Science vs Denial in Word Clouds

March 20, 2015

Above, Tony Leiserowitz describes what polls reveal about Global Warming’s “Six Americas” – how the US public breaks down in terms of attitudes on climate change.

Below, Greg Laden took another approach.

Greg Laden’s Blog:

Are there cultural differences between those who accept and generally understand the current consensus on climate change science and those who don’t? One gets the sense that there is, but it is possible to explore this in more detail.

I took the public Twitter profile descriptions, written by individual Twitterers, from two different Twitter lists that I maintain, and made word clouds out of them. The first is a list of “Global warming deniers.” People get on this list when they actively deny climate change science in Twitter exchanges with me (or that I observe). There are 309 members as of this writing. The second list is “Climate Change Science,” and includes climate scientists, scientists in cognate areas, and journalists or science communicators, a few activists, etc. That is the go-to list if you want to keep up on current climate science related news. There are 236 members as of this writing.

I made these tag clouds at the suggestion of Michael Mann, who thought that it might be interesting to look at the differences, if any, in how the two groups tend to characterize themselves.

Here is the word cloud for the “Global Warming Deniers” list:

Here is the word cloud for the “Climate Change Science” list:

Armchair sociologists, discuss.

5 Responses to “Science vs Denial in Word Clouds”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    “Armchair sociologists, discuss”? Red meat!

    First, a nice piece—Leiserowitz made good points but Laden’s work is far more revealing. Compare just the most often used words in the two clouds.

    CONSERVATIVE-FOLLOW-climate-love-politics-christian-libertarian-fan-retired-science

    CLIMATE-change-science-scientist-university-community-author-research

    And the prominence of HTTP in both seems to indicate that both groups are “researching”. Too bad the deniers are going to WUWT and CONSERVATIVE FOLLOW sites for their information, which perhaps partially explains why the “6 Americas” exist.

    • andrewfez Says:

      In the small print ‘Lead’ is in the climate change group, whilst, as you pointed out, ‘follow’ is in the other camp’s. Their religious indoctrination makes them susceptible to authoritarian type belief systems. Indeed i noticed a few years ago in one of the big Charleston, WV online papers (Daily Mail), that they have an entire category called ‘Cops and Courts’ where I suppose readers derive some measure of continuous pleasure in observing sinners being punished.

      I was surprised ‘computer programmer’ didn’t show up in the denialist group though. I wasn’t surprised ‘engineer’ came up. Retired engineers and upper level business management folks plague on the internet with their denialist rhetoric, from my experience in engaging with trolls.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        “….susceptible to authoritarian type belief systems…” indeed. That is just one of the things you will learn about these folks if you read Mooney’s The Republican Brain.


    • “believe-constitution-husband-lover” vs. “earth-community-global-human”

  2. Blair Says:

    Climate change denialists, anti-vaccers, creationists and conspiracy theories all resort to the same types of gimmicks, distortions and cherry picking to justify their special pleading.

    Their existence perfectly illustrates what we need urgent and thorough science and critical thinking education in early school years.


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