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back to article The more science you know, the less worried you are about climate

A US government-funded survey has found that Americans with higher levels of scientific and mathematical knowledge are more sceptical regarding the dangers of climate change than their more poorly educated fellow citizens. The results of the survey are especially remarkable as it was plainly not intended to show any such thing: …

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WTF?

Product placement?

Was the embedded ad for Statoil showing a drilling platform deliberate?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Product placement?

... there's ads on The Register?

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Re: Product placement?

Another week another LP or AO climate change denial article. As usual if bored you can find the obvious flaws and or bad journalism in the article or more likely just skip over the obvious opinion piece giving it the Utterly terrible article ranking it deserves.

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Anonymous Coward

Ignorance

Ignorance is bliss, and there are a lot of happy blissful people in The USA.

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Another week, another moron uses the phrase "climate change denial".

Here's a hint: nobody believes the Earth's climate isn't changing. The ONLY argument is about how much it's changing, and what—if anything—needs to be done about it.

Some people are running around crying "Wolf! WOLF!"

Others are simply asking, "Where? WHERE?"

It really is that simple.

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Re: Another week, another moron uses the phrase "climate change denial".

That's not true at all, we have accurate measurements of how much the climate is changing. Despite that there are plenty of deniers of the hockey stick graph, which was confimed by the recent BEST study. And in evey climate thread on here there is at least someone who claims it got colder in the last 10 years or that all those scientists somehow forgot to take the solar cycle into account...

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Re: Another week, another moron uses the phrase "climate change denial".

It's certainly got cooler in the last few months where I am. Of course that might just be weather, rather than climate.

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Re: Another week, another moron uses the phrase "climate change denial".

"Despite that there are plenty of deniers of the hockey stick graph, which was confimed by the recent BEST study"

What a load of utter bollocks. The BEST study did not confirm the Hockey Stick. Before you criticise others for their ignorance, it would be better if you did a little light reading first yourself.

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Re: Another week, another moron uses the phrase "climate change denial".

The hockey stick controversy is very political and all but just stating outright lies to win your argument is a punk ass move.

BEST Conclusions:

Global temperatures closely matched previous studies from NASA GISS, NOAA and the Hadley Centre, that have found global warming trends. The Berkely Earth group estimates that over the past 50 years the land surface warmed by 0.911°C, just 2% less than NOAA’s estimate. The team scientific director stated that "...this confirms that these studies were done carefully and that potential biases identified by climate change sceptics did not seriously affect their conclusions."

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Re: Another week, another moron uses the phrase "climate change denial".

>nobody believes the Earth's climate isn't changing

Santorum: There is no such thing as global warming. It is, in my opinion, there are hundreds of factors that cause the Earth to warm and cool, and the trace gas — of which human participation in this trace gas — is …

>The ONLY argument is about how much it's changing, and what—if anything—needs to be done about it.

Very reasonable and correct but unfortunately that is not the only argument among the rich and powerful here in The United States of Corporate Whores. In fact the right has become so anti intellectual that a significant number of its membership still doesn't believe natural selection is real or the earth is more than 5000 years old.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Another week, another moron uses the phrase "climate change denial".

"That's not true at all, we have accurate measurements of how much the climate is changing."

Uhm, accurate measurements?

How? Where?

Many of those measuring stations was originally in the outskirts somewhere. As cities have grown, a significant number of these are now in urban areas.

Yes, human activity affects the temperature measured... But that is unimportant. The claim is that our release of CO2 causes the climate to change catastrophically. So far there is no proof of that.

Meanwhile we have lost focus on toxic NOx emissions (that can be easily felt on your own body if you visit a city where the majority drives cars fueled by diesel), nor do anyone care about toxic waste dumping in third-world countries.

And before you bring up tree rings, riddle me this: How come a narrow ring band is interpreted as a decrease in temperature? If you heat up the climate signficantly, will these trees grow even more? Doubtful, isn't it?

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Re: Another week, another moron uses the phrase "climate change denial".

>Many of those measuring stations was originally in the outskirts somewhere. As cities have grown, a significant number of these are now in urban areas.

The old urban heat island fallacy eh?

The urban heat island effect and poor station quality did not bias the results obtained from earlier studies carried out by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Hadley Centre and NASA's GISS Surface Temperature Analysis. The team found that the urban heat island effect is locally large and real, but does not contribute significantly to the average land temperature rise, as the planet's urban regions amount to less than 1% of the land area. The study also found that while stations considered "poor" might be less accurate, they recorded the same average warming trend.

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Re: Another week, another moron uses the phrase "climate change denial".

I would argue that human released CO2 is a big problem but will agree its not the only gas we need to worry about. Methane is actually a far stronger greenhouse gas and the increase in world livestock is not good either. The quickest way probably to arrest global warming maybe to all become vegans but then again who the fucks wants to do that? Make the third world do it, more of them lol.

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WTF?

Re: Product placement?

@asdf

Or you could just bad mouth the article with an opinion piece and no facts either. You got my down vote.

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Coat

Re: Another week, another moron uses the phrase "climate change denial".

Accurate measurements as in lots of weather and CO2 level monitoring stations, satellites measuring solar activity, earth albedo and IR emissions, polar ice coverage and height, global ocean levels etc. If you want to call these measurements inaccurate or biased then you've got to show convincing evidence. Merely alluding to heat island effect doesn't do it as it only affects a small subset of monitoring stations and is already corrected for (obviously).

The fact that CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas is irrefutable. Releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gasses in a short timeframe so that CO2 sinks and other feedbacks cannot keep up will cause catastrophic climate change. A 2-3 degree temperature rise is already unavoidable, so you will experience yourself how bad that turns out to be for humankind.

Modern diesels are very clean, and all cars are regularly tested to conform to strict emission limits. As a result air quality has improved dramatically in the last 30 years. However to get a much larger reduction you'd have to use electric or plug-in hybrids in town, improving efficiency, moving most emissions outside the city and allowing them to be filtered at the power station.

All chemical reactions slow down with decreasing temperature, so tree rings become narrower as the tree grows more slowly. This only applies if it doesn't get too hot or too cold for the tree to survive.

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Re: Another week, another moron uses the phrase "climate change denial".

The hockey stick has been proved reliable time and time again, even to the extent of revealing that nasa didn't always know where and when their satellites were.

it's well past tiresome how the CC science remains pretty consistent, while the deniers keep on having to radically rethink and reinvent their gobshite to preserve their meme.

this long since ceased to be a matter of science and has passed into the realm of the political, at which point, given the entrenched views of the deniers, further debate is pointless, lewis believes what lewis believes and there is literally nothing that anyone anywhere is ever going to say that is going to move him on this.

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Re: Product placement?

I long ago quit reading Lewis climate articles as they always cherry pick one sentence in some report and ignore all the caveats. I just like reminding every one to down vote his climate crap so perhaps he will write more about some of his other topics that are far more entertaining. As for AO his articles almost always suck and often he doesn't allow comments for a good reason so downvoting him is seldom even worth the time.

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Re: Another week, another moron uses the phrase "climate change denial".

Wilco !,

"Modern diesels are very clean"

Bloody hell mate, come down here to Kiwiland and sniff the bloody diesel fumes belching out of the trucks and buses.

Some of them create their own smoke screen .

No Bullshtit cobber.

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Re: Product placement?

Great, thanks for informing us. Care to point out where? Facts and links please, we're hierarchical individualists don't you know. (well some of us are)

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Psychohistory?

I thought we already have such a thing. We just call it "spin".

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Re: Psychohistory?

Absolutely. In the US it takes a study to prove that making your citizens illiterate non-critical thinkers makes them more pliable to indoctrination.

Whilst here in the UK they've been dumbing down the schools for the last 20 years.

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Should have kept the serfs illiterate

They never should have allowed us to learn to read and write. Generations of Kings, Queens, Emperors and organised religion (all of them) could have told them that.

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Re: Should have kept the serfs illiterate

Yep and cultures who have pushed most for this have floundered and been conquerored or made irrelevant by cultures better educated with bigger guns. There is a good reason why Islam makes up over %20 of the world's population but accounts for less than %5 of the world's wealth.

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Re: Should have kept the serfs illiterate

Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc, etc, etc. I bet the Christian founders of those schools would object to your comments.

When several reformers were burned at the stake because they wanted the Bible in "the language of the people", they took a stand on education that showed a conviction that you simply don't have.

The biggest irony here is that the education that they originally sought to provide everyone, is the same education you are proving to have rejected to learn. You don't want to learn, your opinion supersedes anything you could possibly be taught, so you reject learning in favor of opinion.

In the same way, this article just proves that both opposing views will use the evidence to support their view, and call anyone who opposes that view wrong, stupid or ignorant, rather than setting aside their agenda, and critically assessing both sides.

Kev.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Should have kept the serfs illiterate

Stop press: Educated people familiar with scientific method are more cynical.

Isn't that the FREAKING POINT of it?!

Scientific method teaches us to be cynical and require evidence. That's why people with brains don't want to heal the planet with magic crystals.

Where's the story, Lewis?

Stop press: Lewis Page jumps on any available soap box to write an opinion piece vaguely based on some news and liberally scattered with some of the most biased weasel-words I've seen in a news article since AO's last opinion piece.

But, I guess that's the point of Lewis Page, too...

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Meh

Re: Should have kept the serfs illiterate

I hope you mean "skeptical" (or "sceptical")! Your quote reads a lot better if you substitute "cynical" with "skeptical."

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Re: Should have kept the serfs illiterate

%5 of the world's wealth.

???

not counting oil reserves i guess.

and for another thing what about your average thick as pigshit american christian fundamentalist? they would appear to make up the majority of the american electorate (it it NOT possible to get elected to high office in the US without going to church every Sunday), so shouldn't uncle sam be included in your count too?

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Re: Should have kept the serfs illiterate

>not counting oil reserves i guess.

Nope those are included and its the only reason its not even lower. Commodities even ones as valuable as oil and gold in the grand scheme of GDP are a very small part for a modern industrial country. Its IP and or turning commodities into finished products where the real money is.

>pigshit american christian fundamentalist? they would appear to make up the majority of the american electorate

Nah only in the bottom ten states in income which are all red states and are mostly in the South. The just seem like the majority because they scream so loud.

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Re: Should have kept the serfs illiterate

"Nah only in the bottom ten states in income which are all red states and are mostly in the South. The just seem like the majority because they scream so loud."

fair point :-)

still not convinced about the oil reserve thing tho

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woah there! ...

Half way into the article and what I've gleened from it is..

These sociologists or whatever, have found out that people who know real science think climate change is maybe a bit overhyped.. and from this they have not drawn the conclusion that climate change is maybe a bit overhyped, they have instead pulled from their primary communications orrifices this notion that real scientists are all biased?

What's more they have decided the best answer is class-targeted propoganda?

To top it off I can only assume they think they know better than those of us who can do real science, that sceptical decisions are bad and that lying is the right thing to do, to save us from ourselves.

concussive education required.

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Re: woah there! ...

you might want to read the *actual* nature article rather than Lewis's take on it before sneering.

It normally shows the complete opposite from whatever Lewis says it does.

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Mushroom

Re: woah there! ...

1) Please look at figure 2 in the original Nature article.

2) Please look at figure S1 in the supplementary PDF

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/extref/nclimate1547-s1.pdf

Now, maybe you'll agree Lewis' headline should have been "The more science you know, the less worried you are about climate ... if you're an NRA member".

So the main finding of the paper is that political orientation is actually a bigger factor in determining your view on climate change than education. Even educated people have a tendency to read scientific papers through tinted glasses, and pick out those parts that support their own *pre-conceived ideas*. Who would have thunk? Perhaps even El Reg hacks have a tendency to do just that.

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Re: woah there! ...

> "It normally shows the complete opposite from whatever Lewis says it does."

Agreed. I'm even not sure why he's still writing for this particular organ. It's not like this is even vaguely related to IT.

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Re: woah there! ...

not just writing, now editor I believe.

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Re: woah there! ...

> "editor"

Explains a lot.

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@Dave 62 -- Re: woah there! ...

Ok, I've read the Nature article. Irrespective of whether editorial has a slant one way or the other, several issues stand out:

1, The more one knows about science the more one questions simple existential statements about scientific matters that don't also have rigorous scientific underpinnings; and the more extraordinary scientific claims are then the more rigorous the underpinnings 'proofs' have to be. (It used to be this way and this is how it should be.)

2. I'm not the slightest bit surprised with the results of this survey. In fact--from all the reports in the media in recent times--I'd thought the scientifically-literate had gone a bit bonkers, but it seems all's well with most of world's techies. (Note: here, I'm not discussing climate change per se, rather how scientific literacy affects one's perceptions and understanding of natural events.)

3. It seems to me that the surveyed phenomenon isn't limited to just climate change but rather it also applies to many things. For example, in recent years, reports hyped up by an ignorant press have made the lay public terribly fearful of chemicals and nuclear materials etc. Consequently, there's almost no rational debate anymore: from the frenzy that follows industrial accidents one could be forgiven for thinking that say a spill of sodium hydroxide was as dangerous as an equal quantity of dioxin, similarly if a small alpha particle source goes missing then you'd think from reports that a few kilos of gamma-radiating cobalt-60 had been dropped into a lunchtime crowd--hysterical reactions seem to be the norm. Today, for many who've been taught science, it's nevertheless clear from their reactions to scientific phenomena, that they've gained little or no hands-on feel for the subject. This ought to be of considerable concern. (The reasons why it's so are vast subjects in and of themselves.)

4. That psychologists and sociologists are now very concerned that the social engineering--brainwashing--hasn't been working as expected and that they're 'reevaluating' how this can be remedied is extremely disturbing. The postmodernists have just about already won round one with their arguments that there are no absolutes [read acceptable standards and such], to the extent that much of society prefers to listen to their frightening unreasoned mumbo-jumbo rather than to trust in scientific logic and the scientific method. Their concern over how 'social engineering' has escaped them and how a rethink is needed to recapture it, to me, seems likely to be the beginning of round two. This I consider to be an extremely worrying development and one that needs to be fought at all costs by all rationally-thinking people.

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Re: woah there! ...

Yeah, pisses me off too. I've not read the Register in a while.... starting to remember why I stopped.

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Coat

Hahaha, so the silly little buggers couldn't get the stats to fit their propaganda peddling BS!

Il get my coat as I suspect winter will still be cold and summer will still be hot.

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@I think so I am? -- Yuh better stick around.

You had better stick around.

Walking away from the issues and leaving them to the social 'sciences' to resolve is what too many scientists and engineers have done for the past 35-40 years (and definitely so from the Reagan-Thatcher era).

In the absence of a decent fight from us scientists, engineers and techies--a fight we'd easily win with a bit of determination--then this rabble of scaredy-cat doomsayers, mumbo-jumbo artists and woolly-thinking postmodernists will have us all catapulting back into the dark Ages.

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Skepticism does not mean doubt

I am skeptical about all 'facts' with which I am presented (I hope I am, with a bit of advance notice and sober), to a lesser or greater degree. My skepticism about evolution is .000001%, my skepticism about the existence of a deity is 99.9999%. As I don't believe anything 100%, which would require faith, there is always the possibility that new evidence could alter or negate a held understanding. I assume this is part of the scientific mind-set: one is prepared to accept indefiniteness.

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Re: Skepticism does not mean doubt

In many ways I have to agree that this seems the most plausible explanation: Those of a scientific mindset understand things and express themselves in different ways to those without.

For example, to take your deity example, a non-scientific person may say they think there is absolutely no chance of a deity existing. A person with a science background would think about it and say that they think there is a negligible chance of a deity existing.

To a lay-person these would sound the same, but the "scientist" is leaving the door open to the chance, even though they don't think the chance is large enough to make any difference.

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Re: Skepticism does not mean doubt

The question posed in their study was:

"How much risk do you believe climate change poses to human health, safety or prosperity?"

Likert scale 1-10. Nowhere does it mention skepticism.

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Re: Skepticism does not mean doubt

"As I don't believe anything 100%, which would require faith,"

It is not faith to believe in my own existence, I think therefore I am.

The rest I leave to evidence or the lack of it. I cannot in any rational way believe in the possible existence of any god and I never will, I am 100% certain there is no god.

You may call me irrational but I will say that the whole notion of a god is impossible, therefore it cannot exist.

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I think therefore I am, what?

A human or an elaborate computer program being force fed inputs to make me believe that I'm a human.

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Re: Skepticism does not mean doubt

Just because you appear to think doesn't mean that you are. What you think of as existence could be a vast AI construct.

Equally you haven't seen everything and one of the things you haven't seen may provide glaring evidence of some kind of deity.

These vague and unlikely things are 0.0000000000000001% certain to me, but that means with all honesty I cannot say there is no god and that I actually exist with 100% certainty.

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Re: I think therefore I am, what?

"A human or an elaborate computer program being force fed inputs to make me believe that I'm a human."

That is exactly how these 'trick cycliststs' think we should be, they think we can be 'force fed inputs' and be made to believe anything they choose as long as they have enough resources.

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