Money vs. Science

Everyone who has been paying attention knows that there is a strong anti-science movement in this country — driven partly by populist anti-intellectualism, but increasingly by corporate interests that just don’t like what science has to say. It’s an old problem — tobacco companies succeeded for years in sowing doubt about the health effects of smoking — but it’s become significantly worse in recent years.

Nina Fedoroff is the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which is holding its annual meeting right now. She is not holding back about the problem, but tackling it directly. From a weekend article in the Guardian (h/t Dan Gillmor):

“We are sliding back into a dark era,” she said. “And there seems little we can do about it. I am profoundly depressed at just how difficult it has become merely to get a realistic conversation started on issues such as climate change or genetically modified organisms.”

Tim F. at Balloon Juice points to this flowchart at Climate Progress that illustrates how the money and message gets sent around to sow doubt about scientific findings. (Okay, it’s not really a flow chart, but you get the point.) I was also struck by a link to an older article by Ian Sample, which put the problem in its starkest terms: the American Enterprise Institute was offering $10,000 to scientists and economists who were willing to write op-eds or essays critiquing the IPCC climate report — before it was published. Money goes a long way.

Relatedly, here’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg trying to push the Supreme Court away from its ruling in Citizens United, the notorious case that led to the creation of SuperPACs by deciding that corporations were persons, and not letting them advertise anonymously would be a grievous violation of their free-speech rights. We’ll see how well she does. Scientists, meanwhile, need to keep speaking out about the integrity of our field. When researchers are attacked and their jobs threatened by politicians who disagree with their results, it’s time to stand up for what science really means.

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82 Responses to Money vs. Science

  1. Claude says:

    Speaking more or less from the Right, I believe that many of the comments above misdiagnose a skepticism of the effectiveness of climate policy (carbon tax, renewable energy subsidies, etc.) as a manifestation of religious superstition or the result of corporate brainwashing. It’s an obvious point, but I see this occurring again and again.

  2. “…corporate interests that just don’t like what science has to say.”

    I’m sure that, while there are lots of things that corporate interests don’t like to hear, corporations are by-and-large pragmatic about adapting to reality as they see it. The implication here is that these groups are actively malicious, and that just doesn’t seem possible. After all, corporate CEOs have children and grandchildren, too, and they’re no more likely to engage in behavior that they believe jeopardizes their progeny than any other group of humans.

    So, at their core, these groups may be engaging in disinformation campaigns with lots of money behind them, but that’s only because they sincerely believe that there’s no threat, or at least that the risk from the threat is outweighed by the risk from the costs of mitigating the threat. I’m not saying that they aren’t wrong, or that they aren’t rationalizing stuff in their favor, but arguing bad faith seems equal parts wrong and unproductive. (Full disclosure: my opinion is that the mitigation risks somewhat outweigh the risks of climate change, but I hope that you’ll consider me to be sincere, as well.)

    So why has this debate gotten so vicious and unscrupulous? The answer lies in the uncertainty of success for any policy we could put in place today. The ultimate reason for that uncertainty is that, while there may be a nascent climate science, that science isn’t capable of supporting a corresponding discipline of climate engineering. The best engineering solution we’ve come up with is, “Let’s try to slow the rate of increase of CO2 emissions, and maybe average temperatures won’t go up quite so much.” That doesn’t stand up very well to a cost/benefit analysis, especially when we’ve got a pretty good idea of what lopping off half a percent or so off gross world product will do.

    Seems to me that the viciousness of the debate on any policy is inversely proportional to our ability to do something effective about it. I don’t see this as being particularly anti-science; it’s just how humans respond to uncertainty.

  3. Tom W says:

    Sean –

    You purport to talk about integrity and debate in science but link to a far-left political advocacy website (Think Progress) and then link to a more centrist liberal website discussing a 1st amendment case which since it was decided has been a rallying cry for left wing radicals? Where is the science here? Ruth Bader Ginsberg (also a liberal, I’m starting to see a theme…) makes a compelling legal argument however 5 of her colleagues on the court disagreed with her, and they also make a very compelling legal argument!

    The key word there is legal – not scientific. I appreciate your opinion and your passion but if I’m looking for political or legal commentary I’ll go elsewhere. For cosmology, I’m all yours.

    For the record, in case you haven’t been following it, there has been a very healthy debate on climate change going on for the past few weeks on the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal.

    And if you’re worried about how money is being spent in the climate change debate, check out this link:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204909104577233191850812630.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop

    Short answer – the vast majority of the money being spent is on the side of the advocates for global warming/climate change.

    A little healthy skepticism of the left wing political advocacy websites you browse might be a good thing from time to time.

  4. Count Iblis says:

    The SuperPACs are actually having a positive effect. The anti-science forces now have more than enough money to destroy each other during the Republican Primaries.

  5. Savmerrabard says:

    Re #23: Quote: ‘I think it’s fair to assume that the author means the country in which he lives when he says “this”.’
    Couldn’t agree more, but context is important for those who don’t know in which country the author lives. For the sake of clarity a simple statement such as “in this country (Albania)” would make it far easier to see where the author is literally and figuratively coming from, and then put into context the remainder of the article. Still not 100% sure whether Sean is from the USofA as there is no absolute indication in his article as to his country of origin. Given the global and 0pen availability of the information on the internet, including this specific page, I believe that it is not asking too much for clarity.

    I do enjoy the way many of the comments here use the term US; does this (surreptitiously) imply the rest are THEM? I also err: should be U.S.of A of course.

    Quote, first word from this article: “Everyone.” Everyone? Really? What an outrageous claim!

    As most of us are aware, there are more than a million feral camels running rampant in this country. http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/wildlife/animals/feral/camel.html

  6. Carl Brannen says:

    It will be entertaining to watch Sean back out of his repetitive support for CAGW as the science obviously tips the other way.

    The primary difference between the climate arguments of today and the tobacco arguments of the last century is the money involved. There were billions being made selling cigarettes; this naturally bought a lot of science. Now the side with the billions for climate research are in renewable energy and green concerns. Most of the funding is by the government, but billions are contributed to green activist groups.

    Heartland Institute’s funding was stolen and leaked; Peter Glieck admitted to using fraud in obtaining the documents and now is preparing to pay the price. Their expenditures on global warming for 2011 was $679,000. What Sean needs to explain is how, in the face of massive expenditures on global warming education, research, etc., etc., these tiny funds have apparently been able to reverse public opinion on the subject.

  7. GM says:

    Re: 24 Scandinavian countries were among the places I had in mind when I said “isolated pockets of rationality here and there”

  8. GM says:

    31. Carl Brannen Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 6:59 pm
    It will be entertaining to watch Sean back out of his repetitive support for CAGW as the science obviously tips the other way.
    The primary difference between the climate arguments of today and the tobacco arguments of the last century is the money involved. There were billions being made selling cigarettes; this naturally bought a lot of science. Now the side with the billions for climate research are in renewable energy and green concerns. Most of the funding is by the government, but billions are contributed to green activist groups.
    Heartland Institute’s funding was stolen and leaked; Peter Glieck admitted to using fraud in obtaining the documents and now is preparing to pay the price. Their expenditures on global warming for 2011 was $679,000. What Sean needs to explain is how, in the face of massive expenditures on global warming education, research, etc., etc., these tiny funds have apparently been able to reverse public opinion on the subject.

    How much money do you need to build a nice house? Probably hundreds of thousands of dollars. How much money do you need to destroy it – a small fraction of that for some dynamite.

    It is a very similar situation with climate change – you hear the canard that there are billions spent on global warming while “the other side” has a fraction of that. Well, yes, billions are spent but those billions are spent on research and research is a lot of hard work that costs a lot of money. It is much cheaper to slander people and manipulate public opinion.

    And then, let’s see if it really is that little money and resources. Heartland is only one of dozens of conservative think-tanks that promote climate change denialism, and it is hardly just the think-tanks, you have Fox News and all sorts of other conservative media brainwashing people and the majority of republican politicians denying climate change – if that’s not good public exposure, then what is? The media presence of climate change denial vs real climate science is 50-50, and it may well be in favor of denial in the US – most networks always try to have both sides (even it there aren’t two equal sides in the debate and there is no debate to begin with), but Fox News and the likes often do not even bother to invite the other, from their perspective, side.

    Finally, you have the nature of the problem which is such that people are naturally predisposed towards doing nothing about – even the action that is required by the very conservative official projections would mean hardships that most people would never voluntarily subject themselves to. And those conservative projections are precisely that – conservative; reality has consistently outpaced them which means that we’re most likely in for much worse warming and much sooner than what the IPCC 2007 report said. On top of that, the IPCC report only discusses climate change and climate change is only one of the many ways in which we are totally unsustainable – there is a laundry list of civilization-threatening sustainability issues each of which would bring it down on its own if the others didn’t exist, and they are all related to each other and are ultimately caused by the fact that there is an order of magnitude (or maybe even two) more humans on this planet than there should be consuming a lot more than they should. That’s something we can’t even talk about because as I sad, people aren’t ready to voluntarily commit themselves to the sacrifices required to tackle climate change as projected by the IPCC, sacrifices that are dwarfed by the sacrifices required to tackle our global sustainability crisis in its entirety.

    All of this means it is very easy to find listeners for the climate denial message and a little money (and it’s not really that little at all) goes a long way. Politicians are dirt cheap to buy, it’s perfectly legal to do so and you have already done it anyway for other purposes, plus they may also already share the same ideological convictions that make you deny climate change . The media you already own. All you need is to find a few scientists that are willing to sell their souls for a little cash or, as the some of the politicians, are already committed believers in your ideology so they don’t have to apply too much violence on their consciousness to do it.

  9. Fred says:

    So, if you don’t agree with it – that means it’s anti-science? What a crock.

  10. Count Nukem says:

    Sean, it is good timing for the article. Just recently Peter Gleick confessed of stealing private memos of Hertland Institute (see round up here http://climatedepot.com/a/14880/Climate-Depots-round-up-of-FakeGateGleickGate-scandal–Read-all-about-it ).

    Here we have it, reputed scientist, McArthur Genius fellowship recipient ,chairman of a committee for ethics and integrity of science at AGU lies, steals documents (and obviously fakes the strategy memo) just to advance his pet cause. Can now anyone buy this myth of yours about scientists being decent beings, impartial, objective researchers obsessed only with truth about Nature? Not anyone who uses commonsense would take this myth seriously. But, even if you know about piltdown man or climategate emails or acts of Peter Gleicks you will not stop trying perpetuating that myth, would not you?
    The question we should ask: why there should not be any “anti-science” movement “in this country” while large number of scientists “in this country” are purveyors of left liberal ideology taking their talking points form “ThinkProgress?” Say if I am a conservative average American then why would I like to send my kid to a school infested with left liberal activism? Would not I rather get my son to business school or help him to get a career in industry only because the standards of honesty and decency in industry are way better than in academia and there is no those sneaky activists peddling their ideology under disguise of science (junk science actually) and trying to drag students into left political activism?

  11. Who was it who says that reality has a liberal bias?

  12. Rob says:

    33. GM Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    How much money do you need to build a nice house? Probably hundreds of thousands of dollars. How much money do you need to destroy it – a small fraction of that for some dynamite.

    So the AGW science house is so weak that it can be destroyed by only a small amount of dynamite? Oh, I forgot, the majority of people are so stupid and so easily led that the smallest amount of information contrary to your great authority will cause them to stampede towards the cliff.

    You would think if the science was so sound and so obvious that it wouldn’t be hard to overcome the sceptics? Take gravity for example; how effective do you think a lobbyist would be in denying the existence of gravity (at lease in respect to its localised effect on earth)? Pretty difficult because the existence of gravity it’s readily demonstrated by simple repeatable experiment in the real world. Something AGW alarmists can’t do.

    If the theory of gravity was AGW, and some people suddenly started falling up instead of down, the gravity proponents wouldn’t admit their theory was wrong, no they would simply bend it to include falling up. Then if people in Canada started floating, not falling at all, well that would be accommodated by a hypothesis that it was due to the increasing gravity in China caused by the overuse of hair colour.

    …;reality has consistently outpaced them which means that we’re most likely in for much worse warming and much sooner than what the IPCC 2007 report said.

    Outpaced? Really? What planet are you living on?

    Some of things the IPCC says will get worse:

    More floods – hasn’t happened
    More hurricanes – hasn’t happened
    More tornadoes – hasn’t happened
    More droughts – hasn’t happened
    Sea acidification – hasn’t happened (and all studies show that even if it does it either helps or is neutral to sea life at all realistically possible levels of CO2)
    Sea level rise (i.e. increasing rate) – hasn’t happened

    Oh, I know it’s pedantic, but one other small thing hasn’t increased in the last 15 years – global temperature!

    Climate sceptics are not anti-science (well, apart maybe from the odd intelligent design nutter, but religion can blind people to one particular area of science like it does GM), they are anti-stupid.

    there is a laundry list of civilization-threatening sustainability issues each of which would bring it down on its own if the others didn’t exist

    Wow, you really do despise humanity don’t you? Perhaps you should set an example and disappear from the planet yourself (in a sustainable way); the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Think of the gloriousness. Or is it not you, but other 8 or 9 billion that have to go?

  13. Otis Graf says:

    The money allocated for science and research has been significantly reduced in the President’s new budget. Why? Is it because of anti-science Republicans? No! It is because the leftist socialism of the President thinks that it is more important to enroll more people in food stamps and distribute federal tax dollars to the 99% than it is to do more and better science.

    NASA’s planetary research budget is slashed. It’s schedules for manned space flight are continually being pushed back. Funding of university research is on the decline. And on and on. This is all happening when liberal Democrats control the Presidency.

    I think the hysteria of Nina Fedoroff is completely displaced. The President’s budget tells the tale of just who is ambivalent to science.

  14. GM says:

    Why do we have to go through the same canard again and again? It gets really tiresome

    So the AGW science house is so weak that it can be destroyed by only a small amount of dynamite? Oh, I forgot, the majority of people are so stupid and so easily led that the smallest amount of information contrary to your great authority will cause them to stampede towards the cliff.

    The majority of people are indeed stupid and illiterate. It is an unfortunate fact of our existence – being scientifically literate generally does not improve one’s inclusive fitness in our society so there is very little incentive for people to invest the required time and effort into educating themselves. End result is that we have an idiocracy.

    On top of that there is the destructive influence of religion. The majority of people also rejects the theory of evolution. I guess you would also take their side. Curiously, I have yet to see a creationist who is not also a global warming denialist. I wonder why…

    You would think if the science was so sound and so obvious that it wouldn’t be hard to overcome the sceptics? Take gravity for example; how effective do you think a lobbyist would be in denying the existence of gravity (at lease in respect to its localised effect on earth)? Pretty difficult because the existence of gravity it’s readily demonstrated by simple repeatable experiment in the real world. Something AGW alarmists can’t do.

    See above, I explained it in my previous post. The implications of global warming are such that the idea of doing what has to be done goes against both core identity-forming concepts that people really cherish and the deeply ingrained animal instincts that drive their behavior. The logical consequence is that they go in denial mode, and BTW, the ones that tell you that we will just switch to renewables and BAU will carry on are in just as much denial as those who reject the notion that global warming is a problem.

    …;reality has consistently outpaced them which means that we’re most likely in for much worse warming and much sooner than what the IPCC 2007 report said.
    Outpaced? Really? What planet are you living on?
    Some of things the IPCC says will get worse:
    More floods – hasn’t happened
    More hurricanes – hasn’t happened
    More tornadoes – hasn’t happened
    More droughts – hasn’t happened
    Sea acidification – hasn’t happened (and all studies show that even if it does it either helps or is neutral to sea life at all realistically possible levels of CO2)
    Sea level rise (i.e. increasing rate) – hasn’t happened

    Have you actually looked at what the IPCC says? Judging from your list, it would seem that your main sources of information are the denialist websites.

    Oh, I know it’s pedantic, but one other small thing hasn’t increased in the last 15 years – global temperature!

    The last decade has been the warmest on record. I am amazed that people still think that blatant cherry-picking like this reveals anything else but their own intellectual bankruptcy.

    there is a laundry list of civilization-threatening sustainability issues each of which would bring it down on its own if the others didn’t exist
    Wow, you really do despise humanity don’t you? Perhaps you should set an example and disappear from the planet yourself (in a sustainable way); the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Think of the gloriousness. Or is it not you, but other 8 or 9 billion that have to go?

    So you deny that we have no problems with Peak Oil, exhaustion of other easily extractable fossil fuels, uranium-235, a long list of concentrated mineral ores, fossil aquifer depletion (and fresh water reserves in general), soil degradation, and general ecosystem collapse due to habitat destruction, pollution, hunting and overfishing?

    If one denies that any of the above is a serious problem, he is in dire need of having his head examined…

  15. Rob says:

    The majority of people are indeed stupid and illiterate.

    You seem to have a lot in common with other great leaders who felt the need to offer a guiding hand to the helpless masses. People like Hitler and Stalin. It must be lonely being one of the few who sees things in the true light of knowledge.

    The majority of people also rejects the theory of evolution. I guess you would also take their side.

    I see you didn’t waste your considerable intelligence studying grammar.

    Do I take their side in rejecting the theory of evolution? No. Evolution is real science with a testable hypothesis, real world supporting evidence and we have yet to find any credible evidence disproving it. Obviously I would change my view if genuine evidence to the contrary was found.

    Have you actually looked at what the IPCC says?

    Yes, I have and it’s mostly B.S.

    The last decade has been the warmest on record. I am amazed that people still think that blatant cherry-picking like this reveals anything else but their own intellectual bankruptcy.

    It’s not cherry picking to pull you up on the primary tennant of your religion – that it’s getting hotter and we’re going to fry. Sounds like armageddon to me; are you sure you’re not religeous? Raised a catholic maybe?

    The temperature reached a temporary high point and is now slowly but reasonably steadily decreasing. Thus, of course recent years are amongst the warmest on (a very short) record, it doesn’t mean it’s getting warmer, which is kind of the point. If you climb Mt Everest and then start to go back down, after five steps you are still at one of the ten highest altitudes you have ever been on foot, does this mean you are still going up?

    So you deny that we have no problems with Peak Oil, exhaustion of other easily extractable fossil fuels, uranium-235, a long list of concentrated mineral ores, fossil aquifer depletion (and fresh water reserves in general), soil degradation, and general ecosystem collapse due to habitat destruction, pollution, hunting and overfishing?

    Well that’s a long list to “deny”. Peak oil has been imminent for as long as I can remember (about 35 years); still waiting for that one. The developed world has never been cleaner and the way to clean up the rest of the world is to encourage them to develop as well (development cuts down the birth rate as well – you’d be happy about that one wouldn’t you?).

    We’re certainly going to run out of rare earth minerals pretty quickly if we keep using them to make things like useless wind turbines and electric batteries for cars (which often charge up from fossil fuelled power stations – priceless).

    Actually, I agree with you on overfishing in many places.

  16. Count Nukem says:

    RE: Who was it who says that reality has a liberal bias?

    Perhaps it was Paul Krugman came up with the phrase, but he was not the first who had the idea. The first was Karl Marx who believed that his political/dialectical views were reflection of reality. In Soviet Union Marxism was considered as science (nauka to be precise) and thus the policies of the state were considered to be based on solid scientific background (and if you disagree, then you must go to psychiatric clinics or jail.) Liberal ideology will achieve the same status in US academia as soon as the proportion of liberals among faculty in academia reaches 100%. It is now roughly 90 to 95% in average, so we are close.

    Academics due to their arrogance often believe that their political views are just as rigorous as the knowledge in their field. But why then they almost never make good elected representatives or stock speculators? And why academics tend to be helpless in real life situations. Look at that genius award recipient Peter Gleick: he was not even able to fake Heartland Institute Strategy memo without using language used exclusively within the greendom. It is only in green’s fantasies skeptics may call themselves “anti-climate” or want “dissuade science teachers from teaching science.” What a shame for McArthur foundation who gave genius award to such a lunatic.

  17. Carl Brannen says:

    Re 33 GM: “All of this means it is very easy to find listeners for the climate denial message and a little money (and it’s not really that little at all) goes a long way. Politicians are dirt cheap to buy, it’s perfectly legal to do so and you have already done it anyway for other purposes, plus they may also already share the same ideological convictions that make you deny climate change . The media you already own. All you need is to find a few scientists that are willing to sell their souls for a little cash or, as the some of the politicians, are already committed believers in your ideology so they don’t have to apply too much violence on their consciousness to do it.”

    Just a few years ago, even Republicans were supporting global warming. It was very convincing. I was convinced. What happened is not some change in politics, it’s that the evidence collapsed. “Global warming” got replaced by “Climate Change” for a reason; the evidence for warming subsided. Anyone who reads history knows that climate has been changing for as long as history has been written. Youth is easily convinced by this sort of thing because they haven’t watched the story morph.

    The media is run by the left; this has been repeatedly demonstrated by simply asking them what political party they’re a member of. The vast majority of the media can be relied upon to give lap-dog reports in favor of global warming. What’s changing now is that a few journalists smell the blood in the water. For them it’s better to get in on the kill than to continue to support a losing proposition.

    Supporting an argument, when the facts do not, is difficult. That’s why people rely on weak analogies such as comparing global warming to a “house” and the other side as “dynamite”, LOL. I’m reminded of people who try to understand Einstein’s field equations by comparing gravity to a rubber sheet. Why not compare global warming to a “tank”, and the other side to an “ice cream cone”, LOL? Instead of arguing by analogy, argue by the thing itself. And the thing itself is that global warming has at least 100 x as much money as the opposite side. It was not a fair fight at all but the skeptics won.

  18. Carl Brannen says:

    OM writes: “So you deny that we have no problems with Peak Oil, exhaustion of other easily extractable fossil fuels, uranium-235, a long list of concentrated mineral ores, fossil aquifer depletion (and fresh water reserves in general), soil degradation, and general ecosystem collapse due to habitat destruction, pollution, hunting and overfishing?

    If one denies that any of the above is a serious problem, he is in dire need of having his head examined.”

    I do not deny that these are problems. What I deny is that you in particular, or the academic left in general, has any solution to these problems.

    Academia has been in existence for hundreds of years and has never solved any such problem up to now, why should now be any different? Eventually private enterprise will solve these problems just like private enterprise dug the Spindletop oil gusher in Texas and solved the peak whale-oil problem. But the only way private enterprise can solve these problems is with sufficient economic motivation and what the left would prefer to do is to tax away the solutions because they think the profits are “windfalls” rather than “motivations” to produce more oil (or its replacement).

  19. Thomas Larsson says:

    “Peak oil has been imminent for as long as I can remember (about 35 years); still waiting for that one. ”

    Crude oil production in US48 peaked in1970, in the North Sea in 1999, and worldwide around 2006. Only the production of “all liquids”, including stuff like ethanol, has grown (very modestly) since then. The price of crude oil has gone up from 20$/barrel in 1999 to some 120$ today. Waiting for it to increase further?

    OTOH, peak oil, and in the not-to-distant-future peak coal and peak gas, turn CO2 emissions into a pseudo-problem. As is known, it takes carbon atoms to make CO2.

  20. William Nelson says:

    The money and effort which has gone into opposing the climate change “science” is dwarfed by that which has been spent to promote it. I seem to recall a widely distributed, full-length film promoting this “science”, as well as a nobel peace prize awarded to its author, a person whose scientific credentials are less than stellar. I seem to recall dozens upon dozens of articles in nearly every conceivable popular magazine, and even semi-popular ones like SciAm, promoting this viewpoint.

    Plenty of people with plenty of power, influence, and money, have energetically promoted this “scientific consensus”, and yet it is unraveling. Why? Because it was at best premature, and more likely wrong. If the extra carbon causes significant warming, then it should now be significantly warmer, but it isn’t. If the extra “warming” causes rising sea levels then the sea level should now be higher, but it isn’t. People are rejecting this “science” because its predictions are based on means that they can’t understand (computer simulations) and rightfully don’t trust, and the predictions do not accord with what they can see with their own eyes. Moreover, the predictions fit a classic and many-times-refuted pattern of environmentalist disaster forecasts, in which something is always “about to happen”, but never does.

    The original post was about popular rejection of science, and it is certainly the case that people don’t know much about science. However, if one wanted to design a campaign to cause maximum damage to popular views of science, and indeed maximum confusion among the public as to what science is and does, one could not have done better than the global warming campaign.

  21. Charon says:

    @Savmerrabard

    Seriously. I understand people from other countries get annoyed by Americans who think theirs is the only country in the world, but… seriously. Get a grip.

    American: this is a noun and adjective referring to someone from the United States of America. Get a dictionary. You can make a logical argument that it should apply to anyone from the Americas (North and South), but in actual English (American English and otherwise), it almost always means someone from the US. There is no other accepted term for this (United Statesian?).

    US: this means United States. It is by far the most common acronym for the United States of America when you are in the US. I know some other countries (e.g., Sweden) use “USA” instead of “US”. Others don’t (in French it’s common to say “les Etats-Unis”, and drop the Amerique just like in English). In the US, we call it the US, or would you like to overrule what a country wants to call itself?

    Where this blog is from: if you’re so confused by this, you could read the handy “about the authors” section in the top right. Every author of this blog is in the US. The majority of the readership is in the US (the majority of native English speakers in the world are in the US, so that’s not a surprise). Sean doesn’t repeat this fact in every post. That would be really annoying.

    And if you think someone from Canada would call themselves an “American”, I recommend that you actually talk to someone from Canada. Could clear up a few misconceptions.

  22. Pro_Science says:

    Hello everybody,
    I have been working as a junior anti-science , anti-climate and anti-environment consultant for Koch brothers Industries. My job description included demonizing evolution and global warming and personally damaging good climate scientist’s reputation. For that I was paid handsomely, $51K a year.
    Few days ago I decided to change my allegiance and become pro-science. Why did I change my mind? I realized that I am not really evil and do not have to do all those anti-science work which I was doing, but I will tell you later about the reason why I changed sides. First, let me tell you about the good and the bad. Science is always good and people who oppose science do it only because they want to be bad: they had a horrible childhood and they think that they are evil and they have to do something evil. For example, I thought that I am an evil person by my nature and that is why I wanted to have job with Koch Industries. What make me to change my mind? It is simple, I had to bring my 10-years old nice to Planned Parenthood lessons about sex and it was based on book “It is perfectly normal” http://www.amazon.com/Its-Perfectly-Normal-Changing-Growing/dp/0763644846/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330041568&sr=8-1
    And I was there and listening to the counselors and when I heard that masturbation is perfectly normal I realized that I may be just a normal person, not evil one. I did it since I was 6 years old and I thought that I am a pervert and an evil one. I was convinced that I am very evil person and that I have to do something evil in my life and that is why I wanted to be anti-science. Because, science is good and I wanted to do something evil. What can be easier way to do something evil than destroying something good. Thanks to the school counselor and Planed Parenthood now I realize that I am a perfectly normal person and that is why I do not want to do any evil things anymore and I decided to become pro-science.
    You know all about the global warming and you know all that it is real and the only reason why some people do not believe in it is because people like me where paid a lot of money to seed doubt in minds of people and convince them that global warming is not real. I do understand that there is global warming, but I care only about money and that is why I tell everyone that there is no global warming. Dr. Ivar Giaever who resigned as a Fellow from the American Physical Society (APS) on September 13, just to show his disgust over endorsement of global warming is not to different from me. Dr. Ivar Giaever may be is a Nobel prize winner for physics in 1973, but he is no scientist, he is anti-science because he does not believe in global warming. He did it because he wanted to do something evil, believe me, I know what I am talking about. Eventually he will change his mind and become pro-science.

    As I decided to become pro-science I realized that our society is very evil, because our policies ignore science. For example, Dr. Alfred Kinsley demonstrated a long time ago that children as young as two years or so can have sexual orgasms. And yet, in spite of his incontrovertible proof that children have sexuality, pedophilia is still considered to be a crime. It is highly un-scientific and anti-science. If science shows that it is OK for children to have sex, who we are to say otherwise. But the evil Koch brothers pay infinite sums of money to make sure that pedophiles are kept behind the bars. It is very unscientific and evil, I should say.

    Another scientific discoveries we ignore are related to the population bomb. Paul R. Ehrlich clearly demonstrated that we are doomed as population will grow and we will have not enough resources as planet’s resources are limited. He may be got the timing wrong , but his theory incontrovertible. What we are doing about that as society? If we are to be society ruled by reason and science then every man should get vasectomy or become a homosexual. Homosexuality is very natural and if you want to be pro-science you should think seriously about becoming a homosexual, just that you do not make children and help to save the planet. That is what school counselor told to the daughter of my brother. And she is 10 years old. I wish I got sex education when I was 6 years old. That would help me to understand that I am perfectly normal, not an evil one. I wanted to do evil and anti-science because I thought that it is what people who masturbate should do. Now, thanks to that sex education lesson I understand everything and I decided to become pro-science, so that I can help to save the planet from humans and make sure that everyone is happy, even those who are called pedophiles. I am quitting my job with Koch brothers and will try to join Obama’s campaign just to help him to make Catholic priests to provide contraceptive to their employees. Catholics will never understand that we should be sustainable and pro-science, that is why we have to force them to do what is right for the planet.

  23. Daniel Rosa says:

    I distinctly recall that very few “deniers”, not to say none at all, made a comment about the legality or even the ethics of hacking emails when the whole climategate fake conspiracy thing happened. And now, lo and behold, here they were, bitching about the legality and the morality of Peter Gleick’s actions!

    I can’t think of a better and clearer demonstration of the bad faith of the denier camp.

  24. GM says:

    Not just that – there is a consistent tendency among deniers to very quickly resort to intimidation with legal action. From the campaign against Micheal Mann down to how they treat people in the comment sections of their blogs – there was a time when I commented at WUWT in an attempt to understand what drives their thinking and after I said that global warming denial is equivalent to a crime against humanity of a magnitude that not even Hitler or Stalin have reached (which is 100% true – billions will die because of this, the whole human civilization will collapse and the human species itself may even go extinct; if that’ not the biggest crime against humanity in history, then what is…), Anthony Watts tried very hard to track down who I actually was, apparently hoping I was someone that that comment could be used against.

    You simply don’t see that kind of behavior from climate scientists – when ClimateGate happened, people mostly tried to get on with their research and not pay much attention (it wasn’t possible ultimately) and I am not aware of a single climate scientist suing a “skeptic” for libel even though there is plenty of opportunity to do so given how often outright blatant defamation like “the evil kabal of climate scientists” is used.

  25. Count Nukem says:

    RE# 48, Daniel
    First, Climategate emails were covered under FOIA and were withheld illegally and it is not the same with internal documents of a private institute. Secondly, it was not clear if it was an insider or hacker who released them. It may be even Putin’s FSB who did it. There was no big “denier” behind hacking CRU and that is why we “deniers” never had to answer the same questions alarmists have to answer now. If it occurred that climategate emails were stolen by a *scientits* of Fred Singer caliber, not a small hacktivist then for sure we would get into the same mess where all you are now and many of us would probably switched sides.

    Take back your accusation “of bad faith” back or find a better justification for your accusations.

    RE:#48

    GM, why do you forget that before Cincenelly came after M. Mann, M. Mann wanted to sue Menisootans for Global Warming for a song? I do not believe that Watts would have any legal ground to sue you for what you say. On the other hand, if you are one of the Team, say if you are M. Mann or G. Schmidt or J. Hansen then merely revealing your identity in connection to what you stated could be devastating to the Team and here is why: You seems do not see flaws in your logic, but average american used to filter TV adds will have enough common sense to see your blind faith in your predictions of the future as a big problem and will doubt your rationality and by extension the rationality of the Team. Using questionable and (by now mostly discredited) prediction of the future as ground for ethical judgement or even Nuremberg tribunal is enormous lapse of logical and ethical sense.

    We know that the Team think as you do and we want them to say it publicly and let them deal with ADL and other Jewish organizations. The time they say it in such colorful way as you put it, they become laughing stock. Normal average people whom you so deeply despise have better capability for ethical judgement than an average dweller of Ivory Towers. So, that is why Watts would love to associate your real identity with the assertion you reproduced @ #49 and put your mental attitude under scrutiny of the public. But thatmay be meaningful only if you are someone well known. Hope my explanation makes sense?