Why Philosophy Matters for Science : A Worked Example

"Fox News host Chris Wallace pushed Republican presidential candidate to expand on his criticism of Pope Francis for talking about climate change.... “if he’s not a scientist, and, in fact, he does have a degree in chemistry, neither are you …So, I guess the question would be, if he shouldn’t talk about it, should you?” "

It's not often I agree with Fox "News" about anything, but I've been saying this for a while. The "I'm not a scientist" defence is fine provided you don't then express an opinion about scientific matters. You don't somehow magically become more qualified to have a scientific opinion by not being qualified. That's not how it works.

"To that Santorum essentially said that politicians have to talk about things they’re not experts in all the time so anything is fair game. ...  And Santorum pushed back that fighting action on climate change is about defending American jobs."

Yes, politicians have to talk about things they're not experts in. But you wouldn't formulate a financial strategy without consulting the bankers. Rick, you're either saying that a) you're more qualified than the experts but non-experts shouldn't talk about science, which is self-contradictory, or b) you understand the scientific consensus but just don't care about it. Which is like saying that if a team of engineers have told you a dam is about to burst and flood a town, you don't need to evacuate that town.

At this point, Rick, I see no way to avoid labelling you as an idiot.

"At one point, Wallace notes that “somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent of scientists” who have studied the issue agree. But Santorum is having none of it, calling it a “speculative science” and saying that he doesn’t believe anyone who is so sure of their facts. “Any time you hear a scientist say the science is settled, that’s political science, not real science, because no scientists in their right mind would say ever the science is settled.”

Yes Rick, I agree you shouldn't believe anyone who says an issue is settled. But perhaps you should believe everyone if they say an issue is settled. If a single engineer says the damn will burst, then perhaps you've got a problem or maybe you've just hired an incompetent engineer. If, however, 45 out of a team of 50 engineers say the dam will burst, treating that opinion as mere speculation is a recipe for disaster.

See also : http://astrorhysy.blogspot.cz/2014/09/quack-quack.html
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