Faith in Experts Is More Rational Than Faith that Experts Are Wrong

Climate Change Is a HoaxI should know better than to ever even look at a post on Google+ about global warming. The reason is that I always look at the comments and it makes me very angry. I don’t especially care what people think, but from top to bottom, the denial community is rotten. You have the lowest of the low: people who just know that global warming is a crock because Fox News told them Al Gore made a lot of money off it. There is nothing to be said to these people; their belief is a kind of religious faith. But I find the more polished of the denialists most exhausting. I ran into one today.

He made a point I make quite often here: most people who accept global warming are just as faith based as those who deny it. Absolutely true. I’ve long since gotten over being shocked at just how ignorant many liberals are on the subject. But there is a big difference between deciding that you are just going to accept what the experts say and deciding you are in any position to just dismiss what the experts say.

I don’t know how many times conservatives have given me the Al Gore canard. They somehow think that only Al Gore and a couple of other popular figures have anything to gain by discussing global warming. The fact that fossil fuel companies have billions of dollars per year at stake isn’t ever mentioned. And when this fact is pointed out, they dismiss it because we all know that corporations would never lie to us. Except, of course, we don’t know that because it isn’t true.

We actually have recent experience with this. For decades, the cigarette companies trotted out their cherry picked studies to tell the world that smoking did not cause cancer. There is nothing different here. Corporations have no interest whatsoever in the safety of humanity generally. It is all about next quarter’s profits and the bonuses that the top executives will get. But does this sway the denialists? Of course not! Because they know it is a conspiracy because they’ve heard of Climategate and don’t know the first thing about the difficulties of getting temperature records from tree rings.

What really bugs me about all of this is that in their regular lives, all of these deniers do what liberals do when it comes to global warm. They don’t know how the plumbing in their houses work, so when there is a real problem, they call an expert: a plumber. When they crash their cars, they take them to an auto body shop. But when it comes to global warming, they listen to the oil companies who have an overwhelming conflict of interest.

So liberals look to people like me, who actually do understand the science. And I actually have some credibility here because two decades ago when I was working in the field, I was highly skeptical. But the data got better. The models got better. And the climate got worse. All of this made me change my thinking. But the conservative movement in this country has taken the opposite course: as the science has gotten more certain, they have become more certain that there is nothing at all to worry about. And unlike with smoking, their denial is going to hurt all of us.

See Also

More Republican Delay on Global Warming
Charles Krauthammer Doesn’t Know Science
Why Conservatives Ignore Global Warming
The Global Cooling Myth
If Global Warming’s Real Why Is It Cold?
It’s Raining, But Not for Long
Global Warming and Budget Analogy
Pretend Scientist Fred Singer
A Really Big Problem
And many more…

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