Whatever universe a professor believes in must at any rate be a universe that lends itself to lengthy discourse. A universe definable in two sentences is something for which the professorial intellect has no use. No faith in anything of that cheap kind!
William James – Pragmatism
I've posted before, here and here on complexity, mostly because of the profound effect it has on our lives. Complexity is closely linked to conspiracy in the way it allows cliques to evolve and prosper, gives them barriers to entry behind which they hide and dig little burrows wherein to nurture their claims and their aims.
Take computer models for example. Many people must have little or no knowledge of computer models, so scientific cliques use them as a handy way to promote their interests and those of their paymasters. In many ways, computer models are the modern equivalent of the chained library, a way of controlling who knows what. It was the same with municipal libraries of course - or they wouldn't have been funded.
As a well-known example, we could take the Met Office and it's gargantuan appetite for ever more computing power to run the hugely complex models which generate its widely ridiculed predictions. This is what was claimed back in 2008.
John Hirst, Met Office Chief Executive: "In a world where the effect of extreme weather events is becoming more severe and the potential impact of global warming is becoming ever more apparent, the Met Office plays an increasingly vital role in researching and forecasting these events. The new supercomputer is an important step in delivering our strategic targets."
This absurd claim and many others made by senior employees is a useful reminder of what the Met Office was doing to us back in 2008 before Climategate, and how little it has changed since. Their new supercomputer promotes the interests of the clique by taking its computing resources well beyond the reach of anyone else interested in the subject but not funded by government.
Firstly they maintain an important barrier to entry for a key promotional aspect of climate science. As computing power becomes cheaper, the models have to become equivalently more complex in order to keep them above and beyond the vulgar gaze.
Secondly models increase the complexity of climate science simply because that is their function - to make sure that any challenge is a technically complex task, well beyond the capabilities of decision-makers or their advisers, including scientific advisers. The models are our chained books where accessibility is the key.
It's also worth noticing that clique members do not have to be aware that they are part of a self-promoting clique. It is not a condition of membership that they should be analytically-minded. In fact the clique works better if most members have only limited self-awareness.
How do I know? Observation - it's how cliques operate. It's data - the freely available kind not owned or promoted by cliques.