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Monday, July 30, 2012

Global Warming 'Skepticism' or Willful Ignorance?

Blindfolded man
In 2009, Pew put out what should have been a wake up call for anyone confused by the politicization of science. In a study of the scientific community, Pew found that a whopping 6% of all scientists were Republican. And no serious person wondered why. Republicans had been anti-science for years; from evolution to global warming to Reagan's missile defense fantasy, conservatives have most always gotten reality dead wrong. For years, it was the argument of many on the right that there should no federal funding for HIV/AIDS research. Why? Because there has never been a "cure" found for a virus. This "we ought to just give up before we even start" attitude wasn't just proven wrong in the long run (AIDS isn't cured, but is not a treatable disease and not a death sentence), but it was deeply unscientific. At a certain point in history, there was no cure for rabies -- to name one of literally thousands of diseases. If we followed the right's line of thinking, no disease in history would ever have been cured, because no one would even have tried. "It's never been done, therefore it's impossible" is what passes for logic among conservatives, not scientists.

But there's still that 6% of scientists who are Republican. There seems to be one main difference between your average Republican and your Republican scientist -- a scientist is, by definition, willing to change their mind. For the rest of the GOP hive-mind, sticking to an argument long after it's been proven wrong is considered a good thing. And so it is that when a conservative scientist changes his mind, it's a case of giving in to reality's liberal bias.

Richard Muller, New York Times:

Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.


Bonus fun; the Berkley study was partly funded by the Koch brothers.

All of this leads The Guardian's Leo Hickman to ask, "What evidence will it take to convince climate sceptics?" and finds that the answer is that they probably can't be persuaded.

Rather than join Muller on his road to Damascus, many climate sceptics have predictably been tempted by the neon signs directing them to turn back instead. Muller, as a result of his "conversion", is now being painted as a figure of distrust and scorn, in much the same way that they have viewed many climate scientists over the years. His research methodologies and results are being mocked and slammed for being simplistic and "agenda driven".

For climate "skeptics," evidence is irrelevant. Ask any creationist -- you can always poke the tiniest whole in a finding and use that tiny hole to convince the non-scientist that the whole idea is deeply, deeply flawed. But the fact that the flatearthers can't be persuaded is all the proof you need that they aren't practicing science -- they're preaching dogma.

And they can't be persuaded. Already, they're taking an almost irrelevant finding from the Berkley study out of context and using it to attack the study as a whole. This isn't science, it's religion.

The worst thing about conservative boneheadedness on science is that their thinking leads to global disaster. But the second worst thing is how smugly proud they are of how wrong they are. Imagine them during Isaac Newton's day; "Gravity? LIBTARD! Birds fly, smoke rises -- so-called 'gravity' is obviously a hoax, you mental midget! HAHAHAHAHA!" They're insufferably certain that the completely idiotic things they say are true and that anyone who disagrees is an idiot. It's like watching someone mock you for believing skulls aren't bullet-proof -- while putting pistols to both your foreheads.

So, "What evidence will it take to convince climate sceptics?" It's pointless to even try. They're idiots and they're intent on remaining idiots, in the face of whatever evidence you might have. They put all their effort into justifying their willful ignorance. There is no convincing, there is only finding ways to work around them.

They are, quite literally, "stuck on stupid" -- because they choose to be.


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