letter to the editor

Truthful skeptical inquiry and complex issues

Mon, 01/16/2023 - 3:45pm

Dear Editor:

The journal “Science” is a well respected publisher of scientific articles. It earned its reputation by publishing claims that are peer reviewed by other scientists. This is one of the foundational premises of how science works.

Lately, three scientists from Harvard published an article in “Science” that reviewed other scientists' findings on climate change. These scientists happened to work for Exxon-Mobil going back to the 1970s. The Harvard scientist’s review concluded that the scientists at Exxon-Mobil were accurate in their predictions of how carbon dioxide emissions contribute to climatic heating.

That Exxon-Mobil decided to sweep these findings under the rug and create a propaganda campaign of denial and deception is unsurprising given the company’s economic stake in the question.

Part of this campaign of deception by the fossil fuel industry’s apologists is to cherry pick data to give the impression that climate change is of little concern. That is the opposite of truth seeking in that it arrives at a conclusion first then finds evidence to support that conclusion, ignoring all other evidence to the contrary.

So what is the average citizen to do? We are invited to do our own “due diligence.” What does that mean for the complex science of climate change? Obviously we are not going to set up laboratories in our back yard or go back to school to better understand the physics behind the observations.

It comes down to the question of in whom we place our trust. In doing our “due diligence” we must be able to identify those who are expert and those who are not.

On one hand we have a consensus of climate scientists who have studied the data and understand the underlying physics, on the other hand we have corporate propagandists and the corrupt politicians whom they support that have every economic incentive to deceive the public.

Ultimately, the question of whom to trust is one of personal integrity. You can choose to be the sort of person who chooses truthful skeptical inquiry or live in a state of denial and ignorance.

Fred W. Nehring