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How can people completely deny scientific creativity based on evidence and knowledge?

                               ( Based on my discussions with climate change deniers )

Here are a few answers to the question-

I come from a country that respects science and the evidence it provides.
However, when I see the situation in other countries (5), it really surprises and shocks me.

"How can people completely deny evidence without even giving it a thought and chance to occupy some of the space in their heads? How can they shut off their minds completely?" Is the question I ask myself several times. What is worse is they even started attacking the scientists and are trying to malign them. So I started investigating myself the reasons for the same by discussing things with skeptics and deniers. Because climate change is a global problem and it cannot be tackled with local measures taken. We have to take everybody on board.

The reasons some people in the West who are Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) deniers gave me for this behaviour of theirs are: 1) Scientists are exaggerating things 2)They are providing insufficient data 3) They are lying.

I tried to think about these things.

Are scientists exaggerating things when they talk about man made climate change? This year the IPCC report definitely toned down its aggressiveness when people told it this.  In science we often use 'statistically significant' results, within 'acceptable margins of error'. Some, who are overenthusiastic, mostly the activists and politicians who treat it like a religion instead of science,  might do this but not all. Agreed in the initial stages scientists have made a few mistakes. But they are correcting themselves now when the data and the evidence demanded it. . How can all the 97% of scientists (6,8) who agree with the man made climate change theory exaggerate things or trust it if this is the case? When the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree on AGW then they probably have a point. And they came to  consensus  based on the data provided by the climate scientists who dedicated large parts of their lives to hard work of collecting it. One of the most important questions  scientists can ask themselves now is How do we close the gap between what we know, and what we do?

"Scientific creativity" is what when you know one thing and you know another one too, you try to connect things and try to imagine with this information and predict things. This is not exaggeration. It is 'smartness' and learning from experiences.

Yes, I agree, the data is insufficient. And the models are inconclusive and might not be correct. The things that effect the climate are enormous and cannot be fit into provable models. But we have some information. We have some proof. And we have enough knowledge to tell that if we don't take action, we will be harmed. Isn't that enough for any sensible person to take action?
If we still wait and watch despite that knowledge, what is the use of having it at all? Wait for full knowledge and get doomed meanwhile?

Therefore, the trust on the climate scientists is based on "creative thinking of scientists" and some evidence. That is why majority of scientists agree with their colleagues in the field of climate science.

The Scientists are the ones that understand the facts, that understand the data and can pass judgment on climate change. They are frustrated people are not taking the problem seriously (ref 4).

I wrote an article one year back titled " Why we get dumb and contradictory reports in science" (ref 2).  I mentioned in the article  that your lab results fail in field conditions because of unknown factors working in the field. Fine tuning your gray matter to all the effects and possibilities is one way to counter this. But still you never know what is waiting to spoil your results. Years of work go waste. I know, as a person of science how difficult it is to explain people this and really build trust in science. Being honest about science's inadequacies is perhaps one way to do it. But what’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions, if in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true (just because the models are not very accurate)? - Nobel Laureate Sherwood Rowland ( On climate science predictions).

What makes scientific sense doesn’t necessarily make political sense. If the scientists are right, the bill and/or regret will come sooner or later. Is that the way the world wants to learn?

Those who are already feeling the effects of climate change don't have time to deny it —they're busy dealing with it. Only people who are far away from the effected areas are the people who are denying it.

 People stand unimpressed by “textbooks”, “peer review journals” and so-called “facts”. There are no facts, they say, just informed ideas. Agreed we are infinitely small compared to nature and can’t grasp anything as certain as a fact' (ref 3) with regard to climate change right now. But should we give up because of this?

And what is more shocking is a media house like Fox News told the scientists not to talk about climate science ( ref 1). I think people follow the media than they do us. So in cases like Fox News, if the media tries to suppress some information - if it doesn't allow scientists to talk about controversial issues, people will get only a partial picture and cannot take informed decisions. The matter is not about scientists not trying , it is about not allowing scientists to talk. There is a difference.

One confused climate science denier even joked by saying ... ''Global warming 'solved' a land dispute between India and Bangladesh: the island in dispute disappeared , why are you complaining?'' 

A US based scientist friend of mine who writes on science issues told me his article based on climate science was 'doctored' to suit the deniers version and some parts were completely removed before publishing by the editors! Need we say more?

Some of my scientist friends in the West told me it is the association of people with religion and other groups affiliations that make them completely shut off science. I can understand the fear these leaders of religion and political parties have. When their followers court science, they might go out of their grips. So they tell these people scientists are liers and they should ignore them.

But don't these followers have their own minds? Can't they think for themselves and decide who is lying and who is playing games? How can these followers of these groups and parties come under the control of somebody else? Really shocking. I am sure majority of the scientists are not lying when they talk about climate science.

This made me wonder whether are we in the 21st century or in the ancient times when people of science were attacked by everybody?

Therefore, the reasons these deniers and skeptics (climate confusers is the new name given to them) give don't have enough strength in them to support their behaviour. And they are harming the world with their total denials. And their arguments are based on faulty papers (7).

It’s very hard for people sometimes to believe that their seemingly insignificant and minor choices could impact the planet on such a large scale. This leads to denial. What they  are forgetting is when we add billions to the already existing numbers the impact becomes mind blowing.

To really get serious about addressing climate change, we're going to have to make big shifts in our way of life. Big change is difficult and frightening. The idea that there's no problem and therefore no need for big change is understandably attractive, even to people with the best of intentions. No climate change means no major restructuring of the economy, no massive new infrastructure, no global upheaval. Add to that the well-financed machinations of the oil and coal industries and you have a powerful set of psychological incentives for denialism.

In Ecology, as one proponent put it, you should seek to "minimize your footprint" on the world. Such minimization means the Ecology movement is opposed to the use of every form of energy, except those that are impractical. If windmills started to rival gas, we would suddenly see articles about how many birds were being killed by the turbines. They are against nuclear power, because it's risky. They are against fossil fuels, because they are dirty. They are against dams, because it may harm a rare snail, or fish, or butterfly, or *something*. They are against clean natural gas, because of the scary technique necessary to extract it. Minimizing the footprint means rolling back industrial civilization, which is very dependent on energy. Those who are more consistent hope for a virus to wipe out humanity en mass, but even those who are not so extreme recognize that human suffering and death will necessarily accompany this rollback. You can't eliminate technological progress and industry without serious consequences. And technology is linked rather closely to science, so the rollback must stop them.

I think we should try to balance things instead of completely avoiding industrialization to convince these deniers. Clean and green energy would make people accept it better than completely removing their choices. People of science should stop speaking the language of activists, journalists and politicians. Instead of trying to impose things  like religious leaders, we should try to convince people the scientific way for them to accept the alternatives. The sacrifices the people make should be balanced with the incentives to make people prepared to come on board.   

I think we must ask the activists and politicians to tone down their exaggerations and not to treat climate science like a religion.  Only scientists with full knowledge should be allowed to argue or make the cases for debates.

One skeptic told me: ''Where the real upset has come from is that science has got involved. Science is not opinion and should not be treated as such. It adjusts its views on the basis of what's observed. That's not to say that scientists are not opinionated: many are very much so. But one of the privileges - and duties - of a scientist is to change one's mind when the evidence goes against you. Everyone has a right to an opinion but a responsibility to change it when the evidence against it becomes overwhelming.

The evidence for climate change has been mounting up and continues to do so and dissenting voices really haven't propounded anything anywhere near as convincing. So, with this mounting evidence comes an imperative placed upon humanity to act collectively, not individualistically, and perhaps even to make some sacrifices in terms of wealth and standards of living. This is anathema to conservatives in particular: science itself is now seen as a Trojan Horse for imposing socialistic values on an unwilling populace.''

If the skeptics think science is trying to 'impose' things on them, an opportunity for wholesale social control and imposing an anti-scientific, anti-technological and regressive way of living, I think scientists should really be able to explain things more convincingly. They should revisit their strategy of communication. 

Another denier asked me- 'It sounds like doomsday predictions done by some cult leaders when people say your lands are going to drown by 2004. Or hot weathers are going to gobble up your crops by 2010 and you will be left with no food. They all proved to be false.  How did science come to this level? How can we trust it now?'

This made me think again. Yes, there is some truth in it. We must, as people of science, change the way we are operating in the controversial  areas of science. Trust is what we must build and only truth must be told to build it. We should not follow the path of activists or politicians and should not give chance to people to equate science with religions or cults. If people lose confidence in science, we must blame only ourselves and nobody else. The scientific process is highly misunderstood by the general public and is leveraged by skeptics to create uncertainty. If we contribute more to this instead of clearing the air, people don't forgive us.

Another significant threat to the sustainability movement is psychology, namely a tendency to believe what we already believe and a resistance to change. Psychology plays a large role in people’s opinions of the environmental movement and directly motivates them to continue with previous notions of skepticism. Motivated reasoning limits people from opening up to pitfalls in their argument and keeps them closed to new developments. Overall, it can hinder people from forming logical and rational opinions, and this poses a threat to the environmental concerns. Therefore, for people to change and accept the facts we must provide the right atmosphere, the correct facts and the co-relation between the facts and their lives. And they must be made to realize changing would benefit them. Until we do that we must face the backlash.

Big business lobbyists come in the way and try to subotage the man induced climate change theories too. They are pumping up money to protect their businesses which might face threat when scientists win their cases. This must be handled with sensitivity because when their livelihoods are involved people might listen to only their bosses. When asked to choose between their jobs and inhaling some toxic gases, naturally people choose their jobs and prefer short term problem solving.

Your obstinacy denial of evidence selfishly threatens the rest of us - a scientist's reply to a denier

"Scientific understanding requires scientific literacy." Pervasive, public scientific literacy. That requires a change in human behaviour quite apart from the issue du jour. What is required is not more statistics, but more deep understanding.
I think, among the general public, not understanding the nature of science, and believing it is some kind of religion or dogma, or a political ideology, is a big problem.

So big a problem in fact, that it leaks into the climate change rhetoric too!

I explained the deniers they should treat problems related to science in a different manner to that of faith. And that they need to increase their scientific literacy to differentiate between real science and pseudo-science.

In the end they agreed to do this. 

We should not let the denialism win. We must make our efforts to communicate our messages more effectively by taking all the concerns of skeptics into account. I think my dialogue with deniers and skeptics made me understand the problem more closely. We must change our way  of dealing with them to make them take a more friendly attitude towards climate science.

Inaction'' will cause a man to sink into the slough of despond and vanish without a trace.”
― Farley Mowat

We should first tackle the policy paralysis with regard to climate change.

References:
1. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2014/04/30/my-expe...

2. http://kkartlab.in/group/some-science/forum/topics/why-we-get-contr...

3. https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/tag/science/

4. http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/scientists-reveal-how-the...

5. The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future a book by Senator James Inhofe,  http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Hoax-Conspiracy-Threatens/dp/193...

6. https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

7. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cen...

8. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cen...

Views: 756

Replies to This Discussion

Bertrand Russell offers an excellent answer to this question in his 1928 book Sceptical Essays [1]:

"When there are rational grounds for an opinion, people are content to set them forth and wait for them to operate. In such cases, people do not hold their opinions with passion; they hold them calmly, and set forth their reasons quietly. The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder's lack of rational conviction."

756

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7 Solutions to Climate Change Happening Now

Even as the world continues to spew more carbon pollution, change has begun—and is accelerating
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/7-solutions-to-climate-ch...

Public interest in climate change over the past decade and the effects of the 'climategate' media event

In 2009, hacked emails from the University on East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit allegedly showed misconduct by climate researchers – a development dubbed ‘climategate.’

Several months later, news reports surfaced that an error had been made in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth assessment report regarding the rate of ice melt in the Himalayas.

While those skeptical about the existence of climate change seized on these reports as evidence of biased climate science, opinions about the subject largely went unchanged in the aftermath of the so-called scandals, according to a new report published in Environmental Research Letters.

The study determined how often people around the world searched the Internet for information on climate change and found overall public interest in the topic has steadily fallen since 2007. The study team looked explicitly for searches on “climategate” between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2009. They discovered that the search pattern had a six-day “half-life,” which means that search rate fell by 50 percent every six days. After 22 days, the amount of searches for climategate was just 10 percent of its peak. Information around climategate was mostly searched for in the United States, Canada and Australia.

The study scientists also followed the popularity of the term “global warming hoax” to determine the overall damaging effect of climategate and the IPCC mistake on how the public feels about climate change. They discovered that searches for the phrase were actually greater the year before the events than during the year afterward.

“The search volume quickly returns to the same level as before the incident,” said study author Gregory Goldsmith, a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford University. “This suggests no long-term change in the level of climate-change skepticism.”

“We found that intense media coverage of an event such as ‘climategate’ was followed by bursts of public interest, but these bursts were short-lived,” he added.

The study team concluded that momentary scandals surrounding climate change science seem to have little effect of public opinion – a conclusion backed by independent polling data.

“There’s a lot of handwringing among scientists, and a belief that these events permanently damaged public trust. What these results suggest is that that’s just not true,” said study co-author William Anderegg, a postdoctoral research associate in the Princeton Environmental Institute.

The study author conceded that climate change is not as high in the public consciousness as say, the salacious activities of celebrities like Tiger Woods – who experienced his own scandal around the same time. To overcome this apparent lack of interest, the researchers suggested communicating issues in terms familiar to the public rather than to scientists.

“If public interest in climate change is falling, it may be more difficult to muster public concern to address climate change,” Anderegg said. “This long-term trend of declining interest is worrying and something I hope we can address soon.”

“This is an important study because it puts scientists’ concerns about climate skepticism in perspective,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a geoscientist at Princeton who was not directly involved in the research. “While scientists should maintain the aspirational goal of their work being error-free, they should be less distracted by concerns that a few missteps will seriously influence attitudes in the general public, which by-and-large has never heard of these episodes.”

http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/9/5/054005?fromSearchPage=true

http://www.lastwordonnothing.com/2014/05/22/climate-change-the-anti...

The Last Word On Nothing
"Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing" - Victor Hugo

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What Have Climate Scientists Learned from 20-Year Fight with Deniers?

Scientists discuss lessons learned from the struggle with those who would deny human-caused global warming
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-have-climate-scienti...
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We live in an era where even presumably well-educated adults have problems telling fact and fiction apart.

'Alarmist' green groups made 'exaggerated' claims about global warming, UN climate change scientist says
Prof Myles Allen criticises 'unhelpful' alarmism by some NGOs as UN report says science is clear that drastic action is now needed to tackle climate change
Green groups have been unhelpfully “alarmist” in making the case for tackling global warming - but the world now needs to take urgent and radical action if it wants to prevent dangerous climate change, leading UN scientists have said.

Some claims that non-governmental organisations have made about climate change “have undoubtedly been exaggerated”, Professor Myles Allen, one of the lead authors of a major new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said.

“NGOs have at times been alarmist over climate change… but the IPCC has been very clear and measured throughout. I think alarmism on any issue is unhelpful.”

He suggested the alarmism had resulted in the general public getting the wrong impression about what climate change entailed.

“People think climate change is just all about melting icecaps and the Arctic, the reality is climate change is about the weather changing in many parts of the world including where many people live,” he said.
Prof Allen was speaking after the IPCC unveiled a major report warning that time is running out to prevent "irreversible and dangerous impacts" of climate change.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/11204289...

How Does Climate Denial Persist?
A preponderance of evidence points to humanity bearing the blame for global warming
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-does-climate-denial-p...

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Scientist says Arctic and Antarctic ice isn't melting

A global warming expert has made shocking revelations that the north and south poles are "not melting".

The scientist revealed that the poles are "much more stable" than climate scientists once predicted and could even be much thicker than previously thought, the Daily Express reported.

Ted Maksym, an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, conducted a study in which he sent an underwater robot into the depths of the Antarctic sea to measure the ice.

His results contradicted previous assumptions made by scientists and showed that the ice is actually much thicker than has been predicted over the last 20 years.

Dr Benny Peiser, from the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF), said this latest research adds further proof to the unpredictability of the supposed effects of global warming and the Antarctic is actually growing and all the evidence in the last few months suggests many assumptions about the poles was wrong.

He said that Global sea ice is at a record high, another key indicator that something is working in the opposite direction of what was predicted and there is a huge inconvenience that reality is now catching up with climate alarmists, who were predicting that the poles would be melting fairly soon.                              

   http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/Scientist-says-Arct...

http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/02/10/climate-denial-food-cha...
Climate Denial Food Chain: Conservative Media Run With Baseless Climate Science Conspiracy Theory

Too Many Americans Think the Earth is the Center of Our Solar System
http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/13268/20150309/many-america...

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cen...
Survey finds 97% of climate science papers agree warming is man-made
Overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed papers taking a position on global warming say humans are causing it
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Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature
http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article

Abstract

We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors' self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.

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Despite the 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming supported by peer-reviewed research, expert opinion, the IPCC reports, and National Academies of Science and other scientific organizations from around the world, a large segment of the population remains unconvinced on the issue. A new commentary by Edward Maibach, Teresa Myers and Anthony Leiserowitz in Earth's Future notes that most people don't know there is a scientific consensus about human-caused climate change, which undermines public engagement on the subject.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cen...

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http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cen...

Why climate confusers (new word to deniers) are wrong...

Scientists Launch Investigation into Climate Data “Adjustments”

http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech/environment/item/20762-scientist...

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