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Explanation Without End

This interview should be required listening for researchers and campaigners who are ever called to discuss or "debate" climate change in front of a hostile audience or on skeptic-populated airwaves. Indeed, it is an ideal template for anyone required to explain a contentious issue in a less than sympathetic environment.

In the clip embedded in the piece, John Abraham of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team uses a good-natured and calm approach to quietly and methodically knock down every one of the "arguments" raised by the interviewers, who are of course using standard boilerplate denialist talking-points. He does not lose his temper or sound frustrated, even though he - like anyone who has worked on, studied, written about or even merely read any climate science over the past decade - must have heard those talking points before. He knows that none of them are thought through, that when the interviewer claims to have done research on the matter he is in fact lying, that every one of those bullets he has to knock down are pseudoscientific nonsense designed to confuse and obfuscate. Instead, he treats every utterance as if it were a validly raised point, before showing its factual failings.

For anyone with an open mind but lack of knowledge, I suspect such an approach is highly effective. Unfortunately, not everyone has an open mind, and not everyone is available to be affected by reason. For many, climate change and their response to it is not a scientific matter, it is a belief system and their view will not be altered.

I am often struck, when skeptic/denialist readers leave comments on my Discovery Channel blog, how stupid many of them must think the rest of us are. "Earth has always had different climate states," they state, as if nobody had never figured that one out. "It's the Sun," claim others, as if that also had not been factored into models - and apparently ignorant of the fact that the Sun has of late been in a solar minimum, making current temperature trends all the more remarkable.

I am reminded, when reading them, of a quote from Charles Darwin, which one of the commenters to this article also cites:

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”
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