At their Die kalte Sonne site here, Fritz Vahrenholt and Sebastian Lüning write how a philosophy professor and a communication professor tried to portray climate science skeptics as ‘conspiracy theorists’ and how their attempt backfired.
It’s the latest example of German academia trying to smear those who express other views made in the true spirit of science.
Scientists at University of Augsburg with dubious study on “climate skeptical emotionalization strategy
By Fritz Vahrenholt and Sebastian Lüning
(Translated, edited by P Gosselin)
The structure of climate skeptical arguments. Conspiracy theory as scientific criticism
Climate skeptics go against the mainstream and claim that not only the scientific consensus over the causes of global warming are false, but that they also have been falsified. They assume a conspiracy among climate scientists. The following analysis of climate-skeptical argumentation deals with an assessment of German and English language science books. It reveals the function and basis of the climate skeptic emotionalization strategies.”
Questioning and rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change causes, climate skeptics argue that climate science is involved in a global conspiracy, guided by self-interest and aspirations of societal change. On the basis of 97 climate skeptical non-fiction books, this article reconstructs the logical structure of climate skeptical (or denialist) arguments, with a special focus on the construction of the causes for climate change. The analysis shows that climate skeptical arguments are made on three levels: on the level of insight from climate science, on the level of an intuitive sociology of science and on a political/economic level, thus achieving the desired effect of moving the audience emotionally. The reconstruction of arguments may serve as a basis for more quantitative research, but it is also useful for entering the debate with climate skeptics as it allows anticipating climate skeptical objections.”
The pdf file of the German-language study is available free of charge as a download. Conveniently Soentgen happens to be a co-publisher of the journal. Of course many of us would like to know more about how the peer-review process really took place. In the study the authors also discuss our book “Die kalte Sonne”. Fritz Vahrenholt made the effort to write a letter to the lead author:
Dear Herr Soentgen,
I have read your study sub-titled ‘Conspiracy theory as scientific criticism’. You did not spend much time with the scientific assertions of our book. Thus it wasn’t necessary for you to point out that we hold CO2 does have an impact on climate, but one that is only half as large as what is claimed by the IPCC in its 2007 report. Since then, climate sensitivity has been significantly reduced in numerous peer-reviewed publications – down to one half and even less. Even the IPCC reduced the lower limit of climate sensitivity to 1.5°C in its latest report and found itself unable to assign any supportable probable figure. Shouldn’t that fact alone make us skeptical of the climate models, 95% of which falsely projected the development of the global mean temperature over the last 15 years? These models, which were unable to forecast 15 years ahead, provide the framework for a 100-year prognosis and lead to the adoption of political action of the sort we are already observing in Germany today.
At the end you write: ‘If the global mean temperature continues to remain flat or even drop over the next decade despite continuously rising CO2 emissions, then the position of the climate skeptics in the public will grow.’ Is that your only conclusion? Could one not also reach the conclusion that the climate models obviously do not reflect reality because they are not taking the natural effects (clouds, sun, ocean currents) numerically into account? Shouldn’t that have consequences for the speed and extent of a controversial required CO2 reduction…one that would have a less dramatic, economical and environmental consequences?
But then again this would be skepticism, and that we know is now verboten because it’s part of a conspiracy theory.
When asked if he ever heard back from Soentgen, Vahrenholt wrote back that the philosophy professor indeed sent a response, but one that didn’t answer the questions. Paraphrasing Vahrenholt: Soentgen’s response was an impressive acrobatic breakdance around the flagpole.