Cascades of Global Warming: All Fall Down

By December 5, 2007Global Warming

Holman Jenkins writing in The Wall Street Journal, “The Science of Gore’s Nobel — What if everyone believes in global warmism only because everyone believes in global warmism? “

The media will be tempted to blur the fact that his [Nobel Peace] medal, which Mr. Gore will collect on Monday in Oslo, isn’t for “science.” In fact, a Nobel has never been awarded for the science of global warming. Even Svante Arrhenius, who first described the “greenhouse” effect, won his for something else in 1903. Yet now one has been awarded for promoting belief in manmade global warming as a crisis.

How this honor has befallen the former Veep could perhaps be explained by another Nobel, awarded in 2002 to Daniel Kahneman for work he and the late Amos Tversky did on “availability bias,” roughly the human propensity to judge the validity of a proposition by how easily it comes to mind.

Their insight has been fruitful and multiplied: “Availability cascade” has been coined for the way a proposition can become irresistible simply by the media repeating it; “informational cascade” for the tendency to replace our beliefs with the crowd’s beliefs; and “reputational cascade” for the rational incentive to do so.

Interesting model. Given the central role of governments in pushing the theory, propaganda seems a more relevant point of reference. But who are we to argue with a Nobel prize winner?

Leave a Reply