Monday, January 03, 2011

WA Skeptics Deniers

EoR has been trying to ignore the WA Skeptics' descent into climate denialism (and wondering why they are still listed on the Australian Skeptics website as a WA affiliate when they have clearly become an agenda driven organisation), but he feels it's time to have another look at their recent rant against the world of corrupt science.

The original web page has quietly been changed without noting the amendments.

Rather than correcting the record, it's just a Gish gallop of further irrelevancies (it's ironic that a once skeptical organisation is using a technique pioneered by creationists). A list of books damning science by various people has been added, including those by "scientists who really know the field". EoR isn't sure what criteria is used to determine that accolade, but if there's any doubt, he's urged to Google their names. Because Google is, you know, all sciency and true. The first really-knowing scientist is Ian Plimer. He of the numerous scientific errors. And who refuses to correct his errors when they're pointed out to him. Repeatedly. In fact, EoR is quite shocked that Plimer would even be mentioned. Especially since Wikipedia notes that Plimer's claim about volcanoes "has no factual basis". And Wikipedia is the Truth, according to the anonymous author of this page. Or is the author just cherry picking claims that suit his (apparently political) agenda?

Cherry picking, regardless of truth, seems to be the main argumentative method employed here. The citing of a Scientific American poll to prove the author's case has been slightly amended also. There's now a note that the poll was seriously biased by anti-science interests, "in which case why did Scientific American publish the results in the first place?" Oh, now we're down to cheap innuendo as well.

Well, Scientific American probably published it because they thought it would be interesting to see what their readers thought. Doing which, they clearly showed how ignorant they were of the applicability of internet poll data. Why did the anonymous WA Skeptic, on the other hand, think that an internet poll was in any sense at all scientific? Why is the corrupt data still there on his page? Is it simply to show how an interest group can skew the data to misrepresent the science? Is it, in fact, some subtle double play by the author to show the dissimulation employed by deniers? If it is, it's too subtle for EoR.

The author also goes on at some length about various petitions from real scientists who have proved climate science corrupt and wrong (the latest of which has been labelled elsewhere as a fraud). Sort of a slightly more official sounding internet poll form of evidence. Of course, if you doubt it, you can always go to that most scientific source of truth, Wikipedia (yes, Anonymous Author apparently uses this to form his scientific views). EoR almost hurt himself laughing.

Of course, you can also find petitions of scientists who don't believe in evolution. Real scientists. Who know evolution is a scientific fraud. And it's only a theory anyway.

EoR presumes Anonymous Author (and, by implication, the WA Skeptics) dismisses evolution, on the same evidentiary basis that he dismisses climate science. Or does he maintain the amazing ability to hold two contradictory views simultaneously? Either way, it must be terribly uncomfortable.

The WA Skeptics claim

we insist on accuracy and anti-sensationalism

Personally, EoR is skeptical of that claim (and won't believe it until it's on Wikipedia).

A skeptic
A skeptic.

Not a skeptic
Not a skeptic.

Australian Academy of Science: The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers


  1. You know why some people don't believe in human caused climate change, it's so inconvenient. Why it goes so far as to call for changes in what people do, and that is a denial of free will.

  2. mythusmage, I have pondered the question - why some become deniers vs believers - and I am inclined to believe you are right.

  3. Like the kind of people that turn on all their appliances during Earth Hour? Yeah.

    It's weird to think that some people only have cottage cheese in that part of the brain where social responsibility resides. Their immature petulance cortex is working fine, however.

  4. "immature petulance cortex" - love it Daniel, will amend anatomy text.

    The forceful petulance of deniers is interesting. On callback radio and forums it's like a toddler tantrum - raging against the inevitable end of the day.
    Maybe this is their arsenic hour - eventually they'll collapse with a whimper and leave us in peace to get on with the job?


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