A funny thing hit the news the other day that struck me as a wonderful parable for modern-day decision making. Both NPR and Fox News (yes, both the yin and yang, alpha and omega, chicken and… well… fox) reported that scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are finding that probes monitoring global sea temperatures now show a general cooling of the world’s oceans.
The fact that the world’s oceans are cooling is of scientific interest, of course, but the real insight to the articles (and of this post) is the conclusions drawn by the observers and the journalists covering the story. They posit that a) the oceans have actually warmed up and expanded, thus somehow cooling the temperature, b) the probes are sending bad information, c) they are unsure what’s wrong with the probes, and d) with a little “perspective” they’ll be able to figure this all out.
I don’t know if it’s the scientists or the journalists capturing these priceless gems of wisdom, but the large elephant in the room is the only one actually articulating the idea that maybe the oceans are just cooling.
It’s difficult for a scientist wrapped in the mantle of global warming for years to objectively synthesize information that contradicts a well constructed preconception.
These guys would fit right in with more corporate staff positions than we’d care to admit.
We love to be consistent and we look down upon those who are not. Look at the words we use to describe them, particularly in this political season: you flip-flopped, you were “for it before you were against it,” (or vice versa), or perhaps you just chose to waffle. None are words you’d want to be known for in your high school yearbook. “Most Likely to Spinelessly Vacillate” isn’t the thing that gets you the promotion, the date, or the statue in the town square.
I recall Gerald Zaltman stating in his excellent book, “How Customers Think,” that 90% of marketing research is conducted to validate preconceptions, and I’d have to say he’s probably right in my experience. How often do we see the “facts” interpreted to fit preconceptions dearly held?
I know it hurts, but sometimes we have to just admit that a cigar is just a cigar.
“It’s difficult for a scientist wrapped in the mantle of global warming for years to objectively synthesize information that contradicts a well constructed preconception.”
Scientists and journalists, apparently. But unlike St. Gore would have 60 Minutes viewers believe, there is a well-established scientific opposition to what Gore considers “common knowledge” about human-caused global warming.
I don’t remember where I read it, but it’s something like 36% of scientists, and who knows how many climatologists.
Gore likens this group with those who still think the world is flat. He says it’s that firmly proved.
Well, sure, but only if you ignore all the data staring you right in the face.
Even those who agree with Gore in principle already know that Gore’s a charlatan who makes up or uses false data to make his points.
You might be interested in Thomas Sowell’s latest book, “Economic Facts & Fallacies,” which covers the blindness people have to the truth that is standing right before them, so as not to disrupt their previously held beliefs.
Someone once said that “A con man’s job is not to convince skeptics but to enable people to continue to believe what they already want to believe.” Seems to apply well here – in spite of the evidence.
Cam: personally, I don’t fall into the “debate is over” camp because in my own personal efforts to understand the truth, I came across so much conflicting data that it became clear to me that the debate was still very much alive. (Bjorn Lomborg is another good source of insight on this issue).
My point in this post wasn’t so much to talk climate change, red vs blue enviro-politics, or even bash the Goracle (as fun as that is on any other day), but to point out that preconceptions and “foolish consistency” do make fools of us all.
Gore, himself, would likely give almost anything at this point to be able to scale back his rhetoric on global climate change, I’d bet. He probably knows in his heart of hearts that he’s gone Wiley Coyote-like off the cliff of hysterical hyperbole. However, he can’t — he’s committed. He’s painted himself into a corner and his rabid followers won’t let him back down, much to his chagrin. Just an opinion, of course, but another ‘consistency’ point to consider.