2011-03-31 02:28:28Interesting critique of Natures editorial 'Into Ignorance'
perseus

owlsmoor@googlemail...
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Here is an interesting critique of Natures editorial Into Ignorance by Chris Mooney.  He claims that the top climate sceptics are in fact scientists and therefore not ignorant.  He also accuses it of being elitist in claiming that many of the public are ignorant.

This is the extract from Into Ignorance he his referring to

Now, some people and special interests continue to propagate misleading information about climate change. They are using all of their newly gained knowledge (on how to fool the public) to enhance their greedy benefits. Once the method of scientific inquiry is understood, and the knowledge of how to evaluate scientific claims is at hand, people are not likely to be swayed or confused by misinformation. Some poorly educated people, on the other hand, will be at the whim of the profiteers, not being able to distinguish a lie from a statement based on scientific data. In fact, the more complex an explanation, the more distasteful it might appear to them. These people do not want to be burdened with factual information that their backgrounds do not prepare them to conceptualize; they want to believe in ideas that require minimal intellectual effort. They are likely to prefer a fairy tale to reality; it's so much nicer (for a while) to think that no serious problems exist. Such people just continue to live in a fantasy world that will dissolve when reality becomes oppressive, just as does a dream fades away after one wakes. Then it will unfortunately be too late to correct the problems that were propagated by ignorance."

I find it difficult to agree with Mooney.  The leading climate sceptics might be scientists, but are significantly in the minority. The influential Deniers on the other hand are more numerous and consist of politicians skilled in the art of influencing public opinion or businessmen with a lot of financial clout. Regarding Joe Public, how can we expect them to understand the method of scientific inquiry if even scientists disagree!

Clear honest science is useful to convince an electoral majority that we need to live more sustainably and that much tougher measures on climate mitigation are required. However we also need to remove the level of dishonesty and corruption in politics, so politicians and businesses are more accountable to the public and society, and are less tempted to mislead them. A major step to achieving this is to remove the influence of business lobbying especially in the US. Elections should be publicly funded and politicians shouldn't be able to take up prominent board positions due to potential conflicts of interest.

2011-03-31 02:47:04agreed
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
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64.129.227.4

I'm with you perseus.  The quote Mooney is talking about refers to the misinformation spread by politicians, think tanks, right-wing media, etc.  It's not talking about the Lindzens and Spencers.  Most of the quote seemed valid to me, except perhaps specifying that people need to understand the scientific method to see through the deniers.  People need to distinguish good science from bad science, valid claims from bogus claims, but I don't think just understanding the scientific method will accomplish that. 

We see examples all the time of people who can't tell whether the 'skeptic' arguments or the accurate arguments are correct.  That's what the authors were talking about.

2011-03-31 03:19:26
Andy S

skucea@telus...
88.139.144.147
Ignorance is actually the kindest explanation for people like Lindzen and Spencer. Bias due to one's political/religious worldview or deliberate expression of ideas that you know not to be true, simply out of cussedness or spite, are worse. Lindzen's attitude to tobacco and Spencer's to natural selection are clues to what might be going on in their heads when they think about climate.
2011-03-31 07:27:02Mooney is on the money
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.185.238.238
It's crucial to understand the driving force of climate change denial. It's not ignorance. Ignorance is sometimes irrelevant. Amongst Republicans, denial increases with education. Staggering but true. The driving force is ideology. This is the gorilla in the room that we climate communicators must confront. To make the battle about ignorance is to fight the wrong battle. It's like the WWII Germans putting all their troops at Calais when the Allied forces landed at Normandy.
2011-03-31 07:29:56depends
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

It just depends who we're talking about.  There is a substantial portion of the population which is ignorant and confused because of the mixed messages they're receiving from the two "sides".  Then there are the deniers, for who I agree, ideology the problem, not ignorance.

I thought the quote Mooney provided was about the former, while he's talking about the latter.

2011-03-31 19:23:58
perseus

owlsmoor@googlemail...
78.143.202.222

It can sometimes be difficult to separate ideology and ignorance (of something that ideology opposes) a little of one leads to more of the other.