Daniel Henninger in a Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled Climategate: Science Is Dying draws exactly the right conclusion from the Climategate scandal:
As the hard sciences—physics, biology, chemistry, electrical engineering—came to dominate intellectual life in the last century, some academics in the humanities devised the theory of postmodernism, which liberated them from their colleagues in the sciences. Postmodernism, a self-consciously “unprovable” theory, replaced formal structures with subjectivity. With the revelations of East Anglia, this slippery and variable intellectual world has crossed into the hard sciences.
This has harsh implications for the credibility of science generally. Hard science, alongside medicine, was one of the few things left accorded automatic stature and respect by most untrained lay persons. But the average person reading accounts of the East Anglia emails will conclude that hard science has become just another faction, as politicized and “messy” as, say, gender studies.
His conclusion is one with which we completely and utterly agree:
Science is on the credibility bubble. If it pops, centuries of what we understand to be the role of science go with it.