Sunday, December 08, 2013


Agnotology  is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data  -- and the Warmists are very shrill in saying that skeptics do that  -- e.g. here -- so I thought it is time I mentioned it.

There is an excellent and thorough rebuttal of the Warmist claims here, focusing on the Warmist claims just mentioned.  The paper is behind a paywall but is a great read if you do have access to the whole thing.  I reproduce below the abstract and a paragraph I particularly like.  The old 97% consensus claim has been thoroughly debunked many times but it is worth noting that the claim is unscientific in the first place

Climate Consensus and ‘Misinformation’: A Rejoinder to Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change

By David R. Legates, Willie Soon, William M. Briggs & Christopher Monckton of Brenchley


Agnotology is the study of how ignorance arises via circulation of misinformation calculated to mislead. Legates et al. (Sci Educ 22:2007–2017, 2013) had questioned the applicability of agnotology to politically-charged debates. In their reply, Bedford and Cook (Sci Educ 22:2019–2030, 2013), seeking to apply agnotology to climate science, asserted that fossil-fuel interests had promoted doubt about a climate consensus. Their definition of climate ‘misinformation’ was contingent upon the post-modernist assumptions that scientific truth is discernible by measuring a consensus among experts, and that a near unanimous consensus exists. However, inspection of a claim by Cook et al. (Environ Res Lett 8:024024, 2013) of 97.1 % consensus, heavily relied upon by Bedford and Cook, shows just 0.3 % endorsement of the standard definition of consensus: that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. Agnotology, then, is a two-edged sword since either side in a debate may claim that general ignorance arises from misinformation allegedly circulated by the other. Significant questions about anthropogenic influences on climate remain. Therefore, Legates et al. appropriately asserted that partisan presentations of controversies stifle debate and have no place in education.

And a paragraph:

As Legates et al. (2013) had argued, the philosophy of science allows no role for head-count statistics. Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations, (circa 350 B.C.), codified the argument from consensus, later labeled by the medieval schoolmen as the argumentum ad populum or head-count fallacy, as one of the dozen commonest logical fallacies in human discourse. Al-Haytham, the eleventh-century philosopher of science who is credited as the father of the scientific method, wrote that ‘‘the seeker after truth’’ (i.e., the scientist) places no faith in mere consensus, however venerable. The English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley (1866) wrote ‘‘The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such…For him, skepticism is the highest of duties, blind faith the one unpardonable sin.’’

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

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