Predicting behavior

Cathy Young notes that the position taken in a column or article about the climatology brouhaha is very predictable.

In the unfolding debate over “ClimateGate,” … one thing is clear. Virtually every commentator’s position on the issue—is this a scandal that exposes global warming as a scientific sham, or a faux scandal stoked by climate-change denial propaganda?—can be predicted by his or her politics. …

While the facts are ostensibly the same, the interpretations differ so dramatically that we might as well be talking about two different realities.

Predictability is a measure of the quality of a theory. In this case, the theory is that climatology is very heavily politically and ideologically based. The ability of that theory to predict perceptions is quite good. The implications of that theory are that scientists are putting politics first and science second. That, in turn, impugns the integrity of scientists as a whole. It reinforces the idea, as some have used to minimize the importance of the leaked messages, that scientists are human with human frailties that commonly over-ride their higher impulses like integrity and honesty.

Young says that the public must depend upon the voice of authority in certain areas. When the authority cannot be trusted, that disrupts social order. A reason for a proper education is to reduce and minimize the need for a dependence on authority in matters subject to reason and measure. It seems that reason for education is needed now more than ever but the effort to achieve it is suffering less importance to many than other pursuits.

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