Lies, damned lies, and those other things

28 September 2006

Apparently since I can only handle one news source at a time, my minute attention has been shifted from NPR to Think Progress. Since Bill O’Reilly just singled them out as an enemy, though, I figure they’re reliable. Additional point of humor–you can now buy a hardcover copy of his list of malefactors online.

Whatever, anyway. Think Progress has a good post, including an ~5 minute video, on CNN’s response to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK and Chair of the US Senate Committee on the Environment, ironically) and his rant on global warming denial. Though I haven’t perused Inhofe’s initial diatribe, the CNN defense of their own fact-checking honor seems to hit the lowlights.

The thing is that the public debate (and I use that term liberally) about global warming is a classic example of the practice of science detailed by Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch in The Golem. As Collins and Pinch state, the ambiguity, or in this case abundance, of empirical evidence makes that evidence a moot point in many scientific investigations. The debate over the scientific subject, global warming in our present example, fades below the noise of demagoguery, and name-calling ensues. Don’t believe me, and still insist that any such important scientific question can be settled on completely rational, empirical terms? Check out the comments section of the Think Progress post.

Or better still, read the books: The Golem, The Golem at Large, or Dr. Golem.

In conclusion, please bear in mind that, IMHO, and irregardless of the rhetorical free-fire zone that global warming has become, we had damn well better spend all the time and resources we can figuring out how the climate works and what those workings mean for us. We know a lot but there is much still to learn; the more we screw with it, the worse we make the consequences of neglect and shortsightedness.


2 Responses to “Lies, damned lies, and those other things”

  1. […] Scuttlebutt has always been pervasive but subdued about how science isn’t really as objective as we say it is, but like good little quantitative analysts, we’re starting to respond now that we can see some tables and graphs. […]

  2. […] and methods science is germane to (or are germane to it, depending). Nor is it clear to many, myself included, how the tools of statistics can best be applied to planning, for emergencies or otherwise. Look […]

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