|Note: In fairness to Isaac his actual remarks had a quotation mark before "my ignorance" which indicates those words were spoken by someone else.|
By Bob Ferris
I am in another electronic debate on climate. The person involved, hammered by 10 penny nails to his beliefs, maintains that while he accepts that "global warming" is happening, that it is natural and not caused by humans. In defense of his position he offers the below graphic which makes me think immediately of the above Asimov graphic, IBM Selectric and all.
Our believer has offered up this graphic as well as pieces from conservative writers questioning the scientific consensus on climate change and our role in it. One of his proffered pieces was written by a gentleman with a liberal arts BA (1) and the other with a BA in philosophy (1). The graphics and citations come entirely from the conservative world and from non-scientists. My argument is that he is offering a political opinion and he disagrees saying the he has taken an "objective" approach. Hmm.
I have always liked the above quote by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. I think with a little remolding it can be applied to this situation. It is not a problem for this gentleman or any person to have an opinion. Yahoo, great. Where the problem comes is when that opinion addresses the scientific or technical. If one wants to step into that realm and have an impact credentials and rationale for involvement become as relevant as the arguments presented. In my mind, a combination of credentials and strength of argument are those forces that take the raw coal of random opinion and push it more towards being the diamond that lives in the realm of facts.
If one wants to offer up something as a "political opinion," that works too if identified as such. Possible examples include: I am a conservative and do not believe that climate change is man-made or I am a liberal and think that fossil-fuels are evil. Both of these statements clearly identify which horse brought you to the party. In this person's case all external links provided were from sites with political biases and not sites that pedal science. It defies logic that science would flow out of outlets where content is provided by non-scientist that overtly embrace an ideology. Not impossible but unlikely.
But I think that we have reached a point where unqualified opinions on climate change should not be countenanced. The ads by Holiday Inn Express (above) were cute but in real life and with real consequences feeling smart just does not get the job done and we need to call out people who think it does. So I am back to it.