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parmenides3

Why do you not trust the experts?

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This is a serious question, which I want to try to understand. We place our trust in experts of all kinds, all the time. Our society is both technological and scientific, filled with the products of experts; cars, aircraft, computers, etc...

But when it comes to climate change, a frequent discussion which comes up is that the experts are/might be/could be wrong, so a person is sceptical about what they are being told.

Why? Is there something special about the people who do climate science which makes their expertise somehow different? Is it not the experts, but the politicians who you distrust? Assuming you have actually read some of the relevant material, like the IPCC AR4 SPM (the Summary for Policy Makers), what is it about the conclusions which makes you feel that you don't believe them?

I know this is an invitation for people to have a 'rant', but it is an important issue inside climate science at the moment. Sometimes, i feel like I can see what a person is distrustful of, and can offer a response; often, debates (those circular threads of which we are so fond) end up boiling down to the conclusion that the person concerned doesn't believe that the IPCC (or any one of a number of 'bodies') is right.

So, now is your chance; what's wrong with the experts who are telling us that our climate is changing because of human activity and that the climate will warm more, that if we don't take action to slow down the rate at which we are affecting the climate, the consequences down the line are very likely to be deadly for some and damaging for many others?

Oh; and let's try and keep it civilised, shall we?

:)P

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Righty-ho, then - I'll have a pop at this one :whistling:

Let's just clear up one major point right from the get-go: Science isn't about Trust.

Climate Science differs from the examples you give (cars, aircraft, computers etc.) in that it is not a science with practical applications - it isn't technology; it's far more abstract that that. We "trust" cars, aircraft and computers because they have a proven track-record of working, and even when they don't work properly it's because of some flaw in their manufacture rather than because of some flaw in the concept. And there's the difference: Sciences such as Climate Science are conceptual frameworks and, as such, are far more open to interpretation, and far more open to being right or wrong, than physical technological applications.

So, Science isn't about Trust; it's about the analysis and interpretation of Facts and Data, and it is particularly in the interpretation area that contention arises. You will find the same kind of "Believer" and "Skeptic" divisions in just about any abstract science. The difference is that most people on the street don't give a fig about quantum physics or evolutionary theory - people are made to think about climate change by politicians, the media, environmental groups and even scientists. And so the average person on the street is in the position where they are having to make a determination of the accuracy of a conceptual science, whcih is something that the average person on the street has never done before.

Furthermore, people take this subject very seriously because it does have a significant impact on their day-to-day lives. Superstring Theory can be right or wrong and it won't make any noticeable difference to anyone's income, expenditure or way of life. AGW Theory, though, has already been responsible for changes to our way of life. Recycling more can only be a good thing, but the push to get people to recycle more and more has had a negative impact upon a lot of people. Petrol prices are rising for a variety of reasons, but not least because the government can get away with levying more taxes on the basis that cars damage the environment, but it makes life harder for a great many people.

Finally (for now) there's the fact that AGW is far from proven. There are many questions yet to be answered, there are assertions that don't seem to quite fit, and there are people picking away at aspects of the theory which, if the theory were truly robust, they wouldn't even be able to pick at. There are too many potential alternatives, or obstacles, or contradictions to the accepted view of AGW for it to be something which I can agree with, and I know that others feel the same way, some of whom are scientists and many of whom are not.

I'm not overly interested in the "What Should We Do About It?" arguments because I think it is important to discuss the validity of the science itself, regardless of the knock-on effects. Often we seem to end up chasing our own tails only to end with the comment "But what's wrong with living better lives?" Well, there's nothing wrong with living better lives, recycling more, polluting less and so on and so forth, but we shouldn't be forced to do it to our detriment. Then the issue becomes one of politics and policy, and that's where these debates tend to get really ugly!

Is that any help?

;)

CB

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To turn the question on it's head,why do adherants of AGW theory dismiss the mountainous body of evidence from the respected sources who are not in the employ of government ( whom I most certainly do not trust ),and who cite natural influence as the cause of any climate change? I guess it all boils down to how an individual interprets the imformation at his/her disposal and,yes there is invariably some bias involved. Quite how one can verify any particular sources integrity (apart from the blatantly obvious nonsense ) is a tricky one.

Belated congrats by the way,P3!

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Righty-ho, then - I'll have a pop at this one :whistling:

Let's just clear up one major point right from the get-go: Science isn't about Trust.

Climate Science differs from the examples you give (cars, aircraft, computers etc.) in that it is not a science with practical applications - it isn't technology; it's far more abstract that that. We "trust" cars, aircraft and computers because they have a proven track-record of working, and even when they don't work properly it's because of some flaw in their manufacture rather than because of some flaw in the concept. And there's the difference: Sciences such as Climate Science are conceptual frameworks and, as such, are far more open to interpretation, and far more open to being right or wrong, than physical technological applications.

So, Science isn't about Trust; it's about the analysis and interpretation of Facts and Data, and it is particularly in the interpretation area that contention arises. You will find the same kind of "Believer" and "Skeptic" divisions in just about any abstract science. The difference is that most people on the street don't give a fig about quantum physics or evolutionary theory - people are made to think about climate change by politicians, the media, environmental groups and even scientists. And so the average person on the street is in the position where they are having to make a determination of the accuracy of a conceptual science, whcih is something that the average person on the street has never done before.

Furthermore, people take this subject very seriously because it does have a significant impact on their day-to-day lives. Superstring Theory can be right or wrong and it won't make any noticeable difference to anyone's income, expenditure or way of life. AGW Theory, though, has already been responsible for changes to our way of life. Recycling more can only be a good thing, but the push to get people to recycle more and more has had a negative impact upon a lot of people. Petrol prices are rising for a variety of reasons, but not least because the government can get away with levying more taxes on the basis that cars damage the environment, but it makes life harder for a great many people.

Finally (for now) there's the fact that AGW is far from proven. There are many questions yet to be answered, there are assertions that don't seem to quite fit, and there are people picking away at aspects of the theory which, if the theory were truly robust, they wouldn't even be able to pick at. There are too many potential alternatives, or obstacles, or contradictions to the accepted view of AGW for it to be something which I can agree with, and I know that others feel the same way, some of whom are scientists and many of whom are not.

I'm not overly interested in the "What Should We Do About It?" arguments because I think it is important to discuss the validity of the science itself, regardless of the knock-on effects. Often we seem to end up chasing our own tails only to end with the comment "But what's wrong with living better lives?" Well, there's nothing wrong with living better lives, recycling more, polluting less and so on and so forth, but we shouldn't be forced to do it to our detriment. Then the issue becomes one of politics and policy, and that's where these debates tend to get really ugly!

Is that any help?

;)

CB

Interesting.

I'm forced to live a on planet who's atmosphere and climate are being changed against my wishes. Why are my views on such matters less important than, say, yours?

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Interesting.

I'm forced to live a on planet who's atmosphere and climate are being changed against my wishes. Why are my views on such matters less important than, say, yours?

I'm sorry, I don't quite see what you're getting at here. It's not a question of whose views are more important. It's about who is right. I'm not suggesting that skeptics' views are somehow more important than yours, and I'm not sure where you got that insinuation from... If you'd care to clarify then maybe I can explain.

CB

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Interesting.

I'm forced to live a on planet who's atmosphere and climate are being changed against my wishes. Why are my views on such matters less important than, say, yours?

I don't think that anyone thinks your views are any less important but the thread is titled.. 'Why do you not trust the experts?, What makes climate change different?'

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I'm sorry, I don't quite see what you're getting at here. It's not a question of whose views are more important. It's about who is right. I'm not suggesting that skeptics' views are somehow more important than yours, and I'm not sure where you got that insinuation from... If you'd care to clarify then maybe I can explain.

CB

CB, you said "Well, there's nothing wrong with living better lives, recycling more, polluting less and so on and so forth, but we shouldn't be forced to do it to our detriment", your view I think? Fine, no problem, I just point out that the consequence of that (not of you alone, but of millions not being 'forced') is I'm 'forced' to live on a planet with a changed atmosphere and climate.

It's not insinuating, it was just a question that came to mind when I read your post: who's right not to be forced comes first and why? One persons not 'forced' may well be 'forcing' something on someone else - that's all.

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I would trust the scientists for the same reason that I trust pilots to fly me safely from A to B, ski instructors to judge my ability to ski a piste that I would not on my own consider, and doctors to treat my illnesses.

I disagree with C-Bob's view that climate science is so markedly different from other sciences. It is, simply, the scale that makes climatic modelling difficult. In simple terms it is a fluid science, and the principles that apply to the the thermodynamic design of, say, the heating of a large public auditorium, apply no differently in climate: the complication is the large range of input factors. However, let's not allow scale to be a case for dismissing capability. Twnety years ago the processing power simply was not there to do anything other than simple modelling. Now we are many orders of magnitude on in processing power so that we can compute multiple scanarios, to a much more finely resolved grid (in all three dimensions) and with ever evolving knowledge, and - which is important - an increasing record of actual behaviour mirroring generally that that would be expected.

The reasons for people to doubt are the same reasons that always apply. Most behaviour is based upon a weighing of the odds: the benefit of actions vs the cost of action. At present the situation is one in which the benefits are long term and the behaviour change required to effect any change is short term. Additionally, we're in a buffer zone at present: something might be happening but the effects aren't really that marked in terms of every day effect. Snow fanatics see a bit less snow, but they can blame "unlucky synoptics", and there's always 'Ice Age Now' for those who are never going to believe anything other than a view along the lines of "The Day After Tomorrow". There is also the argument that 'if I change others won't, so why should I bother'. It's a normal human response, and it won't change for a while, and then only when either Governments mandate it, or the situation changes such that denial is no longer an option.

To Laserguy's point about why the 'supporters' of GW don't challenge the arguments put forward by the doubters. They do, but as several of us keep observing, most of what's put forward is lacking any data or robustness.

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CB, you said "Well, there's nothing wrong with living better lives, recycling more, polluting less and so on and so forth, but we shouldn't be forced to do it to our detriment", your view I think? Fine, no problem, I just point out that the consequence of that (not of you alone, but of millions not being 'forced') is I'm 'forced' to live on a planet with a changed atmosphere and climate.

It's not insinuating, it was just a question that came to mind when I read your post: who's right not to be forced comes first and why? One persons not 'forced' may well be 'forcing' something on someone else - that's all.

Ah, I see - what I was doing was highlighting an opinion that makes the issue so pertinent to the average person on the street. It is this kind of thing that makes climate science differ from most other sciences, because sciences such as quantum physics don't have the same influence over people's day-to-day lives. I was in no way suggesting that this view was superior to any other view.

In response to SF, I am not saying that climate science is markedly different from other sciences. In fact I am saying the exact opposite - climate science is like any other conceptual science, which means that it is far more interpretive than a science which involves technological applications (such as mechanical engineering).

The difference between scientists and pilots or ski instructors is that science (conceptual science) is far more vague than mechanics - there is demonstrably a right way and a wrong way to fly a plane: if the plane takes off, flies and lands safely then you're doing it the right way; if it crashes then you're doing it the wrong way; there really isn't any room for interpretation. Same kind of thing with skiing - if you can stay on your feet then you're doing it right; if you slide down the piste on your bum then you're doing it wrong. There are subtleties that can be employed in both piloting and skiiing, but they are variations on a theme - there is far more scope for interpretation in conceptual science.

CB

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CB, you said "Well, there's nothing wrong with living better lives, recycling more, polluting less and so on and so forth, but we shouldn't be forced to do it to our detriment", your view I think? Fine, no problem, I just point out that the consequence of that (not of you alone, but of millions not being 'forced') is I'm 'forced' to live on a planet with a changed atmosphere and climate.

It's not insinuating, it was just a question that came to mind when I read your post: who's right not to be forced comes first and why? One persons not 'forced' may well be 'forcing' something on someone else - that's all.

So ask the question by creating a new thread Dev.

Post the question here. http://www.netweather.tv/forum/index.php?showtopic=40751

We need to keep things separate so we can clearly see what people are struggling to understand.

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...Well, there's nothing wrong with living better lives, recycling more, polluting less and so on and so forth, but we shouldn't be forced to do it to our detriment. Then the issue becomes one of politics and policy, and that's where these debates tend to get really ugly!

Is that any help?

:whistling:

CB

I can see where Dev is coming from. I would pose what I think is his question a different way. You seem to be suggesting that you would be willing to live a, let's say, more eco-friendly life so long as there was no additional cost to you. The question is, over what time period is cost measured?

Would you be willing to save more now for a future pension, even though that would give you less expendable income here and now. Why save for a car when you can buy on credit? Of course, buying on credit means you attract interest, so that £10k you spend ends up costing, say, £20k. The flip side is you have the car now, rather than waiting the year or so it would take you to save the money.

This question is at the heart of the point I made just above. Climate change is a long term game, and it will continue like a cancer, slowly eating into long established global norms. There is an analogy we often use with our clients: if you drop a frog into boiling water it will jump out; if you put it in cold water and turn the gas on it will boil to death. The point is that slow change is easy to deny, it's convenient to put off until tomorrow the action we might take, because today it's not going to bring any benefit, but it sure will bring me a bit of disbenefit.

What's interesting is that the significant body of disquiet on N-W that coalesces around personal economic sacrifice doesn't spot that much the same already goes on. All the taxes you pay do not find their way back to you. Tax is simply a way of redistributing wealth, from the 'haves' to the 'have nots'. Left to your own devices, if you could choose which utility services you receive, many of you would choose an extra week's holiday abroad over say, street lighting; you'd sacrifice weekly bin collections for the price of a new TV; you'd almost certainly refuse to pay for social services, particularly if you're young and in good health, if the money could afford you new furniture, or a new kitchen. And before you cry foul, how many of you have home insurance? How many have comprehensive cover on your car? How many have life assurance for you and your partner? I was surprised during coverage of the summer floods how many householders had NOT taken out insurance.

The human condition, for a whole host of reasons, prioritises the present over the future; one of the objectives of any Government is to adjudicate over the longer term as well. If that means using tax to drive behaviour, because it is the only - albeit blunt - instrument available, then so be it. Sometimes, it is the only way of changing the behaviour of the individual so that it aligns with the COMMON good.

It is a potential tragedy of GW that its impacts will be felt differently, in different places, at different times. So, C-B, I can forgive you not wanting to change your behaviour now if there's a cost to you in doing so but no immediate benefit, for you. But what about the people of the Maldives, who might be first to lose their nation state to rising sea levels? Who's looking after them, because I'm damn sure they aren't adding their full quota of carbon to the problem.

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I can see where Dev is coming from. I would pose what I think is his question a different way. You seem to be suggesting that you would be willing to live a, let's say, more eco-friendly life so long as there was no additional cost to you. The question is, over what time period is cost measured?...So, C-B, I can forgive you not wanting to change your behaviour now if there's a cost to you in doing so but no immediate benefit, for you. But what about the people of the Maldives, who might be first to lose their nation state to rising sea levels? Who's looking after them, because I'm damn sure they aren't adding their full quota of carbon to the problem.

Um...you've missed the main thrust of my original post, which I thought I'd clarified with my response to Dev.

I was highlighting exactly how Climate Science has become an issue to average people, unlike any other conceptual science (which, let's be honest, most people don't give a fig about).

I also clearly (I thought) emphasised my position on the debate: namely that I am not really interested in discussing the policy/political aspects of the debate. I want to debate the science, preferably leaving the whole "what should we do" issue alone completely.

CB

PS - I'm quite happy to "change my behaviour now", but not if it's going to leave me, my wife and my three children living on the streets because I can't afford to keep a roof over our heads...so please don't patronise me with your "forgiveness"... :whistling:

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C-Bob: yes, that's an interesting response, and not one I suspect many would have come up with.

We have touched on the subject that climate science is like other scientific disciplines, with comparable strengths and weakenesses, before. I am not sure how much use a 'Philosophy of Science' discussion is going to have, though; this is a whole separate area/discipline in itself, and requires a lot of background knowledge to get involved in.

Do people really need to make an evaluation of a conceptual science, though? When discussions about nuclear energy come up, I don't see anyone challenging the science of nuclear physics, even though this is the foundation on which the possibility of nuclear power exists. Yes. I give 'practical' (perhaps we could say 'engineered') examples, but our lives are filled with technological products whose very existence is founded on the unchallenged assumption that the underlying science is competent to allow reliable engineering. Climate science is, after all, founded simply on long-term observation of weather and the patterns that appear from this (climate). Does the difference lie in the expectation of climate science that it has 'predictive skill'?

Your comment that 'AGW is far from proven' kind of begs the question, doesn't it? The 'experts' are telling us that 'the climate is warming and we are at largely responsible' is 'unequivocal'. This amounts to a claim that AGW is, as far as they are concerned, 'proven'. Of course there are still 'questions to be answered' and 'unsatisfactory aspects', but you yourself point out that this is true for all conceptual science, but it doesn't stop us from making use of what conclusions do exist, or of making/engineering things on the basis of the know science. You say there are '...too many potential alternatives, obstacles or contradictions...', but again, this is begging the question; this assumes that such alternatives, obstacles or apparent contradictions have not been considered sufficiently by the experts, or have not been answered by them. Do you feel you have a case for showing that they have done this?

I would argue that every one of the potential pitfalls which you mention has been addressed and considered, I can provide ample evidence to support this, and I can show that these issues, where they are issues, are taken into account when conclusions are reached. But when I do these things, the response I tend to get is to be ignored: very few people bother to respond to posts where I provide them with links to counter-evidence, or explanations of why an objection is wrong. I can only assume that this is because these people don't want to accept these responses and refutations. certainly, the same arguments arise again and again, and I rarely see evidence that people have actually looked at the arguments or evidence; they simply repeat the same points as before (you and jethro, and a few others, are notable exceptions).

In conclusion, then, I am suggesting that your principal comments 'beg the question'; you are effectively saying that you don't accept the science because you don't accept the science. Don't worry; I expect you to respond to this...

Hi Laserguy: and thanks for the congrats. You said:

To turn the question on it's head,why do adherants of AGW theory dismiss the mountainous body of evidence from the respected sources who are not in the employ of government ( whom I most certainly do not trust ),and who cite natural influence as the cause of any climate change? I guess it all boils down to how an individual interprets the imformation at his/her disposal and,yes there is invariably some bias involved. Quite how one can verify any particular sources integrity (apart from the blatantly obvious nonsense ) is a tricky one.

1. The 'mountainous body of evidence': I know of one scientist (Lindzen) who has genuinely offered an alternative hypothesis (the 'Iris' theory). This is discussed in some in detail in chapter 7 of the IPCC WG2, and elsewhere. It is considered an active hypothesis, with some evidence contradicting it, but worthy of research, but the IPCC report concludes that it is not (yet) sufficiently 'strong' to offer a realistic explanation, which the AGW theory does (allowing for C-Bob's 'flaws'). There is no other 'respected source' that I know of which cites natural influence as an alternaitve to AGW.

There are websites which make this claim, but they are not 'respected sources'; they are almost always industry-funded, the 'science' on them is not science at all, but cobbled-together nonsense which 'looks' impressive, but contains no substance and is often self-contradictory.

I agree with you that it may well be down to how an individual interprets the information at their disposal, and agree that the tendency to accept or reject what looks like 'evidence' is determined more by an 'inclination to believe' than by a proper, rational analysis of the content; if the latter were the case, there would be very little discussion of the subject at all...

How can we verify a source's integrity? If we are talking about science and scientific evidence (does the science of this argument hold up?), one good way is to look to see where the science has been published. If a paper has been published in a scientific journal, it must have met some (nominal) standards which make it 'scientific' at all. If it hasn't been published in a journal, there is normally a good reason; because no journal will accept that it is sufficiently 'scientific'. We can also judge a website/information source on its 'track record'; if there is a history of publishing spurious claims and material which 'twists' or manipulates the work of scientists to fit its' own avowed stance, we can justifiably have some doubt about whether it can be trusted.

I'm not saying this is easy, but once again, I would point out that the body of evidence 'supporting' AGW is unimaginably large, too big for any one person to get through in a lifetime. The body of evidence challenging AGW is tiny. The body of 'BS' on the internet is large, though; but take a closer look; every time that some new purported 'challenge' comes up, it is repeated and copied thousands of times over; this does not mean that there is a lot of 'evidence', often, there is one bit of 'evidence', which often turns out to be false, repeated many times over.

That'll do for now...

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Guest Viking141
Interesting.

I'm forced to live a on planet who's atmosphere and climate are being changed against my wishes. Why are my views on such matters less important than, say, yours?

Thats not what he said. Equally, your views on the subject are not more important than anyone elses either.

As Captain Bobski correctly pointed out this should not be a matter of trust but a matter of science. Too many people on these threads spend the majority of their time trying to "diss" what the other side of the argument says by resorting to petty insults and logical fallacies. Favourite tactics seem to be the age-old "ad-hominem" where the validity or not of a scientific paper etc is called into question by slinging mud at the author (or his/her backers for that matter) or the other petty tactic of "poisoning the well" where a paper is introduced into a discussion and then the introducer says something like "by the way, the author has been known to blah blah blah" in a deliberate attempt to colour peoples opinion of the science from the outset. These tactics are both churlish and irrelevant.

It does NOT logically follow, that if a particular author or scientist has a "bad", "colourful" or "eccentric" reputation, that the science he/she is presenting is necessarily false, rubbish or wrong. It does NOT logically follow, that becasue a paper has been funded by a particular organisation, government or individual and that they may have a particular agenda, that the science as presented is in any way, wrong, flawed or deceitful.

Can I make an earnest plea to stick to the SCIENCE. Is the science right or wrong. Who wrote what for whom and why is IRRELEVANT.

Rant over! I feel so much better now!

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Hi P3 - thanks for replying, as I am genuinely interested in your opinion (not least because you asked the original question!). I'll try not to be overlong with my reply, so I'll respond to some pertinent points - if I miss anything you would like me to expand upon then please do get back to me.

Do people really need to make an evaluation of a conceptual science, though? When discussions about nuclear energy come up, I don't see anyone challenging the science of nuclear physics, even though this is the foundation on which the possibility of nuclear power exists. Yes. I give 'practical' (perhaps we could say 'engineered') examples, but our lives are filled with technological products whose very existence is founded on the unchallenged assumption that the underlying science is competent to allow reliable engineering. Climate science is, after all, founded simply on long-term observation of weather and the patterns that appear from this (climate). Does the difference lie in the expectation of climate science that it has 'predictive skill'?

Do people need to make an evaluation of conceptual science? Well, clearly they think they do. People don't question the science of nuclear physics because they know that nuclear power works, it has been demonstrated to work, and it even supplies some of their electricity (although I bet that most people don't know exactly how they get electricity from nuclear power stations - I suspect most people think there's some clever way of extracting electricity from nuclear reactions...). The bottom line is this: it works. Similarly, name any technological product that is in everyday use and you can say the same thing about it - although you might not know how it works, it definitely does work.

You start talking about Climate Science and Global Warming (or Climate Change) and there's nothing for people to see that it works. They're told that it works. They're shown diagrams and charts and model outputs that tell them that it works, but there's nothing tangible for them to focus on - there's no physical object that works, and only works because the scientists must be right. And so, for quite possibly the first time in modern civilisation, people feel the need to evaluate the arguments for and against the theory for themselves. And it can get quite messy because there are personal opinions and prejudices, stubbornness and ignorance that help to confuse the issue. It's an entirely new form of analysis for most people - it's not a question of "it works, so it's okay"; it becomes "does it work, so is it okay?"

Your comment that 'AGW is far from proven' kind of begs the question, doesn't it? ... Do you feel you have a case for showing that they have done this?

Hopefully we can cover these questions over the next few weeks (months? years?) in this new Q&A format that potty prof has come up with. I will say here what I said a short while ago on another thread (I've forgotten which), which is that while AGW as a whole has not been disproven - and I don't think it can be disproven in its entirety - aspects of it can be picked at or contradicted. We'll discuss these issues on another thread at another time - I shall try to compile a list of these issues and maybe we can have a separate thread for each.

I would argue that every one of the potential pitfalls which you mention has been addressed and considered, I can provide ample evidence to support this, and I can show that these issues, where they are issues, are taken into account when conclusions are reached.

I think this is also one of the things which causes these circular arguments - one side thinks an issue has been addressed and taken into account, but the other side doesn't think it has been addressed sufficiently and so hasn't been taken sufficiently into account. Again, I hope that we can sort out some of these issues, or at least reach compromises, in separate threads. I hope this doesn't sound like I'm fobbing you off - I really do want to discuss everything, but it's a question of working out the right questions to ask to take the discussion forward. I do try to respond to all of your posts, as well (all the ones which are directed at me or my questions, at least...if I answered all of your posts then I'd be some kind of stalker or something!).

In conclusion, then, I am suggesting that your principal comments 'beg the question'; you are effectively saying that you don't accept the science because you don't accept the science.

I suppose that, in a way, I am saying that - I suppose what I'm really saying is that I don't accept all of the science because there is other science as well. It's also not just a question of accepting the science but of accepting particular conclusions derived from the scientific studies and analyses - the science can be right but the conclusions wrong - but that becomes a more difficult debate because of the problem with objectivity and subjectivity.

I hope that I've covered everything - I am interested to hear what other people think. What do others think of the original question?

;)

CB

PS - That's an overlong reply, isn't it? Rats! :whistling:

EDIT - Thanks for that Viking! My sentiments exactly.

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For me there is too much contrary 'good enough' evidence and support from 'experts' to counter AGW claims and carbon trading and business/moneymaking opportunities make it more suspicious.

BFTP

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Lots of response; good!

Vikes:

It does NOT logically follow, that if a particular author or scientist has a "bad", "colourful" or "eccentric" reputation, that the science he/she is presenting is necessarily false, rubbish or wrong. It does NOT logically follow, that becasue a paper has been funded by a particular organisation, government or individual and that they may have a particular agenda, that the science as presented is in any way, wrong, flawed or deceitful.

Can I make an earnest plea to stick to the SCIENCE. Is the science right or wrong. Who wrote what for whom and why is IRRELEVANT.

True, it does not logically follow. However, if the question that laserguy's response implies, 'How can I tell what is 'good' or 'bad' science/', which is related to 'How do I know who to believe?', is being considered, then one of the criteria for evaluating the likely credibility of a piece of information is the source of that information, and that source's credibility. Though I am cynical about the media at times, I'll say that I'm more inclined to pay attention to a story in the Guardian or the FT than one in the National Enquirer. This doesn't mean I am biased, only that I have used my discernment in evaluating the credibility of the source.

Again, it does not follow logically that the origin of a paper has any relevance to its validity - this is a given - but again, we're talking evaluation, here: if you look at the 'track record' of actual 'papers' (more often, simply press releases or od-eds) which are linked to industry-funding, what do you see? The track record is poor: as yet, none of the 'papers' (let's stick to the science) has received any serious consideration, NOT because of where they originated, but because the science was Cr&p. If a person like laserguy wants to decide whether or not the science is right or wrong, but perhaps lacks the training in science which allows them to evaluate it from a opurely scientific perspective (and for whom amongst us is this not the case?), then who wrote what for whom and why is absolutely relevant; it may not have a strict logical implication of falsity, but this is not the point; it has a 'background' which might make a non-scientist have reason to be suspicious about the validity of the science. if the person has this doubt, they can then turn to others who might be able to provide explanations or answers to why the science is 'good' or 'bad'.

C-Bob; in simple response, I can see a lot of new threads on the horizon... :)

Blast; your reply is interesting. First, you say that you think that there is enough contradictory evidence to cast doubt on AGW; this is an answer to my question, and an unseful starting point. then you refer to 'carbon trading and business/moneymaking...' which is a whole different issue, not about why you don't trust the experts, but about why you don't trust the people who want to capitalise on AGW by mugging us with products or taxes; that bit is more about the politics and praxis, not about the experts.

So, ignoring the second of your points, which maybe should be discussed elsewhere, and concentrating on the first: Where is this evidence? Where does it come from (as you can see, I argue that this does matter)? Has it not been responded to?

:)P

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'How can I tell what is 'good' or 'bad' science/', which is related to 'How do I know who to believe?',

For anyone with no formal qualification it is certainly very tricky. BUT, I am prepared to trust doctors, mechanics, chefs, engineers, plasterers, builders, etc, etc, as I do not know enough to be able to validate them either.

With all the above I would look to see what others thought of them, whether their results to date had been trustworthy and whether they had integrity. I might ask for references, I might ask about in their trades.

For me it is the same with climate science: the majority of the AGW research has been peer reviewed, it is referenced and clearly argued. Apart from a few negligible differences the respected scientists concur.

I have no problem with taking from that that AGW is probably happening, and hey, if it ain't, fantastic, and we'll have just de-polluted ourselves instead of stopping climate change. No bad thing either way.

I know a lot of scientists through working for many years in the academic environment: they're not bad people, they don't have an agenda....they like to get interesting AND provable results as that gets them respect in their fields. If they falsify their work or leave bits out they WILL get caught out and will lose all credibility (and probably their post). It very rarely happens and when it does those scientists are villified and discgraced: they let all the others down and the discipline doesn't let them get away with it.

As for the money involved: even in climate science there is not much cash in it for those doing the research. Average salary for a massively debt encumbered, newly qualified, scientific post-doc is c.18k and after 20-30 years hard graft they'll only be looking at a lectureship post of c.30-40k. Eye catching research might get you kudos in your field, but it certainly won't make you rich.

The rest, as far as I'm concerned is hysteria.

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C-Bob; in simple response, I can see a lot of new threads on the horizon... :)

Yes, P3 - I'm afraid so! Why have one thread when you can have many? :)

On topic, though, while I agree with your sentiment about paying more attention to the Guardian or the FT than the National Enquirer, I would add that I wouldn't trust the contents of the Guardian that much either. When reading newspaper articles about science (rather than reading the science itself) what you read is coloured by the journalist who writes it. Whether you read a pro-government or anti-government paper - or a left-leaning or right-leaning paper, or one full of serious articles and good grammar vs one full of partial nudity and spelling of a lower quality than my six-year-old's - makes a big difference to not only the spin put on the original study (hyping it up or down), but also on whether or not the science even gets reported.

This brings in that other element of trust - trust in the media. Although your question is "Why do you not trust the experts", the fact is that most people never get to hear what the experts actually have to say. Whether this is through lack of access to information, or lack of enthusiasm, or lack of confidence is pretty irrelevant. What is relevant is that the average man on the street can only go on what he knows, and most of what he knows is fed him by the media.

I suppose my personal answer was in my first post, but if your question can be rephrased "Why is there a lack of trust in the experts" then the above is my answer.

:)

CB

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What is relevant is that the average man on the street can only go on what he knows, and most of what he knows is fed him by the media.

BUT, then to be fair, much of the source evidence is available online for anyone to look at: people do seem to have a very good knack of finding the obscure and weird theories via the internet, which even the media do not touch with a barge pole, but they cannot find the science????!

Hmmmmmm......

I suspect there is a high level of intellectual laziness about it- the anti theories coming in nice, bite size, digestible chunks which require very little thought or intellectual processing makes them much easier to accept.

It does appear that, amongst some, there is a very big element of conspiracy theory about the anti camp and an almost perverse wish to distrust scientists merely because they are scientists. I find that very alarming.

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BUT, then to be fair, much of the source evidence is available online for anyone to look at: people do seem to have a very good knack of finding the obscure and weird theories via the internet, which even the media do not touch with a barge pole, but they cannot find the science????!

Hmmmmmm......

I suspect there is a high level of intellectual laziness about it- the anti theories coming in nice, bite size, digestible chunks which require very little thought or intellectual processing makes them much easier to accept.

It does appear that, amongst some, there is a very big element of conspiracy theory about the anti camp and an almost perverse wish to distrust scientists merely because they are scientists. I find that very alarming.

Agreed that laziness, apathy and ignorance play a large part - the problem is that most of the general public don't even bother investigating the issue for themselves; they either accept it blindly or they reject it because they don't like the associated governmental enforcements - we who actively investigate and debate it are in the minority...

:)

CB

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but if your question can be rephrased "Why is there a lack of trust in the experts" then the above is my answer

So, you're suggesting that people don't trust the experts, because all they tend to know about them is what is reported in the media. Add to this that often, if not very often, the science is misrepresented in the media, and add to this that we have an ambiguous relationship with the media; accepting what fuels our existing opinions, but being cynical about the media's honesty in all other cases...

Which would kind of suggest that the problem is not what the experts are saying, but what the media are telling us that the experts are saying, and what we think of the media. I'm not sure. Need to think (and walk the dog).

:)P

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Which would kind of suggest that the problem is not what the experts are saying, but what the media are telling us that the experts are saying, and what we think of the media.

I certainly think there is an element of this in the debate, especially as far as the average guy on the street is concerned. That's not to say that what the scientists are saying is necessarily correct, though! :)

CB

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Agreed that laziness, apathy and ignorance play a large part - the problem is that most of the general public don't even bother investigating the issue for themselves; they either accept it blindly or they reject it because they don't like the associated governmental enforcements - we who actively investigate and debate it are in the minority...

:)

CB

True enough...but as I say, there are always a lot of people very clued up on the odd stuff: where do they get that from? People will spend an awful lot of time looking for stuff that supposedly disagrees with the science, even though they would never look at the science.

Same as most conspiracy theories: take 9/11, JFK, etc, etc: people don't want to see the evidence before their eyes but prefer to look for another answer: must be a part of the human condition, I guess.

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