When Galileo put forward the idea that the earth is not the centre of the universe he was subject to persecution by the church. His science was ridiculed as an affront to God and rejected as inconsistent with the received wisdom from Aristotle and the Bible.
Bertrand Russell said Galileo ‘began the long fight between science and dogma’, which eventually led to mainstream thinkers and politicians, at least in the liberal democracies, accepting the authority of science to adjudicate what counts as knowledge of the world.
Very recently, however, dogma is fighting back with renewed energy, particularly against the science of global warming. Continue reading Climate change science: will Prime Minister Abbott be guided by Galileo or the Pope?
Commentators on recent articles on climate change in this journal have argued that the scientific study of climate change is useless and/or untrustworthy. Useless because all we should and do care about is the weather, and it is not possible to attribute any particular weather event, no matter how unusual, to climate change. Untrustworthy because the basis for identifying what counts as the accepted science is expert peer review and this process is corrupt or unreliable.
So far as I can recall these are recent claims. The relationship between weather and climate used to be thought straightforward, and peer reviewed publication followed by peer reviewed criticism was accepted as the basis of progress in science. But now both have become hot issues.
Happily light can be shed on these hot issues by considering the comparable relationships and processes in other less politically charged fields of human endeavour. Indeed, cricket can teach us much of what we need to know about these matters. Continue reading Climate Change, Science and Cricket