Seems that AP has succumbed to the poor sensitive little science deniers who call for jail time for climate scientists. It's more than political correctness - it's political correctness gone haywire. Usually it's the extreme right wing ideologues who moan about people who conform to "political correctness" - except when they want a euphemism for their own behaviour. Instead of calling climate science denial denial of climate science, AP wants to pretend that rampant deniers only doubt climate science. Which is nonsense. Deniers don't doubt. They just "know" that all the science of the past 200 years is wrong. Deniers reject science. They prefer to think that for the past 200 years there has been a giant hoax perpetrated on the illiterati (that is, deniers).
From denial to doubt? No, it's still denial
Paul Colford wrote at AP about a change to the AP Style Guide:
Our guidance is to use climate change doubters or those who reject mainstream climate science and to avoid the use of skeptics or deniers.
Joe Romm didn't agree, writing:
The media doesn’t even pay attention to people who deny the health dangers of tobacco smoke anymore. So why treat those who deny the reality — and danger — of human-caused climate change any differently?.
As you know, I don't agree either.
"Climate change doubters" is a poor euphemism. It doesn't mean the same as a climate science denier. I sometimes refer to "those who reject mainstream climate science", however it's clunky and doesn't lend itself to repeated usage. Why use five words when there's a perfectly good single word that describes those people "deniers"? Or if there's no other context that makes it clear who you're talking about: "climate science deniers".
It's a poor use of language to use wrong words when the right words are there in the Oxford Dictionary - the ultimate arbiter of the English language:
A person who denies something, especially someone who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence:
a prominent denier of global warming
a climate change denier
Puffed up and puffed out
On reading about this, Anthony Watts, owner of the denier blog WUWT, did an imitation of a stuffed shirt (archived here). He put on his very best (if slightly stained) tie and his Sunday suit, rubbed his sleeve over his shoes, wiped a spot of dribble off his chin, then strode to his computer keyboard and wrote:
Statement from Anthony Watts:
Kudos to the Associated Press.
This is a positive and long overdue change. As reported back in 2007, the ugly term “global warming denier” gained traction after a widely syndicated op-ed from Boston Globe Columnist Ellen Goodman, who wrote this:
I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future. – Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe, February 9, 2007 “No change in political climate” (non-paywalled here)
Anthony's wrong about that. I don't know when the word "denier" first started being applied to climate science deniers, but it was well and truly entrenched in 2005, two years before Anthony's quote. And not in the context of the Holocaust. Anyway, Anthony continued in an uncharacteristically pompous manner:
Since it has now become convention in the AP stylebook to drop the term, which is used by both AP and non-AP journalists worldwide, WUWT will also follow the convention for all of it’s stories and will no longer use the term “deniers” in any context, be it in comments, or in a turnabout is fair play situation, such as this article by Dr. Tim Ball a couple of weeks ago.
WUWT will use terms such as climate change doubters or climate change proponents to describe the polarization of opinion in the climate change debate in all stories.
Commenters are advised to adopt terms other than “denier” in any context. Let’s all hope other blogs will follow. Skeptical Science might want to revisit my modest proposal again.
Well, that's hardly big of Anthony. He banned the word "denier" long ago. What you will notice though, is that he hasn't banned any use of terms like "alarmist", "warmunist", "fraudster", "scam artist", "conman" or other terms he and others use at WUWT to describe climate scientists and people who accept science.
b..b..but "climate is always changing" sang the deniers in chorus
Anthony's fans didn't agree with him. They weren't swayed by his uncharacteristic, if bombastic, formality. His giving royal assent to the AP's decision. Nope. They denied they were "climate change doubters", pointing out that one of their denier catch-cries is "climate is always changing".
From the WUWT comments
Kevin Lohse decides that the euphemisms will let ordinary people take the scientific high road. I think he means it will allow people to accept what the experts find, instead of denying facts.
September 23, 2015 at 1:00 am
The terminology is still biased. Practically no-one who posts here doubts that climate change is constantly happening, so the term. “Climate Change doubter”, implies an unscientific rejection of a generally accepted proposition based on faith alone. If we accept this terminology, we are letting those who insist that Man is causing dangerous changes in climate take the high ground of scientific virtue when nothing could be further from the truth. I suggest that the search for neutral terminology to describe either side of the great divide is far from over.
kokoda is no fool. He sees how cunning the AP has been. They've hatched an evil plot.
September 23, 2015 at 4:24 am
Agree: This is very important and most all don’t get the implication of the change by AP, including Anthony. Remember when they changed from Global Warming to Climate Change – it was done for a reason. Changing to ‘doubter’ = most people will now view people that doubt climate change as looney (as climate always changes). You are falling into their rather insidious and intelligent trap.
I’ve even seen on this blog where some use Climate Change and they have become used in in context of the general definition as separate from the Global Warming CO2 issue.
Suggest: Global Warming Doubter (excise the ‘Climate Change’).
Many of you are extremely proficient or even brilliant in science but rather dull when it comes to understanding words/phrases and how they affect the human population as a whole.
markstoval wants to be called a "skeptic", though he's never to my knowledge demonstrated a sceptical, enquiring mind.
September 23, 2015 at 12:57 am
This is good news, bad news today.
Those of us who know from the scientific evidence that the alarminsts are dead wrong on the CAGW issue are Skeptics. I am a skeptic. I dispute the idea that we should not be called skeptics because we are “anti-science”. This is another form of the ongoing ad-hom.
On the other hand, it is very good that they have ruled against the very ugly term “denier”.
And most of the others express "thoughts' proclaiming their denial of science.
John in Oz might embrace the term "climate conspiracy nutter", since he wrote:
September 23, 2015 at 1:10 amPanda believes that Anthony Watts is being civilised when he posts articles likening climate scientists to Hitler, and accusing them of fraud and fakery day in day out.
I have no doubt that climate changes but am a weather data denier.
The misuse of data by folding, mutilating, in-filling, torture until it confesses statistics is what I cannot believe, amply demonstrated by the rebuttals placed on this site.
September 23, 2015 at 2:00 am
Well done Anthony. I believe you deserve a lot of credit. I think that the demise of name-calling in the AP style book may well have been a consequence of the great influence of wattsupwiththat and your civilised and unvindictive approach to debate throughout the years that you have run this blog.
hunter has no doubts:
September 23, 2015 at 4:19 am
This is just another attempt by the climate kooks to dismiss those who do not agree.
An addition to AP Stylebook entry on global warming - article by Paul Colford at AP, September 2015
- Definition of Denier - Oxford Dictionary
- In defence of climate science denier! - HotWhopper article, February 2015
- AP Stylebook Switches Climate ‘Skeptics’ To ‘Doubters’ — I Deny That Makes Sense - article by Joe Romm at Climate Progress - September 2015
- Denier Denier Denier … article by Tamino July 2012