BPSDB Debunking the climate change Denierism nonsense that George Will writes is more akin to clubbing plush toys than an actual intellectual exercise. Shooting fish in a barrel? sure, if we’re talking about the barrel of the gun in question; easy and pointless.
George Will knows perfectly well that he is publishing nonsense about climate science, and he is going to keep right on doing it because he is paid precisely because he writes nonsense, not despite it.
The question is, what are we going to do about it?
Last winter Will stunned us when his pre-existing condition of climate change Denierism plunged to new lows. However, like the arctic sea ice minimums, it seems to have been merely a sign of an on-going precipitous decline.
For example, in July he repeated the “Global Cooling Fable“, got called on it (again), repeats it again in late September, and is corrected again. Since then we have had Seth Borenstein’s widely publicized “Independent statisticians reject ‘global cooling’ fable” accompanied by all of the other evidence that this Fable is idiotic nonsense. Will’s reaction? he merely repeats the lie again on November 7th.
In fact this most recent example is so bad that James Hrynyshyn writes:
“In an otherwise typically error-dominated Newsweek column, George F. Will spelled “minuscule” correctly. So I don’t want to read any complaints that Will gets everything wrong each time he writes about climate change.“
Another example, in addition to many other errors and fabrications in “Bad climate for global worriers“, Will repeats the “ice age scare in the 70s” meme (debunked) and the “climate science as religion” stupidity. His source for these clots of ignorance? Superfreakonomics.
The date of this assault on credulity? November 8, well after Superfreakonomics had been widely exposed as idiotic drivel. Yet his column contains not even a whiff that there may be some reason to be skeptical of the book’s so-called “facts”, much less the acknowledgement that climate scientists are divided as to whether the book is simply bad fiction or outright delusional. [aside, lovely Superfreaks bon mot here]
There are undoubtedly many more examples, but I think the pattern is clear enough.
Let’s be honest here, a lobotomized hamster set loose on a key board would get the climate change facts right more often than George Will does. This is not a matter of accident, ignorance, or a failure in fact checking; this is a deliberate misleading of the public.
Has Will learned nothing? Yes he has, he has learned he can lie with abandon and by and large he will be thanked for it. The Washington Post etc are not employing Will despite his nonsense, but rather for it. They want a propagandist, not an columnist. The only way for Will to get in trouble at the Post is if he started reporting on climate issues accurately and intelligently.
Which is not to suggest that Will is a reluctant pawn of the powers that be. Like every good Apparatchik I have no doubt he does his work with sincere dedication to the Washington Post‘s Columnist Manifesto.
The thing is, Will may be an ugly pustule of climate ignorance , but the real problem is the underlying intellectual putrification that infects the editorial and management decisions of the Washington Post and similar popular media. Even if we managed to lance Will, the pus will continue to ooze from the Post. Will is the sock puppet, not the puppeteer.
To a great extent the climate change science blogosphere operates on the implicit assumption that education is answer, if only we could get the facts out there. Trouble is, we do get the facts out there (not that they were difficult to find in the first place) and it is not winning the day.
As Pierrehumbert’s brilliant open letter to Steve Levitt documents, many people would rather travel across the continent to be misled rather than walk two blocks to get the facts. In a nutshell, the vested interests are only too happy to employ willing propagandists to write nonsense for a public, many of whom are only too eager to believe the fiction as it does not threaten their life style.
The problem is not simply a matter of more or better education, but rather economic and social in nature, ie political. The solution is necessarily economic and social, ie political. Which is not to say that on-going education via correcting Will’s and other Denier’s nonsense isn’t valuable. It is necessary, merely insufficient.
What more will be necessary? Boycotts? pressure campaigns? other? Probably all of the above and more. The relevant media will continue to spew their misinfotainment for as long as it is to their economic advantage to do so.
While I believe that this is implicitly understood throughout the climate change science blogosphere it is only rarely explicitly stated. Further, as far as I know, it is not discussed insofar as how the science blogosphere adjusts to continue it’s vital educational role while being relevant to the new reality.
Make no mistake, our role has changed, the question is how well we fulfill it. James Hansen has embraced it, or is at least exploring what that may mean. What does it mean for the rest of us? what do we need to do differently? and how do we make that happen?
And as for the Bozo the Clown’s egregious stupidity – smack him down as needed, but don’t imagine it will change anything.
“Since 1982, spring in East Asia (defined here as the eastern third of China and the Korean Peninsula) has been warming at a rate of one degree Fahrenheit per decade.” Earth Gauge
We give our consent every moment that we do not resist.
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