International Journal of Inactivism (now supplanted by Decoding SwiftHack)


An angry letter, a petition, and…?

Filed under: climate conspiracy theories,Heartland 500 list,science — stepanovich @ 04:42

cite as: F. Bi. 2008. An angry letter, a petition, and…? Intl. J. Inact., 1:51–53

An angry letter…

No additional angry scientists in the Heartland 500 fiasco, but there is an angry letter to the editor on Canadian news source The Daily Observer, from one Justin Barnes. (Now that’s a good idea: Write your editor today!)

…a petition…

In somewhat (un)related news, I think I figured out the main problem is with the so-called “Oregon Petition” (which was initiated by the OISM, and currently boasts to have 31,000 signatures from inactivist scientists)1. The problem is this:

The “Oregon Petition” is unfalsifiable, untestable, unverifiable.

To show this, I’m going to make some counter-claims in response to the claims of the “Oregon Petition”:

  1. Most of the 31,000+ “signatories” of the “Oregon Petition” were in fact ripped from a totally different petition, the Mars Proclamation.
  2. The Mars Proclamation says that the greatest threat to world peace today is chocolate rain.
  3. There is currently a worldwide conspiracy to suppress all mention of the Mars Proclamation in both the media and the blogosphere.

Here is a quick test: can anyone find a name on the “Oregon Petition”, and prove — beyond reasonable doubt — that the name did not come from the Mars Proclamation? No, it is not sufficient to get a person on the list to tell us that he did sign an Oregon Petition but not a Mars Proclamation. After all, the Mars Proclamation signatory may actually be a different person who happens to have the same name, come from the same state, and have the same academic degrees.

Incidentally, this is the same standard of ‘falsification’ espoused by the “Oregon Petition” FAQ, which states

In a group of more than 30,000 people, there are many individuals with names similar or identical to other signatories, or to non-signatories – real or fictional. Opponents of the petition project sometimes use this statistical fact in efforts to discredit the project. For examples, Perry Mason and Michael Fox are scientists who have signed the petition – who happen also to have names identical to fictional or real non-scientists.

…and… ruminations on conspiracy theories?

In yet more news, All Embracing But Underwhelming says this about conspiracy theories:

[George] Case makes one of the commonest mistakes possible in respect to claiming that holders of Conspiracy Theories actually believe. Most Conspiracy Theorists about, say, 9/11, don’t hold all the different permutations. Whilst there is some common ground, mostly that they do not believe the official story about how the Twin Towers collapsed, they don’t necessarily believe that everyone thus cited for it really happening are all equally responsible. No, like protestant Christianity, there are a multiplicity of differing opinions and views.

Conspiracy Theorists really aren’t that dumb.

Well, in the case of climate conspiracy theories, it does seem that some people are this dumb: they actually promote several incompatible theories all at the same time, and even mix and stir then into new, weirder theories. And sometimes the same person has even changed his theory while nobody was looking: just look at Lindzen’s 3 conspiracy theories.


  1. Actually I prefer to call it the “Oregan [sic] Petition”.

* * *

Update 2009-07-13: Greenfyre asks, “What if the Oregon Petition names were real?” Indeed.



  1. I’ve yet to really look into the world of exciting Climate Change Conspiracy Theories or, indeed, come up with a really neat name for them), although I’m well acquainted with their relations, the Environmentalists-are-just-Communists! Conspiracy Theories (which are still alive and in print in New Zealand today). ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ is about to play here and already I’ve noticed the usual suspects touting it as the Good Science (these same touters have stopped mentioning the Heartland Institute recently and I’ve been wondering why…); there certainly seems to be the beginning of a really concerted effort to skew the debate in this country towards being pro-inactive, if not outright doubting. Whether this will be a Conspiracy… well, I don’t really know (yet).

    Comment by horansome — 2008/05/26 @ 03:15 | Reply

  2. horansome:

    “I’m well acquainted with their relations, the Environmentalists-are-just-Communists! Conspiracy Theories”

    That’s cool! Actually I’m also wondering where the whole “greenists are commies” idea came from in the first place, especially since the animosity towards the global warming theory does seem to be motivated partly by hatred towards environmentalism in general.

    “(these same touters have stopped mentioning the Heartland Institute recently and I’ve been wondering why…)”

    Tee-hee. 🙂

    Comment by frankbi — 2008/05/26 @ 04:54 | Reply

  3. Well, part of it purely psychological, I think. If we were to (the gods forbid) actually act upon the ruminations of Climate Change Scientists, then (the horror) we might have to petition the Government(s) to do something and that is tantamount to admitting that there is something to socialism after all.

    Socialism = Murder!

    (Which could be seen as a simplification of what they think but I’m actually not sure that their motivations are any more complex than that…)

    Comment by horansome — 2008/05/26 @ 05:15 | Reply

  4. I don’t know… I’d hesitate to guess at the precise nature of the “greenists are commies” meme when it first came out. I’m sure someone has looked at this before; now I just need to conjure up some Copious Spare Time and free ponies in order to find out…

    Comment by frankbi — 2008/05/26 @ 13:00 | Reply

  5. I think the meme probably goes back a long way- after all, I’m pretty sure there were left wing environmentalists in Germany back in the 60’s. Then the simple fact remains that many greenies are of a more “left wing” persuasion than the market worshippers, and their friends, the “I can do anything I want” crowd.

    Meanwhile, I persist in pointing out to them that if the evil greenies want to take us back to the stone age (Something there is no evidence for anyone wanting to do), that is incompatible with them being communist, because anyone whose actually read the communist manifesto will see that its about being industrialised in the first place.

    Comment by guthrie — 2008/05/26 @ 22:52 | Reply

  6. I know what you mean (about the ponies; I need me some ponies). You’ve given me an idea which I’ve begun writing up. It’s a distinction between Folk Psychology and what I am now calling Petty Psychology. Hopefully it’ll be all typed up by Thursday (New Zealand time) and posted on the blog.

    Comment by horansome — 2008/05/26 @ 23:54 | Reply

  7. guthrie:

    To be fair, the folks who “greenies want us to go back to the Stone Age” seem to be just the troll commenters, not the professional-looking inactivists.


    Petty Psychology? Sounds like it might be interesting.

    Comment by frankbi — 2008/05/27 @ 12:24 | Reply

  8. […] information for the conference, there’s a 20% registration fee discount for signers of the “Oregon Petition”. I still can’t tell what Heartland’s trying to achieve with this […]

    Pingback by Sponsorship, my friends « International Journal of Inactivism — 2008/10/14 @ 19:18 | Reply

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