Climate Change Alarmists Bully Media to Call Skeptics ‘Deniers,’ WaPo Agrees

Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson join terminology fight, argue media too soft on man-made climate change skeptics.

A group of climate change alarmists has demanded that the media stop being so nice to those with different viewpoints on climate. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry petitioned the media to drop the term “skeptic” in favor of “denier,” when referring to anyone who questions their views on climate change.

The petition ignored more than 400 scientists who have publicly questioned the extent of mankind’s influence when it comes to climate change.

According to the Orwellian-sounding Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, “Public discussion of scientific topics such as global warming is confused by misuse of the term ‘skeptic.’” The Committee’s petition called for journalists to only use the term “denier,” and never “skeptic,” when referring to anyone not convinced that humans are responsible for climate change. CSI is a project of the Center for Inquiry, a group which, among other things, campaigns to prevent religious groups from being allowed to own hospitals.

CSI also relies heavily on the word of “experts” like Bill Nye (whose career depends on people not realizing that “science guy” doesn’t mean “scientist”) and Neil deGrasse Tyson (who has been criticized for fabricating quotes to make a point). Despite this, The Washington Post hyped this petition, and even used Nye’s name in the headline for credibility.

The petition went on to say “As Fellows of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, we are concerned that the words ‘skeptic’ and ‘denier’ have been conflated by the popular media. Proper skepticism promotes scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims. It is foundational to the scientific method. Denial, on the other hand, is the a priori rejection of ideas without objective consideration.”

But CSI’s definition of the terminology undermined its own argument. “Not all individuals who call themselves climate change skeptics are deniers. But virtually all deniers have falsely branded themselves as skeptics. By perpetrating this misnomer, journalists have granted undeserved credibility to those who reject science and scientific inquiry.”

By its own admission, these scientists were demanding the media brand people as “deniers” in an attempt to silence disagreement, even if it meant branding ones they admitted were legitimate skeptics.

The Washington Post quickly jumped on board with this petition, even though they acknowledged that “the word generally carries one very specific connotation, as part of the phrase ‘Holocaust denier.’” But this admission did not stop the Post from promoting CSI’s arguments.

In spite of CSI’s view, media outlets haven’t been kind to skeptics of climate change alarmism. A 2014 analysis found that ABC and CBS news programs had excluded any scientists critical of the theory of man-made climate change for more than 1,300 days. While the media often promoted the idea of a consensus on this topic, as of 2007, a report released by the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee listed more than 400 prominent scientists who questioned the so-called climate “consensus” in some way.

The parent organization for CSI, the Center for Inquiry (CFI), is a nonprofit that seeks to “keep health care safe and secular.” This group lumped hospitals owned by religious groups in with “pseudoscience” as “attacks on our basic health care rights.” The Center for Inquiry also routinely attacks the beliefs of all faiths,  and dedicates a portion of its website to a campaign to prevent Catholic charities from owning hospitals, arguing that “[w]e come to hospitals to save our lives, not our souls.”

This antagonism towards religion was evident throughout CFI’s material. CFI’s self-proclaimed “sister organization,” the Council for Secular Humanism, also campaigns against religious groups owning hospitals. The CFI “Reason for Change” conference, scheduled for June 11-15, 2015, will feature people who “not only reject traditional beliefs, but openly challenge them.”

The alarmist DeSmogBlog which publicized the CSI petition on Jan. 13, blamed the very existence of climate change skepticism on a concerted effort by businesses to cover up the truth. “Of course, the fact that climate denial is regularly conflated with skepticism is no accident, as has been documented elsewhere, perhaps most notably in Erik Conway and Naomi Oreskes’ must-read book Merchants of Doubt, which examines industry-funded campaigns to mislead the public on issues ranging from tobacco smoke to acid rain and global warming in the service of free market fundamentalism.”

Signers of the petition included Nye and Tyson, both of whom have often proven themselves to be biased and even unreliable sources.

Far from being the scientific expert he’s touted to be. Nye earned a Bachelor of Science degree before he started working as an engineer for Boeing. He actually got his “Science Guy” moniker while performing stand-up comedy routines early in his career, according to

Tyson is a scientist, but has a track record of spouting unsubstantiated “facts,” according to The Federalist. The Federalist investigated several of Tyson’s most repeated citations and found that “a newspaper headline touted for years by Tyson likely doesn’t exist,” “the exact quote he uses to bash members of Congress as being stupid also doesn’t exist” and that “the details within one of Tyson’s favorite anecdotes — a story of how he bravely confronted a judge about his mathematical illiteracy while serving on jury duty — seem to change every time Tyson tells the story.”

The Federalist also pointed out that Tyson misquoted a Biblical reference that former President George W. Bush included in a speech he gave after the Columbia shuttle disaster, claiming that Bush had used it immediately after 9/11 to proclaim the superiority of Christians over Muslims.

— Mike Ciandella is Research Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Mike Ciandella on Twitter.