Breaking Bread Edition #4 on Climate Change will be recorded this Monday at the NCTV studios. The issues discussion program will be hosted by Eric Tombs and I will be one of Eric’s guests. Climate change is, of course, today’s more acceptable term for global warming, specifically man-made or anthropogenic GW, specifically correctable AGW, and specifically ‘We just gotta do SOMETHING!!!’ AGW. We had a pre-taping session the other day during which the strong argument of the true believers was again presented – consensus science. When it was pointed out that 1) there is no consensus science on AGW, and 2) consensus science should send up red flags and wailing sirens whenever it is cited, things got a little heated.
What really nudged me to post on this was Matt Ridley’s Mind and Matter column in the 6jul13 WSJ titled ‘Science is about Evidence NOT Consensus’. (Sadly, this is Dr Ridley’s last regular column for the WSJ. The distinguished author and member of the House of Lords is returning to his many other pursuits. I shall miss him.) Ridley uses climate change as his example to teach how scientific propositions should be evaluated. RR readers are well aware of his arguments which have made not a dent in some commenters beliefs on the matter.
Well, at our BB4 meeting it became clear that ‘Consensus Über Alles’ will be the one and only redoubt from which the adherents of climate change will sally forth. The format of BB properly prohibits participants launching ad homonyms against their opposite numbers. It is a forum where ideas are explained, and where ideas may then contend on their own merits. However, today this topic is so asymmetrically supported by reason that it was suggested there should be no attempt to discredit consensus science if that is all one could muster to support energetic public policies to combat AGW. The short of it was that opinions based on warm fuzzies should weigh equally with those more formidably armed - after all, are we not all equal? But not to worry dear reader, the proposal did not carry.
Matt Ridley’s swansong admonitions are worthy recounting as we prepare for the 2,047,619th ‘discussion’ on climate change.
…the "consensus" about climate change only extends to the propositions that it has been happening and is partly man-made, both of which I readily agree with. Forecasts show huge uncertainty.
…science does not respect consensus. There was once widespread agreement about phlogiston (a nonexistent element said to be a crucial part of combustion), eugenics, the impossibility of continental drift, the idea that genes were made of protein (not DNA) and stomach ulcers were caused by stress, and so forth—all of which proved false. Science, Richard Feynman once said, is "the belief in the ignorance of experts."
So, yes, it is the evidence that persuades me whether a theory is right or wrong, and no, I could not care less what the "consensus" says.
The article is too short, but well worth the read.
[11jul13 update] We taped BB4 last Monday (8jul13) evening at NCTV, and apparently it has already been aired, and will be again. For the next showings please visit NCTV here. It will soon be available for online viewing on the Breaking Bread website.
[19jul13 update] Remaining BB4 broadcast from NCTV are:
Thursday 7/18/2013, 6:00 PM, Channel 11Sunday 7/21/2013, 5:00 PM, Channel 11
Monday 7/22/2013, 9:30 AM, Channel 11
No word yet on when it will appear on line.
[26jul13 update] The video of BB4 is archived and can be found on this page of the NCTV website filed under 18 July programs - or you can simply search the page (Ctrl F) with 'Breaking Bread'.