However, once you get people believing in “authority,” then you’re pretty much home and dry. Authority relieves us of the anxiety of uncertainty and the pain of thought. If the issue can also be portrayed as “moral” (millions of poor people dying from biblical droughts and floods!) then to question it is not merely cause for rejection but censure. Skeptics must be either crackpots or in the pay of Big Oil or Big Coal.

I recently had what I tried to make a level-headed exchange with somebody who was visibly agitated at my daring to quote science, facts and sources. This person — dredging up material from the conventional noosphere — finally told me that I was like “a holocaust denier,” or somebody who believed in UFOs! Their conviction, like the Walrus correspondent, was based on the fact that “Nobel prize winners” had declared that catastrophic global warming was a fact.

Now it’s certainly true that Al Gore has a Nobel, but it is equally certain that it isn’t for science.