Guest opinion by Leo Goldstein
One of the most popular alarmist arguments is likening the “consensus climate scientists” to medical doctors. For example, this essay on “climate denial” from Andrew Winston at medium.com took part in the bashing of recently hired climate skeptic Brett Stevens at the NYT, saying:
Imagine your doctor tells you that you have dangerously high cholesterol and blocked arteries. She says you may drop dead soon. [Note: Based on comments/questions, I should clarify here. By “doctor”, I mean the entire medical establishment. So imagine you got not just a “second opinion,” but 100 opinions…and 97 say the same thing].You might have four basic reactions based on two dimensions, belief (or doubt) in the basic facts/science, and whether you commit to action or delay.
Refutation of this fallacy is confounded by the fact that there are two distinct problems: miscommunication of science and the intentional corruption of science. The former one has persisted for over 30 years while the latter one became noticeable in the late 90’s and has been growing ever since.
Most climate alarmists’ knowledge of science comes from TV shows like “The Big Bang Theory.” But the differences between the relationships they have with medical doctors and the ones they have with putative climate scientists can be easily explained even to them.
1. A medical doctor is a highly-qualified professional. Medical doctors must successfully complete a medical school, spend 3-7 years in residency actually treating patients, and be licensed by a state medical board composed mostly of proven doctors.
In contrast, anybody can call him- or herself a scientist and speak on behalf of science. There are no licensing or certification requirements. Enviro-activists and certain media personalities have been abusing this freedom for decades. Unfortunately, a terminal degree and affiliation with a formerly prestigious university or institution cannot serve as evidence that a person is a scientist.
2. A medical doctor is accountable. A doctor would lose patients or be fired if his or her advice isn’t sound. A doctor can also be sued by a dissatisfied patient. In a number of cases, doctors have been indicted.
A putative climate scientist can hardly even be criticized. Remember how a mere investigation of the misconduct by Michael Mann caused pandemonium. News media shouted about infringement of academic freedom (although the Constitution does not provide for any academic privileges, and the Article I, Section 9 might be interpreted to explicitly prohibit grant of such privileges). Nevertheless, perceived academic immunity is widely abused by con scientists and leftist operatives in universities and research institutions.
3. Patients have direct bidirectional communication with their doctor. “Direct” means that the patient usually speaks face-to-face with the doctor. “Bi-directional” means the patient can ask the doctor questions and get answers. Very few accept TV personalities’ talk as real medical advice.
The so-called “climate science” is usually communicated to the public in third person point of view like “The scientists say that …”, “Majority of peer-reviewed articles conclude …”, and even “Models show that …” These used to be typical introductory clauses before statements about alleged climate dangers. Recently, climate alarmists dropped those qualifying statements together with any pretense for honesty. They are actors, media personalities, politicians, and other people who are as far from science as one can be. Communication with “climate science communicators” is always one-sided. When faced with non-rehearsed questions they assuredly fail, causing laughs among climate realists.
4. One takes initiative to seek a doctor, rather than the other way around. Any unsolicited email offering a medical procedure or a wonder pill is sent straight to the spam folder.
But climate alarmism promoters always come unsolicited! That started with James Hansen, who made a front page article in the NY Times in 1981 while the possibility of future harm from carbon dioxide release was being considered by the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee. After that, every time real scientists rejected alarm in scientific proceedings, the environmentalists invited themselves to the media and shouted about impending catastrophe that could only be avoided if we repented and did whatever they told us to do. Then, they chased out most real scientists from climate-related research and declared that there is scientific consensus in favor of alarmism.
5. Doctors do not demand patients to trust them. They earn their trust.
Climate alarmists demand trust because they have earned mistrust.
I would like to finish by paraphrasing Edmund Burke:
Alleged science looks for defense from Washington when it fails in the real world.