Previously, I described an asymmetry between the approach of climate change deniers and climate scientists, with the latter unwilling to retract any claims no matter how poorly justified or effectively rebutted. I think the instance with the IPCC and ‘poorly substantiated’ Himalayan glacier data is illustrative.
A failure to properly vet some information has come to light, and the IPCC has responded in an open and honest way:
In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly…
The Chair, Vice-Chair, and Co-Chairs of the IPCC regret the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance. This episode demonstrates that the quality of the assessment depends on absolute adherence to the IPCC standards, including thorough review of ‘the quality and validity of each source before incorporating results from the source in an IPCC report.
Climate deniers have jumped on all this to argue that it undermines the overall conclusions reached by the IPCC. Far from calling into question the overall scientific consensus, this willingness to concede errors demonstrates one of the reasons for which it is robust, namely a willingness to accept and respond to valid criticism. By contrast, deniers of various stripes tend to rub along well with one another, even when they have wildly different positions: that climate change isn’t happening, that it is actually beneficial, that it is caused by something other than greenhouse gases, etc.