Really Sciency

Visit my other blog 'Really Sciency' looking at Climate Science and its portrayal, misrepresentation and denial in the media.

Friday, 29 July 2011

There is No Consensus! – Yeah, I know.

The old climate canard that there is No Scientific Consensus on Climate Change appeared in Paul Hudson’s blog but this is an oft used tactic that I simply do not understand the significance off. 

'Consensus' must be used with a different meaning than I suppose because I can't see what is gained by going on about by denying the 'consensus'. I get the basic idea that if you can construct a straw man such as ‘climate scientists claim the science is settled’ you can then easily show that it isn’t and insist that a scientific debate should exist. 

However science is not done by consensus, but by research and evidence. There is always more research that needs to be done. But there must come a point when the majority of those researching and publishing in a particular field agree the basic science (in this case that GHGs cause warming and more GHGs will cause more warming). This has happened to such an extent that every national institute and academy of science representing the wide spectrum of disciplines researching AGW make very specific statements about the science. If ‘consensus’ means ‘majority’ I think it is fair to say that there is a consensus on the basic science.

Of course science that is thought of as settled could be over turned by a single piece of credible research but it is only rational to base any actions or policies on what the science currently suggests, not what we hope it might do sometime in the future.

But what I really don’t get is who are these AGW accepting people that apparently frequently state that the "science is settled"? Who is the original person who has the authority to speak for the climate science community and anyone else who accepts its conclusions? Perhaps some have said something like it at some time but in what context? I would think it can only be in terms of a majority of those doing the research, reaching some broad conclusion about the basics but that can be applied to any scientific endeavour – it isn’t specific to climate science.

The only time I see it used is when those who deny some aspects of the science tell me that those who accept that science believe this to be true. I doubt very much if many let alone the majority of researching scientists – in any scientific discipline – would say such a thing. Certainly not any scientific group I know off. Would suggesting that it is really only used by AGW skeptic groups as a Straw Man argument sound paranoid? If anyone knows its true origins I would be interested to find out.

In any case it is extremely unlikely to have ever been used by any someone qualified to represent the scientific community en mass nor in the context that the science is really settled. If it or similar has ever been used I suspect it was used by a politician to promote some policy. In any case it certainly isn’t a valid argument to use against the science.

The unbelieveable thing is that whole web sites have evolved based on this straw man fallacy;
No Consensus.

No Frakking Consensus

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