A Few Things Ill Considered

A layman's take on the science of Global Warming featuring a guide on How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

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Definately Not Galileo

A common theme among hardcore denialists, after slowly dragging them around to admit there is a consensus, is an appeal to the Galileo syndrome. "Galileo went against the consensus and he was right!" This is a flawed argument in the climate change debate for many reasons, and it is a Guide entry that is missing for the moment.

I am only bringing it up now, rather than do a proper entry, because of a discussion paper by Ernst-Georg Beck that was presented on Warwick Hughes' blog (no relation to me... to Glenn Beck? I don't know). It is basically a well dressed version of the "there is no anthropogenic CO2 rise" argument. Eli Rabett took the time to take it apart in a rather thorough and scientific manner, especially given the total lack of a credible conclusion Beck arrives at. You can see the featured graph at Deltoid and read Stoat's dismissive opinion of it here.

The irony I want to point out is that Galileo was a forward thinker, reaching into previously untrodden territory. His innovation and imagination helped him see past the prevailing state of human knowledge at the time and go into new ground. What are the denialists doing here? Digging up decades old research with results all over the place, results that lead to all sorts of impossible conclusions and then trying to claim that this is the reality and the new, consistent and refined results are the ones that are wrong. Never mind that this is what progress looks like, this is many minds working to overcome the challenges that caused prior confusion to finally achieve consistent, sensible and reliable data.

But what if you don't like what the new data are telling you? Just chuck it and go back to the old stuff!

Sorry, that is so not Galileo!

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  • At October 05, 2006 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In his most famous spat with the church, Galileo was espousing heliocentrism, which had been put forth by Copernicus long before Galileo was born. So he was trodding old ground there.

    Though perhaps it would be considered "new" data with respect to the competing theory...the Bible!

  • At October 16, 2006 10:52 AM, Blogger EliRabett said…

    My formulation of this is "They laughed at Einstein, they laugh at me. Therefore I am Einstein" Usually I am then approached by men in white coats.

  • At July 03, 2007 12:19 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Hmm, there's another problem with going with relating to Galileo as proof that the consensus isn't always right:

    Galileo was using a telescope to make observations and arguing with people who refused to make observations. Since he was on the side taking data and making conclusions in the fight against geocentrism as opposed to an ex cathedra argument from, well the cathedra itself, Galileo was on the side qualified to have the opinion, while the rest of the world really wasn't.


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