There are a lot of bad reasons for rejecting the science of climate change (indeed, there are no good reasons), but some arguments are more well thought out than others. This is not going to be an article about one of those arguments. Rather, I am going to write a brief, cathartic rant about a particularly stupid argument that arises so frequently that it deserves to be its own internet law (much like a climate change version of Godwin’s law).
Before I go any further, I do want to clarify that I am calling the argument stupid, rather than the people who make the argument. It is entirely possible for otherwise rational people to be so blinded by their biases that they make utterly idiotic arguments, and I think that is exactly what is happening here, at least I hope it is, because the argument is breathtakingly stupid. Indeed, it is so moronic that anyone making it has just demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that they don’t understand anything about climate change and are refusing to believe it because of political biases rather than an examination of the facts. So, if you ever find yourself being tempted to use this argument, please reflect carefully on it, and re-evaluate your biases and views. Really ask yourself, “is this actually a good argument?” and if you conclude that it isn’t (as you should) then ask yourself why you were tempted to believe/use it.
The argument in question involves invoking Al Gore and it can take one of two forms, both of which are childish and inane. The first takes the form of, “Al Gore said X, and X wasn’t true, therefore global warming isn’t real.” The second version occurs when someone arbitrarily accuses someone of believing in climate change because Al Gore said its real. See, for example, the screen shot from a recent thread on my Facebook page where someone did exactly that. As usually happens with this argument, at no point did I bring up Gore or anything political, but out of the blue came an accusation that I just blindly follow whatever Gore said.
Both forms of this argument are wrong for the same blatantly obvious reason. Namely, Al Gore is 100% irrelevant to debates on global warming. He is not a scientist, and no scientists care what he thinks. No one accepts climate change because he said so. We accept it because of the overwhelming body of evidence showing that it is real. Similarly, climate change deniers act as if any mistakes that he made indicate that the science itself is flawed, but that is absurd. He doesn’t speak for scientists. He is not the arbiter of scientific consensus.
I care about actual climate studies, not Gore’s reporting of those studies, and the actual studies show that climate models have been very accurate, regardless of what Gore may or may not have said about them (I honestly have never even seen “An Inconvenient Truth”). If Al Gore said that the moon was made of green cheese, that wouldn’t mean that scientists are wrong about its real composition, but that is exactly the reasoning of this insane argument. Or, if we want to use the other variant of this argument, Gore believes that we are breathing oxygen, but it would be absurd to accuse someone of only accepting that we breathe oxygen because Gore says so.
Now, I should pause for a second and clarify that if someone says something like, “climate change is true because Gore said…” then and only then could the climate change denier attack Gore without committing a straw man fallacy (depending on how they structured the argument), but here’s the thing, in all the literally hundreds of climate debates I have been in over the years, I have never once seen someone invoke Gore as evidence for their position. Maybe it has happened at some point, but I have never seen it. Nevertheless, in a huge portion of those debates, at some point, the denier has brought up Gore as if that somehow helps their position. This is what I meant earlier when I said that it was like Godwin’s law. Just as Godwin’s law states that as any internet debate continues, the probability of someone bringing up Hitler/the NAZIs approaches 1 (i.e., 100%), even so, as any climate debate continues, the probability of the denier bringing up Gore approaches 1.
So why is this argument so common? Well, I am neither a psychologist nor a social scientist, so I am poorly equipped to answer that, but here is my best guess from the patterns I have seen in these debates. Although science is inherently apolitical, people often try to make it a political issue, and there is a pretty deep divide between republicans and democrats on climate change (though that divide has lessened in recent years). Thus, even though climate change is not a political topic, many people refuse to believe it for political reasons. As a result, Republicans often associate it with Al Gore, even though Gore is irrelevant to those of us who accept the science. Thus, this argument actually demonstrates their own biases and faulty way of thinking about science, rather than being a valid criticism of the evidence.
In short, there is no reason to bring up Al Gore in a climate debate. We accept that climate change is happening because of the evidence, not because of Gore, and if you actually think that we accept it because of Gore, then you need to carefully re-examine your views, because you are simply displaying your own biases and cognitive errors.
Note: After posting this, someone pointed out that others have had similar thoughts before me and already coined the term “Gore’s law.”
- 25 myths and bad arguments about climate change
- Climate change and a flat earth (I can’t believe we’re still dealing with this argument)
- Dear Americans, stop using China and India as climate change scapegoats
- Global warming hasn’t paused
- Global warming isn’t natural, and here’s how we know
- How not to science: Lessons from flat earthers and climate change deniers
Nye’s Law is probably not too far behind.
Would like to see an exchange between you and Climate of Sophistry (WordPress) or realclimatescience.com
Of all the climate ‘debunking’ arguments out there I’m surprised you took on the weakest one available
He will loose the debate.
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I have written many posts about climate change dealing with many different arguments. I’m not arguing that the denialist position is wrong because the Al Gore argument is stupid. Rather, I am simply debunking an undeniably stupid argument. If you would like to read my other posts in which I go into detail of the science and cite numerous peer-reviewed studies, you can find a complete list of posts here
I’d particularly recommend these posts
Oh man! But I HAVE read them! It just shows how EXTTREMELY BIASED you are towards
As I pointed out before, you are very blind to it.
I won’t discuss this any further because ‘science’ people can’t think straight anymore.
Seriously, it is not their fault, it is done by design,.I know you will deny this as you have done before, Interesting you never asked for proof, because there is plenty, that our ‘educational’ system dumbs people down, takes away their creativity and so on and so forth,
It is a sad stat of affiars, but the day the ‘science’ as it is today dissapears I will cheer!
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In those posts, I cited dozens of peer-reviewed studies supporting my position, and you have cited exactly zero studies supporting yours. You seem to expect me to simply take your word for it that essentially the entire scientific community is wrong, and thousands of careful, systematic studies are wrong, but you, despite your lack of training or experience, you have somehow arrived at the truth by sitting around and speculating. Can you seriously not see how absurd that is?
Indeed, your comments on the nature of science and thought processes of scientists make it abundantly clear that you have no earthly clue what science is, how it works, how scientists are trained, or how scientists arrive at their conclusions.
I have also encountered this so many times. If it happens, I recognize this person on the other side of the discussion has absolutely no interest in discussing anything. They only want to assert their political ideology in attempt to get likes or other comments joining in to reinforce them.
The author wrote:
” It is entirely possible for otherwise rational people to be so blinded by their biases that they make utterly idiotic arguments”
According to his writings, very clearly THIS ALSO APPLIES OBVIOUSLY TO HIM!
he is extremely biased and don’t even see it himself.
as I wrote before, arguing with a ‘scientist’ isn’t fruitfull. they really can’t think straight anymore!
I have never denied that I can also fall into cognitive traps. In fact, I have explicitly stated it numerous times on this blog. However, I am very aware of that I can fall into them and consciously try to avoid them. This is why I fact check everything very carefully using good sources, and only accept a position once the evidence for it is compelling. The claim that scientists can’t think straight anymore is absurd. We think very carefully and systematically about problems and we can be convinced that we are wrong, but, importantly, to do that you have to present good evidence from reputable sources, and that is what deniers can never do. If you can show me multiple well-conducted peer-reviewed studies that clearly show that we are not causing climate change and explain why all of the thousands of studies clearly showing that we are causing it are wrong, I will happily change my position and publicly acknowledge that I was mistaken, but those studies simply don’t exist.
Demanding evidence and accepting the results of thousands of studies is not being biased, it is being rational.
Nope, you fell for it, simple and easy. just check your site here with an open mind.
“Demanding evidence and accepting the results of thousands of studies is not being biased, it is being rational.”
Really? Can you explain why?
Seriously? You don’t think that carefully controlled studies (i.e., actual evidence) are better than sitting around and guessing? Exactly what do you propose as an alternative to science? How can you possibly test something like climate change with anything other than science? Science answers questions like, “are we causing climate change?” by carefully collecting evidence, testing possibilities, and falsifying hypothesis until there is a convergence on a single solution. That is why it works, and blindly rejecting its results is highly irrational.
Your comments are absurd to an extreme degree, and there is no point in debating someone who does not value evidence because there is nothing that will ever persuade them.
As I said, if you can present me actual studies (i.e., evidence) I will accept that I am wrong, but until such time as you can do that, I am going to accept all the evidence showing that you are wrong. Refusing to change your position based on evidence is the very definition of biased.