No, not physically, alas. Though I did go to Oxford. This post is about people getting too stuck in their own comfort ghetto. Not me, obviously – plenty of people are attacking me :-).
This is thrown up by comments at my Economics and Climatology? post, though I’ve been thinking this for a while.
So, if you make the mistake of visiting the cess-pit that is WUWT, you’ll find a cloistered worldlet full of septics. Visitors with an interest in the truth (as opposed to the Truth) are welcome, but only as long as they can be shouted down or allow themselves to be sidetracked into the odd issues that interest that worldlet. Anyone who sticks to pointing out basic truths is made very uncomfortable, and if they’re too good at it, they get banned. Because its a walled garden, and the regulars really don’t want to be too disturbed, nor do the management (in fact in many ways its better thought of as a daily comic editon, there to confirm prejudices not provide new facts, but that’s quite another matter). The downside of that, though, is that they have a mindset and words that can’t survive contact with the real world. Try and discuss, perhaps, the Greenhouse effect and you’ll get nutters who don’t believe it exists at all, and who prove this by hand-waving about “the second law of thermodynamics”; the conversation degrades into irrelevancies. That’s the low end, but try and talk about really any aspect of climatology and you encounter yawning gaps of understanding. Another example is their common use of “CAGW” – this is “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”, which we “warmistas” are all supposed to believe in. Apparently the IPCC believes it too. Its never really defined though, but that hardly matters, because they have no interest in discussing the details. Or talk about temperature trends, and they will confidently tell you that the temperature is going down. Present them with the obvious – a graph of the temperature, which is going up – and it doesn’t affect them in the least. Its the wrong temperature record. Or suddenly, they don’t believe the record at all. Or they want to look over a different period. But again, none of that matters to them – what they have in their heads is this idea – “temperature is going down”, or perhaps more accurately “all this climate science is wrong”. They “know” this, as a general principle; any individual isolated disproof just bounces off, and of course the form of debate makes going through the entire catalogue impossible. Another nice feature is that they have traditional posts which are “known” to demonstrate certain ideas. They’ve never read, or thought about, these posts, or they’d know they’re trash: all they done is read the headlines, seen they fit their worldview, and internalised them.
All these problems, which are so obvious to anyone from the outside, seem to go unnoticed by the inhabitants. Because they never see anything different.
Which brings me to the economics discussed on climate blogs, which is similar. Not (I hasten to add) to the same degree; and the people (of course) are all Nice rather than Nasty. But the same problems exist: people talking about things they don’t understand; people continually re-presenting memes that they’ve accepted but never challenged; woolly thinking; and just a lack of taking these ideas out into the real world and getting them challenged.
So – naming no names, but you know who you are – people might try to say “Ricardo has been disproved for the modern world!” apparently unaware that this makes as little sense as stating that 0.999.. != 1 in the modern world. Or arguing that economists, by building in concepts like “discount rate”,… limit our choices. Or conflating politics and economics. Or “JP Morgan just lost $2b” as though it dealt a body-blow to modern banking.
I could write more, but I suspect you get the point now, and don’t agree, so I won’t bother.
[Update: thank you for your various comments. Having read them, my opinions haven’t altered. There is too much wishful thinking, too much reliance of alternative sources as mainstream. The difference in language between those who know some economics and those who don’t is both obvious and painful.]
* Bringing the Denialist Faith to the next Generation