The Crisis Beyond Fake News: Welcome to the Post-Truth Era

If you guessed this story is about climate change, you are correct. Photo by Alan Wilson, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

As a journalist, I have a saying that I keep close in mind whenever I’m writing for publication. “The text must be unassailable!” I mutter to myself as I pace about the room. It’s applied to both style and substance on any given piece. The story has to be interesting to read and honest in its arguments. If the text is not unassailable, it gets taken out.

This self-editing mantra has served me well over the past several years, but it’s getting harder to live up to for two reasons. First, thanks to the internet, writers and readers now have the ability to interact on a one-to-one level, so my purportedly unassailable text gets attacked anyway, even when the facts I’ve presented are correct.

Second, the proliferation of misinformation—fake news, fake science, fake history—across all mass media platforms is making it increasingly harder to persuade readers who feed off such material and continue to insist, for example, that anthropogenic global warming is a hoax.

I hear the sparrows sharpening their beaks already.

Unfortunately, the situation may be much more grim than I’ve portrayed so far. Since the early 1990s, an increasing number of scholars, scientists, historians, philosophers and political pundits have warned that we’re entering a Post-Truth age.

Now, it appears we may have finally arrived.

Consider the ominously titled article published last month in the Royal Society Open Science academic journal, “Fake Science and the Knowledge Crisis: Ignorance Can Be Fatal.”

“Computers, the Internet and social media enable every individual to be a publisher, communicating true or false information instantly and globally,” the report’s abstract begins. “In the ‘post-truth’ era, deception is commonplace at all levels of contemporary life.”

Willing purveyors of fake information aren’t the only culprits. The article harshly criticizes the entire “publish or perish” scientific peer review system, which has endured numerous scandals across all fields with the advent of sophisticated data manipulation techniques developed during the past two decades.

As a result, the writers found that “Fakery affects science and social information and the two have become highly interactive globally, undermining trust in science and the capacity of individuals and society to make evidence-informed choices, including on life-or-death issues.”

Those life-or-death issues include the ongoing controversy regarding vaccines and autism fueled by social media posts and the continued denial of anthropogenic global warming by high-ranking public officials including President Donald Trump, despite the fact that 97 percent of climate scientists studying the topic agree AGW is occurring and presents a serious threat to the planet.

The writers contend that nothing less is at stake than the trust the civilized world has placed in scientific reason since the Enlightenment. When every fact is refuted by an opposite yet supposedly equal “alternative fact,” nothing is true and “anything goes.”

Anarchy is a defining feature of the Post-Truth era.

Humility Verses Anarchy

This anarchic mass communications environment is making it increasingly difficult for the average person to determine truth from falsehood. University of Connecticut philosopher Michael P. Lynch believes we may be entering an era that could shatter our belief in a common objective reality.

Lynch specializes in epistemology, the study of knowledge and how we acquire it. As he notes in this excellent TED Talk from 2017, “How To See Past Your Own Perspective And Find Truth,” the advent of the internet has been both a blessing and a curse for humankind.

“It’s as if we know more, but understand less,” says Lynch. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can now fact-check a source, a form of what Lynch calls “Google-knowing.” Yet we humans are an opinionated species and tend to select information that confirms our own biases, regardless of its perceived veracity.

In recent popular usage, the term “fake news” originally referred to purposely falsified stories circulated on the internet via social media. Satire such as that produced by the Onion is not fake news; stories that deliberately misinform audiences to serve an agenda are fake news.

But that definition has gone by the wayside. Lynch says “fake news,” as far as many members of the general public are concerned, now means any “news story I don’t like.”

In Lynch’s view, Google-knowing can progress to “bubble-knowing,” where individuals remain ensconced in their own social media echo chambers with other like-minded people. This results in “knowledge polarization,” where every tribe has its own set of facts. Whether the facts are true or not is beside the point.

“You are always right,” says Lynch. Disagreeing with Protagoras’s famous maxim, “man is the measure of all things,” Lynch wonders if we’re sliding downhill toward despotism, where “The Man is the measure of all things,” not previously agreed upon scientific principles.

The philosopher proposes an antidote to knowledge polarization: All of us need to approach the information we encounter with a greater sense of humility. We must understand what we know and what we don’t know and not reject information out-of-hand because it doesn’t confirm our biases.

“We need to believe in truth,” Lynch says. “If not, object reality doesn’t exist.”

Polar bears investigate submarine USS Honolulu inside the Arctic Circle. Photo by Chief Yeoman Alphonso Braggs, courtesy of U.S. Navy.

Climate Change Verses Fake Science

Humility of course is much easier to preach than to put into practice. Each of us is ensconced in our own private filter bubble. Moving beyond the bubble requires time and effort. The current public “debate” about AGW perfectly illustrates the dynamics of this dilemma.

“Debate” is in quotes because there really isn’t a debate about AGW among the thousands of scientists who study the topic. We’ve known that burning fossil fuels produces greenhouse gases that can lead to warming of the atmosphere since the 19th century. The volumes of research produced since then have confirmed AGW is real and a threat to the planet.

So I almost ran off the road driving home from work last week when right-wing radio talk show host Glenn Beck informed his 3 million nationwide listeners that “climate change is a hoax.”

Beck was introducing his next guest, Vancouver, B.C., zoologist Susan Crockford. She runs Polar Bear Science, a popular climate change denial blog focused on her claim that polar bears are not threatened by AGW.

While Crockford calls herself a polar bear expert, she’s never published a peer-reviewed study on polar bears and climate change in an academic journal. Actual peer-reviewed polar bear scientists have claimed she has zero credibility on the issue.

Crockford was appearing on Beck to promote the latest case of what she calls “animal tragedy porn,” a scene in the second episode of Netflix’s recently released “Our Planet” series in which numerous walruses plunge off the edge of a Siberian cliff to their deaths.

Series creator and narrator David Attenborough, the famed natural historian and broadcaster, attributed the gruesome deaths to AGW and the loss of available sea ice in the walruses’ native habitat.

On Beck’s program, Crockford said all of that was, well, a crock. Scientists have long observed large walrus “haul-outs” on land which can lead to stampedes that kill hundreds of animals, which is true. It’s normal walrus behavior, not a response to AGW, she insisted, which is debatable.

According to her, scientists and mainstream media outlets are using images of starving polar bears and suicidal walruses—animal tragedy porn—to scare the public into accepting their “agenda,” that is, that we must act now to limit greenhouse gas emissions or risk losing the planet.

That this so-called agenda happens to be the truth is of no concern to Crockford.

If you’re a supporter of the AGW scientific consensus, as I am, you might presume Crockford is just another climate change denying crackpot. But she’s been making the media rounds with her latest animal atrocity claim, which has been circulated widely on the internet via dozens of climate change denier websites. As she repeatedly says on her blog, people in power are taking her seriously.

The producers of “Our Planet” were ultimately forced to publicly defend the episode, noting that they had consulted with a “Russian biologist who has experience working on that particular coastline for 35 years and that the scene serves as a warning: walruses are being forced to gather on land due to less ice being available.”

Presuming that’s true, I’m inclined to believe the observations of the Russian biologist who’s spent 35 years studying walruses on that stretch of Siberian coastline over Crockford, just as I’m inclined to believe the peer-reviewed scientists who study polar bears and climate change in the field over her opinion.

As a non-expert in the field of polar bear science, I have to rely on the best evidence available, and the gold standard remains peer-reviewed literature and the scientists who produce it.

All of Crockford’s writing on the topic has been non-peer reviewed and published by organizations such as the Heartland Institute and the Global Warming Policy Foundation, well known anti-AGW think tanks, or in her books or on her blog.

Before the advent of the Post-Truth era, determining validity between claims was simply a matter of deferring to the gold standard, peer-reviewed scientific literature. Clearly, Crockford’s non-peer reviewed research doesn’t meet that standard.

But as mentioned above, one of the Post-Truth era’s first causalities has been scientific literature’s peer-review process, which has been called into serious question during the past two decades.

Indeed, that’s one of Crockford’s frequent refrains on her blog. You can’t trust anyone these days, especially peer-reviewed scientists (with whom she disagrees). Applied to the institution of science as a whole, it’s not a completely baseless claim. The academic article in Royal Society Open Science offered this damning description of the current state of peer review:

“The scale of the fake science problem is becoming increasingly evident. The percentage of scientific articles retracted because of fraud has increased by an order of magnitude since 2000 and high rates of retraction are seen for the most prestigious journals, illustrating both the extent to which flawed claims are perpetrated by scientists seeking prominence and weaknesses and even fakery in the current practice of peer reviewing.”

To be sure, the Royal Society authors aren’t by any means suggesting that the vast bulk of the science underlying anthropogenic global warming and other fields of study is compromised. They are saying that science may lose the trust of the public if it doesn’t clean up its own publishing houses, and quickly.

The value of that public trust is incalculable. If I summon up some of Lynch’s prescribed humility and put myself in the head of the average Glenn Beck listener, it’s not hard to understand why that listener, after reading this story, might still feel justified agreeing with the host that AGW is a hoax.

The problem with that is it isn’t true. It’s fake science.

BioScience graphs demonstrate profound knowledge polarization between pro-AGW and anti-AGW websites.

Managing the Consensus Gap

According to polling, just 16 percent of Americans know the consensus on AGW among peer-reviewed scientists in the field is above 90 percent. Scientists and other academics call this the consensus gap. Similar gaps in knowledge exist across all intellectual fields, including history, according to public historian Jason Steinhauer, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

“History—the analytical interpretation of the past based on critical assessments of evidence—is being transformed by our communications revolution,” Steinhauer said in a 2017 presentation titled “Of Fake News and Fake History.”

“In a world where we receive the majority of our information from visual media such as the web, television, and mobile phones … what passes for history is too often bits of information about the past circulated on the web, stripped of context, devoid of analysis, and intended to advance a political, ideological, financial, or personal agenda.”

To combat this fake information, Steinhauer suggests a multi-pronged approach that includes historians and other scholars proactively engaging the public with new communication technologies.

“Historians must adapt to the seismic shifts in communication and the new ways that people communicate via TV, the web, and mobile devices,” he says.

As Steinhauer points out, some scholars are already proactively engaging new communication media to present their research to the wider public. One poignant example of this includes several of the peer-reviewed polar bear scientists—Jeffrey A. Harvey from the Netherlands and Ian Sterling from Alberta, Canada—whose work has been criticized by Susan Crawford.

The pair collaborated with a dozen other natural and social scientists on the peer-reviewed study,  “Internet Blogs, Polar Bears and Climate-Change Denial By Proxy,” published online in 2017 on BioScience, the website of the American Institute on Biological Sciences.

Using frame analysis, they surveyed 90 websites, 45 identified as pro-AGW and 45 identified as anti-AGW, including Watt’s Up With That, Climate Depot and Junk Science, which collectively boast millions of page-views per month.

The study concluded that all of the pro-AGW websites relied on established, peer-reviewed science to make their arguments, while none of the anti-AGW websites cited the relevant scientific literature. In the case of polar bears, 80 percent of the anti-AGW websites referenced Crockford’s non-peer reviewed work on the subject as their only source.

The study notes that due to their vulnerable status, polar bears have become a poignant public symbol of AGW onset—and postulates that’s why climate change deniers are attacking the existing research on the iconic bears:

“These topics are used as ‘proxies’ for AGW in general; in other words, they represent keystone dominoes that are strategically placed in front of many hundreds of others, each representing a separate line of evidence for AGW,” the study found. “By appearing to knock over the keystone domino, audiences targeted by the communication may assume all other dominoes are toppled in a form of ‘dismissal by association.’”

As the study documents, “a growing labyrinthine network of corporations, conservative foundations, think tanks, and the mainstream media,” are either directly funding this anti-scientific propaganda or willfully disseminating it as evidence that the science of AGW is unsettled.

The science is settled, but these corporations and their interests stand to lose if we shift from fossils fuels to cleaner alternative energy sources, which scientists say is necessary to reduce greenhouse emissions and avoid a worldwide environmental catastrophe. So they’ve manufactured another reality, where the AGW science isn’t settled.

It’s a devastating study. It’s also somewhat unusual, in that it singles out the work of Crawford, who’d previously criticized two of the scientists on the study, for specific rebuke. She characterized the report as “academic rape” and demanded its retraction from BioScience. Welcome to the peer review process, one of the polar bear scientists quipped.

Although the publication made minor edits to statements regarding Crockford’s work for climate change denying think tanks, the article remains online.

That’s not to say Crawford lost the argument, at least in the minds of AGW deniers. She was and still is vigorously defended by the anti-AGW blogosphere. Last week she was the scientist making mainstream media headlines across the globe after accusing Netflix of producing animal tragedy porn. She’s still knocking down those dominoes, doing her part to maintain the public’s AGW consensus gap.

Welcome to the Post-Truth era, where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to detect fact from fiction. As a journalist dedicated to making the text unassailable, I can assure that navigating this anarchic, polarized environment is no easy task.

I believe Lynch and the other academics quoted here are correct. We may not yet be in a Post-Truth era. We all seem to agree that objective reality of some sort exists. But we are at a crisis point in the information age that requires collective action on behalf of scientists, journalists and ordinary citizens.

Science as an institution needs to clean up the peer review process. More academic scholars need to step up and assume the vanished role of public intellectual. Journalists must ensure their work serves scientific truth, not corporate agendas. Consumers of information need to move beyond bubble-thinking and confirmation bias.

None of this is going to be easy. It’s not going to happen overnight. But not acting means truth as we’ve known it may cease to exist, subsequently followed by the human race.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at RVScheide@anewscafe.com.
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68 Responses

  1. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    RV, it was 112 in Phoenix yesterday and will hit three digit temps for the next two weeks at least. Rather than debate the “sparrows” as they post jousting stats. I, and many others, will be aiding the 4,188 unsheltered homeless in Phoenix with food and water.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      It was 95 in SF! Very unusual. Thanks for helping the homeless!

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        ..and in the past winter there was record cold temperatures in the East. What’s your point? There have never been hot days in SF before climate change hysteria? I inherited a diary from my descendants. They were farmers in Colusa County in the 1800’s. They diligently recorded temperatures and weather everyday. There is no real difference with temps between then and now in this region. Remember…data from NASA and NOAA shows that the temperature rise over the last 100 years has been a mere 1.5 degrees.

  2. Avatar Tim says:

    Peer review becomes an ideological echo chamber when it comes to politically correct subjects. Remember the faux academic study examining rape culture at dog parks? The only complaint its peer reviewers expressed was that the academics had violated dogs’ privacy…

    Take your “97% of climate scientists” claim. That stat came from a study of “active” climate research published in “selected” peer review journals. On the surface this seems like a compelling argument, but it reeks of confirmation bias. Would you be as persuaded by 97% of phrenologists agreeing that bumps on your skull can predict behavioral traits?

    The telling part of that study is that when you include all scientists, the consensus drops to 70-90% depending on how you frame the question. The more a scientist publishes in climate science journals, the closer to 100% the consensus – but how much of that is expertise vs indoctrination vs selective publication?

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      You left out who and what gets funded.

      Scientific research isn’t infallible, and the peer review process isn’t perfect. So do we throw all scientific consensus into the dungeon of do-nothing skepticism and paralysis? Is that how the sciences have progressed over the centuries?

      Let’s say the null hypothesis is that AGW isn’t real (for the sake of argument, because an actual null hypothesis wouldn’t be that broad).

      A Type 1 Error would reject the null hypothesis when it is actually true. The consequence would be saving petrochemicals for future use, cleaner air, less acidification of the oceans, etc.

      A Type 2 Error would accept the null hypothesis when it is actually false—you would conclude AGW doesn’t exist (but really it does). The consequence could be the collapse of civilization in 20-50 years, mass extinction, etc.

      How much you weigh the relative risks of those two errors matters a whole hell of a lot when it comes to AGW.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        Thanks Steve for the refresher course on the null hypothesis. If AGW is a hoax, but we act as if it’s real, the fossil fuel industries may lose a little, the rest of us will have cleaner energy and a cleaner planet, which seems like a fair trade. If AGW is real, but we act as if it is a hoax and do nothing, we may lose everything. That seems like an easy choice to me.

      • Avatar Tim says:

        The real problem with climate scientists is their overconfidence in spotty statistics. Essentially the “proof” of AGW distills down to a <1° C increase in average global temperature over the past ~150 years compared to a relatively flat (+/- 1/4°) average global temperature for the previous 1,000+ years. Plotted on a graph, this "hockey stick" temperature chart looks quite compelling.

        But then a skeptical person might ask how we know what the average global temperature was 500 years ago when we only have reliable temperature data going back ~150 years. The answer is climate scientists use weak proxies – things like the width of tree rings, coral growth, lakebed sediment, ice core samples, etc.

        Trivia: One of the explanations for the superior sound of Stradivarius violins is that their wood was sourced from wood grown during the Maunder Minimum – a period of reduced solar intensity & cooler weather which caused trees to grow more slowly and have tighter rings & denser wood.

        Back on subject: the problem with temperature proxies is that their correlations with actual temperatures aren't that strong. But taken together from across the globe they are still informative.

        Still, early climate scientists weren't good statisticians and the models they built referenced itself. That is, to know how temperature affects tree ring size, they compared tree ring growth from ~1850-1950 against actual temperatures from 1850-1950. They then used that calculation as their model and whaddya know, the correlation from 1850-1950 was pretty high! The model actually begins to break down after 1950 and by 1990 it has underpredicted actual temperatures by a large margin (which should make you wonder how often and how much it underpredicted temperatures in the past).

        Ironically, the best research into the statistical accuracy of climate calculations comes from a professor of marketing — you know, the type of academic excluded from that "97% of climate scientists" stat because he supposedly lacks the expertise. Only this guy's emphasis is on statistics – everything from market research to the geeky baseball sabermetrics highlighted in Moneyball.

        Anyway, he takes the same data and treats it like a stats geek instead of someone looking to prove a hypothesis and comes up with a much larger range of possible outcomes, along with more of a check-mark shaped graph compared to the old hockeystick. Yeah it still looks like temperatures have been rising more rapidly since the industrial revolution, but the range of uncertainty leaves open the possibility that swings like this may have occured in the past – and temperatures may have been this high in the past.

        Link if you're interested: https://projecteuclid.org/download/pdfview_1/euclid.aoas/1300715170

        When you ask most AGWers detailed questions about the certainty of their predictions, most will eventually admit they aren't as sure as they appear. But they justify it by saying the risk is worth it – it is more important to make societal changes now than to concede uncertainty and possibly undermine climate change goals.

        This is essentially the same argument my priest used to give me for believing in heaven & hell. He'd say: "if I'm wrong you lose little, if you're wrong you are damned!" Maybe so, but that still isn't proof…

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          This is an example of exactly what I’m talking about this story. The McShane Wyner statistical study in 2010 was used by all the climate-denier websites cited in the story to disprove the “hockey stick” theory. The hockey stick is the polar bear in this case. If you can disprove the hockey stick, the whole edifice comes down–that’s the tactic. This study was so influential it’s not even mentioned in Wikipedia’s “hockey stick controversy” entry. Actual climate scientists thanked McShane and Wyner at the time for providing them with some statistical insights, but were also quite critical, as you can read here https://agwobserver.wordpress.com/anti-agw-papers-debunked/. Search “Wyner.” By this late date, the 20th century warming has been verified by dozens of studies. No one says this study debunks them.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            I never said AGW was debunked, I said the evidence is far less certain than you would be lead to believe. And the historic temperature record is just one facet: when it comes to forward looking projections, the uncertainties really bloom.

            For instance, GHG experiments show temperatures rising with increases in GHG emissions. Using this model, you can predict that the polar ice caps will melt. When you then run the simulations without polar ice caps, the temperature rise begins to accelerate because snow/ice reflects a lot of the sun’s energy back into space. Without the ice caps, the earth will absorb more solar radiation and heat up even more.

            But the models begin to break apart there. What would also happen when polar ice caps melt is an increase in average global humidity, which would increase the average number and severity of storms. But that would also increase the cloud cover on earth, and clouds reflect solar radiation back into space just like snow. Current models do not account for this, because they don’t know nearly enough to accurately predict cloud cover. We only know that it will increase.

            And that’s just what we know. Unknown unknowns abound. It is part of the reason for the push from “global warming” to “climate change” – mankind is affecting the environment, but we really aren’t sure what the results will be. But exploring these uncertainties is seen as outright denial by many AGWers. It certainly undermines their ability to prescribe fixes like “clean energy.”

            There is no such thing as clean energy. Plastering black solar panels over sandy deserts or fields of dried grass will cause the earth to absorb more solar radiation and heat up. Aside from bird kills, windmills require tremendous amounts of energy to build, transport, and maintain. In an ideal location, it may recoup its energy in 3-5 years. In an average location it may take a lifetime. Hydroelectric power heats & diverts rivers, killing fish and wildlife. Nuclear power may be cleanest, but you’ve got the risks of accidents and the problem of all that radioactive waste.

            So AGWers truly fail at prescribing the only rational solution: to dramatically reduce our energy useage – not to hopscotch from one disfavored source of energy to a new source whose consequences we know less about. But tempering mankind’s lifestyle expectations from “Keeping up with the Kardashians” to something closer to scratching out a subsistence living like aboriginals just isn’t politically palatable.

            So they push carbon credits and subsidize industries like solar – strategies that adversely affect poor & rural residents more than wealthy urban, adding to the perceived wealth disparity. Ironically, poor and rural residents are generally the ones living the least energy-intensive lives.

            Heresy! Denier! Skeptic!

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            When you’ve got nothing, baffle people with bullshit.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      If you have evidence that the 97 percent consensus is primarily due to confirmation bias, please post it so we can examine it.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Also, phrenology was pseudo-science that was falsified by scientists. I don’t think that’s at all analogous to AGW being called out as bullshit by Herr Trump, Sean Hannity, The Heartland Institute, and our GOP representative in Congress.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      And also, if you’re using the ridiculousness of what goes on in the fields of “X” Studies—where political correctness is rigidly and rabidly enforced—as evidence to besmirch what goes on in physics, atmospheric sciences, and environmental studies departments, you’re arguing with smoke and mirror and misdirection plays.

  3. Avatar christian gardinier says:

    Climate change deniers never have liked science but sure do like tRump who likes to say, ” climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.” Now, if you believe that over,”Scientists Agree: Global Warming is Happening and Humans are the Primary Cause…” then you most likely think tRump Kool Aid tastes great, the media is fake and “the enemy of the people” and most likely still live in the dark ages where bumps on a skill predict behavior. Great…. Your ignorance may also bring fascism to a community near you…. Wake up.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Prince Charles was lecturing Trump on climate change. The prince did all the talking for an hour and a half. “He cares about the future,” Trump said later. Clearly Trump doesn’t.

  4. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    T-shirt slogan: “Science doesn’t care what you believe.”

  5. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    A sharp barb I read this morning regarding a prominent celebrity anti-vaxxer:

    You know what will never get old?

    Jessica Biel’s kids.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Ouch!

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        I don’t mind her taking that hit. Nothing is more cynical and elitist than: “I don’t want to have my kid immunized against polio…but please maintain the current level of herd immunity so that the non-vax choice remains feasible for mommies like me.”

        It’s repugnant. Even more so when you factor in the increased risk to kids who actually *can’t* get vaccinated.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Steve, I saw the lead for that story but didn’t click on it. You just made me feel good about not doing so.

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        Some years back, I went to a meet-and-greet hosted by Dahle and Gaines. An older, seemingly shy woman approached me – dunno why – saying quietly that she thought vaccinations should not be given because of all the illnesses they caused. My response was that if she didn’t want to vaccinate her children – although by her age, I’d guess they would be her grandchildren – that was her choice. But they should not be allowed to enter public school.

  6. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Let’s try this again . . . what I write seems to keep disappearing. Hmmmmm. . . . maybe I should take a hint! LOL!!

    What I said was, R.V. I think you should change your first name to “JOHN” . . . as in “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS!” The ubiquitous “they” didn’t want to believe him either. That was an extremely thought provoking mirror you handed us. Sometimes the most difficult part of knowledge is being able to look at ourselves in the mirror of truth.
    R.V.,I’m so grateful we have your services here on ANC Don’t ever shut up!!

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thanks and will-do, except for the name-change, Adrienne! I tend to think of our part of northern California as a media desert, which is a form of wilderness. Also I live on a forested mountainside, and I do feel like I’m shouting down at the valley some times.

  7. Avatar Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    Digging out the truth. A full-time job nowadays. A job that in days of old meant reading the morning paper with your coffee. Now you have unlimited sources that one might think would make your job easier, it doesn’t.

    I’ve been on the Net almost from the beginning and oh how things have changed. You always had to know your sources and chose carefully who you decide to put on your trusted link. I have over 100 bookmarks, now all I have to do is pick which one is true. Nothing today is cast in concrete and you now see trusted sites turn useless.

    Now you have sites (Facebook, Google, Amazon) deciding for you what is true and what is not, making those sites useless as a source.

    In today’s political climate, where if the President’s lips are moving he is lying and the MSM gets neckaches from nodding agreement. We are left on our own to find out the truth.
    The truth is out there and hopefully, it will set you free when you find it

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Hi Dad, isn’t that an awesome submarine and polar bears picture (Dad’s a retired US Navy submariner, I chose that picture for him).

      All of the academics I cited in the story were a little too enthusiastic about big technology companies using algorithms to detect fake news, hate speech, wrong-think etc. for my taste. These algos are already deployed and used to censor websites by, for example, altering google search results. Although right-wingers do the most whining about their websites being de-listed or even shut down, many left-wing websites have been hurt worse. This is a tricky issue. Should Glenn Beck be allowed to lie to millions of people on air without paying a penalty? That’s what he’s doing now, and it’s a harmful lie.

  8. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Stunning research….could you get a copy to KellyAnn Conway and her team. I hope you submit this article to those who give awards to journalists.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thanks Frank. I haven’t entered anything in a contest for years. Maybe I should. KellyAnn is pretty busy today, defending her violations of the Hatch Act.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      I looked into submitting ANews for an online award and found that it costs big bucks to do so. So those media awards handed out by supposedly neutral groups are like everything else, they are bought.

  9. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    What I like about ANews is they print opposing views. Though sometimes I feel I am the only one who takes the time to write a LTTE from the opposing side. I have taken the hits but I am a published writer and I have the rejection slips to prove it.

    • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

      Bruce, I can’t count all the times ANC has said, “Feel free to write an article about your point of view on this subject” to people who complain that we’re too one-sided. From the vast majority of such people: crickets. You are one of maybe… two or three exceptions (and I can’t actually think of anyone else but I’m trying to be generous).

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Bruce, you are evidence that the term “compassionate conservative” isn’t always an oxymoron.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        Hal, I volunteer with a lot of compassionate conservatives at the food banks. That is why the largest group of voters in Arizona are Independents. This Saturday I will be at the Assembly of God Church where the primary recipients will be Muslims. It doesn’t get any more compassionate conservative than that.

  10. Douglas Craig Douglas Craig says:

    Thank you R.V.! Excellent article. Unassailable even. To further support your argument, I offer the following:

    While there may be a consensus opinion among the scientists that humans are responsible for the climate crisis, the more important consensus is related to the peer-reviewed literature.

    Every study of the published science in recent decades has reached the same conclusion. I offer two as evidence.

    Naomi Oreskes looked at 928 refereed scientific papers published between 1993 and 2003 that contained the key words “climate change” and failed to find a single published paper that argued against the consensus.

    https://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/306/5702/1686.full.pdf

    John Cook and others looked at nearly 12,000 papers published between 1991 and 2011 that used the words “global climate change” or “global warming” and found that among those papers that addressed causation, “97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.”

    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024

    As R.V. inferred, anyone who denies human causation for the global climate crisis must first deny science, itself.

    There is no “science” outside of the peer-reviewed literature. And there aren’t any serious, respected scientific papers that deny or refute the consensus view. None. If 97 out of 100 studies of our health indicated we had cancer, we would seek treatment, not demand more “proof.” Meanwhile, the ice is melting, sea level is rising, species are going extinct, the oceans are acidifying and dying and we are seeing dramatic increases in weather extremes, droughts, floods, and wildfires. But the deniers will keep denying as if they don’t have a personal stake in this; as if they, their children and grandchildren will be immune from the hellish world we are all creating.

    As R.V. implied, our worst problem is not the climate crisis. Our worst problem is denial of the climate crisis. We can’t solve a problem we insist does not exist.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Our worst problem is not the 3% that deny AGW it is the 97% that believe it yet do nothing to combat it. The 97% want someone else to cut their use of fossil fuels. When odd numbered license plates drive one day and even numbered license plates drive another day like in China then I’ll believe the 97%. When on smog days factories are shut down like in China I’ll believe the 97%. Many of the 97% believe we should leave the oil in the ground when what they should be doing is leaving their car in the garage. If a lightning bolt should strike Trump and deniers and change their mind on AGW it would do nothing to stop AGW. When oil and gas leases would go out for bid in Wyoming protesters would come from San Francisco to protest the bidding. They would do better going out on the Bay Bridge and protest all those driving cars. Talk is cheap and that is what the 97% do.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        The fallacy here Bruce is that you appear to be saying 97 percent of the public believes in AGW. Depending on the poll, it more like 50-50, thanks to fake science. Also the notion that nobody’s doing anything constructive about climate change belies the expansive and ongoing efforts by governments, industry, scientists and engineers to transition to a future less depenent on fossil fuels. Those kids protesting in Wyoming are just the tip of the iceberg.

        • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

          RV, the fallacy here is thinking that protesting BLM leases in Wyoming will do anything to combat pollution in the cities. And all through this article and other articles the 97% figure is always brought up. If that is fake news than maybe the real figures should be put out there instead.
          And I don’t appear to say that the 97% isn’t doing enough to combat AGW, I am stating it loud and clear.
          And it isn’t fake science that is causing people to not believe in AGW, it is the fear that they will, and have, lose their jobs. Those Green jobs will not replace the high paid fossil fuel jobs in quantity or wages. The 97% of credible scientists will continue with their guaranteed government jobs while putting thousands out of work with their alarmist, yeah I said it, predictions.
          This New Green Deal is to be funded by taxes on the rich yet part of that Green Deal is to break up the rich, that is a giant Oxymoron idea.

  11. Avatar Elizabeth Andrade says:

    If the government were truly worried about measles, or ebola, thousands upon thousands of unvaccinated people would not be able to cross our borders and then be bussed to locations throughout our country.

  12. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    Excellent article R.V. You’ve started a great conversation. I only have one contribution and that is to explain my “brick” theory. Once in a while I examine the bricks that serve as a foundation of what I know about the world, and how I live my life. Sometimes I have to throw out a brick: it might consist of some belief or knowledge I’d gained when I was young and have learned doesn’t match the real world I live in. I suppose this makes me suspicious of everything I see or read, because I want a good foundation and hate throwing out bricks. I have a list of writers and publications I trust for truthful journalism. You are on that list. How to change a national infatuation with BIG trucks, waste and hobby shopping is beyond me.

  13. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    To paraphrase Marilyn Monroe:

    Happy Birthday, Mr. Stable Genius-in Chief

  14. Avatar Doug Cook says:

    As I was looking into the veracity of the alarmist claims and trying to understand the actual science, according to all the evidence, instead of the cherry-picked bits from either side, alongside applying the pure Feynman approach to hypothesis vs evidence… I soon discovered to my disgust that the Alarmist side simply would not entertain the scientific approach at all. The only side who engaged in rational analysis, with an open mind, with the ability to look at evidence in itself AND entertain the scientific approach of “what else could it mean” and recognize where evidence is suggestive of different things, and look at how any evidence effects the veracity of the hypothesis, was the skeptical side of the argument.
    When the alarmists relied on models of their hypothesis, and deleted any data which contradicted it..the Hockey Stick graph as an example…, I knew they were a religion. I noted how the alarmist’s manufactured falsities to spread alarm with blowing up children, polar bears falling out of the sky and deserts with monkeys starving to death. I stuck by the evidence, while alarmists stuck by photoshop and fairy tales.
    Now we can look back over the last 20 years of predictions when we “months from the tipping point” and yet we are still supposed to believe the appeals to those same authorities who kept making all these palpably absurd predictions which have still not happened over a decade after we were “months from catastrophe”
    Oh… and I am still waiting for the precise mechanism by which increasing heat magically decided to switch from the surface temperature to the seas. Oh… and how this heat knows where the satellites are looking, so can keep hiding from them in the troposhere and where the ARGO buoys are so that they can be avoided too while all this massive amount of very clever, intelligent heat sinks so deep into the oceans where it can hide.
    Occam’s razor tells us that a simpler answer is that all this excess heat simply is NOT there! More heat is escaping back into space by unknown mechanisms that we are conveniently not measuring… or willfully avoiding…. one or the other.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Every single talking point here, from the word “alarmist” is straight from climate change denial blogs. If you’ve truly read both sides and have come to this conclusion, you’re not just denying AGW, you’re denying science itself.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        Alarmist is a fair characterization. If you go back 20-30 years and look at the catastrophic predictions that were all supposed to come to fruition by now, and didn’t…that is alarmist. The fact is, if Dr Hansen’s Senate testimony 30 years ago reflected the actual changes that occurred, nobody would have cared. The whole climate change religion is predicated on catastrophic predictions, and to keep it alive, they must move the goalposts. Now it is another 30 years before the catastrophic events will occur. I guess we were wrong about an ice free Arctic by 2012…Arctic Sea Ice is not cooperating with doomsday climate predictions. My new T-shirt…Mother Nature is a Climate Skeptic

        “Climate change denial”…I submit that it is you that is denying science. You think we can stop climate change, I embrace climate change and know that man cannot change the climate.

        I have read both sides of the issue…my guess is that you have not. After all, in a different forum where I presented down actual facts and data…not from a ‘climate denial blog’ but from NASA and NOAA, you called me an ‘effing moron’. Way to be open minded.

        • Avatar Randy Compton says:

          Can you share with us just few of your most highly respected sources of climate science information? For me those sources would be IPCC, Royal Society, World Meteorological Society, American Meteorological Society, MET, NASA, NOAA Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Yale, Princeton, UC Davis, University of Alaska, University of Australia and many more. Would you care bto pick out one of my sources so we could dig deeper into what is fact and fiction in regards to AGW? I didn’y think so.

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            Randy, AGW is real but while fossil fuel burning causes AGW one other thing, like the small print on a contract, that all those sources mention is increasing population and overdeveloping are also major contributors to AGW. As far as reliable source, Popular Science, has an article on disappearing grasslands in the world. The major causes are increasing population and overdeveloping.
            The Sierra Club was almost split, a decade ago, about how increasing immigration would create environmental problems and it is. I see that down here in Arizona but it was true in Wyoming and Colorado.
            To combat AGW we have to look at all the causes.

    • Avatar Michael Kuker says:

      “What if it’s a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?”

  15. Avatar Candace C says:

    Michael, spot on.

  16. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Michael, love it, right on.

  17. Terry Turner Terry Turner says:

    Just a quick Thank You! for such an insightful and thought-provoking article. As I watch TV and see the accelerated Greenland ice melt, all the flooding and tornadoes in the Midwest, the forest fires in Canada, and as we here in Redding have weather than long-time residents say has never happened in their life time, well, I agree with you. We need to take action. I would love to leave cleaner air and cleaner water to my grandchildren.

  18. Avatar Randy Compton says:

    There is not a group of professiobal, working climate scientists from any country on earth that disputes the scientific reality of AGW as presented by the IPCC nor ie there a major university from any country that has not studied and confirmed the science presented by the IPCC to be true and correct.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      I think you will find a lot more skepticism among applied vs theoretical scientists. One poll of engineers in Canada showed only 37% believed the consensus statement: “man is responsible for the majority of global warming”

        • Avatar Tim says:

          Yep – probably because they’re the same ones who also predicted a concomitant 1° C rise in temperature between 1979 and 2019 – a prediction that turned out to be twice as high as actual.

          Engineers make projections all the time, but learn right away that a model’s predictive value is limited to the known assumptions. The more unknowns, the less certainty they place in the predictions.

          Note that those Exxon engineers did state the 1° prediction was the “most probable temperature increase” – acknowledging their own uncertainty (though unfortunately not attempting to quantify it).

  19. Avatar Jim Jones says:

    Great article

  20. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    Great article

  21. Avatar Julie Driver says:

    Thanks for another great article RV. If you’re around, please come to the Library Thursday at 6 to watch the Bill Nye documentary about his work to promote scientific thinking.