Thoughts on "Scientific Consensus."

Discussion in 'Environment' started by JohnStOnge, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. JohnStOnge
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    JohnStOnge Member

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    Here, as in the world at large, a lot of weight is put upon the idea that there is a "consensus" for the view that human activity is the primary reason for a perceived warming trend. People appear to think that having substantial majority of scientists in a field believe something means that the belief has to be correct.

    But that's a false premise. History is full of examples of cases in which "maverick" scientists who were in a small minority were either proven to be correct or came to be believed to have been correct. A discussion of that can be seen at Ridiculed science mavericks vindicated . I don't know much about the author, but I think that if you follow up on what he wrote you'll find it to be correct in terms of history.

    A quote:

    "As with the little child questioning the emperor's clothing, sometimes the entire scientific community is misguided and incompetent, and only the lone voice of the 'fringe' scientist is telling the truth.

    Below is a list of scientists who were reviled for their crackpottery, only to be later proven correct. Todays science texts are dishonest to the extent that they hide the huge mistakes made by the scientific community. They rarely discuss the acts of intellectual suppression directed at the following researchers by colleague."


    I agree wholeheartedly. I also think that people of today display something akin to a "scientist worship." It's as though they don't think human beings have biases when they become recognized as "scientists."

    I found that web page while looking for articles on Barry Marshall. Dr. Marshall was the first to think that bacteria could cause stomach disease. His belief was ridculed at first but was eventually accepted (see Barry Marshall Biography -- Academy of Achievement ).

    Some will say that's an example of science correcting itself; and it is. But there's a key difference between the situation Dr. Marshall was in and the situation those who deviate from the "global warming" consensus are in. Dr. Marshall's beliefs could be tested through controlled experimentation; and controlled experimentation eventually proved him to be correct. A quote from the last link I posted:

    "When he was invited to attend a medical conference in Dallas, Texas in 1985, he repeated his assertions of the bacterial cause of gastric illness and challenged the audience of medical scientists to prove him wrong. Before long, experiments in the United States and elsewhere, many designed to refute his hypothesis, were in fact confirming it."


    That's the problem with the humankind-as-cause global warming thing. No experiment can be designed to test it. Instead, it's all based on what models have to say about what is thought about what would happen if only "natural" factors were involved vs. what would happen if human activity is included.
     
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    Last edited: Feb 21, 2009
  2. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    John, what bullshit. Yes, there is an experiment that can prove the theory of AGW, and we are performing it right now. You are not going to like the results.
     
  3. JohnStOnge
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    JohnStOnge Member

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    There is no experiment in this case because, whatever happens, there will be no opportunity to compare it to another actual scenario.

    Otherwise, do you disagree with the assertion that there have been a number of times in history when the "scientific consensus" on a particular issue at a particular time turned out to be either proven to be wrong or later considered to be wrong?
     
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  4. alan1
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    alan1 USMB Mod Staff Member Supporting Member

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    hey John, you are being politically incorrect as defined by the current acceptable media standards, therefore, you are a dick.
    :clap2:
     
  5. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    There have been many times that the consensus was wrong. My favorite is that of the Bretz Floods. But Bretz had the evidence all in his favor. In this case, all the evidence, from Physics to Geology, says that AGW is real.
     
  6. Chris
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    Chris Gold Member

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  7. RetiredGySgt
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    RetiredGySgt Platinum Member

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    As CO2 increases in the atmosphere it has a diminishing effect on the retention of heat. In other words after a certain point more does not increase the potential for heat as much as the previous amounts did. But hey who cares about actual science when we are being politically correct.

    There is also a growing body of Scientists willing to speak out about the hoax of "man made" global warming.
     
  8. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    Site your sources for the diminishing effect. The American Institute of Physics states otherwise;
    The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect

    Really? And who might they be? And which scientific societies have changed their stand on AGW? Which National Academies of Science? And which major university?
     
  9. Chris
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    Why don't you provide a link to the "actual science?"
     
  10. JohnStOnge
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    JohnStOnge Member

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    As far as I can tell, what Tyndall proved experimentally is that certain gases absorb heat. That is not the same as proving that the estimated increases in "greenhouse gases" attributable to human activity account for the estimated increase in Earth temperatures. It is not a situation where there was a rock and a "blanket" of gases was added to it. It is a situation in which a "living" planet was already covered by a "blanket" of gases and characterized by all kinds of processes scientists may or may not fully understand or even recognize.

    What's being debated isn't whether or not gases like CO2 and methane absorb heat. What's being debated is whether or not an humankind emitting gases like CO2 and methane of amounts X1 and X2 will result in a global temperature rise of Y (with some bound of error around the estimate). No experiment has been conducted, nor can any experiment be conducted, to validate the models being used to do that. Again, even the IPCC has stated that experiments with the Earth's climate system that are impossible to conduct would be necessary to accomplish what it calls "unequivocal attribution."

    Back to the point, though: The point is that it's fallacy to assume a view has to be true because it's the "consensus" view among scientists in a field. I think it's especially important to bear that in mind when you're dealing with a situation in which controlled experiments cannot be employed to validate contentions by either side of the debate.
     

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