Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 8:18 pm

Climate change: What’s more likely?

Filed under: We're so screwed — Lex @ 8:18 pm
Tags: ,

As regular readers know, I believe that the Earth’s climate is changing in undesirable ways, that this change is being driven primarily by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and that human activity (both carbon emissions and logging the rain forests that turn the greatest amount of carbon dioxide into oxygen) is to blame.

Not coincidentally, this is essentially the view of the vast majority of climate scientists, whose work, comprising more than 30,000 studies dating back decades, many of those studies confirming earlier findings, would seem to put this question beyond the range of rational dispute — the key word, of course, being “rational.” I waded into the discussion thread of one of Atlantic economics blogger Megan McArdle’s posts on climate change last week, and lemme tell you, for every halfway cogent criticism of the theory of anthropogenic global warming, there were 20 dittoheads who just wanted to repeat talking points and punch hippies. It was a Sargasso Sea of DERP.

Well, when rationality fails, I fall back on Occam’s (or, as my research textbook spells it, Ockham’s) razor, which sounds painful. But Occam’s razor is actually a principle of logic: In plain English, it means that all other things being equal, the simplest explanation for a problem is most likely correct.

And so it is in the spirit of Occam’s razor that I present the following graphic, created by Brooke Jarvis.

I know which of these I think is more likely, but set that aside for a moment and just answer me this: Which one is simpler?

(h/t: Grist)

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4 Comments »

  1. The graphic does not rise to the level of the post preceding it. Although Occam’s razor can be a valuable tool, it is useless when applied to incomplete data.

    Why are the massive amounts of money spent by governments across the world (amounts that easily out weigh what “big oil” may spend) missing on the left side of the graphic?

    Comment by polifrog — Wednesday, February 29, 2012 9:34 am @ 9:34 am | Reply

  2. Nice try. Governments are spending money — and, arguably, not nearly enough, given the potential consequences, on research. The extraction industry is spending it on propaganda. I realize Fox News suggests — explicitly and by its very existence — that they’re the same thing. Here in the real world, the truth’s a little different, and if you want to argue otherwise, you’ve got the whole rest of the Internet to go do it on. This is a subdivision of the reality-based community. If the research ever comes to a different conclusion (as it did with, say, bacteria v. stress as the primary cause of ulcers), I’ll change my mind. ‘Til then, as far as i’m concerned, the conversation about whether is over and the grown-ups among us are moving on to the question of what can/should be done about it.

    Comment by Lex — Wednesday, February 29, 2012 10:08 am @ 10:08 am | Reply

  3. If the research ever comes to a different conclusion (as it did with, say, bacteria v. stress as the primary cause of ulcers), I’ll change my mind.

    It has.

    Comment by polifrog — Wednesday, February 29, 2012 7:17 pm @ 7:17 pm | Reply

  4. No, it really hasn’t. ‘Bye, now.

    Comment by Lex — Wednesday, February 29, 2012 7:38 pm @ 7:38 pm | Reply


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