Man-made climate change supporters exhibit poor thinking skills. Coincidence?

Emphatic supporters of the climate change establishment all seem to share the same grab-bag of rhetorical tactics, logical fallacies, memes and slogans that they depend upon to insulate themselves from any information that threatens their beliefs. The pattern when debating them tends to follow the same sequence: They begin by making definitive assertions with a zealous certainty for the unquestionable truth of their position. Then, after even the mildest probing, out come the straw men, appeals to authority, ad hominem attacks, logical inconsistencies and various other tactics of deflection and obfuscation.

I was reminded  of this again while having a fairly heated online debate about climate change that had been inspired by comments from a lightweight Australian TV personality named Waleed Aly.

There was the usual default, unexamined presumption that all the credible experts unequivocally support man-made climate change theory.
As I always do upon encountering this widely believed misconception, I provided a long list of recognized experts at the top of their fields and quoted their criticism of the AGW theory and the establishment that is committed to it.

Predictably, my opponent was oblivious to the existence of so many esteemed critics of the orthodoxy. But rather than this new information provoking curiosity or stimulating a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the issue, he instead headed straight for Google to search for something to torque into a justification for dismissing the criticisms out of hand.

Out of the ten or more experts I quoted, he found (no doubt to his great relief) that one scientist, Robert Carter, had been paid the whopping fee of $1,667 a month a few years ago by that  Great Satan of climate change heresy – The Heartland Institute.

And because the priority for climate change absolutists is not the truth but protecting their beliefs from threatening information, this was enough for my debating opponent to categorically conclude:

“Yes, he’s a seasoned scientist, but because of the source of his wage, unfortunately, we cannot trust his opinion in this case.”

What utter bollocks.

I pointed out that this argument was an example of ‘genetic fallacy’ – when an idea is either accepted or rejected because of its source, rather than its merit.

Didn’t matter.

I pointed out that not only had Carter been a critic of AGW theory prior to being offered the piddling stipend from Heartland, his position is in accord with other scientists who are NOT receiving a stipend from Heartland (like everyone else on my list whom he simply chose to bypass) and highlights observable, real world discrepancies between what the AGW theory crowd said would happen and what has actually occurred.

Didn’t matter.

I questioned the plausibility that this highly respected Ph.D., palaeontologist, stratigrapher, marine geologist and environmental scientist whose career spans more than three decades, who has served as Chair of the Earth Sciences Discipline Panel of the Australian Research Council, Chair of the national Marine Science and Technologies Committee and has a personal publication list of more than 100 papers in international science journals could be seduced into jeopardizing his credibility by providing false scientific claims for a $1,667 paycheque.

Didn’t matter. I was told:

“He was paid for being a critic, apparently, so yes, his word means absolutely nothing to me. He was paid after or before, no difference.”

Curious about the consistency of these ideals concerning the corrupting influence of money in climate science,  I cited the example of a recent paper in the journal Nature Climate Change that lauded the EPA and the Obama Democrats for a policy of strong carbon emission restrictions that was co-authored by researchers receiving huge grants from the EPA itself – amounting to a princely sum just shy of $50 million in total.

I suggested to my opponent: “If you find the privately donated $1667 a month allegedly paid to Carter to be”extremely worrying”… you should be apoplectic about $50 million worth of tax revenues being handed over to these guys.”

The response tells you everything you need to know about the circular reasoning and unapologetic indifference to intellectual integrity that seems to be typical of the climate change faithful:

“Funding by governments for “climate research” is expected and I fail to see your point here. Are you suggesting that the governments shouldn’t fund climate research?”

Insert head explosion here.

But it gets positively surreal with his next comment. He tells us that in his estimation it is those of us who have continued to exercise intellectual autonomy and make the effort to think critically – in spite of the overwhelming cultural  incentive to submit to torrents of climate change propaganda and groupthink – who are most likely the gullible pawns of powerful external interests.

“Just to be clear”, he writes, “I’m not being personal here, I’m just coming to the conclusion that you may have been mis-informed by a highly organised, lucrative group of organisations, with great interest in slowing the pace of policy against the use of fossil fuels.                                                                                                      
Needless to say, I suggested there was something delusional and self-serving about assuming that highly organized, “lucrative groups” and organizations could have an incentive to misinform people such as naive ol’ me, while simultaneously taking for granted that the billions of dollars at stake for the climate change establishment, government tax revenues and ‘green’ energy interests have no motivating influence whatsoever for the people shaping his perspective.

Guess what? Didn’t matter.

I ended up pulling the plug on the conversation after he concluded a subsequent round of circular reason and self-aggrandizement with this charming sentiment:

“But you seem so stupid, that I feel I need to explain certain things to you, simple things. You know?”

Yer. Where would we be without these towering intellects to enlighten us?

I wish I could say that out of the hundreds of similar debates with devotees of the Church of Climate Change that the quality of reasoning displayed by this guy was uncommon. But it isn’t! It’s pretty much the standard.

Having adequate thinking skills is NOT optional for constructing a valid opinion. It’s time we reintroduced this axiom into our culture and made it unequivocally explicit.

And in my view, this is really where the debate has to begin. Not with the premise of man made global climate change itself. But with drawing attention to how consistently lousy the reasoning skills are of those who most ardently support it.


Published by

Michael Harris

Michael Harris is an oil painter, photographer, song writer and blogger from Toronto Canada. Michael's work is influenced by his interest in psychology, media, consciousness studies, politics and philosophy.

5 thoughts on “Man-made climate change supporters exhibit poor thinking skills. Coincidence?”

  1. Sam Tonin -> Michael H
    3 Months ago

    After some more research on this topic, I return with a response.

    Judith Curry

    Thinks that energy innovation, build resilience & less pollution should be pursued, whether or not “man made climate change” is a real threat.

    Robert M. Carter

    In 2012, documents acquired from The Heartland Institute revealed that Carter was paid a monthly fee of $1,667 (USD) “as part of a program to pay ‘high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist [anthropogenic global warming] message.

    Wallace Broecker

    Widely credited with coining the term “global warming”

    Wrote “Fixing Climate”

    Warned about possible consequences of global climate change.

    Jarl Ahlbeck

    Said that more CO2 is good for crops, no warming since 1995.

    I will comment on the others you quote when I get some time.

    So 1 scientist out of this list agrees with the “global warming hoax”, possibly Judith as well, which makes it 2. But the fact that Robert was paid is extremely worrying, I wonder how many scientists have been paid but not caught out.

    Just to be clear, I’m not being personal here, I’m just coming to the conclusion that you may have been mis-informed by a highly organised, lucrative group of organisations, with great interest in slowing the pace of policy against the use of fossil fuels.

    This “climate change” debate has been likened to the cigarette debate some time ago, where doctors said it’s safe to smoke.

    In both cases, common sense says that both are a serious cause for concern (in my view).

    If I was to park my car in the garage with the door closed and the engine on, after some time, I would die. How you expect anything different from the earth is beyond me. But I’m willing to hear your side of the story.


  2. Sam Tonin -> Michael H
    3 months ago

    A stipend and a wage the same thing. He was paid for being a critic, apparently, so yes, his word means absolutely nothing to me. He was paid after or before, no difference.
    Ok fine, like I said before, it’s entirely possible that we can’t trust the government funded institutions, but that also means we can’t trust the institutes and individuals funded by oil and coal companies.
    My personal side of this debate is not biased, I’ve researched what you’re talking about, but my view is rather simple, and I think that this debate and situation has become over complicated.
    I don’t trust the governments view on climate change and I don’t trust the critics of that also now.
    What I trust is my common sense.
    It doesn’t take a genius to realise that burning anything causes pollution. And the planet will certainly try to compensate naturally. But we have had no regard for the affect of our burning, on the planets’ ability to sustain human life in the future.
    For future reference, I don’t watch tv. I don’t care much for the mainstream media, I am not talking about my feelings, and I would very much like to be wrong about what I’m saying. I would like to drive my car, with the knowledge that I’m not contributing to global warming.
    But that would be naive of me, to assume that governments are lying and that their opposition is truthful. Or even the other way around.
    The truth is, frankly, we’ve been made into a slave for money, power and greed. And as a side effect of this, we’re destroying our environment.
    Once we stop bickering about this environment issue, we’re left with one question.
    Who in their right mind would willingly destroy instead of create?
    Corporations, for one.
    Corporations are legally bound to be completely self-interested. With no single person responsible.
    You just need to look at the history of the USA to see that the forefathers broke away from corporate England. But slowly, corporations have clawed their way back, to a point where it is now illegal to plant a seed in your own backyard.
    Corporations have created this debate, through covert means, to make us argue and debate about whether or not the environment is suffering and if we can, or should, do anything about it.
    We should remember a very important fact. That we are human. We have evolved naturally to be able to walk through the forests of this world, hunt, catch, grow food and laugh at the coincidences of our natural environment.
    But without our natural environment, we will not survive. No matter how optimistic we are, we will die from lack of oxygen, co2 or carbon monoxide poisoning, excess acid rain exposure, drinking polluted water or eating radioactive fish among many more deadly effects of over-pollution.
    It is time to take a stand, against those who are overly optimistic, placid, greedy or lazy, individuals, groups and corporations alike, and say, no, you will not destroy my world, my children’s world and the only life we can see in our entire universe so far.


  3. Sam Tonin -> Michael H
    3 months ago
    Oh Michael, how I wish you were right.
    Like I said before to you, I would love to be wrong.
    I seriously would very much like to be wrong about this issue, but everywhere I look, every SINGLE time, you point out this or that, I check it out, and you’re wrong.
    Seriously, every time.
    I’m not even very experienced in this whole debating thing, yet, I manage to kick your ass every time.
    You even have a whole website about this debate.
    Yet, here I am, with just my phone, without any experience, just googling the topics you point out, WISHING YOU WERE RIGHT, and then bam, paid by oil.
    It doesn’t matter that it’s only $5k here or there, that’s only what we see on the web. The reality would be much worse.
    Seriously, please, just give me something solid. Something, ANYTHING, to doubt my “ill conceived, morally high, preconceived blah blah” argument.
    Please, be right.


  4. This is total bullshit. You didn’t listen to me at all did you?

    “Sam Tonin -> Michael H
    3 months ago
    Yes, I would like to be wrong. Like I said before, I would love to drive in my car, without worry.
    Try not to keep putting me into a category, I’m a single person, not a group.
    The rest of your comment above is just egotistical, narcissistic nonsense.
    You’ve shown me things, you get my hopes up, then I research it, then it flops.
    Can you please give me one single piece of evidence which supports your view?
    And, I don’t want you to repeat everything you’ve said like a 5 year old would.
    Just try to be a little mature and give me a single thing. Just one.
    And don’t be all like, oh I already told you, because, and you can see, I’ve disseminated your side of the argument time and time again.
    Oh and yes, I did just say that, but it’s not a proclamation, it’s a direct comment to you. I’m not here to publicly talk to you, I’m simply talking to you. But you seem so stupid, that I feel I need to explain certain things to you, simple things.
    You know?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s