“The phrase ‘not-even-wrong’ describes any argument that purports to be scientific but fails at some fundamental level, usually in that it contains a terminal logical fallacy or it cannot be falsified by experiment (i.e. tested with the possibility of being rejected), or cannot be used to make predictions about the natural world.” – Wikipedia 
The physicist Jakob Bekenstein  proposed in his PhD dissertation in 1972 that black holes had positive entropy proportional to the surface area of their event horizon. This concept disagreed with the prevailing consensus and the physics community was very skeptical including Stephen Hawking, who set out to falsify Bekenstein’s argument. What Hawking did instead was to confirm it and then concede the point .
The physicist Richard Muller was a rather vocal skeptic of human-caused climate change until he analyzed the data for himself. His team has since published analysis that not only is the Earth surface warming rather dramatically but human emissions are 100 percent responsible . Muller describes his results in this video . In this example the outlier Muller was wrong and the consensus was correct, which is the more common result in science. We only here about the rare times the outlier is correct simply because that makes better news. In any event, it is always the argument with the most evidence which prevails in science.
These stories are good examples of how science progresses and also highlight the most important characteristic of skepticism: the willingness to be wrong, which distinguishes it from denial. Another distinguishing characteristic is knowledge of the science.
The expression “Not even wrong” is attributed to the physicist Wolfgang Pauli. He used it to criticize a paper written by another physicist. This critique implies that the argument is worse than simply being wrong and has come to be identified with arguments which are flawed in some fundamental way as describe on the Wikipedia page quoted above.
We have thus identified three categories of scientific argument: empirically correct, e.g. Bekenstein’s argument, empirically wrong, e.g. Muller’s argument, and not-even-wrong, e.g. string theory and the multi-verse, perhaps. Empirically wrong arguments which are falsified are important to science insofar as they may illuminate blind alleys and scientific arguments which are not-even-wrong may eventually prove not only to have value but to be correct in some limited circumstances. However, this is only possible if the argument is at least grounded in science and does not have logical fallacies.
In my last article  we examined arguments championed by the deniers Charles Lane  and Charles Krauthammer  in the Washington Post. Conflating climate physics with a single study of mammograms as Krauthammer did or cholesterol as did Lane is worse than not-even-wrong and requires a new and more accurate designation. Pauli did not have anything this stupid in mind when he coined the phrase “not-even-wrong”, which is why employing Hanlon’s razor we coin the label “stupid”.
There is a popular argument with global warming deniers, recently used by Senator Ted Cruz , which assumes that denier scientists must be right because they are in a very small minority. But that is a logical fallacy. The popularity or lack thereof has nothing to do with the correctness of a scientific argument. If climate hawks were to argue that the consensus of the climate science community is right only because they are in the majority that too would be a logical fallacy. In fact climate hawks point this out only to address yet another self-contradictory denier argument which claims that there are lots of climate scientists who deny global warming . When the latter argument was falsified, deniers rather than concede the point made up the opposite argument. Deniers employ adaptive irrationality.
The consensus view is correct because of the weight of evidence summarized in the five IPCC reports. This happens to be the consensus of most climate scientists because of this overwhelming evidence. Instead of foolishly comparing himself to Galileo and confusing historic fact in the process, i.e., conflating a flat earth with Ptolemaic geocentrism , Cruz would have done better to read these reports and familiarize himself with the facts. He confuses campaign contributions with evidence and while in the short run that is profitable for Cruz, in the long run it is stupid and reckless.
In the case of global warming we are fortunate to have these five IPCC reports and lots of survey reports published by all of the relevant science organizations in the world such as AGU, NASA, NOAA, NSF, NAS, AAAS, ACS and so on. These surveys and summaries include all the good testable arguments which have been verified by experiment, observation and analysis, and in addition, all the good testable arguments which have been partly or wholly falsified.
When we examine denier arguments, we find that most of them, as is the cases with Krauthammer’s and Lane’s, actually avoid relevant science, even that which is not-even-wrong, and are best classified as stupid. Making the same falsified arguments repeatedly is also stupid unless new evidence is presented. Thus I have observed that all denier arguments are stupid which may be why the scientific community has difficulty addressing them. Why would any credible scientist bother to respond to someone as dumb as Krauthammer? I submit that this is one reason is why industry consultants, apologists, the press and politicians avoid evidence-based science in favor of stupid arguments. Another would be that confronting evidence-based science contradicts their world view and creates painful and unwelcome tension. They would be forced to reject their sacrosanct ideologies. For many like Cruz it would impact their ability to earn a living. And a third reason would be that they have no idea what science or the truth is.
Are Krauthammer, Lane, Hiatt and Cruz lying, confabulating, self-delusional or just stupid? Cognitive psychologists and neuro psychologists study this from a clinical perspective. An excellent introduction to this effort is William Hirstein’s “Brain Fiction”. The orbitofrontal cortex is the part of the brain which would ordinarily tell a rational person that cholesterol has nothing to do with the polar vortex. It is the same part of the brain which malfunctions in sociopaths.
At a party last weekend a climate activist averred that our mistake was calling it “global warming” instead of “climate change” or maybe the other way around. But this is as stupid as any denier argument and avoids the problem. We have been using both terms in equal measure for the last forty years and calling it something else would have made little difference. The fossil fuels industry is not paying these people to lie because they object to the terminology. The solution is a threat to their profits. Implementing the solution by government regulation is a threat to all large multi-national corporations and all plutocrats. Self-criticism by climate activists is an irresponsible waste of time. We are not the problem.
The philosopher Daniel Dennett has defined free will : “What we have to understand is that free will is our capacity to see probable futures, futures which seem like they’re gonna happen, in time to take steps so that something else happens instead.” We have to concern ourselves with whether deniers have a free will, whether any amount of evidence would persuade them and whether or not Homo sapiens can survive as a consequence. We need to understand what has gone wrong in the denier brain and why.
According to Dennett scientists and activists exercised their free will “seeing probable futures.” We know what these are. The problem is we as a society are not taking the necessary steps so that something else happens. Why is that?
All of the people I’ve criticized have had large soap boxes and are paid to lie. All of their global warming denier arguments are stupid assiduously avoiding evidence. If we are going to find a rational argument which supports denial we will have to look elsewhere. We need to find a scientist, preferably a physicist, who understands what science is and whose livelihood does not depend on defending the over privileged and who is genuinely skeptical of the conclusions of the IPCC reports.
A good friend sent me an email he received from his friend who has a PhD in nuclear physics. I will call him Joe. Joe is a global warming skeptic and his email was his attempt to persuade my friend, an advanced degreed engineer that the IPCC reports are in error. We will examine Joe’s arguments in my next article.
 Jim Baggott, Farewell to Reality, How modern physics has bretrayed the search for scientific truth, Pegasus Books, 2013.
 Muller’s team’s papers http://berkeleyearth.org/papers
 Muller’s video http://www.skepticalscience.com/fiddling-with-global-warming-conspiracy-theories-while-rome-burns.html and an audio interview here http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/08/02/climate-change-skeptic
 Tony Noerpel, Deniers and Liars and Dunning-Kruger, March 17, 2015, http://brleader.com/?p=16610
 Charles Lane, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/science-with-a-side-order-of-humility/2015/02/18/d139f3d4-b78e-11e4-aa05-1ce812b3fdd2_story.html
 Chris Mooney http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/03/26/ted-cruz-invokes-galileo-to-defend-his-climate-skepticism-and-historians-arent-happy/
 an example: http://www.skepticalscience.com/OISM-Petition-Project.htm