We Defeat Them When We Win: The Failure of Evidence and Rhetoric

Having disagreed with Chris Mooney over this subject in the past, I’m pleasantly surprised to read this in a post about a quasi-former climate skeptic’s inability to debunk global warming (boldface mine):

So whatever “data” come out, hard core “skeptics” are unlikely to change; although more moderate skeptics (and it seems Muller may have been one of these) may prove much more flexible.

What this means is that it is really silly for journalists to be covering the Muller team work in some sort of naïve “will-this-change-the-debate” sort of way. It won’t change the debate. It is just fuel for the fire. No scientific result, of any kind, is going to “end” the global warming debate in the public arena (it ended long ago in the scientific arena).

Muller himself lends credence to this naivete in his Wall Street Journal oped: “Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate.”

This is the shocker:

Yeah, right. You want to cool the global warming debate? There is only one way to do it. It is called find a policy solution to the climate issue. At that point, the scientific debate becomes irrelevant.

The hard core “skeptics” still won’t buy it, of course. But they will have ceased to matter, even politically, and their audiences will move on.

Sadly, good ideas rarely succeed on their own without some form of political power behind them. In fact, bad ideas can gain widespread currency when promulgated by those with power. Good to see increasing recognition of this.

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