Debatable Science? The fallacy of Steve "the Junkman" Milloy

Wed, 2007-10-10 10:00Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Debatable Science? The fallacy of Steve "the Junkman" Milloy

Many of the recent attempts to discredit the science of human-induced climate change have come in the form of challenging Vice-President Al Gore to a public debate . This, of course, is a big red herring when you consider that it is not “Al Gore's science,” but instead the conclusion drawn through years of research by thousands of experts.

However, by tagging the scientific evidence that human activity in the form of burning fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) is causing global warming as “Al Gore's science,” right-wing think tanks and fossil fuel friendly front groups have effectively politicized an issue of science (at least in the United States).

The most recent campaign has been mounted by former tobacco company lobbyist Steve “the Junkman” Milloy and the fossil-fuel industry backed Business and Media Institute (BMI).

Here's their latest posting. And here's the definition of the scientific method for Milloy and the BMI. You'll notice that the definition does not include public debate, and this is  where Milloy and the BMI fail to grasp (or conveniently ignore) the most fundamental component of science.

It is through research that scientists debate.

What Milloy and others have effectively done is convince a large portion of the public that scientific findings are nothing more than an opinion to be considered and debated in the same way one might debate whether Britney Spears deserves custody of her children. 

So if Milloy and the BMI want a “scientific debate,” I would suggest that instead of spending all their time and money on specious arguments, they instead fund actual research and begin to prove or disprove the evidence for human-induced climate change.

Or instead, I would suggest that Milloy and the BMI would be better off applying their skills in an arena of debate more suited to their way of thinking, namely the comment section on PerezHilton.com.

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