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Comments on the Scientific Consensus of Climate Change

Roger A. Rydin
Year: 2006
Just the other day at my granddaughter?s birthday party in Chapel Hill, one of the parents of a toddler asked me about Global Warming. He said, ?Why can?t scientists give us ordinary people a clear answer about climate change? Don?t they have the right answer all worked out, so they can show us the proof? You are a scientist, so don?t you know something about it?? These are fair questions, which beg a thoughtful answer.

I admitted that this was not my particular field of study, but I didn?t think that the data was at all conclusive as to whether or not climate change was real. I told him that contemporary scientists were often wrong about things, for example, about the Earth being at the center of the universe, which was subsequently proven to be untrue. Nonetheless, it got Galileo into a lot of trouble. Even if 90% of the scientists are in consensus on any given subject, does that mean that they are right, or are the other 10% right, or just a single dissident? After all, science is not a popularity contest, like American Idol. The winner is not the one who gets the most votes, even if the voting is restricted to highly qualified voters.