My footnote about global warming

At the beginning of my article, How to think scientifically about scientists’ proposals for fixing science, which we discussed yesterday, I wrote:

Science is in crisis. Any doubt about this status has surely been been dispelled by the loud assurances to the contrary by various authority figures who are deeply invested in the current system . . . When leaders go to that much trouble to insist there is no problem, it’s only natural for outsiders to worry.

And at that point came a footnote, which I want to share with you here:

At this point a savvy critic might point to global-warming denialism and HIV/AIDS denialism as examples where the scientific consensus is to be trusted and where the dissidents are the crazies and the hacks. Without commenting on the specifics of these fields, I will just point out that the research leaders in those areas are not declaring a lack of crisis—far from it!—nor are they shilling for their “patterns of discovery.” Rather, the leaders in these fields have been raising the alarm for decades and have been actively pointing out inconsistencies in their theories and gaps in their understanding. Thus, I do not think that my recommendation to watch out when the experts tell you to calm down, implies blanket support for dissidents in all areas of science. One’s attitude toward dissidents should depend a bit on the openness to inquiry of the establishments from which they are dissenting.

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