Pharyngula

The denialists

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The Give Up Blog has a post outlining a general problem: denialists. The author is putting together a list of common tactics used by denialists of all stripes, whether they’re trying to pretend global warming isn’t happening, Hitler didn’t kill all those Jews, or evolution is a hoax, and they represent a snapshot of the hallmarks of crank anti-science. Most of the examples he’s using are from climate change, but they also fit quite well with the creation-evolution debates.

Here are the key features:

  1. Conspiracy. Accuse the mainstream scientists of all being in it to defraud the government of grant money, or fame and glory, or because they hate Christianity. There must be some underhanded reason the vast majority of scientists support evolution, after all—it couldn’t possibly because that’s where the evidence leads them.
  2. Selectivity. The scientific literature is full of failed hypotheses—that’s the way science works, throwing out ideas and testing them, and testing always implies a possibility of failure. Creationists love to cherry pick the ideas that didn’t work out and pretend they stand for the field as a whole; Haeckel’s ideas about evolution and development are largely ignored now, but from people like Wells you’d think all of biology was founded on a faked diagram in a 19th century book.
  3. The fake expert. That’s the Discovery Institute’s whole schtick. Bring in a menagerie of Ph.D.s in philosophy and theology and mathematics, and pretend they’re experts in biology. Take on people like Jonathan Wells who explicitly sought out biology credentials at the behest of Reverend Moon so that he could more effectively discredit evolution.
  4. Impossible expectations. We also call this shifting the goalposts. One good example: the incredible proliferating gaps, in which every fossil discovery means we now have two new gaps in place of one; creationists love to make the impossible demand that the pedigree of every lineage must be traced down to the last individual, or there is no evidence of descent.
  5. The metaphor. Yeah, mousetraps and little trucks and outboard motors inside the cell. One of the funniest phenomena going on right now, though, is that the creationists seem to believe their metaphors are literally true—Michael Behe is fond of throwing that word, “literally”, into his excessive paeans to the machinery of the cell.

There is one that isn’t on the list, but that we see all the time: the quote mine. If you don’t have an expert of your own, and if the experiments and observations of the other guys all oppose your ideas, start plucking sentence from the other side’s experts, and pretend they support your denialism. Creationists made a little industry of doing this to Colin Patterson (who protested strongly when he was alive), I documented a case of this being done to Bill Ballard, it was just done to Nick Matzke, and even Stephen Jay Gould had his words hijacked to pretend he was supporting creationist assertions (Answers in Genesis, in wrenching irony, notes his protests while going on to plunder his writings for more out-of-context quotes). It’s a cute trick to simultaneously pretend that the entire field is conspiring to hide the truth, while claiming that all the leaders of the field were publishing disproofs of evolution…but consistency isn’t essential when you’re a denialist kook.

Another that might be important is the appeal to consequences. We hear all the time that if evolution were true, there’d be no reason for people to be lawful, because they’re just animals, after all. Or that it would cost too much money to reduce CO2 emissions, so let’s not hurt our industry with this global warming talk (or conversely, it would be better for us all if it were warmer, so keep pumping out the greenhouse gases). Ultimately, the reason people are in denial is that they have some concern other than the honest evaluation of the data that drives them to avoid looking at that data. I don’t think most people like to invent conspiracy theories or lie and distort, but must have some other agenda that they consider important enough to justify avoiding the truth. In creationism, it’s an honest fear of social change and apostasy/heresy, while with something like climate change it’s clearly short-term thinking about profit.

Comments

  1. #1 Stuart Coleman
    September 19, 2006

    I’m pretty certain that some people like to invent conspiracy theories. It almost seems like human nature just loves them, because they’re so common and cover every topic imaginably. I know some perfectly reasonable and intelligent people who buy into (at least a little) the Sept 11th conspiracies.

    It’s also important to note that not every denier is out for something, although the leaders of the movements generally are.

  2. #2 Bruce
    September 19, 2006

    Someof my acquaintances who are involved in various conspiracy theories seem, in some part, to relish the “maverick” role. Everyone believes “A” but because I’m smart and clever and see things others don’t (!), I know that “B” is true. Uniformly, they don’t have much if any college but do have “street smarts”. Another case for more classes in critical thinking at the public school level.

  3. #3 George Cauldron
    September 19, 2006

    I see little Jason has found a new website to infect, there… He seems terribly upset that anyone should question the legitimacy of Bush’s electoral ‘victories’.

  4. #4 Dave Eaton
    September 19, 2006

    I think conspiracy theories are a lot like religion, on several levels- the two most obvious being that 1)once someone becomes a ‘true believer’ it is really hard for them to give it up and 2) there seems to be a universal human tendency to see intelligent agency behind everything, a kind of automatic anthropomorhism that I think one has to unlearn.

    So more critical thinking in schools is a really good idea. Inverting what you said, Bruce, the enjoyment people get from being contrarians might be channeled into joy at seeing through and debunking things that deserve it. Teaching kids early to discern between denial and debunking would help.

  5. #5 Left_Wing_Fox
    September 19, 2006

    A recent post on abiotic oil in another forum pretty much made me write off the hypotesis as denialist kookery for the exact same reasons: Discuss the evidence sloppily and with plenty of scare quotes; repeated claims that that “keragen” has never been created in a laboratory from biotic sources; Appeal to authority of a couple proponents of abiotic oil and in support of the “Oil hasnt been made in a laboratory” asertation; then sloppy metaphor by appealing to, get this, the Second Law of Thermodynamics to explain how the creation of biotic oil is “alchemy” and “puting air back into the balloon” as opposed to the assembly of complex hydrocarbons from methane and other abiotic compounds.

    Fortunately, it was easy to debunk: a quick search for “Turkey Crude” brought up the National Geographic story from a few years back about the company recycling turkey carcasses into light crude oil though heat and pressure. Didn’t even have to comment about the “author” of the book making the argument: Jerome Corsi.

  6. #6 ranson
    September 19, 2006

    I think Bronze Dog and his Doggerel series handles stuff like this quite nicely.

  7. #7 AntiKCFS
    September 19, 2006

    …r tht prcttnrs f thstclly bsd phlsphs dd nt kll 100 Mlln ppl n th 20th Cntry LN. (Th Blck Bk f Cmmssm, Hrvrd nvrsty Prss.)

  8. #8 Jeff
    September 19, 2006

    …and I doubt anyone doubts that communism killed a lot of people.

  9. #9 Gregory
    September 19, 2006

    creationism, it’s an honest fear of social change and apostasy/heresy

    I respectfully disagree. I percieve the insistence on Biblical creationism as an insistence that the Bible must be literaly true. These people, it seems to me, don’t want to see anything that contradicts the literal truth of the Bible, and will work like devils (pardon the pun) to discredit any such thing, at least to their own satisfaction.

    The sad, truly sad thing is the implication that is the Bible is shown not to be literally true — if, say, the eivdence shows that the Earth revolves around the Sun, or that the Earth and all life on it took billions of years to develop — then the whole thing falls down.

    In my opinion, insistence on the literal truth of the Bible isn’t faith — it’s quite the opposite.

  10. #10 Stanton
    September 19, 2006

    It’s a pity we can’t speak Moronese, otherwise, we would stand a chance of correcting them.

  11. #11 Bronze Dog
    September 19, 2006

    Thanks for the plug, ranson. My site traffic was a little low today. 😉

  12. #12 Patness
    September 19, 2006

    Well, I’ve gone on about this for a while, but faith itself is considered a high value because faith allows people to disregard evidence to the contrary. In fact, it flatly encourages it; it’s an excellent tool to control people. The reason for it is simple – a single error destroys the credibility of the Bible as divine mandate. There’s no place for the buck to stop. Literalists know this, and cling to the practice of “faith”; as long as they’re doing what the Bible tells them, they are convinced they can’t go wrong.

  13. #13 Chris
    September 19, 2006

    Do you think it’s the same Jason? It’s not that rare a name.

    Anyway, it’s even funnier when they get the metaphors wrong: the flagellum is an *inboard* motor, as anyone who knows the difference between inboard and outboard motors can plainly see. The “motor” is inside the cell and the “shaft” passes through the “hull” to the “propeller” outside. Doesn’t get any clearer than that.

    I’m not the first one to point that out, of course; I think I got the idea from the guy who invented the reducibly complex mousetrap.

  14. #14 Mena
    September 19, 2006

    They aren’t denialists, they are staying the course! Granted the Titanic stayed the course as well and so is Jason (why do some people wake up in the morning and go online with the sole purpose of being nasty to other people?) but they are doing their duty.
    As for global warming, scientists have weighed the evidence from measurements and have come to a conclusion. The deniers have weighed the evidence too, but in their case the only thing that they seem to know about it is that Al Gore made a movie about it so they know the real truth-it’s a leftist plot during the mid-term elections. That’s the only evidence that they need and you deserve to be yelled at and called a liberal if you don’t agree.

  15. #15 Judy L.
    September 19, 2006

    which came first? – the theory or the evidence?

    whether they’re creationists or holocaust deniers (or science-censors working for the government), denialists pick and choose facts and proof and evidence to fit their theories and simply ignore or reject anything that doesn’t fit. this is the opposite of reason or science.

    despite c.s. lewis’ deluded claims, you can’t reason or scientifically examine your way to a supernatural theory (a creator). god can only be pulled out of thin air, or rather, out the asses of people who believe that crap.

    what i’ve never understood about intelligent design believers is why they even bother with their pseudo-examination of the natural world when they’ve already arrived at their conclusions?

  16. #16 George Cauldron
    September 19, 2006

    Do you think it’s the same Jason? It’s not that rare a name.

    It’s the same one. Check his profile. It links to a very familiar fundy wingnut in Minneapolis. Plus it has Jason’s shrill tone all over it.

    why do some people wake up in the morning and go online with the sole purpose of being nasty to other people?

    In Jason’s case, he seems to genuinely believe he makes Jesus happy by doing so. I suspect this is ‘Emanuel Goldstein’s’ excuse as well.

  17. #17 AoT
    September 19, 2006

    “which came first? – the theory or the evidence?”

    It doesn’t matter which came first, it only matters if the evidence available supports the theory.

  18. #18 David Harmon
    September 19, 2006

    Another possible commonality: Heavy dependence on certain tactics, which in psychology are known as “infantile defenses of the ego”. These include, among others:

    — binary splitting (everything MUST be one way or another, no mixing)

    — idealization and denigration (combines with the previous, e.g., “good” must be perfect; any contamination of “evil” makes something entirely “evil”)

    — projection (assigning to others the characteristics they reject in themself)

    These and other related tactics are pretty obvious in the denialist stuff I’ve seen.

  19. #19 adspar
    September 19, 2006

    Another common tactic is to magnify doubt, which goes along with setting impossible expectations. Chris Mooney mentions numerous examples of this tactic in his book.

    If you can’t say something is 100% certain, or if your statistics have some margin of error, they jump all over it as if any sliver of doubt undermines a scientific claim.

  20. #20 Molly, NYC
    September 19, 2006

    The scientific literature is full of failed hypotheses–that’s the way science works, throwing out ideas and testing them

    There’s a tangential BSing technique; I don’t know what you’d call it, but IDers also like to pretend that ID isn’t generally accepted because it’s too avant-garde for all those poor, benighted, hidebound mainstream scientists–and by extension, that evolution’s day will eventually pass, like humorism, and then ID will be recognized for the rigorous, cutting-edge science it is.

    You betcha.

  21. #21 Keith Douglas
    September 19, 2006

    The list also omits the postmodern-style denialists, now found across the political spectrum. It is sort of a composite of many of the others, but is also distinguished by an explicit extreme epistemic relativism.

  22. #22 quitter
    September 19, 2006

    Ah, very good suggestions PZ. I’ll definitely include quote-mining, although I think it figures into the selectivity issue. That is, they selectively remove quotes or lift them out of context just like data to prove a point.

    The appeal to consequences is really it’s own kind of crazy. It might need to be included as an entire wing of denialism tactics, you’re right. But at the same time it might be just as easily dismissed as a red herring. The consequences of a belief should have no influence on whether or not we believe something to be true. The truth is the truth, and ugly truths, or not wanting to accept a truth is no excuse for dismissing science.

  23. #23 quitter
    September 19, 2006

    Adspar. I agree with you about “magnifying doubt” but I think it fits into the “impossible expectations” category, maybe as almost a mirror image of the tactic. Both represent a mischaracterization of the level of knowledge on a topic, or a need for absolute and total proof (pretty much impossible for any field) before something should be believed. Both are amplifications of uncertainty, which will always exist in scientific endeavors.

  24. #24 Judy L.
    September 19, 2006

    AoT,

    of course it matters. if what you believe is what you believe because you believe it, it wouldn’t matter if all evidence to the contrary of what you believed were hurled at you at high velocity all day long. you can’t convince a homophobe or an anti-semite that their beliefs about the behaviour of their hated group aren’t true simply by presenting the facts. and you can’t convince a religious person that their god is a made-up thing simply by pointing to all the other gods, godesses, demons, faeries, unicorns, and other fantastical mythological creatures that humans have invented over the thousands of years of our existence. they may accept that santa, the tooth fairy, and the easter bunny really were mom and dad, but for some reason they can’t let go of that other mythological magic-man whom they believe is watching them and will reward them in this life and the next for good behaviour (or killing infidels, burning heretics, etc.)

    my point is that people who decide what they believe first like to pretend to find evidence that supports their theory, and this usually involves selecting only portions of the available evidence and rejecting anything that doesn’t fit their preconception. it gives them the appearance that they’re basing their beliefs/theories on evidence, when it’s quite clear that it’s the other way around.

  25. #25 Azkyroth
    September 19, 2006

    Cheer up.

    Just remember, you can’t have “conspiracy” without “piracy.” ^.^

  26. #26 hoody
    September 19, 2006

    Another that might be important is the appeal to consequences. We hear all the time that if evolution were true, there’d be no reason for people to be lawful, because they’re just animals, after all. A valid appeal I’ve yet to see refuted in the PSEC (Pharyngula Sycophantic Echo Chamber).

    AS for global warming, my only beef is that people are insisting that it is anthropogenic. Utter nonsense. We need CENTURIES of naturalistic observation before we could make sucha claim with any confidence.

    Y’know that old, frustrating scientific canard: Correlation does not prove causation.

  27. #27 mike
    September 19, 2006

    hoody: As for global warming, my only beef is that people are insisting that it is anthropogenic…

    Even without PROOF (in the “science doesn’t know everything” goalpost-shifting sense) that it is anthropogenic, there are certain facts that lead to an actionable response: CO2 is a heat trapping gas, there’s more of it than there used to be, temperatures are higher than they used to be, humans are contributing greatly to atmospheric CO2 levels, the increased temperature may be severely detrimental to our current way of life.

    Don’t these facts lead to the conclusion that we ought to add less CO2 to the air?
    (With apologies to atmospheric scientists for the simplistic presentation of an absurdly complicated field.)

    Mike

  28. #28 Azkyroth
    September 19, 2006

    Another that might be important is the appeal to consequences. We hear all the time that if evolution were true, there’d be no reason for people to be lawful, because they’re just animals, after all. A valid appeal I’ve yet to see refuted in the PSEC (Pharyngula Sycophantic Echo Chamber).

    An invalid and silly fallacious appeal to consequences, that has been refuted here, and has been refuted repeatedly at great length elsewhere. Are you really that stupid?

  29. #29 quitter
    September 19, 2006

    Mike,
    Don’t bother. In failing to read the post hoody immediately falls right into sync with all the other denialists.

    First, he says the argument from consequences is valid. It is not, it is a red herring, the consequences of the truth have no bearing on whether or not the data supports it. The data are the data, whatever the consequences be. Second, the idea we will all become immoral animals is again belied by the data. The secular atheistic countries in this world that rate high on the believing Darwin scale like, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, most of Western Europe are a pretty chill, peaceful set. They have lower crime rates, and last I saw their atheistic tendencies don’t seem to lead to suicide bombings, abortion clinic shootings, or threatening to shoot the pope. In fact, their problems seem to be coming largely from fundamentalists who show up and shoot film directors like Theo van Gogh who happen to be critical of religion.

    Then he moves to global warming and immediately falls in line with the moving goalpost/impossible expectations argument. Basically, we can’t do anything until we know everything. This is silly, science rarely gives a “complete” picture, and that’s no reason not to heed warnings about potentially disastrous behavior. Further, we actually do have centuries of observation in the form of proxy measurements, and to some degree have temperature and climate gas levels tracked back some 750k years. What we don’t have is a controlled climate experiment injecting man-made gas into the environment to see if that 750k years of correlation will lead to causation. We have about 100+ years showing a potential causation, and a ton of proxy data backing it up over several hundred millenia. It’s enough to cause concern, because the experimental proof of the effect that hoody wants before we take action might just kill us all if it turns out to be correct. That’s what I call impossible expectations, an experiment that might just lead to the death of the human race is the only one the denier will accept before accepting it might be prudent to change course.

    So, I stand by my criteria for rejecting denialist arguments out of hand. They have survived their first test. UNless hoody was being ironic, in which case I say, nice job, that’s pretty much what these bullshit arguments sound like.

  30. #30 Azkyroth
    September 19, 2006

    There’s no question whether he was being ironic.

    The real question is whether he knows it.

  31. #31 Greco
    September 19, 2006

    …and I doubt anyone doubts that communism killed a lot of people.

    I don’t. I have met a few Stalinists.

  32. #32 mike
    September 19, 2006

    to quitter- The foram pickers and coral skeleton isotope folks in the lab next door would be dissapointed in my lack of knowledge (you can only see so many squiggles in a darkened lecture hall before they induce sleep). But I understand what you mean. I was hoping to add a different argument angle. At least with some family and acquaintances, I have found it useful to point out that sometimes, full on absolute proof isn’t required. What we do know can lead to reasonable fixes, without what you very accurately called impossible expectations.

    It may be a futile argument in the blogsphere (I’m a noob. You responded to my first ever blog comment.) But I can only hope to inject a sense that there are more colors than black and white and certainty is occasionally irrelavent.

    Though there are several doggerel arguments I’m working against, false dichotomy not the least of them.

    All we can do is keep up the fight.

    Thanks, quitter,
    Mike

  33. #33 quitter
    September 19, 2006

    Hey Mike, don’t feel like I was attacking you, I understand this technique isn’t ideal in all situations. Especially with family you have to be more careful.

    I’m coming up with the denialist list for the sake of the high-level denialists that are responsible for the misinformation filtering down and infecting our family members (I’ve got one or two that believe in some serious BS). I’m talking about the people who are running the DI, the Libertarian think tanks attacking global warming, and the freaks arguing against HIV/AIDS links, holocaust denial etc.

    The average dude on the street you have an argument with you’ve got to finesse, and bring them around slowly, without seeming mean and nasty. When it comes to assholes like the DI, you whip out the big guns and shut them down before they get a chance to spout their BS all over the place.

    And when it comes to anti-global warming trolls? Well, they know what they’re doing, they can take a slap down (it won’t even make a dent in the armor most likely).

  34. #34 mike
    September 19, 2006

    to: quitter – I did not in the least thing you were attacking me. I was admitting that I may not have the experience with the online (or offline) hard core deniers in person. I had the perhaps mistaken thought that I might influence someone’s position by implying that their main point is completely irrelevant, and that action may be warranted regardless.
    Arrgh. I have a lot to learn.
    I do thank you for your civility and understanding that I haven’t learned to distinguish trolls. I need to calibrate my troll radar.

    Mike

  35. #35 Lance Harting
    September 19, 2006

    AGW is hardly on par with the theory of evolution in terms of evidence. The reason that conspiracy buffs eye it with suspicion has more to do with the way it is emotionally championed by those on the left.

    It is usually on the agenda of liberal activists right behind stopping the “illegal war” in Iraq, and providing universal health care.

    Do you suppose these activists are drawn to it because of their love of science?

    A little honesty would reveal that those with a penchant for “saving the environment” through massive government programs need a lot less hard evidence to buy into AGW. Those who already view big business, and especially big oil, as “the enemy” are only to eager to pick up the rakes and pitchforks and storm the “establishment” castle.

    Admittedly those of us with libertarian leanings demand a bit more evidence before we are willing to surrender the entire energy sector of the economy to draconian regulation.

    Alas this is the nature of any debate that has such high political and economic stakes. The trick is to remain objective while admitting your motivations. Also to refrain from ad hominem attacks. Oh, like using derogatory labels like “denialists” for those that don’t share your views of a highly contentious and relatively new theory like AGW.

  36. #36 386sx
    September 19, 2006

    He seems terribly upset that anyone should question the legitimacy of Bush’s electoral ‘victories’.

    I figure most people will get used to it sometime during his third or fourth term, probably.

  37. #37 quitter
    September 20, 2006

    Lance,
    Exactly how much evidence do you need before you think we should act to avert a disaster potentially affecting life all over the planet?

    Are you keeping a tally of the papers coming out on global warming and waiting for them to hit a critical threshold before throwing your support behind AGW? All those scientific societies like the NAS, Royal academy, and major scientific societies from all the industrialized nations are wrong and Lance is right because he’s studied the issue so closely? I’m sure that’s the case.

    I think Lance just threw at us a mixture of red herrings (on the agenda of liberal activists like the Iraq war so not true and your appeal to consequence for saying it will lead to costly draconian legislation – also not true), impossible expectation (not proven yet to his discerning mind despite being proven adequately to every major scientific society in the entire world), and conspiracy (liberals believe in it, therefore it must be made up just to piss of Bush and those nice oil companies – there couldn’t be actual data supporting it if liberals believe it)

    So Lance, I think you’re 3 for 5. Nice amateur denialist attack on global warming, maybe you’ll get all five next time.

    None of these arguments, as usual, address the veracity of the data, the strength of the scientific consensus, or the necessity of response in the face of the predicted global disaster. Typical denialism all the way. Sorry if that label hurts your feelings but it describes your argument quite nicely.

  38. #38 Azkyroth
    September 20, 2006

    In a slightly more neutral vein, Lance, perhaps you could give a few examples of observational results that would be sufficient to convince you that global warming is occurring and is at least in large part human-caused?

  39. #39 Thinker
    September 20, 2006

    Another good compilation in a similar vein is the series by Prometheus over at Photon in the Darkness, entitled “The 7 Major Thinking Errors of Highly Amusing Psudoscientists”. He skewers wooly (or outright deceitful) thinking in a way I wish was presented to all kids in school to make them aware of the tricks that are used to make assertions seem credible when they don’t deserve it.

    Incidentally, I miss Prometheus blogging. Any idea if he will be able to resume anytime soon?

  40. #40 Thinker
    September 20, 2006

    Another good compilation in a similar vein is the series by Prometheus over at Photon in the Darkness, entitled “The 7 Major Thinking Errors of Highly Amusing Psudoscientists”. He skewers wooly (or outright deceitful) thinking in a way I wish was presented to all kids in school to make them aware of the tricks that are used to make assertions seem credible when they don’t deserve it.

    Incidentally, I miss Prometheus blogging. Any idea if he will be able to resume anytime soon?

  41. #41 j.t.delaney
    September 20, 2006

    Do you think it’s the same Jason? It’s not that rare a name.

    It’s the same one. Check his profile. It links to a very familiar fundy wingnut in Minneapolis. Plus it has Jason’s shrill tone all over it.

    I was an undergrad at the U of M in the mid 90’s, and there was a nest of activist Christian wingnuts on campus called the Maranatha Christian Fellowship. They were the garden variety loonball Christian sect with an idolatrous weakness for baby foeti and the Republican party, and they weren’t afraid to show it. They would set up tables in Coffman Hall, explaining why the music by Queen and Cindi Lauper had satanic messages in it (only 15-25 years too late, even then!), and how foreign aid was teaching Africans to be lazy and irresponsible. Among them, there was one really, really offensive cretin called Jason — could this be the same one? If so, I can say he’s even more offensive in person. Jason did more to recruit people for UMAH (University of Minnesota Atheists and Humanists) than we ever could have hoped for.

    If so, I’d like to thank Jason personally. You see back then, I was a troubled young man. It was a time in my life when I was vulnerable, casting about, and looking for answers. Your uniquely disagreeable personality showed me there was a path I definitely didn’t need to bother following. Thanks for saving my time.

  42. #42 Azkyroth
    September 20, 2006

    Judging by the tone and content of most of his arguments I’d kind of assumed Jason was conceived in the mid 90s, but it’s possible I suppose.

  43. #43 GH
    September 20, 2006

    ‘The sad, truly sad thing is the implication that is the Bible is shown not to be literally true — if, say, the eivdence shows that the Earth revolves around the Sun, or that the Earth and all life on it took billions of years to develop — then the whole thing falls down. ‘

    Why wouldn’t it? How could one then choose which is God’s word and which isn’t?

    They are being consistent here. Wrong but consistent.

  44. #44 George Cauldron
    September 20, 2006

    I bet it’s the same Jason.

    Jason AKA Jinxy claims to have two children (*gulp*), and your memories would put him at about 30, which is quite workable.

    If so, I can say he’s even more offensive in person

    How so? What details do you remember?

  45. #45 Keith Douglas
    September 20, 2006

    On the climate/global warming stuff: Real Climate is pretty good.

  46. #46 mds
    September 21, 2006

    ‘The sad, truly sad thing is the implication that is the Bible is shown not to be literally true…then the whole thing falls down. ‘[Emphasis added]

    Why wouldn’t it? How could one then choose which is God’s word and which isn’t?

    They are being consistent here. Wrong but consistent.

    No, they aren’t, partially because Biblical “literalists” don’t actually treat every passage of the Bible as literally true. And note that it would be entirely consistent to believe that the Bible is the Word of God without it being literally true. For crying out loud, Saint Augustine had no problem with treating Genesis 1 as a metaphor, yet some modern-day drooling troglodyte is displaying admirable, if misguided, consistency by mindlessly parroting a literal interpretation? I know that this sort of reasoning comes up a lot (the Talibornagain are more honest about Christian belief than the “enlightened” Episcopalians), but it’s not necessarily usually true. Nobody follows everything the Bible commands consistently, because it is logically impossible to do so.

  47. #47 Lance Harting
    September 21, 2006

    Hey quitter, I’m over here! When you’re done beating that straw man let me know.

    My post doesn’t even claim that AGW is false. I just said it doesn’t stand shoulder to shoulder with the theory of evolution as far as evidence is concerned. Care to dispute that with a cogent and well supported argument?

    I also pointed out that people with liberal views are quicker to accept it. Have any counter-points to that argument?

    I then correctly stated the obvious point that many leftists propose sweeping government sponsored programs, like carbon credit schemes and greatly increased CAFE restrictions, to “fix” the problem. Again care to challenge that statement?

    You were so eager to attack a “heretic” that you ignored my actual post and went into your pre-scripted rant.

  48. #48 RavenT
    September 21, 2006

    Actually, Lance, I don’t see the strawman you accuse quitter of beating.

    In your original post you claimed that you were being asked to “surrender the entire energy sector of the economy to draconian regulation”. As quitter pointed out, that’s an appeal to consequences, except the consequences you describe aren’t even real, but your exaggeration.

    And what does your using rhetoric about rakes, pitchforks, and castle-storming, or tangents about “stopping the illegal war in Iraq” and universal health care have to do with evidence? There’s no indication in your post that you’ve reviewed the available evidence at all.

  49. #49 quitter
    September 22, 2006

    The consensus on global warming, like on evolution is at about 100%. The only ones left denying it are, well, denialists.

    It might not be as solid as evolution, but we haven’t had nearly as long to work on that, and the climate is much more difficult to model, although in some ways it’s better than the study of evolution. We have proxies for climate for every few hundred years over the last 750k years, that’s a pretty tight “fossil record” of climate.

    In the end, Lance, whether or not you like to admit it, you just made the same damn arguments. Take a closer look at what you’re saying. You disagree that it’s well proven, why? Have you been to RealClimate? Have you been reading the papers, week after week, in Science and Nature supporting the science? Or have you just been reading the libertarian WSJ editorial page (which has been called out by Scientific American for using denialism)? You used the appeal to consequence. You said you thought it was fishy that liberals believed it (hey, they’re more likely to believe in evolution and the holocaust too). These aren’t good arguments.

    Somehow I doubt you have much more than a “gut feeling” because anyone who goes to the real source of information on this topic doesnt come away feeling that it isn’t well proven. Usually they come out on fire that we aren’t doing enough, because the consequences are pretty scary, and the evidence is getting overwhelming.

    If you want specific evidence, please go to realclimate. It is run by actual climate scientists. I am not a climate scientist, I’ve trained in physics, but am currentely a molecular biologist. Climate science is tough to understand, but realclimate does a good job, and when the papers in the journals have been tough to interpret, they do a good job of putting things in context.

    The argument over global warming is over. At this point, it’s just denialism vs realism. Join the right side, we’ll forgive.

  50. #50 j.t.delaney
    September 22, 2006

    No, they aren’t, partially because Biblical “literalists” don’t actually treat every passage of the Bible as literally true. And note that it would be entirely consistent to believe that the Bible is the Word of God without it being literally true.

    I always thought it was interesting that most biblical literalists take Genesis as literal fact, but treat all the equally off-the-wall stuff in Revelations as metaphorical. Genesis is supposed to be a natural history lesson, but by the time they get to the back of the book, all the wierd creatures and illucid imagery are secret code for the United Nations, Bill Clinton, and water fluoridation.

  51. #51 j.t.delaney
    September 22, 2006
    If so, I can say he’s even more offensive in person.

    How so? What details do you remember?

    What was “Jason” like in college? Wow, that’s a trip down memory lane! Again, assuming that this is the same person, he was about the same age as me, maybe a year or two older, making him 30-ish. As a freshman, I was amazed how many religious groups were proselytizing on campus, and how extreme some of them were. One in particular was the Maranatha Christian Fellowship. These guys set up tables at places like Coffman Memorial Union (CMU), where they would give out pamphlets and show videos. “My Jason” was one of the guys who would sit at the tables and give out these fliers and show the videos…

    I spent a lot of time in CMU, and became very active with UMAH (University of Minnesota Atheists and Humanists), and so I ran into him frequently. His favorite video he would show (or at least my favorite) was something called “Hells Bells”. This video explained how popular musicians, such as David Crosby and Joni Mitchell (this was circa 1995, mind you) were turning young people into Satanists and/or Democrats.

    The pamphlets were equal parts ridiculous and offensive. They explained that abortion was one of the leading causes of breast cancer, welfare encouraged sexual promiscuity, and the obligatory pamphlets — just believing in evolution was cause enough for damnation! Vegetarians, people with gay friends, geology majors, Catholics, Lutherans, environmentalists, and masturbators were all going to hell together, of course. The people minding the table were there to elaborate in case anybody had questions, which is how I got to know him.

    The way I remember him, to be honest, he was a snivelling, abrassive, juvenile little punk, who seemed te revell in the idea of so many people burning in Hell. Physically, he was skinny, brown hair, with unremarkable looks. He definitely enjoyed arguing, and was far more interested in being glib than being persuasive. He had the same sort of affectations of a smarmy junior highschool whelp, who really liked the idea of “winning” by virtue of his superior wit and logic over his morally inferior enemies. “Tact” and “charm” were foreign words to him. There were just some developmental stages that I think he skipped…

    In the discussions I had with him, I remember him telling me his dreary salvation story — he was raised by a single mother, who dabbled in paganism/wicca/new age bullshit. During this time, he “lying, cheating, stealing” (he didn’t go into solid details on these), smoking pot, masturbating, etc. but then he and his mom found Jesus, which turned their lives around, blah, blah, blah. It was, for the most part, a very uninspired cookie-cutter religious testimony, but there was something a interesting about how he told it: very clearly, he seemed to view himself as sort of a victim of Secular Humanism, and saw liberal social policies as something that dammaged people around him. He was obviously a bitter person — too bitter for a 19-year-old — who was very clearly arming himself with countless religous/political factoids for any “fight” he might come across. I think he truly wanted to fight against the things that he percieved made his life more difficult. Deep down, there are reasons he comes off as brittle; he wasn’t a bad person, but somewhere along the way, when he was young and vulernable, he got mixed up with the wrong crowd. He found a group that was supportive and accepting of him, that gave him all the answers to why the world was so screwed up.

    After a couple years, we probably both had enough of each other. We started to avoid eye contact when we were in the same hall, since I think neither one of us could really stand the other. By my junior year, and I started to withdraw from a lot of the campus activism I was involved in (double majoring in chem-e and chemistry sort of took up any free time I once had.) I’m not sure if he ever graduated — in fact, I’m not even sure he was ever a student. If this is the same guy, I’m a little amazed to run into him again. By my senior year, I don’t think he was around anymore. I’m not sure if he dropped out, or switched schools, or was asked not to talk to the public anymore, but he was gone.

  52. #52 Lance Harting
    September 22, 2006

    Yo RavenT and quitter,

    Again I never “denied” AGW. Read my post again since you seem to have missed the point completely on your first attempt. My point was that one’s politics often contribute to the level of evidence that will compel one to accept an idea, scientific or otherwise. Obviously you are less likely to cast a suspicious eye upon a theory whose possible consequences are in keeping with your political or philosophical viewpoints. Do you actual deny this point?

    So your training is in physics huh quitter? So is mine. I teach Math and Physics at a major university. You don’t seem to be applying much of that training. A figure approaching “100%” would mean that there were virtually no scientists that were unsure that AGW was a fact. Good luck proving that level of scientific unanimity.

    Unless you mean that everyone pretty much agrees that humans have added CO2 to the atmosphere and that would probably contribute to some increase in mean temperatures. Well Duh! You could say the same thing about clams.

    The question is whether we face a significant increase in global temperatures resulting in large-scale negative consequences due to that increase. That is very much an open question despite your sarcastic and moralizing remarks.

    Your dependence on Realclimate is telling. It’s main contributor, Michael Mann, is still back peddling up a storm trying to obfuscate the dismantling of the study that made him the darling of the AGW crowd, MHB 98. If you had spent anytime reviewing the independent criticisms by actual scientists, both climate and statistical, of Mann’s studies you would not be pointing to Realclimate as an unassailable font of truth.

    But again my post didn’t even question AGW, it just pointed out that people’s politics often determine their propensity to embrace or reject scientific ideas. I find your statements “The argument over global warming is over. At this point, it’s just denialism vs realism. Join the right side, we’ll forgive.” very telling. In science there is no “right side” or reasons to ask “forgiveness”. That is the purview of politics and religion.

    I have read the majority of climate science related articles published in Science and Nature over the last ten years and find the great majority of them to be of the “this bad thing happened because it has been warmer” variety. It should be obvious that this is not evidence to support the contention that anthropogenic CO2 is the reason for the warming, which by the way the actual empirical data indicate is all of about one degree Celsius over the last century.

    I happen to find the theory of evolution very compelling based on the many years of multi-disciplinary convergent evidence. The theory of AGW, at least as far as catastrophic consequences are concerned, is ad hoc and replete with inconsistencies. The “really scary” part is based almost solely on climate models not empirically verifiable evidence. We can argue that point some other time, as I said my post didn’t address that issue. Try to respond to my actual point.

    RavenT, you claim that I have committed the logical fallacy of “appeal to consequences”; again I wasn’t trying to make an argument against AGW. I was pointing out that my personal politics tended to make me more afraid of massive governmental interference in the global economy than living in a world that might be all of 2.1 to 4.7 degrees, depending on your favorite climate model, warmer on average one hundred years hence. I made no attempt to disprove these predictions. I was just pointing out my personal proclivities. Do you get it now? If so please address your comments to that point.

    Azkyroth, thank you for your thoughtfully posed question. I’m not sure what would convince me but it would have to be better than an observed one-degree increase in global temperatures over the past one hundred years, which is the only really hard data point that can be agreed upon. If you want to base our decision on climate models, a good start would be releasing the actual code that these binary soothsayers use to divine their gloomy futures.

    Since you are the first to actually ask rather than hurl moralizing invective I’ll tell you that I think some modest warming is a result of human activities. I just don’t see clear evidence that anything ominous is afoot.

    The question is whether there is sufficient reason to believe that we must curtail fossil fuel usage to avoid negative consequences that would be more expensive than the costs of changing our economy, which like it or not is completely dependent on those fossil fuels.

    My personal risk to reward calculations come down squarely on the “no need to panic” side at this point. Yours may be different, but that was the actual point of my first post.

  53. #53 RavenT
    September 23, 2006

    My point was that one’s politics often contribute to the level of evidence that will compel one to accept an idea, scientific or otherwise. Obviously you are less likely to cast a suspicious eye upon a theory whose possible consequences are in keeping with your political or philosophical viewpoints. Do you actual deny this point?

    And my point is that if you do so, you are dealing in rhetoric and politics, not in science. Obviously you can never take out all bias, but the intention behind the scientific method is to eliminate it as much as possible. It’s odd to hear you advocating bias in evaluating the evidence–that is a rhetorical device, rather than a scientific tool.

    I teach Math and Physics at a major university. You don’t seem to be applying much of that training. A figure approaching “100%” would mean that there were virtually no scientists that were unsure that AGW was a fact. Good luck proving that level of scientific unanimity.

    That training would probasbly explain a lot of your insistence on “proof” and 100% certainty. Biology and biomedical science have to make decisions and reach scientific consensus in a lot less certainty, and an inappropriate insistence on 100% proof is unrealistic under those circumstances.

    RavenT, you claim that I have committed the logical fallacy of “appeal to consequences”; again I wasn’t trying to make an argument against AGW. I was pointing out that my personal politics tended to make me more afraid of massive governmental interference in the global economy than living in a world that might be all of 2.1 to 4.7 degrees, depending on your favorite climate model, warmer on average one hundred years hence. I made no attempt to disprove these predictions. I was just pointing out my personal proclivities. Do you get it now? If so please address your comments to that point.

    Yes, I get it: you consciously evaluate the evidence for AGW in terms of who’s for it and who’s against it. As I pointed out, that’s not how you approach evidence scientifically. Your last post began to address the evidence; your first post to which I responded was just a string of fallacies about who was on what side of the issue.

    It’s a lawyer’s tactic to try to impeach the “witness”, but science is supposed to be independent of the messenger. For example, I wouldn’t have wanted to spend any time in the company of Newton; that doesn’t mean that I boycott calculus as a result. But that is effectively what you were arguing when you invoke your opponents’ opposition to the war in Iraq and advocacy of universal health care as factors in your evaluation of the available evidence.

    Azkyroth, thank you for your thoughtfully posed question…Since you are the first to actually ask rather than hurl moralizing invective

    Now I’m a little mystified–I thought my response to you was quite civil in pointing out the flaws in your argument. And I think this post is quite civil, as well. Can you show me the “moralizing invective” in my post so that I can learn how to avoid it in future?

  54. #54 Lance Harting
    September 23, 2006

    RavenT,

    The word “denialist” is a pejorative term that is meant to demean. You accused me of committing logical fallacies, while completely missing the point of my post. quitter (I really hate those trendy uncapitalized blog names especially when you have to start a sentence with them) launched into a typical defender of the faith argument against a heretic even though I hadn’t even questioned the validity of AGW. I perceived both of your arguments as invective. If I over reacted I apologize.

    You seem to be unable to address my actual points. I only referred to a 100% consensus because quitter claimed that figure of unanimity by scientists on AGW. Again I was not even questioning the scientific validity of AGW just quitters claim of a nearly 100% consensus.

    Like it or not there is not falsifiable evidence to indicate that humans are causing an impending catastrophe. I don’t require 100% certainty, but would require verifiable empirical evidence before I would support overhauling the world’s energy economy. It is no logical fallacy to realize that reducing CO2 emission back to even 1990 levels and then reducing them further over ten years would come only at great cost to the worlds economies.

    According to doomsayers like James Hansen we only have a “ten year window” to avoid dire consequences. Changing our incandescent light bulbs to fluorescent and buying Priuses (Priui?) aint gonna cut it. It would take governmentally imposed draconian measures to get that done. That is reality.

    I have invested a great deal of time in reading the scientific literature on anthropogenic climate change and find it unconvincing. While we are discussing logical fallacies let’s mention the favorite of AGW supporters, the appeal to authority. In the years before Mr. Einstein came along nearly 100% of scientists believed in the “luminiferous ether” as being the medium to conduct electro magnetic waves. They were ALL wrong.

    The truth is nothing like 100% of climate scientists are of the opinion that we face an impending catastrophe.

    As a trained physicist I am perfectly capable of evaluating the theories, supporting data and analysis of the great majority of climate science studies. On the occasion where I am unfamiliar with the terminology or concepts I consult reference materials or scientists trained in the field to help me understand the underlying principles and relevant background information.

    Now back to my actual point. AL Gore style scaro-tainment is the main source of information for most AGW supporters. As I said it is no coincidence that the great majority of people pushing AGW are liberal in their politics. The idea that industrial by-products are threatening the environment is a theme they have embraced long before the words “global warming” entered the popular vernacular. Therefore they are likely to require a level of evidence that is lower than someone that views industry as a benefit to mankind.

    If you are pretending that you decided AGW was a compelling theory on pure reason and your adherence to the scientific method you are deluding yourself. The nature of the “evidence” for AGW is cumulative at best and therefore there is a threshold where you said to yourself, “OK that’s enough, I believe it.” My contention is that your personal worldview is what set that threshold and that it is lower than mine.

    This is a fairly benign and forthright argument. The fact that you and quitter charged forward to defend AGW from a perceived attack shows your emotional attachments to its doctrines.

  55. #55 RavenT
    September 23, 2006

    If you are pretending that you decided AGW was a compelling theory on pure reason and your adherence to the scientific method you are deluding yourself.

    Hardly–after all, you’re the one who commits logical fallacies such as resorting to strawmen characterization of your opponents as a reason for you not to accept the evidence, and then gets quite touchy when those fallacies are pointed out.

    The fact that you and quitter charged forward to defend AGW from a perceived attack shows your emotional attachments to its doctrines.

    Again, your argument that I was responding to had “pitchforks”, “surrender”, “draconian”, and other overwrought totalizing hot-button words in place of any evaluation of the evidence. It is not “emotional attachment” to point out that in doing so, you are not dealing with the evidence, but rather with mere rhetoric. quitter called you on it, and you accused him/her of responding to a strawman, instead of acknowledging the weaknesses in your post.

    I don’t see any point in continuing this; clearly we are talking past each other.

  56. #56 Lance Harting
    September 24, 2006

    Raven,

    Again you didn’t bother to address even a single one of my points. You chose instead to pretend that I was “not dealing with the evidence”. I assume you mean the evidence for AGW. How many times must I say that my point isn’t about the validity of AGW but the correlation between one’s worldview and the level of evidence required to accept an idea?

    My “overwrought” words were references to the behavior of people in general, not myself, when they perceive that an idea runs counter to, or inline with, their personal views.

    Creationists are almost invariably people that cannot reconcile their religious faith with evolutionary theory and its implications that humans are just another primate.

    I don’t really have much experience with people that doubt that the holocaust was a systematic genocidal attempt to eliminate Jews from Europe but clearly certain Arab leaders, such as Iran’s president Mamud Ahmadenajad, are motivated by their hatred of Jews.

    From my experience people who hold generally favorable opinions of large centralized socialist governments and low opinions of free market capitalism, and industry in general, are quicker to accept AGW than those who hold libertarian views. Do you suppose that those of you that hold liberal views are better able to recognize a scientifically valid theory than those of us that prefer a greater level of individual autonomy?

    Apparently you would rather identify me as a “denialist” and proceed with your standard attack than address my real point, that one’s worldview has a great deal of impact on the level of evidence required for one to accept an idea.

    Then you indignantly huffed off. Further evidence of your emotionally based decision making.

  57. #57 RavenT
    September 24, 2006

    I’m not “indignant”, Lance–I just consider this discussion a total waste of my limited free time, since we’re not communicating at all. But it is curious how you keep using such highly-charged words as that, and then turn around and accuse me of being emotional. I’ve always been perfectly civil to you, yet you’ve called me “deluded”, among other insults. It’s tedious, and I simply have no interest in continuing it.

    How many times must I say that my point isn’t about the validity of AGW but the correlation between one’s worldview and the level of evidence required to accept an idea?

    Say it as many times as you want; it doesn’t change the facts. If you are going to argue that the scientific consensus is wrong, and that you know better because you require “a higher standard of evidence”, it’s up to you to show why the consensus is wrong. Saying “trust me, I’ve read the studies” is just an appeal to (your own) authority; denigrating your opponents is just argumentation ad hominem. Any crank can do that much; what you haven’t done is show why the evidence or the model that the consensus is based on is wrong.

    My “overwrought” words were references to the behavior of people in general, not myself, when they perceive that an idea runs counter to, or inline with, their personal views.

    You say “not myself”, yet you’re the only one here resorting to terms like “surrender” and “indignant”. Trust me, if I were getting emotional, you’d know it.

    From my experience people who hold generally favorable opinions of large centralized socialist governments and low opinions of free market capitalism, and industry in general, are quicker to accept AGW than those who hold libertarian views. Do you suppose that those of you that hold liberal views are better able to recognize a scientifically valid theory than those of us that prefer a greater level of individual autonomy?

    If the argumentation you’ve presented to date–which still has not addressed what are the flaws in the models that you vaguely allege to have found, but which basically consists of all the people you consider bad are on one side, so you’re on the other, and trust you, you’ve read the studies–is representative of the intellectual rigor you bring to the process, then I’d say yes, pretty much.

    Apparently you would rather identify me as a “denialist” and proceed with your standard attack than address my real point, that one’s worldview has a great deal of impact on the level of evidence required for one to accept an idea.

    AIDS denialists and Behe require impossibly high standards of “proof” as well. It doesn’t make them any less cranks for that. You haven’t identified what your standard of proof is, nor what you consider to be flaws in the models. All you’ve provided is rhetoric. It’s not convincing.

    Then you indignantly huffed off. Further evidence of your emotionally based decision making.

    No, I assure you this decision is based on a rational assessment of how tedious this discussion has become versus how little spare time I have these days. It is curious how you always project emotion onto me though, but it’s not interesting enough to waste any more time exploring it.

  58. #58 Lance Harting
    September 24, 2006

    Raven,

    You are apparently incapable or unwilling to address my actual points so I guess it is best that you withdraw.

    “If you are going to argue that the scientific consensus is wrong, and that you know better because you require ‘a higher standard of evidence’, it’s up to you to show why the consensus is wrong.”

    That wasn’t my argument at all!

    You continue your straw man attack on a “denialist” rather than address my simple point that one’s personal views influence the level of evidence necessary to accept an idea. I wasn’t even arguing that my threshold was the correct one just that it was higher than yours.

    “If the argumentation you’ve presented to date–which still has not addressed what are the flaws in the models that you vaguely allege to have found, but which basically consists of all the people you consider bad are on one side, so you’re on the other, and trust you, you’ve read the studies–is representative of the intellectual rigor you bring to the process, then I’d say yes, pretty much.”

    Again, not my argument. I never asked you or anyone else to “trust me”. I was just relating my reasons for being skeptical of AGW and how it was related to my own frame of reference

    “AIDS denialists and Behe require impossibly high standards of “proof” as well. It doesn’t make them any less cranks for that. You haven’t identified what your standard of proof is, nor what you consider to be flaws in the models. All you’ve provided is rhetoric. It’s not convincing.”

    Again, I wasn’t trying to convince you that AGW was wrong. Nice job of trying to link me to other “cranks” though. No ad hom logical fallacy there.

    You clearly perceived my posts as attacks on AGW and proceeded to attack me as a “denialist” even when I repeatedly tried to get you to address my real point that I am too weary to state again.

    It’s been interesting watching you chat with yourself.

  59. #59 PZ Myers
    September 24, 2006

    Bleh. Lance, you don’t get to suggest that Raven withdraw. You’re the one who is in denial of the evidence. At this point, anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the climate change literature has to acknowledge that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are a major cause of global warming, that we are in an exceptional period when global CO2 levels are extraordinarily high, and that we’re seeing undeniable, major changes in world climate — and that the changes are accelerating.

    Admittedly those of us with libertarian leanings demand a bit more evidence before we are willing to surrender the entire energy sector of the economy to draconian regulation.

    Where “libertarian” = short-sighted, greedy people who don’t want their comfort affected now. That is an idiotic statement you’ve made, in a series of comments rich in such knee-jerk idiocy. We do not want to surrender the energy sector of the economy. We anti-libertarians want to plan ahead and 1) ask industry to pay the true cost of the resources they use as they go (dumping waste into the air and water is a cost we citizens pay, but not the industries profiting from cheap disposal methods), 2) anticipate coming changes so that we can be prepared and ahead of the game, and 3) be responsible members of the world-wide community, rather than a nation of myopic pigs rushing to destroy the source of our wealth in order to get more, more, more now, now, now.

    The “libertarian” view is already costing us. The US is less competitive abroad because, for instance, our industries build gas-guzzling road hogs that are unmarketable anywhere else in the world. Raising CAFE standards is a way to compel lazy libertarians to get efficient, because as anyone can see, the government-subsidized anti-environmental industrialists won’t do it on their own.

  60. #60 Lance Harting
    September 25, 2006

    Thank you PZ,

    I don’t think I could have done a better job of showing that most of the people that embrace AGW do it for irrational and emotional political reasons. AGW just happens to fit in with your view that America is “a nation of myopic pigs rushing to destroy the source of our wealth in order to get more, more, more now, now, now.”

    I will refrain from answering your unsupported claims about AGW since as I said it was never my intention to discuss whether it is a valid theory.

    I never suggested Raven withdraw by the way, she did so on her own. I was just agreeing that it was for the best since she, and apparently you, cannot even recognize my argument let alone make a cogent response.

    Your heated moralizing reply is typical of the AGW faithful. I find it exceedingly ironic that in a blog where so much bandwidth is spent ridiculing faith based belief systems that many of you make the same irrational arguments for AGW that believers use to defend God belief.

    Foremost amongst these religious tenets is the “precautionary principle”. It is basically the same thing my mother uses to insist that I should embrace fundamentalist Christianity, Pascal’s wager. She, and Pascal, posits that if you deny Christ you will burn in hell forever and so just to be on the safe side you should believe.

    Here is the AGW version; If AGW is right our children are going to burn in a “furnace world” of uncontrolled heat and raging storms so you better just stop using petroleum to be on the safe side.

    Neither you nor my mother has shown me good evidence to support your faith based belief systems so I reject both.

    I find it interesting that like she, you go on to rail about my sins. Only you imagine that I have transgressed against Gaia instead of Christ Jesus.

    Amusingly quitter even offered me the opportunity to come over to the “right side” and seek “forgiveness”.

    None of you have addressed my point that your personal views affect your acceptance of AGW but your illogical and moralizing replies have made my case more clearly than I could have hoped.

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