Self-delusion 101: Conversation with a climate denier


There are several Facebook groups dedicated to the topic of Climate Change/Global Warming. The ones called ‘discussion’ and ‘debate’ are crawling with trolls. Some are better: I thought the one called something like ‘Air, Water, Energy, Resources’ was more serious. This is (what I remember of) a ‘conversation’ (insofar as that venerable term can be applied to online interactions) with someone who turned out to be one of the administrators of said group, who had commented on this article which I had posted a link to. I’m posting it here not out of self-aggrandisement (I’m not exactly proud of spending time online arguing about politics with people who for all I know may be only 13 years old) but because my site (this one) has now become the object of attention from climate trolls and I want to demonstrate one central delusion of their mission to disrupt efforts to save humanity: that their opinions about climate science have any validity or meaning whatsoever. The conversation no longer ‘exists’ because I left the group immediately afterwards, but I’ve tried to be honest in recalling what was said.

Thanks for what you wrote, I think a lot of it is wrong but I respect your right to say it. You’re very sure about scientific things that haven’t been proven. Anyway, do people really deny the holocaust? I don’t think so.

They do, sadly, in fact dedicated climate trolls very often moonlight as holocaust ‘revisionists’. Have a look around. And the science was settled several decades ago, as you must be aware.

That’s not true, you can’t be sure about anything. There are many different opinions. Science is never settled.

Well, it’s not a matter of opinion. Scientists conduct and repeat experiments and the results of those experiments are published and then themselves tested. It’s not guesswork. Anyway its odd that you should have chosen this particular area of science to dispute, because as it happens there’s a massive industry based on denying it, funded by the fossil fuel industry. Is that a coincidence?

I don’t care about fossil fuel companies. I’m interested in the science.

Are you yourself a climate scientist?

I have enough expertise to be a climate scientist.

I have enough expertise to fly a mission to Mars. I’m still waiting for them to call me back. Have you passed a series of exams which test your knowledge of the climate? Have you been rigorously trained in conducting experiments and interpreting their results? Has your expertise been recognised? Do you work in the field of climate science? Where can I find your work so I can see for myself?

I know a lot more than people who do.

But you’re not one. On the scale of climate scientist to internet troll, you’re way on the opposite side from climate scientist. Are you even an adult? Because it seems to me that your understanding of science is puerile.

Please be civil.

Civil? Scientists are essential to civilisation. Pretending to be one undermines the credibility of real scientists and thereby undermines civilisation. Do you pretend to be anyone else? When they say “is there a doctor on the plane?” Has anyone died as a result?

I’ve never pretended to be a doctor.

Well done. That’s really commendable. Look, I’ve just googled your name. This is what came up. You’re not a climate scientist. You may be just a schoolchild. I don’t want to be too hard on you, but get yourself another hobby. This issue is far, far too important to play these kinds of games. And I’ve got a word for you to learn: agnotology. I’ve googled it for you. It means the deliberate spreading of misinformation and uncertainty. That’s what you’re doing. Please, please stop.

2 thoughts on “Self-delusion 101: Conversation with a climate denier

  1. I’ve given up… I’m fed up with being told that because we used to think the earth was flat it’s ok to dismiss the idea of climate change (don’t get me started on that one). Presenting data and reasoned arguments is pointless if the person you are having the ‘conversation’ with isn’t listening. I have decided to direct my energy towards practical action rather than screaming into a void.

    Liked by 1 person

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