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Is Climate Science A Jigsaw Puzzle Or A House of Cards?

The Economist has a smart piece this week about how to think about uncertainties in climate science (as well as the mistakes and mini-scandals that have cropped up of late). This passage, in particular, is a nice way to frame the core question:

In any complex scientific picture of the world there will be gaps, misperceptions and mistakes. Whether your impression is dominated by the whole or the holes will depend on your attitude to the project at hand. You might say that some see a jigsaw where others see a house of cards. Jigsaw types have in mind an overall picture and are open to bits being taken out, moved around or abandoned should they not fit. Those who see houses of cards think that if any piece is removed, the whole lot falls down. When it comes to climate, academic scientists are jigsaw types, dissenters from their view house-of-cards-ists.

The rest of the piece recaps the basic tenets of climatology, uncertainties and all, and makes a solid case that the jigsaw view is the way to go.