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How to Avoid the Truth About Climate Change

Posted on 13 November 2011 by bbickmore

This is a re-post from Barry Bickmore's blog.

I gave a talk called “How to Avoid the Truth About Climate Change” for the College of Science and Health at Utah Valley University.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with me, I am a Republican and a geochemist who, until a few years ago, was quite skeptical about the idea that humans are causing significant climate change.

In the presentation, I briefly talked about how I had made the transition from being a climate change “skeptic” to being an outspoken advocate of mainstream climate science.  I then discussed how it is that people like me can so effectively avoid the truth about climate change.

Please pass this video along!  I am actually writing a book with the same title, but there’s no way I can get it published before the Republican primaries.  Hopefully this kind of thing can influence a few people toward the center on this issue.

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Comments

Comments 1 to 38:

  1. Oh yes, they are definitely "trying too hard to avoid the truth".
    Good job Barry, thank you for sharing your lecture.
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  2. I can't recommend this enough for a certain moderate or conservative in your life who has been deceived. I think the tone is perfect for that type...
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  3. Dr Bickmore... IMO you are hitting on exactly the right issue. It's one thing when Chris Mooney writes his book on why conservatives have a hard time accepting science. It falls on deaf ears with regards to the people who most need to understand the challenge. When a conservative such as yourself writes a book on this topic it's a different matter. It means more of the people who need to be reconsidering their position will actually be able to hear what's being said.
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  4. This video is excellent. If you can't get a book out in time, at least consider distributing the presentation around.
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  5. I don't suppose there's any chance of a transcript or a podcast? This sounds bang on topic for a group I'm working with, but my crummy wireless broadband choked at about the 3rd minute and wouldn't get through this even at 3am. I usually just sigh and pass videos by, but this time... ???
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    Response:

    [DB] Over at Barry's blog Anna Haynes has posted her notes from the presentation, if that helps.  Look at the November 11, 8:46 pm mark.

  6. Susanne, Barry's more likely to see this on his blog (linked up top). Inquire there, he's very accommodating and could probably email you his PowerPoint slides or something...
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  7. Susanne,

    Double-click the video to load the full youtube page.

    Copy the youtube link.

    Go to Keep Vid.

    Download the video and watch it uninterrupted.
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  8. Thank you people. that's what I call rapid response :)
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  9. Barry's presentation is so invaluable, because it talks to those people who don't necessarily have time to learn the scientific details (as most of us visiting SkS do) but still want to understand the issue of the denial we are facing. The couple of proofs given here, perfectly complements the presentation by Richard Milne, recently posted by John here. These two presentation are now my handy resources of arguments while talking to my 'skeptic' friends. I feel like the world of denial is opening now. Thanks again, Barry. Good luck with your book.
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  10. Does a geochemist qualify as a climate scientist?
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  11. 10, Pirate,

    Is there a point to your question?
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  12. You don't have to be a climate scientist to acknowledge the validity of anthropogenic global warming anymore than you have to be a biologist to acknowledge the validity of evolution.
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  13. Best video on Global Warming I've ever seen.

    Nemesis, Punisher of Hubris.




    Νέμεσι πτερόεσσα βίου ροπά,
    κυανώπι θεά, θύγατερ Δίκας,
    α κούφα φρυάγματα θνατών
    επέχεις αδάμαντι χαλινώι,
    έχθουσα δ’ ύβριν ολοάν βροτών
    μέλανα φθόνον εκτός ελαύνεις.
    υπό σον τροχόν άστατον αστιβή
    χαροπά μερόπων στρέφεται τύχα,
    λήθουσα δε παρ πόδα βαίνεις,
    γαυρούμενον αυχένα κλίνεις.
    υπό πήχυν αεί βίοτον μετρείς,
    νεύεις δ’ υπό κόλπον όφρυν αεί
    ζυγόν μετά χείρα κρατούσα.
    ίλαθι μάκαιρα δικασπόλε
    Νέμεσι πτερόεσσα βίου ροπά.
    Νέμεσιν θεόν άδομεν αφθίταν,
    Νίκην τανυσίπτερον ομβρίμαν
    νημερτέα και πάρεδρον Δίκας,
    α ταν μεγαλανορίαν βροτών
    νεμεσώσα φέρεις κατά Tαρτάρου.

    In English translation:

    Nemesis, winged balancer of life,
    dark-faced goddess, daughter of Justice,
    who, with your unbending bridle,
    dominate the vain arrogance of men and,
    loathing man’s fatal vanity, obliterate black envy;
    beneath your wheel unstable and leaving no imprint,
    the fate of men is tossed; you who come unnoticed,
    in an instant, to subdue the insolent head.
    You measure life with your hand,
    and with frowning brows, hold the yoke.
    We glorify you, Nemesis, immortal goddess,
    Victory of the unfurled wings, powerful, infallible,
    who shares the altar of justice and, furious at human pride,
    casts Man into the abyss of Tartarus!


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  14. Sphaer @ 11 and Biblio @ 12:
    My point is that Professor Bickmore's credentials would be called into question if his viewpoints differed from the vast majority of commenters on this site.
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  15. @14...This is not about majority of opinions. Global warming is about science and truth and fact, not opinions and subjective arguments. I think we should be using that line with the judge when we are in traffic violation. I guess in a "different" court 90 mph is not considered a violation huh?...
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  16. @Sasquatch/Pirate:

    Why are you posting comments under two distinct user names?
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  17. apiratelooksat50 @14, to my knowledge, nobody on this site has called into question the credentials of any denier except when those credentials have been inflated. We call into question Monckton's credentials when he claims to have been a scientific adviser to Maggie Thatcher, or Watt's credentials when he claims to be a meteorologist (he was a TV weatherman). Beyond that we repeatedly and explicitly call them for bad science, or all to frequently, complete nonsense that they purvey.

    Therefore you have no point, nor a fig leaf to cover what I strongly suspect to have been your real intentions in post 10.
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  18. DrTsk @ 15
    I wholeheartedly agree with you about science and truth and fact. And, I am complete agreeance with Biblio's comment @ 12: "You don't have to be a climate scientist to acknowledge the validity of anthropogenic global warming anymore than you have to be a biologist to acknowledge the validity of evolution."

    I think anyone with a trained mine that can analyze and process data logically is capable of understanding the AGW theory and/or evolution. That would apply to most trained scientists along with a healthy dose of creativity and imagination.

    None of that makes one a "climate expert", however. But, it does validate that other scientists, or engineers, can make valid judgments that have merit. All too often I've seen that discounted based on their viewpoints, political affiliations, or funding sources.
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  19. pirate#18: "anyone with a trained mine that can analyze and process data logically is capable of understanding the AGW theory"

    One requirement you omitted: The ability to put aside one's preconceived notions and ideological agenda. That, unfortunately, is the area that finds many pseudo-skeptics sorely lacking.
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  20. pirate @18, anybody with a logical mind can understand AGW, but not everyone will. Many will be held back by an unwillingness to study, a reliance on non-expert, and ideologically biased instructional material, or by their own ideological biases.

    One reality check on whether you do in fact understand AGW is your level of agreement with experts. In any branch of science it is easy to make mistakes, either through lack of relevant knowledge or because you accept plausible but misleading arguments. The process of science winnows out those arguments, and in doing so expands the knowledge base. Thus science makes its practitioners in a field experts, ie, people who know the easy mistakes to make in a field, and how to avoid them.

    If you disagree with the experts (and you do), odds are it is because you are making one or more of those simple mistakes. What then, are you doing to rectify the situation?
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  21. 19, muoncounter,

    A second requirement that pirate omitted is to take the time to actually learn the disparate parts of the science, rather than to stop short and make an early appraisal based on an insufficient understanding of the science.

    This appears to be particularly true of the heavily Dunning-Krugered among us, who believe that because they have mastered [insert-field-here] they are in turn more qualified to pass judgment on other fields without the same investment of time and energy that earned their standing in [insert-field-here].

    18, Pirate,

    Along those lines... Pirate, we together reached an understanding that, contrary to your initial beliefs, there is no doubt whatsoever that elevated CO2 levels in the atmosphere are purely anthropogenic in origin. Are we ever going to resume our discussion which will help you to understand the rather trivial issue of understanding why CO2 lags temperatures in past records, yet can and will lead temperatures in our current scenario?

    I think that appreciating the breadth and depth of the science is critical to being able to "make valid judgments."

    I'm ready to continue when you are.
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  22. @Pirate #18:

    You state: "All too often I've seen that discounted based on their viewpoints, political affiliations, or funding sources."

    You really need to stop perusing WUWT on a regular basis.
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  23. Sphaerica @ 21
    I've actually been waiting on you. I did take a pause in our communications near the end of swim season, but right after that I e-mailed you and have not heard back. Maybe it went to your spam box, but I truly want to continue.

    Thanks
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  24. Hartz @ 22
    "You really need to stop perusing WUWT on a regular basis."

    Please clarify.
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  25. apiratelooksat50, if you want to avoid the truth about Climate Change (the topic of this post), keep perusing WUWT on a regular basis.
    If you are more interested in facts, evidence and reality, you really need to stop perusing WUWT on a regular basis.
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  26. @Pirate #24:

    Reread my post #22. You're smart enough to figure it out on your own.
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  27. 23, apiratelooksat50,

    Check your e-mail.
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  28. Pirate,

    My qualifications for doing the presentation are as follows. 1) I am a former climate change "skeptic", so I am uniquely qualified to talk about why I changed my mind. 2) I have a PhD in geochemistry, which is very related to a lot of climate science, so when I started looking into the matter it was a lot easier for me than most people. 3) I have actually gone to all the trouble of deconstructing claims by the likes of Monckton and Roy Spencer, and climate experts have told me I did a good job. 4) I am a science educator, so it's my job to explain things that go beyond my immediate expertise.

    That's all. And since I didn't say anything about the science that the vast majority of experts wouldn't agree with, what's the problem? I was merely explaining the current state of the science, like any good science educator would.

    If, on the other hand, I had inflated my credentials, or if I were a non-expert challenging the vast majority of experts, those would be valid things to point out. We can moan and groan all we want about how "science is about evidence, not consensus," and demand that everyone examine all the evidence themselves, and avoid coming to any conclusions before then. But the fact is that consensus does play a part in science (as does evidence,) and people don't have the time or inclination to become experts in every field that affects their lives. Since that is the case, we rely very heavily on expert testimony, so "consensus" would be important for the PUBLIC debate, even if it were not important for the scientific debate.
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  29. Dr. Bickmore,

    Excellent presentation! But what do people think who are not involved in this "debate"?

    My wife (a scientist too) actually happened on your talk while I still had it up for view on the computer and she started watching it (she went back to the beginning). She said that she got 'sucked in'. She found it great to watch and your arguments very compelling. She normally doesn't get overly animated about this sort of stuff, but she and I ended up talking about your presentation for a long time. So your talk really connected with someone who has very little understanding of climate science, but who understands good science.

    So again, thank you for this!
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  30. Dr. Bickmore,

    Very well said!

    I note that the expectation that the average individual can become a self-taught 'expert' - or think they should be able to 'verify' mainstream science in their kitchen - is part of this problem. We have a large part of the population that is told 'you can't trust scientists' and yet they still drive cars over bridges, fly in airplanes and take medications; their electricity works (most of the time) as do their cell phones and computers. If they felt that had to 'verify' any of those disciplines before applying them, their lives would come screeching to a halt.
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  31. Albatross @29,

    I don't know what people think, but one of the people at the university where I gave the presentation said the students around him were either gasping or laughing the whole time. We live in a very conservative area, so odds are that many of those students were conservative, like me. That was about the reaction I was shooting for.
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  32. Hi Dr. Bickmore,

    Thanks. I assume that they were gasping and laughing at the inanity of the tricks and tactics of the "skeptics" that you were speaking to?
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  33. Dr Bickmore:

    A very well-done presentation indeed. I found it quite enjoyable and elucidating.
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  34. Dr Bickmore,

    Excellent presentation, but for myself I thought the missing slide/graph really hurt. If there's any way that you could update the presentation (maybe give it again at another locale) I would recommend doing so.
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  35. Albatross @32,

    I certainly hope so!
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  36. Dr. Bickmore @35,

    Oh I am pretty sure that was the case, at least going by my wife's feedback :) She was astounded by the shenanigans that serial misinformers like Monckton have been up to.
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  37. An excellent talk - give or take the sound quality ;)

    A clear exposition of arguments always gives one room to think... something occurred to me re the Galileo gambit:

    Ignoring the appalling revisionist history of the "Galileo Movement", the point that was made clearly in the talk is that Galileo, and the other astronomers of the time, where trying to match their observations to a 'physics' model, not a Physics model. The Physics model awaited Newton and then Einstein for further refinement. Once we had that, the observations made a lot more sense, 'bad' observations could be spotted more easily, the 'killer argument' data defined.

    There is a parallel, for example, with the "it's natural cycles" brigade and the pure trend / spectrograph analysers. They are doing 'physics' and ignoring the Physics.

    If, in the spirit of charity, one where to lend Galileo to the truth-challenged, for the moment... Then they are identifying them selves with a methodology which connects assumption to observations without intervening Physics insight.

    Worth noting that to accomplish this, many people spend much time trying to undermine the Physics / models etc.
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  38. FAO Daniel Bailey,

    Thanks for the comment at my blog. I'm not really finished on that matter, I'm now looking into what might be causing the positive skew, I have an idea but need to see if there's research that substantiates it. Furthermore as you can see I've done half the usual number of posts - that's due to work pressure (and anyway my ratio of posts to papers read is normally low).

    I will try to make the time over the weekend (barring the risk of forced overtime), but can't guarantee a rapid turnaround. Please feel free to email me: chris886222 at btinternet dot com

    Regards

    Chris R.
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