Published by paulmacrae on 01 May 2012
By Paul MacRae
A while ago, I received an email from a friend who asked:
How can many, many respected, competitive, independent science folks be so wrong about [global warming] (if your [skeptical] premise is correct). I don’t think it could be a conspiracy, or incompetence. … Has there ever been another case when so many ‘leading’ scientific minds got it so wrong?
The answer to the second part of my friend’s question—“Has there ever been another case where so many ‘leading’ scientific minds got it so wrong?”—is easy. Yes, there are many such cases, both within and outside climate science. In fact, the graveyard of science is littered with the bones of theories that were once thought “certain” (e.g., that the continents can’t “drift,” that Newton’s laws were immutable, and hundreds if not thousands of others). Science progresses by the overturning of theories once thought “certain.”
And so, Carl Sagan has written: “Even a succession of professional scientists—including famous astronomers who had made other discoveries that are confirmed and now justly celebrated—can make serious, even profound errors in pattern recognition.” There is no reason to believe that climate scientists (alarmist or skeptic) are exempt from this possibility.
That leaves the first question, which is how so many “respected, competitive, independent science folks [could] be so wrong” about the causes and dangers of global warming, assuming they are wrong. And here, I confess that after five years of research into climate fears, this question still baffles me.
Climate certainty is baffling
It is not baffling that so many scientists believe humanity might be to blame for global warming. If carbon dioxide causes warming, additional CO2 should produce additional warming. But it’s baffling that alarmist climate scientists are so certain that additional carbon dioxide will produce a climate disaster, even though there is little empirical evidence to support this view, and much evidence against it, including a decade of non-warming. This dogmatism makes it clear, at least to those outside the alarmist climate paradigm, that something is very wrong with the state of “consensus” climate science.
There are many possible reasons for this scientific blindness, including sheer financial and career self-interest: scientists who don’t accept the alarmist paradigm will lose research grants and career doors will be closed to them. But one psychological diagnosis fits alarmist climate science like a glove: groupthink. With groupthink, we get the best explanation of “how can many, many respected, competitive, independent science folks be so wrong.” Continue Reading »