One of the biggest science disciplines where this ignorance becomes evident is climate science. More often than not they'll try to shut down any debate about climate change by the usual appeal to authority or the ever popular “We have top men working on it” defense.
But what happens when one ignores what's happening in the real world while still spouting the 'settled science' of global warming? Will the cognitive dissonance created when observations refuse to match with the almost sacred climate models cause mass hysteria amongst the anointed Left? Or will they try to explain away the mismatch by going so far as to claim the observations must be wrong? (Not that such a thing has actually happened, at least not on the national or international stage. But I have heard more than a few of the local AGW faithful actually say that.)
Now that real world observations have been putting the screws to the various climate models used to predict our doom, the warmists are caught in a conundrum, particularly when even the UN IPCC is starting to to hedge its bets in regards to climate change, and more specifically, the effects of a warmer climate. How do they maintain the high level of alarmism and the push to “Do Something!” when even their biggest pillar of support is now saying, in effect, “Hey now, let's take another look at this because something doesn't add up”?
The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will shortly publish the second part of its latest report, on the likely impact of climate change. Government representatives are meeting with scientists in Japan to sex up—sorry, rewrite—a summary of the scientists' accounts of storms, droughts and diseases to come. But the actual report, known as AR5-WGII, is less frightening than its predecessor seven years ago.First, the warmists/alarmists have always made the claim that a warmer climate is automatically a bad thing, yet they provide no proof. It's just a guess. On the other hand there's plenty of scientific evidence that indicates just the opposite, showing that a warmer climate will be more beneficial, just as it has in the past.
The 2007 report was riddled with errors about Himalayan glaciers, the Amazon rain forest, African agriculture, water shortages and other matters, all of which erred in the direction of alarm. This led to a critical appraisal of the report-writing process from a council of national science academies, some of whose recommendations were simply ignored.
Others, however, hit home. According to leaks, this time the full report is much more cautious and vague about worsening cyclones, changes in rainfall, climate-change refugees, and the overall cost of global warming.
The forthcoming report apparently admits that climate change has extinguished no species so far and expresses "very little confidence" that it will do so. There is new emphasis that climate change is not the only environmental problem that matters and on adapting to it rather than preventing it.
Second, the warmists/alarmists haven't provided a shred of proof of what 'normal' is supposed to be in regards climate. Earth's climate is not static, has never been so, and will never be. It changes constantly. So for them to say “This is normal and anything outside of that is not” is conjecture at best and a canard at worst, one used to convince us that we must “Do Something!”
Third, far too many seem to have no idea how science is supposed to work and believe, incorrectly, that once something is 'settled' nothing more need be done. This belief and lack of understanding is their biggest failing and I believe has led to their unwillingness to look at the blatant disparity between the models and the actual observations.
Overstating the risk may motivate some to make changes, but far too often it has just the opposite effect, particularly when there is more than a little evidence or data that indicates the risks being touted by the “Do Something” crowd is over the top, an absolute worst case scenario that ignores some, if not all the mitigating factors. In the long run it makes people ignore the alarmists, something that can also come back to haunt us. It is something akin to the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” scenario, where when a real risk comes along the alarmists will be ignored the one time they should be taken seriously. But the alarmists have only themselves to blame for this.
Almost every global environmental scare of the past half century proved exaggerated including the population "bomb," pesticides, acid rain, the ozone hole, falling sperm counts, genetically engineered crops and killer bees. In every case, institutional scientists gained a lot of funding from the scare and then quietly converged on the view that the problem was much more moderate than the extreme voices had argued. Global warming is no different.Part of it can be blamed on media sensationalism. The media loves a good scare story. Goodness knows we see that every winter when a snowstorm is moving in to an area that experiences such storms every year, but the media plays it up like it's the STORM OF DOOM! This certainly doesn't help.
However, I have drifted away from the original subject, that being the rank ignorance about science being displayed by too many people.
It all comes down to these few principles:
If your hypothesis/theory is incapable of being proven wrong (also called being unfalsifiable), then it's not valid, period. (Call it the You-Have-To-Take-It-On-Faith scenario – no proof necessary.)See? It isn't difficult. But to read the e-mails made public in both ClimateGate 1.0 and 2.0, you have to question the validity of any of the theories about climate change, and particularly Anthropogenic Global Warming. If the various climate models constantly being touted as the End-All-And-Be-All of climate prediction don't even come close to matching the actual observations, then the models are invalid and should either be redone or abandoned. If only a single factor is being focused upon as the cause of all climate change, then any theory being put forth about it is wrong because climate is such a complicated, semi-chaotic system that no one really understands or is capable of taking into account everything that's driving the climate. But the ignorant ideologues cling to the tenets of their faith as if they are the Gospel and any questioning of the Truth So Revealed is blasphemy against the One True Faith. In other words, it's 'science' only when they agree with it or if it meets their needs. Otherwise it isn't, and scientific method be damned.
If your hypothesis/theory doesn't match with observations or experimental results, then it is in error.
If the experiments or observations that led you to generate your hypothesis/theory cannot be recreated by others within a certain margin of error, then your hypothesis/theory is in error.
If the raw data, the data sources, and data analysis methods or algorithms are not made available to others for reanalysis and experimentation, then the hypothesis/theory derived from them are suspect and must be considered in error...or fraudulent.
So in the end, if the Left is ignorant of what is and is not science, it is by choice and not by circumstance, which only makes it worse.