Developing a Scientific Argument

The following is a guide to help you develop scientific arguments and rebut or refute skeptics claims. You will play the role of a climate scientist and develop a scientific argument to answer one of the skeptics questions and claims about climate change. (Later you can download a template to assist you in developing your argument.)

Many trustworthy scientific resources have been compiled to assist you in developing your argument. The links to there resources are on the Climate Science Investigations (CSI) Resource page.

The following definitions will also assist you in developing your argument. A claim is a statement that expresses an answer to a question. The evidence is the data that supports the claim. The following criteria are important when identifying or collecting scientific evidence.

  • The data is observations and measurements collected in natural settings (empirical evidence).
  • The data is appropriate and relevant to the claim.
  • There are multiple types of evidence.

The justification is the rationale, reasoning, or explanation for why each type of evidence supports (or warrants) the scientific claim. The justification links each example of evidence to the claim. The justification also requires a discussion of appropriate scientific concepts that explain these links.

To begin, you will investigate the skeptics’ claim, evidence and justification. You will then develop a scientific counter-argument, which includes a rebuttal to refute the skeptics’ argument. A rebuttal is a scientific explanation that provides counter evidence and justification for why the skeptics’ evidence and justification is not an appropriate explanation for their claim. In other words, a rebuttal describes the alternative (skeptics’) explanation, but provides counter (scientific) evidence and reasoning for why the alternative (skeptics’) explanation is not correct.

Your argument will include the following components:

  • Skeptics Argument - Skeptics claim, the evidence, and justification
  • Scientists Counter-Argument - Scientists’ claim, evidence, and justification
  • Rebuttal to Skeptics Argument - Explanation of why the skeptics’ argument is NOT correct and a few examples of how to respond to more specific sub-arguments

Use the Climate Argument Prompts Template and Scoring Rubric in the Addressing Climate Skeptics Claims module to help you develop your written and oral argument.