caveats: be suspicious when you see this approach

Chet asks: Knee-jerk science? and illustrates several behaviors that should raise skepticism.

First up is the ‘both sides do it’ moral equivalency presumption. “If you want to find believers and deniers, you will discover them almost exclusively on the political left and right, respectively. For most people engaged in the debate, data is irrelevant.” This is interesting in that much of the debate is about the data and its processing. Watts, for instance, is well known for his surface stations project. Mann’s hockey stick is all about proxies and data representation being statistically manipulated.

Second is the appeal to authority: “An extremely broad international scientific consensus exists.” The problem here is the comment that “global climate is horrendously difficult to model, with many variables and feedbacks — and not all scientists agree on the answers“. If you can’t agree, how can you have consensus? Perhaps it is in that area of “variables and feedbacks” that the debate exists?

Third is the selective taint of funding. “And, to be fair, we should provide particular scrutiny to research funded, for example, by tobacco, pharmaceutical and energy companies with vested interests in outcomes; scientists, after all, are human.” The problem with climate research is that nearly all the funding is via government grants rather than “companies with vested interests”. The major vested interest defined in the climate alarmism effort is ideological and political. Those who feed that animal are the ones that get funded for their livelihood.

Finally, there is the use of the term deniers to label those skeptical of climate alarmism. That is a loaded term and harkens to the straw man idea that those opposed to climate alarmism deny such things as climate change or the effect of carbon dioxide in heat exchange. Using such a term hides the fact that the issues at hand are matters of appropriate skepticism. The use of ‘deniers’ is an attempt to minimize and dismiss those who question the orthodoxy. That such extreme measures are being used to defend ideas tends to illustrate just how weak they are.

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