The philosophical failure of science

If he’s not careful, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Scientists is going to round up James Delingpole for excess public brutality. His demolition of the BBC and its so-called science experts borders on pure sadism:

The Beeb constantly resorts to ‘experts’ whose arguments are bigoted, feeble, fatuous, fallacious and stupid

‘Well, you’re arguing facts against opinions. OK, I
mean, the fact that the amount of carbon dioxide in the air has rocketed
up since the Industrial Revolution, and continues to rocket up, is a
fact. Now, it’s so much a fact that even the climate change deniers look
away from it and don’t deny it.’

— Professor Steve Jones, Feedback, BBC Radio 4, 18 October

Have a look at that last sentence. It represents such a cherishably
stupid, rude, fatuous, crabby, bigoted, ignorant, petulant, feeble,
fallacious, dishonest and misleading argument that if it turned out the
speaker in question was a professor of logic or philosophy you really
might want to shoot yourself in despair.

Can you see what the problem is? Let me explain. This angry professor
character wants us to believe that there are people called ‘climate
change deniers’ who are so far outside the pale of reasonable discourse
that even when they are right it’s another sign of just how wrong they

Atmospheric CO2 has been rising since the Industrial
Revolution, Jones is telling us, but those pesky deniers are so slippery
that they refuse to deny this fact. If they did, presumably, it would
make Jones’s job a lot easier because then he’d be able to provide a
clear example of these wrong ‘opinions’ deniers supposedly hold.
Apparently, though, Jones is unable to produce such a clear example. So
instead he has to fabricate one and — in the very next breath — to
discount it by conceding that actually this is a point on which ‘even’
the ‘deniers’ agree.

It’s a bad sign for the state of science when the average anklebiting blog troll can produce arguments that are more coherent, credible, and convincing than the official mouthpieces of scientific consensus. But then, that’s what happens when scientists show they are more dedicated to scientistry than scientody.

Appeal to authority are inherently problematic. But appealing to the climatological authority of a biologist whose specialty is snails? It requires years of J-school to produce that quixotic form of genius.