• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 11 comments on Lee McIntyre: How to Talk to a Science Denier

  1. And articles/books like THIS are exactly why BU has lost its way .. the university is AWESOME for all the progressive, more government is the solution to everything set (who, perhaps should be called ‘the Kool Aid chuggers’ if we’re going to refer to those not chugging the Kool Aid as ‘science deniers’) .. but it’s then hopelessly LOST to us science deniers who simply ask questions like ‘what should the climate look like at this point?’, or ‘why do masks seem important to our political class only when the cameras are on, and immediately removed when they’re off?’, or ‘why isn’t natural immunity being given any oxygen in the great debate?’, and ‘how does getting vaccinated but then still being required to wear a mask incentivize ANYONE to get vaccinated?’, or ‘how come you would keep a world CLOSED when you’ve got a virus that’s about 99.7% survivable?’ … these are ACTUALLY scientific questions that NOBODY wants to take on, because the answers don’t fit the narrative of ‘a governmental solution for everything’

    Fwiw, I’m a covid surviving, double vaccinated, individual who lost an elderly in-law to the virus, so don’t even bother with the ‘you really don’t understand’ nonsense .. cause I really DO!

    Good luck on the path to nowhere!


  2. I find the best way to talk to a science denier or flat Earther is to put the burden of proof on them. I find that many flat Earthers are just trolling. The way you can tell is by offering a monetary challenge to see if they are trolling or not. For example I offer a monetary challenge for flat Earthers to explain a lunar eclipse or moon phases on the flat Earth model. If they refuse then they are just trolling. A truth seeker who believes in their claims will take my challenges with willing enthusiasm.

  3. I really don’t know what to think about it. It’s amazing how much money the USA invests on Science and its own population seems to be against it. I hope the Dark Ages won’t be globalized as well.

  4. Can you explain?
    1. The earth radiation of energy is in a bell curve maximum around 10 microns.
    2. CO2 has only three absorption bands, only 1 with effect in the earths emission range, to wit, at 14 to 16 microns.
    3. NASA satellite data shows no earth energy loss in this band.
    Thus, more CO2 can have no effect on global warming.

    I await a response
    Bob Hisey

    1. 1. While Earth’s outgoing heat radiation is (only approximately) a bell shaped curve there is also the incoming radiation from the sun. The temperature on Earth is a result of a complex interplay of radiation incoming from the sun, radiation emitted from Earth’s surface and atmospheric (re-)absorption and (re-)emission in between. It occurs across all wavelength and while some portion of the spectrum are more important than other parts, it would be too simplistic to focus only on (the neighborhood of) a single wave length like the maximum of the emission spectrum of Earth’s surface.

      2. The total amount of the greenhouse effect proposed in elementary form for the first time in 1824 by physicist Joseph Fourier is today estimated to increase the average temperature of -18 °C, that an Earth without atmosphere is calculated to have, to +15 °C that we observe on our Earth with atmosphere. About 60% of these 33 °C difference are attributed to H2O which has much more significant absorption bands than CO2 and which makes up 0.25% of the atmosphere’s mass with great local variance. CO2 absorption per same amount as H2O is roughly over the whole spectrum indeed reduced compared to H2O and CO2 makes up only 0.04% of the number of atmosphere’s molecules, but since CO2 is much more evenly spread out than H2O complex models show that CO2 is accountable for 26% of the 33 °C greenhouse effect.

      3. In effect Earth looses a tremendous amount of heat at each moment due to radiation, but at the same time also gains a lot of heat from the influx of solar radiation. The important quantity is not the net outflux but the balance between in- and outflux. With constant atmospheric composition over time this balance becomes indeed 0 when reaching a certain average equilibrium temperature. But after changing the atmosphere’s composition there is a time frame with an (on global scale minute) imbalance, which changes the equilibrium temperature and also changes the gain through the greenhouse effect until the balance of in- and outflux reaches 0 again. So with the atmosphere as composed in 1800 the balance of 0 heat flux was at an average equilibrium temperature of 14 °C where the greenhouse effect accounted for 32 °C above the modeled -18 °C of Earth without atmosphere. With today’s 2023 atmosphere the balance of in- and outflux is still quite close to 0 but with an average equilibrium temperature of 15 °C.

      Thus the emission of man-made greenhouse gases, of which CO2 is only the most important one, accounts for an increase of the natural greenhouse effect of 32 °C by about 1 °C. Emitting even more CO2 is based on these scientific theories and facts going to increase that man-made contribution even further.

      Thomas Preu

  5. Space is supposedly a vacuum. Earth is a pressure system. There is no physical barrier between the two. No experiment EVER has created a pressure system existing within a vacuum without a physical barrier. Welcome to ball earth religion.

    1. This is a great question to ask about the Earth, Dave! :) We obviously experience pressure from the atmosphere; but we exist in the vacuum of space, with seemingly no physical barrier between the two. How could this be possible? Wouldn’t the pressure want to equalize with the vacuum of space and dissipate, turning the Earth into a vacuum?

      I think the best way to understand this is to ask–what *is* a barrier? Intuitively, it’s a wall between two things, be it different pressure systems, environments, etc. But…what makes a barrier a barrier? Imagine a real pressure system in a closed environment, surrounded by a vacuum. How does the barrier stop the pressure from evacuating? Well, the particles in the pressure system want to get out, so they throw themselves at the barrier. But they can’t get out, because the barrier can exert an equal an opposite force on those particles, sending them flying away. Just like when you bounce a ball off of a wall here on Earth!

      So, does a barrier need to be a physical wall? Well, not necessarily, right? Imagine a huge network of fans all blowing in one direction. If you threw a ball at them, it would slow down and bounce back at you, just like if it hit a wall. The air from the fans here is acting as a barrier by creating a force flowing in the opposite direction of any particle trying to cross the barrier–without any physical object in the way! (Imagine the ball would never reach the fans, no matter how hard you throw it. Then the fans are not the barrier but are in fact on the other side of it)

      Well, now we know that a barrier doesn’t have to be a physical wall–it just needs to provide an opposing force to something trying to cross it. Is there anything in the Earth system that would do that? Actually, it turns out yes! Gravity itself is an everpresent force that pulls on any particles trying to exit into the vacuum of space. As we know, the strength of the gravitational force varies with distance (F = -GMm/r^2), so as you get farther from the planet, the force weakens, and particles can escape into vacuum. But too close, and you won’t be able to escape the Earth’s gravity, so you stay trapped, unable to enter the vacuum. These particles that can’t escape are our atmosphere–bounded by the barrier of the gravitational force.

  6. You forgot the biggest tip- Assume there’s a decent chance the person is just yanking your chain with the stuff or otherwise looking to wind you up and not take it too seriously.

    Don’t be that guy who goes “You know pro wrestling is fake, right???” Because if someone told me that, I would immediately pretend I thought it was real and spend the next hour completely winding them up.

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