Why are We Moving Backwards?

Another take on it is here: “Why the right goes nuclear on global warming” by Jonathan Chait in the L A Times. I suppose that I should acknowledge that this article is what kicked off the thinking behind this blog.

I don’t always understand what point Roger Pielke is trying to make, but his
response to Chait’s article
is certainly coherent and interesting. I even agree with most of it, though I find it hard to figure where he gets his optimistic spin at the end.

Chris Mooney and Tim Lambert kick this cat around a bit without much effect, too. I find the most interesting thing about each of these blogs to be in the comments. See a refreshingly honest posting in Lambert’s log from “RightWinger” and a terrifyingly ignorant one in Mooney’s from “strangetruth”.

About the "consensus" thing

Very interesting article here making some of the same points I just made.

However, I think it misunderstands the nature of the discomfort with the idea of “consensus” though. I think the idea of scientific consensus is so important and central to the way we manage our common interests in a modern democracy that it must be defended. What’s more, I think it only needs defending because it is under attack.

We do come off as arrogant. I’m doing some thinking as to why. It surely isn’t because of what we do right, though. Imagine equally two great musicians, one arrogant, one not. What is the difference between them? Does the modest one not play beautiful music for fear of making hopeless piano-pounders like myself feel embarassed?

What we do as scientists is discover truth. We can’t be hiding that under a bushel barrel. You should fire all of us if claiming that we know how to discover knowledge is arrogance.

Consensus needs defending because “consensus” is one of the perfectly valid aspects of the scientific culture that is under attack. It is a delicate matter to defend it, because of all the various traps being set. However, this isn’t a point we can afford to concede.

While letting generations go by without acknowledging how carbon emisssions impact the planet and making some steps to change would be a travesty, it is hard to say that throwing science away altogether wouldn’t be worse. This isn’t bathwater we are throwing away, but let’s at least keep an eye on the baby, shall we?