Or, should I say, anti-climate denial school. We’d all signed up for Denial101x, a new, six-week MOOC (that’s “massive open online course,” for all you education luddites) aimed at making sense of this whole phenomenon — and at giving us the tools to fight deniers, so that we can all get on with fighting climate change itself.
Our professor is John Cook, the Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and the founder of Skeptical Science, which over the past two years has been an invaluable resource for me, a newbie debunker of deniers.
Of course, there’s always more to learn. As a student, Cook told me via email, I can expect to leave the course with “a better understanding what’s happening to our climate, able to identify the techniques used to distort the science and be able to debunk misinformation.” That’s a great thing for a climate blogger, as well as — and this is really the point — for any concerned citizen of the world who wants to understand the truth about climate science for themselves.
The course doesn’t waste time wringing its hands over whether or not to call deniers “deniers” — a true skeptic, Cook explains in his welcome video, “doesn’t come to a conclusion until they’ve considered the evidence,” while “someone who denies well-established science comes to a conclusion first, and then discounts any evidence that conflicts with their beliefs.” But it is interested in why climate deniers believe the things they do. That’s because in order to effectively debunk climate denier myths, Cook told me, it’s important first to understand the psychology behind them — and to understand how and why they’re so good at casting doubt on the scientific consensus.