One of the fundamental public misunderstandings about science, I think, is the difference between textbooks full of answers known and scientists poking blindly out at the fuzzy edge. That’s why the latest dietary study (“But I thought they said coffee was good for me!”) always causes such public puzzlement.
That’s the premise I was trying to get at in the climate science story in this morning’s paper, taking the outliers seriously while at the same time trying to place them in a broader context:
Contrary to the common perception of textbooks filled with fixed knowledge, real science is a tangled process fraught with uncertainties, and such debates are common in any field.
“Science,” said Texas A&M climate scientist Andrew Dessler, “is this turbulent interface between what we know and what we don’t know.”
But if all science is turbulent, then climate science, because of its political dimensions, is all the more so.