Duane Mooring | Normalizing the Denial of Authority

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
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In response to both John Weaver’s column on May 11 (“What is the Truth About Climate Change?”) and Dave Lusian’s letter to the editor on June 5 (“Regardless, the Debate Goes On.”) I hate to belabor the point, but I feel that it is very relevant to our time. Elsewhere online, my letter was pronounced illogical because it violated argumentation theory on the point of “appeal to authority.” In argumentation theory, appeals to authority are valid and legitimate where an authority possesses knowledge, skills and resources that arguing parties lack. 

I claim that no one on the planet has the kinds of skills, resources and knowledge that the international scientific community of today possesses. Argument and debate within the scientific community goes on regardless of the opinions and misunderstandings that we non-authorities might be trying to work through. Many within the scientific community are doing excellent work at publishing climate change findings in layman’s terms for all of us. 

My point, Dave, is that you and I and John Weaver and the “expert” climate change deniers that we might Google are not qualified to demagogue about the subject. The Signal is doing a disservice to the public when it publishes unqualified opinions on any subject – except in the letters to the editor section. We expect some insight and sometimes foolishness among the letters because we know that these letters are often just regular folks opining.

The reason this speaks to our time is that, on many fronts, we have normalized the denial of all authoritative sources. We regularly dismiss the mainstreams of news, science, intelligence, medicine and institutions. Think of it along the lines of this hypothetical situation: Suppose a university graduate were to discover science revealing that asteroid TRMP2019 was on a collision course with the Earth. Suppose the science were peer reviewed and supported by 99% of the international scientific community. Could we be moved to act? No. 

What if Donald Trump called it a hoax and said things like: “Why should we spend $15 trillion to build a spacecraft to alter the asteroid’s path? We know that universities are just a bunch of left-wing nuts who didn’t vote for me. China’s not putting up any money. My gut is 10 times more effective at evaluating the situation than any scientist.” 

Our chances of surviving such a situation are today no better than a brontosaurus with a body the size of a bus and a brain the size of a walnut had back in the Cretaceous.

Duane Mooring


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