Joe Carter gives us some good context for today:
The fact that many people agree on something does not imply that what they agree on is true, whether the issue is climatology or farm subsidies. An appeal to consensus is merely a form of the argumentum ad populum fallacy (appeal to the majority). The status of the fallacy doesn’t change just because the members of the majority all have Ph.Ds. If you want to establish a consensus for your argument, you have to do more than appeal to a consensus.
What’s this context for? Today’s WSJ includes the text of a letter sent from Sens. Snowe and Rockefeller to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
In the missive, the senators berate ExxonMobil for its support of a “climate change denial confederacy,” which “has exerted an influence out of all proportion to its size or relative scientific credibility.”
But in the face of adversity, there is always the safety of scientific consensus to fall back upon:
While the group of outliers funded by ExxonMobil has had some success in the court of public opinion, it has failed miserably in confusing, much less convincing, the legitimate scientific community. Rather, what has emerged and continues to withstand the carefully crafted denial strategy is an insurmountable scientific consensus on both the problem and causation of climate change.
This related WSJ editorial properly excoriates Snowe and Rockefeller and their letter, which the editorial says is “of a piece with what has become a campaign of intimidation against any global warming dissent.”