Schmitt withdraws from NM Energy appointment

By Phil Plait | February 11, 2011 11:23 am

It looks like Apollo 17 Moonwalker and climate change denier Harrison Schmitt will not be stepping in to run New Mexico’s Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources. How about that?

As I wrote a few days ago, Schmitt was appointed to be the head of that department. Given that he is a well-known denier of climate change, Schmitt was an, um, interesting choice by the NM Governor. Things really hit the fan a few days ago when it became clear that in a report about the climate written by Schmitt, he used obviously wrong (at best, cherry-picked) data to say that the arctic sea ice extent in 2009 was back to where it was in 1989. In reality, arctic sea ice extent has dropped since then, and the volume of ice has dropped dramatically.

As Chris Mooney reports at The Intersection, it’s hard to believe the blogs had much to do with Schmitt’s name being withdrawn, but it’s curious. The Washington Post reports that Schmitt refused to sign a waiver dealing with a background check by a private investigator. I must admit I’m scratching my head over that one; Schmitt was a NASA astronaut and for a term was a U.S. Senator for New Mexico, so getting hung up on red tape for a background check is weird. I don’t like to speculate on such little info, but I am not convinced we’re getting all scoop here.

Either way, this particular climate change denier won’t be running the NM department responsible for energy, so in my book that’s a good thing. However, the governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, already has a history of being a climate change denier herself (a quick search reveals loads of info, like, say, this), so I expect whoever she appoints won’t have progressive ideas about it. We’ll just have to see what the next move is.


Related posts:

- Moon walker, climate change denier
- Climate change: the evidence
- I’m skeptical of denialism

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (49)

  1. His views on climate are not that unusual for a geologist of his age.

  2. shunt1

    Sometimes I am ashamed of being associated with “Climate Warming Hoax Deniers” like you and how you have attacked an outstanding scientest like astronaut Harrison Schmitt. Are you freaking insane?

    Never mind, I think that I already know the answer…

  3. New Mexican

    I work at the NM legislature, and the insider scuttlebutt here is that the Democratic members of the Senate Rules Committee (the committee that would vote whether or not to confirm Schmitt) received enough feedback from voters and others that it became clear that there were not enough votes in the committee for confirmation. The bit about a background check is a convenient excuse to withdraw his nomination without any embarrassment for the Governor.

    I really think that blogs like yours were a big help in keeping pseudoscience from gaining ground in this case. Chock it up as a win.

  4. Ron1

    @2. shunt1 said, ” Blah, Blah, Blah …”

    ……………………………

    First, I’m a BIG fan of Schmitt’s walk on the moon and think that must continue to be respected.

    Notwithstanding my respect for Schmitt, I fail to understand how you think Phil attacked him? From what I see, Phil simply stated the facts as they are currently available.

    You, on the other hand, might want to take a look at TheBlackCat’s list of behaviour attributable to deniers (and wingnuts in general). Your argument is passionate but not likely to persuade. (I’m trying to be nice!)

  5. Patrick

    @2: “Climate Warming Hoax Deniers”

    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever read an explanation for the point of the “global warming hoax” that wasn’t completely crazy. “It’s just to get funding” is the least insane of the bunch, and it still doesn’t explain why the funding agencies are so gung-ho to fund misleading science in the first place. If global warming is a hoax, what’s the goal? And why did the perpetrators think that the super best way to acheive their goal was by getting scientists to lie for thirty/forty years?

    I’m not interested in the critiques of the science of global warming or whatever, I just want to know: cui bono?

  6. beth q's bff's so

    It’s due to the shocking fact that all the moonwalks have been hoaxes! *snort*

  7. Patrick

    @6: It was all CGI, Michael Jackson never really walked backwards.

  8. Number 6

    Sometimes life on planet earth brightens….Schmitt withdraws and Mubarak resigns.

  9. Old Rockin' Dave

    I thought all along that he would be confirmed, but now Schmitt has hit the fan. I guess I just didn’t know “Jack” Schmitt.

  10. Too bad your “science” magazine has apparently become a left-wing smear site. Did you get a nice check from George Soros too?

  11. MartinM

    Sometimes I am ashamed of being associated with “Climate Warming Hoax Deniers” like you and how you have attacked an outstanding scientest like astronaut Harrison Schmitt.

    In what sense are you 'associated with' Phil? And do you have any actual comment on the substantive errors in Schmitt's claims?

  12. Luke

    10. Arnold Says something

    Any refutations in there or are you just stopping by to practice your talking points?

  13. This thing the deniers have for Gore/Soros is so strange to me. If it were at all true, wouldn’t you have expected an email from one of those guys to show up in the 1000′s of hacked emails?

  14. Daniel J. Andrews

    Isn’t it rather sad we’re at the point where getting a less hard core denier instead of the hard core denier is good news? Sort of like celebrating you’re only going to lose your foot instead of your hand.

    Sometimes the antiscience is so strong, I just want to yell….
    youtube.com/watch?v=qileP4bAzek
    ;)

  15. Patrick

    @13: Gore invented the Internet, he probably built in a backdoor he can use to erase emails anywhere and anytime.

  16. réalta fuar

    @New Mexican Your theory seems plausible since Democrats hold a 27 to 15 majority in your state senate and even hold the state house with a small margin. Given that, will they reject ANY wingnut appointed by the governor (and how did you wind up with such a governor in the first place?)
    Still, Schmitt has been out of the Senate and the astronaut corp for a LONG time, so it’s also plausible that he has things he doesn’t want uncovered. Financial dealings with big energy producers come immediately to mind.

  17. Number 6

    @ New Mexican and realta fuar….

    Your posts are speculative, but very interesting.

  18. gss_000

    Phil, just for clarification, that’s not WPost reporting it: that’s an AP article hosted by the WPost. If you see here:

    http://tinyurl.com/4qjao23

    it’s the same article. The time stamp is a tip off that this is a hosted article. If it was a Wpost story there would be an author cited.

    While I respect Schmitt for being an astronaut, and while his views are not surprising for older geologists, I’d be glad if people standing up for facts and science prevented someone from getting into a position where their policies can affect a lot of people. Schmitt is wrong about global warming and he should not be in charge of energy policy. His decisions could affect people decades down the line.

    Oh, and just keep this in mind: Gov. Martinez is the one now in charge of the state with Spaceport America, where Virgin Galactic and others will launch from. There looks to be either normal politics with a change in administrations or shenanigans there as well with the removal of the previous director of the Spaceport Authority depending on your point of view.

  19. KC

    That the man is an astronaut does not give him a free pass at peer review.

  20. George Martin

    The “New Mexican” @ 3 said that the scuttlebutt he heard was that the committee was unlikely to confirm Schmitt, even before his refusal to submit to the background check. In an article about this in Friday the 11th’s Albuquerque Journal it was written:

    He was facing a rocky road to confirmation even before Thursday’s developments.

    His critics were alarmed by his views on a range of issues, including global warming, his comments likening the environmental movement to the communist movement and his assertion that opponents of liberty have taken over public schools.

    George

  21. Messier Tidy Upper

    Harrison Schmitt has – & will always have – immense respect from me.

    Harrison Schmitt walked on the Moon, the only scientist to do so and the second last person to do so with Eugene Cernan being the very last. Indeed as Wikipedia notes, was actually the last human to *arrive* on our Moon as Cernan exited the LEM first.

    This makes Harrison Schmitt a great man who risked his life for science and space exploration and improving our understanding of the cosmos. No question about that. He has earnt our admiration and appreciation; he has done good for science, the USA and the rest of Humanity.

    Equally, though in this particular case on the specific issue of the climatological science (not his area of expertise which is geology btw.) regarding the Global Warming phenomenon, he is terribly wrong in his assessment of reality and thus is the wrong person for this job.

    So I’m glad Harrison Schmitt didn’t get that position of power. I chalk it up as a victory for science and I wish the former astronuat and Senator Schmitt a serene and happy retirement. :-)

  22. shunt1 (#2): I don’t care if someone is a great scientist or not when they deny the facts. If they stand up and say something demonstrably wrong (and also pretty fishy) then it is up to other scientists to call them out. In fact, not doing so is against the tenets of science. I don’t care if it’s a guy who walked on the Moon, a man like Linus Pauling who won two Nobels but supported megadoses of Vitamin C, or Halton Arp who thought the cosmological redshift was not cosmological.

    If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. Holding up scientists on some sort of untouchable pedestal is exactly, precisely the wrong way to do science.

  23. Chris

    It’s amazing how “sacred cows” come up in the scientific community. Science is all about questioning and questioning. How come when people “question” theories purported as facts we fire them (or don’t hire them) or call them names? It was once a fact that the earth was flat and that the earth was the center of the universe. Detractors were called heretics and sent to the looney bin.

    Science needs to take a good hard look and stop stifling the primary tenet of science which is to question.

    Let the name calling begin…… tell me who I am….. ooohh, I am a wingnut…. I’ am an idiot…. Label me a hick or …. here’s one…. you’ll love this one…. an alchemist….. (god I crack myself up)

    What I truly am is a man of no letters who will keep “questioning” when those with letters “settle” an issue as solved. There are so many areas we don’t know in science yet if you’re not pursuing the higgs-boson, you’re a nobody.

    The most asinine mistakes in the sciences were made by the scientific societies in England who would “run out” people who’d propose contrary ways of thought. Modern-day science is nearly as bad.

    Science is not a field of free thought anymore….. it’s a regimented elitist organization who’ve become extremely closed-minded on a range of topics.

    (Stepping off my soap-box to get back to work on my flux capacitor requiring 1.21 PetaWatts….. the GigaWatt one was a stupid idea for the movies…… I’ve promised a paper on it to Scientific American in 2015…… it’s all real hush-hush ya know)

  24. Messier Tidy Upper

    For those who haven’t yet seen it, this :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrxE3uwHECs&p=029130BFDC78FA33

    “How to pick a cherry” clip in the ‘Climate Crock’ series by Peter Sinclair discusses and nicely illustrates Harrison Schmitt’s problematic statements on AGW.

  25. Ron1

    @23 Chris

    You’re not wrong, Science is all about questioning and questioning. Yes, historically, errors are made but, in the end, the process is self correcting.

    By this, I mean, Scientists are not generally known for being gentle with each other. They rip each other’s arguments visciously in order to find faults. What you’re seeing in these threads is NOTHING compared to what goes on in the scientific community.

    You might ask, how this has anything to do with your comment? Well, it’s because your frame of reference is a bit off and, if you can put politics aside, you can learn that science works.

    First, it’s not a regimented elitist organization — it’s a process (children do it), it’s a way of thinking that ANYONE can do. Don’t confuse science with what is done WITH science.

    Second, science has never stopped looking hard and questioning — that’s what science is. It’s a process born out of curiosity.

    Third, and last, what you’re really talking about is people interacting with people, and yes, scientists are people. People can do bad things with the results of science. They can do really bad things with the results of bad science or pseudo-science. As well, scientists can ( and sometimes do) lie and falsify their data (ie. Dr Wakefield). However, as I’ve mentioned already, science is self correcting and the liars are eventually found and their data exposed – the process works.

    So, you’re not wrong to question but your feelings about science are misplaced. Blame the people who are abusing the results of science, and that is not who you seem to think.

    As for the comments aimed at deniers and wingnuts, well, I’m guilty as charged but I don’t think you deserve that. I think you really are looking for answers and I hope you find them.

    Cheers

  26. Messier Tidy Upper

    @23. Chris Says:

    It’s amazing how “sacred cows” come up in the scientific community. Science is all about questioning and questioning. How come when people “question” theories purported as facts we fire them (or don’t hire them) or call them names?

    Theories like evolution and gravity and anthropogenic global warming?

    Its one thing to question such theories if your questions are reasonable and based on actual evidence to support plausible alternative theories.

    There was a recent theory called MOND (Modified Newtonian Dynamis) that put forward a serious challenge to the established wisdom on the existence of dark matter and the ideas of gravity – but it didn’t stand up to questioning itself and the observational and experimental available evidence did NOT support it.

    Question science and the curent paradigm sure! However, in science especially – even more so than in life in general where this is also true – you need to support what you are saying with good arguments and good evidence.

    It was once a fact that the earth was flat and that the earth was the center of the universe. Detractors were called heretics and sent to the looney bin.

    Is that actually true? My understanding is that that idea is something of an urban legend. The Greco-Egyptian polymath and Chief Libraraian of the Great Library of Alexandria, Eratosthenes who lived from 276 to 194 BC calculated the circumference of the Earth. Educated people from early times in history – at least the classical Athenian period up to the present day – probably knew the Earth was a sphere and not flat.

    I gather that opposition to Colombus’es voyage of exploration was driven largely by the fact that Christopher Columbus under-estimated the size of our planet and was only saved because a then-unknown continent existed between Europe and his goal of reaching Cathay. (China.)

    Who precisely can you name who was “thrown into the loony bin” by scientists for that particular “heresy?”

    Science needs to take a good hard look ..

    “.. at itself” I presume you mean there? It already looks good and hard at many things from the most distant galaxies to the hardest to detect exoplanets all the way down to the smallest sub-atomic particles. ;-)

    Perhaps it does. Perhaps it already is? Are you assuming it isn’t already doing so?

    ..and stop stifling the primary tenet of science which is to question.

    Citation please. Your evidence for this assertion is what precisely?

    Let the name calling begin…… tell me who I am….. ooohh, I am a wingnut…. I’ am an idiot…. Label me a hick or …. here’s one…. you’ll love this one…. an alchemist….. (god I crack myself up)

    No, let’s NOT get into name-calling. It can vent frustration for the name-caller but really gets us nowhere except angry and upset.

    What I truly am is a man of no letters who will keep “questioning” when those with letters “settle” an issue as solved. There are so many areas we don’t know in science yet if you’re not pursuing the higgs-boson, you’re a nobody.

    But the majority of scientists are NOT pursuing the Higgs-Boson. Only a small sub-set of scientists called particle physicists – and *some* astropyhsicists working largely at the Large Hadron Collider are involved in that specific quest.

    Scientists cover a huge variety of fields and specialise in a whole range of activities and fields from astronomy to zoology, from searching for exoplanets to seeking a cure for cancer.

    The most asinine mistakes in the sciences were made by the scientific societies in England who would “run out” people who’d propose contrary ways of thought. [Who exactly? MTU.] Modern-day science is nearly as bad. Science is not a field of free thought anymore….. it’s a regimented elitist organization who’ve become extremely closed-minded on a range of topics.

    It is? Evidence please!

    Really, if you wish to essentially insult every scientist in modern times from planet-hunter Sara Seager through to evolutionary biologist and historian of science Stephen Jay Gould you need to be able to back up your extraordinary claim with some pretty extraordinary evidence indeed. I see no reason whatsoever to accept your, frankly, pretty offensive asertion there. :-(

  27. Messier Tidy Upper

    Also I second what # 25. Ron1 has written. :-)

    Eratosthenes :

    ” … was the first person to calculate the circumference of the earth by using a measuring system using stades, or the length of stadiums during that time period (with remarkable accuracy). He was the first person to prove that the Earth was round. He was the first to calculate the tilt of the Earth’s axis (also with remarkable accuracy). He may also have accurately calculated the distance from the earth to the sun and invented the leap day.[4] He also created a map of the world based on the available geographical knowledge of the era. In addition, Eratosthenes was the founder of scientific chronology; he endeavored to fix the dates of the chief literary and political events from the conquest of Troy. According to an entry[5] in the Suda (a 10th century reference), his contemporaries nicknamed him beta, from the second letter of the Greek alphabet, because he supposedly proved himself to be the second best in the world in almost every field.[6]

    Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes

    Also :

    Where Columbus did differ from the view accepted by scholars in his day was in his estimate of the westward distance from Europe to Asia. Columbus’s ideas in this regard were based on three factors: his low estimate of the size of the Earth, his high estimate of the size of the Eurasian landmass, and his belief that Japan and other inhabited islands lay far to the east of the coast of China. In all three of these issues Columbus was both wrong and at odds with the scholarly consensus of his day.

    … [Snip] … Columbus therefore estimated the distance from the Canary Islands to Japan to be about 3,000 Italian miles (3,700 km, or 2,300 statute miles), while the correct figure is 19,600 km (12,200 mi). No ship in the 15th century could carry enough food and fresh water for such a long voyage and the dangers involved in navigating through the uncharted ocean would have been formidable. Most European navigators reasonably concluded that a westward voyage from Europe to Asia was unfeasible.

    Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus#Geographical_considerations

    Those European navigators, of course, made the reasonable enough mistake of assuming that no other unknown lands lay between Asia and Europe.

  28. don gisselbeck

    I call Poe (peta watt flux capacitor???).

  29. don gisselbeck

    The Wikipedia Flat Earth article is informative, entertaining and discusses the Zetetics (another type of denier).

  30. Old Rockin' Dave

    @ Patrick (#15):
    Al Gore never said he “invented” the Internet, but that because of his early and continuous support for funding it’s development that in a way he was a, not “the”, creator of the Internet, a claim that received support from none other than Tim Berners-Lee.
    Accuracy counts, even in a joke.

  31. Morlock

    With Phil talking about Harrison Schmitt, I expected Maurizio Morabito to post something that reads like wailing.

  32. Chris

    Seriously not serious, much of what I wrote earlier was tongue in cheek and meant no disrespect to all scientists of the planet but I stand by my statement that there are sacred cows…. my point was that those who question them are shunned and run-out of the community by those who so vehemently defend the rights of free speech and public discourse.

    Yes, I am quite aware of how rabid the scientific community can be with each other and I do appreciate the assurances that scientists are actually people….. but I’ve met a few that the jury is still out on (….. again people that is a poor attempt at humor…. jeez….can’t we take a joke.)

    Aloha from Haleakala,
    Chris

  33. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Chris : again people that is a poor attempt at humor…. jeez….can’t we take a joke.

    Hmm .. let’s see :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMWoaHyIKMs&NR=1

    Yes, I reckon we can! ;-)

    Perhaps its in the way you tell it?

  34. Messier Tidy Upper

    Does anyone know & care to enlighten us about what the other Apollo astronauts and especially the other surviving Moon-walkers think? Have any of them said anything publicly either in favour or against Anthropogenic Global Warming & Schmitt’s comments on it?

    Not that their views are that relevant but I’m curious.

    When they get together, do you think the Moon-walkers would discuss Schmitt’s climate contrarianism and Mitchell’s UFO and newage-y-ism?

  35. Jon

    @gss_000: Gov. Martinez has talked about killing the Spaceport, or at least removing all funding…our new commuter rail is potentially on the chopping block, too. (It’s not all removal: she wants to bring the death penalty back!)
    @réalta fuar: We wound up with this governor for two reasons. One was southeast NM, which is “far west Texas” and particularly upset about cap-and-trade. The other was the corruption, real and/or perceived, of Richardson’s administration, which got plenty of play during the campaign.

    The background check requirement sounds particularly odious: the AP story says he was required to waive a PI’s liability on the check. I’m not sure if that’s a new requirement but given the Governor’s quote, I have to wonder if it’s one of her initiatives.

  36. Mike G

    Science is all about questioning and questioning. How come when people “question” theories purported as facts we fire them (or don’t hire them) or call them names? It was once a fact that the earth was flat and that the earth was the center of the universe. Detractors were called heretics and sent to the looney bin.

    Science needs to take a good hard look and stop stifling the primary tenet of science which is to question.

    So following logically from this, it would be commendable for a modern astronomer to ask whether the sun revolves around Earth? They shouldn’t be fired (or not hired) or called names by their peers because they don’t understand that basic concept? Or perhaps you accept that some things have already been settled to the point that questioning them further is fruitless and scientists have moved on to questions that are still unanswered.

    I think most scientists would argue that continually asking questions is central to science, but only so long as those questions are both 1)new and 2) show understanding of the subject. Repeatedly asking old questions after they’ve been answered or asking uninformed questions like “Why is winter still cold if there’s global warming?” doesn’t lead to any scientific progress and scientists who insist on doing so are rightfully ostracized by their peers.

  37. John EB Good

    Without any lack of respect for Harry Schmitt acomplishments:

    It’s not because you walked on the moon that it means you know anything about the arctic circle. Go speak to the Inuits, Harry, let them talk about the good ol’time. Bring a lot of mosquito repellent, even if it will be next to useless.

    It’s not because you’re a top notch geologist that it means you know anything about climatology or even, tomorrow’s wheather. As a sailor, I’d bet I can beat you 9 times out of 10 on that last gig.

    It’s not because you sat atop more than 6 millions pounds of high explosive that you demonstrated your wisdom. You demonstrated a great deal of courage, yes, and courage is, most of the time, at the complete opposite end from wisdom.

    Yes, myself, I’d embark tomorow morning. And I know very well, with close to 1 out of 10 people never having came back alive from such a trip, that, in my case, it’s plain insanity. But my wife knows very well I’m THAT insane. I almost got killed in so many ways… what harm could one more way be? ;)

  38. SLC

    Re Phil Plait @ #22

    In the legion of prominent scientists who believe nonsense, we might include Nobel Prize winning physicist Brian Josephson who believes in cold fusion, PK, and ESP.

  39. Mike G

    Don’t forget Kary Mullis who won a Nobel for helping invent PCR. He’s an HIV/AIDS denier, climate change denier, and believer in astrology.

  40. Patrick

    @30: Yes, I know Al Gore didn’t say he created the Internet, but the sort of person who would think Al Gore actually might delete emails to cover up the Climate Hoaxspiracy probably would think otherwise. (Having to explain a joke makes it funnier!)

    @23: Hi, Chris! You seem to be an inquisitive sort of fellow, you’ve probably thought about lots of things. Maybe you could answer my questions.
    1) If anthropogenic global warming isn’t real, are the scientists who say otherwise merely mistaken or actively committing fraud?
    2) If they are mistaken, what is the mistake that climate scientists can’t seem to get over?
    3) If they are committing fraud, what is the goal of that fraud?

    @39: And don’t forget Albert Einstein himself, who argued vehemently against what are now basic and well-supported tenets of quantum mechanics.

  41. Joseph G

    @22 Phil Plait: shunt1 (#2): I don’t care if someone is a great scientist or not when they deny the facts. If they stand up and say something demonstrably wrong (and also pretty fishy) then it is up to other scientists to call them out. In fact, not doing so is against the tenets of science. I don’t care if it’s a guy who walked on the Moon, a man like Linus Pauling who won two Nobels but supported megadoses of Vitamin C, or Halton Arp who thought the cosmological redshift was not cosmological.
    If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. Holding up scientists on some sort of untouchable pedestal is exactly, precisely the wrong way to do science.

    Well put! And thank you, sincerely, for publicizing the issue. I’m sure that your coverage of Schmitt’s writings had a lot to do with this good outcome.

  42. Van Rijn

    Phil, it is certainly right to point out the science, and show where, according to the evidence, Schmitt is wrong (for instance, his poor argument about Arctic ice), but using the “climate change denier” label only hurts your argument. For one thing, it’s technically wrong in this case: A quick Google will turn up articles where Schmitt specifically discusses instances of climate change. For another, using the “denier” label (which sounds far too much like “Holocaust denier”) is handing free rhetorical ammunition to your opponents. Especially in the case of someone like Schmitt, who is no Bill O’Reilly, but a respected astronaut and scientist, it just looks bad, and can provoke a very negative emotional response, exactly what you don’t want for this subject.

  43. Patrick

    How is “climate change denier” free rhetorical ammunition? What other word would work best? The only other alternative I’ve seen is “skeptic” and people have already posted ad nauseum in other comment threads about the difference between genuine skepticism and denialism.

    Personally I don’t associate the word “denier” immediately with the Holocaust anyway.

  44. Messier Tidy Upper

    @43. Patrick Says:

    How is “climate change denier” free rhetorical ammunition? What other word would work best?

    ‘Contrarian’ is the one I’d suggest we use.

    “Proponents” versus “opponents” of the Anthropogenic Global Warming theory sort of works too except it could potentially raise confusion as the opponents would have us increase the AGW while the proponents want us to take action to oppose AGW.

    “Climate Change denier” does carry an association with the far nastier “Holocaust denier” , is quite offensive and thus more likely to get people’s backs up and their heels dug in and is often inaccurate into the brgain as many of these people are not actually denying that the climate is /has /will change only (& wrongly) that human Co2 emissions are mainly responsible. So the “denier” term is polarising and wrong and using it isn’t exactly helpful, in my view.

    Climate “skeptic” is what the climate contrarians wish to be called but isn’t really appropriate given their failure to follow the real skpetical rules and frequent resort to non-skepticims over some extraordinary claims eg. “no warming trend since 1998″, “Co2 does NOT cause warming”, all the other planets are warming too”, etc …

    ‘Contrarian’ is accurate in that these peopelare taking aview contrary to the current scientific position and milder although probably still not what
    their side wishes to be called.
    As always the golden rule (Do unto Others as ye would choose to have done unto you) is good advice. Do you like being called unpleasant names or called something you don’t wish to be called? No? Then don’t do that to others!

    Being on the “right” side of an issue, does not, I think, mean you get carte blanche to abuse & be cruel to those you consider to be on the “wrong” side of whatever issue. That I think is counter-productive and does not result in civilised, reasonable, polite debate which is *my* prefered strategy.

    YMMV natch.

  45. Patrick

    I’ve never heard anyone complain about people being called “moon landing deniers” or “HIV/AIDS deniers”, and in any case, the idea that “denier” is some majorly offensive term simply because it’s also applied to Holocaust denial is hilariously dumb.

  46. Joseph G

    @ 45 Patrick: Amen to that. I know I”ve ranted about this before, but to reiterate, I think that the mock-outrage over the “D” word, specifically trying to link it to Holocaust denial, is a cynical attempt to completely derail the debate. If the denier acts hurt and indignant enough, the folks who used the word (if sincere and debating in good faith, as they typically are/do) will try to apologize and clarify that they meant no such comparison. Now, the conversation is firmly in rhetorical territory, where denialists can thrive. You don’t need to cite sources or read peer-reviewed papers to appeal to emotion.

    Messier Tidy Upper, I’m going to hafta disagree with you on this ‘un. Not that it’s a major disagreement – hell, it should be a non-issue. That’s my point – I think that a lot of deniers try to MAKE it an issue to divide the participants. I know that you aren’t one of these people, of course, it’s just that you’re trying to be fair and diplomatic. Which is usually a good thing. Usually :)

  47. Patrick

    @46: If the denier acts hurt and indignant enough…

    Let’s face it. Deniers will find a way to act hurt and indigant if you call them anything other than “absolutely right”.

  48. Ron1

    @44 MTU said, “Being on the “right” side of an issue, does not, I think, mean you get carte blanche to abuse & be cruel to those you consider to be on the “wrong” side of whatever issue. That I think is counter-productive and does not result in civilised, reasonable, polite debate which is *my* prefered strategy.”

    …………………………………………………………………

    Usually I’d say you’re right — take the diplomatic approach, use the Golden Rule, and simply be nice. However, you’re missing one very important concern — FUNDIE’S DON’T TAKE PRISONERS! (sorry for screaming but, it’s very important)

    While I really appreciate the civility that you, Joseph G and others use while trying to educate deniers, I strongly think you are fighting a loosing battle and wasting your time. Most deniers cannot be educated because they are ‘believers’. AGW (and a wide range of issues) have been politicized and the deniers are lined up lock-step with (usually) right-wing groups. They are loyal to their political movement and they aren’t budging. Off course, you’ve also got the real crazies, but the point is the same — they aren’t budging from their belief either.

    Further, Joseph G is absolutely correct when he says ” the conversation is firmly in rhetorical territory, where denialists can thrive.”

    To give it perspective, here’s a short personal story … When he was a kid, my wife’s brother really thought the rocky mountains were made of cardboard. It didn’t matter what logical argument you threw at him to correct his thinking, he found a ‘but’ to counter, regardless of how insane the but was. For example, take him hiking into the first range and he’d simply counter that these were real rock, but the next range in sight (but not hiked) was cardboard. Deniers are the same, except they are adults who’ve not grown up.

    Of course, you sometime come across someone who is not the usual dogmatic denier and really is asking questions. When I find someone like that, then of course I’m going to be civil, but they are rare.

    Also, don’t loose sight that the AGW argument has been going on for forty years. While issues of uncertainty certainly exist, the basic science about AGW is settled – the earth is warming, the deniers ARE wrong and the political movements they are espousing are in a position to do a lot of real harm to a lot of innocent people — and they are winning the war against science. The deniars are louder, more organized and more passionate. Their voice is being heard while ours is not.

    Therefore, to the dogmatic deniers, and those that make it personal by attacking Mann and others, I say “Have at ‘em and take no prisoners.” Shout them down!

    Cheers

  49. Donni Doophuss

    I think that having walked on the moon gives Harrison Schmitt full authority to talk about climate change. Just as Harrison Ford playing Han Solo in Star Wars gives him equal authority to talk on climate change. Someone has to go up against these so called climate “scientists” and their “expert” knowledge.
    I mean, apart from all the scientific evidence for global warming, there isn’t much non scientific evidence for global warming. Which is why I reject the idea of global warming. Some may call me a denier, but I fail to see why a complete rejection of scientific evidence makes me a denier.

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