A philospher’s reflections on AGW denial

Reposted from Dr. Judith Curry’s Climate Etc.

Posted on September 11, 2019 by curryja |

by Dr. Paul Viminitz

Of the things I care most about, AGW is near the bottom. But because, as George W. Bush put it, either you’re with us or you’re against them, I think I’d rather be interestingly wrong than politically correct. Accordingly I rehearse what I take to be the case for AGW denial, masquerading – so as to continue to get dinner invitations – as tongue in cheek.

I think I was only about six or seven, but I remember it quite clearly. We were sitting at the dinner table and my sister, who was a few years older than me, asked my parents whether we Jews believe in an afterlife. I don’t remember their answer, but I do remember thinking how strange it is to ask someone else to tell me what I believe. And yet that’s precisely what I’m about to do.

Unlike Christianity or Islam, Judaism is a non-doctrinal religion. Moreover, you don’t decide to be a Jew. You’re a Jew just in case, well, you are one. Your beliefs have nothing to do with it. But one might decide, for reasons having nothing to do with what she believes, that it would be ‘cool’ to be, say, a Buddhist, or a Flat-Earther, or a white supremacist, or whatever, and only then enquire into what one needs to believe in order to count as such. Maybe it’s how they dress, or the music they listen to. Or just that anti-racists, for example, are so priggishly holier than thou. When it comes to identity politics, cool is cool. Rationale counts for naught. It’s all about image.

In any event, I decided – and I decided this sight unseen – that it would be cool to be a denialist, because for a philosopher, even bad press is better than what we typically get, which is no press at all. Of course I don’t mean I want to be a denialist tout court. I want to be selective. I want to deny something that would earn me a level of vilification that would make me cool, but not so vile that I’d never get another dinner invitation in this town. That’s why, tempting as it was, the Holocaust just wasn’t an option.

I toyed for a while with the Warren Report, and then the moon landing. But none of my students would remember the Kennedy assassination. And claiming that that “one small step for mankind” was in an airplane hanger out in the desert somewhere would just make me one of those crazies. Having met some, I’ve decided crazy isn’t cool. Cool requires at least plausible deniability.

And so …? And so that’s why I’ve settled on anthropogenic global warming (AGW). One might have to be ignorant to be an AGW denier, but not necessarily crazy. And unlike defending pedophilia, AGW denial isn’t quite cringe-worthy enough that no one would want to have anything to do with me.

The only problem, as already noted, is that since I don’t know anything about AGW, I don’t know what I’m required to not believe about it. And so the objective of this present exercise is to repair that lacuna, cuz … well, it just won’t do to know nothing whereof one’s speaks with an air of great authority.

Accordingly, I preface the remarks that follow not with a pro-forma “I stand to be corrected”, but with a genuine one. Of course no such correction will alter my view. That’s just what it is to be a true believer. But the first step in getting the facts wrong is getting them right. And for some help with that, I’ll be forever in your debt.

* * *

I’m told that a denialist is someone who espouses a view that flies in the face of a recognized scientific consensus. First question: Why do I need to espouse my denial to qualify? Answer: Because denialism is now being cited as a hate crime. The mere having of the view that, for example, anyone with haggis on her breath should be killed, is only a thought crime. But as long as I keep my thoughts to myself, celebrants of Robbie Burns Day are in no danger. No danger no harm. No harm no foul.

Second question: A consensus recognized by whom? It can’t be those who subscribe to that consensus, because then anyone who denies what the Creation Scientists are telling us would count as a denialist. After all, they too see eye to eye with each other.

One could argue that Creation Science is a misnomer, because for them their Scripture trumps their otherwise being faithful to the so-called ‘scientific method’. But I’m not sure this will do. We all rely on a chain of doxastic trust. And presumably that reliance is a function of track record. Imagine someone who predicts the future with 100% accuracy, but no one can figure out how. You could stick to your principles and refuse to consult him. But that would just make you an idiot.

So if one has reason to believe that Scripture is testimony, and that that testimony has proven reliable in moral and historical matters – e.g. the Jubilee Laws and the Empty Tomb respectively – then why not trust what it says about cosmology?

Now don’t get me wrong, which of course you will. I’m not defending scriptural literalism here. I don’t need to. I only need to claim that one needn’t be crazy to give her Scripture its doxastic due.

But let’s not quibble about what counts as science. Let’s just say that by the ‘scientific consensus’ is meant whatever’s issued by those mainstream institutions from which we’re habituated to take our lead in matters pertaining to the material world. Whether we do so right-headedly or not, and how radically contingent that leaves our beliefs, is another matter, and one that need not delay us here.

That said, no one thinks these institutions are infallible. So nothing in the definition entails that the denialist must be mistaken. And so one can, without embarrassment, concede that some of the greatest contributors to our understanding of the world were, in their own times, denialists.

But that need in no way put the kibosh to the pejorative use of the term. Tomorrow it may turn out that Andrew Wakefield was right, that vaccinations can cause autism. But that won’t entitle him to an apology. A wrongful conviction is not an unjust conviction. Truth is always uncertain. As are the processes by which we try to have at it. But those processes are all we’ve got. And for the most part they’ve done us yeoman service, the odd outlier, like thalidomide, notwithstanding.

But that still doesn’t tell us from which particular scientific institutions we should be taking our lead. Think of the media. CNN touts itself as “the most trusted name in news”. But Fox claims only it is “fair and balanced.” Some swear by the one, others by the other. So shall we just say we each pick our reality and leave it at that?

We can certainly say it, but we can’t leave it at that, because our disparate realities impact on each other’s. Not always, but often enough. If I’m not vaccinating my kid, and yours is immune-compromised, our decisions are not so nicely compartmentalized. Though whether the same can be said about AGW we’ll have to see.

I mention CNN and Fox because for most of us the only way we can come to know which is the mainstream consensus, and which is the outlier, is via the media. Because you watch and read what you watch and read, you think that “Everyone knows that p.” But because I watch and read what I watch and read, I think that “everyone knows that not-p.” What can we say to each other other than what we do say, which is that “Everyone in the know knows that …”? If we disagree it can only be because one of us is not among those in the know.

As we’ll be discussing later, combating AGW is a collective action problem. Collective action problems are hard enough to overcome when we’re of a mind that there is a problem. Even where we’re not, a collective action problem needn’t be intractable, provided there’s the requisite critical mass of us who are of a mind. But we can’t commit to the cause if we can’t overcome this afore-noted skepticism.

And yet often enough we do commit, which means we do overcome it. How? By fiat. I believe most of what I’m told because if I didn’t I’d be frozen in stasis. And the proof that having these admittedly unjustified beliefs is better than suspending belief entirely is that the former has been naturally selected for and the latter selected against.

So in this strategic sense of justification, let it be granted that one is entitled, though by no means compelled, to believe what she’s been told, namely that 97% of scientists believe that AGW is real.

* * *

Third question: 97% of which scientists? And fourth: Have they confirmed AGW themselves and independently, or do they merely believe it via the same means the rest of us do? After all, a computer scientist is a scientist, but what does she know about climatology? And if one climatologist is ratifying the findings of a colleague because the first has no reason not to trust the second, then a 97% consensus has no more probative force than would a minority report.

Let all this be granted. But so what?! Almost everything we believe is ultimately attributable to a very few people making some observations, a few more drawing inferences from those observations, a few more making inferences from those inferences, and so on. The further up the ladder we go the more our confidence hangs on the confidence we have, sight unseen, in the observations made and inferences drawn at every rung below. Pearls in, pearls out. Garbage in, garbage out. That’s just the dividends we reap, but also the dangers we incur, from the specialization of epistemic labor. It’s as they say: There’s no free lunch.

So let’s see what we’ve got. What we’ve got is that there’s a report on a report on a report, and so on … that there’s a consensus on there being a consensus on there being a consensus, and so on … about a chain of trust upon which some people, but not others, are prepared to rely … that delivers the verdict that AGW is real.

That, it seems to me, is hard to deny. And I do not deny it. Nor do I know of any AGW denier who does. The problem is, that’s just trivially true. Or as they say, that’s just trite but true.

* * *

But I can’t be a denialists without something to deny. So let’s give it another go.

By the ‘weather’ is meant what I need to know to plan my day. Flying the Pond aside, that means the behavior of the atmosphere – precipitation, wind, temperature, that sort of thing – within an hour’s drive of the local TV station. I’m told that none of these constituents is independent of the others. But for the sake of honing this discussion to our purposes, let’s confine ourselves to temperature.

We’ve only been able to take and record the temperature for a couple hundred years, and take and record it continuously rather than periodically for much less than that. Still, as with any non-monotonic function, we’re allowed, because we have no choice, to interpolate and extrapolate. And when we do, what we get is something akin to a row of shark’s teeth, jagged and nonsensical.

What we mean by climate, then, is taking these same measurements and averaging them over a period of, say, thirty years. Now as the cursor moves along, it still rises and falls. But failing some catastrophic event, like a comet strike or a Krakatoa, the jaggedness has almost entirely disappeared. At one point the average temperature over the fifteen years either side of the cursor was, say, twelve degrees. But one would have to move the cursor several decades to record an eleven or a thirteen.

So far we’ve been defining our climactic temperature as the average reading from one sensor located in the parking lot next to the local TV station. Now let’s average the average readings from all the sensors spread out across the county, being meticulous, in the positioning of these sensors, not to invite any biased sampling errors. Presumably the cursor will rise and fall even less erratically. And as we continue to spread our sensors further and further across the globe, what we should find, if the global climate is (what we’ll call) ‘stable’ – and putting the odd El Nino or La Nina aside – is something pretty close to dead flat.

But apparently we don’t. From the early 1800’s to the present, what we find – or more accurately what someone has found that someone has found that someone has found – is that the average global temperature has risen by at least one full degree. Of course whether it will continue to rise depends on what caused it to rise as it has, and whether that cause and effect is a monotonic function or a non-monotonic one. That is, does whatever caused this rise in temperature bear the seeds of its own reversal? And if so, at what point can we expect that reversal to kick in?

Note that in saying “whatever caused this” I mean to include the possibility of anthropogenesis, be it as only a contributing factor or even the sole one. For example, some people are optimistic that global temperatures will return to their pre-Industrial levels once we either exhaust the fossil fuels we’re currently converting to carbon dioxide, or kill ourselves off, whichever comes first. Though ‘optimistic’ might be a strange choice of words in this context.

* * *

As it happens, I’m an atheist. But I call myself a sympathetic atheist rather than an atheist simpliciter, because though I’d bet my immortal soul there is no God, I wouldn’t bet the family farm on it. Similarly, then, as a denialist I don’t think I’m required to rule out the possibility that global warming is real, and if it is, the possibility that that warming is anthropogenic. That would be the kind of epistemic hubris for which I rightly pasquinade my interlocutors.

What remains open to me, however, are the following options:

  • I could deny that as a matter of fact it’s real.
  • I could allow that it’s real but deny its anthropogenic.
  • I could try to assure my Chicken Little interlocutors that whether it’s real or not, it’s nothing to worry about. Or …
  • I could allow that there would be something to worry about were it not that Scripture has promised us a Second Coming. And that requires that we still be here to welcome it.

Needless to say I’m hoping I won’t be driven to this last option. And not only because as a Jew I’ve given up waiting for a First Coming let alone a second one. In any event, let’s see which of these options I should embrace.

I do worry, as do some of my fellow travelers, about how meticulous the positioning of these sensors have been not to invite a biased sampling error. But I’m prepared to accept on faith – the same faith that would allow me not to accept it – that over the past two hundred years the average global temperature has risen by a full degree.

Mind you, over the past hour it’s fallen by over eight degrees. What I need to know is why the average global temperature rising by one degree is a greater cause for concern than the local temperature dropping by eight. After all, not unlike sticks and stones and names, hurricane force winds may break my bones but climate will never hurt me. The answer, we’re told, is this:

Climate supervenes on weather. That is, there can be no change in the climate without a series of changes in the weather. But though a change in the climate can’t cause a change in the weather – that would violate the supervenience relation – its prognostication can simultaneously prognosticate changes in the weather. For example, in predicting seven years or drought, Joseph was simultaneously predicting the unlikelihood of rain next Wednesday. So if the Chicken Littlers are right that we’re in for a second degree of global warming over the next decade or so, then there are certain meteorological phenomena that can be anticipated with a reasonable degree of certainty. And some of these phenomena are indeed cause for concern.

Concern for whom? Let’s take a brief detour to see if we can answer that question.

* * *

Of the seven and a half billion people in the world, surely there exists at least one person – let’s call her Jane – who would like to end her life but lacks either the wherewithal or the courage to do so. It follows that, notwithstanding that the end of the world – by which we’ll mean the end of its anthropicity – would be a loss for the vast majority of its human inhabitants, there are some people – by which is meant at least one – for whom it would be a gain. Moreover this would be true pretty much regardless of how the world came to an end, in this anthropic sense, whether it be a planet-killing comet that gets us, nuclear Armageddon or, well, AGW.

One could hold that, notwithstanding she has a right to want to end her own life, not at the cost of ending everyone else’s. But this adds an extra premise to the story, which would have to be argued for independently. After all, David Hume argued that “’Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger.” If such a reason can be given, I’ve yet to hear tell of it, save that some people entertain some weird sentiment Hume calls ‘fellow-feeling’, a sentiment which Jane, apparently, does not entertain.

A fortiori, then, of the seven and a half billion people in the world, there exists at least one person – let’s call him Dick – who’d prefer to go on living, but whose quality of life, by his own measure – which is the only measure that respects him as an autonomous agent – would be enhanced, either by AGW itself, or by that of which AGW is an anticipated but autonomous effect. It follows then that, not unlike pretty much anything else that goes on in the world, AGW itself, or that which eventuates from it or in it, is destined to produce both losers and winners.

It may well be that, even over the short run, there’ll be more losers than winners. Or at least that those who’ll lose will lose more than those who’ll gain will gain. But what is that to Dick? It may even be that over the long run even Dick will lose. But what is that to Jane?

An individual can be mistaken about which of the two she’ll be. But that’s true of pretty much any choice one makes under one- or two-dimensional uncertainty. What follows, however, is that what, if anything, to do about AGW is a political decision, subject to the same forces at play in any other political decision, namely the interplay of conflicting interests. One can hope that someone else’s interests, as she herself sees them, will dovetail with one’s own. But to get in high moral dudgeon when hers don’t betrays the moral maturity of a three year old.

Now then, as any rational choice theorists will tell you, there’s often a radical disconnect between one’s declared preferences and her revealed ones. Which of the two are her real preferences? I’d go with the latter. So when someone tells me she’d prefer these ends but consistently pursues those instead, I’m inclined to suspect she doesn’t really prefer what she thinks she does.

But there’s an important caveat to this conclusion. I’d prefer to spend the afternoon cleaning up the neighborhood, if but only if enough of my neighbors join in. But if they won’t – and they won’t – then I’d prefer to watch the football game instead. This is what’s meant by a collective action problem. And the failure to resolve such problems produces what Garret Hardin has called “the tragedy of the commons”. So I can level no charge of hypocrisy at those who would do something about AGW but don’t, because in the absence of others following suit – which they won’t – their efforts would be wasted. This describes most of my colleagues. And probably yours too.

But there’s another reason why people who angst and bleat about AGW are behaviorally indistinguishable, apart from that angsting and bleating, from their denialist nemeses. They tell us that AGW is the most urgent problem facing the world today, and then they wonder why no one’s treating it as such. It’s because there isn’t a single person on the planet, themselves included, for whom doing something about AGW is anywhere near the top of her things-to-do-today list. If a comet were about to destroy the Earth in the next ten minutes, then I guess I’m going to meet my Maker with my schlong hanging out, because first I have to pee. Or pick up the kids from school. Or walk the dog. I may not bother to make the mortgage payment that’s due today. But other than that, yep, I think it’s pretty much business as usual.

A fortiori if I happen to work in the Patch. Because if it turns out we’ve got anything longer than ten minutes, say a couple of months, the bank’s not going to accept my “The End is Nigh” sandwich board in lieu of my next loan repayment.

We are told that we have twelve years to mend our ways. Or else what? Or else we’ll bear the consequences of another twelve years delay, just as we’ve borne the consequences of the last twelve years delay. So maybe what I’ll deny is not so much global warming itself – though I want to retain the right to do so – nor that it’s anthropogenic – though I want to retain the right to deny that too – nor that it won’t have devastating consequences for some people – perhaps it already has. Maybe I’ll just say that doesn’t settle the issue of who, if anyone, should do what, if anything, about it.

Or maybe I’ll just say that, because it’s such an intractable collective action problem, no one is going to do anything about it. And that since no one’s going to do anything about it, it’s not, by definition, a problem. How not by definition? Because by a problem is meant something we might be able to do something about. Otherwise it’s just called a fact. But even an unpleasant fact – like that I’m going to die some day – doesn’t bear a whole lot of worrying about.

But I’m not sure I want to leave it at that. I think I do want to deny that it’s a fact. The world will come to an end sometime. And in all likelihood the anthropicity of the world sometime before that. But the end of the world has been predicted, much to the embarrassment of countless shamans, since we emerged from the cave, and I think there’s something to be said for a little induction.

“Ah, but this time it’s different.”

And yet it never is.

“Yes, but now we have the science to prove it.”

And what shaman thought he didn’t?

Is this just my veiled way of trusting that God is going to save us? I’m an atheist, remember. But let’s see.

Your scientific consensus, coupled with my command of collective action problems, delivers to us the inevitable end of the anthropic world. My pragmatic theory of truth can’t allow that. So either your science is wrong, or my understanding of collective actions problems is woefully inadequate. I know nothing about the former. I make my living from the latter. So you tell me which I’m likely to think is the culprit.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

* * *

If you can no longer parse an argument – or perhaps you never could – it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve never been able to run the ten-minute mile either. I’ve come to terms with that.

What does forfeit one’s membership in the conversation, however, is doing the Kellyanne Conway. To pivot is really just to have left the building.

I’m responsible for what I’ve said, not for what I meant, nor for what you’ve heard. My denialism can be associated with any number of mephistophilian objectives: the war on science, the alt-right, child pornography, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion … Or my interlocutors’ favorite: my being in the pay – I could only wish! – of Big Oil.

I’ll happily plead guilty to all of the above. (Well, except for Big Oil. They keep telling me the cheque is in the mail.) But not unlike the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la, none of this has anything to do with the case, tra la!

Not unlike the ad hominem circumstantial or abusive, phrases like ‘the recognized scientific consensus’, or ‘the leading experts in’, are fit for rhetoric, but not for serious argumentation. If you’re going to use ‘urgent’ to mean something other than it does, you need to redefine it and then defend what you’re saying with it. If you think there’s an asymmetry between your epistemic protocols and those of your interlocutors, you need to identify that asymmetry without presupposing it. This is not to say your view couldn’t win the day. But it needs to win it, not just claim it.

We denialists – assuming I’ve succeeded in being one – have been as guilty as our interlocutors of making this debate into something so toxic that it’s no wonder neither of us can preach other than to the converted. So since I’m now their official spokesman, I’d like to propose we both wipe the venom from our spears and talk to rather than about each other.

Even if you have to fake it till you make it, do it. A little intellectual humility can go a long way towards making friends and influencing people, which presumably is what you’re after, especially the latter. Unless, of course, like the Almighty, you just want to bask in the splendor of your unassailable righteousness.

Biosketch:  Paul Viminitz is a professor of Philosophy at the University of Lethridge in Canada.  One of his specialties is the philosophy of war. Link to his publications. He blogs at Paulosophical Vimplications.

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168 thoughts on “A philospher’s reflections on AGW denial

  1. ” well, it just won’t do to know nothing whereof one’s one speaks with an air of great authority.”

    • Read Viminitz’s essay again carefully. He brilliantly undercuts the arguments for AGW.

      What we’ve got is that there’s a report on a report on a report, and so on … that there’s a consensus on there being a consensus on there being a consensus, and so on … The problem is, that’s just trivially true. …
      And that since no one’s going to do anything about it, it’s not, by definition, a problem.

      etc.

      • Agreed, David L Hagen.
        Admittedly, that was a long essay to stay with and like other commenters, I was wondering if Viminitz ultimately closed all loops and made his point. Whether anyone here had the desire to finish reading or not, may I offer up my favourite bit from the piece: “One can hope that someone else’s interests, as she herself sees them, will dovetail with one’s own. But to get in high moral dudgeon when hers don’t betrays the moral maturity of a three year old.” That rang so true from my experience, I did actually LOL!

        • I object to the constant use of the “her” and “she” pronouns. If using “he” was wrong, it’s just as wrong to use “her”. Just use “one” or “they/their”.

        • I enjoyed the first two paragraphs and, then, felt like I was running an obstacle course to understand his thoughts. I prefer people who write like these.
          “The only people who need fear open-minded inquiry and robust debate are the actual bigots, including those on campuses or in the broader society who seek to protect the hegemony of their opinions by claiming that to question those opinions is itself bigotry.”
          Thomas Sowell

          Eric Hoffer,
”One of the surprising privileges of
          intellectuals is that they are free to be scandalously asinine without harming their reputation.”

          The Difference between an Environmentalist and a Denier
          You can easily tell if someone is a true environmentalist, i.e.
          an advocate for a healthy planet – he is one who is happy to hear the news that the arctic ice has returned. He is one who celebrates when the recent climate data show the alarmist‟s predictions of catastrophic warming might be wrong. The denier, if he is an eco/political activist, always denies new data that show the planet may be healthy after all. The Media usually defines deniers as those who deny the scientist’s computer model predictions. However, denying the measured climate data meets a better definition in the world of science. Burt Rutan

  2. Good gawd what a lot of words. Get to the point, man. I had to stop reading after a few paragraphs because I have little patience listening to people who like to hear themselves talk. Does this guy think he’s smart or clever or something?

    • By not reading the whole thing , you missed the last paragraph. The last sentence is prieceless:

      ” A little intellectual humility can go a long way towards making friends and influencing people, which presumably is what you’re after, especially the latter. Unless, of course, like the Almighty, you just want to bask in the splendor of your unassailable righteousness.”

    • I thought the same thing. There are things that are gazillion times more interesting that just circle talk.

      There is tons and tons of empty talk and angry talk. Same old things. We are angry as there are no solutions. No breakthroughs.

      Why are we fighting when there are civilization changing breakthroughs in every field of science?

      Talk about things that are real, physical things.

      In science there are piles and piles of physical paradoxes which should be impossible. There should and is a physical explanation for everything.

    • I shared your initial view and almost ducked out, but ploughed on till the final whistle.
      Basically in summary the point being made is, talk openly and listen rather than preach and expect your view to be adopted.
      Not sure where the relevance to scientific study is in the piece? But hey, those wiser than I, will perhaps find it..

      • “Basically in summary the point being made is, talk openly and listen rather than preach and expect your view to be adopted.”
        All well and good if you like everything just the way it is.

    • I tried my best but after reading half of it have been unable to continue.
      How can someone talk so much and say so little?
      Did he ever get around to making a point or offering an opinion?

        • Lattitude, ”
          …reminded me of a lot of conversations we had in the 60’s – 70’s <— we'll just leave it at that"

          Especially, after a few beers or those things we smoked. 🙂

      • Nicholas

        I found his discussion sequential, honest and encompassing. He discusses how things might be viewed so any believer in this or that sees their understanding reflected.

        For those not used to seeing balance in an argument, preferring to read confirmations, I understand that it can be tedious.

        If you spend time listening to a good philosopher it is a disciplining experience, as I can attest. A disciplined logician is difficult to fool because they see through false arguments. They tend to be aloof, and care nothing for emotional manipulation.

        The arguments for CAGW are appallingly weak. Strong emotions and weak mechanisms and weaker evidence. We don’t have to “deny” anything. We can get on with life, unconvinced.

        • I freely confess to being a less patient person than you are, Crispin.
          I found it unnecessarily wordy, and I say that as someone who has been often accused of giving the long version when the short version would suffice.
          But I did try to read it during the day when numerous items are vying for my attention, many of them related to stock trades.
          But I am somewhat uncertain of what you are saying: Is this person a “disciplined logician”?
          He seems to have accepted the global warming alarmist narrative, as least initially.
          That is why I was wondering if he came to see the light at the end of his lengthy journey through the tunnel?
          I can almost understand his desire to maintain an appearance of having a certain point of view so as not to be ostracized from social events.
          Those parties must be more fun to him than I have come to find such occasions.
          I have often reflected wistfully on the separation from frequent discussion with my family and friends that this entire issue has caused me over the past ten years or more.
          I could have chosen to simply clam up when discussing politics or science with people I have known all my life, but in the end I was unable to do so, even though I have gained nothing by the effort.
          Except knowledge that I have spoken up for what I believe.

    • Over the years I have detected a pattern, people, pseudo-intellectuals, who are not particularly intelligent, work on their vocabulary and then enter fields like philosophy, sociology or psychology, the hegee fields.

      They wrap big words around ignorant concepts and talk down to people creating a false impression of superiority.

    • Professor of Philosophy, so expect him to use 3 words for every 1 you would use.

      That said, I think he does have something important to say. So worth wading through.

      ~¿~

      • I agree and found his thought narrative entertaining … the article is not written in dry science so some would flounder; instead read it as you would a novel whereupon it becomes a lot more entertaining from a position of mental gymnastics 😉

      • As a computer science professor, I had many occasions to interact with professors of philosophy at several universities until I retired. Early in my career, my initial reaction to discussions with philosophers was quite negative until I realized that during such argumentations, their use of the inherently ambiguous English language was similar to, but much harder than my use of computer languages to implement a bug-free piece of software.

        If Viminitz had been writing this piece for some journals of philosophy, it would be much harder and less enjoyable to read. He has done a good job of dressing up his argumentations to appeal to us non-philosophers.

    • There is a lot of good stuff in Paul’s essay, although admittedly for those who grew up in the age of video games, actually reading something more than a couple of hundred words is not as exciting as a new game controller pad’s quick start guide.

      • I grew up in the age of video games, High School in the late 70’s, still play them avidly. I have slogged through Lord of the Rings over 14 times (including The Hobbit), but I couldn’t get through David Copperfield. Didn’t get through this essay either.

    • I too agree with icisil.

      I did, however, read farther than a few paragraphs, but I grew impatient with what, to me, seemed like verbal self gratification rather than a skillful addressing of an actual reading audience.

      I hate self-involved, self-entertaining writing of this sort.

      Sorry, if there are gems in it, then somebody extract them. I can’t waste my time digging through all the crap to find them.

      Monckton is much more entertaining — I always read through his entire presentations. (^_^)

    • Lol icisil. I was reminded reading this why I had problems staying awake in my college philosophy class. Good thing we all knew the better the bullshitting the better the grade. Something about those philosophy folks. Haha.

      • I loved my college philosophy classes probably because my professors were nothing like this gentleman.

        The true art of communication and, to my mind, intelligence, is to take complex topics and explain them simply and clearly. That is a high art form.
        It seems that many writers today are far more in love with their words rather than the ideas they are using those words to express. If they happen to have good ideas and thoughts and this writer does, the writer does a disservice to them by falling in love with his words.

      • I am convinced that the smart people are the ones who known global warming alarmism is pure malarkey.
        It is not even well disguised or packaged malarkey.
        The people involved display every trait of people with something to hide or are flat out lying.

  3. The man does like to hear himself drone on. Zzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, now I remember that required philosophy class shoehorned in between physics and thermodynamics. So much Ado about nothing. Consensus is the comfortable place people without technical background can rest while someone else makes decisions for them, such as how much national treasure we will blow tilting at windmills.

    I suggest he start by reading past posts by Curry and Watts etc.

    • “Consensus is the comfortable place people without technical background can rest while someone else makes decisions for them, such as how much national treasure we will blow tilting at windmills.”

      Mark,
      It was worth reading the entire column just to get this quote from you.
      Fair Warning, this, I’m steeling it! Thank you.

  4. Nice. Prolix, but the general dialectical approach is reminiscent of the late Sidney Morgenbesser. Who had learned his argumentative style in a hard school – that of the study of the Talmud.

    Sidney once said: We were taught never to cross a picket line. Did that mean you don’t cross a picket line manned by Albert Shanker’s Teachers Union?

    Quite.

  5. Nobody credible denies warming, they deny catastrophic warming — cause that is exactly what the data shows. Minimal warming that doesn’t match climate model expectations. The climate models have statistically failed to predict warming, so the only deniers, are those who continue on the path of doing something about AGW which seems to be minimal and beneficial.

    That’s the whole argument.

    So all this gook about “denial” shows a premise which fails the test of the argument. It is a label falsely applied to those of us in science who can objectively read a graph. Not coincidentally, we are also not monetarily compensated and lauded for claiming doom like the activist scientists are either. No prestige, nothing but fake “denier” labels but we can’t do much about that – can we.

    I’m afraid therefore, that like the fake news comparison, your entire diatribe misses the point. I suppose that doesn’t matter much in philosophy where the premise of an argument starts with erroneous assumptions hidden in flowery words and from that foundation builds an argument that cannot stand.

    • “Nobody credible denies warming”

      Incorrect
      The facts (presented previously in numerous posts) appear to show the “warming” to be a function of artificially adjusted data.

      The argument for 1°C warming fails when one removes the two ‘corrections’ found in the global temperature records.

      A reasonable and credible argument CAN be made for a global non-linear cooling trend based on the original (unadjusted) data.

      Add to the above …the traditional orthodox view that the planet has been trending cooler for the past ~8000 years. Now we have a second leg of support for global cooling.

      A third leg of support for the ‘global cooling’ argument comes in the form of statistical rekevence:
      To pretend that 1800 MONTHS of altered data has the statistical significance to reverse an ~8000 YEAR trend line is nothing more than wishful thinking when discussing systems as chaotic as the global changes in climates.

      Bottom line:
      Far more credible arguments exist for global cooling than that which exists for global warming ….without the need for post hoc revisionism.

      • Warming or cooling depends on the start and end points of a linear trend line.

        Linear trend lines can be deceptive for non linear temperature data.

        The planet is always warming or cooling.

        I prefer warming.

        Some ski bums prefer cooling.

        The evidence, however accurate it is, says:
        (rounded to nearest 10,000 years):

        20,000 to 10,000 years ago = warming

        10,000 years ago to late 1600’s = cooling

        Late 1600s to today = warming.

        • I suspect that by the time a sufficient interval has elapsed to see the 10,000 trend starting in 1600…it will once again be cooling, very sharp cooling this next time.
          We should be celebrating our clement climate regime.
          Instead we are driving children to depression, panic, addiction, suicide, and tens of thousands of overdose deaths every year…and that trend is a real hockey stick.
          It is like what Agent Smith said to Neo at the beginning of the first Matrix movie…when things are too pleasant, people become convinced something is terribly wrong.
          Some, it seems, go insane without some perception of severe danger.

      • Well, unlike you, I’ve spent a decade working the data and publishing it online. You may not have been around for that part. Warming trends are statistically non-zero by a tiny amount last I checked.

        Thus ‘credible’ is the operative word. Cooling as an argument, while emotionally fun to say, is not statistically rational in any context Ive seen. Your statements are not mathematical, not scientific and absolutely not correct.

        • The problem, Jeff, is that there is no “it”. No global temperature. some places have warmed, some have cooled, some have remained relatively static. You can’t combine them all and call it good.

          • You can, and for some purposes should, combine them all.

            But those purposes have essentially nothing to do with life on earth, but more about effective solar insolence based on atmospheric mix, which is the sort of knowledge we’ll need to master for really effective terraforming once we get off this rock.

            I realize that’s not what you had in mind, and were rather thinking of the abuse of using a high level aggregate when only low level aggregates matter, just that such a metric really does have a use.

            The abuse of course happens when someone tries to say that the “average temperature of your house when cooking dinner remains constant to within 1C, so you must not be cooking.” While ignoring that I don’t care about the averages, I just care that my steak gets cooked.

          • I haven’t heard that opinion in a while. Are you aware that any measurement of temperature of any object is an average of that object’s state? Even a marble on your counter has multiple temperature states within the same body. Would you also claim that the marble doesn’t have a valid temperature?

            Didn’t think so because the argument is silly.

            Measuring the Earth’s average temperature is absolutely OK to do, it does have meaning, and in the recent years the trend is NOT cooling.

            Sorry.

            It wasn’t warming very much either.

            Seriously, this stuff is all common sense. You can combine them all, you can actually combine even more of them.

        • Mr. Id writes:
          “Measuring the Earth’s average temperature is absolutely OK to do, it does have meaning, and in the recent years the trend is NOT cooling.”

          Dear Mr. Id,
          FYI:
          Global average temperature anomolies are the result of complex computer calculations.

          So, if or when the time comes that I embrace a belief in the idea that “Earth’s average temperature” is a measurement ….is when I ask to become a devout member of the congregation of True Believers In A Coming Atmospheric/Oceanic Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Driven Catastrophic Global Climate Armegeddon.

          • SkepticGoneWild

            “There is no global surface temperature data. That is an illusion.”

            You can write words but it doesn’t make them true. Willful ignorance of science is the worst kind of skepticism. Everyone who reads the nonsense you wrote is dumber for it AND there is literally zero point in your argument.

            The thing you stupidly claim doesn’t exist, is the problem this entire blog discusses and those who can’t grok the science shouldn’t really use their keyboards so much, they should use their eyes and strain to their last neuron to catch up.

            Very frustrating.

    • “Nobody credible denies warming…”

      I deny a bunch of ideas in the AGW space. I deny we can even see a 1C processed average change which is buried in the daily diurnal distribution of a place’s temperatures (which can vary 38C in some places between day time highs and night time lows). I have personally traveled from LA, CA at 24C to Boston, MA at -5C in January somehow nothing catastrophic happened to me nor to the other ~250 humans on that plane. I deny that climate models are validated and calibrated in any way that allows them to be robust and rigorous.

      You do realize the planet also cools; from the high temperature of the day to low temperatures, about 2 hours, before sunrise the planet cools.

      The planet warms and it cools. Big deal, so what?
      Why does the CAGW crowd only care about a warming planet? The planet is both geologically and biologically active; to desire or stipulate that it is OK for one of these to have an effect but not the other is illogical and hubris. Was it not biology that led to the formation of fossil fuels left the geology? Was it not the dead carcasses of marine biology that led to Coral Reefs. All the biology I am aware of consumes energy from its environment; be it chemical, solar, geothermal or other biology.

    • Agreed – makes one think about what consensus really is and how ill-defined and fluid terms such as denier really are. The discussion is wordy to a scientist who’s objective is to be accurate and brief but to some of the consensus folks, it’s language they may better connect with.

  6. First off, Paul does not remember the dinner table conversation from when he was six years ole, he remembers a memory of the event, and the proof is that he memory is not addressable, ie, he cannot remember his fathers answer. Then Paul goes downhill from there, engaging in rambling nonsense, to such an extent that this whole exercise is nothing but grass recycled by a horse.

  7. A good read which reminded me of the old gag that a philosopher is someone with too much free time on their hands. So far the science is being 97 per cent silenced and that is why “climate denier” is the most respectable climate game in town. I never trust people who say the science is settled and there is no need of further discussion. Especially if they are academic empire building or making a fast buck off other, usually poorer, people.

    • The idiots on the left are the ones that deny that climate has been changing naturally for over 4 billion years ! They seem to think the Earth was the “Garden of Eden” until evil Humans came along……D’OH !

  8. How many philosophers does it take to replace a lightbulb?

    But seriously, if the issue is dinner invitations I suggest that Dr. Viminitz should be cautious with denial of the Climate Emergency, even at a university that is funded significantly by oil.

  9. Professor Viminitz admits he knows little about AGW and then uses an inordinate amount of flowery words to prove it.

    Still, it was an entertaining read for me, although I doubt if it produced the result the Professor was aiming for.

  10. Nope. There is no talking to Warmunists. This is war, and one they started, but we on the side of truth and actual science will finish.

  11. In one of the older parts if not oldest of the Jewish Scriptures, the Book of Job (38:25-30), there are serious questions about weather. Despite all our scientific insights we cannot give conclusive answers:
    Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm,
    to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert,
    to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass?
    Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew?
    From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
    when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen?

  12. >And unlike defending pedophilia
    I heard it’s a bad idea to mess with the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.

    • Mr. Id writes:
      “Measuring the Earth’s average temperature is absolutely OK to do, it does have meaning, and in the recent years the trend is NOT cooling.”

      Dear Mr. Id,
      FYI:
      Global average temperature anomolies are the result of complex computer calculations.

      So, if or when the time comes that I embrace a belief in the idea that “Earth’s average temperature” is a measurement ….is when I ask to become a devout member of the congregation of True Believers In A Coming Atmospheric/Oceanic Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Driven Catastrophic Global Climate Armegeddon.

  13. Scholars and doctors who don’t know a shit about climate and still are sceptic to Thermageddon are not more impressive in print than similarly ignorant alarmists who chase deniers as their meaning of life.
    Why is any bla bla philosophying jerk, sceptic or alarmist, so anxious to claim the right to write pages up and down about a topic they don’t understand anyway?
    They just legitimate that expressing climate idiocy is a basic human right, and as such unconsciously keeps the mania alive.
    I actually once met a philosopher who claimed to having seen snow recently. It nearly cost him his job.
    Why couldn’t he just shut up? The climate madness management couldn’t care less.

  14. Biosketch: Paul Viminitz is a professor of P̶h̶i̶l̶o̶s̶o̶p̶h̶y̶ Intellectual Onanism at the University of Lethridge in Canada

  15. I am going to go against the (so far) majority view. I think this was fairly well done, but for a different audience than you have here.

    Yes, a lot of words, and a lot of it “unscientific”, but his point was not to try to counter the science, pro or con, point by point as is the usual form of attack (on both sides). The point was to illustrate with much simpler arguments that “denial” can be valid, and “consensus” may not be. Neither is a replacement for cold hard facts, but in many instances those facts are not accessible – e.g. The Second Coming May become fact if you wait long enough, and it’s believers will be validated, although the reasons why at least some of them believe may not be. It may also be invalidated if the world comes to an end next Friday with no sign of this miraculous event. It’s disbelievers will be validate, but it will be a rather poor and unhappy validation as far as they are concerned.

    Read it again. But this time, not looking for a refutation of CAGW, but as an argument as to why their bloativating certainty may well be misplaced, but equally, why the absolute certainty of the “deniers” may not be as solid as some may wish.

    • I also found this article interesting and thought provoking. Hopefully we’re part of the silent majority and not outliers. I think many of the readers here may have fallen into the echo chamber of AGW skepticism, as was suggested by this dissertation. I remain firmly in the skeptics corner, but am always actively looking for data that would counter my thoughts. We all should. “Know thine enemy” as it were.
      I hold my nose and also follow alarmist sites. It’s not enjoyable, but it makes me more certain of my position on the matter.

  16. He missed an option (between 3 and 4):
    I could note that adapting to future change, whatever its cause, will be easier than any grand and ineffective gestures made now.

  17. The writing here by a philosopher seems to be consistent with the definition provided below with respect to the medieval Scholasticist’s arguments over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin:

    “The subject of arcane intellectual speculation; used as an example subject of enquiry the pursuit of which is of no value.”

  18. Wow, I read every word! This philosopher, from first principles and in a most entertaining fashion, underscored the vacuousness of thought on the side of the “end-of-the-worldites” and made the case for scepticism to be the natural default position on all offerings of “truth”. I thought “post philosophical” philosophers were all status quo footsoldiers.

    All philosophy profs who have spoken out on AGW, until Paul Viminitz came along, have called out for Nuremburg trials for sceptics of CAGW, or simply the death penalty.

    Paul is a true sceptic (not just of AGW) based on an understanding of human nature and rigorous argument. Don’t be fooled by his excellent sense of humor. It is a glaring oxymoron for an intellectual to ‘go with the flow’. It is malpractice for a true philosopher not to argue and seek to find fault. This may be the very best essay on Climate, etc.

    • …I totally agree Gary, most commentators here seem to have missed the meaning…and the sarcasm….and the humor ! Maybe you and I are just “anomalies ” ! lol

      • No question MB, many here need a reread to get it and it is worth the effort. He uses self deprecation (what do I know?), clever sarcasm but a thorough grasp of logic and argument, which is in brilliant contrast with unremarkable intellects who backstop the crippled Catastrophic Anthro GW Swiss Cheese Theory of global warming.

        Scientist readers are more used to barebones, to-the-point prose in argument and, indeed, one can easily pick out the weaknesses commonly found in sociological studies and bad science in general from its verbosity, convolutions, begging of questions and atrocious logic. Note the impatience of no-nonsense scientists on the topic. I’m a scientist but surgical prose is too sharp an instrument for the output of Climate Worriers and Social Justice Warriors.

        Paul Viminitz’s stuff is more scary for the faithful end-is-nigh klatch than a brilliant paper on climate by, say, Lintzen, because, without ad hominem, and in an avuncular style, he paints a portrait of the ‘Consensus’ as rather simple-minded, like-minded, clubby types who want to be cool in the collective lefty fashion where feelings trump rigorous inquiry. The Hume quote “…some people entertain some weird sentiment Hume calls ‘fellow-feeling’, a sentiment which Jane, apparently, does not entertain.” And he quips about Dick’s and Jane’s “having choices” but being unsure of who they want to be – this and other quips that paint the cultural setting this cimate controversy was born in.

        • Animals can understand nature, to a certain extent. Some animals use instruments. Some demonstrate a bit of “scientific” understanding. Many use a language, even a rather evoluted one.
          Only humans can speculate about speech, and knowledge, and understanding. A simple three-words sentence can be dissected and discussed about for long, for why it has been said (or written), why those three words have been chosen, what’s the underlying meaning, and so on.
          Get human people!!

        • I will have to read it again when I am not pressed for time or distracted.
          Now that you mention it, at the outset I was thinking he was doing a Brad Keyes-style opaquely satirical talk of the warmista mentality.

      • “Getting the meaning” is not really the point of the commentary here.

        Philosophical rhapsodizing is not consistent with a scientific mind. It is a poor choice of mockery, for philosophizing is self-mocking.

        Much better to stick with actual scientific debate.

  19. Science, especially climate science, is not about belief. It is about evidence, demonstration of proof of scientific conjecture.

    and proof of human caused climate change is there is spades…

    (Oh, what an ironic comment!) SUNMOD

    • Hey griff, right after “is there in spades…” is where you should have posted the proof.

      Did you forget, or get distracted?

      • I think he needed to use that spade to continue digging the hole he is in.

        Griff; The uninformed gift that keeps on giving.

    • Since there is no empirical evidence of atmospheric CO2 driving the Earth’s temperature, your alleged “proof” seems to have gone missing.

      So you’re back to “belief.” In bullshit.

  20. I find little difference between the scientist and the philosopher. The philosopher will drone on and on with words, while the scientist will drone on and on with numbers. Each will defend their need to do so, because the numbers, and the thoughts behind the words, are important.

    Paul said some very important things. I really enjoyed how he nailed the frivilus genesis of consensus without having any idea of how the climate change consensus evolved so frivolously. But this is the one I found most important:

    “They tell us that AGW is the most urgent problem facing the world today, and then they wonder why no one’s treating it as such. It’s because there isn’t a single person on the planet, themselves included, for whom doing something about AGW is anywhere near the top of her things-to-do-today list.”

    I believe this is a profound truth. The only actions being taken to ‘prevent climate change’ (whatever that means) are the ones that don’t cause any real, present pain. Since it would require actions that do cause immediate pain and inconvenience to stop future climate change, we will not be stopping future climate change. The GND will not be implemented. They will not stop building coal plants in China or India. We will not give up meat, personal transportation or flights to Hawaii. Or as Jordan Peterson put it, we are not going to give up our I-Phones!

    Much of what passes for climate change action these days is nothing but virtue signalling, and that seems to be enough for most.

    My fear of a dystopian future without cheap, abundant energy has been eased by this philosopher, and I am grateful.

    • James,
      I admire your optimism, I also have general agreement with you, about the Profs points, though am critical of his over long style.
      The point about people not doing something, (for now) is nothing to be comfortable with. If you are basing that comfort on human nature favouring convenience over hardship, remember, totalitarian imposition, does not depend or care, about any individual’s human desire.
      The issue before us is, collective madness actually imposing hardship where none is needed or wanted to solve a non existent problem.
      The climate alarmists do not care, what you as an individual want or think. They have a policy objective to make you do what they decide you must do. The climate concern component is just a convenient excuse, to legitimise their objective.
      We are in very troubling times.

      • Rod Evans…I have been very concerned about “collective madness imposing hardships…”, but I am beginning to believe they will fail. This isn’t the first time that the insane have tried to take over the asylum, but they are most successful when the threat they are rallying against is much more tangible to the rest of the inmates.

        German citizens had first-hand experience that the world was out to destroy the Fatherland, even if it wasn’t. In Russia, the Bolsheviks didn’t need much convincing that the Tsar had to go. The peasants of Europe loved the idea of blaming all of their problems on witches, and it didn’t cost them anything to burn them. It is much easier to convince the masses that they must act when the threat is affecting them personally and intimately, and the cost of action is minimal, or far superior to the status quo.

        Climate change hasn’t had any negative impact on anybody yet, and the cost of real action is astronomical. Add to that the fact that Mother Nature just isn’t cooperating, the crisis activists keep acting like scam artists and every day more and more people discover how lame the science is, and this attempted coup is doomed to failure…I hope.

    • “Much of what passes for climate change action these days is nothing but virtue signalling, and that seems to be enough for most.”…….Exactly…..

      Bingo….(Maybe some commenting here should watch a few of ” Jordan Peterson” video talks…?)

      • Mark Broderick…Yes, that is the video that really amped up my optimism. The alarmists don’t really have a chance, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do more damage on the way to their inevitable demise. For too long we have been cowed into believing that we were the underdogs, when we have had a tremendous advantage the whole time, and on nearly every front. It’s time we started acting like it.

        • Perfectly said.

          This post, same as you, immediately reminded me of Jordan Peterson, whom the left and the lamestream media have open up a battle front trying to demean this great courageous debater, philosopher and author. He has been called extrme right, fascist, etc etc. I’ afraid that the left, the extreme left and their buddies in the fake media are already hatching out a plan to destroy Dr. Paul Viminitz.

  21. Economy/brevity, clarity,and accuracy, were principles I used to demand from my team when it came to writing/reporting.
    I think those requirements are still valid…..
    When it came to presenting, I would advise the speaker. If you have a point worth making, just remember it can’t be absorbed if the would be recipients have nodded off. Avoid boring your audience.
    Just saying.

    • If you find an 8 minute read “boring” then maybe the problem is with your “attention span” ? Obviously, Dr. Judith Curry and CTM didn’t find it boring ! ( I admit, as an “American Canuck”, I probably have a weird sense of humor….and philosophy)

  22. From the article: “Second question: A consensus recognized by whom? It can’t be those who subscribe to that consensus, because then anyone who denies what the Creation Scientists are telling us would count as a denialist. After all, they too see eye to eye with each other.”

    That’s a good point. A consensus doesn’t always mean the consensus is correct. In the case of climate science, the “consensus” is not only not correct, it is not even true.

    The 97% consensus claim by climate alarmists is just a big, fabricated lie meant to fool people into believing a certain way. It’s a tactic of the deceitful. There is no 97% consensus on climate science.

    • The 97% consensus is a made up story constructed over the replies of a few thousand scientists who replied to a trick question. Most of those replies were discounted, and the 97% construct in reality represents just a few scientists, less than 100, who had replied according to the questioners’ wishes.

  23. Maybe it’s because I was once a Philosophy major in college, but I thoroughly enjoyed Paul’s essay. Thanks to CTM for reposting this.

    A little intellectual humility can go a long way towards making friends and influencing people, which presumably is what you’re after, especially the latter.

    Thoroughly agree. I for one would take AGW proponents more seriously if their proposed solutions included even a hint of just what a huge task transitioning off fossil fuels is, and just how few workable options there are at the moment. But because their solutions lack any anchor in reality, I’m inclined to mistrust their judgment of the problem as well.

  24. When I started in science, the ‘consensus’ was that you could study pain and the relief of pain by shining a hot light on a rat’s tail and measuring the latency till it moved. The rat’s tail is a densely enervated and vascularized organ with a thick horny skin, used for balance and thermoregulation. The ‘consensus’ made no sense to me, and I spent 40 years probing how pain evolved and could be controlled in inflamed tissues on very small budgets. History (and citations) are proving me right.

    You have to adhere to your beliefs about what truth is and test the evidence to the extent you can. Where there is a fundamental difference in viewpoints, the kind of ‘rational friendly discussion’ is impossible, because the initial assumptions about the world are too divergent. For example, I cannot discuss evolutionary theory with some people, and I certainly cannot discuss CAGW with my brother.

  25. AGW is purely a political ploy to leverage control over the masses!

    Change my mind!

    Start with disproving the null hypothesus!

    Otherwise, you can keep your nefarious politics!

  26. An intelligent philosopher cannot be an atheist if he has read and understands Aristotle, Aquinas, and the Scholastics. That is true for anyone. Bad philosophy here.

    If there is no God, why care about the climate? Everything is just an accident without purpose. Might makes right and the correct choice for everyone is to do whatever is beneficial for yourself. Let future generations worry about the climate, the same way we are letting them deal with the ever increasing national debt, the collapse of social security, and a host of other issues.

    Note: I do not think climate change is a significant problem.

    • But if there is a god, why care about climate? Let he/she/it take care of the climate. Just more atheist bashing by the smug deists.

      • Yes. God is in control. But we are stewards of the earth so we are responsible for using it wisely. CO2 is not a pollutant, but there are pollutants that we can and should control.

        I am not bashing atheists, only saying that their non-belief is nonsense, or at least the way they conduct themselves as non-believers. If there is no God, then you are god and everyone and everything else can be used as you see fit. Atheists are atheists for the same reason this guy says people take sides on the climate issue: they decide it is cool to be one or the other without understanding the issue. They refuse to look at the evidence.

        • ” If there is no God, then you are god and everyone and everything else can be used as you see fit.”

          That’s your biased interpretation, not the way atheists actually live.

          • Please give your unbiased interpretation of what atheists believe and how and why atheists actually live the way they do. Explain why that logically follows from what they actually believe.

            Have you read Aristotle, Aquinas, and the Scholastics? What is your interpretation?

          • “Have you read Aristotle, Aquinas, and the Scholastics? What is your interpretation?”

            Why would I need to read any of those in order to know how I live? Your statement makes no sense.

            Your position that because I don’t believe in a god, I am therefore a horrible person who lies, steals, cheats, rapes, murders, etc.

            None of those things are true, therefore your interpretation is false. In fact, anyone is capable of those things, and many of them are highly religious.

        • “Atheists are atheists for the same reason this guy says people take sides on the climate issue: they decide it is cool to be one or the other without understanding the issue. They refuse to look at the evidence.”

          Again, your biased interpretation. It’s nothing to do with being “cool”. There is no evidence to look at, other than circumstantial, and extreme confirmation bias.

          • Have you read Sean Carroll’s book The Big Picture? In it he says he became an atheist because of his (mis)understanding of religion when he was a child. He goes on to cite things we know (or suspect) from science to prove there is no God. (Of course, science cannot disprove the existence of God.) Then he suggests that we should act as though there is a purpose to existence. After claiming everything exists by accident he ignores the implications entirely. This is nonsense.

          • “Have you read Sean Carroll’s book The Big Picture? In it he says he became an atheist because of his (mis)understanding of religion when he was a child. He goes on to cite things we know (or suspect) from science to prove there is no God. (Of course, science cannot disprove the existence of God.) Then he suggests that we should act as though there is a purpose to existence. After claiming everything exists by accident he ignores the implications entirely. This is nonsense.”

            Science doesn’t need to prove there is no god. Null hypothesis. Claiming there is a god is an extraordinary claim, and requires extraordinary evidence. If no evidence is forthcoming, I can safely ignore the claims and do not need to waste my time worshiping a non-existent entity.

        • The error in your ‘anything goes’ claim as to what would happen if there were no god is _reality_ – your decisions have to be in accord with reality or you will cease to exist. (You’ll die if you drink ethylene glycol for example, or jump off a cliff to have the enjoyment of flying through the air, or hug a hungry tiger.)

          Subjectivists claim what you do, but we can see in history the result of that approach – for example the most murderous ideology of the twentieth century, which an alarming number of people still True Believe in today. It’s Marxism, which denies the effectiveness of the human mind for life.

          BTW, you use the term ‘athiest’, but note that atheism is not a philosophy for living life, it is simply a conclusion about a crucial question. Among those who do not believe in gods, Marxism is one approach to living, Objectivism an opposite one. (With mixing, many people who believe Marxist ideas are religious – the Anglican-Catholic church today, for example, exemplified by the current Pope but long existing in Catholic clergy in Seattle for example. They tend to be climate alarmists.)

    • Um, ‘South River Independent’:

      Aristotle taught that there is one world and humans can understand it. Ayn Rand explained the life-founded base of productivity and ethics, in the nature of life as conditional (you have to act rationally to continue living, everything that supports that is the good, everything that does not is the bad). Much of what you enjoy today comes from the legacy of Aristotle – productive societies that value individual life, keep you alive with medicine and surgery, and develop solid shelter and good transportation (complete with affordable portable fuel).

      OTOH, Plato taught that there are two worlds – an unreal one we live in and a ‘real’ one attainable only by long study and devotion. Saint Augustine used that to define the Christian religion as we know it. (Including the Eucharist and Original Sin.) The infallability of priests comes from Plato’s other world notion, note climate alarmists’ position that debating skeptics is beneath them – David Suzuki for example. With Plato’s approach there is no science, it’s all subjectivism. That’s why they get nasty when pushed – emotions are all they know, they’ve spent their life that way so it is very difficult to change. (h/t to John Ridpath for that insight.)

      Thomas Aquinas used Aristotle’s ideas to a substantial extent, but was religious thus followed Plato more than Aristotle. (Religion being a fundamental. He saw the purpose of life as union and fellowship with God, not as life itself – that too is consistent with Plato’s other world theory.)

      Immanuel Kant used Plato’s ideas to deny the human mind, then the inventor of the most murderous ideology of the twentieth century built on that with his fixed-pie and drive-to-the-bottom ethics presumptions. I find that climate alarmists believe Karl Marx in other areas of their life, they are collectivists and against business. (David Suzuki for example blamed business for environmental problems in his speech sanctioning the violent Occupy mob in Vancouver BC.) And very negative about humans, despite evidence all around them of planting, nurturing, figuring out how to keep them alive, transporting them out of harm’s way or bringing aid to them (using – gasp! – conveyances powered by the affordable portable energy source called ‘fossil fuel’).

  27. That the author did not “donkey laugh” at the possibility that CNN has (had) any credibility left disqualifies him as anyone worthy of listening to…about anything.

    The only folks due that fault without condemnation are those with terminal TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) who would perish without their daily dose of fake news…nobody does that better than CNN with a 97% fake news quotient (not 100% because a few times each month a talking head misreads a story and stumbles too closely to the truth).

  28. “The only problem, as already noted, is that since I don’t know anything about AGW, I don’t know what I’m required to not believe about it. “

    “For example, some people are optimistic that global temperatures will return to their pre-Industrial levels once we either exhaust the fossil fuels we’re currently converting to carbon dioxide, or kill ourselves off, whichever comes first. Though ‘optimistic’ might be a strange choice of words in this context.”

    Yes, the Malthusians are optimistic they’ll be correct in goadin ignorant masses to suicide, and so 7 billion people will vanish from humanity due to CC policies, and not CC itself.
    —–

    ” …there’s often a radical disconnect between one’s declared preferences and her revealed ones. Which of the two are her real preferences? I’d go with the latter. So when someone tells me she’d prefer these ends but consistently pursues those instead, I’m inclined to suspect she doesn’t really prefer what she thinks she does.

    It is called hypocrisy. Saying one thing, doing another. The Elites on the Left are entirely composed of hypocrites and self-deceiving liars. I choose to be a CC Denier (that is, that CC is problem to worry about and destroy Western economies over) as I fill my pickup with gas, buy affordable, healthy foods produced with lots of fossil fuel burning, and not be a hypocrite.

    “… So I can level no charge of hypocrisy at those who would do something about AGW but don’t, because in the absence of others following suit – which they won’t – their efforts would be wasted. This describes most of my colleagues. And probably yours too.

    The writer finally gets to why “doing something about CC” is a waste of time. What we should be doing is keeping our economy strong, and discussing Climate Change and pursuing mythical policies like they mean anything is a colossal waste of resources.

    And I loved this stinging critique of the AGW alarmism we are being subjected to:

    ““Ah, but this time it’s different.”

    And yet it never is.

    “Yes, but now we have the science to prove it.”

    And what shaman thought he didn’t?”

    Yes indeed!! What shaman past, present or future didn’t (doesn’t) think their proclamations were (are) true?

  29. “The only problem, as already noted, is that since I don’t know anything about AGW … ”

    I don’t know anything about it, but I know it’s wrong.

  30. I enjoyed this exercise in logic and philosophical argument.

    Prolix? Yes but well worth reading .

    Another piece that caught my eye today was:’
    https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2019/09/14/maxime-bernier-attacked-greta-thunbergs-autism-naomi-klein-says-autism-made-the-teen-a-global-voice-of-conscience.html

    In a nutshell, an enconium of Saint Greta by none other than the execrable Naomi Klein.

    Paul Viminitz acknowledges he knows almost nothing about CAGW, (witness his nod to the entirely bogus 97% consensus) but arrives at a pretty logical conclusion nevertheless, exclusively by philosophical considerations.

    Klein, by contrast, purports to be a great CAGW expert. And bloviates an article as mendacious as it is stupid.

    Thunberg, as egregious as she is, has at least the excuses of her Autism, her youth and the fact that she appears to have been greviously psychologically abused by her venal parents and a gang of deep green, ruinable energy mafiosi.

    What about Klein? Stupidity doesn’t begin to excuse the obvious malevolence of this shroudwaving, far-left eco-extremist.

    Give me the amiable Paul Viminitz any time.

  31. This is an argument about argument and logical support of position. It has very little to do with the climate controversy per se. It does give a framework for those who are not “weather wonks,” as my near and dear have called me, to see that an argument from authority has a large number of assumptions that are not in evidence when properly examined. It doesn’t do anything to resolve the controversy, but does a decent job of explaining why those who argue from complete certainty of the need for collective action need to examine the underlying chain of logic. That chain of logic becomes quite suspect once it is inspected without the imprimatur of authority hanging over its every breath.

    It is written in the language used frequently when one attempts to apply the theory of logic to a situation and need to explain it to a broader object. Unfortunately there are so few people left in the world who were given a classical education that its language seems laborious to most. The reaction here is similar to the reaction of first-year philosophy students when the subject of logic as a school of thought is introduced. We are so used to our thinking in every day life that stepping back and thinking about thinking becomes an unfamiliar chore. (Though I do concur that most philosophers have a way of using a string of long words when a concise sentence would better convey the message.)

    • Compared to much philosophy this piece is crystalline, I would say.

      Anyway, well put:
      “It does give a framework for those who are not “weather wonks,” as my near and dear have called me, to see that an argument from authority has a large number of assumptions that are not in evidence when properly examined. It doesn’t do anything to resolve the controversy, but does a decent job of explaining why those who argue from complete certainty of the need for collective action need to examine the underlying chain of logic.”

      And it dismays me a little that so many fail to understand and instead run away from the big words and long sentences.

  32. Dear Paul Viminitz

    I take it, that you’r article should be considered a request for a good take on AGW-denial, or an interesting angle so to speak.

    So on that note, I have decided to answer you, so here goes –

    A cause for AGW denial.

    The planet and its nature, is often by the AGW crowd, pictured as som garden of Eden and humans as it’s delinquent tenders. This comparison is terribly lacking, because of the use of a garden. As a garden is a completely human concept. A plot of land mostly, if not only, populated by flowers, bushes and trees not native to the latitude of the garden. Making it near impossible for any of the plants to survive without human intervention.

    Now what they all agree on, the AGW crowd, is that the planet and nature, would thrive without humans.

    So a garden, it is obviously not, the planet and it’s nature. Then what is it, and what is the relation between human’s, nature and the planet.

    Well, so far, humans, as far as I can understand it. At least if we listen to the AGW crowd. Humans are tremendously well adapted to live on the planet. Our ability to consume and devour our soundings, have reached such a degree. That to many of these AGW’s, humans are overpopulating the planet. And should be considered almost a cancer or a parasite, growing at an exponential rate.

    So what do we have for a comparable anecdote in nature, where can we find ourselves, or should I say, where can we find a similar destiny. Somewhere you will find exponential growth, coupled with a near omnipotence versus it’s surroundings and an appetite for destruction.

    The chicken little analogy springs to mind, although, a tad before it became a chicken (depending on you’r stance on som other topic). A state known commonly; as an egg.

    Some say, that you must brake a few egg’s, to make an omelet. Well you need to brake one to make a chicken to. And life prior to that moment of official vandalism. What would that be like, for the chicken. Perhaps not so unlike that of humanity. The egg, laid before it, in all it’s pristine glory. As it eats and grow’s, grow’s and eat’s, both in an exponential fashion. Much like a parasite or a cancer.

    Now it might see it self, as the «Destroyer of Egg», and try to limit it’s consequence to the egg, rasjon it, perhaps. It is after all a garden-egg, and chicken the egg’s tender. Allas, as is obvious to us on the outside, the egg is but a temporary adobe. And only through eating it at break neck speed, and in as short a while as possible, empty the egg. So that when hunger leaves no other option than to destroy, what has been a life long home. The chicken will have attained the needed strength to complete it’s herculean task.

    Armed with this comparison, who are we, to potentially jeopardise the path laid before us by nature? Nature, who has been around a bit longer than humans. And might have a plan for us after all. Although it might be a bit hard for us to se, from within the egg.

    Earth, is as every other thing or place in the universe, of a temporary nature. It is not a staying place. And as egg, it won’t be a place we would like to return to, after we once have left.

    To sum it up, to deny AGW, is to embrace nature and human’s place in it, as chicken.

    Fibo DeGjenn
    CARPE OVUM
    edo – rumpo

  33. Started reading the post, but after a few lines decided to go back to my reading of “In Search of Lost Time” by Marcel Proust for some excitement and insight.

  34. Dr. Paul Viminitz uses a very great number of words to say a very few things of interest. I wish he had a secretary who would prune away the unnecessary verbosity and leave us just with the sentences of interest like “What we’ve got is that there’s a report on a report on a report, and so on … that there’s a consensus on there being a consensus on there being a consensus, and so on “

  35. Consider Karl Popper’s view on the purpose of university education:

    “I want to begin by telling you what I think is the real aim of a university education. I will try to be brief about this, though I must warn you from the beginning that many people think very differently from the way I do. I believe that someone is well educated only if he realizes in great detail how little he knows. And I think that this is really very important. I think that a man who has the feeling that he knows a lot is somehow badly educated. Yes, one can know a lot, namely, about all the problems and theories that have arisen owing to the growth of our knowledge. And one cannot really live in our world today without realizing how quickly our knowledge, and especially our technological knowledge, has grown. But there is a difference between pure knowledge and applied knowledge. And the main point, at least with regard to pure knowledge, is to recognize the many open problems that lurk in all the knowledge that we have achieved. Without that l would say that you are not really educated.

    The aim of pure knowledge is to understand: to understand the world in which we live, to understand society, to understand ourselves, and to understand this great miracle of human knowledge…The more we know about it the more we realize that this is a very huge task—that it is, in fact, an infinite task. And the more we know and the more our knowledge grows, the more modest we should become about all those things that we don’t know.”

  36. The green religion, sucking out hundreds of billions of dollars out of working people’s pockets and threatening to control our avery move and every word, is not a matter of a joke, no matter how sophisticated a joker is. A sense of humor is fine when it’s not awkwardly misapplied.

  37. There needs to be a field of philosophy where the objective is to solve problems through clear and logical thinking and a non partisan examination of the facts, as opposed to talk in circles with no connection to observations and analysis.

    Here is an example, of no BS clear thinking, in a six minute response to Oxford debater’s questions.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBbvehbomrY

    The response to: “Do you think the overwhelming …. for climate change …. will pull all countries together”?

    Is perfect.

    What do you think?

    • Without looking, was it Jordan Peterson?
      For someone who is unable to be sure it is pure malarkey, Peterson cuts the alarmist position to shreds, IIRC.

  38. A reason for AGW denial? –> Who gives a crap? I don’t. It’s a fake religion/philosophy corrupting branch of science for the sole purpose of getting money out of people. It’s a scam and nothing else.

    Moving on….

  39. “Third question: 97% of which scientists?”

    If we are talking about the AGU survey of 2009, then we know. If we take the results at face value;

    10,257 surveys sent, 3146 survey replies, 77 were climate scientists where 75 of those answered yes to question 2 (Human activities is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperature?).

    So *ALL* of the 75 climate scientists (Usually alarmists say ALL scientists) said yes to question 2. This is where the 97% figure comes from. There have been many reviews of the “science” since, particularly J.Cook, reaching the same result, which, of course is bogus.

    • Or, as in one video I saw (As the subject really intrigues me), they went on a global tour to spread the message the earth was flat. You really can’t make this stuff up!

  40. Dr. Viminitz, if you really want a good laugh, please review how Dr. Oreskes came up with that 97% figure. Regardless of which side of the argument you were to be on, the methodology was not merely poor, but appalling to the point of comedy. And even yet, the media – and government – exaggerate the findings further.

  41. I read it all. But first I had trouble understanding where this author was going. His reasoning seemed to go in circles, then he made a point and began another circle. Eventually I awoke with my index finger on the down arrow and the screen fixed at the bottom of the page somewhat below Leave a Reply. Somewhat humbled at falling asleep in the middle of such intense philosophy, I returned to the top, scrolled down to the point I last remembered and continued reading to the end. Enlightened, I thought many would enjoy my little story. Well, maybe a few.

  42. “if it turns out we’ve got anything longer than ten minutes, say a couple of months, the bank’s not going to accept my “The End is Nigh” sandwich board in lieu of my next loan repayment.”

    True – the bank also would not have made the loan in the first place if they believed there was a man-made climate catastrophe going on 😉

  43. “…it’s no wonder neither of us can preach other than to the converted. So since I’m now their official spokesman, I’d like to propose we both wipe the venom from our spears and talk to rather than about each other.”

    And what will that lead to, compromise? How do you compromise with someone who wants to spend trillions on a Green New Deal that will send us all back to the dark ages and result in a temperature decrease of less than 0.1 percent? Why even bother? It would be much cheaper to save our money and do what we can to adapt to global warming when, and if, it ever occurs.

    Banning the use of fossil fuels would result in the deaths of billions, which is what I suspect these true believers actually want to accomplish. Think about it. Where do high population areas get their food? They don’t grow it. They depend on farmers out in the country to grow it and ship it to them. How can they continue to do that without fossil fuels? And yet the vast majorities of city dwellers will vote for the proponents of the Green New Deal and, in the process, vote for their own starvation.

  44. You are representing ‘Jew’ as a cultural thing.

    It was in the past, and still is with extreme orthodox Jews who reject separation of church and state – as does Totalitarian Islam.

    People whose ancestry does not include Judaists do profess to be Jews, IIRC singer Sammy Davis Junior – his ancestry was middle African not Middle Eastern.

    Beware that ‘culture’ is sued to oppress people – done against Ossetians in the country of Georgia in eastern Europe. And renewed in India against Sikhs – gummint there is on a kick to push mainstream Indian culture (that’s the Hindu and such religion, some parts of India may have Muslims, Kashmir has Sikhs which is a religion somewhat related to Hindu. Sikhs are productive people but some who’d emigrated to the Vancouver BC area were terrorists against Air India, fellow Sikhs there were not forthcoming to police until a decade later when it was too late to convict any ringleaders still alive.)

  45. I like this article. I think this way of writing takes training and experience. I cannot write this way myself but I understand the writing construction; I understand the needed concurrency all of the thoughts and ideas presented in the article. It seems oddly familiar to how Hamilton wrote Federalist No1 and how Jay wrote Federalist No2. It is a beefy way to write but in this case I believe it added more clarity to the writer’s point of view.

    Not overly fond of the “he”s and “she”s; I try to use more collective pronouns as there is not a specific person in this case.

  46. I never took a philosophy course. I never wanted to take a philosophy course. But, after reading this three times and thinking hard about it, I think it is a brilliant take down of the Chicken Little’s of AGW. Just my view.

  47. The denialist should go read the Wakefield et al paper retracted from the Lancet:

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2897%2911096-0/

    The lazy media says that the paper proposed a link between MMR and autism. Anyone and I mean anyone capable of High School level reading will discern that that paper says no such thing.

    It quotes various theories, including opioid excess and Vitamin B12 irregularities, for causing autism. It refers to literature suggesting a link between MMR and autism. In other words, it summarises different hypotheses and cites relevant literature. It makes no judgement on any of them.

    It then says: ‘ WE DID NOT prove an association between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described.’

    Was the syndrome they described autism? No. It was syndromes associated with the gut.

    ‘We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps and rubella vaccination.’

    They have reported a temporal sequence of events. Clinical presentation occurred after the age of vaccination. Nothing more.

    The next sentence reads:

    ‘Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.’

    So in other words, the conclusion of the paper is that a falsifiable hypothesis should be examined scientifically.

    The falsifiable hypothesis is that MMR vaccination is causally linked to the development of chronic enterocolitis in children displaying symptoms of regressive autism.

    An hypothesis is per se unproven. It is not fact, it is a Gedankenexperiment leading to predictions falsifiable by experimental observation.

    So the study they carried had nothing to do with how autism develops per se, it had to do with gut disorders which many autistic children present with.

    The firestorm was caused by SUGGESTING THAT SOME SKEPTICAL, HYPOTHESIS-DRIVEN SCIENCE BE UNDERTAKEN.

    Everyone should ask whether the clinical data, including histology of biopsies, on autistic children presenting with enterocolitis was correct or not. So far as I am aware, 20 years later, those observations stand. So that is not the reason for the paper being withdrawn unless I am very much mistaken.

    Were the medical records documenting date of vaccination fraudulent? Well, I am sure the BMA could not allow that under its watch, but it is a wacky far out hypothesis as to a legitimate reason for retraction.

    Were the urinary methylmalonic acid measurements falsified or not reproducible?

    I do not know, but I do know that nowhere in that paper do Wakefield et al say they proved an association between MMR and chronic enterocolitis, much less an association between MMR and autism.

    You cannot demand withdrawal of a paper if the data is correct but the tone of the discussion section is not to your liking.

    You can demand a withdrawal and replacement with a new discussion section. That is extreme but justifiable, just about. It begs the question why the original referees did not raise the issue prior to publication.

    The whole affair raises disturbing questions about the power of vaccine manufacturers and how any science even remotely related to their profits can be used to whip up hysteria and lead to witch hunts, ostracism and loss of career.

  48. ‘Saving the planet’ by plugging oil and gas boreholes and coalmine shafts just means sending 7.5 billion human beings back into the cave. It just wont work. There aren’t so many caves available.

  49. This was an entertaining read with many separate threads intertwined. My favorite was that of religion. Paul identifies as a Jew by birth, not by religious practice, who, by Jewish faith, wouldn’t believe in the first lcoming of Christ if he were an Orthodox Jew. However, as the end of the world is predicted to be a on war in the Bible, not environmental disaster, Paul doesn’t want to deny AGW solely on the basis that Christ will return before AGW causes the end of the world. Loads of irony.

    Yet, that view is more solid than the view he has on AGW…
    “What we’ve got is that there’s a report on a report on a report, and so on … that there’s a consensus on there being a consensus on there being a consensus, and so on … about a chain of trust upon which some people, but not others, are prepared to rely … that delivers the verdict that AGW is real.”

    And in his coup de grâce he compares the doomsday scenarios preached by some cmlimate-change advocates to those who preach the end of the world is next Tuesday, every week.
    “I think I do want to deny that it’s [AGW] a fact. The world will come to an end sometime. And in all likelihood the anthropicity of the world sometime before that. But the end of the world has been predicted, much to the embarrassment of countless shamans, since we emerged from the cave, and I think there’s something to be said for a little induction.”

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