Sunday, December 15, 2019

Things Are Worse for Truth than We Think

12/15/2019—Paul Krugman wrote a column this week about climate change and the Republican Party that contained his usual invective. Republican leaders are evil.

But the column got me thinking about my friends who are skeptical about climate change claims and what their skepticism really means.

My friends, after all, are not receiving money from the fossil fuel industry. They have nothing to gain either way from denial.

One thing is certain. My friends are convinced that there is a political agenda that uses climate change as an excuse for policies that have nothing to do with climate change. This is the reaction to the Green New Deal. And they are clearly right about that.

But the rest of the reaction is quite strange. My friends say that no model can predict the future,or some such thing. This is certainly true in a theoretical sense, but we use models all the time.

My friends are also skeptical about the agenda of the researchers themselves—that they have professional interests in promoting climate change and in suppressing evidence that points in the opposite direction.

This is actually quite crazy. Science does not usually work that way. A scientist who showed that climate change is not happening would receive scorn at first, as scientists always do when they confront a settled consensus, but there are many examples of such revolutionary work eventually winning the day. Such a person would eventually be vindicated.

My friends are treating scientists as if they are politicians, which they are not.

Of course, the big example of the same kind of thinking among people on the Left is the denial of the efficacy and need and safety of vaccines for childhood infectious diseases. It is not as widespread as climate change denial, but it is just as impervious to evidence.

And all of this is part of the revolt, at least in the West, against expertise. Maybe that revolt is overstated, but something is happening.

The question is, how did all this happen and what does it mean? I believe it all roots in the Death of God, but that is another subject.

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