Concensus versus Truth–Global Warming, Babe Ruth, and Rickey Henderson

The other day, a friend sent me an article from the KNS  about recent temperatures in East Tennessee, presumably trying to convince me that global warming is real and that the temperatures and phenomena in this area for the past 20 years prove it.  All of this stemmed from a conversation we had a few days before about global warming, whether or not humans are causing it, and who (individuals or governments) should do something about it.  Disclaimer:  I feel it necessary to state at this point that this is not a post on global warming.

The guy who sent this article is one of the smatest people I know–easily in the top five amongst my friends, although that may not mean much :), when it comes to raw intellectual power.  He is well educated in the sciences, with an engineering degree from a university who’s program is respected nationally.  I think it is safe to assume that the scientific method is still taught and practiced there and was part of his training.

My surprise isn’t that he believes in global warming.  I am more intrigued that he is willing to argue the causes, which he believes to be humans, based on scientific concensus while completely dismissing facts proven by the scientific method.  He doesn’t dismiss all of the facts mind you, just the ones that don’t support his opinion.

Okay…no more global warming.  Let’s shift gears and talk about baseball and how these topics are related.

I have another very intelligent friend–also someone I would rate in the top 5 smartest people I know.  My beef with him isn’t about global warming at all.  It’s about baseball.  More specifically, it is an argument that has now spanned several years over the greatest baseball player ever.  Based on documented facts, my friend believes that Babe Ruth is the best baseball player ever.  Based on other documented facts, I believe that Rickey Henderson is the greatest baseball player ever.

Many of you may have read the last paragraph and already think, “This guy is crazy!!!  Everyone knows that Babe Ruth is the greatest player of all time.  Almost all the baseball experts say so.  Almost every book you read will tell you that.”  Well, this is true.  Most baseball experts do believe that Ruth is the greatest of all time.  And why not?  There are plenty of stats to back them up.  However, this is a concensus opinion, not a fact.  The concensus opinion is based in fact, but it is still an opinion.  No one can unequivically say that Babe Ruth is the greatest player ever.  At this point, it is impossible to prove undeniably.

On both sides of the argument, we are left to compile a list of facts, decide on which take priority, and form an opinion based on these facts.

My biggest issue with many global warming enthusiasts is that they base their opinions on very few facts to begin with.  When my buddy tells me that Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player ever, he always provides facts to back up his assertion. I in turn argue that Ricky Henderson is the greatest player ever and provide facts to back up my opinion.  We can argue over the importance of these facts, but not over whether or not the facts are true.

Try giving some of your global warming buddies some facts that are in opposition to what they believe.  Chances are, they will be quickly dismissed.  After all, they weren’t printed in the Knoxville News Sentinel, right?

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