Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

Can people really be this stupid?

with 30 comments

Just over a week ago, David Rose posted an article in the Mail on Sunday claiming that climate change has stopped happening.  Despite a howl of protest (including my own) – and some very thorough rebuttals in various publications (pointing out things like 98% of energy the Earth receives from the Sun is being absorbed by its oceans) – he decided to repeat his nonsense again at the weekend.  This comment (below), by someone who is clearly unaware of the track-record that businesses have for denying responsibility for bad things that happen to their customers, caught my eye – for all the wrong reasons:

“Asking scientists to deny climate change is like asking Cadbury’s to deny Easter. Ask yourself, how many scientists are involved in climate change research, sustainable energy research, carbon capture research, etc, etc? It’s a cash-cow, and the rest of us are providing the hay.” – Had enough, London, United Kingdom, 21/10/2012 13:35.

So, to answer my question… Yes, apparently they really can be this stupid!
Please enjoy the video:

Written by Martin Lack

23 October 2012 at 00:02

30 Responses

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  1. Yes, they can. But telling them so is probably not going to help our cause!

    Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

    23 October 2012 at 01:11

    • Thanks Jennifer. I guess that, if I feel that trying to answer such questions politely is pointless (because I will just get abuse), I will have to stop reading them (because they make me so angry/despondent).

      Martin Lack

      23 October 2012 at 10:46

      • Yes, I hear you Martin. Avoiding despair & burnout is really tough in this fight we’re in. Wish we were closer and could cheer each other up over a nice cup of tea!

        Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

        24 October 2012 at 15:52

        • Thanks Jennifer. I hope you were not too disappointed by the PBS Frontline programme?. I think it did a good job of documenting the complete policy U-turn executed by the GOP; and demonstrating how and why Obama is trying so hard not to mention the issue. However, I feel it merely painted contrarians as ideological prisoners of a false dichotomy (i.e. Green=Socialist)… Against which ‘Greedy Lying B@st@rds’ (GLB) might be a more effective antidote (i.e. more likely to change public opinion).

          If, by some miracle, you have not seen either the PBS programme or the GLB trailer – both are available on Climate Denial Crock of the Week.

          Martin Lack

          24 October 2012 at 19:01

  2. … and some very thorough rebuttals in various publications (pointing out things like 98% of the Sun’s energy is being absorbed by the oceans)…

    That’s just plain confusing and cannot possibly mean what it says. There’s simply no way that 98% of all of the energy emitted by the sun — the one about which the Eaarth (sic)* orbits — can be absorbed by the teeny weeny drop (relatively speaking) of water sitting on the surface of this pale blue dot of, err, ‘ours’… in fact, almost all of the energy radiated from ‘our’ sun comes nowhere near our planet at all!

    As for the video, it’s a scream, but it’s also very, very sad. Homo fatuus brutus strikes again!

    * Yes, indeedy, it’s one sick planet. Inhabited by several billion fucking idiots.


    23 October 2012 at 03:00

  3. I was hoping for a new word to spring from these pages with the help of such illustrious company: A word for those people we have worked with; for those bright, educated, often well paid, professionals who just miss what really is going on; who could not be accused of being morans, but who are just £****ing stupid.

    The meaning of this word is a special kind of stupidity; restricted to smart people who avoid evidence.


    23 October 2012 at 12:15

    • As I am sure you are aware, Jules, I share your frustration. However, I think it is comments like this that Jennifer considers unhelpful. People like Rev Philip Foster would describe this as ‘Bulverism’ – telling someone thy are wrong without first explaining why they are wrong. The problem with that particular ‘smoke screen’ is that when you provide the mountain of confirmatory evidence you are either
      (a) ignored; or (b) presented with the molehill of contradictory evidence.

      Martin Lack

      23 October 2012 at 13:49

      • It just appears to me the dictionary needs a new word for intelligent stupid people.
        how about contramorans?


        23 October 2012 at 17:50

        • How about intellipid or stupilligent?

          Martin Lack

          23 October 2012 at 18:26

        • a new word for intelligent stupid people
          On the grounds that stupidity is a, um, lack of intelligence (pun, err, coincidental, honest gov!), I offer:

          intellacker (n) — rhymes with ‘slacker’😛


          23 October 2012 at 21:14

        • How about ‘ignoratti’, for it is various facets of ignorance on display with each and every one of these examples particularly those seemingly going for a Darwin Award. And yes I did first pick up on these on USENET – remember that in the days of dial-up?

          Lionel A

          24 October 2012 at 17:59

        • “Ignoratti” – I like it!

          Having just watched the PBS Frontline programme – ‘Climate of Doubt’ – I think the biggest problem (in the USA at least) is the way in which James Delingpole’s ‘Watermelon’ fallacy has taken hold… Call me naive, but, I think people like Fred Singer and Myron Ebell really do believe they are fighting for American Freedom.

          Martin Lack

          24 October 2012 at 18:49

        • Call me naive, but, I think people like Fred Singer and Myron Ebell really do believe they are fighting for American Freedom.

          If they believe that then they’re delusional; if they don’t, then they do at least understand that rattling the sabers, flying the flag and nationalistic jingoism in general is the best way to get ‘democracy’ to bow to their wishes…


          24 October 2012 at 21:41

        • OK then, Singer must be delusional. One thing I am certain he is not is simply a liar.

          Martin Lack

          24 October 2012 at 22:03

        • @Martin I’m intrigued how you can be so certain.


          24 October 2012 at 22:10

        • OK, he may be a liar but he is not simple. No, being serious, when someone is asked a series of straight questions (like Singer is in the Climate of Doubt programme) and answers them unequivocally – it is much easier to believe he is deluded than to believe he is a liar.

          Clearly, some people are liars (or the new movie would not be called what it is). The liars are the people we never hear from; the ones making all the money. Singer may have done quite well writing books and giving speeches but he not “in it for the money” any more than James Hansen is. Both men, however, seem to me to be completely convinced that they are in a fight to save the future of humanity (one from itself and the other from Communists) – and I know which one makes more sense to me…

          Martin Lack

          25 October 2012 at 10:32

    • I don’t know about a new word, but the closest existing set of words that I’ve found so far that describes what you have mentioned is probably a fusion of a couple of other concepts.

      First there’s a general cognitive bias thought of as Illusory Superiority. That’s a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities, relative to others. Sometimes it’s aggravated by the Dunning-Kruger effect, where unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average.

      The fact is though, the people we’re talking about have succumbed to actual propaganda operations that are typically used by public relations groups, and have been under development since before World War II.

      Basically the people we’re referring to have succumbed to a well designed, extremely well funded propaganda and psychological operations campaign. These techniques are well known to work against large populations of humans. The collective “we” have been sharpening our skills in this area since print media and radio became common.

      So unfortunately the word you maybe looking for would be a disappointment, because that word may be “human”, no matter how much that conclusion may irritate me.


      25 October 2012 at 02:25

      • Thanks for sharing those views, tewwetingdonal. I think propaganda may well have been invented in the 16th Century – pretty soon after the Printing Press. Personally-speaking, in order to not drive myself mad with rage, I find it helpful to conceive of most “sceptics” as mistaken rather than trying to willfully deceive people.

        Martin Lack

        25 October 2012 at 10:37

  4. On the subject of S. Fred Singer, he probably is a “true believer” by now. He and Fred Seitz collaborated to create a disinformation campaign about climate in the late 1980s. The documents relating to the Marshall Institute and Singer’s SEPP planning exist.

    The thing that is frustrating about these two men in particular is that they both were highly regarded physicists early in their careers that for some reason decided to turn into political activists late in their careers. Seitz is dead, but Singer is still around, and speaks with great sincerity about his beliefs. Whether he started out as a cynical shill and manged to brainwash himself into his current position is something that I doubt we’ll ever know, but he does a good job these days acting as an evangelist for his positions.

    I did run in to both of them at separate times back in the late 1980s in the course of my work, not in a personal way, but I did encounter them. It’s not surprising that they have influenced many people into denying evidence, since they spoke very confidently of their own conclusions, even though their positions did not seem to be supported by the evidence.


    25 October 2012 at 03:18

  5. “ignoratti” – I like that, it will be interesting how quickly such a meme will spread.

    Are people like Singer delusional or liars? I think being slightly delusional is an in-built human condition. Scientists can and do look for evidence that confirms wrong ideas. The super-human trick is recognise those errors; and keep others in the loop.

    Scientists are human too: How many times have you seen a blogger or comment that goes – ‘well it looks like there’s no warming’? Emotions play a role, that gut feeling can cause conflict especially if that gut feeling was occasionally right. Scientists eventually get old and stubborn, they stick to their ancient guns; and it requires them to retire die etc before the new wave become established.

    And finally there is the tough but unconventional cop who gets things done but bends the rules. The evil paedo is going to get away with it, but our hard man knows what is right. Sure, the evidence won’t stand up in court; but he gets to pop a cap in the crims saddo arse; and we know its the right thing. My Hero.


    25 October 2012 at 10:22

    • Thanks for that characteristically-idiosyncratic offering, Jules. I am looking forward to the next one already!:-)

      Martin Lack

      25 October 2012 at 10:54

    • Well I have used it a few times recently on other blogs, Deltoid for sure. It seemed so apt to me as being the conditioning of the masses at the wishes of the illuminati, I dropped in an extra ‘t’ as a finger to the T-Party and that alphabet soup of fossil-fuel manufactured think tanks, AFP, API, CEI etc which are set up by that latter to bamboozle the former. Check out the KATO (Cato with a Koch or two for the lies the origin) Institutes latest devious malarkey inspired by Pat MIchaels. See Climate Progress, the Rabett’s place or DesmogBlog if unaware.

      Lionel A

      25 October 2012 at 18:31

  6. Thanks Martin… I haven’t had time to peruse your blog… I wasn’t clear that I was “preaching to the choir”:)


    25 October 2012 at 16:35

    • You have not been reading my comments on Climate Denial Crock of the Week then! :-)

      BTW, I should have said, thanks for finally visiting!

      Martin Lack

      25 October 2012 at 16:53

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