2011-09-26 18:12:06Understanding climate denial
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
123.211.208.191

This is my response to Anthony Watts, without actually directly responding to him (have cannibalised the "conservatives convinced" post which now falls by the wayside:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Understanding-climate-denial.html

Comments welcome. Sure to be a controversial post.

2011-09-26 18:36:47Well whatever
jyyh
Otto Lehikoinen
otanle@hotmail...
85.77.43.196

Having some Wattsian fun...

There are many lines of evidence that humans are causing global warming.
*Claiming this doesn't make it true. Please provide evidence.

 To conclude otherwise requires denying the full body of evidence.
*Well there's none.

Recognizing the process of denial needs to be distinguished from the use of the derogatory title 'denier'.

Nothing constructive can come from likening someone to a Holocaust denier.
*Are you stating that calling Holocaust Deniers 'Holocaust Deniers' is unconstructive?? Nazi!!

But bleating about the word 'denier' can be a form of denial itself, using concern trolling to avoid a serious discussion of the scientific evidence.
*Nope. It's important how people feel, because emotions rule, thus even saying 'denier' implicates one to be sympathetic to extreme views of Holocaust... I wonder if climate scientists are emotional at all??

In fact, a proper understanding of how one can be skeptical of man-made global warming in the face of so many lines of evidence is only possible when one understands the psychology of denial
* You're getting personal and throwing ad Hominems here... Give us a name so we can diss you properly.

 

2011-09-26 18:38:59
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
192.84.150.209

You write "the use of the derogatory title 'denier'". Isn't this implying that you're condemning it's use as derogatory?

"so few conservatives change their mind" and elsewhere. There's no need to use a political term here, non-conservatives may be skeptics/deniers as well.

Is it acceptable to publish the personal email from Nathan McKaskle?

Very good idea to write this post.

2011-09-26 18:48:15
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.151.63

To my mind, the first paragraph is all over the place.  Too many ideas trying to get their head in the sun in too little space.  Other than that, excellent post.

2011-09-26 20:43:26
Steve Brown

brownsg@gmail...
91.220.25.25

I don't think that referring to the word "denier" as being derogatory is necessary.  It's a descriptive word for someone who denies in the face of evidence. 

2011-09-26 21:32:16Suggestion
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Reword from:

Recognizing the process of denial needs to be distinguished from the use of the derogatory title 'denier'.

To:

Recognizing the process of denial needs to be distinguished from the derogatory use of the title 'denier'.

 


Denier can be used as long as the context is clear that it is the denial of the science that is being referred to.

The rest is fine.  No need to nitpick over details.  Let'er rip.

 

2011-09-26 22:21:35
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.6.13

Might be important or maybe not, but as I pointed out in the long thread

pejoritively used, as last year, I got Watts to admit that's what the problem is. 

So taken at his word, discussing 'denial' or saying 'denialist' (in all science) is NOT an issue. 

This is the study I pointed out to him

 

And let me point out that holocaust references are not the only 'bad' use of th word 'denier'.  It's just the worst.  Calling someone a denier is adhom.  It might be right, but logically speaking, it very likely does not address the argument being made by the other person.

2011-09-26 22:27:26
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.17.202

I agree with Tom Curtis. I think that elaborating a bit more on examples of denial (such as holding contradictory claims to be true; holding onto claims that have been demonstrated to be true, e.g. humans aren't responsible for the increase in CO2; jumping to conclusions about scientific research that actually doesn't support what you say it does; so on) would help detach the first part of the paragraph and then let the rest (as I show separate below) act as its own lead-in for the main point of the post:

>>>There are many lines of evidence that humans are causing global warming. To conclude otherwise requires denying the full body of evidence. (<<elaborate some>>) [¶] Recognizing the process of denial, though, needs to be distinguished from the use of the derogatory title 'denier'. Nothing constructive can come from likening someone to a Holocaust denier. But bleating about the word 'denier' can be a form of denial itself, using concern trolling to avoid a serious discussion of the scientific evidence. In fact, a proper understanding of how one can be skeptical of man-made global warming in the face of so many lines of evidence is only possible when one understands the psychology of denial [<-- need ending punctuation here anyways]

 

2011-09-26 22:30:05
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.17.202

Would anyone be interested in postponing this for like a day so I can finish the "audit?"  Which up to now is showing we use "denier" very sparingly, and never yet with the connotation to holocast denial?

I think including Watts' admission to grypo would be only too sweet of an opportunity to pass up.

2011-09-26 22:30:35
muoncounter
Dan Friedman
dfriedman3@comcast...
216.227.243.189

Shouldn't it be 'climate change denial'; no one seriously denies there is a climate, after all.

 

Put "Holocaust denier" in quotes.  I would also expand that sentence:
 
"Just as nothing constructive can come from likening someone to a "Holocaust denier," nothing constructive come from any ideological name-calling.

2011-09-26 22:37:29
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.17.202

grypo, I interpret this:

"It might be right, but logically speaking, it very likely does not address the argument being made by the other person."

in two ways:

- we ought to elaborate on this in the post: actually, I don't think we do.  Especially don't say that calling someone a denier is ad hominem, that's simply not true.  It's insulting (mildly, if you have thin skin), but ad hominem only applies when you do indeed fail to address their arguments.

- we ought to completely stop using "denier" because it's ad hominem: as I said above, it's not necessarily, and we *always* address their arguments, which means it's necessarily not.

2011-09-26 22:39:10
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.6.13

I think including Watts' admission to grypo would be only too sweet of an opportunity to pass up.

Alex, I would only use that if our response (whatever it is or isn't) is rejected.  And even then I would only point to the thread and say that he only dislikes the pejoritve use of the word, i wouldn't point to my comment in particular as there are lots of interesting things in that opening thread.  Also, it shouldn't be part of the 'official' SkS response.  

2011-09-26 22:40:36
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.17.202

RE using the reply from Watts: all right, that's fine then.

2011-09-26 22:43:13
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.6.13

grypo, I interpret this:

"It might be right, but logically speaking, it very likely does not address the argument being made by the other person."

in two ways:

It's the first of the two.  It doesn't address the argument "ususally".  but even when it does, it is taken as insulting.  So as a site that wants to stay away from both of those, SkS should stop using it, or scrub it, regardless of Watts silly proposals.

2011-09-27 00:14:50Comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
142.162.205.112

I'm in the minimum here. I still think that we should respond but it is a consensus deal. I still think we should just say we will remove it from our vocab but we expect no one from anyone else.

I still think that not responding and accepting the deal is defeating our purpose and is counterproductive. Why exascerbate things when we have the chance to reduce the tensions and change the debate? I think we really have to check our egos at the door and swallow a poison pill to improve the debate.

2011-09-27 00:14:54My gut reaction to this hullaballo
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

"While Nero fiddles, Rome burns."

We're expending valuable time and enrrgy responding to the likes of Anthony Watts. Other than assuaging our egos, doing so gets us nothing.

Ignore the SOB!

2011-09-27 00:46:06
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.6.13

Robert, 

I'm in total agreement about the ego thing, I think our  disagreement with you  (and neal), which would good to parse out, is that we cannot predict what can be done by a negotiation with Watts.  To build a consensus here, I believe you or Neal will need to point out what exactly we should say and how that will effect the debate.  I think the problem is that without getting into the specifics of possible outcomes, most of us are weary of getting into a debate with someone who most of believe is taunting and not really interested in civil discourse.

 

I still think we should just say we will remove it from our vocab but we expect no one from anyone else. 

Yes, I think so also.  Do you think we could a consensus around that idea?

 

And to Alex C, the audit is a good idea.  Taking notes?

2011-09-27 00:59:08
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.17.202

I have finished the audit.  I still need to do a final count on the types of words used (e.g. "deny" v. "denier"), but can probably send it to John if he wants to have a look.

2011-09-27 01:29:22
thingsbreak

things.break@gmail...
66.7.151.194

I object to: “Recognizing the process of denial needs to be distinguished from the use of the derogatory title 'denier'. Nothing constructive can come from likening someone to a Holocaust denier.”

That wording is kinda ceding unnecessary ground on 2 counts.

The point is this- denialism in general is broadly recognized. There are blogs about it, books about it, papers about it, etc.

While there have no doubt been some unfortunate instances wherein climate denialism was explicitly **equated** to Holocaust denial, AFAIK that is atypical in general discourse.

Rather it has been “skeptics” who have been trying to make the association stick in order to complain about it.

I suspect a survey of mainstream academic/journalistic use of the general term denialism would show that there is no deliberate moral equivalence being made.

Don’t buy into the frame that the use of denier is deliberately invoking Holocaust deniers. 

2011-09-27 01:33:30
thingsbreak

things.break@gmail...
66.7.151.194

From the Denialism blog About page:

Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one's viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.

Examples of common topics in which denialists employ their tactics include: Creationism/Intelligent Design, Global Warming denialism, Holocaust denial, HIV/AIDS denialism, 9/11 conspiracies, Tobacco Carcinogenecity denialism (the first organized corporate campaign), anti-vaccination/mercury autism denialism and anti-animal testing/animal rights extremist denialism. Denialism spans the ideological spectrum, and is about tactics rather than politics or partisanship...

5 general tactics are used by denialists to sow confusion. They are conspiracy, selectivity (cherry-picking), fake experts, impossible expectations (also known as moving goalposts), and general fallacies of logic.

2011-09-27 01:35:08
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.122.57

Why should we insist on a term if we know it grates on them?

2011-09-27 01:37:43
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

John,

Good  yu do not mention Watts.  I would also give some other exmaples of where the term denial comes in:  Some people deny that second hand smoke is bad for your health, some (scientists even) deny the link between HIV and AIDS, some deny that humans are signifcantly going to change the planet's climate.  There are other examples of denial in science.  As you say, and this cannot be emphasiszed enough, bolded even perhaps people who belat about the term "denier" are using it as a cop out so that they do not have to engage with opposing views on the science, so that they do not have to deal with the fact that they do not have a compelling case to make.

Here is an interesting use of the word "deny" by Spencer:

"I’m talking about those who deny NATURAL climate change. Like Al Gore, John Holdren, and everyone else who thinks climate change was only invented since they were born."

Well, I am affronted! ;)

I know I'm beating my drum here, but I still maintain it is best to say "denier of AGW", " X is in denial about AGW".....

2011-09-27 01:51:23Minor Edits
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

Last sentence, first paragraph, missing a final period.

2nd sentence, second paragraph, the subject/object do not match in number... "A tell-tale sign of denial are certain defence mechanisms." should be "Tell-tale signs of denial are certain defence mechanisms."

1st sentence, fourth paragraph, should end in a question mark, not a period... "Is it any wonder that so few conservatives change their mind about climate change?"

2nd sentence, last paragraph, "weconsider" is missing a space ("we consider").

2011-09-27 01:53:10
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.6.13

I'm with Neal here.  Just say that we NEVER meant it to be associated with the holocaust and we are also ending the pejoritve use because fits with our policy and helps with our intended communication strategy.  

2011-09-27 01:53:14
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

Re Watts and Grypo,

"REPLY: But that is not how it is used, “denier” is used in the rephrehensible “holocaust denier” connotation. – Anthony"

Wrong.  I am sure John is NOT [edit--added] "thinking" consciously or otherwise about Nazis when he says "denier".  That is Anthony's wishful interpretation, if it is made in a science discussion about climate change, then the context is very clear, unless the person says "You are a denier just like those people who deny the Holocaust" that term does not by default mean one is referring to the Holocaust. But by deciding to interpret it that way is an excuse to play concern troll, and excuse to ignore to someone challenging him, and an excuse to (ironically) attack their integrity/ethics.

And as I mentioned last night on the other thread.  It seems lost on Anthony that he regularly hosts Monckton on his site, the very same person who has in fact made a direct association between Nazis and Professor Garnaut.

"Heil Hitler, on we go,'' said Lord Monckton in discussing Prof Garnaut, as a quote was displayed beside a Swastika."

I also recommend that we follow the sage advice of thingsbreak on this. I agree that the sentence in question is not true to what is actually going on.

2011-09-27 02:00:30
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

I'd say "Recognizing the process of denial needs to be distinguished from the use of the title 'denier' which, depending on the context, can be derogatory."

"A tell-tale sign of denial are certain defence mechanisms" => Certain defense mechanisms are tell-tale signs of denial.

"In one experiment, people were asked if they believed there was a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 (Prasad 2009" => I'd change "9/11" to "the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on 9/11".  And do you have a link for Prasad 2009?

"Is it any wonder that so few conservatives change their mind about climate change. But don't forget 2% did change their mind. The rare conservative who is able to consider the full body of evidence is the exception that proves the rule." => you jumped into talking about conservatives out of nowhere here.  Maybe change conservatives to "denialists" or "climate change deniers", since that's what you're talking about.  Or "skeptics" in quotes.  And the first sentence should end in a question mark.

2011-09-27 02:05:55
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.4.105

>>>I'd change "9/11" to "the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11"

Too specific, there were also attacks on the Pentagon (which succeeded) and White House/? (which didn't) planned.

2011-09-27 03:09:50
thingsbreak

things.break@gmail...
66.7.151.194

Neal,

 

I am not advocating that anyone continue using "denier". I am simply asking that John C. doesn't agree to the "skeptic" rewriting of the phrase's history.

2011-09-27 03:51:03
Same Ordinary Fool

chicagoriverturning@gmail...
184.98.26.165

The description of "denier" should be made more explicit on a science-based website.  "Humans are causing global warming", by increasing CO2, due to the Greenhouse Effect.  Deniers deny the Greenhouse Effect.

In comments at Wottsupwithat I've referred to the many heresies acceptable under WUWT's Big Tent, vis a vis the establishment skeptic climate scientists: Lindzen, Spencer and Christy.  Their leading scientists all accept the Greenhouse Effect.  The differences are over the level of sensitivity, and clouds.

I think this cutting criticism of the denier position can be artfully introduced with a few sentences demonstrating the universal acceptace of the Greenhourse Effect.  "Even Lindzen, Spencer, Christy and (now) Pielke Sr...."

And thereby we've set up the denier position as opposing that of their publishing skeptic scientists...as it really is.

 

 

 

2011-09-27 04:09:27
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

SOF,

Very good suggestion.  Unfortunately the post has already gone live.  [Update:  It has not gone live, what was I thniking!?  Hope John incorporates that suggestion].

2011-09-27 04:20:41
Andy S

skucea@telus...
74.198.150.243
I'm traveling on business missing all the fun. some minor comments. Forgive the iPad typos below. I wouldnt say "bleat" that's a bit derogatory. I agree with tb that apparently conceding the point about denier's supposed Holocaust connection is unnecessary. "distract" is a transitive verb that requires an object. So say "distracts people from" instead of "distracts from". At one point you asked a rhetorical question without a question mark at the end of the sentence. As before, I'm a little uncomfortable with the psycho stuff. Imagine being on the receiving end of that kind of commentary from a, er, skeptic. I think it's better to show rather than tell people that they have mental blocks that prevent them from getting it on climate change. As a general comment, I'm firmly in the camp of less is more when it comes to responding to these recent attacks. I can't help thinking that this is some kind of rope-a-dope strategy (google it) on the part of our enemies. We are in great danger of making forced errors and spoiling the SkS brand here.
2011-09-27 05:33:20
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.6.13

Watts has made another stupendous blunder in an update on that thread.  He now has a graph of data that charts word usage of "denier" and notices that it was used alot during WWII.  he's right, it was written about a lot at the time.  The problem with that is the word Holocaust wasn't even used until the 60's.  And in combination with 'denier' it wasn't used in that sense until later than that.  Interstingly, when you search inside of the book results (between 1935-1965), the word "denier" only comes up with "world war" a few times, there is no mention of actual denial of anything or Jews and anything remotely similar.  But...and here's the hilarious punchline..."denier" is a term used in the fashion and textile industry that reflects thickness of yarn and other synthetic fabrics popularized at the time...and most of the time it was used to discuss the thickness of.... pantyhose.

 

If anyone else can find this Watts' correlation, please do.  I doubt 100% that it exists.

2011-09-27 06:05:10njk: here's why
muoncounter
Dan Friedman
dfriedman3@comcast...
216.227.243.189

"Why should we insist on a term if we know it grates on them?"

 

Beause they must not get to tell us what terms we can and cannot use.  Denial is well-defined, as is denier.  If Watts is allowed to redefine words, then he will next redefine whatever term he pleases -  they are already heading down that path with 'cAGW,' 'warmists,' 'catastrophists,' 'alarmists,' etc.  

 

It should be obvious that there is a measure of truth in the label if the reaction to it is this strong.

 

John, if this gets through, are you going to change the title of your book?

2011-09-27 06:15:43
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.122.57

It doesn't do us any good.

2011-09-27 06:22:26
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.6.13

Certainly not for us to discuss, but somebody might.  In the least, it makes his proclaimation:

I’ve made an update with some data and graphs on word use, refresh to see it at the end of the story.

Thanks to Tom Curtis for the making me think harder, which helped me prove the strong connection between the word “denier” and the atrocities of WWII

just plain wrong

2011-09-27 07:11:45
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

Err, I'm confused.  This post is not listed under "lastest posts " on the main page.  but when i go to "Recent Comments", there are two comments posted under "Understanding climate denial".  and when I click on the hyperlink it links to John's draft post.

So for fear of sounding obtuse, is the post live or not?  or is this part of the 'experiment'?

2011-09-27 07:16:16
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

OK, the hyperlink does not work when I am not signed on, but the comments for that thread still do appear on the "Comments page".

2011-09-27 08:34:15
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Hmm that's odd.  Maybe John posted it briefly (possibly in its previous form) then took it down, but not before a couple comments were made?  It's not live right now at least.

2011-09-27 08:38:02
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

But there is the way-back machine...I do not like this.

2011-09-27 08:44:10
Hoskibui

hoskibui@gmail...
80.239.242.95

The post is not live - but the comments are there for all to see (if they go to that section).. even if you are not logged in..

2011-09-27 08:47:16
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.6.13

i deleted them.  Take note tho, that comments on unpublished blog posts show up in 'recent comments' page publicly.

2011-09-27 08:56:38Oops, comments!
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
130.102.158.12

It is possible for SkS authors to post comments to non-live blog posts, which then appear on Recent Comments. That's a bit of a loophole I need to fill - not to show comments on Recent Comments if the blog post isn't yet live.

Considering the scrutiny SkS is now under, have to keep an eye on these kinds of things! :-)

Thanks for the feedback on the post, will go through them shortly and update the post.

2011-09-27 12:52:29I've updated the blog post
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
130.102.158.12

I've revamped the clunky first paragraph, made minor tweaks and rewrote the final paragraph.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Understanding-climate-denial.html

For those SkSers who are skeptical about whether we should refer to denial at all, the point I make is this. To put the climate controversy into proper perspective, to really make people understand what's going on, you need to understand the phenomenon of denial. You need to understand the techniques of denial (the 5 characteristics listed by Diethelm and McKee). You need to understand why people deny. This knowledge is crucial for the general public to discern the truth.

A key element to dislodging myths in people's minds is to replace it with an alternative narrative. The narrative here is the phenomenon of denial. You can't give people a meaningful picture that will stick without explaining why this controversy has arisen and the ways misinformers are able to mislead. Another key to debunking myths (Steve Lewandowsky's research indicates this contributes to around 1/3 of successful debunking) is to arouse suspicion towards the source of misinformation. This is achieved by explaining how they mislead and/or explaining why they mislead.

Watts is trying to do two things, both which would be very harmful to our cause. First, he's trying to distance himself from the fact that he's denying the evidence. Secondly, he's trying to direct the discussion from science & evidence into the warm, fuzzy comfortable topics of framing and vocabulary (remind you of anyone?). It's much more preferable for a climate misinformer to dwell on vocabulary than to dwell on what's happening to the Greenland ice sheet or rising sea levels.

So my post is all about directing people back to the evidence. And that's what we have to do with every SkS post - point people to the science. We don't chase Watts' blimp. We don't get involved in the distracting discussion of whether we should use the word denier or not. We don't surrender the narrative of denial because it's a vital piece of the puzzle. We continue to point people to the evidence by explaining how misinformers deny the evidence.

Any further comments on the updated blog post?

2011-09-27 13:03:08
muoncounter
Dan Friedman
dfriedman3@comcast...
76.30.158.238

I'd think about dropping the "Nothing constructive can come from likening someone to a "Holocaust denier""  entirely.  It just seems unnecessary and will rapidly become the focal point.  That would play into Watts' strength - rabble rousing. 

 

You are already drawing the distinction between 'denier' and the process of denial, which makes the point.

2011-09-27 13:06:40
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.22.39

Watts wants it to become the focal point, he'll make it so whether we like it or not.  I would recommend setting the record straight on how we feel about that connotation, and then ignoring him from here on out about it because there is nothing feasible he can possibly respond with that would merit a further response, nothing short of direct accusation of likening deniers to holocaust deniers anyways.  I actually doubt Watts would do that though.

BTW John, again, did you get my previous email with the audit?

2011-09-27 14:06:10
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

I second Muoncounter's suggestion aboutg that sentence John, let us not give them easy arguing points.

Also "These examples of conservatives being convinced by the evidence reaffirms Skeptical Science's key mission of presenting the full body of evidence for man-made global warming"

And I'm playing Devil's advocate here-- this is now what Watts might pursue.  That is, finding examples when SkS does not present the body of evidence (think of Poptech's list), and then accusing you of cherry-picking or making false proclamations.

Maybe you have that covered, but maybe tone it down just a notch so it does not come across as being so wide scope-- we can never present the full body of evidence.  Maybe just repeat what is in your mission statement but without the questions:

"This website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?"

I actually also like this line from your post on this thread:

"We continue to point people to the evidence by explaining how misinformers deny the evidence."

2011-09-27 14:15:03
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125

I still have a problem with the paragraph "Is it any wonder that so few conservatives change their mind about climate change?".  You're talking about denial, then all of the sudden you're talking about conservatives.  It seems like a political attack.  I'd change "conservative" to "those who deny the body of climate science" or something like that.

Same at the end - "These examples of conservatives being convinced by the evidence".  I don't think we need to characterize them as conservatives, do we?  Seems like it would be just as effective to characterize them as formerly in denial about the body of climate science evidence.

2011-09-27 14:23:24Conservative blogs
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
130.102.158.12

The point was that these were conservative bloggers - who overcame their ideology to examine the evidence.

But I suppose it achieves the same goal without ringing psychological alarm bells if I characterise them as "the blogger formerly in denial"

2011-09-27 14:33:02More updates
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
130.102.158.12

Removed the holocaust sentence.

Alex, my key point about the audit is we don't want to surrender the denial narrative. So whether we use the term denial or not is immaterial. My blog post stresses that we need to understand denial in order to put the climate controversy in proper perspective. We're not stopping using the term "denying" or "denial" or "denialist" because we need to describe the process of denial. However, just between us, we will try to avoid the word "denier" just because that specific version of the word is so loaded.

Reference to conservatives now gone, Dana.

Final paragraph now starts:

These examples of minds being changed by the evidence reaffirms Skeptical Science's key mission of presenting the many lines of evidence for man-made global warming

2011-09-27 14:49:26
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125

Looks good, thumbs-up from me.

2011-09-27 18:57:18
jyyh
Otto Lehikoinen
otanle@hotmail...
85.77.18.193

These examples of minds being changed by the evidence reaffirms Skeptical Science's key mission of presenting the many lines of evidence for man-made global warming.

*"We at WUWT are not interested on evidence of man-made global warming, we are teaching the controversy unlike J.Cook and his fanatic followers"

2011-09-27 19:15:04
alan_marshall

alan.from.tas@gmail...
114.73.57.242

An excellent post John, as it focuses on denial of the evidence. We can worry about how and when to use the term "denier" later. Gets a thumbs up from me too!

2011-09-27 19:16:10
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.54.214

I think the posts cries out for one of those SkS graphics. Maybe this one?

Thumbs up from me.

2011-09-27 21:05:28
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.6.13

John, RE: your comments - the idea is to get rid of the word 'denier', not to cut off discussion of denial as a psychological ploy.  There are 3 issues:

  1. Denial as referred to Holocaust - this is what Watts wants to use to make us look really bad.  This needs to be explicitly refuted
  2. Denial as ad hom, with the term 'denier' - unless we can make a logical argument as to why the term should be used in regards to someone's argument - ie, prooving that the person is on denial in face of evidence - then we are just name calling.  I think we should make an effort to stop that, mention Watts somehow, and move on
  3. Denial as a psychological ploy.  This is important to discuss, but should be treated carefully when applied to specific people.
2011-09-27 22:17:29
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.167.78

Very good.  The introduction is a vast improvement both in form and content.

2011-09-27 22:19:37
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.167.78

Grypo, I may be interested in a post on the connection of the term "denier" with holocaust denial, following up on my debate with Watts.  I think he has made a fool of himself in that debate, and am happy to show the world how.

2011-09-27 22:42:02
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.6.13

Great.  His connection is flat wrong.  It would be even more interesting if the etymology of the terms were researched to create a timeline.

2011-09-27 23:38:34
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.167.78

Grypo, I'm trying to do that now.  It may take a while.

2011-09-28 01:04:32
adelady

amgnificent@gmail...
124.171.82.190

If we want to stick to science, then we should make at least a passing reference to Sigmund and Anna Freud.  Ziggy postulated the idea of denial, Anna developed it.  Unfortunately her notions were all about immaturity and the like - very predictable from a disciple of the great man's ideas.   

The Wiki page is all we really need but you might like to go all sciencey and find something online from the Freuds.  (I'm not  going there.  I got enough Freud to last half a dozen lifetimes during the 70s.)

2011-09-28 02:56:07
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Given how JC has transformed a possible direct response to Watts into a generic article about climate denial, I'm in. 

Good job everyone.

 

 

2011-09-28 03:15:58
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

I was just about to add my "green thumb", but decided to give it another quick read.  This sentence could prove to be very problematic:

"The first point to make is that recognizing the process of denial is to be distinguished from a derogatory use of the title 'denier'."

Is is very subtle "a derogatory" versus "the derogatory".  The former suggests that the term "denier" is not derogatory in the right context, which is true.  However, that now gives Anthony all kinds of wiggle room to (worngly) state that "You agree that using the term "denier" is derogatory. So why keep using it and why not remove it from your site" etc. John you seem to be stating that when you use the term "denier" that you are speaking to the "process of denial".  Is that correct?  Maybe that can be clarified better. But to me, saying you 'denier' is not equivalent to talking about 'the process of denial'.  So itg weas probably lost on them too.

One of the weak points in Anthony et al. defence is that the term "denier" is very clearly used in the context of people denying the evidence of AGW or denying the theory of AGW.  I am not aware of many instances when people have directly made the association between that denial and those who deny the Holocaust.  So maybe just be quite blunt and say that "some people choose to take exception to the term and choose to attach to is derogatory meanings so as "to avoid a serious discussion of the scientific evidence.""  Second part cut from your existing text. I think that point really needs to be hammered home.

If anyone has a better idea of wording that key sentence, or perhaps adding another for clarification, I think doing so would save a great deal of pain down the road and would well be worth the effort.

Other than that it looks good John :)

2011-09-28 03:46:58
muoncounter
Dan Friedman
dfriedman3@comcast...
216.227.243.189

How about this?

 

To simply call someone a name is to simply engage in schoolyard misbehavior.  This is not the aim of SkS; we seek to explain why one's thought process is flawed by a clear presentation of the science.

2011-09-28 03:51:37
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.125.141

"is flawed by a clear presentation of the science"

Huh?

2011-09-28 04:32:53
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.42.196

"is flawed, by a clear presentation of the science" is what Muon means.

Needs a re-write because it is still easily confused. 

2011-09-28 05:49:12
muoncounter
Dan Friedman
dfriedman3@comcast...
216.227.243.189

'thought process is flawed'

 

Put it together and see how it works:

The first point to make is that recognizing the process of denial is to be distinguished from the derogatory use of the title 'denier'."  To merely call someone a name is to engage in a schoolyard misbehavior.  This is not the aim of SkS.  We believe that a clear presentation of the science will dispell the popular misconceptions that lead to denial.  We seek reasoned debate.

 

I like the idea of lumping all name-calling into bad behavior.

2011-09-28 08:27:17
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.125.141

Sounds slightly pompous.

2011-09-28 08:41:09
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

The entire second paragraph needs a good rewrite, not just the sentence identified by Albatross. What the heck is the "process of denial"?

2011-09-28 08:49:39
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.29.252

John: I know, my intent was not to stop using the word.  The audit was as a backup in case Watts still tries to push his silly equivalency, especially upon SkS.  In either case I agree it wouldn't fit in here, or as its own post.

There does need to be some rewording of:

"Understanding the denial of scientific evidence is a crucial element to putting the climate controversy into proper context. The first point to make is that recognizing the process of denial is to be distinguished from a derogatory use of the title 'denier'. Complaining about the word 'denier' can be a form of denial itself, using concern trolling to avoid a serious discussion of the scientific evidence. "

I might suggest:

"Understanding the denial of scientific evidence is a crucial element to putting the climate controversy into proper perspective.  The first point to make here is that identifying the process of denial is distinct from using the title "denier" as a derogatory name.  Complaining about the word "denier" can be a form of denial itself, using concern trolling to avoid a serious discussion of the scientific evidence."

2011-09-28 08:52:14
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.29.252

I also recommend just throwing in a sentence or two about distinguishing skepticism from denial, as you did in the excerpt quoted in this post.

2011-09-28 09:29:57
alan_marshall

alan.from.tas@gmail...
114.73.131.111

A few late thoughts on terminology:

‘Skeptic’ is a widely used term and is commonly understood by the public to refer to our opponents. It is also a broad term, and John has made it somewhat ambiguous by using it in the name of his site. I think it is inconsistent to refuse to refer to our opponents as ‘skeptics’ when the booklet John has written to rebut their claims is called ‘The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism’.

The other issue with the term “denier” is that it is absolute, when in fact there is a spectrum of opposing views. We could recognise this by distinguishing between skeptics and deniers. One objective way of doing that, and at the same time focus on the physics, would be to use their estimates of climate sensitivity. For example, we could define a climate change skeptic (or dissenter or disputer) as a scientist who believes climate sensitivity as >= 1.0 degrees, but < 2.0 degrees, or at least acknowledges that man’s contribution to climate change is a concern. Those who believe climate sensitivity is < 1.0 degrees, or don’t even understand what climate sensitivity is (eg. Republican politicians) would be defined as climate change deniers (or rejecters). This approach would probably classify Pielke as a skeptic and Spencer, Watts and Monckton as deniers. For those classified as deniers, I have no problem with series titles like ‘Monckton Myths’ and ‘Christy Crocks’. In fact, I would enjoy a series called ‘Plimer Pretensions’ though John has covered him in a chapter of his book.

In relation to Watts proposal, I have already endorsed John’s response. I couldn’t care less about their use of the acronym “SS”. However he does have a point when he quotes Sks as saying “Comments using labels like ’alarmist’ and ‘denier’ are usually skating on thin ice”. I think ‘denial’ is a good English word that John has used appropriately in his latest book. I agree with him that we should not surrender such language in relation to the process. Watts has given us food for thought but our response should be considered and not rushed. 

2011-09-28 12:22:41A Simple Solution?
alan_marshall

alan.from.tas@gmail...
114.73.182.252

I have taken a quick survey of other pro-AGW sites, and many seem to have no problem with the word “denier”. Among the examples I found were Al  Gore’s Climate Reality Project, New ScientistBarack Obama and even Australia’s conservative Herald-Sun newspaper.

However, some people are genuinely sensitive to the use of the term, and if we are going to be effective communicators of truth, it is better not to let emotional barriers be put in the way. The perception by some of a link to holocaust ‘deniers’ is limited just to that form of the word.  Apart from that, the terms “deny” and “denial” are common English words without any obviously better synonyms, and we should feel free to use them when appropriate. I don’t think Sks has any need to apologise, but we should aim to keep the discourse civil. Therefore, I propose the following simple solution:

1. We don’t engage in any rewording of old articles – what is written is written.

2. We adopt a policy of avoiding the word ‘denier’ in future posts, while maintaining the integrity of the English language and our right to use other forms of the word.

To do this, we could, for example, replace AGW / climate change deniers with any of the following constructs:

 ‘those who deny climate change’ or

‘those who support  / defend / are involved in / engage in climate change denial’ or

climate change denialists’ or

‘advocates of climate change denialism

3. A blog post be published stating that any perceived allusion to holocaust deniers was unintended, and explaining the new terminology.

2011-09-28 13:19:01great post -- one odd sentence
Tom Smerling

avi@smerling...
216.164.57.97

Great  job.   You're working toward the definitive analysis of climate denial.

I really like your distinction between the label/epithet "denier" (which some find offensive) vs. the psychological process of "denial" (to which we are all susceptible).      As they say, "Hate the sin, not the sinner!"     By avoiding labeling our opponents, and focussing instead on how they err, we give them -- and more importantly, the onlookers -- room to change.

Here's one tiny editorial correction:   The second sentence in the passage (1st para) reads oddly:

All of these denialist movements have been found to share 5 common characteristics.    Some of these characteristics include cherry pickingconspiracy theories and fake experts.

The words "some" and "include" are redundant.    You could say either

"These characterists include cherry-picking..."  or

 "5 common characteristics, including cherry picking...." (my preference)

or even "Some of these characteristics are cherry picking....."   

I'm guessing that a superfluous word was accidently left undeleted during revision....

But great job

2011-09-28 15:29:08Okay, published this post
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
130.102.158.12

Tweaked the much scrutinised "derogatory" sentence and tweaked the sentence Tom pinpointed.

I predict Anthony Watts will either froth at the mouth and unleash all hell on SkS, or go back to ignoring us. Not sure which option I prefer - both have their up-sides.

2011-09-28 15:39:06
KR

k-ryan@comcast...
69.138.165.234

Well written, John. Compliments.

2011-09-28 15:58:33moving posts
jyyh
Otto Lehikoinen
otanle@hotmail...
85.76.197.8

Ah well it's up now, "The post claiming to be an answer to our criticisms of SkS, is just a bunch of hypocritical babble concerning J.Cooks future trip to the next AGU meeting, which will produce xxxx amount of gaseous CO2 he claims to be concerned of. This clearly shows him to be on the same line with A,Gore who has demostrably been spreading misinformation of the so called AGW as was shown here previously (i won't give the link)".

jyyh anticipating Watts answer.

2011-09-30 14:37:29Synonyms for "deniers"
alan_marshall

alan.from.tas@gmail...
114.73.135.51

The English language gives us plenty of scope for describing those who reject climate science. I cheekily wonder which of the following titles Watts and the like would prefer we use to "denier"?

Synonyms for “deniers”:

altercaters, antagonists, assailers, attackers, charlatans, con-artists, confusers, contesters, contradicters, disaffirmers, disallowers, disavowers, disbelievers, disclaimers, discrediters, dismissers, disputers, dissemblers, dissidents, malcontents, misinformers, obstructers, obfuscators, objectors, opponents,precluders,refuters, rejecters, repudiators, resisters, snake-oil salesmen, spurners

For the more-informed who argue about the seriousness of AGW, we have the folling alternatives.

Synonyms for “skeptics”:

arguers, debaters, doubters, questioners

However, my favourite option is to simply retitle deniers as "those who deny".

2011-09-30 16:51:23
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.125.150

"Global warming doubters" seems to be a fit.