When Did Ignorance Become A Point of View?
Meteorologist Dan Satterfield writes a blog (“Wild Wild Science Journal”) on the American Geophysical Union website, and in his latest post he takes on the case of Joe Bastardi, who recently beclowned himself on Fox News (heh, where else?):
There are plenty of things in climate physics that one can argue about; the climate sensitivity, the negative feed-backs that may slow down Arctic melting and many more, but Joe Bastardi’s appearance on Fox News last weekend didn’t go there. Instead, he proclaimed the moon was made of green cheese and the Earth was the center of the solar system! No, he didn’t literally make that claim, but the claims he made were just as preposterous and there is no scientific question about it.
His claims seem to be right off of the websites of those who sit in a dark basement wearing a tinfoil hat, and proclaim the government is spewing chem-trails across the sky as part of a great mind control experiment. Don’t even get me started on the HAARP folks, or the 2012 emails I get!
I’m being to harsh you say? Not at all, but don’t take my word for it, Davide Castelvecchi at Scientific American takes apart his arguments and leaves them in a scattered pile on the floor. John Cook at Skeptical Science does the same in even greater detail, and I highly recc. reading both.
There have been quite a few other comments in the science blogosphere about the claims he made, but what is really sad here is that Bastardi is not a tinfoil type who has never taken a college physics course, he’s a smart synoptic forecaster, and a darned good one. He just has the syndrome that seems to affect some meteorologists about climate change science, i.e. they run into a brick wall, throw science out the window and start repeating absolute silliness ( More soon on TV Mets. and climate change).
Is there an explanation for this?
There is, and the psychological name for it is identity protective cognition. It’s also called the “White Male Effect” and a paper just published in the journal Global Environmental Change presents a fascinating look at why such a large percentage of climate change deniers are conservative white males (CWM). […]
In that latter section (and the rest of his blog entry) Dan references the paper Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States
which we’ve referenced here before. In that paper the authors examine the statistical evidence that illustrates that American self-declared “conservative” white males are much more into denying the science of climatology, and specifically AGW, than the rest of society.
As Dan references earlier, many intelligent people around the net immediately jumped on Bastardi’s foolishness, e.g.:
Learning from Bastardi’s Mistakes
and so forth, so we don’t have to repeat the corrections to Bastardi’s mistakes here (just go read those links.)
What Dan Sattersfield discusses is very important, and that is the nature of the “discussion” that we in this country are having in public over issues like AGW, and other such highly complex issues, is very much not about the actual issue or subject but rather about protecting one’s own, professed and internally believed, “identity”.
We see that in so many entries at the usual self-declared “conservative” websites (e.g., Townhall, HotAir, etc.). The identity of “conservative” is so important that it has taken on a religious air (on top of the already existing religious milieu of the commenters at those sites.) This then overrides any concern for the technical/scientific nature of whatever topic is under discussion.
The black hole of hate, revenge, and ignorance into which the American “far right” (more accurately, reactionary atavists) is sucking the general “conservative” political scene is a bottomless pit - they’ll never pull out. That’s why Bastardi can go on Fox and make such stupid comments about physics - the faithful will never understand why Bastardi is wrong nor do they care. They just want to protect their identity.
We’ve seen this earlier in American history (e.g., George Wallace and all his followers, the survivors of which are part of the current revanche); most of these people are too old to change and we just have to persevere until they die off.
In the meantime, let’s work to keep the younger generations from following their path.