Ted Cruz decided to use a Congressional Committee to ask the question “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Climate Change.”
A number of commentators have explored the why & wherefores of the meeting and analysed Cruz’s partisan summary .
My purpose here is not to reproduce those arguments. Detailed responses to Ted Cruz often repeated talking points are available.
I want to express my intense irritation at the dishonest use of emotional language by Ted Cruz, when labelling (the majority of) climate scientists, and those who are calling for action on global warming, as “alarmists”.
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book; to try to make your position seem reasonable by use of emotionally charges labels to apply to your opponent (or their arguments) in a debate. Unfortunately, as long as there are politicians, there will be abuse of language as a substitute for substance.
It is worth also recalling some wise words from Robert Thouless as true today as when first published in 1930:
Once we are on the look-out for this difference between factual and emotional meanings, we shall notice that words which carry more or less strong suggestions of emotional attitudes are very common and are ordinarily used in the discussion of such controversial questions as those of politics, morals, and religion. This is one reason why men can go on discussing such questions without getting much nearer to a rational solution of them. …
Those who show enthusiasm in support of proposals with which a speaker disagrees are extremists, while those showing similar enthusiasm on his own side are called staunch. If a politician wishes to attack some new proposal he has a battery of these and other words with emotional meanings at his disposal. He speaks of “this suggested panacea supported only by the bombast of extremists”, and the proposal is at once discredited in the minds of the majority of people, who like to think of themselves as moderate, distrustful of panaceas, and uninfluenced by windy eloquence. Also we may notice that it has been discredited without the expenditure of any real thought, for of real objective argument there is none, only the manipulation of words calling out emotion.
Robert Thouless, Straight and Crooked Thinking, Pan, 1930 (revised 1953)
Ted Cruz (like many politicians left and right), uses emotive words to try to make a case that is stronger than it deserves.
But when he throws around the label global warming or climate “alarmist” to compensate for the paucity of genuine science on his side of the argument, and does this while chairing a US Senate Committee, this is abuse not merely of argument but of power.
When will Republicans realise that they are being manipulated, using the oldest tricks in the dishonest argument handbook?