15 February 2011

What is it about climate change that makes smart people say silly things?

Posted by Dan Satterfield

I am constantly amazed at the number of smart people who make a right turn into a brick wall when it comes to climate change. There are plenty examples and they all have one thing in common. They usually come from well educated people, (with a science background) who repeat myths about climate change that they’ve read or heard.

If they took the time to research the claim they are parroting, they would quickly find that in most cases it’s rather silly. I was not surprised when I heard that an Alabama congressman was quoted as saying “the scientists were predicting an ice age back in the 1970’s”. Were they? No. It’s not true, and the story behind this makes some surprising reading.

You might expect that of a politician, but not usually of someone with some training in critical thinking and scientific method.  Bob Ryan, (past president of the American Meteorological Society) saw just such an episode recently and decided to correct the bad science.

With some of the junk science I see online each day, it’s IMHO time for more of the science community to call foul. The public deserves accurate representations of what science is, and how it works. Even if it disturbs their dearly held worldview.

If an Medical Doctor announced that the astronomers are all wrong about the big bang, or claimed the geologists have plate tectonics all wrong, they would be laughed at. Is it supposed to be different when an M.D. goes on TV and calls climate physics a religion.

Most people, who are able to separate political belief from science, will say no.