Having praised his work in this week’s first “News Roundup” item, let us repeat here our one big disagreement with Tony Heller, which is that he thinks climate alarmism is a “fraud“ and a “scam” and says so in virtually every post. The Manhattan Contrarian, another source for whom we have very high regard, agrees. Drawing partly on Heller’s work, he has published a series on “The Greatest Scientific Fraud Of All Time”. But we take a very different view of all the deliberate and highly unscientific tampering with evidence. We think the zealots at NOAA, and a great many other places, are not trying to scam us with claims they secretly think are untrue. Instead they are so utterly persuaded that their alarmist theory is right that when the data don’t fit it, as happens often, they conclude that the data must be wrong. For one thing, if they were cheating on purpose they’d hide it better. And for another we think that after a while the perpetrators of a known fraud would tire of constantly lying. It’s easier to believe climate alarmists are wedded to a flawed theory and have constructed ingenious ways to rationalize its many failures without having to face the possibility that it might be untrue. So we defer to the leading climate skeptic who recently tweeted, “Imagine being so intellectually deficient that you convince yourself anyone with a different opinion is corrupt.” His name? Tony Heller.
The crucial point here is that what Thomas Kuhn said of scientific “paradigms” is clearly true of people’s beliefs in a great many other areas from economics to geopolitics and their personal matters. Human beings go to a lot of trouble to construct coherent world-views on important matters. And they don’t expect them to explain every single piece of evidence easily and perfectly. What they ask is that on balance they make the best sense of the “blooming and buzzing confusion” of sensory input that confronts us (William James’s phrase) from our complex universe so the thinker can make decisions and take actions. And once someone is “invested” in such a view in whatever area, having been convinced by the way that particular “paradigm” or Gestalt or Weltanschauung seems to be supported by what seem to be the most important and relevant facts, they will go to considerable mental effort to fit new and less compelling facts into the existing framework before taking the intellectual, professional and social trouble to change their position dramatically.
To say so is not to embrace relativism or to accuse them of laziness. Rather, it is to insist that people are logical slowly. And both parts make sense, the logic and the caution, because anyone who changed their opinions at the first sign of an unexpected development would never be able to think at all and, being mentally paralyzed, would also be unable to act. So the trick in determining when a theory is holding up well under fire and when it is on fire is to avoid the sin of pride, and admit it when too many facts are pointing in another direction for our current conviction to be sustainable.
As, for instance, when you make claims that across the globe, people somehow misread thermometers in a way that created the impression of stable temperature over most of the past century when actually it was cooling over a long interval. And the related problem that if someone wanted to predict, without looking, how much NOAA had adjusted the temperature in any given past year, far and away the most reliable input factor would be the level of atmospheric CO2. Low CO2 levels cause NOAA to “adjust” temperatures downward, and high levels cause it to adjust them upward. Almost as if they were so sure what they were looking for was there that they always found it no matter what. Behavior that, in anyone they disagreed with, would immediately lead them to cry foul.
P.S. In Crawfordsville, wherever that might be, the net adjustment over a somewhat longer period, just over a century, is, gosh looky here again, about 4.2°F. And no bonus for guessing that the further back you go, the more they lower it. None whatsoever.