Six Aspects of Denial

Six aspects of denial

I’ve adopted the “Six Aspects of Denial” from Sean B. Carroll’s book “The Making of the fittest”. I regard these as the most common non-scientific objections to the science of climate change. Actually, I will be so bold as to say these six “aspects” are pretty the core arguments of the denial movement.

I hope this framework helps people understands the flawed logic behind the arguments used by the denial movement.

  1. Doubt the science – This is the standard tactic of all denial movements. Creationists attack evolution and geology as they contradict the belief a god/s created the world just under 10,000 years ago. Alternative health practitioners claim the science that demonstrates the lack of effectiveness of their treatments is at fault. On web sites, in books and on internet forums deniers attack the science by cherry picking data, misrepresenting research or making bogus claims.
  2. Question the motives and integrity of scientists – This is the favourite tactic of the climate change denial movement. They claim the scientists are engaged in fraud, or are being pressured by governments to make up the results. They make up vast conspiracy theories in order to cast aspersions on the motives of climate scientists, physicists and biologists whose work confirms the reality of climate change. They use the “follow the money” argument, stating scientists are making up climate change in order to get research funding. All of these are simply ad hominem attacks: playing the man.
  3. Magnify disagreements among scientists and cite gadflies – Again, one of the favourite tactics of the denial movement. The tiny percentage of actual scientists who express scepticism (Plimer, Lindzen) are dwarfed by the thousands of scientists who agree with the consensus that climate change is happening. But the denial movement exploits the media’s tendency to present “both sides” of the argument and thus help perpetrate the myth scientists are still debating climate change when in fact there is near unanimous agreement.
  4. Exaggerate potential harm – This normally takes the form of “harming” the economy if the government intervenes. This is why opposition to cap-and-trade (or emissions trading schemes) are anathema to some parts of the denial movement. They also claim a climate change is an excuse to usher in a “world government”. The denial movement plays up to these fears, playing on the anxiety that they will lose their freedoms (see below).
  5. Appeal to personal freedom – One of the great fears of the denial movements is a loss of freedom. Whether economic or political, they have a paranoid fear that someone (government, scientists, greens, politicians) are going to restrict their right to unlimited consumption or their freedom of speech. But reality is not a democracy. We don’t get to choose the truth about climate change, just as a popular debate about evolution does not decide the scientific facts. The denial movement loves to frame this as a “debate” when none exists, claiming they have a right to doubt the science. Of course they do. But it does not mean they are correct.
  6. Acceptance repudiates key philosophy – For libertarians and free market advocates, climate change is a direct challenge to their assumption of unlimited growth. Any response to climate change will involve government intervention and global governance structures (such as a binding treaty to limit CO2 emissions). To such ideologues, it is axiomatic that such responses are “bad”. And yet the “market” can’t fix climate. Caught between accepting the science and what it entails and rejecting it in favour of their faith in the market, they reject the science. The same could be said of religious conservatives: like evolution, climate change is a direct challenge to the idea that a god/s has a governance role and is directly responsible for managing the day-to-day affairs of the world. That a god/s would let climate change happen and not intervene is deeply challenging to the idea that a) they would allow such “evil” and b) the god/s is omnipotent.

209 thoughts on “Six Aspects of Denial

    • benjamin says:

      I am a sceptic of global warming but I am not a sceptic of climate change. This is a seriously different view. You could say I am not a ‘denier’. But I am a sceptic of over-dramatisation and jumping around like crazy monkeys about an issue. Which has resulted in stupid environmental policies that just aren’t sustainable, or don’t even achieve the goals they are set in motion for. Solar power and wind power are costly alternatives that just can’t be maintained by our economy in this day and age

      • john byatt says:

        Benjam”stupid environmental policies that just aren’t sustainable,

        Non sustainable environmental policies’

        i will have to dwell on that awhile benjamin

      • Zeph says:

        benjamin, does this mean that you evaluate global warming through careful evaluation of all evidence rather than through unexamined believe – and to the contrary regarding climate change?

        Do you realize that all scientists are trained to be skeptics, and that the growing acceptance of AGW among climate scientists in the past 30 years is a result of their skeptical evaluation of the evidence? Or by contrast, the rejection of “solar influx only” based hypotheses is based on skepticism?

        I’m wondering if you confuse skepticism with simple “disbelief”. Skepticism is not a matter of belief or disbelief (it can foster each on a case by case basis), but of the means by which one reaches belief or disbelief, and how one sustains or changes those beliefs.

        How does one determine whether potential outcomes are being “over-dramatized” or perhaps “under-dramatized”? Since we don’t know the future, projecting which curve is “accurate” and which curves is “over the top” provides a rich source for a Rorschack test wherein factors other than evidence and science can come to the fore more easily in determining our beliefs. I’d be interested in how you have come to your conclusions in terms of logic and evidence. The best I understand the attempts to rationally project future effects of climate change and resource depletion, there are some seriously dystopian futures well within the error bars. It’s almost impossible to find a plausible “business as usual” scenerio whose error bars do NOT include really big problems in this century – even if it’s not inevitable.

        I see “business as usual” as being at least as risky as routinely driving while intoxicated. There’s a chance that one may never run into serious problems (directly for oneself or for others), but the chances of other outcomes are too large to dismiss. Likewise, people who do not wish to face the most likely outcomes of present trends will tend to grasp at the “least effect” outliers, assuming for example that the uncertainties in climate models will always resolve out on the good side (ie: the models are only approximate so let’s put all our eggs in the basket labeled “things might not be as bad as the models predict” and ignore the one labeled “it could be worse than predicted”). One way to do this is to belittle any dire prediction pre-emptively – not so much because one has evaluated enough solid science to relegate it to very low probability, but because it’s psychologically a more satisfying coping behavior and the rationalization can be pasted on later.

        In a related way, a question like the use of solar and wind technology being cost effective depends strongly on how one measures the *total costs* of these versus their alternatives, not just currently but projected into the future. If one expects shortages of conventional energy sources – or that the unfunded externalities of “side effects” to come home to roost with substantial indirect costs – within the foreseeable future, beginning the long process of creating renewable infrastructure might make a great deal of rational sense. If only cost per KWH today is taken into account, it could be closer to a toss-up; likewise if you think conventional energy will just keep getting cheaper and cleaner decde after decade. I see this as a complex set of equations to consider. If you have unambiguously resolved all those unknowns to the degree that you can decide that solar and wind obviously cost more in the long run than they save, I would be fascinated to see your analysis and the assumptions on which it is based.

  1. rpauli says:

    This a superb analysis… thank you so much.

    You perhaps describe the denial-disinformer — someone actively promoting denialistic thinking. Because most people – are ‘in denial’ are not actively promoting… just going along with the denial-disinformer.

    As if there are denial predators – and denial victims.

    • Zeph says:

      People do indeed have different role and bear varying responsibility for creating and sustaining the denial ecosystem. However, thanks to cognitive dissonance and rationalization, there are not going to be many who consider themselves to be the denial predators. The average spreader of propaganda believes most of what they say, and the average salesperson has convinced themselves that their product really is the best.

      Nevertheless, there exist for example climate bloggers who have had sufficiently solid feedback that they could well have rationally reconsidered – but as I’ve heard it said, being anti-AGW is their identity and sometimes their living and they don’t have another source of ricebowls. They are not simply ignorant, but have cultivated a deep internal denial mechanism.

  2. john byatt says:

    Did anyone watch the George Negus segment on climate change last week?
    George started off by referring to the climatologists as “the climate Gurus” .

    “In Western usage, the meaning of guru has been extended to cover anyone who acquires followers, though not necessarily in an established school of philosophy or religion.[2] In a further Western extension, guru is used, or even misused from the original religious meaning, to refer to a person who has authority because of his or her perceived secular knowledge or skills, such as in business.”

    why not just use “the climatologists doing the science” ?

    After a fair, for a journalistic segment on climate change, he finished off with

    “I hope they are wrong’

    well gee whiz George why not “I hope we act on their advice” ?

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      I missed it but will try and track it down. Thanks head up.

      And his sign off? Well…

      I hope they are right: better to be forewarned than not at all.

    • Zeph says:

      Agreed. Imagine reviewing the body of literature about the association of intoxicated driving with accidents, and then ending with “I hope they are wrong” (rather than, say, “let’s not drive drunk”). Reality trumps hope in this sphere.

  3. elsa says:

    Let us take each of these in turn and see what they say.

    1. Doubt the science – You bring in creationism and alternative health. Both of these crackpot ideas can be tested and can be shown to be wrong. The warmist view cannot be tested. Whatever happens to the cliamte the warmists always maintain that their view is right. That has been shown on this site where you have claimed that global warming is responsible for freezing temperatures and heavy snow falls.
    2. Question the motives and integrity of scientists – A bit rich from a warmist. The warmist lobby never fails to maintain that it is gloabl oil etc that finances corrupt science. For the most part I would not question the motives of warmist “science” but I would question their methadology and in many cases their true scientific credentials. The likes of Phil Jones have no scientific training other than “cliamate science” and a poor or non existent grasp of statistics. Additionally in general scientists do not like to own up to the fact that they do not know things so a claim to understand climate is well received by scientists generally rather like erroneous explanations for the plague 500 years ago. Many “deniers” prefer an alternative explanation for the truth, which is that we do not have the knowledge that the warmists claim to have.
    3. Magnify disagreements among scientists and cite gadflies – “Again, one of the favourite tactics of the denial movement. The tiny percentage of actual scientists who express scepticism (Plimer, Lindzen) are dwarfed by the thousands of scientists who agree with the consensus that climate change is happening. But the denial movement exploits the media’s tendency to present “both sides” of the argument and thus help perpetrate the myth scientists are still debating climate change, when in fact their is near unanimous agreement.”
    Actually most warmist “scientists” do not share the certainty expressed on this site. They know they have feet of clay. To talk of consensus reveals that what we have is a matter of opinion not of fact.
    4. Exaggerate potential harm – Right now it would be difficult to exaggerate the potential harm to mankind of trying to do without fossil fuels. Mankind has been liberated from all sorts of nasty things by coal, gas and oil. Wind farms and other green nonsense is not yet a plausible substitute. They may become so but right now they are not.
    5. Appeal to personal freedom – “One of the great fears of the denial movements is a loss of freedom.” Quite right too. many warmists are just itching to impose restrictions on humanity’s use of fossil fuels. Luckily for mankind, people for the most part allow the warmists to make some posturing in rich countries but totally ignore it in eg China and India.
    6. Acceptance repudiates key philosophy – “For libertarians and free market advocates, climate change is a direct challenge to their assumption of unlimited growth.” Such people make no assumptions about unlimited growth, they are keen on letting people do what they want. Only state planners tend to aim at growth, while usually failing completely to achieve it. A key feature of most planned economies has usually been the subservience of everything to one key target such as growth or industrialisation. The results have usually been disastrous for the people involved and have not usually achieved the desired result. The warmist view is similar to this. It would like to make the reduction of CO2 emissions almost the sole aim of governmental policy and to disregard almost everthing else. An example is given by the statement “the “market” can’t fix climate.” Well it could even on warmist terms by putting a cost on CO2. But that would involve a choice for individuals who might opt for more CO2 and take the risk with climate. That is not an idea that appeals to the warmist lobby who much prefer targets that have to be met (but will not be) whatever the cost to individuals.

    • Mike says:

      Elsa, everything you have said reveals that you are extremely ignorant of many of the things you are trying to speak authoritatively about. Ignorance in itself is not a bad thing. We are all ignorant of many things. The key is to recognise your ignorance and try and become informed on the subject matter before commenting, otherwise you will end up looking quite silly and your opinion will not be taken seriously.

      1. “The warmist view cannot be tested.” Your use of the word “view” inaccurately describes the way scientists put forward scientific information. You make it sound like an opinion which it isn’t. Scientists do research, run experiments and they interpret their findings based on well-established mathematical and statistical protocols. They then report their findings. These are not opinions or “views”. In fact the use of the word “warmist” is suggestive that these scientists have some sort of membership to a “warmist” club. I am fairly certain that the vast majority of climate scientists would be much happier to have very different results to their research.

      “…where you have claimed that global warming is responsible for freezing temperatures and heavy snow falls.” If you disagree with the hypotheses and modelling that shows climate change and associated global warming will cause extreme weather events, including snowfalls and cold temperatures in some parts of the world, all that does is demonstrate that you haven’t bothered to search the literature and look at the results of modelling yourself. This shows the ignorance I mentioned in my opening paragraph.

      2. “I would not question the motives of warmist “science” but I would question their methadology and in many cases their true scientific credentials.” I would question what your scientific credentials are that you feel you are qualified to question others. You cherry-pick Phil Jones as an example. Phil Jones has an Environmental Science PhD and has worked his entire career at the East Anglia climatology unit. His specialty is paleoclimatology. There are very few people who are more qualified than
      him to undertake climate research, particularly in his area of expertise so I don’t know where you get the idea that he isn’t qualified. Actually I do know but it doesn’t need to be mentioned. But lets pretend for a second that he isn’t credentialled enough. How about the thousands of other climate scientists in the world who are all saying the same thing? Are they all not qualified?

      “scientists do not like to own up to the fact that they do not know things….” Really? Clearly you have never read a single scientific paper. I have read thousands and I find it difficult to think of a single one where the author has not admitted to gaps in their own knowledge. It is what makes a scientist tick. Its what science is all about. Its about filling the gaps in their own and the collective knowledge of everyone. It’s what drives them. Sure, scientists have egos, just like everyone in society does, but to suggest that ego gets in the way of objective reasoning is extremely insulting and shows your ignorance yet again.

      3. “Actually most warmist “scientists” do not share the certainty expressed on this site. They know they have feet of clay. To talk of consensus reveals that what we have is a matter of opinion not of fact.” You really reveal yourself here by putting “” around ‘scientists’. Once again though, you demonstrate your ignorance and highlight the fact that you haven’t read many, if any papers on the subject. You will find that there is a consensus among climate scientists that the world is experiencing anthropogenic global warming and climate change. There are slight differences in the various modelling that is being undertaken by different scientisits in terms of future impacts but they ALL agree there will be and are already experiencing negative impacts. Some disagreement around the edges does not negate the consensus.

      4. “Wind farms and other green nonsense is not yet a plausible substitute. They may become so but right now they are not.” There has been plenty of modelling that suggest gradual shifts to green energy is feasible and cost effective. For example, Melbourne University in Australia released a 194 page report on the feasibility of Australia shifting to 100% renewable energy over just 10 years. Taking into account fiscal, social, economic impacts as well as the functionality and effectiveness of the solar thermal and wind systems, found it would cost an additional $8 per week for the average house but would have a net gain of 90 000 long term jobs as well as revitalise Australia’s manufacturing sector. So far from implausible, such solutions are highly feasible. Once again, a little bit of research on your part would allow you to make some of these statements from an informed position.

      5. “many warmists are just itching to impose restrictions on humanity’s use of fossil fuels.” and rightly so given they have been demonstrated to be the problem.

      “…but totally ignore it in eg China and India.” China has been a problem up until the last few years in terms of policy on emissions. You will no doubt be surprised to learn that China in particular has recognised this and has some of the most adventurous and forward thinking policies in place now to ensure they curb emissions by much more than the US and other big polluters going forward. Throwing up the old rightest “what about China, what about China?” catchcry does not reflect reality anymore.

      6. “An example is given by the statement “the “market” can’t fix climate.” Well it could even on warmist terms by putting a cost on CO2.”
      As long as the market is driven by greed and fossil fuels remain cheap, the market cannot fix climate. Fact of life. The mega-rich who run the world markets don’t care about climate because they have put themselves in such positions that if they did change their tact their companies would collapse. It is expedient to carry on with business as usual and to hell with everyone else.

      “…might opt for more CO2 and take the risk with climate.” Risk is no longer on the table because the science is well and truly in on that. However, as long as disinformation from scientific illiterates and “google galileos” continues and equally intellectually bereft and ignorant sheeple continue to believe their nonsense, this perception that business as usual will do will persist to the detriment of everyone. The denial movement is a modern day Nero.

      In conclusion, your ignorance is demonstrated most by your need to resort to the use of propaganda for a scientific subject. If you continue to choose to be ignorant of a subject you wish to discuss, you will be demonstrating one of the worst human behaviours and that is wilful ignorance. It is akin to sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “lalalalalala” which as you know is a very childish path to tread.

    • Fredrick Toben says:

      1. This is a good reply because it illustrates where encrusted false consciousness is at work. Anyone who claims science is settled is a fool. Look at medical knowledge and how ideologically/religiously driven that is, for example the issue of being an intact male or a circumcised one. Do viruses exist or not?
      2. It would be good if scepticism is embraced with the view that there is a stock of empirical knowledge but that we can add to that without wishing to make it an industrial production issue that impacts on our health, then forces some dissenting voices into the wilderness.
      3. Uppermost should be our personal freedoms, and after I spent seven months in a prison in 1999 after refusing to believe in the official Holocaust narrative I penned the following: ‘If you deny me my freedom to think and to speak, then you deny me my humanity and you commit a crime against humanity – Truth is my defence’.
      4. Today, Monday 24 September 2012 in the Federal Magistrates Court, Sydney,I was bankrupted on account of failing to pay legal costs for a process I deemed immoral because legally protecting someone’s hurt feelings, Racial Discrimination Act, Sec 18C, in my view is a nonsense.
      5. So, be warned about anyone using legal force to silence your thought processes because it can destroy your social existence – and still I refuse to believe in the Holocaust narrative because there are too many lies within it that need to be exposed so that we are once again freed of such enslaving narratives.
      Fredrick Toben
      Adelaide – currently Sydney

  4. john byatt says:

    ” Many “deniers” prefer an alternative explanation for the truth, which is that we do not have the knowledge that the warmists claim to have.

    How can claiming that we do not have the knowledge be an alternative explanation ,

    the knowledge we already have explains it , your preference is immaterial

    forcings have been studied for many decades,

    You need to better explain your preference, what do you believe is the current forcing ?

  5. elsa says:

    “How can claiming that we do not have the knowledge be an alternative explanation”
    You make a good point. It is not an alternative explanation. However it remains true.

    “the knowledge we already have explains it , your preference is immaterial
    forcings have been studied for many decades,”
    We delude ourselves if we think we have any proper knowledge. What has happened is that models are set up and bent in such a way as to fit the facts. Their outcomes are then presented as though they establish knowledge, which is really just a well disguised circular argument.

    You need to better explain your preference, what do you believe is the current forcing ?
    My preference is for being honest about how little we really know as opposed to fooling ourselves that we know a great deal. As to the cause of the temperature changes in the last 200 years I can think of many possible factors but I do not know which of them (if any) or in what proportions have affected the temperature. I would also think it very possible that there are some other factors of which we are as yet unaware that have had an influence too.

    • laurence says:

      “As to the cause of the temperature changes in the last 200 years I can think of many possible factors.”

      Want to share a few of those with us elsa.

      • elsa says:

        Well to give an example it has recently been suggested that the atomic bombs in the 1940s affected the climate. This is a very plausible thing to say. However it is used to explain the cooling that took part in the middle of the last century. Nothing wrong with that either. Where there is a problem is in saying that this can now be added to the models, without in any way realising that the ability to just add an extra factor at will negates the whole of the previous attempt at explanation via models of climate change.

    • Elsa, climatologists got a first-hand and accurate look at exactly how much climate can be altered when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991. The after-effects of the eruption allowed them to refine and calibrate climate models.

      It’s obvious you have never heard climatologists explaining how models are developed, you seem to be unaware of the lengths they go to to account for all possible forcing effects or the vast array of data sets incorporated in the models.

      I think, to be fair that you are grossly exaggerating the claims made by climate scientists. I’ve heard many of them interviewed and none claim to know with complete certainty what the effects of anthropogenic climate change will do to the planet in 50 or 100 years time.

      What they do know with certainty is the chemistry and physics which allows them to outline a range of possible outcomes. What you don’t seem to appreciate is that many of the assessments are extremely conservative and that if anything, they are guilty of understating long-term effects.

      In any case, climate change effects aren’t just observable in the atmosphere, they have also been clearly noted in changes in ocean acidity due to increased CO2 absorption, thinning shells in assorted small marine creatures, steady changes in bird and insect migration times, migration of plants and animals into new areas and increasing number of temperature extremes etc.

      There is plenty of good science is out there if you are really interested.

    • Zeph says:

      elsa, I believe that you do not realize that estimating and management of uncertainty is actually at the core of science and the scientific method. Of course we don’t know everything in any field of science or of engineering – but that doesn’t mean we know nothing. We can make reasonably good estimates of the uncertainties. That’s why scientists give error bars. For example, the 4th Assessment Report estimates that a majority (>50%) of the observed warming is attributable to multiple human related forcings (CO2 being the largest but not only one) with 90% confidence – and they then go to describe how they arrive at this through multiple lines of carefully sifted evidence – specifically including detailed analysis of alternative explanations – each of which fails to explain the measured data as well as the AGW mechanisms.

      That is not “certainty” but it’s well beyond the threshold of “actionable” in any field which is not politically charged.

      Put it this way: is there credible evidence that putting gigatons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere is causing the measured effects? Very credible. So much so that in any rational society the shoe would now be on the other foot – to continue business as usual would need solid scientific evidence that more CO2 would NOT harm the environment. It’s time for CO2 emitters to produce an environmental impact assessment which will stand up to the same scientific scrutiny and rational skepticism that AGW has faced in the past three decades. As a hint, the skeptics have made no progress on this front at all – and the deniers wouldn’t even try.

      Just trying to emphasize “we are not absolutely sure that driving drunk will cause an accident this time” is no longer sufficient – that uncertainty cuts both ways and the situation could be worse than projected as easily as being less dire, so uncertainty is no longer the friend of inaction.

      For an example of how one might justify much reduced concern about climate change, come up with a credible Global Climate Model which can account for the existing instrument record without the use of CO2 forcing and you will likely win a Nobel prize. Nobody yet has been able to do so. There are a lot of solid GCM’s produced by different (competing) groups of scientists. Creating yet another one which refines the current ones (and requires CO2 forcing) may get some papers published, but you won’t get any prizes for it; but creating one which can do as good or better job without CO2 would revolutionize the field and win the creators both scientific glory (after the initial shock) and popular fame perhaps only second to Einstein or Hawkins.

      (As a note: doing this would NOT suddenly “overturn” global climate change as there are other lines of evidence and direct instrumental readings that any alternative theory would need to explain as well – I’m just saying that it would dramatically shake up the field while scientists strove to refine, extend, or replace current theories with more comprehensive ones.)

      Anyway, we never have complete knowledge and yet airplanes still fly – because we can and do contain and bound the uncertainties well enough. A true scientific skeptic might present solid data and analysis to expand the error bars of uncertainties (and that sort of thing does happen), but it’s not science to just assert without numbers or peer reviewed analysis that “we don’t know enough”.

  6. john byatt says:

    “What do believe is the current forcing”

    “We delude ourselves if we think we have any proper knowledge. What has happened is that models are set up and bent in such a way as to fit the facts. Their outcomes are then presented as though they establish knowledge, which is really just a well disguised circular argument.

    As we see your fall-back position is always going to be that the science is bent,
    If you wish to debate the hoax then go to a conspiracy theorist site, you are a complete waste of time when every reply from you is “its a hoax”

    • elsa says:

      I have not suggested the “science” is bent. I have suggested that we simply do not know many of the facts that the warmist (and actually some “denialist”) “scientists” claim to have. Since we have no method of disentangling the effects of the various possible effects on climate it is not possible to attribute x degrees to CO2 if you are a warmist or y degrees to solar abnormalities if you are one of the scientistic non believers in the warmist faith that claims to have an alternative explanation.

      • Zeph says:

        elsa, have you actually read the IPCC AR4? Some of the statements you make appear to suggest that you are relying on distorted accounts of it from third parties who may not be unbiased or entirely competent. You are making arguments which have been accounted for – not rebutting their analysis but apparently completely unaware of it.

        It reminds me of somebody disputing seat belt usage on the assertion that we don’t know whether more people have been trapped in burning cars by seat belts or saved by them so we can’t decide whether to install them. They may be confusing their own personal ignorance on the matter with a lack of studies.

        But in fact we actually do know a LOT more than you appear to be aware of, even if not everything. A great deal of solid analysis has been done to disentangle those various effects in fact, with peer review and incremental refinement over the years based on scientific critiques. (Criticizing and refining each others’ analses is a bit part of what working scientists do). If you actually understand those analyses well enough to debunk them, please, please publish your results in the journals for the sake of science and the planet. If you don’t begin to understand how they disentangle those factors yourself and how they calculate the uncertainties of their methodoligy, then it’s not adding to rational discussion to just assert based on your unsupported opinion that there is no method for doing so.

        Here’s a small test. Briefly describe the major methods by which climate science has so far tried to “disentangle the effects of the various possible effects on climate” (this is your words – tho I generously assume that by the second use of “effects” you meant to say “forcings and feedbacks” but your keyboard got stuck). If you are completely unaware of the methods by which scientists have addressed those issues (perhaps because you have never read a single paper on the subject, much less devoted years of your life to the study of hundreds of them), then perhaps you are not in a position to expect your opinion on the matter to carry weight.

        Y’see it’s not enough to just assert based on your personal authority that “we don’t know enough” – you need to understand what we do (seem to) know, and demonstrate why the analysis of error limits is wrong.

        Yeah one can fall back on the “unknown unknowns” thing – but if on a practical level you apply that everywhere, you would never board a plane (because logically there could be a new unknown unknown factor which will cause it to cease being flightworthy). Or you could evalulate that a lot of clever people have spent a lot of time quantizing the known unknowns and chasing down the unknown unknowns to a sufficient degree that it’s time to place your bets on the most probable truth rather than waiting until the plane leaves (or the planet’s ecosystem and its humans suffer undue damage).

      • Fred says:

        Your use of the term “warmist” implies that there are competing schools of thought regarding global warming. There aren’t.

        There are scientists, 98% of whom agree on the causes and effects of global warming –and there is a small but well-funded group of businessmen who fund disinformation campaigns. That is the dichotomy. There is no debate about cause and effect. The only debate is how to respond.

        I hope the Koch Bros. are paying you well because it must be hard to sleep at night knowing that you are a shill for the petroleum industry.

  7. adelady says:

    John, Lawrence. Give it up. Elsa’s position has not changed from the very first time she wrote anything on a climate blog.

    Her position? The obvious fact that we do not know everything that could possibly be known about the earth and its climate means that we know nothing useful about the earth, its oceans, its ice, its climate.

    If I were knitting her a jumper, she’d complain while I was finishing the first sleeve, having the back and the front completed in the knitting bag, that I’d “done nothing” useful. Only when the whole garment was stitched together, trimmed, ironed, folded and wrapped would she concede that I’d done any useful work at all. (Let’s not concern ourselves with preferences about colours or button sizes.)

    • klem says:

      However, if you were knitting the jumper and had only finished the first sleeve, you would force her to wear it every day, then you’d write a law to force everyone to wear the same first sleeve and pay a jumper tax to you for the privilege.


    • elsa says:

      I have not suggested that we know nothing useful. I would say however that we know very very much less than the sort of claims to knowledge that are made on this site.

      • Zeph says:

        How much less? Give us some numbers about how accurate you think our knowledge needs to be before we can take action, versus how much accuracy the climate community has achieved so far.

        Or is this based solely on subjective and innumerate intuition? If you have no numbers and no evidence, then what are your professional qualifications to subjectively evaluate the current state of knowledge (and lack thereof) of the science?

        Name a single scientific paper on the subject which you have read, and what specifically in it you find incorrect.

        What is your estimate of climate sensitivity and your one sigma error bars? On what evidence do you base that estimate?

        What’s your scientific take on the Dunning-Kruger effect and how it might apply to the estimation of whether or not we understand climate and its forcings and feedbacks well enough to take appropriate actions?

      • Gandalf says:

        Elsa, no ethical scientists have disputed the results climate change.
        Unfortunately, I don’t think climate denial is apt.
        It’s more like climate delusion.

  8. john byatt says:

    I don’t try to work these guys out anymore, i have been on forums where they have rubbished religion and creationism only to discover later that they are active members of fundamentalist young earth creationist churches,

    lying for god , a doctrine of both the KORAN and other religious extremist dogma

    • elsa says:

      I am never sure why the subjects of religion and creationism are raised by my opponents. I do not believe in a god and I am not a creationist, in fact I am a very strong supporter of the theory of evolution. No doubt there are “deniers” out there who believe in both but I am not one of them.

      • Gregory T says:

        You’r like the black knight in the Monty Python sketch who doesn’t even know he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

  9. john byatt says:

    Then that might leave you as one that has trouble facing up to reality, rather than accept reality you are protecting yourself by denial, this is a well understood human protection mechanism , many people that get cancer, even alcoholics use denial as a means were they do not need to confront reality

    • elsa says:

      I notice a distinct tendency to move away from the point whenever the going gets tough for the warmist camp. Rather than answer my criticism they tend to harp on about god or creationism or even, Moth’s speciality, vaccinations.
      John Byatt now offers a complete about face on this. It seems that my lack of belief in god, lack of belief in creationism and my support for evolution make me someone who has trouble facing up to reality. So it seems the “denier” who believes in god is damned because he does and the “denier” who does not believe is damned because he doesn’t!

      • Zeph says:

        elsa, trust me on this – you are not the only opponent of AGW, and some things said about such opponents may not apply to you. If the shoe doesn’t fit, move on – there are plenty of things here which DO apply to you, address them.

        It’s more than possible that you may say some things about “warmists” which do not apply to me personally. I’ll try not to bother responding to those by telling you so.

  10. Farmer Dave says:

    You have, consciously or not, continued what appears to be plagiarism by posting the “six aspects of denial”. This looks to be a lift & twist of Six Wrenches That Twist The Mind” from Toffler’s Book “War and Anti-War”. These wrenches may also be applied to the carbonistas:

    1. Atrocity Accusation.
    Bob Brown & his Green Shirts blame the coal industry for cyclone yasi.

    2. Hyperbolic Inflation of the Stakes Involved.
    Our children will inherit a depleted & desertified world.

    3. Demonsiation of Opponents.
    Deniers, flat earthers, in the pay of big business.

    4. Polarisation.
    The science is settled, anyone who argues against this fact is dangerous.

    5. Claim Devine Sanction.
    Witness the Climate Institute’s Faith Campaign. Your Gods are with US.

    6. Meta-propaganda.
    Everything said by the deniers is untrue, everything!

    I am a retired industrial chemist turned small farmer who also know bull shit when it appears, on or off the ground. The mendacity of Gillard, Combet, Rudd, Howard and Turnbull in using the flawed non-science of the IPCC, and the pay for comment of Garnaut & Flannery, just to create another revenue stream is despicable.

    • Mike says:

      1. Bob Brown is a politician. He uses catch cries just as they all do to push their own agendas. You’d do better to listen to scientific climate experts who actually take a more cautious approach to future predictions.

      2. Our children will inherit a depleted world. If you have scientific credentials as you claim you would understand the exponential function and how it applies to growth.

      3. It is well documented that many of the deniers originate in oil and industry-funded thinktanks. The information is freely available. its interesting to note how many of them aren’t really scientists.

      4. There is consensus amongst climate scientists. To continue pushing the ‘science isn’t settled’ myth is either dishonest or evidence of wilful ignorance, which is actually worse IMO.

      5. Propaganda, propaganda how I love you. how does this disprove the science?

      6. Most of what is said by the deniers is untrue. It is based on misrepresentations of others’ work, misinterpretations of others’ work or dodgy work that doesn’t pass muster in terms of methodology, data integrity, statistical analyses, interpretation or all of the above. That is pretty straightforward and easily checkable.

      For your last point i agree that politicians are despicable but that’s what they do. The Carbon tax isn’t the answer. You would much better to put your scientific credentials to better use and remember how scientific convention works. As an industrial chemist, would you give advice about medicine? Would you get a plumber to rewire your house? Would you go to the vet for heart surgery? Would you go to a hack meteorologist or someone who claims to be a lord and scientific adviser to a politician for information about climate?

  11. Farmer Dave says:

    Your rather messy response reflects the shallowness of your understanding of the real world of responsible science in either research integrity or the folly of leaping from observation to causation.
    Your points. 1. Bob Brown: electors who voted for these wackos have handed control of this country to green fascists. What they say may be ridiculous, but what they have achieved and want to achieve through manipulation of our sad excuse of a government, is dangerous. 2. Off topic, the issue of man made climate change is independent of exponentiality. 3. Please provide the details of the funding of “deniers” by oil & industry.”Its interesting to note how many of them aren’t really scientists”. Really? well how about William Kinnimonth, Garth Paltridge, Stuart Franks, Piers Corbyn, Chris Landsea, David Evans, Bob Carter, Ian Plimer, Ian Wright and many others whose scientific training ( as is mine from the late 60s when a degree was worth something) allow them to review and evaluate IPCC reports and other media trash with insight.
    4. Consensus among those who are paid to do work of the IPCC is hardly convincing when viewed against the background of the gross dishonesty of Jones, Mann, Bifra and their little nest of criminals who deliberately manipulated data, ignored data, ignored or downplayed the main contributors to climate variability such as solar cycles and water vapour.5. And your point is…? 6.Rather silly, but if you believe what you say why do you believe a mammalogist, neural scientist, economist and railway engineer and politicians who are either ignorant or dishonest when it comes to AGW?
    Something for you to consider: When I plant a crop of “Wandering” variety oats, I sow 90kg per hectare of seed which is around 40% carbon (oil,protein,sugars etc). In an average year I will receive around 4,000 kg per hectare of grain which, at 40% C, representing a forty four fold increase in carbon. This has all been captured by the photosynthesis process which simply uses sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to produce the crop. And another thing, there is a similar amount of carbon remaining in the stubble after harvest. So we have nearly 90 times as much carbon captured from the atmosphere as was planted. Now consider this, if we had more CO2 in the atmosphere, crop yields would be higher due to the more efficient use of water in the photosynthesis process.
    Finally, do some work on solubilities, buffering action and the logarithmic relationship between addition of CO2 to the atmosphere and it’s resulting greenhouse gas effect. Then go and study the various claims made about ocean acidification, ocean warming, coral reefs and look for hard evidence. Don’t be disappointed that there is none.
    Remember the leap from observation to causation is unscientific but well practiced by the Warmists.

    • john byatt says:

      “Finally, do some work on solubilities, buffering action and the logarithmic relationship between addition of CO2 to the atmosphere and it’s resulting greenhouse gas effect.”

      why don’t you explain all about the logarithmic relationship Farmer Dave?

      this will be interesting,,,,

      • Farmer Dave says:

        I sense more than a little sarcasm in your challenge. I would have thought that someone with your seemingly rich knowledge on AGW would not need to seek clarification. Nevertheless, I shall keep it simple for you. Simply put, the relationship between additional CO2 in the atmosphere is not linear ie if 100 in = 2 out, therefore 200 in = 4 out but logarithmic. Willis Eschenbach in 2006 showed the logarithmic heating effect of CO2 relative to atmospheric concentration.
        As an example, the initial 20ppm showed around a 1.7 deg C increase in temperature; the next 20ppm showed only around 0.35 deg C, the next around 0.2 deg C and so on. Eschenbach actually plotted Net Downwards Forcing (w/m2) against CO2 concentration in ppm.

      • john byatt says:

        thought as much

        “Willis Eschenbach in 2006 showed the logarithmic heating effect of CO2 relative to atmospheric concentration.”

        You are confusing atmospheric concentration with emissions. Radiative forcing is logarithmic in concentration, but the concentration increases faster than linearly with emissions, since the more you emit, the less is taken up by the oceans and the more remains in the atmosphere. That effect turns out to cancel out the logarithmic behavior, giving you a nearly linear warming (at least up to about 5000 gigatonnes total emissions).

        Now instead of calling Mike an idiot , why don’t you take your own advice and study it yourself,

        Hint: should be easy for a chemist!

    • Zeph says:

      When you said “… shallowness of your understanding of the real world of responsible science in either research integrity or the folly of leaping from observation to causation.” I began to hope you would be presenting some real scientific reasoning as the antidote.

      “Bob Brown: electors who voted for these wackos have handed control of this country to green fascists”. Could you cite some peer reviewed articles to support your conclusion? I’m not yet quite following how you are raising the integrity of the scientific discussion here.

      And the rest of your points are similar, giving the appearance of smug if not arrogant opinion rather than balanced and evidence based evaluation. Sigh.

      One of the things I notice about real science vs subjective arguments in the context of evaluating mixed effects, is that science uses numbers to discern which effects predominate, while polemecists (on any side!) just emphasize those effects or feedbacks which support their desired conclusion and ignore or discount those which do not.

      So for example, in evaluating the effects of increased CO2 on crops, a scientific study will estimate ALL of the positive and negative effects as best they can be calculated, to give some overall result. Vegetation in general is sometimes limited by water (amount or timing thereof), or by sunlight, or by temperature, or by soil nutrients (etc). In some cases I understand that additional CO2 promotes growth, and in some cases other limitations reduce or eliminate any additional potential provided by increased CO2. In general however, if these factors are fixed, additional CO2 will have a positive or at least neutral effect. However, these factors are not fixed – temperature and rainfall are considered likely to be significantly affected – for better or worse – by that same increased CO2 (I realize you disagree, I’m just laying out the analysis). So to do a somewhat meaningful analysis of expected effects of climate change on agriculture, one would use GIS to do a grid cell by cell estimate of the estimated average weather (climate) and other factors along with projected changes in CO2. There would be both positive effects, and negative effects, whose magnitudes would vary geographically.

      For the sake of argument (scientific thought experiment), suppose that the world’s climate science community is basically right, and suppose that major droughts will become more routine and more prolonged in this century for much of the US heartland. That might reduce agricultural output, especially after the paleoaquifers are exhausted. However the increased CO2 might provide some degree of boost.

      A polemicist might pay attention to only the latter and promote a non-quantitative bumper sticker idea like “more CO2 = more crops”. A scientist would try to numerically estimate all effects positive and negative as accurately as possible (for each grid cell) and see what the net effect is.

      You may believe that global climate change isn’t happening or cannot be caused by humans. I hope we both agree that the reality isn’t going to pay any attention to your opinion or mine – if it’s objectively happening it’s going to happen whether you agree with it or not – your disbelief isn’t going to protect you. And from what I understand, increased CO2 effects are not the domanant factor in the analyses.

      So good luck with that, and your farming. I hope that as a retired chemist you are an older farmer with lots of other resources, so you are not going to be depending on good crops for a long time, CO2 or not (unless you have kids who will inherit and run the farm).

      I wonder tho – do you ever (EVER) have even a sliver of doubt about your evaluation? I mean, on some dark night once a year or so, do you wonder if maybe the world’s scientific establishment MIGHT just somehow turn out to be right after all? Are you 100% convinced that they are completely wrong – no error bars, no confidence intervals, just absolute unquestionably proven flat wrong? (Have you ever seen a real scientific study with integrity which had 100% confidence and zero error bars?) I mean, it’s not just the IPCC, it turns out that literally every significant scientific society and academy in the world, north/south, rich/poor, commie/pinko/capitalist, christian/moslem/shinto/buddhist/hindu/atheist has endorsed AGW after sometimes very significant study. This means that the many of the scientific reviewers are not Climate Scientists (but may be physicists in related fields for example), and thus will if anything lose some funding if it’s diverted to climate scientists instead of their specialty, so they are not simply following their personal self interest – unless it’s true and they live on the same planet where it’s happening that is. Is the chance that they will turn out in the end to be right after all really, really tiny, something which can be safely ignored? Is the large bulk of the world’s scientific system really that consistently and almost uniformaly stupid, or are they all in on the most massive and seamless conspiracy in human history to fake almost all relevant research from many fields to fit false conclusions?

      What probability would you give to the possibility that the IPCC could turn out to be basically right in the end? 0.0% 0.1% 1% 10%? And how high of a probability would you accept as “so low a chance that it’s safe to ignore it completely”? How did you arrive at those two numbers – with scientific rigor and integrity, or some other factor? If the possibility that the IPCC is right (first number above) were to rise above the second number (the threshold of needing a functionally adaptive behavior response for best probably outcome) in the future based on accumulated evidence, would you be willing to change your opinion accordingly?

      I’m really looking forward to seeing how those academic degrees granted in the 60’s were really worth something, in fostering real scientific rigor and integrity in your response. (Rather than just insults and distractions).

    • boz says:

      Pilmer? You mean the bloke with the scientific training who defended the cigarette industry claiming cigs didn’t cause cancer? You want me to take notice of him!?

  12. Mike says:

    1. facepalm
    2. facepalm
    3. double facepalm
    4. double double facepalm
    5. I will bother to explain this. When you have to rely on propaganda in a scientific argument than you have already lost because all it does is demonstrate that you have no scientific basis for your position.
    6. I don’t. I do however pay attention to what climatologists, atmospheric physicists and paleoclimatologists have to say. When you trot out the same garbage that not really a lord monckton trots out, well……

    Finally, the CO2 is plant food argument works really well in glasshouses where variables have been tightly controlled. However, in situ field trials have demonstrated that increased CO2 is detrimental to 5 out of 6 major food crops due to factors like soil nitrification and increased pests and disease and loss of fertility. The problem with deniers is they always trot out simplistic arguments due to either a failure to grasp the complexities or because its expedient to do so.

  13. Farmer Dave says:

    Are you a total idiot, or just being a pest?
    Facepalm????Sounds convincing.
    You, as usual, display the ignorance of someone who , as you put it, “trots out” throw away catch phrases without having even a basic understanding of the topic. Care to provide the evidence on your nonsense on the effects of CO2 on “soil nitrification(?)” and the connection you ascribe to soil fertility, pest & disease resistance? Seeing as you could not back up your previous claims, I expect nothing back but more blather.
    Facts are that increased crop energy levels provides greater resistance to disease & pest attack. Higher energy comes from higher brix levels which come from CO2 conversion. Incidentally, pests tend to seek out the poorer crops. As for soil fertility, you once again display ignorance. At the risk of another of your childish “facepalm” responses, go talk with Martin Staapper or at least read what soil fertility is all about.
    The best thing about your blog is the paucity of knowledge and lack of intelligence in your posts. This is congruent with the lies pedaled by the likes of Gore, Flannery and the pay for comment so-called “scientists” who have hitched their reputation to a fraudulent idea.
    Perhaps you might respond with something other than your usual crap.

  14. john byatt says:

    ” pests tend to seek out the poorer crops ”

    obviously not a farmer

    • Farmer Dave says:

      “Obviously not a farmer”. I’m afraid I must disappoint you.
      I am a farmer and also subscribe to biological farming principles which concentrate on soil health through stimulation of microbes, improved soil mineralogy etc. As for pests attacking weaker plants first, they do. Each living thing has a survival instinct; which ever species has the best defence/attack strategies, or both, wins the battle..assuming it has the energy to implement those strategies. The organism with the the most energy to fuel their defence or attack system wins the battle. Thus, pests and pathogens generally succeed in plant with lower energy levels and in poorer Health. Attackers will pick the weakeswt victim to better the chances of winning.
      What gave you the confidence to make judgement?

  15. Farmer Dave says:

    Like I said, I follow the biological farming model. No doubt it sounds a bit off, to you,but that is my choice. To call it pure nonsense is your call.

  16. Farmer Dave says:

    Rather than plant to plant..think paddock to paddock.

  17. Farmer Dave says:

    Or…farm to farm.

    • john byatt says:

      ““Attackers will pick the weakeswt victim to better the chances of winning.”

      “I mean the weakest paddock”

      “No i mean the weakest farm’

      think twice before calling someone an idiot dave


      • Gandalf says:

        You’ll never convince a loony like “farmer” dave that he’s wrong.
        The science of climate change has been proven over and over again. All the climate scientists are doing is adding to the proof.
        2013 was the hottest year on record.
        Jan 2014 so far is the hottest on record.
        Bushfire-prone Victoria and S.A. had their warmest winters on record in 2013.

  18. Mike says:

    John, I’ve given up. Since he mentioned something about plant pathogens I thought I’d quizz him a bit (I have about a decade or so working as a plant pathologist in various systems) but really trying to deal with these people is tiresome. They don’t understand when someone who actually knows the subject says “facepalm” to them because they are in the category of too stupid to know what they don’t know. Although, Dave if you are reading this, how about you tell me all about how plant pathogenic fungi actively select from farm to farm the weaker plants? For example, when ascospores are floating about everywhere and landing on every host plant available, are there differences in the effectiveness of the healthier plants to mount defences against the fungi? How do you know? We are of course talking about biological systems here since your 20 years of experience qualifies you to discuss all these things. Just so you know, I’ve tested hundreds and hundreds of biologicals and nutrient supplements on a wide variety of crops in a range of environmental conditions.

    • Farmer Dave says:

      Your insults are a clear indication of your fear. Deliberately “face palming” to indicate my “stupidity” is itself damming of yourself. You elected to ignore rather than respond to my questions on scientists, other than the IPCC clones. Care to comment on those I mentioned? Or is that too hard? I won’t lower myself to imply your ownership of stupidity but you might also give “checkable(?)” facts on funding of who you refer to as deniers. I would value your revelations on this.
      By the way the term “denier” is a fanciful, if not demonising, term. The only denier I can find reference to is a unit of weight to measure the fineness of fibres. Dissenters would be a more civil term, if you and your clique understand the meaning of the word.
      As for healthy soils yielding healthy plants, I don’t make claim of experience in this area. I do, however, respect the work of others I know who not only work in this area. That I chose to work with their ideas is, as I clearly pointed out, is my choice. As I see it there may be upside, but definitely little or no downside.
      Could my position in this field be a more honest representation than your position on AGW?

      Tell me, in all your testing of ” hundreds & hundreds of biologicals and nutrient supplements on a wide variety of crops in a range of environmental condition”.:
      1. Under whose auspices-es was this work performed?
      2. What did your work make of SC 27? be careful with your answer.

      As ever I look forward to you response and hold out hope that you may lift the integrity in you answers.

      • Mike says:

        Dissenter is a term I commonly use to describe someone with an educated opinion on the subject and qualifications in the area of discussion. It is a respectful term.

  19. john byatt says:

    It was me that had the twenty years in small crops mike, one of the first to put asian veg into brisbane markets early eighties,

    just anecdotal but had to let a large area of veg fend for themselves due lack of water one year and just concentrate on what i could

    dried out stunted ,slowly dying plants did not get one attack from the pests, like us they preferred the choicest, healthiest plants, bastards

  20. Mike says:

    oops. trying to do too many things at once. You may actually know my family John. I grew up in Glasshouse on a farm and my parents were very active in the QFVGA. I’d rather not give out my email in here but through my YT account maybe?

  21. john byatt says:

    Did not join Mike but my son would go to meetings when he was working with a well known farmer and long time member at Yandina, forget his name at present (thirty years ago)

    will ask him tomorrow,..son got out of farming, good move!

  22. Farmer Dave says:

    Still no response to valid questions, only derision. If you don’t wish to provide sensible answers, say nothing.

  23. Mike says:

    I am more than happy to provide sensible answers to sensible questions.

  24. Farmer Dave says:

    Obviously not.
    Keep the faith…that is all you have.
    Good Night and Good bye.

  25. Joe Stroud says:

    Six Aspects of Denial? Didn’t take too much imagination to put this list together, you just documented the Warmist, Alarmist playbook!

    It defines you perfectly and you couldn’t be any more hypocritical. I guess it must be frustrating that even after more than $100bil worth of promoting the AGW view of the role of Co2 in the climate, the majority of people aren’t convinced. Yet, the AGW-Alarmists don’t take responsibility for the failure of their argument. Instead of showing any respect to those still unconvinced, you pre-emptively denigrate them with the term “Denier (borrowing from the term associated with Holocaust Denial).” You do this to shut down debate and intimidate people.

    You share more in common with the Creationist, or any form of extremist.

    Why doesn’t the AGW alarmists eliminate the doubt by funding ALL science theories, instead of only those that support AGW?

    • Some people think a flat earth is a legitimate theory or that alchemy is worthy of study, funny that you aren’t arguing for serious money to be spent on these discredited ideas as well.

    • Zeph says:

      Joe, could you provide a reference for $100bil spent on “promoting the AGW view of the role of Co2 in the climate”? I assume you mean in advertising or adversarial “education” for the public? Seems a few orders of magnitude too high. I mean, that’s two orders of magnitude higher than is spend promoting candidate for the US president each year, and those efforts are pretty ubiquitous.

      If there’s that much going around, I know some blogs which could benefit greatly from 0.00001% of that amount. Where do we go for that windfall?

      More seriously, I assume you realize that scientists publishing real research in peer reviewed journals are not targeting “the majority of people” and the validity of their research is not well evaluated by that audience, and we don’t advance science by determining science fact at the ballot box.

      Also, you are incorrect – AGW is accepted by the majority of the people.

      (Of course, you might consciously or unconsciously assume that real humans only live inside the boundaries of the United States, and others don’t really count as people. There are certainly some Americans, I hope a minority, who have such unconscious attitudes. In the US, the results are mixed, depending on how you ask the question).

      By contract, let’s consider a more political and economic question which is more relevant to decision by “the majority of the people”. A majority of people support single payer health care – even in the US. This is a robust results across many polls over a number of years (overall the trend is upward) – despite rather obvious and well funded attempts to convince people otherwise for even longer than climate has been debated. By your logic, would this indicate that single payer health care is thereby scientifically validated as “better”, based on opinion polls? Or is that only relevant when you imagine “your side” is ahead, and irrelevant otherwise?

      It’s interesting that you call for showing respect for those who are undecided and criticize others on that basis. What would indicate respectful disagreement to you? Would you hold your own writing style as an example of how to show such respect, for the rest of us to emulate?

  26. mike says:

    oh the irony!

  27. Farmer Dave says:

    These guys are famous at being ignorant. Perhaps we should see their posts as ignore-rants.
    If you ask them to give details of any of their points, you will probably either be ignored, put down/off with playground tactics such as “face palm”, or just patronised.
    As for the term Denier, I suggest that we turn the issue around and accept the title and wear black armbands with a yellow “D”!
    This would perhaps give the true picture of what is really persecution of intelligent people who have the temerity to question dogma and received wisdom. Those who accept the shortcomings (ie dishonesty) of Jones et al and praise length of time in a job some sort of qualification, are a true example of those in denial.

    • Zeph says:

      I could agree that it’s worth discerning between scientific contrarians or dissenters, versus denialists. Scientific disagreement with the consensus, if stated in scientific terms and based on evidence – and in particular limited to what the evidence indicates – is NOT denial. There exist reputable scientific dissenters who publish scientific criticisms, as is appropriate in science. (Notice the s-word context here?)

      1) Here’s an example of a pro-AGW position. The 4th Assessment Report concludes that with 90% confidence, a majority (over 50%) of the observed warming can be attributed to various human causes. They go into great detail for how they derive these figures from a number of peer reviewed publications.

      2) Here’s an example of a dissentng position – one could present calculations which reduced either the portion attributed to human causes, or the confidence.

      3) Here’s a typical “denial” response – it is simply and undeniably true that humans cannnot possibly have anything to do with climate change. Denialists are not prone to numerancy, but in effect they often assert 100% certainty that 0% of warming (or so close to zero as not to matter) is caused by humans. They think in terms of firm certainties rather than probabilities. They have no calculations by which to arrive at numeric estimates, and do not review or cite the relevant published literature. They may if pressed point to some quote from somebody who agrees with them.

      There is a huge difference between #2 (dissent) and #3 (denial) and it would be unhelpful to use the same term for both positions.

      I think “skeptics” is not a useful word to use for one side of this (either side), as any good evaluator needs to be skeptical (ie: both #1 and #2 above), meaning that they consider pro and anti evidence as best they can in making a decison, rather than basing it on faith or ideology for example. For example, a handful of scientists have suggested cosmic rays as an alternative explanation for observed warming – this needs to be evaluated as skeptically as the greenhouse gas explanations.

      Because “denialist” can sound perjorative rather than neutrally descriptive, I believe it’s worth being sparing in the use of that label. However, there are times when it really does seem to apply.

      • Zeph says:

        Catweazle. I’m not sure why you reference an opinion piece about scientific consensus in replying to my post; perhaps because in the larger picture I’m suggesting that we find common terminology which is meaningful, so we can discuss the real issues rather than waste time with name calling and counter name calling. A common understanding of “consensus” might be useful as well.

        I believe that the confusion about “consensus” is due to a need for context. There are two contexts which are often selectively conflated, deliberately or accidentally.

        1) There is little need for determining a “consensus” WITHIN pure science. If you are studying the magnetic fields of Jupiter, what matters most is what your evidence and analysis show, not whether it agrees with the current majority opinion within your niche. In this regard one can say “consensus doesn’t matter (in pursuit of further research)”.

        2) If the results of scientific research are being considered to guide policies or actions OUTSIDE of science, and scientists are not 100% in agreement, then it is very appropriate and relevant to ask “what conclusions are most widely supported by the most qualified scientists for the subject matter?”. Maybe the most knowledgeable scientists in the relevant field are split 35-30-40% among three distinct conclusions (with a few outliers with still other conclusions), or maybe most working scientists in the field are in basic agreement. Before choosing among policies (and taking no action is a policy too!) it’s wise to figure out which is the case, and then choose your policy rationally using the best available advice derived therefrom. If you need to make a decision now about spacecraft orbits around Jupiter, you may want to get a sense of what most specialists in the field have currently concluded based on the best evidence to date. In this context, one can say “consensus does matter (in applying science to policy or decisions)”.

        Both of the concluding quotes above make good sense; only if you remove the parenthetical qualifiers they seem to be in conflict – “consensus doesn’t / does matter”. Unfortunately that context is often omitted, resulting in confusion and verbal exchanges which obscure rather than illuminate understanding.

        Back to climate.

        So, if one is publishing a paper analyzing paleoclimate proxies, one should be free to follow their data to whatever conclusion it leads, without worrying about a current “consensus”. In this context, “the science is settled (so well that no further research can be useful)” would make no sense.

        And if one is considering emission abatement programs, then these should be based on the best collective understanding of all experts in the relevant field, which could be expressed in some cases as a “consensus” (in other cases there may be no strong majority agreement). And in this context, it could make sense to say “the science is settled (well enough to guide policy)”. Remember, this could include a consensus that doing nothing is the best result, depending on the science – inaction is a policy too.

        This separation by context is NOT hard to understand or apply. Alas, some people accidentally or deliberately jump the context back and forth in order to try to win an argument, rather than to arrive at the truth.

        (There is a context where it gets somewhat trickier, which is deciding on the best allocation of finite research funds, if one wishes to waste as little as possible yet also support promising contrarians who seem to have a reasonable chance of changing the current consensus. Here the practice of doing new research intersects with decision making informed by existing science, and some balancing of risk needs to be made. Anti-AGW scientists do get some funding, as do cold fusion researchers, because they just might come up with something important – but most funding follows lines of research which seem most likely to bear fruit.)

        In this sphere of practicality, a new alternative theory or conclusion which contradicts a well supported current consensus rightly faces the challenge that it needs to explain the existing data as well as or better than the currently held theory or conclusion, to be taken seriously; and new data which seems to contradict well established data needs to be extra solid. If you think you have found faster than light neutrinos, you know that you are going to have to be rock solid in your evidence – not because of irrational dogma, but because other experiments have already shown that arrival times of neutrinos and EM radiation from remote sources is time correllated and thus the neutrinos from those sources do not seem to be exceeding the speed of light, so this result would need to be somehow explained too – not to mention relativity)

        A point which has been well made is that in all cases to date where a prevailing scientific consensus was successfully overturned, the challengers acknowledged the simple fact of the existing consensus, but used their evidence and analysis to provide a superior result when compared side by side. (I’ve yet to hear a counterexample). You don’t convince astronomers of a heliocentric solar system by bickering over whether most existing astronomers REALLY believe in the geocentric theory; you accept that and persuade them by presenting evidence they can verify.

        Those opponents of AGW on supposedly scientific grounds, who waste time trying to cast doubt upon whether there is an existing consensus, in place of simply providing a persuasive superior alternative, are not in any sense following the footsteps of the successful challengers of scientific consensus whose names we honor, but are instead following the path of the crackpots through history whose names we have rightly forgotten. Challenging the existence of a current consensus is a strong sign that the challenger doesn’t have the evidence and analysis sufficient to instead challenge the substance of that consensus.

        Separating the two contexts above (1 and 2) can help us sort through this tarpit of politically tainted argument which purports to be scientific, in regard to the word “consensus”.

      • Zeph says:

        (one of many typos – the above no-consensus example should be 35-30-30 not 35-30-40)

  28. mike says:

    Maybe a big yellow stripe down your back would be better, after all, wilful ignorance is akin to cowardice. You and your ilk are afraid of the facts but moreso, you are afraid that when everything the real scientists you casually disregard says comes to fruition you will be forced to admit you were wrong. The narcicists worst nightmare. You will have to dig the hole a little wider to fit your shoulders in too.

    By the way, derision is all you will get until you actually bother to educate yourself in the area in which you are commenting. First step would be to familiarise yourself with basic scientific conventions. Only then will you be taken at least a little bit seriously.

    • Unfortunately Farmer Dave gives forwardthinking farmers a bad name. There are many who are already planning ahead and changing practices as climate extremes affect production and/or the health of their stock. Unlike FD, they aren’t in denial.

  29. Farmer Dave says:

    Lovely response. Full of nuance, logic and grace.

    Poor deluded boy, you really have to do better than that if you want to be thought of as being clever or, by a long stretch, intelligent.
    Anyone who creates a blog such as yours, with all the credibility that a BA can bring to the table on issues of science, is probably crying out for the attention that they believe they deserve. Association with the currently adored is no substitute for interdependent thought based on reason.

    Bow to the masters of the universe little fella and you shall be thrown a bone from the table…. should your pitiful existence be acknowledged by the mighty.

  30. zoot says:

    Lovely response Farmer Dave, full of nuance, logic and grace.

  31. Mike says:

    oh the irony

  32. eden says:

    What sort of a title is watching the deniers? sounds like 1984 or a pack of nazis.

  33. raphaellanightfire says:

    An opposing view backed by equally qualified scrientists is by your definition pathological and any opposing viw to yours is by your definition, wrong. Please explain the hockey stick and discuss the credibility of those scientists.
    BTW, not all who question your science are deniers as is the common catchphrase-‘questioners’ would be more accurate. It may also surprise you that not all who ask questions rather than blindly following like sheep, are uneducated or unqualified. In the true spirit of knowledge, questioners are waiting for the consensus which the ‘true deniers’ seem to be determined to ignore.

    • Zeph says:

      See another post above for an attempt to describe scientific contrarians or dissenters as distinct from denialists. It’s true that there are people who question the accuracy of the consensus without being denialists; I imagine that some of the dissenters are embarrassed by the denialists trying to mis-use their scientific questioning as unreserved endorsement of whatever the denialist believes.

      I for one do NOT assume that anybody who questions the consensus is a denialist.

      I saw an interesting point elsewhere recently – in all other cases where a minority scientific position grew to displace the existing consensus, the minority nevertheless DID acknowledge the existing consensus (before presenting sufficient evidence to persuade scientists to change that consensus). Pick your example – continental drift, bat echolocation, relativity – in no case did scientists with the evidence to back their alternative need to deny the existance of the previous consensus. The current pretense by some that there is no scientific consensus on AGW is definitely NOT characteristic of an incipient scientific overturning, but more diagnostic of a political agenda trumping objectivity. That pretense that there is no consensus is one form of denialism. At this point, I would say that anybody who cannot accept that there is a solid scientific consensus (even if they disagree with it) is one of the flavors of denialist, holding their hands over their ears and saying “I caaann’tt heeeaar you”.

      (A few denialists also accept the existence of a consensus, and almost all scientific contrarians do – even if both disagree with it).

      If you are ready interested in the “hockey stick” issue, do a web search and you can find some very well done followups. Basically, a number of other groups have now reproduced similar results using other datasets, so the original Mann results appear to be reproducible and are generally holding up with the addition of more data, both signs of robustness in the science biz. If the detractors were right that Mann distorted his data (so far there is zero evidence of that and a good deal of evidence otherwise), then Mann must have been clairvoyant to tweak it in such a way that it would coincidentally match future results from other groups with other datasets. It seems rather more likely that the “hockey stick” is basically on the right track, give or take the normal adjustments and refinements that are part of good science. A more recent paper regarding statistical esoterica has argued for expanded error bars on the pre-instrumental record portion based on proxies (the long hockey stick), but did not question the instrumental record portion (which includes the uptick); and this paper may in turn be appropriately criticised in coming months.

  34. raphaellanightfire says:

    An opposing view backed by equally qualified scrientists is by your definition pathological and any opposing viw to yours is by your definition, wrong. Please explain the hockey stick and discuss the credibility of those scientists.
    BTW, not all who question your science are ‘deniers – ‘questioners’ would be more accurate. It may also surprise you that not all who ask questions rather than blindly following like sheep, are uneducated or unqualified. In the true spirit of knowledge, questioners are waiting for the consensus which the ‘true deniers’ seem to be determined to ignore.

  35. Mike : I personally would reverse the order of your six points. I think most deniers truly believe points 6 and 5 with genuine passion.They then employ points 4 to 1, more or less conscious that they are grossly exaggerating, but do so out of desperation for some tool to turn back this ‘tide’ they feel is engulfing them.
    I know it is traditional for most anti-deniers to focus on points 1 to 4, but that tends to lead us to underestimate the passion and commitment these denier people bring to the battle.
    The Earth will never survive by us underestimating the numbers and the passion of our opponents.

  36. […] from the climate change debate HomeBest of WtDEvidence LibraryAboutSix Aspects of Denial Jul 20 2012 Leave a comment By Watching the Deniers Anthony Watts, Bullshit, Climate change […]

  37. Still with the disastrous cool summer North America had this year maybe the global warming/climate change bods will be very silent on the subject. Oh wait…

  38. bexcobham says:

    I don’t think people are really examining the reasons behind climate change denial. There are obviously wealthy and powerful people who have vested interests in this, but what about ‘normal’ people who are in denial?

    I suspect it is down to people becoming jaded and suspicious of politicians, science and the media. Unfortunately, I tried to make this point in an online discussion about climate change and was instantly branded a denier! To be totally honest, I don’t blame people for losing faith in our ‘leaders’. I am from the UK and our government tells us how important it is to meet carbon targets, yet tries to weasel out of commitments at every opportunity. What are people meant to think when they are constantly getting mixed messages like this?

    The science is almost irrelevant, because fossil fuels are a finite resource and things have to change. I suspect the reasons for people’s climate change denial are political and also emotional. We should try and understand where these people are coming from if we are to successfully address this issue.

    • Zeph says:

      Good points.

      One piece may be weaker science education, and less training in critical thinking. There is also a longstanding trend in American culture to think that every opinion is equally meaningful (to give “experts” more weight is elitist), and more recently this seems to have expanded to treat facts as “just somebody else’s opinion”.

      It’s well known that the political polarization of the issue distorts people’s ability to be objective. And it’s well enough documented that some well funded interested parties are paying to “get the message out”, including the well known tactic of FUD campaigns. (It’s relatively easy to foster Fear Uncertainty and Doubt).

      There are individual psychological factors – see confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, and the Dunning Kruger effect. A recent study found correlation between belief in free markets (and/or a tendency to believe conspiracy theories) and anti-scientific approaches to climate change. Another study found that people’s position on climate change affected how they perceived local weather (eg: “have the summers been getting hotter in recent years?”) – people who disbelieve in human caused climate change tend to discount changes in temperature as shown by local instruments, but are more objective about precipitation which has been less politically charged; it appears that they are unconsciously trying NOT to perceive even objective local changes (whether those changes are caused by global warming or otherwise).

      I believe (without evidence) that the implications of climate change (and the fear of lifestyle changes needed to address it) can easily be overwhelming, and that denial is an obvious potential coping mechanism. My own take is that humans are NOT directly wired to address threats to their wellbeing; instead they are wired to try to find ways to reduce the anxiety and discomfort which a perceived threat invokes in them. One way to reduce that anxiety is to take effective actions to reduce the threat – but if that’s hard to do, another way to reduce the discomfort is to convince oneself that it isn’t really such a threat after all so we can relax and focus on other things. In the long run, reality feedback favors the former approach as more survival positive. Unfortunately, a lot of lives are on the line as that reality feedback gears up to bite our species on the butt.

      Given all that – maybe “successfully addressing this issue” of denialism needs to include something more positive and attractive – some prescription which offers an optimistic way out of the mess. Some way for people to grasp and accept the size of the problem we face without despairing – yet which is scientifically grounded and feasible. Some try to do that, with the idea of green technology and jobs which could sustain an economic boost at the same time as it reduces our greenhouse gas emissions.

  39. […] you tack this information on to Mike’s Six Aspects of Denial at Watching the Deniers you get a complete picture of what these idiots are like. I’ve […]

  40. catweazle666 says:

    Sorry to rain on your parade Watermelons but the empirical instrumental data shows you to be misled.

    According to RSS satellite lower troposphere, Met Office Hadley Center sea surface and global surface temperature databases, warming ceased in 1997 and the climate has been cooling since 2001.

    • uknowispeaksense says:

      Sorry to rain on your parade WIG,but you are an idiot. How about instead of going to a back of the envelope plot your own graph blogsite, you go to some reputable sites and have a proper look. For example, you could got to the United Kingdom’s Met office.

      • catweazle666 says:

        Perhaps if you were to inspect the WfT site slightly more closely instead of just firing off a kneejerk ad hom attack on anyone who questioned your religious belief, you would have noticed that the graphs I offered were in fact drawn from data published on the very site you link to, the Met Office Hadley Centre sea surface temperature database – perhaps you would like to compare the data yourself, assuming you are capable of downloading data, inserting it into a spreadsheet and invoking a graphing facility – and were to considerably higher resolution that the offering in your link.

        Should you be capable of so doing – which I seriously doubt – you would find that the global sea surface temperature since 1997 has indeed behaved as I described.

        Incidentally the WoodforTrees site is not a blog, it is a highly regarded facility within the climate science community, and frequently referred to by both sides of the debate at all levels. But as you are not a member of that fraternity, I don’t expect you to be familiar with it.

        So that’s a fail, son.

        Like to have another try?

    • Zeph says:

      Try this – rather than using a cherry picked start date handed to you, go to the website change the start date (on all series) to, say,1982 (to get the conventional 30 year average often used for sifting climate from weather). What trend do you see then? If you think I made up the 30 year figure, throw some dice and add 25 and use that many years.

      Looking at the 30 year graph, it’s pretty obvious that we don’t need to wait until 2001 to show that climate stopped warming – by this approach we can show that it “stopped” rising long ago, say 1988 – 1996 (if you don’t like those years, I can show you some others). Oops, then it jumped again as ENSO phase shifted. It keeps looking like it’s slowing, stopping or reversing – for a short while. That’s called weather, and it does indeed vary both ways on short time spans. Climate needs to be viewed on longer timespans.

      And so I can also pick a time period which shows that the IPCC is obviously covering up the true magnitude of the temperature rise, which my selected range will show to be much faster than the IPCC will admit. I bet you could pick such a time range too, if that’s what you wanted to “prove”.

      Basically, by cherry picking the endpoints of a timespan which is too short to separate climate signals from weather noise, you can generate a wide range of slopes depending on what you want to “prove”. The longer the time period, the harder it gets to cherry pick start and stop years to get whatever you want, tho – the climate change signal begins to genuinely emerge from the noise of short term variabilty.

      If viewing a selected time period of duration well known to be statistically inadequate convinces you that climate is cooling now, I have a miraculous image of the virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich to sell you next (Or Elvis – will create said miracle to order).

      If you don’t buy the cherry picking, then my advice would be to check very, very carefully any other good deals the same dealer offers you. Somebody is trying to pull the wool over your eyes with a presentation which is perhaps visually compelling to the statistical newbie, but which has been thoroughly debunked many times over – and the seller *should* have already known that. Some purveyors of the “cooling since 2001” graph may well have honest intentions rather than being intentionally deceptive, but in any case they are not reliable sources of quality information.

      What’s fun about these things is that on other climate discussion forums, opponents of AGW will often say “nobody questions the warming any more, only the anthropogenic part – the idea that anybody says climate is cooling is a strawman invented by warmers to slander their opponents”. The opponents of AGW constantly contradict each other, but I have yet to see any of them hold other AGW opponents to the same standards. I’m sure some opponents somewhere must take other opponents to task, but it must be rare. (By contrast, real scientists are constantly critiquing each other’s work on AGW details even if they share similar overviews – their goal is advancing science, not forming purely political alliances).

      The pro and anti AGW sides will never have similar credibility until some group of AGW opponents “clean house” and consistently debunk the rubbish that many other AGW opponens proclain as thoroughly as they attack AGW – using scientific arguments within the scientific process. Until then even individually serous scientific contrarians are going to be somewhat marginallized by the company they keep. So long as they hang out in dumps where any kind of scientific rubbish is treated as respectable so long as it differs from AGW, they will be perhaps correctly seen as politically biased and motivated and their credibility as objective expert evaluators of information will be suspect.

  41. uknowispeaksense says:

    With all due respect WIG, although I don’t proclaim to be an Excel Expert, I am more than capable of cherrypicking a few data points that suit my argument. I can show an upward trend, a downward trend, a level trend, but I’m not going to do that because its dishonest. All you have done is ignore the long term trend to suit your side of the “debate”. How about you go back and plot the data from 1970 or 1950 and start looking at long term trends which is of course what real scientists do and deniers don’t.
    A little tip too son, if you don’t want to attract ad hom attacks, don’t begin your comments with namecalling.

  42. uknowispeaksense says:

    Further, you state, “Incidentally the WoodforTrees site is not a blog, it is a highly regarded facility within the climate science community, and frequently referred to by both sides of the debate at all levels.”

    Having access to large journal databases, I did a citation search of the peer reviewed climate literature and guess how many citations appeared? Go on, have a guess.

    • catweazle666 says:


      I made no mention of peer reviewed papers. Try again.

      The databases from which the WfT data are drawn are the official SASA, NOAA, GISS, Hadley Centre etc.

      As for your comment about ad hom attacks, you lost all claim to polite address when you referred to anyone who disagrees with your personal beliefs as “deniers”, and thus forfeited any claim to respect as a scientist.

  43. catweazle666 says:

    I’ve made my point.

    The fact that you don’t wish to acknowledge reality does not affect it’s validity.

    The Earth’s temperature ceased to increase around 1997, and has been decreasing since around 2001.

    As it is currently dominated by the negative phase of a ~60 year harmonic, it will continue to decrease for ~15 years, and will then revert to warming.

    Meanwhile, there is a background trend of ~0.5 deg C per century, probably the positive phase of a ~1000 year harmonic that was responsible for the Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods.

    The effect of atmospheric CO2 – although it contributes to the overall warming – is as a result of the logarithmic relationship, no longer capable of significant effect.

  44. uknowispeaksense says:

    You referred to the “climate science community”. The single most important method used by any scientific community to communicate information is through peer reviewed papers.

    They are not just my personal “beliefs”. It is evidence accepted by the vast majority of climate scientists and by every major scientific organisation in the world.

    “Denier” isn’t meant as an insult. It is a statement of fact. If you deny that the overwhelming evidence is incorrect then you are a denier. However, the fact that I do accept the overwhelming evidence does not automatically make me a “watermelon”. I am actually a swinging voter and vote for whichever side of politics I feel is offering the best policies for my country at the time. I don’t need to attach myself to political ideologies as I am able to think for myself. You, however, by using the term “watermelon” show quite clearly that you are in fact an idealogue, ready to swallow any garbage dribbled out by your leaders.

    As for your back of the envelope “science” letme know when you get that published…..oh that’s right……..

  45. catweazle666 says:

    Sunshine, I was practising science when you were no more than a glint in your daddy’s eye – in fact in all probability when HE was no more than a glint in your granddaddy’s eye, so keep your science lectures until the ink on your bit of paper has dried a bit.

    You know damn well what your use of the term ‘denier’ implies, it implies that you are frightened of us, and you can rationalise all you want. Go check any psychology textbook. And while you’re at that, look up argumentum ad populum, that seems to be a concept you could do with familiarising yourself with too.

    That is why I commenced my contribution by referring to you as Watermelons, you forfeited any claim to respect when you described me as a denier, when you use a statement like “they don’t like being called deniers but…” you make it very clear right from the outset that you intend it to be insulting, that is undeniable.

    And you’re frightened of us because you suspect you are not on such firm ground as you try to make out.

    Why do you think that for the fine words, all the major industrialised nations are kicking the CO2 abatement into touch as fast as they can? All your big junkets in posh resorts – 50,000 Warmists flew to Rio, for example, and achieved SFA, and Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban too. Canada pulled the plug on Kyoto, as did Japan. The USA, China, Russia etc. were never interested to start with.

    The pendulum is swinging, support for and belief in your delusion is dropping like a brick down a well – and one reason for that is your increasingly fanatical outburst, whichn win you no friends. To return to the epithet ‘denier’, Joe Romm has spoken about its use and there was an interesting debate over its use in a paper published in ‘Nature’. Consensus seems to be, calling people names is a bad idea that doesn’t win you support.

    • Zeph says:

      I’m not quite understanding you. Do you deny AGW or not? If you do, is “denier” inaccurate?

      Oh well, if it bothers you I for one am glad to avoid using that term for you; no point in distracting from the science issues by that. How about neutrally calling you an opponent of AGW? Can we both agree that only those with weak data need to resort to deliberate name calling (ie: after learning about how a given person interprets the terms that is).

      I would agree that “calling people names is a bad idea ha doesn’t win you support” – and this is true whether or not you believe somebody called you names first (remember that there are multiple other readers who did not call you names, and its their support you want to win!). Do you disagree with Joe on that point, or is winning support not of interest to you, or did your temper just get away with you temporarily? That (temper) happens on both sides, so I’d like to let that go and start afresh.

      Are you capable of staying relatively objective for a discussion of science and statistics, without name calling or imputation of motives, etc from either side? Want to give it a shot?

      Let’s see if we can go over the math of this and come to some consensus reality on just that one point – your assertions regarding climate cooling since 2001. “Since 2001” logically means up through 2012, or as close as the instrumental record allows, right?

      Remember that I don’t know your scientific background yet. If something I ask sounds “patronizing” to you, please accept my apologies in advance and understand the limitations of the medium – just assume the best and answer straightforwardly and we can avoid getting mired in emotional sensitivities and reactions and stay with the science. At this stage I think it best for both of us to lightly cover the incremental steps of our reasoning, rather than to take large jumps based on unconfirmed assumptions about what the other already knows.

      I assume that you realize that with a carefully chosen start and end point, one can get a huge range of slopes from selected short spans of noisy data, right? Do we need to demonstrate that for you, or did your scientific training cover that?

      To avoid that problem, how many years of data do you calculate to be required to establish a statistically significant trend in climate data, and what statistical or mechanistic justification do you have? If you’ve done any homework on climatology you are probably aware of the 30 year convention; if your calculations differ from that, could you explain?

      Are you aware of the difference between raw data and ENSO compensated data? (You do understand the large effects of ENSO on short term temperature trends, right?) Should I assume you have already investigated what ENSO phase the years of the trend period represent before assigning them significance, or not?

      You said to your last discussant “And you’re frightened of us because you suspect you are not on such firm ground as you try to make out.”. I can assure you that I am feeling no such fear or suspicion (tho I do know that I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again, and this COULD be one of those times, I suspect otherwise and in any case do not fear that). Do you feel likewise?

      I believe that we can take this reasoning step by step to some very objective mathematical conclusions in contradiction to your core assertion and I’m willing to do that cleanly. I can also assure you that I will be more than a little fascinated if you can bring up some scientific or mathematical aspect of this question of which I am unaware – that’s how I learn and perhaps you are a master of this science (as I say, I don’t know your training yet).

      I am willing to use only logic, mathematics and science in this discussion, and I have no need to slip into name calling or other tactics to distract from the science aspects because I will know I have some strong arguments.

      If you are truly confident of the science and mathematics behind your assertion, let’s get started with the questiona above. This should be fun.

      If on the other hand you might not be capable of admitting your error, no matter how solid the arguments I present, then you can feel free to try to distract the discussion onto non-scientific grounds – call me names, or act insulted, or just disappear and avoid responding at all.

      If at the end your logic and mathematics are more solid than mine, I will have learned something and I will admit it.

      Are you ready to put up or shut up, scientifically speaking (friendly grin)? The opening scientific questions are above.

  46. uknowispeaksense says:

    “Consensus seems to be, calling people names is a bad idea that doesn’t win you support.”

    You mean like “watermelons”?

    A glint in my grandaddy’s eye? Well that explains it. You probably should go and have a Nanna nap old man and I’ll call Guiness because that would make you 120 years old by my reckoning but given your many many many years and infinite experience in “practising science” you must have an impressive publishing record and will no doubt be publishing on the topic of climate change in the near future?

    “argumentum ad populum”? What is it with deniers and a dead language? It doesn’t actually make you sound intelligent, at least not to me. Vos operor non sanus callidus ut usura vegrandis secui lingua. Vos perceptum universitas lingua. Verba vestra carent scientia. Horum errorum applicandum est infirma substituunt pro scientia. See, I can do it too. That was in reference to your propaganda. Don’t expect Google translate to be much help. It’s hopeless at deciphering Latin but since you seem to speak Latin it shouldn’t be a problem for you.

  47. Thomson says:

    Deniers 1
    Watermelons 0.

  48. Rodger says:

    My walk towards being a skeptic went like this. When I first heard about the hockey stick, I said what happened to the medieval warm period? What happened to the little ice age? My belief in climate change made me reject the hockey stick! The climategate e-mails neatly explained why the “science” didn’t make sense. When the Russians released their climate data, as a mental exercise I set out to reproduce the graphs using all of the data. I learned how the data was manipulated. I got a graph that was in the middle between the Alarmists and the Russians who compensated for the heat island effect. This was just what I expected to get if, as accused, the alarmists were relying on data that accentuated the heat island effect. I have been following Steve McIntyre’s blog. He has been able to find flaws in the peer reviewed articles, which the “climate scientists” begrudgingly admit to once in a while. This speaks volumes about the broken peer review process in climate science. In physics openness in methods and access to data is a hallmark of good science. In climate science hiding data and methods is routine. To my total dismay I’m beginning to see climate science attitudes invading other areas of scientific endeavor. I’m seeing politics invade science; scientists writing politically correct but meaningless papers. Scientists with vested interests in specific research results. Scientists grovelling for funds and being dishonest about the applications of their research to get grants.

    • john byatt says:

      This reads more like a walk towards conspiracy theory Rodger, What papers have you read that made you a denier of the science, would be far more telling than this load of twaddle that you write

    • Zeph says:

      At the time when you rejected the hockey stick based on not seeing the Medieval Warm Period or the Little Ice Age, were you of the impression that these were known to be established global trends versus regional ones? Did you research that distinction before concluding that the science was wrong, or afterwards?

      Do you consider your graph analysis to be of publishable quality? Are you fairly confident that it would not be shown to be in error if you submitted it?

      Are you really asserting that the released e-mails provided a sufficient explanation for you? If so, it’s possible that your initial “skepticism” jumped the rails into conspiracy dynamics at that point and that your further investigations were tainted by confirmation bias (as a hypothesis to consider, not asserted as a fact).

      Because by today you would need to explain how other groups with other data have fairly well reproduced Mann’s “hockey stick”, and the easiest way is to cope with that new evidence is to assume a nearly seamless global conspiracy to cook the data. The cool thing about that approach is that it can explain anything, and needs no ongoing evidence, mechanism, reality checking. Conspiracies allow unbounded extrapolation from limited data points – “gee, X appears to have happened in one place, so I need no further evidence to assume that Y and Z and W are all happening as well, where I get to specify any Y, Z and W needed to fill in the gaps of my predetermined theory”. It all makes sense now! All the pieces not only fit together, they fit together perfectly!

      Actually critiquing the various published articles on proxy based climate reconstructions with analysis worthy of publication would be a whole lot more work, when “the climategate emails can explain away anything and everything which is inconvenient to my current beliefs”.

      Oh, here’s another handy application. If your graph of “all the data” which fell between the “alarmists” and the Russians isn’t accepted for peer review, it must be because of climategate. It couldn’t be because you failed to read and take into account the other papers which analyze heat island effects in some detail.

      Really, if climategate explained it all for you, then you are set for life and need never again worry about having your favored theories challenged by inconvenient contrary evidence.

      I’m not saying that you will use climategate to extrapolate way beyond the evidence, only that it’s going to be a temptation, if “being right” in an argument (or at least in your own mind) is of high importance to you.

      Politics has indeed invaded science. Think you that it’s on but one side?

      By the way, I do agree that there has been a lack of full transparency in climate science that needs to be addressed. Luckily we are not alone in that, and many climate scientists agree (even those supporting AGW). So that condition seems to be gradually improving – more raw data and more software are being released, which is good for all of us. So far, no smoking guns – each release has been pored over by opponents of AGW seeking major flaws they have assured us must exist, only to fall silent without apology when they fail to find them. I hope that eventually all relevant data and software will be released for open review when results are published; where there really is shoddy science or deception it needs to be fixed, period – whether the author supports or opposes AGW or takes no position. But I predict that AGW opponents will continue to be highly disappointed and that the new openness will strengthen AGW rather than torpedo it. Luckily there’s still the seamless global scientific conspiracy to explain it all, for those whose conclusions are pre-determined.

      • uknowispeaksense says:

        Zeph, I’ve pinched this response for comment of the day at my blog.

      • catweazle666 says:

        But I predict that AGW opponents will continue to be highly disappointed and that the new openness will strengthen AGW rather than torpedo it.

      • Rodger says:

        OK let’s get something straight. Do I believe in AGW? Yes. Do I believe that it is bad to consume fossil fuels with wild abandon? Yes. Am I doing something about it? Yes. For example my bicycle has about 2,000 miles on it this year alone. Do I believe that we should be better environmental stewards? Yes. Do I believe that climate scientists have exaggerated the amount of global warming? Yes. Do I believe that scientists have been pressured/bribed to provide misleading information by private interests? Yes.

        My first physics teacher told me: “Don’t believe anything that I tell you.” He then said “I will prove everything”. That statement shocked me, but in the end he was right. People are surprised at how skeptical I am about many things. I have answered many times that I don’t have an opinion about a certain topic because I have not studied the evidence. A friend of mine told me that the Apollo Moon landings were faked. He started rattling off all of the evidence from a TV show he watched. Rather than dismissing it out of hand which I was tempted to do, I found the “evidence” and carefully attempted to understand what was being said. Then and only then did I reject the “evidence” having understood why they believed what was said, and understanding the flaws in their arguments.

        In my own scientific philosophy, I had to reject the hockey stick, because I was unable to prove that it was true.

        Is the graph that I created publishable? I guess so. Does it matter? Probably not. I did it for my own benefit, partly because it was fun to do, and I was skeptical that the oldest temperature readings were of any value. It was an incredible learning experience. I suggest that if you know a programming language that you try to do the same thing. There is something really satisfying about an exercise like that, when you understand in detail what is going on, and end up with a better comprehension of the problems of doing statistics.

      • Zeph says:

        Rodger, you say “Do I believe that scientists have been pressured/bribed to provide misleading information by private interests? Yes.”

        Could you elaborate on this? Do you envision that (almost) all climate scientists around the world have been pressured/bribed by the same global entity, or that there are a variety of independent entities doing the pressuring/bribing but that (almost) all of them are pressuring in the same direction?

        The other thing which has puzzled me, and upon which you may be able to shed some light, is why scientists who are not personally researching climate (tho they may be researching sufficiently related physics, modeling, etc) and who have served on the review panels of various scientific societies and national academies, would agree to support the climate scientists? Presumably they are intelligent enough to know that if science funding is diverted to climate science, then it’s likely that there will be less to spread among other branches. Are they receiving threats that their say, astrophysical research, will receive more drastic cuts as punishment if they don’t endorse AGW, than it will if they do endorse it? Or do they receive “under the counter” personal bribes that will more than compensate them for any diverted scientific funding? Or what? I don’t yet understand a plausible mechanism for convincing so many non-climate scientists around the world (on review panels, charged by their academies or societies with taking the time to investigate and report) to endorse conclusions which appear to be against the funding interests of their own research niches.

        Do you know or suspect yet who the entity/entities doing the pressuring/bribing are? Governments? Select corporations? Rich individuals? The UN?

        What benefit (commensurate to the expense and risk of exposure) do you see the entity (or entities) as gaining from that massive pressure/bribery effort?

        If the scientists of the world can be so easily bribed/pressured, do you think there exist any private interests who might wish to pressure them to bias their results in the other direction (minimizing rather than exaggerating)? Can you hypothesize any way in which those interests might benefit from bribing/pressuring scientists to downplay the effects of AGW? If so, why has this potentially bribing/pressuing source been so spectacularly less successful – all around the world – than the sources who would bribe/pressure scientists to exaggerate their results?

        I have an experiment which would be interesting. Suppose you announce your intention of publishing your graph which validates the hypotheses that the alarmists have exaggerated their results. How long do you think it will be before you personally are contacted to be pressured or bribed into exaggerating your results instead? Consider it a honeypot test, to find out more about the mechanisms by which your hypothesized bribery/pressure operates. Given how pitifully few scientists (as a percentage) are able to publish non-misleading results, the mechanisms by which they are bribed or coerces must be fairly ubiquitous, and your change of a ‘hit’ should be fairly high. (I mean, the current scientific consensus would be much different if the private interests providing the consistently biased bribes/pressures failed to make arrangement with even a quarter of the relevant scientists and thus accidentally allowed them to publish the undoctored truth, right?)

    • Zeph says:

      Rodger, your self description seems to be of a moderate dissenter who is persuadable by facts and solid analysis. You accept AGW and believe we need to take actions, but you think the current mainstream analyses are exaggerated, right? I think of myself as a being persuadable by facts and solid analysis as well. I am so far skeptical of your results, but in the same way that you probably would have been if you were reading them from somebody else, before you came to your current conclusions – and so I’m willing to listen and learn.

      “as a mental exercise I set out to reproduce the graphs using all of the data. I learned how the data was manipulated. I got a graph that was in the middle between the Alarmists and the Russians who compensated for the heat island effect. This was just what I expected to get if, as accused, the alarmists were relying on data that accentuated the heat island effect.”

      This was in a paragraph which began with the “hockey stick” and MWP/LIA but I don’t believe that’s the “graphs” you mean, right? Which specific graphs did you set out to reproduce (can you give a URL)? Could you show us the three graphs which you felt confirmed your hypotethesis (“alarmists”, “Rodger”, and “Russians”)?

      When you say you learned how the data was manipulated, I assume you mean you learned the methods by which it had been analyzed (rather than that you learned how to falsely distort data). What language did you use? In a spirit of openness, would you be willing to share your code and data for review? None of us is perfect, and it would be a shame if it turned out that you had made a mistake, and that the intermediate results you found convincing were based on that, right? As an honest skeptic, I would think that you would welcome some external review “just in case”.

      Believe me no this – I’m truly interested, not just trying to put you down. I would like to either reproduce your results, or know why not. I will feel more disappointed than triumphant if you respond with a variant of “the dog ate my homework” or “I have a marvelous proof which is too large to wring in the margin” because I would really, truly like to run your code and plot the three graphs for myself, then look under the hood to learn more.

      I can arrange an FTP upload/download site (or equivalent) if you do not have access to one; if you are a competent programmer tho I suspect you can do your own upload and just provide a URL for downloading a zip of the code and data.


  49. […] at Watching the Deniers, Zeph made the following comment in response to a denier. There is no need for me to post the […]

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