"Oops! Wrong hat..." -- Bullwinkle
It's interesting to observe the global warming debate and how easy it seems to be for various proponents on one side or the other to replace science with emotion - to the point of virtual hysteria in some cases (see my post on Al Gore).
I remember when I was doing research for my Ph.D. thesis, my faculty mentor and professor, Dr. James Gould, would exhort me "not to give up, finish the job" -- mostly because the data collection process was so time consuming and lengthy, and consequently I would occasionally get discouraged at how much work it can be to put together a first rate dissertation.
I was collecting daily solar radio output data from NOAA, and developing programs to do all kinds of mathematical calculations on same (FFT, autocorrelation, various filters such as stochastic and Kalman, etc.). In this collection and research process I became acutely aware of the effect of the Sun on earth's climate, weather, and even our economic processes - at least, that's what the data would lead one to believe. You need to go back 10,000 years on this global warming stuff to really find out what's going on. 50 years simply will not cut it. Yet, the "respected" body of the scientific community would have us believe that this is sufficient to make pronouncements that can have potentially devastating social and economic impact on you and me!
At this same time I was doing daily tree readings with a Radio Shack millivoltmeter. That's right -- the electric potential of plants is influenced by the Sun's output, as is the biochemistry of and even the collective mass behavior of humans. It was uncanny how the rate of change of tree potential would associate with the rate of change in say, the DJIA. I eventually gave this up after a year or so as I had put myself in the position of simply collecting "too much" data, and I reasoned that some of it could be flawed.
This is not uncommon -- as a developer of computerized stock trading systems at Merrill Lynch, I had the opportunity to see some systems where the statistical work and computations were quite flawed.
Along this path I became aware of the work of researchers like Theodor Landscheit. My research eventually led to a model which correctly predicted the long term decline of interest rates through the 1990's.
My point here is that it is extremely easy for "experts" to relegate themselves to focusing on the hole instead of the donut, and end up with inaccurate determinations. At this point, add in a little mass hysteria and you've got a real mess on your hands.
People - whether they be journalists, lawyers, scientists, politicians or software developers - need to be mindful of the fact that the data we have collected on our subject may either be flawed, or that the determinations we've made using this data are flawed. Consequently it is important not to "go off" based on these determinations without taking the time to examine our "facts" very carefully and in as objective a manner as possible. The process of collecting, analyzing and examining the collected data must be totally rigorous and unemotional.
By the time we actually get around to doing something meaningful about the global warming crisis, we will have already entered the beginning of the next Little Ice Age. I am serious: don't sucker for this "global warming" hype until you see real facts going back to the last Ice Age. And, as I mentioned in the other post, "That ain't hot air"!