Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Science of Denial

Why do so many religious people deny climate change is happening?


free0352 said...

I think the first person to get me questioning "global warming" was a lecture I saw given by Michael Crichton called Aliens Cause Global Warming.

Some of its highlights-

"I want to
discuss the history of several widely-publicized beliefs and to point to what I consider an
emerging crisis in the whole enterprise of science—namely the increasingly uneasy relationship
between hard science and public policy."

"I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called
consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that
ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first
refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your
wallet, because you’re being had."

"When did “skeptic” become a dirty word in science? When did a skeptic require quotation marks
around it? To an outsider, the most significant innovation in the global warming controversy is the overt reliance that is being placed on models. Back in the days of nuclear winter, computer models
were invoked to add weight to a conclusion: “These results are derived with the help of a
computer model.” But now, large-scale computer models are seen as generating data in
themselves. No longer are models judged by how well they reproduce data from the real world—
increasingly, models provide the data. As if they were themselves a reality. And indeed they are,
when we are projecting forward. There can be no observational data about the year 2100. There
are only model runs.
This fascination with computer models is something I understand very well. Richard Feynmann
called it a disease. I fear he is right. Because only if you spend a lot of time looking at a
computer screen can you arrive at the complex point where the global warming debate now
stands. Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we’re asked to believe a
prediction that goes out 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that
prediction? Has everybody lost their minds?"

free0352 said...

Well, that got me thinking. I thought that can't be right. Surely those advocating climate change theory have used great and appropriate data collection techniques and solid peer review. Well, I was wrong and Michael Crichton was right. In fact, every benchmark given by the climate change crew has been wrong. They have a 100% failure rate. This has even lead James Lovelock, a man known as the "fater of climate change theory," to recant.

He even admitted to being alarmist and that he and other climate scientists had extrapolated way, way to far.

The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time… it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising -- carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that,” he added.

With a legacy of failed predictions, outright scientific fraud,, and many reputable scientists who more and more question the claims of those who rely on computer models, an objective person can only conclude this is hardly "settled science" and we certainly should not be making public policy based on a theory that has been proven to be inaccurate so consistently.

As a matter of fact, the more people try and use the "flat earther" argument against climate skeptics the more skeptical I become. If the theory had any merit, Al Gore's flashy movie, name calling, and elitism would not be a necessary tactic. But as more holes are punched in the climate change contention, a corresponding cadence of name calling, guilt tactics and general hysterics increases. An objective person would say- "Hey, lets look at this because its a good thing if these climate people are wrong and Florida won't drown." but no, you never hear that. What you hear instead, is fanatical brow beating of any skeptical arguement that sounds like an inquisition more than scientific thought.

T. Paine said...

Free, that is definitely a excellent summary of the problem from Chrichton.

It is funny how even the former head of Green Peace now admits that this is largely a hoax and how the "research" being done via East Anglia and their accidentally released emails proved that the "pro-global warming" scientific community was cherry picking or manufacturing data to support their hypothesis.

I have no problem adjusting public policy if there is strong evidence to support anthropogenic global warming, but when the data doesn't support it, how come these same scientists don't follow the truth and admit to it? I think we all know the answer there too.

Snave said...

Sorry Michael Crichton (you were a good author and I enjoyed your books up until the last two or three), but if the majority of research leads to common conclusions, how can it lead to anything but consensus? If so, why is that "pernicious"? It just means that those who disagree with the majority can be cranky about it, and those who follow those people can claim they're being put upon by governments, persecuted by "liberals", etc.

If there are people out there with positions of authority who say there is no such thing as anthropogenic global warming, there are those who will latch onto that because it has all been so politicized. I see examples of that on this forum.

Now to get back on track, which in this case means to actually discuss Jim's question.

Yes, there is an "increasingly uneasy relationship between hard science and public policy" as Crichton states. But this happens as science itself continually faces increased opposition, as the American right wing has married itself to religion. Speaking from personal experience, much of what drives the hatred for science is Darwin's theory of evolution. Also, more generally, science is not about being a proponent of the kinds of miracles one reads about in the Bible. Science doesn't have as much room for faith, and often times just has room for hard evidence. Does it have room for the God of the Bible, or for deities in general? Not as much as many people would like. This puts science at odds with an American right wing that increasingly devalues science and its contributions.

This is one way in which I believe religious fundamentalism can be detrimental to societies. A lot of this is seen in societies based on Islam, but some of it goes on here in America too.

What better ally than religion in keeping expensive science-based solutions to our problems down?

The party or ideology that is more geared toward the self and the preservation of wealth will be the one that is against doing things that cost money for the purpose of helping the big picture. And because it would cost too many people too much money to take real measures to slow such a thing as global warming caused by humans, and because human nature is what it is, I believe that slowing it to a standstill is never likely to happen.

On the other hand, if there are things that can be done to help the planet to be a cleaner and safer place to live, why are so many people seemingly against that, and why so many in our country... and why are those who are more religious against such things, and why is our nation's first religious political party against such things? That brings it back to Jim's question.

However we slice it, I think it is time to get the politics out of science, which in turn (at least in this country) will help keep religion out of science too. Science and religion can (and need to) do a better job of co-existing.

T. Paine said...

Snave, I find myself in agreement with some of what you say. I particularly agree that it is time to get the politics out of science. (Ironically I think that AGW is exactly that.)

Further, while many fundamentalist Christian faiths do act as you have stated, I find my own Catholic faith to be very much in synchronization with science. Indeed, it is science that informs and strengthens my faith in God. Were you aware that it was the Catholic Church that founded the university system and the scientific method? Science and faith do not have to be a dichotomy. Indeed they can (and DO) reinforce each other.

free0352 said...

but if the majority of research leads to common conclusions

Actually it doesn't. Almost the entire theory is based on computer models... models that when fed known data from the past cannot reproduce the conditions we have clearly recorded. Instead what you get is ever more wildly speculative claims.

But this happens as science itself continually faces increased opposition, as the American right wing has married itself to religion.

Excuse me, no. Pat Robertson no less made a commercial with none other than Al Sharpton specifically addressing their support of climate change theory, none other than the Pope has endorsed it as well. That is flatly false.

Science doesn't have as much room for faith

Unless that scientist is having "faith" in his computer model and has a government research grant.

I'd argue. as Crichton did that the real religion at work here is radical environmentalism. I would contend that more faith beliefs are coming out of the environmentalist movement than all the rest of the world's religions combined.

On the other hand, if there are things that can be done to help the planet to be a cleaner and safer place to live, why are so many people seemingly against that

Again, totally baseless and totally false. Fact is, Republican hunters are the greatest force in conservationism today. More actual land has been preserved, saved and cleaned by bird and dear hunters than Green Peace ever dreamed of doing. Nobody is for dirty water. Hey, rich people drink the water too. Fact is, no, we don't consider CO2 a deadly gas because there frankly isn't very good evidence its heating up this planet. As a matter of fact, the Earth has been both far colder and far, far warmer before the human race existed. Humans account for less than 2% of the worlds CO2 anyway. Most of it come from... the ocean.