Monday, May 10, 2010

Climate hubris - TV weathermen prone, but also [anti-woo] skeptics

In reading this, please keep in mind the distinction between real skeptics (who critically examine evidence) and climate pseudoskeptics (who have closed minds and hold anti-science views); and realize that as a layman you can do just fine avoiding the evidence altogether, as long as you're smart about whose judgment to trust.

The Columbia Journalism Review had a wonderful post titled Hot Air - Why don’t TV weathermen believe in climate change?, examining why so many weathermen are climate doubters: in short*, although they have no climate science training, they're the science alphas of their realm, and it's hard for a lone alpha to see when he doesn't know, or to know who the genuine experts are.

(an education lets you avoid this - when you're thrown in with a lot of people who know far more than you, you quickly come to recognize it.)

And in What, If Anything, Can [true] Skeptics Say About Science?, Daniel Loxton's saying much the same thing, about his community -
"...many [anti-woo] skeptics have limited scientific qualifications...Even skeptics who do have scientific qualifications are frequently called upon to comment outside of their area of domain expertise..."
"people turn to [real] skeptical media to find out what’s really true about weird things... Skeptics solicit that trust. We make the implicit (and sometimes explicit) promise that we are able to provide the nuanced, objective, evidence-based facts."

So these fellows are being accorded science-alpha status just like the TV weathermen, which encourages them too to see themselves as better judges of climate science than the climate scientists; at which point they too are acting beyond their level of competence, and are disserving those who look to them for information.

Loxton reminds them that:
"...the consensus(*) is the result of the scientific process that as [real] skeptics we supposedly believe in. It is the whole point of the movement. So, when you scoff at the consensus(*) you are scoffing at science itself – in effect you are arguing that the scientific system doesn’t work, at least at this time of civilization."

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