Standing Against The Climate Inquisition

From American Thinker

By Anthony Watts and H. Sterling Burnett

Climate alarmists falsely claim to uphold the sanctity of scientific integrity while simultaneously violating the scientific method by suppressing debate, scientific inquiry, and the free exchange of ideas.

Spokespersons for the “Climate Inquisition” (CI) do this, they say, because they have cornered the truth concerning the causes and consequences of climate change. Because of this, the CI tars climate realists and skeptics — those who, because they follow the scientific method, point to various gaps in knowledge about climate and weaknesses in the argument that the earth is on the verge of a climate catastrophe — with various offensive labels, perhaps the most opprobrious being, “climate denier.”

Recently, Roland Lloyd Parry, in an article originally published at AFP and distributed on Yahoo News, titled “Politics, cash, fame: what motivates climate change deniers,” jumped on the ad hominem bandwagon, claiming that climate skeptics are purely motivated by greed and fame.

Parry and the people he interviewed for the article use one of the most common and lazy accusations against climate change realists: that they are in the pocket of “Big Oil” and other corporations, seeking fame and fortune. These claims lack any basis in truth, which is why evidence of such a connection is rarely, if ever, provided. Of course, Parry provided nothing of substance; just opinions of some people who have made careers out of smearing climate realists.

In reality, climate realists such as the Heartland Institute and the other organizations dedicated to the promotion of providing sound policy founded in solid science, receive a negligible amount of funding compared to the vast amount of money invested in doomsaying climate research and climate-related political causes. Most accusers are unable to look at themselves in a mirror and see that if anyone is being bought and paid for in the climate debate, it is they.

Parry, for instance, seemingly fails to recognize that people he interviewed for the article, John Cook, and Stephan Lewandowsky, have a long history of unscrupulous shenanigans against climate skeptics that could only be described as “slime tactics.”

For example, John Cook, a former cartoonist, now a postdoctoral research fellow with the Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University, got where he is simply by bashing climate skeptics. His tactics included trying to sneak into a 2019 Washington, D.C. climate conference hosted by the Heartland Institute. Cook claimed to be representing the Weather Channel. Yet, his ruse failed. When he was ejected from the event, his film crew recorded the “faux outrage” he expressed for being denied entrance to a venue he was not cleared or qualified to attend as a previously registered journalist.

His partner in crime, Stephan Lewandowsky, a professor of Psychology at University of Bristol, has also made a career of hampering the pursuit of climate truth by bashing climate realists. His actions have arguably been even more nefarious than Cook’s — he has abused his credentials as a professional psychologist by remotely diagnosing the motives of climate skeptics, asserting that realists suffer from a variety of “mental disorders” without ever actually interviewing them, or disclosing his own biases.

This is a clear violation of the canons of the medical ethics of psychological practice. Lewandowsky’s misbehavior was so egregious that a paper he wrote on the psychology of those who reject claims that a climate catastrophe is in the offing was retracted by the science journal it was published in. This happened not just once, but twice. In another paper, Lewandowsky tried to claim climate skeptics’ ideas were akin to the false belief system displayed by moon landing deniers. Other scientists wrote scathing reviews of Lewandowsky and his methods.

Lewandowsky didn’t like having his paper retracted, and suggested “threats” were the reason rather than shoddy science. Eventually, the journal’s editors took Lewandowsky to task for spreading misinformation.

Despite these broad ethical breaches, Parry seems to think that Cook and Lewandowsky are trustworthy. Parry also mimicked the same slimy technique used by Lewandowsky when he refused to ask any climate skeptics about their opinions in his article.

Simply put, this is a classic smear tactic, built upon numerous logical fallacies.

Testing, observation, debate, and intellectual exchange are the hallmarks of scientific rigor and societal progress.

Hundreds of articles posted at Climate Realism and dozens of brief informational “fact checks” posted at Climate at a Glance show the evidence — meaning measurable, recorded data — does not support assertions that climate change is making the world less livable, causing more severe or more frequent bouts of extreme weather, or has resulted in an increase in weather or temperature-related deaths. Indeed, the long-term trend data trends show the opposite is occurring.

Rather than address the evidence and valid arguments climate realists present, members of the CI resort to the tactics of dogmatists and authoritarians. When not just hurling names or using ad hominem attacks to discredit climate realists for daring to dispute “their truth” about climate change, they call for censorship, threaten careers, and even propose imprisonment for skeptics.

H.L. Mencken, a great observer of human nature, offers one possible reason for the CI’s behavior, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman offers a more charitable assessment, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” When it comes to climate change, it is sad that alarmists have so deluded themselves. However, it’s unconscionable that they continue to try to deceive everyday Americans, especially students in government-run schools, as well. In truth, there are climate deniers. We call them members of the Climate Inquisition.

Anthony Watts (awatts@heartland.orgis a senior fellow with the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy at The Heartland Institute. H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (hsburnett@heartland.orgis director of the Robinson Center.