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← Thank you, Matt Ridley

Mark Jones's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by Mark Jones

Yikes! Cite a study showing that experts cannot predict political outcomes and then conclude that (all, presumably?) "experts are worse at forecasting the future than non-experts." That's quite a howler to start with.

The consensus could be wrong, but how is Matt Ridley justified in doubting it? He gives us no reason (apart from "I’ve spent a lot of time on climate") to explain why we should heed him above the consensus, so I can't see why we should. He does say that he perceives confirmation bias in climate science. Is this unique to climate science? Surely not, so does he accuse Richard Dawkins of blatant confirmation bias in his popular biology books? Not that I recall, but correct me if I'm wrong.

The flaws he discusses are common to human endeavour; it's science that mitigates them. If science mitigates them for evolution by natural selection, so it does for climate science, unless he can show that climate science suffers from a unique failure in the scientific method. I've yet to see evidence of that, although much is offered up by sceptics. It's possible, of course.

Apart from all the human flaws we know already, his argument that climate science is unique among the sciences for being a pseudoscience appears to be because he's been attacked for expressing scepticism about it in universities and the BBC. That clearly doesn't follow, just as it wouldn't follow if sceptics of any other science discipline claimed it, either.

My argument is that like religion, science as an institution is and always has been plagued by the temptations of confirmation bias. With alarming ease it morphs into pseudoscience even – perhaps especially – in the hands of elite experts and especially when predicting the future and when there’s lavish funding at stake. It needs heretics.

This is an argument for the advocacy of creationism, too, as far as I can see.

Tue, 08 Nov 2011 16:16:46 UTC | #888646