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Most people believe in the theory, but science is certainly not a democratic thing - even if an idea is supported by the majority it might be completely wrong. Or right.

That is not the relevant metric however. The relevant metric IMHO is the percentage of people knowledgeable enough to actualy form their own opinion, and having decent knowledge of the relevant literature. Science is not a democratic endeavor exactly because of this. Only those that actually participate in it actually have a gnosiological vote.

On the other hand the majority of a research community is infrequently wrong - it might not be "right enough" (i.e. their theories might not be sufficient after a significant extension of a field's empirical base), but wrong? Whenever that happened (i.e. with Wegener, say) you know about it. But for every Tectonic Plate theory, there are a thousand N-Rays, Lysenkoisms and more interestingly and productively Steady State Cosmologies.

So let me ask back: do you "believe" in General Relativity? In Carbon dating? In the Indoeuropeans? In CFCs damaging the Ozone layer?

If one wants to go beyond belief however in this case, and nearer to the empirical data, one has only to check early (and much less sophisticated) climate forecast models against actual data. The results [1, 2, 3 (fig. 1.1. pg 6)] are certainly not unimpressive and make "disbelief" AFAICT a harder option.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 06:42:05 PM EST

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