Thursday, February 11, 2010

Climate Change Deniers Used to Just be Stupid

Oh boy . . .

Yes, you heard him. Climate change deniers are, in his words, "unpatriotic."

There are a lot of people out there that think the Moon landing was a hoax. I'm sure you can find someone that genuinely thinks that the world is the center of the universe. Global warming/climate change is just one in a plethora of phenomena that science has described in its brief history. Why would anyone deny it?


Most people have never seen the evidence. None of us has seen it all: it's taken climatologists, oceanographers, geologists, botanists, meteorologists, etc, working in concert to fully understand it. Most importantly, why not deny it? Has anyone--including Al Gore--given up the instruments that make this "inconvenient truth," so terribly inconvenient?

Scientists aren't prophets. It is incumbent on science to describe the facts in such a way that those who haven't the background to understand a least-squares regression or a p-value, can somehow connect the dots. To be fair, many attempts at this have been thwarted by commercial and religious interests, spending billions on obfuscation campaigns.

Buying into a cigarette company's claim that their product doesn't cause cancer is arguably stupid, but it does not follow that lighting up, against the advice of the Surgeon General, makes you a bad American. Bill Nye undermines the premise of Maddow's entire argument by concluding that a failure to yield to science is unpatriotic. This is as ludicrous as the claim that a week of heavy snow disproves decades of evidence on climate change.

Nye brought a political hack's weapons to a scientist's fight.
In science, we win arguments with facts, not hyperbole. Shrouding science in mystery and demonizing its critics--however foolish their arguments--makes it indistinguishable from religion.