Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
At 73, I’m now in what I call my “late youth”. As a confirmed wanderer, I’ve seen a bit of the world, and I’ve read and studied extensively about our life here on this most lovely planet. As a result of my wide experience, I don’t often come across a book full of brand-new ideas and concepts which strongly affect how I look at the world.
So I have to give big props to my gorgeous ex-fiancee who went to the library and came back with Scott Adams’ book, “Win Bigly“. Scott Adams is the cartoonist who draws “Dilbert”, and it turns out he is much more than that.
It’s an astounding instruction manual for how to look at the world in a totally different way. In it, I was surprised to find a discussion of climate science. As with most new looks at the world, he introduces and defines a new vocabulary and uses some existing vocabulary in new ways. So let me start by quoting directly from those of his definitions relevant to this discussion.
I use the word “filter” to describe the way people frame their observations of reality. The key idea behind a filter is that it does not necessarily give its user an accurate view of reality. The human brain is not capable of comprehending truth at a deep level.
The second dimension describes the most common view of reality—the one in which we believe facts and logic are important to our decisions. This view says that humans are reasonable 90 percent of the time, but every now and then we get a bit crazy.
The third dimension is where trained persuaders operate. This worldview says humans are irrational 90 percent of the time. The only exceptions are when decisions have no emotional content.
Cognitive dissonance is a condition of mind in which evidence conflicts with a person’s worldview to such a degree that the person spontaneously generates a hallucination to rationalize the incongruity.
Confirmation bias is the human tendency to irrationally believe new information supports your existing worldview even when it doesn’t.
Now, that’s a most different way to look at the world. With the “2-D filter”, the way most people look at the world, including me up until I read the book, the assumption is that humans are mostly logical in how we make decisions … but Adams says no, most of the time people are irrational.
And you know what? I think that irrational sucker Adams is 100% right.
For example, I was watching an old Star Trek episode today. Here’s the dialog:
• Captain Kirk: “It’s war. We didn’t want it, but we’ve got it.”
• Mr. Spock: “Curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which you do not want.”
My first thought on hearing that was … “Looks like humans need a new filter” …
So without further preface, here are Scott Adams’ thoughts about climate science.
On top of our mass delusions, we also have junk science that is too often masquerading as the real thing. To the extent that people can’t tell the difference, that too is a source of mass delusion.
In the 2-D view of the world, mass delusions are rare and newsworthy But to trained persuaders in the third dimension, mass delusions are the norm. They are everywhere, and they influence every person. This difference in training and experience can explain why people disagree on some of the big issues of the day.
For example, consider the case of global warming. People from the 2-D world assume mass delusions are rare, and they apply that assumption to every topic. So when they notice that most scientists are on the same side, that observation is persuasive to them. A reasonable person wants to be on the same side with the smartest people who understand the topic. That makes sense, right?
But people who live in the 3·D world, where persuasion rules, can often have a different view of climate change because we see mass delusions (even among experts) as normal and routine. My starting bias for this topic is that the scientists could easily be wrong about the horrors of climate change, even in the context of repeated experiments and peer review. Whenever you see a situation with complicated prediction models, you also have lots of room for bias to masquerade as reason. Just tweak the assumptions and you can get any outcome you want.
Now add to that situation the fact that scientists who oppose the climate change consensus have a high degree of career and reputation risk. That’s the perfect setup for a mass delusion. You only need these two conditions:
• Complicated prediction models with lots of assumptions
• Financial and psychological pressure to agree with the consensus
In the 2·0 world, the scientific method and peer review squeeze out the bias over time. But in the 3-D world, the scientific method can’t detect bias when nearly everyone including the peer reviewers shares the same mass delusion.
I’m not a scientist, and I have no way to validate the accuracy of the climate model predictions. But if the majority of experts on this topic turn out to be having a mass hallucination, I would consider that an ordinary situation. In my reality, this would be routine, if not expected, whenever there are complicated prediction models involved. That’s because I see the world as bristling with mass delusions. I don’t see mass delusions as rare.
When nonscientists take sides with climate scientists, they often think they are being supportive of science. The reality is that the nonscientists are not involved in science, or anything like it. They are taking the word of scientists. In the 2-D world, that makes perfect sense, because it seems as if thousands of experts can’t be wrong, But in the 3·D world, I accept that the experts could be right, and perhaps they are, but it would be normal and natural in my experience if the vast majority of climate scientists were experiencing a shared hallucination.
To be clear, l am not saying the majority of scientists are wrong about climate science. I’m making the narrow point that it would be normal and natural for that group of people to be experiencing a mass hallucination that is consistent with their financial and psychological incentives. The scientific method and the peer-review process wouldn’t necessarily catch a mass delusion during any specific window of time. With science, you never know if you are halfway to the truth or already there. Sometimes it looks the same.
Climate science is a polarizing topic (ironically). So let me just generalize the point to say that compared with the average citizen, trained persuaders are less impressed by experts.
To put it another way, if an ordinary idiot doubts a scientific truth, the most likely explanation for that situation is that the idiot is wrong. But if a trained persuader calls BS on a scientific truth, pay attention.
Do you remember when citizen Trump once tweeted that climate change was a hoax for the benefit of China? It sounded crazy to most of the world. Then we learned that the centerpiece of politics around climate change—the Paris climate accord—was hugely expensive for the United States and almost entirely useless for lowering temperatures. (Experts agree on both points now.) The accord was a good deal for China, in the sense that it would impede its biggest business rival, the United States, while costing China nothing for years. You could say Trump was wrong to call climate change a hoax. But in the context ofT rump’s normal hyperbole, it wasn’t as wrong as the public’s mass delusion believed it to be at the time.
I’ll concede that citizen Trump did not understand the science of climate change. That’s true of most of us. But he still detected a fraud from a distance.
It wasn’t luck.
I’ll leave it there … read the book. It will make the world a whole lot more understandable.
Meanwhile, it’s been hot and dry here on our Northern California hillside. A new fire has broken out northeast of us, but it’s not likely to move this way. And no, it’s not from “climate change” …
And sadly, the idiots running Sonoma county are still stuck in COVIDementia. They are requiring masks at the beach, for heaven’s sake … and yes, that does verify Adams’ “3-D filter”, wherein most of the people act irrationally most of the time and mass hallucination and mass hysteria are common, not rare.
So me, I just be chillin’. I go to the beach. I go to town. They’re letting people cut hair now … but only outdoors. I don’t wear a mask unless I’m required to, and never outdoors. And in particular never at the beach. But I’ll have to wear one for my haircut today, county regs.
My best wishes to all, stay well in this “fiery but mostly peaceful” world,
My Usual Request: When you comment please quote the EXACT WORDS that you are discussing. That way we can all be clear on the subject of your comment.