Even though I was wrong I’m still right…
I’ve just been listening to BBC Radio 4’s More Or Less. It was the episode announcing that the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s scientific adviser Dr David Whitehouse had won a £100 bet made on the programme four years ago with climatologist Dr James Annan. Annan predicted temperatures would rise in that period; Whitehouse predicted they wouldn’t. Annan lost.
But you’d never guess it from his high-handed tone when he was asked why he’d lost. “Just bad luck,” Annan explained, going on to insist (contradicting most available real-world data, it must be said) that the trend for global warming remained “robustly positive.” He then agreed to another four-year bet. If it went against him a second time would he change his mind, Annan was asked. At first he appeared to agree that it would but then he started backtracking, insisting that it wouldn’t change in the slightest his view that carbon dioxide causes global warming.
This “Even though I was wrong I’m still right” syndrome afflicts a lot of people in the climate alarmist community. But then, you can hardly blame them for their wilful self-delusion and glib complacency for they seem to operate in a bubble in which there are no punishments for failure.
The classic example is Paul Ehrlich who lost a famous bet on “scarce resources” with the late economist Julian Simon (aka the “Doomslayer” because he was so good at confounding environmentalists’ hysterical scaremongering using actual scientific data as opposed to computer projections).
The interesting part, as I recall in Watermelons, is what happened next:
While Ehrlich continued to be feted as an environmental seer (in 1990, the year he lost the bet, he won a MacArthur Foundation “genius award”), Simon was invariably dismissed during his lifetime as a right-wing crank.
As a profile in Wired put it: “There seemed to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days “experts” spoke awful falsehoods, and they were believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seemed to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.”
Digging that puzzling magic glow, Dr Annan?
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