Environmental Reasoned Discourse

So I’m on Facebook when one of my very liberal Facebook Friends (i.e. a person I know only through Facebook) made a post regarding this story on NPR about how beliefs hinge on worldview.

Aside: Personally, I’m in the camp that the Earth is warming, but the case is highly overstated and the science community is suffering from a bad case of Confirmation Bias and Error Cascade coupled with a tendency to be very alarmist in order to get people to pay attention.  All of this wouldn’t bother me too much if there wasn’t a whole bevy of politicians chomping at the bit to use the threat of global warming to pass sweeping regulations, that just makes me all ornery and contentious.  :End Aside

The discussion so far in the comments of the post basically followed the whole, “Climate Skeptics are a bunch of ignorant rubes being lead around by a handful of smart shills for Big Oil.”, which I find annoying whenever anyone (right, left, or center) tries to distill a complex topic into such an idiotic blurb (and if you catch me doing it, feel free to call me on it).  So, in order to try and bring some understanding to the discussion, I attempted to demonstrate how a personal worldview colors risk assessment, and I used the threat of terrorism as an example.

See, it works like this: Most liberals will bemoan the use of the threat of terrorism to justify the encroaching power of the security/surveillance state and the erosion of our rights & freedoms.  They will argue that while the threat is real, it is inflated by the government (and certain parts of the media, cough!FoxNewscough!) and that the need to conduct warrantless searches and indefinite detentions is manufactured.  I posited that the same could be said about Global Warming, that the threat is inflated and the need for a sweeping regulatory environment is manufactured by the government, which is using the looming spectre of climate change.

The result was complaints about switching topics to discuss terrorism, and after I said that it’s not about terrorism, but rather about recognizing how everyone’s worldview colors their perceptions of risk, the entire post was flushed down the memory hole.

Le Sigh…

There are days that arguing on the internet is annoying.

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3 Responses to Environmental Reasoned Discourse

  1. guy says:

    And my first thought on reading that NPR story was “It’s a good thing scientists are perfectly logical beings who would never allow their own worldviews to color their research”.

  2. Firehand says:

    If I’m understanding his words correctly, he wouldn’t mind the highly overstated and the science community is suffering from a bad case of Confirmation Bias and Error Cascade coupled with a tendency to be very alarmist in order to get people to pay attention if it weren’t being used by politicians; so he has no problem with bad science and scientists selling out to push their view so long as some politician doesn’t use it?

  3. MadRocketScientist says:

    Firehand: Yep, exactly. See, if this wasn’t a political hot ticket, peer review and further research would eventually work this out, much the way it did with continental drift, parts of classical and quantum physics, and numerous other areas of science where the consensus had it wrong. Mix in the politics to drive the money to researchers looking to further the evidence for, and you have a problem, since that makes it damn hard to let the system work.

    If the media and the politics weren’t pushing the hell out of this, it would be about as interesting a story to the general public as the contentious issues between Quantum Mechanics & String Theory.

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