Monckton of Brenchley @ Watts Up With That:
LOGIC is the heartbeat of all true learning – the soul of the Classics, the Sciences and Religion. Once everyone studied the Classics, to know that in logic there is a difference between true and false; the Sciences, to discern where it lies; and Religion, to appreciate why it matters. Today, few study all three empires of the mind. Fewer study the ordered beauty of the logic at their heart.
Is Private Fraser’s proposition that “We’re a’ doomed!” logical? I say No. G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “When men have ceased to believe in Christianity, it is not that they will believe in nothing. They will believe in anything.” The belief that Thermageddon will arise from our altering 1/3000th of the atmosphere in a century is in-your-face illogical, rooted in a dozen fallacies marked out by Aristotle as the commonest in human discourse.
“Consensus” is the New Religion’s central fallacy. Arguing blindly from consensus is the head-count fallacy, the argumentum ad populum. Al-Haytham, founder of the scientific method, wrote: “The seeker after truth does not put his faith in any mere consensus. Instead, he checks.”
Two surveys have purported to show 97% of climate scientists supporting the supposed “consensus”. In both, 97% agreed little more than that the world has warmed since 1950. So what? One involved just 79 scientists, hardly a scientific sample size. Neither was selected to eliminate bias. Neither asked whether manmade global warming was at all likely to prove catastrophic – a question expecting the answer “No.”
Claiming that the “consensus” is one of revered experts is the argumentum ad verecundiam, the fallacy of appeal to authority. T.H. Huxley said in 1860, “The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties: blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”
Believers talk of a “consensus of evidence”. Yet evidence cannot hold opinions. Besides, there has been no global warming for 18 years; sea level has risen for eight years at just 1.3 in/century; notwithstanding Sandy, hurricane activity is at its least in the 33-year satellite record; ocean heat content is rising four and a half times more slowly than predicted; global sea-ice extent has changed little; Himalayan glaciers have not lost ice; and the U.N.’s 2005 prediction of 50 million “climate refugees” by 2010 was absurd. The evidence does not support catastrophism.
Believers say: “Only if we include a strong warming effect from CO2 can we explain the past 60 years’ warming. We know of no other reason.” This is the argumentum ad ignorantiam, the fundamental fallacy of argument from ignorance. Besides, natural variability is reason enough.
They say: “Global warming is accelerating, so we are to blame.” Even if warming were accelerating, this non sequitur is an instance of the argumentum ad causam falsam, the fallacy of arguing from a false cause. They go on to say: “CO2 concentration has risen; warming has occurred; the former caused the latter.” This is the post hoc ergo propter hoc sub-species of the same fallacy.
They say: “What about the cuddly polar bears?” This is the argumentum ad misericordiam, the fallacy of needless pity. There are five times as many polar bears as there were in the 1940s – hardly, as you may think, the profile of a species at imminent threat of extinction. No need to pity the bears, and they are not cuddly.