Dr. Michael Mann quotes Bertrand Russell. Exposes a fatal flaw?

Dr. Michael Mann quotes Bertrand Russell to argue against what he labels the climate “skeptic”…..basically he is name calling again. I guess using his definition I would be a skeptic, and stupid.

Having lost the argument from science, name calling is about the only thing left to further his views. He does not realize that the science has now bypassed his prior work. But to quote Bertrand Russell in order to criticize what he calls “skeptics” as being stupid is to make a fatal philosophical error, one that I believe deals a serious death blow to everything he has ever claimed. I elaborate on this further down below this screen shot documentationupdated mann russell.

Bertrand Russell, quoted by Mann, was brilliant. (Unfortunately his brilliance failed him when it came to Christianity, but my response to Russell’s Why I am Not a Christian is for another time and place.)

Even so, I couldn’t imagine a philosophy student today worth his/her salt not having read, or at least having heard of Russell’s The Problems of Philosophy published in 1912.

In Chapter 6 of that work Russell deals forthrightly with the problem of induction. Today it is also known as the uniformity of nature. Let’s begin with an illustration from Russell himself to frame the issue. To quote from chapter 6:

“Let us take an illustration a matter about which none of us, in fact, feel the slightest doubt. We are all convinced that the sun will rise to-morrow. Why? Is this belief a mere blind outcome of past experiences, or can it be justified as a reasonable belief? It is not easy to find a test by which to ascertain what sort of general beliefs would suffice, if true, to justify the judgement that the sun will rise to-morrow, and the many other similar judgements upon which our actions are based.”

In simpler terms, on what basis can we assume that the future will be like the past. If we say we know the future will be like the past because past futures have always been like their past we are begging the question, which in effect is giving a non-answer. In the case of the sun, we could say that because the laws of motion will remain in operation until tomorrow. But that is unsatisfactory as well. On what basis can we proceed with the expectation that the laws of motion will remain in operation until tomorrow? Appealing to probability yields the same result. We are back where we started. The inductive principle, Russell concludes, cannot be proved by any appeal to experience.

More could be said about the various nuances of the problem of induction. But let’s move to on to Russell’s conclusion on the matter:

“The general principles of science, such as the belief in the reign of law, and the belief that every event must have a cause, are as completely dependent upon the inductive principle as are the beliefs of daily life. All such general principles are believed because mankind have found innumerable instances of their truth and no instances of their falsehood. But this affords no evidence for their truth in the future, unless the inductive principle is assumed.”

So, we have reached bottom. The principle of induction must be assumed. There is no rational basis, in Russell’s view, for assuming the uniformity of nature. Of course, philosophers should be very familiar with the induction problem which was first argued by David Hume.

In effect, the underlying foundation of all of Dr. Mann’s work (and my work, and every other scientist) is based on an assumption of uniformity, explicitly or implicitly.

So, for there to be catastrophic global warming, we must assume uniformity of nature right out of the box. But within the naturalistic, materialism governing science today, there is no basis for this assumption. Indeed, within such a naturalistic worldview, we progress swiftly into the future in a random, undirected, purposeless manner. Yet arguments for a global temperature hockey stick depend on induction, or that nature is uniform, an obvious contradiction.

Further, tree rings have been studied and used to reconstruct past temperatures and make temperature projections into the future. I do not fault any one for doing such studies for I think they can be useful, though not for decision making.

Very simply, what I am asking Dr. Mann is:  On what basis can it be assumed that the future will be like the past, or that the past is a reliable record of its future? In science as well as philosophy, an assumption must be justified, otherwise it is simply arbitrary and there is no rational reason to believe it versus another view. For an assumption to be justified, there must be some rational basis for it.

So, Dr. Mann, I would like to know: 

What is the rational basis for assuming induction in your work?  

On what basis do you assume that your mind is reliable and that your thoughts can be trusted, if the natural world is mindless, purposeless, unguided, and has no uniformity (as assumed by materialism).

Induction must be assumed at each step in your analysis of tree rings, that the tree rings you have examined represent the actual tree rings of the tree when it was alive, and that the ring characteristics have some relationship to air temperature which did not change over time? On what rational basis do you proceed with the expectation of uniformity of nature required as an underlying assumption in this analysis?

On what basis do you proceed with the expectation that the atmospheric processes you claim will generate catastrophic global warming, but have not accurately described or justified, will still be active in the future? Or were active in the past in the same way as today? Or will even be active tomorrow?

On what rational basis do you proceed to do science, when the conduct of science itself must assume induction as a precondition?

If the underlying assumption of induction must be made in the analysis leading to the claim that future global temperatures will increase in the shape of a hockey stick, what is the rational basis of this assumption? Indeed, if there is no rational basis for it, why should anyone take the hockey stick claim (or any of your work) seriously?

I have an answer for justifying the uniformity of nature, one that you will probably not like. But my answer is based on evidence, is rational, and reflects a worldview that enables us to make sense of the world around us, a worldview which I contend has no rival.

But, after you, Dr. Mann. What are your answers to the above questions? Then I’ll be glad to share mine and discuss further.

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