From Susan Lawler:
But yesterday, as I was preparing to deliver a lecture on the evidence for evolution, I looked at the day’s quote and found myself embarking on an involuntary rant. Typically, my students remembered the rant and forgot the lecture. Worryingly, they may not have been able to tell the difference. Hopefully, it did them no harm. You can be the judge, as I replicate my rant here.
“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.” — Hippocrates
Hippocrates’ quote about science and opinion reminded me why I did not watch the recent TV show called I can change your mind about climate change, although I have heard a lot about it.
I cannot bear to watch or read anything that labels the proponents of these debates as sceptics and believers. The misuse of these words creates enough confusion to overpower any substantive points that might be made in the process.
The way these words – sceptics and believers – are used in discussing climate change, just drives me nuts. As Hippocrates says, one is science and the other opinion, but when these words are linked to climate change, their meaning is opposite to their definitions. This is sneaky, underhanded obfuscation.
Sceptics, as portrayed in the media circus, are completely mislabelled. Those who deny actual evidence cannot be called sceptics. They begin by believing in the rightness of their cause, and then cherry pick their facts. No true sceptic would develop an argument based on bias alone.
Scientists are the true sceptics. They begin with doubt, rather than beginning with belief. They ask themselves, “What kind of data could I collect that would prove to me that an idea I think is right is actually wrong?”
Scientists ask rigorous questions, test assumptions and scrutinise each other’s logic. Yet when 97% of scientists agree that climate change is caused by human activities, they are labelled “believers”.
This is a deeply misleading word for the scientists involved, and it is offensive to true believers as well….
Climate change deniers are neither sceptics nor believers. They do not believe in anything, other than their own opinions. Because they try to argue about the evidence, they pretend to be sceptics, but they are not. Their scholarship is insufficient, their doubt is selective, and their arguments are flawed.