Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Settled Science...

The term “settled science” appears in the IPCC reports and has become a key catch-phrase in the AGW debates.  The basic notion put forth by AGW proponents is that the (alleged) consensus of “professional climatologists” must be true, as the magnitude of the consensus indicates that all scientific debate on the topic has been “settled”.  Ergo, to all skeptics, they say STFU.

Well, anyone even modestly acquainted with the history of science knows that there are many, many examples of “settled science” (using the notion described above to define the term) that turned out later to be bogus.  One of my favorite examples is from geology, where in my lifetime the theory of plate tectonics completely overturned the “settled science” of stationary continents. 

This morning I came across a delightful list of such examples.  Many of the entries were reminders for me, such as the relatively recent discovery that stomach ulcers are caused by bacteria (but the previous “settled science” attributed them to stress).  Many other entries were entirely new to me.  The simple existence of this (eminently verifiable) list is a wonderful refutation of the AGW proponents notion of “settled science” – and a reminder of the permanent importance of skepticism to science...

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