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What has science done for us?

Filed under: — rasmus @ 13 December 2016

Where would we be without science? Today, we live longer than ever before according to the Royal Geographical Society, thanks to pharmaceutical, medical, and health science. Vaccines saves many lives. Physics and electronics have given us satellites, telecommunications, and the Internet. You would not read this blog without them. Chemistry and biology have provided use with all sorts of products, food, and enabled the agricultural (“green”) revolution enhancing our crop yields. The science of evolution and natural selection explains the character of ecosystems, and modern meteorology saves lives and help us safeguard our properties.

So what is science? It’s more than just a body of knowledge. It’s a mindset and strategy to build an understanding of our world. This understanding is extremely valuable for our society, especially when it comes to establishing where we stand and what the likely outcomes will be from perceived future actions.

The scientific method is perfect for resolving uncertainties such as controversial claims about facts. It builds on the principles of transparency, testing, and independent replication. Every scientifically trained scholar should get similar results when the analysis is repeated for a finding that is universally true.

Scientific testing and replicating scientific facts are usually based on data analysis and require an understanding of statistical reasoning and what the data really represent. The data analysis is often the point where differences arise. Climate science is no different to other science, and I have myself contributed to the process of checking the findings in a number of controversial papers (Benestad et al., 2016).

There is always a story behind each conclusion that goes back to its roots. The difference between science on the one hand, and dogma and propaganda on the other, is that the latter is not traceable. In other words, you should be more confident about scientific results and sceptical when it comes to intransparent or undocumented claims.

The scientific community has a well-established system for taking care of scientific findings, mainly through publication of papers in the scientific literature. A scientific paper should provide sufficient information for others to replicate the work done and reproduce results. Scientific results are also presented and discussed at conferences, such as the present American Geophysical Union (AGU) fall meeting. The science presented in conferences, however, is not readily broadcasted to the wider society, partly because of difficult language and partly because of limited media presence.

I strongly believe we need a public voice of scientists and historians (see Defending Climate Science), but there is a concern for the future of Earth and space science. It is not just a potential problem for the science community. This is also a genuine worry that affects the wider society and its right to scientific facts and objective information. It is also an issue when it comes to education.

Science benefits everyone and is part of the fabric of our civilisation. It is therefore unwise to dismiss or twist for short-term benefits. The concept “science denial” has been discussed in the magazine called Physics World (September 2016), Nature, blogs, videos, as well as books, just to mention some examples. One of my favoutites is nevertheless the book with the title ‘Agnotology: the Making and Unmaking of Ignorance‘ by Proctor and Schiebinger

History of science can explain how absurd the notion is regarding global warming being a hoax from China. We only need to search for scientific publications from the past, as I did when I wrote a review about the greenhouse effect, based on a paper from 1931 by the American physicist Edward Olson Hulburt (Benestad, 2016)). There is an excellent historical account of modern climate science American Institute of Physics written by Spencer Weart.

It is also a disservice to our society to close down faculties, such as earth observations and climate science. We need both observations and updated analysis more than ever in the times of unprecedented global warming. They are essential inputs to fact-based decision-making concerning our global environment on which we all depend. Our society has progressed and become great much thanks to science, and it would be a sad story for everyone if we were to undo that.

References

  1. R.E. Benestad, D. Nuccitelli, S. Lewandowsky, K. Hayhoe, H.O. Hygen, R. van Dorland, and J. Cook, "Learning from mistakes in climate research", Theoretical and Applied Climatology, vol. 126, pp. 699-703, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00704-015-1597-5
  2. R.E. Benestad, "A mental picture of the greenhouse effect", Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00704-016-1732-y

222 Responses to “What has science done for us?”

  1. 1
    Adam Lea says:

    “During the twentieth century, life expectancy rose dramatically amongst the world’s wealthiest populations from around 50 to over 75 years.”

    How much of that life expectancy can be attributed to reduction in child mortality, rather than true extension of life? If you look at life expectancy only considering those who have reached adulthood what would the trend look like?

  2. 2
    Marco says:

    Adam Lea, see for the US this table:
    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005140.html
    As you can see, all ages have seen an increase in life expectancy over the last century.

  3. 3
    Jim Eager says:

    Nicly done, Marco. A perfect illustration of the verifiability of science.

  4. 4
    Susan Anderson says:

    I think the excessive focus on quoting the “hoax from China” item has become counterproductive. It needs a broader and kinder response, rather than trying to pin down a specific accusation and response to misdirection.

    Given the wholesale attacks on expertise, wisdom, and knowledge being broadcast these days, this is a necessary reminder of what we all take for granted.

    I wish you would write an OpEd for my rag, The New York Times, on this subject. I think people have lost sight of how science is not political, but a way to look at the world we inhabit, and in some cases solve its problems.

    Lately, people seem to think it’s all a big war of ideas, and it seems to me a neutral article about what science has done would help.

    I would also provide a sampling of the gorgeous imagery that we have come to take for granted, readily accessible –

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/

  5. 5

    Far too many people believe that science and scientists should remain quiet on issues assumed to be out of their range of activity, and they should remain as observant, somewhat segregated bystanders. How absurd is this position. Climate change and its world-wide consequences demand that all citizens, particularly those in science, take a very prominent role in conveying scientific data and interpretations. To not do so promotes the notion that scientists should remain mute. If there were any time in which science should blend with engineering, sociology, government, economics, and others, it is now. Ecological Economics, a relatively new and expanding field, should embrace science, and vice versa, because our survival on the road ahead depends, more than ever in my view, on their intimate interrelations. A new paradigm should be considered.

  6. 6
    Scott says:

    “In the times of unprecedented global warming”.

    By what scientific measure do you make this statement? It is clear to even the casual observer that there were warmer periods that today, EVEN IF you say “well its been millions of years”, you still have to explain why today’s “unprecedented” warmer climate is any different.

    Why will nobody publicly debate this topic? Please don’t tell me “the science is settled regarding CAGW”. Thanks

  7. 7
    Andrew Simmons says:

    “…brought peace?”

    Sorry to sound flippant, but it’s a “ha-ha-only-serious”.

  8. 8
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    Thanks to the last 40 years of Republicanism, American life spans are now in decline.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    nigelj says:

    Science is indeed unfortunately under attack. I think whats happened is economic globalisation has hurt some groups. People have tended to blame the whole problem on “detached, self interested elites” and have included scientists in this elite group.Anyone who looks like the elite is labelled the enemy no matter how absurd this is.

    It’s particularly frustrating because scientists and the scientific method offer us the best possible way of improving the globalisation process and knocking off the rough edges, without retreating into protectionist trade policies, or deep hatred of immigrants, or anti science thinking.

  11. 11
    Dan DaSilva says:

    Science gave us global warming and the atomic bomb.

  12. 12
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Environmental Sociologists McCright & Dunlap to explain the attack on science (but not on science that helps useful technology) by “anti-reflexivity” and a distinction between “production science” and “impact science” (as in negative environmental impacts from technology).

    Their article, “Anti-reflexivity: The American Conservative Movement’s Success in Undermining Climate Science and Policy,”
    is free at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0263276409356001 & also at Researchgate.

  13. 13
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    A follow up article to the one I just mentioned is “Clarifying anti-reflexivity: conservative opposition to impact science and scientific evidence” at http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/9/2/021001/meta

  14. 14
    Bryson Brown says:

    I’ve seen Dan’s argument (11) before– and it’s easy to see the attraction of finding something to blame for the dangers we face. But it’s a wishful, silly muddle. Science revealed the possibility of building ‘the bomb’ and it developed the basic principles and (with a lot of engineering) equipment that makes fossil fuel based energy systems work. But there’s a long history of ‘careful what you wish for’ stories that tell us something important here– blaming science for these things ignores the roles of power and cupidity and short-sightedness. Building the bomb made sense in WWII, given the risk that the Nazis might do it first. The cold war that followed built the dangerous legacy we continue to live with, but it was politics, not science that drove the process. Many self-harming mistakes were made (remember Nixon pressing ahead with MIRVs on the assumption that it would give the US a huge edge in the end-all poker game of MAD– only to find that the USSR’s heavy-lift missiles made their quickly-developed MIRVs a threat to the US triad, triggering the nonsense of Reagan’s SDI, and (linking back) the emergence of the George C. Marshall Institute as a political force for wasteful, destructive policy measures…). Climate science’s first big policy splash was not global warming, but nuclear winter (which continues to be a threat today). But the mess is about bad policy making and sometimes bad choices about what ‘applied research’ to pursue. That’s not about science itself being ‘bad’, and the threats grow not because we know more but because we can do so much more and we make some bad choices. We all know science has a brilliantly good side as well as a dark side. Science gives us options and critical information. It’s improving renewable energy systems, warning us about our impact on climate and the complex risks involved and much, much more. More to the point, putting the genie back in the bottle is not an option (for myself, I find it hard to regret that fact). Even if going back to George Grant’s (see Lament for a Nation) rural paradise of religious authoritarianism, along with its small pox, famines, tyrant kings and ‘nobles’ and grinding peasantry for nearly all might lower some of the risks we face, I don’t want to go there…

  15. 15
    Marco says:

    @Scott #6,

    How about unprecedented for us humans, and unprecedented in terms of the rate of warming and where we are going.

    The earth will survive, and there will with virtual certainty still be a functional biosphere, but it is going to be much, much different at a much, much faster rate than what we humans (and likely the biosphere as such) has ever experienced.

    Whether this is “catastrophic” (and note that CAGW usually indicates you are a dismissive) is in the eye of the beholder. Some people declare a catastrophe when a few thousand people die in a besieged city, others rejoice at this loss of life. I most certainly do not belong to that latter group.

  16. 16
    Jim Eager says:

    Scott asked @6: By what scientific measure do you make this statement?

    By the rate of the current warming (~1.5-2C/century), which is more than 10 times faster than during the ending of the last glaciation (~4-5C/5000 years). Only super volcano eruptions and large impact events have produced faster rates of temperature change.

  17. 17
    SecularAnimist says:

    Scott at #6 wrote: “Please don’t tell me ‘the science is settled regarding CAGW’.”

    OK, I won’t tell you that.

    I will tell you to go away and post your stupid, boring denialist BS somewhere else.

  18. 18
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan DaSilva: “Science gave us global warming and the atomic bomb.”

    No, science made them possible. Humans and their greed and fear did the rest.

  19. 19
    SecularAnimist says:

    Lynn Vincentnathan wrote: “… to explain the attack on science (but not on science that helps useful technology) …”

    It’s worth noting that Trump has not only promised to end funding for NASA’s Earth Science research, but has also promised to end all Federal funding for renewable energy R&D, which certainly qualifies as “science that helps useful technology”.

    The attack on “science” is very specifically an attack on any scientific or technological work that threatens the narrow, short term profit interests of the fossil fuel corporations, who own the Republican Party lock, stock and barrel, and are now in the process of seizing control of the Federal government.

  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
    Mal Adapted says:

    Scott:

    Please don’t tell me “the science is settled regarding CAGW”.

    There’s little danger of that, since you won’t find the adjective “catastrophic” applied to “anthropogenic global warming” in any peer-reviewed scientific publication. Unlike “anthropogenic”, “global” and “warming”, “catastrophic” refers to a purely subjective judgement. IOW, catastrophe is in the eyes of the victims.

    This much is settled: the globe is warming faster than at any time in at least the last 10,000 years; and humans are the cause. Yes, ‘AGW’ is settled science.

    Furthermore, it is now confirmed that AGW has increased the frequency and intensity of extreme heatwaves and rainfall events, resulting in the loss of homes, livelihoods and/or lives. Nevertheless, it’s up to the victims to judge whether ‘C’ is settled or not.

    So, a lopsided majority of working climate scientists will tell you ‘AGW’ is settled, but not that ‘CAGW’ is.

    Any questions?

  23. 23
    nigelj says:

    Dan @11 says science gave us global warming and the atomic bomb. This is a pessimistic, cynical view.

    Of course science does have a dark side in terms of knowledge and what it can potentially lead to, especially pressure on the environment. But science “equally” gives us the knowledge to manage the environment well, if we want.

    Unfortunately a certain country has elected an irresponsible ignoramus who is prepared to take great risks with the environment. Hope it only lasts 4 years.

  24. 24
    Night-Gaunt49 says:

    15
    Marco says:
    14 Dec 2016 at 12:02 PM

    How about unprecedented for us humans, and unprecedented in terms of the rate of warming and where we are going.

    The kind of change in the Earth’s atmosphere and biosphere are at many times the speed of a natural alteration. What happens in thousands of years can happen in hundreds of years. In some cases even faster the more we pour into the thermal system.

    The Earth will survive, and there will with virtual certainty still be a functional biosphere, but it is going to be much, much different at a much, much faster rate than what we humans (and likely the biosphere as such) has ever experienced.

    Sure the rock part will survive. It is the ecosphere we are talking about and referring to in this. Ever heard of the time of the “Great Dying”? happened about 250 mya. Heat Death of the planet was happening that ended not only the reign of the mammal precursors, but so many other forms of life. Even so it wasn’t finished. During a three million year period as the Permian ended and the Triassic began the Earth was very close to exterminating all life. Called the “Springian-Sprathian” with the oceans mostly full of a very limited kinds of fish and lots of jellyfish. The poles were temperate and free of ice. Life was hard pressed to survive. Now imagine us there. We are headed in that general direction. It is unknown how this happened 250 mya, but we know how it will happen today. I hope you like green skies.

    Whether this is “catastrophic” (and note that CAGW usually indicates you are a dismissive) is in the eye of the beholder. Some people declare a catastrophe when a few thousand people die in a besieged city, others rejoice at this loss of life. I most certainly do not belong to that latter group.

    Such a Hot House Earth would take its toll on animal and some plant life, Humans will be hit hardest. Our numbers are such that we are over represented now. What made it possible to have over 7 billion what maintains it is rickety and stretched since it centers around hydro-carbons and artificially fixed nitrogen in the soils.

    The Earth will survive, and there will with virtual certainty still be a functional biosphere, but it is going to be much, much different at a much, much faster rate than what we humans (and likely the biosphere as such) has ever experienced.

    That will touch off wars and famine and mass die offs of humanity in a horrible conflagration of blood and desperation. We can avoid it but the Capitalist mentality keeps us chained. 1970’s was the best time to have started moving away from petrochemicals to other means. We might be able to keep from getting to the worst case with 9° – 11° C above today’s norms would be catastrophic. The 6the extinction was started by humanity and the final part of our fossil fuel based technology would finish it. The greed to squeeze the last dollar out of it for short term gain will condemn us and our generations to slow death and hard living in the long term. We will have failed our survival species test and failed the world. Probably would take 30 million years to recover from it as it did with the Permian.

    I postulated that a Type 0 civilization such as ourselves at one point can create, accidentally a Type 1 level disaster as we have. Our survival will be problematic. I hope we don’t have to go through that lesson and drag Earth through it with us.

  25. 25
    Dan DaSilva says:

    C S Lewis wrote in The Discarded Image, Chapter II Reservations:
    “I think it would be fair to say that the ease with which scientific theory assumes the dignity and rigidity of fact varies inversely with the individual’s scientific education.”

    How true and it is shown here with the lack of skepticism and the worship of science.

  26. 26
    Romain says:

    Scott:
    ““In the times of unprecedented global warming”.
    By what scientific measure do you make this statement?”

    Thanks for asking. I’m not the only one then.
    I think people making this statement rely on paleoclimate reconstructions. Marcott et al. 2013 being one of the most recent ones.
    And they believe the resolution and accuracy of these studies are good enough to be sure that there never was a faster global warming in the past milleniums…
    For example all of the many rapid variations in the Vostok record are only local and when combined with records from other locations, these rapid variations vanish.

    Is this correct, folks?

  27. 27
    Bill says:

    The battle over nature of climate change has pitted scientists against politicians and allied economic interests. It is a battle between a system devoted to finding the truth and a system devoted to achieving success. Logic and truth have little to do with the current political or economic realities. It is like pitting a boxer against a street fighter. One is committed to fair play and good sportsmanship and the other devoted to victory at all costs. Unfortunately, the virtues and benefits of science have nothing to do with the price of tea in China.

  28. 28
    Chris Dudley says:

    An essay on the benefits of grammer would be bigly appreciate.

  29. 29
    Phil Scadden says:

    The “catastrophic” bit that deniers fear seems to be any measure that might reduce their spending power be it higher energy costs or taxation.

  30. 30
    Thomas says:

    25 Dan DaSilva; disturbingly quoting a fantasy fiction author such as C S Lewis whose stories were loved by kiddies (including me) as to the efficacy of science in 2016 certainly shows where your head is at Dan. May as well be kept in a bucket for all the good it’s doing you.

    Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963) was a British novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist.

    That’s one hell of an Appeal to Authority! I think you’re one of the millions suffering from an incipient mental illness.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blkqV6ahXSs&feature=youtu.be&t=15m18s

  31. 31
    zebra says:

    Romain #26,

    It’s really about whether you want to engage in rhetoric or reason, and in this case scientific reason. That requires recognizing that effects have causes, and that postulating some cause outside of our understanding of physics is not part of scientific reasoning. Also, postulating multiple causes to explain an effect violates the principle of Parsimony, when there is already a viable(meaning consistent with physics) explanation.

    So, if there were indeed equally rapid increases in energy content of the climate system in the past, there would have to have been a cause. Other than humans extracting and burning fossil fuels, what would cause an equally rapid increase in the past? And, if that increase was so short-lived as to be undetectable given the resolution of our data, what caused the energy to disappear?

    So, yes, absent assuming supernatural intervention, it is reasonable to say that what we are experiencing is “unprecedented”. Physics is not curve-fitting; there are many inputs to our conclusions, and the current theoretical framework is robust.

    In any event– who cares if some wacky combination of phenomena might have caused a similar rise in the past? That combination isn’t happening now, unless, again, you are invoking something supernatural, which we can’t detect.

  32. 32

    C S Lewis wrote in The Discarded Image, Chapter II Reservations:
    “I think it would be fair to say that the ease with which scientific theory assumes the dignity and rigidity of fact varies inversely with the individual’s scientific education.”

    Rather ironic, given that C.S. Lewis had no scientific education whatever.

  33. 33
    David B. Benson says:

    Romain — Yes, there has never been faster climate change since the end Cretaceous impact. Well, some say PETM proceeded as quickly but I doubt that.

  34. 34
  35. 35
  36. 36
    Dan DaSilva says:

    Generally speaking, the comments on this site seem to have a love of science combined with a dislike of capitalism. Since science enabled modern capitalism it would appear that many here have a conflict. As science advances, it may solve problems and produce new ones. The problem, of course, is not science but the nature of man. If man were a creature guided only by justice and love science would be an awesome tool for good. But man is motivated by love, justice, fear, greed, and hate. The answers, therefore, are not found in science but in psychological, political, philosophical, and religious realms. Although opinions here may differ CS Lewis was a great thinker in philosophy, human nature, literature, and religion. In short, science is not an answer but a tool that is abused by mankind.

  37. 37

    Lewis was not a scientist and readily admitted it. What’s more, he was always very respectful toward science and scientists. When he talked about a scientific subject, he always admitted that he was no expert and could be wrong.

    What’s more, he had no problem accepting evolution and an old Earth. Creationists like to seize on a quote from his where he says scientists are already beginning to reject the Darwinian theory, but it’s out of context–he was educated in the ’20s, when Darwinian natural selection was being challenged by Alphaeus Hyatt’s racial life cycle theory and phyletic senility; and orthogenesis; and some people were still clinging to de Vries’s mutationism. He understood the difference between “evolution” and “Darwinism,” which most creationists do not.

    He also tried to keep up with the science of his time, reading Eddington and Schrodinger, and advised other Christians to do likewise.

  38. 38
    zebra says:

    Dan DaSilva 36,

    You are apparently unaware that science tells us about human behavior just as it tells us about the behavior of fluids and point masses and electricity and so on. Psychology is a science, Evolution is a science, politics and economics are sciences as well.

    You also seem to be unaware that what we call “science” today evolved from what used to be called “natural philosophy”, which was a “subset” of philosophy.

    It is difficult to understand what distinction you are trying to make here– we apply the same rules of rationality and reason in all these different areas, and only particular aspects of religion are excluded. So, Lewis may have been a clever fellow, but that doesn’t make supernatural claims any more valid.

  39. 39
    SteveP says:

    So here is a question that Dan Dasilva can answer without having to resort to quoting the wisdom of CS Lewis. Why are you at this site Dan? This is a site that, if I am not mistaken, is meant to be a forum on climatology … a place where experts in the field of climatology and atmospheric physics can help non-experts learn about the latest findings in climatology and atmospheric physics. It is also a place where a group of people under constant attack by the Dan Dasilva’s of the world can find refuge from their anti-scientific rants. Your hijacking of this site to express your contempt for science, along with your apparent mischaracterization of scientists as science worshipers and anti-capitalists is offensive, to say the least. So Dan, I am firing a shot across your bow. You may think that you are proslytizing to the heathens, that you are waging the good fight for your jesuitical cause of non-scientific philosophy, but what you are doing looks to most of us here as being more along the lines of putting waste products in the punch bowl. So would you mind terribly going somewhere else with your waste products? Please don’t come here with arrogant religiosity to misjudge and mischaracterize people. Please don’t come here to teach bull shit. Please don’t tell us what we are thinking. We know what we think, we know what we believe. CS Lewis, last time I checked, has a limited array of universal truths, and you don’t seem to have any clue as to how to apply them to the slow motion train wreck of AGW . What you seem to be doing instead is to be casting aspersions on the people who are making humanity aware of this really serious problem. I would like to point out that using one’s expertise to draw attention to a catastrophic problem, and doing so while under nearly constant attack by non-experts in the field,such as yourself, is an activity that I would like to think that CS Lewis would have applauded.

    So again, Dan, why are you here? You don’t seem to be coming here to learn. You seem to think that you know everything. What would CS Lewis think? Have a nice day.

  40. 40
    Ken Fabian says:

    Knowledge that is the product of scientific enquiry can be empowering – making techniques and technologies that fix problems and increase prosperity possible. Knowledge can also be damning and shaming and impose a burden of responsibility for the damaging consequences of our actions. But knowing better will always have greater potential for doing better than not knowing. Even if some potential for doing better by accident can co-exist with ignorance the odds are always going to be far better when best available knowledge is applied with intelligence and intent by people in positions of trust and responsibility.

    With respect to climate change, where the expert advice has been widely available and been fundamentally consistent for decades, some form of negligent refusal to be well informed seems involved; the most significant value of maverick credentialed climate scientists willing to misrepresent and malign the science of their peers may not be to confuse the public but to provide seemingly legitimate grounds for responsible office holders to act negligently and ignore advice.

  41. 41
    nigelj says:

    Dan De Silva @36 said, “Generally speaking, the comments on this site seem to have a love of science combined with a dislike of capitalism. Since science enabled modern capitalism it would appear that many here have a conflict.”

    I dont think people have a dislike of capitalism, going by a normal, mainstream definition of capitalism. Its more that some of us can see that capitalism has a dark side and not enough is done to mitigate this dark side. By analogy I love my car but it has some frustrating features that could have so easilly been avoided or mitigated or compensated for.

    And science is simply knowledge. It may lead to inventions that prove destructive if used in this way, but that does not invalidate love of knowledge.

    Of course some people have a rigid definition of capitalism as being inherently perfect, unchanging, and a system that governments have no right interfering with. I think this view is simply wrong especially when you look at the history of how capitalism is constantly changing.

    So anyway I dont think lovers of science and critics of capitalism are in any way conflicted.

    You say “But man is motivated by love, justice, fear, greed, and hate. The answers, therefore, are not found in science but in psychological, political, philosophical, and religious realms.”

    We do indded have a mixture of motivations. We have evolved that way due to darwinian evolution. Evolution itself gives some clues why we have ended up with a mixture of values and motivations, because they are all survival mechanisms in different contexts. Modern humans have simply consciously recognised that fear and hate can be a problem in some contexts.

    I dont have huge faith that religion would find answers to the problems you mention. Its not evidence based, and its ethical teachings may have served ok in the past, but they are confused teachings. I also have doubts about philosophy, which often strays into very contorted reasoning.

    Given our internal conflicts of love and hate or bigotry originate with evolution science and psychology (which is a science) has the best chance of understanding these things better, and giving some direction on how we manage our conflicting drives, and minimise hate, or confine our fears to things we should genuinelly be afraid of. Im starting to see plenty of evidence this is happening.

    I suggest read the book “The Moral Arc” by Michael Shermer that has substantial evidence that science has improved human moral behaviour considerably, and that human morality has improved over the last 100 years. This is counter intuitive for some people, but the evidence is strong.

  42. 42
    Thomas says:

    “combined with a dislike of capitalism.” is a totally deluded belief unsupported by any evidence whatsoever.

    “In short, science is not an answer but a tool that is abused by mankind.” and the abuser is you DaSilva. Get thee to a psychiatrist’s chair!

  43. 43
    Dan DaSilva says:

    #30 Thomas, We know that an appeal to authority is a debating no-no, therefore let us look at CS Lewis’s words only without his name. Scientific thought must be rigorous and disciplined. As many do not have this capability they attach themselves to those who have the credentials to justified their ideas. Skepticism is the easiest position to defend as doubt is the default position of all good science. Therefore if you wish to attack a skeptical position you must have your duck in a row. Alas, the ducks resemble a herd of cats.

  44. 44
    Digby Scorgie says:

    Dan DaSilva @36

    It’s not that we dislike capitalism so much as the way it has been distorted to the detriment of wider society and the planet.

  45. 45
    Thomas says:

    Kevin Anderson extracts:

    Is the climate change academic community reluctant to voice issues that question the economic growth paradigm?

    Despite the enormity and urgency of the 1.5°C and “well below 2°C” mitigation challenges, the academic community has barely considered delivering deep and early reductions in emissions through the rapid penetration of existing end-use technologies and profound social change. At best it dismisses such options as too expensive compared to the discounted future costs of a technology that does not yet exist. At worst, it has simply been unprepared to countenance approaches that risk destabilising the political hegemony.

    and How aspiring to support economic growth dominates the framing of research funders’ programmes

    In many respects academics are simply subject to the same changing pressures that our institutions typically face – nowhere is this more obvious than in the framing of research funding.

    The UK’s research councils all now have economic growth deeply embedded in their strategies, mission statements, etc. – putting increasing pressure on the academic community to ensure their research proposals fit with the government’s agenda. This is a notable shortening of the historically precious “arms length” separation between the near-term aspirations of government and the longer-term objectives set by the research councils (the funders).

    So whilst scientists may be operating objectively, they do so within potentially very subjective boundaries: boundaries that increasingly are prescribed by short-term political objectives.
    http://kevinanderson.info/blog/is-the-climate-change-academic-community-reluctant-to-voice-issues-that-question-the-economic-growth-paradigm/

  46. 46

    Again I posted to this board and the post got lost.

    C.S. Lewis respected science and scientists. He tried to keep up with the science of his day, reading Eddington and Schrödinger, and advised Christians in general to be aware of what was going on in science. When he commented on a science subject, he was always careful to state that he was a layman and not an expert.

    Lewis has been quoted saying “I believe scientists are already contemplating a retreat from the Darwinian position,” but that was taken out of context. He was educated in the ’20s, when Darwinism was competing with rival theories of evolution such as Alphaeus Hyatt’s theory of racial life cycles and phyletic senility; orthogenesis; and even some holdovers of de Vries’s mutationism. He understood the difference between “evolution” and “Darwinism,” which most creationists do not.

  47. 47
    Hank Roberts says:

    > your head …. May as well be kept in a bucket

    Thomas, are you aware you’re sounding a bit like Dr. Guillotine?

  48. 48
    Mitch says:

    #36 Dan: I fail to see where the comments show a dislike of capitalism. Most people are discussing how we should move forward, and exhibit a frustration with the confusianists that are trying to obscure the scientific issues for the average person.

    Perhaps you can explain better how decarbonizing society is somehow anticapitalist. As far as science goes, its job is to work out what actually is occurring through whatever fog is out there. This includes not only self-delusion but also deliberate distraction.

  49. 49
  50. 50
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Reminds me a little of the following:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9foi342LXQE

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