By John Cook, George Mason University
A famous psychology experiment instructed participants to watch a short video, counting the number of times players in white shirts passed the ball. If you haven’t seen it before, I encourage you to give the following short video your full attention and follow the instructions:
Global temperature records from NOAA, NASA, Berkeley, Hadley, and Cowtan & Way. Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief, Author provided
One way to distract from the strong understanding of how our climate is changing is to resort to the so-called blowfish fallacy. Recently, U.K. journalist David Rose claimed that methodological flaws by NOAA scientists cast doubt on the global temperature record. Rose neglected to acknowledge that the data he was attacking had been independently replicated by a number of other scientific teams.
Rose’s misinformation was promptly and comprehensively debunked. Within days, the so-called “whistle blower” who was the source of the article distanced himself from Rose’s characterizations. Contrary to Rose’s breathless conclusions, data scientist John Bates said there was “…no data tampering, no data changing, nothing malicious.”
Rose’s out-of-proportion response was best summed up by science writer Scott Johnson:
“…it’s not much more substantial than claiming the Apollo 11 astronauts failed to file some paperwork and pretending this casts doubt on the veracity of the Moon landing.”
The Climate Change Gorilla
The case for climate change is a loud, unmissable gorilla. Our acceptance that global warming is happening is based on tens of thousands of lines of evidence: not just thermometer readings but melting ice sheets, migrating species, retreating glaciers and rising sea levels, to name just a few.
Similarly, our scientific understanding that human beings are causing modern global warming is based on many independent human fingerprints, observed by satellites, surface measurements of infrared heat and, in fact, the shifting structure of our atmosphere.
To avoid seeing the climate gorilla requires conspiracy theories and distracting techniques such as the blowfish fallacy. Often these arguments are accompanied with the false narrative that our scientific understanding of climate change is like a house of cards — remove one card and the whole edifice topples down.
Science is more like a jigsaw puzzle, with each line of evidence building a more complete picture. Removing one piece doesn’t change the overall picture. In the case of humanity’s role in causing climate change, we have many pieces and the picture is clear.
John Cook is Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.