"Scientists Have Changed Their Minds About Things Before"

Brief Responses to Climate Change Denialism Statements

CPSG 200 Science & Global Change Sophomore Colloquium

Scientists Have Changed Their Minds About Things Before

For a true scientist to change his/her mind, scientific speculation must be disproven with an overwhelming amount of evidence. By establishing facts, scientists form their opinions, and when an opinion is based on speculation instead of facts, it disproves those scientists.

Similarly, when scientists repeat other scientists work, they find that the first scientist may have had slight error in his/her experiment and it must be corrected in order to have good data for the scientific community. Siddall retracted his paper in 2009 referring to the possibility of global sea level rise of upwards of 82 centimeters by 2100. Many people believed that this retraction was due to faulty science and that the sea would not rise this much in that period. However, the retraction was due to scientists later that year discovering that the sea level was going to rise upwards of 190 centimeters by 2100 and not the original 82 predicted by Siddall. The paper was retracted because Siddall underestimated the sea level rise, not overestimated as deniers had assumed.

In addition, for papers and theories to be accepted as factual, they go through a large amount of scrutiny and testing. When there is overwhelming evidence for a cause, theories are accepted as the most plausible, such as the case for plate tectonics. This same overwhelming evidence is also what attempts to prove human caused climate change. To simply reject the claim based on the idea that scientists have changed their minds before is illogical. In the face of a massive body of knowledge, the disproof of facts discredits the scientists in denial, not the information.

For More Information:
Conniff, R. June 2012. "When Continental Drift Was Considered Pseudoscience." Smithsonian Magazine. Accessed 15 October 2017.

Cook, J. 9 Aug. 2012. "Paper Retracted for Predicting too Low Sea Level Rise." Skeptical Science. Accessed 22 October 2017.

Foster, T. 2016. "Ocean Acidification Causes Structural Deformities in Juvenile Coral Skeletons." Science Advances. 2:1-7. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1501130

Contributed by: Coby Goodhart, Gerrald Ting, Jordan Nicolette

Last modified: 22 October 2017