The sanctioned punishment of climate skeptics becomes more than just a few aberrant ideas, and is following some historical parallels
First, I loathe having to write essays like this, but I think it is necessary given the hostile social climate now seen to be emerging.
Yesterday, WUWT highlighted the NYT cartoon depicting killing “deniers” for having a different opinion, today I want to highlight Naomi Orekses and Suzanne Goldenberg, who seem seem to like the idea of having climate “deniers” arrested under RICO act for thought collusion, all under the approving eye of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard.
Watch the video: The RICO quote is about 1:12:30 in the video. Note that none of the panelists blinks an eye at the suggestion. They are all smiling after Oreskes finishes.
From the description of the video:
The science is clear: drastic global climate change due to human activities threatens our planet. Yet, a well-funded international campaign continues to deny the scientific consensus, foment public doubt and oppose action. The media—especially social media—have helped fuel false controversy and climate skepticism. How can climate change communication be improved?
Panel discussion with:
Suzanne Goldberg, U.S. Environment Correspondent, The Guardian
Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
Dr. Peter Frumhoff, Director of Science & Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists
Cristine Russell, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs’ Environment and Natural Resources Program
Henry Lee, Director, Belfer Center’s Environment and Natural Resources Program
February 13, 2014
Of course, no prominent climate skeptics were invited to give a counterpoint, though WUWT does make an appearance.
An actual quote from Goldenberg in the video at 2:50
“I don’t know what CAGW was”
This makes me wonder just how competent she is to write about the topic. The irony is completed full circle though. At 2:20 she claims WUWT “actually isn’t about science” while our “best science blog” banners are projected near her head and while highlighting Justin Gillis, tell us again about “the Bigger Picture” (an opinion piece) and A relationship between Sea Ice Anomalies, SSTs, and the ENSO? (a science piece).
At least we know they are reading WUWT.
Goldenberg won’t cover the topics we cover, simply because she isn’t capable and is in the employ of a newspaper (the Guardian) with a clear goal to push only one viewpoint about climate. And, her objectivity, now that she runs in this circle of friends, is blown out of the water.
Oreskes, who authored the book Merchants of Doubt, seems to think that climate skeptics are little more than paid shills, deserving of criminal status, while Goldenberg works tirelessly to create strawmen houses out of the thinnest of research, which she publishes in the Guardian. She also follows the Oreskes mindset in thinking that we all must be on somebody’s payroll and that we are all part of a “secret network” of well funded climate resistance.
Lately, this sort of hateful and distorted thinking is getting a bit worrisome as statistician William Briggs observes:
RICO-style prosecution. For what tangible crime? Well, heresy.
(Has to be heresy. The amount of money I have extorted from my skepticism hovers between nada and nil.)
This put me in mind of a passage from from Dawn to Decadence by the indispensable Jacques Barzun (pp 271-272):
The smallest divergence from the absolute is grave error and wickedness. From there it is a short step to declaring war on the misbelievers. When faith is both intellectual and visceral, the overwhelming justification is that heresy imperils other souls. If the erring sheep will not recant, he or she becomes a source of error in others….[P]ersecution is a health measure that stops the spread of an infectious disease—all the more necessary that souls matter more than bodies.
Even though not all admit this, their actions prove that souls are more important than bodies. Thought crimes are in many senses worse than physical crimes; they excite more comment and are more difficult to be forgiven for. Perhaps the worst crime is to be accused of racism (the charges needn’t be, and frequently are not, true; the accusation makes the charge true enough). It is now a thought crime to speak out against sodomy (and to say you personally are a participant is a matter of media celebration).
Barzun said that sins against political correctness “so far” have only been punished by “opprobrium, loss of employment, and virtual exclusion from the profession.” (I can confirm these.) Barzun said, “any form of persecution implies an amazing belief in the power of ideas, indeed of mere words casually spoken.”
The Enlightened, who simper when calling each other “free thinkers”, in one of their favorite myths tell us how they left the crime of heresy behind. The word has been forgotten, maybe, but not the idea.
Stalin sent his victims to the firing squad for the crime of “counter-revolution”, not heresy. Being repulsed by sodomy is not heresy, it is “homophobic”. Believing in God and practicing that belief is not heresy, but “fundamentalism.” Cautioning that affirmative action may cause the pains the program is meant to alleviate isn’t heresy, but “racism.” Saying that unskillful Climate models which routinely bust their predictions should not be trusted is not heresy, but is “anti-science.”
Boy, has Science come up in the world to be a personage one can sin against.
Some commentators on WUWT have likened this little scene to Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda in the 1930s, and I’m inclined to agree. There’s a pertinent article, called “Defining the Enemy” on the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
One crucial factor in creating a cohesive group is to define who is excluded from membership. Nazi propagandists contributed to the regime’s policies by publicly identifying groups for exclusion, inciting hatred or cultivating indifference, and justifying their pariah status to the populace.
There’s a picture you can find online of the “stereotypical Jew”, which was drawn by Nazi cartoonist Philipp “Fips” Rupprecht and published in the newspaper Der Stürmer sometime before the end of World War II. Although different in some respects to the “stereotypical Denier” in the NYT, there are a number of similarities. Both subjects are male, well-dressed, rather plump and well-fed and standing with their chests slightly thrust out. Both have distinctive noses – the Jew has a large hooked nose and the Denier has one that is more reminiscent of a pig’s snout. Both are smoking a cigar, which is clearly the mark of an evil plutocrat anywhere, Jewish or otherwise. The similarities are quite unsettling.
Indeed, they are, and worse yet, few if any, in the general science community seem to have the courage to stand up and say anything about these people and the actions they do and/or suggest as being inappropriate or antithetical to science.
Roy Spencer is the exception for scientists who have decided to speak out against this hate and smear, and has decided to fight back by labeling anyone who calls him a “climate denier” as a “climate Nazi”. I’m not sure how effective or useful that will be, but clearly he’s reached a tipping point. He adds:
A couple people in comments have questioned my use of “Nazi”, which might be considered over the top. Considering the fact that these people are supporting policies that will kill far more people than the Nazis ever did — all in the name of what they consider to be a righteous cause — I think it is very appropriate. Again, I didn’t start the name-calling.
The parallels with what occurred in pre-WWII Germany seem to be emerging with the constant smearing of climate skeptics for the purpose of social isolation, and now Oreskes is calling for members of this group to be charged with crimes under RICO. This isn’t new, we’ve heard these calls for climate skeptics to be arrested before, such as Grist’s David Roberts who proposed Nuremberg style trials for climate skeptics, but lately it seems to be picking up speed.
We even have people in the same climate clique playing virtual dress up as Nazis, such as we’ve learned recently from the “Skeptical Science” forum showing proprietor John Cook in full Nazi uniform in the image seen at right. There were several Nazi images depicting SkS.
And, there’s the call for removing dissenting opinion from the press, such as from “Forecast the Facts” (a funded NGO that attacks media)
“Brad Johnson (@ClimateBrad), the editor of HillHeat.com and a former Think Progress staffer, boasted on Twitter that 110,000 people had urged the newspaper “to stop publishing climate lies” like the Krauthammer piece.”
We’ve already seen one prominent newspaper refuse to publish letters from climate skeptics with others following suit.
What is most troubling to me is that Oreskes and Goldenberg appear to be of Jewish descent (as does Dr. Michael Mann) and yet they all seem blind to the pattern of behavior they are engaging in and advocating; the social isolation and prosecution of climate skeptics which seems so reminiscent of the ugliness in times past. I honestly don’t understand how they can’t see what they are doing to silence climate skeptics is so very wrong.
It does seem true, that those who don’t learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
From my viewpoint, the only way to combat this ugliness is with taking a stand. These tactics must be called out when they are used. I urge readers to write thoughtful and factual letters, guest commentary where accepted, and blog posts, countering such smear whenever appropriate.
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