It's not enough to bash in heads, you have to bash in minds

Deniers aren’t skeptical, they are gullible

I’ve written about the difference between skeptics and deniers before, but I think I missed the most obvious reason why deniers are not, and cannot be called skeptics.  Deniers simply aren’t skeptical; in fact they are completely gullible.  This can be seen over and over again as deniers willingly accept ‘theories’ that fall apart under even the most basic of scrutiny.

Be it the silly graphs made by Monckton, the ludicrous claims made by the likes of Marc Morano and Jams Inhofe, or columnists like George Will publishing opinion pieces full of verifiably wrong information, deniers just lap it up.  They even accept the more absurd theories like magic invisible volcanoes in Antarctica, and hand hang off every word uttered by John Coleman, John Theon, or some random astronaut… as long as they are denouncing climate change. They get positively giddy when such nonsense comes from a source that is usually hostile to the deniers, even if they have previously denounced that source as error prone and unreliable. They don’t even require that their arguments be consistent, or able to co-exist, as long as they arrive at the conclusions they desire.

Deniers don’t look at the information skeptically, they automatically accept anything, no matter how absurd, as long as they think it casts doubt on climate change, while ignoring the mountains of evidence that contradicts their point of view.

Deniers aren’t skeptics, they are far to gullible for that.

UPDATE: George Monbiot latest column arrives at the same conclusions as I do. Deniers are too gullible to be called skeptics.

[Deniers] describe themselves as sceptics, but this is plainly wrong, as they will believe any old rubbish that suits their cause. They will argue, for example, that a single weather event in one part of the world is evidence of global cooling; that the earth is warming up because of cosmic rays and that the Antarctic is melting as a result of volcanoes under the ice. No explanation is too bonkers for them, as long as it delivers the goods.

34 Responses to Deniers aren’t skeptical, they are gullible

  1. Dan, as usual, you’re far too polite. Your admonishment of “civil discourse only” precludes me from continuing.


  2. You know, I agree with you. A comment from some random astronaut has absolutely no relevance.

    I’m not convinced though. What would you suggest is the smoking gun? Can you please point me to a particular temperature rise (and any associated data) that you think cannot be explained by anything other than the AGW theory ie. one that was caused by human emissions of CO2.

  3. How can anyone deny or be skeptical about climate change. It is a part of nature. Recent variation in climate has been entirely consistent with past variation, and provides by itself no cause for concern whatsoever. The most plausible indications are that we may be moving into a cooling period after the long slow warming we have enjoyed since the Little Ice Age. The AGW hysteria has been a distraction, and may yet result in even more harm being done by us to the environment and to the well-being of societies at all latitudes.

  4. Astronauts – where do they get these clowns? Talk about the wrong stuff. NASA has really gone down hill since … Apollo 17?

    Wait a minute. I know a little about history. Apollo 17 was the mission that sent a qualified scientist, so Harrison Schmitt is the only PhD geologist who ever walked on the moon. Some random astronaut?

    (from his bio)

    Graduated from Western High School, Silver City, New Mexico; received a bachelor of science degree in science from the California Institute of Technology in 1957; studied at the University of Oslo in Norway during 1957-1958; received doctorate in geology from Harvard University in 1964.
    The Geological Society of America (Honorary Fellow); The American Geophysical Union (Fellow); The American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow); The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Fellow); Sigma XI; American Association of Petroleum Geologists (Fellow); The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (Honorary Member); New Mexico Geological Society (Honorary Member); The American Astronautical Society.
    Fulbright Fellowship in Norway (1957-1958); Kennecott Fellowship in Geology at Harvard University (1958-1959); Harvard Fellowship (1959-1969); Parker Traveling Fellowship at Harvard University (1961-1962); National Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Geological Sciences, Harvard University, (1963-1964); Johnson Space Center Superior Achievement Award (1970); NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1973); Fairchild Fellow, Caltech (1973-1974); California Institute of Technology, Distinguished Graduate (1973); Honorary Fellow of the Geological Society of America (1973); Arthur S. Fleming Award (1973); Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from Colorado School of Mines (1973); Republic of Senegal’s National Order of the Lion (1973); Honorary Life Membership of New Mexico Geological Society (1973); Honorary Member of Norwegian Geographical Society (1973); Honorary Fellow American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (1973); Honorary Fellow of The Geological Society, London (1974); Honorary Doctorate Degree from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute (1975); Honorary Doctorate Degree from Franklin and Marshall College (1977); International Space Hall of Fame (1977); Fellow American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (1977); Engineer of the Year Award, National Society of Professional Engineers, Legislative Recognition Award (1981); National Security Award, highest Civil Defense Award (1981); Honorary Doctorate of Astronautical Science from Salem College (1982); NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal (1982); Lovelace Award, Society of NASA Flight Surgeons (1989); G. K. Gilbert Award, Planetary Geology Division, Geological Society of America (1989); Award for Excellence, Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation (1990).

    EXPERIENCE: Schmitt was a teaching fellow at Harvard in 1961 where he assisted in teaching a course in ore deposits. Prior to his teaching assignment, he did geological work for the Norwegian Geological Survey on the west coast of Norway, and for the U.S. Geological Survey in New Mexico and Montana. He also worked for two summers as a geologist in southeastern Alaska.

    Before joining NASA, he was with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Center at Flagstaff, Arizona. He was project chief for lunar field geological methods and participated in photo and telescopic mapping of the Moon, and was among USGS astrogeologists instructing NASA astronauts during their geological field trips.

    He has logged more than 2,100 hours flying time — 1,600 hours in jet aircraft.

    Dr. Schmitt was selected as a scientist-astronaut by NASA in June 1965. He later completed a 53-week course in flight training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. In addition to training for future manned space flights. He was instrumental in providing Apollo flight crews with detailed instruction in lunar navigation, geology, and feature recognition. Schmitt also assisted in the integration of scientific activities into the Apollo lunar missions and participated in research activities requiring geologic, petrographic, and stratigraphic analyses of samples returned from the moon by Apollo missions.

    He was backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 15.

    On his first journey into space, Dr. Schmitt occupied the lunar module pilot seat for Apollo 17 — the last scheduled manned Apollo mission to the United States –which commenced at 11:33 p.m. (CST), December 6, 1972, and concluded on December 19, 1972. He was accompanied on the voyage of the command module “America” and the lunar module “Challenger” by Eugene Cernan (spacecraft commander) and Ronald Evans (command module pilot). In maneuvering “Challenger” to a landing at Taurus-Littrow, which is located on the southeast edge of Mare Serenitatis, Schmitt and Cernan activated a base of operations facilitating their completion of three days of exploration. This last Apollo mission to the moon for the United States broke several records set by previous flights and include: longest manned lunar landing flight (301 hours, 51 minutes); longest lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours, 4 minutes); largest lunar sample return (an estimated 115 Kg, 249 lbs); and longest time in lunar orbit (147 hours, 48 minutes). Apollo 17 ended with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean approximately 0.4 mile from the target point and 4.3 miles from the prime recovery ship, USS TICONDEROGA.

    Dr. Schmitt logged 301 hours and 51 minutes in space — of which 22 hours and 4 minutes were spent in extravehicular activity on the lunar surface.

    In July of 1973 Dr. Schmitt was appointed as one of the first Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholars at the California Institute of Technology. His appointment was extended to run through July 1975. This appointment ran concurrently with his other activities in NASA.

    In February 1974, Schmitt assumed additional duties as Chief of Scientist-Astronauts.

    Dr. Schmitt was appointed NASA Assistant Administrator for Energy Programs in May 1974. This office has the responsibility for coordinating NASA support to other Federal Agencies conducting energy research and development and for managing NASA programs applying aeronautics and space technology to the generation, transmission, storage, conservation, utilization and management of energy for terrestrial applications.

    In August of 1975, Dr. Schmitt resigned his post with NASA to run for the United States Senate in his home state of New Mexico. He was elected on November 2, 1976, with 57% of the votes cast.

    In January 1977, Schmitt began a six-year term as one of New Mexico’s Senators in Washington, D.C. His major committee assignments were on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and the Select Committee on Ethics. He was the ranking Republican member of the Ethics Committee; of the Science, Technology and Space Subcommittee of Commerce, and the Consumer Sub-committee of Banking.

    Since 1982, Schmitt has worked as a consultant, corporate director, and free lance writer and speaker on matters related to space, science, technology, and public policy. In 1994, he was appointed as an Adjunct Professor of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin and Chairman and President of the Annapolis Center for Environmental Quality. DECEMBER 1994 This is the only version available from NASA. Updates must be sought direct from the above named individual.

  5. @ Paul

    It isn’t as simple as you imply, but if you truly wish to understand why CO2 has been attributed as the main cause of the warming trend please read this.

    @ Frank Smith

    Ah the old global cooling myth. Funny how you accept it without much thought, yet are happy to ignore what every single relevant scientific society says about the issue, or the thousands of peer-reviewed papers that contradict you. One thing is clear you are not a skeptic… though the word gullible, however does comes to mind.

    Thanks for making my point abundantly clear

    @ Bob B

    And exactly what does such a short time series say about climate change? Is that enough time for the climate change signal to emerge from the weather noise? (hint?: no it isn’t you would ideally want around 30 years for that). And why did you pick the UAH data while ignoring all other data sources? You are hardly presenting an honest and complete look at the data, and you are showing ignorance of basic statistics in claiming that such a short time series is enough to extrapolate any sort of climate trend. It isn’t. And to top it all off some recent preliminary models with decadal temporal resolutions show the current levelling off of temperatures, though they also show a much greater temperature increase in the coming decade. And just for fun here is a paper in Science making the same point.

    @ Jim

    Thanks for your long irrelevant comment. Yes Harrison Schmitt has a PhD, but does that matter? A look at the bio you provided shows a distinct lack of education and experience in regards to climate. A search on google scholar finds no climate related publication under his name. In other words he is no expert on the issue. So why should I listen to him, when the overwhelming majority of experts say the opposite?

    Again the word gullible comes to mind.

  6. gullible

    adj. Easily deceived or duped.

    Scruffy you can listen to whoever you want. My post was a rebuttal to the characterization of the Honorable Dr. Harrison Schmitt as some random astronaut.
    He is most certainly not some random astronaut.
    The thing I find interesting is that you avoided using his name, and linked to a desmog insinuation that Schmitt is on the take from Exxon.
    Exxon will be a winner if global warmers succeed it closing down coal fired powerplants, so what would be their motivation to payoff someone like Dr. Schmitt, who if he were actually in the preposterous situation as described by desmog would be just as likely to sell out Exxon, and take the path of least resistance to John Kerry ketchup and Soros Moveon money?

    I can’t think of one.

    Only one conclusion can be drawn – You were seeking to deceive your readers.

  7. Deniers AGW alarmists don’t look at the information skeptically rationally, they automatically accept anything, no matter how absurd, as long as they think it casts doubt reinforces climate change, while ignoring the mountains of evidence that contradicts their point of view.

    Fixed it for you.

  8. @ Jim

    The characterization of Harrison Schmitt as a ‘random astronaut’, was an indication that there is absolutely no reason why I should listen to him on issues regarding climate.

    Exxon will be a winner if global warmers succeed

    And yet they have a long well documented history of funding groups whose sole purpose is to obscuring the science.

    Just answer me this: why should I listen to Harrison Schmitt over those who actually study climate?

    @ db

    I’m still waiting for that mountain of evidence that contradicts climate change, and withstands scientific scrutiny.

    There is a reason why the IPCC the National Academies of Science from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA, the American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geological Society of London, the Geological Society of America, the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, thousands of peer-reviewed journals, and even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, all agree with the scientific consensus.

    In fact no scientific body of national or international standing is known to reject the basic findings of the human influence on the recent climate.

    Not to mention that the overwhelming majority of scientists also agree with this position.

    But I guess it is easier to simply dismiss all of that and label all of those listed above as irrational alarmists. It is easier to claim that it is all a bunch of bad science, and those without the relevant expertise know more than those with it. Or is it a giant conspiracy. Are the thousands of scientists perpetrating a massive fraud trying to pull the wool over our eyes in order to institute a world government? Or is it socialism? Maybe Nazism?

    The loony rants from deniers, the misrepresentation and outright lies of the peer-reviewed literature, do not amount to anything, and are definitely not worth listening to.

  9. Still it’s far more than you have provided: “But Harrison Schmitt has a PhD!!!

    Yes a PhD, in an unrelated field and with no experience in climatology. And you still haven’t answer my question: why should I listen to Harrison Schmitt over those who actually study climate?

    And as for you claim that the scientists are unnamed? Are you serious? You can’t be serious… Are you? really?

    Perhaps you are referring to the survey I keep linking to? Yes they are unnamed, the respondents names are kept confidential to avoid biasing their answers. After all deniers love to (falsely) claim that anyone who doesn’t tow the line on climate gets reprimanded, so I would figure someone like you would demand that the names be kept confidential.

    But the consensus doesn’t hinge on this one survey (it existed well before this survey was conducted). If you want names why not look at the IPCC authors, or the hundreds of papers they cite. Or you could actually spend some time in the peer-reviewed literature, and quickly come up with countless names.

    Or you could look at how the various scientific societies I listed above arrived at their position statements. You would get plenty of names doing that.

    Or you could look at the institutes collecting and providing temperature data. NASA GISS, NOAA, The Hadley Centre, etc. Plenty of names there.

    Or you could just look here.

    Needless to say your claim that the consensus is comprised of unnamed scientists is absurd.

  10. There are lots of astronauts – I know hardly any of their names. So Mr S is just a random one to me and to I guess most people. And his qualifications and achievments are certainly impressive but there are lots of people on both sides who have similarly accomplished backgrounds, so playing “my dad can fight your dad” is pointless. It seems to me that it is better to stick to the science and the data.

    Dan – firstly, you’re right if you’re guessing that I was looking for something simpler than an 84 page document. I’m not really convinced when told that the case can’t be stated simply. I work on a very complex machine involving teams of people from different fields, and no matter what the problem is, we have to be able to summarize it for different levels of expertise so as to be able to communicate with the other teams and the management.

    If someone told me it must take 84 pages to explain their case/problem, then I would suggest that they didn’t really understand it.

    The climate is orders of magnitude more complex than our machine, but the principle applies. I would ask you, can you at least tell me the specific time-span of temperatures that you consider to be the main evidence for AGW and how much of this rise you attribute to human CO2.

  11. @ Paul

    I don’t know what your level of expertise with the natural sciences is (your comment about working on a complex machine suggest you are an engineer/mechanic or something along those lines), but I can assure you that there are many subjects in the natural sciences that cannot be accurately simplified into concise explanations without omitting crucial details. One might be able to get a gist of what the issue is, and the evidence that supports it from such a oversimplified account, but proper analysis and discussion is not really possible from such a simple point of view. The climate is a very complex system, and thus any full explanations on how forcings are attributed is going to be complex.

    If you want a basic summary you could just read the executive summary. It would give you an idea of what comes in the rest of the report, but is certainly lacking in detail. Alternatively Cobey Beck over at A Few Things Ill Considered has done a good layperson’s summary of the evidence pointing to CO2 as the culprit behind the warming trend. It is definitely worth a read.

    But to answer your specific question, this video provides a good basic answer (and as a bonus includes Sir David Attenborough!):

    And this illustration from global warming art based on Meehl et al. (2004) provides a good breakdown of the effects of the different forcings:

    But I must stress that both these answers are far to basic to allow much discussion of the merits or validity of the scientific argument, but they should give you the gist.

  12. Ozone as a climate forcing is a new one on me. I thought ozone was a reflective substance that kept us safe from the Sun’s harmful UV rays, all of which takes place well above the tropopause, thus removed from the social construct we call climate.

    Let me give a quote from the site,

    Thus a statement like the one above, and the headline that came from it are interpreted to mean that the estimates of sensitivity or of future warming are now in question. Yet this is completely misleading since neither climate sensitivity nor CO2 driven future warming will be at all affected by any revisions in ozone chemistry – mainly for the reason that most climate models don’t consider ozone chemistry at all. Precisely zero of the IPCC AR4 model simulations (discussed here for instance) used an interactive ozone module in doing the projections into the future.

    Interesting that your “global warming art” includes a forcing that is completely disregarded by the IPCC and RealClimate. Would this qualify as another attempt by the author of this blog to deceive the reader? I’ll let the public decide.
    By the way, the “ozone hole” has morphed into a band of ozone depletion which roughly girdles the equator.
    Link to pretty picture of global ozone distribution.
    That picture stamps void on the concept of cfc controlled ozone hole. As you can see with your own eyes ozone is a fuction of solar activity or the lack there of.
    Satellites are the bane of ecotheists.

    There is something else that bothers me about your global warming art. Let me see if I can put my finger on it.
    Oh yes. Where is the calculation for the number one greenhouse gas?
    No water vapor in your hypothetical, or is that included under the misleadingly titled “greenhouse gases”?
    Where are the clouds? Those big white fluffy things that provide shade from the burning sun? (Link to global projection of current cloud cover.) Why are they not included on the deficit side of your ledger?

    Everywhere I scratch, I find the attempt to deceive on this blog. Could that be just dumb luck?

  13. @ Jim

    Nice to see you completely ignore the question I posed to you and move right along to your next point, which coincidentally proves my point that deniers aren’t skeptics, their simply too gullible. So I suppose a thank you is in order.

    I should also point out that the climate forcings figure from global warming art, is not my figure as you imply, but rather a figure created (by others) from the data derived from Meehl et al. (2004). I only posted it because it directly answers the question Paul asked me.

    As for the meat of your post:

    There was a very good reason why I made it explicitly clear in my comments that the picture I showed was a very basic representation, that was so simplified that it wouldn’t allow allow much discussion of the merits or validity of the science involved. But you went ahead and ignored it anyways.

    Really the least you could do is read the paper from which the forcings figure is based on (you might actually learn a thing or two), but apparently that was to much to ask.

    As for the ozone (specifically tropospheric ozone, not the stratospheric stuff that protects us from UV rays), the post at real climate you linked to ends with this gem:

    Climate models today are extremely flexible and configurable tools that can include all these Earth System modules (including those mentioned above, but also full carbon cycles and dynamic vegetation), but depending on the application, often don’t need to. Thus while in theory, a revision in ozone chemistry, or soil respiration or aerosol properties might impact the full ESM, it won’t affect the more basic stuff (like the sensitivity to CO2).

    In other words in order to determine climate sensitivity to GHGs we simply don’t need to take ozone into account (perhaps why the IPCC did not include it). This is evident from the forcings figure (which includes both tropospheric and stratospheric ozone) as the estimated ozone forcing is quite small (especially when compared with the GHG forcing). Though if you REALLY want to split hairs the IPCC by omitting the ozone forcing (which is positive) has underestimated the rate of climate change.

    And then there is water, and the reason why it isn’t included in the figure? This question really shows how little you know about this subject. But because I am such a nice guy I’ll tell you why climate models don’t consider water a forcing:

    It is true that climate models don’t consider water vapour as a forcing, but there is a very good reason for this: they consider it a feedback. “Simply put, any artificial perturbation in water vapour concentrations is too short lived to change the climate. Too much in the air will quickly rain out, not enough and the abundant ocean surface will provide the difference via evaporation. But once the air is warmed by other means, H2O concentrations will rise and stay high, thus providing the feedback.” In other words water vapour is not considered a climate forcing, because the amount of H2O in the air varies as a function of temperature. Claims that scientists ignore water vapour are simple false.

    The same goes for clouds (though they are more difficult to model), which like water vapor are considered feedbacks, not forcings.

    That you didn’t know that indicates a large deficit of knowledge on this subject. That you automatically assume that they are being ignored shows an inability to recognize the limits of your knowledge and an unwillingness to look at this issue honestly. You have already made up your mind so you grasp at straws looking for anything (no matter how flimsy) that might support you.

    But to top it all off you also want challenge the whole notion that CFCs deplete the ozone layer? Actually that’s standard denier stuff. The real question is what widely accepted scientific theory you are going to debunk next. Will it be evolution? Or perhaps relativity? Or will you go for the gusto and disprove the second law (my personal favorite) of thermodynamics?

  14. Dan

    Your comment that “many subjects in the natural sciences that cannot be accurately simplified into concise explanations without omitting crucial details” would have been stronger had you actually named any of these subjects. I guess your point is arguable at least – but i don’t think it is nearly as common as you seem to think it is. Quantum mechanics for example is extremely complex and, to boot, non-intuitive – but carefully explaining the double-slit experiment can capture the essentials as a first step.

    I was asking for your climate version of the double-slit experiment. It appears you don’t have one.

    You wouldn’t even name the dates at the start and end of the period of the temperature record which supports your case, which was my second offer as a compromise.

    These are not the actions of someone who is sure of his case – you seem to just want to just TELL me it’s true, I would like to debate and see if it is true, see if I can arrive at the same conclusion.

    But ok then, forget it. I tried twice but it seems you just don’t want to debate this.

    PS. You can’t be seriously pointing me there. That you tube link is aimed at 10 years olds. I have a phd in multivariate stats/machine learning, thank you.

    And Coby Beck’s site? I had it out with Coby and lots of others on there many times and had to leave and seek pastures new as the arguments were an absolute embarrassment.

    And remember this quote from Tolstoy:

    “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”

  15. You don’t sleep much do you scruffy.

    But to top it all off you also want challenge the whole notion that CFCs deplete the ozone layer?

    That picture does more then challenge it, it demolishes it. But I can’t take the credit for driving the stake in the heart of ozone depletion, I stand on the shoulders of giants.
    A German named Markus Rex did the work.

  16. Want to see something neat? Here are pictures of the “ozone holes” plural, of every other planet in the solar system which has had it’s polar region imaged.
    Venus (both poles)
    Mars (This one is hard to see because the atmosphere is so tenuous. The only reason it’s visible at all is due to a world wide dust storm. Look closely.)
    Jupiter (that one is easy to see)
    Saturn (this one even has depth. Reminds me of a taffy pulling machine.)
    < Uranus (On this planet the hole was the only visible feature.)

    To be sure the chemistry is different on each of these worlds, but the mechanism is universal and independent of chemical composition.

  17. Scruffy Dan: In your February 26, 2009 @ 5:24 pm comment, you wrote, “And this illustration from global warming art based on Meehl et al. (2004) provides a good breakdown of the effects of the different forcings…”
    I’d throw that reference away if I was you.

    In the abstract of Meehl et al states, “The late-twentieth-century warming can only be reproduced in the model with anthropogenic forcing (mainly GHGs), while the early twentieth-century warming is mainly caused by natural forcing in the model (mainly solar).”

    That sounds convincing!

    BUT the solar study referenced by Meehl et al is Hoyt and Schatten 1993, (yes, that’s right, 1993). Refer to Table 1 and to the discussion on page 3723 of Meehl et al to confirm the source of solar data.

    The following link is a comparative graph created by Leif Svalgaard of several TSI reconstructions and composites. Note that the current understanding of TSI variability is represented by the Svalgaard (red) curve and that Hoyt is represented by the light gray one. Hmmm. That would mean that the Meehl et al study had to use a solar forcing that is extremely unrealistic in order to reproduce the warming in the early part of the 20th century. In reality, the Hoyt and Schatten TSI data is contrived. It was created solely with the intent of accounting for the rise in global temperature during the first half of the 20th Century. It’s very similar to the contrived anthropogenic datasets that were created to explain the warming in the latter part of the 20th Century. In other words, if the forcings they employed are so erroneous in the early years, there’s no reason to believe the anthropogenic forcings in recent years are realistic.

    I discussed this further here:
    And here:

    Have a nice day.

  18. @ Paul

    The example of quantum physics you provide isn’t quite appropriate. When I said Natural sciences I was referring to what is frequently referred to as dirty sciences. Physics can be simplified far more that the dirty sciences, where manipulations of single variables, are all but impossible. In these instances providing evidence for a phenomenon quickly becomes very difficult and complex. As an example (which I am intermediately familiar with) take a look a ecological trap theory. It is simple enough to explain to someone what it is (organisms that prefer poor-quality habitat over available high-quality habitat), and the mechanism responsible (habitat desirability is not always equal to habitat quality). It is also likely (at least theoretically) that such traps exist, but providing evidence of them is incredibly difficult, and complex (just like climate change). Maladaptive habitat selection, may be the result of unmeasured fitness trade offs, or could be the result of an undervalued resource. Or it could just be natural evolutionary lag, or many other factors. Given that perfect data is unattainable (much like climate science) the ‘proof’ quickly becomes very complex, even for this rather basic issue. Trying to prove climate change (which is far more complex) and it is perfectly understandable why proper examinations end up with as much complexity as the IPCC chapter recommended you read.

    The fact that an issue cannot be simplified as much as you would like, doesn’t in any way weaken the scientific rational behind it.

    I find it curious that when I pointed you to a strong summary of several attribution studies, and you say its too complex. And then when I direct you to more laypersons explanations (3 of them), and you complain that they aren’t complex enough.

    The David Attenborough video have you the absolute basics, the forcings figure expanded on that, showing in greater detail the effects of the individual forcings on temperature. That should be roughly equal to a basic explanation of the double slit experiment (well as close as one can hope to get). The Cobey Beck article is a bit more in depth, but still rather basic.

    I find it curious that you would just out right ignore them.

    I have given you plenty of information that makes the case for AGW, that you chose to complain that some of it is too simple for your tastes, while some of it is too complex isn’t my concern, nor does it weaken the scientific case for AGW.

    Paul: You wouldn’t even name the dates at the start and end of the period of the temperature record which supports your case

    Did you bother to look at the forcings figure? It clearly shows that from roughly the 60s GHGs have become the dominant, and ever increasing, forcing responsible for the increase in temperatures. It is a direct answer to the question you posed.

    Paul: I would like to debate and see if it is true, see if I can arrive at the same conclusion.

    If you want to see if you can arrive at the same conclusions that those studying the climate, what are you doing here? Go read the IPCC, delve into the scientific literature. But you don’t seem to want to do that.

    If you aren’t willing to accept the conclusions from the experts in the field, and if you wish to see if you can arrive similar conclusions, you need more than simple explanations designed for laypeople, you need to understand the actual science and ALL associated complexities.

    In other words: the evidence for climate change that is available to the casual person of interest, including most students, is simplified to the point of being misleading, false, or useless. In other words, the popular argument for climate change is bullshit, independent of the underlying reality of climate change or the evidence available to experts in the field. Get out there and learn the real science. Given your level of education I highly doubt that it is beyond your ability to understand it, you just need to apply the time it takes to learn it.

    If you truly mean what you say, that is what you will do. If you have other motivations, however, you will continue to prattle around here and other similar sites.

  19. @ Jim.

    Aw shucks. I was rather hoping you would try to challenge the second law of thermodynamics. Oh well no such luck.

    I do not wish to further discuss the CFC, ozone issue here (it is WAY off topic anyways). The only thing I will state is that “One sparrow does not a spring make.

    @ Bob Tisdale

    Thanks for that. As I said when I posted the global warming art figure, it is far to basic to allow much discussion of the merits or validity of the scientific argument, but they should give you the gist.

    I certainly am not under the impression that Meehl et al. (2004) is only attribution study linking GHG emissions to the current warming trend, and as I said any real discussion would have to move beyond it, and ideally included several sources. That is why I posted the link to the relevant IPCC chapter, which includes several references.

    The only thing I will add is that obviously the sun can influence the climate, and several studies (sorry I don’t have the references handy) have shown that in the past the sun was a dominant climate forcing, though currently our GHG emissions forcing is overwhelming the solar forcing (which may actually be negative now).

    One last thing, are you aware of any peer-reviewed studies that cast doubt on the Meehl et al. (2004) study? As much as I would love to trust a random fellow blogger, I am fully aware that I could fail to spot any issues within your analysis and could be potentially mislead (if that is you intention, which I am not suggesting) by convincing arguments that wouldn’t withstand scrutiny by a real expert.

  20. Adue scruffy.

    If you get a chance to dismantle Markus Rex, dealing with cfc in a new post, I’ll stop in to see if it smells like springtime.

  21. Ok, whatever, we’re drifting from the point here. I was just trying to get YOU to state YOUR reasons for believing in the “human CO2 is causing damaging climate change” theory, to get an actual debate going and use your words to point out how, you know, there’s, like, no evidence for AGW. We can point each other to links all day, but that’s not fun.

    My phrasing wasn’t the best. My real problem with your links is that they are WRONG, not that they are too simple. But I’ll concede that one.

    However, I find something distinctly “curious” also. On the one hand, this subject is just way too complex to simplify in the way that I asked. In your own words

    “Given that perfect data is unattainable (much like climate science) the ‘proof’ quickly becomes very complex, even for this rather basic issue”.

    This seems reasonable to me.

    However, the title of this post is “Deniers aren’t skeptical, they are gullible”. So, someone is can’t be “gullible” for not fully understanding it, as it is so complex and prohibitively time consuming to digest everything – this the domain of specialists only. Is this right?

    So, they must be “gullible” for not just taking the IPCCs word for it. So, in short, your argument appears to be nothing more than the consensus argument in fancy clothes -”The people at the IPCC say it is true, and they’re from lots of different countries, so it must be true. PS. And those who don’t believe them are gullible”.

    Well, what can I say. I and lots of others don’t think this is a reasonable or even a self-consistent position. I think I know which of us is being “gullible”.

    PS. did I mention that quote from Tolstoy?

  22. If I may prattle once more, there is one other slight problem with your “its too complex to simplify, the popular arguments are wrong, you just have to trust the specialists” arguments also.

    Such situations have arisen before, and the traditional way someone goes from “lunatic with a stupid idea” to “man who actually does better understand the complexities of what is happening” is to make predictions, whether on controlled tests or natural occurrences.

    The only thing more ridiculous than the predictions made by Hansen and the rest are the absolutely laughable post facto rationalisations that are presented to explain their extreme level in inaccuracy.

    If you are going to tell me that the recent hiatus of GW was predicted, I’m all ears for a reference. But please don’t say it wasn’t predicted but it doesn’t matter as the long term “trend” (see how I’m learning the buzzwords) is upwards ie. I have a theory, but it will take 50 years to falsify it. PLEASE either don’t bother or say something else, but PLEASE PLEASE don’t say that.

    PS. the catch-all “go and read the IPCC report” argument seems unnervingly similar to something I once saw on tv

    “When Seymour Skinner calls Lovejoy for advice, he recommends that Skinner read his bible, when Skinner asks if there are any passages in particular that may be helpful, Lovejoy replies, “Oh, they’re all good.” “

  23. I was just trying to get YOU to state YOUR reasons for believing in the “human CO2 is causing damaging climate change”

    I am actually working on a post to answer this question, but the gist of it is that I accept mainstream scientific opinion.

    use your words to point out how, you know, there’s, like, no evidence for AGW.

    My words will show that there is no evidence for AGW? Really? I don’t think so. Regardless of what I say, my words have no bearing on the scientific debate evidence for AGW.

    As for the links I provide, if you were interested in a debate you might do more than just state they are wrong. You might actually want to explain why they are wrong, ideally providing evidence in the form of peer-reviewed research to back you up. But I am becoming convinced that you don’t actually want to debate anything, least of which the science behind climate change.

    As to why I called deniers gullible. It isn’t because they simply fail to automatically accept the IPCC, rather because deniers seem to accept anything, no matter how absurd , no matter if it is inconsistent with their previous claims:

    • Watching right wing deniers claim that Pravda was a reliable source was absurd.
    • Deniers claiming that someone who may have kind of, but not really been Hansen’s supervisor in the early 90s is an authority on whether Hansen was muzzled a decade later under the Bush administration was absurd.
    • Claiming that the recent discovery of antarctic warming can be explained by an invisible magic volcano is absurd.
    • touting the results of preliminary models (while ignoring the output of the same models when it is inconvenient) when decrying for years that models (even mature robust ones, that correctly hind cast a century of climate) cannot be trusted was absurd.

    And then there is George Will, who finds it appropriate to get his data on sea ice from a gadget blog with a very bad record on covering climate issues.

    I think you get the picture, and there are many more examples. And it is worth mentioning that most of these claims com from top denier websites, not just some random crazy blogger.

    If you are going to tell me that the recent hiatus of GW was predicted

    What happened to your phd in multivariate stats? Because given you level of education surly you are aware that given noisy data (like temperature data) over short periods of time the noise can overwhelm the signal.

    Also given that you claim to be knowledgeable on this subject I find it hard to understand why you don’t know that the current batch of models CANNOT predict climate on a decadal scale. So really the models haven’t said ANYTHING about the current plateau of temperatures.

    IF you want to get decadal climate predictions you need to look at some the the newest preliminary models available. And guess what they do show the weather noise temporarily overwhelming the climate signal.

    I have a theory, but it will take 50 years to falsify it. PLEASE either don’t bother or say something else, but PLEASE PLEASE don’t say that.

    Wow this really calls into question the claim that you have a phd in multivariate stats. This is really basic stuff here. When you have noisy data one needs to take a trend over a long enough period of time to ‘cancel out’ the noise. There are statistical tests that help one determine what an appropriate length of time is. There is a reason why the IPCC uses 20 years, and why even that has been criticized as being to short with many suggesting that 30 years is a better measure.

    Given what you have just said, I have some very serious doubts about your desire for an debate on the science behind AGW (it seems you wish to use my incomplete understanding of the science to show that the science in bunk) is honest, and either your claims of a phd in multivariate stats, or your intellectual honesty are in question.

  24. Are you seriously saying that asking someone who wishes to debate the science behind AGW to read a recent through summary of the scientific literature is the same as telling someone to read the bible?

    Wow. Your credibility is in serious jeopardy.

  25. Ha, sense of humour failure or what. Lighten up.

    Ok, then what of the category of skeptics who do not accept anything, but are persuaded by very reasoned and balanced writings like



    Should they still be referred to as “gullible”? Is there any category of skeptic that you don’t regard as a bumbling, gullible fool?

    I for one find these far more persuasive than anything I’ve read from an AGW proponent. The debate at NYC (it’s on you tube also) is especially ridiculous – the arguments from Brenda Ekwurzel and Richard Somerville are simply rambling and embarrassing. The main man himself Mr Schmidt is cleverer than them so can keep is head above water, but is still nowhere near as convincing as the others. I’m not the only one to think this – the audience thought so too.

    In the absence of the ability of the most people to study every word of the literature like you seem to want them to, observing experts in action like this is the next best thing. And the conclusion was clear.

    I’ve heard all the convoluted tales before about the noise overwhelming the signal. Of course this is what COULD be going on, but this is only assertion on your part and is ASSUMING THE ANSWER. You must cast that aside and test whether or not it is in fact going on. And the big problem you have is that the rise for the 25 years before which was touted so often as evidence for AGW is on a similar scale to what you now call noise, except with the opposite sign.

    Someone asked Mr Schmidt (on real climate) what the source of the anomaly of the last decade was (ie. the actual temp versus ipcc projections). He said

    Response: This is nonsense. The idea that ENSO is the only kind of intrinsic variability is silly. Look out of your window – and see planetary waves (of various wavenumber), the Madden-Julien oscillations, the NAO, the PDO, the PNA, the SAM, COWL, baroclinic instability, African waves, Antarctic dipoles etc etc. There is no shortage of variability in short term records. What would meteorologists have to talk about otherwise? – gavin

    So he states that there is piles of variability in the short term records ie. the noise of which you speak. He has named 11 possible sources of some or all of the missing 0.187 degrees (from the ipcc projected rise). He has no idea exactly which of these were responsible though (or he would have said).
    This statement is just jump-out-of-the-page ludicrous to me – it would make more sense as a response from a climate change skeptic. Who is to say some other unnamed combination of this laundry list of effects was not responsible for the 1975-1998 rise? This rise is only between 0.2 and 0.3 degrees. Let’s put aside the many, many suggestions that this rise could be at least a little misleading eg. satellite data, massive station drop out c. 1990, poorly positioned sensors etc.
    Say it is true. We already established that noise of 0.18 degrees in a decade is perfectly normal and not worthy of an explanation. So why is the 0.3 degrees in two and a bit decades evidence for anything? Especially when 2-3 decades of cooling came before it! Who is to say one or two of the poorly understood short term effects Mr Schmidt cites did not contribute significantly to the 1975-98 rise? I’m not saying this DEFINITELY happened, as there are some differences of course – but they are on the same scale, in the same ball park. Why is one clear cut evidence of a major climate catastrophe and the other simply noise? Why are all rises just obviously due to CO2, all falls just obviously noise?
    Or, do you not think that the 1975-1998 rise is important? Is what you said earlier about all the popular arguments for AGW being wrong the answer to this? I can buy that to an extent. But, in that case, you might have pointed this out to Brenda and Richard before they made holy shows of themselves in that debate.

  26. Reasoned writings ha. Give me a break.

    Lindzen writing for CATO. His conspiracy theories are in regards to climate change are well known.

    Some rant (which repeats some fully debunked talking points) from William Happer, who may have a science background, but according to his own bio at Princeton has NO experience with climate. He isn’t better than our random astronaut friend. [UPDATE: And just in case anyone had any lingering doubts about Happer, his argument seems to be that because 80 million years ago when CO2 levels were higher the planet was productive, increasing CO2 levels today shouldn't be an issue.

    Of course there are several things wrong with this, the main one being that 80 million years ago the sea level was substantially higher covering some major populated areas as seen by the dark blue areas in the image above.]

    And your coup de grace of an example of reasoned writing is the perpetually dihonest Mark Morano. That is about the worst example you could have picked.

    I for one find these far more persuasive than anything I’ve read from an AGW proponent

    That doesn’t surprise me. You refuse to read the real science.

    But you are right I wouldn’t call this band of deniers gullible, I would say they are the dishonest variety of denier, though given some of the tripe Morano has sent me he may be both dishonest and gullible.

    As for the ‘debate’. Who cares. Science isn’t settled by debates like that. Real scientists debate with research. This becomes abundantly clear when deniers start using denialism tactics.

    We already established that noise of 0.18 degrees in a decade is perfectly normal and not worthy of an explanation. So why is the 0.3 degrees in two and a bit decades evidence for anything?

    The answer is complex and not easily simplified so that a layperson can understand it. But if you insist on the one line answer it would be attribution studies. In fact the first two IPCC reports were completed before comprehensive attributions studies were completed, and thus while anthropogenic causes were seen as more likely explanation for the warming trend (due to several less concrete lines of evidence) they clearly state that the observed warming could be explained by natural variability.

    If you truly wanted to know what the attribution studies say, and why there results have such a high degree of confidence, you would have read the IPCC chapter dealing with attribution. That is where your answer lies.

    Is what you said earlier about all the popular arguments for AGW being wrong the answer to this? I can buy that to an extent.

    Yes that is basically what is going on here. As for what Brenda and Richard said during the debate it doesn’t matter (as far as the science is concerned). Such a debate is as much a test for their debating skills as anything else. The fact that they apparently don’t do so well under such pressure means nothing.

    As I said before if you truly want the answers to your question you need to read the IPCC report, and possibly more.

  27. Forget Mark Morano, I was talking only about the debate at NYC and actually mixed the link with the link to the transcript for the debate, but I thought it was obvious I was referring to that and not the post itself. You’re falling over yourself to discredit a person I didn’t even mention rather than the point I made.

    I admit I’ve only read small sections of the IPCC report, but to discount everything I say because I haven’t digested everything in it makes no logical sense really, not least because there are others who have read or even were involved with the report who disagree vehemently with the Summary for Policy Makers.

    Describing Happer’s text as a rant is not something I would agree with. And I know you all have your problems with Richard L, but he certainly looked more impressive in that debate than the others. You say “Such a debate is as much a test for their debating skills as anything else. The fact that they apparently don’t do so well under such pressure means nothing.”

    You think the debate performance doesn’t matter? I think it is possible that it might not matter but in this case disagree. Like I said, reading the IPCC report from cover to cover is simply not an option for me and almost everyone else. Do you calculate the stresses and strains on the fuselage of an aircraft and check the code that did the air flow modelling for the wings, and the 10,000 other calculations, to make sure it’s safe before you board it? No, of course not. People use meta-reasoning about complex activities all the time – no’one would say flying is safe because they have done these calculations, even though these are the basis of the safety – they would cite aircraft statistics and the like.

    Observing debates like this is another form of meta-reasoning. I’m yet to be convinced of your argument that it is too complex for me to understand (and, incidentally, I’m not sure why you keep telling me I haven’t or won’t read “the science”. You have no idea what I have or haven’t or won’t read). This argument could be true – but it requires you to surprise me in some way, to PREDICT SOMETHING. The temperature predictions and the post-facto rationalisations of AGW proponents are so lame that I simply don’t buy the “it’s too complex for you to understand” argument. The poor predictions suggest that while this is true, it is also too complicated for THEM to understand also.

  28. You speak of meta-reasoning, while discounting the position statements of all the relevant scientific societies, 97% of climatologists, and 90% of general scientists (acording to a recent survey published in EOS). Instead deciding to focus on a simple debate.

    You ask how it is that the recent warming trend can be attributed to anthropogenic causes, yet you wont read the relevant science, while complaining about the simplified explanations.

    Your creating plenty of rather obvious double standards, and are continually moving the goal posts. Both of which are hurting your credibility.

  29. Ok, I get it. Your very sophisticated and nuanced argument is clear – the “the IPCC report says it is true, so it must be”. No only do I disagree with this argument but, much worse, it is boring.

    So I must dash, as I don’t think my “credibility” can take any more thrashings, especially not in light of your psychic ability to know what I will and won’t read.

    Think of me in 10 years time.

    PS. did I mention this quote by Tolstoy?

    “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”

  30. No you don’t get my argument at all. And you seem incapable from distinguishing my argument, from the very sophisticated and nuanced argument made by the scientific community.

    On the other hand your argument boils down to “I don’t care about what scientific societies have to say, I don’t care what 97% of those looking at the issue have to say, because I saw a debate and those debating for AGW flubbed

    And your original argument boils down “since attribution can’t be concisely but completely explained, then it must be on shaky ground.

    Both are equally irrational arguments. I think I’ll stick with acceptance of the mainstream scientific opinion. Science has a great track record. Deniers not so much.

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Despite your claims to the contrary you are clearly not looking at this issue honestly, are not interested in legitimate debate, and thus not welcome here.

  31. [...] Yes, the Deniers really do LOVE the word skeptic because it gives them a totally undeserved and false credibility.  The point has been repeatedly made that skepticism is an rational, intellectual mode of enquiry (eg see here and here) whereas climate Deniers are endlessly gullible and seemingly willing to believe the most outrageous idiocies as long as they allegedly refute climate science (eg here and here). [...]

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