The reason for the polarization of the global warming issue

Via The Corner, something I always knew deep down, but never had succinctly coalesced into a single paragraph.

In 1999, Cass Sunstein wrote an article in the Harvard Law Review entitled “The Law of Group Polarization.” Its thesis was simple: 

In a striking empirical regularity, deliberation tends to move groups, and the individuals who compose them, toward a more extreme point in the direction indicated by their own predeliberation judgments. For example, people who are opposed to the minimum wage are likely, after talking to each other, to be still more opposed; people who tend to support gun control are likely, after discussion, to support gun control with considerable enthusiasm; people who believe that global warming is a serious problem are likely, after discussion, to insist on severe measures to prevent global warming. This general phenomenon — group polarization – has many implications for economic, political, and legal institutions. It helps to explain extremism, “radicalization,” cultural shifts, and the behavior of political parties and religious organizations; it is closely connected to current concerns about the consequences of the Internet; it also helps account for feuds, ethnic antagonism, and tribalism.

I suppose this explains why extreme measures such as erecting thousands of expensive and sometimes operating windmills that blight the landscape, are often attractive to the global warming movement.

Wind farm at Tehachapi, CA

Imagine the howling if somebody wanted thousands of natural gas well derricks on the same plot of land in California, yet they would produce far more energy and help far more people, at a lower cost.

Aerial view of Jonah field, May 12, 2006
Oblique low-altitude aerial photo of wellpads, access roads, pipeline corridors and other natural-gas infrastructure in the Jonah Field of western Wyoming’s upper Green River valley. Photographer: Bruce Gordon, EcoFlight – Image via Flickr

 

 

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177 thoughts on “The reason for the polarization of the global warming issue

  1. Group think has no space for skepticism…
    We see that over the next few weeks if Arctic ice falls below certain levels. No allowance will be given for the fact that it is being measured using different systems to last year or that unusual weather systems have been in operation this year. Nor will the Warmists note that all of the melt will freeze again (as they didn’t for Greenland recently) and of course they will completely ignore the increase in ice in the Antarctic. Warmist group think allows for nothing that challenges their belief, and they will shout all the louder as the moment of dissonance gets closer. If it wasn’t costing a fortune in lost jobs and futures I would feel sorry for them, instead I have nothing but disdain.

  2. Very true. Unfortunately some people use this phenomenon to manipulate people. It’s called “community organizing”.

    Identify an issue most people will agree on (e.g. something small and local, problems with garbage collection, anything).
    Organize a group to discuss it.
    The group must not fix the problem themselves.
    Steer them towards lobbying the authorities to do it, with protests etc.
    If they force action from the authorities the group feels empowered and bonds.
    Now you’re ready to steer them towards other issues -issues which many members would not have cared about before joining the group.
    Keep control of the group. Isolate any members that strongly oppose your take on the new issues or don’t show sufficient signs of groupthink. Have some members shout them down, encourage them to leave the group.

    Use these tactics on grassroots and you can start a prairie fire.

  3. Hmmm. What about us who fully believed in global warming that we went looking for more information and ended up switching sides? The theory in the paragraph necessitates that people only chat with those that reinforce their notions does it not?

    John M Reynolds

  4. It’s getting so bad, that even in non-climate forums I’m getting banned for even mentioning the topic in Australia.

  5. Quite right, Anthony, and those windmills look like something out of a SF/horror movie – ugh!

    As well as self-reinforcing groups, also look to extremist statements or representations from members of one group pushing people the other way. For example, how many sceptics started on their personal journey towards scepticism by having the ludicrous hockey stick held up as brilliant science, rather than held up to ridicule? If little alarm bells go off inside someone’s head, they start checking the facts, and – voila! – another sceptic.

  6. Yup. That’s why deniers should read some of the actual research reports, instead of simply believing Fox.

    REPLY – Do you really think we have not “read some of the actual research reports”? ~ Evan

  7. Bruce Atwood says:
    August 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm
    And there you have the main reason for polarization right there.

  8. The problem with this thought process is this. Most people are sheep, they are followers, they are lead about by whatever they are told, by whomever tells them, without ever questioning the validity of what they are being told.

  9. Published in the Journal of Political Philosophy, 2002.

    A take-home lesson from the end of the article: “One of the most important lessons is among the most general: It is desirable to create spaces for enclave deliberation without insulating enclave members from those with opposing views, and without insulating those outside of the enclave from the views of those within it.

    In that light, look at for what the AGW extremists strive: First, they consistently attempt to insulate AGW enclave members from opposing views. They go about this by excluding opposing views from journals and the press, and by pervasive evasion of opposition by recourse to in-group reviewers.

    Second, and at the same time, rather than insulating those outside from their views, they work to insulate the large population outside their enclave — namely the general public — from any views except those inside their enclave, i.e., from the views of anyone but themselves.

    Sunstein doesn’t talk about this latter strategy as one of extremist enclaves, but the two together seem to me the road a committed minority commonly takes to achieve tyranny.

  10. Is that picture ever UGLY! Reminds me of what Spindletop used to look like back in 1901. Nowadays, it doesn’t take that many oil or gas wells to produce the energy, because of the technological changes in methods of extraction. Not only do you not need a lot of derricks, the few “derricks,” i.e. wells, you need still outproduce wind energy by leaps and bounds.

  11. cui bono says:
    August 18, 2012 at 6:44 pm
    Quite right, Anthony, and those windmills look like something out of a SF/horror movie – ugh!

    We could use that to our advantage. Instead of an adorable little clown fish, we could have a cartoon sparrow, bobbing and weaving, through the propeller field. Will he make it through alive?

    A message so simple even a child will understand.

  12. How’s this. Frodo and Sam are making their escape from the volcano of Mordor on the backs of a mighty eagle…

    Then THWACK.

  13. David Ross says: “Very true. Unfortunately some people use this phenomenon to manipulate people. It’s called “community organizing”.”

    And “consciousness raising.”

  14. Bruce: “Yup. That’s why deniers should read some of the actual research reports, instead of simply believing Fox.”

    That’s right. You don’t have to watch Deliverance to know that the Appalachian kid beat the City Slicker at ‘Dueling Banjos’ since you already know the City Slicker was playing a guitar. And what fool would do that, I ask?

  15. Bruce Atwood: I find it interesting that you use the term “denier”. Surely you realize the irony of using a polarization term in a posting on polarization?

    Regardless, my database, as of today, contains 1635 references, mostly to globally warming, mostly that dispute some tenet of CAGW, and mostly peer reviewed.

    Oddly, in spite of your assertion, exactly zero of my references are from Fox.

  16. The windmills reminded me of Signal Hill when I was little. Chavez Ravine to a lesser degree.

    The Sunstein-Alinsky-Cloward&Piven-Soros connection has been obvious to me for a long time.

  17. Ah Tim, I saw you on the programme organized by the ABC. I wished that you had stuck to your guns a little more. The show was about “People changing their minds.” The subtext was that “people with crazy ideas can possibly be reached by the enlightened.”
    From Global Warming to Climate Change to “any extreme weather event can be blamed on coal” the zealots in this argument cannot be influenced because they shift their goalposts whenever the game looks like going against them.

    Tim, in spite of whatever criticism you receive, know that you are well respected generally and whenever you voice your opinions it adds to the level of disbelief in Australia.

  18. I disagree that this applies across the board to the climate debate. Yes, groups tend to polarize, but is that what we see happening in the climate debate? I submit that it only half applies.

    The alarmists are, in fact, pretty much unified in their viewpoint. Dissent in the official literature (journals, etc) is actively squelched as is are opposing voices in open access forums such as blogs. That’s pretty much the polarization and groupthink that the article describes. But is that true of the skeptic community?

    Certainly there are skeptic blogs which are just as much echo chambers as warmist forums. But tsake a look at the blog roll on the WUWT sidebar. There’s categories for lukewarmists, skeptics, amd transcendental rants. On this site I’ve seen raging debates with skeptics who range from the “visible light can’t heat anything” to the opinions of world reknown physicists, engineers and statisticians.

    The hottest debates on this site aren’t between warmists and skeptics, they are between skeptics and other skeptics! This can site can hardly be called an echo chamber. As for the audience here being polarized, I defy anyone to come up with a description of a point of view that represents the majority here.

  19. “A gathering of scientific men or of artists, owning to the mere fact that they form an assemblage, will not deliver judgments of general subjects sensibly different from those rendered by a gathering of masons or grocers.” – Gustave le Bon (“The Crowd” 1895)

    “All the sick and sickly instinctively strive after a herd organization as a means of shaking off their dull displeasure and feeling of weakness…. The strong are as naturally inclined to separate as the weak are to congregate; if the former unite together, it is only with the aim of an aggressive collective action and collective satisfaction of their will to power, and with much resistance from the individual conscience; the latter, on the contrary, enjoy precisely this coming together – their instinct is just as much satisfied by this as the instinct of the born “masters” (that is, the solitary, beast-of-pray species of man) is fundamentally irritated and disquieted by organization.” – Frederich Nietzsche (“On the Geneology of Morals” 1887)

    “If you decide to wage a war for the total triumph of your individuality, you must begin by inexorably destroying those who have the greatest affinity with you. All alliance depersonalizes; everything that tends to the collective is your death; use the collective, therefore, as an experiment, after which strike hard, and remain alone!” – Salvador Dali (“The Secret Life of Salvador Dali” 1942)

  20. Hummm, it is about Agenda 21 in the end, no?

    The Montreal protocol set a precedent of opportunity and control.

    The Kyoto protocol made it intrusive and hence, questioned.

    What is the root of such desire for control that drives science to such an inverted pyramid of attempted pre-construction ?

    Has anyone actually really read agenda 21 ?

    I did……..

    http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/

  21. It would be amiss to not note that there are always two extremes: some say the world is doomed; some say CO2 is ineffectual. Both have their conspiracy theories.

    We’d like to think that a site like this is where the more tempered, rational discourse happens, but an honest reflection should acknowledge that extreme positions may arise here too. Most regulars will know that they do.

  22. beesaman says:
    August 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Group think has no space for skepticism…
    We see that over the next few weeks if Arctic ice falls below certain levels. No allowance will be given for the fact that it is being measured using different systems to last year or that unusual weather systems have been in operation this year. Nor will the Warmists note that all of the melt will freeze again (as they didn’t for Greenland recently) and of course they will completely ignore the increase in ice in the Antarctic.

    Or soot.

  23. Of course, being driven by a political agenda, a long-term plan, crony capitalism, and billions of dollars stolen from the people does not blunt the “belief” in the warmist position. Then, you have the fact that they have invested so much of their reputation and integrity in their position, they psychologically cannot admit that they are wrong and basically been lying for a living to the public.

    Those who work in the UK’s NHS have the same investment. On one hand, they know that providing healthcare to everybody is noble and on the other, they know that it really is failing its goals, being the worst healthcare in the developed world. They gallantly want to fix it, but all fixes fail, but they are still thinking of themselves as noble and cannot admit it’s a total failure and should be abandoned.

  24. Tim Minchin says:
    August 18, 2012 at 7:03 pm
    why is Atwood allowed to troll?

    Because we all need someone to laugh at. Laughter is good !!!

    Isn’t that the sole purpose of warmist trolls? to inject a sense of idiocy and stupidity.. and give us someone to laugh at ?

  25. davidmhoffer says
    ” I defy anyone to come up with a description of a point of view that represents the majority here.”

    Those that remain unconvinced that a doubling of CO2 necessarily results in global scale catastrophe.

  26. @davidmhoffer says:
    August 18, 2012 at 7:49 pm
    .“[...] As for the audience here being polarized, I defy anyone to come up with a description of a point of view that represents the majority here.”,

    The majority here like WUWT ;o)

  27. @davidmhoffer: The majority here like that the data is presented to the best of the article writer’s abilities and strong presentation of real world data contradicting a position leads to a correction of conclusion rather than a banning of a poster. I think that is a point of view shared across the board here.

  28. OK – so we know that groupthink produces positive feedback, reinforcing the natural direction of travel of the group (Matt Ridley’s essay gave plenty of examples in Anthony’s earlier thread “Apocalypse Not: I love the smell of skepticism in the morning”).

    But are there any known findings on lapse rates – the half-life (rate of dissipation) of this kind of falsely produced groupthink? That would be really interesting too …

  29. Group polarization is enhanced by how many become almost living in a different reality, from their very sources of news and info drastically differing. The mechanic with cults is similar: most members surround themselves with others of like mind, reinforcing their own views, steering away from and rarely even exposed to what would cause painful cognitive dissonance. Terms like deniers for the infidels serve a role, to help expel opponents or even true moderates.

    I once watched a forum go from being relatively decent to finally a extremist-dominated caricature of itself over a period of a few years. Several posters who had practically unlimited spare time (with more than a hundred times the postcount of the average casual and thus disproportionately dominant) would actively and deliberately aim to punish and drive away anyone pointing out and defending a politically incorrect truth, by ensuring that doing so meant burning too much time in a multi-day continuous argument until the no-lifers had the last word by sheer repetition, whereas dishonest views on the opposite side were cheered.

    Ideological tribalism is discussed well at Dr. McCarthy’s Sustainability of Human Progress site:

    I get some very quick reactions to my main page on the sustainability of material progress. Quick reactions, whether favorable or unfavorable, cannot be based on reading the 50 or so pages. They are reactions to my attitude, which is apparent in the first paragraph. [...]

    Let’s try to get above the battles for a while and look at human ideologies from a Martian point of view. [...]

    People’s attitudes on these 10 issues tend to be strongly correlated, although logically there should be little connection between a person’s attitude to abortion and his attitude to multi-culturalism.

    (Much more is at http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/ideology.html ).

    Unlike more numerous casuals who rarely argue on the topic and often barely follow it, the small elite of the CAGW movement with much time invested tends to have been somewhat exposed to skeptical counterarguments sooner or later. But the elite is predominately immune to rational argument on climate because, despite pretenses, their motives often have little to do with the nominal climate topic alone.

    Dr. Mann has explicitly referenced how Ehrlich is his hero. Ehrlich was opposed to the Green Revolution in agriculture, in the 1970s predicted mass starvation in industrialized countries by the year 2000, and illustrated his opposition to inexpensive energy in general by saying “giving society cheap abundant energy at this point would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”

    Although an oversimplification in labeling (albeit probably deliberately made blunt enough to be memorable), Dr. Zubrin of Mars Society fame has written a good book on the “global antihuman cult.” Without a positive vision of the future such as the 1950s goal of advancement towards space colonization (which could still occur by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StarTram or a couple other approaches), a negative vision is substituted in its place, believing stagnation and decline in material and energy terms to be inevitable and/or desirable.

    http://merchantsofdespair.net/book.htm

    With that said, anything so numerous and influential can not really be called a cult but rather a major enviroreligion, part penitential of human sins against animals and part letting its members feel self-righteous, while not one emphasizing honesty as an aspect of its saints or heroes; a significant portion of those leaving traditional Judeo-Christian religions have dropped into it.

  30. What’s even more infuriating is the phenomenon of ‘belief packages’…i.e. the tendency for individuals to hold a number of associated ‘beliefs’ which of course is the foundation of all political parties. I always try to make balanced judgements on the issue in question rather than towing some party line, which on some occasions puts me to the ‘left of Bakunin’ and on others, to the ‘right’ of Ghengis Khan!

  31. I think y’all may be missing the point.

    This whole thing can be summarized in “Never let an opportunity go to waste”.

    It is as simple as that.

    The controllers here are not interested in the science, the skepticism or any of the rest of it.

    They are interested in the turmoil, and the opportunities to take control of society.

    Arguments from science are a waste of time.

  32. In the context of my prior comment, I might add that, if one wanted to find someone who could be convinced by rational argument and is honest but merely misled into believing in CAGW, find someone who is pro-geoengineering in its context*, pro-nuclear, technophilic, and for the advancement of industrial civilization including space colonization, while not belonging to a political party (or source of income) which would be weakened if CAGW was exposed as false.

    Unsurprisingly, though, one does not often see someone like that who is not already a skeptic.

    * (Geoengineering cooler temperatures is undesirable in reality, but, if CAGW dooming the world by extreme heat was actually true instead of false, it would beat burning orders of magnitude more money ineffectually except as religious penance; thus it is revealing whenever someone believes in CAGW doom — or wants others to believe in it — but yet simultaneously does not even want geoengineering to work).

  33. It explains why you use Distance-compressed shot of antique wind chargers to misreport the ones erected today.

  34. TimC says:
    August 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm
    But are there any known findings on lapse rates – the half-life (rate of dissipation) of this kind of falsely produced groupthink? That would be really interesting too …

    A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
    — Max Planck

  35. It is called preaching to the choir. Something “true believers” do very well. If I recall most of this was identified and discussed by Eric Hoffer about 50 years ago.

  36. DaveA says, “It would be amiss to not note that there are always two extremes: some say the world is doomed; some say CO2 is ineffectual.”

    Do you think those are the two “extremes,” DaveA? Really? Then, where does that leave those of us who think that additional atmospheric CO2 is not merely ineffectual, but beneficial? If “CO2 is ineffectual” is the extreme right end of the spectrum of opinion, what do you make of the more than 30,000 scientists (and engineers in relevant disciplines) whose stated views are beyond the extreme-right end of that spectrum of opinion?

    I don’t think I’m an extremist on climate issues. I’m a “lukewarm-ist.” I do think that it’s warmer now than it was in the 1700s, and I do think human activity affects climate, so If I’d taken the Zimmerman/Doran survey, I’d have been counted among the 97.5% whom Doran characterized as agreeing with what he called “the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.”

    Here’s another reason for polarization: propaganda. If one side has a disproportionately large ability to propagandize for their point of view, then the opinions of large numbers of people may thereby be caused to diverge further and further from evidence-based reality. That’s what’s happening in climatology. The Left is using the authority of the state to relentlessly propagandize for climate alarmism by every means possible, from the endless stream of climate alarmism on PBS, to (most destructively!) the intensive indoctrination of children through government-run schools; e.g.:

    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-08-15/features/bs-gr-climate-change-teaching-20120815_1_climate-change-climate-change-bill-reinhard

    Dave

  37. “higley7 says:
    August 18, 2012 at 8:16 pm
    Of course, being driven by a political agenda, a long-term plan, crony capitalism, and billions of dollars stolen from the people does not blunt the “belief” in the warmist position. Then, you have the fact that they have invested so much of their reputation and integrity in their position, they psychologically cannot admit that they are wrong and basically been lying for a living to the public.

    Those who work in the UK’s NHS have the same investment. On one hand, they know that providing healthcare to everybody is noble and on the other, they know that it really is failing its goals, being the worst healthcare in the developed world. They gallantly want to fix it, but all fixes fail, but they are still thinking of themselves as noble and cannot admit it’s a total failure and should be abandoned.”
    ======================================================================

    …but …but …but …. The olympics told me it was great!!!

  38. “””””…..Bruce Atwood says:

    August 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Yup. That’s why deniers should read some of the actual research reports, instead of simply believing Fox……”””””

    Who the hell is Fox ? I thought I had heard or read of virtually all of the big name players on both sides of the CO2 arthropogenicmanmadeglobalwarmingclimatechange discussion, and I never heard of anybody named Fox on any side of the issue. Where did he suddenly come from ?

    Why all of a sudden does WUWT want me to sign in every time now ?

  39. “We see that over the next few weeks if Arctic ice falls below certain levels. No allowance will be given for the fact that it is being measured using different systems to last year ”

    Could beesaman or someone give me more information on that please ?

  40. An excellent post by Henry Clark @ 8:58. The TLDR summary is: People prefer answers to questions. People that like producing answers dislike the people that produce questions.

  41. There is an asymmetry between liberal and conservative thinking, I find: conservatives tend to take the view that their viewpoint results from factual information and therefore needs to be learned, while liberals assume their views are somehow natural and innate. This not only absolves them from the need to do research in order to maintain or defend their views, it also allows them to regard anyone not sharing those views as ‘corrupted’ or ‘bought’. They are the Chosen Tribes, and all the others have fallen away. The parallels with fundamentalist religious beliefs are obvious.

  42. {
    AndyG55 says:
    August 18, 2012 at 8:18 pm
    Tim Minchin says:
    August 18, 2012 at 7:03 pm
    why is Atwood allowed to troll?

    Because we all need someone to laugh at. Laughter is good !!!

    Isn’t that the sole purpose of warmist trolls? to inject a sense of idiocy and stupidity.. and give us someone to laugh at ?
    }
    ——————————————————————————————————————–

    Yes laughter is good but there is a more important reason. It’s called FREEDOM. Freedom to speak your mind and be heard without fear of being destroyed. Exactly what Anthony and his moderators allow.

    To my mind tribalism WAS a very important phase in the evolution of the human race. It gave the group power to survive together where the individual would fail. Tribalism then evolved into various other forms of power structures which became even more effective at allowing communities to survive. The modern problem really started when armies became so powerful that they could destroy whole tribes or racial groups reaching the pinnacle of tyranny with the atomic bomb capable of destroying the whole human race!

    We have to find better ways to solve problems and move forward… I submit that one mechanism that allows this is called the Internet. Anthony et al are leading the way… and finding truth wherever possible is the imperative.

  43. Fundamentally, I think the idea can be related to optimization theory, where it is well established that a function which is defined on a closed set achieves its maximum or minimum either within the interior of the set, or on the boundary. Social interactions tend toward a stationary point. If there is no stationary point, no zero slope value to what I will call the group preference function within the closed set, then the group tends to the boundary.

    Well meaning people who think life would be peachy if they could just get rid of the political opposition should take this as precautionary. If you could eliminate the opposition, then the extremists within your own Party, who want to go much further to the extremes than you, would push everyone to those extremes in an ineluctable dynamic.

  44. This is related to Frayn’s Law (first mentioned in one of his early novels – The Tin Men perhaps).
    It states:-
    “The more that members of a group insist on their diffferences (“what bunch of real characters we are!”) the more similar they seem to outsiders.”

  45. Larry in Texas says:
    August 18, 2012 at 7:20 pm
    “Is that picture ever UGLY! Reminds me of what Spindletop used to look like back in 1901.”

    Here is Spindletop 1901 and 1903:

    http://www.priweb.org/ed/pgws/history/spindletop/spindletop.html

    There are some more pictures of early oil fields here: http://www.priweb.org/ed/pgws/history/pennsylvania/triumph_hill.html (1871)

    “Triumph Hill held the highest density of wells in the Oil Regions. In this photograph alone, more than 100 derricks can be counted. These wells produced hundreds-of-thousands of barrels of the purest oil in the region. This photograph is an excellent example of the overproduction of many fields in the area. Years later, it was discovered that putting wells too close together actually decreases the amount of oil that can be taken from the ground.”

  46. All the forgoing confirms that there is little evidence of polarisation here.
    Interesting thing is, this debate presents a huge opportunity for study by sociologists etc, but all that seems to appear is sycophantic rubbish about “deniers” and how to “enlighten” them.
    I guess, no research funding is available for anything else.
    Any consensus? (I know – another useful term that’s been corrupted.)
    “The majority here like WUWT ;o)”
    “Those that remain unconvinced that a doubling of CO2 necessarily results in global scale catastrophe.”
    “The majority here like that the data is presented to the best of the article writer’s abilities and strong presentation of real world data contradicting a position leads to a correction of conclusion rather than a banning of a poster.”
    Not bad for a start. There are also the ” … world reknown physicists, engineers and statisticians … ”
    Yep. Would be interesting to get an idea of the range of skills represented here. Others have said that over 100 scientific and technical disciplines are relevant to the study of “climate”.
    People ask me (usually with a sneer if they are believers): “Are you an [expert on climate][climate scientist]” etc. Not easy to answer, In my former workplace, it was common for me to be confronted with “They-told-me-to-ask-you-cos-you-know-everything”. Eg “expert” as someone who knows more than you do, and if they don’t know the answer they know where to find it.
    The answer I give to the climate question is something like “In what context? If the context is “climate” then – “no”. If the context is eg Mr/Ms XXX currently advising the government on climate matters, then the answer is “yes”.

  47. daveburton, just quickly:

    “Do you think those are the two “extremes,” DaveA? Really?”

    No, but I did choose what I thought might be common viewpoints of those who sit at the extremes, to illustrate the point.

    “…not merely ineffectual, but beneficial?”

    The term effecutal is not qualitative i.e. doesn’t imply good or bad. If you think it is beneficial then you think it is effectual (effecting).

  48. Stephen Wilde says:
    August 18, 2012 at 11:01 pm
    “We see that over the next few weeks if Arctic ice falls below certain levels. No allowance will be given for the fact that it is being measured using different systems to last year ”

    Could beesaman or someone give me more information on that please ?

    Maybe he means that the JAXA satellite’s being down for months means that people have switched to using the NSIDC satellite for the chart most frequently referenced. That’s what happened at Intrade, for instance.

  49. I think this said it better…….. Birds of a feather, flock together.

    In essence that is all that paper says…. I agree with it. But we knew it already.

  50. Bruce Atwood says:
    August 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm
    Yup. That’s why deniers should read some of the actual research reports, instead of simply believing Fox.

    Hi Bruce, I’m in the UK so no Fox here. I ended up at WUWT after looking at the IPCC report in 2007, and the hockey stick, and hearing people blaming all global warming on carbon dioxide (and anthropogenic carbon dioxide at that) … my bullsh!tometer went off the scale.

    (I have a combined honours degree in geology and biology, by the way, in case you were thinking of characterising me as an ignorant sheep ;) )

  51. Hang in there, Tim Minchin. We cannot let the voices of the Closed Society win over Open Society and enlightenment values of free speech and rule of law for all.

  52. I’m going to assert the unpopular idea that the thesis is broken.

    It may well be true for many folks. Perhaps even most. But there is one kind of person for whom it is not true. People like me.

    I’m a “High functioning Aspe”. (Think ‘sort of a Sheldon from Big Bang Theory’ but without the ego crap.)

    I’m in the camp that started off believing in AGW and “wanted to learn more”; but the more I learned the more it was just “wrong”.

    While the typical person has a high social need strength and need for acceptance, I gave up on those long long ago. So I don’t care what my “peer group” has to say (and non-peers don’t even get to the question phase).

    “The truth just is. -E.M.Smith”.

    Due to that no amount of ‘pre conception’ nor any amount of ‘peer belief’ does squat. A proposition is either correct and demonstrable, or it is not.

    I suspect one will find many more of “my type” on the sceptic side and many more of the type described in the article on the AGW side (simply because those who care about what their ‘reference group’ thinks will have had more exposure to AGW peer pressure and succumbed.)

    Basically: I didn’t even KNOW there was a “sceptic” side when I decided AGW was bunk. Only later did I find WUWT and discover “I was not alone”… There was no group of folks with whom I had positive feedback. ( In fact, I started at a Warmer site and mostly got ridiculed for asking reasonable questions. Things like “If A is true then B can’t be true, and you say both are true. Isn’t that a problem?) I was just ‘seeking understanding’ and instead got abuse.

    But I’m used to having folks not like my opinions and don’t need any “other” to confirm them to “feel good”. So I clearly fall outside the paradigm of the article. So does an existence proof of one invalidate the thesis?….

    Oddly, it was someone tossing mud on the Warmer site ( before I had a clue who was whom ) who said something disparaging about a simple question and said I must be reading that WUWT crap that lead me to a web search that led me to this site. I figured if I had an idea that WUWT (whatever it was) had already explored I could likely be more efficient by reading the Q&A there and ‘catching up’… The rest, as they say, is history.

    I started doing A/B compares of points raised on each site type vs what I knew of science and reality. The “disconnect errors” started stacking up pretty fast on the AGW side. WUWT regularly presented both sides and a clear test of each… And I learned more here.

    So am I “polarized’? Not at all. Some things I accept, some I reject, in strong accord withe the scientific method. Nothing more. So I fully accept that we’ve warmed ( a lot ) from 1750. But reject that CO2 did it. I fully accept that thermometers show warming in the last 40 years. (But find most of it due to tarmac at airports and PDO phase) Why? Because someone talked at me? Nope. Because that is where the evidence leads. It ties up the most loose ends.

    This is in clear conflict with the article thesis…

    So “why?” comes to mind.

    It is possible that as an Aspe (even if marginal and ‘high function’) I’m just not ‘tuned in’ to the social cues and dynamics of The Crowd. That I’m just not a party to “Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds.” It’s also possible that I’m “just wrong” in how I’ve read the data ( though that is highly unlikely given the nature of high function Aspe folks). It’s also possible that I’m self delusional on the point (though the data argue otherwise….)

    In the end, I’d suggest that those NOT well trained in the Scientific Method; and those NOT of the Aspe sort, are much more vulnerable to the “social pressure” model of the article; but that many of us are not so afflicted. I’d also assert that more of “us” are on the Skeptic side precisely because we are less subject to the various coercions of “peer pressure” and propaganda and “attack the messenger” and …

    Maybe we’re just “broken” or “tone deaf” on those social issues. (Wouldn’t be the first time). Or maybe we’re just pig headed (not the first time there, either). But what’s clearly NOT the case is that someone nattering in my ear lead me to be “polarized’ due to some preconception. My ‘preconception’ was that global warming was real, well proven, and seriously needed addressing so I’d better study up. It was only later that I realized “things didn’t add up” and there were “issues” to sort out. (Then even later to realize that it was Big Issues and a whole lot of bunk, some of it peer reviewed.)

    Over the years I’ve seen several other folks post similar epiphany stories.

    So I reject the notion that where you end up is where you started, only more so. It simply isn’t true for me.

  53. Sreve says
    “It explains why you use Distance-compressed shot of antique wind chargers to misreport the ones erected today.”
    And probably also why warm mongers like yourself use shots of cooling towers with wisps of steam when they froth on about poisonous CO2.

  54. I think higley7 is much closer to the truth than Cass Sunstein.

    Then, you have the fact that they have invested so much of their reputation and integrity in their position, they psychologically cannot admit that they are wrong and basically been lying for a living to the public.

    Cass Sunstein has not been one of the people I have trusted to tell me the truth up to now. I’m reluctant (skeptical) to buy into his view of the world now. striking empirical regularity perhaps to him. Perchance that is the dynamic of the groups he hangs out with?

    Do you want a more succinct paragraph? “This is politics. That means Money, Power, Ego, and Sycophants for as long as we can keep the music playing and the opposition off-balance.”

  55. I disagree with Sunstein’s statement. And I disagree on the basis of considerable evidence from WUWT itself.

    Many if not most people here were, once, warmists. They didn’t polarize, they changed sides on closer perusal of the evidence.

    However. The element of truth in Sunstein is that most people hate to be seen to be wrong. Better to stick with a group that says “yes you are right” than think for oneself. Problem is, under challenge, extremists who really hate being “in the wrong” take the floor in the group more and more, and find more and more plausible arguments (vide Naomi Oreskes, Skeptical Science, “failed Pres” Al Gore), and middle-of-the-road lukewarmers find themselves drawn into the brownshirts’ web.

    I was once a warmist, but changed, on the basis of evidence – lost many friends but felt better inside myself. But since becoming a “climate skeptic” I’ve come to doubt even items that are generally held proven / sacrosanct here – like CO2 as even causing the supposed 33°C warming over black-grey-body temperature. Graeff showed me, with theory and evidence that knocks the socks off IPCC science, that it is gravity/pressure, plus sunshine – but that’s for another day.

  56. Henry Clark:

    With that said, anything so numerous and influential can not really be called a cult but rather a major enviroreligion, part penitential of human sins against animals and part letting its members feel self-righteous, while not one emphasizing honesty as an aspect of its saints or heroes; a significant portion of those leaving traditional Judeo-Christian religions have dropped into it.

    Precisely! It was Michael Chricton who pointed out that environmentalism is an exact remapping of Judeo-Christian concepts of sin, the Fall, salvation, redemption and the coming Apocalypse.

    I am also very wary of groupthink and the group dynamic. Most people are unaware that their beliefs are shaped largely by the group they identify with.

  57. The reality is very simple.

    Society in the West, particularly in the UK and US, is institutionalised jousting. Nothing can be done without adversarial activity, from the law courts to politics to sport (the only suitable place for it in the main) to educational theory to the best way to do agriculture to, of course, science and, in particular, climate science.

    The rules are that the winning side gets the spoils and the losers get nothing.

    As a result, it is strongly against anyone’s interests to change their viewpoint in any way because the other side use it to secure political and financial advantage.

    The other major reason is the media and the mechanisms of communication.

    There is not one single place in UK media where truthful, unbiased reporting takes place. The printed Press is in the main far right wing, with a couple of exceptions, whereas the TV is closer to the centre but referred to by the right wing press as liberal leftie claptrap, in particular the BBC. Where climate science is concerned, they have a point. Where sport is concerned, gambling heists and freebie tickets is actually the raison d’etre. That always appeared to me to be Wall Street-style mafioso criminality, but there we are.

    So imagine you are a young person who starts reading the Daily Telegraph each day, knowing little about quite how distorting and biased its coverage of everything is. Some of it converges with truth, much of it does not. But all of it has an overt drive to the glorification of tax avoiding very rich people.

    Imagine you take someone else who starts reading the Independent each day, knowing little about quite how distorting and biased its coverage of everything is. Some converges with truth, much of it does not. But all of it has an overt drive to say that the cause of all evil are white conservative men.

    Now you try and put the young person filled with climate nonsense up against the person who’s source of climate information is Christopher Booker. What you get is a girl who wants a horny, hunky football player to screw her being offered a bespectacled, somewhat wimpy nerd. Do you think she’ll stay with him for the night or will she look around the disco and latch onto what she fancies a bit more of??

    When you are young, you see, you have to take positions or become a schizophrenic. You can become Jesus or the Pope if you want, but you won’t have kids that way, the way we structured our societies. You have kids by being decisive and finding niches where you can be supported being decisive, even if what you believe in is a bit off with the fairies.

    Socialists go and work as aid workers to confirm their piety and how awful living in Africa is. The brash competitive right winger goes and trades derivatives, confirming to himself that gambling on a nation’s prosperity is what becoming rich is all about. You think that socialist would trade derivatives? The big swinging dick do charidee before they’re a multimillionaire?? Get real.

    Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is what you need to look at on a population basis.

    Until you have a generation not in need of validation, polarisation will continue to occur.

    If you ever got a generation who had 18 years of love, support, nurturing and encouragement, you’d find things would pan out different.

    I’m not holding my breath that it’ll happen any time soon though.

  58. I’m sure those oil fields in Texas and Alberta look just as attractive as the wind farms above.

    REPLY:
    Yes, but as one of our resident greens, you’d protest against the oil fields and not the wind farms, which is the point. Our next story may warm your heart. I’ll bet you’ll like it. – Anthony

  59. I would also add that the individuals who are more radical within such groups also tend to be promoted, making the groups more radical again. In other words, there is selection pressure amongst individuals within such groups which further increases group polarisation. This is a very widespread social phenomenon, and it isnt in the slightest related to scientific data or external reality.

    This is also a significant reason as to why e.g. dictators arise, they are the simply the more radical, internally selected, individuals of such group polarisation dynamics. And of course once the power structures have been established by the internally selected radicalisation, their subjects then tell them what they want to hear, in order to maintain their standing and to promote themselves within such group dynamics, increasing the trend towards more and more radicalisation. In the end you get megalomaniacs who think they can attack any country and always win, like Hilter, or the current North Korea regime (which has said it would beat the US in a war 100 times over). They tend towards a total departure of reality.

    Internally selected radicalisation shows up in many social circles; religious groups, political groups, scientific groups. Someone like Tim Fannery, the Australiam Climate commisioner, got the job not because he was smarter or more scientific than anyone else, but because he was more radical. Many moderates who are more correct, would not get the job.

    It is a tragedy in the human social condition, that the individuals who are more moderate, less extreme, and more insightful, often are filtered out of an internally self-reinforcing social process that tends to promote the more radical individuals over the more scientifically correct or those who simply have the more common sense.

    And this is also a reason that science and politics don’t mix very well, it is almost inevitable that at some point scientific ideas will be promoted to the forefront of human enquiry because it is more radical than another idea, but less true than another idea.

  60. TimC says:
    August 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    OK – so we know that groupthink produces positive feedback, reinforcing the natural direction of travel of the group (Matt Ridley’s essay gave plenty of examples in Anthony’s earlier thread “Apocalypse Not: I love the smell of skepticism in the morning”).

    But are there any known findings on lapse rates – the half-life (rate of dissipation) of this kind of falsely produced groupthink? That would be really interesting too …
    ************************************************************************************************************************
    Unfortunately there is no half life. Sure some leave, some become weaker but the majority find someone or something to blame or live in hope. It’s not until the tribe becomes extinct when the idea dies. If the tribe has been formed around an object then it is not until the object is destroyed then the tribe will die.
    As an example and I am sure many will not agree with this. In the bible, when Joshua entered Canaan, he and Israel were told to destroy ALL the people that lived there. If they had done as they were told they would have killed all the ideology of the existing peoples. However they left people groups around and those ideologies infected Israel.
    As another example of the opposite. Most people agree that English football fans are fairly tribal. Even if their team gets relegated many fans stay with that team. It is not until their team folds that the hardcore group (tribe) is dissipated. In other words the object of their tribalism has ended.
    Just a thought or two.

  61. A lot of this discussion ignores the fact that Truth is a reality, and continues to be True even if, for some reason, it becomes unpopular. It just sits there, staring people in the face, unable to back down because it is what it is: The Truth.

    One reason people put aside their own inner understandings is because they love others. We sacrifice, because those we love aren’t perfect, and we hope others sacrifice for us, because we know for sure we ourselves aren’t perfect. However Truth sits there, perfectly True.

    Everyone, in their quieter moments, has the capacity to compare their own imperfections with that which is perfectly True. Call it your conscience, if you will.

    If an individual or social group moves away from Truth things simply start to fall apart. If wind turbines are a dumb idea, then it becomes obvious. If corruption allocates money to cronies, and the cronies are a bad investment, then the pay-back is not profit. And so on and so forth, on all sorts of social levels, including even the level where loving-people-sacrifice-for-others-who-aren’t-perfect. Finally group-think crumbles, in such cases, because people say “I will sacrifice for you no longer!” The dictator looks out the window and sees many torches.

    All through this process Truth never needs say a word. It just sits there, self-evident.

  62. Interesting…As a front line manager working for a large corporation at a field station I get to live this dilemma daily. We are now consistently working toward a more structured environment where managers are there to ensure that the new standards of work are followed as opposed to being leaders and innovators. Unfortunately, the new standards are being driven from the top down with very little input from the people doing the work which is in direct contention to the rhetoric of “continuous improvement” that the company is pushing….Sound familiar?

  63. David Ross says:
    August 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Very true. Unfortunately some people use this phenomenon to manipulate people. It’s called “community organizing”….
    _____________________
    You got it. In most cases these groups are not democratic. Just like the various science groups such as the American Chemical Society did not ask their members what their “Consenus” was on CAGW. ACS was pushing “green” as early as the 1970′s when I joined.

  64. David Ross says:

    Very true. Unfortunately some people use this phenomenon to manipulate people. It’s called “community organizing”.

    Identify an issue most people will agree on (e.g. something small and local, problems with garbage collection, anything).
    Organize a group to discuss it.
    The group must not fix the problem themselves.
    Steer them towards lobbying the authorities to do it, with protests etc.
    If they force action from the authorities the group feels empowered and bonds.
    Now you’re ready to steer them towards other issues -issues which many members would not have cared about before joining the group.
    Keep control of the group. Isolate any members that strongly oppose your take on the new issues or don’t show sufficient signs of groupthink. Have some members shout them down, encourage them to leave the group.

    I don’t think this always involves concious though on the part of the people involved. Especially where those opposed to the new issues include “founder members”. (Even an actual conspiracy to “hijack” such a group may not be present initially.)
    It’s also likely that a lot of people would leave once they felt the issue had been properly addressed (including by some sort of “compromise”) or things they didn’t care about started to be raised.

  65. Cass Sunstein is a smart guy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cass_Sunstein

    ““Sunstein and Vermeule also analyze the practice of recruiting “nongovernmental officials”; they suggest that “government can supply these independent experts with information and perhaps prod them into action from behind the scenes,” further warning that “too close a connection will be self-defeating if it is exposed.”””

    Wait, I take that back. SUNSTEIIIIIIN! You told the enemy our evil masterplan! The first rule of supervillainery is: Keep the plan a secret!

  66. Bruce Atwood says:
    August 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Yup. That’s why deniers should read some of the actual research reports, instead of simply believing Fox.

    Ok. Good advice. Let’s see. What does the IPCC have to say about climate models?

    http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/279.htm

    The IPCC says the climate models can’t simulate the QBO. Wait a moment. Checking the URL… no, looks right…

    I’ll find out what’s wrong and come back to you in a minute…

  67. Louise says:
    August 19, 2012 at 2:07 am
    “I’m sure those oil fields in Texas and Alberta look just as attractive as the wind farms above.”

    Louise, the energy density is orders of magnitude higher for gas. You won’t believe me but a few natgas pipelines easily carry 10 times more Joules across your states borders than all the high voltage transmission lines together. And the best part is – while electricity is very expensive to store, natgas or other chemical fuels are their own storage.

    Only a seventh of the primary energy consumed by Germany, for instance, is consumed in the form of electricity.

    Realtime energy im+export for Denmark; electricity connectors and natgas pipelines:

    http://www.energinet.dk/Flash/Forside/index.html

  68. Dr Burns says:
    August 19, 2012 at 2:56 am
    “I strongly disagree. Truth is not absolute. The Asch Effect illustrates how for most people, one’s truth conforms to that of the group.”

    Ah, a PNS proponent. Please apply your theory to mathematics. Maybe you can prove Legendre’s conjecture if you redefine truth enough.

  69. Dr Burns says:
    August 19, 2012 at 2:56 am

    >>Caleb says:
    >>A lot of this discussion ignores the fact that Truth is a reality, and continues to be True even if, >>for some reason, it becomes unpopular.

    I strongly disagree. Truth is not absolute. The Asch Effect illustrates how for most people, one’s truth conforms to that of the group.
    ————————————————————————————-
    Dr Burns – I disagree. Depending now what one calls “the truth” – I understand from Caleb’s pov to be the “objective reality” and not the “by the group accepted truth”.
    Interesting to see that the experiment have been redone with some variances – the bigger the group the greater the conformity, however if dissent voices were allowed the conformity decreases.
    So I would understand that most people see the truth but not always are ready to engage for it – depending on various reasons.

  70. Bruce Atwood says:
    August 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Yup. That’s why deniers should read some of the actual research reports, instead of simply believing Fox.

    REPLY – Do you really think we have not “read some of the actual research reports”? ~ Evan
    ____________________________
    Fox who? you really need to be more specific.

  71. Nah, it’s a lot simpler than that. Power-loving people want high status. When Position X is identified with high status and Position Y is associated with low status, power-loving people will assume Position X.

    As with most destructive processes, positive feedback is involved. After a few Trend Leaders start spewing Position X, it becomes even more attractive to power-loving d-heads.

    No real solution except collapse. The Carbon Cult has gone way way way way beyond any previous ideology in gathering powermongers. Islam in 1100, Christianity in 1800, Marxism in 1960, didn’t come anywhere near the Carbon Cult’s universal power.

  72. wendellwx52 says:
    August 18, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    The problem with this thought process is this. Most people are sheep, they are followers, they are lead about by whatever they are told, by whomever tells them, without ever questioning the validity of what they are being told.
    ________________________________
    Correct and the MSM propaganda machine is in place to do the leading. Do you think “Animal Rights” would be anything but an extremely small weird cult without the help of all the publicity?

    The MSM not only spreads these cults it gives them legitimacy. “I read it in the Huffington Post so it must be true.”

  73. I love reading people’s comments of what truth is, it shows how much they have been sucked in by post modernist and post normal science where truth is merely consructed by a social consensus and verification as validity is looked down upon. Indeed verification is thwarted by such people via their refusal to publish data or even the code for their models and their demands that qualitative data should always outweigh quantitative.

  74. I would like to point out that many famous people have also made the observation that you can not get a fellow to see an obvious truth if by seeing that clear and plain truth it would hurt his livelyhood. (lose my grants? heaven forbid!)

  75. george e smith says:
    August 18, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    “””””…..Bruce Atwood says:

    August 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Yup. That’s why deniers should read some of the actual research reports, instead of simply believing Fox……”””””

    Who the hell is Fox ?
    Why all of a sudden does WUWT want me to sign in every time now ?
    =========================================================
    The FOX reference is to FOX News.
    Demonizing FOX News is one of the most imbedded tenets of leftists today. (an incredibly unhealthy obsession really)

    Have to sign every time?
    Most likely a WordPress “upgrade”. Happened to me months ago too.

  76. Bruce Atwood, I had firmly accepted all of the science of AGW. Until that is, I read the IPCC AR3 after it had been released in 2001. That was the document which finally turned me completely off the theory, because what was in it was such transparent nonsense.

  77. I guess the irony of posting that quote on a site that is possibly the ultimate magnet of a movement coalescing around a mistaken belief is somewhat lost…

  78. Bruce Atwood says:
    August 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm
    “Yup. That’s why deniers should read some of the actual research reports, instead of simply believing Fox”

    Classic example of group think, although we used to call it brainwashing.

  79. Intravenous Transfusion – Vehicle for transportation-Czars. Outside of government, paid by government, not responsible to government. Digital video sequence – far more powerful than sugar to wet the appetite.

  80. Dr Burns says:
    August 19, 2012 at 2:56 am
    >>Caleb says:
    >>A lot of this discussion ignores the fact that Truth is a reality, and continues to be True even if, >>for some reason, it becomes unpopular.

    I strongly disagree. Truth is not absolute. The Asch Effect illustrates how for most people, one’s truth conforms to that of the group. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asch_conformity_experiments
    ———————————————–
    First and foremost a lie, one’s perception or an opinion is not a fact. (I know about Dr Mann)
    No facts were changed.
    And that’s a fact.

  81. @ E.M.Smith says:
    August 19, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Pretty much my story.. darn, I even did some work for a “climate action” group before some idiot said “the science is settled’”.. red rag stuff to me !!!

    I hadn’t really looked into it much before then, just went with the flow, helped out some greenie mates..You know how it is..

    But as soon as you start looking at the science… oops.. something ain’t right with this cAGW stuff !!

    And daring to ask simple questions on a warmist site.. the responses I got really got my hackles up !!

    So, in my opinion, it is the totally arrogant and dismissive attitude of the warmist bletheren that made me look deeper, and realise just what a farce and a fraud the whole thing is. !!

    They have created the polarisation by their very own actions. !!!!

  82. Edwin T. Jaynes formalized the mathematical logic of polarization wonderfully in ‘Converging and diverging views’, Section 5.3 of Principles and elementary applications, Part 1 of Probability Theory: The Logic of Science, his textbook on Bayes applied to physics.

    In a word, the listener is driven towards or away from the narrator by his belief or disbelief and the narrator’s vehemence.

    This passage is the gem of all that I have been able to understand in the book and that will drive me on, even though my maths are wholly inadequate. Note that Section 5.6, a few pages later, is ‘Horse racing and weather forecasting’ that draws on an example from Richard C. Jeffrey (philosopher, Princeton 1983).

    I was driven to Bayesian inference/Jaynes by comments by Nassim Nicholas Taleb that damn our ignorance of forecasting of all sorts.

  83. Regarding truth, it seems pain is required.

    I love Kippling’s Copybook Headings:
    [...]
    As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

    http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_copybook.htm

    This goes for the next article poo, I mean, too.

  84. Daveburton said “I don’t think I’m an extremist on climate issues. I’m a “lukewarm-ist.” I do think that it’s warmer now than it was in the 1700s, and I do think human activity affects climate, so If I’d taken the Zimmerman/Doran survey, I’d have been counted among the 97.5% whom Doran characterized as agreeing with what he called “the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.”

    That is probably a very common view even here despite the very vocal purveyors of selective physics. You (in general) are the reason why the people at SkepSci have to lock horns and attack any suggestion that we have a 100 years to burn (carbon fuels) before technology will easily solve any consequent problems for us, that “extreme” weather is a relatively trivial concern along with one inch per year sea level rise. You are the reason that SkepSci people largely fail to debate in depth here except to (quite properly) debunk the selective physicists.

    SkepSci mentioned polarization in a recent thread: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Kahan.html but like many such topics failed to generate the kind of illuminating debate found in the comments here.

  85. If they showed video of the wind farms you would see that most of them do not run, maybe 1/3 or less might be operating. Same with the farms outside the Bay area in Altamont pass.

  86. Interesting after a brief perusal. I contribute ‘Uncle’ Al Schwartz’ essay, ‘The Mathematical Impossibility of Compromise – http://mazepath.com/uncleal/comprom.htm
    Teaser: “Create a multidimensional compromise space. Choose a variable, normalize it on a scale of 1 through zero to -1 inclusive. Love thy neighbor, kill thy neighbor. Racial integration, racial segregation. Keep all that you earn, the State confiscates all that you earn. …”

    Conclusion in brief: “A hypercube with edge length 2 and volume 2N circumscribes about any unit N-hypersphere. The ratio of our N-hyperball’s volume to its circumscribed hypercube monotonically decreases as the dimension N, the number of independent variables, increases. As a problem’s complexity increases the closed N-hyperball of all possible solutions – of any kind – monotonically shrinks toward a zero volume point.’

    In a word, as the sociological problem approaches useful and realistic complexity, beyond five-ish dimensions, the remaining compromise space decreases and vanishes.

  87. I dunno, davidmhoffer. Let anyone wonder aloud on this forum where fracking chemicals injected into the ground at incredibly high pressure might seep to, and he/she will be shouted down pretty quickly.

  88. ****
    David Ross says:
    August 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Very true. Unfortunately some people use this phenomenon to manipulate people. It’s called “community organizing”.
    ****

    Thanks, David. Your description sounds like an overview of a “modern” university social studies/communications/education/political science course.

  89. Doug Huffman says:
    August 19, 2012 at 6:22 am

    “Conclusion in brief: “A hypercube with edge length 2 and volume 2N circumscribes about any unit N-hypersphere. The ratio of our N-hyperball’s volume to its circumscribed hypercube monotonically decreases as the dimension N, the number of independent variables, increases. As a problem’s complexity increases the closed N-hyperball of all possible solutions – of any kind – monotonically shrinks toward a zero volume point.’

    In a word, as the sociological problem approaches useful and realistic complexity, beyond five-ish dimensions, the remaining compromise space decreases and vanishes.”

    How does this show that compromise is impossible? That guy uses mathematical terms so I use mathematical terms to show that he proved exactly nothing.
    “Shrinking towards a zero volume point” means the remaining area for compromise is always bigger than zero, and with each dimension added, it even grows into another dimension.

  90. mike g on August 19, 2012 at 7:05 am
    “I dunno, davidmhoffer. Let anyone wonder aloud on this forum where fracking chemicals injected into the ground at incredibly high pressure might seep to, and he/she will be shouted down pretty quickly”

    Mike G – what would happen is that they would be provided the references and data that would critique their assertions and allay their concerns.

  91. Who sounds like they have been blinded by groupthink more? The ones who claim 97% of all scientists believe in man-made global warming or those who talk about the scientific method?

  92. Yes, but there is more to it than that. Someone mentioned Maslows heirarchy of needs. A professor who worked with him at times studied these kind of groups a lot. There is some very powerful stuff that explains how people and societies congregate around sets of values and form groups.
    And people can at times change their values, as the circumstances they find themselves in change – but people generally don’t tend to change quickly – all though it is not unknown. There is social pressure not to and the underlying reason behind that is that by cooperating together we survive. We build our values around what works for us and our social groups – or society. And that is a large part of why people are so unhappy with different sets of values – they apparently challenge the things that help us to survive.
    What we really need now in such a complicated world is people that understand the need for different behaviours in different situations more fluidly.
    In theory the scientific method should not be influenced by our values but in practise, like most of us, our work is influenced by our values.
    It is a bit academic but there is more at http://www.spiraldynamics.net/

  93. [snip - racist hate speech - Bob Phelan warned you about this before, and yet you continue. Therefore you've have now been permanently banned from WUWT. I don't have time nor tolerance for this crap - Anthony Watts]

  94. I started out as a “true believer” and was very impressed by Al Gore’s movie. As a result of the movie, I wanted to learn more about the catastrophe that would surely befall our planet if we didn’t change our carbon-intensive ways and began to search the Internet for more information. One of the first sites I stumbled into was Climate Audit and the rest, as they say, was history. I also ended up at RealClimate and after reading the articles and the echo-chamber comments, became even more convinced that there was another side to the argument that was not being presented.

  95. In reply to Bruce Atwood’s comment.

    “””””…..Bruce Atwood says:
    August 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm
    Yup. That’s why deniers should read some of the actual research reports,”””
    Bruce,
    Can you perhaps provide a link to a paper to support your position? There is a reason for Climategate. Observations do not support the extreme AGW paradigm. A doubling of atmospheric CO2 will not cause dangerous extreme warming.

    See the link to Lindzen and Choi’s paper below. Long term top of the atmosphere radiation measurement from satellites compared to ocean surface temperature unequivocally shows tropic cloud cover increases or decreases to resist forcing changes (negative feedback). The IPCC models assume positive feedback to amplify the forcing change which is positive feedback. If the planet’s response to a change in forcing is negative a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will result in less than 1C warming with the majority of the warming occurring at high latitudes which result in the expansion of the biosphere.

    Increases in atmospheric CO2 is beneficial to biosphere. CO2 is not a poison. Plants eat CO2. We are carbon based life forms. Commercial greenhouses inject CO2 into the greenhouse to increase plant yield and reduce growing times. The optimum level of atmospheric CO2 for plants is 1000 ppm to 1500 ppm. The current level is 400 ppm.

    The extreme AGW believers are trying to force Western countries to spend trillions of dollars on green scams which will not significantly reduce carbon dioxide emission in western countries. Total world CO2 emission is increasing not decreasing as China and India CO2 emissions are increasing as they industrialize.

    Western countries do not have trillions of tax payer dollars to spend on green scams. Reality will prevail. The EU is heading for economic collapse.

    A group of fanatics are trying to convince western countries to commit financial suicide. A study of Spain indicates that 9 jobs were lost for every 4 “green jobs” created. The massive spending on “green energy” has had no significant reduction in total CO2 emissions, if one includes the energy input to construct wind turbines, wind turbine supporting structures, roads to wind farms, electrical power lines to wind farms, back up open cycle natural gas power plants to provide daily and multi day back for wind farms, and so on. Engineering and cost benefit does not support the construction of wind farms.

    I notice there is no practical discussion “green energy” at RealClimate. Logic and facts are on the side of the so called “skeptics”.

    http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/236-Lindzen-Choi-2011.pdf

    “On the Observational Determination of Climate Sensitivity and Its Implications
    We estimate climate sensitivity from observations, using the deseasonalized fluctuations in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and the concurrent fluctuations in the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) outgoing radiation from the ERBE (1985-1999) and CERES (2000-2008) satellite instruments. Distinct periods of warming and cooling in the SSTs were used to evaluate feedbacks. An earlier study (Lindzen and Choi, 2009) was subject to significant criticisms. The present paper is an expansion of the earlier paper where the various criticisms are taken into account. ….

    ….we show that simple regression methods used by several existing papers generally exaggerate positive feedbacks and even show positive feedbacks when actual feedbacks are negative. We argue that feedbacks are largely concentrated in the tropics, and the tropical feedbacks can be adjusted to account for their impact on the globe as a whole. Indeed, we show that including all CERES data (not just from the tropics) leads to results similar to what are obtained for the tropics alone – though with more noise.

    … We again find that the outgoing radiation resulting from SST fluctuations exceeds the zerofeedback response thus implying negative feedback. In contrast to this, the calculated TOA outgoing radiation fluxes from 11 atmospheric models forced by the observed SST are less than the zerofeedback response, consistent with the positive feedbacks that characterize these models. The results imply that the models are exaggerating climate sensitivity.”

    ….However, warming from a doubling of CO2 would only be about 1C (based on simple calculations where the radiation altitude and the Planck temperature depend on wavelength in accordance with the attenuation coefficients of wellmixed CO2 molecules; a doubling of any concentration in ppmv produces the same warming because of the logarithmic dependence of CO2’s absorption on the amount of CO2) (IPCC, 2007). This modest warming is much less than current climate models suggest for a doubling of CO2. Models predict warming of from 1.5C to 5C and even more for a doubling of CO2. Model predictions depend on the ‘feedback’ within models from the more important greenhouse substances, water vapor and clouds….

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenmeyer/2012/02/09/understanding-the-global-warming-debate/

    “The problem for global warming supporters is they actually need for past warming from CO2 to be higher than 0.7C. If the IPCC is correct that based on their high-feedback models we should expect to see 3C of warming per doubling of CO2, looking backwards this means we should already have seen about 1.5C of CO2-driven warming based on past CO2 increases. But no matter how uncertain our measurements, it’s clear we have seen nothing like this kind of temperature rise. Past warming has in fact been more consistent with low or even negative feedback assumptions.”

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,662092,00.html

    “Even though the temperature standstill probably has no effect on the long-term warming trend, it does raise doubts about the predictive value of climate models, and it is also a political issue. For months, climate change skeptics have been gloating over the findings on their Internet forums. This has prompted many a climatologist to treat the temperature data in public with a sense of shame, thereby damaging their own credibility. ..”

    “It cannot be denied that this is one of the hottest issues in the scientific community,” says Jochem Marotzke, director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. “We don’t really know why this stagnation is taking place at this point.”

  96. Cass Sunstein is a dissembling [snip . . you have been here before and so know the house rules . . kbmod]. The reason it’s polarizing is because opportunist [cv. . . kbmod] (select scientists, socialists, wall street financiers, lawyers, bureaucrats) stand to reap rewards of power/influence/cash at the expense of everyone else. The skeptic community is just reacting to what is more politics as usual from the federal government and those that use the federal government for their own purposes.

  97. more soylent green! says:
    August 19, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Who sounds like they have been blinded by groupthink more? The ones who claim 97% of all scientists believe in man-made global warming or those who talk about the scientific method?

    Don’t know if you are being serious or if you are being sarcastic.
    Please inform the uninformed where the “97% of all scientists” -statement comes from.
    It makes me laugh everytime someone mentions the 75/77.

  98. Stephen J Gould said something similar – and more pungent – in his essay, “On Dichotomy” in his excellent book, “Time’s Arrow Time’s Cycle”. It is all about another grand scientific debate that involved, among others, those known as Catastrophists.

  99. I was always taken with the speed that the Revolutionary Socialists recovered from the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    Here is the proposal to anchor ecology firmly to the left, This is from the Fourth International; World Congresses : 13th World Congress – 1991; Socialist revolution and Ecology
    The destruction of the vital basis of human community by the nowadays familiar effects of capitalist production on the climate and the quality of the air, water and soil has reached a new dimension for bourgeois class rule and its ideology.

    http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article138

  100. Tim Minchin says:
    August 18, 2012 at 7:03 pm
    why is Atwood allowed to troll?

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    [Reply: That only applies to the government and the entities that it directly subsidizes, not to private businesses. Here, site Policy takes precedence. ~dbs, mod.]

  101. The “what if all those windmills were oil rigs” question is so apropos! It never ceases to amaze me that people are willing to allow such incredible eyesores to spring up like massive alien weeds all over otherwise beautiful landscapes – especially when they are such a looser in terms of energy production and cost.

    Then on the Jonah field photo – I’ve got to say that the first thing that came to mind is that a huge number of those could be replaced by a single nuclear power station that would take up vastly less land. Assuming a spot with sufficient cooling water is available, of course. And, of course, they can’t replace gasoline – but they do a fantastic job producing electricity and could replace any fossil fuel sources of electricity and reduce the overall land use significantly that way. (I know, I know – with natural gas so cheap now, we’re unlikely to pursue nukes very much, at least in the near future)

  102. re: Tim Minchin says: August 18, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    why is Atwood allowed to troll?

    Because Anthony has an excellent policy of allowing free speech. One has to do something quite egregious to get a post snipped by a moderator or to be banned. It’s an excellent policy which allows free and open debate as compared to the heavily biased sites like realclimate where you can’t trust a thing that’s posted and it’s not worth even trying to post yourself. So I’d suggest giving Anthony and the mods many kudos, and just ignoring the few irritating trolls that pop up.

  103. In Northern Ireland a similar polarisation occured. The Troubles brought five main parties to prominance.

    Sinn Fein (republican, political wing of IRA)
    Social Democtratic and Labour Party (nationalist)
    Alliance (moderate coalition of nationalists and unionists)
    Official Unionists ( unionist)
    Democtratic Unionist Party (extreme unionist)

    In the decades since the Troubles ended Sinn Fein and the DUP have taken control of the Northern Ireland Assembly between them.Voters have moved more and more towards the two extremes. The three moderate parties have shrunk.

  104. This is a discussion of what is proper knowledge and what is belief. Proper knowledge for most of mankind’s existence has been what conforms with sensory experience but intellect also extends the realm of experience to the intangible and our methods of measurement also extend proper knowledge to, for example, the atom and its interior. And even here we have beliefs that extend philosophical notions of meaning e.g., since if we are largely made of empty space (the immense distances between the nucleus of the atom and its electrons, for an example of a reasoning starting point) and the philosophical question arises, is solidness an illusion. Certainly our sensory experience of solidness is a firm foundation or an assumption that won’t get us in trouble if avoiding a large falling object. But there are those who extend this specific proper knowledge to assert that reality might be an illusion. These beliefs emerge not illogically in the mind but a logical progression from proper knowledge but result in an unhinging of belief from proper knowledge. The property of solidness is real and the question should be if something is real we should strive to understand solidness as a property not extend the proper knowledge of the atom to make an improper conclusion about the real world where soliidness is a demonstrable property.

    If we extend this idea of proper knowledge and belief to what this post is about we can see that in a particular group there are those who hold beliefs and those who have proper knowledge. In the case of the minimum wage we can see its harmful effects in raising the wage of teenagers above the value of their hourly output and increase the rate of unemployment in that group. We can call something a “living wage” and wax poetic about it and create a belief that a minimum wage is “good”. But why it is “good” in our minds has nothing to do with proper knowledge.

    Extending these notions to climate change we can see that the proper knowledge of the global warming potential of a molecule of a GHG is a property of that molecule in our atmosphere but it is a belief to assume from that proper knowledge that the world in 100 years or 200 years will be a miserable place for human beings. It brings into the argument a whole set of unknown properties of civilization and its natural capacities for dealing with limits.

    If we have an experience that is clearly shown in the data and the data show that the world has been decarbonizing for the past 160 years we need to understand this property. This emergent property of our energy use should allow us to model future concentrations of GHGs with better precision. This more accurate knowledge will eventually lead us to proper knowledge of climate change and beliefs will fall away.

    Today we have been running a grand experiment in America with fuel switching, something that England did as it switched from coal to cheap North Sea gas. Our fuel switching has accelerated our decarbonization and we have direct experience now that decarbonization is a property of our energy use.

    In most of the doomsday scenarios there is reasoning from the proper knowledge of exponential growth to conclusions about the future. In and of themselves these conclusions are proper knowledge and not belief. But these models are complex and their output is proper knowledge. But proper knowledge of what? Perhaps proper knowledge only within the model itself. This is where we all can fool ourselves about what is proper knowledge and what is only belief.

    We all have to rely on experts because we cannot turn all of our beliefs into proper knowledge we have to trust. But we must be aware when we are holding just a belief and not proper knowledge. I think that skeptics are trying to argue with people who are holding beliefs and not proper knowledge. This is a problem when a scientist veers away from proper knowledge and tries to reinforce popular beliefs with polemic. I think that James Hansen is a person of goodwill but I also think that he holds many beliefs that he himself has not taken through the arduous process of turning into proper knowledge. Hansen and Mann truly believe that anyone who is a skeptic is a denialist and funded by big oil or the Koch Brothers. They cannot see that someone could have proper knowledge that differs from their proper knowledge. Somewhere there is an error in reasoning and someone is holding a belief.

  105. John A says:
    August 19, 2012 at 1:43 am

    It was Michael Chricton who pointed out that environmentalism is an exact remapping of Judeo-Christian concepts of sin, the Fall, salvation, redemption and the coming Apocalypse.

    You missed one thing that religion and environmentalism have in common: Quite often they are thick as thieves with politics. Many people still think President Obama is a Muslim; he is not but it was a big deal to many in this country. Look at Russia and how tight Vladamir Putin is with the Russian Orthodox Church as evidenced by the band that is going to spend 2 years in jail for having a concert at a church. Although less true today, many but not all religions use governments to further their interests, to control the people, and to make lots of money. Environmentalists do the same thing. They are using the government to promote their version of paradise, to control people so that they can get their paradise, and make lots of money in the process.

    Please note: I am not trying to debate the point on whether or not you should be religious or believe in God.

  106. @DirkH did not do the math or even read the essay, else he’d know that the volume concentrates near the radius asymptotically as the dimensions increase. Who fails to do arithmetic is doomed to nonsense. Just read the Wikipedia article, Dirk!

  107. Re: Group Polarization and the Skeptics vs Warmists stand-off:

    This is related to a phenomenon I explain with the term, The Theory of Acceleration: the idea that human events tend to accelerate a steady, low level of activity until they reach a point of crisis at which point the motion cannot be maintain harmoniously. Chaos erupts as disparate parts strike out on their own and then, independently, all cease motion altogether. A period of quiet stability results, and then the motion, regular and reasonable starts again. What triggers the acceleration is an unexpected event that disrupts the former regular motion but one that is outside of control of any of the elements.

    The Theory struck me in an aerobics class in which we were leaping and stretching to the beat of a song. The tape machine suddenly stopped. The instructor left the room to get the music going again, leaving with instructions to us to keep the beat going until she came back. After she left, I noted that we began to speed up as a group. It appeared that one or two keeners in the front became the self-appointed Guardians of Timing, but that their enthusiasm lead them to try harder. The more the rest of us followed them, the harder they tried, until only the Guardians had the energy or natural rhythm to maintain the pace. The rest of the room broke down into a couple of groups trying to go half-time, but the integrity of the whole, broken, was too complex to either follow or ignore. Very quickly individuals were flailing away and then, embarrassed and confused. Stopped altogether. At the front the Guardians were still going strong when the instructor came back in the room, fiddled with the sound system controls and got us all going again.

    Is this Group Polarization and Acceleration what we have seen in the Global Warming scene, I wonder. If so, then we would be in the early stages of the Crisis. Gore has noticeably left the stage, Suzuki has taken specific retirement from the stage (he officially left The David Suzuki Foundation so he could “speak his mind“ freely), and NIWA and the Australian BOM are refusing to publicly defend their prior positions (without denying them, however). The public is more assured in its skepticism, and Obama, Merkel and Brown are backing away from declarations of faith in the coming end of the world. Only Gillard, in Australia, is toeing the line with her Carbon Tax, while Hansen, Mann and the IPCC are becoming more extreme in their pronouncements of coming doom. The group is becoming discordant, with the Guardians of Timing – Hansen and the IPCC – trying not just to move quickly, but FASTER, while others, Obama included, seem to be in a dead-stop position.

    If the Theory of Acceleration is correct, in conjunction with Group Polarization, it means that the Eco-Green CAGW movement is about to fall apart. An embarrassed confusion is to come to pass. On the basis of missed deadlines for disaster, and the length of time people can be persuaded to pursue a course before seeing results (I see 6 months to get something going, two years to have a process in place and moving, and five years to see results), I see 2015 as a critical year: the five years will be up then.

    2010 was the start to the clock ticking. 2012 is demonstrably the warmest year of the global record by GISS, HadCru and satellite data. November 2009 (almost 2010) was the Copenhagen meeting in which the leaders determined to control CO2. In the two and a half years since then, the carbon market rose and fell, the EU has tried to tax international flights on the basis of their carbon dioxide emissions, and Gillard has put the Carbon Tax into legislation. One fail already, one doomed and the last unpopular enough likely to be cause a change of government. But also, beginning in 2009, the IPCC`s ability to get us in lockstep, like the tape machine in my aerobics class, has suffered a problem. Climategate initially, and then Donna LaFamboise, in particular, has caused the instructor to be called out of the room. We`re dancing on our own,and while the Guardians have taken over control, they no longer have a governor. We`ve got things going, we`ve got processes in place, and now we are in the place we start to look for results. Results that won`t come.

    By the end of December, 2015, if temperatures have not begun a startling increase, if sea-levels have not shot up, it will be as it occurred to us in the exercise class: the instructor has been gone too long. The franticness of the keeners can`t be maintained without solid support of an overhanging beat any more for climate change tactics than they can for lycra-clothed dancers. Something will give and that will be public support for any CAGW talk.

    BTW, the analogy with the aerobics class goes one further. Eventually the instructor came back and we were soon sweating in time again. Only the tune was different. So one might expect, if the analogy is predictive of human affairs, that by 2017 we will be in the beginning of a new crisis. With Hansen and Gore somewhere nearby, because the keeners always come back, and they are always somewhere near the front of the class.

  108. Distance-compressed shot of antique wind chargers to misreport the ones erected today.

    Here’s some pictures of the new ones.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8524489@N07/3666191079/

    http://www.goldenstateimages.com/GSI_big.php?img=PWP-086

    One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates are guarded by more than just orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep. The great eye is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland, riddled with death, and dust. The very air is filled with flying guillotines. The bones of ten thousand eagles line your path. It is folly.

  109. Or dare to show that even the physics community is divided on the GHE. If you have the courage to look closely that is. Co2 causing warming has become a group think perspective. Sorry.

  110. I don’t exactly agree with the quoted rhetoric in the article. Yes, undoubtedly, when sheeple follow a theme, they all tend to follow said theme. However, not all people are sheeple, and will question (as in ask the right questions) before finalising an opinion – and more rarely may even change their minds, or keep an open mind. Moreover, within a polarized group of people, there are usually some dissenters, or folk that are less than ‘convinced’ but may follow a general meme. I hate party politics for this reason – voting for a general theme when one doesn’t agree with parts of the manifesto for example (IMO, voting should be for the person most closely representing your views NOT the party line, and all politicians should essentially be independent)
    So, the grouping/polarisation aspect can be often ‘imposed’, either by the folk themselves or ‘outsiders’ trying to assign a ‘label’ whn not all insiders are right to be so labeled!
    But I do agree that group organisation is often undertaken by ‘others’ with alterior motives too – hence my disdain for sheeple!!

  111. Bruce Atwood, I have read a number of research papers whose conclusions blamed climate change or global warming for whatever. Most would have failed if presented to my tenth grade biology teacher. Some would have failed if presented to one of my teachers in middle school. If you would read some of these research papers critically, you would also come to the conclusion that the researchers haven’t a clue about anything.

  112. “I’m sure those oil fields in Texas and Alberta look just as attractive as the wind farms above.”

    I have seen the wind farms in California, and the oil fields in the Dakotas. The oil fields are much more attractive . . . less obstrusive.

  113. Doug Proctor says:
    August 19, 2012 at 11:06 am

    “So one might expect, if the analogy is predictive of human affairs, that by 2017 we will be in the beginning of a new crisis.”

    With all the LOTR references in the thread, I thought this quote was apropos:

    Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again. -Gandalf

  114. Put the photo of the wind farm next to a photo of the oilfields of the 30s and 40s of Oklahoma or California, and ask the greenies how the wind farm is superior to the oil field. They are both (or all three) photos of forests of derricks. The biggest difference is, like you said, that the oil field produced more energy at a lower unit cost than the wind farm.

  115. beesaman says @August 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm: “We see that over the next few weeks if Arctic ice falls below certain levels. No allowance will be given for the fact that it is being measured using different systems to last year . . .”
    Can you clarify this statement? Is it just a reference to the satellite failure in October of last year? Has any suspicion been raised about the graphs that we know see? (It certainly seems like we are heading to a bonafide new minimum in Arctic Ice extent.)

  116. And, oh yeah:

    Feeding off each other is fueled by confirmation bias. Don’t forget that.

    They hear more and more of what they want to hear, and – in the group setting – none of what they don’t want to hear. Hence, Goebbel’s Law comes into effect, that a lie repeated enough times becomes the truth.

    And it happens on both sides of the argument, don’t forget. We do some of that, too. We should be on the look out for that among ourselves.

    We here bring in science, as we all know, but we do also pat each skeptical scientist on the back and slap the opponent scientists around. But we DO at least – unlike RealClimate, in particular – give mention of the warmist papers and articles. Scientists who won’t even allow people to hear the opposing arguments are not and cannot be scientists, but advocates. Where advocacy starts, science ends.

    I came here as a nominal warmist, not knowing any better one way or the other. Before that, after five minutes on the warmist sites and I was barfing. I also want to be where the most science is presented. I don’t want to be pilloried and swaddled into a belief – especially not on a scientific subject. I do not like to be force-fed.

    Everyone here is entitled to their own opinions. When warmists have come hgere, I have actually been impressed with how civil the disagreements are. Over at Judy Curry’s ‘neutral’ site, on the other hand, there have been some nasty exchanges. But at least, here or there, it isn’t – as Harvard has named it – group polarization via feeding off each other.

    This brings up the question: If a warmist paper actually was sound science, would we listen and adapt to it? I would. But in well over ten years now, I haven’t seen one that wasn’t based on flawed assumptions and/or flawed adjustments and/or GIGO model outputs. When I do, I will holler. And I doubt I will be the first one pointing at it. Someone else here will be beat me to the punch in saying “Holy crap! They actually did real science!”

    Steve Garcia

  117. It seems that if one lives long enough one gets to see a lot of re-runs. When I was very young I lived in a society that was becoming more polarised as time went on. From my naive point of view at that time, since I did not understand politics, it seemed that people were just finding excuses to be rude to each other.
    Luckily for me and my immediate family we left for half way around the globe. Fortunately we were able to see the stupidity from far away. Towards the end of the polarisation cycle, words turned into actions: occupation of factories, occupation of towns, and occupation of large farms. As is typical at the end of these cycles, along comes a man with simple solutions. This one seemed like a large Wagnerian operatic production. As it is common with Wagnerian operas, things end badly for some of the participants. This one ended badly for a lot of the participants: mass executions, disappearances, torture, and then came the post end retributions.
    It always concerns me when people become enamoured of their hypotheses, and are not willing to treat them just as hypotheses; and are not willing to diminish their importance on reasonable evidence.
    I hope the present cycle of polarisation changes into something more constructive.

  118. Lucy Skywalker says:
    August 19, 2012 at 1:40 am
    “I disagree with Sunstein’s statement. And I disagree on the basis of considerable evidence from WUWT itself.”
    “Many if not most people here were, once, warmists. They didn’t polarize, they changed sides on closer perusal of the evidence. ”

    dido…some folks can actually formulate their own independent thoughts and conclusions from sources not found mainstream TV drama. Maybe the rest are lazy, or are liken to follow the heard over the cliff. Sheep need us dogs to protect them from the wolves; however they do not recognize they are sheep.

  119. Doug Proctor says:
    “An embarrassed confusion is to come to pass. On the basis of missed deadlines for disaster,….”

    And the failure of renewables to perform as advertised, and the success of fracking, and the failure of China et al. to cut their emissions, and the defeat of the Gilliard gov’t., and more defectors like Lovelock, and the failures of green cars, and the global financial crisis, and perhaps Climategate3, and maybe the success of Rossi …–what’s up with him lately?, and …

  120. feet2thefire says:
    August 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm
    I tend to agree – but with a slight addendum that on the skeptical side, confirmation bias (if you like) is somewhat more difficult to behold. Sure, we know that the likes of Gavin et al, simply pedal their pet theories and blanket support them – but in skeptical sense (as in, the true scientific method way), you cannot really be too skeptical, can you? As you rightly say, any decent, correctly, well scientifically founded paper would/should be accepted by us all, no matter what the conclusion. Warmist or not, skeptic or not – if you have the science correctly nailed, it will be accepted. I know there were diehards against plate tectonics and suchlike, but in the end the evidence was irrefutable. Any ‘pet’ theory will have it’s followers, but the REAL scientists will never simply promote it without due substance, which, in truth, is exactly what has happened in the climate science echelons. After nearly 30 years of ‘proving’, where is the evidence, where is the sound science, where is the truth? It ain’t there, and from that, after the billions of dollars in research, someone with an open mind would usually conclude that the wrong tree is being barked up! – as far as I can see, that is the only confirmation bias I ‘carry’ myself!

  121. beng says:
    August 19, 2012 at 7:24 am

    thanks Beng – where do I send the bill for a new keyboard! :)

  122. I gather my “hamburger: comment was kill completely. Please email your critique.

    REPLY: You said in a follow up comment (which you also asked me to delete) to delete it if it was over the line, now you question that I have? Sorry not wasting time on that – Anthony

  123. I have many friends of different race and religion…. we all get on well together. we can talk about race and religion, and no-one ostracises anyone.

    Try to talk about CAGW, and take the skeptic view…… very different story.

    The polarisation has gone WAY further than most race and/or religious differences.

  124. Larry Sheldon says:
    August 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm
    Distance-compressed shot

    What does that mean?
    —————————–
    If you use a telephoto or zoom lens to take a photo of a group of objects from a long way away you get the effect seen in the wind farm picture. Measured along the line of sight the windmills are actually spaced well apart, but the false perspective generated by the lens makes them appear much closer together.

  125. @ Entropic..

    regardless, they are ugly as.. and will they get taken down when they are dead.. I doubt it.,
    just left as a blight on the lanscape

    at least coal mines tidy up after themselves.

  126. It would be tough to find a gas field with more surface impact than Jonah. It has some oil and NGL, requiring extra surface facilities, and there are 16 wells per square mile. Many gas fields have no liquids and can be developed with one well per square mile. You can drive through the field and not even notice it.

  127. Well, if the first discussion of this was regarding “group think” (and apologies right off the bat if your name is “Johnson”), then I believe that cinematic classic Blazing Saddles says it best when all the Johnson’s were agreeing with Gabby Johnson during the need for a new Sheriff in town. It takes a hot head to organize a lynching; it takes an incident to justify a war.

  128. TimC says: August 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm re half-life of erroneous groupthink.

    It is not needed to decide if there is any half life, or what form it has, or its value. The amalogy I sue is more like the math of predator-prey relationships, where each knows that excessive zeal leads to self-destruction. There had been a group of people for all of my thinking years, that cries global catatrophe and tries to make moey from it. Others have lists of the main themes. I can’t recall a time when the ordinary person could sit back and relax, saying “Whew, nothing to worry about for a while now. The major problems have been solved.” To the contrary, there is an series of coexisting industries that aim to cause worry and they have an effective duration that depends on how many and which decision-makers they can convince.

    One key is to remove the ability of decision makers to profit from involvement. Much improvement is needed in conflict of interest tests in public policy.

  129. They are an old and inefficient design., probably well into their design life, so they may not last all that much longer. As for leaving them, think of the scrap value of all those steel towers. And all that copper!

  130. Geoff Sherrington says:
    August 20, 2012 at 1:06 am
    TimC says: August 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm One key is to remove the ability of decision makers to profit from involvement. Much improvement is needed in conflict of interest tests in public policy.
    ——————————-
    In the United Kingdom most decisioins are made by ministers, usually elected as Members of Parliament and then appointed to their ministerial post by the Prime Minister. Any financial activities or interests outside of their public duties are listed in a Register of Members Interests.

    As part of our custom-and-practice unwritten constitution any minister with a financial interest in the outcome of a decision is expected to say so, and take no further part in making that decision. Failure to declare such an interest is regarded as grounds for immediate resignation.

    Your system has unelected Secretaries appointed by the President, subject to approval by Congress. Perhaps a Register of Interests could be brought in for appointed decision-makers, and elected Senators, Representatives, Governers, Sheriffs, DAs etc.Whether enforced formally, or through custom and practice, they would be expected to distance themselves from any decisions in which they might be perceived to have a financial interest.

  131. SanityP says:
    August 19, 2012 at 9:49 am
    more soylent green! says:
    August 19, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Who sounds like they have been blinded by groupthink more? The ones who claim 97% of all scientists believe in man-made global warming or those who talk about the scientific method?

    Don’t know if you are being serious or if you are being sarcastic.
    Please inform the uninformed where the “97% of all scientists” -statement comes from.
    It makes me laugh everytime someone mentions the 75/77.

    No, my post isn’t a satire. Just pick up your local newspaper and read the “global warming is real” editorials and read what they say.

    Look, anybody who claims “scientific consensus” as one of the reasons supporting the AGW argument is engaging in groupthink, not to mention scientific ignorance.

  132. I’m willing to bet many of the commenters to this article are unaware of the self-referential irony. I think by most definitions that makes the post itself a very successful, if subtle, troll. Well finessed, even if it may not have been intentional.

  133. Nice discussion. I was kind of wary of the alarmism maybe 7 years ago, but held off on making an opinion. I had talked to someone helping develop democratic party strategy on energy. The rhetoric started at the point of: “the science is settled,” then advanced to analyze pros and cons of energy sources. I was pretty sure the author was just using “the science is settled” as a jumping-off point, and had not actually looked into the issue.
    I decided at that time to start reading up on the issue. After reading a few things, it became clear that MBH98 and a few other articles were central.
    I read MBH98. Well, that was a pretty good start for believing those who were saying the AGW story was full of holes. There is an awful lot of handwaving in MBH98.

    From there, my story is like others’ stories: I was reading up and thinking for myself. No, I do not get my info from Fox News. I download pdf’s, and look at data websites.
    I am a democrat because I believe there is a role for govt in some things – those things the “market” does not do well. Like fire, police, roads, public health, and public education. Also, protecting the environment from “tragedy of the commons” type destruction. At the same time, I believe in free enterprise, free speech, and the rest of the Constitution.
    The marxists have jumped on the good intentions of people like me and gotten us to accept a great range of ideas. I figured that out and got more independent-minded than ever.
    It is easy for me to consider and investigate the unintended consequences of polices that, on the face of it, seem just fine.

    Cass Sunstein has an endgame. He wants everyday people, and liberals, to be comfortable with a group of like-minded elitist intellectuals engineering society. Go glance over his essays and books.

    The groupthink idea is part of the rhetorical basis for writing off major groups that don’t think like him.

    I have never heard so much vilification of conservatives in a prez campaign, and I campaigned for McGovern. The first time around.

    It is total bash-white-male season. Are there bad white males? For us to even be asking that, and considering that, is ridiculous.
    Read some of this Sunstein stuff, and you decide whether his end-game is to have a seemingly beneficial role for govt in controlling a great deal of our lives, and the mechanisms for this.

    Nudge. Conspiracy Theorists. The Partial Constitution.

    WUWT readers: go explore a bit what this Harvard-Lawyer Regulatory Czar advocates.
    Then go read “Walden II.”

  134. Sunstein has just recently left his Regulatory Czar position at the White House. I cannot find a reason why. Does anyone know more?

  135. polistra says:
    August 19, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Nah, it’s a lot simpler than that. Power-loving people want high status. When Position X is identified with high status and Position Y is associated with low status, power-loving people will assume Position X.

    As with most destructive processes, positive feedback is involved. After a few Trend Leaders start spewing Position X, it becomes even more attractive to power-loving d-heads….
    ____________________________
    I think you have it.

    I was trained as a “Juran Facilitator” and lead group discussions. In a group all you get is a consensus with the most dominant personality in the room. After the meeting I hunted down each individual and talked to them one-on-one. There was a lot more ideas and information in the heads of those people that never ever came out in any of the meetings.

    The elite know this and that is why they use the Delphi Technique and it works so well. Everyone thinks they are the only one with a contrary opinion. Anyone with leadership ability is shut-up or made fun of [called flat earthers, denier...] Here is a video of an attempt to circumvent the Delphi Technique.

    This was the second round of meetings. The first round, in April 2011, were anti-Delphi’d in the traditional manner as described in my book, Behind The Green Mask: UN Agenda 21. The current meetings (January 2012) were designed by the facilitators to make it impossible to ask questions, and were packed with shills and insiders. After we used civil disobedience in this meeting the facilitators changed the process for subsequent meetings and allowed statements by the public ~ ROSA KOIRE: Near Riot at Delphi Meeting–Part 1

    USDA listening (snicker) sessions also used the Delphi Technique but it did not work after farmers were alerted. Wendell Berry gave a rousing speech declaring that this was the first meeting he’d been at with USDA, after decades of activism, where USDA brought armed police to protect itself…. participants continued to speak out against the implementation of NAIS in any form, even as the facilitator kept trying to elicit comments about how the program could be improved.

    We are told there is a “Consensus” on the science but we know there is not. We are told this is what “The People Want” using deceptive polls. Now Cass Sunstein is trying to tell us why there is polarization on the issue without bothering to mention that the polarization was contrived from the very start.

    Sounds like divide and conquer from the inside. While we fight over a couple of degrees in temperature “They” revamp our entire world.

  136. Thanks Gail Combs. WUWT is all about looking at evidence. So, for anyone who thinks that my description of “community organizing” (see above) is inaccurate, here is an account from a skilled practitioner.

    The day after the rally, Marty decided it was time for me to do some real work, and he handed me a long list of people to interview. Find out their self-interest, he said. That’s why people become involved in organizing-because they think they’ll get something out of it. Once I found an issue enough people cared about, I could take them into action. With enough actions, I could start to build power.
    enough actions, I could start to build power.
    Issues, action, power, self-interest. I liked these concepts.
    [...]
    Still, these were minor difficulties. Once they were overcome, I found that people didn’t mind a chance to air their opinions about a do-nothing alderman or the neighbor who refused to mow his lawn. The more interviews I did, the more I began to hear certain recurring themes.
    [...]
    I tossed my third-week report onto Marty’s desk and took a seat as he read it through.
    “Not bad,” he said when he was finished.
    “Not bad?”
    “Yeah, not bad. You’re starting to listen. But it’s still too abstract…like you’re taking a survey or something. If you want to organize people, you need to steer away from the peripheral stuff and go towards people’s centers. The stuff that makes them tick. Otherwise, you’ll never form the relationships you need to get them involved.”
    The man was starting to get on my nerves. I asked him if he ever worried about becoming too calculating, if the idea of probing people’s psyches and gaining their trust just to build an organization ever felt manipulative. He sighed.
    “I’m not a poet, Barack. I’m an organizer.”
    [...]
    …it wasn’t until I came to the end of my interviews that an opportunity seemed to present itself.
    [...]
    When I suggested that we invite the district commander to a neighborhood meeting so the community could air its concerns, everyone agreed; and as we talked about publicity
    [...]
    I told the ministers about the increased gang activity and the meeting we had planned, and passed out flyers for them to distribute in their congregations.
    [...]
    Reverend Reynolds said. “This young man, Brother Obama, has a plan to organize a meeting about the recent gang shooting.”
    [...]
    “What’s the name of your organization?” he asked me.
    “Developing Communities Project.”
    [...]
    We went forward with our police meeting, which proved a small disaster. Only thirteen people showed up, scattered across rows of empty chairs. The district commander canceled on us, sending a community relations officer instead.
    [...]
    The problem of gangs was too general to make an impression on people -issues had to be made concrete, specific, and winnable.

    Barack Obama, Dreams From My Father

    “Community organizing” is all about power, not about helping people solve important problems. Tough issues are avoided. “Winnable” issues are chosen to make the organizer look good and the group feel good. Using this rationale, addressing gang-crime has a lower priority than forcing “the neighbor who refused to mow his lawn” to submit to the will of the group and mow his lawn. Power is a drug.

    The big issue Obama finally steered his flock towards was his own election.

  137. Extremism leads to policy overreach which leads to unsustainable positions such as policy decadence. Gov. Brown is a fascinating look back into the mechanics of the fall of the Roman Empire. The sources of revenue probably began to slow around the Empire before the spending ever did.

  138. “papiertigre says: August 18, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    cui bono says:
    August 18, 2012 at 6:44 pm
    Quite right, Anthony, and those windmills look like something out of a SF/horror movie – ugh!

    We could use that to our advantage. Instead of an adorable little clown fish, we could have a cartoon sparrow, bobbing and weaving, through the propeller field. Will he make it through alive?

    A message so simple even a child will understand.”

    Great idea; the game player chooses what migrating bird he wants to be and the challenge is too fly through the windmills as flocks of other birds are ground into puffs of feathers and gore all around our hero, who can also get chopped up. For those that finally make it through the windmills, they land on the ground totally exhausted and unable to fly any further where they are promptly eaten by a coyote. The end.

  139. highflight56433 says:
    August 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm
    …dido…some folks can actually formulate their own independent thoughts and conclusions from sources not found mainstream TV drama. Maybe the rest are lazy, or are liken to follow the heard over the cliff. Sheep need us dogs to protect them from the wolves; however they do not recognize they are sheep.
    _______________________
    They also do not see the wolves for what they are. The “Fabian’s” coat of arms is a wolf in sheep clothing standing on a Tortoise. The Theme is slow undetectable progress with careful attention not to create any unwanted “galvanizing” events Close up of Fabian Society coat of arms

    This Conspiracy Theorist has this point correct.

    …The Fabians, like all socialists, are completely dedicated to the centralization of all power, in all aspects of society and government. Their primary push as been to advance the idea that the power of government, The State, is the center of society. Fabians are not above calling themselves anti-socialist, conservatives, liberals, moderates, or any other name in order to achieve their goals of centralization. They are not above joining any group that can be used to influence official and public opinion to achieve their goals and indeed, they have succeeded over the decades to do just that. The rise of The State, its well-being and the gradual increase in its power is of primary importance to the Fabians over any and all considerations for the individual. Their goal has been to wean the individual away from self-dependence and responsibility toward a dependency on The State and a sense of responsibility toward the “common good”….

    From the London School of Economics website

    …The stained glass window was designed by George Bernard Shaw in 1910 as a commemoration of the Fabian Society, and shows fellow Society members Sidney Webb and ER Pease, among others, helping to build ‘the new world’.

    Now, after a fascinating history, the window is finding a home in the heart of London at LSE, the social science university institution founded by Sidney Webb, Beatrice Webb and Shaw in 1895.

    At its first home the window was unveiled by Labour prime minister Clement Attlee, also a former LSE lecturer.

    ….[UK Prime Minister] Mr Blair spoke about the remarkable way the Fabians influenced the Labour party, not just in its creation but also in its economic, political and intellectual development. ‘Despite all the very obvious differences in policy and attitude and positioning… a lot of the values that the Fabians and George Bernard Shaw stood for would be very recognisable, at least I hope they would, in today’s Labour party.’

    He continued: ‘One of the things I think they were best at was being utterly iconoclastic about the traditional thinking that governed our country and indeed constantly, whenever a piece of conventional wisdom came out, they questioned that conventional wisdom in its fundamentals, and did so with remarkable success.’

    Mr Blair concluded that he was ‘absolutely delighted to come to this extraordinary and august centre of learning, which is similarly associated with the Fabians and the Webbs’ for such ‘a wonderful and poignant moment’.

    Tony Blair says “…a lot of the values that the Fabians and George Bernard Shaw stood for would be very recognisable…”

    So here are George Bernard Shaw’s ideas in his own words:

    The Real George Bernard Shaw

    “The moment we face it frankly we are driven to the conclusion that the community has a right to put a price on the right to live in it … If people are fit to live, let them live under decent human conditions. If they are not fit to live, kill them in a decent human way. Is it any wonder that some of us are driven to prescribe the lethal chamber as the solution for the hard cases which are at present made the excuse for dragging all the other cases down to their level, and the only solution that will create a sense of full social responsibility in modern populations?”

    Source: George Bernard Shaw, Prefaces (London: Constable and Co., 1934), p. 296.

    “We should find ourselves committed to killing a great many people whom we now leave living, and to leave living a great many people whom we at present kill. We should have to get rid of all ideas about capital punishment …

    A part of eugenic politics would finally land us in an extensive use of the lethal chamber. A great many people would have to be put out of existence simply because it wastes other people’s time to look after them.”

    Source: George Bernard Shaw, Lecture to the Eugenics Education Society, Reported in The Daily Express, March 4, 1910.

    Blair says we can see those ideas at work. Do you think he means this?

    Four patients die thirsty or starving EVERY DAY on our hospital wards show damning new statistics
    * Data shows 1,316 deaths were linked to or directly caused by dehydration and malnutrition in 2010
    * Figures are far higher than in 2000, when 862 deaths were recorded

    Top doctor’s chilling claim: The NHS kills off 130,000 elderly patients every year

    * Professor says doctors use ‘death pathway’ to euthenasia of the elderly
    * Treatment on average brings a patient to death in 33 hours
    * Around 29 per cent of patients that die in hospital are on controversial ‘care pathway’

    The Liverpool Care Pathway (or Death Pathway) allows doctors to withhold fluid and drugs with the aim of hastening the deaths of terminally ill patients. A number of doctors claim hospitals may be implementing the scheme to reduce costs or if you are old and too much trouble.

    Tens of thousands of patients with terminal illnesses are placed on a “death pathway” to help end their lives every year. However, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph, six doctors warn that hospitals may be using the controversial scheme to reduce strain on hospital resources: Tthe Letter

    The other side: Terminally ill patients are receiving good care, says National Audit however the comments seem to say otherwise. Note the commenters say they were unaware their parents were on the Liverpool Pathway. The Department of Health (DH) has denied claims that hospitals are putting increasing numbers of elderly patients on a ‘death pathway’ to hasten their demise and save NHS funds….”The decision to use the pathway should involve patients and family members, and a patient’s condition should be closely monitored.
    Note the word SHOULD we know all about weasel words like “should”

    I love this one from Huff & Puff. Where were they on this issue when Obamacare was being debated? Denying anything like this the “Liverpool Pathway” even existed as I recall.
    Doctors: U.K. Hospitals Expediting Deaths To Reduce Hospital Costs

  140. Getting back to the topic… I find the picture of the Jonah Field equally as horrifying as the wind turbines. But thank you WUWT for publishing it. I was wavering in my opposition to Shell’s plans for fracking in the Karoo but now I can see what a disaster it will be.

  141. oldfossil says:
    August 20, 2012 at 11:02 am

    “…I can see what a disaster it will be.”

    Yes, a disaster. With no benefits to offer, nor penalties for foregoing. The computer on which you typed your message itself is powered cleanly and effortlessly by Earth-friendly pixie dust and unicorn dung so hey, why worry?

  142. Drove through the Tehachapi area in June of 2011. Absolutely horrible looking landscape. I was amazed at the ugliness people will put up with to be “green”. A couple of gas fired power plants could have been installed with a small fraction of the footprint. I grew up driving along the refinery/chem plant corridor on the NJ Turnpike in the ’60′s (kids: eww, it smells! Dad: that’s the smell of money!) and I think this looks worse than NJ ever did.

  143. In 1999, Cass Sunstein wrote an article in the Harvard Law Review entitled “The Law of Group Polarization.” Its thesis was simple:

    In a striking empirical regularity, deliberation tends to move groups, and the individuals who compose them, toward a more extreme point in the direction indicated by their own predeliberation judgments.

    Oops, I guess poor Cass was never exposed to those much hated old Western Cowboy movies with their deliberative Lynch Mobs? So that he thought he was really onto something original? And perish the thought he would suddenly discover the cure, the…shudder…individualistic thinking American Cowboy himself! Or perhaps more generally, even many people’s preferred use of real science and rational principles to come to a judgment about events? Nah, to him we’re all just groups of irrational groupthinkers. Except, of course, for Cass and his own merry group of self-anointed superiorists.

  144. Henry Clark says:
    August 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Ideological tribalism is discussed well at Dr. McCarthy’s Sustainability of Human Progress site:

    “I get some very quick reactions to my main page on the sustainability of material progress. Quick reactions, whether favorable or unfavorable, cannot be based on reading the 50 or so pages. They are reactions to my attitude, which is apparent in the first paragraph. [...]

    Let’s try to get above the battles for a while and look at human ideologies from a Martian point of view. [...]

    People’s attitudes on these 10 issues tend to be strongly correlated, although logically there should be little connection between a person’s attitude to abortion and his attitude to multi-culturalism.”

    (Much more is at http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/ideology.html ).

    Quite a treasure-house! Thx. Unfortunately, I see he died last October. From the obit:

    McCarthy was known as well for wanting to bring scientific rigor to every aspect of life and for his wry, often self-deprecating sense of humor. This humor was perhaps best exemplified in a personal philosophy he termed “radical optimism” – a positive outlook so strong that he said, “Everything will be OK even if people don’t take my advice,” said daughter Susan McCarthy.

  145. Sunstein’s article is interesting. I’m not sure it explains the “reason” for polarization of the global warming issue. Since the IPCC politicized global warming and brought with it substantial funding for global warming research, the science of global warming has run off the rails into an extreme of confirmation bias.

    That others less qualified and less well-funded (ie blogosphere, WUWT, etc) might demonstrate flaws in the accepted wisdom is threatening to climate scientists. That other qualified scientists outside climate science might also demonstrate flaws in the accepted wisdom is challenging. That some climate scientists are prepared not to defend the accepted wisdom is treason.

    Yet the defence of the currently accepted AGW “wisdom” fails to satisfy those who challenge the basics of the science underpinning the “greenhouse” and nobody seems game to have a proper scientific discourse in the experimental physics lab.

    As EM Smith said, above, “the truth just is”. I’m still waiting to find out the truth of climate science and would love to see some real experiments in a physics lab to clarify questions like:
    1. If IR absorbing/emitting gases can thermalise IR radiation outside of an IR reflecting measurement chamber.
    2. If *any* known physical property of any material can be used to change equilibrium mean temperature when subject to alternate heating and cooling effects over day-length cycles.
    3. If presence of IR absorbing/emitting gases accelerate or retard thermal mixing of gas mixtures of different temperatures (especially when conduction and convection can be excluded).

  146. Lonnie Schubert quoted KIpling. I prefer FitzGerald’s version of Omar Khayyam:

    Myself when young did eagerly frequent
    Doctor and Saint and heard great Argument
    About it and about: but evermore
    Came out by that same Door as in I went.

    The rest of the poem is an inspiration to those sceptics of nihilistic inclination who think that truth may prove elusive even if people are honest.

  147. I dunno.
    Theories abound, some I simply reject without even checking (like the “human cycles” theory, which sounds deterministic). Observations and tactics are worth knowing to spot them and perhaps to use some, but context is very important.

    Some people are just eager to do something about the perceived state of the world, so easy to co-opt. In many cases it is just flailing – examples include people blaming immigrants/imports for economic problems, and environmentalists. They don’t think, and tend to conspiracy theory – “deliberation” is the wrong word as that implies thinking, mutual reinforcement and group-think are more accurate. A psychology of needing to belong is a key factor, getting one’s identify from the tribe – which leads to concluding that other tribes are inherently inferior. (Hence for example attempts to define people by superficial characteristics like race instead of “content of character”.) Closing ranks against questioners is an element of group-think, as that is expected to protect the false self-esteem the person gets from membership in the tribe. Similarly for “peer pressure” and such.

    I can point to networks of people who tend to split apart after debating, though those are free-thinking types. (Certainly heated debate herein sometimes, though we have been seeing alarmists throw others under the bus – while some still blindly support as they did for Gleick, and heavy bashing of Muller by prominent alarmists.)

    One corrective action is a dose of reality. Most likely to be effective for other than True Believers. “thingadonta” might have a point about who rises to the top – certainly the case in Marxist societies, which quickly led to cheap thugs like Lenin and Trotsky being in power (they of course were willing to use brutal force against their socialist brothers – even each other, climate alarmists use the “velvet glove” of speech suppression by various means). Lenin and Trotsky were free lunchers as criminals are, but like Hitler they got to power because many people accepted the combination of appeals to brotherhood or tribalism (nationalism) and blaming others for their troubles. “The Ominous Parallels” by Leonard Peikoff is an exhaustive examination of what enabled Hitler to gain power.

  148. My thought on this is that many well-intentioned people have set their hearts on fighting to save the world from the well-advertized danger of ‘global warming’ from anthropogenic carbon dioxide, as one of the ‘good’ things that they are going to do with their lives. Fighting this battle is one of the ways they can feel good about themselves. Thus, they may actually regard any suggestion that this battle, or portions of it, do not have to be fought as a threat to their heroic image of themselves. So they would be forced to regard anyone attacking the ‘good fight’ to be morally corrupt and being motivated by base self-interest.

    When news of Climategate first came out, I remember, in an interview, one journalist, with a tinge of fear in his voice saying something to the effect, “This misconduct by a few scientists does not mean the basic science behind man-made Global Warming is invalid.” That response suggested to me that he, personally, might find the invalidation of basic global warming dogma to be a rather inconvenient truth.

    My own view is that man may be seriously damaging the environment in many ways, but over-production of carbon dioxide is not one of them. That is based on the gradual logarithmic nature of the effect.

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