I'm skeptical about most things, and it serves me well in the world of finance. I look at company filings, press releases and analysts with a critical eye, and especially at stocks that have gained more enthusiasm than substance.
Being skeptical is a exceptionally smart thing as long as you don't go "over the edge". It's not easy to be skeptical when you listen to NPR, and the speakers are claiming a consensus of scientists and the IPCC claims there is over a 90% confidence level that humans are more or less destroying the atmosphere.
Some skeptics would make a better argument if they just didn't write or say anything, but allow me to take a step back to when this issue actually caught my attention.
Like many people I have talked to, the global warming issue wasn't something I gave a lot of thought to until I watched the video "An Inconvenient Truth", but unlike many people, I saw through the obvious emotional exploitation of using Al Gore's son and sister. But hey, it's not science class, and I know people make decisions based on emotion and justify them with logic, not the other way around, so I let that go.
What did bother me were claims that 10 of the last 14 years were the hottest in history. Actually he said something closer to "...hottest in recorded history," and it was at that point I knew everything stated became suspect.
During January, the same area I plow snow off my driveway was a tropical swamp in times past. Because the area I live in was once much warmer than now, we have two problems in the video.
The first is obvious, that starting and or ending points are cherry picked to make the global warming case, and if not, the sample size is too small. We see the same in finance, especially brochures for mutual funds touting their five-year performances and claims of stability.
Often the dates used to advertise impressive results/stability are not the starting dates, but rather dates that give the impression the fund has a much stronger history than if they use the fund's starting date. Using ice-core samples, we can go back a long time, so why only use a relatively short recent time frame? Remember this image? It's received a lot of press.