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Denial 101x, Making Sense of Climate Science Denial
John Cook and others, University of Queensland
If you wish you could do a better job responding to the arguments of climate
change deniers, this collection of interviews will give you lots of help. (It
isn't easy to navigate to particular topics, as most are identified by person
speaking.) Associated with an excellent MOOC ("Learn to make sense of the
science and to respond to climate change denial") led by John Cook, creator of
the essential SkepticalScience.com.
(various lengths, 2015)
Living in Denial
Sometimes denial is not a matter of ignorance, politics, or even cognitive
resistance, but instead a shared, socially-constructed matter of cultural
identity and the emotional demands of ordinary life. This lucid talk
introduces the work described in University of Oregon sociologist Norgaard's
enlightening 2011 book Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and
(36 minutes, 2013)
When Knowledge Isn't Power
How and why a few powerful people have confused the public and policy makers
about climate change, and thus prevented effective national and international
action. This lucid talk (given at Colorado State University) tells a
simplified (and reordered) version of the excellent book she wrote with fellow
historian Erik Conway, Merchants of Doubt.
(60 minutes, 2013)
Climate of Doubt
A thorough and informative look at how deniers have worked to convince the
public to doubt that climate change is real, despite the overwhelming
scientific evidence and consensus. Lots of interviews are included in this
video and transcriptions.
(54 minutes, 2012)
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines
Michael Mann. Columbia University Press, 2012, 395pp.
Highly readable and informative, Mann's book tells two interlocking stories:
how his part of climate science works‒how he and his colleagues came to
know what they know‒and how the political attacks on this science, and
these scientists, unfolded. The second story is the more dramatic, and
certainly important for any concerned citizen to know; but the first is also
quite interesting, probably especially for nonscientist readers.
||articles & essays
Knowledge, Ignorance and Climate Change
N. Angel Pinillos, The Stone, New York Times, November 2018
Very interesting, and not the usual thing one reads about climate doubt: "As
a philosopher . . . I can tell you how it's possible to get ourselves to
sincerely doubt things, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. I also have
suggestions about how to fix this."
Climate-Denying Republicans are Dead Wrong about this Carbon Reality
Mark Kaufman, Mashable, October 2018
How much of the global warming we are seeing is caused by humans? All of it.
How do we know? Read this article. Pass it along to folks who genuinely doubt
our influence and are curious about the reality.
Denier Roundup, Daily Climate Hot News, Climate Nexus
Among the things this group does is put out a (week)daily compilation of
headlines and links for climate news, and one of the things the newsletter
includes is a well-informed, pun-filled, and often amusingly snarky response
to "events" in the denier-sphere. Sign up at the link above to receive these
The Disinformation Playbook: How Business Interests Deceive, Misinform, and Buy Influence at the Expense of Public Health and Safety
The Union of Concerned Scientists, October 2017
This lively compilation of tactics for spreading dangerous disinformation,
while it is not limited to climate change, is very useful for this critical
issue. The Fake, the Blitz, the Diversion, the Screen, and the Fix: how these
tactics operate, examples of who has used them, and ideas for how to counter
Exxon‒The Road Not Taken
Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer, Inside Climate News, September 2015
Ever wonder what Exxon really knew about fossil fuels and global climate
disruption‒and when they knew it? Turns out they knew a lot, a long time
ago, and from their own scientists, well before they turned their considerable
resources to deceiving the public. (For a response from ExxonMobil's Richard
click here.) This thorough, multi-part series, based on
eight months of investigation into primary sources, raises, for some, the
question whether the fossil fuel industry is guilty‒like the tobacco
as outlined here by reporter Dana Nuccitelli in The Guardian. For another
deeply-researched story, this one about Exxon's relations with its
shareholders on climate change resolutions, see Inside Climate News's
Climate Accountability Project.
Here Is What Happens When You Try to Replicate Climate Contrarian Papers
Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian, August 2015
What does one have to do to repeat the results of the very small number of
papers at odds with the overwhelming consensus that current climate change is
human caused? In one case: 6,000 years of data and keep only 4,000 years. A
very useful article describing such a project.
My 1975 'Cooling World' Story Doesn't Make Today's Climate Scientists Wrong
Peter Gwynne, Inside Science Minds, May 2014
On the contrary, says the writer of the story that keeps being brought up by
those who dispute today's overwhelming scientific consensus. This column
should interest historians of science and public attitudes and science
journalists as well as those who seek to correct misinformation. As Gwynne
notes, "the issue raises questions about the relationship between science
writers and scientists as well as the attitudes toward science of individuals
with political agendas."
How Newsweek's "Global Cooling" Story Got its Legs
Doug Struck, The Daily Climate, January 2014
That 1975 story about global cooling? Here it is, along with its context.
Institutionalizing Delay: Foundation Funding and the Creation of U.S. Climate Change Counter-Movement Organizations
Robert J. Brulle, Climatic Change, December 2013
Start with the news release link above for a readable summary of a study of
how a lot of climate-denial funding has recently gone "dark"‒that is,
untraceable. The full academic article is
Who Created the Global Warming "Pause"? How Climate Skeptics and the Media‒With a Little Inadvertent Help from Scientists Themselves‒Forged a Misleading Narrative
Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, October 2013
An excellent story about how this misleading story developed, with lots of
links. Read it if you're interested in the complications in communicating
science in a tough, politicized environment‒or if you're confused about
the scientific story itself.
Debunking the Renewables "Disinformation Campaign"
Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute, July 2013
This excellent piece about the pervasive pattern of inaccurate and misleading
news coverage of the economic benefits (and other aspects) of renewable
energy should serve as a heads-up for news readers everywhere.
The Debunking Handbook
John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky
This short, clear piece offers excellent research-supported advice for
debunking misinformation and incorrect "myths" about climate change (and other
topics), including tips for avoiding the surprising but real backfire effects
that tend to reinforce myths even when the intent is to replace them with
facts. Cook is a climate change communication specialist; Lewandowsky is a
cognitive scientist; both well-qualified authors are Australian.
The Koch Club
Charles Lewis, Eric Holmberg, Alexia Campbell, Lydia Beyoud, Investigative Reporting Workshop, July 2013
An eye-opening investigative report about the large and mostly hidden
influence of Charles and David Koch (and their corporation, Koch Industries),
including their efforts to block Congressional action on climate change
involving a "no climate tax pledge." For a good description of the report
(which is itself not long), see
this blog by New Yorker
writer Jane Mayer.
Secret Funding Helped Build Vast Network of Climate Denial Thinktanks
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, February 2013
How "anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups
working to discredit climate change science."
Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong
William D. Nordhaus, New York Review of Books, March 22, 2012
Straightforward refutation of the six main points made by skeptics in an
opinion piece in the
Wall Street Journal, written by an economist from Yale whose work they
misunderstand and distort.
"Is this article consistent with the latest thinking and knowledge in
science?" "Would experts in this field endorse the main message of this
article?" If such questions interest you, this site may have answers for you
from scientists in relevant fields, who rate the credibility of articles
published for the general public. While credibility ratings are most often
low for pieces that downplay climate change, the site also lists articles
that have been called out by scientists as
With the motto "Spread truth. Destroy Denial," this arm of the Climate Reality
Project aims to make it easier to respond intelligently to both accurate and
inaccurate climate stories in the comment streams of online media.
Probably the best single source on this topic. Along with terrific
information, resources, and graphics, they offer a phone app for those who
want on-the-go corrections to bits of dis- and misinformation.
How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the Most Common Skeptical
Arguments on Global Warming
Coby Beck, Grist.org
Ever find yourself wanting to respond with solid information to somebody who
doesn't "believe in" climate change? Want help replying to letters in your
local newspaper that strike you as misinformed? The series of responses by
Coby Beck, posted on Grist.org, is the place to look. Indexed in several
useful ways: by "stages of denial" ("climate change is natural"), by
"scientific topic" ("scientific process"), by "types of argument" ("cherry
picking"), and by "levels of sophistication" ("naive"). Well-informed,
crystal-clear, and fun to read.
"Clearing the pollution that clouds climate science." Includes a database of
individuals involved in the denial industry; a media center; and videos.
Mooney's good blog on the subject is here, too.
Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful
Stephan Lewandowsky, Ullrich K. H. Ecker, Colleen M. Seifert,
Norbert Schwarz, and John Cook. Psychological Science and the Public
This is an excellent scholarly overview of an important topic: lucid,
informative, and packed with references to relevant studies.
Symposium on Climate Change Skepticism & Denial
American Behavioral Scientist (June 2013, vol. 57:6); Riley E. Dunlap, Special Editor
Seven scholarly articles on this subject, available through major
universities, their databases, or for a fee. Edited and introduced by Riley
Dunlap, a sociologist and leading scholar on the sources and nature of climate