Global Warming and the Lizard People

I had another point to make about the poll I referred to the other day but I thought it would distract attention from my discussion of the Anti-Christ, and anyway the post was getting to be long enough. Let me quote the article again.

It’s official: Americans love their conspiracy theories. Public Policy Polling asked voters to weigh in on 20 more infamous ones, and the results show that a not-insignificant number of people believe that President Obama is the anti-Christ (13%), Big Foot exists (14%), and the planet is secretly ruled by the New World Order (28%). Four percent think our societies are actually ruled by “lizard people.”

  • 21% believe the government covered up a UFO crash in Roswell; 29% believe in aliens
  • 6% believe Osama bin Laden is alive
  • 5% think Paul McCartney has been dead for decades
  • 15% think there’s mind-control technology hidden in TV signals
  • 37% think global warming is a hoax
  • 7% think the moon landing was faked
  • 15% think Big Pharma develops new diseases as a way to make money
  • 14% see the CIA’s hand in the 1980s crack epidemic

If you look carefully, you will notice that one of these crazy conspiracy theories is not like the others in terms of plausibility. It is insane to believe that lizard people rule the world or the CIA distributed crack to minority neighborhoods. It is more than a little silly to believe that Bigfoot exists or the Moon landing is a fraud. These sorts of things are possible, but the available evidence is against their being true. The belief that the New World Order or the Trilateral Commission secretly rules the world seems like paranoia, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to watch any group of powerful people who meet on a regular basis.

What about the idea that global warming is a hoax? Well, given that the behavior of some of the principal proponents of the idea that man made global warming will lead to catastrophic results has been less than honest in their dealings with the public and given that at least some of these proponents seem to have a political agenda that is quite unrelated to any scientific evidence, it does not seem that the theory that global warming (or is it climate change or climate catastrophe or climate chaos?) is a hoax is quite in the same league as these others.

To be fair, I am not sure if the scientists at the Climate Research Institute and elsewhere were consciously engaging in fraud. Their misbehavior may be more due to self-deception, wishful thinking and shoddy scientific technique. They did not take Richard Feyman’s advice.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you   easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful aboutthat. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the layman when you’re talking as a scientist. I am not trying to tell you what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your girlfriend, or something like that, when you’re not trying to be a scientist, but just trying to be an ordinary human being. We’ll leave those problems up to you and your rabbi. I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you are maybe wrong, that you ought to have when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.

Instead of presenting the facts the best way they could, too many decided the matter was so important that they had to be alarmist. If global warming is a real threat, then they harmed their cause considerably.

When you consider the business people and politicians who stand to profit from this sort of alarmism, would be carbon credit billionaires and world leaders who will leap at any excuse to gain more power for themselves (Yes, I have Al Gore in mind), then perhaps hoax is not too strong a word to use.

Of course, the idea here is to associate people who are unconvinced by any lack of evidence for global warming with crazy people who believe that the lizard people rule the world.

The fact that 37% of the people in a poll believe that global warming is a hoax does not, of course, make it a hoax. But then, listing the idea that global warming is a hoax with a group of less plausible ideas does not make disbelief in global warming less plausible. One hurricane, however strong, does not prove that the world is getting warmed, nor was Sandy unprecedented in its size and destructiveness. Sandy was a category 3 hurricane, while the highest rating is category 5. There have been worse tropical storms in the Atlantic.

Hurricane Sandy was the largest hurricane on record as far as actual diameter, as well as the second most destructive in terms of property damage, with 2005’s  Hurricane Katrina causing the most property damage. You have to consider, however, that coasts are more developed today than they were decades ago and property is worth more, not to mention that both these storms struck urban areas in the United States.

I suppose that it is too much to ask that a television meteorologist be familiar with logic and the scientific method though.

 

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