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Giving “Experts” a Red Card. January 10, 2006

Posted by procopius in Climate Change, Pseudoscience.

Today’s Australian contains an interesting article on proposals to sin-bin expert witnesses who are out of line with the scientific community.

From the article:

A SPORT-STYLE system of red and yellow cards is being considered to deal with rogue expert witnesses whose eccentric or irrational views are skewing medical negligence cases.

What interests me is could such a system be applied to scientists who lend their authority to “eccentric or irrational views” in the press.

For example, it wasn’t too long ago that Professor Ian Plimer dusted off and updated (must remove references to atmospheric temperature trends) his standard piece on global warming. While, Plimer has vastly improved over the years (as far as I know, he no longer uses 21st Century Science and Technology as a reference), his piece was a giant straw man which added a big fat zero to the already poor quality of debate on global warming.

So, would a score card for rouges be appropriate? Perhaps a good starting point would be Tim Lambert’s bingos on global warming and DDT. Another good starting point would be Talk Origins.

But, before everybody decides to wheel out the persecuting Galileo line, I should point out that I don’t actually support such a measure. Scientists (as with everybody else) should be free to spout whatever rubbish they so desire. However, non-experts should realise that not all experts know what they are talking about.* Many don’t. Many will, deliberately or not, deceive you.

* A general rule of thumb, is the more sweeping and general the claims, the less the person knows.