Monday, September 26, 2011
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe writes a column about a rhetorical tactic taken by global warming alarmists that makes the nuisance of registering for access to his paper worthwhile. [Update: The column is also available on Jacoby's web site.] In "Climate Skeptics Don't 'Deny Science'", Jacoby relates the following interesting piece of news:
There is more in the column, and Jacoby makes a good, although imperfect attempt to explain why AGW deserves so much skepticism.You don't have to look far to see that impeccable scientific standards can go hand-in-hand with skepticism about global warming. Ivar Giaever, a 1973 Nobel laureate in physics, resigned this month as a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) to protest the organization's official position that evidence of manmade climate change is "incontrovertible" and cause for alarm. In an e-mail explaining his resignation, Giaever challenged the view that any scientific assertion is so sacred that it cannot be contested."In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves," Giaever wrote, incredulous, "but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"
Nor does Giaever share the society's view that carbon emissions threaten "significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security, and human health." In fact, the very concept of a "global" temperature is one he questions... [format edits]
In truth, global-warming alarmism is not science at all -- not in the way that electromagnetic radiation or the laws of planetary motion or molecular biology is science. Catastrophic climate change is an interpretation of certain scientific data, an interpretation based on theories about the causes and effects of growing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is not "denying science" to have doubts about the correctness of that interpretation any more than it is "denying economics" to have doubts about the efficacy of Kenyesian pump-priming.To avoid giving real science-deniers from the religious right any help, I might have added something like, "This is not to say that solid conclusions about complex, interdisciplinary questions are impossible. For example, biologists regard evolution as a fact." I'd also perhaps have explicitly noted that it is the AGW alarmists, with their bullying tactics, who deny the spirit of science while paying it lip-service.
That said, I think a bigger issue in this debate bears repeating: Endlessly debating this scientific question, while ignoring the political principles behind what (if anything) to do about it, assuming it is happening at all, is a mistake.
Someone has finally gotten around to studying why some languages sound faster than others.
Even Richard Feynman has experienced burnout. Fellow fans of his will want to know how he shook it off.
Jeff Carter, on coming out of the conservative closet in Chicago:
When people find out that I am a conservative, there are three reactions. One, they can't believe it and think I am kidding them, but then talk to me and we become friends. The second is abject horror, they sort of tolerate me but behind my back they insult me. The third is they start pigeon holing me into the most radical of conservative classes.The second two, in any kind of "coming out" type of situation, are clues (read: potential warnings) about that person's psycho-epistemology. ("This [pertains] to the method by which he acquires and organizes knowledge -- the method by which his mind deals with its content.") Ignore such information at your own peril.
Today: (1) Added link to freely-accessible version of Jacoby column. (2) Two minor format edits.