Or, in fuller,
Why are there people who seem hell-bent on denying anthropogenic global warming?; What are the deniers trying to achieve?; Why do they post comments on your article that totally defy not only science, but also common sense?
These are not easy questions to answer accurately. But its easy to give sloppy caricatures in answer.
Don’t ask, don’t tell
One answer is: who cares? It is possible to operate in a mode of try-to-understand-their-motives, but firstly its just guesswork and secondly its probably not terribly useful. Perhaps if you could really get it right, and understand better than them the deep wellsprings of denialism, you might just apply leverage at the right point and turn them from the dark to the light. But I think this is unrealistic. Its like the idea that we can convince everyone by magic. Wishing for a magic bullet is another way of giving up; don’t do it.
They are legion
Another answer is: the dork side is no more unified than the light. Watch (or better still, don’t watch) the poor people who don’t believe in the GHE try to convince the Watties who don’t believe in the temperature record, or something else. Once you remove the train-wreck factor its desperately dull, and repetitive. But apart from “the IPCC is wrong, and Al Gore is fat” they don’t really agree about anything. Asserting that they all believe X is wrong; as wrong as the usual denialist nonsense that everyone who believes in GW is dedicated to the downfall of Western Capitalism and wants to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
Ahm all shook up
Moving away from evasions to attempts at actual answers: you don’t have to read septic blogs – or comments from septics – for very long to realise that they’re often quite confused between the science of GW and the political consequences. So there’s a big constituency of rightward-leaning greeny haters whose logic goes something like (a) “all these people like this science, so it must be wrong” or (b) “all these people say the consequence of this science is global communism, so it must be wrong”. I caricature, of course, but I think this is one of the bigger groups. This category doesn’t really understand the science, and doesn’t really want to. It wants to believe that it doesn’t need to understand it, or take it into account. This group probably contains the largest group of sane-but-misguided folk.
To be fair though the confusion between science and politics is depressingly common on the greeny side too. Any number of people will try to tell you that because you believe in the science of GW, therefore you must believe in their pet solution to the problem. And its a pernicious error, because it pushes the “(b)” people above away from the science.
They’re nice to me
If you’re a bit of a nutso, and wander into the GW debate, you’re quite likely to spout some piece of drivel you’ve innocently picked up from some septic blog, and someone who clearly knows much more than you will then tell you “you’re spouting drivel that you’ve picked up from a septic blog”. On the other hand, if you wander over to, say, WUWT you can talk as much drivel as you like and no-one will care; and very likely people will even compliment you on your drivel, especially if its clear that you believe that Al Gore is fat. People like being told that they’re right, and don’t like being told that they’re wrong. Since there is a wide spread ocean of wrong and the islands of right are harder to find, its likely that the lazy folk, always a majority, will get things wrong. And such people are unlikely to be self-disciplined enough to say “hmm, yes, you have a point, I really am a bit ignorant about that”; they’re more likely to surrender to the warm but smelly embrace of the septics.
People have said, quite directly, in comments here (that of course I can’t be bothered to find right now) that they don’t believe what I say because I’m not saying it nicely. Anyone saying such a thing is clearly stupid, but alas not unusual.
Not invented here
A fairish segment of the denialism market has convinced itself that all climate science since Lamb is wrong, and all climatologists corrupt or stupid. And so they wander around re-inventing the wheel, badly. Once they’ve got into that state, pointing them at fairly basic textbooks or papers that do what they’ve just done, but properly, doesn’t trigger a response of “oh yes, we were wrong, thank you for correcting us”. It either triggers embarrassment, if they’re capable or reading the papers, or more likely fury if they discover themselves unable to even understand the basics when explained properly. And so human nature kicks in.
That’s only a small set, of course, because people with enough imagination to invent, or re-invent badly, or even think, are fairly rare. Far more common are the related Dumb America type folks, who approach a complex problem, make the first obvious error that they can see, and then stick vigourously to that error as proof that they won’t succumb to “consensus”. Their rejection of the obvious evidence then becomes self-evidence for their ability to “think”, and so they’re stuck.
A motto of this kind of strand of thought, if you’re interested in mottoes, is that its a pretty good idea not to argue in such a way as to put people’s backs up; because you won’t get them to back down. So calling people “dumb”, “tossers”, “septics” and “denialists” is just bad debating style. Fortunately, I’m not here to convince anyone who doesn’t want to be convinced, so I don’t have to live by those fine rules. People like ATTP or Bart do that kind of thing well, and I admire them for it, but I’m not going to emulate them.
[This section added after the first comment.] How embarrassing. I totally forgot this category: those who are simply for hire. Perhaps I can justify forgetting about them, in the context of the question, because the answer is obvious: money. Its not large, numerically, but of course its part of the hard core; and part of their function is to be a core for the weak to coalesce around. They aren’t worth talking to, of course, because they aren’t it to learn, but only for the gold. They’re worth talking at, because of the bystanders.
[Another one I forgot. DB says it quite well in a comment so I won’t re say it.
Don’t overestimate their dedication
Sometimes we take the septics too seriously. Many, well most, of them are lightweights. They’re good for a drive-by blog comment, but not for a sustained argument. They’re good for a quick whinge about wikipedia, but not for the hard slog of trying to write articles that make sense. Are they “hell bent” on anything? Not really, outside a hard core.
* A Look at the ‘Shills,’ ‘Skeptics’ and ‘Hobbyists’ Lumped Together in Climate Denialism – Andy Revkin.
* Time to push back against the global warming Nazis – Dr Roy burns his bridges, and his fanbois compete to see who can make up the naughtiest words.