No variable specified
Guest column: Liberals’ climate-change denial hides sins
by Melvyn L. Fein
Guest Columnist
March 13, 2014 11:18 AM | 5869 views | 9 9 comments | 121 121 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Melvyn L. Fein
Melvyn L. Fein
slideshow
Since this past autumn, my colleague Ken White and I have been doing a podcast called “Honestly Speaking: Red Meets Blue.” At roughly two-week intervals, we choose a topic and debate it. About a month ago, the subject was global warming.

As you might expect, Ken, representing the liberal position, championed “climate change,” whereas, I, the conservative, was skeptical of the thesis that this was “man-made.” Time and again, Ken trotted out the argument that because “97 percent” of climatologists subscribe to global warming, the case is closed.

More recently, when I wrote about liberal denial for the Marietta Daily Journal, I cited the president’s insistence the climate case was indeed closed as an instance of denial. Not surprisingly, several readers chided me for not understanding that Obama was correct; that a scientific consensus confirms his assertions.

Among other things, I was told I should be ashamed for not understanding how science works. Thus, I was informed that because scientific papers are peer reviewed, we can depend on their accuracy.

Now, as someone who has been published in peer-reviewed journals, but, more importantly, who is the editor of a peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Public and Professional Sociology, I am not unfamiliar with the concept of peer review. Nonetheless, I also know its limitations. Indeed, how vulnerable scientific journals are to manipulation was recently revealed by a fraud of epic proportions. Amazingly, more than 120 hard science and math papers were exposed as having been generated by computer programs. Produced randomly, albeit grammatically, putting jargon together, they were complete nonsense.

In science, a consensus proves nothing. In the end, it is always evidence that is telling. Facts matter, and if these go against a thesis, the number of persons who support it is irrelevant. The earth does go around the sun. Einstein’s equations do explain more than Newton’s. It doesn’t matter that huge majorities once thought otherwise.

Furthermore, scientific hypotheses must be open to disconfirmation. If they aren’t, they are not science, but faith. With respect to global warming, the true-believers allow for no disconfirmation. Whatever the facts, they always prove them right.

Those who seek to win this case by accusing folks like me of being “flat-earthers” point to computer simulations as corroborating their thesis. But computer simulations are hypotheses. They are not facts and therefore cannot validate themselves.

Besides, the overwhelming number of climate simulations generated faulty predictions. In other words, they have been disconfirmed.

Let me explain what denial is. People who are in denial refuse to see facts. They close their eyes and ears to reality and instead subscribe to rationalizations and fantasies. Moreover, because they are in denial, they do not realize they are in denial. To the contrary, they are convinced that those who disagree with them are.

So I repeat myself: Liberals are in deep denial. The political facts are going against them; hence they become ever more desperate in their refusal to acknowledge reality. Emotionally committed to the proposition that they are correct, nothing can budge them off center.

This intransigence not only applies to global warming, but to a host of contentious issues. Most notable among these is Obamacare. The true-believers still insist the program is working.

Harry Reid (but not just Harry Reid) told us every Obamacare horror story is a lie. Not one single person has been injured by losing his doctor or health plan. Those who claim otherwise are hoaxers.

So why did the president have to apologize for saying no one would lose a plan or doctor? And were there really no glitches in the website rollout? People in denial argue for the strangest things — but Reid went the extra mile. The nation should be laughing at his blatant attempt at deception, yet I doubt many liberals are.

Denial is a wonderful thing. It can cover a multitude of sins. For liberals, it is doing just that.

Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University. He can be reached at mfein@kennesaw.edu.
Comments
(9)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Mic Wise
|
April 22, 2014
Happy Earth Day. Nearly all climate scientists think that both climate change is real and it's caused by human activity. Only 3% are still debating the issue, are in denial, or are financially benefitting & don't care about the rest of us.
Brad R595
|
March 27, 2014
This conversation, like so many on this subject, is too simplistic. There are many elements of clmate science that are beyond discussion. The earth's atmosphere acts like a greenhouse, keeping the planet warmer than it would otherwise be. CO2 and methane are two major elements of the greenhouse. CO2 and methane are increasing due to man's actions. This increase is causing a warming tendency. Of these elements there can be no more a valid debate than the debate over whether the earth is flat or over 6000 years old or did dinosaurs actually exist.

But there are many elements that are still uncertain. How significant are the feedbacks that magnify or suppress the warming caused by man's actions? How sensitive is the climate to increases in CO2 or CH4? How bad will the inevitable warming be? Is it easier and more cost effective to adapt to or try to mitigate the warming? These are items open to much debate and uncertainty. For these items, the science is surely not settled.

For me, the only prudent course is for us to embrace renewable energy, nuclear, and energy efficiency and to reduce our other harmful practices such as deforestation and building too near the coast.
Voters of 3
|
March 24, 2014
Melvyn - are you a scientist? climatologist? You can print your nonsense and try to deny climate change all you want. But, please try to state facts and not fiction.

While you are at it, go fly over Greenland.
p.meazell
|
March 17, 2014
Professor Fein-

If that(the 97% Study) was all that he had to argue with he was using an extremely flawed source.Those "97%" were contacted by Popular Technology and almost all said that their position was misstated.

http://www.populartechnology.net/2013/05/97-study-falsely-classifies-scientists.html#Update2

Forbes, among many other periodicals expounded on the story.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2013/05/30/global-warming-alarmists-caught-doctoring-97-percent-consensus-claims/

Ask him to do another podcast with REAL data- there is little to back up his claim.
KLN2
|
March 16, 2014
Actually, it is the religious right wingers that are in denial. You, Mr. Fein, are not a scientist!
Donald E. Mees, M.D.
|
March 14, 2014
Dismisses scientific consensus. Dismisses peer review for science publications. Dismisses using the power of the computer to help anticipate climate changes. Doesn't see the irony of his discussion of denialism.
Bill Butler
|
March 13, 2014
Actually it’s a 99.8 % percentage that say global warming is real and less than 0.2% that reject it.

http://desmogblog.com/2012/11/15/why-climate-deniers-have-no-credibility-science-one-pie-chart

Al Borderline
|
March 13, 2014
What's to "believe" or "deny" while science is 100% certain smoking does cause cancer but are only 95% certain that the end is near for billions of innocent children from Human CO2?

Only science can determine certainty so don't tell kids that science "believes" as much as you do.

Rickey Cole
|
March 19, 2014
Sounded like a political article to me.

*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides