Opportunity Knocks?

I happened on a blog post which denies the reality of man-made global warming. Unlike most such posts, it actually presents reasons for this opinion.

The reasons given are quite familiar to most of us, and certainly not valid. For instance, #1 is the “CO2 lags temperature during ice ages” canard. But in spite of the litany of old, tired long-debunked arguments, it seems to me entirely possible that this person might be amenable to reason. Which makes me wonder … could we change her mind? So I wonder whether or not there’s merit in commenting there, in order to set the record straight.

If any of you choose to do so, I have some suggestions. First, be polite and professional, since the goal is not to tear down her arguments (too easy!) but to change her mind.

Second, rather than attacking all the false arguments at once, approach them one at a time. It’s probably best to start with #1. Another suggestion: don’t let her change the subject from #1 to some other point just because #1 gets “too hot” for her to handle. If you present a potent argument, then either she can decide that you’re correct and that #1 is not a valid objection to man-made global warming and say so, or she should present further evidence to bolster that particular argument. Only when #1 is thoroughly addressed is it a good idea to move on to #2.

Addressing the points one at a time, it will take quite a while to get through the entire list. But it just might manage to change someone’s mind. I don’t really have the time to spare, but for some readers it might be a good exercise in persuasive argument. What do you think — is it worth a try?

176 responses to “Opportunity Knocks?

  1. I don’t have time either, but according to http:xkcd.com/386 I might not be able to resist.

    However, for the sake of intellectual honesty, it would be polite to inform her of this post.

  2. On the other hand, she’s a chemtrailer. This might not be the best opportunity.

  3. Uhh, given the rest of the web page, i suspect this may not be a fruitful exercise, except for practice.

  4. Perhaps instead we should discuss the horrific plunder of future generations by our delaying actions today. But failing to act, we are dooming future generations to greater heating.

    After we halt emissions and warming – that would be an excellent time to discuss her belief in skeptical science.

    If I live in a house where I smell smoke and feel heat, I will exit the house and pull the alarm – then maybe check to see what the cause is.

    Inactive skepticism is not very smart… Maybe that was her intention – misframing the issue. Or more charitably, it is very difficult to accept the moral responsibility for harming the future of our children.

  5. Oh dear. I clicked on the major reference she cites at the bottom of the post. it’s a thesis submission by a journalism student. One who’s not apparently learned to check with the science when the science is the issue.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that both of them think that the Vostok ice core gives information up to ‘the present’. Meaning last week. I don’t need the practice.

    • Oh, dear. That thing was a piece of shite. The Wegman report? Really? Morano’s list of 700? Really? The OISM petition? Really?

      If I had been his advisor he would have gotten a big fat F. This is fine as an op-ed, but it is not a piece of journalism. It’s a piece of something else…

  6. So what is a good argument for the Vostok Ice Core lag? I understand the trigger part, but once the warming is underway the two should track fairly well because CO2 and Temperature are mutually enforcing, until the sensitivity becomes too low and the two stop increasing around 300K..
    This is my attempt to do the analysis this morning:

    Slight lag of between 0 and 1 units (at 1500 year intervals), considering that the data are on a reverse time-line. It could be just this one triggering delay that is at the root of the lag controversy.

    Is there another data set at shorter intervals? The Temperature is decimated finer but not the CO2.

  7. It could be interesting/fun to gather once a week, designate a ‘target’ and then go at it together to 1) practice non-violent communication skills (the person who gets angry, loses and is ridiculed ;-) ), 2) clean up the mess one blog at a time (yes, Sisyphus comes to mind), 3) make a good impression on lurchers.

    It should be done in an entirely transparent way, of course. It’d be the blogosphere’s version of the climate rapid response team.

    3-5 people every week would do the trick.

  8. Ishtar Babilu Dingir

    Some very amusing comments here. However, many of you are making the classic mistake of assuming that I’m banging the anti man-made global warming drum because I want to continue as before, polluting the planet. Whereas, in truth, I’m environmentalist and a shaman that works with the spirits of the Land, and I’m as worried as everyone else about what legacy we’re leaving to our grandchildren, which is why I’m leading a local chemtrails campaign. (Please see Reclaiming Our Blue Skies Over Glastonbury Tor: http://ishtarsgate.wordpress.com/)

    So like you guys, I believe in treating the Earth with all due respect and care, much more so than man has been doing since the industrial revolution and particularly since the Victorian age, when he separated himself from Nature in this thinking. In other words, I believe that man is damaging this planet beyond repair through his greed and lack of respect for the Earth, and it terrifies me. However, I don’t believe he’s the sole or even the main cause of planetary warming or cooling cycles that have happened over hundreds of thousands of years, and that’s what I make a case for in my post.

    Added to that, I do believe that man is much more easily controllable if he can be made to feel guilty, and now that the Christian church can no longer so effectively fulfill that role, we have to turn to another story which science is kindly providing. The Fall from the Garden of Eden resonates in our race memories and this is effectively the psychological motif that is being played on here.

    If you want to reply to me, I won’t be coming back in here again, but you’re welcome to comment under my blog post, so long as you take the time to read my post with an open mind, address my Six Solid Reasons Against Man-Made Global Warming, make a reasonable case for your beliefs which are not purely based on computer modelling and don’t rely on dumping down a load of links from Skeptics ‘R Us as the last commenter from here did.

    Many thanks for your attention and interest,

    In Peace,


    [Response: Nobody I’m aware of assumed you want to continue polluting the planet. As a matter of fact I supposed the opposite, which is why I thought you might be amenable to reason.

    Your mention of the use of “guilt” to control humanity is an interesting proposition. It’s also completely irrelevant to the truth or falsehood of man-made global warming, which is a purely scientific issue.

    As for your six solid reasons, we’ve heard them before. Every one of them is mistaken. If any readers here care to expound on the fallacies of your claims, I hope you’ll listen.

    The Skeptical Science website contains a wealth of information about the science of global warming, including refutations of many (if not all) of the fallacious arguments on which you base your belief. Your offhand dismissal of it bodes ill for your open-mindedness. You’d be well advised to read it. It’s the work of an actual scientist, not the shallow thinking of someone working on a B.S. in journalism.]

  9. Ishtar, even though you’re not commenting I hope you read this.

    many of you are making the classic mistake of assuming that I’m banging the anti man-made global warming drum because I want to continue as before, polluting the planet.

    Many of us are not assuming that at all (see Tamino’s response). We are assuming that you have let yourself be played by people who want to continue as before, polluting the planet, because they either make a lot of money that way, because they have some ideological bent that becomes problematical to adhere to when AGW is a reality, or because they derive some psychological pleasure from being contrarian.

    By investing your energy to support these people and their lies, you unwittingly help coming about that which you want the least.

    Of course there is some guilt involved when you accept the premise of AGW. That’s only logical. Remove all religion in the world, and guilt feelings will still be there. But you can start to feel less guilty by becoming part of the solution (not by doing what other tell you, but by following your own heart and logical conclusions). Guilt is not the end, it’s the start.

    I will now go to your blog and see if I can help dispel some of the points you put forward that deny the reality of man-made global warming.

    Don’t let yourself be fooled! :-)

  10. I find it interesting that she dismisses (in the comments in her blog) links to Skeptical Science, insisting that arguments be made “in your own words”. I’ve run into that before — it seems like it’s supposed to be a proof of one’s own sincerity or something, but it happens to shove all the work on you to make them understand against their will.

  11. Well, I’ve given it a shot. Who is our tag team for next week? :-P

  12. If you read through this lady’s blog post you find that she is nothing more than a corporate shaman for the mining industry. To wit:

    “I also had to write a sustainable section to Rio Tinto’s website because now mining companies could not get a license to drill a mine anywhere in the world without producing an extensive plan for the surrounding area which had to tick every box under corporate social responsibility that now included ecological concerns.”

    On Rio Tinto:

    Those 6 reasons are nothing more than some diversionary clutter for her real agenda: AGW is overhead that makes the mining companies have to tick off some more social responsibility boxes. So what we have is a fake skeptic of the shamanistic kind.

    All is not lost however. Notice she has a link to tarot readings. So if you’re involved in futures trading particularly if it involves the mining industry you might benefit from one of her readings.

    • What you’re doing now, is invite her to dismiss everything others have written at her blog to convince her that she’s repeating long ago debunked disinformation.

      And besides, you’re just assuming a lot. A ‘corporate shaman for the mining industry’ wouldn’t have written the thing you quoted.

      I just think she’s very susceptible to the ‘government is trying to control our lives’ argument that white, middle-aged, male libertarians love to espouse. Whereas if she thinks things through, she’ll see that the danger of AGW (when true) will actually make life pretty awful for a lot of people. I don’t think that an increase in weather-related catastrophes and a diminished agricultural output will be a boost for personal freedom.

      • I’ll try to be quite for a while, but…

        That’s the huge irony of the situation isn’t it? Those who don’t want government controlling anything have no idea what kind of draconian governments are likely to take shape when food security becomes a common issue. It’s likely to be an issue eventually regardless of any climate changes, but I can’t see how shifting climate zones can be good for industrial agriculture.

  13. Well, things aren’t looking too good on the opportunity front. Tamino made a big effort to answer to the first of six debunked canards on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon blog, but Ishtar’s Gish Gallop reply isn’t reflecting fair play much.

    As I’ve just written:

    Hold on a minute and see if I get this straight. Tamino takes a considerable amount of time to go into your point #1, gives you a very thorough explanation in his own words of the subject, and that subject only, and you…

    1. Do not go into his arguments, but leave the subject of point #1 altogether and switch to various other themes (another perceived scandal of the -gate type, sea level rise, recovery from LIA, CO2 is plant food, sea causes CO2 rise, in short: a Gish Gallop), and
    2. Do not do that in your own words, but quote profusely from others and give 5 links for further reading.

    That’s not entirely fair, I’d venture to say. One simple question:

    There have been quite a few good responses to the 6 points in your top post. Have they made any impression at all? Are you willing to concede that one or more of your stated points are factually incorrect or not worded accurately? Or do you still stand by each and every point?

  14. Don Gisselbeck

    If the threads on contrailscience.com are any indication, chemtrailers are immune to reason and logic.

  15. My response to chemtrailers is that the most dangerous chemical emitted from airplanes is carbon dioxide.

  16. And the door slams shut: “I’m not taking any more comments from the members of Tamino’s blog because what started off as a good discussion has become abusive and rude and I’m having to trash most of the comments that are coming through.”

  17. Well, I see she has stopped comments, saying that the influx from here has proved her case for her. I have never seen anyone recover from deep Dunning-Kruger.

    I wrote: “Uhh, given the rest of the web page, i suspect this may not be a fruitful exercise, except for practice.”

    As an analogy, I offer the words of Molly Ivins, from 2003:
    The next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president, please pay attention!

    • It was a good exercise! Where do we go next week?

      My last comment (after two perfectly civil other ones never appaeared):

      I’m not taking any more comments from the members of Tamino’s blog because what started off as a good discussion has become abusive and rude and I’m having to trash most of the comments that are coming through.

      Could you please post the abusive and rude stuff so lurking readers can make up their own mind? I for one have tried to remain civil in my attempts to show how the six points in your piece aren’t correct or exaggerated, and so of all the others I’ve read (especially Tamino).

      is always how people throughout history have tried to control how other people think.

      It seems to me that you are running a serious risk yourself of letting others control your views on AGW, as you will not admit that any of your six points are wrong. And that after extensive and civil explanations of why they are wrong, in people’s own words (a condition that didn’t seem to apply to yourself). You are doing everything you accuse others of. It’s unfair, and yes, IMO rude too. Too bad.

      Yup, I lost my patience a little. -1 for me!

  18. Well I tried (nicely)
    And then several hours of typing and polite discussion and fair comment got deleted :(

    ho hum.

  19. She’s not taking more comments.

    “I’m not taking any more comments from the members of Tamino’s blog because what started off as a good discussion has become abusive and rude and I’m having to trash most of the comments that are coming through.”
    I will ask her though, to let one or two of the worst ones through, so her readers can assess.

    • My comment there:
      Ishtar, if you’re receiving rude and abusive comments, that *is* a bad thing.
      I have a request – could you please allow one or two of the more rude&abusive ones to appear (and then tell us which ones these “select” ones are)? Because if one of Tamino’s regular commenters is making rude comments here, I’d like to know who’s doing it (and see the evidence for myself), and I think Tamino would like to know it too.

  20. I think there is a deep lesson here, as well as the shallow one not to waste your writing efforts at sites which can’t tolerate argument.

    It is that it is not people’s cultural leanings than make them accessible to argument. Just because somebody cares about the environment doesn’t mean they have the capacity to have their opinion swung one way or the other on a particular issue based on evidence.

    Some people reach the conclusion that one should never argue publicily on evidence, but simply play along with emotional and symbolic argumentation, which is obviously the road which is paved with good intentions.

    I disagree with this approach strongly. I think the Randy Olson approach is essentially dishonest and can’t work. Science is what it is, not what it ain’t. That means MOST PEOPLE CAN’T DO IT.

    I conclude, therefore that 1) one should address evidence to people capable of weighing evidence 2) one should try to increase the size of that population 3) one should try to increase the influence of that population and 4) (this is the Randy Olsen part) try to incerase the trust the remainder has in the scientifically capable segment of the population.

    To pretend that a typical person who has bought into some nonsense is reachable is a waste of our limited time and energy.

    One can see the tenacity of climate nonsense in some smart well-intentioned, honest and not especially market-libertarian people like Dyson or Alexander Cockburn. It’s very difficult to get people to switch opinions abruptly, especially if they have already staked out a position. How then can we reach people who don’t understand science and show themselves gullible on other issues? I think directly taking on people who are wrong in venues which they control and which influence few others is not a good idea.

    Read, but respond at SkS, not on the skeptic’s site. Once they have announced, they are going to be hard to reach. And they do get rewarded by adulation from each other, not contrary grumbling like this…

  21. Lessons:

    A blog post somewhere on the Internet said some stuff that was a bit dumb (no Ishtar, you can’t claim superior intellect and completely invert the meaning of Caillon 2003, claim that atmosphere doesn’t govern temps and so on and so on).

    Blog post author probably didn’t appreciate a bunch of chaps (?) turning up explaining that blog post and thus blog post author was a bit dumb.

    Even though I didn’t say anything (though I did suggest that I was slightly gay for Richard Alley – jokingly) at all that wasn’t nice I suspect she thinks I was rude for making comments that pointed out that her blog post was wrong.

    It was a waste of time for me and I don’t think she had the time to field comments either.

    She’s had the last word saying that we were abusive and suggesting that’s typical behavior of our like, and we’ve no way of being able protest innocence – not a problem seeing as Tamino is probably the only person that reads her blog, but still not a good outcome.

    If you’ve got the inclination, efforts are perhaps better directed toward writing original stuff for the mainstream press (even if you start small and local), rather than addressing errors in someone’s odd blog.

    [Response: I don’t read the blog, just happened to find that post. Nor shall I. I sincerely thought she might be amenable to reason. I turned out to be wrong.

    It was an experiment that failed. Happens all the time.

    Perhaps what irked her most is that when she replied to my reasoning with a “Gish gallop” of changing the subject, I responded that until we resolved the issue of my comment (her “reason #1”) it was improper to change subjects — but that I’d be happy to discuss all her concerns after we finished with “reason #6” on her list. Her strategy of changing the subject when her faulty reasoning was exposed is a natural reaction for one who has no evidence to rely on.]

    • I hope you don’t think I was complaining Tamino, I was a willing accomplice to your experiment and had no particular expectations.

    • If we were to take on a weekly experiment, we might do better by following Jay’s advice and posting in the comments section of a major media outlet. Some place that’s contested, and not completely occupied by denialists. Maybe NYT’s green blog at http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/ ?

      • Actually, I was thinking about the stuff that goes above the comments – the bit people might actually read.

        But hey. it might be a hoot to take on the comment threads at one of the right leaning (sorry) media outlets.

  22. Experiments are good.
    (as is learning from them)

    The “how to have a rational discussion” flowchart (link)might have been good to bring up, as a standard to aim for; it’s likely she hasn’t seen it.

  23. Suggestion/request: could we have a weekly experiment, please? IMO it’d be a constructive use of time, especially if each was followed by a “lessons learned” writeup.

  24. Sorry I missed this ‘experiment.’ I’m sure it would have been interesting to participate in.

    I’ve still only seen one person hooked on denialist claptrap change his mind. It’s great to know that it can happen, and of course it’s possible–even likely–that most who do, prefer to do so quietly in order to save face.

    Too bad it didn’t happen this time.

  25. Tamino on Ishtar
    “Perhaps what irked her most is that when she replied to my reasoning with a “Gish gallop” of changing the subject, I responded that until we resolved the issue of my comment (her “reason #1″) it was improper to change subjects…”

    SkS (Albatross) on Pielke Sr:
    “With all respect, you are going off topic and obfuscating.”

    Pielke Sr on SkS:
    “we will just have to disagree and move on”

    Anyone else notice any similarities here?


    Doubtless there is much research into the psychology of denial and the effectiveness or otherwise of strategies to combat it, but I’m blissfully unaware of any of it.

    Perhaps others could suggest a subject expert who might be induced to guest post on influencing strategies?

  26. I was at a climate talk, and one of the questions was, “Some people tell us one thing, and some others tell us something else; how do we know?”

    It’s a simple question, but unfortunately, if you can’t follow the line of logic from radiative physics (absorption and emission), through integration (calculus) over an atmosphere that varies in composition and density, and be able to overlay various feedback mechanisms in their relative strengths, the answer is: You can’t know.

    Even if you can do all these things, it is easy enough to make a mistake along the way and come to the wrong conclusion. (Example, Dr. Schneider made a mistake (circa the 1970s) in calculating aerosol forcings and decided that we were in danger of a cooling event.) I thought long about how I would try to convince someone in this position, but in the end decided that at some point, they would always be able to find something that I said that they did not understand, and would be able to use that lack of understanding to claim that I was wrong.

    I did not get the impression that Ishtar is that technically skilled. So, here we have someone who probably does not understand the physics, but is absolutely convinced that the majority of people who do is wrong. For the masses who are not scientifically trained/skilled, it all comes down to an appeal-to-authority argument, and all they have to do is reject the ‘authority’ in order to believe whatever they want.

    What’s the saying? Something to the effect that humans are feeling creatures who think, not thinking creatures that feel. I have decided it is unwise to underestimate people’s capacity to be irrational. There is already plenty of evidence that change is underway, and we are the cause of it, yet there are still plenty of people who refuse to see it.

    Too long winded, but coming to the point, it may be that the best that we can do in keep chipping away at the Undecideds in the hope of preventing them from being lured into the camp of denial. To that aspect, it is important not to become ‘silo’ed in sites like this; better to push the message out. You’ll never know if maybe the exchange with denier sites will prevent someone from being misinformed, even if you can not change the mind of the site owner.

    You have to lead with evidence and science fact, but not be surprised if that isn’t successful.

    • Actually, Chris, I disagree somewhat. You can judge by internal consistency as well.

      If someone is telling you that it’s warming, it’s cooling, but if it were warming the sun would be doing it, and anyway we can’t know if it’s warming because all the thermometers in Greenland were smuggled to Haiti by climate scientists padding their grant opportunities with UN bureaucrats who want to impoverish the Third World and destroy democracy and free enterprise just to enrich Al Gore through a bogus cap-and-trade scheme–well, clearly all of those can’t be true.

      Granted, not all denialism is quite that crude–but a surprising amount of it is. Monckton, for example, argued warming and cooling simultaneously, and even Spencer–one of the least wild-eyed–frequently displays a suspicious divergence between what his papers claim and what he claims for them.

      • Agreed. I remember hearing, while I was in grade school in the early 1970s, about the possibility that humans were affecting the climate by altering the composition of trace gases, and was comforted when an adult poo-pooed the idea. However, as my education progressed through college, I found that the idea was consistent with the science in the textbooks, and all countering hypotheses were not. So, consistency of argument counts strongly for some people.

        Though, I think that is not enough for a couple of reasons. Not everyone is capable of detecting inconsistency within their own belief system, and even if they are, there are so many counter-AGW hypotheses that people can hold to one that is, somewhat, consistent within itself, and disregard all others. It isn’t just climate issues, there are those who adamantly declare that they believe in a minimal government, but also do not believe that there should be any cuts to the military or social security. I think consistency of argument is only effective for those whose need to feel that their world-view is accurate outweighs the tendency toward denial, in the psychological sense of not wanting to believe bad news, that we all have.

        When it comes to that point, when you demonstrate that someone’s beliefs are inconsistent with either other beliefs that they hold, or inarguable facts, how they react will be a response largely governed by emotion. For that reason, your argument is more effective if you can maintain a discussion at a low state of emotional arousal. No matter what you do, some will simply derail from the rational argument guidelines I saw someone link above.

        The fact that arguments about the iris effect self-regulating the climate and arguments about how much climate has changed in the past, (therefore there is no reason to believe it is us now), can be presented on the same stage and both be well-received by the audience somewhat speaks against the need for people’s beliefs to be consistent.

        P.S. Love Arch Stanton’s nom de plume. (Or is that like really having the name Michael Bolton?) No matter.

      • I’ve decided that this inconsistency/one thing after another approach is a leftover from childhood.

        Other parents here have surely made the mistake of letting a 3 year old dress themselves. What happens? They put all their favourite things on at once. The rubber boots and the beach hat. The tartan pants with the rainbow striped socks. The winter warm pyjama top with the summer party embroidered jacket.

        None of it has any colour, pattern or function related to any other. And they are very, very pleased with themselves.

        Just like adults assembling assorted ideas and running them all at once or one after another never knowing or caring that none of it fits with any of the rest.

      • Adelady.

        Your analogy is an interesting one, and similar to one that I have used – “op-shop intellectualism”…

      • Adelady: “None of it has any colour, pattern or function related to any other. And they are very, very pleased with themselves.”

        Hey, wait! I’m a physicist. I still dress myself that way.

    • While I agree with much of what you say, Chris, I also wonder if people really want to “believe whatever they want.” People also want to be right, and that’s what keeps the door from closing completely. There are probably situations where someone has resisted a persistent message for years, and some event triggers an epiphany that suddenly connects all the dots. In other words, even though it might seem to be ignored or “irrationalized,” if the evidence keeps being piled up publicly, along with the developing theory, it may provide the necessary context for sudden understanding. A rejected theory, after all, never really goes away.

      • We are getting cross-posted; just to avoid confusion, yes, I agree. It comes down to where the balance point is between the need to be right, and the need not to live in constant fear, which tends to crop up when some of the potential effects are mentioned. The balance point will vary between individuals.

        For some, simply having a doctor tell them they have cancer is enough to swing them into an aggressive, what-do-we-do-about-this mode, for others they don’t want to believe until the doctor shows them, ‘This is your X-ray; this is your cancer.’, and for others, even that is not enough and they cling to a belief that it will spontaneously remit. The latter make a nice analogy for the future-technology-will-save-us crowd.

      • “… someone has resisted a persistent message for years…”

        They don’t even need to resist. Remember the old advertising ‘rule’. People need to see or hear a message 23 (or some similarly surprising number) before they even recognise the name of the product or service.

        And that’s in a commercial environment where there are no seriously competing messages. Sure there are competing shampoo and toothpaste brands, but no-one’s running a campaign saying that lank, smelly, greasy hair or bad breath and ugly teeth are better than using any shampoo or toothpaste at all.

        So for something like science, let alone unwelcome scientific evidence, the message has to be delivered much more often before it is heard at all. Then it has to compete with opposing messages – which don’t need to be coherent or believable, they just have to be negative. And then, eventually, some people, and only some, will acknowledge that the science message is right. Then they have to accommodate having been wrong before. Then they have to decide what they might do about it. If anything.

        For my money, it’s a lot easier to go with making renewable energy (and public transport and all those other things) cheaper and more attractive. To be honest, I’m more interested in people using better products and power sources than in whether they understand or agree with scientific evidence.

        Of course, policy makers are a different kettle of fish.

      • That would be seeing or hearing a message 23 *times*.

      • Nice essay on Ishtar’s blog, DSL.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      It’s a good question, and that’s why it is important that there is a network of people in everybody’s local community that are being trusted, but also know the truth about climate change.

      This is where amateurs like the people reading blogs like this become important. And no, you don’t have to be able to write out the relevant equations on the back of an envelope. Just a broad understanding of the science and its history, a bit of the physics, and it would help to have insight into the mechanisms of denial and its funding too.

      The sad thing is that the denialists have succeeded in destroying the network of trust in expertise that still exists, warts and all, in medicine. Re-building it is not easy.

  27. Ishtar Babilu Dingir listens to her heart.

  28. Chris O'Neill

    via anna haynes:

    “I’m not taking any more comments from the members of Tamino’s blog”

    Just wondering though, how does she know who the “members” of Tamino’s blog are? I think it’s just another demonstration of her arrogance.

    She appears to be a person with a far left wing political agenda. The problem with global warming for these people is that the damage it causes and will cause is less obvious than for the types of environmental issues they are normally concerned with (like poisonous chemicals, radioactivity, habitat destruction).

    I have read that global warming is a difficult issue to get people in touch with because it’s more abstract than all these other issues. So if they get the idea that global warming isn’t very important then there is an enormous supply of misinformation (as we all know) that they can use to justify their position.

    Perhaps they are limited in how much they can use this misinformation on climate science because it is mainly generated by those with a far right wing political agenda. But this Ishtar person demonstrates what is possible.

      • Horatio Algeranon

        From the wiki article:

        “One of the most famous myths[4] about Ishtar describes her descent to the underworld. In this myth, Ishtar approaches the gates of the underworld and demands that the gatekeeper open them:

        If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,
        I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
        I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.
        I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
        And the dead will outnumber the living.

        Horatio could be wrong, but that sounds a lot like zombie boosterism.

      • Yes Ishtar the Baylonian/Assyrian Goddess of the underworld:

        and Bab-ilu:

        from the encyclopedia britannica
        Tower of Babel story (in Tower of Babel (mythological tower, Babylonia))

        (The tower was) …never completed, and the people were dispersed over the face of the earth. The myth may have been inspired by the Babylonian tower temple north of the Marduk temple, which in Babylonian was called Bab-ilu (“Gate of God”), Hebrew form Babel, or Bavel. The similarity in pronunciation of Babel and balal (“to confuse”) led to the play on words in Genesis 11:

        How ironically apt.

        I guess one of the lessons learned from this misguided venture would be that the climate missionaries could improve efficiency with a more thorough background check on the targets of future proselytizing

      • “background check on the targets of future proselytizing efforts”

        a) Never argue with an idiot, they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience

        b) A Chemtrail believer is an idiot

      • Horatio Algeranon

        Speakin’ of the Babel

        “Whole lotta babblin’ goin on”
        — Horatio Algeranon’s diversification of Chubby Checkers’ “Whole lotta shakin goin on”

        Oh come on over baby
        Whole lotta fact-twistin’ goin’ on
        Ooo come on over baby
        Baby you can’t go wrong
        Don’t cha know we ain’t gobblin’
        Whole lotta babblin’ goin’ on
        Why don’t cha come on over baby
        There’s good bloggin’ tonight
        Wow Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
        Come over baby baby
        You can do the shammy alright
        Yeah we ain’t gobblin’
        Whole lotta babblin’ tonight
        Come on I said babble it baby babble
        Ooo twist-the-facts baby twist ’em
        Oh babble baby babble
        Yeah twist ’em baby twist ’em
        Come on over
        Whole lotta fact-twistin’ goin’ on
        Yeah yeogh
        Well I said come on over baby
        We really got Hansen’s bulldog by the stats
        Yeah we ain’t dabblin’
        Whole lotta babblin’ goin’ on
        Easy Now babble
        Ahhhh twist it baby
        Yeah you can twist one fact for me
        Ah come on come on baby
        Whole lotta babblin’ goin’ on
        Now let’s go one more time
        Babble it, Baby, babble ……
        babble it, Baby, babble ……
        Come on over, whole lotta babblin’ goin on

        ..and that’s the memo

  29. Hmmm… Maybe the problem is nobody tried to argue the importance of rotating multivariate lunisolar spatiotemporal phase relations or of spatiotemporal aliasing of differential solar pulse-position by terrestrial topology (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/15/shifting-sun-earth-moon-harmonies-beats-biases/).

    [Response: OMG! How could we have missed that???]

  30. Yes, the “Gish gallop” tactic of refusing to address or acknowledge specific counterarguments or evidence against your your claims, and instead attempting to change the subject to another claim supporting your position is pretty much an infallible indication of a person who is so emotionally attached to a notion that they are impervious to reason.

  31. I just posted on her blog, just about the claim that in the 90’s global warming was considered a crackpot theory. I do not consider myself part of Tamino’s blog, if anything, I am part of Steve Goddard’s blog and will be for years to come if the number of comments is the determining factor.
    I too had some hope for her post. 1. because it was a woman. 2 because of the simplicity of the arguments she used.
    It became quickly obvious to me that she was not interested in the truth or untruth of her assertions, or of the counter points made by those of you that responded with the scientific rebuttals to her positions.
    In reading many denier blog posts, I have started thinking that there are many people who really have convinced themselves that the reality is not the important issue. The KEY for some of these people is winning the argument. It does not matter how irrational the communication becomes, as long as they can feel that they bested the opposition, it feels really good. In all of my arguments with Steve and his core supporters, not once did he ever acknowledge that any point I made was valid, unless it co-incided with his point. Being as iI didn’t care whether I was right or wrong, i was quite willing to admit mistakes and continue pursuing an issue until it was adequately shown to me that the point I was making had some believable counter argument. Since some of his core followers have a much better understanding of the physics and math involved, i did not argue technical details, but logical consistency. Often the thread would end with Steve calling me an idiot (when he was in a good mood).
    I doubt that Ishtar cares a whit about whether ACC is a valid theory or not. it is her blog and she can post whatever she wants to believe and she can win any argument, and I believe that is the salient factor.

  32. Somebody just made a really good comment (information and tone) and Ishtar let it through. Kudos to her.

  33. Can this and Ishtar’s thread be saved, together, for posterity so that anyone unfamiliar with the Kafkaesqueness of internet climate change discussions can be pointed to this shining example?

  34. I just popped back out of interest. Apparently the indigenous people of the Arctic are using their ancient wisdom, which we have forgotten, and have ascertained that sun has moved, but Nasa is denying it.

    Hence there has been ‘some’ Arctic ice melt.

    I don’t think our friend Ishtar has a problem with climate change. I think it’s a deep rooted mistrust of science, technology and anything modern (except blogs) – and access to the refuge of alternative truths like spirituality.

    Once upon a time (I was young and foolish) I got into astrology and tarot and stuff – That’s what the the people I was meeting and finding interesting were up to – so it made sense get interested too. I think that’s the thing, you develop interests that help you get along with your peers.

  35. She says she’s a shaman. I guess that means it’s OK to rape the planet as long as you say a prayer while doing it.

    She’s not a shaman, she’s a sham.

  36. Gavin's Pussycat

    I just want to cry.

  37. She’s a contrail believer… Hopeless, guys. It’s better to speak to a wall, you’ll get more mental flexibility.

  38. For my part, the summary is:

    *This is an interesting exercise and probably worth doing again.

    *If it is done again, there should be some care about how many post to the other site. Clearly, the enthusiasm of response was a bit overwhelming for this site owner.

    This will matter less on popular sites where the author doesn’t feel the need to respond to every comment, and lets her/his readers handle the argument. On the other hand, I wonder if we should avoid sites where the primary intent is to stir up controversy, regardless of technical merits of the discussions, because good arguments get lost in the cloud of turbulence, and those sites tend to be popular. Could be a tricky balance.

    *Follow the rules for rational discussion. Politely point out when the author has walked away from an assertion they made, bringing up a new topic is the most common way this occurs.

    *Give the benefit of doubt regarding the author’s intelligence and intentions, and let the reader decide which argument is more plausible when it reaches the point of something silly, like, the sun has moved, unless you really want to give a short course on gravity, inertia, orbital mechanics. It is very easy to fall into the trap of believing that because someone disagrees with you that they must be stupid or malevolent.

    Personally, I know some intelligent, really nice people, even some technically knowledgeable, who do not believe that humans are causing climate change, and that it will lead to a difficult future. They just don’t connect all the dots.

  39. Ishtar’s latest reply:

    “[…] Eye witness reports about the sun, stars and moon “moving from where they should be” are coming in from all over the world now, and not just from the Inuits. The Inuits also report an extra hour of daylight and also the sun setting in the wrong place. This sounds to me more than anything that could be created by refraction.

    “Unlike me, DSL, you seem to be willing to believe unquestioningly what official bodies like NASA tell you. However, as a former journalist, I have experienced at first hand the censorship that journalists are often put under. Anything like the Earth changing its tilt to such a degree that the Sun and stars would move to the “wrong position” would definitely be subject to a D Notice, “in the public interest”. […]”

    Have any sailors out there noticed drastic deflections away from tide chart predictions?

    • You might ask the our host, he is an astronomer by avocation.

      [Response: I don’t know about sailors noticing tidal irregularities. But I do know that astronomers monitor the positions of celestial objects with such precision, and so regularly, that any deviation of the position of the sun or moon, or of the tilt of earth’s axis, which is even a thousandth as large as would be noticed by native peoples, would have been noticed by astronomers worldwide — professionals and amateurs alike. The entire astronomical community would be buzzing — nay, screaming.

      And I have enough connections in the astronomical community that I’d have heard about it. No attempts by governments or NASA or anybody else could possibly keep this concealed.

      The idea that the sun or moon are in unexpected positions, or that earth’s axial tilt has shown large unexpected change, is nonsense. Complete, total, absolute, unadulterated nonsense. Those who believe it have gone off the deep end.]

    • As an amateur astronomer, I can report that the Sun, Moon, planets and stars are just where they are supposed to be. Panic over. You don’t need to ask Nasa to check – a small telescope and some planetarium software will do.

      Clearly Ishtar has gone right off the deep end – hyperskeptical of anything official like NASA, yet she’ll swallow any old paranoid rubbish whole without chewing. Then put out the “there’s nothing official so it must be censored” line. Does that line of reasoning mean the Moon is definitely made of green cheese? After all, I’m sure NASA deny it…

    • That “Inuit” story sounds very much like a distortion of something I recently read (but can’t find anymore): apparently, some places in Greenland are reporting longer daylight, likely due to melting of the ice.

  40. Pete Dunkelberg

    If you are looking for a site that might be worth another experiment, try physorg.com next time they report climate research. A site not owned by a science rejector should be worthwhile. Later, for fun, evaluate commenters vs Ishtar Babilu’s commenters.

  41. Shall we go on her site and goad her to see just how batshiite, tinfoil-body-armor crazy we can get her? I mean, think of the entertainment potential…

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Hardly entertaining if it disappears into the black hole. And nothing like that has the power to amaze me anymore. I reserve my sense of wonder for things deserving of it.

    • Rob Honeycutt

      Bad comment, Ray. I’m surprised that Tamino let this through given the tone of the original post.

      • I’m not surprised. Tamino tends to be tolerant. Funny that Ishtar didn’t mention Tamino’s comment about the other objectionable comment though, nor how some regulars responded to it. Instead she chose to use it to paint with a broad brush.

        Confirmation bias or just selective truth?

  42. Having had a bit of a read through the remainder of her website, I think this “experiment” in reasoning with an AGW sceptic was one which was doomed to fail from the start. There’s nothing on there which indicates a willingness or even a rudimentary capability to rationally assess complex scientific arguments and evidence!

    There were a couple of well reasoned posts there giving her accurate information and pretty much everything she said in response could be paraphrased as “well I don’t believe you, so there”.

  43. The rules of logic have little influence on people who make decisions with their hearts. Despite the fact that they may use “scientific” arguments to defend what their heart tells them is right, using logic and science to convince them otherwise is a task somewhere between Herculean and Sisyphusian. Some progress may be made, but sooner or later one hears “but we must keep our minds open” meaning: “I cannot accept your argument because my heart tells me otherwise”.

  44. Hello, newbie here.

    Great post Tamino and friends. Popcorn-worthy in fact.

    I look forward to your next “outing”. Perhaps, I’ll join in.

    Next time, just stay away from blogs that cover “chemtrails”, HAARP and major conspiracies. Too far gone IMHO.

  45. Don Gisselbeck

    You don’t need a telescope to demonstrate that the earth’s axis hasn’t shifted. Just take a 15 minute exposure of northern star fields and compare the result to any old textbook star trail picture. (Of course a chemtrailer would claim the government had swiched them out -I’ve seen such claims on Youtube.)

  46. I tried to explain that from the perspective of the Inuit the Sun (and other celestial bodies) has indeed moved, but that it’s caused by a change in the way the light from the Sun is refracted in the (warming) atmosphere.

    From this link:

    “Essentially, as climate change warms the atmosphere and alters wind patterns, hot southern air is moving northward. As we know, hot air rises over cold air, which causes a very complex atmospheric structure with different air densities. The molecules of the lower cold air are much more dense, whereas the molecules of the upper hot air are expanded and more diffuse, and each have different “refraction indices”. This literally means that light bends differently through hot and cold air respectively, which causes objects in the sky to change their shape and position, especially at the horizon.”

    After that I received a personal mail from her saying that she had enough of the badgering, it was too much for her to handle and “any further messages I get from you or any of Tamino’s followers will be trashed without reading”. What else could I do but apologize and promise I wouldn’t comment anymore?

    Next time we’ll have to agree who will be our missionaries. I mean, how many people did go over there to practise non-violent climate science communication? 5? 10? Unfortunately Ishtar won’t tell us how many, and how many of those have been rude and abusive. Those commenters would lose the game.

    [Response: The number which Ishtar claims were “rude and abusive” is vastly greater than the number who actually were so. I think she regards a simple statements like “your argument is fallacious” as hostility.]

    • “…it was too much for her to handle…”
      was very likely entirely true, just not quite for the reason she gave. There is a psychological term, cognitive dissonance, that probably applies. People sometimes go temporarily a little nutty when presented with information contrary to beliefs they hold. It is a toss of the coin if they respond by changing their beliefs, or respond with anger, delusion, or denial. For some, that coin is not evenly weighted. The emotional state up to that point counts for a lot as well. She was probably a little freaked out, and a little threatened, at the sudden attention her quiet little blog was getting.

      Oi, just took a look to get a relative count of comment posts (looks like this post was anomalously high in count), and I see she thinks that because the earth tilted 25 cm (I thought it was like 17; no matter.) , that it could have shifted enough to cause the appearance of a sun-shift as reported by the Inuit. So, I was puzzling over how large a shift, in cm, it would take to cause that sun angle shift, and how large an earthquake that would take (produce?), or how many smaller ones, and how that would go unnoticed, and … and suffered my own moment of cognitive dissonance. Which I have resolved by deciding that her beliefs are free of any constraints imposed by the laws of physics as we understand them.

      • Indeed. a shift in sun apparent altitude (ignoring refraction) of 1 degree requires a movement of Earth’s axis directly towards or away from you of about 69 miles (60 nautical miles), or 111km. If the 4th largest earthquake ever recorded moved the Earth’s axis 25cm (lets assume that number’s right), then it would require 444,000 equivalent earthquakes, all moving the axis in exactly the same direction, to move the Sun in the sky just one degree. That’s twice it’s apparent diameter in the sky.

        I think we might have noticed…

    • Rob Honeycutt

      Tamino said… “I think she regards a simple statements like “your argument is fallacious” as hostility.”

      This is very common with someone like Ishtar. She’s trying to present herself on her site as a person of authority whether or not we see her as such. With her audience she is, and that is her whole base. That’s her history, her experiences, her lifestyle, her business, her source of income… When a bunch of people come over from a site like this who clearly have a great deal more background in the subject matter she’s chosen to do a blog post on and start making comments challenging her, that undermines everything she has. It’s going to be extremely threatening.

      I even think this is part of what goes on with Anthony Watts and his crowd. They’re threatened by people who know more than they do. It’s the whole “intellectual elite” thing.

      It’s a huge challenge for scientists to figure out how to effectively communicate complex climate issues without eliciting a fight or flight response from people who don’t want to hear what’s being said.

  47. Gavin’s Pussycat (October 16, 2011 at 5:01 pm) wrote:

    It’s a good question, and that’s why it is important that there is a network of people in everybody’s local community that are being trusted, but also know the truth about climate change.

    Evangelism does have a history of success. ;-) I was heartened by an example of this in our local press. A columnist (who is part of a Maryland right-wing think tank) wrote about science and included a whopper about the recent CERN CLOUD experiment. (Science in Flux) I sent off an LTE that was not published, but two other letters (Thing 1, Thing 2), that IMHO were better than mine, were. We don’t know whether any minds were changed, but I think that this is a positive indication that there are people in this particular community who will stand up for the science. The comments section of the original opinion piece and letters were also lively.

  48. Seen and gone. Facts are apparently taboo. Maybe this author thinks we can pollute the seas but never the skies, although if the atmosphere had the density of water it would cover the earth a flimsy 10 metres thin.

  49. I think Tamino should have perused the rest of her site first, and thought a little more about whether she’d really be amenable to reason. All that transpired since just shows that no, she isn’t really.

  50. Didn’t there used to be a saying to the effect that you are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts? What ever happened to that saying?

    It would seem that objective reality has fallen out of favor.

  51. I teach. It’s hard for me to give up on people.

  52. I just got three notifications, two of which were very clear logical responses to her rather irrational responses, the third was her closing off the discussion. On her site those two comments were not posted.
    On the surface this might look like a waste of time or failure, but the fact that she had to cut off comments, and that she asserted that it was because of rude behavior indicates to me that on some level she realizes that she did not have control over the outcome and had to end it before she had to confront her numerous inconsistencies. I did not see anything that was more rude than some of her flippant comments.
    Just the fact that she had to stop comments possibly means that she will at some point in the future “change her mind” about this issue, and this incident may be a factor in that. Especially if she knows that she stopped comments not because of rudeness but because she couldn’t figure out any way around the arguments that were presented to her.
    I commented on another post about guilt, and she edited out some of the most important parts of my comment and then responded to just the parts she let through. I re-commented, just including what I thought was relevant, and I am wondering if she will post that.

    • Just the fact that she had to stop comments possibly means that she will at some point in the future “change her mind” about this issue, and this incident may be a factor in that. Especially if she knows that she stopped comments not because of rudeness but because she couldn’t figure out any way around the arguments that were presented to her.

      Good point, with which I agree. Let’s hope it works out that way.

      • Rob Honeycutt

        I don’t know about that, Neven. I think she thought she adequately addressed Tamino’s comments. The confirmation bias is strong with this one.

  53. Kevin McKinney makes one last, valiant attempt to talk reason to Ishtar, but he gets in return, “the Milky Way is moving” and “COMMENTS ON THIS ARTICLE ARE NOW CLOSED.”
    But it was an instructive experiment, and I’d be very interested in trying another.

    • Two last attempts, actually–I responded to her response by pointing out (politely, of course) that in addition to NASA’s monitoring of the heavens, there are thousands of other astronomical observers, both professional and amateur, who could not help but notice any significant shift of the Earth’s axis. (And all of ’em equipped with Facebook, Twitter, email and all the rest.)

      I suggested moreover that, if we accept her statement that the Fukushima quake caused a 25-centimeter shift [in Earth’s axis? phrasing was unclear], then any quake large enough to induce a shift sensibly affecting climate seems VERY unlikely to have been unnoticed by the rest of us, either.

      But she preferred to let that one languish unmoderated.


  54. > Didn’t there used to be a saying to the effect that you are entitled
    > to your own opinion, but not to your own facts?
    > What ever happened to that saying?

    That was just an opinion, it turns out.

    Ask your local shaman; details available at a low introductory price …

  55. Yes, she didn’t allow my response to her claims about my being a NASA-bot and agenda-driven propagandist. Sigh.

  56. Some people will never admit that they are wrong.
    I’m guessing it’s a loss of face sort of thing.
    Maybe it’s considered to be sign of weakness and could possibly mean that there’s a chance they could be wrong about other things.
    Beats me….
    However, I have personally witnessed friends of mine after obstinately arguing about something, wait until a period of time has gone by and very quietly change their mind and pretend there was never a confrontation of any sort in the first place.

  57. I’m really not sure why Tamino brought up that woman’s arguments or how her version of the usual dumbo arguments differed from the welter of other dumbo arguments. Was it the sense that the woman was sincere?

    “Sincerity” is a useless trait since people can convince themselves of complete bilge. And do. Her argument at essence consisted of just enough stray words to keep her prejudices from standing naked.

    As for the shaman gag, come on.

  58. Some kinds of jobs require rapid assessment of people’s credibility or other attributes, because spending too much time on the wrong people takes away from time spent usefully.

    1) Venture capitalists see huge numbers of business plans, they talk to a small fraction, give a 1-hour meeting to a smaller fraction, go beyond that with less, and fund even fewer. An occasional task for a consultant might be “go spend a few hours with X and tell us if we should bother with a meeting.”

    2) Savvy R&D managers train people to assess credibility all the time and to recognize people that subtract value from meetings by causing confusion.

    3) Salespeople need to assess whether or not a prospective customer is worth spending a lot of time on. I certainly valued salespeople who would bring me in real prospects, wasn’t too happy with the cases where the customer had a preferred vendor, there was *no* way they were going to change, but they brought in hopeful competitors to lower the price.

    Put another way, unless one has infinite time, one must quickly assess the likelihood of productive discussion, lest one play endless whack-a-mole off in irrelevant corners. For instance, take a look at this and do a quick assessment.

    On the other hand, maybe it is more useful to know that Presidential Candidate Herman Cain is well-connected to the Koch brothers . I wonder what views he has on AGW…

  59. I believe you, truly. But in a world where real women are actually hit all the time, I wouldn’t be cracking jokes about it. I’m still not sure why Tamino is letting these comments through, when, even if he believes you that it’s only a joke, as your words are liable to be used against his blog…Tamino feel free to delete this comment if you delete the rest of it…

    [Response: The discussion has been all over the place, but that’s how discussion is sometimes.

    I quite agree that violence against women is disgusting, alas it’s also one of the more common and most reprehensible aspects of human society. So let’s not suggest that any more, even in jest. Come to think of it, let’s not jest about violence against men either. Notice to all: that “joke” is out of bounds.]

  60. Rob Honeycutt

    DSL… You might see if you can contact her directly. She might be a lost case (the chemtrail folks are generally pretty far gone). But she might be approachable in a format where she isn’t being taken to task publicly.

    I tried to post a comment showing her the very last paragraph of Caillon 2003 where they say the 800 year lag doesn’t apply to AGW and that got nixed.

    • I contacted her directly and asked if my post had been rude or abusive. Fortunately, it wasn’t, but she said that she had felt “invaded”. My comment was merely “nit-picky” (I asked her to clarify her point #2, about CO2 not affecting Earth’s surface temperature) and she had already decided not to publish any more comments from “Tamino’s army”.

      I replied by explaining why my question wasn’t nit-picky but instead central to the question of planetary surface temperatures generally. She didn’t reply.

  61. Sorry misplaced post see comment downthread

  62. Well, we saw an array of defensive reactions. Tamino’s detailed, polite, and carefully reasoned post received a dismissal without any actual reasoning, followed by a Gish-gallop subject change and a rather off-the-wall appeal to ancient wisdom. She didn’t post any of the “rude” comments that she received. Knowing the crowd that frequents the blog, I wouldn’t be surprised if she received a rude (or at least, snide) comment or two, but I imagine that most people were polite. But very often, people tend to blame the messenger. I suspect that the reasoned challenges to her point of view made her uncomfortable, and she interpreted this as rudeness. Sometimes people can be initially defensive, but still be impelled to think. I’m inclined to doubt that this will be the case here. I think that reasoned challenges to her point of view made her so uncomfortable that she couldn’t stand to read them, much less engage intellectually with the actual arguments.

  63. If you guys are looking for something to REALLY make your head explode read her suggested “in depth” resource for information on climate change.

    Warning, head vice required.

    • Here’s the link:

      A Logical Argument Against Man-Made Global Warming for the Layman by Eric Bays, June 2009

      Lots of OISM graphs in there.

      Some gems:

      “Global warming skeptics do not debate the greenhouse effect. Without the greenhouse effect the temperature of Earth would be about 10° F and the oceans would be frozen solid.1 Skeptics also do not deny that man is putting carbon dioxide (CO2), a GHG, into the atmosphere. What is debated is the effect increased CO2 in the atmosphere has on the system.” […]

      “The hockey stick was first refuted in 2003 in a paper published by Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick.17 In 2006 a committee led by renown statistician Edward Wegman reported to the US House of Representatives on the problems with Mann’s methodology. Wegman reported to Congress: “Mann’s methodology does not create the hockey stick out of whole cloth. Rather, it ‘mines’ the data to find it. If there is a hockey stick in the data somewhere, Mann’s algorithm will bring it back alive and magnify its importance.” Wegman stated that Mann’s errors were fairly obvious to an expert statistician.18″ […]

      “The IPCC states that solar variation is not the cause of the warming we have seen in the last 50 years. They base this position primarily on computer climate models.” […]

      “By one account, the absorption of CO2 by plants has increased by 2% over the last 50 years and is still rising. If it could rise by another 2% it would completely offset manmade CO2 emissions.57 Hundreds of experiments have demonstrated that increased CO2 stimulates plant growth.58 On this basis, rising levels of atmospheric CO2 can be a huge benefit for mankind.”

      Here’s endnote 57:

      “57 Hans Labohm, Simon Rozendaal, and Dick Thoenes. “Man-Made Global Warming: Unraveling a Dogma.” Essex, UK: Multi-Science Publishing Co. 2004. P 94. The authors of this book are an economist, a chemist, and an organic chemist, respectively. They are self-labeled global warming skeptics who do not believe in man-made global warming. This book is a science-based argument against global warming, more in depth than this paper. The book is usually technical and spends a lot of time talking about weather patterns. Not for the casual reader.” […]

      X. Conclusion
      1) The IPCC is driven by politics and is not an objective scientific body. Its conclusions are untrustworthy.
      2) There is still scientific debate about global warming.
      3) Computer climate models are unreliable.
      4) Earth’s temperature has been warmer in the past. It is not hotter than normal.
      5) Changes in energy from the sun drive climate change on Earth, not carbon dioxide.

      Therefore, global warming has not yet been proven.


    • This Journalist’s paper is worth addressing since it seems to have influenced a layperson (its targeted audience) and after all aren’t many of us commenters here lay people?

      I’ll start off.

      Chapter I (intro)

      Why mention in THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE that global average temperature has not risen over last decade and then later go on to comment: “Some people will argue that a 10 or 15 year time period is not long enough to gauge a climate trend, and they would be right.” (pg 20).

      I would also add that since the paper has been written the statement is no longer true…

      …an appeal to the “heart”.

      • (cont.)
        Chapter I

        Second sentence:

        “Did you know that the poles of the planet are gaining about as much ice as they are losing?”

        This is statement is not even close to being true: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/global.daily.ice.area.withtrend.jpg
        (Source home: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/ )

      • (cont)

        Chapter I, sentences 3 and 4:

        “Did you know that for 420,000 years changes in the Earth’s temperature have happened before changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide? These are not things that you are likely to learn by listening to the mainstream media.”

        Actually as a lay person I did. However I would agree with the 4th sentence as the MSM is not always the best source for accurate descriptions of any science related topic (even before you factor in Fox “News”).

        None the less, the third sentence is interesting (and more or less true) Please ponder also:

        -Did you know that in the last 420,000 years the global atmospheric CO2 level has never been close to being as high as it is now?

        -Did you know that before humankind ever existed there were forest fires?

        -Addendum to my previous post:
        Yes, I did only cite a “sea ice” source and since most of the Antarctic is not sea ice, to be truthful I should cite a (GRACE based) paper to back up my claim. I am too lazy to do it as most of the readers are more or less already familiar with them. However if anyone asks I will get off my tush.

        Notice that Eric Bays cited no source at all for his whopper of a claim.

    • Thanks for posting the link, James. I should have checked it after I posted it. I tried to email the guy who wrote the article but never got a response.

      I got a pretty good laugh out of his explanation of the GHE:

      “Here is the basic idea of the greenhouse effect. When sunlight hits the earth it warms its ground temperature. The warm earth then emits infrared radiation to cool itself. This escaping radiation is absorbed by greenhouse gasses (GHGs) in the atmosphere. These gasses do not absorb most of the incoming shortwave radiation but do absorb most of the outgoing longwave radiation. The cooling earth warms the atmosphere, which then radiates some of that heat back down to the earth. This is called ‘the greenhouse effect’ based on how a greenhouse can warm up when its door is closed. Another analogy would be, ‘the car in the parking lot effect.'”

      I think he left out a leading sentence to this paragraph that says, “Okay, I’ve spent the last 45 minutes googling this and here’s what I’ve figured out…”

  64. Missed this when it happened, but it has been an interesting read all the same! It is an absolute classic of its type. The responses to the well-thought-out posts by Tamino and Neven near the beginning, for example, are good examples of why the term “skeptic” is too loosely applied everywhere. It cannot be accurately applied to somebody that rejects anything that they feel uncomfortable with yet who unquestioningly accepts anything that makes them feel better. One way, denial: the other, confirmation-bias. Thus Tamino’s points regarding the partial role of carbon dioxide in deglaciation-associated warming are simply glossed over but then “THE SUN HAS MOVED, I TELL YA” is seized with glee!
    Cheers – John

  65. I’ve been reading all of Tamino’s posts for over a year now without commenting. As much as I love learning about the evidence fro climate change in Tamino’s posts, I have to say that this has been one of the most amusing and potentially useful posts. Why learn about the evidence if you aren’t at least going to try to convince people of the reality of climate change? I hope this becomes a regular feature of this site, more for us readers than for Tamino himself (let him keep doing telling us about the data).

    The real question (if anybody else is interested) is, what are the forums where we can be most effective? I try to look for recent posts on global warming with discussion links – most often CNN (anytime they post an article that mentions warming, there is a lively discussion). I have also chosen a couple of topics (volcanoes emit more C02 than humans, and there is no evidence warming is due to human activity) and do Google searches limited to the last 24 hours on those topics to find discussions that I can jump into. I have a post on each topic (referenced to Skeptical Science) that is just about ready to go whenever those topics come up. I rarely get a response. I’m sure I’ve never convinced the person making the initial post of anything, but at least others following the discussion see that the “skeptics” charges do not go unanswered.

    • I have “adopted” Forbes Pat Michaels page. There are diverse commenters from supremely out there to reasonable. Lately, he’s really been forcing it and not getting many comments which is just fine by me. When I have the chance I simply fact check one of Michael’s “facts” (there are usually many to choose from that are in error), and point out that it is in error, in the hopes that anyone reading the comments may realize he’s full of it…

    • “’m sure I’ve never convinced the person making the initial post of anything, but at least others following the discussion see that the “skeptics” charges do not go unanswered.”

      Exactly. Don’t let the lie stand, if you can help it.

  66. Pete Dunkelberg

    Must we repeat “800 years” without end? See comments here:

  67. Like many technical people, I can be somewhat blunt. This book is… um… persuasive in trying to work out how to win someone over with rational argument.

  68. Philippe Chantreau

    Funny how that post generated over 100 comments, which is not that common here at Tamino’s. I guess it probably stems from the deep distress felt by all those who are rooted in the rational thinking methods when they are confronted witthe the irrationality of those who live through and by their emotions. The difference is huge.

    We, the evidence based type, have a level of distrust for our feelings and emotions. We know they cause bias and affect judgement. We value the gut feeling that accompanies the well educated insights (these aha! moments) but we know these insights are to be treated like candidates, to be put through a gauntlet ot testing, so as to determine their true value. We are prepared to discard them, we consciously avoid the building of an emotional attachement to them.

    We are well aware of the power of evidence and have a deep respect for it. Evidence and rational thinking work. They accomplish tremendous feats. They save people’s lives against all odds: as an ICU RN, I am in a privileged position to see science and evidence based practice wrestling people away from the jaws of death almost every working day.

    The emotional types, however, trust their emotions and feelings. For them the gut feeling is the solution. It is basically the truth, unaffected by others’ influences, free of the pollution of the ambient confusion. It has that diffusely magical flavor of coming from a superior, instinctive plane of perception, sometimes to the point that it may feel as if handed down by a deity, spirit or whatever. Guidance comes from what feels right at the moment. Perception is reality. These people have a hard time to use maps because maps can not carry over to them all the subtle clues they get from visual perceptions, many of which carry an emotional charge; that is especially true when driving through a somewhat difficult to negotiate intersection. What will carry the emotional charge of danger, difficulty or refuge can not be represented on a map, but it is what these people chiefly use for navigation. That is why they can not readily use directions given by an evidence type, who will use street names, numbers and cold, accurate descriptions of the physical reality.

    Historically, this way of going through life was a perfectly well adapted evolutionary strategy.

    It works well in the court room, in political debates and almost all other interpersonal relations. It is indispensable when one works with animals. In fact, one could say that the only domain of application where it has become truly obsolete is our relationship to the physical world. Some are simply not well equipped to make the transition. Trying to convince them with evidence is pointless. They will be much more sensitive to how emotional you are presenting the evidence than to the evidence itself. If engaged in a discussion about any kind of physical evidence, the relation (and accompanying emotions) that develops at that moment with the interlocutor is much more important to them than the evidence. For them, the evidence is only an element in why their interlocutor feels the way he does, it does not have a tangible intrinsic value.

    I remember the time I was presented the generic mathematical relation between the sides of a triangle, of which Pythagore’s Theorem is a special case. The power of these equations left me in awe, it was a profound, shocking experience. I doubt that this can be epxerienced at all by the emotional type. On the other hand, they experience many sides of life with a depth and engagement that are inaccessible to me.

    The problem resides when it comes to relating to the physical world, which is, for all practical purposes, our daily objective reality, and does not care one bit for our emotions and feelings.

    • Phillippe,

      It is clear to me that emotion and rationality are essential complimentary ingredients. People mistake emotion as being some agitated state. That is true some of the time, but emotion is always the medium of any cognitive function. Studies of childhood development clearly show that a healthy and full emotional environment is absolutely necessary in developing an open and skeptical way of looking at the world. It is not that people like Ishtar are emotionally based in their outlook, it is that they have been severely damaged in their ability to process emotions so that they CAN’T function rationally. the Spock/Captain Kirk dichotomy is a myth that, in my view developed because people with severe emotional trauma in many cases act out extreme emotional neurosis.
      Check out the system of preschools in Reggio emilia. Conflict is not discouraged and emotional interactions are encouraged in developing what is essentially a scientific approach to learning for preschool children. Conflict is considered an opportunity to examine different hypothesis, and with non violent emotional reactions, they actually explore some complicated issues with much more intelligence than children even a few years older in most other environments

    • Interest perspective, and one I agree with, to a large extent. The point of difference for me is the formulation of “not trusting” feelings: as an artsie, I do trust mine–I just understand that they don’t over-rule objective evidence, and doubly not when operating in the context of ‘objective facts.’ (Scare quotes intended to acknowledge inexact terminology and thickets of potential philosophical difficulties, not to cast doubt on existence of the scare-quoted phenomenon.)

      Maybe it helps that part of my emotional makeup is a gut understanding that “I could be wrong.” (Since–objectively speaking!–I already have been, on so many occasions!) That takes away one leg of the D-K bipod, at least. . .

      I’ve always liked a quote from Fritz Leiber’s “Big Time,” in which a character says, more or less: “Only a poet has the guts to think and feel at the same time.” Naturally, the character speaking was a poet. . . Nonetheless I’d suggest we all need to be poets in this sense, since we need to rely on logical thought to determine the truth and upon feeling to motivate us to deal with that reality. (Ie., if we don’t “care” about the future, we don’t make the effort to, oh, say, write and moderate a wonderful (but time-consuming) blog about the statistical facets of climate change science.) ;-)

      (OK, now call me a suck-up! But I just thanked the RC crew yesterday, and I think Tamino deserves a shout-out, too.)

  69. Phillipe,

    Yes, well put.

    I hope Ishtar finds it.

  70. Ishtar erased all the comments that didn’t agree with her. Only nine comments are left, all those that agreed with her.

  71. The problem here is not that you have someone who lives by their “gut”, but rather that you have someone who is willing to lie to herself.

    As we’ve seen on WTF, you can lie to yourself with sophisticated “rational” analysis.

    A liar is a liar, regardless of how they couch or motivate or justify their lies.

    • Ray, you may dissagree, but I don’t think one can lie if one actually believes the falshood one is saying is true (even when one says it to oneself). They may however be repeating a lie…or even living a lie.

      Ishtar starts with “…now that the Original Sin of religious thinking has been mainly debunked.”

      She seems to have no concept of the boundries between factual based arguments and faith based arguments. I doubt “confirmation bias” is something she ever checks herself for.

      • Arch, the lies we believe ourselves are the most insidious. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was no less a lie for those who believed it than for those who wrote it–and their guilt is no less for their gullibility.

        Or as Mr. Twain put it more eloquently: “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

      • Couldn’t agree more with you, Ray. The worst deception is self-deception.

        UUs–OK, we UU’s, I’ll come clean–believe in a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning. And folks say that UUs are a bunch of spiritual slackers. . . some are, I suppose. . . but if you take the “responsible” part seriously, it actually imposes a pretty tough standard.

        One Ishtar, sadly, appears to fail–especially so, having “cleansed” the comment thread.

      • Ray, although your “Elders” example is a good one I think we should drop it before it draws the haters out of the woodwork.

        I think we disagree on 2 fronts. You mention “just as guilty”, and the other is the mere semantic definition of “lie”.

        Let’s use a more germane example: “Global warming stopped in ____”; obviously untrue because of the statistics involved in global climate, despite the fact that temperatures may not have risen in the short period cited. I would say that for someone like Dr Fredrick Seitz to say such a thing is a lie. He must know better. It would also be a lie for him to say “temperatures have not risen since ___” and present it with the implication of “AGW stopped…”, even though this statement is technically accurate. He knows better. He is intentionally deceiving. He is lying.

        However, were that flash in the pan teen “Ponder the Maunder” gal; darling of the Watts crowd a few years back (whatever her name was) to say the same thing may simply be an untruth as she was naïve; her honest intent (may not have been) to deceive. The degree of guilt (may not be) the same.

        Although we disagree and one of us may be wrong (in some cosmic sense), I wouldn’t say either of us is lying.

      • And Ray, I would agree that “gut” and “heart” can be used interchangeably in this conversation. I have used the term I hope that Ishtar would “hear”.

    • Interesting opinions.
      I kind of see it both ways. One of my major interests is self deception. I think there is a big difference between believing something that isn’t true because your information is incomplete or not accurate or wrong in some way. and believing something isn’t true by finding ways to rationalize it for ideological reasons. there are also lies based on severe trauma- IE the wife beater and the wife, or the drug addict.
      I certainly have had aha moments where I realized something I believes was not true, and had to make major changes to my view of the world. I am certainly open to being shown that ACC is not happening. But that would be because of some new theory that actually explained all the facts better than ACC, NOT that there was the largest conspiracy in human history, and every scientific line of evidence in every related field of science had been corrupted. In my view people who believe that have a serious psychological problem.

  72. Horatio Algeranon

    Speakin’ of the Babel

    “Whole lotta babblin’ goin on”
    – Horatio Algeranon’s diversification of Chubby Checkers’ “Whole lotta shakin goin on”

    Oh man that was hillarous!

    Maybe Kevin McKinney can come up with an arrangement for it and hey you got yourselves a hit!

    I remember the Jerry Lee Lewis of Whole lotta shakin’. Didn’t know that Chubby CHecker did it too!

    • Horatio Algeranon

      yeah, it’s one of those songs that a whole lotta folks sang.

      Elvis also did a version (naturally) .

      It was actually written by Roy Hall and Dave Williams. (Who?)

      As far as Kevin doin an arrangement of “The Babbaloneyans” (which is what Horatio calls his version), not sure he wants to stoop that low.

  73. Philippe Chantreau

    I see where you’re coming from Ray. I’ll only object that a sophisticated analysis can have only the appearance of rationality but be no more than rationalization. In this case it is simply an emotional response with more sophisticated means, not true rational thinking.

    • Philippe,
      The point is that we can fool ourselves with overanalysis (e.g. Dyson) or with “our gut” (Ishtar). You have to check both against reality. Humans are not rational animals, but rationalizing animals. That is the true importance of science–it provides a reliable check or our normally self-serving thought process.

      What we need to get across to people is that science is not a matter of trusting science, but of trusting the process of doing science…at least provisionally.

      • You’re right as far as that goes, Ray. But there’s more. I recall reading years ago that gullibility can be a two-edged, self damaging sword.

        What the research (survey, investigation?) showed was that car and insurance salesman were not generally dishonest or cynical or double-dealing. They believed the tripe they spouted.

        Most importantly, they were much more likely than people in other occupations to fall for a sales pitch for dodgy investments or other dubious products. It’s the habit of withholding judgment and not being swayed by ‘sincerity’ or ‘commitment’ of a salesperson or advertisement that distinguishes the sensible from the gullible.

        My feeling about people like Ishtar is that their real problem is intolerance of uncertainty. I’m perfectly happy to say I don’t know about something, or I’m willing to wait for more information even though I expect the result will come out a certain way, or, that’s amazing!! I never expected that.

        I’m starting to think that the latching onto conspiracy theories is a way of making sense of the world. It’s a theory of everything if you like. And it originates in unwillingness to admit lack of knowledge or skill – the well-known refusal of some people to ask for directions is the innocent, normal version of this, and also the avoidance of surprise or shock. Every new thing you come across fits neatly into the pre-existing framework. And if it all goes wrong it’s a matter of blaming some person or organisation for being evil.

  74. Really have to wonder about the effort thrown at what is apparent, from a minute or two of searching around that site, the hook for a woo merchant.


    With a schedule of fees:


  75. Ishtar reports:

    Alex, the comment you’re referring to were all from followers of one particular blog who I’ve banned from here for a) sending comments that were rude and abusive and b) creating a whole post on their own blog about me for the sole purpose of mocking and vilifying me, where one person said he’d like to hit me, and another said “we should all go over there and goad her, to see just how batshiite, tinfoil-body-armor crazy we can get her? I mean, think of the entertainment potential…”

    In that way, followers of that blog thus lost any rights to be heard on here and their comments were deleted.

    Can’t you people control yourselves just this once, for experiment’s sake? This way you make it really easy for Ishtar to close her mind and dismiss all the informative and positive information concerning AGW. You gave her an easy way out.

    • Yes! 1+

      Not the way to open minds or hearts.

    • So it seems that she’s taking comments again from people who disagree with her — JMurphy is doing an admirable job of talking sense. I wonder how she knows that JMurphy isn’t part of “Tamino’s army”.

    • Philippe Chantreau

      Entirely true! That was very, very stupid. This kind of stuff used to be common at Watts’ but even there, they now pay more attention to appearances. Blogging occasionally on SkS has taught me the value of restraint. I wish the moderation was everywhere as strict. This is unfortunately a consequence of the digital age: the ability to pipe your little voice without having any real contact with the person you’re addressing. One should never write anything that he/she would not dare say to an interlocutor when physically present.

    • Uh, Neven, unless she has figured out how to reverse causality, she is lying. Those comments came after she had banned all rational humans from her blog. It was all over by Saturday night. Maybe you ought to consult the evidence before believing a proven liar..

      • Ray, I agree that her behaviour was pretty awful, and I don’t believe in being ultra-nice to deniers as a tactic anymore. But just for this once to see what happens. And also as a game between us. The person who loses patience or starts sniding, loses. :-)

        Never mind, it’s of no importance. Even if all of us had been ultra-nice, we wouldn’t have changed Ishtar’s mind one bit. Let the warming do the talking. She’ll find out..

      • Neven,
        I simply do not consider denial of reality to be a philosophical position worthy of respect. If you look at my track record, no one is more solicitous or helpful to those who are sincerely trying–or even giving the appearance of sincerely trying–to learn. I’ve been accused of being a sucker for trolls.

        However, once someone has decided to reject reality, I see no basis for continued dialogue. Personally, I think the truth matters and should be defended vigorously, and I am not above using invitation to ridicule on those who invite ridicule by taking ridiculous positions. I don’t care if a substantial proportion of people share those ridiculous views–it makes them no less ridiculous.

      • Horatio Algeranon

        Unfortuntely, snake oil salesmen and other purveyors of nonsense are not only rarely (if ever) subject to rational argument, but they are also rarely held to account for the bogus claims that they make.

        And sometimes their words have repurcussions far beyond their own little isolated world.

        Someone who calls him or her-self a “journalist” has extra responsibility because the title lends them credibility among some members of the public (warranted or not).

        In Horatio’s opinion, these people actually should be called out on their nonsense and are certainly worthy of mockery (but comments about physical violence –against women OR men — are always way way out of line)

        Whether mockery or other criticism make any difference in the behavior of such folks or in how others view them is another matter entirely.

        At any rate, even if one did manage to convince such a person that AGW is real, not sure what can really be gained by having them acknowledge that (on their website or elsewhere) when at the same time they are reporting all sorts of goofy stuff : “Eye witness reports about the sun, stars and moon “moving from where they should be” and the like.

        Can such folks ever be credible spokespeople for what is at its core a scientific issue?

        Most people just tune out when they hear stuff that is clearly so far out of the realm of possibility that it is off in Never Never Land. And if they don’t just tune out, everything said thereafter becomes suspect: “Hmm, why should I believe this person on a scientific subject like AGW when they believe the earth is flopping around like a fish on the dock?”

  76. Who next? If he only had a blog (?), I’d nominate Ivar Giaever, the 1973 Physics laureate who figured prominently in one of Ishtar’s arguments, who resigned from the APS over global warming, asking rhetorically: “[H]ow can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?” (and somewhat inconsistently adding that temperatures have been “remarkably stable”). Elsewhere (Norw. only), he has answered himself that he doesn’t think it’s possible [to measure a global average temperature]. Between Tamino’s pedagogical skills and Giaever’s 82-year-old but Nobel-winning brain, it should be a five-minute teaching moment.

  77. So I managed to comment one time when Ishtar re-opened the comments thread. So no such luck on the second post. Here’s the comment she moderated out:


    In response to your previous comment, I am sorry to hear that many commenters were rude or abusive to you in a different blog. But it wasn’t necessary to eliminate every comment in this thread that didn’t agree with your point of view, so long as they were respectful. I know that not every post that was deleted was rude or disrespectful. I think it is also unfair that you own blog and its commenters are permitted to be rude and disrespectful to the scientists you accuse of fraud and peddling propaganda. But I’m glad that you allowed my previous comment (and I hope this one too) through moderation.

    Now in response to this post, Anthony Watts updated with the following:

    “I should make it clear that I’m not doubting that CO2 has a positive radiative heating effect in our atmosphere, due to LWIR re-radiation, that is well established by science.”

    It seems Watts’ on problem is that he accuses Gore and Bill Nye of setting up the experiment wrong. Other than the Climate Reality experiment, there examples of many other experiments that show the heating effect of CO2:

    For example on BBC:

    [Response: Please no embedded video.]

    On Mythbusters:
    [Response: Please no embedded video.]

    The HITRAN database which scientists from many fields use when they want to know what wavelengths of the EM spectrum are absorbed by certain gases:

    Finally, a long list of CO2 experiments recorded in scientific papers over the past one-and-a-half centuries:

    The practical application of this knowledge is that industrial CO2 lasers actually work, as do heat-seeking missiles. If we did not understand CO2 so accurately these devices couldn’t function. This also makes Watts’ accusation very strange. It Watts is correct, the Climate Reality experiment COULD have been run in an accurate way. So why even fake it in the first place?

  78. My last comment asking her for further information concerning some of her beliefs has been sent into the ether and I have finally been banished by personal email :

    “Murphy, I’ve published your Neptune correction but otherwise, I won’t be taking any more comments from you because I have no further time to waste on such boring and fruitless pedantry.

    I call that cowardice.

  79. The most intractable to any kind of engagement or argument are petitio principii declarations or pseudo-questions. Some questions have to be unasked.

  80. yep, Give her a question that she cannot answer and you don’t make it into the comments, not sure whether she is a fake sceptic or just an idiot, with the chemtrail gibberish, i will go with idiot,


  81. Ishtar blog,

    here ..2. It has never been proven that carbon dioxide drives temperature. But by exclusively concentrating on man-emitted carbon dioxide as the main culprit, scientists are missing so many other possible causes for warming and cooling cycles such as solar activity.

    and then she referred to BEST with


    why the contradiction Ishtar?

  82. Barton Paul Levenson tries another approach:

    Why, Ishtar, dear, you SHOULD feel guilty. You ARE guilty. Thanks to people like you, billions of human beings will starve to death when human global agriculture collapses later in this century–due to global warming.

    How do I know? Why, I’m a scientist who’s been studying this stuff for years. You, on the other hand, are like the person who never put two pieces of stone together in her life. But she goes up to a 30-year union stonemason building a wall and tells him, “You’re doing that all wrong, stupid!”

    You are helping the growing anti-intellectual climate which will collapse industrial civilization. You SHOULD feel guilty, Ishtar, dear. You ARE guilty.

    Have a nice day.


    1. I wonder how long this is going to stand.
    2. What will the answer be? “It’s exactly this kind of rude behaviour that makes everyone so certain AGW is a scam!”

  83. Someone who claims to admire the Inuit and, apparently, their shamans, should remember a scene from the recent film _The Journals of Knud Rasmussen_, where R. asks the shaman what his role is in the band he is with. He tells R. that his function is to ensure proper respect for the universe, so that his people can hunt and live in peace and not hunger. Consequently, if this Ishtar was really a shaman, surely she would listen more carefully to what the Inuit actually say (e.g. in _The World is Quicker Now_ – which is named metaphorically, of course) and not act so distorting; moreover, to actually study the world, not close one’s eyes to evidence …

  84. I like the original exercise, or in particular the variant that stresses non violent communication, and the attempt to learn something about what works and what doesn’t. I easily sympathize with those who are frustrated with deniers and of patience – but suggest that they just avoid participating in this exercise if it’s too difficult to hold a civil attitude. They may still be able to make cogent comments as part of post analys “what have we learned” here, if it’s something other than “idiots exist and some people are hard to reach” (because we know that, the point is to find out the parts we don’t know yet, like how to get some traction.

    My own suggestion would be that we NOT look at success in terms of total conversion experiences, as those are exceedingly rare. Think of there being a spectrum of beliefs about climate change – our goal is how to learn to shift people one notch closer to the evidence-based end. If they are in the middle, we help them see how the science makes sense. If they are more towards the other end, we plant a bit of doubt in their monolithic universe to make them just a bit less certain of what they are being told – a seed which may grow, or may not, but only slowly. My experience is that even when one scores a “hit” (makes a point that does to some degree sink in and affect future interpretations), often the person doesn’t yet admit that, and may not even know it yet themselves! (so we only know later, if we have ongoing contact to notice a shift). So one lesson is that we should NOT measure success by having forced them to agree that we are right and they are wrong – it just doesn’t happen more than rarely. One thing working against us is any need WE have to get validated (or have our rhetorical skills validated) by their expressing agreement now. The best we can hope for (in one installment) is that they feel a bit more open to considering that *maybe* what we say has some validity. We want to gently boot-strap the process of noticing other cracks in the crock they have been fed, and of their gradually opening to a more scientific interpretation (over months and years).

    They don’t get there if they feel they are being made wrong, or disrespected. If we have a need to make them wrong (even in polite but firm and somewhat patronizing framings), we just won’t get there – we are (in regard to the communication) ignoring all scientific evidence from psychology about how people’s opinions change, in favor of essentially magical thinking that if our logical arguments are strong enough we can paint them into a corner from which they will need to agree that they were wrong and we were right. It’s a charming fantasy, but rarely happens with humans (and this has been studied). To be effective (and scientific) about this endeavor, we have to reduce our expectation for rhetorical victory, and also leave them a “face saving” (to put it crudely but succinctly) way to begin to partially see another way of looking at things without feeling stupid and one-down.

    I sympathize greatly also with Tamino’s desire to go through the points one by one and not let them shift the topic until they concede each point. That style may be useful in a certain style of debate where the goal is NOT to change the mind of the other debater (give up on that), but to make points with an audience; this obviously only works where the other side doesn’t have control of the venue and audience so somebody’s own blog isn’t a very good place for that approach. Most folks here have lots experience in that venue, reading or participating. The current exercise is different – we are trying to learn how to reach and partially persuade the other party, not just impress third parties (tho that can happen too!).

    Given human psychology, latching onto a given point until the other side agrees they were wrong before moving to the next – is pretty much guaranteed in 99% of cases to bring out the worst in them. If you don’t believe me, think of how many times that strategy has worked for you in your life to date. Instead, you may need to be willing to “agree to disagree” at the point that you have slipped in some doubt of their other certainties, without trying to force them to admit anything. At best, they may agree to consider something as a possibility or alternative explanation for which they will observe future evidence – without admitting NOW that they were wrong. You have to wean them from their certainty about the propaganda they have ingested, and their defensiveness.

    Let me try another way of explaining. They have ingested some memes which we find harmful to the species, but at this those memes have become at least loosely associated with their self image. Saying that what they believe is wrong, is like saying they are bad/stupid, and they don’t want to believe that of themselves. So when you attack it head on, they actually tend to cling more tightly to that belief they they were before you started! It’s unconscious self defense. There is not magic bullet that will totally get past that, but the way to make progress is to NOT challenge their self esteem, but offer them a gentle way to still feel OK about themselves EVEN IF their opinion gradually changes. It’s a bit like treating those memes as ticks, to be induced to separate rather then burrow deeper (OK, that breaks down if you take it too far).

    A big piece is that they need to feel that you respect them even while disagreeing, so it’s not a contest of which primate in the band is going to wind up one-up on the other. And the best way to give them a sense of being respected, is to actually respect them. I know, that’s the hard part. For me the trick (if I can manage it) is to find some underlying aspect of them to respect, like the human desire to protect their family or the planet; and not focus on respecting their opinion. This means mastering some part of my own primate self first, and brings up opportunities for some self exploration of motive and payoffs and unconscious interpersonal transactions. Why is it important to me that they agree their take on point #1 was wrong? When I’m a bit freer of that (understandable) impulse, I’m more ready to bridge the gap to have some chance of being effective (rather than winding up negative, frustrated, and “right”, where I know my arguments should have put me “one-up” in this interaction and I’m unhappy that somehow that didn’t happen the way I hoped it would.).

    One hint – the human brain (and hormones) have difficulty being in fear/hate/defend mode and curiosity/affection/care mode at the same time – this I have learned from some of the fMRI studies. (There are actually more than two major states of course, I’m grossly oversimplifying). When people are engaged in mutually respectful discourse without trying to make anybody wrong, and especially if some aspect of playfullness/curiosity or shared values (same tribe) is invoked, they can process your words with a different part of their brain. (Of course, they may unconsciously try to shift US into the one-up wrong making class of interactions, but we need not be suckered in). So an example of this would be “OK, maybe you are right about [fairly stated summary of how they see it, so they feel heard even if not agreed with], but I’ve seen some good reasons to consider that MIGHT not be the full picture. Let’s consider a “what if” example…” Your goal is to get them to even consider some other approaches as hypothetical possibilities, not to get them to agree that they were wrong.

    If they can begin to entertain other possible interpretations, which eventually might become their own interpretations and thus consistent with their future self image, then they might begin to accept bits of reinforcing evidence – confirmation bias no longer has to be 100% directed towards reinforcing a single embattled position.

    A roving team of seed-planters might yield a better crop of eventual memes, than a band of “gonna make you see this my way” blog invaders.

    Search Keywords: cognitive dissonance, the backfire effect.

    I am *very* impressed with the folks here – their knowledge and civility (mostly) and sometimes patience. I think AGW is one of the key issues facing our species, and the failure to grasp and grapple with it politically would be a huge and devastating failure. So being effective in shifting minds and helping people grasp it is more important than being “right” in an argument (at least, most days; we’re all still primates with a fancy intellectual filagree on top). I would love for the great minds here to become more effective at persuading. But it’s time to apply these intellectual skills to also observing what works and what is a well proven failure, in terms of communicating with other humans. Beating people over the head with logic and facts only works in some limited circumstances, and we need to pay attention to which those are, and use different approaches elsewhere. I don’t mean abandoning honesty or integrity; it’s more about cultivating a different attitude in ourselves, and adjusting our own expected payoffs and framings so the science memes can propagate better.

    • Very thoughtful post, Zeph. I think we have to look at what the goals are in posting to various blogs, message boards and comment sites. The host or main arguer may be “inconvertable”, but the bystander effect, or appeal to undecided/lurkers, may be more important. For this, choice of venue is important. There’s a difference between preaching to the choir and entering hostile territory – and everything in between. It would be interesting to see studies on on-line persuasion.

  85. An appearance on WUWT for Ishtar:
    Ishtar Babilu Dingir says:
    November 5, 2011 at 1:53 pm
    I wonder how ‘statistically insignificant’ those 10 years would be to the AGW camp if they showed an increased WARMING?