We’ve all heard the question, and perhaps even asked it ourselves, “Just how do scientists know that?” The question is innocent enough, but all too often it’s asked with a sense of distrust and even with a touch of condescension. Honestly, with or without the skepticism, it’s a question worth asking and answering.
It’s perfectly fine to ask how science knows what it knows and to have a desire to understand how the evidence supports the conclusions scientists come to. Those kind of questions are actually a large part of what peer-review does. The type of skepticism that I take issue with (the kind this article is addressing) is different, it doesn’t allow people to follow the facts, but to distort the them to fit their previously held beliefs. This way of thinking turns the question “how can they know that?” into a declaration of “they can’t know that!” That version of skepticism is not true skepticism, but instead it’s just a fancy way of saying, “I don’t like it, so it’s not true.”
The biggest threat to the denial of any scientific fact is evidence showing that there is a scientific consensus. Scientists are sceptical and questioning by their very nature. They love to poke and prod everything to see if it withstands scrutiny.
That climate change is real and that we’re causing it is the conclusion scientists have come to based on the evidence. The very same evidence is what makes scientists also very concerned about what the consequences will be if we continue adding greenhouse gasses to our planet’s atmosphere.
If up to 97% of scientists agree on this why is there so much controversy and debate about climate change? Where does this gap between the public and scientists come from? Are there psychological and social drivers that explain this? How can we get around these effects to increase acceptance of well established science? What kind of role has climate science denial played in influencing public perceptions and attitudes towards climate change?
Continue reading Making Sense of Climate Science Denial
Attacks on scientists and their research are very common in the public debate surrounding global warming. The attacks don’t need to make any sense nor is there a need for merit to the raised criticisms. For climate science deniers it’s more about maintaining their ideological mental armour so they can keep their world view in tact.
A lot of this footage you’ll also see in the upcoming Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) from The University of Queensland. The Denial101x MOOC will launch in April 2015 on the EdX platform. Registration has opened so you can register for free.
John, Peter, and I managed to get some amazing scientists for this MOOC and our own productions:
Continue reading A Historic Series Of Interviews At The AGU 2014 Fall Meeting