|THE LOMBORG STORY
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|Criticism of UVVU
The verdict issued by UVVU on 7th Jan. 2003 made a great stir, particularly in Denmark but also abroad. In Denmark, Politiken used more than one whole page to criticize the decision and published portraits of the judge and the five scientists who were guilty of "attacks on scientific freedom of speech". Others talked about one of the worst attacks on intellectual liberty in recent times and a situation that makes one think of Galilei. Only 2 days after verdict was published The Economist ran a leader in which they adopted all of Lomborg´s argument as their own. A main criticism was that UVVU did not detail exactly what Lomborg had done that was wrong, and that they relied entirely on the four scientists that had written against him in Scientific American. Two of these had been attacked in advance by Lomborg, and thus (ran the argument) they could be expected to be against Lomborg from the beginning (This is a strange argument, because Lomborg attacks everyone who disagrees with him: does that mean that only those that agree with him, and thereby avoid attacks, are allowed to give their opinion of him?). The most severe attacks were directed at Stephen Schneider, the reviewer dealing with global warming, and strenuous attempts were made to discredit his views.
In Denmark, many academics argued that Lomborg should have been evaluated by the standards of the social sciences, and that in the social sciences, the normal situation is to cite selectively and to have a subjective bias. This gave rise to considerable debate on what science is, and whether the standards of social sciences and other sciences differ.
A group of social scientists, mostly educated at Lomborg´s institute in Aarhus, initiated a protest campaign against UVVU. They wrote a declaration criticizing UVVU for not explaining whether or not they agreed with every single item of complaint (which is justified), and that UVVU omitted Lomborg´s response on the raised criticism (which is not true). This declaration was signed by 286 scientists, mostly social scientists, of which about 1/3 were professors. It was published on 18th Jan. 2003.
In a counter-protest, a group of professors of medicine wrote a declaration in support of UVVU, stating that they considered UVVU competent to judge whether publications agree with the scientific standards for handling of data. By 4th Feb. 2003, this had been signed by more than 600 scientists in the fields of medical and natural sciences, at least half of them professors.
To clarify these difficult issues, the Danish Research Agency established in February a working group of 8 members, representing different approaches to the issue. These had the task of defining "scientific dishonesty" more precisely in relation to various sciences, and of defining what types of publications can be evaluated by UVVU. The group delivered its response to the Research Agency on 30th May 2003, and on this basis, at the start of 2004, the Agency submitted its proposals to the Minister of Research concerning what the rules should be like in the future. They proposed that it will not be possible to complain about violation of "good scientific practice": complaints can only be about dishonesty proper. It would not matter where the scientist has published his views - i.e. letters in newspapers may also be involved - provided that the scientist invokes his scientific authority when he expresses himself. A scientist would get the right to express himself in the media against his superiors, and the superiors would have no right to dismiss him because of this.
The Minister did not adopt these proposals. Instead, his department issued a new order which severely restricted the authority of the UVVU. This order was passed in September 2005. According to the new rules, UVVU can deal only with research carried out by publicly employed scientists - research done e.g. by scientists employed in the pharmaceutical industry is not encompassed. The scientists must have an academic degree. And the number of persons who have the right to complain has become severely restricted; only those whose personal interests are affected may lodge a complaint. In addition the rules have been specified with a statement that the committees cannot decide on what is scientific truth. Most of these changes in the rules are clearly made in order to make a new Lomborg case impossible.
Many scientists within the medical and natural sciences in Denmark have expressed opposition to the new rules, whereas some scientists in the social sciences have argued that the authority of the UVVU should have been reduced even more - the committees should have been closed down.