Ken at PopeHat wrote the following:
As a result of my laziness, I am willfully ignorant — practically innumerate and scientifically demi-literate. Thus, when I evaluate the scientific issues of the day — from global warming to evolution — I am, on some level, succumbing to an argument from authority. Which people spouting science I barely grasp, using methodology I can’t follow past the Sunday-supplement level, do I believe?
As it happens, I find the evidence (as I understand it) of evolution to be very substantially more convincing than the criticisms levied against it. Similarly, I find the evidence of a global warming trend more convincing than the evidence and arguments to the contrary. The weight of consensus on one side or the other is one factor, though by no means a deciding factor. The whys and wherefores of that are far beyond the scope of this post.
I offered the following comment, reproduced here in case it gets lost in moderation:
Here’s the lazy man’s unscientific guide to why the anthropogenic global warming (human caused global warming) crowd is not worth listening to.
1: If the people who claimed they believe in it actually did believe in it, it would affect their actions, and their lives.
Al Gore, nevertheless, had a house in Nashville TN that used 20x the average amount of energy. Further, he had a swimming pool, and did not have a solar heater for teh swimming pool, even though solar heaters are cost effective. Would he act that way if he actually thought there was a problem?
Or, consider this. As a logical matter it is simply not possible to believe all four of the following things. Nevertheless, those trumpeting that “we must do something” tend to hold all four beliefs:
A: The world is warming up
B: This warming is caused by human activity
C: This warming is a bad thing, will lead to disaster, it’s a serious crisis, we must cut down on carbon emissions right now!
D: We should not make it easier, cheaper, and faster to build nuclear power plants, despite the fact that replacing coal, oil, and gas fired power plants with nuclear plants would lead to a significant and near immediate decrease in carbon emissions.
2: ClimateGate. Real science is reproducible. If you publish a paper claiming that you got certain results, and no one else can get those same results doing what you said you did, the immediate assumption in scientific circles is that you have committed fraud. This is why, when you publish a scientific paper, you have to give pretty much anyone who asks everything they need to re-create your work.
This is non-negotiable in pretty much every area of science (and pretty much every area of research. Remember Michael Bellesiles and Arming America”? His fraud was discovered when those who disagreed with him tried to replicate his research, and couldn’t).
Except for Climate “Science”. ClimateGate happened because the people at CRU fought tooth and nail to avoid having to release the data, tools, and methods behind their published papers. Post release, they’ve admitted that they can not replicate the data behind their papers.
None of the “scientific” groups that claim to release historical temperature records have ever given a full release of the data, tools, and methods behind their claims. None of them have ever said “here’s the data we used, here’s what we did to clean up and organize the data, here’s the programs (with source code) we used to do it.”
If they were not perpetrating fraud, they would have done that. It’s what any real scientist would do after publishing a paper based on a data set that they’d worked on. But if they did that, then people who do understand the science would be able to examine their assumptions. Would be able to point out how other, perfectly reasonable, ways of adjusting the data would lead to results that totally contradict the “scientists” preferred results.
How do I know that’s true? Because if it wasn’t true, there would be no reason not to release the data.
3: When last I checked the numbers, there was a heating trend of 1 degree C from 1900 to 1950, a cooling trend of 0.5 degrees C from 1950 to 1970, a warming trend of 0.3 degrees C from 1970 to 1998, and a flat to cooling trend since then. Going from that to “Human industrial activity is warming the planet, oh woe is us” requires a great ability to ignore any data that contradicts your preferred fantasy.
Kudos to DougJ for drawing the line just right so he could ignore all the inconvenient data.