Survey Says…

Not too long ago, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication in association with George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication released the results of a survey of Americans’ opinions on global warming. The survey focuses on the breakdown of opinions by political affiliation. It divides the respondents into four categories: Democrat, Independent, Republican, and Tea Party. All respondents were first asked their party affiliation. Then they were asked whether or not they consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement, and those who said “yes” were classified as Tea Party members regardless of political party affiliation. Hence those classified Democrat, Independent, and Republican include only those who selected that political party affiliation and did not consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement.


The survey reveals a lot about the association of political beliefs and opinions on global warming. As expected, there are notable differences between Democrats and Republicans, with Democrats more likely to believe it’s really happening and that it’s caused by human activity. Independents generally fall between Democrats and Republicans on the spectrum of opinions (but not universally). But the most striking result of the survey is that Tea Party members have opinions which are far outside the range of beliefs expressed by others, drastically different even from those who consider themselves Republicans. Often, the difference between Tea Partyers and Republicans is vastly greater than the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Clearly the Tea Party members are “out there” — most certainly not in the mainstream, or even close.

This is well illustrated by responses to the question whether or not people need more information before making up their minds about global warming. More than half of Tea Partyers said they don’t need any more information:

It’s also striking, and frankly quite disturbing, that Tea Partyers consider themselves so much better informed on the issue than those of other political affiliations:

If we compute accumulated totals (the sum of all respondents who gave a given answer or any earlier answer), we see that full 85% of Tea Partyers consider themselves either “very well informed” or “fairly well informed” about global warming, whereas only about 65% of other party affiliates do so:

Before you begin to suspect that perhaps Tea Partyers are more scientifically savvy than others, consider that more than half of Tea Partyers “strongly disagree” with the statement that human beings evolved from earlier species:

Clearly Tea Party members are not more scientifically savvy than others, they are less so. So too are Republicans, although scientific ignorance doesn’t affect their views on global warming as much as it does that of Tea Partyers. But before you praise Democrats and Independents as scientifically enlightened, consider that a cumulative plot reveals that only about 60% of them agree with evolution, a not very flattering number although not as pathetic as the paltry 50% of Republicans and 33% of Tea Partyers:

In fact most Tea Partyers don’t even think global warming is happening:

Although over 70% of Democrats and Independents think global warming is happening, they may base that opinion on poor information. For instance, a cumulative plot shows that over three fourths of Democrats were strengthened in their belief by the recent record heat waves:

While the record heat waves are minor evidence, they’re not really very strong evidence — hardly enough, in my opinion, to justify strengthening one’s belief in a significant way. Yet they appear to have had a significant impact on the opinions of Democrats.

Very few Tea Partyers are aware that the vast majority of climate scientists believe global warming is happening. This is a question for which there is only one “right” answer — the first — and while only 18% of Democrats and Independents got it right, and a mere 10% of Republicans, only 1% of Tea Partyers know the truth of this matter:

Even among those Tea Partyers who do express belief, most think it’s not caused by human activity but is a natural phenomenon:

Yet another very disturbing result is that Tea Partyers have so little trust in anyone on the issue of global warming. In fact, they consistently trust all sources less than any other political affiliation. For example, only half of Tea Partyers express either “strong” or “somewhat” trust in scientists. The source most of them — barely over half — trust on global warming is NPS, the National Park Service! Less than half of Tea Partyers even trust NOAA about global warming.

A curious result is how much trust on global warming goes to CDC (Centers for Disease Control) from Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. I certainly trust them for medical information, but not for global warming info.

Far more discouraging is the low level of trust by Tea Partyers in EPA. I might share some of their distrust of MSM (mainstream media), but the Tea Party distrust of President Obama on global warming has a political, not a scientific, basis.

About these ads

50 responses to “Survey Says…

  1. A german Blogger claims that a yale paper http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1871503 shows that deniers are more scientifically educated than the realists.
    http://notrickszone.com/2011/09/26/yale-paper-shows-that-climate-science-skeptics-are-more-scientifically-educated/

    The Trick is, when judging the scientific literacy, not to ask questions about evolution. So the evangelical biased “sceptics” seem more literate than they are.

    • Rob Honeycutt

      Ah yes, NTZ. Pierre aspires, as far as I can see, to be the Anthony Watts of Germany.

    • Strange how deniers don’t find it peculiar that not a single major scientific institute agrees with them……yet deniers are somehow more educated on the matter? Despite only a handful of publishing climate scientists agreeing with them also? I would say 90% of the people I have debated with over the years have attacked it from the political angle. It’s an attempt at one world government, socialism, a concocted myth/scam invented simply to attack the right, to destroy our western way of living. Always conveniently forgetting that there are already conservative led countries that support the science .e.g Germany.

      It’s always a scam where scientists are perpetuating the myth so as to get more funding. Yet, in the same breath, deniers often turn around & say the science is not settled, we don’t understand enough yet, more research is needed before we can make a decision. Yet to have more research & to understand it more, means taxpayers have to pay the scientist more to understand it further…..hence the never ending cycle of the science is not settled/the scientists just want more grant money. Do they know that Roy Spencer uses tax payer funded satellites?

      It’s the tea partyers I hear this one world government so often from. Yet, somehow they forget the world is not a united place. It’s highly unlikely the Russians, Chinese, Nth Koreans & Arab states are just going to hand over all their wealth & power to a few American/European elite.

    • Intrigued, I had a look. Even a glance at the abstract reveals that’s not what the paper says.

      The paper finds that pre-existing ideological values are what determines acceptance of climate change risk in the public, not scientific literacy – which in and of itself makes next to no difference and is notable only for not being a linear ‘more science’ = ‘greater perception of risk’ type relationship. A basic level of technical knowledge only serves to accentuate your existing position – making you either more concerned or more dismissive.

      Me thinks a german Blogger falsifies his own theory. But strangely fails to notice.

      p.s. – Good data crunching Tamino – pictures always help illustrate the numbers. Especially noticing that the more of a climate ‘skeptic’ you are, seemingly the less you are inclined to think you need more information – not sure how that fits with my definition of sceptic though…

    • If you look at the “Denizens” page at Judith Curry’s site you’ll see that a lot of the commenters there are indeed highly qualified in one scientific field or another, and Curry herself quite often points at this as evidence that the “skeptics’” opinions should be taken seriously. There is a kind of irony in this as any reference to the “expertise” of climate scientists is invariably dismissed as appeal to authority. But to me this just seems to prove that being highly qualified and scientifically literate in no way prevents people spouting unscientific nonsense on subjects outside their own speciality and, as Jay mentions, the fact they consider themselves highly scientifially literate makes them less rather than more likely to question their beliefs.

      • What Judy and her minions fail to comprehend is that expertise matters. This really makes me wonder if they’ve ever been expert at anything. You don’t go to a plumber for chest pains, regardless of how smart he is.

      • Well Judy gets rather irate if her own expertise is called into question. I suspect her denizens would also be very quick to assert their own authority if the subject strayed onto their particular area of expertise.

      • Judy’s grip of the science is feeble at best. She’s been caught in some absolute howlers. I certainly wouldn’t call her an expert–maybe on hurricanes, but nothing climate related.

        [Response: I disagree. Her publication record indicates considerable expertise in some climate-related areas. Also, healthy skepticism is a hallmark of an open mind and crucial to scientific progress.

        However, I find her level of skepticism decidedly unhealthy, and her gullibility about some things (particular the Murray Salby affair) is very disturbing. Therefore for me, her credibility in the climate science "debate" is nil. But I acknowledge her expertise.]

  2. I think your graphs on Q233 & Q238b are off – they seem to be accumulating the values rather than just showing them.

    [Response: The text before the 2nd graph for Q233 (there are two) indicates that it's referring to cumulative totals (but I probably should have indicated that in the graph title), and the text before the graph for Q238b does likewise.]

  3. Tamino,

    I have a question about the accumulated percentages. Starting at “Not very well informed”, the error bars overlap with 100%. I think that with uncertainties of proportions, when the point estimate is far from 0 and 100%, it looks normal but when the point estimate is close to those boundaries, the distribution becomes skewed to the left or right because it can’t cross those limits. I’m not questioning the quality of the graphs and I know this question is tangential to the topic, but I think it would be an interesting statistical issue to briefly discuss.

    [Response: Actually they don't. The error bars don't go beyond 100% (which is of course the upper limit), and in fact the confidence intervals are skewed. If you click on the "Q54" cumulative graph for a larger, clearer view you can visibly note the skewed error bars at "Not very well informed" for Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.

    Estimated fractions were computed using a straightforward frequentist (unbiased) estimate, but confidence intervals were computed from a Bayesian posterior distribution for the estimated fraction.

    And you're right, it is an interesting topic to discuss...]

  4. I might share some of their distrust of MSM (mainstream media)…

    The Tea Partyers distrust on mainstream media includes entities like Fox News?

  5. Well, I distrust any survey with which George Mason University is affiliated. I don’t dispute the obvious fact that most Americans are ignoramuses, mind you.

  6. This is discouraging. AGW may be the most important issue we and future generations face. You would think people would want to learn about it. The only thing hurt in not believing in evolution is the education of the children. Bad but not catastrophic. If AGW could be taught in schools it would take around 12 years to make a difference. But what’s the chance of the anti education t party allowing even that to happen.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Actually I have a theory that evolution denial is more than bad, that people actually die from it. It has to do with the development of strains of bacteria multiply resistant against antibiotics (“hospital strains”). This is a form of evolution, but if you reject evolution, then of course you also have no motive to prevent the reckless over-use of antibiotics that has produced these resistances… and indeed you see that, e.g., legislation against using antibiotics to make cattle grow faster is stronger in Europe than in the U.S.

      The same applies of course for pesticides: DDT harmfulness denial is helped by evolution denial.

      • i’ve generally got the impression that all but the most rabid evolution deniers are quite happy to turn to modern, devil-inspired, godless, communist medicines, when faced with the actual onset of disease.

        and if i were a more cynical person (bad ligne!), i’d suggest that their support of the ongoing overuse of pesticides and antibiotics is motivated by rather baser emotions…


  7. The Trick is, when judging the scientific literacy, not to ask questions about evolution. So the evangelical biased “sceptics” seem more literate than they are.

    The really important “Trick” is not to ask questions that require more than a high-school education. If you check out the questions asked of the study’s subjects, you will see that most of them are the sort of questions that might be placed on an exam to get the grading-curve started above “0″.

    In no way does that study consider levels of scientific knowledge anywhere near what is required for a solid understanding of the basics of climate-science.

  8. So the tea party people definitely don’t need any more information? There are many possible explanations. Here are two:

    1) The Dunning-Kruger effect…. or
    2) Its all a big scam.

    I vote for DK.

  9. S. Molanr:
    “Well, I distrust any survey with which George Mason University is affiliated.”

    GMU is weird: there seems to be a facade of normal university people in front of the the Koch+friends-funded core (Mercatus Center, etc; econ, poli sci, public policy, law school, I think).

    The GMU group under Ed Maibach is OK, and there are other reasonable people there. It is important not to overgeneralize about groups, because one must focus on the subgroups that really cause the problems.

  10. Horatio Algeranon

    It might make sense that NPS maintains credibility among some groups that is above that of NOAA and EPA, for example.

    The latter two groups have been the focus of “attacks” on their credibility (by Watts and others) and may therefore have come to be viewed by some as “politically tainted” and untrustworthy.

    NPS may be viewed as more of a non-partisan agency. With some folks, it’s not a question of “How much do they (EPA, NOAA, NPS etc) know about global warming?” but “How much do I trust them?”

    Then again, as Alice discovered, certain tea parties do not lend themselves to logical analysis, so Horatio would not really be willing to put money on this hypothesis.

  11. There’s always the problem of not being sure who you’re really working for, if you’re far enough down in the layers of the organization, or as the organization changes over the years.
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Ed+Maibach+GMU does look good.
    “Trust, but verify.”
    — R. Reagan

    “The Fact that You’re on Their Side
    Doesn’t Mean that They’re on Your Side”
    – Teresa Nielsen Hayden

  12. At least one other study has shown pretty convincingly that the “Tea Party” is basically just a re-branding of the activist core of the GOP — having been an activist for the Republican party during the Bush era was the best single predictor of tea party affiliation in 2011.

    So, these findings make sense. Basically, TP’ers are the most radical right-wing segment of the US political scene. Non-TP Republicans are by definition those who weren’t pro-Bush activists in the 2005-2008 period, and thus are the most moderate wing of their party.

  13. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15214080
    9 October 2011
    Brain ‘rejects negative thoughts’
    By James Gallagher Health reporter, BBC News
    Brain “Don’t worry, everything will be fine,” says the brain

    One reason optimists retain a positive outlook even in the face of evidence to the contrary has been discovered, say researchers.

    A study, published in Nature Neuroscience, suggests the brain is very good at processing good news about the future.

    However, in some people, anything negative is practically ignored – with them retaining a positive world view…..
    —-
    http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nn.2949.html
    How unrealistic optimism is maintained in the face of reality
    Tali Sharot, Christoph W Korn, Raymond J Dolan,
    Nature Neuroscience (2011) doi:10.1038/nn.2949
    Published online 09 October 2011

    “… However, highly optimistic individuals exhibited reduced tracking of estimation errors that called for negative update in right inferior prefrontal gyrus. These findings indicate that optimism is tied to a selective update failure and diminished neural coding of undesirable information regarding the future….”

  14. I wonder how much of the response to question 30 was driven by a projection-type mentality, where if a layman thinks he doesn’t know much about the science (or, knows about average), then maybe that means the scientists are split on the issue. I don’t really see any correlation to the question 54 graphs, but it doesn’t surprise me much that the fiftieth percentile was the most common one chosen.

    Definitely a lot of Dunning-Kruger going on here though.

    Interesting post, thanks Tamino.

  15. Tamino (or others who are statistically inclined), help?

    I took a closer look at the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication June 2011 report (http://www.climatechangecommunication.org/resources_reports.cfm) on their 2011 weathercasters survey, and it looks to me like the presentation (in the report) is painfully obscurantist, the %s are calculated the wrong (i.e. uninformative) way. Example: go to page 28 & see if you can tell whether an AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist has any more global warming smarts than one with no seal of approval whatsoever.

    Result, tentative:
    What I got from doing some beginner-level Google Docs spreadsheet calisthenics ( http://goo.gl/8w1fx – go down to line 18 (and don’t believe the fractional % stuff, since the report started with round ones).) with this “Certifications” data – and no, I’m not 100% sure I did it right, & I don’t know what the confidence intervals are, so take with large quantities of salt (or better yet, review it) is that yes, the AMS CBM holders are more likely than any other cert. holders to know which end is up, climate wise – and more than twice as likely to know, as those with no certification whatsoever – but even of these creme-de-la-creme folk, less than a quarter picked “earth is warming, mostly due to human causes”.

    American Meteorological Society Executive Director Keith Seitter is listed among the investigators on this NSF-funded study.

    So – did I massage the #s correctly? I don’t want to kick up a fuss if there’s pilot error; which there may be, the sample size summations are kind of off the mark.
    (N should be 433, & not hop out to 415 or 428)

    This group also surveyed weathercasters the year before; but for that report, presented only the Qs and some selected findings, not the dataset itself. (Hmmm; what does this remind us of?) And the GMU press release title was as innocuous as they get – “Weathercasters Take on Role of Science Educators; Feel Some Uncertainty on Issue of Climate Change”; where at NYTimes this story had two titles, one informative – “On Global Warming, Scientists and TV Weathercasters Are at Odds” and one lackluster – “Among Weathercasters, Doubt on Warming”)

    so…a more informed 2nd pair of eyes would be most appreciated; again, the outcome is found in the block starting at line 18 – for a given certification type, the % of its “certified” respondents that hold each climate position.

    My conclusion (if I made no spreadsheet errors): the AMS needs to revamp its certification process & criteria, since a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist really ought to have a clue about climate science.

    • Oops, I should have left my views out of this I guess.
      Update: I’ve now emailed 4C’s director and AMS’s executive director (listed as investigator on the report) asking
      (0 . if my analysis is accurate)
      1. Do you view these 2 findings as being of major importance, relative
      to the rest of the report?
      2. In your view, what are the implications of these findings, for AMS
      certification of its weathercasters?

  16. “Far more discouraging is the low level of trust by Tea Partyers in EPA. I might share some of their distrust of MSM (mainstream media), but the Tea Party distrust of President Obama on global warming has a political, not a scientific, basis.”

    The tea party are ideologues. Maybe the central tenet of their ideology is “get big government off our backs” or more specifically all government regulation is bad. So they frame most all issues in terms of will it increase regulation or not. This is why they want to abolish the EPA. It is seen as having too much regulatory power for an unelected bureaucracy. Regulations imposed by government are seen to them as imposing economic burdens on business that will interfere with job growth although that really means corporate profits.

    So they have fallen for a the corporate BS and are happy to play the role of useful idiots for those that enslave them.

    “This is well illustrated by responses to the question whether or not people need more information before making up their minds about global warming. More than half of Tea Partyers said they don’t need any more information ”

    When your mind is already made up then of course you don’t need any more information. The premise is always “is this government telling us what to do again”. They see it as yes therefore more regulation therefore the possibility of less corporate profits therefore reject AGW. Maybe dress it up the rejection with some fake science from the likes of Watts but even that is not necessary.

    Their strict adherence to their ideological position ends up costing them in many ways. The derivative market is highly unregulated and allows the likes of the Koch brothers to use oil derivatives to plunder the American economy pretty much at will. How about regulation of that? The casino banks like Goldman-Sachs and JP Morgan have wreaked untold misery here and around the world based on their selling of toxic (i.e. fake) securities. How about regulating them? Don’t want to regulate the fraud? OK then how about bring back Glass-Steagall to at least separate out the casino from the savers? “Sounds like regulation to me” so what then, just let the American people keep covering Goldman-Sachs and JP Morgans bad bets? These people are clueless but I guess it brings a certain amount of security to them being shackled to the corporate plantation.

  17. @ anna haynes. The problem as I see it is that weather forecasting and climate science are two different animals. If a TV forecaster wants to be a spokesperson about AGW they pretty much have to learn on their own. I’m sure some of those follow this site and I would like to ask them, does the term AMS meteorologist actually mean anything in the performance of their duties.

  18. Oh So ya think ya know regression analysis do ya?

    While we’re on the subject of the Tea Party the latest Tea party darling Herman Cain has been in the news lately due to his recent surge among the hapless lot of GOP presidential candidates. Cain is a former member of the banker crime syndicate having sat on the board of directors of the Kansas City Fed and served as its chairman. So he knows the story. He criticizes the Occupy Wall Street movement: ‘If You Don’t Have A Job And You’re Not Rich, Blame Yourself.’ In other words don’t blame the banks for accumulating ungodly amounts of capital when in fact he knows full well it is not the mandate of the banks to accumulate capital particularly in the larcenous manner that it is done today by the likes of Goldman-Sachs, JP Morgan, NY Bank and Carnegie to name a few, but rather to provide for the distribution of capital. So he’s openly shilling for his Wall Street buddies a fact that does not seem to bother your average Teabagger since by all accounts they would like to elect him.

    Cain has a degree in mathematics from Morehouse College (ML King’s alma mater) and apparently has an appreciation for econometrics. In a recent TV interview with Chris Wallace of Fox Cain explained his so called 9-9-9 plan i.e. 9 percent corporate flat tax and 9 percent personal flat tax and 9 percent sales tax. When Wallace pressed him on how he arrived at the 9-9-9 figures Cain would only say it was the result of a “very simple regression analysis” a point which we stressed several times in the interview. (maybe we oughta get him in here to help us with global temperature analysis). He would not release the details of the analysis nor who the economic thinkers were who actually did the analysis citing that he wanted to protect their privacy through from what he wouldn’t say.

    Check this exchange with Wallace:

    WALLACE: Let me ask you about this, though, you say that this plan would be revenue neutral, yet you would lose all these rates — you would lower all these rates, you would eliminate the deductions and we’d end up with the same amount of total revenue for the government as what we currently have.
    We went to your website to try to check this out. There is no explanation on your website of how you arrived at 999 or how these numbers add up.

    CAIN: Here is how we arrived at it. I had some of the best economists in this country help me to develop this plan. You know, my background is mathematics. It was a simple regression analysis. We took the government data and looked at how much tax revenue from personal income tax, how much tax revenue came from corporate tax, how much revenue came from capitol gains tax, how much revenue from the death tax. We added them all up and you do a simple regression analysis and say in order to reduce this much on corporate income, personal income and national sales tax, what should that number be if we equally break up those three buckets. It was a simple regression analysis.

    Yeah I guess that’s simple.

    Lets see what he finally releases but man you can just sense some blog entries at this site waiting to happen on this one.

    Here is the whole thing from Cooks and Liars dot com both video and transcript:
    http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/herman-cain-claims-he-doesnt-want-compromi

  19. The DK is strong with the TP for their mindhole.

    The TP if full of old white people who have all gone emeritus a very long time ago. Say circa 1850′s.

    Sounds like the group of people sampled was taken from the larger group of people who have appeared on past episodes of Jaywalking.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_of_the_crowd

  20. I’ve always sort of figured that the whole right-wing AM radio thing–the precursor of the tea party idjits–grew out of sports radio. After all, in US male culture, sports is the great equalizer–well sports and beer, anyway. A complete idiot will feel free to question the call of a professional to go for it on fourth and one at the 20 yard line, despite the fact he wouldn’t even know how to hold a football.

    Rush taught people they could be just as ignorant and arrogant about politics and religion, and now they’re branching out into science.

    The thing about these sports shows is that they aren’t reality based. Cubs fans talk about the World Series every spring, and denialists and creationists are always convinced they’re one scientific study away from disproving science.

    [Response: But there's a crucial difference: it's at least possible the Cubs could make the world series...]

    • WRT the Cubbies, you’re a man of more faith than me…

    • KM, Uh, no. You are not an English professor. You are wrong. I is a subject. Me is a direct or indirect object. Quit learning your language from Gilligan’s Island.

      [Response: I'm afraid KM is right. There's an *implied* verb "am" (to make the clause "than I am") which makes the pronoun the subject of the clause and requires it to have the nominative case. (Mum was an English teacher)]

      • Hmmm … the question is more “is ‘than’ a conjunction or preposition in this context” … ‘

        Both sides are wrong … or right …

        http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/than-I-versus-than-me.aspx

        That’s a good read on the issue … :)

        English is actually much more complex than physics, statistics, or climate science, after all!

        FWIW I’m with Tamino on this, fill in the blanks and use the subject pronoun “I” because “than” is a conjunction in this context (made explicit by adding a verb to the clause as he did, and “WRT the Cubbies, you’re a man of more faith than I am” is perfectly grammatical English, and dropping the verb doesn’t give you the right to change the pronoun …)

      • Kevin Stanley

        I suppose if Ray meant that Tamino is made of a higher percentage of “faith” as compared with the percentage of Tamino made of “me,”–i.e., Ray in this case–then “me” is an object and grammatically correct.

        Which would beg the questions: how much of Tamino is faith? And how much of Tamino is Ray?

        Moderator, please feel completely free to ditch this inane thought….

      • trick – complete the sentence:

        you’re a man of more faith than me am…

        Sound right?

      • Horatio Algeranon

        Actually, many of the folks on Gilligan’s Island spoke pretty good English (the Movie Star, Professor, Mary Ann, The Millionaire and his Wife, the Skipper — even Gilligan, some of the time).

        The notable exception was the “last” Japanese soldier from WWII with the cheap Japanese imitation swiss army knife/radio (and he had an excuse, cuz he learned English by watching Hogan’s Hero’s). And he wasn’t a regular, anyway, so he doesn’t really count.

        Horatio learned everything he knows about English in general and poetry in particular from show’s like Gilligan’s Island — and Green Acres

        Waaaaatts Up With That’s the place to be
        Denier living is the life for me
        Denial spreading out so far and wide
        Keep Real Climate, just give me that contrary side

        No, Real Climate’s where I’d rather blog
        I’m allergic to the stupid fog
        I just adore a climate science view
        Darling I love you
        But give me some physics too

        Da da duh da da:
        The defiance!
        Da da duh da
        The science!
        da da duh da da
        The attacks!
        da da duh da da
        The facts!
        You are my wife
        Goodbye RC life
        Watts Up With That, we are there

    • Frankly, I cannot imagine saying “John is taller than I”

      But surely you can imagine saying “John is taller than I am”, and oh my god for your own reputation I would hope you can’t imagine saying “John is taller than me am”.

      Essentially you’re facing something that’s common in English, shortcutting in verbal communication.

      In other words, dropping the verb in informal verbal communication. You still shouldn’t change the pronoun just because you don’t want to burden yourself with the horrific energy-sucking task of saying “am” at the end of the sentence.

      You can also get away with it in informal written communication. Like ones that you write to yourself or friends on paper, never to be shared. As opposed to the internet.

      But when writing, outside Physics journals … fuhgettit.

  21. Just a quick note — it looks like some of those tea-party yahoos are going to be protesting Michael Mann’s appearance at the GSA annual meeting in Minneapolis tomorrow.

    See http://www.minnesotansforglobalwarming.com/m4gw/2011/10/michael-mann-is-coming-to-town.html for details.

    Any folks here who are attending the GSA meeting might want to check out that denier freak-show (and maybe snap a few pix to share with the rest of us).

    It looks like there will be a two-part freak-show — the first will start at 1 PM, and the second part will start at 5, outside the main (north) entrance.

  22. It would be interesting to get these people on the couch and find out what made them the way they are (TP). Are they at the low end of the intelligence bell curve? Is it a genetic predisposition? Were they abused as children? Did they “catch” it from their parents? Do they have some form of mental illness and does any particular one predominate? What personality traits are they most likely to have? Were they converted Democrats?

    • Jbar,
      It need not have anything to do with intelligence. It may have more to do with the ability to deal with stress. People who have great anxiety over some inevitable aspects of life (death, sickness, failure…) may convince themselves that they are somehow immune to these facts of life.

      Google Terror Management Theory.

  23. Hank

    Brain ‘rejects negative thoughts’
    By James Gallagher Health reporter, BBC News
    Brain “Don’t worry, everything will be fine,” says the brain

    I feel that it would be remiss not to remind everyone that Douglas Adams (all hail!) wrote about this subject in his famous monograph, back in 1980.

    Bernard J. Hyphen-Anonymous XVII

  24. We have a winner! Dhogaza. Or maybe Mr. Stanley…
    I fear I’m too subtle. I have Rabbett disease.
    Of course the “conjunctionists” (of which I’m one) are correct on this issue – we have the consensus.

  25. I was wondering–following that linked article with its Easter bunny example–when (and how) the Rabbett was going to make his appearance in this thread.

  26. Horatio, loved the Green Acres bit. Perfect!