Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chris Mooney still gets it hilariously wrong: Still projecting

I reproduce below some excerpts from a long article about the psychological theories of Chris Mooney. It is headed: "The Science of Fox News: Why Its Viewers are the Most Misinformed". I first reproduce Mooney's "proof" that conservatives are wrong to be skeptical about global warming and then excerpt his explanation of why that is.

Note that his only evidence for conservatives being wrong about global warming is that they DISAGREE with the authorities on the subject. He then explains that this is because they are authoritarian! The good old Green/Left black-is-white reasoning again! Ya gotta laugh!

Just a small point: He relies heavily in his thinking on the work by Robert Altemeyer on "Right-wing authoritarianism". He evidently overlooks the fact that, like most Leftist psychologists, Altemeyer has no idea what conservatives actually think. As a result, by Altemeyer's own admission, he found that his measure of "Right-wing authoritarianism" did NOT correlate with vote. In other words, about half of Altemeyer's "right wingers" actually voted for Leftist political parties. You can't make this stuff up!

For a short history of the Right-wing authoritarianism trope see here. Background on Altemeyer here.

And Mooney overlooks the point that a tendency to read only what suits you is as at least as good a picture of Warmists as it is of skeptics. He is projecting his own tendencies onto skeptics, in other words

Global Warming

At least two studies have documented that Fox News viewers are more misinformed about this subject.

In a late 2010 survey, Stanford University political scientist Jon Krosnick and visiting scholar Bo MacInnis found that “more exposure to Fox News was associated with more rejection of many mainstream scientists’ claims about global warming, with less trust in scientists, and with more belief that ameliorating global warming would hurt the U.S. economy.” Frequent Fox viewers were less likely to say the Earth’s temperature has been rising and less likely to attribute this temperature increase to human activities. In fact, there was a 25 percentage point gap between the most frequent Fox News watchers (60%) and those who watch no Fox News (85%) in whether they think global warming is “caused mostly by things people do or about equally by things people do and natural causes.”

In a much more comprehensive study released in late 2011 (too late for Stewart or for PolitiFact), American University communications scholar Lauren Feldman and her colleagues reported on their analysis of a 2008 national survey, which found that “Fox News viewing manifests a significant, negative association with global warming acceptance.” Viewers of the station were less likely to agree that “most scientists think global warming is happening” and less likely to think global warming is mostly caused by human activities, among other measures.....

Mooney's theory:

Festinger suggested that once we’ve settled on a core belief, this ought to shape how we gather information. More specifically, we are likely to try to avoid encountering claims and information that challenge that belief, because these will create cognitive dissonance. Instead, we should go looking for information that affirms the belief. The technical (and less than ideal) term for this phenomenon is “selective exposure”: what it means is that we selectively choose to be exposed to information that is congenial to our beliefs, and to avoid “inconvenient truths” that are uncongenial to them.

When are people most likely to seek out self-affirming information? Hart found that they’re most vulnerable to selective exposure if they have defensive goals—for instance, being highly committed to a preexisting view, and especially a view that is tied to a person’s core values. Another defensive motivation identified in Hart’s study was closed-mindedness, which makes a great deal of sense. It is probably part of the definition of being closed-minded, or dogmatic, that you prefer to consume information that agrees with what you already believe.

So who’s closed-minded? Multiple studies have shown that political conservatives—e.g., Fox viewers--tend to have a higher need for closure. Indeed, this includes a group called right-wing authoritarians, who are increasingly prevalent in the Republican Party. This suggests they should also be more likely to select themselves into belief-affirming information streams, like Fox News or right-wing talk radio or the Drudge Report. Indeed, a number of research results support this idea.

Selective exposure has also been directly tested several times in authoritarians. In one case, researchers at Stony Brook University primed more and less authoritarian subjects with thoughts of their own mortality. Afterwards, the authoritarians showed a much stronger preference than non-authoritarians for reading an article that supported their existing view on the death penalty, rather than an article presenting the opposing view or a “balanced” take on the issue. As the authors concluded: “highly authoritarian individuals, when threatened, attempt to reduce anxiety by selectively exposing themselves to attitude-validating information, which leads to ‘stronger’ opinions that are more resistant to attitude change.”

The psychologist Robert Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba has also documented an above average amount of selective exposure in right wing authoritarians. In one case, he gave students a fake self-esteem test, in which they randomly received either above average or below average scores. Then, everyone—the receivers of both low and high scores—was given the opportunity to say whether he or she would like to read a summary of why the test was valid. The result was striking: Students who scored low on authoritarianism wanted to learn about the validity of the test regardless of how they did on it. There was virtually no difference between high and low scorers. But among the authoritarian students, there was a big gap: 73 percent of those who got high self-esteem scores wanted to read about the test’s validity, while only 47 percent of those who got low self-esteem scores did.

Authoritarians, Altemeyer concludes, “maintain their beliefs against challenges by limiting their experiences, and surrounding themselves with sources of information that will tell them they are right.”

The evidence on selective exposure, as well as the clear links between closed-mindedness and authoritarianism, gives good grounds for believing that this phenomenon should be more common and more powerful on the political right. Lest we leap to the conclusion that Fox News is actively misinforming its viewers most of the time—rather than enabling them through its very existence—that’s something to bear in mind.


Unseasonable cold in Australia

Due, no doubt, to global warming. Warming causes cold, don't you see? It's like the socialist Hitler being a Rightist or the ban on plastic bags saving trees: Easy

IF you ducked outside this morning for coffee and mistook your quiet Australian street for an icy plain in Siberia, there's good reason. Today is cold. Really cold. Especially if you live in Canberra.

But first, let's back up a bit.

1. This is Australia. This is not England. Australia is meant to be warm. England is meant to be cold.

2. It's April. The average temperature is supposedly 22.4 degrees in Sydney, 20.3 in Melbourne and 17.3 in Hobart.

3. Hobart is in Tasmania, which is further away from the equator than mainland Australia, so it gets pretty cold down there.

With these three irrefutable facts in mind, we ask: why is it so pitifully freezing today, on Tuesday April 10?

Sydney commuters confronted a wintry chill of just 12 degrees this morning, re-enforced by nasty, nasty winds.

The temp was even lower down south, where Victorians put on a couple extra layers beneath their Snuggies to brace the 9.4-degree wake-up surprise.

Brisbane's 19 degrees, but it's always warm there, and so too the 25-degree anomaly that is Darwin.

But it gets worse. Hobart's finest are rocking around in 7 degrees. And if you're a federal politician, or otherwise a resident of Canberra, it's just 1 degree.


The snow sectors copped it the worst. Thredbo got down to -5.5 degrees overnight. Minus degrees? Why are we talking about minus temperatures, in Australia, in April?

Pesky terms like "cold front" and "wind chill" are partly to blame, which are particularly relevant for Victorians, according to the Weather Channel.

"Cold south-westerly winds in the fronts wake also brought frequent showers to southern districts, which fell as snow above an elevation of about 800 metres," said senior meteorologist Tom Saunders.

"The frigid polar air also produced small hail and thunder over central and eastern districts. The coldest air will move out into the Tasman Sea today, allowing the showers to ease and daytime temperatures to gradually rise over the coming days but overnight minimums will remain chilly for the next few nights."

The Snowy Mountains lived up to their name by delivering the first snow of the season to NSW.

"We usually get some colder outbreaks about this time of year," said a spokesperson from the Bureau of Meteorology. "It was fairly cool - I know that myself because I rode into work on my scooter."


EPA gets it precisely wrong about warming and health

The black-is-white Green/Left thinking yet again

Over at the website Master Resource, WCR’s Chip Knappenberger takes in intriguing look into whether EPA regulations aimed at mitigating extreme weather outbreaks through limitations on greenhouse gas emissions are really such a good idea.

New research has just been published, adding to an existing set of findings, that shows declines in heat-related mortality in the face of rising temperature. A logical extension of these results is that the more people become familiar with high heat, the better they become at dealing with it. The net result is that the risks form heat waves decline and public health and welfare improves.

This real-world string of events runs contrary to the EPA’s insistence that human emissions of greenhouse endanger the public health and welfare citing “longer, more intense and more frequent heat waves” as one of the resulting threats.

In his Master Resource article, Knappenberger explores this concept in more depth, as well as touching upon recent results in the psychological literature that lend support to the concept that “whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

The same adage is quite appropriate for climate change and extreme weather.

Be sure to see the entire article “Is the EPA Endangering Public Health and Welfare by Attempting to Mitigate Extreme Weather?” which can be found here.


Follow Up: Revisiting the 2010 IPCC Press Release on Economics of Disasters

Roger Pielke Jr

As I prepared for my lunch seminar which I am giving later today. I had a chance to revisit the press release issued by the IPCC on January 25, 2010 in response to an article that appeared in the UK Sunday Times one day earlier which detailed failures of the IPCC AR4 related to claims made about climate change and disasters.

The Sunday Times article was about how the 2007 IPCC AR4 mishandled the issue of the economic toll of disasters and climate change. With the advantage of hindsight, we can now see that the claims made in the Sunday Times article have been completely vindicated and the IPCC press release was full of misinformation (to put it kindly).  This post has the details.

The IPCC press release of 26 January 2010 started out as follows (PDF):
The January 24 Sunday Times ran a misleading and baseless attacking the way the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC handled an important question concerning recent trends in economic losses from climate-related disasters
What did the Sunday Times article claim?
The United Nations climate science panel faces new controversy for wrongly linking global warming to an increase in the number and severity of natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.

It based the claims on an unpublished report that had not been subjected to routine scientific scrutiny — and ignored warnings from scientific advisers that the evidence supporting the link too weak. The report's own authors later withdrew the claim because they felt the evidence was not strong enough. . .

The new controversy also goes back to the IPCC's 2007 report in which a separate section warned that the world had "suffered rapidly rising costs due to extreme weather-related events since the 1970s".

It suggested a part of this increase was due to global warming and cited the unpublished report, saying: "One study has found that while the dominant signal remains that of the significant increases in the values of exposure at risk, once losses are normalised for exposure, there still remains an underlying rising trend."

The Sunday Times has since found that the scientific paper on which the IPCC based its claim had not been peer reviewed, nor published, at the time the climate body issued its report.

When the paper was eventually published, in 2008, it had a new caveat. It said: "We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and catastrophe losses."

Despite this change the IPCC did not issue a clarification ahead of the Copenhagen climate summit last month. It has also emerged that at least two scientific reviewers who checked drafts of the IPCC report urged greater caution in proposing a link between climate change and disaster impacts — but were ignored.
None of these claims are "misleading and baseless" but are factually correct. (Note that full text of the Times article can be found here.)

In its press release, the IPCC explained its position by re-asserting what was claimed in the report:
one study detected an increase in economic losses, corrected for values at risk, but that other studies have not detected such a trend
We now know that the "study" that was cited by the IPCC (a white paper from a workshop that I had organized) did not contain any analysis of trends. Instead, that paper was intentionally miscited by one of the chapter's authors to circumvent the deadline for inclusion of relevant publications. When the miscited paper actually did appear in the literature it said this:
“We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and normalized catastrophe losses.“
Thus, the paper that the IPCC wanted to cite did not say what the was claimed in a specially invented graph that was made up for the report but which did not appear in the miscited paper. Further, the IPCC intentionally miscited it to get it into the report in the first place. Three bad moves.

The IPCC press release also said that
In writing, reviewing, and editing this section, IPCC procedures were carefully followed to produce the policy-relevant assessment that is the IPCC mandate.
The IPCC did not follow its procedures for citing grey literature, for following its own deadline for publications, for proper citation of source material and included a graph that cannot be found in any literature anywhere. The IPCC press release was thus wrong again -- the procedures were ignored, not "carefully followed."

The bottom line is that the Sunday Times article has proven correct comprehensively on the substantive and procedural aspects of the IPCC's failures (the substance of which has recently been reaffirmed by the IPCC SREX report).

The IPCC 26 January 2010 press release still sits uncorrected on the IPCC website (here in PDF). If the IPCC has a commitment to getting things right,. shouldn't it correct "baseless and misleading" claims that it has made?


The Ideology of Catastrophe

These are not great souls who alert us to troubles but tiny minds who wish us suffering if we refuse to listen to them


As an asteroid hurtles toward Earth, terrified citizens pour into the streets of Brussels to stare at the mammoth object growing before their eyes. Soon, it will pass harmlessly by—but first, a strange old man, Professor Philippulus, dressed in a white sheet and wearing a long beard, appears, beating a gong and crying: "This is a punishment; repent, for the world is ending!"

We smile at the silliness of this scene from the Tintin comic strip "L'√Čtoile Myst√©rieuse," published in Belgium in 1941. Yet it is also familiar, since so many people in both Europe and the United States have recently convinced themselves that the End is nigh. Professor Philippulus has managed to achieve power in governments, the media and high places generally. Constantly, he spreads fear: of progress, science, demographics, global warming, technology, food. In five years or in 10 years, temperatures will rise, Earth will be uninhabitable, natural disasters will multiply, the climate will bring us to war, and nuclear plants will explode.

Man has committed the sin of pride; he has destroyed his habitat and ravaged the planet; he must atone.

My point is not to minimize our dangers. Rather, it is to understand why apocalyptic fear has gripped so many of our leaders, scientists and intellectuals, who insist on reasoning and arguing as though they were following the scripts of mediocre Hollywood disaster movies.

Over the last half-century, leftist intellectuals have identified two great scapegoats for the world's woes. First, Marxism designated capitalism as responsible for human misery. Second, "Third World" ideology, disappointed by the bourgeois indulgences of the working class, targeted the West, supposedly the inventer of slavery, colonialism and imperialism.

The guilty party that environmentalism now accuses—mankind itself, in its will to dominate the planet—is essentially a composite of the previous two, a capitalism invented by a West that oppresses peoples and destroys the Earth.

Environmentalism sees itself as the fulfillment of all earlier critiques. "There are only two solutions," Bolivian president Evo Morales declared in 2009. "Either capitalism dies, or Mother Earth dies."

"Our house is burning, but we are not paying attention," said Jacques Chirac, then president of France, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. "Nature, mutilated, overexploited, cannot recover, and we refuse to admit it."

Sir Martin Rees, a British astrophysicist and former president of the Royal Society, gives humanity a 50% chance of surviving beyond the 21st century. Oncologists and toxicologists predict that the end of mankind should arrive even earlier, around 2060, thanks to a general sterilization of sperm.

One could cite such quotations forever, given the spread of apocalyptic literature. Authors, journalists, politicians and scientists compete in their portrayal of abomination and claim for themselves a hyperlucidity: They alone see the future clearly while others vegetate in the darkness.

The fear that these intellectuals spread is like a gluttonous enzyme that swallows up an anxiety, feeds on it, and then leaves it behind for new ones. When the Fukushima nuclear plant melted down after the enormous earthquake in Japan in March 2011, it only confirmed an existing anxiety that was looking for some content. In six months, some new concern will grip us: a pandemic, bird flu, the food supply, melting ice caps, cell-phone radiation.

The fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, with the press reporting, as though it were a surprise, that young people are haunted by the very concerns about global warming that the media continually broadcast. As in an echo chamber, opinion polls reflect the views promulgated by the media.

We are inoculated against anxiety by the repetition of the same themes, which become a narcotic we can't do without.

A time-honored strategy of cataclysmic discourse, whether performed by preachers or by propagandists, is the retroactive correction. This technique consists of accumulating a staggering amount of horrifying news and then—at the end—tempering it with a slim ray of hope.

First you break down all resistance; then you offer an escape route to your stunned audience. Thus the advertising copy for the Al Gore documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" reads: "Humanity is sitting on a time bomb. If the vast majority of the world's scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet's climate system into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced—a catastrophe of our own making."

Here are the means that the former vice president, like most environmentalists, proposes to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions: using low-energy light bulbs; driving less; checking your tire pressure; recycling; rejecting unnecessary packaging; adjusting your thermostat; planting a tree; and turning off electrical appliances. Since we find ourselves at a loss before planetary threats, we will convert our powerlessness into propitiatory gestures, which will give us the illusion of action. First the ideology of catastrophe terrorizes us; then it appeases us by proposing the little rituals of a post-technological animism.

But let's be clear: A cosmic calamity is not averted by checking tire pressure or sorting garbage.

Another contradiction in apocalyptic discourse is that, though it tries desperately to awaken us, to convince us of planetary chaos, it eventually deadens us, making our eventual disappearance part of our everyday routine. At first, yes, the kind of doom that we hear about—acidification of the oceans, pollution of the air—charges our calm existence with a strange excitement. But the certainty of the prophecies makes this effect short-lived.

We begin to suspect that the numberless Cassandras who prophesy all around us do not intend to warn us so much as to condemn us.

In classical Judaism, the prophet sought to give new life to God's cause against kings and the powerful. In Christianity, millenarian movements embodied a hope for justice against a church wallowing in luxury and vice. But in a secular society, a prophet has no function other than indignation. So it happens that he becomes intoxicated with his own words and claims a legitimacy with no basis, calling down the destruction that he pretends to warn against.

You'll get what you've got coming! That is the death wish that our misanthropes address to us. These are not great souls who alert us to troubles but tiny minds who wish us suffering if we have the presumption to refuse to listen to them. Catastrophe is not their fear but their joy. It is a short distance from lucidity to bitterness, from prediction to anathema.

Another result of the doomsayers' certainty is that their preaching, by inoculating us against the poison of terror, brings about petrification. The trembling that they want to inculcate falls flat. Anxiety has the last word. We were supposed to be alerted; instead, we are disarmed. This may even be the goal of the noisy panic: to dazzle us in order to make us docile. Instead of encouraging resistance, it propagates discouragement and despair. The ideology of catastrophe becomes an instrument of political and philosophical resignation.


Less Than 1 in 6 Americans Frequently Washes Grocery Totes Increasing Risk for Food Poisoning

So plastic bags are healthier

Reusable grocery totes are a popular, eco-friendly choice to transport groceries, but only 15 percent of Americans regularly wash their bags. Most users are inadvertently creating a breeding zone for harmful bacteria, according to a new survey by the Home Food Safety program, a collaboration between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) and ConAgra Foods.

"Cross-contamination occurs when juices from raw meats or germs from unclean objects come in contact with cooked or ready-to-eat foods like breads or produce," says registered dietitian and Academy spokesperson Ruth Frechman. "Unwashed grocery bags are lingering with bacteria which can easily contaminate your foods."

Each year, 48 million Americans are affected by food poisoning caused by foodborne pathogens such as salmonella, listeria and E. coli.

"Food poisoning can easily be prevented with practical steps, such as cleaning grocery totes and separating raw meats from ready-to-eat foods when shopping, cooking, serving and storing foods," Frechman says.

According to Frechman, bacteria can be eliminated by: • Frequently washing your grocery tote, either in the washing machine or by hand with hot, soapy water; • Cleaning all areas where you place your totes, such as the kitchen counter; • Storing totes in a clean, dry location; and • Avoiding leaving empty totes in the trunk of a vehicle.

"When grocery shopping, wrap meat, poultry and fish in plastic bags before placing in the tote, and use two different easy to identify totes; one for raw meats and one for ready-to-eat foods," Frechman says.

It's also important to separate raw meats from ready-to-eat foods when preparing food, she says. To stay safe in the kitchen, use two cutting boards: one strictly to cut raw meat, poultry and seafood; the other for ready-to-eat foods, like breads and vegetables.

"Don't confuse them, and always wash boards thoroughly in hot, soapy water or in the dishwasher after each use," she says. "Discard old cutting boards that have cracks, crevices and excessive knife scars."



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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