Wednesday, April 21, 2010

No Epistemic Closure at the National Review's Corner:

Jim Manzi, responding in a way to an implicit challenge that the right doesn't take a critical look at some of its members, does a pretty good take-down of Mark Levin's book, Liberty and Tyranny, in particular, the chapter on global warming. A excerpt (from a longish post):
[Levin] gets to the key question on page 184 (eBook edition):
[D]oes carbon dioxide actually affect temperature levels?
Levin does not attempt to answer this question by making a fundamental argument that proceeds from evidence available for common inspection through a defined line of logic to a scientific view. Instead, he argues from authority by citing experts who believe that the answer to this question is pretty much no. Who are they? An associate professor of astrophysics, a geologist, and an astronaut. (...)

He goes on to cite a petition “rejecting the theory of human-caused global warming” sponsored by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and signed by more than 31,000 scientists. There are a few problems with this survey that Levin doesn’t mention. More than 20,000 of these “scientists” lack PhDs in any field. There was very little quality control: At least one person signed it as Spice Girl Geri Halliwell. (...)

On one side of the scale of Levin’s argument from authority, then, we have three scientists speaking outside their areas of central expertise, plus a dodgy petition. What’s on the other side of the scale that Levin doesn’t mention to his readers?

Among the organizations that don’t reject the notion of man-made global warming are: the U.S. National Academy of Sciences; The Royal Society; the national science academies of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand. Russia, South Africa, and Sweden; the U.S. National Research Council; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the American Chemical Society; the American Physical Society; the American Geophysical Union; and the World Meteorological Organization. That is, Levin’s argument from authority is empty.
The response to that at the Corner? Two posts supporting Levin. One by Andy McCarthy and one by Kathryn Jean Lopez. Neither of them discuss the merits of Manzi's argument. They either complain about the tone or say that Levin is a good guy.

UPDATE: Anonymous Liberal has two posts (the first since going silent in November). Both about the Epistemic Closure of the right. The first was a general overview. The second was an observation of the Manzi post and Corner reaction (similar to this blog's view)


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