climate denial is not skepticism!

Submitted by naught101 on Sun, 02/04/2007 - 02:17

lets see. here are the relevant entries from Wiktionary (if you don't agree with them, you can change them!):

skeptic - Noun -

  1. Someone undecided as to what is true.
  2. Someone who habitually doubts accepted beliefs and claims presented by others, requiring strong evidence before accepting any belief or claim.

denier - Noun -

  1. Someone who denies something.

see, the obvious difference here is that a skeptic needs evidence before changing their mind. a denier simply doesn't change their mind.

If you are an alcoholic, and I say "you're addicted" your responses might be "I don't think so, what makes you think that?" or "I don't believe you, prove it to me". that would be skepticism. It implies that you are open to debate, open to new information, and, importantly, open to changing your views, thoughts, and beliefs.

if, on the other hand, you simply said "no I'm not" without listening to the reasoning behind my statement, you would be in denial.

and that's where the current "debate on climate change" lies, as it relates to whether it is happening or not (oh dear, I just thought of one of the most horrible puns ever: "climate change, weather it's happening or not"). there are those who believe that it's happening fast, those that believe it is happening slowly, and those that are in complete denial. there are no more climate change skeptics. if there are, it's only because they haven't had a chance to read all the evidence that's available out there.

so if you're still a little skeptical, have a bit more of a read. climate science sites such as, and are a great place to start. If you come across someone claiming to be a climate skeptic, check their references. make sure they are up to date too, because as far as I know there has been no new evidence to contradict the climate change hypothesis (evidence, not proof) since Roy Spencer and John Christy re-adjusted their satellite datareading in late 2005 (exact date?) ( )

happy climate denier hunting!


[...] Sun 4 Feb 2007 slamming the deniers Posted by naught101 under climate denial  I think I’ve found a new hobby! it’s more fun than clubbing seals, and it’s ethical too! it’s climate denier bashing! I’m not talking climate change skeptics here, skepticism is well and good, but most of what you hear these days ain’t skepticism, it’s denial pure and simple (I’ve posted a page on the difference in definitions). [...]

To some extent, i.e. whether global warming is happening, the debate on climate change is a non-debate. Global warming is unequivocal, as you know (but many refuse to accept, for various reasons).

You might find it worthwhile visiting <a href="; rel="nofollow">Open Mind</a> by tamino to skim long threads commenting from many angles, but tamino maintains an interest in and emphasis on climate science and <strong>polite</strong> exchanges of views. (No ranting.)

Also, on my own site, I have responded to a few concerns raised by bloggers, e.g. <a href="…; rel="nofollow">here</a>.

I respond on the basis that everyone asking a question about climate change is asking it for genuine reasons, and wants clarification of a potentially confusing point.

So, although I am becoming aware of the names of key players (!) I do not categorise the questioners into sceptics or denialists: I just assume they are honest seekers of information and I try to write so middle school kids can understand our climate challenge too (hence my use of images as you can see <a href="…; rel="nofollow">here</a>).

P.S. The <a href="; rel="nofollow">IPCC</a> link is:, unless you want to send people to a Swiss German consulting group ;-)

inel: I agree. questions are always entirely valuable, and usually valid. I'm not talking about the questioners though, that's not denialism. I'm talking about the people who simply state their denial and refuse questions.

I've seen openmind before, it's a good blog.

Hello again naught101,

I still think there are people who are skeptics in the U.S. because they do not know enough science and/or do not trust science <em>per se</em> to provide evidence or other revealing answers. Instead, they are looking for economic arguments to sway them into changing their lifestyles and priorities. They will never be persuaded by scientific evidence because they do not understand what it is, but they <em>may</em> buy into a good financial or environmental health argument when it is presented. <a href="; rel="nofollow">Reasic</a> and I have been discussing this aspect of climate change on our blogs with people who seem to have such questions. They are not deniers, but are still doubters and require strong evidence in their own format that makes sense for viewing the world through economic mindsets, for example. That's why I would describe them as sceptical at the moment.

I guess we've got a little bit of a different target audience :)

I'm talking about people like Neil Boortz (check out my other post on him)

I agree with what you're doing, and saying. if people don't agree with the climate theory but are open to discussion and are asking questions and actually listening, then I wouldn't call them deniers.

the deniers are the ones who don't listen.

That's a great post. All scientists are trained to be skeptical. Being skeptical does not mean "believe the opposite of the mainstream no matter what." Keep up the good work.

Have you seen my blog? It has to do with how climate change relates to ideas such as credibility, responsible journalism, and risk management.

You can probably just click on my name and it'll take you there.