Saturday, September 24, 2016

Climate Science Denial: A rational activity built on incoherence and conspiracy theories

Sou | 7:51 PM Go to the first of 22 comments. Add a comment
Climate science denial is therefore perhaps best understood as a rational activity that replaces a coherent body of science with an incoherent and conspiracist body of pseudo-science for political reasons and with considerable political coherence and effectiveness.

That is the closing sentence of a new paper called: "The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science: simulating coherence by conspiracism". Great title! The work is by Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, Dr John Cook and Professor Elisabeth Lloyd. It's another wonderful read about the lack of coherence in the arguments put forward by climate science deniers as their reasons for rejecting mainstream science.

"Something must be wrong". Four words. "Something is wrong". Three words.

Do either of the above have any meaning on their own? Not really. However they do invite questions.

Do they mean the same thing? No. The first sentence with the "must be" is merely an expression of disbelief. The person saying it might look further to see if they can find if something is wrong, and if so, what is wrong, but may not. The second gives the impression that something is definitely wrong and the person saying it knows what is wrong - and will be able to tell you what it is.

"Something must be wrong" is number 5 of seven characteristics of conspiracist ideation of from the paper, Recurrent Fury. The authors demonstrated how conspiracy theories evolve in the climate conspiracy blogosphere. (I've written a lengthy article about the even more lengthy paper here.)

The seven characteristics used as criteria for assessing climate conspiracy theorisation were:
  1. Nefarious Intent or Questionable Motives (QM): Assuming that the presumed conspirators have nefarious, or at least questionable, intentions. 
  2. Persecuted Victim (PV): Self-identifying as the victim of an organised persecution.
  3. Nihilistic Skepticism or Over-riding Suspicion (OS): Refusing to believe anything that doesn't fit into the conspiracy theory, which in turn can be any hypothesis that can be described as conspiracy ideation. It doesn't have to be a grand conspiracy theory.
  4. Nothing occurs by Accident (NoA): Weaving any small random event into the conspiracy narrative.
  5. Something Must be Wrong (MbW): Switching liberally between different, even contradictory conspiracy theories that have in common only the presumption that there is something wrong in the official account by the alleged conspirators.
  6. Self-Sealing Reasoning (SS): Interpreting any evidence against the conspiracy as evidence for (or of) the conspiracy.
  7. Unreflexive Counterfactual Thinking: These included several hypotheses that were "built on a non-existent, counterfactual state of the world, even though knowledge about the true state of the world was demonstrably available at the time".
In a moment, I'll go through the "thoughts" under Eric Worrall's article and see how many of the characteristics are in evidence, and which ones are favoured. First, though, let's look at Eric's article.

The incoherence of climate science denial and the simulation of coherence

Eric Worrall was writing about this new paper but was compelled to misrepresent it, maybe to get past the gatekeepers at WUWT. (Do you like that conspiracy theory?) The paper wouldn't be at all palatable to science denying conspiracy theorists:
In this article, we broaden the enquiry of conspiracist ideation to an analysis of the (pseudo-) scientific arguments that are advanced against the scientific consensus on climate change, and how they contrast with the positions of the scientific mainstream.
As the authors wrote in the abstract (which Eric posted at WUWT in full, the bolding is from Eric):
...people who reject the fact that the Earth’s climate is changing due to greenhouse gas emissions (or any other body of well-established scientific knowledge) oppose whatever inconvenient finding they are confronting in piece-meal fashion, rather than systematically, and without considering the implications of this rejection to the rest of the relevant scientific theory and findings. Hence, claims that the globe “is cooling” can coexist with claims that the “observed warming is natural” and that “the human influence does not matter because warming is good for us.” Coherence between these mutually contradictory opinions can only be achieved at a highly abstract level, namely that “something must be wrong” with the scientific evidence in order to justify a political position against climate change mitigation. This high-level coherence accompanied by contradictory subordinate propositions is a known attribute of conspiracist ideation, and conspiracism may be implicated when people reject well-established scientific propositions.
The paper was about how science deniers oppose climate science in a piecemeal fashion. They aren't systematic and don't consider what their bits and pieces mean for other knowledge - scientific or just plain fact. Take these typical denier claims, for example (not from the paper):
  1. Saying that CO2 hasn't increased flies in the face of observations taken all around the world that show that atmospheric CO2 has risen by more than 40% in the past 150 years. 
  2. Saying that atmospheric CO2 has increased but "it's natural" means that the person rejects basic chemistry (burning hydrocarbons produces CO2). It also requires identification of a source for all that CO2, and why it suddenly started being emitted from that source. 
  3. Saying that atmospheric CO2 has increased but it comes from ocean outgassing ignores the chemical reaction of burning hydrocarbons, and ignores the huge body of evidence that the oceans are absorbing way more CO2 than they are releasing. It also neglects to explain why the oceans would have suddenly started to emit all that CO2.
  4. Saying that the oceans are emitting more CO2 because they got warmer brings the denier back full circle. They need to explain what caused the oceans to suddenly heat up. They also need to explain how this can be, when the measurements clearly show that oceans have been absorbing more CO2 than releasing it.

Eric clearly took issue with the statement in the abstract that it is only at a highly abstract level that one can hope to achieve any coherence between mutually contradictory notions. For example (not from the paper), "it's not warming" may be rationalised by deniers arguing that:
  1. the data is faked (on no evidence except they read it somewhere on a denier blog), and
  2. urban heat island (the data cannot be assumed as faked if it is argued that it is showing the urban heat island effect), and
  3. it's El Nino (again, the data cannot be assumed as fake if it is argued that it is showing warming from El Nino).
At the highly abstract level, the three above statements have some coherence "it's not warming". In the detail, there is no coherence between statement a and statements b and c.

The paper gives more extreme examples. A former geology academic, Professor Ian Plimer, wrote in the same book that in past warming events plant species shifted into higher (cooler) latitudes and this would be expected in future warming events. Elsewhere in the book he wrote that plant species "will not feel the need" to move into cooler regions if it's warming now. (Let's not dwell on the feelings and thought processes of plants.) He also wrote in his book Heaven and Earth:
  • “CO2 keeps our planet warm ....” p. 411
  • “Temperature and CO2 are not connected.”  p. 278
These logically incoherent positions are typical in the deniosphere.

Eric Worrall's straw man

Instead of exploring what was in the paper and in the abstract that he quoted, Eric Worrall decided to build a straw man. (Logical fallacies are Telltale Technique No. 2 of climate science denial.) Let's put the statement that Eric bolded on top of what Eric wrote beneath (my bold):

Lewandowsky16: Coherence between these mutually contradictory opinions can only be achieved at a highly abstract level, namely that “something must be wrong” with the scientific evidence in order to justify a political position against climate change mitigation. This high-level coherence accompanied by contradictory subordinate propositions is a known attribute of conspiracist ideation, ...

Worrall WUWT: This has got to be one of the most ridiculous claims Lewandowsky has ever promoted. “Something is wrong” with the current theory is a perfectly valid scientific position. A demonstration that a theory is useless at prediction does not have to be accompanied by a settled alternative theory – simply demonstrating that the current theory is wrong is enough.

Here is some of the illogic.

The Lewandowsky16 authors wrote that any coherence in the denialist position that "something must be wrong" can only be achieved at a highly abstract level. ("Something must be wrong" refers to a characteristic of conspiracist ideation, signalled by the quotation marks). Eric built a straw man. He refuted a position that the authors didn't take. He turned what they did write into claiming, wrongly, that the authors argued that to say "something is wrong" is not a valid scientific position. (Scientists often work through trial and error, identifying that something is wrong, and figuring out what it is, and correcting it.) 

Lewandowsky16 said nothing about the need for a settled alternative theory being required to demonstrate that another theory is useless at prediction. That was Eric building a straw man. What the authors did point out was (my emphasis):
People who oppose this scientific body of knowledge because the implications of cutting GHG emissions—such as regulation or increased taxation—threaten their worldview or livelihood cannot provide an alternative view that is coherent by the standards of conventional scientific thinking.
This is not the same as demonstrating that a particular theory is useless at prediction. For example:
  • The greenhouse effect predicts that if greenhouse gases are increased in the atmosphere, and all else is equal, then the planet will warm. They have increased and the planet is warming as a consequence. The evidence is consistent with physics.
  • The hypothesis that atmospheric CO2 is increasing from ocean outgassing, and not from burning fossil fuels, is useless for prediction because the two premises are wrong. Neither of them is supported by evidence.

So, empty words and armwaving from Eric Worrall. Either he didn't understand what he copied and pasted, or he did and his logical fallacy was the best he could come up with as a rejoinder.

Eric as the persecuted victim

There's more. Eric took it on himself to imply that this paper was a psychiatric assessment of science deniers. It wasn't. That's just Eric playing the "persecuted victim". He wrote:
The increasingly frantic efforts to “medicalise” criticism of climate orthodoxy has taken a new turn, with a claim that theories cannot be disproven in of themselves. Theories can only be disputed by people who can provide a settled alternative theory.
Again, there are two things wrong with this paragraph. First, as I said, the paper is not a psychiatric assessment. (Is Eric projecting his personal fears?) There is no effort to "medicalise". It's essentially a paper about logic and reason and their corollaries (and was published in a philosophy of science journal, Synthese).

The second thing wrong is the same as before. Eric misrepresented the argument about the incoherence of arguments put forward by science deniers, claiming that it was something else. Eric claimed, wrongly, that the authors were arguing that theories can only be disproven by people who can provide a settled alternative theory. They didn't. The word "settled" does not appear in Lewandowsky16. The authors do give several examples of contradictory arguments put forward by deniers, as examples of the lack of coherence.

Eric's argument is wrong because his depiction of what the authors wrote is way off beam. It's also wrong because, despite Eric playing the "persecuted victim", the paper isn't a medical paper and advances no medical theories.

From the WUWT comments

What about the WUWT comments? Well, as you'd expect with the comments under any article at WUWT, but especially an article about a paper by Professor Lewandowsky, there was oodles of conspiracist ideation and incoherence. What is telling is that so far I've not seen anyone comment on the paper itself. The comments are mostly about Eric's straw man and declarations of climate science denial. Avoiding the research is understandable. The paper would pose a serious threat to the world view of most readers of WUWT.

SMC got the ball rolling with this gem:
September 23, 2016 at 6:07 pm
This sounds like somebody trying to deflect and pin the blame for their failures on their opponents. Pretty standard stuff for socialists. It’s always somebody else’s fault. It never works, for very long, unless you have an oppressed populace. Even then, the populace knows the accusers are full of fecal matter, they just aren’t willing or are unable to do anything about it. Why do the socialists always think people are too stupid to think for themselves (other than it helps them to gain or keep power)?
Let's look at that in the context of conspiracy ideation in general and this new paper:
  1. It starts with an unsubstantiated claim about "failures". This claim flies in the face of all the evidence. The authors are each highly respected in their fields, very successful in their careers, and have won awards and recognition in their own fields and beyond. Thus this is probably a good example of "unreflexive counterfactual thinking".
  2. "Pretty standard stuff for socialists" reeks of the "nefarious intent" characteristic of conspiracy ideation.
  3. The question about people being too stupid to think for themselves is another case of "persecuted victim". First of all, that claim is nowhere in the paper. Secondly, some people do seem to be unable to think rationally when it comes to anything related to climate science - the evidence is there in the comment.

ptolemy2 has a "thought" along the same "nefarious intent" lines as SMC.
September 23, 2016 at 6:08 pm
Lewandowsky is now ensconced in a sinecure in the British city built on wealth from slaves and tobacco, Bristol, and now with the full weight of Britain’s academic Marxist and ecofasc1st establishment elite behind him, makes his announcement with creamy smugness that the laws of logic and epistemology have just changed at his imperial command.
In this case:
  1. "Nefarious intent" is imbued in this "thought". What a dastardly fellow is Professor Lewandowsky to work at Bristol University, a den of tobacco-smoking slave-traders who are at the same time Marxists, ecofascists, and royalty (imperial) with the backing of the "establishment elite" in Britain (who are generally considered to be ideologically conservative).
  2. Apart from this being irrelevant, the big logic fail is the implication that everyone who lives in Bristol supports slavery and tobacco, and therefore the lead author is supported by Marxist and the conservative (ecofascist) British establishment elite. Plus he has the characteristics of royalty. I'll leave you to ponder the incoherence of these juxtapositions.

Jeff Norman ignored what the authors wrote. Instead he decided to build on Eric Worrall's straw man. That's how recursive fury works.
September 23, 2016 at 6:19 pm
Let’s extrapolate their suggestion… say the police have a theory that a person committed a crime. Their supposition rules out the possibility of reasonable doubt. Interesting that they suggest insane acceptance over rules reasonable doubt. Anyone with reasonable doubt must be pathological.
In this comment,
  1. Jeff's argument is built on a wrong premise and is a logical fallacy. The authors didn't claim that insane acceptance overrules reasonable doubt. That's a straw man built on top of Eric Worral's straw man and the opposite of what the paper was about. (One of the points is that denier arguments are contradictory, conspiratorial, incoherent, and without facts to support them. To believe the body of denier memes isn't a sign of insanity - it's a sign of human fallibility.) 
  2. Nor does the paper discuss pathology or even hint at it. That part shows signs of the "persecuted victim" (anyone with reasonable doubt must be pathological). 

David combines a "leftist" conspiracy theory with an anti-semitic taunt (the three brackets):
September 23, 2016 at 6:22 pm
So their position is that the world must comply with demands because the world doesn’t think it’s even an issue worth wasting time on….
Good lord these (((leftists))) are stupid…
I can't make head or tail of what David is thinking. The comment does reek of "nihilistic skepticism or over-riding suspicion". 

CheshireRed decides that this work is politically motivated activism. If you look behind his "nefarious intent" theme, what he seems to be arguing is that incoherence and contradicatory positions are allowed. (These are not only allowed at WUWT, they are pretty well mandatory.)
September 23, 2016 at 6:31 pm
When that pair of clowns try to project their own T&C’s into the debate in order to fix what is or is not ‘allowed’ then it’s abundantly clear they’ve strayed a long way from neutral science and straight into politically-motivated activism. Point, laugh, ignore.
I'm guessing that CheshireRed's T&C's means "terms and conditions". He or she is also building a strawman based on a position that the authors are motivated by "nefarious intent" (of setting rules). To interpret a logically laid out argument supported by evidence as setting rules for what is or is not allowed suggests a distinct lack of confidence in one's own position. It suggests that CheshireRed regards these authors as authorities on the subject. It brings to mind Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians, in which he describes right wing authoritarian followers as being distrustful of any normal authority to an almost paranoid extent.

buckwheaton describes his dilemma, with his ideology conflicting with what he regards as one of the main policy solutions to climate change. His solution is to reject the science. He seems to prefer that to coming up with solutions that are not in conflict with his ideology.
September 23, 2016 at 6:31 pm
“…namely that “something must be wrong” with the scientific evidence in order to justify a political position against climate change mitigation….”

How am I to react when the net result of the policy changes that advocates of “climate change” demand all converge on socialistic solutions? That these solutions all have the effect of reducing liberty, suppressing prosperity and justifying vastly increased government powers? It is no surprise when what passes for “science” always justifies this course of action and none of it calls this direction into question.

As for something being wrong, where I presently sit while I write this reply was under more than 1000 feet of glacial ice in the recent past. That ice melted. So, of course the climate is changing. It is continually changing. So what am I denying? I am denying that human activity has changed the climate in a harmful and material way.
In this "thought" there is:
  1. "nefarious intent" - climate scientists and the people who accept it are are motivated by a desire to impose socialism, reduce liberty, suppress prosperity and increase the power of government. No mention of a desire to protect humanity and all life on the planet, or the fact that people and governments of all political persuasions accept mainstream science.
  2. a logically fallacious argument. The fact that climate changed in the past is not evidence that humans are not causing climate change in the present.

Tom Halla, as usual, can think of nothing sensible to add, so he opts for some silly and misplaced name-calling. Having a paper published in an academic journal is not generally regarded as trolling. I don't know what political change he thinks the authors are afraid of. Maybe it's to do with the upcoming elections in the USA. (Only one of the authors lives in the USA currently.)
September 23, 2016 at 6:41 pm
Perhaps Lewandowsky and Cook are fearing political change, and doing their best try at a new career as trolls.

Bob decides to attack the premise that one of the important aims of scientific research is to develop a coherent body of knowledge that gives a robust explanation of how the universe works and is consistent (not having contradictory explanations):
September 23, 2016 at 7:21 pm
Low: “Science strives for coherence”.

Where is this man’s head? Science does not strive for anything. Science is not a thing, or a goal. Science is a process designed to reveal physical truth. Period. Coherence has nothing to do with anything, unless you are in laser science. There is no need to have multiple theories, or even multiple experiments to be the same to determine scientific truth. There is only one standard, and that is your theory/hypothesis/experiment must be validated with real world data not yet seen, or used to construct the experiment.

Add to dictionary [Lewindowsky (sic)] self-serving contradictions explain why over 80% of psychology studies are wrong. Psychology as represented by Lewindowsky is not science, and, indeed, seems to be the hangout for present day phrenologists.
This seems to be to be an example of incoherence. First of all Bob seems to be arguing that coherence isn't an aim of scientific research. Then he hints at a contradiction, arguing that multiple theories aren't necessary implying that coherence in scientific theories is important.  At the same time he is saying that multiple experiments pointing to different (and contradictory?) explanations can each determine scientific (presumably different or contradictory) truths. And in the next sentence he argues that a theory or hypothesis must be validated with real world data "not yet seen". If you can see any coherence in Bob's argument, do tell.

Next, without any further explanation, Bob decides that the statement "Science strives for coherence" is a self-contradictory explanation. Perhaps he thinks he's shown that science doesn't strives for coherence.

Then there's "something must be wrong". He concludes arguing (illogically) that this paper is wrong because he read somewhere on the internet that "over 80% of psychology studies are wrong". The paper is not a psychology paper, it is in a science philosophy journal.

In short, Bob shows no sign of having read the paper, and no explanation other than arguing that it is not an aim of science to develop coherent theories of how the universe works. (He doesn't say what he thinks scientists aim for except for (an incoherent?) scientific truth.)

Nick Stokes comments on Eric Worrall's strawman argument, pointing out that no-one at WUWT has yet demonstrated that any of the theories underpinning climate science are wrong:
September 23, 2016 at 7:40 pm
A demonstration that a theory is useless at prediction does not have to be accompanied by a settled alternative theory – simply demonstrating that the current theory is wrong is enough.

Yes, if you can do it. But despite almost daily claims here of nails in coffin etc, that hasn’t happened. And despite the pronoucements here that “the burden of proof is on…”, it isn’t. People want to know what is happening. They don’t impose any particular burden of proof – it’s just an issue to be understood. And there the rule is – it’s hard to beat something with nothing. People are looking for the best available explanation.

davidmhoffer doesn't see a need for any scientific research into climate, from the look of this "thought". Does he think the world knows all there is to know, or does he not place any value on knowledge at all? (Does he look up weather forecasts?):
September 23, 2016 at 8:21 pm
People are looking for the best available explanation.
What needs explaining Nick? What is happening on planet earth from a climate perspective that needs explaining?

BallBounces can't figure out why coherence is important in science. He probably would be quite content to simultaneously entertain notions like "the world is flat" and "the world is round"; and "gravity exists" and "people float up into space all the time, there's no force binding them to earth". (Does he know the paper was published in a science philosophy journal?):
September 23, 2016 at 7:41 pm
An assumption of coherence sounds more like philosophy than science. Why assume coherence?

Leo Smith picks on a notion that he thinks was "proved" based on something he read on a climate conspiracy blog, not in any scientific publication.
September 23, 2016 at 7:56 pm
high-level coherence accompanied by contradictory subordinate propositions = a theory of positive feedback and no predicted hotspot found.
Ergo, by Lewandowsky, AGW shows clear signs of being loaded with ‘attributes of conspiracist ideation’
Lord, but the boy does bullshit most bafflingly
Never in the field of pseudo scientific pretension has so much polysyllabic piety been presented by such a precious little prick
Here are some points about Leo's incoherent comment:
  1. His first sentence is a muddle and wrong. The "predicted hotspot" is about how the rate of warming in the upper troposphere increases more than warming at the surface, when there is warming at the surface (from any cause, not just greenhouse warming). It's related to the moist adiabatic lapse rate when the surface warms (read about it). 
  2. His second sentence does not follow. Even if his denier website was right about the lack of evidence of his "predicted hotspot" (he's not), that result on its own wouldn't constitute a conspiracy theory.
  3. The rest is mere name-calling. I guess he couldn't think of anything else to write.

J.H. sets out what he or she regards as a "coherent world view". That is quite simply expressed as "it's natural". Personal incredulity is an argument from ignorance. It is a logical fallacy and does not disprove the mountains of evidence that humans are causing global warming. It would appear that explaining the "natural" is not something that J.H. is interested in. Nor has J.H. show any indication that he or she knows the first thing about climate science (like the greenhouse effect). Signs of a scientific illiterati.
September 23, 2016 at 8:21 pm
Excuse me, but climate skeptics do “Provide a coherent Worldview”.
The variations of the Climate are Natural. That’s our “Coherent Worldview”. What part of that don’t they understand?
That is the Skeptical standpoint. It’s up to the “Warmists” to show that there is an Anthropogenic effect significant enough to be called “Climate Changing”….. So far they haven’t, nor have they even come close to showing that they understand the climate system in all its complexity, let alone how humans can “Change” it.

Chuck Dolci also didn't bother with what the paper said, and took at face value Eric's strawman. Is Chris blind to words in italics? Incapable of critical reading?
September 23, 2016 at 8:22 pm
What the heck did he say? When you don’t have anything intelligent to say dazzle them with your footwork. In this case, with your academic gibberish. BTW, their argument is nonsense. If you are charged with a crime all you have to show is that you didn’t do the crime. You don’t have to show who actually did it, you just need to show that it wasn’t you.
This shows some incoherence. What Chuck is suggesting is that the argument appears sound (dazzle them with your footwork), but he doesn't understand it (academic gibberish) and yet implies he does understand it by saying "their argument is nonsense".  There's more. He's attacking Eric Worrall's misinterpretation of the paper (aka Eric's straw man), not the paper itself.

References and further reading

Lewandowsky, Stephan, John Cook, and Elisabeth Lloyd. "The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science: simulating coherence by conspiracism." Synthese (2016): 1-22. doi:10.1007/s11229-016-1198-6 (open access)

Lewandowsky, Stephan, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer, Scott Brophy, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, and Michael Marriott. (2015). "Recurrent fury: Conspiratorial discourse in the blogosphere triggered by research on the role of conspiracist ideation in climate denial." Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 3 (1). doi: 10.5964/jspp.v3i1.443. (open access)

Lewandowsky, Stephan, Klaus Oberauer, and Gilles E. Gignac. "NASA faked the moon landing—therefore,(climate) science is a hoax an anatomy of the motivated rejection of science." Psychological Science 24, no. 5 (2013): 622-633. doi: 10.1177/0956797612457686 (pdf here)

The Authoritarians - by Bob Altemeyer

Plimer vs Plimer - chart at SkepticalScience.com (h/t BaerbelW)

From the HotWhopper archives


  1. Poor Chuck attacks the paper using an analogy which serves only to indicate he's as painfully ignorant about the law as he is as about science:

    "If you are charged with a crime all you have to show is that you didn’t do the crime."

    And there was me thinking it was up to the prosecution to show you did it.

  2. I see in the latest comments that A. Scott is particularly upset and incoherent to the point of making up stuff. He has accused the scientists of everything that his fellow deniers do. Remember he's the one that copied the "NASA faked the moon landing" survey and got around 2,000 responses from WUWT-ers IIRC. It was well over 1000 anyway. More than enough to get meaningful results (provided they don't turf the inconvenient responses which Steve McIntyre would want to do). Not surprisingly the results of his survey never saw the light of day, despite numerous requests. It was filched and buried by that chap who demands data from scientists at a time to suit his personal convenience (yes, Steve McIntyre). But Steve hides data that's inconvenient to him. One doesn't have to use much imagination to figure out why.

    Despite all the wacky denier notions at WUWT (even in that very same thread), A Scott denied that deniers reject science, writing: "This is 100% pure, unadulterated, steaming pile of absolute bovine excrement. Skeptics do not DENY the science. They question the conclusions, especially when weighed against the growing body of legitimate, peer reviewed science that credibly refutes the warmist cabals repeated claims" Rationalisation plus! He added:"Skeptics acknowledge the Earth HAS warmed – appx. 0.9 degree C over the last century or so. Skeptics acknowledge there IS a warming effect from increases in greenhouse gases. It would be abjectly stupid to deny that this occurs, as the ‘greenhouse’ effect is what makes and keeps our plant habitable. There are MANY more similar examples – that clearly show skeptics do not deny basic climate science."

    A Scott also wrote: "They know full well the statements they claim to be “contradictory and incoherent” are neither." So saying in the same book that CO2 warms the earth and it doesn't, is not contradictory? Hmmm...

    I won't bother with A Scott's long diatribe against the moon landing paper. He did try to refute it with his own survey, but obviously couldn't or he'd have let us see the results. His evidence for it being wrong is that conspiracy theorist Steve McIntyre said so (though he can't do the stats), and Tom Curtis didn't like the title.

    1. It would be "abjectly stupid," and there is a lot of abject stupidity on show in this comment thread at WUWT that's not even two weeks old.

  3. Here is a resource we have on Skeptical Science which gets touched on in the paper and the various articles about it. It shows how Ian Plimer is at odds with himself even within the same book and often just a few pages apart:

    Plimer vs. Plimer

    1. Thanks for that Baerbel. I thought of that while writing but it slipped my mind again. I've now added it to the list of references above.

    2. Also, I've often wondered who wrote that book. Was it Ian himself or did he recruit a team of oddbods with no editorial oversight? The stuff in it is not only contradictory and inconsistent, but it's all over the place.

    3. " a rational activity that replaces a coherent body of science with an incoherent and conspiracist body of pseudo-science for political reasons and with considerable political coherence and effectiveness."

      I see-- like reframing IPCC reports as executive summaries.

    4. Got to hand it to you Russel. You are the king of meaningless rhetoric.

    5. Well, I don't know; on a thread featuring both Russell and Willard (of neverendingaudit, not WUWT) it's always a, um, toss up. What's the point? Often, there isn't one, but there's always the opportunity to appear 'clever'...

    6. I am currently learning all I can about dark matter and dark energy. It seems I am doomed to never finding out. I most probably will die before some smart young woman works it out.

      Meanwhile here is a most disturbing video for all of you that think we can really know.


      I personally think the Universe is a quantum computer that is self generating its own existence. We are merely its dreams. Bert

  4. Deniers _ in denial of reality; in denial even of what they say. They believe in the science, but the science has been corrupted; the earth has warmed, but you can't trust the data which has also been corrupted by NASA. Even though you can't trust the data as a whole, you can trust the bits that show a pause. These people have been so brainwashed that there's no way they can be reasoned with. On a smaller scale you see this type of psychological affliction in people who've joined religious cults. The funny thing is, these idiots are so lacking in self-awareness, they'll accuse climate science of being a religion.

  5. Ned Nikolov just did the "I believe in two contradictory things at the same time, but as long as both allow me to deny anthropogenic impacts, that's just fine!"

    On Tallbloke's site there's an interview Nikolov gave to a Washington Post reporter, and first Nikolov claims the warming is due to changes in cloudiness, lag one year, with those changes in cloudiness due to changes in galactic cosmic rays...and then a few moments later he refers to an interesting paper by one Arthur Viterito that according to Nikolov really makes it impossible for anthropogenic impacts. Slight problem: that paper proposes a major impact of geothermal flux changes, with a lag of TWO years.

    So, which of the two is it, Ned Nikolov? The GCR => cloudiness => temperature relationship, or the geothermal flux => temperature relationship?

    1. Nikolov again? I would have thought that he'd never show his face again after the not-even-wrong "unified theory" of planetary temperature he came up with. But I'll bet Gerlich and Tsheuschner are still saying stuff too, unless one or both has shuffled off this mortal coil.

    2. Well, he ultimately got a paper published (and then retracted for still-unclear reasons) on that unified theory.

    3. Hi Marco,

      I have interacted a lot with Arthur Viterito. His proposition that the impact of geothermal flux on surface temperature was based on assumed correlation between seismic activity and geothermal flux. However, there are no global data showing how much the average geothermal flux has increased since 1979. Viterito agrees with me that we do not have empirical evidence about the direct effect of geothermal flux on global temperature, but we DO have observational evidence about the reduction of cloud cover and the increase of surface solar radiation between 1979 and early 2000s. Based on this, I said the following to the WP reporter (see A9):

      "The observed statistical link between global temperature, cloud cover, and seismic activity points towards possible electric or electro-magnetic effects of the Sun upon the entire Earth-atmosphere system, which are currently unbeknown to science. This is an unchartered territory, where future research efforts should focus."

      So, there is no discrepancy my conceptual understanding of climate change forcing!

    4. The high correlation between changes in seismic activity and global temperature discovered by Viterito (2016) does NOT prove that geothermal heating has been responsible for the observed warming for the past 35 years. However, it DOES strongly suggest that the recent warming has no human causes!

    5. "The high correlation between changes in seismic activity and global temperature discovered by Viterito (2016) does NOT prove that geothermal heating has been responsible for the observed warming for the past 35 years. However, it DOES strongly suggest that the recent warming has no human causes!"

      Does it also suggest how the very well validated physics of 'greenhouse' gas forcing is not at all involved in contemporary warming? Or are you going to suggest that the increase in atmospheric CO₂ also "has no human causes"?

    6. Ned, I quote:
      "Further indication that the 20th Century warming was most likely caused by natural forcing is provided by this rather interesting study of Viterito (2016), who found that global temperature variations since 1980 were highly correlated with global seismic activity, which is a source of geothermal heat. The author reports that seismic activity precedes temperature changes by 2 years. These results strongly suggest that the observed warming over the past 35 years could not possibly be due to anthropogenic factors."

      You only quote the paragraph after that.

      Your second response shows me that you suffer from confirmation bias. Viterito's 'study' does not even describe how he tried to correlate the data to the CO2 data. You do know there's a logarithmic correlation, right? Everything indicates he used CO2 concentration, as such. If correct: FAIL!
      To add injury to insult, he managed to cite Watts' self-rebutted report about the surface stations, and then just averaged the two satellite records - one of which is still unpublished and has changed multiple times since. Add the error bars for that average, and suddenly all that correlation changes character. A lot. No surprise it managed to sneak its way into an OMICS journal: "you send paper, we do some token 'peer review', you pay, we publish."

  6. Contradictions hypnotize. They are instrumental to the merchants of doubt.

  7. WUWT has a guest posting by David Legates entitled “The Experiment: Capitalism versus Socialism”

    The comments there are a classic case of Lewandowsky's self-generating data collection technique. The new Lewandowsky, Cook & Lloyd paper mentions the research that the more rabid free-market advocates reject the idea of climate change. And do these valiant commentators leap to support the thesis!

    Their grasp on history and economics may be a bit shaky but they try.

    1. a rhetorical question I know, but why do they always bring politics/economics into it

      even when the posts start with "science", the comments descend into all sorts of "commie, socialist, liberal, lefty" nonsense faster than it takes to say "trace gas"


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