Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Denial Industry

There is now a rather well organized denial industry, centered on the right-wing "think" (or stink) tanks, prepared to deny any bit os science or logic that is inconvenient to their sponsors. They got their start defending big tobacco, but moved on to denying ozone destruction by halocarbons, and global warming. Inequality denial has been in vogue for a few decades too, with a big push now against Piketty (see post below).

I was struck by Paul Krugman's characterization of their methodology regarding inequality, but equally applicable to things like AGW denial.

This denial didn’t rely on any one argument, nor did it involve consistent objections. Instead, it involved throwing many different arguments against the wall, hoping that something would stick. Inequality isn’t rising; it is rising, but it’s offset by social mobility; it’s cancelled by greater aid to the poor (which we’re trying to destroy, but never mind that); anyway, inequality is good. All these arguments have been made at the same time; none of them ever gets abandoned in the face of evidence — they just keep coming back.

This is exactly my experience in dealing with the climate denialists: no attempt at logical consistency, a hodge-podge of often mutually inconsistent arguments, immunity to evidence, and so on. It's not greenhouse gasses, it's insolation - if that doesn't fit the measurements so what. Venus has a big greenhouse - no, it's just adiabatic compression - never mind that this makes neither thermodynamic or other sense.