Recent posts attacking climate change sceptics bugged a few readers, who accused of me of just the kind of bias I complain of in psi-sceptics (Jan 25, Feb 9). We 'Warmists' just can't distinguish true science from false. It's true I don't know much about the science of global warming. I just go with my gut instinct and the majority opinion. So I started to wonder whether I should make more of an effort to understand it.
After all, that's what I did years ago when I started reading about psychic research. And it really opened my eyes, as it has for many people. Perhaps if I got to grips with the data on global warming I'd come round to the sceptics way of thinking. But it would be a huge job. Isn't there someone who can do it for me?
Along comes Richard Muller, a Berkeley physicist who has been working on a large-scale project to provide an independent assessment of global warming. His team is using new computer tools and more data than has been used before to try to provide an objective view. He says in an interview:
We are bringing the spirit of science back to a subject that has become too argumentative and too contentious. We are an independent, non-political, non-partisan group. We will gather the data, do the analysis, present the results and make all of it available. There will be no spin, whatever find... We are doing this because it is the most important project in the world today. Nothing else comes close.
There are already three heavyweight groups that publish climate data: Nasa's Goddard Institute, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and one led by the UK's met office. So why do we need another? Muller says their data is incomplete and the science lacks transparency. There's also the fact of the Climategate emails scandal, which tarnished the credibility of climate scientists.
But assuming he doesn't sit on the fence, someone is going to lose out. And when that happens, are they simply going to give up? 'You know I used to think global warming was a fascist/communist conspiracy to create a world government and rob me and my family of our precious freedoms. But that Muller fellow has really set me straight. What's the weather doing?'
I don't think so, and neither apparently does anyone else, although there's plenty of praise for Muller's initiative in principle. One person quoted in the article says, 'There are people you are never going to change. They have their beliefs and they're not going to back away from them.'
I think most of us here think that about psi-sceptics, but they also think it about us. Changing perceptions isn't just about the science, it's about understanding the psychological factors that create biases and factoring them into the equation. I'd like to see Muller's project address that, but somehow I don't think it will.