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The Quantum Theory of Climate Denial

Posted on 30 April 2014 by John Cook

When you get down to the atomic level, the universe gets weird. Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger visualized the funkiness of the atomic world with a thought experiment, famously involving Schrödinger's cat. Maybe he thought the idea would go viral if it included a kitten.

Imagine you have some radioactive material that may or may not decay. Quantum mechanics says that if no one is observing it, the radioactive material is simultaneously in both the decaying and non-decaying states. Only when you observe the material does it collapse into one state or the other.

To illustrate how weird this is, Schrödinger imagined placing the radioactive material in a box, connected to a Geiger counter. Also in the box is a cat. If the radioactive material decays, a bottle of poison is smashed, and the cat dies. If there is no decay, then the cat lives. According to quantum theory, until the box is opened, the cat is simultaneously dead and alive. Schrödinger's cat tells us that what goes on at the microscopic level makes little sense when applied to everyday experience.

Similar nonsensical behavior happens with people who deny the scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming. There are various states of climate denial, with some states contradicting others. For example, some believe global warming is not happening. Others believe global warming is happening but is not caused by humans. Others believe humans are causing global warming but that the impacts won't be bad.

Now, it's perfectly understandable for a community of people to hold mutually inconsistent beliefs. But can one person hold three inconsistent beliefs at the same time? Can a person argue that global warming is not happening, then smoothly transition to arguing that global warming is happening but is caused by something else?

They can, and they do. We see it in the blogosphere all the time. One day a blogger claims that global warming stopped years ago. Next they blame the (previously nonexistent) global warming on the sun. Before long they're back to denying there's a problem at all.

There's a psychological reason for this hovering between states of denial. People who believe in one state of denial are more likely to believe in other states of denial. If you deny one aspect of climate science, odds are you deny other parts (or all of it). In for a penny, in for a pound.

How do we explain this weird, counterintuitive phenomenon? It can be explained by the "quantum theory of climate denial." This theory holds that climate deniers exist in a fuzzy quantum state of denial, simultaneously rejecting many or all aspects of climate science.

Apply a stimulus (for example, show them some scientific evidence) and they collapse into one of the three states of denial. This enables a denier to exist in one state of denial, then transition to a contradictory state, then jump back into the first state of denial again.

Just like quantum theory in general, the quantum theory of climate denial flies in the face of common sense. There is an expectation that over time, deniers will gradually move from "climate change is not happening" toward the "climate change is not going to be bad" end of the spectrum. But in the case of those producing climate misinformation, the data say otherwise.

In one study scientists examined 203 climate-change articles authored by by conservative columnists from 2007 to 2010. The most common type of climate myths came under the "it's not happening" category. In fact, over the period of analysis, the proportion of "not happening" myths increased.

Click here to read the rest

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Comments 1 to 47:

  1. Orwell called it 'doublethink', "The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them".

    Of course, the example above shows that climate deniers have achieved a whole new level of 'consciousness'... triplethink. For when doublethink just isn't crazy enough.

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  2. OT: I had some trouble getting into your site recently. It called for verification to just look at the site, but when I put my name and password in, it didn't accept them. Were you being hacked again? Should I be worried that I gave my password to some bad actor?

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    Moderator Response:

    Fear not, Wili. We've been cleaning up some fuzz growing on the site configuration and committed an error in connection with that. 

    Here's an essay offering some amusing insight into the writhing bag of snakes and hamsters hidden just beneath the glossy exterior of the Internet. Only about 10% hyperbole. :-)

  3. Yes, a good model, and see also:

    Pseudoskeptics Are Not Skeptics


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  4. I gather there is some discussion of it perhaps being 'time for an “official” climate skeptics organization, one that produces a policy statement, issues press releases, and provides educational guidance?'.  Of course the reason this won't ever happen is because if this organisation nailed the skeptics colours to the mast and stated their beliefs clearly and unambiguously, that would "collapse the wave function" (if that is the correct terminology) and prevent the oscillation in beliefs so often observed in discussions on climate change.

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  5. I like this new hypothesis of climate denial indeteterminacy. It could probably also be illustrated as a multipanel cartoon showing a fuzzy grey cloud that collapses into completely different states depending on the input.

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  6. Can this also be unified with the "blimp theory" whereby, after collapse into successive states of denial, the whole thing blows up into a giant blimp?

    See! Look, there's a blimp now!

    Wow! Okay, what were we talking about?...

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  7. This basically tells me that the science of climate is not the problem any more. It's the science of human behavior that matters. That's not to say that we shouldn't strive to clarify the climate science – that’s a given as a lack of clarity would be fatal. This site and others have made huge progress on that front and should continue. But, clarification is no longer the rate limiting step to consensus on action. It probably hasn't been for a long time.

    That leaves me wondering how much people's minds are changed by listening to voices that deny climate science. Do people listen to such voices precisely because they deny the science? And worse, is the fundamental rejection of scientific thought the basis of people's opinions about climate science? I’m certain there is some truth to this, but one can take that point of view too far as a guide to action. It can become an excuse to give up on communicating across political lines altogether, to write off those that disagree and revert to politics of power.

    Or do people distrust the science because they are told to do so by people they trust or like - people who tend not to look or act much like scientists? If that is true, substantial numbers of people might change their mind if a major media personality (or several) shifted position on climate. Should we (or someone) be trying to convince such people directly? A key problem is that any commenters who change position remain "trusted." It's tricky, such a conversion can lead to isolation and loss of influence after such a change of heart (the RINO effect).  

    On the ground, I genuinely think people (not media personalities!) are generally much less invested and much more flexible in their attitudes towards climate science than the media, the political parties and maybe even we scientists typically presume. As our person at the Science Communication Center here keeps reminding us, scientists are still the second most trusted group (80%) after the military according to surveys, and the level of trust has been quite stable over a long period of over time. The question is how to reach many people who’ve been taught to distrust climate science without triggering a political identity backlash.

    Sorry to ramble...but this issue has been bugging me and I thought I might get some useful feedback here.

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  8. You noticed

    MT calls this the incoherence of denialism

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  9. ‘He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.’ Sun Tzu 

    To try to win the AGW debate by dismissing opponents as intelectually incompetant is a sure way to lose.

    The best way to win the debate is to provide evidence.  Evidence ls the answer to how people make their decision.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] As a furtherance to DSL's advice, if you're going to repeat memes, please do so on the most appropriate thread, not here.  Additionally, it is incumbent on you to then provide reputable evidence to support your contentions, evidence based in the published, peer-reviewed literature appearing in credible journals.

  10. Then provide some, Warren.  I'm not going to WUWT to discuss it.  You posted the link here and made the claim that the analysis is evidence of some sort.  Present it and defend it.  If I went to WUWT and posted a link to SkS (with no summary or clue as to the thesis of the SkS article), d'ya think the circus would come here to discuss it?  What's your argument, Warren?

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  11. My argument is; instead of claiming people who doubt CAGW have amongst other things a "weird, counterintuitive phenomenon".  Counter their argument with facts and evidence.  I gave an example of that, which quoted sources, from a blog opposing CAGW

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  12. Warren, look at Skeptical Science. It's all about factual evidence of anthropogenic global warming; there are literally hundreds of articles here chock-a-block with evidence and facts about global warming caused by humans. In an average month the site dispenses about a terabyte of these facts and evidence. The site is very popular with people who are truly interested in learning about the evidence of climate change and what factors are driving it.

    Now read John's article again, more carefully this time. The people John is speaking of  are those who are not accessible via uptake of factual information, are impervious to evidence. The reason they're called "deniers" is because they don't argue evidence and are not interested in learning about evidence. Rather, they deny evidence.



    1. state that one refuses to admit the truth or existence of.

    How people deal with evidence of denial is another category of evidence.

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  13. The topic is in response to the article " The quantum theory of climate denial" that is my argument. 

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  14. @ doug you are proving my point. By labelling people opposing your position as "deniers". Now read John's article carfully, for him to use terms like " deniers exist in a fuzzy quantum state of denial, simultaneously rejecting many or all aspects of climate science" "nonsensical behavior" "There's a psychological reason for this" denigrate the opposing view. There is no need for this, just present the facts as my earlier link to RSS and IPCC evidence  did.

    In other words once you start getting personal in any discussion you weaken your position.

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    Moderator Response:

    (Rob P) - the point here is that sites such as WUWT clearly demonstrate the Quantum Theory of Climate Denial (QTOCD) in action. Indeed KR has already provided some examples, although more explicit examples would be preferred. Why you would reference a site that only reinforces the point of this blog post is a mystery. 

    Complaining that you're being picked on is simply an attempt to detract attention away from this. That is not a counter-argument. If you cannot address the point under discussion we can only assume you have no counter-argument.

    And please note the comments policy - needless repetition is frowned upon here.   

  15. Warren - Looking at the last few posts on your linked site, WUWT, I can categorize them as follows:

    • Unrelated to climate change (just weather, multiple days of tornados)
    • Unrelated
    • It's not us (El Nino)
    • It's not bad
    • Ad hominem with accusations of deception/it's not happening
    • It's not us/not happening (it's natural variability, denial of CO2 physics)
    • It's not bad
    • It's not bad
    • Unrelated
    • Neutral
    • Unrelated snark and ad hominem
    • It's not happening (claims of manipulated temperatures)
    • Red herring
    • It's not us (wetlands)
    • ... On and on and on, rarely the same claim twice in a row. And I didn't even get to the tin-hat UN Agenda 21 conspiracy claims Tim Ball is so fond of.

    I can hardly imagine a better example of contradictory quantum denial than that site.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Fixed text.

  16. Warren, which one of the letters is WUWT opposed to: the C, the A, the G, or the W?    Or are you simply confirming the thesis of this article by refusing to specify which?

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  17. An excellent way to make fun of the observations of the "claims that are inconsistent with a rational evaluation of all the available information yet get repeated" being made by people who simply want to justify their continued desire to benefit from burning fossil fuels, something that is clearly known to also create many other damaging consequences in addition to the excess CO2.

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  18. I am a great fan of and tend to trust the science in the articles. However, this time I must object to the very non-scientific version of the Copenhagen interpretation: That the human conscious has an effect on the real world simply by observing it. (This interpretation is used by a large industry of pseudoscientific literature, e.g. the film "What the bleep do we know" and the book "The Secret").

    Schrödinger described the thought experiment of the cat in the box precisely to show that such an interpretation is faulty - and Einstein pointed out that an explosive device could similarly be rigged to exist in both an exploded and an unexploded state until a consciousness happened to observe it!

    Scrhödingers cat can however be used to illustrate another strange quantum phenomenon: Events without a cause. We place a cat in the box, with say one atom of fermium-252 (with a half-life of c.a. one day), and rig a geiger counter so that when the atom decays, the cat will be killed.

    The point here is that there is no theoretical possibility of stating with complete certainty, at any given moment, that the cat is dead. In other words, the decay of an unstable atom happens purely probabilistically and cannot be predicted. We can say that the chances of the cat living more than one day is 50%, more than two 25%, more than three (giving access to water!) 12,5% etc.

    So without opening the box, we will not know if the cat is dead (the atom has decayed). The event of decay does not have an immediate cause and therefore cannot be predicted, something that flies in the face of traditional physics, as well as our experience.

    A more realistic version of the Copenhagen interpretation is to say that the probabalistic wave function collapses as a result of spreading, i.e. it is mass related. This is debated but sounds fairly logical. The radioactive atom would therefore constantly be creating a superimposed state of both decay and non-decay, which would collapse more or less immediately - and the atom would decay or not decay purely on probabilities.

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  19. KR Perhaps you could show where one of those posts self contradicts in a denial of warming. (John's point is a denier holds many views all at the same time 'deniers exist in a fuzzy quantum state")

    Then go to the post I linked to, and see the post opinion quoting RSS temps and  IPCC sea level graphs in a factual manner.

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    Moderator Response:

    (Rob P) - Here's a few examples of the Quantum Theory of Climate Denial (QTOCD) in plain view at WUWT.

    1. An ongoing series of "it's El Nino that's warming the Earth" by Bob Tisdale.

    2. "It's cosmic rays that are warming the Earth" by Anthony Watts 

    3. "It's insects that are warming the Earth" by Ronald Voison.

    4. "What warming? We're in a pause" by David Whitehouse. 

    5. "Yeah, it is warming but it's CFC's" by Anthony Watts 

    That's about as much QTOCD as I can tolerate in one sitting. 

  20. My old comments might interest binntho:

    The Copenhagen interpretation is commonly viewed by physicists as a way to wave all the metaphysical issues raised by quantum mechanics off to the side. As Feynman once said, "Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, "But how can it be like that?" because you will get "down the drain," into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that. [regarding quantum theory]" ... I think it's an interesting question, and personally prefer the Everett-Wheeler interpretation...

    The Everett-Wheeler interpretation is commonly referred to as the many worlds (MW) interpretation. I linked to the concept of environmentally-induced superselection, or einselection, which is one way that decoherence might result in a seemingly classical universe.

    ... the “collapse” effect in MW is a purely physical phenomenon. It’s difficult to translate the math into english, which is why I’ve said strange things like “generates new universes.” This is a clumsy (and probably overly dramatic) way of describing the process, but it’s the best I can do.

    A more accurate way of describing the process would be to say that coupling an isolated quantum system to a much larger system (like a detector) dramatically reduces the off-diagonal terms of the density matrix describing the original quantum system. Since these off-diagonal terms describe interference between the various eigenstates of the quantum system (horizontal and vertical polarization, for example), this process effectively prevents the two eigenstates from interfering with each other. Because the two eigenstates no longer interact, some physicists interpret the resulting density matrix as saying that the two outcomes are now in two “parallel universes” which no longer interact.


    The Copenhagen interpretation is almost certainly wrong. (My only correction to his list is that #6 also applies to the No Hair theorem.)

    If collapse actually worked the way its adherents say it does, it would be:

    1. The only non-linear evolution in all of quantum mechanics.
    2. The only non-unitary evolution in all of quantum mechanics.
    3. The only non-differentiable (in fact, discontinuous) phenomenon in all of quantum mechanics.
    4. The only phenomenon in all of quantum mechanics that is non-local in the configuration space.
    5. The only phenomenon in all of physics that violates CPT symmetry.
    6. The only phenomenon in all of physics that violates Liouville's Theorem (has a many-to-one mapping from initial conditions to outcomes).
    7. The only phenomenon in all of physics that is acausal / non-deterministic / inherently random.
    8. The only phenomenon in all of physics that is non-local in spacetime and propagates an influence faster than light.
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  21. Fact: C02 levels in the atmosphere keep rising.
    That is all we need to know to make some deductions about the likely result on the climate.
    Those who accept the science that indicates it could lead to disastrous changes in our eco system are showing some concern about the quality of life that future generations are going to inherit.
    Those who deny the science are obviously more concerned about justifying and maintaining their current life-style than anything that future generations are going to inherit.
    The whole argument has degenerated into a stupid tit for tat that resembles any political debate. It is just another example of how human nature becomes polarised and entrenched. If the issue at stake wasn't so serious it would be a laughable example of just how primitive we really are.

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  22. Warren Hindmarsh

    Jdith Curries comments


    • the 20th century average is 2 mm/yr,
    • observations from 1992-2002 are 3.4 mm/yr
    • observations from 2003-2011 are 2.4 mm/yr
    • when corrected for an abundance of La Ninas, sea level rise from 2003-2011 is ‘adjusted’ to 3.3 mm/yr

    Rather than adjusting the period 2003-2011, instead adjust the period 1992-2002 for a surplus of El Ninos.


    From the paper Casanave et al here

    "Present-day sea-level rise is a major indicator of climate change1. Since the early 1990s, sea level rose at a mean rate of ~3.1 mm yr−1 (refs 2, 3). However, over the last decade a slowdown of this rate, of about 30%, has been recorded4, 5, 6, 7, 8. It coincides with a plateau in Earth’s mean surface temperature evolution, known as the recent pause in warming1, 9, 10, 11, 12. Here we present an analysis based on sea-level data from the altimetry record of the past ~20 years that separates interannual natural variability in sea level from the longer-term change probably related to anthropogenic global warming. The most prominent signature in the global mean sea level interannual variability is caused by El Niño–Southern Oscillation, through its impact on the global water cycle13, 14, 15, 16. We find that when correcting for interannual variability, the past decade’s slowdown of the global mean sea level disappears, leading to a similar rate of sea-level rise (of 3.3 ± 0.4 mm yr−1) during the first and second decade of the altimetry era. Our results confirm the need for quantifying and further removing from the climate records the short-term natural climate variability if one wants to extract the global warming signal10."

    No mention of correcting one period rather than another. Simply correcting the entire (~20 year) record to account for inter-annual variability.

    Judith Curry has done an interesting bit of subtle misrepresentation. And of course the denialosphere picked it up with glee - WUWT, JoNova.

    Next Warren, why reference just RSS? Why not UAH - years ago that was always the skeptics favorite. Or the surface records. Or the recent analysis by Cowtan and Way? Perhaps because at the moment RSS is the record that shows the lowest recent warming where that was UAH some years back.

    Perhaps instead the appropriate course of action is to not look at just one source of infomation but to look at all of them and weigh them all up. Unless of course one has an agenda in what one is trying to use the cherry picking of data to represent.

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  23. Warren Hindmarsh wrote "To try to win the AGW debate by dismissing opponents as intelectually incompetant is a sure way to lose."

    I'm sure that WUWT (the site Warren mentions as a counterexample), would never, for example, post cartoons suggesting that those holding a mainstream position on the science were dunces.  No, that could never happen! ;o)

    Besides, the article above does not dismiss anybody as being intellectually incompetant, just of having a lack of coherence in their arguments. The fact that they can't all agree on a non-conflicting position on the basic issues is good evidence of this.  To demonstrate this is the case, see the extensive comments folliwing Roy Spencer's recent list of skeptic arguments that dont hold water, it is clear that even on such basic issues as these there is (shall we say) a spectrum of opinion.

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  24. Denial is primarily a subconscious mechanism to escape the truth in fear of the direct situation or having to come out of an addictive state?

    Here we both, a very threatening situation and a westernized society totally addicted to power and consumerism.

    Add the inherent fear and change and denial is very understandable.
    Maybe it might be better to work to quell the fears and to help those with subconscious (i.e. this is not a conscious voluntary notion) denial, gently, rather entrenching them into deeper defense through a greater degree of distress and denial through attacking people on personal and/ or lower levels.

    Not saying to stop showing the fallacies in arguments derived from a place of denial but maybe we shouldn’t demonize the actual person for what is probably a subconscious process.

    Or do people think there are those who actually want to consciously make human civilization to breakdown?


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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Unnecessary white space eliminated. 

  25. Warren wrote: "My argument is; instead of claiming people who doubt CAGW have amongst other things a "weird, counterintuitive phenomenon". Counter their argument with facts and evidence."

    Problem. That is not a "claim". It is an observable fact. Countless climate deniers do present mutually contradictory positions on a regular basis. Citing this reality is 'countering their arguments with facts and evidence'.

    A previous post listing some of the many specific examples of this behaviour can be found here.

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  26. I wouldn't characterize deniers and pseudoskeptics who engage in "quantum denial" as intellectually incompetent.

    As far as I can see they are either in a serious mire of mental compartmentalization, which is a common enough human cognitive foible (perhaps universal to some extent), or they know better, and therefore know exactly what they're doing (which is IMO far worse than intellectual incompetence or ignorance).

    Also, I'm not interested in coddling feelings. If you don't want to be called a denier, pseudoskeptic, or denialist, then stop denying preponderances of evidence, engaging in fake skepticism, and using the techniques of denialism.

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  27. It may be interesting to attempt to scientifically explain the fundamental processes involved in the persist unsustainable and inconsistent claim creation exhibited by the vast majority of critics of the developing best understanding of human impacts on the climate of this planet.

    However, the suggestion that the critics are inconsistent leads down the wrong path. The critics are completely consistent, including the way they may address other challenges of the acceptability of what they prefer to enjoy doing that seem to be constantly developed by better understanding through rigorous scientific investigation and evaluation.

    The critics of climate science recognize, and do not like, the consequences they face if the best understanding is accepted and acted upon in the way that the science indicates it needs to be. And the ones who stand to lose the most personal benefit if the actions that the science indicates are required actually get forced "on them" will persistently fight against that better understanding any way they think they can get away with. They will even demand the right to be free to do as they please while others try to act responsibly and considerately to overcome the harm that is being done by those allowed to benefit from creating the harm.

    This is clearly one of the major issues where politics unsustainably (hopefully ended sooner rather than later) and harmfully conflicts with science. Politics is deciding who to favour and who to disappoint in the game of popularity of personal preference. Science is about the constant pursuit of the best understanding of what is going on and how things need to be changed, regardless of personal preference. As the pursuers of benefit through politics face growing public better understanding of what is going on they have a last ditch position of "Balancing their interest with the findings of the science". They actually try to claim that their interest needs to be given consideration even if it clearly contradicts the best understanding that is developed. They do it all the time. You constantly hear politicians saying they want to balance the ability of a few people to benefit from unsustainable and damaging actions with the requirements of the scientific understanding of the simple and clear unacceptability of such actions. And they will use the popularity angle to push the balance as far towards their interest as they can get away with.

    That is my best understanding of what is going on.

    Climate science is in good company. It is one of the many targets of the uncaring selfish who fight against those who develop better understanding of the unacceptability of the actions and attitudes they want to benefit from.

    Keep up the good work of helping people better understand what is going on so it becomes more difficult for those who prefer to benefit from unacceptable actions and attitudes.

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  28. It seems that no one else has taken Warren Hindmarsh to task for this so it seems to fall to me.

    I have no interest in debating or winning a debate with the hydra of climate change deniers and their various mutually contradictory delusions. I'm interested in motivating the great masses of people. If evidence is useful, fine....but the great masses of people have no more ability to follow a scientific argument or process the evidence than the deniers and dismissives do.

    The recent case of Cliven Bundy is a useful example. Bundy for all the wrong reasons has been refusing to pay duly imposed land use fees for grazing his cattle on my (federal) land. He attracted numerous armed defenders from the various Posse Commitatus / Sovereign Citizen cults. Now maybe a debate about the legitimacy of the my government has merits, even at insurrectionary gunpoint. But Bundy's mission unfocused discussion of race crossed a red-line and now his views are marginalized. When the Feds finally move, any attendant violence will be Bundy's fault.

    I want climate change deniers to release their inner Cliven Bundys.... and thus push then to the far margins of society.

    Debate them? No.

    I've done debate- you can't "debate" someone who lies, makes it up and dismisses scientific evidence and focuses on non-sequiturs. And you certainly can't debate anyone who decries all of climate science to be a vast conspiracy and hoax. Whether you like Lewandowskie's results doesn't matter...there is a clear connection between uncritical conspiracy mongering and Climate Change deniers. All the evidence shows that these people cannot change their minds when confronted with evidence, instead spending immense psychological resources figuring out defenses allowing them to dismiss and ignore what their ideology demands they believe.

    So Warren, thanks for dropping by with a false and unsupported premise. "debating" your clan is simply a diversion and waste of effort.

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  29. Irreversible rapid climate change is under way. It is primarily caused by the rapid rate of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Ocean acidification is the associated deleterious consequence of the use of fossil fule from the crustal store.

    That assertion is based on fundamental physical principles and is backed by the the vast amount of evidence being accumulated.

    People deny this assertion for a variety of reasons. The resulatant debate has been going on for decades. But that has not had any impact on wat has been irrevocably happening to the climate and ocean acidification.

    Ironically the confusing debate about climate change is similar to the confusing debate about energy supply. The stark reality, regardless of what people think, is that the climate is changing, the ocean is acidifying and the main sources of energy, fossil fuels, is declining in availabiity.

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  30. Dave123 Thanks for your welcome-- I think the reaction to my premis that the moment you revert to personal abuse in any debate you weaken your own position has been borne out.  Obviously you have been traumatised by earlier debates but you will still never win by just accusing your opposition of  "uncritical conspiracy mongering" maybe you lost because you couldn't prove your point. 

     John in the post above has attacked the "denialist" position by saying they "exist in a fuzzy quantum state of denial" My link to a post  with the heading "Sea level rise slows while satellite temperature ‘pause’ dominates measurement record" siting RSS and IPCC  was an example of an evidentiary post citing evidence in a clear logical manner no need to abuse the opposite view just give the evidence. 

    Yes I do read both sides of the discussion but when I see a post like John's I start to think that he has already lost what ever point he was trying to make.

    BTW I don't really see the relevance of your unintelligble example of  "Cliven Bundy"

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  31. Warren@30,

    Didn't Glenn Tamblyn@23 comment provide evidence in clear boldface, that the self-proclaimed "skeptic" crowd distorts the reality and cherry-picks the factoids (often out of context) that suit their preconceived ideology? Then reread it. Glenn's comment addresses precisely the WUWT post about "slowing sea level rise" you're trying to push here as the argument for coherent "skeptic" theory. That argument was busted. Please concentrate on responding to that evidence, according to your claimed evidence based approach to this discussion.

    If you, as is the case so far, avoid this evidence, but instead concentrate on "personal abuse", etc., then I have to conclude that your "evidence based" approach is not an objective reality but rather your subjective interpretation of reality.

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  32. Warren
    Well done for your input. Its a logical conclusion which will appeal to everyone with an interest in the scientific method, and in uncovering the facts. Of course a site like WUWT will have many differing opinions if it allows a free and open debate. I don’t think theres a “party line” there which you have to adhere to get space. So its not WUWT writing, its whoever the author is. Natural science, and especially predictions of future behavior is not an exact study, and uncertainties will have to be handled with probabilistic scenarios, some of which will be mutually exclusive. Nothing wrong with that – its normal scientific procedure. We only get in trouble when we make a “party line” on this subject, and furthermore begin to brand those who do not tow the party line as members of another “party” with an imagined equally strict party line – and thereafter loose the dogs on them. I agree that any sensible and thoughtful person trying to assess whats happening in the climate blogosphere will be negatively influenced by abuse, and positively influenced by evidence. If the case is strong then the evidence will win the case. Abuse tastes of a coverup of a weak argument and should be avoided.

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  33. Rob Honeycutt sez.."See! Look, there's a blimp now!"

    You mean...the *Goodrich* blimp?


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  34. Warren,

    I'm puzzled.  I've stated a that I have no interest in "debating" because it's not a useful tactic in motivating the public towards change.  There is nothing to be gained by trying to show people evidence, especially when they make it clear that they don't understand the evidence in the first place, and regard the whole climate science enterprize as a fraud.  Since the disrespect for the scientific community is so high at can't use them as an example of much of anything but amateurs with chips on their shoulders.  A waste of time.  A tiny group of people with increasingly less visbility and voice,.  I suggest you monitor the comments about Spencer's recent lists and honestly asked yourself if 90% of those commenters could ever change their minds no matter what evidence was presented to them.

    Warren, for that matter, as a token of good faith, can you describe anything in climate science where you've been shown evidence and changed your mind?   I'll make a wager that in fact you'll not be able to state one.

    But moving on- if debating climate change deniers is as futile an enterprize as trying to debate a creationist such as the unlamented late Duane Gish (I could, but that's a skills issue), what is the objective of what I do?  First, providing evidence and reasoning for those with truly open minds is worthwhile.  If that happens in the course responding to the assertions made by deniers so be it.

    The real objective is to provide a good cooperative shove as deniers marginalize themselves- Hence the Cliven Bundy example.  Bundy had sympathy while he kept his mouth shut about blacks being happier as slaves.  Crossing that red-line vitiated any platform Bundy otherwise had for his treasonous, seditious views and his theft from the US government.  Debate Bundy on "government overeach"....never.  Shun him for racism...perfect.  And that is why the Lewandowsky papers are important.  Demonatrating the climate change deniers believe 5 other lunatic fringe ideas before breakfast is good way to demonstrate to the public that those views are marginal.  Most people have their crazy uncle who bores them at family gatherings with his wearisome talks of conspiracies.  The evidence is there (remember "evidence") that a good fraction of the climate change denial industry overlaps with the various conspiracy theorys.  Making sure everyone knows this is good tactics, and why it scares the WUWT so much....deep down they know who they are and what they believe and that the shoe fits.

    Here's a good example of successful marginalization:  the NIPPCC.  This puppet group of the HeartLand Institute had a press conference a few days ago to oppose the release of IPCC reports with their own....and no one came. 

    Now Warren, you made a few assertions... none of which you've backed up.  Why don't you try:

    You asserted there is a debate.  Sez who?

    You have asserted that even accurate personal characterizations are a weak tactic.  Sez who.  Can you provide any evidence to back that up?  You see, US political campaigns show "going negative" is in fact effective.  So you have some evidence...or is this just you expressing yet another opinion, and your entitlement to express the opinion without evidence?

    You've also asserted, indirectly, that persuading you or the denizens of Wattsopia is useful.  You've made no case why it's useful.  I suggest that as much as practicle leaving them to stew in their own juices is the most appropriate response.



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  35. Characterizing a group of people some of whom can't add, some who cannot divide and others who are unable to subtract as collectively "unskilled with arithmetic" is not an ugly portrayal but simply an observation, and a way of referring to these people for the purposes of discussion.

    The population in contradiction with facts and evidence on climate change is itself an interesting phenomenon,  a topic of research. In his article above, John Cook referred to people professing to be climate skeptics as "nonsensical," the most direct and least euphemistic term in the piece. John's piece seems light-hearted but nonsense in this case is indeed a phenomonen of interest. It's rare to see so many people behaving nonsensically about the same topic.

    Warren, what would you suggest as a neutral descriptor for people firmly attached to a counter-factual worldview and who share in common a myriad of incorrect alternatives as a substitute?

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  36. Martin- I very nearly wrecked my keyboard snorting at your unintentioned howler about WUWT having a diversity of points of view.

    If I were to kidnap 100 random scientists from the next AAAS meeting, I would not find people who didn't understand the 2nd law of thermodynamics, who would dispute the possibility of obtaining a global average surface temperature measurement, measure the pH and temperature of the ocean, the incoming radition from the sun, that conservation of matter and energy apply to everything,  all subjetcs of a "diversity" of thinking from the crowd of amateurs, dismissives and envious at WUWT.  In other words there will a near universal understanding of the workings of the basic physical universe in a random grab sample from AAAS members.

    Your sense of entitlement is precious Martin, but not useful.

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  37. Very funny Dave, and after you have wrecked your keyboard you might like to re read the main article, which details the "deniers" of having shifting opinions which often are contradictory (a diversity of points of view - as you yourself put it).


    Then we might get some progress.

    0 2
    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Sloganeering snipped.

  38. More howlers Martin.  You've haven't touched this issue that your alleged diversity of points of view is a diversity of incompetence,  You only imagine a debate exists and that convincing people like yourself would have any impact.

    Martin-put the shoe on the other foot for one moment- why should anyone with my level of scientific expertise and global reputation be persuaded by your assertions, your interpretations, your fourth hand expertise,  What I see reading SkS is people who really read, test and understand the scientific literature.  And I see evidence all over the place that be it the consensus project, Lewandowski's determination of conspiratorialist associations, publications refuting erroneous publications, Cowtan and Way-  in fact SkS has matured into a goto organization for scientific information.

    Martin, I'm not arguing from authority here....I'm merely pointing out that you and your fellow travelers don't have the chops to mess with me over evidence,...and when confronted you simply dismiss what you don't like.

    You would like to make it the case that I and the vast majority somehow have to prove things to the willfully ignorant.  Sorry Martin, the burden is on you to earn a place at the table.  You're not entitled to one, and the diversity of incompetence and malice that is WUWT has no place in civilized society.

    Martin  I do track the effectiveness of the memes I launch into the world.  they're sticking.  I know the change I'm making by my presence in those fora.  But wasting my time with the self-important imposters at WUWT... do consider the possibility that I'm way, way smarter than you and can't be tricked into lending my legitimacy to them or you in the form of what you misunderstand to be debate.

    Same question for you Martin, what have you changed your mind about in climate science based on the evidence.  Betcha can't name one.

    And Martin it's not temerty on my arrogance is earned.  Your sense of privilege isn't.

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  39. Martin G, Nothing you have presented contradicts my assertion that the critics of the best understanding of the climate science simply dislike the potential diminished personal opportunity to benefit from the unsustainable and damaging burning of fossil fuels.

    Pointing out the scientific indequacy of their hoped to be popular criticisms is an endless activity, because the critics are so motivated by their desire to find any way of keeping public opinion with them. They have absolutely no interest in the development of the best understanding. And that is proven by the fact that they do not admit when the implausibility of their claims are conclusively presented. They claim unfair dismissive treatment and try to come up with a new one (and continue to repeat the already proven to be implausible claims). All they accomplish is the maintenance of popular support from like-minded people (something that is as unsustainable as the harmful activities they want to get away with benefiting from).

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  40. Martin@37,

    Get real - and join the scientific debate, which will never be a yes or no, but a series of scenarios probabilities and uncertainties which I personally believe 80% of the public would agree with if they were portrayed in a logical and balanced manner using all the evidence. Then we might get some progress.

    (my emphasis)

    Emphasised part is your wishful thinking - contradiction of how the scientific understaning  progresses over time, according to the inferential statistics. Said statistcs teach us that once the uncertainty of any theory falls below certain threshold (p-value, commonly 5%), the theory is confirmed as fact and move on. Further "debate" will not increase our understanding of the world but only create confusion. In fact too much debate can derail said understanding by introducing the additional uncertainty of skewed results from experiments setup incorrectly or biased interpretation by the contrarians.

    In case of climate science here, when 97% of experts agree on the AGW and IPCC concluded AGW to be "unequivocal" (which translates to the 5% p-value above) there is no debate anymore, and any wishful thinkers like yourself who would like the "debate" to continue indefinitely, are not trying to improve our understanding of science but trying to confuse it. Such attitude will not create any "progress".

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  41. Martin- As some privileged SkS members are aware, I've written professionally on the topic of backgrounds of groupmembers contributing to problem solving, an area of expertise added late in life.  While mixtures of people with stong skills in their respective technical areas have been shown to be strongly associated with success (that is SkSs team)  confederacies of dunces ala WUWT are not successful.  The B school literature is pretty clear on this.

    Yet another piece of "evidence" about why you and they have nothing at all to contribute to the world.

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  42. One more point for Martin and Warren- the real debate is carried out in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, not in blogs pages.  Who is right about the jet stream- Frances or Trenberth?  I don't know, but that's a real debate amoung people of high competence. 

    Your "debate"in the blogs of self-appointed amateurs- dens of incompetence and malice,  it isn't really's propaganda in its own malign right.... your inability to tell the difference suggests mountains about you.

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  43. chriskoz @31

    The grammar I admit is a little obtuse but I think these quotes from

    " The rate of sea-level rise" Anny Cazenave et al

    "when corrected for an abundance of La Ninas, sea level rise from 2003-2011 is ‘adjusted’ to 3.3 mm/yr"  

    More than likely is referring to Adusting (for)  the 2003-11 period's results than the earlier period however, that aside, the adjusted figures smoothed out the earlier decades's higher rate increase as well as increasing the later decade's lower inreases.

    Judith's point is; if you adust the rate of the slow down for the past decade then why wasn't it done during the increases of the earlier decade?   saving everyone a lot of angst.


    0 1
    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Sloganeering snipped.

  44. Warren

    Reread my comment @22.

    They didn't adjust one decade. The adjusted the entire record based on the impact of the ENSO system. Not just for La Nina's or just for El Nino's. The effect of this was a significant change in the later decade because that decade has been more strongly affected by La Nina's.

    Judith Curry hasn't made a point. Judith Curry has presented some misrepresentation. Question is, when I have already pointed this out, why do not see that and change your view? Why persist in trying to argue using something that is an obvious piece of distortion?

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  45. Warren- now why should anyone presume you've made a competenet interpretation of Curry or much of anything else.  You don't respond to Glen's points.  Do you somehow think you're setting an example of debating evidence....or that amateurs can't recognize when they're in over their heads?

    Warren, you start in this frame with zero or negative personal credibility.  Glen on the other hand is well established as a competent and accurate reader of the scientific literature.  When you ignore his responses, repeat assertions you have no personal credibility to debate you're simply demonstrating to this audience and anyone else wandering by that your notion of debate is basically the drunken ravings at a frat kegger. 

    And's also not really a debate when you're are so obviously enslaved by whatever you think Curry says, and demonstrate no independent critical thinking of your own,  "why isn't curry right" isn't a debate,, although it could be part of one.

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  46. Warren Hindmarsh may not know what a tone troll is, but I suspect MartinG does.  They both appear to think that the scientific "debate" about AGW will be won with smooth talk.  While it may shock laypeople, actual working scientists often dispense with urbanity among their peers.  They can be unsparing when criticizing arguments that aren't well thought out or well supported by evidence.  That's the role of "peer review", broadly defined.  It's the process by which incorrect ideas and spurious facts are kept out of the accumulating body of scientific knowledge.

    Despite what MartinG reads on WUWT, within the peer community of climate scientists, the debate over whether AGW is happening, what the causes are, and what the consequences are likely to be, was over by the early 1990s. The discussion may have gotten downright vituperative at times, but rigorously gathered evidence and careful analysis have led to an overwhelming consensus among scientists if not the lay public. For genuine skeptics who are just starting to pay attention, the consensus is concisely laid out in Climate Change: Evidence and Causes, a 36-page booklet published jointly by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of the U.K., free to download at the link.

    With the debate over among scientists, policy responses to AGW are now in the hands of politicians.  A seasoned politician knows (in the privacy of her own thoughts, at least) that a polite liar is still lying, and that some sources of information are more trustworthy than others.  We should be reassured that the U.S. Congress can consult the NAS, formed in 1865 expressly to advise the nation on scientific matters, because if the NAS isn't trustworthy, no-one is.  And when representatives of the NAS speak in their official capacity, they at least are careful to be polite.

    Nevertheless, 163 members of the 113th Congress have made statements explicitly denying either that AGW is happening, or that humans are responsible. The reasons for that have everything to do with the money invested by fossil-fuel interests in lobbying and public relations.  Complaints that scientists respond impolitely to persistent AGW-denial memes are just a distraction from the man behind the curtain.

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  47. Mods, why has my previous post in this thread been deleted?

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [JH] All moderation complaints are summarily deleted. Please read the SkS Comments Policy and adhere to it. You are on the cusp of relinquishing your privilege of posting comments on this website.

    Mea culpa! Mea culpa! Mea culpa!

    I mistakenly thought that I was responding to someone else. 

    Another member of the SkS Moderation team deleted your comment because he found it to be "off-topic & tone trolling."


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