Monday, April 23, 2007

No need to think about it anymore

There's nothing that puts me on the defensive more than hearing someone say that "the debate is over." If there is one thing I have learned in my life, it's that the debate is NEVER over. Consider that we still debate whether Napoleon was poisoned, the real causes of the Civil War, who killed JFK, and countless other things that have been researched, studied, written about and discussed for decades. Yet still there is disagreement. For those whose brows reside at a lower altitude, there's endless post and riposte over who killed Anna Nicole and what's really happening with K Fed. There are a precious few things in life that are black and white (and I think that's one of the reasons people like sports - you get an outcome every time. There's a topic for another day.) With that in mind, how can one suggest that there is no debate over something that is occuring in the present and may continue to occur in the future?

So you can imagine my chagrin when attending a conference last week, during which there was a presentation on climate change, and we were told there is no longer any debate - human-caused global warming is a fact, plain and simple, and if you don't agree with that you will be ignored. This is a common experience when you have discussions or do some reading on global warming - eventually someone will come out with the statement that there are hundreds of scientists who agree that global warming is caused by human activity, and the debate is over. Detractors should not be acknowledged.

Beyond being astonished by that attitude, I am astonished by the failure of memory and imagination that it involves. Since when has science spoken with a single voice? Since when has there been a unified "Voice of Science" press office? Since when has it become healthy to stifle debate? This mindset scares the beejeebers out of me. It's one thing for a business, or a political entity, to spin a story to meet their objectives. It's something else entirely when those who supposedly subscribe to the tenets of objective reasoning are willing to publicly state that "the debate is over."

Makes my hair stand on end.

1 comment:

your daughter said...

yeah! what he said!

and last i heard, the debate was over before columbus rounded out the earth.

that's why i reside in the humanities. scientists are dumb.