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Global Warming I: The Science and Modeling of Climate Change

Coursera · The University of Chicago · 3 HN comments

HN Academy has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention Coursera's "Global Warming I: The Science and Modeling of Climate Change" from The University of Chicago.
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This class describes the science of global warming and the forecast for humans’ impact on Earth’s climate. Intended for an audience without much ...
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> FWIW, I also happen to harbor this suspicion. How might one actually know whether there is an element of truth to it?

I do not harbor this same suspicion, however, I'm determined to learn whatever is necessary to understand it. Not because I can argue a point to completion for someone who doesn't share epistemological solidarity with me, but because it might allow me to aid in whatever needs posterity has in solving the problems we are creating today. In that interest, I will eventually complete the following course:

https://www.coursera.org/learn/global-warming

Or something like it, especially some atmospheric chemistry courses. I feel as if you should do so as well, as it's the only way to understand the scientific position, if all you are going to do otherwise is attack them with conspiracy theory (which should be easily provable - there will be documented cases of people lying to get their data published... just look at Andrew Wakefield) or using ad-hominem ('they are just trying to make money').

> I will confess, referring to climate models that are literally estimated projections of future temperatures as "facts", very much rubs me the wrong way.

There are also classes that teach you how to climate model and the science behind them. In order to do most statistics classes, they recommend completing multivariable calculus. All of these courses are available for free.

Further, you want to disabuse others of speculation, but you haven't taken the work to do so yourself.

Now, you could go ahead and do all the work above for every scientific point of view that you want to challenge. I myself am currently taking several classes to understand this and the challenges in ML/AI at a deeper level.... OR you can note that 95%+ (and probably well higher than that) of climate scientists recognize that human cause climate science is fact, and appeal to expertise, which is distinct from appeal to authority.

Climate change is real, it's going to be awful, it's changing our ocean chemistry already, and there are more pollution related ecological events to come that will reduce the carrying capacity of our home drastically. If you disagree, do the science, but definitely realize that _you_ are the one speculating.

adventskalender
"OR you can note that 95%+ (and probably well higher than that) of climate scientists recognize that human cause climate science is fact"

You realize that those "x% of scientists agree" claims are yet again based on models that are sometimes questionable? I've looked into the frequently cited 97% claim (I think by "Cook"), which is based on manual categorization of summaries of papers. One problem is, how are the papers selected that go into the study. Another problem is the human bias in categorizing the summaries (where does the human doing the categorizing draw the line for "supports man made global warming"). The biggest issue, however, in my opinion, is that even if most papers consent that humans affect the climate, that doesn't mean they all agree to the same level of influence.

Meaning assuming it is true, the study found 97% of papers/scientists agree that humans affect the climate. That doesn't imply 97% agree with the dramatic doomsday scenarios.

mistermann
Disclaimer: the style in which I write this reply is highly likely to be considered highly antagonistic, provocative, and non-constructive. Indeed, it may very well be this in many ways. But please consider the possibility that the actual underlying intent is other than what you might presume it to be...that there may be a method to my madness.

> I do not harbor this same suspicion, however, I'm determined to learn whatever is necessary to understand it.

Let's find out.

> Not because I can argue a point to completion for someone who doesn't share epistemological solidarity with me...

I doubt we differ much in actual epistemological beliefs, but rather my epistemological beliefs are much more pedantically stringent than yours, and that my stance on climate change is much less ~identity-related (for lack of a better term) than yours. But, I'm very pleased that you introduced epistemology into the discussion, as I believe it is one of the more important issues in play.

> ...but because it might allow me to aid in whatever needs posterity has in solving the problems we are creating today.

Here we are in strong agreement.

> In that interest, I will eventually complete the following course:

> https://www.coursera.org/learn/global-warming

Here is where our respective analyses of the problem diverge, although I didn't happen to touch too terribly strongly on this aspect of my beliefs in the comment to which you are replying, but I will do so now (and, see my other comments in this thread).

Essentially, my belief is that "the" problem of climate change is not one of science, but one of psychology. It seems to me that the manner in which the issue is being framed/discussed, is roughly:

1. figure out the "the science"

2. figure out the technical solutions

3. implementation

This seems generally logical/reasonable to me, and is typically an effective approach in the field of engineering - well, if you don't look too closely that is. I believe that 1 and 2 are complete (or more accurately, complete enough), and we should now as a society be moving on to step 3. But this is where the wheels are coming off the wagon, is it not?

Implementation, in the real world, has the following dependencies: [Public Consensus] --> [Politics] --> [Human Psychology] (note: I wrote this in a different order in a prior comment, but I think this order is more correct). Public Consensus is (largely) achieved via Politics, and Politics requires interacting with and persuading people - as they are, not as they "should" be (Human Psychology).

So let's look at some examples of human psychology in action....

> I feel as if you should do so as well, as it's the only way to understand the scientific position, if [all you are going to do otherwise] is [attack them with conspiracy theory]

> Further, you want to disabuse others of speculation, but [you haven't taken the work to do so yourself].

> Now, you could go ahead and do all the work above [for every scientific point of view that you want to challenge].

Here I will urge you to consider this in the most open-minded, least self-defensive manner possible. Please try to be acutely aware of System-1 vs System-2 thinking [0], and do your best to disable System-1. In order to assist you in that endeavor, I will openly admit that my line of reasoning has the appearance of arguing in bad faith, gas lighting, non-constructive pedantry, you name it. My behavior is clearly suspicious.

1. Remember this discussion is taking place within a context of epistemic humility (what we know is true, as opposed to what we "reasonably think" is true, but do not actually know for sure)

2. Note that I have added [brackets] to several phrases

So here is my challenge to you: re-read what I actually wrote, and answer the question:

From where did the ideas come from, that:

a) I am going to act in a particular manner

b) my beliefs (or, rhetorical techniques) are (or will be) based on conspiracy theories

c) I accuse others of speculation, but imply I am not doing the same

d) what I am doing is "challenging scientific points of view"

Is it possible that your mind has formed a highly detailed internal model of who I am and what I'm all about, based not entirely on factual observations, but rather based on subconscious heuristic judgements? I hope you can realize and acknowledge this, because it is the essence of my entire theory. And to assist you in this endeavor, I will explicitly note that this behavior isn't "stupid" or unusual - this behavior exists, and is so highly tuned that it takes place entirely without our conscious knowledge, because it evolved this way. It is an extremely useful capability of the human mind, but while it delivers tremendous advantages under most conditions, it also brings dangerous disadvantages in certain situations, such as when 100% pure, disciplined, rational thinking and analysis is required to solve a problem (say, analyzing and predicting human behavior with respect to a specific complicated situation).

So, it "shouldn't" be too hard to recognize that this is true in an individual scenario such as this conversation. But consider this: what if the entire public discussion on climate change is failing due to a mass manifestation of this well-known human behavior (combined with bad actors in politics and industry, general human stupidity, etc). What if this whole thing is little more than one big misunderstanding?

I think this is an extremely interesting and novel way of looking at this problem. The issue is, how might one get a feel for how true this is? I have a few ideas (but not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, I could use some help):

- observe the nature of discussions/arguments on climate change - We very much like to think we are discussing "pure facts" (after all, to our mind is appears in crystal clear resolution that this is what we're doing, doesn't it!), but is this really the case? For each statement in a discussion, does it have any epistemic flaws? (And, if you present these flaws to the author of the comment, observe the response - not only of the author, but also of moderators of the platform you are on!)

- how many of the "facts" we use aren't actually facts, but rather factoids (ie: "97% of scientists agree....")

- do humans sometimes literally say things that they don't literally actually believe (something you can determine by engaging in controlled, deep collaborative discussions)

- do humans sometimes behave in obviously illogical, counter-productive ways, "cutting off their nose to spite their face", "scorching the earth", voting "against their interests" (that one could actually go in the factoid category as well)

So what's the point of this long, schizophrenic rant? My point is, I think a perfectly plausible, evidence-based case can be made that what is primarily preventing us from moving forward on this problem is not a misunderstanding of the science (which there definitely is, on both sides), but a misunderstanding of the importance of human psychology. And, I will provocatively (but speculatively) assert that a recurring refusal to even acknowledge this as a valid possibility, is in fact evidence that supports the very theory. My suspicion on why this behavior exists, is that on ~identity-related issues, it is simply human nature to blame one's opponent while absolving oneself of all guilt [1].

I am worried that once again, my effort at articulating this theory will be completely not understood, or completely ignored (again, behavior that I would assert is suggestive of the very theory), as if my comment didn't even exist. But hey, as I provocatively challenged you at the very start when you claimed you were "determined to understand": "Let's find out.". So, let's, shall we?

Nonetheless, I personally believe that this is actually the problem, so I will continue to beat this dead horse in hopes that eventually someone will actually consider the idea. Under the circumstances, this seems like the right thing to do, although I highly doubt my approach is optimal.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow#Summar...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_attribution_error

abathur
I started responding to your GP comment, but I moved it here (and lightly edited/expanded it) to let you know that I see you (though your pivot from "suspicion" and "bias" to "psychology" and "identity" makes me leery).

Without specific cited examples I'm not sure if you're talking primarily about actual research papers, broader research summaries/reports, coverage in dedicated science publications, coverage in the general news outlets, political/interest group reports or talking points, discussion with random science-citing people online, etc. (I get the impression you're talking more about latter than the former examples, but I'm not confident enough to tailor the response in either direction):

In general, people are not great at thinking (even in system 2) or communicating precisely.

Unjustified thinking and bias are hard to tease apart. (I'll stick to Hanlon's razor and avoid focusing on bias--the term tends to impute even though bias can be unconscious.)

Our primary tool for communicating, human language, didn't develop to meet complex communication needs (be they scientific, technical, philosophical, etc). Some concepts are hard or impossible or tedious to communicate in language. Worse, these can get folded into nuanced domain-specific terminology or unstated shared context among practitioners.

Small portions of people are pretty good at thinking, though this is often domain-specific.

Small portions of people are pretty good at communicating, though this can also be both domain and audience specific.

To the point (roughly):

I've seen frustrating examples at each of these levels. It is (roughly) everywhere. (I won't impute, but if you see this in climate science and not everywhere--do investigate why.) Not that I would know where the Overton window is, here--but I get the impression from how you frame this that you think you are further outside of it than I think you are. I wonder if you're seeing (something like?) Dunning-Kruger here--many (but not all) of the people left arguing on the internet about facts and gigatons and global cooling and ivory tower conspiracies may just be identifying at each other.

I assume most people who see through this avoid engaging. I occasionally engage, but rarely head-on. My goal investigate to obliquely+gently give someone who appears to be thoughtful a chance to realize they are in a trench.

In any case, I'm unsure what practical application this realization has (beyond the obvious--lobbing fact-grenades into the other trench doesn't accomplish much). Do you see applicable lessons, here? One lesson can be that the message should come from someone with a lot of identity overlap. I think it's useful, but it takes a while to scale well (for example, you need people willing to risk ostracism and exclusion from groups that are core parts of their identity; people most knowledgable about the science don't have a lot of identity overlap).

Katharine Hayhoe is a decent case study, here. She stays busy, but I don't have a good sense of how readily she can move the needle with skeptics. Either way, her identity doesn't seem to defuse the regular conspiratorial comments on posts/videos about her.

I find the discussion of memes in The Selfish Gene useful here. It's worth a read if you haven't. Considering the "fitness" of individual memes, fellow travellers, and memeplexes as a whole (i.e., their virality, whether they fit in well with or oppose other common memes, how resisitant they are to displacement, etc.) is a good place to start with evaluating how climate change denial slots into people's broader belief systems. Unfortunately, it also underscores that a number of its frequent fellow travellers are fairly "fit" memes.

mistermann
First, I will add some caveats:

a) Please forgive my annoying point-by-point communication style. My belief is that it adds clarity and precision, but I realize it's also annoying.

b) Everything I should should be read in the spirit of "in my opinion"...I see this as an exploratory conversation about unqualified armchair theories, not a statement of facts.

> I started responding to your GP comment, but I moved it here (and lightly edited/expanded it) to let you know that I see you

Sincere thanks.

> (though your pivot from "suspicion" and "bias" to "psychology" and "identity" makes me leery).

Suspicion, bias, identity, and a whole schwack of other things, all fall under the domain of psychology. But I don't ask that you accept anything I say at face value, I will address any questions you have, and consider all criticism.

> Without specific cited examples I'm not sure if you're talking primarily about

It's like 90% armchair psychology, based on non-acedemic education, and a fairly long period of close observation of human interactions. I claim no authority on the subject, I only ask that people think, and be honest (or at least try). That said, the possibility remains that I may not be entirely incorrect, even out of sheer chance.

> Our primary tool for communicating, human language, didn't develop to meet complex communication needs (be they scientific, technical, philosophical, etc). Some concepts are hard or impossible or tedious to communicate in language. Worse, these can get folded into nuanced domain-specific terminology or unstated shared context among practitioners.

Exactly. And this isn't news to anyone, but what I think might be somewhat of a novel/underinvestigated idea, is how these things manifest in day to day interactions, and in turn affect subsequent behavior, such as the influencing of peers, voting patterns, etc. Has there been any academic study into this? Should there be (are the stakes high enough that out of the box thinking might be warranted, or are staus quo ideas getting the job done to an acceptable degree)?

> I won't impute, but if you see this in climate science and not everywhere--do investigate why.

It appears on any culture war topic, which is why culture war topics are often banned from being discussed in multiple communities. But again, what I find interesting, is the unwillingness for people to discuss the specifics of why they are banned.

> Not that I would know where the Overton window is, here--but I get the impression from how you frame this that you think you are further outside of it than I think you are.

This is an ever-present risk, and it's undoubtedly a motivating factor in my choice of when to wade into discussions, but I think(!) I've managed to become fairly disciplined in actually discussing things in an honest, mostly emotionally detached manner.

My framing of it is certainly not a comprehensive overview of the subject, and I have tried to go to great lengths to acknowledge that. My intent is to not discredit or derail the climate change initiative, but rather to introduce the idea, for consideration, that perhaps our perceptions of the nature of "resistance" or "disagreement" may not be accurate, and in turn our solutions/response to that may be suboptimal. Maybe I've done a less than perfect job of communicating this idea, but I see little evidence that others are making any effort to understand. Rather, it seems that my lack of complete agreement is immediately considered to be disagreement, and therefore dealt with accordingly. Any pushback seems to invoke an authoritarian, tribal response.

> I wonder if you're seeing (something like?) Dunning-Kruger here--many (but not all) of the people left arguing on the internet about facts and gigatons and global cooling and ivory tower conspiracies may just be identifying at each other.

Of course. But again, this isn't so much what I am pointing out, which is the amazingly widespread inability and unwillingness among intelligent people to step out of this mode of thinking, or acknowledge clear signs of it.

> In any case, I'm unsure what practical application this realization has (beyond the obvious--lobbing fact-grenades into the other trench doesn't accomplish much). Do you see applicable lessons, here?

At this point, I think there is some potential value in investigating how true some of these theories are. Is the fact that climate change is (has become) a culture war topic interfering with people's ability to discuss or think clearly about the matter, or does group identity trump everything (System-1 overpowers System-2, ~without exception, even among the intelligent). I believe some clear patterns can be observed. If so, what to do with this knowledge?

> One lesson can be that the message should come from someone with a lot of identity overlap.

Yes indeed! If the requirement is mass persuasion (and it very much is), and the topic is identity-related (causing the human brain to malfunction, resorting to tribal, System-1 thinking), then adopting an approach where the message is delivered via influential figures in various sub-communities seems like a very logical approach.

Which raises the question: do we see any of this happening?

> I think it's useful, but it takes a while to scale well (for example, you need people willing to risk ostracism and exclusion from groups that are core parts of their identity; people most knowledgable about the science don't have a lot of identity overlap).

Agreed. Assuming this theory is sound, scaling is a big problem. Perhaps some people who are smarter than me in the HN community have some related expertise in the field, or just some good old-fashioned smart ideas to consider. But how one might persuade them to think about the problem from this perspective seems like a difficult nut to crack. I will continue doing my best (as you can see I am not deterred by ostracism and exclusion, and @dang seems content to let me go about my business), but if you have any good ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Even if we could get everyone's sentiments pointed in the right direction, there are a lot of other seemingly unrelated issues that may need to be taken into consideration, but if a higher frame of enlightenment (willingness to cooperate, MAYBE) could be established, perhaps we could fix several problems at once. Dare to dream, eh?

> Katharine Hayhoe is a decent case study, here. She stays busy, but I don't have a good sense of how readily she can move the needle with skeptics. Either way, her identity doesn't seem to defuse the regular conspiratorial comments on posts/videos about her.

To me, sending a climate scientist to deal with skeptics is like bringing a knife to a gun fight, or trying to put out a grease fire with a bucket of water. You need a lunatic to deal with lunatics, because you need to understand how they think. Authorities and rationalists have high-resolution perceptions of how deniers and conspiracy theorists think, but they are only perceptions, almost completely manufactured by their minds. No wonder no one can make any progress with them.

> I find the discussion of memes in The Selfish Gene useful here. It's worth a read if you haven't. Considering the "fitness" of individual memes, fellow travellers, and memeplexes as a whole (i.e., their virality, whether they fit in well with or oppose other common memes, how resistant they are to displacement, etc.) is a good place to start with evaluating how climate change denial slots into people's broader belief systems.

150% agree, the propagation of "knowledge" via memes is fundamental to this problem, but it is key to realize that it is not only "deniers" who are thinking in memes (as opposed to reasoned logic) - this is how everyone is thinking, if to varying degrees. This is well known in the fields of psychology and neuroscience, and few here would dispute it within a thread on that specific topic. But try raising the notion in an unrelated topic, particularly a culture war topic, and watch people's logic exit the room instantaneously (yourself being an obvious exception).

Many thanks for the conversation, any criticism of anything I've said is appreciated.

abathur
> Suspicion, bias, identity, and a whole schwack of other things, all fall under the domain of psychology.

For sure. I just mean the act of pivoting and re-framing. It's hard to imagine the contiguous core motive that brought you to say both that you harbor suspicion that climate scientists are cooking the books and that you wonder if psychological misunderstanding is the reason we can't move forward. It seems like you laid out one kind of bait, caught about what I'd expect, and then wished you'd caught something else.

> It's like 90% armchair psychology...

Sorry--this was probably obfuscated by moving my reply here. My interest is in where (along the scale from actual researchers down to general nonscientists communicating in public fora) people are saying things that rub you the wrong way. I certainly see issues up and down the scale, but they're different.

> ... but what I think might be somewhat of a novel/underinvestigated idea, is how these things manifest in day to day interactions, and in turn affect subsequent behavior... Has there been any academic study into this?

I have hunches, but not much hard knowledge from which to reason about how well recognized/investigated this is. It's something I have and continue to actively reflect on a lot. I'm not aware of a big body of empirical work here, but the world is vast and I am not. It seems inevitable that there's research (knowingly or not) pulling on threads of this from multiple vantage points. My gut says there are chicken/egg problems here, but I'd have to take some time out to survey a good random sample of real research to know how well-tuned that is.

> It appears on any culture war topic

I think these are pervasive hermeneutic/epistemic problems, though I suppose conflict does highlight them.

> ... perhaps our perceptions of the nature of "resistance" or "disagreement" may not be accurate, and in turn our solutions/response to that may be suboptimal.

It certainly seems this way. I don't know how to cash this realization out once people are in the trench, though.

> ... I see little evidence that others are making any effort to understand. Rather, it seems that my lack of complete agreement ... seems to invoke an authoritarian, tribal response.

>...the amazingly widespread inability and unwillingness among intelligent people to step out of this mode of thinking, or acknowledge clear signs of it.

Mostly just acknowledging these. I don't have a single clear response. I can imagine a lot of different things going on here. Maybe it helps to imagine the people who aren't responding, and reflect on how the medium, forum, topic, discussion, subthread, your own post, and the very act of clicking the "reply" button to a long post may all act as filters that skew your sample.

> Is the fact that climate change is (has become) a culture war topic interfering with people's ability to discuss or think clearly about the matter

> or does group identity trump everything (System-1 overpowers System-2, ~without exception, even among the intelligent)

> If the requirement is mass persuasion (and it very much is), and the topic is identity-related (causing the human brain to malfunction, resorting to tribal, System-1 thinking)...

> Even if we could get everyone's sentiments pointed in the right direction, there are a lot of other seemingly unrelated issues that may need to be taken into consideration, but if a higher frame of enlightenment (willingness to cooperate, MAYBE) could be established, perhaps we could fix several problems at once.

I'm not sure there's a meaningful direct way to address what skeptics think. I assume they can be clustered in at least a few ways, but I haven't looked for studies breaking it down. I imagine the broadly "conspiratorial" cluster (people who are interpreting climate in light of a conspiratorial outlook), however big it is, is largely unreachable. The strictly "identitarian" cluster (people who would have no opinion if not for some group/ideology commitment) is probably a little (but not much) more reachable in the sense that some event could shake their ideological/group commitment and leave them open to revision. There are obviously other clusters (and overlap/grey zones), but the technical nature of the topic informs how prevalent I assume they are.

I guess it's trite (and maybe useless), but I feel like pointing out how thoroughly this dance is structured by the ~invisible idea that average people should have any opinion--let alone one we insist must be founded on cold, hard, rock-solid rational logic--about a mountain of published research (itself built on many vast datasets, quite a few complex models, and projections) that collectively draws on, synthesizes, and spans many disciplines. Perhaps the first reaction is that, well, this is how democracy works. But step back, and realize that this pattern demands epistemic hubris. And I think we get it.

In that light, I think we have too many opinions (regardless of how well-founded they are). I have wondered for a while now how much room there is to cultivate epistemic humility and whether we'd be better off if most of us were able to resist dropping anchor on things we don't need to have an opinion on. Perhaps it'd just be a different hellscape.

mistermann
(NOTE COPYPASTA: This discussion is getting a bit long in the tooth, I'm happy to argue indefinitely because this topic happens to be my hobby horse, but feel free to drop off if you'd like - actually, I don't think you and I are even disagreeing on anything noteworthy, which is great.)

>>> (though your pivot from "suspicion" and "bias" to "psychology" and "identity" makes me leery).

>> Suspicion, bias, identity, and a whole schwack of other things, all fall under the domain of psychology.

> For sure. I just mean the act of pivoting and re-framing. It's hard to imagine the contiguous core motive that brought you to say both that you harbor suspicion that climate scientists are cooking the books and that you wonder if psychological misunderstanding is the reason we can't move forward.

A few comments (again, please pardon my writing style):

a) my overall motive is to start a new style of discussing climate change, a different perspective on how to accomplish the goals

b) "you harbor suspicion [I do - suspicion is common human nature] that climate scientists are cooking the books [I didn't say that - that you interpreted it that way may be worth thinking about]"

c) "you wonder if psychological misunderstanding is the reason we can't move forward" - I do. Do you consider this idea silly or controversial?

d) "to say [both] that..." - I'm not seeing a contradiction here. Perhaps you're referring to your perception (not based on my words) that I believe that scientists are(!) cooking the books is inconsistent with my ~claim that others are ~misunderstanding? I hope I've clarified enough here, but am happy to dig deeper if you'd like.

> It seems like you laid out one kind of bait, caught about what I'd expect, and then wished you'd caught something else.

I don't understand what you mean by this, but if you think I'm missing something important, I'd appreciate a reply.

> Sorry--this was probably obfuscated by moving my reply here. My interest is in where (along the scale from actual researchers down to general nonscientists communicating in public fora) people are saying things that rub you the wrong way.

Oh, all over the place. I don't want to overemphasize the importance of my reactions - my point is, be very careful underestimating the importance about rubbing the general public the wrong way, particularly various groupings of people. I assume you know how motivationally powerful group identity and tribalism are. See: https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/18/politics/impeachment-polling-...

>> It appears on any culture war topic

> I think these are pervasive hermeneutic/epistemic problems, though I suppose conflict does highlight them.

This is how I see it too. And I propose, for your consideration, that conflict largely derives from the topic of discussion. I propose that conflict magnitude (and in turn cognitive degradation) is proportional to the magnitude of how an individual ~"ideologically identifies" with a topic. Who knows if there's any truth to this, it's just a theory.

> It certainly seems this way. I don't know how to cash this realization out once people are in the trench, though.

To me, job #1 is getting more people than just you and me to realize (or even open up to consider) that this is actually the situation, and potentially a non-trivial part of the problem. It seems to be a very unpopular idea.

> Maybe it helps to imagine the people who aren't responding, and reflect on how the medium, forum, topic, discussion, subthread, your own post, and the very act of clicking the "reply" button to a long post may all act as filters that skew your sample.

True. When no one will discuss a topic, one inevitably starts to speculate about opinions.

> I'm not sure there's a meaningful direct way to address what skeptics think.

It may sound naive, but asking them some questions might be a good way to start. As it is, everyone is forming opinions based on comically inaccurate proxy models.

As for the reach-ability of the various groups, again, better to not form judgements based on speculation. Mankind has dealt with group disagreements for thousands of years, why everyone seems to have such a strong "we've tried nothing and we're all out of ideas" attitude towards this instance is odd. Just more of the same thing we've been discussing I imagine. Nonetheless, something needs to be done about it.

> I guess it's trite (and maybe useless), but I feel like pointing out how thoroughly this dance is structured by the ~invisible idea that average people should have any opinion--let alone one we insist must be founded on cold, hard, rock-solid rational logic--about a mountain of published research (itself built on many vast datasets, quite a few complex models, and projections) that collectively draws on, synthesizes, and spans many disciplines. Perhaps the first reaction is that, well, this is how democracy works. But step back, and realize that this pattern demands epistemic hubris. And I think we get it.

100% agree, particularly the "epistemic hubris" - this is a massive component of this general sub-problem, and we have it in spades, on all sides. So, what to do about it?

Thanks for the fantastic conversation, very much appreciated!

abathur
I'm content with the ground we've covered, but I still wanted to address your specific request for a reply--I'll try to winnow a bit.

> b) "you harbor suspicion [I do - suspicion is common human nature] that climate scientists are cooking the books [I didn't say that - that you interpreted it that way may be worth thinking about]"

I did take metaphorical liberty in how I phrased this, but I don't see this much room, here. You quoted, and responded:

> > I have a bunch of coworkers that think scientists are making up this data and skewing results because their jobs depend on it and they want to continue to get funding. > FWIW, I also happen to harbor this suspicion...

Regardless of what you thought, or suspected, or meant to say, you said you harbor the same suspicion as the poster's coworkers--and the poster said their coworkers think the scientists are making up the data because their jobs depend on it. Where do you see enough daylight--between the initial poster's assertion, your statement, and my "cooking the books" metaphor--to assert that my interpretation is inconsistent with what you said?

> ...I don't understand what you mean by this...

You expressed skepticism (to be clear, as I said previously, I have no intrinsic objection to skepticism) of the scientists and their data, but also separately expressed interest in how we move forward from the misunderstanding. If your skepticism of the scientists and the data is serious, it's not clear to me why you're motivated to figure out how we move forward from the misunderstanding. It seems like one of a few things has to be true:

- Your skepticism of the scientists/data isn't serious. This seems to be undercut by your statement that you "harbor this suspicion" (that the scientists are making up the data and skewing their results because their jobs depend on it). If you suspect they're making up the data, I don't see why you'd be you'd also have genuine interest in moving forward to address conclusions identitariains have drawn from the data/results you suspect are made up/skewed. - Your interest in moving forward isn't serious. This seems to be undercut by your subsequent posts to others and myself.

To close the circle: You baited the trap by agreeing you suspect that the scientists are making up the data and skewing results because their jobs depend on it (I suspect this assertion is ~unfalsifiable in our moment; how would the scientists tarred by this assertion refute it? could you support it in any way that isn't vulnerable to the same assertion? And, to be clear, it would not surprise me if there are some scientists doing this--but this is not what you or the poster you quoted asserted). Your agreement with an unqualified assertion that they're making data up and skewing their results attracted about the same kind of responses I'd expect. You seem open-minded and nuanced, but the bait you left out wasn't.

> I propose, for your consideration, that conflict largely derives from the topic of discussion... the magnitude of how an individual ~"ideologically identifies" with a topic

I'm not sure. The conflict is inevitably shaped by the topic (and there are inevitably some people who care about one topic and not another), but a lot of it feels like on Wednesdays we wear pink and on Thursdays we boycott/buy something the other side loves/hates.

> To me, job #1 is getting more people than just you and me to realize (or even open up to consider) that this is actually the situation, and potentially a non-trivial part of the problem. It seems to be a very unpopular idea.

I don't know enough local/global political-party history to have a sense of whether it's like this always/everywhere, but (similar to not feeling compelled to have opinions) I've wondered for a while if it would help if we cultivated different norms around party identification (i.e., that it's unseemly for anyone who isn't a candidate or party official to "identify" as <party>).

> ...asking them some questions might be a good way to start... why everyone seems to have such a strong "we've tried nothing and we're all out of ideas" attitude towards this instance is odd ... something needs to be done

Fair. My own approach has been bending towards some playful socratic prodding over the past several years (I guess this is analogous to "street epistemology"). But I'll admit to feeling ground down by watching peoples beliefs/opinions do the Borg thing if you undermine anything they previously claimed was load-bearing. That's why I've been wondering if cultivating abstract norms/virtues is the real answer (but, of course, many people regularly prove that they're willing to discard abstract virtues for expedience). In a memetic frame, my curiosity is about whether we can cultivate more of an immune system to resist polarizing/gridlocking memes.

mistermann
> I'm content with the ground we've covered, but I still wanted to address your specific request for a reply--I'll try to winnow a bit.

I'm extremely glad you did, for reasons revealed below.

> Regardless of what you thought, or suspected, or meant to say, you said you harbor the same suspicion as the poster's coworkers--and the poster said their coworkers think the scientists are making up the data because their jobs depend on it. Where do you see enough daylight--between the initial poster's assertion, your statement, and my "cooking the books" metaphor--to assert that my interpretation is inconsistent with what you said?

Ok, this is extremely interesting, to me.

--- My initial (incorrect) response to that question ---

Well that's easy.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suspicion

Definition of suspicion

1a : the act or an instance of suspecting something wrong without proof or on slight evidence : mistrust

b : a state of mental uneasiness and uncertainty : doubt

--- My updated (less incorrect) response to that question ---

I got to thinking....here I am talking to a person who is clearly (I suspect) intelligent, articulate, and intellectually honest - not unlike how I imagine myself to be. And yet, we've somehow come to completely opposite conclusions on a matter that is somewhat complicated, but not all that complicated. Being curious about how you came to this misunderstanding (or so I thought!), I reviewed the conversation and came across this previous exchange:

>> I have a bunch of coworkers that think scientists are making up this data and skewing results because their jobs depend on it and they want to continue to get funding.

> (ME): FWIW, I also happen to harbor this suspicion. How might one actually know whether there is an element of truth to it?

Here is where the "contamination of the conversation" (and subsequent misunderstanding, on matters specifically related to this point) occurred, and it is 100% my fault. Due due to lack of disciplined preciseness, my literal words unmistakably convey something I don't actually believe (well, to be completely honest, my mind is open to the possibility, but I internally assign this a very low certainty/likelihood/magnitude score): that scientists are making up this data and skewing results.

I literally said that I am suspicious (consider it possible) that scientists are making up this data and skewing results. So NO WONDER you've been replying to me as if I hold "high level" conspiratorial beliefs, because I said just that!

FWIW, to add some color, my actual beliefs were more accurately communicated in a subsequent comment:

>> Climate science is so unnecessarily controversial at this point, that if any evidence existed that scientists were lying to make more money, business leaders would be touting it at every turn.

> (ME):Sure, and nothing I said directly contradicts this, I am merely pointing out that we do not have evidence either way that it is "wise career advice" to pursue climate change only from a particular angle, or that there might be a kind of "overton window" in play, to some degree. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

> Again, I am not saying this is the case, I am simply saying:

> a) the conclusive, absolute truth on these matters is unknown

> b) a behavior can be observed where climate change advocates seem extremely unwilling to simply acknowledge that some things are unknown

[...that there might be a kind of "overton window" in play, to some degree...] is something that I assign a much higher certainty/likelihood/magnitude score, but (obviously) an espistemic status of [Unknown - Incomplete Data].

If I had an infinite amount of time, I'd go back through the entire conversation thread and try to determine how much of that which I found completely baffling might be explained away by this one mistake - it would be funny if the whole thing might have been one giant misunderstanding due to an unintentional, seemingly minor error on the part of one well-intentioned person - a core idea in my overall theory-in-progress on the underlying causes of societal disharmony and polarization, by the way.

I wonder....is this the first time such a thing has occurred within [HN] > [The Internet] > [Planet Earth] > [The History of Mankind]?

I suspect not. And if not, I then wonder....how often might this sort of thing occur, and with what consequences (if one takes into the consideration the nature of human beings, including current knowledge on how they perceive reality based on (~recursive) interpretation of new input, that is modified based on infinitely complicated mental models of reality built from previously consumed (and interpreted) input)?

But I digress. I think this likely takes care of most of the rest of your comment, except for:

>>...I don't understand what you mean by this...

> You expressed skepticism (to be clear, as I said previously, I have no intrinsic objection to skepticism) of the scientists and their data, but also separately expressed interest in how we move forward from the misunderstanding. If your skepticism of the scientists and the data is serious, it's not clear to me why you're motivated to figure out how we move forward from the misunderstanding.

Ok, this is mostly covered by the above, but not completely: I think this in particular was mostly just plain old no-fault communication error/confusion. I was (imprecisely) referring to one kind of of misunderstanding (that of people interacting on HN, this conversation being one such example, except here we're both acting in good faith), and you took it as another (people "not understanding" (or so it seems), science).

This exchange will easily make the top 5 of my "Most Enlightening Internet Arguments of 2019", so thanks for your persistence.

Two final questions, just for fun:

1. Within this overall ridiculous conversation, do you get any sense of a kind of a ~"general theme, loosely related set of ideas" that drives my curiosity?

2. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highest confidence), how crazy do you think I am?

EDIT: I also just realized I owe at least two people some sort of an apology.

abathur
> I wonder ... how often might this sort of thing occur, and with what consequences ...?

I started trying to answer this directly but I wonder if it's more helpful to go meta here. I haven't tried to check this against past posts to see how parallel it is, but the feeling of trying to answer this sequence (does it happen, how often, and to what effect) reminds me of something I've noticed several times when thinking about questions in your comments (to me and others).

It starts off with a question that seems (to me) to have an obvious answer. I can't figure out, in context, whether to read them as purely rhetorical but tend to give the benefit of the doubt. Then I have trouble charting a course to an answer that feels charitable. The tack-on questions tend to balloon to something quite relevant, but seemingly unanswerable without hubris or a mountain of research that I suspect doesn't exist.

This leads me back around to indecision between taking the whole chain rhetorically and whether it's possible to answer charitably. By the end, I end up a bit frustrated.

On this chain of questions: These things happen all the time (see my earlier amorphous notes on how hard I think both precise thinking and communication are). I can't imagine a meaningful answer about the consequences, but I do agree it's a meaningful exercise for the reader to imagine what the consequences may be.

Whether you're hoping for this kind of conclusion or hoping for an answer that actually tries to imagine the frequency and consequences, I suspect you can wring a little more luck out of your approach by narrowing the scope of some questions (probably by making them more local/personal), factoring some of them out into direct statements, or even adding a disclaimer.

1. I can't pretend to have tried to nail this down up to now. Projecting this hard also makes me uncomfortable, but I guess I can make a post hoc effort.

It seems like you're trying to make sense of the absurdist conflict rituals you see playing out. I think you're trying to call attention to the ritual (and its absurdity) as a means of making sense of it (finding other people who agree, prompting new people trying to do the same, testing ideas, getting opinions). I think you see the ritual turning more on psychology than logic, and want to understand the psychology (and promote understanding of the psychology) to light a path forward.

If this isn't too far off base, I have a few closing thoughts:

- I expressed this before in different terms, but I do feel like you're looking for conscientious objectors in the middle of a battlefield. There's nothing wrong with that. You will find a few of us here. And you'll find a few people who are open to persuasion. But you'll mostly find people who are trained to shoot at anything on the wrong horizon.

- I have a pet theory about how to model people who seem irrational: I suspect most people make approximately rational decisions if you know/understand the inputs (values, perceptions, experience) and how they weight them. This doesn't mean you (or they!) can know all of their inputs, but it does imply a few things that I find more productive/tractable than just perceiving them as irrational agents: a) there's value in trying to imagine what inputs could justify someone's decision/behavior; b) it's humbling to assume you might decide/behave the same way with the same inputs; c) if they are a willing, self-reflective participant, the processes of mutually teasing out and challenging inputs and weightings is less inherently fraught/adversarial/condescending than the process of figuring out why they are irrational/illogical.

2. I regularly ask people in my life for scales, but always with a twist. I might rephrase this like "On a scale from 1 to crazy, how am I?" or "How would you rate me on a scale from tall to crazy?" I do this for fun, but also because I'm very leery of dichotomies (especially ranked dichotomy scales) and what they do to our thinking. I haven't thought of you as crazy.

mistermann
> It starts off with a question that seems (to me) to have an obvious answer. I can't figure out, in context, whether to read them as purely rhetorical but tend to give the benefit of the doubt. Then I have trouble charting a course to an answer that feels charitable. The tack-on questions tend to balloon to something quite relevant, but seemingly unanswerable without hubris or a mountain of research that I suspect doesn't exist.

Could you possibly give an example? Or perhaps you're simply noticing exactly what I'm doing, which is asking obviously rhetorical questions, in order to get someone to think.

Or, if you're referring to "I wonder ... how often might this sort of thing occurs"...

The whole quote:

> I suspect not. And if not, I then wonder....how often might this sort of thing occur, and with what consequences (if one takes into the consideration the nature of human beings, including current knowledge on how they perceive reality based on (~recursive) interpretation of new input, that is modified based on infinitely complicated mental models of reality built from previously consumed (and interpreted) input)?

...where "this sort of thing" = ~"unintentional misspeaking, differences in interpretation of words, unrealized differences in axioms (or unawareness of the existence of axioms, or the human ego), pure erroneous thinking, lying, silly (epistemically unsound) ideas, simple misunderstanding, etc".

What I was getting at is.....of all the things people fight about, how much of it might be a misunderstanding (throughout whatever means), which then sets off a self-reinforcing negative feedback loop of retaliation and revenge. This sort of thing happens between couples all the time, could something similar not also be happening at the societal and global level?

> It seems like you're trying to make sense of the absurdist conflict rituals you see playing out. I think you're trying to call attention to the ritual (and its absurdity) as a means of making sense of it (finding other people who agree, prompting new people trying to do the same, testing ideas, getting opinions). I think you see the ritual turning more on psychology than logic, and want to understand the psychology (and promote understanding of the psychology) to light a path forward.

> If this isn't too far off base

Pretty much bang on.

> But you'll mostly find people who are trained to shoot at anything on the wrong horizon.

Yes, this is basically my overwhelming (95%++) experience. Granted, maybe I'm not going about this perfectly, but on a website with an average IQ as high as HN, surely you'd think you could find someone who's willing and able to defend the things they believe, or someone that might realize they aren't able to?

> b) it's humbling to assume you might decide/behave the same way with the same inputs;

Oh yes, I'm very well aware that I have many similar imperfections.

> c) if they are a willing, self-reflective participant, the processes of mutually teasing out and challenging inputs and weightings is less inherently fraught/adversarial/condescending than the process of figuring out why they are irrational/illogical.

Oh, I don't disagree, but I think there's another way of thinking about it. My goal isn't really achieving rational conversation on the object level, I'm more interested in the general behavior from an abstract perspective, and finding out if a way can (or can not) be found to make people realize it, in realtime. It sounds like a weird idea, and maybe it actually is, but I'm fairly obsessed with it for now.

> I haven't thought of you as crazy.

Well thank you. I'm not so sure I agree, but you seem very reasonable so I'll take your word for it! :)

Thanks for the chat.

moosey
> Is it possible that your mind has formed a highly detailed internal model of who I am and what I'm all about, based not entirely on factual observations, but rather based on subconscious heuristic judgements?

This appears to be the only important statement in everything that you wrote requiring some kind of response. I can say, quite certainly, that this is not the case, but that it is slowly happening, based on other responses I'm seeing.

You made a statement about the following:

> > I have a bunch of coworkers that think scientists are making up this data and skewing results because their jobs depend on it and they want to continue to get funding.

> FWIW, I also happen to harbor this suspicion. How might one actually know whether there is an element of truth to it?

This is, quite literally, creating a conspiracy from thin air without proof. Climate science is so unnecessarily controversial at this point, that if any evidence existed that scientists were lying to make more money, business leaders would be touting it at every turn. However, there is plenty of evidence that scientists that deny climate change are in it for the money:

https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/climate-denial-ma...

> As a Washington Post article explains, “in the 1990s, oil companies, fossil fuel industry trade groups and their respective PR firms began positioning contrarian scientists such as Willie Soon, William Happer and David Legates as experts whose opinions on climate change should be considered equal and opposite to that of climate scientists.”

> The contrarian voice of these funded-skeptics hides the fact that basically the entire scientific community agrees the crisis is real and caused by humans, promoting the myth of disagreement.

Do you hold the same opinion of scientists that deny climate change? Offered evidence, will you change that opinion? This article might not be definitive proof, but proof of these actions by the fossil fuel industry is widely available. With this information, my theory of epistemology can treat scientists who suggest that Climate Change is happening and human caused is fact, and that those that deny it are most likely disingenuous. If you don't agree, then it is likely that we cannot share epistimological solidarity. It's not an emotional statement, just a statement of fact. You might suggest that I am reaching my conclusion illogically. It might even be true. It doesn't change the fact that our epistemologies differ.

IOW, I responded primarily to a statement that is a widespread conspiracy theory, and therefore propaganda, by calling it what it was, not by making assumptions about who you are, and how you think. I simply made a reply based on what you wrote. I, on the other hand, can present a real conspiracy (not propaganda) by pointing out how various industries have disingenuously used media (and thus human emotion and failing human intuition) to argue against human caused climate change. That actually exists, and is a statement of fact, unless you differ from me in epistemology.

Further, you reference the book "Thinking Fast and Slow", while defending a statement of intuition:

> I also happen to harbor this suspicion

In response, I gave you the ultimate 'slow thinking' path that I follow myself: education. Until I have that education, then I must fall back on the expertise of others.

Further, I'm extremely aware of the fact that we need the public to buy in, and that we need political will to deal with Climate Change. Extremely, frustratingly, aware.

mistermann
> This appears to be the only important statement in everything that you wrote requiring some kind of response.

Not that I'm surprised, but....really?

How about this: "My point is, I think a perfectly plausible, evidence-based case can be made that what is primarily preventing us from moving forward on this problem is not a misunderstanding of the science (which there definitely is, on both sides), but a misunderstanding of the importance of human psychology."

Are you willing to state an opinion on that (taking into consideration the supporting ideas in my comment)?

> I can say, quite certainly, that this is not the case, but that it is slowly happening, based on other responses I'm seeing.

Here I'm not sure what you're saying exactly.

"that this is not the case" - ok, well if that's the case, could you please answer the question I posed: "From where did the ideas come from, that:"

"but that it is slowly happening, based on other responses I'm seeing" - I'm not sure what this refers to. Could you clarify?

>>> I have a bunch of coworkers that think scientists are making up this data and skewing results because their jobs depend on it and they want to continue to get funding.

>> FWIW, I also happen to harbor this suspicion. How might one actually know whether there is an element of truth to it?

> This is, quite literally, creating a conspiracy from thin air without proof.

No, it is not. You're the one that added the notion of epistemology into the discussion (and kudos for that), but it seems now, you've forgotten that.

I'm not "creating a conspiracy" (I imagine this rhetorical technique has a name, but I know not what it might be), I am asking a question. You seem to believe you are above epistemic soundness. I challenge you to address this.

> Climate science is so unnecessarily controversial at this point, that if any evidence existed that scientists were lying to make more money, business leaders would be touting it at every turn.

Sure, and nothing I said directly contradicts this, I am merely pointing out that we do not have evidence either way that it is "wise career advice" to pursue climate change only from a particular angle, or that there might be a kind of "overton window" in play, to some degree. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Again, I am not saying this is the case, I am simply saying:

a) the conclusive, absolute truth on these matters is unknown

b) a behavior can be observed where climate change advocates seem extremely unwilling to simply acknowledge that some things are unknown

> However, there is plenty of evidence that scientists that deny climate change are in it for the money: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/climate-denial-ma.... > As a Washington Post article explains, “in the 1990s, oil companies, fossil fuel industry trade groups and their respective PR firms began positioning contrarian scientists such as Willie Soon, William Happer and David Legates as experts whose opinions on climate change should be considered equal and opposite to that of climate scientists.” > The contrarian voice of these funded-skeptics hides the fact that basically the entire scientific community agrees the crisis is real and caused by humans, promoting the myth of disagreement.

> Do you hold the same opinion of scientists that deny climate change?

I do not subscribe to the beliefs of climate change denying scientists, and not a single thing I wrote suggested that I believe this in the slightest. And yet, here you are concentrating on this, while simultaneously ignoring most everything else I actually wrote.

I will remind you of something else I wrote:

> My point is, I think a perfectly plausible, evidence-based case can be made that what is primarily preventing us from moving forward on this problem is not a misunderstanding of the science (which there definitely is, on both sides), but a misunderstanding of the importance of human psychology. And, I will provocatively (but speculatively) assert that a recurring refusal to even acknowledge this as a valid possibility, is in fact evidence that supports the very theory. My suspicion on why this behavior exists, is that on ~identity-related issues, it is simply human nature to blame one's opponent while absolving oneself of all guilt [1].

> I am worried that once again, my effort at articulating this theory will be completely not understood, or completely ignored (again, behavior that I would assert is suggestive of the very theory), as if my comment didn't even exist. But hey, as I provocatively challenged you at the very start when you claimed you were "determined to understand": "Let's find out.". So, let's, shall we?

Taking those words into consideration, notice what the theme/theory of the actual content of my post was, and notice what the content of your reply was. You ignored most everything I said, and certainly ignored the main idea, even though I clearly pointed out that this is the very behavior I was pointing out. What happened to your "determination to understand"?

As I've already stated: to me, this is extremely interesting. I think something important is going on here.

> Offered evidence, will you change that opinion?

My opinions are always open to change. I am rare in that I will stand and defend my beliefs, and answer any question posed to me without changing the subject. Can you say the same?

> This article might not be definitive proof, but proof of these actions by the fossil fuel industry is widely available. With this information, my theory of epistemology can treat scientists who suggest that Climate Change is happening and human caused is fact, and that those that deny it are most likely disingenuous.

Are you suggesting that untruth on the part of climate-denying scientists is somehow epistemically sound proof that pro-climate-change scientist's science is fact? This seems illogical to me.

> If you don't agree, then it is likely that we cannot share epistimological solidarity.

I don't disagree on that, but I don't think we share epistimological solidarity, because I am extremely concerned with what is known to be true regardless of whose theories it supports, and your concerns seem to be biased.

> IOW, I responded primarily to a statement that is a widespread conspiracy theory, and therefore propaganda, by calling it what it was...

...and also suggesting that because it is "a conspiracy theory" then therefore it is false, with a demonstrated lack of concern for whether such a conclusion is actually known, or knowable.

> not by making assumptions about who you are, and how you think.

I challenge you again to address my question: "From where did the ideas come from, that:"

> I simply made a reply based on what you wrote.

You missed the part where you ignored the majority of my comment, despite me predicting that.

> I, on the other hand, can present a real conspiracy (not propaganda) by pointing out how various industries have disingenuously used media (and thus human emotion and failing human intuition) to argue against human caused climate change.

Once again, which I've never disputed. Why you seem focused on something I've literally not mentioned, while ignoring that which I did mention, is the very behavior I noted in my comment that I find unusual.

> Further, you reference the book "Thinking Fast and Slow", while defending a statement of intuition:

> I also happen to harbor this suspicion

> In response, I gave you the ultimate 'slow thinking' path that I follow myself: education. Until I have that education, then I must fall back on the expertise of others.

Your education didn't contain any proof of my conclusion, but at least you seem to realize that your proof is an appeal to authority.

> Further, I'm extremely aware of the fact that we need the public to buy in, and that we need political will to deal with Climate Change. Extremely, frustratingly, aware.

Are you frustrated enough to actually consider the content of what I wrote in my comment? Because from what you've written here, it seems almost as if you didn't even read it.

adventskalender
"OR you can note that 95%+ (and probably well higher than that) of climate scientists recognize that human cause climate science is fact"

You realize that those "x% of scientists agree" claims are yet again based on models that are sometimes questionable? I've looked into the 97% claim (I think by "Cook"), which is based on manual estimates of summaries of papers. One problem is, how are the papers selected. Another problem is the human bias in categorizing the summaries (where does the human doing the categorizing draw the line for "supports man made global warming"). The biggest issue, however, in my opinion, is that even if most papers consent that humans affect the climate, that doesn't mean they all agree to the same level of influence.

Meaning assuming it is true, the study found 97% of papers/scientists agree that humans affect the climate. That doesn't imply 97% agree with the dramatic doomsday scenarios.

I can say that I sympathized with your approach, like taking the Coursera course. Although I fear it won't really help, because you can not be sure that they will teach you all the facts you need to know. It may be just a course designed to convince you that global warming exists.

But anyway - trying to understand the science is obviously a good idea, if you have the spare time.

But then you lost me completely with the 95% consensus claim. It's just a flag that goes up that says "you are one of those people", making me tend to ignore all your further arguments, or at least assign them a low likelihood of truth.

svara
The "X% of scientists agree" point is of course not a scientific argument, and I understand how it could be taken the wrong way, either as an appeal to authority or as a cheap regurgitation of canned talking points.

But go ahead and read the full discussion here. I think a lack of patience with the dishonest discussion tactics used by poorly informed people arguing against the scientific state of the art is totally understandable. On an emotional level I can totally understand why you would like to just say "shut up and listen to 97% of the scientists".

I've been told repeatedly in this discussion section to listen properly to people holding alternative points of view, instead of just assuming that they're uninformed. Yet as soon as you dig, the "scientific arguments" evaporate. For a beautiful example of this, see the comment I just wrote at <https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21820189>.

adventskalender
"Yet as soon as you dig, the "scientific arguments" evaporate. For a beautiful example of this, see the comment I just wrote at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21820189 . "

The opposing side has just the same experience with the arguments and papers from your side - there are many articles and papers questioning and criticizing papers from the doomsday side. You are just cherry picking and practicing confirmation bias (see, another paper refuted, so my side must be right). In fact the "95% of scientists agree" is just such an example - if you look into it, the number becomes very questionable. And once people see one of your arguments is shoddy, why should they give your other arguments the benefit of the doubt?

And your answer, as well as the comment you were replying to: it might as well all just be gibberish, for someone who isn't a climate scientist.

And in the end your refutation boils down to "we know that CO2 traps heat and warms the earth" - which is presumably true, but people don't seem to agree on the extent of it. And other factors seem to affect it, too.

Why do you even believe the "CO2 traps heat" thing? I tend to believe it, too. But that is because I was taught it does back in high school, 35 years ago. Maybe it actually was bullshit already back then, but as a teenager, I didn't know that what teachers said could be questioned.

I don't think any of us has done an actual experiment trapping heat with CO2...

svara
> The opposing side has just the same experience with the arguments and papers from your side - there are many articles and papers questioning and criticizing papers from the doomsday side. You are just cherry picking and practicing confirmation bias

I was doing the literal opposite of cherry-picking, I was digging into the arguments as they were presented to me. So far nothing has held up. If you can give me an argument with a proper source I'll happily look into that as well.

> In fact the "95% of scientists agree" is just such an example - if you look into it, the number becomes very questionable.

A very poor example on many levels. 1) This statement is fundamentally irrelevant to the (scientific) discussion, because it does not contain a scientific argument. It could be 0%, it could be a 100%, that wouldn't change the validity of any of the scientific arguments presented. Truth isn't measured in mass appeal. 2) Yet, for someone who isn't well informed about a field, putting some trust in the subject matter experts is an OK strategy, and the point that a consensus broadly exists in climate science is correct, and there is support for the precise number of 97%. [0]

> And your answer, as well as the comment you were replying to: it might as well all just be gibberish, for someone who isn't a climate scientist.

High energy particle physics is mostly gibberish to me, yet I don't go around lecturing people on how it's all wrong.

But your point is also wrong: I am not a climate scientist, and the whole discussion can be followed with a bit of high school physics, chemistry and biology, plus Wikipedia to fill in the gaps. Your next point shows that you were unwilling to put in that effort, but it isn't actually that hard ...

> And in the end your refutation boils down to "we know that CO2 traps heat and warms the earth"

It absolutely does not, I was addressing a very specific point about how historic CO2 levels are measured.

> Why do you even believe the "CO2 traps heat" thing?

Because you too can do things like look up the absorption spectrum for CO2 [1] or even do an experiment like [2] yourself.

[0] https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect#/media/File:...

[2] https://aapt.scitation.org/doi/10.1119/1.1987255

adventskalender
"I was doing the literal opposite of cherry-picking, I was digging into the arguments as they were presented to me. So far nothing has held up. If you can give me an argument with a proper source I'll happily look into that as well."

Again, that is exactly how your opponents feel.

" there is support for the precise number of 97%. [0]"

You are merely appealing to authority. I already told you why I think the number is questionable, yet you keep at it. All your reference tells me is that the NASA is not an honest player in the debate and can't be trusted. Since I already looked into the papers that produced the consensus numbers, yet NASA chooses to use the numbers anyway. Since I have to assume NASA has the capacity to understand those papers, I have to assume they choose to selectively quote them out of political motivation. So they don't count as honest scientists anymore. (Honest Scientist = people who are dedicated to finding the truth, not just in validating their beliefs).

And it very much contains a scientific argument, by proxy - since we can only trust the scientists, not verify their claims, if you claim the scientists support your arguments, you are making the claim that your arguments are backed by science. It is very relevant.

It may also be one of the most cited claims in the whole debate.

"High energy particle physics is mostly gibberish to me, yet I don't go around lecturing people on how it's all wrong."

But you also don't go around and educate people on particle physics. There are no stakes for most of us (unless you count the cost in tax payer money for building particle accelerators). Not the same with CO2.

"> And in the end your refutation boils down to "we know that CO2 traps heat and warms the earth"

It absolutely does not, I was addressing a very specific point about how historic CO2 levels are measured."

Yes you did, all you said is "we know how CO2 works", "we know" was your entire argument:

"Importantly, of course, none of this is really that relevant to the discussion of anthropogenic global warming, since we know that we are putting CO2 into the atmosphere, and that CO2 in the atmosphere traps heat."

"the whole discussion can be followed with a bit of high school physics, chemistry and biology, plus Wikipedia to fill in the gaps. Your next point shows that you were unwilling to put in that effort, but it isn't actually that hard"

Oh so you claim the authority of a climate scientist now, because it is oh such a simple subject? You took some high school physics, Wikipedia, and now you are an expert on climate?

I don't think anybody doubts that CO2 can trap heat in principle. But going from that to a doomsday scenario is a little bit more complex.

svara
This comment is so intellectually dishonest that I have to conclude that you're trolling. I don't want to continue polluting this comments section with a detailed response.

If you are genuinely interested in discussing this, I'm leaving my e-mail in my profile for a while.

mistermann
> This comment is so intellectually dishonest that I have to conclude that you're trolling.

This seems like an evasive rhetorical technique.

How about this idea, to try to reestablish a productive conversation, choose the weakest (most intellectually dishonest) point, and criticize it?

If you are unwilling to do that, please explain why (keeping in mind your reference to intellectual honesty).

adventskalender
"intellectually dishonest" - seriously, what the fuck?

You give no reason why you think so, and I don't see why I should have to disprove your belief.

(edit: presumably you refer to the lines where I say you claim to be an expert on climate science now? Maybe the rhetoric was a bit harsh. But that was only a part of the whole comment. And I stand by the point, that nobody can claim to be an expert just by reading some Wikipedia and highschool books. The issue is that most arguments boil down to appeals to authority.)

mistermann
>> In fact the "95% of scientists agree" is just such an example - if you look into it, the number becomes very questionable. And once people see one of your arguments is shoddy, why should they give your other arguments the benefit of the doubt?

> In fact the "95% of scientists agree" is just such an example - if you look into it, the number becomes very questionable. <-------------

> A very poor example on many levels.

I'd like to draw your attention to something. Notice how you've dropped a key idea that @adventskalender pointed out: "And once people see one of your arguments is shoddy, why should they give your other arguments the benefit of the doubt?"

I think this type of behavior is interesting, common, and potentially consequential.

> 1) This statement is fundamentally irrelevant to the (scientific) discussion, because it does not contain a scientific argument.

And yet, it is commonly repeated on a regular basis in the "scientific" discussion, despite not being technically true.

> It could be 0%, it could be a 100%, that wouldn't change the validity of any of the scientific arguments presented.

It changes the rhetorical/persuasive value of it though.

> Truth isn't measured in mass appeal.

Perception of truth is.

> the point that a consensus broadly exists in climate science is correct

Then say that, rather then falsely report the statistically tortured "97%".

> and there is support for the precise number of 97%. [0]

I see only more rhetorical support for the number, not mathematical support. Not that it matters really, just sayin'.

> But your point is also wrong: I am not a climate scientist, and the whole discussion can be followed with a bit of high school physics, chemistry and biology, plus Wikipedia to fill in the gaps. Your next point shows that you were unwilling to put in that effort, but it isn't actually that hard ...

It may not be hard to "follow it", but what does that expression mean, and what does it not mean. I'm fairly certain it doesn't mean understood at a level sufficient to form epistemically sound conclusions. Again, high marks for persuasiveness, but I don't find this line of reasoning convincing. But that's me.

To be clear: I say this not in dispute of the actual science of climate change, the axe I am grinding is related to the nature of the conversation around it. I am hoping some people might become more willing to consider the possible detrimental consequences of the way this topic is discussed.

svara
I feel like I have to address this "97% of scientists" point now, since this is coming up again and again.

I did not do this so far because it's ultimately beside the point. Climate science studies the climate, and not climate scientists, and I don't find the exact percentage of climate scientists agreeing or disagreeing with something at all interesting or relevant. Worse, harping on about that point makes it sound as if this was ultimately about some sort of popularity contest.

Well this is not a popularity contest, it's a scientific issue where there is a well-known method for making progress: You present logical arguments and counter-arguments, based on facts from credible sources (or original experiments). That's the only thing I'm interested in, and the he said / she said style of arguing that may get you points on reddit and twitter is super boring to me.

I've tried to make this point in various ways already, but it seems to be, possibly willfully, misunderstood, so I'm going to actually comment in detail on "refutations" of the Cook et al. 2013 paper [1].

The criticisms that I could find in the discussion section are that

1. paper abstracts are manually interpreted

2. there might be selection bias

3. while scientists might agree, they might disagree on the degree to which warming is occuring or to which it is a problem

Regarding 1.: Partly correct, misleading. Manual interpretation is a perfectly fine way to deal with natural language data. However, Cook et al. did not rely on this method alone. They also asked authors to self-assess. They compare their manual abstract rating to the self-assessment, and find the self-assessment to lead to substantially less "No position" ratings and more "Endorsment" ratings, while barely changing the "Reject" ratings.

Regarding 2.: Obviously correct. This is a potential issue in any empirical sociological study. In this case, however, the issue is limited, since 1) the total pool of climate scientists is limited, 2) the sample of papers (11944) and of scientists asked to self-assess (8547 asked, 1200 responses) is high and 3) the result is consistent with that of other similar studies [2].

Regarding 3.: While I agree that this would be more interesting than just distinguishing between rejection / endorsment / no position, it simply wasn't the question that Cook et al. were looking at.

Importantly, none of these points are particularly insightful, yet they were presented as if they constituted some sort of hidden knowledge uncovering a vast conspiracy. Points 1 and 2 are discussed by Cook et al. in their Discussion section, right there in the original paper. Point 3 isn't discussed because it's outside the scope of the paper.

So sure, you can now go and say "they used a sampling strategy, so there is the potential issue of sampling bias" and that is technically the truth. It is also incredibly disingenuous, since every single scientific work ever published has limitations. These limitations are understood and discussed by the scientific community. As long as no major flaw is found that invalidates the findings, the result stands.

This is just how science works. What else are you asking for? A mandatory self-assessment by every climate scientist in the world? Taking a sample and reporting statistics on the sample (while discussing any potential limitations to your sampling strategy) is the correct way to do it. It is therefore totally fine to say that 97% of scientists agree with artificial global warming, based on the study by Cook et al.

Depending on how exactly you ask the question, who you ask, and when you ask, you may get other results than 97% (Cook et al. have reviewed this in detail in [2]). That is not a contradiction, it is totally expected.

[1] https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024...

[2] This is reviewed in Cook et al. 2016, https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/04...

mistermann
> I feel like I have to address this "97% of scientists" point now, since this is coming up again and again.

It does come up again and again - in this conversation, but also in mainstream and social media, as a representation of the overwhelming consensus of scientific agreement, which may plausibly affect the opinions of average citizens.

Considering this, I think it's fair to questions whether the "97% of scientists" claim is actually true, or whether it may be the result of some fancy footwork.

> I did not do this so far because it's ultimately beside the point.

Beside "a" point, but beside "the" point? Depends on the topic of discussion I suppose. In this thread, we have a prior comment:

> In fact the "95% of scientists agree" is just such an example - if you look into it, the number becomes very questionable.

So no, it isn't actually "beside the point".

> Climate science studies the climate, and not climate scientists, and I don't find the exact percentage of climate scientists agreeing or disagreeing with something at all interesting or relevant.

Me neither, but I doubt the same applies to the general public, and I know it doesn't apply to large numbers of people on social media (where I see the statistic quoted as some sort of proof, regularly), and I also know it doesn't matter to actual deniers, conspiracy theorists, and right wing media talking heads (Fox news, bloggers, YouTube celebrities, T_D members, etc) who will look for any weakness in your game and exploit it to it's maximum potential. Don't underestimate this last group - meme magic is real.

> Well this is not a popularity contest

Public support of climate change initiatives is very much a popularity contest, of sorts. The public discussion certainly doesn't consist of qualified discussion of the science.

> it's a scientific issue where there is a well-known method for making progress: You present logical arguments and counter-arguments, based on facts from credible sources (or original experiments). That's the only thing I'm interested in, and the he said / she said style of arguing that may get you points on reddit and twitter is super boring to me.

Your relative interest is interesting, but beside the point. The topic of this sub-thread is very clearly about trustworthiness of claims, so please stop complaining about the topic. If you are not interested, please don't reply.

> This is just how science works. What else are you asking for?

I wouldn't mind hearing your thoughts on the perspective below, with respect to whether it is truthful or necessary to describe the actual facts below incorrectly, as: "97% of scientists agree...", especially considering scientists numbers weren't included in the initial report.

(Note that I put a few qualifying comments below the stats part, you might want to skim those before starting a reply. Also note that we're obviously talking past each other at this point to a large degree, and I fully appreciate that this criticism is ~ridiculous to some degree (I'm not a complete idiot), but as I willingly concede that, might you willingly concede that there very much is a propaganda war going on in parallel to the actual science? Whether you personally care about that is orthogonal to the fact of its existence.)

--------------------

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024...

> We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors' self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.

Popular claim: 97% of scientists agree with the consensus on anthropogenic global warming.

Actual Facts:

Within the subset of climate change abstracts that mention the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming':

66.4% of abstracts expressed no opinion on AGW

32.6% of abstracts endorsed AGW

0.7% of abstracts rejected AGW

0.3% of abstracts were uncertain

Within the subset of these abstracts that expressed an opinion on AGW, 97.2% endorsed AGW

Percentage of scientists who endorse AGW: NOT STATED

Percentage of scientists who have expressed an opinion on AGW, who endorse AGW: NOT STATED

--------------------

Please note, my question is not in any way about whether this anomaly should be considered a reasonable and valid debunking of AGW science itself (it isn't, of course), it is strictly about the truthfulness (or propaganda, depending on how one's boat floats) aspect of it.

Also note that I have no idea if this is article is based on the most up to data, or if a newer study is available that fixes the shortcomings below. If there is, fantastic, perhaps I'll read it. But again, this is not my complaint: my complaint is the "97% of scientists...." memes that were deployed into the public arena of perception. I do not like this approach for several reasons, one of which is it is susceptible to justified attack by deniers and conspiracy theorists.

svara
Because absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, abstracts expressing no position can not be included in the 97% number. Finding many abstracts that fall into this category is expected and does not detract from the 97% finding, because there are so many aspects of climate science that you can study that have no direct bearing on the question of whether anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is real or not.

You phrase it as ...

> Within the subset of these abstracts that expressed an opinion on AGW, 97.2% endorsed AGW

... which is a misleading way of framing this, because opinion does not play a role in this. Expressing an opinion in a scientific abstract would be highly frowned upon. The question is whether the abstract contains information relevant to the question of whether AGW is happening or not. These are the only abstracts that you want to consider when the question is whether the science agrees or disagrees with AGW.

Your point that going from "97% of abstracts" to "97% of scientists" is not strictly correct is fine (and this is not done in the Cook et al. paper), but this simplification in the media is not worrying to me at all, since you'd expect those to be very highly correlated.

> might you willingly concede that there very much is a propaganda war going on in parallel to the actual science?

Well, based on this comments section that seems rather self-evident. The scientists, however, are not fighting a propaganda war. That's a political or media phenomenon. Everything written in this comments section so far for me has reinforced the picture that this "war" is very one sided, since the anti-science arguments either just disappear or boil down to inconsequential pedantry as soon as you shine some light on them.

mistermann
(NOTE: This discussion is getting a bit long in the tooth, I'm happy to argue indefinitely because this topic happens to be my hobby horse, but I'm more than happy to declare a truce of sorts so you can gracefully exit and get on with more interesting things. I very much thank you for arguing though, I've found it helpful in clarifying my thinking on some items.)

> Because absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, abstracts expressing no position can not be included in the 97% number.

This seems reasonable, but once again you're overlooking the actual claim that's being made: "97% of climate scientists...."

Now of course, from a pure scientific perspective, it's a moot point, and our entire argument is a waste of time. But this particular discussion, and the comprehensive issue of climate change itself, is not purely a scientific issue.

> You phrase it as ...

>> Within the subset of these abstracts that expressed an opinion on AGW, 97.2% endorsed AGW

> ... which is a misleading way of framing this, because opinion does not play a role in this.

At first glance, this seems rather surreal. I am stating it accurately (this wording more accurately resembles what was actually studied), but your mind perceives this more accurate statement as "a misleading way of framing this". So what's going on here?

Well, there are (at least) two differences here that I can see:

- we are using two different verbs: stating, and framing

- we are evaluating the truthiness of the different ways of stating it from (at least) two different/composite perspectives: I am looking at it from the perspectives of pedantic accuracy (how closely the description of the study matches the actual study) and with respect to vulnerability to propagandic exploitation (full disclosure: I imagine there's some motivated reasoning going on), whereas you are looking at it more from the perspective of ~"what is the most concise way these results can be stated in order to communicate the scientific facts"

So if we look at it this way, it seems to me we're both right. I don't disagree with your framing, as it relates to the science only, and I suspect (based on your prior comments) that you don't disagree with my framing, but only as it relates to pedantic accuracy of describing what the study actually did, with the intention of minimizing the attack surface to propagandists. (Do I suspect correctly?)

> but this simplification in the media is not worrying to me at all, since you'd expect those to be very highly correlated

> The scientists, however, are not fighting a propaganda war. That's a political or media phenomenon. Everything written in this comments section so far for me has reinforced the picture that this "war" is very one sided, since the anti-science arguments either just disappear or boil down to inconsequential pedantry as soon as you shine some light on them.

And here is where I wish you could try (I don't think you are) to understand what I am trying to get through to you: your focus on only the pure science aspect of the issue, and your side "winning" that war in the online culture war, is detrimental to your cause. You can have the science and technical solutions all figured out (and it is, well enough), but if you are unable to assemble adequate public consensus & support, the entire initiative may fail, not unlike a typical IT project with strong technical people but terrible analysts and project managers. If the topic of the original article was running successful IT projects, I can't imagine what I am saying right now (bad management team >> strong technical team) would receive noteworthy resistance on HN, because we've all seen it many times. But change the topic to something in the culture war category, and people's thinking changes.

svara
>> ... which is a misleading way of framing this, because opinion does not play a role in this.

>At first glance, this seems rather surreal. I am stating it accurately

You may have slightly misunderstood what I was trying to say here, I was referring only to your use of "no opinion" versus the paper's "no position." It's not a hugely important point so I'm only going to comment on the following ...

> You can have the science and technical solutions all figured out (and it is, well enough), but if you are unable to assemble adequate public consensus & support, the entire initiative may fail, [...]

If this was all you'd been saying, we'd be in full agreement. I agree there's room for improvement in popular science reporting. I disagree that there is anything majorly wrong with it, though. [0] If you have any specific recommendations for improvements that could be interesting.

However, I feel you are holding popular science journalism to an unrealistic standard here - a standard that is applied to no other subject.

If journalists were forced to use the highly technical, precise and nuanced language of peer-reviewed scientific publications in their popular reporting, that just wouldn't work for the vast majority of their readers. It would leave the field wide open to dishonest sound-bite style reporting by people unconstrained by truth. Therefore, simplifications are to some degree necessary, as long as they don't deform the underlying science. People are still free to dig deeper into the literature if they are that interested, just as we've been doing here. I don't think that's too much to ask - or, put differently, if this is too much to ask, then the problem is a much deeper one: a lack of critical thinking, a lack of curiosity, a pathological preoccupation with just the most superficial aspects of a topic.

Or, putting this a bit more practically: I feel like I have done a fine job of showing why quoting the 97% number is not particularly misleading. What form could this argument take that would fit in less than a couple of paragraphs? Because there aren't very many places outside of HN where that would fly...

[0] I don't know if this applies to places where people people mostly argue in meme format. It may not, but that would be a general cultural problem and not one of scientists and / or science journalists.

mistermann
> I disagree that there is anything majorly wrong with it, though.

From each of the two distinct perspectives I mentioned?

> However, I feel you are holding popular science journalism to an unrealistic standard here - a standard that is applied to no other subject.

Telling the truth? Although you have a fair point, hardly anyone bothers themself with the truth nowadays.

Personally, if I was a scientist, I'd get a bit upset with the media misrepresenting things I say, especially if I believed there was chance that it could cause harm. But then, I seem to be about the only person concerned about throwing fat pitches to anti-AGW propagandists, so maybe I'm wrong.

> Or, putting this a bit more practically: I feel like I have done a fine job of showing why quoting the 97% number is not particularly misleading.

You also did a fine job at completely overlooking the two perspectives part I pointed out, that explained fairly precisely what my concern was.

Just as an experiment, I am going to copy paste that part in here to see if you will ignore it again. While this is disrespectful, I've performed this experiment many times on reddit and people will continue to pretend they don't see a point being made. Sometimes I even add over the top bolding and all sorts of other nonsense to make the spectacle as absurd as possible, to see to what lengths people will go.

But I digress.....here is the point I am curious whether you are able to address:

(HOWEVER: I already said in my prior comment for you to feel free to not respond, so I will not consider a lack of response to this comment as any kind of an internet victory. That said, I really would like to hear your response, because I'm not joking, I really do consider this perspective important, and if you truly find it (the propagandic exploitation angle) utterly unconcerning, I would very much like to know that.)

My prior point, on multiple perspectives:

-----------------------------

So what's going on here?

Well, there are (at least) two differences here that I can see:

- we are using two different verbs: stating, and framing

- we are evaluating the truthiness of the different ways of stating it from (at least) two different/composite perspectives: I am looking at it from the perspectives of pedantic accuracy (how closely the description of the study matches the actual study) and with respect to vulnerability to propagandic exploitation (full disclosure: I imagine there's some motivated reasoning going on), whereas you are looking at it more from the perspective of ~"what is the most concise way these results can be stated in order to communicate the scientific facts"

So if we look at it this way, it seems to me we're both right. I don't disagree with your framing, as it relates to the science only, and I suspect (based on your prior comments) that you don't disagree with my framing, but only as it relates to pedantic accuracy of describing what the study actually did, with the intention of minimizing the attack surface to propagandists. (Do I suspect correctly?)

WA
> there are many articles and papers questioning and criticizing papers from the doomsday side

Name a few please.

> Why do you even believe the "CO2 traps heat" thing?

Same reason why we believe radiation is bad for people. Nobody of us has done any actual experiments on splitting atoms. But some people do. They published the results. They can be verified and reproduced. It's called science.

adventskalender
"Name a few please."

I already mentioned the Cook paper that gave us the "97% consensus" number.

(Edit: for completeness sake, here is an article debunking the number. I haven't read it and don't know if it has any merit, it is just the first Google result. https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/02/debunking_the_9... - the point stands, though, that you can find articles refuting pretty much anything you want, these days).

Other than that, I didn't keep track, and I only encounter such discussions randomly every now and then.

I would wager a guess, that you could find a counter reaction for most important climate science papers. Just google for them.

"But some people do. They published the results. They can be verified and reproduced. It's called science. "

In principle, yes, but your idea of science is highly idealized. In reality, most things are not as established and as verified as you believe them to be. Politics, egos, all sorts of things play a part. If you look back in history, there are many cases where people believed wrong things until their main representatives died, for example.

Also one problem with climate science is presumably that you can not simply do experiments to verify its claims. That might a huge part of the problem.

Again it mostly boils down to trust - trusting the scientists who do the verifying, trusting the institutions who employ and endorse the scientists.

What you and climate doomsayers don't seem to understand is that a lot of people don't trust the institutions anymore. And rightfully so.

I suspect a lot of the rage is actually about this: people who can't stand the thought that the institutions they trust can't be trusted, so fighting any challenges to their world view with tooth and nails.

And people who feel betrayed by the institutions they used to trust.

That doesn't mean all science is false. But it makes it harder to find the truth.

WA
Yes, part of it boils down to trust. Another part of it boils down to common sense. You could argue that common sense is: "Human behavior too insignificant to have any impact". Or you could argue that common sense is: "If you take too many shits in your environment, they'll come and bite you back sooner or later." I actually think the latter is more reasonable. It's quite tangible.

Do you even realize how exchangeable your last 4 paragraphs are? See:

What you and climate change deniers don't seem to understand is that a lot of people don't trust the institutions anymore. And rightfully so.

I suspect a lot of the rage is actually about this: people who can't stand the thought that the institutions they trust can't be trusted, so fighting any challenges to their world view [that they are actually responsible for pollution] with tooth and nails.

And people who feel betrayed by the institutions they used to trust [so they pick obscure papers, obscure individuals and claim that they are right and climate change is not a real thing, or at least not caused by humans].

> But it makes it harder to find the truth.

For sure, but as an individual, you don't need to find the absolute truth. There is a very simple idea in protecting the environment: If you try to be resourceful and protect your environment, it probably has more benefits than exploiting the environment and polluting it. It simply doesn't matter whether climate science is right or not. Reducing pollution is always something worth fighting for, no matter if it has any effects on the global climate.

adventskalender
I'm actually on your side with the "actions have consequences" logic. That still doesn't imply the consequences are "extinction of the human race".

I'm also all for handling in ecologically responsible and sustainable ways.

However, what is being proposed is adoption of unproven technology on a massive scale, at an enormous price. That is where the logic falls apart. Many times before, it has turned out that such forced technology changes were actually damaging to the environment.

If the new technology was actually better, in most cases it would be adopted without government pressure.

The extremism is the problem.

WA
Who claims "extinction of the human race"? I don’t think this is what is claimed by serious scientists.

> However, what is being proposed is adoption of unproven technology on a massive scale, at an enormous price.

Which one are you talking about? The simulator website that this HN thread links to actually names taxes/subsidies and renewable energies that are already around as the most effective levers to keep temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.

> If the new technology was actually better, in most cases it would be adopted without government pressure.

Doesn’t explain why existing technology is still subsidized and renewable energy is not. Doesn’t explain why meat production and livestock factories are subsidized, or at least not taxed more. Eating less meat is one lever. Achievable by taxes. No side effects, no unproven technologies.

For example, in Germany, meat is taxed at 7%. Why? Why not 19%? This has nothing to do with being extreme. It’s a reasonable thing to implement.

So, please name the extreme things that you are afraid of.

moosey
Pointing out that 95% (or more) climate scientists say that climate change is happening is not appeal to authority, but appeal to expertise. The former is a logical fallacy. The latter is not.
adventskalender
What do you mean? Authority is a synonym on expertise, in that context. You claim certain people or institutions have the expertise on the subject to make the right call, so you appeal to their authority on the subject.
mistermann
> Pointing out that 95% (or more) climate scientists say that climate change is happening is not appeal to authority, but appeal to expertise.

If the statistic was actually true it would.

Not sure if there's a formal logical fallacy to refer to this situation, but I think it would be useful to have one.

mistermann
> The "X% of scientists agree" point is of course not a scientific argument

But it's presented as such. Is this, and similar examples, a "big deal"?

Another way of asking that is: is trust a big deal? And the answer is: we do not know - but guessing at such things doesn't seem like a terribly prudent strategy when the stakes are this high.

> and I understand how it could be taken the wrong way

Can, and is, regularly....and as a representation of the degree of ignorance of those who "don't buy into" (or so it is perceived) climate change. "97% percent of scientists agree, but these denier idiots think they're smarter than 97% of scientists!!! lolololllll".

The problem is, that 97% meme isn't factual. I'm not sure how many "deniers" actually know it isn't, but I know it isn't, and the complete lack of concern for actual facts (as opposed to factoids) by the pro camp in this debate kind of disgusts me, and leaves me with an illogical urge for non-cooperative-behavior. I wonder if I'm the only one that feels this way. I also wonder if I'm the only one that thinks about the significance of how people's feelings affects their behavior, because it sure seems that way.

> I think a lack of patience with the dishonest discussion tactics used by poorly informed people arguing against the scientific state of the art is totally understandable.

I wonder though, how often "dishonest discussion tactics used by poorly informed people..." is actually a less-than-entirely accurate characterization of what's really going on. I've been accused of all sorts of horrible beliefs and intentions, all without a shred of supporting evidence in my actual words. People are arguing with their imagination of me, not the actual me. I point this out, and no one cares. Their interest evaporates. Never underestimate the power of the imagination within the human mind, or the unwillingness of it to allow self-inspection.

> Yet as soon as you dig, the "scientific arguments" evaporate.

Agreed, sometimes if not usually, this is indeed the case. However, this phenomenon sometimes works in the other direction as well, you being a pleasant exception obviously.

adventskalender
"is trust a big deal? And the answer is: we do not know"

Trust is a very big deal. The biggest deal. As long as you are not a specialist on climate science yourself, all you can do is trust. That is true for all scientific endeavors. We pick people we trust and more or less believe in their stance on things.

mistermann
> Trust is a very big deal. The biggest deal.

100% agree. And yet, observe the lack of concern in the "pro" camp (some of it on display here) where there is clear evidence for reasonable lack of trust.

I'm not asking that you adopt my beliefs, but if you stop and think about this discrete (lack of concern over at least partially justified distrust) point, does it not seem to be potentially a big deal as well (in that it might actually be driving human behavior)?

> As long as you are not a specialist on climate science yourself, all you can do is trust.

I disagree. Just two of many alternative actions:

- do your own research, to try to get a feel for how trustworthy the message is (for example, are there any clear mistruths being peddled)

- do not assume the message is necessarily correct, and repeat it as if it is absolute fact. History has taught us this lesson.

> We pick people we trust and more or less believe in their stance on things.

Some people do, others do not.

Considering a political consensus needs to be reached, it seems to me that it might be worthwhile expending some additional mental horsepower on the lower level details of why we seem to be incapable of achieving this, rather than just guessing at why people won't get on board. It's rather disappointing that this notion seems to be considered dumb in a normally rational community such as HN, and that it does seem to be considered dumb among the intelligent is to me an extremely interesting and counter-intuitive phenomenon in itself, that also may warrant some investigation.

Zero evidence?

The the surface of the earth has temperature X. We can measure measure X with some degree of precision.

Any theory of physics that makes a prediction about the earth's temperature can be checked against the measured value of X.

All widely accepted theories that predict a temperature near X rely on the role of greenhouse gases and CO2 in particular to yield that temperature. And they all agree, more or less, that every doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration will result in an equal additive increase in our equilibrium temperature (so equilibrium temp grows as the log of the CO2 content).

Granted, to make _very precise_ predictions, you need to add forcing factors and feedback mechanisms that are hard to measure and hard to model and that's where computer simulations run into trouble. But the theory is sound and widely accepted.

I got most of the above a few years ago from some version of this class: https://www.coursera.org/learn/global-warming

Also the instructor's book, and the IPCC report from a few years ago.

socialist_coder
Think about what you're arguing about. Do you really think any evidence you can cite here will change this person's mind?
mac01021
Not really. But others who are "on the fence" need to see that assertions like the GP are not uncontestable.
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