Climate change debate ‘mislabelled’

Recently the ABC aired new TV show—I can change your mind about climate change—but according to Dr Susan Lawler, Head of the Department of Environmental Management and Ecology at La Trobe University it is not about changing minds but more about changing misleading jargon.

Climate Change‘Sceptics, as portrayed in the media circus, are completely mislabelled. Those who deny actual evidence cannot be called sceptics,’ says Dr Lawler. 

‘They begin by believing in the rightness of their cause, and then cherry pick their facts. No true sceptic would develop an argument based on bias alone.’

‘Scientists are the true sceptics. They begin with doubt, rather than beginning with belief. They ask themselves, “What kind of data could I collect that would prove to me that an idea I think is right is actually wrong?”’

Scientists ask rigorous questions, test assumptions and scrutinise each other’s logic. Yet when 97% of scientists agree that climate change is caused by human activities, they are labelled “believers”.

‘This is a deeply misleading word for the scientists involved, and it is offensive to true believers as well. I am aware that teaching evolution often causes conflict for students whose families think this branch of biology is opposed to a belief in God, but I do not expect my students to deny themselves a spiritual connection to the universe,’ says Dr Lawler.

‘Climate change deniers are neither sceptics nor believers. They do not believe in anything, other than their own opinions. Because they try to argue about the evidence, they pretend to be sceptics, but they are not. Their scholarship is insufficient, their doubt is selective, and their arguments are flawed.

‘Over 150 years since Darwin, scientists continue to learn about evolution by debunking every new idea about the details. Now, that’s scepticism for you.’

For more on the mislabelled debate visit: www.latrobe.edu.au/news/articles/2012/opinion/belief-and-scepticism 

ENDS

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Meghan Lodwick

La Trobe University Communications Officer

T:  03 9479 5353 M:  0418 495 941 E: M.Lodwick@latrobe.edu.au