Emboldened by the election of President Donald Trump, Smith appears increasingly comfortable dismissing those who disagree with his stance on any number of issues under the purview of his science committee, from climate research to the use of peer review in assessing research results and grant proposals. And one key element in his strategy appears to be relabeling common terms in hopes of shaping public dialogue.
“I applaud you for saying you’ll be using the term climate studies, not climate science,” said one audience member. His reference was to Smith’s embrace of a distinction made by a previous speaker, climatologist Patrick Michaels of the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., who argues that most climate scientists don’t deserve to be called “scientists” because they have manipulated their data and ignored contrary results. “But I also urge you to use the term politically correct science.”
“Good point,” Smith replied. “And I’ll start using those words if you’ll start using two words for me. The first is never, ever use the word progressive. Instead, use the word liberal. The second is never use the word 'mainstream' media, because they aren’t. Use 'liberal' media. Is that a deal?”
Let me try to lay this out succinctly: 'Science' and 'Certainty' are not synonymous--and they shouldn't be. Science represents the evolution of thought based on observation, hypothesization (is that word)?, experimentation/data collection, analysization (I'm trying to keep my parallel construction here), and communication.
Lather, rinse and repeat.
Occasionally the scientific method results in a scientifically certain discovery: Penicillin works.
Occasionally the scientific method results in a scientifically certain rejection of consensus: The earth is NOT flat.
But most of the time science is messy...or at least uncertain. It is rare that an hypothesis is either fully confirmed or fully rejected. Those hypotheses that are fully confirmed or unequivocally rejected are typically so narrow as to render the conclusion trivial. Interesting hypotheses are complicated and complex and it takes many scientists and multiple iterations of test/partial confirmation/partial rejection/adjustment/retest/partial confirmation/partial rejection .
And even when conclusions start to come together, the certainty-levels with which those conclusions can be stated are varying degrees of confidence, and not 100% certainty.