An activist tells you, “Based on my theory of rampant, out-of-control global warming, otters, driven mad by the heat, will take to the streets and destroy mankind, just like apes do in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”
Think on it. Crazed insane berserk sharp-toothed otters with murder on their minds! I don’t know about you (and don’t want to), but that’s scary.
Therefore—and this is the point—because his theory has forecasted an appalling bloody ripped-to-shreds otter apocalypse, and there is nothing worse than an appalling bloody ripped-to-shreds otter apocalypse, except perhaps for an appalling bloody ripped-to-shreds zombie apocalypse, the activist’s theory must be true. And if it isn’t 100% certain, then it is mostly certain. It is mostly or completely certain because it predicts the most horrible thing imaginable.
And thus something must be done to protect the children!
What’s that? You doubt? What are you, some kind of denier!? You must be in the secret pay of Mutual of Omaha! (Think about it.)
Now, that situation is asinine—I mean, believing somebody’s theory only because it predicts a gruesome fate. But it is no more asinine than believing in apocalyptic out-of-control rampant killer global warming because some tenured, well-granted professor has said his theory predicts a different kind of doom.
The things our grant-and-publicity-seeking scientist says will happen are, when summed, far worse than any mere otter apocalypse. Why, there are to be shark attacks, spider attacks, wasp attacks, prostitute attacks, pollen attacks, bacterial attacks, grasshopper attacks, even people attacks and on and on and on and on some more.
Surely all these plague predictions must logically imply that the theory which drives them, man-made rampant out-of-control global warming, must be true?
And not only no, but if you are a leader you have to have bat guano behind your ears to claim it.
A theory’s predictions are not evidence in favor of the theory.
What is evidence in favor of a theory? Simple: verifying that the theory’s predictions have come true. This isn’t perfect, because a theory might get lucky, but that it has made successful forecasts is a high mark in its favor. That is says awful things will occur is absolutely completely wholly irrelevant to its veracity.
Yet many, and especially activists, do say that man-made rampant out-of-control global warming’s fell forecasts are a reason “to believe” in it. The seriousness of the charges is not—it is never—evidence. Instead, the accuracy of prognostications are what counts.
Next time a street activist stops you with the question, “Do you have a minute to save the earth?” remind her of this fact. Tell her that global climate models have not made skillful forecasts, that they consistently say it will be hotter than it turns out to be, and that this is evidence that the theory which drives these models is false.
As in not true.
What’s that you say? That the theory might not be true, like I say, but that because of the seriousness of the charges we should still do something just in case?
No, sir. We should not.
Don’t scoff about the possibility of an otter apocalypse. It is contingent, and therefore there is no logical reason why it couldn’t happen. Because it could happen, and because the outcome if it does is incalculably disastrous, we should therefore protect against it, right?
Because a Venusian invasion could happen, and that if it did the world would be destroyed, we should protect against it, right? Because a black hole might meander our way, and that if it did the world would be destroyed, we should protect against it, right? Because nanobots could turn nasty, and that if they did the world would be destroyed, we should protect against them, right?
You could go on endlessly listing potential Judgment Days, but in none of them are the scenarios of destruction evidence in favor of their occurrence.
Prudent precaution in the face of a theory which has a reasonable chance to be true is, of course, sane. But acting for the sake of acting because you like the act of acting rather than because there is good evidence the theory which drives you is true, is not sane. Or, in the case of politicians and bureaucrats, not honest.
If you truly enjoy believing in rampant, out-of-control global warming, first wait for scientists to create skillful predictions before acting.