Saturday, January 19, 2013

HotWhopper Classic: Misogyny and Sexism

MobyT | 2:27 AM Feel free to comment!
As anyone who's done any work in organisational development knows, the norms and values are established by those in charge.  If an organisation is broken it's extremely hard to fix without changing the leadership.  New brooms sweep the cleanest.

If you run a discussion board it's easy to make sure the subscriber base reflects your own values, if that's what you want.  Select moderators who are as sexist as yourself and they'll get the message across loud and clear.  If an errant subscriber doesn't conform and makes the mistake of standing up for women (or science), you can rely on your pet moderators to gang up and ban them forever. (Bricks and mortar businesses have to be a bit more discrete about their misogyny and sexism.  If they are small enough they can usually get around this problem by making sure they don't hire women in the first place, except to make the coffee, 'man' (yes, 'man') the front desk and answer the phone.)

Judge for yourself - compare the votes in the examples below!

Woman - how dare you intrude on the 'Domain of Men'!

Here are some posts from a classic sexist thread (subs req'd) on the HotCopper discussion board.  You can see for yourselves the type of people the operators aim to attract and, unsurprisingly, succeed.  Golfzoner starts a lively discussion with this:

Golfzoner was was roundly applauded by HotCopper-ites for telling it like it is.  So much so that thirty one more people agreed with him than disagreed!  Full-blooded male HotCopper-ites believe the world would be so much better if women weren't such brazen hussies.  A woman's place is barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen.  She should be subservient to her 'man'.   Woman's sole purpose in life is to slave over a hot stove and keep her master comfortable.

Battle-Hardened, Command-Barking, Brick Out-Houses with a Vagina

The discussion thread was very long.  Here are a few more snippets:  No battle hardened, command-barking, brick out-houses with a vagina for Sonpa:

The 50kg Clubber

One can only marvel at the sort of mentality of HotCopper moderators who unanimously agree that writing about climate science research is far too 'outspoken' to be tolerated on HotCopper, but seem happy enough for someone to write about their suspect sexual proclivities - from Linebacker (yes, really!).  You couldn't make this up.  Although it was buried in the discussion it still attracted six more 'thumbs up' than 'thumbs down':

The Men Pile On

The discussion went on and on for more than two weeks. I could show you any of dozens of other misogynistic or sexist comments from different HotCopper subscribers.  Men who didn't pile on with outright sexism indicated they thought women who objected were over-reacting and should 'lighten up'.  

But not all men agreed.  A few were as disgusted as we women were.

Too "outspoken"

Here's a comment from Dogby that most subscribers didn't like.  Unlike golfzoner and linebacker, it looks as if dogby must have been too 'outspoken' for HotCopper - he's been banned:

What about the women?

Yes, some women are bold enough to venture into the Men's Playground. Kate dismissed the thread with this sharp comment:

And Oxy came straight to the point:

In fact I made a few comments myself and this must have been about the only time that Oxy and I agreed. (IIRC she has libertarian leanings, which forbid her from accepting climate science.)

Get off your soap box!

HotCopper moderators tell people who protest sexism to 'get off their soap box'.  Interesting to be reminded of the sort of soap boxes they prefer.

PostScript: This article and subsequent comments may help explain why so many people with twisted views are attracted to HotCopper and why so many ordinary people find it repugnant. Not merely unnaturally prudish or sexist but arguably bordering on intimidation of women.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

HotWhopper of the Week - A Gutful of Brainless!

Sou | 1:22 AM One comment so far. Add a comment
If you've ever wondered how climate science deniers can keep getting it so wrong, this might give a clue.

           Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

Caution: Going by the number of 'thumbs up', most amateur share traders on HotCopper agree the gut is their organ of choice for intellectual exercise.  Pays to treat any discussion on HotCopper with a big pinch of (epsom) salt.

Unfortunately high school physics doesn't cut it when it comes to anatomy.  Now if astrayalien (who is currently leading the pack when it comes to hot whoppers) had also studied biology he might have learnt that the gut is used for digestion of food, not digestion of science.  (You've got to wonder how astrayalien went in his physics class!)

If he had thought to exercise his brain instead of his bowel, he might have questioned some of those 'predictions' he talks about.

If he'd used his eyes as well, he would have seen that earth's temperature keeps rising.  Note: The original video I had here has since disappeared so here's something else instead. Sou 27 Jan 2014:

Monday, January 14, 2013

How to be a Denier Troll

MobyT | 3:21 PM One comment so far. Add a comment
Another lesson in the crude art of trolling from Hanrahan, the resident expert on HotCopper's Science and Medicine S&M forum.

These are the only posts of Hanrahan's (to date) in a thread that began with a copy of this article on climate change from the Washington Post.

You will note the absence of: a) science and b) any reference to the substance of the original post.

(Hanrahan has been by far the most prolific poster on the thread making six posts so far.  I'll leave it to the reader to decide the value of his contribution except to point out that 6 x 0 = zero.)

1. Religion and Al Gore

Post an inane comment, carefully avoiding anything that could be construed as 'scientific'.  Throw in religion and Al Gore for good measure:

Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

2. The Sky is Falling 1 

Check a map to see where in the world is China.  Observe that air quality elsewhere is improving.  (Remain unaware that it was strong environmental regulations that led to cleaner air and that sulphur emissions can mask warming.)  Finish off with labelling as 'fools' anyone who understands science.

Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

3. The Sky is Falling 2 

Note the accolades that your previous post drew.  Repeat the last line hoping for more applause.  Finish off by having a go at the farmers whose cherry crops were badly damaged in the Big Aussie Heat.

Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

4. Return to Religion - with No Sense of Irony 

Happy that your previous comment got lots of applause, return to the 'religion' refrain.  Then proceed to call scientist Younglogga a 'clear liar' - while at the same time complaining about imagined insults and about being called a troll.
Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

5. Shift the topic to guns

Keep shifting the topic away from the original one about climate change, this time to guns:
Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

6. It's all about ME

Finally (maybe or maybe not), Hanrahan gets to the crux of the matter.  It's all about him.  (Bemoaning the fact that his post number 4 above was moderated).

Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

End of lesson.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

HotCopper Whopper: Dead Heat!

MobyT | 12:03 AM Feel free to comment!
The heat is affecting deniers on HotCopper, new ones keep climbing out of the woodwork as more extreme events are reported.

Dead Heat

Speaking of dead heat, Muzzarati and Nihilism seem to want to head in both those directions!

500 million years ago...

First off, Muzza (of Dog's Breakfast fame) yearns for the hot lifeless deserts of more than 500,000,000 years ago when CO2 levels were 7000 ppm.  Life did start to flourish in the late Cambrian - just not on land.  It wasn't till CO2 dropped and oxygen increased in the atmosphere that the land was colonised with plants and animals.

Source: HotCopper.com

It was later in the Cambrian Period after atmospheric CO2 dropped a lot and the air filled with oxygen that evolution picked up a pace (before being set back by subsequent glaciations).  While there still wasn't any life on land, in the ocean there evolved all sorts of different multicellular organisms, including the precursors to insects and spiders.  Needless to say all this took place over millions of years, not a few centuries, so there was plenty of time for evolution and adaptation.

Muzza says people who know science are 'human haters'.  Muzza's willing to let CO2 surge to levels that virtually no current living organism could survive - not on land certainly.

You'll have noticed that muzzarati is also a 'communist-socialist-cultist' conspiracy theorist.

...or 5,000 years ago

Nihilism on the other hand knows the earth is at least 5,000 years old, might even be much more if you 'trust the science' like he does ...

Source: HotCopper.com

adding in a later post...
...psst even creationism says 10000 years.
Neither of them will entertain the idea that it's most unwise to keep pouring huge amounts of waste CO2 into the air day after day, year after year.

So who wins the HotWhopper of the week award?  The Cambrian Period enthusiast who wants to send us back 500,000,000 years, or the Young Earther who knows nothing existed till 5,000 years ago?

I'll call it a dead heat!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

HotCopper Deniers - Spinning on the Sun

MobyT | 11:06 PM Go to the first of 2 comments. Add a comment
As if to underline the well-known fact that climate science deniers don't read any climate science, denmor, on HotCopper, posts an article by John O'Sullivan suggesting that NASA has just discovered the sun.  This is the same John O'Sullivan who, if you will remember, has very whacky ideas.  Only a year ago he was blogging about how he doesn't accept basic atmospheric physics of the greenhouse effect, which was first demonstrated 150 years ago in the mid-nineteenth century.

Typical of climate science deniers, John O'Sullivan mustn't read climate science either.  He put his own spin on a climate science workshop, which was held to: 
... examine the state of knowledge regarding the climate response to solar variability and will explore some of the outstanding scientific issues that might guide future research thrusts.
John's spin is that NASA has suddenly discovered the sun has a role in regard to our climate - duh!  (Yes, this is the same NASA that launched Voyager 1 thirty five years ago.)

If denmor or John O'Sullivan had ever read an IPCC report they might not have made such fools of themselves.  Even if they'd merely scanned the reports they would have realised that scientists have long  been aware that the sun exists and has a role in the energy balance on earth.  For example, look at the first two paragraphs in the box on page 14 of the IPCC Second Assessment Report, published in 1995, which shows, as any scientist will tell you, that the understanding incoming radiation (ie from the sun to earth) and outgoing radiation (ie from the earth to space) is fundamental to understanding climate:
Box 1: What drives changes in climate?
The Earth absorbs radiation from the Sun, mainly at the surface. This energy is then redistributed by the atmospheric and oceanic circulation and radiated to space at longer ("terrestrial" or "infrared") wavelengths. On average, for the Earth as a whole, the incoming solar energy is balanced by outgoing terrestrial radiation.
Any factor which alters the radiation received from the Sun or lost to space, or which alters the redistribution of energy within the atmosphere, and between the atmosphere, land and ocean, can affect climate.
In fact, they can't have even read anything about the greenhouse effect.  Is there an image explaining the greenhouse effect that doesn't include the sun?

What we're doing is slowing the outgoing radiation by putting our waste greenhouse gases into the air.  Roughly the same amount of radiation is coming in from the sun but there's less going out because there's a lot more greenhouse gases like CO2 absorbing it, so earth is heating up.

Misogynistic thalweg doesn't read science either.  He writes:

Source: HotCopper.com

No, thalweg.  You've got it wrong.  If the sun were emitting ever more radiation (ie at a rising rate) then the warming would be worse.  But it's not.  Here is a chart showing the relative contributions to global warming:

You've got to wonder what is it that makes people like HotCopper's denmor and thalweg and blogger John O'Sullivan make idiots of themselves in public.

A Whopper of a HeatWave III: Climate Rage!

MobyT | 2:54 PM Feel free to comment!


The animated gif below has been updated.

Heat records smashed ...

Excerpt from the latest media release from Australia's Bureau of Meteorology:
Assistant Director of Climate Information Services, Neil Plummer, said the heatwave had broken national records. This is consistent with the trend of an increase in extreme heat events associated with climate change.
"On Monday the average maximum daily temperature record for Australia was broken at 40.33°C. The previous record, 40.17°C on 21 December 1972, was held for 40 years. The daily average maximum temperature yesterday (8 January 2013) is a close third at 40.11°C.
"The number of consecutive days where the national average maximum daily temperature exceeded 39°C has also been broken this week—seven (7) days (between 2–8 January 2013), almost doubling the previous record of four (4) consecutive days in 1973," said Mr Plummer. 

... evoking Climate Rage!

Most people have experienced 'road rage', that aggressive response to heat, traffic jams or other stimuli while driving a vehicle.  For most of us it's no more than swearing under our breath something like "bloody Volvo (substitute appropriate descriptor) driver!" or giving a finger.  Some people have a full-blown attack, ramming other cars or jumping out on the road and physically attacking other drivers.

Australia's 'big heat' has evoked a similar response from climate science deniers - 'climate rage'.

It works like this.  You're already hot and bothered from the record heat.  You see an article, tweet, or comment about the records broken by the current heat wave. If you're hard-wired to deny science, climate rage kicks in and you attack the keyboard:

More on the Record Heat

Here's an updated animated gif, showing the heat wave across Australia from New Year's Day to Thurs 10 Saturday 12 January. yesterday (9 January 2013). Click on the chart to see a larger version.

The Bureau has a Special Climate Statement on the record heat with more stats.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Whopper of a Heatwave II: HotCopper Deniers

MobyT | 1:17 AM Feel free to comment!
Australia's heat wave is getting some attention.  Not just here in Australia, we can't ignore it, but from elsewhere as well.  It's a real doozy.  You can read about it on MotherJones, and in the UK Guardian, The Telegraph and in many places on the blogosphere, like here and here.

One of the big problems is that we've had a lot of rain this past year or two - aka the 'big wet', when large areas of the continent were covered in water - to the north, south, east, west and in the centre of Australia.  2010-11 was the wettest summer on record in Victoria and in Darwin and no-one can forget the tragic loss of life in the Lockyer Valley when Queensland flooded in the same season.  Once the water evaporated, sank into the ground or flowed to the sea the plants started growing again.  (If you remember, the 'big wet' followed the 'great drought', which didn't end till 2010.)  That means lots of fuel for fire.

In 2009 more than 179 people died in a fire that started in catastrophic conditions on a day known locally as Black Saturday.  Most of us knew some of them or knew people who knew some of them.  It was a bad day that affected the whole nation.

Now it's 2013 and in this 'big heat', fires have taken hold, burning out almost entire small towns and hamlets in Tasmania and continuing to rage in our island state as well as in many parts of the mainland.  NSW had the worst fire danger conditions on record - and fires took hold and are still burning out of control.

Reaction from deniers

This blog pokes fun at the silliness that pervades a share trading site, HotCopper, from top management down.  (It's a microcosm of the world that science deniers and conspiracy theorists inhabit, seeing the conservative old white male as its target market.)  But there's nothing silly about the weather extremes in Australia over the past few years.  There have been too many tragedies.  Yet there are still a few people who simply cannot accept that our climate is changing.  While the continent has been sweltering in a record heat event, they write things like this, in response to a post about this article from The Age about the record heat (bear in mind that these are posts on a Science and Medicine forum):
You can grow things in 'Hot-Houses'... But you can NOT grow things in a Deep-Freezer. Birdman29
What a waste of bandwidth this thread is, started I notice by an alarmist, one of the group who tell us that science rules. Hanrahan, the resident troll, dismisses the freak conditions and its consequences as not worth writing about, as well as flaming the poster and denying science in the same keyboard attack.
Ever thought of simply making your point without denigrating those who don't accept your gloomy outlook? And more: Grow up, stop sulking, learn how to debate civilly. Troll Hanrahan again, king of denigration who often has sulking fits and will never learn how to 'debate'.
Do you think that it being summer could have anything to do with it? BenBradley, resident paranoid conspiracy theorist, disagrees with the Bureau of Meteorology.  He thinks this freak heat wave is normal summer weather.
The Earth's climate varies. We need to adjust. astrayalien, recent winner of the HotWhopper dumbest post award, who thinks our atmosphere cools the planet rather than keeping it warm, but nevertheless thinks we will need to adjust.  Yes we do!
People who go on about global warming because its hot outside during summer just show thier (sic) extreme ignorance re climate change. Idiots. From 'CO2 is plant food' muzzarati, who thanks god for poor, much maligned CO2.
That sums up the majority of HotCopper S&M-ers.  Not merely ignorant but wilfully ignorant and proud of it!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

HotCopper Dumbest Post Award

MobyT | 5:14 PM Go to the first of 4 comments. Add a comment
This week astrayalien receives the dumbest post award for a thread he started on HotCopper science and medicine S&M forum.

An alien view?

Astrayalien promotes beliefs alien to science.  He provides a link to John O'Sullivan (another denier crank) who believes that the atmosphere has a cooling effect and that without it, earth would be 121 degrees Celsius.  (Yes, that's actually on his website!)  O'Sullivan's ideas are so ridiculous that I doubt anyone has ever bothered to refute them. (I stopped reading once I got to the bit about the atmosphere having a 'cooling effect'.)

And if you were in any doubt about the collective IQ on HotCopper, six more HotCopper-ites agree with astrayalien than disagree.

Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

Not only that, but astrayalien also links to the website of a software developer, Christian evangelist, wedding photographer called Douglas Cotton, who he believes has overturned more than two hundred years of scientific research by 'proving' there is no such thing as a greenhouse effect. Doug doesn't publish in peer reviewed journals but that doesn't deter astrayalien.

Younglogga gallantly tried to restore credibility to HotCopper and bring the thread back to some semblance of scientific decency by referring people to skepticalscience.com and its links to peer-reviewed science, but to no avail.  Astrayalien thinks such peer-reviewed science is "complete drivel".  He only accepts 'science' from evangelical wedding photographers/software developers.  Anyone who accepts peer-reviewed science suffers 'cognitive dissonance' according to astrayalien.  (Does he know what cognitive  dissonance is?)

Resident troll Hanrahan supports astrayalien, referring to skepticalbloodyscience.com.  (Young Han cannot abide the site because it uses science to refute the 'arguments' of his mate Bob Carter.)

Genericmicrobe can't understand skepticalscience.com and wants HotCopperites to explain it!

Denmor says science is 'alarmist claptrap'.

Denial from HotCopper seems to be keeping pace with Earth's temperature. Correlation does not necessarily mean causation, but ...

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Whopper of a Heat Wave (Updated again)

MobyT | 7:33 PM One comment so far. Add a comment

What happened last year

The Bureau of Meteorology has released the Annual Climate Statement 2012.  Some of the main points are:
...Australia had near-average rain and above-average temperatures during 2012, but the average annual values conceal a year of contrasts:
  • La NiƱa brought above-average rain early in 2012
  • Reduced rainfall in winter and spring was associated with a warm central Pacific Ocean and positive Indian Ocean Dipole
  • Annual nationally averaged rainfall very slightly above average, with 476 mm (1961–1990 average of 465 mm).
  • A warmer-than-average year, 0.11 °C above average 2003–2012 the fifth-warmest 10-year period on record.

Enter 2013 - with a whopper of a heat wave

2013 has started with a whopper of a heat wave extending over most of Australia.  And this looks like being record heat despite no El Nino.  This animation derived from the Bureau of Meteorology temperature charts shows how the heat wave moved across the country from New Year's Day to Saturday 12 January Thurs 10 January yesterday (click for larger version).  The forecast predicts it won't be stopping for a while yet, with temperatures in some parts projected to be more than 50C (122F) next Sunday:

Burning Up

Hot weather means Australia is burning again.  Particularly dangerous are the windy conditions experienced in south eastern Australia last Friday.  As reported by Watching the Deniers, the results were tragic and the ABC reports it is looking very bad again today.

Tomorrow, NSW is facing it's "worst ever fire danger day".

Here's a video about the Tassie fires from ABC 7.30 report, with incredible tales and images of people who survived by huddling in water under a jetty, including the story of a young mother from Dunally who'd just left her children with her grandparents while she went to a funeral in Hobart.

Here is today's record from Sentinel.  You can see the horrific fires in Tasmania still going plus fires all over the country.

The red flames are the most recent 12-hour satellite sweep and the yellow flames are from the previous 12 to 24 hours.

HotCopper Delusions of an Ice Age

Despite this some HotCopper deniers, like Chrysalis here, think we're on the verge of an ice age.

The stupid it burns ...

HotCopper deniers in full swing (trading) - 'hot'!

MobyT | 4:59 PM Feel free to comment!

Are most share traders members of the scientific illiterati or is it just the ones who post on 'Australia's most popular share discussion board' HotCopper?  Could be worth some research (on another day).

The following examples show that anything posted on HotCopper should be read with supreme scepticism if you must read it at all.

Monckton gets it wrong again

Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

My buddy Daruma is a good bloke, but he mistakenly thinks it's cooling.  He's been hoodwinked by 'evidence' provided as a rambling error-filled non-science article from climate science denier, birther and professional entertainer of the elderly, Christopher Monckton.

Deniers 'need their heads read'

Not only that, but there are five more HotCopper-ites who agree with him than disagree (+5 thumbs up).  This is despite the chart that butcherboy (Physics Honours graduate currently doing a Masters in climate studies) posted and got thumbed down for his efforts:

Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

adding a copy of struggler's chart from SkepticalScience.com (saving HotCopperites a mouse click).  The chart is a gif animation.  If the animation doesn't show up*, click on the chart to open it in a new window.

HotCopper favours dumbing down and denialism (in line with its unwritten policies /s)

Science is an elite leftist scam - what?

In another thread, this post from Denmor sums up the average HotCopperites view of science in general:
Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

HotCopper science deniers don't know the difference between science and politics, and any science they don't like must be a 'scam' by the 'elite left of politics'.

It really is getting hotter and hotter

Finally, let's look at some real science showing how temperatures are trending with and without the influence of ENSO, solar and volcanoes (derived from Foster and Rahmstorf (2011) by SkepticalScience).  It clearly shows that this global warming is from greenhouse gases, not from ENSO, volcanoes or the sun:

(This is a gif animation.)

* If the animations don't show up, set you browser to display web animations.  In IE open Internet Options and go to the multimedia section of advanced settings and select 'play animations in web pages', then restart your browser.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Whopper of a Dog's Breakfast

MobyT | 10:05 PM Go to the first of 2 comments. Add a comment

Today's doggie dish is Muzzarati from HotCopper, who presents a delightful mishmash of science, nonsense, politics and drivel all wrapped up in a single post.

Muzza on water vapour

Muzza starts off well enough, if a bit sloppily:

                        Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

Indeed.  As Gavin Schmidt writes here in attributing absorption of long wave radiation:
We find that water vapor is the dominant substance — responsible for about 50% of the absorption, with clouds responsible for about 25% — and CO2 responsible for 20% of the effect. The remainder is made up with the other minor greenhouse gases, ozone and methane for instance, and a small amount from particles in the air (dust and other "aerosols").
At this point, muzzarati could have continued to show off a basic understanding of climate science with something along the lines of:
Unlike CO2, water vapour has a very short lifetime in the atmosphere - a matter of hours to days.  From early human civilisation to the beginning of the industrial revolution, when CO2 was fairly steady at around 285 ppm, the main causes of fluctuations in climate were things like large volcanic eruptions and changes in the amount of incoming solar radiation.    
Now that we've added another 40% of CO2 to the atmosphere, earth is getting hotter.  Warmer air means more water vapour in the atmosphere.  The extra water vapour is what's known as a positive feedback. The more carbon dioxide we put in the air the hotter earth gets and the more water evaporates and the more it can stay in the air before precipitating.  Earth warms not just from the extra CO2 but also from the extra H2O.  Not good!
But no.  Muzza decides to take the low road - to denialism.

Muzza comes to the defense of an inanimate gas

Muzza makes a special plea on behalf of atmospheric CO2, saying it isn't BAD.  P'raps maudlin from too much of whatever is mixed with his Soda stream?

                      Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

I won't quibble over referring to the CO2 absorbed by plants for photosynthesis as 'plant food'.  But 'a life giving gas'? Only if you are a plant.  Try inhaling pure CO2 to see if it's a life 'giver' or a life 'taker'.

Muzza's religious experience

              Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

Muzzarati gives God thanks for creating CO2.  Fair enough if religion is your thing.  We wouldn't be here if not for CO2.  Earth would be a frozen desert.

Muzza on causation and temperature trends

                   Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

Muzza has a senior's moment, forgetful of saying right up front that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.   What greenhouse gases do is absorb some of the long wave radiation leaving the surface, which would otherwise go straight out to space.  Increase carbon dioxide and for a long time you'll get more energy coming in than going out, resulting in global warming. QED. But Muzza does a complete about face and now rejects the science.

As for 'cooling' - the last decade is the hottest in the temperature record.  Here's a chart of global temperatures showing the earth is very much in a warming trend:

Muzza on terminology:

             Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

Yes, climate change is most definitely real and caused by global warming. We see evidence every day.

Muzza probably knows that the term 'global warming' refers to the rise in global average surface temperatures and ocean temperatures.  This heating up of the earth will change climates around the world.  (Or maybe Muzza confuses changeable weather with a changing climate.)

On the other hand, Muzza could be an old dog with a short term memory problem, who thinks this 1975 paper by Wallace S Broecker was published only yesterday: Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?

Finally Muzzarati steps right in the denialist dog poo:

                                                          Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

Muzzarati should take his/her own advice.  Here are a few pointers for free:

Nature Climate Change
IPCC reports
Journal of Climate

And many more besides - perhaps Muzzarati could wander through Google Scholar.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Climate science denier (knee) jerks

MobyT | 6:58 AM Feel free to comment!

Stephan Lewandowsky does research in one of the more fascinating areas of science - human cognition.  In this article on independentaustralia.net, he writes about two different modes of reasoning: rapid reasoning and deliberative reasoning.

Rapid reasoning "relies on relatively shallow analysis of stimuli, which allows us to respond in situations in which time is at a premium".

Deliberative reasoning "requires slow deliberation but is guided by more complex rules".

Lewandowsky writes that: "Arguably, the former may be triggered by emotive stimuli, because emotion may serve as a “stopping rule” for reasoning — in a nutshell, the more emotion, the less deliberation."

Now that's not to say that emotion can't play a useful role in reasoning.  What Lewandowsky was writing about was the tricks some people play to confuse.  For example by triggering an emotion using some word or phrase quite unrelated to the subject at hand in proximity to the topic.  (Many deniers will say they don't accept climate science because of taxation!)

An example of 'rapid reasoning'

I'll stick my neck out here and say that when it comes to some topics, like climate science, there are people whose emotional triggers are so sensitive that they don't get to exercise their 'deliberate reasoning' capability. Here's an example of an emotive reaction - Hanrahan confuses a critique of a book with the 'assassination' of a character. 

Source: HotCopper.com S&M forum

(Tin - or tinnitus, is one of the mildest-mannered most polite contributors to the S&M forum.  He rarely lets the trolls rattle him.  To deniers he's a bad guy because of his science background - and to make things worse, he has an economics degree as well.)

Rapid reasoning vs no reasoning

Using 'rapid reasoning' seems to me to be different to having limited reasoning.  For example, Moondoong in a recent comment here uses the argument that human species survived the last glacial maximum therefore humans will survive global warming.  That's not an uncommon argument from science deniers.  Moondoong goes further than most and talks blithely about humans surviving constant 47C without plants and animals and almost no rain, as if all humankind could still be fed, clothed and housed!

Moondoong is probably right that the human species would survive - albeit in small refuges on the planet - even if the average global surface temperature goes above 4 degrees of warming.  Humans as a species are very adaptable.  But although our species may survive as it survived climate change in the past, most of the world's population probably wouldn't just as it didn't in the past.  (That becomes a 'definitely wouldn't' if we let the earth warm six degrees or more.) 

The argument of 'we'll adapt' is neither rapid reasoning nor deliberate reasoning.  Maybe it's self-deception - trying to rationalise the irrational.

Deliberative reasoning

The average science denier who comments on websites generally leaves their deliberative reasoning behind.  Some professional deniers use it to great effect.  Anthony Watts uses deliberative reasoning, though often too transparently, to tweak his readers' emotional response and get a knee jerk reaction to his latest 'bombshell'.  Many of his readers are so well trained their emotional response acts as a block preventing deliberative reasoning whenever Watts mentions leading climate scientists by name. 

Believe it or not, I didn't even have to search the site.  The latest WUWT article is in response to a post by Greg Laden who listed the top climate stories of 2012.  (Eli Rabett has a poll going on this.) 

The WUWT article is a guest post by Joe Bast of the Heartland Institute in which he tries to justify his equating serial killers with acceptance of climate science, among other things. The article is headed with an image of Peter Gleick's name and uses Gleick's name in the title. (Peter Gleick exposed some of the shenanigans of the Heartland Institute.)  To make sure he gets the 'right' response, Anthony adds a postscript, interpreting Greg Laden's 'about' page as illustrative of a "strange and hateful mind". (If you read Greg's page you'll see Anthony's comment is more an indictment on WUWT readership than on Greg Laden. Greg doesn't pull his punches and his dry humour is lost on climate science deniers.) 

Back to knee jerks.  Here is the second comment to Bast's article - classic WUWT.  Exactly the sort of emotional response Anthony and Joe were hoping for:

The article, the title, the image at the top and Anthony's post script are an example of deliberative reasoning aimed at evoking an emotional response.  In this instance my guess is that it would only work with true denialists.

Further reading

If you want to read more on the subject of emotion and its role in reason, this paper by Muramatsu and Hanoch to which Stephan Lewandowsky linked looks interesting. Neat title: Emotions as a mechanism for boundedly rational agents: The fast and frugal way.

PS Happy 2013 - the millennium has hit its tumultuous teens!