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Forrest Mims: Skepticism now gone from science

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At at Watt’s Up with That:

Traditional science required a skeptical view of one’s own findings until they could be replicated, especially by others. Unfortunately, skepticism has been deleted from the latest edition of “On Being a Scientist,” a widely-read booklet published by the National Academies of Science. When I asked the NAS about this unfortunate deletion, they explained there was insufficient space to include this fundamental aspect of doing science. Yet I counted nearly 10 pages of white space in the new edition.

Despite the NAS change, I’ll continue to view science, including mine, through a veil of skepticism. That’s why I am concerned about what has become of the global warming/climate change movement, which is rapidly assuming the status of a paradigm that is automatically assumed correct by many of those unfamiliar with the science. More.

Yes, but there is surely a bigger issue. Why has “skepticism” in general come to seem not so much healthy doubt but a perverse denial of the obvious in favor of naturalism.

See also:Forrest Mims (who should know) on Scientific American’s recent PC police swoop

10 Replies to “Forrest Mims: Skepticism now gone from science

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Healthy skepticism is open to persuasion. There are anti-evolutionists and global warming denialists and anti-vaxxers who, rightly or wrongly, give the impression that nothing could ever sway them from their conviction that their chosen scientific bete noire is completely and utterly wrong, that the scientists who support them are either fools – so stupid they cannot see a truth that is obvious to any amateur – or knaves – engaged in a worldwide conspiracy to promote a theory the actually know to be false.

  2. 2

    Seversky @ 1: You make a good point, and I think the point could be equally made with the following changes:

    Replace “anti-evolutionists” with “evolutionists”

    Replace “global warming denialists” with “global warming believers”

    Replace “anti-vaxxers” with “vaxxers”

  3. 3
    rvb8 says:

    TWSYF,

    I understand your denial of evolution and maybe even global warming. But you are also a believer that vaccinations are harmful?

    So the smallpox vaccination first used by Edward Jenner in 1796, didn’t start the global shrinking of this disease to the point today when it has been erradicated?

    You think children are harmed by measle and rubella vaccinations?

    If you think vaccination doesn’t work that would be great. It would prove once and for all that your opinions really are worthless.

  4. 4
    groovamos says:

    Seversky: global warming denialists

    Now there’s a quite scientific term for you. In fact two of them. “denialist” and “global warming”.

    Hey seversky how has there been scientific proof of a link between human activity and climte? I want proof, you know of the scientific kind. Do it right here, absolute causal effect of human activity. Do it, no obfuscation please.

  5. 5
    Eric Anderson says:

    groovamos:

    Rather than requiring a knock-down proof, the initial question might be whether someone can even articulate the position accurately. Specifically, let’s ask Seversky the following, much more simple questions:

    1. What is a global warming denialist?

    2. And does that definition appropriately apply to the primary well-known skeptics of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming?

    3. Why or why not?

    —–

    That said, I do agree with most of what Seversky observed @1. Certainly there are plenty of people in these categories.

    However, one might ask (as Truth Will Set You Free noted @2) whether any similar attitudes exist on the other side of the fence. And if so, why would the NAS call for a deletion of the concept of healthy skepticism? The offered reason could be true, but seems a little too convenient. Was it perhaps political or pragmatic? An attempt to circle the wagons and avoid giving fodder to opponents?

  6. 6
    rvb8 says:

    groovamos, EA,

    people drive cars, they use electricity, they dig holes in the earth, they will approach 8 billion in population by 2023.

    The cars produce global warming gasses, the electricity needs oil and coal to turn turbines, the oil and coal release global warming gasses.

    CO2 is a clobal warming gas, which warms the planet, and the 8 billion people need this energy;we know this, it is settled science.

    Therefore when we know that CO2 is a global warming gas, and we know humans need the transportation, and heat, light, and cooling of machines that use the electricity produced by the global warming practice of burning the fossil fuels, the CAUSAL link is made.

    Or do you need the planet to be burned to a crisp so your children, and grand children will loathe you, and curse your willful denial to hell.

  7. 7
    Eric Anderson says:

    Or do you need the planet to be burned to a crisp so your children, and grand children will loathe you, and curse your willful denial to hell.

    What on Earth are you raving about?

    How did you get from an observation that there are a lot of people producing CO2, or even from a claim of human-caused warming, to the absurd idea of the planet being “burned to a crisp”? You aren’t even being rational.

    I’ll give you a second try: answer the three questions I posed @5, and then we’ll know whether you are capable of a rational discussion on this topic.

  8. 8
    groovamos says:

    RVB Therefore when we know that CO2 is a global warming gas

    Oh really? I thought it was Arrhenius who postulated the reasoning behind greenhouse gases in 1895!

    What you leftist scaremongers, who have never seen a destroyed planet, or one burned to a crisp, never discuss is the one molecule that exists in 3 phases in the atmosphere, H2O.

    Arrhenius did not work this one out for you. H2O is the big bugaboo for silly climate models made by people who have no clue as to the truly infinite configurations of atmospheric H2O in the regulation of the climate.

    Look at it this way: as ocean water warms it releases dissolved gases into the atmosphere including CO2 plus H2O vapor. This should be a positive feedback mechanism leading to a runaway thermal instability since more CO2 would SUPPOSEDLY feed the process. But it isn’t happening. There have been no calamities, no massive die off of humanity. In fact, in the Western hemisphere, fewer calamities.

    You guys lose. The runaway instability isn’t happening. Something is stopping it and you guys have no clue.

  9. 9
    rvb8 says:

    groovamos,

    “leftist scaremongers”, really, that is how you want to present the idea that CO2, and man’s activity on the planet are not related?

    Listen, perhaps you’re right, maybe CO2 produced by man’s activities on earth, and increased global temperatures are not related.

    But, if that is sincerely your position once again, just as in the non-argument for design, you have to produce hard evidence.

    Evidence such as antarctic ice cores dating back thousands of years noting an increase in ppm, of CO2. Confirmed by seperate cores taken in Greenland.

    Or, lake and esturine mud core samples which back up the findings of the ice core samples. These lake and esturine cores have the added evidence of pollen grain residue, which tells us very plainly, that different cold weather species lived in the areas where newer warm weather species exist today.

    groov, this is not, ‘leftist scaremongers’ attention grabbing, this, like evolutionary biology is sound, evidence based science; what’ve you got?

  10. 10
    Eric Anderson says:

    So CO2 and man’s activities are related. Let’s assume that is true. That isn’t scaremongering.

    What might be scaremongering is shrill “planet burned to a crisp” rhetoric. Doesn’t that sound a bit more like scaremongering than rational discussion of the evidence.

    And still we wait for answers to the fundamental questions posed @5 . . .

    It is astounding how instead of addressing the real issues we get talking point after talking point, with nary a solid piece of evidence ever offered for the more grandiose claims. And yes, that refers to both of your preferred theories you keep mentioning.

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