2011-09-14 09:29:31Skeptic converted by SkS
John Cook


Got this surprising email - these types of emails don't come along often (in fact, this might be the first one!!!)

You changed my mind about global warming. Up until today I was a bigtime skeptic for a number of reasons. Great site with a wealth of information that addressed most of my concerns.

The only thing it didn't address was government as a solution, but I'm not sure your goal is to talk about solutions but rather establish that ACC is a fact.

In my opinion, turning to government to solve the problem of global warming is like asking the man your wife slept with to be your divorce attorney.

2011-09-14 10:42:37
Dana Nuccitelli

That analogy makes no sense whatsoever, but good that we converted a denier nonetheless!

2011-09-14 11:48:30Anti-government analogy
John Cook


He seems to be quite anti-government in his attitudes (hence the natural alliance with climate skepticism). I sent a reply, curious about what caused him to change his mind. He replied with a link to a blog post he posted:


There is another conservative blog that also cited SkS as a factor in changing their mind about climate change, but I forget the URL. Would be good to collect these URLs in the one place.

2011-09-14 11:54:59The Enemy of my Enemy is my friend?
Glenn Tamblyn


Last 2 para's from JC's link.


"So all that said. I have looked at the evidence and the arguments made, accepted them and changed my mind. Anthropogenic climate change is a fact.

This means that I get to add global warming to the list of crimes committed, enabled and encouraged by governments and any resulting deaths to their murder count."

So now he believes in AGW but its all the governments fault? Take your victories where you can get them I suppose.

2011-09-14 13:04:19
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

John, I think that this anecdote would make a nice feel-good post, if your correspondent was willing to let us make it into one.

Plus it would bug the heck out of the fake skeptics.  :)

2011-09-14 14:25:04Badgers converting skills
Glenn Tamblyn



Here is another 'conversion' that Badger produced a couple of months back. This guy, caracoid makes some VERY interesting comments at the end of the exchange - looking into the right wing mind.


In fact, it was so good I feel I need to reproduce it here - its a bit long:

"Very good information.  Now this, presented as such makes sense.  Thanks for your time in explaining it.  I don't know if this is the last word as far as my opinion goes, but for now it certainly puts me in the AGW camp.  Somebody is going to have to convince me that somehow those polar ice measurements are in error and that the composition of the upper atmosphere is different from what you explained.  

Here's the problem with coming to terms with AGW.  Of course it has been politicized between left and right.  What I can tell you, coming from the right, is that going against the science is very much unusual.  In fact, I can never remember a time when this has happened.  Regardless of what you may have heard, the right is not prone to conspiracy theories.  And this is highly unusual.  

Many things caused this:

1.  For the first time the right has had a forum for discussion.  Prior to this, the media have had a lock on the dissemination of information.  Anybody that I hear who has tried to portray the media as disinterested invariably falls into awkward sophistry soon after the discussion begins.  All my adult life I have heard the media twist stories, tell partial truths, and promote baseless memes that have dropped their credibility in my eyes--as well as in those of the right--to zero.  If you have any question as to the accuracy of this point of view I would be happy to set you straight as you have with me concerning AGW.  Websites are available that daily document the media's biases and chosen omissions that can only be attributed at best to gross negligence and far more likely to an "ends justifies the means" mentality that would make Machiavelli blush. 

There was no public debate on the subject.  The media always promoted the AGW story line and rarely if ever mentioned the other points.  In other words, the media had--once again--chosen which side to take before the discussion had even begun.  If they turned out to be right in the end, it had nothing to do with their understanding of the situation, but by mere chance alone.  

Add to that the media's desperation to stay alive and natural propensity to attempt to frighten people in order to sell papers, makes any information coming from them essentially worse than useless.  So the media will NOT be your friend in spreading the word to the right.

2.   The institutions built to deal with the issue have been penetrated by hardcore ecologists.  Why do I believe this?  Parts of the official UN documents contained conclusions drawn from unverified, non-peer reviewed studies performed by special interest environmental groups.  Claims were tacked on to the basic argument for AGW that it would first melt the world, deforest the world, then freeze the world then swing to either extreme. At that point, any change in weather on any given day is pretty much covered by the claims.  So many claims were made--all under the pretense of being deduced through scientific scrutiny--that it tainted the basic premise of the argument.  

Even the central body that accumulates all the raw data was revealed to be not only biased in their beliefs, but ready to block any attempts by dissenters by threatening science publications with article submission embargoes.  I'm sure you've looked at the transcripts of the emails sent within the organization.  It is truely scary.  The fact that they no longer have access to the raw data is a huge error on their part and in itself goes a long way to explaining the lack of acceptance of AGW.

3.  Al Gore, the de-facto spokesman for AGW turned out to be perhaps the biggest hypocrite of our time: buying mansions, taking limos, flying in jets around the world and consuming like their is no end.  AND getting richer and richer in doing so.

I could go on, but to wonder why the AGW movement is looked at with such a jaundiced eye, one only need look at its history.  In order to accept the word of such a group one really has to reject all the warning signs of chicanery in the book.  Not too many people are able to go back to the information at hand and deal with it in an objective way while holding their noses to the God-awful stink that surrounds it.

So, what is to be done to correct this and get on with convincing the right that you have a point?

Well, the good news is that the right has a deep conviction in the idea that every man can discern the truth if given the information.  It was a basic tenant of or forefathers and continues to be deeply revered amongst the right.  While the Europeans are far more apt to trust the "intelligencia," with its aristocratic overtones, we Americans need to be shown the facts to decide for ourselves.  If the argument has merit and is made available to the right, they will come to accept it.  

DO NOT use scare tactics.  That works with the left, but not the right.  Let me explain:

(As a note: as I'm writing this out, it sounds like it was taken from some pop self-help book.  But keep an open mind and know that these ideas are originals.  Just because they haven't been presented before does not mean they are inaccurate.  And I believe they do truely reflect the psychology of what is getting in the way of your message.)

As much as there is a duality in much of nature, there is in man.  In fact in every person, there seems to be a nihilistic tendency that can be manifested in one of two way that is dependent on the personality type.  

1.  The masculine, the conservative, the fighter, the problem solver, the rationalist, the optimist:  the nihilism of this group is expressed in an obsession with fighting and warfare.  Despite the fact that it leads to the demise of the very group that it vexes, it oddly creates a sense of hyper-stimulation and euphoria that can become addictive.  See Dr. Strangelove.

On the other side, this group is especially squeamish when it comes to the aftermath of the battle.  Don't show the suffering and injured, the crying families, and fatherless children--that's a buzz-kill.  

(Being a member of this group, I think I can speak with authority.  And I think if you are part of group 2, you would have some negatives to add to the Type 1s and positives to add to the list of Type 2 traits below.  However, living in the city and being surrounded by liberal friends, who think quite differently from me, I have learned the following about this personality type).

2.  The feminine, the liberal, the cautionary, the emotional:  the nihilism of this group begins right where the previous left off.  Give this group the suffering, the injustice, the gory details and they're lit up like a Christmas tree.  Each Type 2 feeds off the other, getting into darker and darker spaces, bemoaning the inhumanity while trying to one up the other in a gloom fest.  See: polar bear pups marooned on icebergs in the Arctic.

This very high that is generated by the Type 2, completely puts off the Type 1.  The Type 1 goes on the defensive, making light of the--while perhaps true--ultimate conclusions of the Type 2, by fracturing the excesses that have been generated by their feeding frenzy.  The Type 1 is deeply disturbed by the imagery and naturally wants to minimize it by picking at the details and making jokes about it.  

Lesson: want to persuade the right?  Leave all emotion behind.  Anything that can be interpreted as hysteria and exageration, will be met with anger.  Remember, the Type 1 wants to conquer the problem, not be left feeling helpless.  That's weakness and something the Type 1 finds extremely distasteful.

Focus on the problem and the PRACTICAL solutions.  Provide a clear path of your solution of how to get from A to Z.  This should be seen as doable, a war that can be won.  Don't go off on windmills and solar energy and love circles.  The realist will see that despite the claims of the eco-crowd, there is no way that these can be implemented without sending us back to the Stone Age.  Despite the case of AGW, the right deeply respects science and the advance of technology. It doesn't want to go back to the Garden of Eden, though that may work up the left.  The right has responded so negatively to the AGWs because they believe that they are stealing the sanctity of the scientific method, not because they doubt it.

Be ready to supply REAL numbers.  Saying that as the alternative energy technology advances, it will become cheaper, doesn't cut it.  I, myself, ran the numbers on converting all power derived from imported oil in the US to wind power (if it could hypothetically be done).  I used as a baseline a real case where Britain is placing off-shore windmills off the coast of Wales.  Here we have a real testable case.  This is a huge project using the latest wind generation technology and located at an optimal location (of which there is a limited amount).  We know what Britain is expecting to pay in subsidies for the project.  So I converted oil and wind to BTUs, set all numbers at an apples-to-apples zero point, proceeded with some lengthy math and determined that it would cost the US almost a trillion dollars a year in subsidies to replace oil imports with wind mills.

While I don't know about solar, I've never heard that it is exponentially cheaper than wind.  Never pretend to the right that an undercooked solution is workable when its not.  The right is not at all prone to flights of fancy. 

As of right now, the only solution I see that will bring the right on board is to go nuclear.  And please feel free to inform me if you have anything else.  But remember that the solution has to be seen as practical to get the other side on board.  If the left doesn't make a compromise here, this will forever be left in deadlock.

And I think it was suggested before that this be looked at in military terms.  NOBODY wants to be defending oil fields abroad.  To accuse the right of wanting this is more than counter-productive.  The right sees an enemy on the horizon.  Talk about cutting the enemy off from its supply lines.  Driving forward with cutting edge technology that will leave the competition wondering what hit it.  Leaving the backward thinking Arabs who have proven to be nothing but our enemies in the dust of their own making.  Well, you get the idea.

Talk about America-derived energy and can-do attitude and the true cost-benefit of solution.  Do not talk about one-worldism, the connotations will get you a knee-jerk reaction of disgust.  The right sees too many bad connotations there and a very justified reason to believe that any global solutions will never be implemented by our competitors, but will be cheated out of existence for anyone other than the US, which has strict laws that insure compliance.  Don't go down the road of global accords.  It will distract you from an argument that you can win if you have the courage to take your FACTS to the right and fight it out.  These FACTS do not include extrapolations and guesswork.  You can save that for the instinctually converted.  

When the argument bogs down, stick with the win-able, indisputable points, those being--as far as I can see--the polar ice and its continued degradation.  Also, show the satellite-derived temperature data.  That will be accepted by the right as unadulterated.  Explain the molecular percentages of GW gasses at altitude and why a seemingly small amount is in actuality quite a lot.  

Go directly to the blogs of the right:  Townhall and Pajama's Media (particularly this last one where you will get a good hearing).  Proudly take on all comers.  Right now the claim is that the warmists are unable to defend their own position, which is why they don't accept debates.  I'm still not sure why they don't, other than maybe the indignity of being challenged.  Direct them to your website and have them look it over for themselves.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, cracks have started in the right's attitudes about global warming.  Now would be a good time to go on the offensive.  What you don't know, admit; but what you do know--unassailably--stress.

Oh!  And clean up that damn list of AGW scientists that includes everyone from Carl Sagen to the Mad Hatter.  

(I can't believe I wrote this much.)



2011-09-14 15:21:57Upcoming post from Nathan McCaskle
John Cook


After reading Nathan's post about how SkS "converted" him, I asked if he could write a follow-up post fleshing out what evidence and arguments resolved the problems he had. Eg - asked for specifics, with links, suggesting it would be a powerful post that would be of much interest (and confronting) to his readers. He agreed and is writing something over the next week.

Will be interesting to see what he produces and may use it as a guest post on SkS, if it's not too nutty (he has some crazy stuff elsewhere on his blog about the abolishment of government).

2011-09-22 13:34:26


"he has some crazy stuff elsewhere on his blog about the abolishment of government"

If he has a plan, I'm in!  ;-)


But seriously, that guy - the one Glenn refers to -  is very astute and could go far as a cognitive scientist imho.