The Neurobiology of Climate Change Denial

Much work has already been undertaken to establish the cognitive foundation for the irrationality of climate change denial. Of particular note are the studies undertaken by Lewandowsky, Kahneman, Shapiro and O’Conner, identifying the many cognitive biases that invalidate arguments put forward by those who profess scepticism in the face of the scientific evidence. However, it is not until recently that neuroscientists have turned their attention to the subject of climate change science denial in order to determine whether there are any fundamental neurological indicators that may be used as predictors of such pathological thinking strategies.

Of particular interest is a recent paper1,“The neurobiology of climate change denial”, by Dr Rodriguez Azuela et al, of the Positano Behavioural and Cognitive Research Unit. By revealing significant neural pathologies, the paper promises to throw new light on the puzzling irrationality that appears so intransigent to those who would strive to engage the public’s support for climate change mitigation. In Dr Azuela’s own words:

“We were interested to see how the pattern of neural activity differed between climate change deniers and those who accept the scientific consensus. In particular, we looked for differences whilst they considered the evidence put forward for anthropogenic climate change. For this purpose, subjects who had declared varying degrees of scepticism were confronted with images totemic of climate change evidence and were asked to offer their personal assessment whilst undergoing functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).”

The fMRI images, which are basically snapshots of the brain in action, revealed notable differences between the deniers and those who accepted the scientific consensus. Dr Azuela:

“Whilst there were no deterministic differences between the groups, there were clear statistical variances that suggest a characteristic neuropathology. In the case of the deniers, counter to the normal pattern of activity, significantly activated regions included the left caudate, bilateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) and para-hippocampal gyri. Activations in the putamen and the globus pallidus were significant at p<0.005 (uncorrected), but no activation was found in the nucleus accumbens.”

To the layman, the significance of such variances is obscure. However, to the neuroscientist the coloured patterns on an fMRI are as revealing as any lie detector. As Dr Azuela explains:

“Curiosity levels modulate activation in such memory-related areas, so these results indicate a significantly reduced level of the curiosity one would normally associate with deferred judgment ideation.”

In other words, the deniers were simply unreceptive to the evidence presented and, instead, were activating brain regions associated with memory recall in order to entrench their preconceived ideas. These findings are in keeping with the psychologists’ concept of the availability heuristic, a cognitive bias in which new evidence is too readily rejected in favour of experiences that carry personal, emotional salience.

Such revelations should come as no surprise to those who have made it their business to study the logic employed by climate change deniers. However, other results were perhaps more surprising. Dr Azuela again:

“Of more concern, however, were the modulations of activity found within the orbital frontal cortex, insula, anterior and posterior cingulate, amygdala and anterior superior temporal gyrus, since they demonstrated a statistical alignment with the functional neuroanatomy of psychopathy.”

But before you choose to accuse all climate change deniers of being psychopaths, Dr Azuela has a word of warning:

“It would be quite wrong to label climate change deniers as psychopaths based upon the results of this study. Psychopathy exists as a spectrum of human behaviour; in this instance the fMRI results simply indicate an unusually low paralimbic reaction to a perceived threat.”

In other words, the climate science deniers aren’t nut jobs after all—they just don’t care enough. But I’ll leave the final word to Dr Azuela:

“In reality, studies2 have shown that confirmation bias poses the greatest challenge to cognitive performance. Those that suffer this bias will accept what they read unquestioningly, whilst others remain instinctively suspicious. Doubt should have kicked in at the suggestion that Positano has a Behavioural and Cognitive Research Unit. However, if you still failed to recognize the inauthenticity of this article, perhaps you should now be questioning any faith you might have had in the scientific consensus.”

References:

1 Azuela, R., Ho, M.T., Malaxic, T., Bernstein, F., (2018), “The neurobiology of climate change denial”, Journal of Environmental and Economic Studies, Issue 16[2].

2 Westen, D.; Blagov, P. S.; Harenski, K.; Kilts, C.; Hamann, S., (2006), “Neural bases of motivated reasoning: An fMRI study of emotional constraints on partisan political judgment in the 2004 U.S. presidential election”, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 18 (11).

85 thoughts on “The Neurobiology of Climate Change Denial

  1. At last! We can scientifically identify those who are unworthy of the brave new world of climate belief. Now for a final solution to thoroughly cleanse the world if denialist scum!

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  2. I’m sure that upon their dedicated fMRI machines they had warning signs similar to those we had on our early desk computers in the 1970s. –

    ACHTUNG
    ALLES LOOKENSPEEPERS

    Das FunctionalMagneticResonicheImagenmaschine ist nicht fur gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappender springenwek, blowenfusen, und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fur gewerken by das dummkopten. Das rubbernecken sightseeren keepen hands in das pocketten, relaxen und watch das blinkenlights.

    Seems reasonable (my apologies to those who speak the divine language of Goethe).
    My spellchecker has had a red fit!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Of course, what the authors don’t mention is they failed to elicit any statistically significant brain response from the consensus subjects when shown “images totemic of climate change evidence”. LOL. Love that phrase. Must remember to incorporate it into future sarcastic pathological comments routed via my orbital frontal cortex, insula, anterior and posterior cingulate, amygdala and anterior superior temporal gyrus.

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  4. “In other words, the deniers were simply unreceptive to the evidence presented and, instead, were activating brain regions associated with memory recall in order to entrench their preconceived ideas.”

    Wow. Neuroscientists being THAT dumb. When presented with the “evidence” skeptics PROCESSED the information. How dumb do you have be to think that increased neural activity is a sign of mental weakness?

    If you took any of the alarmist articles presented on the net and presented them to believers and skeptics you’ll find that the believers do not process information while skeptics do. Believers simply absorb what’s presented. Skeptics are simply more intelligent than believers, so of course our brains light up when presented with ANY information. And if the authors think that memory has nothing do with information processing then Azuela et al are either presenting bogus credentials or they’re pushing the AGW agenda. Either way, they’re promoting a lie.

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  5. I didn’t find the Positano Behavioural and Cognitive Research Unit a warning sign at all. Would you find the use of a fMRI to study neuroeconomics at Emory University in Atlanta suspicious? How about if they used fMRI to investigate if dogs love us. See Gregory Berns book for answers.

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  6. Oortcloud,

    It was not my intention to embarrass anyone into accidentally revealing that they were fooled by this article. So, to help prevent a recurrence, may I make it clear that this article is a spoof. I wrote it so that readers may personally experience confirmation bias before being pointed in the direction of a scientific study on that subject (reference 2).

    The Azuela paper (reference 1) does not exist. However, in the interests of authenticity, I strove to ensure that the neurological references were sound. For example, curiosity does indeed modulate the activation of memory-related brain centres, as listed. Furthermore, psychopathy is indeed characterised by aberrant activity within the centres listed. The rest was just my wicked deceit.

    I apologise for any embarrassment caused, but I think the plausibility of the article, such that it has any, is a testimony to the wealth of nonsense that can be found out there.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Alan,

    I thought that Positano might raise eyebrows because it is a tiny hillside village on the Amalfi coast–not nearly big enough to support a research unit of any description. But you are quite right. It is actually quite difficult to spoof a field that provides such an excellent example of self-parody (neuroeconomics for God’s sake!). It may only be a matter of time before someone actually writes a paper on the neurobiology of climate change denial, and Gregory Berns could very well be its author.

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  8. It’s odd, reference 2 looks far more suspicious than reference 1, especially by having an unbelievable author called Blagov.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. John, Gregory Burns is the leader of a real fMRI lab studying brain activity when people make economic choices, his team did use their equipment to investigate dog brain activity (rewarding them with hotdogs) and they proved that the same brain areas light up as in humans that indicate empathy. It is a short step from empathy to love. Burns wrote a book on this study that I have previously recommended (to Jaime in particular). You might enjoy it also.

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  10. “How big is Davos?”

    About three times the size of Positano. However, rather than get bogged down here, I should emphasize that the Positano reference was supposed to be suspicious but remain plausible, otherwise the cat would be out of the bag too soon. It is not out of the question that a place with a population of only 4000 inhabitants perched, over the sea like a colony of kittiwakes, could have a neurological research institute, but it is sufficiently unlikely as to raise suspicions in the mind of someone who is looking for reasons to disbelieve. The point is, however, that it is not normal to read everything in such a frame of mind. The article is plausible to the consensus believers because it confirms everything they think they already knew about sceptics. But it is also plausible to sceptics because it conforms everything they think they already knew about the motivated reasoning that lies behind much of the so-called scientific debunking of scepticism.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. John I had assumed that Positano might be a community in California with a specialist institute attached to a small university. The USA has commonly “borrowed” European (and Egyptian) town and city names. I actually was quite surprised that my friend Wikki failed to confirm that this was so.
    Regardless it was some time before my “crap-feelers” began to vibrate (and I was never sure until the final “quotation”). A beautiful scam. For further reference the fMRI results were just too definitive. Suggest you use your expertise in probability analysis more in future. For god’s sake please don’t combine with Brad.

    BTW Actually Davos consists of two separate villages and Positano is also a commune larger than its village.

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  12. For the record, my post was as tongue in cheek as the post itself.
    John,
    You wrote a great one.
    Keep up the good work.

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  13. Hunter,

    Thank you for your words of encouragement.

    I have to admit, the article was partly inspired by your comment posted against my previous article, where you asked, “With what means can skeptics go on the offense?”. My ambition was to write an article that would feature prominently on searches for neuroscience when linked with climate change. Its purpose is to warn the alarmist confirmation-seeker, but entertain the sceptic confirmation-seeker. Unfortunately, I’ve just tried Googling the title but it is nowhere to be seen. I’m not sure how that has happened!

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  14. Hans,

    There is no thinking whatsoever behind the name chosen for the lead author. However, if I were to tell you that Malaxic T. is, in fact, a certain Dr Theo Malaxic, does that help?

    Hint: Use your anagram solver.

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  15. This skeptic was totally fooled until the end. Even then, I had to read the last paragraph several times before I realized the article was fake.

    Impressive.

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  16. Pingback: The Neurobiology of Climate Change Denial — Climate Scepticism – NZ Conservative Coalition

  17. Nice spoof. However, the mainstream scientific consensus (per AR5), doesn’t support that which the public believes is the consensus, per non-mainstream scientists such as Hansen, i.e. a high probability of near-term (a few decades) catastrophe, absent major emissions cuts. Hence for such a study you’d be pushed to find a group out of the public who ‘accepted the scientific consensus’, given that they don’t even know what this actually is. Similarly, those that reject catastrophe aren’t rejecting mainstream science, so you might also be pushed to find a group of supposed ‘deniers’ from the public too, if you make ‘mainstream science’ your key criteria.

    Incidentally, it’s likely that there’s no such condition as denialism, at least as it is framed in the literature. And certainly the supposed tests for it are deeply flawed, essentially just giving academic legitimization for anyone to call out any group they don’t agree with as ‘deniers’. There will at one end of a spectrum of cultural resistance be an extreme fringe that fits some of the touted behaviors. But as this reaction is itself cultural value dependent, it is not a behavior to do with rejection of science as such. Different cultural groups tend on average to be more accepting of science that aligns to their values, and more resistive of the science that challenges their values.
    https://judithcurry.com/2016/04/21/the-denialism-frame/

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  18. Hey! We’ve discovered a neuro-pathology-sin-drome of climate-change denial …
    in technicolor! – New Paper on way:’ Towards a transgressive peskiness in denier
    behavior.’

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  19. Oh freckled serf, be thou one of the unchosen – a ginger? Working in austral turnip fields will not help your complexion, though you be blessed ‘mongst the sceptical

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  20. I like this work. The vast majority of Climate Sceptics are saying “Nothing has been driven. Show me real-world evidence before I become a believer.”
    And what does the MRI scan show?
    Still waiting for real-world evidence.

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  21. Jaime,

    My main concern was to avoid the accusation of posting fake news, hence the early revelation. Furthermore, you should be aware that there are idiots out there, i.e., ‘pnewell’, here:

    and ‘surface detail’, here:

    https://www.debatepolitics.com/environment-and-climate-issues/320188-excellent-send-up-confirmation-bias-among-agw-advocates-2.html

    who have convinced themselves that I set out specifically to spoof alarmists, but ended up unintentionally spoofing sceptics instead (presumably, this is because I unintentionally posted the article on a sceptics’ website). I could try to point out the obvious flaws in their argument but experience has taught me that one doesn’t have to get too sophisticated with such people before one leaves them behind. So I won’t be bothering.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I for one much appreciated the early and unambiguous reveal. Brad never admits even when well and truly rumbled, still leaving a tiny smidgen of doubt lingering. The fact that some refuse to accept your demolition of the post, and your perceived need to repeat this in unmistakable terms, shows just how gullible we can be.
    You have shot up the Google rankings for neuroscience + climate change on my search engine (2nd).

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  23. Pingback: The Neurobiology of Climate Change Denial | The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

  24. What if you accept that climates change, but have reservations about all changes being the fault human activity? Are you still a “denier”?

    …images totemic of climate change evidence…

    I wonder what images those might be… polar bears on an ice floe, perhaps? It would be interesting to see images of climate change (whatever those images could be – “climate” is such a vacuous concept that it really cannot be measured, so is impossible to reference against historical markers); it would also be interesting to see any evidence that any of the changes we might have had were caused by human activity.;

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  25. “images totemic of climate change evidence”

    I had in mind the following:

    • A polar bear perched on an ice floe, looking beleaguered and sorry for itself
    • A glacier, looking self-reproachful and sorry for itself
    • A coral reef, looking bedraggled and sorry for itself
    • A desert scene, complete with cow’s skull in the foreground, looking sorry for itself
    • A cartoon of Mother Earth wiping a tear from its cartoony eye
    • A climate scientist, looking self-assured and pleased with himself

    If these are not enough to get your amygdalae pulsing with outrage, then there is no hope for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Pingback: Friday Funny: The neurobiology of “climate change denial” | Watts Up With That?

  27. I read this, and my BS detector started to twitch, but then again, Lewandowsky….so anything is possible.

    I started looking for the journal reference, and then the journal itself, because my initial thought was that no self-respecting skeptic would participate in this study. And that’s when I discovered it was a well-crafted load of bollocks.

    Well done. Crossposted at WUWT with a sciency looking image.

    Liked by 4 people

  28. John. You forgot the most used image of all – the mud-cracked reservoir floor (SFI naturally). A close second is the burning globe with neighbouring space rather improbably aflame.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. “Images totemic of climate change evidence” is just SO what you would expect as a phrase from the climate change club. Very well done John. Your images are mostly totemic of the evidence of the impact of weather, which makes it all the more authentic.

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  30. Reading the text and the commentaries gave me the best laugh I’ve had in a while. I was slow to catch on, but the pseudo-german comment woke up my funnybone. Thanks.

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  31. Images totemic of climate change evidence
    Oh how remiss of me, the most totemic of them all forgotten, ignored, the one that ruled them all like Sauron’s ring, the one that helped gain a Nobel, based on shonky data that ignored the south and withstood multiple inquiries, the graph that surpasses all others – the mighty hockey stick.

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  32. “…a well-crafted load of bollocks.”

    Thank you Anthony, that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me 🙂

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  33. As a “denier” I would agree that the “denier” brain will work different than a warmists brain when shown more peer reviewed evidence. My issue isn’t the science it is with the process that generates the science and exposes the science.

    I am convinced that many questions are not posed and much science is ignored so more evidence is not helpful to convince me.

    The paper above is a good example of an unasked question that I seek. For the people that were “warmists” how did their brain patterns compare to say very religious people being exposed to a story of a miracle? I suspect similar because they are having an authority confirm that their beliefs are being strengthened, but that question (or a similarly valid one) will never be posed because the research it to found out why I am broken and not why warmists are easily convinced.

    Fix me by asking all of the questions.

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  34. I got this straight away – who could read the last two sentences and not do so? I’m not surprised you needed to supply an “avoidance of embarrassment” disclaimer though. But then I’m an “alarmist” who passes by here now and then because sometimes there are points well made, that deserve consideration, despite the nature of the twitter feeds of some who contribute regularly (I’m thinking of JJ here) – enough to make the toes curl. 🙂

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  35. Reasonable Skeptic,
    +10,000
    That is the question worth asking, since The Catholic Church is now peddling the climate apocalypse….and it is considered a good thing by climateers.

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  36. Straw man. Obviously the planet has been through climate change. What’s debatable is whether our 3% yearly CO2 emissions determine climate, and they don’t. CO2 doesn’t determine climate. Climate is determined by location and input from the sun. There is no “neurobiology of climate change denial” because no one denies that climate changes. The planet has obviously gone through ice ages and warm periods. Jig is up. Over and out.

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  37. What’s debatable is whether our 3% yearly CO2 emissions determine climate, and they don’t. CO2 doesn’t determine climate.

    With all due respect, this is what people mean by climate change denial. It doesn’t mean denying that the climate can change, it means denying that it is changing due to our emission of CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. I would like a scan done on those who are involved in fraud. Al Gore set up carbon credits with Ken Lay who went to prison for fraud. Maurice Strong the architect of the global warming movement ended up in China wanted for fraud. Then of course there was the climategate reveal.

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  39. Attp. Tut tut, even your definition of climate change is rubbish. What I think you mean is ‘denying climate is changing due to our emission of CO2 into the atmosphere and the resultant significant feedbacks, especially that involving increased atmospheric humidity’. The last component seems to be coming under increasing attack, so I am happy to be still classified as a denier (and in urgent need of a fMRI scan). I do NOT deny that climate changes, nor that changing atmospheric CO2 levels might be capable of modifying climate (although even this remains to be proven).

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  40. ATTP,
    While in your cowardly way you continue to converse here in ways you don’t permit at your site, you do illustrate an important asoect if climate extremism:
    The need to redefine terms and meanings. Not to clarify but to obfuscate.
    Of course this permeates nearly all aspects of climate extremist commynications, a la Orwell.
    What you have to redefine so as to maintain your façade is “climate change”.
    You cannot honestly point to any climate metric that is changing outside of either error bars or pre-industrial historical evidence/paleo evidence that shows any significant dangerous change in climate.
    Instead you and yours rely on an overwhelming media campaign to hype any weather event, an increasingly dysfunctional peer review system, censorship of dissent, and a vast flow of money to “climate change”, none of which either proves we are facing a climate crisis, or changes one aspect of climate or weather.
    But you stroll over like some sort of arrogant missionary, hoping that today will be the day you sell your climate change myth to the heathens.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. ATTP,

    Whilst I have your attention, there are a couple of statements that you have made in the past, for which I would appreciate some clarification.

    In an article posted by yourself on “And Then There’s Physics, 2nd June, 2018, you defend the right of scientists to publicly engage in debate on matters in which they are not experts:

    “…I also don’t think that there are topics that some should avoid simply because they don’t have directly relevant expertise. Ideally people should be informed, but there’s no reason why someone can’t publicly discuss a topic just because they aren’t an expert.”

    But at CliScep, on 11th October, 2017, you chastised a commenter with the following:

    “There’s nothing wrong with simply being dubious, but it doesn’t really explain why it is that a large number of people, who have extensive relevant expertise, are making some kind of fundamental mistake that is somehow quite easy for blog commenters to spot.”

    The message seems to be, it’s alright for you to debate areas in which you are not expert, but if someone else does it to you, they must expect that their very lack of expertise will be the first thing brought to everyone’s attention. Is that what you meant when you said, “debate”?

    Liked by 2 people

  42. John,
    A link to the comment might be nice, as I’m not entirely sure of the context. However, the first was simply suggesting that publicly discussing a topic shouldn’t be restricted only to those who have some kind of directly relevant expertise, but did suggest that people who discuss a topic publicly should – ideally – be informed. The second was (IIRC) suggesting that it seems surprising that something that appears obvious to commenters on a blog is being missed by a large number of relevant experts. I wasn’t suggesting that blog commenters should avoid commenting on a topic, but wondering how it was that some seem to have seen something obvious that relevant experts appear to have missed.

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  43. ATTP,

    Thank you for the response but it doesn’t really get me much further forward since it basically reiterates the statements you had previously made. My point is that if we are to encourage non-experts to engage in debate with experts, it behoves the latter to refrain from making statements that draw attention to the relative competence of those engaged. Non-experts make statements in all good faith, based upon their limited understanding. Very often, they are not trying to say they know better than the experts; they are suggesting instead that perhaps the experts don’t know as much as they believe. The inexpert should be allowed to speculated upon the existence of such a shortfall without having to prove its existence. Meanwhile, the experts can take or leave such reproof but they shouldn’t turn the whole thing into a battle of CVs that can do nothing but alienate the less-expert.

    When I first started submitting articles to a certain safety-critical engineering journal, I did so as a novice, and it was made very clear to me that my ‘outsider’ perspective was much valued by the seasoned safety professionals since it exposed them to a viewpoint that was yet to be imbued with the ‘received wisdom’. I sometimes wish that scientists in general could adopt the safety engineer’s culture.

    PS.

    The link you ask for is here:

    https://cliscep.com/2017/10/04/winning-not-winning/#comment-17317

    Liked by 1 person

  44. John,

    My point is that if we are to encourage non-experts to engage in debate with experts, it behoves the latter to refrain from making statements that draw attention to the relative competence of those engaged.

    Okay, there are two different scenarios. My first comment was about non-experts commenting publicly about a topic, not necessarily them debating the topic publicy (i.e., they become informed by being aware of the expert view and then they comment publicly about the topic). The second situation is one in which a non-expert debates a topic publicly. I have no problem with either, really, but I also have no problem in either case with people pointing out if the views presented are at odds with those of relevant experts. My problem is really with the suggestion that non-experts should not comment publicly about a topic. I don’t think, however, that this means that others should aviod criticising what they say.

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  45. John, I would suggest that a lot depends on the tenor of the criticism. Judith’s new post points to some good material from Pielke and Nordhouse that I think makes the point that over the top rhetoric such as has become commonplace in the last decade in the US is counterproductive. We really have gone back to the 19th Century in terms of political discourse.

    I would argue that scientists who want to be taken seriously should be above personal attacks and name calling. It’s also not in my view a good idea to try to consciously try to delegitimize another scientist as happened to Pielke. If scientists want the public to regard them as professionals who can be trusted, they should try to stick to facts and data.

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  46. ATTP,

    “Okay, there are two different scenarios.”

    I had hoped that this would develop into an interesting discussion regarding how experts should engage with the general public. Instead, you want me to entertain your desperate attempts to portray the two scenarios as being in any way materially different.

    Well, that’s not going to happen.

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  47. The neural differences they are seeing will be the same as if a person is presented with falsehoods as if they are true. It is the conflict of having known reality while being asked to deal with a false reality. “Neuropathy” and other terms applied here are inherently biased, making false associations, because the “researchers” are starting with the grand, false assumption that climate change science (by man) is real and makes scientific sense. As it does not, a scientifically knowledgeable person will have cognitive dissonance when presented with absurdities as real.

    This study is simply “scientists” soliciting research finds in support of AGW which has millions of easy money to dole out to those who are willing to prostitute themselves.

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  48. Alan Kendall,
    Borrowing names here in the colonies? Indeed.

    When we got here, the principal attractions of the place had been burdened with names chosen by the locals to be unpronounceable by anyone not born to it, or in some cases, anyone at all.

    And of course there were the French; not to mention the Dutch. So I won’t.

    I do hope you can allow us a Dover, or Norfolk or two. We”re in desparate need.

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  49. DPY.
    “over the top rhetoric such as has become commonplace in the last decade in the US is counterproductive”.
    I’m uncertain if you are referring to science or to politics here. If the former then it always has been so. Read extracts from those who founded the Royal Society said of each other about such weighty matters as the best shapes of lightning conductors, or comments made about Darwin’s ancestry.

    When science becomes inextricably enmeshed with politics and/or industry it becomes ever more difficult to always be civil.

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  50. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #318 | Watts Up With That?

  51. J.Ferguson. yes, but did you really need 29 Bristols and 22 Oxfords? And did you really
    mean to have so many Lebanons?
    On another matter what is it with the pronunciation of ‘Kansas’ and ‘Arkansas’?

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  52. John,

    I had hoped that this would develop into an interesting discussion regarding how experts should engage with the general public. Instead, you want me to entertain your desperate attempts to portray the two scenarios as being in any way materially different.

    Why didn’t you just start that discussion, instead of asking me to explain those two scenarios?

    Like

  53. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #318 |

  54. ATTP,

    “Why didn’t you just start that discussion, instead of asking me to explain those two scenarios?”

    I did start that discussion, by suggesting that your position was inconsistent. It was you who brought up the idea that there were two scenarios. I maintain it is one scenario and two positions.

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  55. John,
    Can you define your scenarios? I don’t think we should be restricting the public discussion only to those who have relevant expertise. I do think it is worth understanding the views of experts. I don’t think that people have to agree with these views. If one’s views are very different from those of experts I do think it is worth asking why this might be.

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  56. John, ATTP. You might also consider how you define an “expert”. This could vary between someone who has relevant peer-approved published expertize to another who has done extensive literature research but no published record There is a tendency of many to confine the term to the first group, even though members of the second may be more knowledgeable or discerning.

    Liked by 1 person

  57. If one’s views are very different from those of experts I do think it is worth asking why this might be.

    Should we ask a neurobiologist? Which expert will help us?

    It was the cog-scis who made it most obvious that what the cli-scis seemed to be saying had, perhaps lost in the translation, turned into complete bullshit. NB: complete bullshit, not slightly tainted with a small amount of bullshit. That is to say that we can see in Lewandowsky — your colleague, Ken — that climate science is doing a hell of a lot of heavy lifting far outside its field. Worse, it turned out that cli-scis didn’t have enough to say much about that. Some of them were rather keen.

    Why are cog-scis’ views on climate change often so different to climate science? Why do cli-scis show such little resistance to, and often seem to fall for climate change being so prematurely at the centre of an encompassing framework that claims to be able to explain everything from poverty and mental health, through to warfare?

    It was the cog-sci, with the historian of science who turned to the cli-scis and said ‘you idiots, you’re falling for denialist tropes‘. I think the word was ‘seepage’. But they let the cat seep out of the bag: climate science is not quite so bulletproof as they had earlier claimed. Cli-scis were now vulnerable to ‘discourse’.

    Why do experts hate discourse?

    Liked by 2 people

  58. In case anyone was wondering, the reference to ‘seepage’ above is here.

    Vested interests and political agents have long opposed political or regulatory action in response to climate change by appealing to scientific uncertainty. Here we examine the effect of such contrarian talking points on the scientific community itself. We show that although scientists are trained in dealing with uncertainty, there are several psychological reasons why scientists may nevertheless be susceptible to uncertainty-based argumentation, even when scientists recognize those arguments as false and are actively rebutting them. Specifically, we show that prolonged stereotype threat, pluralistic ignorance, and a form of projection (the third-person effect) may cause scientists to take positions that they would be less likely to take in the absence of outspoken public opposition. We illustrate the consequences of seepage from public debate into the scientific process with a case study involving the interpretation of temperature trends from the last 15 years. We offer ways in which the scientific community can detect and avoid such inadvertent seepage.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378015000515

    Climate scientists were divided on whether or not their collective competence had been undermined by exposure to debate.

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  59. Not looking deeply enough into what’s going on. In the theme of Thomas Sowell’s, “The Vision of the Anointed . . ” the politically aligned man-made climate change end of times alarmists, are of the ‘anointed class.’

    Generally speaking liberals have more, to too much white brain matter up front; thinking is too busy (always arguing with itself) trying to get to where their vision wants to go; not spending the time looking back at what’s established in history – what’s black and white. Definitely a creative function gone a bit haywire. This also makes it much easier for those so blessed (or inflicted) to lie – and they can easily convince themselves, via the fast firing white matter, that what wasn’t yesterday can be made to be true tomorrow.

    “Liar, Liar, Your Prefrontal Cortex Is On Fire”

    People with more white matter tend to be more creative; artists, creative writers, liberal professors, etc. They tend to show more emotion. They also tend to have a more difficult time deciding – they are so busy analyzing the issue to death – they see the issue in shades of gray, instead of black and white, so that their determination today, may look different to them tomorrow. Folks with more white matter, researchers have found, tend to lie more often.

    “Apparently, pathological liars have a surplus of white matter and a deficit of gray matter, meaning they have more tools to lie, coupled with fewer moral restraints. When compared to the normal control subjects, liars had a 22 percent increase in white matter and a 14 percent decrease in prefrontal gray matter. ”

    http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20050904005107data_trunc_sys.shtml

    That teenage feeling _ Harvard researchers may have found biological clues to quirky adolescent behavior.

    “The seat of such poor judgment might be found in the white matter microstructure in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, says Marisa Silveri, PhD, a psychologist in Yurgelun-Todd’s lab. The frontal cortex is associated with decision-making, insight, judgment and inhibitory control. Silveri, Yurgelun-Todd and colleagues use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to examine white matter microstructure, the part of the brain that’s responsible for relaying signals between neurons in the gray matter. During adolescence, particularly in the frontal cortex, unneeded gray matter is pruned away and white matter, made up of axons covered by a lipid membrane known as myelin, increases.

    “Similar to the concept of electrical wiring, adding insulation around a bare wire improves connectivity, and the thicker the insulation, the better the transmission of a signal from point A to point B,” says Silveri. “Myelination, or the insulating of axons, allows more rapid and efficient communication between neurons.”
    Here:

    Also: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/06/11/do-liars-have-really-different-brains/#2d78937a632c

    Like

  60. ATTP,

    “Can you define your scenarios?”

    With all due respect, I feel I have already made my position clear enough. And whilst there is nothing unreasonable in anything you said in your latest comment, I do not think it is addressing my initial criticism. Perhaps we should leave it here.

    Like

  61. ATTP.

    Fine. I wish you and your scientific colleagues well in your engagement in matters political and economic. However, should you ever express doubts regarding the received political or economic wisdom, do not expect any sympathy from me if the politicians and economists turn round and say:

    “There’s nothing wrong with simply being dubious, but it doesn’t really explain why it is that a large number of people, who have extensive relevant expertise, are making some kind of fundamental mistake that is somehow quite easy for scientists to spot.”

    Like

  62. How about some desperately needed research into the muasma of the climate true believer’s mind….
    (from WUWT)

    “MilwaukeeBob

    Nothing to see here. It’s a well-known human brain breakdown. The inverse proportional reaction, of the failure of Co2 to quantitatively increase the non-equalized temperature variant of the global atmosphere, is the very damaging downflow of denser, ionized anti-matter within the atmosphere which causes the separation of predetermined BS from falsified conclusions within a shallow scientific brain. In this case, the outward expression of this condition is called: Co2 failure syndrome. Unfortunately, these (so-called) scientists will probably never recover. So Sad…”

    Like

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