TBH, I don’t really like consensus messaging either

I might have to give Dan Kahan some credit. Even though I’m not convinced that consensus messaging is toxic and polarising in general, there are certainly circumstances in which it can be, as I discovered – again – on Twitter yesterday. There appear to be some physical scientists who object quite strongly to its use and, to be quite honest, I have some sympathy with their views; I don’t really like it either.

I wish we lived in a world in which what was obvious to those working in a field, was immediately obvious to everyone else. I wish we lived in a world where all you had to do was explain science clearly and carefully, and everyone would understand it, accept it, and recognise its significance. I wish we lived in a world in which scientists who engaged publicly would always include the caveats to their chosen scientific position, put it into the overall context, and explain how their scientific views were regarded by their peers. I wish we lived in a world in which the media did its best to avoid false balance and aimed to highlight which scientific views were accepted by most and which were disputed by many.

However, we don’t live in such a world. What’s obvious to those who work in a field is almost certainly not to those outside that field. Given that an understanding of the consensus (or lack thereof) is an important part of the scientific process, it would seem that an important part of communicating science is also communicating the level of agreement about the general scientific position. At a fundamental level, this is all that consensus messaging is about; there is a strong consensus about the basics of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Of course there might be secondary effects, and part of the research into consensus messaging is to study these secondary effects. If people accept that there is a consensus do they then accept that we’re warming and, if so, that it’s mostly us? If they accept this do they then accept the need for action and understand the need for climate policy? The latter issue appears to be one reason why some dislike consensus messaging; they seem to see it as inherently political. However, I think there are nuances here. We all do research and publicise it in order to inform. If our research is policy relevant then clearly it could be used by those who have political agendas. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this; informing the public, policy makers, and those who might influence policy is important.

As researchers, our obligation is simply to be open, honest, and transparent about our research, to explain it clearly and thoroughly, and to make it as difficult as possible for it to be mis-used. However, we can’t prevent people from using it to advance their policy preferences and we are not responsible if people misrepresent it in order to do so. So, I think that those who criticise consensus messaging should be careful to distinguish between the research that aims to illustrate the level of consensus and to understand the effectiveness of consensus messaging, and how it is used publicly; especially as they appear to be those whose research is also policy relevant. They might also want to consider that criticising its public use is inherently political, whether they like to admit this or not.

So, yes, I don’t really like consensus messaging either. I wish we could simply focus on communicating the science itself and, as a scientist myself, I do think this is crucial and important and is what we, as scientists, should be prioritising. However, I don’t see how we can do so effectively if people don’t at least understand the level of consensus with respect to the basics. I certainly regard consensus messaging as an attempt to make communicating the science easier, not as something that replaces good science communication; it’s intended to be complementary. I think it’s unfortunate that some seem to object so strongly to its use, especially as some seem comfortable saying things that they would regard as highly insulting if aimed at their research area.

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298 Responses to TBH, I don’t really like consensus messaging either

  1. Andy Skuce says:

    I fully agree. The consensus message feels trite. The physical science and policy discussions are much more interesting.

    It’s hard not to sound like a bore when talking about the 97%. It’s an obvious and trivial fact to anyone working in the field. Still, the general public doesn’t get it yet, through no fault of their own. And the ankle-biters keep demanding attention with their tendentious and inconsequential methodological objections.

    The politicians either love the message, or hate it, which tells you something.

  2. Nick A says:

    I agree that just communicating the science should be enough, and in most cases I think it is; I don’t really see consensus messaging on topics other than climate change. The difference with climate change is the small but very vocal group of people loudly proclaiming that the science is not settled and there is significant disagreement within the scientific community. As I’m sure most readers of this blog are aware, this misinformation has been regularly trotted out on all sorts of points (general warming, attribution, loss of ice mass etc.) when in reality the number of serious dissenting voices is tiny at least when it comes to looking at the big picture (clearly there is plenty still legitimately up for discussion the more detail you get into). I expect that for many within the scientific community this just washes over them and gets filtered out for the nonsense that it is. However, I doubt that’s true for the general public. That’s why I think it is both a sensible and necessary response to turn around and point out that the level of agreement on the main question of climate change is actually very high.

  3. snarkrates says:

    The main problem with “consensus messaging” is that people have no idea what scientific consensus means. They equate it with “voting” or worse yet, political consensus. These have little to do with scientific consensus.

    Scientific consensus simply means that there are certain models, tools, facts and techniques that are essential to advancing understanding of one’s field. If you reject them, you won’t advance understanding, and therefore you won’t publish. It then becomes easy to ignore you.

    Anthropogenic warming is not a theory. It is a prediction of the theory of Earth’s climate. The fact that it is warming is evidence in support of that theory. Reject anthropogenic warming and you reject a successful theory, and therefor have little to contribute. That’ s what scientific consensus means. It just isn’t easy to fit on a bumper sticker.

  4. To be honest, I really like consensus messaging. Especially when it comes to other fields of science I like to know if an idea is consensus or just a fresh idea from a single researcher. In fact, I feel that if a scientist has an idea that conflicts with the consensus, this scientist should say so when communicating with the public.

    When it comes to my own field I naturally do not need this information. I know this already. And you could say that it is rather sad that we still have to communicate the consensus on climate change in 2016 because so many people are misinformed about it.

  5. And you could say that it is rather sad that we still have to communicate the consensus on climate change in 2016 because so many people are misinformed about it.

    Precisely. Maybe if people stopped attacking any studies that tried to illustrate it and stopped criticising those who try to highlight it, it wouldn’t be as necessary.

  6. Andy Skuce says:

    Agreeing essentially with Victor, I would welcome a consensus study on subjects like, say, GMO safety. Because I accept assertions that a great majority of scientists say GMOs are safe to consume, I happily eat the things and am not worried at all about the health consequences, but I have barely looked at the literature for myself. If someone were to survey the literature for me and also to poll the experts, I’d be interested in the results. I don’t think I would be particularly interested, though, in any debates that followed arguing about methodological trivia.

  7. Francis says:

    I respectfully disagree. The vast majority of science teaching in this country is precisely consensus messaging. What is a textbook at a high-school / undergrad level? A consensus. Public radio had a story a few months back about a man who dedicated his life to disproving e=mc2. When the station found a serious physicist to review his papers, it didn’t go well. But the man remained convinced that he was right.

    Because AGW affects powerful interest the media treat the deniers with respect. But even a complete amateur like me can figure out that they’re no different than the poor crazy self taught physicist

  8. Francis,

    I respectfully disagree.

    You’re free to, of course 🙂

    The vast majority of science teaching in this country is precisely consensus messaging. What is a textbook at a high-school / undergrad level? A consensus.

    Ahh, but consensus messaging is explicitly highighting the existence of a consensus. Teaching the consensus position is not consensus messaging. That’s the distinction. So, yes, in an ideal world all we would need to do would be to communicate the consensus position and people would understand and accept this. However, in the real world sometimes it seems that we have to both highight the strength of the consensus (what fraction of experts agree) as well as communicate the actual consensus position (i.e, the actual science).

  9. Marco says:

    “I don’t really see consensus messaging on topics other than climate change”

    I do:
    Vaccines.
    AIDS.

    Both also areas where a vocal minority has done all it can to sow doubt. There are no specific “consensus papers” like Cook et al in those fields. Rather, there are authorative statements from official health bodies (e.g. WHO) and the Cochrane reviews for more specific aspects, e.g. the effectiveness of certain treatments.

    Sometimes we also see some level of consensus messaging in economics (oh, hi, Richard!), e.g. here:
    http://www.consensuseconomics.com/Economic_Forecast_Publications.htm
    And let’s not forget the Copenhagen Consensus Center

    Oh, and because of the source quite funny:
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324669104578203461416235022
    “An example of the power of consensus messaging …”

  10. Tony duncan says:

    I think one of the problems with the 97% consensus is it is a simplification. People like Curry and Pilke and Tol can say they are part of the consensus so it is being misused.
    I really liked Verheggan’s(sp?) approach and In my interactions with deniers or genuinely ignorant people I generally say that it is about 90% who believe there is a major concern about serious consequences.
    In other areas, say GMO’s and vaccines, there are complications that impact the arguments
    I Personally think that most or all GMO’s are probably safe, but object strenuously to the argument that GMO’s are just the same as any other form of breeding. It is a profound change And I do bot want to see it completely transform our food biology in 2 generations without a LOT of caution.
    And vaccines do cause side effects in some small set of people, so there is a clear interest in understanding the biology As well as possible.
    Also there are huge corporare interests thst have historically skewed science for their economic interests.
    These cases may be similar to deniers saying there will be benefits to climate change, which is true, but that needs to be honestly contrasted with the devastating negatives.

  11. Joshua says:

    ==> “Sometimes we also see some level of consensus messaging in economics (oh, hi, Richard!), e.g. here:

    I think that in economic analysis, there is a lot of time spent trying to assess the prevalence of shared viewpoints among experts, for example, on the effect of taxes on the economy, of the impact of illegal immigration on the economy, etc. The only reason that there isn’t as much “consensus-messaging” is because there isn’t overwhelming agreement on those issues among “experts” as there is with climate change.

  12. I’ve just started reading “The Tyrannosaur Chronicles” by David Hone (yes, I find dinosaurs interesting, even at my age ;o). I noted that in the preface Dr Hone stated that the aim was to present the consensus opinion of dinosaur researchers. As Victor suggests the importance of knowing where the consensus lies is not restricted to climatology, and is quite useful in any scientific field. I also didn’t find this “consensus messaging” polarising or toxic! ;o)

  13. Joshua says:

    “Skeptics” like to say that in other areas, there isn’t a lot of time spent on “consensus-messaging” in order to convince people. Well, there are two ways to think about that. I suppose one would be that the unusual degree of consensus messaging on climate change is because the scientific argument isn’t valid – and so the fallacy of appeal to authority is necessitated to convince people.

    Another could be that, ironically, there is more “consensus-messaging” with climate change because there is a large prevalence of shared expert opinion in climate change (that, unlike in other areas, a large segment of the public distrusts).

  14. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “I wish we lived in a world where all you had to do was explain science clearly and carefully, and everyone would understand it, accept it, and recognise its significance. ”

    I think it is interesting to consider whether or not this is generally what happens. I’d say that what you’re describing is what happens in vast majority of situations (and interestingly, that is one of the arguments that Kahan makes also).

    But the situation with climate change is different, and that is why I think it’s a questionable to try to apply arguments about the more general use of “consensus-messaging” (e.g., advertising like “9 of out 10 dentists agree that Trident is good [for people who chew gum) to the particular context of climate change. Whether or not they apply, or how much, or in what ways, is, IMO, pretty tricky.

  15. Joshua why is it different?

  16. Joshua says:

    Dikran –

    I think because it is polarized and politicized. Which kind of ducks the question. 🙂

    IMO, the interesting question is why it is polarized and politicized. Obviously, one reason (I doubt there is only one) is because of the significant political implications of the different policy options. That then leads to another aspect – the issue of climate change has become linked to how people orient around social, cultural, and ideological identity, and why people have become so identified with social/cultural/ideological positions on climate change. I’m not sure if that’s a separate question…or if it is, whether there some sequence (i.e., people identify because it is political and partisan, or people are political and partisan because some other factor made it an identity marker).

  17. Joshua says:

    Dikran –

    Relatedly, while I’ve got you over here…downstairs you said:

    ==> “I disagree, there is a tribalistic aspect to some elements of the larger public discussion, and they will tend to use any tool to hand. That doesn’t mean the tool is inextricably linked to the tribalism. The same could be said for the use of scientific results.”

    I am not speaking of “consensus-messaging” in general. It is not, in a generic frame, inextricably linked to politicization and polarization. But I think that any form of “consensus-messaging” about climate change in today’s world has political baggage like a courier with one of those handcuffs attached to their wrist on one and and a briefcase on the other. The tether is stronger and more obvious in come contexts (e.g., in the U.S. or Australia)… but even in a global context the link is still unavoidable, IMO.

    That doesn’t mean that I necessarily think that any particular action should be avoided because the linkage exists, just that I don’t think it makes much sense to strategize as if the linkage can be avoided to any significant degree.

  18. Joshua,

    I’d say that what you’re describing is what happens in vast majority of situations (and interestingly, that is one of the arguments that Kahan makes also).

    Do you think that in a vast majority of situation people understand it, accept it and recognise its significance? My impression is that when you’re explaining something non-contentious, some people will indeed understand, accept and recognise significance, but getting all 3 isn’t necessary. Those who don’t fully understand will still accept and recognise the significance. My impression with climate science is probably similar to what you said in your later comment; it is polarised and politicised and so simply explaining the science can have little effect if there is an underlying reason why some are predisposed to reject what is being presented.

  19. > I’d say that what you’re describing is what happens in vast majority of situations (and interestingly, that is one of the arguments that Kahan makes also). But the situation with climate change is different, and that is why I think it’s a questionable to try to apply arguments about the more general use of “consensus-messaging” […] to the particular context of climate change.

    If I understand correctly, the argument is thus:

    (P1) In vast majority of situations, we do A.
    (P2) AGW is different than the vast majority of situations,
    (C) We should not do A.

    There’s an implicit premise:

    (P3) Doing A for AGW does not work.

    That implicit is required to patch the special pleading that could contain P2. Dan usually argues for P3 by pointing out that once upon a time, Al Gore was fat.

    I suspect that A is consensus messaging, but it could be just about anything else.

  20. Joshua says:

    willard –

    ==> “(C) We should not do A.”

    I have not said that we should not do A.

  21. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Marketing, then.

  22. Joshua says:

    In many situations, A is not problematic
    In this situation, A may be problematic.
    Because this situation is different than other situations, we shouldn’t assume that A isn’t problematic in this situation, but more importantly, we shouldn’t assume that it has positive benefits in this situation on the basis of it not being problematic in other situations.

  23. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “Do you think that in a vast majority of situation people understand it, accept it and recognise its significance?”

    If I understand your question (I’m not sure I do), then my answer is yes. We rely on the hueristic behind “consensus-messaging” as a matter of course. When we go to Amazon or UrbanSpoon or Tripadvisor we see the feature of reviews is always very prominent. I see that as a slightly different form of “consensus-messaging.” We are relying on “expert” opinion (i.e., people who have experience in the subject at hand, a form of expertise) as a rule of thumb to help us evaluate risk (of getting a bad meal or bedbugs from a hotel bed). This is entirely natural…the prominence of those features it because it reflects processes that are hardwired into how we reason.

    ==> “My impression is that when you’re explaining something non-contentious, some people will indeed understand, accept and recognise significance, but getting all 3 isn’t necessary. Those who don’t fully understand will still accept and recognise the significance.”

    I’m having trouble understanding that. Could you explain further?

    ==> “and so simply explaining the science can have little effect if there is an underlying reason why some are predisposed to reject what is being presented.”

    That’s my impression. All the more so because “simply explaining the science” is very complicated in a context that is already polarized and politicized.

  24. Joshua,
    What I’m getting at is that when communicating science you don’t always need to get people to understand the science in order for them to accept it. Many seem happy to accept things without necessarily understanding the underlying science. In climate science, however, accepting the science has potential implications, which – in my impression – makes the whole science communication issue much more complicated.

  25. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “What I’m getting at is that when communicating science you don’t always need to get people to understand the science in order for them to accept it.”

    I agree. And many people have strong opinions about climate change even though they don’t have a hope of understanding the science. And, many people, rather absurdly IMO, think that they already understand the science and that their views are based on just such an understanding. There is an interesting pattern in that regard.

    I believe that Larry has some similar findings.

  26. Joshua wrote “Obviously, one reason (I doubt there is only one) is because of the significant political implications of the different policy options. ”

    Indeed, however the policy decisions (i.e. what we do about climate change) is largely a socio-politico-economic question, not a scientific one, so it seems to me that it is not a good reason to treat the science of climate change any differently to the science of anything else.

    I think most people are not that tribal, they simply don’t want to give up their way of life because they are causing problems for someone else (mostly in terms of future generations, but also spatially on a smaller timescale).

  27. Joshua says:

    Dikran –

    ==> “…so it seems to me that it is not a good reason to treat the science of climate change any differently to the science of anything else.”

    It’s certainly not a reason to do the science any differently. As to whether to treat the science any differently, I’d say that it depends on your goals and your views on the best strategies to achieve your goals. I see no inherent reason why you wouldn’t tailor your strategies to maximize your goals. If consensus messaging works in one context, fine. But IMO, it doesn’t make sense to stick to that strategy in context B just because it worked (or more preciely, wasn’t problematic) in context A. Perhaps if there is some moral or principle at stake that says that consensus-messaging is inherently moral or principled. I’m not sure that I see that as being the case. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t inform people about the science or the prevalence of shared expert opinion or certainly that you should misinform people about the science or the prevalence of shared expert opinion. Only that if you’re going to choose a particular strategy, you shouldn’t be over-confident about its efficacy.

  28. > I have not said that we should not do A.

    Nor did I said you said that. I’m trying to formulate the argument against consensus messaging. Unless we can lay down reasons for or against doing some consensus messaging, there’s no point in having these exchanges.

    Here’s what you said:

    that is why I think it’s a questionable to try to apply arguments about the more general use of “consensus-messaging

    This follows directly from (P2), i.e. AGW is different than the vast majority of situations.

    Therefore, you’re saying:

    (J1) In vast majority of situations, we do A (for reasons R).
    (J2) AGW is different than the vast majority of situations, so reasons R don’t apply.
    (JC) We need to find other reasons than R to do A in case of AGW.

    Even if we stick to the realm or reasons, this puts even more stress on showing what’s so different about AGW than the vast majority of situations that we need to find other reasons than the usual ones.

  29. Joshua says:

    willard –

    ==> “Nor did I said you said that.”

    Well, you quoted me, and then said:

    ==> “If I understand correctly, the argument is thus:”

    So I assumed that you were paraphrasing my argument (that you quoted).

    Anyway…I think some agreement on terminology might help me to understand.

    ==> “(J1) In vast majority of situations, we do A (for reasons R).”

    Not sure if you’re referring to my argument there, but I’m not saying that “in the vast majority of situations we do A” – if by “A” we’re referring to “consensus-messaging.”

    I think that in the vast majority of science communication situations, “consensus-messaging” doesn’t occur. People report the science But of the subset of science communication situations where we do, “consensus-messaging” is largely un-problematic – most people (except, perhaps, a tiny minority such as those who think that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS) just accept the implications of the existence of a “consensus” and find “consensus-messaging” un-problematic . And I think that a condition that largely overlaps with the un-problematic-ness is a lack of (significant levels of) politicization and polarization (in association with identification). Thus, I think that applying what we observe about other situations to the situations of climate change (which, IMO, is significantly polarized and politicized).

    I’m certainly open to the question of whether or not the condition of being polarized and politicized has much explanatory power for why “consensus-messaging” is more hotly argued w/r/t climate change than in other contexts where it can be found. I can’t think of any counter-examples, but maybe some could be pointed out to me.

  30. Joshua says:

    ==> That should read….”Thus, I think that applying what we observe about other situations to the situations of climate change (which, IMO, is significantly polarized and politicized)…is a questionable rationale for the strategy (in terms of efficacy)”

  31. Joshua says:

    willard –

    I also don’t recognize this as what I’m saying:

    ==> “(J1) In vast majority of situations, we do A (for reasons R).
    (J2) AGW is different than the vast majority of situations, so reasons R don’t apply.”

    Perhaps it is because I don’t know what “situations” you’re referencing and I’m not entirely clear what you mean by”for reasons R” or “so reasons R don’t apply.”

    Nor do I know what this; “(JC) We need to find other reasons than R to do A in case of AGW.” means or how it applies to what I’m saying. Does it mean that I’m saying “We need to find reasons [other than convincing people about AGW] to do [“consensus messaging”] in the context of climate change?

    I don’t recognize that as what I’m saying either.

  32. > I’m not saying that “in the vast majority of situations we do A” – if by “A” we’re referring to “consensus-messaging.”

    Of course not, for here’s what you now say:

    I think that in the vast majority of science communication situations, “consensus-messaging” doesn’t occur. People report the science But of the subset of science communication situations where we do, “consensus-messaging” is largely un-problematic – most people (except, perhaps, a tiny minority such as those who think that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS) just accept the implications of the existence of a “consensus” and find “consensus-messaging” un-problematic . And I think that a condition that largely overlaps with the un-problematic-ness is a lack of (significant levels of) politicization and polarization (in association with identification). [Thus, I think that applying what we observe about other situations to the situations of climate change (which, IMO, is significantly polarized and politicized)…is a questionable rationale for the strategy (in terms of efficacy).]

    So let’s rework the argument:

    (1) In the vast majority of science communication situations, we don’t do CM.

    (2) Of the situations where we do CM, some/many/most are unproblematic.

    (3) The reason why (2) is because there’s no politicization and/or polarization and/or identification [etc].

    (4) Communicating AGW is a situation that is significantly politicized, polarized, with identification and whatnot.

    (5) Doing some CM for AGW is a questionable strategy.

    That’s very different from what I said earlier. We now know what makes AGW so special – it’s politicized, polarized, identification occurs, and whatnot. Unlike AIDS, vaccines, evolution, smoking, CFCs, fluoration, or any other policy issue we can think of where CM worked.

    ***

    > I can’t think of any counter-examples, but maybe some could be pointed out to me.

    I can’t think of why I should play fetch before the argument gets nailed down.

  33. > I don’t recognize that as what I’m saying either.

    That’s because it makes no sense.

  34. Joshua says:

    willard –

    Up through 4, I’m cool.

    But the transition to #5 feels too abrupt to me.

    ==> “(5) Doing some CM for AGW is questionable strategy.”

    I recognize that when I read it, but I more want to be saying something else. I particularly don’t like the “doing some” part…as if feels like a diminishing qualifier I would definitely not put in. The smaller the “some” the less my argument applies. I am mostly reacting to the strength of the argument that “consensus-messaging” is clearly effective in the context of climate change.

    How about: I remain unconvinced that “consensus-messaging” is a materially effective strategy in the context of climate change.” Is there a reason why you would not accept that modification?

    Perhaps two sides of the same coin, but somehow my re-phrasing feels closer to what I think.

  35. Joshua says:

    ==> “That’s because it makes no sense.”

    A statement which qualifies as a marker of poor-faith dialogue, IMO.

  36. Joshua says:

    Anyway, Got shit to do so I’m out for now. Given your 9:52, perhaps it is a fortuitous development 🙂

  37. Joshua wrote ” I’d say that it depends on your goals and your views on the best strategies to achieve your goals.”

    My goal on this is merely that the general public has the information they require to form an opinion in a rational manner. Aligning yourself with the scientific consensus is a perfectly reasonable thing to do if you don’t have the expertise to understand the science for yourself.

    “Perhaps if there is some moral or principle at stake that says that consensus-messaging is inherently moral or principled.”

    I’m not sure that this is a moral issue, but the principle that we should be free to present accurate factual information and that we should not object to the presentation of accurate factual information seems a reasonable thing IMHO. Consensus messaging might be viewed as a particular case.

    “Only that if you’re going to choose a particular strategy, you shouldn’t be over-confident about its efficacy.”

    I don’t think anyone is, but then again I don’t think anyone has any better ideas of how to communicate this piece of relevant information to the general public.

    As I see it, the “consensus messaging is polarising” is largely rhetoric, as I have pointed out giving scientific facts to people who doubt them is equally polarising (try explaining how we know the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic at e.g. WUWT). Nobody likes being told they are wrong. However that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, it doesn’t mean it will be effective, but at the same time is there another approach that will be more effective?

  38. > “I remain unconvinced that “consensus-messaging” is a materially effective strategy in the context of climate change.” Is there a reason why you would not accept that modification?

    There’s no reason to refuse any modification, since it’s your argument.

    Another iteration:

    (1) In the vast majority of science communication situations, we don’t do CM.

    (2) Of the situations where we do CM, some/many/most are unproblematic.

    (3) The reason why (2) is because there’s no politicization and/or polarization and/or identification [etc].

    (4) Communicating AGW is a situation that is significantly politicized, polarized, with identification and whatnot.

    (5) Doing CM for AGW may not be a materially effective strategy.

    None of this implies we should not do CM or that doing CM for AGW does not work.

    ***

    > A statement which qualifies as a marker of poor-faith dialogue, IMO.

    I’m here for the argument. For good faith dialogue, it’s next door. You can even use this as a reason to bring this exercise to a close.

  39. Mighty Drunken says:

    Even though I’m not convinced that consensus messaging is toxic and polarising in general, there are certainly circumstances in which it can be, as I discovered – again – on Twitter yesterday.

    I wonder if that says more about the atmosphere surrounding the climate change debate then about consensus messaging itself. People don’t like to be told they are wrong, especially by experts.

    Personally I find all this talk about consensus messaging pointless, until we find out what the consensus among behavioural scientists about consensus messaging is. 😉

  40. Steven Mosher says:

    “I think one of the problems with the 97% consensus is it is a simplification. People like Curry and Pilke and Tol can say they are part of the consensus so it is being misused.”

    I should have TM that move.

  41. Steven Mosher says:

    Re Frame.

    1.In science communication rhetorical situations we sometimes face situations where the audience is not convinced about the science, and further, we have a desire to change their opinion.

    A couple of points. The public might not be convinced about things like string theory, and we really have no desire to change their minds. In any rhetorical situation it is important to understand both the speakers intention ( we want to change their minds) and the audience ( they are unconviced)

    You have these broad strategies.

    A) more information — edumacate yourself stupid
    B) everyone else likes chocolate — all the cool scientists like it
    C) the conversion story — he once was skeptic
    D) Expulsion stories– you go to hell idiot denier
    E) Orange looks bad on you — can you spell RICO?
    F) Its really in your interest to believe

    if there was a recipe for changing peoples behavior with words, then this would not be the case

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/326075/Electricity_Survey_2_-_Savings__beliefs__demographics_150514.pdf

  42. Joshua says:

    willard –

    ==> I’m here for the argument. For good faith dialogue, it’s next door. ”

    But where’s Chew (“that’s because it makes no sense”) Bacca?

  43. Joshua says:

    Dikran –

    ==> “Aligning yourself with the scientific consensus is a perfectly reasonable thing to do if you don’t have the expertise to understand the science for yourself.”

    I agree. That’s one reason why I (mostly) align with the “consensus.”

    “Perhaps if there is some moral or principle at stake that says that consensus-messaging is inherently moral or principled.”

    == “…but the principle that we should be free to present accurate factual information and that we should not object to the presentation of accurate factual information seems a reasonable thing IMHO.”

    I agree.

    ==> ” Consensus messaging might be viewed as a particular case.”

    Sure. I would agree that anyone should be free to engage in “consensus-messaging.”

    ==> “As I see it, the “consensus messaging is polarising” is largely rhetoric,”

    I agree. I haven’t seen what I consider to be solid evidence in support of that assertion. IMO, the only people who say that they find it “polarizing” themselves (in any meaningful numbers) are already polarized.

    ==> ” However that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, it doesn’t mean it will be effective, but at the same time is there another approach that will be more effective?”

    I kinda think that there is – along the principles of conflict resolution, stakeholder dialogue, participatory democracy.

  44. MarkR says:

    “I think one of the problems with the 97% consensus is it is a simplification. People like Curry and Pilke and Tol can say they are part of the consensus so it is being misused.”

    In some cases we can test this. For example, from here:
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/05/breaking-the-97-percent-climate-consensus-canard.php
    “The leading so-called “skeptics”—like MIT’s Richard Lindzen or Cato’s Patrick Michaels or NASA’s John Christy or Roy Spencer—would be included in the 97 percent figure.”

    Lindzen, Michaels, Spencer and Christy all had papers rated as “rejection” in Cook et al. (2013).

  45. > But where’s Chew (“that’s because it makes no sense”) Bacca?

    He hid behind Han “let’s play mirroring where I can reject anything you say in good faith” Solo.

  46. MarkR,

    You might also like Roy’s take:

    Well, it turns out that the 97% consensus that they found, I am indeed part of … What do all those people agree to? Well, they agree to something fairly innocuous and it’s something most of us agree to. That humans must have some influence on climate.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/jul/23/climate-change-andrew-neil-bbc-errors-take2

  47. Tom Curtis says:

    Willard, the enjoyable part of the “we are all part of the consensus card, Scaffeta was claiming that Cook et al misrepresented the consensus as being in favour of at least 50% attribution whereas (according to Scaffeta) the IPCC consensus was for at least 100% attribution. Scaffeta’s claim was prominently featured on WUWT, but gained no criticism from those who also accepted the “we are all part of the consensus” line.

    My theory is that deniers are just food aficionados who are angling for a seat at Milliways.

  48. > Scaffeta was claiming that Cook et al misrepresented the consensus as being in favour of at least 50% attribution whereas (according to Scaffeta) the IPCC consensus was for at least 100% attribution.

    Right here:

    “Cook et al. (2013) is based on a straw man argument because it does not correctly define the IPCC AGW theory, which is NOT that human emissions have contributed 50%+ of the global warming since 1900 but that almost 90-100% of the observed global warming was induced by human emission,” Scafetta responded. “What my papers say is that the IPCC [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] view is erroneous because about 40-70% of the global warming observed from 1900 to 2000 was induced by the sun.”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2013/05/30/global-warming-alarmists-caught-doctoring-97-percent-consensus-claims

    Investigative journalists reporting on Willie Soon, Craig Idso, Nicola Scafetta, Nir Shaviv, Nils-Axel Morner and Alan Carlin: what could go wrong?

  49. Tom Curtis says:

    That’s the one. Scafetta also takes the chance to misrepresent his own paper, which claims that “By considering a 20–30% uncertainty of the sensitivity parameters, the sun could have roughly contributed 35–60% and 20–40% of the 1900–2000 and 1980–2000 global warming, respectively.” Rounding 35 up to 40% might just be justified, at a stretch, but rounding 60 up to 70% is just plain misrepresentation.

    More importantly for the rating, it was the abstract that was rated, and it states “We estimate that the sun contributed as much as 45–50% of the 1900–2000 global warming, and 25–35% of the 1980–2000 global warming.” “As much as” indicates that an upper limit is being specified, and as the IPCC consensus regards the interval post 1950, it is the 25-35% which is relevant.

  50. Steven Mosher says:

    Lastly you cannot choose from the strategies I laid out without
    Choosing spokespeople. Here’s a clue. Gore is not a good choice.

    Arguing about the effectiveness of the argument in a rhetorical vacuum is silly.

  51. I’ve always thought it might be better to replace language such as “x percent of scientists say…” with language such as “the reputable, professionally refereed scientific literature in its ongoing aggregate presently says…”.

    The two ways of speaking have a different flavor, the latter I think being more to the point of what really matters most, which is what the reputable, professionally peer-reviewed scientific literature says in its ongoing aggregate (which should by extension include the reputable, professional monographs and textbooks in their ongoing aggregate), which is the best we humans have at any given time as to what the truth really is about this universe, which is the best we humans have at any given time to keep the crackpots from taking over the world.

    It seems to me that a good use of the latter type of language would do a better job of helping the general public avoid being deceived by the crackpots. That is, it helps the general public focus on what this literature in its ongoing aggregate actually is, which should help the general public understand better why this literature matters most, where part of this understanding would be understanding why the crackpots almost always cannot get published in this literature.

  52. Joshua wrote “I kinda think that there is – along the principles of conflict resolution, stakeholder dialogue, participatory democracy.”

    I think you are missing my point, although things might be different in the USA, this is not really a tribal thing, just human nature. Very few actively want to give up their lifestyle to benefit others, the real conflict is internal, not external.

    More importantly, how do those who want to align themselves with the scientific consensus get accurate information on where the consensus lies, in the presence of “there is no consensus” messaging, if we don’t provide information to counter that myth?

    There is no single “strategy” (but bear in mind my stated goals above). Consensus messaging may be counter-productive for some, but is necessary for others. There is no reason not to try more than one approach, they don’t appear to me to be mutually incompatible. Having said which, I am not sure how rational approaches, such as the ones you suggest, are any more likely to work with people that are alienated by being given correct information.

  53. Steve Mosher writes: “Choosing spokespeople. Here’s a clue. Gore is not a good choice.”

    I think you have that backwards, Steve. Environmentalists didn’t choose Gore to be a leader, Gore chose to lead on the environment. There is a difference.

    Besides, it’s unlikely there coulld have been a more effective leader. The issue is inherently political, so any claims the issue became politicized because of Gore’s involvement are moot.

  54. So, what would be “alternative” (I would say complimentary) communication strategies?

    In normal life: build up a relationship, highlight similarities and simply state your opinion without going into a fight about the details.

    In public highlight sensible opinions of conservative people. If you are conservative, make sure people know this when you talk about climate. If you are not conservative yourself, you can still amplify their voices (preferentially RT and share their climate communications). Newt Gingrich, Katharine Hayhoe, Richard Alley, and many, many others.

    Many communities in the USA are very vulnerable to climate change impacts, especially communities where Republican politicians have forbidden civil servants talking about climate change and who are consequently not prepared. If you are living in the USA it is likely a good idea to organize and start working on adaptation, it is hard for politicians, no matter how bribed, to argue against protecting their community. While working on this, you implicitly accept climate change and it becomes easier and natural to communicate the science. Working on adaptation it becomes clear how expensive adaptation is and how enormous the additional tax burden coal and oil companies force onto the citizens.

  55. angech says:

    Quiet night in Australia so I thought a few thoughts would go astray.
    ” I don’t really like CM either”. ATTP.
    The question was, I thought, is CM effective. The answer is yes as per all the rich Advertising Agencies in the world.
    So most of us do get sold on/by CM which implies, Joshua can disagree, that we do sort of like CM.
    Then it gets tricky.
    Perhaps ATTP meant he did not like having to use CM, and again I would agree, we might fall for advertising but we do not like advertising being used on us.
    Even and especially in a good cause.
    Because we know all causes are not good.
    And those that are good we should not need selling on.

    To digress, I have seen all sorts of consensus appear and disappear in medical science.
    The use of “portions”in diabetes, then limiting fat intake now the low GI food fad.
    The use of statins in heart disease, now mired in controversy.
    The thousand different diets available, the hundred treatments for planter fasciitis.
    Physio for COPD.
    Vitamin C by Linus Pauling, Nobel scientist.
    Consensus science at it’s worst.
    So consensus changes and is topical and in vogue.
    Science should not change, there is only one correct understanding and we do the best we can with the knowledge we currently have to understand and explain it.
    Anders makes very good points above that I agree with though coming from a philosophically and scientifically different viewpoint.
    “I wish we lived in a world where all you had to do was explain science clearly and carefully, and everyone would understand it, accept it, and recognize its significance”.

    To be clear there will always be deniers of one’s position.
    In a world of consensus this should never be a problem to the believers.
    The problem is that while 97% of scientists [well those who are climate scientists and have published over 20 papers in peer reviewed journals to be “precise”] believe that mankind/CO2 has caused all [or some, or a little bit or greater than 50%] the warming for the last 20/50/100 years/; the general public and other scientists are not quite that convinced.
    Blaming the general public for not being 97% convinced is not a good tactic.

    The science works keep explaining it.

  56. Willard says:

    > The science works keep explaining it.

    And the most scientific way to establish this is to make it a contrarian meme.

    Speaking of nutritional supplements:

  57. Marco says:

    Angech tells us that “To digress, I have seen all sorts of consensus appear and disappear in medical science.”

    I don’t want to go through all his (largely nonsense) examples, but this one is just too funny:
    “Vitamin C by Linus Pauling, Nobel scientist.”
    A consensus is not a single person. You will not find any medical consensus at any point that high amounts of vitamin C could be very beneficial in a wide variety of diseases, such as cancer. Pauling’s ideas were tested, for sure, and found wanting. That Pauling was able to sell his ideas primarily to the public was based on his name, not on the consensus. We thus have a case where consensus messaging may well have reduced the large number of people misled by Pauling!

  58. Steven Mosher says:

    “I think you have that backwards, Steve. Environmentalists didn’t choose Gore to be a leader, Gore chose to lead on the environment. There is a difference.

    Besides, it’s unlikely there coulld have been a more effective leader. The issue is inherently political, so any claims the issue became politicized because of Gore’s involvement are moot.”

    Note I never argued and would not argue that gore was chosen. My argument is this. There are multiple strategies to employ. It would be wise to choose the best spokesperson.
    Given that you want to convince the unconvinced, given that they tend to be conservative your best choice is not gore. There is of course no way to stop him from speaking. However a smart person would have pulled him aside and explained to him the difference between rallying those already politically aligned with him and convincing skeptics.the short term advantages of raising awareness need to be balanced against the long term problems of alienating and demonizing the opposition.

    Then again no mistakes were ever made in messaging climate change. We made no mistakes. Everything is going according to plan. Happy? There is no valid criticism or questioning of what we did. We would not change a single thing.

  59. Steven Mosher says:

    Victor gets it.

  60. Steven,
    No doubt many mistakes have been made. Personally, I’m unconvinced that anyone actually knows what the best strategy should be. I don’t even know if consensus messaging is effective or not (although there are some who I think have relevant expertise who claim that there are indications that it might be). On the other hand, if people want to try other strategies, they should go ahead and do so. I’m just not convinced, though, that a strategy that mainly involves criticises the strategies employed by others is likely to be particularly effective if your goal is to inform people about climate science. On the other hand, if the goal is to confuse and muddle things, it might be pretty good.

  61. Joshua says:

    Dikran –

    ==> “I think you are missing my point,…”

    Nah, not possible.

    ==> “…although things might be different in the USA, …

    Thanks for that reminder. (As an American, I often need to be reminded that the world is larger than just the U.S.) Surely, a failure to consider cultural/cross-national differences in all this speculation makes for big problems. For example, how might these issues play out in differently in cultural frames that are more consensus-based compared to those that are more individual agency-based, or in cultures where there are stronger conventions about the differences between public and private expression,

    ==> “this is not really a tribal thing, just human nature. Very few actively want to give up their lifestyle to benefit others, the real conflict is internal, not external.”

    So I have some questions about that. First, I’m not sure how that fits with the earlier discussion about the effectiveness or desirability of CM. I’m thinking that when you say “this,” you aren’t really referring to the use of CM specifically, but more generally to why there is division in what people believe about climate change/how people orient towards policies to address climate change?

    Going with that, then from your cultural frame, do you think that people on one side of the great climate change divide (“realists”) are generally more prone/comfortable with/inclined towards towards sacrificing personally for the sake of benefiting others, as compared to those on the other side (“skeptics”) who are less likely to value such sacrifice? I’m guessing that you don’t think that is a general characteristic, in which case then, I’d wonder how you explain the difference in why “realists” would be more willing to make such sacrifice in the case of climate change than “skeptics” if there isn’t a tribal/identity association.

    ==>”More importantly, how do those who want to align themselves with the scientific consensus get accurate information on where the consensus lies, in the presence of “there is no consensus” messaging, if we don’t provide information to counter that myth?”

    Once again, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be provided information to counter that myth, but I’m saying that (1) I question whether the “deficit model” explains the current taxonomy of beliefs and/or provides the key to changing the current situation and (2) whether or not, even if it did, CM (which I think will inevitably have political/tribal linkages) would be effective for addressing the “deficit.”

    ==> “Consensus messaging may be counter-productive for some, but is necessary for others.”

    First, I actually don’t think that it is particularly counter-productive (I think that is pretty much a myth. Those who react negatively to CM on climate change are already “identified” on the subject. The CM itself does not have much net impact, IMO, either positive or negative “There is no reason not to try more than one approach, they don’t appear to me to be mutually incompatible.”

    I agree.

    ==> “Having said which, I am not sure how rational approaches, such as the ones you suggest, are any more likely to work with people that are alienated by being given correct information.”

    I think that there some pretty strong supporting evidence for effective, deliberative processes, when providing information in environments where conflict exists. Broadly speaking, those processes are focused on distinguishing positions from interests and establishing a mutual goal of working towards common interests. At some point, there is, I think, and opportunity cost for continuing with strategies that largely focus on making distinctions on the basis of positions. That doesn’t mean that I think that the strategies are mutually exclusive, or that CM is counterproductive. It does mean, however, that I think that in balance, on the larger scale, there may be a sacrifice of relatively significant gain for a method that doesn’t produce much meaningful gain.

    ==> “More importantly, how do those who want to align themselves with the scientific consensus get accurate information on where the consensus lies, in the presence of “there is no consensus” messaging, if we don’t provide information to counter that myth?”

    As I said, the methods I spoke of are not mutually exclusive with informing people about where the prevalence of expert opinion lies on the issue of climate change. However, the delivery of that information is one part of a larger, overall process, and is not really a goal in and of itself.

    In stakeholder dialogue or participatory democracy, a very deliberate process of providing stakeholders with “expert” information is a key component.

  62. Joshua says:

    Dikran –

    I screwed up this paragraph of my response to this:

    ==> “Consensus messaging may be counter-productive for some, but is necessary for others.”:

    –snip–

    First, I actually don’t think that it is particularly counter-productive (I think that is pretty much a myth. Those who react negatively to CM on climate change are already “identified” on the subject. The CM itself does not have much net impact, IMO, either positive or negative )

    –snip–

    Where I meant to add…. Second, even though I don’t think it is meaningfully counter-productive, I question whether it is “necessary,” as there are more ways to inform people about many aspects of the public policy implications of climate change, including the prevalence of shared opinion, than (at least I am referring to as) CM (perhaps we’d benefit from going all the way back to what we probably should have started with, defining “consensus-messaging?).

    Once more piece. Perhaps part of the problem comes from trying to discuss the issue of CM as if it stands in isolation. As I alluded to above, I don’t suggest that the public shouldn’t be informed about the prevalence of shared opinion among climate experts about the causes climate change and the potential risks of ACO2. Although in these discussion, it would perhaps seem (to some, anyway) that advocates of CM think that it is either sufficient to move the needle on public policy development or that it should stand in isolation from other efforts. I don’t happen to view what people are advocating for as being that. However, I am of the opinion that to the extent that informing people about the prevalence of shared opinion among experts on climate change is important (and I do think that it is of some importance) it should be only a rather small, if important, component of a larger approach. Perhaps more than anything else, it is the question of relative priority that differentiates my position from that of people who seem to be more “pro-CM.”

  63. Steven Mosher wrote: “Steve Mosher writes: “Choosing spokespeople. Here’s a clue. Gore is not a good choice.””

    And then wrote: “Note I never argued and would not argue that gore was chosen. “

    If the first statement doesn’t imply that Gore was chosen and that the choice was not a good one, then what was the point of writing the statement in the first place?

    Besides, it’s wrong on the merits. Gore was one of the few politicians aware of – much less interested in speaking out about – climate change issues going back to his days as a congressman in the 1970s. If someone had been selected Gore may have been the only real choice. When he became a senator and then vice-president you can’t ask for much larger public platforms from which to speak.

    Was Gore the ‘perfect’ spokesperson? That’s a different question. But I doubt you can come up with a better choice to cover the last 4 decades. Let’s not forget, “”Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.” — Ronald Reagan, 1981. That’s the atmosphere Gore was working in during the 70s and 80s. And it hasn’t really improved much on one side of the aisle since then – worse in many ways.

  64. Willard says:

    > Then again no mistakes were ever made in messaging climate change.

    Like not having chosen Al to use all his adipose powers to speak about AGW.

    It is sad that there was no smart person to have pulled Al aside to lukewarmingly ask him if he really thought that his fatness was helping, among other concerns that that smart person could lukewarmingly have raised.

  65. Joshua says:

    Perhaps we should enlarge Stevens advice.

    Choosing spokespeople. Her’s a clue. Fat people aren’t a good choice.

  66. Joshua says:

    I swear I didn’t read willard’s 6:08 before i posted my 6:09.

  67. Willard says:

    > [T]he methods I spoke of are not mutually exclusive with informing people about where the prevalence of expert opinion lies on the issue of climate change. However, the delivery of that information is one part of a larger, overall process, and is not really a goal in and of itself.

    Even Lew agrees with that:

    Still, Lewandowsky insists that it isn’t an all or nothing issue—in large part because there are so many different kinds of people out there to reach, not all of whom are dogged conservative ideologues. “I think underscoring the consensus is an arguably successful strategy for most people,” he says. “I also think reframing is a very important thing.”

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/10/inquiring-minds-kahan-lewandowsky-communicate-climate

    In fact, it would be interesting to see if anyone believes that CM is a goal in and of itself.

  68. For those who may not remember the late 70s or 80s or perhaps weren’t paying close attention, the Washington Post writes about the first congressional hearings on global warming:

    … in 1982, while in the House of Representatives, then-Rep. Al Gore (D-Tenn.) organized a hearing that for the first time featured the testimony of James E. Hansen, then head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Hansen in 2007 recalled that testimony, saying he told Congress that data indicated that the earth had warmed 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit over the previous century. Even earlier, in 1981, Gore (with Rep. James H. Scheuer of New York) arranged a hearing that featured the testimony of scientist Roger Revelle on global warming–which some experts peg as the first congressional hearing on climate change.

    Rafe Pomerance, in a chapter on the “public awakening” to climate warming in a 1989 book, “The Challenge of Global Warming,” highlights the Gore hearings, as well as 1986 hearings chaired by Sen. John Chafee (R-R.I.), as calling attention to the impact of greenhouse gases. The Chafee hearings “transformed the priority of the greenhouse issue, making it more important in policy discussions,” Pomerance wrote.

    Combine this with the fact Gore was the first Democratic congressman to appear on C-SPAN and it’s difficult to find someone better suited to lead on the issue that was willing to lead. John Chafee, who later wrote that “global warming is the great hoax of the 21st [century]”? I don’t think so.

  69. Steven Mosher,

    However a smart person would have pulled him aside and explained to him the difference between rallying those already politically aligned with him and convincing skeptics.

    You speak from the perspective of someone whose position has evolved because you looked at the science and the data AND correctly interpreted it. How many “sceptics” at WUWT have you convinced explaining the science? My count is zero so far as I know, but I’m not in the game to the extent you are.

    Let’s not forget Gore is a retired politician, and in politics one strategy that does work is to rally enough votes so as to overwhelm the other side. Some might call what he does Vilify and Conquer.

  70. John Mashey says:

    1) Would astrophysicists need to do consensus messaging if there was a wel-funded, marketing-savvy effort to cast doubt on this weird idea that stars are anything more than lights on a crystal sphere? Really, who’s visited another one? And this idea of exoplanets? People check that by looking up from their yards, and don’t see them. All this talk is just so these folks can be on the giant gravy train, and spend $ on gear so they don’t even have to work at night and sleep during the day. They’re as bad as thise climate scientists who get cushy vacations in garden spots like Greenland and Iceland. 🙂

    2) Seriously, the reason consensus messaging needs to be part of the equation is the pervasive manufacturing of doubt that started ~1990, especially in US, using:
    A) Coal $ (especially Western Fuels Association early, and Arch, Alpha, Peabody, Murray a bit later, still going on. In ongoing Minnesota Social Cost of Carbon case, Peabody witnesses spent many pages attackng the consensus, in 2015.)
    B) Oil $, especially from Exxon, but generally through API, and escalating in 1998 with the GCSCT plan for doubt creation.
    C) Much implemented through the Koch-fostered network of think tanks to provide pseudo-academic backup, plus US Chamber if Commerxe, and anti-science help from media like the Wall St Journal and Forbes, for example. The tobacco industry is well-entangled, including their expertise as best marketeers on Earth. It’s no accident Kochs hired longtime tobacco operative to run communications.

    Although strongest in US, there are close parallels in Australia, Canada, and UK, and the doubt entities are well-interconnected internationally.
    For example, see GWPF advisors, of whom 4 were witnesses for Peabody in MN SCC case… arguing for SCC zero or negative, ie CO2 should be subsidized until we hit 1.5-2C.

  71. angech says:

    John Mashey, you would not be here today without Big Oil and Big coal.
    In Australia you would fit the Doctors wives stereotype!

    If coal runs my computer so I can blog and oil runs my car so I can go to the supermarket and buy food and clothing [all produced, transported and refrigerated by oil and coal], I want them.
    I think?
    The next generations?
    Tough.
    If alternatives can do it, great.
    And yes, I have kids.
    All green unfortunately.
    As in the sense of thinking practically.
    I’m green. To repeat, If alternatives can do it, great.
    How many other solar paneled, push bike riders here anyway.

  72. angech,

    The next generations?
    Tough.
    If alternatives can do it, great.
    And yes, I have kids.
    All green unfortunately.

    Consider the possibility that your kids inherited a sense of self-preservation from somewhere.

    I’m green.

    How unfortunate.

    To repeat, If alternatives can do it, great.

    One good way to find out IF something can be done is to stop speculating and start doing.

  73. angech says:

    I write some silly stuff at times, Brandon.
    I was wanting to take John up on a point on the previous blog and I just got all emotional.
    “Consider the possibility that your kids inherited a sense of self-preservation from somewhere.”
    Their mom.
    What I was trying to get over was the idea that a lot of the good stuff we have and our ability to make matters better comes from sources we now denigrate.
    A bit like a wealthy person looking back on his ancestors who did the hard work and now it is beneath them.
    We should not knock what we had to do to get where we are but accept it.
    Yes we can do better, I do my bit when I can afford to, but I do not believe in lowering standards of living en masse.

  74. angech,

    I write some silly stuff at times, Brandon.

    Man after my own heart.

    Their mom.

    lol. I almost wrote it: “Consider the possibility your kids get their sense of self-preservation from their mother.” Thing is they almost certainly got that trait from both of you — it’s pretty much a universal feature of every living thing on this rock.

    What I was trying to get over was the idea that a lot of the good stuff we have and our ability to make matters better comes from sources we now denigrate.

    Which drives “Greens” like me nuts because — strictly speaking for myself — it’s a strawman. When I do perchance take a potshot at the fossil fuel industry, it’s at the people running the industry, not the evident utility of their products. And I do mean running — not the rank and file folks doing the drilling, extraction, refining and distribution. I don’t want to put people out of business, I want put them into a *better* business which offers the same societal benefits at a reduced *overall* cost.

    Way I see it, to the extent that fossil fuel execs, boards of directors and their lobbyists are attempting to milk every last buck out of sequestered carbon for their *own* primary benefit is not something that I as a general member of society can abide. I’d rather get them to knock it off by offering carrots, but if it needs to be the stick, the stick they shall get.

    Yes we can do better, I do my bit when I can afford to, but I do not believe in lowering standards of living en masse.

    We agree. I’ll hazard a guess that I’m not the only “Green” who *also* agrees with *both* of us.

    And hey, I get emotional too. You know this.

  75. Steven Mosher says:

    “You speak from the perspective of someone whose position has evolved because you looked at the science and the data AND correctly interpreted it. How many “sceptics” at WUWT have you convinced explaining the science? My count is zero so far as I know, but I’m not in the game to the extent you are.”

    Recap time

    A) more information — edumacate yourself stupid
    B) everyone else likes chocolate — all the cool scientists like it
    C) the conversion story — he once was skeptic
    D) Expulsion stories– you go to hell idiot denier
    E) Orange looks bad on you — can you spell RICO?
    F) Its really in your interest to believe

    These are the available strategies IF your goal is convincing skeptics.
    So I tried A, and failed.
    Why? Well that gets to the question of speaker. Here is what I found.

    To do “A”, you need at least a couple elements: political alignment ( im a libertarian, a climate gate author and a Glieck buster ). You also need unquestionable credentials.
    Of course I dont have them. The spin I try is “hey its so basic even an english major can get it”. I cant do “A” that effectively. Too many counter shots.

    “B” I have my own version of B.. well its not my version.. I stole it. Its basically “Fine, go prove me wrong and win a nobel prize” which tacit relies on the consensus.. This doesnt work to convince folks however in my experience,

    “C” I like a lot. I know Muller has had success with it

    “D” warning stories works best if they come from religious folks or military or Insurance folks

    “E” If you know the law you can do this

    F… I need to think about

    I need to add G

    G: “here is why I believe”

    I have done this one.. Its the “testimonial” approach.

    So basically I would suggest that people look at the strategies and ask themselves which one they can execute the best.. There are of course retorts to all of the them. I like “A” where I have expertise on the subject, and otherwise I choose “G”

  76. re. polarization:
    Over on Twitter, Andy Skuce pats himself on the back for having got the back up of “a Trump supporter” with the 97% consensus paper.

    In other words, instead of lamenting the failure of communication, one of originators of the 97% meme happily accepts the reinforcement of the climate divide between political parties.

    With Trump now leading in the polls and US climate policy done largely through executive order, the prospect of a reversal of the Obama climate policy is real.

  77. Willard says:

    > I do not believe in lowering standards of living en masse.

    You might need to restore your faith:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/06/09/why-the-very-poor-have-become-poorer/

  78. Richard,

    Over on Twitter, Andy Skuce pats himself on the back for having got the back up of “a Trump supporter” with the 97% consensus paper.

    No, over on Twitter, Andy was mocking an article that not only misrepresents the paper, but that also claimed that the 97% paper has changed the Western World. It’s a stupid suggestion and deserves to be mocked.

    In other words, instead of lamenting the failure of communication, one of originators of the 97% meme happily accepts the reinforcement of the climate divide between political parties.

    Tell you what, why you don’t you try to behave as if you’re remotely interested in reducing the divide and I might take your pearly clutching more seriously. Had a chance to check that trivially obvious error yet?

  79. WordPress doesn’t like .gifs I guess:

    [Source]

  80. @wotts
    Read it into it what you like. Breitbart took Cook 2013, turned it upside down, and used it as a stick to beat Greens with. That’s not good for a communication strategy. And Andy took this “as a compliment”.

  81. Richard,

    Read it into it what you like. Breitbart took Cook 2013, turned it upside down, and used it as a stick to beat Greens with.

    As if that’s a surprise, coming from Breitbart.

    That’s not good for a communication strategy.

    No, it was simply fundamentally dishonest. That you would somehow blame Cook et al. for the dishonest behaviour of the Breitbart reporter is no great surprise.

    And Andy took this “as a compliment”.

    No, he didn’t. Seriously, you can’t be this dense.

  82. Richard,
    I’ll grant you something. Given that we’re dealing with a situation in which many are quite comfortable taking something out of context and then using it in a dishonest manner to score some kind of point, Andy’s tweet was probably unwise. On the other hand, it has – once again – provided a good illutstration of where you stand on this issue and what you’re willing to do to score a point against a paper, the result of which you don’t like.

  83. @wotts
    That’s the whole point, isn’t it? Consensus messaging is preaching to the converted, as is nonsensus messaging. It reinforces political positions, but does not convince anyone to switch from brown to green. That’s Kahan’s point.

  84. Richard,
    Firstly, that’s vastly different from “it’s toxic and polarising” though. Secondly, given that we’re clearly dealing with some – who you seem comfortable excusing – who will represent it dishonestly, it’s not obvious what strategy could be used to counter that. Imagine what could be achieved if people like yourself and Kahan acknowledged the consensus, rather than continually attacking it?

  85. Steven Mosher,

    Recap time

    Yup, read that one. I thought the convo had moved on from that …

    These are the available strategies IF your goal is convincing skeptics.

    Keeping in mind I perhaps inserted myself into this one with too little continuity, my goal isn’t convincing “sceptics”. I’ve done everything but: B) everyone else likes chocolate — all the cool scientists like it

    Undecided real sceptics … I don’t know many. If I did, I’d go with, G: “here is why I believe” When I’m not clobbering obviously disingenuous rabble-rousers, that’s pretty much the main one I run, with a healthy dose of F) “Its really in your interest to believe” and as much “A) more information” as I could muster.

    I’ve said before, here and elsewhere that I’m not convinced messaging is the reason more hasn’t been done sooner. Documentary I was watching last night that heavily featured these guys called the issue a “lack of political will”.

    “I) Lead and people will follow” is pretty much where I am these days. Talk is cheap. I only do it because it’s mostly all I’ve got to offer. I can only begin to imagine how pissed off Hansen is.

  86. @wotts
    Let’s go back to education. Do you want to teach that 2+2=4 to those who know, or to those who don’t?

    Here, those who don’t know are not only not reached, but they are actually challenging Peano.

  87. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Joshua wrote ” I’m thinking that when you say “this,” you aren’t really referring to the use of CM specifically, but more generally to why there is division in what people believe about climate change/how people orient towards policies to address climate change?”

    yes, the point being that whether someone is resistant to consensus messaging may not be so much to do with cultural/tribal issues as simply because they personally are in denial about the effect of their lifestyle on others. Naturally they don’t want to give up their lifestyle, but being basically good people don’t want to feel that they are behaving in an uncaring manner towards others. There is a number of ways you can deal with this, one is denial, in which case if someone gives you a reason to discard some information you will take it (probably not consciously).

    “Going with that, then from your cultural frame, do you think that people on one side of the great climate change divide (“realists”) are generally more prone/comfortable with/inclined towards towards sacrificing personally for the sake of benefiting others, as compared to those on the other side (“skeptics”) who are less likely to value such sacrifice? I’m guessing that you don’t think that is a general characteristic, in which case then,”

    This is only one part of a much more complex story. All things being otherwise equal, then yes those who have a sacrificing personality are less likely to be in denial about climate change simply because this lessens the internal conflict. However, there are other issues that may be more important for some, for instance, some people are just more rational than others and would find ignoring valid information goes against the grain. Likewise some people are naturally contrary (blogs provide excellent evidence of this, there are plenty of people who can’t accept the majority view on almost any issue).

    “I’d wonder how you explain the difference in why “realists” would be more willing to make such sacrifice in the case of climate change than “skeptics” if there isn’t a tribal/identity association.”

    Peoples personalities are more plastic than that (and stochastic ;o). I am very different to my siblings, even though we share a lot of our background, for example. I think it is important to point out I am not saying that “realists” are more moral/ethical than “skeptics” because I don’t think it is true, just better at rationally dealing with their valuations. Indeed, if people didn’t care about the needs of others, then there would be no conflict and they would just take an “I’m alright Jack” attitude towards those who are affected by their fossil fuel use. We are affected by our culture, but not determined by it.

  88. Richard,
    Maybe you can explain how – in an educational setting – I could teach people that 2+2 = 4 without telling them that 2+2 = 4. It also seems as though you’re arguing for some kind of safe space; don’t present anything that might challenge people’s pre-conceived views, or be at odds with their cultural norms.

  89. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard wrote “Consensus messaging is preaching to the converted”

    No, of course it isn’t, if you read Cook et al (2013) you will find it is intended to address the “consensus gap”, which is largely due (IMHO) to misinformation from climate skeptics claiming that there is no consensus and false-balance in the media, and is very obviously the “unconverted” but not actually “skeptic”, just those wanting the information.

    You still haven’t told us who is excluded from the debate by consensus messaging.

  90. You still haven’t told us who is excluded from the debate by consensus messaging.

    Based on Richard’s most recent comment, it would seem to be similar to those, who in a maths class, would refuse to accept that 2+2 = 4.

  91. @wotts
    Don’t ask me. I’m reasonably experienced at teaching young adults. I’m largely clueless about teaching young children.

  92. Richard,
    Then why did you introduce that as an example?

  93. Marco says:

    “Let’s go back to education. Do you want to teach that 2+2=4 to those who know, or to those who don’t?”

    Consensus messaging works for those who don’t yet know that 2+2 = 4, but happily accept this is the case when they hear this is the prevailing ‘opinion’.

    Consensus messaging may even work for some who have actually already decided that 2+2 =/ 4, possibly based on the opinion of someone they trust, as not everyone can live with the perpetual cognitive dissonance of accepting consensus science in many fields, and rejecting it in one. It does require those people to go through the tough process of having to accept they trusted someone who they shouldn’t trust.

    I don’t think consensus messaging works for those who have decided that 2+2 =/ 4, and have looked for people that hold the same opinion, and trust them *because* they hold that same opinion. Those people are in my opinion unreachable by any communication strategy, and at the same time the one’s most likely to complain about consensus messaging as “toxic”. After all, being put outside a consensus is not always very comfortable. Sure, some relish being the odd one out, but human nature in general is one of fitting in with the crowd.

  94. Dikran Marsupial says:

    ATTP So that we are impressed that Richard has heard of Peano? ;o)

    Richard wrote “Here, those who don’t know are not only not reached, but they are actually challenging Peano.”

    This is of course wrong as consensus messaging is not aimed at those that already are aware of the consensus, nor skeptics (those who would challenge Peano) but those who are unaware of the level of consensus or those that have been misled by skeptics or by false balance in media reporting.

  95. angech says:

    Giuseppe Peano
    “Questions that pertain to the foundations of mathematics, although treated by many in recent times, still lack a satisfactory solution”.
    Carl Sagan ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again.

    Kahan may be right about the paper but not about the consensus message that the paper tried to be part of.
    I’m sure it is better to focus on the message.
    Attempts to repair or explain the paper were and are leading to quite convoluted positions,whereas the statement re consensus was quite simple.

  96. angech,
    Which paper are you talking about? If the VLFM paper, then the authors haven’t even responded yet to Kahan’s criticism, which currently includes a suggestion that they were being intentionally misleading

    Actually, I think the SEM is actually really really unusual for experiment like this & should be tipoff that something is wrong, that likely something is being obscured in way you said.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d have assumed that Kahan was simply someone with a blog.

  97. izen says:

    Discussion of the epistemological meta status and pragmatic efficiency of consensus messaging can come to resemble Angel/Pinhead ratio analysis. The message has no independent qualities, it only makes ‘sense’ in the historical context of the source and recipients. (Re; Mashey and 30+ yrs of anti-consensus doubt messaging).
    It is especially surreal when it attracts Dickensian contributions.

  98. izen says:

    @-“You still haven’t told us who is excluded from the debate by consensus messaging.”

    In the absence of any coherent answer to the target of this question… here is an incoherent one.

    Consensus messaging excludes those who are unwilling or resistant to the appeal to social conformity, the coercion to follow recognised authority. Some may receive consensus messaging as information from which they can deduce something about the weight of scientific evidence behind a theory. But others (otters?) may decode it as a blatant appeal to scientific authority.

    Consensus messaging also seems to depend on an underlying assumption that the participants are empty vessels awaiting information. Any misconceptions about the world just the result of a ‘knowledge deficit’. Convey the information that scientific authoritys all agree that … 2+2=4 and the force of social conformity will cause the conversion of that inform\ation into knowledge, perhaps even wisdom about the ‘true’ view of science.

    As Joshua points out there is a tribal element, consensus messaging is intended to exclude those that reject the consensus, not persuade them, just as it is used by those that reject it as a flag of their tribal [allegiance]. That is the underlying dynamic of the Briebart article. And of this recent contribution to the debate of the climatic effects of anthropogenic trace gasses. The context, a speech to coal minors adds extra irony…

    Trump, May 5: Give me a little spray. … You know you’re not allowed to use hairspray anymore because it affects the ozone, you know that, right? I said, you mean to tell me, cause you know hairspray’s not like it used to be, it used to be real good. … Today you put the hairspray on, it’s good for 12 minutes, right. … So if I take hairspray and I spray it in my apartment, which is all sealed, you’re telling me that affects the ozone layer? “Yes.” I say no way folks. No way. No way. That’s like a lot of the rules and regulations you people have in the mines, right, it’s the same kind of stuff.

  99. Joshua says:

    Izen –

    Thanks for the Trump quote. A work of art and a thing of beauty, that.

    Maybe Steven will hilariously try to defend ity.

  100. @izen
    Correct.

    (Trump is wrong, of course, unless the room will be sealed forever. Nice picture: Trump and his hairspray sealed in a room together.)

  101. Mark - Helsinki says:

    Bit late but better than never, maybe now you will stop gong about bandying the “denier” label too?

    I believe there is a subtle shift to “doubter” but that shift is political due to the obvious resistance to the religious connotation “denier”.

    Is this a tacit admission that consensus is actually meaningless. Especially a false consensus like Cook et al

    A false consensus like that and the cultural encroachment it resulted in only created more doubt, mainly because those casting the consensus line for the most part are those who only speak of the science in the abstract sense, the auld appeal to authority.

    I find it amazing that you “as a scientist” used the term denier. It has only served to make you look like a zealot who was unwilling to accept any doubt in a field that is full of doubt in the actual science, advertised or not the doubt and uncertainty is there.

    The environmentalist campaign to relate different views to oil money has fallen well and truly flat on it’s 4rse at this stage, with the RICO collapse an epic failure of propaganda and politics. To deny this is true is true denial, not denial with religiously connotation, actual denial, those tactics have caused a push back among logically thinking people.

    Now all need is you scientists getting together and speaking out about the nonsense the media and politicians say, if I see that, all doubt I have about the intentions of some will fall by the wayside. Too many things without any empiricism to it have been attached to the AGW theory and it only hurts you scientists

    Anyhoo, on with the science.

    Peace

  102. Mark,

    I find it amazing that you “as a scientist” used the term denier.

    Who are you referring to here and how is “denier” religious?

    Especially a false consensus like Cook et al

    Huh? So do you dispute that a vaste majority of the published literature accepts that humans are causing global warming?

    Now all need is you scientists getting together and speaking out about the nonsense the media and politicians say, if I see that, all doubt I have about the intentions of some will fall by the wayside.

    You’re responsible for your own doubt.

  103. Mark - Helsinki says:

    Consensus messaging excludes those who are unwilling or resistant to the appeal to social conformity, the coercion to follow recognised authority. Some may receive consensus messaging as information from which they can deduce something about the weight of scientific evidence behind a theory. But others (otters?) may decode it as a blatant appeal to scientific authority.
    ____________________________________
    Consensus means nothing in terms of validation of theory, if one doesn’t understand the science, they can have no meaningful opinion on the science (including me as I am not a scientist) We can have an opinion but for all those who cannot work on the problem, our opinions are irrelevant, and so is consensus.

    Appeals to authority as as useful to science as consensus. Useless. Consensus is an inherent danger to science because it can hold science back if the majority have the wrong idea. It is only useful in looking at a direction the science may take, or a choice you make in what you wish to research, no scientist will research flat earth no matter how much consensus there is by scientists who dont have the prerequisite skills and experience and data.

    While I am willing to have an opinion and share it, we must realise we (non scientists who dont work the problem) are just spewing wind, this includes scientists who don’t work in the areas of expertise that matter to the problem and of course the complete unchallenged nonsense claims politicians come out with.

    I lean one way because of what I have read, but I am also willing to challenge every opinion I have, some like me require a certain level of certainty, actual certainty, not the significant obfuscated uncertainty prevalent in the science today, an example was using aerosols (a completely unknown quantity) as a point of rebuttal. NASA have said the question is highly uncertain, yet it has been used as a point of “fact” for years

  104. Mark - Helsinki says:

    ATTP, because all those papers were not AGW science. Have you actually gone through the papers mate, hardly any of them pertained to the core question, so many were “if then” studies, assuming AGW validated, when it actually hasn’t been validated, scientifically (this is not to say it is wrong)

    I cant claim AGW is invalid, and I am not 100% certain of any opinion I have, how could any logical person be certain at this point, it could not be merited.

    The search should be for the scientific truth, not whether temp goes up or down, but why, surely you agree

  105. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Mark wrote “I find it amazing that you “as a scientist” used the term denier. It has only served to make you look like a zealot who was unwilling to accept any doubt in a field that is full of doubt in the actual science, advertised or not the doubt and uncertainty is there.”

    I have to say, there is more than just a little irony in this paragraph.

    a field that is full of doubt in the actual science

    This is not actually true, there is very little reason to doubt the basic facts, e.g. that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, or that climate sensitivity is in the range given by the IPCC WG1 report, that the rise in CO2 is due to our emissions etc. Of course there is uncertainty in the details, but that is true of all science.

  106. Mark - Helsinki says:

    We have all become far too divided over this, and people have literally hate towards each other, when they dont know the first thing about each other. It’s insane

  107. Mark - Helsinki says:

    “This is not actually true, there is very little reason to doubt the basic facts, e.g. that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, or that climate sensitivity is in the range given by the IPCC WG1 report, that the rise in CO2 is due to our emissions etc. Of course there is uncertainty in the details, but that is true of all science.”

    We KNOW Co2 is GHG, we dont understand what the climate should be doing without the rise in emissions, we are working on it and there is much scientific uncertainty of not uncertain scientists, there is a difference.

    The consensus included all of the WG2 work, which is invalid in a consensus because it assumes something is true

  108. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Mark wrote “Consensus means nothing in terms of validation of theory”

    no, and nobody claims it does.

  109. Mark,
    I think you’re confusing “consensus study” with “attribution study”. Cook et al. was not trying to show that AGW is true or that the science is correct. It was simply trying to illustrate the level of agreement within the literature. There is a difference. And, yes, I have gone through a reasonable number of the abstracts that were included.

    You still haven’t answered my question about who used “denier”. You seem to be implying that I did, but I don’t think I did.

    We have all become far too divided over this, and people have literally hate towards each other, when they dont know the first thing about each other.

    And many seem to have prejudged people without actually putting much effort into actually working out what they really think.

  110. Dikran Marsupial says:

    izen wrote “Consensus messaging excludes those who are unwilling or resistant to the appeal to social conformity, the coercion to follow recognised authority.”

    No, they are not excluded by consensus messaging, they are just resistant to it, that is not the same thing.

  111. Mark - Helsinki says:

    I am not disappearing, I have to walk the dog and cook dinner for the kids, but I will be back to steal an arnie term, it is an interesting blog article I hope to contribute more to.

    later folks.

  112. @mark
    Careful there. In Western Europe, climate skepsis is a position of the populist right (UKIP, AfD, True Finns, …). In the USA and Australia, it is the position of the mainstream right. The consensus is better understood in a US political context than in a European one.

    In my view, the 97% has served to harden, rather than shift, the debate — although it has also helped to bring identity politics to the UK through the antics of the Guardian.

  113. Richard,
    The irony of your comments are just remarkable. Everything is the fault of others. I actually find it juvenile: “it wasn’t me, it wasn’t me, it was them, it was them”.

  114. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard, so in your own words, please tell us who has been excluded by consensus messaging?

  115. Joshua says:

    izen –

    ==> “As Joshua points out there is a tribal element, consensus messaging is intended to exclude those that reject the consensus, not persuade them, just as it is used by those that reject it as a flag of their tribal intelligence. ”

    Just to be clear, that suggests (perhaps) an extension of my view to be broader than what it actually is.

    I think that there is an element of tribalism, but wouldn’t say that consensus messaging is “intended” to exclude…so I don’t fully share your perspective there.

    Somewhat related to that point, it strikes me that one of the issues here is the question of a potential distinction between “consensus messaging” and “simply” communicating that there is an “overwhelmingly” (to use Richard Tol’s term) shared perspective on the attribution of recent climate change in the expert literature.

    For my part, at least, “consensus-messaging” contains an element that goes beyond simple conveying of information, and refers to an explicit effort to use information to affect policy outcomes. To make matters more complicated, I suspect that drawing some clear line between conveying and “messaging” is inherently difficult.

  116. Joshua says:

    ==> “. In the USA and Australia, it is the position of the mainstream right. ”

    In the U.S., there seems to be a pretty clear, positive association between strength of “skepticism” and degree of rightwingism. The “mainstream right” in the U.S. is notably less “skeptical” than the Tea Partiers, for example.

  117. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    ==> “In my view, the 97% has served to harden, rather than shift, the debate ”

    What evidence do you use to reach that conclusion?

  118. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Joshua wrote “For my part, at least, “consensus-messaging” contains an element that goes beyond simple conveying of information, and refers to an explicit effort to use information to affect policy outcomes.”

    The same could be said of any communication of climate science.

  119. Joshua says:

    Dikran –

    ==> “The same could be said of any communication of climate science.”

    Sure. Although I think that the “explicit” part is more of a direct focus with “consensus-messaging” as again, along a continuum, “consensus-messaging” is less directly about “science” than, say, communicating about Arctic ice.

  120. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    ==> “In my view, the 97% has served to harden, rather than shift, the debate — although it has also helped to bring identity politics to the UK through the antics of the Guardian.

    Indeed, there’s just no overestimating how far the counterproductive impact of “consensus-messaging” extends.

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/05/22/world/europe/europe-right-wing-austria-hungary.html

    🙂

  121. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Joshua, the difference is more that sea ice is communication of the science itself, whereas studies of consensus are about science. Of course if the consensus were not policy relevant information, nobody would be talking about it, but then again arctic sea ice would not receive the public attention that it does if it were not also policy relevant. I suspect that there are plenty of scientists that work on climate do so because it is policy relevant and want to do work that is of benefit to society. The point is that there is that the policy relevance of the consensus is exactly why the information provided is valuable, so it seems odd for that to be an implied criticism of it!

  122. Joshua says:

    Dikran –

    ==> ” The point is that there is that the policy relevance of the consensus is exactly why the information provided is valuable, so it seems odd for that to be an implied criticism of it!”

    To be clear, I am not implying criticism because it is policy relevant or policy targeted.

    I am trying to lay my perspective on the terminology, something that you and I have discussed is important.

    It occurred to me that you and I might have been working from somewhat different definitions of CM, and so I’m working with that. In my view, CM is not so much the simple communication or simple science communication, i.e., along two parallel continua, CM is more towards policy-oriented messaging, less directly simple communication about, or of, science.

  123. Mark – Helsinki,

    Consensus means nothing in terms of validation of theory, if one doesn’t understand the science, they can have no meaningful opinion on the science (including me as I am not a scientist)

    I don’t understand a much about the Theory of Gravity, but do understand that there’s a consensus about its effects. To date, my best attempts to be sceptical of it have not caused me to levitate.

  124. Willard says:

    > if one doesn’t understand the science, they can have no meaningful opinion on the science (including me as I am not a scientist)

    Of course “they” can have an opinion that is somehow meaningful:

    [T]he UKIP man didn’t take the time to hit back and instead joked about the “North Korean” SNP’s climate change policy adding that warmer weather would make Scotland a better holiday destination.

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14451159.Watch__David_Coburn_hits_out_at__North_Korean__SNP_in_interview_with_Gary_the_Tank_Commander/

    No scientist really understands the science, by the way. It’s just too much for a single person. The same applies to auditing amateurs even if they may have more Internet time than the average scientist.

    We’re all in it together, and we need to rely on one another. Up to a point, of course.

  125. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “if one doesn’t understand the science, they can have no meaningful opinion on the science (including me as I am not a scientist)”

    I wonder what people who don’t themselves understand the science should do, perhaps they should be guided by the experts who do understand the science. If only there were surveys that show us where mainstream scientific opinion actually lies on the basic issues… ;o)

  126. Marco says:

    I wonder why Richard Tol participated in the Copenhagen Consensus, considering his claims that consensus messaging is toxic.

  127. It was founded before 2013?

  128. izen says:

    @-Dikran Marsupial
    “No, they are not excluded by consensus messaging, they are just resistant to it, that is not the same thing.”
    @-Joshua
    “I think that there is an element of tribalism, but wouldn’t say that consensus messaging is “intended” to exclude…so I don’t fully share your perspective there.”

    Joshua, I did not intend to impute that expansion of the effect of tribalism was also your POV.
    There is distinction of intentionality, but a similarity of outcome.

    Trump and his supporters clearly intend to reject the mainstream scientific consensus. It is not an accident of knowledge deficit. They have actively resisted the siren call of – “but 97% of all…”. They are most likely to decode any information about the statements of agreement by scientific authorities, or news of studies of the research literature as attempts to indoctrinate and coerce, not inform.

    But then it is difficult to characterise all the reporting in a source like the Guardian as being entirely intended to inform and completely innocent of any intent to define tribal boundaries, with the Trumpites definitely relegated to the ‘other side’.

    However the internal details of culpable motivations and dubious intentions result in a common end result. The exclusion of those unable or unwilling to concede to current mainstream scientific understanding of an issue.
    Telling Young Earth Creationists that there is a scientific consensus on the age of the Universe and the evolution of humans is unsurprisingly ineffective. They defer to an authority that Trumps the scientific.

    [Typo corrected. -W]

  129. Willard says:

    > It was founded before 2013?

    More than a decade earlier, BrandonG:

    The following timeline gives a historical overview of our work.

    2002 – Establishment of Environmental Assessment Institute. Bjorn Lomborg, now-President and Director of Copenhagen Consensus Center was the Institute’s first Director. The Institute is an independent body of the Danish government which provides economic and environmental cost-benefit analyses.

    http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/our-story

    I rather like the wording: “an independent body of the Danish government.” It could mean it was a body of the Danish government, but an independent one. It could mean it’s an independent body from the government, i.e. a think tank. The ambiguity is delightful.

    An example of an environmental cost-benefit analysis would be nice too.

  130. Dikran Marsupial says:

    izen, I don’t see any response to my comment there, is something missing?

  131. Steven Mosher says:

    “We have all become far too divided over this, and people have literally hate towards each other, when they dont know the first thing about each other. It’s insane”

    Too funny.

    Mark. Go read your comments at WUWT. If you persist in accusing people of fraud they will not let you get to know them

  132. Steven Mosher says:

    ATTP

    Steven,
    No doubt many mistakes have been made. Personally, I’m unconvinced that anyone actually knows what the best strategy should be.

    Time to Recap.

    I like reading Willard and Joshua and Dikran.. you too. What I most liked about what you wrote was the sense of honest struggle. I get that from Dikran as well.

    Willard and Joshua dont have the same struggle.

    How I view it. I dont think there is “a best strategy” I tend to be an experimentalist. So I try things
    and observe the results as best I can. Sometimes that means I try crazy things. When youve played the lines of an argument so many times.. it gets boring… There are several strategies and I would encourage folks to try them on for size. There are certain lines I will rarely play.. I really dont like the consensus line. Why? Its utterly personal. I’m not a joiner by nature. And the consensus Line is really played best by joiners. I dont like the line because I suck at it.

    Its also really important to note that we enter these lines, usually, after RATIONAL DISCOURSE has failed. The science has been explained. Its been documented, tested, retested, pushed prodded, challenged.. The case has been explained, completely and rationally. Not perfectly but the case, the rational case, has been made. Folks should be accepting it.
    but they are not, some are not.

    On my view then we are asking the question “How best to convince the less than rational folks out there” There I said it. How do you convince the stupid? Understand all communication is about the control of behavior and in the end words dont always work to change behavior. Putting a sign at the corner that says STOP, doesnt necessarily make a driver stop. People run stop signs.
    Pointing at the sign again may help. Telling them that most people stop, may help. Showing them movies of traffic accidents.. may work, tickets may stop them..or not!

    Here are some choices

    A) more information — Just keep explaining
    Keys to success: Stick to your knitting. Dont try to explain stuff you have no expertise in.
    B) The Consensus
    keys to success: humility. The message is basically, Im not a scientist I have to rely on
    the best science.

    C) Conversion —
    The keys to success: have a true story
    D) Danger themes–
    Keys to success: Be person whose job it is to protect others ( military, religious, insurance, doctor)
    E) Legal danger
    Keys to success: legal standing and understanding
    F) Self interest: hmm I still need time to explore this
    G) Testimonial
    Keys to success: actually be able to state why you believe

    Understand that these are not strictly speaking scientific appeals. ( except for A)We are in some sense past that. In some sense the appeal to science has failed with these folks. ‘A” and “B”
    I would think just recapitulate the science appeal in other clothes. Sometimes a change in clothes can sell the idea.

    There are other things to: Inviting high profile skeptics to “join” an effort or paper enhances strategies A B and C and then G

    Finally what works for you as a scientist may not work for a non scientist. Put another way I dont think praticing scientists will be the best ones to use Strategy B. You dont believe because there is a consensus. A consensus exists because people like you believe on rational grounds.
    Every working scientist can do ‘A” and “G”

  133. Steven Mosher says:

    Joshua

    ‘Izen –

    Thanks for the Trump quote. A work of art and a thing of beauty, that.

    Maybe Steven will hilariously try to defend ity.
    ########################################

    It is pure genius
    Here is what you dont get.
    How does a billionaire connect to coal miners?
    Trump knows how. he does it perfectly.
    You keep focusing on the intellectual content of his words. His followers do not.
    That is why he connects with people and you do not.

    I remember watching the apprentice, probably the last american TV show I watched. I absolutely hated the guy. The way he walked and talked and treated people. he was wrong
    about so much. demonstrably wrong misguided, horrible. But. I watched. Same with Howard Stern. Same with Rush Limbaugh. Savage, Levin.

    Not voting for him in case you wonder.

  134. Steven Mosher says:

    One in wisconsin

    ‘If the first statement doesn’t imply that Gore was chosen and that the choice was not a good one, then what was the point of writing the statement in the first place?”

    Simple: Absent rigorous guidelines on who TO choose, I suggest excluding certain types of people.

    Not that hard to understand unless you have a vested interest.

  135. John Mashey says:

    Trump certainly accepts clinate science, at least at his golf course.

  136. Joshua says:

    steven –

    ==> “Here is what you dont get….[…]…”

    Yeah, well, I do the best I can with what I’ve got. If I were as smart or wise or insightful as you, I’d realize as you do that Trump crafts an image to appeal to an audience, as would, say, other media figures such as Limbaugh, Howard Stern, etc.

    Oh…wait…

    Me: –snip– “…but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t crafting an image to attract people. Of course he is. Many are very attracted to his name-calling and fear-mongering and because he presents a nice simple solution to complicated problems. But that’s all part of the stagecraft.” –snip–

    You: –snip– “You still dont get it.” –snip–

  137. BBD says:

    It is pure genius
    Here is what you dont get.
    How does a billionaire connect to coal miners?
    Trump knows how. he does it perfectly.
    You keep focusing on the intellectual content of his words. His followers do not.
    That is why he connects with people and you do not.

    Unfortunately, science communication really isn’t in a position to piss all over the truth and strut and bellow like a right-wing demagogue.

  138. Steven,

    How I view it. I dont think there is “a best strategy” I tend to be an experimentalist. So I try things
    and observe the results as best I can.

    Indeed, and I think this is typically a good strategy. It’s probably one reason I find Kahan’s critiques annoying. Firstly, I don’t think he’s convincingly shown that it is ineffective. He also wavers between ineffetive and toxic/polarising. And, if he thinks he knows a better strategy, then get out there and try it. At its most fundamental level, people are trying to inform (there is a strong consensus) and understand if telling people this changes their perception of the level of agreement (is it effective). Of course some people do misuse this, but then I think one has to distinguish between those who are trying to inform and those who are actively trying to influence.

    Put another way I dont think praticing scientists will be the best ones to use Strategy B. You dont believe because there is a consensus. A consensus exists because people like you believe on rational grounds.
    Every working scientist can do ‘A” and “G”

    Yes, that’s why I think if scientists want to stick with simply communicating the science, they should feel free to do so. However, they should maybe recognise that it isn’t the only possible strategy and that others may want to try something else.

  139. Joshua says:

    Izen –

    ==> “I did not intend to impute that expansion of the effect of tribalism was also your POV.”

    Yeah, that’s why I added “perhaps.”

    ==> “But then it is difficult to characterise all the reporting in a source like the Guardian as being entirely intended to inform and completely innocent of any intent to define tribal boundaries, with the Trumpites definitely relegated to the ‘other side’…[…]…However the internal details of culpable motivations and dubious intentions result in a common end result. The exclusion of those unable or unwilling to concede to current mainstream scientific understanding of an issue.”

    Part of the distinction that I am making is that drawing tribal boundaries is not one and the same as trying to exclude others. There’s a lot of overlap, and in the end yes, I will readily acknowledge that the distinction probably isn’t very important (I’m being somewhat pedantic) …but saying that “they” are different from “us” and trying to leverage tribal allegiance to influence policy development isn’t the same as intending to “exclude” others from the discussion or from the right of influence in policy development.

    I tend to rankle at the added self-victimization of people claiming that someone’s trying to “exclude” them from the discussion, trying to infringe on their free speech, trying to exclude them from policy development, etc. Especially because many of the self-victimizers point the finger at others and brand them with a “victimhood culture” (a frequent refrain in the “skept-o-sphere”).

  140. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    You seem to repeat this:

    ==> “And, if he thinks he knows a better strategy, then get out there and try it.”

    Now I’m not going to defend Kahan’s attitude in how he presents his views on the question of “consensus-messaging” (As I have told him, I find the whole righteous outrage stance commonplace and boring – of a sort I read from Willis or Judith or other “skeptics” ubiquitously – as well as ironically counterproductive or at least not something that likely advances towards his stated goals of improved science communication), but I do think that he is pretty active in pursuing alternative strategies. I’ve mentioned that a couple of times….but you seem to disagree?

  141. Joshua,

    but I do think that he is pretty active in pursuing alternative strategies. I’ve mentioned that a couple of times….but you seem to disagree?

    Okay, I may simply not be aware of what he promotes as an alternative as I’ve mainly seen him be highly critical of consensus messaging. Happy to be corrected. I think I just have an issue when people seem to focus more on criticising what others are doing, than simply trying to do something better themselves.

  142. Joshua says:

    ==> “I suggest excluding certain types of people. Not that hard to understand unless you have a vested interest.”

    Fat people, in particular.

    Ironic that steven is suggesting “excluding” people as a specific strategy.

    There is no end to the list of people that would have to be excluded given the approach of “skeptics” who, again ironically, have a “vested interest,” i.e., tribalistic ideology as per “motivated reasoning.”

    Katherine Hayhoe was mentioned above. Richard Alley. Kerry Emmanual. Bob Inglis:

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/495/hot-in-my-backyard?act=2

    All would need to be excluded.

  143. Joshua says:

    ==> “I think I just have an issue when people seem to focus more on criticising what others are doing, than simply trying to do something better themselves.”

    Sure. And it isn’t just the fact of criticizing, IMO, but the manner of criticism (which in Kahan’s case w/r/t “consensus-messaging,” IMO, doesn’t reflect a careful cost/benefit analysis w/r/t improving or detoxifying science communication. There’s no reason why the criticism needs to come in a toxic form).

    I would just say that Kahan is involved in other work which, in the real world, might have more impact than his blogospheric moral posturing.

  144. Steven Mosher says:

    Willard
    “Like not having chosen Al to use all his adipose powers to speak about AGW.

    It is sad that there was no smart person to have pulled Al aside to lukewarmingly ask him if he really thought that his fatness was helping, among other concerns that that smart person could lukewarmingly have raised.”

    It’s not that hard to see that Gore would have benefited from some media training.
    1. Tell the truth without hyperbole. the truth is scary enough.
    2. Win over you own kind first, and try not to demonize opponents. Creating alliances
    doesnt mean you have to alienate the other.

    More Generals, more Engineers, More conservatives, More scientists,More religious folks
    Fewer Movie Stars, fewer Politicians.

    its not that hard. Look, if I wanted to convince you willard about the dangers of X
    I would not pick Ted cruz to convince you, even if he was handsome…. would not pick him.
    If I wanted to convince constitutional republicans of the danger of X, ya.. I’d pick ted Cruz and Mike Lee and I would tell them.. Look Ted and Mike, your sole job is to win converts WITHOUT mentioning the unbelievers. Not one single peep about statists foisting X on us. Not one word. Got that? understand? Not a peep.
    You talk about how fighting X is aligned with our values, our identity, our traditions our leadership and not ONE PEEP about the other side. This is a not a situation where You Two market by “differentiation”, your job is purely aspirational. Go watch Steve Jobs. Learn. We have other guys to do the “differentiation” message. Your job is to speak precisely to the choir and only the choir and get them singing the same tune. Other folks will handle the dirty work, we dont want you to be a liability”

    Its not that fricking hard.

  145. izen says:

    @-Dikran Marsupial
    “izen, I don’t see any response to my comment there, is something missing?”

    Second sentence, I answered in reverse order , the rest is exposition.

    However I now notice upthread that the econmeretrician has marked me ‘correct’ , so I will have to retreat and seriously re-evaluate my whole understanding of this issue… (grin)

  146. Joshua,

    I would just say that Kahan is involved in other work which, in the real world, might have more impact than his blogospheric moral posturing.

    Oh, quite possibly.

  147. Dikran Marsupial says:

    izen wrote “There is distinction of intentionality, but a similarity of outcome.”

    I still don’t get it. I wrote ““No, they are not excluded by consensus messaging, they are just resistant to it, that is not the same thing.” I don’t think consensus messaging excludes anybody by intention or outcome. If you are resistant to a message, surely that is a reason to engage with the message/messenger and explain why you are resistant to it? Of course is someone knows there resistance is irrational and don’t want to have that exposed, it isn’t the consensus messaging that has excluded them, it is their own irrationality.

  148. Steven Mosher says:

    “Ironic that steven is suggesting “excluding” people as a specific strategy.”

    Selecting spokespeople is a tactic not a strategy.
    you can of course exclude certain types of people as spokespeople.

    I would not choose criminals as spokespeople
    I would not choose the mentally ill
    I would not choose Democrats to talk to republicans
    Politicans would be very low on my list.

    IF you get to choose spokes people, then you would be Wise to consider the audience
    you are trying to convert.

    I’d start with this

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1597/confidence-institutions.aspx

    oh look, who is at the bottom?

    its not that hard.

    1. The issue is divided along political lines— more or less.
    2. Those you want to convince are not going to listen to a member of congress
    Especially if he is an opposition member

    IF you are speaking only to the choir, then you have a different situation.

    ##########

    Richard Alley. Kerry Emmanual. Bob Inglis:

    I recommend the first as a good choice. Great choice. More Alley.
    I veto the second ( for obvious reasons )
    I did work for Inglis.

    next.

  149. Joshua says:

    You keep ducking the point, Steven.

    If you’re going to decide who to “exclude” from being a spokesperson, who isn’t even “selected” to be a spokesperson (a straw man), it would be an endless list if the exclusion criterion is that “skeptics” view that spokesperson as polarizing. “Skeptics” viewing spokespeople as polarizing is, as they say, a feature not a bug.”

    ==> “I did work for Inglis.”

    It’s not always about you, Steven.

  150. @marco
    The Copenhagen Consensus does not work by counting noses. Instead, field experts battle it out, first within their field, and then between fields. After that, a panel of generalists ranks the fields based on the strength of the evidence provided. There are three noses per field, so John Cook would be at a bit of a loss.

  151. Richard,
    Given that you still haven’t managed to properly reproduce Cook et als. database search, and still haven’t found time to check the error in your spreadsheet, I’m not sure you should be suggesting others are at a bit of a loss.

    I’ll repeat, again, my handy little graphic to help you out.

  152. > It’s not that hard to see that Gore would have benefited from some media training.

    How to peddle in “But Al Gore” in two steps.

    ***

    > Lead and people will follow.

    “Follow and people will follow” might be more precise:

  153. Steven Mosher says:

    “If you’re going to decide who to “exclude” from being a spokesperson, who isn’t even “selected” to be a spokesperson (a straw man), it would be an endless list if the exclusion criterion is that “skeptics” view that spokesperson as polarizing. “Skeptics” viewing spokespeople as polarizing is, as they say, a feature not a bug.”

    Its not that hard. I am using Gore as an example of who NOT to choose, IF you get
    a chance to choose. Obviously in the begining there was no choice of who should
    be a spokesperson. People stepped forward ( gore, Mann ect) These were not choices.
    However, to some extent they were validated after the fact ( no one pulls them aside to
    say… hey brother shut up until you get some training) So there is no strawman.
    Second, the criteria is NOT that skeptics can or would see them as polarizing.
    To some extent any person can be seen as polarizing. Even you. Yes its not binary
    thinking Joshua.. there is a spectrum.
    So, if YOU want to convert republican sceptics, I will make the humble suggestion
    That
    A) dont pick a politician ( at first)
    B) dont pick a democrat EVER
    C) do try to minimize polarization as much as possible.

    The again, you could pick Hillary Clinton to go on the circuit of town hall meetings
    to convince Trump supporters how global warming is real..
    THATS THE PLAN!

    ==> “I did work for Inglis.”

    It’s not always about you, Steven.

    the point isnt about me.
    the point is that there are certain politicians who I believe CAN have a slim chance
    at delivering a conversion message

    You and others seem to be in denial of the simple facts of messaging.

    1. You need to consider your purpose
    2. You need to consider your audience
    3. You need to consider your speaker
    4. You need to tailor your message.

    If your purpose is convincing skeptics and if you believe they are mostly conservative
    Then,
    IF you have an option to choose a speaker, or recommend someone who is already speaking
    You would be wise to choose and recommend certain types of people.
    here are some guidelines
    Minimize polarization as much as possible

    Not that hard. Look C02 is a GHG. It warms the planet. Gore is not the best person to convince republicans. he raises the temperature.

    if you think Gore is the best person, then please go work for him. Until such time, until you are actually employed or paid for your opinion about about communication or paid to write, then your opinion on the matter means as much to me as a slayers opinion about C02. fricking denier

  154. > fricking denier

    By the end of the paragraph, the counterfactual “if you think Gore is the best person” has disappeared. As if anyone here had that choice.

    Speaking of Bob:

    Heresy may have cost Bob Inglis his seat in the U.S. Congress. As a six-term Republican congressman from one of South Carolina’s most conservative districts, Inglis told an audience at a 2010 campaign event that he believed in human-caused climate change. The fallout from that comment helped ensure his defeat by a Tea Party-backed candidate.

    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/interview_bob_inglis_conservative_who_believes_climate_change_is_real/2615/

    Yet another illustration that non-scientists’ opinions about some scientific question can be of some relevance.

  155. Joshua says:

    Steven –

    ==> “Its not that hard. I am using Gore as an example of who NOT to choose, IF you get
    a chance to choose. ”

    OK, I’ll give. For the sake of argument, I’ll look past the reality that the notion of a “spokesperson” is nonsensical in this context, and arbitrarily determined to boot.

    Yes. If I had to choose, I would not choose Al Gore. Partially, because I can’t stand the guy (always struck me as very disingenuous, not unlike Trump or Clinton)… Partly because he is a politician who, yes, fit with no extra grease into the political pigeon holes.

    In the best of all possible worlds, there would be better choices, if there were to be choices to be made.

    But it’s all relative, and no matter who was “chosen,” if there were a choice to be made,which there wasn’t/isn’t, and if the notion of “spokesperson” in this context weren’t completely arbitrary, which it is, the real world differences in outcomes would be marginal, at best. The examples I gave showed that.

    Your logic (it seems to me) rests on a view that “skeptics” focus of animosity on various “spokespeople” is actually a reaction to those “spokespeople,” as opposed to identity-based reaction to the political context and policy implications.

    ==> “However, to some extent they were validated after the fact ( no one pulls them aside to
    say… hey brother shut up until you get some training) So there is no strawman.”

    I think it is a straw man, but it’s not what’s more interesting about the discussion, so let’s just move on. Yes, to some extent their [Gore, Mann} role as “spokespeople” has been “validated” in that they are public figureheads. But suppose it were Hayhoe or Inglis….oh wait, they’re public figureheads as well, and they are dismissed as being part of the hoax and conspiracy and fraud as well. They are, also, part of the anti-science, capitalist-hating cabal to install a one world government and line their pockets with stolen tax dollars.

    ==> “To some extent any person can be seen as polarizing. Even you. Yes its not binary
    thinking Joshua.. there is a spectrum.”

    Yes, there is a spectrum. And so what is important is the relative weight of different factors within that spectrum. Al Gore being fat is one factor, and that outweighs (pun intended) the science. Also what outweighs the actual science is the simple fact that Al Gore has an opinion that lines up differently than the “skeptics.” Selecting Hayhoe or Ally or Ingis will not move the needle a significant distance across that spectrum. And if you focus on the identity politics, as if that were meaningful in a relative sense, you have an opportunity cost. It’s a matter of scale.

    ==> So, if YOU want to convert republican sceptics, I will make the humble suggestion
    That
    A) dont pick a politician ( at first)
    B) dont pick a democrat EVER
    C) do try to minimize polarization as much as possible.

    ==> “the point isnt about me.”

    Exactly. So your mention of working for Inglis was irrelevant. A non-sequitur.

    ==> “the point is that there are certain politicians who I believe CAN have a slim chance
    at delivering a conversion message”

    Yes. I suppose so. A slim chance. Very slim. Much slimmer than Al Gore is fat. And my point is that by focusing on the same tired and boring and banal message of identity politics, as if that were significantly meaningful, which in the end becomes a destructive argument because it focuses attention on what amounts, in the full spectrum, to a red herring, you probably do more harm than benefit.

    That isn’t to say that Hahyoe’s or Inglis’ advocacy aren’t welcome. Far from it. It just feels good. But placing a disproportionate weight on the meaningfulness of choosing or excluding spokespeople, as if that were meaningful to begin with, like children playing make believe about counterfactual worlds, is a tired old trick of “skeptics.”

    ==> ”

    1. You need to consider your purpose
    2. You need to consider your audience
    3. You need to consider your speaker
    4. You need to tailor your message.”

    No. I agree with all of that. What I disagree with is your analysis of how those factors play out in this context.

    ==> “If your purpose is convincing skeptics and if you believe they are mostly conservative
    Then,
    IF you have an option to choose a speaker, or recommend someone who is already speaking
    You would be wise to choose and recommend certain types of people.
    here are some guidelines
    Minimize polarization as much as possible.”

    That would, IMO, be a waste of time. It won’t move the needle. It’s like “consensus-messaging” in that regard, IMO, because it doesn’t address the root of the problem. I mean maybe it does address the symptom of the disease to some extent, but it won’t move the needle because it’s a bandaid, and it refocuses attention from the real problem, which in the end would be counterproductive.

    ==> “Not that hard. Look C02 is a GHG. It warms the planet. Gore is not the best person to convince republicans. he raises the temperature.”

    There is, IMO, no “spokesperson” (if it were a meaningful construct in this context) who could achieve that goal. I think that there are two basic ways that enough people will be “convinced.” The first is that the signal of aCO2 emissions will be so completely unambiguous that ideological identification will just be swamped. The second is if people get serious about thinks like stakeholder dialogue. I place the odds on #2 at somewhere between extremely slim and none.

    ==> “, then your opinion on the matter means as much to me as a slayers opinion about C02. fricking denier”

    Well, at least we’re on even footing, then.

  156. Joshua says:

    It’s a question of “agency.” The notion that “realists” have agency in materially affecting the outcome of the climate wars, on the basis of who they “choose” as a spokesperson, is nonsensical in any way you look at it. It’s nonsensical because it isn’t a practical reality that “realists” “choose” spokespeople. It’s nonsensical because the “choice” of spokesperson is a drop in the ocean of climate divide causality. It’s nonsensical because pretending that “realists” have that kind of agency is a fantasy, and unfortunately, it is a fantasy that just reinforces “skepticism.”

  157. Ron Graf says:

    Steven Mosher is right. The most effective leader is one that is trusted in camp they are looking to reform. Trump has the better opportunity to become the “environmental President.” Hillary or Bernie could balance the budget by the end of their first term. (Not that any of them would.)

    After all, conservatives are for achieving 100% sustainable use of natural resources just a liberals are for balancing budgets and fiscal responsibility. It’s just that each thinks the other believes the other has their priorities switched. A leader must nudge a trusting base to the center.

  158. > The most effective leader is one that is trusted in camp they are looking to reform.

    This is a no brainer. That’s just basic rhetoric. Even Lew agrees with this.

    That’s inconsequential to what’s going on here, which is to make it sound as if somebody picked up Al Gore. Or that if you did not pick him, you should have raised concerns over his weight. In other words, a false controversy is being fabricated over a fact known before Quintilian to peddle in Al Gore.

    ***

    > [I]t isn’t a practical reality that “realists” “choose” spokespeople.

    It isn’t a practical reality that party members choose their nominees either:

  159. Joshua says:

    ==> “Trump has the better opportunity to become the “environmental President.””

    The impossible counterfactual strikes again. Trump wouldn’t be in a position to compete with Hillary or Bernie if he didn’t promote anti-sustainability memes.

    http://www.factcheck.org/2016/05/trump-on-hairspray-and-ozone/

    Further, the situations you are comparing are not even remotely parallel.

    1) Steven says that “realists” should “select” a Republican who talks about the risks of aCO2″ to be a spokesperson. In other words, they should select someone who advocates against emissions to convince Republicans that there is a risk.

    2) You say that someone who specifically attacks environmentalists positions would be in a good position to advance environmental progress.

    That is not a situation of a “trusted leader in a camp Trump is looking to reform. Good god, I can’t follow your discussion of the science, but I hope that your logic in that frame is more sound than what you just argued.

    ==> “After all, conservatives are for achieving 100% sustainable use of natural resources just a liberals are for balancing budgets and fiscal responsibility.”

    Perhaps so. But politicians like Trump sacrifice any such goals for the sake of political expediency. That’s why he crafts his platform to appeal to undermining sustainability.

  160. Windchaser says:

    I see a lot of truth in what Mosher is saying.

    A lot of the resistance to AGW is based on tribalism and social cohesion. Crack that, and you’ll have a much easier job getting to the “skeptics”.

    Scientists try to evaluate hypotheses on the data, to set emotions and politics and tribalism aside. But laypeople aren’t scientists. They’re perfectly happy with mental filters that reject a message simply based on who it’s coming from. A rigorous, thorough grounding in data is too much work.

    Honestly, this is a huge part of most peoples’ epistemology: who said it? And does it kinda-sorta make sense? And that’s it. If the message comes from someone that they distrust, they may actually form a resistance to hearing the message, regardless of how much data there is behind it.

  161. Joshua says:

    Ron –

    ==> “The most effective leader is one that is trusted in camp they are looking to reform.”

    Sorry for the earlier snark and tone, but that you would use that sentence to argue that Trump would be effective as an environmental president really caught me off guard. Trump is not looking to reform the conservative camp on environmental issues.

  162. Steven Mosher says:

    Here is a thought.

    Hey Ed..

    I know we didnt select you to be a spokes person
    but we do have a choice.
    we can choose to
    defend you
    ignore you
    or ask you to STFU

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ed-rendell-ugly-women-america-attractive-women-article-1.2641503

    This is not that hard guys. really. not that hard.

  163. Joshua says:

    OK. One more and I’ll vacate the dance floor.

    Windchaser:

    ==> “Honestly, this is a huge part of most peoples’ epistemology: who said it? ”

    Consider that the the chain of causality goes like this

    1) What did they say? Do I identify with what they said?
    1a) If I identify with what they said, I trust them.
    1b) If I don’t identify with what they said, I don’t trust them.

    Consider Katharine Hayhoe.

    What do you think is the chain of causality behind the hate mail sent her way?

  164. Steven Mosher says:

    “1) Steven says that “realists” should “select” a Republican who talks about the risks of aCO2″ to be a spokesperson. In other words, they should select someone who advocates against emissions to convince Republicans that there is a risk.”

    Ah once again he misses the idea.

    “talking about the risks” is ONE of the strategies. See above

    as I said if I get to choose spokespeople for THIS message I would choose someone
    who has a profession of protection.

    Like the military.. Oh gosh, how long ago did I make this suggestion? years.
    Will that work perfectly? of course not. But for the warning message to republicans…
    I would not choose Gore.

    I would not pick a “republican” for “the risks of c02 message” The criteria would be

    1. Expertise in a profession that deals with risk and protection.
    2. non political if possible.

    Jeez Joshua.. try again

  165. > if I get to choose spokespeople for THIS message

    Or IF I don’t, play what IF I could.

    Then switch to Al Gore.

    Profit.

  166. Steven Mosher says:

    “I see a lot of truth in what Mosher is saying.

    A lot of the resistance to AGW is based on tribalism and social cohesion. Crack that, and you’ll have a much easier job getting to the “skeptics”.

    Still the job is very very very tough. Sometimes you pick people ( hayhoe and Inglis ) and they get
    Obliterated. Good soldiers. A moment of Silence,please. More will come.

    The real work happens one on one at the thought leader level. it s slow and painful and the victories are not complete. Sometimes its enough just to get skeptics to stop certain behavior or to isolate their radical fringe… slayers, cyclomaniacs..

  167. > Here is a thought.

    And then follow the usual concerns in the lukewarm playbook.

    Brace yourselves, greenline tests are coming.

  168. > A lot of the resistance to AGW is based on tribalism and social cohesion. Crack that, and you’ll have a much easier job getting to the “skeptics”.

    There you go.

    Greenline tests.

  169. wheelism says:

    “Profit.”

    Sure, WILLARD gets away with being obtuse.

    🙂

  170. Steven Mosher says:

    Willard, I’d never switch to Gore. And since I have an ongoing choice my choice is to ask him
    to STFU cause he is not helping. Like hey dude thanks for getting us to the stanely cup, but we cannot afford you to screw things up with game majors ok? so hit the pine. thank you for your service. dont worry we will win this for you.

  171. wheelism says:

    (And, based on his prior performances, how would you address Steven Mosher?)

  172. Joshua says:

    What was I thinking? It would have been much easier to just thank Steven for his concerns.

  173. Steven Mosher says:

    “Brace yourselves, greenline tests are coming.”

    Ah no,
    Greenline tests puts the question: What is the consensus? DIFFERENT AUDIENCE.

    Being smart about who you send into the enemy camp to talk or how you enter the enemy camp is a different question than a greenline question. A greenline question is “what are our borders”

    Different task altogether

    jeez willard.

  174. Steven Mosher says:

    Sorry Joshua
    I dont have concerns. dont worry be happy

  175. > I’d never switch to Gore.

    Never:

    Lastly you cannot choose from the strategies I laid out without
    Choosing spokespeople. Here’s a clue. Gore is not a good choice

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/tbh-i-dont-really-like-consensus-messaging-either/#comment-79731

    The “without” does not seem to cohere with the “only ifs” that appeared later on.

    ***

    > A greenline question is “what are our borders”

    Right on:

    Here is a thought.

    Hey Ed..

    I know we didnt select you to be a spokes person
    but we do have a choice.
    we can choose to
    defend you
    ignore you
    or ask you to STFU

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/tbh-i-dont-really-like-consensus-messaging-either/#comment-79896

    Cue to “tribalism and social cohesion.”

  176. Ron Graf says:

    Steven:”Sometimes its enough just to get skeptics to stop certain behavior or to isolate their radical fringe… slayers, cyclomaniacs..”

    The radical fringe of the other side is your ally to convince the centrists to come your way. lukewarmers see slayers as a threat as much as greenies. Using propaganda to grab the center is good for cause in short-run, but bad in long if center smells BS.

  177. > lukewarmers see slayers as a threat as much as greenies.

    Yet a big part of the lukewarm playbook is based on using both so that the Overton Window gets stretched right where libertarians become the middle. Search Judy’s for “Goldilocks” for the most obvious implementation of that exploit.

    Not too hot, not too cold, just lukewarm. Stories that wouldn’t fool 8 yos, sold to an engineer-minded crowd around the anglosphere. You can’t make this up.

  178. Windchaser says:

    Consider Katharine Hayhoe.
    What do you think is the chain of causality behind the hate mail sent her way?

    I think your chain of causality is partly accurate there.

    But that chain goes both ways. Trust is built on identifying with what people say, sure, but acceptable viewpoints are also built upon what the people in your circle of trust are saying.

    It’s not one or the other, it’s both. And it’s still true that people who are seen as “insiders” will have a much easier time of convincing ‘skeptics’ of the reality of climate change.

    Look at the LGBT movement. If you’ve hung around with conservatives as LGBT has gone mainstream, you’ve almost certainly heard a few stories of “I was against the gays, but then my son came out, and I realized that they were like us”.

    People’s views can change, based simply on who’s holding them. At a minimum, they’re more open to hearing contrary views from friendly faces.

  179. Here’s a thought.

    Hey, King of Coal.

    I know we never lukewarmingly selected you:

    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/my-life-as-a-climate-lukewarmer.aspx

    But if we had a choice, hmmm.
    Wait. Let me think:

    You were endowed with heriditary priviledges
    And now some more government priviledges.
    You rationalize these priviledges with some sociobio-pop
    And promote a bankcrupt economic ideology.

    You might not be that bad to convince self-serving libertarians after all!
    Please, do continue.

  180. A blast from the past:

    An exordium, such as is usual in judicial pleadings, it does not require, because whoever consults an orator is already well-disposed to hear him. Yet the commencement, whatever it be, ought to have some resemblance to an exordium, for we must not begin abruptly or with whatever we may fancy, because in every subject there is something naturally first. 7. In speaking before the Senate, and, indeed, before the people, the same object is to be kept in view as in addressing judges, namely, that of securing the goodwill of the majority of those to whom we speak. Nor is this to be thought surprising, when the favor of the audience is sought even in panegyrics, where the purpose is not to attain any advantage, but merely to bestow praise. 8. Aristotle, indeed, and not without reason, thinks that we may often commence, in deliberative speeches, with an allusion to ourselves or to the character of him who differs in opinion from us, borrowing this method, as it were, from judicial pleadings. In such a manner, sometimes our subject may be made to appear of less or greater importance than our audience imagine it. 9. In panegyrics, he thinks that the exordium may be allowed the utmost latitude, since it is sometimes taken from something foreign to the subject, as Isocrates has taken his in his oration in praise of Helen, or from something bordering on the subject, as the same orator, in his Panegyric, complains that “more honor is paid to the good qualities of the body than to those of the mind,” and as Gorgias, in his oration at the Olympic games, extols those who first instituted such meetings. Sallust, doubtless following the example of these orators, has commenced his histories of the Jugurthine War and the Conspiracy of Catiline with introductions having no relation to his narratives. 10. But I am now to speak of deliberative oratory, in which, even when we adopt an exordium, we ought to content ourselves with one that is short, resembling as it were an initial chapter or statement.

    http://rhetoric.eserver.org/quintilian/3/chapter8.html

  181. wheelism says:

    [No food fight, please. -W]

  182. Steven Mosher writes: “Simple: Absent rigorous guidelines on who TO choose, I suggest excluding certain types of people. Not that hard to understand unless you have a vested interest.”

    Obviously I didn’t understand it – and I certainly don’t have a vested interest in Al Gore. And likewise I certainly don’t have a vested interest in climate — or at least no more than the average resident of earth. Since I’m older than the average resident of earth we can actually say I’m less vested in the results, since I’m not likely to be affected by them.

    SM:”Lastly you cannot choose from the strategies I laid out without Choosing spokespeople. Here’s a clue. Gore is not a good choice.

    No one chose Gore. Few movements actually select leaders. Organizations can, but no one knows which organization will end up representing a movement. Of course this is compounded by the fact that for most climate change related problems we actually need legislative action. So you need not just leaders but political leaders.

    If your strategies *require* selecting a spokesperson, then who *chooses* the spokesperson? Nevermind – we’ll forget this impossible little detail. Instead, let’s go back to the 1970s and early 80s and *choose* a spokesperson. Who would you have chosen in Washington to lead the fight? Why in 1980 or ’81 would you have excluded Al Gore? Conservative Democrat, educated on the science, passionate on the issue, rising political star, effective legislator.

  183. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Swedenborg said that acknowledging the consensus furnishes us with the rationality whose lack causes us to assault truth, so let us all acknowledge the consensus so that, by becoming more properly rational beings, together we may achieve binding international agreements on carbon emissions or, at the very least, a more rational implementation of the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

  184. Ron Graf says:

    [But MBH. -W]

  185. Joshua says:

    Windchaser –

    ==> “But that chain goes both ways.”

    Maybe. I think there’s a feedback loop. But I’m not sure how much the chain goes both ways.

    Consider how “skeptics” have chosen the scientists they trust. It wasn’t like they went about shopping for climate scientists, and came across Spencer or Lindzen and Mann and looked at their qualifications and then decided who they’d trust for conducting analysis. And despite major errors on the part of Spencer and Lindzen, they trust their analysis nonetheless. (Of course, I’d argue that the causal chain doesn’t only work that way for “skeptics”).

    ==> “And it’s still true that people who are seen as “insiders” will have a much easier time of convincing ‘skeptics’ of the reality of climate change.”

    I think that remains to be seen. I’ve observed the “climate-o-sphere” quite a bit – and I haven’t seen any significant transformation of “skeptics” because of someone like Hayhoe or Inglis. How many “skeptics” did Rear Admiral David Tiltey convince that climate change is a security threat?

    => “Look at the LGBT movement. If you’ve hung around with conservatives as LGBT has gone mainstream, you’ve almost certainly heard a few stories of “I was against the gays, but then my son came out, and I realized that they were like us”.

    Not a very apt analogy, IMO. It isn’t like many conservatives have changed their views because spokespeople that they’re politically aligned with advocated for equal treatment of LGBT. Consider that infamous (retracted) study by Michael LaCour where supposedly it was found that LGBT canvassers had a significant and lasting impact on changing views about same sex marriage. What’s interesting is that a follow-up study showed that in contrast to the first study, what actually had an impact was an initiative “like a Socratic dialogue”:

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-two-grad-students-uncovered-michael-lacour-fraud-and-a-way-to-change-opinions-on-transgender-rights/

  186. > What’s interesting is that a follow-up study showed that in contrast to the first study, what actually had an impact was an initiative “like a Socratic dialogue” […]

    Here’s where the Socratic dialogue shows up:

    Like LaCour and Green, Broockman and Kalla were specifically studying the effectiveness of a political canvassing technique developed by the L.A. LGBT Center. Both Broockman and David Fleischer, director of the center’s Leadership Lab program, said that canvassing is usually a quick and dirty enterprise. Canvassers show up at a door, they give a speech, they try and accomplish a goal, and they get through it all as quickly as possible. “There’s a reason why when people knock on your door you aren’t immediately thrilled,” Fleischer told me.

    The center has a different technique, one that’s structured more like a Socratic dialogue and can take as long as 20 minutes to get through and on average lasts 10 minutes. Canvassers are aiming for a conversation, in which they ask questions and the subject gets to talk. They don’t tell people ahead of time what conclusion they want to reach. There’s no sermon built in. The goal is that, by the end, subjects will have built up empathy with a group of people different from themselves.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-two-grad-students-uncovered-michael-lacour-fraud-and-a-way-to-change-opinions-on-transgender-rights/

    The difference is not between the two researches, but between the Center’s approach and the usual canvassing technique.

    Later on, there’s a discussion about why this canvassing technique worked for transgender issues but not for abortion. There are three explanations that somehow compete: intergroup contact (Latour & Green), perspective taking (Broockman & Fleischer), and belief entrenchment (Muntz).

  187. Joshua says:

    ==> “Later on, there’s a discussion about why this canvassing technique worked for transgender issues but not for abortion.”

    Aye. Now that was an interesting part.

  188. Joshua says:

    And, of course, this part also:

    –snip–

    There wasn’t any difference in the results produced by cis versus trans canvassers.

    –snip–

    Which is interesting in two directions.

    At any rate, IMO, what’s interesting is the notion of “perspective taking” which is a major component of stakeholder dialogue (as is, IMO, a non-hierarchical, or non-asymmetrical form of Socratic dialogue), conflict resolution, and participatory democracy, as maybe more effective than “intergroup contact.”

  189. Willard,

    “Follow and people will follow” might be more precise

    I think I have the lone nut part down pat.

  190. > what’s interesting is the notion of “perspective taking” which is a major component of stakeholder dialogue (as is, IMO, a non-hierarchical, or non-asymmetrical form of Socratic dialogue), conflict resolution, and participatory democracy, as maybe more effective than “intergroup contact.”

    Muntz says that both intergroup contact and perspective taking can be effective. The link for intergroup contact is this one, which seems to indicate that intergroup contact is an important area of research:

    http://www.psy.ox.ac.uk/research/the-oxford-centre-for-the-study-of-intergroup-conflict-oxcsic

    The link for perspective taking is this one, and compares it with stereotype suppression:

    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gordon_Moskowitz/publication/12523764_Perspective-taking_Decreasing_stereotype_expression_stereotype_accessibility_and_in-group_favoritism/links/0f31752ef8884edb3c000000.pdf

  191. Ron Graf,

    The most effective leader is one that is trusted in camp they are looking to reform. […] A leader must nudge a trusting base to the center.

    The kind of leader you are describing would be most effective if (s)he were trusted by both camps.

  192. > The kind of leader you are describing would be most effective if (s)he were trusted by both camps.

    But what is of most weight in deliberative speeches is authority in the speaker, for he who desires everybody to trust to his opinion about what is expedient and honorable ought to be, and to be esteemed, a man of the greatest judgment and probity. In judicial pleadings, it is commonly thought allowable for a man to indulge, in some degree, his own feelings, but everyone supposes that counsel is given by a speaker in accordance with his moral principles.

    http://rhetoric.eserver.org/quintilian/3/chapter8.html

  193. Side doesn’t matter.

  194. That’s because you’re circle-biased, BrandonG. Squares and triangles disagree.

    Seems that the 2015 Nobel Prize of economics is pushing for basic income grants:

    http://www.basicincome.org/news/2016/05/nobel-laureate-economist-angus-deaton-endorses-basic-income/

    While it might be nicer to have someone like Bjorn or better a leading Freshwater economist to endorse this suggestion, Deaton’s not that bad even if he’s a bit fat.

  195. Francis says:

    So if I’ve followed this very interesting thread correctly, the consensus(!) is that climate activists need to find a highly trusted senior Republican politician to weigh in on this issue, primarily by playing to the idea of preserving the wealth and power of the US for his constituents’ children and grandchildren.

    Sounds great! Anyone got any names?

  196. Quintilian on the necessary qualities of great speakers: “…a man of the greatest judgment and probity.”

    Contrafactuals? Ummmmm …. pretty much anyone of any note in the USA over the last 50 years.

    One list of the top 10 most powerful and influential orators of the 20th century:

    1. John F. Kennedy
    2. Martin Luther King Jr
    3. Adolf Hitler
    4. Sir Winston Churchill
    5. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
    6. Ronald Reagan
    7. Nelson Mandela
    8. Leon Trotsky
    9. Fidel Castro
    10. James Jones

    Not sure I’m buyin’ what Quintillian is sellin.’

    And seeing Raygun’s name on the list segues back to Mosher’s exclusion of Gore. Apparently when those concerned about climate change didn’t choose a spokesperson they should have not chosen a Republican. Perhaps Raygun himself: ““”Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.” — Ronald Reagan, 1981. The GOP has been clinically insane for decades. Anyone with a lick of sense has long since self-labeled themselves as an Independent or been kicked out.

  197. > Not sure I’m buyin’ what Quintillian is sellin.’

    Search for “deliberative speeches.” Report.

  198. Willard,

    That’s because you’re circle-biased, BrandonG. Squares and triangles disagree.

    While it might be nicer to have someone like Bjorn or better a leading Freshwater economist to endorse this suggestion, Deaton’s not that bad even if he’s a bit fat.

    Yabbut funding:

    The most important objection is that such income is just impossible for the current US economy. There is simply not enough money for this.[9] The population of the US is about 323 million people. The Federal poverty for every individual is $11,770.[11] Therefore, Basic Income Guarantee will be cost to taxpayers about 3.8 trillion dollars per year which is roughly equal the total federal budget in 2015.[12] In addition, there is a widespread belief that giving away money to people is a fundamentally wrong concept. If people will have free money, they will not work and will become lazy. Furthermore, there are concerns that those people will spend their money on alcohol and drugs and this fact only enlarges the problem[10][13]

    The most important author of a Wookipedia article is the last one to have edited it. Some hyper-rational person may have missed the intro:

    Basic income systems that are financed by the profits of publicly owned enterprises (often called social dividend or citizen’s dividend) are major components in many proposed models of market socialism.[3]

    Oh, never mind, now I see the most important objection.

  199. Francis,

    So if I’ve followed this very interesting thread correctly, the consensus(!) is that climate activists need to find a highly trusted senior Republican politician to weigh in on this issue, primarily by playing to the idea of preserving the wealth and power of the US for his constituents’ children and grandchildren.

    Sounds great! Anyone got any names?

    Jim Inhofe:

    “Our traditional nuclear power plants have provided our country with safe, reliable, clean, and affordable energy for decades,” Inhofe said. “While most of these plants will continue to operate for years to come, we must look to the future. Existing plants and advanced reactors both need a modern structure for NRC fees that ensures resources are available to support efficient and timely decision making by the NRC. But advanced reactors need something more – a predictable NRC review process that recognizes NRC’s one-size-fits-all framework was never designed to handle a wide variety of technologies. The NRC needs to develop a regulatory framework that leaves room for innovators to innovate. Our bill authorizes NRC to do just that.”

    Transparency, openness, accountability, economic sustainability, timely, modernized, future, safe, clean, low-carbon … all the bells and whistles. Somewhat shockingly, “serious threats from fossil fuels” even manged to sneak in there.

    Predictability and innovation can be a difficult one to reconcile.

  200. Ken Fabian says:

    I think it’s been a good thing to get explicit about the extent of the consensus even if it’s the divisive politics that makes it necessary and gives it value. It was an expedient political choice to reject the science on climate but for many who do hold positions of trust and responsibility to do so should not be seen as an acceptable difference of opinion; if you hold office your responsibilities have priority over your opinions.

    Allowing falsehoods that are a product of that divisive politics, (eg that climate science is deeply divided and it’s conclusions are too uncertain to build any sound policy around), to go unchallenged because that would be taking sides and divisive seems like a major mistake. In the same way that any fact checking prompted by unsubstantiated claims has political implications it is undeniably political. To what extent a study of that consensus that pins some numbers to it works as a peer reviewed journal publication is a different question but for those who prefer their claims stand without fact checking it seems inevitable that they would seek to criticise it, right down to nitpicking level. There are also our institutions of science and the formal reports and advice they provide to governments – which I suspect come closer to 100% agreement on fundamentals than to 97%. Those formal reports should be the advice policy is based on.

    Deferring to experts may not appeal to those who believe doubt is the proper response to unwelcome advice they are given but do not fully understand, yet I think it is most often the correct and appropriate one – and one with strong and clear legal precedents when it involves chains of decision making that may lead to harms. These legal precedents are blurred considerably by the multi-generational time scales and by the balance between benefits vs those harms. Common law legal systems tend to come into play after harms occur, usually at a smaller scale, to create the precedents that prevent them at larger scale. Preventing harms base on expert predictions that they will occur probably belong more in purpose made legislation but the legal precedents for taking expert advice into account are there. Caveats on that of course – such as experts having actual, appropriate expertise and conducting themselves according to professional standards.

    To expect everyone to sceptically and competently examine each and every aspect of a multi-faceted subject like climate change is unreasonable; whether there is genuine intent to engage in validation or not the default position must be to provisionally accept the mainstream expert advice of others and only withhold it with some demonstrable cause. For experts within their area of expertise there is an obligation to check on each other’s work – to professionally doubt; the whole body of knowledge is validated collectively, through an accumulation of critical examinations of specifics.

    A thorough independent review by individuals is not possible however I would love to see National Academies of Sciences/Royal Societies do a well publicised thorough one with an accessible video documentary accompanying the documentation. The committed climate science deniers and conspiracy theorists will never be satisfied however I think those kinds of peak science bodies do retain sufficient standing to lift it above much of the partisan politics.

  201. izen says:

    What would have been the impact in the early days of rising scientific concern about climate change if a well respected right-wing politician had taken a platform on the world stage and spelled out just what a serious matter this was. Explaining the potential risks and outlining the necessary actions in emissions reduction that would be required to counter it?

    http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/107817

    Surely even the most well-funded campaign of disinformation would not overturn such a public and explicit position taken by the right wing of the political spectrum !

    The past is another country, they did things differently then, acceptance of the science was widespread across the political spectrum until certain policy implications became closer to eliciting direct legislation. Then those opposing the economic impacts of that legislation on the continued profitability of growing fossil fuel consumption made a strategic decision to spread doubt about the scientific body of knowledge to slow the progress of legislative action.

    Consensus messaging is a reactive action, triggered by the intentional misrepresentation of the science by those opposed to the policy response.

    Once upon a Time the scientific consensus was uncontroversial. UK PM Mrs Thatcher and the major Oil companies had no doubts about the strength of the scientific case as shown by the recently revealed scientific reports funded by the Oil companies. That did not stop those energy industry interests from paying several million a year for the last few decades to various Institutes and Foundations explicitly dedicated to attacking the credibility of the science. That is the historical power dynamic that consensus messaging and meta-research into the research exists in.

    Perhaps the resistance to the science was already a component in US politics as the Reagan quote indicates, the subtle mention of Darwin and the Beagle in Maggie’s speech was perhaps a reference to another scientific ‘truth’ that the US finds difficult to accept.

  202. Steven Mosher is correct, except for the “choice” part. Champions aren’t appointed, thought leaders emerge.

    If not, here’s a thought: Let Big Green offer Marc Morano a bigger paycheck than he gets from Big Oil.

  203. Richard,
    Thought leaders emerge and then those who don’t like what they’re saying find reasons to criticise them. The latter part of your comment isn’t worth a response.

  204. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard, I think your time might be better spent checking your spreadsheet to see if the error that has been pointed out is there or not.

  205. @wotts
    Why not? Morano is obviously very good at what he does. This option would also put to the test the oft-repeated assertion that he’s a hired gun. And while you’re at it, why not hire Anthony Watts too?

  206. Richard,
    Sorry, got better things to do today than play these silly games. Any chance you’ve managed to look at your spreadsheet. Bias sheet, column B, rows 20 – 26. This is not a major error, but I find it odd that you seem reluctant to acknowledge it. Promise not to crow about it if you do.

  207. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Perhaps Richard is hinting that we need to hire him to look at his spreadsheet? ;o)

  208. angech says:

    An interesting argument above on whom the best person to present a message is and to what audience.
    Not your argument, ATTP, by the way.
    Completely misses ATTP’s point of having a message in the first place and what the message is.
    Still, interesting to see the games.
    Any message that needs someone special to sell it, is probably not a good message in the first place.
    It might accidentally be the best message in the world but the mere act of selling it by personality totally debases it.
    Worse any audience that has to have a messenger cherry-picked to suit the audience is not being sold a very good message.
    Sorry.
    Someone must be laughing all the way to put this argument up in the first place and then to actually have people arguing over it.

    A message that someone needs to put out to others needs to have credibility, it needs to be open to inspection and it needs to have any flaws or concerns addressed.
    It also needs to be sold by someone who understands and is convinced by the merits of the argument.
    Paid shills, celebrities and sycophants are welcome to spread the message if the message is one that needs that sort of backing.
    Global Warming message needs to be presented by scientists to those able to understand it and disseminate it. If the message is so complex that the general public cannot understand it then it is not a message in the first place.
    Messages need communication, not persuasion.
    Persuasion in the above argument seems to be the end game and only game.

  209. Dikran Marsupial says:

    angtech “Any message that needs someone special to sell it, is probably not a good message in the first place”

    The message about the consensus only need someone special to “sell it” if you are aiming to convince “skeptics” or those with cultural biases against it, it doesn’t need anyone special to communicate it to the general public. The “skeptics” and the “culturally biased” may make a lot of noise, but they are actually only a small minority (at least in the U.K.), and the majority just need accurate information (IMHO), which is just what e.g. Cook et al 2013 provides.

  210. angech says:

    Dikran Marsupial
    Private Eye has a singlet joke of an elderly WASP with a eurasian babe, been running for 30 years. Still funny.
    The joke on Richard Toll could run for 30 years, might still be funny, or one could just communicate with him and be “nice” to him as normal.
    Or whatever.
    Sorry for the drivel.
    Definitely not my place to tell or ask you anything.
    Do whatever makes you happy.

  211. angech says:

    Missed your reply
    “skeptics” or those with cultural biases against it are not a concern.
    Just like Anti vaxxers and Flat earthers are not a concern.
    Showing videos to the blind will never help them see.
    The consensus message we, you and I, are talking about is aimed at the general public.
    The scientific message is aimed at the general public.
    Of whom skeptics and people with cultural biases are an integral part.
    Personally I believe you would prefer to label yourself as a skeptic, just not one with a cultural bias [you might use the pejorative, denier].
    Anyone who aims to be scientific is a skeptic first, in the general, normal use of the word.
    That should include everyone posting here.
    Of course you might have a cultural bias for it?

  212. Dikran Marsupial says:

    angech “or one could just communicate with him ”

    That has been tried, why do you think he gets asked the questions that he repeatedly ignores? In science, asking questions and giving straight answers is the best form of communication (that way both parties are actively fostering the communication of ideas). The problem comes when someone doesn’t want to engage in truth seeking communication. My approach is to keep asking the questions that need to be answered for the person’s position to have any credibility until they get answered. Of course the occasional bit of humour helps to leaven the discussion.

    There is no joke on Richard Tol as far as I am concerned, he genuinely needs to be able to acknowledge his errors, as well all have to do from time to time, for his own sake.

  213. Willard, are you implying that Quintillian did not believe virtue to be essential for a good orator; that this was only limited to deliberative speeches. If so, I’m not buyin’ what Willard is sellin.’

  214. Dikran Marsupial says:

    angech, I have no idea what you are trying to say.

  215. Willard says:

    If you are implying that I’m implying that Quintillian did not believe virtue to be essential for a good orator, ONeill, that this was only limited to deliberative speeches, then you really ought to read harder before coming up with a listicle to peddle in “but Raygun” – Quintilian has a whole book on your counterfactual.

  216. Willard says:

    > A message that someone needs to put out to others needs to have credibility, it needs to be open to inspection and it needs to have any flaws or concerns addressed.

    Neverendingly.

  217. Andrew Dodds says:

    izen –

    Yes, it’s a truth that global warming was pretty much established science back in the 1980s. At which time we also had the technical competence in place to move to an all-nuclear electric grid. Coal for electricity could have been retired years ago. Unfortunately this would have required large scale, state backed capital investment which is the kind of thing that horrifies right wing economists, especially when it works.

    Now, we are in a pretty awful position. GW denialism has been around and entrenched long enough to be a near-mainstream position, in a similar way to drug prohibition – ‘everyone’ knows it’s wrong but the politicians have been backed into an electoral corner.

  218. Willard says:

    > This option would also put to the test the oft-repeated assertion that he’s a hired gun.

    Right after plussing Moshpit’s point, Richie trashes it.

  219. Joshua says:

    Angech –

    =>> ” Any message that needs someone special to sell it, is probably not a good message in the first place.”

    Where’s the logic in that? So any message that is hard to sell to a particular audience (but not other audiences) can just be dismissed as not “good?”

    Pick any of your arguments that would be hard to sell here, and dismiss them because they would be a hard sell. And then go over to Lucia’s and like magic some of them would magically turn into good arguments?

    Why would the quality of an argument be a function of the belief system of the audience?

  220. Joshua says:

    =>> ” Thought leaders emerge and then those who don’t like what they’re saying find reasons to criticise them. ”

    You obviously dont understand the fundamentals of effective rhetoric. Alls you need to do is not let fat spokespeople emerge

  221. Joshua says:

    Or if one should emerge just pull them aside and tell them “Dude, go on a diet.”

  222. Joshua says:

    izen –

    Nice comment at 5:24

    ==> ” Perhaps the resistance to the science was already a component in US politics as the Reagan quote indicates,…”

    There is some evidence that a few decades ago, in the U.S., there was a higher level of “trust in science” among conservatives than among liberals…and that in recent decades the level of trust remained steady among liberals and moderates while it dropped somewhat among some portion of conservatives. My opinion is that the contemporaneous rise of the religious right is not coincidental to that change over time.

  223. angech says:

    Joshua says: Angech –=>> ” Any message that needs someone special to sell it, is probably not a good message in the first place.”
    “Where’s the logic in that?”

    OK.
    I am making an argument that you usually make.
    Most times when people say something like “where’s the logic in that? ”
    they are disagreeing with the proposition that the other person has put forward.
    Given that the proposition has been put, and the other person thinks they are behaving in good faith, which I did, I certainly felt there was some logic in my comment.

    It’s like advertising.
    If the message is widely accepted anyway there is no need to sell it.
    If the message is good, ie acceptable common sense, easy to explain, anyone can do it.
    If the message is poor,not up to scratch, second hand, etc, the person selling it will have to resort to trickery and flimflam.
    One common way of doing this is to embellish the message with steak knives.
    Another is to get a blonde in a low cut dress to sell the message, works with both Democrats and Republicans I hear.
    A third is to get a celebrity with an interest in the subject matter or down on their luck and needing a cash injection or of special interest to a group.

    Note this is all to do with selling the message, not how good the message is.
    A good message sells itself [the science].
    A bad message needs all the help it can get.
    When you engage with Mosher on the messenger you are de facto claiming the message is no good.
    In his eyes.

  224. Joshua says:

    Angech –

    ==> ” If the message is good, ie acceptable common sense, easy to explain, anyone can do it.
    If the message is poor,not up to scratch, second hand, etc, the person selling it will have to resort to trickery and flimflam.”

    How do you account, within your mechanism of causality, for the predispositions, and/or biases, of audience?

  225. angech,

    ” If the message is good, ie acceptable common sense, easy to explain, anyone can do it.
    If the message is poor,not up to scratch, second hand, etc, the person selling it will have to resort to trickery and flimflam.”

    I don’t really buy your argument either. What I see happening in this context is people finding any excuse to dismiss what someone has said. Some of the science behind climate is pretty straightforward and there are plenty of excellent resources and plenty of very capable people explaining it. Yet, you still see people dismissing it for one reason or another. If you try hard enough, you can find tricery and flimflam everywhere.

  226. Joshua says:

    Angech –

    ==> “Given that the proposition has been put, and the other person thinks they are behaving in good faith, which I did, I certainly felt there was some logic in my comment.”

    Consider the difference between:

    1) Where is the logic in that?

    and

    2) Where is the logic in that?

    and

    3) Where is the logic in that?

  227. Marco says:

    “A good message sells itself [the science].”

    The assessment of a message as “good” or “bad” is solely in the head of the receiver of that message.

    For example, I simply cannot see what is “bad” about the message science sends about the benefits of vaccination. But I know some people do consider that message “bad”, because it contradicts their preferred narrative.

    Same thing with evolution. A significant proportion of the American population apparently thinks the message of evolution is so bad that they reject it completely, or major elements. And yet, I cannot see anything wrong with it.

    I realize very well that I may be considering certain messages as “good” because they do not offend my beliefs. Then again, as I every now and then tell people pseudoskeptical about AGW, I actually have one thing in common with them: I don’t *want* AGW to be true! It actually *does* offend my ideas of what the world should be like.

  228. Willard says:

    > Note this is all to do with selling the message, not how good the message is.

    Yet you claim there’s a correlation between the content of that message and selling it. This is Plato’s conflation between rhetoric and sophistry all over again. That you’re selling something doesn’t imply it’s crap.

    If messages could sell themselves, the advertizing industry would save lots of money. Until we create messages that carry their own agency, people will remain their megaphones.

  229. Steven Mosher says:

    “Steven Mosher is correct”
    by definition.

  230. Steven Mosher says:
  231. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Willard wrote “That you’re selling something doesn’t imply it’s crap.”

    Indeed, Aston Martin “sell” their cars, and they seem pretty good to me (not really my cup of tea, but definitely not “crap”).

    Sometimes you need to “sell” something because while something is in the worlds long term interests it isn’t necessarily to a particular individuals immediate advantage. People tend not to be very good at making those sorts of judgement (the recent documentary series on “The Brain” by David Eagleman covered this a bit, but also see “Thinking, fast and slow”).

  232. wheelism says:

    From SM’s link:

    Lanham’s “Strong Defense”…argues that, since truth comes to humankind in so many diverse and disagreeing forms, we cannot base a polity upon it.

    The ultimate anti-consensus messaging argument?

  233. Willard says:

    We’re one step away from Inhofe cheeseburgers.

    Compare and contrast:

    (1) If AGW wasn’t a hoax, why would we need to sell it?
    (2) If CM was any good, why would we need Lew to study it?
    (3) If CM was that bad, why would Dan need to recurse furiously about it?
    (4) If Shakespeare was any good, why would he need Kenneth Branagh?
    (5) If Kenneth Branagh was that good, why would he need Shakespeare?

  234. Maybe the tribe that thinks they can critique Al Gore can make a list of their spokesmen and compute the percentage of them that Jesus would prefer over Gore.

    Independent of that, if liberals would drop every spokesman as soon as they are attacked by hate radio, Fox and Breitbart that would not entice people to speak up for freedom and progress.

  235. izen says:

    @-angech
    “A message that someone needs to put out to others needs to have credibility, it needs to be open to inspection and it needs to have any flaws or concerns addressed.”

    Do any of the following messages meet the strict criteria for good messaging you are trying to establish? If not, why not.

    “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,”

    “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

    ““We now have more Americans believing in haunted houses than manmade global warming—that’s scientific progress.”

  236. I nominate Winston as the setup man …

    Zeddemore: I’m Winston Zeddemore, Your Honor. I’ve only been with the company for a couple of weeks, but I gotta tell you: these things are real. Since I joined these men, I have seen shit that’ll turn you white!
    Venkman: Well, you can believe Mr. Pecker…
    Peck: My name is “Peck.”
    Venkman: …or you could accept the fact that this city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
    Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”?
    Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor. Real wrath-of-God type stuff!
    Venkman: Exactly.
    Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
    Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes!
    Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
    Venkman: Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!
    Mayor: Enough, I get the point! And what if you’re wrong?
    Venkman: If I’m wrong, then nothing happens! We go to jail; peacefully, quietly. We’ll enjoy it! But if I’m right, and we can stop this thing… Lenny, you will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters. [Mayor slightly smiles and the Archbishop of New York nods in agreement]
    Walter Peck: I don’t believe you’re seriously considering listening to these men!
    Mayor: [contemplates; to officers while pointing at Peck] Get him outta here.

    … and Venkman as the closer.

    Peck is … well Peck is fungible.

  237. Eli Rabett says:

    Gore was and is an excellent spokesperson. His audience is and was not Republicans but more than anybunny else. He got the issue of climate change on the table in the 80s, 90s and 2000s. His Inconvenient truth worked not only in the US, but in the world.

    You want perfect Steve? Sorry not for sale

  238. Anders,

    Your point?

    That gremlins are everyone else’s problem.

  239. John Mashey says:

    In the US, in 1964, there was a clear consensus in the Surgeon General report on smoking.
    Rates of doctors smoking dropped quickly.
    50 years later, the adult smoking rate has dropped to 15% a Good Thing…
    but those numbers mean that most adult smokers started as teenagers *after* the SG report, i.e., most adults in US were born after 1950.

    Strong consensus (half of Luther Terry’s panel were smokers, at least when the work started), experts reacted quickly… BUT
    did the SG do a bad job of explaining? Or were there other reasons it has taken so long, and not done yet?

  240. anoilman says:

    Speaking of gremlins and messaging… Did anyone else notice that Donald Trump is trying to build a sea wall for his golf courses to stave off Sea Level Rise damage?

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/donald-trump-climate-change-golf-course-223436
    “The New York billionaire is applying for permission to erect a coastal protection works to prevent erosion at his seaside golf resort, Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland, in County Clare.”

    I don’t see what rational response he has right now, but to save money and cancel the whole project. 🙂

  241. Nobody ever said that *everyone* would be able to adapt to rising sea levels, etc.

  242. Willard, re: Alinsky; I happened across this handbook for how to tell the difference between progressives and liberals. I found myself asking myself how to tell the difference between progressives and *libertarians*. My best answer is, because … labels.

  243. brandon – really? Social programs specifically, government in general, gun control, economic stimulus, public schools and belief in how change is brought about are all easy demarcation lines between liberals and progressives from the list to which you linked.

    Several of the points don’t work at all for separating Lib from Prog — and there’s even contradiction. All of this dependent, of course, on even accepting their caricature of liberals — which is undoubtedly wrong, wrong, wrong. I’ve always identified myself as a far left liberal/progressive/Green. I wish I believed it was written as humor, but afraid it wasn’t. And it’s accusatory if not downright scolding — which means it must have been written by a liberal.

  244. Strike “liberals’ insert ‘libertarians’ in “easy demarcation lines between liberals and progressives” above

  245. billzog says:

    Tol’s point?

    Let’s speculate: a chunk of Psych research is problematic, therefore Climate Science is wrong? In fact, thinking it through, all the hard sciences must thereby be up for tearing down!

    He’s clearly not much phased by the proximity of his fulsomely glazed dwelling to stony projectiles.

    For that matter, much of the ‘science’ of economics is nonsense, but he’ll probably be less keen to point that one out…

  246. oneillsinwisconsin,

    brandon – really?

    Yes, really.

    Social programs specifically, government in general, gun control, economic stimulus, public schools and belief in how change is brought about are all easy demarcation lines between [libertarians] and progressives from the list to which you linked.

    The smearing starts, literally, around hereish: Progressives don’t act like prudes, puritans and prigs.

    Sort of an own goal if’n you ask me.

    Several of the points don’t work at all for separating Lib from Prog — and there’s even contradiction. All of this dependent, of course, on even accepting their caricature of liberals — which is undoubtedly wrong, wrong, wrong.

    The caricature aspect is what I was getting at when I wrote: because … labelling. Or branding if you will. It’s pretty much the same thing.

    I’ve always identified myself as a far left liberal/progressive/Green.

    If you’ve spent any significant amount of time in or near Madison, that might do it. 🙂

    I wish I believed it was written as humor, but afraid it wasn’t. And it’s accusatory if not downright scolding — which means it must have been written by a liberal.

    Well now I’m laughing with you, and very much hoping that I’m not laughing *at* you. To respond more directly and seriously to your point, I don’t think the link I cited is a Poe … I think it is absolutely sincere. Partisans of any stripe will be partisans, including me … however others may choose my stripes for me. Or I perhaps should say; especially whenever others choose to stripe me.

  247. How to communicate is a branch of psychology. Brown’s paper reveals the sorry state of research in psychology. Half of the surveyed papers report arithmatically impossible results. Two-thirds of authors ignore legitimate requests for data.

    @eli
    Prior to an “An Inconvenient Truth”, climate was a bipartisan issue.

  248. Richard,
    I’m guessing you don’t get the irony of you commenting on others presenting arithmetically impossible results? Had a chance to check your spreadsheet yet?

  249. Richard Tol (@RichardTol),

    Brown’s paper reveals the sorry state of research in psychology. Half of the surveyed papers report arithmatically impossible results. […] Prior to an “An Inconvenient Truth”, climate was a bipartisan issue.

    Have you not noticed that what comes after the break doesn’t exactly warrant much confidence given what’s written before the break?

  250. Brandon,
    You have to understand that it is all Al Gore’s fault. In fact, as far as I can tell it’s essentially all someone else’s fault – “if only x had not done y everything would have been fine “.

  251. Anders,

    Extending that a bit, it’s almost like Tol is saying that if Al Gore hadn’t turned documentary filmmaker, he’d be clamouring for mitigating AGW threats by reducing emissions ASAP.

  252. verytallguy says:

    Half of the surveyed papers report arithmatically[sic] impossible results.

    Oh my.

    Where are the 300 papers disputing the consensus Richard? #freethetol300

    The very definition of chutzpah.

  253. @brandon
    I’ve argued for greenhouse gas emission reduction since 1992.

    It would be foolish to underestimate the impact of Al Gore, the leader of the Democratic Party and the winner of the popular vote in the then-latest presidential election, making climate policy his signature issue. Together with Cheney, Gore turned climate into a party-political issue.

  254. verytallguy says:

    It would be foolish to underestimate the impact of Al Gore, the leader of the Democratic Party and the winner of the popular vote in the then-latest presidential election, making climate policy his signature issue. Together with Cheney, Gore turned climate into a party-political issue.

    Then you will be able to reference polling data showing this assertion is backed up by facts. Waiting…

  255. Richard,
    So, someone who is actively arguing for climate action is somehow hampering your ability to argue for climate action? Why don’t you just get out there and make your case, the rather than complaining about what others are doing?

  256. Richard Tol (@RichardTol),

    I’ve argued for greenhouse gas emission reduction since 1992.

    I did not know that, and will adjust my presumptions accordingly with apologies.

    It would be foolish to underestimate the impact of Al Gore, the leader of the Democratic Party and the winner of the popular vote in the then-latest presidential election, making climate policy his signature issue.

    How can you possibly be so confident of his negative impacts on the one hand whilst simultaneously trashing the state of research psychology on the other? I mean, it’s *obvious* people think Al Gore is a fat money-grubbing Green hypocrite. Question practically everyone here has been asking is whether someone *else* would have been treated materially different by those opposed to mitigating emissions?

    I’m thinking the answer is “no”.

    Together with Cheney, Gore turned climate into a party-political issue.

    I would naively expect an issue with global policy ramifications to turn political at some point. I know Gore has had his fingers in some renewables tech, and that Cheney owed favours (and no small part of his own personal fortune) to fossil fuel concerns. I have no problem with either of them for having interests in those respective industries. I like making money too.

    For better or worse, well-heeled individuals end up having the most influence in the political process if only to protect their own (special) interests. Wishing it were some other way — nay lamenting “if only it had been different” — seems an exercise in futility at best, foolish at worst.

    I think we need to play the ball where it lies, not where we’d like to drop it if rules (read: unyielding reality) were different.

  257. @wotts
    I indeed think that climate policy would be a lot further were it not for Al Gore.

  258. Richard,
    So what’s? In the UK I think it would be a lot further were it not for the GWPF.

  259. Let’s not forget that time only moves inexorably forward.

  260. Richard Tol writes: “Prior to an “An Inconvenient Truth”, climate was a bipartisan issue.

    An Inconvenient Truth, Release date: May 24, 2006.

    “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.” — Ronald Reagan 1981.
    Exxon begins funding groups to challenge the science of AGW – 1998
    The Oregon Petition makes its appearance – 1998
    GOP President George W. Bush declines to send the Kyoto Protocol to Congress for ratification — 2001
    GOP Senator James Inhofe publishes The Facts and Science of Climate Change — 2003. More Inhofe, “When I led the congressional delegation to Milan last December, I was greeted by posters that quoted me as saying global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” I thanked the green activists for uncharacteristically quoting me correctly. Global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people. It was true when I said it before, and it remains true today.” — October 2004.

    I could go on. There are hundreds – if not thousands – of examples that show Tol’s statement to be rather deficient in its recollection of history.

  261. Joshua says:

    =>> ” I indeed think that climate policy would be a lot further were it not for Al Gore.”

    And there I thought that “skeptics” were all about the science.

    Now richard tells me that they are about personality and identity and politics.

    Geez. I dont know what to think, now.

  262. Marco says:

    To add to the list just above, remember 2002’s memo by Frank Luntz. As he noted: “The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science.”

    Oh, and very relevant for this thread:
    “Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field.”

    Looks like a political spindoctor was quite afraid of consensus messaging and considered it effective…

  263. Joshua says:

    Let’s not forget how unified we’d all be about climate change if Real Climate had moderated differently and DiCaprio had never got involved.

  264. Joshua says:

    Then again, imagine how much worse it would be if Jim Hansen were fat. So maybe we should be grateful that it’s only as polarized as it is.

  265. JCH says:

    I indeed think that climate policy would be a lot further were it not for Al Gore. …

    For once he’s right. If not for Al Gore, climate policy would be a lot further back.

  266. Eli Rabett says:

    How to communicate is the total focus of marketing. The psych guys are amateurs.

  267. Eli Rabett says:

    Eli thinks climate policy would be a lot further were it not for Richard Tol

  268. Eli Rabett says:

    Of course she may disagree

  269. One wonders what the political preferences of the US Republicans would be had Gore campaigned to end child abuse.

  270. This whole thing about liberals and progressives is bunk in my opinion. There was an effort a few decades back to demonize liberals, which came from Republicans. Democrats as such wimps, they let the opposition define them. People who are older would not recognize themselves in that definition of “liberal”. I chose at one point to begin calling myself a progressive, but in my world liberals and progressives are not different. Due to the confusion, of course, namecalling is the rule rather than the exception. The rehabilitation of liberal was in the face of Republicans, not a subdivision of people who care about other people who are not wealthy, don’t like demonizing people who are “other” or struggling to get by, and think compassion and empathy are not dirty words.

    These new subdivisions are tailor-made to divide and conquer. It divides the young from those who are older too, since we learn meaning and don’t perceive (as I am explaining here) the fine tuning that “others” people like me. I am sick and tired of this, which is one of the reasons Trump is within shooting distance of winning.

  271. The demonization of Gore, like the IPCC, anything about the climate record, Mann, and any successful communicator, is very much intention. It’s not amateur. The effect of a society-wide collusion to make selfishness more acceptable is seen in the erosion of the public sphere. Nowadays, the Kochs are putting in chairs/departments/wings in even the best universities. The colonization has reached a new level, where deregulation and cutting taxes for the rich are deeply now acceptable even among people who should know better. For example, Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, a powerful member of the Koch nexus, is now a regular at the New York Times.

  272. @wotts
    I think you overestimate the GWPF. Milliband, Huhne and Davey presided over a strident climate policy, while Rudd ignores the GWPF but is driven by austerity.

  273. wheelism says:

    “Of course she may disagree.”

    Eli makes a rare foray below the belt, which reminds me…

    The Tol 301 were likely re-supposited where he pulled them from initially. If you really want to find them, release the gerbils!

  274. Richard,
    Whether I overestimate, or not, is rather irrelevant. I was simply highlighting that we can all find examples of people/organisations that have hampered progress. Complaining about them is unlikely to be constructive if your goal is to actually move forward.

  275. verytallguy says:

    @trollytol

    I think you overestimate the number of papers rejecting the consensus. Found the three hundred yet?

    How’s your arithmetic these days? Did Al Gore remove your numeracy?

  276. anoilman says:

    Tol… I’vem offered to give you $10k cold hard cash for your 300 papers. In fact lots of people have offered you money. In fact, the amount being offered to you is more than they spent on the Cook study. But still no papers.

    I’m beginning to think your 300 papers must be made up or something. I think you know you made up the number.

  277. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “…we can all find examples of people/organisations that have hampered progress.

    If “skeptics” heap hatred on Al Gore, does that mean that Gore has hampered progress?

    When “skeptics” heap hatred on Katherine Hayhoe, does that mean that Hayhoe has hampered progress?

  278. Joseph says:

    Together with Cheney, Gore turned climate into a party-political issue.

    Richard, in a previous of ATTP’s you claimed that it was bipartisan until around 2008? Do you really have any clue what you are talking about?

  279. Joshua,
    I should have said “that we think have hampered progress.”

  280. I can’t find the “what if” about if Al Gore had been installed as President (he did, in fact win the election, but there were a few things in the way, like a corrupt Florida under Jeb Bush in the tank against counting votes and a Supreme Court ready to suppress the vote (what else is new). But I did find this, which is quite funny:

    “The Temperature of Hell: A Colloquium” (Hansen is there too)
    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/07/20/the-temperature-of-hell-a-colloquium

    To encourage the widest possible range of views, Mr. Gore invited a mixture of climate experts, satanic functionaries, representatives of industry, people from the faith community, average citizens, advocates for the aged, and a large number of the souls of the damned who are dealing with these changes on a daily basis. Owing to travel restrictions on some of the participants, the convocation took place deep in a smoldering, sulfurous Hell-mouth below a subbasement in the Sony Building. The following is an edited transcript:

  281. I hope my html fail doesn’t mess with the follow on. Since I’m testing, I’d like to add SkepticalScience to the sites that unskeptical “skeptics” do their best to discredit. It’s obvious, any effective messaging is immediately attacked with the highest degree of professional PR and all its dupes and followers.

  282. Nothing to fix there, and I will shortly desist. But if anyone wants to see the best (my opinion and political preference, of course) of the US, The New Yorker is well written and insightful. Here is another link. Jane Mayer’s Dark Money was begun and the opening first published there. It is a mistake to underestimate the intent, power, and deviousness of the billionaire’s club the Koch’s have convened:
    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/08/30/covert-operations

  283. Michael 2 says:

    Consensus messaging is ubiquitous and that makes it ephemeral in its effect but it must work as it is such a popular tactic.

    “Nine out of 10 dentists recommend Crest.” (*)
    [http]://nypost.com/2006/03/12/dont-trust-those-toothpaste-ads/

    “four out of five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.”
    [http]://www.johndcook.com/blog/2010/07/06/four-out-of-five-dentists-surveyed/

    “9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes”
    [http]://www.davemacleod.com/shop/9outof10climbers.html

    “9 in 10 Native Americans aren’t offended by Redskins name”
    [https]://www.washingtonpost.com/local/new-poll-finds-9-in-10-native-americans-arent-offended-by-redskins-name/2016/05/18/3ea11cfa-161a-11e6-924d-838753295f9a_story.html

    * (Quote) “If nine out of ten dentists recommended Crest then one in every 10 didn’t. Crest might have been impressed by its findings, but I wasn’t about to use a toothpaste that 10 percent of dentists did not recommend. What did they know about it? What were they hiding?”

    There you have it. 97 percent is not 100 percent. It shines a bright light on the 3 percent; why are they different? The 97 percent is practically ignored while this blog and its readers focus on the 3 percent. Obviously the 3 percent is important.

    My brother briefly believed that millions of Bangladeshis were soon going to drown. Did it change anything? No. He worried about it for a few weeks. Polar bears were briefly the mascot for global warming. Might still be for all I know.

    Since there’s no particular harm in it I suppose you might as well beat the drum of consensus.

  284. Al Gore agrees conservatives make good messengers.

  285. wheelism says:

    If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea…does that mean that 1 enjoys it?

    – George Carlin

  286. wheelism says:

    The Ob Twos
    (or, M’s Night Shyamalanin’)

    Obtuse but forced, he sics
    belatedly and tentatively.

    He doesn’t score.

  287. anoilman says:

    Michael 2: You are confusing science with advertising. They aren’t the same thing. Among other things, I expect a lot of dissenting opinions in science. In science I expect to find contradictory evidence which should lead to further knowledge and understanding. (Global Dimming comes to mind.)

    Contradictory evidence does not in any way delete, damage, remove, destroy or invalidate the other 97% of the work, nor does it toss out all of known physics. Curiosities occur all the time in the real world.

  288. Michael 2 says:

    Susan Anderson writes: “I’d like to add SkepticalScience to the sites that unskeptical skeptics do their best to discredit.”

    So why don’t you?

    “It is a mistake to underestimate the intent, power, and deviousness of the billionaire’s club the Koch’s have convened:”

    As you probably know I love symmetry. Where you write “Koch’s” one can write Tom Steyer.

    “Steyer, who’d never contributed to a super PAC before March 2013, has given $70 million since, making him the largest single contributor to super PACs of all time. The vast majority of the former hedge fund manager’s contributions have gone to NextGen Climate Action, the campaign committee he founded.”
    [http]://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2014/10/24/revenge-of-the-democrats/

    “The effect of a society-wide collusion to make selfishness more acceptable is seen in the erosion of the public sphere.”

    While that didn’t exactly make sense I doubt “collusion” can be used for something that is “society wide”.

    I look forward to a description of what you mean by “eroding public spheres”.

  289. Tony Duncan says:

    There is a hige difference between Steyer and Koch’s.
    Steyer does not promote blatnt lies dostortions and bullshit propaganda.
    Ans while
    It SOUNDS like a lot. $30 million is chickenfeed to what Koch’s network has put into the blatant disinformation campaign through less than savory channels, includings dozens of “non profit” organizatokns whose sole purpose is to convince the public and legislators to increase profits for energy and related companies.

  290. Tony duncan says:

    Sorry, misread. It is $70 million, but still not close to kock network and allies

  291. Pingback: 2016: A year in blogging | …and Then There's Physics

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