How to Detect Pseudoscience: The Case of Bill McKibben and Catastrophic Global Warming

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Bill McKibben’s recent article, “The Terrifying New Math of Global Warming”, has caused a sensation on the Internet. Typical coverage is the Huffington Post’s awestruck “McKibben’s Climate Change Masterpiece Is Strictly by the Numbers”.

My colleague, physicist Eric Dennis and I read the piece and we both judged it as incontrovertible pseudo-science, skewed from beginning to end by the author’s anti-industrial ideology. We could have done a point-by-point dissection of the piece (actually, CIP’s researchers already have, and we will probably post it later).

But the problem with this piece, and the rave reviews and superficial opposition it’s getting, is not any given fact or inference.

The problem that makes McKibben’s piece possible is that Americans have never been taught to distinguish science from pseudoscience–how to think critically about scientific claims.

So on this episode of Power Hour, Dr. Dennis and I discuss the three questions you need to ask about any scientific claim you hear. Making a lesson out of McKibben, we explain that if you ask these questions of McKibben’s piece (and most of what you read on climate) its claims of catastrophe are revealed to be baseless while its prescribed solutions are revealed to be catastrophic.

Don’t believe me? Watch and find out. Stick around until the end, when we offer McKibben McKibben and anyone he chooses $10,000 to debate us at Duke University.

Bill McKibben famously said that if the (economically vital) Keystone XL Pipeline was allowed to exist, it was “game over” for the planet. We believe this episode is “game over” for Bill McKibben.

 

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