DeSmog

Senator Inhofe and the difference between science and point-of-view

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Here’s the wiki definition of science, its about as clear as any I’ve ever seen:

“Science (from the Latin scientia, ‘knowledge‘) is a system of acquiring knowledge based on the scientific method, as well as the organized body of knowledge gained through such research.[1][2]”

Someone should send this to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK).

As most regular DeSmogBlog readers know, Inhofe is a well-known member of the global warming denial movement. Inhofe has gone so far as to claim that global warming “alarmism” is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.

Check out this recent review of a speech Inhofe gave at the National Conservative Student Conference.

According to the review, Inhofe makes the following claims to defend his position on global warming:

“the ground of the climate change debate is starting to shift their way, giving their views more exposure and effect.”

“… referred to a letter 60 prominent scientists sent to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2006, in which they claimed the Kyoto Protocol of the 1990s was a regulatory measure written out of ignorance and which is now unnecessary based on modern scientific discoveries.”

“…he himself used to tow the global warming line until a few years ago, he said, when he began researching the Kyoto Protocol and its potential economic effects.”

“… too many scientists disagree with the claims that man-induced CO2 emissions are primarily responsible for the phenomenon and that the results are going to be catastrophic.”

“… attributed what he calls the “myth” of global warming to an ulterior power-driven motive.”

We’ve all heard these claims by Inhofe a hundred times over and they’re also the typical arguments made by others in the global warming denial industry.

You’ll notice though that nowhere is there a mention of real science. Inhofe’s proof lies entirely in the realm of viewpoints, opinion and rhetoric. Look at the first statement: “the ground of the climate change debate is starting to shift their way, giving their views more exposure and effect.”

Inhofe portrays the “debate” around climate change as something that can be shifted towards a particular group’s way. Such a shift, Inhofe argues, provides like-minded individuals with more “exposure and effect.” Inhofe’s spin-doctor, Marc “swift boat” Morano, then touts a letter by 60 prominent scientists sent to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen as proof that the human-induced theory of climate change is incorrect

This is not science, and this is the problem that science is struggling with today, especially in the United States. Science, in the eyes of Inhofe and many others, is just another viewpoint that can be manipulated, swayed, proven or disproved based on things such as letters or opinion.

Science is a “debate,” but that “debate” does not occur between two pundits on television, neither does it occur between congressmen on opposing sides of the house or in senate committee hearings. This type of “debate” does not acquire knowledge as science does, it merely debates the knowledge we’ve already acquired.

The “debate” in science (including climate science) occurs in the pages of peer-reviewed scientific journals where the hard work and years of dedicated research by scientists is put to the scrutiny of other scientists, published and then challenged through further research.

This is where new knowledge is acquired.

And as far as the peer-reviewed literature and the research on climate change (the acquired knowledge) it points to something that for various (most unknown) reasons, Inhofe is opposed to. Simple logic would state that a petition, viewpoint or opinion would be wholly inadequate as a means of refuting a scientific conclusion grounded in the scientific method, and standing the test of challenges by alternative hypotheses. And it is.

Unfortunately, Inhofe doesn’t and probably never will accept the very simple, very straightforward difference between the two.

 

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Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmog. He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning. Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks. Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder. Prior to DeSmog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health. In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications. Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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