Back about a year and a bit ago, I called in to the John Gormley Live radio talk show on newstalk980 to help John improve his grasp of the fundamentals of AGW science. Well actually it was just to get him to use the word ‘consensus’ the same way climate scientists do. Good luck right?

His argument was that consensus means 100% agreement and since the science behind climate change does not have 100% agreement (some deniers are actually climatologists – go figure) there is no AGW consensus. I simply informed him that consensus, in this context, means majority.  He disagreed with me then hung up, of course putting me in the position of being unable to defend my argument. Can you guess what the validation for his argument was? Yup, the dictionary lists the 100% definition first. He went to all the work of visiting 5 on-line dictionaries and on 4 of the 5, and even though every one had the definition I told him, they listed his definition first. So his definition was right. At least in his mind.

Well John, I guess you got me there didn’t you? Oops, I guess not, since the meaning behind a word is determined by the issuer of that word and the context it is used in. Sorry Mr. John Gormley, but the argument from dictionary is one of the weakest arguments out there. Epic fail.

John, you might try listening to someone speak and when he/she uses a word with more than one meaning, do your best to understand what he/she means, either through context, assuming that isn’t too difficult for you, or simply by asking him/her  to clarify her/himself.

You are capable of that I hope.

This one, just because of the inadvertent humour, rates a 6.5 out of 10 elephant turds.

Cheers

B

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