Just like climate scientists and Hillary Clinton, we at cliscep sometimes chat in private. We express different viewpoints, disagree, go off-topic, try to find points in common. In this one, I’ve cut out a lot of digressions by me, Paul, Ian and Richard, to leave the meaty debate between Ben and Brad. Poor Professor Hulme got quickly left behind, but his article should be consulted for context.
Mike Hulme has a not very interesting article at the Conversation
Geoff, In the interests of creating a Conversation, I’m going to disagree! I thought the Hulme article was quite interesting, (relative to the usual diet of worms at the Constipation), particularly the acknowledgement that the Climate Change movement is ideological and that there’s more to explain about climate scepticism than well funded industry lobbyists.
Paul, any idea whose comment was deleted?
I agree with Paul about Hulme’s article.
Hulme does the readability of his article no favors with this line:
“How climate change is believed in or denied, how it is acted upon or resisted, can only be understood at the level of much deeper beliefs people hold about themselves and about how the world is and should be.”
Note the denial that There Is No Such Thing As Climate Change Denial, followed by the deeper-beliefs-and-values fantasy (or rationalization for failed climate evangelism), capped off by a link to one of the most insultingly cretinous pieces of offal offered up by The Colliloquy in the climate wars to date.
Why even read further? You guys are Gandhi to forgive a paragraph like that.
I think it makes sense, though what confounds the point is that Hulme doesn’t go deep enough into ‘deeper beliefs’… He talks about the reaction to ‘globalism’ – in the senses of both globalism as an ideology’ and the reaction to it as an ‘ideology’ – but not about the immediacy of that reaction. He says ‘globalism’, but people don’t actually have tangible relationships with ‘isms’. Even the angriest eco-Social Justice Warrior has internalised the -isms as demons. And nobody starts out their journey to climate scepticism by embracing the -ism, but by wind farms, high energy prices, or shock at officials’ and/or scientists’ intransigence.
I think the reference that offends you Brad is Hulme offering his disapproval — it’s far more pointed than the ref to Alt-Market. The point being that Maslin (who is a 1st order ****) resists what Hulme says would shed light on ‘why we disagree about climate change’. Hulme says Maslin wants to say how the world should be on his own terms, without a thought for negotiation. That’s a big deal since Maslin is a colleague.
“That’s a big deal since Maslin is a colleague.”
I guess that’s why I assumed he wasn’t throwing hits Maslin’s way disapprovingly. Given the a priori unlikelihood of such a professional discourtesy, which as you say would be a “big deal” if true, I guess I’d need to see extraordinary evidence first—like, say, an explicit bus-throwing rank-breaking on Hulme’s part. Instead what we get is lip service to the Deeper Beliefs and Values that dovetail fairly comfortably into Maslin’s pathetic excuse for “not debating science with deniers.”
(The real reason being, of course, that Maslin is borderline scientifically-illiterate, even in his “own field” of biology, and would get his ass handed to him [again] if he made the mistake of debating science with us [again]. It must have been humiliating for a climate evolutionist to be reminded by a mere rocket scientist like Rand Simberg that, no, h. sapiens didn’t in fact evolve from the great apes.)
As for the Deeper Beliefs and Values theory, I believe it’s what scientists would call Not Even Right.
To be sure, it probably has explanatory power in terms of answering the question: what factors lower a person’s threshold for climate conviction, or raise their climate gullibility to put it another way.
But as for explaining or predicting denial, it… doesn’t.
I “know” this, to the extent that we can “know” any theory has been broken, because (among other disproofs), I have a childhood friend with whom I share every “deeper belief and value” you care to name. But he jets off to climate-mitigation conferences (non-ironically), while I blog about what a crock of shit they are. The only difference between us? I mean, literally the only important difference? While I was getting a Science degree, he was getting a Law degree.
Other disproofs might include the two-word argument “Freeman Dyson.” Or “Stephen McIntyre.”
“As for the Deeper Beliefs and Values theory, I believe it’s what scientists would call Not Even Right.”
It’s quite straightforward. If you take the conservative conception of the rugged individual, for instance — no matter the de/merits of the archetype — it follows that he is less vulnerable to the whims of nature than the individual conceived of by ecological holists, who believe him to be inter/dependent on X/YZ/Gaia, as part of a delicately balanced ‘system’, rather than on his own wits/agency, per the conservative individual type. And of course, the interdependency idea is portable, which is why perhaps so many disoriented leftoids joined the green movement, which had barely a generation earlier been the domain of contemporaneously disoriented, more traditional conservatives (the postwar boom and bust, etc, leaving them unable to make sense of the world without recourse to their own mythology). And all shades of grey and historical context between, natch.
Of course, the scientist says it’s all for nought until we can somehow turn this into a prediction, or into some tangible equation. Which is to miss the point that the value in offering the explanation is to provoke a better account of… erm… History. One thing is more sure than the observation that all history is not even right is that ruling out historical explanations is even more wrong.
Your lawyer pal simply has had no call to question that which, after all, pays the bills. Why would he?
“It’s quite straightforward.”
Ben, your “quite straightforward” passage that follows is, I hasten to admit, a cogent account of how most people think about the climate narrative. I’m more interested in how people who can actually think think, that’s all 🙂
To put it less flippantly: arguendo, let’s put to one side the vast bulk of humanity who make their mind up emotively, party-politically and relatively thoughtlessly, and focus only on the edge cases in which honest, well-informed, intelligent persons grapple with the question “You do believe in the science, don’t you, or are you one of those science deniers?” If we do so, we will still be left with an apparent paradox. Namely, we will find that the centrist Christopher Hitchens is/was a Believer (not to mention my lawyer pal, whom you haven’t met), while lefties like Freeman Dyson and Stephen McIntyre are the darlings of Denial.
Perhaps I’m being overly “scientific” about what ought to be treated as a sociological puzzle, but as far as I’m concerned (the way my momma taught me to evaluate a theory), a single exception disproves the rule.
In other words, if you can’t explain (or if you mis-predict) the climate alignments of a single pair of prominent thinkers, then you can’t explain or predict anything.
Well, you can—you can probably even account for the vast majority of people’s alignments! But those people are thought followers, not thought leaders. So they’re relatively uninteresting to me. If the first-hand thinkers didn’t disagree about climate change, then the second-hand thinkers wouldn’t either. So to understand the latter without understanding the former is to solve the symptom, not the etiology.
To your first, Brad… The climate descends to science. It’s not the science as such which is at fault with ideas like ‘dangerous climate change’ thresholds, or impact assessments that presuppose society’s (/individuals’) dependence on natural process, which evaporate at precisely 1.49999999 degrees C (or 1.99999999 degrees C). The Science of 1.5 degrees *might* be sound while the notion of the threshold is batshit mad. Ditto with any impact projection. For e.g. my ‘favourite’ projection, which is deaths from diseases of poverty. In 2002, the WHO estimated 150,000 deaths p.a. were caused by climate change’s impact on these diseases, rising to N thousand by the year x, but 10,000 fewer infants died from these conditions per day by the end of the decade. The difference was wealth, which the green blob in its entirety has de-emphasised (and they’re all doing very well thank you very much and are entirely benevolent, so why should they?), yet which (we should argue) could yield the same result again, in shorter order.
In the green and broader predominant calculus, wealth is a risk factor, not the ultimate risk mitigator.
This takes us to the second… Alex Epstein has a great tweet this AM…
‘”No mind is better than the precision of its concepts.” This explains how using the term “climate change” can lower a 160 IQ to an 80 IQ.’
I understand that you want the scientific method to prevail here… But such confidence may well be hubris, and be written in history as the ideal which got us here, as was anticipated by Weber (since you like predictions), and written up as postmodernism (i.e. scepticism of politics – and history, and other things ‘metanarrative’).
The problem is the test of a prediction concerning the future of society (or its management) isn’t quite so simple as plotting the trajectory of a projectile. Moreover, attempting to make predictions about the human world in those terms can have the consequence of limiting the possibility of expression, and even more moreover, that can yield pressure in the opposite direction, as we see in traumas like Brexit and Trump. Humans are yet irreducible, and they seem to resist being reduced to predictable agents – automata – on principle. This makes the difference between prediction and explanation. You can ask someone ‘why did you do X’, but you can’t predict when they did X. Conversely, you can’t ask the projectile why it took its trajectory.
The story – the motivating beliefs, experiences and attachments/commitments – is important. It turns out that 150K (or however many) people amongst millions each decided they wanted a better life than the one they had, and the one that the WHO had imagined for them, and it seems true to say, had a better understanding of the risks they were exposed to and the best way of negotiating them. I couldn’t ‘prove’ it empirically, scientifically, but I can say that we have in front of us an object lesson in privileging empiricism over autonomy. As the STSers at Nottingham would say, “counting is political”, it turns out. I really don’t mind that ‘the vast bulk of humanity …make their mind up emotively.’ The fact that the humanities are so vulnerable to green mythology, where they should be the most cognisant of science’s (positivism’s) failures, and the dangers of over-deterministic frameworks, suggest that the problem is a far deeper, existential crisis, than can be understood scientifically.
Your solution is just the deficit model of science communication, retold. The idea is that if you can simply tell people the right thing – be it scientific fact or something equivalent to ‘critical thinking’ – they will walk away with the outlook you desired. It just ain’t so, as we discovered when we found that you can do good science from poor political presuppositions.
To which you could argue, ‘well, just demonstrate that the thresholds aren’t scientific’. Which is of course, a good idea in its own right. But it is also useful to understand why and how thresholds (and the suchlike) achieved such influence in official ‘thinking’. And that does require a historical (or sociological, if you prefer) perspective. No doubt historians (and sociologists) have been reluctant to engage with that project. But ditto, climate scientists, are reluctant.
Which brings us back to your pal. Of course I don’t know him. But, for example, at a meeting of a small dinner of (notable, except me) climate sceptics, not one of us could claim that we hadn’t changed our position on climate, having taken it at face value at the outset, and I’ve met few who claim otherwise. So, the point of such seemingly arbitrary things as the sociology, history, subjective accounts and explanations etc, is to locate the universal, even in the human world. It was, at one point, the radical empiricist who said such a search for the human and material worlds’ universal truths was futile.
To elaborate on my closing claim:
If the first-hand thinkers didn’t disagree about climate change, then the second-hand thinkers wouldn’t either. So to understand the latter without understanding the former is to solve the symptom, not the etiology.
What you call the sociological or historical explanation (simplifying: lefties believe because of their leftism, while righties disbelieve because of their rightism) is easy, it’s been done before, it’s boring, and—for what it’s worth—it won’t change anything.
What do I mean by “it won’t change anything?”
I mean, let’s suppose you could get the message across to every single left-Dem-liberal ‘climate believer’ on the planet:
“Listen, the only reason you’re not a ‘climate denier’ is that you’re not a right-Repub-conservative.”
What direction is that likely to move them in? Not in the direction of Denial, I dare say. It’d probably just give them one more reason to thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that they’re not conservatives.
But suppose for a minute you could get the message across:
“Listen, the only reason you’re not a ‘climate denier’ is that nobody explained to you how proper scientists settle bets—or how to tell the difference between proper science and fake science. It’s not your fault, it’s just the way science is taught (or not taught) around the world, at all levels from middle school to the BSc.”
(Assuming, of course, that such a message is true—as I would argue it is.)
I’m cautiously optimistic that anyone who could be made to grasp that message, without feeling insulted by it, would be absorbing a “gateway belief” that might, just might, open up to them the golden road to the magical kingdom of Denial.
And in the end, isn’t that what we all want?
“Your lawyer pal simply has had no call to question that which, after all, pays the bills. Why would he?”
He might have no call to do so, but call or no call, my friend has thought deeply and even, dare I say, skeptically about it—albeit armed with a non-scientific mental framework for adjudicating controversies, a framework based on expert testimony, a prosecution and a defense (or plaintiff and defendant), “growing” (piles of) “evidence,” etc., which don’t translate well into scientific language.
It isn’t the first hand thinkers I think need it explained to them. Indeed, they are likely the most resistant to explanation. We have seen in our own forum the MO of Consensus Enforcement. Which leads me to two possible explanations:
1. The first hand thinkers haven’t transmitted the thinking.
2. There is no thinking.
The second one convinces me. Mediocrity is the condition of deference to the consensus. There has been no Marx, John Stuart Mill, Adam Smith, [/whoever] of Environmentalism. Environmentalism is a *disoriented* search for authority. It finds it (manufactures it) only formally. Hence Nick Stern can’t defend his theses, and sends out his Enforcer. The first hand thinkers and institutions close ranks – essentially against their own mediocrity – in a broader phenomenon than the climate debate. (Which is another reason to be cautious about believing the climate debate can be terminated by the right science).
Which brings us to your third… ”the sociological or historical explanation… is easy, it’s been done before, it’s boring.”
None of which is true. One reason for which is that even sociologists have given up on sociology. Anthony Giddens (with the late Ulrich Beck), being a pioneer of ‘Risk Society’ that Stern now champions, for example. Much as with philosophy, climate change rescues the stale old university department from its obscurity (and mediocrity) (and postmodernism). The fact that the humanities are so vulnerable to green mythology, where they should be the most cognisant of science’s (positivism’s) failures, and the dangers of over-deterministic frameworks, suggest that the problem is a far deeper, existential crisis, than can be understood scientifically.
Thanks for the detailed response Ben.
This was particularly interesting:
“But, for example, at a meeting of a small dinner of (notable, except me) climate sceptics, not one of us could claim that we hadn’t changed our position on climate, having taken it at face value at the outset, and I’ve met few who claim otherwise.”
Then my problem might be that I’m unusual. I never for a second took climate dangerism seriously. I was born not only an atheist but a climate denier too—as, I’ll remind you, was every person in this group—and have remained one (a climate denier) without vacillation. Why? Because nothing resembling (to me) scientific evidence has ever been presented to convert me to climate concern.
Also, FWIW, I was never politically conservative. I still don’t vote to the right, though I’ve recently been very tempted to—out of disgust at the left’s embrace of climate pseudoscience. In other words, my climate position informs my politics, not the other way round!
“Your solution is just the deficit model of science communication, retold.”
You wound me! This is not entirely fair. I’m only “retelling” the deficit model in the sense that I’m telling it properly for the first time ever, and deserve a Nobel Peace Prize therefor.
“The idea is that if you can simply tell people the right thing – be it scientific fact or something equivalent to ‘critical thinking’ —“
But that’s not my idea. What I advocate is the teaching, not of scientific fact or something equivalent to ‘critical thinking,’ but of the scientific method, a.k.a. scientific thinking, which is a large superset of critical thinking. If you think this has been tried before, I disagree—in my experience, the only climate debaters who’ve called for improved scientific-thinking education are the frauds like Cook and his mum Oreskes (who claim to intend to teach scientific thinking, but actually teach pre-scientific unthinking).
“..they will walk away with the outlook you desired.”
But the interesting thing is: they do walk away with the outlook I desire. (Desire is perhaps the wrong word: my real interest is in getting people to think scientifically about the debate, and if they then happen to agree with us, so be it—but if they honestly and scientifically arrive at the alarmist view, I’ll respect that too.)
Take the population that has been educated in the way I’m advocating: scientists. Scientists overwhelmingly (as in: without exception, AFAIK) become more rejectionist of the alarmist narrative the more they study it. Not less; more. That’s why the only counterexample—Richard Muller—was inevitably exposed as a fraudulent counterexample. Muller was for climate alarmism before he was against it before he was for it, as I once joked. Has any scientist converted the other way on closer examination of the evidence? Ever?
Oops—when I wrote…
“Has any scientist converted the other way on closer examination of the evidence? Ever?”
“Has any scientist converted in the direction Muller pretended to convert in order to drum up book sales on closer examination of the evidence? Ever?”
There’s no shortage of scientists who’ve abandoned alarmism after looking at the alleged “evidence” for themselves, but are there any who’ve gone the other way? Scientists?
This is interesting:
“I still don’t vote to the right, though I’ve recently been very tempted to—out of disgust at the left’s embrace of climate pseudoscience. In other words, my climate position informs my politics, not the other way round!”
I have worked and voted for the political right (of centre), in spite of being ‘from the left’, not because of science abuse but for disgust at the contempt shown by the contemporary left for the ordinary person/working class [delete according to preference]. That is to say, like so many things, concepts that seemed robust, if not transcendental, have been inverted. Perhaps it is a peculiarity of contemporary British politics, but the left — coincidentally – seemed more inclined towards ‘evidence based policymaking’. Which sounds nice. But it means depoliticising politics, which is dangerous if you take the view that politics should be the domain in which seemingly opposed interests — rather than claims to material truth — are contested. The conceit being that ‘what works’ is a better measure of a “policy” (previously known as “principle”) than who or what end it serves, and how much that idea resonates with those who will suffer it. It’s a question of legitimacy, rather than truth, and it seemed to me that the emphasis on ‘evidence’ is either consciously or not advanced to make the electorate passive agents in/of their own existences. I find that more disgusting than any science abuse, though it would be an intrusion on that same principle for me to say that the priorities in your decision-making are wrong. The point is, what looked like a good idea turned out to be policy-based evidence-making.
Critical thinking – in the broad sense, and including science – was advanced by a number of that camp, to produce obedient citizens. They wouldn’t drink. They wouldn’t smoke. They wouldn’t have unsafe (i.e. any) sex. They wouldn’t take drugs. All of which is true, on the condition that your *every* act follows a risk assessment. Which is to say ‘risk’ is (or has become) an entirely encompassing ideological concept, and science merely its bitch — it would even govern how individuals related to each other, intimately, as well as politically.
But how can science tell what it has become? And how could thinking empirically say that it was wrong – to reflect on itself? To what extent would teaching critical thinking protect fragile young minds from the risks of risk-aversion, to encourage them to negotiate chaos independently, outwith consensus? Now the generation of kids bought up on that stuff demand safe spaces. (Not all of them, of course).
It takes a trauma to change a mind. Not an injury, I mean, but a disjuncture, in which the coordinates of understanding are shown to be out of kilter with the world. People prefer the sanitised version of Science, like they prefer the safe space and the womb, allegedly. And it’s not until they are ripped away from the comfort that they are persuaded. Gentle words about what the rightful method of science is ain’t persuasive.
So, politely, and with jazz hands, or whatever signifies the PC gesture of venturing a point on identity cautiously and with due regard for and consciousness of our respective privileges, I would suggest that if you’ve not changed your mind on climate, you’ve probably not had cause to reflect on either the transformation, or the disjuncture that prompted it as much as you have taken for granted that what you believed in the first place is the best method of convincing others.
You didn’t need to be persuaded that you weren’t persuaded. Which is fortunate. You are model citizens – natural contemporaries of the New New New World Order. But the rest of the population of the future needs to be brought with us, and to be persuaded. Most of them, rightly, would likely just think as much to us “oh who gives a ****” as they do to green whinges. It’s not until the blackouts occur, or the bills rise beyond the ability to pay, or the eco police come to inspect recycling discipline that people are caused to think “WTF is all this about?”, and are then forced to take a position.
A for example… I have met a lot of wind farm campaigners in my research. An interesting, varied bunch, very few of them had ever done anything contrary to the political establishment in their (usually long) lives. Many of them had been soft greens, members (but not campaigners) of FoE. It wasn’t until the possibility of massive machines looming over their homes arrived that they questioned energy policy, and then to varying degrees and outcomes, climate politics and science. It is generally very difficult for people to summon up a position in a debate that does not loom in their own lives.
However, even just a few years back, if you had told me that the UK would make the decision to leave the EU before the windfarms, energy and climate policies had crumbled into dust, I would have told you that you are mad. I thought people had no tangible relationship with the EU, whereas they are connected to the issue of energy policy at least once a month. I didn’t think people really had a view on the EU, precisely because it had been largely hidden in plain sight, Westminster performing something of a charade of ‘policymaking’. Even then, I thought that it would take a lot to connect people’s experiences of high energy bills, lost jobs, and higher prices to remote policymakers in Westminster and Brussels. Even amongst sceptical ‘campaigners’ (to the extent they could be called that), there were a number who believed that it was just a question of formulating the right policy, not reflecting on the political structures that produced the abominations in the first place, reproducing them as so many totems of insufferable EU technocracy.
Things move incredibly quickly. It turns out the British people were ahead of me. However, the climate thing can change as rapidly as the referendum has upset the political order.
For one writer who qualifies as a first-hand thinker on climate change (who influenced this erstwhile second-hand thinker as such), it was in significant part the possibility of a world-famous beauty spot being turned into a wind farm that caused him to reflect on the alarmism he had contributed so much to.
More power to you, if you want to convince people of the scientific method and its virtues — notwithstanding its limitations. But as one of our trolls would say, ‘I fail to see…’ how it is different to what, for example, Gavin Schmidt says about his Speaking For Science to the opposite effect. As I point out at
http://www.climate-resistance.org/2015/01/advocating-the-science-cake-and-politicising-it.html you’ve got your work cut out. The scientific method hasn’t stopped the Royal Society and NASA becoming monoliths, and home to very many Schmidt clones. That is some *serious* institutional muscle you are pitched against. What will be more decisive, will be the monolith’s own overbearance, the moment at which is realised being our opportunity to intervene with the explanation: either “they got the scientific method wrong” or “they got the politics wrong”. Both perhaps?
“The scientific method hasn’t stopped the Royal Society and NASA becoming monoliths”
I can’t speak to the pathology that’s infected NASA (though I suspect it wouldn’t be half as grave if the US government tossed the agency as much money for space exploration as it does for climate assessment!).
But as to the greyscale that’s sclerosed the Stone Men of the Royal Society of late, that was only made possible by their dereliction and betrayal of the scientific method. If a hasbeen like Paul Nurse had instead stayed true to bedrock scientific ethics like Nullius in Verba, he could never have posed James Delingpole those fatuous oncological “gotchas” in that interview. Any still-working, still-competent scientist would be deeply embarrassed to ask the ninety-seven doctors question, because it’s absurd within the scientific mindset.
“I would suggest that if you’ve not changed your mind on climate, you’ve probably not had cause to reflect on either the transformation, or the disjuncture that prompted it as much as you have taken for granted that what you believed in the first place is the best method of convincing others. Which is a bit Ken. Not to say that you’re like Ken, except in just that respect.”
With equal politeness: all I’ve done is the scientific thing. Namely: I’ve stuck to the null hypothesis (climate insouciance) since the day I was born, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do in the absence of any evidence that it’s wrong. And no such evidence has ever come to my attention, and not for lack of asking for it either. At this point I despair of ever seeing any in my lifetime. The lack of a global-warming crisis was once described as the most expensively-confirmed null hypothesis in scientific history. I don’t remember who came up with that line, but I’d be hard pressed to improve upon it.
PS you don’t need to convince me of the bankruptcy of today’s left either. If I recall my exact words, I was careful not to say that I voted left. Because I don’t.
Thanks Ben, good to know how you understood my position. That’s close but no cigar. An e-cig maybe, but not a Cohiba Esplendido.
First, there may or may not be One Scientific Method to Rule Them All. I’ve long since given up on that debate with my fellow epistemology nerds, as it ultimately makes little difference to the present problem. Whether there’s one, two or an infinity of scientific methods, what matters is that there is—shall we say—a mental methodology which is known to, passed down among, and practiced daily by, scientists and (almost) nobody else. And it’s far from intuitive. (Scientists sometimes claim it’s just common sense, but that’s only because they can’t remember what it’s like to be a non-scientist!)
It took us hundreds of thousands of years to come up with it—from the dawn of bipedalism to the Baroque period—and even the smartest non-scientist on the planet can’t be expected to guess it correctly. We know this because shortly before his death from complications of oesophageal cancer in 2011, the smartest non-scientist on the planet still misunderstood how science worked. (Happily, he was smart enough to admit it.)
Why do I mention all this? Because everyone who does know, and practice, the mental discipline in question reliably tends to convert away from climate alarmism once they look into it for themselves (having previously made the lazy assumption that The Scientists on TV weren’t lying to them). Not the other way round.
So (warning: magic wand time) if I had a magic wand, I would infiltrate an understanding of the scientific method[s] into every person on the planet, and that would end the climate debate. I can’t say to a literal 100% certainty that it would end in “our” [skeptics’] favor—that’s kinda the point of science, or one of the points of science—but I guarantee that at least it would end in a satisfactory, evidence-based reconciliation of the two “sides.”
My “magic wand” would not, needless to say, render obsolete or uninteresting the various analytical powers brought to the table by practitioners of what you dubbed ‘yes-well-but-history-etc.’
All it would do is cut off the rotting head of the pseudoscientific fish. The fascinating story of how the rot spread, and why it spread so fast, cannot be told without the help of historians, social psychologists and scholars of religion. (Possibly even “sociologists,” depending on what the hell that means. I’ve never heard a proper explanation.) I trust nobody’s forgotten that I’m a history enthusiast myself. Sure, I might not take the slow, scholarly road to historical erudition, preferring—as Ian gently pointed out—more of a wise-ass approach, but it’s still history, whether it’s Simon Schama or Mel Brooks telling it.
By way of further reconciliation/synthesis with Ben’s perspective…
I’d submit that an adequate knowledge of the history of the climate debate, or an understanding of propagandology, or any of a number of other “knowledges,” might well be equally-efficacious cures for climate polarization, or almost equally-efficacious.
And predictably enough, none of the “deficit model”-based proposals ever seem to involve teaching the public these things, do they? (I wonder why. It’s a real head-scratcher!)
So then: even if a universal public understanding of scientific reasoning a.k.a. The Method would be my ideal, magic-wand-land solution, and even if that’s what enabled me personally to see through the bullscam, and even if that’s the cleanest and most elegant armor a person can wear during an assault of pseudoscience, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it’s the only defence, let alone the most practical, realistic or affordable one.
Engineers tell us we’re still 5 or 10 years away from a functioning, handheld magic wand, after all.
So I’m open to better suggestions.