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Comments 801 to 850:

  1. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    I am not sure that this lenghty to-&-fro on the exemplar of COVID-19 is very useful for man or beast. Perhaps a roll-back to the initial intorduction of the subject into this thread would cut the subject off at its in-thread intorduction.

    Petra Liverani @4,

    You raise Feynman's 'Cargo Cult Science' and the criticisms of Richard Smith to pre-publication peer review and ask "If eminent scientists criticise "science" why shouldn't we?"

    If you bother to read the criticism of science by these two 'eminent scientists', you may find that their criticism is not in any way as broadly based as you appear to have been arguing down this thread.

  2. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Petra Liverani @32 , 

      When I googled your question (which you are free to do, of course) the first hit that came up was an analysis [B.Healy et al., 2021] of PCR testing of about 5,100 tests.  The result boiled down to around 0.5% false positive ~ a good result in a low-prevalence situation.  (The patient may be retested if it was only a single gene positive.)

    So, not really a problem.  Your question seems off-topic though, considering that this thread is discussing inoculation against misinformation.  I also feel that "self-inoculation" (against misinformation) includes you/we gaining an understanding of the psychological presentation of those who promote misinformation ~  is the anti-science person showing signs of being a nutter or political extremist or conspiracy theorist, etcetera?

    Psychological abnormalities can be hard to tell, sometimes.  (BTW, you have not answered my question @30 about your assessment regarding Dr Bailey . . . but as the Moderator hints, I shall withdraw such a personal reference.)

    Extremists and conspiracists are fairly easy to spot, much of the time.  They waddle and quack [excuse pun].   But the nutters can prove less easy.  I myself know a research scientist (PhD level) who is a member of a local Flat Earth Society  ~ an intelligent, friendly, charming fellow, whom you would have no suspicion of . . . unless the subject of the Earth's shape cropped up.   ( I haven't dared ask him about alien abductions and so on.)

    But examining the mindset of, ahem . . . a contrarian . . . is something which you should be doing routinely, Petra.   It can save you wasting time going down the proverbial rabbit-holes.   It's a form of self-inoculation, in a way !

    Moderator Response:

    [BL] There is a blog post here at SkS where Covid-specific discussion is probably more on-topic.




  3. Petra Liverani at 21:50 PM on 4 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    @Nigel 31

    "You don't have to be a scientist to see certain (covid related) anomalies."

    "But are they really anomalies?"

    The moon landings is a very interesting case because it's the one where I fall out with my sometimes tribe in our disbelief of many things told to us by the authorities and it's one where you can really see people's inclinations to believe blind them to the evidence - just as we see other people's inclinations blind them to the evidence when they're inclination is to believe the authorities.

    After I'd woken up to a couple of big lies I thought I'd take a look at the moon landings which I was all set to disbelieve too. I read the book, Wagging the Moondoggie (love the title if not the content), which said they didn't happen and, knowing nothing on the subject at that point, I found it compelling, however, I thought I should check the evidence myself and when I got to the audio between the astronauts and mission control I stopped dead in my tracks. "No way could this be faked," I thought. But, of course, that's just my opinion, isn't it, just like the opinion of those who think it could be faked. The fact is though that no one has identified any fakery in the audio and there's hours and hours of it. Law of Parsimony/Occam's Razor right?

    And, of course, everything we see apart from a few seeming anomalies completely aligns with the lunar conditions so very different from the terrestrial.

    While I may misinterpret or simply miss important evidence sometimes I'm definitely an evidence-based thinker, not an inclination-based thinker simply because I don't have strong inclinations. Sure, now I disbelieve so much from the authorities but only because I've clearly identified so many lies - and this all happened after the pretty advanced age of 53, 8 years ago. I don't WANT to disbelieve them though and I don't disbelieve them on the moon landings and man-made climate change - just most other things. And while I said I didn't believe in covid from Day One that doesn't mean I wouldn't change my mind - it's just no evidence came to light to make me change my mind.

    Some of the anomalies we see in psychological operations are simply not anomalies that we can glide over. They are very distinctive and we can recognise them as deliberate anomalies not accidental. The most important quote about propaganda in my opinion is from British psychiatrist Anthony Daniels which he applies to both communist propaganda and political correctness but we can see it applies to all propaganda from power.

    The purpose of propaganda is not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponds to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.

    The thing most people seem to have a problem coming to terms with is that those in power tell us the truth underneath the propaganda - they rub it in our faces and make fools of us. When I learnt of this phenomenon known as "revelation of the method" and "hidden-in-plain-sight" I didn't doubt it for a nanosecond because quite a number of giveaway clues had puzzled me. It seems so counterintuitive but it isn't when you know how power works and what could testify to power better than telling us what they're doing and still getting away with it.

    Nigel your explanation for a Chinese research team finding Chinese cobras and many-banded kraits to be "reservoirs" of the virus is "flawed early research" but how is that a better explanation than "nonsense"? It really is nonsense because it makes no sense. Why would researchers look in those two species of snakes in the first place (and the pandemic is barely news at this point) but not others? And if they did look at others did they not find those species to be reservoirs only the two mentioned and if this was the case why not mention it? It doesn't make sense. Have we seen any people falling flat on their faces since Wuhan or people laid out on hospital floors or on the ground? No we have not. These are not the only nonsenses, there are plenty more such as actors playing covid patients.

    NHS hiring actors to play covid patients

    Henry Dyne, Award-winning crisis actor

    A crisis actor speaks and shows her contract

    What clearly says that the covid pandemic is not a complete fabrication and that everyone labelled sick or dead from covid isn't simply sick or died from something else such as cold, flu, pneumonia, etc? What says it's a real pandemic rather than fake? What's the evidence that clearly distinguishes it as real? What says that a bogus test hasn't been used to make "cases" for an illness that doesn't exist in its own right? Covid has been going for 2.5 years and of the people I've known who've tested positive, some were sick with what could easily be a cold, my neighbour said he felt close to death but recovered in a few days, and someone else had no symptoms. What says my neighbour didn't have a bad flu and the others just had a cold or nothing at all? If government and media didn't tell you 24/7 there was a pandemic would you have a clue there was one? If everyone wasn't made to wear masks, etc would you know there was a pandemic? No, you wouldn't have a clue. How can there be a pandemic that you can only know of through government and media?

    We can look at an overall excess spike in mortality in Europe in April 2020 that seems to favour the alleged covid pandemic however when we look at the individual countries and notice how neighbouring countries don't necessarily show the same kind of spike we might wonder about that. Could the fact the spike doesn't cross borders be explained by aggressive drug trials rather than a covid pandemic? Something to very seriously ponder on.

    Set the right marker to about Week 25 2020 to see how in the preceding weeks there's a big spike in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy but not in Portugal and Germany where no aggressive drug trials were conducted.

    Oxford, Recovery et Solidarity : Overdosage in two clinical trials with acts considered criminal?

    Moderator Response:

    [BL] You have already been pointed to the following graphic.

    Since you seem unwilling to evaluate your posts here on this scale, I will do so. I see:

    • Overriding suspicion
    • Nefariuus intent
    • Something must be wrong
    • Immune to evidence

    and maybe more. The phrase "no evidence ... to change my mind" is a common statement from those that have fallen prey to misinformation.


    Conspiracy thinking

  4. Petra Liverani at 19:27 PM on 4 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    OK, I'll ask a simple question.

    What's the rate of false positives for the PCR test and how is that rate arrived at?

  5. Skeptical Science New Research for Week #26 2022

    Doug  ~  IIRC the final scene of "Canticle"  was the priest/monk symbolically shaking the dust from his sandals as he entered the Ark-rocket.   As the initial SCOTUS decisions exploded on the horizon . . . or perhaps I am slightly mis-remembering that bit   ;-)

    Interesting times unfolding now : and we mustn't sleep at the wheel.

  6. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Petra Liverani @27

    "You don't have to be a scientist to see certain (covid related) anomalies."

    But are they really anomalies? I'm not convinced as mentioned in my previous comment up thread. For example you mentioned a person with covid falling over that you felt looked suspicious.Thats rather subjective on your part and perhaps it just looked staged. its important to know covid can make you very dizzy and weak. Its quite likely a few people would fall over. Its also possible that the hospital didnt catch specific cases on the security cameria video,so staged one as a reconstruction and did a sloppy job. Clearly that would not mean covid is a hoax.

    And heres an analogy. Do you remember the claims that the NASA moon landing was a hoax and all staged with actors? This was based on what appeared to be anomolies in certain photos of the moon landings. Some of the anomalies did puzzle me, but I could see innocent explanations for several of them becauuse photography used to be a bit of a hobby of mine. NASA also released commentary explaining what caused the alleged anomalies, and there were good and utterly innocent and convincing technical explanations.

    But NASAS explanations dont appear to be enough for some people, who go on believing its a hoax / conspiracy. Perhaps there are various possible reasons. Some of these people dont seem very intelligent (Im not suggesting you fall into that category), and its known that some people lean towards conspiracy thinking for innate psychological reasons (easily googled) , and others are probably just throwing mud at NASA because they hate elites or governmnet organisations for ideological reasons. Believing in hoaxes is also a type of security blanket that allows people to blame elites for the problems of the world rather than themselves. And there is also dunning kruger syndrome. My point is there are obvious explanations why some people see anamolies and hoaxes everywhere and think they know better than experts.

    So sure we should all question the conventional wisdom, or new wisdon and look out for anomolies, but most anomalies turn out to have innocent explanations that are pretty much irrefutable, so its important to not get stuck in a groove convinced something must be a hoax.


    Petra Liverani at @28

    "Sam Bailey says the experiments done to show the existence of viruses don't follow the scientific method "

    Someone says something. Doesn't make them correct. Regardless of the methods used we can identify viruses which really should leave no room for doubt about their existance.

    "Electron microscopy (EM) has long been used in the discovery and description of viruses. "


    Petra Liverani @29

    ­­­­­­­­"Dr Sam Bailey has been sacked from her presenter job with NZ TV's, The Checkup, for refusing the jab, struck off the medical register and had her YouTube videos pulled down....I'm really not sure where you're not seeing censorship here."

    Like the moderator said losing a job over health and safety issues is not censorship. I live in New Zealand and she was in breach of her employment conditions. The governmnet had also made it mandatory for some people to be vaccinated although I cant recall exactly all the groups, but I do recall some were sacked from their jobs. Its just not censorship, although clearly you could argue about the policy itself. 

    "No argument against what the authorities tell us about the pandemic is allowed in the media."

    Plenty of our media in New Zealand do allow such arguments. allow robust criticism of what the authorities claim, but dont allow wild claims that vaccines dont work, because they dont want to be seen to discourage vaccination and put our hospitals into a crisis situation. Call that censorship, but I think its an example of good practical censorship. Like not allowing people to falsely cry "fire" in a movie theatre.

    "It's right there in the absence of any dissidence. All things dissident are simply labelled misinformation and ridiculed."

    That is a wild generalisation. Instead  some specific things get labelled misinformation. You have to then convince people they are not misinformation. You might need better logic and evidence than you have come up with so far.

  7. Doug Bostrom at 10:03 AM on 4 July 2022
    Skeptical Science New Research for Week #26 2022

    Eclectic, indeed it's true.

    Even more, there are about a billion arguably useful (for life-support purposes) years left in our main sequence star. A number of cycles of spectacular folly are left available, though none will likely be so grand as ours given the virgin, ample and easily wasted resource endowment we're chewing up. See the book A Canticle for Leibowitz for a rough picture of how our opportunity may unfold.

    Given that hope is where we flee when we have no plan and instead must consign ourselves to some fate immediately at hand ("I hope I don't sink even though I neglected to install a bilge pump"), I'm not sure that the concept of deeper time unpacks as hopeful. 

    But comforting, yes. Comfort being the term for what we offer the bereaved, when hope is played out. :-) 

  8. Skeptical Science New Research for Week #26 2022

    Doug , in one sense Peppers may be correct (if unknowingly).

    In the opinion of the eminent evolutionary biologist Stephen Gould : if we completely trashed the planetary environment, and all mammals and other higher animals died off . . . it would not matter much, because in about 15 million years or so, new life-forms would evolve to take their place.

    A comforting thought !

  9. Doug Bostrom at 08:10 AM on 4 July 2022
    Skeptical Science New Research for Week #26 2022

    "It is physically impossible that the balance is not there."

    Yes, and here in the context of CO2 added to the atmosphere that balance is to do with radiative equilibrium. Equilibrium will happen— accompanied by many changes, mostly of an awkward nature as can be seen if one bothers to check research findings. One can easily calculate a ratio of good/bad by following NR, here. The ratio isn't good. 

    "That meteor 66 millions years ago ( killed dinosaurs and 3- of every 4 living things on earth) lowered the world 5 degrees overnight and darkened the earth completely sunless for 6 years. 30 degree F drop in 6 years, then swinging higher than previous normal and climbing to 2000-2500ppm once the sun returned. It all came back."

    After enough death and dying (aka "evolutionary pressure"), everything was fine— right, got it. And the human species is collectively behaving like a brainless rock, yes. How is this good news, consolation, or reassurance? Meanwhile, thinking in geologic time isn't our nature and as well isn't really helpful in terms of dealing with changes happening right now.

    The irony kicker: 

    "More co2 increases foliage (detected by Nasa's MOTIS), more transpiration, more moisture in the air, more low clouds with higher albedo."

    If one bothered to follow NR and rather than instantly singing a comforting cantata of vague hopes instead read only titles and abstracts of papers listed here, one wouldn't make such a glib, facilely optimistic remark. One would know that neither of those claims pencil out as salvation.

  10. michael sweet at 08:03 AM on 4 July 2022
    What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?

    JHBrewer @47

    I found this information:

    Some common light nuclei for comparison (the tables are hard to read each time to consult):H - scattering 4,24 barns at 1 MeV, 20,4 barns thermal, capture 332 millibarns thermal D - scattering 2,87 barns at 1 MeV, 3,4 barns thermal, capture 0,5 millibarns thermal He - scattering 7,06 barns at 1 MeV, 0,77 barns thermal, capture impossible C - scattering 2,58 barns at 1 MeV, 4,74 barns thermal, capture 3,86 millibarns thermal O-16 - scattering 8,15 barns at 1 MeV, 3,85 barns thermal, capture 0,19 millibarns thermal


    Apparently the cross section of Helium is low for thermal neutrons.  It is also interesting that helium-4 cannot absorb neutrons at all, the only element with this property.  It seems to me that the main reason the helium has low effect on the neutron energy is its low density since it is a gas, but I could be incorrect.  I did not find any references to using argon as a coolant.  I guess argon might absorb too many neutrons.

    I suggest yiou read the papers summarized in the link of post 23.  Here is another link.  That source has a number of peer reviewed articles about high temperature gas reactors and the materials they require.   

    Reading some of the abstracs it seems to me that it is a waste of time to discuss  high temperature gas reactors.  They are described as needing very large amounts of R&D to build.  They are unlikely to be designed before 2050 and will be of no use building out a completely non-carbon energy system in that time frame.

    Nuclear power is not economic and the materials to build the reactors do not exist.

  11. Skeptical Science New Research for Week #26 2022

    I see this as a sort of misplaced approach to this issue, as all this data does little to folks passing by your stand at the swap meet. You are addressing people who may be saying there is no changing happening, and I dont think that remains logical. But some may be saying that to be obstinant or antagonistic. For myself, I dont think that change is happening is hard to see. The crisis stated by all this refers to the hockey puc being a precident in history, and the world will now be ending shortly by a runaway cycle. The train barreling down on a next generations child was the fearsome icon. But the world has experienced this before. That meteor 66 millions years ago ( killed dinosaurs and 3- of every 4 living things on earth) lowered the world 5 degrees overnight and darkened the earth completely sunless for 6 years. 30 degree F drop in 6 years, then swinging higher than previous normal and climbing to 2000-2500ppm once the sun returned. It all came back. My point is that, no matter it happening or the source, the world ( the universe ) balances. More co2 increases foliage (detected by Nasa's MOTIS), more transpiration, more moisture in the air, more low clouds with higher albedo. You will find even more paths of balance if you turn your capable eye to the cycling of nature, meaning the inescapable balance of all cycles. It is physically impossible that the balance is not there, I assure you. I am happy to elaborate more if there is interest. Thanks and best, David

  12. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Petra Liverani  @29 and prior :

    You seem strongly drawn to highlighting (in this "misinformation" thread) the case of Dr Samantha Bailey of New Zealand, whom you have championed [according to Reddit] for more than a year now.

    Assuming*  that you yourself are not Dr Bailey, it would be a useful case study of misinformation if you would analyse the psychological condition of Dr Bailey.

    [ * we cannot expect much insight from actual patients. ]

    Not having heard of her before now, I can only speculate on her commercial & non-commercial motivations for denying the mainstream science of viruses, vaccines, PCR's and so on.

    Petra, you have had considerable time to study her, and so your thoughts and speculations on Dr Bailey's mindset would be most interesting, I am sure.   ( Quite possibly the Moderator may permit discussion of the underlying motivations of individuals who immerse themselves in & publicize misinformation/ disinformation. )

    Moderator Response:

    [BL]  Please tread carefully. Discussions of a specific individual are unlikely to be constructive. Discussions of general psychological traits that would lead people to be more or less susceptible to believing misinformation may be appropriate - but should be presented in the context of the information in the blog post.

    And for all - keep in mind that there is a Comments Policy here. One specific item that is worth mentioning, as I see signs that is is being threatened by recent posts, is:

    Comments should avoid excessive repetition. Discussions which circle back on themselves and involve endless repetition of points already discussed do not help clarify relevant points. They are merely tiresome to participants and a barrier to readers. If moderators believe you are being excessively repetitive, they will advise you as such, and any further repetition will be treated as being off topic.

  13. Petra Liverani at 20:35 PM on 3 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Nigelj @24

    Dr Sam Bailey has been sacked from her presenter job with NZ TV's, The Checkup, for refusing the jab, struck off the medical register and had her YouTube videos pulled down. No argument against what the authorities tell us about the pandemic is allowed in the media. I'm really not sure where you're not seeing censorship here. It's right there in the absence of any dissidence. All things dissident are simply labelled misinformation and ridiculed.

    Moderator Response:

    [BL] You keep throwing around the pejorative "censorship".

    Losing a job because you will not meet an employer's health and safety requirements is not censorship.

    Losing the right to practise medicine due to giving bad medical advice is not censorship.

    A decision by a private corporation to disallow the use of their service is not censorship.

    Nobody has the right to force anyone else to give access to their megaphone.

    "The media" is not a single monolithic entity that acts in unison. "The media" is not required to report every misguided person's pet theories.

  14. Petra Liverani at 20:30 PM on 3 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Philippe @25,

    Sam Bailey says the experiments done to show the existence of viruses don't follow the scientific method - and her criticism is not very complicated, a major point she makes is that they don't use controls and nor do the experiments to show infection follow the scientific method. She doesn't actually say viruses don't exist although I wish she'd make it clear that she's just pointing out the problem with the experiments rather than saying pathogens causing measles or whatever don't exist. They can, of course, easily exist, it's just that, according to her and others, the experiments to show their existence aren't correct.

    And so what if she's wrong? Then argue against what she says. Let her speak.

  15. Petra Liverani at 19:52 PM on 3 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    BaerbelW @26

    There's no point putting forward alleged covid facts. I'm familiar with the alleged facts. What needs to be looked at is the argument against the alleged facts and the response to the argument against. We need to follow the debunking trail.

    If we look at this argument debunking the refuters of the alleged facts it looks pretty good ... but then in the comments we see someone debunking this debunking.

    As a non-scientist I can't really follow that very scientific argument but what I can follow are many aspects of the narrative that don't add up that are not of a particularly scientific nature ... and those I put in my page. You don't have to be a scientist to see certain anomalies.

    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Alas, I will have to step out of this discussion as a regular participant and take on the role of moderator. This discussion is starting to go off the rails.

    You said in comment #23 "..but I didn't believe in covid from Day One." Throwing around terms such as "alleged facts" makes it pretty clear that you are rejecting anything that would go against that initial belief. You are challenging others to to consider alternative explanations, when you clearly will not accept any evidence that  goes against the belief you had "from Day One".

    Now, you admit that  you are not a scientist. This is obvious. Scientists can and do listen to credible alternative hypotheses.


  16. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Petra @23

    From your comments it looks as if you'll need to update your understanding about Covid. Here is a link to a wiki put together by a large team of scientists:

    And as some of your claims smack of conspiracy ideation as some others here have already pointed out, here is the link to the Conspiracy Theory Handbook:

    If you decide to read it you should be able to tell which of the 7 traits of conspiratorial thinking make an appearance in your arguments:


  17. Philippe Chantreau at 12:43 PM on 3 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation


    You said: "I wasn't trying to prove that Sam Bailey is correct in her claims although I think she is..."

    Sam Bailey claims that viruses do not cause disease and even argues that they do not exist. It is a good thing that most people in New Zealand know better than buying in her BS. She is as grotesque a charlatan as one could fetch from the farthest reaches of the imagination.

    I have no interest in going on your website to discuss microbiology, molecular biology, or anything else for that matter. I can think of innumerable ways to better use my time. Being open-minded doesn't mean that one should let garbage clutter his mind. The personal experiences of all the people I have cared for who had severe Covid carries far more weight in my own personal experience than the inane reflexion of your handy man.

  18. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Petra Liverani @23. I've scanned your comments and website. You are making wild allegations about "obvious censorship "without providing any specific examples or evidence.

    It appears that you have concluded covid is a hoax and some sort of staged event, because of of some flawed early research on the origins of covid relating to snakes, and one instance where someone is depicted falling over from covid. This is utterly irrational thinking, and classic conspiracy theory ideation. You are taking a small number of issues and jumping to irrational conclusions. Flawed early research does not mean something is a hoax or staged event as you claimed. The person falling over may have been true (you provide no evidence its not true) or a media reconstruction of what has happened. Neither mean covid is a hoax. Your website is classic conspiracy theory ideation.

    My cousin is a doctor and got covid early in the pandemic and was quite ill despite being fit and healthy until then. Are you claiming hes making it up? That hes "part of the conspiracy"? 

    I was talking to a friend recently who had covid and was very ill. Why should I doubt him? He still looked very ill. We have doctors screaming out in our media that hospitals are full of covid patients and they can't cope with the numbers. Do you seriously think they are making this up? If so,  see a psyhcologist or psychiatrist for your own good.

  19. Petra Liverani at 10:25 AM on 3 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Philippe, I readily admit I mentioned the subject of covid and I have no problem with people responding on that subject and certainly see why they have. At the same time, this site isn't about covid so it's not appropriate to get into a big discussion on it. Although I mentioned covid I was really trying to make a general point and I wasn't trying to prove that Sam Bailey is correct in her claims although I think she is, I was saying the approach to dissident views on the subject is wrong and that "science" isn't gospel, that "peer-review" doesn't make scientific claims fact. There should be frank and open discussion and where we see obvious censorship ... then what can one think? Censorship is a kind of fraud.

    Just to say I accept the science on man-made climate change but I didn't believe in covid from Day One and it wasn't because of any alleged misinformation from people such as Sam Bailey, it was from what was obvious misinformation from the authorities in the form of images of people falling flat on their faces and laid out on hospital floors and on the ground and a story about a Chinese research team who'd allegedly found two species of snake to be "reservoirs" of the virus (Chinese cobra and many-banded krait) which was promptly "debunked" by a bio-security specialst as "complete garbage". This kind of nonsense is a hallmark of psychological operations. The quote with "complete garbage" seems to have disappeared but we have this story in The Conversation.

    People don't only disbelieve the authorities on the basis of what people such as Sam Bailey or David Icke say. They disbelieve it from their first-hand analysis much of the time and that's what turns them to these people - whether what they say is right or wrong. I asked a handyman who came to my place what he thought of the virus. His simple reply was, "What happened to the flu?"

    I have my own page on covid, Philippe. If you're interested in discussing it you can make a comment there or email me at

  20. Philippe Chantreau at 05:06 AM on 3 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation


    Your argument failed on multiple points. 

    You postulate the future discovery of an unknown forcing. Then you jump on to the hypothesis that said forcing would automatically be labeled as misinformation. Why would that be? If serious scientific work confirms the existence of such a forcing, with multiple converging lines of evidence and multiple research teams obtaining similar results through various methods, nobody in the scientific world will call it misinformation. That is, unless the work is misrepresented and its significance conveyed to the public in a way not supported by the research. 

    Further, you equate the future discovery of a hypothetical forcing that would be real to the hyping of phenomena that do not constitute forcings. When such phenomena, currently known, identified, and properly investigated, are misrepresented as forcings, it is entirely correct to call that misinformation. 

    Next point: you argue that stifling misinformation impairs the advancement of knowledge. In fact, it is exactly the opposite that happens. The rapid spread and wide reach of misinformation is a colossal obstacle to the advancement of knowledge. It skews public perception and makes everyone less able to understand a given issue. It distracts, diverting attention and resources away. It has also many other side effects, insidious, and extremely detrimental to long term societal balance.

    Finally, you make the ridiculous claim that it is "forbidden to question the consensus." That is a straw man big enough to go vacation at the Burning Man festival. All scientific work that is of quality is welcome in the litterature. Of course, it has to meet certain standards. No work should be given a pass for just questioning anything. In fact, it will likely attract higher scrutiny for doing so, which is entirely reasonable and to be expected in any scientific area. I will reiterate again that what is called the consensus, is not just a consensus of expert opinion. It is a consensus of research results, a convergence of multiple lines of enquiry from multiple teams, using multiple methods. A big picture emerges from that. That big picture is the consensus. 

    It is good to remind everyone that a common pseudo-skeptic lie is that there is no consensus. When corrected, they jump on to attacking the consensus. The dishonesty of the overall approach will not escape the attentive reader.

    It is also necessary to remind everyone that no dissenter's freedom of speech is under attack. This site exists because the public space has been swamped with misinformation, and because the sources of it are loud, aggressive, doing everything possible to drown quality information, attacking people personally, trying to weaponize the justice system against scientists whose message they don't like.

    We live in the macroscopic world. There is such a thing as reality. Allowing any and all BS to be on the same plane of validity as legitimate information is wrong, detrimental, dangerous. People who try to convince others that the Earth is flat must called what they are.

  21. One Planet Only Forever at 04:30 AM on 3 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation


    Our back and forth clarifications and exploration of boundaries of interpretation confirm that we are reasonably aligned. Evidence limits what is believable. And the best explanations of what is going on are the ones that are most consistent with, best explain, all of the evidence. And, indeed, that is always open to improvement. The best that any person can do is pursue increased awareness and improved understanding to learn how to help limit harm done.

    Regarding a focus on Do No Harm:

    I often encounter versions of ‘discourses of climate (action) delay’ that are harmful twists on Do No Harm. Some people claim that reducing or limiting their ability to benefit from something understandably harmful that they benefit from doing or want to do ‘harms them’ (That is obviously an absurd argument commonly abused by people arguing against more rapid ending of the harm done by fossil fuel use. People trying to develop up to a decent basic living are the only ones who can be excused for harm done by their pursuits. And they should be helped to do as little harm as possible in their transition up to sustainable decent basic living).

    I believe that a very good explanation for the current problem of limiting the harm of climate change impacts is the massive over-development of harmful fossil fuel use (developed far beyond what is required for everyone to live a decent basic life). That over-development has produced harmful popularity and profitability and related pervasive misunderstanding. Popularity and profitability potently resist correction and limitations. And demands for ‘Freedom to believe and do whatever a person pleases’ are weaponized populist messaging (especially damaging when paired with a circling-of-wagons, echo-chamber, group-think style attempt to defend ‘Our developed beliefs, especially beliefs about the need to protect the perceived superiority of Our group’ from external evidence-based corrections and limitations that ‘Those Others’ are trying to 'impose').

  22. Philippe Chantreau at 03:52 AM on 3 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Well, now Petra is displaying projection: accusing others of what one is doing him(her)self. Frank Luntz was instrumental in developing pre-emptive projection, which is far more effective than simple post-facto projection. Your attempt, Petra, is rather clumsy.

    There is a quote from you from post#4 above: "In fact, NZ doctor, Dr Sam Bailey, who has made extremely iconoclastic claims with regard to the alleged SARS-CoV-2 virus and viruses in general..."

    You brought up Covid misinformation. Nobody else. You did. You were the one who did not "respect that this site was about climate in the first place." In the case of this particular thread, I find it actually appropriate to mention Covid, since the misinformation and disinformation effort about it has been hyperactive and shares many traits with the lies spread by climate pseudo-skeptics. Moderators will tell us to stop if hey see fit.

    Then of course, you failed to substantiate your claims. You make very general remarks about Sam Bailey raising questions about viruses in general but makes no effort to explain what said claims are. As for the other assertions, specifically that what was called misinformation has not been identified, you obviously have not substantiated that either. 

    My conclusion: I am doing exactly what you advocate and apparently are incapable of doing. I am not taking your word for anything. I am skeptical of any and all of your claims until they are properly substantiated. If you offer substance, I will remain skeptical and scrutinize it to make sure it is credible and relevant.

    So far you are just waving your hands and accusing others of doing what you are guilty of yourself. I am not impressed.

    Moderator Response:

    [BL] The request to be careful in bringing Covid into the discussion is to avoid turning this discussion into a medical argument.

    Covid as an example of misinformation is appropriate, to the extent that is touches on topics presented in the original blog post.


  23. Petra Liverani at 20:15 PM on 2 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    I see there are a number of replies to my post but I won't respond as I can see the subject veering towards covid and I respect that this site is about climate science.

  24. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Philippe C  @17 :

    Myself, I find it hard to judge where David-acct is coming from.

    His climate argument doesn't make sense  ~ so is he using the Covid/CDC argument as a sort of stalking horse in an attack on modern climate science?

    Or was the climate argument just a throw-away line . . . a stepping stone on his way to expressing anger (or political resentment?) against authority figures such as the CDC?   As you say, the CDC operates in a field of shifting uncertainties re Covid, and - all things considered - has done a reasonably fair job.   (Far better than bleach-injecting politicians . . . or stalking horses in need of ivermectin.)

    And who could logically object to masks, even if only half effective ?

    Perhaps there is an unknown psychological forcing in play !

    Let's hope David will redeem himself on the proper thread.

  25. Philippe Chantreau at 14:22 PM on 2 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation


    I am waiting for substantiation on your very strongly worded accusations. There has to be some extraordinary evidence to support such claims.

    As a first line health care worker who was in the heat of all this, I am very curious to see what you call "misinformation." I am also curious to see what sources out there were better than the CDC, and came out as having more "credibility."

    Anyone staying on top of the evidence as it became available knows the difficulty of having to adapt to rapidly changing information and tailoring a message to the public that would be most likely to limit casualties. Criticizing is easy, especially in hindsight. I am fortunate to benefit from the Up to Date info, which allowed me to understand why and how we used treatment modalities.

    I have to say also that, of all the critically ill patients that I saw die of Covid, I do not personally recall any that were fully vaccinated. I do recall a transplant recipient, who was immunosuppressed and only partially vaccinated, and survived. Of course, my experience is anecdote, but it does happen to agree with the data.

    About masks: The largest study conducted to date (over 330,000 subjects) shows effectiveness, especially in people over 60.

    About vaccines, exactly what evidence are you referring to that shows an intent to deceive (that is what misinformation really is) from the CDC?

  26. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    David-acct @14 , you are making an extraordinary comment.

    Firstly, your <"if scientists discover a forcing that is a greater factor than CO2 as a primary driver of warming">  argument is a complete strawman.   (Presumably you are talking about the modern rapid "AGW" part of the Holocene . . .  i.e. the sole topic of climate controversy during the past half-century.)

    A strawman, because no mysterious unknown forcing has shown a niche for its own existence.  No evidence has been demonstrated that might point to its possible existence.

    Yes, in the past there were suggestions/proposals by Svensmark, Lindzen and others, but all such ideas crashed due to lack of any supporting evidence.   But importantly, their "counter-CO2" ideas were not suppressed or censored.   Those ideas were examined by scientists, and found to be without validity  ~  and they are now in the category of disinformation (their only supporters are crackpots or worse).

    The same goes for the continuing purveyors of <"it's all due to natural cycles of ocean currents/ orbits of Jupiter/ etcetera. >"    Cycles which are 90% fanciful and 100% unphysical as a causation of [AGW].    These purveyors are desperadoes who a not censored by scientists, but are simply laughed at (or more generally ignored).

    David-acct , I should also point out that if a significantly large "unknown" warming forcing were to be discovered, then there would also need to be the discovery of a (simultaneous) unknown cooling forcing (to neatly counteract the modern rise of CO2's forcing).   David, I suspect you know in your heart that the chance of such a Double Whammy is infinitesimally small.   In other words - you have created a strawman argument.   Pigs = flying.

    Suppression, stifling, censorship . . . all are fanciful arguments.  Let's not waste any more time going down that road.

    As to Covid matters : you will need to find another thread to discuss the issue.   Unfortunately, you have been extremely vague in your accusations against the CDC.   And I strongly suspect you are harboring a hotch-potch of distorted half-truths there  ~  but I will wait to see if you can provide any evidence on that other thread.   Good luck with it.   My initial bet is that you have chosen to be the victim of medical misinformation and/or disiniformation.


    Philippe C  @7 , I owe you an apology for my slightly ungrammatical misquote "Vive la indifference" @13.   It looked better that way for English readers, I thought.   You will forgive me I hope, even if the Academie cannot.

  27. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    David-acct @14

    "I have to agree with petra regarding the free exchange of information even if misleading."

    I mostly agree with this. While I deplore misinformation, organisations trying to censor everything that could be misinformation creates obvious problems of excessively suppressing free speech. Its generally better to have things out there where they can be debated.

    However I do think a small number of exceptions can be made. We already have defamation laws if people falsely accuse other people of certain things and so I can understand websites being reluctant to post highly defamatory statements. And our media In New Zealand do not publish claims that covid vaccines dont work, or that covid is not worse than a common cold, because it risks causing low uptake of vaccines and massive pressure on hospitals. They do allow a lively public debate on the covid issue in general, including posting material that is contested but they have some limits. The media are walking a fine line, but I see no practical alternative that would make sense and be useful.

    Free speech just isn't a simplistic issue to me. I think western countries do ok with free speech overall. If you want real supression of free speech look at China, Russia or N Korea.

    "What happens in a decade or so if scientists discover a forcing that is a greater factor than co2 as the primary driver of warming. The censorship of that discovery as "misinformation " ..."

    But its very unlikely anyone would censor a genuine discovery like that. It would be reported in the peer reviewed literature and this is not "censored" by governmnets and anyone else for that matter. Studies (of dubious merit) trying to claim global warming is being caused by the sun or adiabatic pressure have been published.  Media already publish results of peer reviewed studies of all types.

    "Nigel - you mention covid ( an i like dont like the covid deniers). the being said, the CDC has been one of the prime movers of misleading and deceptive studies on covid, ranging from the effectiveness of masking, effectiveness of vaccines, boosters, etc. The CDC has lost a tremendous amount of credibility when they are supposed to be the experts. "

    You are assuming the CDC studies were misleading or deceptive. You provide no evidence they were those things. Misinformation suggests spreading information known to be wrong, or spreading junk science, or making ignorant statements. I doubt the CDC did that. It looks to me like they were simply wrong. Perhaps they were negligent but nobody has demonstrated that. I believe there is a difference in being wrong and spreading misinformation. We have different words like misinformation, wrong or incorrect information.

    But the CDC certainly had some strange ideas about masks. Its almost obvious that masks would at least reduce the viral load gulped down into the lungs, and this can only be a good thing. I was mystified when suggestions were made that masks weren't much use and I wasn't sure whether to believe that or not.

    "When the experts try to label scientific inquiries as misinformation, they come across as trying to hide something"

    I do not know of anyone doing that. Who specifically is doing that?


  28. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Nigle at 12

    I have to agree with petra regarding the free exchange of information even if misleading.  What happens in a decade or so if scientists discover a forcing that is a greater factor than co2 as the primary driver of warming.  The censorship of that discovery as "misinformation  " stiffles further advancement of knowledge ( note that I am not saying co2 is not the primary driver ) - just using that example of the danger of forclosing further scientific inquiry simply because it forboden to question the approved consensus.


    Nigel - you mention covid ( an i like dont like the covid deniers).  the being said, the CDC has been one of the prime movers of misleading and deceptive studies on covid, ranging from the effectiveness of masking, effectiveness of vaccines, boosters, etc.  The CDC has lost a tremendous amount of credibility when they are supposed to be the experts.  

    When the experts try to label scientific inquiries as misinformation, they come across as trying to hide something

    In summary everyone loses when attempts are made to stiffle "misinformation"  .  In the case of covid, much of what was labeled misinformation has turned out to be true.


    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Misinformation is not the same thing as incorrect information. In a situation where available information is changing rapidly, incorrect information will be replaced with better information, and advice will change as a result. This is expected in any normal scientific endeavor.

    Incorrect information becomes misinformation when better information shows that the earlier information was incorrect - and the person repeating the misinformation is either unaware of better information or (more commonly) simply will not accept any alternatives.



  29. Climate Confusion


    Let's separate the time lag from the equilibrium temperature. If we stabilize at a particular CO2 concentration and hold there for a sufficiently long time, the temperature will rise to a level that corresponds to the radiative forcing associated with that particular CO2 concentration. The relationship is something like this.

    • 350 ppm CO2 leads to 1C warming
    • 400 ppm CO2 leads to 1.5C warming
    • 450 ppm CO2 leads to 2C warming
    • 500 ppm CO2 leads to 2.5C warming

    And so on. So if we stabilize CO2 at 420 ppm and hold it there for 100 years, we will eventually warm to about 1.7C. The time lag to get to that temperature depends on a lot of complicated interactions in the biosphere. Under current GHG emissions, there is about a 30 year delay, but that delay could increase or decrease depending on how our emissions change. But in any case, the final warming is linked to the CO2 concentration.

    The reason we would lock in the current temperature anomaly if we were able to achieve net-0 emissions today, is that under net-0 emissions the atmospheric CO2 concentration would slowly decrease to a level that corresponds to the current warming. Considering we are at about 1.2C today, if we achieved net-0 emissions today, and stayed at net-0 emissions for a sufficiently long time, then presumably CO2 concentration would eventually drop to something like 370 ppm, a concentration that corresponds to 1.2C warming.

    Hope that helps, and hope the real climate scientists in the room don't find too much wrong with my description.

  30. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    OPOF :

    Ah yes, that protean word "balance"  ~  which each reader takes to his own interpretation.  I should not have used it.  My intention was a meaning of: well-rounded argument including the full spectrum of genuine components.   Genuine scientific information and  pragmatic effective ways of tackling AGW.   Difficult indeed, to state briefly . . . as would be needed, when commenting at a news-site, where pithy brevity is desirable (and where using the Carborundum method of bulky information . . . may well defeat your idiotic opponent, who will retreat in disgust . . . but will probably count as a Pyrrhic victory, because uncommitted readers will likely do a TL;DR . )

    "Balanced" was not meant (as you seem to infer) as an even-handed presentation of good socio-political policies along with sham or token policies.

    Our friend Petra Liverani appears to feel that a balance means that people should be presented with scientific information and misinformation.  Truth and falsehood together, unendingly, without any reasonable summary to guide the casual reader.

    Petra seems to feel it is distastefully authoritarian to use scientific truth as the criterion.   ~ All is relativism, and we are unable to recognize absolute facts: and we should not even try.   Crackpots & quacks are just as worthy as the actual experts.  Vive la indifference !

  31. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Petra Liverani @4

    "To call a medical doctor who has studied scientific papers and points out what she thinks shows errors in scientific method a conspiracy theorist or a spreader of misinformation is the wrong approach. "

    Could you at least provide a specific example, details and a link. Because I don't know of that happening quite like you say. There would be more to it.  I believe you are creating a strawman. Things that get labelled misinformation are instead wild claims that vaccines dont work, or covid is just like the common cold, or that bleach will cure covid. Things that we know through science are false.

    It's probably hard to precisely define misinformation, but something contradicting the weight of scientific evidence is good enough for all practical purposes. Interesting article on misinformation here:

    Like PC I have a very low tolerance for the rabid covid deniers. They are idiots, and they need to be told they are idiots.

  32. One Planet Only Forever at 08:32 AM on 2 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Thanks again for the feedback.

    I do make briefer presentations when commenting on news sites. But I found that the very brief comments were easily responded to with misinterpretations that could not be refuted by a direct requote of the original comment.

    As a result, I often find my longer comments, but still briefer than the sharing of understanding I practice posting here, responded to with character attacks which other readers quickly spot as the acts of someone who is being unreasonable.

    Regarding 'balance': The pitfall is potentially compromising a better understanding by 'pursuing balance'. The weak climate harm reduction leadership actions by the 'supposedly' most advanced nations through the past 30 years are due to 'balancing' interests.

    As an engineer I learned that the only valid interests were the ones totally within the broad sphere of Do No Harm. Interests outside of that sphere do not deserve to be part of a designer/builder/developer's considerations.

    My MBA education, and work experience, exposed me to many types of people with interests outside the sphere of Do No Harm.

    btw, I did recently present balance by giving some credit to the EU for being able to agree to no ICE sales by 2035 in my comment on the SkS "Climate Confusion" post. The interests opposed to that action accepted the result but are still hoping to harmfully compromise it by getting hybrid ICE vehicles to be allowed.

  33. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    OPOF @8 and prior :

    Yes, admittedly it is very difficult to achieve a presentation which is both brief and yet nicely balanced.   The regular readers here have colossal attention-spans, and cope easily with 20-paragraph comments.   Yet not so much, at other venues  ~  where the readership is less invested, and desires some variety spiced with optimism (rather than a large porridge bowl of doom & gloom).

    Although I am not a chef, I do picture the ideal as something like a Chinese Banquet.   Dozens of small plates, arriving sequentially over time.   Unlike the Swedish one, the English language is rich in synonyms, and the diners expect many different tastes to arrive at the table (even though the total nourishment amounts to the same).   And the Grand Chef aims to keep back some of his famed specialities, to tempt the diners to return on other days.

  34. Climate Confusion

    Evan @ 5

    If we stabilize at 420ppm. At .2C per decade and a 3 decade lag we end up with 1.2 + 0.6 = 1.8C but the change from 280 to 350 resulted in 1.2C so there is still another 0.6C to consider which would bring it to 2.4C. I know its not a linear relationship but I doubt its going to break in our favour. The numbers just dont seem to match up in my mind. Land use is obviously a big factor but that doesnt seem likely to go our way in the near future either

  35. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Petra Liverani:

    You seem to be confusing the argument "there are all these problems and inaccuracies in this presentation, therefor it is misinformation" with the argument "I labelled this misinformation, therefor it is wrong". The first is drawing a conclusion based on the evidence, whereas the second is a form of a fallacious ad hominem.

    If you read the OP carefully, it argues for looking at the evidence. Your argument, which dismisses it all because you claim "misrepresentation is a weasel term", is exactly the sort of ad hominem dismissal of the argument that you seem to be against in others. Once you have dismissed the term, you dismiss any argument that uses the term regardless of the evidence that supports the argument.

    You then throw in the terms "censorship", "consipiracy", etc. You are using emotional trigger words, without providing much evidence to support your argument.

    You then argue that these information sources labelled "misinformation" should be refuted based on evidence, but you follow this with a very strong claim that the term "misinformation" is used as the refutation. (Your exact words are "we're told that anything against the mainstream narrative is misinformation.")

    If you were to take the time to review this site (which focuses on the refutation of climate science mythis - "misinformation") you would see that there is gobs of discussion of how these climate myths are wrong.

    When claims that oppose the "mainstream narrative" have been refuted - often many, many times - and people that refuse to read the refutations or respond to them continue to make the claims, then those people are indeed spreading misinformation.

    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Adding a moderators note to my own post, since it is intended as general advice to all participants.

    Please keep in mind that this site is for the discussion of climate myths. In this blog post (reposted from another site) the topic is misinformation in general, so some latitude is allowed with respect to comments staying on topic. We do not, however, want this area to become a place to debate other sciences, such as Covid. Covid discussions will be tolerated only to the extent that they are on-topic to misinformation per the blog post.


  36. One Planet Only Forever at 03:32 AM on 2 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Eclectic @3,

    Regarding 'brevity'.

    Being brief without being open to harmful misinterpretation is challenging. It is even more challenging to be brief when presenting thoughts that challenge and contradict developed fundamental misunderstandings, thoughts that helpfully question developed norms by focusing on the harm done rather than excusing harm done because some people benefit. And it is especially difficult when challenging developed popular and profitable misunderstandings that are part of the illusions of advancement and superiority that are produced by harmful pursuits of benefit and power (the diversity of power: political, economic, social, generated for use ....).

  37. Philippe Chantreau at 03:26 AM on 2 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Petral Liverani,

    Questioning the science can and should be done, it is different from pulling a smoke screen over the eyes of the gullible who are incapable of critical thinking and too scientifically illiterate to realize what's being done to them. The crap floating around on social media and elsewhere is nowhere close to what Feynman had in mind.

    Baileys' technique is similar to that of the comic duo G&T, little more than playing on words to fool those who are eager to be fooled . One can wonder why so many rush to embrace that nonsense, instead of questioning it, like they advocate should be done for all scientific work. After all, there is no reason to not scrutinize with the highest rigor the works of those who say you should scrutinize others.

    I've read the idiotic tripe from Bailey. It can only fool someone so ignorant that they can't realize she is saying nothing of substance. Anyone who can be convinced that it constitutes appropriate challenge to real scientific information has problems with basic undertanding of language. That's how bad it is.

    As an aside, I have personally cared for critically ill Covid patients, I've proned them, I've seen the CT scans of their completely destroyed lungs, I have seen them die, I have worn the protective garb and respirator for hours on end. I do not take kindly to lies and nonsense related to this particular issue. I have also looked into some of what epidemiology is about. Virtually everyone commenting on it has no clue of what it entails. Most physicians know very little about it, except infectious disease specialists. TV pundits and bloggers are completely clueless.

    I have seen misinformation and disinformation about this so blatant that even calling it that is flattering. I have seen people who bought into it without applying the scrutiny that they ironically were told they should apply to other information. They were so steeped in denial that they still believed they were having some minor ailment when they were dying of the disease. Your argument  does not sway me one bit. There are such things as disinformation and misinformation. Sam Bailey's junk is a perfect example of it. It would deserve to be in a disinformation textbook.

    AFP says everything there is to know about it. Nobody with half a brain would bother paying attention to such a fool.

  38. One Planet Only Forever at 02:41 AM on 2 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Eclectic @3,

    Thank you for the suggestion to use the term "harm" less, replacing it with a diversity of synonyms.

    Policy and legal development are focused on "harm reduction". I do occassionally use versions of 'damage' and 'ruin' and 'destroy'. But in many instances damaging and ruinous and destructive do not fit as well as harmful.

  39. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Petra Liverani @4 :

    While applauding your literary style, I must nevertheless say that content is even more important than style.

    Sadly, misinformation and disinformation are both rampant in the area of climate science.   They are definitely a "thing".   They definitely exist.   It would be absurd for us to pretend they should not be mentioned.   Or that we should pretend we cannot discern the difference between science and pseudo-science.   It is the duty of every thinking citizen, to refuse to accept nonsense & rubbish  ~  however much specious sophistry is used to cloud the issue.

    What would Archimedes, Newton, Einstein, and yes even Feynman, have to say about the Post-Modern Wokeness of accepting unscientific misinformation?

  40. Petra Liverani at 20:53 PM on 1 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Misinformation is a weasel term just as conspiracy theory and conspiracy theorist are.

    With regard to criticism of what we are told by the authorities the term to apply is not misinformation or conspiracy theory, but rather words such as criticism orrefutation and the validity of the criticism needs to be addressed. Of course, if it's called criticism that allows possible validity at least, doesn't it, and we can't have that, no we must smear any criticism with the label misinformation. To call a medical doctor who has studied scientific papers and points out what she thinks shows errors in scientific method a conspiracy theorist or a spreader of misinformation is the wrong approach. What needs to happen is that her argument needs to be counter-refuted not simply dismissed as misinformation. In fact, NZ doctor, Dr Sam Bailey, who has made extremely iconoclastic claims with regard to the alleged SARS-CoV-2 virus and viruses in general (as have a few other doctors and scientists) has been struck off the NZ medical register for allegedly spreading misinformation but so far that misinformation has not been identified.

    Where we see the constant refrain of misinformation with clear evidence of censorship we need to consider which information is misinformation and who is spreading it.

    We're told to "trust the science" which is, ironically, a completely anti-science attitude to take. What an absurdity. Science is about questioning not trusting. I have no desire to "trust science", what I want is open and frank discussion but it's squashed and instead we're told that anything against the mainstream narrative is misinformation.

    This recent 20-min video by Sam Bailey, False Gods, "Experts" and the Death of Science, includes snippets of:
    -— Richard Feynman's 1974 Caltech commencement address where he speaks of "cargo cult science" and scientists igoring the rigorous scientific work of a particular scientist and
    -— Dr Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ, saying that it's difficult to see the upsides of peer review and how experiments done to test peer review show it doesn't bear up very well.

    If eminent scientists criticise "science" why shouldn't we?

  41. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    OPOF @2 ,

    may I suggest a yuge make-over for your literary style?

    Your last sentence had 4 harmfuls (or similar).   And that was after a heavy bombardment in earlier sentences.

    Now, I gather in certain Nordic languages it is acceptable & stylistically correct to use the same noun/ same adjective/ same adverb/ over and over again  ~  even a dozen times per paragraph.

    But it is not what English readers expect.   They want variety in their diet  ~  and they frown upon a diet of beans, beans, beans.  Otherwise, their eyes glaze over, and they lose appetite.

    Good cooking, like good literary style, requires the appearance of diversity (even if it's just the same old beans but cleverly disguised).   Alas, I am not skilful enough to provide expert assistance in your quest for persuasive messaging.   But I am sure that brevity & variety   are a good start.   Cheers!

  42. One Planet Only Forever at 09:01 AM on 1 July 2022
    How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    Inoculating people who have not yet been potently infected with misunderstandings that are fundamentally resistant to correction (young people and older people who are still curious and reasonably open-to-learning like young people) is indeed helpful.

    However, the inoculation methods will likely not work well on people who have fundamentally developed their beliefs and resist learning that they harmfully misunderstand things and have been trying to benefit from acting harmfully.

    The NPR News item "Election deniers have taken their fraud theories on tour — to nearly every state" presents an example of that type of fundamentally developed belief and resistance to learning. That awareness and understanding can be transferred to the 'resistance to acceptance of climate science' problem and the related problem of people who are tempted to be harmfully misled.

    Many people have fundamentally developed beliefs about fossil fuels and their 'group's developed status' that are harmful misunderstandings. They grew up immersed in marketing and experiences that developed those beliefs. And they powerfully resist learning that they harmfully misunderstand the issue because they developed a liking for benefiting from the harmful unsustainable actions.

    People who have been infected with a harmful desire will resist learning that they are being harmfully misled. They will not be easy to inoculate against being harmfully misled. And if enough fundamentally learning resistant people collectively obtain the power to harmfully compromise leadership actions on climate change ... you end up with the harmful lack of leadership actions that have been exhibited through the past 30 years in almost every nation on the planet.

    Admittedly, some regions of the planet are less harmfully misled than others. But there are very few regions with leadership that is not harmfully misled to some degree regarding the required corrections to limit climate change harm. The popularity, profitability and power of misleading marketing to produce harmful correction resistant misunderstanding is very well developed. In some regions the power of harmful misleading marketing is so tragically dominant that it has been able to develop harmfully compromised institutions that help harmfully undeserving competitors resist correction of harmful misunderstandings.

  43. What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?

    @23:  The statement that helium "has no moderating effect on fast neutrons, which makes the GFR neutron spectrum the most resistant among fast reactors," confuses me.  Neutron moderation is achieved specifically by kinetic energy loss in elastic collisions, so the lighter the target nucleus the more effective the moderation.  That's simple undergraduate kinematics.  Therefore the only coolant more effective than helium as a moderator would be hydrogen, as in water molecules, or deuterium in heavy water.  Since water or heavy water is widely used as a coolant, I suppose helium looks heavy by comparison; but argon would hardly slow the neutrons down at all. What am I missing here?

  44. One Planet Only Forever at 03:48 AM on 1 July 2022
    Climate Confusion

    This comment was prompted by:

    • michael sweet’s comment @9 “I am skeptical that large amounts of CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere. (because) Who will pay for it?”
    • Mal Adapted’s @11 “At best, CCS must wait until the global carbon-neutral economy is built out.”

    Those are both examples of ‘discourses of climate (action) delay’.

    And examples of the diversity of degree of leadership being harmfully compromised by the popularity and profitability of ‘discourses of climate (action) delay’ include the following two recent reports related to leadership actions to effectively limit the harm of climate change impacts:

    My responses to michael’s and Mal Adapted points include:

    • Who should pay for it? Obviously the people who benefited most from causing the harmful result should “pay the most to clean up the mess and repair the damage done”. This is why I used the analogy of Harmful Party People. Who should clean up and repair the damage done by a Harmful Party Crowd? Similarly, who should clean up litter? Those questions raise the more relevant questions “Why is harmful activity tolerated?” and “Why do people who are aware of the harm being done, the people who have to put up with or try to clear up or repair the damage done, not stop the harmful activity before it is gets too bad?” If the harmful people are the party crowd and they have the power, or ability to threaten and intimidate, to keep others for limiting the Fun They Are Having, then everyone else suffers the consequences and has to try to limit the harm done and try to clean up the mess made and repair the damage done - while the Party Crowd fight for the Freedom to be more harmful.
    • Why is technological development considered to be the only possible way to reduce Carbon levels? Indeed, in addition to significant reduction of energy consumption by humans, the remaining essential energy consumption needs to rapidly become net-zero. But many corrections of what has developed, and new developments that will reduce carbon, do not require any new technology to be developed. Check out Project Drawdown for many examples of non-technical human actions that would significantly drawdown carbon. Many of the ‘solutions’ are changes of regional food production to pre-industrial ways that are more sustainable regional ways of growing food. What needs to happen is ‘un-learning of the belief that technological developments are improvements by default’.
    • Why do people believe in and excuse systems developed by pursuits of Popularity and Profit that are undeniably harmfully compromised by persistent misunderstanding that excuses understandably harmful actions? Many harmful unsustainable systems have develop due to the collective of humanity inadequately limiting pursuits of power and personal benefit. Harmful winners can be expected to create harm through Authoritarian Rule, Dictatorship, Free Market Democracy or any other system that fails to effectively limit their Freedoms of Belief and Action. Any system can be less harmful and more helpful. It just depends on how harmfully compromised the people with the most power in the system become.

    Looking that the BBC and NPR news items with that understanding, the leadership of some of the 27 nations in the EU are more harmfully compromised. But, collectively, they were able to advance the development of helpful policy. The EU appear to be making advances in reducing harmful leadership influence. However, in the USA, the Supreme Court is now harmfully compromised in a potentially long lasting way. The USA leadership of global sustainable development efforts has always been questionable (The belief that Americans did not have to change how they lived, and the related leadership refusal to accept the understanding at the root of the Kyoto Accord that those who benefited most from the harm done so far must lead the rapid correction, even if it reduces their status – and competitive advantage - relative to Others). The USA being able to provide a helpful leadership example appears to be more questionable today than it was a decade ago.

    My closing point relates to Evan’s statement “Although we can talk boldly about what future we will "choose", ...”. That is also a tragically common misleading way of stating what is happening. The current day people are allowing the harmful among them to do more harm to the future generations of humanity. Current leadership is allowing harmful party crowd to make a bigger mess and do more irreparable damage to the ‘only known to be viable home for everyone now and in the future’. Another way to say that is “Although we can talk boldly about how much we will benefit from the harm our actions and inaction will impose on Others and the Future Generations of Humanity ...” (note that saying it that way makes it harder to continue saying anything).

  45. One Planet Only Forever at 13:26 PM on 30 June 2022
    Climate Confusion


    I will clarify my point regarding the next ice age being offset. 49,000 years from now humans start using fossil fuels to keep CO2 levels nominally higher to stop the northern hemisphere ice growth.

    Right now humans have to focus on ending the increase of CO2 and focus on rapidly bringing CO2 levels down.

    And ending the production of unnecessary plastic from the fossil fuel resource would leave more for that valuable ice age offsetting.

  46. Climate Confusion

    M Sweet @9

    Thank's for the info. That 20 metres of sea level rise at current CO2 concentrations / warming  is deadly serious although my understanding is it will be gradual over millenia. An ice age will also be serious and gradually emerge over millenia from what I've read. I'm not sure which is worse. Its a bit mind bending. But by then global population might be a lot smaller due to the trend towards smaller families,  and this will help with adaptation to either eventuality.

    I tend to agree sucking huge volumes of CO2 out of the atmosphere will be expensive or impractical. The best shot we have is reducing emissions. I think the whole sequestering carbon idea is just delaying reducing emissions, unfortunately.


    OPOF @12

    "Wouldn't it be great to have well known reserves of fossil fuels that are kept buried and accessible until they were really needed?"

    Yes this would be prudent. Lubricants, plastics, fertilisers, medicines etc.

    "Maybe the entire next ice age could be offset by timely thoughtful use of those fossil fuels."

    I've contemplated that idea myself. Might be a useful idea, but its geoengineering, and would acidify the oceans and would have other downsides and other challenges.

  47. One Planet Only Forever at 03:12 AM on 30 June 2022
    Climate Confusion

    In my comment @12, the following wording probably makes more sense.

    (btw, michael I agree that if the systems of popularity and profit continue to be the governing systems more damage will continue to be done, and not just climate impact harm)

  48. One Planet Only Forever at 03:07 AM on 30 June 2022
    Climate Confusion


    You have brought up a great example of "discourse of climate delay or denial" (refer to "Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'")

    The focus on a small part of the big picture can look appealing as a justification for delaying doing, or deny the need to do, what is understandably required to limit the harm done to future generations of humanity. And limiting the harm done is the first step in 'developing sustainable mprovements' (harmful developments can appear to be helpful, as long as the focus is only on the 'good looking bits').

    The following Carbon Brief item from 2016, "Human emissions will delay next ice age by 50,000 years, study says", indicates that without the damaging human climate change impacts the next ice age would have been expected in about 50,000 years. It indicates that the current rapid increase of CO2 has created a long lasting condition that would 'delay' the ice age onset by an additional 50,000 years. Note that the ice age still happens. And this more recent Carbon Brief item, "Explainer: How the rise and fall of CO2 levels influenced the ice ages" provides more details regarding CO2's role in ice ages.

    The current high levels that would delay the ice age by 50,000 more years were not needed to offset the ice ace until 50,000 years from now. Wouldn't it be great to have well known reserves of fossil fuels that are kept buried and accessible until they were really needed? Maybe the entire next ice age could be offset by timely thoughtful use of those fossil fuels.

    In addition to finding and keeping the fossil fuels for that important future use (and 50,000 years is a reasonable amount of time for future humans to figure out how to effectively use the fossil fuels to do that), it is important for current day humans to reverse (clean-up, undo) the current massively harmful excess CO2. Expecting the next generation of humans to figure out how to live with the harm done (or correct things) is callous and irresponsible. There are many harmful results of keeping CO2 levels higher, not just sea level rise mentioned by michael sweet @9 (btw, michael I agree that if the systems of profitability and profit continue to be the governing systems more damage will continue to be done, and not just climate impact harm).

    The following CBC News item "Analysis reveals how climate change is influencing extreme weather" and BBC News item "Japan swelters in worst heatwave ever recorded" are added examples. But there are even more harmful consequences of the current excessive CO2 levels, harms that are irreversible, harms that will not be undone by reducing the current CO2 levels. And those harms are made worse as the CO2 is pushed higher -— even if pushing it higher today could be claimed to delay the next ice age by even longer.

    The best way to deal with high heat conditions is not the actions described in the most recent SkS repost of the Yale Climate Connections item "How to stay cool in hot weather". What would be best is leadership actions that rapidly limit the peak CO2 levels and rapidly bring them down (done in ways that still improve the lives of all those who are not yet living basic decent lives - but not caring if the higher-status harmful living ways get chopped down a few notches). The Joy Riding Party Bus humans who denied the undeniable understanding of how harmful they were being through the past 30 years and want to push CO2 even higher because they don't want their Good Time Harmful Fun ways of living to be limited or scaled back deserve to be severely disappointed (no matter how angry that makes them - like I, as a professional engineer, have had to tell clients they could not get what they wanted, no matter how angry it made them. And my MBA education helps me understand their anger and know what they want and why they want it. But I have maintained my engineering responsibility to Do No Harm rather than be tempted to personally benefit by letting them have what they want and reward me for allowing - and make me to blame if it turns out bad).

  49. Climate Confusion

    It may be possible to scale carbon capture and storage up enough to reverse the trend of GMST, but it will surely require a lot of energy. It would hardly make sense to power CCS with fossil fuels, nor to build dedicated renewable or nuclear energy capacity for CCS when fossil carbon is still being burned elsewhere.  At best, CCS must wait until the global carbon-neutral economy is built out.

  50. How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

    "While protecting ourselves from misinformation is essential, trying to debunk each and every false claim after it pops up can feel like an overwhelming and endless game of Whac-A-Mole. (Who has the time? Or the energy?)"

    Science, stated in its two parts,

    Knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method:

    Scientific method,

    Principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

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