Guest essay by Leo Goldstein
The Left implemented a novel technique of the Big Lie that I will call a Flooding Fake here. This technique was especially widely used by climate alarmism. This is what it looks like:
- An important figure or organization on the Left is caught doing something wrong, saying something outrageous, or blatantly lying.
- The Left injects into public discourse an absolutely fake, but believable, account of this action and immediately “debunks” this account.
- The fake narrative is accepted by the public as truth because the public knows that something similar has happened. The immediate debunking is rejected as a cover-up attempt.
- Later, when people accuse the original wrongdoer they use elements of the fake narrative. This is when “fact checkers” jump on them. Fake news networks accuse honest statesmen and commentators of spreading fake news. The liberals’ conviction that the conservatives are stupid and uninformed gets deeper. Google buries honest pieces far from public sight. Facebook tries to prevent their sharing. Leftist politicians cry that they lost elections because of fake news.
An example is a global cooling scare of the 70s. In 1977, Time magazine published an issue under the following cover:
That cover is a seriously inconvenient truth for climate alarmists and their media accessories. So, Time attempted to re-write a history. It published a forged version of its own cover, the left one on the following picture (the “Time-2013-version-of-1977”):
…and then easily debunked it as a photoshopped version of its April 2007 cover (3). As I will explain below, Time magazine knew it was launching a hoax. The rest of the liberal media popularized it, although it could have easily recognized it. Snopes adopted it (4), invented additional details that were not present in the Time article, and angrily condemned “climate deniers.” Quotes from Snopes:
A rhetorical technique commonly employed by anthropogenic climate change deniers to diminish climate science is to reference fears some scientists had over the prospect of global cooling in the 1970s.
One commonly shared pairing, floating around the internet since at least 2013, purports to show two covers of Time Magazine: A 1977 issue … As noted by Time itself in 2013, the 2006 image on the right is an authentic cover, but the 1977 image is a doctored version of an 9 April 2007 issue which actually featured an article titled “The Global Warming Survival Guide”
I don’t know when Snopes published that, because Snopes had its history erased from archive.org. Archive.org (that calls itself the Wayback Machine) is an Amazon-owned service that stores copies of web pages and sites for posterity. Some pages and sites are not stored because they are not popular, are forbidden to crawlers, or are hard to save. But Snopes.com “has been excluded from the Wayback Machine.” Snopes.com is the first website I encounter that has been excluded. That means it has forbidden archive.org to crawl its site and demanded to take down already saved data. That makes sense. Snopes is a fact checker – it checks facts to ensure they match the party line. In such cases, the party line is usually thin and changes frequently, so Snopes does not want 3rd parties to keep the history of changes. Think Orwell, 1984.
But everyone who lived through the 70’s knows that any climate worries at the time were about cooling, and many know that one 1977 Time issue reflected these worries. Some climate realists googled the cover of that issue, and what they found was a fabrication. Not aware of that, they fell into the trap and posted this fabricated picture as a proof. Even the website of Dr. Roy Spencer fell a victim. Then, climate alarmists had a joyful and profitable time “debunking” the forgery they and/or their accomplices had created. This trick has been repeated multiple times with other arguments, convincing the majority of onlookers that climate realists are liars or simply ignorant.
After Snopes finally established this Flooding Fake narrative, the fake-stream media have been giving it the megaphone. Google and, probably, Facebook use it to “fact check” news and ordinary search results. This is how this looks in Google:
The first Google search result says that Donald Trump is behind the hoax, created by the Time magazine four years ago, and links to a fresh Time article (6), repeating and amplifying the hoax. A Wikipedia entry (7) is the second result, and Snopes comes third. Snopes result is “fact-checked” by Snopes itself. Thus, Google simply cons a user with its “fact check.” This is a recurrent occurrence, not an exception. Google knows that Snopes is untrustworthy from the fact that Snopes has expunged its history form archive.org. Snopes is also known to be hyper-partisan, but so is Google, and it might be excused for taking their political alignment as an evidence of objectivity by Snopes. Google also knows that it is a search engine, and fact checking is none of its business.
Of course, this fact-checking by Google and some “social media” websites is nothing but a political censorship. Google is a monopoly created by the Obama administration through failure to enforce anti-trust laws, and then through subjecting the Internet use of 300 million citizens to the Title II regulation for the benefit of Google and other content providers. I dare to say that through Google, Facebook, and some other hand-picked corporate favorites, the Obama administration attempts to control our speech from the grave.
I guess that climate alarmists launched this specific misinformation operation in response to the Global Cooling Compilation article, published by Anthony in March 2013. The WUWT article featured the correct 1977 Time cover.
Notorious Greg Laden published an article with the forged Time-2013-version-of-1977 picture in ScienceBlogs on June 4, 2013 (5). The article was allegedly penned by some David Kirtley. In the article, Kirtley explained the origin of the picture as “A few days ago a facebook friend of mine posted the following image“. Two days later, Time magazine published its own piece, which has launched the forged Time-2013-version-of-1977 picture into mass circulation. The piece but gave a nod to Kirtley and ScienceBlogs. Time magazine claimed that the forged picture was found on a page of a linked page on a conservative site called UncommonDescent.com. I cannot say whether that picture was on that site at any time. But by the time the Time article was published, that page on UncommonDescent.com had not a picture, but this text:
It turns out the Time magazine cover “How to Survive the Coming Ice Age” is a photoshopped fake. However, while the cover is a fake, Time was in fact printing stories about fears of global cooling in the 70’s. See here. And so was Newsweek. See here. And the National Science Board. See here. And Science. See here. And several other sources summarized here. We regret the error of putting the fake Time cover up. However, the point we were trying to make remains valid.
The post is still there and contains links. It’s impossible to say from the text whether the photoshopped cover was the same as the one published later by Time. Most important: the post was dated by April 12, 2012 – more than a year before Time magazine published its Time-2013-version-of-1977 forgery. It is easy to verify the page on UncommonDescent.com has been saved in archive.org on April 19, 2012: https://web.archive.org/web/20120419223508/https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/time-cover-fake-1970s-global-cooling-fears-not/.
The “original source” of the fake cover is hard to trace. It is almost certainly somebody in the climate alarmism camp: the real cover from 1977 was very clearly making a point against climate alarmism. But the point of entry of the forgery into mass circulation was Time magazine, June 6 of 2013. Good job, motherf*ckers.
This is not an outlier, but a repeating pattern. The most damaging case is “uncertainties” in the predictions of complex climate models. Of course, real scientists, physicists and mathematicians, used to say that there were “uncertainties” in the predictions of climate models, but only out of politeness. They really meant that those models were bullsh*t.
I could not believe such things would gain traction in a free society on such scale, and I still don’t believe. It might be that the U.S. was not a free society in the second term of the Obama administration, and that the remnants of the Obama regime have been in #resistance since the unexpected defeat in the elections.
In the next two days, a Google lawyer will speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee and will attempt to steer its attention to a non-existent “Russian collusion”. He or she will lie and present cherry-picked or outright fabricated “evidence.” If the government wants to know the truth about extent to which Google aided foreign powers to interfere in the US elections and politics, it should not listen to Google representatives, but to send FBI to physically enter Google’s premises, to copy all of its code and data, and to start interrogating executives and sysadmins (after obtaining an appropriate court order, of course).
In this example, multiple entities are involved: Google, Snopes, Time magazine, and ScienceBlogs. They are independent entities, but each of them knowingly plays its own well-defined role in the chain of injection, amplification, propagation, and utilization of a lie. Thus, they might be referred to as a single body.
The Flooding Fake is different from a strawman fallacy. The Flooding Fake is a political operation, rather than a fallacy. Accordingly, in a strawman fallacy, the strawman is not disseminated outside of the original debate, and does not convince the opponent. The Flooding Fake is disseminated very broadly and eventually takes over some opponents.
The Flooding Fake is related to two other PR techniques of the left: fake opponents (like “fossil fuels interests”), and fake debate subject.
Another example of the Flooding Fake at work is the funny meme Al Gore – the inventor of the Internet. In fact, Al Gore pretended to be much more, almost a Creator of the Internet [link]. I did not check who was the first to utter that meme. It might have been a misspeaking analyst or politician on the right. But the “first source” does not matter because it is not broadly read or viewed, if at all. What matter is who injected the fake meme into the broad circulation.