Skeptic is absolutely the right word. Some of the most obstinate morons I've ever had the chance to interact with are "skeptics." One is "skeptical" if one is unconvinced of the truth of something by disposition. There is no judgement whatsoever as to whether or not they're entitled to that idea - just that they have it.
"Skeptics" (with quotes) tend to be the ones that back up scientific dogma come hell or high water, and will dogmatically defend any existing scientific basis so as not to have to change their worldview. This type of "skeptic" is every bit the unthinking twit that the climate "skeptics" are.
There's nothing wrong with skepticism. Everyone should practice it. If you find someone you disagree with professing something you do not, the trick is not to distance yourself from them, the trick is to make sure that which you disrespect them for is not lurking within you somewhere.
I dunno. Based on the definition you provided, 'denier' seems like a much more appropriate word. Scientists are skeptics because they doubt opinions. Deniers refuse to accept the scientifically vetted data and evidence that removes the healthy skepticism one should have in the face of opinions.
There's a war of semantics afoot that really bugs the shit out of me. There are people who are "skeptical" about the dangers of GMO foods and there are people who are "skeptical" about the safety of cell phone radiation. There are people who are "skeptical" about climate change and there are people who are "skeptical" about the safety of vaccines. They're all "skeptics" but both sides like to say "I'm a 'skeptic,' you're a 'denier' or a 'moron' or a 'clueless ideologue'" when the fact of the matter is, "refusing to accept evidence at face value" is a problem that spans ideologies.
The "vaccine skeptic" movement is an exact mirror image of the "climate skeptic" movement, except one is an idiot disease that afflicts liberals while the other is an idiot disease that afflicts conservatives. Pretending that one side is an idiot while the other is not doesn't show wisdom, it shows you're infected.
Is there an overwhelming mountain of evidence that anthropocentric global warming is a real phenomenon? Absolutely. Is there an overwhelming mountain of evidence that vaccines are fundamentally safe? Absolutely. But tucking back into your corners and saying "fuck you you idiot" whenever someone says "prove it" helps nothing.
"Skeptic" means "one who must be convinced" not "one who must be dismissed." It's particularly ironic to me that we're having this discussion under an article about Richard Muller's climate change analysis. Muller was one of the guys that pissed off everyone on the left because he should "know better." So here he goes, taking a bunch of right wing money, and coming to his own conclusions.
And his conclusions agree with the mainstream.
This man is a skeptic. By any reasonable understanding of the word. Anyone who disagrees does the whole of scientific method a disservice.
Meh. The original definition you gave was:
""Skeptic: (n) A person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions""
I don't think an inclination to doubt opinions becomes "denier" of fact and evidence "pretty quickly". Maybe that's just me.
>The "vaccine skeptic" movement is an exact mirror image of the "climate skeptic" movement, except one is an idiot disease that afflicts liberals while the other is an idiot disease that afflicts conservatives. Pretending that one side is an idiot while the other is not doesn't show wisdom, it shows you're infected.
I'm not sure what you are talking about here, or how you are injecting political ideology into this. Kind of out of left field. Hmm. I was merely pointing out that the definition you gave of skeptic does not seem to describe climate change deniers. I think we need to dispense with the wishy-washy "everybody is an ideologue in their own way" kind of bullshit and have some intellectual honesty here. The campaign to discredit climate change is full of deniers and propagandists. It's much like the coordinated strategy to teach Creationism to children in public schools. These are not 'skeptical' people who just need to be shown the data. Let's not pretend that they are. On any level.
Lastly, (not that this has any bearing on the topic really) I am curious why you call vaccine skepticism a 'disease of the left' when the biggest political proponent of that line of thought to date has been Michelle Bachman. There is no doubt that the highest profile proponents have been conservative. Beyond that, it always looked to me that this was a cause taken up mostly by the home-school religious conservative crowd. Not sure what the rank and file believe, but it seems absurd to call this a 'liberal disease' in light of the facts.
The antivax movement got its start from Andrew Wakefield's Lancet article of 1998, which has not only been widely discredited it was actually retracted. That took 11 years, however, and in the interim Bobby Kennedy wrote a piece tying vaccines to autism in Rolling Stone, Jenny McCarthy set up a PAC against vaccination and white liberal women in wealthy areas of Los Angeles managed to bring back measles.
I call the anti-vax movement a "disease of the left" because I see it every day. My wife is a midwife for the affluent in Los Angeles. She makes a not-insubstantial amount of money every month holding seminars on vaccines. These women are her clients, and not a one of them has ever voted republican. Ever.
Those are the facts. There's nothing absurd about them. If you think there is, it indicates that your understanding is lacking.
That said, it is mostly these people that are the most vocal proponents: http://www.hubski.com/pub?id=5705
I was referring to your introducing political affiliations into the discussion as out of left field and irrelevant. Not the antivax movement.
Also, you're completely incorrect to suggest that Bachman didn't preach an anti-science message, and that it was only a problem of overreaching government. She got on the Today Show and told millions of viewers about how it could cause mental retardation (her source, a tearful mother). Let's be real here for a second and not pretend this didn't happen, and what her message was.
Finally, all it takes for antivax to not be branded a 'disease of the left' is for the right to share in it. Kind of takes away your ability to honestly brand it that way. Again, not that this whole left/right thing has anything to do with the climate change deniers being appropriately labeled as such.
I no longer see any point in continuing this conversation. You have a malformed idea in your head based on a limited exposure to the issue and you're going to go to the mattresses with that. Have fun. I'm out.
I wouldn't be comfortable saying that a creationist is skeptical about the age of the earth. Others can, but I think that's granting too much to what is simply a belief that isn't evidence based.