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What are you looking at blogs for?

Over at Making Science Public, Jennifer Metcalfe has a post on her recent paper, “Chanting to the choir: the dialogical failure of antithetical climate change blogs”, which has received some critical comment from the usual suspects.

Metcalfe’s study aims to estimate the management and quality of blog commentary at Jo Nova’s blog, to compare it with Skeptical Science. It adds to a substantial volume of work produced by researchers who seem, in my view, unduly preoccupied with blogs, with unauthorised discussions, and with ‘denial’. But for all that, it is interesting that such studies draw the ire of adjacent, if not entirely convergent perspectives. On the angry Consensus Enforcers’ point of view, the mere act of comparison of “credible” sources of comment and unauthorised commentary  risks giving undue credibility to the non-credible. Even worse, Metcalfe finds parallels in the treatment of commenters from outside the ‘publics’ created by the respective blogs. I.e. Metcalfe discovers that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

This is, of course, verboten. A commenter who shall be known only as Ren Kice appears on the MSP blog with a theory of credibility, to defend the universe against ‘false balance’. In the circular terms of the special pleader, bent double with his head up his arse, SKS is right because it is right, and therefore, it can do as it pleases, whereas the lesser, non-credible commenters are subject to different rules of engagement.

The rights and responsibilities of those possessing ‘credibility’ are for them alone to decide, of course. But in my dealings with my far-superiors, I have always been struck by their shared characteristics. Such wisdom that falls from the dizzying heights that are claimed by the climate-anointed alone usually falls to Earth with more grace, you see.

I found all this interesting, because You will respect mah authoritah! is what Kice was banging on about during my first contact with him, way, way back in 2013. His hypothesis has not improved at all. But neither has science studies apparently made much progress, either.

I tried to post a comment at MSP, but there were technical issues. I have posted it here instead.

In reference to the enduring attempt to ‘keep the conversation civil’ while emphasising ‘the relative credibility’ of sites and their authors, blogs, climate blog archaeologists hoping to establish the functioning of such virtue and ethics may wish to visit the discussion under my 2013 blog post at
http://www.climate-resistance.org/2013/07/tom-curtis-doesnt-understand-the-97-paper.html.

That post was itself spawned from my own contribution to Making Science Public, which discussed precisely that issue — the tendency of the climate ‘debate’ (such as it is) to become a battle of received wisdoms, ultimately at the expense of wisdom — the putative and contested objects of ‘science’ fading from the substance of those debates the more they emphasised ‘credibility’.

It was there, too, seven years ago, that the commenter was so driven to emphasise my lack of credibility — I am not a climate scientist — that he failed to notice the problem that the approval of two climate scientists of my post created for his own argument. As he wrote,

“The real problem seems to be that they feel that their views (in general) should have the same credibility as those of professional climate scientists…”

Perhaps worse, he (not a climate scientist) was driven then to depend on the opinion of a (failed) academic philosopher, a PHd candidate psychologist and a non-climate non-scientist (co-authors of the disputed work) for doubling down on his ‘keeping the conversation civil’. All of them had been angered by the suggestion (from a non-climate-scientist equal) that the 97% survey had been poorly-conceived, and further enraged that such a view had received approval from ‘professional climate scientists’.

It turns out that ‘credibility’ has nothing to do with ‘credibility’.

Seven years has perhaps not been sufficient time for deeper reflection on what ‘credibility’ might mean for the evaluation of contested perspectives in debates. It remains under-theorised, other than for some cod cognitive science that hypothesises a ‘gateway belief model’ of science communication, under the logic of which the expression of unauthorised opinion is an existential danger to the human race and all life on Earth. Any project that begins from such a premise can therefore be not unfairly compared to medieval scholasticism and its adherents compared to an angry mad clergy, concerned by the moral and political authority of an institution waning in the face of challenges to its objective and normative claims.

(NB, the comparison here is not between anyone and Galilei, but between self-appointed Enforcers of a new orthodoxy, and the excesses of the old Church. It is the fact of criticism, not its substance, which drives such anger.)

‘Civility’ might mean not speaking out of turn in a political order that demands deference and obedience. ‘Credibility’ might mean proximity to political authority. Evidence that this is the correct interpretation of those terms exists in the prolific output of the project. There is barely an online discussion of consequence in which it has not been over-represented. A project which is intent on establishing an orthodoxy — rather than persuading through debate — is manifestly a project which is advanced in bad faith. Hence it finds itself booted out of conversations which would be civil without its help — and which usually are, on the very rare occasions where it has been absent. That is to say that the point of the project is to poison debate across lines of disagreement, which could otherwise be both possible and good-natured. The point is not to punish the expression of denial, but to deny its expression by punishing any provider of a platform for discussion across those lines that might seemingly lend the unorthodox argument “credibility”, as though debate itself was apostasy.

Heated squabbles are of course an enduring characteristic of the Internet. Hence, it should not be a surprise that online discussion fora do *tend* to develop particular cultures as one or other ‘public’ begins to dominate. The above is a preamble that may, therefore, look like so much he-said-she-said — bitterness generated by half a lifetime of such heated debates. But the point (which I also made in 2013) is that the quality of climate debate does not improve as one moves away from the Internet. It is notable also that the dominant players in the broader climate wars are people based in universities, with letters before and after their name, often occupying very senior positions in institutional science and policymaking. I.e. they are not anonymous trolls, in basements, without anything better to do, though you would not know it from the quality of their arguments in public.

It is furthermore notable that, in contrast to the blogosphere, there are no counterparts — “deniers”, in the study’s terminology — in the broader public sphere. That is to say that “deniers”, in most of the world, including in the UK and Europe, have almost zero presence, much less formal representation on campuses, in institutional or commercial science, in mainstream political parties, in a constellation of civil-society organisations, in corporate lobbying, and on broadcast news media. Yet many of those seemingly respectable panjandrums will tell you otherwise, with a straight face, from institutions bearing the names of billionaire benefactors, that a conspiracy of private interests have distorted the public debate. Needless to say, they are unable to quantify their claims, much less to put those quantities into comparison with a project the scale of the climate agenda: supranational organisations, almost all western governments, all of the universities, all political parties and so on — and all their resources.

Are there even as many active climate ‘denial’ bloggers and commenters as there are researchers active in the science communications and science studies fields that make such blogs the object of their study? It seems very possible to me that there are not. And yet this possibility should invite a further comparison: the resources available to researchers are vastly greater than those available to bloggers. I write this comment on the research on time borrowed from scraping a living — as do most climate bloggers. Are my counterparts? Many,including the one preoccupied by ‘civility’ and ‘credibility,’ are tenured. In contrast, I can think of fewer than half a dozen FTE positions in the UK which are given to criticism of the climate agenda at all, none of which enjoy anything at all that resembles tenure.

Yet there seems to be an endless stream of ‘science communicators’ desperate to lead the public towards ecological utopia. There are armies of NGO hacks. There are hundreds of ‘civil society’ organisations and think tanks, in the UK alone, almost all of which, if they have taken a position on climate, have taken the pro-consensus position. Your chances of getting a job at any of those organisations, if you have a detectable sceptic view of the climate debate are zero.

What I am suggesting here is that any ‘research’ which makes “denial” the object of its study begins from an position of abandoning any sense of proportion. Researchers are forced to study ‘denial’ blogs because there is almost no other expression of ‘denial’ in public life. Yet ‘denial’ vexes researchers and their funders. Isn’t that worthy of study? Why does it provoke such institutional rage?

What is the proportion? How many green vs brown FTEs are there, engaged in *formal* climate debates? What are the resources available to them? I suggests that the difference is at least three, and perhaps as many as six orders of magnitude — even more if we are comparing bloggers to the whole enterprise. Blogs are seemingly the primary vehicle of climate scepticism, whereas the focus of the climate agenda is an annual conference, attended by nearly every government, every NGO, every global corporation, thousands of activists, scientists and journalists, from which critics are all but banned. And that is just the start of the pro climate agenda’s formal expression.

The disparity is sufficient to call academic preoccupation with ‘denial’ a madness.

It is a constant source of amazement to me, therefore, that recalcitrant climate bloggers are the object of “research”, which takes for granted the dominant categories of that overwhelmingly predominant orthodoxy: “science” versus “denial”. It seems implausible to me that a scientific hypothesis could unite so many hitherto disparate and counter-posed public organisations, nations, institutions and enterprises without a great deal of ideological glue. There is evidently more going on than ‘science’, and thus ‘research’ is much more than it claims to be.

Why are academic researchers so interested in establishing a critical understanding of ‘denial’, but not of the far, far, far more consequential orthodoxy? Why are the dynamics of blogs of interest to academics, but not the dynamics of intergovernmental fora and academia? Why are the psychological profiles of ‘deniers’ a matter for cognitive scientists, but not the psyches of green alarmists, spivs and chancers? Oh, and scientists?

Added to the failure to bring a sense of proportion to research, then, there exists a failure of good faith — ‘ethics’, if you will. So much research on how ‘denial’ is expressed, what motivates its expression, and how it may be defeated. But so little academic commentary is concerned with what has been said, and what it has been said in response to. No, it is not just a response to the claim ‘climate change is real’. It is just as much a response to an orthodoxy, the ascendancy of which has gone without scrutiny of any kind, as rooted in ideology as any 20th century political movement, the facts and consequences of which most academics seem wilfully blind.

Full disclosure: I think it is a dangerous ideological movement, made all the more dangerous by blindness to itself, and that is my motivation.

Guess what… Academia produces its own ‘publics’. Try it. Try being a critic of sustainability at any one of a number of ‘research’ organisations whose mission statement is ‘sustainability’. Try getting a grant for a study which reflects critically on, rather than promotes sustainability, from the ESRC. Try going to an academic conference and expressing a view that runs counter to the conference’s prevailing orthodoxy. Try getting a paper on it published. See for yourself if blogs are any more or less hostile to alternative perspectives than academe. If there are any substantial differences between what you observe in blogs and what can be seen on any campus, I will be surprised, and will agree that the dynamics of blogs are more worthy of study than the dynamics of research organisations, leaving aside the fact that ‘research’ organisations are called on to inform policy-making processes, and are funded by public money and legacies from politically-oriented philanthropic foundations whereas blogs — not ‘denial’ blogs, anyhow — are not.

And try the other fora too — the broadcasters, the civil society organisations, the political parties… And then tell me that blog-based research is of any consequence, and not a motivated distraction.

76 thoughts on “What are you looking at blogs for?

  1. Good one Ben!

    It’s always the Argument from No Discernible Authority with our friend the Reader in Bioastrology, Blogger of Helioproctology and Writer of Unreadability isn’t it?

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  2. Ben,

    What intrigues me more than anything else is that, despite the truth of everything you have said, Metcalfe still seems to believe that ‘expansive’ dialogue has a role to play in climate change science communication. Her naivety is almost charming.

    As for me, I would like, if I may, to indulge in the naked narcissism of quoting from my own international worst-seller, The Groper Contract, in which I parody the contractive nature of the climate science dialogic thusly:

    Mad Dog furrowed his brow. “What are you trying to suggest? That I’m thick or something?”

    “Well you are a climate change denier,” I replied. “All the evidence is there but you just can’t seem to accept it. So either you’re thick or perverse. So which is it?”

    “That’s not the point,” protested Mad Dog. “Philosophers have often noted that science displays an uncommon degree of consensus on beliefs among its practitioners, and yet consensus in the sciences should never be a goal in itself. Consensus on beliefs is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for presuming that these beliefs constitute knowledge. In fact, a concrete consensus on a set of beliefs by a group of people at a given historical period may be explained by many different factors according to various hypotheses. Regarding the climate change consensus, you obviously adhere to what is sometimes referred to as the ‘knowledge hypothesis’, in which shared knowledge is the only explanation for the existence of a consensus. Well, I agree that if all the alternative hypotheses to the knowledge hypothesis are false, or are not as good in explaining a concrete consensus on beliefs, then the knowledge hypothesis then becomes a plausible, though fallible, indicator of knowledge. But it is only when a consensus on beliefs is uncoerced, uniquely heterogeneous and large, that the knowledge hypothesis provides the best explanation of a given consensus. I just happen to think that the consensus on climate change has been coerced and so, to a significant extent, can be explained by one of the many competing hypotheses to the knowledge hypothesis. Slurp!”

    Well, that was a bit perverse, I thought. Moreover, it was obvious to me that he had only said all of that because he thought I had just doubted his toxic masculinity. But then Mad Dog’s face relaxed as it slowly dawned upon him that the knowledge hypothesis needn’t concern someone armed with a nail gun. He pressed the trigger.

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  3. “I am not a climate scientist”

    Neither was Pachauri, however…:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/20/rajendra-pachauri-obituary
    “Climate scientist who pioneered the global work of the IPCC as its chair and tackled the ‘climategate’ hacking scandal”

    https://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+IM-PRESS+20080319STO24704+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN

    “…the UN’s Chief Scientist on climate Change…”

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  4. I tried to believe a change of CO2 level from 0.03% to 0.04% of the atmosphere is the worst thing ever for planet Earth, but it just wouldn’t happen. What went wrong?

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  5. John,

    Thanks for letting Mad Dog out. My Friends of the Library picks from back in Feb included a work of non-fiction by J. Ridgway- Road To Osabre- a daring adventure in the high country of Peru. When “Shining Path” was dismembering folks in the early 80’s I was running proficiency tests a few times a year. General Mattis and proficiency tests were referenced in another book (a) I read early on during my “stay in place” . General Mattis, Mad Dog, was on the Board of Directors of Theranos for a while.

    It looks like my area has another month of “stay in place” so I should be able to finish the other books I picked up the last time the library had a sale. If you haven’t already read Bad Blood I highly recommend it.

    a) Bad Blood-Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

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  6. Barry, Ben, Brad and I have managed to post comments at
    https://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2020/04/20/chanting-to-the-choir-the-dialogical-failure-of-antithetical-climate-change-blogs/
    demonstrating our willingness to participate in dialogue, and Jennifer had replied once and Brigitte twice, so it seems dialogue is possible. There’s been a silence from the professional science communicators for a while, but it does look hopeful. There’s been a kind of withdrawal of the accusation that Jo Nova has “gone bad,” and from the suggestion that comparisons with earth-centric cosmologies were relevant. We may be near the point where we can start negotiating, in the psychoanalytic sense.

    PeterS, are you there?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good comment Geoff. (I can currently see it, iow.)

    Or does that mean we are agreeing too much in the comments here?

    I honestly can’t remember the last time an author here deleted any comments on any Cliscep thread. (I know I did once – and probably Ben did – but that all seems a very long time ago.)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. > Neither was Pachauri, however…:

    Does that mean every climate treaty he midwived/midwifed, bawling, into the world was little more than a Groper Contract?

    Now I have to question EVERYTHING.

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  9. Geoff

    I didn’t argue, and I don’t think Jenni/Brigitte have agreed, that the Truths Universally Acknowledged in celestial mechanics aren’t useful analogies. Though obviously they AREN’T, in so far as the movements of the bodies in our solar system are NOT questions shrouded in curtains of ignorance woven of pure light-sucking, spacetime-collapsing blackness like questions of the future state of the Earth’s weather systems.

    My point was no less important than that, however. See, Brigitte/Jenni, in her/her attempt to name something Everybody Knows Is True, wound up saying something that ISN’T true, and that importantly violated the physical laws governing what kinds of things could POSSIBLY be true.

    I hoped by pointing this out to imbue some humility in the arbiters of permissible discourse, given that even when they thought something was trivially incontrovertible and that every scientist in history would think so too, they were Not Even… erm… Right.

    (It’s mechanically illiterate to say of a binary system that one object influences the other, but not vice versa. Nor does the fact that *almost everyone in society makes this mistake* regarding the Earth and Sun detract from my point one iota.)

    Nor was I, for what it’s worth: a true picture of celestial mechanics would have to take into account, among other complications, that gravity exerts itself in waves, not as an instantaneous “spooky action at a distance.”

    But I *explicitly* allowed for the fact that a third party was both likely and welcome to come along and improve upon my answer. I wonder if Brigitte/Jennifer even considered such a possibility when she made her own proclamation.

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  10. Brad, researchers who haven’t even grasped that climate-science (even in its best light) is a highly immature area compared to the *classical* understanding of orbits / gravity, are hardly empowered to see beyond their own biases for objective analysis. Added to which, this very immaturity was the open door for what has become an immense cultural conflict, with resulting social dynamics that can hardly fail to impact blogs and science itself to some degree; so it is far from just a simple matter of ‘communicating science’. Had their comparison been made to the science of the orbits of planets back in the seventeenth century, when this was similarly immature and subject to cultural conflict too (albeit not as large), then it would have been a much more valid comparison. And one in which the leading scientist of what proved later to be the *correct* side, was held under house-arrest for ten years by the (incorrect) consensus side (!), which itself was backed by the chief epistemological authorities of the day (i.e. religious authority).

    This is by no means evidence that the skeptics must be right or indeed that all skeptical reactions must perforce have a genuine point. But it more correctly sets the true context of the dispute, in which invoking ‘spherical Earth’ or ‘orbits’ or whatever as qualitative comparisons to climate science orthodoxy (let alone the cultural consensus on catastrophe in the public domain), is wholly invalid.

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  11. BRAD
    I didn’t think you did (argue what you said you didn’t.) But isn’t it getting interesting over there? You have to admire Brigitte. Well, you don’t, but she’s nicer than Ken. (So’s Barbie, you may say, getting back to the two body problem…)

    ANDY
    Do go there and have a word with her. These ladies brought up in the alarmist monoculture are getting a little glimpse of what a rich, flourishing intellectual jungle of an eco-system looks like. One good dose of your comments will really do their heads in.

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  12. Geoff: One good dose of your comments will really do their heads in.

    But they cannot read. They obsess about every aspect of blog comment other than *what* is said.

    They will tabulate it, code it, measure it, bend it, stretch it, but they will not read it.

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  13. Ben: “They will tabulate it, code it, measure it, bend it, stretch it, but they will not read it … It is too risky to read. There is too much at stake.”

    Very funny. Truth hurts. (And I’m now arguing with myself here.)

    The irony for me being that I’ve just come back to Cliscep after reading (a major part of) the thread at Making Science Public for the first time. (I think it was Geoff’s “rich, flourishing intellectual jungle of an eco-system” that finally enticed me. Thanks. Good effort, everyone.)

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  14. BEN
    OK, they don’t read, but they have feelings about things. Probably funny feelings, given the variety of responses they’re getting from us. Brad on his best behaviour is particularly startling.

    I hope my comment about Ho and Budescu and Nigerian princes wasn’t considered offensive. I tried to keep it obscure because I really don’t want to upset them, but I can’t help feeling I’m being mucked around with when every polite point is met with a reference to a paper or a quote or an analogy dafter than the last. When it’s Ken you’re sure you’re being mucked around with because you think: “it can’t be stupidity. He must have a reasonable IQ to get through those exo-planet exams.” But even with Ken I’m not sure it’s deliberate.

    What struck me was how every event like this, where a number of sceptics happen to converge on a believer and the believer responds, develops in the same fashion. It feels at the time as if we’re winning an argument, and therefore advancing in some way, as the responses get feebler.

    You think: “He’s not fooling me, and not fooling the other commenters, and he knows it. Is he fooling himself?” But when Feynman made that remark, he couldn’t have been thinking of a situation as daft as this. He wasn’t talking about primary school kids.

    My remark about having huge differences of opinion with you was partly to emphasise that we’re not formatted bots, and partly as a lead in to a disguised rude comment.

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  15. Ben,

    I’ve not seldom thought similarly uncharitable thoughts about (other) climate believalists.

    But it would require a non-naive (at least) model of the act of reading, if only to be able to explain how someone could KNOW how dangerous your comment was to read, without, you know, reading it.

    Possibly the pre-conscious mind does a preliminary parsing, grasps the threat and quickly redacts/scrambles/palliates/blurs/slips-a-mickey-to/scotomatizes the meaning before the conscious mind can catch up.

    A bit like the 7-second delay in live TV broadcasts to permit bleeping-out of swear words.

    In Dennett’s taxonomy of censorship, this is called either Orwellian or Stalinesque deletion, but I can’t remember which it is, or why.

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  16. I suspect that Nerlich stopped reading long before we stopped posting. I wonder whether attempts to impress with a collective effort are counter-productive. I was personally disappointed that I did not receive a response to my last comment aimed at Nerlich. However, provoking Ken to remark that he has never spoken to Oreskes was perhaps still worth my effort.

    The bottom line is that I suspect we made a much more negative impression than we would like to think.

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  17. Geoff — I tried to keep it obscure because I really don’t want to upset them, but I can’t help feeling I’m being mucked around with when every polite point is met with a reference to a paper or a quote or an analogy dafter than the last.

    I remember reading Adam Corner’s papers and being struck by how his preambles were nothing more than a cascade of special pleading — standing on the shoulders of minnows, all referencing the same shonky work that they each claimed to build on. It is a house of cards. In software, the instability of such a structure of dependencies is catastrophic. But in policy-based evidence making, it shores up a weak discipline’s weak grasp on the world. Or does it close ranks? It’s not unlike a preacher quoting passages from the Bible to the non-believing non-choir. It doesn’t anticipate the non-believer’s argument. What’s it for then?

    Brad — But it would require a non-naive (at least) model of the act of reading, if only to be able to explain how someone could KNOW how dangerous your comment was to read, without, you know, reading it.

    No, the point isn’t that what’s *in* in the comment to read it, it’s that *reading* it is dangerous. It doesn’t matter whether you take the gateway belief model believers’ or the science studies view of things; on both accounts, deniers are objects, not active, engaged subjects. Both want people as means, not ends in themselves.

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  18. John —I suspect we made a much more negative impression than we would like to think.

    It cannot be any other way.

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  19. John, please elaborate on the “negative impression” you suspect we made, and how.

    If you’re right, it’s the kind of thing we can’t afford NOT to know.

    Collective efforts achieved one thing at least. We proved that D commenters don’t *avoid* B blogs, and we’re even capable of *outnumbering* the Choir. So there goes perhaps the most obvious hypothesis for the origin of echo chambers: Ds avoid B blogs and Bs avoid D blogs. (The latter is largely true though, in my observation.) If her post BECOMES a believalist echo chamber, then it’ll be because all the Ds *left.* And perhaps she’ll start to wonder WHY we stopped going there. Were we censored? Blocked? Just got bored?

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  20. Brad,

    We may stand accused of being organised, hunting in packs, ganging up on the poor beleaguered victim, who doesn’t have a chance of responding to our onslaught. I don’t think this would be a problem if the other party was open-minded, but we are invariably dealing with someone whose starting point is that we are deluded at best and ill-willed at worst. It is easy for such a person to see us not as a collection of individuals but a horde. Maybe, sometimes less is more

    It’s just a thought, I don’t feel strongly about it.

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  21. JOHN RIDGWAY

    We may stand accused of being organised, hunting in packs, ganging up on the poor beleaguered victim

    No doubt, but it’s an easy accusation to counter, I think. The very fact of you mentioning it makes a conspiracy unlikely. Look how disorganised we are. Barry’s excellent early comments have had no follow up. Nobody knew what subject another commenter would bring up. It’s precisely our lack of organisation that made the thread sparkle, I think. More like a jazz band than a horde.

    I’m fascinated by how this happens, having seen it in widely different contexts. Neil Levy’s two articles were memorable. I remember a thread under a Brian Cox article at the New Statesman which took off, and I didn’t even recognise the names of the other sceptics. It used to happen regularly at the Conversation, thanks largely to the excellent Robin Guenier, who is no sceptic but does what so few sceptics can do – argue logically with infinite patience in the face of enormous provocation. I bet that the Conversation environment editor’s waste paper basket is stuffed with articles on Chinese Green policy: “No point in publishing that. That bloody Guenier will rip it apart.”

    I was intrigued to see that Brigitte had a paper about comments under a Monbiot article, but there’s nothing in it. It’s not bad, simply – nothing.

    “It is too risky to read” said Ben. The impression we make is “the kind of thing we can’t afford NOT to know,” says Brad. If it simply makes us think about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, it’s well worth it, I think.

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  22. Ben’s model and Brad’s model are simultaneously true. The danger in Ben’s model comes from the identity of the posters, who are dangerous people (to defended views). This alerts before a single word is read. You can see this effect in practice sometimes when identities are mistaken, and huge backtracking is needed on comments made before the error comes to light. But this doesn’t always mean comments are literally not read, they are just not read in the same manner due to the alert. Bias systems are roused that bypass, to a greater or lesser extent, rationality. Brains are neither atomic in action nor engines of reason only. Of course the same system resides in us all, but only operates to defend those particular core values to which we are emotively committed.

    Geoff, I think they’re probably already somewhat overwhelmed over there already without me jumping in. And re above I think they’re acting in good faith and they’re very far from the most biased / committed persons on the orthodox side. Nevertheless, they appear to be committed to orthodoxy at the emotive level, no doubt with a noble defence of science as part of that equation. The comments re ‘going bad’ and the planetary orbit thing reveal same, note, both later professed to be slips of some kind. But it is from such slips that one can glimpse the deeper assumptions that likely stem from inherent bias on the topic, and, ultimately but subtly also imply nefarious motive, e.g. via the Budescu quote about using the notion of uncertainty strategically to do nothing. These form what one might call the moral framework of the debate on one side over there, meaning there isn’t even a match of base frameworks from the very beginning. So, most of the discussion cannot be understood in the sense that it is pitched by either side. If I knew how to bridge such gaps, I would already have tried.

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  23. Andy,

    “it is from such slips…”

    Exactly. Thank you for saying it so well.

    Sometimes a slip is just a slip. Equally often it’s a revealing negligee or little crotchless number that a husband might buy, but not for his wife—and certainly not if she was in the habit of answering the doorbell to deniers.

    It’s all well and good for them to say, “OK, I should have used a better example than heliocentrism” or, “I should have expressed the doctrine of heliocentrism better.” But *WOULD* they have, if not for us who police them like so many Lingerie Auditors from Iran’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice?

    (I’ve often had occasion to point out the astronomical implications of Newton’s Third Law of Mechanics, but never to a person who *already grasped it.*)

    “So, most of the discussion cannot be understood in the sense that it is pitched by either side.”

    Would you say that either side understands the other better, or do you think they are mutually opaque in equal measure?

    I ask because I’ve never knowingly met a believalist or even a believer who managed to state my position in words that I myself would endorse. In other words, I don’t think they EVER understand where we’re coming from. The smart alec in me is tempted to postulate that this is true by definition; that if they understood our argument, they’d know it was correct. Which means believalists either can’t understand it, choose not to, or pretend not to—and all three of these would result in the same failure to describe our position correctly.

    By contrast, I sincerely think I HAVE understood my (believalist or believer) interlocutor’s position on countless occasions.

    In the case of a number of my believer acquaintances, I can follow their logic well enough that I’m forced to admit that I would have reached the same conclusion myself… had I not known a couple of things they verifiably do NOT know.

    (When I discuss CAGW with one of my friends in particular I find it very, very hard to fault his logic or intellectual honesty at all, as a result of which I’m fairly sure that if I had his educational CV instead of mine, I’d be just as Climate Persuaded as he is.)

    The high confidence I have in my ability to cognitively empathise with opponents is all the more reason why I’d urgently like to know if I’m just kidding myself.

    As ever, all the above is complicated by the fact that (pace you, Andy) many, many of these people DON’T BELIEVE what they say, nor say what they believe.

    So it’s strictly as a ‘fiction of convenience’ that I use “say” and “think” interchangeably when describing such people.

    Note that I’m not yet sure if Jennifer and Brigitte are as disingenuous as all this. Innocent until proven guilty. (Others in this thread may of course be a couple of steps ahead of me, judicially speaking, but I like to take my sweet time about reaching the almost-inevitable verdict.)

    Like

  24. Brad:

    “Would you say that either side understands the other better, or do you think they are mutually opaque in equal measure?”

    A problem here from the off is that you can’t say anything about individuals, only statistically about group behaviours, because particular individuals can buck any trend. In principle, if emotive bias only existed on one side of a group conflict, rationality prevails on the other side and hence this side would understand the arguments of the biased side rationally and not via their own bias, whereas the reverse wouldn’t be true. But I doubt there’s ever a seriously conflicted topic that only has bias on one side alone, or indeed even one where the conflict isn’t tangled with several other conflicts that lead to gradations of various sides and corresponding biases. For instance in the US public, in cultural identity terms the dispute is much more about Rep/Cons verses Lib/Dems than skeptics verses the climate orthodox. So, strong *political* culture on both sides. As shown in my current series at Climate Etc, at the level of national publics across the globe, there two strong links between catastrophic climate beliefs and religiosity (one correlating, the other anti-correlating), so then you have ancient old culture and its biases dragged into the equation. Even in irreligious countries and not the US, most skepticism is innate not reasoned, i.e. it is still an instinctive not rational rejection to the ‘over-culturalisaton’ so to speak, of CAGW. Publics are not climate literate so they can’t response rationally, but many know an oppressive culture when they feel one because evolution granted us this as a balance, yet the BS trigger is itself cultural value dependent. If anyone thinks they are without biases in this melee, I’d advise them to think again; much safer to assume one doesn’t comprehend all about another side even if some of their biases seem obvious.

    “The smart alec in me is tempted to postulate that this is true by definition; that if they understood our argument, they’d know it was correct.”

    I think it’s fair to say for anyone that if their biases were magically removed, their views would be different. But that doesn’t necessarily mean agreement would follow. For instance there are many rational voices with relatively orthodox climate views who still disagree with skeptics, albeit they tend to be more at the luke-warmer side of the spectrum. There are even folks who believe in catastrophe *not* through emotive bias but because (understandably given the public narratives), they simply think this is the output of science. This is visible in scientists from other domains sometimes, who have no strong reason to believe that the claimed support of certain catastrophe from the IPCC (and hence mainstream science, as is so often touted), is wrong.

    “…I can follow their logic well enough that I’m forced to admit that I would have reached the same conclusion myself… had I not known a couple of things they verifiably do NOT know.”

    The problem here being, as happens endlessly, is that anyone on any side can claim exclusive access to particular knowledge, whether or not it happens to be right, but a) in the domain of a very immature science there aren’t knock-out blows in this respect for anyone, and b) typically this becomes not a competition of knowledge elements, but one of the source of same, which is just a proxy for identity because those sources will be on one side or other and the knowledge they proffer will be subject to bias. And even if some elements happen to be high quality, they’ll be subject to biased interpretation based on source and not content (as Ben alludes to above).

    “When I discuss CAGW with one of my friends in particular I find it very, very hard to fault his logic or intellectual honesty at all, as a result of which I’m fairly sure that if I had his educational CV instead of mine, I’d be just as Climate Persuaded as he is.”

    Which indeed goes to show how tenuous positions really are, depending as much one one’s journey through life as on anything one might truly rely upon as an independently objective / universal baseline.

    “The high confidence I have in my ability to cognitively empathise with opponents is all the more reason why I’d urgently like to know if I’m just kidding myself.”

    Only partly. Obvious biases are after all, obvious biases. But the unobvious biases are the ones to worry about, especially in ourselves (if we could see our own, they soon wouldn’t be biases!) Caution helps compensate for unknown biases. Too high a confidence within an emotively conflicted domain, is itself essentially a liability. Which doesn’t rule out firmness for what’s evidentially supported.

    “…many of these people DON’T BELIEVE what they say…”

    Belief is not lying, despite it can seem enormously hypocritical to non-adherents. It is exactly a (very big) bias. The vast majority absolutely believe what they say (which is exactly the problem, they believe it via passion and not rationality). A small subset subject to noble cause corruption can knowingly lie, but *not* because they don’t believe in the cause and are lying from that PoV, but the opposite, i.e. they believe in it still more than the others, fanatically so, and thus will lie to achieve its aims because their level of belief trumps even honesty.

    “…nor say what they believe…”

    They cannot say what they believe, because the very nature of cultural belief is that it is subconscious. What they say reflects the cultural narratives to which they are emotively committed, so in a literal sense they are saying what they believe, but the point is that they can’t articulate it as a belief because to them it appears to be a rational stance.

    “Note that I’m not yet sure if Jennifer and Brigitte are as disingenuous as all this. Innocent until proven guilty.”

    Their comments don’t reveal the slightest hint of disingenuousness to me. Yet far more than just hints of climate orthodox belief (not least those ‘slips’). I’m glad you retain the latter safeguard. While there might be a couple of very high profile and unusual cases where there’s some benefit, trying to personally psychologise those opposite in a culturally conflicted debate, is not I think productive. Being aware of the main biases likely in play can improve the approach of one’s arguments, but beyond that there is nothing to be gained (and much potential offence that could be caused).

    Like

  25. Geoff,
    I don’t think we need to come across as being highly co-ordinated or monothematic to stand accused of acting as a horde (maybe ‘pack’ is the better term). In fact, the greater the variety of our contributions, and the more sub-topics we introduce, the more effective is our onslaught, i.e. the more likely that the target will be overwhelmed by the points requiring a response and so give up, saying that the discussion has become ‘rather personal, repetitive and unproductive’. That may not have been our intent, but if it had been we would now find it difficult to prove otherwise. At the very least, our anxiety to be listened to seems ultimately to have had a counterproductive effect.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. John:

    At the very least, our anxiety to be listened to seems ultimately to have had a counterproductive effect.

    It’s an old problem. As I put it in a report on Bishop Hill in February 2011 about a meeting at Imperial College (of all topical places), at which I’d actually been allowed to ask Simon Singh a question:

    Shouting out “Have you even read the article?” to Singh was I felt only going to confirm the widely-held nutter hypothesis.

    At moments like this I think of Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and what he said to Gandalf that time: have I ever lost my self-control and blown the whole plan? Or something to that effect. Difficult.

    Like

  27. Richard,

    I think the ‘denialist’ brand is so prejudicial that we don’t even need to lose our cool to be considered out of order. We are like uranium. We only have to attain a critical mass in order to attract opprobrium.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thanks Andy.

    > A problem here from the off is that you can’t say anything about individuals, only statistically about group behaviours, because particular individuals can buck any trend.

    But you CAN say things about individuals. I can say things about Ken Rice. Because I’ve interacted with him.

    Since I doubt you’re actually disputing this, I’ve likely misconstrued you already (after a grand total of one sentence)!

    Anyway when I ask whether one side understands the other side better than vice versa, I’m talking about the person with the BEST understanding of what makes the MOST rational person in the other group tick.

    I didn’t spell that out, so let me do so now. It doesn’t matter to me why idiots think other idiots disagree with them.

    Here’s an analogy. If I asked “how well do we really understand superstrings,” I’d mean “how well does the person who understands superstrings the best really understand them?”

    I’m talking about the cutting edge, not the adipose middle or the fat tail.

    Back to climate:

    I understand, to the point of saying “there but the grace of God go I,” why my friend is an alarmist. By contrast, he has never understood why I’m a non-alarmist. Does ANY alarmist understand why I’m a non-alarmist?

    It bores the shit out of me when people go on about the politicization of climate views. YES I KNOW THAT.

    Where does it get us, in terms of achieving a societal reconciliation on climate change? We’re never going to STOP people being Republicans and other people being Democrats.

    And if we don’t understand why a leftist hippie like Freeman Dyson was a non-alarmist—if all we can do is posit that some unaccounted-for variables must have caused him to “buck the trend,” or just throw our hands up and say “all we have are correlations, we never claimed to understand causes”—then what do we understand? Nothing *of interest* or utility, as far as I can tell.

    > “The smart alec in me is tempted to postulate that this is true by definition; that if they understood our argument, they’d know it was correct.”
    > I think it’s fair to say for anyone that if their biases were magically removed, their views would be different.

    I’m not proposing that their biases be magically removed, perhaps because I don’t know exactly what you mean by biases. (I thought biases were systematic heuristic errors—phenomena like availability bias or racial prejudices. No?)

    I’m wondering about what would happen if their incomprehension, misunderstanding, ignorance and delusion were removed by the time-tested and completely non-magical means of conveying information to them in oral or written form.

    > Even in irreligious countries and not the US, most skepticism is innate not reasoned, i.e. it is still an instinctive not rational rejection to the ‘over-culturalisaton’ so to speak, of CAGW.

    Yeah but such skepticism is not interesting, because it can’t sustain an argument. An “instinctive not rational” skeptic couldn’t win a town hall debate or a Guardian tete-a-tete against a well-informed alarmist like Dana Nuccitelli. And the innate skepticism of innate skeptics would COLLAPSE if there were no reasoned skeptics out there arguing the reasons for skepticism. If every climate-informed person in the world were on the alarmist team, the gut skepticism of the climate-ignorant wouldn’t dare speak its name. The non-thinking peasantry would just keep their doubts to themselves if not for the respectable face that skeptical thinkers put on skepticism.

    So the beliefs of the non-reasoning, opinion-following masses are nothing but an epiphenomenon of the positions championed by the reasoning opinion leaders, and I don’t understand the point of even talking about them. What is it?

    > There are even folks who believe in catastrophe *not* through emotive bias but because (understandably given the public narratives), they simply think this is the output of science.

    Yes, this very closely describes the friend I mentioned.

    Which is why even at the height of our arguments, I try never to insult his rationality by attempting or purporting to de-bias or de-emotionalize him. I presume he’s every bit as rational as I’d like him to presume I am, in all respects that matter. So I concentrate instead on identifying the premises which (understandably given the public narratives) he believes, and which (understandably given that he’s capable of reason) lead him to the perfectly reasonable conclusion that we should be afraid, very afraid.

    > Publics are not climate literate so they can’t response rationally, but many know an oppressive culture when they feel one because evolution granted us this as a balance, yet the BS trigger is itself cultural value dependent.

    Exactly. It’s a contest of fallacies. If you’re lucky, the right fallacy will prevail over the wrong one. Trump may be on the right side of the CAGW question, but he couldn’t give a more rational defense of his skepticism than Pelosi, who’s WRONG, could give of her alarmism. Trump got lucky—she didn’t. Neither of them “knows” they’re right; Trump’s belief is no more JUSTIFIED scientifically than Pelosi’s.

    Unreasoning publics do not matter to me, as a problem, and I don’t see why anyone cares enough to study them.

    > The problem here being, as happens endlessly, is that anyone on any side can claim exclusive access to particular knowledge

    My friend and I have the same IQ—or at least, you couldn’t decide whose was higher if you knew us.

    The same politics. The same socioeconomic background.

    In other words, cetera pares.

    But I CAN claim, with copious justifying data, to know things my friend doesn’t know about how science works, how to tell a pseudoscientist from a scientist, how to adjudicate a scientific controversy, how scientific knowledge is achieved and what it is, etc.

    I studied these things. He did not. He went into Classical Languages.

    It’d be positively bizarre if he DIDN’T know more about Greek and Latin than me.

    And it’d be equally bizarre if I DIDN’T know more about the scientific method than him.

    So I don’t think I’m going very far out on a limb, or even flattering myself, to say that I’m better equipped cognitively to determine which “side” of the climate debate is a pseudoscientific load of horseshit.

    > Belief is not lying, despite it can seem enormously hypocritical to non-adherents.

    Of course belief isn’t lying!

    Believing what you say entails that you’re NOT lying. It entails that you’re NOT enormously hypocritical, or remotely hypocritical.

    > They cannot say what they believe, because the very nature of cultural belief is that it is subconscious.

    If they can’t say what they believe, then they can’t open their mouths without lying. Everything they say (assuming they can speak at all) will by definition be something they don’t believe.

    And we can’t even blame them for doing this, since they’re metaphysically obliged to?

    Sorry, Andy, this makes no sense, if I understand it, which I probably don’t, but anyway.

    Like

  29. Brad,

    >But you CAN say things about individuals. I can say things about Ken Rice. Because I’ve interacted with him.

    Not from theory you can’t. Unless you’ve done so from expertise and long personal sessions using individual psycho-analysis based upon the principles of that domain, which you haven’t, and I’m also presuming you’re not qualified to perform. And surely your seeking of advice was from the theoretical perspective, as my personal opinion of Ken or the responders at the Nottingham blog, or anyone else I don’t know extremely well personally, isn’t worth the electrons it’s written with. And so whatever you are saying, is merely your personal opinion also. You’re entitled to that opinion of course, but it holds no theoretical weight of the type you were seeking when you asked about the relative opacity of sides, and in your next paragraph related this to actual individuals you’d come across.

    >Since I doubt you’re actually disputing this, I’ve likely misconstrued you already (after a grand total of one sentence)!

    Indeed so.

    >Anyway when I ask whether one side understands the other side better than vice versa, I’m talking about the person with the BEST understanding of what makes the MOST rational person in the other group tick.

    Both my points stand. I.e. you cannot make pronouncements on individuals from group / cultural theories about sides, and my explanations above regarding what you can know from same, likewise stand. This doesn’t mean we are unarmed for social interaction or (indeed constantly) evaluating those with whom we interact. But second-guessing their behaviours (which we all need to do to some extent to best achieve our own aims) and presuming you know the motivations behind those behaviours for a particular individual, are entirely different things. Not to mention that ‘best’ understanding regarding an immature and complex (indeed, wicked) problem, is highly subjective…

    >Here’s an analogy. If I asked “how well do we really understand superstrings,” I’d mean “how well does the person who understands superstrings the best really understand them?”

    Well this is an extremely poor means of understanding our position on immature knowledge areas to start with. Because in a field of many uncertainties and competing theories, a single ‘the best’ is entirely subjective. There is absolutely no means to know which is ‘best’, or indeed whether the future will prove all the leading theories wrong and a complete outsider wins the validation of future history. The only way to assess our understanding in such fields, indeed as Judith Curry does for climate science, is to have a very wide lens plus methodologies for evaluating deep uncertainty and models for integrating widely different views into some form of marshalled sense that relates the different theories and different types and strengths of unknowns.

    >I understand, to the point of saying “there but the grace of God go I,” why my friend is an alarmist. By contrast, he has never understood why I’m a non-alarmist. Does ANY alarmist understand why I’m a non-alarmist?

    Why not ask him? While you’re at it, why not double-check and ask yourself whether you truly know at the fundamental level, why you support your position and how you got there. In the sense that the orthodox see many biases on the skeptic side, per above Rep/Con bias in the US public being a prime example, they are in many instances *correctly* making some of the same assumptions about influence as skeptics make of them. And as noted, you don’t need obvious cultural support to be reacting instinctively either; in the absence of literacy innate skepticism of what is perceived as an oppressive culture (CAGW), may indeed be correct but is not rational (it could, however, later lead to rational objections). Absent all these other influences, statistically ‘alarmists’ are less likely to understand their opposition than vice versa due to cultural bias. But the other influences are never absent, and neither per above can theory say anything about an individual. I’m failing to see why this issue of individuals occupies you so much, it has no utility.

    >Where does it get us, in terms of achieving a societal reconciliation on climate change? We’re never going to STOP people being Republicans and other people being Democrats.

    I didn’t say anywhere that I knew the answer to that. Though I believe understanding what is actually happening has to be a needful step towards any answer (and for sure it isn’t going to take us further from an answer!) – this is how science ultimately understands everything it has so far achieved. But you weren’t asking about a ‘solution to the main issues’ of conflict. You were asking for advice about whether particular *individuals* you oppose in the climate debate, do or don’t understand your position better than you understand theirs. Which because you stress ‘individual’, cannot be known, and incidentally also has no utility towards answering this larger issue anyhow.

    >And if we don’t understand why a leftist hippie like Freeman Dyson was a non-alarmist—if all we can do is posit that some unaccounted-for variables must have caused him to “buck the trend,” or just throw our hands up and say “all we have are correlations, we never claimed to understand causes”—then what do we understand? Nothing *of interest* or utility, as far as I can tell.

    Not at all. This is essentially positing that easily detectable strong group behaviours (e.g. religious, or CAGW, or whatever), are somehow invalid simply because their distributions cover at the fringes a very wide scale. Is Catholicism invalid because Protestants appeared? No. And does this mean we can’t explain Protestant schism or why it grew? No. Does it matter who started it? Historically, yes, but this makes not one jot of difference as to why religions exist or how they work. Does it mean we can at any arbitrary moment predict the next schism in any given culture. No; cultures are wicked problems to understand in detail and we just aren’t knowledgeable enough for that yet. And given CAGW support and opposition in various categories is so huge over the global population, there will be literally millions of individuals who are atypical to some degree or other regarding such behaviours. And the causes of the typical strong correlations can indeed be known, their roots are from in-group / out-group behaviours bequeathed to us by evolution, and which are also deliberately pitched by evolution to have variation around trends, because otherwise checks and balances of the system could not occur, not to mention that further evolution would be impossible because this also needs variation from which to select. So causation is not only covered, but predicts that there will be significant variation around trends, and that therefore you’d *expect* to see examples like Freeman Dyson and many more such. If these *didn’t* occur, you’d know there was something wrong with the theory. Plus… you *do not need* to trace the life-paths at excruciatingly miniscule level for millions and millions of individuals to determine their personal positions, in order to have a perfectly serviceable explanation of ‘why CAGW is’, any more than you would need to do this for the religious equivalents. This would be a highly unproductive distraction; probing individuals has no utility towards the ‘whole problem’ answer you seek above, and would have to be undertaken many millions of times per case, because each path is unique. The productive route is the same as for all the science of populations, find what is not unique per individual but common, plus the processes that create the variation around commonality; just the same within cultural evolution as for understanding species characteristics and the polymorphism each supports.

    >I’m not proposing that their biases be magically removed, perhaps because I don’t know exactly what you mean by biases. (I thought biases were systematic heuristic errors—phenomena like availability bias or racial prejudices. No?)

    Biases are anything that bypasses rationality. Culture propagates and polices highly emotive narratives, which typically marshal and amplify a range of biases that can often be found in much smaller manifestations and operating alone, so to speak, in the absence of a strong marshalling culture.

    >I’m wondering about what would happen if their incomprehension, misunderstanding, ignorance and delusion were removed by the time-tested and completely non-magical means of conveying information to them in oral or written form.

    The (attempted) mere delivery of information, does not remove any of these things from those who possess them due to cultural bias. Even assuming the attempted delivery is completely bias-free (which in practice for an immature science mired in a massive cultural conflict, is rather unlikely). So this is impossible even as a thought experiment. If this was doable as a matter of course, there wouldn’t be any cultures and there wouldn’t be a cultural conflict about climate change.

    > Yeah but such skepticism is not interesting, because it can’t sustain an argument.

    Of course it’s interesting, if you actually want to know how and why all the things in society actually happen. Quantitively, Innate skepticism likely outranks rational skepticism by ~million+ to one, and therefore has massive significance in events.

    >An “instinctive not rational” skeptic couldn’t win a town hall debate or a Guardian tete-a-tete against a well-informed alarmist like Dana Nuccitelli.

    But it’s the major reason why the British public pulled XR protesters very ungently off railway carriages, and a big contribution to the reason why the Oz public rejected Labour in the recent ‘climate election’, and other such events to which rational skepticism has vanishingly less contribution.

    >And the innate skepticism of innate skeptics would COLLAPSE if there were no reasoned skeptics out there arguing the reasons for skepticism. If every climate-informed person in the world were on the alarmist team, the gut skepticism of the climate-ignorant wouldn’t dare speak its name.

    What evidence do you have for this? Innate skepticism is a major force that has operated in us essentially forever (for better or worse, it is not always good), and needs no (in this case climate) literacy to operate, so is not ultimately dependent on rational skeptic info at all (albeit in countries where a little of this actually does make it to the public, there should be a minor contribution). The cultural excesses of the CAGW movement will rouse this force in isolation, no rational skepticism is needed, and likely most people who express this in national populations have indeed no significant climate (skeptical, or indeed other) knowledge at all above the doom messages they see on the news. Sometimes, innate skepticism will later lead to rational skepticism, it’s likely the biggest recruiter.

    >So the beliefs of the non-reasoning, opinion-following masses are nothing but an epiphenomenon of the positions championed by the reasoning opinion leaders, and I don’t understand the point of even talking about them. What is it?

    No. The phenomenon is emergent. The leaders of our society, presidents, prime ministers, religious leaders, UN elite, green business leaders, NGOs, economists, twitter / FB opinion-formers and other influencers etc etc. (with the notable exception of Trump), are absolutely NOT using reason! They are to a huge majority hooked on the culture and are propagating the catastrophe narrative, and have done so for decades. Cultures are polarizing phenomena (to create an in-group you must also be creating an out-group), which is what has led to *both* the mass public believers *and* an innately skeptical opposition, the latter very much embedded in those who aren’t struck on our elites in the first place, and the former essentially promoting the ideals (albeit a bit stronger) of many in authority even while (like XR or Greta) posturing as a revolutionary mode against them. The point is that both these public forces are very big compared to rational skepticism, albeit no significant pieces of the jigsaw can be left out.

    >So I concentrate instead on identifying the premises which (understandably given the public narratives) he believes, and which (understandably given that he’s capable of reason) lead him to the perfectly reasonable conclusion that we should be afraid, very afraid.

    Sounds very reasonable, which doesn’t mean it’ll work. Maybe your identity is working against you (he may not view you as you view him). Point him to reasoned AGW believers, e.g. Pielke Jr, or indeed at (summary tables in) IPCC AR5 (not the SPR though – too much bias crept in). The WG Technical papers are produced by scientists only (SPR only 20% scientists). Usually, it’s a journey, you need to avoid the single leap. The beginning of a piece of cotton is enough; if he’s rational, he will pull on the thread, and it’ll keep unravelling…

    >Unreasoning publics do not matter to me, as a problem, and I don’t see why anyone cares enough to study them.

    Because like it or not, they ARE what is happening in the public domain, and on the skepticism side this is likely to remain so because publics are not going to get climate literate any time soon. Hence if rational skepticism wants to defeat the narrative of imminent catastrophe, they’d better figure out how to steer mass movements of innate skepticism to productive purpose. It may just happen on its own when net zero starts to bite, there could well be fury that makes the gilet jeunes look trivial. But clearly violence is best avoided and explosions on that scale may cause as much of a problem as the one being solved; harnessing it at the ballot box via pragmatic policies (based ultimately on rational skepticism) would be a way to go, which doesn’t mean I have any idea how that path may be pursued.

    >But I CAN claim, with copious justifying data, to know things my friend doesn’t know about how science works, how to tell a pseudoscientist from a scientist, how to adjudicate a scientific controversy, how scientific knowledge is achieved and what it is, etc.

    Well I can’t always tell which side is right in a conflicted science topic I’m unfamiliar with. But at any rate if he has no science background my advice about Pielke etc is unlikely to help. Maybe you should just let it lie. Your efforts on higher leverage points will in any case be much more productive. But if he ‘believes in science’ as you imply, your task is ‘merely’ (heh) to point out that *mainstream* science does not support ‘we should all be very very afraid’, and that it claims climate damages (per AR5) will most likely be about the same as a big recession by 2070 (indeed Pielke has quoted same on occasion but I never saved links). When we’ll all be much richer anyhow. Don’t argue skeptical science, however unpalatable it may be, argue *mainstream* science, against which believers in science have a problem if they want to be a minority outside of its views!

    >Believing what you say entails that you’re NOT lying. It entails that you’re NOT enormously hypocritical, or remotely hypocritical.

    Absolutely, but it implies you will *come across* to non-adherents as immensely hypocritical, even though it is not so.

    >If they can’t say what they believe, then they can’t open their mouths without lying. Everything they say (assuming they can speak at all) will by definition be something they don’t believe.

    You have indeed misunderstood. What I mean is, they cannot express that what they believe is due to a ‘belief system’, aka is ‘religious’ in nature, because they don’t know that this is the case. The emotive bias re-routes in their brain prevent this from being seen internally, because clearly group adherence would rapidly decline if this wasn’t the case! They think that the topic-related things they believe in, are purely a product of rationality only. This system is identical in all of us, but its operation is cultural-value dependent.

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  30. Given Brigitte Nerlich’s understandable loss of patience over at the Nottingham University website, there seems to be no purpose to be served by reminding her that she failed to reply to my last comment, in which I had responded to her remark regarding uncertainty. Needless to say, she seemed to think that climate scientists and science communicators were well on top of the subject. They knew where the uncertainties were and they were not unduly concerned.

    Well, if you could find me a science communicator that can explain the relative importance of the probability of necessity and the probability of sufficiency within the subject of extreme weather event attribution (and how the two can be quantified) then I may concede her point. Alternatively, just find me one who could explain the difficulties associated with treating epistemic uncertainty using aleatoric methods. Or, maybe, if they could elucidate the advantages of using non-additive, non-probabilistic approaches to the quantification of uncertainty, that would help.

    In my experience, the average science communicator is a long way from even understanding the concept of uncertainty and its quantification, let alone being able to reliably pontificate upon its presence or absence. And I am afraid to say the same goes for many climate scientists. That’s a shame, because if one cannot appreciate such things, one will always struggle to make the distinction between science and anti-science.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. John,

    > Given Brigitte Nerlich’s understandable loss of patience over at the Nottingham University website

    It’s not “understandable” to me (nor am I sure it’s genuine).

    If I posted/hosted what she’d posted/hosted, only to come back a day later and find the thread had grown much longer and deeper than I’d intended, I’d be delighted.

    The “patience” construct implies that commenters are imposing on, or obliging, or otherwise causing to suffer, the host. That’s not how virtual real estate works, fortunately. It’s infinitely expansible. She’s not going to run out of Lebensraum even if the comments reach quadruple figures. And more importantly, she’s under no obligation to read them if she doesn’t want to.

    Of course, if she views herself as an enforcer of a particular ideology, then yes, a large volume of comments does impose on her the need to spend a lot of time checking them for potential injury to the public’s moral hygiene.

    But in that case there’s something wrong with her from the get-go.

    I mentioned the question of genuineness. This question isn’t specific to Brigitte, mind you. It’s merely that the feigning of weariness and disinterest is one of the classic stratagems used by people who are wrong to avoid talking about how wrong they are without acknowledging that they’re wrong.

    To put it simply, pseudo-apathy is a classic cover for the fear of dialogue.

    The other one is pseudo-anger. “I’m not even going to dignify that question,” says the cheating husband who fears this conversation is going to end very badly unless it ends RIGHT NOW.

    Finally, your comment (from the first comma onwards) is excellent, and if we’re still clinging to the presumption that Brigitte is intellectually honest, then the dictates of altruism require you to post it at her blog, for her benefit.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Brad:

    the dictates of altruism require you to post it at her blog, for her benefit

    Very good comment up till your penultimate comma. The almost-symmetric nature of your critique is therefore wondrous.

    The dictates of altruism require no such thing, as XKCD proved long ago.

    I also agree with John that Nerlich’s loss of patience was understandable. But that’s a separate point.

    Like

  33. Andy,

    couple of problems.

    You claim I can’t say anything “from theory” (whatever that means) about individuals I’ve interacted with…

    > …unless you’ve done so from expertise and long personal sessions using individual psycho-analysis based upon the principles of that domain, which you haven’t, and I’m also presuming you’re not qualified to perform.

    If that’s the case, then YOU can’t say anything “from theory” about groups in the climate debate unless you’ve gathered data about multiple specific individuals within those groups from expertise and long personal sessions using individual psycho-analysis based upon the principles of that domain, which you haven’t, and I’m also presuming you’re not qualified to perform.

    It goes back to sturgical first principles. You tell me I can’t say anything about the body length of the sturgeon that’s lying on my plate as we speak, because I don’t have a sturgeonometer. Sure, I might possess a garden-variety ruler, but that’s not fit for the purpose of forming, and speaking from, sturgicometric “theory” (whatever that means).

    But you don’t have a sturgeonometer either. Nobody (not Lewandowsky, not Nerlich, not Marshall, not Kahan) has a sturgeonometer.

    Or perhaps I should say: even if they do have one (what with all the psychology and other degrees they’ve accumulated over the years), they’ve never *used* it.

    After all, has any scholar of the climate debate interacted with a well-powered sample of individuals on any and all ‘sides’ using expertise and long personal sessions using individual psycho-analysis based upon the principles of that domain?

    So it seems rather bizarre to expect me to take seriously any statistical claims “from theory” (whatever that means) about entire demographics within the debate if, ex hypothesi, nobody knows anything about anybody IN those demographics.

    Analogously, you’re asking me to believe claims about the average height of the trees in a forest, the median height, the standard deviation of the height and so forth, while at the same time insisting I have no right to point to a particular tree and comment on how tall it is since—if you’re right—neither I nor anybody else has ever put in the many, many hours of expert clinical interrogation necessary to form a sense of how tall that tree, or any other tree for that matter, really is.

    > And surely your seeking of advice was from the theoretical perspective,

    No, my seeking of advice was from you, Andy West.

    I didn’t tell you *how* you had to go about answering.

    > as my personal opinion of Ken or the responders at the Nottingham blog, or anyone else I don’t know extremely well personally, isn’t worth the electrons it’s written with.

    Then it has to follow (with all due respect, past and present) that your theoretical conclusions about skeptics, believers, environmentalists, Republicans or any group in the climate debate aren’t worth the electrons they’re written with.

    Or did I miss the part where you, or someone whose work you rely on, interacted with an adequately-powered sample of individuals in the debate on the basis of expertise and long personal sessions using individual psycho-analysis based upon the principles of that domain—which you haven’t, and I’m also presuming you’re not qualified to perform?

    Heck, Lewandowsky won’t interact with skeptics on ANY basis, considering it “a tremendous waste of time.” He’s obviously at the extreme low end of the human bell curve, but are other climate psychologists and climate sociologists THAT much better?

    > And so whatever you are saying, is merely your personal opinion also.

    I’m sorry, I must remember to express someone else’s opinions next time.

    >> Anyway when I ask whether one side understands the other side better than vice versa, I’m talking about the person with the BEST understanding of what makes the MOST rational person in the other group tick.
    > Both my points stand. I.e. you cannot make pronouncements on individuals from group / cultural theories about sides

    Yes you can. If you know the mode, mean, median, standard deviation and range of a distribution, then you CAN say something about the maximum. And the maximum refers, by definition, to a property of an individual.

    And to go back to the by-now-familiar Catch-22: if you don’t know anything about any individuals, how on earth did you arrive at statistics about the groups in the first place?

    > Not to mention that ‘best’ understanding regarding an immature and complex (indeed, wicked) problem, is highly subjective…

    Sorry, how do you know my or anyone else’s understanding of the psychology of climate beliefs is immature, or that it’s a complex or “wicked” problem?

    We’re not talking about the earth’s atmosphere here. (I rarely ever do.) We’re talking about what a handful of active debaters think about it, say about it, and why.

    > Well this is an extremely poor means of understanding our position on immature knowledge areas to start with.

    Please convince me that my understanding of my old, close, good friend’s climate psychology, or of the psychology of anyone else I habitually presume to pronounce upon, is immature.

    > Because in a field of many uncertainties and competing theories, a single ‘the best’ is entirely subjective.

    But I do know I understand my friend’s thinking *better* than almost anyone in the climate-psychology debate seems to understand the thinking of anyone on the other side of the climate-change debate.

    How do I know? Because my old, close friend’s thinking makes complete sense to me.

    (The fields of climate psychology and climate sociology, by contrast, appear to have set themselves the goal of making NONSENSE of the thinking of either one side or both sides.)

    As I’ve mentioned, I can’t see how, if I were in his epistemic/education shoes, I would have come to a materially different conclusion about climate change—except perhaps by a miracle of quantum-level funkiness.

    > There is absolutely no means to know which is ‘best’, or indeed whether the future will prove all the leading theories wrong and a complete outsider wins the validation of future history.

    If I can explain my friend’s thinking WITHOUT positing irrationality or bias or religiosity or dishonesty or stupidity on his part, and he can’t do the same for me, then my understanding is prima facie ‘better.’

    My friend is NOT discernibly irrational or biased or religious or dishonest or stupid.

    So any explanation for his beliefs that requires that he SUFFER from one of these defects automatically loses.

    Which means my explanation, which doesn’t automatically lose, is better.

    If ‘Better’ is the dual and ‘best’ is the plural, then by induction it’s trivially easy to show that unless someone else’s explanation is BETTER than mine, mine must be the BEST (or equal-best).

    >>I understand, to the point of saying “there but the grace of God go I,” why my friend is an alarmist. By contrast, he has never understood why I’m a non-alarmist. Does ANY alarmist understand why I’m a non-alarmist?
    > Why not ask him?

    I have.

    He agrees with my account of why he believes what he believes… whereas his account of MY thinking process, which I’ve asked him to tell me, is impossible to agree with, and he himself has the intellectual honesty to admit he doesn’t really know.

    > While you’re at it, why not double-check and ask yourself whether you truly know at the fundamental level, why you support your position and how you got there.

    CAGW denial? I didn’t “get there,” I was born there. The question for CAGW believers is what happened to them that persuaded them to convert from their congenital disbelief to belief. Nothing persuasive has happened to me, so how COULD I believe in CAGW?

    > in the absence of literacy innate skepticism of what is perceived as an oppressive culture (CAGW)

    Not disagreeing with your ontology, but I do notice that you make no mention of the other, more obvious source of innate skepticism:

    the idea of CAGW is (at least to many people) *inherently* unlikely.

    It strikes me, and I would imagine almost any sensible person, as the kind of “extraordinary claim” that “requires extraordinary evidence.”

    It’s the kind of claim for which people (surely) would have a high threshold of evidence.

    I know I do. I require good evidence for it. Yet not only have I never received good enough evidence, I’m yet to receive ANY evidence.

    > statistically ‘alarmists’ are less likely to understand their opposition than vice versa due to cultural bias.

    I think the fact that the airwaves are saturated with LIES about skeptics, churned out (for profit) by the Goreskeandowskian-industrial complex, may have something to do with that.

    > I’m failing to see why this issue of individuals occupies you so much, it has no utility.

    On the contrary, almost everyone I’ve talked to in this debate seems to have been an individual. I’m sure SOME of them were conjoined twins, but not enough to lose sleep over.

    YMMV but I think if we can get all the *individuals* on Earth to understand our point of view, it would go some way towards advancing our case. I presume that’s why politicians put so much energy into courting the individual vote. If you win (say) Florida, but lose the individuals, you’re unlikely to win America, are you?

    > simply because their distributions cover at the fringes a very wide scale.

    That’s the thing though: it’s all too easy to explain away the failure of a theory by saying “well of course it doesn’t necessarily apply to FRINGE or EDGE cases, it never claimed to.”

    But you’ve yet to tell me any principled, a priori, basis for considering (say) Freeman Dyson an edge case. The only reason you seem to describe such cases as fringe cases post facto, apparently, is that they defied your theory.

    It seems rather circular, Andy.

    > Is Catholicism invalid because Protestants appeared?

    Catholicism doesn’t *predict* that Protestants won’t appear, so how could their existence be remotely invalidating?

    Cultural cognition theories of climate belief, on the other hand, DO make predictions about what kind of people will and won’t appear, and when Freeman Dysons appear, that DOES pose a rather awkward problem which can only be ignored at the peril of the ignorer.

    > Does it matter who started it? Historically, yes, but this makes not one jot of difference as to why religions exist or how they work.

    The fact that Muhammad started the Muslim religion makes at least two, or possibly even three, jots of difference as to why Islam exists and how it works.

    The fact that Buddha started the Buddhist religion makes at least two, or possibly even three, jots of difference as to why Buddhism exists and how it works.

    The fact that Martin Luther started the Lutheran religion makes at least two, or possibly even three, jots of difference as to why Lutheranism exists and how it works.

    Et cetera.

    > So causation is not only covered, but predicts that there will be significant variation around trends, and that therefore you’d *expect* to see examples like Freeman Dyson and many more such. If these *didn’t* occur, you’d know there was something wrong with the theory.

    I don’t see how.

    Are you suggesting that if counterexamples don’t exist to Einstein’s General Relativity theory, you KNOW there’s something wrong with it?

    While you’re at it, why not go even further and say that if I could name a *million* Freeman Dysons, all those counterexamples to Kahanian cultural cognition theory would constitute a glorious empirical vindication thereof?

    > … in order to have a perfectly serviceable explanation of ‘why CAGW is’

    But I’d never try to explain ‘why CAGW is.’

    CAGW isn’t. It doesn’t exist. The G may be W, and GW may be A, but AGW isn’t C.

    >> Yeah but such skepticism is not interesting, because it can’t sustain an argument.
    > Of course it’s interesting, if you actually want to know how and why all the things in society actually happen.

    There would be no climate debate at all if the innates ran the world.

    There’s no such thing as innate belief in CAGW. Rajendra Pachauri was uncharacteristically honest when he said if not for the IPCC, nobody would care about climate change.

    The debate operates top-down, which is (just one reason) why I’m only really interested in the “top.”

    Of innate skepticism, you say

    > The cultural excesses of the CAGW movement will rouse this force in isolation,

    Agreed. But there’s ALSO the conceptual excesses of the CAGW hypothesis. These synergize to create the ideal conditions for instinctive widespread CAGW disbelief.

    To use a second-hand automotive metaphor:

    If the salesman wasn’t such a transparent con-artist, OR the car wasn’t such an expensive shitbucket, THEN more people might be buying it.

    > Point him to reasoned AGW believers, e.g. Pielke Jr, or indeed at (summary tables in) IPCC AR5 (not the SPR though – too much bias crept in). …

    (Thanks for this strategy. I’ll have to try it sometime.)

    >>Believing what you say entails that you’re NOT lying. It entails that you’re NOT enormously hypocritical, or remotely hypocritical.
    >Absolutely, but it implies you will *come across* to non-adherents as immensely hypocritical, even though it is not so.

    You lost me there. Surely it’s the other way round.

    Greta’s belief in CAGW enables her to exude a sincerity rarely seen in the alarmist “leadership,” which is why she comes across to me (a non-adherent) as being relatively FREE of hypocrisy.

    Al Gore’s LACK of belief in CAGW makes it impossible to conceal his psychopathic hypocrisy from non-adherents (like me) who pay attention.

    >>If they can’t say what they believe, then they can’t open their mouths without lying. Everything they say (assuming they can speak at all) will by definition be something they don’t believe.
    >You have indeed misunderstood. What I mean is, they cannot express that what they believe is due to a ‘belief system’, aka is ‘religious’ in nature, because they don’t know that this is the case.

    Well you must admit that’s not what you wrote. I understood your words perfectly well, so it’s unfortunate that you meant completely different words.

    > aka is ‘religious’ in nature, because they don’t know that this is the case.

    Yet YOU know.

    YOU know their beliefs are ‘religious’ in nature.

    I’m not sure *where* you learned that, but surely if you were to loan them the book or article containing that revelation, they could read it too and thereby come to share your knowledge?

    Is what you believe due to a ‘belief system,’ aka ‘religious’ in nature, Andy?

    If your answer is NO:

    what makes you think so? Is it because your climate skepticism is NOT a ‘strong culture’ while their climate alarmism is?

    In that case, can’t you get around the problem by telling them their belief is a ‘strong culture’?

    And that being a ‘strong culture,’ it inflicts certain cognitive and introspective disabilities on them?

    By explaining all this—without mentioning the Earth’s climate even in passing!—couldn’t you persuade them that they’re deluded? (Or would they then be psychologically compelled to deny strong-culture theory, as a defense mechanism?)

    If your answer is YES:

    how do you know THEIR answer wouldn’t also be “Yes” if I asked them?

    After all, you yourself would constitute proof of concept that humans CAN know the religiosity of their own minds, so it seems a bit arbitrary to assume you’re the ONLY person with this superpower.

    Or is it because your climate skepticism is NOT a ‘strong culture’ while their climate alarmism is?

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Richard,

    the *ultimate* comma would have been even more symmetrical, yes? 🙂

    For those who DIDN’T study Latin,

    antepenultimate = n – 2
    penultimate = n – 1
    ultimate = n

    Like

  35. Richard,

    I may have failed to succeed, but I did succeed in almost succeeding, as even you are forced to admit!

    > The almost-symmetric nature of your critique is therefore wondrous.

    I aimed for the stars and reached the moon. LOL

    Well, I can live with that. Somehow it’s enough. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Brad,
    Upon reflection, I think my sympathies for Nerlich have their origins in empathy. I have often found myself in a situation where I have tried to make a point with an individual only for third parties to take exception to something I had said whilst trying to do so. In trying to address their objections I have just made matters worse by inviting further third party commentary. The sheer volume of opposition quickly becomes difficult to address effectively and one suspects any attempt to do so will only make matters worse. The temptation is to claim that the opposition has become incoherent when the truth is one has simply recognised the futility of one’s position. I think I have been there and resorted to the Nerlich manoeuvre.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Brad,

    >If that’s the case, then YOU can’t say anything “from theory” about groups in the climate debate

    Yes, I can, exactly because I’m using the theory that applies to groups, which is why it is no use to advise you regarding what you sought about individuals. The only way to get traction on the latter, is via theories that actually apply to individuals (psycho analysis etc) yet which will tell you virtually nothing at all about what’s happening regarding major social events in the domain (CAGW, religion, etc), even if you amass millions of them, because a) that’s impossible and b) such personal level views also aren’t too meaningfully integratable. In the end, what we want to know about is a major social phenomenon, so we use the theory that is common to groups in the first place.

    >After all, has any scholar of the climate debate interacted with a well-powered sample of individuals on any and all ‘sides’ using expertise and long personal sessions using individual psycho-analysis based upon the principles of that domain?

    Extremely unlikely, my point being that it’s a completely pointless exercise. But in constantly attempting to focus on individuals, this is the logical outcome of where you would end up. Which is what I wanted you to see. Given you agree this hasn’t and couldn’t happen, do you now see?

    >So it seems rather bizarre to expect me to take seriously any statistical claims “from theory” (whatever that means) about entire demographics within the debate if, ex hypothesi, nobody knows anything about anybody IN those demographics.

    You don’t know what ‘theory’ is?? Or you never heard of theories that have claims based in statistical distributions?? What on Earth are you trying to say here? You don’t need to know about the intricacies of individual personalities to map major social behaviours. Unless you disbelieve the entire of social psychology, anthropology, cultural evolution and a bunch more. Why would you disbelieve all of the progress of 150 years of science?

    >Analogously, you’re asking me to believe claims about the average height of the trees in a forest, the median height, the standard deviation of the height and so forth, while at the same time insisting I have no right to point to a particular tree and comment on how tall it is since

    You have a right to do anything you want (that’s legal). It’s just that in some cases it can’t possibly tell you what you seem to think it can. This example is not analogous in the way you state it. For a start, you are trying to measure something that is not easily seeable, but requires probing. So lets say the health of an individual tree, which you have various tests to reasonably assess in all its characteristics. Now, after these tests you have approximately the health of one tree. The real analogy, i.e. what you are trying to tell me here, is that this is the most useful thing to know about if we want to know the health of the forest and how this actually works. But let’s say it’s a modest forest (in world terms) like the New Forest in England, which has 3 Trillion trees. Your test tells us nothing at all about how forest health works, how it varies across geography and time and subspecies and due to invasive species and whatever. To do that we have to study the forest as an entity, including its reactions en-masse to other species, from which we find for instance that some trees send out warning signals when subject to invasion, which preserves the health of the rest, as they react to this by temporarily making their leave bitter or attracting something that eats the invaders (some species support multiple behaviours). This is a group behaviour that cannot have been deduced from your measurement of a tree, and nor does the health of any single tree matter to the understanding of this group behaviour, nor even the fact that some trees won’t react well to the signals. [Due to polymorphism, in 3T trees there likely will be some examples, which we could never find by measurement but which someone much cleverer than me could calculate figure on]. Now trees are incredibly, incredibly simple compared to humans, the latter of which are soaked in group behaviours, which are eminently studyable. Clearly, you have to sample populations as the grist to this mill, but that behaviours are a distribution which at the extreme fringes will be very untypical, does not change the nature of the group behaviour or its applicability within the statistically defined majority boundaries for each. Nor can deep personality analysis be any kind of productive route to assessing these behaviours.

    >—if you’re right—neither I nor anybody else has ever put in the many, many hours of expert clinical interrogation necessary to form a sense of how tall that tree, or any other tree for that matter, really is.

    Absolutely! Sampling 1 million individual tree healths would take forever and still get only one 3 thousandth of the forest, and still when integrated not tell you much you need to know, like the group behaviour. Which is exactly why, for more so for complex cultural animals like ourselves, one needs to use the right science to figure out what’s going on, which is *not* the science of individual characters.

    >No, my seeking of advice was from you, Andy West.

    What is the point wanting my *unsupported* personal opinion about random people on blogs or those you have encountered in your life whom you are engaging regarding CAGW beliefs? If my opinion is not informed by theory, what on Earth use is it to you? Even if I knew these people, which I don’t, you’d have to amass masses of such personal opinions and attempt an essentially impossible integration task in order to distil anything from this approach, just like above for personal analysis. And the framing of your inquiry sure didn’t look to me as though this is what you wanted, you appeared to be seeking advice based upon my theoretical knowledge, not on my personal opinion of a bunch of people I have never interacted with.

    >I didn’t tell you *how* you had to go about answering.

    I probably made the mistake of assuming you wanted an answer that might actually be useful, rather than exchanging random opinions to pass the day 😉.

    >Then it has to follow (with all due respect, past and present) that your theoretical conclusions about skeptics, believers, environmentalists, Republicans or any group in the climate debate aren’t worth the electrons they’re written with.

    This doesn’t follow in the slightest. This is a massive leap of illogic. To generalise, you are stating that unless any social scientist can pronounce on the character of each and every individual in a domain of study (let’s say a religion or whatever), they can say nothing meaningful about the characteristics of that religion as a whole. This is patently nonsense, which also dismisses most of social science in one go, and maybe means too that I’ve misunderstood your position. Is it really your position, that you believe virtually all social science to be invalid? Why? Where is your evidence for such an extraordinary claim? If I knew no Hindus at all, not a single one, I could pick up a couple of books on the social characteristics and behaviours associated with that brand of faith, and be fairly well informed on same regarding the Hindu population of India. After such a primer, I could take that further, and reading (or deriving) studies of some particular subset of behaviours I’m interested in, I could see say the gradient of these over geography or the depth of belief or whatever. Because such studies, of which there have been countless thousands across the world for 150 years or so, *do* yield (increasingly) useful data about such things. And this is a perfectly and universally accepted scientific model. And such material doesn’t need any personal studies to be valid. So all this can occur without me knowing anyone personally involved, or ever having read a single personal psycho-analysis of any Hindus either. Science does not need knowledge of personalities to communicate its findings, and this is as true of the social behaviours of populations as it is say of the biological characteristics of populations. Which doesn’t mean you can’t engage in interesting personal psychology too, but this won’t tell you most of the things so easily known by the route above.

    >Or did I miss the part where you, or someone whose work you rely on, interacted with an adequately-powered sample of individuals in the debate on the basis of expertise and long personal sessions using individual psycho-analysis based upon the principles of that domain—which you haven’t, and I’m also presuming you’re not qualified to perform?

    You did not miss this. My entire point is that from me or you or anyone else, this approach is a) pretty much impossible, and b) an entirely an unproductive route. It seems maybe you have divined this now 😊. You have to use the science that studies the thing you’re actually interested in, which is group behaviour.

    >> Both my points stand. I.e. you cannot make pronouncements on individuals from group / cultural theories about sides
    >Yes you can. If you know the mode, mean, median, standard deviation and range of a distribution, then you CAN say something about the maximum. And the maximum refers, by definition, to a property of an individual.

    No. Because you have no idea whether any particular individual is *at* the maximum. Typical surface personal behaviours are far too complex to deduce where people sit regarding their much simpler driving motivations that show (even show very strongly) across the peer group (Catholicism, CAGW, whatever). While one may be tempted to make assessments because of what one might call ‘classic’ predicted behaviour for the group, and it’s not wrong to be informed by same, regarding the connection between external behaviours and internal motivation, you are gambling on statistics plus your own bias / infallibility in assessing the individual (especially if they’ve invoked your own emotions) in the first place, so this is a bad path to go down. To keep communication as productive as possible to, requires caution in this respect too. The fact that we can deduce powerful group behaviours does not make the people in those groups machines that are to be treated as such; they are us, essentially. This does not mean naiveity or lack of firmness in discussions either, but declaring individual character from cultural theory is wrong in principle, and will sometimes in practice go horribly wrong.

    >And to go back to the by-now-familiar Catch-22: if you don’t know anything about any individuals, how on earth did you arrive at statistics about the groups in the first place?

    You do know things about individuals *at the required level*, because all group studies are based on sampling of same. But the point is that they only sample for specific angles, they are not trying to build up any kind of deep personality profile. Nor is one needed for the purpose. Whereas when you are interacting with an individual on a blog, say, you cannot know where they sit in the distributions derived by above. While, per above, you might suspect something about where they sit, surface personal behaviours are extremely complex and likely, ones own behaviours and biases are engaged too, clouding judgement, so beyond using one’s knowledge of group behaviour in a general way to inform one’s approaches, it’s simply unsafe to assume you that know how each individual is motivated. The only way to know about an individual is indeed to obtain a deep personality profile (you may simply know them very well for 20 years, which is a good proxy). But per above you then know only about this person, and integrating mass personal profiles is unproductive, the surveys that target the group behaviours, are productive in this respect.

    >Sorry, how do you know my or anyone else’s understanding of the psychology of climate beliefs is immature, or that it’s a complex or “wicked” problem?

    I wasn’t referring to your understanding. Or indeed to climate psychology. But the kind of advanced science problems you postulated such as string theory (maybe not wicked, I don’t know, but certainly still complex and immature), and climate science, which is acknowledged by all as complex, some as immature, and some as a wicked problem, but indeed on the latter not so by many in the firmer heart of orthodoxy, as this would undermine the consensus on ‘certainty’. For either domain, anyone (i.e. not just you, or me) cannot possibly know which scientist from the domain has the ‘best’ theory, which you said you think is the proxy for the best scientific understanding. It is not. In such fields per previous explanation, ‘best’ is entirely subjective and a model for integrating disparate theory and differing types and depths of uncertainty, is the only way to assess the state of the field.

    > Well this is an extremely poor means of understanding our position on immature knowledge areas to start with.

    Please convince me that my understanding of my old, close, good friend’s climate psychology, or of the psychology of anyone else I habitually presume to pronounce upon, is immature.

    Per above, you’ve taken this completely wrongly. Looking back, my text seems very clear and is placed exactly after your example. Example science domains such as string-theory or climate-science are immature domains.

    I skip a whole bunch of lines here, you’re running on a complete misunderstanding that’s absolutely nothing to do with what I was saying at all, and is to do with the science domain example(s) you raised yourself. This has nothing whatsoever to do with your friend or climate psychology or anything you seem to be talking about. I don’t know how on Earth you vectored onto this from a discussion of assessment of the domains of string-theory and climate-science per Judith Curry approach.

    >He agrees with my account of why he believes what he believes… whereas his account of MY thinking process, which I’ve asked him to tell me, is impossible to agree with, and he himself has the intellectual honesty to admit he doesn’t really know.

    Well I don’t know the summary of what either of these accounts are, but it sounds like you’ve gone as far as you can. If you have him facing a logical dilemma, this may eventually do its work. It rather suggests though that his position has some emotional commitment; if this is to the sanctity of science rather than powed directly to CAGW as it were, them pointing out that *mainstream* science (per AR5) does *not* support certain imminent catastrophe, that may be helpful.

    >I didn’t “get there,” I was born there.

    Never trust any beliefs you were apparently born with, rationality is learned long after birth 😉.

    >The question for CAGW believers is what happened to them that persuaded them to convert from their congenital disbelief to belief. Nothing persuasive has happened to me, so how COULD I believe in CAGW?

    Cannot say anything about your friend, because he’s an *individual* 😊. But, for (climate illiterate) public generally, what happens to persuade them for or against, is essentially emotive. Narratives invoke deep existential fears / anxieties based on a bunch of inter-related climate / environmental issues (and hopes / joys too, e.g. of salvation via net-zero heaven). People get emotively hooked on this, or emotively reject it, based on existing long-established values (which also happens to mean very strong national relationships between catastrophic climate culture and religiosity – see my current series at Climate Etc). The point being that for the vast majority of folks, no *rational* persuading one way or the other occurred, and the success or otherwise of emotive persuasion depended on their prior values.

    >the idea of CAGW is (at least to many people) *inherently* unlikely.

    But they don’t assess it rationally, and indeed not only do publics typically have essentially no climate literacy to inform rationality (which has to have some decent level of knowledge in order to function), the overwhelming authority narrative the world over (which is false), indicates the doom has the absolute backing of ‘all the scientists’. People have no clue that this claim is false, so the authority of science is against them. Yet still a vast numbers of the global public are most definitely not at all sold on the claim.

    >It strikes me, and I would imagine almost any sensible person, as the kind of “extraordinary claim” that “requires extraordinary evidence.”

    The vast majority of global publics have no clue about the scientific process or levels of evidence. You do of course, as do many reading domain related blogs, but these are a vanishing % of population…

    >I think the fact that the airwaves are saturated with LIES about skeptics, churned out (for profit) by the Goreskeandowskian-industrial complex, may have something to do with that.

    Of course. This is classic group behaviour, demonisation of the opposition – but most of those lies, they believe.

    > I’m failing to see why this issue of individuals occupies you so much, it has no utility.
    >>On the contrary, almost everyone I’ve talked to in this debate seems to have been an individual. I’m sure SOME of them were conjoined twins, but not enough to lose sleep over.

    Who you’ve talked to in the debate is not a factor in the operation of the culture that drives it.

    >YMMV but I think if we can get all the *individuals* on Earth to understand our point of view, it would go some way towards advancing our case. I presume that’s why politicians put so much energy into courting the individual vote. If you win (say) Florida, but lose the individuals, you’re unlikely to win America, are you?

    I agree, which is why I suggested harnessing innate skepticism for mass political result, BUT… attempting to get publics climate-literate to do this via rational skepticism rather than innate skepticism, is a hugely slow and difficult process that in the current cultural conflict is subject to the massive ongoing ‘pollution of the science communication environment’, as Kahan puts it, that catastrophism has been doing for decades. Whereas innate skepticism is a raw force already motivating hundreds of millions, and that force will grow as net zero bites. I’m not suggesting for a moment lying or manipulation to direct this force, but for sure figuring out how the messages of rational skepticism may be expressed to align to said force. For sure people are going to be mad about losing their petrol car and gas heating and meat and much else, so an aligned message to push maybe is what little impact on word temp these losses would incur in the UK say (where I live), or even the US. People care about their lives, not climate change science; they are willing to sacrifice for the common good if the need is dire, ad the current crisis shows, but they will act extremely robustly indeed if they perceive the sacrifices would be in vain even if *mainstream* science is true.

    >That’s the thing though: it’s all too easy to explain away the failure of a theory by saying “well of course it doesn’t necessarily apply to FRINGE or EDGE cases, it never claimed to.”

    Oh, goodness me. It is not a failure of a theory to see a fringe it predicted would be there. It is a failure of the theory if the BULK it predicted WASN’T there. So demonstrate the latter.

    >But you’ve yet to tell me any principled, a priori, basis for considering (say) Freeman Dyson an edge case. The only reason you seem to describe such cases as fringe cases post facto, apparently, is that they defied your theory.
    It seems rather circular, Andy.

    It is you that is being circular. Due to polymorphism and randonimity, the genetic variance in populations can be very wide indeed. Picking a particular fringe case, it may not be possible to say how the *exact* genetics of the case arose; it’s path through the species can’t always be backtracked unless you had samples of all of its ancestors for very many generations and went down to every gene on every one. And such a massive exercise serves no purpose. Wide variance is known to exist. Notwithstanding which, due to the general known constraints on the species from its niche and whatever other general rules including the operation of biology, there is a predicted distribution for the species that matches its phenotypic behaviour and does very much favour the chief characteristics of said species. The untypical point sample no way no how invalidates the prediction for the species, and indeed that there will be some such is itself a prediction. Likewise, the existence of Freeman Dyson no way no how invalidates a cultural theory of CAGW social behaviours, or a particular lapsed Catholic invalidates Catholicism, or a single individual brought up in generations of traditional Jews suddenly becoming a Muslim, invalidates any of the group behaviours of Jews or Muslims.

    You are nonsensically saying that for any statistical distribution of a population, a fringe point sample must perforce invalidate the very statistics that give the distribution. When I point out this is nonsense, which I’m sure *generically* you wouldn’t disagree with, you say that because we may not be able to determine the history / path of the point sample, this must mean we can’t understand the generic process (in the above case, evolution) that produced the whole distribution. So I say, lack of understanding about the path of the point sample is nothing to do with understanding the generic process (of evolution in this case); it’s to do only with the sheer complexity of the path. So you say if we can’t understand the complexity of that exact single-point path, we can’t understand evolution, and hence circle back and say that therefore single point invalidates the prediction of the whole distribution. You have constructed a circular fortress that belies logic, per above a fringe sample does not invalidate the distribution, this is a generic rule in science; if the BULK that WAS predicted didn’t occur, then THIS would indeed invalidate the prediction.

    >The fact that Martin Luther started the Lutheran religion makes at least two, or possibly even three, jots of difference as to why Lutheranism exists and how it works.

    As noted, it’s historically important. But it doesn’t change the bio-cultural rules about how religions work, one jot.

    >> So causation is not only covered, but predicts that there will be significant variation around trends, and that therefore you’d *expect* to see examples like Freeman Dyson and many more such. If these *didn’t* occur, you’d know there was something wrong with the theory.
    >I don’t see how.

    As I’ve already used it above, a roughly analogous situation is evolution in a species. A certain amount of variation is required for this to happen, which sexual combination helps maintain along with random process. You’d expect to see this variation in a healthy species, and if it’s just been through an evolutionary bottleneck and has too little variance it will be vulnerable (e.g. to disease), and less able to adapt for a while. And not only is there random variation, there is ‘maintained’ variation, i.e. that which the species maintains across its population because at the expense of individuals, this better protects the species from adverse factors, e.g. again disease.

    >Are you suggesting that if counterexamples don’t exist to Einstein’s General Relativity theory, you KNOW there’s something wrong with it?

    How on Earth do you come up with such wildly incorrect comparisons? I’m boggled. No, of course not. Is the equation of general relatively an example of the main characteristics of a complex population, the middle parts of its distribution? No, it is not. What the hell has this got to do with the price of fish??

    >While you’re at it, why not go even further and say that if I could name a *million* Freeman Dysons, all those counterexamples to Kahanian cultural cognition theory would constitute a glorious empirical vindication thereof?

    How many you could name, at each point in the distribution for a particular main characteristic, is in theory calculable, albeit very many more minor characteristics wouldn’t even be measured. If the Freeman Dysons, say, were at a similar level as the supposed ‘typical’, this would invalidate the theory, I guess you’d then be looking for some bi-modal thing. If you observed a million Freeman Dysons (in respect of climate support at least) in the US, where the theory said there should only be about say 350,000 (1 thousandth), there’s something wrong with the theory (or at minimum the sampling from which it was derived).

    >But I’d never try to explain ‘why CAGW is.’

    But you do. Per previous, you had a whole theory of lies and evil, which you explicitly said was a theory for the phenomenon.

    >CAGW isn’t. It doesn’t exist. The G may be W, and GW may be A, but AGW isn’t C.

    The theory is not one of physical science, but of the enormous social movement / resources / authority / etc associated with CAGW narratives.

    >There would be no climate debate at all if the innates ran the world.

    Agreed. Because the cultural movement would have been crushed by the innate skeptic reation to it.

    >There’s no such thing as innate belief in CAGW. Rajendra Pachauri was uncharacteristically honest when he said if not for the IPCC, nobody would care about climate change.

    The is mass cultural belief in CAGW (and innate skepticism against it). The public belief does not come from rationality, the overwhelming narratives out there are not rational and not true. The narratives gain adherents through emotive commitment, via apocalypse and salvation as ‘backed by science’ too. This is exactly how religions prosper too.

    >The debate operates top-down, which is (just one reason) why I’m only really interested in the “top.”

    It operates at all levels simultaneously.

    >> The cultural excesses of the CAGW movement will rouse this force in isolation,
    Agreed. But there’s ALSO the conceptual excesses of the CAGW hypothesis. These synergize to create the ideal conditions for instinctive widespread CAGW disbelief.

    Yes, instinctive reaction that they’re being sold a dud is part of innate skepticism. For a member of the public buying the car who doesn’t know about cars (and it looks shiny), which is the case for climate knowledge (and shininess of science / authority), their suspicion derives from the manner of the sales-guy not the state of the car. Likewise for the public, but it is the *group* manner that triggers the resistance; we have detection of aggressive group cultural takeover (e.g. consensus across the selling group is too hard, too policed, proselytization is too strong, etc), BUT… the trigger itself is cultural value dependent.

    >You lost me there. Surely it’s the other way round.

    Then I lost you too; we’ll have to start again on that one.

    >Greta’s belief in CAGW enables her to exude a sincerity rarely seen in the alarmist “leadership,” which is why she comes across to me (a non-adherent) as being relatively FREE of hypocrisy.

    Ah… got you. Yes, I think she does exude sincerity, as indeed she truly believes what she is saying, but the vast majority of supporters do, they just don’t happen to have the added innocence and social-protection status of a young girl. But nevertheless, many opposed to CAGW call her out for lying or at least manipulation by parents etc (whereas I suspect the parents fully believe too), and more generally across adherents, even leadership types, they are attacked for hypocrisy as though they can’t truly believe what they are saying. But the vast majority will indeed believe what they are saying.

    >Al Gore’s LACK of belief in CAGW makes it impossible to conceal his psychopathic hypocrisy from non-adherents (like me) who pay attention.

    We’ve been through him before. And indeed once can’t say anything about an individual from a cultural theory. I have no idea whether he’s lying or not, and indeed as you pointed out everything he says is handed to him anyhow. I suspect he strongly believes the core stuff even if he ‘compromises’ on the edges. But I don’t know. And for sure given the immense size of the enterprise, it’d be infeasible that there are a significant number of liars, whether due to noble cause or indeed straight out non-believing free-loaders.

    >YOU know their beliefs are ‘religious’ in nature.

    Yes, but only as a group, I don’t know how any particular individual is motivated.

    >I’m not sure *where* you learned that, but surely if you were to loan them the book or article containing that revelation, they could read it too and thereby come to share your knowledge?

    Of course they wouldn’t, even if I could concentrate the scattered info into a single work, as discussed per the Ben and Brad models, the info would never be digested, would probably never even be picked up once the smear and undermining process had got under way. You constantly seem to assume that people in these modes are perfectly ameanable to objective logic and reason, when surely every experience you have in the domain, including with your friend, must surely scream at you that this is simply not so. If we could simply hand over a couple of relevant books to the culturally convinced, for instance ‘By the way religions are cultural fairy tales that are intended to support in-group coordination and reinforcement, here is some evidence, the end’, then wow, the global end of religion! But 150 years after Darwin, a big majority of people are still formal believers, and half the rest are still spiritual in some manner, just not so aligned to the main formal faiths.

    >Is what you believe due to a ‘belief system,’ aka ‘religious’ in nature, Andy?
    If your answer is NO:
    what makes you think so? Is it because your climate skepticism is NOT a ‘strong culture’ while their climate alarmism is?

    I didn’t come to my position from any climate skepticism, and my theories make no statement about what’s happening in the physical climate. Nor do I endorse or oppose any of the various climate science positions (orthodox, skeptical, lukewarmer, scientific catastrophist). Plus, with the exception of a useful verification that cultural catastrophist narratives contradict mainstream (and skeptical and lukewarmer) science, I make no statements on any of those camps’ positions either. In that sense I am neither a skeptic or an alarmist, I don’t have any position on climate. I have a position that via well-known (and measurable, e.g. see my current series at Climate Etc) characteristics of culture, there is a culture of catastrophe in the public domain, and it’s chief narrative must be false because to achieve purpose the chief narratives of all strong cultures are false, and historically this is also always the case.

    >In that case, can’t you get around the problem by telling them their belief is a ‘strong culture’?

    As noted above, multiple times, and as you’ve found from your friend, not only are people not accessible to reason on such issues, they will be even less accessible to being told that what they think is their rationality stems from an emotive belief. But there’s also a caveat, that touches again on the individual versus group; the folks are blogs are likely more atypical (have more climate literacy) and are way too small to ever make it into any public samples. I think its hard to believe that such a massive and potent public culture doesn’t influence / pressure the blogs, but it is unsafe per above to assume blog persons are necessarily motivated in the same manner as the public.

    >And that being a ‘strong culture,’ it inflicts certain cognitive and introspective disabilities on them?

    No. There are no ‘diabilities’, this is *normal* behaviour for all of us. They will be subject to certain domain related powerful biases (which out of domain may not occur at all, depending in their commitment or not to said other domains and how or if they are alliance / opposition related).

    >By explaining all this—without mentioning the Earth’s climate even in passing!—couldn’t you persuade them that they’re deluded? (Or would they then be psychologically compelled to deny strong-culture theory, as a defense mechanism?)
    If your answer is YES:

    My answer is no. And even avoiding the incorrect word of ‘delusion’, they would indeed defend against the very suggestion.

    >how do you know THEIR answer wouldn’t also be “Yes” if I asked them?
    After all, you yourself would constitute proof of concept that humans CAN know the religiosity of their own minds, so it seems a bit arbitrary to assume you’re the ONLY person with this superpower.

    Bearing in mind there are many ‘secular religions’, so to speak, of weaker or stronger degrees, Humans can only know the ‘religiosity’ of their own minds regarding the things they are not ‘religious’ about. So if you can find something I’m religious about (so to satisfy criteria it must be a significant largish *group* thing, because the enforcement etc comes from group activities), then I may well deny that I’m religious about it even if this is objectively true. And as individuals are the least objective people to analyse themselves, then I won’t know what the candidate is. I recall when I was younger, being very stirred by certain music that (from very young) I’d heard always at ‘last night of the proms’ – very nationalistic, union jacks waving etc. Brittania rules the waves and Jerusalem and such. Well, I’ve never caught myself doing anything overtly nationalistic and generally I’m softish on immigration etc – but I’ve wondered in adulthood whether there’s a biased patch from such feelings…

    >Or is it because your climate skepticism is NOT a ‘strong culture’ while their climate alarmism is?

    I’m not a climate skeptic.

    Like

  38. Jeez, Andy, edit yourself.

    I know you’ve got a drum to bang, but does every thread have to become the full length exposition?

    Like

  39. BEN
    Have you ever read Plato’s dialogues? The punchline is not the point.

    I had just the same thought, and have asked A & B permission to snip their Atropotaic threads into comfortable lengths and weave them into a nice doily. There’s a discussion in there that would be a lesson to certain academics.

    My whole life on the web, I’ve just realised, is a penance for something I didn’t do fifty years ago. I had the luck to go to one of the best philosophy departments in the world, where I could have long discussions one to one with highly intelligent people, and I blew it.

    A tradition lost in modern academia survives here and there, and as a committed conservationist I’d like to do my bit for a species in danger.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. I think the debate is interesting. I hope it’s gonna continue. It has relevance to whether climate scepticism has a future or not. Do you need to know the individual? In terms of swaying opinions, it is a question of understanding and “converting” an individual with rationalism, and doing the same on further individuals, or nudging a lot of people a little way with psychological tricks. Both approaches have merit. Sometimes you only have to reach one person because of *their* influence. Why did Olaf I convert to Christianity? Because a charlatan overheard a plot on his life, and sold it to him as a prophecy. The rest (of the end of Thor & co in Norway) is history.

    At the moment, sceptics are in a minority in numbers, influence, resources, everything perhaps except their per capita quota of grey hairs, pale faces, Y chromosomes and facts, so finding out how to get through to people is kinda important, whether that be rationally or otherwise.

    I thought there was a bit of piling on at Nottingham U so I didn’t comment. I would have referred to the use of the D word in the opening post, as well as pointing out that the Earth and Sun orbit a common centre of mass (Brad got there first on that one). Later I thought it would have been unwise to mention that mistake, because who loves a pedant? I wonder what Jennifer is saying to friends and colleagues about the wolf pack that turned up on her door (more of a dog pack mebbe, with a dolly mixture of Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, pugs and St Bernards). Regarding the D word, like gingers, only a D can call another D D. Usually if someone uses the term I know I can safely ignore them.

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  41. I feel this from John bears repeating:

    The temptation is to claim that the opposition has become incoherent when the truth is one has simply recognised the futility of one’s position.

    I hereby apologise for my third-party quip (for this was really between John and Brad) after John’s sublime ‘Nerlich manoeuvre’ in the next sentence.

    As for Brad and Andy I’m firmly in the individuals matter camp. Three jots – if not three cheers – for Mohammed and the rest. But that response from Brad was an exception. I seldom read any comment that long. I do empathise with Ben’s frustration on what is nominally his thread.

    Back though to the futility of our position – something we really do share with the opposition. That I took as very helpful commentary and explication for my Fact 13 thread. I felt the need to comfort myself like a 13-week embryo because what I’d written, which I believed to be true, was also so bleak. What chance is there of that $1 billion audit? Yet that seems to me the only way to a rational, non-totalitarian conclusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. JiT,

    > I think the debate is interesting. I hope it’s gonna continue. It has relevance to whether climate scepticism has a future or not.

    The future of CAGW skepticism, if that’s what we’re talking about, is guaranteed as long as Teh Science doesn’t come true any time this millennium, which it won’t.

    The aim of active, loud, proud skepticism—as a hobby, practice, activity or calling—is to expedite the inevitable. The CAGW ideology shouldn’t have survived this long, and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have if we’d had a thousand more Geoffs, Bens, Richards, Mikes, Jaimes or youse.

    > In terms of swaying opinions, it is a question of understanding and “converting” an individual with rationalism, and doing the same on further individuals,

    Yes, I think that’s the job ahead of us—or 80% of it. Understanding their position is key. And you can’t “convert” anyone if your “understanding” is predicated on their being irrational, because any approach from that premise will necessarily be insulting.

    Contrary to the cliché,

    – You CAN (quite easily) reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.

    – You CAN (almost as easily) reason them out of a position they DID reason themselves into.

    – But you CAN’T reason them out of a position they don’t actually hold.

    The 3rd fact (or truism) explains why:

    – believalists will never succeed in converting us from climate-change denial, science denial or climate denial. That we hold those positions is a lie—a lie told by them.

    – we will never succeed in converting 50% or so of believalists from CAGWism. That they hold that position is a lie—a lie told by them.

    > or nudging a lot of people a little way with psychological tricks. Both approaches have merit.

    Resorting to such tricks makes me uncomfortable, ethically. And I’m yet to be convinced it’s necessary. So I question its merit.

    If you ask me, understanding the irrationality of many (but not all) people’s climate beliefs is useful, but only in so far as it empowers us to bypass it. Disarm the irrational, but don’t use it at a weapon.

    Here’s a ubiquitous case in point:

    CAGW “skeptic” debates climate change with believer. Skeptic ends his argument with, “only a liberal would be stupid enough to fall for CAGW.” Believer is indeed a liberal (no shit, Sherlock), but is also human, all too human, and understandably—if not rationally—discounts all arguments leading up to that Parthian insult.

    Most of us have the IQ to steer clear of such blunders. In doing so we might, strictly speaking, be guilty of acknowledging the irrationality of the believer. But we’re not pandering to that irrationality—if anything, we’re doing the opposite.

    > At the moment, sceptics are in a minority in numbers,

    Really? If their behavior is any guide, the silent majority of human beings are clearly not losing any more sleep over global warming than you or I.

    Among the elite, the state of play is admittedly closer to the reverse: there is a much higher concentration of CAGW belief there… At least if their public discourse is any guide. (Their mean behaviour doesn’t suggest much more concernedness than that of the average public—it’s just a lot, well, meaner.)

    > the Earth and Sun orbit a common centre of mass (Brad got there first on that one)

    I may have said it first, but you said it better.

    > Later I thought it would have been unwise to mention that mistake, because who loves a pedant?

    Who loves a pedant? Anyone who loves modern electronics, medicine, or the proceeds of just about every other (non-climate) science owes pedants an incalculable debt. If they’re ungrateful, it’s probably only because they’ve never stopped to think about the mind-boggling pedantry that went into making their lives so comfortable.

    But my orbital objection was no mere nit-pick. Brigitte or Jennifer’s mistake (I’m not pedantic enough to care who actually made it) was symptomatic of something: the lazy, intellectually incurious, superficial Brightism of people who see themselves as guardians of the obvious, but instead come across as oblivious, at least to those of us who’ve thought a bit more about it.

    It would be no big deal if the average non-elite made that mistake—or “was admittedly oversimplifying a bit” or “didn’t put it as well as I perhaps should have” or whatever the apology was.

    (I’m not at all sure she would or could have expressed herself better even if she’d had an hour to do so and no word limits. It’s just as likely she’d never thought about the Earth’s influence on the Sun in her life. Most people haven’t.)

    But Jennigitte gave it as an example of a truth so incontrovertible, the media ought to ignore and suppress alternative views to avoid any risk of “false balance” between Truth and Falsehood.

    If people like Brennifer ran the world, I wouldn’t have been ALLOWED to correct her mistake.

    So—pedantic or not—I thought I’d better point out her mistake now, while I still can.

    > Regarding the D word, like gingers, only a D can call another D D. Usually if someone uses the term I know I can safely ignore them.

    I’m perfectly happy being accused of denying the things I deny. Not that I’ve ever met a believalist who’s capable (psychologically or intellectually) of specifying what it is that I’m a denier of.

    By the way, the phrase “climate change skeptic” is just as insulting, to the (lesser) extent that it is meant to be analysed as “skeptic of climate change.” Because we not only don’t DENY that the climate changes, we don’t even DOUBT it changes.

    “Climate skeptic” is much less problematic in that I don’t really think anyone who uses or hears it thinks it denotes a “skeptic of the climate.” I think even our opponents are satisfied, by now, that we all KNOW there’s such a thing as a climate. And as long as the phrase merely means “skeptic of [certain widespread claims about] the climate,” it’s fine. It’s still a bit vague, but not libellous.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. @ Brad, the fat middle isn’t a sceptic of anything, it just hangs there uselessly. It has an absence of opinion on the matter, so I don’t see how you can co-opt it on the sceptic side. It is acquiescing with the path our governments are taking, rather than opposing it, so it is of more use to alarmism than scepticism.

    Perhaps I should not have said psychological tricks, but as in the Fact 13 thread, there are impinging matters that can easily sway opinions on what should be done without changing anyone’s views about the nature of the Universe. A poor example: the UK is developing a space laser to defend its folk against inconvenient interplanetary rocks. Most people shrug at this, as they do measures against climate catastrophe. Then they discover that the space laser is already costing them £1000 a year each. Some troublemaker points out that the space laser defends the whole planet, not just the UK, so why isn’t some other idiot throwing in a quid or two? Now support in the UK for the space laser might drop, even though no-one’s changed their opinion about how likely an inconveniently intruding space rock falling to Earth might be.

    I think scepticism is at risk, because you can wipe out an idea even if it’s true.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. JiT,

    The fat middle rank climate change as the least of their concerns, which means they disbelieve in climate catastrophism, meaning they are climate skeptics, albeit for mainly instinctive, intuitive reasons.

    When the fat middle goes along with climate policies it’s not because it agrees with them, but because it’s not worth fighting them if they don’t hurt much and they seem to make other people happy.

    But said middle is more likely to *start* fighting the more those policies start costing personally. So it’s not “hanging there uselessly”—not entirely, anyway. Its existence, and its voting power, places an upper limit on how profligately the elite can piss public money away on climate change and still get re-elected.

    Your space-laser analogy is extremely, well, analogous to all this.

    “Now support in the UK for the space laser might drop, even though no-one’s changed their opinion about how likely an inconveniently intruding space rock falling to Earth might be.”

    The key bit is that no-one adjusts their probabilities. Their ideas don’t change.

    So I don’t see how this can follow:

    “I think scepticism is at risk, because you can wipe out an idea even if it’s true.”

    Rather I’d say people will stop EXPRESSING a belief or value, even if it’s true, when there’s no need to express it. For most people, their paychecks wouldn’t change ALL that much if the climate movement was consigned to the grave. But once the political landscape starts deviating too far from their beliefs and values, then they speak up (at the ballot box and elsewhere).

    If climate policy isn’t hitting ordinary people overly hard in the proverbial pelvic pocket, they’ll keep their CAGW skepticism to themselves. The dragon goes to sleep.

    But the pollsters know it’s there, so the politicians know it’s there, so they’re careful not to wake it up (or, as in my country, they repeatedly wake it up and repeatedly lose “unloseable” elections because they’re ineducable dimwits).

    CAGWism isn’t costing ordinary Australians much, economically, yet. So they don’t bother disputing it openly, yet.

    But hang on, I’m an ordinary Australian, right? The government wastes my money in all sorts of other ways and I don’t get nearly as exercised about that, do I?

    So why am I special? And why is CAGWism special?

    Why do I bother fighting?

    Anyone?

    Like

  45. JIT —the fat middle isn’t a sceptic of anything, it just hangs there uselessly. It has an absence of opinion on the matter, so I don’t see how you can co-opt it on the sceptic side.

    & — I think scepticism is at risk, because you can wipe out an idea even if it’s true.

    Both good points. I was about to reply to John and some other points re: futility.

    Of course debate across B/D lines is futile. You could win BN and even KR over, and it would be of no consequence whatsoever. 2 down, several billion to go.

    But so is the position from which they argue futile. The whole thing was set in motion without their help. This culminates (to take just one of many end points, only to illustrate it) in the UK Parliament last year deciding the Net Zero 2050 target. It went without debate in Parliament. And it went through on the basis of an entirely uncosted policy recommendation from an unscientific, undemocratic, technocratic panel.

    Wind the clock back a bit, and I think we can easily see that the Consensus was more important than what it contained. It mattered, whether you believed it or not. It mattered so much, nobody wanted to say what it was, and nobody wanted to *actually* measure it. But despite that, policies, no where, pay much attention to it.

    What will be decisive will not be people’s attachment to the claims in the debate. It will be people asking what good the multiples of £1000 are doing better outside their pockets than in them, to spend on their own choosing. Climate politics will produce its own resistance when it is actually *felt*, and the direction of this force is identifiable. And Net Zero is a *radical* policy agenda. It will be felt hard.

    (I’m not exaggerating — on the say so of the French Climate Assembly, hypermarkets are to be banned, amongst other things. The green agenda is for the complete reorganisation of culture, not just adjustments to your boiler and car.)

    Given than the current crisis is amplifying calls to advance that agenda, it may be sooner than we think, because economic recovery from what may yet turn out to be a bigger economic crisis than anything seen in the early-mid C20th is going to be impossible on green terms. Yet that is the only argument in currency outside of the US and more or less, BRICS. Also, it’s notable than institutional science and global agencies have disgraced themselves, and the precautionary principle has had its first *visible* major field test.

    But, conversely, many people were cowed into not thinking. The expression of unauthorised opinion during the crisis (much of it daft, but that’s besides the point) has been made illegal in authoritarian regimes. The entire debacle has been an orgy of impulsive authoritarianism. So it may well be a longer slog, lasting for decades. It’s quite possible, likely even, that climate scepticism will be outlawed. I would not have said so before the spectacle of almost the entire global political “community” prostrating itself at before the angry truant. That’s an anomaly with zero healthy historical resonances. And we know that many quarters — mostly those with tenure there — have been demanding it. And we know science has nothing to do with it, though that’s what the impulse hides behind.

    But climate scepticism will be present at the autopsy. It will survey the wreckage.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Ben,

    the sheer vacuity of the consensus makes it a blank cheque, doesn’t it? Once you sign it, you’re giving Barack Obama permission to tell his millions of twitter followers that you agree climate change is Real, it’s Here, it’s Now, and it’s Bad, and you have no expectation of getting a correction, since John Cook—the only person who could krush the leader of the free world for misrepresenting his “science”—doesn’t krush THAT kind of misrepresentation.

    Like

  47. Brad —But the pollsters know it’s there, so the politicians know it’s there, so they’re careful not to wake it up (or, as in my country, they repeatedly wake it up and repeatedly lose “unloseable” elections because they’re ineducable dimwits).

    It would be good to have a proper comparison of UK vs Australia. I see plenty of over-my-dead-body claims about the looming outlawing of gas boilers and ICEs here. To which I say: what are you going to do about it? Quite simply, the green blob’s resources are directed at any amenable (to £/$) political expression of scepticism in the public sphere. Meanwhile the gas & petrol will be switched off. They’re not going to remove the car or the boiler, just the fuel.

    I suggest the to-ing and fro-ing between the dominant parties has not dented the effort to produce a consensus between them, behind the scenes, to deny the voter a meaningful choice, and ultimately to deny him any force at all. It will take new political movements to overturn it, which will face deep, hostile, entrenched resistance.

    But hang on, I’m an ordinary Australian, right? The government wastes my money in all sorts of other ways and I don’t get nearly as exercised about that, do I? So why am I special? And why is CAGWism special?

    There’s no limit to their ambition. They are revolutionaries. There is no aspect of culture that they cannot claim the consensus gives them permission to intervene in, and to re-design or simply abolish.

    Like

  48. Ben,

    you raise an important issue my much simpler comment abstracted away: that ordinary people aren’t just saving time and energy by acquiescing to catastrophism-based policies, they’re also sparing themselves the moral opprobrium which the climate movement has effectively threatened them with if they speak out.

    That fear acts to raise the threshold for protest. Thank god for the inviolate secrecy of the voting booth—for many people, the one place where climate skepticism CAN dare speak its name.

    Like

  49. Ben

    > There’s no limit to their ambition.

    Warm.

    > They are revolutionaries.

    Less warm.

    > There is no aspect of culture that they cannot claim the consensus gives them permission to intervene in, and to re-design or simply abolish.

    Warmer than at any time in the past 2000 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Brad,

    > Thank god for the inviolate secrecy of the voting booth—for many people, the one place where climate skepticism CAN dare speak its name.

    You really need to read Ben’s comment, Brad. What he’s trying to tell you is that if the whole political spectrum is captured by the capnophobic revolution, then the best a skeptic will ever get at the ballot box will be a choice between evils of various greatnesses. On your own continent the leader of the [conservative] Liberal Party, Turnbull or whatever his name was, was every bit as climate-gullibilist as that rucker Fudd, who was [liberal] Labor.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. It’s not hard to detect…

    Billions of people around the world could experience ‘nearly unlivable conditions’ by 2070 if humans do not tackle climate change, a new study warns
    * A study used a model where carbon emissions rise to extreme levels
    * It found that if emissions are not cut temperatures could rise by 59 degrees
    * This would create nearly unlivable conditions for the poorest areas on Earth
    * These areas would suffer because they lack cooling technology for their people
    * Basically, 20 percent of the globe would feel like the Sahara Desert

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8286093/Billions-projected-suffer-nearly-unlivable-heat-2070.html

    Who would vote against that. Until they discovered that being poor is worse than being hot. And being poor and hot is the worst of all.

    Actually, I think much of the future of the West lies in ordinary Australians’ capacity to point out the utter ridiculousness of it all.

    Like

  52. The striking thing is, the climate movement doesn’t even confine its fictions to the future tense. It used to be standard operating doctrine that 300,000 people were dying of climate change per annum AS WE SPEAK. They’ve since revised that down to zero, silently and without explanation or apology, but not because anyone called bullshit on it. Compare that to Himalayagate—a lie that got krushed despite being set 26 years into the future. I bet someone, somewhere has issued a strategy paper saying “make all predictions either more or less than 26 years; always double-check your public comments for any claims about events in 26 years’ time and scratch them out; 26 years is a magic number that somehow turns on the public’s bullshit detectors; for further tips about avoiding 26-year forecasts, download the Guide to Not Saying Anything About What’s Gonna Happen in 26 Years [PDF].”

    Like

  53. “You really need to read Ben’s comment, Brad. What he’s trying to tell you is that if the whole political spectrum is captured by the capnophobic revolution, then the best a skeptic will ever get at the ballot box will be a choice between evils of various greatnesses. On your own continent the leader of the [conservative] Liberal Party, Turnbull or whatever his name was, was every bit as climate-gullibilist as that rucker Fudd, who was [liberal] Labor.”

    Absolutely. And the only place with unambiguous major political support against catastrophism and its policies, is the US. Which does not come from rational skepticism. Per above in Oz the polarization boundary runs through the right itself, meaning much more ambivalent public attitudes overall, while the UK has much less political opposition still to dramatic climate policies. Likely, resistance will indeed come from fears of having petrol cars / gas heating / meat / freedoms whatever else taken away, along with the instinct (it can’t be knowledge, as publics don’t know that imminent doom isn’t what even mainstream science says) that this is not after all about saving the planet, but more akin to the past fights against ideological takeovers of various kinds. But those realizations may be slow while net zero is projected by authority as a clean green idyllic dream. And aided by rational skepticism or not, those public instincts have to be organised into formal political expression for real opposition to catastrophism to become meaningful; there has to be someone to vote for. For the UK, the recent experience of the Brexit party, suggests that issue-related parties, even if they ‘come and go’ so to speak, can for sure change national outcomes.

    Like

  54. Andy —And the only place with unambiguous major political support against catastrophism and its policies, is the US. Which does not come from rational skepticism.

    It doesn’t?

    How do we know it doesn’t?

    in Oz the polarization boundary runs through the right itself,

    It runs through the formal, institutional right, perhaps. But what measure is there of the extent to which it runs across the popular or public ‘right’ — the extent that such a category sufficiently captures a part of the population? And to what extent, for that matter, does ‘right’ adequately capture the thinking of the establishment right? Is ‘thinking’ (of formal political institutions) even the point here? I think things, including the seemingly fundamental designations of political geometry, are far more fluid, and hence chaotic. There are forces and directions at work, for sure.

    public instincts have to be organised into formal political expression for real opposition to catastrophism to become meaningful…

    Agreed. But is the formal representation (of the seemingly consensus-oriented ‘side’) organised?

    It might be organised only by virtue of its legacy, but having no contemporary organising principles. I’m suggesting here that with respect to their histories, today’s political parties are degenerate.

    Like

  55. Ben,

    >How do we know it doesn’t?

    The US has far more probing of climate change attitudes than elsewhere (both academic studies and public surveys), many other nations indeed having very little to go on. Public gets their climate info from media (new or old) / public statements (e.g. politicians, religious leaders, NGOs), not from climate blogs or other sources that might vaguely reflect science (even mainstream, let alone skeptic). I.e. they are not climate literate (as we’d expect from such sources). And even over such very modest literacy as some possess (public samples still, so nothing approaching the level of folks on climate blogs), per Kahan the more climate literate and cognitively capable are actually *more* polarised on the issue. The polarisation is very weighted across the neat boundary between Rep/Con and Lib/Dem, and the above increase in polarisation strongly suggests that tribal loyalty is the prime motivation, which can better be pursued by those having / acquiring a bit more capability. And vast swathes of the US public who don’t know what CO2 is or what gases are in the atmosphere or pretty much anything relevant, are still split on the issue per political tribe.

    >It runs through the formal, institutional right, perhaps.

    Yes, major contributor of 2 recent changes of PM.

    >But what measure is there of the extent to which it runs across the popular or public ‘right’

    Notwithstanding far less info outside the US, in countries like OZ and UK there are still reasonable indicators. And public ‘right’ in Oz usually has to be taken as support for Liberal / National parties, as this is the most common breakdown. So in a Jan 20 poll for instance (pre heavy Covid, I’m not sure whether this will impact such things, probably), gaps for a raft of climate policies between right and left (‘Labour’) are only about 15 to 30%. Whereas there’s usually much bigger average gaps in the US as aligned to their political parties.

    >I think things, including the seemingly fundamental designations of political geometry, are far more fluid, and hence chaotic. There are forces and directions at work, for sure.

    Absolutely, traditional political geometry is by no means an ideal measurement for these things, especially given in most places it *doesn’t* align so well as in the US. But it’s one valid measurement, and this doesn’t mean we can’t see other measures too. For instance in the UK, looking at the results of lots and lots of surveys, suggests that support / opposition to CC is about 50 / 50. There’s also kind of a large mass in the middle, who can be swung either way depending on the question types (allowing both sides to claim survey triumph). But the point being that this big division is not only completely hidden by the formal political parties (except for very tiny chinks / oppositions), it doesn’t seem to reflect wider public political divisions either (albeit some modest conservative leaning of a skeptical nature) – viewing this is not helped though by the fact that a lot of UK surveys appear to avoid breakdown by political party – one has to wonder why that is. Anyhow, ‘there are forces and directions at work, for sure’ and they’re not invisible despite some limits on the means to characterise them.

    >Agreed. But is the formal representation (of the seemingly consensus-oriented ‘side’) organised? / It might be organised only by virtue of its legacy, but having no contemporary organising principles. I’m suggesting here that with respect to their histories, today’s political parties are degenerate.

    Well I’d kind of agree with you that the representation of the orthodox side is kind of incidental rather than causal. Whether one considers the parties degenerate or not, from my PoV there’s ample evidence that the CAGW phenomenon is an emergent one. Meaning it didn’t come top-down from well-organised political parties. However, this may not matter regarding opposition because via whatever route, support of catastrophism and its corresponding extreme policies still has pretty much a clean sweep of political power. As we’re agreed on the need for political organisation of the public’s rejection of said policies, I’ll point out that you’d be an ideal candidate to help lead the charge 😊.

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  56. Andy, I asked how we could know that US opposition to seemingly orthodox climate politics ‘does not come from rational skepticism’. Your answer varies, from opinion surveys/studies, modes of transmission, and degrees of knowledge. That opposition is sceptical is a tautology. What remains — rationalism — is not safely represented by those other things as its proxy or absence.

    Even ‘tribal loyalty’ may not be irrational. I would be much more careful in estimating the public and its capacities than you seem to be, or indeed Kahan is. Even Kahan has been surprised by his findings, as you point out.

    It might be that it is possible for most people in fact to work out what kind of society political environmentalism wants to create, independently of the question of CO2, and to find excess in their claims, which are prima facie irrational.

    Moreover, a comment I was about to make earlier, involved the capacities of the intellectual class. It is only on the campus that you can claim that there are not two genders without raising an eyebrow. Moreover, claiming otherwise is as likely to get you chucked off the campus. Yet it seems to be that the hoi polloi are as adamant as biology itself that there are, and rush out of their homes every Friday and Saturday night to prove it — it is an organising principle of their weekly routine, before and even more so after at least one successful night out. Yet to deny this in the ivory towers would be to declare oneself fascist-adjacent. I’m only *half* joking.

    Who is rational and who is irrational? Who is expert and who is vulgar? I don’t mean at all to relativise it — the academics did that, all by themselves.

    Notwithstanding far less info outside the US, in countries like OZ and UK there are still reasonable indicators.

    I don’t agree that they are reasonable indicators. They are terrible indicators. They narrow the expression of choice. They take categories for granted. They have no historical perspective. And they fail to put attachment to certain issues into relation to others, to estimate strength of attachment. E.g. to what extent one is willing to pay to ‘save the planet’. Revealed preferences and the ballot tally are all. Opinion polling is for the birds.

    …there’s ample evidence that the CAGW phenomenon is an emergent one. Meaning it didn’t come top-down from well-organised political parties.

    On the contrary, I would argue that there is zero evidence of CAGW emerging spontaneously. And certainly not from below. It has always problematised those below it, and therefore sought to establish a basis in geopolitics for managing populations without their consent.

    The history of the environmental ‘movement’ is entirely top-down, and is categorically a movement from the right (for historical reasons). For instance, the Club of Rome in the late ’60s, begins to align conservatives and global institutions, on contemporary tycoons (oil) money, with the help of a few other wealthy industrial capitalists, too. They had a plan for the top-down organisation of society, and they made quick work of persuading the relatively nascent United Nations of the plan. Not much has changed since then, except for the (fluid) political geometry through which the phenomenon is observed. Oh, and all of their prognostications failed.

    I’ll point out that you’d be an ideal candidate to help lead the charge

    Thank you. But I would be the worst possible candidate.

    Liked by 1 person

  57. You’ve probably heard me go on about my believer friend. (He’s not a believalist, of course—believalists are incapable of friendship with me, and vice versa.)

    Ten years ago [fuck! that’s depressing] he repeated some orthodox lie or other about an “organized, well-funded campaign” to delay climate action. I just found the email I sent him in reply, from which I think some bits have aged fairly well…
    _____________

    Organized, well-funded campaign? On my side?

    Let me quote the chairman of the IPCC:

    “Let’s face it, that the whole subject of climate change having become so important is largely driven by the work of the IPCC. If the IPCC wasn’t there, why would anyone be worried about climate change?”

    (They wouldn’t, because there’s nothing wrong. No objective signal for alarm is perceptible, not by any of the five senses. Just the other day I touched the Earth with the dorsum of my hand. It doesn’t have a fever.)

    But a similar statement can’t be made for the skeptical side, can it?

    There’s no way to complete this sentence: “Without the efforts of ____________, nobody would be calm about climate change.”

    I’m pretty sure the meme that CAGW skepticism is due to the clandestine machinations of a tight-knit cabal of Jewish doubt-merchants is merely an excuse for the climate movement’s failures, past and future.

    That’s not to suggest that rank-and-file climate-concerned individuals like you are invoking this myth insincerely. The premise itself—that only an orchestrated campaign can explain the persistence and reflorescence of skepticism about CAGW—would make perfect sense as a matter of projection, I guess. Your own movement is the product of awareness-raising acts by particular human beings—in other words, it owes its existence to your leaders—so I suppose it’s natural for you to assume my side works likewise.

    That’s not a bad thing, Randolph [not his real name]! That’s a feature, not a bug, of cognition. You arguably couldn’t empathize if you couldn’t project, because the very act of putting oneself in someone else’s shoes begins with assuming their mind, and their feet, are as human as one’s own.

    (Well, that’s how it works for me, so you’re obviously no different.)

    And as you know, I literally cannot relate—at all—to people who don’t empathize.

    Like

  58. Brad (4.01 am)the Big CV must have made nicer, or I’m still desperately ill.. Gosh I read through your latest mini-epistle and found nary a nat’s antenna to disagree with. It has been a long-time belief of mine that you cannot convince (or even nudge) someone of different viewpoint without yourself understanding theirs, and often to some extent with some sympathy, how and how they came to adopt their beliefs. All too commonly this is by admiration for others considered, rightly or wrongly, in the know or with greater understanding – how else to explain the influence of people like Attenborough and luvvies. My conclusions after decades of listening to believers (well informed or not) is that none started out evil, and very few intend evil. Some contributors to some sceptical sites are unwilling to, even temporarily occupy someone else’s shoes and find some mutual respect. One of my greatest joys in my last years at UEA was the ability to discuss matters climatoloque and arbouresque with Keith Briffa. We agreed upon little but I truly believe grew mutual respect.
    This situation Brad of agreeing is truly weird. Must go and take my blood pressure.

    Liked by 3 people

  59. Ben,

    >Even ‘tribal loyalty’ may not be irrational.

    The various proxies assess such loyalty from different angles. Tribal loyalty isn’t rational. Regarding regular systemic motivators in society, it’s practically the definition of irrational, stemming from deep mechanisms from before even our humanity. But assuming you mean tribal loyalty may sometimes turn out to be on the side of rationality, yes. In such cases it nevertheless still doesn’t spring from rationality.

    >Even Kahan has been surprised by his findings, as you point out.

    If I wasn’t surprised sometimes, I’d be very surprised I wasn’t surprised!

    >It might be that it is possible for most people in fact to work out what kind of society political environmentalism wants to create, independently of the question of CO2, and to find excess in their claims, which are prima facie irrational.

    The same kind of loyalties can be seen across a range of socially conflicted issues where knowledge on each is likewise very low (albeit in the US climate-change is one of the biggies). The patterns are not a good match to policy dependent rationality, and a great match to party orientated tribal loyalty. The (US) case of the HBV / HPV vaccination programs was a good differentiator in this respect (similar vaccines for similar purpose, via a take-up campaign one ended up getting political attention, the other not; tribal loyalty on the former, not on the latter – hence also much better take-up on the latter).

    >It is only on the campus that you can claim that there are not two genders without raising an eyebrow. Moreover, claiming otherwise is as likely to get you chucked off the campus. Yet it seems to be that the hoi polloi are as adamant as biology itself that there are…

    I think it stretches to much more than campuses these days, in the US at least. However, it isn’t all the hoi polloi, it is extremely weighted to a subset of the left-wing hoi polloi, and within the social sciences prospers greatly as these are hugely left-leaning, as to a lesser extent is most of academia. Elites tend typically to be much more invested in cultural narratives than the average for the population, as these are tied up with perceptions of (not actual) directions leaderships should take us. As such elites are also much more vulnerable to new cultures coming along, which may or may not get a leg up by an alliance with a pre-existing culture (in this case the political left) or indeed try to hi-jack a wing of that culture. The completely irrational stance on gender / biology is only a cultural flag saying ‘this is the team I am committed to’, and is every bit as nonsense as the same fairy-tale flags in religion, or indeed in CAGW.

    >Who is rational and who is irrational? Who is expert and who is vulgar?

    Well these are great questions to which I don’t pretend answers are easy or universal in respect of all cases. But this doesn’t rule out saying that we know people are definitely not acting rationally in-domain (they may be fine out-of-domain), when they spout the above cultural fairy-tales as purported facts (which they actually believe in, i.e. the great majority are not lying).

    >They narrow the expression of choice. They take categories for granted. They have no historical perspective. And they fail to put attachment to certain issues into relation to others, to estimate strength of attachment. E.g. to what extent one is willing to pay to ‘save the planet’.

    Which is why you need many from different angles to get some vision. And indeed some do probe how much people are willing to pay (directly with personal $ or indirectly with someone else’s money, taxes) plus the relative ranking wrt to other issues people find important (national / global / threats / whatever) is probed frequently.

    >I would argue that there is zero evidence of CAGW emerging spontaneously. And certainly not from below… … Oh, and all of their prognostications failed.

    Emergent doesn’t mean from below either, rather at all levels together. One would indeed expect all their prognostications to fail; these were more of the fairy-tale nonsense. Whether one believes the overall phenomenon is emergent or not, I guess then hinges on whether one believes that the nonsense and accompanying fears / anxieties, came from long-circulating emotive narratives that have been around the block many times and evolve at each stage (e.g. the 70s ice-age into global-warming for the CC ones), per above to which elites are far more susceptible, or… whether they were an independently and fully consciously crafted (by club-Rome et al for the explicit purpose of control) formula not occurring in like fashion before and (mainly) absent cultural / emotive influence. Plus… whether one thinks a relatively narrow beginning (C-of-R and pals) or a somewhat wider circulation of narratives in different threads of society (e.g. [parts of] academia again), is the most applicable.

    >But I would be the worst possible candidate.

    I’m surprised you think so considering your political eye and perspectives.

    Like

  60. Re ‘elites’ in the gender example, I really mean ‘aspirational elite’ for the younger campus people in this case, although some actual elite within the older academics especially those with influence outside the academy.

    Like

  61. P.S. although rules are on a state by state basis and so there’s a very mixed situation overall, at different levels and in different places there’s a number of trans women / biological males now competing within women’s sport now, which is already a real-world impactful outcome much beyond campus assertions.

    Liked by 1 person

  62. Andy — Tribal loyalty isn’t rational.

    You posited tribal loyalty an antonym of rationalism. But it may well be the most rational response in a given context. For instance, if democratic institutions do not yet exist, confidence in them has not yet developed, or has been eroded, or if historical, cultural memories linger. Even in feudal societies, loyalty is a social contract with a quid pro quo. I see no basis for claiming that ‘it doesn’t spring from rationality’.

    However, it isn’t all the hoi polloi, it is extremely weighted to a subset of the left-wing hoi polloi,…

    You appear to have misunderstood to who the term hoi polloi refers. Aside, the point is that bad ideas prosper where we would imagine them to be subject to more criticism. This is a criticism of surveyors, so much more invested in cultural narratives, but who can’t help imposing them.

    Emergent doesn’t mean from below either, rather at all levels together.

    Historically, we can see from what environmentalism developed. It did not occur on the streets simultaneously with the topmost strata of global society, even if people did buy Silent Sprint and The Population Bomb, and read them in terror.

    Liked by 1 person

  63. Ben,

    >You posited tribal loyalty an antonym of rationalism.

    No. It comes from in-group recognition and reinforcement mechanisms that marshal a raft of emotive bias effects. Though they didn’t know why it does what it does, even the classical civilisations were familiar with emotive bias, and warned of the issues around it bypassing rationality. It predates and runs through all societies of all types and political systems. A social contract between a lord and his serf is not an emotive bias in this respect. But if for instance the Lord goes to war then emotive tribal loyalty (to his own group and larger groups he belongs to e,g. the king, so nationality) will almost certainly be invoked.

    >You appear to have misunderstood to who the term hoi polloi refers.

    No. I rolled with it without thinking too much, but as progressed noted that academy wouldn’t generally consider themselves as such, indeed some at least as elite. And the gender issue is propagated, largely, by those within a subsection of the left, in the academy as elsewhere.

    >Aside, the point is that bad ideas prosper where we would imagine them to be subject to more criticism.

    They’re a lot worse than just ‘bad ideas’. Really, they have quite specific emotive components, and also flat-out contradict reality every time. These elements are necessary to achieve their cultural purpose. As such, there’s no more protection from them within academia than anywhere, and indeed as noted above, it seems in practice less so.

    >Historically, we can see from what environmentalism developed. It did not occur on the streets simultaneously with the topmost strata of global society, even if people did buy Silent Sprint and The Population Bomb, and read them in terror.

    Yes, they did read in terror. And they are the public. It takes significant years for those fairy-tale terrors (and more like them spreading as time goes on), to manifest on the street and likewise acquire all the characteristics familiar to us from other cultures (such as an extremist political brand, or a religion).

    Like

  64. P.S. I re-read the gender thing again to be sure. You’re right, I’d misread that sentence, scratch the above re the academy not considering themselves as such.

    Like

  65. SPAIN, IBERIA:

    It would be needlessly redundantly to report that The Alhambra—which usually draws the hoi polloi like a sort of Islamic Mecca—is now ghostlily quiet, as the El Niño of the COVID-19 coronavirus and the La Niña of Roma gypsy-cab strikes create a The Perfect Storm of deadlily damaging effects on tourism throughout Spain’s Southern Spain region.

    Like

  66. Put the superfluous definite articles to the one side, Bradley…

    If you were to talk about…

    “the Niña of Roma gypsy-cab strikes”

    We might think perhaps someone had taken your eye, so to speak. Or perhaps you had a new favourite edgy band. Or both.

    Thus, if we were to say ‘…the polloi…’ in English conversation, we might as well say ‘οἱ πολλοί’ – few would know what we were talking about. Some might even guess we were talking about chickens.

    Liked by 2 people

  67. “Put the superfluous definite articles to the one side, Bradley…”

    That’s what I was hoping everyone else would do.

    ‘few would know what we were talking about’

    Hoi aristoi would. They may be hoi oligoi, but that’s enough. It only takes a hamlet to be, or not to be, a village.

    Like

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