Pre-bunking: False Experts

Let’s see how we can translate the FLICC framework to CDR criticism by going through the different techniques one by one starting with false experts.

What are fake experts?
Fake experts convey the impression of expertise without possessing any actual relevant expertise. Say a data scientist pretending to be a climate scientist - or the other way around. The issue is made even worse if it is a large number of seeming experts that cast doubt on the scientific consensus.

Why is this a problem?
Expertise in one field does not mean one has expertise in another. The idea is rather obvious translated into everyday life: you wouldn’t want your plumber doing vascular surgery on you though they are undoubtedly good at removing stuff from small pipe-like things.

How this has been used successfully by climate change deniers
The Global Warming Petition Project lists over 31,000 Americans with a science degree who state that humans aren’t causing climate change. Impressive, right? Must be something to it if so many scientists have doubts.

(On a side note: the 90s called, they want their website design back.)

Not so fast, the problem lies with what it takes to be on the list: a degree in science, any science, e.g. computer science, cancer research, engineering, physics, veterinary medicine, etc. No disrespect to all of these professions but their take on climate change is irrelevant - yet they make up 99.9% of the people on the list and the way this is presented makes us think they are all scientists who are qualified to speak about the topic of climate change.

False experts in CDR

We do see false experts in CDR popping up. Examples include individuals who voice strongly critical positions about CDR and use their Ph.D. or Dr. title, e.g. in their Twitter handles. They at least accept that they are (falsely) perceived as being an expert on carbon removal even if their specialty is medieval Spanish architecture or foot surgery. Doing this isn’t lying or making an outright false claim but clearly, people applying this technique are okay with - or hope for - others assuming they have relevant expertise when they don’t.

Using fake experts is a nefarious technique, it is highly effective and can be hard to counter because it is hard to prove intent.

“Hey, you used your title to make me believe you are a climate scientist, but you are not.”
“Not my problem what you think. I never said I was a climate scientist.”

With fake experts, LinkedIn is your friend. A quick search usually reveals whether the person bashing CDR has any relevant background or not. The question remains what to do and that depends very much on the situation and could include asking what the person’s expertise in climate science is and/or pointing out to others what the person’s specialty is so they aren’t left with the wrong impression.