Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for August 6th, 2022

Here’s looking at you, kid

with 35 comments

Cicada, Tibicen superba; August 3 in Wells Branch.


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In a commentary yesterday I said I believe people should report things accurately, without exaggeration. Not long after writing that, I came to the section in Alex Epstein’s book Fossil Future called “The ‘Deliberate Overstatement’ Distortion.” He identifies “four forms of deliberate overstatement that dramatically and negatively distort our knowledge system’s assessment of the climate impacts of rising CO2 levels.”

  • Punishment of climate catastrophe skepticism.
  • Equation of consensus on some climate impact with consensus on massively negative climate impact (the 97 percent fallacy).
  • Deliberately overstated report summaries.
  • Deliberate overstatement by designated experts for effect.

Those things are similar to what ideologues do in fields other than climate science. For example, some doctors have urged caution about putting children on puberty blockers and opposite-sex hormones because those drugs produce serious effects that soon become irreversible. Nevertheless, activists attack those cautious doctors, label them “trans-phobes,” and work to get their articles suppressed and get them fired from their jobs.

Similarly, researchers who recognize that the climate is warming yet urge caution in concluding that a warming climate will necessarily be catastrophic or apocalyptic get labeled “climate deniers.” Activists work to cut off funding to those researchers, to get publications to refuse articles by thm, and to get those researchers fired from their positions.

So I say, as always: let everyone bring forth the facts they’ve found, and let’s do our best to draw conclusions by assessing the unadulterated, unexaggerated evidence. I don’t want to live in a world where we only get to hear one side of an argument, and yet that’s the kind of world I increasingly find myself in. I never thought I’d live to see that in the United States.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 6, 2022 at 4:33 AM

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