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Deconstructing the "warmist" responses to skeptics' issues

Polarization has happened: on the warmist "consensus" science websites, the skeptics' position is utterly dismissed and skeptics are given at best a distorted voice, at worst are censored and ridiculed without being allowed to respond. On the skeptics' blogs like Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, both "sides" are allowed to post, and courtesy is insisted upon, yet despite the best of intentions to explain, share, and discuss, the readership often seems sharply divided between

  • contributors who are willing to explore, use their intelligence, ask deep question, understand the nature of Scientific Method, and quote X whose work looks interesting, intelligent, competent, and relevant - who are known as SKEPTICS or REALISTS among themselves, and DENIERS or CONTRARIANS elsewhere; and
  • contributors who like to quote RealClimate and official "peer-reviewed" science publications, who do not grasp the extent to which the establishment have censored and vilified the skeptics, who trust the IPCC, who produce stunning-looking dismissals that need good knowledge and/or close attention to assess, who believe that there is consensus about AGW among all reasonable scientists and that skeptics are in denial or worse - the CONSENSUS scientists or WARMISTS.

Now in addition to RealClimate, several major science bodies, and a couple of individual websites, have produced "answers to skeptics' issues". To most people, this amassed evidence looks pretty clinching and irrefutable. Also there is a disreputable litany of discredits directed at a small number of known climate skeptics, collected by "brownshirt" websites like DeSmogBlog and, sadly, Wikipedia. To many, these discredits look credible. "Lawrence Solomon is a well-known oil shill - Prof Michael Mann of RealClimate says so" but actually this couldn't be further from the truth [see here].  Sadlly, most climate skeptics who are professional scientists do not speak up - through shyness, fear, protecting their family - many reasons. David Bellamy lost his work and reputation when he spoke up on the BBC. There are many others in similar positions.

I'd like to see a skeptics' FAQ:-

  • showing where official science's "answers to skeptics" are "straw men"*
  • showing where the science has been corrupted eg the key IPCC alterations by Santer
  • with FAQ's on the prevalence and provenance of slander in place of science
  • with FAQ's on the suppression of debate and other issues like the corruption of the peer review system
  • set up as a skeptics' wiki so that it can be improved and the knowledge base expanded
  • set up as a wiki so that nobody can say it is just "that lone eccentric" or "funded by exxxxx" or "in denial"

AGW websites that claim to explain climate science and "debunk the skeptics"

* BBC: Climate scepticism - the Top 10. I've reformatted this to include a third column, with my ad hoc answers. The first column is Fred Singer's Top Ten, the second column is Gavin Schmidt's refutations of Fred Singer. But there is no space in the BBC presentation to refute Schmidt. How unfair. [To Be Improved.]
* Skeptical Science: top 52 skeptics' arguments - some reasonable debate but nothing as good as WUWT.
* How to answer a Climate Change Skeptic by Gristmill's Coby Beck: much discussion but Coby is arrogant IMO.
* New Scientist: Climate Change: a guide for the perplexed. Now Chapter 9 of Warren Meyer's book deconstructs all this.
* Real Climate: Responses to common contrarian arguments - this is the "flagship" most often referred to as gospel
* UK Meteorological Office: Climate Change Myths
* Royal Society: Climate Change controversies
* Natural Environment Research Council (UK): Summary of the debate
* Union of Concerned Scientists - Past, Present, and Future Temperatures: the Hockeystick FAQ

Our transcriptions: you can see the full range of "skeptics' issues" here
BBC Climate Scepticism Top Ten work in progress RealClimate Index + Responses to Contrarians (huge)
New Scientist Guide for the Perplexed (27 issues) Skeptical Science Sceptic Arguments (52 issues)

Gristmill How to Answer a CC Skeptic (70+ issues)

Any other key items to deconstruct?

RealClimate has discussion threads (but completely censors or ridicules all skeptics, without leaving a check trail, thus blocking debate). A fuller list of websites "debunking" skeptics is here. The classic AGW replies to skeptics' issues are almost always debunking "straw men"* and just need clear, sourced science and evidence. Several AGW science issues I am certain have been disproved, but either I don't have the proof to hand, or I cannot follow the details but sense the presence of experts. I don't think I am alone in such experiences. The Deniers shows that many top science experts say "in my area of expertise, AGW / IPCC science is mistaken - but I still believe in AGW / IPCC generally."

Skeptics' Wiki: I believe we should have a skeptics' wiki, if we can establish good ground rules. Here's a small personal Climate Science wiki that holds excellent quality. But I am not sure that I can handle a wiki at this point.

*straw man argument: First, state "this is what xxx say" but state what is out of date, or only a part of the issue, or a misrepresentation, "cherry-picking" etc. Then procede to demolish it. Easy. xxx then look gullible, unscientific, in a tiny minority, in denial, in the pay of exxxx, and totally untrustworthy. When, as AGW websites do, multiple arguments "debunking" skeptics are piled up together, it takes some effort / courage / idiocy to actually check the skeptics to see if they have been fairly represented.

Page updated 5th September 2009


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