Friday, February 5, 2010

Any Sufficiently Advanced Science is Pseudoscience

You see it everyday. It is the strongest of arguments. Debaters win every time. What is it? It is simple unashamed denial of logic.

Look at the global warning debate. A graph of CO2 as compared to the average global temperature, the world seems to be warming in lock step with CO2.

The first theories are that CO2, because of its ability to trap more heat as it builds in the atmosphere, it means that the world should indeed warm. End of the argument right?

Ok, here is a little science. CO2, although can cause warming, does not cause a lot of warming. Or at least that is one side of the argument. I can't find much evidence to it being global warmer or a dud.

Back to the data. The data has a correlation between average global temp and CO2. Add in other factors like the Sun and other factors and you still see just a correlation to CO2. So, does it matter that CO2 is a greenhouse gas? Not really, because it seems that CO2 makes the world warmer according to the data. How it does it at the specific rate is good science, but rather immaterial to an attempt to reduce atmospheric CO2.

Ok, boring stuff eh? Now the fun part. The facts are easily poked full of holes. Because you can't directly prove CO2 is a greenhouse gas at the current rate of global warming with  repeatable experiments to prove the data, then the global warming must be caused other causes than CO2.

Because we don't know the exact reason, we can say that any other change can cause the same rate of warming. Look at a few things that might also cause global warming at a similar rate to CO2:
1) Growth of lawyers
2) Consumption of dairy products
3) Farming
4) Incidence of nose picking

All of these have grown over time and could, by mathematical gymnastics, be said to cause global warming. Each has grown at a regular pace since the industrial revolution.

Can you disprove that any of these things has no impact on global warming? Of course the rates are not going to exactly follow the world's warming, but that seems a little picky. They grew and the world got hot. Some things we can't explain completely. Life is a mystery and that is no reason for me not to drive an SUV.

Feel better now? Wild speculation makes the science seem like pseudoscience. Of course if the anti-global warmers could argue and examine evidence logically, we would have little room for disagreement. Simply there is no fair argument because one side gets to make up the rules. That is cool and the pseudoscientist's greatest tools.

You don't need to be irrational to win an argument. Just be creative. Dismiss any argument with the fact that there is no 100% proof or undeniable evidence. There is always a margin for error (or margarine if you are buttering them up).

For extra credit, what logical fallacies am I employing? First person to write the correct answer in the comments gets a free copy of the book!