Home » Climate change, Culture, Global Warming, Science » “Overwhelming Scientific Evidence” yet again

“Overwhelming Scientific Evidence” yet again

Whenever I hear the phrase “overwhelming evidence” or “overwhelming scientific evidence,” my antennae go up and I know that someone is trying to sell me something. Last night, if you were watching the networks, you heard the following remark:

I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future — because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.

I’d like to encourage people to post in the comments to this thread other examples where the phrase “overwhelming [scientific] evidence” is used to sell a bogus idea.

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20 Responses to “Overwhelming Scientific Evidence” yet again

  1. Speaking of which, what happened to the pro-ID website Overwhelming Evidence? It seems to have gone dark.

  2. I’m sorry, has someone published global mean surface temperature data that doesn’t show a 1 degree Celsius increase over the last century, because I must have missed it.

  3. I’m sorry, has someone published global mean surface temperature data that is conclusively shown to be caused by humans, because I must have missed it.

  4. The IDEA center was pretty clear about this in 2004

    Finding the tell-tale signs of design itself is enough to infer design. Indeed, archaeologists often find evidence of designed objects, but they don’t otherwise have any idea who designed them. But because they look designed, no one doubts they were. Similarly, if we have overwhelming evidence for intelligent design, we can accept design even if some think we don’t fully understand the identity of the designer or don’t otherwise have any independent evidence for the designer.

  5. To follow up on efren’s post, was the use of the name “Overwhelming Evidence” for the ID website intended as a parody of scientific use of the term?

    I suppose that the use of the phrase could suggest that the “Overwhelming Evidence” for ID is not scientific in nature, but that wouldn’t make sense.

  6. I recommend going to the evidence and always take surrounding hype with a pinch of salt. Evidence is what counts, not words.

    All too often the debate is a game of words rather than evaluation of evidence. Especially when the subject is life; conclusive evidence for the microscopic details may be out of reach for our instruments and experiments.

    Does that mean ID trumps natural evolution?

  7. The “overwhelming evidence” claim emerges a lot in medical science, and in many cases it only means “overwhelming consensus.” The fact is, life can be very complex and simple nostrums supported by “overwhelming evidence” are often questioned or discarded later.

    It is not clear, for example, that being only slightly overweight is bad for a person.

    I am not here referring to clinical obesity, just to people who “should lose 10-15 lbs.”

    Well, maybe they shouldn’t, if it means the failure of one diet of the month after another. The wisest advice I have come across is, get more active, eat healthy, and if you are still 10-15 lbs overweight, just accept it. The evidence that it makes any difference to health in the long run is unclear.)

    There also used to be “overwhelming evidence” that all forest fires are bad. That is, until someone realized that forest fires are part of an ecology that enables future successive stages of forest growth – each supporting a different ecology.*

    If an entire region is covered by tall trees, many life forms will not thrive.

    Obviously, if humans set additional fires, the ecology can become unbalanced. But contrary to “Run, Bambi, run!” not every naturally occurring fire is a disaster that ought to be fought.

    Ecology, like climate change, is not best managed by hysterics. Unfortunately, they often dominate the discussion.

    *Also, region matters. It takes much longer for, say, the Yukon to recover from a forest fire, owing to cold, dry conditions. But fighting fires there is difficult, and may not be the best use of resources directed to ecology. It all depends. What are the alternative uses for the resources?

  8. ellijacket, #3

    I’m sorry, has someone published global mean surface temperature data that is conclusively shown to be caused by humans, because I must have missed it.
    ————————————–
    Yes, actually they have. The following web site shows the connection about as simply as you can get.

    The Causes of Global Warming: A Graphical Approach

  9. I’m still waiting for the “overwhelming scientific evidence” that President Obama can be trusted.

  10. I’m sorry, has someone published global mean surface temperature data that doesn’t show a 1 degree Celsius increase over the last century, because I must have missed it.

    If anyone could show that slight increases in global mean surface temperature could not possibly have happened by successive slight modifications, my AGW theory would absolutely break down.

  11. camanintix:

    I checked out your link and found myself laughing as soon as I saw that the University of East Anglia was a primary source (perhaps you’ve heard of ‘climategate’?). Anyway, I’ve become, I’m sad to say, an extreme cynic regarding anything ‘mainstream’ or ‘consensus’ scientists are selling — and that’s a shame. Heck, if the planet is truly heading towards a crisis of global warming AND we humans are contributing to it in any sort of significant way, I would sincerely like to *know* that. Even a climate change kool-aid drinker has to admit, however, that there is ample reason to question what these guys/gals are telling us. How many errors, lies, and speculations presented as peer-reviewed ‘fact’ do we have to be hit in the face with before we call for a serious, honest, objective reassessment of the evidence? Perhaps the same conclusions will be reached but we can’t trust the Al Gore approach (cherry-picking the data, mixing data sources used for a *single* graph, the now mythical ‘hockey stick’ graph, etc.). In the face of recent and ongoing revelations, folks can’t really expect to just keep saying “but it’s still true!” can they? Sounds like religion rather than science. The evolutionists are so darn afraid of admitting they don’t *know* all the answers for Origin of Life and macro-evolution, for example. Mainstream folks trust scientists about as much as they deserve to be trusted — and they have *only* themselves to blame.

    Lastly, Obama’s phrasing was downright offensive. He’s basically saying that if you are too stupid or evil to accept the ‘overwhelming’ evidence, go along with vast sums of money changing hands, policy change, and loss of sovereignty on the off chance that the climate change hand wringers *might* be right. Absurd! This is leadership?

  12. Ecology, like climate change, is not best managed by hysterics. Unfortunately, they often dominate the discussion.

    Especially, since “ecology” is a Darwinian concept and the term has been coined by Ernst Haeckel (Ernst Haeckel: Generelle Morphologie der Organismen. Allgemeine Grundzüge der organischen Formen-Wissenschaft, mechanisch begründet durch die von Charles Darwin reformirte Descendenz-Theorie. Berlin, 1866; Vol. 1, page 236).

  13. 13

    O’Leary @ 7

    There also used to be “overwhelming evidence” that all forest fires are bad. That is, until someone realized that forest fires are part of an ecology that enables future successive stages of forest growth – each supporting a different ecology.

    Can you please point to any scientific sources claiming that there was “overwhelming evidence” that all forest fires are bad? This pervasive and incorrect attitude in the early part of the 20th century had more to do with protecting timber-producing forests than science. An economic judgement rather than ecological. A certain bear with a hat played a role too. The ecologists realised the importance of fire to many forest ecosystems long ago and had to work hard to persuade the foresters.

  14. Prof. FXGumby at 13: I will stand by what I grew up with, that we were taught that all forest fires are bad, period. If the information had not originated in the science community, I doubt it would have been taught so systematically in school.

    If, as you say, the idea was a forestry industry initiative, the forestry industry likely recruited scientists for their cause. That might help explain why the message did not get out earlier that forest fires are – when they occur naturally – a fact of nature, usually caused by lightning strikes on tall trees in a dry area – and not a sign of the end of all things, just the beginning of another phase of the ecology.*

    Forest fires are horrible, as anyone who has been in a burnt out zone will recognize. It is also sad to see animals sitting stranded on an island in the middle of a lake, waiting it out.

    But it is not the end of all things, nor do I think that climate change will be.

    *I repeat what I said earlier, humans starting accidental fires can upset an ecology by changing the balance.

  15. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that inoculation by vaccination effectively prevents disease. Whoops, I just broke it by saying that, didn’t I? Dammit, now everyone’s going to get polio despite having been vaccinated, and it’s all my fault. I just hyped vaccines to the point they no longer work. Sorry!

    The phrase “overwhelming evidence” is usually brought up when there is a great deal — one might say overwhelming — opposition, be it scientific or no (as with vaccines).

  16. Lenoxus, speaking for my own community, I am not aware of any overwhelming oppo to vaccines.

    Quite the opposite – we ran out of H1N1 vaccine, and at the clinic a gentleman of my acquaintance honourably admitted that he was not one of the priority group (though his pregnant wife was). And he stood aside for old ladies as well, of course.

    Later, he got H1N1 and spent a miserable couple of days.

    Here, people generally do not believe what isn’t believable.

    H1N1 is believable; Darwinism and a bunch of similar propositions are not. I do not know how to make that clearer.

  17. Denyse O’Leary:

    H1N1 is believable; Darwinism and a bunch of similar propositions are not.

    Do you intend to say “H1N1 evolved but it’s only microevolution”?

  18. O’Leary: I’m quite sorry to hear that, and sincerely hope that that man has fully recovered and that your clinic restocks sufficiently for everyone.

    I only mentioned anti-vax as an example of anti-science which I find prevalent enough to be worrisome. My community, like yours, has seen no opposition, but some places have.

    There are lots of medical blogs out there that repeatedly must assert that, for example, vaccines don’t cause autism. My original point was simply that this alone does not mean the claims are suspicious or signs of scientific conspiracy; it simply means that there is something to argue against, be that something scientific or no.

  19. osteonectin at 17, my understanding is that H1N1 is a hybrid virus due to gene transfer.

    Like anthrax and SARS, it receives far more attention than the customary causes of miserable flu illness and occasional death.

    Like I always say, just get yer shots. If it doesn’t work, at least you tried.

    Lenoxus at 18: Thanks! Like most younger people who get H1N1, this gentleman recovered handily.

    Unfortunately, media scare stories tend to focus on the unusual case of a young person’s death and miss the general picture that flu preys on already weakened immune systems -in general.

    Re enough vaccine: Part of the problem with providing enough vaccine is that Mexico permits self-medication via pharmacists, which delays lab-based testing. So far as I know, it was a Canadian lab* in Winnipeg that identified the virus.

    Mexico did not even know that it had an epidemic on its hands until the virus was hard to control.

    So the problem was, the virus was already pretty widespread and everyone wanted the anti-virus immediately.

    We did not run out due to incompetence. The manufacturers just can’t make it fast enough, so tiers must be established with respect to risk. So far, the system seems to be working here.

    At my local clinic, they give the regular shot in one arm and H1N1 in the other. In my case, the latter arm was much sorer than the former – but that disappeared within a day.

    Autism is still a big mystery, it seems to me. It could be vaccine-related in the sense that a vaccine could trigger it in some individuals – but so could a number of other factors, or a combo thereof. Who knows?

    I agree that fear of autism should not prevent parents from getting their children vaccinated against common illnesses with known outcomes. Autism, after all, is rare. Many preventable causes of childhood death for which we now have vaccines were formerly common.

    Like I always say, do the math.

    *We do not allow self-med via the pharmacy here, except for brief packets of analgesics, etc., in emergencies = just enough to get the person to the emerg. or family doctor ASAP. That is one reason why few epidemics originate in Canada (or the United States either).

  20. mtreat, #11

    I checked out your link and found myself laughing as soon as I saw that the University of East Anglia was a primary source (perhaps you’ve heard of ‘climategate’?).
    ————————————–
    You have to love how someone can claim that global temperature data from East Anglia (HADCRUT3) is suspect, totally ignoring the other three temperature records (GISTEMP, RSS and UAH) which show the same increase, and then criticize Al Gore for cherry-picking their data. It seems to me it is the deniers who are cherry-picking their data, using US temperatures to argue that global warming isn’t happening or claiming that a handful of bad recording sites are throwing off the whole data set.

    Can scientists be petty and egotistical? Of course, they are only human after all. But read any of the objective reviews of the climategate emails and you will find it is much ado about nothing.

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