How to convince a sceptic – just give them the data

Over the years I have constantly heard the view that what climate academics are failing to do is “communicate with sceptics”. This is the biggest load of claptrap I’ve ever heard. It shows those doing this kind of research have no real understanding of sceptics.

The “communication is all that is needed” argument

The logic of this argument is this:

If person A is the authority on a subject and they assert B, then if person C rejects the assertion B, it is either because they have not been able to hear the fact B or they do not know that authority A is the authority.

This is because in social “science” like most arts subjects, most of what is written is mere opinion without many hard facts to back it up. In contrast real science is based on the facts and not opinion. But because social “science” is more an art than a science, when social “scientists” look at climate , they immediately accept that their own colleagues must be right and accept them without question them as the undisputed authority. Therefore when they see sceptics they believe that our rejection of the statements of their authorities must in some way be because the communication of the views of their authorities has not got through for some reason.

The autonomous sceptic

In the previous article I mentioned that I was developing a theory that sceptics tended to be more autonomous and able to think for themselves than alarmists who tend to be group-thinkers who need and value a consensus.
Unfortunately, or in retrospect – predictably, academia doesn’t have much research on “autonomous thinkers”. Indeed, it is as if academia doesn’t recognise the concept of individuality or that people can think for themselves. It certainly has very little research looking at the benefits of having people able to work on their own. And this was the intial hypothesis I was trying to test with the survey (together with getting demographics).
To try to discern some measure of “autonomous thinking” I developed various questions which came from a variety of sources. These are by nature qualitative and without comparison the results are quite meaningless. (Unfortunately, without the necessary academic help I was unable to obtain comparative results. And now these results & hypothesis are being made public any survey will be biased.)

The key question

With all these qualitative questions, I wanted something more quantitative. So I wanted to get hard evidence confirming what my previous research suggested and that was that sceptics were less willing to accept the views of academic researchers.
I hit upon a question which sought to work out how credible the participants viewed the statements of various “authorities”. I needed some authority based on science which most people would accept as credible. In an international scientific debate where we know participants would be “sceptical”, it was difficult to think of any area of science which was common throughout the world and where most participants would have a similar level of knowledge and which was not in some way open to “debate”. Therefore I chose an area common to us all which is medicine.
I needed two extremes and journalists and politicians were one obvious extreme which most people accept are highly dubious. However, I needed the other extreme. I had read somewhere that of all professionals doctors were seen as the most credible. So, I chose the family doctor as the person most people would accept as an authority on something as simple as a flue epidemic. This is because I assumed that because a doctor has immediately knowledge from their own patients and from their colleagues that almost everyone would see them as an undisputed authority.

A medical association reports a flu epidemic.
Doctor: Your doctor says there is a flu epidemic.
Newspaper: A newspaper reports a flu epidemic
Gov: A government scientist reports a flu epidemic.
Acade: An academic journal reports a flu epidemic
You: You obtain data and work out there is a flu epidemic.

The above graph shows where participants placed various possible authorities. Column 1 means they were placed as being the most credible, whereas column 6 means they were placed as least credible.
And, the surprising result (for me at least), is that sceptics overwhelmingly put their own analysis above every other authority even General  doctors who I had assumed would be the acknowledged experts on something like a flu epidemic (Note I have three doctors & four vets in my close family so this might be personal bias).
If it wasn’t for the fact that overwhelmingly the participants of the survey are all very highly qualified in science and engineering and that overwhelmingly all have had over 16 years experience I might have considered sceptics to be arrogant in assuming that if they looked at the data their analysis is more credible than that of doctors dealing with patients and “in the know”. Instead it seems that sceptics are rightly confident in their own ability to analyse the data.
To put it very simply: it appears sceptics are just people who are not only qualified to analyse the data but also very experienced in analysing data, who rightly know they are competent to analyse the data and so more convinced by their own analysis than the statements of any of others.

How to convince a sceptic

So, this shows that it is very easy to convince a sceptic: don’t try to “communicate with them”, just give sceptics the data & let them analyse it themselves.

I’ve now filtered the data of all obvious personal information.
To access this data you must download this data and agree to and enter the following password:
“I will respect all participants whether sceptic or not”

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16 Responses to How to convince a sceptic – just give them the data

  1. higley7 says:

    Very simply, the warmists do not KNOW that science is behind them, which it is not. They have FAITH in what their leaders tell them. It is very hard to change the minds of the faithful, as it would make them feel like fools to admit that their faith-leaders were leading them astray.
    Faith-based thinking is by definition group think. Autonomous thinkers are scientists, who do not have faith in science. They have CONFIDENCE in it and can independently construct valid arguments to support their findings, not beliefs, findings.
    We do have more-or-less faith-based science, however, such as the Big Bang Theory which is supported by so many astronomers despite the fact that the major premise of the theory is fatally flawed. Red shift is also caused by gravitational fields and most of the red shift we see out there is gravitational, with quasars not being incredibly distant, very bright objects, but relatively normal objects in our local galactic cluster. That is to say, the Big Band never happened and all of the Dark mater, energy, and force are completely extraneous.
    It is the willingness of astronomers to apply red shift indiscriminately as evidence of receding velocity and only recognize red shift by gravity when considering black holes and Hawking radiation that makes them scientific faithful and true logical hypocrites. You cannot pick and choose which scientific principle you want to be there—all principles are in effect all the time everywhere.

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      Global warming was one of those “bait” subjects where academics felt secure to use their normal poor standards and make up whatever theories they liked knowing they could not be then proved or disproved. Usually, in the past, they got away with such behaviour because such theories were either forgotten or predicted too far into the distant future or past for anyone to test them.
      But Global warming has a massive sting. Not only were they stupid enough to bet the whole credibility of “science” on some numbskull theory, not only was the rest of “science” willing to allow them to put their credibility on the line, not only were they stupid enough to make this “the biggest problem facing mankind” so they have zero chance of anyone forgetting, … but within a few short decades that whole credibility can and will be tested.
      And so far, despite all the bogus methods they use to upjust the temperature data, they still are incapable of making their upjusted temperature come anywhere near their predictions.
      So, within as short a period as 5-10 years, the whole of the scientific establishment will look like a daft bunch of numpty dim-wits.
      And unlike all the previous scandals that are quickly written up by academics to put academia in the most positive light and blame the whole fiasco on some other group. This time the blogosphere will be writing the history and academics will not be allowed to forget.

  2. David Watt says:

    I have been of the opinion that it would all unravel within 5 years or so fr the past 15 years.
    Blind faith it appears is remarkably resilient.

  3. Scott Scarborough says:

    Don’t understand the graph. What are the numbers on the vertical axis?

  4. Issa Bhagunz says:

    1. You probably should say, “in your opinion,” “it appears [THESE] sceptics are just people who are not only qualified to analyse the data but also very experienced in analysing data…”
    2. Can you adjust the collating of the responses to show the balance of respondants’ confidence in the “nearby” (themselves, familiy doctor) versus the “faraway” (politician or newspaper)?

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      Honest answer: no. But I could probably read up/work out how to do it.
      What might be possible is that if someone could produce a procedure or set of executables in R. I could run them on the data.

  5. Scott Scarborough says:

    I got it now. Thanks.

  6. Pingback: Predictors of climate alarmism and scepticism | Scottish Sceptic

  7. RogueElement451 says:

    Now look here , I have been visiting web sites and gaining a lot of knowledge about the climate in general for several years , my interest was piqued as they say and so ,being a relentless pursuer of the truth I have come to my own conclusions which undoubtedly are based on a whole lot of my own ignorance .On the other hand ,every alarmista jihadi I talk to knows absolutely jackshit on the subject, has conducted no research at all and are smug in extreme in their ignorance, They are swayed by being part of some magical consensus that tells them they are a very clever person and that anyone who does not believe is obviously some kind of cantankerous,rabble rousing , tin foil hat wearing nutter.
    The longer I examine the evidence the more inclined I become to not being even a luke warmer ,
    the entire concept of CO2 at .04% of the Earths atmosphere and only a tiny part of that being being man made makes it ridiculous to think that .008% tail of the atmosphere is waving around the 99.992% dog is beyond credibility.
    How can the President of America even begin to believe this tainted nonsense?
    How can politicians of all ilk grasp this poison nettle without realising how stupid they look now to some and to all when truth is apparent. Relying on the best scientific advice available at the time when they are quite blatantly ignoring fact, observation and empirical evidence will not be an excuse. At least Cameron came out with “enough of the green crap” but then hides behind the misty veil of science advisors,,,,,which means spin doctors and vote counters.
    I understand the concepts , I understand the logic, I even understand the psychology on both sides of the fence .
    Somebody has made a major error on day 1 of the global warming mathematics and they are stuck in that corner. The only way for sceptics to achieve any sort of result is for the planet to freeze to death at which point I will not be happy about saying I told you so.
    Now that they have exchanged “global warming” for “climate change” they can point out the record cold in the USA is another sign ! a portent, an omen of more incredible weather events to come.
    We need to nail them on CAGW ,not let them slip off the leash into weird weather. Nail them every time , “what happened to global warming? where did it go? The sea?? oh really LOL”
    They will slip and slither and point out that the IPCC refers to climate change not to Global warming , shit…even if the temps drop a degree they will still be screaming climate change!
    That the Earth has a self regulating atmospheric system which has allowed life to prosper for millions of years is entirely apparent , that the case against CO2 has collapsed is also apparent.
    I am staggered at the ignorance on display in climate science ,I am staggered that the usual suspects refuse to get off the roundabout , I am staggered by journalists like Nutticcelli who continue to parade their arrogant abuse of pseudo science , they MUST know by now surely that the pretext was wrong , that the hypotheses has failed ,that every model and every prediction has failed , but I suppose if you have made a good living out of it for a few years ,it is not just hard to let it go ,it must be damn near impossible visualising a future with no support or income.
    They say hang the deniers , I say fuck them , the climate Jihadis.

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      Great! Looking back on my life, I am absolutely certain that I could never have conceived that so many people would be so deluded for so long on something so simple.
      I certainly had a blind faith that “things would work out” – they did not. The system isn’t self correcting. It doesn’t recognise its own faults let alone correct them. And I see absolutely no reason that the obvious failings that led to the global warming scam are not being repeated in many other areas.
      I’m certainly now more sympathetic to the ordinary people in Germany who just happened to go along with Nazism, because far from this kind of delusion being very atypical and only happening “somewhere else”, “some other time”, I know I was original caught up in the global warming thing and so it clearly happens right in the heart of subjects like science which I thought would be most resistant.
      And unless we get legal cases and severe penalties for those involved, I can’t see anyone learning from this debacle. It will certainly all happen again. I’m sure it is happening again. I’m much more aware of how these delusions start, but I can’t be sure I would not be taken in again – at least at first.

  8. Scott says:

    Nice article. When do you think “the faithful” will ever come around? Or will will we still be hearing Koch Bros. conspiracy theories forever? (which I suspect unfortunately, we will)…..

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      It’s almost all driven by commerce. The “faithful” are just gullible idiots who are caught up by the hugely powerful marketing machine that manufacturers these scares. So it will be when commercial companies calculate there’s more money from ditching the scam than they can make.

  9. dukesilver says:

    I agree with your analysis (especially the title) wholeheartedly. All us skeptics have ever wanted is the data. The warmists have thought all we wanted (or needed) was more of their rhetoric.
    The next question in line is – how do you get a “believer” to consider the evidence? Much tougher question.

  10. derfel cadarn says:

    Would that first not require that warmists had data to provide ? Warmists have had years to provide data, where is it? Micheal Mann please contact your office immediately.

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      When I was very naive and first looking into it, I remember following a few of these “Bla bla says”. I got to their paper and found that they in turn said “this is so because bla bla”. So you go back and look.
      None of them ever proved their assertion. None of the references actually backed up the assertion being made. And by the time you’d gone through 3 or 4 of these serial links, there was no substance at all in that paper substantiating the original claim.
      Facts – why do alarmists need facts when they can just cite another paper?

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