The stable core of consensus knowledge
Today in an article on WUWT (archived here), Christopher is taking issue with an article written by Naomi Oreskes in Nature. Her article has the title: Earth science: How plate tectonics clicked. It is open access and you can read it here. Here is an excerpt:
In its slow convergence of ideas and evidence, the history of plate tectonics holds lessons for today's debates about human-induced climate change. Although science is always evolving, and our attention is drawn to controversy at the research frontier, it is the stable core of 'consensus' knowledge that provides the best basis for decision-making.Dr Oreskes describes some of the scientific and technological breakthroughs that underpinned the knowledge we have today of plate tectonics and related ideas about the earth's crust and what lies underneath it, and then writes:
This era marked a change in the character of modern science. Research today is expensive and largely government-funded; almost all major scientific accomplishments are the collective achievement of large teams. This reality — more prosaic than the hagiography of lonely genius — reminds us that although great individuals are worthy of recognition, the strength and power of science lies in the collective effort and judgement of the scientific community.Naomi Oreskes article is a good read and I discovered things I didn't know before. She finishes up with parallels to the discoveries of climate science.
Anthony Watts and Christopher Monckton of course are having none of it. The WUWT article is a bit confusing, but it reads as if Christopher and, presumably Anthony Watts, don't accept plate tectonics. The article is a mish mash of rubbish Monckton has written before. I defy anyone to make sense of his ramble. His basic argument is seems to be that scientific consensus is meaningless. I expect neither he nor Anthony Watts "believe in" gravity, or that the planets revolve around the sun or that water is wet. They are waiting, waiting and still waiting for some lone hero (not heroine) to "prove" that CO2 isn't a greenhouse gas and that global warming isn't happening. Or some such lunacy.
They really are nuts and getting nuttier every day. As Naomi Oreskes writes:
Anthropogenic climate change has the consensus of researchers. Political leaders who deny the human role in climate change should be compared with the hierarchy of the Catholic church, who dismissed Galileo's arguments for heliocentrism for fear of their social implications.
Science denial as entertainment and theatrics
You might be tempted to substitute Christopher Monckton and Anthony Watts for "political leaders". They might reject climate science because they fear the social implications. I don't know if that's correct though. I doubt Anthony and Christopher give two hoots for society. With this pair if they fear anything it's the personal implications. But the more I read WUWT the more obvious it becomes that the main driving force is keeping their audience. The audience being the 8% Dismissives. They are playing to a crowd. They are entertainers. Their audience is the scientific illiterati. The dumbos. The fearful. The ethnocentric.
From the WUWT illiterati
Here are some examples to illustrate the point, from the WUWT comments (archived here).
September 7, 2013 at 8:16 amJon says:
Why doesn’t the Obama USA just use its secret court system to put skeptics in camps and be done with it. Can’t be that important if they don’t even bother.
September 7, 2013 at 8:22 am
In order to make a new and “better” world they have to get rid of logic and scientific principles?
Bennett In Vermont says:
September 7, 2013 at 8:38 am
I enjoy expanding my vocabulary by reading your articles, Lord Monckton. Thank you!
September 7, 2013 at 8:48 am
I am almost tempted to cut these warmists some slack. After all, all they know and understand is “consensus”. All their political experience is rooted in “let’s put this to a vote.” So of course when the majority rules, the decision is made, there is no need for further discussion on the topic. Politicians, consensus builders, debating teams, judge and jury situations… it’s all the same. The idea that their majority decision is incorrect is only a vague, distant possibility that is hardly worth considering and besides, that’s just sore loser talk to them. I would recommend the warmists take at least one 101-level course in one of the hard sciences (physics, chemistry, etc,) before they start forcing their belief system upon us, but I’m sure they have no interest in listening to my suggestions. Like I said, I am ALMOST tempted to cut them some slack.
Bryan A comes up with a really, really good idea, but it's not one that deniers usually favour. He says:
September 7, 2013 at 8:54 am
Perhaps the real experiment to determine if reducing CO2 will reduce temps is not to detect increased temps through an elevated CO2 environmant but rather to take a control of ambient atmosphere and a test of reduced CO2 to see if reducing CO2 will reduce temps
John West misses the whole point in true illiterati style and says (excerpt):
September 7, 2013 at 9:12 am
The article was actually quite good until the article went off into climate change religion apology. Early on the comment is made:
“But the arguments for continental motions did not gel until the 1960s, when a drastic expansion of geophysical research, driven by the cold war, produced evidence that reopened and eventually settled the debate.” — Naomi Oreskes (Nature, 4 September 2013).So, in Naomi Oreskes’ own words the debate on plate tectonics was settled due to EVIDENCE not CONSESUS. But then she calls for us to believe the debate on climate change should be settled because of consensus instead of evidence.