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

Thursday, August 14, 2008

More from Holdren

Dot Earth has a follow-up to the John Holdren op-ed which I referenced a few days ago.

Especially salient in my opinion:
As my original reference to “the venerable tradition of skepticism” indicates, I am in fact well aware of its valuable and indeed fundamental role in the practice of science. Skeptical views, clearly stated and soundly based, tend to promote healthy re-examination of premises, additional ways to test hypotheses and theories, and refinement of explanations and arguments. And it does happen from time to time – although less often than most casual observers suppose – that views initially held only by skeptics end up overturning and replacing what had been the “mainstream” view.

Appreciation for this positive role of scientific skepticism, however, should not lead to uncritical embrace of the deplorable practices characterizing what much of has been masquerading as appropriate skepticism in the climate-science domain. These practices include refusal to acknowledge the existence of large bodies of relevant evidence (such as the proposition that there is no basis for implicating carbon dioxide in the global-average temperature increases observed over the past century); the relentless recycling of arguments in public forums that have long since been persuasively discredited in the scientific literature (such as the attribution of the observed global temperature trends to urban-heat island effects or artifacts of statistical method); the pernicious suggestion that not knowing everything about a phenomenon (such as the role of cloudiness in a warming world) is the same as knowing nothing about it; and the attribution of the views of thousands of members of the mainstream climate-science community to “mass hysteria” or deliberate propagation of a “hoax”.

The purveying of propositions like these by a few scientists who do or should know better –and their parroting by amateur skeptics who lack the scientific background or the motivation to figure out what’s wrong with them – are what I was inveighing against in the op-ed and will continue to inveigh against.
Emphasis added, in the typographical sense. (It seems, at last, that something sufficiently emphatic is at least making it into the orbit of a major newspaper.)

Comments are off for this posting. Please respond at Dot Earth.