How do we know?

Posted June 27th, 2007 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Epistemological therapy

Although most of my regular work is on land and water, I tend to gravitate towards climate issues on the blog because they make it easy to illustrate archetypal problems in science and policy, and it is all related anyway. However I will be gravitating more towards land and water, which become more relevant in any discussion of adaptation and responses and to climate change. In the meantime, for anyone who still needs convincing that humans have become geological agents, a new paper by Naomi Oreskes not only explains how we know the scientific consensus on climate change is not wrong. It also takes the reader step by step through the various ways that knowledge is validated, whether the subject is climate change, the germ theory, the movement of tectonic plates or even evolution,  Science is ultimately about validating knowledge and, as she points out, there is no single sacrosanct “scientific method”-  but she reviews the way that different kinds of reasoning and evidence all point in the same direction. With respect to climate, she makes a convincing case that I dare any trial lawyer to poke a hole in, that while scientific consensus could be mistaken, no one has come up with a reason to think that it is. It is worth a read even if you don’t need convincing. She also makes up for whatever climate scientists are lacking in communication skills.

Because of other obligations, I missed her presentation hosted by the American Meteorological Society last week – it was on my calendar, but hat tip to Andrew Dessler for the reminder and the link to the paper and to her presentation.

One Response to “How do we know?”

  1. Enrico Poli says:

    This really seems something I’ll enjoy reading – thanks for pointing it out!
    [my apologies for just finding this comment today, July 10 – somehow it wound up in the junk comments folder. Now that I have added more spam controls, will adjust the filter settings.]

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