After demonstrating that the greenhouse effect has neither a valid theoretical basis nor support from the available empirical evidence, I often receive the question ‘then what is causing the temperature rise?’
The absence of logic in this objection is staggering, but the idea that that the refutation of a theory is ttself somehow refuted by a failure to supply an alternative explanation seems widespread in the climate science community. I suppose this reflects the intellectual standard we are dealing with.
The difference between a scientist and a sophist is the former begins with the premise of ignorance. The scientist admits he doesn’t know. It is awareness of our ignorance which is the beginning of knowledge. The truly ignorant are those who really think they know everything.
That has become known as the Donning Kruger effect, but it has actually been known since biblical times. You will find in the Book of Proverbs words to the effect that the fool is always right in his own mind.
We owe the popular perception of the scientist mainly to the likes of Hollywood. The all-knowing wise alumnus of the world’s most prestigious institutions who invents the super weapon to destroy whatever is threatening mankind in whatever science fiction B movie they are depicted. That is not a scientist, that is a sophist. Provided we are aware that we are dealing with fiction and not fact, this portrayal ought to be harmless enough.
Unlike a scientist, a sophist cannot admit ignorance, and to critics who originate from non-scientific disciplines such as law or journalism, the honest phrase ‘we don’t know’ is considered a sign of weakness or incompetence, because scientific enquiry or even scholarship, has never had much influence on those disciplines. This has encouraged a migration away from science to sophistry.
Another confusion among the non-scientific community is the criterion for valid science. This ought to be based on what is said; that is the validity of the data and the soundness of the argument. Science does not care where the ideas originate, all that matters is their intrinsic soundness. It could come from the canteen manager or the car park attendant, for all the world of legitimate science could care. Who says it doesn’t matter. It is what is said which is of interest.
However, the criteria adopted by the non-scientifically trained consists of such metrics as number of papers produced and cited, and level of academic qualification. Thus the search for scientific publications is itself based on specious pseudo-science.
A mere Sturmbannfuhrer may not call into question the word of an Obergruppenfuher. And that is fine for those who imagine that the Waffen SS forms a sound paradigm for the unbiased seeking after truth. Perhaps this is where the tendency to suppress opposing views, rather than debate them, comes from.
This massive paper-chase is itself obstructive to science. It is heavily biased against original work and novelty, but emphasises the recycling of old ideas with minimal and largely pointless incfemental changes. It allows the pompous self-important to rest on their laurels, by forcing their PhD students to cite their work, whether relevant or not.
Every PhD student quickly discovers that 99.9% of everything is crud. It becomes ever more difficult to find what is actually worth knowing. The usual search criteriia turn up nothing which hasn’t been repeated a million times. The probability of anything vaguely resembling a breakthrough is practically zero.
Sadly, with sophistry displacing science, this is the paradigm which in recent years has come to characterise the academy. It is actually promoted as the way things ought to be done, with the scientific method taking a back seat, particularly when it generates conclusions the paymasters don’t like.
Despite the vast increase in the professor population, we see very little in the way of novelty or original work. The three pillars of academia have become nepotism, cronyism and plagiarism, which is inevitable considering the quality standards imposed by the non-participants who actually rule the roost.
Scientists are becoming a rare breed indeed, and students expecting a career in legitimate science when met with obstructive bigotry and priggish arrogance, where free enquiry, integrity and honesty should be the norm, rapidly become disillusioned and transfer to other courses, not withstanding the intellectual standard required weeds out most of the population to begin with.
Apart from the intellectual snobbery imported from the innmerate world, there is the problem of specialisation. Whoever imagined productive teams could be made up of individuals whose outlook is so blinkered as to render meaningful communication between them impossible must have been on some serious drug.
A team leader needs to put aside their own area of expertise and learn sufficient about his subordinates skills to be able to communicate with each of them effectively. Instead, they are sent off on management courses to become specialsts in management as such. More likely, the job is handed over to an archetypal example of the Donning Kruger effect, who was effective in some unrelated management role. Thus we end up with those who know nothing about everything managing those who know everything about nothing, and fondly imagine productive work will emerge. Dream on.
The polymath who would have been well fitted to the job wont fit into any of human resources’ pigeon holes, so would never be employed.
I personally write for those with a basic scientific training, and those who could be bothered to pick up a textbook. I use only what is to be found in standard textbooks, most of which are well known amongst my readership. For this reason I do not expect a large following, I am not interested in popular opinion, merely in doing my bit to try and save the academy from the regressive and destructive route it is currently following in propping up the pet theories of politicians in order to ensure their continued funding.