Friday, 11 March, 2005

Aliens Cause Global Warming

About two years ago, author Michael Crichton gave a talk at CalTech titled Aliens Cause Global Warming.  Obviously, he wasn't claiming that nefarious ETs are using their advanced technology to heat up the earth.  As he says in the first paragraph:

...I will argue that a belief in extraterrestrials has paved the way, in a progression of steps, to a belief in global warming.

And, oh boy, does he make a pursuasive argument.

He begins with the Drake equation, a bit of pseudo-science that supposedly can be used to determine the number of intelligent, communicating civilizations there are in our galaxy.  The problem with the equation is that there's nothing there.  All of the variables are unknown.  You can plug in any old numbers you like to come up with an answer, and your answer will be just as valid as anybody else's.  But it's an "equation," so it must be science, right?  It gives SETI an un-earned footing as a legitimate science, when really it's based only on faith.  There is not one shred of evidence that intelligent life exists outside of the Earth.  Granted, there's no evidence that life does not exist, either, but either way you look at it, it's a matter of faith.

From the Drake equation, Crichton moves on to Nuclear Winter--another bit of pseudo-science that has no real basis in fact--and then on to global warming.  His point:  the data that supports the theory of global warming is not reliable.  Global warming is based on a computer model that hasn't been shown to be at all accurate, so what we really have is a possible scenario that's backed up by nothing but faith and the "consensus of scientists."

Crichton has a lot to say about science by consensus, and it's well worth reading.  It's one thing to have the media report some of this pseudo science as the real deal.  It's something else entirely to base national policy on theories that have absolutely no basis in real data.  Read the lecture and give it some thought.