Saturday, July 01, 2006

Resorts to Authority in an Age of Information

In a post that begins with a discussion of the difficulty of making "recourse to authority" style arguments in the internet age, Shrinkwrapped has a lengthy and helpful critique of the Associated Press' claim that Al Gore's questionable truth is universally accepted science. The post and links will take a while to get through, but it is well worth the effort.

By the way, the introduction to the AP article itself shows that the seeming claim of indisputable accuracy is overstated. Of the "more than 100 top climate researchers" contacted by AP, the story says that only 19 had seen the movie or read the book. It is those 19 who provided the input for the story.

But doesn't the relatively small number of scientists bothering to see the movie or read the book suggest a level of dismissiveness by a large majority of climate scientists -- even if one recognizes that some of them may have had various reasons for not doing so? And would not the ones most likely to see it be those who already accept its premise? In fact, reading between the lines, it would appear that at least some of the scientists quoted saw it at screenings to which they were invited. One is hardly stepping out on a limb in suggesting that Gore invited those to his screenings who were already in agreement with what he had to say.

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