Climate scientist Stephen Schneider versus the Sceptics: A case study of argumentation in deep disagreement.

Posted on 11 September 15


Goodwin, Jean. (2015). Climate scientist Stephen Schneider versus the Sceptics:  A case study of argumentation in deep disagreement. In Proceedings of the Seventh Conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Sic Sat.

Can deep disagreement be managed by argument? This case study examines the 2010 exchange between prominent climate scientist/climate communicator Stephen Schneider and an Australian television audience of self-described climate “sceptics.” An analysis of the moves made by audience members, the moderator, and Schneider himself shows that Schneider consistently reframed the interaction to emphasize trust, refusing to respond in kind to attacks on his credibility. He exerted firm control on the issues. And at several points, he exercised his authority as a scientist in refusing to engage points that were outside the scientific consensus. Although some of Schneider’s moves might traditionally have been classified as fallacies, in this context they served as strategies for managing interactional challenges, and making an exchange of arguments possible.

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