Why Popper can’t resolve the debate over global warming: Problems with the uses of philosophy of science in the media and public framing of the science of global warming




A notable feature in the public framing of debates involving the science of Anthropogenic Global Warming are appeals to uncritical ‘positivist’ images of the ideal scientific method. Versions of Sir Karl Popper’s philosophy of falsification appear most frequently, featuring in many Web sites and broader media. This use of pop philosophy of science forms part of strategies used by critics, mainly from conservative political backgrounds, to manufacture doubt, by setting unrealistic standards for sound science, in the veracity of science of Anthropogenic Global Warming. It will be shown, nevertheless, that prominent supporters of Anthropogenic Global Warming science also often use similar references to Popper to support their claims. It will also be suggested that this pattern reflects longer traditions of the use of Popperian philosophy of science in controversial settings, particularly in the United States, where appeals to the authority of science to legitimize policy have been most common. It will be concluded that studies of the science of Anthropogenic Global Warming debate would benefit from taking greater interest in questions raised by un-reflexive and politically expedient public understanding(s) of the philosophy of science of both critics and supporters of the science of Anthropogenic Global Warming.

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