I have to admit that it is easier grumbling about a discipline you don’t understand than defending the one you do. I hope that our economic discussions here don’t look to economists the way Watts Up does to climatologists, and I would really welcome participation by mainstream economists, even to the point of shooting down most of what most of us say, if they had the patience to explain themselves.
Now, Watts, on the other hand, actually tends to remove the most effective counterarguments from his stream. And Liljegren, though scrupulous about including them, eventually decides that one is among those to whom one should be consistently rude and dismissive, thereby discouraging participation. At McIntyre’s, that’s left to the fans.
So I am left following the skeptics at Curry’s and Kloor’s. Although much of what they say and do strikes me as strange, they do create an environment where participation by someone like myself is not harshly punished.
I am concerned that, as an economics skeptic, I not end up acting as an economics denialist. I encourage readers to be as polite to newcomers to the conversation as they would be to a human being entering a room, because that is, after all, what is happening. Cogent opposition is the most valuable commodity around.
Of course, the trouble is that non-cogent opposition is much easier to come by, and occasionally hard to get rid of. But being explicitly rude and hostile even to positions you feel have no merit creates an environment where ideas don’t get adequately challenged. Saying what you think is not enough. It’s best to say what you think and then turn around and doubt it as effectively as you can – to be your own skeptic.
To the extent that we (the numerate climate blog community) meander into territory in which we have little experience, it’s possible that we get things badly wrong. We should welcome attempts at correction from people who are steeped in these matters. In politics, it’s best to ignore or deflect effective challenges. In science, it’s best to welcome them. Above all, the principle this site espouses is that there is a need to bring the scientific culture into policy. I think we should be kind to each other as people and as hard on our own ideas as on each other’s.