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« Beddington on tipping points | Main | David King has the answer - central planning and more spending »

Potty-mouthed Nature

Here is an extraordinary example of the depths to which academic journals are willing to go in support of the great green cause.

Count how many times Bain et al use the "d-word" in their paper on attitudes towards AGW - it certainly looks as if the authors intended to generate offence and controversy rather than truth and light. Hilariously, the authors are writing about how to convert people to the green cause!

I think it's pretty interesting that the editors have decided to give their backing to this kind of thing. One almost wonders if they are struggling for readers and need to try to get some attention. Of course it has long been clear that Nature has been so corrupted by greenery as to put a question mark over all of its output. This latest paper is just confirmation of what we already knew.

(As ever, do not respond in kind)

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Reader Comments (147)

Just dug around the links a bit more and found their definition of "denier"

Study 1 data were collected in May–July 2011. From an overall sample of 488 people, a screening item asked whether participants (1) believed humans were contributing substantially to climate change, (2) believed climate change was occurring, but that humans were not contributing substantially to it, or (3) did not believe the climate was changing. Those who chose (2) (n=119) or (3) (n=57) were classified as climate change deniers (n=176; 36% of total sample) and completed the survey.

My emphasis above.

So the majority of "deniers" are defined as someone who actually believe climate change is happening but dispute the use of the word "substantial" when attributing the cause to humans!?

That seems to me to be incredibly weak support of the use of the strong word "deniers" for the whole of that group. How do you get to do a job (I assume it is paid?) creating this crap and get published in Nature with all the attendant kudos that implies!? Maybe I could sell my soul to inanity and drivelling uselessness and make a living at this too? Seems easy. ;)

Jun 18, 2012 at 11:18 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Good to see Richard and Doug expressing doubts about this:

Richard Betts @richardabetts
@NatureClimate Also, "Denier" is an unnecessarily inflammatory label, and only causes distraction by getting people worked up. Bad move.

Doug McNeall ‏@dougmcneall
Is this @NatureClimate paper actively courting controversy, or just hopelessly oldschool?

This isn't the first time Nature Climate has behaved like this. Back in April they sent a tweet referring to the NASA employees who had asked NASA to stop making exaggerated claims as 'deniers'.

And on April 22 they had an article "Nature Climate Change look at an education battle against denialists." (fortunately hidden behind paywall). Written by a journalist (Mason Inman).

Jun 18, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I'm a bit shocked that the results of a questionnaire gets published as a "scientific" "paper" in Nature. Is this the peer-review process that climate "scientist" make pop-video's about?

There is not a shed of scientific content in this paper.


Bain et al standing by the main graph of their paper entitled "A sizeable (and growing) proportion of the public in Western democracies deny the existence of anthropogenic climate change." The graph of course, would be in the shape of a Hockey Stick!

The caption could be - "Converting Deniers, one hockey-stick at a time."

Jun 18, 2012 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterHeide De Klein

Richard Betts--Belief in the greenhouse effect, of increasing temperature with increasing carbon dioxide, IS being religiously held (apparently, this includes you), against the definitive evidence against it, of the proper comparison of temperatures in the atmospheres of Venus and Earth. There is no such greenhouse effect whatsoever, so there is no mechanism for AGW as defined by the scientifically incompetent "consensus". You and every other academic, or academic defender, are engaging in mass-delusional avoidance behavior of the first order (against the clear, definitive facts), and don't deserve to be called scientists.

Jun 18, 2012 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

Perhaps Nature Climate Change's acceptance of this execrable example of "scholarship" may go back to that dreadful Anderegg et al paper (circa June 2010), in which the authors spoke of those who were "convinced" and those who were "unconvinced" by the "tenets of anthropogenic climate change".

The late, great "communicator", St. Stephen of Stanford, was instrumental in pushing this particularly shoddy paper, entitled "Expert credibility in climate change", through the hallowed whatevers of PNAS.

As far as I know, this was the first attempt to put an academic gloss on their efforts to persuade others that those who are "unconvinced" by the "tenets" ought not to be listened to - because they haven't published as many papers and therefore lack "expertise"! Quantity obviously trumps quality in "climate science".

To their (relative) "credit", I suppose, Anderegg et al invoked the d-word only once in their text:

This group, often termed climate change skeptics, contrarians, or deniers, has received large amounts of media attention and wields significant influence in the societal debate about climate change impacts and policy.

But to their great discredit - or more to the point that of PNAS - this paper's "keywords" (or categorizations) were as follows:

citation analyses | climate denier | expertise | publication analysis | scientific prominence

Thereby establishing this meaningless phrase - well, meaningless except as the highly offensive label it was clearly intended to be - as being academically "acceptable", and paving the way for acceptance of the continued descent into the denigrating psychobabble of the likes of Lewandowsky, Corner, Bain and their ilk.

Instead of scraping the bottom of the smearing barrel, perhaps they should consider the fact that these "tenets" are questioned simply because those who hold them have repeatedly failed in their obligation to show their work - including all the data and their methodologies - so that their work can be as easily replicated by their "foes" as by their "friends".

And it might also help if the psychobabblers would cease their activism and urge the climate scientists to stick to their science - instead of insisting that the rest of us should adopt their preferred policy choices.

Jun 18, 2012 at 11:54 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

We’re going to be seeing a lot more of these campaigns based on “polls”, not least because after the Shakun mauling and a few others like it more recently, it’d take a brave climate scientist to come up with a suitably alarming paper, which was so bullet proof, it couldn’t be torn to pieces in public. Apart from the usual headline seeking celebrity scientists, the rest are keeping their head down. The alarmists, being gradually stripped of any bogus scientific authority, will increasingly turn to pure propaganda.

Gergis joins Shakun, just to underscore the lesson that junk alarmist science, will get torn to pieces by the skeptic blogosphere. They now have to resort to rigged polls and psychobabble to keep up some sort of forward momentum.


Jun 18, 2012 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

Well I read the article and the even worse PDF at the bottom and all I can say is Orwell wrote a book about these kinda people but the scariest part is they don't realise they are the ones applying the rat helmet.

Now hold still the rat chewing your face off is for your own good.

I have a feeling this centaury the way it is going really will be one of the darkest in human history.

Jun 18, 2012 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

One of the Nature Climate Change editors used to work for WWF.

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:03 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Harry - you don't happen to be a "Skydragon", do you?

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:03 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Meanwhile, forensic analysis of the literature shows that as early as the late 1940s [confirmed in a separate study in the 1970s], the great Chemical Engineer Hoyt C. Hottell at MIT proved experimentally that above ~200 ppmV [in an infinitely long physical path], the emissivity/absorptivity of CO2 levels off.

This means there can be no CO2-AGW: Schumann, Reinhardt, Metallurgical Engineering, Volume 1, Addison-Wesley, 1952

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

Richard Betts:
'Neither "Belief" nor "Denial" have any place in a subject that relies on scientific evidence, and continual testing and review of that evidence. It should be about being either convinced or not convinced by the evidence.'

Labelling someone who is not convinced as a 'denier' is to be reduced to absolutes. It is a self-protection against disillusionment. A 'believer' needs to believe in denialism as much as he needs to believe in a wayward climate... and both (they frequently convince themselves) are 'worse than we thought'. In the real world, the undecided attention a person gives a subject is called 'curiosity' - without which, science (and much more besides) would not exist.

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter S

I actually think their method of defining believers / deniers is quite good.
Q1 Do you believe that the climate is changing?
Q2 (If yes) Do you believe that humans are contributing substantially to climate change?
They’re going to miss some of us nitpickers who may say “yes” to both, or “perhaps”, but that it doesn’t matter, the amount of change is unknown, change may be beneficial etc. There are acceptable margins of error in social research, as in anything else.
My criticism of all research of this kind is that, in order to get quantifiable results which bear some relation to established psychology theory, they are obliged to make their respondents jump through such peculiar hoops that the results become uninterpretable, however statistically significant they may be.
This research involves getting respondents to perform scalar evaluations of science fiction scenarios they’ve written themselves. Corner’s research involved Corner writing spoof editorials from warmist and sceptical points of view. And lo and behold, Corner’s sceptical editorials were more convincing than his warmist ones!
Interpretation of this stuff is like Talmudic exegesis. Fun for a certain kind of mind, but that’s all. If you want to know what deniers think, why not sit down with a bunch of them and have a chat over a cup of tea?

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:17 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Using the word "believer" tells you more about the psychology of those writing the paper than the people they claim to have studied.

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered

[snip] CO2 absorbs specific IR bands but look at the text books and there is no direct mechanism for its thermalisation as claimed wrongly by climate science. Now read:

It took the genius of Nahle to prove by reducing the thickness of the container wall the heating disappeared. The Gibbsian principle of Indistinguishability [see his ‘Paradox’] means GHGs pseudo-scatter the absorbed energy and most thermalisation is at heterogeneous interfaces.

So long as this experiment is replicated and there is no other explanation, [snip] Richard Betts must accept this too.

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

Full marks to Geoff Chambers and the 'Old Contemptibles'! 'We are Fred Karno's army, Fred Karno's infantry, We cannot fight, we cannot shoot what ***** use are we, But when we get to Berlin the Kaiser he will say....' etc. Long may they be remembered.

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJakartaJaap

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:17 PM | geoffchambers

I actually think their method of defining believers / deniers is quite good.

Sorry I believe their list of "climate change deniers" should only include the people who answer yes to

(3) did not believe the climate was changing.

So I actually think their method of defining believers / deniers is quite shit and self serving. Weird how this is so subjective eh? ;)

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:34 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

TLITB's observation at 11:18 AM was (unsurprisingly for a leopard) well spotted.

Without a clear definition of "substantially" in their survey, the distinction the paper's authors make between "believers" and "deniers" (with 64% of the former and 36% of the latter) is virtually meaningless. Their apparent assumption that believers (i.e. those who agree that humans were contributing substantially to climate change) accept the need for acting "pro-environmentally" (whatever that means) is almost certainly misplaced. I suspect, for example, that many contributors to this blog would agree that, since the advent of industrialisation and population growth, humans have contributed to climate change. And, if that contribution was, say, 15% (compared perhaps with 2% pre-industrialisation), that could properly be described as "substantial". But a 15% contribution to is not the same as the cause of climate change.

In other words, the denial problem may be even worse than they think.

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:34 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

I remain to be worked up about the denier label. There is overwhelming evidence that the holocaust happened. For the denier label to stick for man made global warming don't we first need to have the overwhelming evidence?

It is at the very least a foot in the door to determine the prejudices of the people using the term - what is it they think I am denying?

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

PeterS makes the point that the believer is obliged by his belief to think that denialism, like the state of the climate, is “worse than we thought”.
I’ve tried reading comments here from the point of view of a Bain or a Corner, and I’m sure they would conclude that we ARE worse than their worst imaginings - totally off the wall in fact.
Take Shevva’s excellent observation that this may turn out to be the century of the face-eating rat. I agree, and I agree with Leopard’s excellent slogan “sod Godwin”. It would take me a long time to explain why a piss-poor paper about the relation between warm feelings and climate change makes me think of 1984, but it does, and I bet I’m not the only one. But Bain and Corner, who are certainly decent blokes who wouldn’t hurt a fly (well, maybe a fruit fly, but only in the interest of research) must look at our comments and conclude that we’re even madder than they though we were.
Should we tone down our comments in order to give a better impression, or turn up the volume to irritate them further?

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I am curious what the editor would reply but I doubt he will reply. I agree with your letter but I think it is obscure. I think there would have been a higher chance of reply if you said that you found the term "denier" offensive and explained why.

Jun 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSeth Roberts

Seth - if the editor of Nature Climate Change needs be explained why "denier" is offensive, then he is a self-certified moron.

Jun 18, 2012 at 1:05 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

As an Australian I wish to tender my profound apologies.

I don't know what else to say

Jun 18, 2012 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorgeL

Oh please. Someone uses the 'd-word' and everyone is so offended at the lack of decorum (even when it is absolutely plain that denial is a very common thread here), and yet Tim Worstall's profanity laced tirades are 'agreeable'? Double standards much?

Jun 18, 2012 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Same old rubbish "If you don't believe the 'science' its not because you really disbelieve because no rational person could, its because you've got some ideological agenda that makes you say black is white". Wrong wrong wrong. The case for 'belief' is so weak and so full of holes that no-one reasonable person who is not party to the party could possibly believe it, after having looked at the evidence for more than 5 minutes.

Jun 18, 2012 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Nature has become "Social Text"

Jun 18, 2012 at 1:47 PM | Registered CommenterPatagon

Frank: Al Gore reportedly invented the 'denier' tag in the early 1990s specifically to associate people sceptical of the fake IPCC**science with Holocaust Deniers. It is a fact that Generation Investment Management plc, based in London and run by David Gore, ex CEO of GS, stands to make billions for both from carbon trading, so no conflict of interest there then.

**I'm a 'sceptic' because I and others have proved the IPCC scientific 'consensus' wrong beyond any reasonable doubt. However, I am not a 'denier' in that i know for a fact there has been climate change, now reversing fast.

Jun 18, 2012 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree


As another Australian I think you said just about all that any of us ought decently to say.

Jun 18, 2012 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterMique


No, just because some idiots, who happen to be your fellow countrymen, appear to think that they can advance their cause by trying to be rude, does no mean to say you should huniliate yourselves. Quite frankly, if someone has to be insulting in order to win an aggument, they must have a pretty poor case.

Jun 18, 2012 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneToTheSlammer

GeorgeL and Mique - as another Australian, we have absolutely nothing to apologise for. Any other social "scientist" in the world could have trotted out the same limp psychobabble. I mentioned the Rats of Tobruk earlier when geoffchambers referred to the Old Contemptibles. In this war of words and a war it is, we can learn from General Morshead the commander of the 9th Division during the seige. From Wiki -

His attitude was summed-up in a reported remark, made when his attention was drawn to a British propaganda article entitled "Tobruk can take it!" Morshead commented: "we're not here to take it, we're here to give it."

Jun 18, 2012 at 2:21 PM | Registered CommenterGrantB

"Deniers may eventually be convinced by sustained efforts at communicating climate science, or through personal experiences attributable to climate change such as flooding"

If flooding is attributable to climate change then climate change must have always been with us.

Earlier in the paper one of the reasons they give for the existence of deniers is ignorance.

Jun 18, 2012 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterpotentilla

Henceforth I will refer to them as "climate commies."

Jun 18, 2012 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

Bish, I've weighed in on it and sent a letter as well.

Thanks for taking the lead on this!

Jun 18, 2012 at 3:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Watts

I really don't mind being called 'a denier', but for it to make sense, you cannot just 'deny' in isolation. There has to be an object of one's denial. So a true description has to be 'a denier of xxxxx'. Holocasut denial at least gives an idea of what is supposedly being denied.

And nobody has ever satisfactorily filled in that 'xxxxx' for climatology.

Same with alarmist reports on the TV. 'Children at risk during summer. You have to finish the phrase with 'of xxxxx'

Jun 18, 2012 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

What is it, precisely, that I am denying? In your view.

Jun 18, 2012 at 3:28 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

What I am denying is that human activity is having any measurable effect on global temperature. This whole argument is about detecting human influence on climate and I firmly deny that on the basis of all that I have read

Jun 18, 2012 at 3:33 PM | Registered CommenterDung

They certainly did not establish any intelligence requirements when they selected the people for their questions ^.^

while I personally don’t believe in climate change as a recent phenomenon, I do agree with reducing our carbon emissions

Jun 18, 2012 at 3:37 PM | Registered CommenterDung

My mate Latimer (He bought me a pint once) asked why this was funded? The answer is budgets and anyone with any experience of real life knows that budgets always get spent, even on tosh like this paper. If they had any brains at all they would just have stuck a home cinema system through at the last minute and dropped the paper.

Jun 18, 2012 at 3:42 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"...climate change action would increase interpersonal warmth in society"

We might wonder what catastrophic interpersonal warming looks like - but as this is a family site, it's perhaps best not to.

Jun 18, 2012 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter S

Forgive me if I've "responded in kind" above.

These kinds of papers are akin to those written by state-sanctioned psychologists in the Soviet Union which were invariably characterized by the principle that if you don't see and embrace the overwhelming logic of scientific Marxism, you must be insane and kept under observation.

Implicit (or rather explicit?) in such thinking is that rejecting the voluminously documented history of the Holocaust is analogous to expressing skepticism over catastrophic AGW. In other words, if you don't think like us you think like a Nazi.

The irony is that when they declare that "the debate is over" and that the "consensus" science is irrefutable, they assume the role of the coercive authoritarian.

Jun 18, 2012 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

If the people who wrote this paper are missionaries - as the references to conversion suggest they believe themselves to be - can we not just boil them in large tureens and eat them? Thereby converting them into useful energy.

Jun 18, 2012 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

denier = heretic

That's the starting point for understanding this new religion of CAGW.

Papers like this one are part of the campaign, trying to figure out the best tactical ways to squeeze out or overwhelm heresy wherever it is found.

The activities of "climate communications" research and continual "re-framing" of terms are integral to the pseudo-science of CAGW. The fact that in terms of democratic politics they sometimes have to make nice, or simply lie about what they are doing, does not alter the fact that the new "climate communications" paradigm is designed to alter, re-educate, modify all these pesky heretics.

Perhaps an antidote to the poison is in order:

Matt Ridley's "Scientific Heresy" Angus Millar RSA lecture

[I don't agree with all details and terms of discussion but I do think that Ridley has done a powerful "re-framing" of the controversies to counter the usual CAGW terms of debate.]

interesting BH thread on the Ridley lecture

Jun 18, 2012 at 4:18 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

It's very strange how someone can think that "Belief in the greenhouse effect, of increasing temperature with increasing carbon dioxide, IS being religiously held (apparently, this includes you), against the definitive evidence against it" whilst at the same time being able to write twaddle like this.

Jun 18, 2012 at 4:36 PM | Registered Commentersteve ta

Certainly a paper to keep for posterity.

One day, people will be writing papers on the psychology of how AGW-belief took on the characteristics of a religion. This will be one of the star references.

Jun 18, 2012 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

p.s. to my comment, of course the new "climate communications" movement (for which this academic paper aims to be a flag bearer) are being conducted in full knowledge that the direct frontal assaults aimed at persuasion and change have not been (sufficiently) effective. The authors of this paper are all about trying to find ways to channel 'deniers' into environmentally appropriate activities to please the CAGW religion. If they can't modify us directly they will first try to move us into what they view as politically correct activities.

Jun 18, 2012 at 4:44 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

"Certainly a paper to keep for posterity."

I certainly won't deny that! Some of these pieces of "research" remind me of the Smash adverts from the 1970's

Jun 18, 2012 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I'm a bit confused by option (3): Denied the climate was changing.

Changing from something which always has changed (i.e. ceasing to change)?
Bit difficult to know whether to say yes or no to that one, tbh.

Jun 18, 2012 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Some may label the language in this paper as "offensive," but it is the lack of scientific accuracy that is the real issue. Victimhood may be of a fashion in some quarters, but it should be rejected by those seeking the truth through science. If one assigns the label "denier" to someone that actually is a denier, not offense has occurred. If one uses the same term for those who don't deny, the sin is scientific, not social.

The editors should not be scolded for allowing the word "denier" to be used, they should be scolded for its misuse. The usage was not only unsupported by the evidence, it was contradicted by the evidence.

How can a periodical, which wishes to be considered a serious scientific journal, miss such an obvious error? That's what the editors should be asked.

Jun 18, 2012 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon

Barbara said "I'm a bit confused by option (3): Denied the climate was changing."

Good point - if one was to compare the Earth's climate to say Jupiter and Venus, I think you would conclude that our climate is extremely stable within pretty tight limits. So I guess it doesn't change.

Jun 18, 2012 at 5:38 PM | Registered Commentersteve ta

"They need to calm it down or become a laughing stock."

Why? You don't want them to become a laughing stock?

Jun 18, 2012 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Steiner

Putting aside for a moment the controversy of the "denier" label, their schema is completely adrift from what "denier" is supposed to mean in the climate debates. Their three options do not approach the distinction between those who believe something catastrophic is imminent and those who think that whatever is happening is not such a huge deal that we all must do economic cartwheels yesterday. The "skeptics" vary widely but mainly agree in doubting the "catastrophic" claims. The schema in the study is:

(1) believed humans were contributing substantially to climate change,
(2) believed climate change was occurring, but that humans were not contributing substantially to it, or
(3) did not believe the climate was changing.
Those who chose (2) (n=119) or (3) (n=57) were classified as climate change deniers (n=176; 36% of total sample)

To be even slightly accurate as a first brush, their schema needs to start from (and then elaborate) something like this:

(1) believed catastrophic climate change is imminent, caused predominantly by human activities, and largely preventable by feasible changes now in human activities, and

(2) everyone else.

Jun 18, 2012 at 5:48 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

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