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Dealing with Denialism Climate Change Denial One possible management approach... Climate Change Denial One possible management approach...

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Presentation on theme: "Dealing with Denialism Climate Change Denial One possible management approach... Climate Change Denial One possible management approach..."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dealing with Denialism Climate Change Denial One possible management approach... Climate Change Denial One possible management approach...

2 When Victory is Doubt Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the “body of fact” that exists in the mind of the general public. Internal memo from tobacco company Brown and Williamson. Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the “body of fact” that exists in the mind of the general public. Internal memo from tobacco company Brown and Williamson.

3 Who is doing the denying? Save your energy. Pick your fights. Fight them right You are never talking to the denier, you are always talking to those who are listening Save your energy. Pick your fights. Fight them right You are never talking to the denier, you are always talking to those who are listening Architects Acolytes Concerned, curious, uncertain Blowhards Professionals. Will never change Highly committed, but may drift down Your constant and only target market Annoying people who take your energy, but may drift up

4 It’s not a fight about science... They know that. It’s a street fight. That’s why they attack the man If engaging and Architect or an Acolyte Don’t sink to that. But pinpoint and attack and the behaviour and the techniques Actively resist explaining the science until you know you actually have the audience’s attention Keep it big until the audience is ready to go small They know that. It’s a street fight. That’s why they attack the man If engaging and Architect or an Acolyte Don’t sink to that. But pinpoint and attack and the behaviour and the techniques Actively resist explaining the science until you know you actually have the audience’s attention Keep it big until the audience is ready to go small Do not anticipate an honest exploration of knowledge

5 Specific Issues and Techniques 1.Internal inconsistency 2.Gish Gallop 3.Conspiracy theory 4.Know your stuff 5.Simple language 6.Be likeable, and be like them (this matters more than you may realise right now) 1.Internal inconsistency 2.Gish Gallop 3.Conspiracy theory 4.Know your stuff 5.Simple language 6.Be likeable, and be like them (this matters more than you may realise right now)

6 1. Internal inconsistency. What is being denied? Pinpoint the argument and seek consistency Established high certainty scienceDenial position That the earth is warming (unequivocal)No it isn’t. The instrumental readings show it is cooling/ that the warming is statistically insignificant No it isn’t. The instrumental readings show strong warming, but it’s the urban heat island affecting the weather stations That the warming is the result of increased greenhouse gas concentrations especially CO2 Ok it is warming, the other natural forcings can’t be it, but CO 2 is too diluted in the atmosphere to matter That the warming from the mid 20 th Century cannot be from natural forcings (>90% confidence) Ok, it is warming but the warming is natural (changes in solar irradiance, orbits). That the increased concentration is principally anthropogenic Ok, CO2 is a greenhouse gas and increasing concentration has an impact, but the natural sources outweights he manmade sources. Ok, the anthropogenic CO 2 is the culprit, but then the planet adjusts and rids itself of the warming That the warming that is occurring is rapid and is highly likely to cause great harm in the coming century if not mitigated Ok, it is warming, anthropogenic CO 2 is the culprit, but the impact will be benign or beneficial That the warming can be mitigated at far less cost than the cost of climate change Ok, it is warming, anthropogenic CO 2 is the culprit, the warming will do us harm, but not as much harm as ditching fossil fuels

7 2. Dealing Gish-Gallop- don’t (directly...) Buy in, they win. You have started wasting time that could be better spent. So don’t. Cut it short. Buy in, they win. You have started wasting time that could be better spent. So don’t. Cut it short. “Hi Ben, was going to look at the background to some of the “facts” purported in the attached document. Perhaps you have the facts at your fingertips.” “Hi Jeremy, This is using a technique known as “gish-gallop”. Almost always it involves a list of some kind. It works because it looks and sounds convincing, and every one of these lies/distortions/ half truths takes someone like me an awfully long time to convincingly put to rest. The great adage “It takes 20 seconds to lie, and 20 minutes to prove it wrong”. That being the case, I prefer to keep these things simple. I have been sent this before, with the point of origin apparently being the risk manager of a major consulting firm. My communication with him is shown below.

8 2. Dealing with Gish-Gallop- don’t (directly...) “Dear X, I note that you are a Director- Risk Services. Does this questionnaire reflect the approach of Y with regard to managing risk for its clients, specifically regulatory, financial, infrastructure and ecological risks associated with climate change? Is it customary for Y’s Directors of Risk Services to propagate scientific positions that are contrary to those held by organisations such as the CSIRO, The Bureau of Meteorology, The World Meteorological Organisation, The National Academy of Science (USA), and the Royal Society (UK)?

9 2. Dealing with Gish-Gallop- don’t (directly...) “Dear X, The author of the questionnaire is listed as one Gregg D Thompson. I cannot locate any climate research undertaken by Mr Thompson, nor any formal scientific qualifications whatsoever. It would appear that he is an amateur astronomer, with a keen interest in stargazing and the creation of special effects. In undertaking risk management work for Y, is Mr Thompson typical of the quality of source that you would rely upon when advising your clients? I look forward to your prompt response.”

10 2. Dealing with Gish-Gallop- don’t (directly...) In person, keep your cool... Answer 20 questions with one... Keep rephrasing and press the issue.... “If your work and ideas contradicts the IPCC, what has prevented you from publishing these findings in peer reviewed scientific literature? This is incredible, it will win you a Nobel Prize.” “How is it that you know all this, but the IPCC, CSIRO, NAS, Royal Society and every other major scientific institution in the world thinks differently?” Press hard enough and there is only one answer...

11 3. The Conspiracy Theory The scientific consensus is so great, none of their stuff works without a conspiracy theory. They are all sitting on one. Make them say it. Make them explain it. Ask for details. “When did this begin?” “Who started it?” “When were the scientists coopted?” “How did has it spread through every scientific institution in the world?” “How did they get the walruses, glaciers, polar ice cap, migratory birds and wood mites on side?”walruses

12 4. Know your stuff... Every now and then it makes the difference Sometimes, you will have the opportunity to hit the sweet spot... Person or people genuinely trying to learn... Knowing your stuff is critical at this point “ Ben... I always wanted to know the answer to this question... If they're finding ocean creature fossils in the middle of the Australian outback the assumption is there was once ocean... there right? Why is it all gone surely not global warming due to the population of earth and the dinosaurs died during an ice age in theory. The other question if earth moved 5m closer to the sun would Anyone be able to measure it and would this affect our temperature? BINGO!!!

13 5. Simple language and examples where appropriate Dumbing down a necessarily complex subject is a slippery slope But when you can do it safely, it can be powerful Find some safe statements that communicate powerfully Dumbing down a necessarily complex subject is a slippery slope But when you can do it safely, it can be powerful Find some safe statements that communicate powerfully “The temperature record in Victoria was beaten by about 0.8 degrees - that's a century-long record, beaten by 0.8 degrees. That's like Bradman's batting average being beaten by 50.” Professor Andy Pittman commenting on the new temperature record for Melbourne of 46.4 degrees, up from a previous record of 45.6 degrees Titration is a nice example for explaining: Why small quantities can matter Tipping points

14 6. Be likeable, and be like them That's not to suggest that we aren't also motivated to perceive the world accurately—we are. Or that we never change our minds—we do. It's just that we have other important goals besides accuracy—including identity affirmation and protecting one's sense of self—and often those make us highly resistant to changing our beliefs when the facts say we should. It helps a lot if deniers can look to the people occupying the other space and like what they see, and sense other shared values It helps to work from common ground where you can find it: dislike of other pollution, preference for nuclear power... and go from there

15 Case Study 1.Conspiracy theory: “the gravy train was too big, with too many jobs, industries, trading profits, political careers, and the possibility of world government and total control riding on the outcome. So rather than admit they were wrong, the governments, and their tame climate scientists, now cheat and lie outrageously to maintain the fiction that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant”. Dr David Evans: Address to the anti-carbon tax rally, 23 March 2011 Lead conspirator Svante Arrhenius ( ), “if the quantity of carbonic acid increases in geometric progression, the augmentation of the temperature will increase nearly in arithmetic progression.”

16 Case Study 2.Carbon dioxide does warm the planet... but the planet adjusts: “Let’s be perfectly clear. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and other things being equal, the more carbon dioxide in the air, the warmer the planet. Every bit of carbon dioxide that we emit warms the planet.” “There are now several independent pieces of evidence showing that the earth responds to the warming due to extra carbon dioxide by dampening the warming.” 2.Carbon dioxide does warm the planet... but the planet adjusts: “Let’s be perfectly clear. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and other things being equal, the more carbon dioxide in the air, the warmer the planet. Every bit of carbon dioxide that we emit warms the planet.” “There are now several independent pieces of evidence showing that the earth responds to the warming due to extra carbon dioxide by dampening the warming.” Dr David Evans: Address to the anti-carbon tax rally, 23 March 2011 Your Nobel Prize, Dr Evans

17 Case Study 3.But they are measuring it wrong. Let the Gish Gallop begin: “The official thermometers are often located in the warm exhaust of air conditioning outlets, over hot tarmac at airports where they get blasts of hot air from jet engines, at wastewater plants where they get warmth from decomposing sewage, or in hot cities choked with cars and buildings...” Dr David Evans: Address to the anti-carbon tax rally, 23 March like those hot cities in Siberia, the Bering Strait, and the North Pole

18 Case Study 4.But the satellites are right, and it’s actually getting cooler: “Global temperature is also measured by satellites, which measure nearly the whole planet 24/7without bias. The satellites say the hottest recent year was 1998, and that since 2001 the global temperature has levelled off” Dr David Evans: Address to the anti-carbon tax rally, 23 March 2011 Ah, The only one of 160 years that lets you draw a down arrow to 2010

19 Case Study 5. But actually, the warming has been natural all along: “The earth has been in a warming trend since the depth of the Little Ice Age around We have just finished a warming phase, so expect mild global cooling for the next two decades”. Dr David Evans: Address to the anti-carbon tax rally, 23 March 2011 Expect mild global cooling for the next two decades, with a possibility of bullsh!t later in this speech

20 Case Study 6. Did I mention conspiracy?: “Governments gleefully accept their advice, because the only way to curb emissions are to impose taxes and extend government control over all energy use. And to curb emissions on a world scale might even lead to world government — how exciting for the political class!” Dr David Evans: Address to the anti-carbon tax rally, 23 March and the new head of the IPCC is...

21 The next speaker... Confused a little?

22 Conclusion Remember your audience Attack the techniques. Only go to the science when they are dying to hear it Keep your powder dry. Wasting your time is a victory for denialism Learn your stuff Learn some simple and effective communication Remember you are asking someone to change identity. Give them a good reason Remember your audience Attack the techniques. Only go to the science when they are dying to hear it Keep your powder dry. Wasting your time is a victory for denialism Learn your stuff Learn some simple and effective communication Remember you are asking someone to change identity. Give them a good reason


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