The Sciences

Rush Limbaugh, ClimateGate, and Being Certain You're Right

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJun 13, 2011 8:17 PM


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My latest DeSmogBlog post is about Rush Limbaugh's stunning recent exchange--blogged about also below--with New Hampshire resident Michael Hillinger over the reality of global warming. I just couldn't get over it--Rush is so incredibly sure of himself, and his apparent basis for being sure of himself ("ClimateGate") is such a flimsy basis...that the whole thing, to my mind, needed to be explained. So I bring up the concept of "seizing and freezing":

Remember what things were like before [ClimateGate] happened. We were coming off 2007, when Al Gore and the IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize. We’d just elected President Obama, who was backing cap-and-trade legislation and a Copenhagen deal. The science—and the policy—of global warming had all the momentum behind them. If you didn’t believe that the problem was real and needed to be addressed, you were in a pretty difficult position. ClimateGate was a true blessing in this regard for climate skeptics and deniers. It furnished a brand new excuse to dismiss it all. It was all a scam! Now of course, I am well aware that the evidence about what happened in “ClimateGate” doesn’t actually support this—that the scientists involved were vindicated, and so forth--but that’s still how ClimateGate was interpreted by many…including, it seems, Limbaugh. So “ClimateGate” was seized upon—and then, to borrow a term from psychology, after “seizing” “freezing” may have occurred for some. Minds were made up, and no new evidence was admissible—because “ClimateGate” proved it was all a hoax. Thus, whenever global warming comes up, we now hear “ClimateGate” cited endlessly, as a way of shutting down further consideration--as a vindication, even. And it's completely baffling, if you know (as we all do) that the science of climate is as strong as it ever was, the issue didn't go away, and "ClimateGate" doesn't really have any substantive significance.

You can read the full post here.

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