Climate Change and Well-Informed Denial

Tue, 2011-05-03 08:52Chris Mooney
Chris Mooney's picture

Climate Change and Well-Informed Denial

On climate change, we’re politically polarized—which would be bad enough, but that’s not all. The hole we’ve dug is even deeper—as new research clearly suggests.

There’s yet another study out on Democrats, Republicans, and climate change, this time from Lawrence Hamilton of the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. Over the last two years, in a series of regional surveys, Hamilton asked nearly 9,500 people questions about climate change—from Appalachia to the Gulf Coast, and from New Hampshire to Alaska. 

Across all these regions, he consistently found the following phenomenon: Democrats and Republicans who claimed to know less about the climate issue were more like one another in terms of whether they accepted the science. Democrats and Republicans who claimed to know a lot about the issue, by contrast, were vastly polarized—with knowledgeable Democrats overwhelmingly accepting the science, and knowledgeable Republicans overwhelmingly denying it.

Political polarization is greatest among the Republicans and Democrats who are most confident that they understand this issue,” writes Hamilton. “Republicans and Democrats less sure about their understanding also tend to be less far apart in their beliefs.”

This core finding itself is not new—a 2008 Pew survey also found that Republicans with a college level of education were less likely to accept the science of climate than Republicans who lack such education. Other studies have also underscored this fundamental point. But for precisely that reason, Hamilton’s research kind of puts it in the realm of indisputable political fact. Not only are we polarized over climate change, but our knowledge and sophistication, when combined with our politics, make matters worse.

How could this be? For Hamilton, the explanation lies in the interaction between how we get information (from trusted news and Internet sources, we think, but we’re actually being selective) and our own biases in evaluating it (objectively, we think, but again, we’re actually being selective). “People increasingly choose news sources that match their own views,” Hamilton writes. “Moreover, they tend to selectively absorb information even from this biased flow, fitting it into their pre-existing beliefs.” In other words, we’re twice biased—based on our views and information sources—and moreover, twice biased in different directions.

Thus it really makes a lot of sense that those who are paying less attention to the climate issue, whether nominally Democrat or Republican, are less polarized and less sure of themselves. They’re not working nearly as hard at reaffirming their convictions, and refuting the convictions of the other side. (Hamilton’s study implies, though, that that they may have a different problem—they know so little that they may be more likely to be buffeted by the weather in terms of how they think about climate. If it’s hot out, maybe they’ll worry. If it’s cold, they’ll scoff.)

Overall, the big picture is that our society is not making up its mind in anything like a rational or scientific manner about climate change. That’s unfortunate–but it would be a form of denial itself at this point to reject the finding. 

 

Previous Comments

If some of us consider that creationists are as deluded as AGW deniers it is because both chose to ignore inconvenient facts to arrive at their beliefs. This is not because creationists actually equate to AGW deniers as anybody who has come across Ian Plimer knows.

What you have provided is clear evidence that you believe strange things because of your lack of comprehensive thinking.

You believe strange things whereas we argue from a knowledge based upon evidence. And you think we are crazies!

Charles Dodgson wrote about the sort of world that you see.

Mike, you confuse science and religion - they deal with different things. Its a logical fallacy to conclude that atheists automatically believe in AGW or conversely that devout Christians automatically reject AGW theory.
There are many faiths, Christian and otherwise, that have come out strongly in recognizing the fact of AGW and, not only that, recognizing that is is human greed (selfish consumerism) that is the primary cause.
Perhaps if those who call themselves Christians actually practiced a bit of what Jesus actually taught we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today.
Your post appears to be full of anger and hatred - try a bit of Christian love, for your own benefit.

“When I go to church Sunday I’ll tell my pastor exactly what the “environmentalists” think of religion. Hopefully, we can take this message far and wide. “The Greenies hate you because you believe in God!!” Yeah, I can work with that.”

Why pretend it hasn’t always been like that Mike? It’s only been that way for say the past few hundreds years, catch up son.

“The Greenies hate you because you believe in God!!” Yeah, I can work with that.”

Errr, Mike, I think you guys already made up your mind some time ago.

http://www.resistingthegreendragon.com/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=blurb&utm_campaign=link

Pardon the pun, but you would both be preaching to the converted.

Mike Mangan is right on! But even if you are a Democrat, there are reasons to think CO2 mitigation is not necessary. According to Wiki there are 3 TRILLION tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere. There are only 7 billion humans and if each one produced 2 tonnes of CO2 per year, they would only produce 14 BILLION tonnes of CO2 per year. This means 3000/14 = 214 times as much CO2 is already in the air as is added by humans each year. As a democrat, I can’t get alarmed by this! Joe

And how much do humans take out? Nil.

Again it seems like that Twain quote seems more appropriate to Joe here. Pity the denialist aim is so bad.

Not to mention our rate of deforestation. Reducing another important CO2 absorption mechanism.

It’s a double whammy, because the destroyed & decaying organic matter emits a lot of CO2 & the reduced forest size absorbs less CO2.

Mike: I think you’re ignoring the beam in your own eye. Do you really think climatologists (like Richard Alley– who is a Republican, and Jim Hansen, who is no leftist) are all conspiring to destroy capitalism? What you perceive as arrogance on the part of the RealClimate team is really something else altogether: the confidence of people who know their field and are trying to correct distortions and lies that others (with much bigger financial interests at stake) are spreading about them and their work. Your selective paranoia is a big problem here: it’s impossible to have a serious discussion of a problem with someone who rejects the evidence and instead shoots the messenger at first sight.

Looks as if most visitors to this site insist on debating at a political level (the terms “facts” and “evidence” and “credibility” are tossed around, but there’s no content. If you want to talk about evidence, why not bring up particular issues, and either demonstrate whether or not the evidence is lacking. http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddrj9jjs_0fsv8n9gw

Here is my take on real climate, they are a priesthood. I brought up the issue of Chris Landsea quitting the IPCC because it had been politicized.

They refused to publish my comment because it was not “science” while their groupies were engaged in all sorts of out and out name calling which they considered as advancing their agenda and so they were readily published - these people are frauds; case closed.

I agree, he needs all the help he can get, as he is fighting an uphill battle trying to prove he isn’t a fake. Even school kids have proven the guy wrong, lol.

Tim Ball has caught himself up in the cogs of his own machinations. This is no surprise as he thinks himself cleverer than he turns out to be and has said many daft things over the years and allowed inaccuracies about his qualifications and experience to stand un-correct for a very long time.

Climate Realist, Oh! Dear! Another in the league as DenialDespot, We Use Wishfull Thinking and CO2 pseudo-science with some overlap in participants.

Reliable sources: Climate Realists, Craig Idso, ocean acidification edition

http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/reliable-sources-climate-realists-craig-idso-ocean-acidification-edition/

You really got to do better than that.

Your image says a lot about our thinking and how we interpret.

Our problem is that science is being dragged in to justify “fact” and “truth” in our attempts to convince and control. I do not believe that science should be in this game and when it is it is poorer as a result. Science is about hypothesis, theories and models and should be free of such shackles of having to support “fact” and “truth”.

I have heard science is the new religion and to assign “fact” and “truth” to its annuals is consigning it that way. We are already seeing differing doctrines (Popper/Post etc) forming as to the ‘true’ science (or is that religion).

How else do you identify fact and truth? Use your gut feeling?

You should be using your brain.

How are you supposed to identify useful theories from incorrect ones if you can’t use facts in your science? And when your theory turns out to be a good description of what is happening, surely that is “fact”.

You seem to want to allow post-modern-science as the ONLY science. That is, a science where all theories are equally valid and you can continue to believe whichever one you think fits your comfort zone best.

Sorry, this isn’t fact, truth or any form of science.

You say: “And when your theory turns out to be a good description of what is happening, surely that is “fact”.”

Totally disagree. It’s just a ‘good description’ based on current understanding. Maybe a good turning point from hypothesis into a theory if it hasn’t got that far.

Facts are just data which add to knowledge. Understanding that knowledge and turning into wisdom are based on higher levels of human thought processes.

Why is it not a good turning point from hypothesis to theory? Because your case falls down if it is?

Solid materials are not really solid. They’re mostly empty space. Yet drop a bowling ball on your head and it doesn’t feel like a lot of empty space. therefore when interacting with falling objects, the theory that it is solid is CORRECT indication that you should remove yourself from its path.

Now, CO2 causes warming, we’re producing lots of CO2 and we’re not taking it away again. This means that the theories being used to investigate climate change are as good a theory as “bowling balls are solid”.

But because the bowling ball is going to fall on a child’s head, Titus yells “DON’T MOVE!!!”.

“Facts are just data which add to knowledge. ”

And that’s what we have and it supports the IPCC. You should try reading the facts. Except you can’t handle it, can you.

We agree that CO2 causes warming. So do many other entities. We also agree that these are facts. Nice work so far.

Now put all this together in a chaotic, infinite probability system, we call climate, which we do not ‘understand’ and here is the difference.

Falling objects are a fact. This is input into gravitational theory. However, as we go deeper and uncover more facts our theory of gravity is having to change.

I think we are getting closer.

Titus said:

“Now put all this together in a chaotic, infinite probability system, we call climate, which we do not ‘understand’ and here is the difference.”

Why don’t you actually read some science rather than the wishy washy philosopher stories you seem to prefer?

You should rename yourself as GOD.

Folks might take more notice……

Maybe if you were a bit more humble and actually read some science people might take you a little bit more seriously. The way you are behaving you will only get laughed at. Such a tiny mind. Go and read your philosopher stories, we scientists will correct you every time you bad mouth science and scientists.

For a humbling you should try Job in the bible old testament. Might improve your perspective…….

You have accussed me of this a few times. I cannot find a single instance in this or any past post.

I have asked you before to please identify.

Unless you can please retract. There might be a case for accusations of slander here.

You should know all about slander, that is what you AGW anti-science deniers do all the time to honest scientists.

There are lots of examples of you bad mouthing scientists:

“What’s emerging is that AGW is a tool to promote a political agenda. Science has been corrupted as a direct result.” This is slanderous.

“I have often heard talk that science is now the new religion.” Ad hominem

“And why should I need to understand climate science to tell me how to believe in stuff. Let’s be honest. it does not have a good track record.” Bad mouthing and completely false.

“I started this conversation by sharing that I believe that natural causes explain more easily and the shenanigans that surround this whole debate have produced doubt and distrust. I’m further reinforced in that claim.” Slander.

Will I go on and embarrass you even more? You are a despicable person who is slandering honest climate scientists. It is made even more despicable when you, yourself, claim to be a scientist but I very much doubt that you are. Go ahead with your slander law suits if you want, we will all enjoy a laugh at your expense when the tables are turned on you.

My my, you are a sensitive fellow.

If you iterprett this langauage as slanderous then I question your ability to reason. Sorry but thats my honest reaction.

You want to be in my shoes these last few weeks on this blog, your sensitivities would have demolished you.

The comments I quoted are a perfect example of “bad mouthing”. You are a despicable person. Your understanding of science is pathetic yet you claim that everybody who understands climate science is wrong and pathetic you is correct. Well, that is just rubbish, you show your ignorance of science with every post. And that is not slander, it is the truth about your behaviour on this blog.

And why would I want to be in your shoes? I have no wish to be in the shoes of some one so dishonest and arrogant as you. If you feel that you are being selected and targeted then you are right. I will show up anyone who is as dishonest as you especially when they claim to be a scientist.

You have no case to bring.

Titus, please provide us with the peer reviewed evidence that proves gravity exists. If you can’t ….it doesn’t.

Not sure I understand your question. Gravity is a name we give to something we observe. Therefore it exits. Are you asking about the theroy of gravity? That’s a completely different question.

Likewise, AGW is a name we give to something we observe & can measure. Therefore it exists.

This is wrong and confused. I think this is why you guys have so many problems getting your message across. I passed A level science and worked as a research chemist for a few years back in the 60’s and my old teachers would be turning in their graves to hear this talk.

The only fact we have and observe is that climate changes. The earth is a poorly understood chaotic system. AGW is a computer model prediction and therefore is a theory. Your other problem is that past predictions have seriously missed their mark and folks are quite understandably questioning the theory. After all, that’s what science is all about isn’t it?

Or have you changed language to such a degree that you are creating confusion in Joe public like me. And don’t write me off as a denier, there are many folks like me with the same questions. I happened on this site a few weeks ago (a new experience for me) and was interested to understand the way you all think. It’s been an illuminating experience and for that I thank you all.

Good grief, you squeak past on A level science than you claim to do chemistry research? Start telling the truth.

Your old teachers would surely be turning in their graves to find that one of their pupils is so ignorant of science and so dishonest.

Why are you deniers so dishonest? Oops I forgot, that is all you have since the science is telling the exact opposite of what your selfishness wants.

Your post is so full of errors and wrongheadedness that it would take too long to show them all.

You need to go back and try repeating the education that obviously failed you at the first attempt.

Actually got a BSc in Applied Chemistry. Sorry forgot to mention that. The A levels were a rememberance of my old science teacher.

If you re-read your post again you might be humbled and deign to apologize about the way you speak to me. I’m so slandered and my sensitivities need reassuring. I’ll go pour a beer and cry into it……..

No way I ever have to or need to apologize to a dishonest AGW denier such as you and your ilk.

“The earth is a poorly understood chaotic system.”

That’s a bit of a catch 22 situation for you deniers isn’t it Titus?

Here is the scenario .
Public/Politicians: The earth is a poorly understood chaotic system, we need to understand it more. Let’s get scientists to do what they have always done, research, measure, observe & report back to us the results & their recommendations.

Scientists: Besides the 1000’s of other areas of understanding about our planet, we have also discovered that man is putting too much CO2 into the atmosphere causing imbalance that will have demographic, economic & military consequences. We need to reduce our CO2 output.

Politicians: We have been told by scientists that we need to reduce CO2 output or there will be economic, demographic & military consequences.

Fossil fuel industry: We don’t like those conclusions they have reached, lets lobby the party that will support us, the conservatives. We will threaten to reduce our funding to them if they don’t do our bidding. In the meantime, saturate the media & blogosphere with our point of view.

Conservative parties worldwide: AGW is a myth, we need to delay any policy, it will affect “us” too much.

Conservative voters: My party has said it’s a myth, therefore it’s a myth. Scientists are just trying to get grant money!!! They don’t know what they are doing! I will search for blogs that support this point of view.

Conservative voter arrives at places like desmog blog & says :

“The earth is a poorly understood chaotic system.”

So Titus. How can we better understand this chaotic system without scientists & paying them to research it? Should we even strive to understand our own planet? What if the results impact the profits of certain business sectors?

For what purpose did this tirade happen? I must be touching some sensitivity here. My goodness, you sound as if you just got unconstipated and gone completely of subject.

BTW: before I left the UK I voted labour and had voted conservative on occasions in my life. Probably lean to Republican but could be Democrat. You appear to need stereo types to label folks. That tells me you are a very insecure fellow. I’ll try to be nice……

The reason people here are letting you have it is because of the following:

You demean and bad mouth climate scientists.

You know nothing about climate science but accuse all the scientists who have discussed things with you of being wrong.

You are completely dishonest.

Is it any wonder that the sensible and intelligent people who frequent this blog get upset with the likes of you?

If you became a little bit more humble and honest, asked intelligent questions instead of spouting nonsense and stuck to the truth you would not get the attention you have drawn.

Honest people hate dishonesty when they come across it, especially when the consequences will be so damaging to future generations.

Why do you bring up political affiliations? Science has got nothing to do with right or left, only truth as determined by study. The only people I stereotype are dishonest people like you and that is easy to do in your case.

Well; you have gone right off subject here. I’m seeing that this is a tactic to change the course of difficult and prickly subjects for you all. Interesting, I have seen this in my business career.

And why do I bring up political associations? If you read the post I was responding to (Phil M) and the original by Chris Mooney you will see that they disagree with you. It was a major discussion point. Appears you missed it. I could be slanderous here but I’ll respect your sensitivities.

Titus should read more carefully and more slowly then he might just manage to understand what people are saying. Yes, Chris and Phil M have said that people of a certain political persuasion (usually right wing) deny climate science.

What I said did not relate to people but to the science. Science does not know right from left (unless you are a biochemist then D and L have a very explicit meaning).

It is unfortunate that people like Titus use their political view to slander scientists who provide results which do not conform to their political views.

Sadly, people like him seem to attract more than their fair share of the discussion. His fair share, based on accuracy and knowledge, should be zero since he does not accept established science as being correct.

What else in science does he deny? I wouldn’t be surprised to find that he denies evolution and is a creationist because of his frequent biblical references.

For someone like you who tells others to read more closely I’ll try one more time with you:

Phil M wrote talking about me: Quote:

======
Conservative parties worldwide: AGW is a myth, we need to delay any policy, it will affect “us” too much.

Conservative voters: My party has said it’s a myth, therefore it’s a myth. Scientists are just trying to get grant money!!! They don’t know what they are doing! I will search for blogs that support this point of view.

Conservative voter arrives at places like desmog blog & says :

“The earth is a poorly understood chaotic system.”
=======

So I respond to let hime know I have voted Labour, Conservative, Republican and would consider Democrate in the future.

I think you must be terribly stressed and missed this. Please apologize and retract and I will forgive you.

You are a complete fool, but you won’t fool the intelligent and scientifically knowledgeable people on this blog with your bluster and lies.

You have failed to recognize/accept your mistake.

You should try to use all that intelligence and turn that knowledge that you talk about into some personal understanding and start to show some wisdom, charity, manners and humbleness.

you do not make yourself clear?

‘For someone like you who tells others to read more closely I’ll try one more time with you:

I think you must be terribly stressed and missed this. Please apologize and retract and I will forgive you.’

I’ll repeat again, the science doesn’t give a flying fig, or a ballistic Monckton, about which way people vote. The science is apolitic.

Now don’t get all apoplectic.

You had better take this up with Phil M. He obviously needs some of your wisdom. From the note he wrote me which I directly replied to: Again to save you the trouble to find:
==============
Conservative parties worldwide: AGW is a myth, we need to delay any policy, it will affect “us” too much.

Conservative voters: My party has said it’s a myth, therefore it’s a myth. Scientists are just trying to get grant money!!! They don’t know what they are doing! I will search for blogs that support this point of view.

Conservative voter arrives at places like desmog blog & says :

“The earth is a poorly understood chaotic system.” ==================

FYI - I’m not a creationist, I do denie evolution as fact but not of the theory (which BTW needs a major re-think with the current discoveries in science).

I’m not religious or church goer. I do read the bible and countless other refcerences. You should try it. It will change your perspective if your bravy enough to try.

because all you seem to be able to believe is that all theories are wrong and cannot be useful.

Nice diversion Titus, but please answer the question. You stated:
“”The earth is a poorly understood chaotic system.”.

I ask you . How can we better understand this chaotic system? For free preferably, as any expenditure on labour, transport, satellites, equipment etc. will draw the ire of the deniers who will scream they are asking for funding. So your free solution to this problem please.

After you provide this solution, please answer the next dilemma. If the answers about our planet affect certain industries, who should we put first. Humans as a whole or these affected industries?

I think you are confusing me with somebody elses comments. I did say “The earth is a poorly understood chaotic system.”

However you have associated it with doing research ‘for free’. I’m at a total loss to understand this as I’ve never commented anything about that. Research is a key activity to better understanding I agree and we should pay where pay is due. And as for your question about industries; likewise how did this pop in to the discussion?

You appear to be in the same stressed state as your friend Ian. The two of you should take a rest and chill out a bit.

“Research is a key activity to better understanding I agree and we should pay where pay is due.”

Great! So you have no problem with scientists applying for grants to go out & investigate the possibility of AGW & estimate it’s impacts then?

“And as for your question about industries; likewise how did this pop in to the discussion?”

Well Titus. Considering it is fossil fuel industries primarily driving the opposition to AGW & they say that there will be little to no impact on humans . Where as pro AGW scientists are saying the opposite. That there WILL be an impact on humans, through less food, water, populations on the move, insurance claims & military expenditure. Who should we listen to? Fossil fuel industries or the worlds top climate scientists & institutions?

Hi Phil: You ask:

“So you have no problem with scientists applying for grants to go out & investigate the possibility of AGW & estimate it’s impacts then?”

None whatsoever. Where did you get that idea from?

As for what you say about industries I have no opinion one way or the other. Maybe I need to take a look. As I said, this is all pretty knew to me.

Thanks for response……

Every time you or your mates say “not paid by government” and then refuse to believe them.

Unless you can explain why government pay (also known as grants) makes it non-science.

Thanks for response. However, I have read and read your comment and am at a total loss to understand and give a reply.

I think I’m having an issue with the thread sequences as this appears out of sequence.

As Ian so graciously pointed out in a previous comment if this is the case with you I apologize in advance.

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