How deniers lie 8: Assertions of incompetence

By November 19, 2017Australian Politics, Science

The assertion of incompetence is implicit in geologists such as Plimer and Carter1 maintaining that all 600+ climate scientists party to the IPCC reports2 have made some glaringly obvious errors in their reasoning that only these self-appointed climate scientists can explain to them.

An analysis published in 2010, showed that in scientific papers published, those for which the authors demonstrated an ‘unconvinced’ attitude were less expert in the field and were less likely to be trained in climate science3. One of the authors of the analysis stated that: “A physicist or a geologist with a Ph.D. is a scientist, but not a climate scientist and thus their opinions on complex climatological issues are not likely to be expert opinions”. He added: Cardiologists, for example, don’t prescribe chemotherapies for cancer, nor do oncologists claim expertise in heart surgery – they are all doctors, of course, but not experts outside a narrow speciality”3. If you needed cardiac surgery, would you prefer to be operated upon by a highly trained cardiothoracic surgeon, or your local GP who is not trained in major surgery?

One of my favourite psychological effects is the one named after messrs Dunning and Kruger; the Dunning-Kruger Effect. This states that those who are unskilled tend to overestimate their abilities, while those who are highly skilled tend to underestimate their abilities. This is rampant among climate change deniers, and one of its most common manifestations is geologists asking if climate scientists are aware that the climate has changed in the past4. Of course they do; that is how they know the climate is changing much faster than it ever has. If these deniers would actually read the scientific literature, they would see that climate scientists quite commonly refer to past climate. In fact, it is its own field of study, and is termed palaeoclimatology.




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