Quantifying skeptical arguments

How to rank skeptical arguments.

As somewhat a copycat, I’m taking after the Crackpot Index and making it unique to climate change skepticism. Looks like someone made one for evolution as well. It is a similar point system and designed to see who ranks where, and how various claims on the web should be taken. Much like crackpots and golfers, the higher the score, the more shame to your correspondent. Many of the claims themselves are not bad, but when put in the popular context of why AGW is a farce then if you see people using these arguments, please let them know how many points they scored and link them here.

1) 2 points– letting us know that climate is always changing

2) 2 points– Assuring us that more CO2 means more plants which is a good thing

3) 2 points– Based on solar activity, we’re now entering global cooling (without good evidence)

4) 2 points– Claiming that CO2 is not a pollutant

5) 2 points– Any claim or set of claims which are contradictory or logically inconsistent

6) 2 points– Suggesting to those who accept AGW that they need to stop breathing (2 more points
for telling them to live in a cave, not drive, or the like)

7) 5 points– Making those who accept AGW aware that science has been wrong before…as if this makes their position more supportable

8. 5 points– Suggesting that models are unique to climate science, or that they are useless

9) 5 points– Letting us know about the global cooling scare in the 1970’s

10) 5 points– For each “thought experiment” on why we can’t influence climate

11) 5 points– For pointing out that you or whoever wrote your source went to school or has such and such degree

12) 5 points– For discussions on Al Gore’s private jet or new house, etc

13) 5 points– For implying that because we don’t know everything, we know nothing

14) 10 points– offering prize money to prove AGW right, or your new theory wrong

15) 10 points– For comparing yourself, or some other to Einstein or Galileo

16) 10 points– Pointing out that the sun actually influences climate

17) 10 points– For pointing out that your city actually got snow, or that some glacier is growing somewhere

18. 12 points– For informing us that the whole solar system is warming up

19) 12 points– For each unquantified astronomical or extraterrestrial event that must warm Earth

20) 12 points– For pointing out that natural sources of CO2 are too big for human sources to matter

21) 15 points– For suggesting that CO2 can’t matter because it cooled from 1940-1970

22) 15 points– Telling us how Hansen and GISS are in on a big scare tactic and produce more alarming results than other groups

23) 15 points– For references to the “AGW models” or “AGW scientists” as if this were a group somewhere

24) 20 points– For proclaiming that Greenland got its name because it was “Green” and life flourished in Medieval times

25) 20 points– For saying water vapor makes up 95% of the greenhouse effect

26) 20 points– For implications that the PDO is responsible for a long-term global temperature change

27) 20 points– For suggesting that the “believers” are engaged in a religion, orthodoxy, sheep, groupthink, or anything of the sort

28. 20 points– For claiming CO2 can’t influence temperature because it lagged temperature in Vostok

29) 20 points– For pointing out that every time someone finds that winds or the ocean has influenced something (like sea ice), it means greenhouse gases no longer matter

30) 20 points– For claiming that sea levels have not risen

31) 25 points– For every mail-in petition or other “list of names” showing AGW is wrong

32) 25 points– For each usage of the word “hotspot”

33) 25 points– For every reference, or citation to something which uses the words, “hoax,” “scam,” “swindle,” or the like terminology

34) 25 points– For every claim that the IPCC have predicted “catastrophic” global warming

35) 25 points– For pointing out to everyone that greenhouse gases are only a small percent of the atmosphere, so they can’t matter much

36) 25 points– For claims that global warming stopped in 1998, or other such cherry-picking of small time intervals (add 5 points for each time a single date with an anomalous event is used as the start date for when global warming stopped)

37) 30 points– For claiming that there is no greenhouse effect

38. 30 points– For claiming the greenhouse effect violates thermodynamics (add 5 points to this or #37 for demonstrating that it doesn’t work like a real greenhouse)

39) 30 points– For pointing out that GHG’s are ‘saturated’ so no more matters

40) 30 points– For pointing out that we can’t predict weather tomorrow, so nothing about climate is predictable

41) 35 points– For each misapplication of well-established physical principles such as Kirchoff’s law, Clausius-Clapeyron to show that GHG’s cannot cause further warming.

42) 35 points- For suggesting that scientists have ignored all natural processes and just “assume” the warming is anthropogenic

43) 35 points– For suggesting that scientists are all involved in a conspiracy, or that AGW is being pushed for extra funding, and the like

44) 35 points– For saying that the present science will be seen for the idiots they were or we will one day be forced to recant this terrible view


11 responses to “Quantifying skeptical arguments

  1. Good idea, but, personal opinion and gratuitous recommendation:

    I do like the original Baez format (the Evolution list followed it closely):
    conserve points 1 through 7 word for word, and thereafter edit no more than needed. You’ll want more original wording toward the end of the list.

    Following the same pattern keeps crackpot lists recognizable as a genre, which I think would be valuable. And it honors the original.

  2. (PS, I do note John Baez’s copyright notice; perhaps negotiation on wording and his approval would be worthwhile, again, for the sake of the genre?)

  3. (p.p.s.) I can’t leave without recommending something John Baez’s daughter Joan said (radio interview with Michael Krasny on KQED, San Francisco, a while back). I may be paraphrasing:

    “If you have a choice between a hypothetical situation and a real one, take the real one.”

    That too belongs on a crackpot index somehow.

    Response– Thanks, I might re-work this, but my goal was to actually make it different enough from the original rather than make it very similar, but I could see how the latter might work out better. I’ll e-mail him and if everything works out, I’ll re-do this. I at least want to retain most things that I wrote here since I’m sure to get good practice with my addition skills in the future.– chris

  4. Apparently there is something in the air. Perhaps because it is Autumn the nuts are falling thick and fast? I did the “Climate Denier Crackpot Index” http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/2008/10/16/climate-denier-crackpot-index/ back in mid-October.

    You clearly did more work, although as you say our goals were a little different. I sought to show how little one needed to change the index to get a good fit, whereas your’s is specifically tailored to Climate Crackpottery.

  5. Pingback: Bytes and Blogs « Greenfyre’s

  6. This is so dumb.
    Many of those points are valid.

    Response– Nah

  7. Your skeptical arguments, while incomplete and full of half-truths, make a pretty strong case against the globalist foundations financing the warming argument.

  8. Hey, this sort of thing applies to both sides. How many people tell us that such and such weather event is due to global warming. Or that genocide is due to global warming(an actual statement from the UN Secretary General with regards to Darfur). Or that the other side all is paid by the oil company, or are deniers.
    Plus they love to point out record warm temperatures for this particular place.

  9. >25 points– For every claim that the IPCC have predicted “catastrophic” global warming

    That’s just silly. It’s true the IPCC report AR4 doesn’t have the word catastrophe in it. However, the language they use is close enough, with ‘unprecedented’, ‘disturbances’, ‘extinction’, ‘vulnerable’, ‘exacerbate stress’, ‘adverse consequences’, ‘disappearance’, ‘detrimental impact’, plus their members who write the report use such language in other venues, and they shared a Nobel Prize with a guy who talks that way.

    A post like this is silly, and has the appearance of wanting to shut down debate.

    Response– On the contrary, debate would be good. This doesn’t include recycled talking points that have been refuted for a decade, strawman attacks, etc.– chris

  10. What’s funny is that I have heard AGW scientists(uh oh, that’s 10 points for me) make some of these arguments. And when I say AGW scientists, I mean some of the authors of this report:


  11. Pingback: Yes, We Know Global Warming is Happening | FUTURISM NOW

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