29 May 2010

Six essential habits for effective climate deniers

* 1. Allege that there's a conspiracy. Claim that scientific consensus has arisen through collusion rather than the accumulation of evidence.
* 2. Use fake experts to support your story. "Denial always starts with a cadre of pseudo-experts with some credentials that create a facade of credibility," says Seth Kalichman of the University of Connecticut.
* 3. Cherry-pick the evidence: trumpet whatever appears to support your case and ignore or rubbish the rest. Carry on trotting out supportive evidence even after it has been discredited.
* 4. Create impossible standards for your opponents. Claim that the existing evidence is not good enough and demand more. If your opponent comes up with evidence you have demanded, move the goalposts.
* 5. Use logical fallacies. Hitler opposed smoking, so anti-smoking measures are Nazi. Deliberately misrepresent the scientific consensus and then knock down your straw man.
* 6. Manufacture doubt. Falsely portray scientists as so divided that basing policy on their advice would be premature. Insist "both sides" must be heard and cry censorship when "dissenting" arguments or experts are rejected.

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2 comments:

Richard B said...

very nice. essential reading for every would be climate denier. I'll pass it on to my tory, electric-car lobbying classmate.

Ben Courtice said...

A friend described the psychology of the climate deniers in the following way. Since the 1970s (at least) there has been a backlash against environmental views. The backlash comes from conservatives and reactionaries who are wedded to the idea that Man Dominates Nature, an idea with deep roots in both bourgeois philosophy and patriarchal religion. The anti-greenie backlash has been fuelled by the fossil fuel industry, of course, but a core constituency is these insecure patriarchal and technocratic "dominationists". It's much the same as the patriarchal reaction against feminism, in many ways.

Of course you can't explain it without the support from industry, but it is a useful insight I think.