Temporarily Gone Goober/Why Smart People Fall for Climate Change Denial

I am but a humble internet yay-hoo. 


I come to give vent to my observations, and nothing more. I bring no real scientific expertise, nothing more than a layman's love and appreciation for science. I am not here to "defend" or present hard evidence for the existence of global warning; the evidence is readily available, and obvious to any objective examiner.


Global warming is real, or, at the very least, a very plausible effect that needs to be considered.


And that is not a statement of faith; it is backed up by experimental data, initiated, examined, and studied by climate researchers the world over. Just over 97 percent of the climatologists today endorse the notion that not only does global warning exist, it is caused and/or accelerated by human activity, with modern energy technologies bearing heavy culpability.


And the scientific community has accepted these findings as such. despite the braying of some who try to minimize this evidence by referring to climatology as a "pseudo science", a phrase which, if taken to it's ultimate conclusion, could embrace all disciplines except mathematics. But cosmologists, physicists, biologists, and others, all of whom are trained to winnow subjects down to the core truth, a congregation of skeptics unparalleled, have looked at the methodology and data, and agreed that the conclusions illuminating global warming as an overwhelming scientific probability, and a salient and tangible force, are legitimate.


At a 95 percent clip. Consensus could hardly be more thoroughly defined.


These days, when someone gives me the ol' "I'm still not sure about the whole global warming thing", I generally just let them run along to wallow in the warm piss of their own idiocy.


Because the denial of global warning is, at its core, an opinion. It is not an argument of scientific data, nor about findings; it is about misdirection and philosophy. And, ultimately, ideological insecurity.


See, the deniers, at least here in the west, fall into three camps.


The first of these is the Bible thumper camp. Their iron-clad faith in the ability of their religion, to solve any problem the universe might fling their way, is a bullet-proof dodge that allows them to live their lives in an emotional bomb shelter, while the rest of the world staggers off to a Hell that they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, awaits them.


The most paranoiac of this froup believe that science is a Satanic tool of spiritual destruction, and the lies it spews are meant to deceive and damn, not enlighten. Some, more "soft" in their denial, receive and appreciate the data, but feel that the whole world is, indeed, in God's hands, and deem the evidence not worthy of their worry. Still others have an apocalyptic bent to their belief, and accept notions of global warning as a fulfilling of prophecy; less "denial", really, than opportunism. But acceptance and "denial" of the need to act on such findings are, in effect, no different.


To be sure, there are many Christians who take their stewardship of the planet seriously. They see the evidence, and understand the importance of action. But the "who gives a baboon's ass about saving a baboon's ass" crowd is bigger, louder, and more aggressive.


While I try to respect all religions, and I respect Christianity as a beautiful system of spiritual enlightenment, let's call a spade a spade: on this issue, these people are dupes, at best, stupid, at middling, and demon-shit evil, at worst.


The damage wrought by this  first camp, however, could be minimized...were it not nudged along with the help of the second camp: the money-whipped. Those with financial interest in maintaining the stance that the evidence for global warming issue is weak.


Whether or not this second group of deniers is one of "true believers" is an interesting question, but not one of any real sway in the discussion.  These are the financial backers, spokespersons, and stockholders for corporations, especially those with interests in energy concerns, who are loudly endorsing the idea that global warming is not a reality.


They have spent billions on slanted research, advertising, and public relation campaigns.


They find scientists and researchers who have no problems whoring themselves out for studies that have pre-determined outcomes, allowing them to be displayed as "scientific findings", even though they have received no objective peer review.


These "findings", so limited in their scope, and precarious as real data, could never stand up to real scrutiny. So the ball is handed off to the most malignant fucks on the planet.


Ad men. PR guys. Marketing reps. Professional spinners who know how to play to emotion and warp reason to engender compliance bias.


Thought pimps selling willful ignorance as peace of mind to comfort junkies.


The processed data is given to these disinformation slingers, who proceed to "sell" the results as fully-hewn gospel. They call into question, in any way possible, the consensus thought of the scientific community.


Rather than accept or engage in objective scientific methodology, they engage in "court of law" coercion, painting the lack of air-tight, "beyond a shadow of a doubt"  certainty as whole-hog proof that global warning is nothing but tree-hugger mythology.


They rarely present scientific data. That is not their concern, and, more telling, it doesn't back up their position.


A scientist says "show me the data, and we will study it, get from it what factual information we can."


A lawyer, charged with protecting a defendant they personally believe is guilty,  says "show me the data, and I will still absolve my client of guilt. If I have to do it through pinpoint nit-picking and legalese, or emotional appeal, I will do so. That is my job".


Many an attorney has paid for his summer home and greens fees by displaying just such disregard for the reality of the situation. Same course tacked here. 


Of course, "not guilty" and "innocent" are two different things. But compliance bias greases the hinges on the door opened by those skillful enough to willfully conflate the two. 


There is no such thing as "proof", a statement that acts as it's own unbreakable authority on any given subject, to any and every interested party. There is only evidence. Some is strong, and some hysterically weak.


There is evidence, for instance, that the Earth is flat. The fact that there is overwhelmingly more evidence of the planet's roundness is of no matter to someone who wants to believe the Earth is the shape of a manhole cover.


They will grasp every last bit of evidence they have, no matter how flimsy, and embrace any quirk of an opposing opinion, no matter how minuscule or irrelevant,  as "proof " that their position is correct.


There's always an out, and these spin hustlers  are experts at finding that option, no matter how microscopic or far-flung, exploiting it as an absolute wrecking ball to the findings presented, and selling it to those so inclined.


 And they do it by fact-twisting, voodoo math, outright bullshit, and rank, baseless denial, delivered with foot-stomping bravado, and, often, feigned indignation.


Consider this exchange, which occurred  a few years ago, on "Real Time with Bill Maher", between Neal deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of the rebooted "Cosmos", and Bob Lutz, former auto exec, current industry stooge, and raging goddamn tool.



After a few minutes of outright denial of scientific findings, rebuttals for which he offered no scientific evidence, and accusations of failed alarmist predictions (I am wracking my brain for any serious warning, from anyone, that the Florida keys would be underwater by 2009...I could find no record of said prediction), Lutz pointed his finger at Tyson, and made this statement:


"Science does not operate on consensus, and you know it."


Now, first of all, it's a ridiculous statement, fuzzy and utterly without worth. Had he said "scientific reality is not defined by consensus", he would have been on less shaky ground, as the reality of any given situation is not purely defined by consensus.


Semantic nits aside,however, he didn't use such terminology. He told an outright lie. And Tyson set him straight, by telling him that science does, indeed, operate under experimental consensus. Biologists, for example, operate under the assumption that, even though there are, indeed, questions about evolutionary theory, it is a reality, not mere speculation.


But setting aside the utter bull-headed dumbfuckness of the statement, look at how it was done: a finger pointing accusation, meant to put Tyson on the defensive. It was, in the most real sense, a micro-Inquisition.


And surreal, to boot. Like watching Mel, your insurance guy, explaining to Pablo Picasso that he doesn't understand proper brush stroke technique.


This second camp enables the first, giving something upon which to prop their speculation. The reliability of their "evidence" is of little concern; what matters is that it exists, in some dimension accessible to them, and it gives them comfort


And much like the fragile alliance between social conservatives, neocons, and free-market zealots that reinforced a right-wing stranglehold on the government during the first part of this century, there is another side to this warped triangle.


The folks in the third camp, however, are a more problematic lot.


It's those who define the issue as a political abstraction, rather than a scientific option.


In the last few seconds of the clip above, Mr. Lutz states that he thinks "the movement is in serious trouble". Not that he has scientific evidence to repudiate the data, or even that more study needs to be done, but a tacit suggestion that an opinion shareed by the bulk of the scientific community is some quixotic "movement". 

The collection and examination of data does not base itself on any "movement".' It is not a political endeavor, not a philosophy or an ideology, and it can no more be approached in that fashion than can Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation be repealed by public vote. 


But many have chosen to frame the concept and discussion, of global warming, in this fashion. And that has caused them to slap blinders around their rose-colored glasses. 


I have, in the recent past, run into quite a few of these folks. Most of them are intelligent people. They tend to be scientifically minded; no flat-earthers, no one from the "I didn't come from no monkey" club. Reasoned and logical,


But they refuse to accept the probability of global warming. They use "not enough proof" as a rallying point, or fall back on tired, lame, and long discredited rationalizations. They are closed to even entertaining the possibility of global warming as scientific reality, and often fervent in their expression. 


On first glance, it's downright weird. These are people who tend to take  pride in their reliance on logic to solve their problems, and define their personal ideologies. They go to great lengths, sometimes absurdly reductionist, to come to their conclusions using reason, often decrying the "emotional appeal" of those who might disagree.


But their investment in denying global warming is emotional. Because their political ideology, if global warming is, indeed, real, it is  tits-on-a-bull, balls-on-a-priest useless as the  reliable intellectual dodge it has been in the past.


One of the things I find most of those in this camp have in common is that they lean conservative and libertarian, and some wade around in deeper and murkier waters of. anarcho-capitalist theory. They have no spiritual or economic stake in the matter, as the other camps; they tend to be financially secure and non-religious. Disdaining morality, or even pragmatic solution, as a political or collective endeavor, they've built for themselves an intellectual penthouse, a place where they can a easily forget the problems of the world by claiming an ideology that rises above mere sentiment or concept of social responsibility.


They think of themselves as "independent", needing nothing but their own wiles and work ethic to succeed to their wildest dreams, proto-Nietzschean  super-men (and women, although they are far less numerous) who have climbed to the top of the mountain and have "won" the right to enjoy the spoils of their ascent.


They're delusion junkies, and they've bought into the self-mythology the conservative movement pushes like under-cooked meth and dirtweed.


They have reinforced this perspective through philosophical angling. Conservative economic thought has always boiled down to an "I got mine, sucks to be you" mentality. And much intellectual horsepower has been expended to rationalize this mindset, and defend their individual wish to maintain this vague, neoplatonic relationship with their community or government.


For instance, economic models can be used (or calibrated) to endorse their side of the debate as "correct" (and, I might add, these third camp forks, who yammer on about the "inconclusiveness"  of the scientific data presented regarding global warning, never fail to whip out these theoretical models and sling 'em around like the gospel truth), and presented as a truly objective or authoritative source.


Even though the "wiggle" room left by such posturing is immense, and leaves other areas open to debate, they can, correctly proclaim they have the intellectual capital to adequately support their position.


There is, in fact, a legitimate philosophical underpinning for their argument that personal responsibility renders the concept of social responsibility irrelevant, one that neatly sidesteps any moral qualms by simply refusing to acknowledge them.


It's a feat of cerebral gymnastics, to be sure, and hardly a conductor for pragmatic solution. But it's an intellectual reinforcement, nonetheless.


Regarding global warming, however, they are trying to buy their own piece of mind. And using the equivalent of confederate money to do so.


It is easy for them to claim that other sentient beings bear responsibility for their own interests. Indeed, it's a pretty inviting concept.


But global warming, as a scientific fact, demands the acknowledgment of a symbiotic relationship to others, and the planet we live on. Independent of any moral argument, and for purely self-centered reasons, it demands, intellectually, a shared responsibility, a codependency. It forces acquiescence to the fact that, like it or not, one is a part of a greater whole, rather than merely a master of one's own domain.


Global warning is a philosophical dick punch to their self-centered rationalization. It forces them to drop their political pose, and consider that the idea of developing and maintaining a more sustainable world, even through governmental regulation, is not some Utopian, fevered tree-hugger concept, nor some conspiracy meant to put them under the thumb of a nebulous tyrant, but a reasonable expectation, and one vitally important to their own self-interests.


But doing so would mean dropping the solipsistic take they have on everything else. It completely invalidates such thought as a reasonable ideology. To admit that global warming is real will mean a quantum disruption of their carefully-ordered universe, and force them to adjust their approach to social reality.


Subconsciously, they realize this. And they have the brains to understand it.


What they lack are the heart and the balls to confront it.


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