Deniers are winning in UK, too.

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"Deniers are winning in UK, too."

U.S. conservatives aren’t the only ones who are easily duped (see “The deniers are winning, especially with the GOP“). When 1039 Brits were asked “To what extent do you agree or disagree that … Many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change,” a remarkable 60% agreed whereas only 22% disagreed.

denier-uk.jpgCongrats to the British deniers out there — yes, even you TVMOB, who apparently qualifies as a scientific expert in the UK because he wears a Nobel prize pin made of gold recovered from a physics experiment presented to him by the Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester, New York. [Since I have been focusing on TVMOB so much, I thought I would present a picture of a different UK denier, which can be found here, to help Climate Progress readers understand why deniers are so popular with so many Brits.]

The poll also asked responses to “I sometimes think climate change might not be as bad as people say.” Some 42% agreed while 41% disagreed. I am going to (optimistically) ascribe that less to the UK airing of the The Great Global Warming Swindle than to the fact that this statement is true when it comes to one particular famous British person (see “James Lovelock turns everyone into a climate optimist” and “Lovelock: Malthus was right, and Climate Progress is way, way too optimistic.”)

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17 Responses to Deniers are winning in UK, too.

  1. Paul K says:

    Rather than blame people’s stupidity and nefarious forces, consider what is in your own argument that is not persuasive rhetorically and scientifically. If you assume the same sincerity in others as you do in yourself, you’ll find it easier to identify what is persuasive in the others’ arguments. It is those persuasive points you must refute.

  2. Joe says:

    Paul K — You have fallen into the denier’s trap. The “persuasive points” in others’ arguments have been refuted. Many times. But the media keeps giving them equal time, so that lends inherent credibility to them. After all, the general public and cannot possibly be expected to distinguish scientific arguments on the basis of merit. Indeed, ot is precisely to avoid that problem that the IPCC was set up.

    Science is inherently unrhetorical. Indeed come in many respects it is the exact opposite of rhetoric, which is convincing people through emotional appeal rather than factual appeal. I have an as yet unpublished book on rhetoric which I may throw on the Internet someday, so I am well aware that rhetoric always trumps logic.

    What is the most persuasive to people is the brilliant and plausible-sounding though utterly debunked denier talking points. I also believe that most people and indeed many in the media find it hard to believe that so many people would spend so much effort trying to debunk global warming if they really didn’t believe their position — after all, what they are doing is essentially trying to stop the rest of humanity from saving the health and well-being of future generations. Who could believe such people exist?

  3. Paul K says:

    After all, the general public and cannot possibly be expected to distinguish scientific arguments on the basis of merit. To improve your argument assume the intelligence and discernment of others is equal to your own.

    Science is not rhetoric and I separated them in my first comment. In the science there is plenty of room for those skeptical of the Hansen/Romm 6C+ catastrophe. The science available to the denier is slight but oddly persuasive. The original lone falsification of CO2 caused warming was the discovery that the ice core data, contrary to the original analysis, increases in CO2 ppm actually followed historical warmings by hundreds of years. No matter how many explanations – however correct – are given, it is hard to convince that something can be caused by something that follows it.

    Deniers now claim a second falsification in the lack of greenhouse signal in the tropical atmosphere.

    rhetoric, which is convincing people through emotional appeal rather than factual appeal
    Rhetoric standard definition: the study of the efficient use of language. Your meaning is closer to the word harangue. Debunking is not a sufficient argument. You must specifically refute.

  4. Joe says:

    Paul K: I always assume the intelligence and discernment of others is equal to mine. But that still doesn’t mean they can distinguish scientific arguments. It’s like asking them to figure out whether smoking causes cancer or how they should treat their diabetes. Some things must be decided by scientists and (hopefully decent) politicians.

    Your “original lone falsification of CO2 caused warming” is a standard denier talking point, long debunked. Actually, I’ve never had any trouble explaining to people why that should be a source of greater worry, not less. But the fact that deniers keep repeating it makes it seem compelling.

    Deniers actually claim a lot more falsification than you point out. In any case, it has all been well debunked, but that is largely irrelevant to the public debate.

    The 25 century old art of persuasion noted rhetoric was perhaps best described by Plato as “the art of winning the soul by discourse.” You have given one modern definition of the word, but one that misses the true meaning of the word.

    Wikipedia has it mostly right: “In contraposition to scientific debates, rhetorical arguments, as in politics or even justice, do not make use of demonstrable or tested truths, but resort to fallible opinions, popular perceptions, transient beliefs, chosen evidence or evidence at hand (like statistics), which are all properly called commonplaces as they help establish a commonality of understanding between the orator or rhetor and his/her audience.”

    Harangues are almost the very opposite of what the great rhetoricians had in mind, since they are inherently unpersuasive.

    In his dialogue, Gorgias, about the master rhetorician, Plato gives him a speech that dramatizes the awesome power of rhetoric:
    “If a rhetorician and a doctor visited any city you like to name and they had to contend in argument before the Assembly or any other gathering as to which of the two should be chosen as doctor, the doctor would be nowhere, but the man who could speak would be chosen, if he so wished.”

    So a rhetorician could persuade any audience, no matter how intelligent, that he was more of a doctor than a real doctor.

    I guess I will have to do some blogging on rhetoric.

  5. Paul K says:

    I’ll accept your definition of rhetoric and use persuasive methods. I’d love to read your writing on rhetoric as you are very good at it. To persuade you must refute not merely debunk. I don’t think you can refute the ice core data as currently understood or perhaps, the lack of the greenhouse signature in the tropical atmosphere. You can explain it away, but as you say, that is largely irrelevant to the public debate.

  6. Joe says:

    Thanks. I actually own the website http://www.rhetoric.com, but have been too busy blogging on global warming to start blogging on rhetoric.

  7. Are you ‘Paul K.’ Driessen? Just wondering :

    http://www.eco-imperialism.com/content/bio.php3
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Paul_Driessen

    If you can’t handle the rhetoric, try simple arithmetic : 2 ppm/yr and rising. Remember, time doesn’t magically stop in 2100, and the universe does appear to be somewhat older than 6003 years old.

  8. Will Koroluk says:

    I sometimes think that the global warming ‘debate’ isn’t about science at all, but about fear. A scientist of my acquaintance (he’s a chemist and not involved with earth-system science) said the other day that ‘I wish the climate guys were going to be wrong; I hope they’re going to be wrong; but I know they aren’t going to be wrong.’
    He understands the ramifications of climate change and he fears them in his own life. He has a nice house in a nice suburb, drives a nice car, and has two nice kids. But the city doesn’t have the money to expand infrastructure, or even the money adequately to maintain existing infrastructure, so water and sewer lines rupture more frequently as roads deteriorate. When gasoline hits two bucks a litre he knows his nice house will lose value and his nice car will be virtually worthless. His kids will have to bus to school, although the price of diesel is hurting transit systems already. He will be looking at the need to make big changes. Still, he’s not prepared to put his house up for sale yet, and he really doesn’t want to trade his car for something more fuel-efficient, because his car has already lost some of its trade-in value. He’s looking at change that, for him, is cataclysmic, that will change the very way in which he and his family live.
    A person who can’t even begin to face those changes, will, I think, very often find it easier to deny the science, and as the threat of really big change draws closer, I wouldn’t be surprised to find more denial, not less.
    We need, I think, is some way to communicate all this to people who, by education or circumstance, have never before been forced to think of science in any context. I wish we could count on some of our news media to do this, but I have little faith in them.
    I’d like to see more about the economic opportunities that exist as a result of climate change, more good-news stories about people who have figured out how to solve one piece of one small problem and how that might fit into a cohesive whole, and contribute to the mitigation of climate change.
    Joe, you appear to love the concept of the ‘wedge,’ abstract though that may be to the average person. Maybe the first wedge we should be trying for is a different and more positive way to present climate change and its mitigation.

  9. John Hollenberg says:

    > Are you ‘Paul K.’ Driessen? Just wondering :

    If you click on “Paul K’s” name in his posts, you will be taken to his web site. There you will find that he is Paul Kelly, and his photo bears no resemblance to the other Paul you linked to. While I disagree with most of his views, he seems to be a reasonable fellow, and remains polite in his exchanges here.

  10. Paul K says:

    Thomas Lee Elifritz,
    I can honestly say I have never heard of or read anything by Driessen. After a quick hit on the link, I gather he is an anti environment conspiracy promoter. I am an environmentalist and do not belong to any conspiracy so I doubt I have much in common with him.

    Time doesn’t magically stop in 2100. It stops in 2040. At that point ppms will be at 450, the must stabilize point.

  11. Just the other day, I decided to check to see how many of my fellow Canadians believe that global warming is the real deal, and was shocked to learn that the overwhelming majority do, from a high of 83 percent in Quebec, to a low of 69 percent in tar-sands-oil rich Alberta.

    I was pumped, but when I read the results from the next question, quickly deflated. Less than 40 percent of Canadians think we should spend money trying to slow our own emissions… So they obviously don’t understand the urgency, or what’s at stake, or how we preventing any meaningful change on the international stage. They’re probably thinking that global warming means beach vacations in the Arctic in 15 years, or vineyard tours through Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, the Napa of the North.

    We’ve a long ways to go.

  12. JohnnyRook says:

    Paul K.,

    Some Climaticide denialists are sincere, others are not. Sincerity is not the key point here. Most of the people who deny the reality of evolution are sincere. In other words, they are not knowing liars.

    Of bigger concern is whether they are intellectually honest, and that is where most denialists fail. Because of their ideological prejudice against certain solutions (wide-scale action by governments) that the enormous threat of global warming implies they are forced to either deny it’s existence in the face of overwhelming evidence. If they did otherwise they would to question their whole belief system, which they are unwilling to do, as it is too psychologically threatening.

    They, and not only they, fail to understand what Nietzsche said:

    “A very popular error: having the courage of one’s convictions; rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one’s convictions.”

    To which I might add that it is also a matter of having the courage for self-examination of one’s convictions.

    Richard Levangie,

    I just spent several days examening the American print media’s response to Al Gore’s speech calling for an end to fossil fuel use in the US within 10 years. What was clear is that US media are failing to inform the public about the truth of Climaticide. I don’t know if the same is true in Canada or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it is. Put simply, when people don’t have the facts they can’t make informed decisions.

    You can read the details about what I found here:

    http://climaticidechronicles.org/2008/07/22/gore-ignored-the-dead-tree-medias-dereliction-of-duty/

    [Blogging for the future at Climaticide Chronicles

  13. Brewster says:

    JohnnyRook;

    I would say the Canadian media is better at giving an honest estimate of the Climate Change situation, but that’s because the so much of the US is out of touch. Canada’s coverage is a long way from perfect.

    There are still a lot of op-eds, particularly in Alberta, which rant on with no reference to facts of any kind.

  14. Joe,
    I think you have too dismissive or simplistic a view of that concept that you own the domain name for…. you use rhetoric all the time here to persuade people of your views. Scientists, you are right, are not supposed to use rhetoric to persuade other scientists of their views; instead they are supposed to use the quantitative or qualitative tools that are recognized inside their discipline as potentially persuasive.

    Once, however, they start to make claims about or create a narrative using their findings, even if it hews very closely to their findings, scientists and non-scientists draw on rhetorical tools, which also vary from language to language and culture to culture.

    Any narrative or valuation that you attach to purely neutral language about some scientific findings takes part in rhetoric. You might classify different rhetorical instruments and pieces of rhetoric as having more or less of a close relationship with both logic and with the acknowledged facts, be they scientific or otherwise.

    I think you are objecting to rhetoric that substitutes itself for factual accuracy or logic. Maybe too fine a distinction for your purposes here but I think it is disingenuous to accuse “other people” of using rhetoric when you are using it too. To put together a sequential presentation of an argument of any kind requires rhetoric.

  15. Paul K says:

    Any argument is weakened by name calling, absolutism and sensationalism. All these are found to varying degrees at climateprogress.

  16. Alisha says:

    Joe,

    I think you may be interested in this post, given your random, demeaning pictures of women in ugly shoes:

    A Call to Drill

    Note, these shoes are much, much cuter.

    -Alisha

  17. John Hollenberg says:

    I hadn’t noticed the shoes :-) Thanks for pointing them out.