Knowledge, Ignorance and Climate Change

By Dr. Tilak K. Doshi

N. Angel Pinillos, professor of philosophy at Arizona State University, opines in the New York Times about “what philosophy tells us about climate change sceptics”.

As his starting premise, he accepts the well-debunked “97% of scientists believe in climate change” meme. He then combines it with a Stanford poll that states that of those surveyed, the majority (61%) “overwhelmingly agree that the federal government needs to take significant action to curb global warming”. With an objective “97% consensus” and a survey of attitudes, Prof Pinillos constructs an argument that seems to suggest that climate change sceptics, most often conservatives, seems to suffer from some delusion of probabilities.

According to Prof Pinillos, climate sceptics “understand that 97 percent of scientists disagree with them, but they focus on the very tiny fraction of holdouts. As in the lottery case, this focus might be enough to sustain their skepticism. We have seen this pattern before. Anti-vaccine proponents, for example, aware that medical professionals disagree with their position, focus on any bit of fringe research that might say otherwise.”

This sleight of hand, comparing climate sceptics to anti-vaccine proponents focusing on “fringe research” seems a dead giveaway, even for a philosopher. Prof Pinillos goes on to cite “social psychology” literature to support the contention that “climate change deniers tend to espouse conservative views, which suggests that party ideology is partly responsible for these attitudes.”

Rather than launch into a fruitless general discussion on “party ideology”, lets agree on terms, as in all good philosophical inquiry: What does Prof Pinillos actually mean by “sceptic”? The 97% meme is ably brought to its essentials by Matt Ridley, a prominent “lukewarmer”:

· I am not claiming that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas; it is.

· I am not saying that its concentration in the atmosphere is not increasing; it is.

· I am not saying the main cause of that increase is not the burning of fossil fuels; it is.

· I am not saying the climate does not change; it does.

· I am not saying that the atmosphere is not warmer today than it was 50 or 100 years ago; it is.


· There is no consensus that climate change is going to be dangerous. Even the IPCC says there is a range of possible outcomes, from harmless to catastrophic. I’m in that range: I think the top of that range is very unlikely. But the IPCC also thinks the top of its range is very unlikely.

Perhaps no one informed Prof Pinillos, as Mr. Ridley points out, that the “supposed 97% consensus, based on a hilariously bogus study by John Cook, refers only to the proposition that climate change is real and partly man-made. Nobody has ever shown anything like a consensus among scientists for the proposition that climate change is going to be dangerous”.

One can paraphrase Mr. Ridley, as many other prominent sceptics, in the following arguments that have more or less been the standard sceptic’s (and not necessarily the optimist’s) position:

Most scientists would agree that the climate changes, and has done so for aeons. Many scientists would agree that man may have had something to do with current trends in climate. But few scientists agree on the relative roles of man versus natural variability. The latter include a large number of fundamental climate variables such as the tilt of the earth, its elliptical orbit around the sun, the sunspot cycle and its impact on cosmic waves and cloud formation on earth, atmospheric and ocean currents and tectonic perturbations, etc., that have been operating since the birth of the planet.

And even fewer scientists would agree that climate change is “dangerous” in any clear actionable sense, and that we need to go all out to curtail fossil fuels, change our lifestyles, “downsize” (or in the case of developing economics, to grow slower) and impose enormously costly anti-fossil fuel policies on the basis of an impending potential catastrophe which has known probabilistic outcomes and which can be credibly acted upon by rational policy wonks working for politicians of the day.

“The vaunted scientific consensus around climate change,” notes Daniel Sarewitz, (interestingly also a professor from Arizona State University) “applies only to a narrow claim about the discernible human impact on global warming. The minute you get into questions about the rate and severity of future impacts, or the costs of and best pathways for addressing them, no semblance of consensus among experts remains.” Nevertheless, as Daniel notes, climate models “spew out endless streams of trans-scientific facts that allow for claims and counterclaims, all apparently sanctioned by science, about how urgent the problem is and what needs to be done.”

The other leg of Prof Pinillos’ argument rests on reference to a July 2018 Stanford survey which supposedly conveys the widespread support of those surveyed for “a great deal or a lot of action” by the government to combat climate change. The same poll, it should be noted, finds that “just a bare majority, 51 percent, foresees a very serious problem to the United States if nothing is done to reduce global warming in the future”.

But if it is a question of surveys, then where does one place the 2018 New York Times survey which ranks “climate ‘worry” at the bottom of 18 reasons for not having kids? What about the Gallup poll in which Americans do not even mention global warming as a problem among over 30 problems cited? What about the 2016 UN global poll which surveys people’s greatest concerns, and which put climate change at the bottom of concerns ranging from education and jobs to health and honest government (and some 15 other concerns)?

Polls and surveys can be tricky to interpret. As social scientists and philosophers might well argue, and rightly so, the problems with cognitive dissonance and “talk is cheap” virtue-signalling incentives might suggest that we be more wary of opinion surveys and polls.

It is also odd to put more weight on a survey than on political events that happen around us on the global stage on a regular basis. “Putting your mouth where your money is” may seem more relevant to actual societal outcomes than hypothetical surveys of what people say they are willing to do.

Perhaps one only needs to remind Prof Pinillos about the widespread riots and mass actions by the “Yellow Vest” activists who have vowed to bring the French capital Paris to a standstill, prolonging their campaign of disruption to force President Emmanuel Macron to ease climate change-focused fuel taxes. Or perhaps he needs reminding that the first act of the new Ontario provincial government led by “Canada’s version of Donald Trump”, Doug Ford, was to “fight any efforts by the Federal government to impose a carbon tax on the people of Ontario in court”. Or perhaps we need to turn to Australia for the lesson provided by the Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull’s humiliating backdown over his efforts to seal Australia’s Paris Agreement pledges with actual legislation. He was ultimately forced to turn over leadership to his party’s conservative faction which called for higher investments in the country’s coal sector as well as energy policies to lower Australians’ electricity bills.

It may well be that people vote with their pocket-books, whatever those nice-sounding surveys might convey to inform one’s philosophical disposition. And it may well be that climate sceptics are not the products of “party ideology” and a distorted sense of probabilities. They may just be hard working scientists, working at competing hypotheses and aware always that “consensus” is not a scientific concept, it is a political one.

Dr. Tilak K. Doshi

The writer is a consultant in the energy sector, and is the author of “Singapore in a Post-Kyoto World: Energy, Environment and the Economy” published by the Institute of South-east Asian Studies (Singapore, 2015).

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November 30, 2018 6:14 pm

“· I am not claiming that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas; it is.” : correct but feeble.

“· I am not saying that its concentration in the atmosphere is not increasing; it is.” : correct.

“· I am not saying the main cause of that increase is not the burning of fossil fuels; it is.” : Nature produces 96% of the added CO2, much of it out of the oceans and undersea volcanoes. How do variations in this, driven by rising temperature, not drive out more CO2 than man ever does?

“· I am not saying the climate does not change; it does.” : correct.

“· I am not saying that the atmosphere is not warmer today than it was 50 or 100 years ago; it is.” : correct

“But”…… I am in general agreement with the article, except for the mea culpa on CO2.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
December 1, 2018 5:09 am


Nature produces 96% of the added CO2

Yes, but nature removes 98% of all added CO2 in the same year, thus the full 2% in increased mass is from the human addition of 4% in incoming CO2 each year…

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 1, 2018 12:14 pm

Does Nature produce 98% each and every year?
Highly unlikely! Some years it will be 99.999999999, meaning that a very large amount has been added. How long how many years, decades, does it take nature to reduce the CO2 back to normal? Just lik rolling dice, there can be several years in a row with large releases of CO2 that were caused by “Nature” or other causes other than man, adding to the amount.
The proven expansion in green areas on the globe means that more CO2 is going to be removed by Nature. And again, How long , how many years, decades, does it take nature to reduce the CO2?

Reply to  Usurbrain
December 1, 2018 2:02 pm


The amounts of CO2 that nature emits and absorbs over the seasons are not that variable, even large disturbances like the Pinatubo eruption or the 1998 El Niño are only good for +/- 1.5 ppmv around the 90 ppmv trend since 1958.

Human emissions increased a fourfold since 1958, so did the sinks and so did the residual increase in the atmosphere, by far outpacing (temperature caused) natural variability:
Sink capacity doesn’t depend of human emissions of one year, it depends of the extra CO2 pressure, whatever the cause, above equilibrium with the ocean surface, which would be around 290 ppmv for the current average ocean temperature and it depends of ocean temperature variability and its influence on the sink/source capacity of tropical forests.

The observed e-fold decay rate for the extra CO2 above equilibrium over the past 60 years is about 51 years or a half life time of around 35 years. That is much longer than the residence time (5 years) of any individual CO2 molecule – which is only replacement, not removal – and much shorter than the IPCC’s Bern model, which assumes saturation of all sinks, which is only true for the ocean surface.

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 2, 2018 6:48 am

Thanks for the facts, Ferd. It’s nice to see that you’re still around.

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 2, 2018 6:52 am

I’m not convinced we understand atmospheric oxidation as well as climatologists think we do. Oxidation has big implications for the CO2 lifetime (a value as vague as a ‘global temperature’). Methane plateaued unexpectedly in the early 2000s, now it’s rising faster than expected:

The chemistry doesn’t really get any simpler than OH + CH4 so if that’s not making sense, then there are big problems with our understanding of the carbon cycle. Personally I think we have made too much of isotopic tracers based on flawed assumptions. So many bits of evidence have been persuaded to fit the global warming narrative that undoing the mess is going to be almost impossible.

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 3, 2018 4:39 am

And the problem of this 2% is what?

Reply to  hunter
December 3, 2018 8:51 am


I don’t think that CO2 has much influence, but it is wrong to insist that the CO2 increase since about 1850 is not caused by humans. That is one of the few points where the “consensus” is right, based on rock solid observations. Every alternative explanation that I have seen passing violates one or more observations, thus is wrong and diverts the attention from where the real discussion is: the real (small) impact of the CO2 increase on climate…

November 30, 2018 6:18 pm

There seems to be a dearth of non scientist activists supporting the non scientific value of banning fossil fuels. No facts, no logic, no anything but vitriolic attacks on those holding opposing views. What’s more disturbing is they are given media platforms to spew their uninformed nonsense. In a world where people can choose their gender why should we be surprised?

Reply to  markl
November 30, 2018 9:18 pm

They can choose gender … but not their chromosomes.

Which is the perfect analogy to Global Warming … you can choose to believe all the made-up bits … including the “smoothed” … (always UPWARD) temperature data … but you can’t choose to ignore the REAL measured temperatures.


You can choose to believe all the “blue lines” and tidal inundation maps … but you can’t choose to ignore the ACTUAL, negligible, sea level rise … or the subsidence of certain island geology.


You can choose to believe a picture of a forlorn-looking Polar Bear clinging to a melting iceberg … but you cannot choose to ignore actual Polar Bear counts indicating thriving colonies.

Go ahead and transgender yourself … enjoy your own personal HOAX. But you cannot run the same Global Warming HOAX on the entire planet (although they’ve already sucked-up FAR more time and treasure than ever should have been allowed by a HEALTHY scientific community.

old white guy
Reply to  Kenji
December 1, 2018 4:10 am

Kenji, I want to know were the water is going to come from.

Roger Knights
Reply to  markl
December 1, 2018 12:47 am

“What’s more disturbing is they are given media platforms to spew ….”

The villain in this event isn’t Pillions, but the NY Times editors who decided to run his threadbare op-ed. Are they dim or dark? (or both?)

Reply to  Roger Knights
December 3, 2018 4:40 am


Brad Keyes
November 30, 2018 6:21 pm

Dr Doshi,

“N. Angel Pinillos, professor of philosophy at Arizona State University”

I only had to read the first few paragraphs to conclude that you misspelled “misosophy.” 🙂

As a holder, or perhaps carrier?, of science and philosophy degrees, I’ve learned by tedious experience how rare it is to meet someone—like yourself—who can dip his toes in both domains without embarrassing himself at least once. I don’t expect philosophers to understand the scientific method, but it would be nice if they understood that they don’t understand it.

That said, I don’t think you even need a high school diploma to feel your intelligence insulted by the idea that the probability of a hypothesis can be divined by its percentage endorsement.

Thanks for exposing yourself to Pinillos’ bilge so that those of us who’ve showered recently don’t have to.

Tilak K Doshi
Reply to  Brad Keyes
November 30, 2018 7:04 pm

Yes, I hardly ever read the NYT, but the Pinillos op-ed was given wider circulation by being re-published in our main English-language daily in Singapore. Needless to say, the paper would not have published my riposte if I had sent it to them, since they seem to take offense at contrarian arguments.
And i did take a shower soon after reading the Pinillos piece!

Reply to  Tilak K Doshi
December 1, 2018 1:30 pm

Well done, Mr. Doshi!

DeLoss McKnight
Reply to  Brad Keyes
November 30, 2018 9:03 pm

Good philosophers *do* understand the scientific method. After all, science used to be called “natural philosophy.” I haven’t read Pinillos’ editorial because it is paywalled. But from the comments above, it is clear that the professor isn’t adequately evaluating his own confirmation bias, otherwise he would have made a better attempt to understand the skeptic’s position before critiquing it. As it is, he is making judgments on faulty premises.

Reply to  DeLoss McKnight
December 1, 2018 12:43 am

You make the mistake of thinking the professor is ignorant of the skeptic position. He isn’t. What he is doing is misrepresenting it and making non-sequitur arguments. Like any “good” activist would.

Brad Keyes
Reply to  DeLoss McKnight
December 1, 2018 5:01 pm


“Good philosophers *do* understand the scientific method.”

Well, my understanding is that the latter, in its complete form, was almost unknown any time until 400ya. So until recently, at least, there must have been many good philosophers who went to the grave unaware of TSM.

How has the situation changed in the modern scientific era?

Harder to say, at least from experience. But I suspect the Sokal divide (which the typical Philosophy department straddles, at best) is deep enough and opaque enough that any philosopher who hasn’t had the fortune to be taught TSM, however “good” she is, could easily remain unaware NOT ONLY of how science works, but of her own unawareness of how science works.

Try telling the average person these 2 facts:

that they don’t understand how Icelandic grammar works.
that they don’t understand how science works.

Compare and contrast their 2 reactions.

I think the difference is due to the fact that, in my experience at least,

100% of the population has been taught that they understand TSM.
3% of the population has been taught TSM.

And if those anecdata are veridical they would seem to go a long way to explaining the (undeniable) fact that there exist some highly intelligent, highly educated, honest, skeptically-inclined, mentally healthy people who nevertheless lose sleep over global warming.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
December 3, 2018 4:43 am

✔️ excellent.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
December 4, 2018 12:36 pm

Believe it or not, but the scientific method goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks – especially the philosophers Plato and Aristotle. Plato advanced the study of logic, while Aristotle recognized the necessity of experimental observation. At root, the scientific method is all about evidence and logic.
But after the Greeks the scientific method was almost forgotten, until it was ultimately rejuvenated and refined into its present-day form during the Scientific Revolution, starting in the 16th century.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
November 30, 2018 9:20 pm

Hey! Please pronounce his name “Awn-hell” … what? Are you also a WHITE racist denier?

Brian RL Catt CEng, CPHys
Reply to  Brad Keyes
December 1, 2018 8:37 am

A famous philosopher once defined the difference between the approach of climate change consensus sbelievers and those who question the scientific basis for the belief thus ” The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Bertrand Russell.

I don’t blame intelligent and objective philosopers, just those same cocksure ones who work to prove agendas rather than discover insights, with agendas to promote and grants to attract. Solving the problem of scientists who sceptically challenge such unsupportable belief with inconvenient facts is clearly something you can get funded at public expense currently. This is academic business, forget the scientific objectivity, follow the grant and sponsor money.

I think the more reputable philosophers understood the reality of science very well, and neatly described the believers whose Pavlovian response to scientific scepticism is not reasoned argument, which their certain beliefs never had, but the personal attack of the bully, Brown Shirt thug, camp guard or religious priests of the IPCC et al.. All the same thing, from the same sort of people, really. In my opinion, only the level and type of violence and the personal gain of these selfish humans differs.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Brad Keyes
December 1, 2018 12:41 pm

The 97% twaddle makes it clear that Prof Pinillos didn’t do any research into his proof-texts.

He started out with his conclusion (AGW skeptics are kooks), gathered the requisite evidences, and wrote his bias.

It’s a kind of philosophy, really. Decide on your assumptions, and then derive your logical conclusions.

That’s what Prof Pinillos did. And an exemplary job to boot. Right up to the justly famous Stephan Lewandowsky standard.

November 30, 2018 6:25 pm

philosophy. Arizona state university. next.

Reply to  billtoo
December 1, 2018 1:33 pm


But accurate.

Tom Halla
November 30, 2018 7:10 pm

When I was in college some 40 years ago, logic was taught as a philosophy course. Obviously, Prof Pinillos does not teach, or use, logic.

Reply to  Tom Halla
December 1, 2018 1:37 pm

For a lark, I studied symbolic logic in the Philosophy department of my university 55 years ago, thinking I’d never use it for anything practical. And then…computers.

michael hart
November 30, 2018 8:00 pm

Not a good advert for Arizona State University it seems. Is he really a Professor of Philospophy, I wonder? In the sense of having tenure or at least on a tenure track. Or is this just one of those institutions that hands out titles like confetti because a title in itself costs no money?

Reply to  michael hart
December 3, 2018 4:48 am

Arizona State made a point on giving tenure to young barely experienced extremists promoting open borders the year Arizona passed laws to try and protect their citizens from massive Obama era illegal immigration.
So ASU is apparently dedicated to pushing faux academics who merely support the latest reactionary passions of the left.

November 30, 2018 8:12 pm

It is high time we put the luke warm philosophy of Matt Ridley to the sword:

· I am not claiming that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas, because there is no such thing as a “greenhouse gas”. The atmosphere in no way, shape, or form resembles a “greenhouse”. Mankind has determined methods to measure the surface of other planets, whose surface temperatures are demonstrably the result of the adiabatic lapse rate, and nothing else. There is NOTHING in the empirical record that non-condensing gases have any radiative impact on temperature. Please do not suggest that the unique properties of hydroen monoxide, which result in the moderation of the surface temperature, can in any way be construed as a “greenhouse gas”.

· I am not saying that its concentration in the atmosphere is not increasing, and we are very fortunate that it is, because that increase has produced remarkably more life on the planet, and at the same time has helped reduced poverty.

· I am not saying the main cause of that increase is not the burning of fossil fuels, because the distribuion of CO2 in the sea and in the air is weighted in favour of the sea to the extent of some 98%. With over 70% of the surface covered in water, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is dependent strictyl on Hook’s Law and the surface temperature of the sea, and nothing else.

· I am saying the climate does not change, in the short term of a few decades at least. Climate is by very definition a regional parameter used to compare the weather of one region with another. Change can be detected only if a parameter can be measured. Climate is measured in terms of a classification. Over the last hundred years or so, the size and shape of some regions of the same classifications have changed slightly, only to change back again about thirty years later. Essentially, there has been no net change in the climate of any region over that period, unless the classification system used is Trewartha, which reflects the increased plant growth due to slightly more atmospheric CO2.

· I am not saying that the atmosphere is not warmer today than it was 50 or 100 years ago. Only a fool would make such a claim. The concept of a ‘global average surface temperature’ is mathematically and thermodynamically impossible. Attempts to make it appear that the atmosphere is warming, when in fact it has been cooling albeit erratically for the past nine thousand years, are so plagued with errors both intentional and accidentally, that there is no database that is sufficiently accurate to use as the basis for such a ridiculous claim.

The only thing that will allow homo sapiens sapiens to proceed in a positive direction is the realisation that this entire subject is nothing more than an example of the idiotic mass hysteria which from time to time affects the race.

Reply to  Rod Stuart
December 1, 2018 12:36 am

Ozone affects temperature. …

Reply to  Rod Stuart
December 3, 2018 4:49 am

Don’t do a Mosher.

Jeff Alberts
November 30, 2018 8:50 pm

The author fails to note the original source of the 97% meme, from which the Cook study took inspiration.

Steve C
November 30, 2018 9:16 pm

“As his starting premise, he accepts the well-debunked “97% of scientists believe in climate change” meme. He then …” proceeds to prove the old philosophical truism that if you use a falsehood as one of the premisses of your argument, you can derive anything whatever, true or false, using faultless logic. This man brings philosophical debate into disrepute with his shoddy “argument”.

Steve Reddish
November 30, 2018 9:31 pm

“climate change deniers tend to espouse conservative views, which suggests that party ideology is partly responsible for these attitudes.”
Does it, really? Or does it suggest liberals are sheeple. Of course sheeple can’t imagine thinking for themselves, so they assume skeptics are just a different variety of sheeple.

The next time someone fires that “97% of scientists believe in climate change” charge at you, fire back with: that’s nothing – 100% of skeptics believe in climate change.

Maybe you will get them to realize they don’t know what they are saying. And then you have a chance of pointing out the straw-man arguments they are are parroting.


Kristi Silber
November 30, 2018 10:03 pm

“What about the 2016 UN global poll which surveys people’s greatest concerns, and which put climate change at the bottom of concerns ranging from education and jobs to health and honest government (and some 15 other concerns)?

“Polls and surveys can be tricky to interpret. ” – Exactly

This can be compared with a 2017 Pew survey:

“People around the globe identify ISIS and climate change as the leading threats to national security, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The survey asked about eight possible threats. While the level and focus of concern varies by region and country, ISIS and climate change clearly emerge as the most frequently cited security risks across the 38 countries polled.

ISIS is named as the top threat in a total of 18 countries surveyed – mostly concentrated in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States. A substantial number of these countries have endured deadly terrorist attacks claimed by the Islamic militant group.

“In 13 countries, mostly in Latin America and Africa, publics identify global climate change as the topmost threat. It is the second-ranked concern in many other countries polled.”

The difference is in the questions asked. The UN survey compared climate change to things that affect people personally, such as access to clean water, food security, protection from crime and violence. Climate change can still be seen as a threat, but it’s less of an immediate, personal concern, not really a comparable issue.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
December 1, 2018 12:32 am

Kristi Silber

We are told we have 12 years to change the world, or else. That’s pretty close and personal.

I think the point of the article was to highlight the bunk a university professor would use to prove a point.

The 97% consensus is nonsense and he should have known that, or at the very least, as a highly educated man, suspected it.

Polls are notoriously unreliable, Brexit and Trump demonstrate that rather well, yet this man decides they are good enough to construct a case against sceptics.

All in all, a poor effort even by the standards of this layman.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  Kristi Silber
December 1, 2018 8:38 am

@Kristi: The problem with polls and surveys of the general public on matters of science or engineering is that the general public (or at least the vast majority of them) really have no (or insufficient) scientific or engineering literacy about issues in those areas.

I imagine that the general public get their information on scientific issues from their local or national media–and journalists and editors themselves are also usually seriously lacking in scientific literacy. Media journalists and editors decide how to present the climate change/global warming issue to the public based on THEIR OWN perception of it and who they decide to listen to and believe. Thus the accuracy of the public’s understanding of a scientific issue can be seriously lacking as a result of the media’s misrepresentation of it.

Right now we have a media which does not appear to be giving skeptics so much as the time of day, much less a voice on the climate change issue. This is why I think polling the general public on the subject is pointless as a basis for influencing what (or what not) to do about a perceived “climate change crisis” and deciding whether there is one. They are only given one side of it.

It is Mother Nature herself who will ultimately determine who is right and who is wrong, not polls, not journalists and editors, and not the American or global public. If the predictions of the Earth cooling in the years ahead prove true, then a lot of people are going to have egg on their faces and will have a lot of explaining to do. It will demonstrate how pointless polls and surveys are and how science (as a fallible realm of human knowledge) can get things wrong.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
December 1, 2018 4:10 pm

The media is a great place to go to read news. I still remember laughing at a Fox News article about a shootout between a guy with a .9mm automatic and a guy with a .22 caliber automatic.
Don’t remember how it turned out. I couldn’t get passed a reporter and his/her/its editor not being familiar with a 1) a ruler – using any units, or 2) reporting on a shooting without knowing anything about guns.
So, reading news about climate science from a news source is not a good way to learn about what is really happening in climate science. Same goes for IPCC reports.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
December 1, 2018 1:39 pm


November 30, 2018 10:47 pm

Is this guy trying to emulate Lewendowski … Lewandopey.. Lew…. whatever !!!?

Philosophers that only think they can think… but obviously CAN’T.

Ivan Kinsman
December 1, 2018 12:21 am

BLACK TO GREEN. Bedtime reading for US sceptics so that you don’t show you are as dumb on this issue as Trump. “Rake America Great Again”

Reply to  Ivan Kinsman
December 1, 2018 12:48 am

Ivan Kinsman

Good sense of humour Ivan. Thanks, I needed a laugh.

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  Ivan Kinsman
December 1, 2018 3:09 am

Hey Ivan or is it Griff… again!!

Reply to  Ivan Kinsman
December 2, 2018 7:17 am

Hey Ivan,

How about instead of providing us endless links to your sad excuse of a website constantly parading MSM propaganda, you go read the next article by Judith Curry, an actual scientist:

Maybe you have, but I didn’t notice any of your asinine comments on that thread. I know it’s late in the game for you, but you could still try and educate yourself about the scientific method.

Geoff Sherrington
December 1, 2018 12:24 am

The difference might not be in the questions asked.
The difference seems to me to reflect the intensity of propaganda swallowed.
Simple observation suggests a correlation of belief with age and therefore maybe with years at school.
Some schools here in Australia have allowed an incredible propaganda exposure. It’s scientific untruth raises thoughts of criminality. Geoff

December 1, 2018 1:42 am

…. I generally agree with this garbage 97% of the time depending on which “gender” I woke up as this morning…Of course, it also depends on which side of the bed I rolled out of… Which is dependent on whether she is still taking up space on the left side or the right side of said bed… Hey ! …It was a Friday night….D’oh !

Bair Polaire
December 1, 2018 3:20 am

I have a new meme on the “97% Consensus”:

97% of climate scientists haven’t read 98% of the climate science literature.

George Daddis
Reply to  Bair Polaire
December 1, 2018 7:03 am

It just occurred to me that “man made climate change” truly exists!
Fortunately the habitat of this devilish creature is limited to the models created by Dr. Mann and his associates.

Maybe in his honor we should from now on refer to it as “Mann made climate change” 🙂

Reply to  Bair Polaire
December 1, 2018 12:34 pm

Amazing how many people pushing AGW have NOT read all sections/reports from the IPCC. I have often responded to members of the Global Warming Church with a quote directly from one of the IPCC working group reports. It usually takes several exchanges before they accept the fact that the WG report does NOT agree with the fib in the Summary for Policymakers – the only thing they have read and then usually just a quote from the SFP on their favorite AGW pushing webpage.

Reply to  Usurbrain
December 2, 2018 6:57 am

More fun: if they say they believe the science on AGW, ask them how they feel about the science of fracking!

Doug Huffman
December 1, 2018 4:36 am

Scepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer: there is nobility in preserving it coolly and proudly through long youth, until at last, in the ripeness of instinct and discretion, it can be safely exchanged for fidelity and happiness.
The Works of George Santayana Scepticism and Animal Faith (1923)

Stephen Skinner
December 1, 2018 5:05 am

“what philosophy tells us about climate change sceptics”.
Very revealing as this implies that Philosophy is superior to the standard sciences of Physics, Chemistry, Biology . There are some in the social sciences who definitely think that standard evidence based scientific method is ‘problematic.

To recap
We are all exhorted to fight ‘climate injustice’ and bring under control something called a global average temperature which will stabilize something call a global climate. The evidence that ‘something needs to be done’ comes from computer models that are man made with man made algorithms and inputs. The model’s outputs are future scenarios that are considered ‘by those who work with models’ a kind of future evidence.
The support for all this is underpinned by:
– The United Nations
– Career politicians who dare not contradict the climate change dogma
– Actors and musicians from the film and pop music industry
– Surveys
– Opinion Polls
– Public Opinion

What could possible be wrong with all that?

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
December 1, 2018 5:32 am

…and what could possibly go wrong?

December 1, 2018 7:19 am

New York Times: Stalin’s 3 million murder victims and 5.5 million starved to death with NYT cheer leading. The NYT was awarded a Pulitzer Award which the NYT now refuses to return or acknowledge they should never have received it. From NYT 2003:
“Mr. Sulzberger asked the board (Pulitzer Board) to consider two things. First, he wrote, such an action might evoke the ”Stalinist practice to airbrush purged figures out of official records and histories.” He also wrote of his fear that ”the board would be setting a precedent for revisiting its judgments over many decades.”
Twice now the NYT has hired independent historians to examine this issue and twice the NYT has been told they should never have received the Pulitzer Award.
And anyone that reads the New York Times should remember this deception is still the Standard Operating Procedure for the current, 2018, New York Times.
Just as I listened to Obama brag about ‘his’ oil and ‘his’ economy a few days ago I keep hearing “And if you like your Doctor you can keep your Doctor’ then I think of the millions of children, women and men that were murdered by Stalin with the help of the New York Times and that they won an award for their help…

Reply to  Kevin
December 1, 2018 1:46 pm

Obviously the issue needs to be examined by another historian. Maybe someone reached on Fiverr…

Michael in Dublin
December 1, 2018 9:04 am

I would expect a lot more from Prof Pinillos because he is a professor of philosophy who has a B.S. Mathematics and lists logic as one of his areas of competence.

He begins the NYT article with the statement:
“No matter how smart or educated you are, what you don’t know far surpasses anything you may know.”

Logically this must apply equally to those who are outside of the field of climate studies as it does to those in this field, to alarmists as well as skeptics. This undermines his whole argument. This is further undermined by a crucial matter that he ignores. “No matter how smart or educated you are,” as a scientist, like all other people, you may be dishonest for various reasons. It is significant that the probability of dishonesty is totally absent from this article.

This is something the eminent Mathematician, George Polya, understood when he wrote, “in theoretical matters, the best of ideas is hurt by uncritical acceptance and thrives on critical examination.” Nothing could be further from the truth than to claim that those who want to subject climate change views to a critical examination are unscientific or to brand them as climate change deniers and skeptics – on the contrary they are the ones who are promoting the best scientific practice.

michael hart
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
December 1, 2018 12:27 pm

Nicely put, Michael.

Reply to  michael hart
December 1, 2018 1:47 pm


Robert of Texas
December 1, 2018 9:47 am

I love the a liberals think having a philosophy professor adds to their case in a scientific debate.

“We can’t explain the science, or win a debate, but we have philosophers on our side to make us feel better about it! So there!”

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Robert of Texas
December 1, 2018 11:26 am

Pinillos also claims:
“As a philosopher, I have nothing to add to the scientific evidence of global warming, but I can tell you how it’s possible to get ourselves to sincerely doubt things, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. I also have suggestions about how to fix this.”

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
December 1, 2018 6:31 pm

and the history of science demonstrates that scientists can be fooled into thinking they have abundant evidence – and they become stubborn and close minded to contrary evidence – it takes time – but science has advanced despite their wrongness – so far

December 1, 2018 2:06 pm

Anyone who auto-repeats the 97% of scientists thing can be immediately dismissed.

They should be embarrassed to mention it.

Cook et al reached out to 8,500 scientists inviting them to avail of an opportunity to endorse the AGW theory, but just 14% responded.

After eliminating a small number of those respondents, 97% of the remaining 1,1089 scientists out of the original 29,083 scientists mentioned in Cook’s paper, endorsed the AGW theory. The majority didn’t.

Similarly, out of almost 12,000 abstracts analysed by Cook’s volunteers, only one third contained an endorsement of the AGW theory.

Other studies designed to illustrate a global scientific consensus have cited the opinions of 80 or less scientists.

December 1, 2018 3:14 pm

“I am not saying the climate does not change; it does” ?

No shit Sherlok…it always has and I hope it always will.
When the “climate” STOPS changing, then I’ll start worrying..
The odds of the climate ceasing to change is comparable to the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup !

What ?….Toronto is in first place overall? ….OMG…We are all gonna die !

O.K. , I’ll just get my coat….groan ; )

December 1, 2018 6:51 pm

I wonder if it’s even worth commenting on this?
Just more of the same.

December 1, 2018 6:59 pm
December 1, 2018 8:02 pm

Dr. Doshi:

You (and the readers of this blog) may be interested in my blog post last week, titled “On Science Skeptics and Deniers” at
The article points out, as you do, that skeptics aren’t always deniers, and that skeptics in one area such as climate change aren’t always science skeptics in other areas.

Tilak Doshi
Reply to  Ralph B. Alexander
December 1, 2018 8:57 pm

Thank you Ralph for the excellent reference and the very useful blog on the mis-use of science.

Andrew Jenkinson
December 2, 2018 1:10 pm

Can anyone tell me how the hell scientists measure the rise in sea levels?
I suggest that scientists cannot measure to the required accuracy especially when actual depth at any location depends on the time of year, the time to within a microsecond, the location of the Moon, the wind, water temperature, cloud cover, volcanic activity, earthquakes, volume from nearby rivers, rain and a myriad other factors. Whenever you measure it again you are almost bound to get a different result. So physical measurement is not possible.
What about estimating a global increase based on the “known” volume of ice and the rate of melt? Here again we have a problem. The “volume” of the oceans is not a constant. Volcanoes build mountains in the sea reducing the volume. Continental drift either increases or decreases the volume. River silt reduces the volume. Coastal erosion reduces the volume. Earthquakes can do either. People reduce (by building into the sea) or increase (by dredging) the volume. So even this is subject to numerous factors.

Reply to  Andrew Jenkinson
December 2, 2018 2:50 pm

I live on the island of Tasmania, which is one of the most geologically stable platforms on the planet.
When the British established Port Arthur as a penal colony in the late 18th century, they chiseled the high and low tide marks on a huge piece of Basalt on the Island of the Dead.
Those indicators are still accurate.
That is a pretty good measure of the mythical seal level rise in the past two hundred years.

Thomas Fisher
December 2, 2018 1:53 pm

And, then there was the consensus that Alfred Wegener’s theory of Continental Drift was bunk and that land bridges were the only explanation (for animal migrations and similarities continent to continent. 55 years later the consensus was proven patently WRONG by J Tuzo Wilson and colleagues.

Similarly, the theory of the formation of the channeled scablands of the NW U.S. was by consensus bunk, and the founder of that theory was harassed and hounded to no end. Yet not too many years later he was proven right about glacial lake Missoula.

Mann, et al’s “Hockey Stick” diagram was “consensus” then it was proven wrong because of incorrect statistical methods, data errors, biases in alteration or exclusion of data”.

I can go on and on with examples where the consensus was wrong each time. Science when done correctly and the scientific method is followed and the work is carried out objectively and is repeatable, will prove or disprove the hypotheses. We haven’t seen that yet applied to Climate Change studies. Moreover, the majority of the papers published on the topic that are continually cited are from Climatologists with little or no training or background in geology, knowledge of geologic history or natural cycling and moreover little training in the statistical methods they apply without knowledge of the pitfalls associated.

And, for that matter the “97% consensus” regards climate change doesn’t even exist. It was done wrong statistically and the questions queried were biased. All this came about by doing a search on Google and other sources for published professional papers that mentioned climate change. Not one question was asked regards the number of papers that mentioned climate change in the opposite.

As a geoscientist with deep background in both geology applied to interpretation of ancient environments and considerable experience in atmospheric modeling I am deeply insulted by the implications and ignorant statements made by Prof Pinillos, who may be a purported philosopher but has no direct knowledge or experience in the sciences related to Climate Change studies.

Reply to  Thomas Fisher
December 2, 2018 5:50 pm

Check out my book “Science Under Attack” (on Amazon). I discuss all these issues and use the story of continental drift as an example. It also covers climate change, vaccination and more.

Reply to  Ralph B. Alexander
December 3, 2018 5:05 am

Thank you for mentioning this.
Perhaps you have a link?

December 3, 2018 4:54 am

Thank you for an excellent essay.
I am sorry to hear that the climate consensus disease is even damaging the media in Singapore.
From here in the US, Singapore stands out as a bastion if rational and balanced Civic society.
If your media is corrupted by climate consensus syndrome, you will find other good policies are corrupted as well.
Be careful!

Johann Wundersamer
December 4, 2018 9:25 pm

So N. Angel Pinillos, professor of philosophy at Arizona State University knows a lot about Anti-vaccine proponents, for example.

his diverging interests will make him discover outer spaces.

and who knows, one day maybe he wants to dive deep down into the abyss of climatology.

His knowledges will be like the stars in the sky.


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