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The Hockey Stick Debate as a Form of Torture

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJuly 17, 2006 4:59 PM


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Is anyone else as sick as I am of repeated attacks on the "hockey stick" reconstruction of past temperatures? Joe Barton and cronies are at it again. Just when one would have hoped that the National Academy of Sciences report on this topic would provide some modicum of closure, the "skeptics" have derived yet another seeming line of attack. As for myself, I am beyond bored with the whole thing. I'm reaching the point of despair. Listen, people: This is an argument over a study that is now some eight years old. Eight years! You would think there is nothing new under the sun in climate science. So let us recite, once again, for those who still don't get it: One study never definitively proves anything in science. Any single study can be attacked and criticized. Any individual piece of work will have its gaps, shortcomings, and associated uncertainties. As for those who show no appreciation of this fact, who obsessively beat up on a single study for political reasons: By this behavior, they simply show that they approach scientific information as lawyerly debunkers, rather than by trying to accurately grasp the big picture. And make no mistake: Despite the new fireworks, that big picture remains unaltered. Whether the "hockey stick" is right, wrong, or irrelevant, the underlying message on global warming is that we're causing it. Period. End of story.

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