Nonskeptical Skeptic Michael Shermer (Unwittingly) Disproves AGW – Plus Bonus From Scientific American

When is a non-skeptical skeptic a skeptic? Why, that’s when skeptical words come out of a skeptic who, whilst for some reason unwilling to connect the last dots about Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), still manages to make a good case against AGW.

Step forward Michael Shermer of Skeptic Society fame, writing for the 100th time in the July issue of Scientific American to ponder: "What Skepticism Reveals about Science".

As usual, Shermer’s remarks are very useful to explain how fundamentally and intrinsically reasonable is to have a skeptical approach on everything. For example this is the perfect reply to those tut-tutting skeptics as purveyors of nothing (in fact, it’s the people all too ready to believe in this or that phenomenon, the ones making it much more difficult to understand):

I’m a skeptic not because I do not want to believe but because I want to know

Here’s instead why it makes little sense to ask skeptics to come up with alternative explanations:

the burden of proof is on the person asserting a positive claim, not on the skeptics to disprove it

Alas, Shermer’s skepticism stops at the door of AGW, presented by him as an example of "historical and inferential sciences…that point to an unmistakable conclusion"

Climate scientists prove anthropogenic global warming from the environmental sciences, planetary geology, geophysics, glaciology, meteorology, chemistry, biology, ecology, among other disciplines

Thus the Great Thinker of Contemporary Skepticism Michael Shermer appears to be a (firm?) AGW believer (even if not of the Romm/Desmogblog/Real Climate variety).

And who would have guessed it? Shermer, the poor thing, has been convinced of AGW by a showing of Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth" (for a not-your-usual rebuttal of AIT, follow this link. You too, Michael, please…).

But if you can take the skeptic out of Skepticism, you cannot take the skepticism out of the Skeptic. A few words away from AGW’s "unmistakable conclusions", Shermer manages to disprove AGW. Let’s see:

The principle of positive evidence applies to all claims. Skeptics are from Missouri, the Show-Me state. Show me a Sasquatch body

Can anybody "show me" anthropogenic global warming? With the recent Copenhagen scientific conference making little progress in detection/attribution, I guess not.

Shermer continues:

negative evidence along the lines of “I can’t think of any other explanation,” … is no evidence at all

How many times have we been told that the evidence for the reality of AGW is in the impossibility to write a realistic model using only natural variability? Answer: many. Well, now we can reply with Shermer: that "is no evidence at all".

it is okay to say, “I don’t know,” “I’m not sure” and “Let’s wait and see.”…In science, lots of mysteries are left unexplained until further evidence arises, and problems are often left unsolved until another day…If there is one thing that the history of science has taught us, it is that it is arrogant to think we now know enough to know (w)hat we cannot know

For example, climate models are incomplete, still not functioning and not reasonably realistic and most likely pretty much useless for serious climate projections at the moment and for ever.

Wouldn’t it make sense to leave the climate computation problem unsolved until another day? Isn’t it arrogant to think we now know enough to know what we cannot know?



Millimeters away from Shermer’s column, an article by Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, the one and only scientist that has ever visited a place rather than Earth. He’s been called in due to his expertise about planets, you know, to write about: "Space Geology: From the Moon to Mars".

Looks like Schmitt is qualified to talk about planets. But wait…isn’t the same Schmitt that has "come out" as a self-proclaimed AGW skeptic?

Who knows, one day we might get a Shermer column on how an expert cannot see what are supposed to be AGW’s "unmistakable conclusions"…