Summary of Bolt’s argument: Climate sceptic Ian Plimer sold lots of copies of his book Heaven+Earth. Ergo climate change is not real.
Summary response: Andrew Bolt commits a classic logical fallacy – the argument from popularity. If truth was based solely on the sales of a book, then the Da Vinci code must be extra true for selling 80 million copies.
Logical fallacies present: Argumentum ad populum (x1)
I’m going to jump ahead to Andrew’s 10th sign as it is the easiest to dispel – and perhaps the most farcical.
Bolt’s claim: “That wall is now breaking. Dissent is being heard, with Professor Ian Plimer’s sceptical Heaven and Earth alone selling more than 40,000 copies here. Yes, the world may start warming again. Yes, our emissions may be partly to blame. But, no, this great scare is unforgivable. It’s robbed us of cash and, worse, our reason. Thank God for the 10 signs that this madness is over.”
Response: We can easily dispatch Bolt’s last claim as an example of a logical fallacy: argumentum ad populum. To translate form the Latin, “appeal to the people”.
By claiming the popularity of a belief Andrew argues it must be true.
Dan Brown’s conspiracy tome the Da Vinci Code sold 80 million copies and was made into a film. Compared to Plimer’s paltry sales of 40,000 the Da Vinci Code must be extra, extra-true. After all, how could 80 million Dan Brown fans be wrong?
Putting aside Andrew’s argument it is worth noting that Plimer’s book is riddled with errors. Scientists who have reviewed it have dismissed it as case study in “how not to be objective”.
Ian Enting, a mathematical physicist from the University of Melbourne reviewed Plimer’s book and found over 100 errors.
In a review published in The Australian, astrophysicist Michael Ashely stated Heaven+Earth contained “no science” and noted Plimer drew upon some ludicrous examples of pseudo-science:
Plimer probably didn’t expect an astronomer to review his book. I couldn’t help noticing on page 120 an almost word-for-word reproduction of the abstract from a well-known loony paper entitled “The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass”. This paper argues that the sun isn’t composed of 98 per cent hydrogen and helium, as astronomers have confirmed through a century of observation and theory, but is instead similar in composition to a meteorite.
It is hard to understate the depth of scientific ignorance that the inclusion of this information demonstrates. It is comparable to a biologist claiming that plants obtain energy from magnetism rather than photosynthesis.
Selling 40,000 copies of Heaven+Earth must make Plimer’s claim about the sun true.
One million people visit Andrew Bolt’s blog: that makes everything Bolt says true.
Justin Bieber has sold over 15 million albums: this makes him the greatest artist in the history of the world.
I mean, who can argue with 15 million Bieber fans?