It's hard to understand how the views of an scientifically unlettered person like Jonah can count for anything on a technical subject like earth science. But then again it takes just a day to master Latin, and maybe an evening to conquer Sanskrit. Right?This brings up an interesting issue: What latitude does the non-expert on such technical issues have to say anything constructive about them? This question would apply, one supposes to any scientific issues.
I responded to Truti as follows:
If scientific laymen are going to be asked to foot the bill for programs to prevent Global Warming, then the pronouncements of those who are pushing for such policies should make sense, and right now they don't.Truti retorted by ignoring my points and asserting once again that a non-scientist has no standing on the issue:
And besides, Goldberg is questioning the logic of the Global Warming alarmists' predictions, not the science of it. And Goldberg has no less expertise in that area than those he is criticizing.
Scientific questions are not a matter of opinion, but have a correct answer. Laymen have a choice --learn the subject in detail, read up on the current literature; or go by the conclusions of experts. If it doesn't make sense read up some more. If it still doesn't make sense abandon commonsense, it serves no purpose. Goldberg has no expertise in the earth sciences. Without that nothing else matters.He completely ignored my point that Goldberg was not making scientific assertions, but political assertions. What Truti doesn't seem to get is that when scientists enter the field of policy, they give up the cloak of invulnerability they enjoy when making technical scientific pronouncements and have to open themselves up to criticism on the non-scientific questions that arise when making policy pronouncements. And this is exactly the situation we are in with some scientists advocating policies in response to Global Warming.
To say that carbon emissions bring about Global Warming is a scientific statement. But to say we should pass legislation to reduce carbon emissions is a policy statement. Truti's comments seem to betray a complete confusion between these two kinds of questions. And, once having confused himself, he then argues as if the two questions are one and the same.
Let's use his remarks about Latin and Sanskrit. If say that Latin is an inflected language and possesses a very regular set of grammar rules, then I am making a statement about Latin, and only someone who knows Latin can say it with authority. But if I say that, because of its inflected nature and regular grammar, the study of Latin is ideally suited for the development of mental skills and should therefore be required in schools, that is no longer a statement about Latin that requires expertise in the language; it is rather a policy statement that happens to involve Latin.
What Goldberg was doing was the latter, not the former. But, not recognizing the distinction, Truti treats himself to unwarranted conclusions about Goldberg's standing on the issue.
To say that policy questions concerning science should be decided only by scientific professionals is like saying that policy questions on insurance should be decided only by insurance professionals; policy questions on banking should be decided only by banking professionals; policy question on military issues should be made only by military professionals.
In one sense this would make things very easy: we could disband school boards all across the country, since policy questions on education should be decided only by education professionals. And we could shut down our popularly elected legislatures altogether, since questions on law should be made only by legal professionals.
We have a big debate going on right now about health care reform. But I know of no one who says that the issue should be decided only by health care professionals.
Is there some reason science is exempt from the civilian control we practice in virtually every other area? It would, of course, be illogical to say so. Speaking of which, does Truti have some professional expertise in logic? If not, then what business does he have trying to employ it--on this blog, or anywhere else?