International Journal of Inactivism (now supplanted by Decoding SwiftHack)

2008/05/18

Worldwide climate crank journamalism

cite as: F. Bi. 2008. Worldwide climate crank journamalism. Intl. J. Inact., 1:45–47

In Wisconsin

The “Heartland 500” list gets a mention in Wisconsin’s media! Unfortunately the article got the list confused with another list (probably the list of Manhattan Declaration signatories). I’ve e-mailed the author about this, and he’s replied, but I don’t see any sort of correction yet.

In the Philippines

Via one Agnes: a biology professor shows his critical thinking ability… by mindlessly regurgitating the same old talking point about the 9 errors in Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. As always, he didn’t mention that the errors are minor and AIT was judged broadly accurate.

In Australia

And finally, via Deltoid: Prof. Don Aitkin suggests that all sorts of forces are conspiring to make global warming the “orthodoxy”:

In the 20 years that have followed, of course, the issue of climate change has become highly public. The environmental movement has taken it up, and it gets some of its passion, I think, from what I would call a quasi-religious fervour. If it is true that human societies always need a religion, then in secular Australia one of the new ones is environmentalism. Green politics have become important, too, and there is little doubt that Green support and Green preferences helped the ALP to victory last year. The media liked global warming too: it produces almost daily scare stories, as yet another scientist or group produces a new paper warning of another possible catastrophe. In short, global warming is orthodoxy.

Aitkin however doesn’t bother to tell us what he thinks is causing scientists to warn about warming. Are they coerced by nefarious forces, or are they incentivized by nefarious forces, or are they the nefarious forces spreading doom and gloom?1 Aitkin simply avoids the question — he just suggests there’s some sort of conspiracy, without saying what this conspiracy is. I guess this sort of makes his account ‘sound’ more ‘reasonable’, even if it’s actually more devoid of content and will make you more stupid.

I’m reminded of the following passage in Jorge Luis Borges’s Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius :

Algunos rasgos increíbles del Onceno Tomo (verbigracia, la multiplicación de los hrönir) han sido eliminados o atenuados en el ejemplar de Memphis; es razonable imaginar que esas tachaduras obedecen al plan de exhibir un mundo que no sea demasiado incompatible con el mundo real.

[Some of the incredible aspects of the Eleventh Volume (for example, the multiplication of the hrönir) have been eliminated or attenuated in the Memphis copies; it is reasonable to imagine that these omissions follow the plan of exhibiting a world which is not too incompatible with the real world.]

In the same way, Aitkin’s presenting a sort of bland, ‘lowest-common-denominator’ form of global warming skepticism which isn’t too incompatible with most people’s worldviews. And to do this, he simply omits the more objectionable bits of inactivist garbage.

(Indeed, this sort of thing is par for the course when it comes to inactivist memes. Memes which sound good are vigorously propagated, while memes which don’t resonate with people — for whatever reason — are simply jettisoned and forgotten, with no apology or retraction or whatever. (How many times have you been hearing about Singer’s “New World Order” conspiracy theory lately?) Aitkin arguably simply sped up this process to its logical conclusion.)

Footnote

  1. These, as you might recall, are the 3 conspiracy theories proposed by Lindzen in 1992, 1996, and 2006 respectively.
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