Buttle's World

16 December, 2009

Skeptical

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 14:30

Skepticism is always a virtue. It’s really just another name for scientific thinking and does not mean cynical. One of the leading lights of the modern skeptical movement, the Amazing Randi, turns out to be as skeptical as I about AGW, and for many of the same reasons.

An unfortunate fact is that scientists are just as human as the rest of us, in that they are strongly influenced by the need to be accepted, to kowtow to peer opinion, and to “belong” in the scientific community. Why do I find this “unfortunate”? Because the media and the hoi polloi increasingly depend upon and accept ideas or principles that are proclaimed loudly enough by academics who are often more driven by “politically correct” survival principles than by those given them by Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and Bohr. (Granted, it’s reassuring that they’re listening to academics at all — but how to tell the competent from the incompetent?) Religious and other emotional convictions drive scientists, despite what they may think their motivations are.

Scientists are indeed fallible. Science, on the other hand, is self-correcting.

I attended a fascinating presentation last night about the effect of climate on the history of civilization. It pointed out how fortunate we are to be living in a fairly stable time because, by the normal cycle, we should be heading into another deadly ice age about now.

Does human activity alter the earth’s temperature? It’s a plausible hypothesis. It’s a long way from being as settled a theory as gravity, evolution, or a round earth, though. And yes, if enough ice melts the sea levels will go up a few meters – just as they have in the past.

As the chart I referenced points out, and Randi seems to agree, the best response would be to adapt. Adapting could well be expensive. So, instead of using climate change (it has always changed, and always will) as an excuse to dismantle the best and only way to create wealth, it makes sense to me to protect freedom and create all the wealth we can muster. One way or another the seven lean years will come. We should be ready, and not in voluntary servitude.

John Derbyshire has an apropos followup.

Once you’ve subtracted all that science-neutral matter, there isn’t much left to talk about, unless you want to spend a year or so, at no likely advantage to yourself (unless someone’s paying your bills), immersing yourself in a very contentious field of scientific enquiry that rests on data that can be gathered only with great difficulty, and on theories about the dynamics of a fantastically complicated planet-sized system of interacting phenomena.

The results out of that field are not sufficiently dispositive to justify colossal international programs of action, designed and executed by (and, career-wise, for) plump, unaccountable globalist bureaucrats. Without dispositive evidence, such programs should be resisted on principle by everyone who cares about individual liberty and national sovereignty.

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