Monday, June 29, 2009

Climate Change Truth

What happens when the scientists have excessive belief in their ideas?

These men are not only ill prepared for making discoveries; they also make very poor observations. Of necessity, they observe with a preconceived idea, and when they devise an experiment, they can see, in its results, only a confirmation of their theory. In this way they distort observation and often neglect very important facts because they do not further their aim....But it happens further quite naturally that men who believe too firmly in their theories, do not believe enough in the theories of others. So the dominant idea of these despisers of their fellows is to find others' theories faulty and try to contradict them. The difficulty, for science is still the same.

CLAUDE BERNARD, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine, 1865
From Good Calories, Bad Calories, Gary Taubes
Certain things never change. 144 years after the above article was written, we are still plagued by the irrational scientists. Bill Brown talks about this lot in his article "Climate Change Truth" and the way it scientists should operate:
Scientists generally operate like the rational person described above. They work according to the scientific method, which enshrines the inductive approach. Publishing their findings in a scientific journal is supposed to be the beginning of the journey to knowledge as other scientists test the results and publish their own findings. This emerging consensus is then grist for causal explanation, which is then itself tested in new scenarios and experiments. This process is more rigorous and formal than the rational person’s due to its inherently social nature: the rational person really only needs to understand an issue in his own mind whereas a scientist must cast his understanding in precise, objective terms that are available to others.

At odds with both the rational person and the scientist is the man of faith. For him, knowledge once obtained is sacrosanct; his certainty is absolute and unshakeable. In contrast, the process by which he acquires such certainty is relatively effortless: he is told what to believe and he accepts it wholesale. His mind is literally closed off to contradictory information as he resolutely refuses to consider it.
Bill Brown talks about the episodes of shouting down of earnest dissenters by the proponents of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). He points to a need for resurgence of reason and rational people and some positive signs on that front. Read his whole article for an informed and rational viewpoint of the issue.