Climate or Evolution and Cognitive Dissonance

Science as a discipline does not just encourage question, it requires skepticism. Yet, those skeptical of the claims of (certain) mainstream science are dogged for straying off the farm. It is a difficult thing to establish global temperature trends in the first place. Having noted that this is a phenomena occurring pretty much throughout the solar system, why then is it implausible to suggest that we be skeptical of assured claims that the global warming we are seeing on this particular planet is of human origin? Likewise with evolution, I’m frankly skeptical that we understand all the mechanisms driving evolutionary change. In fact, I think major insights are still to be found, which is to my view is essentially the crux of the ID claim. Yet, every claim of non-orthodoxy in that field as well, is met with ostracism and scorn.

Given that skepticism is a key ingredient to being a good scientist, doesn’t that strike one as something which should cause cognitive dissonance?

Could it be that the origins of the defensive reaction (ostracism and scorn) be cultural? Something to do with division (bad) vs difference (good)?

9 Responses to Climate or Evolution and Cognitive Dissonance

  1. Science as a discipline does not just encourage question, it requires skepticism.

    Nobody’s saying not to be skeptical. We’re just saying, don’t gamble our planet on the word of one or two minority scientists or random non-scientists.

    In fact, I think major insights are still to be found, which is to my view is essentially the crux of the ID claim.

    This is NOT the ID claim, as we have previously discussed, and your unwillingness to distance yourself from the ID movement does very little for your credibility.

    Likewise with evolution, I’m frankly skeptical that we understand all the mechanisms driving evolutionary change.

    Nobody claims we understand all the mechanisms. Don’t set up a straw man.

    Yet, every claim of non-orthodoxy in that field as well, is met with ostracism and scorn.

    This is emphatically not the case, unless by “non-orthodoxy” you mean, “fairy tale.” Stephen Jay Gould, for example, was a fan of the controversial punctuated equilibria idea. He was not ostracized, although I guess you could call some of the criticism he received “scorn.” Evolution is an active field and there are constant revisions and “non-orthodox” ideas thrown around.

    It’s just that there’s a difference between “viruses had a much bigger role than we thought” and “God did it!!”

  2. JA,
    When I say, “I think major insights are still to be found,” I don’t just mean, viruses play a role.

    You claim my statement regarding ID is different, but I don’t see how.

    Nobody’s saying not to be skeptical. We’re just saying, don’t gamble our planet on the word of one or two minority scientists or random non-scientists.

    Uhm, my objections to the idea of anthropogenic origins of climate change are not little inconsequential items. To make the claim that this issue is settled yet leave such gaping holes is … a really bad idea. I’m not sure how or why the numbers of scientists matter.

  3. To make the claim that this issue is settled yet leave such gaping holes is … a really bad idea.

    I’m not saying scientists should stop working on it, just that we need to take action based on what’s likely to be true. It’s the difference between declaring we know 100% what causes lung cancer and deciding to quit smoking based on what we already know.

  4. JA,
    As I said before when we discussed this, I noted my practices regarding energy conservation. What are you suggesting I do differently?

  5. I’m sorry, I assumed you were implying the government should not take action on global warming. If I was wrong, I’m sorry. I’d still bet your wrong on global warming (putting my money on a majority of scientists) but if you’re willing to have the government err on the side of caution regardless, then that’s fine by me.

  6. JA,
    Gee, I didn’t think the government was a primary contributor to global warming. The “hot air” from the beltway is not typically meant literally. ;)

    And otherwise, yes, I’m strongly in favor the government support for a good breeder reactor program.

  7. Gee, I didn’t think the government was a primary contributor to global warming.

    Global warming is perhaps the best example of the need for government regulation. It’s the pinnacle of the tragedy of the commons.

    There are problems the free market is not good at solving without government intervention. Global warming is one of them.

  8. JA,
    And for the government to have a mandate to respond a careful cost benefit analysis needs to be done. Which makes establishing the marginal differences between global warming here and on other extra-terrestrial locales important, because if man-made greenhouse gases are only a secondary or tertiary effect and expensive to implement … it is then harder to establish the notion that this is any sort of priority.

  9. Yeah, it’s too bad the oil, manufacturing, coal, etc. industries don’t have anybody in government to defend them. ;-) Damn that Al Gore, the big bully.

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