*by Wes Moore
Naomi Oreskes, a history and science professor at the University of California, says doubters from within the scientific community are intentionally keeping established scientific facts—like global warming—from being accepted by the public.[i]
In her book, Merchants of Doubt, which she co-authored with fellow historian Erik Conway, she claims these nonconformists “sap convictions by endlessly questioning data, dismissing experimental innovation, stressing uncertainties and clamouring for more research.”[ii]
According to Oreskes, this strategy started years ago when some “professional science skeptics” were used by big tobacco companies to cast doubt on the evidence connecting smoking to cancer.
Now this “clever and effective” approach is being used to discredit global warming. “The tactic has been so successful that climate denialism is now firmly anchored in the higher reaches of US politics.”[iii]
Oreskes not only blames hypercritical scientists, but also the media. Taking a clear shot at Fox News, she criticizes outlets who think “‘balance’ meant giving equal weight to opposing scientific views—even if one opinion was backed only by a small minority in the face of massive evidence to the contrary.”[iv]
She even accuses these doubters of taking payoffs and skewing science in favor of political and ideological agendas, or just plain narcissism.[v]
Does Oreskes have a point?
In the first place, I find it deeply ironic when the secular scientific community complains that their claims are not being accepted while they control every public school and university in the country and nearly every media outlet available.
If they can’t convince a captive audience, then maybe their views should be challenged more vehemently by scientists and the public alike.
Furthermore, there is good reason to question the conclusions of many popular scientific theories, like global warming. The claims of global warming propagandists are hardly as “established” as Oreskes would like us to believe. Here are a few reasons to be a “merchant of doubt”:
1. Only 50 years ago, the idea that human activity could affect global weather was laughed at. Back in the 1960’s, Reid Bryson, considered by many to be the father of modern climatology, “stood before the American Association for the Advancement of Science and presented a paper saying human activity could alter climate. ‘I was laughed off the platform for saying that,’ he told Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News.”[vi]
2. The amount of impact humans have on global temperature is negligible. According to Christopher C. Horner, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “While SUVs and power plants garner the most media and environmentalist attention, combustion emissions contribute only 2 percent of greenhouse gases currently keeping our atmosphere habitable.”[vii]
He goes on to say, ““Yes, carbon dioxide acts as a greenhouse gas…. Yes, burning coal, oil, and natural gas gives off CO2. But to what extent is human activity responsible for the current warming? Probably very little.”
3. Even the “facts” of global climate science can be manipulated to manufacture the desired public response. In A Pocket Guide to Global Warming, Answers in Genesis points out how hurricane data was “selectively sorted”:
“Even ‘facts’ need to be qualified. For example, NASA has reported that the average number of major hurricanes (categories 4 and 5) has doubled since 1970. But this is ‘selective data sorting.’
“When you calculate the average of all hurricanes, you find much less of an increase. In fact, the year 2007 saw a decrease in hurricanes. So NASA’s ‘fact’ may be true, but it is not the whole truth.”[viii]
4. The “Climategate” e-mails demonstrate the suspect nature of climate research and reporting. A host of e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit of the School of Environmental Science at the University of East Anglia were hacked and made public in the late 2000s. Some of these e-mails displayed a concerted effort to control data the public received.
Regarding these e-mails, George Avery of the Science and Public Policy Institute wrote, “Recent revelations of e-mails from the government-sponsored Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia reveal a pattern of data suppression, manipulation of results, and efforts to intimidate journal editors to suppress contradictory studies that indicate that scientific misconduct has been used intentionally to manipulate a social consensus to support the researchers’ advocacy of addressing a problem that may or may not exist.”[ix]
In spite of Oreskes’ claim, researchers and the public in general are wise to challenge the conclusions of scientists in areas such as climate change. The data itself and the documented tactics of some who advocate these positions give us all good reason.
If the scientific community is so concerned about its image, and the growing distrust of the average citizen to its claims, perhaps it should stop whining about the “doubters” and take a long hard look at itself.
[i] Jerome Cartillier, “Science under fire from ‘merchants’ of doubt’: US historian,” originally reported by AFP, accessed on Yahoo! News, accessed 30 March 2012; available at http://news.yahoo.com/science-under-fire-merchants-of-doubt-us-historian-190044894.html.
[vi] “The Faithful Heretic: A Wisconsin Icon Pursues Tough Questions,” Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News, May 2007.
[vii] Christopher C. Horner, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism, page. 66.
[viii] A Pocket Guide to Global Warming: A scientific and biblical expose of climate change, Answers in Genesis, 2008, page 18.
[ix] George Avery, Science & Public Policy Institute, “Scientific Misconduct: The Manipulation of Evidence for Political Advocacy in Health Care and Climate Policy,” Sept. 9 2010.
*Wes Moore is a conservative Christian author and speaker, and the founder of Evidence America, an apologetics and evangelism training ministry. Wes is the author of Forcefully Advancing, a book designed to equip the average Christian to engage the lost; The Maker, a futuristic apologetics novel; and The Spiritual Top 50, a non-fiction apologetics book designed to help Christians answer the questions their lost friends are asking. You can learn more about him at www.wesmoorenow.com and https://www.trustedapologetics.com/!
Is God a she? Why does God let us suffer? Was the Jesus story borrowed from other cultures?
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