More Precognitive Dreams
Breakfast at the Beeb

Bias and Climate Change

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.

Comments

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There is a deeper conspiracy about climate destabilization. The modeling is so complex that super computers are relied on and "quantum chaos" is the science used. Quantum chaos means that the computers create the logic through reiterations. Steve Strogatz, a quantum chaos mathematician, warned about this in 2006 for the Edge science journal -- no longer is human rational argument in control of science. The computers are in control and the computers don't care about ecology, etc. That's why there can be no real proof for global warming, etc. -- the means to measure the change are creating the same change as the effect of measurement. Rational human thinking, in fact, has never been "pure" -- just as global warming has been traced back to the rise of human agriculture.

I believe that the hot-button issue over climate change is whether or not it is created by mankind, or at least, exacerbated by us humans. Kinda like how the real issue in the evolution/creationist/ID fight is the natural selection part.

Sure, there are those that claim that nothing unusual is happening with the overall climate, but to me at least, something does seem to be 'going on'. It could be a natural cycle impacted by still-unknown natural forces, it could be my imagination influenced by the press, or it could be the Sun pitching a fit - who knows? As you point out Robert, there are too many hidden agenda's behind the fact search.

Other big issues are over how we respond. Carbon and Methane controls could destroy economy's (some say it will, some posit the opposite), and technological responses could backfire and make things worse.

Damifino :-)

"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."

There's a lot of interesting work being done on this. The Overcoming Bias and Less Wrong blogs are interesting, though one has to wrestle with their authors' obsessions.

http://www.overcomingbias.com/

http://lesswrong.com/

I believe there is something going on, there does seem to be enough proof for that. And I believe human activities are at least partly behind the changes. Exactly how big are the changes going to be, and how big the human influence really is are where I start to doubt the official stand, that just seems way too sure to be taken seriously considering how difficult such chaotic systems presumably are to figure out.

I also happen to think that probably the better response would be to figure out how to best adjust to the changes, rather than to eliminate them, mostly because I don't have much faith on our ability to do the latter. Besides, climate does change, so with or without human help that will happen sooner or later anyway so wouldn't it be better to try and get enough elasticity (or whatever the proper English term for that in this case would be, English is not my first language) into our systems so that we will not end up with a disaster every time things do change?

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