Climate: OJ and the Haystack

| February 27, 2010 | 5 Replies

Why Climate Change Denial Is Like the O.J. Trial is an interesting article. haystack needleThe essence is that the climate denialists are using the same techniques as the OJ defense team: Find anything resembling a needle in a vast haystack of data, then claim that the presence of the needle casts doubt on the character of the haystack itself.

Because there is an overwhelming pile of evidence in support of anthropogenic global warming, there are bound to be occasional pieces of data that can appear to contradict the mass of affirmative information. The pile is overwhelming, especially to non-scientists. Therefore few have the patience to understand the whole thing.

Those who want to spin the counter argument claim that, because the two sides are both represented, therefore the issue is in doubt. And, as in the OJ trial, if there is cause for doubt then no action is to be taken.

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Sounds like the confirmation bias goes hand in hand with the needle in the haystack. The CB is the mechanism for one to look for the needle and then to SEE it as a big thing when it is merely a needle.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

    Not that the CB itself constitutes the motivation. I suspect that the deep-down motivators include comfort-craving (some of which one will need to give up if we really address global warming) and the use of the absurd as a badge of group belonging, allowing one to bask in the glow of the herd. http://dangerousintersection.org/2007/03/26/new-e

    Perhaps too simplistic, I ultimately look for the evolutionary version of "follow the money" when trying to understand human behavior. It goes like this: Follow the Four F's — Feeding, Fleeing, Fighting and Reproduction." Comfort-craving and craving for group belong fit nicely under the "Four F's," and your observation offers a mechanism for how it tends to play out in the real world.

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Dan,

    to be truly objective it is necessary to be able to determine he difference between what you know and what you believe.

    So to play the part of the devil's advocate, (as I often do) first I offer some observations.

    Many people believe in anthropomorphic CO2 as the one and only cause of global warming. Many claim there is "an overwhelming body of evidence: supporting this hypothesis, yet the only evidence I've been able to find is the ice core data (available as a free download from the NOAA website), and it doesn't actually support co2 as a causative factor, but more as a possible co-effect or even as a result.

    I want to see the data.

    What I do see is lots of blanket statements made by both sides in the debate, with proponents for both sides refusing to even entertain the any part of the others argument. I see tons of claims of overwhelming evidence from both camps that really amount to a recursive regurgitation of op-ed pieces with little or no hard data to be referenced.

    The opponents of anthropomorphic co2 driven global warming (AGDGW) support and accept many scientists who are not in complete agreement with the AGDGW hypothesis for global warming. These scientists are wrongly labeled "Global warming denialists." when they do not deny global warming, but dare to suggest an alternative to the AGDGW concept.

    Now take an objective look at the OJ Simpson case:

    When the news media learned of the murder of OJ's ex wife and her friend, they immediately became the prosecution against OJ in a trial by media, where OJ was assumed guilty and the burden of proof fell upon him to prove otherwise. This is the opposite of the way justice is supposed to work in this country.

    I friend of mine during the trial said "I KNOW he's guilty" and I responded "Uhh… Were you there?". The point being that the only person with absolute knowledge of the murder's identity, was the murderer, who might be OJ and might be someone else.

    The media, however, led people to believe he did it. Obviously being exposed to details of the cases that were not promoted by the media, however, the jury in the trial were not convinced beyond all doubts that he did it, and as such he was acquitted.

  3. Karl says:

    "Overwhelming pile" might be evidence for something but it is not simply scientific but an anthropomorphic causes to global warming is a matter of belief unless you can totally silence those with other interpretations of what the overwhelming "pile" really is.

    If "evidence" can only be interpreted one way there would be very few skeptics. Using the media and other political methods to try to silence skeptics is an outright abuse of the public trust that like anyone else destroys credibility. In this case those with an agenda that is not scientific are destroying the credibility of science by self serving motives.

    If Al Gore had a true interest in something other than carbon credits he might have been able to see the data for what it really was.

    I happen to believe in gradual global warming and cooling cycles that have been interupted by cataclysmic coolings events caused by atmospheric water and other debris that can ocassionaly get tossed high into the upper atmosphere.

    But the overall trend has been like most other results of entropy. Useful energy has been becoming more and more locked into stable fixed and "cooler" compounds that are coming closer and closer together because of gravity and are thus less and less free to move with kinetic energy ie heat or global warming.

  4. Karl says:

    Global warming seems to be slipping even more among both the general population and scientists as well.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/126560/Americans-Globa

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Karl: Thank you for the Gallop results, but you REALLY need to read more carefully. The website you sent has no information on the attitudes of scientists. It only concerns attitudes of Americans in general.

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