Posts Tagged ‘Science or Science Fiction?’


Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change

February 17, 2013

The headlines blazed!!

Forbes said…

Peer-Reviewed Survey Finds Majority Of Scientists Skeptical Of Global Warming Crisis

IBD said…

Global Warming Consensus Looking More Like A  Myth

WattsUpWithThat copied the the IBD headline.  And we are off and running.

The headlines of these blog articles all refer to the paper, “Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change,” in the journal Organization Studies.

Essentially, Forbes, IBD and WUWT were all saying  “Yippee!!  Here is a survey that shows most science and engineering professionals lean to the skeptical side when it comes to the question of global warming.”

Lessons to be learned here, and they are not pleasant.

I was given a hard copy to the Forbes article about the paper while visiting with a friend at a coffee shop. He knows of and shares my skepticism concerning much of the global warming alarmism. He shared the Forbes article as confirmation that skepticism was gaining ground. The Forbes article certainly presented it that way.

I thought “this would be a good topic  about which to write a blog post.”  (I also selfishly thought maybe I could scoop WUWT in this one.)  So, I got out my computer, logged onto the the coffee shop’s wi-fi and looked up the article.  Much to my chagrin, I found that the Forbes article (and subsequently the IBD article and even the WUWT article) greatly misrepresented the journal paper.

For those of you who have not actually read the journal paper, here is what it is really about: some social scientists are trying to peer into the minds of “deniers” (their word choice, not mine) to see what makes them tick.  What better laboratory could they find than engineers in Alberta that are likely associated with the gas and oil industry!

The authors of the paper are not saying “a bunch of smart scientist and engineer types think global warming is largely over-blown – maybe you should consider their perspective.” Rather, they are saying “Those poor engineer types up there in Alberta live in a world that revolves around oil and gas and their psyches are not able to grasp the true dangers of global warming because of the social and political structure in which they live.  What are the proper tactics to bring them around to the right kind of thinking?” (Not their actual words, but my interpretation of their words.)

Lesson #1

Maybe we ought to actually read journal papers before we start writing blog posts to interpret them for others.

Lesson #2

This journal article is an illustration of the primary problem in the global warming debate, and debates concerning other controversial scientific subjects (like GM plants and animals).  That is, many are fooled into thinking that weighing the credentials (or the social background, or the professional background, or the political affiliation, etc) of the advocate of a particular perspective is an adequate shortcut around the more arduous task of weighing the arguments of the advocate.  To wit, we don’t have to waste time listening to the reasoning of scientists and engineers from Alberta, we can simply dismiss them because the circumstances of those poor souls prevents them from being able to reason fairly.  This is the seductive path of lazy thinkers.

Lesson #3

Bad things could happen at WUWT when Anthony Watts takes a well deserved week-end break.

Lesson #4

My guess is that the authors of “Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change” are having a good laugh at the expense of Forbes, IBD, and WUWT