Friday, September 03, 2010

A headline worth pondering

Here you go:

Global Warming Deniers Aren't "Experts" At All: It's Time for a New View of Science

Here's an excerpt that really caught my attention:

The sociologist Michael Smithson has pointed out that all social relations are trust relations. We trust other people to do things for us that we can’t or don’t want to do ourselves. Even legal contracts involve a degree of trust, because the person involved could always flee to Venezuela. If we don’t trust others or don’t want to relinquish control, we can often do things for ourselves. We can cook our own food, clean our own homes, do our own taxes, wash our own cars, even school our own children. But we cannot do our own science.*

So it comes to this: we must trust our scientific experts on matters of science, because there isn’t a workable alternative. And because scientists are not (in most cases) licensed, we need to pay attention to who the experts actually are -- by asking questions about their credentials, their past and current research, the venues in which they are subjecting their claims to scrutiny, and the sources of financial support they are receiving.

And here's another statement we need to ponder:

All scientific work is incomplete— whether it be observational or experimental. All scientific work is liable to be upset or modified by advancing knowledge. That does not confer upon us a freedom to ignore the knowledge we already have, to postpone action that it appears to demand at a given time.

You know, I wonder if the climate change deniers out there would refuse a heart by pass operation if they needed one. Probably not. And what they're not considering is that the very same scientific principles that make such surgery possible also tell us that we are in serious danger of driving ourselves into extinction by the way we are treating the earth.

I really do recommend that you click through and read the whole article. There are some nuances and particulars discussed that really can't be captured in a couple of short excerpts.

* (Emphasis mine)
UPDATE: Here's a Sierra Club page entitled "TEN POPULAR MYTHS About Global Climate Change". Definitely worth spending some time with.

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