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The 5 characteristics of scientific denialism

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"The 5 characteristics of scientific denialism"

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One of the best climate websites is SkepticalScience.com run by physicist John Cook.

The goal of SkepticalScience is to “explain what peer reviewed science has to say about global warming” and answer the most common questions and objections raised both by the well-meaning doubters and the not-well-meaning disinformers.

Fortunately for us, Cook is blogging more now, which means I’ll be quoting him more (see “How we know global warming is happening — Skeptical Science explains: It’s the oceans!“).  Cook has a good discussion of a recent paper, “Denialism: what is it and how should scientists respond?” that I excerpt below:

While the [paper's] focus is on public health issues, it nevertheless establishes some useful general principles on the phenomenon of scientific denialism. A vivid example is the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, who argued against the scientific consensus that HIV caused AIDS. This led to policies preventing thousands of HIV positive mothers in South Africa from receiving anti-retrovirals. It’s estimated these policies led to the loss of more than 330,000 lives (Chigwedere 2008). Clearly the consequences of denying science can be dire, even fatal.

The authors define denialism as “the employment of rhetorical arguments to give the appearance of legitimate debate where there is none, an approach that has the ultimate goal of rejecting a proposition on which a scientific consensus exists”. They go on to identify 5 characteristics common to most forms of denialism:

  1. Conspiracy theories
    When the overwhelming body of scientific opinion believes something is true, the denialist won’t admit scientists have independently studied the evidence to reach the same conclusion. Instead, they claim scientists are engaged in a complex and secretive conspiracy. The South African government of Thabo Mbeki was heavily influenced by conspiracy theorists claiming that HIV was not the cause of AIDS. When such fringe groups gain the ear of policy makers who cease to base their decisions on science-based evidence, the human impact can be disastrous.
  2. Fake experts
    These are individuals purporting to be experts but whose views are inconsistent with established knowledge. Fake experts have been used extensively by the tobacco industry who developed a strategy to recruit scientists who would counteract the growing evidence on the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. This tactic is often complemented by denigration of established experts, seeking to discredit their work. Tobacco denialists have frequently attacked Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine at the University of California, for his exposure of tobacco industry tactics, labelling his research ‘junk science’.
  3. Cherry picking
    This involves selectively drawing on isolated papers that challenge the consensus to the neglect of the broader body of research. An example is a paper describing intestinal abnormalities in 12 children with autism, which suggested a possible link with immunization. This has been used extensively by campaigners against immunization, even though 10 of the paper’s 13 authors subsequently retracted the suggestion of an association.
  4. Impossible expectations of what research can deliver
    The tobacco company Philip Morris tried to promote a new standard for the conduct of epidemiological studies. These stricter guidelines would have invalidated in one sweep a large body of research on the health effects of cigarettes.
  5. Misrepresentation and logical fallacies
    Logical fallacies include the use of straw men, where the opposing argument is misrepresented, making it easier to refute. For example, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined in 1992 that environmental tobacco smoke was carcinogenic. This was attacked as nothing less than a ‘threat to the very core of democratic values and democratic public policy’.

Why is it important to define the tactics of denialism? Good faith discussion requires consideration of the full body of scientific evidence. This is difficult when confronted with rhetorical techniques which are designed to distort and distract. Identifying and publicly exposing these tactics are the first step in redirecting discussion back to a focus on the science.

This is not to say all global warming skeptic arguments employ denialist tactics. And it’s certainly not advocating attacking peoples’ motives. On the contrary, in most cases, focus on motives rather than methods is counterproductive. Here are some of the methods using denialist tactics in the climate debate:

  1. Conspiracy theories
    Conspiracy theories have been growing in strength in recent months as personal attacks on climate scientists have intensified. In particular, there has been accusations of manipulation of temperature data with the result that “the surface temperature record is unreliable” has been the most popular argument over the last month. This is distracting people from the physical realities of global warming manifesting themselves all over the world. Arctic sea-ice loss is accelerating. Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are losing ice mass at an accelerating rate. Spring is coming earlier each year. Animal breeding and migration are changing in response. Distribution of plants are shifting to higher elevations. Global sea level is rising. When one steps back to take in the full body of evidence, it overwhelmingly points to global warming.
  2. Fake experts
    A number of surveys and petitions have been published online, presenting lengthy numbers of scientists who reject man-made global warming. Close inspection of these lists show very few qualifications in climate science. On the contrary, a survey of climate scientists who actively publish climate research found that over 97% agree that human activity is significantly changing global temperature.
  3. Cherry picking
    This usually involves a focus on a single paper to the neglect of the rest of peer-review research. A recent example is the Lindzen-Choi paper that finds low climate sensitivity (around 0.5°C for doubled CO2). This neglects all the research using independent techniques studying different time periods that find our climate has high sensitivity (around 3°C for doubled CO2). This includes research using a similar approach to Lindzen-Choi but with more global coverage.
  4. Impossible expectations
    The uncertainties of climate models are often used as an excuse to reject any understanding that can come from climate models. Or worse, the uncertainty of climate models are used to reject all evidence of man-made global warming. This neglects the fact that there are multiple lines of empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming .
  5. Logical fallacies
    Strawmen arguments abound in the climate debate. Often have I heard skeptics argue “CO2 is not the only driver of climate” which every climate scientist in the world would wholeheartedly agree with. A consideration of all the evidence tells us there are a number of factors that drive climate but currently, CO2 is the dominant forcing and also the fastest rising. Logical fallacies such as “climate has changed before therefore current climate change must be natural” are the equivalent of arguing that lightning has started bushfires in the past, therefore no modern bushfire is ever started by arsonists.

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27 Responses to The 5 characteristics of scientific denialism

  1. The Irritator says:

    These climate change deniers are the same anti-science nitwits who pay extra for organic foods because they feel organics are healthier to eat than normally produced food. They believe this despite all the scientific literature that says there is no nutritional difference whatsoever.

    [JR: Hmm. A new form of concern troll? I don't want to get into a discussion of organics, but there are many reasons other than "nutritional" to want to go organic.]

  2. mark munroe says:

    Im very new to this subject and am trying to be objective. But it seems that the information used to contradict man made climate change deniers is not fact based but only mentions 2 things: 1. A majority of scientists support man made climate change 2. they use situations from the past i.e. tobacco lobbyists to say how wrong we are now. Much “science” can be found to support either side but for now the deniers are the only ones i can find using facts.

  3. Per #2, mark munroe, you need to look a little more deeply; the items you list scarcely qualify as the primarry bases of the argument. The sidebar here provides a variety of links. You should also read Weart’s The Discovery of Global Warming http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html, or even chapter 9 of the IPCC AR4 WG1 report.

    With respect to the article, each of the the 5 techniques listed is something that any adequate course in Critical Thinking would examine as a type of fallacy. This is not a surprise, but it is worth noting: scientific methodology is simply basic principles of reasoned inquiry refined and focused.

  4. Ian Forrester says:

    mark munroe said:

    Im (sic) very new to this subject and am trying to be objective. But it seems that the information used to contradict man made climate change deniers is not fact based.

    Mmmm seems to be a bit of a contradiction here. You are “very new” to this subject yet you appear to have read all the denier websites which offer nothing but lies, disinformation, misinterpretation and obfuscation and have not read one real piece of science from the scientific literature.

    May I suggest you spend the next six or so months actually reading up on the science of climate change then come back here and discuss things in a rational manner. Otherwise you are just a denier troll.

  5. Great summary of denialism.

    But these are not innocent errors. Such acts of deception require deliberate planning and hard work.

    They are serving another master.

  6. darth says:

    Irritator,

    Not necessarily the same. I googled ‘carbon footprint of beef production’ and found two articles in a quick seach. One said conventional production had less emissions, the other said organic production had less.

    The author of the article (on beef.com) that claimed conventional production produces less emissions works for the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Food Issues. If you go to their website you find lots of articles about global warming that seem to be on the denialist side.

    Denialists that I have met tend to be conservative libertarian types who could care less about organic food. I don’t think there is any correlation between deny climate change and eating organic food. If there is any, I think it would be the opposite based on my 5 minutes of exhaustive research.

  7. Larry Gilman says:

    Mark,

    “Much ‘science’ can be found to support either side but for now the deniers are the only ones i can find using facts.”

    If it were literally true that “deniers” or “skeptics” were the only people in this fight referring to facts, then it would be a matter of Case Closed and Game Over, and you would be _absolutely right_ to turn your back on the scientific mainstream view (i.e., that present-day global warming is real and human-caused).

    But is it true that only “deniers” are “using facts”? I respectfully urge you to consider that it may not be so. I for one — technically educated (PhD Engineering Sciences) but not a real scientist, much less a climatologist, so not arguably under peer pressure to think one way or another in this matter — have been looking at this for years and am profoundly convinced by reading literally hundreds of articles from the scientific literature that the shoe is on the other foot: that the scientific mainstream view is entirely fact-based and that the denialist camp depends 100% on flawed pseudofacts, selected truths deprived of key context, and fallacious chains of reasoning (often sincerely advanced). In this respect, the climate denialists are a close parallel to Creationists, as many people have remarked.

    The IPCC 2007 report, despite a few minor but extremely well-publicized pimples, is a magnificent, even overwhelming compendium of footnoted _facts_ on global warming. I urge you, I beg you, I get down on my knees and howl like a dog to implore you, to give it a chance — to read, attentively, fully, and fairly, the Executive Summary document of the Science Background report and to trace any points that seem dubious to you to the fuller treatment in the main text.

    Executive Summary: http://www1.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-spm.pdf
    Main Science Basis Report: http://www1.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg1.htm

    May intellectual honesty prevail!

    Sincerely,

    Larry

  8. MapleLeaf says:

    Mark Munroe,

    I’m not sure if your post was designed to antagonize. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I’m afraid your assessment represents a gross oversimplification and seems to portray projection.

    The facts, empirical evidence all support the theory of AGW. Even renowned ‘skeptics” like Lindzen and Spencer agree that we are and will continue to warm the planet. They just wishfully believe that it won’t be by much as stated by science cited in the IPCC, but they have failed to demonstrate otherwise (Lindzen and Choi’s infamous 2009 paper has been soundly debunked) despite having had 30 some years to do so.

    While people like Monckton are good at running off numbers and ‘facts’, closer scrutiny shows them to be half-truths, cherry picked, self contradictory, distorted or even outright lies. WUWT also spout many “facts’, most of which when scrutinized or vetted turn out to be misleading at best and more of than than not incorrect. So don;t confuse someone stating with “authority” that this is all a hoax because of x, y and z. Check the supposed facts put forth by those in denial about AGW by going to NASA, NOAA, AMS etc.

    The literature and internet is full of real facts about the impacts of AGW, you just have to be very careful to seek out credible and impartial sources. For starters try this excellent web site:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com

    And of course, Joe, has some excellent factual and scientific resources here at ClimateProgress.

    And, at all costs avoid political and pseudo science blogs like WUWT, they will only lead you astray.

  9. J4zonian says:

    Thou art well-named, Irritator.

    I notice your use of straw person argument, misrepresenting the views of your opponents, who buy organic food not only because it’s healthier for the eater but because it’s healthier for farmworkers, the biosphere and everyone in it. Organics also encourage the health and vitality of farming communities, as opposed to chemical/mechanized ag, which destroys them.

    Cherry picking scientific studies further demonstrates the invalidity of your position. Specific organic foods studied have been found to be lower in pesticides and higher in nutrients, at least partly due to better soil quality (which takes a while and good management to develop, thereby possibly causing sampling problems in some studies). Since pesticides have become so ubiquitous in the environment and in our own body burden of harmful chemicals as well as that carried by every organism on Earth, there is sometimes not as much difference as we’d like between organic and chemically-grown food, but to say that’s a reason NOT to grow food organically is to ignore reason, logic, medicine and health.

    The third reason your name is appropriate is that this is not an organic food blog, but a climate site. Maybe you should find an organic food denialist site where your arguments will be better received.

    Meanwhile…since this IS a climate site……Physicist Alan Yeoman says increasing organic matter in all arable soil on the planet 1.8% [or 4% on half of it, or 10% on 20%, etc.] would sequester all the carbon emissions of the industrial era, so organics are good and necessary for avoiding global catastrophe as well. Since chemical agriculture is entirely dependent on cheap supplies of oil and they are disappearing fast it is doomed to have a very short life anyway. And thank the gods and goddesses for it, since it’s so bad in so many ways for everything alive.

  10. paulm says:

    The average person is only vaguely aware, still, about Global Warming and its consequences. Blame it on the media, blame it on the scientists, blame it on Governments, blame it on our selflessness.

    Most average joe’s I speak with now say that GW is probably real, but its cyclic! Blame it on weather forecasters. They are the initial face the public trusts in this field and their reticence and ignorance at accepting the reality has tainted the picture.

    This is an emergency, yet there is no sense of urgency in the public. Panic is a good thing. There are different stages and levels to it, but basically its a mechanism that allows us survive. The level will start to grow with more and more alarming climate driven events, but trust me we need some instilled panic now.

    There is absolutely no drive here to motivate people in to action in address this event which is going to topple civilization and may even drive us to extinction. This is more than fiddling while Rome burns.

  11. Rodel says:

    Nice one Larry :) I love the begging part…

  12. Rob C. says:

    Great post! But I have to respectfully disagree with your conclusion that focusing on the deniers’ motives are counterproductive. I think the denialists’ unethical motives and dishonesty should be attacked early and often. I think it is pretty clear that most of the deniers’ talking points are generated by paid professional PR agents either operating openly as part of a front organization “think tank” like Heritage or AEI, or under alias online. Their strategy is classic PR “activist engagement” following the successful model employed by Big Tobacco.

    The success of the Truth campaign stems largely from its exposure of the dishonest motives of the tobacco industry’s efforts to keep people hooked. Truth ads use the outrage engendered by the behavior described in their ads to make smoking synonymous with submission to a corporate “pusher.”

    I also believe that Bill McKibben was right when he wrote in his TomDispach op-ed that “Science may be what we know about the world, but politics is how we feel about the world. And feelings count at least as much as knowledge.” We need to make it clear that we the people are being subject to a fraud by the fossil fuel industry and that this fraud is costing our children their future.

  13. school marm says:

    ‘average joes’ is spelled ‘average joes’. No possession, no contraction, no apostrophe.

  14. Larry Gilman says:

    J4zonian,

    Very well said on all points re. organics.

    Re. the climate/organics connection, there is a good deal of science on this point and it tilts heavily toward organics. The UN FAO stated in its 2007 report (ftp://ftp.fao.org/paia/organicag/ofs/OFS-2007-5.pdf), “Greenhouse warming potential in organic systems is 29 to 37 percent lower, on a per hectare basis, because of omission of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides as well as less use of high energy feed.”

    And before anyone jumps on that “per hectare” bit (“aha, but you grow less per hectare, don’t you?”), organic farming is at least as productive per hectare as industrial/GMO agriculture: see, e.g., http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/July05/organic.farm.vs.other.ssl.html , with similar results in the literature across the range of crops.

    For a good overview of the organics/climate connection, see this extensively-referenced report: http://indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/ClimateStudy%20IFOAM%20Screen.pdf

    Organic agriculture IS warming-mitigation agriculture — on top of all its other benefits to local economies and communities, the soil, and the water.

    It is one of the many sorry-ass omissions of the IPCC’s 2007 report that it doesn’t, to my knowledge, even mention organic agriculture in its Mitigation section. Despite ample data on this point. IPCC must not bite the governmental hands that feed it its (big agribusiness) diet?

    Regards,

    Larry

  15. J4zonian says:

    paulm,

    We do not need panic. Yes, panic gets people to act, but who and how? People’s cognitive abilities and feelings of empathy and connection are disturbed and overridden by panic and trauma. They are easily misled and compelled to commit or allow force, violence and coercion. Fear is the response to a threat, real or imagined. Especially when people are unwilling to feel fear, anger follows closely–the gathering of energy to defend oneself (however that’s defined) and the use of it to strike out at whatever enemies are perceived or blamed for the threat.

    With fear and anger ascendant, people become more dependent on authority figures. There are 3 possible responses to serious threats: fight, flight and freeze. They apply differently to different parts of us and parts of society. We have seen–after 2001, in the ongoing assault on civil liberties, ecological and safety protections, etc during the Bush and Obama administrations, that the far right has effectively harnessed anger and used symbols to justify attacks on not just liberties but liberals, immigrants, young African-American men, Moslems, regulations on corporations, climate aware people, and science itself. The left, on the other hand, has frozen. We have watched helplessly as civilization has been dismantled to create a warlord world of government, industry and hierarchical religion and as science, knowledge and discourse have been discredited. We have to think psychologically, systemically and symbolically, paying attention to what works—for all parts of the system from inactive supporters through undecideds and the confused to active disinformers.

    If we encourage panic, if we use national security arguments, if we wait or fail to get action until multiple climate Pearl Harbors happen, we are more likely to get military responses, real and metaphorical. We are more likely to trigger suspension of those few civil liberties we have left, and we need them to stop coal, stop nuclear, counter the corporate megaphone, protect organics, reforest the world and probably not too far in the future, stop useless and potentially catastrophic geoengineering reactions.

    We need to speed up progress by slowing down and paying attention—to ourselves, to nature, to sense.

  16. Logic Deferred @3,

    Recognize mark munroe’s weak display of Denier characteristics #3 & #5?

    Expect #1 & #2 to show up shortly.

    Joe, there should be at least a #6 – playing plain dumb, although, to be sure, some are not faking it.

    –IANVS

    [2nd attempt]

  17. Jennifer says:

    You give people facts, and they whine that they don’t understand all that sciency mumbo-jumbo and demand that you use English.

    You give people a summary of the facts in so-called plain English, and they howl that you must be covering up the facts.

    What the fact do people want?

  18. David B. Benson says:

    mark munroe (2) — Pleasee read “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

  19. bill says:

    These climate change deniers are the same anti-science nitwits who pay extra for organic foods because they feel organics are healthier to eat than normally produced food. They believe this despite all the scientific literature that says there is no nutritional difference whatsoever.
    the irritator @1

    Being exactly the kind of ‘anti-science nitwit’ you refer to (well, I prefer to buy local and/or organic or minimum pesticide, but these days local prevails for carbon reasons) and knowing, as I do, many other similarly-minded ‘nitwits’, I’d have to say they run significantly more strongly to the warmist than denialist side of the argument. This seems rather consistent with an overall concern for the environment.

    I have, however, encountered many ‘conservative libertarian’ types who just hate, and I use the word advisedly, Greenies, Vegos, Warmists and Lefty/Liberal/Socialist/Commies generally (citizens of the US who are hostile to them often tend to conflate these genres, much to the bemusement of those of us elsewhere, I note. I won’t include ‘Social Democrats’, as this might be taken for a reference to the more amiable of Obama’s aides!)

    Very alarmingly, I’ve encountered several virulent haters of all of the above who have science degrees. Funny old world.

    PS I am spectacularly good at ignoring the arguments of trolls, so if this was, as I suspect, just a baiting exercise don’t expect much joy from me.

  20. fj2 says:

    Absolutely excellent. Excellent!

  21. Wit's End says:

    Yes, excellent post with terrific links as rebuttals to the most recent denier memes.

    Just for fun though I have to agree with the irritator, I know many people who are deniers but buy organic food. I attribute this to the unease of the Ignorers – they don’t want to alter their lifestyle or grotesque overconsumption of consumer goods, travel, and imported gourmet food, but they have a dim perception (since they’re not actually dumb) that this is an unsustainable pattern – and so they basically fetishize their fear. Rather than focus on the real threat to their children’s health – the toxic greenhouse gases they are breathing from the exhaust from their SUV plus emissions from coal-fired electricity powering their big screen plasma teevee – they instead worry obsessively about chemicals in food, germs, and sexual predators!

  22. Wit's End says:

    I am so proud of Significant Other, who has come a long way from free marketeer, Reagan conservative – here is his most recent comment at the coffee party climate change forum, in response to a denier:

    KEEP IT UP, SUBTOOL
    unreal2r – 2010-03-20 18:37
    Brian, it is very important to me that you and Tigger and the rest of the brain-dead nimrods who make up the deny-doubt-delay axis continue to drink the swill that’s been brewed for you – or that you’ve distilled yourself from the flotsam and jetsam you’ve dredged up from the Internet sewer.

    Very important.

    Vitally important.

    In fact, my future depends on it.

    Anyone who has studied the collapse of civilizations realizes that the population ultimately gets divided into three groups: (a) the flesh eaters, (b) the herd, and (c) those that get away.

    As things unwind, as they surely will, the least of your problems are going to be socialists under your bed and communists in your closet. You’re going to have to deal with marauding gangs of ruthless thugs. They will be younger than you. They will be stronger than you. They will be better armed than you. And they will be angry and outraged that you robbed them of a future.

    If you are lucky, they will either enslave you or kill you quickly. If you aren’t so lucky, they will put you on the menu because, at the end of the day, you are just a protein unit, a source of energy, a chance to make it through another few days.

    I say it’s important because the more of you there are in the herd, the less likely they’ll come looking for me. I intend to get away and survive. And to do that, you have an important role to play in my plan.

    So, please, keep it up. Convince as many people as you can that there’s nothing at all to be concerned about – that the people who are talking about collapsing ecosystems are just a bunch of crazy alarmist loons – that there’s nothing at all to climate change.

    You are simply acting out a part in the mechanics of evolution. Your genes have been selected for cancellation. It was your choice, of course. Unfortunately, you made one that you’re not going to be able to live with.

    Oh, and stock up on barbeque sauce. May as well go out with a positive Zagat review.

  23. Both scientists and the anti-science denialists are mistaken to call this a debate. Holding a debate is to misapprehend the issue, because global warming will unfold according to scientific laws no matter who “believes” in whatever dogma. We can debate the theory of gravity, but things still fall according to the observed laws of gravity.

    Rather, AGW is something to observe and discover. We choose to know and learn, and those who deliberately avoid learning or knowing (“I don’t believe in global warming”) do little to influence the event itself.

    This is not a scientific squabble, it is a political one. Almost purely political. Those who stand in the way of adaptation or mitigation are defining themselves quite well – politically.

  24. lizardo says:

    Very interesting post, Joe. Having returned to this to read the last set of comments I agree that there’s a subset of people who are all about me (and mine) so worried about what their kids eat etc. but it’s an easy switch in many urban areas.

    Also, check out Grist’s article or series about artificial nitrogen fertilizer and soil destruction. Scary!

    And to Mark Munroe, hello! But if you were on a jury in a civil trial, you wouldn’t want to sleep through the plaintiff’s case, wake up for the defense case and then fault the plaintiff’s rebuttal if you didn’t know what the original evidence was, much of which the defense might not contest. (Or a criminal trial either, no napping!)

    So I would encourage you to start at the beginning. And this site is a good place to do that.

    The basic facts of the greenhouse effect don’t change. That’s science. The amount of emissions keeps increasing, and new feedback mechanism keep being discovered (just one example: meltwater on glaciers or ice shelves dropping through and lubricating the bottom).

    Deniers’ arguments and focus keeps changing. Some deniers have given up denying and now just quibble about what to do.

    And sometimes depends on the current weather here in the US that month which of course is a teeny part of a giant picture and beside the point entirely, but it plays well. If it’s hot outside, it’s natural and not a problem. If it’s cold outside, see!

    However, you are not alone at all if your first serious look at the scientific claims about global warming actually started on the denier side. I attended three huge public forums over the years, saw “An Inconvenient Truth” and hosted a public showing here some years later. I don’t know who attended the commercial movie screening, but in all these other cases my impression is that the people who came were already interested, and the average person can’t see it and so doesn’t care, so doesn’t care to find out.

    Buy Joe’s book “Hell and High Water” or get it (or request it) at yr local library or get hold of “Field Notes from a Catastrophe” short but very helpful and a quick read.

    At this point global warming has been studied for several decades at least so actual scientific articles/reports are essentially updates or small pieces, and a person needs to get the big picture first.

    My old history teacher at the HS level used to recommend reading a kid’s history book when starting to study a new era or country etc., even if was biased or wrong about a lot of stuff. It would tend to give you something of an outline to then improve upon. Just as if you were going to Australia several hundreds of years ago. Any map would be better than none and helpful in understanding what you encountered.

    Fortunately, regarding global warming there are some overviews (here) and in book (or DVD form) that are a better start than trying to work backwards from rebuttals of rebuttals and then separate discussions about various aspects of how scientists communicate with the public (or aren’t allowed to, or don’t do it well) who’s paid by who to raise questions, and of course running commentary on what country is doing what, or not, where our current Senators stand or shift, and so on….

    I read this site daily, but blogs post the most recent stuff up front, and you have to explore to find the basics and follow links where indicated to recommended basic resources.

  25. Tracy says:

    Thanks for the post. Good to see the tactics and strategies being used by deniers summed up, and actually even better to see the link between the climate change denialist movement and its similarities to public health denialism campaigns. Although I have heard quite a bit about the similarities between climate deniers and those who claimed smoking does not cause cancer, it is interesting to see how these same tactics have been used by others.

    Re your point in the middle of the post:

    “This is not to say all global warming skeptic arguments employ denialist tactics. And it’s certainly not advocating attacking peoples’ motives. On the contrary, in most cases, focus on motives rather than methods is counterproductive.”

    It seems this point was rather disregarded in some commenters’ response to Mark Munroe. If he truly is quite new to the debate and prone to siding with deniers, I imagine he would be quite turned off by many of the responses to him here. Thanks to those who suggested credible sources for him to turn to rather than attacking his motives or credibility instantly. Climate change is an extremely complex topic, and while we need to be vigilant about the veracity of the science, we also need to remember not to push away or vilify those who are genuinely uncertain about the subject.

  26. Pete R says:

    mark munroe, if you would like some helpful information about global climate processes and drivers (including some about Ian Forrester) then may I suggest that you take a look at this site (http://www.stevefielding.com.au/forums/viewthread/692/P30/) where I have posted a comment for you.

    Regards, Pete

  27. Pete R says:

    Tracy, thanks for making those very valid points in your final paragraph. Comments such as those from Ian Forrester do nothing to encourage individuals who are genuinely searching for the facts about The (significant human-made global climate change) Hypothesis to take a balanced look at the arguments.