It’s just a tad harder to update this blog with anything meaningful during the yearly UN Climate Hugfest (aka Cancun – COP16): simply put, the unbearable nakedness of climate change is being broadcast right now on each and every channel (follow Real Science for a daily feast of the stupidest statements Cancun has seen outside drunken Spring Breaks).
Let me clarify then, in case anybody cares apart from my 23rd century graduate student readers preparing dissertations on
bright relatively bright overestimated talkative bloggers from the early 21st century, what my thoughts are about conspiracy theories of the skeptical variety, aka “global warming is a hoax“.
Simply put, I am mildly annoyed by those claims.
I find all “hoax” and “fraud” discussions distracting if not completely beside the point. Yes, we face the overwhelming support esp. by the Scientific Establishment of a still-infant idea such as AGW, that despite being as yet impossible to falsify is presented to the public as a highly-certain prediction of impending catastrophes unless we renounce our liberties and go back to live in the caves we came from. Or maybe up the trees.
And yet, following Ockham’s razor, there is no need to imply a “hoax” or “fraud” when good old “scientific dogma” can be at play. Many, many, many people including scientists possess the innate ability/compulsion to follow the crowd, even when something as objective as science is involved.
My favorite example for that is the dogma against preCambrian complex life, that lasted 93 years in the face of overwhelming evidence. That dogma ended only when a suitable authority was open-minded enough to accept in 1959 what the rocks had been screaming since 1868.
In total there had been three previous attempts at getting the fossils to speak for themselves, but nobody was listening. In hindsight, one might say there were plenty of attempts to falsify information (patently clear animal body traces passed as mineral formations), and at least one case of corruption of the peer review process (Nature magazine refusing to publish Sprigg’s letter, only to accept Glaessner’s, with the only difference being Glaessner’s fame).
Yet all that, it was done in perfectly good faith by people that should have known otherwise, but couldn’t. And one might accept a falsehood for the simple fact that one has to accept that falsehood, because one doesn’t realize it’s a falsehood. There’s no need to invoke fraud in there either.
People’s instinctive refusal to rely on their own judgement, “passing the buck” to a Higher Authority and thereby having a much easier life, will suffice. See Revkin’s support for Skeptical Science as a glaring example of this “slave brain” attitude.