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So, you know that famous study that found that 97% of climate scientists are convinced that human-induced global warming is for real?  It turns out it's famous only among a select few, which we might just label "us"-- and "we" are the the 1% on this one, or maybe the 5% or so:  polling shows that there's little public perception of this scientific consensus.  John Cook-- who worked on that 97% study-- wrote about this problem as the "consensus gap" back in 2013:  Closing the Climage Change Consensus Gap

Interestingly, even among the liberal/left, there's very little grasp of how strong the scientific consensus actually is, as John Cook wrote recently over at his "Skeptical Science" site:  An Externally Valid Approach to Consensus Messaging

If you look at the graph he presents there, it appears that even among the hard-left they tend to assume that the consensus is only as strong as 70% or so.

There's been quite a bit of discussion about this and it's implications over at, between Dan Kahan, John Cook, and others:  ... Communicating "scientific consensus"

This is what I think this all means...

I submit that even liberals don't really trust the left to get the facts right: what's expected is that the left is sincere, and that they really care about the issues involved-- but that's almost the precise opposite of what you'd hope for in a reliable source, where something like independant neutrality (if not quite "objectivity") is the frequently sought ideal.

Every activist is directly engaged with trying to steer the public in the right direction, so the activist press always has an eye toward spinning things just right-- excuse me, framing the issue correctly-- even if we do often just look at this as correcting for the other side's spin.

The left does not really inspire confidence in it's ability to ferret out facts-- rather I fear we tend to parrot the things we hear that support our conclusions.  And yes, I know that the Right is far worse at this point, but that just highlights how bad the problem is: the Right is so obviously full of shit, why doesn't everyone get it at this point?

The public is effectively adrift without any reliable source of information, and without the time, energy, (and perhaps intellectual resources) it would take to evaluate what they hear.  Instead they fall back things like the rules-of-thumb that "the truth must be somewhere in between", though obviously it can fail badly-- it's hardly a logical impossiblity for the truth to be close to one of the extremes: sometimes one side side is really wrong.

And perhaps worse, a faction interested in gaming public opinion can take advantage of this flawed heuristic: they can put out a story to make sure it looks like there's some sort of controversy, and use that to move the public perception of the middle.

Given this analysis, there are different directions you might go. I'll make two points and stop:

(1) If you're going to speak out on an issue, it's not enough to just be on the right side, you really need to make sure that what you're saying is well supported, and that it looks like it's well supported.  What's at stake is not just the immediate issue, but the credibility of your side, on the problem at hand and all future problems.

(2) I think there's a missing, badly needed institution, though I'm not sure what form it should take precisely-- how do we bridge that gap between reality and perception?  What sort of information source might be created that would be trusted by the distracted and only partially engaged public mind?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for this diary, doomvox. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, doomvox, zitherhamster

    One of the problems I find in trying to refute an anti-climate change argument...the lack of a couple of good sites to go to to get lists of studies put into order ( indexed by subject; eg, the Arctic, glaciers, ocean heating, deforestation, etc), refutations of cc denial talking points and solutions( permaculture, sustainable forestry, solar and wind tech).

    Even with teh Google it can be a struggle to be going to four or five sites, after looking through the search options, to find a study on, say, deep ocean warming and choosing one that hopefully don't have time to read the answer a comment.

    There is so much information out there and only some of it seems to be available on sites like Skeptical Science.

    A fo ben, bid bont. - Welsh proverb. ( translation: If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.)

    by Gwennedd on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 02:26:13 AM PDT

    •  exactly: we need a trusted conduit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gwennedd, zitherhamster

      Thanks, yes, that's the kind of idea I'm talking about.  There are so many summary websites out there that you might think it's all covered already, but it could easily be that there's a slightly different kind of site that no one has come up with as of yet, and it might be worth doing some thinking about what that might look like.

      Starting with the Global Warming issue, I think the temptation would be to create a closed, curated site that excludes the jamming from the denialists, but that can be hard to pull off without professional management and some dedicated source of funding.

      The real trick would be to come up with some sort of collaborative site that's open to multiple voices and yet has some strong features to moderate them.

      I tend to think that wikipedia isn't really good enough, though actually it looks like it's doing okay on this one at the moment:

      But then a denialist would no doubt be sneering that the page has been dominated by an ideologically committed faction-- the appearence of fair evaluation is just as important as actually doing it.

      •  I think Skepical Science is moderated (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        So is but they post recent studies and is more for hard core science buffs. It's run by Gavin Schmidt, now Director at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

        However, RC shunts deniers comments off to the Bore Hole (a separate part of the site that collects the comments but has no interaction).

        There was a short period of time when sites that dealt with global warming removed denialist comments, but I think that they had legal issues with that and stopped doing it.

        You're right that the site would have to be moderated, but why do they have to allow comments? The site could simply collect and index studies and create a basic summary of each one( for the slightly educated). Studies tend to be full of terminology most people don't understand and are very dry reading.

        A fo ben, bid bont. - Welsh proverb. ( translation: If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.)

        by Gwennedd on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 12:11:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  no, comment boards aren't strictly necessary (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          No, comment boards (like this one) aren't strictly necessary, but similar issues arise in handling any sort of contributed material.

          You might go with something like traditional publications, a closed shop and a small team of contributors, with an explicit hierarchy (editors and sub-editors with authority over authors).

          But if you go with some form of crowd-sourced content, you need to at least consider how you'll deal with crazies, fantatics, shills and other forms of hired subversion--

          Wikipedia presumes that the Bad will always be out-weighed by the actions of the Good but doesn't even supply much in the way of a process for that to happen, which is why working on wikipedia articles often seems an exercise in masochism.

          Then there's various styles of explicit user-moderation and meta-moderation that have been tried, all of which tend to be gameable to some degree.

          It's a peeve of mine that web site designers often implicitly presume that what they're working on is a toy that will never be very important, and doesn't need robustness designed-in...

          But then, my point isn't This Is Hard Let's Forget It, my point is that we might as well try lots of different things and see if we can find something that works better than what we've got.

          •  I would think that if a study is peer reviewed (0+ / 0-)

            ( and passed) it should be included in any material indexed by the site. "Other need not apply". A site of this sort will definitely have to have a management crew made up of scientists ( who else could understand their lingo) and one or two people who work in publishing websites. Comments are not allowed; that takes care of the twits.

            I guess what I'm imagining is a simple collection of all the studies done on climate change...a "go to" site that has the study, a summary of it and a link to the original. The site should also have a fairly simple  and easy to parse explanation of what climate change is and how it affects the Earth. That should be, perhaps a separate page within the site. It's a start, anyway.

            Thanks for starting this brainstorming session.

            A fo ben, bid bont. - Welsh proverb. ( translation: If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.)

            by Gwennedd on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 07:30:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Climate change is a huge, complicated issue that (4+ / 0-)

    seems quite straight forward:  humans by their activites, growth and use of ever increased fossil fuels are causint the Earth's climate to change rapidly with dire consequences for our lives and perhaps all life on our planet.  Much education is needed for all of us to understand climate change and take action that is timely, activist, organized and focused for change.  Sounds like a very tall order given all the issues impinging on our awareness and demanding equal time.  Climate change is, however, "the issue of issues".  

    •  The "issue of issues" is right. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zitherhamster, Gwennedd

      With all the circuses going on, between the radical SCOTUS and the insanity of the Middle East situation and on and on, none of it has the potential impact on our future that this does. The disaster that is looming dwarfs almost everything else.

      Pardon me for paraphrasing pretty much what you just wrote, but it infuriates me that there's even a need to discuss it.

      Sadly, I was talking to a co-worker a while back, and we discovered we had different politics. (He's RW/pseudo libertarian) and I said I couldn't possibly support Republicans since they denied AGW. He replied "well, I think science is subjective". How do you continue against that attitude?

      •  Oh, that's an easy one... (0+ / 0-)

        If you find a conservative who says something like "well, I think science is subjective". The obvious response is "Ah, so you agreed with the post-modernists during the Science Wars of the 90s?".

        At this point, neither side is coherent, and you can usually confuse one side or the other by pointing out they've fallen into the same traps that the other side has, just on slightly different ground.

  •  Almost everybody checks the weather, right? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude, zitherhamster

    What if there was a section in the weather report devoted to talking about climate change..just a 15 second "climate change facts" kind of thing.

    I realize the US has a few national news channels...Fox is not news...and some are slanted right, but there must be one or two that lean a little left.

    Weather reports apps, can be used  to disseminate a fact a day on climate change as well.

    Just a thought.

    A fo ben, bid bont. - Welsh proverb. ( translation: If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.)

    by Gwennedd on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 03:34:44 AM PDT

  •  The consensus is even bigger (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gwennedd, doomvox, zitherhamster

    With this big consensus, you might ask your self, what peer reviewed papers deny global warming? As far as I have seen there are none. Last year from the 2259 papers only one paper rejected it. But that one paper is still pending.

    If you calculate the odds on that the consensus is either 99.99% or 100%. It means that every single paper that denies global warming is debunked!

    •  in a way it just doesn't matter that much (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gwennedd, Fietser

      I could easily believe that the real figure is stronger that 97%, but then the whole point of Cook's meta-study was not to evaluate the quality of the research, but to poll the conclusions of people working in the field.  

      It is true that the conservative critics of the 97% figure just don't seem very impressive-- as far as I can tell from a quick look, they tend to complain there were a half-dozen names that were excluded, but even if you could find a 100 anti-warming types that needed to be in the total, that wouldn't change the percentage that much.

      Even if it were only a two-thirds consensus on an issue like this, that would be pretty scary-- do we really care that much whether it's 90% or 99%?

      •  Consensus is relative (0+ / 0-)

        So true. This danger is so enormous that you might ask your self if you need a large consensus at all on this? Even if there was a 10% chance of global warming wouldn't want to take steps to curb this danger? I would.

        While I was writing this, global warming, though not literally, was on the radio. The Netherlands is getting so many refugees from Africa they have to put them on boats. Of course the news is conservative like scientists and will not say this directly.

        •  Even if it were only 10%... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          "Even if there was a 10% chance of global warming wouldn't want to take steps to curb this danger? I would."

          Well, I'd want people to at least be looking into what can be done and seriously consider doing the cheap stuff that maybe should be done anyway.  

          The thing that gets me about this is that if global warming is a big deal, then public enemy number one would be coal power, but even if CO2 emissions were no problem at all, coal power would still be killing something like 20,000 people a year in the United States (and I have no idea what the world-wide figure would look like).  Working on phasing out coal would seem to be a Good Thing even if you don't believe in global warming.   So what are we arguing about?

  •  The public prefers fantasy to reality. As long as (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    there is someone, let alone an entire industry, devoted to telling them what they want to hear, they are simply not interested in reality. This has been true for as long as we've been writing.

    It's the strange byproduct of plenty.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 04:37:57 AM PDT

  •  The Democratic Party is a Conservative Party (5+ / 0-)

    and has been since LBJ left office just as the peoples' circumstances flatlined and began their now-45 year uninterrupted decline under governance of both parties.

    They are not "liberals" no matter how often Rush Limbaugh says it. It would make more sense to take the terms "left" and "right" and center them on the divide between the two parties, so that the terms "liberal" and "progressive" could be properly limited to the small remnant far-left power block that would govern for the people more than for ownership if it could.

    (2) I think there's a missing, badly needed institution, though I'm not sure what form it should take precisely-- how do we bridge that gap between reality and perception?  What sort of information source might be created that would be trusted by the distracted and only partially engaged public mind?
    What's missing is an entire Enlightenment society, a society that actually works according to the mythology that evidently most of us still believe.

    In fact virtually all of institutional society is structurally rightwing. Its top ownership fares worse under democracy than oligarchy, even if the country and people would fare better, even if their sector overall would fare better. Sectors don't finance elections, ownership does, and so the economy and the government are run for the benefit of the ownership that run them.

    Our press --our mainstream public square in a technological society-- are corporations owned and sponsored by other corporations. There's no way for corporation-sponsored corporations to operate in the public interest except by occasional coincidence. As a general principle they must necessarily be the voice of our biggest enterprises and their rich top ownership.

    Forget rightwing media, scan the rest of the media and see how often an actual progressive or liberal is even presented in mainstream media, whether as guest or in clips. Go ahead, frame or argue any way you like, odds are you're going to be doing it in your kitchen or a family reunion or, at best, a 3rd rate cable network reaching about the same size audience you reach here.

    Our problem is much less one of phrasing and much more one of basic access. In a country where half a dozen global corporations provide 95% of the information content to the electorate, we don't have a way to reach the people with any message however eloquent.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 06:00:32 AM PDT

    •  But an information-driven conservative (0+ / 0-)

      party will act more reasonably than a belief-driven party.

    •  Rightwing Scientific Threshold (0+ / 0-)

      Normally the right don't deny scientific consensus. I can only assume that this has past some threshold they have. It happened before with smoking and the tobacco industry.

      So I guess what this means, is that if a scientific consensus has a too big of an impact in their lives, they will deny it.

      I wondered what would happen if Nasa discovered that a big meteorite at some distance is heading for our planet?

      The same?

      •  ...there was a recent study done... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fietser, Gwennedd, happymisanthropy

        ...where they asked folks questions about climate change as they were given more and more of the scientific facts. The aggregate group got more and more correct answers as this went along proving they were, as a group, taking what they were learning and applying it to answering the questions.

        Then they took all the data and divided it into liberal/Democrats and conservative/Republicans. As more of the facts were presented, the Republicans started answering incorrectly more and more. When asked why, most of them said they believed the science BUT it went against what they want politically and environmentally. In other words most of them believe it BUT it's inconvenient so they purposefully deny it...

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        ~~ from the DK Partners & Mentors Team.

        Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

        by paradise50 on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 11:13:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Here's a perfect example (0+ / 0-)

      (as yet unreported, "un-discussed" here on DKos:

      With Democrats split on inequality issues, Obama shifts talk away from income gap

      During the first half of this year, Obama shifted from income inequality to the more politically palatable theme of lifting the middle class, focusing on issues such as the minimum wage and the gender pay gap that are thought to resonate with a broader group of voters.

      The pivot is striking for a president who identified inequality as one of his top concerns after his reelection, calling it “a fundamental threat to the American Dream, our way of life and what we stand for around the globe.”

      The shift also underscores the ongoing dispute between the Democratic Party’s liberal and moderate wings over how to address inequality issues. Whereas the left takes a more combative tone, seeking to focus on the income gap and what it views as the harmful influence of big business and Wall Street, more centrist forces in the party favor an emphasis on less-divisive issues.

      The rejection of the clear and present, audaciously urgent, desperate need to unite around economic populism in order to reverse the effects of three decades of neoliberalism is the cancer in the heart of the D Party. Call it Rahmism. It is the entire reason the Republican Party--that other cancer--is as strong and dangerous as it is today, wreaking havoc on our lives. It is entire reason there will never be enough "better D's" in office to deal with what is destroying the 80%.

      I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

      Trust, but verify. - Reagan
      Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

      by Words In Action on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 08:38:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think 97% is a serious underestimate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In terms of refereed papers, I remember something like 99.97%.

    And the higher you set the credential bar, the higher the percentage becomes--and the older the dissenters are.

  •  I haven't seen any polling, but my (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    guess is that the 1% highest-income Americans are decidedly NOT climate deniers. For one thing, about 40% of the 1% are Democrats (for this we've seen polling). And the Republicans in this group tend to be from the country-club set; they care about the economy and protecting their wealth (and are highly educated) and thus are not inclined to risk all that to adhere to a non-scientific position. Just as they break from the Tea Party on shutting down the government, they would break on the more extreme religious and anti-science crap such as climate denial. The major exception to this of course are those in the oil and gas businesses.

    •  And what about the waterfront real estate (0+ / 0-)

      And it's worth considering that the wealthy own an awful lot of waterfront real estate, some of it very expensive (at the moment at least).  

      •  FEMA will keep re-building it as long as (0+ / 0-)

        the R's and Rahmite D's continue to have their way, which we all know they will.

        I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

        Trust, but verify. - Reagan
        Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

        by Words In Action on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 12:58:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  please say 99%, not 97% (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Which is the correct figure according to a summary of the latest study by Joe Romm.  We are underestimating the overwhelming weight of credible informed scientist acceptance of human-caused climate change as scientific fact.  

    Also, the correct metric to use for the wealthy is about 0.1%, or about $10 million in net worth (about 150,000 people in the US).  Among these, from experience, I know that the percentage of Republicans and climate change deniers that include not only the oil industry but folks such as Rupert Murdoch, is higher than 60% in both numbers and monetary terms.  

    As for waterfront property, there again I can speak from experience.  Waterfront property north of Edgartown in Martha's Vineyard goes for $5-15 million per, and there and in Nantucket the rich are vociferously opposed to a wind farm that they can barely see, that would replace fossil-fuel energy.

    •  I'd be tempted to put a big coal burning plant (0+ / 0-)

      up wind of them and hand 'em a shovel. If they want coal produced electricity, let them have it. Meanwhile, the world moves on without them and puts in solar and wind.

      A fo ben, bid bont. - Welsh proverb. ( translation: If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.)

      by Gwennedd on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 07:47:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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