Denialist – the sly ad hominem

One thing I hate in debate is the scoundrel’s technique of the ad hominem. I have no troubles with people who disagree with me. Hell, most of my friends disagree with me on a number of issues. That is fine and dandy, but insults to the person making an argument is simply a tool of bullies.

In the current debates on climate change and if mankind is a major contributing factor in any clime change the charge of denier gets thrown at people who express doubt about man-made global warming.  This is really nothing more than a sly ad hominem attack. The most cultural known use of the term denier in political debates is of course for those who would deny that the Holocaust occurred during WWII. By referring to doubters of AGW (Anthropomorphic Global Warming) as deniers, supporters of AGW are trying to achieve to things.

The first is subliminally place doubters in the same emotional space to most people as deniers of the Holocaust. The second thing they are trying to do is establish AGW as a fact as firmly rooted in reality as the Holocaust itself.

The Holocaust is a fact. It is not a theory, it is not a hoax, it was the systematic murder of Jews, gays, Gypsies, and others by the NAZIs.

AGW is a hypothesis, it is not a fact. It’s not even a theory. In science a theory is a hypothesis that has withstood rigorous testing over an extended period of time. The Atomic Theory of matter is a theory, the Germ Theory of Disease is a theory, General Relativity is a theory. All of these started their scientific lives as a hypothesis and became theory as they proved themselves to be the best current description of how the world works.

The world is warming. I think there is enough evidence to support that statement. After all the Hudson River used to freeze solid enough that you could drag cannons across it and they used to hold winter fairs on the frozen Thames in England. Clearly we don’t get that cold anymore. That does not mean that AGW is true.

Mind you I am not saying that AGW is not true in the post. It might be the best hypothesis for describing the current climate and the apparent changes we are seeing, but it is not the only one. The Earth has been much cooler in the past and it has been much warmer in the past without any help from mankind at all. There are good and reasonable people – scientists and lay-people alike – who have serious questions about AGW. These people might be right, they might be wrong.

What is wrong is to call these people deniers as though they were apologist for Hitler, or flat earthers pretending we never went to the moon. Calling them names is nothing but an attack on the person. (I will grant you that not all people who questions AGW do so from a serious doubt of the science. There are many venal and frankly manipulative people who takes their positions purely out of the politics of the situation, but that applies to both sides.)

Show me facts. Show me testable experiments and simulations.

Do not call me a denier simply because I think the GCR hypothesis might explain thing as well as the AGW hypothesis.