Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why would-be climate skeptics are treated poorly by scientists.

Consider the following: You or your colleagues put more time and effort than nonscientists can usually understand into bettering our understanding of nature, present your work at conferences before the world's most genuinely skeptical audiences, write it into papers, revise papers to satisfy editors, and begin the cycle anew.

A journalist, an ideologue, or an "eminent historian" comes along, decides he'd rather your result be false, and writes, to the general public, without filtering his thoughts through the baloney check called "peer review", that you don't know what you're talking about. His justification: two minutes' work finding a question he can't answer for himself due to his own ignorance. A variation on the classic "argument from incredulity": I don't know, therefore the experts don't know, either.

What, specifically, am I talking about? Take for instance "respected", "eminent", etc. historian Don Aitken , being interviewed in The Australian:

He says an increase in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide over the past century is agreed, some of it due to fossil fuels, cement-making and agriculture. However, normal production of CO2 is not known, and it makes up only a tiny part of the atmosphere. "How does a small increase in a very small component have such a large apparent effect? The truth is that no one has yet shown that itdoes."

The truth is that the Greenhouse Effect has been understood for decades, and is noncontroversial.

Forget being polite and gentle with the lay public. I'm going to stick my head out the window and yell like Howard Beale the anchorman in Network advised. I'm mad as hell. If you are too lazy to learn the basics, you have no business having an opinion on a scientific matter, let alone expressing it publicly.