The climate change conspiracy
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29-05-2015, 06:42 AM
The climate change conspiracy
I keep running into debates on climate change on Facebook, and since I study paleoclimates, it is always hard for me to resist them. Invariably I always run into an "argument" along the lines of climate change just being one big hoax/conspiracy (and you clearly don't need to go to Facebook to find such idiocy when congressmen are throwing snowballs on the floor).

But I am always amused at just how stupid people sound without realizing it. In order for climate change to be a hoax/conspiracy, here is what it would take.

It would have to be multidisciplinary conspiracy. It would involve climate researchers (current and paleoclimate), geologists (geochemists, paleontologists, glaciologists, etc), chemists, physicists, oceanographers, meteorologists, and Earth Scientists of varying backgrounds (including atmospheric scientists and those who study various aspects of our solar system including the sun and the other planets).

It would have to be multinational such that the liberals of the world (or those closer to the left), and a few misguided republican souls I guess. As the U.S. is not the only nation discussing climate change, or the only one to be affected, or the only one researching it, the governments of the world must be in on it.

To recap, either climate change (including anthropogenic influence) is real and scientists are independently realizing it while studying it. OR it is a multidisciplinary international liberal conspiracy that is designed to....um...

Designed to kill all conservatives?
Designed to kill Jesus...again?
Designed to bankrupt the fossil fuel industry?
Designed to shovel money into clean energy?
Designed to make the world a better place? Phhhhh...as if.

Being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets
-Rick
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29-05-2015, 07:02 AM
RE: The climate change conspiracy
Well, when you aren't taught how the scientific method works and are fed a steady diet of "big guv'mint" and "atheistic, anti-god scientism" it is probably easy to see bogeymen behind every corner. Religions like to keep people ignorant and scared because that's what keeps them in the pews.

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29-05-2015, 07:04 AM
RE: The climate change conspiracy
(29-05-2015 07:02 AM)unfogged Wrote:  Well, when you aren't taught how the scientific method works and are fed a steady diet of "big guv'mint" and "atheistic, anti-god scientism" it is probably easy to see bogeymen behind every corner. Religions like to keep people ignorant and scared because that's what keeps them in the pews.

It isn't all religious objection though. There are some individuals who seem to be against climate change for reasons other than religion.

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29-05-2015, 07:12 AM
RE: The climate change conspiracy
(29-05-2015 07:04 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  
(29-05-2015 07:02 AM)unfogged Wrote:  Well, when you aren't taught how the scientific method works and are fed a steady diet of "big guv'mint" and "atheistic, anti-god scientism" it is probably easy to see bogeymen behind every corner. Religions like to keep people ignorant and scared because that's what keeps them in the pews.

It isn't all religious objection though. There are some individuals who seem to be against climate change for reasons other than religion.

No doubt but I do think that religion has to shoulder the majority of the blame for fostering a base that can be exploited by others. If more people promoted critical thinking instead of magical thinking it would be much harder to get a good conspiracy theory off the ground.

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29-05-2015, 07:18 AM
RE: The climate change conspiracy
(29-05-2015 07:12 AM)unfogged Wrote:  
(29-05-2015 07:04 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  It isn't all religious objection though. There are some individuals who seem to be against climate change for reasons other than religion.

No doubt but I do think that religion has to shoulder the majority of the blame for fostering a base that can be exploited by others. If more people promoted critical thinking instead of magical thinking it would be much harder to get a good conspiracy theory off the ground.

Kind of. But religion isn't the biggest driving force behind the anti-vax conspiracy.

It seems like it is an issue with critical thinking, but also with overthinking. In a weird kind of way, we outthink ourselves. It is the notion that being skeptical of everything is no good, and being skeptical of nothing is no good. There is a need for balance, a reasoned skepticism.

It seems to be this point that is a large part of the problem. Climate deniers are convinced that their skepticism of climate change has given them an insight that allows for them to see the conspiracy. And like most conspiracies, it is clever and requires a lot of thought that goes into it.

For instance, 9/11 truthers and supporters of the JFK conspiracy have these elaborate conspiracies that are intricately connected. Some of the logic and circumstantial reasoning behind it may even sound reasonable or plausible. They all break down when you ask for actual evidence or point out reasonable counterarguments, but they are not necessarily unintelligent on the surface of it.

Now, I have had people like my father-in-law say things to me like "it's the sun stupid" and that is one of the most ironic things I have ever read. 0_0

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29-05-2015, 07:30 AM
RE: The climate change conspiracy
(29-05-2015 07:18 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  It seems like it is an issue with critical thinking, but also with overthinking. In a weird kind of way, we outthink ourselves. It is the notion that being skeptical of everything is no good, and being skeptical of nothing is no good. There is a need for balance, a reasoned skepticism.

You make a good point; I'll have to ponder on it a bit. You're correct that people can be too skeptical and that's why I mentioned critical thinking and the scientific method and not just skepticism which, as you note, can be taken to extreme and/or focused on the wrong things.

If people learned early how to look for and evaluate evidence as dispassionately as possible I think we'd avoid a lot of the 9/11, anti-vax, climate change, reptilians, etc.

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29-05-2015, 07:36 AM
RE: The climate change conspiracy
(29-05-2015 07:30 AM)unfogged Wrote:  
(29-05-2015 07:18 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  It seems like it is an issue with critical thinking, but also with overthinking. In a weird kind of way, we outthink ourselves. It is the notion that being skeptical of everything is no good, and being skeptical of nothing is no good. There is a need for balance, a reasoned skepticism.

You make a good point; I'll have to ponder on it a bit. You're correct that people can be too skeptical and that's why I mentioned critical thinking and the scientific method and not just skepticism which, as you note, can be taken to extreme and/or focused on the wrong things.

If people learned early how to look for and evaluate evidence as dispassionately as possible I think we'd avoid a lot of the 9/11, anti-vax, climate change, reptilians, etc.

Right. It goes back to understanding how to not only think critically and look for information, but how to discriminate between good information or sources and bad information or sources.

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29-05-2015, 10:56 AM
RE: The climate change conspiracy
There's also the question of presentation. I watched "Lord" Monckton debate climate change with an Australian scientist on Australian tv a few years ago. Monckton won hands down. Not because he had any facts. He didn't but his presentation was so much more assured than the scientist's. Monckton stated a list of "facts" (yes, a Gish gallop) in a very confident voice while the scientist tried to refute the facts and was clearly stressed because each refutation took ten times as long as the original statement and the scientist was never going to be allowed to refute all of them. And, each refutation was fairly technical.

Monckton in his presentations likes to include some basic algebraic equations. He then informs the crowd that he won't bother them with complicated mathematics. His own qualifications are in classical languages. He's probably a good guy to go to if you need help in declining a verb in Latin. ('declining' means changing the verb form to match, say, the subject - 'I am' vs 'They are'). But I doubt his maths skills are up to much. If I were in a debate with him, I'd ask him to integrate the function

f(x) = (x^2-1)/x

(where x^2 = x squared) a high school calculus problem. I reckon he'd need clean underwear.

And don't forget the arbitrary constant (this is for maths geeks).

The other point about the global conspiracy among scientists theory is...what's in it for us? There's no company or organisation whose profits are going to soar if we present evidence for climate change. BP and Shell aren't going to say "Here's a couple of million to do some research." We might get some research money from a university or some foundation, but that would only cover research costs. Researchers only get paid their salary. No free cars. No free yachts. Just your takehome pay.
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29-05-2015, 01:48 PM
RE: The climate change conspiracy
(29-05-2015 10:56 AM)jockmcdock Wrote:  There's also the question of presentation. I watched "Lord" Monckton debate climate change with an Australian scientist on Australian tv a few years ago. Monckton won hands down. Not because he had any facts. He didn't but his presentation was so much more assured than the scientist's. Monckton stated a list of "facts" (yes, a Gish gallop) in a very confident voice while the scientist tried to refute the facts and was clearly stressed because each refutation took ten times as long as the original statement and the scientist was never going to be allowed to refute all of them. And, each refutation was fairly technical.

Monckton in his presentations likes to include some basic algebraic equations. He then informs the crowd that he won't bother them with complicated mathematics. His own qualifications are in classical languages. He's probably a good guy to go to if you need help in declining a verb in Latin. ('declining' means changing the verb form to match, say, the subject - 'I am' vs 'They are'). But I doubt his maths skills are up to much. If I were in a debate with him, I'd ask him to integrate the function

f(x) = (x^2-1)/x

(where x^2 = x squared) a high school calculus problem. I reckon he'd need clean underwear.

And don't forget the arbitrary constant (this is for maths geeks).

The other point about the global conspiracy among scientists theory is...what's in it for us? There's no company or organisation whose profits are going to soar if we present evidence for climate change. BP and Shell aren't going to say "Here's a couple of million to do some research." We might get some research money from a university or some foundation, but that would only cover research costs. Researchers only get paid their salary. No free cars. No free yachts. Just your takehome pay.

Swindlers and charlatans and hacks and con artists certainly do have an effect. Especially when they peddle their pseudo-intelligence to the masses that don't know any better nor know how to critically evaluate the claims that they are being handed.

Being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets
-Rick
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29-05-2015, 06:35 PM
RE: The climate change conspiracy
(29-05-2015 07:30 AM)unfogged Wrote:  
(29-05-2015 07:18 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  It seems like it is an issue with critical thinking, but also with overthinking. In a weird kind of way, we outthink ourselves. It is the notion that being skeptical of everything is no good, and being skeptical of nothing is no good. There is a need for balance, a reasoned skepticism.

You make a good point; I'll have to ponder on it a bit. You're correct that people can be too skeptical and that's why I mentioned critical thinking and the scientific method and not just skepticism which, as you note, can be taken to extreme and/or focused on the wrong things.

If people learned early how to look for and evaluate evidence as dispassionately as possible I think we'd avoid a lot of the 9/11, anti-vax, climate change, reptilians, etc.

"Too skeptical" is not critical thinking, skepticism is just one element of it.

Skepticism is the valid initial approach to claims; investigation and evaluation follow.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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