JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Dr Paul Bain and Nature issue partial correction

It’s a start. Paul Bain regrets the offense caused by the term denier.

But there’s no mention of the term failing basic English or it’s unscientific nature. The term has been used by professors, M.P.’s, Prime Ministers and national broadcasters, and none of them have expressed even a hint of regret, but we can nonetheless call this a small win. Notch up one for skeptics, but ten for the fog.

Credit to Paul Bain for being one of the only people drawn into that unscientific milieu who has the strength of character to back out, ever so slightly.  He has promised to reply to my last email. I look forward to it. Few who claim to be concerned about the planet have the intellectual honesty to even try to defend their work.

The small win here is not so much the correction attached below (though that is useful), but it’s that the internet fray and the questions will have been noticed by other editors and researchers. In the future, a few of those people will be more careful with their terms.

Promoting pro-environmental action in climate change deniers

Paul G. Bain | Matthew J. Hornsey, | Renata Bongiorno  [...]

My reply to Paul Bain: The name-caller is hurt by the names they throw

Dear Paul,

Thank you most sincerely for writing to reply to my email. Thank you for taking the time to contact Nature, and thank you for the recognition that the term “denier” causes offense.

Do we also agree that the term denier fails basic English, and cannot be defined as a scientific label because you still are unable to say what deniers deny?

“I think if you understood where skeptics were coming from it would help you design surveys that produced useful results. Basic research, like reading what leading skeptics were saying, would seem a bare minimum requirement before designing a study.”

As far as I can tell, I suspect what you feel deniers deny (though you appear reluctant to actually state it) is not any scientific observation, but the pronouncements of the highest authority of climate science (which you deem to be the IPCC).

“I do believe that the technical aspects of this debate should be between climate scientists, as with complex multi-disciplinary issues it is very easy for findings to be misconstrued by non-experts. Whether you like it or not, the majority of climate scientists agree that there is a high likelihood that anthropogenic climate change [...]

My reply to Dr Paul Bain — on rational deniers and gullible believers

UPDATE: Dr Paul Bain has replied to say that pressing work commitments mean he cannot respond to this until next week.  We look forward to that, and I will make sure it is available for readers here (should Dr Bain permit). – Jo

———————————————————————————-

Dear Dr Paul Bain,

Thank you for replying (and so promptly). I do sincerely appreciate it. Apologies for my tardiness.

I do still think I can help you with your research. Indeed, in more ways than you realize.

You describe in your  Bain et al letter in Nature, that the number of deniers is growing despite “enormous effort”. There is a policy problem. I absolutely agree. No one is having any success getting deniers to believe in anthropogenic climate change. Could it be that they don’t understand deniers at all?

Let’s go through the points in your email reply to me, then the bigger implications.

First and foremost – obviously you did not provide evidence to back up your assumption that the “existence” of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change  is real. That doesn’t mean it does not exist, but I’ll get back to this. It is the key and only real point.

Secondly, you may regret the [...]

Chiefio (E.M.Smith) responds to Bain et al

In the comments here: E.M.Smith (Chiefio) responded to Paul Bain and then posted it on his own site. It’s very popular (thank you Michael!)

Response to Paul Bain

Dear Paul Bain:

First off, thank you for responding.

FWIW, I am a hard core skeptic. I’m the “target” of your analysis. As such, what folks like me think ought to be particularly important to you. So a bit of history on me and climate change.

I first came to the AGW issue thinking “Gee, this looks important, I ought to learn more about it.” At the Skeptic sites (like WUWT) I had generally kind acceptance and explanation of where I had parts missing from my understanding of the “issues” about AGW and where it was “gone wrong”. At “Believer” sites (an curiously appropriate term as it has all the hallmarks of a religious belief) I would ask simple and innocent questions and largely get derision in return. Simply asking “But doesn’t CO2 have a log limit on absorption effects that we have passed?” or worse, saying “But this article (on skeptic site) seems to have a valid issue.” would bring “Attack the messenger” responses. That, for me, was the first and largest [...]

Defining “denier”. Is it English or Newspeak?

This week Nature Climate Change published the Bain et al letter about “climate change deniers”.  How does Nature define this group? They imply that deniers deny science, but can the researchers, editors or reviewers name any peer reviewed paper with empirical evidence that the deniers deny? Surely this whole paper is not based on a name-calling assumption, a confusion about an illusory sub-species, Homo sapiens denier? Could Nature now be the Journal of UnScience? We shall see…

I have written to ask the lead researcher Dr Paul Bain:

 

Dear Dr Paul Bain,

Right now, it’s almost my life’s work to communicate the empirical evidence on anthropogenic climate change.

I can help you with your research on deniers. I have studied the mental condition of denial most carefully. There is a simple key to converting the convictions of people in this debate, and I have seen it work hundreds of times. Indeed, my own convictions that lasted 17 years were turned around in a few days. I can help you. It would be much simpler than you think.

Firstly, to save time and money we must analyze the leaders of the denial [...]