Why do Global Warming "Skeptics" Reject Rational Debate?

I’ve been reflecting on my past few years worth of futile attempts to engage various “climate science skeptics” in a substantive debate.
An exercise that began with Letters to the Editor and that has evolved into my modest blog that has visitors from around the world.
Besides learning a great deal more about the substance of the various lines of increasingly solid evidence,
I’ve learned about the human ability to hide from the uncomfortable and scary.
I’ve also learned that the loudest deniers of anthropogenic global warming consistently turn out
to be cowards who will bluster and insult and threaten,
but in the end, they always run away from defending their various claims in an objective manner.
In a way that’s not surprising since there is no substance to their various claims.
But, what’s shocked me is that rather than learning from their failures and mistakes,
they erect ever weirder intellectual contortions while becoming increasingly hostile, some bordering on the vicious.
~ ~ ~
I don’t pretend to be a learned intellectual, but it seems to me there are basically two kinds of debates:
The one would be your political debate, where winning your argument is the only thing that matters.
This style of debate is a ‘no holds barred’ exercise where rhetorical fancy dancing, misrepresenting facts,
and personal attacks to distract, are all considered fair-play towards the goal of winning for one’s personal agenda.
The other, I would call a constructive rational debate where each side remains focused on the facts,
explaining those facts, the evidence, or lack thereof, along with their implications.
In this style of debate learning and arriving at a constructive consensus is more important than “winning,”
since arriving at a solid realistic understanding is of paramount importance.
A constructive rational debate requires a certain level of respect for the known facts along with your opponent’s integrity -
which is not to be confused with liking your opponent, or accepting what they are proposing.
Thing is, both sides agree that the weight of objective evidence must carry the day,
even when that means admitting ones own assumptions were mistaken.

Unfortunately the neo-Republican/Libertarian’s desperation to protect their political and business status quo
has obliterated their notions of personal intellectual integrity, respect and honestly -
which in turn has reduced our ‘global warming education dialogue’ to a dog fight
where one side sticks to the rules of rational constructive engagement
and the other side acts as though they were in an alley brawl.
Tragically it’s not the chorus of strident climate science deniers but our children who will be paying the price for our unforgivable failure.
:down: http://whatsupwiththatwatts.blogspot.com
{edited - Sorry, “honest” wasn’t a good word at all -" Good Faith" would have been far better, but Rational works too.}

How politics makes us stupid] by Ezra Kelin

How politics makes us stupid] by Ezra Kelin
Cool I've cue'd it up and will read it later. ~~~~~~~ Also it turns out that Victor Venema, a real scientist, who has his own blog "Variable-Variability" wrote on the same topic today. I'd love to say "great minds think alike" but I appreciate that when it comes to intellect, he leaves me behind to eat his dust. But, that won't stop me from doing the best I can with what I got. :cheese:
Variable Variability Sunday, 27 April 2014 Are debatable scientific questions debatable? Debate In the article a distinction is made between political debates and scientific disputes. I shall use this word ‘debate’ as a term of art for an argumentation ritual defined by the following features: * A debate is a one-off, public event, initiated and completed within a limited period of time. Typically, it is conducted in a forum before an audience, most of whom take no direct part in the proceedings and may be quite ill-informed on the topic. ... * A debate is conducted orally, in direct speech, by named participants. ... * A debate has a specific topic, in the form of a ‘black or white’ proposition. This is typically understood to be a ‘question’ to be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’ ... * The argumentation is polarized, and balanced ritually between a protagonist and an antagonist, (‘proponent’ vs ‘opponent’, ‘plaintiff’ vs ‘defendant’ , etc.) ... * The proceedings are adversarial, in that each ‘party’ endeavours not only to make their own case but also to negate the case of their opponents, even to the extent of attacking their credibility as expert advocates or cross-examining them severely on disputable points. * A debate is normally conducted by a chair (or ‘speaker’), who simply ensures that the rules are observed. ... * The debate almost always concludes with a decision — i.e. a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to the question— determined typically by a simple majority of those who have (supposedly!) attended to the debate and are qualified to vote on such matters. Sometimes this includes the whole audience … A debate is about winning and convincing, it is not about improving our understanding of reality, of the problem at hand, not even of the position of the other party. {…} The questions also have a different nature. A debate, in a formal sense, is normally about the acceptability of a specific proposition, but scientific controversies are seldom that simple. ... In reality, scientific progress does not follow Popper's recipe of successive theoretical conjectures being winnowed away by empirical refutations. As other philosophers have pointed out, there are always just too many other untested assumptions that might be the cause of the apparent disconfirmation. While I do not think that Karl Popper was that naive, it is clearly true that if a discrepancy is seen in science, it is not clear in advance where the problem lies. Finding that is the largest part of solving the problem. Further differences are: * The audience is assumed to be already very well-informed on the topic; * The proceedings are not adversarial, as between officially identified protagonists and antagonists; * Attacks on the personal motivation or credibility of the disputants are unacceptable; * The discussion does not close with a formal decision or verdict. Concluding. Conventional 'debating' practises just do not fit into the evolution of scientific knowledge in its traditional academic mode. In effect, 'debatable' scientific issues are never actually 'debated'. One must therefor seriously ask whether much of value can be achieved by a formal procedure designed to bring scientists together for just such an activity. All the more so for bringing scientists and anti-scientists together. It will certainly not help scientific progress. I fail to see how it would help in communicating our current understanding to the public. A documentary seems much better suited for that.
Good article, there's a much more than I could copy and paste here - check it out. Variable-Variability(dot)blogspot(dot)com /2014/04/debatable-scientific-questions-climate-debate(dot)html sorry the spam monster got me - the link needs to be recomposed.

I guess I’m not sure what you expect. You’re dealing with people who are ignorant and proud of it. But they aren’t so ignorant as to not realize there are plenty of other people out there even more ignorant, who they can successfully engage by appealing to that very ignorance. Combine that with an Ends Justify The Means attitude, and usually religion, and you have a perfect tool for swaying the masses. It’s been around for thousands of years, and was the stock and trade for Christianity for centuries. It’s just going to take a long long long long time, generations, before that attitude is gone.

I've been reflecting on my past few years worth of futile attempts to engage various "climate science skeptics" in a substantive debate. An exercise that began with Letters to the Editor and that has evolved into my modest blog that has visitors from around the world. Besides learning a great deal more about the substance of the various lines of increasingly solid evidence, I've learned about the human ability to hide from the uncomfortable and scary. I've also learned that the loudest deniers of anthropogenic global warming consistently turn out to be cowards who will bluster and insult and threaten, but in the end, they always run away from defending their various claims in an objective manner. In a way that's not surprising since there is no substance to their various claims. But, what's shocked me is that rather than learning from their failures and mistakes, they erect ever weirder intellectual contortions while becoming increasingly hostile, some bordering on the vicious. ~ ~ ~ I don't pretend to be a learned intellectual, but it seems to me there are basically two kinds of debates: The one would be your political debate, where winning your argument is the only thing that matters. This style of debate is a 'no holds barred' exercise where rhetorical fancy dancing, misrepresenting facts, and personal attacks to distract, are all considered fair-play towards the goal of winning for one's personal agenda. The other, I would call a constructive rational debate where each side remains focused on the facts, explaining those facts, the evidence, or lack thereof, along with their implications. In this style of debate learning and arriving at a constructive consensus is more important than "winning," since arriving at a solid realistic understanding is of paramount importance. A constructive rational debate requires a certain level of respect for the known facts along with your opponent's integrity - which is not to be confused with liking your opponent, or accepting what they are proposing. Thing is, both sides agree that the weight of objective evidence must carry the day, even when that means admitting ones own assumptions were mistaken. Unfortunately the neo-Republican/Libertarian's desperation to protect their political and business status quo has obliterated their notions of personal intellectual integrity, respect and honestly - which in turn has reduced our 'global warming education dialogue' to a dog fight where one side sticks to the rules of rational constructive engagement and the other side acts as though they were in an alley brawl. Tragically it's not the chorus of strident climate science deniers but our children who will be paying the price for our unforgivable failure. :down: http://whatsupwiththatwatts.blogspot.com {edited - Sorry, "honest" wasn't a good word at all -" Good Faith" would have been far better, but Rational works too.}
There's money involved. They're afraid governments will do something to interfere with their money-making schemes. That makes people stupid. Lois
There's money involved. They're afraid governments will do something to interfere with their money-making schemes. That makes people stupid. Lois
Lois just saved y'all a bunch of time reading the article I linked.
I guess I'm not sure what you expect. You're dealing with people who are ignorant and proud of it.
Yea, it's like if a person is color-blind, you'll never be able to explain what walking through a tulip market is like (happened to do that yesterday and am still dazzled by the memory) For me it's been a process of various descents into resignation and hopelessness, I don't expect anything good any more, there will be no epiphany among the denialist. They'll never figure out our love affair with guns and wars won't help against our real collective enemy. I often tell myself just shut it down, no one cares, focus on my own self as my own final years flow by. But, that don't work too long every I try, doing nothing is worse than fighting a futile battle. Besides this calamity isn't going to happen all at once like some movie. It will be incremental, whatever ugliness is ahead of us, none of the details are certain, small groups are paying attention, and attempts to confront willful ignorance and to education need to continue, no matter how puny or utterly hopeless they seem. Let history sort it out in the end.

I am on another discussion group woth a climate change denier. I asked him to present his opinion so I could send it here for comment. Unfortunately he wouldn’t say some of the egregious things he’s said in the past that we could discuss, but here is his answer for what it’s worth.
"As to “climate change” - nobody I know of is denying that the climate is changing. Most who are even partially aware of history will tell you climate change is something that happens all the time. There are artifacts in the Arctic that demonstrate the climate was quite different there many times over. I can take you to places around Chico [California] and show you where you can dig out fossiles from the hill side. Mammoths in South Carolina? It must have been quite different back then don’t you think?
“At issue really is whether man is a significant cause of what we are observing today. We have seen the scientists waft between “an Ice Age Is Approaching” to “the world will end because of global warming” in our own lifetime. What bothers me is that they base a lot of this on computer modeling. That is only as good as the programmer behind it, the algorithms used for the forecasting and the information fed into it. Let’s face it. That sort of thing is far from perfect for more than one reason.”
At other times he has denied outright that climate change is occurring at all and that it is just a regular cycle we are experiencing. Whenever it’s colder somewhere than expected, he takes it as proof that global temperatures are not rising. He has also shown his anger at any law that is passed to exacerbate the effects of climate change, and claims that such laws will only affect the economy adversely. He denigrates green technology and efforts to cut down on our dependence on oil. Needless to say, he is a right wing capitalist who sometimes implies that climate change is a liberal plot to increase socialism and raise taxes. I think many people think the way he does --too many.
Lois

He added the following.
"I don’t think that spending trillions of dollars world-wide to control CO2 emissions makes sense. The reason is the cost to the economies of the world, IMHO, will far exceed any benefit derived. Instead all nations should be encouraged to enact standards to limit pollution as we have in the US for decades. If you are forcing the more industrialized countries to spend trillions to clean up their acts but letting India and China to skate something is wrong. China’s pollution is finding its way to us. And if you ever see news broadcasts from China showing their typical air quality you know LA was NEVER that bad.
"Cleaner cars, cleaner factories, cleaner power generation makes sense. But not overnight and not forced by government.
“Encourage alternate fuel sources but do not mandate it nor spend government money trying to accomplish it. If it makes economic sense let private industry make it happen. If the people want it they will be willing to pay the price. We are subsidizing electric cars that clearly only a minority of the people are interested in. Why? Because they are too costly and too limited in function. Eventually that will be solved but government subsidies are not the right solution. The government should stay out of trying to define what products private industry should be developing for the citizens. They can work on stuff for the military and space program that almost always find their way back to the private sector. But keep their fingers out of the private industry because they will always make a mess of it and make it far more costly. They overspend on everything. Ever see what the Forest Service spends these days on fancy outhouses?”
In short, he doesn’t want government involvement.
Does this tell you anything you didn’t know before about the philosophy of climate deniers?
Lois

"Cleaner cars, cleaner factories, cleaner power generation makes sense. But not overnight and not forced by government.
That quote tells me everything I need to know. The man is living in an alternate reality. All those cleaner things came about because the government mandated them. Industry fought against the government at every step.
"At issue really is whether man is a significant cause of what we are observing today. We have seen the scientists waft between "an Ice Age Is Approaching" to "the world will end because of global warming" in our own lifetime. What bothers me is that they base a lot of this on computer modeling. That is only as good as the programmer behind it, the algorithms used for the forecasting and the information fed into it. Let's face it. That sort of thing is far from perfect for more than one reason."
Lois, with apologies i need to take you to task for propagating an absolutely dishonest narrative. Scientists did not:
"WAFT" between "an Ice Age Is Approaching" to "the world will end because of global warming"
and no right-wingers seems the least bit interested in exploring the details. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Here's the deal, After a pronounced warming trend in the early part of the 1900s, observed global temperatures shifted to a downward trend. Trying to understand this decrease scientist realized that skyrocketing coal burning was producing geologically significant amounts of atmospheric soot… sulfur aerosols that reflect sunlight back to space. To over simplify... Keep adding these aerosols and they will create an umbrella that reflects a significant percentage of the sun's warming insolation. BUT, god damn't, why don't folks actually read those studies from the 1970s ?! ?! ?! Because every serious scientific paper on the subject - also mentioned that their was another player lurking in the background that could overwhelm the "aerosol's sun reflection" properties - namely CO2 and other greenhouse gases with their insulating properties Plus by the 1980s the tide of warming and evidence was again shifting. YET IT'S BEEN PART OF THE RIGTH-WING "DIALOGUE" TO IGNORE THOSE VERY VERY IMPORTANT DETAILS. I'll admit I think the scientists have done an absolutely awful job of conveying their knowledge… but the facts remains its been a case of nice boys playing a against vicious, ruthless thugs who's only interest is in fuk'en 'em at every turn.

Yo, CC, chill. Lois clearly presented this as a denier argument. She’s not endorsing what the guy said. She’s on our side.

OH NO,
I’m not angry at Lois or anything… that’s why I apologized to her at the git-go.
I appreciate she only sharing what she has heard…
But the argument itself… and my response to it… If I could, I’d put screaming neo-lights behind those words.
Kindaa-wish I could hang right-wingers by their balls until they confronted their malicious misrepresentation that innocents repeat endlessly,
such as the above.

Hope you understand Lois it’s nothing against you, I like you and your posts.

"At issue really is whether man is a significant cause of what we are observing today. We have seen the scientists waft between "an Ice Age Is Approaching" to "the world will end because of global warming" in our own lifetime. What bothers me is that they base a lot of this on computer modeling. That is only as good as the programmer behind it, the algorithms used for the forecasting and the information fed into it. Let's face it. That sort of thing is far from perfect for more than one reason."
Lois, with apologies i need to take you to task for propagating an absolutely dishonest narrative. Scientists did not:
"WAFT" between "an Ice Age Is Approaching" to "the world will end because of global warming"
and no right-wingers seems the least bit interested in exploring the details. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Here's the deal, After a pronounced warming trend in the early part of the 1900s, observed global temperatures shifted to a downward trend. Trying to understand this decrease scientist realized that skyrocketing coal burning was producing geologically significant amounts of atmospheric soot… sulfur aerosols that reflect sunlight back to space. To over simplify... Keep adding these aerosols and they will create an umbrella that reflects a significant percentage of the sun's warming insolation. BUT, god damn't, why don't folks actually read those studies from the 1970s ?! ?! ?! Because every serious scientific paper on the subject - also mentioned that their was another player lurking in the background that could overwhelm the "aerosol's sun reflection" properties - namely CO2 and other greenhouse gases with their insulating properties Plus by the 1980s the tide of warming and evidence was again shifting. YET IT'S BEEN PART OF THE RIGTH-WING "DIALOGUE" TO IGNORE THOSE VERY VERY IMPORTANT DETAILS. I'll admit I think the scientists have done an absolutely awful job of conveying their knowledge… but the facts remains its been a case of nice boys playing a against vicious, ruthless thugs who's only interest is in fuk'en 'em at every turn. Those were not my words nor my opinion. I'm on the side of 97% of climate scientists. I agree that the earth is experiencing a warming trend and that it is at least partially human caused. 6 billion people on earth, each one burning something, has to have an effect. What to do, I don't know, but whatever we do, it will be too little, too late to avert an environmental crisis. (Actually, the environmental crisis has already begun.) Lois
Those were not my words nor my opinion. Lois
I know… please no hard feelings, but what had to be said... had to be said
OH NO, I'm not angry at Lois or anything… that's why I apologized to her at the git-go. I appreciate she's only sharing what she has heard... But the argument itself… and my response to it... If I could, I'd put screaming neo-lights behind those words. Kindaa-wish I could hang right-wingers by their balls until they confronted their malicious misrepresentation that innocents repeat endlessly, such as the above. ========== Hope you understand Lois it's nothing against you, I like you and your posts.

mispost

OH NO,
I’m not angry at Lois or anything… that’s why I apologized to her at the git-go.
I appreciate she only sharing what she has heard…
But the argument itself… and my response to it… If I could, I’d put screaming neo-lights behind those words.
Kindaa-wish I could hang right-wingers by their balls until they confronted their malicious misrepresentation that innocents repeat endlessly,
such as the above.

Hope you understand Lois it’s nothing against you, I like you and your posts.
Thanks. I only wanted to show the other side because the title of the thread is "Why do global warming “skeptics” reject rational debate? "
We should be focused on what they are saying and why they are saying it–and how they are voting.
Lois

OH NO,
I’m not angry at Lois or anything… that’s why I apologized to her at the git-go.
I appreciate she only sharing what she has heard…
But the argument itself… and my response to it… If I could, I’d put screaming neo-lights behind those words.
Kindaa-wish I could hang right-wingers by their balls until they confronted their malicious misrepresentation that innocents repeat endlessly,
such as the above.

Hope you understand Lois it’s nothing against you, I like you and your posts.
Thanks. I only wanted to show the other side because the title of the thread is "Why do global warming “skeptics” reject rational debate? "
We should be focused on what they are saying and why they are saying it–and how they are voting.
Lois
I totally agree.
My point is that this story about global cooling is a perfect example of how the actual information has gotten bastardized by a malicious bunch of ego-maniacal business leaders and their politician pets.
For a less emotional, more fact based look http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-cooling-mid-20th-century-advanced.htm

oh my gosh, check out what's happening now http://www.weather.gov/satellite#ir

Well that stinks I thought I had me a static screen shot here… oh well never mind.
Check the weather in Florida at the time of posting - this was during the tornado outbreak.

How politics makes us stupid] by Ezra Kelin
Darron, that was an excellent read thank you! Perfect for sharing too.
I guess I'm not sure what you expect. You're dealing with people who are ignorant and proud of it. But they aren't so ignorant as to not realize there are plenty of other people out there even more ignorant, who they can successfully engage by appealing to that very ignorance. Combine that with an Ends Justify The Means attitude, and usually religion, and you have a perfect tool for swaying the masses. It's been around for thousands of years, and was the stock and trade for Christianity for centuries. It's just going to take a long long long long time, generations, before that attitude is gone.
I seriously doubt we have generations left to address some of the very pressing issues that grow out of the faith versus fact paradigm. Unfortunately faith based belief systems often use the antagonism created by a conflict between fact and faith to reinforce themselves. So the more facts that get presented on issues such as climate change, the more motivated true believers become to fight back with whatever means are at hand.