aspects of current theory?). But I don’t think that undermines what he is doing here — presenting two sides of a controversial issue, and reminding his students about the nature of science.

    If he was forcing them to watch films presenting only the creationist viewpoint, grading them according to their conformity with the consensus of creation scientists, or exhorting them to support government policies which would wreck the economy and throw away modernity for a “back to Eden” lifestyle, I’d be a bit more concerned about his views on human origins.