Archive for November, 2012
The New York Times warns civilization likely to end due to manmade warming – Professor Armstrong tries to avert panic.
On November 24, 2012, The New York Times published an article titled “Is this the End?,” which warned that manmade global warming is likely to destroy our civilization. The article was published nine days after the NYT published Cass Sunstein’s article advocating that policies on dangerous manmade global warming should be based on cost-benefit analyses, that the government had calculated a net benefit for costly policies, and that Ronald Reagan once agreed with a cost-benefit analysis. I was unable to contact Professor Sunstein to find the sources of the “cost-benefit analyses.” In an effort to calm panic-stricken readers, I wrote a Letter to the Editor at The New York Times revealing that while cost-benefit analysis is indeed the proper method, none has shown likely net harm arising from global warming. Evidence-based forecasts of dangerous warming and of the effects of alternative policies are missing. Strangely, my evidence-based forecasts that our civilization is not threatened by dangerous warming did not meet the NYT criteria of “All the news that’s fit to print.” If you know any NYT readers, please inform them that they are safe.
Wall Street Journal readers were spared panic. They had read No Need to Panic About Global Warming in January 2012.
Scott Armstrong’s letter responding to Margaret Wertheim’s rather strange attempt to associate skepticism over alarming forecasts of global warming with pseudoscience, was published in the Wall Street Journal on 2 November 2012. The online version is available here, and the text of the letter was as follows.
Regarding Margaret Wertheim’s “strange and dangerous” view of science displayed in her review of Michael D. Gordin’s “The Pseudoscience Wars” (Bookshelf, Oct. 23): Science isn’t based on the opinions of scientists. Rather it is a process that tests reasonable alternative hypotheses and describes this so that others can challenge the findings. Discoveries arising from this process often seem absurd to scientists when initially presented. Many Nobel Prize winners have described the negative reactions to their most important findings.
It seems odd then that Ms. Wertheim should choose the Immanuel Velikovsky case to illustrate pseudoscience. Velikovsky provided full disclosure of his hypothesis and asked other scientists to test predictions from his hypothesis. It was other scientists who acted in an unscientific manner, with ad hominem attacks and attempts to stop his views from being heard. Ms. Wertheim apparently believes these responses were appropriate and by extension, she believes that hypotheses that humans have little influence on global average temperatures should not be heard or tested. She even suggests that scientists who propose such hypotheses aren’t credible because some of them received funding from sources that don’t meet with her approval.
Prof. J. Scott Armstrong
University of Pennsylvania
With only two months to go until the half-way point of Scott Armstrong’s notional bet with Al Gore, it is impossible for Mr Gore to take the half-time lead. He would have to be perfectly accurate for the next two months, as well as have been perfectly accurate for the six just gone in order to do so. The latest chart showing the progress of the bet to October 2012 is to the right. Click on it for a larger image.