There are two kinds of expert: those whose experience is very focussed and those who are expert in ‘the big picture’, the overview. Climate science has both. Spanning many disciplines, it needs both. However, it has two other kinds of expert: the professional scientist and the expert layman.
According to Wikipedia, “professional” traditionally means “a person who has obtained a degree in a professional field. The term professional is used more generally to denote a white-collar working person, or a person who performs commercially in a field typically reserved for hobbyists or amateurs. In western nations, such as the United States, the term commonly describes highly educated, mostly salaried workers, who enjoy considerable work autonomy, economic security, a comfortable salary, and are commonly engaged in creative and intellectually challenging work. Less technically, it may also refer to a person having impressive competence in a particular activity.
“Tonight, WUWT has reposted and article about Steve McIntyre, an expert layman in climate science (but professional engineer in his own field (mining)). I’ve done little more than quote sections of the article, because the words echo my experience of collaboration with many in this category who are examining the science underpinning climate change.
Revenge of the Climate Laymen
Global warming’s most dangerous apostate speaks out about the state of climate change science. (by Anne Jolis) Link to original article
…should a moment for self-reflection arise, campaigners against climate change could do worse than take a look at the work of Stephen McIntyre,who has emerged as one of the climate change gang’s Most Dangerous Apostates. The reason for this distinction? He checked the facts.
His work… illustrates the uncertainty of a science presented as so infallible as to justify huge new taxes on rich countries along with bribes to poor ones in order to halt their fossil-fueled climbs to prosperity. Mr. McIntyre offers what many in the field do not: rigor.
…the best science should stand up even to outside scrutiny. And if Mr.McIntyre has a credibility problem with climatologists, climatologists’ predictions are increasingly viewed skeptically by the public.
Mr. McIntyre declares no interest in debunking The Theory in toto, nor in discouraging efficient energy use. His blog will disappoint those seeking anything more political than technical analyses.
I asked 10 climatologists what they thought was the most reliable method of predicting climate, and got nearly as many answers. People in the field compare climate studies to health studies—another complex mechanism with uncontrollable factors, where best practices will always be debated.
Climate researchers know their prescriptions don’t carry the certainty laymen assume from that which is labeled “science,” yet most shy from a straightforward account of this uncertainty.
I agree wholeheartedly Ms Jolis. I started this blog after a very intense period of doing my own research. I am a professional, but just not in the field of climate science. I do know ‘scientific method’ and I use it in my professional life. I am in touch with many ‘expert laymen’. Each is a professional, just not a climate scientist; their particular skills are brought to their ‘spare time’ research on climate science. Like Steve McIntyre, they inhabit ‘the skeptics camp’ and their findings are dismissed by many because they are not published in peer-reviewed journals. Their approach to climate research is ‘professional’ (although the output is often merely a summary that belies the detail checked and calculated. Yet politicians make films about global warming and celebrities appeal to us to change our ways. So it is fine for the pro-climate change lobby to have their non-experts promoting the cause but it howls in protest when anyone who is hot a climate scientist dares to challenge the science behind the so-called consensus.
Scientific training is about asking questions, then questioning the answers. Climate science seems to have forgotten that.
“I never said I was proving or disproving anything…. I just don’t think we should be thanking the people who make it harder to find out what’s true,” Mr. McIntyre says.
The climate establishment will probably never thank Mr. McIntyre, much less follow his example. The rest of us should do both.