When to Trust the Experts (Climate and Otherwise)


This refers to Scott Adams’s Blog,  “Dilbert”, a really interesting and commonsense article posted 11th Sept 2017.

Our duo of hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have elevated the perceived risks of climate change in a lot of people’s minds. Are these disasters, and the record heat in many places, a sign of climate warming already out of control?

The quick answer is maybe, but climate scientists will need a lot more data and probably a few more years to know whether we are seeing a blip or a trend. From a persuasion perspective, the fascinating thing to me is that the climate science “sides” have reversed because of the storms. And here I am only talking about non-scientists on social media.

Last winter I saw climate skeptics (or deniers in some cases) proclaiming climate change a hoax because it was cold outside. The scientists and pro-climate-change folks mocked those poor souls for not understanding the difference between anecdotal evidence and science. You can’t determine a long term trend by looking out the window, say all scientists. And if you think you can, you’re being a big dope who doesn’t know the first thing about science.

If you don’t understand that anecdotal data in isolation is generally useless to scientists, you don’t understand anything about science. A year ago, that described a lot of climate skeptics who were looking out their windows, seeing snow, and declaring climate change a hoax.

But that was last year. This week the sides reversed. Now I keep seeing climate alarmists on social media looking at the hurricanes and declaring them strong evidence of climate change. They might be right. But if they are, it is by coincidence and not by science. Scientists say it is too early to tell. So now we have a bizarre situation in which the pro-science side is disagreeing with the scientists on their own side. That’s what confirmation bias gets you. Both sides see anecdotal evidence as real. Both sides think they respect and understand the basics of science. Both sides are wrong.

Please excuse my generalities here. Obviously there are plenty of smart people on both sides who understand that anecdotal information is not confirmation of anything. But in terms of what I see on social media, the hurricanes have turned a lot of people on the pro-science side into believers in anecdotal evidence. Here’s one example. Read from bottom up.

And this brings me to my topic of the day: How do you know when to trust experts? My hypothesis is that people who have the most experience in the real world trust experts the least. To make that point, allow me to give you a brief tour of my experience with experts.

The remainder of the article is linked here, well worth reading, IMHO.

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About Ken McMurtrie

Retired Electronics Engineer, most recently installing and maintaining medical X-Ray equipment. A mature age "student" of Life and Nature, an advocate of Truth, Justice and Humanity, promoting awareness of the injustices in the world.
This entry was posted in AGW, climate change, ENVIRONMENT, Human Behaviour, Science and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to When to Trust the Experts (Climate and Otherwise)

  1. Supporting information:
    Politics Disguised as Science: When to Doubt a Scientific ‘Consensus’
    https://stream.org/doubt-scientific-consensus/#.VMr6RWbHEjU.facebook
    “Anyone who has studied the history of science knows that scientists are not immune to the non-rational dynamics of the herd.”

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