Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why Climate Denialists Never Seem to Use Coherent Arguments

When you debate with climate change deniers, they have these annoying habitats of:

1. Never stating their position in any concrete terms.
2. Adopting contradictory positions and never acknowledging this.

This make is hard to have a real debate with them because point 1 means you're never told what position you are debating against is, and point 2 means they are always a moving target jumping from nonsense point to point as you shoot each argument away.

You'll be hard pressed to find them making a factual assessment they can be held to, as does the IPCC. So the IPCC may say they think there will be a 2 degree rise over a set time and give the statistical probability that this forecast is accurate. Then they'll revise and amend that forecast as new evidence emerges. That's why it's a science.

By contrast the denialist talks of 'alarmism' and 'concern' other woolly terms that don;t really means anything tangible. They are deliberately vague emotional terms that allow them to escape making solid predictions over which they could be held to account. Denialism never seems to propose research methods that would show what is going on in the climate system - it always relies on cherry picking other peoples data and producing critiques of others hard work. There is nothing itself wrong with criticism - its an essential part of science. But after a while you want the people saying "that's wrong" over and over to show you how it's done right. After all, millions of dollars have been (and are) being pumped into denial by vested interests. Should be simple to fund a few bit of original research that says 'the temperate change will be X degrees over Y years...?

So why is this?

They have to have points 1 and 2 in operation else the carefully woven tissue of conspiracy and obfuscation would collapse under the weight of it's own contradictions. How do they do this? By making an emotional and not a scientific argument...

“…I’ve come to view “denial” as reflective of an individual values, rather than an emotional state they pass through. It is a culture war issue, in the same way abortion, stem cells, Sharia law and creationism have become litmus tests for conservative Christians, Muslims etc.

…Creationist reject evolution because it contradicts their literal reading of the bible. Ergo, thus *must* reject the science in order to affirm their tribalism and confirm their membership to the creationist “tribe”. It’s about outward signs of orthodoxy and inwardly managing ones identity.

Free market libertarians, culture warriors and ultra-conservatives see climate change mitigation as deeply threatening to their “choices” within the market and individual “liberty”.

If your committed to small government and limited intervention in the market, then things such as a carbon tax, ETS or regulation are anathema. After all, the “market” will fix this.

Why is also why you find conspiracy theories, crazy analogies in thier postings - indeed anything but rational thought. To understand them you also need to understand the conspiracy mindset and how it works.


Anonymous said...

Ever looked seriously at skeptic arguments presented by non-loonies?

Try Climate Skeptic and Climate Audit (then again, neither these deny that CO2 has a warming effect, they just question the 'mainstream' claims of catastrophy)

If you look at many 'alarmists' then they use similar language you ascribe to 'denialists' (hell, denialist is such a term - deliberately trying to equate skeptics with the likes of holocaust deniers).

The problem is, there are skeptics who are science based, but they get shut out by the mainstream, dismissed and vilified. Called deniers, tools of big oil etc.

You are contributing to it yourself, but I don't suppose you try to debate the non-loony skeptics out there... (yeah there's a load of loonies on both sides).

The worst thing is that all the energy going into fighting climate change could well be better spent fighting to make people's lives better in the here and now and going forwards, rather than fighting possibilities and maybes and giving authority more power over us.

anarchist said...

Problem I have is in distinguishing an non-looney from a looney denialist...

Perhaps you could help by listing the looney denialists we need to ignore?