Thursday, May 27, 2010

Speaking of Uncertainty with a Mumble-Bumble-Mouth - Mike Hulme

This tornado damage to an Illinois home would ...Image via Wikipedia
Mike Hulme: We must stop saying ‘The science demands…’ by Tim Black - Spiked Debate

Mike Hulme prattles on about uncertainty.  [Ignore the bio photo of MH staring triumphantly at his rightmost piece of horizon]

Oh bleh, this Mike Hulme is not even operating at the level of the blogger Phillip Price, who is simply blogging on this topic as a layperson. Hey Hulme, we have tools for discussing uncertainty, and we can demonstrate the deniers are actually asserting much more certainty about the future, evident by their unwillingness to "take out an insurance policy" by starting to tax carbon even at a small amount. And they are asserting a much lower sensitivity than any physical theory can justify:

Phillip Price actually takes time to draw the curve of his uncertainty, a rigor the denialists avoid, no matter how Phillip Price attempts to draw it out of them:

I agree that science, morality, and policy are best kept separate. But just using the word "uncertainty" for anything besides Revelatory Holy Scripture is silly, acting as if we cannot meaningfully compare different qualities and quantities of uncertainty.

If I take out an insurance policy on my house today, and my neighbor does not, it can be argued that I am rationally dealing with uncertainty, while my neighbor is simply non-rationally wishing it away, ineffectively.  I do not necessarily buy insurance today because I am _certain_ that I will have suffer arson or tornado.

If Hulme's writings lead to less harmful confusion of science, morality, and policy, I will provisionally temporally forgive him sloppiness with the term "uncertainty".
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