Chuck Todd: “We’re Not Going to Give TV Time to Climate Deniers”


Everyone can go home now. “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd has declared that the science of climate change has officially been settled.

“We’re not going to debate climate change, the existence of it. The Earth is getting hotter. And human activity is a major cause, period,” said Todd. “We’re not going to give time to climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not.”

Todd wants you to believe that it's proven that humans are causing the climate to change and that it is only ‘unsettled' due to politics. It is ignorance defined.

Claims that the “the science isn’t settled” with regard to climate change are symptomatic of a large body of ignorance about how science works. So what is the scientific method, and why do so many people, sometimes including those trained in science, get it so wrong?

The first thing to understand is that there is no one method in science, no one way of doing things. This is intimately connected with how we reason in general.

Settled does not mean proved

One of the great errors in the public understanding of science is to equate settled with proved. While Einstein’s theories are “settled”, they are not proved. But to plan for them not to work would be utter folly.

As the philosopher John Dewey pointed out in his book Logic: The Theory of Inquiry:

In scientific inquiry, the criterion of what is taken to be settled, or to be knowledge, is [of the science] being so settled that it is available as a resource in further inquiry; not being settled in such a way as not to be subject to revision in further inquiry.

Those who demand the science be “settled” before we take action are seeking deductive certainty where we are working inductively. And there are other sources of confusion.

One is that simple statements about cause and effect are rare since nature is complex. For example, a theory might predict that X will cause Y, but that Y will be mitigated by the presence of Z and not occur at all if Q is above a critical level. To reduce this to the simple statement “X causes Y” is naive.

Another is that even though some broad ideas may be settled, the details remain a source of lively debate. For example, that evolution has occurred is certainly settled by any rational account. But some details of how natural selection operates are still being fleshed out.

To confuse the details of natural selection with the fact of evolution is highly analogous to quibbles about dates and exact temperatures from modeling and researching climate change when it is very clear that the planet is warming in general.

When our theories are successful at predicting outcomes, and form a web of higher level theories that are themselves successful, we have a strong case for grounding our actions in them.

The mark of intelligence is to progress in an uncertain world and the science of climate change, of human health and of the ecology of our planet has given us orders of magnitude more confidence than we need to act with certitude.

Demanding deductive certainty before committing to action does not make us strong, it paralyzes us.

Source: ACSH



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  1. Bob

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