Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What's your source for science? Do you question your sources?

In today's Palm Beach Post editorial section is a Commentary by Tom Harris of the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). From the ICSC Mission Statement:
The ICSC is a non-partisan group of independent scientists, economists and energy and policy experts who are working to promote better understanding of climate science and policy worldwide.
Mr. Tom Harris' commentary is thought provoking and the Palm Beach Post deserves kudos for publishing it. Here in Florida we're all-too-familiar with the 'science' of emotion and hype.

Here from the Commentary by Mr. Tom Harris from the ICSC:
Particularly misleading [in Climate science] is an error called “affirming the consequent.”

It works like this: “If my theory is true, then a logical consequence of that theory is that X should turn green. X does turn green. Hence my theory is true.” This is a deductive logical fallacy. Something unrelated to your theory could have caused X to turn green.

The belief that scientists discover truths, or as the United Nations often puts it, conclusions that are “unequivocal”, should be publicly refuted by intellectuals. Truth applies to mathematics but never to our findings about nature, which are merely educated opinions based on scientists’ interpretations of observations. Since observations always have some degree of uncertainty, they cannot prove anything true.
It may also be that intellectuals judge that acceptance of a particular point of view about the causes of climate change will encourage outcomes they support. Those who back nuclear power, alternative energy, pollution reduction, conservation, increased foreign aid, and social justice may therefore chose [sic] to not highlight the problems in the arguments of climate activists. Similarly, intellectuals who support the expanded use of hydrocarbon fuels to provide abundant, inexpensive electricity may elect to keep their opinions to themselves if they notice logical errors committed by skeptics.

But this is a slippery slope. If the aggressive and often irrational climate change debate is an indication of where we are headed concerning science-based public policy decisions, then we are in big trouble indeed.
Keep your mind open. Be skeptical of anyone who claims to have all the answers.