Tag Archives: Skeptical Science

Your Cranky Uncle vs Climate Change

It is said that scientists are lousy at communication, lousy at telling everyone else about their science, in understandable and compelling terms.

This is of course absurd. There are tens of millions of scientists, and dozens of them are really excellent communicators!

This IS the book you are looking for.
Among the many sciences, there is a science of science communication. It overlaps, unironically, with the science of conspiracy ideation, and borrows a great deal from the broader communication fields.

One of the leading science communicators of the day is cognitive scientist John Cook. John is at George Mason University. He is so tightly linked to the founding and development of the Skeptical Science project that “Skeptical Science” is the name of his Wikipedia entry. This binds John and his mission to a lot of us. Where we once might have said, “I am Spartacus,” we now say, “I am Skeptical. Science!” For John, it is just “I am SkepticalScience.”

Cook is likely known to you for the Consensus project. There were two main projects, a few years back, in which scientist attempted to measure the degree of consensus over the idea that anthropocentric climate change is real. (It is real, and the consensus is near 100% in both peer reviewed literature and the conclusions of actual scientists.) John and his colleagues did one of those, and beyond that, widely promoted the results so that everyone knows about it.

Guy from 1917 (left) and cognitive scientist John Cook (right). Whatever made me think about that sticking the head up out of the trench analogy?
Like I said above, there are tens of millions of scientists. Developing and disseminating the results of consensus research in climate scientist was equivalent to being the only guy sticking your head up out of the trench in that movie, 1917. Science deniers, both avocational and bought-and-paid-for, got all over cook like skin on a grape. Didn’t phase him, though. He continued to develop a series of new projects including a massive online course (Making Sense of Climate Science Denial), an artificial intelligence system for detecting fake science, and most recently, the Cranky Uncle project.

Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change: How to Understand and Respond to Climate Science Deniers” is a crowdsourced book (and an app). There will be a book launch on March 4th in Arlington. This book gives us the whole ball of wax that is the science of climate science denial in a very funny, really well produced, and compelling wrapping. It will amuse you, and it will advise you. Your cranky uncle is done for.

I don’t have a cranky uncle anymore (he died). But I do have a lot of neighbors who like to write in ALL CAPS. They show up when I give a talk on climate change, and they bring their conspiracy theories, logical fallacies, cherry picked “facts”, absurd expectations, and references to fake research done by fake experts. It is a lot to deal with. But now, I can use the Lewis Black technique for dealing with evolution deniers, but instead of pulling out a trilobite, holding it up and saying “Fossil!” I can pull out a copy of Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change and say “Oh yeah? Imma look up what you just said in this BOOK!” or words to that effect.

Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change: How to Understand and Respond to Climate Science Deniers is the book now. Pre-order it!

For completeness, here is Lewis Black demonstrating the fossil technique:

Navigating Climate Science Denialism: Resources for you

I have four things for you, two of which you already know about and one that is brand new and very exciting.

You already know that Skeptical Science is a web site that addresses most, perhaps all, of the questions that people raise about climate science. These questions might come from your Uncle Jeb who just figures global warming is a fad and not very important, or they may be questions that come from trained trolls who travel the Intertubes attempting to systematically disrupt the most important conversation we can have in the early 21st century. Skeptical science is also like an intro textbook of climate science, you can learn pretty much everything at a basic or intermediate level without having to know too much math. THE SITE IS HERE and there are also apps you can get for your smart phone so you can science circles around Uncle Jeb.

Very quickly, the second thing: My own “Climate Science Search Engine” which is a customized Google search that scans only sites that are not denialist. It is in the right side bar of this blog.

Third, check out the Debunking Handbook.

Fourth, and this is new, is Media Matters’ Mythopedia!

Mythopedia allows you to search for the truth about a variety of right-wing lies and misinformation. It should work on your desktop or mobile device as a web site. At the start, the database underlying Mythopedia has a few hundred of the most common myths about subjects including climate change. Media Matter expects to expand the data base on a regular basis. Think of it as a highly specialized Snopes Snooper.

Mythopedia is HERE.

Here’s a video: