‘Never mind the quality, feel the width’: Skeptical message to Keith Kloor

We just saw our scientist friends at Realclimate publish a hostile book review of climate scientist Roy Spencer’ ‘The great global warming blunder’ just as a number of violent tornadoes hit his home state of Alabama, quickly followed by an assertion by the chief writer of that website that climate change must have ‘somehow’ affected these tornadoes. The timing of the publishing of the review was just sheer co-incidence? Hmmm…Hard to say ‘yes’, harder to say ‘no’ too.

With the latest political event, Richard North, in so many words, says the equivalent of the same ‘Hmmm…’ with respect to its timing. Is the evidence in, that proves Osama bin Laden’s death? Not yet. Does this lack of evidence prove that prove that he was not killed? Obviously not. Did the lack of evidence prevent the ‘news’ of his death from travelling around the world? Clearly not. Does the timing of this announcement seem a bit odd? In some ways, yes. Does the timing of the announcement, prove anything? Definitely not. Can that question however, be completely laid to rest? Definitely not, as well.

From the post, comes this small dose of realism that one can use to illustrate a small point to Keith Kloor (a systems justification practitioner with a perennial problem of understanding climate skepticism):

As thousands of journalists and commentators recycle exactly the same material, you just know this makes sense. Never mind the quality, feel the width. There is no way the media would be publishing this if it was not 100 percent true. And now, so many people have an investment in it being true that any alternative is not permitted.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how history is made.

Skepticism is not simply equal to an absence of trust or even belief, on occasion. Skepticism is when one reserves to oneself, the right to judge the quality and weight of evidence, as well the claims themselves that are made on such evidence. One reserves the right to withhold judgment till a time of one’s choosing. A lot of clever people saying something does not make it true, even if that something is true. Nor does it make it history, nor ‘science’ as well.

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4 comments

  1. omnologos

    An important distinction between a skeptic and a believer is also in the fact that the skeptic will be able to state what kind of evidence will change his/her mind. A believer by definition will stick to his/her original thought no matter what. Cue hockey sticks.

  2. Simon Hopkinson

    Time passes and pictures form. I no longer give Keith’s blog my time, and have unsubscribed from his feed. It was a sad day. While I’ll miss interacting with many warmies there (more, I’m sure, than they’ll miss me), it’s become all too obvious that Keith’s place is just an echo chamber. The pea that rattles around that drum is a very green and blinkered pea indeed. Keith cannot separate out the partisan political from the climate scientific, and anyone who is unable to at least do that really has a poor perspective of environmental sciences.

  3. Shub Niggurath

    I would have to agree, SH. There was a time, when I saw something at Collide-a-scape, but that was perhaps what I wanted to see.

    For instance, I remember a post where Kloor identified that “climate denialism is treated uniquely as part of of some larger conservative derangement syndrome”. Yet, just a few months down the line we have reached by a process of gradual transmogrification, a point where Kloor calls those who would so much as merely register a protest against the word “denier” as shedding “crocodile tears”.

    In other words, only an ‘enlightened few’ have the right, and the ability to recognize that the use of such terms as “deniers” is reproachable.

    It is sad that C-a-s has become the pea-rattling echo chamber where all one hears are the remonstrations of the Stalinist Football Club, and nothing more (a few heroic exceptions notwithstanding).

  4. Donna Laframboise

    Skepticism is when one reserves to oneself, the right to judge the quality and weight of evidence, as well the claims themselves that are made on such evidence. One reserves the right to withhold judgment till a time of one’s choosing. A lot of clever people saying something does not make it true, even if that something is true.

    Right on