The CRU graph. Note that it is calibrated in tenths of a degree Celsius and that even that tiny amount of warming started long before the late 20th century. The horizontal line is totally arbitrary, just a visual trick. The whole graph would be a horizontal line if it were calibrated in whole degrees -- thus showing ZERO warming


September 07, 2012

Some cooked-up psychologizing about climate skepticism

The writer below is a psychologist, which makes it no surprise that he is a paid up member of the Green/Left. So it is also no surprise that he himself does exactly what he says not to do.

For starters, I was amused by this at the head of his article: "John Cook does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations." We also read: "John Cook, Climate Communication Fellow at University of Queensland". So he is paid to promote Warmism but that does not bias him? Let me guess that if he were to become a skeptic he would be out on his ear in no time flat.

The essence of his article however is that skeptics cherry pick the evidence whereas noble souls like him do not. Let me mention a couple of cherries that he seems to miss.

He regurgitates the totally hokey "97%" claim. See here for a dismantling of that. Just by repeating such a flawed claim he reveals himself as unconcerned with the facts.

He quotes all sorts of climate processes that are allegedly going on but fails to look at the bottom line as given in the graph above. And note that the header above is a copy of a mainstream Warmist graph. It shows a totally trivial warming. If the warming has been so slight over the last century or more what are we worried about? A temperature change of less than one degree Celsius contrasts vividly with the (say) 10 degrees warming we all experience during the course of a single day, to say nothing of seasonal variations. In the context of normal human experience, the warming observed so far over the last 100 years or is so slight as to be almost undetectable.

And the cook-up man fails to mention that to go from the negligible warming actually observed to something alarming, Warmists have to invent all sorts of unproven and dubious "tipping point" processes that are going to befall us in the vaguely specified future. So he misses the biggest "cherry" of all. He ignores the most crucial point in the whole story. Warmism is prophecy, not fact.

It would be great if he would take his own advice and consider ALL the data and leave the prophecies for those with a paranoid spark

In a previous article on The Conversation, Stephan Lewandowsky asked, why do people reject science? I’m going to take a slightly different angle and consider how people are able to reject climate science in the face of strong evidence.

A growing body of research has found that when a person’s worldview is threatened by scientific evidence, they interpret the science in a biased manner. One issue where this influence is strongest is climate change.

For supporters of an unregulated free market, regulating polluting industries to reduce global warming is so unpalatable that they are far more likely to reject that climate change is happening.

The mechanism by which ideology such as this influences our scientific views is confirmation bias. We place greater weight on evidence that confirms our beliefs, while ignoring or resisting conflicting evidence. This can be a challenge when confronted with a convergence of evidence and a scientific consensus, but confirmation bias is up to the task. Let’s look at some examples.

The most common manifestation of confirmation bias is cherry picking, where one carefully selects a small piece of data that paints a friendly picture and overlooks any inconvenient evidence.

How do we spot cherry picking? It’s important to remember that there is no “their evidence” versus “our evidence”. There is only the full body of evidence.

If someone arrives at a conclusion from carefully selected evidence that contradicts the conclusion drawn from the full body of evidence, that’s cherry picking.

Cherry pickers ignore the fact that our planet is currently building up heat at the stunning rate of around 3 Hiroshima bombs per second. Instead, they focus on short periods of the surface temperature record. This record bounces up and down from year to year as the ocean exchanges heat with the atmosphere, meaning that it’s possible to find any short period during a long-term warming trend where temperatures fall briefly. Meanwhile the planet continues to build up heat – around 250 Hiroshima bombs worth since you started reading this article.

Confirmation bias also influences which sources of information we put our trust in. People tend to attribute greater expertise to people who share their values and beliefs. We’re drawn to those who tell us what we want to hear.

So what happens when 97 out of 100 of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming?

Those who reject the scientific consensus lavish their attention on the 3% minority, magnifying their significance and turning a blind eye to the 97% of scientific experts.


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