Contempt for science

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Some Marc Morano “wisdom” brought to us via Eli Rabett:

(update: This comes from DenialDepot, a satirical website making fun of Morano, though it reflects his thinking pretty well. Thanks Anders and Eli for pointing it out. I’ll keep the post up since its message is still valid.)

I believe that one day all science will be done on blogs because we bloggers are natural skeptics, disbelieving the mainstream and accepting the possibility of any alternative idea.

We stand unimpressed by “textbooks”, “peer review journals” and so-called “facts”. There are no facts, just informed ideas. We are infinitely small compared to nature and can’t grasp anything as certain as a fact.

Let me get this straight: Science is better done by Joe Schmoe than by trained professionals, because Joe doesn’t trust professionals and instead will accept any idea or explanation, no matter how stupid (as long as it confirms their preconceived notion, of course).

So schools: throw away those textbooks! Teach using blogs instead! That will be the return of creationism in the classroom, of how HIV doesn’t cause AIDS and how greenhouse gases don’t influence climate! Free at last, free from the accumulated knowledge as condensed in those textbooks! Let’s go by uninformed ideas instead.

The thing is: Expertise matters. When it concerns your health, you trust a doctor’s opinion more than that of a software engineer. It is not unreasonable to trust a climate scientist more than a doctor when it concerns climate. Of course this is not proof, but there is a difference in likelihood of them knowing what they’re talking about. People know best what they’ve studied the most is a very sensible rule of thumb.

If they would hold the same contempt for their medical doctors as they have for scientists, their health would probably suffer. But at least the consequences for their contempt would fall solely on their own shoulders. With global climate change it’s different.

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13 Responses to “Contempt for science”

  1. Anders Emretsson Says:

    Hey,
    The quote sums up Morano pretty well, but it’s actually not from him – it’s from Denial Depot. Satire.

  2. Eli Rabett Says:

    Sorry, that is denialdepot, not Marc. Denial Depot is a hoot and a spoof.

    I trapped Morano’s comment back to DD because I did not want to link to his site and I wanted to move some of the denialists to look at the mirror. Didn’t mean to trap you.

    Apologies, but I don’t think that I am going to change the link. It is now official Rabett Run policy to link all Moranoisms to DD. Be warmed

  3. Bart Says:

    Whoops, thanks.
    I took your post to be a Morano-quote, didn’t spot the denialdepot source (which I knew of before). Well, the message is still valid. The satirical version is not very far off from the real thing.

  4. JamesG Says:

    The trouble is that to be an expert you have to have a good track record of being right. A lot of climate hysteria claims have been proven wrong. Some were theoretically wrong in the first place like the gulf stream ice age nonsense touted widely by Woods Hole. While others have been proven wrong by the climate metric that was supposed to prove the alarmist case in the first place – the supposedly out of control global temperature. Other claims about climate effects have been obviously exaggerated to way beyond what the science says and others are just plain guesswork (eg hurricanes and other extreme events), where there isn’t even a consensus that anything is changing at all but some scientists like to pretend there is.

    So yes I trust my doctor when he admits he doesn’t know what’s wrong but he’ll do tests and find out and I trust him when he accepts what the data tells him and I trust him when he has a history of being proven right. I wouldn’t trust him if he said i had a fever but I could easily check for myself that I didn’t: I’d think he was a quack. And that’s what we have in climate science – too many obvious quacks that we just can’t trust. They need to clean up their act and ditch the press-release, pseudo-science.

  5. Bart Says:

    JamesG,

    There most definitely is a very strong consensus in the relevant scientific community that current climate change is predominantly man-made (see eg https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2008/06/14/how-do-we-know-theres-a-consensus-and-why-does-it-matter/ and http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf)

    You basically accuse a whole scientific field of existing of quacks. Besides the obvious insult that it is, it smells like a conspiracy theory of the most improbable kind.

    As to the doctor’s analogy, you don’t seem to like his diagnosis of a severe illness, which happens to be backed up by pretty much 98 out of 100 doctors, and you frantically look for those one or two doctors who tell you that ‘it’s just a little fever that will pass by itself’. Sleep well, buddy.

    Some specifics:

    Take a look at global temperatures since the pre industrial revolution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming). It happens to be very well reproduced by models (if, and only if, anthropogenic climate forcings are included besides the natural forcings).

    If anything, many observed changes are going faster than predicted (e.g. Arctic sea ice disappearing).

    There never was a scientific consensus predicting global cooling http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2F2008BAMS2370.1&ct=1

    See also http://skepticalscience.com/argument.php for a thorough debunking of various misleading claims.

  6. Robert Grumbine Says:

    JamesG; So far, all the ‘climate hysteria’ claims I’ve seen people point to were not being made by the scientists in that area. Bad media reporting, or lying by biased sources, about what the scientists did have to say accounts for it all. Rather like blaming your doctor for a media report that eating tuna will prevent all cancer. He never said such a silly thing.

    As Bart gives the link for, for example, the claims about ‘imminent ice age’ in the 1970s were media things, not from the science.

  7. Mark Bahner Says:

    Amazing. You post something headlined, “Contempt for science” that you (mis)represent to be something written by Marc Morano.

    Then when it’s pointed out that Marc Morano did NOT write it, you claim, “Well, the message is still valid.”

    Amazing. And I’m guessing you don’t even see the irony.

  8. Bart Says:

    Mark,
    As Anders pointed out, the quote sums up Morano pretty well (even though it’s not literally his). Just see how he bashes pretty much anything climate science has to say about the topic of climate change. His implicit accusations of hoax, fraud, bias and what not, to the address of a whole scientific community, reek like total contempt for (climate) science. It’s a very sad, and very dangerous attitude indeed.

  9. Marion Delgado Says:

    What JamesG is doing is not at all like second-guessing a doctor. It’s more like disputing the germ theory of disease because historically epidemiologists have made incorrect claims. And since it doesn’t matter which way the claims went, that would include the incorrect claim that virtually all ulcers were stress-related and not bacterial.

    “Once you said stress, now you say germs, who knows what you’ll say next decade? Centuries ago you said humors, now you say bacteria and viruses and prions. I’ll stick to herbs and bloodletting, thanks very much.”

  10. Ray Says:

    Warmies are in effect asking us to undergo a major operation without a conclusive diagnosis.

  11. Bart Says:

    Ray,
    I like your medical analogy, but I think the more apt version goes as I noted above:

    You don’t seem to like your doctor’s diagnosis of a severe illness, which happens to be backed up by pretty much 98 out of 100 doctors, and you frantically look for those one or two doctors who tell you that it’s just a little fever that will pass by itself.

  12. Heiko Gerhauser Says:

    I have read in many places, and find it quite believable that doctors are quite moved by personal self interest without even realising it themselves. For example, because my father in law has recently undergone by-pass operation I looked at some research comparing survival rates in a Swedish and a US place, and that while the by-pass surgery was recommended ten times as often in the US, the survival rates after a year were higher in Sweden, ie US doctors chose a costly treatment even when the net health impact, at least as measured by the one year survival rate, was negative.
    Another example was that somewhere in Texas where there are many specialists, they get used twice as much as in some other part of the US, but on no health outcome is there a measurable difference. They just generate demand as required.

    I am careful with analogies. Health care is health care, and climate change climate change.

    One of the sad things about health care is that you very rarely get second, let alone 100 independent opinions. Both on cost and quality it is often (and not just in the US) very hard for patients to make any judgement, including on the majority expert opinion part.

    So, if you are in hopsital and a doctor says in so many words you must have by-pass surgery or you’ll die, are you really going to go to other doctors or the peer reviewed literature and find out that a) by-pass surgery is quite expensive and b) it is not a “do the surgery and you’ll live, don’t do it, and you’die” thing, more a in a best case the one year survival rate moves from 80 to 90% sort of thing, and there are awfully many circumstances, and yours is actually one of them, where it moves from 85 to 83% sort of thing.

  13. Bart Says:

    Heiko,
    I think you could be right, and in that way the analogy breaks down (as in science, there usually isn’t a personal interest in a specific outcome).
    I still find it an appealing analogy to use however, as there are many similarities that make it useful.

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