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Climate Hustle

Next self-paced run of Denial101x starts on March 5

Posted on 4 March 2019 by BaerbelW

The next iteration of our free online course, Making Sense of Climate Science Denial, starts on March 5 and it will be the 12th run since the very first one in April 2015. Since then, more than 40,000 students from over 180 countries have registered for our MOOC which has been running either as a 7 weeks long paced or a longer running self-paced version like the upcoming one. The next run will be our longest self-paced run thus far and will stay open until December 17 2019, giving you ample time to work through the material at your own pace.

Our MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is a collaboration between Skeptical Science and The University of Queensland and takes an interdisciplinary look at climate science denial. We explain the psychological drivers of denial, debunk many of the most common myths about climate change and explore the scientific research into how to respond to climate misinformation. With all the misinformation and outright lies coming out of Washington regarding climate science - not to mention many other topics in this age of fake news - our MOOC will give you the knowledge to spot and the tools to effectively counter them.

A poster about Denial101x has been presented at various conferences and you can glean at least a rough idea about our MOOC's content from it (click the image for a larger version or download the poster as a PDF-file, but with 26MB it's fairly large):

Denial101xPosterSmall

We've received some wonderful feedback from students who've taken the course, particularly teachers who are using our course videos in their classes. Pat Bowden wrote a neat review about Denial101x for her blog in November 2017 and Corinne Esteryn spent a lot of time and effort to create very detailed course notes. Corinne also shared this feedback about Denial101x with us when she took it:

"This was the 1st MOOC I ever took and though I took many since, it remains my favorite. So many valuable information, from so many field experts, from all around the world, so much editing work in the videos, to make them as short as possible, yet packed with all the essential & accessible information. So many references. Such an outstanding amount of work, dedication, and all quite methodic and serious. Thank you to all the team for this great experience and all the knowledge shared!"

Here is a video compilation of some feedback from students:

You can sign up for free via the edX website.

Hope to see you there!

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Comments 51 to 59 out of 59:

  1. Tangentially to my last: I recently came across Charles David Keeling's 1998 autobiographical sketch. Great stuff. His contribution to the modern understanding of climate change was immense.

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  2. Eclectic@45

    I suggest adding Darwin to your list.

    Einstein and Darwin introduced very good new explanations of what was going on. Their developed thoughts differed from, or went beyond, the awareness and understanding that had been developed at their time. Unlike the claims made by politically motivated deniers of climate science, their thoughts were consistent with all of the already developed awareness, information and observations.

    Darwin, in particular, faced opposition from opinionated people whose developed perceptions of status were challenged by the improved awareness and understanding that Darwin presented. They were unable to reasonably argue in support of their preferred opinions. But they were powerfully motivated to not correct their awareness and understanding (to maintain perceptions of status, including maintaining the status quo). And those challenged by Darwin's improvement of understanding tried very hard, and still try today, to delay the improvement of awareness and understanding in the general population (I will come back to this).

    Feynman's case is a little different. Initially, he was unable to get his ideas across in a brief conference presentation to his peers (he faced a lack of acceptance by the established scientific community at that time based on that presentation). However, when he formally published his ideas they became generally understood, accepted, referred to and worked with by his peers (legitimate climate science skeptics would present their thoughts for consideration through the Peer Reviewed Publication process - and attempts to publish in incorrectly peer reviewed publications are political acts, not the pursuit of improved scientific understanding).

    Galileo actually had the correct independently verifiable basis for the awareness and understanding that he presented. But his case is a clearer example of presenting a more correct awareness and understanding that challenged the legitimacy of developed perceptions of status of 'the socioeconomic-political leadership of his time and place' (Similar to Darwin, but leadership in Darwin's time included people whose status was not significantly challenged by the new awareness and understanding).

    Contrary to the claims made-up by political deniers of climate science (as differentiated from science skeptics who would address their skepticism through the Peer Reviewed Publication process), the climate science community is the party that is most 'like Galileo'. They are collectively developing a more correct awareness and understanding that is challenging the legitimacy of developed perceptions of status of 'the currently developed socioeconomic-political leadership'.

    Applying Abductive Reasoning (pursuing the likely best explanation for what can be observed to be happening when what is being observed cannot be investigated by controlled repeatable experiments), Prometheus has very likely developed a personal preference for claims that cannot be reasonably substantiated - an all too common nonsensical and harmfully incorrect result of political marketing actions by deliberately misleading deniers (likely for the reasons I suggested in my comment @40).

    Philippe Chantreau's simple request of Prometheus (that could be perceived as a confrontational challenge if the request cannot be responded to reasonably), to present a single example of "relavent arguements made by the skeptics that has changed the perspective of climate change science and advocates alike", has led to a stream of commenting that exposes that Prometheus is very likely acting politically in an effort to impede their own improvement of awareness and understanding regarding climate science (also, potentially hoping to reduce how much the politically incorrect climate science denial efforts they have a developed preference for are publicly challenged and confronted on SkS).

    The motivation for the helpful development of websites like SkS is likely the powerful political misleading marketing efforts to resist the corrections of developed perceptions of status that the acceptance of climate science rationally/naturally can be understood to lead to (corrections of perceptions of wealth or influence developed due to the harmful and unsustainable, and incorrectly popular and profitable, burning of fossil fuels). And the diversity of political misinformation marketing tactics abused by the climate science denial industry are likely the motivation for the helpful development of the Denial101x MOOC.

    Improving awareness and understanding and the application of that knowledge to help develop sustainable improvements for a robust diversity of humanity thriving in ways that fit into the robust diversity of life on this amazing planet clearly needs all of the likes of SkS and the Denial101x MOOC that can be developed.

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  3. OPOF @52 ,

    thank you for your suggestion of "Darwin" as an addition to the denialists' favorite allusions [addition to my list: Galileo / Einstein / Feynman / Popper].

    But in a Cavalier manner, I will reject "Darwin".   Yes, he was seen as a contrarian during his early years, as were the scientists Galileo and Einstein.   Yet, anecdotally, I haven't ever noticed Darwin's case being used by denialists ~ usually they wish to "wrap themselves in the flag" of famous scientists who were initially ridiculed but were later glorified as being very right.   (And probably there's a goodly percentage of climate-denialists who are also evolution-denialists . . . as well as being religious fundamentalists who cling to the biblical belief that God will surely intervene to protect the Earth from major degradation.  So Darwin is persona non grata for them.)   Galileo and Einstein fit their bill, and the mention of those names "proves" that History will eventually vindicate the "contrarian" climate-denialists.

    The case of Feynman is somewhat different, he seems to be alluded to as a brilliant scientist and prominent espouser of skepticism.  The denialists fail to appreciate that he was a true skeptic . . . while they themselves are faux-skeptics.   But they like to imply they are modern-day Feynmans.

    Popper, though not really classified as a scientist, gets some mentions from denialists, because they like his suggestion of the necessity of "falsifiability" (as the absolute criterion for genuine "science").   They wish to wrap themselves in his flag, too.   Popper was partly wrong about "falsifiability" [IMO ~ but I don't wish to spend time arguing the point, here] but denialists wish to selectively use falsifiability as a stumbling-block for climate science.

    Apologies for my lengthy post, and it is wandering off-topic.   But denialism itself is the topic here ~ and I have always found the introduction of some of the above four names, to be a useful raiser of the Red Flag of Suspicion that a poster is engaged in intellectually-dishonest arguments and/or rhetoric.   A handy short-cut for the reader.

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  4. Eclectic @53,

    My comment was also a long one.

    However, I should have at least included an example of Darwin's name being used in vain by climate science deniers.

    This Darwin related item from DeSmogBlog is one example.

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  5. I agree with Eclectic. Feynman is a frequent mention by deniers, although they fail to see how different he was than anyone in their "camp." Feynman was very wary of any kind of certainty or emotional attachment to ideas. He argued that any good scientist is his (her) own worst enemy, and that one should always scrutinize his results, be open to revision or accept that a lot of work was spent on identifying something that was wrong or a dead end. The way that Spencer/Christy handled themselves with the successive corrections required to their work, which were identified and applied by others falls far from these standards, and yet these 2 are among the few legitimate scientists speaking against the consensus; interestingly, their own scientific work that has been subjected to proper scruntiny does not even support their public satements.

    Skepticism is the part of Feynman they like, but it requires them to imply that adequate scrutiny and the corresponding scientific approach has not been maintained for literaly thousands of papers to reach the current state of climate science. They try to do that and quickly show that they're full of it. The other important aspect is that Feynman actually was a brilliant physicist, who contributed to the current state of that science. Not one of the very few legitimate scientists speaking against the consensus has a comparable dimension.

    Finally, for all his whining against labeling deniers with a pyschological disorder, Prometheus shows some rather shining exmaple of it. He mentions how Feynman denounced the pressures applied by some of the NASA upper management to the whole program, to produce results and launch flights even when risk existed that the real scientists and engineers had identified. This is a clear example of people in position of power, with a strong political component to their role, overriding the judgement of those who actually know what they're talking about. Prometheus would not comment on successive administrations imposing silence on researchers, attempting to suppress or bury results, upper management watering down reports, etc. The most grotesque of all may be the Carolina's legislature attempt to ban the words "sea level rise acceleration." All this happened repeatedly under the Bush administration and has reached unprecedented levels in the current one. It is a blatant example of politics interfering with science, exactly what Prometheus claimed to be wary of, but somehow, that's not where his concerns were. The high quality skeptics he wanted to defend seem to be in ever dwindling supply...

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  6. Eclectic @53,

    I believe that a list of names that are 'used incorrectly' by political misleading marketers attempting to delay improved awareness and understanding of climate science is 'on-topic' for this OP.

    My comment @52 included aspects of circumstance for people named in vain that are actually inconsistent with the political misleading marketers who want to claim to be Skeptics just like those they 'name-drop incorrectly'.

    I would encourage you to reconsider your understanding of the motives of the anti-climate science marketers. Though some religiously indoctrinated people can be easy targets for politically motivated misleading marketing promotion of climate science denial, the people creating the misleading marketing are not likely to be attempting to defend religious leadership. And they could abuse Darwin by making the claim that 'people who would believe the thinking of Darwin should understand the unacceptability of being dismissive of alternative beliefs'.

    My comment @40 presents a likely motive for the development of political misleading marketing against the improvement of awareness and understanding of climate science. And my comment @52 suggests that the development of misleading marketers against climate science was the motivation for developing SkS and the Denial101x MOOC.

    Potentially off-topic, I would add that although people agree that it is important to reduce the harm done by the burning of fossil fuels, many of them would not support action that they perceive as potentially negatively affecting them ('their' perception being the key point). And that perception does not depend on religious views.

    The misleading marketing efforts to keep people inclined to oppose actions that would reduce the harm done by burning fossil fuels abuse that tendency. They create messaging to tempt people to resist correcting personally beneficial behaviour that is actually understandably harmful. That is potentially why in the USA, and many other places, the majority of the population will say they accept climate science and would support climate action but the majority also continue to support leaders who oppose or want to severely limit such actions. Some people allow their personal interest to over-rule their ability to understand the need to correct their behaviour, particularly to change who they vote for, to stop harming the future of humanity and help develop sustainable improvements.

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  7. Anyone wanting to be a Helpful Skeptic improving awareness and understanding of climate science needs to do what Feynman learned to do early in his career 'formally publish their alternative understanding in the Peer Reviewed Publication process'.

    Of course, if incorrectly influencing public opinion is the actual objective then 'other means - like political misleading claim-making - would more effectively achieve that end'.

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  8. I wouldn't be surpised if one reason Darwin's name rarely comes up in the denialati's musings is because the climate pseudo-skeptic group is probably strongly overlapping the evolution-denying group. The last thing they would want to do is promote Darwin as the kind of scientist they admire.

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  9. Eclectic,

    Rereading your comment @53, I understand that you may have clarified the goal posts regarding your initial comment @45 (which only asked for Prominent names incorrectly used to gain credibility). You may be seeking 'very frequently used Prominent names'.

    I agree that Darwin is not frequently used, though there actually are cases where Darwin has been abused by climate science denial promoters like Monckton (as the DeSmogBlog item I provided a link to showed).

    What I see related to Darwin that is frequently abused (by the likes of Monckton) are the many suggestions that it is acceptable for current day people to not give up some of their developed perceptions of prosperity and comfort just to reduce the harm done to future generations because 'those future generations will be able to adapt, the incorrect Darwin link'.

    Examples of this incorrect link to Darwin are the economic claims that the artificial developed perceptions of wealth, prosperity, or reduction of poverty that are the result of the unsustainable and harmful burning of fossil fuels will somehow be sustained into the future (perceived positive results of unsustainable harmful behaviour are very unlikely to be sustained positives in the future).

    Similarly incorrect are the related claims that the perceptions of loss of status by portions of the current generation if 'they had to adapt' to the reality of the unacceptability of harming the future generations must over-rule the fundamental understanding of the need to minimize the required 'adaptation to the harmful future consequences of the current generation dragging its feet about correcting what has developed (foot dragging because they - collectively - do not want to correct their incorrectly developed perceptions, they want to allow everyone to continue pursuing 'their happiness any way they have developed a liking for'.

    Efforts to improve the awareness, understanding and acceptance of climate science cannot be separated from the related need for increased acceptance of the need to achieve and improve on all of the Sustainable Development Goals (not just the minimization of climate change harm), which cannot be separated from the related reality that some people will have to lose developed perceptions of status relative to others (not just the coal barons). That is a lot of incorrect developed popularity and profitability to over-come, but the future of humanity needs the corrections to be done, and be done by the current generation because they are the only ones doing anything and everything, including creating the future for humanity through their actions (or lack of correction).

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