Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Making Sense of Climate Denial - An Online Course

The Dake Page is focused on communicating science and exposing climate denialism, so we are happy to see the presence of an online course by John Cook entitled "Making Sense of Climate Denial." The course begins today (April 28, 2015), so there is still time to join up and participate.

And participate you should. Designed as a MOOC, a "Massive Open Online Course," the course can be taken for free from any computer accessing the internet. It runs for seven weeks and includes a variety of informational videos, quizzes, and supporting materials. It's a must for anyone who wants to understand both man-made climate change and how some folks remain in denial of climate science.

It's originator is John Cook, best known for his website Skeptical Science, one of the most valuable sites out there for debunking climate denial. For the MOOC, Cook has brought in a great cast of science communicators, as well as interviewed many climate scientists. The MOOC even has its own Facebook community page.

The first week went online April 28, 2015 and focuses on introducing both the course and climate denial. Cook and others examine the consensus, the psychology of denial, and the spread of denial. Through the ample use of video, each section delves into the science, ways to examine the science, and how deniers misrepresent and misunderstand the science.

For example, in the first section on Consensus, there are a series of videos that look at:
  • Consensus of Evidence
  • Consensus of Scientists
  • Consensus of Papers
  • Knowledge-Based Consensus

The Knowledge-Based Consensus video delves into three important components of scientific consensus - consilience of evidence (i.e., different lines of evidence lead to the same concluson), social calibration (i.e., everyone uses the same language and standards of evidence), and social diversity (i.e., evidence comes from a variety of people and regions). The sum total of all of the evidence, when it unequivocally leads to a conclusion, is what becomes the consensus.

The section on Psychology of Denial examines ideological biases, the five characteristics of science denial, and how deniers attempt to block any action. The Spread of Denial section examines the manufacture of doubt, the history of misinformation campaigns, and various ways deniers use the media to misinform the public.

All of these topics have been discussed here on The Dake Page in various forms. John Cook's MOOC addresses them in an organized and highly informational way. I strongly recommend everyone interested in climate science sign up for this course.

Making Sense of Climate Denial

Feel free to wander around The Dake Page for more information and background on Exposing Climate Denialism.

[Note: Because John Cook's MOOC starts today, this issue of The Dake Page is being published on Tuesday. It will return to its normal Thursday publishing schedule next week.]