the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Deniers and Believers

Posted by Jeff Id on February 12, 2010

Just  a quick blog on some interesting observations today.  When this machine’s harddrive went down, I lost a ton of data.  Very oddly, the hd is partially bootable and I just at this moment realized that despite the fact that the laptop has only one drive bay, the SATA interface can be plugged into my primary machine at work. Perhaps I can recover my data after all.  Anyway, that’s slowing down my messing around with temp data but I have a really cool post from NicL where he used regularized regression with UAH and ground data to create a global trend. He asked me to wait until the morning for that though.


From this link.

Skepticism is an honest search for knowledge. It is an approach to claims akin to the scientific method. It is a powerful and positive methodology (a collection of methods of inquiry) that is used to evaluate claims and make decisions. It is used to search for the (provisional) truth in matters and to make decisions that are based on sound reasoning, logic, and evidence. Skepticism is based on a simple method: doubt and inquiry. The idea is to neither initially accept claims nor dismiss them; it’s about questioning them and testing them for validity. Only after inquiry does a skeptic take a stance on an issue.

Today, I was thinking about skeptics.  After all, there are many writings around the internet discussing how climate sceptics are disorganized and don’t have a central point of belief, or consensus of message about which they congregate.    It’s a beautiful argument for those who don’t understand what makes a skeptic but as a questioning skeptical person, the answer is pretty obvious.  Ya’ can’t force a natural skeptic into a consensus (thus the URL), however, you can convince them of your position once you’ve laid out  your case in complete enough detail.

Earlier, a fellow blogger pointed to an internet article titled ‘How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic’. One paragraph with a bunch of links, which will presumably convince people like me that I should give up any skepticism on climate, is shown below.

In what I hope is an improvement on the original categorization, they have been divided and subdivided along 4 seperate lines: Stages of Denial, Scientific Topics, Types of Argument, Levels of Sophistication. This should facilitate quick retrieval of specific entries. Individual articles will appear under multiple headings and may even appear in multiple subcategories in the same heading.

I’ve become jaded enough in the last three months about climate, that I haven’t read several of the links.  The correct way to talk to a skeptic is to EXPLAIN YOUR POSITION AND GIVE CLEAR ANSWERS. That’s it.  So simple, no guides required, but from the link’s I did read, the blog linked above should have said – how to talk to a denier.

A denier is a different beast, cut from the same cloth as a believer.  A denier knows that a position is flatly wrong.  A denier of man made global warming knows intuitively that any argument for climate change by man is absolutely false.  A denier has the same mentality as a believer but doesn’t admit it.

Two sides of the same coin.

15 Responses to “Deniers and Believers”

  1. Jeff Id said

    That was cathartic, you really have to let it out sometimes.

  2. Bad Andrew said


    What I’ve come to discover after lurking and commenting on climate blogs for a couple of years, is that people have confused science with scientific-sounding beliefs.

    See, with belief you don’t have to have any understanding of the subject in question. You just regurgitate what you think the right answer is.

    Scientific knowledge isn’t just referencing a bit of information in your brain. It’s the personal experience and memory storage that came before it.

    True scientific understanding never happens unless you do the thing yourself.


  3. Ausie Dan said

    Jeff – what you say is completely correct.
    The whole issue revolves in people’s patterns of cognitive reasoning and their ability to accommodate uncertainty.
    That includes concrete or abstract thinking, wish for simple clear answers or wish to tease out subtle differences; reaction to congative dissonence; etc.

    From my observation (and perhaps displaying my biases), believers range from the most simplstic to the most sofisticated thinking.
    Deniers are usually of the flat earth type – NO, that’s all there is to it – NO warming or, with the slightest addeded complexity – yes it has go warmer BUT humans have nothing to do with it AT ALL – I JUST KNOW!!!

    skeptics just want to test the theory and see if it is robust.

    Me – I look at the temperature trend and ask where is the evidence that CO2 has made a difference?
    I’m blind appearently – I cannot see it in the data.

  4. MrPete said

    If you are truly in danger of losing data on a drive, please contact me. I have a bit of expertise w/ such things that goes beyond the usual (and w/o spending thousands on cleanroom data recovery services.)

  5. Jeff Id said

    #4 MrPete,

    Very kind to say the least.

    I’ve managed to rescue most of the critical AGW stuff, there was no “known” significant personal or work stuff to rescue. At work my computer has 5 HD with two pairs of mirrored raids the second pair a manual mirror of the first, backup on a different server. This type of data insanity has come through 29 years of programming. I hate loosing data.

    If the HD is lost fully, there are a few files which I’m sure will be missed but I wouldn’t consider requesting your expertise on those unless absolutely necessary, however, as someone who fixes far too many computers, the offer is very appreciated.

    Please don’t construe this as an “I know what to do” comment, my background is as a science/math/robotics/vision system programmer, not an IT person of any sort. The first thing done to my computers is turn off the junk so I don’t have to deal with it.

  6. Tom Fuller said

    Hi Jeff, good luck getting your data out of the box. I’ve written a lot recently on the inability of skeptics to hold a line against warmists–perhaps you had me in mind? Anyways, I don’t think you skeptics should try herding cats to maintain a political position, but you should bear a few cliches in mind.

    When your opponent is busy making a mistake, don’t interrupt him.

    When you’ve got your opponent down, finish him off.

    Follow through. This is especially relevant. Because skeptics are all independent cusses, you do too much work alone and on your own dime. You all take a project up to the point of making a real contribution to the debate, hit post and take a well-deserved break. But you all need to stick around, answer questions, clarify what you did and even take a few bows. I’ve seen this happen with you all over and over again.

    So I don’t think you need to ‘organise.’ But you should recognise that you are in a struggle of ideas, act professionally and take responsibility for the ideas and work that you put before the public.

  7. actually thoughtful said

    I’ve become jaded enough in the last three months about climate, that I haven’t read several of the links. The correct way to talk to a skeptic is to EXPLAIN YOUR POSITION AND GIVE CLEAR ANSWERS. That’s it. So simple, no guides required, but from the link’s I did read, the blog linked above should have said – how to talk to a denier.

    I like this idea – three classes. Although I personally think there are 4 – denier, skeptical and inclined to doubt the AGW claims, skeptical and inclined to accept the AGW claims, and AGW believer.

    Sadly, the deniers and believers (each their own quasi-religion) get in the way of the legitimate skeptical discussions.

    I personally think it doesn’t help too much to tell someone their world view is a religion. But I am at a loss as to what to with the vast majority of posters I find on the internet that do not accept, interact or react to/with facts and logic.

    For whatever reason this helps me as it gives me a way to think about who I am interacting with. I should assume of course that they are a form of skeptic until proven otherwise.

    And sadly, I think many people claim the mantle of skeptic (or open minded) when they are, by their posts, in the believer/denier class.

  8. Ray said

    Skepticism has two distinct meanings, both valid, the first and most ancient being philosophical skepticism, which denies the possibility of any knowledge, and the second being scientific skepticism, which came much later and which, as Oxford says, is (and I quote): “Occasionally, from its etymological sense: a truth seeker; an inquirer who has not yet arrived at definite conclusions.”

    More on this subject here:

    (Note: that article first appeared, in slightly different form, on Dr. Jennifer Marohasy’s excellent, erstwhile website:

  9. people should just learn to say ” I withhold judgement”

    You really dont have to make any loony tune arguments about sun spots and cosmic rays and biotic oil and whatever.
    You dont have to accuse people of frauds and hoaxes.

    Show me your data and show me your code or I withhold judgement.

    If more people would just take this position the debates would get pretty damn boring.

  10. stumpy said

    “In light of new evidence I sir will change my mind, what will you do?”

    I believe climate models needs to include all natural variability correctly before they have any skill and would need to be proven empirically through accurate and correct predictions, until that is done, no one can assess or claim any influence due to man. Until then I remain sceptical of the IPCC and their models and their hypothesis. When it comes to assumed positive feedbacks I am especially sceptical. I do not however deny that AGW may be real, and maybe a serious threat to us, but I also remain open to allow other hypothesis but take none seriously until they first pass the “understandibility” and “common sense” tests are proven empirically. That makes me a sceptic, but then its my job to review the work of others so I have to be!

  11. Thank you. I’ve had problems on how to adress “believers” in my native tongue, Spanish.
    And it was so simple!
    From now on, they will be “creyentes”.

  12. SamG said

    I’ve found that both skeptic and pro-AGW blogs produce zealotry.

    A belief is a belief, regardless of its real or apparent authenticity; something I have trouble explaining to bloggers from time to time.

    Often, all I see is flag waving bolstered by ‘facts’ which the user does not understand. Considering that most people are not intimate with the science, both sides represent a large constituency of agendas parading as truth. =belief.

    I enjoy blogs but some of the commentary (even on skeptic blogs) is jingoistic and uncritical. Some comments are just stupid.
    Like any movement, skepticism can be marred by ideology and the title ‘skeptic’ does not preclude the possessor of such flaws.

    Having said that, I am a skeptic but sway towards the idea that anthropogenic warming probably does exist to some unknown extent.
    There is however much personal interest in exaggerating these affects and condemning humankind, mainly from the left.

    Ultimately I’d like to see less partisan politics and less publicity to conservative figures just because they are skeptics.

    I’m not really referring to this place. Just saying….

  13. Maurice J said

    Any Scientific Hypothesis gains support by the accumulation of supporting Empirical Evidence over time. Each piece of Evidence is tested again and again by others and if it is not falsified it continues to stand. Getting sound tested Empirical Evidence over time allows a Hypothesis to become a Theory, there are many many Scientific Theories in play today, and very occasionally long standing ones are falsified, and hence discarded.
    In the case of the NULL Hypothesis of AGW, first proposed in 1938, ironically as a good thing, people in those days feared a coming Ice Age, still to this day has NO SUPPORTING EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE PERIOD. And therein lies the problem.
    The supporters of any Hypothesis have a duty to provide REAL EMPIRICAL SUPPORTING EVIDENCE. Sceptics on the other hand have a duty to test the Empirical Evidence produced and if not found false the evidence stands. In the AGW case much has been said about the effects of Warming, but none of it tells anything about the CAUSE of the warming. And Computer Models even if they could predict Climate accurately, they cannot, would still not be Evidence.
    I have a copy of the original paper published in 1938 in the Quartley Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, my father told me about it in 1961, so I have been following this saga for some time.
    Empirical Evidence is what true Sceptics need, and in the AGW case WE ARE STILL WAITING, AFTER 72 YEARS.

  14. Maurice J said

    By the way, my position on Climate Change is that it is real, has always happened, is happening, and will continue to happen, and it is PREDOMINANTLY NATURAL.
    IF (and it is a big if) mankind has any effect it will require a different reason than the production of CO2 (Plant Food)
    To blame and tax CO2 (Plant Food) is not only madness, it shows a level of intelligence below that of ancient cavemen, if that is possible.
    Earths atmosphere is CO2 impoverished, and given CO2 is the GIVER of ALL LIFE ON EARTH we need more of it not less.

  15. PhilJourdan said

    Skeptic is not a belief. It is the non-belief without proof. IN other words, we may be believers in Plate Techtonics, but not in Acid Rain. We may believe in the Big Bang, but not in AGW. The problem with those who want to think there is this mass of disbelief that they have to sway is as the article indicated, incorrectly placed. YOu are not going to win us over with wine and cheese. Just good science. And that is in short supply in the AGW belief.

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