I got so sick of dreary beancounting communications ‘experts’ telling me that we need to avoid fighting creationists … because the magical drone of framing was going to make everyone happy and persuade the jebus-loving ignoramuses that evolution was good. There are signs that these parasites are moving on now — to climate science.
Oh, great. Here’s a potentially greater material problem for us than even the sad state of science education, and now the good-haired knob-polishers are moving in to dispense their advice of indolence and tone. Dot Earth has an exchange between Matt Nisbet and Randy Olson on tactics. Nisbet does his usual blame-the-scientists routine, arguing that we out to lie back, shut up, and let the Expert Communicators smooth over public sentiment. Randy Olson is basically fed up with the faceless, passionless passivity that these guys insist is the scientist’s only allowed role.
So I’m tired of the lack of leadership and the overly academic analysis of what are the actions of basically thugs. You guys keep working on the polling data — that’s good and is equally important. But in the meanwhile, I am dragging people like Marc Morano out into the light of day for the community to get a good look at who he is, what motivates him and exactly how his technique manages to be so increasingly successful.
I wish it were as simple as just analyzing the situation endlessly and eventually coming up with some cool and subtle strategy where nobody ever had to get dirty. But I’m afraid there’s going to be a lot more Climategates in the near future.
I wish I could say I’m pleased to see these useless weasels have been drawn away from the science education problem, but it seems they’ve just decided to plague another science issue that needs strong activism, rather than feel-good puffery.
Glen Davidson says
Uh, yeah, that whole “email scandal” shows just how great framing works, especially when it’s exposed.
Mooney and Nisbet have been shown to be quite wrong about the value of “framing,” but Nisbet just blithers on in the same vein.
If you haven’t already, I would recommend watching Nami Oreskes’ presentation on her book The Merchants of Doubt. Although she doesn’t address it directly, her presentation demonstrates pretty clearly that framing just isn’t the way to do it – it’s like debating creationists, all you’re really doing is giving them more of a platform.
I don’t understand. Can’t they just find some ministers and pastors they can trot out to reassure everyone that they believe Jesus would want everyone to be concerned about global warming? Show Him your love. You have to go beyond the science to speak to people in their own language, lest they feel threatened — and this way you make the scientific conclusion appealing.
Pontius P. Pilate says
I hate to begin my first post here like this, but here we go:
O’Reilly is right: it is a culture war. The churchies will lose, but the rest of us have to make sure they lose.
As such, those who can frame well should frame. Should scientists frame? Probably not, since the scientific method amounts to the best lights we have for searching out truth. Framing has an element of dishonesty to it, so public representatives (like it or not) of the scientific method should not frame.
Ultimately, however, we need to have as many fronts as possible in this war. A pendantic role is important, but not the only emphasis. Most people are stupid, and no one is going to change that. We shouldn’t look at our purpose as education – too difficult. It would be enough simply to make people feel stupid and marginalized for giving any kind of credibility to the churchie nonsense. Those of us who can good-cop it will always be there to make it ok. Those of us who better enjoy the attack, should make stones of our hearts and not be shy about heresy OR blasphemy.
Having said all this, the first thing I recommend is to stop using the term “evolution” and start using “natural selection.” It is an opportunity to say, “the theory is natural selection; evolution is an observable fact, dumbass.”
PZ Myers says
Except that the largest contribution to evolution and variation is not selection.
I just did an O’Reilly Media Ignite! presentation (20 slides in 5 minutes) on skepticism and critical thinking in the very heart of magical-thinking darkness, Sebastopol, CA. Imperfect as it was, so many people came up to me afterward and thanked me for not pulling punches and making my presentation informative and funny (and they liked the pretty pictures). Best of all a woman came up to me and asked if one of the other presenters had used a strawman argument in his talk. Bingo! Only one purple-clad energy worker hissed during my talk (no, really, she actually hissed in my alt-med section).
So yes, leave the framing to the growing ranks of critical-thinking communications professionals, once people are ready for the pure, undiluted stuff, we’ll send ’em to you.
I realize our tentacled overlord doesn’t get as up in arms about the Intersection stuff as some of us drones, but if you want a good taste of Schadenfreude you can see how well climate “framing” works. Whenever Mooney talks climate, the Intersection is flooded by unrefuted denialists. Framing has driven away almost anyone that is actually willing to marshal facts in order to point out how wrong they are. Framing favors the denialists, because lying is fine as long as you don’t use bad words or belittle “normal people” (belittling big enemies like Al Gore or PZ Myers is great, though, and buys you credibility).
Mooney and his ilk are digging their own graves. Metaphorically speaking, of course, I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m advocating violence.
Pontius P. Pilate says
Even better! Confuse the churchie with the options. Just don’t let him/her get away with putting evolution on the debate agenda. Remember: our goal (at this time) should not be to educate – it should be to defeat creationism.
I should be clear: I’m not a scientist, and (as you can see) cannot speak very intelligently in such detail. My girl is a biochemist, though – that’s enough street cred for here, right? I shouldn’t be too embarrassed, though: who were those well-respected physicists who spoke out against natural selection because they didn’t understand it (unnamed in Dawkins’ Mount Improbable)?
Although it can be dismissed, at least partially, as a framing exercise, I found Olson’s book to be a useful tool in its own right. I’m no accomodationist, but the battle I fight first is against climate denialism and inactivism, with fundagelicalism being a secondary opponent, which may explain this attitude.
I also second Tacroy: Merchants of Doubt is almost undoubtedly going to be a must-read. Between her work, Climate Cover-Up, and the Deep Climate blog, there’s no lack of light being shined on the Noise Machine.
Has anyone ever considered that these “framing” fights actually make things worse? If Nisbet has decided to pick a fight with climate scientists, I suspect that from the outside looking in, it will go even further to reduce the credibility of science. I’ll give Nisbet the benefit of the doubt that he’s really trying to help communicate sound science to the general public, but I’m starting to wonder if I’m being too generous.
Brownian, OM says
Okay folks, we need a Saturday morning cartoon, timed to coincide with a massive rollout of action figures, toys, and accessories by late summer so we can catch the kids’ attention before the Christmas shopping season–Bill, can you get Hasbro on the phone?–I’m thinking something along the lines “Climate Rangers and the Masters of Science”. Get some of those hacks we keep on the third floor to workshop the title. Now, we need clear, positive messages here: none of that piffling uncertainty and back-and-forth that characterises true science. Can we have heroes wear lab coats with crime-fighting stuff, like Batman’s utility belt? Remember: accessories bring in the bucks, and we want these kids thinking every dollar they coerce their parents to drop at Toys ‘Я’ Us is a dollar that’s helping the climate. No, not white lab coats: ever since The Matrix black leather has been in. Grab a few stills from any episode of CSI if you’re still not sure about the look. Make sure there are microscopes too: 4 out of 5 kids think microscopes equal science. First guy who can design me a microscope-slash-grappling hook gets a bonus.
Oh, and give the bad guys some sort of oily, viscous feel: I want them to look like they came right out of the tar sands. Yeah, that’s fine: any Texan or Albertan politician will do for a model. No, don’t bother giving them a trim, muscular physique: focus groups show that kids today prefer villains that look like the Penguin–plus, the anti-obesity message is testing well with parents between 25 and 39 these days.
The female characters of course should still be busty, and give ’em tiny hybrid vehicles–we want to pair sex and energy efficiency in these kids’ minds as much as possible. Can the hybrid cars be made to look like breasts? Subtly? No, Rhonda, I haven’t got a vehicle in mind; that’s what I pay you to figure out.
Now as for the heroes’ hair, anybody got any ideas? No? Okay then, unless anybody’s got any objections we’ll use these photos of Drs. Mooney and Nisbet.
Alright, that takes care of climate change. Anybody got any other issues we can deal with? What’s that, Manjeet? Global economic inequality? Don’t be silly; that’s not science.
Pontius P. Pilate says
If we will win the fight, we should engage it. If there is a good chance that the fight will hurt us, we shouldn’t engage. I’m glad it’s so simple….
Then again, we can win every one of these fights!
This blog incites it’s followers into a lynch-mob mentality chomping at the bit to exterminate Catholics and their doctrine from the face of the Earth. The ex-priests who molested children a few decades ago is the cherished stereo-type to demonize one of largest segments of the world’s faithful.
It’s not surprising that not a mention ever be made about the pro-scientific causes championed by the Vatican.
FYI: Evolution is fully embraced as the best explanation for the diversity of life on the planet In the US, the Church is squarely behind the cause of universal healthcare. And………hang on to your atheist hats……it is emphasized that as Christians, we are morally responsible to reduce human activity contributing to climate change. Oh, and the sacred value for human life doesn’t end at ending abortion and physician-assisted suicide, it includes the death penalty.
So I hope it’s possible to see past the aversion of homosexual behavior, and feel some level of reassurance realizing that the largest Christian denomination is already actively doing exactly as you suggest. I also don’t doubt for a minute there are many other Christians following suit.
Funny how the world anxiously devours the Pope’s every word when they can creatively take it out of context to evoke controversy. I wonder how the pro-AGW position was completely ignored by both the environmentalists and fundamentalists, alike.
If AGW is keeping you awake at night, maybe knowing this might temper the anti-Catholic hostility of those who worship at the Church of AGW? Nah! My prediction is a slew of angry replies rehashing the sex-scandal. It’s just too juicy for atheists to resist the temptation.
It would be interesting as a media experiment to attempt to discredit Gravity – start in with paid doubters going on Faux describing that it’s really air pressure holding us down to the Earth, and that Gravity either doesn’t exist or is insignificant.
Something tells me it would be easier to do than we’re willing to admit.
PZ Myers says
The Catholic Church does not fully endorse evolution. They support a weird version of evolution that involves a grand plan and a teleological purpose to the process, which is not supported by, and is in many ways contradicted by, the evidence.
If the Church recognizes that human activity is behind climate change, then why does it continue to oppose family planning?
And I’m sorry, but the Church is fundamentally an institution dedicated to outrageous lunacy. That they can get a few details right is meaningless.
From the time I first read Nisbett (2008) he was certainly including climate scientists on his list of people doing it wrong (i.e., not giving him money to study ‘the issue’). Mooney since at least Republican War On Science (2006) has likewise been bashing the climate folks for doing it wrong.
Mooney, with his horde of folks denying the science whenever he writes about climate is something of just desserts. The science-minded folks, and the actual scientists (me, for instance) seem to have given up on his blog, leaving him alone to answer the deniers himself. Which, it seems, he doesn’t, leaving him as a propagator — through his comment section — of the nonsense from the echo chamber.
The irony, or lulz, or schadenfreude, is that back when I was still posting comments at his place, one of my points was that climate scientists have a much rougher audience to try to accomplish anything with than Mooney does on his blog. Hence many of his comments about how we just needed a better frame and all would be well were misplaced. That, and I kept asking him what that better frame was. In practice, he’s doing pretty poorly compared to most science blogs written by climate scientists.
Matt Penfold says
I have, in all seriousness, had someone tell me that “gravity” has nothing to do with mass and was down to a combination of air pressure and the Earth’s rotation. I lacked the courage to inquire as what happens on celestial bodies that neither rotate nor have an atmosphere.
Needless to say the person was a complete loon in general.
@Brownian – wasn’t that type of saturday morning cartoon that was popular in the early 90’s? Captain Planet and the planeteers comes to mind. :)
Pontius P. Pilate, As a longtime and battle-scarred veteran of the climate ward, I am afraid I must disagree. The one weapon science has that cannot be weilded against it is the truth. If we yield on that, then, to paraphrase, the idiots will have beaten us down to their level and will beat us with experience.
I am afraid that when it comes to climate change we may be running up against limits of human psychology. We suck at risk analysis–overestimating risks in close proximity (like terrorism) while underestimating risks with distant consequences (e.g. smoking, substance abuse, etc.). While the worst consequences are long term, it is true that the possible consequences of climate change could include the destruction of human civilization. Unfortunately, even here we run up against our own cognitive limitations, since people tend to simply dismiss the truth once it becomes too frightening. The sad truth is that most humans are more interested in comfort than they are in truth.
The spinmeisters are now out in droves. I’ve even had them tell me that the facts are irrelevant. Maybe they are right, but if humans do not one day learn to value and face the truth, they will merely be another failed evolutionary experiment.
dr zippy says
“…you can see how well climate “framing” works. Whenever Mooney talks climate, the Intersection is flooded by unrefuted denialists.
To be fair to Mooney, the flood of denialists at the Intersection has little to do with framing and a lot to do with it being in the sights of uber slimeball Marc Morano. As part of the climate disinformation campaign Morano sics his readers on the Intersection in order to drown out any conversation. M & K, oddly, don’t grasp that this is what is happening so they issue their whiny pleas for civility on the internet.
Free Lunch says
A fictional complement to Merchants of Doubt is Thank You for Smoking, Christopher Buckley’s kind evisceration of lobbyists. In the case in point, it was science denial about the health effects of cigarettes, but ultimately, the behavior of the denialists is very predictable and consistent. If they need to lie, they will.
Royce Bitzer says
Quoted from the Dot Earth exchange:
Or similarly, as I’ve been telling my fellow scientists lately, “We need to speak out ourselves and fight back. Otherwise, one of these days we’ll be looking out our campus office windows and seeing a torch and pitchfork-wielding mob clamoring to burn the place down.”
Blake Stacey says
If university administrators don’t realize this, then we’re going to see scientists reprimanded for “inappropriate conduct” or “damaging the public’s trust” when they didn’t do anything wrong. “Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny” — particularly not when quote-miners are afoot.
James F says
Sastra @3 wrote:
It seems to me that, unlike creationism, AGW denialism is far less religiously motivated. Even among the evangelicals, there is a schism. For example, while Richard Cizik was pressured to step down as Vice President for Government Policy in the National Association of Evangelicals – mainly by folks like James Dobson and his Focus on the Family faction – there is also a Creation Care movement, which is especially popular among young evangelicals.
My point wasn’t that framing causes denialists. My point was that framing drives away the people that actually know enough to refute the denialists, as you see on Pharyngula. Mooney used to have them. His hardon for framing ended that.
Framing alienates those who care about accuracy or truth. If it was pushed as a means instead of an end, it would be a useful tool. But when you care about the frame to the exclusion of whether or not the information you are framing is accurate, all you are going to do is attract simple minded partisan followers and denialists.
That’s evidence that not all religious people are AGW denialists, not that many/most AGW denialists are religiously motivated.
I can only speak from personal experience, but every last AGW denialist (or “questioner”, or “ha AGW is fake because it’s snowing in January” type) I’ve held a discussion with has been Christian (surprising, I know, living in the US), and most offer a variation of “God wouldn’t let living conditions deteriorate on His earth” (I’m not an out atheist, and sometimes talk about religion in my family, so everyone assumes I’m Christian). There is definitely a sizeable contingent of AGWs that are religiously motivated. Whether people can break from that motivation and schism doesn’t mean that they weren’t religiously motivated in the first place.
It’s not just that the behavior is predictable, it’s that both sets of deniers use the same PR firms. The connection has been known for a while.
When the scientists get involved in the framing and its inherent dishonesty then it is far easier for those who want to dismiss them as political hacks to do so. Certainly scientists need to fight back against the anti-science nonsense that permeates much of the public debate about science, but they need to continue to do so in a way that preserves not just the reality but the public perception that they are the ones working from the facts and the logical and reproducible application of those facts*. Joining in on the hyperventilating only weakens their position.
*Credit to Realclimate and others for doing just that.
laursaurus #13 wrote:
You misunderstood the point of my (rather poorly written) post at #13. I wasn’t arguing that religious people were all against global warming and environmental concerns. I was mocking the idea that the best way to get people to agree with the science, was to find some way to feed into their religious superstitions and prejudices, and use this as leverage to bring them over.
Do you accept AGW because you are Catholic, and Catholics are ‘allowed’ to accept it — or because this is what the evidence indicates? No matter how devout you are, or which religion you belong to, you ought to be able to recognize that pushing “faith buttons” in order to win political victories is a dishonest sort of tactic.
The late snow buried any possibility of climate change legislation. Look for shelter on high ground.
I find it interesting that even Randy Olson, who was pretty critical of scientists himself in “Don’t be such a scientist”, has so little patience for the piffle that the likes of Nisbett produce.
I really wondered what Nisbett was thinking when he wrote this though:
Doesn’t he know that as soon as any scientist says anything close to this, he or she will get eaten alive for “politicizing the science”?
Douglas Watts says
As I’ve said to Mr. Mooney many times on his blog, the problem is not with working scientists framing the issue incorrectly, or being aloof, the problem is squarely with journalists and science journalists for doing a horrendous job at their job. I say this as a science reporter since 1984. Even a pea brain can see the asymmetries here.
1. Scientists cannot, ever, make a mistake.
2. Denialists can tell outright lies til the cows come home.
3. If a scientist makes even an innocent mistake, it’s a scandal which shows that perhaps all Science is wrong.
4. If a Denialist is caught lying, repeatedly, journalists still keep using them as sources to represent the “the other side” of the ‘controversy.’
Shitty journalists enable and create this asymmetry because they need to produce copy and that requires coming up with story ideas to present to their editor. It’s a lot easier to crank out a non-story about a non-controversy than to actually do good reporting, since your editor doesn’t give a shit anyways, so long as the publication doesn’t get sued for libel. They just need copy to fill the space between the ads.
Mooney is a concern troll.
Watch them battle the EEEVVVIIILLL Ralph Klein! He’s a tar-sand-lovin’, oily (heck, even lardy) overweight Albertan politician. Perfect!
In my experience, AGW denialism seems to be mostly motivated by free market absolutism. Since free market absolutism is highly correlated with conservatism, it’s not strange to find many AGW deniers among the conservative religious population. Then again, you will also find a lot of AGW denial among otherwise progressive and secular libertarians, which is why the correlation between religious beliefs and AGW denial isn’t all that great.
Joe Romm has a good summary of the climate disinformers’ strategy here: http://climateprogress.org/2010/03/08/global-warming-science-debates-teach-the-controversy/
“Step 1: Some misinformer or anti-science group puts out misinformation on the science or misrepresents the views of some scientist or expert.
Step 2: They get debunked, by that person and/or others.
Step 3: They demand equal time for their misinformation or misrepresentation, either through formal debates or “balanced” media coverage.
Step 4: If they get the equal time, their strategy has worked, and they can go on to fabricate more misinformation and misrepresent the views of other scientists. If not, they simply attack those who fail to give them equal time or debate them as being biased or scared.
Step 5: Go back to Step 1.”
This applies just as well to evolution. There’s not much of a point trying to engage with these people.
It could be worse. Instead of journalists, imagine if Mooney and Nisbett were counselors for victims of domestic violence. “He beats you up, isolated you from your friends and family, and controls all the finances? Try being nicer to him!”
Brownian, OM says
Either I’m way too transparent in my references, or NitricAcid and sexycelticlady need to GET OUT OF MY HEAD!
Actually, Ralph’s not too bad: at least he almost listens to the science. Fresh out of university back in the late 90’s I got a job for an arms-length government review board (whatever that is) and wrote a qualitative report on the self-reported effects of cuts to seniors’ programs. I know Klein read the report because he shredded it.
Steven Mading says
Exterminate??!!. Puh-lease. Next time at least make an attempt at being honest. Nobody has ever even gotten remotely close to advocating that here, and you know it perfectly well. (And opening with that statement ruined anything you might have had to say in your rant attempting to make an argument asking other people to not srawman Catholics. Clean up your own house first and stop blatantly lying about us.)
I think it would be depressingly easy.
I mean, astronomers themselves give the game away. Privately, they talk about “celestial mechanics”, so it’s obvious they secretly accept that planets chug around their fixed orbits like a watch mechanism. They know there’s no “falling” involved!
Oh I would love to see Catholic doctrine exterminated from the earth, as would any person with any shred of human decency. But we atheists can’t exterminate it, only Catholics can, by refusing to go along with it.
Dang, Olson already mentioned Marc Morano. Oh yeah, being buddies with Marc Morano will get you far with converting him – if you’re nice to Marc he’ll just give up his lucrative job as a shill for corporate interests against the promulgation of knowledge about the global warming. Matt Nisbet is a fucking moron – always has been, always will be. What astounds me is that there are people dumber than him who see him as some sort of genius.
Nice to see someone with an education in science who knows the difference between “lie” and “lay.” Most people would have gotten that wrong.
Brownian, OM says
Easy peasy: “Lay” is what I intend to do to that person I brought home from the bar; “lie” is how I got them home in the first place.
It’s frustrating to the media repeat simple lies (I got used to it during the Bush Regime, but still). I remember when my brother-in-law (many years back) asked me about all the new intelligent design stuff that scientists were talking about. He was suitably disgusted when he found out it was just a different name for creationism, and that no actual scientists were involved.
[ While I have all the um, mixed feelings about Catholicism that comes from a childhood in parochial school (in all its pre-Vatican II bizarre splendor), it *did* accept evolution; the nuns at school mostly (see below) had no problem with it, my parents believed in it. The only odd incident I can recall related to evolution was having a nun confiscate a book I was reading called “One Million Years from Now” or something like that, by a Darwin descendant. (Is it still in print??) I think the problem was the author was an atheist, not the evolution part, though I’m not really sure; I was in third grade at the time.(I wonder what page she opened it on? I can’t believe it was a well-enough known book). I thought the book was cool for saying dolphins were as intelligent as people. The nun gave the book to my parents, who promptly gave it back to me, and just told me not to take it to school.
As I recall, we were told yes, we evolved from primates, but God stuck a soul in at some point.
I can see PZ having problems with its take on teleology, but the Church has a philosophy, with an accompanying story for the meaning of the whole universe. It should accept science, but I think it’s reasonable for it (them?) to have an opinion as to what the universe *means*. ]
Anyway, moving back to the thread, maybe we just should switch to “liars” instead of “denialists” (or their word, “skeptics”, a word reasonably applies to most posters on Pharyngula, but is ridiculous when referring to people putting their fingers in their ears about global warming or evolution).
But the problem is, the Church is still acting like it has authority to officiate on scientific matters. As such, “the Catholic Church accepts evolution” is a statement that is dependent on what the current authority declares (and Ratzi isn’t all that hot on the more “liberal” stances like evolution). It’s also arguable, since a majority of Catholics do not believe in evolution (not even the wishy-washy God-guided kind with ensoulment — there’s been a movement towards YECism). Is the belief of the Catholic Church dependent on what the Pope and the college of Cardinals holds to be their belief, or what the common pew-fillers think? More and more the pew-fillers consider themselves Catholic while openly siding against the Pope.
This runs into issues with technical accuracy. It’s perfectly possible to spout denialist talking points without lying. It’s even possible without deception, although that requires a rather stupid person. Denialists can be liars, and usually are thoroughly dishonest, but it would be innaccurate to apply liar as a blanket term to all of them (and could potentially open you up to libel charges if you’re unfortunate enough to be in the UK).
Matt Penfold says
Yeah, it would be nice if they just said that anyone looking for advice on the veracity of scientific theories should ask scientists, not theologians and that they are no more qualified to comment on evolution than Tescos or Walmart are.
'Tis Himself, OM says
Please explain why the Catholic Church refuses to allow its adherents to practice birth control. Overpopulation does contribute to climate change but the professional virgins running the Catholic Church claim they know The Big Guy In The Sky is against birth control.
As a side note, it’s interesting that The Big Guy In The Sky has exactly the same prejudices as the folks who pretend they know exactly how The Big Guy In The Sky feels on any particular topic. Pope Benny is no different in this respect than Fred Phelps.
Why would I leave a place where I can hang out with sexycelticlady?
Why do you assume he read it before shredding it? That’s like assuming that the bible-thumpers next door have carefully read all the books that they’re burning.
Ralph’s attitude toward science can be seen by his treatment of the university budgets- in a year when the economy was poor, education had to be cut back brutally because “we don’t have the money for universities and colleges”. In years when the economy was good, education had to be cut back brutally because “everyone’s got a job in the oilpatch, so nobody needs to attend college!”
Stephen Wells says
@46: the trouble is then they’d have to admit that they are also no more qualified to talk about gods than anyone else is.
For anyone who wants to get informed and angry about the climate scandal, I recommend reading: http://www.desmogblog.com/climate-cover-up – it describes the ongoing Goebbels-esque corporate propaganda campaign to fool and confuse us all.
Playing nice with these people will bring no more success than playing nice with Ken Ham or Ray Comfort.
David Marjanović says
What reason is there to think it means anything in the first place?
That’s normal. Just about nobody believes every single dogma; very few even know every single one, let alone everything on which the church has an opinion it doesn’t consider a dogma.
Hey! I object.
Weaseling out of things is what separates us from the animals… except the weasel.
@Paul, thanks for your corrections. I didn’t stop
to think that my information the matter was far from up to date. My brother-in-law is Catholic, but a political liberal, so I probably don’t have a good idea about what’s going on US pews these days (my sample set is very small; some of my inlaws, my own extended family. All of them are OK with evolution, though they are not all liberals politically).
>It’s also arguable, since a majority of Catholics >do not believe in evolution (not even the >wishy-washy God-guided kind with ensoulment — >there’s been a movement towards YECism).
This is scary. I wonder if that is spillover from Catholic/Evangelical alliances around abortion?
Matt Penfold says
Well in way they are.
Not because they know more about the nature of god. How can you know anything about the nature of something that does not exist ? They are better qualified only because they are already experienced at spouting bullshit, and have no shame in pretending they are serious. Politicians would also be well qualified for the job.
The rest of us, even those of us (not me!) who are skilled in creating fiction would baulked at being required to pretend our efforts were anything other than the products of our imagination.
That was sloppy, thanks for calling me on it. First off, I meant to limit that to Catholics in the United States (which is very not the same thing, and was a silly oversight). I recall seeing that in a poll from a fairly reputable source (although it was a slim majority, and a fairly small sample size poll), but after some searching the only thing I can pull up at the moment is that damn listing of evolution acceptance by country.
Sorry for double post, didn’t see the rest of your post.
My point was that even when the dogma is well-known, many Catholics disagree with the Pope/dogma. It’s not a matter of not knowing the dogma in many cases, it’s a matter of culture shaping belief (see: birth control acceptance among lay-Catholics). I was just pointing out that this makes talking about what the “Catholic Church believes” a troublesome affair, depending on whether you consider the Church to be a top-down affair (which the Catholic church especially tends towards) or whether it is the sum of its parts.
Debate favors the dishonest.
@David Marjanović, I didn’t say the universe *had* to have a meaning, only that it is reasonable to for a religion to have an opinion about it. That’s kind of what religion *means* in this context anyway. It isn’t reasonable for them to have an opinion on the fossil record.
The thing that strikes me most about the “Framers”, is that they seem to spend all of their time talking about framing, and criticising everyone else for not properly framing.
They never seem to actually do any of this actual framing themselves…
Matt Penfold says
Regardless of what individual Catholics actually believe I think there is an issue with what the Church hierarchy believes, and that by choosing to identify as a Catholic, individuals cannot escape some responsibility for the actions and statements of the hierarchy. The Catholic Church only has the power it does because it can lay claim to one billion adherents.
Somewhat relevant to this is greenman3610’s entertaining and informative debunking of the claim that 32000 scientists signed a petition denying global warming. I bring it up because it explains how closely AGW denial is connected with the denial of the dangers of smoking. I strongly recommend exploration of greenman3610’s youtube channel; he has uploaded some good videos about AGW denialism.
I’m awfully late to the party, but I’m going to third the recommendations of Naomi Oreskes’s talk , in which she explains the origins of modern anti-science AGW-denialist propaganda; it began in the promotion of “free markets”, and opposition to government regulation of business. She explains how the strategies used to manipulate public opinion about AGW were used to deceive people about the risks of smoking, the dangers of ozone depletion, and other dangers. Oreskes also explains why it is important to focus on the strategies they use.
Also, I’ll third the recommendations of The Climate Cover-up, by James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore. This short, readable book explains how modern public relations strategies have been abused to defame climate scientists and deceive people.
I personally agree with you. I simply thought it was useful to note that the hierarchy’s beliefs and the adherent’s beliefs can differ widely on important issues. Official dogma matters, and it is right to attack it when it’s wrong-headed (or just plain wrong).
I’ll just leave it at that, my expression on this tangent is rather unfocused and not contributing much :-). I suppose I have the same mixed feelings/baggage rudy mentioned, even though it was only one denomination my family unit spent time with.
Also, framing sucks. Also, why hasn’t Mooney put “Templeton Fellow” anywhere on his bio yet? I’d think it was at least as prestigious as his Knight Science Fellow position, and that is on the front page right next to the Colgate ad. Guess the money isn’t good enough to counteract the bad impression “Templeton Fellow” would have on his page hits if he featured it front and center. I did find it funny that Kirshenbaum didn’t even use the word Templeton in her “Value of Science Blogs” response to the vitriol in the Templeton thread. One might think they’re hoping real hard that people just forget about it and they can move on with framing without the Templeton taint.
Sastra at 29:
I was mocking the idea that the best way to get people to agree with the science, was to find some way to feed into their religious superstitions and prejudices, and use this as leverage to bring them over.
Indeed, the mere fact that nobody (not Mooney or Nisbet even) has even mentioned books like EO Wilson’s attempt to do just that:
should speak volumes about the “value” of framing the environmental debate in such a fashion.
One would assume, if the approach had any merit, people would still be talking about the impact of that book, yes?
That they are not, and it essentially has already been forgotten, suggests to me that there is at least one concrete data point against the idea that framing this issue has value.
Yes, those scientists should all just shut up so folks that the denialist types will listen to, such as Al Gore, can get on with the convincing, right?
Kel, OM says
Gah, these framing wars are even more boring and pointless than the clone wars. At least we can pretend Episode 2 (well the entire prequel trilogy) doesn’t exist, the holier-than-thou attitude of people looking for the right rhetoric which will diffuse an immensely polarised issue just come off as self-righteous and ineffective twats.
Bastion Of Sass says
He sure seems to have let things go downhill since Eden.
Brownian, OM says
So then, the Flood was actually quite pleasant and everybody excepting Noah and his floating zoo didn’t actually die then. Must have been one of those objective morality metaphors we keep hearing so much about.
They never seem to do framing on scientific issues. I thought their criticism was a form of framing, just directed at making people like PZ look bad rather than make evolution look true. I assume it’s a priority thing; first priority: get people to buy books, get fellowships, etc.
oh jeebus crispus can you lot go blow a priest so you can get over it?
the rc’s lives in their private world that bleeds into real world on several data points. The fact that the rc’s have a different world view is immaterial to reality.
Just like the fact that a lot of cops believe that juggaloes are a gang. Sorry, wrong on both counts.
woo exists, whether ethers, string theory, anthropology or psychology woo has been around as long as humans developed communication. It all boils down to “More pussy/assholes/mouths for me” @TM brobox
Cool story bro!
Al B. Quirky says
So, ahh… PZ, you a true Believer in man-made Globull Warming….and you about to sit in a plane for 20 hours, injecting carbon emissions into the atmosphere as fast as you can go…uh huh…
Al B. Quirky says
Heck, I’m way amused with this uselessly wasted exercise in futility for nothing, trying to conflate Creationism with Globull Warming ‘Denialism’!
#71 and #72
Someone shoulda taken that left turn at Al B. Quirky.
John Morales says
ABQ @71, what, the plane would not have flown if PZ weren’t booked on it? ;)
As for your being easily amused, it doesn’t surprise.
Kel, OM says
Yep. If we believe in global warming, we must forsake any any every vice that could even indirectly contribute to the problem. Unless you are growing your own food while living in a cave and dressed in the hide of animals you killed, you’re a hypocrite for saying that global warming is man-made…
Al B. Quirky | March 9, 2010 1:27 AM:
Life is about compromises. PZ has never demanded that everyone give up flying (and neither has Al Gore). It’s nice to avoid flying, but to keep things in perspective, long distance flights have about the same impact on global warming as driving a similar distance in a 45 miles to the gallon vehicle. (Airliners actually emit less carbon per passenger mile, but it has the same impact due to the altitude it’s emitted at.) It’s not hard to do enough good to offset that.
Poor argument. If people flew less, there’d be less flights flying.
An MSP-Melbourne return flight emits the equivallent of 2.74 metric tons of CO2 per economy passenger.
The current yearly average emissions per capita in the world is 4.4 metric tons of CO2 (19 metric tons in the USA which can be compared to 6 metric tons in France for a roughly equivallent standard of living).
In order to not excede a concentration of 450ppm of CO2 which is the maximum safe limit to ensure that AGST do not rise more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels (1.4°C above current levels), we need to reduce gradually the average emissions per capita from the current level of 4.4 metric tons to 1.5 metric tons by 2050.
I don’t care how we do it, but that’s the clear simple scientific conclusion based on mountains of evidence.
Just that one return flight is above that future yearly target.
The only solution for the time being is for PZ to go online and offset his 2.741 metric tons by pledging funds ($71) to Clean Development Mechanism projects that have generated enough Cetified Emissions Reduction credits.
John Morales says
negentropyeater, good post, except for it being a poor argument.
It was very specific (if implicit) argument — that that particular plane would’ve flown even if PZ were not specifically booked on it, and was addressed to a very specific claim:
I was too lazy to quote it before, not worth the effort for such as that. It may be literal, but it’s enough to counter that point.
(It is not a general argument, unsurprisingly it breaks down if extended.)
As for everyone doing their bit, yeah.
But what’s a war’s carbon footprint? ;)
see I somewhat agree with the sentiment (poorly) expressed by our otherwise dumm Al B. Quirky:
people who really believe (like me and I suppose PZ) that one should take the risks of AGW really seriously (who ABQ calls derogatorally Globull Warming True Believers) must set an example with regards to their own CO2 emissions : either reduce them to an acceptable level or offset them.
I regularly monitor my emissions and offset them accordingly. It doesn’t cost an arm and I think it is necessary.
Oh, and I don’t like the “that flight would have flown anyhow” line at all. No excuse.
Al B. Quirky says
#74: “what, the plane would not have flown if PZ weren’t booked on it?”
#75: who’s the F.I.?
#76: “Life is about compromises”
So what’s the consensus here: Stuff The Planet?
John Morales says
It’s literally true¹, and it’s not an excuse.
¹ OK, highly probably true.
Kel, OM says
The fucking idiot who wrote this moronic tripe:
PZ, you a true Believer in man-made Globull Warming….and you about to sit in a plane for 20 hours, injecting carbon emissions into the atmosphere as fast as you can go…uh huh…
Are you playing the poe?
John Morales says
Dunno about the consensus, but I think what Governments do is of more significance than what individuals do.
I know it’s true, but it’s just not an acceptable argument to defend PZ’s flying to Australia (which is what I think you attempted).
If people need to fly to Australia, or anywhere, and are already emitting far too much C02 in the atmosphere, they can and should pay for the consequences by pledging to offset.
Al B. Quirky says
Is your head so far shoved up your own ass sideways that you in complete Denial about the rest of your own post @ 75? If you believe it, live it. Jackass hypocrite!
Stephen Wells says
I’d like to pause to note that the carbon emissions of electricity production and of industry are both an order of magnitude higher than the emissions from long-distance transport. It is not the flying that’s causing the problem.
Fo ounce, I don’t think ABQ was being that moronic. It’s a real problem, we just can’t have people flying all over the world to conferences and not paying for the consequences. It’s been one of the biggest (and IMHO mostly valid) criticism made by the general populace about Copenhaguen and needs to be considered seriously.
Same thing is valid for the GAC.
But it’s contributing to it. And when one flies to Australia from Mineapolis one contributes more to carbon emissions than with a year’s electricity consumption for an average american.
Governments are a collection of individuals. Individuals are those who contribute to AGW.
What matters is carbon put into the atmosphere, not carbon from particular sources. Meaningful carbon offsets can result in a net negative carbon contribution by flying as well as improving the lives of those in the developing world.
This is a global problem. It is not going to be solved by restricting travel and talking over the phone.
Al B. Asshat is talking our of an alternative orifice…as usual.
Where did I suggest otherwise ?
Check my first comment in this thread #77, and all my subsequent posts.
Why did you address your comment to me ?
Where did I suggest restricting travel and talking over the phone ?
Maybe you should read the comments written by someone before addressing them such a snark reply.
Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome says
All we need to do, to ward off impending disaster, is sort our rubbish into the correct bins. Gods like that sort of thing.
Nerd of Redhead, OM says
What is that foul stoopid smell here? Oh, a denialist thinking he is funny. Never works as they suck at both evidence and humor, and the clean-up takes ages.
Al B. Quirky | March 9, 2010 5:08 AM:
As usual, this is a strawman.
It seems to be a partial truth. If you order bluefin tuna in a restaurant, that particular fish has already been killed, you didn’t cause it. Does that mean that your choices can’t contribute to endangering the stock?
neg: what’s GAC?
Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne
So AGW has tithing now?
negentropyeater asks “It’s a real problem, we just can’t have people flying all over the world to conferences and not paying for the consequences. It’s been one of the biggest (and IMHO mostly valid) criticism made by the general populace about Copenhaguen and needs to be considered seriously.”
You do know that the Danish government pitched in for offsets for every official attendee for the Copenhagen conference, right? Hence my confusion as to what you mean by “paying for the consequences”.
No, I didn’t. I’m glad to hear this. This means I shouldn’t have written (and IMHO mostly valid criticism).
The rest of what I wrote in this thread remains valid though.
and sorry for the confusion :-)
-klog(gamma) eater–also apologize for the confusion. I don’t think this was as widely publicized as it could have been.
The beneficiary of the credits was a project in Bengladesh that sounded worthy.
Only when viewed by the uncritical.
Where are you getting that number? All of the numbers I have found are considerably smaller, some less than 20% of your number.
Anybody willing to bet that will happen. I would guess that it is about as likely as everyone on this board simultaneously deciding to become a southern baptist.
Unfortunately if one isn’t very careful the results of offsets are about as verifiable.
(are you certain you were using Melbourne Australia and not Melbourne USA ?)
How is that relevant to what I wrote : “In order not to excede 450ppp… we need to reduce gradually…”.
That you personally don’t believe it’s going to happen doesn’t change the facts.
Yes, LAX to MLB.
Whether or not those reductions are a realistically reachable goal does matter when we are considering mitigation efforts.
Does anyone here believe that we will better than halve our CO2 production in the next 40 years?
I just followed your link and did the MLB to MSP calc and it came up 0.45 not 2.74, so again less than 20% of what you first stated.
MLB = Melbourne, Florida
1.15 metric tons: Economy class direct one way flight from LAX to MEB
MEB is Australia.
2.74 metric tons: Economy class direct return flight from MSP to MEB.
Will you admit you’re wrong now?
That’s what I said : you keep using MLB which is Melbourne, USA. PZ flew to MEL Melbourne, Australia. That’s quite a bit further !
The goal is what it is : it’s the unedulcorated unframed reality of what science tells us. Whether it’s realistic or not is a matter of opinion.
It will become realistic when people realise that there’s no alternative.
I don’t know which country you live in, but if it’s the USA, you’ll have to do much better than halve your CO2 emissions within the next 40 years. And it shouldn’t be that difficult, when the French manage to ALREADY emit on average three times less than Americans per capita, with a similar standard of living.
I am guessing a large part of that is based on using nuclear to power their grid? *curious*
That AND smaller more fuel efficient cars, well developped public transport, high speed railway network, a less meat intensive diet, proximity shopping possibilities not completely inexistant, high taxes on petrol and heating oil that encourage more savings, etc…
The differences mainly hinge upon a nation that has always resisted long term government planning and one that didn’t.
The differences mainly hinge upon a nation that has been resisting long term government planning during the last 30 years and one that didn’t.
Looking at the stated carbon footprints per passenger per km I see a range of 75-90g. The distance is ~14000-14250 depending on route. Which worst case gets me only half way to 2.74 metric tons.
An Airbus A380* making the trip would consume nearly its entire fuel capacity of 310,000L**. At 0.81g/mL that would be 251,100 kg of aviation fuel or 251 metric tons total fuel split between its 500 passengers. Even with 100% mass conversion of jet fuel to CO2 that doesn’t look like it would come close to 2.74 per person unless it is less than a quarter full.
I checked around on several C footprint calculators and got a considerable variance in results. The only one that was at all transparent as to methodology was the ICAO site. It’s estimate came in at 2.45 tons. This is still considerably higher than the back of the envelope calcs above. How does one do the calculations to get these higher numbers?
* among the more fuel efficient jets per passenger, tack on an additional 20% for the bottom side of avg fuel efficiency per passenger
** better than 15,000 km range at designed load
Negentropyeater is right to point out that there is a lot of low-hanging fruit for the US. Consider this story of what happened when Juneau suddenly was cut off from its cheap hydroelectric power and electricity prices increased significantly.
Note that demand drops by 30% almost immediately and continued to decline by another 10% over the next 2 weeks. That’s with no preparation, no draconian hardship.
We can do this.
Even if the US managed to cut its emissions by 75%, which will not happen in the next 40 years, we will not meet the goal you state. As other nations, particularly India and China, become wealthier their citizens will eat more (billions subsist on less than 2 meals/day) and their diets will have of more animal protein. More not less people in the developing world will be buying cars and other consumer goods. The miles driven in the developing world will continue to increase. The developed world will make some promises, meet some few of them, slow the growth of their emissions, and will continue to talk about how something needs to be done while doing little. I do not see those trends changing in the near to middle term (20-40 years) and if they do continue our collective C footprint will continue to increase.
This is not to say that we should not be working to minimize our C footprints, but that we need to be looking other places to mitigate the effects of our collective contribution to climate change. We also need to be looking at how to mitigate the effects of the climate change that is already on the way.
There is certainly some low hanging fruit. Greater use of nuclear power, greater use of public transit in major urban centers, optimizing the power grid for alternative energy sources, limiting or ending oil subsidies, etc. I just don’t see the political will to get it done now and I don’t see the political situation moving in a direction that will make it more likely.
The EU nations have already picked most of the low hanging fruit available to them and are still producing CO2 at a rate far higher than necessary to meet the <2 tons / person global goal.
We need to cut were we can, use other mitigation to limit CO2 and other GHGs where practical, and prepare for changes that will be coming; because they will be coming.
Keep in mind that as standard of living rises in the developing world, birthrate will fall. What is more, there is no reason for developing nations where there is currently no energy infrastructure to saddle themselves with one from the 20th century. Renewables can carry the day to a very large extent in these countries.
In the industrial world, the situation is more fruaght–we’re replacing an infrastructure rather than building one. However, conservation is key. Every joule we don’t use saves 3.
Look, it’s pointless to say we can’t do this. That is in effect turning to your child and saying “I’m sorry, Honey, but you won’t get the benefits of human civilization because we consumed all the fossil fuels and turned the planet into a smouldering wasteland.” We know what we have to do. What we need to find is a pathway that gets us there.
More than likely.
That would be the ideal, though I suspect they will rely heavily on fossil fuels.
Even without the political hurdles it is a herculean task, with the political hurdles I don’t see us getting close to the CO2 goals. We need to work this on multiple fronts to mitigate the coming climate change* and prepare for the likely effects of that change.
* whether that means stepping up sequestration or even spraying sulfates in the upper atm
Grewgillis, While I agree on the need to attack the problem on multiple fronts, mitigations must be demonstrably effective and unlikely to cause severe side effects. Sulfate aerosols don’t pass by either. For one thing sulfate aerosols last on the order of months, while the effects of CO2 persist for centuries. At the same time, sulfates will exacerbate ocean acidification.
At present, there are no effective mitigation strategies–including carbon sequestration.
And the likely effects could be severe–we cannot rule out catastrophic ecological collapse.
The only responsible course is avoiding the threat.
John Morales says
As I see it, much of the developing world has (for what it’s worth) the advantage of being able to leapfrog wasteful and polluting technological stages historically experienced by the “first and second worlds”, not to mention learning from its mistakes.
So that’s a good thing.
I think emphasizing personal choices to reduce one’s carbon footprint is helpful (largely for raising awareness), but ultimately only collective, government action will be able to solve the problem. If PZ’s airline had to pay a carbon tax, or buy GHG pollution credits for that flight, the price of his ticket would more accurately reflect the true costs of the emissions it caused.
With some kind of price on GHG pollution, people will be incentivised to purchase fewer high emissions products and services, and businesses and investors will work frantically to develop and implement cleaner technologies. We won’t have to worry about calculating the emissions for everything we do (which very few people are ever likely to).
Also, some analyses have shown we can get down to 450 ppm CO2 at very little net cost:
thx for the McKinsy link, looks like an interesting read.
I generally agree with what you wrote.
The only problem is that it seems collective, government action is going to be slow in comming.
For the time being only individual action has a chance to have a beneficial effect. I believe Governments will eventually react when they see a growing number of individuals trying to reduce their carbon footprint. It’s by showing that it’s not that difficult that individuals will incite governments to jump on the bandwaggon and generalize those actions for the collectivity.