Saturday, October 13, 2007

Nobel committee lays another egg

Someone once called the era we live in the "age of inflation." For example, a million dollars isn't worth what it once was. Neither apparently is the Nobel Peace Prize. A science prize can't be awarded to something that pretends to be science but actually isn't - at least, not without completely destroying the worth of the prize. For the Peace Prize, the standards are evidently lower - much lower, we now learn.

By awarding Al Gore and the IPCC the Peace Prize, the Nobel Peace Prize committee has done it again, marking another large cut in the prestige, meaning, and value of what they're handing out. Not that they haven't done it before: they awarded part of the 1994 Peace Prize to Arafat. That decision was motivated by a mix of wishful thinking and opportunism, as was the awarding of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize to Jimmy Carter. What we've just seen with Gore and the IPCC is a case of political correctness run amok. It's not that different from the grade inflation and speech codes common on campus these days: administrators looking for a bandwagon to jump on or lacking the spine to stand up to fanatics. In a few years, it won't matter, since the "global warming" craze seems to be dissipating; the Nobel committee will simply look like idiots again.

This Nobel committee has also strikingly passed up in recent years far more worthy people who take large risks for peace and stay away from the temptation to violence: the Iraqi Shi'ite clerics (like Sistani) or the Burmese monks, for example.

But with all that said, it's still a scientific outrage - a blatant attempt to replace science with junk, following the pattern laid down for the last twenty years, short-circuiting scientific reasoning with credulity and obsession. It forces bad methodology and results on everyone else that, for any other scientific issue or topic, would be dismissed out of hand. Apparently, not when it comes to this issue.

The basic problem with the "global warming" crackpottery from the start has been preconceived dogma armed with political clout and media megaphones browbeating everyone else and demonizing rational critics and criticism. A Nobel Peace Prize just means another year or so of it. But many people are wise to official B.S. now: far from enhancing the stature of Gore and the IPCC, it simply cheapens the prize further.*

The timing of the prize is significant as well. A prize given in late 2007 is probably meant to influence the US presidential elections next year. It might mean a final attempt by Gore to run for president with his zany pet cause. If you're registered Democrat, you can vote in Democratic primaries. If you're not, you can change your registration. (Many states have open primaries in any case.) If you can, be sure to vote against Gore. We don't need a monomaniac of bad science or a Cardinal Bellarmino running for president or being president.

POSTSCRIPT: I was unaware of this, but the Nobel Peace Prize was not part of Nobel's original will. It was added somewhat later (in 1901) and is issued by the Norwegian parliament in Oslo, not by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm.
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* An appropriate response from the US government should be the complete withdrawal of government money, science, and recognition from the IPCC. The US can't by itself disband the IPCC, but it can press other countries to do so. It's the price to pay to free ourselves from the dangerous concepts of "official" and "consensus" science.

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