A Flawed Riddle: Choose between Obama and Gore?

A conservative organization’s either/or framing on statements by President Obama and Al Gore poses a phony choice. It’s entirely responsible to accept both … or, for that matter, to accept neither. They’re not mutually inconsistent.

Which do you believe?

And do you have to believe just one? Or can you believe both?

That “Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come”?

Or that “We can’t attribute any weather event to global warming”?

Pick or choose: One or the other? Or neither or both?

The two quotes came just about two weeks apart, the former in late October and the latter in mid-November 2012.

In a very real sense, the question posed — which do you agree with? — pits former Vice President Al Gore, source of the first quote, against President Obama, source of the second.

The riddle appears on billboards, the work of “CFACT,” the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, which publishes Marc Morano’s “Climate Depot” skeptics site. The billboards, with photos of both Obama and Gore, are placed along Washington, D.C., and New York City expressways.

According to Heartland Institute, which has mailed post cards showing the billboards, the billboards “point to the lack of consensus on climate change even among prominent Democrats.”

Choose one or the other, it seems. Multiple choice, except there’s no implication that accepting both statements as legitimate is no doubt the most accurate answer: You can believe both, they’re not inconsistent.

Message and image below from Watchdog.org. (Hat tip to Professor Mark Chopping of Montclair State University in New Jersey for pointing out this riddle. He plans to use it to test the reasoning skills of his general education and non-major students.)

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10 Responses to A Flawed Riddle: Choose between Obama and Gore?

  1. Windy says:

    It doesn’t matter if one ‘believes’ either of these statements what matters is if either of these statements is accurate and supported by evidence.

    The first statement lacks any scientific evidence and is nothing but an opinion based on an emotional reaction to a disaster. A storm is a storm and a disaster is a disaster. We can also be ‘disturbed’ by past storms similar to Sandy that are part of the meteorlogical record. So being ‘disturbed’ about Sandy is a choice that Al Gore makes that has nothing to do with fact. The idea that one single storm is a ‘sign’ to future events is unscientific and fails logic learned in a 100 level college course..

    The second statement is accurate as there is still not enough scientific data to say that any single weather event can be ‘attributed’ to global warming. Global warming may have contributed to an event but contribution is not attribution.

    • melty says:

      I think you are being a bit tough on Gore here. If you thought that we would see much more violent storms as a result of global climate disruption (and scientists think that we will), such an emotional reaction is really not that surprising. IOW, just because someone attaches emotion to a statement does not automatically mean it is wrong.

      • melty says:

        oh, and insurers are noticing more violent weather events, too. Being emotional is only human — but insurers care only about their bottom line.

        • Paul Quigg says:

          Insurance is based on how many of their clients are living in the area of the future events they are insuring. The more we build in exposed places without anticipating and planning for future events, the higher the costs. Subsidized flood insurance is encouraging people to build in exposed areas, and the public will pay for inevitable damage. We must adapt to future climate rationally.

  2. Jack says:

    Both statements are correct, it depends on the context.

    There is proof that human caused climate change made hurricane Sandy worse than it would have been if human caused climate change was not happening, the ocean temperature would not have been as warm as it was, thus the hurricane would have been less severe.

    We can’t attribute any particular weather event to global warming. That may indeed be true since a scientific consensus regarding the number of hurricanes does not currently rule out climate change impacting the “number” of hurricanes. But it is very clear that the effects of climate change is making rainfall more intense and storms more violent.

    The purpose of the billboard is to continue to confuse the public about the risks of climate change by the fossil fuel industry, unfortunately all of humanity will be learning the hard truth sooner than later.

    • Windy says:

      Jack – examination of the long term SST trend in the Atlantic shows that the SST prior to Sandy was not unusual. What data do you base your assertions on?

  3. Paul Quigg says:

    Gore has lost all credibility since 2007 with his over the top rants of impending doom, he attributes all major weather events to climate change. Obama is basically correct, but not entirely. The rise in global temperatures is a contributing factor in all weather but this contribution when coupled with the billions of other contributors to our weather makes it impossible to say, if or how much. If Sandy had struck a remote beach on a Virginia or Maryland barrier island, would we even be talking about this?

    • melty says:

      Would you care to list some of the “billions of other contributors to our weather”? Also, I’d like to now where those remote beaches or barrier islands are on the East coast (I’m looking for somewhere nice and quiet to retire). Oh wait — I don’t think there are any such places on the Atlantic coast at these latitudes.

      • Paul Quigg says:

        Every plant in the world, every person, every drop of water, every piece of ice, every cloud, every piece of soil, every foreign object in the air, water and ground. I probably left out a few billion other things.
        The Atlantic coastline from Cape Charles, VA to Ocean City,MD is around 120 miles long with barrier islands the entire distance, with very thin populations in between. It is a wonderful place to retire, very quiet.