As you may have noticed from the announcement that appeared for the past week or so on my sidebar, the Soho Forum held a debate Monday night on the issue of Global Warming. The official resolution for the debate was Resolved: There is little or no rigorous evidence that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are causing dangerous global warming and threatening life on the planet. The debaters were Craig Idso for the affirmative, and Jeffrey Bennett for the negative.
For those who haven’t heard of it, the Soho Forum sponsors debates, roughly monthly, on current policy issues. The venue is usually the Subculture Theater, at 45 Bleecker Street in Manhattan. The Forum’s Director is long-time Barron’s senior editor Gene Epstein, and the Chief Operating Officer is my daughter Jane. Other recent Soho Forum debate topics have included things like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the causes of the 2008-09 financial crisis.
Holding a debate on the issue of global warming or “climate change” — and particularly one focused on the scientific question of whether empirical evidence supports or refutes the hypothesis of potential dangerous warming — is often difficult. Contrary to what you might think, the problem is not that it is hard to find scientifically-literate advocates for the skeptic position. Actually, there are plenty of those. Rather, the problem generally is that adherents to the alarmist cause refuse to debate anyone who disagrees with their position, often denigrating their adversaries as “climate deniers.” So Gene Epstein deserves credit for locating Mr. Bennett, and Mr. Bennett also deserves credit for being willing to put his position to the test.
On the other hand, the whole endeavor gave some real perspective on the practical limits of the human mind, or at least the large majority of even very intelligent human minds, to grapple with the basics of scientific reasoning and the scientific method. At its most fundamental, the scientific method is just an exercise in rigorous logic. . . .Read More