Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Quotemongering on climate

Homage to the articulate: (a club to which, sadly, your host does not belong)

On niceness:
If you find "scientists" who buck the consensus and say that 2+2=5 and you go around saying it must be somewhere around 4.5, you really can't expect a lot of respect from the fourists. If it is "arrogant" or "rude" or "abusive" to be correct, science becomes impossible. You paint me in the corner where it is my obligation to stand up and be counted.
Like many of our opposition, you are a nice fellow. Indeed, we are getting quite grumpy while some of you are having a great time. So you may on the whole be nicer than we are by now.
Of course they are polite. You are a success story for them.

On expertise:
Trusting your weatherman on long-term climate issues is like trusting your nephew who knows how to logon to Facebook, download music, and find porn to rebuild and manage your company's servers.
RTFR before you strap the megaphone on is always good policy.
As long as you claim no training, make no substantive argument, and refer us to no publication that summarizes your position, let me direct you to the remaining 99.9999% of the internet as a suitable venue for your opinions.
When all about you who have a clue
Are telling you that you missed something
And ignoring what you say
And you are calm and confident
Maybe there's somthin you don't know
To be clear, I’m not advocating respect for authority, but respect for expertise.
The whole point here is that there IS agreement among the people who actually DO understand the material.
“Rookie Syndrome.” Raw trainee shepherds would arrive in camp, look at sheep for a couple days, and then start to argue with the experienced hands.
In any complex field, such domain expertise is essential to form a qualified opinion. And in most such fields, Rookie Syndrome — armchair quarterbacking — is common.
...we cannot, as laypeople, responsibly wade into an area in which we are not expert and expect to settle expert controversies.
If we’re not qualified, we should not promote our opinions. If we are qualified, we should attempt to convince our fellow experts in the relevant peer-reviewed literature — not skip peer review to make popular appeals in the popular (skeptical) press.(*)

"Rules of legitimacy" for non-experts speaking about science:
Where both scientific domain expertise and expert consensus exist, [true] skeptics are (at best) straight science journalists. We can report the consensus, communicate findings in their proper context — and that’s it.
Skeptical resources spent on mainstream science journalism are resources taken away from our core mandate (pseudoscience and the paranormal — a mandate no one else has), although science popularization is of course valuable in itself when done responsibly.(from What, If Anything, Can [true] Skeptics Say About Science?)
Mooney's comments are consistent with the findings of scientists in those fields. The [others'] claims are not. One needs a higher level of understanding to dispute the findings of specialists in a field, than one needs merely to acknowledge their findings.

On bad faith:
Until [inactivist] proposes his own solution, he has the luxury of saying he believes the science while trashing people who actually propose doing the hard job of actually making serious proposal based on the science

On intuition:
one major purpose of science is to overcome intuitive but incorrect understandings of nature. If nature were always intuitive, science would be among the basket-weaving disciplines.
The problem with intuition is that it's based on experience, and not many of us have direct experience with evolution, not to mention quantum physics.
our moral intuitions evolved to deal with problems within our community, rather than with the impact of our actions on those far away. Resources like the atmosphere and the oceans seemed unlimited, and we have had no inhibitions against making the fullest use of them.
On cognitive pitfalls:
...which shows a profound lack of sense of scale.
On the press:
Where the media are bored by a topic, the public is implicitly informed that the topic is unimportant. There is no proper word for doom when that word only appears on page thirteen.
On footprint focus:
I would like to see a stake driven into the heart of this “you can make a difference” meme; or into the notion that we can do this through voluntary or community action.
I’d like clear direction about the most active, high leverage political and social initiatives that deserve immediate focus. There is so much information, so many initiatives, so many causes…but surely the 80/20 rule applies, and we would be well served by focusing on the very few events where we get the greatest impact for our effort.
On "carrot" communication:
embarking on a course of action predicated on some sort of "don't worry, be happy" spin version of the issue is in fact MORE likely to fail. First, it will be hard to mobilize people if they are not persuaded that it is a serious issue, and second, they will lose their conviction fairly quickly if the message keeps being "switched" on them over time...
On the propriety of scientists acting as activists:
Science, properly construed, is neutral, and the main goal of the scientific community must be to protect that neutrality. The question is what is the right thing for an individual scientist or a scientific community to do when society's relationship to that neutral science goes awry.

I found most of the above quotes from Michael Tobis's blog In It For The Gold, both in the posts and in the comments; others are from Romm's Climate Progress, others...?
(On my to-do list is a bookmarklet that'll let me capture the page and the referrer along with the quote; until then, Google them (here?) to find their origin)

1 comment:

birdbrainscan said...

Great collection - a nice morale boost after reading far too many snarkers and parrots of talking points.