Monday, March 10, 2008

Climate Change Deniers and Creationists

Many years ago, the philosopher Jerry Aronson convinced me that it was a mistake to even enter into debate with Creationists. To do so, he argued, was to grant them something that should not be granted in the first place: that they were bound by the communal rules of science … not just rules about the role of evidence but more importantly, rules about the structure of inference. Does the same hold true of those who deny climate change? For some of the most rabid perhaps. But I have come to think that for many the situation is different. For them the issue is whether anthropogenic climate change is certain enough to merit action. What is missing in this way of putting it though is the cost of being wrong. There may be disagreement there as well but it is not discussed nearly enough.

1 comment:

Wade said...

As a person who is more "uninformed" than eithe rpro or con-AGW, my question is, what defines a denialist?

In the Holocaust context, it is someone who ignores an event in spite of primary sournce confirmation (someone was there).

In this argument, the events predicted have yet to occur, so deny something that may never happen isn't really denail at all, merely skepticism.

Further, when some "skeptics" invint statistical methods to justify their political bend, they're neither denying (as shown previously) nor being skeptical, but merely being deliberatly ignorant.

But, "skeptics" are not exclusive to the anti-AGW movement. "Alarmists", as we'll call them, have numerous articles about finding warming islands(1) in Greenland or stating that the Northwest Passage is open for the first time in history(2) though in direct rebuttal to recorded history. There also exist those who say there is no eskimo word for robin(3), or other claims which are obviously in direct contrast to the truth.

In conclusion, if being a denialist is based solely on one's steadfast disagreement with OBSERVED FACTS, then BOTH sides of the AGW debate contain denialists, and and should be acknowledged as such.

1. Hofer, E., 1957. Arctic Riviera, K├╝mmerly & Frey Berne Geographical Publishers, Berne, Switzerland, Distributed in the U.S. by Rand McNally & Co., Chicago, pp. 125.