Which Deniers Of Science Are Worse?

Following the last post on science and political views, The Secular Outpost asks a related question:  Are Climate-Change Deniers as bad as Creationists?

Predictably, whenever the Chronicle prints a statement of the fact of human-caused climate change, as it did with the publication of Paul Krugman’s excellent editorial, “This close to betraying planet” on Tuesday, June 30, there is always a backlash of ignorant outrage. These tirades sound eerily familiar in tone. They sound exactly like the antievolutionary screeds of creationists. In fact, there is probably considerable overlap between the climate-change deniers and creationists; once you start rejecting inconvenient science, it easily becomes a habit. Climate-change deniers and creationists indulge in the same kind of rhetoric and employ the same sorts of tricks. Unable to win on the basis of evidence and logic, they resort to name-calling. Creationists characterize evolutionists as “atheists” who promote “the religion of secular humanism.” Climate-change deniers call their opponents “pathological romantics” or “eco-zealots.” While engaging in ad hominem argument, it also helps to mischaracterize opposing positions. Evolutionary theory as depicted by creationists bears scant resemblance to the real thing. Similarly, deniers of climate change fatuously say that their opponents want to reverse the industrial revolution or go back to transportation by ox cart. In fact, those leading the charge in warning against climate change, like Secretary of Energy, Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Chu, are the most active proponents of new science and new technology. Another tactic common to both the creationists and the climate-change deniers is to present a skewed version of the facts. Young earth creationists falsely claim that there are no transitional fossils. Climate-change deniers laughably tout the balmy climate that global warming will supposedly bring to New England (the real effects will be devastating). It is little wonder that creationists and climate-change deniers are so much alike. Both groups are motivated by a fundamentalist ideology: theological fundamentalism in the one case, and economic fundamentalism on the other. Ignorance is always dangerous, and doubly so when it is intentional.

The post doesn’t really answer the question of who is worse, but some of those commenting do suggest answers. The best answer might be a commenter who says, “In my personal experience they’ve been one in the same.” That is often, but not always true.

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  1. 1
    Mike b.t.r.m. says:

    6 articles today: Not possible for me to keep up with it all so I’l have to cherry pick. It would have been nice if PEW had taken a survey 20 years ago and found out how many scientists believed that Pluto was a planet. As a child, I knew Pluto was a planet, it was an indisputable fact, now I trust that it is an indisputable fact that it isn’t a planet. This example doesn’t besmirch science in any way, the discovery of Pluto was a scientific advancement, as knowledge was increased and refined it improved to what it is today. But the point I’m trying to make is not about science or the scientist, it is about me, the believer of that information, I’m just not trained in astronomy and I have to rely on what others tell me. The status of Pluto has really no impact on my life so it matters little to me if I’m right or wrong. I could care less about global warming but for one thing, the concern about it is becoming the vehicle for the government to impose greater restrictions on my freedom and liberty. That makes global warming a huge issue to me. Money is power and a very powerful government is looking to take more power away from me. So do I want merely a consensus that we need to limit CO2? No, I want beyond a reasonable doubt, not just beyond a reasonable doubt about the science, I want beyond a reasonable doubt that what the government is legislating is absolutely indispensable. And maybe, just maybe I’ll study enough and learn enough to trust the science on this particular issue , but I already have learned enough about our government to know for a fact that I can’t trust them. The old saying: “Better dead than red” could fit for me if I could find a catchy way to rhyme it. Better to drown in the water of a rising sea than to have those self serving Arlen Spector, Charley Rangle tax cheating, immoral Mark Foleys of congress take away more of my freedom.

  2. 2
    Christoher Skyi says:

    “I could care less about global warming but for one thing, the concern about it is becoming the vehicle for the government to impose greater restrictions on my freedom and liberty. That makes global warming a huge issue to me.”
    This hits the nail on the head.  It the biggest way the GW movement has shot itself in the foot.
    I remember first reading about GW in the early 90’s around the time of the first UN GW conference in Rio de Janiero (the largest gathering to date, and it really kicked off the whole GW movement), and right off the bat, all tangled up with the science was an assault on advanced modern societies.
    I “got” the GW part, the C02 part, but I immediately saw that the radical left would use this to pursue wider issues, i.e., there were two “jumps” in the article (and I can’t remember what it was exactly anymore), but the first “jump” was that unless something drastic was done soon, we were all done for.  The second “jump followed, of course, from the first:  a massive global increase in government control of and intervention into modern living and capitalistic driven economies.
    One the worse things that could have happened to the GW movement was for the whole issue to be picked up by Maurice Strong.  Strong, now 77, is best known as the godfather of the environmental movement, who served from 1973-1975 as the founding director of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) in Nairobi. UNEP is now a globe-girdling organization with a yearly budget of $136 million, which claims to act as the world’s environmental conscience. Strong consolidated his eco-credentials as the organizer of the U.N.’s 1992 environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro, which in turn paved the way for the controversial 1997 Kyoto Treaty on controlling greenhouse gas emissions.
    Strong is an avowed socialitist.
    Strong advocated ratification of the Kyoto treaty to stop the impending crisis. Negotiated by the Clinton Administration in December 1997, the treaty required the U.S. to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 to 40 per cent by 2010. But according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, that  would have cost the economy $400 billion per year, raise electric utility rates by 86 per cent, hike the cost of heating oil by 76 per cent, and impose a permanent “Kyoto gasoline tax” of 66 cents per gallon. In total, each U.S. household would have had to spend an extra $1,740 per year on energy. WEFA, an economic information and consulting firm, reported that 2.4 million jobs would be lost and manufacturing wages cut by 2.1 per cent.
    This gave Strong no pause. Indeed, he seemed to want to inflict economic damage on Western industrial democracies. When it comes to environmental policy, Strong famously said, “Economic growth is not the cure, it is the disease.”
    This is, of course, was one the things that killed Kyoto.
    In short, I just knew it was going to be an explosively political issue with political stakes. Science would take a back seat. I think conservatives over-reacted by outright denying GW. What they were really trying to do is flight off a vigorously re-animated radical left powered by climate change science.
    The discussions are so messed up now it’s hard to know what to think.  For me, Iraq has been a great template for how to approach all this.  Iraq was a problem, esp. after 9/11, but the neo-cons high-jacked Iraq for their own agenda.  They were effective because they probably took a page out of the radical left’s playbook for how to capitalize on climate change.

  3. 3
    Mike b.t.r.m. says:

    Thanks for the feedback Chris 🙂

  4. 4
    Christoher Skyi says:

    Thanks. You know, if somehow there really is something climatically catastrophic waiting for us in the future, we can’t depend on the left to avert it. They’ve accomplished nothing for the past 15 years by pursuing a strategy and approach that’s so counter productive, in the name of pushing their own agenda, climate change is effectively off the table despite all the noise coming out of Washington.
    Fortunately the grown ups have finally taken the lead about what’s probably best to do about global warming, and the radical left has been relegated to hiding under the sheets at night with flashlights telling each other scary bedtime climate change stories before going to sleep and dreaming about the fall of capitalism, that “great” evil they learned about from their charismatic college professors in their youth.

  5. 5
    Christoher Skyi says:

    I’m not sure how The Secular Outpost defines “Climate-change deniers” but if it’s people who don’t believe the planet is warming, the comparison between Climate-change deniers and creationists is apt.
    If by “Climate-change deniers” they mean those who believe the planet is warming but acknowledge completing causal variables (C02 being one) and great uncertainty in climate forecasting and modeling, then the comparison is way off base.
    First, as far as I know, there’s no creationists doing research on creationism any  research university that depends on grants, publications, graduate students and post-docs to maintain it’s leadership role and attract more talent.  There’s no working theory of creationism. There’s nothing to do.  Empirically, they have nothing to offer.  These guys, if they were in their right minds, wouldn’t even attempt to apply for an open genetic, biology or paleontology faculty position at Stanford, Cal Tech, MIT, etc.
    On the other hand, there’s plenty of these second type of “Climate-change deniers” doing research, writing grants, training graduate students and post-docs in exactly the same universities. This is because there’s still many many unanswered question concerning the global warming.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    I love it. After quoting a post showing about how global warming deniers distort the facts with claims that this all comes from leftists with an economic/political agenda you come along and demonstrate this. Sure there are some leftists who will write articles using the science to promote their own ends, but that is not what the issue is really about.

    It doesn’t help matters when many conservatives respond by denying the science. They would be much more useful if they did contribute ideas for responding to the problem to reduce the risk of ideas coming predominantly from the left.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    “First, as far as I know, there’s no creationists doing research on creationism any  research university that depends on grants, publications, graduate students and post-docs to maintain it’s leadership role and attract more talent…”

    There’s always the Disovery Institute. 🙂 Oh, you mean real reasearch universities.

  8. 8
    Christoher Skyi says:

    “this all comes from leftists with an economic/political agenda you come along and demonstrate this.”
    The science does not come from the left — there’s a vigorous and active area of research going on in climate science:  everyone wants to the know what’s going on.  But just like we all had an interest in what’s going in in Iraq, the neo-cons high jacked the worry,  painted with the worse case scenario, and pushed their agenda right up to invasion.   Similarly with the left — they’ve take a selected and distorted view of the science to push their agenda.
    The relationship between climate science and the left is exactly the same as the relationship between the global intelligence communtiy and the neo-cons.  The global intelligence community never said “yes, we’re on the brink of the end of the world and we’ve got to invade.”  The neo-con “interpreted” the intelligent data and came to that conclusion.
    Now some scientists, I’m sure, are in awe of the rich and politically powerful on the left, and are co-dependent in selecting evidence that supports the radical left economic agenda. I’m sure Hanson honesty believes what he say. He just has no idea how really based his interpretations are.  In fact, NASA had to reign him in. Had he worked for a private research corporation, they would have fired him for his lack of judgementGeorge Trent is a perfect example on the other side of this analogy: he was complete seduced by GWB and the neo-cons.
    Likewise, the scientific community is split on those causal variables involved in GW and they’re definitely split on projections and forecasts. The left couldn’t give a damn about.  They don’t care — they care about their agenda. It’s naive to think otherwise.
    There are people who really do care about the world as a whole and work honestly to decide how best to use limited resources.  The best example of this is the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

  9. 9
    Christoher Skyi says:

    “Disovery Institute”
    Oh yeah, that’s exactly what I mean! 🙂
    I checked them out. They don’t seem to have a post-doc or even a graduate program a young research could apply to. No activity grant writing activities I can detect.
    They claim to be publishing but it looks like a lot of  intra-university papers and speculative articles.  Call me when they make an real empirical contribution!

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