Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Climate skeptics or denialists? The distinction

"Skeptics seek answers and scrutinize arguments before accepting the current state of scientific knowledge as fact. Denialists dismiss sound arguments, solid data, and experimental evidence in favour of propositions that have long been shown to be flawed.

The world's pre-eminent scientific journal, Nature, therefore refers to those who cling to long-debunked pseudo-scientific conspiracy theories while dismissing the findings of thousands of peer-reviewed studies by their true label — denialists.

The potentially devastating consequences of denialism are brought into sharp focus by the sad history of South Africa's AIDS policies. Despite having one of the world's highest rates of HIV infections, the government of President Thabo Mbeki went against consensus scientific opinion 10 years ago and declined anti-retroviral drugs, preferring instead to treat AIDS with garlic and beetroot. Politicians even accused a leading South African immunologist of defending Western science and its "racist ideas" for his insistence on scientific treatment methods. According to a recent peer-reviewed Harvard study, this denialism cost the lives of more than 330,000 South Africans.

For that, President Mbeki and his associates are now held in richly deserved contempt around the world.

Precisely the same fate awaits denialists of climate change."
- Stephan Lewandowsky on the Australian Broadcasting Network Drum; quote cribbed from Eli

Also via Eli:
"[Climate change is] the most troubling environmental and political challenge the world has ever faced. Those who deny the biophysical facts of the world would deny the reality of the law of gravity. The product of such denials is systematic progress in destroying this civilization. If one wants a view of where that process leads, take a quick look at Haiti at the moment."

"The Nazis attacked the Jewish physics of Einstein and quantum mechanics, the Soviets rejected Gregor Mendel’s insights in genetics in favor of the fantasies promulgated by a party hack named Lysenko, and the Anglo-Saxon Corporatist Right... has launched an attack on chemistry and atmospheric physics. ...

So enjoy the emotional satisfaction that the consumption of mass quantities of talking points gives you– it increases the likelihood that someday your grandchildren...
- source

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