Has American Thinker Saved the World from the AGW Hoax?
Recently I received several emails with links to an article at American Thinker by Gary Thompson, claiming to have the “smoking gun” that disproves global warming once and for all. That’s it. It’s over, Johnny. Time to fold up those weather stations and go home.
Except that one of the scientific papers that Thompson thinks is a paradigm-shattering disproof of AGW is, in reality, exactly the opposite. The paper’s authors concluded:
“Our results provide direct experimental evidence for a significant increase in the Earth’s greenhouse effect that is consistent with concerns over radiative forcing of climate.”
Skeptical Science has a good post on this, with graphs and everything: Have American Thinker disproven global warming?
So what do we learn from the American Thinker article. Thompson cites peer-reviewed papers but his analysis consists of eyeballing graphs while spurning the peer-reviewed data analysis. This approach leads to the opposite conclusion of the papers’ authors. I first encountered Harries 2001 when documenting the empirical evidence for an enhanced greenhouse effect. After reading the paper, I had many questions. Rather than let the gaps in my understanding lead me to think I knew more than the authors, I emailed my questions to the lead author John Harries, an approachable scientist who was forthcoming with prompt and detailed replies. The American Thinker article does not disprove the greenhouse effect. It does however provide further evidence for the Dunning-Kruger effect.
Another good read at Skeptical Science: The Dunning-Kruger effect and the climate debate.
One of the best titles for a scientific paper has to be the Ig Nobel prize winning “Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments”. The paper compares people’s skill levels to their own assessment of their abilities. In hindsight, the result seems self-evident. Unskilled people lack the skill to rate their own level of competence. This leads to the unfortunate result that unskilled people rate themselves higher than more competent people. The phenonemon is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, named after the paper’s authors, and is often seen in the climate debate. There are many with a cursory understanding who believe they’re discovered fundamental flaws in climate science that have somehow been overlooked or ignored by climate scientists. Some take this a step further and believe they’re being deceived.