Thursday, April 19, 2007

Just Chillin'

In yet another compelling sign of global warming,the Canadian coastguard has been busy trying to rescue more than 100 seal hunter ships trapped in ice in the Atlantic, which are in danger of being crushed by the freezing ice.

An unconfirmed rumor of hundreds of mean seals seen sticking their tongues out at the hopelessly ice-bound ships (until the Spring Summer? Thaw) has Polar scientists scratching their heads.

Stay tuned...

"Aliens Cause Global Warming"

Some of you may be aware that best-selling author, Michael Crichton, was a 1969 graduate of the Harvard Medical School. His post-doctoral study at the Salk Institute for Biological Science at La Jolla, Ca. was cut short by his writing career. I would like to give you his take on global warming in a historical context that he first posed in a lecture at the California Institute of Technology. I ask that as you read this, those brave souls among us who will read it, remember that this lecture was given over four years ago. It is rather long, but is never-the-less a fascinating take on global politics. I just ran across it, and feel that it is worthy of our time.

Pasadena, CA
January 17, 2003

Aliens Cause Global Warming
by Michael Crichton

"My topic today sounds humorous but unfortunately I am serious. I am going to argue that extraterrestrials lie behind global warming. Or to speak more precisely, I will argue that a belief in extraterrestrials has paved the way, in a progression of steps, to a belief in global warming. Charting this progression of belief will be my task today.

Let me say at once that I have no desire to discourage anyone from believing in either extraterrestrials or global warming. That would be quite impossible to do. Rather, I want to discuss the history of several widely-publicized beliefs and to point to what I consider an emerging crisis in the whole enterprise of science-namely the increasingly uneasy relationship between hard science and public policy.

I have a special interest in this because of my own upbringing. I was born in the midst of World War II, and passed my formative years at the height of the Cold War. In school drills, I dutifully crawled under my desk in preparation for a nuclear attack.

It was a time of widespread fear and uncertainty, but even as a child I believed that science represented the best and greatest hope for mankind. Even to a child, the contrast was clear between the world of politics-a world of hate and danger, of irrational beliefs and fears, of mass manipulation and disgraceful blots on human history. In contrast, science held different values-international in scope, forging friendships and working relationships across national boundaries and political systems, encouraging a dispassionate habit of thought, and ultimately leading to fresh knowledge and technology that would benefit all mankind. The world might not be a very good place, but science would make it better. And it did. In my lifetime, science has largely fulfilled its promise. Science has been the great intellectual adventure of our age, and a great hope for our troubled and restless world.

But I did not expect science merely to extend lifespan, feed the hungry, cure disease, and shrink the world with jets and cell phones. I also expected science to banish the evils of human thought---prejudice and superstition, irrational beliefs and false fears. I expected science to be, in Carl Sagan's memorable phrase, "a candle in a demon haunted world." And here, I am not so pleased with the impact of science. Rather than serving as a cleansing force, science has in some instances been seduced by the more ancient lures of politics and publicity. Some of the demons that haunt our world in recent years are invented by scientists. The world has not benefited from permitting these demons to escape free.

But let's look at how it came to pass..."

(I can't resist giving you this kernel in the middle of his lecture, in which he reminds us:)

"I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.

Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period."

read the rest here.

Tomorrow, I plan on giving you an excerpt from his book, State of Fear, subtitled, "Why Politicized Science Is Dangerous", published in 2004.

God, I love the voice of Reason.

The Anchoress