Saturday, 28 November 2009

It Sounds Like a Reasonable Question

Colby Cosh: "climate scientists “resent having to respond to skeptics.” Well, who the hell doesn’t? That’s like saying that prosecutors resent the threat of having unfairly acquired evidence excluded from the courtroom, or that ballplayers resent the danger of getting picked off first base. They can resent it all they like, but it’s there in the rules of the game, for good reasons. Q: What do you call a scientist who can’t accept criticism from “skeptics”? A: Anything you like, as long as it’s not “scientist”."

Sounds so damned reasonable doesn't it? Except for a small problem. The only people truly qualified to be "skeptical" of scientists, is other scientists. Laymen don't have the basic understanding (and even an advanced understanding of statistics doesn't qualify) to properly question an expert in their field. This is true of other fields of study as well, the various engineering disciplines, medicine, and even various trades. That is why the term "peer reviewed" is so important. This is the built-in self-check into the scientific method. Before any new findings are accepted as fact, they have to be reviewed.

Climate science is one such rigorous discipline. These e-mails show that process happening (whether formally discussed or informally discussed). If you wish to take a skeptical look at the current modelling of the climate, go to school and get studying. Until you know what you're talking about, sincerely, shut the hell up.

So "Norwich", the only reason "there is a problem" is because you want there to be a problem.


Sir Francis said...

It's amazing how the nature of a question can condition the response.

Consider what happens if you turn Cosh's tendentiously phrased "What do you call a scientist who can’t accept criticism from 'skeptics'” into the more cogent "What do you call a scientist who refuses to waste time engaging with the untrained, the unschooled and the unserious".

Love the re-design, by the way. Don’t tell me: you’re a bit of a Riders fan, right? ;)

Catelli said...

Bingo! The Skeptics I read frequently are mostly scientists. Which makes sense, to be a useful skeptic, you have to apply a methodical and logical, (dare I say "a scientific") method to your inquiry.

Just being skeptical doesn't make you credible. As a neophyte skeptic, I at least understand that point.

Q) What's the difference between someone that is skeptical of authorities and a conspiracy theorist?

A) At least a conspiracy theorist provides an alternate theory!

Don’t tell me: you’re a bit of a Riders fan, right? ;)

Only for the weekend! I'm a dyed blue Argos fan, but they, uh, like all Toronto teams kinda sucked this year. There's gotta be something in the water in TO.

But like any TO fan, we cheer for anyone that takes on Montreal!