Roger has assured me that if I include the words “hockey stick” in any post, I will generate traffic. At this point, I’m not sure if I really want that traffic, as I’m relatively new to this whole thing and I still have a little boy who seems to want me to give him fatherly attention. (Audacious, I know. Any other three-year-old and I wouldn’t give him the time of day, but this kid manages to persuade me to plop my fat ass on an undersized wooden chair and add color to the outlines of obscure Candyland characters. I also have significant publication responsibilities…but never you mind, this whole discussion has been heaps of fun, so I think I’ll continue.)
In other news, Maurizio has given me honorary props on his blog, so I guess I owe him thanks for the extra traffic. I want to take up his issue as well. Not right here though. Eventually. These things must be spaced out.
One problem that seems to be evading commenters is that I’m not qualified to make judgments about what has been scientifically demonstrated. I simply don’t have the climate background and I rely very heavily on people I deem to be reliable sources. As it happens, most people are excluded from this category of reliable sources, though those excluded from the category are not distinguished by whether they are “skeptics” or “proponents.” It is clear that many proponents don’t have anything like the scientific background required to make a justified assessment of the strength of a given scientific argument; and it is equally clear that some skeptics do have that scientific background. What is also clear is that the climate data span an incredible range of scientific subfields, so I would be shocked and surprised if any single person, even Rajendra Pachauri, is qualified to judge all of the science all of the time.
As a lowly philosopher, I’m only qualified to judge whether something has not been demonstrated, and even my judgment on that score is questionable. If I can think of any plausible reason why something has not been demonstrated by a given argument, and provided that the burden of demonstration is possible to meet, then it seems reasonable to me to say that the claim in question hasn’t been demonstrated. The plausible hypothetical objection (emphasis on ‘plausible’), in other words, should serve as enough reason to say that some burden of demonstration hasn’t been met.