May 2008

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I applaud you. I think you are trying to raise the discussion from the actual issues to how we discuss the issues. Are people smart enough to talk about how we debate issues, or does it get to abstract? I think people in general are smart, and have been about the same level of smartness for the last 100,000 years or so. Let's raise the level of dialogue from demonizing people to understanding each other.


I didn't do economics, and Cognitive Dissonance is my middle name(s) [sic]

Lazy Boy

OK Scott, let's drop this charade and call a spade a spade. Cognitive Dissonance is just a politically correct way of saying obtuse.

And I don't mean it in a derogatory way but just as a statement of fact. Being smart is way overrated. I meet very successful and respected obtuse people everyday. For some, being obtuse is the very reason why they became so successful in the first place.

Although very difficult and potentially harmful to the patient, it is possible to cure someone of their obtuseness. It’s called a cephalocolectomy. It’s a fairly simple operation that consists of removing one’s cranium from their rectum. The side effects of this procedure often leave the patient with an overwhelming sense of guilt. In some cases the guilt is so unbearable that the patient will violently reinsert their cranium back up their rectum with such force that any future attempt to perform a cephalocolectomy will invariably fail. People afflicted by this latest condition will often refer to it as certainty, holy truth and righteousness.

Lazy Boy


[I've written that quantum physics and string theory sound sketchy to me. But at least with quantum physics, the math works. That's a lot different from showing the non-expert some photos of bones pretending anyone can know if one descended from the other or was just a cousin. -- Scott]

Ah, but the math in Quantum Physics and String Theory works ONLY when you add (as yet not even glimpsed, but possible) new dimensions. That is - as skeptics say - a solution that's more complicated than the problem.

It could still be true, but we have to find those other dimensions before we say it's real, like we had to find Dark Matter or Super Massive Black Holes...


so wonderful blog on learning something, No matter economics, law, or commercial.when learing certain suject,it always needs persistent, and patience, especially the language studying, which cause much more. Just as some one show in


You say:
"It looks to me like a classic case of cognitive dissonance . They literally couldn’t recognize that the economist was on their side because he suggested considering both the positive and negative effects of global warming."

But the economist certainly was not on their side. For Maher and the others, the important thing is that a policy of austerity be introduced, because they consider it morally right. Global Warming is just the excuse. Global Warming is true because it justifies austerity. If Lomberg or anyone disagrees with austerity he is not on their side, whatever he says about the climate. By arguing against austerity, he is removing the reason for Global Warming to be considered true, and therefore he is anti-Global-Warming. Denier! Burn Him!


Or you could be an engineer see neither side.

Ken Lovell

While not having a go at economists, many of whom can be quite sensible when they can discard their absurd assumptions about markets tending towards equilibrium and people being rational economic actors, it's worth pointing out that Lomborg doesn't seem to be one, unless the term is so wide that it covers anyone who's ever taken any economics courses in which case there must be hundreds of millions of the buggers out there. I for example studied economics for three years at undergraduate level but would never call myself an economist.

According to Wikipedia:

'Bjørn Lomborg spent a year as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia, earned a Master's degree in political science at the University of Aarhus in 1991, and a Ph.D. at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen in 1994.

He lectured in statistics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Aarhus, as an assistant professor (1994–1996) and associate professor (1997–2005). He left the University of Aarhus in February 2005 and in May of that year, became an Adjunct Professor at Copenhagen Business School.'

Statistics is not a sub-discipline of economics.

Richard Stewart


As an economics major myself, this caught my eye one day:

It talks about the different ways that trained economists think. Kind of the same thing you talk about here.

Steve G.

Calling Bill Maher brilliant is beyond generosity. He hasn't demonstrated deep thinking on any issue that I've heard him comment on. Which is fine for a comedian, but makes him hard to listen to when people are taking him seriously.

Pervy Grin

"God bless the universe!" WHAT?? Why on earth would YOU want God to bless ONLY this universe and not all the other parallel universes?? And why would God actually do that??

Can someone please explain?
God bless all the universes! ;-)

Jonathan Burdick

"Cognitive dissonance" is just a fancy phrase for "doubt". I just wrote the definitive post here:

and I've promised to update it, though not due to any lingering doubts.

Jon Burdick


Rob, anything less than "global warming" is downplaying the fact that the globe, as a whole, is warming. The globe, as a whole, is not cooling -- even through there are certainly pockets of which are cooler than normal (this is to be expected in a planet with weather systems).

If I'm warning you that the water is about to boil over, and you state that you agree it is changing temperature, that doesn't mean we agree, nor that you understand the problem or the scope of the problem.

Lomborg repeatedly used 'climate' -- which is defined as "the weather in some location averaged over some long period of time" -- even though everyone else was trying to talk about 'global' warming. That's why Maher said that in 20 years the guy would discover that global warming was happening -- because Lomborg's statements show he doesn't feel it is truly global warming, only climate change.

"Change" is less accurate than "warming" because "change" could mean "cooling" -- which is not happening on a global basis.

The economist kept purposely using the wrong words, which demonstrates that he is unable or unwilling to accept the reality of the situation. Whether that's endemic to economists (who show an amazing propensity to be out of touch with reality), or is just this one economist's problem, remains to be seen.

The use of particular phrases is important in setting the dynamics of conversation. Take 'illegal immigrant' versus 'undocumented worker' for example. The latter is not acknowledging the criminal element involved.

Chris Hulley

About the first bit of rational thought I've seen on the GW debate. Asking "yes, but what will MOST people actually DO" is always a good starting point.

Certainly, India & China will use the cheapest fuel they can get. That is human nature.

Another point is, WE will SELL it to them.

Or, if not us, someone else. That is also human nature.

Oh, sure, no politician will. Nor any actor or actress, or television personality. Or any other people who choose to pay extra for a hybrid. Or an intellectual, an academic etc.

But that still leaves plenty of faceless people with power, who are probably no worse than you or I, who are confronted with a personal economic dilemma: shall I sell a trillion tonnes of coal to China, make a big pile of money for the stockholders and $20m for myself, or shall I leave it in the ground?

Added to this dilemma is the certain knowledge that if I don't sell that coal, Fred Nurke from United Coal and Global Warming Pty Ltd certainly will.

Or, if we all band together and refuse to sell coal, probably some other country will. Or oil, or uranium. Or, China & India will dig it up themselves.

The only way guaranteed to work is to come up with a non-pollutiong energy source that is cheaper than a polluting one. The politicians at least recognise this with the concept of a CO2 tax.

A.N. Architect

Architects are also trained to recognize all facets of any given thing.
It's not for nothing that Architecture is called the Mother of all Arts and Sciences.
Having said that, on the other hand, let me tell you that I've given up all the dirty work that Real Architecture is in order to make Money, as an Economist!


All proffesions have their quirks- though those who study engineerign may be prone thinking in boxes and tolerances to start with they are far far worse at it when they are done. I seem to remeber someone saying that managers work around problem, and engieneers solve them. Economist apparantly argue wheter we should solve them or work around them.

Personally I think that Lomborg is right that we should consider what we use our resouces for in concern to global warming. Just don't forget that part of the way you develope new tech is to creat a market. The windmills we have today are the results of twenty years of Danish state subsidies to green energy- and now it's one of our major industries. If you make an enviorment where people can make money a fledgling technology with potential in the short term they'll most often use that to develope it in the long term. Its right to do the math- just make sure he's doing the math right...


Bjorn Lomborg's theories are basically this:

If you have 100$ and you can choose between spending them on a cow, a pig and a mule, it would be nice if you got the most value for your money.

Craig Fluck

DL from Heidelburg (up near the top), are you saying that it's a Bjorn Identity problem?


Sometimes the best you can do is shuffle the kitty litter.

Sometimes the best you can do is shuffle the kitty litter around a little bit.


Sometimes the best you can do is shuffle the kitty litter.

Sometimes the best you can do is shuffle the kitty litter around a little bit.

Craig Fluck

This form of cognitive dissonance is called Perceptual Blindness, we can't see what we can't 'see' It's the old double shot that ignorance brings, i.e., we don't know and we don't know that we don't know. Typically the ingnorant wrongly over estimate their knowledge due to this fact, while the competent usally guess that they are in the middle of it all, they wrongly assume that they are just like everyone else. I'm more familiar with CD as a conflict between one's thought and one's action, e.g., "the continued occupation of Iraq is caused somehow by oil, but I still drive an SUV at 80 mph." Sometimes we turn a blind eye to what we think (know) because we are doing the opposite.


"God bless the world!" WHAT?? Why on earth would YOU want God to bless ONLY this world and not the whole universe?? And why would God actually do that??

Can someone please explain?
God bless the universe! ;-)


This danish guy got a point there. But I see a second side of this medal: To make 'green' energy the cheapest you could also try make fossil fuels the most expensive. So go stirr up the shit in Iran, Iraq, Saudi-arabia, Venezuela, Russia and all the other evil fossil fuel diggin countries!

it's me

There you go again, Scott, saying Iran is a country full of creationists.


I actually think cognitive dissonance is good. Shopping with my wife would be so much easier. However, it might then be very boring and repeatable. Either way I'm f!@#$%$

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