Pseudoskepticism denotes thinking that appears to be skeptical but is not. The term is most commonly encountered in the form popularised by Marcello Truzzi, where he defined pseudoskeptics as those who take "the negative rather than an agnostic position but still call themselves 'skeptics'"Understanding "Burden of Proof" here is important - in a legal situation, it is not necessary for the defendant to prove his innocence, but for the prosecutor to prove the defendant's guilt. Truzzi's words are important here:
In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded. The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of proof and that science must continue to build its cognitive map of reality without incorporating the extraordinary claim as a new "fact." Since the true skeptic does not assert a claim, he has no burden to prove anything. He just goes on using the established theories of "conventional science" as usual. But if a critic asserts that there is evidence for disproof, that he has a negative hypothesis --saying, for instance, that a seeming psi result was actually due to an artifact--he is making a claim and therefore also has to bear a burden of proof.Of course you know where I'm headed - climate skeptics.
Popular climate skepticism is actually a form of pseudoskepticism because it does not hold to an agnostic position. In other words, when climate scientists say "Human beings are causing global warming by emitting too much carbon dioxide", the best skeptical response to this is to say "Well that sounds interesting. But what proof do you have?".
A Pseudoskeptic, on the other hand, will say "Scientists who say that humans are causing global warming are wrong" - which means, of course, that they are no longer skeptics (and thus agnostic) but simply hold a diametrically opposing position. And this means that their position must also have the burden of proof to back it up.
Other assertions that popular climate skeptics will say include:
- There is no proof that the world is warming up dangerously.
- Increasing amounts of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere are due to natural processes and not due to human activity.
- Climate records over time are unreliable.
So if you're ever tempted to consider the climate-skeptic argument, ensure that you are skeptical of the skeptics.