If you attend a scientific talk on a controversial subject, you may be entertained or discomfited by the sometimes spirited discussion it can engender. Scientists love to pick apart new ideas, try to find their strengths and weaknesses. That’s because they know that for an idea to survive scientifically, it must be attacked by scientifically experienced minds; any faults must be aired out. That which survives is stronger for the effort, and more likely to closely model reality.
The key phrase there is "scientifically experienced". When this happens with people inexperienced with the methodologies of science — or worse, those who actively oppose them — then the situation is very different. It changes from a way to strengthen our ideas on the Universe into a witch hunt. Instead of warming up people to discovery, it produces a chilling effect.
We’re seeing this play out in spades in the field of climate science.
To be clear: the climate is changing. There is zero doubt about that. None. Anyone telling you differently has an agenda to ram, and it’s one that is decidedly not realistic.
|"Hey, maybe I can stop global warming
by creating a chilling effect!"
And some of those people ramming through this agenda are using — I would say abusing — their power to do so. For example, über-conservative Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — the same guy who was so offended by the artwork of a naked breast he had it covered up on lapel pins — is investigating climate scientist Michael Mann. Cuccinelli is claiming that Mann may have defrauded taxpayers while trying to get grants to fund his research. Mind you, Mann has survived such attacks before as fallout from the nonsensical climategate "scandal" (which was a completely manufactured controversy with no substance at all).