To convince a skeptic?

In honour of a morning’s decent work on my dissertation, I thought I’d dig up this old gem. It’s the list of demands I managed to squeeze out of a climate change skeptic who’d been arguing with me here a while back:

” I want to know what you’d need to see to admit AGW is actually occurring.”

How clearly do I need to put it. We have a hypothesis “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming”.
Fact: It is unproven.
What would make me support it?

Included would be:
Some facts that appear to support the hypothesis.
Absence of facts that disprove the hypothesis.
Absence of facts that do not support the hypothesis.
Absence of hypebolic statements from such people as Al Gore, the media and the IPCC which are frequently nonsense.
A lack of scientists who do not support the thesis.
A lack of silence on the costs (Social and Economic)of actually acheiving the CO2 reductions demanded by the IPCC.
The absence of apparent hidden agenda of a number of the key players in this scare.
The absence of the attitude of many “Alarmists” such as yourself in that they refuse to consider any facts which contradict their faith.
The absence of Cap and Trade proposals which are pointless except to take money from the masses.
The absence of the proposed diversion of funds through the above and other measures, away from the real needs of this planet.

This list is one of the most honest and revealing representations of a skeptic position I’ve encountered. A complete misunderstanding of how science works, but really, digging deep into personality and politics. Roger doesn’t like the kind of people who talk about global warming, and he doesn’t like some of the proposed solutions, and his answer is to deny it’s real.

Anyway, here’s a picture I took while walking home on Friday.

Nothing particularly compelling about this photo, I just like the uniformity of the building.

Categories: environmentalism, Politics, Problems, Science, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “To convince a skeptic?

  1. M@

    Shoot all the bluejays you want, you’ll never kill a mockingbird.

  2. Alana

    Look aound, lots and lots of buildings are “uniform.”


    M@: Bluejays would feel the same pain as a mockingbird! (Are you thinking Harper Lee?)

  3. Rogerthesurf?
    I have to thank him, in the end of the day – it was his hatred of climate science that lead me onto many new blogs, yours included.
    It’s not amazing how few of the suggested points of required evidence are actually scientifically based points and thus the impossibility in convincing the other of the high likelihood of ACC.
    Just as you couldn’t convince a Collingwood supporter that Melbourne are a better AFL team or a Liberal supporter that the Greens have an excellent proposal in “A” or that “X” religion is better than their chosen religion.
    Realising this fact about a small group of angry older people helps a dedicated scientific communicator get on with their job and not waste too much time on such people.

  4. M@

    @Alana yeah I was thinking Harper Lee.

  5. Moth, yep! The only problem is that we look for people who interact on an issue, and unfortunately, these are often the people willing to speak up. It’s just a waste of time to talk back :-(

    I think particularly funny is the ‘absence of cap and trade proposals’. How can anyone think that the absence of a proposed solution is evidence a problem is real?

    “I refuse to believe that I have cancer because you are proposing I should take chemotherapy and that’s dangerous to my health.”

  6. I originally had that point in my comment – it is nuts that he thinks action = conspiracy.

    I’d say it would be impossible to convince him of his errors. It confirms his suspicions/fears and so makes sense to him. If anything, I think he was trying to be clever and give you his laundry list of “discoveries” in the worldwide, multi-generational scam in a format that he figured you’d listen to the “truth” or attempt to debunk – thereby leading him into giving you his “evidence”.

    The sad thing is, they’re all the same. I even got into an argument with an anti-vax fan on Barry Bickmore’s blog who knew the “truth” in much the same way recently. He was convinced of the same thing – that scientific methodology has been undermined by greedy pseudo-science – and he had, like Roger, all the general articles to prove it. Or so he thought. It ended in much the same way – me telling him that there was no point continuing the conversation as we were going nowhere.

    You need to know when to just walk away.

  7. lol

  8. M@

    ‘we’re going to lean how to discipline your image: do you think i got where I am dressed like peter pan here?… take a look (at) what i’m wearing; do you think anyone wants a roundhouse kick to the face while i’m wearing one of these bad boys?’

  9. Peter T

    there was an interesting article in the latest limnology and oceanography bulletin titled “why doesn’t the public accept scientific concensus – aka “why won’t they listen to us?”

    it referred to research in the social sciences on this topic. some key findings have been:

    – climategate was a major setback and affected the public’s view on all scientists (although scientists are still the most trusted source on climate)

    – the phenomena of “cultural cognition – influence of group values on risk perceptions and related beliefs” is more important than scientific literacy (some knowledge of science can lead to more polarized views)

    – a 2010 nature paper (kahan) found that “people find it disconcerting to believe that behaviour that they find noble is nevertheless detrimental to society, and behaviour that they find base is beneficial to it”; e.g. people who value commerce and industry dismissing environmental risks that would lead to restrictions.

    – the messenger may be as or more important than the message; if the expert presenting the information shares their values they are more likely to believe them.

  10. Great points Peter! Food for thought


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