• Isabela Valencia

OPINION: Why I'm Agnostic Re: CC Science

Updated: Jan 14

The following is a piece written by OxCAN member Robin Guenier. Please note that the views expressed in this piece are solely those of the author's and not of OxCAN.

Why I’m agnostic re climate change science

I'm agnostic regarding the claimed need for GHG reductions: without scientific training I'm not qualified to judge. Therefore I'm neither convinced nor unconvinced.

I agree with this perceptive Scott Adams article:


Some extracts:

Non-scientists don’t have the tools to form a useful opinion on climate science.

And I can say with complete confidence that if you are a non-scientist, and you have certainty about your opinion on climate science, you are hallucinating about the capacity of your own brain.

Another tell involves claiming non-scientists can dig into the science and figure out how credible it is on their own. If that were true we wouldn’t need highly trained scientists. We could all just wing it using our common sense and whatnot. We can’t. Non-scientists can understand a simple argument from scientists but we don’t have enough context to know what is MISSING from the scientist’s argument. Without that bit of context there can be no credibility.

As a non-scientist, I don’t know what I don’t know.

… a bright, well-informed non-scientist has no realistic chance of reaching an independent opinion on climate change that is better than a guess.

… the illusion that my non-scientist brain can use its “common sense” to evaluate the credibility of experts in the field. Your brain doesn’t have that feature. What you do have is an illusion that makes you think your brain has that feature.

… any non-scientist with a strong opinion on climate science is experiencing an illusion of certainty supported by lots of confirmation bias.

Here’s another article on much the same topic:

In Praise of Ignorance


An extract:

To paraphrase Woody Allen, the most beautiful words in the English language are not “I love you,” but “I don’t know.”

I was impressed by Amy Coney Barrett’s comments on climate change in her confirmation hearings (October 2020) re her nomination for the US Supreme Court:

‘I don’t think my views on climate change or global warming are relevant to the job I would do as a judge. Nor do I feel like I have views that are informed enough.’

‘I’m certainly not a scientist. I mean, I’ve read things about climate change. I would not say I have firm views on it.’

‘I don’t think I’m competent to opine on what causes global warming or not.’

Robin Guenier: November 2020

© 2020 by the Oxford Climate Alumni Network.