(Nederlandse versie hier)
Have you ever heard of Newton’s theory of gravity? Well, it’s all made-up nonsense. You’ve been fooled.
The reasoning goes as follows:
- According to the theory of gravity, objects should fall to the Earth’ surface.
- That bird in the sky remains there, without falling.
- Theory of gravity is wrong.
This reasoning bears a lot of resemblance to the following, equally strong reasoning that falsifies the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW):
- According to AGW, CO2 controls the climate.
- For the past 10 years, global temperature remained more or less steady whereas CO2 levels went up.
- AGW theory is wrong.
Voila, problem solved. If only it were that simple…
What’s wrong with these arguments? They sound so logical at first sight.
- The theory to be falsified has been oversimplified. (There are more forces than only gravity; there are more factors influencing climate than only CO2).
- The observation has been oversimplified. (The bird has wings which can be used to exert an upward force; the expected trend in temperature does not necessarily rise above the expected level of yearly variability over the course of a decade).
- Therefore the conclusion does not hold.
It appears that a lot of “skeptics” start with their desired conclusion and work back to which part-observations and simplifications are needed to get there. I prefer not to fall either, but the fact is, observing a bird in the sky doesn’t disprove gravity. Whether we want to or not, we’ll have to learn through falling and getting up.
Update: Gravity has apparently been shown to be a hoax based on Newton’s private correspondence being released.