The Consensus Enforcers’ Fallacy Fallacy

John Cook of the SKS project (neither of which need an introduction here) has teamed up with Peter Ellerton and David Kinkead, both of the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project, to offer a way of “Deconstructing climate misinformation to identify reasoning errors”. The offering in Environmental Research Letters seemingly takes the reader through the logical steps needed to defeat the evils of denialism — hence the term ‘denial*’ is used 34 times in the article. The method outlined in the letter is reproduced at The Nonversation by Ellerton in the form of ‘Six steps to evaluate contrarian climate claims’. But, as we might expect from angry climate warriors, it suffers from exactly what it accuses ‘deniers’ and fails to deliver what it promises.

We offer a strategy based on critical thinking methods to analyse and detect poor reasoning within denialist claims. This strategy includes detailing argument structure, determining the truth of the premises, and checking for validity, hidden premises, or ambiguous language.

The method would be familiar to anyone who has completed the first week of a philosophy degree. Or perhaps even philosophy GCSE. Indeed, ‘critical thinking’ is essentially philosophy lite (not even logic 101), the conceit being that good arguments — i.e. propositions — have structure, such that the conclusion is supported by premises. Conversely, the conclusions of bad arguments do not proceed with validity from sound premises. In short: all denialism is wrong, ergo, all deniers’ arguments will have some gaping logical flaw in them, such that, equipped with the tools of critical thinking, the logical climate warrior will be able to vanquish deniers like some kind of Gaia-bothering Buffy. We’ll come to the method shortly.

The first problem for Cook Ellerton and Kinkead (hereafter CEK), is that logical ‘deconstruction’ is a double-edged sword. I haven’t noticed any improvement in Cook’s argument since he has been introduced to something approaching formal logic. Indeed, who has not seen warmists proceed from untruthful and hidden premises, through invalid arguments and ambiguous language, to unsound conclusions? And who needs a formalised method to identify it, and to call it out? Put bluntly, what the f… is this BS doing in an academic journal?

As a veteren of the below-the-line online climate war, I often encountered individuals who believed that a list of logical fallacies equipped them sufficiently to send us deniers back to where we came from. However, the neo-eco-Aristotle’s own argument invariably revealed no grasp of either the formal definition of the fallacy itself or the argument that had been judged to have committed that fallacy. Pointing it out — you don’t seem to have understood…’ — meant committing the ‘ad hominem’ fallacy. Latin, being the climate blowhard’s real weapon of choice. I encountered it often enough to give it a name: the fallacy fallacy — the use of a logical fallacy (picked by random from a list) to defeat an argument that hadn’t committed it. The point being that seemingly delving into the structure of an argument in fact often forces the discussion away from it. Which is what Consensus Enforcers want.

There is no harm at all in trying to expose the logic of an argument. Indeed, this might adequately describe much of the substance of debates between competing propositions of substance. However, there is harm in simplifying complex debates at the expense of understanding the argument, such as reducing the climate debate to the propositions “climate change is real” vs “climate change is not happening” — i.e. as a debate between ‘science’ and ‘denial’. And there is harm in allowing people to become preoccupied with tactics by presenting ‘tools’ that can only mislead.

Anyhow, back to the letter…

Misinformation, defined as information initially presented as true that is later found to be false (Lewandowsky et al 2012), is a societal issue of growing concern. The World Economic Forum listed online misinformation as one of the top ten global trends threatening the world (WEF 2014). Oxford Dictionary named ‘post-truth’ the 2016 word of the year (Flood 2016) while Collins Dictionary named ‘fake news’ the 2017 word of the year (Flood 2017) in recognition of the prevalence and impact of misinformation.

What preoccupies Lewandowsky or the World Economic Forum is of no concern to me. I judge them both to be highly suspicious (though to different degrees of problem). Ad homs first: the former is a political hack dressed up as an academic, and the latter is a club for billionaires more famous for their epic gas-guzzling hypocrisy than for any meaningful commitment to ‘tackling’ issues like climate change. Reasoning second: it was notably Blair who believed that democracy had failed, and that the future or progressive politics lies with the beneficence of people at Davos. Chilling stuff, which provides the context of ‘societal concern’ belying much deeper political movement: routine contempt for democracy and for the demos… People. And it was arguably Trump who most effectively used the term ‘fake news’ in the year that the Collins made it their word {sic} of the year… Truth, again, is a double-edged sword.

Arguably, ‘truth’ has become ‘a societal issue of growing concern’ not because there is more or less truth in arguments, but because the hollowing out of politics has left only cartoonish, shallow, hollow, vapid claims to truth in place of substantial public debate… From WMDs, through climate change, to Russian hackers stealing elections via social media, claims to truth have increasingly rested, not on a process of judgement, but on the authority of institutions charged with producing it. “Truth” and whose arguments are true, I argue, has less to do with it than ‘who do you trust’? Which makes the subsequent claim all the more interesting…

The issue of climate change has been particularly impacted by misinformation.

My favourite climate misinformation is this…

But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.

It may well be a fact that ‘the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15’. But the appropriate — logical — response is, ‘so what’ — the consequences of slightly warmer years are not obvious or necessary. Of course, the answer is Obama’s next line in his 2013 State of the Union address: ‘Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense’. Heatwaves droughts and floods are all bad things, and more of them means more bad things. But it is not the ‘overwhelming judgement of science’ that there are more of these bad things. It was certainly the judgement of some scientists that these bad things would increase. And it certainly is the judgement of some scientists that they will increase. And it is the judgement of some scientists that these things will increase to become a hugely significant problem for very many people. But the judgement belongs to fewer and fewer scientists at each turn and does not relate to empirical observations, but increasingly underwhelming speculation.
So where was the outrage from the Australians assembled on their basis for concern about the claim that ‘NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax’? Where were the cries of ‘fake news’, or ‘post truth’? Where were the fact-checkers, and the army of activist logicians? I saw only praise for Obama’s speech hailing from the SKS camp. Post-truth indeed.

So it would seem that evidence supports the statement I offer here that the CEK’s claim to be concerned about ‘misinformation’ is hollow. This being the case, the cure proposed by CEK is sinister:

Interventions are therefore required to help the public develop resistance to persuasion from misinforming sources.

Who do these people think they are?

Inoculation theory provides a framework for helping people develop immunity to persuasive misinformation (McGuire and Papageorgis 1961). This approach applies the concept of vaccination to knowledge—it is possible to build resistance to misinformation by exposing people to a weak form of the misinformation. An inoculating text consists of a forewarning of an upcoming persuasion attempt as well as counter-arguments that refute the information.

Thankfully, inoculation theory is bullshit. Of course, the first speaker has an advantage in debate if he can anticipate the counterposition. But this is prosaic. The notion that the study of arguments — pka rhetoric — reveals strategies analogous to immunisation is a disease that only academic psychologists and their idiot funders would fall victim to. Everyone else knows that debate does not end at the second move. It goes on, indefinitely. And failure to admit to debate only causes grievance, not consensus.

The proper intervention in response to arguments or claims you believe to be wrong is an argument you believe to be right. Accordingly, in democratic society, authorities don’t merely trust adult individuals and their faculties of reason; it is the free assent of individuals to arguments, claims, and statements, though contest, that ultimately legitimises authority. Thus authorities have no business ‘intervening’ in debates with ‘inoculations’ — the full extent of their right is the same as any other citizen’s: only to offer a better argument. The psychologists’ sinister motivations are political.

The practical problem for the climate psychologist-logicians is that the patient — for that is how they perceive thinking individuals — must be inoculated before he is exposed to the misinformation. Too late. So they propose a cure, much like a visit to an STD clinic.

We examine a different approach to pre-emptively refuting climate denial misinformation using critical thinking techniques—one that focuses on understanding the logical structure of denialist arguments rather than the truth claims they consist of.

It’s a curious sort of ‘pre-emptively refuting climate denial’ that is offered after having admitted that ‘Inoculation […] requires intervention prior to misinformation being received’… How does one act ‘pre-emptively’ after the fact of the act that was seemingly being pre-empted?

Perhaps CEK are not quite as familiar with logic as they claim. How does one pre-empt the logic of an argument one has not yet heard?

It might be possible, only were it the case that CEK had offered an exhaustive account of all possible arguments that could be offered in support of ‘denial’.
Sure enough, as discovered by Barry Woods, the propositions offered by CEK as examples of sceptic’s statements in the article’s supplementary material show that CEK believe they have exhaustively surveyed every possible sceptic argument… But the list of arguments are not actually arguments made by climate sceptics, shown in the context of debate. They are snippits of arguments from CEK’s imagination.

The Royal Society once tried something not dissimilar. In the height of climate alarmism, the RS saw fir to issue a list of “myths vs facts” that seemed to arm people with knowledge but failed to equip them with any understanding. The ‘consensus’ then, is only useful as an appeal to authority… Sorry, that should be argumentum ad verecundiam. All that the climate warrior needs to know is that he is right, and his opponent is wrong. But as we can see, CEK offer only a limited number of statements from the deniers in their heads, not the arguments offered by real life sceptics.

Furthermore, in advancing this tool of ‘critical thinking’ as a weapon that anyone can use in their fights with deniers, CEK would turn the bearers of those tools into precisely the uncritical, unthinking automatons CEK imagine deniers to be. That’s not merely insulting to deniers, it’s insulting to CEK’s coreligionists also. It says to them not ‘understand the debate’, but ‘go forth and multiply these memes’. They will fall as soon as they encounter the logic of an argument that CEK has not anticipated. Which is to say they will fall as soon as the start.

So what is this method?

Here it is in flowchart form.


It certainly looks impressive. But to anyone who lacks an intuitive understanding of what sense there is in the chart, it is not as much a map to victory as it is a clumsy instruction manual on intellectual suicide. Imagine…

“Observed polar bear population statistics are well out of kilter with what has been predicted by climate change alarmists”

“OK… hang on… I’m just identifying your claim… Got it… Now just constructing the argument… I’m determining inference… Checking validity… Checking ambiguity… Now checking premises. Yes, true, true…”

“Get on with it…”

“Hold on… Cherry-picking, no. Conspiracy theory… No. False equivalency, no. False cause, no. Fake experts… AHA! According to someone at SKS, the person who is most cited on the subject of polar bears by you climate change deniers isn’t actually an expert on climate change… GOTCHA!”

“Well, even if it were true, which it isn’t, so what? The polar numbers should have fallen. They haven’t. The population stats were produced by other people.”

“Damn. Okay. Hold on…”

“I’m waiting…”

“False dichotomy, no… Impossible expectations, no. Magnified minority, no. Misrepresentation… Aha! You have mispresented the researchers – they say polar bears are still at risk. GOTCHA!”

“But that’s their opinion. What counts is what they claimed – what they predicted – and how that stacks up against what has actually happened”.

“Hmm. Okay, okay. Non-sequitur, no. Oversimplification, yes! So you’re saying that because scientists overestimated polar bear population decline, there’s no such thing as global warming! Gotcha”

“Who said anything about global warming? We were talking about polar bear populations – which some scientists said were vulnerable to global warming, but they have grown”.

“Ok. Red herring, no. Slothful induction… what’s that?”

“I’ve got to go in a minute”.

“Hold on, I’m just downloading the supplementary information, to find out what slothful induction is.”.

“That’s very conscientious of you”.

“It says, ’Ignores relevant and significant evidence when inferring to a conclusion. Similar to cherry picking but with an emphasis on neglecting information rather than selecting highlighting information to draw a misleading conclusion’. Are you doing that?”

“I don’t think so.”

“No. Maybe not… Last one, Single cause… It must be the that one”.


“Because it wasn’t any of the others”.


“Our contention is that a basic understanding of argumentation is sufficient to refute a large number of climate denialist claims”, claim CEK. It seems unlikely to me that they will defeat a single one. To anyone with any brains, the proposed toolkit will appear to be more condescending than teaching granny to suck eggs. The possibility that anyone new to the notion of using logic to either construct or deconstruct arguments, will be transformed into a challenging opponent is far-fetched indeed. Which raises the question, who is this intended for? Is it useful advice, offered in good faith? Or is it yet another example of manifest bad faith – the product of anxious climate academics’ displacement activity?

Consider this, for instance…

Whilst the conclusions of inductive inferences are often stated definitively in everyday language e.g. ‘smoking causes cancer’, they are not intended to be definitive. The majority of scientific claims are open to adjustment, correction and even refutation. The ability to state the conditions under which a theory can be falsified, and hence refuted, is an important determiner for discriminating science from pseudo-science (Popper 1957).

Climate denialist claims however, are typically definitive, taking a form such as ‘human activity is not the cause of current climate change’ rather than ‘human activity might not be the primary cause of current climate change’. Similar definitive denialist claims are common (Elsasser and Dunlap 2013)

‘Climate change is not happening.’
‘There is no empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming.’

‘There is no scientific consensus that human-caused climate change is occurring.’

If we are to accept these denialist claims, then like any definitive conclusion, they must be supported by a deductively valid argument.

What’s notable here is that CEK let statements made in informal debate off the hook – an ‘everyday language’ getout applies to definitive statements made in the light of the putative authority of ‘science’. But CEK expect ‘denialists’ to express their claims formally.

But turn the tables on the imagined denialist’s statements:

‘Climate change is happening.’

‘There is empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming.’

‘There is a scientific consensus that human-caused climate change is occurring.’

Are these statements any more or less ‘definitive’ or ‘open to adjustment, correction and even refutation’ than the counterpositions? I would say they are equivalent in the sense that they are, as statements, inconsequential. Moreover, the point still escapes CEK that one can agree with the statements ‘Climate change is happening’ and ‘There is empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming’ and ‘There is a scientific consensus that human-caused climate change is occurring’ and still be a ‘denier’. Furthermore, one can agree with all of those statements and be factually incorrect. A bit like Obama, back in 2013.

Moving, on CEK encourage the warrior to check for validity, and then for ambiguity. It’s as if no warmista had ever failed to check his own argument for validity and ambiguity! It’s as if the claim “CLIMATE CHANGE IS HAPPENING” had never been put down, in black and white by so many people who had no idea what it meant. That is to say that the statement, as used widely, is precisely ambiguous – it is so ambiguous in fact that it can mean whatever the person wielding the truth wants it to mean. It could mean, in the hands of Naomi Klein, for instance, that capitalism must be dismantled or replaced by some kind of eco-anarcho syndicalism (Chomsky). Or it could mean in the hands of Tom Steyer or Jeremy Grantham, that capitalism is the only solution. Or it could mean in the hands of wind turbine merchants, ‘more subsidies to save the planet, please’. In the hands of countless civil servants and NGO activists, the construction of another layer of global bureaucracy. Science, it turns out, produces deeply conflicting messages – as different as denial and science.

Yet it is the sceptics’ arguments that are under the logician’s microscope. No hint that it is the responsibility of CEK and their allies to improve the debate by improving their own arguments.

CEK conclude…

Psychological research indicates that explaining the techniques employed to distort scientific information is an important component of neutralising misinformation. This paper lays out a template for systematic deconstruction and assessment of denialist claims, in order to identify false premises and fallacious reasoning.

Broader research than CEK’s reveals that psychological science is in crisis. It is manifestly dominated by a political tendency. It struggles to produce research that can be reliably and independently verified. And it has clearly allowed itself… no… volunteered itself to be used as a political instrument, routinely. Indeed, it seems to be employed more often towards this end than towards understanding human psychology. Cod logicians have lowered themselves to prop up the worst of this ailing science… A science of easy virtue, we might say.

And CEK are keen to signal its virtues, under a red light, to all passers-by…

Typically, inoculation interventions are information-based, containing facts that counter the misleading information. For example, van der Linden et al (2017) countered the Global Warming Petition Project by communicating the 97% scientific consensus on human-caused global warming, as well as explaining specific misleading elements of the Petition Project. In contrast, Cook et al (2017) used a reason-based inoculation against the Global Warming Petition Project that refrained from mentioning the 97% consensus or the Petition Project. Instead, the explanation of the general technique of fake experts was successful in inoculating participants against the negative influence of the Petition Project. Further research into this approach is recommended, directly comparing its efficacy to information-based inoculations, measuring how susceptible reason-based interventions are subject to decay effects, and exploring whether reason-based inoculations can convey resistance against multiple arguments.

These boastful claims of so many SKS scalps are without foundation. Eight references to Cook’s work are cited eleven times in total. Yet all Cook can really claim is to have increased the hostility of the climate debate, and to have dragged the level of academic discourse to the level of Internet flame war.

Let us call bullshit on this science and its search for funding. Referring to the statements that CEK imagine constitute all possible climate sceptic arguments, CEK say…

Our analysis found that all of the 42 denialist claims failed to falsify anthropogenic global warming. However, these claims are effective in misinforming the public and decreasing climate literacy. Consequently, refuting and neutralizing the influence of this misinformation is necessary.

The models of ‘public understanding’ (i.e. individuals) and science that CEK draw from are, by this admission, ineffective: the sceptics are winning. Preoccupation with “strategy” has not led to warmists budging public opinion one bit. Nor even has it led to an effective consolidation of perspectives on the sceptic camp. Rather, the endless strategising — including endless superficially academic exercises in belittling deniers – has only contributed to the continued denial of debate.

It will be a tough day for CEK when they wake up to the fact that, whether sceptics are right or wrong about climate science, they were right about climate alarmism and climate activists, and that the better strategy would be to have had the debate. It really is that simple. The only strategy able to defeat bad ideas if you believe you have a better one, is to offer the better idea.

But debate is anathema to such zealots. In the meanwhile, the intransigence epitomised by CEK and similar enterprises serves us well. Keep it up, CEK.


  1. I just find it strange that they would not only feel they need a strategy to argue with us, they would need to teach it. If we’re as dumb as they think we are, why would they need to go to all that effort?

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  2. It is not that debate is anathema to the CEK’s of the world.
    It is that they know that in a fair contest of ideas they are unarmed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ben “How does one pre-empt the logic of an argument one has not yet heard?”
    Presumably in the same manner as inoculating someone from a disease one has not yet been exposed to. Given the vast array of arguments to which you can be exposed, the inoculation task would seem endless.

    JoNova, with her handbook, offered a more reasoned and effective approach: offer specific facts and arguments to confront those pushing AGW. In effect this is like providing specific antibodies to cure AGW “fever”. Like medicine, the facts and arguments need updating, as the opposition evolves. At the moment, however, CEK are going down an evolutionary blind alley.

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  4. The idea that someone who disagrees about the interpretation of a complex scientific or political question is mentally disturbed is hilarious. That an academic can push such a silly idea and not be laughed out of the academy is even more hilarious.


  5. Thought I would check up on how much advice was out there, so I used Bing. Inputting “debating skills” I got too much on formalized debates (as I should have expected). Changing to “arguing skills” I got more than 18 million entries. By clicking on three entries on the first page I got better advice than CEK’s. Even the BBC’s bitsize was more informative – although directed towards making better argumentation than analysing that of others. I conclude CEK’s efforts are superfluous.

    Interestingly, on that first page upon arguing skills was an item upon improving your fighting skills. Not much use to me now.

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  6. Hunter. It is not hilarious at all, it should make you weep or sink into despair.


  7. Peter Ellerton at the Nonversation obligingly enlightens us as to the real motivation behind this latest piece of pseudo-academic ridiculousness dressed up as a ‘tool’ to dismantle denialist arguments:

    “Despite scientists’ best efforts at communicating with the public, not everyone knows enough about the underlying science to make a call one way or the other. Not only is climate science very complex, but it has also been targeted by deliberate obfuscation campaigns.

    If we lack the expertise to evaluate the detail behind a claim, we typically substitute judgment about something complex (like climate science) with judgment about something simple (the character of people who speak about climate science).

    But there are ways to analyse the strength of an argument without needing specialist knowledge. My colleagues, Dave Kinkead from the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project and John Cook from George Mason University in the US, and I published a paper yesterday in Environmental Research Letters on a critical thinking approach to climate change denial.”


    ‘Climate warriors are mostly thick and ignorant and take their cue from a higher authority – scientists, many of whom are policy advocate scientists. Few climate activists actually have any grasp of even the basics of atmospheric physics/geology/palaeontology/climatology etc and so cannot engage with climate change sceptics who do and who furthermore are remarkably well informed about the prevailing science and evidence which runs counter to the theory that human emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have dominated recent changes in the climate, biosphere and cryosphere. Hence we’ve invented this wizard method whereby the terminally stupid, the culpably ignorant and the ideologically obsessed can gain ascendance over the rational and the well informed. We’re calling it ‘How to use Critical Thinking’ in honour of the fact that it is anything but, being a mish-mash of pseudo-intellectual clap-trap designed by and for the benefit of pseudo-intellectual poseurs.’

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  8. If “Post-Truth”, “Fake News” and “misinformation” are new terms that dominate current arguments, before discussing them it is first worth defining them. Respectively from the Oxford Living Dictionaries website, Urban Dictionaries and Ecker et al 2012

    Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

    Fake News
    Parody of network television newscasts that exploits the absurd in current events for humorous intent rather than being concerned with providing complete and well-balanced information.
    or (there are others as well)
    A term formerly useful for describing websites consisting entirely of intentionally fabricated news stories, but now used to describe virtually anything that does not mesh with one’s own views.

    “defined as information that is initially assumed to be valid but is later corrected or retracted”

    To combat “post-truth” I propose that you need to focus on what is most likely and what is less likely to be true. To combat “fake news” you need to appreciate there are other perspectives to one’s own (whether “one” is an individual or part of a collective). Then to compare and contrast the perspectives, with the facts available. When you recognize these elements you may gain an inkling that identification of a statement as “misinformation” may be both what is untrue and what disagrees with the opinion of those making the declaration – or it might be a declaration of “fake news” on the basis of the second definition.

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  9. I think “slothful induction” is the problem I have with the climate scientific community. While I look at the data and find large mitigating factors for the acceptance of global warming and it’s partner in crime, catastrophes, seemingly intelligent and sincere scientists don’t find them an obstacle. The acceptance of runaway global warming caused by CO2 as the reason that a planet with a 93bar atmospheric pressure at its surface has a high surface temperature is bizarre. They know the gas laws but somehow draw a counter intuitive reason for the temperature of the planet is CO2. There are many baffling interpretations of the data too many to produce here, but to me they are “slothful induction”. Clearly there is something I don’t know.

    Or as Charles Dickens put it when describing Mrs. Gamp’s bedroom. “The room was commodious – if you ignored the presence of the bed.” “Slothful induction”.


  10. Good Lord, man, just look at the raw data. Google the words: Sea Level NOAA Battery. The representative (of world conditions) graph shows no trend change back to 1850-such a linear trend implies the absence of any pronounced influence on climate outside of nature for the entire Industrial Revolution . If there were a correlation between warming and CO2 in the atmosphere, an obvious disturbance of this linear trend would be present. QED
    Google Sea Level NOAA Battery-graph shows no trend change back to 1850-linear
    ∴no man-warming


  11. Very nicely skewered Ben.

    I think psychology should be counting its days to retirement. I’m not sure that it has ever solved a problem other than in one to one cases. In moving into the climate debate it is trying to find a new purpose, since solving other problems has failed. Outside academia, they run the risk of people finally asking ‘what DO you do?’ Those areas where they can show success are such localised or small scale as to be pointless. Their tests of ‘inoculation’ are a good example. Sure, in theory, giving a group of people intensive arguments about global warming might make them slightly more likely to favour action but that pales into nothing compared the to the persuasive power of massive energy bills.

    Sceptics don’t need any other argument than ‘do you want to pay for this?’ * The cost including lifestyle as much as basic money. The answer, even amongst warmists is mostly ‘no’. Much environmental science is an energy rich civilisation’s self indulgence. All those jet-setting scientists are burping in the face of their beliefs. What do they do but catalogue stuff they say they know already and then meet up to gossip about it? What’s the point observing all those creatures and environements when they already know the main reasons they decline, that could be avoided (eg habitat destruction, human predation and real pollution). Those three are uncomfortable truths for warmists because the West can’t be held more responsible than any other group. They WANT it to be us because we’re the only people listening to them.

    * There are other and better arguments for scepticism but it’s the price tag for cutting CO2 that’s driving resistance to climate hysteria. Similarly it is the ‘cost’ of believing in god that is driving atheism, not the persuasive nature of atheist’s arguments. I’m coming to wonder if the prevalence of belief in god in the past was more a feature of ecclesiastical punishment in this life than any belief in punishment or reward in the next.

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  12. I think anthropogenic global warming happens, because we emit CO2 and methane, they accumulate in the atmosphere, and this causes a tiny bit of energy retention which drives up temperature. I also think the current energy retention rate is about 0.6 watts per meter squared, that this energy is slowly being transferred into deep ocean water, that sea level rises, that some of the warming is related to fuzzy issues such as a rebound from solar minima, that we don’t have a good idea about cloud feedback, that damages from climate change are exaggerated…for example those “sinking pacific islands” aren’t really sinking. I have no respect whatsoever for individuals who claim we can substitute fossil fuels with wind and solar energy. I know we are running out of oil and gas and therefore we do need alternatives, and these do have to turn up over the next 30 years. And I believe I have a better handle on the overall issue than Lewandosky, Obama, Figueres, Hansen, Mann and Oreskes. All of them together aren’t fit to discuss the issue with me for 30 minutes. I don’t have to be innoculated because I know the things I do. And I believe most warmists are simply brainwashed, and can’t be reasoned with. The same applies to cornucopians who think fossil fuels will last forever or that fracking is like dilithium christals or helium four mined in lunar mines.

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  13. Oldbrew, I’m a petroleum engineering consultant with four decades’ worth of experience. Anybody who makes that type of comment is a charlatan. At best hes trying to sell company stock, or get mullets to buy his bonds. Forbes or any “business oriented” publication just isn’t the right place to find out about Permian resources. I suggest you go talk to Walter Guidroz and ask him what he thinks. And tell him Fernando sent you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. As many have observed, this is standard issue Skepticalscience bilge. it is climate alarmists and activists who have a story and a line to sell. Skeptics follow, as questioners and gadflies. Cook’s pretty algorithm fails at the first step ‘identify claim.’ What claims do skeptics make? It is the alarmists who make claims, all of it. The reality is, skeptics are themselves in the position Cook so badly wishes to be: where one opponents make claims and you have the luxury of posing pesky questions and dissecting their arguments.

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  15. A big clue that CEK and those in their camp are full of it is that they require special pleadings and special new forms of argument to prevail.
    Above all they cannot actually argue with skeptics in an open debate or discussion.
    Instead they have to suppress, censor, isolate, pathologize, misrepresent and dehumanize those who disagree. Hit squads combing media to intimidate any editor writer or producer who dares to allow a skeptic to be heard. Faux social study academics to write papers and books explaining why skeptics must be ignored. Endless NGOs to “communicate” climate change “effectively”, as well as provide cushy jobs to climate warriors.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Fernando Leanme:

    I know we are running out of oil and gas and therefore we do need alternatives, and these do have to turn up over the next 30 years

    Here’s what france did with nuclear in half that time:


  17. science is dead……

    Ken Rice:
    “I think you’re missing the point of the paper. It’s presenting a list of arguments, why they’re fallacies, and possible counters. This doesn’t actually require finding actual examples of these arguments.”

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Liked by 1 person

  19. FL,
    Whether or not Morocco, Egypt or Nicaragua should have nuclear plants, The big industrialized powers that hopefully will keep some semblance of order in the world, should have them. You can bet Russia and China intend to keep working on them.


  20. The “big industrialized powers” didn’t stop Israel, South Africa, Pakistan, India and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. If nuclear plants are built all over, the design has to be such that the spent fuel doesn’t have the isotopes to make a nuclear weapon. And this is my concern, because I know we are running out of fossil fuels, and renewables don’t cut it.

    I read articles and discussions by people who tend to think as if the “first world” were in an isolated bubble. Some of it seems to be due to the hard wiring between the left (which I consider closet communists who don’t dare display their religious Marxism) and the climate change mania. And some of it because to many of you the billions on the other side of the fence are like cardboard cutouts of primitive people sitting around a campfire, static, never changing. But these third worlders want a piece of the action, and they do go chaotic (although one could argue the largest source of instability in the world is Netanyahu and his plan to clean out Palestinians, which is causing a lot of tension).

    Anyway, think about it. There will be a time in the next 50 years when humanity needs something else because oil and gas won’t cut it. And renewables at best are resource extenders.


  21. Let’s not talk about choice of technique in a conversation about the logic of consensus enforcement!


  22. It is more than passing strange that Biology, Astronomy, Physics, all of which have done far more to destroy paradigms of the world than “Climate Science”, don’t require social psychologists to make their cases. The scientists of those fields do just fine.
    Ron Clutz, in his essay ” Rise and Fall of CAGW” explores why “climate science” has always required special support.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Ben,
    You ask the important question:
    “Who do these people think they are?”
    One appropriate response would be to post their not-so-secret self fantasy pictures playing dress up.
    They should still be available.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Fernando,
    Blaming the Israelis for the work of the Islamofascists and their attacks in the middle east and worldwide seems rather unfair.

    Liked by 4 people

  25. I can’t help thinking that for a bunch of people concerned with aiding the public with critical thinking at the Nonversation, that they are totally inept at dealing with critical thinking using a different set of criteria than their own carefully edited set. I lament at the deleted comments but am not surprised. The whole thing misses the point of ‘what if the other side goes off piste?’ What if sceptics don’t present something illogical? What if they have a good point… or many? While the warmist runs through the argument flow chart for the first point, we’ll be throwing dozens more into the debate.

    Katherine Mulholland writes “The deniers sow the seeds of doubt. Perhaps their most successful seed is the conspiracy that all climate scientists earn huge sums working for corporations that use climate science for their own evil ends.”

    Nope, almost nobody uses that as an argument. I quite like using ‘the crusading warmist scientists are humanity hating idealists who are very poor at their jobs and will lie to cover up the holes in their arguments and use their closed shop to keep out dissenting voices. They will blame anyone and anything for their lack of success but their own pitiful endeavours’ On which the Nonversation proves my point.

    It’s ironic that an article heavily using climate deniers as subject matter should delete comments about the climate debate as being off topic. Without the climate theme, the paper is a run of the mill rehash of some rules of critical thinking and would have no place in a journal as new work. As AK mentioned, others have done it better.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Tiny – It’s ironic that an article heavily using climate deniers as subject matter should delete comments about the climate debate as being off topic.

    It’s not unlike climate psychologist George Marshall who offers advice on ‘how to talk to a climate denier’ but who refuses to discuss climate change with climate sceptics.

    It is no less an irony that the ‘experts’ in ‘communication’ have no experience of communication, aren’t very good at it, and yet present themselves to policymakers with the answers.

    Competence is typically a barrier to progression in the public services, after all.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. ATTP’s tweet is instructive. Climate activists have little desire for debate and some of it is strategic, as they admit themselves; debating would give a sembleance of disagreement over positions they believe they have captured. Pretending to hold incontrovertible opinions deprives oneself the ability to form meaningful arguments, and importantly, deprives the field of people capable of making rational arguments. Idiocy is favored over intelligence in protected domains. The inability to meaningfully question skeptics’ objections manifests in the form of tangents “but, messieurs, what you propose is a technique we call ‘cherrypicking.’ Shall we now discuss the various techniques used by people like you of which I have a list of? ‘Argument’ then decomposes into a shroud of meta-arguments about logic and its fallacies that lies over the real arguments underneath that activists avoid. When taken to its extreme, activists abstract a ‘fallacy’ for every statement that comes their way, irrespective of its content, which is what ATTP does here. He has no need for any actual arguments themselves!

    Liked by 3 people

  28. TinyCO2: (just for fun) peer reviewed psychology paper..
    (Lew cites it, author was a peer reviewer of recursive fury, then ducked out)

    A survey says,

    15% of psychology undergrad students surveyed ‘believe’ this:
    – Climate change” is a myth promoted by the government as an excuse to raise taxes and curb people’s freedom. –

    15% of psychology undergrad students surveyed ‘believe’ this:
    – The “science” behind climate change is at least dubious. –

    9.5 % of psychology undergrad students surveyed ‘believe’ this:
    – The idea that the world is headed for catastrophic climate change is a fraud. –

    24% of psychology undergrad students surveyed ‘believe’ this:
    – Governments are suppressing evidence of the existence of aliens.

    18% of psychology undergrad students surveyed ‘believe’ this:
    – The American moon landings were faked.-

    this ‘results’ are far ‘worse’ than the climate logs surveyed… future psychology professors? !


  29. In the body of the paper;

    Premise One: The Climate has changed in the past through natural processes
    Premise Two: The climate is currently changing
    Conclusion: The climate is current changing though natural processes

    [then they use critical thinking to knock this sceptic argument down]

    [But who – sceptic – has actually said this, in that form, it reads as if the conclusion, presented as the sceptic conclusion, is what the writer ‘thinks’ the sceptic is arguing, rather than their actual argument – no judgement if this is subconscious or deliberate]

    This is not the ‘sceptic argument though.. and is very simplistic.
    Actual sceptic arguments are more nuanced.

    The climate has changed in the past,
    how do we know that the current changes are not natural ones…
    do we understand natural climate change enough, to rule out this as a factor.
    and assuming natural climate change has not stopped [or has it? what evidence],
    what proportion of changes since pre-industrial are natural vs AGW, and how do we come to that?

    [now many sceptics do accept warming over the timescale as AGW, I’m fine with IPCC AR5, myself as best current understanding), some may say less, and some none or very littele, and they may of course be wrong, as shown by the science.. but there argument, is not the characature of their argument put forward in this paper. This is the thinking climate science itself used/uses to understand climate. ]

    These 42 arguments described in the supplementary material

    Click to access ERL_aaa49f_Table_S2_Analysis_of_42_Contrarian_Claims.pdf

    are not direct, referenced, quotable arguments made by any actual sceptic, but paraphrased, simplified (to the point of misrepresentation? – ie example I give) interpretations of sceptic arguments written by the contributors to John Cook’s Skeptical science website a number of years ago.

    (a large number written by James Wight (a self described, then teenage boy who was being homeschooled at the time, who on his personal blog states he is/was fighting sceptics. Have they accurately represented sceptic arguments, or misrepresented them, to knock them down again

    [not to say James cannot be accurate, etc, but academics might be wise to check carefully. ie would you say accept Greenpeace activists quotes of opponents, without checking carefully, or a political activist claims of what his political opponent says, without checking actual source carefully where people are highly motivated emotionally involved individuals – no relevant academic qualifications – and just may not be fair/accurate – no intent]

    This is one of the comments referred to in discussion on twitter – that The Conversation deleted – with addition of some notes [in the square brackets, and typos/grammar corrected]

    Liked by 1 person

  30. CEK have published bloopers from their ‘video abstract’.

    Aside the original video being embarrassing in every possible respect, what self-respecting authors of journal articles would dramatise their study? They seem to think that by publishing in a journal, their crass toolkit and video won’t look like a political stunt.

    But who could see the video and fail to form the impression of CEK as a trio of pricks? I don’t say it to be mean, or pointlessly insulting — it’s a demonstration of their abilities to ‘communicate’.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Too true Barry. When Lew’s paper came out, I noted that even had Lew’s eye wateringly bad paper been done properly, the percentage of sceptics believing in conspiracies was lower than figures I’d seen based on the general population. I also thought the choice of conspiracies had the potential for political bias and even international bias. For instance the Princess Diana conspiracy might appeal to a different audience than one that fretted about moon landings. The conspiracy about the Iraq war was essentially dropped because Tony Blair pretty much admitted that it wasn’t a conspiracy. What does that make those who didn’t believe it? This kind of science is poorly thought out and quite pointless.

    The most curious thing surrounding the psychology of sceptics is that nobody ever seems to ask the obvious question of the subjects ‘why do you believe what you do?’ Or even ‘what is the specific conspiracy you believe’. The answers to those questions would be far more instructive but difficult to put into a table of like minded loonies. So do I believe AGW is a tax scam? Of course not, but I do believe the funding warps the field. So if there’s money to study the effect of climate change on turtles, the researchers find climate change. Even when destruction of egg laying beaches, fishing nets and the butchering of turtles are the prime reason for their decline. The researchers find what they want to see and stop looking. Instead of one really good study of turtles, out pops many such studies, really adding very little to useful knowledge. Meanwhile more urgent but less sexy issues want for funding.

    It might distress Dr Lew et al, that I hadn’t read a single word from sceptics about AGW when I started to question my blind belief in the science. My scepticism was triggered by the ‘consensus’ as much as anything. It didn’t take much of a logical step to wonder how such a confident statement could be applied to such a new and complicated issue. The ‘debate is over’ was a red flag since I was a keen follower of science and remembered no such debate, let alone it being decisively won. If they’d lie about such obviously wrong statements, what else were they lying about?

    Liked by 2 people

  32. This SKS type of “debunking” is so old and tired it is painful to contemplate it yet again. Some people are so unable to do useful science, they must resort to destroying straw men. As pointed out above, if you look deeply enough, probably half of what people believe is wrong. Most of what anyone believes is not very carefully arrived at. It’s just more crassly political science from those who feel virtuous when they “debunk” illogical beliefs. This is a symptom of a character flaw. Being unable to actually change anyone else’s opinions in the real world, they debunk idealized arguments that are mostly characatures of what real people believe.


  33. “(although one could argue the largest source of instability in the world is Netanyahu and his plan to clean out Palestinians, which is causing a lot of tension).”

    Antisemitic, pig ignorant filth.

    Netanyahu has no such plan, although those of us who remember the atrocities carried out by the “Palestinian” terrorists when they were the primary conduit for KGB terrorism into the West – car bombing from Japan to Argentina and all points in-between, blowing airliners full of innocent travellers out of the sky, hijacking cruise ships and throwing wheelchair-bound passengers overboard because they were Jewish, training and arming the entire alphabet soup of terror organisations including the Provisional IRA wouldn’t shed any tears if he did.

    Israel is the very front line in the battle between 21st century socially liberal civilisation and 7th century genocidal barbarism, and Israel requires all the help and support that we can give her, and attitudes such as yours are far more harmful than anything that Netanyahu could come up with.

    If Israel succumbs, it is highly likely that Western civilisation will succumb to Islamic fundamentalism a thousand years of science, philosophy and civilisation will be lost and the World will revert to pre-medieval barbarity.

    You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself, but knowing your sort, I’m sure you aren’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Reading through the collected works of John Cook at the Conversation, I found this article.
    Cook engages with critics in the comments, and immediately demonstrates why arguing with denialists is a bad idea.

    In reply to Joel Taylor’s question:

    Do you deny that only 65 of the 11944 studies were rated as endorsement level 1 i.e the only endorsement level that explicitly attributes most of the warming to man?

    Cook replies:

    …we found that different papers affirmed the consensus in different ways, which is why we binned them into different categories […] If you look at only abstracts that quantified the degree of human-caused global warming, the percentage of abstracts endorsing the consensus was something like 88% (apologies, I’m just remembering off the top of my head). But this was a small sample size, because not many papers get that specific in the abstract.

    Cook is admitting that he made up the 97% claim. At one point he says: “My article is based on decades of empirical research..” Well, yes, in a sense professor. In the same sense that my every utterance is based on three thousand years of accumulated wisdom, but I don’t boast about it.

    The article dates from June 2015. In the comments under the article Cook is identified as a “Research Assistant Professor, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University,” a post he took up in September 2017. Yet another example of climate science altering the past.

    Liked by 3 people

  35. Cat. No one is blameless in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. You conveniently ignore everything from the Stern Gang to illegal settlements in your unbalanced support of Israel. Israel has the right to exist (and flourish), but so does Palestine. In both there are people of good will and “terrrorists”.


  36. Geoff,

    Cook may be many things—though I can’t think of one off the top of my head—but what nobody can deny is that he has a real way with words. You can be skeptical, but you can’t deny it. Not when he writes things like:

    “…we found that different papers affirmed the consensus in different ways, which is why we binned them into different categories […]”

    Throwing science in the bin? How pre-Enlightenment. How pro-Unsinn. I wonder if “dust” was one of the categories.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. John Cook Data – how true!
    Do you think he changed his name by deed poll to reflect his abilities?

    Liked by 1 person

  38. I’m surprised no-one’s mentioned the Cathy Newman / Jordan Peterson interview. What are CEK doing in their article other than saying: “So what they’re saying is…” 42 times?
    Here’s Scott Adams on the Newman /Peterson interview.

    At one point Scott comments:

    After you see it for about the twelfth time, that she says something as a restatement of what he said that is nothing like what he said, just completely different, and then he’ll laugh and corrects her, you can see what’s happening. She is quite literally hallucinating in front of you. He is triggering each one of these. They’re all different, but he triggers them one at a time by having the argument she can’t refute, but also can’t accept.

    The big question we have to answer is: How do you deal with a peer-reviewed hallucination?

    Liked by 6 people

  39. Geoff — How do you deal with a peer-reviewed hallucination?

    I would be tempted to say “some kind of inoculation”. But I suspect the pathology is far, far more complex, and the delusion far deeper than previously thought…

    Fortunately, it only seems only people who are confined to campuses are vulnerable to whichever pathogen causes this traumatic break from reality. There seems to be little risk of this epidemic breaking out of the academy, to start affecting the wider population.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Is a peer-reviewed hallucination similar to a review of a hallucinating peer? As when the BBC reevaluated Lawson’s belief that it had been getting colder?

    Liked by 2 people

  41. I watched a BBC debate about the Middle East where there were people in Israel, Palestine, Egypt, London and New York, plus a presenter in another location. None of the speakers could hear each other. Each time a person made a comment, the presenter would package what they’d said in the most extreme interpretation and then put that to the others. The replies were treated the same way. From a series of reasonable comments the presenter managed to turn the debate into a shouting match.

    Liked by 2 people

  42. Ben

    There seems to be little risk of this epidemic breaking out of the academy, to start affecting the wider population.

    If you’re right, the solution is within reach. Put the academy in quarantine and spray it with contempt. This is roughly the alt right doctrine, and very dangerous too, if carried on for long.
    But I’d suggest the epidemic is pretty much everywhere where the academy commands respect, i.e. in the media and the political establishment for a start.
    A society which distrusts its press, its politicians, and its professors is in a bad way. We know from the MORI trust poll that it’s true for the first two, but not the third – yet.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. Geoff – A society which distrusts its press, its politicians, and its professors is in a bad way. We know from the MORI trust poll that it’s true for the first two, but not the third – yet.

    The problem with trust polls (IIRC) is that all academics are lumped together, such that the pomo sociologist, with newfangled theories on identity is equivalent to the researchers who discover cures for cancer.

    I would wager that it is the latter, indeed, that the respondents to surveys have in mind. But had they been pressed to express their degree of trust in queer theorists who claim there is no biological basis for the notion of two sexes, it would be markedly lower score. I can imagine some researchers and producers of TV programmes being impressed, but not so much the wider audience.

    As we’ve seen with Lew giving evidence in Westminster, committees of MPs can seem to be especially credulous. However, we can’t rule out here the desperate need experienced by many of those MPs for authority… Or even purpose… So out of touch are they with their own constituencies. Academics and NGOs have filled the void left by the rise of professional politics and the concomitantly excluded demos.

    Liked by 3 people

  44. Only just looked at the last 20 or so comments. I almost wanted to like them all. It wasn’t just Brad that made me laugh (Chambers is a habitual offender) but

    Cook may be many things—though I can’t think of one off the top of my head—but what nobody can deny is that he has a real way with words. You can be skeptical, but you can’t deny it.

    is wonderful. And I found this a profound bit a personal history and reflection from Tiny:

    It might distress Dr Lew et al, that I hadn’t read a single word from sceptics about AGW when I started to question my blind belief in the science. My scepticism was triggered by the ‘consensus’ as much as anything. It didn’t take much of a logical step to wonder how such a confident statement could be applied to such a new and complicated issue. The ‘debate is over’ was a red flag since I was a keen follower of science and remembered no such debate, let alone it being decisively won. If they’d lie about such obviously wrong statements, what else were they lying about?

    They’re lying about everything they need to to keep the alarmist gravy train on track, which is a lot. (My own story is a little, though not much, different. I was sceptic in 1988, according to what I told Anthony Watts as we walked through London in September 2014. There’s truth in that. But I normally date my denialism from meeting an irate and articulate Rio Tinto geologist discussing the carbon cycle in a cafe in Bristol around 1992. Another time.)

    Well done Ben for prompting this lot. I’m off back into the bowels of JavaScript.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Geoff, to be fair, no one trusts social scientists anymore. The likes of Simon Wrong-Lewis might grow beards attractive to those who like smelly unkempt academics of small repute, but I think Gove nailed it. How about this comment about the immaculate Mark Carnage, nails groomed by workers cleared of sex trafficking involvement, and his claims for the efficacy of the immediate post Brexit rate cut,
    in the aftermath of the surprise recent rate rise

    dep gov Ben Broadbent said that was “true to some extent”, adding he didn’t think a couple of 25 basis point [0.25%] rises in a year would be a great shock

    So if two rises are no big deal how was one cut a big deal? I guess if you send out your absent-minded professor out at the crack of dawn he is more likely to go off-piste.

    And then we have this, again from

    Today’s numbers provide their own critique to the rhetoric of Mark Carney and the Bank of England. Let me show you the two. Firstly the data.

    The largest upward contribution came from manufacturing, which increased by 3.4%

    Yet according to the Bank of England this is the “speed limit”.

    the MPC judges that very little spare capacity remains and that supply capacity will grow only modestly over the
    forecast, averaging around 1½% a year.

    If you think it through logically it is an area where you would expect physical constraints and yet it does not seem to be bothered. Indeed the other area where there are physical constraints has done even better on an annual comparison.

    construction output in Great Britain grew by 5.1% in 2017

    So as ever the Bank of England prefers its models to reality and if you listened carefully to the press conference Ben Broadbent confirmed this. What he did not say was that he is persisting with this in spite of a shocking track record.

    It all makes Ken seem like an intellectual

    Liked by 1 person

  46. The reactions to the new version of Civilisation might be interesting. Whereas Kenneth Clark focused on the Renaissance, our new team will focus on the menus of cafés along the Old Kent Road and tell us that civilisation erupted in Zimbabwe


  47. Geoff,
    I would submit that the Academy is earning the contempt it increasingly receives, just like the press and politicians.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. MIAB,

    for my part (not that anyone asked), I can trace my denialism back to a specific, life-changing event in the 1970s: one day, I was minding my own business when all of a sudden my mother gave birth to me.

    Yes, I was born a climate infidel. I didn’t think there was a global warming problem then, I don’t think so now, and I haven’t thought so at any moment in the intervening years. It surprises me that so many perfectly intelligent skeptics had to be “converted” to skepticism, because unless my memory is playing tricks on me, there’s NEVER been a scientific reason to take the CAGW story seriously. Or am I forgetting something?

    Liked by 2 people

  49. Brad, Perhaps you are forgetting the overwhelming support given by scientific organizations and political bodies (of all persuasions).
    Your permanent scepticism was clearly inherited and you can take no credit (or blame) for it.

    Liked by 2 people

  50. But Brad, there must be a global warming problem. Why else would bodies such as Oxfam, the Institute of Electrical Engineers, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Free Foresters and Dacorum Borough Council publish statements about combating it?

    Liked by 3 people

  51. Geoff — “How do you deal with a peer-reviewed hallucination?”

    I think we have become lost for words.

    If the meaning assigned to a word changes, over time, and the original meaning becomes archaic or obsolete, does that result in us having lost the ability to provide a usable description of, and context for, a novel claim or assertion for which that word would once have been an appropriate and fitting response?

    Take the word ‘stupidity’, for example. If it has little value to modern society other than as a cheap slur – the use of which invites censure on the overly-regulated playing field of idea exchange – does that mean stupidity no longer exists to us as a recognisable human psychological trait?.. that we have ‘evolved’ a sort-of virtuous blindness to a set of symptoms which leaves us, as a consequence, giving an equality of weight to their expression as we do to the expression of the sensible? And is this self-inflicted impairment-of-vision not the cause of much malaise and confusion in our era… setting us apart from our forebears for whom the word ‘stupid’ was not seen so much as an insult but as an observable diagnosis – by which an appropriate level of value (if any) could reliably be given to the ideas and claims formed by the sufferer of that condition?

    The etymology of ‘stupid’ is the Latin stupidus, from stupere ‘be amazed or stunned’. And we might think the word came into free circulation – with its original definition attached – as the identifier of an unusual response to ordinary external stimuli… such as, to a fluctuating climate or to a common turn-of-phrase (we could add ‘be terrorised, outraged or offended’ as a subset to the defining characteristics of ’stupid’ and its meaning here would remain intact).

    Children, of course, spend much of their time being variously amazed or stunned by their external environments – but we’ve never tended to describe childhood as a period of gross stupidity. Instead, we recognise the need to provide the child with adult supervision until such a time that he or she is more able to rationally contextualise their experiences so that they are no longer felt to be so overwhelming in this way (curiously, the climate alarmist is never slow to protest how overwhelmed he is by the ‘evidence’… as if we should care).

    The privileging of stupidity – without naming it (and indeed, in making its identification a social taboo) – by legislating against the ordinary in the service of stupefied responses to it, provides both an endorsement to stupidity as a viable state-of-mind as well as to the corresponding ‘need’ for an extended and powerful supervision – or authority – as a viable means of managing it. As a project, the amount of power appropriated becomes proportionate to the level of frenzied response to the ordinary it is possible to excite (and condone) in people.

    Liked by 2 people

  52. Sounds like Ken has hit a new low, Barry. But I trust you’re grovellingly thankful that he even allows you to keep commenting at his hyper-relevant, sky-high-impact überblog. It’s a rare privilege.


  53. Let’s go back to the first comment

    . If we’re as dumb as they think we are, why would they need to go to all that effort?

    We threaten them with our random responses that work in references to many areas of study, of which they do not know, such as sociology, history, physics, biology, chemistry, anthropology, metrology, economics…


  54. Richard Drake (12 Feb 18 at 4:57 pm)
    I know what you mean, about wanting to like every comment. I frequently do that, sometimes even liking my own. I’ve just liked a comment by ManinaBarrel though I only had the vaguest idea what it was about. As Cook and his Queensland mates imply in their paper, you don’t need to know about climate science to know that when a paper counts an article about grasshoppers in the New Zealand alps as evidence for a consensus about manmade global warming, something is badly wrong. So with Mark Carney and bank rates, which like global temperatures, are more likely to up than down, if the future is anything to go by.

    Brad Keyes (13 Feb 18 at 11:57 am)
    What you call being born a climate infidel (or post natal infidelity) is known clinically as birth trauma. We all get it. You’re only unusual in being aware of it from day one. Most of us have to spend years on the couch to find ours.

    PeterS (13 Feb 18 at 6:11 pm)
    I came on your comment about stupidity just after watching a Jordan Peterson clip about the implications of the fact that the US Army is banned by law from recruiting soldiers with low IQs. As with your examples from etymology and childrearing, the US Army’s judgements are empirical and practical and not moral. For some reason your comment reminded me of Peter Cook’s Mr Wisty sketches, which would probably be considered incorrect nowadays. Which probably has a link with ManinaBarrel’s comment about the new Civilisation series and the menus on the Old Kent Road.

    I loved your comment about overwhelming evidence. Surely the sensible response to anyone who is overwhelmed by the evidence is to ask: “If you’re so overwhelmed, then how can you be sure your judgement isn’t being affected?”

    Liked by 2 people

  55. Perhaps I am finally growing up but whereas I used to visit sites such as the fizzics one just to chew the fat, watch the display of certainties and the amusing attempts to crush heretics along with ATTP’s hand-wringing “I’m very humble” dissembling, I cannot find the energy to do that anymore. The closed minds no longer amuse me. Those guys are travelling along one railway. We travel along another path or, more importantly, a set of paths. They are committed to a single view of the future. We have our own ideas and probably would like very different end states. Pluralism versus ATTP

    Liked by 3 people

  56. ATTP, with his blatant bizarre-o world hypocrisy of condescending to post at skeptic sites while censoring skeptics at his site makes me totally uninterested in revisiting his site.
    Of all the yokel reactionary true believing faux intellectuals, I find Ken the most banal and least self aware, and he does have a lot of competition for that designation.

    Liked by 2 people

  57. I stopped posting at ATTP’s site when it became apparent that they’d not accept the most unimportant disagreement with their personal doctrines. It wasn’t enough to have their own opinion, they’d argue that I couldn’t have my own and must be lying. I had to accept that we are different species, with almost no common ground by which to make judgements. It’s like trying to explain the pleasures of birdsong to a society of deaf people.

    Liked by 2 people

  58. Imagine it –

    “So you get enjoyment out of another species talking about sex and domination? You like it best when you’re in bed, first thing in the morning? You record it….”

    Can we rule out that ATTP and his buddies are not being obtuse but just lack something?

    Liked by 1 person

  59. Tiny,

    Obviously they’re not “being” obtuse so much as they ARE obtuse. More pointedly, their chronic obtuseness entails, a fortiori, acute obtuseness.

    And yes, obviously they lack something. It’s called acuity, acumen, etc. To put it bluntly, they’re not the sharpest scissors at the Special School for Children at Risk of Stabbing Each Other. Tragically, choking on wet tofu remains the leading cause of death among ATTP’s groupies. We’ve tried raising their awareness of this danger for years, but alas, their IQ is rivalled only by their Mohs’ Hardness for sheer… er, not-very-highness.


  60. Ken seems to be a fascination here. A string of consecutive posts about him, irrespective of the fact that he has not commenting in this percussion (true a tweet from him was incorporated into Barry Woods’ post).
    Shall we have a go at Len now? Surely he deserves it. How dare he/she/they/it keepsake quiet.


  61. But he is commenting AK, just not here. We could talk about you if it would make you feel less neglected.


  62. Tiny. I cannot, and do not, claim neglect. I just saw the situation here as rather unusual, and thought others might be intrigued. It was by no means a criticism. Ken deserves everything he gets and, by selectively moderating his own blog, deserves stronger medicine. I still find the situation somewhat strange.
    Please continue.


  63. Having just learned that we are indeed being talked about… I don’t think it’s quite Ken who wins at banality and un-self-awareness, Hunter. This just in from Dullard, following his confrontation with the recently dearly departed Len from these quarters…

    Dullard@ATTP: Sixth, that you conflate me with Mr. Pile may indicate that you must be new to ClimateBall. To recap, he edited all my comments on his site, edited most of my comments at PaulM’s (assuming cliscep is not his gig anymore), blocked me on the tweeter, and forced Brigitte to close down the thread where we were exchanging at Warren’s.

    It is true that the Dullard’s language is more flowery than the Ken’s. He fancies himself as Quine. But on the banality and lack of self-awareness scores, he’s always playing with his own Climate Balls (a neverending audit), whereas Ken has at least established his own blog with traffic, albeit while commenting at every site under the sun rather than developing a coherent perspective of any note. The former can only dream of his own language really being ‘a social art’. Instead he gets only to moderate others’ language, while catalogueing every last infraction against the rules, as he sees them. Not even consensus enforcers find Dullard very interesting.

    Len to Dullard says,

    I’ve only ever had online discussions with skeptics and their mode of debate is often unprincipled – in just the way you are demonstrating here.

    Which is why Dullard thinks Len is ‘conflating’ me with Dullard. My exchanges with Len here are very few of the responses to his 344 total ‘contributions’ as Len, added to which he posted 464 comments as ‘RAFF’, making at least 808 comments, not including other aliases’ interventions. So it’s not clear to me why Dullard would imagine Len would conflate Dullard and I on that basis. It would seem that I’m a bigger deal to Dullard than to Len.

    If Len really believes me or any of us to be ‘unprincipled’, though, my question is the same to him and Ken: if you think we are unprincipled {or whatever}, why would you post here so much, so often?. Ken himself, in spite of his feelings about a similar hostility, posted here no fewer than 653 times, which beats my own contribution of 557 comments.

    Ken and Len post a lot for people so convinced that it this place is so infested with unprincipled deplorables. Len was perhaps a slight improvement on RAFF, whose posts were endless, pointless, childish invective. It is a surprise to me to learn that any grown up believes such a style of posting would yield a ‘principled’ mode of debate in reply. Ken, too, complains that,

    I don’t think there is anyone I’ve encountered who is worse than Ben Pile when it comes to engaging in good faith (or not) and, in particular, I don’t think I’ve encountered anyone ruder than Ben Pile. I don’t particularly care that about the fact that he’s incredible {sic} rude. The problem is that he is both incredibly rude and an utter snowflake when it comes to anyone responding in kind.

    It is a particularly peculiar complaint, not least because what is emphasised ‘in particular’ is subsequently not the object of particular concern.

    This would be a good time for Ken to read CEK’s lessons on logical consistency. Neither good faith not logic seem to be concepts Ken has any understanding of. Worse, he seems resistant to attempts to explain them to him.

    It is peculiar also because I’ve never sought out a discussion with Ken. (Indeed I’ve blocked him on Twitter.) Ken, on the other hand, has sought confrontations with me, and others, and agreed with me that he wastes his time here, yet demands hospitality, and doesn’t much welcome sceptics at his site with open arms and cups of tea…

    Dullard perhaps knows better, his comments here are far fewer — 13, of which 9 are directed at me, still standing, yet which we know would not be standing were they the expression of equivalent sentiments directed at him or the host at the site he moderates. Moderation as a subject of discussion also being verboten at ATTP, most of Dullard’s comments here and about me there, and indeed his sore comments about me everywhere else the subject of me arises, are precisely about moderation, per the quoted passage above.

    1. “he edited all my comments on his site”

    Not true. I deleted all his comments at my site. He was given an ultimatum: stop trolling or be deleted. He didn’t stop. Do the math.

    2. “edited most of my comments at PaulM’s (assuming cliscep is not his gig anymore)”

    Not true. I edited just one, perhaps two, comments on Cliscep which were personal invective (against me).

    3. “edited most of my comments at PaulM’s (assuming cliscep is not his gig anymore)”

    Not true. I have no admin privileges, nor even login account for Paul M’s website. I can’t remember having even posted a comment there, though it is possible I have.

    4. “blocked me on the tweeter”

    True. Blocked him many years ago. Precisely because it became very clear very early on that there was no possibility of a discussion developing between us. All he wanted to do was whinge about having been deleted. A subject he seems clearly not have been overcome in the six (!) years since, such is the burden of his ego on his fingers.

    5. “forced Brigitte to close down the thread where we were exchanging at Warren’s.”

    Not true. Brigette’s decision to close the comments at the Uni of Nottingham blog were her own, and had nothing whatsoever to do with me. As far as I could tell the only reason Brigitte had for closing the comment threads there (if there was anything out of the ordinary about her closing the comments) was that they were so overpopulated by the Consensus Enforcing crowd who were livid that such a respectable institution had seen fit to publish the work of such a disreputable climate change denier. Indeed, that is why Dana N demanded a reply to my post there, such anger having been amplified when Mike Hulme commented about my blog approvingly.

    From which we can establish…

    1. Dullard has a long, bitter, angry and slightly faulty memory, and his long memory is equal to his capacity to bear a grudge… (Six years is long enough for any deleted blowhard commenter to have got over it).

    2. Dullard is much happier to delete other people’s comments than he is about having his own comments deleted. Dullard would say that I, too, have both deleted people and complained about having been deleted/blocked (which is true, I have), but a) I usually only feel the need to mention it once or twice, b) I don’t bang on about it for the best part of a decade, and c) I am not quite so prolific as he. Moreover, d) I only ever banned 4 people from my own site, Ken and Dullard included, and only suggested that prolific trolls be banned here: they and Len as RAFF.

    3. Dullard is a liar and a paranoid conspiracy theorist… I seem to have the keys to all the blogs he has been removed from, edit, or shut out of. I am Teh Boss of ALL the deniers! (Mwah ha ha ha ha ha!).

    4. Dullard cannot improve his argument.

    So I would suggest that, in Consensus Enforcer Top Trumps, Ken is only more prolific than Dullard.

    But it’s a close game, however. High scoring (i.e. 99th percentile) in the categories of lack-of-self-awareness and banality are prerequisites for Consensus Enforcement. Which brings us back on topic…

    We would see more logic, wouldn’t we, if logic really was in the Consensus Enforcer’s toolkit. Over there, we see Ken asking his readers — Kenizens — to help him construct a Chinese menu of bricks to chuck, from the SKS list of sceptics’ logical fallacies, if a mere snippit of an argument looks like it might some how correspond to an item on SKS/CEK’s list.

    But that’s not about logic — meaning and argument. It’s closer to stamp collecting. And it’s about as interesting.

    If it is any more interesting, here is the moment Ken Rice and I met…

    Ken Rice cannot claim that he was not indulged. The interesting thing about it is that then, as now, Cook did not understand the logic of his own paper: the categories into which the papers analysed by his 97% survey were not equal to the task. The missing logic of the categories was explained, and explained further to Ken, who was at the time posting under the moniker ‘wottsupwiththatblog’. Ken resisted the logic, and his ethic of ‘trying to keep the conversation civil’ lost momentum. His passive aggression was the only answer to the logic explained to him: since he had conceded that he, and the argument he was defending, might have some shortcomings, we, too, on the other side of the debate, must concede that Ken’s understanding of the paper was the better interpretation. He complained that we had dismissed climate scientists {sic} out of hand (we hadn’t) but was approving of Tom Curtis’ suggestion that Mike Hulme is an idiot. There was, and never is, any logic to Ken’s argument.

    Note, Ken’s comments at my blog are still there. The word-wizard’s aren’t.

    The rest is history. Except it didn’t change, develop, advance, progress. Hence, I have not sought any discussion with Ken Rice. I gave him all the time and space needed to show that he really was committed to a ‘civil’ discussion. But he revealed the fact himself, that he was, from the outset, an SKS troll.

    Liked by 2 people

  64. Over at WattsUpWithThat, Eric Worrall points to an NYT article about a family that was destroyed by the father’s climate fanaticism.

    From the NYT article:

    He couldn’t let his family off the hook either, and resentments deepened. “When people asked me how things were going, how I was doing, I’d say, ‘He’s doing important stuff, and it matters,’ ” says his ex-wife, Malinda, who asked that her last name and her children’s names not be used to protect her family’s privacy. “I’d also say, ‘I really respect Gandhi, but I wouldn’t want to be married to him.’ ” Both Malinda and her older child say they felt constantly judged, and frustrated, by Foster’s inflexibility. In 2014, Malinda filed for divorce, and his children said they no longer wanted to be part of his activism — or part of his life.

    Malinda says the emotional scars Foster left are profound. “I think he believes he is doing what’s right, and he would be the first to say he’s doing this to protect his kids,” Malinda told me. “What’s tragic is that he’s traumatizing his kids’ present, and what good is the kids’ future without their present?” Things might have been different, Foster’s older child added, if he had presented climate change to his kids as something to be aware of, not something to fear. If he had responded to their occasional reluctance with understanding instead of anger. If he had listened. “When I hear someone mention climate change now, I just feel this overwhelming guilt,” Foster’s older child said. “I think, 27 trees. I’ve only planted 27 trees. I haven’t done enough. I have so much further to go.”


    Judge Fontaine sentenced Foster to three years in prison, with two of those years to be suspended and served on supervised probation.

    Is it too much to say that, somehow, some individuals have internalised the climate debate to such an unhealthy extent that they lose purchase on what is important, and the norms of human interaction, including reason?

    I do not believe that it is not too much to say it, though Peter S and Geoff will have a better understanding of how such things happen than I can offer.

    It does not seem to me too much to say also that green ideology is the contemporary ideology which is most blinding. The tragic case of Foster (more for his family than for him) is far from unique.

    I think it must be the case, too, that until the extent to which green ideology has been internalised is properly understood, there is little sense to recover from temperature records, much less climate activsts ‘research’ or blog comments.

    Liked by 5 people

  65. Reading some more of AndThenTheresPrevarication — Ken’s longstanding attempt to defend climate science from climate deniers by defending non-climate non-science research into climate deniers ‘tactics’ and ‘pathology’, and the rubric of Dullards climateBollocks. The former’s effort is simply a half-decade of special pleading, punctuated by episodes of frustration. The latter’s is a borrowed from Calvin and Hobbes (in which the rules of the game are invented, and never used twice) and forced over a view of the debate to facile effect.

    Facile, because the extent to which there are ‘rules’ of any consequence, they are rules which are established at UNFCCC meetings, mostly behind closed doors, and by in fact secret negotiations between diplomats. The discussion of the rules outside of those party to them — i.e. in the media — is a much lower priority to journalists than expressing the need for them. Under the UNFCCC, there have been 23 COP meetings, 13 CMP meetings, 47 SBI and SBSTA meetings, and probably many more besides. Online discussions matter not one jot to that process. It is not even a slight breeze to a supertanker. Yet it is online ‘denial’ that so vexes organised and self-motivating Consensus Enforcement to motivate them to “document how contrarians proceed” (rather than have the debate).

    A new psychology paper is being circulated. In The effect of ad hominem attacks on the evaluation of claims promoted by scientists, the authors claim,

    Two experiments were conducted to determine the relative impact of direct and indirect (ad hominem) attacks on science claims. Four hundred and thirty-nine college students (Experiment 1) and 199 adults (Experiment 2) read a series of science claims and indicated their attitudes towards those claims. Each claim was paired with one of the following: A) a direct attack upon the empirical basis of the science claim B) an ad hominem attack on the scientist who made the claim or C) both. Results indicate that ad hominem attacks may have the same degree of impact as attacks on the empirical basis of the science claims, and that allegations of conflict of interest may be just as influential as allegations of outright fraud.

    (Aren’t ‘college students’ adults? Or is this some vernacular?)

    Naturally, climate comes up…

    Numerous studies have shown that scientific information may not have as much impact on the public’s attitude as trust in scientists and government policy-makers [13–15]. Given the evidence for a link between trust and public opinion, cases of fraud and misconduct, and conflicts of interest may play a powerful role in shaping the public’s trust in scientists and the ability of scientists to influence the public. The popular media sometimes covers stories involving scientific incompetence (e.g. the Fleischmann and Pons affair) and fraud and/or misconduct committed by scientists [16–18]; and there is no shortage of reporting on scientists with conflicts of interest [19–22]. Personal email communications of several climate scientists were leaked to the public in 2009 in an event known as “climategate”. These email communications revealed that scientists sometimes engage in ad hominem attacks on their peers, and knowledge of these emails likely led some to distrust the authors of these emails [23].

    It’s not the paper’s main focus, however. The mention of climate refers to Ad hominem arguments in the service of boundary work among climate scientists

    Most accounts of an ideal scientific discourse proscribe ad hominem appeals as one way to distinguish it from public discourse. Because of their frequent use of ad hominem attacks, the Climategate email messages provoked strong criticisms of climate scientists and climate science. This study asks whether the distinction between public and scientific discourse holds in this case and thus whether the exclusion of ad hominem arguments from scientific discourse is valid. The method of analysis comes from the field of informal logic in which argument fallacies like the ad hominem are classified and assessed. The approach in this study focuses on a functional analysis of ad hominem—their uses rather than their classification. The analysis suggests three distinct functional uses of ad hominem remarks among the Climategate emails: (1) indirect, (2) tactical, and (3) meta-. Consistent with previous research on ad hominem arguments in both public and scientific discourse, these results reinforce the common opinion of their fallacious character. Only the remarks of the last type, the meta- ad hominem, seemed to be non-fallacious in that they might help to preempt the very use of ad hominem attacks in scientific discourse.

    This seems to reflect CEK’s method. But rather than its attention being on the entire imagined and context-free arguments offered by ‘deniers’, it focuses on the actual arguments made by real scientists involved in Climategate.

    To step back a bit… It seems clear to me that much of the body of work that CEK epitomise, including Cook’s broader work, and Lewandowsky, is categorically ‘ad hom’, in both obvious and less obvious ways. (And ways that I’m not sure the first article above does not suffer from). ‘Obvious’ in the sense that Lew et al make direct claims about individuals’ psychology. And less obvious in that psychologists concerned with ‘communication’ make claims about individuals’ competences (and lack of them). CEK, for instance, presuppose that no argument offered by a ‘denialist’ can be logically sound.

    You can point out to Lew, Cook, whoever that their studies are flawed. But you have to go to rather extreme lengths to make them notice, and to respond. Lew insists that criticism may only come through the ‘proper channels’ — i.e. from within the scientific ‘community’… But that would make academia a ‘community’ apart. When we see that there is no basis in such a distinction — scientists behaving badly — we see that the only plausible distinction is access to institutional apparatus. Entitlement.

    In other words, academic intransigence seems to legitimise ad hom criticism of ‘scientists’. Obviously, not ‘ad homs’ along the lines of ‘your mama…’. However…

    The history of the outcomes of skeptics’ criticisms of climate science occasionally vindicated their concerns and vitiated their critics’ patronizing and abusive ad hominem remarks. It turned out that the criticisms from these skeptics should have been addressed with rebuttals related to content, not ad hominem attacks. In this case the climate scientists’ anti-skeptic arguments were fallacious as a class because they seemed based on an intent to defend their character, not to defend their science. Jones’s argument to deny requests for data that came from anyone associated with McIntyre’s ClimateAudit website is one blatant example. Thus one can dismiss such arguments because they seem intended to fend off criticism rather than respond to it. Moreover, to label the ad hominem attacks on skeptics in this way is itself an ad hominem argument, but is it also fallacious? Since the discussion included admissions among the scientists that McIntyre’s criticism had merit, his request was vindicated and their rebuff was exposed as a ploy. Thus to issue the ad hominem argument that their anti-skeptic arguments should be dismissed becomes valid. Such an ad hominem about ad hominem remarks is more that a mutual ad hominem; it can be seen as a meta-ad-hominem argument. In a sense such an ad hominem remark is a corrective to the lower-level practice of ad hominem attacks and thus appears to be a helpful, nonfallacious move in the discussion.

    We can see the warmist psychologisers of ‘denial’ as essentially trying to legitimise academic ad hom against political critics. Then hiding from criticism behind academic privilege when legitimate ‘meta’ ad-homs are fired back. The walls of the campus do not legitimise academic intransigence. Behind the walls, ‘academic’ conduct is made of no better substance than any blog post. Yet nobody is arguing that criticism of blog posts is to trespass against some sacred ground, though it is observed that a Consensus Enforcer tendency — a number of which are allegedly academics(!) — exists to disrupt discussion about the criticism and the meta ad-hom. The second paper concludes…

    The results of this study also suggest future efforts to alter the use of ad hominem among scientists. Perhaps the most troubling impression from this analysis of scientists’ discourse is the wet blanket it throws on the hopes we might have for the role of science in the larger society of which it is a part. In his ethnography of gravity wave scientists, Collins fantasized: “[S]cience done with real integrity can provide a model for how we should live and how we should judge.”38 He makes this claim not because he finds perfection in the practice of science but because he found practitioners of science in a
    community who openly revealed their imperfections. This community, he boasted, gave him virtually
    complete access to their work. On account of this transparency he felt he could trust them implicitly. As a
    result he concluded at the end of his analysis of the process of science that in laying bare the imperfect
    nature of science, the virtuous character of scientists is revealed as well—a model of behavior for the rest of us. How different is the spirit of the conclusion of this analysis. Climate science and the climate
    scientists who practice it are inevitably found to be as imperfect as Collins’s gravity wave science and
    physicists. Human frailties affect science of all kinds. What distinguishes good from bad science is not
    the quality of scientists’ results but the candor of their reporting. The scientists as represented in the
    Climategate emails behaved imperfectly as scientists, but their imperfections became public only after
    their siege mentality had been breeched by a desperate act of boundary invasion. Ironically, when done
    with integrity the rhetorical process of creating the boundaries that separate good from bad science might
    model for the rest of us the process of discerning the difference between good and bad thinking.

    Not all academic in psychology and communications are the same, it seems. Good to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  66. Ben Pile’s comment @ about Valve-Turner Peter Foster is an extreme example of the logical and empirical fallacies of the climate alarmists in relation to policy. When he was turning the valve he proclaimed.

    Keystone Pipeline. North Dakota. I’m Michael Foster. In order to preserve life as we know it and civilization, give us a fair chance and our kids a fair chance, I’m taking this action as a citizen. I am duty bound.

    There were other people who turned valves, and collectively they managed to stop 590,000 barrels from flowing.

    Fallacy 1 – To claim that 590,000 barrels are a lot of oil in relation to the CAGW issue. Related to the fuel you put in a car 590,000 barrels is a lot, but globally represents about 0.000038% of global oil reserves. Even if burning of oil were the primary cause of “dangerous global warming“, and proven oil reserves were all the oil that existed, this is a pinprick.

    Fallacy 2 – To think that token actions will be a catalyst for further action. Courts would take a dim view if the primary motive for acts of criminal damage or public nuisance was to inspire widespread replication of those acts. Similarly “Britain leading the way on Climate Change” was the main justification mantra for the Climate Change Act 2008, as an 80% reduction of 1.5% of global emissions makes little marginal difference.

    Fallacy 3 – Declarations of intent are not successful policies. Most countries would say that global emissions need to be reduced, but the sum of all the intentions on emissions (INDC submissions to COP23 Paris) is not sufficient to stop emissions from increasing. The chart below, produced by UNEP last year for COP23 Bonn, demonstrates the huge emissions gap between intentions and targets.

    Fallacy 4 – Just because someone (or a group) believe that something is the case, does not necessarily mean that it is the case, no matter how many arguments they put forward. If the evidence of experiment or experience (in all its variety) does not support a claim then it is unsupported. Even if all the available evidence is in support of an conjecture, it still might ultimately be completely or partially false.

    Fallacy 5 – Just because people reject moral priorities does not mean they are in denial. They could have different moral priorities or perspectives. For instance, the children of Peter Foster might believe in climate catastrophism, but they might also accept that they need to go school and they might want to enjoy life. Or countries developing might believe in climate catastrophism, but also might believe that applying mitigation policies is both useless and harmful to more pressing priorities of reducing poverty and maintaining political stability.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. I can’t help noticing the causal chain here.

    No desperation for ‘unequivocal consensus’, no MBH; no hockey stick, no climategate; no climategate no Lew.

    Had those behind the political ambition been slightly more patient, all of this could have been avoided. Notably, Bernie Lewin argues that the IPCC came very close to being shut down. The hockey stick saved it.

    Can we say that climate ‘science’ has improved.


  68. Geoff (13 Feb 18 at 10:06 pm) – although ‘IQ’ may be a very useful measure of intelligence, it might not be so helpful in ascertaining a person’s maturity. It’s not uncommon to come across people who are exceptionally bright (clever/quick-witted, etc) in their fields of interest but who struggle to find in themselves the emotional spectrum required for entering into and maintaining mutually-rewarding relationships. And the lack of this resourcefulness can leave the impalpable perception of ‘others’ as being a threat (especially if their ideas and views are significantly different enough)… someone to flee from or fight, rather than step forward towards and willingly exchange with.

    Which brings us to Ben’s linked example of Michael Foster – the man who believed ‘fighting climate change’ (and accepting a likely prison sentence for doing so) was a far more urgent project for him than being a good enough father to his young children and husband to his wife… two types of relationship requiring a high degree of emotional resourcefulness if they are to meet the needs of their participants.

    It turns out that when Foster was three, his own father was shot dead – shortly after his mother had walked out on the family. If it’s true to say that parents – and particularly fathers – provide an internalised sense of a strong boundary to the outside world for a small child (until he has used this to develop and rely upon his own boundaries), then being cruelly – and prematurely – robbed of this protection at such a young age could well have left Foster with a lifelong internal terror of the outside – the environment – and whatever real or imagined changes he believed it directly exposed him to. This may explain why, as an an activist, Foster opted to tour schools and scare young children about the environment and what they needed to do to ‘make it safe’. As he anticipated, Foster has been sent to prison for his part in closing off an oil pipeline. And here we might ask ourselves – what more secure and reliable a boundary to the outside world could a man with an overriding felt-need for one hope to find than four cell walls?

    Liked by 2 people

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