A Word on Anthropogenic Global Warming "Probability"

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Regarding the latest IPCC report.

The stated probability that anthropogenic warming has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological planetary systems is "likely," which means between 67 and 90 percent. However, this does not mean what it actually says. It does not mean that they can scientifically verify that there is somewhere between 2/3 and 9/10 probability that man is causing global warming, it means that 89 percent of observational series from 75 studies support the hypothesis.

But that is not what "probability" means. That is, just because 89 percent of studies support the hypothesis, it does not follow that there is a probability of 89 percent that the hypothesis is correct.

In other words, it is unsupportable to say that there is an 89 percent chance that global warming is caused by man; what is supportable to say is that the scientists are 89 percent certain that global warming is caused by man.

There's a huge difference between those two statements. If a scientist does a study that says that 89 percent of people who fell out of airplanes without a parachute who landed a certain way were able to survive, and then jumped out of an airplane himself to test the hypothesis, you might properly say that he was 89 percent certain he would survive. But the actual probability of his survival is, I would guess, far less.

Unfortunately, that did stop the aforementioned Mr. Oppenheimer from falsely stating, "the last report concluded that there's a broad, manmade climate change afoot, and this report says that that manmade climate change is already having significant effects." In fact, of course, the reports say no such thing. He is misrepresenting what the reports actually claim, while the reports misrepresent what the scientists are capable of saying. So he's got two levels of misrepresentation there!

I do not know the truth on global warming. No one does. Don't be fooled by the lies of people like Mr. Oppenheimer that claim otherwise. And yes, I am saying he is lying, because I respect his intellect too much to think he doesn't know that the report does not conclude that man is causing global warming.

It's something we see a lot of: if someone cannot convince you of something with the truth, they lie to you. So an anti-gun zealot made up lies about the history of guns in the U.S. to convince them to favor laws against guns. So teachers unions lie about the links between money and actual learning to get you to increase their salaries and give them less work.

So scientists lie about a causal link between man's actions and global warming to get you to favor significant policy changes.

Unlike the anti-gun zealot and the teachers unions, the scientists may, in the end, be right. Man might be causing global warming. But it annoys me to no end that they lie about what the science actually says specifically because they know they can't prove it, and that we are less likely to be convinced if we know that they can't prove it. To them, that justifies the lie, because they are convinced that their view is the truth. But even if their view is the truth, the lie still isn't justified. slashdot.org

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