Philosopher of Biology/Science David Hull passed away today after a long illness. His book Science as a Process, which covered the "clade wars" that raged within evolutionary theory during the 1970s/1980s, should be made mandatory reading for any of the science writers who looked at the CRU emails and were actually surprised at the pettiness, the back-biting, and the rude behaviour occasionally displayed by the scientists behind these emails.
Put bluntly: the debates in climate science are a slappy-fest compared to the epic displays of general assholishness taxonomists got up to a few decades back.
And yet the system worked! From a comment at biologos:
As for scientists being “advocates” in terms of lobbying for their pet theory, sometimes irrationally - sure, in some ways that’s a problem—but in other ways, this very thing is what drives science forward! Other scientists say “that yahoo can’t be right” and try to shoot him down. The emotions, the quest for fame, the desire to be right, etc., are all part of the process. The process is very competitive, and might well work better when it is metaphorically “red in tooth and claw” like this, than when everyone is completely circumspect about every last thing. Read David Hull’s classic “Science as a Process,” for goodness sake.
But, you might say (like Judith Curry, for example): there is too much at stake policy-wise for this kind of thing to go on within climatology. It must change! However, as noted above (in a more general context) to force this kind of change might actually impede the progress of the field. Science can, like many human endeavours, be crippled by an excess of civility. Best let the girls fight it out and let the weak fall by the road-side.