German Sceptics are Racists: Official

Europe‘s march towards a carbon-free future will be on hold for a month or two while Germany makes up its mind in what direction it is going to lead the European Union. The likely coalition with the fervently anti-coal anti-nuclear Greens, and the Free Democrats, who argue for a “rational” pro-business energy policy, may bring energy policy and therefore climate change mitigation to the forefront of European politics.

So while we’re waiting, let’s all relax and consider a new article by Jonas Kaiser of Harvard University and Cornelius Puschmann of the Hans-Bredow-Institut which explores the German climate sceptical blogosphere in order the better to understand what kind of chaps (and chapesses) we climate sceptics are (thanks to Paul Matthews for alerting me to this.)

From the Abstract:

Debates around climate change are a prominent example of polarized online communication. We examine the German climate hyperlink network and evaluate the degree to which it is shaped by mainstream and skeptical views […] We find that skeptics form a counterpublic that is only loosely connected to the mainstream as neither skeptics nor the mainstream want to be affiliated with each other. Skeptics, thus, are mostly excluded within the German online climate network. However, skeptics are part of an “alliance of antagonism” with other groups, such as conspiracy theorists, men’s right groups, and right-wing sites.

Note a glaring contradiction in the above. The authors “.. examine the German climate hyperlink network and evaluate the degree to which it is shaped by mainstream and skeptical views” but note a few lines later that “..skeptics form a counterpublic that is only loosely connected to the mainstream” andthus are mostly excluded within [sic] the German online climate network.” If they’re mostly excluded, how can you examine the degree to which they shape the climate network? What they mean, presumably, is that they are mostly excluded within the mainstream German online climate network. To warmists, one thing slowly mutates into another. The climate network becomes the mainstream climate network, just as Global Warming becomes anthropogenic and then catastrophic without anyone even noticing, like a frog in hot water which becomes a tasty grenouille bouillie before it even has time to croak.

The authors claim to demonstrate scientifically that:

1) we sceptics don’t want to be affiliated with the mainstream

2) we are part of an “alliance of antagonism” with conspiracy theorists and rightwing sites

The Introduction begins with a paragraph which summarises everything known about climate scepticism up to now. The entire paragraph is reproduced below, but divided into individual assertions and numbered to facilitate analysis. References supporting the various assertions are retained from the text. Where there is no reference, the assertion is just that, an assertion. I’ve put in bold extracts on which I comment.

1) Climate change is a controversial and even polarizing issue for many reasons. [NO REFERENCE]

2) There is no single political solution for tackling climate change and its associated challenges, and it is unclear what economic consequences a solution may entail or whether it is scientifically wiser to adapt to global warming incrementally or attempt to mitigate it altogether. [NO REFERENCE]

[COMMENT: This is precisely the position of the vast majority of climate sceptics. The authors seem to be unaware that they have adopted the position of us climate septics in their first paragraph. The following thirteen pages of their paper will be devoted to demonstrating that the climate sceptics, with whom they agree, are a groupuscule of nutters who have isolated themselves from mainstream discussion and aligned themselves with racists and conspiracy theorists.]

3) The notion that climate change is a dangerous and consequently urgent issue that threatens society is increasingly accepted internationally (Schmidt, Ivanova, & Schäfer, 2013).

[COMMENT: The claim that it is increasingly accepted internationally that climate change is dangerous is obviously of key importance. The kind of evidence one would expect to support this claim would be numerous statements by key political figures from several countries stating that climate change is dangerous. But the one reference given says merely this in its abstract:

“The article identifies the drivers of media attention for climate change in three countries: Australia, Germany and India. It calculates the monthly amount of climate change-related coverage in two leading newspapers for each country in relation to all articles published in the respective newspapers over a 15-year time span (1996–2010). Based on an explanatory model derived from agenda setting theory, punctuated equilibrium theory and multiple streams theory, it uses time series regression analysis to assess the influence of weather and climate characteristics as well as various social events and feedbacks on issue attention..”

There is nothing in the abstract to suggest that climate change is dangerous, or that the authors think that climate change is dangerous, or that they have found any sources in their media analysis who think that climate change is dangerous. The authors of this article, about bloggers in Germany, clearly think that climate change is dangerous, and cite this article anyway. Why not? Why not cite Don Quixote or the Prophet Jeremiah? Did they think the peer reviewers wouldn”t notice this flagrant non sequitur? They were right.]

4) Consequently, political parties, grassroots activist organizations, charities, companies, and scientific and religious institutions fight climate change on a local, national, and trans- national level. [NO REFERENCE]

[COMMENT: Do they though? My own researches, spread over several afternoons on the internet, have uncovered a number of grassroots activist organizations, charities, companies, and scientific and religious institutions who claim to be fighting climate change on a local, national, and transnational level and who prove to be spending millions of dollars or euros supplied by the foundations of dead American billionaires or the agencies of the European Union maintaining zombie websites where nobody goes, nobody tweets, nobody links and nobody comments. Each website typically employs several dozen bright young graduates in a half a dozen geographical locations (at least one of them in Africa) writing reports and blog articles that no-one except me ever reads. These thinktanks and NGOs quote each other, award each other prizes, and urge the rest of us to adopt their virtual asceticism. As for fighting climate change, they’d do better to renounce their airflights to international climate conferences and fire themselves from their perfectly useless jobs.]

5) Yet there is a vocal minority within both the global and national climate debates that questions climate change or even denies its existence—so-called “climate skeptics.” [NO REFERENCE]

As explained at 2) above, we climate sceptics who “question climate change” are part of the consensus who question “what economic consequences a solution may entail or whether it is scientifically wiser to adapt to global warming incrementally or attempt to mitigate it altogether.” No-one has ever denied the existence of climate change. The article provides no reference to support the assertion that “there is a vocal minority .. that denies” the existence of climate change. End of story.

6) This is even more prominent online where skeptics form communities in which they can validate and strengthen each other’s opinions and isolate themselves from other ones and form enclaves, often referred to as “echo chambers” (Sunstein, 2001; Williams, McMurray, Kurz, & Hugo Lambert, 2015).

[COMMENT: Often” is hardly supported by two references in the scientific literature, but, let’s be fair, establishing that something happened “often” would be beyond the capacity of a 17-page article in a scientific journal. Which just goes to show that you shouldn’t expect too much from modern peer-reviewed science publications. Roll over Charles Darwin and tell Albert Einstein the news.

Sunstein’s book looks interesting, dealing with the hyper-specialisation of interests facilitated by the internet. He mentions dog fanciers. He might just as well have mentioned climate fanciers, or climate sceptics, or dog sceptics.

From the second reference (Williams, McMurray, Kurz, & Hugo Lambert, 2015):

“Here we construct several forms of social network for users communicating about climate change on the popular microblogging platform Twitter. We classify user attitudes to climate change based on message content and find that social networks are characterised by strong attitude-based homophily and segregation into polarised “sceptic” and “activist” groups. Most users interact only with like-minded others, in communities dominated by a single view. However, we also find mixed-attitude communities in which sceptics and activists frequently interact. Messages between like-minded users typically carry positive sentiment, while messages between sceptics and activists carry negative sentiment. We identify a number of general patterns in user behaviours relating to engagement with alternative views. Users who express negative sentiment are themselves the target of negativity.”

Yeah, people tend to agree with people they agree with. And when they don’t agree with someone, the person they don’t agree with often doesn’t agree.

Note to professors, lecturers, and doctoral students writing scientific papers; if you cite someone who is talking shit, there is a high probability that those who read your article will assume that you also are talking shit. But don’t worry about it. Because there is also a high probability that those who cite your article won’t have read it, let alone have read the shitty articles you cite.]

7) Even though much is known about the skeptics’ framing of climate change, their demographics, and industry ties, there is presently little research on their role within society and the types of coalitions they form (e.g. Elgin, 2015; McCright & Dunlap, 2000).

8) This, too, holds true for climate communication in general, which is shaped by the actors mentioned above, all of whom aim to make their voices heard in the public sphere in order to define how climate change is discussed (Anderson, 2009).

9) To fully understand conflicting framings of the same issue, a structural perspective is needed since it enables us to identify different factions, as well as to see the tension between mainstream and outlier positions. In this article, we accordingly focus on the overarching research question: How is online climate change communication structured?

My comments cease at point 6) because at that point I thought I’d take a look at the rest of the article and discovered, hidden in the middle of the article on page 6, this:

As we are interested in the structural organization of German climate debate, [sic] and specifically in the role that skeptics play, we rely on blogroll links for our analysis.

Despite the fact that the authors have just stated that:

both Ackland (2004) and Adamic and Glance (2005) take on a more negative view, remarking that blogroll links have a tendency to become stale, in contrast to “fresh” permalinks used in a blog post, which are considered to be more up-to-date and accordingly characterize ongoing communicative interaction more reliably than blogrolls do. The authors suggest that current debate is better captured by post hyper-links, rather than blogrolls. Blogroll links appear to be less suitable for studies of ongoing communication on particular individual issues, but should act as suitable indicators of stable ideological allegiances.

We at Cliscep don’t have a dog in the race, or a frog in the saucepan, since we don’t have a blogroll. If you don’t already know that you should be reading WattsUpWithThat or Climate Audit or JoNova or Notalotofpeopleknowthat, then you shouldn’t be here.

Once you realise that the whole article is based on the blogrolls of the climate sites, and of the sites on their blogrolls, and the sites on their blogrolls, you get a measure of what these chaps from Harvard and the Hans-Bredow-Institut are up to. It’s said that everyone knows someone who knows someone.. and by the fifth iteration you’ve included the whole human race. (It’s not true in my case, since I don’t own a portable telephone. I don’t even know my fellow clisceppers.) So the statement that climate sceptical sites (unnamed) are linked with racist and conspiracist sites is pure climate filth.

And while we”re on the subject of filth, here’s a little known fact from Wikipaedia:

Until 1987, the [German] Greens comprised a faction involved in pedophile activism.. This faction campaigned for repealing § 176 of the German penal code, dealing with child sexual abuse. This group was controversial within the party itself, and was seen as partly responsible for the poor regional election result of 1985.

But the Greens didn’t have a blogroll in 1985, so no articles in the peer reviewed literature for them. But who needs them, given that the leader of the Greens in the European parliament until last year was an acknowledged paedophile? Of course none of this matters, since the climate is not interested in the sordid activities of a well-known French politician several decades ago, even if he was on French TV just tonight lecturing us on the need for greater European unity. (Think of your grandchildren.)

But if youre worried about someone writing a peer reviewed article about you, Id be careful about visiting sites associated with the German Greens. And the same goes for dog fanciers.

I lost interest in the article at this point, and can’t even be bothered to point out that their description of the sole useful illustration (which they call a graph, but which is in fact a scatter diagram) is totally incoherent. There are words missing, or badly translated, I don’t know which, and I don’t care. Back to the article. With some comments on a few choice quotes, which Ive numbered for ease of commenting:

10) It has, for example, been shown that skeptics are usually politically more conservative (McCright & Dunlap, 2011), tend to be more open for conspiracy theories (Lewandowsky, Gignac, & Oberauer, 2015).

COMMENT: This is the wrong Lewandowsky paper. It’s about the general public in the USA, 99% of whom never visit a climate sceptic website, and 99.999% of whom have never clicked on a blogroll hyperlink on a German website.

11) Additionally, there are also individual bloggers who combine climate skepticism with a range of other issues, from the purported marginalization of smokers, xenophobia, racism and “men’s rights” to conspiracy theories on issues such as so-called chemtrails and the global monetary system.

COMMENT: And there are individual bloggers (me for instance) who combine climate scepticism with a sister site publishing sketches of nude fit young men and luscious ladies (remind me to update it some time.) There may even be some sketches of dogs for those who like that sort of thing.

12) Second, the skeptic counterpublic is not restricted to voices pertaining to climate change but forms an alliance of antagonism with other extreme factions such as misogynists, racists, and conspiracy theorists, that is, radical positions which are also not represented in mainstream public communication. What all these factions seem to have in common are [sic] a contempt and antagonism for what they perceive to be the mainstream’s political correctness or [sic] do-gooders. Even though the connection between climate skepticism and conspiracy theories has been made before (e.g. Lewandowsky et al., 2015), our study is, to our knowledge, the first which shows the structural connections between climate skeptics, conspiracy theorists, and other factions on the right political fringes.

COMMENT: Wrong Lewandowsky paper again. 99% of the sample of Lewandowsky et al 2015 have never visited a skeptical site. The accompanying scatter diagram and its obscure explanation pertain to an automatically derived list of 9871 German language websites which was then reduced in some obscure fashion and coded by hand in order to determine topic, stance, and “who the content creators behind the site are.” The evidence that we climate sceptics are allied with “misogynists, racists, and conspiracy theorists” is therefore hidden in the minds of anonymous coders, as is the evidence they uncovered, (but haven’t revealed) as to “who the content creators behind the site are.”

Consider this article as my own demonstration that Harvard University and the Hans-Bredow-Institut are neo-fascist organisations bent on the elimination of opposition to the climate consensus from public discourse on climate by associating us with “misogynists, racists, and conspiracy theorists.” Unlike Kaiser & Puschmann”s anonymous coders, I present my evidence.

13) For the climate change debate worldwide, this study also highlights two major points worth considering. First, the “alliance of antagonism” between skeptics, conspiracy theorists, and other right-wing sites is in line with previous research (Lewandowsky et al., 2015) and emphasizes the connection between a conservative attitude and climate skepticism. By choosing counterpublic theory, we suggest that this alliance is not an echo chamber but an opposition of the mainstream public sphere that might even transcend the national context (German skeptic sites, for example, often also linked to English language skeptic sites). Second, we suggest that skeptics could potentially be also considered a counterpublic in other countries. This, then, would imply that studies that look at how to persuade skeptics could potentially miss the point as skeptics are in opposition to most mainstream institutions and positions in the first place and thus also barely open for potential persuasions. In this sense, it would seem more productive to look for aspects that both sides can agree on (e.g. adaptation measures to fight consequences as rising sea levels) rather than to try to convince skeptics that the mainstream is right.

This is the third time they have cited the irrelevant Lewandowsky et al 2015 instead of Lewandowsky et al 2013. The latter is the only Lewandowsky article to treat “”denizens of climate blogs” and which finds, on a sub sample of eleven, out of a total sample of 1100, (after a quarter of the original sample had been, eliminated for obvious cheating) a statistically significant relation between belief in the article’s headline conspiracy theory and climate scepticism. (Five sceptics to six believers, if I remember correctly.)

14) When e-mails by climate scientists were leaked right before a climate summit in 2009—an incident dubbed “Climategate”—journalists and skeptics were quick to cast climate research in doubt, although no evidence for scientific misconduct could be found (Grundmann, 2012).

Now that’s not at all what the article in question, says. What Grundmann says, among other things, in a long and thoughtful article, is:

“If we use the above definition of scientific fraud, according to which it is ‘forging, trimming, or cooking of data,’ we could arrive at a different conclusion. The handling of the divergence problem seems to be a clear instance of ‘trimming’ (editing or suppressing data), maybe even of ‘cooking’..

and:

“One could conclude that among the IPCC lead authors double standards were practiced. What is more, it appears that there existed the possibility that members of the core set could get their papers published without proper peer review since they were sending their papers round in their inner circle.” 

and:

“the UK deputy information commissioner stated in January 2010 that some of the actions of CRU researchers/UEA officials would have been punishable (unlimited fines under FOI) but were outside the six month limit for prosecution.

and:

“The exposed climate scientists did not adhere to the norm of universalism as they gave preferential treatment to close allies. They did not share their data… They did not act in a disinterested way.. On the contrary, they acted strategically, showing self-interest and zeal… Finally, they did not foster organised skepticism but tried to stifle skeptical voices. It is interesting that the Climategate investigations describe this as “bunker mentality” but do not see unethical behavior.”

So the article by Reiner Grundmann, a sociologist at Nottingham University, does not in any way support the thesis of Kaiser and Puschmann. Indeed, Grundmann, using the reasonable neutral language required in the scientific literature, shows that Kaiser and Puschmann are talking bollocks. They are either lying, or pitifully ignorant of the facts they are discussing.

Grundmann, in an interview with Hans von Storch makes an interesting point, insisting on the Weberian principle of the separation of science and politics (but who reads dead white men like Weber in social science faculties nowadays?) 
in which he insists on:

“…a principle at the heart of science studies, the methodological rule of studying knowledge claims symmetrically. This means not to assume a priori that one side is right and the other wrong and that we only need to find explanations for the “wrong” position (because the truth will out in the end and is in no need for explanation). Instead, we should analyze both sides (or more sides, if there are more) without committing to one of them on the level of cognitive validity or authority.”

36 thoughts on “German Sceptics are Racists: Official

  1. I would have paid for Cliscep for three years just to read this article. Brilliant, astonishing, cringeworthy, tragic.

    The whole story hasn’t just been for three years of course.

    “Why do the wicked prosper?” has quite an ancient ring to it.

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  2. Thank you for doing the heavy lifting. I had planed to investigate how the authors linked climate sceptics with less savoury elements, but got diverted by Len’s inanities.
    The only link that they mention that seems reasonable is between climate scepticism and right of centre politics (at least based on some of the sites I visit and statements by some Republicans).

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  3. In relation to the inclusion of which Lewandowsky, Oberauer, and Gignac article should have been included, my answer would have been neither. Dixon and Jones 2015 reanalysed the data concluding.

    All the data really shows is that people who have no opinion about one fairly technical matter (conspiracy theories) also have no opinion about another fairly technical matter (climate change). Complex models mask this obvious (and trivial) finding.

    This was in line with my conclusion of a year earlier on the LOG2013 paper.

    A recent paper, based on an internet survey of American people, claimed that “conspiracist ideation, is associated with the rejection of all scientific propositions tested“. Analysis of the data reveals something quite different. Strong opinions with regard to conspiracy theories, whether for or against, suggest strong support for strongly-supported scientific hypotheses, and strong, but divided, opinions on climate science.

    This ties in nicely with the article under discussion. Like Lew et al, they infer that the diverse groups of non-believers have common traits. That is as ridiculous as inferring non-Christians have common beliefs. It also shows that the tie-in between one group and another might be just due to people who have strong opinions in one area also tend to have strong opinions in other areas.

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  4. Alan
    I got diverted by Len as well. At Bishop-Hill there used to be an abbreviation – DNFTT.

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  5. The pathology desperately needing to be aggressively examined is that of the so-called climate mainstream.

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  6. Nice. Except:

    “The following thirteen pages of their paper will be devoted to demonstrated that the climate sceptics…”

    What’s a “nutter”? This New Zealander that married my ex-wife had an online handle of the same.

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  7. Ack. One more:

    10) It has, for example, been shown that skeptics are usually politically more conservative (McCright & Dunlap, 2011), tend to be more open for conspiracy theories (Lewandowsky, Gignac, & Oberauer, 2015

    (close parenthesis)

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  8. Nice take down Geoff. I increasingly wonder how many idiots are employed in ‘science’ but I fear I’d die of despair if I knew the answer.

    A thing you don’t touch upon is the idea that sceptics are a minority. Most votes, even badly flawed ones indicate that a lot of people either don’t care about AGW or actively doubt the science as it is badly portrayed in the media. The number wavers about the 50% line depending upon how recently there was a severe weather event. In our elections the sides that win are rarely 50% of the potential electorate but we never call them a minority. Just because few people chat on sceptic websites, the rest of the population aren’t by default warmists. They could be just bored to tears of the whole thing, which is scepticism by disinterest. What they do is vote with their money by buying fossil fuelled cars, foreign holidays and big draughty homes. How does it go? ‘If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem’. By that measure, there are about 90 to 99% of sceptics out there. You don’t have to be a card carrying sceptic to think like one any more than you need to join a party to vote or even think like them.

    All this psychoanalysing Sceptics is all about trying to marginalise us. We and potential joiners are supposed to be embarassed by being linked to racists or sexists. I don’t know about the rest of you but that tactic stopped working on me when I was about 7. I keep a clear vision of what I think is right or wrong and don’t care who does or doesn’t agree with me. The only thing that can sway me is a great argument. These guys couldn’t spon one, even if it came with a sign saying ‘great argument here’ and a band playing ‘Arguments are great again’ to the tune of happy days are here again.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Tiny:

    Just because few people chat on sceptic websites, the rest of the population aren’t by default warmists. They could be just bored to tears of the whole thing, which is scepticism by disinterest. … By that measure, there are about 90 to 99% of sceptics out there.

    Yep. That was the great advantage of my definition back in July:

    I’d argue that Climate Scepticism is above all the conviction that climate really isn’t that important.

    Let’s make it 97% that agree with that. Sensible people.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tiny. My observations and conclusions differ markedly from yours. I maintain that we sceptics are still a small minority. I also believe its difficult to be a sceptic and even more difficult to remain one. I agree that the majority of people are agnostic (or apathetic) about climate change but that’s the problem. You can’t put them into the sceptic camp. In fact, if you pressure them to take a position they will almost all support the AGW side. Why do I think this? Well all that are under 40 will have been to School and about 40% of them to university where they will have been subjected to unrelenting propaganda in support of AGW. AGW is associated with environmentalism, saving the world and all that stuff, so it attracts and generates activists who influence their peers. Scepticism generates no such ardent support. Virtually all scientific associations and institutions are pro AGW, as are (in the UK) all political parties. As a consequence, the overwhelming output of all the media supports AGW. Sceptics are swamped. Even many sceptical websites are losing ground (compare the number of correspondents regularly contributing only two years ago with that today. Some sites like Climate Audit and Bishop Hill, are almost moribund.

    Anyone becoming sceptical is subject to constant and enormous pressure to conform. There is the repeated refrain “How can I be right when everybody says AGW is scientifically true,, including those who should know?” I recall just how difficult it was for me when I was at UEA.

    So I don’t believe we are in the majority at all. The only positive I can offer, is that when and if the financial and life-affecting consequences of suppressing use of fossil fuels become more appreciated, the worm will turn. I would have thought that by now those annelids would be like little turbines, but so far they aint.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks SY for the corrections. I’ll have to change browsers to enact them, which I’ll do in a bit.

    TINYCO2
    I agree of course. Articles like this one have more in common with police tactics than scientific research; cut off the troublemakers from the main(stream) crowd and squeeze them hard. What’s the technical term?

    There’s also the pathetic way that sophisticated statistics are used to render the analysis opaque. There are pages of meaningless jargon in the article which are merely saying that sceptics tend to link with other sceptics while mainstream blogs link to each other and a bit to the sites of mainstream official bodies which they support, all couched in an absurd jargon used to disguise the self evident. If they want to link us to racists, why not simply name the sceptic sites which have such links?

    And when the jargon isn’t banal, it’s terrifying.The idea that we belong to a “counterpublic” suggests that we are somehow opposed to the “res publica,” and therefore outside the bounds of society. It is literally like being banned from the City in Greek society.

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  12. “How can I be right when everybody says AGW is scientifically true,, including those who should know?”

    Do they really though? It would seem those who are supposedly most “in the know” deny the very proposition of AGW:

    “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system’s future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions. This reduces climate change to the discernment of significant differences in the statistics of such ensembles. The generation of such model ensembles will require the dedication of greatly increased computer resources and the application of new methods of model diagnosis. Addressing adequately the statistical nature of climate is computationally intensive, but such statistical information is essential.”

    http://ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/505.htm

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  13. I’ve clicked like under Richard’s, Alan’s and TinyCO2’s comments because I think you/we all have elements of the truth. What we need is perhaps an open thread for evidence based argument on this.

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  14. SY
    “How can I be right when everybody says AGW is scientifically true,, including those who should know?”

    Do they really though? It would seem those who are supposedly most “in the know” deny the very proposition of AGW:”

    To the lay person, who lacks a scientific background or who refuses to exercise it, those “in the know” are predominantly those claiming knowledge or authority. How do they judge that? Answer: by what they read and see in the media. Where do the media get their pro-AGW bias? From university academics and alumni. Add to this the “authority” of politicians, celebs and the like. Add to that the marginalization of most sceptics or their outright disappearance and I sometimes wonder how any sceptical message gets through at all (or am I being optimistic and actually for many they hear no such message?).

    You and I might think that sceptics are those that are best informed, but in my view the overwhelming view is that we are not, we are the oddballs, the flat earthers, antisocial types in the pay of evil fossil fuel companies and allied to pro-tobacco industry that gave us cancer. Our opponents have done a really good job on us.

    Fortunately nature will ultimately reveal her true self.

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  15. ALAN

    “You and I might think that sceptics are those that are best informed, but in my view the overwhelming view is that we are not, we are the oddballs, the flat earthers, antisocial types in the pay of evil fossil fuel companies and allied to pro-tobacco industry that gave us cancer. Our opponents have done a really good job on us.”

    Agreed. But should we skeptics dismiss the opportunities afforded by the IPCC statement without prejudice? I’m not convinced it can’t be extremely useful in the debate, especially with the layman. But as time goes on and a new generation who’s being propagandized throughout primary and secondary education become adults the opportunity may fall to the wayside. At least to some degree.

    And it *is* the layman that can most easily be swayed (if not convinced) if anyone can, wouldn’t you agree?

    I’m a natural skeptic of all things having to do with Man’s imminent apocalyptic destruction of the earth, regardless of the reason we’re going to murder the planet to death. I’m also a scientific ignoramus. I *am* a layman, hence I speak with some authority concerning laypeople.

    It’s not that I don’t have the tools, rather, it’s that I simply have no interest in taking the time it would require to become familiar enough with the scientific subject matter to speak intelligently about (in my view) a hoax involving said subject matter. Furthermore, given the state of the “science” of climatology currently neither does anyone else.

    Notice the IPCC admits this right off the bat.

    Until I first read the IPCC statement just one year and one month ago today, the “debates” to which I would subject myself with the “informed” AGW crowd would invariably lead to the same modus operandi: a plethora of charts, graphs and statistics being hurled and volleyed back and forth at each other until finally, both agreed only to the proposition that the other is a “stupid poopy-head” and that it was time for bed.

    I suspect that such is the case even among the upper echelons of academia. How could it *not* be when all you have are software models of a system that cannot, indeed is impossible for it to, be adequately described?

    The IPCC admits this as well.

    With the layman, however, the usual retort was a familiar one you’ve already mentioned, e.g., “What do YOU know, YOU’RE not a scientist??”. To this I had no answer, no chart, no graph, no statistic would or could satisfy the layman. And who can blame him if you think about it? All the average layman really wants to do is get along with life, raise his children and die in his sleep. They don’t have time to worry about what’s happening to the planet, or at least not enough to familiarize themselves with the actual facts of the subject matter. Moreover, they don’t think they’re able to, so they depend on “science”. You’ve made mention of this as well.

    But they *are* able and there *is* an answer to the layman’s objection and in my view it’s a darn good one given it comes straight from the horse’s mouth itself. A “gift horse” if you will. You don’t have to be a scientist to understand the IPCC’s statement contradicts everything the AGW community proposes to be true. All you need to be able to do is think critically.

    After I read the IPCC statement I changed my tactic with the “informed” crowd. No more chart volleying, no more statistic lobbing, etc. Only the IPCC statement concerning that to which climate change is reduced (i.e., modeling) and the inability to adequately model for the various reasons cited in the statement did I offer in rebuttal.

    So far either one of two things happen: 1) I am ignored or 2) the reply would be to deny that models are the only evidence for AGW.

    Did I change their minds? No, of course not, but that’s to be expected given it’s very difficult to abandon a faith-based belief system to which one is dedicated as religiously as AGW. Try to convince me that my God is a myth. Not going to happen. Nevertheless the arguments from their side changed significantly. They’d been reduced to denying the very authority upon which the community depends for the argument, or to silence.

    I haven’t tried the same with the layman. I won’t have that opportunity since most of my time is spent in my basement reading the news, my books, and offering my worthless commentary on this or that subject matter on other people’s blogs. But at least it’s MY basement. I paid for it.

    I have faith in the common man to understand the IPCC statement and for that statement to give him great pause. It certainly opened my eyes. Perhaps one of you who actually venture out into the world could give my theory a try and report back with the results.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. SY. I think you’ve answered your own questions. You’ve said you’ve always been sceptical. How many are – even those who should have been trained to be? As you wrote
    “All the average layman really wants to do is get along with life, raise his children and die in his sleep. They don’t have time to worry about what’s happening to the planet, or at least not enough to familiarize themselves with the actual facts of the subject matter. Moreover, they don’t think they’re able to, so they depend on “science”. ” They rely upon “expert” advice. I do not blame them, blame lies with those who should be able to examine all the evidence and make sound decisions.

    BTW thank you for telling us part of your story.

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  17. ALAN:

    “SY. I think you’ve answered your own questions. You’ve said you’ve always been sceptical. How many are – even those who should have been trained to be?” As you wrote:

    Yes but it’s not those “who should have been trained to be” I’m after. These are already lost, at least for the moment.

    It’s those who don’t know they should be skeptical that could be the most helpful. Note that I’m not looking to put down this theory, rather, I’m looking to mitigate the damaging consequences of it, e.g., to reduce the public support for taxpayer funded debacles like the Paris Accord, etc.

    Until I read the IPCC statement, I had nothing upon which to base my skeptical belief other than Skepticism itself. Such a thing cannot be evidence for anything other than being skeptical. And for reasons I’m sure you understand the idea of Skepticism as a basis for Truth is a contradiction anyway.

    Moreover, you’re not going to convince anyone of anything throwing graphs, statistics, etc. at them as evidence of your position. The other guy is always going to be able to produce the contradicting evidence.

    Now, however, we have the horse’s mouth offering the reasons to be skeptical. And when you present them with this they get nervous. How much more so would the common man be willing to listen?

    The tyrannical minority always depends on the acquiescing majority to maintain its power base. Give the majority a reason (i.e., the means) to “become the tyranny”, so-to-speak, and the minority will lose.

    Evidence: Donald Trump – President of the United States against any and all odds anyone except a few could ever have guessed.

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  18. As a good scientist, I should be willing to test my beliefs. In this thread I have argued that climate scepticism is a minority sport, yet having just read in full the original Guardian column that is the topic of the “Big Brother Wants a Quiet Word With You” thread, I now wonder if I am correct. If as I suspect climate scepticism is a minor force why do we cause such a scare in in the body climatique and the Guardian corridors of power such that the 97% meme is considered so sacrosanct? Is it because, despite our low numbers we exert a formidable force? Or is our support greater than I envisage? Something to ponder.

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  19. “If as I suspect climate scepticism is a minor force why do we cause such a scare in in the body climatique and the Guardian corridors of power such that the 97% meme is considered so sacrosanct? Is it because, despite our low numbers we exert a formidable force? Or is our support greater than I envisage? Something to ponder.”

    It is indeed something to ponder. My own suspicion is that like any intolerant minority, the alarmists are concerned that despite considerable efforts to brainwash the youth and to dominate the MSM, we pesky sceptics just won’t change our minds and won’t go away. They don’t feel they have “won” or CAN “win” until we’ve changed our minds or being silenced. However, we aren’t their main problem.

    Their first problem is that the terrible things they try to alarm everyone with just aren’t happening. That’s probably why we had the recent paper saying that although it’s all terrible, it’s not quite so imminently terrible as they thought, therefore we still have time to make a success of the Paris Agreement, etc.

    Their second problem is that they don’t have an answer as to how run a functioning modern economy while shutting down GHG -emitting forms of power generation, and once the largely apathetic (as opposed to sceptical) majority find that they can no longer have foreign holidays or gas cookers, and have to drive in hopeless electric cars (which most people will struggle to charge because they don’t have a garage or anywhere to fit a charging point), etc etc etc, then the silent apathetic majority will turn against them. At that point they lose,especially if the oft-predicted climate catastrophe still hasn’t happened.

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  20. SY COMPUTING
    I read your coments with interest partly because I hardly ever do what you do, discuss AGW face to face. I mix with people who are pretty well-educated, and sometimes have strong opinions about the environment, but I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who has anything but the vaguest idea what the IPCC is. So if, as sometimes happens, I say: “But the IPCC says…” I’ve lost them. I’ve established my intellectual superiority temporarily, but what good does that do? I’m likely to put them off the subject entirely rather than to convert them.
    My ideal would be to make them say to themselves: “I didn’t know that. I’ll go home and google IPCC and find out more.” But how likely is that?

    The IPCC statement about chaotic systems is if course of capital importance. But what do you do with it? Quote it at dinner parties? Embroider it on a bedcover for the guest room? Turn it into a pop song? I don’t know the answer.

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  21. Mark. I am humbled. I assumed, without the necessary evidence or analysis that the consensual do what they do in response to sceptic pressure when it is much more likely that the driving forces are in reality the lack of any confirmation of their climatic nightmares, and the impossibility of replacing carbon spewing energy sources without causing major harm. I take minor reassurance that, in an earlier post, I did mention fear of the general public’s response to energy starvation adversely affecting their lives.

    Must repeat one hundred times “we sceptics are not as important as we think”

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  22. Germans have a track record of dehumanizing opponents with broad brush condemnations and attributions of motive that is world class.

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  23. Alan

    Please don’t be humbled. I always enjoy reading your contributions, and we at least can hope we perform an important service, even if it’s just in questioning the alarmism when we meet and talk to friends and acquaintances who unthinkingly accept the MSM alarmist narrative. I don’t flatter myself that I am a great persuader, but I have had conversations that have resulted in the other party being perplexed, unsure, and going off to have a think about it.

    Maybe that’s not brilliantly successful, but it’s a start.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. GEOFF

    I would argue that a spectacular opportunity presents itself when you find any individual who’s unaware of the IPCC statement on climate change. Here you have the unique privilege of introducing the individual to the foundational Truth regarding the current state of climate science and it’s claims. And this without “science-speak”, i.e., charts, graphs, ice-cores, volcanic studies, reams and reams of academic journal papers, etc.

    Rather than lose them, haven’t you gained the chance to plant a seed?

    I don’t know exactly what you mean by, “established my intellectual superiority”, i.e., I’m not sure what your definition of “superior” means in this instance. I personally would think *not* of myself as “intellectually superior” to the ignorant individual, but rather as “factually superior”, if I were to include the concept of “superiority” at all in my thinking. I would view myself as a holder of objectively verifiable Truth that the ignorant individual can both easily confirm, but more importantly, from which he/she can *greatly* benefit in their personal belief system.

    Whether you’re likely or not likely to “put them off” I suppose would depend on your approach to discussing the subject matter and how you handled their ignorance of it. In the end, however, there’s nothing you can do to change an individual’s mind about anything. That’s going to be up to them as far as it is. Their own desire for and curiosity about the Truth you offer them will largely determine what happens next. You’ve planted a seed of Truth and now it will either be watered and grow or it will not.

    But as for you…their blood is no longer on your hands, so-to-speak. You told them the Truth.

    With regard to the possibilities that come from seed planting, I would refer you to Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. Whatever else one may think about Jesus, he was spot-on with his arguments here, as evidenced by the worldwide spread of Christianity from one man.

    What to do with the IPCC statement I suppose is a question of preference, creativity and how much of an activist one is willing to become. The possibilities are endless. Wherever you discuss AGW with individuals on blogs (if you do) use the statement as a starting point. Get it posted on the internet everywhere you can. That’s how they forward their arguments; “they” meaning the AGW crowd.

    Had I a few thousand $$$ to blow I might consider buying some billboards in some University populated cities of the US and having the statement (naturally with my bolded sections added for particular emphasis) placed upon them. Alternatively, one could have some T-shirts made with, say, a cleverly worded environmental tag-line in the front and the IPCC statement on the back. Give them to your friends who are willing to wear them and speak with people when asked. If you think people would ask…I’m not sure what the protocol in your neck of the woods is with regard to such things.

    In the States? Oh you could certainly get some conversations going without much effort.

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  25. MARK:

    “Their second problem is that they don’t have an answer as to how run a functioning modern economy while shutting down GHG -emitting forms of power generation…”

    In the United States, a rather large group of individuals ascribing to Statist thought are more than willing to subject the common man to whatever evils to which he will be subjected in favor of their goals.

    May I offer you two examples of evidence for the above – these are two examples specific to the United States from arguably two of the most important utilitarian sectors of the US economy: energy and health care.

    With regard to energy, see the following:

    With regard to health care, this (bold mine):

    “‘Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,’ Gruber said. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

    Gruber made the comment while discussing how the law was “written in a tortured way” to avoid a bad score from the Congressional Budget Office. He suggested that voters would have rejected ObamaCare if the penalties for going without health insurance were interpreted as taxes, either by budget analysts or the public.

    “If CBO scored the [individual] mandate as taxes, the bill dies,” Gruber said.”

    http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/223578-obamacare-architect-lack-of-transparency-helped-law-pass

    The point being that certain adherents to a certain political philosophy don’t particularly care about the effect(s) of their desired outcome to the common man. In fact, they’re willing to lie to the common man to get their policies implemented. The ends justify the means, regardless of the pain the means brings to the common man.

    We’re experiencing the horror of health care prices rocketing through the stratosphere right now and these people knew it was going to happen all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Su, are you really saying that health care prices are rising *because* of Obamacare, instead of despite?

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  27. The racism smear is made twice in the paper. In addition there is a reference to “neo-Nazis” near the beginning. But zero evidence is provided to support the claim.

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  28. “Su, are you really saying that health care prices are rising *because* of Obamacare, instead of despite?”

    After all the above, is this really what you’re asking me?

    Interesting…

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  29. It goes to credibility, Sy. If you spout opinions that are so obviously BS, what does that say about the rest?

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  30. And you consider it “credible” to employ ad hominem fallacies in your arguments?

    Unfortunate…another one bites the dust.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. PAUL MATTHEWS
    Here’s the section where neo-Nazis are discussed (minus references.)

    More generally, the phenomenon of exclusion of minorities or unpopular opinions has been described in counterpublic theory. It is assumed that groups that are excluded from and/or not being heard in the public sphere may retreat to a safe space where they can voice their opinions, exchange arguments, and form a counterpublic that is in opposition to the mainstream hegemonic public sphere. Since counterpublics touch upon questions of polarization and fragmentation, one major question deals with the counterpublic’s identity and its value for democracy. Counterpublics are often reduced to minorities that seek to change society and democracy for the better, but are not represented in the public debate. However, neo-Nazis and other radical groups also seek representation in public discourse, despite their opposition to democracy. We consequently propose that counterpublics do not only include progressive social movements but also other fringe movements. But as Asen (2000, p. 426) points out, it is instrumental not to confuse a multiplicity of publics with counterpublics.

    All that (plus eleven references to other papers which I’ve omitted) to establish that neo-Nazis are minority groups too. And a final sentence that makes no sense. (There are many such sentences, and I sympathise with the authors writing in a foreign language, but still, there are English-speaking peer reviewers and proof readers.) And all to associate climate sceptics with neo-nazis. Seventeen pages of a byzantine complexity to say “Yah boo sucks, you smell.”

    This is science. Eighty percent of people trust scientists, five times as many as trust politicians and journalists (see MORI trust poll.) This is why science is so precious (especially to politicians and journalists.) Without scientists (and doctors and hairdressers) there’d be no-one you could trust. You’d have to think for yourself, and then where would we be?

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