Saturday, April 09, 2011

Beyond Denial


Now it's not that Eli thinks denialist is a bad description, or that he has much use for the crocodile tears pouring down some cherub like cheeks, but as some put it (thanks Bart), it pays to listen to what your opponents are talking about.

Truth is that the Watt's Up With That, Climate Audit, Judith Curry crowd are not denialists, they are rejectionists, and this extends, as Ethon will show, to the Roger P Jr. and Sr., Shellenberger, Tol and Lucia bunch with able assistance from the Heartland, GMI, Fred Singers and beyond.

Frequently, actually most often, the rejection of climate science emerges from political views. It takes a certain maturity to decouple belief from observation, the kind of maturity that a Kerry Emmanuel has, and maybe to an extent Richard Muller (jury is out on the latter).

It's not that these other folks don't believe science, they reject science, sometimes with lip service, sometimes hillariously. We only have to look at the Gerlichs, the Chillingers, the Manuels and more for the funny page side, but even folk who should know better fall into the trap of rejectionism. And, of course, we have the rejectionist for the sake of controversy which sells papers crowd, the Kloors and their pals. In the coming days Eli will be discussing the three sure signs of a rejectionist argument and how to get beyond it.

Added: Denial is passive, rejection is active. Willard would appreciate the difference.

Oh yeah, maybe some science. The Bunny may have a nasty puzzler.


rumleyfips said...

Why don't you tell us what you really think?

Flopsy, Mopsey and Peter

EliRabett said...

As Jack Nicholson said. . .

guthrie said...

I don't see any functional difference between the terms. Denying the science is the same as rejecting it in the end.
Man who has just fallen off a cliff:
"I reject the laws of gravity, see, I am flying"
His friend who fell with him:
"I deny that the law of gravity has any effect on me, see, I am flying."

I thought that Tol at least accepted with the science, but disagrees entirely with the economics.

EliRabett said...

Denial is passive, rejection is active. Have to update

Rattus Norvegicus said...

I like the new term. They can't equate it to the holocaust deniers so as a rhetorical frame it works very well. Spread the meme.

Joel said...

The drawing of the COBE results is from xkcd:

I'm still thinking about the rejection/denial distinction.

Anonymous said...

It's just a matter of deep time before WUWT discovers the COBE data and declares the cosmic ray reinforced microwave background the true cause of radiative forcing.

2risk said...

In the spirit of blog-pimping I just put up a long post on denial catalysed by a discussion at Greenhouse 2011, the Australian Greenhouse conference. Then came here and saw this post. In that order - honest. I distinguish between defensive and offensive denial, the latter roughly equivalent to Eli's rejection.

Hypothesis and philosphy wonks will also like Roush's discussion on optimism about negative induction:

Anonymous said...


"Dear John,

I've met another meme. His name is Reg. He isn't as strong or as robust or as logical as you, but he tells me what I want to hear and he spoils me and he throws so much money at me that I couldn't resist.

I hope that you understand. It's not you, it's me.



"Dear Jane.

Yes, I know that it's you and not me. I'm logical and rational, remember?

Personally, if you want to get about with that guy, fine. You always were a one for here and now, and for the easy way out.

I just hope that you can look your kids in the eye when the time comes to explain it to them.


(Bernard J. Hyphen-Anonymous XVII)

Russell said...


The last time WUWT rejected anything of use in downplaying warming was when Watts discovered that the author of the Iron Sun hypothesis had been arrested for child molestation.

If 20-20's prime-time tape of Fred Singer shouting : "They're wrong!, They're wrong" at the NAS and IPCC report authors doesn't register as denial, what does ?

seamus said...

Total right on. I like it.

If sure signs can be spelled out, that would be helpful. This bunny tends to rely on a sensitive nose for BS. A vague feeling that makes the whiskers tingle.

willard said...

> Denial is passive, rejection is active. Willard would appreciate the difference.

He certainly would. Rejection is active but still can be agressive. 'Rejection' can be used more naturally to describe more than to label, 'rejectionist' being too ugly. And rejection is not a river in Egypt.

But what about Colorado?

An Internetz to 2risk for the Roush article.

Adam said...

I dunno, Eli: it seems a distinction without a difference to this wascally wabbit. In the great sea of bullshittery in which Watts, McIntyre and Morano swim, the e. coli level is the same, no matter what you call it.

-Adam R.

J Bowers said...

Skeptics in the Pub use the term for vaccine science, encompassing Crank Disorder, Handley Disorder, Evidence Disintegrative Disorder and Jay’s Disorder: Vaccine Rejectionism Disorder (VRD)

Climate Change Rejectionism Disorder - CCRuD for short? CCRuDites?

Anonymous said...

"It's just a matter of deep time before WUWT discovers the COBE data and declares the cosmic ray reinforced microwave background the true cause of radiative forcing."

No, WUWT is going to start claiming that as the universe expands and the microwave background radiation redshifts and cools, it will cause the Earth to enter a new ice age -- so we need to burn as much carbon as possible to warm the Earth back up.

Roger Romney-Hughes said...

If rejection is active and denial is passive, it would follow that a rejector has explicitly acknowledged what s/he is rejecting and has reasons (however fallacious) for doing so; whereas a denier might simply refuse to admit the existence of the phenomenon or theory being denied or that it might somehow impinge on his or her world view. The difference is equivalent to Frankfurt's distinction of lies from bullshit.

We therefore conclude that while there are certainly Rejectionists (e.g. Lindzen, Spencer), there are far more Deniers (e.g. Singer, almost every Republican congressman). Although we will allow that extreme cases of scientific and philosophical confusion sometimes make it difficult to spot who's who (e.g. Curry).

Anonymous said...

Jeez guys, is this how we spend our time now? Thinking up new and better names to belittle the folks on the other side of the fence?
Name calling does less than nothing to advance the AGW agenda, in fact it detracts from it in the eyes of people still sitting on the fence.

p.s. Fwiw, it was some whacko from the warmist side of things that first compered 'deniers' to Holocaust non-believers.

Richard said...


I do not reject the .8C of warming that has occurred since 1850.

I do not reject the future warming of around 1C (no feedback).

I do dispute the accuracy of the projected additional feedback warming.

I see the temperature around 1.2C warmer at 2100, based on current trend.

Am I a rejectionist?

EliRabett said...

Yes unless you can get the forcing fairy to do magical things about water vapor pressure.