Apr. 21st, 2017

aphar: (lambda)
To get the trivial issues out of the way, let me state with utmost clarity that all the problems that humanity have ever solved were solved by science and technology - from staving off the Malthusian starvation with the Green revolution, to avoiding NYC being buried by horse manure. Thus I believe we should fund STEM research - DARPA, ARPA-e, NASA and national labs - at 101% of what scientists request (and 70+% of my compatriots agree with me!).

However, given the real and perceived "war on science" by the Trump administration, we need to understand what is really going on, and how to advance our progress.

The dominant explanation of the "war on science" is Knowledge Deficit: people don't know enough. This explanation is, apparently, wrong, because there is a (weak) positive correlation between science knowledge and skepticism of recommendations of climate scientists (IOW, more knowledgeable people - as determined by a quiz - are more skeptical).

Let me try to advance an alternative view of the apparent conflict.

There are two parts to what the scientists say:

We ("the literate public") certainly trust the scientists' area of expertise - the Positive statements.
However, there is no reason to trust their Normative statements any more than that of an average intelligent person.

The poster child of this attitude is the aforementioned "manure crisis": we did not need to do what the scientists recommended to solve it, it was solved by the automotive revolution.

Similarly, there is absolutely no need for wedges, treaties &c &c.

If it ever will be stopped, the climate change will be stopped by introducing new technology, so what we need is a stiff carbon tax without grandfather clauses which will make alternative energy more economically attractive (and maybe give extra money to STEM R&D).

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