October 31, 2016 | Graham

Pascal’s wager called into defence of climate change

Professor Martin Weissman Weitzman postulates “that if there is a finite possibility, however small, of an infinitely bad outcome (human extinction) then virtually any cost is worth incurring to prevent it,” according to Peter Lilley, writing in this review of the Stern Report.

But that is essentially the trick that Pascal used to justify religious observance, called “Pascal’s wager” and defined thus by Google “the argument that it is in one’s own best interest to behave as if God exists, since the possibility of eternal punishment in hell outweighs any advantage in believing otherwise.”

All of which confirms, as many have been suggesting, that global warming catastrophism is a species of religion. It can’t be confirmed by the facts, so it has to be confirmed by sophistic sleight of hand.

Except Pascal’s wager doesn’t really work. Certainly not in a world where there is a plethora of possible ways, from global warming, to nuclear war, to world-eating asteroids, to arrive at an infinitely bad outcome.

But in a world of finite resources, you can’t throw virtually everything at virtually anything that can be conjured up in someone’s fetid imagination or computer model.

There aren’t enough resources to go around.

So, you have to make intelligent guesses and discount the infinitely small probabilities of infinitely bad possible outcomes and concentrate on those things that are highly probable, and with a higher chance of being solved.

To do otherwise is to be dictated to by the neuroses of the various Chicken Lickens who populate the environmental NGOs, universities, and most western left of centre political parties, squandering resources that could be used to improve someone’s lot sacrificing to the idols of idle thought.

And in the process pathologising government and society.

The pyramids are an inspiring monument to civic mobilisation of national resources in the service of religion.

But while we may find them enriching, they must have impoverished the civilisations that were forced to build them. Diverting resources and imagination to sterile and futile monuments to protect against the gods.

These days we build windmills, but they have exactly the same propensity to impoverish at the same time they fail to ward off disaster.

In this world Bjorn Lomborg is the necessary heretic. Asking what can be tackled, at what price, and then providing a list in order of priority.

He’s not a climate change atheist, but he’s not taken in by Pascal’s wager either.

Neither should we.

Particularly as the resort to Pascal’s wager tends to the conclusion that there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

Posted by Graham at 9:00 pm | Comments (12) |