Revised and extended version of a letter to The Guardian, (Monday 8 February 2010)
Congratulations to Fred Pearce for his balanced and thoughtful articles last week on the climate email affair, and commiserations to Simon Jenkins and Simon Hoggart for having lost the plot so completely. Those who refuse to accept something despite a mass of evidence for it (like climate change and evolution) go far beyond genuine and constructive scepticism. We should call them dissenters, at least, if the term “deniers” is considered to be too insulting. And those who believe in something without a shred of evidence for it (like homeopathy or astrology) can only be called credulous. Scientists, who may spend decades making observations, and using evidence to test their theories, try hard not to fall into either of these categories. If our cars or our bodies need to be fixed, we seek out, trust and take advice only from those who are trained and qualified to do the job. Why should we not do the same when it is the future of the world in which we live that is at stake ?