Updated June 8
After spending years “discussing” climate change with the deniers I have found there are certain phrases they use over and over. These phrases have no real value, but work to denigrate scientific evidence in order to make their own claims seem more valid. This is very much in-line with what I said about how global warming denial is equivalent to racism. If you can’t elevate yourself, then try to lower the opposition. I showed in my book, Undeniable: Dialogues on Global Warming, many instances of how they simply ignore the scientific evidence. And, I have the $10,000 and $1000 challenges, offering the deniers a free-hand (literally free) to prove their claims, which none of them have even attempted. The reason they haven’t taken the challenges is because there is no science to support them and their silence is proof of that.
So, for the sake of the record, I thought I would make a list of denial speak – those phrases deniers use when they don’t have anything to support their claims. I will update this list as I identify more denial speak in the future.
Talking Points – This is one of the favorite phrases deniers like to use when climate scientists produce facts and scientific evidence. By using this statement, the deniers are attempting to just brush off the evidence. The implication is that what you (the advocate) are saying is old news and we don’t need to discuss it anymore. They normally pull this one out when they really don’t know what they are talking about. They can’t argue the science, so they just dismiss it.
Liberal – This is an attempt to politicize the issue. They are trying to make it look like anyone that supports the science must be in league with Obama. If you are not one of Obama’s supporters, then you have to reject global warming and all of the science behind it, or you become a ‘liberal.’ Neat circular argument that has no basis in reality. What about all of those people that aren’t liberals and follow the science? The denier argument immediately falls apart.
Natural Cycle – The argument here goes like this: There were warming cycles in the past. We are in a warming cycle. The warming cycles in the past were natural. Therefore, this warming cycle is natural. To see how false this is, consider this equivalent argument that uses the same false logic: Pneumonia kills people. Gunshot wounds kill people. Pneumonia is a naturally occurring disease. Therefore, gunshot wounds are a naturally occurring disease. I think you can see just how deceptive their argument is. But, it is very effective and I run across lots of people that fall for it.
Plenty of Refereed Papers – This is used when deniers have no supporting science and claim that, in fact, there really is lots of science to support them (see my comments above about my two challenges). Here is the real test when they make this claim – tell them to produce these ‘plenty’ of papers and let’s see just how many papers there are that support the denier claims. And, make sure they come from mainstream scientific journals and not one of those journals set up by the deniers for the purpose of publishing their own papers.
China And India Are Worse Than We Are – This is a weak misdirection on the part of deniers. Since they can’t win on science and facts, they change the topic of conversation and make it look like climate science isn’t real because someone else is a bigger polluter than we are. What parent hasn’t heard this argument in some form? “But, Mom! Johnny’s doing it!”
Climate Scientist Grants Depend On Finding Global Warming – This is one they pull out to try and deflect criticism of the fact that deniers are funded by the fossil fuel industry and other vested parties with the directive to undermine climate science. By trying to paint climate scientists with the same brush, they are trying to attack the credibility of the scientists. Climate scientists receive grants to do research on the climate. There is going to be climate with, or without, global warming. Their grants do not depend on finding global warming. And, note that under the Bush administration, global warming findings were discouraged.
Scientist In The 1970s Were Predicting A New Ice Age – What they are saying is that scientists were wrong in the 70s, therefore they are wrong today. This claim is not only false, but irrelevant. No, scientists in the 70s were not predicting a new ice age. That is something the news media said. This claim has been debunked many times over. But, so what if they did? We have learned a tremendous amount about the climate since the 70s. What we know today and the data we have available is way beyond anything scientists had 40 years ago. Let me ask you this, if you had cancer today, would you ignore the advice of your doctor simply because doctors in the 70s didn’t know what doctors know today?
If You Knew Anything About Science – This one is near the top of my favorites. This is a classic example of someone patiently waiting until they have 10% of the information before boldly jumping to the wrong conclusion. What deniers are doing with this phrase is characterizing themselves as the scientific authority and you (the global warming advocate) clearly do not have any scientific knowledge. If you did, you would agree with the denier because he is obviously the scientific authority. They usually pull this one out when someone cites solid scientific evidence supporting global warming. Since you do not know anything about science, that evidence you produced has no value.
Climate Alarmism – This is used by deniers in an attempt to downplay the consequences of global warming. If they can convince people that there are no bad consequences of climate change, then there is no reason to do anything. This statement is applied any time someone discusses what climate change will mean to us, not only in the distant future, but even today. If people realize that global warming is affecting them right now, making their lives worse and costing them money they will be more likely to believe the scientists and demand action be taken. Deniers want to prevent that from happening.
Belief In Climate Change Is A Religion – This is an attempt to make it sound like scientists blindly follow some secret ‘creed’ and believe whatever the high priest is telling us. The fact is, climate science is just that – science. Scientists will go where the science takes us. There is no ‘believing’ or ‘faith’ in science. Science is what it is and that is independent of anything people think or do. You either understand it or not, accept it or reject it. There is no alternative. The science today is the same science that existed before there was anyone here to understand it. And, when we are all gone, the science will still be the same. The only thing we can do is try to understand it and to learn what we can. And, if you don’t understand it or accept it, it will still be the same. Climate scientists are merely studying science in an attempt to unravel the mysteries and then report what they have found to share with others. It is unfortunate that deniers reject the science, but it is still the same regardless.
I will keep my eyes open for new additions to the list.