Thursday, 18 December 2008

Inhofe's 650 : what does it take to be called a scientist ?

The Inhofe 650-list is a clear case of the use of the authority-argument. The subtitle is :
More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims
The list is an update of 2007 Inhofe 400-list, where the same idea was expressed as :
Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007
If you do want to use such an authority-argument (imho never the best one anyway), then one would think it is necessary the people used do have some authority on the subject.

So it's a bit strange to see that there's a lot of economists on his list. Do they have any authority in the field of climate science ? What about a Philosopher ?

But even in the field of the people who one way or another can be linked to "exact" sciences, there's still room for questioning the authority of the scientists Morano mentions : how about someone who by no means can be considered an international scientist for nor does he have an academic diploma, nor did he ever work as a scientist. Someone like Ferdinand Engelbeen.

Engelbeen writes on his personal website :
After Technical Highschool, obtained a Bachelor Degree in Industrial Chemistry at the Institute of Technology in Antwerp in 1965.
In Belgium, people with this practically orientated degree are granted the title 'technical engineer' (ing), not to be confused with academic engineers (Ir.). It might be a bit confusing for foreigners, and Engelbeen does add to this confusing by often introducing himself as "a process engineer".

Yet, in my opinion it's Morano who is "using" Engelbeen for his own political agenda and Engelbeen himself isn't that much to blame for the confusion. After all, the latter always has been open about his background and doesn't pretend to be more than an amateur, p.ex. on this forum where he introduces himself in his first post with the words :
Ik ben geen wetenschapper in de strikte zin van het woord, maar redelijk wetenschappelijk aangelegd en volg het debat over het klimaat al ruim 30 jaar.
in English (my translation) :
I'm not a scientist in the strict sense of the word, but i have some talent for it and folow the climate-debate for 30 years
In Inhofe's report, Morano cites something Engelbeen wrote on his personal homepage. Which is the very same website Engelbeen gives a short biography of his life. Morano apparantly didn't do much effort profiling his "scientists" when compiling his list, for he easily could've known Engelbeen isn't a scientist, and certainly no scientist to be used as an authority.