“Pseudoscience is embraced, it might be argued, in exact proportion as real science is misunderstood”… Except in the case of climate change.

sagan1Guest post by David Middleton

This item on Real Clear Science caught my eye today…

What Causes Science Denial?  Steven Novella, Neurologica Blog
Dr. Novella discussed another paper which found that skepticism of the so-called scientific consensus regarding climate change cannot be explained by a lack of scientific literacy.  (The other recent paper was discussed here.)

Carl Sagan was fond of saying that, “Pseudoscience is embraced, it might be argued, in exact proportion as real science is misunderstood.” That was the conventional wisdom among skeptics at the time (quote from Demon Haunted World, published in 1997) – that the problem of pseudoscience or science-denial was essentially one of information deficit. Correct the deficit, and the science-denial goes away. We now know that the real situation is far more complex.

To reduce the acceptance of pseudoscience or the rejection of real science, we need to do more than just promote scientific literacy. We also need to understand what is driving the pseudoscience, and we need to give critical thinking skills.


They found that climate change denial was predicted mainly by political ideology, but not by low scientific literacy. Vaccine rejection was predicted by low scientific literacy and low faith in science, and also by religiosity and moral purity. Distrust of GM food was predicted by low scientific literacy and low faith in science. Neither vaccine or GM food rejection were predicted by political ideology.



Climate change is truly an exceptional science.  It has been granted exceptions to the null hypothesis, the scientific method, and now it has clearly been granted an exception to basic logic.


“Pseudoscience is embraced, it might be argued, in exact proportion as real science is misunderstood.”

― Carl SaganThe Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark


Amazingly, Carl Sagan wrote The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark nine years after Al Gore and James Hansen invented Gorebal Warming.

In at least two recent papers, endorsement of the so-called scientific consensus that humans have been the primary drivers of recent climate change (AGW) wasn’t well-correlated with scientific literacy.   Hence a special pleading: Climate science isn’t embraced, it might be argued, in exact proportion as real science is understood because conservatives are stupid.

In Not All Skepticism Is Equal: Exploring the Ideological Antecedents of Science Acceptance and Rejection, Rutjens et al., found the following:

Many topics that scientists investigate speak to people’s ideological worldviews. We report three studies—including an analysis of large-scale survey data—in which we systematically investigate the ideological antecedents of general faith in science and willingness to support science, as well as of science skepticism of climate change, vaccination, and genetic modification (GM). The main predictors are religiosity and political orientation, morality, and science understanding. Overall, science understanding is associated with vaccine and GM food acceptance, but not climate change acceptance. Importantly, different ideological predictors are related to the acceptance of different scientific findings. Political conservatism best predicts climate change skepticism. Religiosity, alongside moral purity concerns, best predicts vaccination skepticism. GM food skepticism is not fueled by religious or political ideology. Finally, religious conservatives consistently display a low faith in science and an unwillingness to support science. Thus, science acceptance and rejection have different ideological roots, depending on the topic of investigation.

Speaking as a small-r republican scientist, who believes in God, but rarely goes to church, I can categorically state that I have no more “faith” in science than I have “faith” in my engineers scale of box of Verithin colored pencils.  Nor do I “support science”.  I’m  not even sure that it’s grammatically possible to “support science”.  Science is a process, it is a tool.  When it is properly employed, it works.  It requires neither faith nor support.

Both Rutjens et al., 2017 (R17) and Drummond and Fishchoff, 2017 (DF17) found no correlation between acceptance of GMO foods with either politics or religion.  DF17 found no correlation between acceptance of nanotechnology with either politics or religion.  R17 found that increased scientific literacy was correlated with acceptance of vaccinations and GMO foods.  However, neither study found a strong correlation between acceptance of AGW and scientific literacy.

This is from DF17:


“As scientific literacy goes up to the right, conservatives are equally likely to know what scientists have concluded and less likely to believe that themselves.”

Firstly, this does not demonstrate “a big gap between what scientists understand and what the public thinks it knows.”  The two panels in the graph comprise a non sequitur to that “big gap.”  The first panel has nothing to do with the supposed scientific consensus on climate change (humans are responsible for more than half of the warming since 1950).  This is as bad as Doran & Kendall Zimmerman in its flawed logical reasoning.  Accepting the assertion that humans are primarily responsible for climate change does not follow from knowing that carbon dioxide is a so-called greenhouse gas.

As a professional geologist, I know the answer to the first multiple choice question is “carbon dioxide” and the answer to the second question is “mostly because of natural patterns in the Earth’s environment.”  There is no logical requirement for the first answer to lead to “mostly because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels.”  Carbon dioxide can cause temperatures to rise without being the primary driver, or even a significant driver, of climate change.

Oddly enough, Doran & Kendall Zimmerman found that a majority of academic & government economic geologists (53%) agree with me (they only surveyed academic & government scientists.  They excluded all Earth Scientists working in private sector businesses. The two key questions were:

1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

I would answer risen to #1 and my answer to #2 would depend on the meaning of “significant contributing factor.” If I realized it was a “push poll,” I would answer “no.”

Interestingly, economic geologists and meteorologists were the most likely to answer “no” to question #2…

The two areas of expertise in the survey with the smallest percentage of participants answering yes to question 2 were economic geology with 47% (48 of 103) and meteorology with 64% (23 of 36).

The authors derisively dismissed the opinions of geologists and meteorologists…

It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.

No discipline has a better understanding the “nuances” than meteorologists and no discipline has a better understanding of the “scientific basis of long-term climate processes” than geologists do.

Unless geologists are inherently more conservative than other scientists, this kind of blows a hole in their special pleading fallacy on behalf of climate science.  Lefsrud & Meyer 2012 (LM12) analyzed a 2008 survey of APEGA, the organization responsible for certifying and licensing professional geoscientists and engineers in Alberta.  They found that 64% of geoscientists rejected the so-called consensus for various reasons, with climate change being overwhelmingly natural leading the pack.


LM12 indicates that the polarization is more along the lines of private sector vs. government, with geoscientists being even more skeptical than the overall oil & gas industry.

What drives the skepticism among geoscientists?  LM12 categorized the responses as:


64% of APEGA geoscientists reject the so-called consensus for many different reasons.  70% either rejected or were skeptical of climate models and the assertion that it is settled science.  When 70% of a group of scientists reject the primary evidence for AGW, climate models, you have a scientific problem, not a political problem.

The polarization with scientific literacy is more likely to be driven by the nature of the scientific literacy rather than politics.  As Kuhn wrote,

“Practicing in different worlds, the two groups of scientists see different things when they look from the same point in the same direction. Again, that is not to say that they can see anything they please. Both are looking at the world, and what they look at has not changed. But in some areas they see different things, and they see them in different relations one to the other. That is why a law that cannot even be demonstrated to one group of scientists may occasionally seem intuitively obvious to another.”

–Thomas Kuhn, 1962. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Vol. II, No. 2 p. 150

Petroleum geologists tend to be sedimentary geologists and sedimentary geology is essentially a combination of paleogeography and paleoclimatology. Depositional environments are defined by physical geography and climate. We literally do practice in a different world, the past. Geologists intuitively see Earth processes as cyclical and also tend to look at things from the perspective of “deep time.” For those of us working the Gulf of Mexico, we “go to work” in a world defined by glacioeustatic and halokinetic  processes and, quite frankly, most of us don’t see anything anomalous in recent climate changes.


184 thoughts on ““Pseudoscience is embraced, it might be argued, in exact proportion as real science is misunderstood”… Except in the case of climate change.

  1. “1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

    2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”

    These questions are meaningless. I could answer the first one as either risen or constant, depending on what “relatively constant” means, and the second one yes and no. You simply cannot ask questions like these and claim they give a meaningful result as they are completely open to interpretation. And of course they are absolutely leading, and offer no real alternatives. If I was feeling mischievous, the second one is obviously a yes, since human activity is wholly responsible for the nonsense that is “mean global temperature” – but not in the way they mean!

    Moreover, much of this confuses pseudoscience with scepticism. Not believing in things is not the same as believing in things. Being sceptical that the Alarmists have proven their hypothesis is not the same as (i) disbelieving that there are “greenhouse gases” that keep the Earth warmer than it otherwise would be nor (ii) believing in some alternative idea.

    • Yep. They lump skepticism of AGW in with anti-vaccine & anti-GMO psuedoscience and creationism. Another logical fallacy.

      • What they should do is try switching belief in CAGW to the anti-science side of the analysis. ‘Deniers’ would then be on the science side of the ledger. Their analysis would then look quite different.

      • They actually have a rather funny convoluted logic, first they say

        “They found that climate change denial was predicted mainly by political ideology, but not by low scientific literacy.”

        Then they lump science literate “deniers” in with the anti-science groups.

        So here we have the CAGW true believer mentality exposed that political belief suddenly dictates who is scientific. The true CAGW believer doesn’t stop there it also says that each person on the planet is entitled to exactly the same wealth, the same resources and the same freedoms and it is enshrined in their science. Crackers for example will tell you this is what the science says, ask him about the equality in his science. They also dictate there is only their solution Emission Controls and Renewable anything else is unscientific.

        The amusing part is there is considerable political and society pushback and they can’t understand why because it’s against “CAGW science”. In years to come this era of climate science will be studied as a pathological case of what happens when you mix science and politics 😉

      • “They lump skepticism of AGW in with anti-vaccine & anti-GMO psuedoscience and creationism. Another logical fallacy.”

        And a smear.

    • Phoenix44,
      Yes, using undefined words like “relatively constant” leaves it up to the responder to provide their own definition, which will probably vary with their experience and area(s) of expertise. The questions should be more quantitative.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. I feel only one question should be asked which is:
      ‘Do you believe that there is a serious threat to the planet due to human activity and unless we significantly change our ways that mankind is doomed?’

    • …When compared with pre-1800s levels…

      How far pre 1800s? It is certainly warmer now than it was 15,000 years ago, and that was pre-1880…

      • Even on a shorter scale. The temperature records have been so corrupted and inaccurate that I’m no longer certain that there is a trend under the 60 year or so oscillation.

      • Some may say the desire of humans to imagine control of things that are outside our control in order to make ourselves feel safe and our future is assured. Face it that is what most of this rubbish is about.

    • My problem with question 1 is with “pre-1800s levels”. How *far* pre? Little Ice Age, yes, we’ve warmed. Go all the way back to Medieval or Roman climate optimums, we’ve cooled. Probably.

    • Yes, the two questions are ridiculous. If answered honestly, they cannot distinguish between sceptics and believers.
      I would think that most sceptics do agree that there has been some amount of global warming in the last century. I would class myself as a hard sceptic, but my answer to that question would have to be that temperatures have risen.

      Again, “significant contributing factor” is so vague and ill-defined as to be meaningless. Again, as a hard sceptic, I would agree that maybe a quarter was due to human CO2 emissions (remember, nearly half of the total warming had occurred by 1945).

      I would suggest these replacement questions:
      1. What is the official amount of global warming since 1900?
      2. What do you think is the actual amount of global warmimng since 1900?
      3. What do you think is the warming effectiveness of CO2 (the amount of warming caused by a doubling of CO2)?

      As a matter of interest, I’ve asked many of my friends and family question 1: without exception, they all thought the amount of warming was around two degrees C. I think the media should take a lot of blaim for misleading the world.

      • On reflection, I think question 3 is a bit too technical. I would replace it with:
        3. What fraction of the global warming was caused by human emissions of CO2?

  2. “quite frankly, most of us don’t see anything anomalous in recent climate changes.”

    That is probably because there is nothing anomalous in any warming or climate change, how ever that is defined. To think we have had maybe a 1.2 degree C increase in temps since the end of the LIA, and when you think about it, if we didn’t have a 1 degree C increase in temps, we would still be at the end of the LIA. Even if we accept that maybe a 1/3 or even a 1/2 degree of that may be due to human activity, I will gladly take that, because that is an insurance policy on dangerous catastrophic global cooling. The kind that produces a year without a summer, and there is a general crop failure in the northern hemisphere. It has happened before and it will happen again. The only difference is there is now 7.5 billion people on the planet.

    • Yes, if you want to apply logic, then your conclusion is exactly right. Without any change the climate would still be like it was at the end of the Little Ice Age. The question that then arises is what was the temperature prior to the LIA and how far did it drop. You need to know this in order to make a judgement of whether today’s temperature is warmer that it could/should be and have humans really affected the rise.

      • Actually, I’d say that knowing the pre-LIA temperature would tell you absolutely nothing about whether today’s temperature has anything to do one way or the other with human influences. Whether today’s temperatures are higher or lower than temperatures in the past has to do with little more than the point in the past you select; it tells us nothing of the human influence (or more correctly, the lack thereof) on today’s temperatures.

        The climate is impacted by many things, many of which we are not in possession of a complete understanding of, many of which we haven’t even identified, and none of which we have sufficient information of sufficient quality over a sufficient period of time about. IOWs, we don’t know what is driving any specific changes to the climate, we’re just grasping at straws at this stage. To pontificate about impending climate catastrophe based on how paltry our understanding of the Earth’s climate system at this point is little different than the street preachers that babble incoherently about the end of the world being near, except the AGW preachers have been blessed with a facade of “scientific” authority by those pushing the underlying political agenda.

  3. It is interesting that one person quoted in the article on scientific literacy and pseudoscience is Carl Sagan. The bit of research that Sagan did that made an impact was the TTAPS “Nuclear Winter” study, which was arguably an example of political activism more than climate modeling. I do remember Sagan predicting the Kuwait oil fires at the end of the first Gulf War would cause global cooling (which did not happen).
    Mostly the “lack of scientific literacy” claim is pure insult by advocates of the green blob.

    • Which is funny, because the advocates of the green blob tend to be totally devoid of scientific literacy.

      • Like the majority of policy makers that are scientifically illiterate and yet make their policies upon the Green Blob advocates views.

      • I always think of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. When first proposed it wasn’t considered “real” because there was only mathematical proof and no physical proof. (Sound like today’s climate models, not one of which is considered accurate by itself?) But as time went on, physical proof that gravity could bend light, that clocks did display time dilation, and recently that gravity waves do exist leads one to begin to say that the theory does fit the physical world to at least some extent.

        Yet we have yet to see any physical proof that any current climate model correctly predict or even project real world events. Some even want you to have faith that you can average several different models, none of which are individually correct, and obtain a correct answer. Is that pseudoscience or what?

    • Tom Halla,
      Not only did the Kuwait oil fires not cause global cooling, but it is generally accepted now that the “Nuclear Winter” scenario is improbable. It would seem that climatology has a poor forecasting record right from the beginning. That should instill some humility in alarmists, but hasn’t.

    • And Sagan’s group kept changing the scenario they were using until they found one that fit their preconceptions about Nuclear Winter. Another computer model (Climate models) that keeps adjusting the dials until they get an answer they liked.

    • In 1991 there was no rise in atmospheric CO2 due to the fires, and in 1992 the rate of annual increase dropped at Mauna Loa.

    • Predicting what would happen in a Nukelar Winter is not science.
      It is the use of reason. To know, scientifically, what would happen in a Nukelar Winter would require – get this – observation of a Nukelar War.

      If there is nothing observed, it is not science.

  4. I have always thought that water vapor is what “…most scientists believe causes temperature in the atmosphere to rise…” by a very big chunk with CO2 a bit player. But its not even a choice provided by the authors, both social and policy “scientists.”

    • I noticed that right away, too in that chart:

      “What gas do most scietists believe causes temperatures in the atmosphere to rise? Is it (hydrogen, helium, carbon dioxide, radon)?

      Where the hell is water vapor in that “list”?
      H2O maybe? What is radon doing in that list? I don’t get the point of that whole chart – it doesn’t make any sense.

      • It’s a multiple choice question with only one real answer?

        Who was the most talented Beatle?
        a) Bob Dylan
        b) Madonna
        c) Ringo Starr
        d) Eric Idle

      • Radon is radioactive, and if it were present at 400 ppm, collisions of neutrons with neighboring air molecules would cause more warming than an equivalent concentration of CO2 by absorbing relatively weak infrared waves/photons. If radon emits an alpha particle, it becomes the rather toxic polonium…

        Fortunately, radon concentrations are much lower than those of carbon dioxide or methane. But J. Philip Peterson is right–water vapor is a stronger IR absorber, and is usually present in much higher concentrations than carbon dioxide.

      • “Nick Stokes December 5, 2017 at 4:10 pm

        I was thinking more of what it might emit.”

        Nothing as much as toxic as your AU BoM propaganda.

  5. “I know the answer to the first multiple choice question”

    Except that the actual gas that does that is most responsible is water vapor which wasn’t even on the list.

      • Yes, they way they work in polls like this is to surround the answer they want with obviously wrong answers. Not even listing water vapor illustrates the bias in the poll.

        Even alarmists think water vapor is more important given the bogus claim that water vapor enhancement is a larger influence on the surface temperature than the original effect of a CO2 increase.

      • co2 – Hah! That was exactly my thought as well. I suppose Dave should have stated that he knew the answer “that the survey was looking for”…

        • Which is the way multiple choice questions work… The correct response to all multiple choice questions is the answer they were looking for.

          Who of the following was the best President of the USA?
          a) Davy Crockett
          b) Elon Musk
          c) Barrack Hussein Obama
          d) Homer Simpson

          The correct answer is “c”.

      • Fortunately these folks haven’t lached onto the fact that the #1 greenhouse gas is water vapor. Can you imagine the effect this would have, if water was declared a pollutant!
        Dang, we’d all be in trouble

      • True, sir – but it does illustrate how multiple-choice questions can be used to manipulate. By using a controlled list of possible answers, yet not putting the most correct answer in the list, the impression is given that the one correct answer in the list is actually the most correct answer. While the more scientifically-literate won’t be fooled, those with less instruction in science and logic (presumably a significant percentage of the DF17 participants in order to be a valid measure) will be manipulated into exactly the false association between panels one and two that you point out.

      • They also make the incorrect multiple choice answers absurd enough that it’s almost impossible to pick the wrong answer.

        • Of the multiple choices given in the question, carbon dioxide was the only correct answer. The other options were so wrong, that it should have been impossible for someone to pick them.

          • CO2 is not the CORRECT answer which is H2O and which was not one of the choices, therefore, no answer would have been the most correct answer given the choices.

            A far more revealing set of choices would have included both CO2 and H2O.

      • And did you look at how they determined scientific literacy? It asked whoppers such as, “does the Earth revolve around the sun”, “how long does it take the Earth to rotate around the sun”, and “are electrons bigger than atoms”. Talk about setting a bar so low that even James Cameron can’t find it.

        It makes you question the literacy, let alone the scientific literacy, of those on the low end.

      • I also think that there would be many scientists, (including “climate scientists”) that would have chosen CO2 over H2O if the question read:
        “What gas do most scientists believe causes temperatures to rise the most in the atmosphere? Is it (hydrogen, helium, carbon dioxide, radon, H2O)?

        I thank that would be a more interesting survey – WUWT-ers could make up some multiple choice questions that would surely stump some scientists.Just by using actual data and logic/common sense, in the choices.

    • Ed Bo Dec 5 3:25 am
      “Nick-Radon is a monatomic noble gas. How is it going to absorb LWIR?”
      This is an example of a leading non-question. Nick is almost right in stating that it might cause a temperature rise. The correct answer is Radon will most definitely warm up the atmosphere by alpha emission.

  6. perfect- carls sagan, the role model of all the wannabe rock star lab rats, lying about doomsday with the purest of motives.
    but he was old school liar – and hid away when he was proven a liar.
    the new age selfie generation of liars in lab coats just gets louder.

    • I knew Sagan and took his astronomy course while in college. He was definitely a strong proponent of the scientific method, falsification and the need for solid evidence. I’m quite sure that if he was still alive, he would have become a CAGW skeptic.

      • Would he have been a climate skeptic if someone waved “billions, blillions, and billions” of dollars under his nose to convert to the dark side?

        • I don’t think that money could have subverted his scientific integrity as it has for most ‘consensus’ climate scientists. Besides, even before Cosmos when I knew him, he was already famous and relatively wealthy.

      • I never met Carl Sagan but based on his comment in “Cosmos” regarding the theories of Immanuel Velikovsky that the worst thing was not that Velikovsky was wrong but rather that scientists tried to suppress his work, I believe that Carl Sagan would be appalled by the way that “Climate Scientists” try to censor anything with which they disagree.

      • he was also a strong proponent of the noble lie or were you unaware of his NuCuLaR WiNtEr horror tales?
        which, after the kuwait oil fires made that look like what it was, he kinda vanished from public view…
        it’s macgregor’s goat. it’s bigger than simple ‘falsus in uno’

      • he played a major role in the demonizing of NuCuLeS, in case you wonder how come the greens are so skeered of them
        one may speculate how things might be today if people were not conditioned to cringe at the word ‘nuclear’, eh?
        we might be a lot better off had there been no carl sagan propagandizing and preaching nuclear winter.
        look what also happened when maggie thatcher went big with her noble lying about co2.
        tell me these liars just had a little oopsie and were really great guys at a convention after-party.

        • In 1991 at the end of the Gulf War when the nuke winter scare arose, the IPCC had only published its first AR, and even I had no reason to question what they were saying, even about nuclear winter which was based on the same presumed climate sensitivity driven by the prevailing interpretations of the ice core data. At the time, it was unimaginable to me that they could be as wrong as they turned out to be.

          It wasn’t until the second Clinton administration, the lunacy from Gore and the escalation of catastrophe in subsequent IPCC reports that inspired me to do my own due diligence and is when I became a skeptic. Had Sagan been alive and done the same, he would have surely flipped himself.

      • From Carl Sagan’s magnificent Cosmos episode, “Harmony of the Worlds”, about Johannes Kepler, he says of Kepler:
        “When he found that his long cherished beliefs did not agree with the most precise observations, he accepted the uncomfortable facts. He preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions. That is the heart of science.”

        or…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFCQCsS75BQ
        Those are the words of a skeptic, but who knows if he could have applied them to himself. For someone who pioneered runaway CO2 greenhouse effects (Venus) and human catastrophes (Nuclear winter), AGW would have become one of his long cherished beliefs. The internal conflict would have been enormous.
        The scene where Kepler looks down to see a moon boot print still gives me the shivers, as does the amazing Headrise scene at the beginning of the snippets.

        • ” … or someone who pioneered runaway CO2 greenhouse effects (Venus) and human catastrophes (Nuclear winter), AGW would have become one of his long cherished beliefs.”

          Remember at the time, there was only AR1 and the presumed sensitivity was based on the most current interpretation of ice core data which at the time seemed to indicate that temperature tracked CO2 concentrations. I don’t think that the actual temporal relationship was discovered, or at least reported, until after Sagan’s death.

      • My memory of the Gulf oil well fire fiasco is that when the global cooling predicted by Carl Sagan et al did not materialize, Dr. Sagan admitted that he had been wrong. I doubt that any “Climate Scientist” will ever admit to being wrong.

      • From “The Demon-Haunted world” by Carl Sagan:
        “For myself, I’ve tended in past books to recount some of the occasions when I’ve been right. Let me here mention a few of the cases where I’ve been wrong: … Just before Iraq torched the Kuwaiti oil wells in January 1991, I warned that so much smoke might get so high as to disrupt agriculture in much of South Asia; as events transpired, it was pitch black at noon and the temperatures dropped 4-6°C over the Persian Gulf, but not much smoke reached stratospheric altitudes and Asia was spared. I did not sufficiently stress the uncertainty of the calculations.”

      • Ricdre, you make a great point. I do think AGW would have been right up his alley had he lived another 10-20 years, but his revival on the Kuwait fires indicates that eventually he’d be capable of recognizing that “the most precise observations” demolish his “dearest illusions”.
        But then, I never met the guy, and sadly, he did not have those extra years, and who am I to “Speak for Carl”?

      • Richard Keen, you are correct, we can not speak for Dr. Sagan but we really don’t have to as he spoke pretty well for himself.

  7. If you look at which group, Conservative or Liberal, is likely to produce an individual who denies the safety of GM foods, or efficacy of vaccines, or that there are just two biological sexes, and that person is overwhelmingly likely to be Liberal.

    I will have to admit that there are creationists/intelligent design folks in the Conservative tribe. To those I am not willing to give them any time arguing their beliefs.

    But I will say this about how to distinguish an important facet of the issues that divide Liberals and Conservatives.

    Use the Past versus Future filter.

    Conservatives who deny Darwinian evolution-natural selection, or who accept Biblical creationism, or even deny the Apollo moon landings are denying basic, provable facts from the Past.

    -The age of the Earth can conclusively be shown to be more than 4 Billion years.
    – The slow evolution of life, with occasional massive speciation/radiations (Cambrian explosion, etc) can be conclusively shown in fossil records.
    – The collection of Lunar samples, and lunar satellite images of Apollo Lunar landers is conclusive proof of the successes of the Apollo program.
    Such folks for believe past, provable events are false are worthy of derision by a scientifically informed public. But its not really science, but basic logic that that group denies.

    On the other hand…
    LIberals are those who mostly see some danger lurking in the future. The work up Hobgoblins of GM foods and pesticides/herbicides, and power-lines causing causing cancers. Vaccines are easily invoked as causal to their kids getting autism. And of course, they are quite prone to believing the climate warming alarmism of some future Earth due to CO2.

    Thus the climate charlatans play on this Liberal propensity for a fear of the future. They know with a future fear, they can get a population to give up economic wealth and power in exchange for a false sense of security.

    • “or that there are just two biological sexes”

      There are just two sexes. The problem is people conflating gender with sex. Gender is behavior, sex is biology. You can be male (sex) and act feminine (gender), and vice versa.

      Ever notice that you don’t hear the term “transsexual” any more? It’s always “transgender” now. Which greatly muddles the issue. Transgender doesn’t require surgery, since it’s a change in behavior. Transsexual DOES require surgery, since it’s a physical change.

      • Jeff,
        Not disagreeing with you but merely to point out:

        With that view that gender is merely behavior means there is no such thing as discrete identifiable genders.
        Behaviors are complex, diverse, and analog on multiple dimensions of characteristics. Thus there are no discrete genders if you accept that complex behavior defines gender. The term gender thus becomes meaningless if it just boils down to individual fluid behaviors.

      • Joel,

        What you say makes sense. However, IMHO, genders or gender roles are highly cultural in nature. So, yes, very fluid.

      • uh, no.
        sex has to do with reproduction. there are 2 genders involved.
        there are 2 genders- male and female. they have a genotype. they have a phenotype. it’s not opinion type.

      • To me gender and sex (when used as nouns) are synonyms although I recognize that gender has some nuances. For instance, many languages have gendered words; but those genders seem always to be exactly three: masculine, feminine and neuter. I have no particular interest in learning the Gender du Jour and what special benefits accrue to the latest thing. For purposes of categorizing human behavior I find the MBTI to be adequate for my purposes.

      • Wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of Liberal future fears, merely a few examples.

        But yes, Liberals are easily manipulated to live in fear of the “China Syndrome” with nuclear power plants. A future event.

    • joelobryan December 5, 2017 at 10:32 am
      “LIberals are those who mostly see some danger lurking in the future.”

      This propensity of liberals is evident in the way liberal politicians campaign for public office: “My opponent is going to start a war.” The politicians are exploiting future fears of their constituency. The liberal politicians aren’t actually concerned about getting the country into a war, as they often do get the country into a war.

      I think liberal politicians are also exploiting the liberal demographic’s fear of the future with the CAGW meme. The liberal politicians reveal their unconcern by their lifestyles.

      I don’t object to consumption of fossil fuels, because I don’t believe CO2 emissions will “harm the planet”. I mention the hypocrisy (of claiming CO2 should not be emitted by others while causing lots to be emitted for one’s own benefit) because it reveals character, or lack of it.


    • “Conservatives who deny Darwinian evolution-natural selection, or who accept Biblical creationism, or even deny the Apollo moon landings are denying basic, provable facts from the Past.”.

      Joel, Do you have reason to believe Biblical creationists are Apollo moon landing deniers?


      • It’s possible to be scientifically literate and believe in creationism through faith. It’s not possible to be scientifically literate and believe that the Apollo Moon landings were faked.

        Another problem with lumping many different things into “psuedoscience.”

      • “It’s possible to be scientifically literate and believe in creationism through faith. ”
        Indeed. You just need to believe that evolution is a way for god to create species just like planting a seed is a way for human to create a tree with its many branches.

        “It’s not possible to be scientifically literate and believe that the Apollo Moon landings were faked.”
        On the contrary, this quite possible. Moon landings are facts, not science, and a scientifically literate is more likely to know of ways to make a fake, than an illiterate. A scientifically literate would know these landings are possible, but this doesn’t make them true, and it would certainly be cheaper to fake than to make real.

        • My understanding of how the Earth formed, how life evolved, how mathematics work and dogs make me a firm believer in God.

          I can’t logically accept the fact that 40,000 years ago, wolves chose to be our friends and companions and help us hunt, rather than hunt us, was an accident or a random occurrence. Really looking forward to the movie Alpha…

          The fact that we can bounce seismic waves off rock formations, record a series of numbers and reconstruct not only the structural geology, but glean information about lithology and fluid content… just couldn’t be the result of a random process.



          A scientifically literate person would know that every “anomaly” identified as evidence that the landings were faked, actually constituted evidence that they were not faked.

          Dr. Novella actually had a very good post on this on his Neurologica blog.


          Furthermore, the rocks brought back from the Moon could not have formed on Earth and could not be meteorites…

          Are Moon Rocks Like Earth Rocks?

          “Moon rocks are absolutely unique,” says Dr. David McKay, Chief Scientist for Planetary Science and Exploration at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). McKay is a member of the group that oversees the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility at JSC where most of the Moon rocks are stored. “They differ from Earth rocks in many respects,” he added.

          “For example,” explains Dr. Marc Norman, a lunar geologist at the University of Tasmania, “lunar samples have almost no water trapped in their crystal structure, and common substances such as clay minerals that are ubiquitous on Earth are totally absent in Moon rocks.”

          “We’ve found particles of fresh glass in Moon rocks that were produced by explosive volcanic activity and by meteorite impacts over 3 billion years ago,” added Norman. “The presence of water on Earth rapidly breaks down such volcanic glass in only a few million years.”


          While Moon rocks largely consist of rock and mineral types that exist on Earth (breccias, basalt and feldspar), the geochemistry and mineralogy are different…

          Lunar rocks closely resemble Earth rocks in many respects, but Moon rocks are more depleted in volatile elements, like oxygen, carbon dioxide, potassium, sodium and zinc, which tend to have lower boiling points and vaporize readily.

          “Explaining the Moon’s volatile depletion has been a long-standing mystery, and yet it is a key piece of evidence about how the Earth-Moon system formed,” said Dr. Robin Canup, associate vice president in SwRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division and lead author of the Nature Geoscience paper detailing the findings.

          Scientists think the Moon formed from an Earth-orbiting disk of vapor and molten matter produced by a giant impact between Earth and another Mars-sized object approximately 4.5 billion years ago. Previously, scientists had considered that volatiles vaporized by the impact might have escaped before the Moon formed.

          “However, few volatiles may have actually been lost because the velocity needed to escape the Earth’s gravity is quite high,” said Canup. “The new research suggests instead that as the Moon completed its growth, volatile-rich melt was preferentially deposited onto the Earth, rather than onto the growing Moon.”


      • I think Intelligent Design is real. I am not a Biblical Creationist. I do believe in God. I think evolution is a device of the intelligent design with limited span. I have been conservative since the day I was born. “Progress” is often retrogressive in democracies – and now it seems, even in scientism.

    • Regarding “sex” and “gender”, I remember a humorous essay by Mark Twain on “The Awful German Language”.
      “Gender” is a literary term.
      In German, “Der” is masculine: Der Mann, Der Professor, but also Der Motor
      Die is feminine Die Frau- the woman, but also Die Lederhosen- the trowsers
      Das is neuter, Das Buch- the book, but also das Madchen- the young maiden

      So when anyone mentions “gender” when they mean “sex”, I immediately think of “Die Lederhosen- female trowsers, and das Madchen- neuter maiden.

    • “The slow evolution of life, with occasional massive speciation/radiations (Cambrian explosion, etc) can be conclusively shown in fossil records.”

      Or, maybe not.

      Maybe it is something called “inference.”

      What animal is in a zoo today that was not there when I was a kid? IOW: what evolution have we seen?

      If it has not been observed, it is not science. Macro-evolution explains a lot, but has many weaknesses.
      Macro-evolution is the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy: we showed up after everything happened, threw our theory at the data pattern, and declared we had predicted it all along.

      A butterfly is the tiniest thing. Monarchs migrate from all over the USA to a central spot in Mexico. By instinct.
      Did a gene mutation happen that got them to migrate from Idaho to Texas, and then another to migrate back? And then a gene mutation to migrate to northern Mexico? Then one to migrate to southern Mexico?

      If they needed to get to southern Mexico to survive as a species, how did they survive before they had the genetic mutations to migrate? They were all having reproduction problems, and then some young stud butterfly flew to Mexico and back, and impressed the young-woman butterflies, and had a lot of baby caterpillars, that all had the travelin’ jones gene?

      The world of animals, and plants, and bugs, is so full of the most unlikely lifestyles that claiming macro-evolution brought it all about is quite a claim. And, has a lot of logical weaknesses.

      Please indulge my skepticism. And, while you are at it, look back over “Just So Stories.”

      • “Yep. One day, this gene mutation happened, and a godwit flew half-way across the Pacific. Well, he died, but that gene mutated, and his son had another mutation, and he flew all the way across the Pacific.

        Yessir, son, that is how it all happened, back in the Day. The damndest thing you ever saw. I would not believe I saw this species evolve the ability to fly 7,000 miles in a stretch if I had not seen it with my own eyes!”

        “The transmitters sent their location to Mr. Gill’s computer, and he sometimes stayed up until 2 in the morning to see the latest signal appear on the Google Earth program running on his laptop. Just as he had suspected, the bar-tailed godwits headed out over the open ocean and flew south through the Pacific. They did not stop at islands along the way. Instead, they traveled up to 7,100 miles in nine days — the longest nonstop flight ever recorded. “I was speechless,” Mr. Gill said.”


  8. “I would answer risen to #1”

    Why wouldn’t you answer that there is no such thing as mean global temperature?

    • Despite all of the shortcomings of calculating a “mean global temperature,” it does exist. It is a number that can be calculated. It is a geographically weighted average of temperatures recorded around the world over time.

      By every data set I know of, the calculated global mean temperature today is a little warmer than it was 150 years ago. Even if you assume that all of the adjustments to the data are invalid, it’s still warmer today than it was at the end of the Little Ice Age.

        • That is certainly possible because the adjustments, corrections and margins of error are greater than the difference asserted between now and the 1930’s.

      • “It is a number that can be calculated.”

        Yes, it is a number; no, it is not a temperature. It has no meaning as a temperature.

        Suppose I have one gram of water ice at 0 C adjacent to one liter of water at nearly 100 C. What is the average temperature?

        50 C.

        What does it mean?

        Absolutely nothing! Can you determine the energy in the system? Not from “50 C”. Is anything radiating energy at 50 C? Nope. The hot water will be radiating furiously and the ice hardly at all. Because of the 4th power relationship of radiation to temperature, the 50 C is extremely misleading! The system will be dominated by the hottest thing present.

        Now swap the situation; 1 gram of hot water adjacent to one liter of ice. What is the average temperature?

        50 C.

        Remarkable; you’d almost think nothing changed. But it has! The new system has only a tiny fraction of the heat energy and that 1 gram of hot water will quickly radiate its energy away.

        The average of temperatures is an INDEX (like the Dow Jones Industrial index of stock market prices) and can be useful in some limited ways, but it is not a temperature and the Earth doesn’t have it. It doesn’t exist; it is an abstraction that came into mental existence no more real that the number 6.

        Bonus question: Instead of treating the liter of water as one item of temperature, treat it as a thousand grams, each with a temperature. What is now the average? one gram at 0, a thousand grams at 100, that’s 100000/1001 grams = 99.9 C.

        So there you have it. Almost any average temperature you wish depending on how you slice it and none of it has meaning except in the case that you slice it exactly the same way over successive measurements over a long period of time might tell you something.

      • “It is a geographically weighted average of temperatures recorded around the world over time”

        Temperature is an intensive property of the point being measured. Averaging measurements from different locations is physically meaningless.

    • If the questions were posed orally as opposed to in written form, I probably would. If written and answers were in essay form, I still probably would. But if written and multiple choice (probable for this tripe), the answer to your question would be “because that wasn’t one of the choices.”

  9. First things first: define ‘science’. Once a concise definition is agreed to, survey questions can be seen for what they are and answered (or not) accordingly. Otherwise this is just playing with your food!

  10. “Carl Sagan was fond of saying that, “Pseudoscience is embraced, it might be argued, in exact proportion as real science is misunderstood.” That was the conventional wisdom among skeptics at the time (quote from Demon Haunted World, published in 1997) – that the problem of pseudoscience or science-denial was essentially one of information deficit. Correct the deficit, and the science-denial goes away. We now know that the real situation is far more complex.”

    But when it comes to “climate change,” it is not “science” that is being “denied;” it is the notion that the politically motivated tripe commonly referred to as “climate science” constitutes ACTUAL science, as opposed to…politically motivated tripe.

    “To reduce the acceptance of pseudoscience or the rejection of real science, we need to do more than just promote scientific literacy. We also need to understand what is driving the pseudoscience, and we need to give critical thinking skills.”

    Which again loses the point – nobody is “denying” “real science;” just the politically motivated tripe that passes for “climate science” in the inner circles of the global warming religion. It is the very people that LACK “critical thinking skills,” and/or those who “accept” uncritically what the supposed “authorities” on “science” tell them, that BELIEVE in the politically motivated tripe that passes for “climate science.” It is NOT those who disagree with it that lack critical thinking skills. “Climate Change” IS the “pseudoscience.” These self-appointed authorities on what “real science” is need to pull their heads out of their rear ends.


    “They found that climate change denial was predicted mainly by political ideology, but not by low scientific literacy.”

    Correlation does not equal causation, as they say (which they might know if they were “REAL SCIENTISTS”). And since “climate change” IS a political ideology, it’s pretty funny that they connect “denial of” climate change with exactly what “climate change” IS. And what exactly do they use to define the supposedly “responsible” “political ideology?!” Ask me questions on a range of political/social issues, and my answers put me in wildly different “camps” depending on the issue – so how do they decide what “camp” to classify me as? What “issues” are used to make such a meaningless “determination?”

    The fact that “low scientific literacy” is not connected with skepticism of “climate change” Eco-Fascism is telling. Those who aren’t illiterates and who are paying attention are difficult to “convert” into “believers.”

  11. I answered a poll very similar to this one on YouGov.com. But somewhere in the middle of answering this poll … I got a message saying there was a “technical problem” with the poll and it shut down. I was never able to complete the poll. I have ALWAYS thought that the poll STOPPED because I defied the predicted (pre-programmed) outcomes and the poll dumped my “abberant” answers. Specifically, I reported (accurately) that I was a Christian conservative … but it was obvious that I could correctly answer their rather simple questions about science (I would grade my answers a solid ‘A’). When I was seruptitiously DUMPED from the poll, I assumed it was because I had destroyed the intended purpose of the poll … which was intent on proving that Christian conservatives (who don’t “believe” in CAGW) are scientifically illiterate. We aren’t. I’m not.

    PS … I have vaccinated all my children. I (usually) get flu shots. And I eat deliciously modified strawberries, corn, etc. … cultivated and harvested by really kewl machines. And I do not believe that a psychic can bend a spoon with his mind … just by staring at it.

    • PPS … I also understand that cattle vaccinations are safe, and that the antibiotics given protect the beef supply from dangerous pathogens and do not “taint” the meat when the proper withdrawal times (as published per each different antibiotic) are observed.

      • Kenji said…..”PPS … I also understand that cattle vaccinations are safe, and that the antibiotics given protect the beef supply from dangerous pathogens”

        Errr, no…..

        From the FDA….

        ” Antibiotics are added to the animal feed or drinking water of cattle, hogs, poultry and other food-producing animals to help them gain weight faster or use less food to gain weight.

        Because all uses of antimicrobial drugs, in both humans and animals, contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance, it is important to use these drugs only when medically necessary.”….

        What part of gaining weight faster or using less food to gain weight is medically necessary? More efficient economically, at least in the short term, but medically necessary?

    • Kenji, I concur, as a conservative Christian, that there is not an anti-science bias among us Christians. It is not a lack of scientific knowledge that makes me a skeptic of some of the current paradigms, it is a familiarity with the “facts” that allows me to see the holes in the arguments.


  12. “a big gap between what scientists understand and what the public thinks it knows.”

    How about a re-phrase aa a reason for skeptical thinking on climate :

    ” a big gap between what the public intuitively understands and what the scientists think they know ”

    In other words, the public intuitively understands that the science is not settled (based on every day experience & how poorly we even understand shorty term weather , along with the unlimited number of climate predication failures) and that there are huge issues that are ill-defined in climate science. When “scientists” say they the science is settled, it is an immediate red flag to any thinking person that something else is afoot, which leads to skepticism.

    • You left out politicians.
      “When politicians say the science is settled, it is an immediate red flag to any thinking person that something else is afoot, which leads to suspicion.”
      (Al Gore ring a bell?)

  13. One thought is that most scientists understand that their discipline requires honesty and integrity for it to work. Those outside the fields related to climatology assume that the climate scientists are doing their work honestly and, as a consequence, assume that the sceptics must be the scientifically illiterate bad guys. They are seemingly unaware that eye watering amounts of government funding are only available to researchers who are willing to push an alarmist message. It may also be the case that many researchers genuinely believed that we had a serious problem to start with. The problem now is that developed nations have now squandered colossal amounts of money on a non problem, who wants to be the first to admit that it was all a huge mistake?

    The question that always occurs to me is, if CO2 causes significant warming, why doesn’t it? Instrumental temperature records have now been kept for long enough for us to have lots of graphs that show a sawtooth pattern of rising temperatures since the end of the little ice age. Non of these graphs show any kind of uptick to coincide with the recent rise in levels of atmospheric CO2. It can’t even be proven that the rise in CO2 is man made. Levels have varied in the past without our help, it seems likely that fossil fuel use is making a difference but is it really possible to state beyond doubt that it is?

    On the subject of political conservatives being more likely to be sceptics, I think that this phenomenon is better explained by pointing out that lefties are ecstatic about having an excuse to steal people’s money and to tell them how to live their lives and, as a result are less likely to be sceptics.

  14. On the subject of pseudoscience, Ben Santer has a blog piece on the Unscientific Pseudo-American website where he is arguing (surprise, surprise) against the Red Team/Blue Team (RT/BT) idea from EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.


    “….The implicit message in RT/BT requests is simple: only the current administration can conduct a fair and unbiased assessment of climate science.
    Both the underlying premise and the implicit message are wrong. Climate science has been reviewed for decades, by the national academies of dozens of countries, relevant professional societies, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and many other entities with real domain expertise. Review processes are arduous. They typically involve industry stakeholders and a variety of non-governmental organizations. Critical voices are not excluded. They are part of the review process. If critical voices fail to persuade, it is because their scientific arguments are weak. It is not because their arguments are ignored. In the fierce scientific marketplace of ideas and theories, only the science that passes “extreme vetting” stands the test of time……”

    Santer sounds as though he feels threatened and perhaps a little scared in the piece. He’s making a case to silence those whom he fears will expose what he desperately needs to keep hidden. He talks about critical voices being heard, but is making a case to keep them quiet.

    Note to Ben: This is what happens when you sell a narrative to the world involving faulty science (what some will call pseudoscience). If you feel you feel threatened with the RT/BT idea Ben, you should never have gone down this road in the first place. If your science was sound, you wouldn’t oppose the idea.

    • “In the fierce scientific marketplace of ideas and theories, only the science that passes “extreme vetting” stands the test of time……”

      We are still waiting for climate science to pass the extreme vetting test. So far, all we have are assertions and claims from the Alarmists, who are reduced to hoping the temperatures will go higher.

  15. I’m not even sure that it’s grammatically possible to “support science”. Science is a process, it is a tool. When it is properly employed, it works. It requires neither faith nor support.

    Lump that in with the same simple sophistry that organizations, i.e. NASA, GSA, WMO, etc., can give opinions on anything. The scientifically illiterate are usually the types that fall for this promotion of groupthink that doesn’t actually exist. This promotion of so-and-so group says this or that is nothing more than a propaganda tool.

    You can probably lump Drummond and Fishchoff into this category as well. They clearly lack the mental capacity to understand that their second graph has no correct answer and I find it highly likely that they faked their results!

    They are claiming that as scientific literacy goes down, a liberal democrat is less likely to believe that humans are causing “the Earth to get warmer”. Anyone else find that highly suspicious? Never once in my experience with any scientifically illiterate democrat, have they ever not bought into the man made climate meme. It seems very plausible that they are hiding the embarrassing results that show the same general trend as the conservative republicans, that as scientific literacy increases, the belief that man is causing most of the warming decreases, even among liberal democrats. It’s worth a look into their paper, but the supplemental proof of my assertion probably isn’t there. The qualifier “liberal” democrat was probably the method for filtering for the proper conclusions they were looking for.

    • Drummond – Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University,
      Fischhoff – Institute for Politics and Strategy, Carnegie Mellon University
      They’re both pseudo-scientists. Fakers.

      “Social science is an example of a science which is not a science.”
      – Richard Feynman

    • Welp, the first red tape is them pointing to their survey data being found at gssdataexplorer.norc.org, which is a home page and not the exact sampling data. So from there you are left to search for the specific surveys among thousands of surveys collected from that organization in 2006 and 2010.

    • David, are you sure your fig. 3 is from DF17? Their SI says they used surveys from 2006 and 2010, and asked ““In general, do you think that a rise in the world’s temperature caused by climate change is?” None of this matches the subtext fig. 3.

      • That graph came from a third paper, here:


        I am highly skeptical of these three papers all coming out close together finding the exact same results, specifically the result that the less scientifically literate a liberal democrat is the less likely they are to believe that man is the cause of over half the warming. I would at least like to meet just one of these purportedly extant people. There is no discussion about this odd finding or what other beliefs this odd group of people had, but it gets even better.

        The one paper that actually conducted their own surveys binned political affiliation into “1 (far left), 2 (left/center left), 3 (center/liberal), 4(right/conservative), and 5 (far right)”. That’s an odd skewing. But the funniest thing about this paper is their supplemental information, it’s merely the blank survey forms! SMH. And the other two papers don’t use their own surveys and I have yet to find how they connected individual survey answers back to political affiliation. By golly, I think Dr. Feynman was right, this is pseudoscience.

    • RWturner

      “The scientifically illiterate are usually the types that fall for this promotion of groupthink that doesn’t actually exist.”

      Oi!………I’m scientifically illiterate but it doesn’t mean I fall into line with groupthink, in fact where there is groupthink, I’m usually the odd one out on the simple premise that everyone can’t be right.

      Nor does it take scientific literacy to be curious and ask questions. And it doesn’t take too many fairly simple questions before the CAGW theory rapidly becomes questionable.

      My enduring gripe is that searching sites like WUWT is intimidating and difficult for laymen to grasp because they are too scientific. The discussions are usually waaaayyyyyy over my head, but I’m a stubborn sod.

      And whilst sceptical sites necessarily need to attract the scientifically literate, how about having a layman’s introduction somewhere, with simple things like the number and quantities of greenhouse gases. Some simple facts like the planet has greened by 14% in the last 30 years thanks to increased CO2 (I also read somewhere that in addition to that, the plants themselves have increased their individual mass by 20%) or that no one has yet to empirically prove that CO2 causes the planet to warm (although David Middleton did correct me on that by directing me to one paper that does, but only one paper in 40+ years?).

      These are some of the reasons people are seduced by groupthink, because there is no layman’s alternative. Telling people that CO2 is the CAGW culprit is an easy bit of information to digest, but so is planetary greening. Laying out the fact that whilst sea level is rising, it’s only by 3mm a year or so and nothing unusual; and that it’s not going to engulf coastlines in some terrifying tsunami is also a digestible fact.

      Sorry, off on a bit of a tangent, but there would be a lot more converts to scepticism if there were a Janet and John section to this and all the other sceptic sites.

      • “My enduring gripe is that searching sites like WUWT is intimidating and difficult for laymen to grasp”

        And Anthony insists on keeping it that way. I.e., he keeps the categories box, the archives box, andR ic Werme’s Guide to WUWT 8 page-downs below the top, and he won’t appoint a volunteer group to categorize the first 1000 or so threads and to create a list of 100 threads for beginners.

  16. I fail to see how, after studying for (say) 30 years in my chosen field, and that I follow the scientific method to the letter – that any of my findings can be anything but correct.
    After-all, I am a scientist through and through, and I’ve done nothing but follow the approved and accepted processes.
    I am a scientist, therefore my findings are by necessity, correct.

    Hmmm…where is the fly in the ointment in the above???

    Compare that to this….
    I am a builder, have never stepped a foot in an university, have no training (formally) in any climate related study area. The scientific process is a new concept to me, and I am more than likely never going to follow it anyway
    Anything I look at and consider, must therefore be wrong.

    The only thing is, if the ‘builder’ sees something demonstrably wrong, aren’t they permitted to call the ‘scientist’ out on the position or statement they see as so egregiously wrong?
    Or is the unqualified ‘builder’, forced for all time, to defer to the ‘scientists’ information ?

    Hint, lack of training or understanding of the science, does stop the builder reading and understanding falsehoods when he sees them…he/she may not be able to show the ‘maths’ behind the information, but BS is BS regardless of that.

    • D B H

      You have described me to a ‘T’, I even was a builder at one time in my life. I have no meaningful scientific qualifications but it absolutely doesn’t make sense to me that man’s contribution to the atmosphere of 2ppm CO2 per year (or thereabouts) whilst CO2 forms 0.04% of the total atmosphere; and that, of greenhouse gases, CO2 is 3% whilst water vapour (which is of course barely acknowledged on any web site I have searched for the composition of the atmosphere) is 90% or so.

      It’s also fairly obvious to a simpleton like me that the planet is recovering from severe CO2 depletion which threatened it very existence, and that a submarines atmosphere contains as much as 6,000ppm, so it’s way short of it doing us any damage. Add that to the fact that greening of the planet is, as far as I’m aware, the only empirical manifestation of CO2 dramatically affecting the planet in any way. And at 14% in the last 30 years, even the wildest negative predictions of CO2’s effect on mankind doesn’t come close to the benefit we are squandering right now. What happens if CO2 takes a nose dive, as it seems it has dome in the recent past as I understand measured atmospheric CO2 was at 430ppm in 1942 (and several other years around that time) but somehow paleo assessments were preferred to observational data.

      And of course, if CO2 is rising dramatically, and it’s the control knob for temperature, why isn’t temperature tracking it?

      We are also around the coldest we have ever been in earth’s history, other than two other occasions, without descending into a full blown ice age. And whether or not the Medieval Warm period was global or not is irrelevant, man not only survived it, he positively flourished.

      It doesn’t take a genius to smell a rat.

  17. My interest in global warming was stimulated about 14 years ago by hearing on the BBC that the earlier warming phase had been unprecedented according to scientists. It was caused by man made GHG emissions and nothing else could have had that influence and the continuing warming was unstoppable.

    I had no interest in climate at that time, but as a scientist myself, I regarded such claims as utterly absurd and contrary to historical facts, normal experience and common sense.

    Fourteen years on, after studying the subject fairly closely, my views have not changed.

    • Schrodinger’s Cat

      To my shame, my interest was only stimulated about 3 or 4 years ago. Not that I’m a scientist, but I’m old enough to remember very well the scares of the 70’s of global cooling and an impending ice age.

      I ignored it for too long before the shrieking of the greens became unbearable and I had to find out for myself what’s happening.

      I’m not a scientist, but it’s fairly obvious to me that even at the most basic level, and whilst ignoring the political hype, there is something drastically wrong with the alarmist’s case.

      I’m an ex copper, and I’m certain that were the climate debate heard in a criminal court, it would be thrown out very quickly. Mind you, it would be difficult to find a jury without an opinion on the matter.

  18. I forgot to mention that I have a lot of time for Carl Sagan. The Demon Haunted World is one of my favorite books. I would like to think that had he still been alive he would have been disgusted with the behaviour of the climate alarmists, but we can never really know.

    Also, joelobryan December 5, 2017 at 10:32 am made an excellent point regarding creationists and moon landing deniers disbelieving things that are in the past and thus well supported by evidence. Climate change sceptics are disbelieving people who claim to be able to see into the future which is a different thing entirely.

  19. It is an odd conundrum – in any list of pseudo-science “ideation” or conspiracy theories you find “climate change denial” near the top.

    No concept is more scorned by “critical thinkers” except maybe belief in God. Yet “climate science” has by far the weakest evidence in its favor. Even its most fervent admirers admit that it is mostly a political ploy, not based on actual evidence or tests. A scary projection by computer models that may not be questioned.

    Sadly far too many otherwise intelligent and dignified statesman shy away from taking a stand simply because of the name calling they would endure. Eventually this will change and “climate change” will join phlogiston, Lysenko’s theories and the four humors of the body in the lexicon of “settled science” that turned out not to be true at all.

  20. A foundational problem with these studies is that the researchers don’t see or understand their own biases. This produces ambiguously worded and illogically compounded questions as well as imprecise categorization of respondents. Interpretation of results has no hope of being anything other than a narrow, erroneous understanding of what people think. If these guys had a clue they would vet the research protocol with critics and actually try to understand how blinded they might be.

  21. “Climate change is truly an exceptional science.  It has been granted exceptions to the null hypothesis, the scientific method, and now it has clearly been granted an exception to basic logic.”

    While “common sense” isn’t mentioned, c’mon:

    Warmer weather makes it colder?

    Increased rainfall causes draughts?

    CO2 is a pollutant?

    Polar Bears doing something somewhere proves that Polar Bears do stuff?

    (Oh, wait… that last one might true.)


  22. Pre-1800 levels which largely unknown and have to ‘gussed’ through issue filled proxies and coin flipping models.
    And that is without considering elements which were simply unknown for various reasons and were there is data the sometimes poor quality of it.

  23. “They found that climate change denial was predicted mainly by political ideology, but not by low scientific literacy. Vaccine rejection was predicted by low scientific literacy and low faith in science, and also by religiosity and moral purity.”

    It would seem that it would be very easy to identify what “predicted” climate change “acceptance”, but I can’t see where that was done.

    Is there no difference in scientific literacy between “deniers” and “acceptors” or is “acceptance” predicted by low scientific literacy? Does/must political ideology play a role in predicting both “acceptance” and denial”? Are their correlates between religiosity or moral purity and “acceptance”.

    Of all the possibilities the fact that “denial” is tied to ideology but not literacy, religiosity or moral purity seems to put it in the best light.

    • Very true.
      I believe the God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
      I do not believe in “Allah” or his prophet.
      I do not believe in “Gaia” or what “her” self-appointed prophets preach.
      I do believe that Jupiter is a planet but not a god.

      How should I answer a multiple choice question that ask:
      Do you believe in God?
      a) Yes
      b) No

      I don’t do polls. (The little ones WUWT puts up at time, at times I do.)
      I doubt that I am alone. Maybe approaching a majority of those asked to participate in a poll?
      What does that say about poll results?
      (Guess we’ll someone to do a poll to find out. Or maybe the last US election gives a clue.)

  24. The following is from “God’s Undertaker:Has Science Buried God?” by John C. Lennox. “C.S. Lewis’ succinct formulation of Whitehead’s view is worth recording: ‘Men became scientific because they expected law in nature and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.’ ” In order to do science, you must have faith that you can do science.

  25. Most interesting thing in that study was the graph on the right of the first two in the article. As scientific literacy rises the growing divergence in views about the cause of GW is very pronounced. That’s very counter-intuitive and more than a bit of a head scratcher.

    • That’s because it is most likely fabricated B.S., a purposely manufactured meme so that they can say, skeptics are only skeptics because they are conservative.

    • Dodgy Geezer


      And all we get now is ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here’ (which I refuse to watch, along with Eastenders and BBC News. Oh, and the blue Planet which is a mesmeric presentation with an underlying, gentle, commentary supporting CAGW.

      Good old brainwashing at it’s very best.

  26. “Overall, science understanding is associated with vaccine and GM food acceptance, but not climate change acceptance.”

    Yes, yes. Oh god, please, yes. My god, I’m an atheistic scientist, but someone has actually noticed something important to me. You can’t believe how happy I am when somebody writes that.

  27. David,

    “Science is a process, it is a tool. When it is properly employed, it works.”

    In my understanding of the relevant lingo, that is most definitely a statement of faith.

    “It requires neither faith nor support.”

    Science does not conduct itself . . (Why would someone “employ” it unless they had faith in it? When’s the last time you “employed” a Ouija board? ; ) . . so, how can it be true that faith is not required?

    • PS ~ How does this relate to your line of science based work?

      Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

      ; )

  28. I am not a “scientist”. I am a retired lawyer, and I know when questions are badly formed.

    “What gas do most scientists believe causes temperatures in the atmosphere to rise Is it: hydrogen, helium, carbon dioxide, radon?”

    The question lacks several predicates. The questioner must define scientist establish that there is group of people who are scientists, and that there a sufficient number of them to say that “most” of them believe something. Another missing predicate is a demonstration that gases can cause temperatures to rise. Further, the list of possibilities does not include none of the above, which renders the question badly formed and unanswerable.

    Is the earth getting warmer (a) mostly because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels, or (b) mostly because of natural patterns in the earth’s environment.?

    First, predicate, that the earth, or more precisely the earth’s atmosphere is getting warmer is (compared to when, and by how much?) not in evidence. Second the question is badly posed. The alternatives are not mutually exclusive and word mostly is not defined. Further its not logically possible fro a phenomenon to be caused by a pattern. A pattern is a human perception, caused by some process. The process could be non-human, but the word natural does not presuppose that.

    ” When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”

    How far back does pre-1800 go. I once read that there were forests in Antarctica. in some long past age. Is cyclical activity a possible answer.

    2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”

    Predicate are global temperatures changing?

    • Walter

      “Further, the list of possibilities does not include none of the above, which renders the question badly formed and unanswerable.”

      I’m not quite sure I understand that. “does not include none of the above”? It seems like a double negative, but I’ll happily accept it’s an appropriate term.

      • “It seems like a double negative”

        Not if “none of the above” is understood to be in quotation marks or italics.

  29. David ==> Very nicely done, thank you.

    Polls, and social attitude studies that use questionnaires, are almost invariably extremely biased — and their creators almost never realize it. The questions used in the studies in question are ridiculously prejudiced and the expected answers transparently biased.

    There is some hope that if they keep up this kind of study, they will discover that liberal/democrat/progressives simply believe what they are told without any attempt at critical thinking and that more conservative thinkers use their existing knowledge, seek further knowledge when unsure, and then critically examine the issues and data and make up their own minds, being natively distrustful of self-appointed “authorities”.

    So far, the data is leaning pretty strongly towards towards my view.

    • “Polls, and social attitude studies that use questionnaires, are almost invariably extremely biased — and their creators almost never realize it.”

      I think the pollsters realize their poll is biased, but they are counting on their target demographic never realizing it.


  30. The one question I keep asking is – is this at all important?
    The clear answer is – most certainly it is.

    Having just listened to my Prime Minister talking with/about Al Gore and climate change, how can we combat such ingrained beliefs, in a person with such ‘power’ and influence?

    Science should be the gold standard, but in this arena, it is proving anything but.

    PM Ardern stated that 44,000 homes, 4 (or was it 5) airports and numerous other issues, were going to be affected by sea level rise.

    And she and her government ARE going to move heaven and earth to make things right with the environment.
    All based upon scientific best practice and evidence…..
    Double sheez!!!

  31. Geologists and petroleum engineers in private enterprise have to use observational data and their professional knowledge and experience to make important decisions. If they’re no good at it, they lose their jobs. Similarly academic geologists know they have to train their students to be competent to survive in the real world, or they will lose their jobs too. In contrast, most climate scientists are paid from tax-payers money, and it doesn’t matter whether their prognostications are right or wrong. They and their students never have to have their predictions tested in the real world, where there are direct and serious financial implications. That’s why they can afford to pursue the pathetically weak carbon dioxide hypothesis. In fact, to keep their jobs, they can’t afford not to.

    • Actually, Climate Change is defined as anything other than a static climate. That is why the name of the theory was changed from “Global Warming” which predicts a change in a specific direction which can be proven or disproven to “Climate Change” which is true as long as some change happens and since the climate is never static, “Climate Change” is a proven theory!

  32. [Quote from article]”The two areas of expertise in the survey with the smallest percentage of participants answering yes to question 2 were economic geology with 47% (48 of 103) and meteorology with 64% (23 of 36).”

    I find it surprising that 64% of meteorologists from Alberta would agree that human activities caused warming. I used to work for a company of air pollution dispersion modelers with degrees in meteorology, and the vast majority of them did NOT think that carbon dioxide caused global warming. Meteorology is the study of the weather, and what is climate other than long-term weather patterns? So, meteorologists should know the science behind the causes of climate change better than most other scientists.

    • Perhaps the meteorologists who didn’t think that human activities cause warming were fired by a meteorological authority that are True Believers. That would be about par for the course.

  33. Science is in the business of constantly proving itself wrong. That’s how it moves forward. There will always be resistance but in the long run as the Borg would say ” resistance is futile.” Sooner or later reality will take a giant bite out of the alarmists ass.

  34. I am puzzled and distressed by the frequency with which the word “believ” appears above. “Believe” and “Belief” are religious words, and have no place in a discussion of science.

    In fact, as I teach in a college-level course on course on critical thinking and the scientific method, the use of such words, if done on purpose, reveals the user to be a non-scientist.

    • Everything is based on some fundamental assumption or “belief”. For example, science is based on the belief that the universe has fundamental laws that can be logically deduced and are true everywhere in the universe. This is likely true but in reality it is an unproven assumption. Likewise in geometry, if you assume that the sum of the three angle of a triangle equal 180 degrees you can create Euclidean geometry from that (and a few other) assumptions, but you can just as easily assume that the sum of the angles of triangle are greater than 180 degrees and still create a perfectly logical and consistent non-Euclidean geometry.

      • Science is a system of doubt – Question Everything, as I tell my students. Only Religion contains some statement or assumption which is based on belief.

        You refer to something which is “likely true”. I do not know what “truth” is when I speak of science.

        And BTW, it is Reverend Geologist Down the Pub. In addition to practicing a science for some 60 years, I am ordained.

    • ““Believe” and “Belief” are religious words, ”

      Not5 really; “I believe” is equivalant to “It is my opinion that.” So saith my dictionaries.

    • Geologist: what is your definition of “knowledge?”
      Generally, in short, in epistemology, the definition is “justified belief.”

      I believe that the freezing point of water is 32 degrees F.

      An experiment can be run many times in many ways, and I will end up having this observable evidence be the justification, the convincing, for holding this belief in my mind. In the end, what we are concerned with is the belief in my mind. And the minds of others.

      As noted: science is a tool used to figure out what claims of knowledge we should believe. It is all about belief.

  35. This thread and related article had me thinking of pseudo-scientific gibbersih that political “scientists” and social “scientists” engage in. Then it struck me about how literacy is so important.

    So folks, with those Christmas/Hanukkah holiday parties and social gatherings season here, how do you get a way to get a conversation going with your liberal friends/family without immediately PO’ing them off.

    Answer: Bring up a story that everyone can agree on, then segue from there to science illiteracy on the Left for “believing” in climate change alarmism.

    Recently there was a news story of the Tampa Bay Police American sign language interpreter who was video-recorded signing gibberish.
    Read about it here to familiarize yourself with the details.
    Phony sign language interpreter signs gibberish

    So to the sign-language illiterate watchers (me, hand held-high), this suposed sign-language interpreter made all the seemingly correct gestures, she paused when the speaker paused, she moved her hands in ways that to my illiterate eyes looked like sign language. But to the sign-language literate, it was pure gibberish.

    This is exactly where social sciences and political sciences are. They make Pure gibberish to the trained eyes of a real scientist. They make moves and actions that kinda look like science with statistics and data gathering and all. But still it is gibberish. And it is this gibberish that allows the politically biased left in those university academic departments to create fake interpretations to smear the climate skeptics.

    Use sign-language gibberish story to segue in a holiday conversation with your liberal friends and family about how the Left uses science illiteracy to promote the 97% climate consensus propaganda lie.

    • Clever, but sadly I think most of my liberal acquaintances would only hear gibberish since they don’t recognize either facts or the truth.

  36. Which is the “real” science? The old science collected, analyzed, and published years ago or the new science where the same old data were reimagined into something contradictory?

    I was reading a recent story about Roy moore where a woman provided evidence of a friendship with roy years ago when she was 17.

    The evidence included thoughtful cards, her own contemporaneous notes about dates they went on, etc. Everything showed that she was thrilled to be involved with him, very much enjoyed their social interactions, left on friendly terms, and she even sent him a gift years later when he was appointed as a judge.

    But now, in December 2017, she realized that all of these pleasant memories were actually very troubling and revealed a pattern of deviant behavior on his part.

    Every time the Warmists reimagine the old data to change the interpretation, i just shake my head and write them off as hacks. They are serial data torturers, and deserve every ounce of skepticism they receive.

    • “But now, in December 2017, she realized that all of these pleasant memories were actually very troubling and revealed a pattern of deviant behavior on his part.”

      That’s because she just realized that he was pursuing others as well at the same time. She’d thought she was the only one and that their relationship was special.

  37. Pseudoscience is science based on opinion by so-called “experts”, who may have never ventured out farther than the library. It reminds me of the fall of science described in Asimov’s “Foundation Trilogy”, where the galactic empire was beginning to collapse and the use of opinion science was a symptom (or one root cause) of the failure.
    We seem to have moved away from data driven science to “peer reviewed” paper science, where a peer review of other “experts” is enough to validate a theory (or model, which is just a hypothesis turned into code), and “expert” opinion trumps actual data.
    Don’t get me wrong, models are an important part of defining the expectations, but they are just that, an expectation with little supporting data yet. But nothing beats data, and not just conveniently-selected data. Had I used the fraudulent means used by many today in my career I would have been in prison. As a working experimental physicist it was my job to find ways to measure difficult phenomena and then to use the instrumentation we developed and proved to validate models created to predict how our eventual sensors would perform. Bad experimental practices or fraudulent selective data would mean failed instruments and (for the second part of my career—after I left pure science and worked for a defense contractor) dead American soldiers.
    Just imagine if the turbulent atmospheric model used to correct for refractive effects on a defensive missile system were fudged, or the data selectively used. You miss the incoming warhead by a lot and everyone dies. With climate models, we can have just as much damage to the economy, which severely impacts people’s lives and the misallocation of resources leaves families struggling and unable to buy what should be affordable medical care or whatever. And when the “expert opinion” is held up as a replacement for data, that’s what we get.

  38. AGW is a conjecture based on only partial science. I cannot defend it as a matter of science. There is no consensus regarding the AGW conjecture because scientists have not registered and voted on the matter. Such a consensus if it existed would be meaningless because science is not a demoracy. The idea of such a consensus is political and has nothing to do with science.

  39. The math behind Einstein’s relativity theorems is incomprehensible to most people. People accept his theorems anyway because most scientists accept his theorems. Thus, acceptance of these theorems by the public is driven by the consensus of belief among scientists.

    “Climate scientists” took note of this fact, and think their conjectures will be accepted by the public if the public believes there is a consensus of belief among scientists. Thus the phony 97% claim.

    Since “climate scientists” are not real scientists, they don’t realize that Einstein’s theorems were only accepted by scientists following the confirmation of certain predictions made by his theorems; that all they have to do to earn a consensus of belief is demonstrate a confirmation of their predictions.

    On the other hand, perhaps they realized confirmation of their predictions wasn’t gonna happen, so their only hope of continuing the gravy train was to fabricate the 97% consensus.

    Incompetence or fraud, or both. The failure of all predictions eliminates the possibility they don’t know they are wrong.


    • People believe Einstein because scientists conducted a world shattering experiment in the desert that broke the atom and validated his theory of energy and mass.

      When these climate clowns unleash the power of CO2 so I can heat my house this winter by opening a can of soda or exhale, they will be afforded the same general acceptance.

    • Further, I agree with your characterization of their motives and strategy. I see no hard science in climate science like the Manhattan Project.

  40. Note under the two chart graphic ”
    “Predicted probabilities derived via Monte Carlo simulation based on logistic regression”


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