Michael Moore for Dummies
Guest post by Rod McLaughlin
Unlike many readers of this site, I have environmentalist sympathies. I think green anarchist turned film-maker Craig Rosebraugh once did some good. When he organized the “Liberation Collective” in old town Portland, or organized protests against police excesses, he was doing something useful. When he was a spokesman for extreme environmentalists, this was not “eco-terrorism”. Burning down an empty building in the middle of the night is not terrorism: it doesn’t terrorize anyone.
The only genuine eco-terrorist is Ted Kaczynski, the “Unabomber”. One of the most effective bits of Rosebraugh’s new documentary, “Greedy Lying Bastards”, is when it shows a billboard put up by the skeptic Heartland Institute, with a picture of Kaczynski, and the legend “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”. But Heartland’s idiotic mistake has nothing to do with the facts of global warming. It doesn’t show that the medieval warming period didn’t happen. It doesn’t prove that the warming in the last century was unprecedented and man-made.
Rosebraugh is shameless in using guilt by association. He tries to give the impression that global warming “deniers” tend to be American knuckledraggers, ignoring sane, smart people around the world who doubt the global warming hysteria. For example, he forgets to tell us that the three most prominent Canadian skeptics boycotted Heartland because of the above-mentioned own goal.
Left-wing American documentaries, like this one, or Michael Moore’s, or one I saw about the evils of Walmart, tend to insult the viewer by bombarding her with one side of the story, and words like “lying”, “greedy” and “bastards”. Watching Rosebraugh’s movie, every time the narrator said that there is lying and greed on the skeptic side of the debate, I wondered whether he’d consider if these vices occur among the promoters of climate change “theory”. He did not.
Unflattering shots of one’s opponents, selective information about funding, tear-jerking anecdotes about sea level rise, and shots of hurricanes and fires, with no statistical analysis to show if these events really did increase during the 20th century. All this Rosebraugh learned from Michael Moore, who has been criticized for “dumbing down the left”. Rosebraugh does the same with environmentalism.
To be fair, Rosebraugh did mention billionaire George Soros funding warm-mongering organizations, as well as the mega-rich Koch brothers backing “climate change deniers”, but only in passing.
It doesn’t matter if the CEO of Exxon says global warming is not unprecedented and anthropogenic, because it’s in his company’s interests. This has no bearing at all on whether or not it’s true. It’s the old “self-serving argument” fallacy. Just about any argument and its opposite serves someone: you have to figure out whether it’s right or wrong independently of interests.
Rosebraugh chooses the most plausible-sounding defenders, and implausible critics, of the anthropogenic global warming position. Worse, he almost avoids citing any of the numerous scientifically-trained skeptics. An honest approach would be to interview Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKittrick, who first broke Michael Mann’s “hockey stick”. Or Joanne Nova, or Anthony Watts, the creator of Watts Up With That. Or Judith Curry, a scientist of whom Michael Mann revealingly wrote “I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing, but its not helping the cause”. Skeptical professor Richard Lindzen does appear, but not for long enough to explain his rejection of climate change hysteria.
For his leading climate skeptic, Rosebraugh chooses Christopher Monckton, who, by carefully selecting from his presentations carefully, is made to look like a nut. In reality, he’s merely eccentric. If you read his stuff, Monckton has a grasp of logic unheard of among warm-mongers, misanthropists and fluffies. Rosebraugh tries to refute Monckton’s views on the grounds that he isn’t “a scientist”. This is a variant of the logical fallacy of “argument from authority”.
This implies that you must accept what scientists say. So what do you do when they disagree? Two giants of science, Richard Dawkins and Edward Wilson, recently had a debate about kin selection theory. Dawkins used the number of scientists who support him as an argument. Wilson showed no mercy: “It should be born in mind that if science depended on rhetoric and polls, we would still be burning objects with phlogiston and navigating with geocentric maps.”
I’m not a scientist either, but I understand logic, and the work of Karl Popper on scientific method. I know that ad hominem, post hoc ergo propter hoc, ad populam, and ad verecundiam arguments have no validity.
I first became a skeptic when I read climate “scientists” using the word “consensus”. Anyone with even a cursory familiarity with scientific method knows that that word is not in a scientist’s vocabulary.
In contrast, the argument of Rosebraugh’s documentary, like the global warming movement in general, relies on “scientific concensus”. It can therefore be dismissed out of hand.
Rosebraugh deals with the “Climategate” revelations of 2009 as follows:
· he presents the scandal as a conspiracy to derail the Copenhagen climate talks
· he claims, without evidence, that the emails were “stolen” from the CRU in East Anglia
· he uncritically accepts Michael Mann’s assurance that the emails were quoted “out of context”
· he fails to mention that all the emails are online, so we can judge if phrases like “Hide the decline”, “Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith?”, “Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same?” and “We have to get rid of the medieval warming period” are less damning in context – they aren’t
· he claims that the various inquiries exonerated the warmists, without saying how
Another technique he borrows from Michael Moore, is showing crowds of conservatives waving flags, wearing garish outfits, and holding up signs with ridiculously exaggerated warnings about Obama introducing communism. And rejecting climate change panic. The implication is, if you disbelieve in anthropogenic global warming, next thing, you’ll be in favor of waterboarding.
- Movie review: “Greedy Lying Bastards” a global warming documentary with sobering evidence (denverpost.com)
- Greedy Lying Bastards (powerlineblog.com)
- ‘Greedy Lying Bastards’ film uses a fake cover photo, recycled PR from 2005, cites opinion of a ‘truther’, is directed by a former ELF spokeman and uses a big dose of hate to make its point (wattsupwiththat.com)