Friday, October 9, 2015

Skeptical or Paranoid?

Anyone perusing the comments thread of an article on global warming/climate change will discover that the hard-core denier crowd has not diminished, despite the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community around AGW (anthropogenic global warming). In fact the fierce, heroic intensity of the deniers only grows in proportion to their increasing isolation. In the first chapter of her book, This Changes Everything, author Naomi Klein speaks to the motivations behind ideologues such as those at the Heartland Institute and identifies the free market/ libertarian fundamentalism which drives most of this effort. For them, the political-economic ramifications of climate change are so terrifying that they can rationalize a fantastic conspiracy of left-wing scientists using this "Trojan horse" to bring about their socialist utopia. One strategy of the deniers is to adopt a "skeptical" attitude towards the modeling, the data, the analysis etc..and cite Galileo, imagining themselves as valiant outliers. Another, as I mentioned in my post about the Great Falls demonstration, is to simply deny that science has any value as a source of explanation about the natural world. What I find fascinating is the ability of the human psyche to repress trauma and have it manifest as cognitive dissonance. Too often, when the human discovers her/himself to be wrong, the strategy is to double-down, to then insist even more forcefully that no, we are correct and have always been correct. The classic example is German society, convinced of it's genetic superiority.But how many people do you know who have been wrong about virtually everything; inter-racial mixing, weapons of mass destruction, the domino theory, Obamacare, three-strikes-you're-out, etc,etc, still have supreme confidence in their ability to form valid opinions?

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