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How not to talk to a science denier A Harvard professor's new book is filled with sneering conceit

He's probably a Popperian (ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

He's probably a Popperian (ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)


August 31, 2021   7 mins

Imagine you bought a book with the title How to Talk to A Contemptible Idiot Who Is Kind of Evil. You open the book, and read the author earnestly telling you how important it is that you listen, and show empathy, and acknowledge why the people you’re talking to might believe the things they believe. If you want to persuade them, he says, you need to treat them with respect! But all the way through the book, the author continues to refer to the people he wants to persuade as “contemptible idiots who are kind of evil”. 

At one stage he even says: “When speaking to a contemptible idiot who is kind of evil, don’t call them a contemptible idiot who is kind of evil! Many contemptible idiots find that language insulting.” But he continues to do it, and frequently segues into lengthy digressions about how stupid and harmful the idiots’ beliefs are. Presumably you would not feel that the author had really taken his own advice on board

This is very much how I feel about How to Talk to A Science Denier, by the Harvard philosopher Lee McIntyre.

McIntyre wants to help us change people’s minds. Specifically, to help us change the minds of these strange, incomprehensible people called “science deniers”. He addresses five main groups of “deniers”: flat earthers; climate deniers; anti-vaxxers; GMO sceptics; and Covid deniers.

This is, on the face of it, an important project. It’s a truism that the world is polarised, and our sense of shared reality is under attack. If there is some way of learning how to talk across difference, and to persuade without attacking, that might go a long way to bridging our various divides, not just the five he discusses.

The framing is that McIntyre goes and meets representatives of these groups and tries to persuade them out of their wrong beliefs. He goes armed with social-psychology research about how best to persuade people. His big trick (which I think is a good, if limited, one) is asking: what evidence would it take to make you change your mind?

But the whole book is premised on one idea: McIntyre is right, and the people he is “talking to” are wrong. 

And it’s true that all five groups are wrong, or at least their central claims are. The earth is in fact an oblate spheroid; the climate is warming, due to human influence, and will likely have severe negative impacts; vaccines work; GMOs are safe; and Covid is real.

The trouble is that by using these groups, McIntyre is playing on easy mode. When your example of a “science denier” is a literal flat-earther, it’s easy to say “look over there at the crazy deniers”.

Even with climate change scepticism, sure, there are people who literally don’t believe that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are warming the planet. But those people are relatively rare. People who believe that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are warming the planet, but that the emissions are going to be hard to stop because of economic growth in the developing world and it would make more sense to concentrate on adaptation rather than mitigation, are much more common. Are they “deniers”? Certainly they’re often called deniers. But McIntyre himself acknowledges that China is by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gases and that the IPCC says the sweeping global changes required to cut emissions sufficiently to avoid a 1.5°C warming are unprecedented.

McIntyre constantly wants to make a clean distinction between “science deniers” and non-deniers. So, for instance, he says that there are five “common reasoning errors made by all science deniers” [my emphasis]. They are: cherrypicking, a belief in conspiracy theories, a reliance on fake experts, illogical reasoning and an insistence that science must be perfect. If you don’t make all five of those errors, you’re not an official McIntyre-accredited science denier.

Hang on, though. A “belief in conspiracy theories”? McIntyre spends a lot of time talking about the tobacco firms who manufactured doubt in the smoking/lung cancer link, and the oil firms who did the same with the fossil fuel/climate change link. He says that the spread of Covid denialism through the US government was driven by Republican desire to keep the economy open and win the election. Aren’t these conspiracy theories?

Ah, but for McIntyre these aren’t conspiracy theories, they’re conspiracies. The distinction is “between actual conspiracies (for which there should be some evidence) and conspiracy theories (which customarily have no credible evidence).”

So, since some anti-vaxx conspiracy theories like the polio vaccine giving children polio, or the CIA using fake vaccination stations to take people’s DNA, are true, does that mean anti-vaxxers don’t believe in “conspiracy theories” but “conspiracies”?

Obviously not. But the point is that there’s not some clear line between “real conspiracies” and “conspiracy theories”. When Alex Jones says that chemicals in the water are turning frogs gay, he’s referring to real claims that endocrine disruptors are affecting sexual development in lots of animals. It’s not easy to draw a line between real and fake, evidence-based and not evidence-based.

I think the basic problem is that McIntyre is a Popperian. That is, in hugely oversimplified terms, he believes that no amount of evidence can confirm a theory: but evidence can falsify it. “If we find only evidence that fits our theory, then it might be true,” he writes. “But if we find any evidence that disconfirms our theory, it must be ruled out.” 

I, on the other hand, am a Bayesian. I have some prior belief and I assign some level of probability to it: “climate change is real and dangerous”: 90%; “the world is flat”, 0.1%. And then each new piece of evidence shifts my belief a little: if next year NASA say “we got new photos in, looks like Earth is sitting on the back of a turtle”, then I’ll upgrade my belief in a flat earth to, I dunno, 1.5% (but also upgrade my belief in there being mad people at NASA to 95%).

So I don’t need to draw a bright line between “denial” and “reality”. I can say: “I think it’s likely that tobacco firms conspired over lung cancer, but I think it’s pretty unlikely that NASA faked the moon landings.” And I can update my beliefs as new evidence comes in. I don’t have to “rule anything out”, I can simply downgrade how likely it is.

McIntyre, though, is stuck with two categories: things that might be true; and things which have been “disconfirmed”. If you believe things that have been disconfirmed, then you must be a “denier”. And so he needs to find ways of explaining why these “deniers” are so different from the rest of us. 

He has various ideas about “inflated self-confidence, narcissism, or low self-esteem”. But if you reject the idea that there are two groups of people, “deniers” and “non-deniers”, then you can avoid the need to explain it at all, beyond saying “some people are better than others at working out what’s true”. 

But we’re not just here for his epistemology: we’re here for a masterclass in how to persuade people out of false beliefs. Over the course of the book he meets various people — the flat earthers; two coal miners; a couple of hippyish friends of his — and tries to talk to them about their beliefs, using the methods he has learnt. His solution is to listen, to be respectful, to meet people face to face, and to do so over several meetings. Does his approach work?

In short: no. Hilariously, both of the coal miners he meets cheerfully accept the reality of climate change, but say that the economic value is worth the potential damage to the climate. His first hippyish friend is entirely pro-vax and only slightly GMO-sceptical; the other one is anti-GMO but on anti-corporate grounds rather than safety ones. 

So he falls at the first hurdle: he not only doesn’t convince anyone, he doesn’t meet anyone who unambiguously disagrees with him, except the flat earthers. (He also struggles to be respectful, at least in the book itself. There’s an astonishing line on p77 in which he says “When speaking to them, we should remember that it is an insult to use the word ‘anti-vaxxer.’” There are 109 uses of the term “anti-vaxx” in the book. Occasionally he remembers and says how important it is that we listen and pay attention, then he immediately reverts to calling, say, Covid scepticism “ridiculous conspiracy theories and partisan nonsense”.)

But there’s a bigger problem. McIntyre’s big question, as mentioned, is asking: What evidence would it take to change your mind? But at no point does McIntyre ever ask himself what it would take to change his mind. 

For instance: when he was talking to the Pennsylvania coal miners, he accepted that they were just trying to feed their families. I assume he’d also acknowledge that Chinese coal mining is allowing that country to get richer and improve its citizens’ way of life. But I don’t think I’m misrepresenting him when I say that he thinks coal mining is a disaster.

When he talks to a friend of his about GMOs, though, that friend says that even though GMOs can save lives now (in the form of golden rice), they’ll cause disaster in the future. McIntyre says, OK, so the kids who can’t get the golden rice now, they’re just going to die? And his friend says yes. McIntyre says that’s easy for him to say, “because he had money and wouldn’t be one of the ones who suffered”.

The exact same question, though, can be asked about coal mining. Sure, McIntyre can say stop using coal, and it’ll help prevent future disasters. But it will also presumably mean some number of tens or hundreds of millions of Chinese people losing electric lights and functioning hospitals, and a smaller number of Pennsylvanians losing their jobs. McIntyre himself would be fine, except for somewhat higher electricity bills. 

Is the tradeoff worth it? McIntyre clearly thinks so (and I think I do too): but what would change his mind? I can tell you: I would update my beliefs significantly if you showed me a utilitarian calculation showing that more people would be harmed by ending coal mining than by continuing it. But McIntyre never asks himself the question. He is stuck on transmit, never on receive.

What’s sad is that he sometimes comes close. He recognises that beliefs are part of people’s identity, and that that makes it hard to change them – but again, applies the lesson only to the weird, wrong, other people, not to himself and people like him. The near-total lack of introspection renders the whole grand project largely meaningless. I am right, you are wrong, the only thing we need to discuss is how to make you realise how wrong you are. The idea of working together to establish a shared reality is hamstrung by his certainty that the reality that needs to be shared is his one.

It’s mainly a book designed to tell readers that people they already think are dumb are, in fact, dumb. It is, really, How to Talk to A Contemptible Idiot Who Is Kind of Evil.


Tom Chivers is a science writer. His second book, How to Read Numbers, is out now.

TomChivers

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aaron david
aaron david
2 years ago

Most people’s beliefs about the physical world come down to faith. Very few people, read none, can hold all the information of the world and its properties in their head. So, we have experts, who hopefully work with other experts to dial in the meaning of everything so we can get a glimmer of the truth. And this is done via the scientific method.
But when science cuts off its hand, as much of the academy has done in regards to becoming a monoculture politically, it cannot get to the truth of any matter, as it cannot see what it refuses to see for political reasons.
I come from an academic family, with quite a few people with PhD’s in the hard sciences; genetics, nuclear physics, astronomy, etc. I was raised to use the scientific method at pretty much every point of my life and education, and to not be ruled by faith in an idea, but to allow the scientific method to inform me. At its base, science can provide data, but not moral reasoning. And this is the trap that McIntyre falls into. He assumes moral superiority due to his position, but none of the people he aims to persuade respect that authority. Thus he fails at it. He cannot seem to see that every one of those people can take the exact same information, and arrive at different conclusions.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago
Reply to  aaron david

But when science cuts off its hand, as much of the academy has done in regards to becoming a monoculture politically, it cannot get to the truth of any matter, as it cannot see what it refuses to see for political reasons.
Excellent comment that gets to the heart of the problem. A lay person can’t follow all of science. So we’re forced to rely on experts and it used to be you could trust most scientists who had a PhD and worked for a reputable research organization. Not any more. Now we must all learn to assess each expert and decide, as best we can, which one appears to be presenting an objective summary of the data.
So many scientific institutions have discredited themselves by taking a political stance on important issues.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

And it isn’t as difficult as it used to be to identify the compromised scientists even for a layperson. However this is not in the ambit of everyone wanting news, so once again we should lament the dearth of investigative journalists.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s been really shocking to see how so many scientific publications went into overdrive to dismiss the Covid lab leak hypothesis before it had been investigated at all. I suspect this is a product of being infiltrated by woke administrators, but also because many of them have conflicts of interest with funding (China has created direct conflicts of interest with many publishers and institutions through financial subsidy).

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Not strictly the heat of the matter. First, Mr McIntyre is a philosopher and so is no scientist. | bet he is unable even to prove the world is not flat.
Second science has been corrupted over the last 30 or so years so that the output from the scientific community is about as credible as the garbage spewed out by the social ‘sciences’.
I listened to a radio 4 programme several years ago involving a female scientist who started started from the premise that most social science output was essentially fraudulent. However, when she started to investigate Stem papers she found much the same thing. The results were not repeatable or did not support the conclusions.
She thought that this was matter of grave concern and attempted to publicise her findings. She did not anticipate how she would be received and her shock at the reception her work got was evident. The scientific community turned on her and she even received threats. I assume her career in science cam to an abrupt end.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  aaron david

You point out that nobody can hold all the information, but the more relevant point is that even an expert in one field is unlikely to know about other fields, and where does that leave people who are not considered an expert in any field? I have seen comments saying problems are created because experts in one field often think they are experts in all fields.
Often we hear politicians and activists, like Greta and Attenborough, telling us to follow the science, which they obviously don’t understand, but is sounds good. But science, if it is correct, which is questionable these days, only tells us what might happen, it does not tell us what to do and surely we must all be capable and free to make our own choices on how to live our lives.
The problem is that when people don’t understand they stop thinking and just accept what they are told. We should never do that. My belief is that if any expert wants to coerce us into some action because of their expert knowledge then they should be able to explain it in a way that we can understand and provide the evidence to confirm it, which we must also be able to understand. The media must take a lot of responsibility for promoting bad science. A good example is the endless experiments with tubes of carbon dioxide and candles supposed to prove global warming. Everyone is nothing but a magic trick designed to fool people.

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Do you actually believe that David Attenborough does not ‘follow the science’? Chapter and verse, please. Thunberg is indeed an ‘activist’ – a term of abuse on the right – but she might also be correct about both climate change and the changes needed to mitigate its worst effects.
In an ideal world we would all be sufficiently intelligent and well educated to evaluate ‘expert’ evidence. (Spoiler alert: the world is not ideal.) How many people can offer a worthwhile critique of, say, the standard model of physics or advanced molecular biology, let alone the mathematics which underpins so much of both?
Agreed that we need more scientifically trained journalists and writers like John Gribbin and Matt Ridley (I’d insist that Attenborough is another) but they are rare, underpaid birds. An education system suborned not by ‘marxist’ lecturers and woke madwomen (even rarer birds), but rather by unceasing pressure from the gang of confused cretins and chancers we call the ‘government’, plus hopeless underfunding, is not likely to provide either experts or expert commentators. The Press – bar the FT – is a washout and the BBC appears to be losing its will to resist endless attacks from those who smell the money they would make if it were to be privatised.
The ‘twenties’ will prove to be another low, dishonest decade’. What to do? God knows. I don’t, beyond behaving with integrity; chipping away at lies when we find them, and hoping our children will do better.

David Owsley
David Owsley
2 years ago
Reply to  John Wilkes

DA has failed himself recently with the constant plugs re climate change agenda. The walruses incident and others highlight the dangers of pushing an agenda at all costs.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  John Wilkes

My issue with DA was when he flew his team to the other side of the world to film him stood in the middle of a coral reef so he could lecture the people on the damage we were doing to the environment! I would take the message better had they employed a local to fly a drone over the coral reef for footage and sent the footage to the beeb over the internet! Much smaller carbon footprint that way and makes him less of a hypocrite in my view!

Gordon Welford
Gordon Welford
2 years ago
Reply to  John Wilkes

There are plenty of highly qualified scientists who do not think that the changes forecast by Nasa,Thunberg,Attenborough et al are credible.But there views are difficult to reach in the media and no public discussion ,scientist to scientist,is allowed.This subject is all too serious not to be discussed seriously

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
2 years ago
Reply to  Gordon Welford

Thanks for the courteous replies to my comment on David Attenborough. We could argue about the details of his production methods: all I’d say is that his programmes are intensely personal, so that he needs to be in place. In mitigation, if mitigation is needed, he has contributed more than anyone to ensuring that the general public is aware of serious environmental problems, especially in conservation, and is therefore more likely to support those who try to do something about them.
GW may well know more than me about the difficulties facing scientists who dispute climate change, but I don’t see much evidence that their views go unheard. It would be concerning if scientists who accepted global warming but differed as to its short and long term effects had no voice, but those who simply deny that global warming exists at all have lost the scientific argument and cannot expect the oxygen of publicity to invigorate their hot air any longer.

gavin.thomas
gavin.thomas
2 years ago
Reply to  John Wilkes

I think David Attenborough is a zoologist and whilst he is a ‘good man’, he has been influenced by climate alarmists at the BBC and other organisations. He has misrepresented a number of matters:
Polar bears are now protected and at record numbers and ranging further afield for food – nothing to do with ‘climate change’.
Walruses falling off cliffs – due an approaching polar bear, not ‘climate change’.
Panda bears are also at record numbers and their decline was due to humans reducing their habitats – not ‘climate change’. Human reduction of habitats is almost always the root cause of species extinction, not ‘climate change’.
Loss of the Aral Sea – due to diverting the feeder rivers for irrigation – not ‘climate change’.
Great Barrier Reef – is going through a natural regenerative process which has nothing to do with ‘climate change’ – though further research is required.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago

Interesting that in the article Chivers talks about global warming being due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Perhaps Chivers and McIntyre would do well to read Steve Koonin’s book (somebody with ample credentials given that he’s a member of the US Academy of Sciences, a brilliant physicist and was recently Obama’s deputy secretary of energy in charge, among other things, of dealing with climate). It would seem that if one actually bothers looking at the IPCC reports as opposed to the summaries there is considerable uncertainty as to exactly how much, if at all, greenhouse gases contribute to global warming.
And while we’re at it, if the current climate models make a prediction that isn’t borne out then those models should be thrown out (especially given that their output is dependent entirely on the values given for many unknown parameters in their input). And incidentally that’s precisely why all the COVID models should be thrown out given that they have failed time and time again to make anything close to accurate predictions. Indeed, every prediction has been completely off base which only goes to show that it is easy to fool people (politicians, the public, public health officials) by bamboozling them with fancy mathematical models of little to no value.
As for Lee McIntyre, I’d be more inclined to take anything that he has to say seriously if he were an actual hard scientist as opposed to a “philosopher of science”. Anybody who uses the term denier which has an obvious connection to the holocaust is nothing but a charlatan. Clearly McIntyre is a Popper wanabe with none of Popper’s intellect.

Last edited 2 years ago by Johann Strauss
Tom Chivers
Tom Chivers
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Chivers

Tom, if you’d look at the comments in your article, you’d have seen that (a) I had read it (mine is the 1st comment listed), (b) I basically took your article apart, and (c) a large number of readers seemed to agree with me if upticks/likes mean anything.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

The IPCC report may be wrong for reasons that I do not know and cannot understand, but nowhere in its pages does it state that the uncertainty on emissions amounts to “if at all” with regards to warming. If it does, and I have missed it, please send me the page you are referring to so I can update my beliefs.

As an addendum – I have just looked through the IPCC report myself and find no evidence of “if at all” claim that Johann Strauss has made. If indeed the climate change science is built on lies, you could help the matter by not telling some of your own.

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago

Maybe read Steven Koonin’s book Unsettled: What climate science tells us, what it doesn’t and why it matters. He analyzes the IPCC reports in detail.
As for CO2, it’s interesting to note that CO2 has increased linearly since 2005 yet during this same period the temperature in the US (as measured accurately by the NOAA reference data set) has essentially remained flat. All this information is available on the NOAA web site if you look for it. Would seem to me that there doesn’t appear to be any correlation between CO2 and temperature.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

You still haven’t provided me with the page I need to see in order to adjust my views on this. Now that I have asked for direct validation you point me in the direction of somewhere else. Once more, please provide me with the page you are referencing where the IPCC says “if at all”. thank you.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

To quote straight from Steve Koonin:

“…Nor is the crucial question whether humans are influencing the climate. That is no hoax: There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. There is also little doubt that the carbon dioxide will persist in the atmosphere for several centuries. The impact today of human activity appears to be comparable to the intrinsic, natural variability of the climate system itself. Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, “How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?”
Your source, allegedly debunking AGW, actually supports the contention.
Steve Koonin, in other words, supports my position completely. He agrees that humans are causing changes to the atmosphere but he disagrees with the policy prescriptions for how to solve it (as do I).
I put it to you that it is possible to be nuanced on this topic and believe in AGW while simultaneously saying “NO!” to the politicians who want to leverage what is happening for different agendas.
I am all for robust debate on these topics, and I agree that there is a kind of blind shouty “pro warming” brigade who prevent necessary criticism, and I wish that they wouldn’t be shouty.
I also, however, wish that people like yourself would actually take the time to read the source material they rely on in their own contribution to the debate.

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

I have a relative who is a serious scientist. His field is the mathematical modeling of complex systems. He seethes about climate and Covid models which he thinks are fraudulent and, therefore, by implication so are those behind them. The more parameters you have the more worthless the model and with complex systems there is always the choice about which parameters you take into account and which you exclude.
The reality is that almost all mathematical models of complex systems only confirm the conclusions already held by those that created them. All they do is confer spurious credibility.
As the great John von Neumann said “With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk by which he meant that one should not be impressed when a complex model fits a data set well. With enough parameters, you can fit any data set.
The question is why are our political classes so keen on forcing environmental legislation on us even when the science is worthless and the economic and social consequences will be disastrous. Could it be because this is where our elites have decided to invest their money. What better way to protect your wealth than have the state do it on your behalf

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

It really depends on what the model is, I think. Quantum mechanical models are complex, for example, but they are able to accurately calculate a variety of properties for a variety of small molecules.
Likewise molecular docking algorithms are highly complex, but are often able to locate the experimentally verifiable active site of an enzyme.
The problems arise, to my observation, when we try to apply models to:
1. Systems that expand with complexity as they grow in size
2. Humans (which do not obey laws like atoms do).

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago

Glad you think that docking algorithms can locate verifiable active sites of an enzyme. That’s nonsense. You just need to look at the structure of an enzyme to see where the binding site is. But docking ligands in silico is far from accurate. The issue is not getting the ligand into the active site but getting it in the correct orientation and geometry. Docking algorithms have certainly improved but they are far from foolproof.
As for what Koonin thinks, he’s a lot closer to what I’m saying than what you are (as well as your cherry picking of his book) – how do I know this – simple, I happen to know him well and have discussed these issues in detail with him.

As for what the data really shows take a look at the following links:
https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/national-temperature-index/time-series?datasets%5B%5D=uscrn&parameter=anom-tavg&time_scale=p12&begyear=2004&endyear=2019&month=12 noaa reference temperature data set since 2005 that is accurate.
https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide/ NASA data for CO2 atmospheric levels since 2005.

And while we’re at it
https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_global_station.shtml?stnid=680-140
Fort Denison 1 and 2 sea levels since the 19th century.

Pascal Bercker
Pascal Bercker
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

 You write that “It would seem that if one actually bothers looking at the IPCC reports as opposed to the summaries there is considerable uncertainty as to exactly how much, if at all, greenhouse gases contribute to global warming.” …. I am presumably not the first to wonder just where the inference – “if at all” – comes from …. and that without that key qualifier, your sentence would be just boringly true …. of course there is “considerable uncertainty” as to how much greenhouse gases contribute to global warming … but that uncertainty surely does not mean “if at all” … why else call them greenhouse gases in the first place? I would say there is considerable uncertainty as to how much sugar contributes to obesity …. but who would ever say “if at all”?

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Pascal Bercker

That’s silly. The uncertainty ranges from zero effect to a massive effect and depends entirely upon what value one attributes to the forcing factor between Co2 and water vapor. That’s where the if at all comes from.
Now i posted the relevant links to the NOAA reference temperature data set from 2005 to the present and the NASA data for atmospheric CO2 over the same period. Unfortunately it’s waiting for moderator approval (as it was when I posted this in some previous Unherd article and it took several days to show up). Either way, CO2 levels are increasing linearly since 2005 whereas average temperature for the 50 US states has been stable. Case closed.
The issue is not whether CO2 might contribute a little or whether raised CO2 is simply due to increasing temperatures (as it bubbles up from the ocean), but whether CO2 is a major contributor to the climate and the global temperature. Perhaps one might consider than the Sun and its activity is the major contributor to global temperature.
Meanwhile nobody would agree that everybody is better off in terms of health, economic and food availability considerations now than they were in 1850 when the average global temperature was all of 1 C or so less than now (and when the earth was coming out of a mini ice-age).
I would have thought that our recent experience over the last 18 months with COVID modeling predictions, all of which have been way off base and have led to terrible and harmful policies, would have alerted people to the dangers of modeling. As a qualitative guid modeling is fine. As quantitative predictions, modeling work is fraught with uncertainties and errors, especially where the values of many of the crucial parameters are unknown and can only be guessed at.
And finally, just so you know I happen to be a professional scientist.

Christopher Gelber
Christopher Gelber
2 years ago

Well, I’m one of those rare fools who call the AGW hysterics liars and charlatans. You see, I say that AGW/CC is by orders of magnitude the most grotesque scam in history. “Man-made climate change” is a secular religion. It has its symbols (Mann’s hockey stick) and saints (Thunberg). The hockey stick is now universally acknowledged to be an arrant fraud. But it served a symbolic purpose. Thunberg is a schoolgirl who knows very little about anything. But she too serves a purpose. Every single AGW model has failed, and every single AGW prediction capable of being assessed has proved false. So all such predictions now lie in the realm of multi-decades, thus rendering them unfalsifiable within our lifetimes. I’m old enough to remember when the AGW zealots at the BBC, Guardian, etc would respond to anyone pointing to a rainy day in summer with “There’s a difference between weather and climate, fool!”. Not any more – now every weather event outside some arbitrary and wholly undefinable “norm” is yet more evidence of AGW.
The argument that the science is settled is also a lie, as too has always been the “97% of scientists agree” claim. Neither claim is true. And pray what is a “climate scientist”? We know that it excludes astrophysicists, earth scientists, meteorologists, geologists, atmospheric research specialists, environmental scientists, plant and water scientists, atmospheric physicists and environmental engineers, among others – oh sorry, my mistake, only those in the aforementioned categories who disagree with the AGW hysterics.
CO2 is 0.038% of atmospheric greenhouse gases and fossil fuels contribute at maximum 3% of that 0.038%. Which comes to 0.00114%, at most, not of atmospheric gases, but only of greenhouse gases. Yet on a highly volatile planet with an infinitude of atmospheric variables and under constant bombardment from the Sun, we apparently possess the power to destroy everything by changing ocean water levels and causing droughts, floods and tempests. What insane hubris. AGW is that most terrible of things: a religious movement without a God.
Yet McIntyre lumps me in with people who don’t believe the Earth is spherical. Sheesh.

Last edited 2 years ago by Christopher Gelber
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

The knowledge that increased CO2 will increase the earth’s temperature goes back 150 years or so. It is basic physics. By how much exactly, and the effect on weather and ocean levels, is a matter of working out the immensely complex climate system, which can still only be done up to a point. The only proof is ‘suck it an see’, take no precautions and wait for 200 years and see if we got a disaster or not. If somebody gave you a hurricane warning, would you wait till it had hit to be sure it was real?

I do not know where you got your numbers from, but CO2 is currently 40% higher tha n pre-industrial levels, not 3%. For the rest it is a matter of the size of the effect, not the number of molecules. We have had specialists working for a generation or so trying to understand how this works, and they came up with the IPCC report. You are saying, based on your back-of-the-envelope calculation that their conclusion is so obviously wrong as to be ridiculous. No offence and all, but how will you convince me that it is you who understand matters and they who follow a weird irrational belief – and not the other way around?

Christopher Gelber
Christopher Gelber
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Erm, there’s a thing called a “natural carbon cycle”, which refers to the amounts of CO2 naturally produced by oceans, vegetation and animals. That runs to circa 800-850 gigatons pa released into the atmosphere, give or take. Human-caused fossil fuel emissions from all sources are estimated at most as 25 gigatons pa. That gives us around 3%, and we know the figures for non-human CO2 emissions are far from accurate and could very well be much higher – they also change all the time. Your 40% reference is quite different, because a 40% increase from 10 sweeties is still only 14 sweeties. In other words, the size of the referent is key to your 40%.
Beware the argument from authority in this area. I refer you to a fairly short 2015 book called “Climate Change: The Facts”, which includes an essay by a guy called Christopher Essex, who rhetorically asks who is qualified to decide who is qualified, and says we are all quite capable of thinking about this one for ourselves. Who is Mr Essex? Only the then-Chair of the Permanent Monitoring Panel on Climate of the World Federation of Scientists. (I’m aware of the irony in that last sentence.)

Last edited 2 years ago by Christopher Gelber
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

‘My’ 40% is the increase of the,measured amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. We observe increased CO2, we expect increased CO2 to cause warming, and we observe warming. Sounds suggestive. Next question we know that human emissions have added a lot of carbon ot the atmosphere, and we observe an increased concentration of CO2. in the atmosphere. To the incomplete extent we understand the system, we can get the added CO2 to match the effects we observe. You seem to be saying that this is all a coincidence, and/or the system is so complex that any attempt to figure out what is going on is hopeless, and we are forced to do nothing and hope – which is exactly what you wanted to do in the first place. Why am I not convinced?

For the rest you are comparing turnover with net result. Imagine a supermerket chain. There are unexplained losses of hundreds of millions, and you can show that corrupt directors have misapproprated at least 100 million. And you are arguing that since the annual turnover is in the tens of billions, the losses have nothing to do with the theft?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The knowledge that increased CO2 will increase the earth’s temperature goes back 150 years or so. It is basic physics.

The trouble with this kind of bland assertion is that it greatly resembles claims of yesteryear for the existence of witches, phlogiston, canals on Mars, and so on. That is, it is debunked by observation.
The historical record – which can’t really be trusted, as it has been speculatively reconstructed by frequently dishonest left-wing mediocrities in academia with an ecofascist agenda, but arguendo – shows that the climate has been both cooler and warmer in the past with much higher CO2 concentrations. It further shows that CO2 has risen before there was any human contribution and fallen after there was. In the past, rising CO2 has followed temperature increases because warming causes CO2 to be released from seawater.
So it’s a fundamentally dishonest assertion at heart, in that it aims to silence dissent a priori by postulating something that is only trivially true as though it were conclusive.
We can also be quite sure that nobody who asserts this has actually tested it for themselves to see if it is always empirically true. It is just “reliance on fake experts”. When I was at school we routinely carried out chemistry and physics experiments that failed to produce the correct result. We were then instructed to ignore what we had actually observed and to write up instead whatever we were supposed to have observed. Climate science undergraduates are among the dimmer cohorts in universities, with 3 Bs being the entrance requirement at UEA. It is highly likely that they have kept this habit of reporting what’s expected rather than what they observe.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

If you add more CO2 into the atmosphere heat will find it harder to escape from the planet and the temperature will rise. That does not depend on matching to observations or temperature records – it is really simple, basic physics. There is more to the climate problem than this, of course, but if you deny that, you are denying 150 years of physics. Which does make the rest of your arguments rather less interesting.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

So somewhere there must exist a rigorously-audited chart which shows the carbon cycle accurately, the human contribution thereto, and a direct correlation between human emitted CO2, total atmospheric CO2, and rising temperatures.
Well, where is it?
Pfft. You know and I know there’s no such chart.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

If you build a greenhouse frame, the local temperature will rise when you put the glass in. You do not need accurate historical charts to figure that out. If you want to predict the exact temperature that is another question.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

So there’s no chart which shows the carbon cycle accurately, the human contribution thereto, and a direct correlation between human emitted CO2, total atmospheric CO2, and rising temperatures. We agree it does not exist.
Now ask yourself why you choose to believe Marxist lies.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon Redman
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Of course the temperature will increase whether or not you increase the CO2 within the greenhouse. If you have a house with a large number of single pane glass windows= and thin walls that are not insulating, it will get hot in the sun, and that’s got nothing to do with CO2!

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Do me a favour.The principle is basic: Heat is generated inside, in a house by the boiler, in a greenhouse or a planet by absorbing sunlight. It then flows out. The physical mechanisms may differ, but if you add insulation the heat outflow slows down, and the internal temperature goes up. For greenhouses the insulation is glass, not CO2, and for planets it is CO2 and methane, not double glazing or rockwool.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Actually the primary insulator, i.e. the major greenhouse gas, is water vapor. NOT Co2 or methane. So try and get things in perspective rather than iterating talking points by AGW hysterics.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

It makes no difference which is the major greenhouse gas. As long as greenouse gas concentrations are stable their effect on the oemperature will not change, If you add more greenhouse gases of whatever kind, you get more insulation than before, and the temperature will go up. The question is how much it will go up. Which is exactly what hordes of climate scientists have been working on for 30+ years. I am sure there are weak points in their models, which a knowledgable opponent could target. But your arguments so far seem totally wide of the mark.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

My arguments are spot on. Let us assume for the sake of argument that there is no positive interaction between water vapor and CO2. Water vapor is around 5% of the atmosphere, CO2 is 0.04%. i.e. Around 100-fold less. You will appreciate that the perturbation in global average temperature from even a doubling of CO2 will be minimal and within the uncertainty of the temperature measurement (which incidentally is not so easy to measure given inaccuracies, errors and a very wide variation over the surface of the globe). Now, if one introduces a forcing factor between CO2 and H2O vapor, then you will get a significant effect from CO2 in the model calculations. But that doesn’t mean they are right. The output is entirely dependent upon the assumptions used in the input.
So far, the climate models have failed to result in any sort of accurate predictions. Ergo, they should be rejected, given that as Feynman once family said, it doesn’t matter how beautiful a theory may be, if it’s contradicted by the smallest experimental observation that theory is incorrect.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Sorry, but you are wrong for several reasons. First, water vapour and carbon dioxide absorb at different wavelengths. That means that carbon dioxide is blocking wavelengths that water vapour does not – closing a window, as it were. Even if the water vapour blocked 100% of heat outflow at the wavelengths it covered, carbon dioxide would still have an effect on the other wavelengths.

Second, you cannot just compare the amounts of gas. You need to consider that some gases absorb much more strongly than others. Water vapour is a fairly minor component, compared to nitrogen and oxygen, but it is still the most important greenhouse gas, because nitrogen and oxygen essentially do not absorb infrared radiation.

Third, what matter is not the size of the effect, but the size of the change. According to NASA, the greenhouse effect makes the earth about 33deg warmer than it would otherwise have been (from -18deg to +15deg). About two thirds of this is caused by water vapour, whereas “carbon dioxide provides just a few degrees.”. If the water vapour concentration stays constant while the CO2 concentration doubles, the immediate effect will (obviously) be that the contribution of CO2 should double, giving a temperature rise of ‘a few degrees’ – much as the IPCC predicts. The direct effect of CO2 without considering interactions with other parts of the atmosphere (etc.) is a straightforward physics calculation of heat transfer in a gas, and that is enough to notice in itself. The forcing factor comes in because higher temperatures will by themselves lead to more water vapour in the atmosphere (plus a lot of other interactions), which raises the temperature still further.

Global warming caused by human gas emissions is perfectly plausible, and back-of-the-envelope calculations like yours just do not make a dent in that. To check whether it is happening now, in reality, you need to do much more detailed and precise calculations – exactly like climate scientist have been doing for 30+ years. If you want to prove them wrong, you need to work with a level of detail and rigour that matches theirs.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Glad you think that climate scientists, or at least the consensus, have been doing rigorous science for the last 30 years. That’s a total joke. It’s really easy for anybody to prove them wrong without knowing anything about the details of their calculations (and note calculations and modeling, NOT experiment). Either the modeling predicts the future correctly or it doesn’t. So far, none of the models have come close to reality. Case proven I think.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

So, you are saying that CO2 concentrations and global temperature were changing before there were any humans, therefore it is impossible that humans are changing the climate now. Is that not like saying “People have been dying forever, since long before I was born, therefore is is impossible that I killed my wife”. Even OJ Simpson could not have gotten away with that one.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No, I’m pointing out that both temperature and CO2 changed before there were people and therefore the rational starting point is that people demonstrably make no difference.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

And that is totally illogical. Even if the climate can change without human interference it does not mean that humans cannot change it too.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I said “do not”, not “cannot”.
You are essentially stating that because humans could pour treacle over their heads, could stick cricket bats up their bottoms and could attend fancy dress parties as a toffee apple, they must be doing so. I am saying that this does not in fact happen, and no observations support it. The fact that treacle, cricket bats and fancy dress parties exist doesn’t cut it.
I’d like someone to prove humans actually do change the climate. It’s a reasonable ask given that it’s the entire basis of what climate psyence asserts is actually happening. So let’s see the chart I invited you to produce that shows the carbon cycle accurately, the human contribution thereto, and a direct correlation between human-emitted CO2, total atmospheric CO2, and rising temperatures.
The reason alarmist groupthinkers get so angry, and so frequently resort to personal insult when asked for it, is because they can’t produce any such chart despite 40 years and trillions of public funding.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Let me give you a series of facts, here. to see how far we can agree

  • The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has increased from ca. 280ppm up to 1500AD to 400ppm+ now. Since 1958 these values have been measured directly, before then they are determined form air bubbles trapped in ice etc. Not much scope for error.
  • Humanity have output large quantities of CO2 (as well as methane etc.) over the past 200 years. I do not have a link, but I assume you do not dispute it.
  • Even fairly primitive calculations (as such things go) give a clear greenhouse effect from CO2, on the order of 1.5deg for a doubling of CO2 concentrations. This is not simple to do by any means, being a matter of heat transfer through radiation and convection through a thick atmosphere at various latitudes and ground types, but ultimately it is a question of heat transfer in a gas. That is a straightforward physics problem that can be tackled with a lot of confidence – and has been looked at for over half a century. For more precise calculations you get into cloud cover, weather patterns, aerosol effects, and very complex models. Here there is a lot more scope for scepticism (even though I basically believe them), But the basic fact that a lot more CO2 will heat the planet seems safe to me.
  • Next, the planet is warming. By exactly how much is harder to agree about, but with the various retreating glaciers, increased temperature measurements etc. do you really doubt that there is a warming?
  • So, we have poured a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere, and the atmosphere CO2 concentration has increased significantly. Do you think that this is a coincidence and the two are unrelated?
  • Again, additional CO2 is known to heat up the planet, there is additional CO2, and the planet is heating up. Do you think these facts are completely unrelated?

Another poster summed it up something like ‘there are changes to the climate and these are at least in part caused by human actions, though there are surely other important factors as well’. That still leaves us room to argue how big changes we should expect, what the probabilities are, what we can do about them, and the trade-off between the cost of our actions and the effect of future change.

Which of the points above do you disagree about?

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Unfortunately, most of what you say does not match with reality. And by the way you do realize that glaciers have advanced and retreated many times over when you consider geological time scales. There was a time when the region occupied by NYC was under 200 ft or more of ice – I would hope you’re not suggesting that such a situation is desirable.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

In the absence of further details, all I can say that we do not seem to live in the same reality.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No I live in the real world and actually know something, while you live in an altered reality. Are you saying that NYC was never 200 ft under ice. Maybe read up a little.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Sure. Once there was an ice age. Once the earth was a ball of molten rock. Once dinosaurs roamed the plains. It just does not have anything to do with the fact that the earth has been warming up recently, and that there are plausible reasons to think that this could continue, and (in this particular case) it is caused to a large extent by human actions.

Answer the points I made, so we can see where we disagree. Or admit that you can’t.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No there are no plausible reasons. For example, why did the earn warm during the Minoan period, the Roman period and the Medieval period. In geological time, these time periods are not long ago, and for sure man didn’t contribute to those. Recall, during the Medieval warm period the Danes colonized Greenland and lived there for 100 years until it got too cold again to sustain any sort of agriculture. Try living on Greenland now.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I disagree with all of it because it’s largely spin and assertion.
The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has increased from ca. 280ppm up to 1500AD to 400ppm+ now is misdirection. In 500BC to 1500AD CO2 was lower, but temperatures were higher in both northern Europe and the Antarctic. This debunks any connection between CO2 and temperature. Climate Marxists know this, which is why “we have to get rid of the Mediaeval Warm Period”.
Humanity have output large quantities of CO2 (as well as methane etc.) over the past 200 years. You have no idea how much CO2 humans have output. None at all. And you can’t reconcile your guesses of it to actual atmospheric CO2 content.
a clear greenhouse effect from CO2, on the order of 1.5deg for a doubling of CO2 A complete guess, unsubstantiated by evidence and refuted by historical measurements, which show temperatures rising, falling and flatlining even as CO2 has increased. You don’t even know the sign never mind the size.
do you really doubt that there is a warming? There has perhaps been a mild and beneficial warming in the last few decades, but so what? It was warmer in the past when there was less CO2.
So, we have poured a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere, and the atmosphere CO2 concentration has increased significantly. Straw man. CO2 has increased, some is undoubtedly of human origin, but it has not been shown to make any difference.
additional CO2 is known to heat up the planet, there is additional CO2, and the planet is heating up. except when it isn’t, as in the 20th century when it cooled as often as it warmed, and the 21st, when it has been flatlining in the presence of more CO2. So there is no actual observed consistent effect, which suggests that whatever drives climate change, it isn’t of human origin.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

First, thanks for answering. It does help to clarify things.

tt sounds like you have one central counterargument. We do not know exactly how much additional CO2 has been added to the atmosphere, only approximately, and the temperature does not follow the CO2 concentration precisely, but only pretty roughly. In fact the theory is not at all perfect, and can explain the past and predict the future only as a moderately good, fairly uncertain approximation. To you that is not good enough. Unless you can get perfect agreement, perfectly fitting predictions, you dismiss the whole thing out of hand. I think that is what Tom Chivers calls “an insistence that science must be perfect” [before you are willing to take it seriously]

Two answers to that (though it is unlikely that anything could move you from that starting point). First, most human understanding is imperfect. All of medicine is imperfect (who can predict the course of a disease or the effect of a drug with any precision), weather forecasting s imperfect, economics and sales forecasting is imperfect, polling is imperfect, budgeting is imperfect. That is not the fault of the doctors or the sales teams – the problems are simply too complex to understand with high precision. Yet no person or company would wholesale ignore all of the above. If you had to decide what crop to grow, would you ignore forecasts about how much you could sell and how much rain you would get, because ‘it is all rubbish anyway’? A smarter approach would be to accept that this was not perfect, and try to get a handle on how precise and how reliable it was in each case.

The other point is the direct effect of added CO2. If you could change the CO2 concentration and keep everything else constant, it really is a straight physics calculation to determine what would happen, and it really would give a noticeable heating. In the real climate there are all kinds of secondary effects, and all kinds of other things happening, not to mention a lot of chaos, which is why you cannot get either fits or predictions precise. But the direct effect of CO2 on heat transfer in a gas does not depend on knowing anything else. Whatever you think about the other links in the chain of arguments, there is no guessing about that one.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Not quite. My central counterargument is that there is no model that shows human-generated CO2 causing a linear rise in atmospheric CO2 causing a rise in temperature. In fact, worse still, there is history showing rising CO2 and falling temperatures, and lower CO2 accompanying lower temperatures.
This is not “an insistence that science must be perfect”. This is merely a request that after all the trillions spent on alarmism, and before we spend trillions more, science should not be obviously and grossly wrong, with the line held only by threats to the livelihood of people who disagree. Ecofascists should, in the first instance, prove their central claim to a reasonable standard. That’s all. Instead we just get anecdotes.
It’s not enough for you to tell me it’s basic physics that if I add a teaspoon of water to the Hoover dam the water level will rise. You need to show how it’s catastrophic and why stopping is better than continuing.
If I told you there was a hurricane coming and you said where’s the proof and I said lab experiment 150 years ago, I could not expect to be taken seriously. There should be photos from space, or planes, or pickups in the wind speed, or damage reports from elsewhere. If I can’t produce that evidence – if instead my “evidence” is “children won’t know what snow is”, “you’re a denier”, “Michael Fish agrees with me”, “you’re not a meteorologist so shut up”, or simply “I hate you” – I lose.
And that’s where you are. The central credo of climate science has not changed in 40 years, it never will, anything that debunks it is shouted down as heresy, and everything is about proving the dogma right. When the dogma fails – 50 million climate refugees by 2010; New York under water by 2020; the Himalayan glaciers all gone by 2035 – it is blandly handwaved away and replaced, like one of David Icke’s forecasts. It is absolutely a pseudoscience; it’s simply aeromancy rebooted, and it as damaging as the worst religion in history.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon Redman
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Our descriptions are not that far apart. As I understand it, “human-generated CO2 causing a linear rise in atmospheric CO2 causing a rise in temperature” means demonstrating that each megatonne (or whatever) of human-generated CO2 produced leads to a proportional increase in atmospheric CO2, which again leads to a proportional rise in temperature. Basically, if you plot the human-generated CO2 against the temperature increase, year for year, you want to see a straight line. If I am not mistaken, you are saying also that you want a direct proportionality between CO2 in the atmosphere and temperature for the entire geological record. Unfortunately that is just not how the climate works. The global temperature depends on more than just the CO2 concentration, and there is a lot of noise and chaos in the system that make the temperatures vary form year to year. What you are asking is simply impossible. To me that is like saying that you want to see a linear relationship between the money spent on the health service, year by year and the life expetancy of the population – and if you do not see that it proves that the health servce is a fraud and we should stop financing it at all.

As for the “New York under water by 2020”, that is not a prediction, that is propaganda. There is a rather uncertain prediction, there is a low but not negligible probability of a very bad outcome, and a mixture of activist scientists and a sensationalist press trumpet the worst case. The underlying prediction is what matters, and that is a probability distribution. I honestly believe that the available data (temperatures, CO2 concentrations, basic physics and all) are still supporting what you call the ‘central dogma’, which is that the world is warming, human activity is causing much of it, and the consequences could be quite bad, though they are still rather uncertain.

Let me give you a comparison: Early in the COVID pandemic, not long after Ferguson, Suneptra Gupta made a series of modelling calculations. She showed that under the most favorable ssumptions it was possible that the UK had already achieved herd immunity. That was published as a prediction, in part by sensationalism, in part because Gupta was an activist with an agenda. As a prediction it was horribly wrong. But looked at fairly, her simulations were decent work.Given the highly uncertain knowledge available at the time, it was possible that the UK was already in herd mmunit. It was just not very likely, and it should not hvae been treated like it was

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

you want a direct proportionality between CO2 in the atmosphere and temperature for the entire geological record. Unfortunately that is just not how the climate works. The global temperature depends on more than just the CO2 concentration
Precisely. And until you know what else it depends on, and you can quantify it, there’s no justification for blowing further trillions on the baseless assumption that it’s all about human-emitted CO2. None at all. But that is the central claim of the climate change church, a claim it argues it doesn’t have to sustain. Instead it prefers lies and propaganda because actual facts are nowhere to be had.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

It is actually not baseless. We have ever more data, and you can make some decent (if not highly precise) predictions of the effect over a few decades of adding CO2, even if you cannot predict over millennia. But the big problem is this. If you say, ‘things will continue pretty much the same as they always have’, and I say, ‘we are in a new situation and there is a significant risk that it will go very badly if we do nothing to prevent it’, there is only one way I can prove you wrong: Do nothing, and wait, If nothing happens you were right, if a disaster happens, I was right. But then it will be too late. If you never act till you have complete proof, there are a lot of real problems that you will be unable to deal with. To me it makes more sense to find out s much as you can, and to act on probabilities without waiting for certainty. I suspect Tom Chivers would agree.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The issue is not whether humans can change the global average temperature but what the contribution of human activity is to the observed small increase in global temperature since 1850 which marked the end of a mini-ice age. If the human contribution is negligible, then there really isn’t much one can do about it that is useful, other than geo-engineering as a last resort if we’re all about to fry but simply shooting reflecting particles into the atmosphere. But we’re a very very long way off from that situation (many hundreds of years if ever as we’re likely to cool down well before that due to other effects).
As I noted in the 3 links to NOAA and NASA web sites above, you’ll see that atmospheric CO2 has risen linearly since 2005, while the US reference temperature dataset over the same period has remained basically unchanged. i.e. The correlation between atmospheric CO2 and temperature is not there over this short time period. Over geological time periods, you will also see, if you look it up, that increases in CO2 have followed increases in temperature and not the other way round.

Last edited 2 years ago by Johann Strauss
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I notice how ‘flat earthers’ and ‘covid deniers’ are included with other issues which aren’t as clear cut. Also the language is carefully crafted to confuse – how the word ‘denier’ is often used instead of the word ‘sceptic’ and so on. These are such obvious tools used to discredit, that for me it diminishes the main thrust of the argument.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago

Very well said. And there is a world of difference between a sceptic (which is what all scientists should be) and a denier (which completely denies the obvious such as 2 + 2 = 4).

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Or better yet the square root of minus one, an exceedingly useful ‘imaginary number’ which science could not work without

and thus 2i X 2i = 4 wile 2 X 2i = -4 and so on

“In mathematics the symbol for √ (−1) is i for imaginary.”

Whole books written on it – “An Imaginary Tale: The Story of i [the square root of minus one] (Princeton Library Science Edition)”

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

2i x 2i = -4
2 x 2i = 4i
But otherwise, yes.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

See – the dreaded 2 X 2 = is much harder, and has so many more possible answers than we think.

Now as far as “He addresses five main groups of “deniers”: flat earthers; climate deniers; anti-vaxxers; GMO sceptics; and Covid deniers.”

Well, where to begin….

Climate is warming from solar activity and maybe CO2, the vax does not work and so needs constant ‘boosters’ and in fact selects for mutations by existing in infected bodies, GMO gave us Covid, which is from a Lab. The flat earth? Well string theory seems to mean every possible permutation of everything exists, that every chance spins off more realities – so, yes, I would say a Flat Earth exists, in some reality.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yes Sanford … some bits of maths and physics do sound to the uninitiated like woo-woo … but they are not. Stay away if you don’t want to embarrass yourself again.

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

What? 2×2 has exactly one answer, 4 (on the understanding that the symbol 2 represents the natural number which is the result of applying the successor function twice to the value zero, 4 is similarly four applications, and x is arithmetic multiplication; but if some or all of those are not true, then the statement would be further qualified).r
Similarly. 2ix2i is -4, with the usual interpretations and with i being the square root of minus -1.
However, I agree that the C19 vaccines do not seem to work (very well), and if C19 is a laboratory leak then I guess it could be classed as GMO. And I’d also note that even if a vaccine does “work” then that alone is not enough to support its use (which is why I’m “anti-vax”).

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Professor Hammonds is the director of the Project on Race & Gender in Science & Medicine at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard.”

“A Harvardprofessor of evolutionary biology named Carole Hooven is being branded as transphobic for insisting there are only two genders. … It is vital to teach med students gender inclusive”

Professor Feldberg uses qualitative and quantitative methods to examine intersections between gender, knowledge-transfer, technology, and discrimination within firms. Alexandra (Allie) Feldberg is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School.”

And on and on it goes, and that is just the simplest of searches. So we have it, University Education, in Bret Weinstein’s word, the Education system has been ‘Captured’ by the Post Modernists, that most erroneous of all philosophies. Thus if all the non-STEM are gone over to the mass psychosis of ‘Critical Theory’ delusion, what of the idiot in discussion here? Is he just one more step in the degenerate modern academia? A useless Wan*fest full of sound and fury but signifying nothing?

Like Duchamp’s Urinal (art which changed the world, a urinal mounted to the gallery wall) and Tracy Emin’s ‘Unmade Bed’ sold for over 4$ Million… but without their ‘first examples’ being revolutionary landmarks – just urinals and unmade beds over and over again.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

cherrypicking, a belief in conspiracy theories, a reliance on fake experts, illogical reasoning and an insistence that science must be perfect.

These characteristics exactly describe climate change alarmists.
They have many other faults too, of course.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Do you think Brits should have carried on breeding so that the population of the small island was 120 million? And, do you think Africans should now do the same? Where do you think the 200 million people who will be born in Nigeria in the next 30 years will attempt to go? Do you think there will be jobs in Nigeria for them? Or do you think they may be on boats coming to a beach near you?

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

Yes, here is the assertion again that if I make the observation of overpopulation that it must mean, by extension, that I want to exterminate people. By your rationale, a doctor who diagnoses someone with cancer believes that the patient should die.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

That may be so but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any overpopulation anywhere ever, does it? My point is that local overpopulation in Africa is one one of many drivers for problems both internally and externally. Your one track thinking repeatedly reduces complex phenomena down to simplistic single factor variables which you can then dismiss. Kind of like the average Guardian commenter.

Heather Scammell
Heather Scammell
2 years ago

One of the most worrying aspects of the response to Covid is the way that erudite voices expressing caution have been actively suppressed. If they are wrong, then I would expect a balanced scientific rebuttal of their stance, but this has been lacking throughout. The same applies to anthropogenic global warming; the IPCC reputedly only recruited those who were fully on board with the concept and it isn’t difficult to find dissenters whose careers have suffered for questioning ‘The Science.’ The lack of scrutiny in both areas should be a major cause of concern.

Last edited 2 years ago by Heather Scammell
Andrew Crisp
Andrew Crisp
2 years ago

THIS is the crux of the matter, the lack of “expert” debate, if you are not with the prevailing propaganda, you are a charlatan – this is not a “scientific” approach, just academic bullying.

robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago

I agree. The topic of this article is not worthy of the attention of an Unherd article. The article appears just to pour sophistry over the sophistry contained in the book which is the subject of the article. The article on the subject book may rather be a vehicle which Tom is using to justify or explain his own approach to scientific reporting and taking of positions.  
I agree with you that there need to be erudite voices which are sceptical and offer robust argument in a clear-cut way while inviting or defying a rebuttal to be made to the argument.  This has been missing from the COVID commentary.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago

I feel I have to accept what scientists tell me about anthropogenic climate change because I simply don’t have enough knowledge or evidence to challenge them.
But I must admit I am wary of the level of zealotry surrounding the topic and the hounding of any scientist who dares to challenge the prevailing view. Even one as eminent and respected as Freeman Dyson. – Use his name among Climate-zealots and they will immediately condemn him as a kook, a crank and a heretic. Even being a Nobel Laureate offers no cover to anyone who dares challenge the Climate orthodoxy – even if that challenge is one of expressed doubt, rather than denial.
Surely, regardless of the discipline, regardless of the specifics of the topic, the whole idea of “Consensus” in antithetical to the advancement of science – in any field. So to have the media hysterically manning the barricades and shouting “SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS” as though that should shut down the debate does give me pause. Why would they do it?
Consensus is the business of politics – it has nothing whatsoever to do with Science. On the contrary, the greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. Science can be advanced when a single scientist – working against the current understanding – happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.
In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. So why this insistence that ‘consensus’ trumps every other argument?
Freeman Dyson dared to doubt the climate models used to forecast what will happen as we continue to pump CO2 into the atmosphere. He suggested they were unreliable – causing an avalanche of criticism.
But most of what he said was incontestable – namely that if the models are unreliable then the projections they produce will also be unreliable.
As I say, I don’t know half enough about the data to challenge the orthodoxy – but I am suspicious of the undue weight the media gives to the notion of that consensus and the immediate vilification of any scientist who dares challenge it.
Besides – the gigantic industry surrounding Climate change does have a vested interest in ratcheting up the hyperbole. The more extreme the statistics the more sensational the story, the easier it is to extend the funding for your grant.
I probably have a slightly innate contrarian streak in me, it is just the way I work. My instinct is to be sceptical. It thus seems strange to me that the very communities who should value scepticism the most – namely the scientific community and the media – have closed ranks against any of their number who dare challenge the consensus and seek to ruin them.
It is that, rather than any climate data per se, that piques my suspicion.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

But would you agree that much of climate and environmental scepticism is driven by the preference of activists and the media to put forward absolute worst case scenario alarmism, rather than paint a true picture?
As i say, I accept most of the science, due to my not having any evidence to refute it. Though i do tend to push back against the zealots who villify any dissenters and also push back against the XR loons whose catastrophism is so overblown as to invite ridicule.
The media always seems to choose to go along with the hyperbole, because there’s nothing the mainstream media likes more than a good scare story – a promise that a cataclysm awaits just around the corner.
We are routinely enjoined to dismiss any scientist or environmentalist who calls for measured and sober analysis. Instead the front page or lead news item is given over to whichever organisation or alarmist is pushing the most extreme picture.
As a brief ‘for instance’ – among many dozen to choose from – the Guardian’s Environment Editor, Damian Carrington, ran an article that proclaimed “Plummeting insect numbers threaten collapse of nature”
In this wildly overblown piece, Mr Carrington claimed that 41% of all insect species were declining precipitously and ‘unless we change our way of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades’.
A clearer reading of the relevant research reveals that, rather than seeing an insect annihilation within decades, with “inevitable mass extinctions”, the decline – whilst real – is nothing like as shocking. The research puts the figure at possibly a 1 to 5% decrease over the next century.
A somewhat different picture.
This tendency towards catastrophism is, as Michael Schellenburger notes, “manipulative. It’s a sad commentary on the cynicism of many environmentalists and environmental scientists, who think that they can’t get people to care about nature and that we only care about ourselves.”
Of course Shellenburger is now shunned by fellow environmentalists for daring to suggest that catastrophism is not an honest assessment of the realities of climate change. Shellenberger is in no sense a denier, and absolutely believes that governments and society need to do more to prevent climate change – but takes (what should be) the uncontroversial position that he doesn’t support the broadcasting of exaggerations and outright lies to make the case for it.
Surely as a journalistic or scientific principle it is better to be given facts rather that sensationalist hyperbole?
So, a question to those who reflexively bridle at any challenge to the most extreme and alarmist narrative, “Would you feel better knowing the truth and giving people a reasonable account of reality, or would you rather be consoled by reading something that is exaggerated but more comfortably fits your worldview?”
Is there that much difference between the XR-extremist, who insists that anthropogenic climate change is the cause of every weather related disaster, and the fundamentalist UKIP councillor who suggested a couple of years ago that flooding was mainly due to God’s displeasure at the legalisation of gay marriage?
It’s nothing new. We’ve been looking to blame human behaviour for freak weather since Noah’s wife first looked up at a threatening sky and thought to get the washing in.
Though if God really was behind the 2019 floods then He appears to have rather a poor aim – If his rage was truly against gays then He could have directed the torrents to wash away Brighton in an afternoon but instead chose to visit his wrath on the residents of towns like Iron Bridge or Tewkesbury – places not famous for people disporting themselves wreathed in all the flowers of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Some people can’t accept that sometimes weather just happens.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I only have time for a brief answer, but I would say the fundamental difference is between those who believe we need to do something, and those who believe we should continue with business as usual. People on both sides tend to exaggerate their positions, both sides have a tendency to select the facts that fit their story, and both sides argue by proxy. If you do not want say “I refuse to change my lifestyle no matter what disasters will happen once I am dead”, you say instead “those predictions are not reliable, and the people who promote tham have vested interests”. You can probably find the equivalent on the other side better than I can. If you believe we ought to do somethng (as I do),you can sort of smile at the silliness when the papers blame every summer heatwave on global warming. Why would it provoke you so much – unless you are in the ‘let us do nothing’ camp?

There are fanatics and vested interests on both sides. If the facts were neutral, the renewables industry would have no hope in a straight fight agains the oil, coal and car indudtries. Likewise the ‘change your lifelstye and make expensive changes’ brigade would get nowhere against the ‘keep living comfortably and turn up your air conditioner’ brigade if there we no worrying facts to push the result.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Rasmus, I think part of the difficulty is that many of these positions have become captured by wider ideological positions. Though I regard myself as an environmentalist I find I have little in common with most European environmentalists because, to my observation, they are usually mad lefties who are using environmentalism as a trojan horse for bog-standard Marxism.

Whenever I listen to Extinction Rebellion, for example, their proposals for fixing climate change are always, essentially, some form of totalitarian socialism and a return to an idealised noble savage “state of nature”.
When I try to raise environmental issues that do not fall conveniently into their Marxist world view, they are suddenly, remarkably, very uninterested in the environment.
On the other side, we then get people who tribalise into groups rejecting anything and everything to do with the environment because the environment in their mind equates to Marxism (which is equally unhelpful).
The irony, of course, is that in the 1930s, it was the socialists who wanted to destroy nature and impose their vision of modernism on the landscape. They did so with utter contempt for wilderness and saw nature as the plaything of the rich, which made it all the more necessary to uglify (as their brutalist architecture so often demonstrates).
It speaks to the unthinking tribalism of people that allegiances can re-polarise in such a way.

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago

well said, Hayden

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

…we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

Stephen Schneider, climate alarmism shill, advocate for corruption for a noble cause

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I love your post thank you. I’m very interested in this subject and in particular what the need is, in humans, to catastrophise and seek worst case scenarios etc. I’m currently going with the idea that we need to prepare for danger to survive but we don’t live in a very dangerous world anymore (certainly in affluent countries) so we’ve lost the natural connection to fear and danger and look for alternatives. I mean actively seek them even if those are events that may happen beyond our own lifetimes (ahhh but the children) or actually happen to complete strangers (the dead in care homes) or are so vanishingly small a risk to us as to really not be a valid danger at all. The thrill of identifying a danger and then pushing our stress hormones to the limit to see how we might cope seems to be universal. Of course, a bit like that boy and his relationship with the fictitious wolf, we have a bit of a problem when a real danger comes along or even spotting the ones we currently live with, in complete apathy.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago

By almost every metric imaginable, we are living in the most comfortable, least dangerous moment in the entirety of human civilisation – yet to read the Liberal-Left media you’d imagine we were constantly on the brink of armageddon and the total breakdown of society.
Of the UK’s Liberal Left media, the worst culprit is the Guardian which is RELENTLESSLY negative – about pretty much everything. Over the last 10 years it has got markedly worse. It was always sanctimonious but it at least tried to incorporate a broader spectrum of ideas and didn’t wrap itself in the flag of liberal victimhood. (I even remember when it occasionally published ‘positive’ stories – which seems a very long time ago now).
Any objectivity has vanished. Any hope has been dashed that a Guardian editorial might ever assess a situation on its merits, and stop judging a policy, an action, a statement based solely on who has espoused it and what tribe they belong to. Whether that be a political tribe or any of the other boxes into which “Liberals” seek to place us in their ‘hierarchy of victim-status’.
Their ongoing narrative is wholly at odds with reality. The Guardian – in fact, the left generally – has a dystopian worldview and narrative predicated on catastrophism – it seems almost as though they are willing such a future into existence. (Presumably to then console themselves in a circlejerk of “I told you so”)
The Liberal Left media routinely paints this country as intolerant and xenophobic – whilst the reality is that this country is probably the most tolerant and the least xenophobic in the world – certainly in Europe.
They endlessly promote the idea that “vicious” austerity measures were a distinct and deliberate Tory policy. Yet if they were honest they’d admit that pre-Corbyn Labour had actually promised to cut harder and deeper than the Tories. And that our EU “friends and partners” instituted far tougher austerity in many member states. Again and again we are sold a narrative that is simply not an honest reflection of reality.
The Left talks of a rise in crime when it is falling. They talk of widening inequality when it is actually narrowing. They point to social issues, financial concerns, climate concerns, and ratchet up the hyperbole at every turn – all of it negative.
The Left rails against a lack of diversity in Govt, yet when we get the most ethnically diverse cabinet in our history they still paint it as a negative. Suddenly they’re aghast to find there are BAME Tories!
The Guardian proudly trumpets “Comment is free… but facts are sacred”. Yet facts are so routinely ignored in favour of their preferred narrative that I wonder how the Editors still put out CP Scott’s dictum every day with a straight face.
They seem determined to prove we are mean and uncaring as a nation – though by every sensible metric we are nothing of the sort. They demonstrate an almost gleeful wish to convince everyone that the “country has gone to the dogs” – in a manner more akin to a 1980s right wing cabbie than a supposedly quality newspaper. For each anecdotal instance of intolerance that gets proclaimed as “proof” of widespread bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc etc there are a million other instances of just everyday acceptance of people – regardless of ethnicity, sexuality or nationality – that aren’t worthy of anecdote simply because they are so everyday.
They rail against the bigoted and the intolerant yet which tribe is it that reveals itself to be the most intolerant? – why, the “Liberal” Left.
How many times a day do we see someone who is arguing against the Guardian polemic du jour being told to “Go back to the Daily Mail”?
Xenophobes and racists feel they have a right to tell people they consider “Outsiders” to “Go back where you came from”. The reaction to Trump saying something similar was almost universal condemnation.
Most people would, I hope, think that intolerant and morally unjustified.
But the more intellectually insecure Guardian readers calling for anyone who thinks differently to “Go back to the Mail” seems a reaction that comes from a similar place. Fear of the ‘other’ and a wish to see the ‘purity’ of their territory unsullied by people who look and think differently.
I think this is where the current progressive left seems to come unstuck, simply down to their absolute belief that their point of view is intrinsically virtuous, thus everyone who thinks differently to them must be wrong. And not merely wrong, but somehow “Evil”. It seems to blind them to the possibility that other, perfectly decent and thoughtful people might, quite justifiably, think differently to them.
I think this is the fundamental cause of the pessimism that permeates almost all left-leaning discourse.

jmf103
jmf103
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Great comment. I agree with everything said; especially their willingness to make the apocalypse a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s an almost child-like inability to countenance any other perspectives than their own (or rather the ready-made one they’ve so readily imbibed), and that they are so sure they are right, that they figuratively stick their fingers in their ears, then mouth obscenities at anyone who deviates from their carefully constructed fiction.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Publications like the Guardian have simply become propaganda for those who need to be told where to direct their hatred. The comments section in the Guardian is merely an outlet for politically correct expressions of hate and resentment.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I agree with all your points here, Paddy. I would encourage you, however, not to let the left’s position on any given topic be the decider on what you take to be true. In giving in to this you would only be allowing them to define you. Seek out the nuance and the complexity, because therein is usually where truth is to be found.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

you would never be able to act, because there would always be someone who just kept challenging

Which is absolutely as it should be. When the costs of acting are so stratospheric and the risk so uncertain, perhaps as low as nil, then the case for action needs frankly to be invincible. It isn’t.
I have done expert witness work in the past as part of which I have also had to undermine the other side’s (mistaken) expert. One of the more effective attacks you can make is to show that the management summary does not agree with the report body. Pretty well everything in the former should be lifted verbatim from the latter. If this is not the case, then the author has either done more analysis between the body and the summary that he has not shared; or he wrote the summary first because he had decided what to conclude in advance.
The IPCC reports completely fail this simple test of coherence and consistency because what’s in the summary is always over-egged and alarmist compared to the main text. In the same way as a bad expert witness statement, the IPCC summaries are basically rhetoric and opinion composed independently of the actual facts.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

If you get a hurricane warning, how certain does it have to be before you will move out of the area? 10%, 50%, 80%, or do you wait till the hurricane has struck because you want 100% certainty?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Hurricane warnings are reliable. There’s photographic evidence of their existence and path.
Ecofascist prediction are malignant guesses; Marxist lies, worth nothing.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

” If you kept listening to them, you would never be able to act, because there would always be someone who just kept challenging”. 
Surely,that is what true science should always be about… someone always being prepared to be challenging?
Sadly, in these days of – “needing to sell yourself to get the woke-tied funding”, and cancel culture, too many chose the a path of conformity,and that is not consensus.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

I’d say no. True science is about finding better and better understanding of the world, that we can use to act. That requires two things: 1) That we can always get out of the current understanding, in case that is needed to find a better one. 2) That when we have a good understanding we use it to guide our actions. If we keep spending our time on challenges and never accept that we we have is good enough for now, we will never be able to do anything with all the understanding.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Just wondering whether you have actually practiced science professionally. Doesn’t seem like it. True science is always about questioning and being skeptical. And indeed, the way major advances are made is precisely when an individual scientist challenges the consensus of the so-called experts.

Trevor Law
Trevor Law
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

the vast majority of people who go against current orthodoxy are mistaken” Well, probably (although I can’t imagine where you found the data which supports that contention). But surely it is equally true that the vast majority of orthodoxies which were once current proved to be mistaken?

DA Johnson
DA Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

This is an clear analysis of how any thoughtful person should approach complex subjects in which they are not experts. Paddy Taylor’s point about the scientific community and media being the ones who “should value scepticism the most” yet who have nonetheless “closed ranks” against any who challenge the consensus is one that can be applied to a range of subjects, as can the point about “vested interests”. Thank you for this excellent summation of reasons to be sceptical.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

I’ve felt utter contempt for my former colleagues in academic philosophy ever since several hundred of them signed an open letter attempting to “cancel” the gender-critical philosopher Kathleen Stock.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I am in academia too and deeply ashamed of what it has become. I’m looking to leave and enter the private sector.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
2 years ago

Probably McIntyre would have written a more worthwhile book (or rather less worthless book) had he considered another group of “science-deniers” in urgent need of persuasion: those who deny the reality of biological sex. And if he were genuinely concerned about the damage being done by conspiracy theories, perhaps he should have applied his talking cure to those who attribute every discrepancy, every setback, every disappointment to “systemic racism” and “white supremacy”.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

Absolutely, but he’s woke, so he’s only concerned by people who disagree with certain, very specific scientific ideas.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

RACE science is the one he should have tackled. CRT and such.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

It sounds like Lee McIntyre doesn’t define what he means by science. I get the impression that for many, science is much like sorcery in the sense that “follow the science” sounds more and more like, “study the chicken bone configurations” or “look at the moon”. It’s a word thrown around with no understanding of what it is, as Lee McIntyre appears to demonstrate by using words like “denial”, which presumes not only that there is a truth that is indisputable, but that the subject some how knows the truth but nevertheless refuses to see it.

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Thanks for reading these books, Tom.
I’ll probably skip it.
Looking up Lee McIntyre, I see that he has studied arts and philosophy – fine subjects of course – but what in that academic (he has no other) career qualifies him to lecture others about science?
I’m also intrigued as to how he found a “representative” flat-earther.

William McKinney
William McKinney
2 years ago

And Tom Chivers’ science qualifications are what precisely?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Tom is also a philosophy graduate .
His skill is in journalism.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
2 years ago

Strange how many of these ‘scientists’ who sneer at so-called ‘science deniers’ believe that mammals can change sex…..

David Owsley
David Owsley
2 years ago

LOL, excellent comment

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

They do NOT change sex, no one believes that, it is XX and XY – it is that they ‘Identify’ with a sex which is held as being in fact what sex is –

‘ It is not what you are, it is what you identify as’

No way to scientifically argue that, as it is just made up.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

To add a separate point – Lee McIntyre immediately divulges his politics by steering away from the science of gender and sex. There is no science that links people identifying as a sex with being biologically of that sex. That might have been an interesting thing to explore, but his omission of that says much about his ideological biases.

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago

The problem is that institutions, once set up to serve the public, have become co-opted by a totalitarian ideology. The experts may be 100% correct about everything, but in my mind, letting myself be injected by a ‘miracle’ medical compound is akin to following a prescription given to me by a N*zi doctor. I’d rather take my chances with the virus.

The pandemic and its outcomes were twisted in such a way as to create a system of enforced compliance. I fear there will be dire consequences for those who refuse to play along.

Last edited 2 years ago by Julian Farrows
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

You’re free to forego the vaccines if you choose, I don’t believe in mandatory vaccination except in a very limited number of circumstances, such as if you want to work in a care home around vulnerable people.
However you simply have to compare the member of deaths per infections in most countries before and after large numbers of vaccinations to see that they’re largely effective. Comparing them to the experiments carried out in the concentration camps is simply idiotic in my view

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The last sentence is a little bit off, don’t you think.
As for vaccines and your second to last sentence you have to be careful. They were introduced in January during the height of what one might call the flu season (defined broadly as upper respiratory tract virus infections of all types). Respiratory viruses, including COVID are seasonal and the number of cases were plummeting until the “delta” variant came on board, and those too are falling in the UK. The key test of the vaccines will be the coming flu season (October ’21 to March/May ’22).

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

I have seen no stats on it but I would be interested to know the total number of deaths from all respiratory infections as opposed to just COVID. I strongly suspect that by the time you include things like ‘flu, where I believe deaths are about 20,000 down as a result of lockdown etc., we might actually be ahead. I’d love to know as I haven’t seen this counted anywhere.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

After Israel got highly vaccinated the numbers of infections went through the roof. Virtually every mass vaccination has resulted in a giant increase in numbers of infections – you may say it is Delta….. But so what? Every mass vaccination results in more cases, weird but seemingly true.

One guy in the substack shows this, and so is dropped from all social media – weird things afoot…

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Absolutely correct. And unfortunately the public health authorities are just ignoring these observations which are clearly really important. It’s like they are just madly pushing on, no matter what evidence to the contrary may show up. This is very unfortunate.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

I simply think comparisons with anything to to do with the crimes of that regime are a terrible thing to do personally, as it trivialises the unique horror of the atrocities they committed.
Much the same as the current fascination with some of the left to simply shout fascist at those they disagree with downplays the damage caused by actual fascism, or those on the right that equate any policy that of a social nature with the gulags, I think people need to think more carefully before making outrages comparisons

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

COVID infections are rocketing particularly among populations with high vaccine rates, yet media, governmental and health agencies continue to insist we get ourselves vaccinated. The general vindictiveness against those who refuse to do so is merely politically correct hatred, much like the kind directed at people who refuse to conform to notions of systemic racism or greater government involvement in people’s personal lives. There is something more to this than simply preventing deaths and freeing up hospital beds.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

You were doing well with your first sentence, but the second sentence implies that those vaccinated cannot get Covid and transmit the virus. This is not true. All that is being reported is that there are fewer hospitalizations and deaths with the vaccinated.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

This is not just about vaccination. It is also about masks, social distancing etc.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Interesting you mention masks when the main route of transmission has now been established to be aerosols. According to a recent Canadian study using mannequins, masks (surgical or cloth) only reduce emission of aerosols by about 10% which effectively means they have no impact whatsoever as a method of source control and zero impact as a protective measure. N95 masks that are fitted do a lot better but try wearing one of those for any prolonged period of time.
The truth is that if you don’t want to get COVID you do the same thing that you would have done to avoid getting the flu or a common cold. You don’t go to crowded indoor places with little to no ventilation. Really very simple.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Do you have a link?

David Owsley
David Owsley
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Here is one, which I presume is the one mentioned.
https [colon] //vaccinechoicecanada [dot] com/wp-content/uploads/masks-dont-work-denis-rancourt-april-2020 [dot] pdf
There are others including the recent Danish study:
https[colon] //www [dot] acpjournals [dot] org/doi/10.7326/M20-6817

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I’d love that too because it’s been something that’s confounded me for over a year now. “It’s spread by AEROSOLs so wear a MASK” always sat with me uncomfortably particularly considering the real world manner of mask wearing.

aaron david
aaron david
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Experimental investigation of indoor aerosol dispersion and accumulation in the context of COVID-19: Effects of masks and ventilation
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34335009/

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  aaron david

Thanks, guys, that was interesting.

The Danish study is well known already. It shows that masks do not work by protecting healthy mask wearers, but mainly by making sick mask-wearers less infectious.

“Experimental investigation …” says that the main effect is by deviating flows of aerosols away form other people’s faces, whereas the long-term accumulation (10 hours) of very fine aerosols in the air are not much reduced; those can be significantly reduced by better ventilation. Which sounds pretty sensible.

Neither study says that masks are useless, though they do put a limit on the benefits.

masks-dont-work-denis-rancourt does say that masks are useless. There are enough relevant references etc. here that it makes at least a good argument to an amateur like me, and it would be interesting to see a proper attempt at refutation, so we can see where the holes might be in his argument. I do see a few problems

  • Rancourt is totally certain that masks are completely useless, and that anyone who disagrees with him is an idiot, or in bad faith or both. That kind of cocksure attitude increases the risk that he might have a biased attitude to the evidence.
  • He pushes hard on the point that you can catch COVID from a single virus particle, and concludes that measures to reduce the amount of virus in the air are therefore useless. That does not sound logical – you would expect that the average risk of getting sick increased with viral load.
  • He has this long list of all the terrible risks you might get from mask wearing that you absolutely cannot in good conscience expose people to without lots of proof. Honesty – the terrible risk of wearing what amounts to a balaclava??

So, thought-provoking and worth hearing more about, but since he is obvious a committed and fanatical anti-masker, we cannot take his unsupported word against the much larger number of people on the other side.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I’m not pro or anti-mask. Rather I’m for using the appropriate mask in the proper place. A fitted N95 is certainly useful but difficult to wear for any prolonged period. A KN95 is OK but not as good as the seal is nowhere close to that of a N95. in EU parlance a N95 is equivalent to a FFP2 mask and a KN95 to FFP1. A surgical mask is fine for prevent direct forward emission of droplets (e.g. into a surgical field when operating, or when in close contact and in direct one on one conversation with somebody indoors in a poorly ventilated space). But neither a surgical mask or cloth mask is much use for preventing aerosol emission (just consider how much air goes out the top responsible for one’s glasses fogging, and of courses from the sides which are poorly sealed), and of even loss in preventing inhalation of aerosols.
Bottom line: use the proper tool for the job. And don’t mandate masks outdoors where there is so much air volume that there’s nothing to worry about.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh
Gordon Welford
Gordon Welford
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Absolutely,no need to catch Covid if you dont want to these days,the onus is on the potential victim not the rest of the world

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Gordon Welford

That’s a bit silly. There are obviously things that one can do to mitigate risk. Traveling on the London tube or NYC subway is obviously a risky environment for any upper respiratory tract infection. Likewise hanging around in crowded smoke-filled pubs and bars.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Many? How do you know? And what definitions of COVID and “many” are you using?
After more than a year, total number of positive tests in most places is about 10% of the population. The true number could be adjusted up a bit for cases at the start when tests were hard to get (but that didn’t last long), but also down a bit for false positives and cases which were so mild they don’t even matter. Let’s roll with 10%. As vaccines don’t stop people getting infected we can ignore it for the question of incidence.
In other words 90% of people have gone a year and a half without getting COVID. If that rate keeps up then after a decade we can say the clear majority would have been infected with some variant of SARS-CoV-2 at least once, but viruses mutate, so it’s hard to say to what extent those infections would lead to COVID-the-disease as defined in late 2019. Especially because over time viruses mutate to be less deadly. That’s why the question of what COVID really means is important, when you start making claims about many/most people getting it, because although one day that may be true by some very academic definition that ignores mutations and derivatives, it’s not necessarily meaningful and especially not meaningful for vaccines which appear to be losing effectiveness given even the relatively minor mutations separating alpha from delta.

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I don’t know which country you are in, but I’ll assume UK; I doubt the numbers are much different elsewhere.
According to PHE data, around 10% of all deaths are from respiratory infections of various sorts. These are almost entirely in the elderly, and include infections that most people would get over with no problem. A failing immune system is just of of those things that eventually proves fatal.
Each such elderly person got that infection from someone else, and that someone from another someone …. and somewhere back along that causal chain are you and me. Sure, we try not to visit granny if we think was have an infection, but at some point we, or someone we have infected, does.
So, my question is, so far in your life, how many people’s deaths have you had a hand in. I don’t doubt that in my 65 years I have had a hand in many, and I don’t doubt that you have as well. Were you so exercised before Covid came along, a disease that has an age mortality profile pretty well identical to death in general, and which has resulted in a level of mortality that is nothing unusual.
Perhaps you need to reflect on whether you can cope with the guilt for all those people you have helped kill in the past?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

When you get a new disease that has so far caused 4.5 million proven extra deaths and an estimated maybe 8 million, I am willing to do a fair bit to reduce the risk. What is your opinion?

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Worldometers gives 4.5 million C19 deaths. Lets assume that that number is correct, ie., they are all from C19 and not just with C19 (which is far from obvious). That is not the same as saying 4.5 million extra deaths.
I don’t have the figures to hand globally, however the UK has 132K C19 deaths, but the excess deaths are nowhere near that level. Hence, if C19 had not come along, either 2020 and 2021 would have had mortality rates that were stunningly low (unlikely in the extreme), or most of those people would have died anyway, of something else.
Just to repeat: a C19 death is not automatically an “extra” death.
Edit: Or 8 million and whatever number you fancy for the UK. Same applies.

Last edited 2 years ago by Michael Richardson
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

The Economist estimate gives around 8 million deaths – and calculate them from global excess death statistics. They have no particular reason to misrepresent the data.

A S
A S
2 years ago

The COVID “deniers” are also a gray area. I live in a very right wing area. Most people are vaccinated and nervous about COVID – this is not partisan. I run a medical practice and get to hear a lot of opinions and of course info on who is getting vaccinated / sick / quarantining etc. Of course there will be some hardline anti-vax paranoid people but it’s a small proportion who fall in line with a fairly constant percentage of nutcases paranoid about something or the other. The media makes out as though the US is rife with antivax COVID “deniers” yet no one mentions that the vaccination percentages are not dramatically different even compared with some far smaller and presumably less wild and wooly European countries. When COVID started, everyone lamented why all countries could not be as wonderful as New Zealand in their handling of the situation and yet are now strangely quiet about why (surprisingly) only about 23% of New Zealand is vaccinated. Unvaccinated people – many young – question if they themselves truly need it and yet others are concerned about government overreach and whether the COVID “battle” is a set to become a permanent government and corporate-fueled jihad where select entities benefit greatly from a status-quo of general population fear and awe. Frankly many of the people raising these concerns here are fully vaccinated. Are people not allowed to ask these questions?

Last edited 2 years ago by A S
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  A S

I live in a very right wing area

Not if you live in the UK, you don’t. There is no right wing to speak of in UK politics. We leave that sort of thing to the French, Italians, Hungarians etc.

A S
A S
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Yes, I live in the US

Last edited 2 years ago by A S
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  A S

“Most people are vaccinated and nervous about COVID – this is not partisan.”

‘Watch how nervous the sheep get when I bang this pot and wave my stick at them…’

That explains your covid compliance, the government used psy-ops to frighten the sheep – and so they are all jittery.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

If you remember, Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions said that the only way science advances is when the previous generation of scientists dies off.
In other words all knowledge, practical, scientific, moral, is a product of an academy of priests, and you’d better not challenge their orthodoxy. Until after they retire.
In a way it is comical how my Lord Bishop of Science imagines he is God. But ’twas ever thus, and ever will be. And don’t mess with the bishop’s wife, Mrs. Proudie.
The fact is that all knowledge is about runes and joss-sticks, and the entrails of birds. Today we have very good runes and joss-sticks. And by the way, humans invented logic and reason to manage their relationships.
Kant said that we cannot know thing-in-themselves, only appearances. Let’s put this another way. If you do not found your world view on the idea that you cannot know the real truth, but only guess at it, then you are a fool and a knave.
Also, don’t forget that when you combine science and politics the result is politics.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

Isn’t it remarkable how all that guessing at runes and the entrails of birds have produced the nuclear bomb, the computer, the contraceptive pill, the moon landing, cloning, etc.? If it was not for the authority of Thomas Kuhn, you might almost think that those scientists actually did understand something about things in themselves.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Not really, no. All those things were driven by clearly defined goals and mostly by the private sector. Especially computers which are not the work of scientists at all, but rather engineers of various kinds. The exceptions like the the moon landing were arbitrary goals but nonetheless very clear and largely driven by military needs.
The reason abstract science / basic research goes so wrong so often is that it’s government funded and doesn’t have any measurable goal beyond the quantity of “knowledge” produced, defined in terms of papers. So you get tons of papers of dubious or worse quality and nobody can stop it, because the scientists are doing what they’ve been told to do more or less, and there’s no objective way to measure the quality of a paper, only heavily gamed social metrics like citation counts. It ends up in a downward quality spiral and ends in stagnation and decay. Note how the moment the moon landings were achieved, space tech under NASA started to drift and the next big leap had to wait for Elon Musk.
So: when people talk about “science” or “scientists” they aren’t actually talking about all science in the abstract, throughout history. They’re usually talking about self-directed and ultimately goal-less academic studies, because that’s the sort of thing that governments fund these days.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Science does have its problems. And if you want to achieve a clearly defined, realistic goal, academic science as it is now working is probably nt the best way to go. If you want to increase your basic knowledge about the structure of atoms, the working of hormones on fertility, or the materials properties of doped semiconductors – and you need those before you can even determine a realistic goal of making atom bombs, contraceptive pills, or microprocessors – you do need people working simply to increase knowledge. Either way it is not true that is impossible to know anything reliable about the world, which is what the Kuhn quote above was suggesting.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Michael James
Michael James
2 years ago

Those who call people who disagree with them ‘deniers’ are typically full of ‘denial’ themselves. There’s much evidence that children flourish best if they’re raised by their married parents. Try saying that out loud.

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael James

Well I don’t know about the second part but I’d definitely agree with the first. Always look to what you say about others to learn how you feel about yourself.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago

And it’s true that all five groups are wrong, or at least their central claims are. The earth is in fact an oblate spheroid; the climate is warming, due to human influence, and will likely have severe negative impacts; vaccines work; GMOs are safe; and Covid is real.

“All five groups are wrong.” McIntyre has written a book which presumes to explain why he is wiser than straw men. And Tom Chivers went right along with it. Why criticize the way he goes about attacking the straw men when you should criticize that he’s attacking straw men at all? And why would you include flat-earthers with climate sceptics? The former – if they exist in any statistically significant numbers (which they don’t) – have been proven delusional by orbiting space craft and cameras or, if you prefer, science. The latter – like people who argue that GMOs are safe – argue that the hystericals they are debating have a history of manipulating data, hiding inconvenient data, and ostracizing members of their own scientific community who don’t tow a very narrow ideological line.

But that’s not even really the problem. The problem is Tom Chivers – like McIntyre – lumps a diverse group of opinions into one mouth-breathing caricature. There is an epidemic of this kind of reductionism. It doesn’t account for the reasonable, defensible, and maybe, you know, *right* arguments of some of the people the caricature presumes to represent. We are asked to take it on faith the Tom is right and Steven Koonin, for instance, is wrong even though Koonin makes nuanced arguments about climate change and Tom does not. And Tom is a “science writer”.

Last edited 2 years ago by Mikey Mike
Charles Lewis
Charles Lewis
2 years ago

I am disapointed he did not add to his list of ‘idiots’ those who promote gender identity and its concomitant nonsenses.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago

I fear that ‘sneering conceit’ is the default attitude towards the common people held by the putative technocracy and its fellow travellers. Masked and with heads bowed we hover socially distant in the corners until our betters require more coffee, champagne or canapes. We might perhaps be good enough to fix their plumbing, prepare the footings for their new carbon neutral home, or drive them (suitably masked again of course) to the airport for their vital quaratine-exempt trip to that international conference in a Swiss hotel, but our life choices are to be made for us by these experts who will always know better than we ever can. How long before our very children are removed from us at their birth to be brought up by properly qualified patenting and nuturing experts?

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Everyone sneers. By saying those people are the ones who do this, you make exactly the writer’s point.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

At best, true science is only settled until the next experiment proves it needs revision. What our elites claim is “science” is really just their prejudices backed by techno babble in many cases.

For example, Covid-19 ain’t the Black Death. The efficacy of locking down entire healthy populations has not been demonstrated by Covid-19 mortality statistics in places that locked down hard, versus places that didn’t lock down at all. In fact, nationwide lockdowns are unprecidented in history. Lockdowns, being new, should have the burden of proof, and they haven’t met it.

Another example: There are no anthropomorphic global warming models that have any statisical significance predicting climate change based on CO2 levels. As in NONE. How is AGW based on science without a predictive scientific model that matches real world experience? It ain’t. It’s just a doomsday cult backed by plausible techno babble.

Even though I have and MS in Statistics, and another MS in Management, I identify as a redneck because I use a little common sense in evaluating the claims of “experts” and “scientists.” Vox populi, vox dei (the voice of the people is the voice of G_d) ain’t an obsolete notion for me. We deserve a government by the consent of the governed, not a government by self appointed leftist “experts,” who seem to be overstating their expertise every time they open their mouths.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago

Spot on

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago

How do you know that everyone sneers?

Andrew Crisp
Andrew Crisp
2 years ago

Of course climate changes, its cyclical. BUT pollution is another thing. The international corporations and climate change advocates fail to mention the damage done (being done) by POLLUTION. To focus on CO2 is a ludicrous theory that doesn’t make sense, considering the tiny percentage in the atmosphere, compared to other gases. Oil spills, hormone-altering plastic in the oceans and rivers, toxic material disposal, uncontrolled waste dumping, soil depletion, toxic pesticides; these are just some of the things that need addressing to improve environmental quality. It is a psychological control mechanism to indicate an invisible enemy and then blame individuals for existing and too many people BS! Yes,we all contribute, but the source of large scale pollution is caused by manufacturing, mining, chemically supported agricultural, etc. The SOURCE should be tackled not the individual consumer.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to read the volumes of responses below, and perhaps my view is a simplistic one, but is it reasonable to assume that based on the massive climate change that has taken place over millions of years, before human activity, that climate change will continue well into the future, regardless of human activity?
As far as having enough evidence is concerned, when scientists can stop a hurricane from happening, or even prevent a summer shower over Iowa, which they can’t even predict within the hour, then I will believe we can do something about global climate change.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
2 years ago

The most effective way I have found to resolve differences of opinion is to first make the effort to try and understand why someone thinks they are right. Sometimes that will improve my knowledge and change my viewpoint. If it does not then I look for something that can open a debate so it becomes a joint effort at problem solving. Sometimes that leads to the other person discovering for themselves something new. What rarely works is confrontation, the brain holds tenaciously to patterns it finds complete and will fit new facts to that pattern rather than change the pattern.
For climate change I have thought for a longtime that we need an observatory on the moon that can measure the energy radiated to the earth and the energy radiated from the earth.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

start by this: https://channelmcgilchrist.com/
we should all read this book before making too many comments…

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
2 years ago

I read McGilchrist’s The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World in 2010 and then almost all of the references he gave that were available in the British Library. It was a very helpful way of covering the ground that he had covered but it all led me to think that the brain works in a very different way from what he proposes, and far simpler.

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
2 years ago