Climate Change Denialism

15 07 2013

I’ve been publishing a lot of posts about Climate Change lately, none written by me much…  I feel privileged to have known Mark Cochrane and even more so to have his permission to repost the stuff he writes over at Peak Prosperity.  And whilst most of my followers here agree with the contents of the scientific evidence in those posts, one commenter (yes, YOU Len!) has been the lone contrary voice…..  which has led me to wonder why, in the face of so much evidence, there is still so much denial about this stuff….. denialism which is clearly evident even over at PP where Mark’s original posts reside.

What’s really puzzling about our mate Len is that when you go to his website, such as it is, he’s doing a lot of the same stuff I’m doing…  passive solar house, permaculture, etc etc…….  it’s probably why he’s landed here in the first instance.  In my experience, outside the box thinkers ‘like me’, don’t have a problem with understanding Climate Change.  Because it is not a question of belief, it is a matter of understanding….  obviously, Len does not understand.  He tells us he only went to year 10 at high school, and that’s OK, we can’t all be University graduates (I’m not…), but at least I have a strong basic understanding of science, I understand the scientific process, my son’s a physicist (with whom I have loads of interesting discussions), and being trained in energy, I realise that pumping more energy into the atmosphere, will simply make it…  well… more energetic!

But then on Len’s website there is mention of his religious beliefs…..  now they say you should never enter into arguments over religion and politics, but blogging is not a popularity contest, so here goes…

Religion is all about faith.  Whether you follow the Bible, the Koran, or any other book, you are following ancient writings written by superstitious men (usually) who didn’t even understand that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe… so how anyone can believe anything those people wrote is, well, beyond me.

So here’s the catch:  I think that if you can believe what ancient people tell you without one shred of evidence anything they say is true, then you are capable of believing anything…..  My siblings and me were all raised with no religion.  Both my parents were atheists.  Yet, several of my siblings have converted to the dark side… and some refuse to even talk to me now, because they all believe in conspiracy theories I happen to think are bullshit….  Which is OK.  I’m past caring, after all, the whole world’s going down the toilet, and HE isn’t going to help, we have far more important things to worry about.

Religious people, or at least some of them, can believe the weirdest things……  Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior, James G Watt famously said “After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back” (I wonder what Len, who wants us all to plant loads of trees will make of that..)  So maybe it’s faith that it doesn’t matter what we do to this planet, it’ll all turn out alright, so let’s party…

Maybe it’s plain old “inconvenient truth”, to coin a phrase…  But my biggest problem with deniers is that they know how to sound credible, and that fake credibility has an impact on the way politics deal with what Rudd rightly said (for a change..) was “our generation’s greatestmoral, economic and social challenge of our time”.

Of course by the time it is plainly obvious we are responsible for screwing the planet, and Near Term Human Extinction becomes unavoidable, what will the deniers do?  Apologise publicly?  Fat lot of good that will do……..


This great article turned up which I thought is relevant to this discussion….  here are some excerpts:


Confirmation Bias

We love to agree with people who agree with us. It’s why we only visit websites that express our political opinions, and why we mostly hang around people who hold similar views and tastes. We tend to be put off by individuals, groups, and news sources that make us feel uncomfortable or insecure about our views — what the behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner called cognitive dissonance. It’s this preferential mode of behavior that leads to the confirmation bias — the often unconscious act of referencing only those perspectives that fuel our pre-existing views, while at the same time ignoring or dismissing opinions — no matter how valid — that threaten our world view. And paradoxically, the internet has only made this tendency even worse.


Status-Quo Bias

We humans tend to be apprehensive of change, which often leads us to make choices that guarantee that things remain the same, or change as little as possible. Needless to say, this has ramifications in everything from politics to economics. We like to stick to our routines, political parties, and our favorite meals at restaurants. Part of the perniciousness of this bias is the unwarranted assumption that another choice will be inferior or make things worse. The status-quo bias can be summed with the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” — an adage that fuels our conservative tendencies. And in fact, some commentators say this is why the U.S. hasn’t been able to enact universal health care, despite the fact that most individuals support the idea of reform.

Negativity Bias

People tend to pay more attention to bad news — and it’s not just because we’re morbid. Social scientists theorize that it’s on account of our selective attention and that, given the choice, we perceive negative news as being more important or profound. We also tend to give more credibility to bad news, perhaps because we’re suspicious (or bored) of proclamations to the contrary. More evolutionarily, heeding bad news may be more adaptive than ignoring good news (e.g. “saber tooth tigers suck” vs. “this berry tastes good”). Today, we run the risk of dwelling on negativity at the expense of genuinely good news. Steven Pinker, in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, argues that crime, violence, war, and other injustices are steadily declining, yet most people would argue that things are getting worse — what is a perfect example of the negativity bias at work.

The Current Moment Bias

We humans have a really hard time imagining ourselves in the future and altering our behaviors and expectations accordingly. Most of us would rather experience pleasure in the current moment, while leaving the pain for later. This is a bias that is of particular concern to economists (i.e. our unwillingness to not overspend and save money) and health practitioners. Indeed, a 1998 study showed that, when making food choices for the coming week, 74% of participants chose fruit. But when the food choice was for the current day, 70% chose chocolate.

(NB:  THIS is what I think is happening re attitudes to Climate change..)





12 responses

15 07 2013
Terry J Wall (@terryjw7)

I apologize if anyone has seen these paragraphs before:

Having recently read “The God Virus” and “The God Argument” and coming from a lifetime of oscillating from believer to atheist and remain somewhat of the idea that there still might be something afterwards (probably to do with quantum physics); I now proudly describe myself as a humanist.

Hence I believe that we humans can be intrinsically moral, empathetic and compassionate and do not need to believe in some unproven mystical deity. There is however a huge, but slowly diminishing (thanks to education) trap called religion. Let me give a couple of examples.

The first is being told that you are inherently bad but can have a clean start if you confess to having been at fault. This has the obvious flaw of living without peace and self esteem.

The second is having a narrow education often out one book leading to a belief that everything is “gods will”. If you believe that then you have been brain washed: we all know that god helps those who helps themselves, and it is usually hard work. 🙂

15 07 2013
len gardener

hey mike it is not us lower socio economic find it hard to live majority who did the stuffing, it was moguls and mongers along with politicians who screwed every thing.

all we ever did was go to work pay high taxes while the upper echelon paid little now you and others want to punish us?? and worship the high rollers and their scientific hanger onners.

we masses (who mind you aren’t sold on climate changes no all we did was live in a world created by the wealthy and shareholders.

the estate we live in was state protected forest back in the 60’s 70’s the state gov’ wanted money probably for electrification of the rail network so they sold it to 2 brothers, that made money for the state the bro’s did nothing with it, then the state gov’ bought it back when radiate pines were going to save (but ruin lots of virgin bush land) so guesses would be they gov paid more for it that what they originally sold it for, made bro’s more wealthy.

so state gov’ (noted for this) pulled the chains through and cleared it all then they began planting pines and putting in fire rails)now urban rural roads), then they most likely found out the pines didn’t do really well about 40 years ago, so they sold it back to the brothers again making a tidy loss no doubt, the brothers named all the fire trails and sub divided it in minimum 1.25 acre blocks out to 5 acre blocks, but who wanted to own an acre of pine forest investment(now a liability takes $3 to $5k to clear and burn them.

anyhow us poorer folk who can only afford to live here most soil is terrible, buy it as we have no place else.

so if you want to blame the correct people blame farmers, forestry, house and industrial developers.

the trees are the only thing that can save us, some of this land totally useless even for a house should be bought back for public property paid for by the rapists of our environment.

anyhow mike this site seems to have come to me as unsolicited mail, but am enjoying having my say, even a pic of me on my site.

take care all

it is all cause and effect do the research the poor masses are not the cause they are the effect


15 07 2013
len gardener

missed this bit I am not into religion, what is not on my site is not religious belief, you show your lack of wisdom anyway I roll with the punches. it does matter what we do to the planet, only thing is we the masses are not doing it

take care


15 07 2013

G’day Mike, all you can do is respect Len’s opinion and treat it as that an opinion.
As a man who follows scientific method (as I assume you are Mike) i’m sure if Len could provide evidence for his claims you would change your views on AGW, I know I would. Problem is that most of the (so called) evidence i’ve seen that contradicts AGW comes from scientists who aren’t experts in this field. It’s like asking a plumber to rewire my house, when a electrician is the expert, both are tradesmen/tradeswomen but each is an expert in their own field.

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” Christopher Hitchens

I’ve got an interesting question for you to ask your son Mike, do we have free will? From all the research i’ve done the answer would be no. I would like to know what your son thinks about a deterministic universe/multiverse.

15 07 2013
len gardener

thank you rapid effect,

I wonder also mike if supporters of the CC CO2 issues are so convinced why then oh! why do they get so defensive if they are so comfortable in that zone?

you got very defensive in your personal attack on me yet I have not done same why? I am secure where I am, I can’t answer for members of your family, my advice to them & you is life is short families should unite. your last post seemed to me to lack at least tolerance.

for me “rapideffect’ we have free will to take care of our home the earth as those who are mild mostly the masses could do. not sure where deterministic comes in sounds stand over like the climate sciences.


15 07 2013

Len, to begin with, I am not a ‘supporter’. I so wish it was all WRONG! Science is not like politics or sport. In politics, you can ‘support’ the libs or the labs, etc. Same in sport.

Science is not like that. Every hypothesis is measured on its own merit with the EVIDENCE…. or the DATA

I’m not defensive either Len…. I am frustrated and angry that I can see the world’s going down the toilet, that we could do something about it, but that human nature is getting in the way for the pursuit of really trivial ideals.

15 07 2013
len gardener

mike you seemingly go all out in defence of something that is not real it is self support hierocracy using their won models and parameters.

that’s how I see it, yes the world is going down the toilet so how do you propose we stop that, by worshipping the wealthy moguls, their politician and science? it’s not working is it?

now we have catholic religious refugees coming in boats from Vietnam, tell me tell us all the masses how those you support intend stopping the planet going down the gurgler, tell us how they intend some sort of genocide to remove 95% of the worlds families/population? is Vietnam an indicator? is the strife in mid-east an indicator, Ireland has no flared up these people mostly may not have been a glint in their mother’s eyes when it all supposedly settled. who keeps us divided for their own glory and manipulation?

science is a self gratifying thing they remain faceless and nameless in back rooms called lab’s.

don’t take those frustrations that look like defense on people who want us to unite and succeed.

fun may be poked at the tree issue (i’m no greeny tree hugger) but do the research in the past 250 years give or take what has been the major impact on our local climate weather, the mass removal of habitat. the real domino effect is the trees go first then animals fall followed by us, don’t need money power hungry science to tell us that. if money could be made from planting forests we would not be having this discussion.

take care


15 07 2013

I’ll ask him……

15 07 2013
len gardener

will you let us all know what your son has to say mike?

we strive for family unity, none of our daughters are with God, we have close relationship though as we do with our grandchildren.

God does not support separation in families.

we all need to follow ethical, moral and humanity ethics, we do.


16 07 2013
Alex Stasse

“do we have free will?”

This is more of a philosophical question than a physics question, but I’ll try to answer it anyway.
There is no conclusive evidence one way or the other, but given that humans are part of the universe and our brains all work on universal laws then it seems we can’t be separated from it. Quantum physics does seem to indicate there is some level of randomness to the universe, and you could argue that this randomness expresses itself as free will, however it’s possible that this randomness is just a deeper level of the universes workings that we don’t really understand yet. On top of this brains aren’t actually quantum systems as far as we can tell and all that randomness averages itself out in such a way that we are deterministic.

I’d agree with you that on the balance it seems we probably don’t have free will, but given that from our perspective it certainly SEEMS like we do then there isn’t actually any harm (it’s probably actually beneficial) to behave as if we do anyway, as ironic as that is.

If I didn’t answer the question to your satisfaction let me know if you want me to expand on anything.

15 07 2013

“mike you seemingly go all out in defence of something that is not real”

No Len. I’m not defending it. It IS real. YOU believe it is not real. Believing is faith. Now it appears I was wrong and you don’t believe in ‘god’, but you believe CC is ‘not real’. This is irrational. Whether CC is real or not is not a question of belief……. it is a matter of FACT.

You may as well say I “go all out in defence of the Earth being round……..”

15 07 2013

We’ve already had this debate, this is a perfect example of a circular argument. The whole world works on science that is theory. It still works.

No argument about removal of forests, it’s a no brainer, but it’s only one piece of the jigsaw.

“The downtrodden” don’t have to lead expensive lives. I could easily be classified as one of “the downtrodden”, but I’m doing just fine, because I’ve redesigned my life to adjust to what I saw coming decades ago….

The trouble with people is, they don’t like change.

My son will no doubt be in touch when he wakes up….. but I warn you, arguing with HIM is a dead waste of time, he ALWAYS WINS!!!

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