A group of scientists, science professionals and skeptic activists released a letter to the public late last week demanding that news outlets and media stop calling climate change deniers skeptics.
A press release from the Center for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) said that 48 of the center’s Fellows — including Bill “The Science Guy” Nye, Cosmos co-producer Ann Druyan, physicist Lawrence Krauss and others — are requesting that the word “skeptic” be used to describe people using science to debunk myths, not those who use dogma to attack science.
The group was responding to a New York Times article dated Nov. 10, 2014, in which Republican Sen. James Inhofe, a longstanding advocate of the energy industry and climate change denier, was described as “a prominent skeptic of climate change.”
“As Fellows of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, we are concerned that the words ‘skeptic’ and ‘denier’ have been conflated by the popular media,” said the scientists’ open letter.
“Proper skepticism promotes scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims,” the statement continued. “It is foundational to the scientific method. Denial, on the other hand, is the a priori rejection of ideas without objective consideration.”
The committee took particular aim in Inhofe, saying, “Real skepticism is summed up by a quote popularized by Carl Sagan, ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.’ Inhofe’s belief that global warming is ‘the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people’ is an extraordinary claim indeed. He has never been able to provide evidence for this vast alleged conspiracy. That alone should disqualify him from using the title ‘skeptic.’”
The letter concluded, “We are skeptics who have devoted much of our careers to practicing and promoting scientific skepticism. We ask that journalists use more care when reporting on those who reject climate science, and hold to the principles of truth in labeling. Please stop using the word ‘skeptic to describe deniers.”
To read the full letter, go here.