Excellent comment from the Bishop Hill blog

By Commentor Pa Annoyed in reply to Cedric Katesby, discussing the comparison between the Creation/Evolution debate and the AGW debate:

“It starts with a problem. The creationists don’t have any support in the scientific community. That’s a problem. They can’t get any real traction in the peer-reviewed literature. This is a PR problem. Not a science problem.”

No, this argument is not about science, it’s about authority.

The scientific problem with Creationism is that they don’t have any good technical arguments, and their own version of events is inconsistent, incomplete, and provably wrong. The problem is not that they don’t have scientific backing or authority.

It’s a fundamental failure on the part of some of the evolutionary biologists. Rather than explaining evolution in terms of evidence and experiment, in terms of mechanisms and subtle details and correcting misunderstandings, instead they were lazy and used the argument “all scientists believe in evolution, therefore you should too.” This was incredibly stupid, and a fundamental betrayal of science. Instead of teaching science by teaching science, they used Argument from Authority.

And by doing so, they handed the entire debate on a silver platter to the Creationists, because religion is an expert at Argument from Authority.

As it happens, there are extremely good and very convincing arguments for evolution, and against Creationism. But you wouldn’t know that from the way most evolutionists conduct the debate in public.

The climatologists are making exactly the same error – using Argument from Authority rather than teaching the Science – but the difference is that they don’t have the good arguments to back it up. All they’ve got are the claims to authority, and the support of the political elite.

Climate sceptics mostly talk about technical arguments (with an admittedly wide range of technical competency), and the believers respond with “consensus”, “peer review”, “experts”, the “thousands of IPCC climate scientists” and similar empty propaganda. It’s not even true. Consensus has often been wrong, peer review is more superficial than claimed, many of the experts are not, and the IPCC thousands are a misleading deception.

The lists of sceptical scientists are an explicit response to these misleading claims, themselves unsupported by actual surveys or other evidence. But they’re not an argument we place any weight on ourselves.

The problem is arguments from authority in general. And while the AGW-believers rely on it in such great degree themselves, your comparison bears no weight.”


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