It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Falsifiability cuts the Other Way

Lifted verbatim from the IJI with thanks & apologies:
It turns out, however, that Pielke Jr. is a proponent of the idea that the global warming theory is a conspiracy — or something like a conspiracy. And if there’s one thing we know about conspiracy theories, it’s that they tend to be unfalsifiable. Let’s look at Pielke Jr.’s theory:

Today’s scientists could oppose research whose funding is predicated on the claim that action depends on further reduction of uncertainties. The effect in both cases would be to remove science as a cause of gridlock and to make viable new lines of research that would better support the needs of society.

Such a quixotic response is of course unlikely, not simply because it would require scientists to argue against their own professional self-interest, but also because it would reveal the amazing incoherence of our current approach to connecting climate policy and science.

Given that climate scientists aren’t actually claiming that “action depends on further reduction of uncertainties” — indeed, James Hansen argued the opposite — I wonder what potential observations will convince Pielke Jr. that scientists aren’t engaged in a conspiracy to secure funding!

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