Climate conspiracy, classical liberalism and Q-Anon

by John Quiggin on February 7, 2021

Writing in Reason magazine, Jacob Sullum laments that “Marjorie Taylor Greene Presents Republicans With a Sadly Familiar Choice Between Blind Loyalty to Trump and a Basic Respect for Reality”.

That’s true. But the choice between in-group loyalty and basic respect for reality was a core problem for the right when Trump was still a Democrat, and propertarians/libertarians/classical liberals were among the most prominent enemies of reality. For decades, they advanced a conspiracy theory in which all the governments in the world, backed up by every major scientific institution, were advancing a fraudulent theory of global warming.

Here’s a pretty typical example from Pat Michaels, then the lead climate authority at Cato, being interviewed on Fox

LEVIN: Let me stop you there. Who does these computer models?

MICHAELS: Governments. There are 32 families of computer models that are used by the United Nations, each government sponsored. And all of them are predicting far, far too much warming.

… it’s not the science that’s determining how much it’s going to warm. A lot of people don’t know this, but it happens to be true, and you know, we could speculate as to why that paper was published right before the 2016 election? I wouldn’t want to impute causation, but gee, if …

… When you buy off the academy, you can get what you paid for …So now, the academy roots for anything that is big government that it feels it can tie onto to maintain this relationship. The roots of political correctness, there are many, manifold and varied. But one of them certainly was the enslavement of the academy.

This seems to me to be more, rather than less, crazy than Trump’s “stop the steal” or even QAnon. At least in these theories, the conspirators are trying to achieving something big – establishing a socialist dictatorship or making the world safe for cannibal lizardoids. By contrast, Michaels wants an equally expansive conspiracy with tens of thousand of particpants (including lots of rightwing governments), whose object is – the establishment of an emissions trading scheme?

Before denouncing QAnon, libertarians ought to take some responsibility for their own leading role in the campaign against reality.

{ 33 comments }

1

bad Jim 02.07.21 at 9:50 am

Some families have crazy uncles. My family has a crazy nephew, a libertarian global warming denier and an opponent of gay marriage. He’s a pretty bright guy, a professional computer journalist, but his defense of his positions isn’t particularly coherent.

The prevalence of conspiracy theories has been widely discussed: here, David Gorski ably expounds on its manifold forms, citing Mark Hoofnagle’s work, creationism, Flat Earth theory, the blood libel and much else. Fred Clark of Slacktivist has extensively explained the odd appeal of Satanic Panic.

I would like to offer two meek suggestions: first, that one obvious conclusion to be drawn from the expert opposition to one’s firmly held opinion is that their position is likely as self-interested as one’s own, which is often true, as for example in the cases of the tobacco industry and the fossil fuel companies. There really have been conspiracies to conceal the truth!

The second is more relevant to controversies less obviously tied to financial gain: evolution, vaccines, the shape of the earth, relativity and quantum theory. In these cases the argument that academic elites somehow benefit from their intellectual hegemony is
hard to make. My guess is that the opposition is little more than cognitive dissonance: I’m sure I’m right, and only a conspiracy can explain the scientific consensus!

Okay, Big Atheism may be to blame for evolution, and perhaps even for twentieth century physics, but Eratosthenes?

2

Mike 02.07.21 at 12:40 pm

I have a Global Waming index at my Critiques of Libetarianism web site that lists 28 links to articles about the libertarian (primarily Koch) responsibility for climate disinformation.

“Libertarians generally align with “climate skeptics” (denialists of global warming) because market regulation by government is needed to reduce global warming. Opposition to global warming theory has been funded at very high levels by the petrochemical industry and the Koch brothers.”

This will be added.

3

SJ 02.07.21 at 1:41 pm

Are there any actual libertarians left, or better yet were there ever any, as opposed to grifters, paid mouthpieces and astroturfers?

4

Hidari 02.07.21 at 2:01 pm

A reasonable question worth asking about any conspiracy theory is: is there a genuine (as opposed to spurious) reason why people would engage in these activities (i.e. would they achieve real, tangible benefits from it) and is it physically possible that they could engage in these activities?

One could disregard the ‘global warming is a giant conspiracy’ theory on a priori grounds just because….why would climate scientists want to do that? How would it benefit them, financially?

Not to mention the ‘how would they all cover their tracks without any evidence whatsoever leaking out’ issue.

I won’t mention them because that would badly derail the thread, but considering these two questions is a good way to decide on the truth (or otherwise) of other, more recent conspiracy theories (it’s also worth remembering that some conspiracy theories are true! But what is true of almost all genuine conspiracy theories is that the conspirators would get some kind of tangible benefit from their conspiracy if it ‘worked out’).

5

Thomas P 02.07.21 at 5:40 pm

Hidari, to global warming deniers the stolen Climategate mails from CRU is just such a case of evidence leaking out. It isn’t really, but by carefully picking a few sentences out of a massive trove of letters it has been possible to make it look like that.

Any working conspiray has to be restricted to just a few people. Even if they all have incentives to cooperate, once you start involving thousands of people some will screw up, gain a conscience, change their mind etc. Or, in this case, just be bought over by a libertarian think tank giving a better offer. Look at Lomborg, he has made a succesful career out of trivializing environmental problems.

6

bad Jim 02.08.21 at 4:01 am

Mike’s right that libertarians reject climate change because it doesn’t have a libertarian solution; the problem effectively invalidates their ideology. It brings to mind a Confederate general’s famous assertion that “If slaves will make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong”.

7

Dr. Hilarius 02.08.21 at 4:01 am

Climate change deniers often claim that the incentive for climate scientists is to keep the grant money flowing. You know, get rich by skimming NSF and NOAA grants while running a research program. I point out that any legitimate climate researcher with good data controverting global warming would become an overnight millionaire working for the oil industry. But, for some reason, the best the Koch brothers have been able to buy is Willie Soon and his written-to-order crap. So far, no minds changed.

8

Anarcissie 02.08.21 at 4:52 am

Why would a bunch of religious fanatics from the Middle East decide that flying airplanes into buildings in the United States and killing thousands of people would be a really great idea? Doesn’t make sense. Must have been an inside job.

9

nastywoman 02.08.21 at 8:09 am

@
”Before denouncing QAnon, libertarians ought to take some responsibility for their own leading role in the campaign against reality”.

I blame it all on people who believe that the chaos we are dealing with is somehow ”planed” and that there was and is some concentrated effort by some people – or group of people – who are able to ”manipulate” complete random STUPIDITY”.

10

Mike Huben 02.08.21 at 1:36 pm

SJ @ 3

Are there any actual libertarians left, or better yet were there ever any, as opposed to grifters, paid mouthpieces and astroturfers?

My “Introduction To Libertarianism” can answer this.

I divide libertarianism into:
(a) Political Libertarianism, the libertarianism that we are exposed to through the media, a mass market astroturf libertarianism
(b) Individualistic libertarianism, what the targets of political libertarianism believe.
(c) Libertarian philosophy: mostly corrupt, much of it is funded by plutocrats to provide ideas, materials and formal credentials for their public relations campaigns.

I’d say that only (b) Individualistic libertarians lie outside of your categories of grifters, paid mouthpieces and astroturfers. They comprise at most a few percent of the US population. Some in (a) and (c) obviously are true believers.

11

Barry 02.08.21 at 6:52 pm

Anarcissie 02.08.21 at 4:52 am

” Why would a bunch of religious fanatics from the Middle East decide that flying airplanes into buildings in the United States and killing thousands of people would be a really great idea? Doesn’t make sense. Must have been an inside job.”

To strike back at something which they believe has hurt them (and their families, countrymen, co-religionists). And done in an extension of a proven system (suicide bombers, airline hijackers).

But aside from that, you’re correct.

12

Tm 02.08.21 at 10:56 pm

Bad Jim 6: „Libertarians reject climate change because it doesn’t have a libertarian solution; the problem effectively invalidates their ideology.“

The exact same applies to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is depressing how many people have at least partially bought into the most absurd conspiracy myths for the sole reason that these myths give them cover to behave asocially and irresponsibly. These people rather believe, or pretend to believe, obvious nonsense than to accept certain inconveniences (minor inconveniences in most cases) for the sake of saving lives.

The Covid conspiracy believers aren’t all coherent Libertarians (if such a thing as a coherent Libertarian even exists) but they are all motivated by reckless selfishness. A certain degree of sociopathy has always existed. What Libertarianism plus the internet have accomplished is elevating sociopathy to a powerful political force.

13

Aardvark Cheeselog 02.09.21 at 3:38 pm

Mike Huben @ 10

Scrolled down to respond to SJ, a remark about the b) people in your classification. I was going to say “Libertarians are Republicans who want to smoke pot and/or have gay sex, and these days they can do that and just be Republicans, mostly.”

“… at most a few percent and shrinking…”

14

An Engineer 02.09.21 at 9:21 pm

As a person resembling the straw-man being burnt:
1.) Global warming is a measurable phenomena.
2.) The measurement apparatus is imperfect but defiantly good enough to estimate sign and ballpark magnitude.
3.) There are path dependent ice melting events that we should be willing to spend $100s of billions to avoid.

Get ready to throw rotten produce… Now:

The proposed solutions from the left are inadequate to meet the magnitude of challenge and actually alter the physical situation in a positive direction. The already implemented policies have created a net wealth transfer from the poor to the rich and middle class, and made the emissions situation worse. Policies that would move the needle on the physical system soon enough to matter are mocked in public not by scientists but by the media and political class.

If the above is largely correct (I’ve run the numbers have you?). Then you might understand why I am deeply disturbed by the current plan to watch the world burn/flood, starve the poor, and ensure that none of the dirty folks at the implementation end of our power gird or liquid fuels industries can speak about it in public without being compared to holocaust deniers.

I have a BSME with a minor in nuclear power generation and have personally programed systems that moved around 100’s-of-MW’s of power (enough to swing the US national grid phasing). Please explain to me how my above conspiracy views are worse then people who perpetrated an armed revolt on our capital building.

{Resisting “renewable” energy policy == conspiracy theorist} seems like a low resolution view of your political opponents (me), perhaps you could be persuaded to update your stereotype to a higher resolution? Though if you’d rather have a flame war here’s some red meat:

I’m not pro-nuclear I’m just pro-numbers.

15

J-D 02.10.21 at 6:03 am

If the above is largely correct (I’ve run the numbers have you?).

No, I have not run the numbers.

When you read where somebody on the Web says ‘I have run the numbers’, do you think that is a sufficient basis for accepting whatever conclusion they then state?

Then you might understand why I am deeply disturbed by the current plan to watch the world burn/flood, starve the poor, and ensure that none of the dirty folks at the implementation end of our power gird or liquid fuels industries can speak about it in public without being compared to holocaust deniers.

If there were such a plan, I could understand why people would be disturbed by it. If there were such a plan, I would be disturbed by it. Good news! There is, luckily, no such plan.

Please explain to me how my above conspiracy views are worse then people who perpetrated an armed revolt on our capital building.

Why are you asking for an explanation of something which isn’t true? The holding of an opinion, however ill-founded, is not as grave a matter as an armed revolt, and I don’t believe anybody ever told you that it is.

That said, your opinion that there is such a conspiracy as you describe is as ill-founded as the opinions held by the people who perpetrated the armed revolt you mention (not more ill-founded, but as ill-founded).

{Resisting “renewable” energy policy == conspiracy theorist} seems like a low resolution view of your political opponents (me), perhaps you could be persuaded to update your stereotype to a higher resolution?

If you genuinely want people to develop a more detailed understanding of your position, then the appropriate course of action for you is to provide more detailed explanation. If you don’t provide a detailed explanation, the obvious conclusion is that you’re not interested in generating a more detailed understanding.

16

lurker 02.10.21 at 7:20 am

‘The proposed solutions from the left are inadequate’ (An Engineer, 14)
The right is ‘pro-nuclear’ for culture war reasons, but insists on a market system in which nuclear does not get built.
Only very, very un-libertarian mobilization by the state would get us lots of additional nuclear power in the near term.

17

notGoodenough 02.10.21 at 8:37 am

An Engineer @ 14

“The already implemented policies have”[…]”made the emissions situation worse.”

That is an interesting claim – would you care to elaborate? I think “already implemented policies” is a pretty broad statement as there seems to be considerable differences in policies (even between countries within the EU and states within the US, for example).

“If the above is largely correct (I’ve run the numbers have you?).”

OK, I’ll bite. What percentage of VRE, RE, Nuclear, etc. implementation have you calculated to be necessary for rapid decarbonisation, and in what ways does this differ from current policies and/or (for example) IPCC recommendations?

”by the current plan to watch the world burn/flood, starve the poor”

I am unaware of any plan to watch the world burn/flood, and starve the poor. Perhaps you could point to a plan which outlines this?

“ensure that none of the dirty folks at the implementation end of our power gird or liquid fuels industries can speak about it in public without being compared to holocaust deniers.”

I am unaware of any plan to prevent people working in the power grid sector or liquid fuels industries from speaking in public.

Whether or not they are compared to holocaust deniers would likely depend on what they are saying – for example, someone claiming that climate change is not linked to GHG emissions (which would seem to be the topic raised in the OP) would, I imagine, likely raise a few eyebrows.

Perhaps you could point to a plan which does indeed outline what you claim has been planned?

” I’m not pro-nuclear I’m just pro-numbers.”

Good – I look forward to seeing your analysis. Do you have it in a published format, on a blog, or somewhere where I can examine it?

18

notGoodenough 02.10.21 at 10:44 am

An Engineer @ 14

I would be interested in your explanation as to in what way you believe the OP strawmanned Patrick Michaels – please read the interview, then explain in what way the OP has unfairly represented him.

I would also be interested as to why you brought up the subject of renewable energy, when the OP didn’t mention it. I would think it is fairly reasonable to say “whether or not anthropogenic climate change is happening and to what extent it represents a threat” is a separate matter to “what the best way to address climate change is”. So why are you focused on the latter and not the former, when the former was what was raised in the OP?

I would also be interested as to why you are equating supporting renewable energy and opposing nuclear power.

19

JimV 02.10.21 at 2:57 pm

@An Engineer

Sorry, I didn’t see anything terribly wrong with what you wrote. I take it your beef is mostly with the abandonment of nuclear power. There’s a debate there on the risks vs. rewards, but not an especially acrimonious one. My view is that humans design by trial and error (steam boilers blew up and killed a lot of people in the 1800’s, then we learned how to design them better) and the errors in the evolution of nuclear power have had the capacity to do a lot more damage than previous technological growing pains and caused a commensurately adverse reaction. So we may be abandoning that technology just as we have almost ironed out all the bugs, if I believe the stories about the latest generation of nuclear reactors. But meanwhile, solar power development has proceeded and has killed people on a much more ignorable level (individuals falling off roofs) and that seems to be where all the money is going.

It will require a lot of grid infrastructure work (which as I understand it was proposed and then killed by the coal-mine lobby under Trump) which isn’t being done yet in the USA. Germany should not not have shut down safely-operating nuclear plants–although you may get some pushback on that. A lot of … less-than-optimum decisions have been and will be made.

That isn’t what JQ wrote this post about. His post is about the outright deniers and liars. You are not on fire–yet.

20

Kiwanda 02.11.21 at 12:21 am

An Engineer:

As a person resembling the straw-man being burnt:

The OP is not about potential solutions to global warming, but about those who are skeptical that it is occurring at all. So, you’re not one of those people.

The question of whether building new nuclear plants is the best investment toward reducing greenhouses gases has been discussed many times here. I’ll only note that the low end of the cost of building wind and solar is now in the range of the cost of running existing nuclear plants, and the former cost is still going down rapidly, while the latter is not. So there is no economic reason to build new nuclear plants, certainly in the next decade say.

21

John Quiggin 02.11.21 at 12:49 am

We had a lengthy discussion of nuclear power here not long ago. https://crookedtimber.org/2020/12/07/is-nuclear-power-the-answer/

Bottom line: as Kiwanda and others have said, it makes sense to turn off coal before shutting down existing nukes, but not to build new nuclear (or new coal, of course).

22

An Engineer 02.11.21 at 2:27 pm

notGoodenough @ 18
(would love to respond to all of ya’ll but as was pointed out by John Quiggin the thread has slid of topic {my fault} and it’s his blog so /shrug)

So I went and watched the Patrick Michaels link again and reread OP.
Patrick Michaels hits two of the points I hit, there is measurable warming and the sign and ballpark magnitude are known. This puts me and Patrick in the camp of people who care about whether our thoughts align with measurements of reality.

Now are we conspiracy theorists? Well as Patrick Michaels opines on, the models and the measurements being out of alignment, not enormously so, but enough that it already seems like a rather large error to ignore. This is not a theory this is a data from instruments vs numbers from other peoples computers.

Does pointing that discrepancy out mean we think the climate scientists are conspiring? Again no, they are collaborating in public there is no clandestine meetings there are no lizard men with shiny helmets. The IPCC is a public institution with published goals (if not methods).

Now are they using falsifiable methods and resisting group think… it’s not clear yet. When I say that I think the replication crisis in psychology is real and that scientists took an embarrassingly long time to overcome an experimental error in the early measurements of the weight of an electron due to social forces (oil drop experiments look it up). I am saying the crooked timber that these different fields of science (climate, psychology, physics) draw their membership from does cause pernicious and long lived group think. This is not a conspiracy it’s a c***-up. I just really don’t think questioning or disagreeing with the IPCC’s conclusions and methods makes me or Patrick “conspiracy theorists”, we are pedants at worst. (I am only going off of the interview linked I have no idea if Patrick has unrelated dump opinions this is the first time I’ve heard of him)

Then we get to the dark part. John Quiggin by lumping libertarians and classical liberals in with q-anon (calling them more deluded in-fact) what is your goal? It sounds like you want to rally your in-group to the flag and cast stones at your former political enemies lest the old divisions be forgotten in the face of a greater threat (a group actively engaging in political violence). That would make me sad were it true.

I mean perhaps we can table our differences about LCOE until the folks who are storming the capital, beating cops to death, and trying to kidnap governors get put in jail? I respect you enough to believe that you don’t think an academic debate about how to make the long-run-safest energy system is more important then preventing murder of public officials, perhaps you can respect me enough to not call me crazier then the actual murderers. John this came out harsher then I would have liked, if I have miss read you please correct me.

23

Tm 02.11.21 at 3:45 pm

“The AEI survey found that white evangelicals were especially prone to subscribe to the Q Anon movement’s conspiracy theories. Twenty seven percent said it was “mostly” or “completely” accurate to say Trump “has been secretly fighting a group of child sex traffickers that include prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.”
“As with a lot of questions in the survey, white evangelicals stand out in terms of their belief in conspiracy theories and the idea that violence can be necessary,” Cox says. “They’re far more likely to embrace all these different conspiracies.”

These people are so prone to embrace particular conspiracy theories because their basic world view is nothing but a vast and utterly delusional conspiracy theory, but again you’re not allowed to say that, because that would not be very diverse and inclusive now would it?”

https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2021/02/the-paranoid-style-is-now-completely-mainstream

24

JimV 02.12.21 at 3:11 am

An Engineer, you’re starting to get very warm. There’s a recent post at Real Climate, detailing that every bet made by deniers and luke-warmists against climate experts has been lost. That is, bets like we will or will not exceed the 1998 record (the so-called pause) within ten years. So where does Marshal get his “all of the climate models predict too much warming”? Has he put any money where his mouth is?

Another recent post there updates an ongoing plot of climate models versus measured data with 2020 final data. Every measured point is well within the published uncertainties of the climate models, and many are quiet close to the average model result. Marshal was lying.

And “buying off the academy”? The American Petroleum Institute asked the Manhattan Project’s Edward Teller to give a talk at their annual meeting in 1959. They probably thought he would talk about the prospects for nuclear power generation, but instead he told them that all the fossil fuel burning was increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, and if it continued, according to his back-of-the-envelope calculation, by around the year 2000 it would raise average temperature between 1 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit, and continue from there, and eventually the the Greenland ice cap would melt and drown coastal cities, where 30% of the world’s population lived. I was alive in 1959 and I didn’t hear about that speech until a few years ago. Who bought off whom?

The IPCC doesn’t disclose its methods? Did you read the appendices and cited papers? When has there ever been a more publicly-documented study?

There are climate experts at Real Climate and elsewhere who will gladly take your bets that they are doing their science wrong and can’t make testable predictions. Why not go there and make some money?

25

J-D 02.12.21 at 3:43 am

notGoodenough @ 18
(would love to respond to all of ya’ll but as was pointed out by John Quiggin the thread has slid of topic {my fault} and it’s his blog so /shrug)

Briefly, therefore:
1. As I understand the replication crisis, there are many instances in which attempts to replicate experiments in many fields (although in some more than others) have failed to replicate the original results, and part of the reason it’s described as a ‘crisis’ is because it’s hard to get resources for or interest in experiments repeating work already done, which means, in effect, that nobody has any idea how many incorrect findings are tacitly accepted because nobody’s bothered to double-check them.
Surely the rational response to this is not to treat all scientific findings as valueless?
2. If the error bars in climate science are bigger than they are supposed to be, surely the rational response is not abandonment of any effort to do something about global warming? Is there serious doubt about the basic physical findings which lead to the conclusion that increasing the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide increases global temperature?

26

Tm 02.12.21 at 7:26 am

Engineer 22: “Well as Patrick Michaels opines on, the models and the measurements being out of alignment, not enormously so, but enough that it already seems like a rather large error to ignore.”

Eveb if you don’t understand climate science, you should at least understand that climate models are not developed by “governments”. JQ really said it all.

27

notGoodenough 02.12.21 at 9:40 am

An Engineer @ 22

Thank you for the response, and for taking the time to clarify your reasoning. As you say, we shouldn’t derail the thread with the discussion on VRE, so it is fair to leave that to one side for now.

Regarding Patrick Michaels: I do think some of what he said are things one can reasonably object to – for example, when he talks about science being ideologically motivated, “academy” being “bought off” and “enslaved”, the literature as incentivised to be biased, and that he is at least open to there being an actual conspiracy.

I’m afraid that at the point someone is arguing along these lines, I think it is reasonable to conclude the rhetoric is very much veering into the conspiracy theory territory. For it seems to me that at that stage he has gone from a discussion over what may or may not be errors and issues (or reasonable disagreement over conclusions) to actually casting aspersions on the integrity of a broad discipline involving many people around the world.

And that is a pretty worrisome thing to do.

Science is a tool which (at its best) provides us with models to better understand the world around us, where confidence is assigned proportional to the evidence, and where iterative improvement helps refine our understanding further. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the single most reliable method for investigating and understanding our reality – if anyone has a superior method I am certainly open to hearing it, but otherwise we have to use the most reliable method we have.

Now I would never pretend scientists are perfect – mistakes are made and sometimes there are indeed bad actors. However, we discover and correct this by encouraging more scientific research and by presenting alternative and superior science – not by merely poisoning the well regarding the whole endeavor.

If people object to the models offered by climate scientists, they can make their own. The models offered by climate scientists and the IPCC have generally proved surprisingly reliable – particularly given the complexity of the system we are trying to understand (model evaluation studies retrospectively comparing future model projections to actual observed data seem to support this). However, if people can offer models which prove more reliable, we can adopt those instead. [It is, perhaps, worth noting at this point that Patrick Michaels’s own predictions have proven less than reliable (I’d recommend looking into his past statements and how frequently they have been borne out – I am, I’m afraid, less than impressed).]

In short, while people may reasonably disagree on some points, when someone paints science, scientists, and various bodies like the IPCC as ideologically driven and corrupt and climate science as propaganda (as Patrick Michaels did) they are (in my opinion) stepping outside the bounds of reasonable discourse – which would seem to be the point made in the OP.

28

An Engineer 02.12.21 at 2:07 pm

notGoodenough @ 27
“Regarding Patrick Michaels” fair enough he’s claiming access to knowledge that he doesn’t have (we would have to get inside the heads of the scientists to know their motivations and FMRI just isn’t there yet). That being the case everything he says against the IPCC’s integrity can be considered an ad-hominem and dismissed. As to the statements about their accuracy those are a different thing. He being a human is a complicated thing unfortunately for us he can be a tool and occasionally correct.

A lot of the above commenters are falling into the classic American blindness of black and white thinking. There are many bad statements that are wrong on the right about climate, unfortunately they also get stuff correct some of the time. I have a low opinion of the work coming out of the IPCC and sundry attached organizations and people. That doesn’t mean I think science as an endeavor is impossible or wrong headed. That doesn’t even mean that I think all climactic research teams/departments are producing shoddy work, only most of them.

I commented here because John Quiggin said a very gross thing. He said that now that an actual anti-reality movement is afoot in the land we must not re-evaluate weather other less delusional schools of thought can be taken as honest. No the division must remain until Johns old political enemies “take some responsibility”. I just couldn’t abide that kind of a call for a forever war. I will not give apologies for evaluating data and reading scientific papers and having thoughts about those papers and that data, even when I’m told that coming to the wrong conclusions means I must be an endorser of genocide. No genocide is wrong and so is the IPCC. The former is evil the later is just misguided and myopic. No conspiracy just standard group think reinforced by incompetence happens in every field /sigh.

As to you folks having a bond fire and going after you favorite straw man, have at. It’s your turf and I did crash the party but it was a hateful party so I don’t feel that bad. In fact giving y’all a punching bag might have been a kindness, whats a party without a pinata? I think I’m done here, I will play Don Quixote for three rounds but there are too many windmill lovers closing in on my position so I must alight into the void. Fair well may you chose understanding not hate.

29

J-D 02.13.21 at 1:32 am

A lot of the above commenters are falling into the classic American blindness of black and white thinking.

What makes you think the commenters are American?

I have a low opinion of the work coming out of the IPCC and sundry attached organizations and people.

If you read a comment on a website saying that the commenter has a low opinion of the work of an organisation, what conclusion do you think you are justified in drawing on the basis of that comment?

I commented here because John Quiggin said a very gross thing. He said that now that an actual anti-reality movement is afoot in the land we must not re-evaluate weather other less delusional schools of thought can be taken as honest. No the division must remain until Johns old political enemies “take some responsibility”. I just couldn’t abide that kind of a call for a forever war. I will not give apologies for evaluating data and reading scientific papers and having thoughts about those papers and that data, even when I’m told that coming to the wrong conclusions means I must be an endorser of genocide.

I think your interpretation of John Quiggin is mistaken. If I am right, and you have misunderstood John Quiggin, it’s possible that this partly or wholly because he has not expressed himself sufficiently clearly. On the other hand, I concede the possibility that I have misunderstood John Quiggin’s meaning, but I’m not clear on what value there is, at this point, in competitive parsing of his words. It seems to me, at this stage, that it would be a more constructive contribution to this exchange if you made an independent statement of your own position on the subject of climate change without reference to what you consider to be wrong with other people’s positions. Wouldn’t that be a better way of fostering a choice of understanding over hate?

30

John Quiggin 02.13.21 at 3:01 am

Responding briefly to An Engineer: Michaels didn’t just dissent from the conclusions of mainstream science, he advanced a conspiratorial theory of why the scientists had come to the wrong conclusion. His words are quoted in the OP, and lots of other commenters have pointed them out to you, but you don’t seem to have engaged with this at all.

As I understand it, your own view is that you have engaged in an independent assessment of the research, concluding that the vast majority of scientists are wrong, but preferring a non-conspiratorial explanation such as groupthink. Nevertheless, you feel maligned by the OP.

It’s true that majority views in science have been proved wrong before. On the other hand, its much more common that
(a) amateurs have imagined they can do science in their spare time better than people with years of training and a lifetime of research effort
(b) the conclusions reached by these amateurs align with predetermined philosophical, cultural or political preferences
(c) these conclusions can be amplified by political movements of the same kind (and, in the present case, involving most of the same people) as promote QAnon, StopTheSteal and similar.
As regards (a), your pseudonym suggests a training in engineering, which is of only limited use in assessing climate science. Typical engineering courses don’t cover time series statistics or Bayesian inference in any detail, and many have only limited coverage of the relevant elements of chemistry. Almost certainly nothing specifically related to climate science.

You can, of course, make up for this with an extensive program of reading. An obvious starting point, given that you want to dissent from mainstream, science is the survey in the Assessment Reports of the IPCC. Have you read, in detail, the reports of Working Group I on the Physical Basis, and followed up relevant journal articles out of the thousands cited there? Or have you relied primarily on the kinds of discussions found in “sceptical” web sites, backed up by your own intuition? If the latter, I suggest that you are engaged in self-deception. That’s better than the conscious deception practised by Michaels and endorsed by much of the “libertarian” right, but it’s still unhelpful.

Finally, on the broader issue: how should we deal with those who have contributed to the rise of Trumpism, but now oppose him? In my view, it is important to ask that they acknowledge how they got things wrong in the past (as many have done). Otherwise the temptation is to treat Trump as an aberration, and seek a return to rightwing politics as it existed in 2015.

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notGoodenough 02.13.21 at 10:11 am

An Engineer @ 28

I will endeavour to be brief.

As far as I can tell, no-one on this thread has accused you of endorsing genocide or treated you as a punching bag. While I am sorry you feel ill-treated, I would say that to me it seems as though people here have interacted with you fairly civilly – we might disagree, but disagreement is hardly abuse.

I have looked through the comments here to see if any expressed hatred towards you – I didn’t find any. What I did see were several where people (including myself) made good faith efforts to try and understand you and to explain our positions so you might understand us. As that seemed to be the general wish you made in your final remark, I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

It is true that I disagree with your general statements regarding climate science and the IPCC – since you’ve given me no evidence to assess (perhaps because you don’t wish to derail the thread), I am afraid I will continue to do so.

Consequently, I would like to make the following suggestion – if you believe you have good reasons to doubt the findings of climate science, I would encourage you to:

1) look into climate science in detail, and read through sources which disagree with your positions. Mann offers a free online MOOC and several books aimed at non-specialists, the RealClimate blog offers links to many resources, etc.

2) formulate your ideas coherently and think about what major issues you believe you have identified which you wish to discuss

3) read through climate science blogs (such as real climate or sceptical science) to double check if there are any rebuttals already. Consider any such points carefully, and revise your own work accordingly

4) try to organise your ideas so that people can easily follow – ideally try to break it down so people can address your arguments point by point

5) disseminate your work. Feel free to put it in a blog or something, and send me a link. Even better – contact actual climate scientists and politely ask them to discuss. There are several blogs where such experts will interact with those commenting – and if you have concerns, I think it quite likely you will get a response should you be genuinely open to discussion. Of course, this is a bit hit and miss – sometimes commenters can be unpleasant (given that you seem so deeply affected by CT’s polite discourse, you may find more rough and tumble blogs upsetting). But, for example, Gavin Schmidt on RealClimate is generally quite reasonable in his responses to people.

You are, of course, welcome to comment or not as you wish (within CT’s pretty relaxed guidelines), but if you do wish to encourage understanding then I would suggest that presenting your thoughts in a way people can assess the soundness and validity of your arguments is probably a good first step.

But that is just a suggestion.

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nastywoman 02.13.21 at 10:34 am

”It’s your turf and I did crash the party but it was a hateful party so I don’t feel that bad. In fact giving y’all a punching bag might have been a kindness, whats a party without a pinata? I think I’m done here, I will play Don Quixote for three rounds but there are too many windmill lovers closing in on my position so I must alight into the void. Fair well may you chose understanding not hate”.

But I even didn’t post that people who say or write: ”I’m not pro-nuclear I’m just pro-numbers” – are always ”pro-nuclear” – and that wouldn’t have been ”pro-hate” in any way.

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notGoodenough 02.13.21 at 1:41 pm

John Quiggin @ 30

“on the broader issue: how should we deal with those who have contributed to the rise of Trumpism, but now oppose him? In my view, it is important to ask that they acknowledge how they got things wrong in the past (as many have done). Otherwise the temptation is to treat Trump as an aberration, and seek a return to rightwing politics as it existed in 2015.”

This is a key point, and I think one which is more generally applicable too. My thoughts, for what they are worth:

From the “war on terror” to the more recent storming of the capital – with numerous scandals, abuses, and untold corruption in between – the number of times I have been urged to “look forward and not back” (or some similar sentiment) is beyond counting now.

But yet the question remains – how can anyone learn without self-examination?

“Mistakes were made” – OK, by whom, and how will they avoid repeating them? “We are reviewing our policies” – great, now what concrete changes will you make? Etc. etc.

Acknowledging you’ve got it wrong (sadly already rare enough) is certainly one step in the right direction, but the follow up should be “what lessons were learned”? What action will be taken to prevent repetition? For while I welcome anyone seeking to undo harm they may have caused (certainly I would never wish to discourage them) I do think these are reasonable questions to ask.

Much in the same way that an apology for harm is only convincing if accompanied by an attempt to improve, an acknowledgement one has had an error in judgement becomes valuable when accompanied by an attempt to avoid future blunders – and without that (or, even worse, when there is an attempt to avoid responsibility at all) how can any confidence be restored?

We all make mistakes (goodness knows I’ve made my fair share, and likely will make many more), but the key part is to learn from them. When people show an inability and unwillingness to do so, I think it is reasonable to assign confidence in them accordingly low.

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