The True Nature of Sceptics by Professor Frank Furedi

Six excellent reasons why you should catch up with the full version of this timely article by the well-known Professor of Sociology, especially because of its relevance to the ongoing Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) controversies and the recent dramatic changes in public and government opinion since Copenhagen.

“At Easter, the official Greenpeace website carried a blog written by Gene Hashmi, communications director of its affiliate in India. Hashmi pointed his finger at sceptics who fuelled “spurious debates around false solutions” and concluded with the not too subtle threat: ‘We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work. And we be many but you be few.’”
“However, the usage of a highly charged, intemperate rhetoric has become the hallmark of the present crusade against scepticism. Some contend that the arguments of climate change sceptics bear an uncanny resemblance to the statements made by pro-slavery reactionaries in the 19th century and by Holocaust deniers. More imaginative environmental activists have proposed the establishment of Nuremberg-style trials for climate change sceptics.”
“Scepticism today, as in the past, has a bad name because for the dogmatic believer any sign of doubt, hesitation, uncertainty, questioning and even indifference is interpreted as disbelief.”
“Recently Justin Rowlatt, who runs the BBC News Ethical Man blog, wrote of his concern that the word sceptic was in danger of becoming a term of abuse. He noted that since it was “the foundation of good science”, scepticism should be praised.”
“The question worth posing is: Why denounce individuals for their scepticism if they are not really sceptics? The confusion that surrounds the rhetorical strategy adopted by the moral crusade against critics of the IPCC consensus should not obscure the fact it is motivated by a genuine hatred for the spirit of scepticism. To understand this process it is necessary to go beyond the opportunist distinction between good and bad sceptics and establish the meaning of the term.”
“There can be no freedom of thought without the right to be sceptical. Which is why the demonisation of the sceptic does not simply reflect a tendency towards polemical excess but an attack on human inquiry.”

PS. Ten days after the appearance of this opinion article in The Australian newspaper, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced his government’s sudden postponement of the proposed legislation on carbon dioxide emissions.

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