Fascinating discussion via Wired‘s Clive Thompson, and Stanford historian of science Robert Proctor, on Agnotology:

“When it comes to many contentious subjects, our usual relationship to information is reversed: Ignorance increases.

[Proctor] has developed a word inspired by this trend: agnotology. Derived from the Greek root agnosis, it is “the study of culturally constructed ignorance.”

As Proctor argues, when society doesn’t know something, it’s often because special interests work hard to create confusion. Anti-Obama groups likely spent millions insisting he’s a Muslim; church groups have shelled out even more pushing creationism. The oil and auto industries carefully seed doubt about the causes of global warming. And when the dust settles, society knows less than it did before.

“People always assume that if someone doesn’t know something, it’s because they haven’t paid attention or haven’t yet figured it out,” Proctor says. “But ignorance also comes from people literally suppressing truth—or drowning it out—or trying to make it so confusing that people stop caring about what’s true and what’s not.”  (emphasis added)

Fairly amazing, and when it comes to certain issues, its dead on.

What an awesome definition:

Agnotology: Culturally constructed ignorance, purposefully created by special interest groups working hard to create confusion and suppress the truth.


How More Info Leads to Less Knowledge
Clive Thompson


Category: Psychology, Really, really bad calls, Science, UnScience

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

87 Responses to “Agnotology”

  1. km4 says:

    Agnotology just a new spin on PSYOPS which have been used since WWII

    Now its used in politics along with Newspeak



  2. buzzp says:

    One could say this is just like film distributors wanting airline passengers to blame an airline for the distributor’s edit of a film, n’est pas?

  3. Swampfox says:

    Interesting and cute. Proctor certainly does a good job agnotologizing the churches and folks who doubt global warming as presented.

  4. Transor Z says:

    “It is not seldom the case that when a man is browbeaten in some unprecedented and violently unreasonable way, he begins to stagger in his own plainest faith. He begins, as it were, vaguely to surmise that, wonderful as it may be, all the justice and all the reason is on the other side. Accordingly, if any disinterested persons are present, he turns to them for some reinforcement for his own faltering mind.”

    -Herman Melville, “Bartleby the Scrivener” (1853)

  5. We need to fashion information tools that are designed to combat agnotological rot. Like Wikipedia: It encourages users to build real knowledge through consensus, and the result manages to (mostly) satisfy even people who hate each other’s guts. Because the most important thing these days might just be knowing what we know.

    Consensus has nothing to do with scientific facts, as the late Michael Crichton would say. Facts are proven by rigorous, reproducible experiments. At this point I believe the scientific facts related to manmade emissions boil down to this: Industry and agriculture are contributing to increases in greenhouse gas percentages in air, and something may happen which injures some and benefits others.

    Vulcanism contributes to climate change. Plate tectonics contribute to climate change. Solar activity and output contribute to climate change. Geological evidence going back several eons show life thriving on this planet at CO2 levels higher than the worst projected now by a factor of at least 2. The same people who can’t accurately predict the weather 2 weeks ahead of time believe they can predict the same chaotic-system climate over the next 100 years or more.

    For the most part, I see “global warming” as a stalking-horse for collectivists who seek to impose their ideas of “appropriate living” on others, and to get others to foot the bill for their utopian fantasies. I am just as offended by these “useful idiots” as I am by folks on the other side who seek to impose their ideas of “family values” on me and get me to foot the bill for their own religious fantasies. I consider Jeffrey Sachs and Jerry Falwell two sides of the same anti-individualist coin.

    That said, reducing fossil fuel use is a national security issue, and I am easily convinced that we should reduce fossil fuel use in order to impoverish Araby, Russia, Venezuela, etc. I hate those guys more than I hate self-righteous smelly hippie vegans.

  6. Ethel-to-Tilly says:

    Paging Harry and Louise…

  7. Sackerson says:

    Compounded by a corresponding increase in sciolists.

  8. Wyatt_Earl says:


  9. BrianSJ says:

    Well, it is nearly Burns Night, so to counter agnosis, here is

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
    An’ ev’n devotion!

    Translated as
    O would some Power the gift to give us
    To see ourselves as others see us!
    It would from many a blunder free us,
    And foolish notion:
    What airs in dress and gait would leave us,
    And even devotion!

    It is from ‘To A Louse’. I don’t suppose he was too fond of bankers.

    I wonder if terminology such as ‘inflation’ ‘deflation’ cause agnosis; over-simplistic terms that do not carry an adequate description of a situation.

    Is TBP setting out to be the gnostic gospels of finance?

  10. Adonis says:

    CNBC is pretty good at this.

  11. vic says:

    Global warming is another great example of “agnotology”

  12. steel breeze says:

    Agnotology? … oh, you mean Bullshit.


    Interesting and cute. Proctor certainly does a good job agnotologizing the churches and folks who doubt global warming as presented.

    Looks like Proctor could take lessons from you …

  13. donna says:

    I prefer the simpler term idiocy…

  14. donna says:

    … like climate change deniers…

  15. Mind says:

    The last eight years were one long agnotological scat-fest.

  16. DL says:

    Another word creation: Proctorology.

    (Sounds a little like a certain field of medicine).

  17. call me ahab says:

    I heard that a recent study indicated more people now believe that climate change is casued by dyanmic forces between the earth and sun and not the result of man. The earth will go on with or without us in any event- as the late great George Carlin opined- who are we saving the earth for? The earth doesn’t need us- quite the contrary.

  18. DL says:

    “The oil and auto industries carefully seed doubt about the causes of global warming”.

    Maybe so. But to be fair, one should also point out the hyperbole by the extremists on the other side. And the fact that even Al Gore himself is unwilling to offer specific proposals, and more important, is completely unwilling to discuss the economic consequences of those proposals.

  19. debreuil says:

    Agnotology: The methods of groups or individuals who disagree with me about what I am certain the future will bring.

  20. roncfp says:

    You mean Obama’s not a Muslim. Darn.

  21. jmborchers says:

    Wow Apple unbelieveable. Market going wayyyyyyyyyy higher.

    Say good bye to the bear market.

    CEO Dimon also bought $9M JPM shares.

  22. call me ahab says:

    so what was Apple’s guidance for 2009?

  23. jmborchers says:

    Guidance doesn’t matter when you bring home #’s like this.

    AAPL will be $100 in 1 week I would think. [This is not a recommendation to buy AAPL]

  24. call me ahab says:

    guidance matters- it’s about future earnings

  25. jmborchers says:

    Aapl came in flat from last year. That’s amazing.

  26. jrhyno says:

    Well, it’s possible that there is a genetic explanation. As my grandfather used to say “Stupidity is a dominant gene, you see so much of it”.

  27. sellthekids says:

    the key to the article is this passage:
    As Farhad Manjoo notes in True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, if we argue about what a fact means, we’re having a debate. If we argue about what the facts are, it’s agnotological Armageddon, where reality dies screaming.

    in the information age, interests and factions have learned that instead of arguing the hows & whys of the facts, it is more expedient to argue the validity of the facts themselves.

    each side now brings to the table an unmovable position that their facts are right, the opposition’s wrong and ne’er the two shall meet.

    i would think that this wasn’t so much so in the 1800/1900s; as technology has allowed everyone to become an “expert”, then each interest/faction has learned to disseminate and defend their spin.

  28. Winston Munn says:

    It’s my own fault. I wasn’t paying attention. I really didn’t notice when lies became spin, when truth became a punchline. I went along. And now I don’t know what is true and what is false, and so don’t know when to laugh. I guess I’ll just laugh when the others do – that seems safest.

  29. rww says:

    Winston, it is your fault and thanks for taking responsibility.

  30. dps says:

    I guess Barry had little to do in proving the point. Read all the posts. How many had any links to back up their claims?

  31. DL says:

    jmborchers @ 4:38

    “This is not a recommendation to buy AAPL”

    What’s this, a disclaimer? Worried about getting sued?

    Anyway, looks like your PPT friends are back on the job. Your reputation remains intact (for the moment).

  32. r says:

    Actually – the author fell for Al Gore and media’s bent that big oil causes global warming agnotology.

    If one takes an objective, scientific, statistical analysis on the correlation of carbon dioxide and earth’s temperature, there is not enough (quality) data to conclude they correlate. If their theory holds, this year’s carbon levels are up, yet we are having one of the coldest winters in decades.

    Concluding carbon dioxide correlates with global warming is like saying –
    “the market went up today, therefore it will go up from this point forward”.

    Al Gore and the media are the ones duping the public and our govt officials.

  33. Lynn says:

    How is this different from propaganda? “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumors for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, person, or cause.”

  34. Moss says:

    Go sit in the garage with the car turned on for 10 minutes. Temperature alone is not the issue.

    @ DL
    ‘completely unwilling to discuss the economic consequences of those proposals.’

    The indirect costs to society of carbon are astronomical. To even think that the spot price of oil, Nat Gas or Coal is the true economic cost is ridiculous.

  35. I-Man says:

    steel breeze Says:

    January 21st, 2009 at 3:32 pm
    Agnotology? … oh, you mean Bullshit.


    Interesting and cute. Proctor certainly does a good job agnotologizing the churches and folks who doubt global warming as presented.

    Looks like Proctor could take lessons from you …


  36. Bruce in Tn says:


    And then we get these agnotologists in Japan who just don’t seem to get the good news….


    Japan’s ‘Severe’ Recession May Last Three Years, Yoshikawa Says

    I am thinking Roubini must be an agnotologist….

    (Could the alternative definition be “obnoxious whiners??)..

    BTW…as I understand it, AAPL lowered guidance SO low that the numbers could be beaten…imagine that.

  37. lalaland says:

    I don’t know about all that, but now’s a great time to buy a home….

  38. Swampfox says:

    All this agnotologizing, and now I have no idea if I’m being attacked or supported.

  39. Mannwich says:

    @Bruce in TN: Apple is notorious for sandbagging on its guidance. They’ve practically mastered the art. Having said that, it does look like they had a pretty solid quarter considering the climate we’re in, which is actually no surprise to me, as every Apple store I’ve been in seems to always be busy (the one here was the only store in the mall that was busy at during the holidays). They haven’t been hit too hard yet and will likely do fine (as I’ve said in other posts) over the long term as long as they keep churning out top products and marketing them well (the “coolness” and “hip” factor). They will get hit soon enough though. Wait for it.

  40. constantnormal says:

    Fellers … while it is true that Apple routinely low-balls guidance, for the quarter just reported, deeply into our current depression, in the consumer electronics field (a discretionary area if ever there was one), they just reported all-time record profits.

    That ain’t hay.

    So while the future remains terra incognito, the folks at Apple are doing a purty good job.

    I unloaded all of my QID calls this morning and bought Fed 80 calls on AAPL.

    Not to worry, I plan to reverse things by the close on Friday. I’m still fundamentally bearish, just recognizing a truffle in the field.

  41. constantnormal says:

    All this talk about agnotology is just the liberal arts majors discovering the 3rd Law Of Thermodynamics:

    Entropy Breeds.

  42. Tom K says:

    Agnotology: Culturally constructed ignorance, purposefully created by special interest groups working hard to create confusion and suppress the truth.

    Conspiracy Theory: a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators

    Is Proctor’s agnotology really nothing more than a conspiracy theory? e.g. 31072 American scientists, including 9021 PhDs say man-caused global warming isn’t settled science. What evidence does Procter present that these scientists are tools of the oil and auto industries? None, but it’s a nice little conspiracy theory.

    Rather, isn’t the “tax cuts for the rich” meme agnotology? Aren’t American’s completely ignorant of who really pays taxes in this country and who doesn’t. Haven’t special interest groups successfully created confusion and suppressed the truth by calling government payments to people who didn’t pay taxes “tax cuts”. Haven’t they also confinced the public that wealth (income) is a collectively owned “pie” to be apportioned “fairly”? If one person gets a bigger “slice”, it must mean it was somehow stolen from a person who got a smaller slice?

    I suppose Michael Jordan’t basketball skills somehow came at the expense of someone else. It sounds logical to me and it isn’t fair.

  43. mark mchugh says:

    I’m glad this came up because I’m sick and tired of pretending I understand what the fuck “liquidity injection” means. Anyone?

  44. constantnormal says:

    @ r (5:25 pm)

    Why don’t you read a book by an actual scientist who has tried to construct a long-term model of global climate? He covers plate tectonics, solar output variation, changes in albedo, and many other things — including the effects of mankind (farming, deforestation, fossil fuel consumption) and showing even the impact of significant decreases in population (e.g., the Black Death) and economic activity, and eventually manages to construct a (fairly complex — no surprise there) model that tracks the (really long-term) historical climate.

    Much better to have something besides agnotology backing your assertions.

    Fight Agnothology. It’s the intelligent thing to do.

  45. CPJ13 says:

    @ TomK

    Well said, sir.

  46. AGG says:

    “People always assume that if someone doesn’t know something, it’s because they haven’t paid attention or haven’t yet figured it out,” Proctor says.
    No shit, Sherlock. The reason “people always assume” the above is because publications push this “assumption very, very hard. I for one, have NEVER believed that ignorance is only willful when emotions are involved as in family or religion. In politics, you don’t know because someone is keeping the information from you ACTIVELY. Anyone who tells you different is part of the problem.

  47. AGG says:

    Correction: willfull ignorance only occurs in family or religion.

  48. AGG says:

    Tom K,
    For a guy from the “show me” state, you are incredibly naive or a shill for rebublican happy face tinkerbells.
    So have you decided to depart from you 100% cash position? I’ve been bearish for 2 years put I think it’s time to be bullish.
    Now since I said that, you will probably remain bearish and lose big time. Some people can’t think when hate interferes with logic.

  49. AGG says:

    Tom K,
    How’s tinkerbell?

  50. AGG says:

    When I was a kid in Kansas we used to go to Mizora (miserable missouri) to buy fire crackers. They had some fine people there then. I gues that was before Tom K moved there. Just kidding, pal.

  51. mark mchugh Says:

    January 21st, 2009 at 7:02 pm
    I’m glad this came up because I’m sick and tired of pretending I understand what the fuck “liquidity injection” means. Anyone?


    It simply means taking money from people that actually know how to manage risk and giving it to those that don’t.

    And that’s not agnotology. That’s your government, doing what it does best.

  52. AGG says:

    The government lies to you regularly, deliberately and to your detriment. But don’t worry, Tom K assures us it’s all a conspiracy theory.
    And remember, we don’t torture.

  53. ben22 says:


    I agree with Mannwich, AAPL always give low guidance and they have mastered it, they didn’t lower guidance so they could beat it, it was just a good quarter, we can’t say every single company is bs and that all the numbers were somehow manipulated, they are just well run, there are still a few of them out there.

    I bought a new macbook pro in November and I love it.

  54. Whammer says:

    Kind of funny here how several commenters prove the point of the article. Dredging up deliberately misleading stuff as though it matters.

    Tom K brings up the Oregon Petition, originally floated in 1998. In addition to being signed by noted “scientists” such as Posh Spice, it doesn’t say what Tom K alleges it says. Not only that, the whole Oregon petition prompted a strong disavowal from the National Academy of Sciences, which had nothing to do with it.


    But, hey, Al Gore uses electricity, you know.

    And Michael Moore is fat.

    So, you can decide that, among others, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Chemical Society and a whole raft of other scientific organizations are just full of crap and that they are engaged in a big conspiracy to dupe the public. Funny that you are on the same side as the people funding and dispensing the misleading information. Of course, you are on the side of the angels, not a conspiracy theory.

    It is a bit weird when one of your arguments is “people are saying I’m part of a conspiracy theory, so they are obviously wrong”, while you are at the very same time claiming there is a conspiracy theory afoot to engage in some kind of global collectivism under the myth of man-caused global warming.

    Nevertheless, I would hope that we could all agree with Dr. Noisewater that we should use less fossil fuels, thereby sending a lot less dinero to Saudi Arabia and Russia and Venezuela and Iran………… I don’t care how you get to the conclusion!

  55. Ken says:

    r wrote: “If one takes an objective, scientific, statistical analysis on the correlation of carbon dioxide and earth’s temperature, there is not enough (quality) data to conclude they correlate.”

    If one starts talking about objective, scientific, statistical analysis, one has chosen to debate using the methods of science. Under those procedures, objective, scientific, statistical analyses are published in journals and other scientific papers, allowing them to be cited when needed. So – since you are doing science – could you please provide the citation to the paper(s) that you describe above?

  56. dps says:

    Tomk again proves the agonotology point and why we become less intelligent. He assumes anything in print is true and appears to believe anything if it has numbers or reflects his thought (but does a Parrot uttering a phrase constitute thought?) . I guess he just has no concept of the meaning of verifying your sources or is just intellectually lazy. He must assume the rest of us are just as lazy.
    Here are some ACTUAL concerns about “The Oregon Petition” he “claims” prove his point . The people who quote this study usually pop up with another scientific sounding rebuke from their friends at the lyndon Laroche society.
    In May 1998 the Seattle Times wrote:
    “ Several environmental groups questioned dozens of the names: “Perry S. Mason” (the fictitious lawyer?), “Michael J. Fox” (the actor?), “Robert C. Byrd” (the senator?), “John C. Grisham” (the lawyer-author?). And then there’s the Spice Girl, a k a. Geraldine Halliwell: The petition listed “Dr. Geri Halliwell” and “Dr. Halliwell.”
    Asked about the pop singer, Robinson said he was duped. The returned petition, one of thousands of mailings he sent out, identified her as having a degree in microbiology and living in Boston. “When we’re getting thousands of signatures there’s no way of filtering out a fake,” he said.[20]

    In 2001, Scientific American reported:
    “ Scientific American took a random sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition —- one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages. Crudely extrapolating, the petition supporters include a core of about 200 climate researchers – a respectable number, though rather a small fraction of the climatological community.[21] ”
    In a 2005 op-ed in the Hawaii Reporter, Todd Shelly wrote:
    “ In less than 10 minutes of casual scanning, I found duplicate names (Did two Joe R. Eaglemans and two David Tompkins sign the petition, or were some individuals counted twice?), single names without even an initial (Biolchini), corporate names (Graybeal & Sayre, Inc. How does a business sign a petition?), and an apparently phony single name (Redwine, Ph.D.). These examples underscore a major weakness of the list: there is no way to check the authenticity of the names. Names are given, but no identifying information (e.g., institutional affiliation) is provided. Why the lack of transparency?[22] ”

  57. old trader says:

    Please keep in mind…correlation does NOT equal causation.

  58. church groups have shelled out even more pushing creationism. :lol:

  59. gritsnbeer says:

    Isn’t Proctor just talking about an increase in deception (and self-deception)? Or am I deceiving myself?

  60. VoiceFromTheWilderness says:

    oh you betcha.

    Keep it up for 10 years, add in massive funding, as well as the schooling behavior of human group dynamics and you have a formula for…massive systemic ignorance.

    The good news is that manipulating information in an attempt to control human beings has been tried on massive scales (Nazi Germany, USSR) and … it doesn’t work.

    The more you squeeze, the more star systems will slip through your fingers…

    So this is how Democracy dies, to the sound of great applause!

  61. Tom K says:

    If anything, you might want to position your investment portfolio to protect yourself from global cooling:

    “The ramifications of the global cooling cycle for the next 30 years are far reaching―e.g., failure of crops in critical agricultural areas (it’s already happening this year), increasing energy demands, transportation difficulties, and habitat change. All this during which global population will increase from six billion to about nine billion. The real danger in spending trillions of dollars trying to reduce atmospheric CO2 is that little will be left to deal with the very real problems engendered by global cooling.

    “Global warming (i.e, the warming since 1977) is over. The minute increase of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere (0.008%) was not the cause of the warming—it was a continuation of natural cycles that occurred over the past 500 years.

    “The PDO cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling, perhaps much deeper than the global cooling from about 1945 to 1977. Just how much cooler the global climate will be during this cool cycle is uncertain. Recent solar changes suggest that it could be fairly severe, perhaps more like the 1880 to 1915 cool cycle than the more moderate 1945-1977 cool cycle. A more drastic cooling, similar to that during the Dalton and Maunder minimums, could plunge the Earth into another Little Ice Age, but only time will tell if that is likely.

    Don J. Easterbrook is Professor Emeritus of Geology at Western Washington University. Bellingham, WA.

  62. spigzone says:

    Jesus, how many Jethro Clampetts are IN your readership, Mr. B?

  63. dps says:

    The topic is Agnotology. i.e. believing a source that is dubious at best (I guess jumping to conclusions as well). If I could discredit your first assertions that easily, I can easily and logically believe that the next experts you cite may also have little credibility. You might be right and GW may be a sham, but what the heck, you think I want to take a chance with my families future no matter how slim the chance is it’s real? Why do you want to play Russian Roulette with the health of the planet? I think I’ll play it safe.

  64. AGG says:

    How they did it (30 year bullshit cycle). Tom K. Don’t bother reading it. It’s too “left wing” for you even if it is the truth. Facts have never gotten in your way before so we don’t want you to change your ways.
    Watch out for those Missouri chiggers.

  65. Mike in Nola says:

    Better term is Republicanology.

    Re: Apple

    I was trying to get something in the Fedex and so was not watching closely, but sounded like that twerp Goldman on CNBC was in the throes of religous ecstasy over the earnings. Couldn’t hear it all, but I think there was something about even if Steve Jobs doesn’t survive, he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

  66. Whammer says:

    A little googling reveals some more info behind some of the sources from Tom K’s list that he got from Inhofe:

    Joanne Simpson: Here’s some of what she said that was left out of the quote: ” What should we as a nation do? Decisions have to be made on incomplete information. In this case, we must act on the recommendations of Gore and the IPCC because if we do not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and the climate models are right, the planet as we know it will in this century become unsustainable. But as a scientist I remain skeptical.” Is that an argument that is really consistent with the “Al Gore sucks” narrative that you’d like to promote???

    Dr. Patrick Frank — yes, he is a PhD in Chemistry. Is he a climate guy? No, he works for the Stanford Linear Accelerator center. So, regarding his 50 peer-reviewed articles, those would come from his work there, not from climate science work. Granted, he’s a smart guy and all, but this isn’t his field. The citation that says he is the author of “50 peer-reviewed articles” is clearly meant to make the reader think that he has published in the climate field, and he hasn’t.

    Hajo Smit admits that science is not his career: http://jules-klimaat.blogspot.com/2008/12/650-scientists-challenge-global-warming.html?showComment=1232205180000#c1500435118879423625

    So, again, what Tom K and others on this thread prove is that they are buying, hook line and sinker, the exact agnotology strategy that is being advanced in an effort to confuse the issues.

    The most credible anti-warming scientist has been Lindzen from MIT, and even he has softened his stance re anthropogenic warming over time. Plus, it is well-documented that he wouldn’t take a bet on whether the earth’s average temperature will be higher in the future, unless he got big odds in his favor. He would not put his money where his mouth is.

    What, exactly, will convince the Tom K’s of the world? I don’t want to wait around to find out.

  67. Mike in Nola says:


    What does Linus Pauling say on the issue? :)

    For the non-oldsters among us, see http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/pauling.html

  68. emmanuel117 says:

    Fed = the ultimate agnotologist.

  69. Expat says:

    Ha, you have been owned. Agnotology is an urban myth. Check out Snopes or wikipedia and you will see this whole thing is just an invention. I think the article first appeared in The Onion.

    Anyway, it is still pretty funny even if it is total bs.


    BR: Snopes: Sorry, no matches were found containing Agnotology.

    Wikipedia: is a neologism for the study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. The term was coined by Robert N. Proctor, a Stanford University professor specializing in the history of science and technology.

    Kind of a weird and creepy meta lie — your attempt to confuse people proves the insidious nature of Agnotology . . .

  70. pemorris says:

    Atmospheric physicist Fred Singer has written the best overview of the “denier’s” position: “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate” http://www.sepp.org/publications/NIPCC_final.pdf
    The argument for anthropogenic global warming rests heavily (some would say entirely) on climate models. Singer and colleagues have back-tested the computer climate models and proved that they don’t explain the climate of the past fifty years much less the next hundred, and published their work in peer-reviewed journals.

    A more exhaustive exposition of the unreliability of the models can be found in Patrick Frank’s article at:

    It is ironic that Proctor cites skepticism of human-caused climate change as an example of agnotology when it is the warmists who are stifling inquiry by declaring the debate “over” and by trying to marginalize the “deniers”.

    M.I.T.’s Richard Lindzen has written a fully referenced article on how the corruption of science has lead to the global warming fiasco.
    A forward, by Ed Ring, reads:
    “What historians will definitely wonder about in future centuries is how deeply flawed logic, obscured by shrewd and unrelenting propaganda, actually enabled a coalition of powerful special interests to convince nearly everyone in the world that CO2 from human industry was a dangerous, planet destroying toxin. It will be remembered as the greatest mass delusion in the history of the world – that CO2, the life of plants, was considered for a time to be a deadly poison.”

    Also see Robert Levine’s essay on the dangers of the IPCC’s monopoly on the climate issue in the Forum of the American Physical Society (pages 6 & 7) entitled: “Advocacy Threatens Scientific Integrity”:

  71. d4winds says:

    Agnotology–and Limbaugh/Palin is (are) its prophet(s).

  72. ottovbvs says:

    I’m way past trying to explain American irrationality about numerous subjects from it’s obsession with militarism to its belief in angels. Here are a few beliefs from some recent resarch and polls:

    25% of us think we’ve been re-incarnated…44% of us believe in ghosts…71% of us believe in angels…..40% of us believe God created all things in their present form in the last 10,000 years….40% of us are functionally illiterate… 20% of us believes the sun revolves around the earth…29% of us believes in flying saucers

    I read a few of the comments from TOMK and hope that when he passes over he will donate his brain to the scientific study of agnotology.

  73. batmando says:

    @ Tom K @ 6:55 pm
    speaking of numbers with no context….
    “31072 American scientists, including 9021 PhDs”
    in what fields? with what credentials?
    out of how many American scientist? world scientists?
    “settled science” defined as? by whom?

  74. Collectively, the responses to TOMK prove that global warming is a religion, not a science. Science never concludes a matter for the ages, prohibiting further inquiry. Further inquiry is what proper science is all about. That, and a healthy dose of skepticism along the way.

    Had Einstein not been skeptical that Newton had explained all there was to know about gravity, he might have never set his mind to figuring out the true nature of gravity, and we wouldn’t now have a better explanation (general relativity) for the universe than Newton offered.

    Anyone that wishes to preclude debate about anthropogenic global warming either a) has a vested interest (i.e., economic, “agnotological” interest in its acceptance as truth); or b) has adopted (due perhaps to the actions of those proselytizers in a) global warming theory as a secular religion.

    Science allows for skepticism, particularly for non-falsifiable theories. Religion does not.

  75. batmando says:

    @ AGG at 8:03 pm

    “Tom K,
    How’s tinkerbell?”

    Periously close to flaming
    Let’s lose the ad hominem stuff shall we?
    No need to incite the natives.

  76. Tom K says:

    It’s funny how people like to jump to conclusions > If you don’t believe man-caused global warming is settled science, you’re somehow as supporter of GWB’s policies.

    I also find it funny that the adherrence to the man-caused global warming religion can’t explain how global warming started long, long before the industrial age.

  77. Swampfox says:

    @Tom K.,

    Where’d you get the global warming quotes?

    Good job agnotologizing.

  78. Lugnut says:

    My PR rep can beat up your PR rep

  79. zitidiamond says:

    My mom used to bang on the bathroom door as she screamed that I would wear it out before I knew how to use it, while I masturbated, but I figured she was just fobbing off her agnotology on me because she wanted me out of the john because she had to go.

    Now that I’m 50, however, looking back on my conjugal life, I sometimes wonder whether she was not an agnotologist , but actually a truth teller.

  80. Whammer says:

    Tom K says:
    “I also find it funny that the adherrence to the man-caused global warming religion can’t explain how global warming started long, long before the industrial age.”

    Gee, what a revelation!! There used to be an ice age, and the earth warmed up on its own. Why didn’t anybody ever think of that before???? That proves that the theory of man-caused global warming is a hoax and a religion!!!

    Folks, this is exactly the point of the whole agnotology idea. The fact that Tom K hasn’t bothered to read anything that would explain the answer to his question is a testament to how well the whole strategy works. His question actually illustrates a very elementary point — natural changes can and do occur, and have been occurring forever. However, that does not mean man’s activities are irrelevant.

    There is nothing wrong with being skeptical. What is wrong is throwing a bunch of poorly-sourced, misleading information out there that is deliberately intended to confuse people. And that is what is happening. And, look, here’s Tom K and pemorris to prove how well it works! It must be Proctor who is the one that is full of crap………

    Fred Singer — in 1998, he said that there was no evidence the earth is warming. Then in 2003 he said the same thing. Then in 2007 he started to say “well, the earth is warming, but it is part of a 1500-year cycle”. A cycle that he can’t accurately document.

    Fred Singer was also an important guy for the folks who said CFCs don’t influence the ozone layer and who said second-hand smoke is not harmful. I’m not exactly sure why Fred Singer shows up so consistently as the skeptical scientist. I don’t know why Exxon gave him $10,000 either. I’m also not sure why he cooperated so closely with PR firms hired by tobacco companies. I’d hate to think that so many other scientists are wrong and Fred Singer is always right, and the tobacco and oil connections are just pure coincidences. ;-)

    Frankly, I would be delighted if there was convincing evidence that all this anthropogenic global warming stuff turned out to be wrong. I don’t have a dog in this fight, personally. However, the preponderance of the evidence is that global warming is real. It doesn’t mean that you need to listen to every forecast of every calamity and accept that those are true. But pretending that the whole thing is a myth or a hoax is just irresponsible.

  81. Tom K says:

    “However, the preponderance of the evidence is that global warming is real.”

    Whammer, you have a reading comprehension issue. I didn’t say global warming ISN’T real. Got it? The scientific argument is about causation, not temperture data.

    This is what I find so annoying about debating anyone on the left. If you question man-made global warming, you must somehow be a supporter of Bush’s Iraq policy, or his economic policy. If you offer contradictory arguments from others in the scientific community, you’re an idiot, they’re idiots, or you’re all part of an evil cabal to hell-bent on destroying the planet for the sake of profit.

    Keep clapping your hands over the your ears and chanting. Anyone who disagrees with you or offers a contrary opinion is a heretic and must be silenced. Debate cannot and will not be tolerated.

  82. I also am not convinced that the entire grant apparatus in climate science is not a corrupting factor that self-reinforces a predetermined conclusion, AKA studies that reinforce global warming theory get funded and those that don’t do not. I won’t go so far as to say that such corruption is intentional, but I will say that it’s something that folks should be more cognizant of and take pains to address. If folks want to dispute the scientific accuracy and rigor of tobacco studies funded by tobacco companies, then I likewise offer an equivalent dispute for environmental studies funded by academics and government agencies that could benefit from increased funding and power as a result.

    It may be fair to say that, in waiting for the proof of deleterious anthropomorphic climate change, that irreversible damage _may_ be done. It’s even fair IMO to say that there shouldn’t be unnecessary waste or pollution on simple ethical grounds. However, when it comes to providing legitimacy for overarching, massive assumption of authority by the state, I’m almost irreconcilably skeptical. Also, the green agenda is shot through with the sort of collectivist, anti-civilization Rousseauian garbage that needs to die, almost as if the communist golem was simply painted green and a fresh copy of some Al Gore book was put in its mouth.

  83. Tom K says:

    What’s interesting about the global warming debate is the advocates of cutting U.S. oil consumption could easily find common ground with conservative Republicans who see oil dependency as a critical national security issue. Instead, they demand an all or nothing approach, e.g. no new nuclear plants, strict limits on new natural gas exploration, etc.

    And if you think there’s a causation argument about global warming, the estimates on the near term economic impact of mandating dramatic reductions in CO2 are miles appart. Personally I don’t have much confidence in estimates from folks in Congress who can’t even estimate the cost of a Visitor’s Center with any degree of accuracy.

    One final thought on burning carbon-based fuels. Let’s assume the U.S. magically stopped burning oil tomorrow. Do your really think China, India and the developing world won’t continue to burn oil until the very last drop on earth has been used, so long it’s one of the least expensive sources of energy?

  84. @The Curmudgeon Says: January 22nd, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Collectively, the responses to TOMK prove that global warming is a religion, not a science. Science never concludes a matter for the ages, prohibiting further inquiry. Further inquiry is what proper science is all about. That, and a healthy dose of skepticism along the way.

    Sometimes I find myself hoping….no, praying, that the issue really were settled ;)

  85. Tom K says:


    You’re right, and all of these “less intellegent” people are wrong:

    “I am a skeptic…Global warming has become a new religion.” – Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Ivar Giaever.

    “Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical. “The main basis of the claim that man’s release of greenhouse gases is the cause of the warming is based almost entirely upon climate models. We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system” – Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to receive a PhD in meteorology, and formerly of NASA, who has authored more than 190 studies and has been called “among the most preeminent scientists of the last 100 years.”

    Warming fears are the “worst scientific scandal in the history…When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.” – UN IPCC Japanese Scientist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, an award-winning PhD environmental physical chemist

    “The IPCC has actually become a closed circuit; it doesn’t listen to others. It doesn’t have open minds… I am really amazed that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given on scientifically incorrect conclusions by people who are not geologists,” – Indian geologist Dr. Arun D. Ahluwalia at Punjab University and a board member of the UN-supported International Year of the Planet

    “So far, real measurements give no ground for concern about a catastrophic future warming.” – Scientist Dr. Jarl R. Ahlbeck, a chemical engineer at Abo Akademi University in Finland, author of 200 scientific publications and former Greenpeace member.

    “Anyone who claims that the debate is over and the conclusions are firm has a fundamentally unscientific approach to one of the most momentous issues of our time.” – Solar physicist Dr. Pal Brekke, senior advisor to the Norwegian Space Centre in Oslo. Brekke has published more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific articles on the sun and solar interaction with the Earth.

    “It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming.” – U.S Government Atmospheric Scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA.

    “Even doubling or tripling the amount of carbon dioxide will virtually have little impact, as water vapour and water condensed on particles as clouds dominate the worldwide scene and always will.” – . Geoffrey G. Duffy, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering of the University of Auckland, NZ.

    “After reading [UN IPCC chairman] Pachauri’s asinine comment [comparing skeptics to] Flat Earthers, it’s hard to remain quiet.” – Climate statistician Dr. William M. Briggs, who specializes in the statistics of forecast evaluation, serves on the American Meteorological Society’s Probability and Statistics Committee and is an Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review.

    “The Kyoto theorists have put the cart before the horse. It is global warming that triggers higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not the other way round…A large number of critical documents submitted at the 1995 U.N. conference in Madrid vanished without a trace. As a result, the discussion was one-sided and heavily biased, and the U.N. declared global warming to be a scientific fact,” Andrei Kapitsa, a Russian geographer and Antarctic ice core researcher.

    “Nature’s regulatory instrument is water vapor: more carbon dioxide leads to less moisture in the air, keeping the overall GHG content in accord with the necessary balance conditions.” – Prominent Hungarian Physicist and environmental researcher Dr. Miklós Zágoni reversed his view of man-made warming and is now a skeptic. Zágoni was once Hungary’s most outspoken supporter of the Kyoto Protocol.

    “For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?” – Geologist Dr. David Gee the chairman of the science committee of the 2008 International Geological Congress who has authored 130 plus peer reviewed papers, and is currently at Uppsala University in Sweden.

    “Gore prompted me to start delving into the science again and I quickly found myself solidly in the skeptic camp…Climate models can at best be useful for explaining climate changes after the fact.” – Meteorologist Hajo Smit of Holland, who reversed his belief in man-made warming to become a skeptic, is a former member of the Dutch UN IPCC committee.

    “The quantity of CO2 we produce is insignificant in terms of the natural circulation between air, water and soil… I am doing a detailed assessment of the UN IPCC reports and the Summaries for Policy Makers, identifying the way in which the Summaries have distorted the science.” – South Afican Nuclear Physicist and Chemical Engineer Dr. Philip Lloyd, a UN IPCC co-coordinating lead author who has authored over 150 refereed publications.

    “All those urging action to curb global warming need to take off the blinkers and give some thought to what we should do if we are facing global cooling instead” – Geophysicist Dr. Phil Chapman, an astronautical engineer and former NASA astronaut, served as staff physicist at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

    “CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another….Every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so…Global warming, as a political vehicle, keeps Europeans in the driver’s seat and developing nations walking barefoot.” – Dr. Takeda Kunihiko, vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University in Japan.

    “Whatever the weather, it’s not being caused by global warming. If anything, the climate may be starting into a cooling period.” Atmospheric scientist Dr. Art V. Douglas, former Chair of the Atmospheric Sciences Department at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and is the author of numerous papers for peer-reviewed publications.

    “But there is no falsifiable scientific basis whatever to assert this warming is caused by human-produced greenhouse gasses because current physical theory is too grossly inadequate to establish any cause at all.” – Chemist Dr. Patrick Frank, who has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed articles.

    “The ‘global warming scare’ is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making. It has no place in the Society’s activities.” – Award-Winning NASA Astronaut/Geologist and Moonwalker Jack Schmitt who flew on the Apollo 17 mission and formerly of the Norwegian Geological Survey and for the U.S. Geological Survey.

    “Earth has cooled since 1998 in defiance of the predictions by the UN-IPCC….The global temperature for 2007 was the coldest in a decade and the coldest of the millennium…which is why ‘global warming’ is now called ‘climate change.’” – Climatologist Dr. Richard Keen of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado.

    “I have yet to see credible proof of carbon dioxide driving climate change, yet alone man-made CO2 driving it. The atmospheric hot-spot is missing and the ice core data refute this. When will we collectively awake from this deceptive delusion?” – Dr. G LeBlanc Smith, a retired Principal Research Scientist with Australia’s Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

    “To many of us, there is no convincing evidence that carbon dioxide produced by humans has any influence on the Earth’s climate.”
    Dr. Mark L. Campbell
    Professor of chemistry at the U.S. Naval Academy