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Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier?

Posted on 30 May 2011 by John Cook

The ABC Drum have just published my article Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier? Right now, there are no comments but I imagine the discussion will get fierce shortly so be sure to keep an eye on it (expect to see all the traits of denial I describe rear their ugly head in the comments and be quick to point them out). An excerpt:

In the charged discussions about climate, the words skeptic and denier are often thrown around. But what do these words mean?

Consider the following definitions. Genuine skeptics consider all the evidence in their search for the truth. Deniers, on the other hand, refuse to accept any evidence that conflicts with their pre-determined views.

So here's one way to tell if you're a genuine skeptic or a climate denier.

Read full article...

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/img/presenters_sm/robyn_williams.jpgSkeptical Science and our book Climate Change Denial have been popping up elsewhere in the media over the last few weeks. My co-author Haydn and I appeared on Robyn William's Science Show a few weeks ago - you can listen to streaming audio or download the interview in mp3 format. The Science Show webpage also has a transcript of the whole interview.

On the morning of the Sydney book launch, I did an interview with John Stanley from the Sydney commercial radio station 2UE. You can listen to an mp3 of the interview here. Many thanks to 2UE for letting me republish the interview here on Skeptical Science and thanks to John just for having the interview - I wonder how many angry emails he received from 2UE listeners afterwards.

After our Sydney and Canberra book launches (more on that in a future post), Haydn and I returned to Sydney to record an interview with James Valentine at ABC 702. This interview gave us the opportunity to do something I've been looking forward to for a while - respond to talk-back callers. Sure enough, the first caller was a geologist enquiring about past climate change!

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Comments 101 to 150 out of 488:

  1. J. Bob - Your reference to climate4you was, indeed, fascinating.

    Majority of plots 1979 on only, very few instrumental records prior to that, most of those from local areas. Heavy focus on GISP2 (a single ice core, not a global temperature), several Central England temperature records (hmm, seeing a pattern here?), statements such as ""net changes since 1998 appear to be small" (see Did global warming stop in 1998, 1995, 2002, 2007, 2010?)...

    Given the cherry-picking and short term focus, I don't know that I would trust the data or the presentation thereof from that site. It doesn't meet my requirements for presenting all of the data, avoiding cherry-picking, or using realistic periods of time for determining climate trends. I would not consider that a good resource - go to the peer reviewed papers!
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  2. J. Bob - "One might also look at who is doing the articles/papers/data, and who is supplying the $’s."

    That is indeed one of my criteria, J. Bob. Is the data coming from a reputable scientist who regularly publishes peer reviewed works that are well received? Or is the work coming from a "think tank" or other advocacy group, such as the George Marshall Institute, GreenPeace, or the like (particularly from ones who do not disclose their funding)? Because if it's coming from a grant funded scientist, the likelyhood that it's driven by political influence is fairly small. Whereas if it comes from an advocacy group it's inherently biased - towards the positions the group advocates - not driven by the actual science. That is, after all, why advocacy groups exist.

    Advocacy groups works, data, and conclusions are therefore inherently less credible.
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  3. @92, Charlie
    "Over what time period do you think Hansen meant when he discusses "fast" climate sensitivity?"

    Didn't find anything explicit on a quick look (obviously too quick) but my reading is 40-60 years for 'fast'. The common reference to 'in the pipeline' and that current warming is the consequence of CO2 from the 70s.

    Long-term? 100 years more than that.
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  4. Boy, I wish I hadn't been unable to get back to this until now, because I probably could have spared folks some trouble.

    Sphaerica:"There is no middle ground, let alone 24 flavors of middle ground."

    I disagree and find it's useful to at least to myself categorize deniers - it helps me to understand the best approach to discussion. I still think there is hope in discussion with many.

    "Second, I personally think (and by 'think' I mean that everything that I've read and understand about) your own adherence to a mere 2˚C per doubling as a likely or even reasonable possibility is another form of denial. The current consensus is 3˚C or higher, and every new study confirms this while leaning towards the 'and higher' direction.

    There is very little reason to think that 2˚C per doubling is in the mix. Expecting 2˚C is denial."

    I do not personally "adhere" to 2˚C. I was just laying out a person's stated climate sensitivity below which I am going to say denial begins. To me 2˚C is perfectly reasonable as a lower bound to label someone "denier", and is the same as the lower bound of the AR4 estimate of climate sensitivity, and with a few papers even recently (look at BPLs chart by time of major GCM estimates for example). Are you all saying 2˚C is not a reasonable *lower bound* for sane discussion of climate sensitivity to doubling CO2? I'm sorry if my initial post was not clear, but I did say "less than 2"!

    Honestly I'm sorry I even mentioned this, in any case after rolling it around on my tongue I'm not sure I like the word "denier" after all. It is, naturally, name calling. Accurate name calling, but still name calling. From now on I am going to use the more cumbersome, "those who are in denial of the science of climate change" or "those in denial" for slightly shorter. It feels like less of an indictment of the person, and implies my stated belief that some (certainly not all) of those in denial will not always be in denial.
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  5. @103 Adelady says "my reading is 40-60 years for 'fast'" ...
    "Long-term? 100 years more than that."

    The fast response is at 2000 year after CO2 increase. 40-60 years is definitely fast, as is 160 years. The 3C "fast" response quoted by Michael Sweet in #91 is only fast compared to geologic time scales such as CO2 removal by the weathering of rocks.

    The GISS-ER model transient sensitivity after 70 years is 1.5C/doubling of CO2.

    http://ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch8s8-6-2-3.html
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  6. Hmm, looking at previous comments I'd say you were resting your ideas on faith not science. What's the future evidence at which you would decide that you were mistaken instead? For how long do the predictions have to hold? (it's 35 since first model prediction and that holding okay).
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  7. Glenn Tamblyn 61
    "The last vestiges of the Anthropocentric view of the Universe reside in the conservative, individualist personality type."

    Relativity suggests that each person is the center of his own universe. As there might be some truth to AGW, this is not the problem. It comes as a package deal, "deniers" being all those who are not with the program. Thanks to Nature however, humans were created with that individualistic spirit you so much distain.
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  8. 108 RSVP "Relativity suggests that each person is the center of his own universe."

    Possible physics abuse alert!

    Neither the general nor special theorise of relativity do that. You probably mean Relativism
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  9. Utahn,
    I agree. To label someone a denier because they believe the cliamte sensitivity is closer to 2C than 3C is absurd given the large uncertainty and range of sensitivity values. Here is a paper which seems to discount the possibility of high sensitivity (>4.5).
    http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frcgc/research/d5/jdannan/probrevised.pdf
    Funny how the both of us were believed (by other posters) to adhere to a climate sensitivity of 2C just because we would not call them deniers. I looked back at both of our posts, and found nothing that would indicate that either of us adhere to that value, only that we cannot eliminate it from the range of probabilities. Personally, I agree with your assessment of name calling, and will reserve the term, "those in denial" for those who actually think the climate sensitivity is zero.
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  10. les 108
    The "present" goes beyond subjectivity, as it is tied to one's inertial frame of reference. All people on Earth experience this "present historical moment" simultaneously for all practical purposes, however I am technically correct in my statement. It was Glenn Tamblyn who described our natural "anthropocentric view of the Universe" as being archaic, when in fact it is innate and as real as the CO2 we all breath.
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  11. The more appropriate name for this blog post should be Divide and Conquer. Those whom accept GHG physics and data, the reasonable skeptics, need only be convinced of the sensitivities the margins...an easier argument. The others, the "Head in the Sand" type the DENIERS...they need be singled out for ridicule. Those stateside will recognize this same tactic employed by the political left to avoid meaningful debate. This readers, is the Saul Alinsky approach to science. Ironically, the simple fact John Cook deems it necessary to pose the question: Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier? is evidence the only thing melting is once solid support of AGW.

    ( -Ideological diatribe snipped- )
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    Response:

    [DB] Please refrain from the use of all-caps and keep the focus on the science, not on politics and ideologies.

  12. 104, Utahn,
    109, Eric,

    There is a big, big, almost insurmountable difference between saying that 2˚C is at the low end of a range, and saying that climate sensitivity is likely to be 2˚C.

    Anyone who is counting on 2˚C is in denial.

    Anyone who is saying that sensitivity is likely to be in the range of 2˚C-4˚C or 2˚C-5˚C is in denial.

    Giving credibility to those who put forth 2˚C as a likely outcome is very unproductive. It's a (fallacious) argument for BAU.
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  13. (Correction to 112... I meant to say that anyone saying sensitivity is in the 2-4 range is explaining or re-iterating the science).
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  14. 104, Utahn,

    You can organize and label deniers in your head any way you like, but creating and using respectable, common labels for them merely gives them credibility that they do not deserve.

    Deniers are deniers are deniers.

    And I make no apologies if they take it as an insult, which is exactly how they attempt to use the terms "warmists" and "alarmists."

    Deniers are like Holocaust deniers. They are exactly like them. There is a clear, undeniable truth which makes them personally, squirmingly uncomfortable, because it means that their cherished way of life may not be the best way, and in fact may be hurting hundreds of millions of people and destroying the futures of their own beloved countries.

    They can't stomach that and take responsibility for it, or for the future for themselves or others, so they deny.

    That level of selfishness is not mere polite disagreement. It's down right cruel arrogance. Attempts to justify it with RSVP's "individualism" or J. Bob's conspiracy theories or RW1's faux science or any other methods of minimizing or obfuscating the obvious are just sugar-coated arrogance.

    They are deniers, no matter how nicely they'd like to dress it up.
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  15. L.J. Ryan 111
    "Those stateside will recognize this same tactic employed by the political left to avoid meaningful debate. "

    ...but it wasn't so long ago when we were hearing, "yer either fur, r 'ginst us".
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    Response:

    [DB] Let's not descend into the abyssal morass of politics.

  16. 110 RSVP " am technically correct in my statement."

    No. You are philosophically "correct" if you are a relativist - and, personally, I think there's something quite relativist and post-modern in the attitude of some of the more reactionary anti-science brigade. If that's where you at, you are, of course, at liberty to be so.
    Again, that is relativism, not 'relativity' which most folks associate which physics theories and which is nothing to do with anthropocentric views of anything.
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  17. UtahN @104, on this rare occasion I have to disagree with Sphaerica as well. According to the IPCC AR4, it is "likely" that climate sensitivity lies between 2 and 4.5 degrees C per doubling of CO2, with the most likely value being around 3 degrees C. Translated, as the IPCC so conveniently does for us, that indicates a better than 66% probability given the evidence that the climate sensitivity is between 2 and 4.5 degrees. The IPCC also conveniently informs us that it is very unlikely (< 10% probability) that the climate sensitivity is below 1.5 degrees C. Taking these two figures together, that means based on available evidence in 2007, the IPCC could not exclude the possibility that there is a one in twenty chance that the climate sensitivity lies between 1.5 and 2 degrees C. (Note, this is not the same as saying there is a 1 in 20 chance.)

    The point of this is that while 1 in 20 is an epistemic longshot, such longshots often (once in twenty times, oddly enough) come of. Therefore it is rational to pursue them. Somebody who believes the climate sensitivity to be in that range and rationally researches that possibility is not, as a result of that a "denier".

    Having said that, if they are indeed rationally pursuing the possibility of a low climate sensitivity, they must recognise that on available evidence, it is a long shot. They must be aware that they believe the climate sensitivity is low, but that the evidence is currently against them. If they do not recognise that, then they are in denial about the evidence.

    Of course, if they do recognise that low climate sensitivity is a long shot, they will not be recommending governments base their policy on that possibility. They would expect the government to base its policy on the concensus opinion.

    Now I am sure there are such people out there in the scientific community, just as there are people on the other side of the equation; who think the IPCC underestimates climate sensitivity (or the threat of sea level rise, or what have you) but are aware that the evidence does not favour their belief. But I have not met (to my recall) a single person who claims a low climate sensitivity on the internet who does not also either claim that we should not do anything against global warming; or that we should not drop the whole global warming issue from the debate about emissions restrictions (which they purport to support for some other reason, either energy security, of ocean acidification). IN other words, while it is certainly possible to believe in both a fairly low climate sensitivity and not be a denier; the assertion of low climate sensitivity is almost perfectly correlated with denial.

    "Honestly I'm sorry I even mentioned this, in any case after rolling it around on my tongue I'm not sure I like the word "denier" after all. It is, naturally, name calling. Accurate name calling, but still name calling. From now on I am going to use the more cumbersome, "those who are in denial of the science of climate change" or "those in denial" for slightly shorter. It feels like less of an indictment of the person, and implies my stated belief that some (certainly not all) of those in denial will not always be in denial."


    I would see some point in this, except that the denier movement very quickly named themselves "skeptics", and very explicitly did it in order to suggest their greater intellectual integrity than climate scientists, who where very explicitly labelled as not being skeptical. For a while I went along with their self designation, but after a while I could not keep repeating that lie in good conscience. Rather than use a false descriptor in their name, I now use an accurate one - "denier".

    This is just a case of the denier movements rhetorical sins coming home to roost. Had they chosen a neutral name for themselves, there would not be any issue.
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  18. Sphaerica, I'm not really *that* into labels. My initial post was really just pointing out to pirate that 4 out of the 5 proposed categories presented were still in some form of denial.

    Personally, it's not in my nature to label people (maybe it's a weakness). I don't think deniers is inappropriate, but I don't think I can use it. Using that term to me connotes a "lost soul", and while some of the leading deniers are undoubtedly beyond hope, many aren't. But any, however slim, chance of providing information to honest skeptics is likely lost if they are put in one big labeled category. I am also not sure being called a warmist or alarmist makes me feel like I can say "denier".

    So for now I'm going with "those in denial."
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  19. I tend to agree with you Curtis. Although I think your math may be off. I suspect that < 1.5 and > 4.5 will add up to 10% based on a normal ball-shaped distribution (you can argue the distribution curve). That leaves 24% to occur between 1.5 and 2.0 C and 4.5 and 5.0 C combined. Assuming the same bell shape, that leaves 12% probability of a climate sensitivity between 1.5 and 2.0 (almost 1 in 8). Not exactly a long shot, but still not the favorite.
    Those who choose a low value to accommodate their own viewpoints could be classified as deniers. Those who have calculated or researched the science and have determined (difference between chosen) that the climate sensitivity should be low, would not.
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  20. LJ Ryan:

    "Those whom accept GHG physics and data, the reasonable skeptics, need only be convinced of the sensitivities the margins...an easier argument. The others, the "Head in the Sand" type the DENIERS...they need be singled out for ridicule. ... Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier? is evidence the only thing melting is once solid support of AGW."

    In other words, LJ Ryan is a denier who does not accept "GHG physics" (which implies he denies much else known to physicists).

    And RSVP sticks up for LJ, so RSVP? You, too, proudly wear the "denier" label?

    Wake me up when CO2 lasers stop working ...
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    Response:

    [DB] I realize the all-caps was a tit-for-tat, but I warned LJ so I have to warn you also about their use (not about the acronyms, which are fine, but the use of "DENIERS").

  21. I am not sure if this thread is responsible or if some other unaccounted for Natural Variation is at play, but there has been a noticeable decline in the levels of civility on this blog. Much unchecked name calling, labeling, and suggestions of mental deficiency.
    Please mods, stamp this behavior out before it becomes the new norm.
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    Response:

    [DB] Agreed.  Disagreement is fine, but civility is a requirement, not an option.

  22. KR @ 101
    If you dig a little deeper at those two sites, you will find the references to the original data sources, (i.e. HadCRUT, NOAA, GISS, UAH, RSS, etc.). While they are not the end all, they have some good graphics and a simple ref. pt. to get more basic data. The Rimfrost has the option of getting the long term data (200+ years) for inserting into analysis programs. The long term central & western Europe plots I presented in J. Bob @ 52, used this source. It also has some interesting tools such as a quick country average graph ( including Arctica & Antarctica ).

    In my case, use of the original or basic data sources, form the basis of my analysis, in trying to get a picture of just what is going on. While “peer” reviewed papers are nice, I was in the process long enough to be wary of swallowing them “hook line & sinker”. I have seen more then I care for of “grant grabbing”, and how papers can be used as a means to a predetermined non-scientific end.
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    Response:

    [DB] Be aware that the portion I have struck out is an allegation of impropriety and thus a Comments Policy violation.  Commenting here is a privilege, not a right.  Similarly, adherence to the Comments Policy is mandatory, not optional.  Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the policy & ensure that future comments adhere to it.

    Your participation here is valued, but the focus of the discussion needs to stay on the science itself.

  23. Eric the Red @119, the probabilities are 2 to 4.5 > 66%, less than 1.5% < 10%. It is not a normal distribution, with probabilities of high values of the high end tail being greater than that of the low end. Still if it where a normal distribution, the probability of less than 2% or greater than 4.5% would be < 34%. Therefore the probability of less than 2% is certainly less than 17%. Therefore the probability of between 1.5 and 2% is less than 17%-10%, or less than 7%. I rounded that to 5% as a rough allowance for the extended high end tail.

    Those who claim a 1.5% to 2% (of whom there are not many) are pushing the edges of what can be reasonably maintained given available evidence. Oddly there are many more people who would claim a climate sensitivity of 0.5% than those who would claim the far more rational 1.5 to 2%. Or perhaps not so oddly, given the topic of this thread...
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  24. Tom Curtis, I agree with just about everything you said, with the "denier/those in denial" exception noted above. Eric and all, as for the whole 2C cutoff for "those in denial" I'm happy to stop talking about it as it is a small if slightly interesting eddy in the ocean of commentary that Internet threads spawn...
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  25. J. Bob - "If you dig a little deeper at those two sites, you will find the references to the original data sources, (i.e. HadCRUT, NOAA, GISS, UAH, RSS, etc.)."

    Agreed, and I did see those links. The presentation/summary provided on the climate4you site (which I specifically was discussing), however, was rather less comprehensive, and appeared slanted towards a particular point of view, namely that "It's not warming since 1998". It was a very one-sided presentation.

    I by no means consider peer-review a panacea against bad or biased science - I could name a number of people who have produced just such 'gems', and there are threads on this very blog that discuss those. But the review process filters out most junk, and later analysis in the field by those who study it results in citations, support, or refutations. That doesn't happen with advocacy papers, as a rule.

    No one paper stands on it's own. That's why it's important to read more than one paper on a subject before leaping to the conclusion (as so many 'skeptics' have done) that an entire field of study is invalid.
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  26. Sphaerica 77 & dhogaza,
    It would appear from the complimentary remarks, I must have struck a nerve. WUWT, RC etc., may have their views. However, comments like;

    “On another vein, people who suggest that one should look at multiple sources for information are certainly correct, but if those multiple sources include inflammatory, politically oriented, and grossly unbalanced and misinforming sites like ClimateAudit, WUWT, and others... well, you're kidding yourselves. They're fooling you, and you're happily fooling yourselves”.

    might blind one to information within. After all, diamonds come from some pretty dirty places. So while one may not agree with an opinion, sometimes there is information to be had, even from WUWT.
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  27. J. Bob - I thought some of the data on the climate4you site looked familiar. It's run by Ole Humlum.

    See the two threads on Humlum's previous work here and here. His data is heavily cherry-picked to present a particular point of view, which is exceedingly poor science.

    As you yourself have noted, it's worthwhile to consider the presenter and the quality of their scientific endeavors. Sites like climate4you, jonova, co2science, WUWT, ClimateRealists, ClimateAudit, and the like are much less credible as a result - their past work (to put it somewhat politely) stinks.
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  28. J Bob @126:

    While there is some good information to be had from WUWT and the like, it is indistinguishable at source from the overwhelming fountain of crap which is the normal fare. Consequently, to gain useful information from WUWT you need to vet all information back to original scientific papers, and then read peer reviewed review articles, or failing that recent text books, or at a minimum, sites like Skeptical Science of Real Climate so that you can find the other relevant papers so that you don't get conned into cherry picking data.

    Given the effort involved, you would get the same information for less effort by going straight to those review articles, textbooks, or decent websites in the first place. You'll even find out about the information the WUWT crowd really thinks is important (and don't want you to think about anything else) from rebuttals (on the websites).

    It makes as much sense to refer students to WUWT (or allow them to reference it in assignments) as it would to allow students doing an assignment on human exploration of space to reference moon landing conspiracy sites. As it stands, any halfway decent teacher won't even let students reference wikipedia. Why on Earth would they let a student reference WUWT?
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  29. "but the use of "DENIERS"" ...

    DB - that was a copy-paste quote on my part, not my own use of all-caps, just to be clear ...
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  30. J Bob:

    "might blind one to information within. After all, diamonds come from some pretty dirty places. So while one may not agree with an opinion, sometimes there is information to be had, even from WUWT."

    True, if it weren't for WUWT, I'd be unaware that it snows CO2 dry ice in antarctica and other really fascinating things hidden from us by mainstream science ...
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  31. Sphaerica @ 114,
    From a Skeptic, not a Denier:
    While I can appreciate your passion, your vitriolic comments are doing more harm than good for your cause.

    They are offensive in comparing it to Holocaust deniers, incorrect in assuming skeptics don't accept climate change, and unwise because they misdirect rational discourse.

    The result creates a polarization and widens the gulf between believers and skepics. If your goal is to teach - then teach. You have an audience here of intelligent and educated people. Remembering that you and I partially agree, I suspect that you categorize people like me who don't fully agree with you as un-intelligent, and therefore not worthy of your teaching.

    You complained about being mistreated at WUWT, so I would expect that you would treat skeptics on this site with the respect and dignity that you desire.

    In other posts on this thread, I've stated very clearly my position. We differ solely on our perceptions of the predicted results and to what level mitigation efforts should be enacted.
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  32. apirate ...

    "While I can appreciate your passion, your vitriolic comments are doing more harm than good for your cause."

    Somehow I doubt that the laws of physics care at all about vitriolic comments ...
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  33. DB 111

    ( -Ideological diatribe snipped- )
    Response:

    [DB] Please refrain from the use of all-caps and keep the focus on the science, not on politics and ideologies.


    My post is ideological and political. But Sphaerica 114 calling skeptics (Deniers)and then equating skeptics to Holocaust deniers is not ideological not political?

    I suspect you snip based context accuracy and brunt, not as you declared, an objective washing of politics and ideology.
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    Response:

    [DB] Greater leeway is allowed than normal, considering the subject matter of this thread.  The appellation Denier is inherent to this thread, unfortunately.

    Introducing yet more politics and ideologies pushes the thread into a train wreck.

    As to Sphaerica's post, he was relating it into the context of denial of the science, which is the subject of this thread.  The part about the Holocaust was a personal opinion, yet also within the context of this thread, as it is a very common reaction from the skeptic contingent.

    Let's all be civil and compose temperate remarks, rather than typing the first or second things that come into our heads.  Or, like me, I end up deleting my own comments upon further reflection.

    Complaints about moderation, unfortunately, tend to get disappeared.

  34. apirate ...

    "They are offensive in comparing it to Holocaust deniers..."

    this is a comparison that only exists in the minds of tone trolls, the fact that you buy into it is telling.

    Where has anyone here made such a comparison? Who is the only poster here who has made the comparison? That would be you ...
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  35. Oh, I see that Sphaerica has ... I disapprove, actually.
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  36. dhogaza 120

    "Wake me up when CO2 lasers stop working ... "

    Are you suggesting atmospheric CO2 is functionally equivalent to a CO2 laser?
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  37. 131, apiratelooksat50,
    widens the gulf between believers and skepics

    I'd forgotten that one. "Believers." Another trick name to make it look like people who understand the science are somehow indulging a religious faith.

    Let me make it clear. I don't attack individuals (unless they demonstrate clear, unethical behavior, so many deniers do), but I will label the behavior of deniers as such. When someone drifts into denial, or their skepticism comes across as nothing more than a veil to hide their denial, then I will say as much.

    I personally don't care about the feelings of deniers (if you feel the denier label applies to you, then that's your conscience at work, but yes, my sensitivity to the difference between an actual skeptic and a simple denier is a lot lower than yours, I'm sure).

    My take is that deniers don't care about anything except their own money and economic standing. They pretend to have lots of reasons for adopting their position, but in the end it's either greed, anger or ignorance.
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  38. apiratelooksat50 @131:

    1) While the vitriol may do poorly influence the casual reader, the fair minded casual reader will probably be more concerned about the side that sends death threats along with a torrent of vitriol both by email and in blogs;

    2) While possibly concerned at the frustration so evident in Sphaerica's comments, the fair minded reader would have been more concerned by the casual accusations and insinuations of fraud by scientists which have been posted by deniers on this site over the last two days, and which can be found in overwhelming numbers on denier sites, often accompanied with self congratulating posts about how high a standard of debate, and how polite the debate is on those sites. It is noticable that those accusations and insinuations pass without censor from you, while you argue that the websites that started those accusations are good sites for students to use as sources when studying science.

    3) Any chance of reconciliation between climate science and deniers is entirely illusory and has been for some time. This is because the scientists insist on reporting reality, and its reality that the deniers have a problem with.
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  39. dhogaza @ 132
    "Somehow I doubt that the laws of physics care at all about vitriolic comments ..."
    No one implied that. If Sphaerica is concerned about AGW and the goal is to immediately commence mitigation efforts, then it will be up to governments to enact laws to put those efforts into place. Most countries citizens will have to vote. Right now in the US, things aren't looking so good for that in the public perception. Probably be a good idea for you to win some converts to the cause.


    dhogaza @ 134

    Apparently you didn't read Sphaerica's post which plainly stated: "Deniers are like Holocaust deniers. They are exactly like them."
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  40. 135, dhogaza,
    Oh, I see that Sphaerica has ... I disapprove, actually.
    I used to take that stance, until I had the word denier constantly edited from posts on a denial site, while "alarmist", "warmist", and any number of other labels were allowed to stand, and the legions of loyal followers bravely labeled themselves as "skeptics." All the while, their own understanding of the science would have shamed a ten year old.

    Then I started to think about it, and I realized that while the word was never intended to invoke that image, the emotional and culpable similarities are striking. Deniers didn't stumble into open dislike of that particular barb because they were overly sensitive. They stumbled in because, in their hearts, they know that it really does apply.

    I'm a little tired of "playing nice" with people who demonstrate a complete lack of ethics, often accompanied by extreme ignorance. And I'm not sure who's worse, the ignorant who are arrogant enough to think they know better, or those that know better and yet willfully, consciously play fast and loose with the facts to maintain the illusion of serious denial.

    When someone acts like a real skeptic (a pitifully infrequent behavior), I'll give them credit.

    When someone acts like a run-of-the-mill denier, I will be at first polite and reasonable, but I'll know who I'm dealing with, and what I'm thinking and what I'm posting may well be two very, very different things.
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  41. Pirate: "The result creates a polarization and widens the gulf between believers and skepics."

    Any scientist should be a skeptic. That's why there is no theory without the material, evidential basis of experimentation and observation. Skeptics--and correct me if I'm wrong, pirate--should, based on existing evidence, develop a set of probabilities for a given theory, and then dynamically adjust those probabilities as new data arrive. No theory--not religion, not economic mode, not climate model, not government system--should be given a free pass (unquestioned acceptance). This is all I ask of anyone engaging in public debate: incorporate as much evidence as you can into your position, and when you encounter information that cannot be explained by your position, find the position that once again covers everything. Ignoring evidence, cherry-picking, crying "we don't know anything" when one element of a complex system is not yet well-understood, an unwillingness to ask questions for the sake of understanding (as opposed to asking them to accuse), and unwillingness to accept change in one's fundamental beliefs -- these are all signs that one's skeptical attitude is on vacation. An interesting question I'd like to see posed here is "Where will the global temp be in May 2050, and what are the five most significant factors in your prediction?"

    LJ, your comment at 111 is completely devoid of evidence. It's empty rhetoric. There's nothing worse than having to read a paragraph of empty rhetoric. Where exactly is your problem with the theory and the evidence upon which it is based (appropriate thread, please)?

    I suspect clips are made based on the interpretation that a comment is designed to generate a sticky stream of useless rhetorical discharge rather than inspire a progressive (uh-oh, I mean constructive) dialogue. The economic mode is perhaps even more complex than the climate, and there just isn't enough room here to engage constructively toward that subject. One well-managed thread connecting economic mode with climate would, I suspect, within two weeks generate more comments than all other threads combined (excepting the endless 2nd law thread, of course).
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  42. 139, apiratelooksat50,
    Probably be a good idea for you to win some converts to the cause.
    Yes, but those converts won't come from the arrogant, lordly type who tend to post on real science blogs, let alone from the absurdly silly Wattsians that post on WUWT.

    The converts will come from the real skeptics who, because they are skeptical, don't post comments. They're not sure, and they're trying to learn. They're trying to wade through the morass of nonsense posted by the deniers to try to figure out where the real truth lies.

    And they aren't going to be offended by any widening gulf between deniers and people who understand the science. Quite to the contrary, it's going to illuminate things for them.

    So I encourage J. Bob to keep posting allegations that scientists are in it for the money.

    I encourage L.J. Ryan to keep expressing his palpable distaste at my total disregard for deniers as a collective group.

    I encourage all of the totally wrong and ridiculously starry eyed misinformation that deniers post.

    Because in the end, a large body of people are reading it, and doing what I did some years back, when I was still on the fence. They're shaking their heads, and going to the search box, and hunting down where the real truth lies.

    And after enough falsehoods have been exposed, there is one less skeptic in the room, and eventually all that is left are the educated, and the hopeless deniers.
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  43. Nice definition of the difference between a skeptic and a denier. Do we have a name for the opposite philosophy? Ie the skeptic title would be the same I suppose, but what do we call people who refuse to recognise on principle any peer reviewed research which does not fit with their complete belief in climate change models of one sort or another. Dogmatist? Taliban? I suspect somewhere around the centre ground are a group of people who take a healthy interest and are happy to look at any genuine evidence, pro or anti.
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  44. "Apparently you didn't read Sphaerica's post which plainly stated: "Deniers are like Holocaust deniers. They are exactly like them.""

    See my 135 in which I said that I'd missed sphaerica's post.
    0 0
  45. Tom Curtis, #138, point 1: would a fair minded reader also think that "CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of
    continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against
    humanity and nature." is an acceptable statement by a climate scientist? Or would a fair minded reader believe that to be unacceptable along with anonymous death threats.
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  46. garethman:

    but what do we call people who refuse to recognise on principle any peer reviewed research which does not fit with their complete belief in climate change models of one sort or another. Dogmatist? Taliban?


    Perhaps you could be specific. One doesn't have to be dogmatist to reject the content of papers that claim, for instance, that modern physics violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics, or that claims that sensitivity is low based on cherry-picking short-term data, or that claims that satellites show that the world isn't warming when in reality the calculation contained several simple algebraic errors, etc etc.

    And what does "complete belief in climate change models" mean, anyway? No modeler holds that view. No serious student of the subject holds that view. Yet, they've proven themselves useful.
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  47. Eric (skeptic):

    "is an acceptable statement by a climate scientist? Or would a fair minded reader believe that to be unacceptable along with anonymous death threats."

    Color me old-fashioned, but I still recognize the difference between a call for legal action vs. a threat to kill someone. I'm rather appalled at your attempt to equate the two. Far more egregious than someone pointing out that science denialists and history (holocaust) denialists share certain traits ...

    And being a scientist does not mean that one can not or should not speak as a person. For federal employees, that's well-established in law, BTW. US Forest Service employees can speak out against USFS logging policies, if they want, including attending rallies and demonstrations against such policies, as long as they don't try to paint their personal views as being official views of portions of the agency (wearing your uniform at a demonstration's not a good idea, for instance).

    Hansen, as a NASA employee, is free to speak his mind as a person as long as he doesn't try to represent his personal opinions as being those of NASA.

    Why don't you respect his legal rights, and why do you attempt to equate them with the making of death threats?
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  48. LJ Ryan:

    Are you suggesting atmospheric CO2 is functionally equivalent to a CO2 laser?


    No, I'm pointing out that the physical properties of CO2 are extremely well understood by physicists and to imagine otherwise is an example of extreme denialism.
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  49. dhogaza 148

    "No, I'm pointing out that the physical properties of CO2 are extremely well understood by physicists..."

    So what's your point?
    0 0
  50. L.J. Ryan wrote : "So what's your point?"


    It would be good if you could actually answer that question.
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