Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Andrew Bolt argues like a Creationist.

Andrew Bolt is a generous man. If not for his journalistic output, thousands of kids across the country wouldn’t have an easy target with which to get them through their critical analysis unit for year nine English. Bolty (who is gainfully employed by a major metropolitan newspaper despite the fact that he writes like that one young-Liberal guy who occasionally contributes to the student paper) has set himself up as ‘Australia’s last climate change skeptic’ and likes to take every opportunity to parade his ignorance while carrying out this role. While reading his latest tirade in which he strikes Herald Sun gold by simultaneously bitching about Bob Brown et al and pretending like he cares about bushfire victims ('Stridently Dark Green', Herald Sun Feb 18th 2008) I couldn’t help but notice that Bolt argues exactly like a Creationist. You know what a Creationist is right? These are the people who believe a literal interpretation of the Bible and insist that, amongst other things, the Earth is ~6,000 years old, evolution is a myth and dinosaurs are explained by fossils being planted by god or fossils being planted by the devil or they were mentioned in Job or they are actually real and they haven’t gone extinct because god wouldn’t let his creatures go extinct so you know the Loch Ness Monster? Yeah, that’s a living dinosaur, etc. Creationists are very easy to refute because, in addition to having no evidence whatsoever to back up their claims, they tend to use the same arguments over and over again - the same crappy arguments that Bolt uses in his article which similarly tries to refute sound science with bland ignorance. Let’s examine each contention and see how Andy compares with the Creationist school of argumentative style:

Contention # 1: Global warming is wrong because it’s not getting warmer everywhere.
The most frustrating thing about Bolt’s article is his continuous (and misrepresentitive) use of the term ‘global warming’. Bolty’s basic argument goes like this: It’s been cold in parts of the world this year. Cold ≠ warm. Global warming is wrong, QED. He’s playing with semantics and acting like simple word-play is going to cause all the evidence to just disappear. The theory in question in it’s current form is known as ‘climate change’ and implies just that: extreme change in the climate. The term ‘global warming’ has not been in use in the scientific community for a number of years – Andy knows this, but deliberately uses the old one because then he can ignore any evidence that suggests significantly cooler weather patterns caused by human activity.

This misrepresentation of terms and subsequent mendacious word-play is also a favourite of the Creationist who love to refer to the theory of evolution. Hey, it’s just a theory, it’s not like, a fact. A theory in the scientific sense is an idea that explains all the available evidence and makes predictions that are supported by any new evidence – such as evolution. (And things like gravity, germ theory and atomic theory.) There is not the same level of uncertainty as when we use the word in a conversational sense. Incidentally, this is why I have no fear of jumping off high buildings, because after all, gravity is only a theory.

What Bolty said: Global warming over and over - 14 times in total. (The term 'climate change' was used only 4 times and in every case was contained in the quotation of someone who actually had some idea of what they were talking about.)

What the Creationists say: Evolution is theory, not science, and any theory that says nothing times nothing equals everything is flawed from the outset. - cameron222, Rapture Ready forums

Contention #2: The adherents of climate change are like a religious movement.
Throughout his article Bolt refers to climate change proponents as ‘preachers’ who are ‘lecturing us on our sins against the planet’. The implication is that these people base their views, not on solid scientific evidence, but through some sort of environmental revelation that provides it’s adherents with a religious-like certainty that they are right. Bullshit. The notion of climate change is based on decades of accumulated scientific data from myriad different fields. It has been accepted as sound science by the majority of the scientific community. What information does Bolty have that atmospheric scientists are unaware of? It is the people that are vehemently opposed to the idea of climate change that are guilty of dogmatically ignoring evidence because it doesn’t tie in with their blinkered worldviews – and Bolt is a particularly consistent example.

Implying that your opponents are pontificating at you from a sense of self-righteousness rather than from an unbiased interpretation of the evidence is a common (and amusingly ironic) accusation of the Creationist against the scientific mainstream. They say that Darwinism is a religion because it demands faith to accept the naturalistic explanation of life on this planet. Once again, the contrast is between one group basing their stance on evidence and another simply asserting that it is right.

What Bolty said: Preaching green sermons over the dead is vile enough [...]

What Creationists say: Now that the Theory of Evolution has been disproven, why is it still taught in our schools? [...] Evolutionist lecturers and writers would stop earning the more than $1 billion they earn every year by preaching evolution. - Dr. Michael J. Bisconti, The L. F. Nexus

Contention #3: People that accept climate change are ‘warmists’.
At one point in his woefully poorly written article, the B-man refers to a mysterious group of people known as ‘the warmists’. Given that climate change (or ‘global warming’ as it is known by Bolt and people that lived in the eighties) is accepted by the majority of the scientific community and the public, why are it’s adherents being described like some kind of atmospheric science splinter group? Quick! Everyone out of the earth science building! The Warmists have staged a coup and are going to turn the physics department into a paramilitary outfit! Please. This is basically on par with calling someone a ‘spherical earthist’.

Guess what? Creationists love calling people that accept evolution (AKA sane people), ‘Evolutionists’. And guess what else? There’s no such thing as an Evolutionist – there are just people who are willing to accept what the evidence is telling us. Like Bolt, these people are implying some kind of schism when one simply doesn’t exist.

What Bolty said: [T]here are two more reasons to reject this crowing of the warmists

What Creationists say: I'm disgusted with all evolutionist, because they refuse to see the truth, or even look into with an open eye (though i'm sure everyone of you will claim you have) but if you did, you would see the truth. - Heather, No Answers in Genesis

Contention #4: Global warming theory is in trouble.
Inherent in this article and all of Bolt’s references to climate change in his ‘journalism’ is that it is a ‘theory in trouble’. This is so startlingly reminiscent of Creationist rhetoric that it’s almost indistinguishable. If climate change is an unsound theory, why is the worldwide scientific community in consensus on it’s validity? Why are it’s critics always semi-literate right-wing journalists and not atmospheric scientists? The Creationists make the same assertion about evolution, verbatim. And just like Andy, they’re full of shit.

What Bolty said: Ask the high priests of warming at The Age which on Monday ran this attempt to disguise the fact that global warming is a theory in trouble

What Creationists say: Why not just check out Creationist classic 'Evolution: A Theory In Crisis' by Michael Denton?

Conclusion: Andrew Bolt, like the Creationists, is doing his best to sound like his strident denialism is somehow equally valid as countless years of carefully accumulated scientific evidence. But, ironically, it all just amounts to a lot of detrimental hot air. Probably the best part of the article for me was when Bolty referred to Tim Flannery as ‘another preacher with no formal training in climate science.’ I’m sure there’s some sort of appropriate metaphor here involving black kitchenware but it’s so bloody hot in here at the moment, I can hardly think.



Roger said...

I've seen the archaeopteryx fossil from 1 cm away AND IM TELLING YOU ITS A FAKE!!!111

dr. jack cambrian said...

Oh great, yet another Archaeopteryxist.

Take Of That Suit Its Chafing said...

excuse me for being gingerbread.

but maybe someone should tell A.B, seeing as he's use the Global Warming term 14 times, that actually... the ...well... the globe...well its...its... actually warming!

Climate Change term was introduced for political measures, to try and temper the term. and to make it seem more natural.

But IPCC does state the Globe is actually Warming. And that fact is IRREFUTABLE

ive seen the archaeopteryx. i thought the original was in Germany...I saw it in Berlin...its still there as far as i know