When a Science Journal Uses Loaded Language

By Keith Kloor | June 18, 2012 11:34 am

Several years ago, while wrestling with the climate skeptic/denier terminology, I queried a number of my colleagues on which term they used as shorthand.

None of them used the “denier” term, but most were also uncomfortable with “skeptic” as a one-size-fits all label. My own thinking on this was captured by Time’s Bryan Walsh, who said:

I’ve generally used the term “climate skeptic,” in part because it seems more neutral as a descriptive. Nuance will be lost in any shorthand description but “climate denier” seems to pack a whole lot more judgment in a single word.

On a similar note, Andrew Revkin said in that post:

there’s no way I could justify using denier as a blanket term, given the variegated range of people who oppose restrictions on greenhouse gases or challenge aspects of climate science.

I mention this exchange now because the journal Nature Climate Change has just published a new study entitled, “Promoting pro-environmental action in climate change deniers.”

The term “deniers” is also used frequently throughout the paper. It’s quite a striking juxtaposition, since the purpose of the paper is to highlight new research that supposedly shows how those who are skeptical of climate change can still be won over to care about the environment.

But the way the authors go about it–by using the loaded “deniers” term as a catch-all reference–is akin to a public health expert slapping this title on a study: “Promoting a healthy diet for fatsos.” And then characterizing overweight individuals as “fatsos” all through the paper.

So far, reaction from climate scientists ranges from puzzlement to consternation. On Twitter, Doug McNeall, a climate researcher at the UK’s Met office, wondered if the paper “was actively courting controversy” and added:

I struggle to believe that the authors don’t know the impact of the word ‘denier’, given the subject matter.

Richard Betts, a fellow Met Office climate scientist, chimed in:

“Denier” is an unnecessarily inflammatory label, and only causes distraction by getting people worked up. Bad move.

Unsurprisingly, climate skeptics are worked up over the Nature paper. Bishop Hill writes:

it certainly looks as if the authors intended to generate offence and controversy rather than truth and light. Hilariously, the authors are writing about how to convert people to the green cause!

Indeed, the irony is hard to miss.

  • sharper00

    “But the way the authors go about it”“by using the loaded “deniers” term as a catch-all reference”“is akin to a public health expert slapping this title on a study: “Promoting a healthy diet for fatsos.” And then characterizing overweight individuals as “fatsos” all through the paper.”

    What if overweight people decided that the term “overweight” was not descriptive and instead a term used purely to abuse and denigrate them? After all, we all have a weight and who are you to dictate an “ideal”? How dare you use loaded language intended to push the agenda of only one “true” weight.

    I don’t think it’s possible to create a useful label that includes everyone from “Greenhouse gasses cool the Earth” through to “Well non-centred PCA hasn’t really stood the test of time but ultimately it had little impact one way or the other”.

    Nor do I think it’s reasonable for the group involved to lay claim to the mantle of “skepticism” when they demonstrate they are only skeptical of claims which disagree with their preconceptions. This is more commonly known as “bias”.

  • huxley

    The insistence on the term “denier” by high-profile climate orthodox — not just flamers in blog mosh pits — is another indication that the climate change movement is more of a dirty political campaign than a scientific enterprise.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    I’ve always preferred ‘climate contrarian’ or ‘climate sophists’…

  • Anteros

    Keith -

    I agree with your sentiments.

    There’s one thing that slipped through, though, that either you didn’t think merited comment or that you perhaps agree with, which is the presumption behind the statement that

        “those who are skeptical of climate change can still be won over to care about the environment”

    The (false) presumption is of course that those who are skeptical of climate change (or it’s seriousness, or the sense in mitigation efforts etc etc) don’t care about the environment.

    Seriously?

    I’ve not met someone who cares noticeably more about the environment than I do but a) I’m not paranoid or frightened about change per se and b) the most important part of my environment is other human beings.

    I’m pro environment but anti many aspects of ‘environmentalism’.

    For a public figure who also shares these sentiments I’d point to the ‘environmentalist’ Bjorn Lomborg. Vegetarian, non-car-using, planet-loving, people-loving…… but skeptical of the consensus position on climate change.

  • Keith Kloor

     Anteros (4)

    No, I don’t buy into the presumption, and I’m not sure the Nature study is making it, either. I think the authors are pointing out that folks of all types genuinely care about the environment and that simply reframing one aspect of the climate debate for climate skeptics would help earn greater support.

    My post doesn’t address the merits (or lack thereof) of the study, just the use the term “denier” and some of the reaction to it.

  • huxley

    I’m always curious what outcome the climate orthodox have in mind when they use inflammatory rhetoric like “denier.”

    Do they believe it helps their cause, that ordinary people will be persuaded by such harsh language that climate skeptics must be dangerous, fringe characters like “holocaust deniers”?

    It’s a gambit that might work if climate skeptics were mostly fringe wackos. However, they aren’t and most people know friends and celebrities who are skeptics but are otherwise sensible people.

    To me it smacks of desperation that the orthodox can’t assert their authority as they believe they deserve and are lashing out to hurt their enemies and to reinforce their own group solidarity.

    It’s human and undertsandable, but it undercuts their authority as rational representatives of science. I suspect it’s counterproductive.

  • Anteros

    Keith -

    Fair point.

    Incidentally I read Bryan Walsh’s latest essay in Time magazine, and for all his talk of nuance he begins with this statement

        “First the bad news. The planet is in peril”

    And he ends it with -

        “We may be utterly divided on how to fight climate change, but we’ll suffer the consequences together

    I’ll concede that what he says in the middle about getting international agreement on any subject being fraught with difficulties, is reasonable and quite insightful. But his certainty about peril, suffering and the notion that climate change is something necessarily to fight seems rooted in negative imagination.

    He also claims that 2012 is “On track to be the hottest year on record”. This unfortunately hints that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  • Nullius in Verba

    I was recently watching the video “How to talk to a climate change ‘denier’” by George Marshall, which despite the title (which he says was to attract attention) advises against the term and recommends “dissenter” instead. It’s reasonably accurate, covering anyone who dissents from some aspect of the IPCC ‘consensus’ view, without making any judgements. (The converse would therefore be “assenters” for those generally on the other side?)

    If you’re trying to persuade people, it’s probably best to find out what they call themselves and use that, but this is pretty good as labels go.

  • BBD

    Perhaps patience is running out in certain quarters.

    You could argue (and I do) that a contrarian becomes a denier once they refuse to accept that their arguments are demonstrably flawed.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Those who continue to use the term denier are doing so in full understanding of the connotations and implications. They are trying for the effect they get.Why do they need enemies so badly?

  • BBD

    Why should denial be tolerated given the seriousness of the matter? How would the passengers of a sinking ship react to a minority of their number who denied that there was a problem despite clear evidence to the contrary and refused to allow lifeboats to be lowered?

    A poor analogy, I know, but the point is clear enough. 

    As I say, perhaps patience is running out in certain circles. Perhaps also the contrarians need to consider that the term denier is used for an exact descriptive reason. They always focus on the Holocaust Denial equivalence and splutter with outrage. They protest too much and it doesn’t make much difference.

    Denial is denial. I have come full circle in my view on this and now feel that when the circumstances merit, the term should be used.

  • Matt B

    @ BBD 12 – Perhaps also the contrarians need to consider that the term denier is used for an exact descriptive reason.

    BBD, what exactly do the deniers deny?

  • Sashka

    I was going to propose “unconvinced”. I agree that “dissenters” is a broader term but I’m not sure that it’s always a good thing. Depends on the context.

  • huxley

    As I say, perhaps patience is running out in certain circles.

    Yes, desperation, as I was saying.

    The question is, however emotionally satisfying using the denier label is to the orthodox like BBD, does it further their aim to enact a climate agenda?

    I suspect not, though it would be hard to prove. Furthermore, I suspect it does arouse some of the skeptic resistance we see. I know that I’ve lost respect for scientists who resort to this language.

    In any event, the fact is that climate change is now dead last on most polls of citizen concerns. Lashing out with the “Denier!” label doesn’t seem to be helping.

  • BBD

    The way that contrarians have forced everybody else to stop using an accurate term for what they do is a good example of the way they have moved the Overton window.

    It’s false symmetry.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #11,

    “The sides of the boat are less than a metre above sea level, so when Antarctica melts the water will come over the sides and the boat will sink. Everybody get into the lifeboats while we check your cabins for valuab… I mean, anyone left behind.”

  • BBD

    We’ll patch the hull with tinfoil. There are several tons in the hold.

  • stan

    Since the article is about how to convert deniers into becoming believers, I would suggest that the authors would be better served to examine how other religions seek to attract people they try to convert into believers.  Do loaded terms such as infidel and sinner prove effective for recruiting?Instead of constant warnings of fire and brimstone of denier hell, perhaps Global Warming would be more effective in recruiting believers if the scientist/priests promised converts a place in environmental heaven.

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

    Seems to me that PNAS may have set the precedent for conferring  academic acceptance on the use of “climate denier” with the June 2010 publication of Anderegg et al‘s equally shoddy, “Expert Credibility in Climate Change“. The authors purported to have examined the publication records of those who were “convinced” and “unconvinced” by the “tenets of anthropogenic climate change”.  Their terminology, not mine!While the authors used the d-word only once in their text, PNAS appears to have given it their seal of approval and acceptablility with the following designations of the article:citation analyses | climate denier | expertise | publication analysis | scientific prominenceIt also occurs to me that those like Bain, Corner et al who are bemoaning the state of “communication” and/or seeking ways to “reframe” the debate would do well to broaden their horizons beyond their presumptions, and way beyond such simplistic – and insulting – categorizations.  Maybe it’s the political activism, advocacy and considerably less than open (cf Gergis et al 2012) science that is the problem.  And maybe they should stop patronizing and/or dismissing those who prefer their policies to be based on evidence rather than on the “judgment” of self-appointed “experts” and computer generated simulations – with all their inherent shortcomings.

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

    eeeuwww … Sorry, let me try that again …Seems to me that PNAS may have set the precedent for
    conferring  academic acceptance on the
    use of “climate denier” with the June 2010 publication of Anderegg et al”˜s
    equally shoddy, “Expert Credibility in Climate Change“. The authors purported
    to have examined the publication records of those who were “convinced” and
    “unconvinced” by the “tenets of anthropogenic climate change”.  Their terminology, not mine!

     

    While the authors used the d-word only once in their text,
    PNAS appears to have given it their seal of approval and acceptablility with
    the following designations of the article:

     

    citation analyses | climate denier | expertise | publication
    analysis | scientific prominence

     

    It also occurs to me that those like Bain, Corner et al who
    are bemoaning the state of “communication” and/or seeking ways to “reframe” the
    debate would do well to broaden their horizons beyond their presumptions, and
    way beyond such simplistic ““ and insulting ““ categorizations. 

     

    Maybe it’s the political activism, advocacy and considerably
    less than open (cf Gergis et al 2012) science that is the problem. 

     

    And maybe they should stop patronizing and/or dismissing
    those who prefer their policies to be based on evidence rather than on the
    “judgment” of self-appointed “experts” and computer generated simulations ““
    with all their inherent shortcomings.

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

    Oh, well, that didn’t work either (although it looked OK before I posted) … I give up!

  • Nullius in Verba

    Hilary,

    Yes, the comment software is broken.

    The way we do it is to write the comment, switch to the html view with the blue ‘< >’ button, then hit Enter twice after every </p>.

  • huxley

    Do loaded terms such as infidel and sinner prove effective for recruiting?

    stan @ 18: Loaded language can work (and often does) when recruiting for religions, cults, and political movements.

    My sense, though, is that it boomerangs when scientists use it because it reduces them to the level of propagandists.

    It is indeed ironic that a scientific article in a scientific journal seeking tools to make climate change more acceptable to the public uses the D-word.

    I love this line from the article:

    Disturbingly for environmentalists, attitudes towards climate change and climate science seem to have become part of a constellation of attitudes defined by the “˜culture wars’…

    And by using D-word, Nature joins the culture wars, but being ideologically blind to its own ideology, fails to notice the irony.

  • BBD

    And the band played on…

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Again, they are trying to incite–BBD as one who is obviously trying to do so, the question is why?

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

    Thanks, Nullius … haven’t been here for a quite a while … too many threads seemed to have been hijacked by a tedious zealot ;-)

     But I shall try to remember your advice next time!

    [wondering if switching back to design view before posting wipes out work!]

  • huxley

    The last line of the article is fascinating (with my emphasis).

    Communication about the reality of climate change should continue, but public discussion should broaden to encompass the societal effects of action, especially how mitigation efforts will promote scientific and economic progress, and can make us more caring and considerate people.

    So, they are giving up on convincing “deniers” and opting for smiley-face propaganda — blather about scientific and economic progress (Solyndra? windmills?) and making us more caring and considerate people.

    Awww. That’s so sweet!

    It’s hard to believe that Nature is one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world.

  • BBD

    The way that contrarians have forced everybody else to stop using an accurate term for what they do is a good example of the way they have moved the Overton window.

    It’s false symmetry.

    Stating this *fact* is not incitement of any kind. Terms like ‘tedious zealot’ on the other hand are deliberately and specifically provocative.

  • BBD

    Here’s Charles Petit from the original CaS piece Keith linked back to:

    There is some difference and a lot of overlap. A skeptic operates on doubt, at least ostensibly, which also is the fuel of scientific progress. A denier turns more to faith ““ faith that the world is just too big, that god is too just, that discredited ideas remain alive in some alternative universe, or something equally lean on data ““ to refuse to admit possibility that we’re moving the thermostat. There are better definitions I’m sure but those are what I select at this moment. I tend to use one or the other depending on how strongly I reacted to
    something from their combined camps. Outwardly reasonable in tone: skeptic. Just plain stupid and usually very angry and spewing insults: denier.

    Yes.

    [Keith - I've found another bug with this bliddy editor: nowadays, if you include a link to another comment here or another thread here, when you submit, your entire comment vanishes. I have tested this - it is consistent. ]

  • Sashka

    If these people are so stupid in communicating their science why would anyone not be skeptical of their research itself?

  • Anteros

    BBD -

        “Denial is denial. I have come full circle in my view on this and now
    feel that when the circumstances merit, the term should be used.”

    Disagreement with the contents of someone’s zealotry isn’t denial, it’s having a different view; thinking that those who disagree with us are in denial is called fundamentalism.

  • BBD

    Anteros

    You believe – contrary to expert opinion and without supporting evidence – that AGW isn’t going to be a serious problem later this century and beyond. 

    That’s a fundamentalist position as well as a nonsensical one. 

    That’s the last time you get to call me a fundamentalist unchallenged. 

    Saying stuff… Remember?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    You are a climate fundie, BBD. As well as a troll. Your attempt to be the Pronunciator or Petronius the Arbiter looks a bit funny from outside. Positively Bushian.

  • Ed Forbes

    Comment at BH that is on point.Depends on  what your definition of “is” is.(2) believed climate change was occurring, but that humans were not contributing substantially to it(2) (n=119) were classified as climate change deniers http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1532.html#/methods

    Study 1 data were collected in May”“July 2011. From an overall sample of 488 people, a screening item asked whether participants (1) believed humans were contributing substantially to climate change, (2) believed climate change was occurring, but that humans were not contributing substantially to it, or (3) did not believe the climate was changing. Those who chose (2) (n=119) or (3) (n=57) were classified as climate change deniers (n=176; 36% of total sample) and completed the survey. They first provided a short written description of what society would be like in 2050 if widespread action on climate change were to commence from 2011. Next, adapting an approach used previously to investigate the social effects of industrialization, they rated differences in the future society they described compared with today on the dimensions in Table1. They then made environmental citizenship ratings. Twenty-one participants did not follow instructions as they failed to describe a future society, and their data were omitted, leaving a final sample of 155 (53% female).Study 2 data were collected in February 2012. Participants (N=347) completed an online questionnaire. Using the same question as Study 1 to classify deniers/believers, 37% of the sample were deniers (n=128; 56% male; see Supplementry for further details and exclusions). Participants were randomly assigned by computer to one of three framing conditions (Real, Warmth, Development), reading a statement ostensibly from a previous research participant. They were asked to write a summary of the person’s position, followed by the environmental citizenship scale and additional measures (reactions to the statement, identification with/typicality of the person making the statement, demographics).  

  • BBD

    TFYou are a climate fundie, BBD. As well as a troll.

    Nine out of ten paper are crap… ? Or is Poor Tom just saying stuff?

    You had the chance to back up your claim and didn’t. Repeatedly.

    Climate tourette’s Tom. Nasty condition.

  • BBD

    There is some difference and a lot of overlap. A skeptic operates on
    doubt, at least ostensibly, which also is the fuel of scientific
    progress. A denier turns more to faith ““ faith that the world is just
    too big, that god is too just, that discredited ideas remain alive in
    some alternative universe, or something equally lean on data ““ to refuse
    to admit possibility that we’re moving the thermostat. There are better
    definitions I’m sure but those are what I select at this moment. I
    tend to use one or the other depending on how strongly I reacted to something from their combined camps. Outwardly reasonable in tone:
    skeptic. Just plain stupid and usually very angry and spewing insults:
    denier.

  • Ed Forbes

    BBD..”Just plain stupid and usually very angry and spewing insults:denier…”LOL..And here I thought you were a “believer”…now I find you meet your own test for a “denier”…too funny

  • Anteros

    BBD -

    I think you need a little help as to the common usages of the word fundamentalism.

    My beliefs that the world will not come to an end as a result of AGW, that fears of impending catstrophe are exaggerated, and that human adaptability is vastly underrated are just that – beliefs.

    Clearly these are not non-sensical, even if you disagree with them. To call these beliefs fundamentalist (or non-sensical) is idiotic. And stupid – because I’m happy for people to disagree with me.

    Fundamentalism – which you display on a painfully regular basis – is a  characterisation of all and any dissenting views as denial of the fundamentalist’s beliefs, which he mistakes for truth.

    Here is an important distinction. The statement “AGW will be catastrophic if we continue BAU” is not true. It has no truth-value. But to a fundamentalist who cannot distinguish a statement with truth-value and one which is a subjective opinion, it may appear to be true.

    And arguments from (dubious) authority help you out not one bit. From now on, you can self-define as a fundamentalist every time you think that “AGW will be catastrophic if we continue BAU” is true.

    And, seeing as you display that attitude every other comment you make, all and sundry are quite justified in helping you out by telling you what you are.

    A fundamentalist.

  • BBD

    Anteros

    I’m happy for people to disagree with me.

    Saying stuff again.

    As we have established already, I need no help from you with understanding the language, or things written in it. 

    What you do is this:

    The exaggerating and doomsaying [about AGW impacts] will be forgotten and the recollection will be how *close* we were to disaster.

    And this:

    But what does BBD think now? Nothing of course ““ thinking isn’t required. What you’ll hear is that “˜A vast majority of priests (I mean, “˜scientists’) agree that CS is 3C’.

    All the while pretending unconvincingly to be the voice of moderation. In contrast to all those mad fundamentalists, those priests, those ‘scientists’.

    What I do is say ‘bollocks’ (with references, of course).

    You get frilly (see our entire conversational history here) and quickly resort to silly name-calling but never actually produce a solid argument. Recent attempts have been particularly risible. At worst, you resort to obfuscatory bullshit like your # 38.

    Get your logical and evidential ducks in a row if you want to be taken seriously. Keep on behaving like a petulant, pretentious child and that’s how you will be treated.

  • Vinny Burgoo

    ‘Dismissivist’ is quite useful.

  • Anteros

    BBD -

    So, a classic swerve.

    Did you not understand the point about truth-values?

    I guess you found out that you do self-define as a fundamentalist after all and therefore have precisely nothing worthwhile to say.

    Excellent!

  • http://fathertheo.wordpress.com/ FatherTheo

    I call climate change deniers by that term because that is what they are and that is what they do.  If they are offended by that, perhaps they can stop engaging in such offensive and dangerous acts.  And when I regularly see accusations of conspiracy against legitimate climate scientists, when I regularly see threats of violence against these same scientists, when I see pay-offs being collected from fossil fuel companies by climate deniers, I don’t, given the reality of the matter, see that being polite to people by accepting their own (inaccurate) term for themselves is going to change the tone of the conversation.

  • stan

    (30)  “If these people are so stupid in communicating their science why would anyone not be skeptical of their research itself?”Yes.  Only it goes far beyond communication.  Look at the incompetence from CRU, the grossly incompetent whitewashes, the organization and functioning of the IPCC, the stonewalling of requests for data, the abuse of peer review, etc, etc.  The incident where they forced an editor to apologize and resign was a perfect example of the gross stupidity which permeates the whole enterprise.  When people do stupid things repeatedly, it is simply logical to begin to wonder whether they really are as stupid as they act.

  • Gaythia Weis

    This should be a headline writer no brainer.  If you are going to start off with:  “Promoting pro-environmental action in climate change …” you don’t want to finish with something that it should be obvious that many would interpret as BBD did “…Just plain stupid and usually very angry and spewing insults:  Presumably they were actually trying to communicate with someone else a little less dogmatic.I wonder if headline writers are lacking oversight these days.  I was amused to note that a recent Denver Post headline on recent fires first ran online as “Cloudy with a chance of hell: Wildfires Change the Weather”.  By the next day this had been muted down to: “Colorado Scientists: Wildfires Change the Weather”

  • Keith Kloor

    Gaythia (44)

    I’d be inclined to be much more charitable to the paper if the headline was the only issue. (I think people should generally be more flexible about those headlines…)

    But the “deniers” term was used all through the study. I’ve never seen it done like that before in a journal.

  • Sashka

    Anteros et all: Remember that by arguing with an idiot you don’t raise him to your level – you get down to his.

  • Ed Forbes

    I think the best part is that even if one were to except that the low end of the IPCC temp models may have some validity, Nature considers you a “denier”. .Take out natural variability, and even the IPCC notes that a substantial part of the seen temp increase is natural, and land use changes which is also acknowledged to change climate, and there is not much left to attribute to CO2 without resorting to “mathimagical” studies..So…if you do not believe in “mathimagical” studies, you are, by definition, a “denier”..Proud to be a “denier” using these definitions.  

  • BBD

    Anteros

    Here is an important distinction. The statement “AGW will be catastrophic if we continue BAU” is not true. It has no truth-value. But to a fundamentalist who cannot distinguish a statement with truth-value and one which is a subjective opinion, it may appear to be true.

    This is not about ‘truth-values’. This is about the standard position vs evidence-free assertions of all kinds from the contrarains.

    I’m effectively quoting from the standard position. You are airing your unsupported beliefs. The standard position is not fundamentalism. It is a scientific consensus that has evolved from competing hypotheses themselves emergent from decades of investigation by experts. That’s scientists, by the way, not ‘scientists’ or priests as you term them. This consensus contains only those hypotheses most robust to falsification. It is not just belief. It is not just a subjective opinion.

    What you are doing is *false equivalence* mixed with crude attempts to smear the experts (you also used the term dubious authority).

    The C21st projections are evolving on the basis of the most likely climate system responses to the most likely transient climate response to increased GHG forcing. These projections are not beliefs, or opinions. They rest on a scientific consensus and are the product of intensive, competitive investigation by experts.  You and every other ‘sceptic’ under the sun operate under the delusion that whatever you *believe* is in any way comparable. I know you claim otherwise above, but I don’t believe you. At all.

    Once the false equivalence is removed, the ‘sceptics’ are exposed as nothing more than reflexive contrarians and frequently armchair conspiracy theorists to boot.

    At this point, things usually turn ugly. The pretence of reasonableness drops and the name-calling begins. Fundamentalist beliefs are being questioned, after all. And real fundamentalists don’t like that one little bit.

  • BBD

    Sashka

    If you think I’m an idiot, then show me up as one. Sniping from the sidelines like a kid at a playground isn’t going to get you anywhere. It just makes you look unpleasant and petty.

  • BBD

    ‘at a playground fight

  • Ed Forbes

    Hummm….*false equivalence*….lets review..Lamb vs Mann…Yep…More *false equivalence*. I know which ones work on the MWP and the LIA has held up better over the years, and it is not Mann…Without the straight shaft of the “hockystick”, Mann and his “mathimagical” studies gets the shaft…. without the “hockystick” the greenies have nothing to say that the changes in climate seen over the years are not mostly natural.Accepting Lambs work and rejecting Mann makes me a “denier”…..Proud to be a “denier” 

  • Anteros

    BBD -

    You still don’t get it do you? Even your insistence that there is a ‘standard position’ marks you out as a fundamentalist. You sound like someone quoting a Papal fiat. Have you not noticed that it is only you who does that? Why do you think it strikes people as tedious zealotry?

    You also still haven’t begun to grasp the dichotomy between scientific statements and your own subjective value-judgements.

    Although you’ve had ages for it to sink in, you haven’t understood why the likes of Richard Betts won’t agree with you that two degrees is ‘dangerous’. It’s not a fact, it’s isn’t true [and never can be] and therefore your insistence that dissenters from that view are ‘deniers’ shows you to be exactly what people are saying you are – a fundamentalist. It’s like autism on steroids.Sashka -

    I accept what you say, but sometimes it’s worth persevering – perhaps one day the light will go on in BBD’s head and he’ll say “Oh wow, I realise that what I believe isn’t true! Therefore people who disagree with me……just….disagree! I don’t have to be a fundamentalist anymore!”

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Anteros, never wake a sleeping child. Don’t respond to the troll. 

  • kdk33

    But, BBD, you’ve been shown to be an idiot on several occasions.  It hasn’t slowed you down yet.

  • Matt B

    @ 42 FatherTheo,

    As you are a fan of using the word “denier”, what exactly does one have to deny in order to merit the appellation? Thanks in advance!

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

    Hmmm … in my last comment [#26 at 3:02 p.m. blogtime], I had written:

    haven’t been here for a quite a while “¦ too many threads seemed to have been hijacked by a tedious zealot

    In the interim, there have been 27 additional comments of which nine [#'s 28, 29, 30, 32, 35, 36, 39, 48, 49 & 50] were from a single poster.

    YMMV, but it strikes me that, well, a tedious zealot has gone above and beyond the call of duty … and proven my point in the process.

    Amazing.  Simply amazing.

  • Fred

    Nature Climate Change has the more serious problems as the “science” of global warming has collapsed and the economic consequences of energy policies spawned from global warming theory are devastating economies worldwide. Ignoring real issues they focus on the denier vs. skeptic issue. Who cares what the nitwits at Nature Climate Change call those who are in touch with reality.

  • Tom C

    FatherTheo -When exactly have you seen climate change deniers collecting payoffs from fossil fuel interests?

  • Tom C

    BBD – At the risk of making your head explode, I don’t buy that the 3 C thing is the consensus of “expert opinion”.  I think the “experts” have been  self-selected based on membership in the political organization known as the IPCC. 

  • Jeffn

    People who shut down nuke plants and insist on windmills and top-down pipedreams are the only deniers that matter.
    20 years of failure won’t be reversed by more name calling. Especially when the targets of the name calling are quite happy to do the things that work- ie shift to gas and nukes. But it’s fun to watch the zombie movement shuffle around moaning “deniers!” and since some folks have decided its good politics (and Europe has other issues ) nothing will be done for quite some time.
    Good thing this isn’t an urgent problem.

  • Jeffn

    Isn’t there a climate conference starting this week to reinforce the consensus on action?
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/18/us-un-climate-idUSBRE85H19320120618
    Oh, so that’s why were talking about deniers instead of what the consensus gang wants.
    20 years later and Reuters – no conservative bastion – reports that the participants dont know what they want. The goals are “undefined” “vague” “mean different things to different countries.”
    That ain’t Exxon and Heartland’s doing. That’s all the work of BBDs super duper wonder gang. But never mind, if you can’t fully support whatever at great expense to accomplish something or other with the fierce urgency of someday, you might be a “denier.”

  • Sashka

    Everyone! Please! Stop and consider. The guy “thinks” he’s on mission to save the planet. Whatever you say won’t matter because Hansen&Sato and Knutti&Hegerl already told everything there is to know. (On your knees, bend, do 2012 bows hitting your forehead on the cement floor until you get it.) Really, I’m so so nostalgic for good ole “ignore” option from the time when newsgroup ruled.

  • http://www.mutantblog.co.uk andrew adams

    <i>You still don’t get it do you? Even your insistence that there is a “˜standard position’ marks you out as a fundamentalist. You sound like someone quoting a Papal fiat. Have you not noticed that it is only you who does that? Why do you think it strikes people as tedious zealotry?</i>Rubbish, and deliberately missing BBD’s point. The “standard position” he refers to is the mainstream scientific view which has emerged from decades of research into the subject to the point where there is a consensus amongst experts on many of the important points. To refer to this is not like quoting a “Papal fiat” any more than referring to the “standard position” on, say, evolution would be so. There is stuff we know and other stuff we can say with various levels of confidence, it’s not all merely subjective value judgements.       

  • BBD

    Sashka

    Instead of making a virtue out of ignorance, why not do the suggested reading? Then we could communicate more nearly as equals :-)

  • http://www.mutantblog.co.uk andrew adams

    You still don’t get it do you? Even your insistence that there is a “˜standard position’ marks you out as a fundamentalist. You sound like someone quoting a Papal fiat. Have you not noticed that it is only you who does that? Why do you think it strikes people as tedious zealotry?Rubbish, and deliberately missing BBD’s point. The “standard position” he refers to is the mainstream scientific view which has emerged from decades of research into the subject to the point where there is a consensus amongst experts on many of the important points. To refer to this is not like quoting a “Papal fiat” any more than referring to the “standard position” on, say, evolution would be so. There is stuff we know and other stuff we can say with various levels of confidence, it’s not all merely subjective value judgements.      

  • BBD

    andrew adams

    Keep saying it. The wall of stupid isn’t listening though. But keep saying it anyway.

    Cast your eye over comments here. The rationalists have all given up and gone elsewhere. That’s a real shame.

  • BBD

    Hilary @ 56

    Back with the old delegitimisation tango again I see.

    It was boring at BH and it’s boring here. The only person you actually succeed in making look bad is yourself.

  • BBD

    Anteros

    You still don’t get it do you? Even your insistence that there is a “˜standard position’ marks you out as a fundamentalist.

    No, Anteros, it means I am a rationalist using evidence-based argument. As opposed to a denier making the absurd claim that there isn’t a standard position.

    You also still haven’t begun to grasp the dichotomy between scientific statements and your own subjective value-judgements.

    No, Anteros. That’s *your* problem. See # 48 where I attempt, once again, to explain. The standard position isn’t opinion. It isn’t fundamentalism. Quoting the SP isn’t fundamentalism. Trying to insert a false equivalence in there is *wrong*.

    Misrepresenting RB again… Sigh. We’ve been through this more than once. Further repetition shows that you’ve crossed the line into dishonesty.

    I’m not the one with comprehension problems here. Nor am I the tedious zealot. You may, dimly, be aware that most people share my view of ‘sceptic logic’. This ought to be grounds for a pause for reflection.

    But you will carry on spouting nonsense and accusing the majority of evidence-based rationalists of ‘fundamentalism’. It’s grotesque and silly.

    There’s nothing left to say.

  • http://www.mutantblog.co.uk andrew adams

    One further point, I’ve said this before but it is worth saying again. Yes, it’s true that science does not make value judgements, it can only point in a particular direction and we have to make our own judgements about whether where it is pointing is desirable, and this is necessarily subjective.However, there are certain values which can reasonably assumed to be universally held, and when drawing conclusions from science, economics or any other field which can have an impact on our society it is perfectly fair, within limits, to make judgements which are informed by those values.     

  • Jarmo

    The term “deniers” is also used frequently throughout the paper. It’s quite a striking juxtaposition, since the purpose of the paper is to highlight new research that supposedly shows how those who are skeptical of climate change can still be won over to care about the environment.

    I think the purpose of this paper is to simply legitimize the use of word “denier” to describe all those skeptical of the CAGW consensus view. The stated purpose – how to win over skeptics – is just a smokescreen. Equivalent to a politician trying to win over black voters by using the n-word. 

  • http://www.mutantblog.co.uk andrew adams

    BBD,Sure, the only thing I would say is that “standard position” may not be the best expression to use - I prefer “mainstream scientific view/position”. I appreciate that we all know this is what you mean anyway but it is less open to misinterpretation and also makes an important point. It is a common tactic of skeptics to portray mainstream views as being extreme and fringe views as being mainstream (I don’t really blame them, it’s what I’d do on any subject where I held views outside the mainstream), it’s worth reminding people which is which. 

  • BBD

    Tom C @ 58

    FatherTheo -When exactly have you seen climate change deniers collecting payoffs from fossil fuel interests?

    Are you doubting the word of a man of the cloth? I’m shocked I tell you, shocked.

    Dear old Willie Soon trousered a million bucks from the fossil fuel industry. Pat Michaels grudgingly ‘fessed up to being ‘about’ 40% fossil-fuel powered (I’ll pop the link in a seperate comment to avoid the spam filter).  It does happen you know. Although the beneficiaries are very careful to keep it quiet.

    Another problem is that so long as ‘free market think tanks’ and similar fronts are allowed to hide the sources of *their funding, it’s rather hard to be sure who’s really paying all their ‘fellows’ and ‘experts’.

  • BBD

    Pat Michaels –

    ZAKARIA: Can I ask you what percentage of your work is funded by the petroleum industry?

    MICHAELS: I don’t know. 40 percent? I don’t know.

    You have to smile.

  • BBD

    JarmoI think the purpose of this paper is to simply legitimize the use of word “denier” to describe all those skeptical of the CAGW consensus
    view. The stated purpose ““ how to win over skeptics ““ is just a smokescreen. Equivalent to a politician trying to win over black voters by using the n-word.

    IMO, you win the thread for a surely unbeatable example of repellently self-serving false equivalence.

    ‘Denier’ is a factually accurate description of what many contrarians actually do. The other term is the very distillation of racial hatred and abuse.

    They are qualitatively different to an extreme degree. I originally expressed this rather more forcefully and in block capitals, but decided to edit. Aren’t I being grown-up today?

  • Jarmo

    # 74,

    Well, BBD, you seem to forget that those who pushed the word “denier” into climate debate (Monbiot, Goodman etc.) publicly asserted that the intention was to associate the people so labelled with Holocaust denial and/or denialism (as in denial of truth). I think the writers of this paper are well aware of all this, as are you.

    My point is that this paper will not make any friends among those skeptical of AGW, nor was it intended to. The aim is to legitimize the calling of skeptics as “deniers”, with all the negative associations.

  • BBD

    andrew adams @ 71

    I’m always trying to improve my choice of terminology (see remarks on ‘deniers’ above :-) ), so it’s interesting that you suggest there’s a qualitative difference between ‘standard’ and ‘mainstream’.

    I do use the term ‘mainstream scientific position/view’ although of late, for no particular reason, I’ve tended to favour SP. Perhaps ‘mainstream’ does have a slight advantage in clearly establishing what is fringe ;-)

    I’ll revert back and see what happens. I bet the contrarians won’t stop trying to pretend that there’s no such thing, or it’s just an opinion, or it’s all lies, or it’s group-think, or it’s a conspiracy of leftie scientists, or wibble teapot. Bet you.

    No matter what we call the mainstream scientific view aka scientific consensus aka standard position aka foundation of evidence-based argument.

  • BBD

    Jarmo

    Well, BBD, you seem to forget that those who pushed the word “denier” into climate debate (Monbiot, Goodman etc.) publicly asserted that the
    intention was to associate the people so labelled with Holocaust denial

    This may be true, but I’d be interested to see at least one quote demonstrating it. Can you provide one? 

    The aim is to legitimize the calling of skeptics as “deniers”, with all the negative associations.

    The so-called ‘negative associations’ are a projection of the ‘sceptic’ claim of victimhood. The truth is that by denying the validity of the mainstream scientific position on a matter of the utmost seriousness, ‘sceptics’ have put themselves beyond the pale. They cannot reasonably complain when they are *accurately* described as deniers.

    As I have now said twice here, the howling over the use of the word is is simply an attempt to move the Overton window. It is a transparent attempt to create false legitimacy for what ‘sceptics’ do.

    Your attempt to establish false equivalence between race hate speech and an accurate description of what ‘sceptics’ do illustrates this all too clearly.

    That is why the only proper response is to continue to use the term where appropriate. 

  • steven mosher

    Good to see BBD hard at work winning hearts and minds. He doesn’t really care about saving the planet. He cares only about being able to use the words he wants to. Weird. As somebody who is asking people to change the way they live so that the planet and my grandchildren have a chance, I think I should be willing to at least avoid using the D word. But then unlike BBD I’m serious about wanting to save the planet for my grand children.

  • BBD

    Steve Mosher

    What you don’t do is explain why it is wrong to describe deniers with perfect accuracy as deniers. Nor do you trouble yourself with the way in which ‘sceptics’ are attempting to wrap themselves in fake respectability by claiming victimhood over this issue. A pretence which will, of course, facilitate their continuing obstruction of any action whatsoever. That will have some degree of negative impact on your grandchildren’s quality of life.

    This makes me discount the seriousness of what you say.  My son will be five in August btw. Just in case you were wondering about my motivation here.

  • TanGeng

    Sounds like a battle between zealots and heretics, where all the people in the middle are cast as “denying” unbelievers for lack enthusiasm in the “cause.”I think the authors know their audience though.  It’s targeted at media, communication, and marketing of the zealous.  It’s not for the general population.

  • BBD

    TG

    Tedious. The mainstream scientific position is not ‘zealotry’. Evidence-based argument is not ‘zealotry’. Deniers are deniers, not ‘heretics’. We’ve been through this and it’s *all* false equivalence. Perhaps you might want to read the last part of the thread before further comment.

  • Matt B

    @ BBD 79

    What you don’t do is explain why it is wrong to describe deniers with perfect accuracy as deniers.

    BBD, what exactly do the deniers deny? And, by your definition, is Mosher a denier? Seriously, I am curious.

  • http://www.mutantblog.co.uk andrew adams

    Steven Mosher,I personally do care about saving the planet but I am not under the illusion that arguments on climate blogs will have the slightest impact on whether this actually happens. That’s not to say that winning hearts and minds is not a valid objective, but the hearts and minds which are able to be won will not be reached through forums such as this.  

  • TanGeng

    @Mosher 78One of my pet peeves the use of “serious” in policy discussions to narrow down the spectrum of policy possibilities. I’m guessing that it was mostly snark directed at BDD, who incidentally has a stunning lack of self-awareness.What I don’t see is how many of us are very serious about (actively driving or developing feasible projects) saving the planet (climate change) or can even possibly be serious about climate change. It’s too large of an undertaking for any one person to be engaging in. You’d have to be among the leadership of an environmentally minded organization and be able to coordinate billions of people to be in the running for serious. The bulk of us are open-minded, value environmental protection goals, and will favor environmentally friendly behavior. We leave the bulk of the effort and “heavy lifting” to others. In the arena of climate change, we don’t even matter because there isn’t an effective, economical, and well-coordinated proposed solution available.

  • BBD

    @ 82

    No Matt, you are trolling, which is why you’ve been getting ignored. You can stop now.

  • BBD

    TG

    mostly snark directed at BDD, who incidentally has a stunning lack of self-awareness.

    At least I can tell the difference between real and false equivalence.
    :-)

  • BBD

    andrew adams

    That’s not to say that winning hearts and minds is not a valid objective, but the hearts and minds which are able to be won will not be reached through forums such as this. 

    I take the point, really I do, but I also recall Keith getting quite annoyed with someone else for presuming to know the mind-states of the non-commenting readership here.

  • harrywr2

    #174 BBD“˜Denier’ is a factually accurate description of what many contrarians actually do.

    The IPCC AR4 states that a climate sensitivity of less then 1.5C is ‘very unlikely’. It doesn’t state that it is impossible.

    I will just give today’s real world example

    The forecast for Minot,ND is 70% chance of rain. About the same likelihood that climate sensitivity is between 2C and 4.5C according to the IPCC.

    The only available hotel room is sad and priced way beyond what a ‘normal’ 5 star hotel would charge.(There is an oil boom nearby)

    I can believe the weather man, and pay another night’s exorbitant rate and watch the cockroaches or take the weather forecast with a grain of salt and risk getting wet(The wife and I are traveling on a motor scooter) and move on to a better hotel in the next city.

    If the rain ends up being heavy I will have made a ‘bad choice’ because I will have to turn back and stay in the overpriced cockroach infested hotel anyway, if the rain ends up being light I will have simply exchanged the  discomfort of staying in an overpriced  cockroach infested motel for the discomfort of getting a little wet. If it doesn’t rain at all then I will have made a ‘good choice’.

    This is what the ‘climate debate’ is all about. Deciding how much weight to give a forecast given the costs of heeding the forecast and the potential costs or benefits of ignoring or discounting the forecast.

    Those who use the word ‘deniers’ are ‘denying’ the fact that the IPCC has issued an ‘uncertain forecast’. 70% chance of rain does not mean rain is a certainty or heavy rain is a certainty.

  • Tom C

    BBD – thanks for the link to a Greenpeace web site regarding Willie Soon.  Nice to use trustworthy, unbiased sources.  I found out that ”GASP” Soon came under the influence of “denier” Robert Jastrow” who was ”GASP” a highly accomplished scientist.  Over the course of a long career Soon received grant money for his research.  I don’t find this at all troubling.  Unlike James Hansen, who has received his millions as purely personal gain. 

  • http://www.mutantblog.co.uk andrew adams

    BBD,
    Point taken – if there is a value to these kind of discussions then it comes from the possibility that there are non-committed people who are reading but not commenting. I’m just not convinced that this is true, or at least in sufficient numbers to make a real difference. The evidence from the people who do comment on climate blogs (and indeed blogs specialising in any specific controversial topic) is that they are frequented by people on both sides who have particularly vehement views on the subject and whose minds are not likely to be changed by arguing with people with opposing views, I’m not sure there is a parallel audience of unconvinced and open minded people. As I said at Bart’s recently you are more likely to reach people who are genuinely open minded on the subject through blogs not specifically devoted to climate change, ie general political sites, but even then you are still only reaching the relatively small subset of people who are interested in reading arguments on the internet. Ultimately most people get their information from Newspapers and TV – the nonsense article by Delingpole in this weeks Mail on Sunday is, alas, likely to have far more influence than any blog discussion.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Because I object to the use of the term denier, I have had the dubious opportunity to engage with a lot of those who cling to it like a totem. They are at the opposite end of the spectrum from those like Bart Verheggen or Andrew Adams (both of whom I believe will slip and use it unintentionally on occasion). Climate fundies, such as Rabett, Johnson and now the infestatious BBD, cannot let it go because of the presumed power it gives them. As they never define what it is that is being denied, they can use it against any who oppose them. And they do.Face it. If you’re on the wrong side of the climate fight you’re just a kike/nigger/spic/wop/mic/raghead/camel jockey/bitch.

  • Jarmo

    #77,Monbiot and Delingpole had a debate on the denial topic. Make a bold guess who was on which side… 

    Saying the unsayable: is climate scepticism the new Holocaust denial?”

    http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2009/11/copenhagen-saying-the-unsayable-is-climate-scepticism-the-new-holocaust-denial/

    Everybody knows that the “climate change denier” was modeled after “holocaust denier” with the intention to denigrate and insult. It is interesting that a scientific journal uses it now, simultaneously claiming that the purpose is to examine how to win over the very people it calls “deniers”.

    In the real world the Chinese are building 1 GW of coal power every week with the blessing of Kyoto Protocol. Sort of ironic, isn’t it?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Enough with the butt-hurt act Tom. @Keith,Since you obviously object to usefulness of the term ‘denier’, would you care to comment on its appropriateness after considering  Micha Tomkiewicz‘s thoughts?

    The Webster Dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of racial, political or cultural groups”. There is no question that the Holocaust was a genocide. Genocides do not repeat themselves exactly. They come in different guises. Despite the deniers, it is straightforward to teach students to condemn the Holocaust, but it is more difficult to teach them how to prevent future genocides. One of the most difficult parts is to see them coming. Despite the fact that Hitler published the first volume of his manifesto, Mein Kampf, in 1925, where he laid out his philosophy, he was, nevertheless, democratically elected as German Chancellor in 1933. Few people believed in 1933 that he would seriously try to accomplish what he preached or anticipated the consequences that resulted from his actions.

    Predictions by the Intergovernmental Plan on Climate Change (IPCC) and most scientists, strongly suggest that we may be creating our next genocide ourselves; a “business as usual” scenario over the next 70 years (the expected lifespan of my grandchildren ““ my definition of “Now” in the book) will result in doubling of greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions at these levels would result in major extinctions around the globe, with more than 40% of ecosystems destroyed. The belief that we are not part of the ecosystems is a dangerous hubris. We have just passed the 7 billion population mark and even if we take the 40% prediction with a large grain of salt, we are talking about the potential genocide of billions of people.

    Arnold Toynbee wrote that civilizations die from suicides, not murder. Even if the predicted consequences of “business and usual” environmental scenarios over the next 70 years turn out to be wrong in some details and even slightly wrong in timing, it’s clear that once we pass a critical point in the ability of the planet to adapt to the accumulation of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere, the consequences amount to global suicide ““ a self-inflicted genocide. We know what we must do to mitigate this possible future genocide, but we need our collective will to do so. We can’t allow the deniers to win again.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    And we can’t allow the niggers to get the vote.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Enough with the butt-hurt act Tom. 

    @Keith,

    Since you obviously object to usefulness of the term ‘denier’, would you care to comment on its appropriateness after considering  Micha Tomkiewicz‘s thoughts?

    The Webster Dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of racial, political or cultural groups”. There is no question that the Holocaust was a genocide. Genocides do not repeat themselves exactly. They come in different guises. Despite the deniers, it is straightforward to teach students to condemn the Holocaust, but it is more difficult to teach them how to prevent future genocides. One of the most difficult parts is to see them coming. Despite the fact that Hitler published the first volume of his manifesto, Mein Kampf, in 1925, where he laid out his philosophy, he was, nevertheless, democratically elected as German Chancellor in 1933. Few people believed in 1933 that he would seriously try to accomplish what he preached or anticipated the consequences that resulted from his actions. 
    Predictions by the Intergovernmental Plan on Climate Change (IPCC) and most scientists, strongly suggest that we may be creating our next genocide ourselves; a “business as usual” scenario over the next 70 years (the expected lifespan of my grandchildren ““ my definition of “Now” in the book) will result in doubling of greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions at these levels would result in major extinctions around the globe, with more than 40% of ecosystems destroyed. The belief that we are not part of the ecosystems is a dangerous hubris. We have just passed the 7 billion population mark and even if we take the 40% prediction with a large grain of salt, we are talking about the potential genocide of billions of people. 
    Arnold Toynbee wrote that civilizations die from suicides, not murder. Even if the predicted consequences of “business and usual” environmental scenarios over the next 70 years turn out to be wrong in some details and even slightly wrong in timing, it’s clear that once we pass a critical point in the ability of the planet to adapt to the accumulation of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere, the consequences amount to global suicide ““ a self-inflicted genocide. We know what we must do to mitigate this possible future genocide, but we need our collective will to do so. We can’t allow the deniers to win again.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    He’s right. And we know that the Holocaust never really happened. The kikes control the media as well as the banks and they rewrote history for their own benefit.

  • Keith Kloor

     Tom Fuller (94, 96)

    This thread is getting debased enough. I know you’re being facetious, but enough. 

    I’ll have another comment related to Marlowe’s question (95) in a few moments. 

  • BBD

    Face it. If you’re on the wrong side of the climate fight you’re just a kike/nigger/spic/wop/mic/raghead/camel jockey/bitch.

    Face it Tom, the ‘sceptics’ have nothing except excitable rhetoric and false equivalence. This being so, they must accept the ostracism attendant on denying the validity of the mainstream scientific position on so serious a matter.

    Instead, they cry victim. As you so eloquently and distastefully demonstrate above. The hypocrisy (or delusion; doubtless it varies from case to case) is jaw-dropping.

    Witness the full range of fake claims of victimhood that can be used to establish false equivalence with real victims.

    This is the cart built of other peoples’ misery and bones in which ‘sceptics’ are trying to move the Overton window.

    I said earlier that Jarmo’s effort in this direction was probably unbeatable. This just goes to show how wrong one can be.

  • BBD

    Keith

    We crossed. Sorry.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    In normal conversation a term has something close to a mutually agreed upon definition.  Where disputes arise they are quickly resolved and understanding increases.

    In the world of polemics, the use of insult is specifically designed to prevent understanding, communication and advancement of understanding.

    Why does Marlowe Johnson like to use the term denier? For the same reason he tries to medicalize dissent, labeling opponents ill or deficient. For the same reason he tries so hard to associate his opponents with organizations he abhors, like the U.S. Tea Party movement.

    It’s classic movement behaviour. It has its antecedents in struggles by and between leftist movements going back to the 1880s. (Keith, as a leftist I hope I can use that term.)

    The great fallacy is to believe that Marlowe Johnson, BBD, Eli Rabett ad nauseum are interested in communication. They are not.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Tom I’m sorry if it upsets you that I’m more interested in getting people to think clearly about the nature of the problems we face and the consequences of various policy options than I am in making you feel all warm and fuzzy.

    I understand why you want to claim ownership of the term denier/denial/denialist/denialism, as does BBD. Faux outrage is often a useful, if literally pathetic rhetorical tactic.

  • Michael Larkin

    Picking up signals from some newly-discovered planet, we become aware that some sort of highly polarised argument is in progress. We’re not quite sure what it’s about, but it’s apparent that one side, A, enjoys the support of the majority of the elites, although opposition from the other side, B, may be numerically comparable.

    We note that many A’s use denigratory pejoratives, and increasingly, believe that the B’s are mentally afflicted: in fact, in need of psychological remediation. Whilst it’s true that many B’s think of A’s in similar ways, since A’s are generally supported by the elites, and elites hold the power, the situation isn’t completely symmetrical.

    Eventually, we discover that the argument is about an issue that is thought of as being scientific. How strange, we think. If it’s about a scientific issue, then we wouldn’t expect the use of pejoratives and invective to try to win the argument–but rather, rational, sober debate. We’re tending to conclude, on balance, that whatever the issue is, it’s almost certainly still moot.

    Of course, we have the luxury of living on a planet where all our great arguments, particularly in the realm of science, are pursued in an utterly rational way. It’s so very hard for us to understand how and why events are unfolding on that distant planet in the way they are. We can only hope that in the fullness of time, its people will evolve as far as we have.

    Some of our investigators claim to have been picking up a few signals from a third group, C. These investigators believe that the C’s actually are showing signs of evolution to our level. If so, we can only wish them well and hope we can one day accept all their planet’s peoples into our Galactic Federation of Rational Sentient Beings.

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe (95)

    The answer to your question is a new post I just put up.

    Now, if people want to continue the conversation, please start fresh over there–sans the insults and mud-slinging.  Let’s strive for a more constructive exchange.

  • Jarmo

    #98,

    Do you honestly expect people not to object when CAGW activists equate them with Holocaust deniers? And when they object, they are hypocrites?

    I have to say one thing for CAGW: it seems to give its supporters an immediate moral superiority.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    The trolls go silent whenever they are asked to a) define denialism in concrete terms and b) describe behaviour of the person they are talking to that qualifies them for the epithet.BBD, I’m talking to you.What do you have to deny to be a denier? What have I (or anyone here whom you so insult) written that causes you to attach your hate speech to us?Be specific.

  • TanGeng

    @Tom Fuller 100I’m partially sympathetic with you, but I don’t seeing any reason to take offense. The zealots resort to labeling as a tactic, and it’s annoying but roll with it. If you think that it is putting people off of engaging with them, call them out on it and oblige their tactics and stop engaging with them. Don’t pay them any attention and the serially obnoxious comments fade into the black. But back about the Psychology study:Here’s the criteria for the “deniers.”

    Study 1 data were collected in May”“July 2011. From an overall sample of
    488 people, a screening item asked whether participants (1) believed
    humans were contributing substantially to climate change, (2) believed
    climate change was occurring, but that humans were not contributing
    substantially to it, or (3) did not believe the climate was changing.
    Those who chose (2) (n=119) or (3) (n=57) were classified as climate change deniers (n=176; 36% of total sample) and completed the survey.

    Here’s the generalization about “deniers” with the open assumption being basis for the entire set of “intuitive strategy.”

    Assuming that denial results from deception, ignorance or
    misunderstanding, change agents intuit that the answer lies in
    presenting the evidence for climate change in clearer, more cogent and
    more convincing ways4. However, this intuitive strategy may not be effective11, because believers and deniers evaluate the evidence for climate change using different frameworks12.

    Then there is the entire purpose of the paper, a sale job to “deniers” on the “pro-environment” action via its perceived tertiary benefits.

    Social psychologists have shown that people have a deep concern with
    their group being seen as interpersonally warm, competent and moral22, 23, 24.
    People typically also want to live in a society with strong societal
    development (for example, scientific progress and economic growth) and
    minimal dysfunction (for example, crime and poverty). We predicted that
    deniers may be motivated to engage in pro-environmental action where
    they think climate change action would result in people becoming more
    moral, interpersonally warm and competent, and where action would lead
    to greater societal development or reduced societal dysfunction.

    This is all about stealth conversion of those “deniers.” What can you say but that the authors were targeting a very narrow audience with the paper. It wasn’t meant for everyone.Evaluate the paper for what it is. The actual content and purpose is far more odious than the serial use of “deniers.” The word choice only went to underscore who the Authors were addressing when they wrote out the paper.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    TanGeng, thanks for that. I personally think it’s part of a Long Game meant to medicalize dissent. The opponents of the fundamentalism have something wrong upstairs…

  • BBD

    Tom

    Stow the rhetoric for once. The issue you are trying do *divert attention from* is nailed at # 98.

    We all know what the mainstream scientific position is, and we all know that your schtick is denying it while clumsily pretending not to. 

  • NewYorkJ

    “Deniers” are extremely unlikely to ever get their heads out of the sand, so using the term just tells it like it is. The “fatso” analogy isn’t very good. Fatsos usually want to lose weight. Deniers don’t want to learn anything.

    True that “denier” is not in the peer-reviewed journals often. Still, from an AMS BAMS publication Judith Curry is lead author on
    http://patarnott.com/atms749/pdf/HurricanesAndPolitics.pdfIn addition to critiques by well-known global warming deniers
    Global tropical SST is increasing as a result of greenhouse warming. Greenhouse warming deniers

    In the media debate on global warming and  hurricanes, greenhouse-warming deniers (which, in addition to scientists, includes lawyers and others with  at  best  minimal  scientific  credentials)  are  set side  by  side  with  scientists  who  have  actually  done the work and published papers on the subject.

    In addition to debate with greenhouse-warming deniers,

    “Denier” is in some cases inaccurate.  It implies one is sincerely deluded.  Many are not deniers, but fibbers who are most certainly aware they are full of —-.

    See Appell’s commentary.  ”Scoffer” isn’t bad.
    http://davidappell.blogspot.com/2012/06/better-word-than-denier.html 

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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, a senior editor at Cosmos magazine, and 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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