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48 science minds misuse the term “scientist” – namecalling is not science

A group of people calling themselves “leading scientists” think that what the climate really needs is some A-grade namecalling. Specifically, they want the word skeptic for themselves, and want everyone who is unconvinced by their argument to be called a “denier”. I guess they’ve finally realized how uncool it sounds to be an unskeptical scientist. Their reasoning is that they have 48 sciencey type celebrities and they can quote Carl Sagan.  Their scientific greats include guys like Bill Nye the Science Guy, James Randi, and Dick Smith.

The headline reads:

End misuse of ‘sceptic’, urge 48 science minds

Me, I think —  let’s aim higher, and end the misuse of of the term “scientist”. Real scientists debate the evidence and don’t use namecalling as scientific argument. Denier” is not a scientific term, it’s a form of character assassination from lazy minds who want to avoid discussing the data.

Make no mistake, “denier” is not a descriptive term in a science debate, it’s equal to saying “you have the brain of a rock”. Being in denial of observations to the point where a person in toto becomes labeled a denier, is shorthand for saying that they are so mentally deficient that a conversation is not worth having. Why start? It’s the oldest rhetorical trick in the book — a stone-age political ploy.

Then there’s the point about scientists using accurate English and defined terms.  What, specifically, is a climate denier — someone who denies we have a climate? Is that homo sapiens denialist,  or is it just someone who denies your political ideology? Could it be an all-purpose, sloppy misuse of English for advertising and promotion purposes? Looks like.

Real scientists would never talk of a consensus of opinions as if it were scientific evidence about the climate, nor would they use an ad hominem argument. Resorting to kindergarten namecalling shows that these “minds” are afraid, quaking, that the public might listen to skeptical scientists and judge their arguments for their content.

In a scientific debate, a “denier” must deny an observation. Yet the namecallers cannot name any observations that skeptical scientists deny. (I’ve been asking for nearly five years). Nor can they provide observational evidence to back up their “extraordinary claims”.

As they point out:

“Real skepticism is summed up by a quote popularised by Carl Sagan, ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

So who is making the extraordinary claim: Skeptical scientists say “climate models are exaggerating”. Unskeptical scientists say that building windmills in Hokum Downs will prevent floods in Taiwan. Where is the evidence?

Skeptical scientists ask for evidence. Unskeptical scientists call people “deniers”.

It’s a form of psychological projection. The unskeptical scientists are the ones who deny results from 28 million radiosondes and 35 years of satellite measurements. Unskeptical scientist deny that 98% of climate models did not predict the global pause in surface temperatures. But if you like namecalling, you can study it at the University of Queensland, and learn to be a certified tosser.

For the record (and for the 27th time). Where are the observations that show:

  1. Climate models assumptions on water vapor feedback are correct and apply to increases in CO2? Water vapor feedback is the most powerful feedback in climate models (See figure 9.44 of AR4) Fully 28 million weather balloons show the assumptions don’t fit the observations. The IPCC says : ” The cause of this bias remains elusive.” Sure.
  2. That there is one climate model that can predict the climate . Computer simulations of the climate not only fail on global scales1, but they can’t predict regional2, local3, short term, continental, or polar effects4 either. They are also wrong about humidity5, rainfall6a,6b,6c, drought7 and clouds8, as well as the all-important upper tropospheric patterns too.9, 10 Sure they can point to a model that predicts something correctly, but that model fails on lots of other points — show us a single model that understands The Climate.
  3. That the missing heat is conclusively found in the oceans. The best data we have is the ARGO network — where each thermometer measures nearly a quarter of a million cubic kilometers of water. No scientist would ever accept that measurement as valid to one hundredth of a degree even for a swimming pool. Kidding, right?

More mysteries for “science minds” to explain:  the world warmed just as fast in the 1870s as it did in the 1980s without all the CO2 (see the graph). Why are some people 95% certain that CO2 caused the latter, when they don’t know what caused the former? They also don’t know why the world started cooling 700 years ago, and started warming 300 years ago, long before our emissions increased.

“End misuse of ‘sceptic’, urge 48 science minds

A group of leading scientists and science journalists/commuicators – including Nobel winner Harold Kroto, Australian activist Dick Smith and ‘science guy’ Bill Nye – have called on the media abandon the use of the word ‘sceptic’ when describing views of climate science, saying in most cases the term ‘denier’ is more appropriate.”

“Not all individuals who call themselves climate change skeptics are deniers. But virtually all deniers have falsely branded themselves as skeptics.” —The Australian

In lieu of a scientific debate, the term “denier” — as applied en masse to thousands of people, is never appropriate.

Whats the opposite of skeptical?



1 Hans von Storch, Armineh Barkhordarian, Klaus Hasselmann and Eduardo Zorita (2013)  Can climate models explain the recent stagnation in global warming? Academia

2 Anagnostopoulos, G. G., D. Koutsoyiannis, A. Christofides, A. Efstratiadis, and N. Mamassis, (2010). A comparison of local and aggregated climate model outputs with observed data’, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 55: 7, 1094 — 1110 [PDF]

3 Koutsoyiannis, D., Efstratiadis, A., Mamassis, N. & Christofides, A.(2008) On the credibility of  climate predictions. Hydrol. Sci. J. 53(4), 671–684. changes [PDF]

4 Previdi, M. and Polvani, L. M. (2014), Climate system response to stratospheric ozone depletion and recovery. Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc.. doi: 10.1002/qj.2330

5 Paltridge, G., Arking, A., Pook, M., 2009. Trends in middle- and upper-level tropospheric humidity from NCEP reanalysis data. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Volume 98, Numbers 3-4, pp. 351-35). [PDF]

6a Christopher M. Taylor, Richard A. M. de Jeu, Françoise Guichard, Phil P. Harris & Wouter A. Dorigo ‘Afternoon rain more likely over drier soils’ will be published in Nature on 12 September 2012. www.nature.com DOI 10.1038/nature11377

6b Makarieva, A. M., Gorshkov, V. G., Sheil, D., Nobre, A. D., and Li, B.-L.: Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapor condensation influences atmospheric pressure and dynamics, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 1039-1056, doi:10.5194/acp-13-1039-2013, 2013. [Abstract] [Final Revised Paper PDF]

6c  R.K. Tiwari1,* and Rekapalli Rajesh2 (2014)  Imprint of long-term solar signal in groundwater recharge fluctuation rates from North West China. Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060204

7 Sheffield, Wood & Roderick (2012) Little change in global drought over the past 60 years, Letter Nature, vol 491, 437

8 Miller, M., Ghate, V., Zahn, R., (2012) The Radiation Budget of the West African Sahel 1 and its Controls: A Perspective from 2 Observations and Global Climate Models. in press Journal of Climate [abstract] [PDF]

9 Christy J.R., Herman, B., Pielke, Sr., R, 3, Klotzbach, P., McNide, R.T., Hnilo J.J., Spencer R.W., Chase, T. and Douglass, D: (2010) What Do Observational Datasets Say about Modeled Tropospheric Temperature Trends since 1979? Remote Sensing 2010, 2, 2148-2169; doi:10.3390/rs2092148 [PDF]

10 Fu, Q, Manabe, S., and Johanson, C. (2011) On the warming in the tropical upper troposphere: Models vs observations, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 38, L15704, doi:10.1029/2011GL048101, 2011 [PDF] [Discussion]

h/t Willie :- )

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