Steve Netwriter: skeptic or denier?

The river Nile

What should those who refuse to acknowledge evidence that the earth is warming be called?  Skeptics?  Deniers?

Mike Kaulbars has thoroughly tackled this question here with an excellent collection of his essays on the difference between skeptics and deniers on his Greenfrye blog.  (also look at his “about” page here – Mike I feel your frustration!)

But back to Steve Netwriter:


No name calling, no quotes from authorities, no disrespect, etc. Just a respectful exchange of evidence. Like they do it in a courtroom.

That’s pretty rich coming from an author who uses “denier” in just about every post.

I suggest you stop first, then you might get some respect.

Can you please tell me what exactly the “deniers” are supposed to be denying.
I’ll help you out with a definition of “denial”:

Denial is a defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that is too painful to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

Here is a small sample of what Mike Kaulbars has to say about the difference between skeptics and deniers (I recommend reading his full post here):

I am reminded with some frequency that the term “Denier” is offensive. I am aware of that. Why does no one raise the question of whether the term is accurate? Shouldn’t that be the real question?

Here are the terms that I think might describe the range of doubt we encounter:

  • Naive
  • Doubters
  • Agnostics
  • Contrarians
  • Skeptics
  • Deniers

Skeptics are those who acknowledge the scientific evidence, but thoughtfully maintain doubt based on some small evidence or logic that, though meagre, is nonetheless reality based. They are honourable people who push science forward through their constant, reasoned questioning and thoughtful critiques of the dominant paradigm.

Skepticism is a disciplined intellectual activity based on facts. Just what it means in the modern sense is explored intelligently at places like the Skeptics Society and here. No doubt there are many more, but those give you a sense.

By contrast those who distort and lie (see “Debunking Nonsense” at right, and every post on this blog), who demonstrate no understanding of the science, who have no evidence or rational logic for their position but persist in denying the very existence of the overwhelming scientific evidence, can only be called Deniers.

Mark Hoofnagle describes “What is Denialism” on his Denialism blog quite thoroughly; I cannot recommend his blog highly enough for the analysis of denalism.

So, far from being synonyms the terms describe two radically different groups. This point is made repeatedly  throughout the discussions of the issue. For eg here, and here, and here, and here, and here (you get the idea).

Johnny Rook even goes so far as to break down the Deniers into:

1) Plutocrats
2) Shills
3) Literate conservative/libertarian ideologues
4) The right-wing booboisie

“Denier” is an ugly and crude word to describe an ugly and crude behaviour.

Some argue that the term Denier should not be used as it puts the other person on the defensive. True enough, and good reason to never use the term carelessly or inaccurately.

But it should always be used when describing denial.

Also see this post by Mike and this one here;

rational folks have stopped pretending that the climate change Deniers are actually “skeptics”, anything but!

Skepticism, after all, is a rational, intellectual process that  involves critical analysis of the facts and reasoned doubt applied to all evidence and hypotheses.

“The key to skepticism is to continuously and vigorously apply the methods of science to navigate the treacherous straits between “know nothing” skepticism and “anything goes” credulity.”

In contrast, Climate change Deniers:

  • ignore the facts and evidence;
  • do not critically examine any evidence or hypotheses;
  • unquestionably embrace any counter proposal, no matter how transparently absurd or false.

Also see these definitions by naught101:

skeptic – Noun –

  1. Someone undecided as to what is true.
  2. Someone who habitually doubts accepted beliefs and claims presented by others, requiring strong evidence before accepting any belief or claim.

denier – Noun –

  1. Someone who denies something.

Steve Netwriter asked a while back for some info about AGW:

So I ask for a list of facts supported by overwhelming evidence that are being “denied”. Just saying “AGW” will not do. I require a detailed list of facts with supporting evidence.

Now I have a very simple question.

Where is the AGW?

All I see is a natural fluctuation.
To me the IPCC charts, which only go back about 1000 years, appear to mislead because they do not put the recent temperature fluctuations into context.
Surely one must put things into context. That is after all what Phil Jones, and Michael Mann et al keep repeating in reply to accusations about their emails.

So, I have simply put the IPCC charts into context.
And I repeat

Where is the AGW?

If you claim it is there, how can it be distinguished from the natural variations?

This again is at the heart of this debate, so I am sure you can answer that easily.

Thank you.

Where is the evidence for warming?  There are so many places to go.  Start here:

OK, now that we have established that the earth is indeed warming, why do scientists think most of the observed recent warming is being cause by human activities (e.g, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, industrial agriculture, etc)?   Because the hypothesis is supported by theory, our knowledge of climate dynamics, past relationships between forcing factors (solar cycles, CO2 conc., etc.) and climate (via paleo-climate records), and the very strong (undeniable) observed relationship between modern CO2 concentration (i.e., increases caused by humans) and temperature.

Does this large body of theory and evidence lead to 100% certainty?  Certainly not.  But it would be very hard to make a rationale, skeptical argument that there isn’t a strong likelihood that humans are in large part responsible for the recent (last ~ 100 years) warming on earth.

If one piece in this chain of evidence and logic were broken, I’d become skeptical myself.  I hope that happens.  Then I can get back to doing the basic science I love and to enjoying my vacation at the beach.

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