Science communication

I came across this video today and thought I would post it here. It’s Carl Sagan talking to Charlie Rose about science, the public and policy makers. Carl Sagan was, arguably, one of the best science communicators of the last 50 years. What I like about the video is that he is very bluntly talking about ignorance, with respect to science and technology, and how this ignorance can allow society to be manipulated by charlatans. A view I’m starting to hold is that maybe it’s time that those who are trying to communicate science (climate science in particular) be a little blunter with those who are clearly wrong. Pandering to such people is, in my opinion at least, at best pointless, and possibly actually damaging. So, the video appealed to me because here was one of the greatest science communicators of the modern era being very blunt about scientific ignorance.

The reason I was slightly uncertain about the video is that it ends with a discussion of how society needs to be able to be sceptical and needs to be able to interrogate people who have influence (policy makers, scientists, etc). As much as I completely agree with this, the caveat – in my opinion – is that those who do the “interrogating” need to at least be willing to listen to and consider what they’re being told. Interrogating scientists so as to learn more and so as to challenge them to be as clear and honest about their science as possible, is exactly what should be done. Interrogating them so as to undermine what they’re trying to say, is not. The recent meeting between the GWPF and the Royal Society is a classic example of the latter.

To finish I thought I would give a hat-tip to Catmando’s recent post, scientists are human too, which discusses advocacy by scientists but also points out that Julian Huppert is, currently, the only UK MP who has worked as a scientist.

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97 Responses to Science communication

  1. Rachel says:

    Good video clip. You probably know that Australia’s government currently has no minister for science at all for the first time since 1931. I find this extraordinary for the reason Carl Sagan gives: “we’ve arranged a society based on science and technology in which no one understands anything about science and technology”. It’s a dangerous situation to have.

    I don’t think the GWPF’s recent meeting with the Royal Society is the sort of sceptical interrogation Sagan is referring to. There’s nothing sceptical about the GWPF. They seem to lack the necessary inquiry and reflection as well as self-doubt that comes with scepticism.

  2. BBD says:

    A view I’m starting to hold is that maybe it’s time that those who are trying to communicate science (climate science in particular) be a little blunter with those who are clearly wrong. Pandering to such people is, in my opinion at least, at best pointless, and possibly actually damaging.

    In a nutshell.

  3. John, I’ve been trying to avoid mentioning Tamsin. I think she’s getting a hard enough time from others and, in my view at least, should work out for herself what works best. However, I can’t deny that Tamsin didn’t cross my mind when writing this post.

  4. BBD says:

    Royal Society president Sir Paul Nurse on the recent meeting between various RS Fellows and the GWPF:

    Reflecting on his exchanges with [Lord] Lawson, [Paul] Nurse said: “Debate is essential but it must be based on scientific evidence and reasoning. In dealing with issues like climate change, society should not listen to the extremist minorities – we should listen to the majority of scientific experts.

  5. BBD says:

    From the same Carrington piece in the Graun:

    In October 2012, Lawson told the BBC his fundraising for the GWPF had started with his friends: “They tend to be richer than the average person and much more intelligent than the average person; that’s why they can see the flaws in the conventional wisdom.”

    Oh, one just warms to these people by the minute.

  6. George Orwell had some interesting thoughts on this back in 1945:

    http://orwell.ru/library/articles/science/english/e_scien

  7. Aaron, thanks, an interesting article. There are two aspects to it that I find interesting. One is his comment about how we define science (either physics/chemistry or a method for verifying results). An interesting issue in the climate science debate is how many seem to misuse (in my opinion at least) the latter definition to claim there are problems with climate science (i.e., quoting Popper all the time for example). The other aspect of the article that I found interesting was the issue of scientists having more cultural understanding and I do think that is a valid point. I’m typically in awe of musicians, artists and others in the arts and an appreciation of such disciplines is something that I think would be valuable for scientists.

  8. Rachel,

    I don’t think the GWPF’s recent meeting with the Royal Society is the sort of sceptical interrogation Sagan is referring to. There’s nothing sceptical about the GWPF. They seem to lack the necessary inquiry and reflection as well as self-doubt that comes with scepticism.

    I agree. I don’t think Sagan is referring to the type of “skepticism” that many seem to be practicing. However, as a soundbite, I suspect many will think that that is precisely what he is referring to.

  9. Joshua says:

    “A view I’m starting to hold is that maybe it’s time that those who are trying to communicate science (climate science in particular) be a little blunter with those who are clearly wrong.”

    What does that translate into? What would you recommend that scientists do differently, and what impact do you think it would have? How would that impact be measured?

    Seems to me that being “blunt” has already been tried, with questionable results. And at any rate, I see little evidence that being blunter would be more effective.

  10. Joshua, I don’t know. It’s partly just a personal view and maybe I should be clearer. It probably relates to two things. One is that I’ve pretty much had it with Twitter, for example (I know, I’ve said that before, but I really mean it this time :-) ). There’s really noone left on Twitter who is a “skeptic” and who I am really willing to engage with. It’s a waste of my time and there’s only so much unpleasantness that I can stand. The other is watching others not challenge things that are clearly wrong. So, when I say blunt, I don’t mean rude. I mean, if you’re going to engage with others, be willing to point out when they’re wrong. Don’t let them get away with saying things that are wrong without at least some form of challenge. It doesn’t have to be done in an unpleasant way, but at least try.

    I don’t know if it will be more effective and I’m not even sure that I’m considering it in terms of effectiveness. I certainly don’t think there is any chance of (or even any reason to try) changing the views of vitriolic “skeptics”. Challenging them may, however, play some role in convincing those who are observing but not participating.

    Then again, maybe I’m just completely wrong. I no longer really know what’s best, so all I can do is say what I think is best and let others make up their own minds.

  11. Joshua says:

    The Physicist Formerly Known as Wotts –

    Quitting is probably no more difficult than quitting cigarettes – which I did many, many times.

    Yes, being blunt is not the same as being rude, although they drift close to each other, often. It will be impossible to prevent them from getting away with anything – and IMO, being blunter will change nothing in that regard.

    I think that anyone who is observing and not convinced one way or the other is unlikely to be convinced by the degree to which you or anyone else here is blunt.

    I can tell you that when I observe arguments where people who seem to me to be smart and knowledgeable are trading opposing views on topics that I am not technically informed enough or smart enough to formulate confident opinions on my own, I look for evidence of consistency in logic and approach to evaluating cause-and-effect. Along those lines I look at the level of vitriol, ad homs, etc., because it indicated fallacious reasoning. I know that such an indirect route to evaluating the science is sub-optimal, as someone can be a complete ass who is is illogical in many ways but still correct about the science. But I do the best I can with the evidence I feel I can evaluate.

    From that perspective, I will just say that being blunt is often counterproductive – particularly because it is often associated with other logically fallacious reasoning. Of course, I am only one observer – but for me, being blunt tends to be associated with a failure to use correctly conditional language, appropriate caveats, etc.

    Maybe there is some room there where being blunt while also being civil and carefully conditional would be a very effective approach – but I think it’s generally something hard to pull off.

    I see folks in the “skept-o-sphere” being blunt a whole lot, and it does absolutely nothing to make me more open to “skeptical” arguments. My experience in observing the “skept-o-sphere” is that those who are most blunt are the least effective communicators for someone who isn’t already in agreement with their views, while being blunt tends to be effective only at confirming biases.

    Take a good look at Climate Etc. when Judith is the most blunt in her posts. IMO, it serves as red meat, and the “skeptics” gorge themselves in a feeding frenzy.

  12. Joshua, I agree. I think “blunt” was the wrong word to use – although, maybe the word I meant at the time of writing. What you describe is indeed, I would think, the right kind of approach. I think something I have to grapple with, though, is where to engage. You seem to do quite well at Climate etc (as does Willard). I suspect I don’t have the stomach for that. Twitter is a waste of time. I write this blog, but am slowly reducing the number of dissenting voice because it seems that good moderation is worth it. Having a minority disrupt threads seems a waste and just seems to destroy it for everyone else. Of course, anyone who can come and make a coherent and constructive argument is welcome, but there don’t seem to be many contrarians able to do so, or really willing to try.

    So, if I end up having a role, it’s going to be to simply write my posts and let people who can make sensible, coherent, and constructive arguments add to them through the comments. Maybe others will learn something. Maybe not. But that’s probably all I can face. However, I don’t intend to let people who make scientifically incorrect comments get away with doing so, but I’ll try to do that politely, rather than bluntly :-)

  13. Yes being blunt is not the right term, but it would be counter productive to only answer questions friendly. One should also make clear that this is almost always not a scientific debate. On twitter there is no room for such an additional meta-message. Blogging is better for discussions.

  14. Victor, yes, I think I agree with your entire comment :-)

  15. Joshua says:

    The Physicist Formerly Known as Wotts –

    Perhaps one thing to consider is how this blog can contribute something unique. Although in general I’m against moderation because I think it is almost always based on subjective (and biased) criteria, and because I think that if someone doesn’t like someone else’s comment they should just ignore it, there is something to be said for trying to have some constraints so that this blog can provide something different than the typical climate battling.

    So if we look at the thread downstairs, and Barry’s tedious posts about SKS and “consensus,” what to do? What can prevent this blog from devolving into some form of the endless repetitions of the same arguments over and over, between the same combatants, as we see at so many other blogs? I mean seriously, how many times does “consensus” and the identity politics of photos and name-calling have to be discussed, with no one budging one inch in their views?

    Moderation that would eliminate any comments that have no direct bearing on discussions about the science might be an option, but that would be a very difficult standard to uphold, because inevitably people want to debate about the debate, and some of your posts have been on that general subject.

    Moderation that would eliminate any comments that are not supported by scientific evidence would seem to me to be a similarly difficult standard to uphold, as there will always be differences on what comprises scientific evidence. There’s nothing more boring to me than the endless climate blogosphere back-and-forths about what standards to use for determining scientific validity.

    It’s not like I have an answer – but I will say that what happens in the blog comments is likely to reflect the tone that you set. Respectful disagreement and focusing on good faith dialog will, IMO, as you have already done, create a unique forum for discussion. So does your pronounced use of caveats and invitations for constructive feedback. Careful evaluation of what moderation to do – done in the same vein with an eye towards civility, respectfulness, and good faith – even though it will ultimately reflect some level of subjectivity and bias, should continue to result in a blog with something of a distinct character. That’s why I’m reading and commenting at your blog, anyway. My feeling is that at most other blogs where moderation is done, it is done largely, if not exclusively, as an exercise in tribalism. Which is also OK. It is what it is. Tribalistic blogs are part of the full spectrum of the issue. But then is there any value added from another such blog?

  16. Rachel says:

    Joshua,
    I welcome your thoughts about this issue (and anyone else who may have thoughts too) because moderation is not always easy. I am conscious that I don’t want to moderate someone’s comment simply because I don’t like what they’ve said. There has to be a logical reason for moderating something it in the first place. I look first to the moderation policy that Anders has written. Comments that are clearly abusive and insulting are easy – they have to go. But what about polite comments that seem to have some disguised flames. They’re hard. I also liked reddit’s policy of removing conspiracy theories.

    I’ve spent a bit of time today reading that paper about online incivility. A couple of sentences stood out for me. I’ll copy and paste below:

    Reading online incivility can incite negative feelings of hatred, negative attitudes towards a topic, and a reduction of source credibility.

    This study’s findings suggest perceptions towards science are shaped in the online blog setting not only by “top-down information”, but by others’ civil or uncivil viewpoints, as well.

  17. Joshua,

    Perhaps one thing to consider is how this blog can contribute something unique.

    Indeed, but it is just me with some help from Rachel, so I just do the best I can. What I’ve been trying to do is to write what I feel like writing at that time and to be as honest as I can be. I’m rather winging the moderation and I do worry about bias, but then I acknowledge a bias, so it’s hard to avoid a bit of it. Moderation is partly to simply make my life a bit easier, given that I engage below the line quite a lot.

    It would be nice if everyone would try to engage honestly, acknowledge their errors, avoid the whole image/email/consensus project stuff, but people don’t. I suspect that most “skeptics” have come and gone which does make me wonder if this site will simply become another tribal site. There’s always a chance that some will come back and have a serious and honest discussion and they’d be welcome to do so, but I’m not sure that many will.

    Anyway, we’ll see how things go.

  18. AnOilMan says:

    Interestingly… Scientists go to school to learn science, not communications. Communication skills are a serious deficit throughout the technical community.

    My wife is an epidemiologist and has to deal with changing people’s minds all the time. Its not easy. She even started up a series of conferences on how to engage local medical professionals on how to communicate and engage people. (The conference caught on, and is now a recurring fixture.)

    The opposition to global warming are all well versed in communications, and politics. Bjorn Lomborg is a prime example.

    Joshua: Its been my experience that I can’t get an answer of any value ever. Here’s a typical exchange;

    http://www.desmogblog.com/2013/09/16/john-abraham-slams-matt-ridley-climate-denial-op-ed-wall-street-journal

    I’m reasonably certain that the fellow in question was running a script, and I’m equally that the fellow was nontechnical. Anyone who actually uses science knows that citations are the life blood of a good argument. If the guy could understand the technical information in my posts, he’d know how to respond. (I honestly have no idea if I made technical mistakes, or even got it right.)

    I do take pains to write responses that will be clear and easy for someone else to come across and read.

  19. William says:

    I think your problem is there are enough established sites out there covering similar ground which get mentioned in the press, your chances of breaking past your core readers are very slim . I am not sure how long you have been running but in the end if the website does not come alive with the excitement of numbers I wonder how long your own enthusiasm can last. If the website is not expensive then of course it is an enjoyable hobby. Of course if the website grows you then have the problem of funding and your own time, there again guest writers will fill the gap.

    So your key goal is to get some media coverage. Actually I don’t have a clue why a website becomes popular.

  20. William says:

    One problem is the amount of new topics, you are deadly slow and that is death for a website. it feels too static.

  21. So your key goal is to get some media coverage.

    It’s not.

    One problem is the amount of new topics, you are deadly slow and that is death for a website. it feels too static.

    Are you suggesting more than one post a day?

  22. jsam says:

    One proven technique of achieving measurably more internet traffic is to ask your followers to download the Alexa toolbar. :-)

  23. jsam says:

    Naomi Oreskes makes the case for more passion, http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059991886

  24. John, I saw that and, I too, have wondered why some seem so calm, given the likely risks.

  25. BBD says:

    Eg James Hansen. Deadpan. Nerves of steel, clearly.

  26. BBD, yes indeed. James Hansen is a good counter example.

  27. William says:

    I would suggest at least one a day. I always think it is the morning coffee tea, cocoa moment, you check your favourite sites at the start of the day.

    I

  28. jsam says:

    Yes, I accept Hansen. And Mann, to a certain extent. The hectoring of one way sceptics puts rational people, including scientists, off.

  29. Rachel says:

    Another great link thanks, jsam. I have to say I’m with Naomi Oreskes the whole way. People communicating this need a little less of “keep calm and carry on” and a bit more of “panic and freak out”. Ok, so I’m not really serious about the panic and freak out but watching some of those scientists on the IPCC video that was released recently you’d be forgiven for thinking they were talking about what they’re planning to do on their next holiday rather than climate change.

  30. jsam says:

    I’ve been called many things: shill, alarmist and warmist. But the latest name used by one-way sceptics, and the worst thing one can be, apparently, is an activist. It seems to me that if there is a fire in the cinema it’s simply common decency to tell people that.

  31. AnOilMan says:

    If you want traffic run an article about how wonderful and brilliant Al Gore is.

    Perhaps I misspoke, “if you want to get trolled…”

    But at least you’d get some value from Exxon’s ‘attack Al Gore’ budget. :-)

  32. BBD says:

    I get the feeling that William doesn’t realise that writing – proper writing, not tripe in comments – is time-consuming and bloody hard work. Remember that ATTP has a day job. It is a minor miracle (s)he finds time to blog at all. Let’s be appropriately grateful for what we get. Show a bit of good grace around here. Or the squirrel will eat you!
    :-)

  33. Rachel says:

    Or the squirrel will eat you!
    If Anders hadn’t been so quick with his reply the squirrel would have eaten him.

  34. Rachel says:

    My last comment is not very clear. I meant to say that the squirrel would have eaten William’s comment.

  35. Pingback: The Climate Change Debate Thread - Page 3440

  36. chris says:

    I quite like the slow pace of this blog (i.e. perhaps one new thread a day but no problem if there’s only one every couple of days). It allows for a more thoughtful discourse, and one doesn’t have to feel like participating is part of one’s job where you have to continually keep an eye out on what’s posted to put one’s hackneyed two-cents worth into every damn thing.. Some blogs that post only 1 or two items a day can become quite well-established and influential (RetractionWatch is an example).

    And I think it adds to the value of the blog that you treat writing as something like a hobby – no point in posting an article if you don’t feel enthused about the topic. It’s not as if you’re in the business of proselytizing. You’re attempting to promote a reasoned discussion of issues (both scientific and in relation to science comunication) that you as a scientist and science communicator have some privileged insight into. At that level whatever you say will be interesting.

    As for moderation, you do need to find a way of addressing those thread-stealers as in the Barry takeover of the recent thread. I agree with you that everyone should have a chance of presenting contrary viewpoints, but at some point (quite early in the discussion hopefully) the person needs to demonstrate that he (it’s pretty much always a “he”!) is not trolling, by showing willingness to explain his argument, or provide sources for his assertions and to answer straightforward questions put to him by others.

  37. Steve Bloom says:

    Here’s an interesting article on how the Reddit science forum dealt with denialist trolls. Of special note is the comment that the problem seems to have involved very few individuals.

  38. BBD says:

    Steve Bloom

    I noticed that, and the moderators’ discovery that there was a lot of sock-puppetry going on. However, to be fair, apart from the bifurcate William/Richard, I think most of the contrarian voices here are individuals.

  39. Rachel says:

    Chris, I’ve just been going back over that Barry thread and making some changes. I agree that we need a better way of dealing with situations like those.

    BBD,
    I check for sock puppets every now and again but haven’t seen any evidence of that here so far.

  40. izen says:

    Forgive me for pointing it out, but there is a lot of ‘Tone’ concern navel-gazing in this thread. With contradictory assertions that we should employ both more passion and bluntness but with civility and dispassionate rationality….

    The Gavin Schmidt AGU video talk on communication contains some good points, with the added irony that the actual presentation of them is … awful! (An informal in-group ramble always looks inept to a wider audience without contextual insight)
    But two key points he makes are consider WHY you want to contribute to a discussion; and take account of the context or agenda of the other participants.

    It is the accumulated involvement of all the individuals that contribute their work, research, commentary and endorsement or rejection of the science in this field that shapes and positions the ‘Overton window’. That determines what the political arts make possible.

    In the past I posted on blogs/forums that discussed evolution/creationism. I found the best way to learn and clarify my own ideas about the subject was to argue with others who held other views.
    The fact that this competitive arena help evolve and increase the fitness of my own understanding was the purely selfish reason for indulging in the practise. In the context, it was sometimes relevant to point that out.
    The intellectual exercise and entertainment value of the activity should not be obscured by higher level concerns over the idealogical purity of the enterprise. Or its educational integrity. My interest in how the realities of physics, chemistry and especially biology constrain, influence, and conflict, with Human ideologies and ethics is purely a hobby. But the science/policy conflict in the climate change issue, like the conflict over Lead, Asbestos, CFCs, DDT, SOx…., means it another reality-belief-political power play.

    As in the field of Biology and Darwinism the subject has got increasingly polarised. Most blogs or responses to news about climate are almost a monoculture. Performing the service of providing affirmative support for the common-minded. To post against the grain is often an attempt to push the Overton window. Either shrinking it back towards ‘reality’ or widening it to include doubt controversy and outright denial as active factors in the political discourse.

    However those posting against the prevailing tide at any forum should expect any and all forms of attack denigration and censorship. Clans protect their territory, and especially the mutually agreed precepts. Flame wars can be fun. If there is strong moderation, evolving polite ways of conveying the egregious meretriciousness of another poster can be educationally rewarding. (grin)
    Getting too Poe-faced about the ‘tone’ of the exchanges might be missing the point. There are many places where no other active participant is going to have an epiphany conversion on reading your post. However educational elegantly structured it may be there is little chance that a lurker will be prompted to reconsider their tribal affiliations.

    The best reason to post with whatever rage or restraint you employ at a contrarian (to your POV) arena is to develop, hone and clarify your own grasp of the subject. Breaking the purity of local group beliefs may be a side-effect. But that is just a small component in the global system of climate discourse, the individual need not worry their efforts are significant in moving the window, it takes the total system response to alter what is or is not politically possible. Now, any suggestion of removing evolution or inserting creationism in biology teaching is regarded as extreme and ‘crank’.
    At least for the moment civic power is not going to enshrine legal regulations that conflict with the education of known evolutionary biology. Or encourage and protect the manufacture and economic exploitation of CFCs.
    Societies can embrace ideological and economic revolutions. Slavery eventually went from government taxed and regulated to absolutely prohibited. Not without opposition and conflict however….

    That stage has yet to be reached in the climate field, social governance is not yet capable of creating or enforcing laws and taxes that impact significantly on the reality CO2 emissions causing climate change.

    So indulge in arguing with those that are wrong on the internet for its educational benefits. Indulge the opponent who visits a hostile arena, within your locally set limits if they play by the rules. Arguing with them can help your own understanding. And they may come back having evolved a better reply!

    Posting where the predominant understanding of the issue matches your own can be to ask for clarification on an issue which you do not grasp, or provide help if there is a point someone else raises you have already encountered.
    And then there is the chance to ramble on about why, where and how we should post, tweet and blog, to a like-minded (?) cohort, for which I again ask your forgiveness!

  41. izen, you’ve said quite a lot and it’s getting late, so I’m finding it hard to concentrate. I certainly find myself changing my views about what’s best on a daily basis. There’s also, I think, the difference between what you might do as an individual and what might be best here (for example). There’s also the general view about what might be most effective when it comes to actually communicating science. When I was using the term “blunt” – which may not have been the right term as I didn’t mean rude or impolite – I was thinking more in terms of how climate scientists themselves might behave in their capacity as science communicators, rather than how individuals might behave when they engage online (for example). So, yes, I agree with much of what you say, but it seems to apply more to how we as individuals might engage in the blogosphere, rather than how science communicators may engage more broadly.

    Having said that, I do find myself getting somewhat confused about what may or may not be best and I did write this post when in a somewhat frustrated mood. I may have written something completely different had I written it at a different time :-)

  42. chris says:

    Izen I agree with you absolutely about the educational value of commenting on blogs and engaging with contrary views as a means of educating oneself about the subject. Much of what I know about climate change science has come from engaging in these discussions and especially addressing (often robustly but always by trying hard to directly engage with the points raised) contrary viewpoints. Since I’m a scientist I’ve made a very strong effort to address what the published science actually says.

    I don’t have too much of a concern about “Tone” so long as individuals that debate do so honestly and “listen” and address what others say. To my mind that’s the fundamental problem with many “contrarian” views on climate science one encounters on blogs. One would very much like to learn something from reasoned argument and evidence from commenters on the contrarian side….but it almost never happens. A person called “tallbloke”, for example, made a couple of one-sentence insult posts here a day or two ago. Now this person, who I gather is quite a “well-known” “contrarian” must have some more substantial views that underlie the notions he conveyed, but he chose not to elaborate on these. That’s unfortunate to me…it would be great if some of these people tried to develop their points of view/arguments in a manner that those of us that are interested in the science and how this is communicated can follow…after all, as you say, the best way to get a rounded view of a subject is to engage with all of the evidence and viewpoints.

    As for ATTP’s use of the word “blunt”, I think that has engendered a little semantic confusion here. I take the word “blunt” to mean “robust” or “direct”, in the sense that it’s entirely appropriate to counter ill thought out or incorrect assertions with non-nonsense, evidence based, logical responses and if these are presented with a degree of terseness or whatever (or even a tad of irony or sarcasm, since some of us are British and like that sort of thing!), I don’t have a problem with that – I’m happy for posters to respond robustly to any point I make so long as they do so honestly and address what I actually say…

  43. andrew adams says:

    FWIW, I think it’s people who have different viewpoint want to come here that’s fine, and it doesn’t worry me if the discussion is a bit more “robust” as a result, but they shouldn’t get to bring their particular pet hobby horses (pictures stolen from SkS for example) with them or hijack the thread with dead end arguments (like whether “acidification” is the right word for reduced ocean pH). If that’s happening then I would give them one warning and then just delete any further comments on that particular subject.
    And if they don’t, then that’s fine as well – it doesn’t make this blog an echo chamber. Climate change, and it’s likely impacts and possible solutions, is a complex subject and there’s still plenty to discuss and disagree on amongst those of us who agree on the fundamental scientific arguments.

  44. John Mashey says:

    Just catching up after a terrific all-week AGU.
    1) Scientists need to do science or it doesn’t get done.
    a) All need to get enough media-training to not stick their foot in mouth and to know how to respond to bad-faith attacks.
    b) Some need to do outreach, and many do.
    c) A very few with the right talent and experience will spend a lot of time on outreach, policy, writing for general audiences, testifying to Congress (Kubuki theatre though that be).
    d) and it’s up to some of the rest of us to get people off their backs so they can keep doing science and good outreach as needed.

    The classic c) case would be Steve Schneider, who I’m told by a reliable soruce came out of the womb talking to whoever would listen. :-) Science as a Contact Sport is terrific. As do his other friends, I really miss him. On the other hand, I don’t think outspokenness comes naturally to Jim Hansen in the same way. A few of us had dinner with him before an event at our town center, and I speculate that much of his recent outspokenness is correlated with the birth of his grandchildren .. .but fiery speeches would just not be natural. Ben Santer is another fine scientist who got into this because he was selected as target for the IPCC SAR, just as Mike Mann was selected as target for the TAR. I think Jon Overpeck was supposed to be target for AR4, but that didn’t come off.

    Naomi Oreskes was one of the dumbest choices of targets, since she not only has a strong geosciences background (undergrad Imperial College, a few years’ work in mining in Australia, PhD Stanford joint geosciences/science history). It is much safer to hassle climate scientists than social scientists, because the former want to do climate science, whereas the latter may decide to study the hasslers. Naomi got attacked for the 2004 Science consensus paper, got nasty email and odd phone messages, and then wrote a review of Chris Mooney’s book, that got Science threatened with a lawsuit (not carried through) … and these led to her research that yielded Merchants of Doubt.

    2) Bluntness:
    a) If I were blogging, I’d want software that gave me:
    Accept as Is, Accept with edit, Delete, and Hide, with code for reason,
    and I’d explain up front that simple repetition of the memes cataloged at SkS would always get hidden, with reason codes that gave the meme #s. I’ve done the equivalent for talk radio call-in shows, and it saves a lot of time.
    b) Of course, there are some other reasons for hiding comments, but I don;t think there are more than ~10 common ones, and it would be really nice if those were cataloged systematically. it is all too easy for bad-faith posters to create exhaustion in reasonable moderators, who really need a simple way to move/hide comments without totally deleting them.

  45. izen says:

    @- I was thinking more in terms of how climate scientists themselves might behave in their capacity as science communicators, rather than how individuals might behave when they engage online (for example).

    Point taken.
    I was endorsing the content (if not the style!) of Gavin Schmidt’s video that was alluded to in the article linked up thread.
    And then I rambled off…

    Here is a disabled? link to the video,
    {[http://youtu.be/axRU9Ljozvs]} –
    With the title –
    Published on Jun 28, 2013
    AGU Chapman Conference on Communicating Climate Science: A Historic Look to the Future
    08 June 2013 — 13 June 2013, Granby, CO, USA
    Presenter: Gavin Schmidt
    Monday, June 10, 2013, 8:00 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.
    Session: Better Climate Communication

  46. AnOilMan says:

    Its illegal for government scientists to communicate in Canada. It requires written permission from the Prime Minister’s Office. And you can bet they won’t be too quick about it.

    The Canadian government also has minders assigned to scientists to monitor them when they are out and about in public. All science, especially climate science is centrally controlled.

  47. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    &Dan

    “I’ve been trying to avoid mentioning Tamsin.”

    Well, actually, I would like to thank Tamsin for bringing the issue of advocacy back into the
    discourse! (Not sure if she intended that, but if so, well played!) Lots of interesting talks and ideas
    around on how to engage in communicating science and how to separate scientific work from
    possible policy consequences.

    Her blog is still a mess though.

  48. Tamsin’s well-intentioned attempt to communicate science has successfully attracted the attention of many contrarians. The only reason anyone might think her blog is a bigger mess than, say, mine is that I haven’t succeeded in attracting that much attention. She also doesn’t have a minion like Rachel to clean up all the bullstuff the contrarians fling at her blog’s walls. As Anders and Rachel can doubtless attest, this is a thankless, neverending, stressful chore.

    I want to help Tamsin, but I’m not sure how given that I’ve already reached my lifetime limit of civilization-paralyzing misinformation.

  49. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Let me go one step further than Izen.

    The “skeptics” should be attacked on their home turf. Not as it is being done right now, some individuals commenting on WUWT or similar blogs pointing out errors but being overwhelmed by the majority there. Everyone with a grasp of the science should actually be commenting on WUWT (and similar blogs) to overwhelm the regular commenters there.

    For instance take this disingenious piece of presenting science findings but taking attention away from it by making some accusations before… http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/16/apparently-4-degrees-spells-climate-doom/

    If only there were 20 people pointing out the nonsense ( actually I think 5 are enough) and telling how it really is…

    Another example: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/27/video-comments-on-human-induced-global-warming-episode-1-the-hiroshima-bomb-metric/

    Bob is clearly wrong. Nobody notices (except Sisi). If only there were at least 3 people more pointing out the same error.

    What I want to say is the following. The regular misinformers at WUWT and similar blogs are small in numbers. I actually want an all-out attack of the non-scientific minded. It can be done. It’s actually quite simple. It only needs an organiser to do it. P.s. Learn from how protest was organised without internet, just in case some government decides to shut it down

  50. Reich.Eschhaus, they have us outnumbered by roughly a factor of a thousand to one. Dismissives in America are ~10% so ~30 million people. Very rough (*) comparison: the AGU attendance is still less than ~30 thousand.

    Also, even individually, each contrarian is more effective at superficial “science communication” than the average scientist. That’s because the Gish Gallop is a powerful technique. Scientists are tied up by the need to make statements consistent with the evidence, but Murray Salby can ignore decreasing atmospheric oxygen, increasing CO2 dissolved in the ocean, and implicitly posit the existence of a wormhole whisking away all our CO2 emissions. He gets worldwide publicity.

    Once you get a contrarian started, a stream of regurgitated-but-superficially-plausible nonsense spews forth. Just consider Jane Q. Public. One person. A lifetime of debunking. Seriously… just flick through that Jane index, which taught me that html automatically goes from a-z to aa-az, etc. Then realize that I’m less than halfway through debunking his nonsense. We’re talking serious Sky Dragon Slayer vintage here too, not that cheap lukewarmer swill.

    One person. And there are roughly a thousand Jane Q. Publics for each Dumb Scientist. I admire your bravery, Reich, but I’m not yet ready to send others into the WUWT quagmire. Not until I see some clear goals, metrics of success, and some reason to think we might have a snowball’s chance in hell.

    (*) Not all AGU attendees study climate, but not all climate scientists attend AGU. Not all are American, but not all American climate scientists attend. Yadda yadda.

  51. AnOilMan says:

    I think the dumb guy is right. WUWT is an all out effort to misinform the public by spreading FUD. Their numbers are legion despite how much the stupid burns them. :-)

  52. John Mashey says:

    Dismissives may be 7-10%, but a relatively tiny fraction actually comment at WUWT, etc.
    WUWT especially is prone to having moderator attacks (dbstealey) and banning, and some dismissives actively seem to want to keep a few outsiders around to taunt. Not recommended.

    Murry Salby giot worldwide publicity … but mostly in the the most intense dismissive blogs, ending with sponsored by the slayers, and who were displeased that Monckton came and snatched him away – for a delicious tale, read slayer description of Salby in Edinburgh. Real scienitists took one look at Salby’s stuff, knew it was wrong, and except for refutations by Colin Prentice and Eric Wolff, and a short comemnt by John Nielsen-Gammon, nobody cared. RC didn’t even do an actual post. Salby’s first foray with this in July 2011 pretty much guaranteed being persona non grata with any program committees that knew about it, i.e., he got an oral presentation on Antarctic ozone accepted for a stratospheric session, then delivered a talk on his CO2 ideas, simply irrelevant to the session. This is not something I’ve seen happen very often … like never.
    The only mainstream media to cover it was The Australian, which got clobbered when the problems emerged. They tired again with appeal to French scientist, who withdrew when she learned of the NSF debarment.

    Anyway, Salby was big news inside the dismissal echo chambers and Slayer-land, but hardly anyone else really cared.

  53. AnOilMan says:

    You know, as much as SKS does a good job of communicating, I find it rather inscrutable to locate useful information on it. (I know its there, so I google for it.) When you compare that the rather interesting (bogus) science reports on the internet from the denial sphere, I have to say that its easy to find their tripe and digest it.

    This is not a good state.

    I’d love to see a web site that goes through everything and is easy to locate information on. Point and click. How do we know its fossil fuel carbon? (Carbon dating is an interesting read, they were the first to discover changes in atmospheric carbon. They also had to compensate for neutron bomb explosions ruining their data.) Quite literally our atmosphere is getting older.

    The list goes on but its seems there is no easy way to present this stuff to the public.

  54. Rachel says:

    Reich/DumbSci,
    I’d go in there and comment if there were lots of others also planning to comment. Just let me know.

    On the topic of moderation, I appreciate all the input. One thing I want to ask is that if a comment is made that clearly needs moderation, it would be good if people didn’t respond to it because then it becomes hard to moderate without making the thread confusing to read. I’m not always in front of my computer – sometimes I get to free-range – so I might not get to moderate it right away.

  55. verytallguy says:

    Rachel,

    on moderation – thanks for all the time you spend. Only thing I would say is that going back and re-moderating after the event as with Barry W on the other thread is probably not worthwhile and even confusing. Make a call and don’t worry afterwards if it was wrong on reflection.

    Awesome full moon on the bike in this morning :-)

    Reich and others – I think your thoughts on threadbombing the skeptics as a persuasion tactic will only be counterproductive. It will merely strengthen the groupthink. Let them stew in their own ignorance, the less they are challenged the more extreme they become, and the more obviously outlandish to outsiders they are.

  56. Rachel says:

    Thanks, VTG. That’s probably a good idea. I tend to change my mind a lot :-)

  57. guthrie says:

    Threadbombing denialists on their home turf might be fun for some but is pointless. Better to let them turn into an echo chamber populated by nonentities. The key area is places where unaligned humans see and comment; e.g. newspaper comment threads, (although I think they are dying down a bit, or rather, have turned into cesspits) or other such public forums, e.g. your local newspaper. THe aim in such circumstances is to provide information and links so that unaligned people can see that denialists are lying and talking rubbish.

    THe point is that even if you don’t pay much attention to it, propaganda has an effect over the long term. So unaligned folk might see some lying articles in the Mail or such, and also comments by denialists, and if that is all they see, then it seeps into their head that the denialists have a point. So that next time the topic comes up, the first thing they say is some lies from denialists. People are awfully trusting that what they read is accurate; most don’t know much science, and checking things for consistency is time consuming.

    Basically we need to own the public sphere, forget about the denialists blogs except for surveillance for the latest memes that they’ll be pushing elsewhere, and obviously also political action.
    Take for instance the anti-vaccine folk. The lower rate of uptake clearly indicates a problem and also many hundreds of thousands of people who have imbibed the propaganda, whilst there’s only a few hundred active on blogs and such and a dozen or two famous front people. But vaccines are pretty much mandatory because the central government is on side, because right now we have a hierarchical power taken to the centre sort of political setup, so as long as we can influence the politicians, it’ll be okay. As should be clear to all however, the politicians are just as stupid as anyone else and also open to bribes and influence. So there’s lots more work to be done there. There are of course various ways of influencing politicians, but that’s another post by itself.

  58. William says:

    If the poll is accurate then you have a real problem.

    The number of people who believe in such a coming apocalypse, however, has considerably decreased. A survey conducted on behalf of SPIEGEL found a dramatic shift in public opinion — Germans are losing their fear of climate change. While in 2006 a sizeable majority of 62 percent expressed a fear of global warning, that number has now become a minority of just 39 percent.

  59. William,

    While in 2006 a sizeable majority of 62 percent expressed a fear of global warning, that number has now become a minority of just 39 percent.

    In my opinion, whether or not to be afraid is up to the individual. Also, it really doesn’t matter. Physics/science doesn’t really care about whether or not the scientific evidence is such as to induce fear.

  60. William says:

    And the peopl do not care about the physics so whatvarenyou going to do.

  61. Joshua says:

    guthrie –

    As opposed to the comments they read in newspapers, I think there is more evidence that what affects non-aligned people’s opinion is far more likely to be: short term weather trends, economic conditions, and perhaps most strongly, the person’s political orientation.

  62. William,

    Me? Nothing different. Why? I’m not actually trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m simply presenting the evidence as honestly and as best as I can. I sometimes write my opinions, but then I make it clear that those are what they are. I allow people to comment – as long as they stick to the moderation rules – and correct me (as they often do) or disagree with me.

    Anyway, you’ve made a few interesting points. I don’t see any real reason to continue in this vein.

  63. BBD says:

    I see only one advocate here, ATTP, and it isn’t you…
    ;-)

  64. guthrie says:

    Joshua, them too, but I never said I had the best and only answer. Persuading the public is a long job.
    Persuading decision makers can be a lot quicker, if they are open to actual science. Ideally in a democracy we need both, but that isn’t the situation we are in right now.

    So what was your idea again?

  65. Guthrie & Joshua,

    Not quite on topic, but my view at the moment is that when we look back on this time, the people we will blame most will be the policy makers. You can criticise thinktanks, and bloggers, and journalists, and contrarian commenters on blogs, but at the end of the day we have policy makers (by which I mean our elected politicians) who are choosing to listen to non-experts, over experts. In retrospect, I think we will be amazed how anyone who claims to be representing the general public can have thought that that was a sensible decision to make.

    Hence, to get back on topic, maybe it is the policy makers we should be focusing on. They make the decisions and they should – in future – be the ones who will be held to account (in a career sense). A problem is, as everyone probably knows, that the timescales are really long and most politicians are focusing on how to get relected, not on how their decisions will influence our grandchildren.

  66. BG says:

    Last month there was a conference on Behavior, Energy & Climate Change held in Sacramento, CA, US. Presentations can be found at http://beccconference.org/becc-presentations-2013/

    I have not yet gone thru any of the presentations, but I do know one individual who attended and thought on the whole quite valuable discussions.

  67. AnOilMan says:

    William: There is no threat from climate change science. None at all. I suggest you take your concerns with epidemiologists and such who do damage assessments.

    I feel that you have looked at the ‘costs’, decided you didn’t like the ‘damage’ so decided there must be something wrong with the science. This is erroneous thinking and utterly backwards.

  68. AnOilMan says:

    guthrie: In the US almost all politicians are on the payroll for oil companies.

  69. William says:

    I feel that you have looked at the ‘costs’, decided you didn’t like the ‘damage’ so decided there must be something wrong with the science. This is erroneous thinking and utterly backwards.

    No but thank you for giving it a go.

  70. AnOilMan says:

    Before you guys consider counter trolling, I think it would be best to take that discussion off line, and perhaps actually formulate a real plan.

    Although, the science is that trolling makes an article appear bad, so doing that on their turf might make them look bad. Otherwise I don’t see the point. I’d rather tape an X to the wall, and bang there repeatedly.

  71. William says:

    An oil man,

    guthrie: In the US almost all politicians are on the payroll for oil companies.

    Is this true, I would have thought this would make headline news, have you a link, report. Can I quote you and send this off to the newspapers.

  72. William says:

    Oil & Gas | OpenSecrets
    http://www.opensecrets.org/industries./indus.php?ind=E01
    28 Oct 2013 – Individuals and political action committees affiliated with oil and gas companies … Yet Obama still received $884,000 from the oil and gas industry during the 2008 campaign, more than any … American Gas Assn, $120,250.

    Blimey you are right.

  73. William, I noticed this yesterday which claims 88% of congress get campaign funds from oil companies. Haven’t checked the veracity of it but, I believe, that such a level of funding is not disputed. Top be fair, I don’t think it’s secret.

  74. William, since you seem to trust that site, how about digging a little deeper.

  75. AnOilMan says:

    andthentheresphysics: Equally interesting but there are no rules or regulations for companies wanting to hire internet trolls to manipulate what people think. The Canadian government did experiment with this;

    http://www.news1130.com/2010/05/23/harper-government-monitoring-online-chats-about-politics/

    Now consider that the test case was a business concern and how cost effective it would be to paralyze the public with bogus information jamming. A few trolls can easily tie up a few large newspapers. (It was in fact this crap that brought me out of the woodwork.)

  76. I went to Washington last June as a volunteer for the Citizens Climate Lobby. We met with about 80% of Congress, and had productive conversations about how best to address climate change. Behind closed doors, Republicans are worried about being primaried by Tea Party radicals, like Bob Inglis was. In this sense they’re being rational actors: nobody benefits if moderate Republicans are replaced by Sky Dragon Slaying Tea Partiers.

    In my opinion, this perspective puts more responsibility on contrarian commenters who are feeding the public a continuous stream of regurgitated misinformation. The sooner we ignore contrarians and finally stop treating our atmosphere like a free sewer, the easier it will be to forgive them later for the delay their misinformation has extended.

  77. Pingback: IPCC Haiku | And Then There's Physics

  78. AnOilMan says:

    DumbScientist: I do worry that the world may be getting pushed in the wrong direction because of oil and gas funding of extremists.

    Tea Party represents goose stepping authoritarians;

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    Off to the re-education camps we will go…

  79. No matter how frustrated we become, it’s vitally important to channel that frustration in constructive ways. Specifically, ways that don’t add extra moderation work to Rachel and Anders’ already heavy workload. Please.

  80. Rachel says:

    I feel I should say here that I’m actually enjoying this. And it’s really not very different from dealing with the spats my children get into :-)

  81. Sadly, that’s a good summary of the problem.

  82. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Rachel,

    “I check for sock puppets every now and again but haven’t seen any evidence of that here so far.”

    Be aware that checking for sock-puppetry can lead to a 1 commenter per household policy.

  83. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Amusing to see that my latest comment yesterday has been taken seriously (should have added some smileys here and there). Interesting though that there are people who agree in part. I am going to sharp my rhetorical/argumentative weapons as much as I need and will be ready for any high noon in two weeks!

    I agree with Izen in:

    “So indulge in arguing with those that are wrong on the internet for its educational benefits. Indulge the opponent who visits a hostile arena, within your locally set limits if they play by the rules. Arguing with them can help your own understanding. And they may come back having evolved a better reply!”

    Very true Chris:

    “I don’t have too much of a concern about “Tone” so long as individuals that debate do so honestly and “listen” and address what others say. To my mind that’s the fundamental problem with many “contrarian” views on climate science one encounters on blogs.” However TallBloke is not going to explain it to you…

    Dumb Scientist:

    “Tamsin’s well-intentioned attempt to communicate science has successfully attracted the attention of many contrarians. The only reason anyone might think her blog is a bigger mess than, say, mine is that I haven’t succeeded in attracting that much attention.”

    which is a very nice way of saying that you haven’t been pandering to the …

    What I said above yesterday:

    “What I want to say is the following. The regular misinformers at WUWT and similar blogs are small in numbers. I actually want an all-out attack of the non-scientific minded. It can be done. It’s actually quite simple. It only needs an organiser to do it. P.s. Learn from how protest was organised without internet, just in case some government decides to shut it down”

    I would have said this in a complete mocking tone if I were to present it to you orally! Maybe should have used a few smileys! 😄 However, I am happy to see some comments on it.

    Dumb, as you must know “they have us outnumbered by roughly a factor of a thousand to one. Dismissives in America are ~10% so ~30 million people. Very rough (*) comparison: the AGU attendance is still less than ~30 thousand.” has nothing to do with the number of people actively commenting on blogs. I guess you do know! 😋

    “One person. And there are roughly a thousand Jane Q. Publics for each Dumb Scientist. I admire your bravery, Reich, but I’m not yet ready to send others into the WUWT quagmire. Not until I see some clear goals, metrics of success, and some reason to think we might have a snowball’s chance in hell.”

    We won’t get metrics until we try! 😉 I am not sending anyone and do not wish to do so

    OilMan ” WUWT is an all out effort to misinform the public by spreading FUD.” Of course you are right.

    Rachel

    “Reich/DumbSci,
    I’d go in there and comment if there were lots of others also planning to comment. Just let me know.”

    The result would be that they ban you.Nothing else changes! Thanks for the support though, and it really would be interesting to test out once and see what happens.

    VTG,

    “Reich and others – I think your thoughts on threadbombing the skeptics as a persuasion tactic will only be counterproductive. It will merely strengthen the groupthink”

    Sure! it would be a call to destroy the opposing side. Groupthink is guaranteed! (I wouldn’t need to make extra provisions for that, it develops naturally) 😉

    Oilman
    “Before you guys consider counter trolling, I think it would be best to take that discussion off line, and perhaps actually formulate a real plan.”
    Now you are not taken serious anymore at the other blogs, you said counter-trolling, meaning you consider other places inhabited by?
    Offline discussion is not possible.

    @guthrie

    “Threadbombing denialists on their home turf might be fun for some but is pointless.”

    YES! You are probably right! But i wouldn’t care going on a “nacht und nebel action” just for fun. And see what happens after that.

  84. Pingback: Science communicator extraodinaire | Carl Sagan...

  85. AnOilMan says:

    Reich.Eschhaus: I’m merely implying that talking out loud where the opposition can read it. Is silly.

    I’m taken very seriously at other blogs. I’m often a contact on oil, gas and drilling and of course leaky wells.

  86. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    “One person. And there are roughly a thousand Jane Q. Publics for each Dumb Scientist. ”

    I think that is not true. Not on the internet.I see the same people being their contrarian self all the time. However I think that apart from the ones you see everywhere, that there are not that many around arguing about climate science.

    “Reich.Eschhaus: I’m merely implying that talking out loud where the opposition can read it. Is silly.”

    sure! but if it is going to be a honest match, we have to tell them where and when we are playing, right? ;)

  87. Rachel says:

    Victor and Anders,
    I’ve just been reading the discussion you’ve both been having with others on twitter which seems to have generated a bit of grief, largely, I think, because there has been some misunderstanding in those 140 characters. Not surprising really. I wonder what your thoughts are if we take a similar situation but to a different field like the case of the geologist I mentioned here. He knew in 2005 that Japan would experience a magnitude 9 earthquake sometime soon. In hindsight it is easy to say “why didn’t he say something?”. Perhaps he did, I don’t know. But let’s assume he did not. Do you think he had an obligation to speak out? Or is silence an ethically acceptable option here?

  88. Rachel,

    Yes, I think Twitter was the issue this evening (no surprises there). As for your question, I suspect there isn’t a definitive answer. One would like to think that he would issue a warning that if done properly would be suitable (i.e., make no definitive statements and ensure everything is consistent with evidence). However, it does seem to be one of those cases where it’s easier to know what would have been best in hindsight, than knowing what to do beforehand. I would guess that, ethically, he could argue that he could not have known with certainty and hence had to make judgement and therefore could probably justify his decision not to speak out. However, one would imagine that even if he could justify his decision, he’d still not forgive himself for not speaking out.

  89. Rachel says:

    However, one would imagine that even if he could justify his decision, he’d still not forgive himself for not speaking out.

    This reminds me of something James Hansen said in his TED talk, Why I must speak out about climate change. Speaking about his grandchildren, he said that he did not want them to say in the future, “Opa understood what was happening but he didn’t make it clear”.

  90. OPatrick says:

    Reading the Kevin Anderson post (via Bart’s) I would have said the more relevant question would be ‘if the geologist was aware that people were distorting his work already in the public domain and using it to underplay the risks of an earthquake does he have an obligation to speak out?’

  91. Rachel says:

    If I was going to answer my own question and the one you ask OPatrick, I would say definitely yes to my question (that he does have an obligation to speak out) and so therefore the answer to your question is also yes. I don’t think having people distort the truth makes his obligation any more prescient, his obligation was already there, what it does do is make the obligation more difficult to fulfill.

  92. OPatrick says:

    I don’t think the first example is clear cut – possibly more so with the earthquake example, where the risk is more immediate than for climate change, but I can see how it is at least arguable that if a scientist puts their work out into the public domain they do not have any sort of obligation to speak out if they feel people are not acting on this evidence as they might expect – this expectation would involve their own interpretation of the political implications of their work. However, if they see people actively distorting their work then it seems clear to me that not correcting this distortion is a political decision in itself. This is the main point I felt Kevin Anderson was making.

  93. OPatrick.

    However, if they see people actively distorting their work then it seems clear to me that not correcting this distortion is a political decision in itself. This is the main point I felt Kevin Anderson was making.

    Yes, I think that is similar to the point I was trying to make, although maybe not very well.

  94. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Science `communication.

    To whom? To the young ones or to the older ones?

    My impression is that a large part of the Climate Science contrarians are old geezers (f\m). I know some old geezers. They have acquired their way of seeing the world and it is almost impossible to change them in their way of thinking (there are always exceptions of course).

    Lot’s of the old geezers and geezerettes are retired and have plenty of time. Some have a grudge somewhere. They have access to the internet and are able to comment many things at many places. And they do so!

    I think science communication efforts regarding climate change target the wrong audience if the communication effort is based upon some way to convince the “typical” climate science denier. This I think is the wrong target. Don’t bother with the “contrarians” too much. Explain the science to the others.

  95. Reich,

    I think science communication efforts regarding climate change target the wrong audience if the communication effort is based upon some way to convince the “typical” climate science denier. This I think is the wrong target. Don’t bother with the “contrarians” too much. Explain the science to the others.

    Yes, I agree. My main issue with this general idea though, is that one still needs to do something to counter – in the UK at least – the Delingpole’s, Ridley’s, Rose’s, and Neil’s who have a significant media presence and present contrarian ideas that are read by many. You do have the Monbiot’s, and others, who try to counter this but many fewer read the Guardian compared to the Daily Mail.

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