CAGW memeplex

by Andy West

The hypothesis for a single, simple, scientific explanation underlying the entire complex social phenomenon of CAGW.

Whatever is happening in the great outdoors regarding actual climate, inside the minds of men overwhelming evidence indicates that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is a self-sustaining narrative that is living off our mental capacity, either in symbiosis or as an outright cultural parasite; a narrative that is very distanced from physical real-world events. The social phenomenon of CAGW possesses all the characteristics of a grand memetic alliance, like numerous similar structures before it stretching back beyond the reach of historic records, and no doubt many more cultural creatures that have yet to birth.

Having painted a picture CAGW from a memetic perspective in fiction last December [link], I realized that many people instinctively sense the memetic characteristics of CAGW, and typically express this in blogs or articles as relatively casual comments that cite memes or religion. Yet these folks appear to have no real knowledge of how truly meaningful and fundamental their observations are. Hence I have written a comprehensive essay which attempts to fill in this knowledge gap, and indeed proposes that the entire complex social phenomenon of CAGW is dominated by memetic action, i.e. CAGW is a memeplex.

Note: a ‘meme’ is a minimal cultural entity that is subject to selective pressures during replication between human minds, its main medium. A meme can be thought of as the cultural equivalent to a gene in biology; examples are a speech, a piece of writing (‘narratives’), a tune or a fashion. A memeplex is a co-adapted group of memes that replicate together and reinforce each other’s survival; cultural or political doctrines and systems, for instance a religion, are major alliances of self-replicating and co-evolving memes. Memetics101: memeplexes do not only find shelter in the mind of a new host, but they will change the perceptions and life of their new host.

Because the memetic explanation for CAGW rests upon social and evolutionary fundamentals (e.g. the differential selection of self-replicating narratives, narrative alliances, the penetration of memes into the psyche causing secondary phenomena like motivated reasoning, noble cause corruption and confirmation bias etc.) it is not dependent upon politics or philosophies of any stripe, which tend to strongly color most ‘explanations’ and typically rob them of objectivity. Critically, a memetic explanation also does not depend on anything happening in the climate (for better or for worse). CO2 worry acted as a catalyst only; sufficient real-world uncertainties at the outset (and indeed still) provided the degree of freedom that let a particular ‘ability’ of memeplexes take hold. That ability is to manipulate perceptions (e.g. of real-world uncertainty itself), values, and even morals, which means among other things that once birthed the CAGW memeplex rapidly insulated itself from actual climate events.

Homo Sapiens have likely co-evolved with memeplexes essentially forever (Blackmore), therefore they are a fundamental part of us, and indeed no characteristic of CAGW appears to be in the slightest bit new, quite the contrary. Underlining this ancient origin, one class of memeplexes folks are familiar with is: ‘all religions’. Yet these fuzzy structures are by no means limited to religion; science has triggered memetic themes before and extreme politics frequently does so, and there have even been historic memeplexes centered on climate. This does not mean CAGW is precisely like a religion, but being similarly powered by self-replicating narratives creates the comparable characteristics that many have commented upon.

Using a great deal of circumstantial evidence from the climate blogosphere and support from various knowledge domains: neuroscience, (economic) game theory, law, corporate behavior, philosophy, biological evolution and of course memetics etc., the essay maps the primary characteristics of CAGW onto the expected behavior for a major memeplex, finding conformance. Along the way, contemporary and historic memeplexes (mainly religious) are explored as comparisons. The essay is long, book-sized, because the subject matter is large. I guess an essay describing all of climate science would be very long, so one exploring the entire memetic characteristics of CAGW plus I hope enough context for readers to make sense of that, is similarly so.

The context is extremely broad, ranging from why pyramid building evolved in Egypt to a passionate cry against kings, priests, and tyranny in a radical women’s journal of the early nineteenth century. From the impact of memeplexes on the modern judicial system courtesy of Duke Law, to the ancient purpose of story-telling and contemporary attempts to subvert this, along with a plot analysis of the film Avatar. From the long and curious tale of an incarnation of ‘the past is always better’ meme currently rampant on the internet, to the evolutionary selection of fuzzy populations in biology and the frankenplex multi-element cultural creature that is CAGW. From the conflict related death-rates in primitive tribes versus modern states, to analysis of corporate social responsibilities after the Enron and banking sector crises. From memetic chain letters that stretch back to the hieroglyphs (Letters from Heaven), to the analysis of social cross-coalitions via game theory within the perspective of economics. From the concept of ‘the Social Mind’ courtesy of neuro-scientist Michael Gazzaniga, to pressure upon religions by aggressive atheism as promoted by Richard Dawkins. From modification of theistic memes in the Old to the New Testament, to notions of Gaia and telegraph wires and wing-nuts. Plus memetic sex, witchcraft, cults, Cathars, concepts of salvation, Communism, hi-jacking altruism, Lynsenkoism, lichen, psychologizers, National Socialism, de-darwinisation, that ugly term ‘denier’, and much more.

The reason for this huge breadth and depth is that memeplexes are deeply integrated into both our psyche and our societies; this level of vision and historical context is necessary to uncover the entities, to identify their actions with as much distancing from what remains of ‘ourselves’ as can be achieved.

In counter-weight to this very broad context, the essay is richly laced throughout with quotes from many of the main players and commenters in the climate blogosphere (plus from newspapers and other publications too), much of which will be pretty familiar to followers of the climate debate. These quotes cover luke-warmers, skeptics and Consensus folks, plus politicians, philosophers, psychologists and others as regards their views on CAGW, yet all are chosen and brought together for their focus on the memetic aspects of the phenomenon.  There are also plenty of deeper topics specific to the sociological aspects of CAGW that most denizens of the climate blogosphere will recognize and can get their teeth into, some contentious. For instance, a look at Richard Dawkins’ immersion within a rampant memeplex (while this would seem to be both controversial and ironic, when one realizes that we’re all immersed to some extent in several memeplexes, irony tends to morph to introspection). A brief view of a different Stephan Lewandowski paper (i.e. NOT  either of the ‘conspiracy ideation’ ones) in which he highlights the very type of inbuilt cultural bias that has then led him blindly to produce those very challenged and troubled works! An exposé of memetically induced cultural bias in a recent paper on ‘Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change’, that in my opinion undermines the objectivity of the work and robs the conclusions of any real meaning. A very interesting take on Mike Hulme’s stance as revealed by the memetic perspective. A glimpse of the ‘shall-we shan’t-we dance’ tentative cross-coalition between the Christian and CAGW memeplexes. The constant references to grandchildren within CAGW advocacy texts. Both the laudable and the lurking memetic content in philosopher Pascal Bruckner’s essay ‘Against Environmental Panic’. Numerous views of sociological comment by atmospheric scientist Judith Curry or at her blog Climate Etc from a memetic perspective. Plus a delve into one of pointman’s very interesting climate related essays, strong language and classic climate quotes explained via memetics, and more…

While CAGW skeptics might at first blush celebrate the possibility of a single, non-climate related, non-partisan, science-based theory that explains the whole complex range of CAGW’s social characteristics, acceptance of this theory also requires acceptance of a couple of pretty uncomfortable truths, and the ditching of at least one touchstone used by many (but by no means all) climate change skeptics. These issues are all expounded in the essay, but I summarize here:

  • Acceptance of the memeplex explanation requires us to rethink what ‘self’ means, and how our opinions, perceptions, and even morals are formed and maintained, with an implication that our ‘self’ is much more about the societal groups we’re immersed in than about what’s intrinsically inside our heads. The fact that we don’t really ‘own’ ourselves, is challenging.
  • Acceptance of the memeplex explanation requires a rejection of the ‘scam’ or ‘hoax’ theory as a root cause of the CAGW phenomenon, and as a primary motivator for the vast majority of CAGW ‘adherents’. (Note this does not rule out the fact that scams / hoaxes and other negative social phenomena may be attached to the memeplex as secondary structures – this is in fact common for major memeplexes). The essay spends quite some length saying why this is so.
  • Whatever downsides are observed to stem from the social phenomenon of CAGW, memeplexes in general often contribute major net advantages to their host societies, sometimes very major. The balance between positive and negative aspects of a major memeplex are not easy to determine except long in retrospect and with access to the ‘big picture’ (all attributes and all impacts across all of society). Hence we cannot yet know the balance of this equation for CAGW. The positive aspects are not typically intuitive.
  • As already mentioned, the memetic explanation is virtually independent of actual climate events. Hence dangerous climate scenarios are not ruled out. It simply means that no scenarios are ruled out, from the very dangerous to the utterly benign, and it is very much in the memeplex’s interests to keep the situation that way. Memeplexes wallow in uncertainty and confusion.

Many commenters in the climate blogosphere have written to the effect that: ‘it isn’t and never was about the science’. I happen to agree, very little of the CAGW phenomenon is about the science. The memetic perspective reveals why this is; not in terms of political or financial motivations but in the objective terms of the underlying social mechanisms, which are independent of (and enable) all such motivations.

Despite the essay’s length, I hope you will take the journey to acquiring a memetic perspective. Here [ memeplex summary ] is a very distilled summary of each section of the essay below this text, with a list of references, in which a few regular contributors might find their names. Please note that the work is not a ‘paper’, containing no proofs or supporting mathematics, excepting a couple of references to Game Theory and the Price Equation. And merely for convenience, I have written as though the memeplex hypothesis is true, i.e. that CAGW is a memeplex and that this characteristic dominates the social effects. It is just extremely cumbersome throughout hundreds of references to make them all conditional – so I haven’t. Yet by no means does that mean the hypothesis is true, or at least wholly true in the sense that the memetic effects are dominant. Readers must form their own opinions regarding that, no doubt which opinions will be colored by the memeplexes they’re already immersed in J. I think most folks will find it an interesting and enjoyable ride though. The complete essay is here [link]:   (Note: this Post text doubles as the essay Foreword, so you can skip that).

Andy West.

P.S. while I intend to issue further Revs of the essay with some extensions plus feedback / corrections applied, in practice this may only happen on a very long timescale, or possibly not at all as my time is extremely pressured. Please keep an eye on for any up-Revs or additional information. Note: the novella Truth from the WUWT post above is now available (free) at Smashwords here: or within the anthology ‘Engines of Life’ also at Smashwords here:, or at Amazon here.

JC comment:  This essay was submitted to me via email.  As with all guest posts, pls keep your comments civil and on topic.


412 responses to “CAGW memeplex

  1. The hypothesis for a single, simple, scientific explanation underlying the entire complex social phenomenon of CAGW.

    Ideology, group-think, herd-mentality, motivated reasoning …

    • The CAGW meme was invented by Carl Sagan. He did it after he got his aerosol optical physics wrong. This was from misinterpreting van der Hulst’s ‘lumped parameterisation’. In turn it led to him imagining that the high surface temperature of Venus was from its ‘surface black body’ IR being absorbed by the CO2 leading to the temperature gradient to the tropopause.

      In reality the high albedo is from a second optical process and the high temperature is from gravity vila lapse rate. The multiple physics’ fails originated with Sagan.

      Go to this paper, where Sagan’s physics was applied to atmospheric science:

      Eq 19 is the equation using root 3(1-g) taut, the lumped parameters. It is used in the climate models but is plain wrong. Clouds with highest albedo have large droplets. The sign of the effect of aerosols, which reduce droplet coarsening, is reversed, making the real AGW lower albedo in polluted clouds.

      So, blame Sagan for Climate Alchemy’s failure and the mass psychosis that has spread into people like Obama, who believe that only by destroying society can the Earth be saved from the imaginary Sky Dragon!

      • That’s fascinating. Andy Lacis was working for an IT company (CSC) at the time. Guessing that CSC needed a big computer model to sell big computers to NASA, so hired an astro physicist to work with Hansen.

        Long after that, Gore needs a big fossil fuel scare to sell nuclear power stations…..

      • @AlecM The liars running the scam also arbitrarily ‘average’ solar flux by halving it and assuming it shines 24/7 on the whole area of a flat earth.

        As soon as the flux is halved, the maximum temperature the ‘averaged’ flux can generate at the surface becomes -18C (via Stef-Boltz’). This mandates the need to ‘rescue’ temps back to reality (nearer to +15C) by introducing the supposed GHE. Supposedly, a +33C global temperature uplift, literally from thin air (thin air which is colder than the surface, so something colder heats something hotter, hotter).

        It’s a crime against science and against tax payers and our PPE-grad politicians are too thick to see the scam. Lucky we have a Chief Scientific Adviser to help them out – no … wait.

      • @Tom: 33 K is from the assumption that GHGs cause lapse rate. This mistake came from Sagan and was adopted by Houghton along with the claim that the Earth’s surface emits real IR energy to the atmosphere at black body level and that the atmosphere is a grey body emitter/absorber.

        No professional scientist can accept Houghton’s claims yet the grey body assertion appears to be a standard belief by physicists; the atmosphere is semi-transparent to IR. When you calculate the net Radiation Field at the surface, the net radiative flux is in non self-absorbed H2O bands and the atmospheric window. The operational emissivity is ~0.4. Because of parallel convection and evapo-transpiration, this falls to 0.16 (=63/396).

        So, Hansen et al’s claim** of 33 K GHE is bunkum. You prove this by factoring in the reduction of albedo from clouds and ice by a GHG free atmosphere. The 43% increase of SW energy thermalised at the surface means its average temperature is 4 to 5 deg C. This gives ~11 K GHE. The ratio 33 K/11 K is the imaginary positive feedback.


    • A better title for the article would be, ‘Oh, the irony…’

      Freud was on the right track (when he wasn’t obsessing about sex) –

      ..especially when combined with Contrarian’s usual bad case of the Dunning-Kruger’s.

      .. but remember, its all a global conspiracy by the scientific community.

      • But you dare not argue against my basic premise, which is that as cloud droplets coarsen prior to raining, the cloud albedo rises very significantly. You see this as the darkening of the base of the cloud.

        Therefore, Sagan’s physics is diametrically wrong for cloud aerosols. Because of this ALL of Climate Alchemy is wrong and people like you muttering ‘Dunning Kruger’ have absolutely no importance when people like me, a humble grizzled engineer with more experience of applied science than most, point out a very simple observational fact.

        Indeed, i’ll go on to argue that you appear to be a classical case of a new psychological ailment. it’s called sour grapes or being very annoyed that the star you followed, Hansenkoism, has just entered the dustbin marked ‘Failed Scientific Confidence tricks’.

      • Strange Adventure

        @Lamna nasus
        A better title for the article would be, Oh, the irony

        Lamna’s favorite mantra for times when dislikes something, but has no argument to speak of.

  2. for the Warmist &Skeptics CAGW has become as religion; facts became irrelevant:

    • David L. Hagen

      For facts making the CAGW religion irrelevant, see
      David Stockwell’s A Sea Change for Climate Science where he shows his solar accumulative theory providing a better fit than CO2 global warming. R^2 of 0.73 vs 0.71.

      • When you combine solar accumulation with hemispheric volcanic forcing you get an even better fit. When you include the planetary scale heat transfer times for the “average” ocean you get an even better fit. When you ignore the past you get CAGW.

      • “In data sets with enough variables, multivariate regressions with high R^2 will eventually be found.” –some wags I know.

  3. Latimer Alder

    I tried hard to read this..but when I got to the sentence

    ‘Because the memetic explanation for CAGW rests upon social and evolutionary fundamentals (e.g. the differential selection of self-replicating narratives, narrative alliances, the penetration of memes into the psyche causing secondary phenomena like motivated reasoning, noble cause corruption and confirmation bias etc.) it is not dependent upon politics or philosophies of any stripe, which tend to strongly color most ‘explanations’ and typically rob them of objectivity’

    I gave up.

    If an English translation is provided, understandable by a reasonably well-educated one-time chemist, I’ll be happy to try it again. But prose like this is (deliberately?) impenetrable to the non-specialist.

    If Mr.West can’t be bothered to write simple clear English, I don’t think I’ll bother reading it further.

    • Come on, it’s not that bad. He is simply stating that the meme is formed through inherent human psychology rather than political orientation which is secondary. I heartily agree. And I think it is a very important point.

      • Latimer Alder


        So the summary of all this verbiage is ‘its human nature’??

        Well blow me down. You could knock me down with a feather. Who knew?

        And why do we need a verbose arcane article to tell us this unremarkable fact?

        You’ll forgive me if I recall the ‘meme’ that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find one that turns into a prince. And I fear that this essay remains distinctly Kermit and Miss Piggy rather than Chuck and Di.

        But then again, if it was written in English, with simple clear sentences (‘The frog sat on the waterlily’. ‘The pig liked the frog’) maybe there might be some other nuggets not apparent in its current form.

      • “He is simply stating that the meme is formed through inherent human psychology rather than political orientation which is secondary.”

        He may be stating it, but is it true. Almost all Democrats are big CAGW fans. Independents and conservatives have more flexible minds on this point.

        Check out

      • He may be stating it, but is it true. Almost all Democrats are big CAGW fans. Independents and conservatives have more flexible minds on this point.

        I find this irritating – sorry. There is a big wide world outside of the USA, one in which people are often neither democrat nor republican. I am more left wing in my political orientation than your average US democrat. Many of my friends are, with very few exceptions those I know with political views are as well. There is no correlation at all with their political views and their views on CAGW.

        It really is only the US where politics has been so extraordinarily polarised that someone’s views are virtually decided by opposing whatever the “other side” thinks. I should point out that FOIA, the guy that released he climategate emails made explicit his reasons for doing so were socially motivated, and not as a protest against dreaded ‘big government’.

      • @Latimer, I sympathise with your point. I have waded through enough over worded science papers trying to get a laymans grip on issue to be very irritated by it. But you are scientist – or at least involved science professionally I seem to recall. Surely you would be used to it by now? And Andy’s prose hardly more impenetrable than some of the other stuff I am pretty sure you have acquainted yourself with, don’t you think?

        I got the gist pretty easily on this occasion and I’d have thought if I could….

    • Apologies Latimer, if it is not clear enough; I tried my best but memetics is probably not a familiar subject to most folks here. Agnostic has it about right, plus the very important fact that the dominant narratives that appeal to our psychology are ‘selected’ as part of an evolutionary process.

      • “Agnostic has it about right, plus the very important fact that the dominant narratives that appeal to our psychology are ‘selected’ as part of an evolutionary process.”
        Is the Chicken Little stuff.
        We are all gonna to die!!!!
        I don’t see the evolutionary advantage is to this crazy stuff.
        I don’t think people building Noah’s ark are gaining much benefit,
        though fleeing from civilization or any group could have a possible evolutionary advantage.
        I think it’s simply profitable. Gore rake in cash- he knows what he is doing.. Con man get rich
        off the suckers born every minute.

      • gbaikie,

        Noah’s neighbors didn’t see the benefit from the ArK Project. Look what it got them.

        Some benefit from a Chicken Little complex must exist, otherwise that story would not have survived.

    • gbaikie | November 1, 2013 at 5:38 am

      You raise a most execellent and very important point, which the essay addresses. Memeplexes generally have *net* benefits, which is why we have co-evolved with them as homo-spaiens-sapiens essentially forever. BUT… the benefits are not intuitive (too do with alignment of societies) and there may be many downsides too. AND… there can be memeplexes that leverage the same mechanisms to which we are evolutionarily sensitised, in order to live a completely parasitical life. Perhaps CAGW is one such. The essay exp[ounds…

      • Andy, you used a lot of long, scientific sounding words and mentioned evolution.. come with me, if you want to live.. the taxi is outside with the engine running…

      • Latimer Alder

        But that’s the point. They are long ‘scientific-sounding’ words. And lots of them. They don’t appear to have any scientific meaning at all.

        When you take away all the verbosity and the ‘sciency’ nature, underneath all this academic gloop is just the point that ‘its human nature’.

        Well zippeddydodah…what a revelation.

        I’m beginning to wonder if this isn’t all a spoof by somebody who well knows the gullibility of many academics?

      • As someone who our favorite commenter willard once characterized as a lean, mean meme machine, I am moved to comment again.

        The creation of a meme is somewhat like the coalescence of related substances into a whole. People with similar ideas and beliefs find they are adjusting them slightly to fit a group perception, a philosophical construct.The separate visions may have been around for a long time without being much remarked. Once the creation of the meme occurs, it seems large and powerful, as if millions have suddenly adopted a new idea.

        Usually the creation of a meme calls into existence a counter meme that opposes its central tenets. This happens mostly in the same way, but is strengthened and sped up by the fact that there is now something concrete to oppose. And so it is with the climate wars.

        The signature events of the past fourteen years of this discussion–Climategate, Gleick’s theft of documents, the demonization of Bjorn Lomborg, the publication of political theater disguised as science (Oreskes, Prall, Lewandowsky), the invention of Xtreme Weather, etc., etc., literally do not make sense unless placed in the context of defending a social construct and attacking another. Meme Wars. Why would anyone do such fundamentally stupid things unless they were caught up in a social phenomenon described best as the madness of crowds? Perhaps now we can label it the madness of clouds…

        Those who, like Judith Curry, resist looking at the world through a ‘meme-lens’ are suspect from both sides and, while contributing valuable knowledge and perspective, are susceptible to marginalization by mutual consent from the opposing parties.

        Memes don’t travel alone.

      • Tom Fuller | November 2, 2013 at 6:05 am |

        Absolutely. The events “literally don’t make sense” unless in the context of meme / narrative wars. These wars are discussed in the full essay. The alliance of similar ideas / memes you mention, equals a memeplex.

    • Quite right. It is unnecessarily dense. Also, we should avoid the use of ‘etc.’ at all costs.

      • @andywest2012

        You say

        ‘It’s not ‘sciency’ but science’.

        Fine. Show me the observational data that confirms it. Show me the experiments that were done to confirm it. Show me how and why alternative hypotheses were rejected. Show me all of those things and maybe, just maybe, I’ll believe that it’s anything more than a contentless jabber of long sciency words strung together to impress the weak-minded.

        I think it was Asimov who wrote of psychohistory way back when I was a kid. Until today I hadn’t realised that its bad twin, psychobabble, was alive and well and living – (where else?) in academic institutions. But now I know it is thriving :-(

        PS Love your remark ‘there can be memeplexes that leverage the same mechanisms to which we are evolutionarily sensitised, in order to live a completely parasitical life’. Especially the bit about parasites. Seems very apposite in this context.

      • Latimer Alder | November 1, 2013 at 10:34 am |

        Hi Latimer. There are very many support references within the main essay, from various scientific fields, far too many to quote here. But you can find them in the essay. There’s a huge literature on all this stuff by the way. If you just want a condensed look at all the references, in fact you can find these in a block at the bottom of the essay summary pdf that Judith has linked from the post. (In that condensed form the web ones are not clickable, you have to go to the actual essay for that). I loved Asimov by the way. Maybe you are not too familiar with the fields of cultural evolution and memetics and related fields? Very interesting indeed to delve into. I will completely respect the fact that you may still think its psycho-babble after some delving, if you acknowledge that your opionion may be a rather hard without having delved in a little further :)

      • Latimer Alder


        Quite an achievement for you to have managed to find a subject that Bob D, Joshua and I can all agree about. But though that is just about a first in this august forum – and is unlikely ever to be repeated – it is not for the reasons you would like.

        As to your suggestion that further study would enhance our understanding, I fear that life is too short, other subjects have more potential and your prolix style suggests that such a course would sap my will to live.

        It really is simple. If you want anybody outside of your own little academic circle to read and understand your stuff, you need to be able to write in an accessible clear style. Try searching for ‘Elevator Pitch’ in Google.

      • Latimer Alder | November 1, 2013 at 4:06 pm |

        Well it’s not compulsory :) Tried elevator pitches in business, relatively suited to that environment. Perhaps I’d hoped for too much patience and consideration regarding more complex concepts in a forum such as this.

    • David L. Hagen

      West appears to presume the “evolutionary” meme in his writing rather than objectively evaluating it.

      • Hi David, the main essay connects the characteristics of CAGW to those expected of a major memeplex (not meme), with references.

        Hi Latimer; it is not ‘sciency’, but science, and doesn’t boil down to ‘just human nature’, but to selective mechanisms, supported by refs. It is a hypothesis, not a given, but don’t you think that the possibility to explain the social phenomenon of CAGW with relatively well understood science from a whole other area of endeavour, with decades development and understanding behind it, i.e. memetics and cultural evolution, is much better than vague notions of human nature, especially as such an approach is apolitical too?

      • @andywest2012

    • All the socio-cultural anthropologists talk like that:
      Culture and social structure are, of course, abstracts that cannot be quantified and must instead be translated into empirical categories—namely, observable actions by, and interactions of, social actors. In a meta-theoretical sense, this transforms the concepts of culture and social structure into an action theory because only individual actors can be the units of an empirical social science. The main concepts here are social roles and their occupants.

      It started with the doctrine of positivism by Auguste Comte who coined the word altruism:

      Maybe we can find a new language group for it so that linguists can interpret it for us.

    • I looked out my window and pigs are flying because I am agreeing with Latimer for once.

      But aside from that, if you replace CAGW in your essay with climate skepticism, you wind up with two essays that are both equally correct.

      Is it all in our minds or is there actual physical evidence one way or the other.

      So that is not very helpful.

      • Gotta say – I find myself in agreement with Latimer on this one also.

        Apocalypse scheduled for 4:15 PM, EST.

      • Contrary to popular belief, pigs have always known how to fly. They simply are smart enough not to do so during daylight, when people can see them.

        They can also swim long distances, at great depths.

    • Walter Carlson

      Latimer..I agree !! And, l think that when an article is so ridiculously complicated so it needs interpretation, it is better not written or posted !!!

      • One might argue that since most religions seem to take onto themselves a slew of high status ‘interpreters’ – an omnipotent god being apparently incapable of speaking clearly and simply to ‘ordinary folk’ – that we should ignore the supposed witterings thereof.

        And for the same reason. Incomprehensibility attempting to mask the lack of substance.

  4. This essay is long but an interesting overview of the CAGW debate and of the ongoing debate on this debate that Joshua often speaks to.

    Substitute the word “memeplex” with the word “virus” and everything starts to make sense. Like viruses, memes are self replicating and affected patients tend to exhibit symptoms for many years after initial infection, presumedly from physical contact with the propaganda.

    • +1,

      Thanks for clarifying what its about.

    • Peter –

      I don’t have the time to read it in detail (and not sure I ever will give the extremeness of the analysis and the density of the prose), but yes, it is interesting w/r/t my take on the debate about the debate.

      My quick reaction is that it touches on some underlying truths, but:

      (1) it seems very selective in where it identifies phenomena (does the author really think that CAGW exists as a meme outside of an interlocking context of other memes?)

      (2) It mostly works on the surface. There is no way, IMO, to seriously consider the mechanisms of these phenomena without examining more deeply the related cognitive and psychological elements of human reasoning. In other words, the author describes “motivated reasoning” as a “secondary phenomenon.” IMO, that gets the hierarchy backwards.

      • Thank you Joshua.
        (1) No. You may not have delved in deep enough, but I think the Post definitely says ‘memeplex’, not ‘meme’, and that CAGW is a major alliance of many memes (and as the main text makes clear also tied to further social cross-coalitions).
        (2) I agree entirely that at the root level, the penetration of memes into the psyche, and the effects of this, are key. Some support for that is drawn on in the essay (and the concept of the ‘Social Mind’ from neuro-scientist Michael Gazzaniga is relevant here: our identity and perceptions being so depedant on our societal circle opens us to memetic influence). Things like motivated reasoning or nobel cause corruption require a direction to be biassed towards; which memes can supply. Hence they are causal in this sense, though the action of motivated reasoning can both promote existing memes to others, and further raise the walls insulating the individual from a wider range of viewpoints.

      • Andy –

        (1) I think the same critique applies with memeplex as well (although I am just now learning about what the term implies). But in a somewhat similar aspect of my critique (as to definition of terms), an apology is in order. I should have been more careful. Truth is that I have always found, without exception, the delineations that people used to identify the boundaries between CAGW (or, who is or isn’t a “skeptic”) in the climate change wars to be arbitrary (in the sense of subjectively determined). I have not taken the time to really dig into whether your definition of CAGW is so radically different so as to not suffer from the same sort of arbitrariness. It is certainly possible, but my gut reaction is that while there is an internal logic to what you have described, it fails to extend to a broader contextualization. For example, I agree with Mosher here:

        And doubt that the distinction of memeplex negates his point, and I agree with Bob’s point here:

        But aside from that, if you replace CAGW in your essay with climate skepticism, you wind up with two essays that are both equally correct.

        So one answer would be for me to put in the study and read more deeply to see whether my instincts are borne out or merely me flying my “motivated reasoning” up a flag pole for all to see. Another would be for you to address that critique in a more substantive manner despite the possibility that you are merely responding to someone who has just misinterpreted your work due to laziness or confirmation bias.


        Things like motivated reasoning or nobel cause corruption require a direction to be biassed towards; which memes can supply.

        In a sense, I agree – but the direction is provided by root level components of how we reason: (1) Relying on “models” that are built on a foundation of pattern recognition in order to make meaning), and (2) the psychological need to affirm identification.

        As such, I think that identifying the causality of direction is very “wicked.” Those underlying “root components” of which I speak are universal in all of us, and they play out in various ways. Might they play out in the manifestation of “CAGW,” sure – in a sense, sure, but by what criteria do you distinguish how they play out in “CAGW” from any other manifestation? To go back to point #1, I strongly suspect that your identification of what causes “direction” with CAGW is arbitrarily outlined.

      • Andy –

        To clarify a bit, I think that “motivated reasoning” has built-in directional causality, because it is an inextricable manifestation of our cognitive and psychological makeup. It isn’t that motivated reasoning takes a distinct, preexsiting direction, and then biases analysis. That would imply that reasoning exists without “motivation.” I don’t think that it does, although I don’t think it is impossible to make progress in identifying “motivations” and thus controlling, imperfectly, for their biasing influence. Indeed, that is what science is about, although it cannot exist in some pure sense as science is, by definition, created by human cognitive modeling. You say that the memes can supply direction. I think that is working on the surface. It implies that someone who isn’t attracted to a meme is devoid of direction. But the direction is build in at a level beneath the meme. Again, I go back to the idea that your distinction of an influential CAGW memeplex is arbitrarily outlined and artificially superimposed on a deeper structure. It makes sense at a surface level, as would a similar argument about the memeplex that “motivates” the reasoning of a climate “skeptic.”

      • Heh.

        “Clarification” was a very generous description. Clarity is in the eye of the beholder, eh?

      • Joshua | November 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm |

        Hi Joshua. No regarding (1) you don’t get 2 essays and you can’t replace CAGW with skepticism. The essay spends some time on memetic content in skeptic texts, but also points out that these are not united by a major memeplex, as is CAGW. Hence there is not symmetry. Skeptics are only even defined within the CAGW memeplex (somewhat like a religious memeplex might define devil worshippers). Outside the memeplex, they are simply folks with questions. The whole panoply of a major memeplex, with its ‘taxation demand’ and hence major infra-structure, a consensus culture, differential belief, and so on, adheres to the CAGW side. This does not mean all skeptic argument is meme free (some of it is soaked in memes – and some [ancient] memes like ”our times are special’ or ‘the past is always better’ , can even turn up on both sides). But right now, skepticism is not a memeplex, and in part this explains its relatively powerless stauts relative to CAGW.

      • Joshua | November 1, 2013 at 1:57 pm

        Regarding (2), I agree that ultimate causation is not an easy thing to divine, and our knowledge on that is not strong. I currently hold with the literature that proposes the deep penetration of memes into the psyche, coupled with concepts like Michael Gazaniger’s ‘Social Mind’, which opens us to influense, and therefore that memes can be root causation. It’s one view, and highly plausible in my opinion, and in the case of CAGW is consistent with the effects. The essay runs through some of these, and I reference some support from other fields.

      • Joshua, try to think of the human mind as an emerging local being populated by a large number of species (memes), which eventually form a stable ecosystem. In the same way you can have similar ecosystem with completely different species, so it is with minds.
        Many memes are tools, which are very useful in some times and some situations, but completely useless in others.
        There are many theories of minds going around, many off the wall, but the author is actually pointing to something quite conservative.
        Do try to be less skeptical.

      • Andy –

        Once again, with the caveat that I haven’t read your analysis in depth…

        While I’d like to take your word for it, the following looks to me like argument by assertion:

        but also points out that these are not united by a major memeplex, as is CAGW. Hence there is not symmetry.

        There doesn’t need to be symmetry. The can each be a memeplex with different characteristics.

        Skeptics are only even defined within the CAGW memeplex (somewhat like a religious memeplex might define devil worshippers). Outside the memeplex, they are simply folks with questions.

        Well, the same can be true for “realists.”

        The whole panoply of a major memeplex, with its ‘taxation demand’ and hence major infra-structure, a consensus culture, differential belief, and so on, adheres to the CAGW side.

        There are parallels for each on the other side of the debate. Anti-taxation. Anti-“progressives.” Anti-environmentalists and environmentalism. Read what Spencer has to say about how he views his job. Inhofe, and the vast majority of “skeptics” are fully convinced in their viewpoints without ever having given serious effort to understand the scientific argument.

        But right now, skepticism is not a memeplex, and in part this explains its relatively powerless stauts relative to CAGW.

        You obviously read a lot of what “skeptics” say in the blogosphere, so you have no doubt read many comments that make it quite clear that many don’t agree with your assessment about their lack of power. But either way, your definitions are vague. Your definition of CAGW is not scientifically grounded. Your definition of “skeptic” is not scientifically grounded. You claim a cohesive entity on one side an a non-cohesive entity on the other w/o making the criteria clear as to how you make the delineation, let alone scientifically test the hypothesis that creates that delineation.

        Again, the best I can do here is suggest that you read Kahan if you haven’t already. He does approach these issues scientifically, and he has carefully evaluated data that show overwhelming parallels in the different camps on this debate, and that show that what you call the “CAGW memeplex, rather than being a manifestation of distinct and unique entity as you describe it, is in fact just one more example of a well-described and much more wide-reaching dynamic.

      • bob droege | November 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm |

        Actually, I already have a degree in physics, but thanks for your kind and understanding suggestion anyway…

      • DocMartyn | November 1, 2013 at 10:13 pm |


      • Joshua: ‘Your definition of CAGW is not scientifically grounded. Your definition of “skeptic” is not scientifically grounded’

        The definition of a memeplex is scientifically grounded, and I’m afraid I have to point you at the essay for the name of all its component parts, bait, hook, taxation demand, salvation substitute, whatever. The essay connects all the characteristics of CAGW to these, and deduces that therefore CAGW is a memeplex. This is pretty normal methodology. The Post is just a bare summary saying, ‘I have done this’. The doing is I’m afraid , book length, after all CAGW has *a lot* of characteristics, and they also when dealing with narratives, where words themselves are the ‘data’, one has to take breat care with meaning. I have made no definition of skeptics, and, because their characteristics don’t connect to all the touch points above, conclude that they are not a major memeplex in own right, but only resistance to the dominant environmental memeplex of CAGW. This does not mean their arguments have no memetic charactersistics (some are soaked in memes, and examples are given), or that there won’t be other parallels (this is explored too), but this does not make skepticism a formal memeplex. But I appreciate your points and they are all well thought. Perhaps you could give the essay a try, I believe it would answer the questions you have raised, so far at any rate.

      • Andy,
        You may have a degree if physics, and that should tell you that the greenhouse effect is independent of the existence of the human species.

        And I would dispute whether taxes are part of the AGW memeplex anyway.

        Not all warmists believe taxes are the only way to solve this CAGW problem.

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

        Bob D., said:

        “Not all warmists believe taxes are the only way to solve this CAGW problem.”
        Quite right, just as not all warmists are CAGWers.

      • bob droege | November 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |

        Sorry I may have confused you. ‘Taxation demand’ does not refer to anything to do with taxes (i.e. of the fiscal kind). It is a term sometimes used in memetics to describe the demands placed on adherents (via pyschological pressure).

      • bob droege | November 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |

        P.S. of course greenhouse effect is independant of the existence of the human species. Why ever would anyone think any physics is dependant on our existence?

        When I say in the post (and essay), the *social* phenomenon of CAGW, I mean exactly that, i.e. excluding any climate events, and any (real) science as a proxy for those. But corrupted science *is* included, it is effectively dragged into the memeplex.

  5. To my mind, the ‘meme’ aspect of it is all to do with the big and dedicated following that CAGW has developed in certain political/ideological groups. But concentrating on the ‘meme’ aspect is to follow a side-issue and to miss the main point – that CAGW is bad science. In the final analysis, that is what really matters.

    • Hi Mike. One of the points of the essay is that big memeplexes easily have the ability to corrupt science, and this has happened not just with CAGW. Hence if we’re looking for root cause, the ‘thing that corrupted the science’ is before ‘the bad science’ itself. Next in line is to figure out ‘how’ a memeplex corrupts science, which the essay also addresses.

      • I don’t care about “how science was corrupted” or why.
        If we could just distinguish between correct science and false science (or theories) that would be a tremendous accomplishment.

      • andywest2012 – I think you are, regrettably, correct. This climate ‘memeplex’ is a particularly large and unsavoury version of the Thomas Kuhn science paradigm. TK describes how science progresses through paradigm shifts, but in the case of climate science the mainstream are still firmly entrenched in their paradigm and there is as yet no shift.
        I don’t dispute TK’s view that this is how science in fact progresses, but I do feel that science should progress differently. If it could work more along Judith Curry’s mediated approach (a JC post a while ago) then surely science would benefit. In effect it would bring science closer to the Karl Popper view of the how science should progress via steps in hypotheses / testing.

      • Do you have any evidence of any corrupt science within CAGW?

      • Bob Droege – evidence of corrupt science within CAGW : Climategate (hide the decline, peer-review gatekeeping, etc etc). Doran and Zimmermann. Lewandowsky. Marcott. Adjustments to data to fit models. Adjustments to “science” IPCC chapters to fit politically negotiated SFPM. The list goes on … and on and on …

      • My favorite meme amongst the deniers is where they tend to create FUD by jumping the gun and making false accusations against scientists. My favorite is the Mike Jonas faux paus where he mixed up the Brown University climate scientist John Marston with the BU archaeologist John Marston.

        If it wasn’t for real auditors keeping the fake skeptics honest, readers would actually believe this stuff.

      • Mike Jonas,
        So an illegal and thus corrupt act ie “climategate” is evidence that climate science is corrupt.

        Lewandowsky just showed climate skeptics also believe all sorts of wacko things, often before breakfast.

        Doran and Zimmerman, isn’t that just another paper that says most all of journal accepted articles are favorable to AGW?

        Adjustments to data to fit models, got any evidence, which is what I asked for in the first place?

        You haven’t provided any.

      • Web – regarding my mix-up over John Marston, may I draw your attention to a later comment of mine in that thread:

        Bob Droege – The scientists involved in the Climategate emails stated that the emails were genuine. The emails are therefore available as ‘scientific’ evidence no matter how they were obtained. Lewandowsky lied about which blogs were used for his survey, and it turned out that the ‘wacky’ ideas actually came from 2 followers of warmist blogs. Doran and Zimmerman issued questions to about 10,000 scientists, got about 3,000 replies, and then synthesised out 75 of the replies to obtain their 97% figure. But the major flaw was that the survey question used for this result did not address the actual issue. Temperature adjustments have been exposed and discussed many times on WUWT. I note that you do not dispute that the IPCC prepared and negotiated the SFPM with politicians before the supposed scientific basis was finally prepared and issued.

  6. CAGW is not a social phenomenon, it is a political one. AGW is science, CAGW is politics.

    Meme is a relatively new word for an old phenomenon. It began as Dawkin’s attempt to reduce religion to the equivalent of a genetic trait. To delegitimize religion as an intellectual tradition.

    You can, as Peter Lang writes above, describe it as ideology, group-think, herd mentality, motivated reasoning (or tribalism, dogmatism, confirmation bias….). Though I don’t know anyone has tried to turn any of those terms into an entire academic discipline. Meme is an attempt to give a (social) scientific gloss to those terms.

    CAGW is certainly political in its policy aims and many of its arguments. It is the latest expression of the progressive movement through “science”. But to suggest that it is merely a cultural phenomenon is ludicrous. Schmidt, Trenberth, Hansen et al. may have their decision making processes

    I am as dismissive of the claims of certainty of CAGW as the next skeptic, but to classify the entire theory as just a meme is simply not warranted.

    The term meme was designed to be a dismissive way of characterizing ideas and beliefs with which one disagrees. I don’t see it as any more informative a description than the other labels Peter listed, and it is probably for many in fact less accurate. It is important to keep in mind the political motivations of the CAGW activists, but it is not logical to dismiss everything they say as a meme (or, lord help us, memeplex).

    • Should be:

      Schmidt, Trenberth, Hansen et al. may have their decision making processes [biased by their political beliefs and personal interests, but that is not their only motivation.].

    • Gary M says,’CAGW is nor a social phenomenon, it is
      a political one.’ This serf agrees and cites a passage
      from Philip Bobbitt’s detailed historical study, ‘The
      Shield of Achilles.’ In the opening paragraphs of CH2
      Bobbitt claims that the conflicts of the 1st World War,
      WW11, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, as well as the
      Bolshevik Revolution, the Spanish Civil War and the
      Cold War are an on going Long War fought to determine
      what kind of state would supersede the imperial states
      of Europe that emerged in Europe in the nineteenth
      century after the French Revolution. The Long War
      was fought to determine which of three new
      constitutional states would replace that system,
      parliamentary democracy, communism or fascism.

      Hey, look at CAGW progressives’ arguments and
      actions. Plato versus Socrates all over again. )

    • Hi Gary. Not classified as a meme, but as a memeplex. I can see where you’re coming from, but you seem to have skipped rather lightly over the entire science of memetics and cultural evolution ;) And a ‘meme’ is used in the dismissive way you suggest by laymen, but not in the literature, and for very good reason. Memeplexes are fundemental cultural phenomena that our genes are co-evolved to, priming us at a deep level for a range of behaviours such as those of the ‘immersed’ people you list above. In the order of causality, the cultural phenomena causes both the politics and the range of individual behaviours observed, including all the things the activists you mention do. Any explanation that rests mainly upon politics is in the end circular. An explanation that rests on (cultural) evolutionary mechanics that potentially explains the politics *and* all the other individual or group behaviours in the causal chain, is a much better bet.

      • Hi Andy-
        I enjoyed your piece. Your reference to “cultural evolution” reminds me of how certain fields and thoughts have progressed from 50 years ago when the social sciences were seemingly much simpler. Behavioral economics and evolutionary psychology were unknowns when I was in school. But they make all the sense in the world.

      • Glad you think so Dennis Adams, as I am still struggling with the terminology and the turgid phraseology!

        Andy West’s paper was not really suited to a blog but notwithstanding this, it (and the Links) raises many important issues around the CAGW phenomenon.

      • dennis adams | November 1, 2013 at 5:26 am |
        Thankyou Dennis. And yes, great progress in cultural evolution and related fields in 50 years, which can be used to shine a great light on CAGW!

        Peter Davies | November 1, 2013 at 5:37 am
        Apologies Peter if the language is hard going. The concepts are so easily misunderstood, so I was trying to ensure accuracy, which tends to lend the text a rather dense academic perspective. Hopefully the rewards of the memetic insight will be worth it .

      • Peter-
        Yes I understand, it can be a little turgid. That is one reason why I switched to counting beans. But I appreciate the subject and the questions in the whole arena more now than I did then.

      • andywest2012,

        “And a ‘meme’ is used in the dismissive way you suggest by laymen, but not in the literature, and for very good reason. Memeplexes are fundemental cultural phenomena that our genes are co-evolved to, priming us at a deep level for a range of behaviours such as those of the ‘immersed’ people you list above.”

        “Meme” was used in exactly this way by Dawkins., And is used in your post here the same way. If you ignore some of the more, shall we say, academic verbiage, you are totally dismissive of CAGW. The mere characterization of it as a meme does all the heavy lifting in your “analysis”.

        Notice that there is no discussion in your post of WHETHER CAGW is a meme, or how one determines what is and is not a meme. You are dismissive of CAGW, and so you assume it is a meme, just as the CAGW advocates assume that CO2 is causing catastrophic warming.

        “Memetics” is a meme, within the social science community. It is just a substitution for the more common terms discussed above, with the added claim that a meme is a “fundemental cultural phenomen[non] that our genes are co-evolved to.” Like CAGW (as opposed to AGW), it takes opinion and dresses it up as science.

        I doubt memologists get the kind of funding for research that the CAGWers do. But the thought processes, the assumptions dressed up as science; the opinion posed as analysis – is the same.

      • GaryM | November 1, 2013 at 12:02 pm |

        In the main essay text (link at the end of the Post) look up the exploration of Dawkin’s anomolous position wrt to religious memeplexes and the memeplex of CAGW. I have huge respect for Dawkins, and not least for inventing the term ‘meme’, but his position as you describe it is not where the mainstream of cultural evolution in any case lies. That doesn’t mean the mainstream is right (many here know about such things!), but his approach with the Selfish Gene is way over reductionist and reconised as such by the Group and Multi-level evolution themes, which finally have found their time after decades in tghe shade. Simililarly for memes, you are ascribing I think a very reductionist position for them that isn’t really how they are now viewed…

    • The term meme was designed to be a dismissive way of characterizing ideas and beliefs with which one disagrees.

      Poppycock. It’s a way of thinking about ideas and their transmission, generally.

      I think that memeplex theories are quite good at describing evolution of civilization, culture and religions. You appear to be offended by the term? It’s not directed at you personally. However, if the memeplex view of socialization is true, you are not exempt from its influences. I presume that you conform to at least some societal norms. Do you ever ask yourself why you do that? How was that norm communicated to you?

      This is one of the reasons why I want NO education of young children in environmentalism in public schools. This is agenda driven brainwashing, not science.

      • Mickey Reno,

        I am not offended by the term at all. I am a conservative skeptic. I have nothing but disdain for the CAGW political movement’s tactics and dishonesty. But I don’t feel a need minimize the thought processes of those with whom I disagree.

        CAGWers may be political, they may be sometimes dishonest, they may be motivated by vanity and elitism. But what they are not is a group of mindless drones passing along cultural memes the way fruit flies pass along their genes.

        Dawkin’s started from the view that religion/theology was wrong, and therefore looked for ways to explain it away as a result of a virtually mindless process. People don’t believe what they believe because of rational thought processes. They are slaves of their memes, just as they are slaves of their genes.


        I am a skeptic because I believe the CAGW movement has vastly inflated its certainty of the risk of AGW being C. But I do not discount the possibility of their being correct. And memology, sorry, memetics, does nothing to contribute to answering the question of whether they are. Which is, after all, the subject of the debate.

      • Bother, I got the threading wrong, see 1.31 above.

      • Andywest2012,

        I think your primary post above shows quite clearly how reductionist memetics/memology is. Just look to the responses by the warmist commenters here to see if they think your classification of CAGW as a meme, without an analysis of why it should be classified as such, is a simple “scientific” analysis.

        I disagree with them on virtually all political issues, but agree with them that dismissing human thought in such a complex area as a meme is scientific at all.

        I think you are propagating a meme yourself, the meme of memetics. A complex political and scientific debate is reduced to “cultural entities.”

        There is nothing new in the climate debate.

        And by the same token, as first succinctly discussed by Peter Lang above, there is nothing new in memetics.

    • Indeed, all things based on shared opinion or point of view can be “memes”, and I have too often been beaten about the head by alarmists of the hipster tribe for my “typical skeptic memes”. I’d let the other (authoritarian) side have “memeplex”, along with all those unlovely verbal confections so heavily favoured by practitioners of the mock-sciences.

      To paraphrase the old hanging judge, when I am tempted to pity the writer, I remember to pity the English language.

  7. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Andy West asserts  “Very little of the CAGW phenomenon is about the science.

    Delusion by Andy West, science by FOMD!

    Henry Louis “H. L.” Mencken asserts  “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”

    Mencken appreciated the conflict of sobering physical science versus beguiling ideological fairy-tales.

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Henry Louis “H. L.” Mencken asserts “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”
      And that is why “The science is settled” is absurd. Leave it to a warmist to want to live in a binary world.

    • “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”
      Like the “solution” that co2 is the control knob of climate.

    • Andy West asserts “Very little of the CAGW phenomenon is about the science.”

      Delusion by Andy West, science by FOMD!

      Hardly a surprise that FOMD[elusion] would dismiss the memetic explanation of the CAGW phenomenon as “delusion”. A matter of projection.

      All the human catastrophes envisioned by alarmists are delusions, with the possible exception of a sudden (e.g.within weeks), widespread climate change that invalidates a year’s agricultural assumptions that the world’s food supply depends on. And, while the risk of that may be increasing slightly each year as atmospheric pCO2 increases, that risk is ongoing, and won’t change much over the next few decades regardless of which of the options offered by alarmists is selected.

      Even the total collapse of civilization, with an attendant sudden reduction of CO2 emissions to roughly zero, would only result in a very slight progressive decrease to that risk. And, of course, the possibility of a total collapse of civilization is the only real rationale for CAGW alarmism in the first place.

      Given this, and the fact that there’s nothing that needs to be done immediately to counter any non-delusional “risk” from increasing pCO2, the whole CAGW alarmist thing may be properly explained as a meme-plex, or mass delusion of the sort found in earlier apocalyptic religious manias.

  8. Wooph. Read the entire “memplex summary” pdf ( ) Seems solid and useful. Too many “money quotes” to cite, but among the points is the (explicit?) observation that this is a battle for all the marbles, like many before it. The combatants of many wars between societies are long gone, but the memes that shaped and directed them are not. And we’re in the middle of their latest.

  9. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    David Hume enquires of Andy West’s essay  “Let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number?


    “Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact and existence?


    “Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”

    Cognition by David Hume, links by FOMD.

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • well that destroys all the work of pharmacologists and medics.
      My boss spent 8 hours removing a metastatic tumor wrapped around the base of someones brain this week.
      None of what he was teaching the residents involved ‘abstract reasoning concerning quantity’ or number or any ‘experimental reasoning’, just memes.

      You are the man who thinks he can do tissue regeneration on the cellular level using magnetic fields.

  10. Well I for one thoroughly agree with this characterisation and find it perhaps a little less politically charged than describing CAGW as a “religion” to which it so closely resembles.

    I absolutely do reject that CaGW is a hoax or conspiracy, although (and this was acknowledged in the article) it may appear that way at times or even have some elements where deliberate deception of that nature can be found.

    Like religion, CAGW is an emergent phenomena. As in fact is skepticism. The point is where you have a society high up on Maslows pyramid of needs, you the capacity for turning the human psyches capacity for striving against adversity in on itself. Penn & Teller have a fantastic film demonstrating this in which they describe the phenomena as “Eco-guilt”.

    It’s a way to express compassion and atone for the relative comfort of modern society. The meme (or “thought-virus” – a term I don’t like because it also has negative connotations) that is catching is the desire to be responsible, compassionate, and not harmful to nature and the world you so admire. It stems from genre and reasonable concern about mans impact, especially when you see litter in nature spots, or pictures of wildlife caught in ring-holders, fishing nets and that sort of thing. It’s therefore easy to extend that concern for our detrimental impact to fear the implications of an unprecedentedly large and industrialised society on the climate.

    All this is at the “system 1” or “intuitive” level as described by Kahneman. I know I certainly felt it myself, and having read the mainstream scientific literature (American scientist, Nature, and so forth) I felt informed and deeply concerned. It’s only when you dig a little more deeply, investigate the objections and weigh that against the prevailing view that the picture starts to change, this would be “system 2” or analytic level in Kahneman parlance. Nuances start to emerge, the implications of complexity and uncertainty manifest.

    So now, wanting to continue as a responsible and compassionate citizen, continued “faith” in the meme is untenable because of the evidence and the implications are that attempts offer sacrifices to that particular god are contrary to those aims. Some persuasive arguments:
    – There are real and pressing problems in the world right now that are certain. Why try to fix an uncertain problem in an uncertain future that may actually not be problem even if it we to happen anyway?
    – it costs more to adapt than to mitigate, and furthermore, societies capacity to adapt will be much greater in the future owing to the much higher level of relative wealth and technology.

    Finally, I sign on as “agnostic” for a reason. It doesn’t mean I am a fence sitter, it means I acknowledge that there is nothing more uncertain that “certainty”. Certain knowledge one day is overturned the next. I could absolutely be convinced (as far as I allow myself) that AGW is a problem if I could find evidence that was convincing, but it would have to acknowledge the current dilemmas, uncertainties and errors such as model failure, and account for them. But as far as I am concerned, anyone not engaging with the real, serious and rational criticisms of skeptics is a red flag to me that means they are operating only on the level of belief, the same plane occupied by religion, rather than open-minded scientific enquiry.

    • An interesting study would be to investigate some who, as yourself, have come to the conclusions you have while others, who started with the same perceptions as you have, remained unskeptical. Many who I know have the mental capacity to seek out the facts and yet seemingly want to cling to their initial reaction. Kahneman is a good read. Where was he when I was taught that economics was only about totally rational actions. Greenspan has delved into this a little with his latest book.

      • Prospect Theory is one of the most successful memes I can think of. That’s not necessarily a compliment, though I still withhold judgment. I think there are at least two better ones–Birnbaum’s TAX (transfer of attention exchange) theory and Busemeyer and Townsend’s amazing Decision Field ThoTheory.

    • Think we are in harmony, Agnostic. It’s important to boil the CAGW phenomena down to fundamentals that live underneath politics; there have been memeplexes promoting very different politics to CAGW, and the next one to come along will be different again. If we don’t ever perceive the underlying mechanisms, which are about the differential selection of competing narratives (such as the ‘not harmful to nature’ narrative you mention above), and which mechanisms are completely apolitical, we’ll never be able to tame these beasts.

      • I completely agree and it is so good to hear someone of your stature say it. Especially this:
        It’s important to boil the CAGW phenomena down to fundamentals that live underneath politics

        I do recognise, as I am sure you do, that some people are motivated by their political views in response to the question, choosing to either believe or not believe owing to how it suits firm predetermined poltical view. I think that manifests predominantly in the US, where the political climate is highly polarized.

        But it’s certainly not true everywhere else that I have discussed the issue. Maybe those who are of a more libertarian bent are likely to distrust what to them is a publicly funded and therefore “government” based show, and therefore more inclined to look contrary evidence. They can be right for the wrong reasons or motivations. But there is also the rest of us, who don’t share that political outlook who have come to a view based purely wishing to divine the truth. Steve McIntyre certainly one such critic, who has stated publicly that if CAGW was proven to be a serious issue (to his satisfaction), that it is precisely government that would be expected to coordinate a response.

        Concern about climate change or “The Environment” is a form of political correctness, itself a memeplex as you describe, of which it is a subset. It’s about a general desire to be respectable and therefore respected, to be accepted and to share a common goal. I used to think that here was an issue that the entire world can rally behind, because it was borderless, and required humanity to pull together for a common cause to avoid a tragedy of the commons. And even as my doubts started to grow, I still felt that in general adhering to the response as if it was certain, and despite the lingering uncertainties was generally of great benefit to all of society.

        But I eventually came to realise, persuaded by rational arguments, that trying to radically alter the world on the basis of something so faulty and uncertain was likely to have the opposite effect. They say a lie can get half way around the world before the truth can get it’s boots on, but the truth will eventually catch up and trample all over it.

      • Yes, this probably distills down to human nature; however, this article and the following thread is an interesting read for me and more informative than ‘just human nature’.
        As Joe Bastardi writes, the hole keeps getting deeper.
        Aside from money and career, I have always thought that the ability and willingness to change beliefs when confronted with new information was a quality of strength of character.
        However, as in anything rooted in politics, it is perceived as a weakness.
        Consider J. Kerry and the swift boat ordeal. I am not in agreement with much of his politics; however, when he stated that he changed his mind when he found new information he was lambasted.
        That AGW is immersed in politics, The ‘human nature’ of politics makes it very difficult to make an objective change of opinion despite increasing evidence to the contrary.

      • “running like gazelles”.

    • – it costs more to adapt than to mitigate, and furthermore, societies capacity to adapt will be much greater in the future owing to the much higher level of relative wealth and technology.
      The conventional use of those terms is the reverse: mitigate means prevent (by cutting emissions) and adapt means adjust to what comes.

      • And mitigation is horrifically, disastrously more costly. Murderously more costly. Unsupportably more costly. Not only will people and nations increasingly balk as the bills come in, they couldn’t pay them if they were willing. Because the attempt to do so undercuts and destroys their ability to pay, or even survive. Suicide with a blunt, rusty knife.

      • From the BRIC point of view, why interrupt your competitors’ use of the blunt, rusty knives?

  11. @Agnostic

    ” it costs more to adapt than to mitigate, and furthermore, societies capacity to adapt will be much greater in the future owing to the much higher level of relative wealth and technology.”

    I think you meant that it costs more to mitigate than adapt. I agree.

    • Yep – sorry – and for the horrendous number of autocorrect typos in there as well.

    • Mitigate or adapt to what?.. if it’s all a global AGW conspiracy and nothing is happening, why would mitigation or adaption be necessary?

      Sounds like Nierenbergism.. ie. Climate Change is happening, anthropogenic forcings are a driver, but thats ok.. because technology will ‘solve’ the problem, making society wealthier in the process (it’s not recorded whether anyone checked if Bill had his fingers crossed behind his back).. is all about cost / benefits economic analysis.

      • See above. The costs of mitigation are so great they destroy the ability to address them, because their currency is that very ability.

  12. But taming these beasts requires conscious decision making, agency, free-will, political choosing. Meme theory goes against all that. You can’t have your cake etc. What’s to stop others turning round and saying ‘ah, but that in itself is just a meme you’ve been contaminated with…’ Meme theory is a product of a degraded view of human action and comes from the same misanthropic, miserable take on the world as fuels climate alarmism, in my book. Noble cause corruption and confirmation bias at least don’t deny free will.

    • A very good point. Recursiveness is always a problem in this field. But not everything is a meme. ‘Hard’ or ‘Real’ science is not. Flat facts kill memeplexes, or at least heavily constrain them. If one understands memetic phenomena like CAGW in terms of the flat facts of the real science of memetics, one has a pretty good a ‘meme minimised’ base platform from which to start taming the beasts : )

    • P.S. and those ‘flat facts’ regarding memetic action, would also be completely apolitical…

      • So we’re back to good science vs bad? Or, good science vs the noble cause corruption of scientific institutions and high profile people in them? Raymond Tallis has some cutting remarks about the whole idea of memes in ‘Aping Mankind’ – a subtle way of dehumanising us he says – be interested to know your thoughts:

        “…the ‘meme’ as a term, a concept, an explain-all, has itself behaved precisely as memes are supposed to behave; it has spread like a highly infectious virus through the brains of many who think about our nature and the population at large, who are invited to think in a certain way about their own nature…”

        “Let’s first address the notion that a meme is supposed to be a unit, analogous to a gene, transmitted whole or not at all. In what sense is ‘faith’ or ‘tolerance of free speech’ a unit? … The claim that memes are units *because* they “replicate themselves with reliability and fecundity” manages to be circular, empty and daft all at once: quite an achievement.”

        “There are other objections… If meme theory is true it must, like other memes, simply be a mind infestation that has only its own welfare at heart. This objection has been anticipated by Dawkins:

        Scientific ideas, like all memes are subject to a kind of
        natural selection and this might look superficially virus-like,
        but the selective forces that scrutinize scientific ideas are
        not arbitrary or capricious. They are exacting, well-honed
        rules, and they do not favour pointless self-serving behaviour.

        And he goes on to set out the methodological virtues that the memes he approves of have. Merging the notion of scientific methodology and “natural selection” is barmy… Ideas and idea-complexes do not invade our *passive* minds; we have to think, comprehend them and acquire them, often with a great deal of conscious work… We may assent to, or dissent from, ideas. Try doing that with one of your genes or a virus…”


        Saying CAGW alarmism is memetic is on a par with Lewandowsky’s pathologising sceptics/deniers to me. It’s the same tactic of denying your opponent a reasoning mind.

      • Ian Woolley (@IanGWoolley) | November 1, 2013 at 8:37 am |

        Hi Ian. No not back to good science versus bad, if you mean ‘is that all that matters’. While memeplexes can corrupt good science to bad, it is about much more than this, and it is absolutely not about denying ‘the other side their mind’. I have perhaps expressed myself badly somewhere, because this is not at all the position the essay states. If you look at the main work pointed by the link at the end of the post, you can see Richard Dawkin’s position with respect to the CAGW memeplex and religious memeplexes explored, and the ananomolous position of Lewandoswsky too, who flouts the warning of one of his own papers to avoid cultural bias, such as the aggressive memetic entity of CAGW promotes. And I disagree with Tallis, he seems to put up a strawman arguments about memes that aren’t really supported by mainstream literature, like science is memetic (it is not, real science is constrained by fact and this kills evolution – corruputed science *is* of course subject to evolution, and a memeplex can corrupt science, but then it’s no longer science anyhow). So I have to disagree with your comments I’m afraid, and maybe the full explantions in theessay text would reveal rather more as to why.

      • Andy, I have to disagree, the blogosphere proves that ‘flat facts’ do not kill or even constrain memeplexes.

        The Web amplifies an interesting phenomena about media in modern society.. it is now possible to almost completely insulate against apolitical ‘flat facts’.
        Echo chamber media environments filter out, ‘reinterpret’ or drown, apolitical flat facts to suit the target consumer, who has their preconceptions re-enforced.. since that re-enforcement is pleasurable, the consumer returns regularly and bias is strengthened by the constant re-enforcement, in a self-sustaining cycle.
        This re-enforcing effect is further amplified, when the flat facts are complex, but echo chamber ‘experts’ explain what the flat facts ‘really’ mean.

      • Lamna nasus | November 1, 2013 at 11:41 am |

        I think we may be strenuously agreeing on that one.

        I.e. I agree that ‘flat facts’ can be re-interpreted until they are not flat facts any more, and drowned out by obfuscation and various other effects like this, most of which are memetic and that is precisely an effect that a major memeplex like CAGW will create.

        What I meant was, flat facts will kill a memeplex *if they can still be heard*. In ‘real’ science, they are heard. In policy or politics that is still in touch with reality (scientific or historic), they are heard. But when a memeplex influences science or society too much, they are not, or are at least dluted/deflected.

        Whether this is overall harmful or not, is an entirely differetn question. Memeplexes have upsides as well as downsides. Tough to see any net benefit to CAGW at the moment though!

        The ‘ultimate’ selection, that of the decline of socities too influenced by negative memeplexes, will occur if they become too parasital and damaging. There will always be anothert society less influenced.

      • Andy, further to my earlier comments, one of the really interesting things about memeplexes is the way they present the issue of memeplexes as if it only affects other groups.. there appears to be an almost complete blind spot to self-recognition.. probably because flat facts are never actually heard on political forums..flat truths are talked about yes, but only within the context of the existing Groupthink and interpreted accordingly, effectively drowned at birth.. and then stuffed.

        In your article for instance, I could simply substitute the pejorative term CAGW, with Climate Denialism throughout.. then post virtually the entire article on an AGW forum and it would be accepted with equal levels of approval.

        I particularly enjoyed the irony (and in places outright contradictions) of this section of the article (which admittedly would need slightly more translation work for an opposing forum) –

        “ pressure upon religions by aggressive atheism as promoted by Richard Dawkins. From modification of theistic memes in the Old to the New Testament, to notions of Gaia and telegraph wires and wing-nuts. Plus memetic sex, witchcraft, cults, Cathars, concepts of salvation, Communism, hi-jacking altruism, Lynsenkoism, lichen, psychologizers, National Socialism, de-darwinisation, that ugly term ‘denier’, and much more.”

        I’ve always found it interesting that groups with a strong Monotheistic tendency are absolutely obsessed with interpreting environmentalism and atheism as ‘new’ religions.. its an enormously high profile and repetitive meme, probably because it reflects the world view of its source.. if an individual has a fairly strong religious ‘identity’, it appears the idea that this does not necessarily apply to others, is often so alien and so scary.. the individual immediately has to translate it back into a recognisable worldview.. ie. Well it HAS to be a religion, anything else does not compute.. there is the added advantage that if its re-classified as a religion, then a crusade can be called against it.. and the relevant materials require a minimum of editing.
        Not to mention the fact everywhere I go, I see churches and temples.. but stick an atheist poster on the side a London bus and apparently that’s ‘aggressive’!

        Another repetitive `meme’ is the conflation of communism and fascism ..Nazi, that’s short for National SOCIALISM.. it appears that at some point people of a right-wing political persuasion, realised that since Hitler was a mass murdering tyrant, this did not reflect well if they shared some of the same views.. therefore he was really a communist.. problem solved environmentalists can be fascists AND communists AND Democrats AND the AntiChrist AND a Global Conspiracy, all in one neat hate figure.. simples.

        One of the things I noticed about blogs and forums, when I first started using them back in 2001 was that pretty much all of them exhibited group think.. It didn’t matter whether they were from the right or the left politically.. equally they were all fairly certain they did not suffer from it.. Interestingly the issue was still noticeable, even if the forum was not about political issues, there was still a strong ‘tribal’ identity to most.
        Perhaps Groupthink carries some evolutionary benefit related to co-operation.

    • Free will is contingent; I can’t and won’t choose what I fear, or what I’m not equipped to understand, or have been comprehensively misled about.

      I speak as a long-time traitor to the green mitigation cause. Until my early 50s, over a decade ago, I bought into the “new, cleaner, greener technologies” meme. With most of its liberal baggage. A harsh challenge on a blogsite motivated me to “prove my case”.

      The numbers I found were quite otherwise than I’d been assuming and had been told. It took a while, but I eventually chose (in the face of monolithic family and societal consensus) the road less travelled.

  13. Andy,

    Have you had communication with Stefan Lewandowski, John Cook and the rest of the SkepticalScience team in memeplex? That would be interesting.

    • Hi Peter. No I have not. I quote one of Lewandowsky’s papers in the main essay (not one of the conspiracy ideation ones), where he warns against the type of cultural bias that he then falls straight into by failing to realise that CAGW is an aggressive (memetic) culture. But it’s very hard for folks immersed in a memeplex to see out (memes penetrate the pysche to alter people’s perceptions. So I figure they’d just dismiss me anyhow ):

  14. Thought provoking stuff, Andy, so thanks much for the illuminating perspective. I’ve often used ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusion and Madness of the Crowd’ to describe CAGW as a memeplex that has reached a destructive stage. Sure, we are herd critters, and forces which provoke herd movement are necessary and beneficial for herd and individual survival. But when panic, engendered by fear and guilt, are used to drive the herd toward a cliff, these forces have been perverted and become neither necessary nor beneficial, and that’s where we are with Catastrophic AGW. AGW is fresh pastures, CAGW is slaughter in a box canyon.

    OK, that’s enough superficiality for one early morning.

    • I’m An Old Cowhand
      Artist: Frank Sinatra

      I’m an old cowhand from the Rio Grande
      But my legs ain’t bowed
      And my cheeks ain’t tanned
      I’m a cowboy who never saw a cow
      Never roped a steer ’cause I don’t know how
      And I sure ain’t fixin’ to start in now

      I’m an old cowhand from the Rio Grande
      And I learned to ride
      ‘fore I learned to stand
      I’m a ridin’ fool who is up to date
      I know every trail in the Lone Star state
      ’cause I ride the range in a Ford V8

      I know all the songs that the cowboys know
      ’bout the big corral where the dogies go
      ’cause I learned them all on the rad-ee-o
      Hey, yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay

    • Hi Kim. Thanks. And that is very well put. I’ve been keeping an eye on your little poetic inserts, and have noticed that there is in fact a lot of meaning under your joky contributions. Not only that, but your understanding has been converging for the last year or so to precisely where we both meet today at the memeplex explanation. Think you have been under appreciated!

  15. The blind loyalty to the CAGW meme by its adherents is akin to religious fervor. Much of a religion’s power rests with the desire for there to be a power or force greater than Man which acknowledges, without surrendering, that there are powers greater than us. What is interesting about CAGW is that the power/force is CO2, a substance that is part of biological life processes yet is also a byproduct of Man’s technology which is one of the main weapons in the never-ending battle against Nature, an implacable, impersonal and brutal foe. CO2 is also a byproduct of capitalism, an economic system considered to be “evil” by many individuals so CAGW provides a perfect combination of religious awe and “social justice” for its believers.

    Multiplying its appeal is the phenomenon of those are who successful or well-to-do feeling guilt for their station in life. One only need to look to Hollywood and the “rich and famous” to see numerous examples of this guilt manifesting itself in their ignorant yet genuine belief in CAGW. There is also a powerful need for acceptance by their peers and the public for these celebrities and affluent individuals, so the social pressure to be “against” CAGW can be overwhelming. Those celebrities who deviate from the groupthink are ostracized and even denied opportunities to practice their craft which is why those who break ranks with their colleagues are usually older performers like Clint Eastwood.

    The groupthink mentality of course, applies to scientists and nowhere is this more evident than in climate science where the speaking out against the status quo or even questioning it can result in not only being ostracized, but the loss of publication opportunities, denial of tenure or even the loss of a job as our gracious hostess, Dr. Curry, can attest to. Similar to Hollywood, it is the tenured and established scientists who do speak out against the groupthink and in doing so, bring down the wrath of the climate establishment upon themselves.

    The last factor that enables the CAGW meme to endure is the reluctance of certain scientists to admit they are wrong! This, to me, is the most ironic and puzzling aspect since science is built on theories proven to be flawed or incorrect. Until the era of “post-normal” climatology science ends, and “normal” science defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses,” the battle between CAGW advocates and CAGW skeptics will continue in all of its nasty, petty, and ugly splendor.

    • “…the reluctance of certain scientists to admit they are wrong!”

      One of the most amusing and bemusing (non) actions of the alarmists is that they continue to assert that any errors found “don’t matter”, and yet they refuse to issue corrections. Surely if it “doesn’t matter”, then correcting a minor error and thanking the discoverer of the error would be the right (and polite!) thing to do? Apparently not…

    • Chuck L: “the reluctance of certain scientists to admit they are wrong! This, to me, is the most ironic and puzzling aspect since science is built on theories proven to be flawed or incorrect.”

      Some good observations in your answer above, imo. The above reluctance is puzzling indeed, until one understands that memes penetrate the psyche, and cause individuals to literally perceive the outside world in a different way, one that is very biassed towards the meme set they are immersed in. One source quoted in the fulll essay calls this ‘encapsulation’, and that’s quite a good visualisation. Some very encapsulated folks wouldn’t be able to admit they’re wrong, if that countered the memeplex which produced their encapsulation, until every possible other option was exhausted. Worse still, it is not just values and perceptions that get relativised, it is even morals. You only have to look at some memeplexes throughout history to confirm this. Anyhow, I give numerous examples of this process for CAGW in the essay.

  16. If someone can’t explain their big idea unambiguously in less than a paragraph, I usually suspect there isn’t much merit to their idea and more importantly, neither does short-term history. You’ll find such supposedly highly acclaimed and important books ten years later selling badly as job lots in front of your local five and dime store.


    • It may not be the big idea that is flawed, but the fact that I’m not very good at summarising it. Well we’re none of us perfect, and I think in fact very few of us can summarise big ideas very well. By the way, I’ve enjoyed some of your essays, and one of them is quoted extensively in support of this big idea (which isn’t really ny idea at all, there’s a whole branch of science that regularly studies this stuff), because you have essentially used language that supports a memetic characterisation. Follow link to main essay :)

      • @andywest2012

        I suggest that – if there really is a useful big idea lurking under your impenetrable prose – you spend your time trying to focus on its essentials, not on the length of the sentences or the obscurity of the words you can string together to discuss it. Out of academe, obscurity does not show shows muddled thinking.

        Summarise the idea in language that is accessible to educated but non-academic people. Distill it to its essence, and use simple direct language. Forget the endless digressions and footnotes. Leave out the technical words …or recast them into shorter more direct ones. Tell a story from beginning to end…give the poor benighted reader some reason to continue reading, not dying of tedium.

        Imagine that your audience has at most two minutes to grasp your idea, only a passing interest in it and is most likely pretty sceptical about it.

        If this is beyond you. then I fear that Pointman was (as so often) spot on with his remarks.

      • Hi Andy. I’m familiar with the ideas under discussion and I’m only too painfully aware of how difficult it can be to present complex ideas with simplicity and yet without losing accuracy. I don’t write, I rewrite and rewrite and rewrite, which is why I’ll never get more than one piece a week out. I got to the end of the piece but found it extremely hard going.

        I think the idea of memes, being a conceptual spin off from more concrete genes, is an indirect example of the pitfalls of argument by analogy.

        In the end, appealing though the idea is, we’re actually talking about a fashion wave by another fancier name, albeit one less physical but nonetheless eminently wearable or should I say displayable? A belief in AGW is a lifestyle choice.

        People adopt a fashion because it appeals to their self image or is a symbol of a fashion ideal they aspire to. But unlike a gene, adopting a fashion meme is entirely a voluntary process, hence the bunch of AGW skeptics both in the blogosphere and the real world.

        For meme, you could substitute fashion or even as I’ve done, the dream.

        Memes are a cute idea but it’s been pushed way too far.


      • Pointman | November 1, 2013 at 11:20 am |

        Hi Pointman. I’ve read hundreds of your comments over recent years, some of your other writings too, and largely agree with your position on CAGW. But we have to part company on the subject of memes I think.

        The gene/meme comparison is only a very broad conceptual starter to get people at stage 1 familiarity, and is not how memes, and especially major alliances of memes in memplexes, are really best understood. My own approach is rooted in the more mainstream context of cultural evolution, and the more relevant cross-over comparisons to biology (appendix 3 in essay) are really more a connection to group and multi-level selection and fuzzy entities and sidewise transfer between viruses. Memes are still at the primeval stage in the human soup, and are not so sophisticated, nor so packetised as modern genes (which have a 3 billion year start). There is vast literature on all this, and the essay draws upon various parts of this. An understanding of why memeplexes and their subsiduary memes are not simply a ‘lifestyle choice’ can be gleaned from their deep penetration into the psyche, and this in trun comes from their extremely long co-evolution with our genes. For an explanation of the latter, the emedded link ‘Blackmore’ (Susan Blackmore, the well-known memeticist) in the fourth paragraph of the Post, will take you to a great starter article.

      • I’ll meet you on that distant shore where disagreements wash up.


      • I’m with Latimer and Pointman here. Writing clear, easily comprehended prose is much harder than writing impenetrable sludge – especially when the issues are complex and nuanced. My training was distilling the biggest issues of the day onto a single, triple-spaced page of bullet points in 14pt for senior politicians – without misrepresenting the nuances. It took years to become proficient at it, and along the way my tolerance for verbiage plummeted.

        I’m afraid I didn’t make it very far into the essay. I don’t regard the study of “memes” or “memeplexes” as a science, as Andy does. All sociological study is more like an art – although it may require a high level of technical skill and analysis.

        I don’t subscribe to the view that it is worthless, which is held by some “hard” scientists and by people who are understandably fed up with the bilge that spews out from the ever-increasing number of social “science” graduates who have nothing substantial to contribute. But, it is very difficult indeed (as it is in the hard sciences) to make an exceptional contribution, and then to communicate it well.

        The reality is that just as in every field of endeavour, only a tiny minority are “stars.” The rest are just working stiffs, at best.

        I don’t think that climate alarmism is a meme(plex). It is based in the rise of radical environmentalism in the 1970s, and the convergence of a lot of interest groups around a theme which serves many different, and sometimes conflicting, objectives.

        History is a discipline which has a lot more potential to explain how this came about than analysing the human psyche, IMHO.

      • Johanna,

        Very clearly expressed. Thank you.

      • johanna | November 2, 2013 at 2:32 am |

        Hi Johanna. Various historical examples of religious and secular memeplexes are cited in the essay.

      • TL;DR – Johanna can be full of herself.

  17. I do not think this started as a scam or hoax. In fact I was shocked to hear Bill Gray to refer to it as that as early as 2006. But after having dug the hole so deep, that they can not get out, it has evolved into that. Its like the man digging for treasure. He digs 20 feet and someone says, wait, the maps says you are wrong, its a mile from here. They refuse to believe it because they have done so much work and the reward ( saving the planet, worship from others, fame, riches) is so great IF they are right, they scream at the messenger to shut up or get a shovel and help them dig further.

    Given the gravy train this has evolved into, and the Alinsky like tactics ( Isolate, demonize, destroy) Gray as usual was right in sniffing this out.
    Compared to some of the things I have been called, hoax or scam is nice.

    • I Agree with your analysis. It is a hoax now, but I think originally it was seen as a valid way to advance an agenda. It fit their needs, and so they used it.

      • “…originally it was seen as a valid way to advance an agenda.”

        Perhaps by politicians and other power seekers, but not, I think, from the science establishment side – on that side, I think it was advanced as a hypothesis and that, like so many examples from science history, it took on a life of it’s own (became a meme-complex) only when (attempted, at least) political actions pushed it to the forefront of a wider social context.

        It is completely understandable that someone who has been studying a field that is a “backwater” and not seen as “important” would align themselves with those who support their field as “important” and more deserving of funding. That is not to say this was a conscious choice, merely that it’s hard to disagree with people who say you are a genius or a visionary person and offer you the sort of funding that you could previously only dream of.

      • yes, I am making practical descriptive political points.

        There you go Moshpit – fixed it for you.

    • A memeplex (such as CAGW) is not a scam or a hoax. It’s ageneda is the emergent agenda produced by selection, not the agenda of individuals. But plenty of scams and hoaxes can form around the edges by folks who feed off it.

      • Steven Mosher


        yes, I am making practical descriptive points.

        Gary has no real argument against this. that’s why he hides in moral platitudes and claims some special access to the truth and other mens minds and hearts.

        the simple practical fact is that man is an animal. Like any good predator he isolates his target and attacks.

        gary is trying it now because he is an animal, and pretends that it is somehow either practically different, intentionally different, or morally different. he lies and pretends he is not an animal, all the while showing his animal nature

    • Isolate, demonize, destroy



      you realize that after we finished the book on climategate that some people praised our alinsky tactics.

      there’s nothing special about alinsky tactics. he just named what people on all sides of conflict do. we are animals.


      • Nonsense. Alinsky advocated isolating, demonizing and destroying political opponents without regard for truth.

        Progressives still follow his lead at every turn. Every opponent is demonized and isolated, truth be damned. Case in point being Dr. Curry.

        Telling the truth about liars is not the same as telling lies about those with integrity.

        Except perhaps in the value free world of progressive politics. (And for the hundredth time, that includes progressive Republicans.)

      • Steven Mosher


        the tactics are the same because the tactics work. they are useful.

        There is a very famous skeptic who once pointed out to me in confidence that he used alinsky’s tactics. we laughed.

        in short, there is no practical difference in using these tactics to attack liars or truth tellers. no practical difference.

        once again you have a distinction without a difference.

        You want to claim some sort of moral superiority for your animal behavior.

        that’s also a tactic. nice try. it doesnt work

      • Some folks use the rhetorical tactics of Goebels. Others just use rhetorical tactics. Ask PG to tell you which person is using which tactics.

      • Steven Mosher,

        And there, in a nutshell, is where you are lost.

        To you, there is no practical difference between lying to achieve a result, and telling the truth to achieve a result.

        You are horribly, tragically wrong. True holocaust denialism is not the same as the creation of the Holocaust Museum. One seeks to demonize Jews, is completely false, and paves the way for future genocide. The other seeks to demonize genocidal maniacs, in the hope of preventing future genocides. That is a huge practical difference.

        Amorality has its own consequences. Moral relativism, as you have just so eloquently stated it, is not just wrong, it is dangerous.

        Put less dramatically, if both sides of a debate are constrained to telling the truth, it has an ENORMOUS practical difference on the policy that results.

        Put more simply, lying is not practically the same as telling the truth. No amount of obscurantism can change that.

      • GaryM, I think you and SM are talking past one another. SM is attempting to make a descriptive point about use of rhetoric, while you are making a normative point about use of rhetoric. You could both be right, or both be wrong.

      • NW,

        Not at all. Mosher’s “descriptive” point was that the “normative” difference between lying and telling the truth in the use of rhetoric has no practical implications.

        But then I am using “practical” in the sense of its normal definition: “of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas.”

        Lord only knows how Mosher is using the word.

      • Steven Mosher


        yes, I am making practical descriptive points.

        Gary has no real argument against this. that’s why he hides in moral platitudes and claims some special access to the truth and other mens minds and hearts.

        the simple practical fact is that man is an animal. Like any good predator he isolates his target and attacks.

        gary is trying it now because he is an animal, and pretends that it is somehow either practically different, intentionally different, or morally different. he lies and pretends he is not an animal, all the while showing his animal nature

      • Just so long as we don’t say “we are merely animals.” Animals build termite mounds. Humans build Paris. And on the moral side, animals don’t have elaborate programs to save the humans (though maybe they should).

      • Steven Mosher has no real argument in this. He’s just an AGW pusher. He has shown no ability to be anything else.


      • “Not at all. Mosher’s “descriptive” point was that the “normative” difference between lying and telling the truth in the use of rhetoric has no practical implications.”

        Had you added “to outcomes”, I would heartily agree. And that’s the difference.
        Being honest and admitting your mistakes is very much appreciated by those who are affected by your actions – to the point that I have personally been abused by colleges for daring to do this, while the customer (and indeed, the boss too!) then asks specifically for me the next time they call. They may not be happy with what I have to say, but they know they are not being lied to in an attempt to protect anything or anyone, and that is more important to them than any feel-good crap that others may spew at them. And that is why I am more inclined to accept the arguments made at CA than those made at RC – CA admits and corrects mistakes as soon as they come to attention, RC on the other hand attempt to cover them up and distract from them instead.

      • NW,

        Someone wants what his neighbor has, enters into his neighbor’s house, kills him, and takes what he has.

        Down the road, he enters another neighbor’s home to do the same thing. The neighbors awakens, however, and kills the intruder.

        In Mosherland, they have both been acting as animals. Morality is irrelevant. They are both killing at least in part over property. But that doesn’t matter, because in Mosherland, intent and morality are irrelevant. “We are all animals.”

        In Mosherland, murder and self defense are “practically” the same thing.

        However, if you live in a world where this view is dominant, you will have a lot more killing. In fact this can be seen in the real world every day.

        But don’t worry. Mosher doesn’t even really believe what he is saying. It’s just that he will say anything to win the debate of the moment. As he has so often in the past. If I can find it, I’ll link to his hilarious response some time ago that showed this so clearly, when he first started throwing the word obscurantist around, like he had found a shiny new toy.

        Alinsky, on the other hand, actually believed and practiced the amorality Mosher professes to believe is our nature.

        Mosher’s comment was “there’s nothing special about alinsky tactics. he just named what people on all sides of conflict do. we are animals.”

        But he either has never actually read Alinsky, or is being dishonest. Alinsky specifically advocated lying about your opponent (and yourself) to achieve your ends.

        Obamacare is as good an example yet that Alinsky tactics, the requisite use of lies to attack your opponent, have practical effects that can be devastating.

        Alinsky is quite like Mosher in one sense. He argues that it is in fact immoral not to use immoral means to achieve a “just” end. And in fact he justifies the draconian tactics he urges in general on appeals to what is now euphemistically referred to as “social justice”.

        Those who pretend the loudest to be too sophisticated for morality, always cloak their agendas in its trappings.

    • “Hoax” speaks to motive, not description. It’s possible for Mr. Smith to be using a belief as a hoax, and Mr. Jones to believe exactly the same thing sincerely. Whether or not CAGW or anything else is a hoax can only be determined in the mind of the purveyor.

      Are there CAGW hoaxers? Sure. Are there also CAGW true believers? Absolutely. The thing itself doesn’t make it a hoax, the perpetrator does. Of course, history shows that true believers are generally more dangerous than cynics.

      • Harold: ‘Of course, history shows that true believers are generally more dangerous than cynics.’

        This, indeed, can be a great danger regarding those immersed in a memeplex

  18. Life began on Earth about three and a half billion years (3.5 Ga) ago. Human life is a recent development.

    Survival and reproduction, two of the oldest instinctive traits of life, dominate the emotional side of humans and still account for ~95-99% of all human activity.

    The other 1-5% of human activity is controlled by rational thought, a relatively new quality of humans that is easily overpowered by instincts.

    The scientific method is designed to protect the rational side of humans from emotional interference, because our very survival as humans depends on our rational contact with reality (knowledge).

    Humans are more animalistic and more easily controlled when their behavior is directed by emotions: Gladiator sports, AGW fear of survival, video games and TV shows that induce the production of adrenalin.

  19. I thought “CAGW” was explainable simply as, “An imaginary concept that is brought forth as an incantation whenever there is a need to ward off the possibility of serious discussion.”

  20. John DeFayette

    Aaahhh, this is a most exquisite way to spend my Friday off. Sitting in my hotel room in a small Algerian city, Friday prayers blaring from a loudspeaker outside my open window (local imam angrily but incomprehensibly decrying sins that I have indubitably visited upon his pure populace), I curl up with Adam West’s highly readable and entertaining essay on the CAGW cult.

    Thank you for making this day so much fun in its irony.

    • “Friday prayers blaring from a loudspeaker outside my open window”……I wonder if you will have fond memories once you no longer have them …..I do a little.

  21. There nay be some truth in what Andy has to say, but climate change, real or imagined,has to be taken more seriously than a meme. The contributors to these columns are not just meme driven automata.

  22. Vaughan Pratt

    Where to draw the line? Andy West proposes to draw it between CAGW and AGW. Yet essentially all commenters on this question lump AGW along with CAGW as unscientific. What is wrong with this picture?

    • Nothing, AGW can’t be isolated because the CAGW fans blurred the line. That is actually part of meme building, capture the uncertainty. If Charney had said, “Wait. There it too large a gap between Hansen and Manabe. Go back and start over.” Instead of, “Okay, let’s just split it down the middle and double the uncertainty.” There would be a line.

    • Where to draw the line? Andy West proposes to draw it between CAGW and AGW

      Call it as it is ,The former is an Eschatological Problem (Nalimov 1976) from which a scientific solution is not required.

    • “commenters on this question lump AGW along with CAGW as unscientific”

      OK Vaughn, here’s the million-dollar question…

      What’s the difference between AGW and CAGW? Put your answer in scientific terms. You will be graded.


      • Vaughan Pratt

        Too late, I asked first. ;)

      • The difference between AGW and CAGW may be right under your nose.

        AGW is the amount observed based on empirical data. CAGW is any significant warming beyond this point, currently not detectable due to the long lags of slow-feedback processes.

        So CAGW > AGW

        Otherwise I don’t know what the difference is either, because science doesn’t obey labeling and I am just following the observational data.

      • CAGW is a term introduced by climate skeptics. I would be putting words in their mouth to presume to define a term originating with them.

      • So, if CAGW is an unscientific term, but it can’t be distinguished from AGW, guess where that leaves us?


      • insert picture of Gore breathing fire.

      • The distinction has nothing to do with science; it’s about policy (as is usually the case with these climate things). AGW doesn’t suggest any particular policy, but CAGW demands it.

      • Pratt’s being quaint, and it’s a wonderful self-parody. He’s getting the measure of that goofy ocean elevator temp rise story, though.

      • In IPCC terms, AGW would be what is in the WG1 report covering temperature and precipitation and acidification in the earth system, while I would say that CAGW is what is in WG2 which covers ecological and human impacts, so I would term AGW as the physical science and CAGW as mostly biology and societal impacts. The skeptics use the term CAGW because they see this part of the report as outlining a catastrophic future.

  23. Like many here, I’ve long been aware of this herd mentality around CAGW. At a certain point it began to appear obvious to me. I liken it to the kind of herd mentality one sees in financial bubbles. Are some individuals just blessed…for lack of a better word early in the morning…with the ability to recognize these things, while some are not?

    I’d love to take a survey to determine whether the warmists on this blog recognized the real estate bubble back in 2006. I’m guessing skeptics were much more likely to be, well, skeptical of the claims that housing could never go down in value….I know I was. Trouble with that would be the tendency for people not to be honest…

    Of course exacerbating this whole thing is the clear financial and career incentives to be on board. Some of these people must see CAGW obsessions for what it is, just as many in the financial industry knew the mortgages they were writing would eventually blow up…

  24. A reasoned article but Dr. Curry says nothing other than ask for “civility”. If you can’t endorse the political truth of AGW is that the same as a lie?

    To the mob AGW and CAGW are one in the same, I’d rather the author not muddle the difference with reasoning. There is no reciprocal demands for skeptics to more logical in the face of political hating. Applying the double standard weakens the core case. It wouldn’t be any better if alarmists dropped the “c” out of CAGW and became Curryites longer-term. It still leads to statist regulations and” expert” management.

    • I would like to put forth an analogy to distinguish between AGW and CAGW.

      I put a half gallon bottle of whiskey in front of you.

      Let’s assume you like whiskey, you think it tastes nice and you like what it does to your body and mind.

      Here’s the question, will you take a couple shots, or drink the whole bottle?

      That’s how I see the difference between AGW and CAGW. I still think there are some things man cannot do without CO2 emissions, but burning coal for electricity is not one of them. That is where we should start.

      I these memeplexes are like genes, then there is a competition going on between the CAGW groupthink, herd mentality memeplex and the “skeptic” groupthink herd mentality memeplex just like genes compete for survival in the biological world.

      Good luck Sceptics, it looks like you are losing.

      • Bob Droege: “I these memeplexes are like genes, then there is a competition going on between the CAGW groupthink, herd mentality memeplex and the “skeptic” groupthink herd mentality memeplex just like genes compete for survival in the biological world.”

        Ah… I missed this earlier. Now we are getting somewhere. Perhaps the point wasn’t wholly lost afer all ;)

      • Sounds like you’ve already polished off half the bottle.
        Oh well, as long as you know what you’re talking about.

      • No, it’s mankind that has polished off half the bottle, time to sober up!

      • Ah, why didn’t you say it was a scientific argument then?

  25. I am one of the writers Andy West refers to when he says “I realized that many people instinctively sense the memetic characteristics of CAGW, and typically express this in blogs or articles…”

    • This is an interesting essay, thanks Jonathan. You start on a great opening line including: ‘They cannot seem to accept the probability that they live in unexceptional times’.

      ‘Our times are special’ is an ancient meme that goes around and around and turns up as a component of many major memeplexes. Straight out of the gate you have identified a memetic driver. This meme and two more like it: ‘we are special’, and ‘the past is always better’, are explored in the essay, the last one in enormous but fascinating detail. In fact one of the earliest pieces of deciphered writing we have, approx 3500 BC, is an example of ‘the past ios always better’ meme. A ref out from the essay explores a modern version rampant on the Internet. If you look at the essay summary pdf that Judith links, you can home in on the right sections, then follow up the info on these curious little critters. The two ‘special’ identification memes are overall helpful to society, as they encourage people to strive, hence their extreme fitness and spread in the population, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have downsides…

      • Andy –

        ‘Our times are special’ is an ancient meme that goes around and around and turns up as a component of many major memeplexes. Straight out of the gate you have identified a memetic driver. This meme and two more like it: ‘we are special’, and ‘the past is always better’,

        Surely, you have read these “memes” on a regular basis here at Climate Etc., written by “skeptics?” So, then, on what basis is CAGW a memeplex but “skepticism” not?

        I have seen Judith do something very similar to what I see you doing here. You arbitrarily determine that there is some “asymmetry,” then pick the criteria you’re going to use to find that asymmetry and throw a confirmation bias party.

        Do you show, in some scientific way, that “the past is always better,” or any of the other memes that coalesce into your memeplex, are somehow more characteristic on one side of the climate war battle line than on the other?

        And while I’m at it, why is it the “CAGW memeplex” and not the “taxation demand memplex?”

      • Skeptics, antiquated ideas, heartless, ignorant;
        No proof, no justification, all skeptics;
        Joshua like Goebbels

      • Joshua | November 2, 2013 at 9:13 am |

        Yes, I have seen these memes used by skeptics, and others, some arguments that are soaked in memes. I think I’ve mentioned all this on these threads (I hate threading – I can never find anything!) as well as in the essay. And the essay also points out the memetic content even of the ‘enlightened immersed’, who cry out against memetic tyranny but blame the police / priests and not the process. One speech cited in this category is by Judith Curry. Another is by the editress of ‘The Isis’ in 1832. Different memplexes, same speech.

        But I’m begining to see where you’re coming from and the piece that is causing difficulty. I think it is the difference between a meme and a memeplex? Without being too literal, a first pass way to view is ‘gene’ and ‘gene pool’. Two very different things. A gene pool as expressed in a population (‘species’ will do for now), is not at all the same as a single gene. Think of all the things a species is that a gene is not. Most skeptic comment is free-riding memes, but they are not ‘coalesced’, to use your word, into a memeplex.

        Regarding your ‘scientific way’, you have to kind of work backwards, and show whether (or not) all the component parts of a memeplex (listed in Appendix 1 and elsewhere) map on to the religion or secular phenomenon you are looking at. With any evidence you can find, formal informal, anecdotal or whatever. It’s not laid out in best order (expanded as I went on), but this is done for CAGW. Skeptics don’t fit this model, they are really only defined in the CAGW memeplex, as opposition to it. Most opposition that eventually defeats a memeplex (if it is going to be defeated), often comes from the ‘enlightened’ inside it, who are still paritally immersed. This is because ‘outside’ often doesn’t have a significant power base. Hence the 2 speeches mentioned above are the kind of important markers to look at.

        I maybe confused you with ‘taxation demand’. It is a term that some use for one of the memeplex components, see Appendix 1. Did you read the pdf ‘summary’ that Judith links? This is only 2 or 3 pages long, and includes a very heavily condensed digest on each section of the essay, plus a list of all the references. This is not too taxing, and you can use it to home in on a section that may interest you…

      • Andy –

        But I’m begining to see where you’re coming from and the piece that is causing difficulty. I think it is the difference between a meme and a memeplex?

        I don’t think that is it. I think it is pretty much what I said it is. You have failed to describe, at least in a way that make sense to me, a coherent and cohesive definition of the “CAGW memeplex,” that is distinct and differentiated based on objective and broadly applied criteria.

        Most skeptic comment is free-riding memes, but they are not ‘coalesced’, to use your word, into a memeplex.

        Again, as with your definition of what is coalesced into a coherent “CAGW memeplex,” that statement seems to me to be merely a subjective assessment. Seems to me that you are more or less randomly staking some set of memes and calling them a “memeplex,” and taking another set of memes and calling them “not a memeplex,” in an arbitrary fashion.

        Now, of course, since I haven’t read you essay I have no way of knowing for sure whether you correct for the problem that I’m describing in your more in-depth analysis – but it is interesting that I have raised this question with you now, a number of times, yet your answers are limited to basically repeating that what you say is so because you say it so, and that you prove it in your more in-depth essay. I would think that you would be able to, in this real-time exchange, be able to articulate a clear set of criteria that address the problem I keep raising.

        Regarding your ‘scientific way’, you have to kind of work backwards, and show whether (or not) all the component parts of a memeplex (listed in Appendix 1 and elsewhere) map on to the religion or secular phenomenon you are looking at. With any evidence you can find, formal informal, anecdotal or whatever. It’s not laid out in best order (expanded as I went on), but this is done for CAGW.

        This does not seem like a particularly scientific or empirical process. Seems to me that at some point, you should be offering a theory and seeking ways to confirm or falsify that theory. For example, what are the attributes of the associated memes that make “CAGW” a memeplex but “skepticism” not a memeplex? What is true about the group of aggregated memes associated with “CAGW” that comprise a memeplex that is not true about the aggregated memes associated with “skepticism?” The closest that you have come to answering this question is by saying that “skeptics” are not a cohesive group, or that the “skeptical” memes don’t form a cohesive entity, but again, you are arguing by assertion when you say that, and you aren’t giving me anything to evaluate by way of clear criteria or a clear definition of terms.

        Skeptics don’t fit this model, they are really only defined in the CAGW memeplex, as opposition to it.

        So you say, but you don’t prove this in any discernable (at least to me) fashion. For example, “skeptics” (at least in the U.S.) are largely defined by anti-tax ideology. They are largely defined by a lack of trust in government-funded research. They are largely defined by political orientation. They are largely defined by having formulated a firm opinion despite a lack of in-depth knowledge about the science Now please know, I am most definitely not saying that those attributes are causal to a “skeptical” identification, nor am I saying that there aren’t notable exceptions w/r/t each of those attributes (for example, most of the “skeptics” who are active in the skept-osphere are not ignorant of the science).

        I maybe confused you with ‘taxation demand’.

        I don’t think so. I am asking you two questions related to that “meme.” Why is it subverted in your hierarchy to “CAGW” as the defining label for your memeplex? Why isn’t a (putative) religious belief in CAGW just one meme in the “tax demand” memeplex. I see no overarching and coherent layering, or hierarchy in your taxonomy. Rather, it seems to me, that your hierarchy is arbitrarily structured.

        Again, perhaps in your essay you clarify all of this. Or then again, you might be able to clarify it here in your comments. It seems to me that you are mostly repeating, essentially, “It is true because I say it is true,” and “I prove it in my essay.” At least it seems to me that I am making the same points repeatedly without having them addressed. Perhaps you are addressing them and I’m just not smart or knowledgeable enough to get it. I can live with that.

      • Joshua | November 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm |

        I definately have confused you with ‘taxation demand’. My mention has nothing to do with taxes (i.e. of the fiscal kind), it’s a term some folks use to describe an attribute of memeplexes.

        I don’t sense we’re getting much closer. So perhaps an example will be better. A memeplex has certain attributes, of which one is a reward system. Religious memeplexes are always the most convenient and well known ones to compare to, so one of the ultimate rewards in say the Christian memeplex, is an afterlife in heaven (of course only for those that stay within / obey the tenets of the memplex). This aids in replication of subsiduary memes and the attraction of adherents. Secular memeplexes cannot always be so blatant as to offer a direct salvation system as a primary reward, but will have salvation substitutes that get as near as they can.

        So, CAGW (and with this term I’m always refering ONLY to ‘the social phenomenon of’, NOT to actual climate events or [uncorrupted] science, but yes including memetically corrupted science) has at least 2 salvation substitutes, one weak and one strong. To work well these schema have to be very well known and very widely believed. There’s a whole section on this in the essay, but briefly (and therefore less well), the weak one invokes a gaia like notion, it is ‘her’ we are saving rather than us, though it is not always expressed using the word ‘gaia’ itself of course. This is weak because it has a relatively poor self-identification. The stronger one is ‘save the children / grandchildren’ , which has much greater self-identification, if you can’t save yourself at least your progeny will be ok. The chapter lists some quotes, but CAGW is bursting with these memes, which are not just from fringe advocacy but mainstream folks, and are pretty well known and pretty well believed world-wide. Such systems have to appeal to deep psychological needs to really take hold.

        For this particular memeplex characteristic, where is the salvation substitute, or similar deep-invocation reward system, that is universally acknowledged, and widely believed by the great majority of those who do acknowledge, for skeptics?

        Maybe this is a better way to make headway?

      • The do-gooder meme runs deep throughout the liberal psyche – especially the minions of the elitists.

      • Andy –

        A memeplex has certain attributes, of which one is a reward system.

        “Skepticism” has a reward system. Among the many rewards are: vindication of a sense of victimization, confirmation bias (“See, I am smart, I was right, I understand the science better than supposed experts.”), confirmation of membership in a group, being a savior – protecting society against “fraud,” saving us from economic ruin, protecting against the installation of a “one world government,” vanquishing the “enemy” (read some of Chief’s posts), fulfilling a role to protect the public (read Spencer) to defeat the Eugencists (read Lindzen), to defeat the Lysenkoists (read practically any “skeptical” blog), to defeat the destructive “advocates” (read Judith) and those who are corrupting science (read RPJr.), saving our economy from ruin, saving us from the attack on capitalism, saving the virtue of science itself, etc.

        The stronger one is ‘save the children / grandchildren’ , which has much greater self-identification,…

        As an observer of the “skept-o-sphere,” surely you have seen this theme, or meme if you will, ubiquitously. Arguments about who are really going to save the children/grandchildren are characteristic on both sides of the climate wars. Surely you have seen Willis’ self-congratulatory posts where he is working to “save” the children who will starve and freeze to death if this “realists,” who are indifferent to the plight of those children, are allowed to get their way.

        but CAGW is bursting with these memes, which are not just from fringe advocacy but mainstream folks, and are pretty well known and pretty well believed world-wide.

        See above:

        Such systems have to appeal to deep psychological needs to really take hold.

        Agreed. And those psychological needs are common to the different participants in this process. For me, since they are human attribute attributable to underlying aspects of our cognitive processes and our psycholgical makeup, the starting point is that those needs should be no stronger in one group, on the whole, as compared to another. To assert that they are, IMO, requires some validated evidence.

        For this particular memeplex characteristic, where is the salvation substitute, or similar deep-invocation reward system, that is universally acknowledged, and widely believed by the great majority of those who do acknowledge, for skeptics?

        See above. Also, consider that the vast majority of “skeptics” are fully convinced in their views despite not understanding the science. Consider the “alarmism” that we see among “skeptics” on a regular basis (such as the “oh my God, another ice age” misinterpretation that “skeptics” leap to as evidenced in the threat two floors up).

        Maybe this is a better way to make headway?

        Not really, Andy. I still haven’t seen from you a distinct set of criteria that apply to one set of memes but not the other, so as to validate your distinctions and your definitions.

        But I do appreciate your (respectful) engagement.

      • Joshua | November 3, 2013 at 9:49 am |

        and I appreciate your polite and very well reasoned argument too, and see a lot more where you are coming from. But I think this is the point where I respectfully part company (and think / hope that at last I see the viewpoint that I am parting company from). I’m famliar with the reward list you state, but I don’t think it’s anywhere universal and deep enough to drive hordes of ordinary folks, which is what a memeplex needs for fuel. Neither are all the rest equally weighted, the bait, the hook, the punishment system, the taxation demand (nothing to do with fiscal taxation!!). These are all big time and deep for CAGW, certainly on a scale to compete with a religious memeplex in scale, which is not bad going for a secular memeplex. CAGW controls the agenda to which skeptics must dance, therefore their own interactions and drives have very little room to evolve, and one of their biggest gambits is to conentrate upon auditing, which glues them more firmly to reality and hence reduces the opportunity for evolution still more.

        However, one thing I will concede. It is only the above dominance of CAGW that keeps the situation like that. And it is certainly true that there is a load of memetic content in many skeptic arguments. So if ever CAGW (the social phenomenon, almost nothing to do with actual climate events or [unbiassed] science), then I for one would be watching to see if a new memeplex arose from some of the components of skepticism, which at that point would likely mushroom.

      • Damn. ‘So if ever CAGW *collapsed* ‘

      • Andy –

        Yes, the point of departure is becoming somewhat in clearer focus, but I think it is where I was saying it was all along:

        I’m famliar with the reward list you state, but I don’t think it’s anywhere universal and deep enough to drive hordes of ordinary folks, which is what a memeplex needs for fuel.

        Well, that might be…. W/o direct evidence it is hard to say, but it is universal and deep enough to underlie (not necessarily play a causal role) to result in near certain opinions among “skeptics” who don’t really found their opinions on the science.

        Consider this:

        and this:

        and perhaps most interestingly, this:

        Of course, those polling data should be treated with appropriate skepticism directed towards any polling data, but I think it unlikely that the picture the paint is diametric to reality – as would seem to me to be suggested by your singling out at “‘CAGW memeplex” from the family of memeplexes that inhabit the climate wars.

        Perhaps the “CAGW memeplex,” to the extent that is exists (and I’m not sure that it does), catches your attention, differentially, for one of two reasons or both: (1) it is larger, but not necessarily more coherently structured than the “skeptical” memeplex, and (2) your own motivated reasoning that leads you to be selective in how you treat evidence.

      • Joshua, you are not convincing me with this. Yes there is a minor skepical entanglement and triumph (for want of a better word) with one wing of one party in one country. But just try to imagine crafting a ‘start from scratch’ religion (as some folks have attempted) using the minor rewards you mentioned and little known St Lindzen etc. It’s a non-starter! Then imagine doing it with the evil in the sky, your children are all gonna fry, and a host of other memes with universal punch at psychological level that CAGW has currently collected. Memeplexes require mass adherence, and as the mass increases, you get the structure, the universal reward systems and punishment and orthodox policing and such, which structure then provides positive feedback to get more adherents. It doesn’t matter whether there is some truth or not in the original premise, once evolution sets in the exaggerations will grow and will serve the purpose of sustaining the memeplex, and become very distanced from what scientific facts actually exist. I respect your opinion (and even more your reasoned and polite argument), but I don’t think you can claim any of this, especially the mass adherence required for strcuture, exists for skepticism. Sketicism has no universal pyschological button-pushes; it only exists in opposition to CAGW. That doesn’t mean that, in different circumstances, like the collapse of CAGW, that the current skeptic narratives (including memetic content) could morph into the core for a memeplex. It’s just that they blatantly don’t form a memeplex right now, and most likley never will.

  26. If you are intoxicated by a fashionable term, it’s best to avoid it for a day – or longer! As with epistemics, so with memetics. Avoidance can concentrate the mind wonderfully. You may find you had little to say, but – who knows? – there may be a worthwhile notion rattling around in your noggin, just waiting to pop out. You’ll never know till you ditch the academese.

  27. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    The  CAGW  Cholera Memeplex, or
    Restore the Pump Handle John Snow!

    Whatever is happening in the great outdoors regarding actual  climate  epidemics, inside the minds of men overwhelming evidence indicates that  Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming   the Germ Theory of Disease is a self-sustaining narrative that is living off our mental capacity, either in symbiosis or as an outright cultural parasite; a narrative that is very distanced from physical real-world events.

    The social phenomenon of  CAGW  cholera possesses all the characteristics of a grand memetic alliance, like numerous similar structures before it stretching back beyond the reach of historic records, and no doubt many more cultural creatures that have yet to birth.

    Conclusion  Restore the pump handle, John Snow!

    In John Snow’s era there were *many* faux-arguments advanced against the science of public health.

    What *were* the ideological origins of opposition to public health science, we may reasonably ask, eh Andy West?

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

  28. It is unfortunate that this model of cognition is presented dogmatically rather than scientifically as a hypothesis. The question why it is rational to have strong opinions given uncertainty and conflicting opinions is both deep and important, and this model addresses that question. I like the approach where ideas and issues are biological entities, while people are hosts, as it were, but taken alone this is too metaphorical to be useful. The post is full of strained metaphors. New language suggests new science. Let’s see it. We need operational definitions and real data.

    I would also like to see how rationality and truth play into this model. I do not see either concept in play but how the world actually is never goes away.

    It is also unfortunate that people want to use analysis of the debate, in the debate. This leads to contradiction.

    • > It is also unfortunate that people want to use analysis of the debate, in the debate. This leads to contradiction.

      It would be nice if our in-house logician deemed to show this contradiction.

      • It typically takes the logical form of “I strongly believe that anyone with strong beliefs is wrong,” which is a variation on the Russell paradox. Claiming your opponent is being ideological, irrational, motivated, etc., typically generate this contradiction, because the argument applies just as well to the speaker.

      • The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse

        Seem apropos in this context to mention the Curry paradox.'s_paradox

        If this sentence is true, then climate change is a hoax.

        It’s called naive set theory for a reason.

      • > It typically takes the logical form of “I strongly believe that anyone with strong beliefs is wrong,” which is a variation on the Russell paradox.

        If that’s the case, then I’m asking for a proof that analyzing a debate within a debate leads to such a contradiction.

        This proof would show how one can’t simply analyze a debate while debating.

        This proves needs to construct a notion of analysis.

        Good luck with that:



        > Claiming your opponent is being ideological, irrational, motivated, etc., typically generate this contradiction, because the argument applies just as well to the speaker.

        Uttering “you are motivated” is not contradicted by the fact that its utterer may also be motivated.

        Uttering “you are motivated” does not prove the utterer is motivated.

        Uttering “you are motivated” could very well be considered trivial, which is the opposite of being contradictory.

      • Uttering “you are motivated” is empty tautology.

      • Sometimes, tautologies are not empty.
        Atlas shrugs and says:
        > A is A.

      • Ab asino lanum if you ask me. But I haven’t been able to read more than 30 pages of any of Rand’s books, so that reference escapes me.

      • > Ab asino lanum if you ask me.

        If you ask me, it matters to remind ourselves that statements, whether they are used in debates, analyses or elsewhere, convey more than their logical content. Sometimes, they even help perform speech acts.

    • david,

      if you study memes you will see that memes pair with other memes and they go in circles. Not trees. Circles. not debates, dances.
      not decisions, denouments. not proofs, plots.

      • I have not studied the topology of memes, Steven, but I doubt that what you say is true, except for the pairing part. Ideas often have counter ideas. Hegel got that right. Disagreement is essential for progress.

    • And now I agree with David.

      Real data and real operational definitions are entirely missing from the post.
      Science is missing as well.

      Reminds me of a time when I was having a rather heated argument with my boss, and his boss walks up and wants to put his two cents in.
      All of a sudden my immediate boss and I were aligned to a common purpose.

  29. When you take away all the verbosity and the ‘sciency’ nature, underneath all this academic gloop is just the point that ‘its human nature

    Its very rarely I agree with Latimer Adler but I’d say that’s a pretty good ultra short synopsis of this poorly written posting. A slightly longer one might well have included the word bullshit!

    In short, the consensus scientific opinion is:

    1) CO2 is an important Greenhouse gas. The Greenhouse effect keeps the Earth some 33 degC warmer that it would otherwise be,

    2) Doubling the amount of atmospheric CO2 from its pre-industrial level of 280 ppmv will cause a global temperature rise of approximately 3 degC which, whilst not totally catastrophic, is extremely serious and should be a cause of much concern.

    • Sorry you feel that way, tempterrain ): But the essay is not making the point that it’s just human nature. That was someone else’s substitution. It’s making the point that there is a branch of science (memetics) that can be leveraged for a full explanation of the social phenomenom of CAGW, at a relatively decent resolution, and not dependant on any philosophy or politics. If we understand how it works at a scientific and objective level, i.e. not to do with political stances or financial gains or whatever, which all end up being pretty circular, but mechanisms like differential selection of narratives and the penetration of memes into the psyche, why wouldn’t we want to understand it? How else can you fix something except by understanding it first? The fact the relevant science, cultural evolution and memetics, isn’t familiar to most folks here, despite many decades of development and a literature that is likely comparable in size to all of climate science, isn’t a great reason to rejest out of hand, though if you delve in and *still* don’t like what you see, then that’s fair enough. The politics and positioning and whatever are all symptoms of the underlying mechanisms.

      • If we understand how it works at a scientific and objective level, i.e. not to do with political stances or financial gains or whatever, which all end up being pretty circular, but mechanisms like differential selection of narratives and the penetration of memes into the psyche, why wouldn’t we want to understand it?

        If you haven’t already done so, you might consider sending your essays to Kahan for a critique. I’d say that his work adds quite a bit of empirical data to some of the issues you’re exploring. It would be interesting to read how you might incorporate his data into your thesis. I can imagine some ways that it would be problematic.

      • Memetics is not science. it’s a memeplex.

      • You know GaryM,
        Your argument is highly circular, but it is the funniest thing I have read today.
        Sincere thanks and a +100 for that.

      • Andy,
        As one who concurs with Latimer/Johanna/Pointman et al, may I offer just one example of the savage editing to which Johanna and Pointman referred, and which I commend to you:

        You write “there is a branch of science (memetics) that can be leveraged for a full explanation”. Is this really saying any more than “there is a branch of science (memetics) that explains…”? If so, what?

        Oh, all right; “….fully explains…”

        Writing taut, continent prose requires, as well as a command of language, great self-discipline, and the willingness to excise much to which the writer has become deeply attached. Clarity – and readers – are the reward.

  30. So true… Fear of global warming has been great for academia and the Left from the beginning because it, “makes industry and capitalism look bad while affording endless visuals of animals and third-world humans suffering at the hands of wealthy Westerners,” as Van Dyke noticed, plus: “Best of all, being driven by junk-science that easily metamorphoses as required, it appeared to be endlessly self-sustaining.” If you believe government scientists saved the world from DDT, overpopulation, acid rain, the ozone hole — just as they have rescued polar bears from the brink of extinction and stopped the seas from rising – then, I have a photograph you might want to buy of George Bush and Big Foot playing hockey.

    “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” ~Mark Twain

  31. sounds like Finnegans wake or gravitys rainbow
    get help.

  32. Shorter version: people believe what they want to believe, which is enhanced by an “us versus them” dynamic. This, of course, applies to the deniers and protectors of WalMart conspicuous consumption

    • I think “Walmart conspicuous consumption” is a contradiction in terms–at least given Veblen’s original meaning of conspicuous consumption.

  33. Andy,
    Its interesting for folks who have spent a lot of time with literature, with patterns of thought, with Jung ,cambell, frye, etc, to read the climate debate “as if” it was not about the science. Because of course the debate is not about science.

    Since its not about the science, different voices speak. old voices.
    They speak through us and we have no choice but to pick a role.

    folks can choose: do science or pick a role in climate theatre

  34. Original Sin.

    • Yup.

    • Never mind the pope, but the Original Sin was becoming human. The animals, no matter how cruel they and nature can be, are mostly innocent beings. After some monkey/ape tribe mastered talking and bit into that knowledge apple, we became humans and even more cruel. Evil was invented. Any innocence left is only in newborns. Saving whales and polar bears and the earth doesn’t make it any better. The real question is how to improve human behavior. Good luck with that.

  35. It’s a trillion dollar industry with billions invested in propaganda…it has essentially bought the entirety of “climate science.” Who pays for all these think tanks, NGO’s, institutions (i.e. CRU), and professorships? My alma mater no longer has department library, but 2 dedicated climate change chairs. In a philosophy department!

    Required reading on the manufacture of “memes” and the manipulation of the public and policy would be anything by or regarding Edward Bernays, especially the book “Propaganda” – Bernays is the father or the modern advertisement and public relations industry.

    • Phodges,

      You are on the right track here.

      Bernays was actually late to the party. He may have written a book, but by the time he wrote the book, others were already practicing the art of covert influence against our culture.

      Willi Muenzenberg was the genius behind the meme-production (began in 1920 or so) that urged America to reject our individualistic roots for collectivism.

      His memes, planted in our media, education/academia, and Hollywood, grew and metastasized until “green is the new red.” That is, the “environmental movement,” including AGW, shares the exact same goals that the communist party did–eviscerate American industrial power, and level the playing field; and put in charge an Elite Vanguard who know better than the moron millions how to live our lives.

  36. Andy West wrote: “Memeplexes wallow in uncertainty and confusion.”

    Fact: We’re naturally deeply suspicious of dark deviants pushing uncertainty narratives way beyond the hard constraints of clear observation.

  37. Just saying Godwin’s law doesn’t proscribe Nazi-related references, it just predicts those references will happen after some time in an argument on the internet. Learning the lessons of Nazi Germany are important and pointing out any parallels between Hitler and Obama are definitely necessary for the good of the US.

    • pointing out any parallels between Hitler and Obama are definitely necessary for the good of the US.

      Yes, indeed, all those “parallels between Hitler and Obama.”

      Thanks god some folks are around to point them out for us. Imagine how much worse off we be if they weren’t.

    • Andy –

      Parallels between Obama and Hitler = Memeplex?

      • I’ve drawn no such comparisons. If you’re asking me whether I think such a comparison means a memeplex is in action, I don’t think one could draw any such conclusion from that. In isolation at least, more like a good old leaning towards conspiracy theory.

      • The incomplete list of dictators below is not the result of any conspiracy theory. These people spilled real blood from real citizens of their country. People shouldn’t dismiss dictatorial tendencies lightly and should be ever vigilant for signs leaders of their own country could rise to dictatorship.

        Francisco Marcias Nguema
        Jean Bedel Bokassa
        Samuel Kanyon Doe
        Idi Amin Dada
        Siad Barre
        Sani Abacha
        Pol Pot
        Mobutu Sese Seko
        Robert Mugabe
        Bashar al-Assad
        Kim Jong-Il
        Moammar Qaddafi
        Than Shwe
        Yoweri Museveni
        Hugo Chavez
        Fidel Castro
        Vladimir Putin
        Ayatollah Ali Kha
        Augusto Pinochet
        Francois Duvalier
        Francisco Franco
        Charles Taylor
        Mengistu Haile Mariam
        Mao Tse-Tung

      • Well, j2, it’s a whole new century.

      • So Bashir’s dad, Hafez, doesn’t get an honorable mention after destroying Hama to the tune of 25,000 dead?

  38. Chief Hydrologist

    ‘And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and that that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had they received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.’

    The essay is profoundly unsatisfying because it fails to get at the emotional underpinnings of the global warming movement. Not sure that I can do better – except by hand waving in the general direction of the number and nature of millenarianist movements in human history. The current cult of AGW groupthink space cadets is – with modern communications and the speed with which ideas penetrate the zeitgeist – the most pervasive movement of it’s kind ever. It is informed by primal fear – has magical incantations to allay fear – reinforces the memes by the mechanisms of groupthink – but ultimately the space ships are unlikely to arrive on schedule and Kool-Aid is an option. Groupthink has emotional reinforcements that are evidently very beguiling once fear takes hold.

    The most perplexing problem going forward is how modern technologies intersect with ancient human frailties and what this portends. Just one more wicked problem.

    • Chief:
      “The essay is profoundly unsatisfying because it fails to get at the emotional underpinnings of the global warming movement.”

      Hendrix said it better (I’d put in the youtube link but didn’t want to spoil Mosher’s Steely Dan)

      Angel came down from heaven yesterday
      She stayed with me just long enough for afternoon tea
      And she told me a story yesterday,
      about the love between the moon and the deep blue sea
      And when it was time for her to go,
      she spread her wings high over me
      And she said “I shall return tomorrow”

      And I said “fly on my sweet angel,
      fly on through the sky,
      fly on my sweet angel,
      tomorrow I’m gonna be by your side”

      And sure enough this morning comes to me
      When silver wings silhouetted against the glow of the child’s sunrise
      And as the bluebirds and the sparrows envy me,
      she says “I love you little boy
      and today you shall fly”
      She kissed me once
      and the feelings so good she made me cry
      And now, we can fly together

      And I said “fly on my sweet angel,
      fly on through the sky,
      fly on my sweet angel,
      together we shall always be high”

      Read more: Jimi Hendrix – Angel – Acoustic Lyrics | MetroLyrics

      …together we shall always be high!!!

    • Hi Chief. The Post is not the essay, it’s just a statement of what the essay is about. The essay itself has whole sections on emotive drive, and the CAGW memeplex leveraging emotions and fears. I think this will provide what you seek. I’m afraid it’s big though, book sized, but if you follow the link to the little ‘summary’ pdf that Judith put in the post, this is a condensed digest of each section, plus references, in just 2 or 3 pages. So you can use that to home in on the right bits of the essay itself.

  39. Andy West:

    “The apparent paradox of strong consensus against a backdrop of multiple major uncertainties (both real and imagined), is a classic fingerprint of a memeplex, and results from the entity’s engineering of society. But how and why does a memeplex ‘engineer society’? As to the ‘why’, those social narratives that create conditions more beneficial to their own survival will prosper more, and rampant uncertainty forms an ideal medium in which a memeplex most easily achieves maximal replication within daunted and confused minds.”

    This entity. So we seem to be asked to lend this entity some of our own self. While we may not have a problem with believing alarmists are capable of that, when the subject is ourselves, it’s normal to say no.

    I found it interesting that this may be an evolutionary result, and think your fingerprint example applies to religion. Is/was religion an evolutionary response that worked more than it failed? I’d have to say yes.

    Some of us have been exasperated by how far the alarmists will seemingly climb out on a limb. A way, but just one way, is to explain this as their not themselves. Evolution is a tried and true model that we’ve seen before, and it comes from nature. It is not a perfect model, that is man is not perfect, but he’s good enough to still be around. You mentioned positive feedback, which I think is correct. While we stand in the middle of this hard to figure out situation, there’s a chance that if extremes are approached, it will just collapse upon itself as some think is possible.

    I liked you emphasis on, it’s not them, they aren’t evil. They live in their time. There are few if any upsides for a skeptic to dislike an alarmist. Call it triangulation. I think we should get past this, or least resist the urge to verbally attack the other side. Doing so may actually reinforce the situation. Consider how long a holy war can last? How intractable it can seem. We can look at the problem as a thing and not as specific individuals.

    I think your work sheds a lot of light and helps with understanding what’s going on.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Ragnaar. Think your own expression here is right on the money too.

      • Comparing CAGW to religion:
        Do you really think you’re going to convince them there is no God?
        Comparing Cults to CAGW:
        Ayn Rand went too far.
        Comparing Scientists to people like me:
        I can’t read. Read the scripts to me, in Latin.

        “Just as within biology the apparently simple concepts of replication and natural selection result in enormous variety and complexity…”

        I think some are saying, we are too complicated and have too much free will, and while we came from nature, we have also escaped its base levels. I’d agree with the above quote though.

        “Looked at in one light, one way of trying to detect effects that is, the memeplex behaves as a collective entity with its own agenda. Looked at in another light, each individual within the grip of the memeplex still exercises their own personal will and is still responsible for their personal actions.”

        Made me think of Governing Dynamics and Nash.

        The quote on page 12 referring to Steven Mosher might be priceless. + 5

        “…their equating of climate skeptics with evolution skeptics, i.e. creationists, exposes a blindness to the CAGW memeplex plus a level of immersion within it.”

        The above was good. Dr. Roy Spencer was asked a question about creationists during his testimony before Congress. Perhaps a great pot, kettle, black moment.

        Again, thanks for posting this

      • “Do you really think you’re going to convince them there is no God?”

        Well there is an intrinsic advantage. Religious gods can essentially never make a mistake (the memeplex just evolves around the problem). It is much harder for secular ‘gods’ to avoid collisions with fact.

        Glad you appreciate my work; feel free to forward the link to anyone else you think may also appreciate the memetic perspective.

  40. Try this:

    Whatever is happening in the great outdoors regarding actual debate, inside the minds of men overwhelming evidence indicates that Memetics is a self-sustaining narrative that is living off our mental capacity, either in symbiosis or as an outright cultural parasite; a narrative that is very distanced from physical real-world events. The social phenomenon of Memetics possesses all the characteristics of a grand memetic alliance, like numerous similar structures before it stretching back beyond the reach of historic records, and no doubt many more cultural creatures that have yet to birth.

    Like CAGW, memetics is a new “discipline”, much newer in fact than modern model and paleo drivin CAGW climate science.

    Like CAGW, memetics seeks to provide an explanation for complex and chaotic processes about which we know very little.

    Like consensus CAGW advocates, memeticians (memetologists?) claim a certainty that is simply not born out by a genuine scientific process of experimentation and confirmation by comparison with reality.

    Like consensus CAGW advocates, memeticians show no capacity for critical analysis of their own dogmatic beliefs.

    Like CAGW, then, memetics is a “minimal cultural entity that is subject to selective pressures during replication between human minds, its main medium.”

    Like CAGW, memetics “rests upon social and evolutionary fundamentals (e.g. the differential selection of self-replicating narratives, narrative alliances, the penetration of memes into the psyche causing secondary phenomena like motivated reasoning, noble cause corruption and confirmation bias etc.) it is not dependent upon politics or philosophies of any stripe,”

    We need a book length study on the memetics of the meme memeplex.

    • Gary –

      Like CAGW, memetics seeks to provide an explanation for complex and chaotic processes about which we know very little.

      Not particularly plausible is it?

      But it’s actually better supported and as a result more plausible than your conspiratorial political explanations. Interesting that you so readily apply a double standard.

      Well, selective reasoning is selective, eh?

      • When I discuss politics, I am discussing the means, motives and tactics involved, like every other commenter here.

        I do not pretend to set forth a “science” that explains the entire debate, in terms of some pseudo-genetic mental/cultural process.

        And I’m still patiently waiting to hear why memetics is not just another meme.

      • Dude –

        You don’t just “discuss politics.” You rejected Andy’s explanation for a complex phenomenon due to a lack of validated and empirical study, only to substitute your own explanation, except with significantly less validation and empirical study than what he offered.

        You don’t describe it as a “science,” but you present your conclusions as if they were the product of a scientific process, when they are little other than your seat-of-the-pants anecdotal reasoning.

        Need I remind you, once again, of your ridiculous conclusions about the science of polling analysis?

        And while waiting to hear about why memetics is not just another meme is perfectly viable, your rejection of it as a science w/o due scientific evaluation is, unfortunately, what we find typically with “skeptics.”

      • “Gary –

        Like CAGW, memetics seeks to provide an explanation for complex and chaotic processes about which we know very little.

        Not particularly plausible is it?”

        How very interesting – your motivated reasoning appears to be showing.

        The literature on memetics is quite extensive and there is quite a consensus regarding it. You reject this scientific consensus with “Not particularly plausible, is it?”, while suggesting those who take the same attitude to (C)AGW are biased/crazy/stupid/corrupt. Perhaps you might do with memetics as you suggest others do WRT climate – research the subject first before you dismiss it as “rubbish” based on an uninformed, “outsider” position. Of course, you can just reject it out of hand as you appear to have done, but that makes your own arguments display the very same lack of consistency that you regularly accuse our host of. Since you have previously said that while you might inevitably fall into the same trap but try hard not to, perhaps you need to try harder on this topic?

        Just sayin’…

      • “You don’t describe it as a ‘science,’ but you present your conclusions as if they were the product of a scientific process”

        Brilliant. Just brilliant.


      • Kneel,

        “The literature on memetics is quite extensive and there is quite a consensus regarding it.”

        Now, I haven’t done the research, but I’ll bet $100.00 to your favorite charity that there is vastly more literature on CAGW, and a broader consensus, than there is on memetics.

        Thank you for making my case by showing even more similarity between the two. And that identifying CAGW as a meme (as described in this post) is not in the least scientific.

        Just sayin’…

      • Just one example of many:

        CAGW is not a social phenomenon, it is a political one. AGW is science, CAGW is politics.

        You dismiss a conclusion that actually has some grounding (although I think insufficient) in a scientific process, and instead offer a contrasting conclusion, with complete certainty, for which you have no scientific support. You categorically dismiss the product of a (at least to some degree) scientific process without even studying the issue or even reading the analysis you’re dismissing. You bestow upon your seat-of-the-pants analysis the same level of scientific validity as that of others who at least engaged in serious study?

        You present your arguments as if they are the product of a scientific process, yet they have no basis in evidence.

        As perhaps my favorite example, we have your elitist assertions that people don’t know how to define themselves (as conservatives), but that you, with complete certainty, have some insight into their true political identity. You present your conclusion as if it were scientifically based, as if it were grounded in an empirical analysis of evidence, yet in reality, all you’re doing is presenting your subjective views as if they are certain.

        Similarly, we have your elitist characterization of “progressives” with the most implausible cartoonish good/guy bad/guy taxonomy of attributes.

        Similarly, we have your elitist characterization of morality, whereby only those who agree with your political and religious beliefs pass your morality test.

        There’s a long list, Gary. Let me know if you want more examples. All it would take would be a brief look at any of your comments here at Climate Etc.

    • Gary M: memeticians (memetologists?)

      Memeticists. Have to say I lean with Joshua here. Your rather robust rejection of an area you don’t seem too familiar with might be a bit hasty. The Embedded link ‘Blackmore’ in the post above is a great article on the gene-meme co-evolution by a recognised expert in the field. Maybe give it a try? While memetics is indeed a newish science, it is rooted in the much older cultural evolution, so is not quite so new as one might think. While Dawkins’ naming of the meme was a stroke of brilliance, it was not completely pulled out of the air; folks had been playing with various concepts of self-sustaining cultures for some time.

      • Science without any numbers is poetry.

        You need to put some numbers on it to solve any problems.

        I see why you think highly of Kim’s contributions.

      • andywest2012,

        I must say I am with Latimer Alder on this one. I read your post. And I appreciate the warning that the link to the larger treatment was book length. But I see no reason to invest my time in looking into the latest social “science” that pretends to reduce the complex, chaotic process of important debates to some catch phrase like “meme”.

        I haven’t spent any real time studying phrenology or astrology either. Nor do I intend to. Your main post, and your comments here, are sufficient to tell me this is another soft “science”, ie. not a science in my view.

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        “You need to put some numbers on it to solve any problems.”

        Maybe putting numbers on it creates the problems, or at best, just give it the number…42. As in:

      • Latimer Alder

        @r gates

        And there was me thinking that the answer to LTUaE was supposed to be CO2!

        Or have I been dreaming the last 15 years where nearly all discourse assumed that The Evil Gas will inevitably lead to Thermageddon – probably about next Tuesday fortnight around the back of the bus shelter in the High Street.

      • bob droege | November 1, 2013 at 9:18 pm |

        There is some very considerable mathematics behind cultural evolution and memetics, from various angles and including game theory (which also overlaps with the mathematical modelling that economists use). Lots and lots of numbers. Does that make it acceptable ;)

      • GaryM | November 1, 2013 at 10:11 pm |

        Well I used not to be too keen on a lot of soft science myself (came from a physics degree and have long background in computers), but my keeness improved with my knowledge. However, at least on this note we can agree to disagree without friction.

      • Lattie thinks of himself as Keats with that reference.

      • andywest2012,

        Yes, we can agree to disagree, without friction. I must say that is pretty rare around here.

        Can you answer my question though? Is memetics another memeplex like CAGW, in your terms? And if not, why not?

        The more determinist of geneticists (and many who follow them) believe that all human behavior is merely the product of genes. We are sacs of fluid walking around with the sole purpose of passing on our genes. Now I realize that is a subset of the group, but it is a vocal one.

        I take from your comments here that you are not a pure determinist, either of the genetic, or memetic type.

        So when is an area of study or debate not a meme? How do you tell the difference between rational thought and the mere acquiring and passing on of memes?

    • Steven Mosher


      here is a clue. language is a virus, is another related clue

  41. “Whatever downsides are observed to stem from the social phenomenon of CAGW, memeplexes in general often contribute major net advantages to their host societies, sometimes very major. ”

    And then there’s this…

  42. Matthew R Marler

    Fun essay. If you want to go the meme route, go all out like this.

  43. This sounds more like philosophy, than any science piece.

    Meaning: You can make ANYTHING up you want.

  44. If the summary provided by the author, and others, in the comments above are correct, the point appears to be: “Human nature causes us to follow others’ ideas. And therefore AGW is human, not political.”

    I think that is a fundamentally misunderstanding of human nature, and political warfare. Because AGW is simply a battleground of the covert political warfare that has been waged on American/Western capitalist republican democracy for the last 80 years.

    AGW is a meme, okay. But it was formed as most memes are, by a concerted effort, call it public relations, advertising, covert influence, or meme-building. This meme-forming required massive amounts of effort, resources, and expense.

    The AGW-meme is just one of many formed from the efforts to bring down American/Western capitalism which began around 1920. If you put all the memes together in one sentence, you have a succinct summary of the foundational belief system of Politically Correct Progressives: “America is a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, imperialist, capitalist hell-hole. And it must be changed.”

    The result of creation and propagation of those memes is today’s anti-Normal-America PC-Progressive political platform. Anything that supports the memes above is good. And anyone who believes in the memes above is a good person. Conversely anyone who doesn’t believe in, or support the PC-Prog meme system is a bad, bigoted, racist, earth-hating, homophobic, imperialist, capitalist dog.

    AGW is the most powerful of the beliefs spun off by the PC-Prog platform to date. It clearly blames capitalism (creation of, and use of, energy is capitalism in its purest form) for all the ills of the earth. And America is clearly the biggest sinner. The real proof of PC-Progism is the end-game–“And it must be changed.” AGW acolytes do not deal in even fake science any more. They are all-in for the “must be changed” phase.

    So, bottom line, Andy: Meme creation is not human nature–it is a function of human ingenuity–the art of influencing and guiding people’s tastes and fashion.

    Full details:

    Kent Clizbe

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      “Meme creation is not human nature–it is a function of human ingenuity–the art of influencing and guiding people’s tastes and fashion.”
      Uh, wouldn’t practicing the art of influencing and guiding people’s tastes and fashion also be part of human nature? The Church, and all religions, are prefect examples of ‘memeplex’ creation and spreading, and they’ve been around for thousands of years. Seems pretty much a big part of “human nature”.

      • +10

        and especially: “The Church, and all religions, are prefect examples of ‘memeplex’ creation and spreading, and they’ve been around for thousands of years.”

        The essay makes detailed comparisons and contrasts to religious memeplexes. Secular memeplexes aren’t wholly the same, but the same memetic drives underneath cause many to observe the similarities.

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        I like your contrast between the secular memeplex and religious but I think the lines get a bit blurred in as much as science, for many, is the new religion is as much as it explains humanity’s place in the universe. This can be seen at certain edges of the meme where science and religion clash directly, such as those of the CAGW faithful who would attack certain scientists because they believe in guided evolution, etc. It would. E quite interesting it actually see what percentage of those believing CAGW is possible are highly religious versus those who don’t. Each person of course has multiple meme that make up their “mind” as it were, and they will tend keep only the set that is most compatible with each other as a group. This, they must keep their religious or spiritual memeplex compatible with their secular, and hopefully even self-reinforcing of each other.

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        Just a few more thoughts to take onto the end of what I was getting to in my previous post. What our “minds” are an ecosystem of memeplexes, involving multi-layered memes both conscious and subconscious, spanning the personal, social, family, interpersonal, spiritual, political, and scientific. They are in short, the programming for our brain- telling us our place in the inverse and how we should relate to that universe, and what is possible or impossible in that universe. We will jealously guard that ecosystem of memeplexes, because it is, in a very real sense– us. It takes a great shock, or huge stress, indoctrination, brainwashing, etc. To alter that ecosystem. In our say to day lives, we prevent the alteration of that ecosystem of memeplexes by automatically throwing out any meme that does not fit well and keeping cognitive dissonance to a minimum.

      • “Meme creation is not human nature–it is a function of human ingenuity–the art of influencing and guiding people’s tastes and fashion.”
        Uh, wouldn’t practicing the art of influencing and guiding people’s tastes and fashion also be part of human nature? The Church, and all religions, are prefect examples of ‘memeplex’ creation and spreading, and they’ve been around for thousands of years. Seems pretty much a big part of “human nature”.
        While it may seem trivial, I believe that the distinction is important. Human ingenuity, creativity, and intelligence are clearly part of human nature. How those skills/talents/creativity are applied are the fruits of human nature, a function of the application of human nature. Think of theoretical vs. applied science. Human nature is theoretical, applications of human nature are applied.

        In my specialty, the history of espionage, specifically the history of covert influence operations and their effects on culture, this distinction is paramount.

        I cannot simply explain away America’s rejection of the “rugged individualist” meme in favor of the “collectivist” meme with a wave of the hand and “human nature.”

        My work analyzes modern memes to identify the root message in the meme. Then I research historical meme-creation specialists (covert influence operators). Tracing the fundamental message in a meme can reveal its origin. Much like tracing DNA can reveal the origin of organic matter.

        Take, for example, a meme (advertising message) created by a meme-builder (advertising team), “The Marlboro Man was first conceived by Leo Burnett in 1954. The image involves a rugged cowboy or cowboys, in nature with only a cigarette. The advertisements were originally conceived as a way to popularize filtered cigarettes, which at the time were considered feminine.”

        “The Marlboro advertising campaign, created by Leo Burnett Worldwide, is said to be one of the most brilliant advertisement campaigns of all time.It transformed a feminine campaign, with the slogan “Mild as May”, into one that was masculine, in a matter of months.”

        This example is nearly perfect. The meme-builders consciously manipulated human nature, in an application of meme-building, to create a new conception of their product. This conception traveled through time (’54 to ’99) and lives today. Someone who does not understand advertising and the enormous application of human ingenuity behind the meme-creation, could easily believe, upon observing the Marlboro Man from decades or centuries distance, that the meme arose by itself, because “that’s human nature.” And that analysis would be absolutely wrong.

        Thus, the issue with Andy’s point (if I’m understanding it) is that meme-building is NOT human nature any more than building automobiles is a part of human nature. Memes are a product of human intelligence, creativity, and ingenuity; just as copper mines, super computers, novels, screenplays, automobiles, and the other fruits of our nature.

        The problem with assuming memes are “natural” is that this will take you off track in your analysis of a given meme. In order to understand a meme, you must analyze the intent of the meme-builders, their target audience, their means of propagation, and more. Without this fundamental understanding, the analysis is faulty from the beginning.


      • @ Kent Clizbe | November 2, 2013 at 11:42 am |

        It is obvious that some memes are intentionally created to manipulate people. But that does not imply that natural memes, ones that arise in the normal discourse among people, don’t exist.

        And even considering those that are created to manipulate, these memes are just another tool in the arsenal of those who seek to wield power. Unlike guns, it is a bloodless tool, but still can be just as effective for some situations.

      • Jim2,

        It is obvious that some memes are intentionally created to manipulate people. But that does not imply that natural memes, ones that arise in the normal discourse among people, don’t exist.
        And even considering those that are created to manipulate, these memes are just another tool in the arsenal of those who seek to wield power. Unlike guns, it is a bloodless tool, but still can be just as effective for some situations.
        You’re probably right. However, I would counsel caution in ascribing any meme to “natural causes.”

        My research into influence operations, and in passing, into marketing, advertising and entertainment, shows that memes (which, by the way are nothing new, just a made-up word for previously known and studied concepts–influence payloads, advertising messages, etc) have origins.

        Some memes may have sprung from the ether, but that is quite unlikely. A great example, which I believe someone used in this discussion as an example of a meme is: “The US (or the CIA) created AIDS.”

        This “meme” was actually the exact payload of a KGB covert influence operation. It has been exposed and studied extensively in the years since. This payload did not simply arise naturally from somewhere in the collective human psyche, any more than did the Marlboro Man meme. It was deliberately created–the result of committee deliberation, multiple levels of bureaucratic review and approval, studied operational plans for introduction and dissemination, and careful monitoring and feeding after its dissemination.

        Details on that “meme creation:”

        Return on investment for the KGB’s operation?
        “In 1992, 15% of Americans considered it definitely or probably true that “the AIDS virus was created deliberately in a government laboratory.” In 2005, a study by the RAND Corporation and Oregon State University revealed that nearly 50% of African Americans thought AIDS was man-made, over 25% believed AIDS was a product of a government laboratory, 12% believed it was created and spread by the CIA, and 15% believed that AIDS was a form of genocide against black people. Other AIDS conspiracy theories have abounded, and have been discredited by the mainstream scientific community.”

        “Meme creation” (covert influence operations, or advertising, or buzz-creation) is a deliberate art practiced by experts.

        Just because one is not familiar with the entire oeuvre of espionage operations does not mean that those tactics do not exist. “Meme creation” is probably one of the oldest, and most effective tactics of political/information warfare. (See “negative campaigning” for the overt political manifestation of this art.)

        Back to AGW: Look at the latest tactics of Mann and Lewandowsky. Pure information warfare–denigration, denial, counter-accusations. Right out of the espionage handbook.

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist


        Memeplexes, of all types (social, spiritual, political, interpersonal) form the foundation of our social mind—they tell us how to relate to the world and what our role is in our families, societies, and the universe at large. Prior to the introduction of science (as a memeplex in itself), the religions ruled our social minds for centuries. For thousands of years, religion, from tribal to modern, was the dominant social memeplex. Priests, shamans, etc. were the ultimate holders of the memeplex (the keepers of the flame if you would). In as much as humans are social animals, and we certainly are, the development of the memeplex or social mind is quite in character with basic human nature. We see the even our close cousins, now extinct, the Cro-Magnon, had memeplexes reflected by evidence of a robust ceremonial life. Homo Sapiens are quite “hard wired” genetically, as social creatures, to develop and use the virtual DNA of memeplexes in our everyday life as complex social creatures.

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

        Jim2 said:

        “It is obvious that some memes are intentionally created to manipulate people.”
        The human behavior of attempting to get someone else to adopt a meme- literally to infect their mind with a certain meme- goes back to the very dawn of civilization and even prior. It creates the social order, and begins with the most fundamental unit of that order– the family. Mothers and fathers pass memes on to their children, that both preserve the family unit and ensure the successul propagation of the species. This certainly goes back to the very roots of the human evolutionary tree.

      • @Kent Clizbe | November 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        I see your point that we need to be cautious when attributing the source of a given meme. You are correct that people in power continually find ways to advance toward their goals.

        I’m sure the study of espionage is fascinating. The examples you have given certainly are.

      • Say. Kent –

        What does your research tell you about white Americans’ belief in the “Obama is a Manchurian candidate Muslim without a legitimate birth certificate” meme?

      • Josh,

        That was not a payload that was inserted into the culture. It has arisen, like an urban legend, based on tidbits of truth, mixed with ignorant conjecture, in order to attempt to answer important questions which were obfuscated and lied about.

        Passive aggressive accusations of bias are part of the covert influence tactical handbook, however.

        Admit nothing. Deny everything. Make counter-accusations. (ANDEMCA)

        This was the standard operating procedure for the creators of the anti-capitalist payload of the Muenzenberg operation. And they taught their Willing Accomplices well.

        You see these tactics in nearly any discussion/debate with a PC-Progressive, include AGW fanatics. “Debate” quickly turns to counter-accusations (“Denier!”) whenever they are faced with evidence of their misdeeds.

        And so you see the PC-Prog ANDEMCA tactic with Obama’s birth certificate. Instead of simply providing the actual evidence, they turn the discussion into counter-accusations (“Birther!”)


      • Kent –

        Looking past your selective characterization of “PC-Progressives” (which of those characteristics do you think are not true of non-“progressives?” Would you like me to give you examples that show your selectivity), are you suggesting that I “denied” something?

        If so, what do you imagine I “denied?”

        That was not a payload that was inserted into the culture.

        I disagree. This was nonsense that was deliberately promoted and fanned by influential politicians and media figure – despite the lack of any factual basis.

        Instead of simply providing the actual evidence, they turn the discussion into counter-accusations (“Birther!”)

        Uh, except that the actual evidence was provided.

        I love you boyz.

      • And this I love –

        in order to attempt to answer important questions which were obfuscated and lied about.

        Right. Calling Obama a Muslim who isn’t a citizen, is based on an “attempt to answer an important question.”

        It wasn’t a political maneuver designed for political expediency? It wasn’t a reflection of animosity?

        See, here’s the thing, Kent. Differently than you, I think that kind of nonsense that you just presented is not disproportionately found among those I disagree with, politically.

        I think that kind of slanted and selective reasoning is a product of human cognitive and psychological characteristics,

        But what I find amusing is when people who adopt such a slanted approach to evidence call themselves skeptics. Do you really think that it is coincidence that you think those characteristics you describe are somehow magically disproportionately found among those you disagree with politically?

      • Andy –

        I don’t know if you’ll catch this, but I would hope that you if read the convo between Kent and Jim2, you will do so with an open mind w/r/t how you distinguish the “AGW memeplex” from just plain old motivated reasoning.

      • Josh,

        Thanks very much for your interest in this issue.

        Just because one is not involved in espionage, or covert action, does not mean that the operation are not happening, in front of your eyes.

        The assumption that all parties in the American (and Western) political debate are playing by the Marquis de Queensbury’s rules is a deadly mistake.

        The foundational belief system, and political strategy and tactics, of the Politically Correct Progressive (or, if you like, “left-wing,” or “liberal”) side was born in the cauldron of foreign intelligence operations designed to destroy American exceptionalism, in order to soften up the country for the communist take-over (that never came). In fact, ironically, the operators who created the operation, and its mastermind, nearly all died with a bullet in the back of their heads in the basement of Lubyanka. Or in Muenzenberg’s case, with a wire looped around his neck, handing from a tree in rural France, likely executed by the ComIntern.

        But the strategy and tactics that the operation created and nurtured were so powerful and intoxicating that the movement became a self-licking ice-cream cone. It took on a life of its own. We see the results at Penn State University today, and in the White House.

        For those who do not understand covert action, and even for those who do, it is very difficult to wrap the mind around the fact that a group of Willing Accomplices, Americans, cooperated to destroy our country. And that their heirs, the PC-Progs of today, share the exact same belief system and political tactics.

        Arguing logically, scientifically with them is pure folly. They have no interest in logic or science. Assuming they are acting in good faith is to cede the high ground in the battle before it’s begun.

        We must recognize the roots of the belief system of our opponents, and their tactics. While we attempt to reason with them, and suss out “memeplexes,” they are stealthily planning how best to slit our throats and eat our children (metaphorically speaking).

        Mann, L’ski, Gore, McKibben, Hansen, and the rest of the AGW crowd are PC-Progs. Their most cherished desire is to bring the capitalist industrial system to its knees. Only when all pigs are equal (with some pigs being a lot more equal), and no lesser pigs have internal combustion engines to navigate and produce, will they be satisfied.

        We’ve seen this before. It’s happened a couple times already in history. We can stop them this time.

      • Heh, Litvinov, in 1927, complained that soon “the enlightened statesmen of the great Powers (would) begin (ascribing) to the machinations of the Bolsheviks the earthquake in Japan and the floods in America”.

        H/t J. L. Gaddis.

      • Kim,

        Heh, the Bolsheviks were eating the Americans’ lunch from the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution. Quoting an attempt at distraction by one of the most prominent Bolshevik propagandists and foreign influence operators is probably not the most convincing argument against Soviet influence ops that one could make.

        “[Litvinov] joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) in 1898 at which time the party was considered an illegal organization, and it was customary for its members to use pseudonyms. He changed his name to Maxim Litvinov, but was also known as Papasha and Maximovich. Litvinov also wrote articles under the names M.G. Harrison and David Mordecai Finkelstein. His early responsibilities included carrying propaganda work in Chernigov Governorate. In 1900 Litvinov became a member of Kiev party committee, but the entire committee was arrested in 1901. After 18 months of captivity, he led an escape of 11 inmates from Lukyanovskaya prison and lived in exile in Switzerland, where he was an editor for the revolutionary newspaper Iskra. In 1903, he joined the Bolshevik faction and returned to Russia. After the 1905 Revolution he became editor of the SDLP’s first legal newspaper, Novaya Zhizn (New Life) in St. Petersburg.”

        Here’s another quote from Maxim Litvinov, the Bolshevik Commisar of Foreign Affairs, responsible for screening from the world’s view Stalin’s starvation campaign against the Ukraine:

        “Food is a weapon.”


        Denying and covering up this famine was one of the most important covert influence operations carried out by the KGB, making use of its valuable agent, Walter Duranty, and LItvinov’s able censorship services.

        If you’re not familiar with this fantastically diabolical genocide, a survivor of the famine described it:

        “This was the first instance of a peacetime genocide in history. It took the extraordinary form of an artificial famine deliberately created by the ruling powers. The savage combination of words for the designation of a crime – an artificial deliberately planned famine – is still incredible to many people throughout the world, but indicates the uniqueness of the tragedy of 1933, which is unparalleled, for a time of peace, in the number of victims it claimed.”
        Wasyl Hryshko – Survivor The Ukrainian Holocaust, 1933


        Bolsheviks. PC-Progressives. Two peas, one pod.

      • In 1928, the American charge of the Riga legation staff warned “It would be truly ostrichlike not to perceive that this ‘General Staff of the World Revolution’ is entirely in earnest in its determination to overthrow every non-Communist society and Government, and to erect a World Soviet Socialist Republic.”

        H/t more Gaddis, ‘Russia, the Soviet Union, and the United States’, 1978 John Wiley & Sons.

      • Here’s Gaddis with yet more ironic topicality. In 1923, Secretary of State Hughes, in arguing for nonrecognition of the new state in Russia released a communication from the Comintern to the Communist Party of the United States looking forward to the day, “in the not too distant future,” when the party would “raise the red flag over the White House.”

        Ibid, p. 107.

      • Ironies certain.

    • Ask yerself cui bono ot cui think they will bono.

  45. Andy,

    I liked your use of examples the best as it made the reading more enjoyable and easier. I also found referring to other parts somewhat distracting. I believe I understand your point on memeplex but it was a difficult read, at least for me, to get there.

  46. R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

    Andy West’s insights are really quite in line with Eric Hoffer in “The True Believer” a generation ago. “Memeplex” is another word for a host of different things that attach themselves as issues of “faith” in the human mind and to their cultural social group. Singling out those who believe in CAGW is an interesting way to study issues of “faith” and why and how they spread and persist, but in as much as CAGW believers represent one “memeplex” those who are certain that CAGW (or even AGW) are definitely not happening or worth worrying about—that is their “memeplex” and they can be called true “un-believers”. Each group takes their position more as an article of faith (the memeplex), and it cannot be removed, no matter what, and they’ll even die for their belief if necessary. All conflicting information that might call to question their particular belief must be ignored or quickly discounted.
    All quite interesting…

    • Steven Mosher

      once upon a time ( 1983-4) moshpit made a poem engine. The idea was simple. Automatically generate text and watch people ascribe beliefs to the writer. I guess I was a bit early ( many stack over flows ). One of my profs actually continued on.. he has a pretty cool engine today

      Anyway, the idea was this: there was a deep structure of grammer, and by filling words into this tree you create sentences. There are certain forms or sequences ( markov chains) that are disallowed. Above this grammar constraint there are semantic constraints and above that is an idea constraint, a grammar of ideas as it were that limits what we can think. everything expressible is already in these grammars. the ideas are having you.

      • Hi Steven. You might be interesested in the meme ‘the past is always better’ represented by the ‘Paradox’ verses that are rampant on the Internet. They have precisely no meaning. See the begining of section 12, and appendix 8 of the main essay (link at bottom of post) for the precise word engine workings. One of the earliest pieces of deciphered wrioting we have (Kish, approx 3500BC), is a version of this meme.

      • andywest2012 | November 2, 2013 at 9:50 am |

        P.S. millions of folks think those verses and amazing and wonderful and deeply meaningful.

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      That’s awesome. Year’s ago I had the thought– “thoughts really have people.” Tricky thoughts, giving us such pretty illusions to have such thoughts…quite a looking glass, eh?

  47. What is the empirical content of memetics? As I skim over the Blackmore article, the only use of data I see is to make distinctions between categories. Although taxonomy is surely a precondition for many kinds of biological, behavioral and social disciplines that aspire to empirical content and rigor, it isn’t sufficient.

    Blackmore says “Many experiments have been done on imitation and although they have not been directly addressed at the question of whether a new replicator is involved, they may help towards an answer.”

    Well maybe. The trouble here is what, exactly, would constitute evidence against the role of memes in some social learning process. In learning theory, we have a set of models that emerge from various traditions–psychological, neuroscientific, game theoretic. It turns out that it’s damned hard, statistically speaking, to tell the difference between these theories with data from almost any practical experiment–even those specifically designed for the purpose. (I have a fairly well-known paper about this–google “Theories of learning in games and heterogeneity bias.”) I am extremely skeptical that found data from experiments that are not designed for the purpose of testing some specific learning theory can possibly critically address that learning

    Suppose human mimicry is not best described by perfectly copying things, or even imperfectly copying them (that is with random copying mistakes), but rather individuals in a sequence of learners are each modifying the thing in some systematic way before passing it on. Is this process really best described in the language of replicators? It sounds more Lamarckian than Darwinian, more about the evolution of external artifacts (for instance, verbal advice) across generations that successively modify the artifact. Would this process “have the replicator dynamics?” I really don’t know. Do the memeticists? Having studied this kind of sequential, intergenerational learning in my own experiments, I know for a fact that this Lamarckian process works well in experimental “families” that are sequences of single subjects in each generation. (google “Precautionary saving and social learning across generations.”) This kind of learning is most definitely not governed by differential survival in each generation, since there is only a single subject in each generation.

    The problem here, as I see it, is that the notion of a replicator and the replicator dynamics simply misses such a large part of the cognitive and social world of human learning that it seems a strained framework for studying social learning mechanisms.

    Just so you know, I was quite attracted to the cultural evolution literature when I was in grad school. The old papers cited by Blackmore are all things I read back then. Today I study social learning (and other kinds of human learning in economic matters) and find that several literatures are helpful to me for generating interesting research questions. Memetics isn’t one of them. Perhaps it should be, but I need to be convinced, and the Blackmore paper didn’t do it.

    • This comment is far too cogent and well-informed to attract responses, but I appreciated it. Also thanks for the reference earlier to decision field theory, which looks interesting.

      • Thanks. Yes, DFT is worth looking at. They (Busemeyer and Townsend) don’t make this point in the 1993 Psych Review article, but all of these diffusion/drift models of choice processes can be traced back to Abraham Wald’s statistics book Sequential Analysis (1947), rather than the physics of diffusion/drift. Wald was interested in statistical decision-making, not physics. Because economists and finance people are usually familiar with Wald sequential sampling, they can also usually appreciate DFT’s sequential sampling basis (if they are willing to buy into the computational viewpoint).

    • > google “Theories of learning in games and heterogeneity bias.”


      > We use experimental methods to study how individuals solve life cycle ‘precautionary savings’ tasks. Some results resemble previous experimental work on dynamic optimisation tasks. Within our experiment, however, opportunities exist for subjects to learn from one another. Subjects participated in three-member ‘families’. Second and third ‘generation’ subjects observe and/or communicate with their ‘antecedent’ first or second generation subject. We find that later generations perform significantly better than earlier generations. The results speak to questions concerning the precautionary model of consumption, the modelling of dynamic decision behaviour more generally, and the possible importance of social learning to individual decision-making.

  48. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

    It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.

    Hal Lewis
    Emeritus Professor of Physics and former department chairman at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

  49. In Wu et al. (2007) we showed that the rapidity of the warming in the late twentieth century was a result of concurrence of a secular warming trend and the warming phase of a multidecadal (~65-year period) oscillatory variation and we estimated the contribution of the former [secular warming] to be about 0.08°C per decade since ~1980.

    The two main points of the above passage are clearly shown in the following graph =>

  50. ON IPCC’s process

    First let me say that in general, as my own opinion, I feel rather
    unconfortable about using not only unpublished but also un reviewed
    material as the backbone of our conclusions (or any conclusions).
    I realize that chapter 9 is including SRES stuff, and thus we can and need to do that too, but the fact is that in doing so the rules of IPCC have been softened to the point that in this way the IPCC is not any more an assessment of published science (which is its proclaimed goal) but production of results. The softened condition that the models themself have to be published does not even apply because the Japanese model for example is very different from the published one which gave results not even close to the actual outlier version (in the old dataset the CCC model was the outlier). Essentially, I feel that at this point there are very little rules and almost anything goes. I think this will set a dangerous precedent which might mine the IPCC credibility, and I am a bit unconfortable that now nearly everybody seems to think that it is just ok to do this. Anyways, this is only my opinion for what it is worth.

  51. This excerpt from an article in today’s Australian might be of interest:

    Journalism giving up on the search for truth

    “Journalism has succumbed to a culture of dependency and is losing that most basic of skills: the ability to nail the facts.

    Criticism of the government’s so-called media-management strategy misses the point; Abbott’s approach is less a case of management and more of laissez faire.

    The Rudd and Gillard administrations took a Keynesian approach, intervening heavily in the market and attempting to control the flow of news. It invested heavily in a state-owned media enterprise, the ABC, encouraging it to compete more aggressively with the private sector.

    When all else failed, it tried to regulate the market through legislation to control the press.

    Abbott, by contrast, is behaving like an ultra-dry economic conservative and is letting the news market rip.

    The critical condition of modern journalism has been exposed.

    The commercial pressures on the industry are well known. Newsrooms have been hollowed out. The disinvestment in journalism has accelerated as Fairfax has trashed its Sydney and Melbourne mastheads. In no other industry would executives respond to falling demand by making the product worse. Yet this is the story of the news business during the past two decades.

    The degeneracy of modern journalism cannot be blamed entirely on falling revenue, however. The decline in standards has been at least as bad in public-sector journalism; indeed, some would say it is worse.

    The guides to reporters issued by newspapers early last century illuminate the loss of discipline in a profession that once held facts to be sacred.

    A recruit at The Detroit News would be told in writing that “the only mission of a reporter” was “supplying his editors with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

    Speculation was forbidden. “NEVER GUESS,” the instructions read. “When you turn in your story KNOW that everything in that story is true.”

    Today, the news industry is content to outsource information-gathering to public relations professionals and advocacy groups, accepting the facts they provide on trust.”

    Read the full article here:

    • Never trust Media outlets that witter on about traditional values and some lost idyll.. its baloney.
      The Media has always got it wrong on a regular basis and exists to sell two product.. controversy and advertising (next to the controversy).
      The fact that this product is a channel of information, does not mean it requires any greater accuracy than necessary to fend off lawyers (from those who can afford them).. a bit like the illusion that the Film industry exists to create art.. it doesn’t, it exists to make money, if that product happens to sometimes be ‘artistic’ great, but its the junk that regularly sells humungous amounts of tickets, merchandise, downloads and discs that counts.

      Anyone who believes that Rupert Murdoch was being pushed around by a ‘leftie’ agenda anywhere his corporation has interests, is living in cloud cuckoo land.

      The reason the Media ‘outsources’ is because its cost efficient in a competitive market place.. that is how free market economics works.. as the Media fractures into an enormous number of outlets, there is less and less money for each individual outlet.. so less and less (expensive) ‘rigorous’ investigative journalism is conducted.

      The ‘truth’ is a concept, not a product.. so you can’t pay for it.. indeed ‘truths’ are hard to handle (Jack Nicholson et al), even if you do stumble across them by chance.. because it is extremely difficult to quantify a genuine ‘truth’.

      A measurement always causes the system to jump into an eigenstate of the dynamical variable that is being measured,the eigenvalue of this eigenstate belongs to being equal to the result of the measurement
      — P.A.M. Dirac (1958) in “The Principles of Quantum Mechanics” p. 36

      It is also important to make the distinction between facts and truths.. Imho a genuine ‘truth’ is based entirely on objective facts and has no political bias.. bias is caused by ANY individual or group quantifying it, transforming what was a ‘truth’ into a product.. thus creating something which has a ‘value’ to the individual or group.

      If that transformation is difficult to achieve, the individual or group generally either, ignore the truth and hope it goes away or throw rocks in an attempt to dive it off, using the justification that it is not a ‘real’ truth.. but a feral truth (probably from somewhere foreign) that will bite you, when you least expect it.

  52. Climate science is politically funded. Therefore the selection of who and what to fund will inherently have a pro-political bias. This is not a question of an elaborate hoax, is something that will happen almost subconsciously, as grants are made with the funder’s own best interest in mind. Government is no different to any other organization in this regard. It is also at least as self-interested, as well as being all-powerful (police, army etc).

    But however good or otherwise government climate science is, the overwhelming message it delivers is alarm. That’s why the overwhelmingly dominant climate “meme” is alarm. Which of course ties in closely with another powerful meme – survival.

    Isn’t this version better for being simpler?

    • Democratic governments are not all powerful.. they do as they are told by their financial backers (industry), the media and voters.. I put voters in last place for good reason.. governments / politicians only listen to voters if they don’t have a large majority / there is an election coming.
      The most powerful political tool a voter has, is not actually the vote, its every ‘dollar’ (generic) they spend and what products they chose to spend it on.. because that is how you tell industry what to do.. and industry (as I indicated earlier) is in pole position when it comes to pushing your government around on a day to day basis.

      “”Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time” – Winston Churchill, 1947.

    • Lamna nasus
      Democratic governments are not all powerful..

      All governments posses a monopoly on legal violence, democratic ones included. That’s what a govenment is. They, and only they, achieve their ends through the use of superior, proactive force. Basically, government is the guys with the guns; you must do as they say, or else. A bit like gangsters, just much bigger.

      … [governments] do as they are told by their financial backers (industry) … [which is] in a pole position when it comes to pushing your government around on a day to day basis.

      More or less like the Jewish Bankers conspiracy theory says eh? And how does industry – which basically produces and sells goods and services to the public – do this “pushing around” of government exactly? Secret stash of guns maybe ?

      All of which, though, is way off the original topic, which is that government
      – funds (and hence controls) climate science
      – as a huge vested interest in climate science preaching alarmism (CAGW).

      You do the math.

  53. Andy, an excellent essay and thank you.

    It simply means that no scenarios are ruled out, from the very dangerous to the utterly benign, and it is very much in the memeplex’s interests to keep the situation that way. Memeplexes wallow in uncertainty and confusion.

    Example from AR4:

    It is likely to be in the range 2°C to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values substantially higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded

  54. A Google Scholar search on memeplex shows this is an emerging concept, with fewer than 800 papers in the last decade or so, which is a tiny number. Most of these seem to focus on the jumping frog algorithm, which is math not science and very specialized.

    Since I do research on the evolution of science this is interesting stuff, but it does not support Andy’s grandiose claims. Also troubling is that meme science seems focused on supposedly irrational social contagions. But all social evolution is via contagion, especially including science and innovation. Thus there seems to be a false implication that CAGW is irrational. It is not.

    • Sorry, it is the shuffled frog algorithm, not the jumping frog.

    • David Wojick

      CAGW is irrational.

      IPCC AR4:

      CO2 is more soluble in colder than in warmer waters; therefore, changes in surface and deep ocean temperature have the potential to alter atmospheric CO2

      So is it not the cause that the observed increase in CO2 is the result of the ocean warming?

    • The essay goes to some length to point out that memeplexes are not delusions and not scams or conspiracies, and this is true of CAGW as any other memeplex and supported by the memtic perspective. But in the sense that the (emergent, not agential) agenda of the memeplex will typically distance itself from fact, then yes it will seem to those outside the memeplex that irrational behaviour is occuring.

  55. Memeplexes can’t be applied to evidence-based things, like science, only faith-based things like religions, some forms of ideology, and various ideas in social sciences. if you apply it to science, how do you distinguish climate science from evolution, Big Bang cosmology, the Standard Model of particle physics, relativity, quantum mechanics, etc? Is the whole idea that the Jurassic period, for example, was warmer due to raised CO2 levels part of this meme, or is it evidence-based published paleoclimatology?

    • You are absolutely right. That’s why the essay *doesn’t* do that. It is pointing out that the social phenomenon of CAGW is a memeplex that has distanced itself from reality and science (whatever that science may say, for better or worse). The detail says how this process works in terms of the science of memetics and cultural evolution, bith extensive scientific field with decades of development behind them. The advantage of this approach is that it does not rest on any philsophy or politics, only on evolutionary fundamentals.

      • How do you separate the factual parts of a science from the meme parts? For example in the past high CO2 levels went with warm temperatures, and the science explains this in the same way it predicts that high CO2 levels will again lead to warmer temperatures in the future. How can a consistent hypothesis of future evolution using past evidence be considered a meme? Science is about hypotheses like this, predicting results from theories. A theory is not a meme, but part of science.

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

        Jim D., asks:

        “How do you separate the factual parts of a science from the meme parts?”

        It is all meme, so trying to separate one from another will only reveal your own personal ecosystem of memeplexes (i.e. what’s in your mind). Memeplexes are explanations or “models” for what is causing the shadows on the wall in Plato’s cave, and thus, should not be judged as being in absolute terms “true” or “false” for they all are only human constructs, but some match more closely in the with whatever is causing those shadows. Thus, some memeplexes, as models for reality can be judged as more useful than others.

    • But CAGW is certainly evidence based. It dominates climate research and warmers provide many evidence based arguments. Nor are the standard meme science cases non-evidence based. Here are some standard cases Take revolutions for example. People typically have good evidence based reasons for revolting.

      The confusion here is profound. Meme science is being used as a political attack tool by skeptics.

      • Bang! Goes the gavel. Order, Order. The first item on the agenda is the first rule, haha, how marvelous. Do I hear a second?

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      Jim D. said:

      “Memeplexes can’t be applied to evidence-based things, like science, only faith-based things like religions…”
      Respectfully, I disagree. Science itself is a memeplex and tells us both what to look at and how to interpret what we are seeing. It takes a truly open-minded scientist to understand this essential fact and to constantly remind herself of himself that even the scientific method is a memeplex, as other ways of interpreting reality are possible. Individuals who can step outside their memeplex and see it for what it is, are the most likely to remain truly skeptical and be the most creative.

      • Then we would apply it to quantum mechanics and relativity theory too. There is no useful purpose in separating out climate science from other science. And then also what is the meaning of evidence-based ideas? Seeing is believing. Is that therefore also a meme? This gets us into deep philosophy about existence.

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

        Jim D., very intelligently realized:

        “And then also what is the meaning of evidence-based ideas? Seeing is believing. Is that therefore also a meme? This gets us into deep philosophy about existence.”
        Exactly! These require lots of beer or wine and sitting around a table late into the night with like-minded individuals.
        Anything that can be communicated by language is a memeplex. There are no exceptions. What is causing the shadows on the wall of the cave—this thing we call “reality” we can never know in itself. We interpret it through our own bias doors of perception and then to share that interpretation, we create memes shared via language Shared memes passed from generation to generation form the fabric of society, whether that society be scientific, religious, political, etc.

      • It is Plato versus Aristotle. Seeing is believing is more the Aristotle view. Science is based on observation and tries to predict them. Is science reality? It has predictive power about some subset of reality. That is about as deep as I can get.

    • Robert Austin

      Jim D inadvertently reveals how deeply he is embedded in the CAGW memeplex with his Jurassic CO2 assertion.

  56. andywest2012,

    Why is memetics not a memeplex?

    I have asked this a couple times above, but the question may have gotten lost in the mix.

    Your summary pdf includes the following:

    “Memes lodge in the psyche as a permanent phenomenon, retransmitting by pushing hot buttons in our minds. They also restrict an individual’s world
    -view and make taboo certain types of argumentation/development, plus
    block normal negotiations, eventually causing ‘encapsulation'”.


    “a useful cry against the tyranny of a major memeplex (CAGW / Ecologism) is made, and it is noted that there is commonality of such cries against other memeplexes down the ages. An example from 1832 in which the Editress of The Isis rails against the religious memeplex of the era is given.”

    Your memetics, by defining CAGW and religion and memeplexes. is doing exactly the same as what you accuse the adherents to both. You restrict the world view of those who are or would be religious and make religion intellectually taboo, or who are or would be CAGW supporters. You describe religion, like CAGW, as a “tyranny of a major memeplex.”

    While facially decrying Dawkins’ hostility to religion, it permeates your writing. And while denying being a reductionist, you do not just analogize memetics to genetics, you liken it to the most determinist views of genetics.

    Rather than mere sacs of fluid whose only function is to pass along their genes, you describe man as intellectually subject to “tyranny” of “permanent phenomen[a]” that you call memes.

    Implicit in what you write is that not all human though is necessarily memetic. But I see no explanation in your post, or in you pdf summary, of the difference. Nor do I see any discussion of how, other than just accepting the musings of Dawkins, you analyze an issue, debate, philosophy or religion to determine whether it is a meme.

    • And yet, it memes.

      • andywest2012,

        I say you are defining CAGW as a memeplex so it can be disregarded in a policy sense. According to your own words, as a memeplex, CAGW is not science. That which is a memeplex by your definition is not science, and thus should not be the basis for making policy decision.

        The circular reasoning is that the fact that CAGW is not “real” science, is what makes it a memeplex. I see no analysis that gets you to that conclusion, other than the conclusion itself.

        Similarly, you argue that memetics is not a memeplex, it is science. Why, because it is “tied to the scientific method.” But that is exactly what the CAGWers say. about their beliefs

        Where is the scientific method in identifying whether a concept is a meme. or a group of thoughts is a memeplex? Above, one of your co-memeticists argued that there are many papers and a consensus that memetics is a science. The exact same is true of CAGW. They have many more papers, a broader consensus, and their work certainly is presented as following the scientific method.

        And that is no less true for CAGW than for AGW. The AR4 and newly released WG I section of the AR5 are filled with scientific attempts to support their belief that AGW is C. The assumptions going into the science arguably affect their results, but that can also be said of your memetic analysis of CAGW.

        I still see no explanation of the scientific method used to identify what is a meme or memeplex and what is not. The argument is as though a medical diagnostician were asked why something is a disease, and he answers, because it is not healthy.

        According to you, memetics is not a memeplex because it follows the scientific method. That would be a logical argument (though probably still not persuasive) if you didn’t at the same time reject that very argument in categorizing CAGW as a memeplex.

        Here is another way of looking at it. (And my comments are long, even for me, because I am taking you seriously, and you are engaging civilly. Not the norm on blogs. And I would genuinely like to know if my opinion, formed from what you have posted here, and your pdf summary, is accurate.)

        Bottom line, my opinion of memetics is akin to that of other areas of social “science”. The researchers always find through “scientific” analysis that their own opinions are rational, objective and reasonable. while those who disagree are irrational, subjective and unreasonable.

        You reject religion, religion is a meme.

        You reject CAGW, CAGW is a meme.

        You support memetics, memetics is science.

        Is there any body of thought with which you disagree that is not a memeplex?

        Is there any body of thought with which you agree that is?

      • I have to say, the irony of this discussion is fascinating.

        On quite a number of occasions, when GaryM gives us one of the many memes on his list – say when he bemoans how modern society has lost its way due to a lack of adherence to a Judeo-Christian doctrine of morality (paraphrasing), and I asked him for evidence of his claim, evidence of this trend he described, he has failed to produce any.

        Instead, he just repeats the same meme, or another version of “Kids ain’t what they used to be.” In other words, I have basically said to Gary…

        I still see no explanation of the scientific method used to identify what is a meme or memeplex you describe as a clear and distinct and easily observable trend, and what is not. The argument is as though a medical diagnostician were asked why something is a disease, and he answers, because it is not healthy.

        And now we turn around, and Gary presents that argument to Andy. And I agree with him as it references Andy’s argument, yet Andy and I are in agreement that Gary’s rejection of something with which he unfamiliar is “hasty.”

      • I ignored everything you wrote for a very long time because you lie, and keep posting the same drivel over and over again, no matter how many other commenters, skeptic and warmist alike, point out your obnoxious behavior.

        When Dr. Curry finally had enough and started deleting your comments wholesale, you changed, for a while. So when you post a comment that merits a response, I respond. But when you are back to just doing your normal, content free repetitive nonsense, I still ignore you.

    • I see others have tried to explain above. Memetics is a science just like physics is a science. Therefore it is tied to fact, or the nearest things we have to fact, which are mathematical models and evidence comparisons. Fact short circuits the evolution of memeplexes. But anything that contains uncertainty or any degree of lattitude, will have wiggle room for evolution to take place. Clearly as all science is not known *absoutely*, e.g. the Higgs boson in physics, or the mathematical modelling of multi-level selection in evolution, the maths of game theory in memetics and economics, there will always be some wiggle room. But scientific endeavours can never become memeplexes while they remain true to the scientific method, the wiggle room is too low. However, memeplexes (due to penetration of memes into the psyche) can alter perceptions, and pull folks away from the scientific method and as far away from facts as possible (at least as far as they can get without wholly losing credibility), and hence generate enough wiggle room to evolve still more and penetrate the psyches of still more people. Many have complained indeed the climate science has long been corrupted this way, hence if so it isn’t really science anymore, but simply a means to support the orthodox core of the memeplex. Does that help?

      Appendix 3 draws comparisons to biology and genetics, and takes the *least* reductionist path, to the extent of decrying Dawkins etc and stressing fuzzy entities, multi-level selection, and so on.

      • “Memetics is a science just like physics is a science. Therefore it is tied to fact, or the nearest things we have to fact, which are mathematical models and evidence comparisons.”

        I asked how you determine whether CAGW or memetics is a meme or not, and your answer is “memetics is a science”

        Well, I guess that settles it. You restate your conclusion as the answer to a question about how you arrived at it.

        OK, so if you want to describe something as a meme, so it can be disregarded, you just have to classify it as a “social phenonmeon” rather than science. (Now I see why there is such an attempt to analogize to genetics, making memes somehow part of the physical realm of science.) Ignore all the models and paleo clmate and reams of peer reviewed papers. CAGW is not science at all, just a cultural entity. Why? Because the author says so.

        CAGW, which may well be politicized science, or bad science in places, or dishonest science in places, but it is most definitely at least in part science. And I suspect that the warmists will argue that even the C part of CAGW is science. In fact they do all the time.

        More to the point, “science” is not an anthropomorphic quality that a group of thought either has or doesn’t. It is a method. A way of learning about and describing the physical world. Distinguishing between “science” and “not-science” as determining whether an body of thought is a memeplex makes religion immediately suspect.

        Which also explains why “memetics” is defined (by its adherents) as a science.

        Nope, that doesn’t answer the question. It’s completely subjective. If the entire body of climate science can be disregarded as a memeplex (or if you can pick and choose those elements that are science, and those that are memetic), then the term becomes flexible beyond restriction.

        “Meme” becomes just another content free term, like “fairness” or “climate change” or “for the children”. It means whatever the speaker wants it to mean at the time.

        “However, memeplexes (due to penetration of memes into the psyche) can alter perceptions, and pull folks away from the scientific method and as far away from facts as possible.”

        One last question if you will, then we can again just agree to disagree again.

        Don’t you think that Gavin Schmidt, Kevin Trenberth, Phil Jones, James Hansen and other CAGW luminaries would say exactly the same thing about your application of memetics here? You are using memetics to alter perceptions of climate science, and pull folks away from the scientific method regarding climate. Which I assure you, they all believe they follow when preparing their work.

        Memetics, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

        Andywest says:

        “Memetics is a science just like physics is a science. Therefore it is tied to fact, or the nearest things we have to fact, which are mathematical models and evidence comparisons.”

        I hope you see the rather circular reasoning you are using. Memeplexes and the very notion of them are models—shadows on the wall in Plato’s cave. Everything that we construct using language are exactly that—right down to our construction of the universe and how we think it is all put together.

        Here’s the essential detail: Anything that can be communicated via language is a memeplex. That language can be mathematical, grammatical, metaphorical (as in art), etc. These are all explanations for what is creating the shadows.

      • GaryM | November 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm |

        Hi Gary. Well I had certainly not intended a circular argument, I guess I didn’t understand your question, and I’m certainly vague about quite what you’re asking, especially as your last text covers a lot of ground.

        One thing that puzzles me, is that you say that I’m defining something as a meme ‘so it can be disregarded’. I don’t get this at all. I’m identifying CAGW as a memeplex, precisely because this makes it a monster in the room that requires huge attention and regard, much more than if one doesn’t realise it is a memeplex.

        I specifically define ‘the social phenomenon of CAGW’, and say that this *doesn’t* include anything happening in the actual climate, *or climate science as a proxy for that*. Maybe I’m not clear enough, but any *genuine* science happening in the climate domain is not really part of the memeplex (because it is tied to fact in some decent manner), but any science that has become corrupted via memetic influence, isn’t science anymore, effectively, and therefore *is* dragged into the memeplex.

        Is that clearer? My personal assumption in the essay is that this boundary lies (as some folks mentioned upthread) between CAGW and AGW, i.e. it is the ‘C’ part that is in the memeplex. Is that clearer?

        Another thing I should make more clear, is that we are talking ‘memeplex’ here, not ‘meme’, for the whole of (the social phenomenon of) CAGW. While one should not take biological comparisons too literally, a meme is to a memeplex like a gene is to a gene-pool, for instance the gene poll of a whole species. Think of all the things a species is that a single gene is not. This will maybe make the context a little clearer too.

        So I would argue that good science in any domain (e.g. in climate science McIntyre’s audits) are not part of any memeplex, and I utterly agree with you that science is a method and NOT part of the memeplex of CAGW. That’s why I was careful to say ‘the social phenomenon of’ and exclude climate events and (real) science, and in the start of the essay it says the term CAGW will be used to have this specific meaning (because it’s way to hard to make those caveats every time). So I hope this clear up some misunderstanding, because we certainly seem to agree on this point at least from what I see in your text.

        What I don’t quite see now is why you think memetics, which I think is a science, and therefore adhering to the scientific method, which I think we both agree is NOT subject to memetic evolution (as long as not corrupted), is itself a memeplex. Of course to some extent, one needs time to make a call on whether something turned out to be good or bad science, and memetics was thought to be fringe 20 or 25 years back or so. But maybe before I go on further, I should check back in with you, and see whether we are getting any closer to mutual understanding yet?

      • andywest2012,

        I misthreaded this response above.

      • GaryM | November 2, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
        In the interests of brevity, I will cut to the money questions, which I think are a good way to proceed btw.

        “You reject religion, religion is a meme.”
        memeplex, not meme. World of difference. But with that caveat, yes.

        You reject CAGW, CAGW is a meme.
        Same caveat as above. PLUS, I reject ‘the social phenomenon of CAGW’, i.e. NOT including any of the genuine science taking place on climate, but yes including science that has been corrupted, because it is the memeplex that has done the corrupting. I’m still not sure you see this distinction I make. NO real science can be part of a memeplex, at least for very long; memeplexes are strangled, or at least heaviliy constrained, by facts, and real science stays in touch with those facts. Repeat: NO genuine science on climate is included in the memeplex. But when science does become biassed, it can be hard to sort the biassed stuff from the real stuff, a task Climate Audit is permanently engaged on.

        ‘You support memetics, memetics is science.’
        Yes. A nascent science, it is true, but it is up to us to see whether it sheds light on the behaviour of various social phenomena (eg religion) or not, and treat it with the appropriate skeptcism as we would any science area or individual hypothesis coming out of that area, no different than say physics, or economic theory (which from a game theory PoV overlaps with memetics). The hypothesis in the post says I believe it does shed light. If you think the points mentioned on the pdf *don’t* match CAGW for instance, then that would be an argument against – yet you haven’t mentioned any of those points yet ;)

        ‘Is there any body of thought with which you disagree that is not a memeplex?’
        Political fringes / extremes can have high memetic content, but it tends to be low with mainstream politics that deals with realities. As long as not influenced by say, religion or CAGW. I disagree with various politicians here in the UK on maintsream stuff that is not influenced by above items and is not a memeplex. There was a large body of opinion here regarding how immigrants should be integrated that I disagreed with for quite some years (it is the ‘how’, not the ‘if’, I had problems with), though the situation is now changing, and I don’t think anything heavily memetic was going on. My interests are quite narrow and I tend to withold any opinions until I’ve delved deep into a subject, and that happens on few subjects I guess. I don’t agree with Dawkins and the selfish gene camp in biological evolution; the facts to me seem to favour the group and multi-level (all levels from gene upwards can be selected at once), but as far as I’m aware of at least, there is no heavily memetic thing going on here, it is just that the evidence is not yet clear enough for judgement, and folks take the interpretation they came to by whatever route. (Outside of the science community, in the public domain, popular science books can create memes out of the latest theory or approximation that in fact was just a staging post along the road – but these memes don’t usually stray too far, although they can). I think there is very rarely no memetic content at all, but on the other hand it is often so low that it doesn’t really matter, we are geared to interpret, and certainly no memeplex is involved. A memeplex is a vast arryay of co-ordinated memes that are co-evolving.

        “Is there any body of thought with which you agree that is?”
        Almost certainly. But given everyone is at least partially immersed in some memeplex or other, identifying ones own is harder than identifying your own. In truth, I know I’m pretty subject to nationalism, at both a deep psychological level incurred throughout childhood I guess (the national anthem and nationalistic works by Elgar can still make my spine tingle), up to intellectual longings for a stand-alone UK which I have to fight hard because logic tells me ‘Europe’ is a better answer. The ‘in’ or ‘out’ of Europe has dominated UK politics and political science for decades, with the result that we are generally half in and half out. Because I know I have some immersion in nationalism, I take care to try and think before opening mouth, but how would I know if I’m immersed in something I don’t know about? No doubt you would say ‘memetics’!, but where is its reward structure, its salvation substitute, its punishment regime, hook, bait , taxation demand (nothing to do with fiscal taxation – it’s a memetic term)? The social phenomenon of CAGW has all these components of a memeplex, show me these components for memetics…

        My question. I believe all things have a scientific explanation. I have put up a hypothesis that appears to shed some light on the bizarre behaviour within the social phenomenon (although it’s not really ‘mine’ in the sense that many folks have made comparisons of CAGW to religion and mentioned memes too). That hypothesis has at least some backup from various (quoted) fields, e.g. the penetration of memes into the psyche, memetics etc, with some refs. What is your hypothesis for the behaviour, the wasting of trillions of $, the ridiculously policed and heavy consensus agaist a backdrop of major uncertainty (as our host has noted), the biassing of some scientists, the massive advocacy for solutions to a problem that is not yet even defined, the ‘denier’ term, (all of which the essay maps on to memeplex characteristics) and much more?

      • andywest2012,

        Thanks for your response.

        You answered my questions, but I found the answers less than fully responsive. I do however see better how you see your field. And your answers confirm one of my primary objections to your chosen field of memetics.

        While you claim it is scientific, it is too subjective for that.

        I appreciate your answers, but they also demonstrate that one of the attributes of a meme or memeplex, is that they have to be wrong, non-scientific, not rational. Which removes any similarity between genetics and memetics.

        Genes are not right or wrong. They are by their very nature reflections of physical reality. All genes do not corrupt their hosts. In fact life would not exist without genes. They area part of their physical being.

        R. Gates’ view of memes is at least an objective, scientific one. All thoughts and ideas are memes, not just the ones with which he disagrees. Mosher’s likening them to viruses makes the subject just as subjective, and hence unscientific, as your own.

        When asked if there is any body of thought with which you disagree that is not a memeplex, you struggle. What you identify as “mainstream” politics is not, but “political fringes” are. Particularly those influenced by bodies of thought with which you disagree, religion and CAGW.

        When asked if there is an body of thought with which you agree that is a memeplex, you demur saying there may be some, but you resist them. In other words, they are ideas or concepts you reject intellectually when you realize what they are.

        There are, in short, no correct thoughts or principles or ideas that are memes or memeplexes, in your view. Which takes me back to my original criticism. Your memetics to me is a way of dressing up your opinions as scientific, and identifying those with which you disagree as memes/memeplexes, so they can be dismissed as a grounds for implementing policy.

        In other words, memes and memeplexes are not some objective, real world cultural artifacts. They are incorrect, corrupting ideas and concepts. And incorrectness, corruption are in the eyes of the beholder.

        So I appreciate your answers. But as you noted above, we shall just have to agree to disagree, without friction.

        (By the way, on your definition of memes/memeplexes by reference to religion, let me point out that the core dogma of the Catholic Church has remain unchanged for over 2000 years, Orthodox Judaism longer, and Bhuddism longer still. To me, atheism would be the memeplex, complete with the God gene, the multi-verse and other fantastic – albeit possible – imaginings. If I believed in memeplexes.)

        As to your last question, how do I explain the CAGW phenomenon? A combination of vanity, personal interest, genuine concern for the environment (over the people who live in it), some real science, some agenda driven science, and a central core of political activists who set the agenda in ways to push their political movement of centralizing control, both political and economic, in their own hands.

        That is for the activists. The bulk of people who support it are what I call default progressives. They believe what they believe in general, including about CAGW, because that is what they have been taught since grade school; it is what all their colleagues and families believe; it is all they see in the media.

        I know you would say this is how memes are passed. But if memes are like genes, their passage should automatic. Default progressives are progressives because in the 1960s, radical leftists realized there would be no revolution, left the streets, and a large percentage of them entered education.

        When someone changes their mind, they are not evolving, they are changing their minds.

        I am convinced now, more than ever, that memetics is a memeplex. (If I believed in memes.)

      • And I appreciate your thoughtful and polite responses. Makes for a pleasant exchange even when there are different views. A couple of final points on your last text. The big religions of our time have evolved very considerably, as their own documents show, and their own scholars are usually happy to say (despite there may be a ‘received’ version of this). I’m not familiar with buddhism , but I am familiar enough with Christianity and Islam to know about many of the big changes, and some of the narratives that were once quite common but got down-selected (e.g. as revealed by the Lost Gospels). Of course there have also been many religions in the past, some known a little from archaelogy and likely a whole bunch from earlier times that left few symbols or artefacts. There is an evolutionary trail here.

        The fact that memeplexes are ‘wrong’, to use your word, does not imply they can’t be studied with scientific techniques. The word ‘parasitical’ (or ‘symbiotic’ where there are benefits as well as downsides) is perhaps a better match. There are parasites at various levels in biology, e.g. cellular, or some insects, whatever, for instance a tapeworm maybe. One can regard these as ‘wrong’ too from the PoV of the species they are living off. But tapeworms can be, and are, studied in detail by science. In a similar way, memetics can study the cultural parasites (or symbiotes) that are memeplexes.

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      Gary intelligently asks:

      “Why is memetics not a memeplex?”
      Certainly it is. Here’s the clue: Anything that can be communicated via language is a memeplex. It must be so, for language is the glue of the social order and memeplexes and language go hand-in-hand.

  57. In my view, there is much to be gained by viewing CAGW catastrophism as a highly stylised form of simian grooming. It fulfils many of the functions usually associated with grooming in the apes – mutual propitiation, affirmation of group membership, and the ostentiation of virtue, and therefore status, within the group.

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      “…there is much to be gained by viewing CAGW catastrophism as a highly stylised form of simian grooming.”
      The same can be said when Heartland holds its annual conference. It is all simian grooming, for that is the intention of memes- holding together the social order. Meme’s exist because simians are social creatures.

  58. Why do some of us adopt a memeplex while others do not? Why do some of us initially adopt a memeplex only to discard it early on while others may keep it for a lifetime? Why once we adopt a memeplex is it so hard to discard?
    Also, do we tend to be slower to adopt a memeplex as we grow older?
    Lastly, can we knowingly avoid a popular memeplex, or must we be unaware?
    It seems to me a memeplex is very similar to an opinion.

    • M. Hastings,

      Close. A memeplex is someone else’s opinion.

      • My point exactly, an opinion. I wasn’t clear I guess as I was referring to all people.

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      M. Hastings asks:

      “Why do some of us adopt a memeplex while others do not? ”
      Thinking you do not will keep you forever believing that the shadows are reality. Everything we communicate via any sort of language is a memeplex.

      • R. Gates, You missed my point completely, do you believe every memeplex?

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

        M. Hastings:

        Quite right, I did. Why do some of adopt a CERTAIN memeplex while others do not? Right?
        As stated in my longer replies to Andy, our minds are essentially an ecosystem of memeplexes, and we will adopt memeplexes that are compatible with that ecosystem in order to keep cogntive dissonance to a mimimum. In the normal person, all your memeplexes need to play nicely together, when they don’t, you experience stress, and eventually you cast out the something or alter your ecosystem.

      • R. Gates: Yes, sorry for the confusion.
        I try not to blame a person for their opinion that would be pointless. I have changed many opinions in my past and some were very hard to change but I believe necessary to, as you say reduce stress. I believe firmly that stress is always self induced.

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

        M. Hastings said:

        “I believe firmly that stress is always self induced.”
        I wish that were the case, but I don’t happen to believe that at all. There are many times in our lives when we are ‘force-fed’ memeplexes that simply don’t mix well with the ecosystem of memeplexes that we already have and this causes the stress. Depending on how motivated you are (through love, pride, desperation, money, etc) to adopt that new memeplex, will dictate how stressful that experience of being force-fed is. The net result after that stress, will be either that we’ve adopted that new memeplex (our minds or memeplex ecosystem is altered) or we reject it outright and break off the relationship with the infecting memeplex provider.

      • M. Hastings –

        “I believe firmly that stress is always self induced.”

        I would assume that you are aware of the research that shows the long-term negative health outcomes associated with early childhood trauma – negative health outcomes that are similar to those associated with stress?

        Maybe I misunderstood something there? Maybe “that stress” is referring to a specific stress? If not, how do you reconcile your statement with what I just described?

      • ” Everything we communicate via any sort of language is a memeplex.”

        To paraphrase Milton Friedman – We are all Memians now.

      • R. Gates and Joshua,
        Anything that happens to you always involves a choice, shall I flee or stand. That choice is up to you. Stress is self induced because if you evaluate it, it only happens because you impose it on yourself.
        Does it matter to anyone else whether you are stressed or not? Do they even understand why you may be stressed?
        Being stressed is a feeling, a very bad feeling for many (I suppose), but as soon as you stop thinking about it, it goes away.

    • All great questions, of which I’m not sure I can anwer to yoru satisfaction, but here’s a quick try
      1) memes and genes have co-evolved in us for a very long time [see the ‘blackmore’ link in the post). From a racial point-of-view we have been ‘pre-sensistised’, for want of a better word, to memetic influence. But populations with a range characteristics and responses survive better than those (like a clone population) that are indentical. So, just like some people are much more vulnerable than others to a certain disease, some folks may be much more vulnerable to memeplexes. Also, some folks already immersed in one memeplex, may be less likley to be immersed in another, unless they are non-overlapping. Memeplexes emply ‘vaccimes’ to keep out other memeplexes.
      2) Not sure I can do much with this one, but some folks occaionally fall out of a memeplex when some life changing event or collision with contradictory facts, creates enough of a time window of greater rationality for them to escape.
      3) This one is easier. Memeplexes deploy many pyschological devices to keep us inside of them. Guilt is one (christian sin, harming the planet), attractions are another (going to heaven, saving the planet), and so on. These things sound trivial, but they reach down to a deep level, and are not always transmitted in such blunt and obvious ways.
      4) Not sure on that. I have observed personally, and with some folks I know, that age lends a certain immunity, simply becuase older folks have ‘seen it all before’. Some feel instinctively that the promises are pie-crust, even if they sometimes still weaken to them, or can’t actually raise enough courage to change their life and bail out of a memeplex they’re already in.
      4) Beware of strong advocacy, offers of salvation, or salvation by proxy (saving the planet), or the laying down of strong guilt on you, etc. Take a rational look at the core premise / offering. In the end not every offering is a memeplex! Must be biorne in mind that not all memeplexes are net negative either. We likely wouldn’t still be co-evolving with them if that was so.
      5) More like an allied raft of opinions, that are very persuasive by virtue of having survived generations (of opinion/idea changes, not of people, though maybe both), and burrow into the psyche.

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

        Those are great answers Andy, but more fundamental is the notion that all of our thoughts and world view rely on some form of language to form. As Mosher points out and is so nicely illustrated on this website:
        Language itself is a virus- and becomes our Master Memeplex, the umbrella for the ecosystem of memeplexes that form our “minds” as it were. Those who speak multiple languages have literally been shown to conceptualize the world slightly differently when thinking in a different language. So any memeplex that would attach itself to our minds—to become part of the ecosystem of memeplexes must first be formulated in some form of language (be it literal, mathematical, metaphorical) and then in must “play nice” with the other memeplexes, or failing to do so, alter that ecosystem by stress, or be cast out. Satan, be gone!

      • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist | November 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm |

        I agree and take that point on language. But it’s kind of an uber scope to the thrust of what i’m expressing, and it’s also true that some very simple memes have psychological appeal that transecnds language. One of the earliest pieces of deciphered writing we have (from 3500BC in Kish) is a version of ‘the past is always better’ meme. This now appears in many forms in many (maybe all) languages, and while the words are different, the psychological hot button being pressed, remains the same.

  59. WUWT highlight Lewandowsky, Mann et al.
    Since even WUWT had a post on this to balance the memeplex one, it may be good if Climate Etc. does. It is definitely part of the Etcetera when they refer to tactics used against them from varying skeptical groups. The abstract is interesting reading. You can ignore Watts huffing and puffing about it.

  60. OK, OK, memeplexes are elephants we each touch blindly.

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      No, memeplexes are our explanations for the shadows cast by the elephant (if the elephant is to be regarded as abosolute “reality”). We share our stories about what is casting those shadows, and that forms the basis of our religions, science, and indeed, civilization.

  61. This thread is hilarious for the muted response of the CAGWers. They would normally rage at anyone dismissing CAGW as a “cultural entity” or meme.

    But the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And they love the determinist assault on religion. So the poor dears don’t know what to do.

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      Who are the CAGW’ers here Gary? I’ve not seen anyone here proclaming with religious certainty– “The End is Neigh!” and “CO2 is the Devil!”

  62. Michael Larkin

    Just testing whether this is posted as I just had a post I’d spent a lot of time on rejected.

    • Maybe you used a banned word, like a religious (Ch***) or drug name (mari*****). Those posts just disappear, I found. You might find the post in your browser with the back button if you are not too late.

  63. R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

    Meme (one explanation to the shadows on the wall): Three “atoms” come together to form a “molecule” that we call “CO2”. That molecule absorbs and the emits certainty “frequencies” of “electromagnetic radiation.” As this molecule increases in concentration in the atmosphere of Earth, more “energy” will be stored by the Earth system. That increased energy will be reflected in various changes to the system, also known as “climate change”. One of those changes, of particular interest to humans, since humans inhabit this range of the Earth system, will be the warming of the troposphere. Other changes to other parts of the system may also be equally important to human welfare, and additional amounts of CO2 added may be beneficial (to a point) or harmful (in excess), i.e. humans have done pretty well with CO2 in the 280 ppm range, but 180 ppm seems to have things a bit cold, and 400 ppm and over takes the planet into a range not seen since their Australopithecus ancestors were roaming the planet. Looking at the paleoclimate record might be one excellent way of seeing what this additional CO2 might do to the climate system.

  64. A meme is a meme is a concept.

  65. Edmonds, B. (2002). Three Challenges for the Survival of Memetics.
    Journal of Memetics – Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission, 6.

    That was about a decade ago. Any progress?

    • Vintage 2005:

      In 2005, the last volume of JOM-EMIT (Journal of Memetics – Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission) included an article that proclaimed “the poverty of the memetics project [resulted] in a lack of demonstrable progress which, in turn, has meant that it has failed to interest other academics” and that “memetics, as an identifiable discipline, will not be widely missed” (Edmonds, 2005).

      As part of his argument, Edmonds gathered data from Google Scholar and the ISI citation index. He demonstrated that by 2002 the number of scholarly papers on the topic of ‘memetics’ had spiked and was experiencing a major downturn by2004 (Figure 1).

      • I thought the best chapter in The Selfish Gene was “Selfish Wasp or Selfish Strategy?” Here, Dawkins describes a set of measurements that should bear a certain relationship to one another according to the relevant evolutionary game theory concept. The relative costs and benefits of two strategies are calculated in terms of the time to execute them (build your own nest, or try to steal another wasp’s nest), equilibrium frequencies of these two strategies are predicted from this information and the game theory equilibrium concept, and then you check up on whether it all fits together. You compare the actual frequencies in the population to the predicted frequencies.

        It’s a real empirical study. The theory makes predictions about how several measurements should fit together, and they go out and do the measurements and check the theory.

        I have seen more empirical evolution work since then, some of it quite remarkable–seeing whether fruit fly populations would evolve across thirty generations to detect and act on a certain environmental contingency that would confer survival-relevant benefits.

        Is there anything like this going on in the science of memetics?

  66. Not sure where to post this report, so apologies if (a) this is the wrong place and/or (b) it is too long.

    Yesterday, President Obama issued an Executive Order (full text available here – establishing a Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience “to advise the Administration on how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change.” The Executive Order further directs US federal agencies to “Modernize Federal programs to support climate-resilient investments,” “Manage lands and waters for climate preparedness and resilience,” “Provide information, data and tools for climate change preparedness and resilience,” and “Plan for climate change related risk.” To implement these actions, the Executive Order also establishes an interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience comprised of all relevant Federal agencies and led by White House staff.

    The accompanying Fact Sheet has details ( The full Fact Sheet follows below. Stop here if you do not wish to read the entire Fact Sheet!

    For Immediate Release
    November 01, 2013
    FACT SHEET: Executive Order on Climate Preparedness

    President Obama Establishes a Task Force on Climate

    “We’re going to need to get prepared. And that’s why this plan will also protect critical sectors of our economy and prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change that we cannot avoid. States and cities across the country are already taking it upon themselves to get ready… And we’ll partner with communities seeking help to prepare for droughts and floods, reduce the risk of wildfires, protect the dunes and wetlands that pull double duty as green space and as natural storm barriers.” – President Barack Obama, June 25, 2013

    Today, President Obama established a Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise the Administration on how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change. The Task Force members include state, local and tribal leaders from across the country who will use their first-hand experiences in building climate preparedness and resilience in their communities to inform their recommendations to the Administration.

    The President signed an Executive Order that directs Federal agencies to take a series of steps to make it easier for American communities to strengthen their resilience to extreme weather and prepare for other impacts of climate change.

    President Obama has said that we have a moral obligation to our children and future generations to leave them a planet that is not polluted or damaged. That is why in June, the President launched a Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution, prepare communities for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address this global challenge. The Climate Action Plan recognizes that even as we act to curb the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, we must also improve our ability to prepare for the climate impacts we are already seeing across the country. Across America, states, cities, and communities are taking steps to protect themselves from extreme weather and other climate impacts by updating building codes, adjusting the way they manage natural resources, investing in more resilient infrastructure, and planning for rapid recovery from damages that nonetheless occur.

    The Federal Government has an important role to play in supporting community-based preparedness and resilience efforts by establishing policies and prioritizing investments that promote preparedness, protecting critical infrastructure and public resources, supporting science and research needed to prepare for climate impacts, and ensuring that Federal operations and facilities continue to protect and serve citizens in a changing climate.

    State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

    State, local and tribal leaders across the country are already contending with more frequent or severe heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms and floods, and other impacts of climate change. The Task Force will provide recommendations to the President on removing barriers to resilient investments, modernizing Federal grant and loan programs to better support local efforts, and developing the information and tools they need to prepare.

    Task Force members comprise governors, mayors, county officials and tribal leaders, representing a diverse range of communities. The members of the Task Force include:

    State Officials:

    Governor Neil Abercrombie (HI)

    Governor Jerry Brown (CA)

    Governor Eddie Calvo (GU)

    Governor Jay Inslee (WA)

    Governor Jack Markell (DE)

    Governor Martin O’Malley (MD)

    Governor Pat Quinn (IL)

    Governor Peter Shumlin (VT)

    Local Officials:

    Mayor Ralph Becker (Salt Lake City, UT)

    Mayor James Brainard (Carmel, IN)

    Commissioner Paula Brooks (Franklin County, OH)

    Supervisor Salud Carbajal (Santa Barbara County, CA)

    Mayor Frank Cownie (Des Moines, IA)

    Mayor Bob Dixson (Greensburg, KS)

    Mayor Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles, CA)

    Mayor George Heartwell (Grand Rapids, MI)

    Mayor Kristin Jacobs (Broward County, FL)

    Mayor Kevin Johnson (Sacramento, CA)

    Mayor Michael Nutter (Philadelphia, PA)

    Mayor Annise Parker (Houston, TX)

    Mayor Patsy Parker (Perdido Beach, AL)

    Mayor Madeline Rogero (Knoxville, TN)

    Mayor Karen Weitkunat (Fort Collins, CO)

    Mayor Dawn Zimmer (Hoboken, NJ)

    Tribal Officials:

    Karen Diver, Chairwoman, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (MN)

    Reggie Joule, Mayor, Northwest Arctic Borough (AK)

    An Executive Order to Protect Our Communities

    The Obama Administration has taken significant steps to strengthen the climate resilience of America’s communities and economy. More than 30 Federal agencies developed their first-ever Climate Change Adaptation Plans, outlining strategies to protect their operations, programs, and investments to better serve communities and safeguard our public resources in the face of climate change. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Administration has provided resources to rebuild the affected area to be more resilient than before, including support for more climate-resilient roads and infrastructure, and projects that protect drinking water and buffer communities from flooding. In addition, Federal agencies have partnered with states, cities, tribes, and the private sector to develop strategies to address the impacts of climate change on our freshwater resources, oceans and coasts, and wildlife. Agencies have also built new, data-driven tools to help decision makers and resource managers map and plan for future sea level rise. From Florida to Minnesota, and from Alaska to New York, Federal agencies have partnered with communities to provide funding and technical assistance to address local climate impacts such as sea level rise, flooding, and water scarcity.

    To build on this progress, the Executive Order (E.O.) “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change,” signed today directs Federal agencies to:

    Modernize Federal programs to support climate-resilient investments: Agencies will examine their policies and programs and find ways to make it easier for cities and towns to build smarter and stronger. Agencies will identify and remove any barriers to resilience-focused actions and investments– for example, policies that encourage communities to rebuild to past standards after disasters instead of to stronger standards – including through agency grants, technical assistance, and other programs in sectors from transportation and water management to conservation and disaster relief.
    Manage lands and waters for climate preparedness and resilience: America’s natural resources are critical to our Nation’s economy, health and quality of life. The E.O. directs agencies to identify changes that must be made to land- and water-related policies, programs, and regulations to strengthen the climate resilience of our watersheds, natural resources, and ecosystems, and the communities and economies that depend on them. Federal agencies will also evaluate how to better promote natural storm barriers such as dunes and wetlands, as well as how to protect the carbon sequestration benefits of forests and lands to help reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change.
    Provide information, data and tools for climate change preparedness and resilience: Scientific data and insights are essential to help communities and businesses better understand and manage the risks associated with extreme weather and other impacts of climate change. The E.O. instructs Federal agencies to work together and with information users to develop new climate preparedness tools and information that state, local, and private-sector leaders need to make smart decisions. In keeping with the President’s Open Data initiative, agencies will also make extensive Federal climate data accessible to the public through an easy-to-use online portal.
    Plan for climate change related risk: Recognizing the threat that climate change poses to Federal facilities, operations and programs, the E.O. builds on the first-ever set of Federal agency adaptation plans released earlier this year and directs Federal agencies to develop and implement strategies to evaluate and address their most significant climate change related risks.

    To implement these actions, the E.O. establishes an interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, chaired by the White House and composed of more than 25 agencies. To assist in achieving the goals of the E.O., these agencies are directed to consider the recommendations of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

  67. I think the thing I like most about this article is the number of Contrarians who apparently didn’t realise Andy West is a Contrarian too.. and gave him a good old fashioned handbagging as a result .

    That Andy, is the reason WUWT pre-chews everything for its readership,..saves you having to desperately re-explain the article in layman’s terms so the zealots stop hurling rocks, because they didn’t understand the language and mistook you for a scientist.

    “…no one is to stone ANYONE until I blow this whistle! Even… and let me make this absolutely clear… even if they do say “Jehovah”!”
    – Monty Python’s Life of Brian

    • West is not going to make any friends among them if he lumps CAGW and religion together as memeplexes. For the majority of them, this does not compute. From my side, I don’t like evidence-based ideas being called a memeplex, so I don’t like it for that reason.

      • Hi Jim,
        I agree, however as I mentioned in one of my earlier posts ‘flat facts’ have a tendency to get assimilated into subjective narratives at incredible speed.. imho, it is important to recognise that memes exist on both sides of every argument, regardless of flat facts.. frequently as mirror images.. Contrarian echochambers actually place an enormous amount of prestige on the very evidence-based ideas that they despise.. but only once a suitable subjective narrative has been constructed to contain and re-interpret that evidence.
        This is why so little original scientific research is carried out by Contrarian is much cheaper to construct a subjective narrative around the research of the reputable Scientific community, since the subjective narrative basks in the reflected authority of the source material.

        The distorted logic of a narrative that claims: science contains errors and uncertainties, therefore all the science is wrong and we will prove it by using the same science, because its scientific and therefore can’t be wrong.. is obvious, but it still goes all the way back to The Inquisition.

        Andy’s article is effectively a Contrarian subjective narrative written by a physicist, about psychology.. which illustrates the point that straying outside a field of expertise, has its pitfalls.

      • Hi Jim, I don’t think I’ve called any evidence based-ideas a memeplex. The essay specifically identifies ‘the *social* phenomenon of CAGW’ and excludes any (genuine) climate science. Also in these comments (i hate the threading, can never find anything ): I widen this to the premise that all (genuine) science cannot be included / hi-jacked by a memeplex, because a strong connection to fact (evidence) short-circuits any potential evolution. The reason I have ‘genuine’ in brackets, is that if any science becomes biassed or outright corrupt, it is fair game for a memeplex and can get sucked in, often ending up as a vehicle to support the memeplex. From what I’ve seen of climate science over the years, there seems to be a good case for that fact that some of it is biassed. As biassed science is no longer (wholly) evidence-based, I don’t think there’s a conflict or anything you wouldn’t like (from that perspective at least). I do include religions as memeplexes, as many others have.

      • youyr pardon: ‘there seems to be a good case for that claim that some of it is biassed’

      • Jim D
        I don’t like evidence-based ideas being called a memeplex

        How about those motivated to use cherry-picked-evidence ?

    • Putting a ripple in the lines is no bad thing.

      I love Monty Python :)

  68. “The innate human tendency to soak up, trust, and internalize cultural norms causes most of us to blindly follow our perceived societal authority figures, experts, and institutions, no matter how they achieved their status. Most of us don’t have the time, inclination, or the resources to question authority because we are so busy surviving. We can only assume, or at best, hope, that they know both what is good for us, and have our optimal interests at heart.”

    ~Knutsen, Cultural Vision: A Memeplex for the Cultural Evolution

  69. @ Kent Clizbe | November 2, 2013 at 11:42 am |

    Kent – I don’t know if you’re still around, but I was thinking. It might be a game changer for all involved if the origin of memes in the black community were carried out. It might be tough to find an academic to do it since it would touch the very roots of leftism. But at any rate, I bet the findings would be mind blowing for a lot of people.

    • jim2:

      “During the ‘Dark Ages’, Christian leaders successfully suppressed modernity and science in order to preserve the status quo. Reformation of the Church, and the Enlightenment which followed as a result, catalysed a period of rapid change and advancement in Western Europe and North America, and church attendance has dropped dramatically ever since.” –

      The above read to me that a memeplex ran into science. Was dethroned. If CAGW is a memeplex, what is it doing to climate science?

      “However, moderate Muslims all over the world have resisted the autocratic and restrictive version of this (perhaps extreme) memeplex, which in turn goes a long way to explain the increasingly desperate actions of the fundamentalists.”

      Sound familiar?

      I too had wondered about applying a memeplex framework to be the honest, the Left, to be fair the Right and libertarians.

      • I’m good with a memeplex analysis of any group you can delineate. Religions of all sorts are definitely memeplexes, and ones I can’t readily go along with. CAGW is different in that it has ostensibly grown out of science. I do believe in science and really don’t like to philosophize about science. It can’t really be put into a conceptual framework, although if we reflect on the past, there have been successful strategies to delineate bits of truth. The reason you can’t put it in a box is because, by its very nature, scientists don’t know what will next confront them. For that reason, they have to be very flexible in their approach. Climate scientists have travelled down the climate model road, which is OK as long as they don’t take the results too seriously, at least until they better understand that which they wish to model. In the end, I think science will come to understand climate. It’s just that good.

      • jim2 | November 3, 2013 at 5:09 pm |

        Per above, a memeplex can’t take hold when an area of inquiry sticks firmly to the scientific method. As Jim D says, this is evidence based. But science has triggered memetic entities before, and the problem occurs when inquiry becomes biassed or flawed and strays from the scientific method in some way, or way out-front speculation ahead of provable theory somehow becomes too advertised and far too ‘certain’, in despite of real uncertainties (which are supressed). At which point a memeplex can take it and run, amplifying this situation, and perhaps having many years before experiment and consequent real facts turn up.

      • Andy West:

        Can we say the memeplex was searching for something like CO2? Something Catastrophic? Did lesser memeplexes find Y2K and 12/21/12?

      • I think ‘searching’ may be too agential a term. But there have been many climate scares in the past, and the memes hanging around that attractor never quite seem to go away. And they will certainly grab any opportunity they can get. I would definitely say CO2 was an huge opportunity that pumped this theme into a massive memeplex

      • jim2:
        “During the ‘Dark Ages’, Christian leaders successfully suppressed modernity and science in order to preserve the status quo. ”

        Yes, any government tends to suppressed modernity and science.
        And having a State Religion is quite bad in this respect.
        But also doesn’t matter much what the ideology is, having atheism as the state religion obviously wasn’t an improvement. One could argue it was much worst.
        Having the State being a religion is unproductive and destructive of freedom and prosperity.

        And government which promote/permits trade, and therefore requiring interaction and diversity of ideas will increase science, freedom, and prosperity

    • @Jim2

      The payload (meme) is there, for all to see: “America is a racist, sexist…..hellhole. And it must be changed.”

      Here’s how Muenzenberg’s cultural warfare operation worked in the racial sphere:
      “As early as the 1920′s, Münzenberg and his people recognized that the principal countermyth to the Soviet Revolution was “the idea of America” (emphasis in original). Thus, sensational events like the Sacco-Vanzetti case or the trial of the Scottsboro boys were seized upon not with a view toward establishing the innocence of the accused, but

      ” to instill a reflexive loathing of the United States and its people. . . . To undermine the myth of the Land of Opportunity, the United States would be shown as an almost insanely xenophobic place, murderously hostile to foreigners.”

      Muenzenberg created front groups that seized on the Scottsboro case to stir up racial animosity. But he created scores of other “Popular Front” organizations that fanned the flames of hatred and anti-Americanism.

      Muenzenberg’s genius (on the subject of “memes”) was his understanding of American culture–the fact that there are three main transmission belts of American culture–the media, education/academia, and Hollywood. His operation used all of these three to implant his carefully crafted “meme.” The results are seen to this day.

      In addition, the KGB ran Paul Robeson as a covert influence agent for many years. He is still regarded as saint in the “human rights” industry. His work as an influence agent created much hatred and still resonates throughout his targeted community.

      Here’s his KGB-coached responses to Congress’s requests for information about his activities on behalf of the Soviet Union. You can see a meme in the making:

      • That’s an interesting glimpse into the way propaganda works and into the anti-Communist movement, which I believe was a valid concern. But I was talking about memes in the black community now. There is no question in my mind that slavery in the US was at times brutal and an affront to everything good in human beings. It was horrible by all accounts.

        What I am interested in is current memes. And I do realize some have been propagated from the past. But current figures have kept them going and added to them for their own ends. That’s what I would like to see studied.

      • What I am interested in is current memes. And I do realize some have been propagated from the past. But current figures have kept them going and added to them for their own ends. That’s what I would like to see studied.

        Those are the current memes!

        Those are the belief system (“memeplex”???) among all segments of Politically Correct Progressives today!

        The DNA of the “America is a racist, sexist, xenophobic, imperialist, capitalist hell-hole. And it must be change.” belief system (meme) can be traced directly through the influence (meme-building) operations of 90 years ago.

        Read Paul Robeson’s (KGB-supplied) criticisms in his rants to Congressional hearings. Those are exactly the same rants that you hear today from his descendants–Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and others.

        This is not an “anti-communist” issue. This is an exploration and examination of a concerted covert influence operation designed to destroy American exceptionalism.

        Here’s a review of a book by Stephen Koch, “Double Lives,” which provided the smoking gun for my research (Muenzenberg’s wife’s quotation of the payload their operations injected into American society.) This overview may help you understand more easily than comments here.

        I’d be happy to send you a copy of my book for your review. It should provide better clarity.

        Email me:

      • Kent Clizbe – thank you for the offer. In fairness to your labor, I’ll buy one from Amazon. If I like it, I’ll buy another for my Father-in-law who once chained himself to the fence around a nuclear reactor. For even after serving in Korea, he has become steeped in all the leftist memes we have discussed here. I once asked him to look at some climate-related charts. He became agitated and said he believes what he believes and nothing will change his mind. The very same sort of attitude skeptics are accuses of harboring. I was a bit taken aback by his cement-like stance, but let it drop as he was raising his voice and was my guest. I don’t exist just to piss him off.

  70. “Large business organizations and entire industries develop and maintain their own memes.”

    “In hindsight, these memes seem obviously ridiculous, but the fact is that entire companies and industries have repeatedly succumbed to their own cultural memes. I think we’ll one day look at CAGW as being just as absurd…”

    – davidmhoffer posting over at WUWT on this topic.

    We all can come up with examples of failed companies. Many time it’s because they did not change enough or fast enough. Sometimes it is a top down problem, with everyone saying yes to those above them.

    I wonder if it would be true to say that an effective memeplex diminisher is a marketplace? That is, does the memeplex show a real dollar profit? Yes, this would seem to be limited to businesses and industries, but maybe not subsidized industries, but that’s another area.

  71. Climate Change -> CO2 -> AGW -> CAGW -> Dangerous -> Government Control of Energy Supply, where “->” stands for “recalls”.

    Energy Supply: EIA. “Total Energy – Annual Energy Review (EIA).” Governmental. U.S. Energy Information Administration, September 27, 2012.

    On the other hand, it might just be chaotic and unpredictable.

    Lorenz, Ed. “Words of Wisdom from Ed Lorenz.” Scientific. Climate Etc., October 13, 2013.

    Lorenz, Ed. “Chaos, Spontaneous Climatic Variations and Detection of the Greenhouse Effect.” Scientific. MIT, August 21, 2008.

    Reeves, Robert W. “Last Interview with Professor Edward Lorenz? – Revisiting the ‘limits of Predictability’ – Impact on the Operational and Modeling Communities?” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (October 8, 2013): 131008122348006. doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00096.1

  72. It’s a cinch that it is a religion. But Andy, why do you need 128 pages to say that?

  73. There’s definately a great deal to know about this issue.
    I like all the points you’ve made.

  74. Pingback: Global warming catastrofico: scetticismo analitico e sociologico | Climatemonitor

  75. I just managed to get through (most) of these comments, but so far, not the referred-to essay. Notions like ‘meme’, and even more so their glamorous derivatives (‘memeplex’ – wow!) are very entertaining, and have a certain allure, at least to me. Maybe as a temptation to indulge in some kind of sophisticated ad (collective) hominem mud-slinging… as in ‘you think you’re utterly rational, but you’re just the poor lunk victim of a memeplex (yah boo)’.
    However, I worry that none of the notions being paraded have any real explanatory power beyond the more basic phenomena they are constructed on. To indulge them as reality risks lacerating Occam’s chin – I can just see the blood as the razor slips (ok I know it’s not THAT kind of razor). Much enjoyable science fiction is like this – provocative and stimulating, but don’t try building the starship with any real hope of getting anywhere in it.

    Stuart B

    • sab | November 18, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Hi Stuart, admire your stamina, long ride through all these comments. I have to say though I don’t understand the nature of your argument. The essay (and to some extent the post with the summary pdf Judith links) makes clear that to accept the memeplex hypothesis is to accept the exact opposite of what you seem to imply. I.e. *if* the root cause is memetic, then it is absolutely *not* a hoax or a scam or a delusion. Nor are adherents ‘victims’, unless we are all victims, given that pretty much everyone is immersed in some memeplex or other, probably several in most cases. Far from being a (collective) ad hominem, as you put it, the essay takes pains to point out that the vast majority of CAGW adherents (as with any memeplex) are both honest and completely unimpaired in any way, and that to imply otherwise (as a minority of skeptics do), is not at all advisable imho, but anyhow not consistent with a memeplex as root cause. Of course there’s some scammers on the side (as with any large human enterprise), but as the essay makes clear such folks are in no way a root cause.

      While some memeplexes have significant downsides, and I would argue that CAGW is one such, there are *net* benefits to memeplexes as a whole, which is why we’re still co-evolving with them. Before ever the term ‘meme’ was coined, anthropologists and related fields had long known there were Darwinian qualities to cultural trends, and this spawned the whole field of ‘cultural evolution’. Within this field there are various theories spanning a range from weak Darwinian to strong Darwinian characteristics, with the absolute minimum being consistency with natural selection of homo sapiens. Memetics is from the stronger end, and most arguments against them come from the weaker end, however you don’t state *why* you think memetics has no explanatory power, so I’m unable to address that specific comment. Nor have I grasped why you think the word ‘memeplex’ is glamorous. It simply refers to a co-evolutionary population of memes. While one should not take comparisons with biology too literally, a meme is to a memeplex as a gene is to a genome, as say possessed by a population or species. Think of all the things a species is that a single gene is not; this gives some idea why a memeplex has very different characteristics to a single meme.

      There’s a vast literature on cultural evolution, and a more modest yet still sizeable one on memetics (more than I will live long enough to read!). So a great option is to read works summarizing the field, especially those with balance (arguments and experts for and against, and each with their own reasons and perspective). ‘Darwinizing Culture’ by Robert Aunger is a good one, and in conclusion doesn’t come down on either side of the fence. Darwin’s theory is 150 years old, but robust debate over fundamental characteristics still dominates the literature regarding biological evolution (e.g. in recent decades the tussle between the selfish gene emphasis and the group/multi-level evolution emphasis). Cultural evolution is younger and sub-fields like memetics younger still; we are unlikely to see any definitive answers to cultural evolutionary mechanisms in this century, if not much longer. Meanwhile, just like the proponents of evolution did for many decades before genetics was discovered, we can still get good leverage out of theories by aligning expected characteristics to the real world. My essay maps the expected touch-points of a memeplex to the *social* phenomenon of CAGW (i.e. excluding any actual climate events, or any genuine science; biased or corrupted science is of course fair game to a memeplex). If you don’t think the touch-points match, for instance, well that’d be a great reason not to agree with the hypothesis.

      • Andy, thank you for taking the time to respond to my rather lightweight comments. It is all too easy for someone in my position (ie having little to no specialist knowledge of what they’re talking about, and some to a lot of temptation to shoot their mouth off) to indulge in stream-of-consciousness pensees which just read like cheap shots. Scant reward for so much work and thought on your part…
        I will now take the time to follow your suggestions, as well as exploring your own blog, where I will reply at length as time permits.

        Prof Curry thank you for indulging this conversation, if anything transpires which seems relevant here I will see if I can report back.

        Stuart B

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  77. Pingback: The CAGW Memeplex; a cultural creature | We Are Narrative

  78. Judith, you and West play a contemptible game of ignoring the evidence as documented here:

    “Judith Curry’s cynical game: “CAGW Memeplex” ”