Two different reasons for hiding data

Today I have science on the brain. Or at least some vague approximation of the word (I have real trouble spelling it, for some reason).

I spent some time reading up on Robert Hooke just because I did not know much about him other then he was Newton’s nemesis.

Reading it made me kind of depressed. If you ever get to thinking that you’re smart, you should read about some of the early giants of the enlightenment. When they weren’t making ground breaking discoveries in 42 separate areas of study (all of which they were pursuing at the same time), they were designing buildings, hard to counterfeit currencies, and building better watches. I think they benefited greatly from living in a time that was wealthy enough that many men could devote themselves to thought and yet it was still expected that a man of thought would be able to build things with his own hands.

But be that as it may, those biographies of early scientists are depressing for reasons other then how small they make us feel. The early giants of the scientific revolution repeatedly demonstrated they could be awfully small minded. They stole ideas from each other and did not give credit. They jealously guarded their own data and ideas lest someone else steal them. They slandered each other and tried to destroy all the works that their opponents left behind.

Reading all of those things, one can’t help but think of the recent climategate scandal. One is tempted to trot out the old adage “the more things change, the more things stay the same.”

But there is a crucial difference. The early giants of the scientific revolution had ideas that would change the world and stand the test of time. And they knew the value of what they had. That is why they fought like cats and dogs over who thought up the ideas first.

On the other hand, the scientists involved in global warming research have no clue what they are doing. They can’t even reproduce their own work, much less have it be tested by others. They hide their data not because they know it is of great worth, but because they know that it is next to worthless (and that’s being kind.)

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