In previous post I wrote about how skeptics were treated in a different way than the consensus scientists when it comes to how they have been cited. This post will build on that and I will demonstrate the mechanisms how skeptics were painted as having contradictory, incoherent beliefs. Not necessarily because that is true in reality, but because it was framed that way by the researchers who looked in a biased way to the skeptic position.
Let’s pick up with previous story in which there was the example of the statement “Future climate cannot be predicted”, which makes the suggestion that skeptics believe that any future climate at any time-scale can not be predicted.
However, the actual claim in the cited (newspaper) article was: “mathematical models can’t predict what the average global temperature will be in 100 years”. That is a completely different ball game and this generic “future climate can not be predicted” is not representative for the actual statement. In this case we saw that, when looking at their own example, there were two scientists who made observations, connected this with known cycles and made an extrapolation for the close future.
Using the generic “future climate can not be predicted” claim would indeed be contradictory with the prediction of a coming ice age, but in the example (that the authors provided themselves) there was no contradiction at all. The claim was about the predictive power of the mathematical model over 100 years, not about what could happen over the next decades on the basis of observations and known cycles.
When we look at the other examples in table 1, then we see the same principle coming back. The example statements were very generic and many, if not all, could be in agreement with each other, depending on the context they were used in. This makes this list basically useless for the purposes it was compiled.
Another of such an example is in the next row: “Greenhouse effect has been falsifed” sic. Probably they meant “falsified” (this typo was present in two places in table 1, probably a copy/paste issue). Anyway, the question is: what is the context of that statement? Does it mean that there is no greenhouse effect? Or that it is too small to have the assumed effect? Or that CO2 is less sensitive? Or …? Some of them could perfectly coincide with “Water vapour is the most powerful greenhouse gas”. Depending on the context “Greenhouse effect has been falsified” can mean about anything and nowhere is explained in what context it was used.
Most of the examples in table 1 were copied from the skepticalscience website. That was quite interesting to see. Interesting because it was clear that this generic approach originated there and injected in this paper.
Additionally, skeptics, as well as alarmists, are a diverse bunch of people in all ranges of understanding the subject of Global Warming/Cimate Change. It is therefor very easy to make a list of contradicting statements of things being said by different people with different understanding of the matter. But, as I already said, it is not uniquely limited to skeptics. If we would compare the statement of Al Gore about Earth’s core temperature with those from a geologist, then these would also be contradicting statements…
That wouldn’t prove that the consensus position is incoherent, it is just an unfair comparison. But it is exactly this technique that has been used in this paper.
The paper went even further and compared statements from members of the public in newspapers with statements of consensus scientists in scientific journals. Combine this with the non-nuanced, generic statements without context and it is not difficult to understand that this would paint the skeptics as people that have incoherent beliefs and therefor contradict each other.
This is just framing. It would be just as easy to use newspaper clipping containing short-sighed statements from climate activists and compare them with scientific papers from skeptical scientists to then declare that the alarmist view is incoherent and contradictory.
This framing makes the paper inconclusive. They try to show that skeptic beliefs are incoherent and contradictory, but in fact it is not possible to know whether this comes from skeptic beliefs actually being incoherent or because they were framed that way.