[LINK] Propaganda, manipulation and the abuse of media [Was: IPA, astroturfing and fantsy themes/Science under attack]

David Boxall david.boxall at hunterlink.net.au
Tue Feb 21 08:46:47 AEDT 2012

Global warming has been mentioned here previously, but I'm not sure 
whether it's on-topic for Link. Promulgation of potentially suicidal 
misinformation and abuses of media/information technology, I believe are 

On 20/02/2012 11:06 PM, Craig Sanders wrote:
> ...
> there's hundreds of billions of dollars at stake and billions being
> spent on propaganda to create Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. ...

On 21/02/2012 3:00 AM, TKoltai wrote:
 > ...
 > Ignoring for a moment, the debate of "actual" climate, change, ...
Tom; as usual, your "actual" position is unclear.
 > Regarding the scientific concerns; I would like to comment that
 > climatologists are ignoring ...
I'm quite content to acknowledge that I'm not qualified to judge the 
science itself. It seems to me that the vast majority of those who _are_ 
best qualified agree that we are at substantial risk.

Among the unqualified:
- pathologically inflated egos _believe_ they know better and;
- the mendacious _say_ they know better.

On 21/02/2012 5:56 AM, Frank O'Connor wrote:
 > ...
 > Over the last few years the attacks on science, objectivity and
 > rationality have increased ...

 From the perspective of one who has some understanding of science, the 
behaviour of the denial industry is baffling. The war against them (and 
we _are_ at war) will not be won if we don't come to grips with their 

Below is text from a response I sent to a Linker off-list:
> There's nothing terribly new or revolutionary about anthropogenic global warming. Carl Sagan warned of the potential for the Venus scenario, for example, and he died in 1996 <350orbust.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/carl-sagan-and-stephen-hawking-on-effects-of-global-warming-the-runaway-greenhouse-effect-on-venus-is-a-valuable-reminder-to-take-the-increasing-greenhouse-effect-on-earth-seriously/>. Carl is probably the best mind this planet has ever produced when it comes to understanding the dynamics of planetary atmospheres.
> What is new is the effort being put into denying the evidence. For anyone with the slightest idea of science, it's puzzling. Doubly so, considering it's potentially suicidal.
> About halfway through a book I read recently <http://booko.com.au/products/9781849713368>, is an explanation:-
> <begin scanned text>
> Oreskes and Conway (2010) also detail the support that conservative think tanks gave these scientists and ask 'What is going on?'. The link that united the tobacco industry, conservative think tanks and the scientists mentioned above is that they were implacably opposed to regulation. They saw regulation as the slippery slope to socialism. They felt that concern about environmental problems was questioning the ideology of laissez faire economics and free market fundamentalism. These conservative bodies equate the free market with liberty, so for them:
> Accepting that by-products of industrial civilization were irreparably damaging the global environment was to accept the reality of market failure. It was to acknowledge the limits of free market capitalism. ... Science was starting to show that certain kinds of liberties are not sustainable — like the liberty to pollute. (Oreskes and Conway, 2010)
> So if science impacts on their view of 'liberty', if it shows that regulation of pollution is needed, then science has to be opposed and denied. <end scanned text>
> I recommend that book, by the way. It's extensively referenced and thus a valuable resource. Another good source is <http://www.skepticalscience.com/>, but it's not as easy as a book to carry around.
> I've come to accept, however, that global warming arguments will not be won with facts. Denial has become an article of faith.
> Most of the noise is being made by those whose faith is in the market. The market, they say, will deal with any problem. Government should just get out of the way.
> For a substantial minority, however, global warming is an offence against more traditional deities. I have a deeply religious relative who makes a habit of shoving denialist (I refuse to call them sceptics) literature at me. I could shovel evidence at him and get absolutely nowhere. The way around it is to use his beliefs. I'm working on an argument along the lines that:
> - the risk is potentially diabolic;
> - what entity would be pleased by his determination to take the risk?
> - will those who insist on denying the preponderance of evidence have a place with God?
> Given that I believe in neither God nor Satan (except perhaps as aspects of ourselves), it's heavy going. Worth a try though.

The ancient Greeks pondered localised effects of human activities on 
weather. The first paper positing anthropogenic global warming was 
published in the nineteenth century. This has been a long time coming.

David Boxall                         | ignorance more frequently
                                     | begets confidence than does
http://david.boxall.id.au            | knowledge
                                     | --Charles Darwin (introduction
                                     |  to 'The Descent of Man' 1871)

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