When you think of the world’s premier upcoming symposium for groupscience and the Climate and Consensual Sciences, you probably think of VienCircSciConCommConSciCon2018.
Those in the know-who may even think of WienerSchaft18. Whatever you prefer to call it, here are a few more highlights from this year’s program. (Remember, the one I illegally stole / serendipitously received in a previous episode of CliScep?)
When discussing their results, some authors are listed as “___________.” No, I didn’t redact their names from the email in a last-minute attack of FOIA-like decency. The organizers simply don’t know who they are yet. The relevant articles have been requested, or “invited,” but are still awaiting some finishing touches (writing, submitting for consideration, und so weiter).
I can’t stop you from reading the following ill-gotten info. As usual, reader, all I can do is appeal to your conscience and hope you’ll do the right thing: to wit, Like/Facebook/Retweet it sight unseen, so that everyone in your clique, coterie, retinue, entourage and khalasar can likewise promulgate it without reading a single word.
It’s called respect, people (and people’s friends, and their friends’ friends, etc.).
PAPER Medicalizing Dissent:
A Slippery Slope Or Just The Regular Kind?
Day 2, 1030–1230
“The discipline known as heresiopathology, best associated with the pioneering work of one of us [S.L.], has made crucial contributions to our understanding of both denial and denialism. It may even lead to a cure one day,” says Dr Richard Pancost, the lead author of a provocative new paper with Professors Stephan Lewandowsky and Lawrence Torcello. But Pancost is the first to acknowledge that such research also raises ethical concerns that cannot be dismissed lightly.
“The prospect of a recrudescence of Soviet-style psychology, whereby there must be something ‘wrong’ with anyone who denies mainstream evidence, gives us all pause. And rightly so,” he explains, “because once we treat denial as a disease, haven’t we opened the door to excusing it? Haven’t we let our fellow humans off the hook, not just morally but (in the long term) criminolegally, for rejecting science?”
This must-see seminar opens with a dystopian suggestion: could ‘skeptics’ at a future ‘Climate Nuremberg’ cheat the noose by pleading recursive fury or conspiracy ideation—thus living out the rest of their days in prison, or even in the luxury of a psychiatric clinic, at the expense of the innocent taxpayer?
“It’s not enough to say how offensive this [outcome] would be to our shared moral intuitions,” Pancost points out. “We also need to work towards an ethical and jurisprudential framework in which slick, fossil-fuel-funded defense attorneys won’t be able to get away with such perverse arguments.”
“In the very act of acknowledging a sickness, do we forfeit the right to punish it? Not necessarily,” argues the paper.
As a proof of concept, analogies are developed with a handful of conditions that are simultaneously organic in nature and morally odious: conditions like nicotine addiction, pedophilia and obesity.
“By reframing denial as a weakness or temptation, the resistance of which is a precondition for being called good, we hope to make it possible for society to ‘have its cake and eat it too,’”* write the authors in their Conclusions. “That is, to understand without thereby forgiving [science rejectionism].”
*This is a figure of speech only and does not reflect the views of Deutsche Gruppengedankgruppe GmbH. Consult your medical professional before eating cakes, confectioneries and other pre-diabetic “gateway drugs.”
PANEL The Rise of the Citizen Scientist:
Are We Too Late To Stop It?
Day 1, 1300–1430
Habitat Dome, Floor 5
Distinguished Professor Michael Mann, who has been cleared of all criminal charges by in-house investigations on two continents, will chair a lively roundtable discussion of the impact of ’citizen scientists.’ Is the phenomenon incurable or merely pernicious? (Will the prestige literature ever truly be a Safe Space again?) How do respectable scientists sneer at offers of ‘assistance’ from amateurs without appearing pompous? How should they react to false, defamatory and hurtful accusations of withholding data: by ramping up the invective, or giving in and releasing the data?
Do citizen auditors strike at random? Is there anything a professional scientist can do, wear or say to avoid their malicious attentions, or is that just a bunch of old wives’ tales?
You’ll even get the chance to ask the panel anything you like during the Q-and-A period, but will lose your nerve at the last minute in the face of so many tenured Professors—something you’ll regret for years to come. Still, the vast majority of questions from the floor will be constructive, and the format will work out quite well (notwithstanding an ugly incident at the 58-minute mark, when a non-Platinum attendee will be escorted out for asking a destructive question).
Is it Really a Prerequisite for Believing?
Day 4, 1100–1230
From its inception, climate messaging has catered exclusively to a religious style of cognition. It is no accident that the key pro-science communicators (figures like Vice President Al Gore, Prof. Katherine Hayhoe and Dr John Cook) are well-versed in centuries of Christian apologetics, and consciously model their outreach on the tricks and tropes of evangelism.
But what about the small but growing demographic that has no time for Gods? These people traditionally wind up in the Too Hard basket—yet an audacious new paper argues that atheists, agnostics and other self-styled ‘free thinkers’ “may also be reachable […] if we can learn to speak their language.”
“The problem,” says lead author ___________, “is that people who reject religion tend to be what we call non-vicarious, auto-, or self-thinkers. Needless to say, appeals to consensus are a turnoff, if not an insult, to individualists. So how do you even begin to communicate science to them? Our current tools—which can be broken down into peer pressure (argumentum ad majoritatem) and shaming (argumentum ad verecundiam)—simply bead and roll off their backs.”
To find out what this long-neglected population would respond to, the authors took the unusual step of asking them.
What they found was that godless Americans “want to feel privy to a better, secret way of understanding the universe. To them, ‘the vast majority of scientists’ are mediocrities, by definition.
“We therefore recommend that the majoritarian-consensualist (Oreskian) paradigm [of climate communication] be replaced, or rather supplemented, with a superioritarian-elitist (Dawkinsian) rhetoric.”
But the article poses a harder problem than it solves, ___________ hastens to admit.
“What is this special knowledge, exactly, asks the reader? Unclear at the present time. That’s why our paper ends with a question,” says ___________—a question that remains as unanswered today as when Professor Jonathan Overpeck first asked it, twelve years ago:
If you know the answer, or just want to hear your colleagues’ crazy guesses, don’t miss this session. ■
Stay tuned for more next Teil.
Meanwhile, the DGGG marketing juggernaut is already in full swing.
The conference is months away, but Austrians can barely turn on their televisions without being grinned at by the prognathic, acromegalic face of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The nation’s favorite son, chief export and most famous citizen in recorded history is believed to have an eight-figure, ten-spot contract with the Vienna Circle Institute to act as its its 2018 Ambassador.
‘Act’ is not necessarily the right verb. One TV ad has a digitally-juvenated Arnie back in his stomping ground at Gold’s Gym, Santa Monica. He seems to be shouting the same three motivational phrases over and over again at fellow bodybuilders, who pretend to be grateful for the wisdom. In a confusing departure from his tried and true “Come ahhhn!,” however, he exhorts them to:
“Get blown away!”
Behind him a Greek chorus of bikini bimbos intones, “On new ideas, to new ideas, by new ideas, on new ideas,” ad tedium, until the camera pulls in for a final closeup on Our Hero.
“WienerSchaft,” sloganeers Schwarzenegger slightly salaciously, ejaculating CG saliva from the gap in his incisors with each sibilation. “Where All The Hottest Ideas Cum!™”