Sunday, January 13, 2008

the problem of too much bullshit

Here is my attempt to explain the problem of too much bullshit in the global warming issue:
The other thing that struck me about the debate on global warming is that both sides are so obviously full of shit. I presume there is lots of truth buried beneath the steaming mounds of manure, but I’m not dedicated enough to dig it out
- Dilbert, Global Warming – Part 2

1) Some represent the interests of the oil or coal industry either directly or as part of their world view

2) Some are green ideologues, this goes deep - requires further explanation

3) Some desire certainty or closure. Human and scientific history contains many examples of "the making of very bold claims on the basis of less than comprehensive evidence" (Waller, p. 99)

4) Contrarianism appeals to some, the idea of the rugged individual who stands out from the crowd

5) Both Alarmist or Denialist positions gain more attention and sell better in the media. The current reality may well be that to obtain media attention you have to take either an alarmist or denialist position

6) Not only do we have to deal with a scientific question (what is the situation) but also what to do about it.

For example: If the problem is rapid warming and if the reason is increased anthropogenic CO2 then it does not follow logically that the only solution is to reduce human production of CO2.

The science of the problem itself is contentious. The science of different solutions is relatively unexplored.

7) It is not only a scientific question but an economic (cost-benefit) and philosophical question (attitudes to development and sustainability)

8) To approach scientific objectivity on a complex question, which this is, requires much time and effort. Most people will either go with the media (the worst thing to do) or look around for an expert that they can trust (quite difficult in this case to find one)

In my view the real crisis is not global warming but the problem of cultural malaise about what is required to find the truth. If we were serious about finding the truth we would be demanding far more of our mass media.

Einstein's Luck: The Truth Behind Some of the Greatest Scientific Discoveries (2002) by John Waller