Mike Mann in His Own Words: “Mike’s Trick” and “Hide the Decline”

April 27, 2015

More from our historic set of interviews at last year’s American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. In a tiny basement room, we set up cameras and recorded dozens of the most significant researchers from around the planet on the Story of the Millennium.

John Cook gave Michael Mann the chance to expand on the most famous of the widely distorted “climate gate” emails, containing the grossly distorted phrases “Mike’s Nature trick”, and “Hide the decline”.

This and all the other videos are now part of John Cook’s Climate Change MOOC, (Massive Online Open Course), a treasure for anyone who wishes to better understand climate science, and be able to persuade and educate others on the facts.  The course proceeds on the principle that better understanding the distortions of deniers actually is a good way for us to learn the facts, and “inoculate” others against similar disinformation.

The Conversation:

How then should scientists respond to science denial? The answer lies in a branch of psychology dating back to the 1960s known as “inoculation theory”. Inoculation is an idea that changed history: stop a virus from spreading by exposing people to a weak form of the virus. This simple concept has saved millions of lives.

In the psychological domain, inoculation theory applies the concept of inoculation to knowledge. When we teach science, we typically restrict ourselves to just explaining the science. This is like giving people vitamins. We’re providing the information required for a healthier understanding. But vitamins don’t necessarily grant immunity against a virus.

There is a similar dynamic with misinformation. You might have a healthy understanding of the science. But if you encounter a myth that distorts the science, you’re confronted with a conflict between the science and the myth. If you don’t understand the technique used to distort the science, you have no way to resolve that conflict.

Half a century of research into inoculation theory has found that the way to neutralise misinformation is to expose people to a weak form of the misinformation. The way to achieve this is to explain the fallacy employed by the myth. Once people understand the techniques used to distort the science, they can reconcile the myth with the fact.

Below, my own more detailed explanation, which I produced with Mike’s  input.

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2 Responses to “Mike Mann in His Own Words: “Mike’s Trick” and “Hide the Decline””

  1. ubrew12 Says:

    Have Briffa etal ever pinned down an explanation for why tree ring densities don’t adequately reflect warming since 1960? It seems to me CO2 wasn’t the major forcing of temperature until around that decade:

    If the main source of climate variation pre-1960s was solar insolation on the ground (i.e. the forcings of either the Sun itself or aerosol pollutants from 1945-1975), then possibly the tree ring density is more a function of sunlight than temperature. Of course, the dendrochronologists would have thought of that.

    I wish more people understood that the Climategate ‘hide the decline’ hysteria was over the COVER ART of a WHO publication (and not peer-reviewed anything).
    http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/wcp/wcdmp/documents/913_en.pdf
    What better example is there of the shallowness of climate denial, than its judging a book by its cover?

  2. HarryWiggs Says:

    The *ONLY* lying going on here, is by Inhofe and his Republican, science-denying cronies.


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