The first chore is to sort out what kind of skeptic you are dealing with. And for the most part, they fall into two varieties: uninformed folks acting in good faith (sometimes to meet self-serving ends) and informed experts acting in bad faith (often to serve industry).
It’s one thing to debate science in good faith. But when you find yourself debating someone arguing in bad faith, there’s nothing for it but to call out the dishonesty.
While it’s good and necessary to set the science record straight, continuing to answer false arguments made in bad faith only pours fuel on the fire. In this setting, the very act of debating the science promotes the notion there is something to debate. Climate deniers thrive on false debate. Rising to rebut their arguments is simply taking the bait.
Yet remaining silent often won’t work – thus the need to call out the disingenuous nature of the “debate.”
This post by a climate scientist in response to NYT reporter Revkin about the hacked email story is a good example of how to douse fire with water.
“The tactics the inactivists have been using in the run-up to Copenhagen have been all outside the sphere of legitimate scientific discourse. Bogus petitions, sham attempts to gut the A.P.S. climate statement, and now cowardly illegal outings of private emails from an individual scientist.”