Monday, April 21, 2008

In the trenches

Over at Deltoid, a commentator going by the handle of Schneb posts from the secondary school trenches about teaching current affairs (it's pretty long, but you need the entire comment to see the issues that are raised and that Rabett Run wants to consider)

I teach a current events-type course to 12th graders. We spent quite a bit of time on Global Warming. There were two bright, very nice, responsible young people who kept to themselves in the class--I can't blame them, the rest of the class, as 2nd semester seniors tend to be, were NOT the most focused, thoughtful people.

But as time went by, I realized the two 'nice' students were not just different in behavior, but in outlook: to them, Global Warming is an invented scheme, and/or hysterical over-reaction. And like the young blogger profiled on NPR, they have news stories about various carbon reading techniques, or the growth of the polar bear population, etc. to back themselves up. They see the mass of scientists who agree that GW is real and caused by human behavior as self-serving careerists who somehow profit from adopting/promoting the GW party line.

But the two that I'm talking about really are nice people--so they don't do a Penn & Teller 'Bull&$#@'-type proclamation of their views. In fact, it wasn't clear that they were hardline in their views 'til we were most of the way through the unit (maybe they kept a low profile initially because, while they're sure they're right, they're used to the rest of the world seeing things otherwise and mocking or dismissing them?--just a guess). When I finally realized their 'take' on GW, I wanted to engage them and bring them around to what I see as the only legitimate view [GW is real/human-caused]--but a flat-out dissing of their view would only have put me on their long list of 'sheep who follow the self-serving GW deceivers'. So I tried a couple of ways to indirectly explore the issue so they'd see the error of their ways. They never said, 'gosh, maybe it IS real!'--more the opposite, actually--so I can't say that I had any success, but I hope they'll eventually come around and that I started opening their minds a bit.

I mention this because the problem isn't that a GW-denying teen-blogger was profiled on NPR. It's what she stands for (and that's what I saw the NPR piece as being about). There's a sub-culture of anti-GW folks out there. And like the blogger, they can sound knowledgeable. As all here seem to agree, this is the problem.

And as you all have noted, others, who see GW as real, don't always sound knowledgeable. As I remember the NPR story, the blogger's friend sees GW as real, but couldn't say why. Sit that friend in a room with 2-3 of the GW deniers, who bombard her with legitimate-sounding criticism of GW and there'll be 3-4 deniers in the room (instead of 2-3).

But it's not just that the deniers have somehow fallen prey to bad science. Those who takes this position, and particularly the young people who do so, gets quite a 'rush' of self-empowerment. Sorry if this seems extreme, but it's probably what fed the Hitler Youth, and the Red Guard, but in a less virulent form: a basis for flouting authority; instead of being a dependent, subservient 'youngster' you get to thumb your nose at the dusty old, wrong-headed, know-it-alls, and you get to do so by (in your own eyes, at least) being smarter than them.

I don't mean to say that the two very nice young people in my class are somehow comparable to the Hitler Youth. Far from it! They are not advocating violence or racism--I'm sure they are actively doing 'the opposite', whatever that would be--but I think they're getting a little of the same vibe that fed the HY, etc.

I mention this because understanding where they're coming from, is important.

It's not a question of science alone, but of psychology, as well.

Showing them that their graphs are wrong might be very satisfying--and might keep them from convincing their friends to join (if the friend witnesses your debunking of the debunkers)--but I don't think you're likely to set them straight. It's not about the graphs for them--its about how they see themselves, and that's based on how they see anyone who says GW is real/human-caused. This is about identity, as defined in terms of 'science'--not science.

And frankly, that same psychology underlies a large part of what the religious right (of which these two young women may be a part) is all about, in general, as far as I can see.

It helped me to lay this all out. Sorry if I'm didactically stating the obvious.

This is as good a statement of the problem as Eli has ever seen, but it is also clear that there is not one problem but several.

1. The first, let us call it modestly, the Eli/Mashey N3xus is to expose the bad science for what it is so that those with casual interests don't fall prey. At the extreme this means confronting the agents of denial publicly.

2. The second, we can call this the Schneb imperative, is to not further alienate the cultural denialists and, at best, to raise some doubts in their minds which may later have an effect.

3. Then again there is the question of how you correct a sympathetic, but wrong advocate. Simon Donner points out wrt Kristen Byrnes
Are we really having this discussion? This is a high school student. Seriously, this is exhibit A for all those who argue we do more harm than good attacking 'skeptics'.
Those are the issues. The question is what is the proper order of concern, is putting out an answer more important than not further alienating the alienated, how should one avoid ticking off bystanders. In short, what should be done.

65 comments:

Dano said...

The question is what is the proper order of concern, is putting out an answer more important than not further alienating the alienated, how should one avoid ticking off bystanders. In short, what should be done.

That's kinda what Dano was getting at with the list over at DotEarth. Of course, I'm grumpy and especially impatient these days, and DotEarth is rapidly becoming - if it isn't already - akin to the fever swamps with bad comment interface. Thus the message gets muddied.

But that newRaven character is obviously young and of the attitude described above.

Anyway, what to do? Do we drop the ridicule and instead simply say: 'asked and answered hudreds of times', then ignore the youths?

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:

What's a failed propagandist to do Dano?

By the way, the above article has it exactly the wrong way round. It's the young "Warmers" who are the new Red Guard or Hitler Youth, in that they have been brainwashed by the Socialist fellow travelers we discussed earlier.

As reality dawns, and the consequences of your work becomes clear, so will come the great shaming.

Simon Donner said...

What a terrific analysis. The acceptance of global warming among the general public is probably hardening - not softening - many people's skepticism. The writer touches on the psychology of the contrarians themselves.

It does, in the end, come down to education. First, as the writer mentions, many of the global warming activists are poorly educated about the science. I encounter this all the time in my own work. Second, teaching global warming is almost always elective, it is not generally part of a core curriculum. If students saw it as a normal part of science, rather than a political issue, they'd be unlikely to become contrarian. No doubt, some school boards and universities may be uncomfortable with that idea. Excluding climate change science from basic science education is doing students a major disservice. Whether they like it or not, coping with, mitigating and adapting to climate change is their future.

bi -- Intl. J. Inact. said...

There are two kinds of contrarians: those who are just misguided, and those such as MarkeyMouse who are professional smoke-blowers.

It's generally easy to tell: the former people ask useful questions in response to facts presented, and follow up with some other useful questions, etc.; the latter just shoot talking points like a machine gun and ignore all facts.

For the former group of people, I take the trouble to cite the relevant scientific literature. The professional inactivists, though, can go screw themselves. And it'll be a good idea to make clear that I make this distinction (although I'm not sure if I've done that well enough).

John Mashey said...

For schools, this is what UK does:
http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/sustainableschools/library/resources/library_resource_detail.cfm?id=140

Dano said...

bi:

I find the FUD purveyors project onto their subject as well. For example: projecting that I'm a propagandist.

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

Knowledge, is personal property and not easily or ever given up by its owner.

We all bump into people and conversations where an individual dominates the talk with his/her 'facts'. Challenging their knowledge base digs them in deeper (the trench warfare).

My comeback to hard line denialists (and particularly those who claim it is a hoax foisted on us by self-serving scientists and environmentalists) is to tell them how governments around the world are taking an interest or action in mitigating their perceived threat of global warming.

There are no serious environmental organizations in China, Indonesia, Tuuvalu, India or Papua New Guinea pressuring leaders who are repeatedly speaking out about the threat to their land, people, resources, agricultural base, water supplies.

And, global corporations and banks are not motivated by environmental slogans and campaigners to address, in their own way, possible threats to their livelihood as the global climate changes. Even the US intelligence agencies are taking serious looks at a future of glboal warming.

Spend a few minutes dwelling on this evidence that environmentalists are not actually driving those governments and business-types to examine global warming. The facts are plain enough for those people operating within their own knowledge base, to think and act.

John McCormcik

Walt Bennett said...

When you consider that the next step after telling us what we're doing wrong is to tell us how we have to live now, and the next step after that is to tell us that developed countries are to be punished for their development at the expense of those who are not yet as developed, and when you consider the dogmatism of those, such as the high school teacher, toward those who "do not believe", is it any wonder there are skeptics and denialists?

If only to serve as a counter-balance to the herd-like mentality of the hard-core left on this issue, I for one am not the least bit upset that they are mucking up the machinery.

Don't get me started on the fraud being conducted in the name of "solutions".

This is, no doubt, the wrong forum to express this view. So is RC, as it turns out.

Having seen the ugliness of which both sides are capable, my current attitude is: a pox on both their houses.

And Eli: leave Kristen alone, will you? The more you drag her through the analytical muck, the more of a rock star she becomes to "the others".

She's really not worth all the attention, and you really don't need her as a target.

bi -- Intl. J. Inact. said...

Quick exercise to everyone else: is Walt Bennett an honest contrarian, or a career inactivist?

Dano:

"I find the FUD purveyors project onto their subject as well. For example: projecting that I'm a propagandist."

Hey, that's a cool point... the presence of the Clinton-did-it-too canard is another way to tell the honest contrarians apart from the professional FUDists.

Anonymous said...

"The second, we can call this the Schneb imperative, is to not further alienate the cultural denialists and, at best, to raise some doubts in their minds which may later have an effect."

This is basically the old "don't tell them they are wrong (even if they are) for fear of offending them."

There is one slight problem: if the very identity of these people is tied up in their beliefs about science, there is virtually no way of bringing them around to another way of thinking without offending them.

Cthulhu said...

I have never suceeded in convincing an entrenched evolution denier or global warming denier that the science has validity. Neither do I think it's even possible to do so anymore.

It's a waste of time trying, like you aptly put it - it's a 'culture' of denial. Each camp of deniers approach evolution and manmade global warming not as science (I firmly believe a lot of them don't really understand what science is) but as political-religious cultural arguments that arguably have no "right" answer, much like say the war in iraq or abortion. They aren't looking for some truth but to convert, maim and smear. Im sorry to say it, but that Kirsten looks like she's lost in their ranks permanently now.

You cannot convince such a culture away, they aren't trying to sift through the data to find the most likely conclusion. They are sifting through the data to find ways to avoid a conclusion or to smear the other side. They will nitpick and throw up barriers of Doubt left right and center to obstruct you from hitting home and generally waste your time.

Ridiculing them when they make silly claims is essential though, it's the only way to hint to neutrals that the objections made are really ridiculous. Otherwise something like "co2 rise might be natural" comes off as a non-silly claim.

Ridicule also changes the lines of what is acceptable argument and what is not. Despite not really caring about the stupidity of their arguments the denialists certainly seem to care what neutrals might think of them.

That's why a few years back denialists would introduce themselves in print with words like "us global warming skeptics don't deny the world is warming but..". Ie they didn't want neutrals to associate them with a ridiculous position, and they knew most people accepted the globe was warming.

(Of course now it's become ok to claim the globe isn't warming, or even that co2 rise might not be human caused)

The key is to convince the neutrals - the general public that certain claims are ridiculous. Then the denialists make such claims at their peril.

Even dirty tactics can work such as pointing out the more extreme and ridiculous cases of denialism to the neutrals as a case study in denialism culture.

Intelligent Design advocates have great trouble for example because they get associated with those extreme claims about a 6000 year old Earth.

Walt Bennett said...

If "contrarian" implies a certain "hey, wait a minute" attitude, that is accurate enough. You seem to have invented the term "inactivist". Assuming it means "one who is not an activist", please define "activist".

The attitude of the left ("those who believe") toward the right ("those who do not believe") is de facto condescension ("we have facts; you have scare tactics), and can be turned completely around when it comes to the "solutions business", which to date boils down to (1) pay people to not burn down their forests and (2) make people pay more for carbon, but only where their emissions growth is mostly capped; those who intend to keep expanding their growth in emissions get something like a free pass (or else they will simply refuse to commit to anything at all).

In this realm, it is the left who have the scare tactics, and the right who have the facts.

Allow me the conceit of these easy groupings, and feel free to call them by any other name.

Anonymous said...

Walt Bennett said: And Eli: leave Kristen alone, will you? The more you drag her through the analytical muck, the more of a rock star she becomes to "the others".

Thanks for your most sincere concern, Walt.


Eli:
Keep doing what you (Tim Lambert and others) are doing (ie, exposing the nonsense for what it is), Eli, because the fact that people like Walt are warning you not to do it because it is "counterproductive" is proof that it is working.

EliRabett said...

Eli is a very old bunny and he knows a lot of people in Earth sciences, esp. atmospheric chemistry, and some of them are so far right that they make Reagan look communist (say, wasn't he one once??). Anyhow when we talk about atmospheric science, the stuff Walt is obsessing about doesn't come up and there is pretty good agreement about the general picture. Of course, if you want an argument about a rate constant, an absorption coefficient, or for sure a branching ratio any one of us will give it to you forevah.

That's what makes this all so frustrating. I might have my druthers about how to meet the problem, and that is where you can find political choices, but only a foolish person or an ideolog will try and pretend that the base situation is a question of politics.

Walt Bennett said...

Not sure what you are referring to me obsessing about, Eli. This is maybe my 4th comment ever on your blog, and our paths have crossed at RC only occasionally.

If the point you are referring to is that the solutions business is a fraud, that is completely separate from discussing the "base situation". You will observe that I concur with general AGW theory, and in fact believe that the change will be more aggressive than generally acknowledged.

However, one cannot separate that reality from the political discussion of "what to do". There are severe problems with the Kyoto/Bali approach, which rely on the general good will of all nations, on some nations absorbing more of an impact than others, and on absorbing costs in a way which will have unpredictable and unintended consequences. Not to mention, they just plain won't work.

How happy is the history of government interference with markets? How's the whole biofuel thing looking to the third world these days?

I warned that this would not be the forum for such a discussion. You bunnies know how to bare your teeth, when somebody tries to tell you that a steady diet of raw carrots may not develop all parts of your brain equally.

The solutions business is a fraud. That in no way impugns the underlying science of AGW, nor do I assert that it does.

Dano said...

if the very identity of these people is tied up in their beliefs about science, there is virtually no way of bringing them around to another way of thinking without offending them.

then

I have never suceeded in convincing an entrenched evolution denier or global warming denier that the science has validity. Neither do I think it's even possible to do so anymore.

Yes.

The issue is how are denialists treated? Ignorage? Condescension? Ridicule? Patience (which plays into the hands of FUD purveyors)?

Because Walt's basic wrap-up is the key:
The solutions business is a fraud. That in no way impugns the underlying science of AGW, nor do I assert that it does.


Many folk hate environazis/green weenies/alarmists because if the warmists paradigm is correct, then the denialist ideology-self identity is negated. Maybe hate is too strong a word for some in this group.

Others hate the debate altogether because this means their behavior must change. It is very hard to take something away from someone.

Couple this with the fact that humans and human societies have poor conceptualization of scale - in this case, time scales of more than a few years, and how do you make the case that it is likely that x may occur?

In this country, divisive politics that tried to divide and conquer is rife in this debate. You can see it in this thread.

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

There are severe problems with the Kyoto/Bali approach,"

The same old tired strawman.


There are lots of things that will work, but of course, any time someone proposes doing something (anything), th same concern trolls bring up Kyoto, as if somehow, that is the only thing in the world, and if that does not work, nothing will.

Thanks but no thanks, Walt.

The people like you who believe that "nothing will work" have been with us for a very long time.

They were with us when Edison invented the light bulb, when JFK proposed landing a man on the moon, and now, they are still with us.

EliRabett said...

Allow Eli to point out that KB is not exactly shy about calling folk names. Of course she gets it all wrong which exposes here to ridicule

Anna Haynes said...

re dano's
> "I find the FUD purveyors project onto their subject as well. For example: projecting that I'm a propagandist."

I don't think it's projection, since projection is unconscious.

I think it's a deliberate part of the strategy - now when you tell the neutrals that the deniers are propagandists, they'll say "both sides say that" and discount it.

Anna said...

> "I have never suceeded in convincing an entrenched evolution denier or global warming denier that the science has validity. Neither do I think it's even possible to do so anymore. "

Deniers online, or offline?

Offline, it's a lot easier to tell that you're dealing with someone who's sincere (i.e. not employed as a PVC pipe). I think offline you can do it.
Online, all bets are off.

> "if the warmists paradigm is correct, then the denialist ideology-self identity is negated"

well, yes and no. The self-identity might need to change but in primate-social-hierarchy one-up-one-down terms, they shouldn't need to be one-down, since they carry _way_ more weight in reaching their peer group than you do. They can be hugely influential.

or so i think

Anna Haynes said...

> "others, who see GW as real, don't always sound knowledgeable. As I remember the NPR story, the blogger's friend sees GW as real, but couldn't say why."

Yes. Some of us are mighty good at getting the right answers on the test, but lousy at convincing others that it is the right answer.

I think what'd be very useful (and I suggested this to David Kestenbaum, the NPR reporter for the K.B. story) would be to explicitly cover the basics of practical epistemology - and put into words what Kristen's friend Chrissy Flanders grasped intuitively.

Joe Romm's email exchange with a doubter might also come in handy.

Anonymous said...

I think one step would be to emphasis that there are 3 main positions in the debate rather than two, people who follow the science need to make it clear that they're not in the extreme alarmist camp, that they're not motivated by a green/socialist ideology.

The tying of the mainstream/IPCC position to the extreme alarmist camp in the minds of people who despise greens has been the denialists most effective recruiting technique.

If you accept the IPCC position it I think it would also be an idea to make more of a point in condemning alarmists, ie. people who make claims beyond what the science supports, rather than ignoring them or being seen to support them.

Taking this tack would also be helpful in defeating the "balance" argument used on the media by denialists pushing their agenda, the counter balance to denialist views isn't the IPCC position, but rather the opposing extremists.

Have a look at how Bob Carter is claiming that it's actually HIM and others of his ilk who are the centrist, he's full of BS but for the poorly informed I'm sure very convincing.
This needs to be countered with go strategy.

http://hot-topic.co.nz/2008/04/20/i-occupy-the-balanced-middle-of-this-debate/

Andrew

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:

"It's the young "Warmers" who are the new Red Guard or Hitler Youth, in that they have been brainwashed by the Socialist fellow travelers we discussed earlier."

yes, uh huh, of course.

Can the comments get any nuttier?

I dub thee "Malarkey Mouse"

Anonymous said...

The main why you don't convince people of AGW is your debating style, use of expressions like 'deniers'. I myself simply stop reading whenever someone uses this term and immediately head over to Icecap.

All it does is convince one that there is something deeply wrong with an hypothesis that is so continually defended by personally abusing its sceptics.

You need to ask yourselves, are you trying to persuade? If so you are going about it all wrong.

As you will all doubtless show in reaction to this post. You have a real problem. Yes, you, not me. I am the one you would like to convince. Not like this.

anon 11.32

bi -- Intl. J. Inact. said...

/me ignores another content-free self-important inactivist rant

Andrew:

"The tying of the mainstream/IPCC position to the extreme alarmist camp in the minds of people who despise greens has been the denialists most effective recruiting technique."

Well, these days it looks like the inactivists are trying a new tack: to pretend that the IPCC report is really telling us to Do Nothing, and it's in fact Fat Al Bore Gore the Antichrist who's being alarmist by twisting the IPCC results.

(Of course, these are the same people who argue that the Mainstream Scientific Establishment -- which the IPCC represents -- is engaged in a huge leftist conspiracy to burn people at the stake in gulags. But since when did inactivist logic had to make sense?)

At any rate, the main problem with your proposed tactic is that -- if you decide to use it -- you'll have to cite actual examples of what you mean by true "alarmism". Otherwise people will continue to associate Gore and Hansen with "alarmism". (And besides, I personally am uncomfortable with talking about groups of people who've not been provably shown to exist.)

Anonymous said...

Well Bi, perhaps you are an alarmist.
Do you believe that AGW is a crisis, or that a doubling of natural CO2 to 560ppm must lead to a crisis?
If so, either the science supports such conclusions, and you can point out peer reviewed science supporting such claims, or such claims are not supported by peer reviewed science and so are only supported by nonscientific beliefs and can fairly be labelled as ideologically motivated alarmism.

Cheers, Andrew

Anonymous said...

Some of this is profoundly dispiriting . I am continually left with the impression that deniers think that AGW is some form of politcal party that can be voted for or against, can be defeated by argument.
Simon Donner earlier is, I am sure,correct to say that some blame lies in the direction that Science education has taken over recent years.

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:

The deniers think that the MBH hockey stick and all its derivatives have been discedited, the Global temperarure data record has been corrupted, the IPCC review process is a sham, staffed by chief reviewers who are themselves authors of the discredited papers, and with a politically derived mission statement that assumes global warming was already proven. Scientific Journals will only publish papers which support the "Warmer" line, and employ reviewers who are corrupt in that they seek to suppress any dissenting view. The deniers are 100% correct.

What is dispiriting is that the whole scientific record is being corrupted.

Some scientist remind me of the old time Manchester Guardian readers who thought that "men of goodwill" could sort everything out. The tragedy is that those naifs can't see the hard headed and politically motivated propagandists like Dano and the Hockey Team and IPCC commissars and for what they are.

bi -- Intl. J. Inact. said...

/me ignores another volley of the same of crappy talking points

Dano said...

Of course, one must wade through the chimp chatter to find what one wants. Viz. Anon at 11.32 pm.

Certainly this condition bifurcates the discussion and divides into two camps (Fleck says 'tribes').

The question is: is the number of these stragglers large enough to warrant action, or is their number sufficiently small that ignorage is appropriate, and society continues to move on?

That is: society has moved past the "debate" and is discussing adaptation and mitigation (what to do). Do we waste our energy trying to explain to the stragglers what the majority of society is doing, or do we just hope they catch up?

Best,

D

EliRabett said...

Eli never uses the term deniers to describe the denialists. The denialists who think they are being called deniers might ruminate on why they feel so guilty

Horatio Algeranon said...

"leave Kristen alone, will you?"

The commenter who said this may have a point.

Why criticize a girl of just 16 when there are so many old guys to choose from who provide (a seemingly endless stream of) most excellent material for "critique" on an almost daily basis?

Anonymous said...

Re: “leave Kristen alone”.

Kristen’s opinions were thrust to the forefront of the news last year by denialists who exploited her dual straw man arguments of 1) confusing weather and climate in Australia and 2) claiming that AGW was false because global temperatures were not increasing lock-step with CO2 levels. It is a dastardly tactic indeed to use such a person as Kristen as a mouthpiece for such deceptive and erroneous claims, and then expect people to “leave Kristen alone (unspoken: she is only a teenage girl)”.

With both a blog and her public interviews she has become a public figure and as such it is important that the errors in her very publicly stated opinions be addressed as they have been frequently reproduced in the past.

I think that Eli’s image of Dorothy (notice the strings) was most apropos.

Arch Stanton

John Cross said...

I just had an excellent example of not being able to convince a doubter. Over at this site (scroll down to the last bit of the discussion) I had it out with someone who refuses to believe that a cooler body will radiate heat to a warmer body because he says it will contravene the second law.

The person obviously had some idea of physics because of some of the objections they raised but refused to accept a well established formula.

In 50 years psychologists will be writing papers about this.

John

Walt Bennett said...

It sure is sad to see how people twist themselves into knots in their attempt to justify steering a climate debate in the direction of a renewed critique of a high school project.

She sought the limelight; that's kind of the point. Why are we allowing other people to decide what we will consider worth our time? Sure, there is a faction on the non-AGW front that wants us all to focus on her; I got bounced out of CS in a heartbeat for mocking her declaration that Hansen is a fraud. She is a true untouchable over there. My point was, what is served by playing into that game? What could she possibly represent that requires the attention of serious minded folks?

Perhaps you will say "we need to reveal what a fraud her site is", to which I would say "if we teach people actual climate science, they can figure that out for themselves."

It's all a little too puffed up and defensive for me, as is so much of what goes on at RC these days. All this time spent calling other people names. How about, remember your charter? Real Climate. You are the guys who make the actual science. Let's read more about that. But no, they feel obligated to fire back at every gunshot across their bow, and in so doing they admit to their own defensiveness, while assuming that their audience lacks the intelligence to separate good science from garbage.

But that is not the largest problem plaguing the AGW camp, although it is an important one. The larger problem is this: if you aren't left enough, you get your head bit off.

I should not have to declare my middle ground. I have always represented, in any forum where I participate, that I largely accept the science of AGW, and if anything I believe it will be worse, sooner than anticipated.

But my ability to follow the science leads me to the inescapable conclusion that "emissions reduction" has zero chance of actually succeeding. Hansen himself revealed this when he asserted that the only way to avoid passing 450 ppm was to cease building new coal plants immediately. That was last year. I note that coal plants continue to be built.

Perhaps we will have the opportunity to dive into this subject more deeply in a future post. I won't clutter this thread with those thoughts any further at this time.

As regards the "solutions business": show me somebody who is selling a solution for AGW and I will show you a purveyor of fraud.

We cannot possibly get on to actual solutions until we reveal these snake oil merchants for who they are.

Anonymous said...

poor Walt,

After all the debacles of the past 8 years (war on Iraq, War on Science and the rest), he sees his entire right wing ideological world view lying about him in shambles.

Is it any wonder that he is so bitter?

Dano said...

I agree with almost every word of Walt at 11:39 AM.

Can we overcome our human natures?

Best,

D

Michael Tobis said...

Dano: "The question is: is the number of these stragglers large enough to warrant action, or is their number sufficiently small that ignorage is appropriate, and society continues to move on?"

The number is 88% among Republicans.

Republicans have a lot of influence in America and Americans have a lot of influence in the world. Both may be in decline, but I think we need to understand how 88% of any major demographic comes to an incorrect conclusion. Even if we get out of this situation with our skins intact, the existence of such powerful propaganda techniques is not something to shrug off lightly.

Anonymous said...

"we need to understand how 88% of any major demographic comes to an incorrect conclusion". It is not just Republicans either. You may not have noticed, but the same thing happens in Europe and the rest of the world, and there don't seem to be any Republicans there.

We do indeed need to understand. I think it is called 'false consciousness'. There is a similar phenomenon in politics. The working class in the developed world commonly votes right wing or social democrat, not realizing, because of this false consciousness, and because of the extraordinary effectiveness of right wing propaganda, that the Party actually has the answers.

It seems amazing to us activists, but they do not grasp that there is only one legitimate point of view on this. The inexorable march of history will result in the rise to power of proletarian liberation movements such as ours, and it is their class duty to vote for us.

The question of how we react to false consciousness, actually a sort of denialism, has been a subject of debate in Party circles among theoreticians. Some say that we have to be kind to them and bring them along slowly and not alienate them. I myself, with an increasing proportion of the Party, believe that deniers cannot be convinced, and must be liquidated, or at best forcibly reeducated. Or perhaps we must treat their mental disturbance as an illness.

A classic example of this is those who read Wegman and do not see, or pretend not to see, that it vindicates Mann on every single point. Not of course that it matters, its a trivial point of ancient history. But still, only mental illness or duplicity can explain this.

One thing is for sure: the science is settled, the debate is over, and the question that remains is how to deal with those who cannot or will not see this. Deal with them no more kindly than History will, that would be my advice!

Anonymous said...

My own experience is, already some time ago, with evolution deniers. It is, as Simon D remarks, a problem of education. But it is important to appreciate that climate change (or any other) denialism is not a scientific theory. Not even a wrong one, paraphrasing Wolfgang Pauli. It is a conspiracy theory; and should be addressed as all such are, i.e., by deconstruction of the psychology (which may be complex and largely unconscious) and reductio ad absurdum.

Providing piles of peer-reviewed evidence isn't going to convince them -- hey, the evidence was manufactured by the conspiracy, right? They don't get "the science" wrong, they don't "get" science at all, don't acknowledge it as a legitimate community process for providing society with a valid understanding of the real physical world.

That many are cherry picking by happily accepting, e.g., the fruits of modern medicine, just underlines how non-robust, haphazard and caricatured their understanding of the scientific process is. Some of the conspiracy theories I have heard -- unforgivably encouraged by things like the Wegman report -- would make the Elders of Zion blush.

The problem is much bigger than anthropogenic global warming. It's about the status and functioning of science within society, and citizens' understanding of it. People must learn, as scientists have done the hard way over time, that the Goddess of Truth is a harsh one to those ignoring Her, blowing up Space Shuttles in mid-air and killing your soldiers in far-away lands in endless, hopeless wars. And learn this lesson rather before mankind as a whole learns it the hard way.

:wq

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:

Anonymous said: "A classic example of this is those who read Wegman and do not see, or pretend not to see, that it vindicates Mann on every single point. Not of course that it matters, its a trivial point of ancient history. But still, only mental illness or duplicity can explain this."

THose whoe read Wegman and read the Conmmittee hearing transcript will see that Mann's work was completely discredited, and that was accepted by both parties.

Read the transcript, it is an eye opener. The Democrats (Communistic fellow travellers)) were only concerned with protecting Gore, they had nothing to say about the science.

The above mentioned propagandist are relying on you not actually reading the original document. Take the time, Then you will see the light.

Shame a lot of you7 will have to change your worldview. Poor old Dnno. All that effort and deceit put into the wrong side of the argument. All those dead people....

bi -- Intl. J. Inact. said...

Anon 11:51pm and MarkeyMouse prove Anon 3:12am's point -- namely that inactivists like to portray AGW as if it's some sort of political party. That there's an "AGW is a Crisis Party", an "AGW is not a Crisis Party", and maybe an "AGW is Sort of a Crisis Party".

Of course, climate science doesn't work that way.

bi -- Intl. J. Inact. said...

And while I'm talking about inactivists' (in)activism: Steve Milloy has a plan.

Anonymous said...

"People must learn, as scientists have done the hard way over time, that the Goddess of Truth is a harsh one to those ignoring Her... And learn this lesson rather before mankind as a whole learns it the hard way."

Unfortunately, religion and ideology were invented precisely to obviate the need to learn.

Watch any TV evangelist. They are always talking about how "God forgives you for your sins, no matter what you do." That's precisely what allows people to ignore reality with no qualms.

Given that religion (or its sister "ideology") is not likely to go away any time soon -- and that there are so many DIFFERENT religions -- there is not much hope that people will rise to this occasion or any other that requires humans to work together to achieve long term goals.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:51 PM: you misrepresent the pro-science position on the Wegman report. It accepts that it contains several points of serious criticism against Mann et al., none of them valid; and considers it a non-peer-reviewed political hack job.

Apart from that, your dramatized illustration of what I meant by "conspiracy theory" is well written and representative of a broad class of real-life such theories out there. "The Party" is a well chosen literary device. And right before my comment! Such luck only happens in movies :-) Thanks!

:wq

Dano said...

Dano: "The question is: is the number of these stragglers large enough to warrant action, or is their number sufficiently small that ignorage is appropriate, and society continues to move on?"

The number is 88% among Republicans.

Republicans have a lot of influence in America and Americans have a lot of influence in the world. Both may be in decline, but I think we need to understand how 88% of any major demographic comes to an incorrect conclusion. Even if we get out of this situation with our skins intact, the existence of such powerful propaganda techniques is not something to shrug off lightly.


As I've stated before, Michael, the Dano character was created/arose/appeared to run this stuff down, to find who is spreading FUD, and for other reasons, why and how it works.

Nonetheless, it is not surprising that a large fraction of a society is more concerned with their immediate personal/family issues than with societal issues. This is how it works. For many, until there are clear signals that an issue affects someone directly and personally, they won't act or plan.

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:

"the pro-science position on the Wegman report. It accepts that it contains several points of serious criticism against Mann et al., none of them valid; and considers it a non-peer-reviewed political hack job."

Your arrogance is preposterous:

Edward Wegman, chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics

Anonymous said...

MalarkeyMouse:

You are obsessing over something that means nothing in the grand scheme of things -- ie, with regard to the reality of global warming.

My suggestion is this: Let go of your ideologically-driven hatred of Mann and the Democrats (-ogogues?) and "move on", as Wegman himself suggested we all do in his report:

"We do agree with Dr. Mann on one key point: that MBH98/99 were not the only evidence of global warming. As we said in our report, “In a real sense the paleoclimate results of MBH98/99 are essentially irrelevant to the consensus on climate change. The instrumented temperature record since 1850 clearly indicates an increase in temperature.” We certainly agree that modern global warming is real. We have never disputed this point. We think it is time to put the
‘hockey stick’ controversy behind us and move on."

TimC said...

Not much that I can say, really, but given the fact that people have made comparisons of "global warming skepticism" to creationism which I believe are rather apt, I thought some might find the following two essays of interest...

New Lenny Flank Essay at Talk Reason
By Timothy Chase
http://www.talkreason.org/articles/newflank.cfm

Religion and Science
By Timothy Chase, BCSE member
http://bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/ForClergy/ReligionAndScience

Some might not agree with all the setiments, particularly in the latter (although I am rather fond of it myself), but perhaps think there are occasional flashes insight nevertheless. At this point, this is what I have to offer, and beyond this I feel at a loss.

Dano said...

So, back OT.

Walt has a good point IMHO above, as I pointed out. The issue is whether this fraction of the population should have more energy expended upon them to convince them of something they don't want to believe.

Michael says their numbers are large and implies that we should continue to engage, if only to figger out how it's done (a la Schellenberger and Nordhaus in Death of Environmentalism).

So? Ignorage, ridicule, engagement, what?

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

Whenever i see a claim that such a high percentage (88%) of a group believes something (anything), i am more than a little skeptical.

I think you have to be very careful about claims of "88% of this group believing X".

What does "only 12% or republicans believe dealing with climate change should be a top priority" actually mean?

Does that mean that percentage believe nothing should be done?

That dealing with climate change ranks below economic issues? (not surprising)

What?

John McCain believes that the issue is serious (or at least says as much) and i find it very difficult to believe that such a high percentage of Republicans simply believe AGW is total bunk.

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse quotes from Wegman presentation. (Please note this is NOT the full report which can be found on http://www.climateaudit.org/pdf/others/07142006_Wegman_Report.pdf. Please read the Executive Summary)

"To illustrate that this spurious decentering effect is not limited to just hockey sticks we created an additional illustration based on the IPCC 1990 temperature curve. With 69 uncorrelated white noise proxies and one IPCC 1990 curve, it is clear that decentering can overwhelm the remaining proxies and preferentially select the one anomalous one."

"Figure 6 is also a repeat graphic from my previous testimony. Please note that the Bristlecone/Foxtail PC1 proxy is used not only in MBH, but also in virtually every subsequent reconstruction. We do not claim to be experts in dendrology, but it seems to us as outsiders that there are sufficient confounding factors that proxies based on Bristlecones should be avoided. We should add that we were specifically asked to resolve the differences between MBH 98/99 and MM03/05a/05b. There is a bewildering array of subsequent work that we were not asked to consider, but which probably deserves much more intense scrutiny. We would include such refereed papers as Rutherford et al. (2005) and Wahl and Ammann (2006), which are purported to be written by independent teams, but which are co-authored by Dr. Mann himself in Rutherford et al. and by Dr. Mann’s student Dr. Ammann in Wahl and Ammann."

Decoded. All the output from the Hockey Team is garbage.

bi -- Intl. J. Inact. said...

OK, so a strawman sockpuppet brings out Wegman as a talking point, and than a troll "debunks" this strawman sockpuppet. Wow, this is more entertaining Punch and Judy.

I guess that means we can move on to "ignorage" and "ridicule".

-- bi, International Journal of Inactivism

Dano said...

Shorter anon 12.07am:

If I scrunch my eyes closed and wish real hard, I can believe anything!!!!! *heart!*

Lad, your mommy's calling you. You didn't make your bed again.

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

You mean that great scientist Al Gore didn't convince them? He did get the Nobel Prize and all. Show them the pictures of the melting snow and a talking polar bear movie and they will come around.

Gee, let me think why on Earth could it be hard to convince people that GW is a fact and not opinion. Hmmm, I don't know but we could just mock them.
Why don't you just give them an F? That will teach them to question your authority. You are, after-all, a current affairs teacher and GW is a proven fact.

You should dig more into their background (look for Big Oil connections) and out-them in front of the whole class.

Its those quiet ones that are the ones to watch out for. It's usually a sign of Nazi tendancies.

Anyhow, thanks to Eli for uniting us to defeat these rotten eggs. You know what they say about rotten eggs - one can spoil the whole bunch.

Anonymous said...

Annoynimous

One rotten egg cannot spoil the whole bunch unless you are talking about an egg of another type.

I believe a rotten apple can have that effect just as a troll can spoil a thread.

John McCormick

bi -- Intl. J. Inact. said...

Quick, MarkeyMouse, debunk the strawman sockpuppet Anon 9:36am! Enlighten us with your scientific Punch and Judy show!

Become a modern-day Galileo with the help of the super-duper strawman sockpuppet!

Anonymous said...

Here is my own Hall of Fame. People who have convinced me by the tone of their postings or in the case of Gore, movies, that AGW must be false and mainly the product of hysteria.

1) Dano
2) Marion Delgado
3) Eli himeself
4) Tamino
5) Hank Roberts
6) Barton Paul Levinson
7) Al Gore

I want to publicly thank all these good people, without whom I would never have read Monckton, IceCap, CA, Watts Up, Pielke and so on.

Keep up the good work guys. You are making converts daily, just not in the direction you think you are.

bi -- Intl. J. Inact. said...

Looks like MarkeyMouse, Walt Bennett, papertiger et al. ran out of names for their sock puppets.

Poor inactivists, doing everything in their power to do nothing.

Anonymous said...

"Here is my own Hall of Fame. People who have convinced me by the tone of their postings or in the case of Gore, movies, that AGW must be false and mainly the product of hysteria."

There you have it. No need to look at any data when one can evaluate a scientific argument from the "tone" of the person making it.

Kinda makes you wonder about the 'tone" used by Alexander Graham Bell when he told his assistant: "Mr. Watson--come here".

Could these comments be any goofier?

Lazar said...

Anon 11:36 PM is right, read the survey not the fossil spin demonizing Republicans/conservatives.

Question: "I’d like to ask you some questions about priorities for President Bush and Congress this year. As I read from a list, tell me if you think the item that I read should be a top priority, important but lower priority, not too important or should it not be done?"

No percentage is given for Republicans opting "important but lower priority".
But 73% of all surveyed ranked "dealing with global warming" a "top" or "important" priority.
24% of all surveyed are self-described "Republican", 33% "Democrat", 37% "Independent".
The primaries are over, the 73% figure matters. The independents matter. Trust actions over surveys. The "base" selected John McCain who has acted on "global warming" and political money influence. Watching the fundies froth is a good indicator of how serious McCain is. All their base belong to us...
Don't worry, be happy.

Marion Delgado said...

bi -intl 9:33 am

It's a trick question!

I looked it up and Walt Bennett is actually the last string in my killfile.

Anonymous said...

Walt Bennett is not a concern troll.

But, based on a read of his comments on Real Climate, he does seem to be under the impression that he knows more than just about everyone when it comes to what will not work to address the global warming issue: emissions cuts.

If only we were all "Real Skeptics" like Walt.

bi -- Intl. J. Inact. said...

/me ignores another incoherent inactivist rant

* * *

Marion Delgado:

"It's a trick question!
"I looked it up and Walt Bennett is actually the last string in my killfile."

Well, good for you. :)

Anonymous said...

" [...] the pro-science position on the Wegman report. It accepts that it contains several points of serious criticism against Mann et al., none of them valid; and considers it a non-peer-reviewed political hack job."

> Your arrogance is preposterous:
>
> Edward Wegman, chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics

Evidence, not authority.

:wq