Before anyone reads any further, I want to offer up an extraordinary disclaimer: What I’m about to say should be taken as the view of a relative outsider. I’m approaching the following issue as a philosopher, hopefully impartially, and looking at the reasons that are offered by (at least) two parties. I want to discern who has the burden of proof, who has to demonstrate what, given the scientific state of affairs. In particular, I want to respond to growing excitement in the community of those who are skeptical about the data on climate change (a.k.a. the Skeptics, Deniers, and Denialists). I don’t want to introduce a discussion about the climate science itself, since I’m not really qualified to do so, except as a well-educated non-specialist. Further, as a well-educated non-specialist, my tendency is to defer to established scientific record — which in this case is the IPCC AR4, as well as most of the climate science following from that — and to make judgments about the reliability of challenges to this record based on my understanding both that shenanigans happen in the peer review process and the scientific record is open to amendment.
I can’t give the whole back-story on the issue I’m responding to, as it’s way too convoluted. Best to refer to my colleague Roger Pielke Jr. for his take on things, and then to refer to McIntyre’s original post, followed by Bishop Hill’s relatively straightforward, albeit extremely entertaining, accusation that some very famous climate data was cherry-picked (or insufficiently and unjustifiably employed, depending on your preference). When you’re done with that treat, follow it up with a heavy shot of RealClimate. Roger thinks RealClimate is unjustifiably bristly. I’m not so sure.
Point being: I’m really stepping into the thick of things here. Not sure why. Sadism, perhaps. Stupidity, maybe. Too much wine, most likely. This issue has just caught my attention. Anyone who would like to fillet me should feel free, though they should know that even with my extraordinary disclaimer, my skin ain’t that thin and I can usually hold my own.
Now, on to it. Read the rest of this entry ?