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.

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4 thoughts on “Denialist – the sly ad hominem”

  1. Okay, different part of this debate and something to think about:

    I went to University of Florida. I send them money. They send me a publication about different things that happen at the school. Most of it I skim and note and toss in recycle. HOWEVER:

    I am one of the folks for whom the jury is still out on whether or not the current warming trend is caused by man or not. I suspect not and, without trying, I am coming across good evidence that supports my viewpoint. In the publication that UF sends me they talk about the Anthropology department finding an ancient, giant constrictor snake in one of the equitorial regions. (Let me get this off my chest – EEEWWW!!!) I hate snakes, but the article was short and I read it anyway. The vertibrae found would have belonged to a snake FOUR TIMES larger than the largest snake we have now. (Again EEEWWW!!!) The only way such a snake could have existed would be if the weather was roughly ten degrees warmer (at the equator) than it currently is. This would point to a COOLING trend in the earth’s weather, NOT to a warming trend.

    As I said, the jury is still out folks. I think it behooves us to minimize our impact on the planet but I do not expect to need to move inland any time soon. (I’m on the coast in Florida, for those who don’t know, and, yes, if the ice-caps melt, my house will be under water.)

  2. Question: for those of us already overflowing with alphabet soup, what is GCR? you gave the definition of AGW in the first paragraph but didn’t define GCR. 🙁 I won’t ask about the acronyms Brad went into…

  3. I was surprised to discover that the proponents of AGW deny the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. Or at least deny them in the sense they claim there is no evidence the MWP or the LIA were anything more than localized conditions, and therefore those eras are irrelevant to their AGW models of global climate change.

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