The Merchants of Smear

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

Moderated by:

Cristine Russell, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs’ Environment and Natural Resources Program

Introduction by:

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.


And AlexJC notes in Der Ewige “Denier” on the NYT cartoon depicting killing “deniers” that a pattern is emerging.


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.

Caption on photo “Reichsfuhrer J. Cook” Source: forum

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 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.

MODERATION NOTE: Comments will be heavily scrutinized, keep it civil.


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Why is John Cook, a cartoonist with no technical background, running a website called ‘skeptical science’?


Time for a dose of Bob Dylan…


Or some pertinent quotes from Buddha…
Best regards,
Tim Skype: chiangmaitimcomment image
On 25 February 2014 00:20, Watts Up With That?


The Jew has no cigar.


… a well-funded international campaign continues to deny the scientific consensus …
Someone needs to push them into disclosing an authoritative source for that statement with names and amounts.

RaiderDingo says:
February 24, 2014 at 9:23 am
Why is John Cook, a cartoonist with no technical background, running a website called ‘skeptical science’?

Well, one should be skeptical of the “science” presented there, so the website is appropriately named.
On the other hand, who better than a cartoonist to host a website that presents a cartoon appearance of proper science?

I totally support you in the line you take on this Anthony and the historical parallels you rightly draw.


Another parallel: Oreskes is an “educator”. Training the Hitler-youths of the future?


Cass Sunstein, in 2008, published an article, “Conspiracy Theories.”
In this, he holds a discussion of what might government do to address those who hold and share conspiracy theories.
The answer “nothing” comes to mind. But that is not good enough for Sunstein, who was Obama’s Regulatory Czar for a while, Cass has quite high ambitions for the rest of us, with all of that “Nudge” of our behaviors, and the re-writing of “The Partial Constitution.”
Cass discusses options including getting government flunkies to “infiltrate” the community that sustains any conspiracy theory, and weaken the level of credulity amongst the true believers by sharing some level of skepticism and doubt amongst fellow travelers.
I have a difficult time believing I am seeing all of this in front of my eyes. I think this is what scares many of us: the parallel with na zi ger many, where evil just crept in small step by small step, and you were socially ostracized for not toe-ing the party line, and all the while the end game was always pre-determined: control society from the top-down.


Eh, it’s still a step up from the New York Times, now advocating for the murder of “Climate Change Deniers.”

that those who don’t learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
And those who do learn from the past, repeat what works.

“From my viewpoint, the only way to combat this ugliness is with taking a stand.”
One might be able to “turn the other cheek” if it was simply personal attacks against the “non-believers”, but, importantly, it is a concerted attack with the purpose of silencing the “non-believers”.

Charles Stegiel.

Climate change is important for public fleecing and private profits.

Not sure how to imbed this:

“Silence, I kill you.”


“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

It looks like we are fully into the fighting stage at this point.

Alan Robertson

cnxtim says:
February 24, 2014 at 9:28 am
Time for a dose of Bob Dylan…
cnxtim says:
February 24, 2014 at 9:30 am
Or some pertinent quotes from Buddha…
Best regards,
Tim Skype: chiangmaitimcomment image
On 25 February 2014 00:20, Watts Up With That?
All of those reincarnated Nazis had to end up somewhere…


Congratulations on a good essay.
Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University was actually the person who tipped me over to start to really question the AGW theories. It was a presentation she gave on The Australian Broadcasting Corporation Science Show – I think in January 2012. During her presentation she used the term “the science is settled” several times. This repetition and the high pitched political manner in which it was delivered something that made me question her motives. I rank it as one of the worst ever presentations I have heard on the Science show.
Since then I have done my own investigations and concluded that I am not a climate change denier, but a person who seeks out the truth. Unfortunately everywhere I have looked I have discovered mis-interpretations, stretches of the truth, but most importantly a lack of scientific integrity.
Now the debate seems to have been taken to a new low level with nonsense statements about eliminating so called climate deniers driven by people who should know better, but are obviously concerned for some reason about losing a political debate. I have yet to me a fully fledged “climate denier” if such a person exists. What I have meet are people who are genuinely conceded about the whole climate debate and are seeking out the truth.
Anthony keep up the good work and do not let free speech be squashed in the USA.

John West

Too Funny!
Fraud is a RICO predicate offence.
Fraud is a false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.
They can start the Climate RICO trials with all those that have performed Mike’s Nature trick.

Something to keep in mind. Often when a movement goes to rhetoric this extreme it is not really aimed at their opponents. It is really aimed at keeping their own base of supporters on board the movement. If they sense that their base of support is flagging, ideological groups will often get very extreme in their portrayal of their opposition in order to discourage their own supporters from listening to what those people have to say. A common example might be the rhetoric that the Democratic Party in the US uses against women and minorities who are to the right of center and might run for political office as a Republican. Such people are called horrible names, belittled, held up for ridicule and the reason isn’t so much to attack those people per se as it is to send a message to women and minorities in their own base of support that if they listen to those people and adopt their positions, then all those names and horrible things will apply to them, as well. It is basically psychological motivation using social pressure. You get a group of people saying horrible things about an opposition group and that then makes it harder for people within that group to change their position
This is an indication of desperation and an acknowledgement that they risk losing their own base of support. They are manipulating their support base emotionally. The last thing in the world they would want is for the general public at large to see these sorts of things being said because they know it is over the top and they would be forced to back down from such statements. They are designed to be seen by and distributed among the people who are already on board with them to keep them there. It is rhetoric for the “true believers”. The best weapon we have against this sort of thing is sunlight as you are doing here. Expose them for the manipulative weasels they really are and make them take ownership, in public, of their words. It isn’t really designed to sway anyone’s opinion who might be on the fence or on the other side as over the top rhetoric like that doesn’t work on more thoughtful people who might be on the fence. In fact, it is likely to further alienate more thoughtful people from them. This is designed to elicit a very emotional reaction from the people already in their camp and keep them there.
They’re scared.

Jim Davidson

Plus cela change……. In 1964, running for election as President, Barry Goldwater said: ” Extremism in the defense of Liberty is no vice:” and: ” Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Fortunately the electorate did not agree with him. We must hope that people now will show the same common sense, but they must be kept informed. Keep up the good work WUWT!

I’d settle for about $500 a month right now if some one wants to well fund me.

Jim the bird

This is pretty scary stuff. The only solution is to stand up to it, with respect, clear language, clear ideas, and refusing to engage in trash talk responses.

” Extremism in the defense of Liberty is no vice:” and: ” Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Fortunately the electorate did not agree with him.
Well I didn’t then but I do now. I’d like to be able to speak freely. And I think extremism in defense of that Liberty is no vice.


Ok, does anyone have any good links to sources that counter the false big oil funds skeptics/deniers thing? I know I’ve seen good information on this but I can’t find it now. 😛


Don’t they know that it is by their actions that we know them? This sort of thing is what initially made me skeptical. Then I began examining their “science” and found it very weak. The more I looked, the more problems I found. Their facade is crumbling, and they are desperately trying to shore it up. They dare not take the questions into a court of law. That is just a bluff. No case will ever survive the discovery process.

Steve from Rockwood

This would have Goldenberg lining up on the side of the Nazis. I wonder what Albert E. would think?

the co2ers are hoping people will fall into their trap and respond to THEIR narrative and work within their defining of the problem. Its a big mistake to distract the debate away from evidence to name calling.
All you have to do is ask any co2er why they accept and promote predictions from unvalidated models? if models cannot ‘model’ known climate how can they predict future climate? All you will get is evasion which will demonstrate they have no answer.


I’ve been laughed at for predicting this burst of authoritarianism and repression might ultimately involve violence. When people passionately believe a group of wackos bent on destroying the earth (life as we know it….the 6th extinction), there’s not much they’re not capable of…

Bob Fox

I think that Godwin’s law is quite pernicious because it tries to silence the use of a very important example from history. Those that can’t learn from mistakes are likely to repeat them.

CAGW demonstrates yet again that it is a religion, every bit as aggressive as our friends from the Religion of Permanent Offense. Now that they have identified heretics / infidels, it appears that they are readying the levers of power to “reeducate” us all. Good luck with that. And I thought that those same guys were falling over themselves to ensure a separation of Church and State. Apparently not when the Church (of Manmade Global Warming) is State funded and chartered. Cheers –


I could say that if I am a paid shill then my remuneration has gone adrift somewhere.
But this sort of story is getting more common and more nasty and the only encouraging thing is that the warmists seem to be getting more and more desperate.
(I see that my spellchecker doesn’t like the word “warmist”)

good summary, Anthony.

Kip Hansen

For a journalist. Goldenburg doesn’t read very well. I simply can not believe that she is an Environment Corespondent and isn’t familiar with the acronym CAGW? Really? I do appreciate the hat tip, though, to my essay on a very poor Justin Gillis item in the NY Times. Of course, if she had actually read the essay, she would had realized that the wasn’t political at all, that was just a hook to get people reading…I wonder if that is indicative of the depth of her understanding of the whole topic?
She seems really a two-pole, binary type of person. It is very US (the Correct View, the Truth) and Them (the deniers, the liars, the shills).

MikeN: “The Jew has no cigar.”
I’ve now found a website which has a number of illustrations by Philipp Rupprecht which he drew for a children’s colouring book in 1934, apparently, and which shows several caricatures of Jewish financiers looking as though they are puffing away at cigars:
In the Nazis’ eyes, it seems the Jews were the well-funded “merchants of doubt” of their time.

science is about what you can demonstrate not what names you call people. The co2ers cannot demonstrate their hypothesis that there is a co2 deathstar coming to kill us all so the fall into name calling.
As they get more desperate the name calling will get worse [imagine a hockeystick graph of abuse lol]. No need to respond to it.just keep asking them why they promote predictions from unvalidated models.

Having defended him to some extent on a recent thread, it would be interesting indeed to see what Mr Revkin’s thoughts on this sort of thing might be.
At the moment it would be “safe” to say that opinion’s like Ms Oreskes’ are in the minority and, probably, not taken all that seriously by mainstream supporters of AGW. But Anthony is quite right that there are pplenty of historical precedents for such thoughts taking root if they go unchallenged.
Sadly, as the object of the ideas, skeptics are ill placed to ridicule these suggestions into the oblivion they deserve. To be successful, free speech must be defended by those who disagree with what’s being said but support the right to say it.
So does Mr Revkin agree that scpetics should be silenced, by force or by law? Assuming he has half the integrity I accused him of in the other thread I find that unlikely. If, on the other hand, he finds such mutterings troubling then integrity would demand that he raises his prominent voice against them. He doesn’t have to agree with sceptical opinion to do this, only to find the mere suggestion of forced suppression of free speech abhorrent.
What of it, Mr Revkin? Can we look forward to you sparing a few column inches to publicly denounce “scientific” totalitarianism as roundly as you would no doubt denounce the same politically?

It is a sad commentary on the intellectual zeitgeist of many of our great universities when someone of Oreskes limited capacity for independant data based critical thinking and penchant for propaganda can be employed as a Professor.
We see similar politically correct scientific and communications departments and groups at Yale and Columbia.

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.

I skipped around that video some yesterday, all three were smiling nearly all the time, it seemed a self-satisfied sort of smile between friends rebuilding their common worldview.
I don’t know when the video was made, but apparently it was snowing outside at the time, so their worldview likely needed some rebuilding.


Over two feet of snow across British Columbia this coming two weeks. The carbon tax is obviously working.

I think today it is on topic.


Interesting that some folks here get a free pass to make accusations at the person rather than the comments rather than move on or just observe. By doing so, the victims are left to defend themselves in what ever logic they muster. But the personal attacks continue. Then it becomes trash talk with ever increasing intensity.

OK this is right time right place : Proving the opposition are being devious & manilpulative by being devious & manipulative ?
– If the mythical bigoil funded skeptics want to smear warmists for something what would they do ?
Perhaps they would go to a large public science event Q&A where most of the questions are from scientists, and they would fortuously have one of the questions being on that, giving them the opportunity to hype it up for 5 minutes and get it broadcast.
– So imagine they wanted to portray the warmists as “devious & manipulative” that would be the question.
Now got to Fridays broadcast of the ABC Australia of the Naked Scientists Q&A at the AAAS (Science Conference)
(also on the NS website from the week before)
26min 30s There is this question from “Science Journalist” Joel Werner

“Climate deniers often use the tools of propaganda to further their campaigns, should science be embracing these similar tools ?”

(which entices the UK science minister on the panel to denannounce these “deniers ?”)
…Nothing wrong with that question except Joel Werner is an Australian who has just moved to NYC as a freelance, is still on the books as an ABC (Oz) journalist & his progs are still going out there. (perhaps on 1 year leave of absence)
And until very recently was working with a MEMBER OF THE PANEL in ABC programs it’s head of science broadcasting Robyn Williams a climate fanatic who has big fantasies about Big Oil Funded deniers.
Robyn then had the opportunity to mention one of his favourite books by Naomi Oreskes !
(I also wonder : did “freelancer” Joel pay for the AAAS trip himself or did ABC chip in in some way ?)
NS forum has warmists already discussing that show
– How strangley fortuitous that as they collected the questions from the audience and stacked them randomly that a question written by Joel came to the right position. I respect Naked Scientists so much, but this damages their credibility. And the public would have had a different impression if they had had the courtesy to mention that Robyn and Joel know each other (I presume quite well since they share the same religiousity for climate alarmisn)
I’m sure they would deny anything was wrong, but to me “it is consistant with” a scenario where the question was planted.
Cos if that scenario were true, that would be an attempt to smear your opposition as being “devious & manipulative” by being devious & manipulative themselves…And that really does seem consistant with the normal PROJECTION which is the fingerprint of alarmist activists.


I saw this “satire” being circulated fairly widely in the warmosphere after the Polar Vortex / snowstorms recently. It’s in the same vein as the NYT “cartoon” – violence against non-believers. I saw it first on Mann’s twit page.


It’s incredible, Roy Spencer comes out and calls them Nazis, I think this is wrong of him but when you read this, by gad i can imagine talks around the table in 1930’s Germany.
“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”,

John Boles

The final, violent, flailing gasps of a dying belief system. Their venom and spite are palpable.
I am loving it! Onward fellow skeptics, we are winning!


Sometimes facts need to be stated without embellishment: B.A.T.S.H.I.T. C.R.A.Z.Y.


Advocating CACA has been very very good for Oreskes. Last year she moved from UCSD to Harvard.

Gösta Oscarsson

Please lift Crosspatch´s intervention at 9.56 into the main text!


Plus the UK Green party issuing a policy that any government minister or adviser capable of free thinking be ‘purged’ As reported by the BBC without a batted eyelid.

Uncle Gus

I really do think these people live in a sort of alternate reality. They seem to be totally unaware of the many things that have occurred in the past couple of decades to tarnish their bright shiny theory. They constantly reiterate their belief in a huge, heavily funded climate denial lobby, despite the fact that blogs like WUWT are always going begging for funds.
It’s not that they still believe in CAGW. Good on them for that. I like stiff-necked people. One should be hard to convince. It’s that they really don’t know that there is anything to debate.