The Conversion

By Keith Kloor | September 11, 2012 4:38 am

It’s always a curious thing when liberals become conservatives (or vice versa), and people do an about-face on climate change or atheism. You wonder what triggered the conversion. Was it a gradual shift, an existential crisis, or an epiphany?

On individual issues, I wonder if it depends on how deeply you are invested in a given position. For example, a week ago, the cartoonist Doug Piraro wrote that genetically modified food “scares the crap out of me.” Here was his accompanying cartoon.

In a follow-up post days later, Piraro recanted:

Thanks to several comments by readers, I did more thorough research and completely changed my mind.

His amended cartoon:

Whoa. That was quick. In his post, Piraro attributes his sudden turnabout to him

being an open-minded, reason-based person instead of, say, a politician; you don’t stick to erroneous beliefs in the face of new evidence for fear that people will think you are fallible.

But lots of people who aren’t politicians stick to “erroneous beliefs” in the face of contrary evidence. And the GMO issue is a prime example. In a post elsewhere earlier this year, I discussed the relevant Cultural Cognition work by Yale University’s Dan Kahan, and also quoted from American Association of Advancement of Science (AAAS) President Nina V.Fedoroff, who had speculated on why many people remain so opposed to genetically modified foods:

The explanation probably lies in our own psychology. Belief systems, especially if they are tinged with fear, are not easily dismantled with facts.

But if some belief systems aren’t so locked in, as may be the case with the cartoonist Doug Piraro, perhaps reason and facts can win out over fear.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: GMOs, science
MORE ABOUT: GMOs, science
  • http://theidiottracker.blogspot.com/ Robert

    I like this book at that subject:http://www.amazon.com/Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not/dp/0151010986Cognitive dissonance is a powerful theory for effectively explaining the otherwise baffling habit of people (from all walks of life) to vigorously defend bad ideas.

  • jeffn

    Slightly off topic, but I just followed the link from your twitter feed to the discussion on organic farming (which many greens think should replace “factory” farming).
    The discussion at the NY Times opens with this sentence about organic farming in the first paragraph:

    “Since the early 1980s, careful productivity studies conclude that organic yields are only slightly lower than conventional yields, and organic production leaves soils in much better shape “” boding well for future productivity. ”

    Why do otherwise rational people write something like this? Seriously. Pesticide use is an extraordinarily expensive and labor intensive part of farming- an industry where using a GPS to improve the layout of rows made a huge difference in profit margins. Yet this author is claiming that farmers have been aware for 30 years that one of their biggest expenses is all a waste of money.
    If this were actually true, pure greed would have made every farmer “organic” by 1990. Anyone who does not have a dog in this fight can see this.

    Is it “science” that she can find “careful productivity studies” that support her notions?
    Source of the quote: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/09/10/is-organic-food-worth-the-expense/buying-organic-fruits-and-vegetables-is-a-personal-choice

  • Matt B

    A lot of times it is not so much people clinging to belief systems as it is staying loyal to their team. I know a lot of Republicans that deride Obama as a free spender (which I agree with) yet will not criticize Bush Jr (or Reagan for that matter) for the same behaviour. They say their belief is in small gov but in reality they accept whatever outcome that comes from their boys while knee-jerking criticism for the opposition. Outcome? No issues ever really get debated because neither side cares about the basic facts……….and the sad thing is that the biggest team boosters have the biggest mouths because they care the most……..  Are there rational people that are capable of changing their mind? Yes. Are they few & far between? Yes.

  • Keith Kloor

     Matt B (3),

    The tribalism dynamic you describe is certainly true and a big hindrance to honest, constructive debate on many important issues.

     

  • Joshua

    Keith -

    I have no idea why you keep talking about that whole Cultural Cognition stuff. Judith Curry has provided a thorough criticism of the methodology of those studies, and weighed in with her careful analysis:

    The “˜bullshit detector’ issue is much more cogent IMO in explaining skepticism than “˜motivated reasoning.’

    I mean, seriously, there is a vast body or carefully controlled research proving the bullshit detector construct that has completely displaced the antiquated notion of motivated reasoning

    On a more serious note – I think it is a bit of a mistake to focus on the role of motivated reasoning/cultural cognition only w/r/t maintaining “erroneous beliefs.” Those phenomena underlie how all of reason in basically any context, particularly those which are controversial and which overlap with cultural, political, and ideological identifications. The impact is larger than simply on how people interpret the evidence to formulate beliefs about GMOs or climate change.

  • Joshua

    jeffn-

    quote:“Since the early 1980s, careful productivity studies conclude that
    organic yields are only slightly lower than conventional yields, and
    organic production leaves soils in much better shape “” boding well for
    future productivity. “

    your response: Why do otherwise rational people write something like this?

    Do you have some specific criticism of the methodology or analysis in the studies the article references? Otherwise, I believe that your argument there is what some might refer to as an argument from incredibility.

  • Keith Kloor

    Joshua (5)

    You constantly decry the food fight dynamic in the blogosphere (esp wrt climate change), yet you use your first comment in this thread  to shoot a spitball in Judith’s direction.

    Additionally, what makes you think that all the readers here are going to be familiar with Judith’s post, which you don’t even link to? 

    How about practicing what you preach?

  • Tom C

    There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom.  Persons who rely on knowledge often don’t realize that the set of facts from which they are reasoning is almost never complete.  As Donald Rumsfeld said, there are “unknown unknowns”. 

    Persons who rely on wisdom may not have a great grasp of all the facts, but appreciating the existence of unknown unknowns, they rely on recognition of patterns of behavior that repeat across the generations.  
    Neither approach is infallible.  Sometimes there is a bit of truth in each approach. 

    I have no problem with GMOs, but I can appreciate the position of those who might think that pluging ahead with modifying nature to a drastic extent will have unintnded consequences.  That at some point we will need to step back and say “Oh, we didn’t think about that”.  The use of pesticides is probably a good example.  In the end a compromise position borrowing from each approach is worked out.

  • Tom C

    Re CAGW, I agree with Judith about the importance of BS detection.  For those of us over 50, the experience of having the “Population Bomb” hyped and then diffused is powerful.  It is not just that the same type of people are pushing the new scare, it’s that it is in many cases the exact same people. Our BS detectors are swinging off the scale.

  • BillC

    #1 – Robert – that is indeed a good book, and I need to re-read it. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Joshua

    Keith (#7)

    Fair point. Jell-o-flinging is never productive.

    It is generally true, however, that many combatants on both sides of the debate refuse to acknowledge and control for the scientific evidence that helps us to understand the cognitive and cultural/political/ideological influences that lead to confirmation bias. Well, that is on their side only — while they often point to those phenomena on the other side.

    So, since it is useful to discuss notable combatants dismissing that science, as you often do, is it useful to point out other examples, as I did? If so, how do we structure that discussion so that it isn’t just more of the same unproductive bickering? Let me try again, eliminating the snark to see if it helps:

    Judith, as an influential person in the debate, specifically dismissed the role of what you referenced, even as she specifically endorsed intuitive understanding as an analytical tool. Certainly, intuitive understanding has a important role to play – as we might ascertain from the work of people like Kahneman. But as with exploitation of the concept of motivated reasoning for partisan goals (saying that only “skeptics” are influenced by politics) – one-sided endorsement of intuitive understanding needs scrutiny as well

    Is that any better? Or, can we only discuss these issues completely separated from reference to individuals to avoid the food fight character?

  • Keith Kloor

    Joshua,

    While I’m familiar with the op-ed Judith references in her post, and might well post on it, since it’s in line with something I’m working on, I’m not interested in debating Judith’s perspective in this comment thread.

    I’m aware that many climate skeptics don’t recognize their own motivating reasoning. Other than pointing that out, what’s there to say? 

    This particular post happens to be on GMOs and people who change their positions. But if you want to steer the conversation to climate change and other people want to play with you in that well-trod sandbox, have at it.

  • Tom Scharf

    NYT Room For Debate: Is Organic Food Worth the Expense?

    http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/09/10/is-organic-food-worth-the-expense 

    Judge who has the most compelling argument, and who is using groundless fear of the unknown (and unseen) as their main talking point.  My favorite was this one:

    Agricultural chemical poisoning kills one million people a year, with millions more made severely ill by it.

    Organics are on the defensive due to the recent Stanford study which showed very little benefits (other than emptying your wallet faster) from eating organics.  Nothing a little scare mongering can’t cure.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Keith,

    To answer your question, I believe it’s an epiphany.

    Here’s my latest one:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/31337448327

    Maybe it’s just a vocabulary thing.

  • Tom Scharf

    #2 – Oops you beat me too it.  I laughed out loud when I read the term “careful productivity studies”.  This is clearly code for only using the “careful” studies that support your position.  Anytime you see studies prefaced with adjectives like this, it means they are filtering to some nebulous standard.  A tip off that propaganda follows.  

    Organic farming is more productive than “Big Agriculture”.   Carbon taxes create more jobs.  Why even make these arguments?  It just sends your credibility into the dumper.  

  • Joshua

    OK Keith – I won’t refer to cultural cognition or related questions, on this thread, in reference to any topics other than GMOs.

    After all, I wouldn’t want Tom Fuller to think I’m a troll. :-)

  • Tom Scharf

    #6 Joshua, Stop wasting people’s time and filling the thread with dead code.  Spend all of 20 seconds and click the provided link to find out she references no specific studies.  It takes less time than writing your useless post.

  • Tom C

    Joshua – Re your #6. At some point reasoning has to proceed by appeal to common knowledge and common sense.  Every little point cannot be proven by appeal to “studies”.  All of life has not been mastered by academics doing “studies”.  Your constant demand for “studies” is maddening.

  • Joshua

    #17 (Tom)

    Feel free to not waste your time in any way you wish. Blaming me for wasting your time based on decisions you make seems like a failure of accountability.

    It is off-topic from the GMO focus – but I don’t think that Keith would mind….

    I’ve been looking through the “Room for Debate” articles and comments in response. Seems to me like there are solid and weak arguments presented as to the benefits/advisability of organic farming. For example, we might talk about the weaknesses or strengths  of Lomborg’s analysis, or that of Patel? I see weaknesses and strengths in both analyses. How ’bout you?

  • MarkB

    The most interesting question I see raised here is how Piraro came to be so sure of himself in the first place. On one hand, he thinks he knows enough to skewer GMOs. On the other, a modicum of research changes his mind 180 degrees. If his mind could be changed with so little effort, how is it that he was willing to put himself on the line with his original position? I would suggest that Pirano followed a classic model – he ‘knew what side he was on.’ Absent any real knowledge of the subject, he was happy to opine on it because he knew where right-thinking people stood.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I think conversions are usually the result of reaching tipping points and that those tipping points are not necessarily based on information acquisition. 

    I find it more likely that the importance of an issue to an individual rises for one reason to another, this spurs a flurry of quick ‘research’, identifying spokespersons they can trust, and adoption of the attitudes and proposals of those spokespersons. 

    At which point it then slides down the scale of importance and most go on with their lives. A very few become enthused enough to take up the torch and become advocates of their new-found position.

    I don’t have substantial evidence to support this construct. However, I have seen it happen that way frequently.

  • Mary

    The strangest thing about this organic/conventional drama is that there’s not a single person trying to prevent anyone from using organic tools and strategies if they choose that. You are free to be as inefficient as you want with your land and animals.

    What’s going on is that “team organic” is trying to restrict other’s options because they disapprove. That’s why Marion Nestle’s “personal choice” tidbit is particularly odious. Choice for her, but not for farmers who want to use technology or consumers who accept the benefits.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Perhaps reason and facts about intellectual rights of GMO would help convert people over the power of reason and facts.

  • Matt B

    @ 20 Mark B – exactly! Clearly he was initially comfortable with his tribe’s opinion, even though he had spent little time delving into the why’s & the hows……but it is a little sad that Piraro is noteworthy because he looked at more info & changed his mind.

    The problem with the tribes is when they get active & pushy. For instance, the Amish believe in things that most of us want nothing to do with, but who cares? They’re minding their own business, paying their own way by making some sweet furniture and hosting some nice all you can eat buffets, so who gets into philosophical tussles with the Amish?

  • harrywr2

    #21 Tom Fuller

    I think conversions are usually the result of reaching tipping points
    and that those tipping points are not necessarily based on information
    acquisition

    Tipping points are fairly well documented in the Military Sciences.In any insurgency/civil war the first side to win 2% active support wins. It’s one of the reasons politicians prefer to pay for yard signs rather then billboards. What you and I believe is in some way impacted by what our neighbors believe. NOAA/FEMA also have also done some research out on effectiveness of hazardous weather warnings. They found a prevalence of ‘key individuals’ within neighborhoods that were determinants of whether or not the neighborhood evacuated.I.E. Joe Smith at the end of the street who seems to us to be a fairly prudent fellow is packing up and going…maybe I should go too.

  • Matt Skaggs

    “The explanation probably lies in our own psychology. Belief systems, especially if they are tinged with fear, are not easily dismantled with facts.”One again we see the skeptical portrayed as the somehow intellectually diminished.  Why might a rational person be skeptical of GMO?  First and foremost is that life can replicate beyond our control, as with tamarisk drying up rivers in the American West and cheatgrass making grazing land useless.  How is that risk bounded for frankenweeds?  The answer is that there is no good way to do that.  A second issue is summarized by this rhetorical question:  what body of objective and independent experts review the risk assessments for GMOs and determine whether they are adequate?  As near as I can tell, the answer is that there is none.  Folks might be interested in knowing that as recently as the 19th century, bridges and railroad trestles had a nasty habit of falling down.  Now that almost  never happens because designs are standardized and must pass rigorous reviews.  Views of the safety of civil structures has improved along with the actual safety.  The GMO industry, instead of insulting the doubters with pscyhobabble, needs to do the heavy lifting of forming an oversight system that mirrors what occurs in civil engineering.    Then they need to perform exhaustive risk assessments and submit them for independent review.  Only then can they gain the trust of the public.

  • BBD

    Why might a rational person be skeptical of GMO?

    Because they know nothing about GM?

  • BBD

    Paging Mary. If you can be bothered…

  • Tom Scharf

    #19 Do you really require someone to be Captain Obvious for you?  If you have a strong argument against GMO, make it.  The benefits are Captain Obvious.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    an interesting speech by a former pollster for the right in Canada that is relevant to the current thread

    we now live in a digital world where there is “evidence” for every and any view one might want to embrace. If I believe the world is flat, the internet now puts me in touch with legions of fellow flat earthers and reams of pseudo science to support that belief. As importantly, if I am so inclined, I never have to be exposed to any contrary views and can find total refuge in my community of flat earthers. The Internet therefore, offers me the opportunity to have a completely closed mind and at one in the same time, fill it full of nonsense disguised as fact. In a brand new way therefore, the internet democratizes not just individual opinion but legitimizes collective ignorance and spreads a bizzaro world of alternative reason. When this occurs, prejudice and bias is reinforced and the authority of real science and evidence is undermined or even more likely, never presented. 

  • Keith Kloor

    Mary,

    I love the term “team organic”! I’m going to have to steal that.

    Marlowe,

    Thanks for that link and excerpt. Very relevant, indeed.

  • Menth

    “The crucial insight here comes from psychologist Tom Gilovich at
    Cornell, who says that when we want to believe a proposition, we ask, “
    Can
    I believe it?” “” and we look only for evidence that the proposition
    might be true. If we find a single piece of evidence then we’re done. We
    stop. We have a reason we can trot out to support our belief. But if we
    don’t want to believe a proposition, we ask, “
    Must I believe it?” “” and we look for an escape hatch, a single reason why maybe, just maybe, the proposition is false.”

    http://blog.ted.com/2009/09/27/the_healthcare

    The internet is a very resourceful tool for this type of reasoning.

  • Gaythia Weis

    The above doesn’t leave me inclined to think much of Doug Piraro”s skills at in depth evaluation. I’ve not clear if somebody else has been basing their opinion on that of Doug Piraro, anyway.   Cartoonists may not need to be deep thinkers, their skill set is probably more attuned to quick evaluations of dissonance that can be turned to humor. In terms of the general public, science can be more than a quick cartoon sketch.  It needs to be possible to hold a more complex conversation about GMO’s.  It is a subject with much more nuance than that that could be characterized as a sporting event between team organic and, say,  team Big Ag.  Team science ought to be functioning at a level that makes a football type up/down confrontation look like foolish child’s play.

  • Keith Kloor

    Well said, Gaythia.  

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @33
    +1

    gaythia what you say applies, i think, to just about every  collective problem where facts matter. 

  • Steve Mennie

    Well said Gaythia and thanks for the link to the Allan Gregg speech Marlowe. Very good.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Much of what Gregg laments is discussed in John Ralston Saul’s Voltaire’s Bastards fwiw.

    It’s a problem that truly transcends partisan politics. it’s one of the enduring problems with modernity. However, i would also add that one part of the spectrum is far more reliant on it than the other (hence the accusations of false balance in the MSM).

  • Marlowe Johnson

    the end should ‘of the MSM). my kingdom for an angel editor…

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Brave, brave, brave, brave Marlowe,

    Don’t be shy, be chauvinistic:

    Today the link between reason and justice has been severed and our decision-makers, bereft of a viable ethical framework, have turned rational calculation into something short-sighed and self-serving. The result, Saul observes, is that we live in a society fixated on rational solutions, management, expertise, and professionalism in almost all areas, from politics and economics to education and cultural affairs.

    The cult of expertise is one of the defining characteristics of today’s rational elites, as Saul sees it. “Among the illusions which have invested our civilization is an absolute belief that the solutions to our problems must be a more determined application of rationally organized expertise,” he writes. “The reality is that our problems are largely the product of that application.” The division of knowledge into “feudal fiefdoms of expertise” has meant that general understanding and coordinated action are increasingly difficult and often looked upon with suspicion, as evidenced by our systems of education which reward the specialist and disdain the generalist. It has also resulted in a fracturing of society into smaller and smaller and increasingly insulated professional groups. While the emergence of professionalism has paralleled the rise of individualism over the last two centuries, the result has not been greater individual autonomy and self-determination, as was once hoped, but isolation and alienation. “The professional [found] that he could build his personal empire,” Saul writes, “but curiously enough, the more expert he became, the more his empire shrank.”

    http://www.scottlondon.com/reviews/saul.html

    One could find such criticisms based on the theme of wisdom by philosophers from most generations up to Socrates. In the end, it’s more about finding a voice one can trust and love. Seen that way, Saul’s could be more palatable to a greater majority than say Heidegger, who says about the same in Being in Time, if I am not mistaken.

    Were I chauvinistic, I would comment the voice of Charles Taylor.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    While waiting that my previous comment reappears, here’s Charles Taylor, on the same theme as Saul:

    http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2011/04/11/the-malaise-of-modernity-part-1—5/

  • Menth

    “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them” -David Hume

  • Marlowe Johnson

    at the risk of endorsing a TBI fellow, i’ll point out Ulrich Beck’s observation

    scientific rationality without social rationality remains empty, but scientific rationality without social rationality remains blind. 

  • Mary

    Funny, though, Gaythia: a lot of people who claim the mantle of  “team science” are actually just moving the goalposts. I’ve seen an awful lot of people disparaging the Stanford study based on some kind of misunderstanding of what the study was about. They are all aerated about what it wasn’t, when it was never designed to be what they would prefer it was. That’s not the same thing as being on team science.

  • http://www.r343l.com RachaelLudwick

    The turnaround by Piraro strikes me as what happens when you don’t have much information and have generally just accepted whatever your social group does or believes. I admit this looks a lot how I changed my mind about GMOs. I really had no strongly held opinion — vague notions of “scary” and “bad for the environment”. I was living in San Francisco at the time.  Then I went to a talk by Pamela Ronald and her organic farmer husband Raoul Adamchak (4 years ago?). Initially I probably sounded a *lot* like Piraro here. Hell, I might still though I like to think all the reading and writing I’ve done since then has done me good. The online discussion is polarized but most people just don’t know much about GMOs (or many agriculture topics). It’s one reason I find scare-mongering messages so offensive: those using them must know that their targets are uninformed. It’s almost like we need a little packet of knowledge to make people realize that those scary messages might not be as certain as they sound …

  • Keith Kloor

     Mary (43):

    It is true what you say, though I fault the simplistic media coverage, in part. “Team Organic,” as you call them, have taken issue with how the study was reported in the mainstream media. Some of their complaints are valid. But what what they’ve done, in response, is to move the goalposts, as you have pointed out.

    Thought about doing a post on the whole thing–study, coverage, response–but frankly, have decided to blog much less. Need to focus on some projects and also have pretty much decided to stop blogging for free. Will still put up occasional posts at Collide-a-Scape (and maybe things will change in future), but I just can’t rationalize it anymore.

    Rachael (44)

    Yes, I agree about the scaremongering. I find it particularly galling when it’s encouraged/supported and perpetuated by the intellectual thought leaders who probably do know better, such as Marion Nestle and (it would seem) Michael Pollan. These are very smart people who I assume are familiar with the science. Yet Nestle encourages the worst of the GMO fearmongers and Pollan stays silent on it. 

  • Mary

    Yes, everyone complains about the media coverage. That’s a given. Some of that is fair and some is not. But some of team organic are flat-out lying when they say “we never said there was better nutrition” when we know they did.

    And Nestle repeatedly flogs activist grey literature without caveats, which is funny. If she at least gave it the same critical response like these media complaints it would be intellectually consistent. That is not what has happened.

  • Keith Kloor

    Mary,

    Yes, I agree with you entirely about Nestle’s intellectual inconsistency. I’ve also pointed out her lazy flogging of activist reports.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Keith, if you’re really looking to decrease your workload, you might try experimenting with open threads to keep activity and interest going at low time cost to yourself.

  • jeffn

    Tom, I think the last few days of the “Pushing Back on the Climate Hype” thread show that “activity” doesn’t equal anything interesting.
    Thanks, Keith for a fun forum and best wishes on the paid gigs.

  • Keith Kloor

    Tom (48)

    I’ve never been a big fan of open threads. Plus, I’d still have to follow it and likely moderate it, since I can imagine a bunch of folks just shooting spitballs at one another.

    Jeffn (49)

    The blog isn’t going away. Just slowing to a crawl. I’ll still put up posts once or twice a month, not including those that link to published pieces elsewhere.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    If you ever want a recommendation  for a job well done, you could probably get a fistful from readers here.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Why don’t you get us to put skin in the game? Promise a post for every $100 received in total in your tip jar?

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

    Is intensive antibiotic use to increase meat yields wise?  Is it smart to build bc into plants to increase yields.  These are not so simple as full bore hippie bashing.

  • BBD

    That couldn’t work well for you, Tom. You’d stump up your monthly $20 or whatever it is, but since you’ve vowed never to engage with Marlowe, willard or me again, it would be impossible for you to get a full return on your investment.

  • Joshua

    Sorry that you’re scaling back the blog, Keith – but totally understand your reasons. It’s unfortunately, because I still think your blog has the potential to stimulate a higher than average level of dialog. But the value of that needs to be seen in full context: One blog-island with slightly better dialog in the comments amidst a vast sea of lunchroom food fights at some sites and partisan circle-jerks at other sites.

  • Matt B

    Stay in touch KK! You’re a good bartender…………..

  • jim

     
    Marlowe Johnson #30
     
    Your concerns that the public will stop accepting “real science” because of what wacky people post on the web are ridiculous. 
     
    When science brings us an iPhone or an artificial heart, it’s universally accepted.  When scientists make widely publicized claims about future apocalypse that fail dramatically, they impair their own credibility.   They don’t need help from wackos on the web.  Surely you’ve read Matt Ridley’s “Apocalypse Not,” but if you haven’t, you ought.  Here’s a sample:

     
    “Predictions of global famine and the end of oil in the 1970s proved just as wrong as end-of-the-world forecasts from millennialist priests. Yet there is no sign that experts are becoming more cautious about apocalyptic promises.”

     
    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/apocalypse-not.aspx

  • BBD

    And jim proves Marlowe’s point by quoting Ridley, a non-scientist who gets *everything* about climate science wrong.

  • steven mosher

    Joshua, as tempted as I am to make a joke about your post, I will bite my tongue.

    If you look closely you can spot moshpit. the 80′s in LA. best ever

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY7snfJTgeE&feature=related

  • Tom Scharf

    KK giving up the ghost (and will be missed).

    Revkin posts have become decidedly non-climate change recently

    CA goes radio silent for weeks at a time.

    AGW barely discussed at all in US elections.

    This is a trend even a climate scientist could detect.

    The climate change movement is dying with a whimper.  Only a few dead enders left.  

    Sniff.  Sniff.

  • BBD

    Shame  nobody told the Arctic that it was all a load of commie bollocks.

  • BBD

    And before this meme gets too established:

    KK giving up the ghost (and will be missed).

    Here’s what KK *actually said*:

    The blog isn’t going away. Just slowing to a crawl. I’ll still put up
    posts once or twice a month, not including those that link to published pieces elsewhere.

    Spot the misrepresentation?

    Same old same old. ;-)

  • Tom C

    Tom Scharf – I’m sure, that should Keith keep the “Climate Hype” thread open, we will still see BBD and willard obsessively examining 5 year old CA posts well into the future.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Tom, it’s not just those–Deltoid is down to a monthly open thread. Joe Romm is now emeritus editor of Climate Progress which itself is now just a tabbed heading of Think Progress. Only In It For the Gold is pretty much dead, folded in to P3, which gets at least a dozen visitors a week. Things Break is averaging one post a quarter, Climate Progress about one a month. Only the paid blogs–Real Climate and DeSmog Blog–are soldiering on. Then there’s Eli’s cesspool–but I don’t know what’s happening over there. Maybe he’s showing pictures of Kate Middleton’s upper torso or something equally relevant.

  • BBD

    Sour grapes Tom C. You got your ass handed to you back there…

  • harrywr2

    #66I’ll quote the UK Climate Negotiator -http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/11/us-un-climate-idUSBRE88A0Z720120911

    “The 2 degree goal is sensitive for China who
    needs more than anyone else to achieve that goal, but they would say
    privately they are not sure how to do that,” Betts said.

    There is no point in setting a legally binding goal if nobody knows how to achieve it. Once we know how to achieve the goal at a level of sacrifice that the world is willing to make there is no point in making it legally binding.Solving baseload generation is the easy part, even in that case India is having a public relations nightmare with nuclear power expansion, the Japanese are having problems, the Germans are having problems. Transportation fuels and peaking we have no idea how to do without fossil fuels, at least not at a level of sacrifice anyone is willing to make.

  • BBD

    We probably could have saved ourselves, but we were too damned lazy to try very hard, and too damned cheap.

    Kurt Vonnegut

  • jim

    BBD:
     
     
    Ridley has a PhD in zoology if I’m not mistaken. 
     
     
    Information isn’t dangerous.  Most people can sort the wheat from the chaff.  That’s why we’re producing GM foods instead of being stymied by misleading information from “team organic”.  Freely available information is what allows cartoonists to publish silly comments, but it’s also what allows them to realize their mistake and publically correct it.  Piraro should be commended for having the fortitude to do the right thing. 

  • harrywr2

    #67 BBD

    but we were too damned lazy to try very hard, and too damned cheap.

    http://www.france24.com/en/20120914-frances-hollande-outlines-green-energy-policy

    France, the world’s most nuclear-dependent country… in a deal with the Greens before this year’s parliamentary and presidential elections, Hollande’s Socialist party promised to cut reliance on nuclear energy from more than 75 percent to 50 percent by shutting 24 reactors by 2025.

    How much do you want to bet that France follows the German example and replaces nuclear with coal? Can’t blame this one on  tightwad republicans.;)

  • Howard

    … so it goes

    So Gander-Lander turned back, and met Turkey-Lurkey. “Well, Turkey-Lurkey,
    where are you going?”
    And Turkey-Lurkey said, “I’m going to the wood for some meat.” Then
    Gander-Lander said, “Oh! Turkey-Lurkey, don’t go, for I was going, and I
    met Goose-Loose, and Goose-Loose met Drake-Lake, and Drake-Lake met
    Duck-Luck, and Duck-Luck met Cock-Lock, and Cock-Lock met Hen-Len, and
    Hen-Len met Chicken-Licken, and Chicken-Licken had been at the wood, and
    the sky had fallen on her poor bald pate, and we are going to tell the
    king.”
    So Turkey-Lurkey turned back, and walked with Gander-Lander, Goose-Loose,
    Drake-Lake, Duck-Luck, Cock-Lock, Hen-Len, and Chicken-Licken. And as they
    were going along, they met Fox-lox.
    And Fox-Lox said, ” Where are you going, my pretty maids?”
    And they said, “Chicken-licken went to the wood, and the sky fell upon her
    poor bald pate, and we are going to tell the king.”
    And Fox-Lox said, “Come along with me, and I will show you the way.”
    But Fox-Lox took them into the fox’s hole, and he and his young ones soon
    ate up poor Chicken-Licken, Hen-Len, Cock-Lock, Duck-Luck, Drake-Lake,
    Goose-Loose, Gander-Lander, and Turkey-Lurkey, and they never saw the
    king, to tell him that the sky had fallen!

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller
  • Heretic

    “Reason and facts … “”Deniers” (I hate the term) generally accept:1. Evolution2. Scientific evidence for (pro-) GM3. Nuclear power4. the idiocy of “Truther”, “Birther”, “Moon landing”, “Grassy knoll” &c. conspiracy theories5. the Earth is round (strictly, an oblate spheroid) OR is not flat6. the idiocy of homeopathy7. Climate changes – continuallyOh, generally means 90+% (if not 99+%).All they think is that carbodioxyphobia goes too far – the science (“science”?) doesn’t support it.Falsifiability – fuggetabout it.Whether Antarctic sea ice is increasing or decreasing – our models predicted it!The Amazon is getting dryer (oops … wetter).The E Australian dams will never be full again (oops … overflowing).The UK is heading towards a Meditteranean climate – hotter, dryer (oops … wetter, cooler)US hurricanes will increase in frequency and intensity (oops … how many years?)Do I need to continue?

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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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