Trying to control the argument

Watts Up With That has two posts that illustrate methods being used to attempt to maintain control of the global warming debate. Ninety Eight Point Six (Thirty Seven) describes how a misleading analogy can be used to steer discussion. Pielke Senior: Misinformation on the Website “Skeptical Science – Getting Skeptical About Global Warming Skepticism” takes note of the ad hominem, win/lose approach that also attempts to take over a position by being ‘skeptical if skeptics.’

In terms of the fever analogy:

If you’ve got a fever, you’re sick. You need to do something. (I still can’t remember–is it feed a cold and starve a fever or vice-versa?) This is exactly what Al Gore said when he addressed Congress in 2008.

But Earth is not human. Anthropomorphizing it really means we can’t talk about it accurately and honestly. It doesn’t breathe, go to the bathroom or watch TV.

To say it has a fever means that you know what the right temperature is. Do we know that about this planet?

Of course, if you start to ask questions about ‘what is the right temperature?’ you get labeled as a denier or something worse. That is the means to keep the skeptical view behind the curtain and the idea of a fever front and foremost. A fever feeds the FUD Mongering and that spreading of fear, uncertainty, and doubt is the tools used to manipulate.

That is described by Pielke.

The post starts by mislabeling me as a “climate change sceptic” and a “denialist”. Not only is this completely incorrect (as can be easily confirmed by reading our article … but it sets the tone of their post as an ad hominem attack, rather than a discussion of the issue.

What the Skeptical Science fails to recognize is that with respect to the diagnosis of global warming using Joules of heat accumulation in the oceans, snapshots of heat content at different times are all that is needed. There is no time lag in heating or cooling. The Joules are either there or they are not. The assessment of a long-term linear trend is not needed.

What would be useful is for the weblog Skeptical Science authors to discuss the value of using (and issues with using) the accumulation of Joules in the climate system as the primary metric to monitor global warming.

What Pielke provides is a comparison and contrast in how to approach the argument and make it a proper debate. He does not call his ‘opponent’ derogatory names but rather refutes what was said with appropriate citation. He addresses the argument offered and not the person offering it. He attempts to clarify and educate rather than win. In doing so, he not only describes the problems with the skeptical view of the skeptics but also illustrates how a civilized and honest person approaches productive debate.

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