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Reader Opinion: Whom do you trust?

Climate change: Does it exist or doesn't it? How is it caused, and how does it affect life on earth? Who can we believe? How do we know who to trust? First, I trust someone who is an expert in the area under discussion. A person may have any numb...

Climate change: Does it exist or doesn't it? How is it caused, and how does it affect life on earth? Who can we believe?

How do we know who to trust? First, I trust someone who is an expert in the area under discussion. A person may have any number of college degrees, but if they don't have a career in climatology, they are not experts in climate science. Second, any individual may have a difference of opinion. That individual may be right, but the methods of science require us to put more faith in the replication (repetition) of data, and the consensus of opinion about what those data mean. Third, does the expert in question have a conflict of interest? That is, is there a financial (or other) incentive for them to take a particular side in the issue? A person who is working for the petroleum industry cannot be objective about the issue of climate change.

Now, what are the implications of these factors in the discussion of climate change? First, I tend to believe the climatology professor from SCSU over other persons whose opinions have been put forth by various letter writers. That person is an expert in the field, and furthermore, his opinions reflect those of the majority of climate scientists. Some of the people writing letters to the editor have had conflicts of interest, as described above, and I take their opinions with a grain of salt. Some are just repeating what they hear from non-objective sources. With the help of Google and Wikipedia, anyone can check the facts about climate change from objective sources.

One final disclaimer: I have a master's degree in psychology. I am not an expert in climatology, nor do I have ties to the petroleum industry.

Patricia W. Scott

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Brainerd

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