Consensus or science?

The Bellingham Herald blog and others were calling attention to a student who is raising questions regarding political bias in a school text book. The student calls attention to a portion of the text on global warming.

Science doesn’t know whether we are experiencing a dangerous level of global warming or how bad the greenhouse effect is, if it exists at all.

Think Progress refers to the text writers as written by “conservative ideologues” while the AP story merely refers to them as conservative, but also throws in that one of the authors “formerly worked for the Bush administration as director of faith-based initiatives.” I don’t think that description was given to further the discussion on global warming in the text as much as it was there to get President Bush into the picture. Seems fair, what with President Bush killing polar bears and all. The AP story also states that the same book also touches on prayer in school, which of course legal, but not relevant to this discussion.

What I found really cool about this buzz today was that the Herald also ran a story from an interview with local Dr. Easterbrook. While the AP is making statements like

the overwhelming majority of climate scientists and peer-reviewed scientific research say human activity is causing climate change. Last year an international collection of hundreds of scientists and government officials unanimously approved wording that said the scientific community had “very high confidence,” meaning more than 90 percent likelihood, that global warming is caused by humans.

and quoting an expert

Hansen has sent Houghton Mifflin a letter stating that the book’s discussion on global warming contained “a large number of clearly erroneous statements” that give students “the mistaken impression that the scientific evidence of global warming is doubtful and uncertain.”

to bolster their story about how the world is in consensus that man is the cause of global warming; the Herald story with Dr. Easterbrook is proving that the text book is actually correct.

Fluctuations in solar radiation could mean colder weather in the decades ahead, despite all the talk about global warming, retired Western Washington University geologist Don Easterbrook said Tuesday.

Easterbrook is convinced that the threat of global warming from mankind’s carbon dioxide pollution is overblown.

Sounds like there is “whether we are experiencing a dangerous level of global warming or how bad the greenhouse effect is, if it exists at all.”

And what of this international collection of scientists? First, notice how the consensus committee never assigns a value to how much man may be affecting the climate with CO2. Is there consensus that it is a lot or a little? And what of the 10% minority who didn’t concede? Could they be right?

Let’s consider a few other consensus situations:

  • The world is flat – Several brave explorers including Columbus put this inaccurate scientific consensus to rest.
  • The earth is the center of the solar system – Galileo did some hard time, trying convince the scientific consensus of his day that the planets actually went around the sun.
  • Bloodletting cures – this one time consensus medical treatment doesn’t seem to be as popular as it once was; at least not in Ferndale.

So I think, at the very least, it would be prudent to consider that global warming is not all that Al Gore and his Nobel prize winning consensus cracks it up to be; perhaps we should just go ahead and leave the text book in the classroom.

Consensus is consensus, not science.

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3 Comments.

  1. Michael Crichton gave a very fine speech at Cal Tech in 2003, which addresses this aberration called “consensus science”–

    http://www.crichton-official.com/speech-alienscauseglobalwarming.html

  2. Also his book called “State of Fear” did an amazing job of showing how some “consensus” can be forced or manipulated. Even some of the scientists who make up that consensus group do so to keep their jobs or funding.