In his landmark book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” Thomas Kuhn discusses at great length how a scientific field can be captured by a system of false ideas, to the point where these beliefs determine what the legitimate scientific questions are. He called such belief systems “paradigms,” an example being the Earth centered model of the solar system.

Kuhn had no name for the way that a paradigm shields the field from hard questions and contrary evidence, so I call it “paradigm protection.” Paradigm protection is rampant in the field of climate science, where the controlling paradigm is the idea that humans are causing dangerous climate change.

The US National Science Foundation has just produced a remarkably clear example of alarmist paradigm protection. It is a multi-million dollar research funding Program cleverly titled “Navigating the New Arctic.”

Despite the title, this research program is not about navigation. It is about ginning up scary future scenarios based on projected dangerous Arctic warming.

Here is part of the Program synopsis:

Arctic temperatures are warming faster than nearly everywhere else on Earth, with some models predicting that continued warming could produce an ice-free Arctic Ocean by mid-century. The rapid and wide-scale changes occurring in response to this warming portend new opportunities and unprecedented risks to natural systems; social and cultural systems; economic, political and legal systems; and built environments of the Arctic and across the globe. The lack of scientific observations and the prevalence of interdependent social, natural, and built systems in the Arctic make it challenging to predict the region’s future. Understanding and adapting to a changing Arctic will require creative new directions for Arctic-specific research, education, workforce development, and leveraging of science, engineering, and technology advances from outside the Arctic.

This is pure climate alarmism. Models predict so much warming, which portends unprecedented risks, which calls for new understanding and adaptation. From models to social change in one grand swoop.

What is hard to see is the hard unasked questions and unacknowledged contrary evidence, which is what makes this paradigm protection. The Program simply assumes what should in fact be questioned.

For example there is strong evidence that the Arctic has warmed like this before, perhaps many times, but it has not run away as this Program assumes. So to what extent is the present warming natural, cyclic and bounded? This is a very simple, yet deep, question, which is not asked.

Then too we know that the models run very hot compared to observation. Are the models even fit for this sort of predictive use? This is another obvious question that is not asked.

It is virtually certain that proposals that sought to ask these hard questions would be declared non-responsive to the Program. Questioning the paradigm is simply deemed not legitimate. It is not that skeptic’s proposals are turned down; they are never solicited in the first place.

The alarmist paradigm says the fundamental question is how bad will it be, not will it be bad. And this paradigm controls the field.

Note by the way that this modest $30 million Program is just the first step in an empire building crusade. The solicitation also says this:

This solicitation is the first of what is envisioned to be at least a five-year agency-wide program to support the research needed to inform decisions about the economy, security, and resilience of the Nation, the larger region, and the globe with respect to Arctic change. NSF anticipates that future calls will further define “larger scope,” with the potential to include projects up to the scale of centers and/or consortia.

NSF has always led the federal Arctic research program. Now they are clearly out to “save the Arctic” from dangerous human-caused warming. After all, “the economy, security and resilience” are all at stake, or so they assume.

What we really need from NSF is a research program that questions Arctic alarmism, not one that assumes it. Paradigm protection is bad science on a grand scale. The Administration needs to do something about this rampant fallacy.


  • David Wojick

    David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see Available for confidential research and consulting.