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What’s the Best Strategy for Dealing with Deniers?

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"What’s the Best Strategy for Dealing with Deniers?"

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David Roberts, in a Grist cross-post.

The other day, I wrote about a study that attempted to explain why conservative white men (CWM) are so loathe to accept the threat of climate change. It has to do with system justification and identity-protective cognition. Go read it!

The question remains: What should we do about it? The denialism or indifference of CWM toward climate is a huge barrier to getting anything done. In this post, I’m going to argue that the typical strategies are doomed to failure. It may be that the simplest, least clever strategy — kick their [metaphorical] asses — is still the way to go.

Repeat it

The original and still most popular approach to dealing with climate deniers is reasoned persuasion: facts and figures and reports and literature reviews and slideshows and whitepapers. This hasn’t ever really worked, but climate types keep trying, like American tourists in a foreign country who try to overcome the language barrier by talking louder and more slowly.

While the study postulated a lot of interesting things about CWM, one thing it didn’t ascribe to them is ignorance. In fact, the CWM who know the most about climate science are the most likely to reject the consensus account. And this isn’t a new finding. Yale’s “Six Americas” report found that the highly skeptical are more informed about climate change science than those who report a high degree of concern about it (the latter of whom still regularly confuse climate with the ozone hole, etc.).

A large number of CWM have taken pains to seek out information on climate change so that they can dispute it. You’ve no doubt encountered them in comment sections online. This is called motivated reasoning: reasoning aimed at justifying a pre-existing conclusion or social identity, gathering supporting facts and ignoring disconfirming evidence.

Motivated reasoning is something all human beings do; we all defend and justify our social identities. In fact, some interesting new social science argues that motivated reasoning is not a bug but a feature — what reason evolved to do. Nevertheless, there’s a difference between motivated reasoning and complete epistemic closure, which is what the right has achieved on climate (and other issues as well).

Which suggests that giving CWM still more facts and arguments is not going to achieve anything.

Drop it

One sentiment, lately growing in popularity, is that the best way around the CWM climate conundrum is just to stop talking about it. If climate has become divisive and partisan, then drop it; there’s plenty of good policy that doesn’t require climate as a premise. That’s the thrust of the recent “Climate Pragmatism” report and the idea seems to be catching on. I addressed that notion in a post last week and said most of what I need to say there. I’ll just add that there’s an implicit premise in the “pragmatism” argument. It assumes that climate is a unique barrier to cooperation with CWM in positions of power and that there are other areas where CWM can be brought around to support clean energy. But what if climate isn’t unique? What if CWM reject it because it came from a tribe they see as their enemies and they’ll reject anything that comes from that tribe? Then dropping climate has won nothing and sacrificed moral authority and simple honesty.

Finesse it

A somewhat more sophisticated take says that we should talk about climate differently, in a way that does not trigger CWM defenses. David Ropeik (whose work on risk perception everyone should be reading) has a post on the CWM study in which he says:

We have stop making climate change a zero sum if-you-win-I-lose battle. We have to frame the issue in ways that work within everybody’s underlying cultural/tribal perspectives. We have to realize that answers are more likely to be found, and solutions are more likely to be reached, if the goal is finding common ground …

In the abstract, this makes plenty of sense, though it’s rarely spelled out in any detail. Offer CWM an entree into the issue that doesn’t require them to give up their tribal affiliations and commitments. Find common ground. Who could argue?

Notice the gigantic underlying assumption, though: that climate change can be rendered benign to the current cultural/tribal perspectives of CWM. Is that so? It’s often claimed that if climate is discussed as a national security issue, an economic opportunity, or a religious/moral imperative, it will bring skeptics over. But those claims have not born out in practice, despite years of attempts. CWM grow steadily more skeptical even as the military, the private sector, and religious institutions grapple with the truth.

The fact is that climate change triggers system justification among privileged classes because it really does carry a threat to the system! It implies an argument for global governance when CWM are nationalistic, an argument for egalitarianism when they are hierarchical, an argument for conservation when they love capitalism, an argument for investment and regulation when they hate government. It also implies that hippies have been right and the conservative movement wrong, for decades.

In communications among individuals, the psychology of communication can be helpful. But framing — which is where lots of wonks and academics seem to begin and end — is not a sufficient political solution. There’s a reason CWM have the cultural/tribal perspectives they do. They are heavily influenced by people and institutes whose interests are threatened by the solutions to climate change.

Denialism in context

Where climate scientists, energy wonks, academics, and eco-journalists go wrong is in abstracting climate change from the larger political situation. They approach it in isolation, wondering what characteristics of this particular phenomenon invoke this particular reaction in these particular people. That distorts their reactions.

The fact is, as I’ve written before, climate denialism is part of something much larger. The most significant driving force behind climate change denial among CWM is not any ineffable psychological mystery but simply the increasing intensity and radicalization of the American conservative movement. The same dynamic afflicting climate change is afflicting the debate over fiscal policy, the economy, jobs, and health care. The right is rejecting empirical reality and adopting a stance of unshakeable ideological opposition to anything the non-right does, even policies they have supported in the past (see: individual mandate in health care, cap-and-trade in environmental policy). The core of the CWM tribal perspective is loyalty to the tribe and hostility to outsiders.

There is a serious asymmetry between the left and right in America that lots and lots and lots of people, for whatever reason, don’t want to acknowledge. The left remains a broad, fractious coalition composed of all sorts of competing interests. The right, by contrast, has become increasingly clarified. Since Reagan, but accelerating since Gingrich, the right has become more and more homogenous, composed of CWM who share a visceral sense of being besieged, of “losing their country,” of seeing their privileged normative place in U.S. culture slip away. They view liberals not as fellow Americans with differing policy views but as a threat to the moral fiber and even the existence of the country. Manicheanism has always been part of the conservative temperament, but that propensity has been hugely accelerated by the construction of a self-contained media machine that runs on fear. They need everything divided into two buckets: good and evil.

In those circumstances, the chances of luring CWM into the climate hawk coalition seem exceedingly slim, no matter how clever and psychologically adept the messaging.

Winning

Let’s remember the goal. The goal is action. The support of CWM is a means to that end, but not necessarily the only means to that end. Perhaps instead of hiding from the fight, or transcending the fight by finding common ground, climate hawks could win the fight. A crazy notion, I know.

CWM are blocking the entire, diverse climate coalition from taking action by virtue of intensity (not to mention a broken and utterly dysfunctional political system). The poll numbers are consistently on climate hawks’ side, but their support is shallow and fickle. The Tea Party, on the other hand, views even efficient lightbulbs as incipient tyranny. As I’ve said many times, intensity wins in politics.

If that’s true, perhaps the answer is not to reduce intensity in hopes of attracting CWM. Perhaps the answer is to increase intensity in order to overcome CWM. Intensity is increased first and foremost through organizing, but also through clear, inspiring messages that draw sharp lines between those fighting for progress and those fighting against it.

The implicit premise of climate “pragmatism” and similar efforts is that CWM are stronger, that climate hawks can’t win a direct clash. And for now, that seems to be true. Beating back the radical conservative resurgence is something that nobody on the left has figured out yet. But the alternative, attempting to win over CWM by soft-pedaling climate, doesn’t exactly have a record of success either.

In the end, everyone has to make their own bet. Do you make progress by attempting to please the Very Serious People running the system or by speaking truth to power and subverting the system? For my part, when I see people denying facts and bullying scientists in order perpetuate the dominance of fossil fuel interests that are killing people and threatening my children’s futures, I am inclined to tell them to go f*ck themselves. That won’t resonate with their social/tribal perspectives, but that’s because I find their social/tribal perspectives repugnant and worthy of social censure. I want to beat them.

– David Roberts

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Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:

  • brademey (signed in using Yahoo)

Rather than telling CWM to go f*ck themselves, perhaps a more promising alternative would be to tell CWW (conservative white women) to stop f*cking them (the “Lysistrata” approach).

15 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 12:00pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

This is a very effective strategy….
Officials Cave to Sex Strike, Agree to Pave Road
COLOMBIAN WOMEN’S ‘STRIKE OF CROSSED LEGS’ LASTED 38 DAYS
http://www.newser.com/story/125179/officials-cave-to-sex-strike-agree-to-pave-road.html

4 · Like · Reply · August 13 at 1:40pm

Timothy Hanes · Top Commenter

Oh my God, this article is the most coherent expression of what I have been coming to myself, ever. It is apparent to me that arguing with pro-fossil zealots is less rewarding than teaching monkeys calligraphy.

12 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 11:33am

Kyle Frisch Adams · Atlanta, Georgia

Beware not to generalize all CWMs; my CWM isn’t in denial about this. Love that acronym, btw.

1 · Like · Reply · August 13 at 1:25pm

Charles Bevington

Congrats. I wasn’t sure how or if progs could make climate change racial in addition to the anti-capitalist (share the wealth) approach already mastered, but they’ve succeeded.

2 · Like · Reply · August 13 at 2:34pm

Timothy Hanes · Top Commenter

Charles, climate change and us causing just is. This is just racial profiling about whether or not someone will understand it.

Given your sensitivity about it ( and I totally understand, as a professional white male, because I can’t tell you how much I find the deck stacked against me, the Man doing his best to hold me down all the time) if you find this offensive you should probably want to legislate against racial profiling for traffic stops and airline security. If you want, I can send you a membership pamphlet for the ACLU. Been a member for 10 years.

8 · Like · Reply · August 13 at 3:13pm

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David Stockbridge Smith · Top Commenter · Apex, North Carolina

One of the most effective strategies of the plunderers has been to establish within the community that virtually everything is a matter of belief and politics. In this perfect world, you get to choose without repercussions. (If AGW upsetts your world viewdon’t worry, forget about it, its a liberal conspiracy.Belief is supreme.) That reason and facts are useful only as tools of power and have no intrinsic value of their own. Anyone confronting you with reason and facts is only trying to manipulate you to do something that you don’t want to do, nothing more. (Their side only has to resist change to be successful.) This is a brilliant and effective strategy. Overcome this and the war will soon be won.

8 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 11:27am

George Ennis · Top Commenter · University of Toronto

I agree I think the point is not to try and win this hard core group of deniers over but to quarantine them politically and socially.

6 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 10:28am

Doug Percival

It seems to me that McCright & Dunlap’s analysis of why “CWMs” are more likely to embrace climate change denial ignores an obvious factor. Namely, that “conservative white males” are the demographic that has for decades been specifically targeted by the so-called “conservative” media, e.g. Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, which have been preaching AGW denial to their cult-like audiences for years.

The factors identified by the study — “social dominance orientation”, “identity-protective cognition”, etc. — are not so much reasons that CWMs are prone to AGW denial per se, but reasons that they are prone to being easily brainwashed with ANY belief that Rush and Fox brand as “conservative”. And the reason that they are vulnerable to that brainwashing is, of course, that it was designed from the very beginning of the “conservative”…See More

5 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 2:39pm

Timothy Hanes · Top Commenter

Maybe. Maybe not. Thing is, you would have to also argue that cap and trade or carbon taxing are conservative solutions, which where then cut off from CWMs by Limbaugh when the Koch brothers saw a threat. I think these solutions are inherently unacceptable to the current Right (or maybe I should say ‘Reichght’). Any government action that is not police or military in nature seems to be unacceptable to the Reichght, and as we saw during the debt debate, anything that could be construed as a tax ist VERBOTEN! So I think you are wrong, there is something inherently conservative in denying climate change, because given these limits on society, there is no solution to global warming if it is true.
Go ahead, ask one of these apes for a conservatively acceptable solution. You’ll find out the thought experiment fries their minds. Just as an experiment, you will not find one conservative who can get to the end of the thought about how to solve climate change, before they insist it doesn’t exist and they quit.
I’d bet one hundred dollars you can’t get one who can finish it.

2 · Like · Reply · August 15 at 12:42am

Wesley Rolley · Top Commenter · Northwestern University

Serendipitously I received the following today from a friend with a long history of activism to prevent ecocide.

“I am not opposing direct action, but it is never enough on its own, without an agenda for follow-through work, and it needs to cultivate broad public support as happened with the Vietnam war. This can only happen when there is a deliberate convergence of OBJECTIVES. Tactics can vary but without a unified vision and mission we will get nowhere. That is my concern over the upcoming DC protest.

With climate change we are dealing with an incredibly complex issue with broad ramifications. The notion that direct action will make changes by itself is naive and wrong. The tar sands people and all the other groups need to develop a unified plan that embraces lobbying, media, public education, litigation as well as direct acti…See More

4 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 12:19pm

Julia Kuglen · Top Commenter · University of Texas School of Law

I’d like to quibble with the wording of one statement in Roberts’ article–in particular his use of “know” and “consensus” in the following sentence: He says, “In fact, the CWM who know the most about climate science are the most likely to reject the consensus account.” Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the CWM who report that they know the most about climate science are the most likely to reject the evidence and scientific findings that show human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are profoundly affecting the climate?

4 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 12:07pm

Doug Percival

I believe Julia is correct and that David Roberts’ article is incorrect on that point. If I recall correctly, both studies found that “conservatives” who SELF-REPORTED that they knew a lot about climate science were more likely to reject it. This is not at all surprising if you’ve observed such people online. They may know a little — but they THINK they know more than all the climate scientists in the world. These are the people who say things like “It’s solar cycles” as though climate scientists have never considered that possibility. Moreover, much of what these “knowledgeable” people THINK they know, is in fact falsehoods fed to them by denialist websites and such.

7 · Like · Reply · August 13 at 2:20pm

Leif Erik Knutsen · Top Commenter · Friends with Joseph Romm

Fossil fuels enrich the already rich, renewable energy enriches the rest of us.

How much taxes do EXXON et al pay? What % of the cost of cleaning Nuclear meltdowns? Polluted Gulf of Mexico? Climatic Disruption? Acidified Oceans? Fracked ground water systems? Dessicated farms? Who is holding the bag here?

Come on CWM, at least a few of you pay taxes! You at least act like you do. That is big piles of your money that should be supporting your community…

4 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 11:09am

Anthony William O’brien · Perth, Western Australia

We do not just want action, but effective action. And soon.
There is such resistance to even the no cost options. For example white roofs in a hot climate will save heaps on air conditioning, but what do we see on most new houses; black roofs.

Living roofs would be better.

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 6:55pm

Wim Prange

Attacking it’s machismo by being more ‘manly’ than them?

On fora, I’m usually the typical lefty trying to convince the right with ‘elitist’ facts in a patient manner. It’s sometimes dripping with sarcasm but that’s usually not noticed. Usually I end up having back and forth debates were nobody ‘wins’ and their posts dripping with insults.

A couple of weeks ago, a topic came up on a dutch blog which made me angry. My reaction was full of anger and I used ‘their’ language where I managed to portray them as indecisive and one of their solutions as inherently ‘feminine’. They hated that reply – witnessing from the ‘votes’ it got – but nobody dared touch the subject. Nobody. There was no back and forth debate, just silence.

I ultimately think it’s cavemannish machismo. They thought they ruled the earth and could conquer it. Climate Change threatens that.

10 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 11:00am

Wim Prange

I’m going to try a new tactic. Portraying them as old chatterboxes who think they can ignore problems by just more chatter, or believe they can solve structural problems by redecorating, plastering it over with a lick of paint instead of taking the bull by the horns

5 · Like · Reply · August 13 at 11:31am

John McCormick · Top Commenter

Wim, great comments. Go up to George Ennis’s great comment. Short of being sensored, I see value in attacking these CWM and all deniers where it will really hurt.

Like · Reply · August 13 at 11:45am

  • taylorbarke (signed in using Yahoo)

That’s rather unfair to cavemen, don’t you think? I mean, they lived for hundreds of thousands of years without causing AGW didn’t they?
So try this, it’s not caveman machismo, it’s Christian arrogance and selfishness.

4 · Like · Reply · August 13 at 11:57am

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Geo Hernandez · Top Commenter · Los Angeles, California

My strategy doesn’t work to convince anyone but it sure irritates the heck out of them. That seems to make them dysfunctional due to fuming anger.

It’s a combination of facts and reasoning smothered with a very heavy coating of witty sarcasm. Believe it or not, they get so angry that it stupefies them even more than usual.

I’m proud to say that I’ve been excommunicated from WUWT about 4 times. Now I can’t get in no matter how often I change my IP and e-mail. Oddly though my commentary box, m after my last execution, actually appears but with my comment snipped. It seems that they are filtering anything out from my area but checking it out just to see if it’s somebody else that happens to live in my neighborhood.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 4:56am

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Enjoyed reading this. A very powerful strategy is to target the ones influencing the lower tiers.

Also to apply peer pressure where possible showing them where icons they respect have accepted the consensus and are prepared to voice their concern.

What we see now in the US reminds me of my impression of what Germany was like before the war. It also seems to be driven by the same circumstances… life not living up to expectations and a future of no consequence.

Thing do not look good considering we have arrived at peak oil without an alternative and have effectively ignored GW for the last 20yrs.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 1:38pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

http://climatecrocks.com/2011/07/18/confessions-of-a-climate-change-convert/

Like · Reply · August 13 at 9:31pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

http://climatecrocks.com/2011/08/12/the-weekend-wonk-brought-to-life-by-a-spear-in-the-chest/

Ray C. Anderson was chairman and chief executive of the world’s largest carpet-tile manufacturer when he read a book that described people like him as thieves and plunderers of the planet. He saw the author’s point. He even wept. Then he set out to change things.

Like · Reply · August 13 at 9:34pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Revolutionary wind energy design… unit prices due to tumble… everyone will have a windmill now….

Japanese Wind Design can Triple Output.
http://tinyurl.com/3nzmjyn

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 7:39pm

Mary T. Hynes · Works at TDSB

It’s really doesn’t matter on the ground whether climate change is real. We’re f**ng up the environment with our collective and individual need for “progress”, i.e. more, newer and “better” technology. Technology comes with built in obsolescence and we’re constantly told there’s “better living through chemistry”. As long as we constantly need new toys and can’t fix the ones we have, as long as we want the things we consume (including food) to be bigger and shinier, we’re doomed.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 12:51pm

Geo Hernandez · Top Commenter · Los Angeles, California

It really won’t make a difference that Global Warming will one day sledgehammer the petrified brains of Deniers.

I predicted this before, on this site. The only thing worse than a Conservative, who doesn’t believe in Global Warming, is a Conservative who does. It is easy to imagine the Proles of the Denier ranks switching to “Natural” Global Warming as well as Geo-engineering as the “solution”.

We have to realize when dealing with anyone who is in denial of ANY issue, personal or political, what their core psychology is.
…See More

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 16 at 2:37am

Marcie Shimamoto · English Teacher at Centauri High School

An axiom among high school English teachers: the solution to bad speech (i.e. Hitler, CWMs, and many things said by semi-literate adolescents) isn’t censorship, but more and better speech. David Roberts has it right–more intensity, more facts and logic will eventually prevail. Of some consolation is the recent psychological finding that once 10 percent of a population believes something, the other 90 percent will eventually agree with that leading 10 percent. Time is critical, though. We should address our efforts toward reasonable people–NOT CWMs whose stance on climate change is determined by their paychecks. Women, being more focused on the future as a consequence of bearing children, may be more amenable to clear, intense, data-driven information. Arguing with CWMs is futile.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 16 at 3:47pm

Joan Savage · Top Commenter · SUNY-ESF

This should not be about one minority tackling another (privileged, entrenched, funded) minority. We have to remember that the majority understands that climate change is happening, though maybe not all its the big-muscle dynamic components, such as ocean heat storage or vulnerable methane clathrates.
The majority is not mobilized as yet, with or without government cooperation.

“”Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”- Malcolm X.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 10:44am

Jeffrey Davis · Top Commenter

The best strategy is to mock them as political hacks. Nothing they’ve say addresses the fact — observable to all — that we continue to warm. And we do nothing to ameliorate that because of them.

On the rhetorical level, we could postulate a unit of suffering. (I prefer the lindzen.) The unit is the number of Jews killed by Nazis. 6 milliion dead = 1 lindzen. If we do nothing, the suffering will be in the hundreds of lindzens. Possibly thousands. All so the fatuous and wealthy won’t have to change.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 9:30am

Jay Branscomb · American University

more takes from the ‘alien’ scenario…

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 16 at 6:11pm

Peter S. Mizla · Top Commenter · Vernon, Connecticut

Rick Perry is running for President.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 12:31pm

Thomas Jamison · Top Commenter

Personally, I hope he wins. If Obama wins, we can expect four more years of doing next to nothing on climate, followed by another 8 years of a Republican president starting in 2017. So the climate would have to wait until 2025 to have another chance of a climate friendly administration.

If Obama loses, we have a good shot at getting a climate friendly president starting in 2017. Republican economic policies, whether practiced by Obama or a true Republican, will surely make the economy worse, so we should expect any incumbent running in 2016 to lose.

1 · Like · Reply · August 15 at 6:40am

Devin Emery · Top Commenter · Ursuline College

I wonder if the best strategy to deal with denialists is to simply… ignore them? Perhaps arguing with them is only adding more fuel to their fire. If we ignore them, strip them of all credibility, then maybe they’ll shut up?

Of course, we need to stop LISTENING to denialist politicians in Washington, first. Stop giving them TV time and take the spotlight away from them. When they mention that global warming is a hoax, just walk way. These people only have power when we listen to them and treat their views as credible scientific opinions.

It’s far too frustrating and energy-consuming to argue to with climate change denialists. Our efforts could be better focused where it really matters, and to let the denialists rot in their holes while we address the real problem.

Speaking as a Canadian, with a government twisted enough already – America needs some SERIOUS electoral reform to actually ACCOMPLISH something.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 16 at 3:10pm

Japhet Koteen · Seattle, Washington

I would encourage (always) disaggregation of the opposing side. Naming and identifying a group as the opponents in a fight is great for dialectic entrenchment, but not so great for collective action for the benefit of all.

The “right wing” is a fairly diverse group, with a whole range of issues that matter to them. It only appears that they are unified because the messaging has been very effective and looks monolithic from an outsiders perspective. Dig into the movement and you will find plenty of diverse reasons why people call themselves “conservatives.”

I think talking about economic impacts of ocean acidification and loss of trillions of dollars of business for large companies, the tragedy of 100 year floods every other year, etc., makes more sense that talking about climate destabilization as a general category of impact. Just sayin’

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 16 at 2:19pm

David Stockbridge Smith · Top Commenter · Apex, North Carolina

Absolutely, 1) stop communicating with the plunderer/deniers for the purpose of convincing them of the rightness of your cause and to change their minds. They won’t. Interact only to identify their weakness and gain knowledge of their strategy and technique. 2) Make thoughtful and effective use of intelligence gained.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 16 at 11:44am

minority.report56 (signed in using Yahoo)

I don’t buy the premise of the Cool Dudes paper.

That paper is all about winning a debate.

Who cares about winning a debate when there is work to be done.
…See More

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 11:26pm

Barry Saxifrage · Top Commenter

Great article Mr. Roberts. Very helpful to those that struggle to move climate action along.

I do think you left out one very effective weapon: satire. Expose their thunderous certainty for what it is: buffoonery. Making fun of tyrant tantrums is an age old effective tool if done well. Brecht, Kafka, Stewart, Colbert, Toles. I notice even the Horsey comic at the top of your post here is a great example of satire. Climate denial at this point is just plain ridiculous.

Joe Romm often does a good job of highlighting how silly the deniers are.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 1:52am

stevegeneral999 (signed in using Yahoo)

x %….. already agree, so don’t waste time.
y %….. will never agree, so don’t waste time.

Find the folks in the middle, and talk to them. Show them how YOU spend YOUR money and time to reduce your carbon footprint.

For myself, in the USA, going further than that seems sort of pointless if the president won’t talk about it. So instead I talk about needing a different president.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 9:21pm

Andy Olsen · Madison, Wisconsin

Thanks for saying this, David! I agree wholeheartedly and am pretty tired of the environmental movement constantly running away in this fight.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 16 at 2:57pm

Thomas Jamison · Top Commenter

Well, these people are wrong, they live inside an alternative reality bubble built on lies, practically everything they believe in is wrong, all of their arguments are easily demolished, and people are already suffering the consequences of their foolishness. Did I miss anything?

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 5:17am

Thomas Jamison · Top Commenter

I also like the technique I call “Argue with the CO2 molecules”. Those pesky CO2 absorb infrared heat, which can be very easily demonstrated as shown in this video: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8394168.stm

Those CO2 molecules don’t care if who you are, CWM or any other variety of human. They don’t care how much you hate science, scientists, liberals, government, taxes, Al Gore, Obama, or anything else. They will simply go on absorbing infrared heat radiation regardless. Things that absorb heat get warmer. Putting CO2 into the atmosphere makes the atmosphere get warmer. You can’t argue that. It is a basic physical property.

Very few have any argument against that, and those that do look extremely foolish or wacky. They either have to say:
1) Yes, CO2 causes warming, but not that much. My reply is ok, so now you are accepting warming, just unsure how much. We are pretty close to agreement now. They hate that.
2) But CO2 in the atmosphere does not behave as it does in the lab. First, there is absolutely no evidence of this, nor is there even the faintest hint of a theoretical basis for making such a claim. Since it denies even the most basic of physics, that is a wacko statement.

Like · Reply · August 14 at 9:58am

oflibertysons (signed in using Yahoo)

Coming at these people through psychology is a long, slow process.

By the time we figure them and their particular distortions out, Mother Nature will have her say.

She will bring down her hammer on them – and all of us – settling the dispute for tens of thousands of years.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 5:43pm

John Mason

Satire is certainly one method that satisfies its author, even if it doesn’t actually progress things beyond giving a few folk a chuckle! But carefully refuting blindingly stupid online gish-gallops often simply results in more gish-gallops from the self-same people – making doing so potentially a big waste of time. There are endless online discussions out there complete with links to good solid information that anybody curious and undecided can follow – it is these people who can benefit in improving their understanding of the science. I have come to the conclusion that hardcore deniers have no interest in following up the science itself: not because they are necessarily incapable of understanding it but because if it challenges their worldview (which automatically comes first) then automatic rejection is the instant response.

Cheers – John

1 · Like · Reply · August 14 at 10:09pm

me (signed in using Yahoo)

It surely is fun having one’s comments removed. Weird! It was pretty moderate compared to some that made it through but perhaps my complaint about the denier tactic of making commenters look evil and part of the problem?
(Susan Anderson)

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 4:22pm

  • charlesnathansiegel (signed in using Yahoo)

I think they get removed because of weird bugs in this commenting system. Half the time, it doesn’t post my comment. The other half, it posts the comment but it disappears the next day.

Like · Reply · August 14 at 9:45pm

Joan Savage · Top Commenter · SUNY-ESF

What I thought was a disappeared comment showed up in a day or so, go figure.

Like · Reply · August 15 at 10:37am

Ned Moseley · Top Commenter · Works at Boston University Medical Center

Well, y’know… after all that money we wasted on stimulus, I don’t think climate control is really an option… especially considering China’s use of coal, what are we going to do, go tell China to stop using coal? LOL. They OWN us (quite literally).

I think pretty soon, what with the European financials collapsing, we’ll be happy to have any oil to burn at ALL.

You “progressives” are the biggest deniers of all.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 2:26pm

John Tucker · Top Commenter · Tulane University

I don’t know. It gets me when people that should know better think that a reasonable path will spontaneously occur from nothing. With no groundwork laid.

No attempt has been made to establish a appreciation for the absolute necessity of a logical framework for discussion making based in a constructive discourse. That’s the failure. We all know that’s the problem. Unfortunately feelings, beliefs and prejudices still decide collective policy.

To be honest I just let go of a lot of it. We lost this. Cutting to the chase, if what has occurred so far is the rule, what you will be judged on by future generations is your correctness, your proximity to truth. Not your persuasive ability. In the end it wont matter what title you held, how rich you are, or how many ascribed to your views;’ what will matter is where you where you actually…See More

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 14 at 4:24am

Dan Satterfield

I think George Ennis hit the nail on the head. Racists in the South (and elsewhere) still exist in large numbers but they say little because they are isolated socially and politically. Thankfully one can see the beginning of the same among the most rabid deniers of science like climate/evolution etc.

I’ve worked around TV newsrooms for 30 years and the usual response to the ‘nutter’ letters and emails is to ignore them. I’ve had letters accusing me of murdering thunderstorms with radar energy even! Telling these folks they are nuts and should examine their belief system is doing them a favour imho. Saying nothing adds to their conspiratorial mind set.

In short, tell them their ability to reason is seriously hampered and they need to talk to someone who is not having the same issue! I’m not saying people with differing political/scientific opinions are in this group, just those who cannot accept overwhelming evidence without marginalising it to fit into their narrow worldview.

In short, laugh at them.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 8:55pm

Timothy Hanes · Top Commenter

I’ve tried this lately, with little success but I’ll try it again. Note the either implicit or explicit conspiracy theory needed for denialism that ALL climate scientists are engaged with Al Gore in an enviro-Marxist global hoax to take over the world economy. CWM’s have to believe a variety of this, and it should cause shame, if these people are capable of it, but I think all shame these people have is reserved for purely sexual matters.

Like · Reply · August 14 at 7:14pm

agres (signed in using Yahoo)

And to think that at one time CWM were core of science and engineering. CWM invented Yankee ingenuity and all the world looked to the practical l knowledge of Yankees.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 13 at 5:25pm

David Stockbridge Smith · Top Commenter · Apex, North Carolina

I think they were white males, but not conservative in the modern sense.

Like · Reply · August 13 at 6:21pm

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