Trusting our sources

I think science supports my disbelief in man-made global warming (aka, AGW).  I won’t go into the details now, but that’s the conclusion I’ve reached after reading a lot of the literature (including Brian Sussman’s Climategate: A Veteran Meteorologist Exposes the Global Warming Scam).

I didn’t reach that conclusion based on science in the first instance, especially because the real science wasn’t emerging.  I reached it on the conclusion that I didn’t trust the people who were selling AGW:  Al Gore, John Edwards, the UN, Hollywood types, etc.  They predisposed me to disbelief simply because I thought it too great a coincidence that AGW just happened to demand the full enforcement of their specific political agenda.

I discover myself doing this often:  taking my distrust of the messenger and engaging in a wholesale rejection of the message.  That cropped up in my post yesterday, with reference Eugene Joe [a correction that perfectly proves the ultimate point I’m making here] McCarthy.  Since the Left has sold McCarthy as the devil incarnate, from which they draw the conclusion that there were no Communist infiltrators in the government and the military, and since I no longer accept the left as a reliable source, I fell too readily in the trap of accepting assurances from conservative writers that McCarthy was an unsung saint, and the only one who took Communists seriously.  Now, someone I trust personally assures me that that McCarthy was in fact a devil, willfully destroying innocent people, but that there were indeed Communist infiltrators.  The truth lay between the two political extremes, with each side selling a lie.

Tainted information from biased sources is nothing new.  It’s an age old problem.  Every law student, in advocacy class, is taught to make a polite little speech to jurors about bias, acknowledging its existence and asking people to rise above it as they consider the facts.

Taking tainted information from trusted sources is also nothing new.  It’s a convenient short hand.  The more you trust the source, the less burden there is on you to investigate the facts yourself.  This works for the lazy, but it also works for the overwhelmed, or for the person who wants a handy piece of information but can’t reasonably be expected to investigate the entire body of known work.  Under any of those circumstances, the best that one can do is ask “Who is trustworthy?” and then, having answered that questions to ones own satisfaction, accept that trustworthy person’s version of the facts.

All of which is to say that I always, always appreciate it when you, my readers, correct factual errors in my posts.  Some are there because I was just plain wrong, some because I was careless, and some because I trusted the wrong authority.  None are ever there because I intend to mislead you.  So keep those corrections coming.  They matter, both for my own personal integrity and for my blog’s.