McKee showed ‘illiteracy’ on global warming
January 21, 2014 12:05 AM | 3431 views | 1 1 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Don McKee’s column “Polar vortex sets record low temps deep sixes global warming” Jan. 8, is yet another painful illustration of abject scientific illiteracy. Allow me to use his column to help readers recognize what scientific illiteracy looks like.

First, on terms: Everyone who can read should by now know that weather does not equal climate. Donald Trump, Don McKee and a host of other climate contrarians seem to struggle with this fact. Dictionaries are your friends, use them.

Second, on evidence: Related to the first point, a sudden drop in temperature for a few days where you happen to live is not sufficient evidence to contradict the decades of scientific evidence which show the average temperature of the planet is warming. Don’t be willfully ignorant.

Third, on sources: The New American is a publication of the John Birch Society. Scientific information should be gathered from scientific sources, not magazines which reside on an ideological fringe of the political spectrum. Even if the New American had it right, it would not be a credible source. Understand that credibility matters.

Finally, on half-truths: This statement, “ice covers in both the North and South Polar Regions have expanded,” is both vague and misleading. Ice covers and Polar Regions? Is Mr. McKee talking about continental polar ice shelves, which are unequivocally receding, or is he talking about polar sea ice coverage, which ebbs and flows with each season? Is he talking about just this season or does he mean over the past thirty years? And so on. Use critical thinking skills to analyze claims.

One needs to recognize that statements such as, “It’s cold outside therefore global warming isn’t real,” or “Some ice somewhere is increasing, therefore global warming isn’t real,” are nothing but bite-sized non-sequiturs set out to feed the confirmation bias machine. Neither claim deserves a seat at the grown-up table when discussing actual scientific evidence.

R.L. Bays

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Jim Warren
January 24, 2014
Excellent letter, Mr. Bays. I appreciate both your ability to articulate the fallacies in the column and your avoidance of the distressingly popular trend of brow-beating anyone whose viewpoint (fallacious or simply capricious) from one's own.
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