John Cook: Master De-Bunker from Down-Under at AGU

December 16, 2011

One of my great privileges at The American Geophysical Union gathering last week was meeting John Cook – mastermind of SkepticalScience.com – the 900 pound gorilla of climate denial debunking websites.

John held forth in a number of sessions, all of which I somehow missed, but we managed to get together several times after hours – which is where a lot of the best interaction and discussion takes place.

John speaks here on the challenges and pitfalls of informing the disinformed, and de-programming the discombooberated victims of the climate denial industrial complex.

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5 Responses to “John Cook: Master De-Bunker from Down-Under at AGU”


  1. And when will he start? Mind you, it’ll be a shock for his followers if he does that.

  2. neilrieck Says:

    Adding to John’s points: An alternate explanation for the bizarre claims of science deniers involves a “creative injection” solution to the problem of “Cognitive Dissonance”. What is “CD”? Briefly, it is the sensation of a “potential difference” between conflicting ideas which, under normal circumstances, compels you to change your behavior.

    Consider this example:
    1) you want to live a long healthy life
    2) you enjoy smoking tobacco
    3) you have been told smoking is bad for your health
    These facts cause an internal thought-conflict (dissonance) in your brain. To minimize this dissonance:
    1) most people will stop smoking (the pleasure of smoking is replaced with the pleasure of little-to-no dissonance)
    2) but a smaller group of people will find it easier to inject one, or more, creative counter-balancing thoughts like “the science is wrong”, “the science is not 100% certain”, “scientists are part of a global conspiracy theory to confuse the public while reducing my personal freedoms, etc. (by the way, although the science may not be 100% correct, it is often “correct enough” to make a good decision)

    Citizens who have spent large amounts of money (another dissonance) on SUVs or multiple family vehicles will find it easier to pick from a cornucopia of creative alternatives like: “Earth’s climate is not changing”, “climate change is happening but this instance is just part of a natural cycle”, “climate change can not be affected by 6.9 billion humans”, “the science is uncertain”, “god will intervene before things get too bad”, etc. Introducing other unknowns like a carbon-tax only increases dissonance. But in the end they are just like the people who think they can continue smoking with no consequences.


  3. Very helpful. Of course, I had been trying to change the minds of some hard core skeptics, including one who simply brushed aside IPCC and other climate scientist evidence calling it “The Party Line”, which in his mind meant “the phony product of an ideologically biased liberal government”. Needless to say, he could only conceive of his own ideological bias as the gospel truth.

    My solution was simply to stop talking with this person and his fellow ideologues. Made my life much more pleasant!

  4. guylacrosse Says:

    People who accept Anthropogenic Climate Change need to be more out spoken. I had a frank discussion with a denier at work the other day. It cleared up a lot of his misconceptions he had from listening to idiots like Glenn Beck. It also seemed to surprise a lot of my co-workers. I’m normally not as outspoken about issues at work. It just bothers me when people are just totally mislead on the subject.


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