Posts Tagged ‘Conspiracy Theories’

‘Climate dice’ now dangerously loaded: leading scientist

From Yahoo! News:

PARIS (AFP) – Evidence for global warming has mounted but public awareness of the threat has shrunk, due to a cold northern winter and finger-pointing at the UN’s climate experts, a top scientist warned Wednesday.

“That gap has increased substantially in the last year,” Hansen told a press conference during a visit to Paris.

“While the science was becoming clearer, the public’s perception became less clear, in part because of the unusually cold winter in both North America and Europe, and in part because of the inappropriate over-emphasis on small minor errors in IPCC documents and because of the so-called Climategate.”

Full article here:

Climate Change and the Integrity of Science

From Skeptical Science:

Climate Change and the Integrity of Science: a letter to Science

A letter Climate Change and the Integrity of Science has been published in the journal Science. It’s written by 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel laureates (here’s the complete list plus their university affiliations). I recommend reading the entire letter but here is an excerpt:

There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet…

… The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected. But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

  1. The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.
  2. Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
  3. Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth’s climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.
  4. Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.
  5. The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

Much more can be, and has been, said by the world’s scientific societies, national academies, and individuals, but these conclusions should be enough to indicate why scientists are concerned about what future generations will face from business-as-usual practices. We urge our policy-makers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the un restrained burning of fossil fuels.

The scientists are the members of the NAS most familiar with climate science, as explained by lead signer Peter Gleick:

It is hard to get 255 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to agree on pretty much anything, making the import of this letter even more substantial. Moreover, only a small fraction of National Academy members were asked to sign (the signatories are all members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences but were not speaking on its behalf). Because of a desire to produce a statement quickly, the coordinators of the letter focused on those sections of the NAS most familiar with climate science and the ongoing debate. But the NAS (and Academies of Sciences and other professional scientific societies from dozens of other nations) has previously published a long set of assessments and reviews of the science of climate change, which support the conclusions laid out in the Science essay.

Lastly, here is a link to the National Academy of Science’s Policy advice, based on science, to guide the nation’s response to climate change.

Misconception: Scientists Disagree on Everything

Another excellent article rom Recovering Fundamentalists in their misconceptions about science series:

This misconception is frequently alluded to in Christian circles in an attempt to discount the findings of the scientific community as merely “one man’s opinion.” While there is a constant hum of debate among scientists, Christians seem to think that no one agrees on anything, and that there are no theories that aren’t questionable.

This is not true. The body of accepted scientific knowledge is vast and elegantly interwoven. But this is only accomplished through dialog and criticism.

The Paranoia of Beck and Limbaugh

From Watching the Deniers:

The paranoid  style of American politics:  Beck, Limbaugh claim oil spill deliberate sabotage

To quote Limbaugh:  

But this bill, the cap-and-trade bill, was strongly criticized by hardcore environmentalist wackos because it supposedly allowed more offshore drilling and nuclear plants, nuclear plant investment. So, since they’re sending SWAT teams down there, folks, since they’re sending SWAT teams to inspect the other rigs, what better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig? I’m just noting the timing here.”  

In short, the Obama administration deliberately sabotaged the Deep Horizon oil rig to create a disaster that would allow them to… I’m not sure. Provide an excuse for the cap-and-trade legislation? Blunt efforts for more offshore drilling of the coasts of the US?  

I call this the “I’m just saying…” approach to conspiracy theory making. In short, you don’t need to present evidence.  You simply connect two (or more) unrelated events and hint at a connection.  

Such conspiracy making is almost impossible to refute, as the accuser retreats to the fall back “Yeah, but I’m just saying…”  

It’s really quite amazing why anybody would believe anything these two say.  It’s also quite frightening that there are a lot of people who do believe what these two have to say.  Just goes to show that some people will believe anything no matter how irrational or incredible the source.

Science as Faith?

From Recovering Fundamentalists:

Misconception #2: Theories Require “Faith” to Believe.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that scientists have just as much faith in their theories as religious people do in their dogma. It frustrates me every time. Anyone who says this is defining theory, faith, or both, incorrectly.

Faith has multiple definitions.

1. Confidence or trust in a person or thing
2. Belief that is not based on proof
When Christians make the statement that science requires faith, it seemingly defines “faith” under definition #1, but the implication bleeds into definition #2. The statement implies that just as Christian principals [sic] haven’t been proven, scientific theories haven’t been proven either. One implication, for example, that the Theory of Evolution is “just a theory” and therefore should not be believed.

The word “Theory” also has multiple definitions. Here are two:
1. A coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena
2. A proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.

Christians often think the scientific use of the word “theory” falls under definition #2. That is incorrect. Science uses the word as defined in definition #1. Evolution is a theory that explains the developing complexity of life. Gravity is a theory that explains physics. If a person doesn’t believe in either theory, then they are faced with the daunting task of refuting the mountains of data that support them. Simply saying, “well, gravity is just a theory” is a very weak argument against gravity, and reveals an incorrect usage of the word “theory.”
So if someone says it requires faith to believe a theory, they are being slippery with definitions and implying something absolutely wrong.

Evolution and Global Warming are frequently referred to as religions by fundamentalists.  Its misleading and dishonest and nothing more than a desperate attempt to undermine science that threatens their preconceived notion of how the world should work.  Read the rest of the article here.


The Five Characteristics of Scientific Denialism

From Skeptical Science:

  1. Conspiracy theories
    When the overwhelming body of scientific opinion believes something is true, the denialist won’t admit scientists have independently studied the evidence to reach the same conclusion. Instead, they claim scientists are engaged in a complex and secretive conspiracy. The South African government of Thabo Mbeki was heavily influenced by conspiracy theorists claiming that HIV was not the cause of AIDS. When such fringe groups gain the ear of policy makers who cease to base their decisions on science-based evidence, the human impact can be disastrous.
  2. Fake experts
    These are individuals purporting to be experts but whose views are inconsistent with established knowledge. Fake experts have been used extensively by the tobacco industry who developed a strategy to recruit scientists who would counteract the growing evidence on the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. This tactic is often complemented by denigration of established experts, seeking to discredit their work. Tobacco denialists have frequently attacked Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine at the University of California, for his exposure of tobacco industry tactics, labelling his research ‘junk science’.
  3. Cherry picking
    This involves selectively drawing on isolated papers that challenge the consensus to the neglect of the broader body of research. An example is a paper describing intestinal abnormalities in 12 children with autism, which suggested a possible link with immunization. This has been used extensively by campaigners against immunization, even though 10 of the paper’s 13 authors subsequently retracted the suggestion of an association.
  4. Impossible expectations of what research can deliver
    The tobacco company Philip Morris tried to promote a new standard for the conduct of epidemiological studies. These stricter guidelines would have invalidated in one sweep a large body of research on the health effects of cigarettes.
  5. Misrepresentation and logical fallacies
    Logical fallacies include the use of straw men, where the opposing argument is misrepresented, making it easier to refute. For example, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined in 1992 that environmental tobacco smoke was carcinogenic. This was attacked as nothing less than a ‘threat to the very core of democratic values and democratic public policy’.

Ginny Maziarka Complains About Library’s Support of Endangered Species

From her blog, Wissup:

Local Library Takes Up Advocacy for…..gorillas?

Our local Young Adult Librarian, Kristin Pekoll (you know, the one who apparently chooses the sexually inappropriate books for our youth at our library) is now partnering with WBHS students in advocating for ….. gorillas.

Today’s West Bend News:

A number of our animal species are becoming increasingly endangered. 

    Among them are the gentle, noble and intelligent mountain gorillas. Internet sources say only about 600 to 700 of these majestic creatures are alive today and that number dwindles as their homeland is destroyed. 

    The West Bend Library is partnering with S.e.e.d, the environmental club at West Bend High School, to show people that what we do locally can affect things globally. 

I have no problem with those who want to spend their time trying to save gorillas, whales, pandas, ants, et. al,  from extinction, but I am wondering….

Would the library consider partnering with pro-life WBHS students by placing a box for maternity clothing and baby items for collection at the library to encourage women not to kill their babies?

Do public libraries generally advocate for anything not related to library issues?

Since the last library board meeting minutes posted are from February 2nd, one can hardly know if the library board approved this advocacy or not, but one can certainly learn a lot about the crappy, leaky roof.

Now she is seeing phantoms of liberal conspiracy behind the  library’s effort to educate children about endangered species.  In the mind of the religious right, environmentalism of almost any kind is viewed with suspicion because they believe it can lead to worshiping the creation and not the creator.  Environmentalism is also viewed as a conspiratorial attempt for liberal socialists to control our behavior and usher in a global Marxian utopia.  Again, they dismiss the science behind it all.  They could care less if there is actual science behind the decimation of gorilla populations or any other impact humans have on the environment.  They simply dismiss it all as fraud perpetrated by the liberal elitists and march forward with their religious crusade against humanity.  How anyone can take this woman seriously is beyond my intellectual prowess.