I came across this comment by chris y at WUWT when writing about Anthony's latest attempt to rejuvenate the old "it's the sun" denier meme (archived here). This article is to illustrate several identifying characteristics of science deniers:
- Unclear thinking, an inability to appreciate context and limited comprehension. What I'm referring to is how chris y apparently views as conflicting, statements that are in fact complementary. There is probably a word to describe this. Maybe a reader can help me out.
- An "all or nothing" approach. Seeing everything in black and white. There is probably a word for this that escapes me, too. It's not "dogmatic", but that's close. (Illustrated by the "science is unsettled" comment of chris y below.)
- A reluctance to link to sources.
Unclear thinking and difficulty with comprehension
One thing that some deniers are afflicted with is that they cannot put the different findings of science in any context. Could this be a symptom of confirmation bias - or an associated condition? It doesn't take a powerful intellect to understand the following - see my responses to different points raised by chris y who made a comment at WUWT (archived here):
December 28, 2013 at 4:47 pmSou: Gavin was referring to the cause of the rise in temperature in recent decades.
Gavin says- “We’ve looked at the sun; it’s not the sun. We’ve looked at volcanoes; it’s not volcanoes. We’ve looked at the orbit; it’s not the orbit.”
chris y continues:
Interesting claims, in light of what the climate experts have been saying of late-
Hansen blames aerosols from nonexistent volcanic eruptions to explain the pause in temperature rise over the recent 15 years.Sou: Aerosols act as a negative forcing, mainly. They can offset the rise in temperature caused by the increase in greenhouse gases. I've no idea from where chris y got the notion that Dr Hansen "blamed aerosols from nonexistent volcanic eruptions". He cites no reference and I can't imagine that he could. Dr Hansen referred to aerosols (among other things) in this recent paper, co-authored with Pushker Kharecha and Makiko Sato. And in this more recent paper by Hansen et al, there is reference to "Human-made tropospheric aerosols, which arise largely from fossil fuel use." There is no conflict with what Gavin Schmidt is quoted as saying.
chris y then quotes Kevin Trenberth, which comes from an article published at the Royal Meteorological Society:
“Another prominent source of natural variability in the Earth’s energy imbalance is changes in the sun itself, seen most clearly as the sunspot cycle.”Sou: There is no conflict with what Gavin Schmidt said. Variations in solar radiation are natural ie not caused by humans. All else being equal such changes will have an impact on Earth's climate. However, changes in solar radiation are not sufficient to cause the recent rise in temperature. In the article, this is only one of several sources of natural variability discussed by Kevin Trenberth. The article was mainly discussing global warming and the various ways that is manifested on Earth.
Kevin Trenberth, May 22, 2013
Next chris y quotes Ray Pierrehumbert:
‘Nonetheless, he agrees that earlier warming may have been deceiving.Sou: The above is from an article by David Appell at the Yale Forum. What chris y left out was more context from Ray Pierrehumbert, who goes on to say: “Why would anyone seriously question greenhouse gases?” he asks. “They absolutely have a radiative effect, and no serious scientist thinks climate sensitivity could be much lower than 2 degrees Celsius based on the balance of the evidence.
“I think it’s true that some rather sloppy discussion of the rapid warming from the 20th century has given people unrealistic expectations about the future course of warming.”
Ray Pierrehumbert, May, 2013
Then chris y quotes Ben Santer:
…“It’s certainly the case that we got some of the forcings wrong,” [Ben Santer] says of the factors that specify the influence of any particular component of the atmosphere. “It’s likely we underestimated the true volcanic aerosol forcing, and may have underestimated the cooling effect of stratospheric ozone depletion.”Sou: this is from the same Appell article and doesn't conflict with what Gavin Schmidt said. Here is the lead-in to the Santer quote:
“Our expectation has never been that each year would be inexorably warmer than the previous year,” says Ben Santer, a climate modeler at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
It’s simply scientifically incorrect, he says, to attribute the divergence of climate model projections and observations to an overestimation of the climate sensitivity. Santer says he sees several explanations of why climate model projections of surface warming may be differing from actual observations in the past decade or so.
Finally chris y comes up with what he possibly regards as a mind-blowing revelation, but which in reality is a mind-numbing denierism:
The dead certain settled science is unsettling.Sou: Many climate science deniers are like chris y in this regard. It's so endemic that it's arguably one of the defining characteristics of a science denier. They are unable or unwilling to distinguish between science that is settled (eg the greenhouse effect) and science that is pretty well settled within certain parameters (eg climate sensitivity) and science where there is still much to learn (eg just how the ocean-cryosphere-atmosphere-biosphere will respond over time to rapid greenhouse warming).
No link to sources and cherry-picking quotes
Let me add there is another common characteristic of science deniers - they are much less likely to provide any link to sources than a scientist would. In fact it's my experience that they are less likely to provide a link to source material than anyone else would - although I have no citation to back that up :) Anyway, even though chris y failed to cite a single source, it was fairly easy to find the origin of his quotes.
You can understand why deniers are not inclined to link to sources, because seeing the quotes in context shows up another identifying characteristic of deniers - that of cherry-picking.