Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Nov/09

27

The Church of Climate Change?

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Heather, in the course of your (fine) post on Syncopation and Thanksgiving, you reject the notion “that global warming theory represents some atavistic religious impulse.” In one sense, of course, you are quite right to do so. The idea that we might be seeing evidence (the current rather tricky pause notwithstanding) of anthropogenic global warming is a not unreasonable scientific hypothesis. And it deserves to be taken seriously.

The theory is one thing, but the creed is another. Many proponents of the premise that AGW is real have chosen to pitch their ideas, and many of their followers have chosen to believe them, in ways that rely on faith more than reason, and which do indeed look very much like a religion, complete with notions of sinners and the righteous, elaborate displays of self-abasement and moral preening, and, of course, the thrill of the End Times. Needless to say, it’s yet another reminder of how widespread a human characteristic religious belief really is.

Of course the Warmergate scandal-with its intriguing suggestions of sharp practice within AGW’s ‘priesthood’-only underlines the similarities of this new cult with the more established religions so indulgently cheering it on.

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10 comments

  • Secular Right gets it wrong on climate change « Poliskeptics · November 27, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    […] today’s over at Secular Right: The idea that we might be seeing evidence (the current rather tricky pause […]

  • John · November 27, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    In writing this post SR has taken a page from every anti-scientific bozo in the Blogosphere. Accusing conclusions based on scientific evidence of being “faith-based,” obfuscating the PhD system with a “priesthood” and, of course, what is virtually an ad hominem. Proclaiming that because of one e-mail – which was the only even mildly alarming thing anyone could find among 160,000,000 bytes of stolen data that was about making data look pretty (not about forging it) – that science is faith is indistinguishable from the only kinds of attacks Creationists really have to make about the facts of evolution.

  • Secular Right » The Religion of Climate Change? (2) · November 27, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    […] repeat myself (from my earlier post), I happen to believe that AGW is a “not unreasonable scientific hypothesis” (in fact I […]

  • Mike H · November 27, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    @John

    There was more than one implicating email. If even people directly involved have been rather sheepish about the whole sordid mess I don’t know why bloggers should rush to the defense of the CRU at East Anglia. The question of whether these transgressions by major names in the field should discredit the entire theory is another one – but there’s no doubt that these individuals acted unethically and exposed themselves as “the end justifies the means” partisans.

    To me the global warming movement isn’t really religious, it’s just highly political and the more it has become entwined with political and governmental entities, the bigger a role the theory and its proponents have played in policy decisions, the more it has moved away from the neutral role science should occupy. It becomes an adversarial model in which dissenters become opponents, skeptics become bozos, there are good guys who can’t do wrong and bad guys who are nefarious villains who would be capable of anything. Theories and models become agenda points which are passionately fought over and thus solidify in people’s minds as convictions beyond reproach. Scientists fight these fights alongside political activists of all stripes and different agendas fuse and manipulate each other. It’s in such an environment that information which might put previously held views in doubt isn’t helpful anymore as it should be in science but a setback that needs to be covered up and spun. Progress isn’t measured in knowledge gained but the way Democrats consider passing any healthcare bill a victory.

  • John · November 27, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    To date I haven’t seen anything other than an e-mail about making graphs look prettier and generally nothing other than a minor sin in the frenzy for publication that is academia. That and climate change deniers going, “thank goodness, we don’t have to debate facts anymore, we can just call a handful of e-mails about gussying up a spreadsheet ‘discrediting of the theory.'” Echoes of, “did you know Darwin was a racist?!”

  • Kevembuangga · November 27, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    To date I haven’t seen anything other than an e-mail about making graphs look prettier and generally nothing other than a minor sin

    Could it be because you know jackshit about statistics and data processing?
    (scroll down a few paragraphs)

  • John · November 27, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    @Kevembuangga

    I would especially point you to John Emerson’s post in your link, and point out that after reading several paragraphs I found absolutely nothing about statistics and data processing. Thanks for the ad hominem, though.

  • obijuan · November 28, 2009 at 4:42 am

    Agree with John. The global warming skeptics are in like case to Creationists. Their skepticism doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com

    The CRU hack thing reminds me of how the right thought we’d find all sorts of WMD in Iraq. And after invading Fox did trumpet certain finds, but they all turned out to be nothing. It’s exactly the same with the CRU hack. There just isn’t anything there. No grand conspiracy. No emails from Al Gore. No payoffs from Soros. Etc.

    The science behind global warming stands, as do the observable effects.

  • Le Mur · November 28, 2009 at 8:22 am

    “The Church of Climate Change?”

    Sure! But at least they have data, even though it passes thru things like:
    [0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,- 0.1,0.3,0.8,1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor

    The “National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research” (in NZ) just got caught faking, er, “adjusting”, their data, too.

    “Could it be because you know jackshit about statistics and data processing?”

    Here’s lot more info on how “they” are bascially faking it: http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=1362
    There are lies, there are damned lies, and there’s “climate modelling.”

    FWIW, I have a BS math/MS physics and have written plenty of “simulations” of physical systems (none nearly as complicated as climate modelling), and I have no doubt that their computer simulations, which are definitely NOT “science”, should ALWAYS be taken with a giant grain of salt – because they’re almost certainly wrong.

    Dyson: “Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models.”

  • Author comment by Heather Mac Donald · November 28, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    “which do indeed look very much like a religion, complete with notions of sinners and the righteous, elaborate displays of self-abasement and moral preening, and, of course, the thrill of the End Times.”

    I wonder where one would end up conceptually if one treated religion as just one possible manifestation of such prior behaviors and conceits, rather than as their original cause? In any case, in aniticipating Andrew’s inevitable response to my Thanksgiving post, I was thinking about the perennial desire to scourge the flesh, whether through flagellation; Puritan, Hindu, New Age, and anorexic fasts; marathons and their more extreme Iron Man-ish counterparts; or anti-consumerist movements like environmentalism (the latter of which I generally subscribe to, except for the insanely excessive attack on our friends the chemicals). Something perennially drives humans to renunciation and a disgust with material existence. I tend to the view these days that our propensity to consume is to be celebrated as an affirmation of life, until I read about the inevitable Black Friday stampede: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2009/11/black-friday-walmart-in-upland-temporarily-closes-after-fighting-inside.html

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