Friday, November 7, 2014

Not a scientist


I'm not a scientist, either. That's why I listen to scientists.

I know enough about the scientific method to understand how scientists come to a worldwide consensus about reality (while religions and other faith-based institutions can never agree even among themselves).

And I know enough about history to see the immense benefits science has given us all in the relatively short span of just a few hundred years. We live lives that emperors could only dream about - assuming they could even imagine it at all - a few centuries ago.

We live longer, healthier, easier lives - and we can expect our children and grandchildren not just to survive childhood (which was a real achievement before science) but to enjoy even greater understanding, more progress, and a better life than we have.

Note that even scientists can't be experts in everything. A scientist outside his own field of expertise might have a little more knowledge than you - or might not. Either way, it's the scientists working within their own field of expertise who demonstrate reality to their peers through research and evidence. (Thus, biologists come to a worldwide consensus about evolution, climatologists come to a worldwide consensus about climate change, etc.)

You don't have to be a scientist to understand this, and it doesn't take an advanced degree. Heck, you should have learned it in grade school! "Not a scientist" isn't an excuse to be that ignorant, and it's not an excuse to be that stupid, either.

Oh, and Sen. James Inhofe is not a skeptic. Skeptics are people who match their beliefs to the evidence. Inhofe is entirely faith-based, not evidence-based. If the evidence contradicts his dogma, he rejects the evidence. Inhofe, and people like him, are global warming deniers, not skeptics.

If you're not a scientist - and even if you are a scientist, but it's a question outside your own specialty - you should still know enough about the scientific method to accept the scientific consensus, whatever it is, as the best answer we've got.

No one is infallible, of course. There are no guarantees. But it would be stupid to bet against the scientific consensus, and if it is wrong, scientists will be the first to discover that and correct their error.

Republican politicians are using "not a scientist" to avoid saying anything. Some of them know better, but they want to toe the party line without looking too stupid. After all, they're being funded by fossil fuel companies, the Koch brothers, and others who're making a great deal of money on America's continued stupidity.

Others are so entirely faith-based that they don't care about looking - or being - stupid, but like politicians everywhere, they don't want to give opponents any ammunition. As I say, "not a scientist" is just a way to avoid giving an answer.

James Inhofe doesn't have to worry about that. For a senator from Oklahoma, stupid is a benefit, not a drawback - especially when it pleases big campaign donors.

2 comments:

jeff725 said...

Remember, Joni Ernst says climate change is just an "opinion." But that's what I expect from the state of

Idiots
Out
Wandering
Around

WCG said...

:)