A pox on all their houses?

The article title, Climate scientists decry ‘political assaults’, describes the response. That alone should be enough to raise a bit of skepticism. What follows in the text highlights key points. First is that of the ‘vox populi’ where a bunch of scientists sign a letter proclaiming something as if having a bunch of them get together on the issue makes them right. Second is the army of straw men typified by the use of the word “denier” and the letter’s analogies to issues such as creationism as if those who question AGW are in the same camp and of the same ilk.

Sen. James M. Inhofe is picked out for the political allegations. The Virginia DA inquiry into professor Mann could be used as an example of an assault. Then the loaded phrase “McCarthy-like tactics” is put forth.

“The debate has become polarized,” warned the editorial, and as a result “the scientific enterprise and the whole of society are in danger of losing their crucial rational relationship.”

Perhaps a look in the mirror might help reduce the polarization. There is little disagreement in between the fringes that recent years have seen temperature changes on the order of about one degree over a person’s lifetime. Those questioning the impact or significance of this measure and those questioning the quality of the measure are engaging in proper science, not denying established fact. But those engaging in appropriate scientific skepticism are being plastered with labels, accused of behavior they did not commit, and being shoved out of the public debate.

It is the scientists who signed on to the letter that are illustrating a loss in the “crucial rational relationship,” not those they complain about. That relationship requires a different response than letters with more pages of signatures than pages of rhetoric. What is required of a scientist to foment a “crucial rational relationship” is to undertake the role of teacher. Instead of complaining in letters, the need to step forward to answer questions with solid data, clear explanation of the process used to arrive at conclusions, and sound logic in explaining the steps between those conclusions and the implications they see.

When those who complain about skeptics in such a way as in this letter start to undertake their role to teach and educate rather than complain and defend, then science will be evident.

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