Monday, August 4, 2014

Deluded about the deluded. Do fake sceptics ever check the science?

Sou | 12:49 PM Go to the first of 20 comments. Add a comment

I'm a bit busy at the moment so I'll keep this short. What prompted me to write was the following comment by Jo Nova on her blog. She not only thinks a fake petition meant something, she seems to actually think that wacko deniers are in the majority of the population. Talk about being deluded about the deluded. Joanne Nova wrote (excerpt):
August 2, 2014 at 9:04 pm
....It is testament to how modern science is broken that volunteers collected and verified such a huge list of 31,500 scientists, including 9,000 PhDs and hundreds of professors. And they did it twice. Skeptics vastly outnumber and outrank believers. There is no list remotely close to this, despite there being $45 billion paid by the US government alone since 1989 to fund scientists to find evidence that there is a crisis with carbon.

I know Jo Nova is a crank conspiracy theorist, but even I find it hard to credit that she actually believes that fake petition. (The fakery has been widely documented, for example at Huff Post, RationalWikiSkeptical Science, DeSmogBlogWikipedia and lots of other places.)

It got me thinking. You'll often read on denier blogs people protesting the fact that almost all scientists who study anything remotely relating to climate know that humans are causing global warming. I mean all it takes to confirm that is a flick through Google Scholar.

Do any fake sceptics ever check scientific publications or have they the motto "ignorance is bliss"?

The other thing Jo's comment reminded me of is the fact that fake sceptics don't like to think they are in the minority. They want to bask in the illusion that most people are as deluded as they are. That's despite the contradictory evidence all around them. Even in America, birthplace of denialism, the majority of people know that global warming is happening. Although it must be said that conservative Republicans in the USA are predominately in denial. That's different to moderate Republicans, who have a similar understanding to Democrats and know that global warming is real. (But then these days conservative Republicans in the USA probably think that God created "man" 4,000 years or so ago. The extreme right wing are extremely nutty.)

It might be time for me to read Bob Altemeyer's book again, The Authoritarians. He attempts to explain the strange psyche of people like Jo and her motley lot.


  1. In my opinion JoNova is more a fraud than a crank. She has a science background so it is likely she knows better.

    Being an intentional contrarian guarantees a certain type of audience.

  2. Thanks for the link to The Authoritarians, another for my reading list.

    It dovetails into a description of conspiracy theorists I recently encountered (the true ones, not the trolls or the frauds out to make some money). Conspiracy Theorists appear to be held in thrall by authoritarians and dogma - yet they claim to be open-minded and "free thinkers"! The cognitive dissonance must keep them awake nights...

  3. I know I'm pissing into the wind here but I'll try anyway.

    There is a tendency with most in this debate to conflate and confuse definitions and then draw conclusions that aren't validated by the confused definitions.

    As an example we have assertions that deniers are in the minority because "the majority of people know that global warming is happening". Yet elsewhere we are told that it is possible to be a denier while still accepting that "global warming is happening".

    So how do you know that the a sizable number of those who accept that "global warming is happening" aren't also deniers of CAGW? Its been asserted that most (or all) of the delegates to the recent denier-fest in Vegas accepted that "global warming is happening" and the man was a cause.

    In the survey linked in your post, a bare majority ("Just over half of registered voters (51%)" ) "think that global warming is caused mostly by human activities." So if even a few of those are of the view that the warming is beneficial or nothing to be concerned about, then the deniers are no longer in your asserted minority.

    In the end, it matters not at all who's in the majority. It seemed pretty clear in 2005-7 that the true believers were in the heavy majority. But Gaia didn't take any notice and the hiatus came about nonetheless to break the hearts of the committed and cause some of that majority to doubt the meme.

    Its all very well to ask people what they think and if they're prepared to go along with feelgood statements. When there;s no personal downside people are just as likely as not to say what they think is the accepted and acceptable thing. But ask people to put their hand in their pockets and suffer economic loss or inconvenience in the fight against CO2 and you get a very different response. Not just here in the last election but in Canada, NZ, Japan, and even Germany people are balking at being asked to pay to resolve a problem which seems to be less and less of a problem the more we learn about it.

    In the end, I don't care whether deniers are in the majority or a very small minority. (But I'd suggest that it is the alarmists who seem to be constantly craving reassurance that they are still firmly within the herd) The data and Gaia will do as they will irrespective of the polls. But I'm pretty damn confident now that the fight to get the people to pay for the fight against CO2 is over and the alarmists lost.

    1. Hazym: "
      In the end, I don't care ..."

      Three reasons I don't believe you.

      1. Your very long comment.

      2. Your "But I'm pretty damn confident..."

      3. The amount of denier spam you've regurgitated here the last few days demonstrating your profound ignorance on topics ranging from viticulture to ENSO.

    2. What you were really itching to say is at the end, eh? "The world can warm, we ain't going to pay, therefore you lose"....thanks, never saw that infantility coming. Losing the political battle over timely action on decarbonisation just means that world habitability loses. You are pissing on yourself.

      I just should let you know that 'alarmists' are simply trying to remind you what the science actually says, and why there is a close and widespread agreement among national scientific bodies. Nova runs a million miles from that, deeming an output of crank 'science', paranoid ideation and misdirection sufficient to support her. An appeal to the Oregon Petiton is an admission of intellectual destitution.

      Nova claims that the Oregon Petition proves 'skeptics vastly outnumber and outrank [!] believers'...it simply cannot. The 'petition' is just a ludicrous appeal to authority in the true meaning of that fallacy: an appeal to credentials. No matter to Jo that the credentials are irrelevant to understanding climate science and meteorology. Most of the signatories were batchelor-level medical, veterinary and petroleum industry workers, with plenty of irrelevant engineering types...a large number of people were untraceable, and quite a few were dead...to claim that these people 'outrank' those who work in the atmospheric and earth sciences fields is just stupid and untenable, but that's Jo for you. Not only does she consistently misrepresent the science, but she will misdirect you about a survey.

      Rejectionists realised to look half-plausible to impressionable idiots, they had to concede that the planet was warming, because the physical evidence for warming is indisputable...thus they constructed the "it may be warming but it's anything but CO2" and "natural cycles" campaigns. Then they had to concede that humanity could be a contributor.....but if you look at the original position that organised rejection took, everything was dismissed as fraud and untruth: earth is not warming, data was wrong, records were corrupt, GH effect does not exist, UN plot, etc....many of these retooled rejecters still try to include the paranoid and offensive stuff in with their manufactured plausibility.

    3. 4. The angry denier language, calling people who try to drag his head out of the sand a religion and true believers. It also shows he spends an inordinate amount of time on anti science blogs. Real science makes him angry because it's too difficult for him to contemplate that if we don't change our ways then we are going to make life more and more difficult for future generations.

    4. As soon as I see the word "Gaia" I stop reading - there can be only one sky-spirit and it is CO2.

      Attempting to muddy the waters by trying to confuse AGW with CAGW is a pointless straw man that you contradict yourself in your own post.

    5. "Yet elsewhere we are told that it is possible to be a denier while still accepting that "global warming is happening"

      You gotta love it. Deniers now denying they are deniers. There are different levels of denial.

      But first let's be clear what they are denying.

      This is from the APS.

      "Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.
      The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.
      If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

      This is the science, and it's clear.

      So, the first level of denial (and the most popular going by the comments on WUWT) is that there is no warming happening. That it's those evil scientists 'tampering' and 'adjusting' the temperature record. Meteormike for instance said "Don't believe the cleverly constructed presentations using distorted data from agenda driven groups". Or that there has been a 17 year pause/hiatus in global warming. (Sure, if you cherry pick the start date, only include surface temperatures and ignore the other 97% of the climate system, then yes there 'appears' to be a pause, but if you take the whole climate dataset, there has been significant warming.) Hazym is clearly in the first level of denial when he said "the hiatus came about nonetheless to break the hearts of the committed"

      The second is that there is warming, but it's not anthropogenic. That's it's all part of a natural cycle. It's the sun, it's El Nino, it's cosmic rays, it's the centre of the earth, it's volcanoes, it's UHI, anything except greenhouse gases.

      The third is that there is warming, but it's not a problem. CO2 is plant food and that the warming will make plants grow even better. It's easier to just mitigate the problem.

      The fourth is that we can't solve the problem. That it would involve government intervention, like carbon taxes.

      The fifth and final stage is that it's too late. Let's just let the planet burn and to hell with future generations.

      Just to note that the levels of denial are not mutually exclusive, and it's possible to be in all the stages of denial at once. (I don't know if it's on purpose, to try and confuse, but It's very common)

    6. "But I'd suggest that it is the alarmists who seem to be constantly craving reassurance that they are still firmly within the herd"

      Thanks for that: it gave me a laugh. And the purpose of the Oregon petition is?

      Personally I'd prefer not to be within any herd. I figured out when I was about 13 that most of the kids around me were extraordinarily stupid. At the time I thought they were immature and wondered when they would grow up; but now I know their problem was a defect of character that will remain with them for all their lives: I watch them every day living their high carbon lifestyles, destroying their own children's futures.

  4. "Do any fake sceptics ever check scientific publications"?
    Do their audiences? No. So they don't ever have to and they don't, with total succes.

  5. I'd doesn't really matter what scientists -- or anyone for that matter -- thinks: what matters is the science. And on that the deniers get a big zero regardless of how many people sign a petition or how a statement polls. This is why my usual debate with a denier is to put the IPCC tech report on the table and say "show me where this is wrong, and I'll agree with you." -- Dennis

  6. You've always suspected it, but here is the conclusive proof. At the risk of offending Sou's expletive deleter:

    "Goddard" is a w@nker - https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/statuses/496273016830324738

    He can't even read his own cherry picked Arctic sea ice charts.

  7. " ... the majority of people know that global warming is happening"

    I read the skeptic blogs. The majority of skeptics know global warming is happening. It's likely more accurate to say one of these things about skeptics:


    1) deny the rate of global warming will lead to catastrophe
    2) deny the rate of global warming is outside the envelope of natural variability
    3) deny the validity of some climate model projections, especially those which seem to be "CO2-driven" or give too much weight to CO2 in their calculations or project 5 degrees of warming by the end of the 21st century

    There are more, but these are the basics I read about most often.

    1. #2 & #3 add up to "it's not CO2 but just natural variability", and "just natural variability" means "global warming is not happening" as a long-term trend, i.e. we're just seeing a wiggle. Which is, as said below, BS.

      "give too much weight to CO2" - fact not supported by the evidence (physics), yer honor.

  8. Matt @242 -- Yes, those are the fallback positions once the overall trend is undeniable. The arguments they advance are, of course, purest BS.

  9. When the mainstream looks like this


    and includes players from all walks of life and with so many disparate interests and agendas, maintaining the illusion of not being a crank becomes very difficult.

  10. Jo Nova is totally uncredible.

    There is an interesting test of this that Jo Nova herself set up. On October 17 2012 she spruiked two gold conferences, specifically aimed at buying gold "in the ground" (ie companies with mining rights).


    In Jo Nova's world, currencies are a conspiracy theory that steals from the common man through inflation. Consequently Gold will continue to go gangbusters and people should invest.

    (This is a hard Austrian school interpretation of economics. On a side note, the wikipedia entry on the Austrian school includes criticisms that are surprisingly similar to the climate debate, but I digress).

    Buying gold in the ground is essentially a form of gold futures, with added risk from the specific business you are investing in. Aside from business performance, their price largely goes up and down with the gold price and the expectation of future prices.

    So what happened? Well, October 2012 was the middle of a plateau for gold prices, after rising sharply from a relatively stable period of about thirty years. The price then fell sharply from around US$1,700 per ounce to US$1,300 per ounce. So, assuming all other things being equal, anyone who took Jo Nova's advice would now be more than 20% worse off on their investments.


    I could go on about how dreadfully wrong her prediction was, and should have been obvious at the time, but this says it all really.

  11. "The fakery has been widely documented, for example at Huff Post, RationalWiki, Skeptical Science, DeSmogBlog, Wikipedia "

    Fuck me! some credible sources there Sou! You are beyond parody!

    1. Coming from an anonymous (and vulgar) nobody who seems to think the fake survey was real, or who believes that wacky Jo Nova and the pseudo-science at WUWT is "credible", that opinion isn't worth a brass razoo.

      Just saying.


Instead of commenting as "Anonymous", please comment using "Name/URL" and your name, initials or pseudonym or whatever. You can leave the "URL" box blank. This isn't mandatory. You can also sign in using your Google ID, Wordpress ID etc as indicated. NOTE: Some Wordpress users are having trouble signing in. If that's you, try signing in using Name/URL. Details here.

Click here to read the HotWhopper comment policy.