Grasping at Straws

Grasping at Straws“. Charles Rotter (the “Moderator”) posts a newspaper article from USA Today called Scientists misread data on global warming controversy. The “data” in question is not temperature records or CO² levels, its opinion polls that show dropping public concern over climate change.

The article suggests that public confidence in ‘scientists’ is actually quite high, presumably excluding the denialosphere, and that people are simply focussed on the harsh short-term economic situation. The concern of climate scientists is that political resistance and misinformation are obscuring the highly probable negative consequences of AGW and encouraging dangerous inaction.

Charles’ entire insight is “If you try really really hard to ask questions a certain way, then you’ll get the answers you want.” He’s trying to spin this two ways. Firstly, he’s implying that the mainstream is trying to position the bad news of a drop in public concern over AGW as an understandable and temporary matter. Secondly he’s implying that climate scientists are panicking over losing funding. Them Ferrari’s ain’t gonna buy themselves!

However his odd remark seems more like advice to fellow denialists. Their anti-AGW positions are often the result of looking at a particular fact or set of data from every possible angle and finding one perspective that if they squint just right looks like it supports their desired conclusion, regardless of how crazy or dishonest it is. Then they discard all the other rational perspectives.

That’s why, for instance, denialists have lately latched onto the “no warming since 1995” claim. We posted on this back on February 16th. The 1995-2009 temperature rise happens to be short enough and modest enough that it falls just short of 95% statistical probability. This can be used to maneuver honest scientists into “admitting” that considering only that arbitrary period, there has been no statistically conclusive warming. Proof!

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