When Liberals are "Deniers"

By Keith Kloor | November 24, 2010 2:30 pm

This is the second post of what will be a three part series on the terminology used in the climate debate to define individuals and groups of people that share a common position.

The first post surveyed responses from science and environmental writers on two common terms used in the climate debate: “skeptic” and “denier.”

This second post will discuss the intellectually inconsistent use of “denier” as a pejorative term.

In the climate discourse, “denier” has become widely adopted by climate “hawks,” liberal climate bloggers, and some scientists. Defenders of the term insist that

denialism is not a priori meant to invoke Holocaust denial, but rather describes an attitude and set of behaviors that are common among many groups that reject mainstream scientific and/or historical concepts.

The argument being that denial of global warming is a form of denialism no different than denial of the Holocaust, evolution, the HIV virus, and germ theory.  With liberals, though, there appears to be a double standard in usage of the term “denier.”

For example, I’ve long wondered why Bill Maher isn’t derided as a “denier” and why liberals don’t call the Huffington Post a “denialist” outlet.

Maher is a comedian and talk-show host who last year famously advised against getting the swine flue shot. Over the years he has been an outspoken opponent of the seasonal flu vaccine. Here he is in 2005, railing against “western medicine” and vaccines on the Larry King show. You’d think that if anyone deserved to be labeled a “denier,” it would be Maher. (Incidentally, Maher’s rant against the swine flu vaccine last year triggered so much backlash that he felt compelled to respond with this teach the controversy post.) But I’m not seeing anyone labeling Maher a denier.

To be fair, plenty of liberals are dismayed at Maher’s quackery. But he’s mostly called a “crank” for his anti-vaccination nonsense and opposition to western medicine. No broad brush tarring as a “denier.” (I could also make the same case for Robert Kennedy Jr., especially since he seems to get special dispensation from liberals.)

As for the hugely trafficked Huffington Post (which takes its name from the liberal pundit and socialite Arianna Huffington), it has become “since its inception a bastion of pseudoscience,“  a crazy “rabbit hole of anti-science,” or to put it more gently, a forum for all sorts of wacky views on alternative medicine and immunization.

What it’s not, of course, is a “denialist” communications vehicle.  It can’t be, because “denialism” is…well…not associated with enlightened liberal thinking, right? Arianna Huffington can’t be a denialist any more than Robert Kennedy Jr. Liberals calling liberals denialists? Nah, you’re not going to see that.

Meanwhile, climate denialism is treated uniquely as part of of some larger conservative derangement syndrome, that, oh yeah, threatens the future of the world. Why aren’t Bill Maher and the Huffington Post labeled similarly as “denialists” when they promulgate misinformation and myths that threaten public health?

No, I’m not saying that liberals ought to be more more evenhanded in the way they throw around the term “denier.”  What I wish, though, has been said best by this blogger, who writes that

both liberals and conservatives alike must own up to their own extremists. Liberals must own up to the fact that they don’t have a universally-solid grasp on scientific truth, and just like the right wingers, we have people and movements within the left wing that are cranky and denialist. I would say left wing crankery includes animal rights extremism, altie/new age woo, and anti-technology Luddites.

Bill Maher is one of these cranks (he scores 3/3), and if the liberals want to represent themselves as truly pro-science we must make a concerted effort to reject the unscientific beliefs of these crackpots.

That includes the cranks that happen to be liberal icons, too.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: climate change, science
  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    WTF do you think that Hoofnagle was doing (one is tempted to put a descriptive term here, but Eli is on double supper secret probation)?   This sort of stuff is all over, with people on the left pointing out that someone else on the left is making a serious mistake about some scientific issue.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Oh yes, the Barry Brook – Joe Romm death match for another example

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Eli,

    Since you’re fond of the “denier” or “denialist” term,  would you call Maher and RFKjr deniers?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Bill Maher is a pretty sharp guy on other issues that it’s indeed puzzling that he has such a blind spot when it comes to vaccines…

     

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Marlowe, it’s not just vaccines. He’s whacked with his anti-western medicine stuff too. But to your point, he’s puzzled lots of smart people, including Michael Shermer.

    Let me ask you the same thing I asked Eli: is Maher a “denier”?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    As far as western medicine goes? I would have to say yes.  The facts are what they are.  While I’m sympathetic to the logic that says corporations will underplay risks of complication (profit motive) and oversell benefits, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing the job as advertised.  pretty strong historical record one would think.  is there compelling evidence that ritalin is overprescribed to children who are misdiagnosed for ADHD? Absolutely? Does that mean that it doesn’t work in many cases? Probably not.

    The more interesting angle from a progressive/rational POV when it comes to health care is the emphasis that a for profit system puts on reactive vs preventative medicine  (speaking as an economist who is the son of a doctor).

    I’m glad you highlighted the link to the pseudoscience that seems to fester at the Huff.  The bits on new age spiritualism, metaphysics, etc. are truly baffling.

    What makes Maher’s intellectual inconsistency  particularly galling is that fact that he’s such a militant atheist.  You would think that someone who preaches about the dangers of taking things on faith rather than evidence would be a little more attuned to the irony of the position he’s staked out on this particular issue.

  • http://www.inkstain.net/fleck/ John Fleck

    Keith -
    Hate to sound like that dude with a hammer, for which everything looks like a nail, but the examples above seem to argue once again for the uselessness of trying to find a single word/phrase to describe a range of phenomena that don’t fit so easily into such tiny linguistic pigeonholes.

  • sharper00

    There’s a difference between political platforms taking positions on scientific topics and people who agree with a particular political platform taking a position on a scientific topic.
    For example people who think healing crystals work are likely to be somewhere on the liberal spectrum just as people who believe in angels are likely to be somewhere on the conservative spectrum. Neither are actual political issues so it’s unreasonable to attribute either to a political point of view.
    However some political platforms do intrude on science, for example many of the new Republican congressmen ran on a particular position on climate science. Creationists tend to get voted into office as Republicans or some type of right leaning candidate.
    Pretty much everyone is going to have a whacky viewpoint on something the problem is when instead of having ten people with whacky views on ten different things you have ten people who have the same whacky view on the same thing and consequently think it’s “real science” and plan to make sure it gets legislated that way.


     

  • Shub

    You guys are all pretty smart, but you can’t percieve your blind spot – AGW.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    John (7),

    Sorry, but I disagree.  I don’t see it as “useless” or “insane,” as RPJ put it. There’s just no getting around it. Rather, I see a need to clarify (and discuss) the terms we do use. In this post, I’m suggesting that there is a double standard at work for those who want to use the “denier” term (which I’m not in favor of).

    In my third and final post on Monday, I’ll show just how widespread such categorization is. We all rely on shorthand terms to communicate–well not you, I suppose.

  • Steven Sullivan

    Keith
    “Since you’re fond of the “denier” or “denialist” term,  would you call Maher and RFKjr deniers?”

    Good heavens, KK, get over it.  ‘Denialist’ or ‘denier’ without a context means nothing.  The implied term is ‘climate change denier’  or its like, and we get it from the context.  As well as we would ‘Holocaust denier’.   The preferred term for Maher’s and Kennedy’s brand of stupid happen to be ‘anti-vaxer’ which does the job in a way that falls trippingly from the tongue; would you prefer ‘vaccine denier’ (which makes no sense;) or ‘vaccine efficacy denier’?  And for Huffpo’s idiocy there’s a variety of names depending on the particular idiocy, though some gather them under the umbrella term ‘woo’.

    Orac and other biomedical bloggers calls out Maher and Huffpo on a regular basis, btw.   I guess you weren’t there to hear the online howling when Maher got the Richard Dawkins award.

    The ‘left’ (which in America, means anything not center-right) criticizing its own, in public, often over things like matters of ‘tone’ and ‘framing’ as well as substance, is in fact all too common, to a degree that has been ripe material for parody and stereotyping.   On the other side, not so much.   (Do you see Democrats in Congress voting en bloc like the Republicans do? )

    Anyway, after this, how about a four part series of  ruminations on these terms:

    “CAGW” — used almost exclusively by ‘skeptics’, in my experience, yet in such a way as to imply that it’s a term of art among climate scientists and the IPCC text (it ain’t).
    ‘warmist’
    [climate] ‘alarmist’
    are the persistent tagging of certain climate scientists (and sometimes  the majority of them) as frauds, cheats, conspirators,  careerists….the list goes on.
     

  • Steven Sullivan

    make that ‘AND the persistent’ etc…  in the last graf.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Ooooo, KK wants Eli to show him his.  Will KK reciprocate??  Try this (one is tempted to put a descriptive term here, but Eli is on double supper secret probation)

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2009/12/de-mortuis-nil-nisi-bonum-dr-manto.html

    Denial in the face of clear science has murderous consequences. We have seen this with AIDS, we have seen it with tobacco, asbestos, tetra-ethyl lead and more. Observant readers may have noticed another issue beset by politically and industrially based denialism that uses bought and sold, fringe scientific backing.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Eli, I asked you a simple question. Marlowe answered. Will you?

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    BTW, Marlowe (6), this is a great observation you made:

    “You would think that someone who preaches about the dangers of taking things on faith rather than evidence would be a little more attuned to the irony of the position he’s staked out on this particular issue.”

  • RB

    I think Sullivan #11 is referring to the 696 search items that pop up when googling “left circular firing squad.”

     

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    What about, “Denial in the face of clear science has murderous consequences” don’t you understand, and no, Ms. Rabett has not stopped beating Eli.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    at solitare

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Eli, you’re dancing around the question. At least, Steven Sullivan answered it.

    Is Bill Maher a “denialist”?

  • Huge Difference

    Keith Kloor,

    You think a white car is a white car is a white car.

    Not all vaccines were created equal.  They are not all tested the same.  They do not all have the same test results.  Some have been out for decades and have long histories if being safe.  Some have been out for a few years and have no history of being safe.

    Some are given to people who are too young to actually test the vaccine on, and so they test on much older and different people.

    Some of the most famous vaccines are known to have been contaminated with cancer causing viruses, but you don’t acknowledge that.

    The CDC tells doctors not to give me a vaccine, because of a history of Guillain Barre Syndrome.  And yet, there are times I actually seek out vaccines.

    But for you Keith, a white car is a white car is a white car.

    And so at this forum, in the past, both AGW fanciers pro and con have called me an anti-vaxer.

    But I’m not, I say, do the research on the vaccine the doctor wants to give you, it’s much simpler to read the CDC reports than to understand global warming papers.  And talk to your doctor and make your own decision.  And don’t let bullies call you an anti-vaxer.

    My daughters doctors advised us to give then some vaccines and not others.  And these were Harvard trained very well educated doctors.

    Why?  Because they understand some vaccines are Mercedes Benz, and some are Yugos.

    But Keith, you need, you crave, you apparently cannot survive without a nice safe ability to place people in boxes. It’s so much less brain power and makes the world so much easier to comprehend.  And so you have the term denier, and here you are today advocating that we call more people deniers, instead of trying to understand what they have to say, and call fewer people deniers, and start having a conversation.

    Google evil slutopia gardasil.

  • Keith Kloor

    HD (20):

    I don’t think you get what I’m trying to do with this post. Steven Sullivan and Eli get it, which is why they are reluctant to call Maher a “denier” (so far)

    Also, I’m already on record saying that I don’t use “denier” as a term.

    Additionally, your characterization of  the vaccine issue relates to your experience, which is fine. But it bears no resemblance to the anti-vaccine nonsense that Bill Maher spouts, the likes of which has been  frequently promoted at the Huffington Post.

  • William Newman

    “You can get more answers with a simple question and a popular blog than you can with a simple question alone.” — attr. Al (“I stole the Internet”) Kloor

  • Steve Reynolds

    It seems many AGW activists could be characterized as economic deniers when they claim costs of CO2 mitigation are minimal or even negative.
     

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    Bizzarre. You link to the Denialism blog, but don’t seem to have read their about page.

  • William Newman

    I am amused by the idea that Steven Sullivan’s preference (#11) for attacking his opponents as “deniers” follows naturally from his nonpartisan concern for clear terminology, and from the understanding in context that they are “climate change deniers.” People who deny that climate change exists are about as common as people who deny that vaccines exist, or people who deny that Holocaust-free terminology like “IPCC critic” is easy to find — i.e., not very.

    “It’s not just a river in Egypt.”

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    Keith, Bill Maher is certainly ‘vaccine efficacy denier’, as I noted.   More accurately a ‘vaccine efficacy/safety’ denier.  Or is it ‘skeptic’?  Either way I note again that that’s not likely to catch on as a label, since we have ‘vaxer’ but if it makes you happy, there is it.   I’m not much of a fan.

    Since I’m here again I might as well add another high-profile case of a the ‘left’ calling out it own — one I witnessed and one you even wrote about recently: Jon Stewart mashing up Fox and MSNBC shouting heads as two of a kind in his video montage at the Rally for Sanity.  I’m guessing we won’t see that sort of nod to fair-and-balancyness at Glen Beck’s next block party.


     

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    “People who deny that climate change exists are about as common as people who deny that vaccines exist, or people who deny that Holocaust-free terminology like “IPCC critic” is easy to find “” i.e., not very.”

    Oh for pete’s sake, this is your ‘gotcha’?  Really? That I failed to qualify ‘climate change’ for the audience here?  Talk about ignoring context!
     

  • Michael Larkin

    Damn. Where to begin…

    Look. I think there’s a spectrum that can be applied to pretty much any controversial idea, be it evolution or secondary smoke or global warming.

    The key word is “spectrum”. It isn’t either one thing or the other with nothing in between, and at either extreme of the spectrum, you have ““ well, extremists. People who believe something and simply cannot be convinced it can be even a little bit mistaken. I hate that word, “denier”, but if people insist on using it, then it can be applied to extremists at either end. They are denying the possibility of any error in their view, a position which more properly belongs to the realm of fundamentalist religion.

    It’s pointless trying to discuss things rationally with such people. You can’t fruitfully discuss the possibility that God might have some role in creation with a card-carrying neo-darwinist; nor fruitfully discuss with a YEC apparatchik that maybe a creator chose to work through various natural mechanisms that have unfolded over eons.

    A rational, enjoyable, free-spirited conversation, you cannot have. So you can’t explore the endless possibilities of this weird and wonderful universe, because as extremists all know, it isn’t, and can’t be, weird and wonderful. It’s all perfectly well known, and its rules are cast upon an everlastingly concrete Rosetta stone which only their ilk have successfully translated, because they are such excellent philologists.

    WRT global warming, I’d say the majority of non-extremists accept:
    1. CO2 is a GHG
    2. CO2 has increased due to anthropogenic activity
    3. That increase has probably caused some warming
    These non-extremists can be found on “either side” of the debate. FWIW, I deem myself an agnostic with sceptical leanings, and I accept the above three points. My scepticism focuses on evidence that there is much of a problem because of them. I think the jury’s still out, and it’s too important to waste trillions on a potential non-issue.

    I’m happy to converse with anyone who is not an extremist either way. But there are so many damn buttons waiting to be pressed in the febrile atmosphere that permeates climate blogs, and there is so much bad blood, that positions have hardened and everything’s become FUBAR.

    Using pejoratives that lump together all opinions north of an equator as if everyone lived at a pole is what has brought us to this sorry pass. Imagining that all those in the other hemisphere are idiots who haven’t studied the science (something often claimed by those who haven’t themselves studied it) has brought us to this sorry pass. A lack of ordinary human respect and compassion has brought us to this sorry pass.

    It’s so incredibly bizarre. Kafkaesque. Nightmarish. Childish. Pusillanimous. Choose your own favourite epithets.

  • NewYorkJ

    Global warming deniers are not confined exclusively to one political group, as this post implies, and I don’t know of anyone making the claim that there’s no denialism on the left.  9/11 conspiracy theorists tend to be leftist.

    I’ve watched Maher on occasion.  From what I’ve seen, his opposition to western medicine generally involves the overuse of medicine and the lack of focus on preventative medicine.  This piece was brilliant:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdHg6_pDbSI

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    C’mon, Keith. This is silly. Denialism is a general term that has many different iterations that aren’t given the explicit label “denier” regardless of ideological bent. Creationists and Lost Causers on the political right are called that, not “deniers”. Anti-vaxxers and woo-supporters are called that, not “deniers”. 9/11 Truthers are called that, not “deniers”.

    This is either unthinking or gratuitous hippie-punching. You can do better.

    And for the record, I’ve explicitly said that people are engaging in denialism regardless of ideological starting point. I will say that Maher is a denialist for vaccines and western medicine although vaccine-denialist doesn’t actually describe the dynamic properly at all for obvious reasons. RFK Jr. is likewise a denialist. Alex Cockburn is a climate denialist, and a leftist.

    I use the term denialist, but I also use climate “skeptic”. If a more generally agreed upon group identification arises, I will probably follow convention. But you seem to be grossly misunderstanding the relation of denialism, labels, and ideological bent here.

  • Francis

    gotta say, Keith, it feels to me like you’re beating the snot out of a strawman.  The word “liberal” itself is treated like an insult on much of the right and Fox News, driving some people to become “progressive”.  “Truther”, “creationist”, “anti-vaxxer” are not supposed to be compliments but some people bear the title proudly.
    If opponents of the consensus / IPCC view want to differentiate themselves from each other by the various grounds that they dispute the consensus, and then label themselves, they are free to do so.  But for the most part (Dr. Curry included), the opposition is incoherent; a general denial of the entirety of the science is the message they convey.  “Anti-AGW-consensusites” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.  “Denialist” is a perfectly acceptable shorthand until they can define themselves more clearly.

  • Michael Larkin

    Thingsbreak,

    Denying something isn’t necessarily always wrong. Your use of “denialism” doesn’t merely imply that someone denies, but that they are wrong to deny, and I sense that’s maybe because you think you know you are right and they are wrong. If so, I think this cast of mind is a major problem.

    Things can actually be very subtle. If I said to a physicist that Newton’s notion that white light is composed of many different frequencies of light could well be mistaken, he might choose to call me a denier.

    And if he did, I’d tell him that Newton’s view has enormous explanatory power, is “mathematisable” and has proved very fruitful in physics, but may not be the reality of the situation.

    I’d also tell him that Goethe provided an astounding alternative explanation, not at all mathematisable or fruitful for physics, but also having enormous explanatory power and being elegant and beautiful to boot. Anyone, using a simple set of colour cards and a prism, can verify this for themselves.

    You see, Newton provided a useful model of reality that functions extremely well for use in physics. Goethe, on the other hand, provided a means of directly experiencing the nature of colour. The two views aren’t mutually exclusive, but complementary. Goethe denied the Newtonian view was correct from the perceptual POV, and I tend to concur with that, having replicated some of his experiments for myself.

    So Goethe was, IMO, a denier who happened to be right. But AFAIK, he didn’t explicitly deny the usefulness of the Newtonian model of reality.

    One can have all sorts of delightful discussions if one keeps an open mind, doesn’t rush to condemn those with differing opinions, and deigns to spend a little time addressing the nuances of their position.

    Where are the delightful discussions between those with differing shades of opinion in the climate debate? Whatever might we be missing? Since it’s FUBAR, we may never know.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    TB and Steven Sullivan:

    What I’m suggesting here is that “denier” has become the preferred term for many in the climate-concerned community, and I think there’s a good reason why. As Time’s Bryan Walsh noted in that earlier post, he avoided “denier”  because it  “seems to pack a whole lot more judgment in a single word.”

    You just don’t get that kind of “judgment” with anti-vaxxer, do you?

    Let me ask you this: Do you think the folks at Mother Jones magazine consider Bill Maher a “denialist” cut from the same “denialism” mold as, say, a  Monckton?  Based on the cursory archive search I did of Maher and Mojo, it doesn’t appear that the magazine has ever challenged him, much less written about his many public anti-vaccination mutterings. Not even when everyone seemed to be talking about how former Republican senator Bill Frist schooled him last year during the Swine Flu episode.

    I could be wrong on that. I’ll check with a staffer next Monday to see if I got that right. You see where I’m going with this?

    When George Will publishes one of his ridiculous columns on climate change, an army of liberal bloggers and science journalists trip over themselves to take him down. I haven’t seen similar enthusiasm when it comes to Maher’s ridiculous pronouncements on vaccines and western medicine. Have you?

  • Steve Mennie

    To All and Sundry..
    I can’t help but feel that whatever we decide is the ‘correct’ term to use to describe those people who prefer fact-free explanations of the heating of the planet…it’s entirely irrelevant.

  • Roddy Campbell

    Keith’s parallel may not be (will not be) exact.  Of course not.  But his point is well-made, that denier is a comfort term for liberals and not used against their own, a pejorative term about being blind to truth however well-demonstrated and proved.
    It’s the accusation of blindness to truth that hurts, as it, in the minds of the accusers, renders anything else said likely false, or capable of being treated as such.
    This is why Maher is not so labelled, and his views on vaccines are taken as ‘a blind spot’, because the rest of his views are ‘good’.
    It is why, to pick one not at random, Pielke Jr has been termed a denier because his other views, eg The Climate Fix or on hurricane frequency, are unpalatable.
    And the comments here have nit-picked at Keith, and overall reinforced his point splendidly.
      :)
     

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @kkloor:
    You just don’t get that kind of “judgment” with anti-vaxxer, do you?
    It [anti-vaxxer]‘s one of the most damning things you can say in the relevant communities.

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com Bart Verheggen

    The question would have been better put as:
    Suppose Bill Maher said the things that Monckton does aobut climate change, would you call him a denier/denialist?

    Because then at least we’re talking about the same thing. In the context of climate blogging, denier/-alist is usually reserved for AGW denier/-alist. For other forms of denialism, as TB noted, other names got more traction (e.g. anti-vaxxer, 9-11 truther).

    Btw, what about climate dismissives vs climate concerned (instead of skeptic/denier vs alarmist/warmist)?
    Neither term sounds derogatory, and both are fairly descriptive as to the main difference.

    (Well, partly only. Personally I think a main difference is also in the attitude towards mainstream science, but any label I could come up, e.g. climate science attackers vs climate science supporters sounds derogatory to the former)

  • Roddy Campbell

    “No man is exempt from saying silly things; the mischief is to say them deliberately.”  de Montaigne.

  • Roddy Campbell

    Bart # 37
    Climate dismissive means what?
    ‘I dismiss AGW theory’ (~ dismissive of WG1) I assume is not what you mean!
    ‘I don’t believe the impacts will be anywhere near as severe as many fear, climate impact science tends to being structurally alarmist, and predictions of technology and hence adaptation over 100 years are doomed to be wrong’  (~ dismissive of WG2)?
    ‘The mitigation required to stabilise at X etc etc is a current political/practical impossibility, so we should spend our resources on energy R&D and helping mankind elsewhere usefully rather than on mitigation pointlessly’ (~ dismissive of WG3)?
     

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub

    Steve Mennie
    Does ‘heating of the planet’ do these kind of things?
    http://news.discovery.com/earth/thanksgiving-climate-change.html :)

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com Bart Verheggen

    Roddy, I think the term was coined by the six america’s study; at least that’s where I first read it.

    There’s no strict definition that I’m aware off, but in my book it applies to people who across the board are dismissive of climate science (incl but not limited to wg1 issue) and dismissive of the idea of having to deal with the issues at all.

  • Roddy Campbell

    Ah.  Well if it includes ‘dismissive of WG1′ then it’s a denier?
    I am fairly dismissive of the idea that a globally material or effective mitigation policy is anything other than a current political/practical impossibility, but I like to think I’ve not dismissed that idea out of hand (as the word can connote) but after looking at it.  Doesn’t make me right, but I don’t think it’s a position that carries opprobrium, or necessarily implies lack of concern.
    I quite like ‘climate policy sceptic’, as in sceptical of any climate (mitigation) policy so far proposed.
     

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Here are two related posts that should be of interest–this one from Orac, who talks about “one characteristic of denialists of all stripes,” and this from Steven Novella, titled “Scientific Consensus, Climate Change, and Vaccines.”

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Many useful things are being said by people such as Bart, thingsbreak and Marlowe, but KK wants to engage in some hippie rabett punching so let us refer back to and earlier Eli post that assigned denialists to the circle of hell associated with no expertise but a strong ideological bent on an issue.

    Maher certainly has no expertise on vaccination, but he has a loudspeaker, and because of that his anti-vaxx position is very dangerous.   Denial in the face of clear science has murderous consequences and the anti-vaxxers have damaged hard won herd immunity which has lead to serious outbreaks of disease and deaths.  But Eli’s criteria has two poles and ideology is one of them.  Anti-vaxx is one of those things that really is not ideological.  There are libertarian anti-vaxxers and there are liberal anti-vaxxers (probably no socialists or social democrats because they realize that there is a value to community action).  So Maher is a dangerous idiot on this issue, but not, to Eli a denialist.

    Cockburn, yeah, he is a denialist and much farther to the left than Maher.   Medvdev, well he was a denialist but weather has a way of concentrating minds on climate.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Eli (44),

    I will grant you that Bart and Marlowe very often have many useful things to say, which I take seriously. TB did have something quite useful to say here, which I used as a launching point for this post and which you seem not to be in alignment with.

    And now we finally come to something very useful you said (my emphasis):

    “But Eli’s criteria [for denialism] has two poles and ideology is one of them.”

    And there you have it. Thanks for reinforcing the point of this post, as I suspect that many in the climate concerned community who use the term “denier” would agree with your criteria.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Keith,

    Your link to the **denialism** blog made me find this gem:

    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/deck.php

    I believe this serie about “the denialist deck of cards” complements well your topic.  All the cards are rhetorical tricks a denialist is always using.  They are ordered by force, from the 2 of club (“no problem”) to the Ace of space (“we’ll lose money!”).

    There’s nothing really new there.  All the cards have been played in climate blogs.  The ordering is interesting; the examples are quite convincing too.

    What is most striking is the fuzzy barrier between rhetorical and ideological considerations.  Here again we see that reality has a liberal bias.

    ***

    Returning to Bill Maher, do we have some evidence where Maher has been shown the pros of vaccination and refuses to admit that they exist?  That’s what denialism is all about, at least if we’re interested in the psychological concept.

  • Barry Woods

    to flip the argument why are people at left leaning think tanks ‘alarmists’

    with the prerequisite qualification, Poltics economics. etc preferably from Londosn school of economics,

    Google this chap:

    Simon Retallack’s Education

    London School of Economics and Political Science

    BSc , Government and History , 1995 “” 1998
    Head of climate Change of the IPPR (advicing Labour government) recently jumped ship to join the Carbon Trust

  • http://gryposaurus.wordpress.com/ grypo

    People who deny science based on their own selected criteria and refuse to adjust their thinking when confronted by the best available human understanding are “deniers” or “denialists”.  What political affiliation they belong to is irrelevant.  Liberal/conservative wings are all part of the same narrow political spectrum of classic liberalism that US teeters on anyway, so it makes no difference to me, in this context.   When a large political force begins to truly support the class who is distanced from the means of production, we can talk about differences between politics and group belief systems.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    “Returning to Bill Maher, do we have some evidence where Maher has been shown the pros of vaccination and refuses to admit that they exist?”

    Willard, please. This is Bill Maher we’re talking about. What do you think? But anyway, if you want one of the more famous recent examples, just look up that clip of him being schooled by former Senator Frist of all people!

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Barry, your example can be countered by many inhabiting right wing think tanks, who in Bart’s suggested jargon, could be classified as “climate dismissives.”

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Keith,

    I was serious.  I have seen **Religulous** and that’s about it.

  • Barry Woods

    Which think tanks have the ear of the politicians in each country..

    In the UK, IPPR was the major think tank behind the UK government… look up the IPPR documents on this.

    The IPPR commisioned Futerra, for the communications strategy for climate change for the UK Government.

    Ie some think tanks have more influence than others….

    take a look at the simplistic nonsence in this Futerra video, for the British Council in NZ.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRVWldo8avU&feature=related
    they make a big thing of their involvement in policy and government..

  • http://www.realclimategate.org Barry Woods

    Simon Retallack – Head of Climate Change – IPPR Talking about “Warm Words” behind the UK governments communication stratgey on climate change.

    Ie this think tank had major influence in the UK
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEI4CQc9pjE&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

    I won’t hog the blog, I’ll write it up on mine at somepoint

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Barry (“I won’t hog the blog”) you beat me to the punch. Please stay on topic in this thread and keep your comments as concise as possible. Thanks.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith,

    I’d echo Willard’s request for evidence.  Can you link to any interviews between maher and a doctor on this issue?  To be clear, I’m not asking for proof that he’s an anti-vaxxer, just that I’d like to see how he responds to direct challenges from an authoritative figure…

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Marlowe, I think it’s pretty silly that you’re asking for some kind of interaction between Maher and some challenger. Do climate concerned folks ask the same of George Will?

    Like Will, I think you should assume that Maher is a pretty smart guy who has access and the intelligence to process the kind of authoritative evidence you’re asking for. He just denies it.

    Anyway, I linked to the Michael Shermer’s open letter, which we know Maher read, because he responded to it (which I also linked to).

    This request by you and Willard is a red herring.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    it’s not meant to be, but i get it if you’re pissed at me for being lazy :roll:

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Barry, Willard answered your #47

    why are people at left leaning think tanks “˜alarmists’

    at #46

    Here again we see that reality has a liberal bias.

    This has been another edition of simple answers to complex questions.

  • Roddy Campbell

    grypo – “People who deny science based on their own selected criteria and refuse to adjust their thinking when confronted by the best available human understanding are “deniers” or “denialists”.  What political affiliation they belong to is irrelevant.”
    I’d like to agree, but the bossiness makes me think of ‘best available human understanding’ in C19 medicine.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Gotta sign off for a while, folks. Will monitor comments but won’t be able to respond till tonight.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Bart nails it:
    The question would have been better put as:
    Suppose Bill Maher said the things that Monckton does aobut climate change, would you call him a denier/denialist?


    Unequivocally yes. We have an example, Alex Cockburn. If Keith’s premise had even a shred of credibility, the answer would be no, but it’s not.

    It’s the label that has stuck, and it has nothing a priori to do with political orientation.

    I will say that once more, for someone who claims to dislike tribes and tribalism, Keith is doing his damnedest to make the issue even more so.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    fyi here is the link to Maher’s response.  Reading it, I think he’s being treated a bit unfairly , as his views are a little more nuanced than the ‘anti-vaxxer’ label suggests.  For example:

    “Vaccination is a nuanced subject, and I’ve never said all vaccines in all situations are bad. The point I am representing is: Is getting frequent vaccinations for any and all viruses consequence-free?… yes, any flu or health challenge can be dangerous when you’re pregnant, and if your immune system is already compromised by, for example, eating a typical American diet, then a flu shot can make sense. But someone needs to be representing the point of view that says the preferred way to handle flus is to have a strong immune system to begin with, and getting lots of vaccines might not be the best way to accomplish that over the long haul.”

    from the CDC:

    “Everybody can benefit from the flu vaccine. Up until 2009, it was recommended every year for everyone except for a small group of 18- to 49-year-old, non-pregnant people in good health. We just added that group.

    In this context his position on seasonal flu shots doesn’t seem that unreasonable does it?  Which just goes to show how labels we often use can misinform rather than inform a discussion.

  • Roddy Campbell

    Marlowe, interestingly, from what I gather, Rachel Carson has been a subject of very strong attack on anti-science grounds when her real view seems (on DDT etc) to be not dissimilar in structure to Maher’s on vaccines that you quote.  Appropriate use etc.  As in “Practical advice should be ‘Spray as little as you possibly can’ rather than ‘Spray to the limit of your capacity’.”
     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Keith,

    A red herring is an **argument**.   I asked a **question**.

    “Liberal denialism” is an interesting topic.  I’m interested at exploring how it is done.  As I see it, it’s more of a rhetorical stance than an ideological one.

    You’re talking about Maher’s denialism.    I am not an American and I don’t have cable tv.  So I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    I’ll check again every god damn link you put into your article.


    I could not care less if Maher is a denialist or not.  Saying that someone is a denialist barely makes any sense anyway.  At the very least, we should identify what behavior can be described by denial, and according to what scientific knowledge.

  • harrywr2

    Liberals are rarely deniers, as conservatives generally don’t subscribe to Alinsky’s rules for radicals.
    Of course Alinsky’s focus was the destabilization of Corporations and Governments.
    To the extent that Bill Mayer is against Pharmaceutical Corporations his views are consistent with those of the hard left.
    There is also no shortage of people who ‘deny’ that the temperature at which steel becomes malleable is substantially less then the melting point of steel.
    It is quiet instructive that some people will accept that the science of climate, an obviously extremely complex subject without question and then deny the facts of basic metallurgy which have been known since the iron age.
     

  • Smilla

    “Which just goes to show how labels we often use can misinform rather than inform a discussion” ““ indeed.
    “It’s the label that has stuck, and it has nothing a priori to do with political orientation” ““ hmmm, not so sure, let’s look at why the “denier” label would stick in the case of climate change and not in others (I think I have seen it applied to MMR and Wakefield but it didn’t stick) There are, of course, exceptions but I think that we can agree that outright “deniers” tend to come from the Right. Now, bear with me here please. Right and Left, as far as I remember, were coined during the French Revolution, referring to the fact that those seated to the Left supported changes (in that case fairly radical ones) and those seated to the Right supported preserving the monarchy, church etc as per the definition of conservative “tending or disposed to maintain existing institutions, opposed to change or innovation”, then look at the definition for “Denialism” provided by Keith and read a bit further to “several motivations for denial have been proposed, including religious beliefs and self-interest, or as a psychological defense mechanism against disturbing ideas”. So it makes sense that it would be easier to get the word “denier” to stick here than to Mrs Huffington’s fondness for “alternative” therapies. Bart’s question doesn’t nail it as the answer to it is obvious. The person is denying climate change and therefore a “denier” no matter what political orientation, whereas a person denying the benefits of vaccination is not a “denier” whatever political orientation. It just so happens that people denying climate change tend to be, with exceptions of course, right-wing and people who deny the benefits of vaccination etc tend to be left-wing, which brings us back to Keith’s “denialism” is”¦well”¦not associated with enlightened liberal thinking, right?” the answer being “no it isn’t, because historically the left has been seen as being open for change/innovation and less self-interested than conservatives”.  I got no idea if the above is correct but thought it would be fun to try out as an argument.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    A quick question:

    Reading about Maher, isn’t he supposed to be a libertarian?

  • Dean

    Just how many members of Congress are focusing on vaccinations? How many vaccine scientists are they calling to testify? How many best-selling sci fi authors are attacking vaccine researchers? Which vaccine research institutes have been hacked into and been accused of fixing their research?

    Anti-vaccine conspiracies may get more support on the left tin general, but it isn’t remotely comparable to climate denialism and I don’t remember any lefties in Congress calling for hearings, though it may have happened once.

  • Steve Reynolds

    “Right and Left, as far as I remember, were coined during the French Revolution…”
    But a more modern definition is that the Left cares about personal freedom and is generally against too much economic freedom. The Right cares about economic freedom and is generally against too much personal freedom.
    This, of course, explains why they each see different costs for GHG mitigation.
     

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    If Dan Burton is back it’s gonna be non stop thimerosal.  He has a grandkid who is autistic.

    http://burton.house.gov/posts/Avian-Flu-and-Thimerosal

  • Smilla

    Dean, things actually did get rather heated around the MMR vaccine in the UK at some point.
    Steven, are you thinking of Nolan Chart? If you haven’t already done it, here is the quiz. Let me know how you score :o ) it would actually be interesting to do the quiz in combination with another quiz with 10 questions about climate change and/or vaccine.
     http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz  

  • Steve Reynolds

    Smilla,
    Yes, I score 100% on both freedom axes.

    10 similarly structured questions (on agreement with science and economic consensus axes instead of personal and economic freedom) would be interesting.

  • laursaurus

    Marlowe #62 first quotes Maher
    But someone needs to be representing the point of view that says the preferred way to handle flus is to have a strong immune system to begin with, and getting lots of vaccines might not be the best way to accomplish that over the long haul.
    Good Lord! Talk about politicizing science.
    Someone has to be “representing the point of view that says….” and where did he get his medical degree? The fundamental ignorance of human physiology is contained in this phrase, “the preferred way to handle flus is to have a strong immune system to begin with,” HELLO?? The immune system functions by responding. The only way to “strengthen” it is to irritate it by exposing it to either the actual pathogen or innoculating an atenuated dose of the specific organism. The typical “American diet” by far exceeds the required amount of nutrients thus completely eliminating the possibility of a deficiency severe enough to compromise immunity.
    Then Marlowe quotes the CDC to substantiate Maher’s ignorance
    “from the CDC:

    “Everybody can benefit from the flu vaccine. Up until 2009, it was recommended every year for everyone except for a small group of 18- to 49-year-old, non-pregnant people in good health. We just added that group.“

    In this context his position on seasonal flu shots doesn’t seem that unreasonable does it?  Which just goes to show how labels we often usecan misinform rather than inform a discussion.”
    So the CDC has determined that even the presumably healthiest group demographically needs to be vaccinated because the healthy lifestyle Maher endorses is insufficient.  An intelligent question would be why did they revise their recommendations, wouldn’t it? Guess what! Big Pharma’s profit margin is not one of the reasons!
    1. During the 1918 fatal flu epidemic, this is the very group of people who died from this strain. More young adult men were killed by the flu that year than in WWI combat.
    2. Herd Immunity-these are the people who transmit the virus to babies, the elderly, immuno-compromised, etc. who DO die or require hospitalization due to influenza. They transmit it before they become ill enough to stay home from work or work while they’re sick. Isn’t Bill Maher’s sense of moral duty to his fellow human beings admirable? He doesn’t give rat about the fact that he might be the one to spreading to the vulnerable population who will die! What a admirable value system! Great example of how you don’t need to believe in God to be ethical. WTG, Richard Dawkin’s award winner!
    The reason they did not advise the vaccine for everyone previously was because for many years, the vaccine was in short supply. So the strategy was to save these doses for the elderly. Also, initially it was a more conservative approach to flu vaccination to not to vaccinate across the board until all potential side effects were encountered. By scrutinizing the data, year after year since the CDC began tracking disease rates, the epidemiology experts concluded that vaccinating even the “healthy” population was a superior strategy for preventing epidemics. Plus safety and efficacy is thoroughly supported by the data. And it’s all there on their website for the world to audit at their leisure.
    What if Big Pharma and the CDC refused to share their data to the extreme of breaking the FOIA laws? We would be suing them into bankruptcy and jailing them for negligent homicide. Would you accept a CDC graph that hid the mortality rates to present a nice tidy picture to the FDA?
    And if you found this behavior disturbing, would calling you a denier or denialist be justified and accurate?

  • laursaurus

    Sorry if I went too off topic, Keith. But as a member of the healthcare profession, misinformation related to the field of medicine pushes my buttons.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    For those of you who have vaccination issues similar to Bill Maher, this builds on Laurasaurus’s comment:

    “Here’s where we get to the deeper, fundamentally progressive reason for vaccination: The point is to protect not merely ourselves, but the community. To not vaccinate is to threaten the immunological commons, the array of trillions of antibodies and T cells that decades of vaccination have built up in our bodies, draping a web of germ-fighting agents around our most vulnerable neighbors. To not vaccinate is to affirm an overweening individuality. It’s a form of selfishness.”

  • Huge Difference

    Two articles about the TSA that are very relevant to this post, about the need for journalists to be able to label people as a proxy for actual reporting.

    One: in which the Nation finds that any libertarian activist must be a Koch funded TSA denier: http://www.thenation.com/article/156647/tsastroturf-washington-lobbyists-and-koch-funded-libertarians-behind-tsa-scandal

    Two: in which Glenn Greenwald reads the Nation the riot act.
    Anatomy of a journalistic smear job
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/11/24/tyner

    Before reading the Greenwald piece, read the Nation piece and notice all the innuendo, and no piece of actual evidence.  And then laugh to yourself about how many people you know that would immediately dismiss anyone who writes for the Nation as a communist, just because they write for the Nation.

    But also notice how much their article reads like any typical article that smears global warming skeptics.  They must be getting paid!  They are anti-science!  They are funded by the Right Wing!

    And while the article is putatively about Tyner, the guy from San Diego, it really talks very little about what he did apart from suggest that anyone who took a camera to film their interaction with the TSA is probably a Koch funded right wing whacko activist.

    This is the kind of bogus journalism amplified by blogs that we have today.

    They bring a Soros, you bring a Koch.  That’s the journo-party-partisan-way.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub

    “The point is to protect not merely ourselves, but the community. ”
    True.

    “To not vaccinate is to threaten the immunological commons,..”
    What?

    “…the array of trillions of antibodies and T cells that decades of vaccination have built up in our bodies,…”
    At the least, inaccurate and badly phrased. What is the author trying to say here?
    If  read as though coming from a credible source – this sentence is a joke. This person does not know what he is talking about.

    “To not vaccinate is to affirm an overweening individuality”
    A better way of putting this? To not vaccinate is to affirm individuality. So is a decision to vaccinate. Educated PhDs want to forgo vaccination for their children – it is a choice they made – get over it.

    If you don’t want their innocent children (they are) to be subjected to their parents’ decisions not to vaccinate, and thereby endanger the community, maybe the medical community and the state have failed in projecting or upholding values of transparency and pursuit of patient health. Vaccination rates drop in every community which does not trust its doctors – this is a universal truth.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Shub (77), your last paragraph is so utterly outlandish.  As if you know that a community like Boulder (Colorado) is distrustful of its doctors? How would you know that? It seems as if you’re projecting your own distrust of climate science onto all of the medical community.

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub

    KK,
    I am only echoing the Mother Jones article.  The article says:
    “…resistance is also growing, especially among affluent and well-educated people””to the point where living in a place with a high percentage of PhDs is a risk factor for whooping cough.”

    Where in that passage did you get (my) idea that Boulder, Colorado are ‘distrustful’ of their doctors?

    Let me reframe the last sentence: Vaccination rates drop in every community which does not trust the medical community – this is a universal truth.

     

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    One of the annoying things about comments and committee meetings is that people spend forever guessing what can be looked up.  Boulder has a very low immunization rate
    http://www.broomfieldenterprise.com/ci_16014766?source=most_viewed

    Colorado, OTOH, does not do badly

    http://www.bouldercounty.org/health/pr/2008/090408StateIZRate.htm

    FWIW

  • JohnB

    Well, I’m a fence sitter on the vaxxing thing. The pro side have valid arguments and the anti side certainly have some valid questions. I think most of this gets lost in the shouting though.

    Just because a person questions, doesn’t make them an anti vaxxer, it makes them a concerned parent asking for information. The tendency (and it appears to be a predominantly American one) to always try to put people into one of two boxes makes any debate difficult as it presents everything as a false dichotomy.

    The entire concept of vaxxer/antivaxxer or climate believer/denier perpetuates the false dichotomy. Setting the debate in these terms immediately grounds the terms of the debate in a logical fallacy. Is it any wonder we get nowhere?

    That I am a climate “sceptic” to me means not much more than that I’m currently not convinced enough of the efficacy of the projections to throw my weight behind what could be rather pointless “mitigation” plans.

    In medicine I use both Eastern and Western techniques. This doesn’t mean that I use homeopathy or some other new age woo, it means I use Eastern medicine. I make that choice based on which one has the best outcome. When my appendix burst, surgery. When I found severe thyroid problems, there was no question that surgery was the way to go. Antibiotics for infection? Hell yes!

    However. My prolapsed L5 disc was healed without surgery by Eastern techniques. My wifes torn meniscus and eroded knee cartilage were repaired using Eastern techniques. The simple (and for some unpalatable) truth is that there are some things that Eastern techniques can cure that Western ones can’t.

    To choose one is not to reject the other, it is simply choosing one alternative as being the best in that particular situation.

    A final point from the outside. My wife and I have cancelled our travel plans to the US. We were hoping for a nice holiday, but since the new regulations came in we have decided otherwise. We have no wish to subject ourselves to invasive scans which may finish up on the internet and we find the whole idea of warrantless body searches done by non police officers repugnant.

    Americans may find this sort of invasion of privacy and dignity an acceptable price for living in the USA, but for others the price is too high to make it worth visiting you.

    The sad thing is that if this was happening 20 years ago at Checkpoint Charlie the American govt and media would have had a field day lambasting the Soviets for their attacks on “freedoms, rights and dignities”.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    John B, before we have at it, perhaps you might tell us which of the anti vaxx claims you think have merit.

  • Smilla

    Let’s flip the coin. As usual bear with me here…let’s look at in what context the word “deny” is usually used. Ex. A child breaks a vase and you say to it:”do not deny that it was you who broke the vase”, you do not say to it:”do not, not believe that it was you who broke the vase”. So two things here, 1) the truth is that the vase is broken and that the child knows this to be the truth but denies it because it for some reason (you may shout, it may not get the ice-cream it has been promised etc) do not want to deal with the consequence  2) this can be split into two, a) the originating problem (I am tempted to say “action-reaction” but the word “action” would be wrong) and b) a result/consequence of this originating problem. Let’s then have a look at Holocaust, AIDS and Climate Change. Holocaust (originating problem), the world felt an obligation towards the Jewish people (consequence), AIDS (originating problem), medicine etc must be provided (consequence), Climate change (originating problem), cut in emissions etc (consequence). In all cases it is the originating problem that is denied. I haven’t followed the “denier/skeptic/dissenter” thread in detail but I think, Keith correct me if I am wrong, that very few would use the word “denier” if the person is not denying AGW or at least CAGW i.e. the originating problem rather than how to deal with the problem. Now let’s look at vaccine. Here the difference is that the people are not denying that say measles or polio etc exists (originating problem), they deny that vaccine should be the consequence, in which case it is correct not to label them “deniers” but to go for cranks :o ). As usual I got no idea if it is right but fun to try out the argument. Looks like it might be polar-bear weather today (I am in the English Country side).

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    JohnB (82):

    You’re conflating legitimate questions with outright opposition. What I’m talking about here (and what I have posted on repeatedly about the anti-vaxx movement) is irrational rejection of the seasonal flu vaccine and childhood vaccines.

    With respect to the latter, kids are dying because of this and the larger immunity to some diseases is being eroded in some communities.

    Questions are one thing; outright rejection of vaccination is another. Some commenters here (such as Huge Difference) tend to conflate questions about individual vaccines with the larger, irrational movement of parents that don’t vaccinate their children (because they have a fear that their kids will get autism from the MMR, or they just don’t believe in vaccines).

    It’s quite sad and tragic. As I’ve written before, this appears to be one consequence of “when history fades.”

  • JohnB

    Nice Smilla, makes me think.
    Where I think the comparison fails is this. Both the holocaust and AIDS are real, verifiable events. You can visit the camps or see the virus under a scope. What you call the “problem” is visible and tangible and therefore strategies can be developed.
    However the third is based on assumptions and future projections. To include CC with the other two you are assuming four things;
    1. That the Climate is changing.
    2. That this is a problem.
    3. That man is the major contributor.
    4. That it is mans CO2 emissions.
    Which leads you to the “answer” to the “problem”.
    Number 1 is easy and measurable, the climate is changing. But is this a problem? Probably. However it is a problem because when we draw lines on the maps and standardised the nations over the last hundred years we made an incorrect assumption. We assumed that the climate was stable and the only things that would effect national borders were wars and erosion.
    So CC is a problem and it always has been. CC can be directly attributable to the foundation and rise of Pharonic Egypt, it can also be reasonably shown to be the primary reason for the fall of the Roman Empire. Keith is aware of and has written about others in America that suffered the same fate and there are more destroyed civilisations in Asia and Africa than you can poke a stick at. Virtually all have died due to CC.
    But your answer to the problem presumes that both 3 and 4 are correct. This is an assumption and a belief, not a verifiable fact. You are assuming that man is the major contributor and that CO2 rather than say, land use changes, is the major factor.
    For example. If 3 is true, but land use changes are the major human factor, then your “answer” won’t really solve the problem, will it?
    So by disagreeing with you I’m not “denying” anything. I am disagreeing with your assumptions.

  • http://amac1.blogspot.com/ AMac

    Ow.  My head hurts.

    Back to what Dean said (other thread), “I wouldn’t use “˜denier’ with somebody who I was trying to have a constructive dialog with.”

    So much effort expended, trying to find the right way, the intellectual way, the acceptable way, to belittle one’s adversaries.

    Consider a stereotype of the Victorian era, where ambitious young men devoted a couple of years to the missionary life, delivering the benefits of the one true religion to benighted natives.  Before returning home to civilization.

    Were the heathens’ strange traditions the foremost concerns of these missionaries? What a puzzling question!

    Which opinions mattered?  Those of fellow missionaries.  Family and friends; prospective employers, the sweetheart back home.  Those of the funny-sounding exotics, not so much.
    - – - – - – — – -
    In my experience, people don’t generally jump at the chance to play bit parts in other folks’ social-signalling dramas.  Especially when those roles carry labels like “The Knave” and “The Fool.”
    – - – - – - – - – -
    None of this is to stipulate that any given strain of “skeptical” thought is worth engaging with.  Nor do I think that these dynamics are unique to some pro-AGW-Consensus advocates.  Comments at ClimateProgress versus those at WUWT, I don’t see a whole lot of difference, in this regard.  The same mental habits are on display for most other hot-button controversies too, as here (FWIW, my own thoughts on vaccination track Laursaurus’ (#73)).

    Building on Dean’s remark, the use of contemptuous expressions such as “Denier” shows that the speaker has assumed a position of moral superiority.  Is dialog what he or she is actually seeking?  It seems to me that the important conversation is usually elsewhere.  Even in cases where constructive engagement is being sought, it is an unlikely outcome.

  • JohnB

    KK, I wasn’t conflating them at all, but on rereading the post I see how it could be seen as such. When I said “the anti side certainly have some valid questions” I was thinking of parents who question rather than the anti vaxxer movement itself. I sort of made that point in the next paragraph, but the whole thing could have been better worded.

    I would add that in my view, any question by a parent is a “legitimate” question that requires an answer. It really doesn’t matter whether you, Eli, me and Dr Jones next door think it’s bloody stupid, when it comes to the health of the child the parents questions are always legitimate. Note that I’m differentiating questioning parents from the knee jerk anti vaxxers here. 

    I was also trying to point out that with the polarisation a parent who asks a legitimate question is almost always immediately put in the same box as the anti vaxxers.

    Eli, we won’t need to “have at it” at all. Also let’s be clear, I meant that parents had legitimate questions, I didn’t say that the anti vaxxer movement had legitimate claims. These are two different things and their conflation is part of the problem.

    However, if you want a question I’ll oblige. I think that you, Keith and I are around the same age and we all had our shots, but there are a lot more now.

    Each of those vaccines was tested individually and deemed safe. (One interpretation of “safe” being, “We didn’t find any problems in the clinical trials, so let’s see what happens in the wider public”. Remember the “safe” drug Thalidomide? I do.)

    I dislike using the word cocktail because the anti vaxxers use it but I think it fits. However we are giving a cocktail of these drugs to very young children, drugs that are specifically designed to play with the immune system.

    Concurrent with the rise in vaccinations we have seen a marked increase over the last 30 years in immune system diseases. Eli, when you were in school, had you even heard the term “lactose (or anything else) intolerant”? How many kids were athsmatic and needed a ventolin puffer? 

    There appears to be a correllation, but the question is “Is there a connection?”. Are we solving one problem and inadvertantly creating another? I’ve asked various forms of this question of many athsma researchers and the only answer has been “We don’t really know”.

    In general I’m in favour of vaccinations and the vast good that they have brought. But I’m still allowed to ask questions, aren’t I?

  • dp

    distrust of big institutions is normal & appropriate. they do behave badly, acting on internal motivations and using their collective power to externalize the negative consequences. the dominant groups struggle for loyal customers, and against ending up sole owner of the hot potatoes.

    there is a paranoid streak in every group, drawing some in, pushing others away. somewhat xenophobia somewhat lessons of history. if you like wearing purple and another group pushes you down ‘because purple is stoopid’ there’s a certain predictability. the purpleness could have been orangeness or emeraldness.

    a very green friend pointed out that as far as he knew there was no body count website for people killed in automobile collisions. (this came from joking that in modern america a widow’s walk would look out over the interstate.)

    i don’t think even in my youth i ever called the pro-pollution subgroup just plain ‘deniers’ — despite their toxic rhetoric, and even though they share ancestry with neo-nazis, they’re not true eliminationists; they’re witting shills, defiantly eating more poison than their prosperity requires. or less bravely, making a show of exporting it.

    there’s a categorical difference between bill maher and peabody energy, unless maher is trying to profit from other people’s suffering.

  • Huge Difference

    Keith, Joshua,
    ” tend to conflate questions about individual vaccines with the larger, irrational movement of parents that don’t vaccinate their children ”

    What is your null hypothesis regarding any one specific vaccination?

    Now survey the articles and what do so many pro vaxxers say about people like me in terms of my incompetence to raise my children, or about my moral failings towards society in terms of  failing to provide for society’s herd immunity.

    And, without looking at a cheat sheet, tell me about how you feel towards mandatory vaccination of Gardasil, H1N1 vaccine, and more importantly,

    Please layout the reasons up until a few years ago, why some vaccines were mandatory for school age kids, and why others were not.  Do you feel that has changed over the years, and if so why, and how does that collide with the Precautionary Principle?

    And if this seems disjoint, it is, and I apologize, please do me the favor of trying to make a coherent question out of it — I have to go get my daughter…

  • mobk

    Personally I can’t bring myself to call most of those who deny or minimize global warming “skeptics”. That usage does violence to the meaning of the word skeptic.  I tend to use “denier” for the wingnut fringe – ( e.g. “CO2 isn’t green house gas” or “The scientists faked the temperature record”). Those who are a little more fact based I tend to call “contrarians”.  I would happily call a climate wingnut on the left or right a denier.  However this particularly form of wingnuttery is massively concentrated on the right. The only prominent left denier I can think of is Alexander Cockburn (mentioned up thread) and I haven’t read enough of him on the subject to know how bad he is.

    Other wingnut ideas are more prevalent on the left – chemtrails, healing crystals, 911 conspiracies and so forth.  Anti -vaccination seems to occur on both the left and the right, though perhaps more on the left.

    The big difference for me is that most of the wingnut ideas that are more prevalent on the left are still fringe ideas even on the left. Definitely some folks on the left believe George Bush/Dick Cheney masterminded the 9/11 attacks however it is hardly a mainstream view even on the left. Meanwhile on the other side of the political spectrum it has gotten so bad that climate denialism can almost be considered a co-morbidity of Republicanism.

    Is there an anti-science belief on the left that is as prevalent as climate denialism on the right. I can’t think of one, but perhaps that’s just my blind spot.

  • Smilla

    JohnB, thanks. I think everybody should aim to think a little and to laugh a little every day. You certainly made me think with your analysis (and the “wingnut” label made me smile), so here I am, having disposed of a mountain of “soldiers and eggs” (brekkie) in the library looking out at, not a polar-bear although it feels like the Little Ice Age, but a deer, and scratching my head. Okay, here we go, please bear with me and correct me if I have misread or misunderstood some of your points. As I read it you accept that AIDS, Holocaust and vaccine, all consist of a visible and tangible problem as well as a consequence, difference being that ADIS, Holocaust is the problem while vaccine is the consequence. So you are only a denier in the two first instances as you deny the existence of the originating problem. So far so good, the argument for the liberals not being deniers (in this instance only, of course :o ), so far holds up. So now I need to do a bit of work on my argument for including climate change in the potential “denier category”.
    You break it down into:
    1. That the Climate is changing.
    2. That this is a problem.
    3. That man is the major contributor.
    4. That it is mans CO2 emissions.
    Now to me that sounds like “CAGW”: You accept GW. You are unsure about C but think it might be, if for no other reason, then because, historically, it has been the case before. Your problem is with the A. Now under my argument all you have to do in order to avoid being a denier is to say that there is def some AGW and some of it is def due to mans CO2 emissions. It doesn’t have to be all down to man nor does it have to be exclusively due to emissions. A “yes” to Number 1 and number 2 is enough to create a problem, actually number 1 is probably enough to create a problem (for the sake of my argument) in that you can perfectly well argue that you don’t have to know for certain the extent of the problem in order to implement “no regret” policies which would then be a “consequence”. My consequence wouldn’t necessarily be emissions cuts only (I did put an etc) you could perfectly well take a “Roger Pielke jr” view on what the consequence should be and still be nowhere being a denier as not denying the originating problem to be dealt with namely the changing of the climate and any opinion as to the consequence of the originating problem shouldn’t have attached the label “denier” to it following my original argument. How am I doing here? :o )
     

  • Lewis Deane

    A good post. But I think your missing a crucial element here – that whenever it comes to ‘science’ and rationality, left/right ideologies shouldn’t have a standing? For instance, there is no ideology about ‘Hook’s law’. In fact, if you think about it, there’s a kind of ‘sacred’ space around such ‘venerable’ fundamentals. That sacred, rational space is what the more ingenue of us anticipated and were disappointed about. What, therefore, is most important, here, is the old gnosis auton – know thyself – and balance that human desiderata you carry against the real interesting problems of finding out what is true. For the important questions are not existential, they are creative ““ what is done is far more important than whether anyone is left round to do it.

  • Lewis Deane

    There’s a ‘to’ missing there – just before ‘balance’. Sorry

  • Lewis Deane

    And, anyway, to equate someone who disagrees with you with a ‘denier’ of everything is and has always been silly. There was also an absurd ‘moral’ element in this – that, not acting, ‘knowing’ the ‘consequences’ of ‘climate change’ was, because of the alleged ‘consequences’, equivalent to the acting of Nazi war criminals. How absurd! But just so.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    HD (89):

    This post is not a judgment on your parenting skills.  You’re personalizing things.

    I’m also not interested in having a discussion with you over individual vaccines. My related posts and comments have been about something else entirely: the large group of people that discount science and let irrational fears about vaccines dictate their decision on whether to get their children properly immunized against otherwise preventable diseases.

    I will repeat: it’s sad and tragic.

  • http://amac1.blogspot.com/ AMac

    mobk (#90) –

    > “Is there an anti-science belief on the left that is as prevalent as climate denialism on the right. I can’t think of one”

    Well, if you read Razib Khan for a while at GNXP or Secular Right, you should be able to spot a few.  :-)

  • Lewis Deane

    But, Keith, you invent it all ( is it echoing?). No one, except you, has talked about or is interested in vaccines or ‘vaccine denial’. Soon you’ll be arguing about the ‘cogito’ in the ‘ergo sum’. The question here is about ‘abuse’, specifically in terms of using labels that may or may not be descriptive. For instance, ‘idiot’.

  • Lewis Deane

    And anyway, this left/right nonsense, as old and dead as the French Assembly from wence it came – you know they shot and bound Robespierre because he talked to much in that assembly – should not distract us here. The questions are numerous but they boil down to a number of specifics:
    Do we face from ‘climate change’ as an existential threat? Patently, no

    Are the changes, excepting the hypothesis, too difficult for mankind to cope with? Quite patently no.

    Can we mitigate, adapt, anticipate these changes? Of course

    Remember this – whatever we wish a rebors history will assert itself. Some things are inevitable.

  • Huge Difference

    “I’m also not interested in having a discussion with you over individual vaccines. My related posts and comments have been about something else entirely: the large group of people that discount science and let irrational fears about vaccines dictate their decision on whether to get their children properly immunized against otherwise preventable diseases.”

    But I think that’s my point.

    Vaccines are not all alike.  How can anyone go from saying they agree that individual vaccines may be problematic, to then calling out the “anti-vaxxers”?

    What are the claims of the “anti-vaxxers” that are so offensive?

    And while not necessarily comparable, contrast that with the bullying given to parents regarding their concern over individual vaccines, vaccine schedules, or all vaccines.

    Isn’t the null hypothesis and the precautionary principle precisely backing up those parents?

    Is a failure to persuade them signs they are morons, incompetent, Republicans or a failure of outreach by scientists and bureaucracies to listen to their constituents and address their concerns?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > No one, except you, has talked about or is interested in vaccines or “˜vaccine denial’.

    Do you mean that you, that is Lewis Deane, are not finding any interest in the vaccination debate?

  • Huge Difference

    Currently in some states, but not in all, parents are allowed to opt of vaccination for a) medical, b) religious, c) philosophical reasons.  A state may not allow all any or all three.

    Some states say that if you opt out of any one vaccine, your children may not be given ANY vaccine.

    Apparently, the AMA and other organizations are lobbying to remove religious and philosophical opt outs.

    Keith, Joshua, what do you think of opt outs, and the removal of opt outs?

    What do you think of the ethics or morals of a state and it’s doctors that say that if I opt a child out of one vaccine, they cannot be given any vaccine?  How does such a mandate conform to scientific reasoning?  Is that scientific reasoning in action or punishment and coercion?

    And Keith and Joshua, I am still interested in your response to this: “Please layout the reasons up until a few years ago, why some vaccines were mandatory for school age kids, and why others were not.”  Why did we as a society agree with mandatory school age vaccination of rubella, chicken pox, etc., and how does that conform with today’s current trend towards making a lot more stuff subject to mandatory vaccination?

  • laursaurus

    Oh dear! I think I better clarify by separating my outrage at prominent anti-vaxxers who cling to ideology when presented with evidence and patient education.
    I absolutely encourage parents to ask their pediatrician (or even get a second opinion from another doctor) about all their concerns. There are good answers for these concerns and the better educated the patient (or in this case, the parents or guardians) the better the outcomes.It’s always preferable when a patient understands medical necessity and mechanism behind any proposed medical treatment. An informed decision is almost always a better decision.
    Ask about the “cocktail” vaccines and you’ll discover the rationale for combining them. Separate them if you remain unconvinced.
    JohnB #87: Sure the term lactose-intolerant is fairly recent. But c’mon! Indigestion and heartburn have always been a problem. Think Alka-Seltzer and PeptoBismal. Our great grandparents probably had these remedies in their bathroom cabinets. But I think if you were able to ask their opinion of vaccines, they would probably beg you with tears in their eyes to protect their precious legacies. Visit any graveyard or trace your genealogy back just a few generations, and you’ll discover how prevalent infant and childhood mortality was before vaccines were discovered. We forget about how Polio crippled FDR and sentenced so many people to life in an iron lung. It’s rare to attend a child’s funeral in our time. Now accidents are the leading cause of death, not vaccine-preventable illnesses.
    Please ask questions and get advise from a trained medical profession. Visit the CDC website where you can find everything from statistics broken down by age/sex/race, etc. to information about the individual vaccines, including the risks.
    However,this is not the case with CAGW. That’s why the Climategate emails are so jarring to anyone familiar with the cumbersome regulations placed on medical research and development. It’s unthinkable to imagine playing politics with the public’s health.
    What if your pediatrician unleashed his contempt on you for asking the “same old tired gotcha questions?” You won’t find this on WebMD, but you will be thoroughly belittled by the “consensus” climate scientists.
     

  • Smilla

    Leiws Deane, obviously you haven’t read my first post. The whole argument centres, solely, around if it would be right to term a person, who does not believe in vaccination, a “denier” based on how that word is generally interpreted. It was a “brain exercise” and nothing else.  I wouldn’t personally dream of labelling anybody who disagree with me, on whatever issue, a “denier” and given that my grandmother was on a boat to Sweden when the second world war ended the comparison to Nazi war criminals is just beyond unfortunate.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Lausaurus:

    Thanks for your comments on the vaccine issue. I hope those harboring ant-vaccine sentiments listen to you.

    HD (101):

    I don’t have a problem wearing a (mandatory) seatbelt, abiding by the speedlimit. I also like it that dog owers now have to pick up after their pets on city sidewalks, or be fined. I like it that their are sanitary regulations in restaurants. I like that I can meet a friend for a beer in a bar now and not come how smelling like an ashtray (or inhale someone else’s carcinogens).

    So for reasons like that, I’m against opt-outs. They’re being abused. It’s bad for society.

    Just curious: where do docrinaire libertarians stand on this?

  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub

    KK, you know the joke about cutting about paper dolls…

  • Steve Reynolds

    Smilla,
    I put together a short quiz (similar to what you linked) to see if people equally accept the science and economics of GW. What do you think?

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    My opinion is the following statements about global warming are:
    A. accurate
    B. too alarmist
    C. too skeptical
    relative to the scientific evidence.

    1. global temperature has increased at least 0.5 C since beginning of the 20th century.
    2. GHG CO2 concentration has increased 30% to 40% over pre-industrial level, mostly due to human causes.
    3. GHG and other human influences have caused the majority of the temperature increase.
    4. AGW has already caused significant negative human impacts such as increased damage from hurricanes and droughts.
    5. doubling (over pre-industrial levels) of GHG concentrations is likely to cause a 2C to 4.5C increase in global average T and sea level to increase 0.6 to 2 feet.
    6. there is a significant (>10%) risk of more than a 5C increase from the effects of doubling of GHG concentrations.
    7. the effects of doubling of GHG concentrations will likely make the Earth unable to support even 1/10 the present population and could easily cause the extinction of the human species.

    My opinion is the following statements about addressing global warming are:
    A. accurate
    B. too activist
    C. too in-activist
    relative to the economic evidence.

    8. Reducing GHG emissions significantly is expensive and likely to reduce living standards (compared to BAU ignoring AGW effects).
    9. It is not clear that the benefits of mitigation exceed the costs at any CO2 stabilization level.
    10. A cost for carbon emissions of roughly $100/ton of CO2 is likely required to keep CO2 emissions at their current level.
    11. adapting to climate change and long term research of low emission energy production is likely to have a lower net cost than medium term (<20 years) mitigation.
    12. Economic benefits of a warmer world likely outweigh any negative effects of GHG emissions.

    8. Reducing GHG emissions significantly is expensive and likely to reduce living standards (compared to BAU ignoring AGW effects).
    9. It is not clear that the benefits of mitigation exceed the costs at any CO2 stabilization level.
    10. A cost for carbon emissions of roughly $100/ton of CO2 is likely required to keep CO2 emissions at their current level.
    11. adapting to climate change and long term research of low emission energy production is likely to have a lower net cost than medium term (<20 years) mitigation.
    12. Economic benefits of a warmer world likely outweigh any negative effects of GHG emissions.
     

  • http://amac1.blogspot.com/ AMac

    Steve Reynolds (#106) –

    Here is a link to your AGW Science Quiz as a “SurveyMonkey” survey.  And, a link to your AGW Economics Quiz, same format. 

    Unfortunately, a Basic SurveyMonkey account places a limit of 10 questions per quiz.  This de-links the Science and Economics answers — probably the most interesting part of the exercise.  :-(

    Perhaps there’s another format, where all 12 questions can be asked at once (along with a couple of questions establishing self-described stance on AGW).

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like one can view the results of the survey after taking it (?!).  Still, if more than a couple of people take this pair, I’ll post their results on this thread tomorrow (Monday 29 Nov) evening. (Hopefully, someone better-versed than I will work ths up in a more suitable format. I’ll then shut these links down.)

  • Steve Reynolds

    AMac,
    Thanks! I should probably reduce the science questions to 5. Any suggestions on which to eliminate?
     

  • JohnB

    Smilla.
    Now under my argument all you have to do in order to avoid being a denier is to say that there is def some AGW and some of it is def due to mans CO2 emissions.

    Then by your argument, I am not a denier. Radiative physics says that increased CO2 must cause some warming. C14 measurements tell us that much of the increase in CO2 is very old and is probably from burning fossil fuels.

    Again there is so often a demand for either/or. CO2 or Cosmic rays, or something else. I view this as terribly simplistic. The best analogy I can see for CC is the Drake Equation for SETI. There are many factors with differing values and some of these have yet to be reasonably pinned down. Think of all the factors that effect the climate and assign a numerical value to them as a plus or minus, remembering that the combined total must equal .8 degrees. How many different values can you assign to each factoer and still get the right answer?

    The sceptics go wrong in the either/or bit too. There was a rather interesting post by Bob Tisdale over at WUWT where he shows that it appears that if cica 6% of the energy is retained between El Nino and La Nina events, then you can explain the global temps.

    And that is the problem, it explains the warming without CO2. We know from physics that the CO2 must have had some effect so any answer that completely explains the warming without CO2 must be wrong. But what if he is part right and the cycles retain 2% but not 6%? 

    All the forcings and feedbacks put together must equal 100% of the climate change. As soon as a new factor is added or the value of a factor changes, then it must change the value of at least one other factor.  Which is a wordy way of saying that climate is bloody complex and trying to reduce it to a two value CO2 or not game is sheer folly.

    Rather than either the sceptics or the climate scientists being wrong, it is the structure of the argument itself that is wrong. At least, that’s how I see it.

    I did miss the “etc” in your initial post, hence the emphasis on CO2 reduction policies.

    Something to think on, and I think it defines the difference in our outlook. When you and many others say “Climate change is a problem” you are making an implicit assumption and the statement could be more accurately phrased as “CO2 driven Climate Change is a problem”. If this is true then we had better do something about it. However my statement is “Climate change is a problem” and does not assume any cause. 

    See the difference? By assuming the cause you are assuming the solution.

    We would be acting in a very stupid fashion to expend much money and effort on reducing the CO2 if we find that it makes little difference and we should have concentrated on land use instead.

    If I have a nightmare about CC it is this. That the results will be catastrophic and that mans changes in land use are the major cause. Because I don’t see how we could do a single damn thing about that short of slaughtering about half the worlds population. 

    In closing. Even if we convert the developed worlds economy to a wonderful, magical, pollution  free and CO2 neutral one, the climate will still change and we will still have to adapt.

    The only economies that will be able to afford to adapt are strong economies, which means that unless we help the third world develop and gain strong economies as quickly as possible then we are condemning millions to privation and death. Any policies from the West that attempt to slow or stop third world development will only increase the severity of the new holocaust.

  • Edim

    Calling someone a denier ist just a (psychological) projection.

    In real science, there should be no dogma and everything is on the table.

  • JohnB

    laursaurus (102)

    My point was the increase in immune system dysfunction has increased in the last 30 years. There are some pretty obvious candidates for what might have had some effect in this area since they specifically target the immune system.

    I’m not stating vaccination is the cause, I’m making an observation and asking a question. 

    However just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that vaccinations were the cause. Assume we find out that if we delay the vaccinations until a child is 2 years old we substantially reduce the probability of immune system malfunction. Then what?

    Every day we delay giving a child their vaccinations we increase the risk of filling our cemetaries once again, yet the earlier we give them the more we might damage the child for life.

    Personally I hope that there is no connection. I cannot comprehend what a parent would go through if they had to make the choice; “If we don’t vaccinate there is a 1 in 1,000 chance my child will die of or be effected for life by some horrible disease by age 10 and if we do there is a 1 in 1,000 they will die from or be effected for life by some horrible immune system dysfunction.”

    I’m a child of the 60s. I know and saw what Thalidomide did first hand. I also know polio as one of the girls I grew up with wore the braces until she was about 14, there was much joy when she was finally able to be rid of them. I lost a neighbour to a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting when he was 12. (So was I). My wife is a chronic asthmatic (although it’s under control now) and I’ve lived for years with that “blue box” close at hand. She is also allergic to numerous things from penicillin to grass and has a generally messed up immune system.

    Do you perhaps see now why I view intentionally messing with the immune system with a very sceptical eye?

    All I’m saying is that I don’t think it’s as cut and dried as either the anti vaxxers or some in the medical profession would like us to believe.

    However anybody who denies the great good that vaccinations have brought and the countless lives they have saved is not and cannot be called a “denier”. Call them what they are, “Fools”. 

  • Shub

    JohnB

    The ‘medical profession’, today, is a teeming mass of different types of professions – doctors, nurses, public health officials, ….I don’t even know what they names many of these groups give themselves.

    All these groups have differing philosophies, different areas of expertise therefore a different outlook on medical care per se. Their advice regarding vaccinations therefore comes in different flavors and fervors. Generally, lesser the training and knowledge, greater the advocacy (only generally though).

  • Smilla

    Steve Reynolds, JohnB:
     
    My office computer has been down for the last couple of days and busy in the evenings hence why late reply. Hmmmmm, think both of your posts will take some reading and thinking on my part so will have to come back with proper responses later (unless you have both left this thread completely by now). However, two things spring to mind:

    Steve, I would be interested in knowing, considering that you score 100% on both personal and economic freedom, what your view is on vaccination? Guess I am thinking John Stuart Mill and “Harm theory” here.
    JohnB, as you know my argument was constructed solely to examine if you could called people who are against vaccinations for deniers (I note that you go for “fools” :o ). I don’t think it would necessarily work in other contexts incl. a discussion as to what people rejecting AGW should be called. However, your response is interesting and I would like to have a proper look at the links you provide before coming back to you. In the mean time I would be interested in your view of the Kaya Identity? And you might also find this interesting http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/11/30/bottom-falls-out-of-solar.html.
     

  • http://hro001.wordpress.com Hilary Ostrov

    “Here are two related posts that should be of interest”“this one from Orac, who talks about “one characteristic of denialists of all stripes,[...]“

    Keith, what makes you think that the opinion of Orac, whose area of expertise is definitely not “climate science”  – and whose familiarity with the gambits of Holocaust deniers should have (but unfortunately did not) alerted him to the obvious differences between such cretins and those whom he chooses to label “global warming denialists” and/or variants thereof – is even deserving of mention.

    Why would you stoop  so low as to appeal to the authority of a cancer specialist’s opinions on the validity of “climate science”  is based on his uncritical endorsements of  the claims of “climate scientists” and their acolytes and lesser lights?

    Sorry but, from where I’m sitting,  your advocacy colours are showing – again.

  • http://hro001.wordpress.com Hilary Ostrov

    Keith, please tell me what virtual sin I’ve committed that has resulted in my comment [114] being sent to “moderation”.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    (115)-None. It happens sometimes automatically when links are included.

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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