Monday, December 14, 2009

People respond to incentives - the science cheat edition

As we well know all of economics can be summarised by just four words - "people respond to incentives" - the rest is commentary.

Thierry Henry handled the ball because the benefits of cheating were greater than the cost. What incentives can we find that underlie the academic and scientific fraud that has taken place at the Climatic Research Unit in the University of East Anglia for at least ten years?

A quick check of this spreadsheet reveals some of the answers. Click it and see where the money to keep Phil Jones and his buddies happily engaged in fraud in the CRU has come from.

The file reveals details of 53 projects in with Prof Phil Jones is the sole or a joint PI (principlal investigator). The 53 projects see Jones allocated £13.7million pounds at an average of just over £250,000 per approved grant application. That is a lot of money to be playing around with.

Where did this pocket money come from? Prof Jones and his cronies are hugely grateful to the taxpayers of the UK, the US and the EU for funding as they have received grant after grant from the UK Met Office, the US Department of Energy, the EU Commission and several other public bodies.

If somebody has a story they want told and are willing to pay to have that story told it is only human nature that someone will gladly help them out when the right incentives are in place. This is a superb explanation of what happens.
Universities and departments have set policies to attract climate science funding. Climate science centers don’t spontaneously spring into existence – they were created, in increasingly rapid numbers, to partake in the funding bonanza that is AGW. This by itself is not political – currently, universities are scrambling to set up “clean energy” and “sustainable technology” centers. Before it was bio-tech and nanotechnology. But because AGW-funding is politically motivated, departments have adroitly set their research goals to match the political goals of their funding sources. Just look at the mission statements of these climate research institutes – they don’t seek to investigate the scientific validity or soundness of AGW-theory, they assume that it is true, and seek to research the implications or consequences of it.

This filters through every level. Having created such a department, they must fill it with faculty that will carry out their mission statement. The department will hire professors who already believe in AGW and conduct research based on that premise. Those professors will hire students that will conduct their research without much fuss about AGW. And honestly, if you know anything about my generation, we will do or say whatever it is we think we’re supposed to do or say. There is no conspiracy, ust a slightly cozy, unthinking myopia. Don’t rock the boat.

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