Racism and Climate Denial: Like Peas and Carrots

February 24, 2023

Correlation is of course, not causation. But it’s not nothing.

“Dilbert” cartoonist Scott Adams is famously a climate denier.

Based on experience, and examples that I’ve pointed to many times, that would generally make me think –
“Yeah, he’s probably a racist, too.”
But, damn. He really is a racist jerk.

Also, he has no concept of social media algorithms.

UPDATE: “Dilbert” pulled from multiple news papers, including a lot of the big ones.
I can tell you as a former cartoonist that you make the huge percentage of your money from the handful of really big papers. The smaller papers pay so little that they barely move the needle.

Associated Press:

The Los Angeles Times cited Adams’ “racist comments” while announcing Saturday that Dilbert will be discontinued Monday in most editions and that its final run in the Sunday comics — which are printed in advance — will be March 12. 

The San Antonio Express-News, which is part of Hearst Newspapers, said Saturday that it will drop the Dilbert comic strip, effective Monday, “because of hateful and discriminatory public comments by its creator.”

The USA Today Network tweeted Friday that it also will stop publishing Dilbert “due to recent discriminatory comments by its creator.”

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and other publications that are part of Advance Local media also announced that they are dropping Dilbert. 

“This is a decision based on the principles of this news organization and the community we serve,” wrote Chris Quinn, editor of The Plain Dealer. ’“We are not a home for those who espouse racism. We certainly do not want to provide them with financial support.”

Christopher Kelly, vice president of content for NJ Advance Media, wrote that the news organization believes in “the free and fair exchange of ideas.”

“But when those ideas cross into hate speech, a line must be drawn,” Kelly wrote.

Adams, a former supporter of former President Donald Trump, has become notorious for pushing far-right conspiracy theories, including COVID medical misinformation and a proclamation that the Biden administration would hunt down and kill Republicans en masse. He has already been dropped by 77 papers affiliated with Lee Enterprises, noted Quinn, “after Adams introduced his first Black character, apparently to poke fun at “woke” culture and the LGBTQ community.”


The link between hate groups and climate denial is complex and anecdotal at best, with little research examining the overlap between the two. But there is enough anecdotal experience to prompt prominent figures who study and advance science and policy to see a connection. In an interview with Mother JonesSteyer said he sees the intolerance and hyperpartisanship that has marked the GOP as fundamentally connected with the party’s “willingness to directly lie” on climate change science.

“Climate change was really one of the seminal points for the Republicans because they decided they could straight-up lie,” he said in a phone interview. “When you look at the kind of violent and dehumanizing rhetoric that the president has indulged in, it’s entirely consistent with the idea that there is no cost to lying, there is no cost to really attacking the basic interest of the American people. So I think climate was the template.”

These questions about tensions concerning the climate change debate are not as well understood or explicitly drawn as the immigration debate, where George Soros is charged in coded language with pulling all the strings in a vast global conspiracy, as the New York Times reported, to “undermine the established order and a proponent of diluting the white, Christian nature of their societies through immigration.”

But the right’s denial of climate change science nonetheless repeats many of the same patterns that have appeared in other extremist targets, from guns to immigration to abortion. These patterns include the appropriation of Nazi or anti-Semitic imagery, the demonization of funders and prominent advocates, and the distortion of the terms of the debate. Climate change has become another flashpoint for irrational, hateful, sometimes violent rhetoric, and even personal attacks on people who have risen to some prominence as scientists, funders, and advocates.

BTW, that whole “models” trope in the cartoon above?
Took care of that in the video below.


8 Responses to “Racism and Climate Denial: Like Peas and Carrots”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Why would he quote Don Lemon, who’s clearly a member of a hate group?

  2. ubrew12 Says:

    I didn’t know about Adams climate denial when I picked up his book ‘Loserthink’ at the bookstore and read the first chapter. I was floored: his example of ‘loserthink’ was the acceptance of climate change based on models, which you effectively demolished in your attached video. Focusing just on the models, however, I was struck by something the interviewer said at 0.30sec: “one of the myths… we hear… is, that climate science… it’s all just made up in computer models… it’s all simulations, you can get any answer you want if you put whatever you want in.” This is true only if you can ‘put whatever you want in’, but you can’t. What you put into any model predicting the future is the present. And the present is not unknown: it is rigorously measured precisely to provide the proper initial condition from which to start the model. And a final point: in the comic strip Dilbert asks “What if I don’t trust the… models?” This is a pet-peeve of mine: any course of action you take (including taking no action) is based on a model. The model may be confined to your head, i.e. a ‘hunch’, but it’s still a model of reality upon which you will hang your actions. The climate/economic models are not competing, as Adam’s suggests, with reality, they are competing with other models (predicting the future), because all courses of action are based on our ideas about reality. It’s not whether Dilbert trusts the climate/economic models, it’s whether he trusts them more than other models, including hunches, or suspicions, or patriotic fervor. And it’s proper to ask, how rigorous are those competing models? Can they properly predict what has happened in the past? The moment you claim you don’t ‘trust’ someone’s model, you are promoting an alternative, and should rightly be called out to demonstrate its rigor. Where did your alternative come from, what is it based on, and what are its assumptions? America is chock full of people, now, who question the models of the experts. But the models of the experts are wrong: that is why they are called ‘models’. So to question them without having an alternative in mind is like shaking your fist at the wind. It’s ‘loserthink’, and Dilbert himself, in that last panel of the comic strip, is ironically engaged in it.

  3. jimbills Says:

    It’s the old “I have a black friend, so everything I say next is not racist” type of argument – i.e. “Don Lemon says so and so, so I can extend that to say even more.”

    So many logical fallacies in his video….besides the outright racism.

    Speaking of moving to places without such-and-such type of people, I read this today:

    ‘Christian patriots’ are flocking from blue states to Idaho

  4. gmrmt Says:

    Anyone want to start a GoFundMe to buy up every house around Adams and have black people move in?

  5. jimbills Says:

    His distributor just dropped him, which is much worse than an individual paper doing so:

    His book agent and publisher also dropped him. He’s currently on Twitter complaining that white people are racist against him. Musk has decided it’s a good idea for himself to wade into all this, too.

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