It’s always fun to draw conclusions from small sample sizes. Some may say it’s one of the keys to modern science, although maybe that’s only from my own semi-skeptical viewpoint that pretty much any study can be dismissed or at least questioned because it’s timeframe is less than all of human history and it’s scope is less than all human beings. (But that’s just me…)
It’s still fun, though. For example, it’s easy to get sucked into thinking something like: ‘Holy Crap! It was a much warmer winter this year than last year, therefore global warming must really be gearing up!’
Or even: ‘The weather is much different this year than last year, therefore climate change is totally getting out of control!’
Obviously those are exaggerations. Or at least, when written this way, it’s easy to find the holes. That doesn’t mean people don’t use statistics like this all the time to ‘prove’ their point. And stretching the length of time from one year to ten years, or one hundred years, doesn’t make the case much stronger. (Stronger, yes, but not 10 times or 100 times stronger, in the context of a billion year period. Nor does upping the quantity of subjects from 1 to 10 to 10,000. In any case, you still barely have a clue what you’re talking about.)
On the flip side, as much as examples like these are easy to dismiss, you also need to be careful not to adopt your dismissal for more than what it is. Reverse-proof doesn’t really work, either. You can’t say: ‘Your argument is wrong, therefore there is no such thing as global warming/climate change.’ Or: ‘What happened to these 10 kids isn’t real because we haven’t studied it on 10,000.’
The bottom line is that we don’t really know. That’s generally the right answer. ‘I don’t know.’ Even though it makes people upset. We can guess. That’s all. To be arrogant about your ‘proof’ or your ‘reverse-proof’ is foolish. (To be arrogant in general is foolish…)
What’s interesting, though, is to think about the things that we are testing on the whole population, for multiple generations. What are these things? Let’s list a few, just for fun: sugar, residual pesticides/herbicides (and the genetic modifications of seeds that correspond), microwave radiation, living indoors, vaccines, the automobile, chairs, cubicles. And so on.
How are those things working out?