Climate denial's internal contradictions spring from a need to defend economic doctrine


A trio of scholars who study the psychology and philosophy of science have written a fantastic paper for Springer's Sythese looking at the way that climate change conspiracy theorists construct their view of the world, and how these conspiracy theories contain self-contradictory theses (like the idea that climate change can't be predicted and the idea that the data shows we're actually headed for an ice-age). Read the rest

A Boy’s Best Friend

Bertie and RK

A zillion people seem to have seen this video already, but I missed it until I accidentally saw it on Facebook, where it had been posted in early April by HypeDoJo and already has 12 million views.

Might sound like a lot, but since the population of the United States alone is 319 million, give or take, there are probably a lot of folks out there who still haven’t seen it. Thought you might enjoy it.

I didn’t care for it because I don’t like dogs. Don’t hate me. I have a reason.

Growing up in an apartment building in Elmhurst, Queens (one of the five boroughs of New York City, Queens is known as the “borough of the dead” because it has so many large cemeteries that there are more dead folks than living at any given moment), I lived in a very small apartment with my mother. We moved in when my folks split up—I was seven, so 1965—and lived on the fourth floor; naturally I took the elevator a lot.

There was a weird bastard, must have been in his thirties (short black hair dotted with some gray, button up shirts that never fit quite right, black corduroy trousers that were inches too short revealing white socks), who lived with his mother on one of the floors above us. Even as a 7-year-old, I could tell this dude had some issues.

They had a dog, a medium sized black and white mutt, kept on a red leash. All was fine when Bizarro and his mother travelled the elevator and halls together. Read the rest

Math denialism: crypto backdoors and DRM are the alternative medicine of computer science


My latest Guardian column, The FBI wants a backdoor only it can use – but wanting it doesn’t make it possible, draws a connection between vaccine denial, climate denial, and the demand for backdoors in secure systems, as well as the call for technologies that prevent copyright infringement, like DRM. Read the rest

The 21st Century's most unlikely plot device: heroic billionaires vs evil climate scientists


From Scott Westerfeld, (currently touring for his new, brilliant book "Zeroes"): "Plot idea: 97% of the world's scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires & oil companies." Read the rest

Professional skeptics on misinformation & hoaxes: anti-vaxx, Planned Parenthood


Gabriela writes, "Hopes&Fears starts the week with this roundtable in which we invite four professional skeptics to discuss the ins and outs of busting a hoax. From Ben Radford, deputy editor of The Skeptical Inquirer, to Susan Gerbic, founder of Guerilla Skeptics on Wikipedia, we discuss the real potential dangers of misinformation and disinformation in the digital age." Read the rest

AP will use "climate doubters" instead of "climate skeptics"


The new agency's new stylebook entry advises against using "deniers" as well, but at least it acknowledges that the true skeptics are adherents to the scientific method. Read the rest

Distinguished scientists call for RICO prosecution of climate deniers


The scientists point out that RICO threats were critical to ending big tobacco's program of denying the link between cancer and smoking. Read the rest

GOP Vice Chair of House Energy committee is a climate denier and creationist


Marsha Blackburn has represented Tennessee's 7th district for more than a decade, on behalf of the Republican party, whose caucus has elevated her to the vice-chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Read the rest

The science of vaccine denial

The only real scientific mystery about vaccines is why so many people buy into the deadly pseudoscience of vaccine denial and put their kids -- and yours -- at risk of catching ancient, vanquished, deadly diseases. Read the rest

Having the brakes removed from your car is a personal decision

Scientists may say that brakes save lives, but virtually every car-wreck co-occurs with panicked braking -- did you know that in the old days, cars didn't have brakes? Read the rest

Canadian government orders scientists not to disclose extent of polar melting

Stephen Harper's petro-Tories have a well-earned reputation for suppressing inconvenient environmental science, but they attained new Stalinist lows when their ministers prohibited Canadian Ice Services from disclosing their government-funded research on the rapid loss of Arctic ice. Read the rest

Most-misused scientific concepts

Annalee Newitz rounds up scientists' ten least-favorite misused scientific concepts, from "proof" and "theory" to "natural" and "learned versus innate." The thing that most of these misconceptions have in common is that they're very profitable: clouding the idea of "proof" and "theory" helps oil companies sell climate denial (and were the go-to tactic when tobacco giants were claiming that their products didn't cause cancer). "Natural" is a label that helps sell woo. "Learned versus innate" is a great way to justify crappy policies as being somehow "innate" to our species (see Love of Shopping is Not a Gene). Read the rest