Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Search for the Right Questions Can Be Very Difficult, Indeed

[This is in response to a post at WUWT by Willis Eschenbach on Feb 8th, entitled Slow Drift in Thermoregulated Emergent Systems.  In it Willis talks about forcings (causes) in climate and how maybe they are not the governing factors, that maybe there is an inborn regulatory thermostat in climate that is mostly independent of the inputs (causes/forcings), and maybe it is a series of multi-factorial thermostats, with many backups/redundancies.  — My paraphrasing may not do Willis’ idea justice…]

Yes, Willis. Asking the right questions is the first step toward getting the right answers. Everyone here at WUWT is, in one way or another, aware that the wrong questions have been asked by those controlling the dialog on climate. And we others haven’t quite seen those right questions, either.

In simple systems it is easy to find the right questions. The more complex the system the more difficult it is to find those questions. And when questions are asked that have (seeming) non-answers or when they keep on not affecting the answers, it is time to ask, “Are we asking the right questions?”

The existing paradigm controls/dictates the questions. If the paradigm is wrong, the right questions will never get asked.

Thinking outside the box of a current paradigm that is getting us nowhere is the only way to break out of the box and get to where the right questions can be asked. It isn’t that all of a sudden we will see that the questions asked are better. When we are barely out of the box – the current paradigm – our questions are still being affected by our “in the box thinking.” When we are looking outside the box of the current paradigm we need to TRY to get way outside the paradigm, to ask, “What if <fill in the blank> is the real case? What then?”  Of course, in the full process anything inside or outside the paradigm still has to then be falsifiable and pass.

To ask such questions as “What would a sea spray droplet do?” or “What if the system is acting like an intelligence of its own?” IS a way of breaking out.

Good questions lead to answers – but that can happen only if we can recognize when the answers are worth a damn. Continue reading