Lv 5
Brad asked in EnvironmentGlobal Warming · 1 decade ago

Why do man-made Global Warming alarmists frequently use the fallacious appeal to authority?

The defenders of the increasingly discredited theory of man-made Global Warming constantly use appeals to authority as if they are valid arguments. Typically, this argument takes the form of arguing that only "peer-reviewed" articles are valid and discounting any evidence to the contrary that is not peer reviewed. This argument was recently made by Ed Begley Jr. on Neal Cabuto's program (see:

Youtube thumbnail


Putting aside the fact that Climategate has exposed "peer review" (especially "peer reviewed" climate "science") as a fraud, this argument is a classic logical fallacy. Just because something is published in a "peer-reviewed" journal does not mean that it is true. Furthermore, just because something is not published in a "peer-reviewed" journal does not mean that it is false. Furthermore, whether or not there is a "consensus" among scientists that the man-made Global Warming theory is true (this seems dubious at best) is irrelevant, as the "consensus" of scientists may be wrong (and has usually been in the past; the "consensus" of climate scientists in the 1970s was that we were headed toward an Ice Age; back then, Obama's science adviser Holdren believed this; see: ).

Why does it always seem that the man-made Global Warming alarmists seem to rely upon logical fallacies such as the appeal to authority?

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Not everything that passes peer review is true, and not everything that's not peer-reviewed is false. There is no ultimate arbiter of truth, including peer review. However, peer review does provide a good first-cut filter for obviously false claptrap, stuff with major unaddressed problems, and stuff with big mistakes. So if something passes peer-review, it's not total junk. BUT, if something fails peer-review, that's a huge red flag.

    Since most of the stuff that passes for "science" among the denier crowd amounts to nothing better than political blog postings, standing on peer-review is a good first step to separate the wheat of real science from the chaff of political drivel.

    Contrary to your claim, CRU emails don't expose peer-review as a fraud at all: in fact quite the reverse. The alleged evidence is one widely-cited email from Mann, in which he says, "I think we have to stop considering "Climate Research" as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal". However, Mann's complaint was that the peer-review process in CR didn't work properly, in that the conclusions of the paper (Soon 2003) were not supported by the data therein. In fact this was so obvious that half the editorial board of CR eventually resigned in protest over this very paper.

    Contrary to your claim, scientific consensus is usually right, and very seldom wrong. For example, Newton's laws of motion are part of scientific consensus, and they still work pretty well. The same goes for the discovery of Neptune (it's still there), the structure of DNA, the atomic theory of matter, and the list goes on and on. Global cooling was never part of any scientific consensus, in spite of denier claims. Here's a peer-reviewed paper:

    ... and, just so you'll be happy, the same story from a non-peer-reviewed source:

    Bottom line: if any parts of the denier position were correct, those parts would be able to pass peer-review.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Gail
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Yes it has become a religion and Al Gore is the pope of the cult.Think of how much money certain groups will make off of the hype.Think of all that government money going to "research".Besides there is only so much you can do ,after all whoever controls the weather controls the world.Fear is the best political motivator. Climate change is part of the nature of the planet.Common sense is to have clean energy but until there is a buck in it all that happens is talk,talk and more talk.Government regulations,fines and penalties(gotta get that bailout money somewhere) We certainly need clean air and water .I am the original recycler and I don't waste energy just like many other people.I use energy and don't go for the "guilt" trip of doing so. I have a problem with Gore the guru who flies around a fuel guzzling jet.So does Queen Pelosi who opted for a bigger one to fly back and forth to California.Remember her saying she wants to save the planet,yeah she flies we walk.We can all start by using the new energy saving light bulbs. Oh I forgot they are the ones with mercury in them.Oh,well seems like a good idea at the time. I guess you all heard that some genius politician wanted to tax cow farmers for any that own more than 100 for emitting "methane gas" yeah it's true.Can we bottle it instead?Or on second thought send some from the bull to that politician as he knows the B.S. when he sees or smells it.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    Study some logic.

    The appeal to authority is a fallacy in that it isn't always true. However, when the authorities are experts, they are usually right.

    If you are a betting man, going with the experts is a good idea. Going with the entire scientific community is nearly a sure bet.

    You also lied. There was no consensus about global dimming in the 70's. A study of the literature shows more papers supporting global warming that dimming (which is no long an issue due to the fact we cut sulfide emissions.).

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You are absolutely correct that the appeal to authority is a fallacious argument technique.

    However, the reason this happens is because many of the arguments against Global Warming have been dealt with, and so it isn't entirely unreasonable to point out a source rather than restate all the evidence which can be cumbersome.

    None of the e-mails from the CRU have demonstrated the data to be false, and I've not yet seen any evidence that they falsified the data. There are other sources of data that are in strong agreement with the data from the CRU. For instance look at the Goddard Space Flight Centers data at NASA.

    If you don't think that Global Warming is happening, I challenge you to find a decade in human history where the global temperatures were hotter than they have been for this decade.

    Note: I'm aware that in the US the hottest years were in the 1930's, but this isn't global.

    I'm also aware that Greenland was warmer than it is now during the medieval warm period, that was also local, not global.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    There is no fallacy involved in simply arguing that the assertion made by an authority is true. I try to use peer-reviewed articles as my sources because I don't have expert command of this subject. Likewise, if I got sick, then I would go to the doctor's office instead of treating the illness myself because I don't have expert knowledge of medicine. I would go even though medical science is sometimes wrong.

    The fallacy only arises when (A) it is implied that the authority is infallible. Sure it's possible that anthropogenic global warming isn't occurring, but the mountain of evidence says otherwise; or (B) the authority isn't an expert, such as Lord Mockington.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    If peer-review were "a fraud" as you claim, then "skeptical" scientists like Lindzen, Christy, Spencer, Carter, Douglass, etc. wouldn't be able to get their studies published in peer-reviewed journals. But putting aside this false claim, since you asked...

    You then make another false claim that there was a consensus among climate scientists in the '70s that we were headed toward an ice age. The real consensus at the time was that the planet would warm.

    But back to the question at hand (it's hard to stay on topic when you continually make false, unsubstantiated claims) - most of us aren't climate scientists. Most people here don't even understand the most basic climate science, in fact. If you have chest pains and 9 doctors tell you that you need open heart surgery, are you going to ignore them because sometimes a consensus is wrong?

    It's true, consensus doesn't prove anything. It's also true that you can't get a consensus among scientists about anything unless the scientific evidence is very strong. Scientists aren't the kind of people who are easily convinced. They need to see concrete evidence like this:

    Most people who aren't capable of understanding the science are willing to defer to the opinions of the experts. That's where the consensus comes in. If you want to show us why we shouldn't believe these climate scientists know what they're talking about when it comes to climate science, feel free to build a scientific case for why they're wrong. But it's perfectly reasonable for people to defer to the experts.

    When people reject the consensus just because it's not correct 100% of the time, that's kind of ridiculous to me. If you want me to believe climate scientists are wrong about climate science, you've got to do a lot better than 'sometimes consensus is wrong'.

    As for peer-review, it's a necessary but insufficient measure. You need peer-review to filter out bad science, but sometimes bad science gets through anyway. But if a scientist is doing good research, he'll be able to get it published in a peer-reviewed journal somewhere.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • beren
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    yeah another logical fallacy they always use that if the climate has changed in the past, that man cannot have an effect on the climate now.

    no wait, that is you deniers.

    • Login to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.