About Denial: Coping Mechanisms That Don’t Entirely Work

British green-business blogger James S Murray discusses the nature of argument with stubborn “sceptics”, suggests a taxonomy of possible responses discusses why none of them is really adequate, and urges businesses in particular to engage just the same:

writing about climate scepticism is a singularly depressing experience, simultaneously frustrating, futile, coarsening, and, worst of all, staggeringly boring. Frustrating, because you find yourself engaging with a school of thought that refuses to subscribe to normal rules of rational argument, has no qualms about embracing staggering illogical inconsistencies, and is committed to the use of discredited evidence to advance its cause. Futile, because you are arguing with a fundamentalist world view that will simply not correct its inherent flaws no matter how compelling the contrary evidence it is presented with. Coarsening, because with two sides of the climate “debate” that refuse to budge it inevitably leads to a degree of incivility on both sides; I have been accused of corruption, immorality, and, on one memorable occasion, treason for supporting climate science, and equally, whenever you engage with climate scepticism it is hard not to reveal that you regard your opponents as either intellectually or ethically bankrupt.

But worse than all of that, is the sheer boredom. Almost every discussion between environmentalists and climate sceptics follows a remarkably predictable and circuitous path that proceeds in ever decreasing circles until someone (usually me) gets bored and walks away.

The problem is that, like it or not (and in case you haven’t guessed, I categorically do not) engagement with climate sceptic arguments is once again being forced upon environmentalists and green businesses.

In a follow-up article he suggests that “if you really cannot find compelling evidence that climate change is a serious problem … you are not looking very hard.”

All very well-written, cogent, and worthy of your attention. Unfortunately it’s entitled James’ Non-Empty Blog, though, so Dr. Annan ought to sue. Anyway a new subscription for me, and a big hat tip to How Zow.


  1. I like this way of spelling out "the problem", even if it's not ze problem. There is no such thing as ze problem. Thinking in terms of ze problem is a problem.

    Look how ze problem is stated. Nothing in that editorial directly supports this. Exactly what engagement is being forced upon environmentalists?

    From the main text, we get that this is an argument. But what kind of argument exactly? The author presumes we ought to have a rational discussion. If I learned something from my never ending audit, it is the opposite: nobody should expect that.

    These are debates, folks. Debates do not belong to dialectics, but to eristics:


    It is about time debaters expect the Spanish Inquisition.

    At the very least, they should stop whining when it comes.

    When a humane exchange comes, consider yourself lucky. My own experience tells me it comes late at night, when people get more contemplative. So my advice would be: if debating drags you down, close the computer during the day.

    There's this much we can do about the Spanish Inquisition.

  2. Pingback: Another Week of GW News, October 21, 2012 – A Few Things Ill Considered

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.