[ExI] Jeff Riggenbach on why many believe...

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 16 13:46:03 UTC 2009

I thought this might be of interest regarding beliefs in general -- not just global warming. Of course, it doesn't settle anything.




"Your answer above? It assumes that climate scientists are mostly stupid in
Precisely the same way. I find the assertion questionable. Some will like silly clothes, some will like silly music. Some will believe in UFOs. But ALL of them will be stupid aboutt[sic] the Climate in just the same way?"

No, not necessarily. When I said people will go to great lengths to believe
comforting fairy tales they want to believe, I did not mean that they all want to believe a particular fairy tale about climate change (though it may be, of course, that some of them do).

What virtually all climate scientists, virtually all scientists, and most human beings of this time and place *do* all believe in unison, however, is that the level of understanding human beings have managed to achieve in the field of climate science (and in the field of scientific inquiry generally) is much, much higher than in fact it is. Wanting to believe that human beings know far, far more than they actually do would appear to be a key feature of the human condition. It's the root, I suspect, of the special instance Hayek labeled "the fatal conceit."

People want to believe that they have the knowledge and power to run everything and to fix anything. They can understand exactly how the weather works, how the climate works; they can effect changes in the weather and the climate, at will; they can write computer programs that will perfectly model all the complex, simultaneous processes that go into making the weather and the climate what they are, and they can use these computer programs to accurately predict the outcomes of various human activities. Admitting that we know and understand a good deal less than most of us believe we do, acknowledging that we're frequently brought up short by processes that *don't* work out exactly as we thought they would, acknowledging that unintended and unanticipated consequences are another seeming staple of the human condition, admitting that all the results of scientific inquiry are not equally reliable, equally well informed, qually "certain" - doing any of this is
 tantamount to denouncing science as useless and generally going over to the Dark Side. I often think of this mindset as the most successful religion of the 20th Century. I call it Scientism.



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