Case 1: In 1997 a prominent scientist made a bet with a colleague over a complex black hole issue that physicists were trying to figure out. This bet was very public and given the egos involved in the field of advanced quantum science, the stakes were huge.
Case 2: In a climate-related thread on S&R, a “skeptic” was asked point-blank: “What evidence would you accept that global warming is real? What tests would you have to see, in order to change your view?” This is a straight-up establishment of terms for consideration of any scientific question: what is evidence in favor of the hypothesis and what evidence disproves the hypothesis?
In Case 2, the alleged skeptic launched into a flurry of bobbing and weaving that would have dizzied Muhammad Ali in his prime.
What happened in Case 1? The prominent scientist, in 2004, conceded that he had lost the bet and paid up. Publicly. Who was this prominent scientist, by the way? You may have heard of him. It’s a guy named Stephen Hawking, and the “variety of cosmic radiation” in question is technically known as “Hawking Radiation.” You can read more about the wager here.
The skeptic denialist? Well, he’s like all denialists. He pretends to be a skeptic, but no real skeptic would ever dodge the “what would prove the point in your mind?” question. That question defines the very character of skepticism. The instant you dodge that question, you’re put of the closet in a nukular-powered neon jump suit.
What he would say, were he to be honest, is that “there is no evidence that would convince me I’m wrong since any such evidence would automatically be false.”
It’s called “dogma,” folks.
For now, I’ll leave it to the reader to consider what may be learned from contrasting the approach of a Nobel laureate with the approach of a faux-skeptic. Then again, what do I know. Maybe your garden-variety comment thread denialist is smarter than Stephen Hawking….