Saturday, October 24, 2015

Return of the Red Queen

What is now many years ago, Eli pointed out the intellectual inconsistencies of science deniers, climate science division. Denialism in all its flavors is reduced to throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping that something sticks which leads to claiming every one of a set of mutually contradictory nonsenses all correct.

Stephan Lewandowsky has caught up with the Bunny in a post on Open Democracy

Science strives for coherence. People who are threatened by climate change science cannot provide an alternative view that is coherent by the standards of conventional scientific thinking.
and Stephan has a nice list, one side of the climate change denialist brain arguing with the other
  • Extreme events cannot be attributed to global warming but snowfall disproves global warming. 
  • Greenland was green but Greenland ice sheets cannot collapse.
  • The climate cannot be predicted but we are heading into an ice age. 
  • Greenhouse effect has been falsified but water vapour is the most powerful greenhouse gas. 
  • Global warming theory is not falsifiable but it has been falsified.
  • My country should not cut emissions first but global warming is natural.
  • China needs to cut emissions but global warming is unstoppable.

But, of course, climate is not the only butterfly flitting about.  The US recently had an interesting example, with Republicans trying to tie one on to Hillary Clinton.  Kurt Eichenwald in Newsweek takes this apart, much as a lepidopterist examining a moth eaten and pitiful specimen.

Eichenwald sees the same inconsistency, nay, not inconsistency, but incontinence, the inability to hold two mutually contradictory thoughts without blurting them out in an embarrassing way (this is a family blog)
No one ordered military assets to move, but Clinton gave an order to stand down. Of course, military assets were moved, but they were unable to get any further than Italy before the Benghazi attack was complete.
and of course, the journalists are all to happy to act as enablers
No matter. A new bogus script had been written and was trumpeted by the press. The Benghazi committee had discovered a deep, dark secret. In the eyes of Republicans, the review board’s findings could be dismissed out of hand as corrupt. 
Other false stories repeatedly found their way into the press. There was the “criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton” article that appeared in The New York Times; once the story was knocked down, the Times sheepishly acknowledged its sources included officials from Congress. (The “Clinton is under criminal investigation” story has continued; she’s not.) The Daily Beast falsely reported that Blumenthal testified he was in Libya on the day of the Benghazi attack. 
Denial is dangerous.  Denial of climate change, denial of what happened in Benghazi,
In their refusal to read documents or accept facts over fantasies, Republican conspiracy theorists have damaged this country in ways that cannot yet be fully comprehended. No doubt, the terrorists set on attacking America are cheering them on. Nothing could delight some terrorist sitting in a Syrian or Libyan or Iraqi hovel while hearing a top Republican congressman brag on television that a relatively small attack on a U.S.compound continues to threaten to transform a presidential election in the most powerful country in the world. 
Ambassador Stevens and the three other men who died on that terrible day in Benghazi are not shiny objects to be dangled for political entertainment. They are American heroes. Serve their memories: Disband this inexcusable Benghazi committee, throw out the buttons and bumper stickers and fundraising letters. Allow the dead to finally rest in peace.
and denial that AIDS is caused by the HIV virus.  Yesterday, at Gizmodo, Charlie Jane Anders counts the bodies.
AIDS was a terrifying mystery, and then we solved it. When researchers identified the human immunodeficiency virus as the reason why young, previously healthy people were developing rare cancers and wasting away, it was a triumph of medical science.
Thanks to a ton of money for research, many talented people and a pre-existing base of knowledge on viruses and pharmaceuticals we went from pre-normal science where facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent to normal science, where stakes are high, facts are known and urgently needed decisions can be guided by facts.  Of course, the values thing gets in the way and the body count grows as the deniers are hammered down, not that the dead get any satisfaction from that.
But even as the medical community reached a consensus that HIV caused AIDS, a counter-movement was emerging, claiming that HIV didn’t exist, or that the virus existed but was harmless. The symptoms of AIDS, according to some of these people, were actually caused by HIV therapies themselves. To this day, some people continue to believe that HIV is a hoax.
In the western world, denial only killed a limited number.  Elsewhere, many more
In the United States, the HIV denial movement led individual patients to reject medication until it was too late. In South Africa, denialists managed to win influence with the country’s president, Thabo Mbeki, and his public-health policies led to an estimated 330,000 deaths that would otherwise have been preventable. Elsewhere, we may never fully know how much impact HIV denialism had — but conversations with more than a dozen HIV activists, educators, doctors, and former denialists, suggest that the denialists significantly hindered efforts at educating people about HIV and how to protect themselves.
Go read the entire article, but these sentences are telling
Strangis felt attracted to the HIV denialists, because he already believed in a number of other conspiracy theories and “it was quite simple for me to assimilate this new information into my belief system.” Adds Strangis, “as a person living with HIV, the possibility that HIV was a lie was quite reassuring.” 
A lot of Strangis’ fellow denialists, he said, believed other bizarre theories, like the idea that “the International Space Station is a hoax and doesn’t exist.” 
In fact, HIV denialists often have the same characteristics as other conspiracy theorists, like climate change sceptics, Kalichman said. “There’s always a rogue scientist, who has credentials but has lost credibility,” he said. There’s also always some powerful organisation — either the government, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations, or Big Pharma — that’s “trying to cover up the truth.”
One of the (now taking drugs) former denialists put it simply
“We weren’t denialists,” Kovacev said of his fellow activists at the time. “We just didn’t fucking trust anybody.”
Reinforcing the strength of John Cook's emphasis on consensus messaging and why many who deny that climate change is a problem do so.  These are Donald Trump's people.

A difference, well there is a difference
“All their ideas are arguable nonsense,” said Carter of the denialists. This is, Carter said, “sadly proven by every HIV-positive denialist with whom I had these arguments, dying of AIDS.”
To which Eli sadly says, wait if nothing is done.


Tenney Naumer said...

Very well put.

angech said...

SL "considers a sample of incoherent positions in detail. In allegiance to Lewis Carroll’s White Queen, who believes six impossible and contradictory things before breakfast, He refers to those states as “Alice through the Looking Glass” states."

He states as an ultimate example

"• It is a socialist plot but Nazis invented global warming."


"It is notable that although contrarians readily claim that the Earth will be cooling in the future, most are unwilling to bet on their stated position."

As Stefan so eloquently puts it, Goodwin done it. He wins the psychological argument, there and then and slam dunks it with the invincible scientific argument of all bets are off.

The rabbet is in excellent company with arguments and examples like this.

Fernando Leanme said...

That post was too long. I couldn't even figure out what the point was supposed to be for sure. Something about deniers lacking any scientific backing?

angech said...

Return of the Red Queen indeed.
If Eli was at all up to date he would know that this is a reference to the computer system that is fighting the Umbrella Corporation in one of those zombie movies.
You know the ones where denialist zombies become unstoppable until Stephan [right spelling this time yeah] links in with Alice and overcomes the Godwin's [right spelling again], using his unstoppable betting slips to overpower the evil conspiracy.
How they are related
Lewis Carrol Fantasy Author
C S Lewis Fantasy Author
S Lewindowsky Author

Anonymous said...

I suppose it was inevitable that with any article written by Dr. Lewandowsky, that the AGW denier clown car would rush straight over and dump Geoff Chambers and Barry Woods into the comments. Rog Tallbloke seems to be holding up the side well too, managing to seem dumber than Chambers and Woods combined. Loved "The oceans can't get below pH7 until the Earth runs out of rocks." straw man. Does he even know the scale is logarithmic?

As usual, every time Dr. Lewandowsky writes something that shines a bright light under the climate change conspiracy theorists' rock, they show up in droves to help prove the very point he just made. Pure comedy gold, except the time to undertake a serious transition from fossil fuels to renewables is long overdue.

Anonymous said...

Fernando, ferchrissake, you've written comments longer than that. Are you seriously telling us that you don't have the attention span to read 70 lines?

Or is it Lewandowsky's 2 pages--including pictures.


Unknown said...


Here is "Global Warming invented by the Nazis"

And the "it is all a socialist plot" articles appear weekly, monthly? Here is one of the latest.

And it is Godwin, not Goodwin.

Anonymous said...

Godwin must have been a brilliant scientist, no?

That's right up there with general relativity.

John said...

For his own credibility, that I dislike seeing self-undermined, I'd suggest Mr Lewandowsky substitute "spherical" for "round" in his otherwise puzzling statement "the Earth cannot both be round and flat."

As to internal contradiction, I fail to see how deniers are both unwilling to bet and that their exists valid data to claim "that bets against greenhouse warming are largely hopeless now."

John Puma

Anonymous said...

Very good article.

Hank Roberts said...

> carcosa
Botspammer strikes.

And speaking of bots and spammers, dang, nobody's perfect:

Anonymous said...

@Hank....Nope not a bot spammer, my wordpress site is not solely about AGW, but has a chunk of posts on the subject.