As per my other note, we can restate this in plain english:
Jere Krischel

1) tell me what would change your mind;

Greenhouse gas theory made several predictions that were shown to be true. So either I’d have to be shown that they weren’t true after all, or that there is another hypothesis/explanation that accounts for all the observations.

You could also show that something must be true, something that follows directly from the AGW hypothesis, but has been proven to be false.

2) tell me why those if the things that would change your mind aren’t there, the only explanation left is yours.

Sorry, I don’t understand the reformulated point either.

While not a direct analogy to AGW, you can apply this kind of strict scrutiny to imagine that we might have the CO2/temperature causality direction wrong (certainly based on proxy ice measures that show CO2 lagging temperature change). I think you would agree that if in fact, the causality is reversed, our CO2 emissions or lack of CO2 emissions would have no appreciable impact on CO2 levels.

To suppose that one causes the other exclusively relies on a logical fallacy of false dichotomy.

I don’t know what you meant by “third party”, but the temporal lag that you mentioned in the paleoclimate record can be explained by noting that the initial temperature increase itself happened very slowly (Milankovich cycles are all on schedules of tens of thousands of years), and that what caused the environment to increase CO2 in response to the temperature change (e.g. melting permafrost, decreased solubility of CO2 in the oceans) could have also occurred very slowly. This also explains why there is almost no time lag today.

(You might also suppose that some unknown cause made both CO2 and temperature increase, but rejecting the findings of scientists in favor of “unknown forces did it” doesn’t seem very scientific.)

So have you subjected yourself to strict scrutiny?

Yes. I’ve directly engaged with several AGW deniers in debate, carefully checked my chains of reasoning many times, preferred scientific rather than liberal sources when Google gave me a choice, and read quite a few blog posts by Curry, Watts, Spencer and others (albeit I read mainstream scientific positions much more often).

I’m a little obsessed, not merely with convincing myself I’m right, but actually being right. I mean, I don’t just write a post and forget about it. I write a post and scrutinize it, agonize over it, edit it obsessively. For instance, after writing this, I paced around awhile and then reopened this tab and added this sentence. Even after multiple rounds of editing, after I’ve posted it, I frequently find flaws in my own writing, and eagerly go back to correct them or insert an “edit: yadda yadda”. I remember being bothered after I told the dental hygienist something from memory — and realized later than I had mis-remembered, and did not have the opportunity to go back and correct myself.

So the amount of times I’m wrong is disturbing to me — but my extraordinary level of pondering and self-criticism gives me confidence that my failure rate is lower than most people. Which reminds me of one of my favorite little talks:

It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right.
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