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On Climate, Conspiracy or Science?

October 10, 2011

I’ve been intrigued by the success of anti-scientific arguments in the debate over climate change. Just intrigued. I never thought I would witness a successful assault on any scientific consensus. Never thought that voodoo could triumph.

Geoffrey Barker captures this sense of bewilderment in his column in today’s Financial Review. He reminds us of the astonishing allegation implied by climate change deniers:

… [T]hey claim essentially that Western scientists are conspiring to spread the false, pernicious and frightening claim that global warming is a grave problem with potentially devastating consequences for life on earth.

That is they allege – implicitly or explicitly – a huge conspiracy by scientists. To this, Barker responds:

It is an unfalsifiable and paranoid claim. Why should scientists seek to propagate a vast lie if there is no evidence to support it? How has a consensus been reached separately in so many places if it is false?

You can apply this response to other conspiracy theories, of course, asking simply Why and How? As Barker continues:

Science is a publicly reported and peer-reviewed activity in which findings are subjected to searching expert examination. The prospects of a closed global conspiracy are therefore remote.

I agree. The assault on the scientific premises of climate change has been one of the most remarkable victories for obscurantism in human history.

  1. Christopher Brown permalink
    October 10, 2011 12:30 pm

    Hear, hear. Where is the mainstream media launching an editorial assault on the voodoo crowd? Mind you, if the Labor Party had any capacity to tell a story, campaign for a cause or carry a policy argument, the issue would never have gained public momentum (nor the anti-immigration or anti-gay marriage debates).

    Where have Federal Labor’s communicators gone? What happened to the Hawke/Keating legacy? Why can the PM apparently control a private room like none other (ie, Independent MP’s) but be so hopeless in talking to macro audience, having her ass kicked up and down the country by Abbott’s simple (and simpleton) messages?

    Isn’t politics all about communication and influence? Sad. Very, very sad.

  2. October 10, 2011 12:35 pm

    I liken the argument for climate change as being that of the advice of the doctor or health professional. They tell you that you have a problem based on scientific evidence. They also tell you that something needs to be done to fix it, which usually means having to give up bad habits and taking on lifestyle changes.
    The argument against climate change is like the advice of the needy mate. This is the guy who makes you feel comfortable by telling you that you are fine and don’t need to change – keep smoking, drinking, gambling and indulging. They know that if you try to make changes they will lose out because you will be getting rid of useless baggage like them.
    Unfortunately all too many people will listen to needy mates rather than professional advice as a way of maintaining a comfort zone and putting off the inevitable, often until it is too late.

  3. Watson permalink
    October 10, 2011 12:42 pm

    The only thing left to do is to wait for Paul Gilding’s ‘Great Disruption’ – due any time between tomorrow and 2020 at the latest, and watch the bloodbath of recrimination that will ensue when the general public learns that they have been sold a lie that is going to cost them and their descendants financial and physical pain into the tenth generation.
    Oh the weeping and wailing when they take away our cars (because there’s no fuel left), air-conditioners, plasma TVs (because we won’t have enough renewable energy to power them )and most painfully of all, our jobs (because they’re all based on a carbon economy). These will be the very same jobs that the current leader of the opposition claims to be protecting.
    But I’m sure someone will manage to blame the Greens.

  4. Peter M permalink
    October 10, 2011 2:49 pm

    There is a 70’s comment by Anne Deveson who prior to being on the Royal Commission on Human Relationships believed that you only had to explain something to someone clearly and rationally and they would accept it, but after the Commission finished had to change her opinion. This kind of revelation repeats itself year after year in any number of debates and oddly people are freshly surprised. In everyday life we are far from rational creatures and in self-interested politics even less so.

  5. Tomasso permalink
    October 10, 2011 5:48 pm

    Peter (the first Peter above) seems to identify a professional class of paid spinners with the well-meaning, but wrong mate re-assuring you that your bad habits aren’t something to really worry about or act on. Sadly, the professional class of paid spinners know exactly how they are whistling dogs and deceiving anyone deceivable. The real challenge is the hearts and minds of those so gullible and comfortable that they would believe anyone acting like some kind of mate. Tom.

    • Peter permalink
      October 10, 2011 9:39 pm

      Needy mates are exactly like the professional class of professional spinners you are talking about. Do not get these parasites confused with friends. They pretend to care for you but are concerned only with their own personal well being and need you to stay the same to comfort themselves. The analogy is very apt.

  6. billking662 permalink
    October 12, 2011 2:24 pm

    So far most of the comments have been supportive… but for how long? Are these all the replies, or are you screening Mr Carr? Maybe this blog simply has a more intellectual audience?

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