Ignorance of the science

Both Aidan Harrison and Tony Claydon in last week’s Gazette displayed total ignorance of the scientific method, confused the difference between current popularity and proven fact and abused those who don’t happen to agree with their views.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, scientific journals introduced peer reviews.

These were designed so that someone independent could repeat the same experiments and verify that they obtained the same results.

This contributed to the great advances in experimental sciences over the past 300 years; it is why chemistry, physics, agriculture and medicine made such strides forward to the benefit of us all.

However, we still rely on the peer review procedure for observational, non-experimental science; but here they achieve little more than ensuring that published articles accord with current views.

The scientific method is to observe what has happened, design theories and hypotheses to explain what has happened, use these theories and hypotheses to make predictions about the future, observe again and review and refine the theories.

Good theories make predictions which turn out to be correct, bad theories don’t.

Good theories from observations have included much of the astronomy which enabled men to land on and return from the Moon.

Bad theories have included past climate change hypotheses, which predicted that the Arctic ice cap would have melted by now, that Venice would be flooded, that the Antarctic ice cap would have started to shrink; they were wrong.

The climate has changed, it has been getting warmer for the last 400 years or so, this is not in doubt, but the scientists have not yet explained the full story.

This full story would explain why we have periods of global warming every 1,000 years followed by periods of cooling, why the Vikings called it Greenland, how the ancient Romans grew olives and grapes next to Hadrian’s Wall, why it hasn’t got warmer this century.

These scientists need to continue observing, making hypotheses, predicting the future until they get it right and can prove to us that they have.

Once that happens then Aidan Harrison and Tony Claydon would be justified in abusing those who don’t agree with the facts.

It has not happened yet, so their comments were unhelpful to any sensible debate.

Ian Campbell,

Byers Close, Belford