Silly Season / Stats

Opinions are like Prosthetic Anal Sphincters: Everyone can be fitted with One

Via zerohedge.com, here’s an extract from this article from the American Institute for Economic Research:

That Fake Poll on the Green New Deal

Over 80 percent of American voters support the Green New Deal, or so claim its backers citing a recent survey by a group of academic pollsters. Furthermore, this public endorsement is supposedly bipartisan, with 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans indicating that they either strongly or somewhat support the Far Left package to reshape the entire American economy around “green energy” in the course of the next decade.

..the survey was conducted by a team of professors at George Mason University in Virginia and Yale University … it was essentially a “push poll” designed to bias respondents in favor of the proposition… Rather than asking voters directly about the GND, the pollsters first presented them with a glowing … synopsis that touted the proposition’s fantastical claims:

Some members of Congress are proposing a “Green New Deal” for the U.S. They say that a Green New Deal will produce jobs and strengthen America’s economy by accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. The Deal would generate 100% of the nation’s electricity from clean, renewable sources within the next 10 years; upgrade the nation’s energy grid, buildings, and transportation infrastructure; increase energy efficiency; invest in green technology research and development; and provide training for jobs in the new green economy.

It extols the GND promises of a “green energy” conversion on a scientifically impossible 10-year timeline… promises an abundance of jobs and economic growth … It makes no mention of the proposal’s extremist calls to phase out air travel in favor of trains, or to subject every building in America to costly renovation and reconstruction in order to meet new energy-efficiency rules. And it says not a word about the extreme price tag of the entire package, which…  may reach as high as $93 trillion when all is said and done.

Instead, all of the pitfalls of the GND are conveniently brushed aside while all of its promised benefits, no matter how unrealistic or expensive, are presented to the survey’s respondents as if they were neutral and factual truths. 

…As a relatively new proposition, the details of the GND are still unfamiliar to the vast majority of Americans. The pollsters confirmed this finding in a separate question that showed 83 percent of respondents knew “nothing at all” about the program’s details. After supplying them with an overly rosy and biased synopsis of those details, they unsurprisingly found large majorities in favor. Loaded opinion polling of this type is a commonly encountered dirty trick in partisan political campaigns… these tactics violate standard practices in survey design and question construction.

Unfortunately, the pollsters in this case are not political campaign consultants — they’re university professors at research institutes specialising in “climate change communication.” Given the way that they skewed their poll results toward the GND with biased and loaded questioning, it’s reasonable to ask whether their research output crossed the ethical line separating scholarship from politically motivated advocacy.

It’s not only reasonable to ask, it’s extremely easy to answer. Yes it did. So when the Hill reports that:

More than 80 percent of registered voters support the Green New Deal proposal being pushed by progressional Democratic lawmakers, a new poll found.

By not pointing out that 97% of respondents knew “nothing at all” or only “a little” about it (apart from the information provided by the pollsters) the Hill is pushing fake news. Likewise the Guardian, with an article titled: The Green New Deal has reignited the climate debate – and voters support it”

The survey is the subject of a note at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication by Gustafson, Rosenthal, Leiserowitz, Maibach, Kotcher, Bellew, and Goldberg 

Gustafson is engaged in developing more effective strategies for communicating science topics to the public at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

Rosenthal is a research methodologist at YPCCC, with a particular focus on survey methodology

Leiserowitz is Director of the YPCCC and an expert on public opinion

Maibach is Professor at George Mason University, and the Director of Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication

Kotcher[‘s] research broadly focuses on science, environmental, and risk communication through the use of surveys, experiments, and quantitative content analysis.

Belle specializes in social psychology, survey research, and data analysis.

Goldberg is an expert in the social psychological subfields of attitudes and persuasion, motivated reasoning, and ideology.

None of them has any qualifications in climate science, economics, political science, or anything else which would enable them to judge the contents of the Green New Deal, or to compose the explanatory paragraph which provided the sole information available to the 82% of respondents who had never heard of it. However, they are all experts on survey research methods, and at least one has worked in commercial opinion research. So they must know that a survey like that, presented like that, in the commercial sphere, would result in them losing their reputations and maybe their jobs. In the real world, they would be denounced as charlatans. But climate change communication research is not in the real world. Nor, apparently, is one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

Yale University is the official polling company for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s bid for the Democratic nomination for the 2024 presidential election.

[A note on democracy: A politician of “left” or “right” in France or Britain, reading the headline results of the Yale research, would no doubt do a Cameron and immediately adopt the Green New Deal as part of their programme. Trump and the Republicans, on the other hand, have gone to town ridiculing it in order to sow dissension among their Democrat opponents. No doubt a lifetime spent screwing the people you’re doing a deal with sharpens your bullshit detector. Maybe we could hire Trump to negotiate Brexit for us? Gaia Bless America.]

33 thoughts on “Opinions are like Prosthetic Anal Sphincters: Everyone can be fitted with One

  1. Horrifying and encouraging. Your comments at the end me remind of Nick Gillespie’s Trump Just Might Have Won the 2020 Election Today after his speech at CPAC at the beginning of the month. The GND is undoubtedly part of the open goal POTUS currently sees. And, just to repeat from Jaime’s thread, Eric Weinstein was rightly very concerned about Facebook’s apparent total censorship of Zero Hedge on Tuesday:

    That we are now told was a mistake. I think 2020 could go either way.

    Like

  2. I can see this tactic backfiring spectacularly. Convinced of its popularity, its adherents will be spreading the good word.

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  3. Yale? YALE? Y A L E !!!! Really? Are you sure? It’s not Yale Brooks or something like that? Gosh! Standards ARE slipping. I know, it must be someone from this George Mason pile that escaped to Yale. Harvard will be pleased.

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  4. Climate change communication = political propaganda.
    Green New Deal = Socialists’ wet dream of dismantling the world’s largest and most successful capitalist economy.
    Yale University = Extreme Left Wing Think Tank.
    Green politics/ideology = fully functioning idiocracy, thus far self-sustaining within its very generous envelope of opportunity.

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  5. Joking aside, this is serious. These people, with titles that exemplify their expertise in conducting research into people’s views and opinions know how to conduct this form of research, they know the pitfalls, the traps that mislead the unwary. They teach the stuff, they are the custodians of good practice. People rely upon them to produce reliable product. And they defecate over each other, their profession and their institutions. And for what? Do they have no pride?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. The afterward about how European enlightened rulers would across the spectrum adopt the GND is hilarious.
    Yale, it turns out, is just a prestigious name brand with a significant number of students’
    Acceptances having been quietly sold off to the highest bidder.
    I love the conspiratorial idea that Republicans are ridiculing the GND merely to sow dissention in the democrats.
    As if any rational person needs a reason other than to have read the GND, or listened to the author, to ridicule it.

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  7. “Yale University = Extreme Left Wing Think Tank.”
    George Pataki will be surprised.
    30K+ students all extreme left wing
    I think not.

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  8. As you know Alan, there’s a distinction between categorising an institution and definitively categorising its many members in similar vein. Naturally, not all Yale students will be rabid left wingers, but the University patently supports this bias and, worryingly, is more than willing to support active left wing censure against students deemed to be ‘too white, too male, too conservative’, therefore ‘racist’, even to the point of threatening to end their future careers.

    https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2019/02/yale-university-newspaper-editor-urges-students-to-spy-on-white-male-classmates-to-be-able-to-ruin-their-careers-in-the-future/

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  9. P-lease Jaime, you don’t judge the third highest ranked US university, with alumni containing Republican and Democrate presidents and rightwing supreme court judges on the basis of an op-piece by a university newspaper editor. Bet their task was to provoke interest, and with over 800 responses that certainly happened.

    I would be most surprised if the university authorities have any say in what appears in their university’s newspapers. Free speech and all that! I have read the most stupid and puerile things in university newspapers, sometimes they cause a flash in the pan outside the university, but then they drown in the next attempt of an editor to shock.

    Myself, I can’t be arsed to read one comment, but I am disappointed/appalled by the concept. Mind you, those white boys should behave themselves.

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  10. No Alan, I don’t judge an institution on the basis of an op-ed in a university paper. That was merely an extreme example indicative of left wing bias and in fact an openly racist article which the university authorities apparently condone by refusing to remove it. I’m not really concerned what Yale’s ranking is; it’s a left wing liberal hotbed. Don’t take my word for it. Ask the students. Also, Yale University is very well known for its left wing socialist views, particularly in relation to climate change.

    https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/yale-conservatives-students-report-liberal-bias-daily-news/

    http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/about/the-program/

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  11. John Cook is a Climate Communicator at George Mason:
    https://communication.gmu.edu/people/jcook20

    Maibach had an epiphany in 2005 after sessions from Potsdam scientists. I think this was from his personal page somewhere:

    “Back in 2005, Maibach and his wife joined some family members on an educational walking trip through the Dolomites in Italy. Members of the trip spent the mornings listening to leading climate scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the afternoons climbing mountains.

    There, they became familiar with climate change basics. The dramatically rising level of CO2 in our atmosphere is rapidly destabilizing our climate. The world’s population — more than 6.5 billion people — is growing and modernizing rapidly, leading to greater use of fossil fuels and deforestation.

    These events, in turn, accelerate climate destabilization and reduce the earth’s capacity to produce the food and fresh water needed to sustain the current human population, much less our rapidly expanding population of tomorrow. Soon, countless people around the world may lose access to the environmental conditions that sustain their existence.

    “After listening to these lectures four mornings in a row, the epiphany struck,” says Maibach. “I finally made the connection between global warming and public health — “global warming is likely this century’s most profound threat to public health and well-being. When that epiphany struck, I realized exactly what I had to spend the rest of my life working on.”

    In fall 2007, after joining Mason’s Department of Communication, Maibach founded the Center for Climate Change Communication and became its director.”

    He has a history of dodgy surveys:

    “Maibach planned his first study, which was conducted in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund, to be a national survey of public health department directors.

    The research team was surprised to find that nearly 60 percent of local public health department directors nationwide reported that they were already seeing harmful health effects of climate change in their jurisdictions, yet few felt they had the capacity to respond.”

    These are the nuts and bolts when you examine that study:

    Out of 2,296 members of the National Association of County & City Health Officials, they produced a sample size of 217, who were contacted. The responses were:
    Take a running jump = 38 .
    Refused to answer calls or e-mails = 46
    This left 133, of whom 81, (61%), believed their jurisdiction had seen the effects of climate change in the last 20 years.

    So the actual figure of 3.5% of 2,296 local public health department directors became “nearly sixty percent of local public health department directors nationwide.”

    But he pulls in the grant money…

    He has also featured at WUWT, https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/05/23/cei-fires-back-at-ed-maibach-over-emergency-stay-of-rico20-foia-documents-looks-like-hes-toast/

    2016
    “Earlier today, we saw that Ed Maibach himself hired an attorney to file an emergency stay of release of FOIA documents that George Mason University had planned to release, along with the retroactive removal of the previous tranche of GMU documents from last week that were quite damning in their illustration that Maibach and Shukla not only used their position at GMU to pursue and ask for punishment of climate skeptics and corporations, they were trying to cover it up late in the game by asking to switch to private emails once they started getting some serious public blowback.”

    Anthony Watts thought he was going to be “toast”, but like our our own Lord Deben, he isn’t and won’t be.

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  12. Let US Democrats fight out the merits of Austerity Taxation and Redundancy contained within the AO-C and Bernie Sanders Camp “New Green Deal. US Trade Unions have already spotted the problems.

    Republicans can sit back and eat popcorn.

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  13. These people are fanatics; left wing socialist fanatics who see the unhappy circumstance of the global ascendancy of a dodgy scientific theory as an opportunity to enhance and advance their ideology, their egos and, above all, their pay-packets. The joint project ‘Climate Change in the American Mind’, run by Yale and George Mason, is nothing but a naked attempt to soften up public opinion in America for the acceptance of the radical socialist ‘solutions’ to a non-existent problem being eagerly advanced by fanatical elitist Green left-wingers, people who despise America and despise capitalism.

    “Our findings were also cited in the charter statement of the US Congressional Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, and played a role in convincing the Obama White House that the American public is ready for federal action on climate change.”

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  14. Jaime. Now you’ve stirred me up. Read through the original article. It’s racist and sexist, but I can’t find anywhere where it is political. Read it through with the idea that the “white boy” is a Democrat, then that he is a Republican. See any difference?, I can’t.
    I then looked at the first responses, believing that if Yale were a Left wing hotbed, and the article markedly leftish, she would garner significant support. She doesn’t. Interestingly there is some complaint about the removal of moderate responses. To me, this may indicate an attempt by the editors to keep the controversy going, to keep the pot going.
    Responses to the article well over a thousand. Cliscep eat your heart out.

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  15. You can’t find anywhere in that article that hints rather strongly at the author’s political leanings, Alan? I can:

    “The Kavanaugh trial was months ago, but still has an indelible effect on me. Upon seeing the recent movie, Vice, the thought of my classmates’ future actions came to my mind again. I won’t get into the specifics of the movie here, but it discusses how certain foreign policy decisions made by the Bush administration endangered the lives of Iraqi citizens and made insurgency movements worse.”

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  16. Don’t think you can Jaime. I can guess and I suspect mine would be similar to yours, but I repeat nothing in the article can be labelled political. Kavanaugh’s appointment was opposed by left and right and was based upon his alleged sexual behaviour whilst at Yale. Bush’s attack upon Iraq was also opposed (like all wars America has engaged in) by people across the political spectrum.

    I am reminded of those in 2009 and 2011 who traduced the entire UEA for the activities of a few in CRU.

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  17. WOT rating circle for cliscep.com is grey, meaning there aren’t enough ratings to calculate a score. So I suggest we all give it a glowing review!

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  18. I think you will find there are plenty of people who would disagree with you Alan that the witch hunt against Kavanaugh initiated by false allegations of sexual harassment was not blatantly politically motivated. Ironically, Kavanaugh is a conservative Yale graduate, the type of person I bet Davis-Marks’ would love to have had some dirt to dig up from his days as a student.

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  19. Judge Kavanaugh was never on trial. He was never accused in any legal or rational sense.
    He was assaulted by a modern version of “The Crucible”, and nearly executed by a mob.
    To his credit, Judge Kavanaugh successfully pointed out the malicious and fabricated nature of the lists who were coached and paid to falsely accuse him.

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  20. Alan Kendall @ 14 Mar 19 at 9:08 am
    You make an excellent point very forcefully. The pollsters are using their professional skills to produce utter garbage for ideological purposes.
    Richard Drake @ 14 Mar 19 at 12:48 am shows a likely consequence of this trickery. Trump will make sure that it backfires. People will feel aggrieved that the Democrats are dishonest, live in a fantasy world and want to impose job-destroying jobs.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. HUNTERSON7 (14 Mar 19 9.12am)

    I love the conspiratorial idea that Republicans are ridiculing the GND merely to sow dissension in the democrats. As if any rational person needs a reason other than to have read the GND, or listened to the author, to ridicule it.

    A conspiracy involves planning to do something wrong, and there’s nothing wrong with poking fun at the opposition party. My point was that, in today’s corrupted politics, the first reaction of a politician faced with a stupid but apparently popular idea from the opposition is often to adopt it with even more fervour. So Trump’s ridiculing of the GND is doubly welcome, since it shows him capable of behaving rationally, and throws the Democrats into disarray. Everyone likes the idea of clean energy and no hurricanes, but how many trillion dollars will their electors be willing to pay to stop Tuvalu from sinking below the waves?
    And, as the survey makes clear, 82% of electors have not only not read the GND, they haven’t even heard of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Jaime (2:39 pm): Done. Five stars. Please, everyone, do live up to it while I try and get some work done 🙂

    Geoff: A problem in the UK at the moment imho is the chronic weakness of the government and the lack of a substantial body of committed, intelligent climate scepticism among voters, as there is in the USA. (Mosh would no doubt disagree on the ‘intelligent’ and that’s his right. But that’s how I see it from afar.)

    As you say, Trump’s ridiculing of the GND shows him at his most rational. His quoting of Patrick Moore the other day was truly excellent. The issue is whether the dirty tricks campaign against him will be successful – or whether some prosecutor does stumble on something genuinely reputation-destroying. Sidney Powell‘s view is worth checking out on that. But, so far, as one famous fake Congressman tweeted:

    That could also apply to those looking for an independent basis for our Yale friends’ findings.

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  23. Richard,

    “…a substantial body of committed, intelligent climate scepticism among voters, as there is in the USA.”

    This is simply not true. As both many public surveys and academic work shows, the voting public in the US are largely split on cultural / party lines, i.e. Lib / Dems for CC policies and Con / Reps against. This has nothing to do with intelligence, which is distributed equally among both of those groups, and likewise very little to do with knowledge about the domain, as the US voting public on either side largely doesn’t have any. The commitment is only to cultural / party identity, and each has aligned on opposite sides of this particular social conflict. As intelligence and domain knowledge increases (albeit the latter being a minority thing), polarisation increases too, i.e. the Con / Rep leaners are even more skeptical, while both equally and oppositely the Lib / Dem leaners are even more supportive. So intelligence / knowledge has no edge on either side, yet this outcome is an expectation for cultural allegiance, as greater capability will better serve emotive cultural bias.

    In the UK, while there’s far less assessment and such surveys as exist span a wide range depending on wording and approach (as everywhere and always, but more is better for gauging net position), the only rough summary figure one can come away with is that about half the UK pop support CC policies and half don’t (i.e. similar to the US). But the reasons why are different to the US because the conflict here is not very aligned to pre-existing political boundaries, yet likewise this essentially has nothing to do with either intelligence or climate domain knowledge.

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  24. Just a heads up, there is an extension to many web browsers called Dissenter. It’s a rather clever idea that adds a comment section to any web page. As it isn’t controlled by the web page in question, it can’t be censored by them. So, if you want to drop comments on RC or ATTP etc without them disappearing, you can now do so. Of course, they will only be viewed by other people with Dissenter, but if it gains in popularity, so will comment exposure.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Why? Because evidence opposing the mainstream moral narrative is dangerous and subversive. People might assume there’s no problem to solve and that certain groups are using them to grab power, not equality. Setbacks like this could hurt the fight for equality.

    Of course, calling out extremists who *are* trying to grab power is also against the mainstream moral narrative, because that would provide evidence that these issues are being used as a power grab, hurting the fight for equality, and so these incidents must be downplayed and ignored.

    Conversely, incidents which support the mainstream moral narrative must be amplified, to make sure everyone understand the importance of the fight for equality.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Dave, there’s now a ‘Dissent This’ button been added to every tweet if you’re using the Dissenter add on. You don’t even need to be logged into a Twitter account, which is convenient if you’re banned – like myself. If enough people catch on to this, then Twitter will eventually generate a whole new free speech shadow platform where Twatter admins can’t ban people or delete ‘Dissent Tweets’.

    Like

  27. Stew,

    With respect to the reasons cited for the rejection of the paper, my favourite has to be that it failed to “stand up to the rigour required for our pieces.” When I reflect upon the articles I have read at The Conversation, ‘rigour’ is not a word that immediately springs to mind. Maybe it was a typo, because even ‘ragout’ would fit the sentence better!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Shame on you John making a feeble play on Stewgreen’s nom-de-plog, with the word “ragout”.

    Like

  29. Jaime,

    interesting development. Although if grew to be viewed as a serious issue for current media platforms, they’d presumably look for a way technically and/or legally to disassociate Dissent from their App.

    Like

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