Thursday, January 20, 2011

The problem with "consensus"

Interesting article by Ron Bailey:
http://reason.com/archives/2010/06/29/agreeing-to-agree

Now I take a similar view as to what there is consensus on as William, namely on whether it's warmer now than 200 years ago, there's a lot of consensus, on climate sensitivity there's bit less of consensus, and on what sort of damages or worthwhile actions it implies, there's none or a pretty wide range of reasonable opinion.

See, as I said in my earlier post I rather like William, now I also like Wattsupwiththat. It's part of the climate wars that reasonable people with reasonable views lose all reasonablenss about who is reasonable when they realise someobody is batting for the wrong side.

Back to "consensus". The problem I have with the word as applied to the climate wars is that notoriously consensus for stuff there actually is consensus on gets mixed up with consensus for the things there actucally is no consensus on. Most notorious in that regard, that dubious 97% of climate scientists agree number. What 75 out of 77 hand picked climate experts agreed on was stuff you'd even get most people on the dark side (quoth William) to agree with, like is it probably at least a little warmer now than 200 years ago and can humans have at least some influence on the climate (the question didn't specify whether through CO2, or land use change, or aerosols or where the cut off between significant and not so significant influence is).

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