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back to article Fight global warming with Asimov-style Psychohistory - profs

Trick-cyclists in Blighty and the USA have called for a new "science of communicating science" to be deployed in order to deal with the fact that public concern over global warming has plunged in recent years. Gallup climate concern figures. Credit: Nature Climate Change This won't do at all "We need to move on from a sterile …

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FAIL

We need to move on...

Interesting concept right from the start...

"We need to move on..." from people disagreeing with us to everybody agreeing?

The only reason the debate about global warming is still going on is because of all the emotional and political arguments about it, i.e precisely because there isn't a clear, unbiased, empirical dataset that both sides can agree with.

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Happy

"Many climate scientists are understandably frustrated..."

"...by the limited response to what they see as the greatest threat facing our planet."

As a former student of Economics I'd say... people, in general I'd say, and in particular with the recent economic climate really just don't care as much as the climate scientists think they should, and are almost certainly more concerned about what they see as real problems (steady employment, gas and food prices, etc). This most likely has *nothing* to do with if they believe global warming is going on or not.

It's not too different from what I've seen in IT many times over the years... say for example your best SA has been yelling and screaming for the past year that a particular "critical" server needs to get replaced because he *knows* the hardware is going to fail on it. He has some evidence to back up his case but can't, for whatever reason, convince the powers that be that this is a priority issue. One of two things will happen: 1.) management will continue to ignore him and the server continues to putter along with minor problems (in effect proving the unresponsive decision makers right) or 2.) it finally fails in spectacular fashion and the SA is proven right.

Make no mistake - the reason the SA was getting ignored had nothing to do was not that he didn't yell enough, yell the right way, present the right data etc... it has everything to do with *other* priorities (usually financial) taking precedent. It also might not have anything to do with said unresponsive decision makers believing/not-believing the argument.

Just my thoughts on the matter. That said, I wholeheartedly agree with your comment that "The only reason the debate about global warming is still going on is because of all the emotional and political arguments about it" - turning up the volume on their emotional and political arguments is probably more likely to turn people off IMO... that's what my gut says at least.

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Manipulating the figures didn't work...

.. so let's try manipulating fears and emotions.

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Anonymous Coward

well

it worked for the deniers.

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FAIL

Nobody manipulated the figures.

It's just easier to persuade the reactionary and ignorant by appealing to their baser instincts than to their intellects. Since the deniers have placed themselves solidly in this camp, they're going to need to be spoonfed. Open wide. Here comes the train. Choo choo choo.

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See?

A gentle poke and they grasp frantically for the thumbs down button.

There's no point engaging these people at any level above the bovine.

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FAIL

As I write this

You have the same number of upvotes as downvotes.

This means that your gentle poke elicited the same response (clicking a button) from the same number of what you would term "believers" and "deniers".

In fact if you screw about with the statistics enough you'll find that El Reg is more deniers/cautious("well, it might happen but it's way overplayed and exploited") than OMFGWE'REALLGOINGTODIEBECAUSEYOUDON'TBELIEVE!!! 'believers' like yourself.

So a larger proportion of deniers has _not_ reacted to your poke than the proportion of others who have. How does that choo-choo taste now, statistics-bitch?

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Re: See?

Yes, well the bovine have likewise been accused of causing global warming.

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Anonymous Coward

Get over yourself.

Pompous twit.

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Flame

A gentle poke?

Referring to those who disagree as "reactionary and ignorant" people who have to be spoonfed like children or invalids is a gentle poke?

I bet you'll find that people more willing to engage you if you weren't insulting them for having the temerity to ask for the raw data the IPCC used, or disagree with their conclusions. Like the zealots who came before you, I'm sure you have fantasies of more persuasive pokes to deal with apostasy.

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Silver badge

Which pompous twit above are you referring to?

So many to choose from!

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Anonymous Coward

@LaeMing

I was refering to the Pompous Twit known as Some Beggar

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Headmaster

"Help us to help you to lie better"

In other words, it's just public relations. But trying to make itself sound scientific.

Professor Pidgeon's home page has enough gems to keep Lewis going for months:

http://psych.cf.ac.uk/contactsandpeople/academics/pidgeon.html

I enjoyed this note:

"I am currently fully bought out from departmental teaching through award of an ESRC Climate Leader Professorial Fellowship."

Bought out. Full stop.

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Stop

Sold out-!

Get these 'Scientists' away from the meeja.

They're worse than religionists, and are giving scientists a bad name.

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Anonymous Coward

Evidence ?

-or lack of it, people are looking at the facts without spin, FUD and outright lies, and deciding for themselves that climate change is a natural process. The idea of man-made climate change is mostly scaremongering by the recipients of 'climate funding' and justification for increased taxation.

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Problem

"-or lack of it, people are looking at the facts without spin, FUD and outright lies, and deciding for themselves that climate change is a natural process."

I'm not trying to push one agenda here, but I have to take issue with your logic: both "people looking at the facts" and "deciding for themselves". In the rest of this post, you will note that I draw no conclusions about climatology, so don't complain that I am pro/anti-climate change. I am pro-logic and pro-scientific method; I am anti-nonsense and anti-(anti-intellectualism).

Let's deal with the second statement first: almost nobody in the country is qualified to make that decision. I wouldn't go into a hospital and ask the doctor to see a CT scan, then say "well, you say that dark spot is a tumour, but I have looked at the facts and decided for myself that it isn't". You aren't (unless you are a doctor) qualified to read medical data, and your conclusions will be junk. All sane people accept that medicine is a subject where unless you have done lots of training, your opinion is worthless horseshit.

I am a mathematician, and my position on statistics is that almost everyone in the country doesn't have a fucking clue. I am an expert, with multiple degrees, and do maths professionally. Yes, my opinion (on stats) is worth more than someone who got a D at GCSE mathematics. If there are four people in a room, me and three people who haven't the slightest idea what they are talking about, and the three people say that -8 is larger than -3, and I disagree, I am right, they are wrong, *even though there are more of them than me*. The wisdom of the crowds on factual matters is a lie; truth is not a democracy, and you cannot normally reach the truth just by looking at some data.

Finally, a small point about "people looking at the facts": climatology is a subject where there will be an answer, and there will be noise. How do you know that the facts you are looking at are noise? If I have two tests, one of which says the answer is "yes" and one says the answer is "no", how do you know which is right? If you were an expert, you might have an opinion of which is the more reliable test. You might have that opinion even if you aren't an expert, but your opinion is probably based on your own bias.

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Silver badge

Drivel

There is broad scientific consensus that global warming is occurring, that it is manmade and there is ample evidence to support that view. It's hard to even understand the mindset that wishes to deny what can be readily observed from multiple independent climate studies, which is accepted by virtually every government science advisory body in the world.

Here is a good link which addresses the usual cod objections that denialists rotate through.

http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2008/07/how_to_talk_to_a_sceptic.php

Of course denialists are like most conspiracy cranks / evolutionist / holocaust deniers, you could rub their noses in facts all day and they'd still find a way to flat out refuse to acknowledge them.

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Headmaster

Clearly

Of course -8 is larger than -3, you only have to look a the figures to see that.

An 8 is a 3 with two bits added.

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It's not the 'denialists' trying to 'hide the decline'

And here's a site demonstrating that everything you just claimed is bollocks: http://www.climatedepot.com/

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FAIL

@DrXym

aah - you're doing an April Fool, right?

Or is this the concensus you're talking about?

<quote>

From: Phil Jones <p.jones@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>

To: ray bradley <rbradley@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>,mann@xxxxxxxxx.xxx, mhughes@xxxxxxxxx.xxx

Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement

Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000

Cc: k.briffa@xxxxxxxxx.xxx,t.osborn@xxxxxxxxx.xxx

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,

Once Tim's got a diagram here we'll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow.

I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline. Mike's series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90.

</quote>

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Anonymous Coward

@Aekfheld

Can you say "figure of speech"?

That is what "hide the decline is"

They may have said "correct the decline" or "make the model work" after all, they *knew* that a particular phase of the model was giving errors and that it needed to be corrected. The rest of the model appeared to be functioning correctly.

I know a few people studying climate and associated subjects, they'd all love climate change not to be happening, if any one of them could prove it wasn't happening, that would be their name made for life. Sadly they all have to conclude that it is happening, this means understanding it better, why it is happening and this extends into questions of what to do about it.

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Thumb Up

Excellent Post

Truth is not a Democracy - a idea which needs bashing into the heads of the world until they get it.

What "deciding for themselves" really means is "deciding which conclusion is least inconvenient for them or fits their politics".

As for statistics - it really does bug me when journos spew out some raw survey data and call it a "statistic" - its well-nigh impossible to analyse the significance of raw data by looking at for half a minute, unless you've memorised a few tables or you've got a maths co-processor interfaced to your brain.

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@AC

Ah yes, what you've done is called quotemining. You've taken the words of a (private) conversation out of context, screamed conspiracy and expect somehow that it invalidates the mountains of scientific research to the contrary.

It's funny how global warming deniers employ exactly the same tactics as found amongst creationists, 9/11 "truthers", and holocaust deniers.

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Anonymous Coward

"You aren't (unless you are a doctor) qualified to read medical data.....

May be true generally but Einstein and a lot of other people punched well above their academic weight.

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Silver badge

-8 IS larger than -3.

It is not however greater or more than -3. "Larger" is a magnitude, and therefore one takes the absolute value to determine which is greater.

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Einstein?

"May be true generally but Einstein and a lot of other people punched well above their academic weight."

I'll give you another quotation:

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein.

(I know this doesn't strictly adress your point, but it's a nice quotation.)

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 1549

Professor Dr Albert Einstein?

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 1549

Professor eventually after he was famous

He got his PhD and published Special Relativity, the photoelectric effect and a paper on Brownian motion in the same year - not quite what you expect .

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Troll

Strangely-

It's funny how global warming believers employ exactly the same tactics as found amongst creationists, 9/11 "truthers", and holocaust deniers.

Fungible statement, that.

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Translation:

"We psycologist have noticed the insane amounts of money thrown at 'climate sciences' and we want in. "

"We suggest a carefully crafted campaing of making everyone feel as guilty as possible, and as though they are all personally responsible for the death of teh entire human population everytime they travel in a plane/drive a car/take a bath/use a filament lightbulb (whatever the current trend is at the moment"

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Anonymous Coward

"insane amounts of money"

Have you any idea what academic salaries are actually like? A numerate physics PhD

with a job in a bank can quite easily earn more than a professor in next to no time.

But, no. Let's stick to academia and try to get a research project funded. That's a far

more effective way of getting "insane amounts of money". But only, if by "insane", you

mean "way to small for the amount of effort put in to get it funded (or not), and not much

better at recompensing for the effort required for delivery".

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Anonymous Coward

Pidgeon

was funded by the ESRC, grant RES-066-27-0013 worth £246k over three years. So that will be his salary + overheads, plus there's a studentship, and probably some money for admin, travel, etc.

Say the studentship is 30k all up, that leaves ~ 210k for (salary+overheads) x3 or 70k/year. Overheads vary, they can be over 50% of salary, but for a professorial. fellowship they might be quite low. And all that's happened is the university has not had to pay his salary for three years, and had to cover his teaching and admin loads some other way.

You really think that's somehow "insane amounts of money"? Paying an academic his somewhat unremarkable salary for doing some perfectly sensible research?

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I do

i have a degree in physics myself and know very well how much the researchers are paid (and its one of the reason i decided not to continu to phd) i was referring more to research grants. Where most of the other sciences are fighting tooth and nail for every penny, all you need to do in climate science is produce another 'computer simulation' and bam! you're sorted for funding for the next few years

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@Michael 47

Paranoid guff.

The most recent analysis in the US (which was about five years ago at the height of the supposed global conspiracy) showed that researchers perceived themselves to be _less_ likely to receive funding for research that potentially supported the climate change consensus.

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@some beggar

I probably am more than little paranoid now. I like to think of myself as rationally minded, and able to adjust my position based on reasonable evidence, but with AGW there litterally seem to be so many differing opinions and sometime points blank contradictory evidence, that i am somewhat sceptical of all such things as this tbh

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Anonymous Coward

@Michael 47

My partner is studying for a PHd funded by the Met Office she is reliant on my salary in order to not live crappy student diggs. There is no gravy train.

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You are assuming

You are assuming that it is the only research project he works on during that time. Most of the Profs I know have several projects going on at the same time.

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@Michael 47

What contradictory evidence? What controversy?

The constructive and relevant debate is that held between scientists who work in appropriate disciplines and who publish their results in peer-reviewed journals. The outcome of that debate is a very strong consensus supporting man's role in climate change.

The other 'debate' involves an assortment of unqualified and unpublished lay people who dedicate their time to manufacturing controversies and whipping up paranoia and doubt on blogs while whimpering that there is some conspiracy preventing their voice from being heard.

If that second debate is enough to make you sceptical about the outcome of the first debate then you probably need to take a step back.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes ...

"Have you any idea what academic salaries are actually like? A numerate physics PhD with a job in a bank can quite easily earn more than a professor in next to no time."

Sadly, true. I'm living proof.

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Headmaster

Imaginary?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory

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FAIL

We've tried lying to them.....

We've threatened their futures,

we've scared their children,

And they still won't believe us!

Oh well, may be they should give up and do something more useful instead (the amount of money wasted on CAGW could have provided a clean, disease free, water supply to everyone on earth many times over) .

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Threatened?

Scientists are telling you calmly, dispassionately, repeatedly that the climate is changing and backing up those statements with studies, analyses, figures, error bars, charts. Some people it seems do not like hearing bad news and pretend it's all some vast conspiracy by scientists for grant money. Or something.

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Black Helicopters

@DrXym: It's the jump to "you must do this now!" thats the problem

It's one thing saying "the climate is changing due to man's CO2 emmissions"- there is as you say a lot of evidence for that.

The problem that most people have is the doom predictions based on tenuous and often discredited modelling of the effects of that; and the instructions to "stop doing X" which are supposed to stop the doom from happening.

It's very different saying "CO2 is causing the world to warm" and saying "everyone must be stopped from doing XYZ otherwise the sea will consume London".

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Grenade

Threatened!

Google Richard Curtis 10:10 classroom debate - or maybe the Act on CO2 bedtime story advert?

So yes threatened. This is not calm, dispassionate, reasoned, repeatable scientific facts for the improvement of mankind - this is sick, manipulative, emotive nonsense designed to induce fear and compliance. As soon as anyone resorts to such tactics they lose any credibility.

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Black Helicopters

Well Said

People are pragmatic and will respond if practical solutions are presented. (I hope I don't have to add that by practical that means options selected by democratically elected representatives and not a group of supposed elitist in a university or bureaucrats in Brussels.)

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finally!

at last - science - officially too hard for the plebs to understand - officially becomes a religion, with the psycho-masters to expound the doctrine of how to save.. the planet.

The scientists have become the gods with the power and the concern for mankind, now set out to raise mankind to their level.

How things come around...

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Silver badge

Very roughly from "Foundation .."

"..threw a hyperspace relay and the ship died. For one of the characteristics of the Religion of Science is that its curses really work."

Sorry can't remember it too well and I don't have the books to hand

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FAIL

Date check?

Does nature indulge in seasonal pranks, or is this shite for real?

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WTF?

Title Required

Date checks on the linked articles seem to imply this is not an April fool. 31st March / 29th March. I did wonder too.

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Silver badge

Hard to say. I glanced at the titles on some of the other "papers"

he's written on the Cardiff website, all only since 2008 in widely disparate but clearly fringe-centric areas. It could have been ginned up a while back as part of an elaborate prank. The best ones pull in legitimate websites as well. But as a dot com address, I'm not sure how legitimate it is.

Of course, it could also be legitimate psych research into April Fool's jokes, which would let them get paid for it an allow much more time and money for prank development.

Regardless of what it is, that the question is even raised speaks volumes about both psychology and climate researchers.

Lewis, well he strikes me as the sort who enjoys a good prank and might even be in on it if it is one. But honestly, his article is the bit that most makes me think it is likely for real.

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