We’ve discussed Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, a few times here. It’s quite interesting to see the thinking of somebody who’s clearly quite intelligent, and thinks for himself, but is relatively new to the climate debate.
Adams is not so much interested in establishing “the truth” about climate change, which he regards as un-knowable, and to some extent of course he’s right about that – nobody knows whether the predictions climate scientists are making for 50 or 100 years ahead will turn out to be correct or not. He’s more interested in the idea of which arguments are persuasive and which are not.
In this video he talks about what he perceives as the three most commonly used “pillars of climate persuasion”:
- The hockey stick
- The models
- The 97% consensus
He says that if you’re young, or a journalist, these three things are likely to be persuasive. But if you’re older or have business experience, your response will be “bullshit”:
Show any hockeystick graph to someone who’s older or has business experience and what will be their first reaction? Bullshit. Prior to even hearing about the climate change argument, it was widely, famously known and universally known among business people, that when anybody shows you a powerpoint graph on any topic whatsoever, and it’s got a hockeystick shape, you automatically assume they’re lying…
The hockeystick is the most famous symbol of lying in the corporate world. Would you know that if you were young? If you were 18, and you’d never had a job, would you be aware that the hockeystick graph is literally a symbol of lying in the corporate world?
I recall Steve McIntyre saying something similar along time ago – that Mann’s hockeystick immediately triggered his bullshit meter, when he first heard of it about 20 years ago.
Adams then goes on to say the same thing about models predicting the future, and the 97% consensus argument. Again, regardless of the topic, the reaction of older people or people with business experience will be “bullshit”. He says that climate scientists themselves are close to the first category, young people and journalists – who find these things convincing, while to the other group, these things will in fact be anti-persuasive.
What I find interesting here is that if Adams is right, this means that the entire, vast industry of climate science communication is barking up the wrong tree and doomed to failure. Academics in climate science – Mann, Marcott et al, Gergis and Neukomm, desperately trying to force the data to show a hockeystick shape, are wasting their time and indulging in activities that are counter-productive to their cause. Similarly, all the hangers-on in sociology and psychology – the consensus enforcers, Ed Maibach, Lewandowsky and Cook, and hundreds of others working away in their ivory tower echo chambers, are all speaking the wrong language, despite supposedly being experts in communication and psychology. “The people packaging it don’t know how to package it to be persuasive to this population,” Adams says.
In the second half of his video, Adams talks about his proposed way forward. “What would it take to change your mind?” he asks. His answer is that he could be convinced that climate change is a very serious problem that we should all be concerned about by the following scenario.
He says that Tony Heller (who goes by the name of Steve Goddard on twitter) is the sceptic that he finds most convincing, and he challenges Heller to come up with his “top 5” arguments. These can then be challenged by climate scientists and debated iteratively, with Heller going last, and Scott Adams will then make up his mind.
He says that he is genuinely undecided, and that he thinks some people on both sides seem to be lying – some sceptics arguments are very bad and not credible, while some climate science claims are presented as if they are a scam.
Well, Tony Heller has risen to the challenge and has written a blogpost on The Five Top Arguments Against Climate Alarmism, incorporating a Dilbert cartoon.
Heller’s top five are:
1. Climate alarmism is based mainly around fear of extreme weather. This concept is deeply rooted in human nature, and has its roots in ancient stories of giant floods, famines and plagues – caused (of course) by man’s sins. Climate alarmists are tapping into that primal fear, and pushing the same idea of extreme weather and floods caused by mankind’s carbon sins.
2. Climate alarmism is much like the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes. People may not see any evidence of catastrophic climate change or sea level rise, but their opinion is irrelevant because 97% of scientists believe we are doomed due to global warming.
3. Academics have been making apocalyptic predictions for decades. All have failed miserably, yet they keep repeating the same misinformation over and over again.
4. Climate alarmism is completely dependent on graphs and useless climate models generated by a small handful of people. The graphs are generated through scientifically corrupt processes of data tampering and hiding data.
5. The most important argument against climate alarmism is that the proposed solutions are unworkable, dangerous and useless. They were made without consulting engineers, and have zero chance of success. A robust discussion about our energy future is needed, but that discussion is censored in favor of propaganda.
Well, what do you think of Heller’s top 5?
Would you have chosen something similar, or a different set of topics?
Do you think Scott Adams will find them convincing?
My view is that the debate that Scott Adams wants to see won’t happen. No climate scientists will engage in a serious debate with Heller’s points. If that is that the outcome, will Heller have won by default and will Scott Adams become a card-carrying climate sceptic?