We watched An Inconvenient Truth in our Environmental Science lab this week, and took class today to discuss the documentary. This was the second time I had seen it, and I was expecting some people to scoff at the ideas presented. Still, I was disturbed in during the discussion, because some people simply did not want to believe him. Some said that they didn't believe the science because it traced earth's climate back to 600,000 years ago, and these students didn't believe the earth was that old. One student, as if thinking of the idea for the first time, said, "Well, we've had ice ages, so it only makes sense that we have warming periods as well. I wanted to shake him and say, "Did you even watch the fucking movie?!"
And here's what I've been thinking since that class today: Groups with agendas (political, religious, etc.) tend to approach scientific findings with a buffet mindset. If a finding disagrees with their stomach, they simply pass it by. When something seems tasty, they snatch it up. That's not how science works, folks.
Perhaps what most upsets me is when people hear of a scientific study - a cursory description - and immediately dismiss it. "Well, there's no way they can tell that." Somebody said something similar in class regarding the measurement of temperatures from the past by analyzing air bubbles trapped in ice core samples. I've seen this reaction to many scientific studies. It's as if they're thinking, "I'm a pretty smart Joe, but I don't understand this. Therefore, they must be making it up." Or, "Silly scientists. They overlook the most obvious things."
Listen people. These scientists have usually had more education than your entire family put together. Who the hell do you think you are picking apart their studies when you don't have even possess a fraction of their knowledge in their field?
"But Deric, who will criticize his arguments if not us?"
Oh, you're right... If only there were some kind of forum where other scientists could critique their peers... like if they could publish it in some kind of journal... golly gee, it's too bad no such thing exists...
But no. People are too lazy to read comments by actual scientists. They'd rather read popular science or Christianity Today to get their science updates. More often, they just rely of their own gut reactions to gauge the veracity of any scientific pronouncement.
Mind you, this isn't only directed at "global warming doesn't exist and if it does, we aren't responsible" crowd, but also toward the Greenpeace crowd. Both censor scientific findings that they don't like.
There, I've vented. Can we all grow up now and take science seriously?