Two conservative opinions on Global Warming from WaPo

Oddly enough, I agree with (most) of one of them.

The attack on Newsweek’s article “The Truth About Deniers continues with a piece from Robert Samuelson in the WaPo. Samuelson, true to form, sees a hard problem and resorts to saying, “It’s hard, we can’t do anything about it!” His boring fatalism on any difficult problem seems to always end with assertions that if something requires regulation, or proactive government, it’s impossible. He’s also critical of Newsweek’s correct assertion that the attacks on the science aren’t for legitimate “dissent” but rather represent an organized disinformation campaign.

But the overriding reality seems almost un-American: We simply don’t have a solution for this problem. As we debate it, journalists should resist the temptation to portray global warming as a morality tale — as Newsweek did — in which anyone who questions its gravity or proposed solutions may be ridiculed as a fool, a crank or an industry stooge. Dissent is, or should be, the lifeblood of a free society.

The problem is that the people who are questioning global warming are fools, cranks, and industry stooges (or those duped by them). And Samuelson, without denying the science, is being a typical scold, crying about people who point out the anti-science, and economic motives of those who question the science for no other reason than they don’t like what they hear. We don’t call them denialists because we disagree with them or merely because they dissent. We call them denialist and cranks because they act like denialists and cranks! How many examples of cherry picking, or fake experts, or conspiracy theories, or references to being Galileo do you need to hear before it becomes clear the “dissenters” don’t have a leg to stand on? Take last weeks glorious exclamations from the denialists over the correction of the US record for instance. It did not change the global average for 1998, it did not change the trends, it had no real effect on the science. This is not the behavior of honest actors who merely are interested in finding the truth about the state of global climate. This is the behavior of people who don’t like a scientific result, in will latch onto anything, no matter how insignificant, to bolster their denialist position.

Dissent and denialism should not be confused Mr Samuelson. Global warming is not a “moral” crusade, as much as the denialists would like to compare themselves to heretics like Galileo being oppressed by the evil left-wing Al Gore global warming conspiracy. The only moral issue is the dishonesty of those who lie and misrepresent science for a political aim.

The second article, from Michael Gerson of all people, is a much better example of how global warming should be addressed – with technology. Giving credit where credit is due, the Bushie has a much more reasonable approach to the problem in “Hope on Climate Change? Here’s Why”

In 1975, Los Angeles exceeded the ozone standard 192 days out of the year — meaning the choking smog was so bad that children, the elderly and the infirm were better off avoiding the risky practice of outdoor breathing. In 2005, the ozone standard was exceeded on just 27 days. Los Angeles has had 30 years of consistent improvement in reducing smog.

As conservatives would expect, these gains were largely the result of technology — the catalytic converter in automobiles and reformulated gasoline — and not by pedaling to work or undoing the Industrial Revolution. Smog was reduced mainly by innovation, not austerity.

Why only conservatives would expect this seems strange, as being fairly liberal I too think the way through is going to be technological.

But liberals are correct about something else: This technological progress would not have taken place as a result of the free market alone. Easterbrook argues that as long as producing pollution is a free good — without cost to the polluter — there is little economic incentive to produce new methods to restrict it. Federal and state regulations on auto emissions and air quality created an environment in which the invention of new technologies was economically necessary.

Ding ding ding! Give that man a cookie! Yes, the market needs to be given incentives to provide technological improvements to benefit the environment. Those who think that the market will just magically provide things that are good and necessary at any given moment are deluded (they should read the Society of the Spectacle). While it’s astonishing Gerson would actually acknowledge this, it’s more than welcome.

There are lessons here in the controversy over global warming. The debate is less and less about the existence of the problem itself. A consensus has hardened and broadened that global temperatures are increasing, that humans have contributed to the rise and that this is eventually a bad thing for the planet — views held by the environmental movement and publicly affirmed by the current president. The differences come on whether these environmental changes are likely to be gradual and manageable or swift and apocalyptic. Here, the scientific computer simulations are complex and speculative, and their conclusions are sometimes wildly overplayed.

I guess we had to give him a swipe at models. But if anything, the models have lagged behind the damage that seems to be caused by global warming, rather than over-predicting disaster. I’m not a believer in swift and apocalyptic, but one should always prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

The rest of the essay is a little bit more wishy-washy. He mentions the fatalist argument over emissions from India and China, but then acknowledges it’s not an excuse for inaction. And while I don’t agree with him at the end that the cap-and-trade is a substantive improvement, at least he’s honest enough to acknowledge the flaws of such a regime. His final paragraph, oddly enough, is perfectly reasonable.

A cap-and-trade system isn’t perfect. It is open to fraud — companies in other countries have sometimes increased their production of pollutants to get benefits for cutting them later. A cap-and-trade bill could be used by Congress to push subsidies toward pet environmental projects of questionable value.

But the overall argument for a cap-and-trade system is strong. The answer to global warming will eventually be technological — the production of energy without the production of heat-trapping gases. But only the government can create the incentives for Americans to work on this problem with urgency and seriousness. And there is hope to be found in the clearer skies of Los Angeles.

So there you have it. Two conservatives writing for the Post. One, whines about difficult problems and throws his hands up in the air at the mere suggestion that regulation could possibly accomplish something good. One reasonably points out that regulation can create the necessity that is the mother of invention.


  1. One of the rock-solid facts about NEWSWEEK is that economist and columnist Robert J. Samuelson is ALWAYS wrong. About everything. He’s a perfect barometer in that respect. I keep waiting for the magazine to lead him gently out to pasture, but so far no go.

  2. S.H.A.M. Scam Sam

    Of course, I can’t speak to the debate in the science community, but, as an average person, the mistake I see is having the, liberally-biased, religious/spiritual likes of Al Gore (an untrustworthy loser politician) Sheryl Crow (a crazy lady and seriously bad musician), etc., as the lead spokespeople for your cause: They seem more dishonest, to average people, than my new age ravings seem crazy to you (Also, the weather isn’t cooperating with you.) Letting them do your heavy-lifting has hurt your message.

    It’s like this blog: whether I like what you’re doing/saying or not, I’ve made it clear that the term “denialism” is really, really, offensive – because attaching the likes of a “holocaust denial” stigma to people who may honestly disagree with you is just wrong.

    Having that name – like having Al Gore in front of the GW cause – just isn’t going to win many people, like me, over. Plus, I considered Newsweek a worthless liberal-biased magazine long before I heard of this blog. I don’t care what they, the NYT (who’s been caught lying) the BBC (liars, too) the New Republic (liars as well) or any of the other liberal/hippy/new age rags say. You’ve got to step to us – not the other way around – to prove you’re honest brokers, and you’re just not doing that. You’d rather call people names than reconsider your tactics, which aren’t working. That’s insanity, and people see that.

    Science-based or not, all I can say for the GW movement is this:

    You’re consistent.

  3. Sam:
    attaching the likes of a “holocaust denial” stigma to people who may honestly disagree with you is just wrong

    They don’t “honestly disagree.” They conjure up worldwide conspiracy theories, projecting criminal behavior upon literally tens of thousands of people. It is unimaginable that their childish conspiracism should be allowed to go unanswered.

    But how are they to be answered, since you have written off one media body after another as liberally-biased hippies? I agree that all that should really matter is the scientific literature…. which is quite firmly united in recognizing that global warming exists and humans are a significant contributing factor.

    I would further point out that a majority of Americans wanted Al Gore to be president in 2000, and a larger majority now wishes he had gotten it. Regardless of what you personally think of him, you must recognize that his presence is not automatic poison to “the average person.”

  4. bob koepp

    “The problem is that the people who are questioning global warming are fools, cranks, and industry stooges (or those duped by them).”

    Lindzen? Gray? Pielke?

    Talk about painting with a too broad brush…

  5. Always Write

    Lindzen: a crank who harps on outdated facts. And switches from fact to fact as the eldest among them are proven false (warming of the upper atmosphere anyone?)

    Gray: a meteorologist who prefers to use statistical “instinct” rather than mathematical models to predict hurricanes.

    Pielke: a political scientist who sees a political opportunity in presenting himself as the “realist moderate” in a polarized debate.

    That said, credit should be given to the hobbyist McIntyre who did the hard slog of going through the numbers and uncovering the miscalculation in NASA’s numbers. Didn’t mean much, but that’s science.

  6. bob koepp

    facts can’t become “outdated”

    statistical “instinct” is illustrated by claims of 90% confidence that anthropogenic CO2 is the main driver of observed warming

    wrong Pielke

  7. I am a regular reader of your article. And I am very impress with your blog upon Global Warming. Now I am also write a blog upon effects and causes of Global Warming. This blog is collection of news & reviews like the study found that global warming since 1985 has been caused neither by an increase in solar radiation nor by a decrease in the flux of galactic cosmic rays. Some researchers had also suggested that the latter might influence global warming because the rays trigger cloud formation.

  8. What? Ad hominems abound? What am I reading? A copy of Ode magazine with more fallacies than a posting on MySpace? I am dismayed with your attribution of individuals who both question the validity and basis for global warming as “denialists”. Denialism implies a person stands against things which are known to be true. I am unsettled about GW, certainly very unsettled about its anthropogenesis. I am even more unconvinced we have the power to affect it (not at all if it’s the result of solar effects.).

    The claim is that global warming exists and secondarily that its cause is principally human. I have yet to see a well written abstract providing data which is not subject to debate or interpretation.

    In science the first rule is to recognize you may be wrong…

  9. I think you give Gerson way too much credit (though you give Samuelson just the right amount, namely zilch).

    For one thing, if Gerson was in support of a cap-and-trade system, perhaps he should have spoken up about that when he was a high-level aid to the president — the very president that continues to threaten to veto any such proposal.

    And secondly, I think you, he, and Easterbrook are all off on the market question. Wasting carbon costs money (unlike, say, emitting SOx or NOx). The market would naturally correct for such inefficiency if it was not distorted in hundreds of ways — subsidies for dirty energy, cost-plus regulation of the electricity sector, land-use and highway budgeting that encourages sprawl, tax discounts for enormous houses, etc. etc. etc.

    A genuinely free market would push toward distributed, clean energy. It is prevented from doing so by the corporatist market distortions of the past century.

    I think this is both substantively correct and far better messaging. Free markets encourage low-carbon energy. What big dinosaur corporations and their patron politicians want is not a free market but preservation of the status quo, a market decisively tilted in their favor.

  10. S.H.A.M. Scam Sam

    “They don’t “honestly disagree.” They conjure up worldwide conspiracy theories, projecting criminal behavior upon literally tens of thousands of people.”

    TTT, there are other ways to look at the world and you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to be shocked by the assumptions so-called “normal” people make while living under this 1960’s to-the-present new age influence: Businesses forcing their employees to go to new age motivational camps – something I’m totally against – while most see nothing wrong with it because they don’t know the history behind EST and other 60’s/70’s nonsense. It’s silly, to me, to think scientists are outside the realm of new age influence when it’s followers have insured that it touches on almost every facet of society. I’m constantly reading about some guru or another and discovering he was David Bowie’s teacher, or was in charge of some aspect of PBS, or had a number of sit-downs with the Clintons or whatever. You, thinking scientists haven’t been affected, is what’s funny. If you spent more time taking the weirdoes seriously (as a danger) and studying who they are, and what they’ve been up to, you’d discover all kinds of assumptions are wrong. Then, you’d be a “conspiracy theorist” too. One look at the Susan Polk murder trail (she’s the “psychic” who killed her psychologist husband) has forced open all kinds of admissions about the nonsense psychologists were doing in the 70’s, like EST, while routinely sleeping with their patients. Undoing the influence of this nonsense is probably going to take decades.

    Scientists, today, look pretty goofy to me, letting TT, homeopathy, etc., run wild without hardly taking a stand in defense of their own authority. You guys mostly joke about it, which I think is shameful. Definitely not the image I had of science – nor is running around screaming “The sky is falling!” over GW. (Deciding they can predict the future is weird too.) Why scientists can’t see that is as bizarre as anything Lindzen could come up with.

    “How are they to be answered, since you have written off one media body after another as liberally-biased hippies?”

    I didn’t do it – they did it to themselves. Almost every major liberal paper – including the paper of record – has been busted for making up bald-faced lies. (The BBC, like 6 times this year alone.) The fog of war has, apparently, caused the Left to go mad. Meanwhile, the conservative rags are, comparatively, sound. Right-leaning, but with their integrity intact.

    I remember this one time, not too long ago, there was a story on Yoga in the Military in the L.A. Times and I started investigating the writer. First I found she was a regular contributer to Newsweek, covering Russian/American relations. Then I discovered she owned homes in Sedona, Arizona and Berkeley, California (both known as new age “power spots”). Then – Bingo! – I found an article from, Sedona, Arizona, with this lady mooning on about ‘energy” and other crap. That’s today’s beloved media: a bunch of frigging new age moonbats with an agenda to confuse the public. Again: the big question to me is why you don’t get this.

    “I would further point out that a majority of Americans wanted Al Gore to be president in 2000, and a larger majority now wishes he had gotten it. Regardless of what you personally think of him, you must recognize that his presence is not automatic poison to “the average person.””

    Bollucks. Like the Left believing they won the last election because America wants out of the war – instead of the obvious corruption that was going on – I think you misread the situation: Al Gore was the loser in a two-man battle for the presidency. Americans don’t give two bits about such a guy – he can’t even get us to watch a Madonna concert (“You want to Save The Planet? Then JUMP motherfuckers!”) and, if the war was such a drag, they would’ve stopped it a long time ago. To think otherwise is to live in a dream world. Now who’s the conspiracy theorist?

    From David Roberts: “A genuinely free market would push toward distributed, clean energy. It is prevented from doing so by the corporatist market distortions of the past century.”

    Now that’s the conspiracy I hear the most about: how everyone doing business is corrupt and doesn’t do the right thing because they love killing us all for money so much. What a bunch of hooey. We don’t have nuclear power in this country, for instance, because of the Left – not the Rightward forces. We don’t have a lot of things because of the Left – and they’re always suggesting ways to take away more – but you guys are so focussed on the Right-wing nightmare scenerio in your head, that you can’t see yourselves for the constant-pain-in-the-ass problem you are.

    “What big dinosaur corporations and their patron politicians want is not a free market but preservation of the status quo, a market decisively tilted in their favor.”

    And what hippies would you rather give it too? We haven’t done too badly with those “big dinosaur corporations”, y’know?

    You guys are the real conspiracy theorists.

  11. Samuelson’s interview (podcast) at Newsweek On-Air responding to the Newsweek article on the denial machine.

    Says Samuelson: Mainstream media has been very attentive to GW. The denial machine is a contrivance. To call it a denial machine implies a wide-ranging conspiracy. It’s economically and politically foolish to consider doing much about GW….

  12. S.H.A.M. Scam Sam

    “It’s economically and politically foolish to consider doing much about GW….”

    That sounds about right. At least, that’s how I read it.

  13. vavatch

    In my book, anybody who uses the revolting term “denialist” has automatically lost the argument. It shows that they are no longer thinking about the topic in a scientific manner, and have decided that one side is absolutely correct and proven to be so – which it is not. If they then go on to cherry pick their opponents to supposedly show them to all be “fools and industry stooges” then so much the worse for them – they have become blind to reason and fair mindedness.

  14. S.H.A.M. Scam Sam

    Not to mention that many aren’t listening to them anyway:

    I’ve got a very-liberal friend who just confessed he’s buying an SUV because he recently had a kid. (That’ll be his third automobile, BTW.) Makes me wonder if any of ’em believe in what they say they do.

  15. minimalist

    Did the loony bins empty out this week?

  16. S.H.A.M. Scam Sam

    Yea, I guess so – from Spiked Magazine, on a 2007 study done by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

    “People are quite robustly sceptical about the need to prioritise the environment over other important issues, and they believe that, with the help of science, we can deal with changes in the climate. And many of us do not believe that we are responsible for climatic doom, whatever the greens tell us,…This shows up the religious character of environmentalism: we get on with our lives,…Quite a few people seem to have an atheist or agnostic attitude towards the cult of environmentalism, but that hasn’t prevented them from believing that to consume is so sinful that one must perform Hail Marys at all hours of the day.

    That kind of saintliness has no impact on environmental degradation, of course. But it does degrade our minds, our conversations and our ambitions.”

    Now get back in your bin, you friggin’ loony.

  17. minimalist

    See, that right there. Space case, every single one of your posts boils down to “some other people share my biased, uninformed viewpoint, therefore I’m right, science be damned!. PS, here are one or two examples of new age nuttery I will use to smear an entire, very large group of people.”

    Before the internet you’d be ranting to random people you met on the bus in between fits of screaming. Give it up already.

  18. Back from NYC. Seeing a fun little discussion has run along here.

    I’d just like to address Vavatch and Citizen since they seem to be new to the blog. The term “denialist” is not just applied based on dislike of an opinion. We have specific criteria you may like to read about. You may also be interested in howto be a crank. It’s not a matter of disagreement. It’s the methods used to disparage science or other facts that is critical to the definition.

    As far as this conspiracy of the “denial machine”, I think the problem is one of a straw man. The environmental movement does not imagine some evil guy stroking a white cat creating one solid message of anti-global warming denial. What we see are a variety of industries, as usual, bent on preserving a status quo and resisting regulation. This is a very common and expected response, is consistent across various industries, and has been seen from everything from health regulation, to seatbelts in cars, to OSHA requirements, etc.

    While “machine” makes it sound particularly coordinated, it is not. It is the just the usual set of think-tanks and associated fake skeptics doing their usual job of castigating science that does not favor industry. No great conspiracy, no evil plan, just the usual behavior of AEI, CEI etc. It’s just what they do and what they’ve always done. There’s no secret there, no great mystery, no centralized control, just the same panel of useful idiots that happily lies about science to maintain their existence.

  19. Laser Potato

    Sam seems to be emerging as this blog’s “signature” troll.

  20. Sam’s not so bad. He does listen after all, although his hatred of Al Gore and other celebrity advocates reeks of listening to Rush Limbaugh.

    Which reminds me. What did you think of RealClimate Sam? You said you were going to check it out.

    It’s a better example of what the science is actually like, rather than what is represented by our media overlords, who, for and against, don’t do such a great job.

  21. Mark, Iit’s one thing to vigourously defend one’s position. It is another to categorize those who disagree or take differing view as “denialists”. Within your own definitions you lump creationists along with GW-deniers. I think you may be jumping the gun to move GW into the unassailable truth category.

    Event thought ther is debate, for example, within evolutionary theory, it does not even remotely entertain creationism. I think the position on global warming should be examined similarly. Up until quite recently, there was no collection of solid meta-analysis on homeopathy. Today this exists and homeopathy is (slowly) fading from discussion as a valid approach to treating disease.

    Being a crank is one thing, however tarring serious people with a phrase like;

    “just the same panel of useful idiots that happily lies about science to maintain their existence”

    is unnecessarily provocative and erroneous. Industry, being driving by economics, seeks to minimze change and risk. This fact of behavior is too often exploited into a sinister hand which manipulates the market to the detriment of humanity. Who will buy our products if there is no humanity? A recent article in the current Foreign Affairs by Elizabeth Economy (I would kill for such a name) details China’s coming economic catastrophe from ignoring their own environmental problems. The US faced something similar during the dust bowl period.

    I prefer Shermer’s approach. Let the science work itself out and then you may have some room to make a denialist claim – until the dust settles it’s too soon.

  22. I’ll say it again citizen, it’s not about the position taken it’s about tactics.

    Again and again when science is challenged the same BS rhetorical tactics are used, whether it’s evolution denial, HIV/AIDS denial, global warming denial, or flat earth nonsense. It’s always the same. If global warming deniers don’t want the moniker, they have to stop using the tactics. Instead what you see is cherry-picking, conspiracy theories (even from people who are otherwise legit like Gray – he keeps using the “they’re in it for the grants” gambit), fake experts like Milloy and the shills at these think tanks, moving goalposts and fallacies.

    There are people who are more moderate on global warming who do not use these tactics. But just look at this thread and the last week on this topic. McIntyre corrects the US record (not the global one), by a tiny fraction, making 1934 go from a tie with 1998, to, well, a tie with 1998 and not affecting global mean temperature for that year which remains the hottest. What do all the cranks do? Act like it’s a victory! It’s nonsense. You’ve got Lindzen with his grant gambit, Crichton with the galileo gambit, Milloy et al cherry-picking like mad. Where is the science? Where is the data?

    You are upset we compare it to evolution denial, but the thing is, it exactly the same. No data, no work, no contribution, no science, just carping on others’ work in an ineffectual manner.

  23. Laser Potato

    I’ve actually had people refuse to read RealClimate because they claimed the professors were “blue staters.” It’s moments like that when their anti-intellectualism really shines through.

  24. Sam cracks me up. Enjoy his surrealist humor but don’t feed the troll.

  25. S.H.A.M. Scam Sam


    First, I want to say “thanks” to Laser Potato for the distinction – this blog’s “signature” troll – it tells me my “work” is having some effect. I get nice e-mails all the time, from scientists, reporters, bloggers, assorted writers, and average people, saying I’ve moved their thinking one way or the other, which keeps me going, considering I think of a lot of them as more book-smart than I am. (Many have even asked me to get my blog – The Macho Response – back up but, under the circumstances, it’s just too much work.) I think having my face smashed against the new age glass just gives me a unique perspective that most miss (it’s hard to see all this flim-flam as “harmless”, or funny, when death, divorce, etc., is added to the equation.)

    I especially appreciate Mark’s “Sam’s not so bad” comment: despite my dislike for the “denialism” tag, I’m here because I respect scientific thinking, and want your (his, Chris’s, Orac’s, and the rest of your) help. I’m also glad Mark acknowledges that I listen: Being seen as sane, in this medium, when discussing the insanity of new age stuff – and all while I’m somewhat traumatized – isn’t easy, but is important to me: I was once alright, and am slowly getting back there – sometimes because people tell me how much I sound like a loon. So, yea, I do listen.

    Mark – I hate to admit it but I haven’t made it to RealClimate yet: Man, my life’s been HELL since the divorce. I’ve had to move through three apartments, several jobs, and I’m saddled with post-divorce lawyer and medical bills that are eating up most of my time and energy. (Life’s not easy when you’ve been left with *nothing* – because your wife of 20 years leaves with all your money (five bank accounts on two continents) for a murdering homeopath – and you find out about it all by listening to a tape of her talking to a psychic. It’s rough.) Anyway, I’ll get there – I promise – and I’m glad you reminded me to get to it. I will.

    BTW, some of my free time has been spent documenting my experience in sound – which you can find here. It’s just a bedroom project, set on a 5-song loop, but it’s not too bad. You’ll also find my (offline) identity revealed there, so enjoy cutting me up (which, I’m sure, some of you will) after you visit. I’m actually looking forward to the onslaught. BTW – the tape of my wife’s conversation with the psychic is real. It’s not the one that did in my marriage – I found a whole duffle bag of these things, recorded over years, where they’re discussing what to “do” with little ol’ non-believing me – along with a hidden stash of books, journals (of assorted rituals and instructions on new age goals) and other “cosmic debris”.

    That said (moving to the topic of GW and my dislike of Al Gore & Co.) obviously my issue isn’t with GW science (though, to my untrained eye, something does seem to be “off” there) but more with the moral component – and the authoritarian policies that come with it. It’s an important distinction. Spiked has a pretty good break-down on the bothersome “spiritual” angle today – which I think scientists should be dissing as much as anybody else. Really, it’s the public faces – and what they’re about (Kabballah-loving Madonna?) that bothers me the most. Scientists merely get on my nerves for not fighting a rear-guard action, against those celebrities, etc., while figuring GW out. They’ve been too accepting of the “help” from spiritual types – Al Gore’s especially. (Just like Camille Paglia claims to be an atheist new ager, Gore seems to be a science-loving christian evangelist.) I must admit, though, Prof. Dawkins has made me very happy with his latest TV show: Proof that someone in the field of science is paying attention and willing to do something about my concerns. I’ve actually got a lot to be happy about these days.

    About Citizen Deux’s comment on Shermer: I, too, wish I was more like him, Mark. It’s not in my character – just as it doesn’t seem to be in yours (it’s your crankiness that drew me to you) – but you’d do well to think more about what CD is saying – seriously – because the “denialist” tag is dirty pool. No one who respects the Holocaust can deal with that. It’s just too ugly and should be reserved for such people. Attaching it to the GW discussion is just wrong.

    DF – thanks for your support.

  26. I’ve been criticized before as far as the holocaust denial aspect goes, but the word was being used before the holocaust, I’ve found an example as early as 1924 of its use and it doesn’t appear to have even been applied to holocaust denial until the 60s and 70s (Google books is awesome). Just because it got attached to a particularly dirty breed of denialist doesn’t mean that it can’t be used as a descriptor anymore.

    It is also typical to see that people say, “well you shouldn’t call my opinions denialist” but then agree that the label is appropriate for other insidious kinds of denial – for instance HIV/AIDS, germ theory etc. As I’ve explained before, it’s not me that should be embarrassed for using the word, it’s the denialists that should be embarrassed that they’re using the same BS tactics to deny facts and science. It’s not about associating people with the holocaust, it’s about demonstrating the commonality between BS arguments across all fields. The fact that holocaust deniers use these tactics too is unsurprising, but besides the point. It’s about promoting bullshit. People are just most familiar with holocaust denial – probably the first time they have ever heard it as an epithet – and that rings in their brains first.

    Also, I don’t typically whip it out until someone has met most or all of the criteria of making a denialist argument. Often, I also settle for the crank designation, especially when it’s more of a sign of a disorganized mind or someone who simply has never been taught what a valid argument looks like (and won’t relent). Those who are clearly possess a certain missionary zeal to misinform or are clearly being overtly or intentionally dishonest in their use of these tactics that I usually reserve denialist for.

  27. S.H.A.M. Scam Sam


    Lots of words have been used a certain way before something changed their meaning – “nigger” comes to mind – and I don’t think ignoring that, for your own purposes, is right. Like I said, to some of us the Holocaust is huge – and the word “denialist” has stuck. You may be right – I don’t know – but I wish you’d seriously consider what we’re saying, rather than just defend your position, because “crank” (for what you’re trying to describe) just seems much more accurate, and less harmful, to my ears:

    “Denialist” is just too loaded.

    Thanks for responding, though. Hope you’re well.

  28. No, Scam. You do not get to spew that crap and get away with it. You also do not get to claim persecution because your position has been shown to be wrong. Please take your racist crap elsewhere.

    I’m done with you.

  29. S.H.A.M. Scam Sam

    Racist crap? I’m black, Lance. You know, of the “negroid” race? A “brotha”?

    Not only that, but I’m against the banning of the word “nigger”. I’m not even asking Mark to do anything about the “denialist” tag but think about what I’m saying. What “persecution” are you talking about?

    I think you’re reading me wrong (no surprise there) or you’re just really confused:

    Again, no surprise,…

  30. And your ethnicity somehow excuses using racist epithets? I don’t care if you are black, brown, or purple with little pink polka-dots. I will still call bull$hit on the racist crap. Would you rather I stood by quietly while someone I don’t know spews that kind of crap?

    Persecution. “Oh, I don’t like being called a denialist. It makes me sound like one of those evolution/HIV/Holocaust deniers!” Wah. If the shoe fits…

    Oh, yes. You are so misunderstood. Okay… one more time for those of us too dense to understand the Amazing Scammer… what *is* your position? I’ve only asked a half-dozen times.

  31. S.H.A.M. Scam Sam

    Oh, I see:

    You’re one of those delusional jack-asses, like Al Sharpton, who wants to ban words. Hilarious.

    Good luck with that.

    And Mark never called me a “denialist”, so i don’t know what you’re talking about. I was defending other people – you know, caring about somebody else? Something you seem incapable of, since we’re all so “stupid”.

    And I remember not too long ago – why, today even – I told him he didn’t have to change anything. I even said I may be wrong (something you’ll never concede) so who’s “so misunderstood” now?

    Really, dude, you’re falling apart with every post.

  32. First off I do not believe questioning “the science” is denialism. Most of the science of global warming is based on computer models. As someone who has written peer reviewed articles on the subject and who is an expert in hydrocode modeling, I will be the first to say that it is healthy to question what I would call predictions. That is what computer models give you, predictions. The predictions have all the limitations that the modeling has and should not be fully accepted without experimental evidense. My predictions have on occation been completely wrong simply because of the limitations of modeling itself. While I model impact physics and am well aware of the limitations of the predictions and state such, it is not hard for me to question the limitations of climate models. For some light reading about how physics based modeling can go wrong, read the papers by Zukas and myself:

    J.A. Zukas & D.R. Scheffler. “Practical Aspects of Numerical Simulations of Dynamics Events: Effects of Meshing.” International Journal of Impact Engineering, vol 24, pp 925-945, 2000.

    D.R. Scheffler & Z.A. Zukas “Practical Aspects of Numerical Simulations of Dynamics Events: Material Interfaces.” International Journal of Impact Engineering, vol 24, pp 821-842, 2000.

    In the first paper in figure 1 you will see how four different people all solving the same problem came up with four different results. Anyways my point is that physics modeling is more rebust then weather modeling and ALL should know that ALL one gets from modeling is a prediction which can be true or false until it is validated. Questioning the predictions on global warming is not denialism but healthy for the science. All predictions should be taken with a grain of salt until experimental evidense gives the “real answer”. After lurking on this blog awhile I have come up with a better definition for denialism. Denialism = anyone who disagrees with MarkH’s flawless opinions.

  33. Most of the science of global warming is based on computer models.

    A sure sign we have someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

    Modeling is one aspect of global warming science, but has nothing to do with measurement of global mean surface temperature, historical proxies etc. Everyone questions the models, and this is just a strawman. We’re not talking about people who bitch about the models, we’re talking about people who deny global warming is even happening, or that CO2 has a greenhouse gas.

  34. MarkH wrote: “We’re not talking about people who bitch about the models, we’re talking about people who deny global warming is even happening, or that CO2 has a greenhouse gas.”

    I’ll admit I do not follow the global warming research and possibly wrongly assumed (you make an ASS out of YOU and ME) that the evidence is based purely on computer modeling and possibly a tiny blip in global temperature over a short period of time. If so I stand corrected. However, I still believe that people who disagree with the consensus are not denialists. After all we have the Nuclear Winter scenario of Carl Sagan which was at a time widely believed and the Autumn Scenario of those that predicted global cooling as a result of the oil field fires of the first gulf war. The second never came to pass.

    OT: I know you criticized or people relying on them. I took the opportunity to look up the definition of denialism there and I would be surprised if you or your brother are not the authors.

  35. Oddly enough we aren’t the authors, however the definition from the wiki is mostly based on the stuff we’ve written. It seems to have been generated by “feloniusmonk” who I do not know, but pretty fiercely maintains the page.

    Again Dan, at issue is not the idea of skepticism or of challenging consensus. The issue is specifically the techniques used to deny the science. People like Lindzen, and Milloy, and AEI and CEI etc., are not engaging in legitimate scientific debate. Instead they use a discrete set of tactics designed to muddy the waters, create confusion and distrust of the science, and generally upset environmental regulation.

    It’s certainly not about disagreement, which most of the readers of my blog will attest is not our style. I attack people who disagree with global warming by saying, and I’m not making this up, that climate scientists fabricate data for money or fame (snort). Or that there is a conspiracy led by insidious peer-reviewers to keep out dissenting science (it would be like herding cats). Or that one paper (usually debunked or out of context) disproves the entire field. Or that, as Crichton has said, all consensus science is wrong because everyone who challenges consensus is like Galileo (who had data).

    There is this giant stream of total nonsense being promoted about the science which I think says a few very simple things with high confidence.

    1. The earth appears to be warmer, on average, than at any time since the instrumental record began in 1880, and probably the warmest it has been in a few millenia based on proxy measurements of temperature (the medieval warming period is a area of consistent denialist attack – all of it fallacious).
    2. Warmer weather has the potential to generate more energetic and powerful storms (this is fact and basic thermo), and it is believed will generate more variable weather patterns and climate (tentative – modeling is problematic).
    3. Paleoclimate data shows that in previous instances of warming, sea-levels were significantly higher due to melting of antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. We have no idea how stable these are or how significant the impact will be based on small increases in temperature – hence they are not included in IPCC projections – but this is a major concern.
    4. Carbon is a “greenhouse gas”. A misleading term since the increased temperature is not based on convection but reflection of infra-red back at the surface.
    5. Proxy data indicate that carbon cycles are intimately tied to paleo-reconstructions of temperature. And while not previously causing temperature increases (without fossil fuel burning this wouldn’t make sense) CO2 appears dampen and extend the periodic warming caused by natural solar variation (Milankovitch cycles).

    Now, the replies to these findings usually correspond to, “it’s a conspiracy of Al Gore/environmentalists/grant-hungry scientists”, to “this one study shows there’s more snow in antarctica!”, to “this guy at CEI says CO2 is fertilizer”, to “we can’t know that global warming is happening until X” (X then comes and it moves to Y), and finally, “global warming is consensus science and consensus is always wrong” (Crichton).

    Even if by some stroke of chance it all turns out to be wrong, which isn’t impossible for any scientific theory, these tactics are not legit, and represent an unacceptable form of attack on science. And to answer those who ask what would I say in such a situation it’s simple, the tactics of denialism are never legitimate, and should be opposed. Even if (and this is a very big if) a crank or denialist would someday be vindicated by science (usually a phenomenon only seen in SciFi movies) – it isn’t because they were being scientific, or clever or their methods were good, it’s just luck.

    I don’t think anyone who knows the science expresses with confidence that this will be the end of all of us. It has the potential for catastrophe however, and considering we are living in the test-tube, we should be very careful not to let our little climate experiment get out of control. The prudent decision is therefore to continue to study climate, moderate human behavior and invest in technology to minimize a potentially rapid change in climate, and do our best to predict and prepare for inevitable global climate change (which can happen with or without human interference).

  36. Very good argument. We do not disagree.

  37. You lost me

    “Dissent and denialism should not be confused Mr Samuelson. Global warming is not a “moral” crusade, as much as the denialists would like to compare themselves to heretics like Galileo being oppressed by the evil left-wing Al Gore global warming conspiracy. The only moral issue is the dishonesty of those who lie and misrepresent science for a political aim.”

    The funny thing is, as much as I read, I come across as little dissent as I do discussion of the data on the issue. I don’t see “denailaists” making GW a moral issue – I see it’s supporters making it a moral issue. And I havn’t seen anyone compare themselves to Galileo on the issue.

    So I have a problem already with your lack of substance and your conjecture, much less all the ad hominum. How is this not shrill and political ?

    I had difficulty anytime someone supports a hypothesis by spending more time talking about the detractors of it, and making generalizations about the detractors, than the actual data supporting the hypothesis.

    If the science is sound, you don’t have to defend it by calling detractors names. This tactic, including calling people “denialists” and saying that they “are all liars, idiots, or prostitutes” – I paraphrase, but let’s face it, that is what’s being said – is convincing exactly how ?

  38. Sorry you lost me, I didn’t see this comment until a week later.

    This blog is about the misrepresentation of science. There are plenty of sources of legitimate information about the science, and I can refer you to realclimate if that’s what you want. I cover anti-science and psuedoscience here.

    As far as ad hominem, I don’t know how many times I have to explain this, but denialism is about tactics that are inappropriate. If you engage in these tactics you are a denialist, if you compare yourself to Galileo, sorry, you’re a crank. You fall for the basic misunderstanding of what an ad hominem fallacy is. It’s one thing to say, you are wrong because of x, y, and z, and are an idiot, that’s not a fallacious argument, it’s just extra information. If your response is “you’re an idiot”, that’s ad hominem.

    When people present denialist arguments and I challenge them, I explain exactly why their arguments are invalid. Feel free to visit the “about denialism” tab up top to understand the criteria.

    This seems like the usual crybaby response of people who don’t like to hear that their pet idiocy is actually crankery or denialism.

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