FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done

I met a climate crisis denier today. It came out of nowhere. I was getting my camera repaired, and I was chatting with the repairman afterward.

Just before I left, he dropped into our conversation that he didn’t believe in manmade climate change. After all, the earth managed to produce an Ice Age all by itself. Volcanoes can mess up the climate. Humans can’t.

I can imagine for people like him, people like me are infuriating. We want to make up a bunch of regulations to fix what he believes is an imaginary problem.

For me, by denying a very real problem, people like him are causing suffering — and even death — for millions, if not billions, of people.

One of the reasons I haven’t had kids — and I want kids — is because I’m terrified of what kind of world I would bring them into as the climate gets more extreme and unstable.

In the moment, I simply said I thought that just because the earth’s climate can change on its own, that doesn’t mean that people can’t also harm the planet. We’ve certainly wiped out entire species of animals all by ourselves.

Yes, he conceded. People can do major damage to wildlife. He just didn’t think we were powerful enough to mess up the entire climate.

That’s his hunch. But it’s certainly not what the science says.

One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve become trained in science myself (in sociology, a social science) and gone on to teach it to college students is how little people actually believe in science.

Take Donald Trump and his latest idea to handle the opioid epidemic with the death penalty. My own instinct would be to deal with by providing services to addicts. But which one is more effective?

Until we look at scientific evidence, we don’t know. Each of us has an idea of what feels true, but who knows? That’s what studies are for.

In this case, studies have shown that the link between severe penalties and crime deterrence is quite weak, while evidence-based treatment programs for addiction can be much more effective.

For whatever reason, scientific studies simply aren’t convincing to an awful lot of people. I got into it with a Facebook troll the other day about whether or not racism still exists. (Spoiler alert: It does.)

I cited research and evidence. He dismissed it. He told me to “Look outside.” Obama was president once, he said, so racism is gone.

He was, in essence, telling me that he doesn’t find scientific studies credible. He believes what he sees with his own eyes (in this case, one single black president on TV).

It’s hard to see climate change with your own eyes. I feel a vague sense that our weather has gotten warmer and weirder in recent years, but I cannot say for sure. I mean, I saw Al Gore’s movie, but what do real scientists say?

97 percent of them agree that humans are causing climate change, according to a 2013 survey of over 10,300 of them.

While I haven’t examined their data myself, I understand enough about how science is done that I believe in scientists. If the experts who have devoted their careers to understanding climate science conclude that there is a manmade climate crisis, I believe them.

More Americans need a solid understanding of and belief in science. Otherwise we end up bickering over our gut hunches without any way to be certain who’s right and who’s wrong.

More articles by:
April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail