2010-10-04 09:54:42The Argument For Scientific Consensus
Bob Guercio
Robert Guercio
The Argument For Scientific Consensus The strongest argument to dispute the contrarians is to appeal to the fact that the science of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) has been firmly established by the scientific community. This argument certainly holds no sway with the contrarians but it is a tremendously powerful argument for the general public. Most people are reasonable and trusting of scientists; they will not accept the absurd notion that the scientists are in collusion to propagate a myth! However, this argument is a bit abstract since few people are associated with the scientific community. "Abstraction" turns to "obvious" when the argument is framed regarding the science that is taught at the University level, which of course is an integral part of the scientific community. On several occasions, I have successfully used this argument with people who were under the erroneous impression that the science of AGW was still in question. The argument goes something like this: "The science of Global Warming has been firmly established by the scientific community as can be readily noted by visiting any science department at an accredited college or university. Courses are given in AGW and legitimate science textbooks are used. An example of one of these courses is "Global Warming, Understanding the Forecast" at the University of Chicago using a textbook of the same name by David Archer. This course is available on-line at http://geoflop.uchicago.edu/forecast/docs/lectures.html Furthermore, recognized science textbooks denying Global Warming do not exist as would be readily apparent by visiting a college or university bookstore." This argument will not work with contrarians since Global Warming poses a conflict with their agendas. However, a more powerful argument cannot be made for the general public as I have personally witnessed! Robert Guercio
2010-10-04 16:53:43



It's unfortunate, but actually great harm has been done to the efficacy of this argument by the whole "Climategate" blow-up, which gave the media the "right" to question the honesty of the scientists involved. While traveling in Israel and California, I have met intelligent but not quite fully informed folks who thought that the Climategate had proven that climate scientists were manipulating results. I was able to point out a few key flaws in this view of events, but my stomach for dealing with this kind of detailed innuendo is limited, I'm afraid.

Whoever engineered the Climategate leaks deserves the Nobel Prize for War, I guess.

With respect to textbooks: I feel more comfortable referring people to textbooks on specific areas of atmospheric science, such as Goody & Yung's Atmospheric Radiation, or books on technical aspects of physical climatology: something with a delimited technical scope. I think people may be more willing to credit that scientists won't dirty their own nest with nonsense; but they may not be willing to grant that credibility to books that address the global-warming issue head-on - even if they are used as textbooks in courses on this topic.



2010-10-07 01:45:21
Michael Searcy


I agree with Bob that the existence of the scientific consensus is far too important an argument to casually yield it based on either the false accusations surrounding "Climategate" or the simple, "Science is not based on consensus," mantra.

I do think the public is largely unaware of the sheer magnitude of agreement within the scientific community particularly on the foundational aspects of climate change theory.  They hear references to Climategate or the IPCC and think that those encompass the totality of the scientific community, when we all know this is far from reality, which is precisely why I put together the consensus guide document referenced in the other thread.

Even if the accusations surrounding Climategate were found to be partly true, it would be like dismissing the entire free market / capitalistic system based solely on the actions of the likes of Kenneth Lay and Bernie Madoff.

My fear is that by NOT discussing the consensus, it (1) diminishes its existence and relevancy and (2) lends undue credence to the false perception of a widescale scientific opposition to the theory.