Friday Funny: The neurobiology of “climate change denial”

Guest essay by John Ridgway

Much work has already been undertaken to establish the cognitive foundation for the irrationality of climate change denial.

Of particular note are the studies undertaken by Lewandowsky, Kahneman, Shapiro and O’Conner, identifying the many cognitive biases that invalidate arguments put forward by those who profess scepticism in the face of the scientific evidence. However, it is not until recently that neuroscientists have turned their attention to the subject of climate change science denial in order to determine whether there are any fundamental neurological indicators that may be used as predictors of such pathological thinking strategies.

Of particular interest is a recent paper1,“The neurobiology of climate change denial”, by Dr Rodriguez Azuela et al, of the Positano Behavioural and Cognitive Research Unit. By revealing significant neural pathologies, the paper promises to throw new light on the puzzling irrationality that appears so intransigent to those who would strive to engage the public’s support for climate change mitigation. In Dr Azuela’s own words:

“We were interested to see how the pattern of neural activity differed between climate change deniers and those who accept the scientific consensus. In particular, we looked for differences whilst they considered the evidence put forward for anthropogenic climate change. For this purpose, subjects who had declared varying degrees of scepticism were confronted with images totemic of climate change evidence and were asked to offer their personal assessment whilst undergoing functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).”

The fMRI images, which are basically snapshots of the brain in action, revealed notable differences between the deniers and those who accepted the scientific consensus.

Dr Azuela says:

“Whilst there were no deterministic differences between the groups, there were clear statistical variances that suggest a characteristic neuropathology. In the case of the deniers, counter to the normal pattern of activity, significantly activated regions included the left caudate, bilateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) and para-hippocampal gyri. Activations in the putamen and the globus pallidus were significant at p<0.005 (uncorrected), but no activation was found in the nucleus accumbens.”

To the layman, the significance of such variances is obscure. However, to the neuroscientist the coloured patterns on an fMRI are as revealing as any lie detector. As Dr Azuela explains:

“Curiosity levels modulate activation in such memory-related areas, so these results indicate a significantly reduced level of the curiosity one would normally associate with deferred judgment ideation.”

In other words, the deniers were simply unreceptive to the evidence presented and, instead, were activating brain regions associated with memory recall in order to entrench their preconceived ideas. These findings are in keeping with the psychologists’ concept of the availability heuristic, a cognitive bias in which new evidence is too readily rejected in favour of experiences that carry personal, emotional salience.

Such revelations should come as no surprise to those who have made it their business to study the logic employed by climate change deniers. However, other results were perhaps more surprising. Dr Azuela again:

“Of more concern, however, were the modulations of activity found within the orbital frontal cortex, insula, anterior and posterior cingulate, amygdala and anterior superior temporal gyrus, since they demonstrated a statistical alignment with the functional neuroanatomy of psychopathy.”

But before you choose to accuse all climate change deniers of being psychopaths, Dr Azuela has a word of warning:

“It would be quite wrong to label climate change deniers as psychopaths based upon the results of this study. Psychopathy exists as a spectrum of human behaviour; in this instance the fMRI results simply indicate an unusually low paralimbic reaction to a perceived threat.”

In other words, the climate science deniers aren’t nut jobs after all—they just don’t care enough. But I’ll leave the final word to Dr Azuela:

“In reality, studies2 have shown that confirmation bias poses the greatest challenge to cognitive performance. Those that suffer this bias will accept what they read unquestioningly, whilst others remain instinctively suspicious. Doubt should have kicked in at the suggestion that Positano has a Behavioural and Cognitive Research Unit. However, if you still failed to recognize the inauthenticity of this article, perhaps you should now be questioning any faith you might have had in the scientific consensus.”


1 Azuela, R., Ho, M.T., Malaxic, T., Bernstein, F., (2018), “The neurobiology of climate change denial”, Journal of Environmental and Economic Studies, Issue 16[2].

2 Westen, D.; Blagov, P. S.; Harenski, K.; Kilts, C.; Hamann, S., (2006), “Neural bases of motivated reasoning: An fMRI study of emotional constraints on partisan political judgment in the 2004 U.S. presidential election”, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 18 (11).

NOTE: John Ridgway, says this about the essay originally published at CliScep.

It was not my intention to embarrass anyone into accidentally revealing that they were fooled by this article. So, to help prevent a recurrence, may I make it clear that this article is a spoof. I wrote it so that readers may personally experience confirmation bias before being pointed in the direction of a scientific study on that subject (reference 2).

The Azuela paper (reference 1) does not exist. However, in the interests of authenticity, I strove to ensure that the neurological references were sound. For example, curiosity does indeed modulate the activation of memory-related brain centres, as listed. Furthermore, psychopathy is indeed characterised by aberrant activity within the centres listed. The rest was just my wicked deceit.

I apologise for any embarrassment caused, but I think the plausibility of the article, such that it has any, is a testimony to the wealth of nonsense that can be found out there.

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June 8, 2018 11:11 am


June 8, 2018 11:12 am

Isn’t his name John Ridgway? The guy who wrote about the precautionary principle?

Reply to  Neil Lock
June 8, 2018 11:21 am

Now I’ve read the article, I agree with sunsettommy.

Reply to  Neil Lock
June 8, 2018 12:18 pm

I laughed because it was too absurd for me to be fooled, but wonder how many will fall for it.

Reply to  Sunsettommy
June 8, 2018 12:52 pm

Sadly, I fell for it. When has a high degree of absurdity been any sort of signal of spoofery? Climate alarmists do it all the time, and they don’t include disclaimers. That’s sort of scary.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
June 8, 2018 1:34 pm

The Lew, Naomi and Cook Show, et al, has gotten so absurd, that the parody was sadly plausible.

Reply to  Felix
June 8, 2018 2:51 pm

Naomi: correlation is not causation, but small p-value indicates causation.

Reply to  Felix
June 9, 2018 12:45 am

As our host noted several years ago, climate “science” and surrounding propaganda is BEYOND PARODY.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
June 9, 2018 9:01 am

Well, I was open to the concept but noted that it had no comparison to a believer’s brain while being faced with evidence contrary to agw.

Reply to  Sunsettommy
June 8, 2018 1:26 pm

Who will fall for it?
Only those who want to.

Reply to  MarkW
June 8, 2018 2:17 pm


One of the benefits of ignorance, is that one skips straight to the comments to understand the article.

Another benefit of ignorance is that I couldn’t fall for it because it looks like every other scientific paper I have ever read, absolute bollox.

Reply to  MarkW
June 9, 2018 2:07 pm

I thought it was a legit paper, but I did not believe it because my skeptic brain rejected it….

Reply to  Sunsettommy
June 8, 2018 8:35 pm

How quickly we forget
Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research
Mark Carey
University of Oregon, USA
, M. Jackson1, Alessandro Antonello1, Jaclyn Rushing1
Progress in Human Geography, Volume: 40 issue: 6, page(s): 770-793

Bill Powers
Reply to  Sunsettommy
June 9, 2018 10:22 am

I had him at “…identifying the many cognitive biases that invalidate arguments put forward by those who profess scepticism in the face of the scientific evidence.”
As it means that skeptics (aka “Deniers) adhere to the scientific method and don’t follow the herd.
But your question of how many fall for it, accelerates generationally. With Millennial Public School students acceptance of majority consensus over scientific skepticism in the 80th percentile.

Reply to  Neil Lock
June 8, 2018 2:01 pm

I’ve been to Positano and I can assure you there is no Behavioral and Cognitive Research Unit.

Reply to  rocketscientist
June 8, 2018 8:31 pm
Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Neil Lock
June 8, 2018 4:46 pm

I believed it was a real study, it is exactly what Lewandowsky believes himself, so if he wrote such a study and published it, it would look like this.

I was confused by the last quoted paragraph after the introduction “In other words”. I read that several times before coming to the conclusion that it was a parody, but I was not 100% sure I interpreted it correctly.

Thanks for clarifying.

Brian R
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
June 8, 2018 10:55 pm

If Lowenbrau had written the paper he wouldn’t have given the cavit of not calling deniers Psychopaths. He would have called them Psychopaths in the title.

Reply to  Brian R
June 12, 2018 5:58 pm


I am not even sure he knows what the true psychiatric definition of a psychopath is. It seems to this academic crowd to be a catch-all term for anyone whose input does not match their confirmation bias.

June 8, 2018 11:12 am

LOL…….NO……the idiots brains are having to work harder to justify it

Mike M.
Reply to  Latitude
June 8, 2018 11:44 am

This is your brain –

This is your brain going in circles chasing its imaginary tail –

Reply to  Latitude
June 8, 2018 2:19 pm



I’m an idiot and I didn’t fall for it.

Nothing wrong with a genuine idiot.

Reply to  Latitude
June 8, 2018 9:07 pm

Should be labelled ‘Normal Paranoid Brain’

Mike M
Reply to  Ticowboy
June 10, 2018 8:39 am

Paranormoid brain!

Jere Krischel
June 8, 2018 11:13 am

The thing that popped out instantly was that they could have written the exact same study, labeling the left brain as “climate alarmist” and the right brain as “normal” 🙂

The a priori assumption that something is “normal” (regardless of what direction), is an error of imagination.

Reply to  Jere Krischel
June 12, 2018 6:05 pm

Use of the term “normal” in psychiatry and psychology (as well as other social sciences) is basic sophistry. It means “anything else we can’t imagine”.

When my residents or fellows or graduate students used the term “normal” in describing their research or clinical endeavors to me, my first question was, “Define normal?” A sort of blank stare, much like the androids in the classic Star Trek episode “I, Mudd” would come over them followed by an insistence that normal was anything lacking a defined pathology.

Diagnosis or reasoning by exclusion is shoddy and unsustainable.

Tom Halla
June 8, 2018 11:14 am

Not quite as heavyhanded a hoax as “The Conceptual Penis as Social Construct”.

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 8, 2018 11:53 am

Hermeneutics of the quantum gravity may be used to deconstruct this brilliant work.

My heart stopped for a second when I thought this was a real work, but then again, there’s a fine line between Lew and fake.

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 8, 2018 1:27 pm

What about feminist glaciers?

Reply to  MarkW
June 8, 2018 2:06 pm


The mind boggles. Suggest anything feminine is frigid, and the entire feminist movement will be down on one in a heartbeat, no, noooooo, not that way!

Actually, that’s not a bad idea. We should encourage the alarmist concept of feminism being a negative and we’ll recruit half the planet in short order.

Or is that just the Dick Dastardly within me?

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Tom Halla
June 8, 2018 1:29 pm

My favorite along those lines was ‘Feminist Glaciology’—except it was intended as a serious paper, not a hoax. The intention sufficed for hoax ridicule. IIRC, WUWT covered it a while back.

Cameron Kuhns
June 8, 2018 11:26 am

They mislabeled the denier brain. It should be labeled Climate Activist Brain.

June 8, 2018 11:26 am

Please let this spoof be a one-time event. I don’t relish being exposed to this level of consternation again.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Bryce Johnson
June 8, 2018 4:16 pm

BJ, I think the opposite. After sunlight, the best disinfectant is ridicule. No only because ridicule always ends with sunlight coming in.
You dont want to be caught out again, take a gander at my ebook The Arts of Truth. One conceptual chapter, six illustartive category chapters, then a penultimate chapter illustrating the whole thing as a climate chapter ‘proofed’ by Richard Lindzen himself. Cheap on Amazon Kindle, a bit more expensive at iBooks.

Craig W
June 8, 2018 11:31 am

“Climate Deniers” are cool thinkers & level headed.

Mike M.
Reply to  Craig W
June 8, 2018 11:45 am

Or just very bored by now.

Al Montgomery
Reply to  Craig W
June 8, 2018 12:08 pm

THINKERS being the key word!!

June 8, 2018 11:31 am

Thanks for the last note about satire.
I was about to break off and post a comment.
Phrenology did come to mind.

June 8, 2018 11:31 am

The only folks that are nuts in this study are the so called scientists doing with work. If I don’t perceive something as a threat based on my cumulative knowledge, study and experience then why would I react to something somebody else is trying to tell me I must fear. Especially when what I have been told about that something to date has been questionable or false. I can see someone using this as an excuse to send us all off to the re-education farms.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 8, 2018 8:41 pm

YES ! You mean the BIT at the END
where you spelt his NAME CORRECTLY !??
RIDWAY indeed !!!!!By gee that’s annoying !!

Reply to  Edwin
June 8, 2018 12:09 pm

Perhaps a re-reading of the entire article will answer all your comments.

June 8, 2018 11:38 am

Thanks for the disclaimer, but I do read The Onion sometimes so I already had my BS detector at max.

Mike M.
June 8, 2018 11:42 am

The difference is between a brain of a rational human bored to tears hearing the same idiotic climate lies over and over again versus that of a sheep scared out of its wits that earth might burn up any second now.

Reply to  Mike M.
June 9, 2018 6:43 am

Personally, I think of Chicken Little.

June 8, 2018 11:45 am

While many “deniers” will discover that the article is a spoof, many of the believers, since it confirms their bias, will merrily accept it as truth.

And that, of course, will confirm what we know: the real folks ignoring the science are the ones claiming it is settled.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 8, 2018 11:53 am

Good move. I did happen to put the cursor on the mysterious symbol.

Gilbert K. Arnold
Reply to  Felix
June 8, 2018 7:32 pm

If you click on the main image and enlarge it the text becomes legible

Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 8, 2018 12:50 pm

It will be interesting to see if it pops up on Alarmist blogs being used as some sort of evidence.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 8, 2018 4:54 pm

I was curious about the little symbol on the bottom right because it looked way too cute, but then, it could be a true company logo too, who knows. But I see now a very faint white print in the middle of the image. It’s unreadable, but I’m sure you could demonstrate that it is the original image and that they were being had.

June 8, 2018 11:49 am

Oh, after showing that my brain doesn’t properly light up, he doesn’t want to insult me.

Climate change deniers? Right out of the box you know this is psuedoscience just on the term.

The only “denial” I have is that these clowns cannot control the climate and, hence, ergo and therefore do not know how to change the climate. So, I suppose I deny their ability.

As for my brain not lighting up is that they put me to sleep.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 8, 2018 2:25 pm

Anthony Watts

Evidently not. But neither did I. Skipping directly to comments is a far better indicator of the value of an article on your site, than the article itself.

And that’s a compliment.

J Mac
June 8, 2018 11:55 am

I think, therefor I am….. skeptical!

Reply to  J Mac
June 8, 2018 2:26 pm

J Mac

I’m sceptical, therefore I think.

Cuts out the middle man.

June 8, 2018 11:59 am

Whose brain would you rather have, Freeman Dyson’s or Michael Mann’s? Ivar Giaever’s or Gavin Schmidt’s? Will Happer’s or James Hansen’s? Michael Crichton’s (when alive) or Naomi Oreskes’? William Gray’s (when alive) or Kevin Trenberth’s? Richard Lindzen’s or Phil Jones’?

Reply to  Felix
June 8, 2018 12:46 pm
Reply to  Jeffrey
June 8, 2018 1:32 pm

Eyegore over Algore any day!

Reply to  Felix
June 8, 2018 12:59 pm

Nicely put.

Reply to  Felix
June 8, 2018 2:27 pm


My own thanks.

It might not be much, but it’s mine.

Reply to  Felix
June 9, 2018 2:19 pm

Maybe I should have said Judith Curry’s or Naomi Oreskes.

Curry was hounded out of academia for being a scientist, while anti-historian Oreskes was rewarded by elevation to the Harvard faculty for d@nying the scientific method.

J Mac
June 8, 2018 12:05 pm

Right brain, left brain? This ain’t no thinking thing!
(This Ain’t) No Thinking Thing – Trace Adkins

Joel Snider
June 8, 2018 12:05 pm

And again, I have to ask, what behavioral traits, presumptions, predeterminations, and personality disorders have to be in place for one to be a warmist?
I would suggest that one of the first is a lack of self-awareness.

James Clarke
June 8, 2018 12:08 pm

“Of particular note are the studies undertaken by Lewandowsky, …”

That’s when I thought it was a spoof!

Reply to  James Clarke
June 8, 2018 1:29 pm

That’s when I believed it!

June 8, 2018 12:12 pm

It’s telling that such a ridiculous topic would generate this study. The inflammatory language used shows that this is not a science article, but propaganda.

June 8, 2018 12:18 pm

For those unfamiliar with the sprawling metropolis that is Positano, Italy, here’s a link to a photo. Or maybe the photo, itself. Who knows what might happen?

The Behavioural and Cognitive Research Unit is located above the outstanding white building 7/8 of the way up the slope, in the green area about a centimeter above the building itself.

June 8, 2018 12:20 pm

It is an interesting time when satire and truth are indistinguishable…

Duncan Smith
June 8, 2018 12:28 pm

This is what believers think den!ers brain’s really look like:
comment image

Reply to  Duncan Smith
June 8, 2018 2:29 pm

Duncan Smith


You stole my driving licence photograph!


June 8, 2018 12:29 pm

Suggestion for improvement for future hoaxes: add at least 10 more footnote citations. Anyone with any experience wouldn’t dare submit a paper to any social science journal with only two references. The footnotes are a signaling mechanism to reviewers that the author is diligent and correctly following the relevant party line.

June 8, 2018 12:30 pm

As soon as I saw that the denier had GREEN in his/her brain, I smelled a rat. Besides, I don’t believe in MRI’s.

June 8, 2018 12:35 pm

The last scan I had they informed me that my brain showed some abnormalities. Of course I denied that they had the ‘science’ to make such a classification.

Tom in Florida
June 8, 2018 12:40 pm

I had a brain scan once, they told me it was negative.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
June 8, 2018 1:02 pm

I, too, had a brain scan once. The doctor said that my brain was perfect. I didn’t disagree, and I remind my wife of those results on a regular basis.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
June 8, 2018 1:18 pm

“They told me it was negative.” Now THAT’S funny.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
June 9, 2018 4:37 pm

I had a brain scan, too, but they didn’t find anything.

June 8, 2018 12:48 pm

Whew!, what a relief. This article had me going. I was about to turn its “logic” back on itself, if the author had not revealed that it was a spoof.

June 8, 2018 12:50 pm

cross-posted comment from Cli-scep:

Nice spoof. However, the mainstream scientific consensus (per AR5), doesn’t support that which the public believes is the consensus, per non-mainstream scientists such as Hansen, i.e. a high probability of near-term (a few decades) catastrophe, absent major emissions cuts. Hence for such a study you’d be pushed to find a group out of the public who ‘accepted the scientific consensus’, given that they don’t even know what this actually is. Similarly, those that reject catastrophe aren’t rejecting mainstream science, so you might also be pushed to find a group of supposed ‘deniers’ from the public too, if you make ‘mainstream science’ your key criteria.

Incidentally, it’s likely that there’s no such condition as denialism, at least as it is framed in the literature. And certainly the supposed tests for it are deeply flawed, essentially just giving academic legitimization for anyone to call out any group they don’t agree with as ‘deniers’. There will at one end of a spectrum of cultural resistance be an extreme fringe that fits some of the touted behaviors. But as this reaction is itself cultural value dependent, it is not a behavior to do with rejection of science as such. Different cultural groups tend on average to be more accepting of science that aligns to their values, and more resistive of the science that challenges their values.

Andrew Cooke
June 8, 2018 12:50 pm

I laughed so hard I cried. Thank you for the humor.

Now for the scary part. Until I read the last part, I thought this was real. I have a great B.S. detector, but this fits the thought processes on the left so well that it seemed real.


June 8, 2018 12:56 pm

I read that. I was concerned because I like butterflies, as long as they don’t land on me, and while I appreciate the stray calico bringing me gifts of dead animals, I don’t want to hurt her feelings by turning her down.
Then I realized that a Door had been opened, and suddenly, I could see again!

I can see! I can see! Thank you , Gaia! I can see! I have feet, too.!

June 8, 2018 12:56 pm

I checked that date after the first sentence. At least you mentioned variability – good on you.

June 8, 2018 12:57 pm

Spoof or not the brain scans make sense. The rational skeptic brain is calm, cool, collected… unafraid. The normal brain is excitable, overheating, irrational and scared of anything being said.

Reply to  Rob Dawg
June 9, 2018 3:28 pm

Bit like the diversionary tactic of banning ‘plastic straws’ and ‘cotton buds’ to save the planet.

R.S. Brown
June 8, 2018 1:03 pm

This is your brain on climate change:

The Reverend Badger
June 8, 2018 1:05 pm

The money wasted on stuff like this would be better spent on some real experiments. Don’t forget “If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong”.

My first suggestion would be further work concerning the gravito-thermal postulations of Loschmidt. This needs clearing up once and foreall as unfortunately even Richard Feynman (if he were alive today) would be unable to accept Antony’s word on it. And I certainly don’t.

Anybody who opposes an experiment is NOT A SCIENTIST!

Reply to  The Reverend Badger
June 8, 2018 1:19 pm

Nobody spent a cent for this “study”.
Just read the note

Reply to  desitter
June 8, 2018 2:34 pm


“……the gravito-thermal postulations of Loschmidt.”

I suspect he got it.

Ken Mitchell
June 8, 2018 1:18 pm

I was ready to call “Bullshit!” on the article —- right up until it was revealed as a hoax. THAT part I believe!

Reply to  Ken Mitchell
June 8, 2018 2:37 pm

Ken Mitchell


Ve leftist superior beings haf recruited another unvitting minion into ze midst of our conspiracy.

Ve ver double bluffing.


Ken Mitchell
June 8, 2018 1:22 pm

You guys need to republish Isaac Asimov’s “article” about the endochronic properties of resublimated thiotimoline.

Rud Istvan
June 8, 2018 1:22 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed Ridgeway’s ‘serious paper’ over at Cliscep. Hands down the second best short science spoof ever. Glad to see it getting much broader exposure via WUWT. Well spotted.

For cogniscenti, IMO the very best of the genre is the paper ‘Quantum Gravity Treatment of the Angel Density Problem’ in Annals of Improbable Research 7(3): 5-7 May 2001. Readily available via google-fu.
Annals is a quite ‘serious’ journal, published by the same Harvard brainiacs who bring us the annual webcast Ig Nobel awards ceremony honoring the years ‘most insignificant’ published science papers. Frequently judged by actual Harvard and MIT Nobelists. Just checked on google—the three most recent Ig Nobel ceremonies are available on line as top hits. Lasr year’s was captioned “the 27th first Ig Nobel Awards for 2017”. Enjoy.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 8, 2018 8:58 pm

I think that a few of you need a check-up with Dr Azuela , the optometrist !
Anthony Watts calls him RIDWAY
Rud Istvan calls him RIDGEWAY
The Author calls himself RIDGWAY………..and I don’t think that THAT was the spoof !

June 8, 2018 1:23 pm

I’m reminded of the Soviets and their habit of putting anyone who disagreed with them into insane asylums.

Reply to  MarkW
June 8, 2018 2:41 pm


You’re trying to tell me I’m not posting this from a global asylum that believes in AGW?

Pull the other one mate, it’s got bells on it.

Reply to  MarkW
June 9, 2018 12:34 pm

Isn’t that anybody that disagrees with Communism? Or in this case, AGW. Just ask Uncle Joe , chairman Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, and the most revered Dear Leader. I think one of the Kennedy’s spoke fondly of the regime in NOKO as the only way to save the planet. And we see what a sterling success Venezuela is.

June 8, 2018 1:25 pm

“are as revealing as any lie detector.”

There’s your problem right there.

June 8, 2018 1:27 pm

The problem with spoofs like this are that they seem realistic given the idiocy of leftist like Lewandowsky. Of course the CAGW crowd wouldn’t have thought to do the inverse and present CAGW believers with counter evidence (how could they? They don’t believe there is counter evidence). Same goes with the rest of their pseudo scientific papers.

June 8, 2018 1:40 pm

How about maybe we’ve seen all there stuff before, it isn’t new to us, and we are not emotionally fired up by lies.

June 8, 2018 1:41 pm

This aberrant, puzzling behaviour, undoubtedly of neuro-biological origin, is hopefully treatable. It may, however, necessitate a period of intensive care in a mental institution. Drug manufacturers, in close collaboration with psychologists, are now researching promising avenues for effective medication.

Reply to  AndyE
June 8, 2018 2:46 pm


Hey man…….chill.

Puff on this spliff dude, and the world will be a better place.

Look, a unicorn, and it’s running so slowly I can touch it.

Whaddya mean that’s not a unicorn horn I’m touching?!!

Roger Knights
June 8, 2018 2:05 pm

Anthony Standen, Science is a Sacred Cow [1950], 205-06:

“And yet, what if the average itself were wrong? … Is it not plausible, and even likely, that most of us have the wrong kind of brain wave?”

Don Healy
June 8, 2018 2:06 pm

Have they conducted a similar on lemmings?

Jonathan Griggs
June 8, 2018 2:59 pm

This was an interesting article to read as I have been dealing with a similar argument around confirmation bias in another area of interest of mine. The accusation goes something like this:

You are not willing to concede any ground to the other side and are therefore you are closed minded about the area of discussion. This makes you a bad person because you are not willing to change your opinion on the subject even with new evidence or arguments.

My response to this is:

I used to be curious, I spent years being curious. In fact I was on the other side of the argument for many of those years. Something always seemed out of place or just wrong but I couldn’t quite figure it out, until one day it hit me. Then I spent several more years trying to reason with my old group, the believers, attempting to find a middle ground and put to rest the areas that bothered me the most. All I received for my troubles were insults, slander, rude behavior, cliched arguments and what can only be described as bullschist responses.

I did not become entrenched in my skepticism overnight, it took years to grow on me. Every time I would try to engage a believer and got yelled down or what have you, I cemented my position a little further. A person can only be treated like a monster or an outcast and remain nice and calm for so long. Now, I no longer go out of my way to engage “believers”. If the subject is brought up I have a succinct list of around 10 reasons why I can no longer trust the majority of claims around the issue, in this case climate science, and if after they hear those reasons they do not get curious and perform their own research then I can’t help them. You can lead a horse to water…

In no particular order and off the top of my head:
1. The earth has been warmer in the past and had higher levels of CO2 without any catastrophes to speak of
2. The warming from the first part of the 20th century is almost identical to the warming of the latter half, but the first was all natural and the second was all/mostly human. How does that make any sense, did nature just give up or something?
3. CO2 is not the most prevalent or the strongest greenhouse gas
4. nearly all of the funding goes to pro-AGW scientists, why is that? In science we are supposed to investigate all possible causes, but we are deliberately saying no, we can’t do that. Looking beyond the current answers is dangerous and a waste of time and money. If that doesn’t set off alarm bells in your head then you are too dense to understand why it is a problem.
5. Consensus means jack-all in science. The history books are littered with examples of people completely turning the beliefs of their day on their heads. That is the whole point in science.
6. Why do the scientists feel the need to modify/correct the data? and why do the corrections almost always make the situation look worse than before? Again, alarm bells.
7. Even if you did accept the premise, the ROI on trying to avoid creating CO2 is not there. Point to Dr. Monckton’s (spelling?) study on this. It is better to adapt as time goes than to worry about trying to prevent something we know so very little about ad cannot even model correctly.
8. Speaking of models, why are there so many why are they all so friggin wrong, and why do we keep spending money making more when they have proven so utterly useless to date in this area. (models are useful in other scientific endeavors #notallmodels)
9. When has large scale government interference in the economy done anything beneficial? Read Thomas Sowell’s description of the great depression and the New Deal.

I have to run to a meeting so can’t think of others. But honestly, if I speak this list to a person and they are still not curious why some of these things are happening, I can’t help them and they are welcome to remain ignorant.

Reed Coray
Reply to  Jonathan Griggs
June 10, 2018 9:45 am

Add to the list: CO2 is NOT a heat-trapping gas for the simple reason that heat cannot be trapped. For two objects in thermal contact, thermal energy (heat) always moves from the higher-temperature object to the lower-temperature object. No substance known to man can or will “trap” (i.e., keep) the thermal energy in the higher-temperature object.

June 8, 2018 3:14 pm

I had a brain scan once, as part of an experiment. The experiment was to mate the smartest man in my city with the most beautiful woman. When I was born, they scanned me and said ‘congratulations…you have the looks of your father’
its been downhill ever since

June 8, 2018 3:30 pm

Climate is chaotic (i.e. observable and reproducible inside a limited frame of reference a.k.a. scientific frame of reference). Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is progressive (i.e. monotonic).

That said, I wonder how this observation compares to the neurobiology of evolution (e.g. life process) denial, including selective-child, one-child, recycled-child, etc.

David Walton
June 8, 2018 3:31 pm

Regarding the spoof, it is really quite plausible. How is it the real clowns like these manage to draw a salary? Oh wait, my bad, they are “academics.”

Rud Istvan
June 8, 2018 3:42 pm

Apologies if this ends up sort of a double post. Original disappeared hours ago after a one word misspelling edit. [Lesson, do NOT switch internet stuff before edit times out.] So to paraphrase the previous comment missive:
Thoroughly enjoyed this ‘science paper’ spoof over at CliScep. Glad it now has much wider exposure at WUWT, replete with AW’s brilliant spoof figure watermark. IMO second best ever.

In my opinion the best ever of this genre was the ‘brilliant’ paper, ‘Quantum Gravity Treatment of the Angel Density Problem’, published May 2001 in the journal ‘Annals of Improbable Research’ 7(3): 5-7. Readily available in many (variously now illustrated) forms via google fu.

For science sarcasm cognoscenti like Kip Hansen and David Middleton here at WUWT, Annals is a Harvard ‘research’ publication produced by the same Harvard brainiacs that produce the annual (webcast from historic Sanders Theater) Ig Nobel awards ceremony for the best peer reviewed papers ‘that make you laugh, then think’. Awards from actual Harvard (and maybe MIT) actual Nobelists. Award includes a statue, a paper certificate, and for 2017 $10 trillion dollars. Alas, Zimbabwe dollars. Ceremony was themed UNCERTAINTY (maybe) (so particularly climte responsive) is easily googled by its title ‘27th first annual Ig Nobels 2017’. Enjoy.

Non Nomen
June 8, 2018 3:59 pm

It must have been peer reviewed. Mentioning Lewandowsky, Cook et al made it so authentic…

Robert of Texas
June 8, 2018 4:03 pm

OMG…ROFL…cannot breath… 8-D

I am happy to suffer from “functional neuroanatomy of psychopathy”, and proud of it! I would say I am curious as to the lack of brain function, but I just learned that I am not supposed to be curious about anything.

My theory on the brain scan – a skeptic can easily spot the BS and does not waste brain cycles while the “normal brain” just spins in circles trying to process it. LOL

This was fun!

June 8, 2018 4:05 pm

I was thinking to myself, “Please tell me this is a parody, . . . ” and then he did.

June 8, 2018 4:16 pm

I’m sorry the fMRI images were mislabeled. The “Normal Brain” should have been labeled “Warmist/Environmentalist/The World is Going to End Soon Brain” and the “Climate Denier Brain” should have been labeled “Normal Brain.”

On a side note… I didn’t know there were two April 1st this year.

Gunga Din
June 8, 2018 4:32 pm

comment image
“The Glowing Brain”.
Didn’t MST3000 do a send off of that?

Gunga Din
Reply to  Gunga Din
June 8, 2018 4:44 pm

“John Ridgway, says this about the essay originally published at CliScep.

I apologise for any embarrassment caused, but I think the plausibility of the article, such that it has any, is a testimony to the wealth of nonsense that can be found out there.”

WHAT!!! You think MST3000 is NONSciENSE!!!!
As Johnny Carson once said, “May the Bluebird of Happiness fly up your nose.”
(Good job!)

June 8, 2018 4:45 pm

I’m thinking of that scene from Young Frankenstein (or maybe it’s Frankensteen?) where Marty Feldman picks ‘the wrong brain’!

Reply to  Charles Nelson
June 8, 2018 8:45 pm

“Abby Normal”

Mike M.
Reply to  Charles Nelson
June 12, 2018 3:09 pm

June 8, 2018 5:29 pm

First I was fooled, thinking that this was one of the more brain dead amongst the warmista horde, one who managed to pack an unusually dense assemblage of biased and irrational statements and examples of logical fallacy into a few sentences.
Then I was thinking that these guys who study this stuff have proven to me over many years that they routinely imagine elaborate explanations for what are in reality inscrutable data beyond the ability of any person to accurately assess…like assigning thought processes to maps of blood flow to the brain, or coming to sweeping conclusions about the inner workings of a persons mind based on some answers given on a questionnaire or results of some cognitive test or drill.
I saw this occurring again and again in article after article when I had, for a time, subscribed to Scientific American Mind. Some person looks at how some other people react to something, and decide they can draw accurate conclusions about some detail of the subject’s minds from how they interpret the results.

Then I was thinking that it was a near perfect example of psychological transference in nearly every single word of the article, and it was clear who are the ones with the cognitive biases. And how people that are incredibly cognitively biased writing article assessing such in others is about as perfect an example or irony as one might invent.

At various times I wondered how these geniuses accounted for people that changed their minds?
And finally it all made a tiny bit of sense to me for the first time, and had to read it twice at the end to be sure I was correctly reading that it was revealing to be a hoax.

The explanation tacked onto the end was not needed.

June 8, 2018 6:07 pm

The Onion has been on a roll lately, funny stuff.

Rud Istvan
June 8, 2018 6:40 pm

Ok, mods. i have tried twice using different refs to vomment for a clean forum here, apparently objected to WP is only a blocked Harvard link, the Annals of Improbable Research. Taken down twice is twice too much for any blog. So, explain or I reconsider any future posts as many in past here. Not a threat, just a factual promise. Fix or ‘else’

June 8, 2018 7:46 pm

comment image

John in Redding
June 8, 2018 7:49 pm

“We were interested to see how the pattern of neural activity differed between climate change deniers and those who accept the scientific consensus.” Once again they view it as who got the most votes- consensus.

“a cognitive bias in which new evidence is too readily rejected in favour of experiences that carry personal, emotional salience.” I don’t know who they used to perform these fMRI studies but I know, for myself, I have read extensively on this issue. There is not too many aspects of it that I have not already read about and know why the information is unconvincing. If it is similar to what I have already reviewed, I would not be engaging in much thinking about what is being witten/said. The science is majorly flawed. More and more top named scientists are finally willing to step out to say as much. This consensus idea is an attempt to shame people and it is not working. The psychology analysis is just another attempt to influence a few who might be easily intimidated.

Geoff Sherrington
June 8, 2018 8:06 pm

Like me, you can become immune to study using MRI if you have a pacemaker to help your heart.
As an aside, the weakness of ‘serious’ papers contrasting the said parties is that the investigators seem to have models of how and why skeptics think, but no idea if those models are accurate or relevant.
I am skeptical of global warming hypotheses because nobody has been able to provide a clear figure for sensitivity to CO2, one that excludes zero as a candiate; also because there is yet no method to separate quantitative natural and anthropogenic contributions to past change.
Should these fundamental doubts, one that have to be cleared before the ideas ever get off the ground, cause me to be labelled as idiotic or uncomprehending or evil or deficient in some way?
I think not. Geoff.

June 8, 2018 8:49 pm

A climate skeptic “War of the Worlds” late April 1st alarum.

It would be funny, if it didn’t exactly mimic the laughable science claims of alarmists.
As it is, it’s grimly sardonic.

Mike of the North
June 8, 2018 9:39 pm

I’ve come to believe these people are so wanting of approval that they just don’t really understand science or care to. They themselves are an example of this crowd mentality of needing to be in the ‘correct’ and ‘accepted’ arena put forth by the media. Sad, but most people are pretty fucking stupid when it comes down to it. A lot of these idiots are my friends too, and I’m growing tired of arguing with them when all they can do is quote Bill Nye or some other moron.

June 8, 2018 10:20 pm

The devil hates to be mocked.
Mocking, humiliating, satirizing, roll-on-the-floor lol@ the climate kooks is exactly what is needed.
This is a great start.

June 9, 2018 12:06 am

in this instance the fMRI results simply indicate an unusually low paralimbic reaction to a perceived threat.”

when they class those who are easily alarmed by such propagandic images as “normal brain” they are clearly testifying to their own biases. The whole alarmist movement is based on creating a fear reaction to push acceptance of their agenda.

Reply to  Greg
June 9, 2018 12:13 am

OK, just seen the footnote that this was a spoof. Sadly it is very credible because it so clearly follows the kind of crap which gets published in PR literature every day of the year and kind of commentary that flows from it . Cleverly written.

CAGW movement is such a parody of itself it is impossible to parody as our host discoved some years back when he wanted to an April Fool’s article.

Climate “science” is beyond parody.

June 9, 2018 1:36 am

“Of particular note are the studies undertaken by Lewandowsky, Kahneman, Shapiro and O’Conner, identifying the many cognitive biases that invalidate arguments put forward by those who profess scepticism in the face of the scientific evidence”

I was rejecting it as soon as I read the above – anyone who thinks Lew… is even worth typing the name clearly isn’t tracking right.

Plus I’ve done some reading about actual studies that disagree entirely with the article so I was kinda ready for the end… 😀


As you can gather from the 2 links, ‘conspiracists’ (their term, I prefer ‘contrarians’) are saner than ‘conventionalists’ – and less hostile. 😀

June 9, 2018 2:04 am

Ok, now present to the brainwashed blind believers of the Climastrology Church contrary evidence, see what happens with their brain. 🙂

June 9, 2018 2:06 am

What reasoning do they have when you have an extremely high IQ and still reject climate alarm-ism? Perhaps the ‘normal’ brain to them is a brain that can be easily led with circular logic, an appeal to authority, and an acceptance as fact of statements that are in opposition to reality.

Ian H
June 9, 2018 4:36 am

Spoofing is fine. I’m less happy about the obviously false data you created to make your spoof.

In my experience the foolishness of Lew and Co revolves around the perverse interpretations they place on quite banal and ordinary data. Your spoof would have been a lot more convincing and realistic if the brain scans showed skeptic brains working just fine; yet the paper contrived to perversely interpret this as evidence of deficiency.

Reply to  Ian H
June 9, 2018 3:19 pm

Loosen up Ian H. This article is as clever and funny as Python could ever get. Remember the ‘Judian Peoples Front’.

June 9, 2018 5:28 am

Every time there is a discussion from the leftists about brain function, my mind jumps to “Abby Normal” scene in Young Frankenstein. Is that “normal” or “abby normal”?

Alan D McIntire
June 9, 2018 7:17 am

“..we looked for differences whilst they considered the evidence put forward for anthropogenic climate change’

Would we have gotten ‘mirror image’ results if the evidence provided were DEBUNKING CAGW?

How about evidence presented FOR astrology, FOR UFOs, FOR Atlantis, the lost continent? Would deniers of those ALSO show signs of psychopathy?

Thomas Black
June 9, 2018 7:57 am

The picture of the two brains is a classic, I’m printing it and showing it to my alarmist friends.

June 9, 2018 8:16 am

The biggest problem with the study is that the researchers were totally mistaken as to which reaction was normal and which was the pathology.

June 9, 2018 8:22 am

This paper proves that the only Science involved in global warming is Political Science.
They can’t prove global warming so they use propaganda , thought control, outright lies and
Pseudo Science to make the deplorables behave.

June 9, 2018 8:27 am

Even the Onion would not use a graph that is so clearly fiction.

Wil Raps
June 9, 2018 11:49 am

Thanks for relaying the awareness people should have to recognize their own CB

June 10, 2018 2:23 am

Apropos of not a lot, as the erudite are wont to say in the UK, this post put me in mind of the second discussion between Sam Harris & Jordan Peterson, in which they discuss how moral imperatives are relative to the values of the culture in which the inhabitants live & operate. The Dobu were obsessed with witchcraft, so much so, that Reo Fortune (1932) wrote: “The ladder of social ambition is that of successful magic.” Likewise, with the NeoMarxist climate change pseudo scientists: “The ladder to financial success is changing the language from CAGW to Climate Change & thereafter, denying all other discussion.”

The Dobu culture has changed, but the social sciences now taught in most universities have polluted critical thinking & rationality. Please enjoy the discussion.on meaning & chaos.

Reply to  Perry
June 10, 2018 8:40 pm

I’d give you a pile of up-votes for this one if I could.

Eamon Butler
June 10, 2018 2:51 am

Oh good. That’s many years of expensive therapy averted.

Michael Ozanne
June 10, 2018 3:08 am

Wasn’t it established that most work done trying to link MRI images to behaviour was a load of dingoes kidneys anyway….

June 10, 2018 6:54 am

Just goes to show that you can get any type of nonsense published. Who pays for this junk?

June 10, 2018 2:38 pm

Great satire of Lewandowsky-style pseudoscience, ruined at the end by Ridgway’s superfluous, apologetic, explanation of his clever little joke.

John Ridgway
June 11, 2018 7:38 am


Yes, the explanatory endnote is superfluous, but you have to appreciate that it wasn’t originally written as an explanatory endnote. It was posted against the original article as a response to a specific comment, and its re-appearance here (purely upon the initiative of the WUWT editorship) places it out of context. The apology and explanation was aimed at a specific individual and any others who might make the same mistake. I trust you appreciate that sometimes one has to cede to editorial prerogative, particularly when one’s work is adopted.

Reply to  John Ridgway
June 11, 2018 3:20 pm

John: Understand, and thanks. Happens to me all the time.

June 12, 2018 5:55 pm

I find myself continually cautioning against these very biased studies with dubious methodologies and especially low study populations which social scientists often use to push a particular agenda. We already have had enough bad medical science (Wakefield’s vaccine data, the Harvard Puerto Rican hurricane death overestimations, the Iraq war death mortality fiasco, etc.) that this attempted marriage of brain imaging study proves nothing but some fool foundation or government paid for a pile of hogwash. It also tells us a lot about the deep problems with over-reliance on peer groupthink review processes for journals and other publication media. Unfortunately, what this fake paper did was to reinforce the problems with peer-review and the fact that some politician or lesser-informed faculty fanatic would take it as gospel. Because, after all, anything published is correct, right?

June 15, 2018 4:12 pm

Absolutely brilliant! Not surprised one bit.

June 15, 2018 4:12 pm

Brilliant!! Hahaha.. not surprised.

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