I once did a talk on this subject at Spain’s Royal Institute of Science during the first global warming panic, but I did a lousy job.
Now, at the time of our second global warming panic (the coronadoom panic waning and needing replacement), I shall try again.
Here is how The Science happens; in particular, how vast over-certainties are generated yet still become “the debate is over”. We’ll use global warming as our example, but this works for any The Science.
Let’s start with a typical The Science pronouncement: “Because of the climate crisis, coffee production in Africa will decrease, which is why our political solutions need to be put in place.”
There are hundreds, even thousands, of statements like this, provided by an army of academics and Experts. They are characterized easily: everything bad will wax because of “climate change” and everything good will wane; good coming from “climate change” is impossible; only bad can arise.
While it is logically possible that slight changes in the average weather will cause only misery, and do no good whatsoever, it is scarcely likely. Indeed, it is absurd and proves “climate change” is part superstition, part scam, part bad science. We address the last part today.
Our archetype statement has three parts: 1) the threat of “climate change”, 2) the bad event, and 3) the promise of “solutions”. We are meant to take the thing as a whole, as if the whole were as certain as the most certain part. Rather, as more certain than the most certain part. Those who demand you follow The Science intend that the string builds in certainty as more items at to it, in a kind of successive reinforcement. Just look at all those Experts who agree!
But that certainty adds is impossible. As is not possible.
All three parts of the statement have their own uncertainties attached to them. If we consider the statement as a whole, then these uncertainties must be multiplied, more or less, resulting in a whole that is vastly more uncertain than any individual part.
Anybody with any familiarity with probability will see this instantly. But for those who aren’t as familiar, consider this scenario: “This coin will come up heads, I’ll roll greater than a 3 on this die, and draw an eight of hearts from this deck.”
Never forget! All probabilities are conditional, meaning we have to supply evidence from which to calculate them. Here, I’ve chosen common evidence sets. We have to assume these for each of the three parts of this scenario. For the coin flip, we’ll use “Here is an object which when flipped can show only heads or tails”. From that we deduce the chance of heads is 1/2.
And so on for the others. We get 1/2 for the flip, 1/2 for the die roll, and 1/52 for the card draw, all assuming standard evidence. For the entire scenario to be true, we need get all three. The probabilities multiply: 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/52 = 1/208, which is about 0.005.
But if the statement could be painted as dealing with “climate change”, and not gambling, we’d be asked to consider the probability the statement is true is at least 1/2. Or even more because of all the “corroborating evidence” from different Experts. After all, 97% of gambling scientists agree.
I picked these examples because I think they’re in the same ballpark as our coffee “climate change” scenario, though the evidence sets are trickier. Let’s step through each of the parts of the scenario to see how statements like this should be tackled.
1) The threat of “climate change”. I take this to mean Expert models predicting “large” “climate change” are accurate or the climate changes on its own, for reasons (at least in part) other than encoded by Experts in their models. Given Experts have been predicting weather doom since the 1970s, first that it would be too cold, then that it would be too hot, then that it would just be too different, and they’ve been wrong every time so far, I’m not too keen on Expert models. But I also figure that the earth’s climate has been both hotter and cooler, wetter and drier, sunnier and cloudier in the past, so it can be so again.
There is no numerical value for the probability that can be deduced from this evidence. It is too vague. But that doesn’t mean it is not useful. If pressed for a number, it is not too far, in my mind based on this evidence, from 50-50.
2) The bad event. Maybe coffee production in Africa would decrease under changed weather, or maybe it wouldn’t. Saying it will decrease is the result of another model by Experts. Who haven’t done at all well with agriculture forecasts.
Again, no numerical probability can be deduced. But I’m feeling generous, so call it 50-50 again. (Really, I believe it’s less, but I don’t want to change our example.)
3) The promise of “solutions”. Expert “solutions” here would be twofold: stopping the climate from changing, and ameliorating reductions in coffee production given the climate has changed in a direction to harm production.
This one is even trickier because some of the same evidence is used in (3) and in (1); namely, that about Experts’ climate models. This makes the multiplication trick strictly wrong.
However, it’s not too far off, either, especially because Expert “solutions” for complex situations stink, stank, stunk. That one in fifty two is being generous.
The end result is I’m not worried about “climate change”, not nearly as worried as I’d be about adopting Expert “solutions”, which in my estimation would only make things worse, or much worse.
Now it may have occurred to you that any of these tripartite statements may itself be unlikely, but given there are many hundreds (or thousands) of these, and we take all of them together, isn’t it likely that one of them might be true?
Sure, yes. But so what? It’s still true that any singular one is unlikely. We can’t go for the “solutions” to protect for all because one of them might be needed. That’s pure Safety First! thinking. Beside, that there are hundreds upon hundreds of such statements points more towards “climate change” being a superstition or scam. Those hypotheses better explain the observations.
Incidentally, the peer-reviewed paper about coffee production decreasing in Africa was from 2012. “The models show a profoundly negative influence on indigenous Arabica.” Since then, Arabica coffee has only increased, year upon year. Until 2020, when the coronadoom “solutions” hit and killed economies the world over.
Came across this banger this morning, from a professor, a thread which directly confirms everything said above:
He claims the harm from continued use of fossil fuels is outweighed by the potential for alleviation of poverty. This is worse than wrong — it’s a morally reprehensible lie, knowingly told, with the intent to harm billions (likely trillions) of people.
— Scott Denning (@airscottdenning) May 30, 2022
There is some +/- to this, but only about 100 billion people have ever lived. And there’s only something under 8 billion of us now, and population looking to soon decline.
Yet – trillions!
Buy my new book and learn to argue against the regime: Everything You Believe Is Wrong.