Thursday, February 02, 2012

An apposite comparison?

I'm not a strong believer in Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. I'm a professional skeptic and cynic about authority. Tamsin Edwards has a new post up, were I would probably be categorised as a "lukewarmer". But the methods used to force the debate, especially the "you're not a published climate scientist so you can't comment" really grate, especially when:

  1. They are never applied to CAGW supporters such as Monbiot (journalist and polemic) or Gore (professional hereditary politician and some-time journalist).
  2. People are commenting within their field of expertise - be it statistics, economics, computer modelling or atmospheric physics.
  3. The CAGW gurus seem to spend a lot of time and effort making sure that climate scientists with diverging opinions don't get published.
But, there we go. That seems to be the way this particular niche in science goes at them moment. Until, Luboš Motl (a theoretical physicist, not a climate scientist) came up with a fairly telling analogy:

Climate alarmism and astrology

However, I want to make one more important point. The specialization may be a good thing but too specialized disciplines run a much higher risk that they could be totally wrong: the whole discipline could be based on a misconception. What do I mean?

What I mean is that the comment "We're just like the heart surgeons and you shouldn't ask anyone else" may also be exploited by the astrologers, if I pick a specific example of a discipline that is almost generally accepted as a pseudoscience.

An astrologer could tell you: "I am the only expert in astrology. I have been doing horoscopes for 40 years and earned millions of dollars by doing so. The astronomers and biologists who wrote an article that disagreed with me aren't really certified experts in astrology. You should better listen to astrologers when they're talking about the impact of planets and about the horoscopes; everyone else is a layman."

And I really think he has a very valid point. I'm not saying that climate science is as wrong as astrology, that (all) climate scientists are as mendacious as astrologers. But the "how dare you disagree" point is debunked. Astrology was considered valid for far longer than real science has been ...

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