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Is Scientific Consensus a Threat to Democracy?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the what-isn't-nowadays dept.

Politics 836

chance_encounter writes "President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus has published an article in the Financial Times in which he seems to equate the current global warming debate with totalitarian thought control: 'The dictates of political correctness are strict and only one permitted truth, not for the first time in human history, is imposed on us. Everything else is denounced ... The scientists should help us and take into consideration the political effects of their scientific opinions. They have an obligation to declare their political and value assumptions and how much they have affected their selection and interpretation of scientific evidence.' At the end of the article he proposes several suggestions to improve the global climate debate, including this point: 'Let us resist the politicization of science and oppose the term "scientific consensus," which is always achieved only by a loud minority, never by a silent majority.'"

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836 comments

Threat to democracy? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525175)

Threat to democracy? No.

Threat to scientifically illiterate politicians? Maybe.

Re:Threat to democracy? (0)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525323)

" 'Let us resist the politicization of science and oppose the term "scientific consensus," which is always achieved only by a loud minority, never by a silent majority.'"

Amen. I wish we had some more common sense politicians (and citizens) like the president of the Czech Republic in the U.S.

Re:Threat to democracy? (1)

ubikkibu (544498) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525355)

Unfortunately, we do.

You forgot the quotes around "common sense."

Re:Threat to democracy? (1)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525451)

Unfortunately, we do.

But he doesn't directly and eloquently say what needs to be said like the President of the Czech Republic.

You forgot the quotes around "common sense."

I didn't forget anything. But cute response.

Re:Threat to democracy? (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525559)

But cute response

It's the standard pseudo-intellectual put-down. Ridiculing someone who disagrees is always easier than actually supporting a position with a rational argument. These days it's tossed at anyone who doesn't agree 100% with Al Gore. In earlier decades, it was tossed at people who disagreed with the presumed moral superiority of communism.

-jcr

Re:Threat to democracy? (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525663)

The reverse is also true- I know in several circles there is a "burn the witch" attitude towards anybody who mentions global warming.

Finally, someone said it (3, Insightful)

prometheon123 (835586) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525187)

Consensus science isn't science, it's politics, and that's exactly what the Global Warming debate is about: politics

Up is down day is night (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525281)

this is just sad, just plain sad. How could the FT publish such drivel?

Re:Finally, someone said it (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525287)

Nice troll fucktard. Global warming is real, it is not only man made but is specifically created by the USians. Why don't you think Shrub refuses to sign the Kyoto treaty? The fucktarded USians don't give a fuck about the rest of the world. The only sane ones are similar to Al Gore.

Re:Finally, someone said it (1, Troll)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525429)

Nice troll fucktard. Global warming is real, it is not only man made but is specifically created by the USians. Why don't you think Shrub refuses to sign the Kyoto treaty? The fucktarded USians don't give a fuck about the rest of the world. The only sane ones are similar to Al Gore.

Real? yes

Anthropomorphic? Lets wait until this sunspot cycle dies down to find out

Why not Kyoto? Maybe because China and India have no obligations under Kyoto

Dont care about the reset of the world? Ill put up us aid to poor regions against your rants any day

Al Gore Sane? Bwhahahaha

Be gone AC

Re:Finally, someone said it (2, Insightful)

doublegauss (223543) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525659)


Nice troll fucktard. Global warming is real, it is not only man made but is specifically created by the USians. Why don't you think Shrub refuses to sign the Kyoto treaty? The fucktarded USians don't give a fuck about the rest of the world. The only sane ones are similar to Al Gore.

Real? yes

Anthropomorphic? Lets wait until this sunspot cycle dies down to find out
Hmm. Suppose we have no time until then. What would you suggest we do, just say "Oops, sorry, you were right after all"?

Why not Kyoto? Maybe because China and India have no obligations under Kyoto
So?

Dont care about the reset of the world? Ill put up us aid to poor regions against your rants any day
That's not caring. That is charity. Charity reinforces subordination.

Re:Finally, someone said it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525649)

Haha. You almost didn't go over the top enough for people to realize you were joking.

Re:Finally, someone said it (3, Insightful)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525321)

Yeah those pesky scientists with their "rules" and "laws" and "theories". I agree, I find that my own personal threat to democracy is the law of gravity. My innate right to remain upright is threatened by this so-called consensus about gravity. In fact, I find the whole thing completely politicized because who dissents against the idea that gravity exists is immediately labeled a wacko and there's no room for debate on the subject.

Re:Finally, someone said it (2, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525505)

You ivory tower intellectuals must not lose touch with the world of industrial growth and hard currency. It is all well and good to pursue these high-minded scientific theories, but research grants are expensive. To justify your existence, you must provide not only knowledge, but concrete and profitable applications as well.

--CEO Nwabudike Morgan,
"The Ethics of Greed"

Science is based on skepticism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525573)

And what do YOU> think when skepticism is shown towards global warming?

Why do I think it's nowhere near, "There's a scientific thought".

And the Slashtwits modded you "Insightful". There's nothing like Slashdot to demonstrate herd thinking....

Re:Finally, someone said it (5, Interesting)

yali (209015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525595)

A physicist explains science to third graders [physicstoday.org] :

We take a vote. I ask how we decide who is right, and then I do the experiment... I emphasize that science is not a democracy, it is not the majority but the experiment that decides what is correct.

Sums it up pretty nicely.

Re:Finally, someone said it (5, Insightful)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525327)

Consensus science isn't science, it's politics, and that's exactly what the Global Warming debate is about: politics

I despise how global warming discussions focus so much on whether or not someone "believes", and heralding or ridiculing people for being in the right or wrong camp, rather than simply being discussions about straightforward facts.

Re:Finally, someone said it (2, Insightful)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525635)

They use the argument about "believing" in global warming to get uncurious people with limited or no scientific education to question the reality. This is done because there is no credible case to make against the existence of global warming, and it's primarily or wholey man-made causes.

This passage from Why Do Some People Resist Science? [edge.org] , By Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg, pretty much sums it up.

Some culture-specific information is not associated with any particular source. It is "common knowledge." As such, learning of this type of information generally bypasses critical analysis. A prototypical example is that of word meanings. Everyone uses the word "dog" to refer to dogs, so children easily learn that this is what they are called. Other examples include belief in germs and electricity. Their existence is generally assumed in day-to-day conversation and is not marked as uncertain; nobody says that they "believe in electricity." Hence even children and adults with little scientific background believe that these invisible entities really exist, a topic explored in detail by Paul Harris and his colleagues.

Re:Finally, someone said it (1)

atomic777 (860023) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525341)

Climate change is fact, and solid science. Only in countries where there is a strong vested interest in maintaining the status quo has the issue been politicized.

Re:Finally, someone said it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525433)

I agree.

Re:Finally, someone said it (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525455)

The fact we have had periods far warmer than this in human history is also fact. Yes its getting warmer is it us slightly elevating .02% of the atmosphere or that big giant ball in the sky?

Re:Finally, someone said it (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525579)

The fact we have had periods far warmer than this in human history is also fact.

It's not fact, it's just pure fantasy.

There has been warmer periods in the earths history -- and dominant species at the time were reptilian.

Re:Finally, someone said it (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525655)

During those warming periods the earth was a very different place. I don't think the few hundred million people on the coasts would like it if their land disappeared because we melted all the ice that froze during the last ice age.

We're in a position now where we can do something about our environment, it makes absolutely no sense to continue on an unsustainable path when alternatives exist. The further problem of increasingly violent storms will make living on earth a lot more difficult. Humanity will most certainly survive and adapt but if we change our ways now which is within or scope of knowledge to do then we don't have to adapt. That is the difference between humans and animals and the reason apes are more evolved than humans now. We haven't had to evolve because we change our surroundings to suit us.

As for the causes of it getting warmer I put to you that both are indeed contributing factors although far more of the atmosphere has been changed than you indicate with your .02% figure. One need only look at the smog of LA and Houston and most other cities to see the impact is far great than you indicate. If two burners are cooking us and we don't want to get cooked then don't we do what is in our power to shut off the burner we have control over?

I really see no downside, we don't even have to stop our fossil fuel burning, we merely have to slow it the hell down and use alternatives which is a good idea anyway considering there always have been and there always will be people fighting for resources.

One more question, at one time before the earth contained water was it ever as hot as it is today? At one time was there more CO2 in the air?

Re:Finally, someone said it (5, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525473)

Climate change is fact, and solid science.

Very true. A quick look at climate history [scotese.com] will show that the climate has been changing since the Earth had a climate to begin with, well before the SUV was invented and Bush was elected. It will also show that we are actually in a cool period and global warming will get us back to where we need to be!

Only in countries where there is a strong vested interest in maintaining the status quo has the issue been politicized.

Right, and the countries that are interested in changing the status quo are NOT politicizing the issue? I get it, since they are on YOUR side, it's not political, but those with different views are politicizing the issue.

Wow you're a fucking genius ... NOT (0, Flamebait)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525653)

I looked at the graph you point to ... and oh, boy, that's interesting, last time climate was warmer than now, dinosaurs were the dominant species.

Then climate changed. Care to remind us what happened to them? Oh yeah, that's right, THEY DIED.

Freaking genius.

Re:Finally, someone said it (2, Interesting)

prometheon123 (835586) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525523)

Would you say the "consensus" is that the world is round? No, because it would never occur to you to say that since the world being round is a verifiable fact. Global warming can't be precisely measured much less duplicated with all variables to make a long term prediction. Would you bet $100 what the temperature is going to be 2 weeks from now with a degree or two? Of course not. According to the fourth U.N. report, the environment is a coupled, chaotic, non-linear system and long term climate change is not predictable. That's what they (the U.N. IPCC) say.

Re:Finally, someone said it (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525373)

Indeed. What's truly horrible is how far we stretch the science to match our desired outcomes. For example, Gore is famous for showing people that Florida will sink under the sea, according to the U.N. Well... no. Florida will experience a nearly unmeasurable change in its coastlines according to the consensus, but then there are further theories that speculate about accelerating change in sea levels which could beat the consensus estimates by an order of magnitude. What you don't hear is this: the consensus is that that's not very likely.

I'm an environmentalist, and that's why the Global Warming debate bothers me. I want mercury taken out of our environment, not pumped into it in increasing quantity. I want to stop and think very hard about the things we do to our oceans. I want to investigate the impact of all the highways we pour tar over every year. I want to fully understand our impact on the planet (and those areas where we don't impact it), and act accordingly to maintain the environment, not without change, but without further degradation.

Sadly, we can't do that. We're instead going to saber-rattle over which nation will reduce their CO2 emissions first because, in the end, we know that that merely costs money, and doesn't actually require us to stop destroying the balance of nature.

That left a mark on Zonk's ass, now didn't it? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525377)

He tried to shine his liberal "I care more than you" trophy, and got it shoved right back down his throat.

HA HA!

Negative externalities (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525413)

No, it is about negative externalities. We don't want the rest of you fucking up a shared resource, projecting the cost of your actions onto us. Global warming is not about "consensus science," whatever the hell that is supposed to be. Is the theory of gravity "consensus science?" No. Will you be ridiculed for rejecting it? Probably, unless you come up with something better. The global warming deniers haven't come up with better science.

I'm sorry if all that hurts your feelings. Science doesn't care about your feelings. No matter how much you are personally inconvenienced by the truth, it is still true. The fact is, the rancor comes from the global warming deniers, in that type's typical projection of their own motivations onto others. The global warming believers are merely responding in kind.

No one gets anything out of believing in global warming. There are no huge grants. There would be scientific fame, and real world wealth beyond counting for anyone that could prove it wrong. Almost everyone would have to change their lifestyle, yet some of us still care more about justice and not making others pay for our actions.

Re:Finally, someone said it (1)

badasscat (563442) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525435)

Consensus science isn't science, it's politics, and that's exactly what the Global Warming debate is about: politics

So, 2+2=5?

Re:Finally, someone said it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525641)

After you actually hear the electricity popping your joints, yes.

Re:Finally, someone said it (1)

prometheon123 (835586) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525637)

Oh, and I might add that studies have shown the Hummer is more environmentally friendly to build than a Prius because of what is involved in making the Prius' battery. Finally anyone who really thinks Global Warming is a "potentially" catastrophic problem should GET OFF THE POWER GRID in their country. P.S. - Al Gore had a $30k electrical bill for his Nashville home. Now THAT is a fact. ;)

Gigantic penis (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525207)

In your butt. [goatse.cz]

Opinion vs. fact (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525221)

Well, it all comes down to opinion (which is open to having many sides) vs. fact (which only has one valid side). Is democracy more important than truth? Can truth be found without democratic and open inquiry?

In the end, isn't democracy little more than a means to the end of finding out what the best path to take is?

Re:Opinion vs. fact - FACT is a matter of Opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525471)

FACT is a matter of Opinion.

Re:Opinion vs. fact (1)

Liberaltarian (1030752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525481)

In the end, isn't democracy little more than a means to the end of finding out what the best path to take is?
Nope. Democracy has almost never been simply about the end results. We are social creatures, and as a result, the kind of path taken to reach a decision/conclusion is almost as important as where the path leads. Participation in decisions that affect your life (be they nearby, like communities and workplaces, or more remote, like national politics) brings to the table a whole slew of psychological and societal benefits. Empowerment, critical analysis, social bonding: these are all positive "side-effects" of the democratic processes.

Re:Opinion vs. fact (1)

hostyle (773991) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525549)

In a democracy you (and everyone else) get to vote for a number of offered sides. That in no way means that any of those sides are right (or wrong). Picking sides, facts and which political agendas to follow should never be confused with right and wrong.

does that mean.... (2, Interesting)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525227)

does that mean that there should be a democratic process to decide on what "1 + 1" is?

First off, we have to realize that global warming is a problem. Next step, reduce, reduce, reduce while scientists, engineers, and inventors come up with a more permanent solution to help rid ourselves of well....not so eco-friendly "things" (everything from transportation, energy, manufacturing, etc.)

and damn...it's hot today.

Re:does that mean.... (0)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525369)

First off, we have to realize that global warming is a problem.

No, first we have to determine if it is a problem. And, no, contrary to what the media and the IPCC would have you believe, that is far from certain. The President of the Czech Republic was completely correct.

Re:does that mean.... (5, Insightful)

JesseL (107722) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525383)

First off, we have to realize that global warming is a problem
Why? Because you heard someone say so? Because you feel it's true?

First off, we have to allow scientists to determine whether global warming is a problem, without political interference.

Re:does that mean.... (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525463)

ummm.....where have you been? scientists already say it is.

besides, we are talking about the political side of the problem not the scientific side.

Re:does that mean.... (4, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525477)

Why? Because you heard someone say so? Because you feel it's true?
Because that's what all the serious scientific organizations have concluded after examining the data. Because that's where all the scientific evidence points, and no better theories have been put forth to explain it.

First off, we have to allow scientists to determine whether global warming is a problem, without political interference.
That's already been done. The only political interference now is coming from those who don't like the answer.

Re:does that mean.... (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525619)

kinda like those ppl who keep looking for "second opinions" after they been diagnosed with something they don't like. :D

Re:does that mean.... (1)

Howitzer86 (964585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525403)

does that mean that there should be a democratic process to decide on what "1 + 1" is?
Or the definition of 'is'.


Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. Democracy is about choice, not consumption. If I had to loose something so that my kids or grandkids won't starve to death in a freak dust bowl I'd gladly give it up. If the majority of the population agrees, then it will happen. That is how Democracy works.

Wide Leap (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525427)

You took a pretty wide leap there from "1+1" to deciding to "reduce" "things".

After all, we ourselves have defined the concept of "1", and even "+" so it's easy to say what "1+1" is because we designed every part of that system. The environment does what it does, and all we can do is propose models that might explain what it does, or might explain what it does when changes are introduced. But these models will never be entirely accurate, and so there should be real debate over what the models mean, and what "changes" to "things" will actually have an impact if in fact we see a result from a prediction that is very likley and we also agree that the changes are likley to have the effect we want.

Sure some things are obvious, like trying to cut down on emissions and so forth. But I had read recently of a proposal for a ship that was to go into the ocean and drop a huge amount of some material, I think iron dust, to feed algae and help scrub CO2. Well doesn't this kind of large-scale change without much detailed thought kind of scare the hell out of you? Introducing wild changes into an already chaotic system seems like a good way to insure nothing is predictable, and the cause of nothing is known.

Re:Wide Leap (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525555)

fine...."1 - 1" then.

It's not about the scientific side of it.....(which by the way also has to contribute) but the political side too.
It has to be a "team" effort.

shoot....large-scale change....just think of the human contribution over the last 200 years.....every person contributing in a small way....and look how much things have changed (both good and bad).

Scientific Consensus is only by a loud minority? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525233)

Really?

So... only a minority of scientists think the earth revolves around the sun or dna carries genetic material?

Re:Scientific Consensus is only by a loud minority (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525393)

Sure, we can change facts throught majority rule. Sure we can.

It's science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525245)

One could argue for full disclosure regarding scientists publishing politically loaded papers.

But it's science for a reason. It's there because it's the truth - scientific consensus is not just another opinion, it's our best bet for making an informed decision.

You wouldn't ask an oil exec for advice on global warming, would you? No, you'd ask a scientist who knows about the environment.

Re:It's science (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525527)

But it's science for a reason. It's there because it's the truth.

All science is partial truths, because there is always more yet to research. Science today is the people with money deciding which lines of research are actually explored - a self-reinforcing truth if you go too far in disallowing unpopular lines of thought and research. You can do so without funding every crackpot that comes along with a hand out.

Absolutely. (2, Insightful)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525253)

The threat of science to freedom is a classic theme of Feyerabend's, for example. I don't have anything to say better than what he does, so go read up. (For those of you too lazy to read actualy books, try this [marxists.org] or this [calpoly.edu] .)

Note that this does not mean "science is an evil that we must eradicate"; it means "science is not the panacea that its most ardent supporters would like us to believe."

Doesn't sound like Vaclav Klaus is a scientist. (4, Insightful)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525261)

Scientists listen to data, not what politicians/economists etc want.

Re:Doesn't sound like Vaclav Klaus is a scientist. (3, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525389)

Yes, in Utopia. Back in the real world, scientists are human beings, and are vulnerable to fads, group-think, and politics.

Re:Doesn't sound like Vaclav Klaus is a scientist. (1)

ItsNerveDamage (909805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525399)

They might listen to data, but they say what it takes to get funding. I mean, what's a scientist without research funding?

Re:Doesn't sound like Vaclav Klaus is a scientist. (1)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525479)

Scientists listen to data, not what politicians/economists etc want.

Not true under any charitable interpretation. Read up some on actual history, philosophy and sociology of science. (And by history of science, I don't mean "history' of science as recorded by textbooks that heavily distort the history to fit the dominant paradigm; I mean actual, uncensored, unsanitized history of science, where the way things happened is a damn mess.)

Re:Doesn't sound like Vaclav Klaus is a scientist. (5, Insightful)

Trespass (225077) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525487)

Like most people, scientists listen to whoever is paying them.

Re:Doesn't sound like Vaclav Klaus is a scientist. (2, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525587)

Scientists listen to data, not what politicians/economists etc want.
Ideally, you are correct. In practice, I've yet to see a field of scientific pursuit that wasn't tainted by the expectations and desires of those doing the research.

Right now, in the United States, if you publish a paper that is referenced in support of an anti-global-warming political statement (doesn't matter if your data was neutral), you have to worry about where your next meal is coming from, and might want to consider a career change. That's unacceptable encroachment of politics on science. Worse, scientists who buck this system and lose their funding eventually turn to private funding, and are branded "sell outs," and ostracized by the scientific community.

The fate that befalls those who are genuine skeptics is even worse. They're literally treated as crackpots for expressing an agnostic view toward our current level of understanding of the climate and its forcers.

Why is it that we support people who try to disprove our most well established theories in physics? Aren't they bucking consensus? If an astronomer doesn't believe black holes exist, why is he able to keep working in the field when the consensus says they do? How do they get time on Hubble when they're obviously known to be crackpots? The reason is that attempting to assail established theory is what science is about. You only cross the line into crackpottery when you merely apply faulty logic or falsified data to your skepticism and proclaim it to be proof.

Re:Doesn't sound like Vaclav Klaus is a scientist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525631)

Sorry, but you didn't go quite far enough with that statement. Let me help:

Scientists listen to data, politicians listen to themselves.

Let me also add:

Nature bats last.

Translation for those who don't speak Czech (3, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525263)

"They have an obligation to declare their political and value assumptions and how much they have affected their selection and interpretation of scientific evidence."

That is:

"You need to tell me if you have any political thoughts that I can turn into an ad hominem argument rather than discuss your data or your methods because I'm not a physicist and I can't follow the math."

So what? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525449)

"You need to tell me if you have any political thoughts that I can turn into an ad hominem argument rather than discuss your data or your methods because I'm not a physicist and I can't follow the math."

Yes, and? If everyone does this it would be a hell of a lot better than trying to figure out the currently hidden motivations that every scientific group seems to have - for or against global warming.

If everyone can easily use ad-hominem against everyone else, perhaps we'd see less of it.

Re:Translation for those who don't speak Czech (5, Insightful)

Gorshkov (932507) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525529)

"You need to tell me if you have any political thoughts that I can turn into an ad hominem argument rather than discuss your data or your methods because I'm not a physicist and I can't follow the math."
No - he's saying that if you have an AGENDA, be open and up front about it so that people can determine for themselves if it's the data or the political beliefs speaking.

Most people - including the vast majority on slashdot, who tend to be much better educated and intelligent than "the great unwashed" (myself included), don't have the specific knowledge or background to be able to properly weigh the data presented in the debate.

Knowing people's biases will make it easier for them - US - to properly weigh what they've said.

When an Oil company exec says something about global warming, you're going to take that into account when you look at any data he presents. Likewise, when the president of "People for the Full Eradication of Technology and Man" gives HIS views on the subject, you should also take THAT into account when looking at data he presents.

It's got exactly ZERO to do with ad hominem arguments, and everything to do with wanting full disclosure so that biases can be weeded out - on BOTH sides.

Sounds perfectly sensible to me.

Bottom line: Global warming is *intensely* political. And before we can make any rational decisions about what to do about it, we need to separate the politics from the science. Disclosing biases - on BOTH sides - will at least give us a CHANCE to do so.

No! (2, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525271)

Scientists say global warming is real and countries have to mandate reductions in CO2 emission because that's where the science points! If you have a better theory, submit it to a journal, but all other explanations have LOST in the market place of ideas, and only through willful ignorance do people continue to ignore the rigorous scientific methodology.

Oh, sorry, I was just channeling Chris Burke's bias-pandering populism for a second there.

Re:No! (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525543)

Scientists say global warming is real and countries have to mandate reductions in CO2 emission because that's where the science points

No, its not! CO2 Lags temperature not the other way around, solar activity on the other hadn *leads* temperature.

If you have a better theory, submit it to a journal, but all other explanations have LOST in the market place of ideas, and only through willful ignorance do people continue to ignore the rigorous scientific methodology.

No other theories have lost in the realm of politics.

Not exactly (2, Insightful)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525615)

Actually, science currently points that the world is getting (slightly) warmer, and that CO2 levels have risen. These are not necessarily related. We have models and whatnot that show the world will continue to warm, but these are not evidence.

The point the writer of the article was trying to make is that environmentalists want us to spend billions of dollars doing things which may or may not have any impact on something which may or may not exist.

consider the source (1)

MollyB (162595) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525273)

In order for democracy to function properly, an educated electorate is fundamental. Anything else is mob rule that fuels demagoguery.

It is interesting that the point of view is that of someone raised under authoritarianism. He is mistrustful of central control, so he sees it as an overlay to plain old scientific methodology.

Everyone always assumes they know the motives of those that disagree with them. This case is no different, from my secular-humanist, nerdy POV.

he is clearly delusional (2, Informative)

wpegden (931091) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525285)

He is clearly delusional: he has said "Global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so." (http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idCate gory=33&idsub=128&id=8342&t=Czech+president%3A+Env ironmentalism+is+a+religion [speroforum.com] )

Re:he is clearly delusional (1)

ubikkibu (544498) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525329)

He'd fit right in with Jackie Mason, that ancient comedian who's now most well-known for saying "half of all scientists say global warming is a hoax." The dain bramage twins.

Spoken like a politician. (1)

ubikkibu (544498) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525289)

His perspective on science makes perfect sense if you don't think about it.

Re:Spoken like a politician. (1)

jhutchens (1115547) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525517)

great post... good for a laugh or two

Huh? (1)

monkeyboythom (796957) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525291)

So really what he is saying is that, as scientists, we should be more vocal as a minority and join together as group that will change the dictates of the majority (as said through yet another minority)?

sickening (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525299)

Scientific Consensus is not a threat to democracy, selfishness and stupidity are. You can not ignore a problem [global warming] and vote that it "doesnt exist" and expect that it somehow has an effect on whether or not it exists. you can be democratic on the issue and claim we are not the cause but it is still going to do the damage regardless of your ideology.

Consensus (1)

Ramble (940291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525309)

And there was me thinking consensus and discussion within the scientific community was an essential part in the making of a theory. Scientists shouldn't be held accountable if some politician takes his theory and messes it up for his own political gain, is the author suggesting that we tone down radical ideas as to not scare the unthinking masses or upset the people in charge of our grants?

Concensus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525319)

I remember reading a textbook Written long ago where the author said: "While it is commonly accepted that radio is transmitted through aether the serious student..."
The book went on to discuss the principals of radio, but never once challanged the concensus that radio travels on aethr.

Remember, todays concensus is often tomorrow's heresy.

Article Title Result of Sloppy Approach (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525339)

The title for the article is questionable. It's extremely debatable if, regarding the topic in question, there exists any positive scientific consensus when it comes to global warming. It also contradicts the last line of the story and source article itself, "'Let us resist the politicization of science and oppose the term "scientific consensus," which is always achieved only by a loud minority, never by a silent majority.'"

Scieintific consensus is not as powerful as stated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525347)

If scientific consensus caused politicians to frame public policies, religious organizations would not be receiving tax breaks

Scientific Consensus About Not Breathing (0, Flamebait)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525359)

I bet he considers that questionalble too.

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" is called that for a reason. This truth is very inconvenient.

A whole lot of people will need to experience famine for themselves before they finally believe that not only is it possible, but that maybe we might be causing it.

The scientific facts are that CO has a very strong infrared spectrum. It is a scientific fact that it will act like a greenhouse around the earth. The only question is the extent. Everything else is simple scientific fact that anyone could verify for themselves in a college chemistry spectroscopy class. Maybe even high school.

So, with that established and the only issue being the extent, that, is also pretty easily calculated based on concentration and pathlength, sun radiance, the earth's reflectivity, etc. It's also backed up, amazingly, byt the grounding of all aircraft over the USA for the days following the 9/11 attacks.

Convincing the skeptics who refuse to try to understand and only regurgitate and babble the talking points their vocal minority misleaders hand them is a waste of time. They refuse to listen. they refuse to learn. And in fact, most of them are too stupid to even understand. It's not just a rufusal to understand. They just don't have the scientific background to understand.

Sigh.

Re:Scientific Consensus About Not Breathing (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525509)

Having not seen the movie, I have to ask,

What is the correlation between the planes being grounded and the CO2 concentration?

Re:Scientific Consensus About Not Breathing (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525553)

"It is a scientific fact that it will act like a greenhouse around the earth. The only question is the extent."

Which would make it a Theory.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a believer, but spouting off a layman's knowledge of global warming while spamming the word "fact" is no more scientific than the original article.

-Rick

Ah, Scientists (2, Insightful)

BlueMikey (1112869) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525367)

I wonder if anyone ever demanded that Newton talk about his political leanings while publishing the laws of motion.

Re:Ah, Scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525541)

Newton did not write his laws of motion to achieve a political goal.

Bologna. (1, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525387)

The scientists should help us and take into consideration the political effects of their scientific opinions.

And doctors should take into consideration the financial effects of their work before they operate. After they balance your checkbook for you, if it's not financially acceptable, they should let you die.

Or, here's a better idea. Leave politics to the politicians, and let the guys in the lab coats get back to work.

Facts are just that - facts. Scientists work to uncover them. Doesn't matter if they are convenient or politically correct or anything else. The truth stands alone. It's the job of the politicians to (hopefully) take that truth and do something useful with it.

Politics (2, Interesting)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525395)

I think the bigger threat to science and democracy is when the government re-writes scientific reports to say whatever they want like the Bush administration has. I think "scientific consensus" is important to policy decisions. The science itself will work itself out in the long run (and maybe the current consensus will be proven wrong), and politicians should stay out of the scientific debate. The only the reason the author is commenting on this is because he has a policy agenda and wants to try and undermine the other side.

Vaclav Klaus Only Cares about making money (2, Informative)

TalShiar00 (238873) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525397)

Look who is Bush's new best friend. Czech republic has some beautiful places but alot of it has been exploited and destroyed; mostly by communism. Their economy is not doing well and they have a high unemployment rate, of the 8 mil czechs in the world 1 mil live in the US. Klaus is just another short sighted politician who only concern is how much money he and his friends can make in the short term. If he can destroy the environment and get paid to put a foreign missle defence system in the country, that is fine with him.

People like you are a threat to science & demo (2, Insightful)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525457)

Someone has a viewpoint you don't like and instead of debating him on the facts, you slander him.

Is there strict control in science? Duh. (5, Insightful)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525411)

Of course science is under strict control. Of course it's undemocratic.

In a democratic society you are free to state that the world is flat. The people are free to elect someone who says the world is flat. In science you've actually got to prove that the world is flat. Does that mean you're "not free" in science to assert whatever you want as reality. Sure. Personally I like those restrictions. Without them we'd be back in the middle ages.

We don't elect reality. We discover it. Discovery requires that one thing is paramount: observation, and the unbiased interpretation of that observation. So, in essence you are restricted by reality because you want you perception (your model of reality) to conform with reality as much as possible. So you lose the freedom to say that reality is anything you damn well please.

I for one welcome our reality overlords.

Science by consensus is not science (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525421)

It seems like science has been replaced by sloganeering. Global warming can mean many things to many people. To some it means man-made climate change. For others it means we are between ice ages. Even in the different camps, there is debate. It is perfectly viable to believe that there is man-made warming and to also believe that this is not a bad thing on the whole.

-SLIGHTLY OFF TOPIC-
And before any of you accuse me of being a flat earther, be advised that the theory that our ancestors ever really believed in a flat earth has been discredited. I think the 'flat earth' comment is a corrolary to Godwins law, with the added caveat that the person is not only the loser but also very likely ignorant.

Along those same lines, Darwin didn't come up with the theory of evolution. He did come up with the theory of natural selection, a worthy accomplishment which should be noted correctly.
-END-

Re:Science by consensus is not science (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525601)

And before any of you accuse me of being a flat earther, be advised that the theory that our ancestors ever really believed in a flat earth has been discredited.

some of the ancients deduced that the Earth was indeed a sphere such as when ship's masts disappear first, the round shadow the Earth casts on the moon during partial eclipse etc. but as is today scientific knowledge can and has been ignored in politics. There were idiots then too you know.

Sometimes Scientific Consensus Can Be Good (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525437)

Anyone remember the Flat Earth scientific consensus? Times were much simplier then, you could carry a map of the world in your pocket, and they were about as inexpensive as the paper they were printed on. Now compare that to the high price, and bulky size, of carrying one of those new-fangled globes around.

What? (1)

Rydia (556444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525469)

What? ... Wait, what?

So do scientists now have to declare themselves politically pro-Einstein in order to discuss relativity? And what the heck does "silent majority" mean? In the scientific community, if you're not talking (publishing), you're not even there. A silent majority is impossible!

This is a very depressing piece for a normally useful outlet.

All restrictions on behavior are bad? (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525491)

From TFA:

This ideology [environmentalism] wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning.

As opposed to replacing the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by global starvation, catastrophe, and deprivation?

Democracy is a threat to science (1)

slysithesuperspy (919764) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525497)

It is lucky that not all sciences can be politicised like economics and climatology. I saw a quote from a mathematician once saying that if maths was politically useful we would still be debating whether 2 + 2 = 4.

Reality has a well known bias. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525551)

Me.. I like voting on stuff like if the earth revolves around the sun, and not the sun around the earth. I mean.. it's all just who believes what that matters, and not what's real, right?

I've been trying for YEARS to convince people of my geo-centric model of the universe. But these damn "establishment scientists" and their "consensus reality" are always keeping me and my superior theories down. Gravity... pshaw. That's just want they tell people to keep 'ol "Big Space Exploration" in business. They want all the crystal spheres for themselves.

I mean.. it's perfectly obvious that the SUN revolves around the earth! You can prove it yourself. Sit down for a moment. Do you feel like you're moving? I sure don't. Well that's what these damn scientists keep telling you! It's perfectly obvious everything ELSE is moving, not the earth. Everyone has seen the sun move across the sky, and the stars move at night. If we were moving, we're all be constantly dizzy!

Even great scientists like Aristotle and Ptolemy agree with me! One day we'll all wonder why we didn't listen to these great men, and ignore the biased fools like Galileo.

But... does evidence count for nothing? (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525565)

The dictates of political correctness are strict and only one permitted truth, not for the first time in human history, is imposed on us.


There is one blaringly huge difference with "scientific concensus" vs. other forms of "one permitted truth". EVIDENCE.
It's amazing what leaps in logic people will use to justify ignorance.

I believed AGW until I heard totallitarian tone (3, Insightful)

Bongo (13261) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525567)

I was very worried about AGW, but statements like, "neuremberg style trials for denialists" made me think something's not right. Add in character assasination, the way any "contrarian evidence" is assumed to be funded by oil companies, and debating tactics that throw the principle of falsifiability out of the window, made me distrust the whole damnded thing.

The science needs to be free to operate carefully and efficiently, regardless of whether it's finding evidence for or against AGW. The business of science is to discover the truth of the matter, regardless of whether that truth happens to agree with our beliefs and values.

I suspect that the notion of what "good science" is has changed subtly. Good science is science that finds the truth. But scientists who want to be good people, may come to believe that being a good person means creating science that "does good things", such as save the planet. If you want to save the planet because saving the planet is a good thing to do, then there may be a bias towards only studying subjects that offer an opportunity to become an important scientist who makes discoveries about dangers and remedies for the planet.

Good science is purely about the truth. What you do with that knowledge is a different affair altogether. Good science is simply being dispassionately interested in facts. It's not the scientist's job to be a good person. Just give us the facts. We, the people, will worry about the rest.

A matter of personal freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525571)

Remind me not to invite this Vaclav guy over to a pool party.

If he thinks that dumping CO2 into the atmosphere is a matter of personal freedom then I'd rather not experience his views on pissing in the swimming pool.

The critical difference (2, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525605)

Politics and science are, so it seems, bumping considerably of late.

I'm speaking here as a scientist of several years experience (most of which I should state has been in the 'oh fuck I am never going to prove my hypothesis' catagory).

Scientists and politicians caan never see eye to eye. The simple reason for this, which I will explain over a couple of sentances, is that science requires evidence with is proveable by the current state of the art, in the full and contented knowledge that the state of the art can be disproved/advanced at any point. Politians do not live in the same world. Their opinions can and must change to reflect the mean (or is it modal?) view of that sector of the population which is most likely to votw for them.

This may sound as if I think they are not as good as scientists, but this is an erronious view. The role of the politician has evolved for over 2000 yeras, starting when the citizens of Athens firs decided that a singler point of faliure what a bit shit, and moving forward to the most mobile of all democracies, that of the United States. In all that time (in my opinion) the scientist has been following a different path to that of the scientist.

A scientist, with what may perhaps be superior knowledge in his domain may cry foul regarding some aspect of current policy. In response, the politician, who lacks the domain knowledge, but has superior knowledge of the political climate, and, one assumes in the general case, is subject to an external optimisation system (voting) that removes the candidates which differ by too much from the required state, either agrees or seeks to discredit the findings of the scientist.

This does, on the face of it, seem to be an insane system, but it has advantages.

Could scientists run the world? Fuck no, I know many, am one myself, and frankly I would run screaming from any mob that claimed this.

Fancy a ruler that would happily spend years persuing a single aspect of a problem? Cos I don't

The principle point is that the world can only work if the extremists, be they political, religious or scientific are not allowed to be in charge. I'm biased, I think that scientific extremism (which is more or less the default state, since specialisation is required), is not that bad, but my own logic requirs that I exclude myself from the set of people allowed to rule.

What do they feed Czech politicians? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525617)

The man took the words out of my mouth. The world needs more Vaclavs and far fewer AlGores.

Equivocation City (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19525651)

Can you count the equivocations -- not in Klaus' article, but right here in the comments?

Here are the main ones you need to know to get a clearer picture:

1. Democracy != Freedom
2. Consensus != Fact (even if there were a consensus)
3. Environmentalism != Caring about the Environment
4. *Anthropogenic* Climate Change != Consensus (let alone Fact)
5. Climate Change != A Bad Thing (it's a given of a dynamic planet)

#2 alone tells you that environmentalism is primarily a political movement, for science is concerned with facts, not consensus; reality is not determined by polls.

Consensus is a threat (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19525657)

Any system based on "believe whatever you want" is threatened by consensus. Is democracy that system? Plato says yes, Arendt says no, I say have a great weekend and let's figure it out Monday.
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