steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Climate and Opinion

I'm very far from being a climate-change denier, but it bothers me when those who defend the consensus point out (as, in media interviews, they invariably do) that only about 3% of scientists are in that camp, with 97% believing in man-made climate change - as if that were an argument for climate change in itself. It makes me want to jump on the sofa shouting, "In 1543 99% of scientists believed the sun went round the earth, stupidhead! Don't you know how science even works? It's not a democracy!"

Of course, I don't do that at all, but those who know me well might see the corner of my eye tremor slightly in a suppressed wince.

Naturally I understand their frustration. The BBC, for example, seems to feel that its duty to be balanced means that it can never interview a scientist with one opinion without also giving equal air time to a scientist who believes the opposite - and the effect from the believers' point of view is distorting in itself, putting the President of the Royal Society on a par with Mad Jack Crack and his Prophetic Bladderwrack.

Although science isn't a democracy, I think the Beeb might learn a lesson for the reporting of science from its own political coverage during elections. Then, it regularly consigns the fringe parties to oblivion, merely meeting its legal obligation by noting that "a full list of candidates can be found on our website." Why couldn't it do something similar with climate change, and end each report with the observation that "Cooky opinions are also available"? It might be better than the current situation, which is both confusing for lay people and tempts climate change scientists into questionable forms of argument.
Tags: maunderings
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