2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM
Paper No. 228-4
Presentation Time: 9:05 AM-9:20 AM

Intellectual Atrophy Theory Applied to the Global Warming Pseudocontroversy: A Case Study of Scientific Stagnation

STONE, George T., Physical Science, Milwaukee Area Technical College, 700 West State Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233-1443, stoneg@matc.edu

The very essence of science is change. Indeed, the scientific method is defined by ongoing discovery and revision. Yet we humans are predisposed to embrace the security of stability. We take pride in our knowledge and are reluctant to question our concepts. Such intellectual inertia supports healthy skepticism, but if it becomes anchored in dogma that discounts evidence as heresy, it is no longer science. It is the party line, the unassailable faith of the true believer (TB). This immutable mindset is readily understood through the application of Wu's intellectual atrophy theory. Denied the life-giving oxygen of discovery in an open intellectual system, the ostensible skeptic suffers scientific stagnation. Whereas objective skeptics are amenable to enlightenment by evidence and rational analysis, TB's are not and often find themselves in unholy alliance with anti-science dissemblers, including propagandists and political partisans. Such pseudoscientists and their rigorless disinformation should not be granted legitimacy-by-association in a forum of research or on the stage of scholarship.

The history of science is replete with examples of scientific stagnation. Consider Lord Kelvin's assertion: "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now.” More recently, recall the ridicule by some of Rowland and Molina for their prediction of ozone depletion. Now we face the most critical case: anthropogenic greenhouse warming. The magnitude of our challenge is staggering. James Hansen states, “Understanding the nature and causes of climate change is essential to crafting solutions to our current crisis.” Credibility derives from integrity, and integrity is the duty of science. As geoscientists with expertise in climate change and energy resources, it is our professional duty to stand for integrity and provide leadership in the education of our students and the public at large to help prepare them for the greatest challenge of human history.

2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM
General Information for this Meeting
Presentation Handout (.ppt format, 542.0 kb)
Session No. 228
Global Warming Science: Implications for Geoscientists, Educators, and Policy Makers I
George R. Brown Convention Center: General Assembly Theater Hall B
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 40, No. 6, p. 316

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