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The D-word

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I posted this over at wottsupwiththatblog and thought I’d add it here as well.

Update: There is a good conversation going on there so just go there instead :)

 

One of my problems with “denier” is that it is often used with reference to policy instead of science. We might agree on the observational data, the theory of GHGs and maybe even the impacts, but not on the solutions. I don’t think people who advocate for adaptation over mitigation can be considered a denier.

In fact I don’t think anyone who has a good deal of knowledge about climate science can be called a denier. Some just have different interpretations of the data. Is Nicola Scafetta a denier? I don’t think so.

Technical speaking, in my opinion, there are many climate science deniers. They are the Joe six-packs who reject the science because “that’s what you do as a conservative” – “climate science is just propaganda for the liberal elite”, etc. If you are unwilling to learn about climate science and reject it out of hand, then yes, you are a denier. This definition, which I believe to be the most accurate, doesn’t include any significant actors in the climasphere.

Unfortunately when “denier” is used, it is almost always a form of reification. “Denier”, “Sceptic”, “Warmist”, “Alarmist” are ambiguous terms that cannot be used to form a statement (i.e.: “alarmists are exaggerating” or “deniers can’t think”) without it being fallacious. Scientists, of all people, should avoid reification in their discourse as it shows a lack of critical thinking.

I avoid using all these words. I think it is much easier to say “people who advocate for mitigation”, “people who don’t think action on climate change is necessary” or whatever the context requires. It may take more words but it is clear, follows logic and maybe best of all – it’s polite!

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