The puzzle of dogma

By Phil Plait | September 22, 2012 7:00 am

reddit user jerfoo created a lovely and simple photo series demonstrating the difference between experimental science – testing data and finding things out based on evidence – and dogmatic faith – belief in something rigidly and without wavering.

Read the whole thing; it’s wonderfully done. It’s been making the rounds on the net, and I like the way it’s set up and the message it delivers. Not everyone is so unwavering in their dogma, but enough people are (especially those who run this country) that this should be required reading by the time every US citizen reaches elementary school.


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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Religion, Science, Skepticism
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Comments (72)

  1. gopher65

    That’s a great photo essay/story. It’s true to life in my experience.

  2. vexorian

    I’ve seen this picture before and IRC the author was anonymous.

  3. Dwib

    Yup, that IS really cute. Using little figurines and a simple message gives it broad appeal.

  4. Willy

    Wow, that is the same analogy I have used with anti-evolution types for a few years now except I say “imagine a puzzle that has a picture of a dog and you have the eyes and muzzle and feet and ears”. You can hardly claim that you don’t know what the picture is about because you are missing a few pieces….

  5. Tim Gaede

    The bunny that is putting the puzzle together clearly has no idea what he’s doing.

    He assembled 23 pieces together and implies there’s only one left but the box clearly indicates that there are 25 pieces.

  6. Niv

    I’ve seen this one before. What bugged me was “there’s some trees…” — “there IS some trees”?? Of course, that’s a very minor thing in the whole image, but proper grammar would be nice =D

  7. Trebuchet
  8. Renee Marie Jones

    This is great. I know so many people like this. Unfortunately none of them will understand. Some of them will undoubtedly insist that the picture is a duck.

  9. @Niv Omg! Someone didn’t use perfect grammer on the intertubes! How dare they!

  10. Chris

    Wish they didn’t make it so sexist by making the girl bunny the dumb one.

  11. frankenstein_monster

    It actually should go on beyond the last picture.
    The next picture would be the puzzle completely assembled, and one bunny saying : “See, it was NOT a duck” and the other saying : “I clearly see a duck. We are looking at the same evidence, we just interpret it differently according to our world-view. And I am interpreting this picture as a duck”

  12. Volpone

    Niv, it’s a regional dialect thing. I grew up in Connecticut and appending “‘s” to words is just something we do even when the verb should be plural. I moved away from home 24 years ago to get my BA in English, yet I still have not been able to shake the “‘s” thing.

  13. IIRC, this made the rounds some months back and led to a discussion about whether it was sexist to have the girl bunny be the dumb one.

    The discussion was what you would expect: occasionally somewhat heated, “arbitrary-assignment-of-gender-roles-isn’t-sexist”; “then-why-are-bunnies-stereotypically-gendered-at-all?”; etc.

    And then (IIRC) someone found some online comments by the author that indicated that he was indeed a sexist jackass.

  14. So, are the colors of the speech bubbles about gender or political affiliation?

    Well, somebody had to ask.

  15. How sexist to assume the rabbit wearing the skirt is female and the one wearing the pants is male!

    Perhaps they’re Celtic bunnies.

    And why is pink presumed to be female and blue male? How stereotypical!

  16. “Whoooosh!” That’s the sound of the point flying over everyone’s heads as they argue about stupid crap.

  17. Wzrd1

    Well, the current trend in the discussion proves one thing with certainty. Never say anything, for then one cannot be taken to task for things one did not intend to be considered part of one’s message.

  18. oldebabe

    Not exactly star-stuff, but good stuff none-the-less.

  19. lee

    I agree that it’s sexist to assume the one wearing the dress is a woman. Clearly it’s a male bunny wearing a dress.

    Also, you’re bothered by “there’s some trees” but not “pieces laying here”?

  20. carbonUnit

    The “you don’t have every piece” attitude sure resonates.

  21. Mike

    To Chris (#10)

    And if the boy bunny was the dumb one it would STILL be sexist. Just the other way around.

    You see this, don’t you?

  22. Utakata

    Just to note, the stereotypes depicted in this was heavily debated over at Pharyngular a year or so ago. Which lead to much frustrations, flaming, head desking and 2k post thread. Yeah this was absurdly overkill and even PZ decried it was over the top. However, and in fairness to the complaints, it was later found out the troupes where intended by the author. Which was poor judgement on the author’s part that derailed an otherwise what should of been a stella message.

    …now I really should source that, but I am too lazy go over PZ’s 7 million entries on his two sites and the Reddit posts where the author admissions. So feel free to look up it yourselves though. Good luck!

  23. Never ever trust a duck…

    http://img.waffleimages.com/46426a9472e71b6e7e725228248fe9a7ce995092/db88-donald-duck-ride.jpg

    Which scores high on the OMFD scale.

    Specially with that horrific igNoble Prize winning incident in mind…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfWiqdlmsm4

    Which scores ok on WTD what were you thinking.

    But let´s be honest.
    There are ofcourse a few good ducks.

    Like this one:

    http://blog.chinatraveldepot.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/pekingduck1.jpg

  24. Hey! Arguing over minutia is what the internet was designed for, right?!

  25. Sir Craig

    Ricky Gervais was right: There is absolutely nothing you can say that will not get at least one person’s knickers in a bunch.

    That said, great graphic depiction of an all-too-familiar debating pattern that goes on around here, but I also LOVE frankenstein_monster‘s suggestion of the interpretation angle. Absolutely spot on.

  26. Frost Bite

    Look deeper. It is a Cygnet. The bill has been altered to conform to western ideology.

  27. dmbeaster

    Its not really accurate to say that this is about the difference between dogmatic faith and experimental science. It is more about the difference between people with an open mind, and someone whose mind is so closed to evidence that no amount of it will overcome their belief. That applies to doubters of climate change, for example, but is not a commentary about faith. Faith typically applies to beliefs about things that are not subject to empirical examination. It is true that people of faith can be closed minded because they believe faith requires them to believe certain things without regard to empirical analysis. The conflict of the Church and Galileo fits more into that mold.

  28. 8thSamurai

    dmbeaster, it IS about dogmatic faith. You’re just splitting hares. (Hares, get it?)

  29. Hevach

    @27: That’s the same thing. Literally.

    Dogma is a belief handed down by an authority which is incontrovertible because the authority said it is. It is not an inherently religious thing, it is seen extensively in political parties, nationalism, racism, military doctrines, business organizations, law (especially Constitutional law), fan communities, etc. Religion might have the “loop of truth” (A is true because B, B is true because A) reduced to an art form, but it doesn’t have a monopoly on it.

    Experimental science is a formalized process of changing what you believe based on evidence. And while changing your vote because a candidate was persuasive may not exactly feel like science, at the most basic level they’re kind of the same thing.

  30. noen

    Clearly the girl bunny is upset because she wanted a puzzle with a picture of a duck and she didn’t want one with Whinne the Pooh on it. Her boyfriend is just being a dick because he doesn’t want to go back to the store to get the one she wanted. So.. clearly *she* is right and he is wrong because he failed to get the puzzle she asked for.

  31. Messier Tidy Upper

    @22. Utakata :

    Just to note, the stereotypes depicted in this was heavily debated over at Pharyngular a year or so ago. Which lead to much frustrations, flaming, head desking and 2k post thread. Yeah this was absurdly overkill and even PZ decried it was over the top. However, and in fairness to the complaints, it was later found out the troupes where intended by the author. Which was poor judgement on the author’s part that derailed an otherwise what should of been a stella message. …now I really should source that, but I am too lazy go over PZ’s 7 million entries on his two sites and the Reddit posts where the author admissions. So feel free to look up it yourselves though. Good luck!

    Yep, vaguely recalled that and a quick search found it. See :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/11/24/sometimes-a-bunny-is-just-a-bunny/

    &

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/11/24/yes-the-religion-and-science-conflict-only-cuter/

    Plus another reference here :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/physioprof/2011/11/26/skeptical-hypocrisy/

    Via Comradde PhysioProffe’s blog also on the FTB blogplex thingummy.

    Guess the author could’ve made it two male or two female bunnies but that still would’ve been implicitly sexist by excluding a gender so, can’t really win.

    ‘Spose one could also assume that the bunnies are non-heteronormative with the pink bunny being in drag and the blue bunnie being a lesbian if you really want I guess! ;-)

    Maybe two gender indeterminate bunnies that leave it up to the viewer to ascertain genders or not?

    Its really not the point of the excercise here of course although sexism is a serious problem pretty much everywhere.

  32. Glenn

    The AGW alarmists will doubtless continue to see their ‘duck’ even as the paradigm collapses around them from the weight of actual evidence.

  33. Spot on! We need more (lots more!) stuff like this!

  34. 1. It’s awesome how people can twist something that is clearly about dogma vs science into some silly gender politics thing.

    2. ” this should be required reading by the time every US citizen reaches elementary school.” – unfortunately not that many can ready by the time they start grammar scholar.

  35. mikel

    @ Glenn: Yes, keep telling yourself that.

  36. @34. VinceRN

    “1. It’s awesome how people can twist something that is clearly about dogma vs science into some silly gender politics thing. ”

    Phew, luckily I didn´t twisted a duck in my post.

    So here is a little catterday fun:

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/283158_10151254806995362_744192267_n.jpg

  37. copernicus34

    i use to think the subject of astronomy would be something to use to get away from the normal every day rat race and political machinations we are succumbed to. Now apparently one cannot be removed from those things because now even astronomers feel the need to chime in. its everywhere, yes they are a few actual blogs, websites and the like that pretty much concentrate on science and such matters, but they are far and few nowadays. too many of these scientists have become more like what we see in the acting community nowadays; that is a penchant for patting one self on the back and mistaking themselves for someone we would actually listen to when talking about matters unrelated to actual science—specifically to the particular subject they specialize in. there is nothing that could really make me consider an astronomers take on this political subject, or that political subject over anybody else—in other words, there is no reason for me to think their opinions or dogma are any better suited for the political arena than…say….the kindergarten teacher that lives next door to me. stick to the science. you really make a fool of yourself and make a mockery of the expert position you are in as an astronomer. most commenters on this blog i’m sure wouldn’t agree but its scientists such as the writer of this blog that are at fault with the ‘politicization’ of some of the more recent scientific inquiries (AGW). love the science (when it is science on this blog, love the pics, love all the things Mr Plait teaches us about the cosmos, but there is something wrong when i come hear to learn, and all i get is an in-your-face lecture on how bad it is to be a skeptic (with regards to AGW) from…well…..a skeptic (he calls himself a skeptic). if you’re going to delve into these subjects, from a scientific angle, include some interesting science along with your soliloquy on how horrible it is to doubt such things. without the scientific reasoning being explained, it would appear that Mr Plait just suffers from….well….dogma on occasion as well.

  38. #37 Copernicus34:
    Is there actually a point to your near-incoherent rant???
    Is this post isn’t about science, then what exactly do you think it’s about???!!! It’s about how science works – the consideration of evidence, as opposed to the blind acceptance of dogma.
    Only one person here is making a fool of himself – and it isn’t Dr. Plait! ( You could at least do him the courtesy of addressing him by his correct title. )

  39. noen

    “most commenters on this blog i’m sure wouldn’t agree but its scientists such as the writer of this blog that are at fault with the ‘politicization’ of some of the more recent scientific inquiries (AGW).”

    This is completely bassackwards. It was the oil companies, specifically Exxon but others too, who choose to politicize global warming. Why? Because efforts to deal with the reality of global warming threatens their bottom line. Global warming was always going to be political due to it’s very nature. But projection is a very typical reaction among authoritarians and elevated to a fine art by Karl Rove where you accuse your opponents of the very thing you are doing.

    “all i get is an in-your-face lecture on how bad it is to be a skeptic (with regards to AGW)”

    Alternate version: –> There is something wrong when i come hear[sic] to learn, and all i get is an in-your-face lecture on how bad it is to be a skeptic of the round Earth theory.

    Being a contrarian, just doubting things because you can, is not a virtue and is not skepticism. The fact that you doubt the reality of global warming doesn’t make you a skeptic, it simply shows the level of your ignorance.

    “. without the scientific reasoning being explained, it would appear that Mr Plait just suffers from….well….dogma on occasion as well.”

    If you are genuinely interested in having the science of how CO2 behaves in the environment and why too much is a bad thing just ask. I am very confident that Messier Tidy Upper among other commentators would be more than happy to explain things to you.

    But you have to do your part too. Wanting to learn implies a certain amount of humility on the student’s part. If you don’t know something you have to admit to yourself you don’t know and be willing to listen to those who do know. But… there is an obvious problem. If I don’t know and there are conflicting accounts from people who claim to know who do I listen to? How can I reassure myself that what others tell me is knowledge really is knowledge? If I am going to choose to take someone’s word, what I simply *must* do if I don’t know the truth, how can I decide beforehand?

    It has not always been this way but at this time in history conservatives have decided that the way you can know that what someone is telling you is true knowledge is by that person’s authority. For conservatives today authority is what makes something true.

    Science doesn’t work that way. Science does not respect authority as a determinate of truth. Global warming isn’t true because 97% of scientists think it is. It is true because it is an objective fact that the Earth is warming due to the human use of fossil fuels, injecting CO2 into the air and warming the planet. It is an objective fact that will remain true no matter if the whole world denies it.

    Reality will not be denied and it will roll over you if you do.

  40. @37. copernicus34 :

    all i get is an in-your-face lecture on how bad it is to be a skeptic (with regards to AGW) from…well…..a skeptic (he calls himself a skeptic).

    You didn’t read the BA’s post linked to my name here :

    “I’m skeptical of denialism” posted June 9th, 2009 2:00 PM

    (& available on the sidebar under the blog roll listings as well.)

    did you?

    Please go read it, he explains that very well.

    The Bad Astronomer is a skeptic and while I, personally (a former Climate Contrarian myself, FWIW), prefer to use the terminology “Climate Contrarian” instead I can certainly see why the BA chooses to use that word.

    BTW. What evidence would make you change your mind on Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating (HIRGO) as I prefer to call Anthropogenic Global Warming which is what I presume you refer to there?

    Don’t necessarily reply here please, we’re off-topic enough into a very stagnant mire already – save it for a relevant thread when that issue comes up amongst all the other various topics – but, please do think about that.

  41. Nigel Depledge

    Niv (6) said:

    What bugged me was “there’s some trees…” — “there IS some trees”?? Of course, that’s a very minor thing in the whole image, but proper grammar would be nice =D

    Heh! Yes, you’re right.

    Still, I don’t think it’s worth fighting that battle against popular idiom.

  42. Nigel Depledge

    Lee (19) said:

    Also, you’re bothered by “there’s some trees” but not “pieces laying here”?

    Aarg! I did not spot this error!

    I certainly see no evidence that the pieces are competent bricklayers, so I have to assume it’s just more wrong.
    ;-)

  43. Nigel Depledge

    Mike (21) said:

    And if the boy bunny was the dumb one it would STILL be sexist. Just the other way around.

    You see this, don’t you?

    And isn’t it bigoted to assume that religious adherence to doctrine is dumb?
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Oh, wait, maybe not so much.

  44. Nigel Depledge

    Kuhnigget (24) said:

    Arguing over minutia is what the internet was designed for, right?!

    The correct plural form is minutiae. And you should have italicised the Latin word.

    Now how can I ever accept anything you ever post again??

  45. Nigel Depledge

    Copernicus34 (37) said:

    i use to think the subject of astronomy would be something to use to get away from the normal every day rat race and political machinations we are succumbed to. Now apparently one cannot be removed from those things because now even astronomers feel the need to chime in.

    Erm, wait.

    When did Phil’s blog cease to be about scepticism in general and start being exclusively about astronomy?

    Or were you unaware that Phil is a former president of JREF?

  46. Nigel Depledge
  47. Gary

    Reminds me of dogmatic faith in climate models.

  48. Robin

    Copernicus34 (#37) said:

    “too many of these scientists have become more like what we see in the acting community nowadays; that is a penchant for patting one self on the back and mistaking themselves for someone we would actually listen to when talking about matters unrelated to actual science—specifically to the particular subject they specialize in. there is nothing that could really make me consider an astronomers take on this political subject, or that political subject over anybody else—in other words, there is no reason for me to think their opinions or dogma are any better suited for the political arena than…say….the kindergarten teacher that lives next door to me.”

    Why would a scientist’s or an actor’s or anybody’s comments on politics or political matters be less valuable than that of anyone else’s? To devalue someone’s statements solely because of who they are, what they studied, or what their line of work is without evaluating their statements themselves is to abandon critical thought. It’s the ideas that do or don’t have merit. Who we are and what we do do not place limits on what we can say. What it does do is limit discourse and the number of ideas to which we are exposed.

    Einstein, Feynman, Szilard, Oppenheimer, and many other great scientists have provided insightful and very public commentary on politics and societal issues. Many of those statements and ideas went beyond just discussion among friends and colleagues. They informed and influenced society and politics. Actors’ statements have also had impact on society beyond the work they’ve done on the silver screen, on the stage or on TV. I seem to remember one particular actor parlaying his statements, ideas, and opinions to terms as a governor and as a president.

    When we start limiting speech because of what someone does or who they are, we start limiting the pool of ideas available to the human race and thusly make finding solutions to problems a little bit more difficult. With respect to the US, your ideas about who should speak about what run counter to our very freedom and the foundation upon which our freedom is built.

    Keep up the good work, Phil, and thanks for sharing your opinions with us.

  49. I see Niv (of comment 6) looking at a jigsaw puzzle titled “The English Language”, with a box that says “there’s some trees” is grammatically incorrect.

    The pieces don’t agree.

    Niv trusts the box.

    Irony.

  50. evilrizwiz

    I’ve been reading this site for a while (only about 2 years) and I think it’s the first or second time I’ve posted anything. #34 just feels a bit off in comparison to most of the rest of the community that regulars the comments section, and I’m not sure if it’s trolling (for attention or otherwise) or it’s a lack of information (in regards to skepticism or he general outline of this site.)

    Dr Plait would be considered something of a superstar in the science community, as he knows A Lot of people in it, he’s very knowledgeable, he has a lot of experience, (and for a scientist, no offence) he has a lot of charisma. And, when considering all the content of this blog, it isn’t about astronomy only. It also contains a lot of science about Earth itself, his own personal and business related outings, postings about The Amazing Meeting, antivax and it’s problems, and his own personal convictions. What I’m most appalled by is the fact that you would be skeptical of his personal convictions and take the science posts without question.
    Skepticism would lead someone to read something, find interest in it, do further research to find if it’s valid, and take it with a grain of salt; if you believe everything that you read from a scientist, without doing proper followup, we’d all be no different from the antivaxers. “mistaking themselves for someone we would actually listen to when talking about matters unrelated to actual science” is one of the most misleading sentences I read in that entire paragraph of yours; if people didn’t vale his opinions and thought he was not suited for insight, why would they (as in you) listen to his science? If all someone wanted was science, you could subscribe to a magazine or read periodicals. The reason for a blog would be to further know the person whom is teaching us so we can ascertain their character and intentions.

    “and all i get is an in-your-face lecture on how bad it is to be a skeptic (with regards to AGW) from…well…..a skeptic” is the last comment I will delve in to (sorry about the long rant. and yes, I am aware this is a rrant, and I apologize for it.) As I will state again, a skeptic is someone that takes everything that they hear, either from a reliable source or not, and scrutinizes it. They then do further research and inquiries in order to further deepen what they know on the subject. Lastly, they always search for facts, and not truths. So the real question should be “Have you done your own homework on the subject, or are you chastising Phil for not giving you your own homework?”

  51. TheBlackCat

    @ Gary: “Reminds me of dogmatic faith in climate models.”

    Which is the side of the debate that is refusing to take any action until we know absolutely everything about the subject?

  52. TheBlackCat

    i use to think the subject of astronomy would be something to use to get away from the normal every day rat race and political machinations we are succumbed to. Now apparently one cannot be removed from those things because now even astronomers feel the need to chime in

    Wow, astronomers are actually people with opinions on subjects outside of astronomy? Who would have thunk it?

    Speaking of this blog’s subject, I just checked and there are now 1001 pages of blog posts here. No celebration, Phil?

  53. Gary

    @54. BlackCat
    Strawman question. It’s not about sides, it’s about simulations failing to match observations yet being touted as proof of an hypothesis. And faith that an untested action will solve a perceived problem.

  54. Robin

    @ Gary (#56):

    Please state which simulations failed to match observations. Be specific.

  55. amphiox

    And also quantitatively define what is meant by “match”

  56. TheBlackCat

    @ Gary: “Strawman question”

    No, it isn’t.

    First, they are not touted as proof of anything. The fact that you are still talking about proof just shows how the comic applies to you. Science isn’t about proof and never has been, only dogmatists demand science show proof of anything.

    Second, the whole point of the comic is that dogmatists refuse to change their mind until we know absolutely everything about a question with zero doubts of any kind, which is never possible in science in the first place. When you say “faith that an untested action will solve a perceived problem” you demonstrate that mentality perfectly.

    Third, there is no smoking gun in science, no single thing that proves or disproves an idea. Science doesn’t just look at one puzzle piece, it looks at how all the puzzle pieces fit together. The fact that you are trying to poke out individual puzzle pieces rather than looking at how all the pieces fit together is again exactly what the comic was talking about.

    So thank you for so perfectly demonstrating the problem the comic was trying to highlight.

  57. I had a nice button (´t was the 70´s and buttons were all the fab) that said:

    “My Car ma ran over my Dog ma.”

    BTW My mum never got it.

  58. Gary

    @61 BlackCat.
    Of course the models are being touted as proof. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the wailing and gnashing of teeth about climate catastrophe and calls for drastic changes to the energy infrastructure and the economy by scientists such as James Hansen and politicians such as Al Gore, just to name two of the most famous. Observations make no such claims of impending disaster.

    But thanks for the deep insights into the meaning of the comic and explaining what science is. It perfectly demonstrates the problem with faith in models… (it hampers the ability to critically evaluate actual data).

  59. waldbaer

    @SkyGazer 62
    Your mum had no google.
    SCNR

  60. mike burkhart

    Very funny cartoon. but as I always point out not all people who have faith are closeminded or antiscience after all if I was would I be on this blog ? would I have downloaded all those Astronomy programs on my comupter?. The only faithfull who have these problems are the fundamentlists. Let take a look at why: The fundamentlist bleves that every word of the Bible is ture , they do’nt look at the Bible as a religous book witch it is or that the stories in the Bible some of witch are ture historicaly were writen to illustrate a religous point.And altho inspired by God the Bible was writen by man. Your fundamentlist beleves the Bible is all I need to understand everything therefore when they hear the Big bang theory or the Theory of Evolution they ca’nt acomodate in to there faith as many Chirstans like me have done insted they think that because the Bible says the World was created in six days this is the thurth and all who beleve otherwise are delude,missgided, and a thret to them. Therefore you will never get these people to stop.As for me I am Catholic but I have had an intrest in the Science of Astronomy from a young age ,the Universe and its mysteries continue to facinate me, and always will.

  61. TheBlackCat

    @ Gary: I can’t help but notice you completely ignored all of my points, which just demonstrates even more what I was saying. Thanks.

    As for your claims, you obviously don’t have a clue about the science behind AGW. Even just looking at predictions, there is a lot more to them than just models. Analysis of past worldwide and regional warming events, analysis of how species and ecosystems are already reacting, analysis of the behavior of the physical system, and much more. Models help us paint a more detailed picture on a local level, but they are just one of many pieces of the puzzle when looking for the overall result. Even if we threw out every single model it would not change in the slightest our understanding of the results at a general, global level.

  62. TheBlackCat

    @ mike: where did Phil say, or even imply, that faith automatically makes one reject all science? Phil only talked about dogmatic faith, and said that it led people to reject specific parts of science that conflict with that dogma. But he never says everyone with faith automatically has dogmatic faith, and he never says that dogmatic faith leads someone to reject all science.

  63. Nigel Depledge

    Gary (56) said:

    Strawman question.

    Not really, given the content of the OP.

    It’s not about sides,

    Really? ‘Cos your post #49 makes it sound very much as if you object to the consensus of climate science with no stated basis, which is exactly the same as what the conservative Think Tanks and most of the GOP politicos have been doing for the last 10 years.

    it’s about simulations failing to match observations yet being touted as proof of an hypothesis.

    Who has claimed that simulations prove an hypothesis?

    I was under the impression that it was the mountains and mountains of data that have been accumulated over the last 30 years, and that match (or slightly exceed) predictions from 30 years ago, that prove the hypothesis (if not precisely correct, at least approximately so).

    And faith that an untested action will solve a perceived problem.

    WTF?

    In what universe is this even an argument?

    Who has such faith as you describe?

    What the blazes do you think all of the pilot projects in Europe and other parts of the world are setting out to achieve?

  64. Nigel Depledge

    TBC (61) said:

    Second, the whole point of the comic is that dogmatists refuse to change their mind until we know absolutely everything about a question with zero doubts of any kind, which is never possible in [reality] in the first place.

    Fixed that for you.

  65. Nigel Depledge

    Gary (63) said:

    Of course the models are being touted as proof.

    What utter poppycock!

    The models – based on observational data and the fundamentals of physics, BTW – project what is likely to be the future effects of something that we have measured happening.

    The models are not proof of AGW. The trend of increasing temperature and the human-caused increase in greenhouse gasses are the (main parts of) the evidence that demonstrates that AGW is the overwhelmingly logical conclusion.

    What the models do is tell us what is most likely to happen next. But even if no models existed at all, we’d still have the evidence that tells us that GW is happening and that human activities are the principle cause.

    Otherwise we wouldn’t have the wailing and gnashing of teeth about climate catastrophe and calls for drastic changes to the energy infrastructure and the economy by scientists such as James Hansen and politicians such as Al Gore, just to name two of the most famous.

    What?

    What do you think is being claimed as evidence that AGW is real?

    And how do you think the claimed reality of AGW links to projections about the future?

    What do you think that global temperature data are actually telling us?

    And what do you think of the basic premise that GHGs cause retention of heat that would otherwise be lost to space, and thus that more GHGs = more heat retention?

    Observations make no such claims of impending disaster.

    True, but what of it?

    Observations tell us that AGW is real.

    Modelling is not like some lonely guy in an attic with a train set, you know. Modelling of Earth’s climate is the mathematical application of the laws of physics and the data that we have so far to project what is likely to happen in future. All of the models – even the most conservative ones – project significant warming (> 2 °C in average global temperature) by 2100.

    This by itself does not predict impending disaster, until one applies it to the basic physics of how our seas and ice caps behave. Then you get predictions of significant rises in sea level – enough to inundate cities such as London at every high tide. When you apply the same temperature projections to global wweather patterns, you then end up with predictions of dramatic changes in rainfall, and you end up with predictions of increased frequency of extreme events such as droughts, hurricanes and floods.

    With no reason to doubt the validity of such predictions, it is only sensible to alert people to the potential hazards.

    But thanks for the deep insights into the meaning of the comic and explaining what science is. It perfectly demonstrates the problem with faith in models… (it hampers the ability to critically evaluate actual data).

    You are aware, aren’t you, that predictions that Hansen made in 1981 have been largely borne out by data acquired since then? And if you don’t trust the existing models, what is the alternative? Since all of the models agree in broad terms, what basis do you have for predicting anything other than rising temperatures, rising sea level and redistributed rainfall?

  66. Steve Metzler

    #Gary

    I suppose the fact that we have lost 75% of the Arctic ice volume since just 1979 isn’t a cause for concern then? Geez, wake up and smell the roses. Every piece of evidence we have tells us the Earth is warming at an unprecedented rate and that mankind is the primary cause of the warming.

    You are exactly the type of person that cartoon is aiming to depict and you don’t even realise it. How sadly ironic.

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