Why we may never be able to change minds on the climate issue

Even after the evidence “for their beliefs has been totally refuted, people fail to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs,” the researchers noted.

From a story in the New Yorker.

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason.

Excerpts :

“Once formed,” the researchers observed dryly, “impressions are remarkably perseverant.”

Even after the evidence “for their beliefs has been totally refuted, people fail to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs,” the researchers noted. In this case, the failure was “particularly impressive,” since two data points would never have been enough information to generalize from.

The Stanford studies became famous. Coming from a group of academics in the nineteen-seventies, the contention that people can’t think straight was shocking. It isn’t any longer. Thousands of subsequent experiments have confirmed (and elaborated on) this finding. As everyone who’s followed the research—or even occasionally picked up a copy of Psychology Today—knows, any graduate student with a clipboard can demonstrate that reasonable-seeming people are often totally irrational. Rarely has this insight seemed more relevant than it does right now. Still, an essential puzzle remains: How did we come to be this way?


In a new book, “The Enigma of Reason” (Harvard), the cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber take a stab at answering this question. Mercier, who works at a French research institute in Lyon, and Sperber, now based at the Central European University, in Budapest, point out that reason is an evolved trait, like bipedalism or three-color vision. It emerged on the savannas of Africa, and has to be understood in that context.

Consider what’s become known as “confirmation bias,” the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them. Of the many forms of faulty thinking that have been identified, confirmation bias is among the best catalogued; it’s the subject of entire textbooks’ worth of experiments. One of the most famous of these was conducted, again, at Stanford. For this experiment, researchers rounded up a group of students who had opposing opinions about capital punishment. Half the students were in favor of it and thought that it deterred crime; the other half were against it and thought that it had no effect on crime.

The students were asked to respond to two studies. One provided data in support of the deterrence argument, and the other provided data that called it into question. Both studies—you guessed it—were made up, and had been designed to present what were, objectively speaking, equally compelling statistics. The students who had originally supported capital punishment rated the pro-deterrence data highly credible and the anti-deterrence data unconvincing; the students who’d originally opposed capital punishment did the reverse. At the end of the experiment, the students were asked once again about their views. Those who’d started out pro-capital punishment were now even more in favor of it; those who’d opposed it were even more hostile.

If reason is designed to generate sound judgments, then it’s hard to conceive of a more serious design flaw than confirmation bias. Imagine, Mercier and Sperber suggest, a mouse that thinks the way we do. Such a mouse, “bent on confirming its belief that there are no cats around,” would soon be dinner. To the extent that confirmation bias leads people to dismiss evidence of new or underappreciated threats—the human equivalent of the cat around the corner—it’s a trait that should have been selected against. The fact that both we and it survive, Mercier and Sperber argue, proves that it must have some adaptive function, and that function, they maintain, is related to our “hypersociability.”

Mercier and Sperber prefer the term “myside bias.” Humans, they point out, aren’t randomly credulous. Presented with someone else’s argument, we’re quite adept at spotting the weaknesses. Almost invariably, the positions we’re blind about are our own.

Steven Sloman, a professor at Brown, and Philip Fernbach, a professor at the University of Colorado, are also cognitive scientists. They, too, believe sociability is the key to how the human mind functions or, perhaps more pertinently, malfunctions. They begin their book, “The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone” (Riverhead), with a look at toilets.

Virtually everyone in the United States, and indeed throughout the developed world, is familiar with toilets. A typical flush toilet has a ceramic bowl filled with water. When the handle is depressed, or the button pushed, the water—and everything that’s been deposited in it—gets sucked into a pipe and from there into the sewage system. But how does this actually happen?

In a study conducted at Yale, graduate students were asked to rate their understanding of everyday devices, including toilets, zippers, and cylinder locks. They were then asked to write detailed, step-by-step explanations of how the devices work, and to rate their understanding again. Apparently, the effort revealed to the students their own ignorance, because their self-assessments dropped. (Toilets, it turns out, are more complicated than they appear.)

Sloman and Fernbach see this effect, which they call the “illusion of explanatory depth,” just about everywhere. People believe that they know way more than they actually do. What allows us to persist in this belief is other people. In the case of my toilet, someone else designed it so that I can operate it easily. This is something humans are very good at. We’ve been relying on one another’s expertise ever since we figured out how to hunt together, which was probably a key development in our evolutionary history. So well do we collaborate, Sloman and Fernbach argue, that we can hardly tell where our own understanding ends and others’ begins.

“One implication of the naturalness with which we divide cognitive labor,” they write, is that there’s “no sharp boundary between one person’s ideas and knowledge” and “those of other members” of the group.

This borderlessness, or, if you prefer, confusion, is also crucial to what we consider progress. As people invented new tools for new ways of living, they simultaneously created new realms of ignorance; if everyone had insisted on, say, mastering the principles of metalworking before picking up a knife, the Bronze Age wouldn’t have amounted to much. When it comes to new technologies, incomplete understanding is empowering.

Where it gets us into trouble, according to Sloman and Fernbach, is in the political domain. It’s one thing for me to flush a toilet without knowing how it operates, and another for me to favor (or oppose) an immigration ban without knowing what I’m talking about. Sloman and Fernbach cite a survey conducted in 2014, not long after Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. Respondents were asked how they thought the U.S. should react, and also whether they could identify Ukraine on a map. The farther off base they were about the geography, the more likely they were to favor military intervention. (Respondents were so unsure of Ukraine’s location that the median guess was wrong by eighteen hundred miles, roughly the distance from Kiev to Madrid.)

Surveys on many other issues have yielded similarly dismaying results. “As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding,” Sloman and Fernbach write. And here our dependence on other minds reinforces the problem. If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.

“This is how a community of knowledge can become dangerous,” Sloman and Fernbach observe. The two have performed their own version of the toilet experiment, substituting public policy for household gadgets. In a study conducted in 2012, they asked people for their stance on questions like: Should there be a single-payer health-care system? Or merit-based pay for teachers? Participants were asked to rate their positions depending on how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the proposals. Next, they were instructed to explain, in as much detail as they could, the impacts of implementing each one. Most people at this point ran into trouble. Asked once again to rate their views, they ratcheted down the intensity, so that they either agreed or disagreed less vehemently.

Sloman and Fernbach see in this result a little candle for a dark world. If we—or our friends or the pundits on CNN—spent less time pontificating and more trying to work through the implications of policy proposals, we’d realize how clueless we are and moderate our views. This, they write, “may be the only form of thinking that will shatter the illusion of explanatory depth and change people’s attitudes.”

One way to look at science is as a system that corrects for people’s natural inclinations. In a well-run laboratory, there’s no room for myside bias; the results have to be reproducible in other laboratories, by researchers who have no motive to confirm them. And this, it could be argued, is why the system has proved so successful. At any given moment, a field may be dominated by squabbles, but, in the end, the methodology prevails. Science moves forward, even as we remain stuck in place.

Full story here

Advertisements

150 thoughts on “Why we may never be able to change minds on the climate issue

    • Oh dear.

      If I were a Newfoundland fisherman and lived by the sea every day of my entire life and my house were a couple of hundred feet inland from my boat, I wouldn’t believe that sea level was rising at an alarming rate. My boat would be tied to the same wharf my grandfather used (unless we had been forced by the government to move house literally).

      My observation of Newfoundland fishermen is that they are wonderful people who do care about others.

      • If Denise’s position on, say, rising sea levels is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Joe and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Climate Change hoax. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

    • Yeah the mean glaciers that have been melting and causing the sea level to rise since the last ice age are indeed very uncaring.

    • Rising Sea levels don’t affect the people who have doubt so they don’t believe, some pe[r]sons don’t care about others

      The trouble of this statement is two-fold.

      It assumes that (antropogenic GW-mediated) rising sea levels have an effect on some people. This is basically not true. People don’t build on a 50mm margin onto the sea level, and if build, they expect to be inundated by waves, tides, king tides, and storm surges, let alone the possible local subsidence, human-made or not. Second, we don’t doubt sea level rise as such. It is a most certain fact, measured at ports for ages already.

      You make the assumption that some people somehow are unempathic. This is rather wrong and prevents you from understanding. The key difference between me and you is policy. What I want is that we do politics that is both effective and cost-effective. What you want, is that we do something to mitigate, not caring about the cost.

      What baffles me is the incredible speed after some fairly good posting, someone ends up throwing two comments oline – the first comment, and the first critical comment.

    • “The fact that both we and it survive, Mercier and Sperber argue, proves that it must have some adaptive function, ”

      This Stanford study needs another chapter. How about taking two opposing opinion groups regarding issue A and giving them two studies, one that cogently argues for A and one that presents weak and flawed, ad hominem arguments against A? Then, see if anyone changed their mind.

      For AGW, when you present the real data and contrast it with the false, cherrypicked, and biased propaganda of the AGW group, people often change their minds and become skeptics. Add to the discussion facts regarding the politically-biased IPCC that supports the UN’s Agenda 21 and it’s easy to change minds.

      Pretending that such issues regarding AGW are a competition of two very rational positions is ingenuous and misleading. It is far from such, one is honest and the other is not.

    • Yours is a classic example of argumentum ad passiones, or argument from emotion, often used by those with no facts to back up their argument.

      • How is this for being ……. a classic example of argumentum ad passions?

        These people are really, really, REALLY sick, to wit:.

        Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has suggested that the United States would have “blood on our hands” if legislation is not passed to tackle climate change. Her comments came during a House Oversight Committee hearing Tuesday with John Kerry, the former Secretary of State, and Chuck Hagel, the former Secretary of Defense,

        Kerry replied: “As long as we do nothing, congresswoman, we are complicit in our acts of omission and commission of what we’re doing to choose for our energy, etc. And we’re going to contribute to people dying, we’re going to contribute to trillions of dollars of damage to property and we will change the face of life on this planet.”

        During the hearing, Kerry also praised Ocasio-Cortez for offering “more leadership in one day or one week than President Trump has in his lifetime” on climate change.
        Read more HERE

        • Kerry is also the one that said the US could eliminate all of its emissions and it would still not be enough to stop catastrophic warming.

          • Kerry was also a chief negotiator of the Paris Accords which allow a China and India to continue increasing CO2 emissions. If GLOBAL warming is such an issue, then why does the largest emitter of CO2 on the globe get to continue increasing emissions?

        • Ms. Cortez seems to have provided Pied Piper leadership- entice uneducated or uncaring into walking into leading innocents to die, either in the dark of the cave, or to drown in the water.

          Blindly following unworkable plans to stop an unknown possible event is equally immoral.

    • “Liberals seem to assume that, if you don’t believe in their particular political solutions, then you don’t really care about the people that they claim to want to help.”

      Thomas Sowell

    • I just love the way warmistas automatically assume that those who don’t agree with them are “uncaring” individuals.

      I guess it beats actually dealing with the science and the facts.

    • “Denise Salmon April 12, 2019 at 2:15 am
      Rising Sea levels don’t affect the people who have doubt so they don’t believe, some pesons{sic} don’t care about others”

      An irrational emotionalism that demonizes skeptics who recognize that sea level is a zero danger issue; by paying close attention to data instead of emotional wailing.

      There is no increase in the rate of sea level rise; meaning that sea level is rising at the same rate as it has since the LIA, at most a few mm per year.

      “some pesons{sic} don’t care about others”</i?; let’s talk about how little you care about the skeptical people you demonize, who can support their positions with proven observations?
      A) sea level rise is not frightening, It is normal since glaciers retreated.
      B) sea level rise has not increased ocean danger to anyone. The Netherlands prove that handily.

      Instead, fools rant and rave about “sea level rise” when they really should be taking their local planning boards to task for allowing construction in known flood plains.

      Why would Denise Salmon demonize and denigrate skeptics who insist on facts instead of naming and shaming misbehaving planning boards and zoning officials?

      • Isn’t it funny how the first person to post demonstrates (in just one sentence) exactly what the article is about?

    • Since Holocene High Stand, sea levels have dropped by roughly two meters. In the past 150-years, sea levels have raised by 8″ in the past 150-years along with the mild thaw up out of the coldest era of the past 8000 years…

      Sun Cycles 24-27 should see sea levels dropping by an inch or so…

      • The late Prof Fairbridge, arguably the most famous weatherman in the world in the 20th Century, agreed with the two metre figure. He noted there were old seashores on the East Coast of Australia two m above the present sea level.

        On the E coast of Ireland there are multiple sea level lines above the present one, some at different angles. The same is true in Italy.

        In the book “Waterworlds” there are described multiple ancient cities now drowned in the sea off. Both coasts of India and other places.

        Sea level goes up, it goes down. Why is anyone surprised? If it goes up a couple of metres in the next two hundred years, we’ll move. Well, our great-great-great grandchildren will.

        By then, people will be cooperating globally in permanent peace.

    • Your statement is a Logical fallacy of false equivalence Ms Salmon. Care of others has zero to do with your moral falsehood.

      Belief in rising is far from accepting the CAGW scam of accelerating SLR.
      But depriving developing nations an affordable energy pathway out of poverty seems to escape your “care of others”, and only if wealthy Westerners expensive high rise on Miami Beach has to deal with slowly rising seas.

    • Is that few millimeters a year affecting you, Denise?

      Or is that FACT simply not penetrating your oh-so-sensitive, caring mind?

      While you pass judgment on all of us.

    • Denise, have you actually looked at all of the tidal gauge graphs and data? Have you read the literature about subsidence? Many alarmists don’t know that subsidence is the real culprit in communities affected by so called SLR. Frequently, the ground is sinking at rates multiples of SLR. Read about the experience in Bangkok over the last century. And then read about the 100+ skyscrapers that have been built there in the last 30 years.

      Spend a few days doing basic research about how fast seas are actually rising based on observational data. The portrayals by MSM often exaggerate reality.

    • Troll Bait! a meaningless comment to draw irate responses.
      Any proof for “Rising Sea levels don’t affect the people who have doubt so they don’t believe”.
      This kind of statement is designed to draw censorious responses and not discussion. The only discussion possible is to say “Nonsense” and move on.

      “some pesons don’t care about others”. Equally vapid and meaningless. The vague “some” could mean 5 out of 320million, or 319,999,995, or anything in between.

    • And as the day winds to it’s close, notice Denise had no comment other than her little drive-by insult.

    • Rising Sea levels don’t affect the people who have doubt so they don’t believe, some pesons don’t care about others

      And sea levels that aren’t rising at any significant rate, don’t affect those who do care about others; neither do they affect those who don’t care about others.

      See – my opinion hasn’t changed by observing facts; neither is it changed by listening to the rants of those who rely on models rather than facts. Because my opinion is based on facts available to me. That’s one of the consequences of being a scientist.

    • Reason is the use of logic to evaluate the truth of a proposition.
      It is a learned behavior.
      What one does repeatedly is what he becomes.
      Natural rejection will take care of the stupid.

      I’m going for the children- before they are infected
      I’m going to make them immune to stupid
      There will be an irrevocable renaissance
      They will rule the planet in the end.

      The -=Crown of Creation=- project is an achievement by individuals, volunteers, spanning the globe who have never met.
      It is sufficient that they have honor, reason and share a common purpose.
      Man is magnificent.
      There is a Darwin Award for living right.
      Get some. We deliver.

      • Yes. An antidote to UN K-12, Core Curriculum, that’s Education for Utopia, aimed at doing a make over of childrens’ minds via emotional ‘learning,’ to produce the Soros’ funded Central European University’s ‘encumbered’ individual and social justice warrior.
        ( Take a look at Invisible Serfs Collar blog on Core Curriculum content and intent.)

        • My impression: Anyone over 60, like me, knows our grandchildren have been dumbed down by global public education curriculum (creating ideologically assimilated students), planned search engine results tailored for them and social media profiling planning what they see as search results or social media feeds…..while their parents, our own children, having been working to put food on the table weren’t controlling their own children’s access to the media delivered propaganda… Anyone in my age group likely knows this was a simple strategy of intentional profiling to launch a sneak attack upon our grandchildren, encouraging them to disrespect lessons of the the past (even their parents and grandparents) for a Utopian quick-fix stupidity of climate koolaid which they have drank oh so willingly, to fit in on their peer bandwagon..(age typically) predictable tactics of propagandists….our grandchildren march to the drum of irrationality because they have no interest in knowing history..even of 50 years ago..even ours, their grandparents.

          • You failed, didn’t you?
            You blame anonymous strangers to evade responsibility.
            That’s what you taught your children about responsibility, grandpa.
            You had them for years before you allowed them to become infected.
            You had them in the crib.
            You did not pass along enlightenment with every bedtime story when it would have made all the difference.
            You did pass along your habits.
            You made those monstrosities.

    • Denise Salmon
      On your climate science-free
      emotional comment:

      Sea level is rising a few millimeters a year.

      So what.

      It’s been rising for 20.000 years !

      Up over 400 feet so far !

      No acceleration from global warming
      seen in stable tide gauge data.

      I care about others, that’s why I publish
      a climate science blog as a public service,
      to help people understand real science.

      Not wild guess predictions of a coming
      climate change catastrophe that began
      over 60 years ago … meanwhile the climate
      keeps getting better and better … while
      you smarmy leftists deliberately try to
      scare people FOR NO LOGICAL REASON !

      I bet you had no idea the average temperature
      barely changed in the past 15 years, through
      the end of 2018.

      But then ding ding ding bats like you
      would never let real data and facts get in the way
      of your leftist near-religious climate beliefs.

      My climate science blog.
      Almost 32,000 page vies so far:
      http://www.elOnionBloggle.Blogspot.com

    • You are correct Denise… people demand that others pay for their ridiculous uneducated climate beliefs!

    • Can’t help but note that banks are still making long term loans for coastal developments. I’m pretty sure the banks would not be doing that if there was a real possibility of dramatic sea rise in next couple of decades.

  1. Central European University I think you will find is no longer situated in Hungary, removed because of its links to Soros. Agreed the author was probably working there when doing this research
    It is now located in Vienna.

  2. ” If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.” I lost interest at that point. Actually, you also get Al Gore and AOC. In Spades.

    • Agreed, that immediately tells me how closed minded the author is. Note that I would think the same if he had written “Obama” instead.

    • That did kind of stick out, like a sore thumb, in an otherwise interesting review. But to be clear these are the useless musings of the New Yorker author Elizabeth Kolbert who has, based on a review of her recent work, quite the case of TDS. She obviously didn’t quite get the point of Sloman and Fernbachs book. Perhaps these researchers can use Liz as a good case study in future work.

      • RichDo: Exactly, my thought when I came to a bump, at the mention of Trump in the article. Good journalism is a lost art, it is more about using every-study they can to put a climate change spin or anti-Trump spin into the article. Liz is an anecdotal example of “myside bias.”, the current ying vs yang of Democrats against Trump, mainly because he’s not Hillary.

        • PaWi: ‘Exactly, my thought when I came to a bump, at the mention of Trump in the article.’

          This is the New Yorker, so the journalist is writing for a certain audience. There is also an ironical undertone, in keeping with the magazine’s ethos.

          And to be fair, the journalist does add later on: ‘If we—or our friends or the pundits on CNN—spent less time pontificating and more trying to work through the implications of policy proposals, we’d realize how clueless we are and moderate our views.’

          So she’s critiquing both sides of the fence.

          Interesting, though, that you’re the third person to nod approvingly to the original post in this chain. Perhaps there’s something in the claim that we ‘can hardly tell where our own understanding ends and others’ begins’.

      • Oh the irony. The article was good but it doesn’t mean they understand the stuff at the personal level.

      • In the financial world, an investor will often “talk his own book,” which means he tries to convince others to act in a way which would benefit him financially, though his arguments are presented as if they are those of an objective “expert.”

        The “experts” in other fields are no different. The goal is to sway opinion in a way that enhances the wealth, power, and prestige of the “experts,” and those who support them. The public has finally figured out the grift, which is why the claims and policy proposals of the “experts” don’t usually have much impact.

        If you don’t buy what you’re being sold, other “experts” will then attempt to understand why you and your kind are so damned irrational, why you would ignore all the “experts” and support Trump.

        In the end though, it really comes down to the fact that we all, “talk our own book.”

    • Agreed!

      Why mention Trump? An obvious attempt to pander to those who are already depending upon negative emotions, not facts.

      This type of work smacks of loserandowsky’s malignant writings.

    • Just kind of a variation on Godwin’s Law (Godwin’s rule of Hitler analogies). Just substitute Trump for Hitler.

  3. Exactly.
    and our diet, increasingly reliant on carbohydrate did it.
    It makes you slow, thick-headed, lazy & buck passing, forgetful, sleepy and because the glucose attempts to monopolise any available water within you, causes dehydration > headaches > grumpiness and belligerence.

    A truly stellar example on MSN this morning, also here:
    http://time.com/5552041/does-red-wine-help-you-live-longer/

    In the 1990s, some researchers observed that French people—despite eating lots of saturated fat—tended to have low rates of heart disease. Dubbing this phenomenon the “French paradox,” the researchers speculated that regular wine consumption may be protecting their hearts from disease.

    Note how they find it utterly impossible to even think that it may be the saturated fat that is helping those folks live longer.

    Believe or not, but an epic bureaucratic bungle leading into Xmas 2016 lead to butter disappearing from shops in France – I’d absolutely assert = another tiny part of what is propelling the Gilets Jaunes.
    Because Europe was awash with butter but the French Government fouled things up so badly it simply vanished from French shops.
    Now thanks to Brexit, election canvassers from both main parties in this country are finding themselves being shouted, sworn and spat at. The English version of the Gilets- it seems there’s one behind every house front door in the UK
    https://news.sky.com/story/brexit-backlash-party-activists-fear-hostility-could-turn-sinister-11691211

    See when they noted the start? 1970’s?
    The remedy is equally simple = wind your diet back to what you were eating prior to, lets say, 1965.
    So simple.
    Innit a coincidence that that when Richard Feynman was ‘at his best’ Apollo program not very least.
    Enthusiasm and Flower Power – compared to what now – endless guilt, gloom, doom & disaster. and tax.

    What caused what – was Feynman a sugar eater or a fat eater or REALLY important, what was his diet in his formative years – age 2 thro 16?
    I say he was fed on Sat. Fat simply because he is tall. Ain’t THAT a crazy thing?

    Another gem turning up this morn, demonstrating the belligerent and unthinking mindset around here sometimes on the subject of Global Greening
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/04/invasive-mesquite-spreads-across-east-north-south-africa/

    Be careful what you wish for……………

    • and you do see some real science you can do – on yourself.

      How’s Dry January going? 294 days and counting. down.
      Bear in mind/remember, alcohol is just super concentrated sugar.
      Summer time now and you’re now heading out onto the Mulsanne Straight
      Trust me, there’s notta lotta traffic out there, (F-expletive) floor the gas and go for it.

      See you in The Mosh Pit maybe?
      (In these PC times, nobody actually DOES ‘moshing’ any more and certainly not listening to EDM so you’re quite safe)

      • “Whiskey, vodka, brandy, gin, tequila and other pure alcohols have zero carbs and so are fine on a low-carb diet. Don’t add juice, soft drinks, or other sweeteners like sweet cream. Adding tonic to zero carb gin boosts its carbs to 16 grams per serving.”

        They have calories, of course, but no carbs.

    • Excellent considerations, Peta!

      “In the 1990s, some researchers observed that French people—despite eating lots of saturated fat—tended to have low rates of heart disease. Dubbing this phenomenon the “French paradox,” the researchers speculated that regular wine consumption may be protecting their hearts from disease.

      Note how they find it utterly impossible to even think that it may be the saturated fat that is helping those folks live longer.”

      Once again, researchers jump to conclusions based upon their assumptions rather than do serious research.

      Some friends became avid green tea drinkers; for the health benefits.
      Knowing that these friends had actually visited China, I asked if they had paid attention to how the ordinary citizens drank their tea throughout the day?

      A question to which, the lady friend frowned and said it was disgusting.
      Common tea drinking in China, the drinkers add more tea leaves to their cup and pour hot water over it. Tea leaves from the morning are not discarded, they are steeped again and again with fresh tea.

      Whereupon, I asked this lady who is a highly respected biological scientist herself, where did she think the Chinese tea drinkers who benefited from drinking green tea originate?

      Having a cup or two of lightly steeped green tea is not equivalent to how Chinese drink their daily antioxidant loaded green tea.

    • Note how they find it utterly impossible to even think that it may be the saturated fat that is helping those folks live longer.

      Go eggs!

    • Peta of Newark – April 12, 2019 at 2:30 am

      Excerpted from cited link: invasive-mesquite-spreads-across-east-north-south-africa/

      This shrub—a type of mesquite called Prosopis juliflora—was too prolific, too greedy. Its spiky undergrowth wasn’t as useful as they’d hoped. As the problems mounted and the plants multiplied, Murawih soon wished he’d never clamped eyes on this botanical menace.

      Peta, the eastern US can also brag about the spreading of a similar invasive species, the Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora), which federal and state government agencies urged farmers and land owners to plant.

      Multiflora rose is extremely prolific because new sprouts arise from the roots and its seeds are distributed far and wide in bird feces. It forms dense impregnable thickets of vines cover with extremely sharp briars, that prevent native plant species from growing. This non-native invasive rose invades open woodlands, forest edges, early succession pastures and fields and you have to dig up the roots or burn it with diesel fuel to (temporarily) get rid of it. https://www.invasiveplantatlas.org/subject.html?sub=3071

      Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) is another invasive species with a similar origin and background as the Multiflora Rose, but without the ”thorny vines”. https://extension.unh.edu/blog/invasive-spotlight-autumn-olive

      • It’s real easy to get those roots up, though. They’re shallow.

        I live in Maryland, USA, and it’s everywhere. I get them early in spring or late winter; cut ’em off about two feet above the ground, wear a good pair of work gloves, and pop ’em out. A spade works real well, too.

  4. “Even after the evidence “for their beliefs has been totally refuted, people fail to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs,” the researchers noted.”

    Obviously. If the alarmists who peddle the global warming/climate change meme were to actually practise the science they supposedly preach, they would be forced to make appropriate revisions in their beliefs.

  5. You show me a graph of CO2 versus a metric of climate, a least square tend and strong correlation coefficient over 0.7 and something bad, that is it, I am convinced. Other than Hadcrut4 temp calibrated to CO2, there is no such graph. Instead of statistics, we get polar bear pictures. I need to see a graph. Been waiting years.

    • Here’s a couple of links where we can compare the temperature profile of the United States with the CO2 profile.

      As you can see, the U.S. temperature profile looks nothing like the CO2 profile. U.S. temperatures were warmest during the 1930’s when CO2 levels were low, then,from the warm 1930’s, the temperatures cooled for decades down to the lows of the late 1970’s, while during this same time CO2 concentrations continued to climb.

      So at least in the U.S. the temperature profile does not correlate with the CO2 profile. And since unmodified temperature charts from around the world have the same temperature profile as the US chart (the 1930’s were as warm as today) that means to me that the global temperature profile does not corrolate with CO2, either.

      And even though CO2 levels have continued to increase, the “Hottest Year Evah!” as NASA calls it, 2016 never exceeded the temperatures in the 1930’s, and since that time temperatures have cooled by about 0.6C, while CO2 continues to climb. CO2 is not correlated with the temperature record except in the fevered minds of the creators of the bogus Hockey Stick charts.

      http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Simple-CO2-model-Boden-CO2-input.jpg

      https://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2007/02/uhcnh2.gif

  6. I thought that sun spots were related to cold periods because after all they Powerpoint overlay noisy sun spot graphs and noisy temperature records that look like they are badly correlated, all the time. But a graph of Sun spot count back to 1850 versus Central England temperature record shows pure random noise. That is it, my belief of decades of sun spot correlation turns out to be an urban myth. My viewpoint changed with one graph.

  7. “totally refuted” is an emotional appeal, also called propaganda, and has no meaning. Called a loaded phrase, one with high emotional impact but no quantifiable definition.

  8. Earlier today I copied out quotes by Dr. Stephen Schneider and Dr. Tim Ball:

    Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.
    Dr. Stephen Schneider

    Sorry Stephen there is no decision between effectiveness and honesty.
    Dr. Tim Ball

    Dr. Schneider was promoting propaganda. I didn’t see anything about dogma, propaganda or plain old B.S. for that matter, in the article above.

    How do people react to their myside bias when the lies are exposed?

    • ‘Dr. Schneider was promoting propaganda.’

      Justifying and rationalizing propaganda. That’s always the first step.

      • Shameful Propaganda tactics, as literally defined by shameless Dr. Schneider to Discover Magazine….
        I paraphrased Dr. Ball’s observations on Schneider, to one of my adult children in an email:

        Daughter, please read the link to understand what Schneider “was”.

        Schneider’s eulogy and the sentiment it expresses highlights his influence on the entire IPCC . His cohorts’ worship of him, “confidence” in his belief that if he and his his peers were willing to fudge the facts (conspire) they could brain-wash the masses into becoming climate change believers- through dissemination of fudged data they would all benefit; the masses would suffer under the bandwagon-effect and accept their “Con job”. Further, the masses would suffer the boot of totalitarianism supported by the guise of ‘science knows best, always’.

        As Dr. Ball suggests, Schneider “more than any other person created and drove the biggest deception in history; intellectualized most perversely the concept of uncertainty into certainty and provided the method for converting inadequate and incorrect evidence into a form powerful enough to be the basis of world-changing philosophy and policy”.

        A media (quickly merging around the globe) was effectively used as the propaganda organs of those seeking to create a backdrop for promoting themselves as academics, scientists or political tyrants (saviors) within a culture of mass hysteria within only two generations, once the “baby boomer” generation came to reached adulthood.

        I’m sure Schneider et al would agree that he and his peers succeeded in their public relations campaign, selling their junk science easily within cultures of modern materialism.

        Re-framing what Schneider told Discover, at his deathbed he could have said, mission accomplished; “we drummed up some broad-based support, captured the public’s imagination. That, of course, while getting loads of media coverage. We offered up scary scenarios, made simplified, dramatic statements, and made little mention of any doubts we might have.” https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/04/11/the-person-who-set-the-stage-for-entire-deception-of-human-caused-global-warming-agw-stephen-schneider/

        • In his early “global cooling will kill us all” book, The Genesis Strategy, Schneider included a quote that he apparently forgot. It promoted honesty in science, and avoiding politics:

          Scientists can no longer afford to be naïve about the political effects of publicly stated scientific opinions. If the effect of their scientific views is politically potent, they have an obligation to declare their political or value assumptions, and to try to be honest with themselves, their colleagues and their audience about the degree to which these assumptions have affected their selection and interpretation of scientific evidence. Once scientific opinion enters into the public domain, the possibility of political neutrality disappears, but this does not mean that objectivity should be thrown to the winds. — Harvey Brooks, 1973, Harvard University

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle (@DeHavelle)

  9. Sloman/Fernbach are right. Strong belief favors confirmation bias and produces irrational behavior. But for some people belief vs disbelief is a continuum and not a binary. New information does not result in a switch, but moves an indicator. I believe most people use the continuum and not the binary but that the binaries produce the irrational behavior that the MSM focuses on. That is why elections can be surprising. And why polls have climate concerns way down the list of perceived priorities.

  10. Where I have a problem with this, as it relates to AGW, is so many studies and papers rely upon other studies and papers. Then when one believes a theory has been falsified, the next study and paper still points to the findings of the falsified theory. Have theories been falsified on the skeptic side? Sure, some have… and when they are, they aren’t likely to still be referenced. Have theories been falsified on the pro AGW side? Sure BUT they are still referenced as science.

    Recently we have seen more and more publications reject papers simply because they don’t toe the line and promote the pro AGW narrative. Then when a reasonable person wants to reference what they genuinely believe to be good science which falsified a pro AGW position, they cannot refer to the paper because it wasn’t published in an accepted peer reviewed publication.

    When the American Physical Society basically turns its back on Curry, Lindzen and others, simply because they are what any and every scientist should be, skeptical of any new claimed science, and organizations like APS appear to be hijacked by the latest political correctness flavor or dogmatic Scientology of the day and acting ass political arms seeking to drive public policy, rather than acting like a genuine supporter of science where the truth via the scientific method matters, we have a real dilemma.

    When we have seen proof of collusion to commit fraud as has been proven by the ClimateGate emails, and have proof that the GISS and other national historical temperature data sets have been altered, removing any opportunity to falsify a theory because the official clearinghouse of data has corrupted the data science relies upon, when the statistics used is proven to be bad statistics, when the pro AGW side won’t even acknowledge a person simply because they are questioning the actual science behind anything related to AGW… what are we supposed to do?

    Do we just keep beating the drums, hoping some day, some policy maker is going to listen? What are we supposed to do?

  11. Elizabeth Kolbert seems to be oblivious to the fact that her own arguments most definitely apply to the manmade climate change belief, of which she is obviously a proponent. Her misguided faith in what she calls “science” is itself a product of confirmation bias, and is thus both irrational as well as convenient. The fact that she never mentions climate is nothing but a clever ploy, as she uses all the standard tactics that True Believers use, such as using the argument on vaccines as a proxy.

  12. One of the complicating factors about apparently binary questions is that where people live may affect the outcomes such answers may have on their lives.

    So if you live in an affluent leafy shire, the effect of the death penalty in your area may be much less than if you live in a rough urban suburb where knife- and gun crime are both rife.

    You can afford to be much more liberal if you and your friends are very, very unlikely to get murdered, after all. The concept of what living in a dangerous ghetto is like is also very artificial: you have never felt gutteral fear, never seen real violence and mob rule in action. And if you went to live in one as an adult, you might not survive very long…..

    A lot of people are also very unable to acknowledge that some of their views merely reflect what they are good- or bad at. Those with gift of the gab salesmanship will value price negotiation higher than high product quality, whereas an OCD product engineer will be the exact opposite. Your views on various forms of capitalism and regulation may be significantly affected by what you are good at and bad at and how wealthy a family you were born into.

    Forceful leaders are often contemptuous toward democracy and plurality as they are very weak at listening, encompassing and compromising. They are very good at ordering, directing, judging and imposing, however benignly they may think they are acting. Too much power, too young, without earning widespread support first, is often the reason this occurs.

    I have lived discrete existences at different times of my life where different values held sway and I saw how radically they affected my own personal performance and outcomes.

    I do not value leaders who shout, I do value leaders whose calm and confident suggestions are backed up with credible prior success and an understanding of my current emotional status.

    I do not value book-based education (as I can teach that to myself), I value practical skills transfer far more highly (as teaching in that arena has a big relative beneficial outcome for me).

    Leaders who did not shout helped me eliminate inferiority complexes, broadened my vistas and made me understand the assumptions my thought processes had been making. With them I learned to see both sides of arguments, even if I do not always express both at the same time.

    Not everyone can do this. Humans are social animals and groups have rules. Sometimes those rules are arbitrary and based on fallacies. Changing rules in groups is harder than changing individual attitudes, as pecking orders may change. However, for many, being a member of groups is more important than devotion to truth.

    Not for nothing have many paradigm-shifters often been loners….

  13. My career was in repairing and testing nuclear reactor plants. My watchword phrase is The conspiracy of ignorance masquerades as common sense.

    • Is this a good analogy? This is a distortion of Christianity to discredit religion. Because of material differences between Christianity and the world religions, do we not in fact have two different categories here? I believe that there is plenty of internal evidence in each of the world religions to discredit them. This is also true of many papers on climate.

      While I do not believe anyone should be forced to believe the Biblical account of Jesus and the beginning and spread of Christianity, in the absence of any books from the first century AD to discredit the 27 New Testament books these must form the basis of our investigation – and not some “straw man” reconstruction of the events. We have a treasure trove of material in the New Testament manuscripts with copies dating to the mid second century and the Old Testament books with copies dating back 2200 years. These are primary sources that every honest historian needs to study because they carry far more weight than the writing of critics many centuries removed from the original events and the production of these books.

      On the subject of people not easily changing their minds: History shows us that reasoning and logic does not have the same pride of place in modern European education that it had in certain previous eras. This is reflected in both discussions on climate and discussions on Christianity. Careful reasoning has also played a key role in presenting the Christian message and the conversion of millions over the past 2000 years.

      • Michael – your post hasn’t been snipped.

        “Careful reasoning…”?

        Have you changed your mind about issues in the 27 books, back and forth?
        What do think about Jesus floating up into the sky as the writers wrote about?

    • The religion is Secular Socialism, whose deity is government that promises a socialist utopia on Earth.

  14. The comment about Trump, and implying that the physical behavior of a toilet flush is somehow equivalent to statistics about immigration put this article firmly in the, well, toilet. It would appear that the authors are not capable of seeing that the two types of information, and how we reach an understanding of them, have almost nothing to do with each other. This observation belies complete ignorance of what the scientific method is all about, and is the root of the vast majority of human misconception of reality. The basic observation, which I would paraphrase as “group think”, does however nicely sum up the problems with AGW, and most other commonly held “beliefs”.

    Ethan Brand

  15. “At any given moment, a field may be dominated by squabbles, but, in the end, the methodology prevails. Science moves forward, even as we remain stuck in place….”

    Not if you define anyone who doesn’t agree as a ‘denier’ and then sack them. You can stay in the same place for generations…

  16. The views of the author of the article quoted seem rather inflexible. She does not acknowledge that people change over time, and their biases change along with them. She seems to be basing her opinion – and that’s all it really is – on her own bias, leaving out the possibility of change in any direction.

    My own views on so-called renewables, for example, have changed a lot over the last 20 years, mostly because I can see the destruction they create for myself. Part of my change in attitude is also based on the fact that renewables are unreliable, and have a considerably shorter life span than a properly built nuclear power plant or a hydropower dam. Adaptability is something she seems to either ignore or simply refuses to acknowledge, and yet, adaptability is part of a natural process.

    • Like you, I used to love renewables. I did my first alternate energy studies in 1962 and found that nothing could compete with high energy density liquid fuels except nuclear. Most of the proposed alternatives were a joke…and still are.

      The New Yorker showed itself to be a propaganda rag right after the election with a repugnant Trump hit-piece.

  17. “People believe that they know way more than they actually do.”

    Not quite. Just “most” people. There is another side to the the dunning-kruger effect.

    • billtoo…Quite agree. I use a very rough and flexible rule to evaluate information from another individual:
      If they seem to acknowledge that they “know” less as they “learn” more…I am more likely to treat the information more seriously (at least initially).

    • Almost all people (and I’d just say all) have fields where they know the big picture, like how zipper works, being unable to explain it.

  18. “…science moves forward…” unless it doesn’t, as is the case with climate “science”, in which case it has moved anyplace but forward. Nor has it moved backwards. Instead, it has moved to the realm of pseudoscience and Belief. It has become the opposite of science.

      • no judgement involved. if the temp doesn’t rise, or doesn’t rise fast enough, then the green house gas theory of AGW is wrong and then, yes, many are/have.

      • All those ‘Scientists’ who have done work trying to predict what will happen to this species of butterfly or that kind of coral if global temperature goes up 6 to 8 degrees have certainly wasted their lives, because it isn’t going to happen. And all the scientists who have wasted their time trying to find the missing heat will never be getting that time back.

        This may truly be the greatest crime of the Climate Crises pushers. All the young people with Degrees in Climate Communication or Treenometer Reading who will have wasted their lives on studying a lie.

        ~¿~

      • It’s not just “wasting their lives”: Some, who are involved in promoting catastrophic global warming, are actively hazardous to the lives of those they wish to control “for their own good.”

        To this extent, that subset of “people working the field” are engaged in promoting a fanaticism that, given free reign, would make miserable the lives of uncounted billions of people.

        I’d rather they stuck to wasting only their own lives.

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle (@DeHavelle)

  19. Consider the following: the media convinced millions of people that the president of the United States was some kind of Russian agent ..

    I wonder what other stupid choices our “intellectual superiors” have made .. like maybe just how ‘anthropogenic’ Climate Change actually is ?

    I don’t know about you but when I think you should pay taxes, I don’t send them the entire paycheck.

    • Neo, many still believe he is, despite the findings of Robert Mueller’s extensive enquiry. But then, I’m told, many believe the earth to be flat. Here is an article which more or less equates that belief with the supposition that POTUS is “a climate denier”.
      https://www.iflscience.com/brain/six-celebrities-who-honestly-believe-the-earth-is-flat/
      Today, again, in the UK thousands of schoolkids have been manipulated into wasting a day marching with banners and painted faces “because climate”.
      My belief is that a major natural reversal will be necessary to change such minds.

      • Were it to suddenly turn disastrously cold, those who are “wasting their lives” “working the field” in climate catastrophism would still convince themselves, and others, that it is the fault of CO2.

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle (@DeHavelle)

  20. The religion is Secular Socialism, whose deity is government that promises a socialist utopia on Earth.

  21. There is clearly a logical reason why such resistance evolved in reasoning by the human brain.

    It can summed up by the paraphrased quote (often atrributrd to Mark Twain):

    “It’s not what we don’t know that gets us in to trouble. It’s what we think is true that ain’t that gets us in bad situations.”

    Bank robbers rob banks because they think they won’t get caught. Mann faked the hockey stick because he thought he wouldn’t get caught. It’s what we assume is true or mostly true that gets us in trouble. That’s why proper science is skeptical of claims that on the surface seem correct orthat someone wants us to believe.
    It is a BS filter because the world is filled with it.

  22. From the article: “Consider what’s become known as “confirmation bias,” the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them. Of the many forms of faulty thinking that have been identified, confirmation bias is among the best catalogued”

    I wouldn’t call embracing information that supports one’s beliefs faulty thinking. That is the way one forms beliefs, by thinking something is true and then finding evidence that supports that belief. If you find enough supporting evidence then that gives you confidence you are on the right track.

    The faulty thinking comes into play when one rejects information that contradicts one’s beliefs simply because it does not conform. A seeker of truth would have to deal with contradictions, not ignore or reject them.

  23. I noted the comment about Trump as well as others, sad, the author is a victim of his own subject. Maybe he needs to reconsider whether Trump is really a plus or a minus and why. Main point however, the author does not mention another possibly far more cogent reason for confirmation bias in our mental makeup. It reduces the information processing load. Without it we would be constantly reviewing and re-analysing past situations and issues, thereby drowning in a morass of data. But by employing it we can dismiss these already decided issues reducing the amount of data we have to process and moving on. In most cases, whether right or wrong, leaving the original decision standing does little obvious harm. In rare cases it does visible harm and particularly personal harm. When that becomes obvious people do indeed start to reassess their earlier stance. Confirmation bias may seem to be a negative but paradoxically it is not, it is a way of maximising our ability to interact with the world around us.

  24. I’ve found that beyond showing someone that they are wrong, also show them that they”ve been misled by deliberately false and deceptive information. This allows them to shift the blame for their incorrect knowledge to someone else. This makes it easier for them to accept the truth by being relieved that they weren’t wrong: they had been given bad information. Doesn’t always work but sometimes worth a try.

    • Yep, here’s how well confirmation bias worked with me: in late 2007, I believed manmade climate change was real, and went online looking for the actual facts about it in order to be able to argue factually. I was actually looking for the evidence for what I already believed was true. Totally backfired I’m glad to say, but it was shocking at the time.

  25. Now that they have convinced themselves that they can’t change the minds of those who disagree with them.
    The next step is to just mandate it and ignore the complaints of those being squashed.

    • Indeed there are signs of stonewalling, deaf ears, and talking about regulating, defunding and censoring.

      That’s the last resort when opposition needs to be squashed to proceed to political goal-setting.

  26. IMO … there are several reasons that minds can’t be changed in certain people. Number ONE of those reasons is that the opposing evidence comes from a source that the individual has accepted as having an agenda they view as negative. Usually the agenda is fed to people via propaganda, and most people are easily deceived. The problem is, there are large swaths of the population that lack critical thinking skills, and came up short on the “logical” stick. Otherwise, if someone is giving you data that you can see for yourself is false, then you are less likely to believe anything they say in the future.

    The KEY for persuading another’s opinion is to be perceived as lacking an agenda. In order to be perceived as lacking an agenda, you have to be able to gain trust in the individual such that you can disprove in the individual’s mind that the opposing party’s attempts to define your agenda are false.

    Take Climate Change for example. The Alarmists have successfully, but falsely, framed the skeptics as having an agenda for the fossil fuel industry. The Alarmists put out reports that so-n-so received money from Big Oil, and thus their research is tainted. Likewise, many on the Skeptical side, have convinced their minions that the Alarmists research is connected to an alternative agenda connected to Socialism and Globalism. THUS …. the minions of both sides, who lack critical thinking skills and have no desire to discover for themselves the correct position are entrenched in their position based on the perception of the other sides propaganda and agenda.

    The logical person doesn’t believe either side’s propaganda, and thus, goes to the source documents, the data, and become knowledgeable about the subject, and come to their own conclusions. This is the case for most climate skeptics, as they do not take the word of any “tangent authority” on climate, but rather go to the source information, and assess the actual body of evidence. Unlike the Alarmists, the Skeptics do not run from a debate, have no desire to change the peer review process, invite opposing views for discussion, and acknowledge all information is relevant. As such, they are much more informed, and not easily deceived by the propaganda of the Alarmists, but rather, raise important questions about the body of evidence, like .. why did you adjust that data and was it warranted, how can you put forth a model that fails to perform as evidence, why would you propose X action item when your own data show it will have no effect … and more. It is the recognition of provable inconsistencies that makes the case for the skeptics to the logical mind. BUT … unfortunately, they are not connected to a group with any kind of mechanism to spread the truth of an issue, and by default, they are lumped in with the “deniers” as having an agenda for fossil fuels … even when in truth, they have no agenda other than to reach the truth of a matter.

  27. Something fishy in the air :
    Cognitive science shows that humans are smarter as a group than they are on their own
    By Philip FernbachApril 18, 2017
    Cognitive scientist and professor of marketing, University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business
    https://qz.com/960175/cognitive-science-shows-that-humans-are-smarter-as-a-group-than-they-are-on-their-own/

    So stuffy groupthink is their game?

    It gets even smellier : the NYT Editor’s pick :
    THE KNOWLEDGE ILLUSION: Why We Never Think Alone, by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach. (Riverhead, $28.) Two cognitive scientists argue that not only rationality but the very idea of individual thinking is a myth, and that humans think in groups. That’s not necessarily bad news, writes Yuval Harari in our review: “Our reliance on groupthink has made us masters of the world.… From an evolutionary perspective, trusting in the knowledge of others has worked extremely well for humans.”

    A good flush is needed here.

    • “Cognitive science shows that humans are smarter as a group than they are on their own” this concept came up in a management class I took. NASA ran several experiments about how people in groups come to decisions and how to get the best decision. Say something like the Challenger Disaster and the O-rings.
      The bottom line was that an experienced expert in the problem area virtually always arrived at the best solution and was the fastest. A well organized, but less knowledgeable team mostly came up with acceptable or good solutions but took considerably longer and only rarely found the optimum solution.

  28. From the article: “When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.”

    The “information” Trump’s supporters ignored were the obvious lies told about Trump by the Left and the Leftwing Media, because they saw them as lies, and it turns out they were absolutely right. The correct position for a conservative to have is to never take anything said by the Left at face value. Proof is required in all instances. Leftwing assertions are not good enough.

    It’s the Left and the Leftwing News Media who are ignoring all information that contradicts their delusion that Trump is really Adolf Hitler and needs to be resisted at all costs. Talk about Groupthink! You can’t call it confirmation bias because there is nothing to confirm their bias. It’s mass psychosis on the part of the Left.

    • LOL, this article is so typical of the smug left wing. They start with an argument that has some merit and then twist it into a piece of disharmonious nonsense. Yet they seem to have no idea that their original argument describes themselves better than those they are trying to denigrate. In other words it all boils down to, “I know you are, but what am I?”

    • When I was young I looked at controversies and often picked a side. As I got older I saw evidence that the side I picked was correct or sometimes switched sides when I decided i was wrong. At first I thought that many political positions were equally valid but were the result of differing backgrounds or preferences. I am almost ashamed to say that it took me until I was over 50 to realize that some political positions were just plain WRONG and created bad or evil results.

      When global warming was first suggested, I looked into it and quickly discovered that it was a flawed theory. As information about it came out I looked at the papers and found that the pro-warming papers were either seriously flawed or were being misrepresented (they didn’t demonstrate the proof of the theory at all). Now I only take a quick look to see if there’s anything new (there never is).

      Call it “confirmation bias” if you want but I’m not going to throw away a couple of decades or more of actual examination and thinking about a topic on the basis of one stray claim.

  29. You only need to convince the people who matter, those who allocate resources and make decisions. If needed persuade them with lawsuits. That’s how the believers do it.

  30. “As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding” That one statement was my take-away from the article and confirms what I’ve experienced, it is hard to tell someone they are stupid without evoking anger.
    As far as the Trump dig, grain of salt, I’ll always remember Obama’s hit on Sarah Palin about $2 dollar gas…

  31. The concept of depth of understanding is something you can use in a discussion with most people, provided you yourself are prepared. People love an invitation to explain things to you and if they begin to question their depth of knowledge, that makes them more willing to productively engage.

  32. Why limit changing of minds to the climate? In World War 2, both Germany and Japan kept fighting in a hopeless situation. Fortunately for Japan, Emperor Hirohito had brains. For a more recent example, look at Venezuela and North Korea.

  33. Excerpts from published article:

    How did we come to be this way?

    In a new book, “The Enigma of Reason” (Harvard), the cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber take a stab at answering this question. Mercier, who works at a French research institute in Lyon, and Sperber, now based at the Central European University, in Budapest, point out that reason is an evolved trait, like bipedalism or three-color vision. It emerged on the savannas of Africa, and has to be understood in that context.

    The silly claim by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber that “reason is an evolved trait” is asinine and delusional, ….. and therefore, is proof positive that what they are referring to as “reason” is, in actuality, a nurtured trait. ……. a subject dependent mental trait that was nurtured by one’s environment.

    Consider what’s become known as “confirmation bias,” the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them. Of the many forms of faulty thinking that have been identified, confirmation bias is among the best catalogued;

    “DUH”, faulty thinking, …… HUH.

    “YUP”, just like “ugliness is in the eyes of the beholder”, …… so is …… “faulty thinking is in the eyes of the beholder”.

    And for everyone who identifies the “faulty thinking” of another person, …….. that other person identifies the “faulty thinking” of their accuser. And there ya have it, …… “confirmation bias” fighting “confirmation bias”, …. and the winner is, …… the one with the microphone.

    The above published article is nothing more than …… lefty liberal anti-Trump agitprop ….. that cites/quotes opinions of several “psychobabblers” in order to convince the Democrat partisans of its legitimacy, to wit, the “confirmation bias” version:

    If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.

    To wit, the response “confirmation bias” version:

    If your position on, say, the Russian collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign team and Moscow is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Congressional Democrats and their partisan proponents.

    • Similarly, some years ago I read a BBC article titled “Why do people vote for things/people that are against the own interests.” It was a simply breathtaking display of BBC arrogance that the world is full of plebs who need to be told what their best interests actually are, presumably with the BBC doing the telling about who you should vote for.

  34. Seems like an over simplification. Consciously or not, the interviewee almost certainly makes extra assessments about how the topic will affect them personally, adding extra layers of complexity to the problem and thus making the answers very context-dependent.

    This seems to be indicated in the questions about Ukraine: The further away it was thought to be, the less likely it is that military intervention will have any immediate consequences for the individual.

  35. There is clearly some logic in this and some idiocy. The explanations of why we are this way probably have some merit but, like most psychological research the conclusions go way beyond the data – another symptom of the phenomenon the authors discuss. I cover this tendency to think by belief rather than logic in talks I have given on scientific process and the mistakes made by faulty reasoning. I fully agree that the most people, the most of the time are thinking by reflex, not analysis. Using reason and objective testing of hypothesis is the rare exception that allowed modern society to evolve as it has. The conclusion that the Trump administration is a result of faulty reasoning is the most egregious conclusion in this piece and shows that the authors allowed their own political convictions to color what should be a purely reasoned discussion. While accessible, effective, equitable and affordable care for all may be a very worthwhile goal, the Affordable Care Act is not a sustainable or highly successful answer to that goal, and no administration in the US to date has actually come up with a solution that reaches that goal.

    • Almost by definition psychological science goes beyond the data. Physics, such as the Large Hadron Supercollider looks for data with “nine 9’s” significance. Psychologists are blown over if they can get a 20% confidence statistic. At that level there really isn’t much to discuss. All the data is at the “well, maybe?” level.

  36. A must read: How to Sell a Pseudoscience by Anthony Pratkanis. https://tinyurl.com/yaznu9zb

    It’s short and outlines how people become true believers. The first few steps:

    1) Create a phantom
    2) Set a rationalization trap
    3) Manufacture source credibility and sincerity
    4) Establish a grandfaloon
    5) Use self-generated persuasion

  37. They write….. “If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.”

    …. and with that rather unscientific statement, we can see that the ENTIRE story is nothing but anti Trump Propaganda. By inference they seek to smear one side of politics as deficient…. They never stop trying these people.

    Socialism is the ideology of deceit. Everything they say is designed to deceive. They’re not hard to spot though.

  38. All this fancy analysis sounds good but you can get the same information from taking an entry level sales course. I have said it here many times, it’s Sales 101, you don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle. People make decisions on emotion and “what’s in it for me”. You can start with the facts but until you get them to the emotional level of “wow that’s good for me” you cannot make the sale. Any sales person knows that you have to get to the hot button to connect with the buyer. It is how the left wing has operated for decades and it works. The general population, who are mostly ignorant to the science of climate, give themselves a big pat on the back for helping the cause or at least being concerned enough about it. The subsequent emotional satisfaction they get is their hot point. And the use of images of “helpless” animals is far more effective than charts and graphs as a connection to that emotion.

    • OK, so in your or my own mind, we may make rational decisions but to sell those ideas to others, FIRE UP THAT STEAK and let it SIZZLE. Lucky for me, my sizzle (Liberty) is supported by much of the data so I can be both emotional and rational.

    • It’s how all successful politicians Right and Left have operated since forever. Pushing buttons is far easier and more effective than “rational” persuasion.

  39. There is tons of room in science for mybias. As an example, there was the measure of the charge of the electron. Milikan came up with his number, and then over time it drifted ever higher until it came to its current value. No one wanted to come up with a number that was too far off from what was expected. And so the measure of the charge of the electron took far longer than it likely needed to, as each researcher biased their findings towards the expected value.

  40. This is rich …. the Author .. Elizabeth Kholer .. or something like that, engages in exactly the reason’s she gives for Fact no mattering ….

    We are talking about the New Yorker ….
    77% of the readership is left of center ….
    She puts in a dig at Trump ….cause that is what 77% of her readership already believes.

    No facts needed ….

    Hey Elizabeth …. I’d suggest the reason facts don’t matter to your readership … is because you never give them any. Try it … Facts may just have a bigger impact than you thought.

  41. Interesting story. Scientists lie to people, show them bogus studies and the people don’t fall for it. So the scientists conclude people are irrational for not believing them. That wasn’t my conclusion.

  42. When you have a strongly religious community of people, they will always label unbelievers as “bad people”.

    AGW is a religion. Anyone that dares to disagree or challenge the Canon is a “bad person”.

    This is simply human behavior. People who have never been educated in critical thinking just follow their instinct. Faith cannot be questioned as long as the strong community of zealots supports, monitors, and polices each other.

  43. “A man convinced against his will,
    Is of the same opinion still.”
    ― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

    I have seen this repeatedly as I present the science to staunch believers in the global warming religion. They can’t dispute the evidence, but stubbornly cling to their fundamentalist faith.

  44. Is there anything more entertaining than reading a psychologist on confirmation bias and see him demonstrate it in sentence after sentence?

    “If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.”

    Or climate scientists who dismiss observation, and insist their models are valid?

    If the whole human race suffers from the malady, it’s disengenuous to blame one side of a debate for having it.

  45. “If reason is designed to generate sound judgments, then it’s hard to conceive of a more serious design flaw than confirmation bias. Imagine, Mercier and Sperber suggest, a mouse that thinks the way we do. Such a mouse, “bent on confirming its belief that there are no cats around,” would soon be dinner.”

    This is an ignorant idea! That is not the way we think. Confirmation bias does not apply equally to all human experience. It is primarily associated with negative experience and is a perfect mechanism for survival. Our cognitive ability is built on pattern recognition, and the patterns built from negative experiences are far stronger and more prevalent in our thinking than the patterns built on positive experiences.

    For example, if we walk down a dark alley 10 times in a row without incident, we may develop a thought pattern that such activity is fairly safe. But if we are mugged the eleventh time we do it, we may never feel safe in an alley ever, no matter how may times we safely walk that path again. The thought pattern will extend in our minds and we will be leary of any dark place where someone could be hiding. If the mugger was wearing a ski mask, the sight of anyone in a ski mask may cause us great anxiety for decades to come. The same thing does not happen with positive experiences, as positive experiences are not key to our survival.

    In other words, confirmation bias is far stronger when there was trauma or even the threat of trauma.

    That is why the threat of hobgoblins (H. L. Mencken) is a far more powerful political tool than the promise of efficient government. Trump derangement syndrome is a prime example of this confirmation bias. The left has created a story of impending trauma if Trump remains President (a powerful hobgoblin), even though the reality is quite the opposite. Everything that Trump says or does is just a confirmation that he is a threat to those with this story.

    Similarly, many have been brought up on the idea that the greatest threat to the Earth is mankind. Consequently, anything that humans do is seen through this lens and becomes confirmation bias that supports the claim. The threat of a climate change crisis is completely born from this manipulation of the human mind to build confirmation bias around negative experience. To those minds that have been inflicted with this unsubstantiated paradigm, the positive things that humans do are inconsequential at best and completely invisible at worst. The benefits of constant, cheap electricity are simply lost to the mind that believes fossil fuels will destroy the planet. Facts that indicate man-made climate change and increasing CO2 are beneficial, cannot be comprehended in a mind so conditioned. It does not fit the trauma induced paradigm.

    As a student of history, my paradigm is that governments with unrestrained power are the most dangerous thing to my health and well-being. There is ample evidence to support my paradigm. It has happened over and over again throughout human history, and continuous to happen to this day, yet I recognize that my libertarian leanings are not always the most logical. I also recognize that confirmation bias is just as strong in those with a different paradigm, even if they do not have observational evidence to support their story. As Sloman and Fernback wrote: “As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding…” Correct! They emerge from trauma or the threat of trauma.

    Pattern recognition is perhaps the greatest strength of the human mind, but the emphasis given to the patterns generated by negative experience, or even the threat of negative experience, leaves us susceptible to manipulation. The Precautionary Principle, which is neither precautionary or a principle, is actually an unsupported confirmation bias that humanity is the existential threat to itself and the world. It is used as a tool of manipulation, and has no rational foundation to support it.

    Our confirmation bias around traumatic events (real or anticipated) is of key importance to our survival, but needs to be understood for what it is and subject to constant, rational review. Otherwise, it can and will be used against us. There is plenty of conformation bias happening here at WUWT, but there is also a constant, rational review of the climate crisis story that I have not found anywhere else. WUWT is a light in the darkness of the traumatized mind.

    • Thank you, James. A succinct response which confirms my own beliefs in this matter …(oops!) Negative reinforcement inducing fear is an extreme emotive power, possibly strong enough to overcome instinctive behaviour. Yet we see that in animal training (dogs, horses etc) positive reinforcement can have remarkable results. Possibly in our modern “civilised” form of Homo sapiens we have lost most of the inborn fears of being without food, clothing, shelter, warmth and societal structure, so those commodities have lost their reward factor for modern man – we no longer have to seek them out and get the feelgood factor when we find them. Leaving us only with the negative reinforcement which seems to have taken over so much of our lives.

  46. One of the most significant findings related to human development is the discovery of neuro-plasticity by brain scientists. Whenever we receive new information the brain makes new connections to process that information. If the information is useful or provides a better way of doing things it will become the dominant pathway and old patterns will fade away due to non-use.

    “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” is the biggest impediment to using the unlimited growth the brain is capable of. Confirmation bias is a natural function of the primitive brain which seeks understanding of the world through it’s infinitesimal range of personal experience. The correlations it makes to create this understanding become the foundation for circular reasoning . Reality then becomes a projection based on limited experience rather than an objective witnessing of how cause and effect brings everything into being. Most people accept what they hear without critical thought so can have their realities programmed by others easily. Alarmists scientists don’t understand that they are stuck in a closed loop of circular reasoning.

    Byron Katie has developed a methodology for questioning assumptions and getting past the projections of mind to clearer states of consciousness. A key component of “The Work” is the turnaround. After questioning beliefs to see if they can be proven true you try believing the opposite to get a different perspective.
    https://thework.com

    Most commenter’s here already posses critical thinking skills and have trained their brains to question assumptions. That is what separates fantasy from reality.

  47. As many here understand, what it’s all about as much as anything, is control – control of other’s lives and property. And forcing them to behave as they should – for their own good, of course.

    And of course, the rules apply only to the peasants, not to the elite rulers whose opinion of the peons is always quite revealing…

    Royal messenger: Sire, the people are revolting!
    King: You said it, they stink on o r!

  48. Facts may not change our minds, but they change history. Climate alarmists try to ignore the essential practicality, and close empirical connection between science and its subject: reality. Alarmists publish modeling study after model. Never do controlled experiments. In terms of social evolution alarmism is a dead end. Because it’s a waste of time; it ignores facts; or corrupts them one-sidedly to manufacture scare.

    No pseudoscience has staying power. I think it’s more likely alarmists will move on to some other scam. Consider that: 30 years ago Linear No-Threshold reigned supreme as dose-response theory. Today it is shot to pieces, and it’s Nobel winning creator accused of scientific fraud; with few brave enough to defend him!

  49. From following this blog in its fight against climate science bullshit I have gained the necessary skepticism to see through political bullshit. I wonder how many other of the readers of this blog are Trump supporters as I am.

  50. Whilst it is true that my explanation of the reason for a belief in that Jesus is the son of God , matter was a bit off topic, the point that I was trying to make was that this 2000 year old “Faith” is a perfect example of Confirmation Bias.

    I hope that I did not upset too many people about what I myself “Believe” .

    I was only 12 years of age when I started to wonder why people went to
    Church.

    MJE VK5ELL

  51. Re. Meteorologist in research, and Christ floating up to heaven. I would
    suggest that you bring up the book “Christ died in Kashmir”. The book
    is badly written but thought provoking.

    MJE VK5ELL

  52. I’m still waiting for some evidence. I’ll drop my denialism as soon as reproducible evidence supporting falsifiable conjectures is forthcoming.

    The alarmist scientists need to act like real scientists to become believable and “taken serious”. Few do.

    None of the CAGW/CC predictions have come true so far…not even close.

    We’ve only had to suffer from a slightly milder climate. Weather events haven’t gotten worse. Warming is almost non-existent…aside from the recent recovery from the LIA.

  53. I think Mercier and Sperber just found the results they wanted to find, and their conclusions thus are false. Nothing can dissuade me from this conclusion, either.

  54. My impression: Anyone over 60, like me, knows our grandchildren have been dumbed down by global public education curriculum (creating ideologically assimilated students), planned search engine results tailored for them and social media profiling planning what they see as search results or social media feeds…..while their parents, our own children, having been working to put food on the table weren’t controlling their own children’s access to the media delivered propaganda… Anyone in my age group likely knows this was a simple strategy of intentional profiling to launch a sneak attack upon our grandchildren, encouraging them to disrespect lessons of the the past (even their parents and grandparents) for a Utopian quick-fix stupidity of climate koolaid which they have drank oh so willingly, to fit in on their peer bandwagon..(age typically) predictable tactics of propagandists….our grandchildren march to the drum of irrationality because they have no interest in knowing history..even of 50 years ago..even ours, their grandparents. (I posted this above, as a comment to another post, so it is duplicative)

  55. Once upon a time, long ago, we in school were taught History. I myself loved it as it was fascinating to hear what had occurred before we ourselves were ever born.

    But on of the big things about history was that it does tend to repeat itself,so if one really studies it, then it can be very rewarding.

    My mind always did tend to jump around somewhat, still does, so for example a study of transportation of goods leads to first pack animals, then to horse or cattle drawn wagons, then to canal building and the one horse pulled the barge, this was followed by railways, first just the tracks and horse drawn wagons, then when steam engines became smaller the locomotive changed everything.

    This is one of the big things I find when using a computer, that one thing leads to another thing, and so on. One can learn a vast amount just by moving through any subject.

    Remember the old saying “”Use it or lose it””. This applies to both one’s physical condition like walking instead of driving a car for a short distance, butits most important in regard to using the brain.

    As one gets old and with it the usual aches and pains. Yes we hate them, but as long as the brain still works then be thankful.

    MJE VK5ELL

  56. This article is such a pile of garbage that it is hard to know where to start to refute it, and why would one want to refute a pile of garbage? It is what it is. Anyway, personal experience tells me that not only can I change my mind when the facts don’t fit my theory, but I have done so repeatedly in my life. A pertinent example is Anthropogenic Global Warming – I was once a true believer. Then, in spite of all the dire predictions, it never showed up. Then people in my fields of study started publishing handwaving garbage that exposed their, and the reviewers’ and editors’, ignorance of history and logic. Then came Climate Gate and, although I’d already left the CAGW bus, I finally understood what was going on. Maybe undergraduates at Yale don’t know how a toilet functions – I didn’t when I was an undergraduate, but I knew how to stuff one up. I now know the basics and do minor repairs, but when it gets serious I still call a plumber: Australian toilets are complicated and I am not under the misapprehension that I am a plumber. This article is all about social junk science. The good news is that anyone who believes it will have a hard time using this misinformation to control my life, so let them continue to feel superior to the masses and think we are too dumb to see through them.

Comments are closed.