Today’s NewsHour story on climate change was a low point for PBS. I would expect Fox News to give equal time to pseudoscientists like Anthony Watts, but this should have been beneath the journalistic integrity of PBS. Did it not occur to the reporter to look into Mr. Watts’ educational background and professional qualifications before giving his opinion equal weight? An AMS seal is a broadcasting credential, and does not suggest any background or training in science. To suggest that Watt’s opinion on climate is valid is like suggesting that a dog catcher is qualified to dispute the professional opinion of 97% of veterinarians. His website specializes in smearing honest scientists and manufacturing doubt. His claims have been debunked over and over (by actual scientists who are held to a standard of professional peer review).
Finally, I would suggest that you not accept the framing language of deniers. We scientists are not “believers.” That’s a pejorative term designed to suggest a religious adherence. We are persuaded by facts, evidence, and the incontrovertible laws of physics. Likewise, deniers are not “skeptics.” They believe in “natural cycles” that are not explainable by physics. They believe that urban heat islands can affect the temperature of the planet, despite the fact that cities make up less than 1% of the area of the Earth’s surface, and despite the fact that the places that are warming the fastest (the Arctic and Siberia) lack cities. Deniers are not the skeptics. We are. People who reject pseudoscience are properly called “skeptics.” People who reject facts and evidence are called “believers.” It is dishonest and Orwellian to reverse the meanings of these words.
Mark Boslough, Ph.D.
Fellow, Committee for Skeptical Inquiry