Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Danger of Consensus

I love this article in the New York Times (and I generally can't stand the NYT!). It shows the danger in supposed "consensus" among scientists. And I think it speaks to much more than diet.

"We like to think that people improve their judgment by putting their minds together, and sometimes they do. The studio audience at “Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire” usually votes for the right answer. But suppose, instead of the audience members voting silently in unison, they voted out loud one after another. And suppose the first person gets it wrong.

If the second person isn’t sure of the answer, he’s liable to go along with the first person’s guess. By then, even if the third person suspects another answer is right, she’s more liable to go along just because she assumes the first two together know more than she does. Thus begins an “informational cascade” as one person after
another assumes that the rest can’t all be wrong."

So if the scientists can get it so wrong on something like diet (and don't we all know people who have tried all the different diets out there?) who is to say they are getting it right on other issues.

I need to confess something ... *gulp* ... I'm one of those "green pagans" who doesn't necessarily believe that global warming is man made or that we can do much of anything to affect the earth's atmosphere. *ducks as people spit in anger at their computer screen*

I know...sacrilege!!! It goes against everything I was programmed to believe as a child...and it certainly goes against popular mantra today. But what can I say? I'm a rebel. And people who say it's been scientifically proven haven't done their own research or opened their minds to those who disagree. It's another case of 'informational cascade' as far as I'm concerned.

I'm not saying we can't affect our own local environments. I'm all for recycling and not dumping motor oil down the drains (save the poor fishies!). I don't want all the forests chopped down and I love a clean outdoors. But changing my light bulbs isn't going to prevent the earth from warming or cooling. (Check out this on CO2) The earth has been going through environmental changes since the beginning of time. We're just in another cycle. Man will adapt to his environment, whatever that may bring.
"The truth is, read any legitimate scientific study on climate -- including IPCC's -- that suggests human influence is the dominant cause for global warming, and you will discover dozens of qualifiers like "could," "possibly," "potentially," and "may." For all the certainty and consensus that global warming fear-mongers assert, those sound a lot like weasel words."
This is why the whole idea of the government getting involved in anything more than security freaks me out. They screw it up every time. The "global warming" issue will be no different. Go green if you want, but don't be fooled into thinking that if you use cloth grocery sacks you're saving the earth (I LIKE my plastic sacks...I use them for lunch bags!). And don't fall for government "helping" with new laws and restrictions. The earth is a much bigger entity than any human could impact. It'll be here long after we're all dead and gone.

So don't let your kids come home scared that the world is going to end if you don't change your light bulbs. They were telling me the same thing 20 years ago. I never really fell for it then and I'm not falling for it now.

"Consensus is the absence of leadership." Margaret Thatcher

More fun things to read...
Watts Up With That - Climate Change
Climate Audit

1 comment:

Crystal said...

*gasp* *shock*

I could have written this post myself. It's good to know I'm not alone in these beliefs. :)