WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

A challenge on science

Posted July 3

Greg Fishel - disclaimers

— The American Meteorological Society recently held its 45th Conference on Broadcast Meteorology in Kansas City, MO.

I was privileged to not only attend the conference, but to be one of the speakers. The first slide in my presentation is attached to this post. This is not false humility. Every bullet point in that slide is true. However, like it or not, I am a scientist, as proven by my Bachelor of Science Degree in Meteorology from the Pennsylvania State University which I earned in May of 1979.

During my 38 years as a professional meteorologist, I have frequently reached out to academicians, not only locally, but across the entire country. Why? Because I am obsessed with learning, and one of the best ways to do that is to spend time with men and women who have acquired a higher level of expertise in your field.

I have invited and encouraged constructive criticism from these experts over the years, because I know that broadcast meteorologists are the primary liaison between the atmospheric science community and the general public. Providing this link carries with it a tremendous responsibility, and it is a responsibility I have always taken very seriously.

The American Meteorological Society saw fit for me to chair the committee to develop the first ever certification exam for broadcast meteorologists. I believe I got that assignment because many realized how committed I was to good science and high standards.

In fact, the original reason I got into television weather was that I was tired of weather on TV being the vaudeville portion of the newscast. Weather forecasting wasn't dart throwing, but rather real science backed up by physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, and the like. I was afraid many didn't know this, and I wanted to be a small part of changing that erroneous perception.

As many of you know, I humbled myself several years ago when I admitted that my opinions on climate change were not based on science, but for years had been driven by politics and ideology. Whether my opinion was right or wrong, I was arriving at it the wrong way, and I needed to fess up, do my homework, and arrive at a conclusion that was based on science and science alone.

One thing I firmly believe is that science is a gift from God, and that one doesn't have to choose between a being a person of faith and a person of science. The two work together very well.

So, when I see so much disrespect for the peer review process, a process which has served the scientific community along with the general public very well for a long time, I hope it is understandable why I am a bit infuriated. Maybe my frustration is also fueled by the fact that I know exactly what these folks are doing because I did it for a very long time.

You know, I see a parallel between an exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Race-Are We So Different?) and the climate change "debate."

We as a society have become obsessed with focusing on our relatively few differences, instead of the much greater number of commonalities we possess. Do we just like to fight and argue? Are we willing to admit we could be wrong about anything? Why won't many of the folks that argue against man-made climate change submit their findings to one of the American Meteorological Society's peer reviewed journals, such as the Journal of Climate?

They might very well claim that the peer reviewed process is flawed and biased, and that their findings would be rejected out of hand. Well, if that's true, the citizenry of the United States needs to know and know now. But we'll never know if we don't all agree to play by the same rules.

So, I issue a direct challenge to all who tweet, post on Facebook, and host websites. Submit your findings to the American Meteorological Society, and let the entire world know what kind of response you get. Maybe you'll discover that these atmospheric scientists aren't as agenda and policy driven as you think they are, and perhaps some of these scientists will take note of your research findings and admit that they need to be examined.

This would require mutual respect, but maybe that's not what is desired here. Maybe there are those who simply love a good fight, and what better way to engage in that fight than to sit cowardly behind a computer terminal and ridicule individuals who have committed their lives to seeking the truth about our world.

If the fight is what you're after, don't bother submitting, because the end result won't matter. If you are sincerely interested in advancing science, then please, do submit, and let's see where that process takes us.


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