1 November 2011

Dr. Naomi Oreskes On Why Climate Scientists Are Too Conservative

Posted by Dan Satterfield

If you google “climate change” or “global warming” you’ll quickly find yourself immersed in a world of pseudoscience. Besides unflattering pictures of former V.P. Al Gore, this world includes claims that the scientific basis for climate change is rapidly falling apart. The words conspiracy and one world government are prominent in this world as well.  It’s ridiculous of course, and the reality is just the opposite, but you’d have to spend some time looking at journals like Science, Nature and other peer-reviewed publications to see why. Most of the people behind this junk science have little or no background in science and a little digging will show you they are actually worried about the consequences to their pocket-book when we switch to renewable energy (I do too, but I try not to let that affect my judgement of the science).

Most of these folks are deeply convinced of the truth of what they write, and the reason for this IMHO has to do with something called authoritarianism. I’ve written about this before here. Chris Mooney has a few comments on it as well on DeSmog Blog. The psychology behind denying something (for which there is overwhelming evidence) is really fascinating, and it’s something everyone should be on the look out for in themselves.

The flip side of this is a frustration among many who do understand the science that is directed at the researchers themselves. Dr. Naomi Oreskes has completed a study that indicates that (instead of being the “alarmists” they are accused of) some researchers are perhaps being too conservative in interpreting the data! Her comments below are well worth a watch. I interviewed Dr. Oreskes a few years ago and her book Merchants of Doubt is a must read for anyone trying to understand why the public is so confused by climate science.

Hint: It’s not an accident!