There is no dispute about the basic facts of this issue: carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas; the world’s automobiles and power plants pour nearly 6 billion tons of it into the air every year; and there are countless indications that the planet is warming. Perhaps the most revealing is the fact that average temperatures have been gradually rising, and the ten hottest years on record since the 1860s have occurred since 1973.
In his book, See, I Told You So, Rush Limbaugh misquoted a Gallup poll, claiming that 53% of scientists do not believe that global warming is taking place, 30 percent say they don’t know, and only 17 percent are “devotees of this dubious theory.” (1) Unfortunately, this is a gross misrepresentation the original poll, which actually found that 66 percent of all scientists agree that global warming has occurred, 10 percent disagree, and the rest are undecided. Rush apparently got his incorrect numbers from a second hand source (either George Will or the National Review) without bothering to confirm them. He has continued to use these false figures despite the fact that Gallup has issued a rare written correction: “Most scientists involved in research in this area do believe human-induced global warming is occurring now.” (2)
The scientific consensus that human greenhouse gases are contributing to global warming is quickly growing unanimous. Even the top critics in science have been won over. Thomas Karl — who has been described as “the darling of global warming skeptics,” and whose doubts about global warming have been quoted by conservatives the world over — has even been swayed by the evidence. One could hardly imagine a clearer warn…
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…ed into the atmosphere, ahead of the former Soviet Union, which comes in at second place with 14 percent. To be sure, this is not a proud statistic for capitalism — at least in its more unregulated form.
1. Rush Limbaugh, See, I Told You So, (New York: Simon
Evolution is Not Just a Theory
Evolution is Not Just a Theory
Evolution is a fact in that scientists know beyond reasonable doubt that it happened. The exact mechanism of evolution — that is, exactly how it happened — is still a theory.
Evolution is both a fact and a theory. Mainstream scientists consider it a fact that evolution occurred; how it occurred is still considered a theory. Stephen J. Gould describes this difference best:
“In the American vernacular, ‘theory’ often means ‘imperfect fact’ — part of a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to theory to hypothesis to guess. Thus the power of the creationist argument: evolution is ‘only’ a theory and intense debate now rages about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is worse than a fact, and scientists can’t even make up their minds about the theory, then what confidence can we have in it? Indeed, President Reagan echoed this argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said (in what I devoutly hope was campaign rhetoric): ‘Well, it is a theory. It is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science — that is, not believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was.’
“Well evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don’t go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein’s theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s in this century, but apples didn’t suspend themselves in midair, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.
“Moreover, ‘fact’ doesn’t mean ‘absolute certainty’; there ain’t no such animal in an exciting and complex world. The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are NOT about the empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us falsely for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science ‘fact’ can only mean ‘confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent’. I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.