A Comment About Climate “Science”
Posted by greg2213 on August 16, 2010
JoNova has some fun with one of the clueless climate wags, but it’s in the comments that some other interesting things pop up. Once is about how science is performed, which is appropriate since the wag she’s poking obviously has no clue about science or logic.
Those of us in the modern world tend to ridicule the beliefs of “less advanced” people, favoring our own. The commenter makes an excellent point:
In the upper Brazilian jungle, there lives a tribe of indians known as “Os povos da galinha da torneira” – literally, “The people of the cockerel”.
They get this name because they worship the male cockerel, for it is the cockerel who gets up before dawn, and crows loudly enough to wake the sun and cause it to rise at the start of the day, warming the people and causing the plants to grow.
Now, if civilised and educated people of the west have read thus far, you will probably be thinking that these are uncivilised savages with little or no understanding of how the world really works – no understanding of science.
But let us pause to apply the scientific method to their belief system. They have amassed observations over time, and have established a correlation between the cockerel crowing and the sun coming up. They have also identified causation, because the cockerel always crows before the sun rises. Furthermore, they can demonstrate the mechanism, in that the cockerel has to crow loudly enough, and long enough to wake the sun. What they have not done, is to consider the null hypothesis, that the sun would rise anyway, even if the cockerel did not crow.
So our unsophisticated indians demonstrate four of the five requirements for the scientific method. Eighty percent – not a bad score for uncivilised savages.
So let us compare their performance against, say, climate scientists. Climate scientists have amassed observations over time, and have established a correlation between an increase in global temperature and the level of atmospheric carbon. But they have difficulties in identifying causation, because the global temperature always varies ahead of the levels of atmospheric carbon, but they want to believe that the causation affect is the other way around – that atmospheric carbon variations precede global temperature variations. They also cannot demonstrate the mechanism whereby the causation occurs (presumably because they have the causation wrong). And finally, what they also have not done, is to consider the null hypothesis, that the changes in atmospheric carbon, and the changes in global temperature, are simply natural variations.
So climate scientists correctly demonstrate two of the five requirements for the scientific method. They score forty percent – not as good as the uncivilised savages, and hardly a pass mark.
Now, what were we saying about people having little or no understanding of how the world really works – no understanding of science?
We should all keep in mind that we know what we do because someone told us and we “learned” it, same as the people of that Indian tribe. Is it too much to ask that our scientists spend a bit more effort to get their facts and theories straight and a bit less effort on ridiculing those who disagree?