Climate Bait and Switch

Cross posted from Climate Skeptic

This quote from Michael Mann [of Hockey Stick fame] is a great example of two common rhetorical tactics of climate alarmists:

And so I think we have to get away from this idea that in matters of science, it's, you know, that we should treat discussions of climate change as if there are two equal sides, like we often do in the political discourse. In matters of science, there is an equal merit to those who are denying the reality of climate change who area few marginal individuals largely affiliated with special interests versus the, you know, thousands of scientists around the world. U.S. National Academy of Sciences founded by Abraham Lincoln back in the 19th century, all the national academies of all of the major industrial nations around the world have all gone on record as stating clearly that humans are warming the planet and changing the climate through our continued burning of fossil fuels.

Here are the two tactics at play here:

  1. He is attempting to marginalize skeptics so that debating their criticisms is not necessary.  He argues that skeptics are not people of goodwill; or that they say what they say because they are paid by nefarious interests to do so; or that they are vastly outnumbered by real scientists ("real" being defined as those who agree with Dr. Mann).  This is an oddly self-defeating argument, though the media never calls folks like Mann on it.  If skeptics' arguments are indeed so threadbare, then one would imagine that throwing as much sunlight on them as possible would reveal their bankruptcy to everyone, but instead most alarmists are begging the media, as in this quote, to bury and hide skeptics' arguments.  I LOVE to debate people when I know I am right, and have pre-debate trepidation only when I know my position to be weak.
  2. There is an enormous bait and switch going on in the last sentence.  Note the proposition is stated as "humans are warming the planet and changing the climate through our continued burning of fossil fuels."  I, and many other skeptics, don't doubt the first part and would quibble with the second only because so much poor science occurs in attributing specific instances of climate change to human action.  What most skeptics disagree with is an entirely different proposition, that humans are warming the planet to catastrophic levels that justify immensely expensive and coercive government actions to correct.  Skeptics generally accept a degree or so of warming from each doubling of CO2 concentrations but reject the separate theory that the climate is dominated by positive feedback effects that multiple this warming 3x or more.   Mann would never be caught dead in public trying to debate this second theory of positive feedback, despite the fact that most of the warming in IPCC forecasts is from this second theory, because it is FAR from settled.  Again, the media is either uninterested or intellectually unable to call him on this.
I explained the latter points in much more detail at


  1. NormD:

    I think we do need to understand the implications.

    All of these "scientific" bodies have endorsed the AGW theory.

    What does that say for them? How many other things are they wrong about?

    I can see a BIG pile of people who have no dog in the AGW fight supporting AGW theory because if it collapses, fallout will affect their area of study. The public is going to be pissed. Quacks are going to be elated. Every one, will say, but "scientists" were wrong about AGW and they are also wrong about my theory.

  2. blokeinfrance:

    I am a scientist. You are a crank. But the history of science is full of such BS. Phlogiston? Plate techtonics?
    The more serious bait and switch is: I am a scientist. You are a voter. I make the laws.

    Incidentally there doesn't seem space in this debate for those who think: yes, CO2 is warming the earth; and no, this is actually on balance a good thing because it will increase crop yields by about 30% per 100% rise in CO2 to a fairly trivial 560ppm.

  3. Sam L.:

    "Again, the media is either uninterested or intellectually unable to call him on this."

    Or third, they are completely invested in it. OK, maybe not completely, but it looks to me like Ivory Soap level.

  4. Gil:

    Does "catastrophic global warming" kick in when "my electricity bill is horrendous due to running the A.C. all the time?

  5. IGotBupkis, Climate Change Denier and Proud Of It.:

    From the people who brought you
    Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
    Michael Mann, Debate Zombie

  6. LCG:

    What's being missed here is the fact that most scientists are very arrogant and conceded. Mann is no exception and since he is the poster child for AGW and must defend it regardless of how many holes may exist in his theory. He is a rock star in his little circle of arrogant people and to admit any part of his theory is wrong would be admitting failure. What I find so interesting is the parallel one can draw between AGW and religion. So called climate scientists are nothing more than televangelists peddling phoney faith at the expense of everyone, not just the dupes who believe. If every aspect of the AGW theory is completely debunked, Mann will still believe he is right.

  7. Roy Lofquist:

    Positive feedback makes your speakers screech and your bridges to crash into the river. Can anyone name one instance of positive feedback in a stable natural system?