Discovery Institute Praises Global Warming Deniers

EVER since November of last year, when we posted Discovery Institute: The Mask Falls Away and described the “vindication of all kooks” doctrine, we’ve been writing about the peculiar convergence of creationism and climate-change denial. All our articles on that can be found here: Creationism and Global Warming. Lately, the mainstream media has also taken notice of this odd coupling.

To no one’s surprise, the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) continue to be in full ClimateGate frenzy. Now the Discoveroid blog has another post on this bizarre phenomenon. It’s by Casey Luskin, everyone’s favorite creationist: When Is it Appropriate to Challenge the “Consensus”? Here are some excerpts from what Casey says, with bold font added by us:

Discovery Institute senior fellow Jay Richards has an excellent piece at The American titled, When to Doubt a Scientific ‘Consensus’, that gives 12 criteria to help us decide whether it’s appropriate to doubt a particular “consensus”.

That must be a fabulously useful article. Richards, besides being a Discoveroid “senior fellow,” (full-blown creationist), is also an author of The Privileged Planet. At that site, his biographical information says he has a “Ph.D. with honors in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminar.” Let’s read on from Casey’s post:

Richards of course notes that the very term “consensus” is often used to shut down scientific debate — but that hardly means the scientific “consensus” is necessarily wrong. Indeed, some wrongly challenge the consensus when it ought to be affirmed.

Careful, Casey. Don’t let that notion trouble you. We continue:

Richards threads this needle carefully, explaining why we must carefully examine the scientific, sociological, rhetorical, and political dynamics of a debate to determine if the consensus deserves our assent, or our skepticism: [Several paragraphs from Richards' article are then given, which we'll skip.]

In our humble opinion, only the first of those criteria — the science — is worth examining in deciding if the “consensus” is presenting valid science, but Casey likes to throw everything into the pot. There’s so much to rant about that way. Here’s more:

Many of Richards’ criteria are clearly applicable to the debate over intelligent design (ID) and neo-Darwinism. For example, Darwin’s defenders make heavy use of personal attacks, and Richards suggests we ought to consider skepticism “When ad hominem attacks against dissenters predominate.”

Right, it’s the Darwin defenders who use personal attacks, never the Discoveroids. Hey, Casey — over at the next desk there’s a guy named David Klinghoffer. We’ve cataloged his gentle criticisms of Darwin on numerous occasions. The last was here: Darwin, Occultism, & Terrorism.

Casey then copies several more paragraphs from Richards’ article, after which he says this:

Indeed, this criterion [something Casey quoted from Richards] is highly applicable to the debate over Darwinism. Darwin’s defenders often refuse to recognize that Darwin-skeptics have nuanced positions, affirming that evolution has occurred (and continues to occur) occur but typically doubting the importance of the causes being given, and often doubting the scale of evolution possible from material processes alone.

Oh, we’re well aware that there are “nuanced” varieties of Oogity Boogity. All supernatural teachings develop schisms — and why shouldn’t they? It’s not as if they were grounded in verifiable evidence.

Anyway, we don’t learn all that much from this particular Discoveroid posting — except one thing: As long as there are climate-change deniers, the Discoveroids will be able to take comfort that they’re not the only ones who are being laughed at by the scientific mainstream.

But things will change if the climate-change skeptics should somehow be shown to be right. In that case, Casey and the Discoveroids will lose their comrades and remain in the wilderness, their only companions being flat-earthers and devotees of The Time Cube.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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6 responses to “Discovery Institute Praises Global Warming Deniers

  1. The DI is once again confusing what it does with actual science.

    For both climate change and evolution, the real scientific arguments are found in the peer reviewed literature; what goes on on web pages, in newspapers, public debates, courtroom hearings, trade books, etc… is just commentary.

    Scientists understand this, and because of it there are no ad hominem attacks in the literature. The prose tends to be, um, very dry.

    But the DI doesn’t participate in these scientific arguments. So instead they play the concern troll about the commentary.

  2. Emissions from the Discovery Institute are hazardous to the intellectual environment.

  3. I’ve always said that scientists are their own worse enemies. We use big words and are rarely funny. We split hairs and waffle.

    We need better PR.

  4. Gabriel Hanna

    I don’t think the problem is the way we talk about things. That’s not been the problem with climate science, for example–the problem is that the people making the policies need harder numbers than the science can give them, in order to justify the sacrifices involved. Add to that a small group of people dedicated to muddying the waters; who won’t be pinned down on what’s going on with the climate, but want to convince you that the science is somehow wrong.

    I fervently hope that what I never do becomes politically controversial. I shudder to think of endlessly answering FOIA requests for stuff done by people who probably moved on to another job years ago. If ever I am a principla investigator, that’s the first thing we’re going to nail down in my group.

    Anyway, people want answers, and the kinds of answers science provides don’t satisfy most people.

    I don’t know how often I’ve heard this, usually from chemistry students. Everything you learn about chemistry in the freshman year, turns out to be “wrong” in the sophomore year, and that turns out to be “wrong” in the junior year.

    Strictly speaking, though, it’s all “wrong”. What you learn first is accurate enough for most things. Then you dig a little deeper. If you dig all the way you find yourself doing physics.

    That’s how scientific knowledge is. It’s about a model of reality that’s good enough to predict the behavior you’re interested in. It’s why we teach Newtonian mechanics in school even though it’s “wrong”. It’s why we say the earth is “round”.

    C. S. Lewis has said, in more than one place, that if you have got a sum wrong you have to go back, find your mistake, and start fresh from there. J. B. S. Haldane pointed out that for solving mathematical equations this is not true; you can start out wrong and keep working, and get as close to the right answer as you wish. Many equations cannot be solved in any other way. I think this exchange illustrates the scientific conception of truth vs the ordinary kind.

  5. Gadfly: There has to be a joke in there somewhere about splitting hares and waffles but reading creationist twaddle tends to break my brain so I’m temporarily incoherent.

  6. No one has any reaction to “the syllogism that was a foundation of Western civilization”?