[LINK] The Milky Way

Stephen Wilson swilson at lockstep.com.au
Sun Jan 10 12:28:01 AEDT 2010

stephen at melbpc.org.au wrote:
> Greg writes,
>> I have a genuine Sagan Baloney Detector .. it's rather surprising to
>> see it raise it's ugly head in the once highly-respected Link journal.
>> Perhaps the critical thinking gene is disappearing from the genome even
>> faster than we feared... 
> Haha .. good to see you, and Phil, are so certain about science, Greg.
> It must be a nice feeling. Of course, I'm certainly no astro-physicist
> but, do you think it may be prudent to await additional information so
> that one can be so sure of things? ... 
What's with the sarcasm?  Why shouldn't Greg and Phil be comfortable in 
being able to dismiss nonsense like the idea that the movement in the 
Milky Way might contribute to short (very very very short) scale climate 

You don't need to be an astrophysicist or even any sort of specialist to 
be able to spot bullshit.  Rather, you need to be scientifically 
literate, schooled in scientific method, and therefore (I hope) alert to 
to nonsense. 

One of the problems in the climate "debate" is the propensity of 
non-scientist critics to demand "100% proof" of scientists.  I think the 
sarcasm in "good to see you, and Phil, are so certain about science" 
comes from the same sort of mind set on show by Steve Fielding et al.

It's a real dilemna for scientists to be tasked with proving to 
non-scientists that any given flight of fancy is nonsense.  I am certain 
that astrology for instance is utter nonsense, but if you want me to set 
out precisely why, it might take thousands of words. 

The key is that one's scientific training provides a world view in which 
certain explanations are valid and accepted (and even if they're "just" 
thoeories, or are still works in progress, can be regarded as "true") 
while most other conceivable explanations are able to be dismissed. 

It's not arrogance or hubris to be able to dismiss crackpots, it's skill.


Stephen Wilson

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