This sounds so familiar. A few years ago, a historian of science, Naomi Oreskes, reviewed the literature on climate change and concluded that there is a unanimous consensus in the published work that anthropogenic carbon is a major contributor to global warming. Now a denialist has re-analyzed those papers and is saying that Oreskes was wrong : almost half of the papers are “neutral”, neither supporting nor refuting anthropogenic change, while 6% do reject the idea.
I say this is familiar because I see papers published all the time that have the word “evolution” in the title, use evolutionary theory as a guiding principle, and come to conclusions that support evolutionary theory, and creationists look at it and say that they’ve just disproved evolution, or that the work proves Intelligent Design creationism. It’s really easy for someone ignorant of a field to browse a paper that does not spell out its case for evolution (and most of them don’t — it’s taken for granted) and read into it ideas that aren’t there. Case in point: Phil Skell. You can also read anything on Uncommon Descent that mentions a scientific result and find a parade of buffoons distorting it to mean the opposite of what the work actually implies.
In the Oreskes case, we’ve got an unqualified individual, Klaus-Martin Schulte, a medical researcher, digging into the databases and trying to tell us that they say something compatible with the denialist position. He sounds like another Skell, maybe not quite so deranged, but still babbling. On the other side, we’ve got Oreskes herself responding to and refuting Shulte’s bogosity. It’s great fun to read and far more persuasive, since she doesn’t rely on mangling science to make her case.
I’m not a climatologist either, but I think I can tell who I trust. And it isn’t the revisionist who tries to twist scientific papers, and who thinks that the absence of an explicit endorsement of a widely accepted scientific theory means the paper does not support said theory.
I just realized … none of my work ever came out and said “These results prove Cell Theory.” Does that mean cell theory is in trouble now, too?