Okay, so one of the common retorts to the various nitpicking of models of Anthropogenic Global Warming is, “you can’t just tell us we’re wrong, YOU need to come up with a better model!”  This is often followed by pithy statements about how much they look forward to your decades of peer reviewed research and publication.  This fails the bullshit test.

Science does not require us to offer up a superior explanation for our observations in order for us to know that your explanation is bullshit.  All we need to do is show you that you made a mistake, and that your idea is wrong.  Similar to a murder trial, we don’t expect the defendant to find the real murderer before we are able to declare him “not guilty” – all the defendant must do is show that it was impossible for them to have been the killer.

So if someone finds out that your surface temperature record is flawed, or your computer model has unjustified fudge factors built into it, or that your basic logic of cause and effect is refuted by historical evidence, “But where’s YOUR model?” is not a useful response.  This may seem like an unfair advantage to the skeptic, but it’s critical to the advancement of knowledge and understanding.  The burden of proof lies with the affirmative, and if someone is trying to say that CO2 generated by human activity is causing any particular change to average global temperature, they’re the ones on the hook.

Of course, some clever fool might try to rephrase the affirmative, stating, “your hypothesis is that all warming is natural, so you prove it!”, but this is a misunderstanding about what the null hypothesis should be in this case, and whether or not the affirmative hypothesis of “natural warming” or the affirmative hypothesis of “human caused warming” intersect with each other in any useful way.  For example, even if we couldn’t prove that all warming is natural, the world isn’t simply split into “natural” and “human” – it could be due to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and not having definitive proof that it is simply natural does not mean that any far fetched hypothesis (be it humans or spaghetti) is true.

Science is supposed to be about filling in the gaps, and it may seem like proving someone else’s model is wrong without providing a better model for them to follow only increases ignorance, but this simply isn’t so.  Knowing what is NOT true is knowledge, and understanding the bounds of our ignorance by that measure does help us move forward.  What increases ignorance is the insistence that a model, known to be false in any number of ways, should still be considered true in the absence of a better idea.  It is an abrogation of the need to go any further, since a ready explanation is there for the taking.

So for all you happy-dappy AGW folks, give me your falsifiable hypothesis, and then you’re doing real science.  Insist that you win by default because I have no detailed alternative, and you’re just another creationist arguing over gaps in the fossil record.

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