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Global Warming: A Case Study in Groupthink–Booker

February 26, 2018

By Paul Homewood



Christopher Booker summarises his new paper for the GWPF, Global Warming: A Case Study in Groupthink:


Christopher Booker

As it is now 30 years since the great alarm over global warming first burst onto the world, it might seem hard to believe that science could now come up with anything that would enable us to see this story in a wholly new light. But that is what I am suggesting in a paper I launched last week in the House of Lords, drawing on the remarkable insights of a book published by Irving Janis, a professor of psychology at Yale, more than 40 years ago.

The purpose of my paper is to look at the whole global warming story afresh in light of the three scientific rules Janis came up with to describe what happens to people when they are carried away by what he called “groupthink”. Rule one is that a group of people come to share a view of the world that is not properly based on reality and from looking at all the evidence. It is just an untested belief.

Rule two is that, because they have shut their minds to any evidence which might contradict their belief, they insist that it is supported by a “consensus”. They cannot accept that anyone should question it. Rule three is that anyone holding a contrary view must thus be dismissed as not worth listening to.

My paper reviews the warming story as a perfect case-study in the operation of those rules. It began in 1988 when a tiny group of meteorologists, already convinced that the world was catastrophically warming because of rising man-made CO2, set up the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Although this purportedly represented the verdict of the world’s top climate scientists, it was never anything of the kind. In fact, many scientists were highly sceptical. Richard Lindzen, the eminent physicist, described the IPCC’s models as being so obsessively focused on CO2 that they failed to allow for all the other natural factors that shape the earth’s climate.

But almost immediately the theory was being hailed as a “consensus”, accepted by the entire scientific establishment, the media and, above all, the politicians. Any dissenters were derided. And for a while, as temperatures continued to rise, the theory did indeed seem plausible. The “consensus” carried all before it: to the point where, by 2006, anyone still daring to question it was being scorned by the groupthink as just a “denier”, the moral equivalent of those who denied the reality of the Nazi Holocaust.

But then the groupthink began to be put to the test. It had become obvious that global temperatures were no longer rising as the IPCC models had predicted. Expert blogs appeared, demonstrating how one “consensus” claim after another was being flatly contradicted by what was happening in the real world. In 2009 came those damaging “Climategate” emails between the handful of scientists at the heart of the IPCC, exemplifying all Janis’s rules. The UN’s great climate conference in Copenhagen collapsed in disarray, followed by even more damaging reports that the scariest predictions in the latest IPCC report were not based on science at all, but only on propagandist claims by climate activists.

Finally, with yet another UN conference in Paris in 2015 came what I describe as the crux of the whole story. Documents supplied by every country setting out their intended energy plans up to 2030 showed that, although Western countries pledged to cut their “carbon” emissions by 40 per cent, the rest of the world had totally different ideas. China, now the world’s largest CO2 emitter, planned to build so many new coal-fired power stations that, by 2030, its emissions will have doubled. India, the third largest emitter, planned to triple them. Altogether global emissions by 2030 were set to rise by a staggering 46 per cent. Not one Western leader mentioned all this until 2017, when President Trump gave it as his reason for pulling the US out of that meaningless “Paris Accord”. He was finally calling the bluff of the groupthink, which for 30 years had driven the whole global warming scare story.

If other Western countries wished to commit economic suicide, so be it. But the rest of the world is no longer listening.

Christopher Booker’s Global Warming: A Case Study in Groupthink is published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

  1. Broadlands permalink
    February 26, 2018 2:37 pm

    Recalling what NCAR scientist Stephen Schneider once wrote:

    “As scientists, we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but…which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists, but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” 

    Why did “group think” change from global cooling to warming?

    • A C Osborn permalink
      February 26, 2018 4:44 pm

      Because the temperatures stopped going down and started going up.

    • Paddy permalink
      February 27, 2018 7:26 am

      Perhaps the answer is here

  2. Tom Dowter permalink
    February 26, 2018 2:46 pm

    I have always believed that groupthink, confirmation bias and lack of self criticism have always been more important than any outright dishonesty in climate science.

    It is a long time ago now, but nothing illustrates this better than Phil Jones’ “hide the decline”. It is one of the most important rules in constructing time-series that one should never splice such series based on different data sources unless:

    a) There is a long period of overlap between the two series, and

    b) The series are in pretty good agreement over the whole of that period.

    Jones ignored (b) completely. This is not the sort of behavior that one should expect from the professor at a British university. Inevitably, it damages his credibility and that of CRU, the UEA and the WMOP who, published his work.

    • dave permalink
      February 26, 2018 3:00 pm

      “But the rest of the world is no longer listening.”

      Was it ever listening?


      “But bad things, if once they stick in the mind, it is wonderful to tell how hardly they can be torn out.”


  3. February 26, 2018 3:54 pm

    Groupthink indeed. These people are supposed to be at least partly immune to Groupthink – aren’t they trained scientists? And isn’t groupthink usually applied to groups like management or government groups? Sad that the standards in a field of science have fallen this low.

  4. February 26, 2018 4:25 pm

    The tenets of the Scientific Method, which has been around since Aristotle and refined by Francis Bacon and Descartes. They have been thrown out in favor of ruling the world and the people thereof through chicanery.

    I learned them in junior high. They governed my research and writing for both my MA thesis and PhD dissertation. It is appalling to see today’s so-called “scientists” ignore them while screaming “science denier” in my face.

    • HotScot permalink
      February 27, 2018 12:42 am


      So there is a good reason for me not being a scientist. They can scream ‘science denier’ at me all they want, I know nothing of the subject and simply trundle on with a smattering of common sense which, it seems, isn’t very common.


  5. Jack Broughton permalink
    February 26, 2018 4:34 pm

    This theme of explaining why the believers twist scientific methods to support their beliefs has been a theme on some of Ron Clutz’ posts recently. Basically, it is the power of an often small-numbered strong consensus of beliefs to refute any contrary evidence and gang-up to stop any opposition that second-rate scientists and politicians hide behind (see also Goebbels). Very like the bullying described by Joan.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      February 26, 2018 4:47 pm

      Except it is powered by a thirst for CASH.
      Apparently an Ausy Professor Blaker has brought in over $100M to his Uni.
      Not bad if you can get it.

    • HotScot permalink
      February 27, 2018 12:56 am


      We are a western world ruled by minority groups, and political correctness, designed to give the minority groups a louder voice.

      The majority voice is suppressed by a guilt complex, created by minority groups. I can’t utter the ‘N’ word even in context. I can’t refer to Pakistanis by any shortened term, but as a white, Anglo Saxon, Protestant, elder, bald, fat, Scottish male, there is no problem with society referring to me as a sweaty sock.

      Strange though. As I live in England I enjoy the banter. I guess it’s my PC lines that are crossed, I should be offended, but I’m not.

  6. Andrew permalink
    February 26, 2018 4:53 pm

    So the scientists at the centre really do believe in it. I wonder how many of them there are and how many more realise it’s nonsense and conform to keep their grant/job/etc. But then we come to the politicians who have jumped on board. Certainly in the UK it’s difficult to find any that will speak out against the groupthink. The climate change act was passed with only five MPs voting against it. Clearly we are all doomed not by AGW but by clueless politicians.

  7. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 26, 2018 7:33 pm

    The comments on the DT by the likes of Stephen Orme are gob-smacking. I didn’t think neanderthals like him still argued the same tired old memes. And the abuse goes back to the days 10 years ago when the trolls would come out in force against Booker. The quality of the comments is rubbish now. Sadly, not worth reading them now yet, once upon a time it was a Sunday well spent having a debate.

  8. Stonyground permalink
    February 26, 2018 7:34 pm

    Part of the problem is that so much money and resources have been sunk into “Combating Climate Change” that non of the alarmists can now admit that they have made a huge mistake. The problem for them is that reality will have to catch up with them eventually and the longer it goes on the worse it will be for them.

  9. Athelstan permalink
    February 26, 2018 10:19 pm

    “If other Western countries wished to commit economic suicide, so be it. But the rest of the world is no longer listening.”

    Britain, could CB be possibly thinking of these septic isles – a tad?

    ah………Mr. Booker, if I may just add “Unilateral” to ‘ economic suicide’ and Theresa the terrible and her cabinet of green muppets Claire Perry green loon nonpareil, is leading us down there, all the way down to economic suicide and the green hell and all of that political purblind obstinacy aka UK energy policy. If comrade corbyn the moron is ever elected, we’ll just get to green hell more quickly. Either or, it’s a losers cop for all and race to the bottom.

    China, Germany, India, Japan the USA just laugh.

  10. thedude permalink
    February 26, 2018 11:19 pm

    I recommend reading the whole paper. It’s an easy read and I find it extremely interesting.

    Click to access Groupthink.pdf

  11. February 26, 2018 11:40 pm

    Group think leads to circular reasoning

  12. Europeanonion permalink
    February 27, 2018 9:56 am

    Global Warming has a great similarity with phlogiston, in that in the absence of any demonstration of any other theory it has to be the one that is believable. The second element is that it deals in terms which have no expectation of the believer having to wrestle with new terminology or research, which makes the matter easily acceptable without reading or enquiring and can be dealt with by the host as a purely emotional issue.Thirdly, it holds industry accountable for the perceived infraction leaving the issue open to anti-capitalists who may have no interest, per se, in climate but can use the matter as a lever for socialist contrivances going back to capital and labour and the even more alluring prospect that the whole thing would be solved by a world government.

  13. andrewa permalink
    February 27, 2018 10:10 am

    The reason they changed the name from ” global warming” to ” climate change” is the facts show that the climate is in fact NOT warming.

  14. Jack Broughton permalink
    February 27, 2018 10:17 am

    I like the analogy with phlogiston: a hypothesis that could not be proved or disproved at the time of its inception and was held onto even when the evidence was against it. However, surely the similarity with religions is greater: the adherents require that everyone follows their god (the god of AGW) and the cause is so noble that all opposition must be stopped (most UK meja outlets etc). They have achieved similar success unfortunately for us all.

  15. David permalink
    February 28, 2018 9:11 pm

    Firstly the warming is minimal and second, the co2 increase will correct itself by increased vegitation in the world. Meantime the actual level in the atmosphere will increase somewhat whilst the co2 passes through the atmosphere.

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