Why Don't Conservatives Trust Scientists Like They Used To? Are They Just Anti-Evolutionary, Anti-Global Warming Jag-Offs or Could There Be Other Explanations?

From Instapundit comes a quick summary of the latest sign that conservatives (self-defined in this instance) are just totally like the neanderthals they probably don't really believe ever existed given their wariness about evolution and all that jazz:

CONFIDENCE IN SCIENCE BY CONSERVATIVES HAS DECLINED SINCE 1974: “That represents a dramatic shift for conservatives, who in 1974 were more likely than liberals or moderates (all categories based on self-identification) to express confidence in science. While the confidence levels of other groups in science have been relatively stable, the conservative drop now means that group is the least likely to have confidence in science.”

The reason is the use of science as an argument-from-authority for bigger government. If scientists want more trust, perhaps they should try not to be tools.

"If scientists want more trust, perhaps they should try not to be tools." Hmm. I think he may be on to something there.

The link in the InstaP gloss above goes to a story in the excellent Inside Higher Ed (a must-read for anyone interested in post-secondary education issues, IMO). Here's the lede of the piece:

Just over 34 percent of conservatives had confidence in science as an institution in 2010, representing a long-term decline from 48 percent in 1974, according to a paper being published today in American Sociological Review.

The paper in ASR draws on attitudes as reflected in the General Social Survey, a "long-term study asking people various demographic and self-identification questions (including political identity) and for their attitudes on certain groups, including confidence in certain institutions." The author of the paper, a post-doc at University of North Carolina, says:

Less-educated conservatives didn't change their attitudes about science in recent decades. It is better-educated conservatives who have done so, the paper says.

In the paper, Gauchat calls this a "key finding," in part because it challenges "the deficit model, which predicts that individuals with higher levels of education will possess greater trust in science, by showing that educated conservatives uniquely experienced the decline in trust.”

I haven't read the paper in question but here is the question from the General Social Survey on which its "key finding" apparently is based:

166. I am going to name some institutions in this country. Some people have complete confidence in the people running these institutions. Suppose these people are at one end of the scale at point number 1. Other people have no confidence at all in teh people running these institutions. Suppose these people are at the other end, at point 7. Where would you place yourself on this scale for: k. Scientific community?

Note the wording of the question, which stresses attitudes toward "the people running these institutions." It doesn't ask whether you think science has changed. It's specifically asking about the folks wearing literal and figurative lab coats who are running joints like the National Science Foundation, testifying before Congress, appearing on The Tonight Show while forecasting famine up the ying-yang and praising coercive population control measures, and who often end up being totally wrong about everything.

If it's "educated conservatives" who have lost faith in scientists, a fully plausible possible explanation is simply that they recognize what libertarians and crypto-libertarians ranging from Thomas Szasz to Michel Foucault have been pointing out since the early 1960s in works starting with The Myth of Mental Illness and The Birth of the Clinic: That much if not all of what passes for dispassionate scientific discourse is hugely implicated in power struggles that have little or nothing to do with disinterested, true-for-all-times-and-all-places Truths with capital Ts.

I do not doubt that conservatives are, in their heart of hearts, jugheaded buffoons who simply want to will away inconvenient truths by plugging their ears and covering their eyes when faced with cognitive dissonance. I'm confident that they argue from authority when it serves their purpose and then are muy skeptical when confronted with authority they don't like. I'm metaphysically certain that many are repllent and repulsive and altogether awful and that they tend to love dogs and cats in the abstract more than they do their fellow human beings in the flesh. In all this, I suspect, they are incredibly similar to liberals and, alas, libertarians, and everyone else.

And that to the extent conservatives have less and less confidence over time in "the people running these institutions" of science, government, education, business, law, medicine, you name it, they are absolutely to be looked upon as role models.

For the curious, here's data from Gallup on American confidence in institutions, 2011 vs. historical averages since 1973. You'll note that the vast majority of institutions are taking it on the chin for reasons that stem not from rampant paranoia (due to fluoride in the goddamned water supply I bet or maybe mercury in vaccines or incontrovertible evidence that J. Edgar Hoover wore cocktail dresses while taking dictation from LBJ on the crapper or simply that schools really don't do a very good job) but from the growing willingness of more and more Americans to challenge the authority of priests, coaches, lawyers, stockbrokers, ad men, doctors, and Indian chiefs.

Suggested soundtrack: The Godfathers' "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," featuring the line "Thing's ain't what they used to be/Cary Grant's on LSD."

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  • shrike||

    Better dead than Red

  • sumKenyanMuslimPresident-o3||

    who kneedz sum science?
    because gunz n hesus

  • I Blame Videogames!||

    Better dead than Red

    Better a dead Red.
    No, I'm not strictly a libertarian. Pacifism only works until while the opposition follows the rules. I don't initiate force, but I know very well how it's done.

  • sarcasmic||

    Can't you guys afford a spell checker?

    Seriously.

  • Suki||

    The quoted question gets +1 for "teh".

  • wareagle||

    confidence in science has fallen because it, too, can be manipulated by politics. In the mid-70's, the headlines screamed of a coming ice age; now, the planet's going to burn up. Follow the money and, invariably, the folks producing the "man is killing earth" stuff are recipients of govt grants. Probably a coincidence that govt would favor conclusions that grant it more power.

    And for the last time, no one disputes that climate patterns change over time - periods of warmth, of cold, of severe storms, of no storms at all. But a lot of folks dispute the notion that it's caused by a couple of SUV's.

  • MattyP||

    As for following the money, I am willing to bet Dollars to donuts that there is more money for a scientist to work for interests funded by petrochemical companies (who have a vested interest in Man-Made Climate Change, and tend to fund scientists who say the same thing), than a scientist who works for a government lab or university (on average).

    Furthermore, if the government really wanted to exert it's power to reduce the consumption (which was a stated goal going back to the Carter Administration) of carbon fuels, it would just tax carbon.

    And as for the government favoring conclusions that grant it more power: Censoring the science you don't agree with is probably the ultimate expression of power.

  • Old Man With Candy||

    That's not been my experience. There's FAR more foundation and government grant money on the pro-AGW side. Petrocorp funding for climate research is fairly minimal. they tend to pay product defense guys, who are more likely to be media and lawyer types.

  • Suki||

    Ron Bailey got all of the Exxon money, for example.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    I am willing to bet Dollars to donuts that there is more money ...

    Given the level of taxation of "Big Oil", even the pro-AGW people are supported by petrodollars.

    Looking for reasons to find biases in the pro v. con AGW battle can't be reduced to merely salary. There are lots of other incentives, esp. for the pro-AGW crowd. Academics may get tenure based on where they stand in the debate. How much is rock-solid, lifetime employment worth? Academics are largely motivated by recognition and acceptance by peers which makes them adverse to challenging the herd groupthink. What price do you put on that? There are many other incentives for academics/government lab workers that I won't go into. My point is that it is simplistic to try to smear anti-AGW scientists as biased simply because they command higher salaries (which may not be true anyway).

  • Tonio||

    And don't forget access to lefty chicks.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    Definitely a plus for a playa.

  • Bawney Fwank||

    As if any of you faggots would know!

  • ||

    You'd be exactly wrong about the funding. Something like 95% of all climate change, pro or con, is financed by governmental agencies or the UN.

  • ||

    You don't know what it's like out there! I've worked in the private sector. They expect results.

  • skr||

    Very nice

  • mnarayan||

    Are you really willing to bet? Cause I like both dollars AND donuts.

  • Speedmaster||

    I'm concerned that when the term "science" is used in this discussion we are not differentiating between leftist control of organizations for their own political ends, and /actual/ science.

  • ||

    Perfectly said!

  • Kwanzaa Cake||

    Bingo. I have no faith in computer model driven "science" as it isn't science at all, but (at best) educated guessing. Compare to the recent anouncement that neutrinos travelled faster than light. Rather than form a "consensus" the RE-DID THE EXPERIMENT and found that the initial results were not reliable. As science has retreated from the scientific method of real-world experiments and provable results, it has inevitabley descended into politics. The public's growing distrust is a natural result.

  • Old Earth||

    The backbone of scientific research is experimentation, and the ability to reproduce the results of an experiment under the same conditions and procedures.

    This is generally what separates "hard" science from "soft" science.

  • MattyP||

    So, science is restricted to what you can do in a lab? Oh, well there goes theoretical astrophysics, paleontology, Einsteinian physics, meteorology, climatology, and on, and on.

    Scientists use models (yes, even computer models) to explain cause-and-effect relationships in a simplified setting, so that those relationships can be isolated (through the ceteris paribus assumption) and studied. This is a method common to all sciences--some are just lucky enough to use lab settings to truly isolate things, where other sciences cannot (you try fitting a star in a lab).

    Oh, and redoing the experiment at CERN? They redid it because it went counter to the SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS that the Speed of Light represents the upper bound of obtainable velocity.

  • The Mad Titan||

    "Oh, and redoing the experiment at CERN? They redid it because it went counter to the SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS that the Speed of Light represents the upper bound of obtainable velocity."

    Incorrect, the experiment was redone because the results were counter to years of other experimental results.

  • Kwanzaa Cake||

    Are you sure they did not just take a vote on it and that settled the matter?

  • skr||

    And counter to the math

  • I Blame Videogames!||

    Oh, and redoing the experiment at CERN? They redid it because it went counter to the SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS that the Speed of Light represents the upper bound of obtainable velocity.

    This isn't about consensus. The ICARUS test was conducted because two timing flaws were found in the OPERA test. Also, ICARUS isn't seen as the end of it, BOREXINO, LVD, MINOS and T2K detectors are also scheduled to do independent measurements.

    Rather than give a press release claiming AGW is going to kill us all because the Serpent Swarm will be transporting all their CO2 here from Alpha Centauri at FTL speeds, OPERA has behaved with perfect scientific integrity in opening their measurement to broad scrutiny, and inviting independent measurements. That's how science works.

  • T||

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, MattyP.

    Modeling has to accurately predict things to be considered valid. Climate science models don't.

  • ||

    Lab has a bigger meaning than you are allowing for. We can gather data in the field, synthesize it and make predictions that can be tested in the field. The predictions from the Climate models haven't turned out to well which is why we don't place a lot store in the sky is falling theories.

  • MattyP||

    Why is it only "leftists" that control the flow of science? Do conservative organizations and corporations not also fund science? The good stuff is what makes it past peer review, and that is dependent on the soundness of method. Bunk science is (or should be) discovered through peer review and not propagated.

    That is why Intelligent Design does not make it into real biology journals.

  • Suki||

    You have a point. Scientific Socialism worked so well that the masses of unemployed graduate students are demanding its return. Last time it had too much Capitalism and 100 million people died. This time it will be different.

  • I Blame Videogames!||

    That is why Intelligent Design does not make it into real biology journals.

    Intelligent Design? I'd fire the engineer who designed the structure so the sewer crossed the nursery.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    Why is it only "leftists" that control the flow of science?

    What ideology dominates academic culture? What ideology is intimately tied to increasing governmental power which is usually at least a side effect of proposed "solutions" to the "problem" of AGW?

    Do conservative organizations and corporations not also fund science?

    They generally don't dip into the public money trough and, whenever commercial interests are involved, don't usually publish.

    The good stuff is what makes it past peer review

    You don't know much about peer review, do you?

  • smartass||

    You don't know much about peer review, do you?
    reply to this

    You can say that again.

  • Realist||

    AGW was not subjected to the scientific method.

  • ||

    Which is why the Post Normal Science construct used by Climate Change prognosticators should also be rejected.

  • sarcasmic||

    Science ceased to be science when consensus replaced the scientific method.

    Now it's just politics.

  • Surly Chef||

    Hard and soft science are usually and intentionally confused also. People argue from the perception that conclusions about hard science findings can be translated into objective policies to better our lives. Once you remove the ability to objectively experiment and control all variables you've moved into soft science which is really just a bunch of people arguing about the unknowable underlying mechanisms based on correlation not causation. Not that some great ideas can't be created that way, but the ability enforcing them at the point of a gun is a bad incentive for objectivity.

  • ||

    No, organizations distort scientific data for political reasons.

    However, the actual scientists still demand evidence and search for answers by collecting evidence and data and reaching conclusions by reviewing the evidence and data.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    the actual scientists still demand evidence and search for answers ...

    That describes Al Gore perfectly.

  • ||

    a paper being published today in American Sociological Review.

    Pardon my skepticism.

  • horselips||

    Now why would anyone lose their confidence in science?

    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....ional.html

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    At the heart of the problem is an economic incentive system fueling a hypercompetitive environment that is fostering poor scientific practices, including frank misconduct.

    The root of the problem is a lack of sufficient resources to sustain the current enterprise. Too many researchers are competing for too little funding,

    translation: "moar money pls!"

  • ||

    No one should be losing confidence in science, which is an enormously successful tool.

    What's concerning is that opposition to certain political uses of science may be poisoning some people against scientific institutions in general, which is a bad thing.

  • ||

    I agree 100%. Unfortunately, some throw out the baby with the bathwater and reject the underlying science simply because it's being used for political means (global warming deniers and Thomas Szasz's rejection of the concept of mental illness being two examples conveniently highlighted above). We scoff at conservatives and liberals when they ignore science for failing to comport to their political worldview. It's really damn frustrating to watch libertarians do the same thing.

  • ||

    Look at climatology, for instance. It is a real science, regardless of the political use it's being put to. It may be imprecise and uncertain, but that's true of just about any field focusing on complex and chaotic behavior.

    I don't really count hardcore creationists in all of this, as they pretty much have to be anti-science in a big way to be where they are. Huge swaths of biology, geology, cosmology, physics have to be entirely wrong for a Young Earth hypothesis to be true.

  • ||

    +1 To everything Pro Libertate has said.

  • Old Earth||

    It's the cosmetology and otolaryngology that's confusing some people.

  • Artifex||

    Look at climatology, for instance. It is a real science ...

    The problem is that it is more nueanced than that. Some climatology is real science. Some of the atmospheric physics guys do quite good work.

    On the opposite extreme you have some of the more vocal paleoclimatology types whose idea of good science is to cherry pick proxies that give the desired result and hide anything adverse to their thesis. These guys are far closer to sociologists than physicists.

    Of course with Progressives involved you are going to get the usual false conflation where they are going to accuse you of not believing the atmospheric physicists while spouting the paleo guys as gospel.

  • Old Earth||

    Of course with Progressives involved you are going to get the usual false conflation where they are going to accuse you of not believing the atmospheric physicists while spouting the paleo guys as gospel.

    Economics comes to mind, as well.

  • James||

    It's always fun to tell you the guys who work for "big oil" are in the profit motive, when the "carbon tax" advocates want 1% of the World Domestic Product. 1% is such a small amount. Depends what you're multiplying by, Poindexter.

    And if you know how grants work, it gets more interesting. If you need the grant, there are certain outcomes that are preferred and your writing should call for more money and research if you DON'T get what you want, and indicate CERTAINTY, if you get the results you want the first time. Especially if they could lead to "socially desirable" programs.

    This stems from years of "situational ethics". If they're situational, they aren't ethics.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    These guys are far closer to sociologists political activists than physicists.

    FIFY

    The climate is a real field to be studied and doing so is a good idea. However, the field has been hijacked for political purposes and it has been easy for the hijackers to get cooperation from many scientists who call themselves climatologists. After all, everyone wants to believe that their chosen profession is super important and hyping the doomsday scenarios does make it easier to weasel resources out of lawmakers.

  • Tony||

    It has been hijacked, but by interests who have a financial or ideological stake. You have to stretch the imagination pretty far to describe what stake climate scientists have in maintaining such a vast global conspiracy, which somehow manages to capture nearly every single expert on planet earth.

    But it's not hard to imagine what could motivate the interests on the other side, which include the most profitable industries on earth, which depend on fossil fuel use.

  • ||

    "....somehow manages to capture nearly every single expert on planet earth."

    1. 'Expert'. Hmmm. Yeah. No. Rajendra K. Pachauri: Look it up.

  • ||

    "You have to stretch the imagination pretty far to describe what stake climate scientists have in maintaining such a vast global conspiracy..."

    2. Stretch? Yeah. No. Three things in play here that are very, very simple: Psychology - Evidence shows that a great many of those 'experts' lent their names to AGW 'conclusions' without having done any serious review of the evidentiary material. Conclusion? They wanted to be seen as the cool kids at cocktail parties.

  • ||

    Money - The fringy-fringe 'climatologists' (as opposed to the hard-science folks) are nearly all employed via grant funding. Both Chicken-little and Eureka! shouting has funded a great deal of junk science conducted by rent-seeking charlatans and quacks for hundreds of years. Look up Lysenkoism, Daffy's Elixir, and any number of alchemy quests for the Philosopher's Stone. And finally; Reputation - Any group of boobs who has put their professional 'reputation' on the line due to buying-in to a bogus premise has a crystal-clear reason to keep mum about a career-ending error of judgment. Look up climategate and 'hide the decline'.

  • ||

    Only naivete (or an agenda) would prompt a clear-thinking, logical person to conclude the AGW community is free of the issues I've illustrated. Quite to the contrary, they continue to base their position upon modeling data that is stubbornly (hello!) hidden from peer review of any kind outside of the anointed community of agreement.

    Lord Monckton has maintained the appropriate level of derision for these con artists all along.

  • James||

    Funding. They don't want to be unemployed.

    1% of the planets domestic product. That's big money for the governments and banks who get it.

  • ||

    At this point much of what passes as climate science is closer to the relationship that alchemy was to Chemistry. A true climate science will eventually emerge but not until it is purged of its modern day alchemist equivalents.

  • ||

    reject the underlying science simply because it's being used for political means (global warming deniers

    Not so fast. I think the issue with "global warming" "science" is not that good science is being used for political ends, its that bad science is being perpetrated for political ends.

    Missing and/or cooked data, refusal to share data and methodology, bad models, etc., all of which points in one direction make people justifiably skeptical.

    The fact that good climatology science may get tarred with the same brush is unfortunate, but that should motivate the good climatologists to be vigilant? aggressive? in rooting out the bad stuff.

  • ||

    I think it's both. There's the regular old science of climatology, chugging along, then there's the newish, well-funded wave of AGW science. Some of which is valid enough, within limits, but much of which is looking dubious.

    This phenomenon isn't limited to political biases, either. There's an argument that the same thing is happening in physics, where funding for string theory research has seriously damaged research in competing theories.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    where funding for string theory research has seriously damaged research in competing theories.

    ... and sucked talent and resources out of areas of physics that actually produce something besides fantasies about visiting parallel universes or stepping into wormholes to visit other star systems.

  • ||

    It's not that I oppose research in that area, I just think throwing the lion's share into something that uncertain is illogical.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    agreed

  • Invisible Finger||

    It's the White (Lab Coat) Wall Of Silence that's the problem.

  • ||

    We scoff at conservatives and liberals when they ignore science for failing to comport to their political worldview. It's really damn frustrating to watch libertarians do the same thing.

    Politics is primarily about tribal affiliation, not reasoned consideration of policy. We're just as suseptible to TEAM GOLD thinking as your latte-sipping liberal or evangelical creationist.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    Politics Loyalty to political parties is primarily frequently about tribal affiliation, not reasoned consideration of policy.

    FIFY

  • cynical||

    Everyone's uncomfortable with science, not just conservatives, because everyone understands the difficulty society has in distinguishing scientific truth from moral action -- if scientific studies showed that a certain race or ethnic group had a slightly lower IQ on average than another, you can bet your ass that liberals would hate that science as much as conservatives hate climate science, and would be trying to link the scientists to racist groups the same way that conservatives try to link climate researchers to fringe environmentalist groups, because they'd fear that it would make discrimination more palatable, even though the ethics of the situation never changed.

    If progressive are more favorable to science now, it's less of a general principle, and more than science is currently helpful to their political agenda.

  • wef||

    From Pielke Jr.'s site of a couple of days ago:

    ...you can simply call "bullshit" and point to the IPCC SREX report. You may find yourself having to use the bullshit button in locations that are supposed to be credible, such as Nature Climate Change and the New York Times. This might may feel uncomfortable at first, because such venues are generally credible, but is absolutely necessary to help certain corners of science and the media to regain their credibility. The siren song of linking disasters to human-caused climate change exerts a strong pull for activists in all settings, but might be countered by the widespread and judicious use of the disaster and climate change bullshit button.

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot......s-and.html

  • ||

    You can call bullshit all your want, but the fact remains that the climate is changing and it is a general warming trend and there is strong evidence that it is human caused. (its start correlates with the industrial revolution, which strongly suggests causation)

  • ||

    Um none of this is being denied here, what is being denied (or more appropriately questioned) is that said warming trend is a problem that will lead to more globally severe weather or serious enviornmental impact from changing weather patterns.

    Another thing being argued is just how much future warming we can expect as a result of continued burning of fossil fuels. The estimates by the IPCC and most other alarmist groups assume that there is a positive feedback multiplier (Multiplier > 1) when reality is pretty clearly negative (Multiplier < 1) leading to predictions ranging from 3 to 5 times as much warming as we will really experience.

  • ||

    Finally there are very legitimate questions as to what (if anything) should be done to mitigate the risk of AGW. The remedies proposed by the alarmist crowd pretty much all focus around cutting emissions when the reality is we'd probably be far better off just dealing with it and accepting the warmer climate and dealing with the symptoms individually.

  • sarcasmic||

    What if increased CO2 means healthier plants and coupled with longer growing seasons due to warming results in a corresponding increase in the food supply?

    Damn that would be a catastrophe!

  • ||

    Well of course it would be, increased food supply means not just more people as fewer kids die from starvation but richer people and we all know that richer people use more CO2 which leads to more warming and even richer people. Why before you know it we might just have solved world hunger and then what would the Acolytes of Malthus decry?

  • Zeb||

    I think I remember some research about tropical forests already growing faster because of more CO2 in the atmosphere.

    No one ever considers the positive externalities.

  • James||

    And plants are operating at CO2 'starvation' levels. Ever notice they sell C02 tanks at hydroponic stores?

    There was a big temperature upswing in Elizabethan times also. Independent of the industrial revolution.

    So, while the industrial revolution, is the bogey-man of some, it doesn't explain warming trends that pre-date it.

  • ||

    @Rasillio I don't disagree with anything you said. It just sort of irks me when people want to deny that the climate is warming because some organizations want to use it as an excuse for more government control.

    There really are three questions surrounding climate change.

    1) Is the Earth warming? Yes
    2) Is it caused by humans? Almost certainly yes.
    3) Can/should government try to fix it? No, the government can't fix anything so why do people think they can fix this? They just make everything worse.

  • Kwanzaa Cake||

    Almost certainly yes = we don't know.

  • ||

    Almost certainly yes = Almost certainly yes.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    Almost certainly yes = maybe no.

  • Tonio||

    Mikey, if you can't express it in numbers it's bullshit.

  • Jay||

    Is it caused by humans? Almost certainly yes.

    This is brilliant in it's cluelessness. I see it and immediately think what would Mr. Hand have said:

    [writes ALMOST CERTAINLY YES on the chalkboard and then steps back to admire it] I like that. Hmm Hmm. "Almost certainly yes," that's nice. 'Mr. Hand, will I pass this class?' 'Gee Mr. Michael, almost certainly yes.' That's nice, I really like that. You know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to leave your words on my board for all my classes to enjoy, giving you full credit of course, Mr. Michael.

    And the scientific method takes another blow....

  • Tony||

    There are humans, and the Earth is warming. That's good enough for me. It's also Science.

  • Old Earth||

    Are humans contributing to it? Almost certainly yes

    How much? We don't know

    FTFY

  • Tony||

    Where's your PhD from?

  • wef||

    Cal
    And yours?

  • Zeb||

    Much better. I don't think it makes any sense to talk about single causes of anything in a massive, complex system like the atmosphere.

  • KDN||

    Much better. I don't think it makes any sense to talk about single causes of anything in a massive, complex system like the atmosphere.

    This principle extends to the economy as well. But that will never stop anyone from pinning everything on his preferred bogeyman.

  • Tonio||

    Better question 3) Is it going to lead to a catastrophe?

    And what KC said about #2.

  • ||

    1) Is the Earth warming? Yes
    2) Is it caused by humans? Almost certainly yes.

    Zounds! I'll bet that almost the exact same conversation occurred in 1100 during the Medieval Warm Period. Or for any other interglacial period. Hey look! Science!

    Frankly, I'd rather take my chances with a warmer planet than a hemispheric glacier.

  • James||

    Warmer is definitely easier to survive.

    More food. Less shelter needed.

  • ||

    The Gods must be angry. We must feed them Carbon Credits or they will make big angry sky.

  • ||

    That's one of the puzzlers in the whole controversy. Assuming it has taken 100 years (or any other number you want) of greenhouse gases to heat up the globe, why do people assume that there's some crash-program to slow or reverse it? (That's a rhetorical question of course.)

  • wef||

    You are yet another scientifically ignorant denier of the IPCC SREX evidence. It's the frking consensus, you science denier.

    You are the type of lemming who is causing science to have such a bad reputation.

    (Isn't being a sophomoric emotionalist fun!)

  • wef||

    Of course, I was emoting at the denier Michael.

  • Kwanzaa Cake||

    It "strongly suggests causation" so therefore let's spend umpteen trillion dollars and re-organize modern society just in case. Good plan.

  • ||

    I never said I had a solution nor if a solution is even possible (and if there is a solution it most certainly won't come from the government). I simply said warming is occurring.

  • Tonio||

    [BUZZ] No, Mikey, you didn't just say that warming was occurring, but rather that it was "almost certainly" caused by humans.

  • ||

    [BUZZ]
    1) Is the Earth warming? Yes
    2) Is it caused by humans? Almost certainly yes.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    I never said I had a solution

    Before one speaks of a solution, one really should firmly establish that there is a problem. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, no evidence, no hard data, nada, nil, nyet, that a slight increase in avg. global temperature would be a bad thing no matter how you define "bad thing". So all of the hand-wringing is premature, at best.

  • ||

    The millions of people living at or below sea level might define "bad thing" as being under water. In that case an increase in avg. global temperature would be a bad thing.

  • ||

    What's that? Sea levels rising, submerging helpless islanders? It's a done deal?

    Maybe not.

    The global mean sea level for the period January 1900 to December 2006 is estimated to rise at a rate of 1.56 ± 0.25 mm/yr which is reasonably consistent with earlier estimates, but we do not find significant acceleration The regional mean sea level of the single ocean basins show mixed long-term behavior. While most of the basins show a sea level rise of varying strength there is an indication for a mean sea level fall in the southern Indian Ocean. Also for the the tropical Indian and the South Atlantic no significant trend can be detected. Nevertheless, the South Atlantic as well as the tropical Atlantic are the only basins that show significant acceleration.
  • Zeb||

    If sea levels do rise significantly, then yes, it will be bad in the short term for a lot of people. But unless there is actually something that can be done about it, it really isn't very relevant. Those people will have to adapt somehow. And people are very good at adapting.
    I think that whether or not human action contributes significantly to warming, there is not a damn thing anyone can do about it. Even if the US and Europe stopped all carbon emissions, the rest of the world still wants to develop and the available fossil fuels will get burned.
    The real solution for people living on land that is likely to be inundated is for them to start saving up so that they can move when they have to. Handwringing about some sort of collective guilt is not helping.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    If sea levels do rise significantly, then yes, it will be bad in the short term for a lot of people.

    I should probably have added the qualifier to make it "a net bad thing". Even if the sea levels rise, displacing some people, that rise may be accompanied by increases in habitable land elsewhere. Hey, maybe Antartica will become a tropical paradise.

  • ||

    the fact remains that the climate is changing

    As it always has.

    and it is a general warming trend

    As we have seen before, although this one seems to have stalled.

    and there is strong evidence that it is human caused. (its start correlates with the industrial revolution, which strongly suggests causation)

    I wasn't aware that anyone had shown much of a correlation with the industrial revolution or even anthro CO2 output. The warming trend begins at the end of a "mini ice age", for one thing. It doesn't track CO2 production very well at all, for another.

    The saturation effect of CO2-driven warming indicates that we won't see much more than we already have, regardless (which may explain the plateau of the last several years).

  • ||

    Climates don't change for fun. They change when some input changes. In this case, it's the GHG concentration in the air. The sun's output is slightly down, but the Earth is warming quickly and significantly. Worse yet, it's following the pattern predicted by AGW theory.

    The saturation effect of CO2-driven warming indicates that we won't see much more than we already have, regardless (which may explain the plateau of the last several years).

    The saturation effect is heavily disputed by climatologists.

    We haven't seen a plateau. 2010 was the warmest year on record. The 00s were hotter than the 90s which were hotter than the 80s which were hotter than the 70s.

    Honestly, why don't you tell me that creation is true because men have one fewer rib than women?

  • ||

    Worse yet, it's following the pattern predicted by AGW theory.

    Oh, horseshit. No model predicted, or AFAIK can explain, the plateau we have been in since around 2000. 2010 was an El Nino year anyway, wasn't it, which are always warmer.

    The AGW models have proven to be famously non-predictive. And oddly, they always miss on the high side.

    The saturation effect is heavily disputed by climatologists.

    Well, I don't follow the debate in detail, but I thought there wasn't any real dispute about the saturation effect. The dispute is about the purported cascade of positive feedback loops that elevated anthro CO2 will supposedly cause.

  • ||

    No model predicted, or AFAIK can explain, the plateau we have been in since around 2000.

    The 00s were hotter than the 90s, and 2010 and 2005 were the first and second hottest years on record. 2011 was the hottest La Nina year on record (and 9th or so overall). There is no plateau.

    2010 was an El Nino year anyway, wasn't it, which are always warmer.

    Yes, as were 2005 and 1998 (2nd and 3rd place, respectively). El Ninos are the warmest of the Nino/Nina cycle. What's important is that the entire cycle is warmer: 2010 was the hottest El Nino on record, and 2011 was the hottest La Nina on record.

    The AGW models have proven to be famously non-predictive.

    Which is why the Earth is warming as AGW models anticipate? LOL, you're a fool.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    The 00s were hotter than the 90s which were hotter than the 80s which were hotter than the 70s.

    All of which were cooler than the pre-industrial Middle Ages. And stop trying to hide the decline in your pants.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I read that CO2 increases trail warming, not precede it... is that denialist propaganda?

  • ||

    It can. As the Earth warms, feedback processes cause more CO2 to release, increasing the warming further. Warming isn't always started by CO2 emissions: the sun might strengthen or the Earth's orbit might wobble. When that happens, the sun's increased output starts the warming, the Earth releases more CO2 into the atmosphere, and the CO2 causes even more warming in turn.

    However, we have good data on the sun, the Earth's orbit, and cosmic ray cycle. The sun's output is actually down a bit, and the cosmic ray cycle and Earth orbit are stable. If anything, purely natural processes would be cooling the Earth. Instead it's warming rapidly. Worse yet, the AGW model predicts not just warming, but a certain pattern of warming, and the data bear that model out.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    As the Earth warms, feedback processes cause more CO2 to release

    Speculation presented as fact. Nice.

  • ||

    Did you flunk chemistry, son? Warm oceans dissolve less gas.

  • ||

    Here is where you are wrong, ALL of the models predict upper atmosphere warming prior to ground level warming. However only the ground level temperatures are warming, upper atmospheric temperatures have been relatively stable.

  • Zeb||

    That is something I have wondered about as well and I haven't heard a good answer.

  • ||

    Historically yes, however historically there has not been any agent capable of pumping this quantity of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere unless warming were already occurring (or without pumping similarly large quantities of Sulphur Dioxide which produces even more cooling at the same time).

    This is one of the falacies of the attacks on AGW, yes, historically CO2 rise follows warming, that does not mean that CO2 rise cannot also preceed it.

  • ||

    It's start does not correlate with the industrial revolution it correlates with the end of the Little Ice Age. BTW correlation is not causation.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Yeah, like all polls it comes down to semantics and wording. It's an important distinction between science and those who claim its mantle.

  • Sofa King ||

    I see this as essentially good news. It suggests that people have been getting better informed and less tractable since the '70s.

  • Jim Treacher||

    Remember when skepticism was considered a good thing in science?

  • Al Gore||

    That was before the science was settled -- by me.

  • shrike||

    Skepticism is great.

    Conservatives aren't skeptical. They are fucking stupid denialists - see Natural Selection for instance. I could name other areas but don't want to feed the wingnuts here.

  • Socialistic Individual Sparky||

    Skepticism is great except when it makes you not believe what I said.

  • Sevo||

    shrike|3.30.12 @ 10:23AM|#
    'I could name other areas but I'm tired of getting called on all my bullshit'

    FIFY, shriek.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    see Natural Selection for instance

    see the rate at which liberals get abortions vs. the rate at which conservatives get abortions

  • Zeb||

    I think you are making his point for him.

  • Jim Treacher||

    Aw. You poor thing.

  • ||

    Skepticism is simply a demand for evidence. When all the evidence points to a certain conclusion and you still don't believe it, then you have moved from being a skeptic to a denier.

    If you don't believe men have walked on the moon you aren't a skeptic, you are a denier because the evidence that men walked on the moon is overwhelming. Same thing goes for climate change.

  • Socialistic Individual Sparky||

    When all the evidence points to a certain conclusion and you still don't believe it, then you have moved from being a skeptic to a denier.

    So once I certain amount of data has been collected and a conclusion made we should stop looking for answers because everyone agrees?

  • Old Earth||

    You would really compare the evidence of the lunar landing to the evidence of climate change?

    I think they call that fanaticism, or at the very least, sensationalism.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    When all the evidence points to a certain conclusion

    exactly

  • ||

    Cleared of all wrongdoing in the so-called "climategate": http://www.ucsusa.org/global_w.....egate.html

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    So academics accused of wrong-doing are cleared of wrong-doing by the institutions that benefit from their wrong-doing? Wow, I'm convinced. Believe what you want to believe, denier.

  • Fluffy||

    The investigators chose to not regard withholding data from review and conspiring to prevent other scientists from publishing papers critical of their work as "misconduct".

  • ||

    Climate change is not what is in dispute. Ever since the earth developed an atmosphere and ocean about 4 byo the climate has changed. We appear to be at the end of an interglacial period. We have had warming and cooling cycles within that interglacial. Some of those warming periods were warmer than now. So what is being disputed is that TEOTWAWKI is coming as a result of man adding some CO2 to the atmosphere.

  • ||

    The definition of evidence is that it points to a certain conclusion. You're confusing it with data.

  • ||

    The problem is not science but scientists. It probably started in the late 1960's when they stopped investigating and started advocating. Things like the Union of Concerned Scientists and their idiotic Doomsday clock, about as unscientific a concept as one can imagine, then you have the Rachel Carsons and Paul Erlich's of the world with their pseudo scientific luddism and from the other side of the isle Big Businesses use of science to protect their profits and it becomes very hard to any scientific results you can truely trust.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    It probably started in the late 1960's pre-history when they stopped investigating and started advocating observers of the heavens declared the world was coming to an end when the tail of a comet become visible.

    FIFY

  • Zeb||

    There weren't any scientists in pre-history.

  • ||

    As Zeb said, there were not any people practicing what we call modern science in pre history, even the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, et al did not really follow the scientific method. Modern Science was invented during the enlightenment period in Europe and while in it's very beginning years it's practitioners had to be careful lest they get a visit from the inquisition from the 1600's through about the 1950's science (hard sciences, not the soft sciences) pretty much stayed out of politics and proposed no policy solutions to whatever their research showed. The invention of the Atom Bomb is probably what started scientists getting involved in political policy with science dictating necessary courses of action

  • ||

    But it's SCIENCE!

    In the PUBLIC INTEREST!

    Now bow down, you Luddites.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    No no no you people have not bothered to answer the question. The answer is "Jag Offs"

    But your points are indeed valid.

  • Tony||

    Confidence in science has fallen among conservatives because conservatives have become increasingly isolated inside information bubbles, which often overtly attack science, whether from religion or Republican party oil whoring propaganda.

    There is no "problem" in science that anyone is better equipped to solve than science itself.

    And if most scientists happen to favor a particular politics you disagree with, that doesn't mean there's a giant conspiracy and science is corrupted. It just means the educated class disagrees with you, and you should take that for what it's worth.

  • Kwanzaa Cake||

    It just means the educated class disagrees with you, and you should take that for what it's worth.

    __________________

    respect my authorita!

  • ||

    There is no "problem" in science that anyone is better equipped to solve than science itself.

    Wow.

  • Old Earth||

    Circular logic?

  • Sevo||

    Standard shithead 'argument'.

  • Tony||

    It's not insular when we do it, and "science" is whatever we say it is.

  • ||

    Substitute "government" for "science", and you wouldn't find half a dozen people in DC who would disagree.

  • Tony||

    Who would you propose arbitrate scientific controversies? The Vatican?

  • ||

    Scientists, employing the scientific method, would be my vote.

    Not activists, trying to shut down debate (TEH CONSENSUS!!), diddling and destroying data, hiding their work, highjacking peer review, attacking career prospects, and fellating politicans.

  • Tony||

    You ever consider reading, say, science journalism instead of whatever right-wing bullshit source you get your mindless talking points from?

  • Tony||

    Hi. My name is Tony. I am a condescending prick that evades honest discussion and ignores answers that any reasonable person would acknowledge because such acknowledgement would force me to challenge and re-think my own preciously guarded ideology. And thinking is hard.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    So ... "science" is a person now? And "science" has a "problem" within him/her self which "science" is best equipped to solve? I guess that means the "science" is really an M.D. and, therefore, unqualified to comment on climate change.

  • Tonio||

    For me it was the CAGW crowd rigging the peer-review process and diddling the data. And the lack of transparency. Only made things worse when they stonewalled and lied after being caught red-handed.

    If academic science wants to regain the public trust, they're going to have to have to clean up their act. Then either wait a generation (~20 years) for the worst offenders to have died/retired, or for more immediate results publicly throw the worst offenders under the bus. Srsly.

  • Tony||

    You're the victim of propaganda. Science works just fine, even climate science.

  • Tony||

    Al Gore is a great scientist. Freeman Dyson is a fucking twat.

  • ||

    Yeah, Al Gore is a great scientist. D student, but great scientist. And not motivated by any money that might've come his way as a result of his activities in this area either, because we just know he's only interested in saving the planet!

    (from us)

  • Scotty||

    I was trapped in a Dyson Sphere once.

  • Geordi||

    No you weren't you whisky-addled dumb-ass. You were trapped in a transporter.

  • cynical||

    For me, it was the response to the Heritagegate thingie recently. Not so much what the guy did in releasing the forged document along with the real ones (which, if he was doing science, would be scientific fraud). More the reaction of others in the progressive "science" community saying that it was justified, because even if the facts were wrong, the narrative was right.

    That isn't science -- in fact, it's a pre-scientific approach to truth. Peddling a lie because it reflects some sort of "larger" or "deeper" truth is what mythmakers and religious authorities do, not scientists. Humans are wired to like narrative a lot more than equations. Thta's why religion still does so well -- its truth is based on a narrative. Science's truth is based on equations, and models based on ugly, irrational numbers.

  • cynical||

    The problem with conservatives and science seems like a common social problem.

    A movement does something insightful, innovative, creative, whatever, earning respect. The respect draws poseurs. Their increasing presence disgusts some original scene members, who form a counterscene (which draws its own set of posers).

    The scene-counterscene antagonism reinforces the poser aspects of group identity, until both groups are pretty much filled up with bullshit and pretentious assholes or reactionary troglodytes.

  • ||

    It's not a question of whether or not people have changed their opinion of "the scientific process," but whether or not people have the same trust and faith in the people who intentionally or unintentionally (due to bias) DISTORT that process, and the people and organizations that PRESENT those findings. Since the last poll the availability of INFORMATION has increased exponentially. Information about people distorting (whether intentional or not) and presenting the data. Radical groups who never met a government program they didn't like? Check. Left-wing professionals who are mentally incapable of listening to a conservative point-of-view without throwing a fit, sometimes violently? Check. We're losing faith in THAT process, not because we are uninformed Neandertals, because we are finally sufficiently informed about just how broken it is.

  • Old Earth||

    Knowing the effects and knowing the cause are two different things. This is where many people get hung up.

  • Fluffy||

    This is the part of the thread where I reiterate that part of the problem is sociological.

    The variety of individual who would seek to become a physicist in Germany in 1898 is not the same variety of individual who would seek to become an environmental scientist in the United States in 1998.

    The first individual seeks glory and knowledge. The only way he can achieve that glory and that knowledge is to be right. That leads to a scientific culture like the one that existed at the turn of the last century.

    The second individual seeks to speak for the trees. Or, at least, enough of them do to change the underlying culture. And he can save the trees not by being right, but by being persuasive. And because of this he has incentives to deceive that the 1898 physicist just didn't have.

  • Peter, Paul, and Barry||

    who would seek to become an environmental scientist in the United States in 1998

    Ignoring the conflation of climatologist with environmental scientist for the moment, it is important to recognize that "environmental science" as a field of study tends to attract starry-eyed idealists who want to "make a difference" and who tend to have weaker technical backgrounds and, frequently, much less scientific talent than those who pursue careers in fields such as chemistry, physics, biochemistry, hydrological engineering, etc.

  • Fluffy||

    I think it's not just a question of talent, though.

    Let's look at two recent scientific news stories to appraise how the scientists involved in them behaved, and how they were incented to behave.

    First, we have the scientists who thought they detected neutrinos moving faster than light. These guys immediately made all of their data available to everyone, and begged other scientists to try to refute them. They were incented to do this because the way they get their glory and pick up their Nobel Prize checks is for other scientists to try to disprove their findings and fail.

    The scientists involved in Climategate were actively seeking to conceal their data and withhold it from others. They were incented to do this by the fact that if they could just delay critical examination of their work long enough for political action on emissions to occur, they'd save a lot of trees.

  • Spiny Norman||

    Suggested soundtrack: The Godfathers' "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," featuring the line "Thing's ain't what they used to be/Cary Grant's on LSD."

    Companion piece for those who still trust said institutions: "When Am I Coming Down?"

  • NL_||

    It seems weird to assume that "conservatives" are mostly the same group of people they were 38 years ago. Back in the 70s, fewer people identified as conservative, and those people were less drawn from the South. Isn't it plausible that as the Solid South switched from D to R, some of the Dixie populism slightly influenced the numbers? In which case, we're measuring the shifting of the constituents of a group, which may happen alongside zero change in the opinions of any given member of the group.

    Though I still think Nick's explanation is best. But we could also be missing the shift in the group.

    In any case, is it such a shocker that in 38 years we see the numbers go from 48 to 34? That's just under half to just over a third. It's not exactly a sea change when less than half expressed trust before and over a third still express trust.

  • ||

    According to the Inside Higher Ed link this takes them from the group most likely to trust science to the group least likely to:

    That represents a dramatic shift for conservatives, who in 1974 were more likely than liberals or moderates (all categories based on self-identification) to express confidence in science. While the confidence levels of other groups in science have been relatively stable, the conservative drop now means that group is the least likely to have confidence in science.
  • GILMORE||

    Other people have no confidence at all in teh people running these institutions

    i have no confidence in teh people who do surveys.

    Is this not more simply explained by the fact the last time the question was asked, a Republican was in the white house? OK, gerald ford was unimpressive and 'mostly harmless', but he probably inspired confidence via the fact that he wasn't going to meddle too much with everything.

    I think 'conservatives' (read: Republicans) lack confidence because things like Global Warming have become such dominant lefty talking-points...and the government-funded scientific institutions so often seem to exist to reinforce many liberal scare-tactic-assumptions.

    Put a republican back in power, they'll probably redicover total faith in the state.

  • Restoras||

    From the study:

    “I am going to name some institutions
    in this country. As far as the people running
    these institutions are concerned
    , would
    you say you have a great deal of confidence,
    only some confidence, or hardly any confidence
    at all in them [the Scientific Community]?”

    So, does this indicate a lack of faith in science, as in the scientific process, or a lack of faith in the people managing sicentific institutions? Big difference.

  • ||

    The moment the advocacy of science is influenced by the agents of leftists or when it is thoughtlessly rejected by mystics, it ceases to be science and therefore cannot be trusted. Science is only legitimate when it pursues objective truth without premise or narrative.

    And so I reject the notion that "conservatives mistrust science" because, as I said, when it becomes agenda it ceases to be science. A more accurate headline would be "many conservatives are not fooled when a political agenda is disguised as science"

  • ||

    Most science I get nowadays is from the press. I don't trust the press. Thus I don't trust much of the science I get nowadays. Simple as that.

  • ||

    The universe has excelled at self-regulation for 14 billion years. Why could a scientist tell me that would make me think its winning streak is suddenly about to end? Nothing.

    On a side note, I can't help but marvel at the level of egocentricity it must take to think you've made a difference by carrying your groceries home in a paper bag. I find it hilarious that anyone could have such a deluded sense of self importance.

  • ||

    You only know what the Universe has been doing and for how long because of science. The self-regulation you refer to includes the extinction of most species that have ever existed. Your way of thinking may be part of what ends up contributing to the extinction of ours.

  • ||

    I have found that most people don't like science, conservative or liberal. But liberals love pseudo-science and academic institutions.

  • Silver Fox||

    But liberals love pseudo-science and academic institutions.

    You won't find too many conservatives at a psychic fair, that's for sure.

  • ||

    Nick wrote: "forecasting famine up the ying-yang and praising coercive population control measures, and who often end up being totally wrong about everything."

    I'm surprised this needs to be pointed out: trying to predict the future is not science. It has nothing to do with science. It's a pseudo-scientific brand of pop-culture, or science fiction perhaps.

    It's really surprising the author pretends to discuss science, but is really just engaging in political culture war.

    But it may be true that conservatives lack trust in science because, like Mr. Gillespie, they are simply confused about what science actually is and how it functions. Conservatives certainly seem to be confused about a lot of facts these days, which seems to be related to deliberate distortions by their media entertainers.

  • ||

    "Anti Global Warming Jag offs," "neanderthals," "jug headed buffons." Gee, agenda driven much?

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