Problem with New Information
This paper seeks to write a critical review of Jon Carroll’s essay `The Problem with New Data`. The paper will attempt to identify issues raised and position taken by the author for this researcher to form opinions by either agreeing or disagreeing with author with the relevant justifications Carroll discussed the case of Dr. James Hansen who earlier popularized the notion that carbon dioxide levels principally caused global warming but Dr.
Hansen has issued later a new report about further studies revealing that other heat-trapping chemicals such as methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and other smog-creating chemicals could be blamed more for the trend in global warming than carbon dioxide. One issue brought by the author is whether the same could be treated as good news or bad news and for him any advance in scientific understanding should be good news. He was impressed by the fact that Hansen’s capability to separate professional ego from scientific conclusions as he viewed the new report could be as way of changing one’s mind in public.
He was of course comparing the case of Hansen with what is usual when people who have taken earlier positions change such positions. Such persons changing their position may lose there credibility to the public. Carroll was talking about the fear of some for being not consistent with was asserted earlier and that it may mean that who said could no longer be believable. The worst thing that thing that could happen is that science is no longer believable even in the face of a strong evidence contrary to previous findings.
For Carroll, however, the fact that there is any new data could be good news. Such later information on methane, chlorofluorocarbons and other smog-creating chemicals to be causing of global warming from can still be controllable from the author’s point of view compared with production of carbon dioxide which is unavoidable product fossil-fuel burning and human and animal exhaling of gases. The author noted that the report of new data was feared by some and this might cause unexpected results to due to possible misinterpretation as there are “big polluters” who might twist the data.
It may be argued that what determines whether something is good news or bad news will depend on the benefit that the news taker will make use of the information. In the case of the author, he was looking from a scientific or professional point of view but for some people who may take the news of news as bad news, there is the possibility of confusion to be fed with something not consistent with what was earlier asserted. Assuming that the news is feared by some people, the necessary issue that comes out is whether these people are entitled to it.
As to whether humans have the right to be fearful about the results of new findings of global research may be caused by many things. One implication is the fact that some people are not ready to be disturbed with how they processed the earlier information about global warming. People normally resist change although change is happening everyday. Another implication is pure ignorance of the nature of science that conclusions could change in view of the new set of facts. This could be proved by what Carroll statement that it is easier to control these latter new determinants of global warming.
As to whether other people are mindful about the controllability of these factors are doubtful. Carroll supported that fear of the some when polluters might twist the data. The author’s view may be referring to politicians who may make use of the new data. It is not surprising to hear that people would listen more to politicians than to scientist. This would be confirmed the fact the politicians are the teachers of the people in general even on many matters even in the field of science.
People are only as powerful in controlling external things in the manner that they can influence the results of elections. If they associate the work of the scientist with politicians, it only reflects to the present situation of how society processed information. Can these people be blamed? Not all people will have scientific mind and they can only believe to the extent of what is most practical under the circumstances. The author’s assertion that we believe what most people believe has basis because it is the easiest thing to do. To have an educated mind like a scientist would require disciplined mind.
To have that could imply bringing back these people to the classroom for which they may no longer have time to do due to priorities for survival. People have therefore to trust their politicians for many things of their lives. Politicians are in effect the translators of researchers to people because these politicians are the means by which changes would have to be effected whether to implement the latest research finding or not. When the author argued that positions or principles are the yardstick of integrity , he must be talking on how views are actually separated by the major political parties in the US.
That is the reason why there are political parties that divide political beliefs into Republicans and Democrats. For one to be called a Democrat or a Republican, the politician will have to take position that is consistent with the stand of the political party. Politicians therefore who change views are considered to be weak minds from the interpretation of the Carroll because it could be called political turncoatism or the ability to change party’s views so easily. This would therefore mean that scientist or researchers who may be talking to people are considered politicians.
Carroll was concerned that people who have believed about the position that carbon dioxide was the principal cause of global warming would have the tendency to question Hansen and may consider that latter as no longer siding with them. The author explains the effects of such wrong interpretation as a way of mixing science with politics where politicians who may disseminate information are mistaken as if they know the truth. As argued earlier, a great number of people consider politicians as their teachers in many things including science for reasons explained earlier.
From the author’s perspective there is border line with what is scientific and political statement but for the ordinary people the difference may be blurred. There could be therefore no mixing of the two from the point of view of the ordinary people. Thus, they would want a politician who could be consistent with positions which the ordinary equates with integrity. It was however explained by Carroll that Hansen never changed his opinion or position that global warming still threatens the ecological health of the earth only that his view is nuanced and evolving.
Yet he noted that people appears to believe things reflexively on things that may not actually be the real case. Carroll has described the tendency of people to believe as a matter of political opinion on what many or more people would like to believe to be the norm. Such should be expected then in a democratic society since one could get things done via politicians by having the greater number. The author concluded that that what determines what is factual is not by the number of people who would believe or want it to be.
It is rather by the strength of evidence presented that should settle things in the mind of thinking humans. There is basis to agree with author that what is factual is not was what is done in democracy where what more people would believe would be normally carried over as matter of policy in government via politicians. What is factual is scientific and must speak to the human mind who would objectively appreciate the evidence. However, not everybody again would think like the author which the same author readily admits.
It can be concluded that groups of people in society such as in the United States are considered to live in a political community more than a scientific community. Not all findings of researchers or scientist will be understood easily by common people. The findings will have to be translated by the politicians to people so that people may assimilate them in the language and terms that they can understand. Works Cited: Carroll, J. , The Problem with New Data. Fest, J. C. , Hitler, Harcourt Brace Publishing, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002 Katz, R. S. and Crotty, W. J. , Handbook of Party Politics, SAGE, 2006Sample Essay of Eduzaurus.com