Pielke Jr. excerpt:
Back in 2009, Mann explained why the title of his climate book – Dire Predictions — was an embellishment, and this explanation helps to explain why a small part of the community thinks that such embellishments are acceptable:
Often, in our communication efforts, scientists are confronted with critical issues of language and framing. A case in point is a book I recently co-authored with Penn State colleague Lee Kump, called Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming. The purists among my colleagues would rightly point out that the potential future climate changes we describe, are, technically speaking, projections rather than predictions because the climate models are driven by hypothetical pathways of future fossil fuel burning (i.e. conceivable but not predicted futures). But Dire Projections doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. And it doesn’t convey — in the common vernacular — what the models indicate: Climate change could pose a very real threat to society and the environment. In this case, use of the more technically “correct” term is actually less likely to convey the key implications to a lay audience.
So long as some climate scientists are willing to talk about their work as being “correct” in scare quotes in the context of a desire to shape public opinion, they are going to face credibility problems. Think Dick Cheney linking Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein, and you’ll understand why such efforts are not good for either science or democracy.