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Greetings to all,
I made some comments about the usage of the word uncertainty here, on a Forum page entitled "A video and some software," but I think what I said bears repeating, and a whole new topic. Perhaps this deserves to be a Wiki topic, as after all Scientific American saw fit to publish an entire article focusing on this subject - which can be found here. From the sidebar, I copied these three points. What's below that are my comments copied from the other thread.
Remember that, for Climate Science opponents, there is a tendency to play to the lowest common denominator, and to ignore the subtle distinctions which would help us to distinguish a true-to-life model from a flawed one. Specifically; while scientists hear the word 'uncertainty' in statistical terms, the average person can be persuaded to conflate this with a reason to feel that all climate models should be distrusted, or that scientists are lying.
It should be made very clear, whenever we talk about uncertainty on this forum or the Azimuth Wiki, that we mean statistical uncertainty about the data, predictive uncertainty about possible outcomes, or whatever. We must be careful to quantify in what way things are uncertain, rather than leaving open opportunities for wild exaggeration about what is being said. Tim's comment here serves to highlight the extent to which an open-ended statement about uncertainty could be misconstrued, and this could lead unscrupulous people to apply a slippery-slope argument that makes the whole Climate Science effort appear moot.
We all need to remember, scientific uncertainty is not the same as what being uncertain means to everybody else.