Climate-change skeptics have free-speech rights

Feb 5th, 2014 | By | Category: Climate Change

I believe that climate change poses a genuine threat. But nothing I’ve said should be taken to mean that one cannot be a thoughtful skeptic. Arthur Schawlow, one of my physics professors at Stanford University, was fond of saying that what makes science science is precisely the search for evidence that what we think we know is wrong. Schawlow, who would later win the Nobel Prize, warned against ever considering a subject closed.

But to be seriously skeptical, it’s necessary to dig into the data and find the errors, or tear open the models and point to their weaknesses. Maybe there’s a better way to measure temperatures from more than 500 years ago. (The National Academy of Science, in a 2006 report that generally endorsed the hockey stick, warned of the “substantial uncertainties” in measuring large-scale surface temperature changes prior to about 1600, mainly because of inadequate records.)

All of that would be fair and even useful comment. But the claim at issue in Mann’s lawsuit isn’t that his data are wrong. The claim — as Weisberg ruled a jury might reasonably find — is that the data are fraudulent.

Stephen L. Carter is a Bloomberg View columnist and a professor of law at Yale University. He is the author of “The Violence of Peace: America’s Wars in the Age of Obama” and the novel “The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln.” Follow him on Twitter at StepCarter.

For more on this story, visit: Climate-change skeptics have free-speech rights | The Japan Times.

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