18. März 2012
Image via Wikimedia
Neutral observers have been perplexed at the response of key figures in climate science skepticism since specialists from other scientific disciplines exposed flaws in the greenhouse gas ‘theory’, often referred to as the ‘greenhouse effect’ (GHE).
A bizarre opprobrium has come from the denizens of anti-orthodox climate alarmism which is much at odds with the usual tenets of dispassionate scientific skepticism.
Once imperious figures such as Fred Singer, Roy Spencer, Richard Lindzen (and now WUWT’s Anthony Watts) have been irate and less than dignified in their shaky defense of the greenhouse gas effect, the cornerstone of man-made global warming.
Are you an Empirical, Paradigmatic or Wishful Thinker?
Why do these so-called skeptics shun public debate on this pivotal issue? Well, let’s consider what experts like David Ray Griffin PhD say. Griffin and others from the world of philosophy and psychology advise that there are three types of personality at work here.
Firstly, there are empirical people who look at the evidence and are open to change their mind. The second class of people are paradigmatic, they buy into a paradigm about how the world works and say, “this is my set of beliefs and I’m convinced what you say doesn’t fit my world view, so I won’t accept your evidence." Then there is the third category - wishful thinkers (or fearful thinkers). These are those people who will not believe anything that makes them fearful - especially new ideas of great import.
In climate science the empiricists are rising above the maelstrom and shining through. Climatologists Tim Ball, Gerhard Kramm and Ralph Dlugi have gone on record to state there is “a lack of tangible evidence” for any atmospheric greenhouse effect because the science is “based on meritless conjectures.” Thus the empiricists are jumping the GHE ship. Empiricists embrace the new paradigm because the GHE is shown to belong more to the 19th Century rather than the 21st.
Even the mainstream journal Science appears to be backtracking from the fallacy after recently publishing a paper conceding, “Results imply lower probability of imminent extreme climatic change than previously thought.” [1.]
Denialism is Borne of Fear and Irrationality
The paradigmatics and the wishful thinkers are most likely to fall prey to pure denial to help them avoid anxiety. They cannot so easily face the emotion of fear. They are afraid of being ostracized, having their status challenged, their incomes and jobs put at risk - in essence feeling helpless and vulnerable as their “consensus” fades. [2,3] At such moments they are more prone to lie and cheat, cherry-pick and be accused of falsify their science risking criminal prosecution.
It’s essentially what cognitive dissonance theory tells us. None of us wants negativity in our lives but these people are more prone to choose a defense mechanism: usually anger towards and/or ridicule of the messenger. They believe they have been offended. They pathologize and censor the messenger.
We can learn from experts like Dr. Griffin how to approach those paradigmatics and wishful thinkers who cling to the GHE. Griffin and his ilk advise we pose mostly open-ended questions and encourage others to face that up to the enduring truth that reality will never precisely be what we think it is; none of us are above false beliefs. Plus, our pride is a basic human flaw that obstructs such open inquiry.
Left-brain versus Right-brain Dichotomy
Empirical thinkers are those people least dominated by left-brain processing (left brain hemispheric thinking prefers conformity to simplistic world models). Empirical thinkers are more active with the right side of the brain (intuitive/creative, problem solving).
This is why Principia Scientific International is needed. It lays out the need for more empirical people to assist the other two basic personality types to confront their prejudices. PSI's pioneering PROM system (Peer review in open media) is an empiricist’s blessing and a methodology to be feared by paradigmatics and wishful thinkers.
Open, evidence-based science is the only way we will ever move these entrenched personality types forward. But we need to recognize that a lot of people are inherently incapable of accepting change. So whether we like it or not we are all affected by various degrees of cognitive dissonance. The challenge is acquiring the insight to address it.
John O’Sullivan is Co-founder and coordinator of Principia Scientific International.
[1.] Schmittner, A., et al. “Climate Sensitivity Estimated from
Temperature Reconstructions of the Last Glacial Maximum,” Science
 U S Senate Minority Report: More Than 700 International
Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims;
Scientists Continue to Debunk “Consensus” in 2008 & 2009, March 16, 2009, page 87.
 Update, U S Senate Minority Report: More Than 1000
International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming
Claims; Scientists Continue to Debunk Fading “Consensus” in 2008,
2009 & 2010, December 8, 2010, page 153.