02 November, 2011

Matt Ridley on Pseudo-Science

Bishop Hill provides the text of Matt Ridley’s excellent speech, “Scientific heresy”, a lecture at the Royal Society of Arts in Edinburgh:
Does it matter?  Suppose I am right that much of what passes for mainstream climate science is now infested with pseudoscience, buttressed by a bad case of confirmation-bias, reliant on wishful thinking, given a free pass by biased reporting and dogmatically intolerant of dissent.  So what?
After all there’s pseudoscience and confirmation-bias among the climate heretics too.
Well, here’s why it matters.  The alarmists have been handed power over our lives; the heretics have not.  Remember, Britain’s unilateral Climate Act is officially expected to cost the hard-pressed UK economy £18.3 billion a year for the next 39 years and achieve an unmeasurably small change in carbon dioxide levels.
At least sceptics do not cover the hills of Scotland with useless, expensive, duke-subsidising wind turbines whose manufacture causes pollution in Inner Mongolia and which kill rare raptors such as this griffon vulture.
At least crop circle believers cannot almost double your electricity bills and increase fuel poverty while driving jobs to Asia, to support their fetish.
At least creationists have not persuaded the BBC that balanced reporting is no longer necessary.
At least homæopaths have not made expensive condensing boilers, which shut down in cold weather, compulsory, as John Prescott did in 2005.
At least astrologers have not driven millions of people into real hunger, perhaps killing 192,000 last year according to one conservative estimate, by diverting 5% of the world’s grain crop into motor fuel.
That’s why it matters.  We’ve been asked to take some very painful cures.  So we need to be sure the patient has a brain tumour rather than a nosebleed.
UPDATE:  meanwhile, at Real Science, Steve Goddard notes that the world must have ended eleven years ago: 
San Jose Mercury News (CA) - June 30, 1989 – 3F General News
A senior environmental official at the United Nations, Noel Brown, says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if global warming is not reversed by the year 2000.  Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of “eco-refugees,” threatening political chaos, said Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program.  He said governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect...

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