Category Archives: Climate change sceptics

The 97%: when told scientists accept climate change, the public “gets the science is settled”

Welcome back readers!

I’ll be leading with an interesting article republished from The Conversation this week which discusses a recent paper in Nature Climate Change, and which in many respects goes right to the heart of the issue: how the denial movement has sought to mislead the public on the scientific consensus.

As many of you understand the vast majority scientists and all reputable scientific academies and associations accept the reality climate change.

This is problematical for climate sceptics as one of their key strategies is to push the myth – and it is just that – that no such consensus exists (see recent WtD article Here we go again: Watts up with that pushes the no consensus myth).

Indeed, the infamous Luntz Memo (see in WtD evidence library) written by an advisor to the George W. Bush administration made this one of the key strategies in fostering doubt:

The scientific debate remains open: Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming with the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field.

The recent paper in Nature by Stephan Lewandowsky,Gilles E. Gignac and Samuel Vaughan titled The pivotal role of perceived scientific consensus in acceptance of science clearly demonstrates how this long running campaign to discredit the science can be defeated.

When told a scientific consensus exists, and that it is on the order of 97% of climate scientists, the vast majority of the public accept the science. As the article abstract notes:

Although most experts agree that CO2 emissions are causing anthropogenic global warming (AGW), public concern has been declining. One reason for this decline is the ‘manufacture of doubt’ by political and vested interests, which often challenge the existence of the scientific consensus. The role of perceived consensus in shaping public opinion is therefore of considerable interest: in particular, it is unknown whether consensus determines people’s beliefs causally. It is also unclear whether perception of consensus can override people’s ‘worldviews’, which are known to foster rejection of AGW. Study 1 shows that acceptance of several scientific propositions—from HIV/AIDS to AGW—is captured by a common factor that is correlated with another factor that captures perceived scientific consensus. Study 2 reveals a causal role of perceived consensus by showing that acceptance of AGW increases when consensus is highlighted. Consensus information also neutralizes the effect of worldview.

The last sentence is revealing: acceptance of the science “neutralizes the effect of worldview”.

Yes, even the most right-wing conservative free market fundamentalist can come to terms with the science. Those that don’t remain the committed to their scepticism” are mostly the conspiracy theorists and idealogues.

Scientific consensus shifts public opinion on climate change

By Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation

People are more likely to believe that humans cause global warming if they are told that 97% of publishing climate scientists agree that it does, a new study has found.

Despite overwhelming evidence showing that human activity is causing the planet to overheat, public concern is on the wane, said the study, titled The pivotal role of perceived scientific consensus in acceptance of science and published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday.

“One reason for this decline is the ‘manufacture of doubt’ by political and vested interests, which often challenge the existence of the scientific consensus. The role of perceived consensus in shaping public opinion is therefore of considerable interest,” the study’s authors said.

Overall, participants in the study greatly underestimated the level of scientific agreement on the issue, the study said.

Lead researcher Stephan Lewandowsky from the Cognitive Science Laboratories at the University of Western Australia said the study involved two surveys.

In the first, 200 Perth pedestrians were asked about their views on the scientific research linking human CO2 emissions to climate change as well as their thoughts on medical research linking smoking to lung cancer and HIV to AIDS.

The results showed that people who had faith in scientific or medical research in general were more likely to accept expert opinion on climate change.

“So some people just accept science as an endeavour and it doesn’t matter whether is the science is about climate or something else,” said Prof Lewandowsky.

The second study involved surveying 100 Perth pedestrians — half in a control group and half in a ‘consensus group’.

The control group was asked about their views on the causes of climate change but the consensus group, however, was first told that 97% of publishing climate scientists agree that global warming is a direct consequence of the burning of fossil fuels by humans.

People in the consensus group were much more likely to say that human activity caused climate change, even if their political views were otherwise broadly in line with free market ideologies that eschew the government regulation required to curb emissions.

“So providing the consensus information is boosting acceptance, particularly for those people who would otherwise reject the evidence based on their world view,” said Prof Lewandowsky.

“Telling them about this numeric fact about agreement in the scientific community does make a difference. That’s quite remarkable because few things work.”

Other studies have shown that presenting evidence alone does little to change minds and can even lead to people becoming more entrenched in their disbelief of human-caused climate change, he said.

The study showed it was important for scientific communicators and journalists to tell their audience that the vast majority of climate change experts believe that human activity is causing global warming.

“It is reaching even those people who would normally tune out when you tell them the evidence,” Prof Lewandowsky said, adding that journalists should not give denialists and climate change experts equal air time.

“The media is being irresponsible if they are pretending there is a scientific debate in light of this consensus.”

Will J Grant from the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at the Australian National University said it was an interesting and useful study.

“We can say people are convinced by the consensus but the big caveat is sceptics and climate change sceptics in particular are never going to be convinced by this,” he said. “They will say science doesn’t work by vote, it’s about facts.”

“Realistically, though, most of those sceptics are of an older generation. We are never going to convince them but they will be disappearing from the political discourse soon.”

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

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The coming assault on AR5: get ready for the next war on the IPCC in 2013

Via the Sydney Morning Herald:

The Australian government has begun its review of the latest draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, pledging ‘‘an open and comprehensive approach’’ as it taps selected input.

The review will draw on comments from experts, state and territory governments, industry groups and research organisation, the government said in a statement. “IPCC Assessment Reports are a vital reference and evidence base for policy considerations on climate change by governments around the world,” Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet said.

The review will run to the end of November and involves a ‘‘second-order draft’’ of one of the three working group reports, examining the physical aspects of the climate system and the changes under way.

These include observations of changes in air, land and ocean temperatures, rainfall, glaciers and ice sheets, and sea level, as well as evaluations of climate models and projections of future conditions.

The first working group’s report is due for public release in September 2013. Draft IPCC reports are typically not made public, with the review process intended to test the data and analysis, and identify any errors.

So what can we expect from the sceptic movement?

Time for some predictions!

Coming soon to a climate sceptic blog: conspiracy theories and cherry picked facts*

As we get closer to the release of the next Assessment Report (AR5) we can look forward to renewed attacks on:

  • the integrity of the IPCC
  • those associated with the IPCC
  • the integrity of individual scientists and scientific institutions
  • the idea of a scientific consensus on climate change.

We will no doubt see the deployment of the following tactics:

  • dragging out all the old complaints about AR4
  • sceptics hunting for anomalies and small errors in the report
  • mutterings about global conspiracies and scientists fabricating data
  • counter-conferences and publications that present a “counter-consensus”
  • climate sceptic bloggers working themselves up into frequent episodes of rage.

Since the publication of the last IPCC synthesis report  (AR4) the science has become even more settled. Thus in that context it will be interesting to see how the sceptic movement responds to both the report and media coverage.

Will the media allow the sceptics to frame the debate again?

How much the mainstream media will pander to the sceptics and repeat their accusations remains to be seen.

Increasingly we are seeing their views getting less and less airtime in the mainstream press. 

It now seems parts of the maintream media are a) bored with the messages of the sceptic movement and b) has twigged to the fact the sceptics are in the business of manufacturing faux scandals and outrage.

“Another typo in the IPCC report? Gosh, how clever of you Mr Climate Sceptic (yawn).”

2013 sceptic response: expect the spectrum of outright denial to luke-warmism

So what to expect? 

Parts of the News Corporation will pick up sceptic talking points and quote all the usual climate sceptic suspects on Fox News, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and other parts of Murdoch’s empire.   

More respectable outlets such as the WSJ may change their tone from outright denial to a form of luke-warmism: “Sure the climate is changing, but it will be fine – or we will adapt – so no need to change!”

The Australian will strive for its usual balanced approach (i.e. war on science) of trotting out professors that have gone emeritus and surrender occasional column space to cranks like David Evans and Joanne Nova.

Lets hope those two start talking about the Rothschild’s and the climate scam on the pages of The Oz.

Andrew Bolt will speak approvingly of cranks on both his show The Bolt Report and on his blog.

Fox News will continue to offer fair and balanced commentary by getting the science wrong and promoting outright falsehoods.

Climate sceptic blogs will run amok with the usual dross – getting especially shrill both prior to and after the release of AR5.

I anticipate Anthony Watts will release another special pre-peer reviewed analysis of temperature data in the later half of 2013 to counter the work of the IPCC (lulz).

Reader predictions welcome

So readers, what are your predictions for the sceptic response?

As we get closer to the release of the first draft I’ll start pointing tactics and sceptic responses.

But to be frank, I think we can condidently predict the sceptic response.


* In other words, nothing will change.

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Polling of 13,500 people show most believe climate change is happening; USA remains the “sceptics” heartland

An interesting poll via the Telegraph:

An online poll of 13,500 adults in 13 countries found that most people believe that climate change is happening. 

The figures ranged from 98 percent in Mexico and Hong Kong and 97 percent in Indonesia to 80 percent in Belgium and 72 percent in the United States.

Rising average temperatures, drought and extreme rainfall were the phenomena that people most cited.

However countries had a much more variable opinion over whether whether it is mankind causing global warming. 

Asked whether human activity was mainly responsible for climate change, 94 percent of citizens in Hong Kong agreed, followed by 93 percent in Indonesia, 92 percent in Mexico and 87 percent in Germany.

The United States remains the “heartland” of climate scepticism: this may lend support to the idea that denial is a product of right-wing popularism. Thus it is strongest where the culture war is being waged and think tanks, conservative politicians and fundamentalist Christians are most actively opposed to the science and regulatory efforts:

Dissent was strongest in the United States, where 58 percent agreed with the question, in Britain (65 percent) and Japan (78 percent).

The survey was carried out from July 5 to August 6 by the opinion poll group Ipsos for the insurance firm Axa.

It was conducted in Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.

The results come as the climate change debate becomes more important to the US election. 

Campaign groups are threatening to target the vulnerable congressional seats of Republicans who dismiss the dangers of climate change. 

In the UK, trust in climate change science was damaged by the theft of emails from the University of East Anglia or so-called ‘climategate’. Sceptics claimed that the emails showed scientists were willing to exaggerate global warming – although later inquiries found the science remained sound.

In Japan global warming has been dismissed as nuclear industry propaganda. 

In comparison, developing countries, that are more likely to be hit by extreme weather events, are more likely to believe mankind is responsible for climate change.

The countries with strongest public support are those most likely to suffer the worst impacts.

Makes sense does it not?

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Climate sceptics versus the enemies within: conspiracy culture, right wing popularism and the art of counter-subversion (Part 1)

“Man-made climate change is a myth… I think all these issues have to be settled on the base of real science, not manufactured science” – Michelle Bachmann

I’m continuing my research in what is now a very clear association between parts of the climate sceptic movement and conspiracy culture.

For those interested in conspiracy culture I plan to regularly publish lists of those texts and papers I’ve read over the past few years – all of which will be added to the libraryThis will also help set the scene for what will no doubt be the focus of this blog from this point forward: conspiracy culture and the role of values in the climate change debate.

The following post refers you to some key scholarly texts, but also why I believe they are relevant to any attempted understanding of climate change scepticism. I’m also sketching out in broad terms some key concepts based on my reading of the academic literature. From this point much of the research, writing and work of this blog will flow from my reading and interacting with scholars on the above.

There is a lot to take in here: consider this a “primer” with subsequent posts and articles discussing these concepts in more detail.

With this in mind, let us enter the world of conspiracy culture and the fear of the coming New World Order and just how much it dominates the fears and nightmares of sceptics and conservatives…

Manufacturing a global crisis with climate change: the conspiracy culture and climate scepticism link

Where to begin your understanding of conspiracy culture and its relation to climate scepticism?

That was the challenge I faced several years ago as a novice blogger with some general assumptions about conspiracy culture and the drivers of conspiracy theorists.

Was it all simple paranoia?

Where these people somehow unwell?

Is this a new political phenomenon?

What I found was surprising – to me at least.

Conspiracy culture is more pervasive than one would image and has been shaping politics in surprising ways – more so than it is generally understood by those of us assuming people view the word in the same logical, Enlightenment model of the world employed by the scientists or the “rational” individual.

If the evidence is overwhelming, acceptance – or belief – should follow.


As it turns out reason is somewhat in short supply and conspiracy theories have been flourishing on the margins of politics and debate for decades and have now erupted into the mainstream.

Ideas once considered fringe have become been accepted by millions and by elites: indeed, nearly all GOP American presidential candidates have dismissed the science as not merely flawed, but “a myth” and hoax (see above).

This is conspiracy culture bursting into the mainstream and shaping the politics of a super power. 

As scholars of conspiracy culture have warned for decades now, such wide-scale adoption of conspiracy culture has the potential to distort the political process.

Indeed, the lamentable state of the climate change debate and the continuing rejection of the science by sections of the public and conservative political elites could possibly be traced to a growing acceptance of conspiracy theories and their currency in what is often called the “culture war”.

Thus the Michelle Bachmann’s and Sarah Palins of the world – the ultra-religious conservative American politicians both touted as possible Presidential candidates – noted for their rejection of climate change, evolution and embrace of free markets are not an aberration.

They are the products of a specific culture, part of which embraces and extols conspiracy theories and the rejection of certain forms of knowledge as the product of “satanic forces” that must be both refuted and countered.

Introductory and general texts

The following introductory texts are a good as place to start as any.

A culture of conspiracy: apocalyptic visions in contemporary America by Michael Barkun – Barkun provides a useful framework for understanding conspiracy culture: the different types of conspiracies; how conspiracy theorists are attracted to “stigmatized” knowledge”; and the strong association between right-wing popularism and “new world order” paranoia. Personally, this is my favoured text.

Enemies within: the culture of conspiracy within modern America by Robert Alan Goldberg – Another favourite text of mine, Goldberg’s text clearly demonstrates conspiracy culture is nothing new to American politics: indeed, the argument could be made that it has always been part of politics and not an aberration of the political process.

We tend to see the likes of the Tea Party, the hysterical paranoia of Glenn Beck, Birthers and Truthers as something new: the fact is every decade spawns a new class of conspiracy theorists in response to political and world events.

It was inevitable – indeed, it should have been foreseen – that conspiracy theorists would react to climate change and filter it through pre-existing conspiracy theories.

The following text provides context and the long history of conspiracy theories and how they have shaped politics:

Real enemies: conspiracy theories and American democracy, World War 1 to 9/11 by Kathryn Olmsted – This text really helped my understanding that every decade conspiracy theories are reborn and repurposed to soothe the anxieties of the time. Did you know that prior to World War 2 significant sections of the Republican Party believed President Roosevelt was a secret socialist who intended to establish a dictatorship by expanding the Federal government to such an extent it would control every aspect of the individual’s life?

Reading such works was illuminating, especially the parallels with conspiracy theories that have wide currency at the moment. Indeed, it was surprising to find that in the immediate aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor right-wing conservatives started theorising the President allowed the Japanese to attack as a pretext to usher in a fascist regime – a variation of the false flag theory.

Sound familiar?

The truth is out there: the role of the media and popular culture

Both the internet and popular culture have been critical in shaping conspiracy culture (and vice versa). This will be explored more fully but a good place to start is here:

Conspiracy theory in film, television and politics by Gordon B. Arnold – This is a terrific primer on how popular culture has influenced and shaped conspiracy culture. Starting with how Hollywood responded to the “reds under the bed” paranoia of the 1950s it traces the evolution of conspiracy themes in film and television until the early twenty-first century.

Arnold’s book makes a strong case for the idea that fringe conspiracy beliefs were “mainstreamed” by the media and made more palatable to a general audience. Perhaps we see this mainstreaming of “conspiracy ideation” manifesting itself in the large numbers of people who believe Obama was not born in the United States or 9/11 was an “inside job”.

We live in a culture in which new conspiracy theories are ripe for adoption by the public and even members of the political, media and business classes. But there is more to this than an overabundance of conspiracy theories wrapped up in entertaining movies and shows such as “The X-Files”.

We also need to consider the rise of right-wing popularism.

Strange bedfellows: the emergence of right-wing-popularism and its fusion with climate scepticism

The roots of the “culture war” can be seen in the rise of right-wing movements who have sought to wind back the role of government, implement “market solutions” and return society to “traditional values” – what I have tentatively been referring to as neo-fundamentalism (to distinguish it from neo-liberalism).

Thus understanding the emergence of what is referred to as right-wing popularism (RWP) and how this may have impacted the climate change debate is critical.

This broad-based “movement” was the product of the cold war paranoia about socialism and a reaction to globalisation, the civil, women’s and gay rights movements and the massive cultural and societal changes of the past decades. One can also see it the emergence of the “moral majority” and strident evangelical strain of religion in the US and other parts of the globe.

I’d recommend the following text that to help decode the messages and arguments (while tracing the history) of the radical right and the seemingly impossible contradictions of their arguments and world views:

Right-wing popularism in America: too close for comfort by Chip BerlotThis is a must read in any attempt to understand contemporary politics in America – from libertarians to fundamentalists, the rise of the right-wing is charted brilliantly.

Belort makes the argument – forcefully and correctly I believe – that for the past 60 years the extremist and radical fringe within the US (I would argue Australia to a lessor extent) has sought to capture the conservative movement while pushing their radical agenda of libertarian economics, social conservatism and religiosity.

As the issue of climate change “heated up”, a popularist and conservative reaction to the perceived regulatory and cultural changes also came into being.

The threat of more regulation, arguments for less consumption and the necessity of global agreements literally terrified the conservatives and those with a right-wing predisposition – it fuelled their fear of New World Orders, reds under the beds and wind farms as agents of disease.

More discussion on this to come… enjoy the those texts if you get a chance.

The next posts will explore conspiracy culture a little more and make the argument that climate sceptics see themselves as the “saviours” of science and traditional values, and are engaged in what one could call “counter-subversion” angainst “the enemy within”.

Climate change and evolution denial (guest post)

From the blog uknowispeaksense:

Not so long ago, the LNP state convention in Queensland put forward the proposal that climate change not be taught in Queensland schools. A ridiculous idea that thankfully hasn’t been implemented by the LNP parliamentarians….yet.

It’s an idea so rooted in the 1950′s mindset of the crusty old farts that run the conservative party in Queensland it would set education standards back 50 years. What next? ”Get out the slate boards and chalk kids, for Science today we’re going to discuss talking snakes and original sin.”? OTT?

Yep, maybe so, but not really as far-fetched as it sounds, at least in principle. Here is a very recent talk by Eugenie Scott from the NCSE in the US discussing some of the parallels between climate science denial and denial of evolution. It’s a long one, so settle in.

I’ve long argued there is a connection between evolution and climate change denial: indeed, they are the product of the same anti-Enlightenment forces of creationism and right-wing popularism.

There is a great deal of convergence and cross over between these two movements. Tim at New Anthropocene also picks this up on his piece on the conservative-Christian Cornwall Alliance.

Great video: watch and note the deep connections.

Conspiracy is not a dirty word

When the Galilee Movement recently named international banking cabals as the chief backers of so-called climate change ‘science’, a predictable brouhaha ensued on social media.

True believers of so-called climate change leapt on the statement as proof that deniers were simply conspiracy theory ‘nutters’, ranting on the fringes through their own online blogs.

But is this a true caricature? What do the groups themselves say?

Like most mainstream deniers, the Galilee Movement baulks at the ‘C’ word. A spokesman, Ptolemy Roberts, said: “Conspiracy? Look, people are waking up to this. That’s all the proof you need. You want to talk about universal truth? The only universal truth is what can be measured through blog traffic stats. Show me an angry, ageing mob and I’ll show you a group of people with stunning insight – and plenty of spare time to post anonymous blog comments.”

Australian climate denier blogger, Nova Cane (an alias) has lots, plenty, stacks, heaps and oodles to say on the issue of conspiracies:

“Banking cabals and global government is not a conspiracy theory. It’s not a conspiracy theory if it’s true.”

“People don’t really understand the difference between a regular conspiracy theory and a real theory. A real theory simply outlines the complex collusion that takes place across most of our public institutions.”

“It’s obvious that these collusions between bankers, so-called scientists, the mainstream media and the UN are long-standing and wide-ranging but are kept secret from the public.”

“They have carefully indoctrinated important individuals and used sect-like behaviour to maintain their secrecy. But to call that a conspiracy theory is just shooting the messenger.”

Nova Cane believes that the so-called scientific consensus is easy to explain without any need for a conspiracy theory: “Any fool can see that so-called climate scientists are on the payroll of the big banking families, who are in league with environmentalists and communists to destroy personal liberty, crush national sovereignty, and send us all back to the Stone Age.”

“If people want to read that as conspiratorial thinking, then clearly they have been brainwashed so badly that they can’t see what is all around them. And no, I don’t mean chemtrails, I am not a complete loony.”

“These are fake studies using fake data from fake academics using fake government money. Trust me: unless you can find an academic with no formal training in their chosen subject, being paid in gold bullion, then you should be really circumspect about what they are telling you. That’s just good ole common sense.”

Andrew “Angry” Anthill, owner of the blog Australian Sceptic Psychosis: Just Don’t Tell Me What I Don’t Want To Hear, also rejects any notion that climate deniers are conspiracy theorists. To explain the so-called mainstream so-called consensus on so-called climate change, he believes the truth is much less complex than your typical conspiracy theory.

“Life is a little like the opening and closing credits from the classic sitcom Get Smart,” says Anthill.

“It’s all about Gates – most of them secret. Modern climate change activism, across academia, government institutions and NGOs is no different. It’s one hidden door after another, and you need to be not only exceptionally clever but also to possess a very special esoteric insight to detect and navigate these Gates. They go up and down and through the society we live in.”

So far, he says, skeptics have uncovered only a few of the non-conspiratorial-but-organisationally-complex-and-hidden gate systems.

  • ClimateGate
  • MannGate
  • ArcticGate
  • HimalayaGate
  • ThermometerGate
  • GleickGate
  • LewGate
  • NiwaGate

But Anthill is so convinced that Freedom of Information (FOI) requests will eventually unlock the full enormity of this maze of gates – as detected by his sixth sense in the so-called climate change community – that he has vowed to pursue Australian academics “to their very last Outlook Mailbox sub-folder, if needs be”.

“Most institutions release so-called official statements, reports and data and expect us to believe all that stuff. My radar tells me that only by trawling through the personal correspondence of academics is the appalling truth likely to be found.

“Believe me, I would dearly love to trawl through personal correspondence – it’s amazing how meaning can be changed through the appropriate application of semantics. All one needs is a critical mass of words.”

Deniers with a penchant for FOI shrug off critics who dismiss their efforts as a frivolous waste of taxpayers’ money. As one prominent NGO campaigner, who did not want to be named, put it: “We’ll only truly know how much this has all cost when these guys FOI’s the institutions they have FOI’d to determine just how much public money is spent on their FOIs.”

Anthill, for one, is having none of that: “I am saving the Australian taxpayer millions of dollars, maybe even billions. If we nip the activities of these nefarious academics in the bud, then the downstream flow-on of avoiding their devious follies will be well worth it.”

Asked if avoiding future risk was a little like applying a precautionary principle to mitigate current practices that could otherwise lead to highly probable and dangerous consequences, Anthill replied: “I don’t know what any of those terms mean, in the context that you have just stated them. Without a truckload of your personal correspondence to read through, I really can’t construct my own meaning around what you have just said and put myself in a position to inform the world what you really meant.”

“To be on the safe side, I have decided to FOI all Australian academics for personal correspondence that mentions my name.

“You know, when I first started submitting FOI requests the feeling of power that came from it was almost instantaneous. I could literally see, in my mind’s eye, academics in their old tweed jackets reading them with trembling hands.

“But then, my trusty sixth sense came into play, and shadowy doubts started to creep in. I mean, what if they were simply being perfunctorily dealt with by so-called university administrators? Well, this FOI will get to the bottom of just how much they talk about me.”

But NGOs campaigners admit privately that they have their own weapons: “Obviously we haven’t read any emails from prominent climate deniers,”

says one who did not want to be named. “We would FOI them if we thought it would be worthwhile, but we simply can’t imagine that the few who actually are academics have anything more worthwhile to say in private than they do in public.

“Anyhow, who needs e-mails? Most of their junk is spewed out onto their own blogs and comment sections: our lawyers are actually amazed.

And all you need to do is WebCite it . . . our people have been very busy with that.”

Anatomy of motivated self-importance: too much of me just isn’t enough (guest post)

Too much of me just isn’t enough: an anatomy of motivated inflation of self-importance.

A controversial recent study has shown that prominent climate sceptics are six times more likely to show narcissistic characteristics than the rest of the community. The tendency is highest amongst those who maintain their own blogs, and especially those with blogs carrying their own names.

Said researcher, “At first I was blown away by this result…, I mean, when you get people responding to surveys and their collective answers are such strong outliers, you question whether you have made a mistake.”

But it seems that careful rechecking of the results has only confirmed the analysis.

“Those that run anti-science climate ‘sceptic’ blogs are simply much, much more into themselves than pretty much anyone else we have ever studied. And by ever, I mean in the entire literature up until this point”.

Respondents scored highly on metrics such as;

  1. How often they refer to themselves.
  2. How eager they were for others to share their high opinion of themselves.
  3. The high negative rating they gave to being personally ignored.

The results pretty much show that the need for ‘reinforcement of self’ is almost constant in this group; it is likely that they run their blogs as a self-validation exercise.

“Failure to have their ‘followers’ reinforce their sense of importance likely leads to an impotent rage. As psychologists, we can only say this seems unhealthy.”

But one blogger is incensed at the results and claims that they are not worth the paper they are written on. Australian blogger Nova Cane (an alias) believes the results are invalid because she wasn’t surveyed.

“How can any conclusion be drawn from a survey about climate sceptic bloggers being narcissistic when that survey does not take in me? It beggars belief that I could have been overlooked for this survey. Its clear what warmists are up to, they want to paint us as self-obsessed nutters, and they must underestimate our collective intelligence if they think we would fall for that trap”

The researchers themselves reveal that, while Nova was originally overlooked due to a simple oversight — “…ironically, we had never heard of her” — inspection of her blog provided reason for caution on her participation in the survey.

“We were initially worried about sample sizes, and hence questioned whether the inclusion of McIntyre and Watts might, by themselves, skew the results toward findings of overt self-obsession. When we saw Nova’s chin-down-eyes-up self-portrait on her blog (entitled, as it happens NovaCane), we wondered whether we could ever get a sample size large enough to accommodate her.”

“She is basically an outlier, even amongst this group of arch narcissists, we felt we would have had to throw her results away to be honest.”

The researchers do believe that there might be promise in developing a narcissistic index based on Nova Cane.

“Since it is doubtful we would find a subject more into themselves than Nova, we thought we might usefully scale future responses against that.”

We believe most people would fit on a scale of narcissism that ranked from 1-10 Novas. The scale is exponential, so we have coined 10 Novas as the ‘Super Nova’ rating for egocentricity. Psychologists can be corny at times.”

But the sceptics aren’t done with yet, with Nova herself firing the warning shots.

“If they thought our attempts at amateur climate science were the end of things, then they are mistaken. We will attempt amateur psychology as well, and then, well, who knows?”

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James Delingpole Raising Cash for Australian Climate Sceptic Think Tank

James Delingpole Raising Cash for Australian Climate Sceptic Think Tank (via Desmogblog)

REPOSTED: James Delingpole is a UK columnist waging a long personal jihad against wind farms, environmentalists and climate science. A resident blogger and columnist at The Daily Telegraph, Delingpole is probably best known for being among the first mainstream columnists to declare, wrongly as it turned out… CLICK ON LINK TO READ FULL

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Sensitive spot? Galileo Movement ban Idiot Tracker, WtD comments on that “issue”

Most interesting see here.See here for the evolving conversation on Shaping Tomorrow’s World, and my comments on perceived antisemitism.

I posted this in response to a commentator stating my claims were crude jibes wereas I believe there is a great deal of nuance.

The post contains links to resources andconcepts that may inform understanding of some parts of the sceptic community. I don’t think all skeptics are the same, and there are many, many sanded and  opinions.

Watching the Deniers at 00:47 AM on 11 September, 2012

@ Ben Pile

Having read thousands of posts, spoken to deniers, read dozens of books and watched their fillms, videos and YouTube videos I believe I have an understanding of the sceptic community and the broad spectrum of views. I do not view it as monolithic. It is diverse, with lots of voices. Agreed we are.

I believe I have a sophisticated understanding of the GM and work of Evans, and place it the category of producerism:

“Producerism sees society’s strength being “drained from both ends”—from the top by the machinations of globalized financial capital and the large, politically connected corporations that together conspire to restrict free enterprise, avoid taxes and destroy the fortunes of the honest businessman, and from the bottom by members of the underclass and illegal immigrants whose reliance on welfare and government benefits drains the strength of the nation. Consequently, nativist rhetoric is central to modern producerism…”

It has many influences, expressions and nuances. However, scholars of conspiracy culture have noted the parallels to classical antisemitism: if you want a rich history with context start here:

Every conspiracy theorist is unique, offering their own very personal interpretation of facts and events. Indeed, that is the very nature of the almost entrepreneurial style of fashioning these unique world views. Personally, I am fascinated by them and enjoy both reading and attempting to understand their work.

With all due respect, you have not answered my question. I am not suggesting all climate sceptics fall into the same category as Monckton and Evans: I’m asking your personal opinion on the materials.

It is a question for you Ben: as an obviously articulate, informed individual what is your response the claims?

I believe it is a reasonable ask of you.

Re creation/evolution you said it has no policy relevance. I suggested it does, perhaps we crossed wires. Or not.

I belive I am appreciative of the cultural divides or culture wars which impede not merely policy but education and an informed population. There is a complex interplay, and I believe I have stated the nuances cannot be under estimated.

Creationism as an idea makes a policy. It informs attempts to inject its teaching into public schools. It informs the broader objectives of conservative evangelical movements. I’m fully appreciative of its broader cultural and sociological drivers. In addition to denying climate change, the GOP Presidential candidates denied evolution. Every year in US the conservative politicians try to introduce “teach the controversy” legislation at the state level. I suspect you know this.

Do you not think policy implications flow from this? Agreed we are there are broader issues at play.

By turning science into a culture war issue, we inhibit policy that by necessity must be informed by science.

My point is, which I think are both trying to articulate, values and culture wars can distort policy debate. Is that a fair enough assessment?

Do my values inform my world view? Of course! But in order to avoid cognititive dissonance or rejecting vital knowledge that seems to challenge my values, I endeavor to practice a kind of mindfulness.

Versiongate, inboxgate and now NIWAgate!: or when denial echo chambers implode

Climate sceptics, our operators are standing by…

Since the release of the Lewandowsky paper – “NASA faked the moon landing – Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science” –  we have witnessed a wonderful demonstration of conspiracy ideation, the very thing the paper predicts. As the paper notes:

“…Another variable that has been associated with the rejection of science is conspiratorial thinking, or conspiracist ideation, defined here as the attempt to explain a significant political or social event as a secret plot by powerful individuals or organizations…” (Lewandowsky pg. 4)

At last count we’ve seen at least three conspiracy theories explode in the face of the once-mighty denial machine.

Conspiracy #1 “inboxgate” – or when sceptics fail to check email inboxes

Graham Readfearn on Think Progress gives some the details:

Among the conspiracy theories tested, were the faking of Apollo moon landings, US government agencies plotting to assassinate Martin Luther King, Princess Diana’s death being organised by members of the British Royal family and the US military covering up the recovery of an alien spacecraft that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico.

In the paper, Lewandowsky concludes that “endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories… predicts rejection of climate science”. The research also claims a correlation between people who endorse free-market economics and the ”rejection of climate science”.

Much outrage from climate sceptics that “sceptic” blogs hadn’t been invited to participate – but in fact they had. That’s right folks, in attempting to refute a paper that implied climate sceptics had a tendency to engage in conspiracy making they responded with, er, conspiracy making:

Not content to wait, Australian skeptic blogger Simon Turnill has sent a Freedom of Information request to UWA asking for Lewandowsky’s emails. Lewandowsky told DeSmogBlog: 

So now there’s a conspiracy theory going around that I didn’t contact them. It’s a perfect, perfect illustration of conspiratorial thinking. It’s illustrative of exactly the process I was analysing. People jump to conclusions on the basis of no evidence. I would love to be able to release those emails if given permission, because it means four more people will have egg on their faces. I’m anxiously waiting the permission to release this crucial information because it helps to identify people who engage in conspiratorial thinking rather than just searching their inboxes. 

Lewandowsky revealed that two of the five skeptic blogs approached even replied to the email they were sent.

One stated “Thanks. I will take a look” and another asked “Can you tell me a bit more about the study and the research design?”

Conspiracy theory #2 “Versiongate” – in which basic methodology is not understood

Among the various conspiracies suggested by climate sceptics was the involvement of this blog. Indeed, Watts up with that? put a post in which the following claim was made:

Anthony, there was recently another survey (longer, and with a 1-5 scale) put out by Lewandowsky’s research assistant, Charles Hanich, on June 4, 2012. It seems that the link for this survey was only posted on two blogs: Watching the Deniers and Skeptical Science. Charles Hanich was also responsible for creating Lewandowsky’s 2010 survey, as mentioned in the comments here.

Anthony Watts then made the following claim:

I believe that Dr. Lewandowsky set out to show the world that through a faulty, perhaps even fraudulent, smear campaign disguised as peer reviewed science, that climate skeptics were, as Jo Nova puts it, “nutters”. Worse, peer review failed to catch any of the problems now in the open thanks to the work of climate skeptics.

Oh really?

I got a scattering of hits from WUWT, but I wasn’t at all phased by the attention from Mr. Watts & Crew.

But what of the claims being made?

Well it seems the big secret has been revealed!

It would seem Lewandowsky engaged in the shameful practice sometimes referred to as “basic methodology”.

In what I’m assuming is a tongue-in-check post titled “An update on my birth certificates” Lewandowsky writes:

I laud the stirring dedication to investigative Googling. Alas, this highly relevant detective work is far from perfect.

If I am not mistaken, I can indeed confirm that there were 4—not 3—versions of the survey (unless that was the number of my birth certificates, I am never quite sure, so many numbers to keep track of… Mr. McIntyre’s dog misplaced an email under a pastrami sandwich a mere 8.9253077595543363 days ago, and I have grown at least one tail and several new horns over the last few days, all of which are frightfully independent and hard to keep track of).


Finally this new friend from Conspirania is getting some legs.

About time, too, I was getting lonely.

Astute readers will have noted that if the Survey ID’s from above are vertically concatenated and then viewed backwards at 33 rpm, they read “Mitt Romney was born in North Korea.”

To understand the relevance of Mr Romney’s place of birth requires a secret code word. This code word, provided below, ought to be committed to memory before burning this post.

So here it is, the secret code. Read it backwards:  gnicnalabretnuoc

Translations are available in any textbook for Methodology 101.

No really.

It’s that funny.

But would you believe the laughs keep coming?

Conspiracy theory #3 “NIWAgate” – in which Jo Nova claims courts controlled by government

As noted earlier today (see also Hot-topic) the climate sceptic movement suffered a major defeat in New Zealand in its attempt to undermine the temperature records. As Gareth @ Hot Topic notes:

The attempt by NZ’s merry little band of climate cranks to have the NZ temperature record declared invalid has ended in ignominious defeat. In his ruling [PDF], handed down today, Justice Venning finds: 

The plaintiff does not succeed on any of its challenges to the three decisions of NIWA in issue. The application for judicial review is dismissed and judgment entered for the defendant. [and] The defendant is entitled to costs. 

It will be interesting to see whether the NZ Climate Science Education Trust, which was established purely to bring this action, is able to stump up to cover NIWA’s costs. If it doesn’t, the NZ taxpayer will be left to pick up the bill for this absurd bit of political grandstanding by the Climate “Science” Coalition.

Astute reader of this blog uknowispeaksense  made the following prediction:

My prediction Mike and its a no-brainer. They will either pretend it didn’t happen or claim the courts are in on the scam.

And then BAM!

Jo Nova goes and claims a conspiracy theory!

Apparently since the judges are employed by the government they “must” be following whatever directives they are given:

The courts are supposed to be independent of the government. When these two institutions are effectively working together we lose one of the major safeguards of democracy. All the more reason to fight to keep the free press, free. What else is left?

No not a conspiracy theory at all…

I’ve worked in-and-out of the legal industry for almost two decades, so I think I can say with some authority Jo Nova has no f*cking clue how the court system works.

Now I admit I’m not across the NZ legal system but I assume they share a similar common law tradition devolved from the British system like Australia.

I’m going to assume that the separation between the judicial, legislative and executive branches is going to be robust and protected by constitutional or legislative safeguards.

Unless of course…

It’s a conspiracy!

But nooooooooooooooooooo, sceptics aren’t “nutters” at all.

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