As you know, when it comes to facts righties operate with the mother of all double standards. A rightie can pull completely fabricated “facts” out of his (and her) ass with impunity, but if anyone they don’t like is even a tad imprecise, the Right flames it into a scandal that never dies.
So it is with “Climategate.” As you probably have heard, a few days ago more than 3,000 private emails and other documents from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) were published on the Internet, allegedly by hackers. (I read an argument yesterday that CRU wasn’t necessarily hacked, but in any event emails that were meant to be private were made public.)
By misconstruing scientific colloquialisms — for example, the use of the word “trick” — and seizing upon peer-review type criticism of a few research papers, the Right has managed to misinterpret the emails into “proof” that global climate change is not just a mistaken idea, but a deliberate hoax — a conspiracy so immense it includes most of the world’s earth scientists, including 97 percent of climatologists. Amazing.
The reason this non-scandal will not go away anytime soon is revealed in a Wall Street Journal headline: “Cap and Trade Is Dead.” In other words, vested interests are involved. Vested interests trump truth every day of the week and twice on Tuesday.
A blogger at RealClimate grumbles,
More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.
At The Guardian, George Monbiot calls on scientists to stop waiting for the screeching righties to shut up and move on to the next non-issue. Monbiot has been on the front lines battling climate-change deniers and knows how crazy — and how obsessed — they are. But, he says, it is true that a few sloppily researched papers were published that should not have been published, a point that was the topic of many of the emails. The fact that this happened is genuinely damaging. The deniers have lied with impunity for years, Monbiot says, but that is all the more reason for science to be much more careful.
Of course, in Rightieworld Monbiot’s article was interpreted to be an admission that climate change might be a hoax. Never forget that these people have the reading comprehension level of turnips.
I know it can be exhausting to deal with righties; while you are correcting one lie, they’ve thought of ten more. There is no more point in “debating” issues with them than in explaining physics to an anthill. But I think it is important to get facts out for the public record, if only because the world is full of lazy hack journalists who don’t bother to check facts, either, unless you do it for them and then rub their noses in the facts so they notice.
I also think Monbiot is right in that care must be taken not to give whackjobs any molehills they can turn into a mountain. For example, one of the several reasons I stopped giving money to the National Abortion Rights Action League several years ago, in spite of my being adamantly pro-choice, is that sometime in the mid-1990s I observed NARAL spokespeople stupidly and unnecessarily handing ammunition to the troglodytes.
This was in the 1990s, when the fetus people seized upon so-called “partial birth” abortions (more accurately called a “D&X” procedure) as an issue to crusade against. NARAL released some figures on the number of such procedures done in the U.S. each year. Unfortunately, the NARAL numbers were only of third-trimester procedures, and the spokespeople didn’t make that clear. Since D&X was mostly performed in the second trimester, the actual number of D&X procedures in total was at least three times higher (the total was between 1,500 and 3,000, depending on who you asked, so it still was a small number). Further, NARAL spokespeople said the D&X was only performed when medically necessary, which was true of third trimester procedures but not always of second-trimester procedures.
I realize the NARAL people probably were taken in by the Right’s incessant yapping about “late-term abortion” and conflation of “late-term abortion” and “partial birth abortion” to be the same thing. To most sane people, a second-trimester abortion is not late term. Still, there is no excuse for being sloppy when presenting data.
Not surprisingly, the abortion criminializers seized upon this discrepancy, and for several months after the opinion section of nearly every newspaper in America was given over to denouncements of the lies of NARAL. And it became an article of faith among “pundits” that pro-rights activists were just as likely to lie as anti-rights activists, never mind that the criminalizers couldn’t string together two truthful statements in a row if they tried. Not that they ever try. From “rapes don’t cause pregnancies” to “abortions cause breast cancer” (they don’t, btw) it would take encyclopedias to catalog all of the misinformation that has come out of the Right on abortion. But NARAL trips up just once, and we never hear the end of it.
So it is with “climategate”; we’ll never hear the end of it. Unfortunately, this will likely slow our response — already too slow — to global climate change.
Update: Talk about a tool — this guy goes on and on about the glory of truth and the wonders of science, then sides with the liars. Amazing. But to really plum the depths of this guy’s critical thinking skills, check this out:
The concept of honor comes from the base of truth and is why it is so prominent in the military and also explains why the vast majority of people in the military come from Judeo/Christian backgrounds.
Yes, in nations in which the vast majority of people are either Christian or Jewish to one degree or another, it’s a safe bet that most people in the military come from Judeo-Christian backgrounds. Hysterical. And the idea that the concept of “honor” is unique to the Abrahamic religions reveals a grotesque ignorance of other religions and cultures. (See, for example, the Code of Bushido).
The phony climategate non-scandal does reveal a divide, but it’s not so much a cultural divide as a social-psychological divide. But we’ve had this discussion before, so I’ll stop now.
Update: The Economist has a good backgrounder on the “Climategate” mess.