Karl Koehler: Lawmakers dismissive
Steamboat Springs — When catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) proponents resort to using the term “denier” to discount the views of those with whom they disagree about the urgent criticality of climate change, it’s a reliable signal that they’ll be unwilling to open-mindedly exchange thoughts on the topic.
Sen. Barbara Boxer and other Democrat leaders too commonly use the not-so-cleverly redefined term. Given that it is they who often reflexively dismiss scientific findings contrary to their world view, the hypocritical irony of the declaratory insult “denier” is particularly galling.
But to then double down behind a twisted sense of moral certitude and indignantly question an individual’s personal belief system or sense of spiritual identity in an effort to discredit their views in general, as exemplified by recent comments presented to Dave Moloney, well, that takes gall to a whole ‘nother level. But Mr. Moloney’s challengers were hardly the first intolerant anti-religionists to exploit this shallow form of “reasoning.”
Dr. Roy Spencer was subjected to exactly this sort of accusatory indignity when testifying last July before the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee. The “gotcha” attempt he was ambushed with came after he and Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. had provided persuasive testimonies refuting core tenets of the alarmist view of CAGW, specifically by highlighting scientifically-derived, peer-reviewed findings giving lie to the myth of extreme weather events being attributable to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations and citing findings that support lower than previously assumed climate sensitivities to CO2 increases. It is this latter variable that anyone credibly following the discussion recognizes as the real crux of the current debate.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) questioned Dr. Spencer – in an official committee hearing no less – as follows: “Let me um, turn to Dr. Spencer and let me, first ask a kind of unrelated question, Doctor. Do you uh, believe that the theory of creation actually has a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution?”
You can view this for yourself at the three-hour, 23-minute mark of the hearing, readily available on the web. In response, Dr. Spencer first laughed, I think in incredulous reaction to the puerile audacity of the partisanly dog-whistled inference in the question, and then asked in return, “And why are we going in this direction?” To which Sen. Whitehouse responded, “’Cause it’s something you’ve said, and I just want to see if you still believe in it.”
Dr. Spencer then proceeded to give an obviously honest and candid response with the bottom line being that after thoughtful consideration he personally found the theory of evolution in and of itself to be a scientifically inadequate explanation for the origin of life and had concluded therefore that creation must also have played a role in the process.
In his response, Dr. Spencer echoed the deist views known to have been shared by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Sen. Whitehouse gave no indication that he respected or even recognized that a viewpoint perhaps different from his own but no less valid had been presented for his consideration and instead forged ahead with the remainder of his well-rehearsed commentary while seeming smugly satisfied that he had somehow managed to call into question the eminent Dr. Spencer’s conclusions in their totality by pursuing this line of inquiry.
Such desperately discrediting tactics in my view tend to shed more light on the political and cultural mores of the inquisitioners than on the trustworthiness of the respondent’s opinions pertaining to wholly unrelated concerns, no matter the forum.
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Editor’s note: The story was updated at 8:33 p.m.