Provocative Links for Ethical Weekend Reading

Here is a diverse selection of five ethics-related posts from cyberspace for your weekend reading pleasure:

  • Christopher Hitchens analyzes, critiques and updates the Ten Commandments—and does an excellent job of all three, here.
  • Finally, a former Bush Justice Department official takes aim at the Republican attacks on the so-called “Al Qaeda Seven,” a despicable moniker apparently invented by Mary Cheney. There really is no debate here: the suggestion that attorneys who previously represented accused terrorists cannot be trusted to work in Justice is legally, ethically and logically ignorant. Still, it is good to have a Republican lawyer say so.

One thought on “Provocative Links for Ethical Weekend Reading

  1. Peer review is a meaningless term if you expect it to mean one thing because of the many different procedures for peer review. At its worst, peer review means that the journal editor publishes what they agree with and refuses to publish what they don’t (the case apparently with the climate ‘science’ journals and some of the more politicized humanities). At strictest, it means that your bitterest rivals are given the manuscript to make sure you only publish what you can really prove. There are good peer review practices and there are bad peer review practices. The subversion of good peer review practices is of the utmost severity because it undermines everything we think we know. This recent scandal revealed two different methods of subverting peer review.

    The first involves the debate about cooperative vs. competitive science. Cooperative science is the “we can accomplish more if we all get on board and tackle the problem together” and competitive science is “lets have 6 independent groups working on the same problem at the same time trying to scoop each other in the journals and for more funding”. Cooperative science is strangely seductive. If we all worked together, we would get more done. Wouldn’t that be better than working against each other? The CRU unit seems to have shown the great dangers of cooperative science. People assumed that a cooperative exercise would have the same level of scrutiny in peer review that competitive science does. Competition and rivalry is a large factor in keeping scientists honest.

    The other enlightening side to the climategate scandal is the role that applied vs. basic research played. European governments began to fund climatology as applied research. This meant that they expected specific results. The flip side is that if they didn’t get those results, the funding was likely to go away. As governments worldwide push for more applied research funding and less basic research funding, this should be analyzed closely. If you pay someone to tell you something, they probably will, wether or not it is true.

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