Dr. Paul Bain Responds to Critics of Use of "Denier" Term

UPDATE: Dr. Robert G. Brown of Duke University,  the commenter rgbatduke, made a response that was commented on by several here.  It is eloquent, insightful and worthy of consideration.  See below.

Dr. Paul Bain, the lead and corresponding author of the letter Promoting Pro-Environmental Action In Climate Change Deniers in Nature Climate Change  which was first discussed at WUWT here: Nature’s ugly decision: ‘Deniers’ enters the scientific literature and later here: Lord Leach of Fairford weighs in on Nature’s ‘denier’ gaffe has been busy responding to critics.  Wattsupwiththat asked permission to reprint the e-mail he was sending.  He has asked us, instead, to post the following statement:

 Thank you for your email and the courtesy of requesting permission to post my email to one of your commenters who contacted me by email about the paper. My response is on the record already on Judith Curry’s blog, and the responses to that have pointed to some necessary clarifications (e.g., including the term “anthropogenic” where necessary), and areas where further explanation seems useful. So rather than rehash some of the same debates by posting the original email, I think it would be more productive to post the following which includes clarifications/extensions (many of which I also make in Judith Curry’s blog, but spread across different comments)…

Comments about the use of the “denier” label are a fair criticism. We were focused on the main readership of this journal – climate scientists who read Nature journals, most of whom hold the view that anthropogenic climate change is real. It should also be noted that describing skepticism as denial is a term increasingly used in the social science literature on climate change (e.g. in Global Environmental Change, Journal of Environmental Psychology, Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society), and is used informally by some within the climate science community. So we were using a term that is known, used, and understood in the target audience, but which we thought  involved a stronger negative stereotype (e.g. being anti-environmental, contrarian) than skeptic. My thought was this would highlight the contrast  with the data, which suggests that you need not believe in AGW to support pro-environmental action, especially when it had certain types of (non-climate) outcomes (demonstrating a non-contrarian position). So in my mind we were ultimately challenging such “denier” stereotypes. But because we were focused on our target audience, it is true that I naively didn’t pay enough attention to the effect the label would have on other audiences, notably skeptics. Although I hope this helps explain our rationale for using the term, I regret the negative effects it has had and I intend to use alternative labels in the future.

Beyond the negative reaction to “denier”, what has been interesting in many skeptics’ responses (in emails and on blogs) is that our research is propaganda designed to change (or “re-educate”) their mind about whether AGW is real, and I’ve received many long emails about the state of climate science and how AGW has been disproven (or the lack of findings to prove it, including Joanne Nova’s email to me which she posted/linked in your blog).  Actually, the paper is not about changing anyone’s mind on whether anthropogenic climate change is real. There are also skeptics insisting that the issue is ONLY about the state of the science – whether AGW is real – but on this point I disagree. I am approaching this as a social/societal problem rather than as an “AGW reality” problem. That is, two sizeable groups have different views on a social issue with major policy implications – how do you find a workable solution that at least partly satisfies the most people?

Some climate scientists who endorse AGW seem to have assumed that the way to promote action is to convince skeptics that in fact AGW is occurring, and this has not been effective. Similarly, I don’t think skeptics will convince those who endorse AGW that they are wrong anytime soon. But the social/policy issue remains whether you believe in AGW or not. So if policies are going to be put in place (as many governments are proposing), what kinds of outcomes would make it at least barely acceptable for the most people? For our skeptic samples, actions that promoted warmth and economic/technological development were the outcomes of taking action that mattered to them (even if they thought taking action would have no effect on the climate). So our studies showed that these dimensions mattered for skeptics to support action taken in the name of addressing anthropogenic climate change. The might also be other positive outcomes of taking action we didn’t study where some common ground might be found, such as reducing pollution or reliance on foreign oil. Overall, the findings suggest that if there was closer attention to the social consequences of policies, rather than continuing with seemingly intractable debates on the reality of AGW, then we might get to a point where there could be agreement on some action – some might think the action is pointless with regard to the climate (but many other people think it will), but if it produces some other good outcomes it might be ok. Hence, if governments were able to design policies that plausibly achieved these “non-climate” goals, then this might achieve an acceptable overall outcome that satisfies the most people (although admittedly not everybody will agree).

This is the message of our paper, and I hope readers of your blog will be able to accept my regret about the label and focus on the main message. Some have described this message as naïve, but a real-world example (noted by one of our reviewers) illustrates the general point: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/science/earth/19fossil.html?pagewanted=all

Kind regards

Paul.

For those interested in getting up to speed, the HTML page for the article is here and the .pdf version with the cited works page, can be downloaded from the options box to the right of the article. The discussion at Judith Curry’s blog is here and Dr. Bain is commenting under the screen name “Paul”.  He is more likely to respond to comments there than here.

UPDATE: 

Dr. Robert G. Brown of Duke University,  the commenter rgbatduke, made a response that was commented on by several here.  It is eloquent, insightful and worthy of consideration. Dr Bain and Dr. Brown are approaching this from different perspectives.

It is pointless to point this out as I doubt Paul will read it (but I’ll do it anyway).

The tragic thing about the thoughtless use of a stereotype is that it reveals that you really think of people in terms of its projected meaning. In particular, even in your response you seem to equate the term “skeptic” with “denier of AGW”.

This is silly. On WUWT most of the skeptics do not “deny” AGW, certainly not the scientists or professional weather people (I myself am a physicist) and honestly, most of the non-scientist skeptics have learned better than that. What they challenge is the catastrophic label and the alleged magnitude of the projected warming on a doubling of CO_2. They challenge this on rather solid empirical grounds and with physical arguments and data analysis that is every bit as scientifically valid as that used to support larger estimates, often obtaining numbers that are in better agreement with observation. For this honest doubt and skepticism that the highly complex global climate models are correct you have the temerity to socially stigmatize them in a scientific journal with a catch-all term that implies that they are as morally reprehensible as those that “deny” that the Nazi Holocaust of genocide against the Jews?

For shame.

Seriously, for shame. You should openly apologize for the use of the term, in Nature, and explain why it was wrong. But you won’t, will you… although I will try to explain why you should.

By your use of this term, you directly imply that I am a “denier”, as I am highly skeptical of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (not just “anthropogenic global warming”, which is plausible if not measurable, although there are honest grounds to doubt even this associated with the details of the Carbon Cycle that remain unresolved by model or experiment). Since I am a theoretical physicist, I find this enormously offensive. I might as well label you an idiot for using it, when you’ve never met me, have no idea of my competence or the strength of my arguments for or against any aspect of climate dynamics (because on this list I argue both points of view as the science demands and am just as vigorous in smacking down bullshit physics used to challenge some aspect of CAGW as I am to question the physics or statistical analysis or modelling used to “prove” it). But honestly, you probably aren’t an idiot (are you?) and no useful purpose is served by ad hominem or emotionally loaded human descriptors in a rational discussion of an objective scientific question, is there.

Please understand that by creating a catch-all label like this, you quite literally are moving the entire discussion outside of the realm of science, where evidence and arguments are considered and weighed independent of the humans that advance them, where our desire to see one or another result proven are (or should be) irrelevant, where people weigh the difficulty of the problem being addressed as an important contributor (in a Bayesian sense) to how much we should believe any answer proposed — so far, into the realm where people do not think at all! They simply use a dismissive label such as “denier” and hence avoid any direct confrontation with the issues being challenged.

The issue of difficulty is key. Let me tell you in a few short words why I am a skeptic. First of all, if one examines the complete geological record of global temperature variation on planet Earth (as best as we can reconstruct it) not just over the last 200 years but over the last 25 million years, over the last billion years — one learns that there is absolutely nothing remarkable about today’s temperatures! Seriously. Not one human being on the planet would look at that complete record — or even the complete record of temperatures during the Holocene, or the Pliestocene — and stab down their finger at the present and go “Oh no!”. Quite the contrary. It isn’t the warmest. It isn’t close to the warmest. It isn’t the warmest in the last 2 or 3 thousand years. It isn’t warming the fastest. It isn’t doing anything that can be resolved from the natural statistical variation of the data. Indeed, now that Mann’s utterly fallacious hockey stick reconstruction has been re-reconstructed with the LIA and MWP restored, it isn’t even remarkable in the last thousand years!

Furthermore, examination of this record over the last 5 million years reveals a sobering fact. We are in an ice age, where the Earth spends 80 to 90% of its geological time in the grip of vast ice sheets that cover the polar latitudes well down into what is currently the temperate zone. We are at the (probable) end of the Holocene, the interglacial in which humans emerged all the way from tribal hunter-gatherers to modern civilization. The Earth’s climate is manifestly, empirically bistable, with a warm phase and cold phase, and the cold phase is both more likely and more stable. As a physicist who has extensively studied bistable open systems, this empirical result clearly visible in the data has profound implications. The fact that the LIA was the coldest point in the entire Holocene (which has been systematically cooling from the Holocene Optimum on) is also worrisome. Decades are irrelevant on the scale of these changes. Centuries are barely relevant. We are nowhere near the warmest, but the coldest century in the last 10,000 years ended a mere 300 years ago, and corresponded almost perfectly with the Maunder minimum in solar activity.

There is absolutely no evidence in this historical record of a third stable warm phase that might be associated with a “tipping point” and hence “catastrophe” (in the specific mathematical sense of catastrophe, a first order phase transition to a new stable phase). It has been far warmer in the past without tipping into this phase. If anything, we are geologically approaching the point where the Earth is likely to tip the other way, into the phase that we know is there — the cold phase. A cold phase transition, which the historical record indicates can occur quite rapidly with large secular temperature changes on a decadal time scale, would truly be a catastrophe. Even if “catastrophic” AGW is correct and we do warm another 3 C over the next century, if it stabilized the Earth in warm phase and prevented or delayed the Earth’s transition into cold phase it would be worth it because the cold phase transition would kill billions of people, quite rapidly, as crops failed throughout the temperate breadbasket of the world.

Now let us try to analyze the modern era bearing in mind the evidence of an utterly unremarkable present. To begin with, we need a model that predicts the swings of glaciation and interglacials. Lacking this, we cannot predict the temperature that we should have outside for any given baseline concentration of CO_2, nor can we resolve variations in this baseline due to things other than CO_2 from that due to CO_2. We don’t have any such thing. We don’t have anything close to this. We cannot predict, or explain after the fact, the huge (by comparison with the present) secular variations in temperature observed over the last 20,000 years, let alone the last 5 million or 25 million or billion. We do not understand the forces that set the baseline “thermostat” for the Earth before any modulation due to anthropogenic CO_2, and hence we have no idea if those forces are naturally warming or cooling the Earth as a trend that has to be accounted for before assigning the “anthropogenic” component of any warming.

This is a hard problem. Not settled science, not well understood, not understood. There are theories and models (and as a theorist, I just love to tell stories) but there aren’t any particularly successful theories or models and there is a lot of competition between the stories (none of which agree with or predict the empirical data particularly well, at best agreeing with some gross features but not others). One part of the difficulty is that the Earth is a highly multivariate and chaotic driven/open system with complex nonlinear coupling between all of its many drivers, and with anything but a regular surface. If one tried to actually write “the” partial differential equation for the global climate system, it would be a set of coupled Navier-Stokes equations with unbelievably nasty nonlinear coupling terms — if one can actually include the physics of the water and carbon cycles in the N-S equations at all. It is, quite literally, the most difficult problem in mathematical physics we have ever attempted to solve or understand! Global Climate Models are children’s toys in comparison to the actual underlying complexity, especially when (as noted) the major drivers setting the baseline behavior are not well understood or quantitatively available.

The truth of this is revealed in the lack of skill in the GCMs. They utterly failed to predict the last 13 or 14 years of flat to descending global temperatures, for example, although naturally one can go back and tweak parameters and make them fit it now, after the fact. And every year that passes without significant warming should be rigorously lowering the climate sensitivity and projected AGW, making the probability of the “C” increasinginly remote.

These are all (in my opinion) good reasons to be skeptical of the often egregious claims of CAGW. Another reason is the exact opposite of the reason you used “denier” in your article. The actual scientific question has long since been co-opted by the social and political one. The real reason you used the term is revealed even in your response — we all “should” be doing this and that whether or not there is a real risk of “catastrophe”. In particular, we “should” be using less fossil fuel, working to preserve the environment, and so on.

The problem with this “end justifies the means” argument — where the means involved is the abhorrent use of a pejorative descriptor to devalue the arguers of alternative points of view rather than their arguments at the political and social level — is that it is as close to absolute evil in social and public discourse as it is possible to get. I strongly suggest that you read Feynman’s rather famous “Cargo Cult” talk:

http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm

In particular, I quote:

For example, I was a little surprised when I was talking to a

friend who was going to go on the radio. He does work on cosmology

and astronomy, and he wondered how he would explain what the

applications of this work were. “Well,” I said, “there aren’t any.”

He said, “Yes, but then we won’t get support for more research of

this kind.” I think that’s kind of dishonest. If you’re

representing yourself as a scientist, then you should explain to

the layman what you’re doing–and if they don’t want to support you

under those circumstances, then that’s their decision.

One example of the principle is this: If you’ve made up your mind

to test a theory, or you want to explain some idea, you should

always decide to publish it whichever way it comes out. If we only

publish results of a certain kind, we can make the argument look

good. We must publish both kinds of results.

I say that’s also important in giving certain types of government

advice. Supposing a senator asked you for advice about whether

drilling a hole should be done in his state; and you decide it

would be better in some other state. If you don’t publish such a

result, it seems to me you’re not giving scientific advice. You’re

being used. If your answer happens to come out in the direction the

government or the politicians like, they can use it as an argument

in their favor; if it comes out the other way, they don’t publish

it at all. That’s not giving scientific advice.

Time for a bit of soul-searching, Dr. Bain. Have you come even close to living up to the standards laid out by Richard Feynman? Is this sort of honesty apparent anywhere in the global climate debate? Did the “Hockey Team” embrace this sort of honesty in the infamous Climategate emails? Do the IPCC reports ever seem to present the counter arguments, or do they carefully avoid showing pictures of the 20,000 year thermal record, preferring instead Mann’s hockey stick because it increases the alarmism (and hence political impact of the report)? Does the term “denier” have any place in any scientific paper ever published given Feynman’s rather simple criterion for scientific honesty?

And finally, how dare you presume to make choices for me, for my relatives, for my friends, for all of the people of the world, but concealing information from them so that they make a choice to allocate resources the way you think they should be allocated, just like the dishonest astronomer of his example. Yes, the price of honesty might be that people don’t choose to support your work. Tough. It is their money, and their choice!

Sadly, it is all too likely that this is precisely what is at stake in climate research. If there is no threat of catastrophe — and as I said, prior to the hockey stick nobody had the slightest bit of luck convincing anyone that the sky was falling because global climate today is geologically unremarkable in every single way except that we happen to be living in it instead of analyzing it in a geological record — then there is little incentive to fund the enormous amount of work being done on climate science. There is even less incentive to spend trillions of dollars of other people’s money (and some of our own) to ameliorate a “threat” that might well be pure moonshine, quite possibly ignoring an even greater threat of movement in the exact opposite direction to the one the IPCC anticipates.

Why am I a skeptic? Because I recognize the true degree of our ignorance in addressing this supremely difficult problem, while at the same time as a mere citizen I weigh civilization and its benefits against draconian energy austerity on the basis of no actual evidence that global climate is in any way behaving unusually on a geological time scale.

For shame.

rgb

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Graeme W

Overall, the findings suggest that if there was closer attention to the social consequences of policies, rather than continuing with seemingly intractable debates on the reality of AGW, then we might get to a point where there could be agreement on some action – some might think the action is pointless with regard to the climate (but many other people think it will), but if it produces some other good outcomes it might be ok.

While it seems like a pretty obvious conclusion, I think this is correct. People will accept action if they see a benefit for doing so. The simplest one is to promote energy efficiency in a cost-effective way. That is, find ways that save people money through reducing their energy consumption.
A simple example is an older post here at WUWT (sorry, I’m not able to find it at the moment) where our host described how he installed more energy efficient lighting in his house.
Sadly, I doubt that message will get out because there is now too much smoke from the poor use of terminology in the paper….

Jared

“It should also be noted that describing skepticism as denial is a term increasingly used in the social science literature on climate change”
So I guess if we start calling anthropogenic global warming believers ‘satanic worshipers’ more and more increasingly then it would not be offensive?

Manfred

“My thought was this would highlight the contrast with the data, which suggests that you need not believe in AGW to support pro-environmental action, especially when it had certain types of (non-climate) outcomes (demonstrating a non-contrarian position).”
Though this may be true sometimes, the opposite is the much more significant issue.
Much of so called “pro-environmental” action is known to have very limited effect on climate and even if you believe in AGW you may therefore reasonably object “pro-environmental” action.
The Kyoto protocol, for example, would have delayed warming over the next 100 years by just a few years according to AGW believers’ computations. And even Kyoto was regarded too costly for many countries to implement.

Tom G(ologist)

Thank you Dr. Bain. A very well-put and noble response. I appreciate being separated from the true ‘denier’ type. I have dedicated 40 years of my life to the study, protection and enhancement of the Earth and a good deal of that in public service protecting the public and the Earth. I hate being lumped in with ideologues and appreciate your distinction. You simply can’t dedicate your life to the Earth as I have and not care – I just have not seen any evidence to compell me to accept the catastrophic AGW hypothesis. Please understand from our perspective that as long as we are treated as a bunch of paid shill’s on the take of oil companies, we have to fight fire with fire. I also take exception with that latter characterization as I do a large amount of work as an expert witness on many matters dealing with Earth systems and I am anything BUT a paid shill.
Thanks again

Ray Hudson

It should also be noted that describing skepticism as denial is a term increasingly used in the social science literature on climate change (e.g. in Global Environmental Change, Journal of Environmental Psychology, Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society), and is used informally by some within the climate science community. So we were using a term that is known, used, and understood in the target audience
Translation: “Because lots of other people are using it, we think that makes it OK (right)”. Let me see….what did my parents tell me about that line of reasoning? Moreover, just because other sectors of society make decisions to be uncivil towards others, I thought what held science apart from them was that we did not make things personal in this way. Yes, I guess Post-Modern Science is in full force now… Sad.

… if governments were able to design policies that plausibly achieved these “non-climate” goals, then this might achieve an acceptable overall outcome that satisfies the most people …

There’s a term for this approach. It is calledfocused adaptation. Google “focused adaptation” (with the quotes), and check out the first entry, for example:

Reducing Vulnerability to Climate-Sensitive Risks is the Best Insurance Policy at http://www.cato-unbound.org/2008/08/17/indur-goklany/reducing-vulnerability-to-climate-sensitive-risks-is-the-best-insurance-policy/

ClimateSkeptik

“That is, two sizeable groups have different views on a social issue with major policy implications – how do you find a workable solution that at least partly satisfies the most people?”
Tact and Diplomacy 101: You can start by not referring to one of the groups as deniers.

JinOH

Oh I see, he said he was sorry (sorta, kinda) and it’s all good now. I for one am really sick of these greenies b!tch slapping those who question the science and tell me to put an ice bag on it later.
Done.

Stonemason

“So our studies showed that these dimensions mattered for skeptics to support action taken in the name of addressing anthropogenic climate change.”
I read this reasoning as based from the point that AGW is a solid fact, no matter how may times the author tries to deny it. The subtle language is that anyone who thinks the science is NOT settled needs to be placated in some manner. This is rather insulting, in my opinion. If policy is based on fact, most people will support it, if policy is based on emotion, only half of the people will support it; this does not apply to AGW alone, take a look at other policies (health-care, poverty, drugs).

Saaad

What he still doesn’t seem to grasp is that the vast majority of sceptics accept the notion of AGW, including Jo Nova. The argument is about the size of any warming and how catastrophic – or otherwise – the effects will be. In this sense, his use of the word “denier” is not simply perjorative: it’s also completely inaccurate.

Jim Clarke

If it is a good idea, then it is a good idea. Sell it on its merits and leave AGW out of it. If the only ‘good’ it does is prevent a mythical climate catastrophe, and in the process, costs more and is less efficient, we will not buy it. I would estimate that 98% of all proposals put forth by warmists fall in the latter category.

Streetcred

That thread at JC’s blog disintegrated into twaddle pretty quickly … why do warmies respond in such a puerile manner ? I’m sure “Paul” won’t be joining in to that nonsense.
Dr Bain, As you now accept that the label “denier” is widely and deeply offensive, do you plan to write a follow up letter in Nature to retract your offensive language or do you think that a revision to the paper might be in order ? I might suggest that a paper examining the groupthink phenomenon and potential for Stockholm Syndrome associated CAGW would be a positive contribution to the literature.
From Wiki … “Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.”

Jared wrote: “So I guess if we start calling anthropogenic global warming believers ‘satanic worshipers’ more and more increasingly then it would not be offensive?”
I prefer the term “climate commies.”

Jared says:
June 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm
“It should also be noted that describing skepticism as denial is a term increasingly used in the social science literature on climate change”
So I guess if we start calling anthropogenic global warming believers ‘satanic worshipers’ more and more increasingly then it would not be offensive?
========================================
Apparently it wouldn’t be, but I just call them Totalitarian Malthusian Marxists. It’s apt.

The real question is: do people have the right to self-designate? If not, then anyone can call certain melanin-enhanced folks n!ggers, and who’s to complain?
That is, of course, ridiculous. Therefore, pejoratives like “deniers” are just as objectionable. Call us exactly what we are: scientific skeptics, or climate realists. Skeptics are the only honest kind of scientists, no? But the Kool Aid drinkers who believe that CO2 is gonna getcha are no more or less than the equivalent of Scientologists, and they have no right to label the rest of us the same as Holocaust deniers.

Miss Grundy

[SNIP: Miss Grundy, provide a link or two where that term is actually used in the social science literature in Europe and I’ll approve the comment, otherwise, no. -REP]

TimTheToolMan

“Some climate scientists who endorse AGW seem to have assumed that the way to promote action is to convince skeptics that in fact AGW is occurring, and this has not been effective. Similarly, I don’t think skeptics will convince those who endorse AGW that they are wrong anytime soon.”
He just doesn’t get it at an alarmingly fundamental level. Skeptics aren’t trying to convince scientists they are wrong, they are trying to make the scientists prove they are right.
So far the scientists seem to be content with flawed reasoning and methods, non-science (ie models) and what appears to be a good measure of confirmational bias when formulating “experiments” and then interpreting the results.

davidmhoffer

Dr Bain;
1. The summation of your article and the email posted above is that having failed to convince skeptics that CAGW exists, the world should turn to alternative reasons for taking the same action. In other words, having failed miserably to convince us with the facts, you’re proposing to trick us into doing what you want anyway.
2. The term was coined for the express purpose of discrediting those who disagree that CAGW is a problem. It is an odious strategy with no merit in either a science discussion or a social policy discussion. You’r express strategy of trying to find “other reasons” for the rest of us to do what the alarmists want says much about your disregard and disdain for the opinions of skeptics.
3. Beware the law of unintended consequences. The “science” that supports CAGW is so twisted out of recognition from actual science that words fail me in describing the enormity of the problem. If you seek “common ground” in which one side has chosen a course of action based on flawed science, convincing the other side to go along may well result in consequences you had not envisioned and may well be more negative for society than the problem supposedly being solved.
This last point Dr Bain, is the most important. Good decisions are founded upon a firm understanding of the facts. Absent such an understanding, the actions we take are far more likely to be ill advised than beneficial. I argue against taking any action on the basis of bad science, and the notion that I can be manipulated into going along with the crowd by finding alternative means of persuasion is as insulting and as dangerous as the d*ni*r label itself.

Ian H

… describing skepticism as denial is a term increasingly used in the social science literature on climate change (e.g. in Global Environmental Change, Journal of Environmental Psychology, Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society), and is used informally by some within the climate science community. So we were using a term that is known, used, and understood in the target audience …

“Everybody does it” is no excuse.

I am approaching this as a social/societal problem rather than as an “AGW reality” problem.
That is, two sizeable groups have different views on a social issue with major policy implications – how do you find a workable solution that at least partly satisfies the most people?

Define “the problem”. You seem to think the problem is persuading sceptics to go along with the program. You are starting with the “solution” and looking for justifications. This is not science. This is an exercise in Machievellian political strategizing and I am astonished that it should be published in a scientific journal like nature.

Some climate scientists who endorse AGW seem to have assumed that the way to promote action is to convince skeptics that in fact AGW is occurring, and this has not been effective.

Climate scientists shouldn’t be trying to “promote action”. Their job is to supposedly to study the climate. The political capture of climate scientists who speak of “the cause” and seek justfications rather than answers has lead to the current distrust of climate science and a decline in the trust of science overall. These corrupted scientists are the real problem.

… Hence, if governments were able to design policies that plausibly achieved these “non-climate” goals, then this might achieve an acceptable overall outcome that satisfies the most people (although admittedly not everybody will agree).

How is this deserving of publication in nature? This is not science. It is political strategy. It is propaganda. You claim to want to go beyond the question of what influence man may have on the climate. But that IS the science. What is left once you discard this question is naked ugly politics of the worst kind. At the risk of invoking Godwin;’s law, if this is science then Goebbels was a scientist

David

The Virginian said, ‘When you call me that, smile.” The kind of people who use ‘Denier’ in the climate debate are not smiling, even when they try to justify their position as Dr Bain does.
I felt that ‘Denier’ was originally introduced into the climate debate by non-scientists intending to denigrate their opponents. The word was introduced in a historical era in which the term ‘Denier’ linked immediately, at gut level, to Holocaust denial. ‘Denier’ was introduced into the climate debate to denigrate persons who dared to disagree with what was becoming orthodoxy by linking reservations on AGW to Holocaust denial. I don’t have the time or skills to track down the introduction of the term though I would be interested to know who first sank to that particular level. We can disbelieve in a deity or disbelieve in human rights without being called Deniers by the leaders of the pro-deity and/or pro-human rights groups, presumably those leaders have more maturity and wisdom than do the leaders of the pro-AGW group.
David

Ed Barbar

I get it. So, the facts aren’t strong enough to convince them, but we really want these policies to go through. So let’s find some way to manipulate the proles into what we want to do.
Great going, Dr. Bain. We are definitely heading back to the ages when the Monks get to speak their own language, but the proles don’t really get to know. Disgusting.

Don

I often think that all this arguing about AGW and whether CO2 is a pollutant, etc is a huge waste of time and effort.
First, no one is going to dial back the economy. That’s not gonna happen. People will take up arms rather than be forced into the lifestyle proposed by the Greens. Myself included.
Even if they did it would have zero impact simply due to the third world alone. In short, IF AGW is real, then we are screwed because man is not going to stop doing what causes it.
Sooooo…any reasonable person would ask themselves, if we can’t make people change, what can we do to accommodate their demand for energy and at the same time drastically reduce CO2 output? We all know the answer to that. We have it, it’s here now and it can only become safer and more economical in the future. But the very same people who are whining about AGW are the ones who almost killed this technology.
The ONLY thing that can possible be done is to go full scale nuclear. With new, per-certified designs, smaller plants, etc, nuclear can be safe, reliable and last thousands of years.
Will Dr. Bain spend less time and money trying to convince people to buy a Pirus and more time and money encouraging governments and people to embrace nuclear? If he is serious about a solution he will. If not, then either he’s not serious, or just wants to ride the Government gravy train as long as he can.

It stands repeating in case we’ve forgotten that the term Climate Denier was taken solely for the reason that it sounded like Holocaust Denier. So it is intrinsically repellent, and, indeed, ghastly. They use the insulting and provocative term to demean us. It is gratuitous, and fully unnecessary as there are other well-known terms to use to describe us (as skeptic).
Some skeptics show signs of acceptance of the denier term, or of being inured to it. I say that should end. Don’t let the nasty warmists get away with that anymore. Hold the dastardly bums’ feet to the fire. Work to somehow help arrange for their comeuppance.

Thrasher

It seems there is a big disconnect with what many believe is a “skeptic” in the CAGW camp. Most skeptics actually believe in a level AGW, so you don’t have to convince them that AGW exists. Most of them, however, are not buying the CAGW scenarios.
Anthropogenic Global Warming and Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming are two very different brands of vodka.

eyesonu

Anthony, the link “here” to Curry’s blog gets me there but seems something is amiss. Something seems to be wrong with the link or formatting when I get there. I used the link under “lukewarmers” and all was well. Sorry I don’t know enough to help.
Paul Bain is getting hammered over at J Curry’s in the comments. Count was 559 when I left.
He’s a slick talker (commenter) but I’m not buying what he’s selling. In a sense he reminds me of Myles Allen and I didn’t buy his BS either. I have another thought but will keep the cat in the bag until we see how it goes with him.
[REPLY: Thanks. The link is fixed. -REP]

timetochooseagain

My issue isn’t that the paper is about “re-educating” people that “AGW is real” but rather that it is taken as a given-as “scientific” that a particular policy view is desirable to be encouraged. The study is less pro-AGW propoganda than it is political advocacy.
It is decided that disbelief in AGW might lead people not to be “pro environment” and therefore it is desirable get such people to be “pro environment” by appealing to them in other ways. What is appalling about this is that “pro environment” really means is that one favors the use of coercive government power to “protect the environment” and the paper is basically a campaign strategy memo explaining how to get people to favor this even if they are skeptical about AGW. That is entirely inappropriate for a “science” journal. It would be as if I tried to get a paper published in a science journal, referring to “deniers” of the benefits of low marginal tax rates, and then proposed ways to convince those who doubt those benefits to support my tax proposals anyway. Left wing readers of the science publication would, rightly, be greatly offended that this was allowed to be published as if it were science and not advocacy.

only me

Jared wrote: “So I guess if we start calling anthropogenic global warming believers ‘satanic worshipers’ more and more increasingly then it would not be offensive?”
From reading the screeds of many of the main NGO’s which push ‘green’ agendas, WWF, Greenpeace, Sierra Club etc, it seems that one theme they have in common is that of eugenics, reducing the population of Gaia by one means or other, often compelled. Thus, my choice for a name for those who swear by the tenets of these and similar organizations is radical eugenicists.
Is this offensive? Nothing there reminiscent of the Holocaust?

If the word “denier” has been overused to the extent that it no longer conjures up images of Nazi atrocities, then I feel it should be applied to those who deny that current climate change is natural, just as all climate change preceding it has been. I suppose Dr. Bain would also apply the “denier” label to the late Dr. H. H. Lamb, whose encyclopedic works such as “Climatic History and the Future” have no place for catastrophic anthropogenic climate change. Dr. Lamb, founder of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, would be appalled at how deeply his lifelong pursuit of climate science and knowledge has fallen. If deniers we be, we are in good company.

Mark

The true believers remain incapable of ’getting it’. Obviously Dr. Bain feels his entreaty is a reasonable appeal to find common ground. However, I read it as ”We should find a reasonable middle ground between leprechaun scientists and leprechaun deniers so that we can mitigate the global leprechaun infestation with policy proscriptions that are acceptable to both sides.”
The null hypothesis remains: There. Are. No. Leprechauns.That’s square one. Until you deal with that little issue you can’t just skip ahead to subsequent steps.

temp

“That is, two sizeable groups have different views on a social issue with major policy implications – how do you find a workable solution that at least partly satisfies the most people?”
Translated:
How can we invent propaganda/focus tested verbiage that will shut skeptics up while we force policies on them that can completely unproven in science but we believe are “correct”.
“So if policies are going to be put in place (as many governments are proposing), what kinds of outcomes would make it at least barely acceptable for the most people? For our skeptic samples, actions that promoted warmth and economic/technological development were the outcomes of taking action that mattered to them (even if they thought taking action would have no effect on the climate). So our studies showed that these dimensions mattered for skeptics to support action taken in the name of addressing anthropogenic climate change. […] Hence, if governments were able to design policies that plausibly achieved these “non-climate” goals, then this might achieve an acceptable overall outcome that satisfies the most people (although admittedly not everybody will agree). ”
Once again “we are doing research into the easiest way to create propaganda that will allow us to force policies through that suit our agenda”.
This guy has openly admitted the the science doesn’t matter and that policies based on non-science and ignorance will be pushed… and his goal is to figure out how best to push these goal without causing a huge out cry.
Once again the science is “settled” there is no room for debate the doomsday cult has spoken and you will accept it without question.

RobertInAz

To amplify Saaad – he makes the same mistake throughout the article and here “…most of whom hold the view that anthropogenic climate change is real…” Their criteria was:
– 1 humans were contributing substantially to climate change
– 2 climate change was occurring, but that humans were not contributing substantially to it (119)
– 3 did not believe the climate was changing.(57)
Everyone in 2 & 3 is – in his world – is lumped together as a denier. He says that he understands that 2 includes AGW deniers and CAGW skeptics, but the rhetoric he used here and his team used in the article uses the term “AGW is real”, never “AGW is significant.”
It is likely that of the 176 folks they labelled deniers and attributed the [belief] that AGW is not real, most would say that AGW is not significant.

RobertInAz

Sorry,
To me, this is a huge blind spot. I wonder if any of the four authors argued for use of “..AGW is significan”t instead of “…AGW is real” and if yes, what the decision making behind that rhetorical decision was.
It may by that believers of this type simply do not understand the distinction.

Dave Dodd

First, stop calling models “science.” Instead, produce empirical data supporting your theory. If no such data exist, the theory must be changed or abandoned. That is the basis of science, Anything else is groupthink, out of which flows denigrating comments about those who disagree with your theory. I believe the d-word qualifies as one of those denigrating terms.

RobertInAz

Sorry #2 lots of types:
the r rhetoric –> the rhetoric
attributed the believe –> attributed the belief
“..AGW is significan”t –> “..AGW is significant” i
It may by that –> It may be that
Going to bed – I am very distressed this got published.

Clearly Dr. Bain is the sort of well meaning idiots who treat rhetoric as magical thinking, that if they come up with the right magical incantation, that their opponents will suddenly go, “OK, sure, here’s my property, free speech, and other natural rights, silly me, what was I thinking, because you MEAN WELL.”
Dr Bain, you need to realize that it is BECAUSE we know the sort of policies you and your kind want to implement that we know your AGW arguments are full of bogosity, and are only meant to bamboozle the gullible into surrendering their freedom to global socialist government. There is NOTHING you can say or do to make us buy into allowing any of that. AGW is pseudoscience invented as a vehicle to push pre-agreed policies, not the reverse, and we know that you know that we know that.

William McClenney

[SNIP: Uhhh… WM, did you post this to the wrong thread, maybe? -REP]

Well, okay, I’ll allow that he may not be evil. Maybe he’s just not all that bright, or maybe he was writing a sociology paper in which he didn’t understand the social implications of the label….. that could be it……. . He didn’t mean to insult, belittle, and marginalize people, it just came out that way.
Paul, no worries. At least you didn’t wonder about the social implications of the tattooing idea, or why we didn’t laugh at the snuff film about blowing up skeptics.
But, you did ask, “how do you find a workable solution that at least partly satisfies the most people?”
The answer is you don’t. These people don’t care about the climate, and have no more concern about it than they do about the sun coming up tomorrow. All one has to do is to look at the alleged solutions to the climate non-problem. Right now, they’re down at Rio proposing that we get some sort of global governance, and that we redistribute our wealth, and that we’ve got to somehow destroy our industrial base. Oddly, while climate change has taken a bit of second billing in Rio, they’re discussing other difficulties, such as social justice, food poverty, and water issues. ….. oddly the solutions remain the same. Isn’t that magical? It doesn’t matter what the problem is, the solution is to lose personal liberty, national autonomy, redistribute the wealth, and destroy the industrial economic base!
Gosh, these magical solutions seem vaguely familiar….. it seems there were some other ills to which the solutions were exactly the same! How magical!

Mike Wryley

The fascist left has always excelled at marketing their crap by marginalizing the opposition in terms that mirror their own activities. If any group deserves the moniker of denier, it would be the CAGW crowd, who deny facts, deny historical records, deny science and deny truth. While the term Inquisitor may be too arcane for most folks, it is apropos, because people of Dr. Ban’s persuasion have no issue in labeling folks as apostates, heretics and witches.

vigilantfish

“Overall, the findings suggest that if there was closer attention to the social consequences of policies, rather than continuing with seemingly intractable debates on the reality of AGW, then we might get to a point where there could be agreement on some action”
—————
I have not read the article, but I found the letter to be highly confusing, with references to desirable outcomes such as ‘warmth’ and technological development. Warmth in what context? Presumably adequate heating in cold climates? Given the anti-development, anti-technological and regressive goals of the CAGW shills, versus the skeptics’ humanist and realist objections to these same goals, I am perplexed by Dr. Bain’s contention that he is aiming to get a majority of skeptics and believers to agree on social goals at all. The whole letter is vague and lacks any specified examples, but the link points to examples of people who campaign for solutions such as building wind turbines. Yikes!
I would suggest to Dr. Bain that he would be better off talking to systems engineers about the economic and physical realities of green ‘solutions’ before trying to convert skeptics. He’s got about as firm a grasp of reality as the author of a book I noticed in the university bookstore today, titled “Creating a Carbon-Free Home” – presumably by getting rid of all carbon-based life-forms or food or products from within the home and any wood or other organic materials in its construction (let alone the links to CO2-generating energy consumption which I suppose the author intends by this ridiculous title).

Dr. Bain: Does the term “obfuscation” ring a bell? If not, then how about “Gobbledegook”? Your response is the best attempt I’ve seen at clinging to a crumbling cliff while attempting to say everything is tickety-boo. Let’s face it. You’ve been outed, and your message is not a clarification, but a squirmy rewording of the state of thought in your ‘target audience’. Amazing.

Pablo an ex Pat

I so much agree with many that have posted before.
Pick any name or a stereotype to describe those of us who intelligently disagree with AGW that you wish to Dr Bain. It makes no difference. The case is not proven. “Remedies” aren’t needed for a problem that hasn’t been proven to actually exist.
There is in fact ample evidence to the contrary that it does not. The “homogenization” and, to be plain spoken “trickery”, that can be easily seen to have occurred with the manipulation of the Surface Station Temperature record should be enough to convince a disinterested observer that something is badly wrong here. You don’t have to be Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein to see it.
People who believe that the AGW “problem” exists in face of any reasonable analysis of an alternate hypothesis are actually hurting humanity by funneling funding away from solutions to real problems. And, no, I really don’t care how you dress it up. You are not correct in either your use of words or your analysis of the issue.

RobertInAz says:
June 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm
Sorry #2 lots of types:
the r rhetoric –> the rhetoric
attributed the believe –> attributed the belief
“..AGW is significan”t –> “..AGW is significant” i
It may by that –> It may be that
Going to bed – I am very distressed this got published.
=================================================
You know, I find that if I drink enough beer, my distress over typo’s and grammatical faux pas’ diminishes. Just a little helpful hint to get you through the rough spots!

Manfred

A bad case of wandering goal posts, albeit framed graciously in confabulation.

I am with jared on this. If deniers is a proper term in those circles because they have used it to demean sceptics, why not call alarmists devil worshippers and we can then apply his terrible logic correctly. So from now on, let’s call them all devil worshippers and whenever we post or otherwise talk on sceptical blogs they will be referred to as such which is only proper.
And to make it all ok we just give a wimpy appology whenever some devil worshipper gets offended.
I am only slightly sarcastic on that score.

spinifers

“I am approaching this as a social/societal problem rather than as an “AGW reality” problem. That is, two sizeable groups have different views on a social issue with major policy implications – how do you find a workable solution that at least partly satisfies the most people?”
The solution to this is simple: individual liberty. That won’t satisfy the die-hard socialist greenies, but they’re a small minority anyway.
Is ‘greenie’ offensive? Sorry if so. I never cared much about being called a ‘denier’ or anything either; I actually understand what he’s saying about it being a convenient term that people understand the definition of (though I understand the offense too).

George E. Smith;

So he’s approaching it not as a climate science issue, but as a “social societal ” issue.
I presume that social science is a discipline about which the man is as ignorant as any person off the street.
So he should confine his remarks to things he is competent to rander a credible position on.

Some of the problem comes directly from their camp.
Science advances through the discussion of thoughts from both sides of a problem.
Yet we’re told which journals are to be read (and which ones are useless), and which scientists we are to believe (and which ones are “crackpots”).
Science advances from the gathering of data, proper usage of the data, timely submission of papers, sharing of data, accepting criticism about faults in papers, and withdrawing papers that are found to be lacking.
Yet we seem to see all the criticism mounted against those who dare to write articles against AGW (harsh peer reviews, threats to journals and editors who accept papers, blog postings with selectively edited comments, etc). Some papers get quick review and submission. Some have to run the gauntlet.
We see repeated refusals for the data (even from established scientists and educators). We’re told that data gathered with public grants are the possession of the scientists. We see journals refuse to follow their own submission rules about archiving data. We’re kept behind the paywalls.
And yet we’re the “deniers”?
Once again, the question arises – just what are we denying?

TomRude

“Overall, the findings suggest that if there was closer attention to the social consequences of policies, rather than continuing with seemingly intractable debates on the reality of AGW, then we might get to a point where there could be agreement on some action.”
==
How about that! How convenient Dr. Bain to move from the science to some supposedly responsible action affecting the social realm. Science contrary to your assertion does not support AGW, that is, observation science not post modern science made from computer simulations geared to show only one scenario. In fact science has yet to establish that we live through an unprecedented period on the climatic scale. The Gergis at al. 2012 affair is yet another demonstration that the same tricks are used every time to produce the desired result. Yet every time, these are exposed and debunked. The recent post at WUWT showing the Danish maps of Arctic Sea Ice showed clearly (uncertainties accounted for) that Arctic sea ice shrinking is not a proxy of Global Warming. We could also insist on the mode of atmospheric circulation as described by Marcel Leroux demonstrating the fallacy of the Global warming argument through the understanding of meteorological data. Finally, if anything Climategates have exposed nefarious behaviors that would have no reasons of exist had the science been clean and obvious.
Since science is still debated, in a climate of intimidation, monopoly despite having been told a long time ago that it was settled, force is to admit that the entire pyramidal scheme that was supposedly backed up by AGW science has no foundation. It is only propped up by the billions of vested interests in all derivatives of the CO2 scheme and now that post modern science has been unmasked for what it is -a pretext-, the true face of political activism, the social sciences in which you pulled your “denier” term, is showing up, eagerly expecting that after years of brainwashing, fear mongering, propaganda spewed on the masses through main stream media -often linked to vested green interests Thomson Reuters for instance-, that “action” will come thanks to uneducated zealots, incapable of understanding the science, eagerly parroting arguments of authority and willing to serve their new masters. Science is either right or wrong but morals can be conveniently argued. Anyone having read the Red Wheel by Solzhenitsyn would instantly recognize the signature of a manufactured revolution and the role of the media in conditioning the populace.
My dear Dr. Bain, your article participates of this shameful submission to the green powers and nothing in your letter here can excuse your complicity in helping establish this increasingly totalitarian society. You want action regardless of science being debated: the mere idea of science, the approximation of science is now enough and despite waving excuses hiding behind soft social and political sciences, you wish to enable the program. Granted, you try to divide in order to conquer, between the good skeptics, portrayed as a reasonable person ready to collaborate if they can be convinced there is something for them and the bad deniers… The very same techniques were used during the Occupation 1940-1944, Doctor to turn people in, to recruit people… After reading your prose, it looks as if the question is not “if” but “when” are we going to see coercive measures to “convince” skeptics should they resist the first wave of enticement?
No Dr. Bain you insult our intelligence by thinking our opposition is a matter of vocabulary. You try to make a career at it, gain some brownie points in the publication index while putting your name on the proper side of the equation for the future. It is the low key servility message of your paper that is disgusting, hiding behind policies that governments want to introduce as if these were a “fait accompli”–when in fact it was the very IPCC goal to help governments formulate these policies, quite a vicious circle-. If “non climate” policies are now the mediated goal you’d like to see emerge, you basically expose your friends backpedalling: no more catastrophic global warming, no more climatic goals, just societal change, the catalyst being at will Earth climate, Biodiversity, Water etc… switching them as the plan is implemented or exposed.
I’ll finish by quoting Giuseppe Tomasi in Principe de Lampedusa: “If we want everything to remain the same, let’s work at changing everything”. Indeed, forcing a well crafted change upon others is the best way to control them, hardly a surprise when one considers the quality, names and ranks of those who are mobilizing to “save the planet”.

cui bono

“So we were using a term that is known, used, and understood in the target audience..”, Including the editors of climate science journals, obviously.
No doubt editorial meetings are very fair – “ok, how do we sock it to those denier scum this issue?”

eyesonu

James Sexton says:
June 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm
You know, I find that if I drink enough beer, my distress over typo’s and grammatical faux pas’ diminishes. Just a little helpful hint to get you through the rough spots!
=====================
I find that if I drink enough beer I make twice as many typos and worry half as much.
Thars some mathamaticle relationsshit there but i cant figur it out now. 😉