Mathturbation and denialism

Lovely post at tamino (tag line “Science, Politics, Life, the Universe and Everything”) about the lengths denialists now have to go to.

In fact it’s astounding how much known physics has to be ignored. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, that’s no longer a matter of opinion. Sulphate aerosols cool the planet, we’ve seen it happen (from both factory emissions and volcanic eruptions), and we can model it with impressive accuracy. Solar changes have had a modest impact, and no recent trend, because solar changes have been modest, with no recent trend. And yes, Virginia, feedbacks really exist, like water-vapor feedback which is every bit as undeniable as CO2, while a notable increase in water vapor content has been observed.

I suggest there are two motives for the proliferation of such “theories.” One is the obvious: those who have an ideological objection to holding business responsible for its actions, will bend over backwards to convince themselves global warming is not real, or it’s not caused by man, or it’s not dangerous.The other is the natural tendency for smart people to play with numbers and ideas, find interesting relationships, then persuade themselves they’ve happened on a key insight. This often requires ignoring the existing literature of climate science — otherwise you’d know how much is already known, and how little (or none) your new “pet” theory adds to understanding.

The emphasis in the second paragraph is added. Despite the comedy tags I’m adding to this post, I do think tamino is onto something…

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