I don’t think this is something is has been noticed much, but one of the key reasons why claims about anthropogenic climate change have been able to thrive despite a lack of serious underlying evidence is similar to one of the key reasons as to why alternative medicine has been able to thrive despite a lack of serious underlying evidence.
What reason is that? Well, alternative medical practitioners have learned that they are best off making their claims in relation to conditions that naturally wax and wane. Homeopathists are not so stupid as to claim that they can fix a broken leg. Acupuncturists are not crowding around people brought into hospital with stab wounds saying they’ve got just the thing for that. Herbalists are not writing articles in their herbal magazines about how they can fix a ruptured kidney.
The alternative ‘doctors’ prefer to treat people with conditions like back pain, skin conditions, depression, stomach problems, chronic tiredness, and other conditions which vary a lot over time (and also which are subject to some degree to a patient’s state of mind). When the natural variation results in the patient’s condition taking a turn for the better, this can be attributed to the marvellous medicine.
Climate change works in a similar fashion. Weather and climate naturally wax and wane. Some summers are hotter than others, some colder. Some winters are hotter than others, and some colder. Some years are hotter than others, and some colder. The same applies to decades, and to centuries. Just as the alternative conman can turn ordinary fluctuations to his advantage, so to can the climate change flim flam artist, using precisely the same faulty reasoning, only instead of attributing the disappearance of the headaches to the reiki sessions, a period of naturally occurring warmer weather gets attributed to the use of 100 watt light globes. Episodes that don’t fit into the narrative are ignored – only the successes are reported and considered significant.
In one way, of course, there isn’t a parallel, and that is that climate change gurus, instead of being scorned by the scientific establishment are rewarded with money and prestige and moral authority, when really they should be treated as on a par with bioelectromagnetic therapy practitioners, and drummed out of the academy.
Update: Alternative doctors were a lot bolder in the distant past about claiming to be able to fix things that don’t naturally wax and wane, and it didn’t work out well for them – one notable example being the Bates Method, and the famous episode with Aldous Huxley. It was from episodes like those that they learned their lessons.