Alleged 'consensus' on climate change challenged

“Nine out of ten doctors agree . . .”

That was a classic claim made in pharmaceutical advertising, and the assertion of a consensus of alleged authorities sounds impressive, but what does it really mean?

The claim raises many obvious questions, such as: Were thousands of doctors surveyed and 90 percent of them in agreement, or was it just ten doctors total? Do the doctors have actual expertise in the use of the product they've endorsed, or do their specialties lie elsewhere? Were they paid for their opinions? Perhaps most important, why does one out of ten doctors disagree?

Are the contrary 10 percent uneducated, ornery cranks or demented quacks? Or, are they the ones, though fewer in number, who actually have informed, disinterested, and dispassionate opinions?

Is it reasonable for targeted consumers not to care about what nine out of ten doctors agree on? If so, must something be done to make them accept this consensus?

Of course not. But what if the alleged consensus has to do not with a medical product but a scientific theory? What if vested interests are constantly advertising their theory and telling us that nine out of ten scientists agree with it and that the “science” is “settled”?

Yes, we're talking about climate change, the theory formerly known as global warming until the alleged evidence for it evaporated.

Why are proponents of this theory so adamant that it not be challenged? Why are they hell-bent on demonizing “deniers”?

Why did the Houston Chronicle chastise Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for interceding in the State of Massachusetts' politically motivated lawsuit against Exxon Mobil?

The amicus brief Paxton filed last month argues that Exxon Mobil's adversaries “falsely presume that the scientific debate regarding climate change is settled, along with the related and equally important debate on how to respond to what science has found.”

Forget the alleged consensus. Let's have an honest debate.

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