Good discussion people.
Yes the articles are biased I did give a little warning.
ARs point seems valid in that we mere mortals would have a very hard time making our own independent observations of very complex phenomena. His example of believing the NWS on weather records may not be the best because I'd think there are other observations to review, TV stations maybe. Still a good point but I think he answered himself when he said we'll usually believe the authority who agrees with the way our knee naturally jerks anyway. Which of course is the problem.
I think the missing part of that equation is that many or even most times the choice is between believing the authority who is an observer or believing the authority who is merely another believer.
So if you are to believe anyone, do you believe the more or less verifiable (if not infallible) data of the NWS or no less an authority than Pat Robertson
who points out it is hotter on Mars and they don't even have
SUVs? Or maybe this gem, which I suppose is arguing against the possibility of sea level rise but cuts straight to the meat of the subject I think:
"The Earth will end only when God declares it is time to be over. Man will not destroy this Earth. This Earth will not be destroyed by a flood." ~Rep. John Shimkus, US House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment
Sad to say but for many the answer is obviously that they believe the believer because he is like them and knows which powerful belief buttons to push. The unscrupulous quasi-observer authority also has access to buttons - but the lowly strict-observer only has his observations. The average schmo has been convinced by people like Pat and Rush and even Rick Santorum that the entire higher education system is an indoctrination to liberal thinking – so of course they go with the belief authority who sounds like them and knows their buttons. And it doesn't hurt that many times the Belief Authority is reinforcing not the hard way but the easy way, i.e. We have dominion, God gave us this earth and we deserve to take what we want.
That is the point of the rants I think, most of us choose to believe the believer that looks like us instead of the observers. Especially if the observers come to conclusions with which we aren't comfortable. For many people, scientists (especially government scientists) that were indoctrinated in college by left leaning professors and professionally by (I guess, union bosses) are untrustworthy and the layman is better off believing their pastors on matters of science because, again I'm guessing, the pastor is impartial and perhaps even privy to the Truth.
Of course this all applies to doomer authorities like the Archdruid or Kolapsnik or Cid or Dohboi or D. Plainview but that is another rant!
I agree with rocdoc about models. I don't trust them too far unless they are extremely simple - I say that although I have no ability or aptitude for math, the ball and bat thing was just about my maximum! Anyway, I know it is a strange thing to say that I don't believe models on a site based around the work of one guy's model but Hubbert's only had one parameter, past discoveries. It seems to have worked worked pretty good considering. Crude oil extraction has been flat for a while now so if this is the peak and the oil curve covers 300 years that's a bullseye margin of error around 2%. Not bad.
FWIW, I don't have all that much faith in models that predict climate decades away (even though AGW is the direction my knee jerks) simply because there are too many parameters. Way more than whether it is going to rain next week and that is hit/miss even now. Still, I'm a plan for the worst kinda guy and dialing it back a little seems only prudent. Even that level of "belief" is way more than the staunch Right is willing to admit.
Reminds me of my old partner, a very churchy guy, who's favorite saying was "Easier to ask forgiveness than permission."