Morici confuses science and opinion [Letter]

Commentator Peter Morici may consider himself a scientist, but he seems not to understand either what science and its practice entails nor what its limits and appropriate uses are ("Why I can't be both a scientist and a liberal," July 1).

Science is a way of addressing questions about the world around us and has its origin in natural philosophy. It allows us to learn and hypothesize about what might be true by using what we know to be true to construct proofs based on empirical observation.

Mr. Morici's problem lies in the jump between observation and opinion. While attempting to give his opinions the authority of scientific truth, he is undermining the very principles that make scientific arguments so strong.

He offers no evidence for his opinions, nor does his writing even hint at a scientific thought process behind those opinions. Without that, his argument falls back on undermining the scientific integrity of his opponents, which again highlights his utter misunderstanding of what science is.

This is made abundantly clear when he says that "scientists arguing that carbon dioxide emissions contribute to the shift are not quacks, but their prescriptions, and those of the president, have a naïve quality bordering on willful and malicious ignorance."

An opinion is an opinion, a fact a fact, and he seems to have trouble understanding the difference. He could be right on all counts, but in science the postulate comes first and the burden of proof confers the authority of truth on it.

That combination is the heart of science, and the author would be well served to keep that in mind when employing "science" as a tool for argument.

Science doesn't deal in political positions or opinions. Issues like this arise when people with economics training claim to be scientists, but without adhering to scientific principles or evidently even understanding them.

Charles Klassen

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