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View Diary: Book Review: Unscientific America (351 comments)

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  •  Lack of Rational, Respectful Discussion is the (1+ / 0-)
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    problem here.

    And books like this don't appear to further the dialogue in a constructive manner.

    Frankly, with the % of people who believe in God/10K/evolution remaining constant since 1982, I'm not sure I see the point in raising the alarms on the 'loss of science' and the 'taking over of religious extremists'.  Maybe I need to read the book to get a better flavor.

    You know, in this case, it's actually the global warming skeptics who come across as the more rational folks... often just poking holes in the assertions of more rabid global warming alarmists to say 'are you really sure about this before we kill the economy based on your model output?'.  

    The fact is, there is some uncertainty about climate science... like any other forecast.  Most of the derision out there come the side of folks who insist 'believe my model or you don't believe in science'.  To me, that sounds more extreme than anything else.

    •  I cringe when people equate man-made global (0+ / 0-)

      warming skeptics to people who think the earth is flat or who deny the halocaust.  Some may be that stupid, but nobody can deny that there are a growing number of scientists who have bucked the trend and are now skeptics. I also cringe when I hear people claim "the debate is over" and we have reached a "consensus" about the cause of global warming.  Since when does the scientific method rely on a "consensus" for its findings?

      •  I cringe when I hear anyone repeat (4+ / 0-)

        the themes that

        there are a growing number of scientists who have bucked the trend and are now skeptics. I also cringe when I hear people claim "the debate is over" and we have reached a "consensus" about the cause of global warming.  Since when does the scientific method rely on a "consensus" for its findings?

        The debate IS over, and there is no growing number of scientists who debate anthropogenic global warming. You've been duped by the increasing crescendo of paranoid reactions by corporate profiteers and fundie creationists.
        You also have little sense of how the scientific method works. Contrary to the biblical and fascist methods of infallibility, the empirical scientific method relies on cross-checking of data and conclusions reached across a spectrum of investigations to reach a tentative agreement, which is continually subject to further investigation, but as long as the major scientific organizations agree on a theory, there is consensus that qualifies as knowledge.

        "Grandiosity is just another way we lie to ourselves." -Kunstler

        by howardfromUSA on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 11:42:30 AM PDT

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        •  That's a good one about "infallibility". (0+ / 0-)

          There was a time in our history when the "consensus" was that the earth was the center of the universe, and if anyone spoke to the contrary, they would be hit with such logic like "the debate is over" or otherwise ridiculed.  Turning a blind eye to any new evidence or new data regarding global warming by proclaiming "the debate is over" is very unscientific.  And when you mention the concept of "infallibility", I hope that you don't consider the "consensus of scientists" as infallible.

          •  You are demonstrating scientific illiteracy (3+ / 0-)
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            Helena Handbag, Doc Sarvis, psfinla

            And you seem unable to comprehend what I just wrote.
            Public consensus is not the same as scientific consensus, although even scientific consensus can be influenced by the general public consensus.
            The IPCC doesn't itself conduct research, but the scientists that make up the IPCC do that work. The IPCC is a clearing house where ALL the credible studies are gathered and considered. These are highly conservative scientists who don't by habit or tradition arrive at alarming forecasts. That's why the IPCC has consistently under-estimated the effects of global warming. Their governments by far would prefer they would report that global warming is not happening, so to think they have been corrupted to say it is and is caused by humans doesn't fit the tendencies of governments. Can you think of reasons why Exxon, for example, would want to make people believe that there is no such thing as global warming? Now can you imagine Exxon's dedication to the scientific process compared to selling oil? Now can you imagine the funding spent by Exxon to make the case publicly that global warming is not happening? There is no counter-balance to that level of spending, except that enough of the public is educated in the scientific method to recognize when good science is being presented. However, enough of the public is not educated in the scientific method that they are easily manipulated to believe that global warming is a hoax. The key is a healthy skepticism, to demand evidence and peer-reviewed conclusions, combined with an appreciation of the overall weight of the evidence. Sorry to sound preachy, but it's completely crazy to be saying the vast consensus of the entire scientific community could be in on some giant hoax. That's not how it works.
            So we're stuck. As individuals we all have the right to distrust others' motives, react against novel social values like environmentalism, and to be skeptical of any scientifically tested assessment of what we're doing to the foundations of life (clean air and water, livable temperatures, productive oceans, etc). We don't have to go along with changes in our behavior that are needed to protect and restore those foundations for the foreseeable future. The dominant social value for the past few hundred years of Western civilization has been individual freedom.

            Unfortunately, however, the call for individual freedom is amplified in much of mainstream media today by emphasizing distrust of society, especially when new ideas call for changes in our behavior beyond our comfort zone. The resulting negativity overwhelms our overall ability to respond in an organized, coordinated way to the physical realities of climate and habitat degradation that increasingly damage our biological processes, i.e., our ability to continue to live.

            If a solid core of individuals insist, as a group (in a form of groupthink), on distrusting the scientific results that call for behavioral adaptations, and choose to doubt the motives of other individuals who are in positions to organize the needed adaptations, then as a society we can't act in a coordinated way to make those adaptations, and we will suffer the forecasted calamaties of habitat destruction and global warming that result from doing business as usual.

            In our society you are not required to help solve environmental issues or to even understand the situation, and you are free to agree with the major industrial and regressive organizations that are actively manipulating public opinion to doubt the scientific conclusions and the motivations of public officials.

            We all have the freedom to refuse to help, but unfortunately for all of us those misinformation campaigns are effectively preventing an adaptive response on a scale that addresses the enormity of current trends on the ground and in the oceans.

            Ironically our individuality is not lost when we see the need to support efforts to restore natural productivity, even when we need to reduce our industrial productivity and consumption to do so. In fact taking care of our own habitat is a good way to express and develop our individuality. It's an excellent way to to think, articulate, and live our own life. Think of it as singing revolving solos in a band while keeping with the beat and enjoying everyone else's voices too. It's a way to bring beauty and harmony into the world.

            "Grandiosity is just another way we lie to ourselves." -Kunstler

            by howardfromUSA on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 04:48:09 PM PDT

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        •  Look, the jury is still out on this, it is (0+ / 0-)
          not a certainty. Something like 3,000+ scientists dispute anthropocentric "global warming." In actuality, temperatures have been going down. You don't determine facts by consensus, it's done by verifiable experimentation. And even if there is man-caused global warming, India and China have told the rest of the planet to fuck off. So no matter what we do, it's all for naught. Only a lunatic would turn our economy upside down for no demonstrable benefit. It must be a truly global solution or none at all.
          •  Temperatures going down? (1+ / 0-)
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            What planet do you live on?

          •  Those 3,000 names were assembled by the oil lobby (4+ / 0-)

            Most of them are not climate scientists, and many objected to being on that list. India and China are made of rock. They are humans with their eyes open wider than the corporate ownership of America and the many who accept their sales pitch.
            You are repeating, word for word, the phoney points put forth by the industry whose only interest is to sell the most possible oil in the shortest possible time.
            But ignorance is bliss.

            "Grandiosity is just another way we lie to ourselves." -Kunstler

            by howardfromUSA on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 04:54:32 PM PDT

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            •  No, no, no, I'm not talking about the oil lobby (0+ / 0-)

              stooges. My father-in-law is a retired astronomer/astrophysicist--and member of the British Royal Academy (one step below the Nobel Prize)--and he tells me that sunspot activity, over which we have absolutely NO control, has more of an effect on earth's climate than anything we do or do not do here on earth.

              He is not some creationist wingnut. He spent a great of his career as an astronomer at Mauna Kea and Haleakala in Hawai`i, and at Tucson, Ariz. He's an absolute, total egghead genius. (You feel like a monkey after talking to him!) If he says the data is inconclusive, then it's inconclusive.

              But even so, what good is there with cap and trade if the major polluters in the world don't give a shit?  

              •  Then your father should explain why (2+ / 0-)
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                RandomActsOfReason, HoopJones

                the IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, NOAA, and every professional scientific academy and organization worldwide, and every peer-reviewed scientific paper on global warming, have somehow neglected to take your father's sunspots into consideration.
                The major polluters of the world ARE beginning to give a shit, except for Exxon (and big oil), GM (and big auto), Monsanto (and big chem), ADM (and big ag), Goldman Sachs (and big banks, while preparing to exploit cap&trade), US Chamber of Commerce, tourism industry, airlines, and neo-cons and libertarians opposed to Europe, the UN, global treaties, and government at all except when used to intimidate foreigners to give up their resources; and all their bogus think tanks and the media conglomerates that put phony assertions on TV as "balance."
                I don't know which of those your reputed father is among, but he's not a reputable scientist.

                "Grandiosity is just another way we lie to ourselves." -Kunstler

                by howardfromUSA on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 10:20:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  You may be entirely sincere (1+ / 0-)
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                but if so you just don't know where your denialist talking points are coming from. Your father may seem that smart to you, but the scientific community is trained in skepticism and weighing the evidence in the forums of professional discourse. The sunspot theory has been tested and thrown out.

                "Grandiosity is just another way we lie to ourselves." -Kunstler

                by howardfromUSA on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 10:54:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Please ask your father to consult (2+ / 0-)
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                RandomActsOfReason, HoopJones

                That's the best clearinghouse for all those theories and all the denialist talking points. If your father is a real scientist rather than an authoritarian who knows better than his peers, he'll learn how to put the sunspot theory into its proper context.

                "Grandiosity is just another way we lie to ourselves." -Kunstler

                by howardfromUSA on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 11:40:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  IPCC report & level of certainty (0+ / 0-)

                  Howard, What I'm talking about (and maybe others) is the fact that these reports by the IPCC are filled with appropriate references to a degree of uncertainty.  The talking points for too many people, however, fails to properly acknowledge this uncertainty.

                  For example, the estimated range of anthropogenic radiative forcing within the IPCC's reports is quite high.  And these estimates don't include every factor.  And they're based on one type of approach and methodology --- yes, it's a consensus on the best approach and methodology... doesn't mean that it it certainly the best approach and methodology for estimating this impact.

                  Unfortunately, a few die-hard scientists, but primarily non-scientists, choose to make the argument like so:  "It is indisputable that we're a key driver of potentially deadly global warming.  If you don't believe me you're ignoring science."

                  I would think that a more effective rallying cry would be... pretty much anything else.  Insulting the group that you're trying to convince isn't so effective.

                  Why can't folks take the tack of "Science has determined that we're very likely screwing up our planet... instead of rolling the dice to wait until we're wrong and since it takes so many years for us to change... we should try to change, now.."?

              •  Sunsot activity =~ 0 (1+ / 0-)
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                Your father-in-law is lying to you.

                I don't know why, and honestly I don't really care, but solar activity is well-studied and is not the cause of current climate change. These thousands of people working on this are not idiots. They've considered the possibility that the sun is getting hotter. Actually, they've considered it for decades. It ain't. Earth is, though...

                •  Thanks for the input. I will visit that website (0+ / 0-)

                  mentioned above and next time I see my father-in-law (usually only two or three times a year), I will confront him with that data.

                  He is an inveterate sceptic in all things. So I suppose if the majority goes along with anthropocentric global warming, he'll try to find anything to go against the grain, it's just his nature to buck the prevailing orthodoxy.

                  Politically, he is very progressive. In fact, his opinions on global warming are really in glaring contrast to everything else, which is why I think he must sincerely believe his position.

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