Social Science as Organised Ignorance

In a recent article I criticised Catriona McKinnon of Reading University, who wants climate deniers to be banned from expressing their opinions or being employed in universities. That’s a pretty strong position for a Professor of Political Theory to take. The last time certain people were banned by law from working in universities was… never mind.

However, she seems unclear what climate denial is, since she revises her definition half way through the article. She starts off defining it thus:

By “climate denial,” I mean the deliberate and deceptive misrepresentation of the scientific realities of climate change, such as the fact that climate change is happening, its anthropogenic causes, and its damaging impacts

and she gives as a reference (Dunlap 2013).

which seems clear enough, except that (Dunlap 2013) contains no real analysis of climate denial, but is simply the introduction to a special edition of the American Behavioral Scientist on Climate Denialism, offering a rather discursive survey of the forms and sources of denialism.

To understand what McKinnon is saying, let’s follow up what her source (Dunlap 2013) says, and what his sources are. It’s a little boring, but enlightening in the end.

Here is what Dunlap says about denialism in the article cited by McKinnon (I’ve omitted one sentence on denialism’s effects, and the corresponding references, since it doesn’t affect the definition):

From the outset, there has been an organized “disinformation” campaign that has used the complexities of AGW and the inevitable uncertainties involved in scientific research to generate skepticism and denial concerning AGW. The primary strategy employed by this campaign has been to “manufacture uncertainty” over AGW (Oreskes & Conway, 2010), especially by attacking climate science and scientists (Powell, 2011). […]

The campaign has been waged by a loose coalition of industrial (especially fossil fuels) interests and conservative foundations and think tanks that utilize a range of front groups and Astroturf operations, often assisted by a small number of “contrarian scientists.” These actors are greatly aided by conservative media and politicians (Oreskes & Conway, 2010; Powell, 2011), and more recently by a bevy of skeptical bloggers. This “denial machine” has played a crucial role in generating skepticism toward AGW among laypeople and policy makers (Begley, 2007; Dunlap & McCright, 2011).

For years the denial machine and its campaign attracted little attention, as its operatives succeeded in masking their efforts as legitimate scientific debate while the interests and motives behind their attacks on climate science and individual scientists such as Benjamin Santer were largely shrouded from scrutiny (Oreskes & Conway, 2010). Investigative journalists, most notably Ross Gelbspan (1997), took the lead in analyzing the denial machine, and then a few social scientists joined in the effort (Beder, 1999; Lahsen, 1999; McCright & Dunlap, 2000, 2003). Journalists have continued to make crucial contributions to understanding the denial machine (Begley, 2007; Gelbspan, 2004; Klein, 2011; Mooney, 2005; Pearce, 2010; Pooley, 2010), but particularly in the past 5 years a growing number of social scientists and other analysts—ranging from historians (Weart, 2011) to ex-government officials (Piltz, 2008) to citizens committed to defending climate science (Kintisch, 2011)—also have provided analyses of the denial machine. Additional insights into the campaign against climate science have been provided by climate scientists, especially those who have been subjected to attack (Bradley, 2011; Hansen, 2009; Mann, 2012; Schneider, 2009).

Here is the totality of Dunlap’s sources:

(Oreskes & Conway, 2010) Merchants of doubt.

(Powell, 2011) The inquisition of climate science

(Begley, 2007) The truth about denial. Newsweek

(Dunlap & McCright, 2011) Organized climate change denial. In The Oxford handbook of climate change

(Gelbspan (1997) The heat is on

(Beder, 1999) Corporate hijacking of the greenhouse debate. Ecologist,

(Lahsen, 1999) The detection and attribution of conspiracies: The controversy over chapter 8. Paranoia within reason: A casebook on conspiracy as explanation

(McCright & Dunlap, 2000) Challenging global warming as a social problem: An analysis of the conservative movement’s counter-claims. Social Problems

(McCright & Dunlap, 2003) Defeating Kyoto: The conservative movement’s impact on U.S. climate change policy. Social Problems

(Gelbspan, 2004) Boiling point.

(Klein, 2011) Capitalism vs. the climate. The Nation

(Mooney, 2005) Some like it hot. Mother Jones

(Pearce, 2010) The climate files

(Pooley, 2010) The climate war: True believers, power brokers, and the fight to save the earth.

(Weart, 2011) Global warming: How skepticism became denial. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

(Piltz, 2008) The denial machine. Index on Censorship

(Kintisch, 2011) Computer scientist goes on offensive to defend climate scientists. Science

(Bradley, 2011) Global warming and political intimidation.

(Hansen, 2009) Storms of my grandchildren

(Mann, 2012) The hockey stick and the climate wars.

(Schneider, 2009) Science as a contact sport

I make that twelve books, (four of them by scientists who have been “attacked”) or chapters in books; four press articles, and five articles in peer reviewed journals, two of which are written by Dunlap, who is also the author of one of the book chapters cited.

The three articles in the peer reviewed literature not by Dunlap are all paywalled. (Kintisch, 2011) is an interview with Kintisch by John Mashey who “is spending his retirement years compiling voluminous critiques of what he calls the ‘real conspiracy’ to produce ‘climate antiscience.’” (Piltz 2008) and (Weart 2011) are also also apparently opinion pieces. Of 21 references in (Weart 2011) eight are common to (Dunlap 2013.)

And that’s it.

To summarise: Professor McKinnon proposes to ban certain people from being employed in universities and from expressing themselves publicly. Her sole source of information on who they are and what they do is a paper by Professor Dunlap, and his source consists of just two peer reviewed papers written by himself, and a variety of books and newspaper articles, all of them savagely critical of the “denialist machine” (with the possible exception of Pearce, whose book is an examination of the behaviour of the scientists in the Climategate affair, which makes it difficult to see why Dunlap is citing him as making “crucial contributions to understanding the denial machine.”)

Dunlap, in the extract quoted above, describes denialism as a loose coalition of:

– industrial (especially fossil fuels) interests

– conservative foundations and think tanks

– front groups and Astroturf operations

– a small number of “contrarian scientists”

            greatly aided by:

– conservative media and politicians

– a bevy of skeptical bloggers.

Conway & Oreskes and Powell are the sole references cited for the first five groups, and no source at all is cited for the bevy of skeptical bloggers.” In fact I’ve found no references at all to blogs in the papers by Dunlap I have been able to access. In fact, there are very few references at all to the work of bloggers in any of the social science papers on climate denialism that I’ve seen, and when they are the subject of research, it tends to be the kind of automatic data mining operations that leaves out all reference to the people involved and their arguments, as examined in this article.

Social scientists are free to research whatever they like, and if Dunlap wants to research the “fossil-fuel-financed denial machine” and McKinnon wants to quote him, that’s their affair. But, given the large and growing literature on climate denialism, and the speed with which events move, the ice melts, and the seas rise, it seems astonishing that McKinnon should be citing a paper which singles out a book written by Ross Gelbspan twenty years ago for special mention as a useful source for understanding denialism. Some things have happened since then, including the invention of blogging.

The most cursory glance at the contemporary denialist machine reveals that blogs are far and away the main vehicle for discussion. Mann’s “hockeystick” graph; the Climategate emails; errors in the IPCC reports; statistically questionable papers by Steig, Marcott and others; flaws in the temperature record; the theft and forgery of documents by Gleick; all the major stories (or “scandals”) surrounding climate science were broken and discussed primarily on blogs. The major sceptical books in Britain (I don’t know about the USA) are by bloggers like Montford and Delingpole. The few journalists in Britain who take a sceptical position (Booker, Delingpole, Rose) get their material from blogs. The Heartland Institute and other conservative organisations do little but arrange and finance events at which the bloggers and scientists can present their case.

McKinnon cites a blogger at great length (John Cook) so she presumably know of the existence of blogs. Does she know of the existence of the sceptical blogs which John Cook’s skepticalScience and RealClimate were set up to counter? Perhaps not. Certainly not, if her sources are Dunlap, Powell, and Oreskes. She certainly won’t be aware that our own Paul Matthews works at a university. What he does doesn’t matter. Whether he mows the lawn or lectures in mathematics, he’ll be rounded up and expelled just the same under the New Environmental Régime envisaged by McKinnon.

But beyond the rather particular political theory espoused by McKinnon, and the million pound grant from the Leverhulme Foundation for her Climate Justice Programme, (remember that when you buy your soap) is the kind of social science practiced by Riley Dunlap.

For the first part of his forty year career, he analysed the growing environmental movement. As an activist, it is true, but he analysed it, and you can learn from his papers a lot about what environmentalists thought they were up to. Then along came (Gelbspan 1997) and Dunlap turned to the fossil-fuel-financed denialist machine. But there’s no peer-reviewed literature on that, so he quotes articles in Newsweek, and books by crazed activists. And suddenly any old politically motivated rubbish is part of the peer reviewed literature.

So tomorrow, when some crazed Green MP proposes a law banning the likes of Paul Matthews from teaching in a university, she’ll be able to cite McKinnon, who cites Mill “On Liberty” and Dunlap, who cites Gelbspan, who cites what some Exxon executive said in the 1980s. And who will gainsay her? Because it’s all science, (and the science is settled) since it’s all in the peer-reviewed literature.

Except for John Stuart Mill “On Liberty.” And who cares about him?

37 thoughts on “Social Science as Organised Ignorance

  1. Not wholly on topic as this is not referenced by Dunlap, but as you’ve noted here before there is other literature which is used to support the existence of ‘denialism’ in the climate and other domains, via an actual test. So I guess at least a one grade better attempt than the above, courtesy of Diethelm and Mckee, after Hoofnagle, and also the core of the wiki entry on ‘denialism’. However, this attempt turns out to be wholly invalid:

    https://judithcurry.com/2016/04/21/the-denialism-frame/

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  2. I’m away for the next week and won’t be commenting, so I thought I’d get my comment in first.

    Though I have nothing but contempt for Dunlap’s work, I don’t really criticise him. He uses the peer reviewed press to his advantage to propagate his ideas – and why not? He’s got a message to deliver, and all the means of a tenured professor to do it with. He’s no worse than a lawyer who surfs on the current public fear of anything chemical to screw millions out of Monsanto and take his cut. Who can blame him? The problem is not Professor Dunlap. The problem is social science, as defined by the universities, the editors of the peer-reviewed press, and by society in general.

    Social science as an analysis of our behaviour as social beings, independent from politics, as understood by Weber, is dead. Social science is about guiding our behaviour, politically. Marx said: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world. The point, however, is to change it.” And modern social scientists, Marxists or not, agree – to change the world in whatever direction their paymasters indicate. And their paymasters are the state.

    For Weber’s generation is dead – all those intellectuals who fled Nazism to the freedom of Britain and the USA: rightwing thinkers like Isaiah Berlin, Schumpeter, Polyani and Hayek, and leftwing thinkers like Koestler and Antal. (You want an art historian who can open your eyes? Try the Marxist Antal on English art of the eighteenth century. You want a modern equivalent of the struggle to keep civilisation alive in the christianised late Roman Empire, as discussed here recently by Hunter and Richard Drake? Think of Karl Popper exiled to New Zealand during the war, sending his proofs to be corrected by the art historian Ernst Gombrich in London.)

    Where was I? Oh yes, Catriona McKinnon. She wants to chase certain people from the universities. But she’s not a Nazi. More of a fascist. Not a neo-fascist, like Marine le Pen or Alice Weidel of Alternative für Deutschland. It’s impossible to imagine any modern European far right politician proposing to ban certain people from teaching in a university. They wouldn’t dare. Only a university professor could do such a thing, and possibly only in England. That’s what freedom of expression means: the liberty to say what you like. McKinnon’s freedom – and mine.

    Of course, there are plenty of countries in the world where it would be impossible for people with certain beliefs to teach in a university, but I can’t think of anybody in Europe proposing that certain people should be banned from teaching in universities since Mussolini in about 1942 banned Jews.

    I try to be precise in my terminology, which is why I say McKinnon is a fascist, but not a Nazi. Mussolini had nothing personally against the Jews, but anti-semitism was, shall we say, in the air, and Mussolini was under a certain pressure from Nazi Germany. And climate change is in the air, and Professor McKinnon has her million pound grant from the Leverhulme Trust. Which is nice. So she proposes throwing certain undesirable people out of the universities, in an article in the peer-reviewed scientific press, citing John Stuart Mill “On Liberty” in support.

    Should one reply with a peer-reviewed response in the peer-reviewed scientific press pointing out that Professor McKinnon has misinterpreted Mill “On Liberty”?

    Or should one be content to point out in a blog post that Professor McKinnon is just another boring little far right fascist who wants to silence people whose opinions make her feel uncomfortable?

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  3. When I consider the direction Academia is rapidly taking itself and its students (our future), a song comes to mind:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. But of course the sort of world these Academics are building is designed to be a future that they can be truly proud of. A future that they can truly grasp and hold while they are busting at the seams proud.
    Which reminds me of another song.

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  5. “Mann’s “hockeystick” graph; the Climategate emails; errors in the IPCC reports; statistically questionable papers by Steig, Marcott and others; flaws in the temperature record; the theft and forgery of documents by Gleick; all the major stories (or “scandals”) surrounding climate science were broken and discussed primarily on blogs.”

    Great example of someone living in his own information bubble. Those aren’t really major stories or scandals to anyone outside your bubble.

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  6. Len, Mann’s “hockeystick” graph; the Climategate emails; errors in the IPCC reports were all major world-wide headline news stories whose reverberations continue to this day. I would have sworn you read the MSM.

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  7. Social science, particularly Politics has commonly been a problem child of academia, one that smothers its siblings. I believe there were long periods when politics viewed through a right-wing lens almost disappeared from the lecture halls of most British universities. Politics concerned itself with social democracy and various incarnations of communism. Since appointment committees were staffed with already tenured professors, they appointed their own. I see the same effect with climate science. Appointment, tenure, funding, status are all in the hands of peers and when this group becomes lop-sided there is little to prevent continued sliding into the favoured direction. One way the slide may be slowed is through the actions of forward looking elder academics who see the value of balance. Unfortunately these enlightened people are retiring.

    My position as a climate sceptic in the School of Environmental Science was actively supported by many senior academics within the School (even one from within CRU!). Almost all have now long retired and there are no checks and balances. I noted there was one Leverhulme Trust scholar at Reading who is an UEA-ENV graduate, and I thought, oh, she will have experienced at least one of my lectures – but no, already there are many cohorts of ENV students who will have been graduated without the slightest taint of scepticism. Some time back there was a discussion here about whether the sceptical side might be winning – we are not!?

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  8. Only the climate emails were a major story. The others a disinterested person wouldn’t have heard of. They’re bubble news. The failure of Copenhagen, the relative success of Paris, the withdrawal from Paris by Trump, the amazing falls in the cost of renewables, the loss of arctic sea ice, the record temperatures, these are the major news items ‘surrounding’ climate and they have nothing to do with blogs.

    By the way, do listen to the Browder interview on Trumpcast; I think you’ll find it interesting.

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  9. Len. As usual you do indeed miss the point. The failure of Copenhagen, [the relative success (really?)]« of Paris, the withdrawal from Paris by Trump, the amazing falls in the cost of renewables[ are you in dreamland?), the loss of arctic sea ice, the record temperatures (now youre being disengenuous) – these are stories that may not have originated with blogs, but certainly have been analysed and discussed there and commonly have led to further developments that surfaced in the MSM.

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  10. So at least you accept that blogs were not central to the big stories. But can you really question the falls in prices of renewables or the record temperatures with a straight face?

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  11. ABSObloodyLUTLY Len! I experienced not a single record temperature in the last few years, how about you? My electricity bills have reached ever upward, how about yours?

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  12. I had to look up the term “astroturfing’, it being new to me (quite taken with its cleverness). But for the life of me I cannot think of any organisation that is said to be involved in climate change “denial” that falsely claims grass roots support. Can anyone help me – who has been so fingered?

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  13. Neither of which is relevant. You have the capacity for intelligent intercourse but seem to prefer the equivalent of shagging a donkey. Odd.

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  14. Len claims first-hand experience is irrelevant and like “shagging a donkey” Are these related?

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  15. Geoff, very good. I’m reminded of my favourite social science paper of all time, Leading Voices in the Denier Choir by Elsasser and Dunlap, and in particular this passage, in which the authors demonstrate that deniers live in an echo chamber.

    In support of the claim of the denialist echo chamber, Dunlap cites work by Dunlap & McCright (2 papers), McCright & Dunlap, (2 more papers), Oreskes and Conway, McCright & Dunlap (again), Greenpeace, and Mooney!

    As in your example, most of the citations aren’t academic papers, and of the few that are, almost all of them are by him.

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  16. I’ve encouraged this chap to join our discussion, since he said he discussed McKinnon’s paper on Tuesday. He doesn’t seem keen to share his philosophical wisdom with us, though.

    Edit: It turns out that this guy is an academic at the University of Leicester, just half an hour away from me.

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  17. This is fascinating. McKinnon’s definition of ‘climate denial’:

    By “climate denial,” I mean the deliberate and deceptive misrepresentation of the scientific realities of climate change, such as the fact that climate change is happening, its anthropogenic causes, and its damaging impacts.

    She talks about scientific realities and facts which are supposedly denied. There is no mention of uncertainties. Then we have Dunlap’s definition, which Geoff informs us she based based her own definition on:

    From the outset, there has been an organized “disinformation” campaign that has used the complexities of AGW and the inevitable uncertainties involved in scientific research to generate skepticism and denial concerning AGW. The primary strategy employed by this campaign has been to “manufacture uncertainty” over AGW (Oreskes & Conway, 2010), especially by attacking climate science and scientists (Powell, 2011). […]

    So Dunlap specifically says that ‘climate denial’ is a politically motivated conspiracy to exploit existing uncertainty and complexity in climate science. Therefore ‘climate denial’ isn’t denial, it’s ‘exploitation’ (not scepticism) of doubt, of uncertainty, of complexity, presumably in relation to causes and effects. But it gets better: Dunlap says that the exploitation of existing uncertainty generates “scepticism and denial” concerning AGW with the purpose of ‘manufacturing uncertainty’. This is just so ridiculously confused and illogical. If uncertainty exists, there is no certainty, therefore one cannot deny ‘facts’, because those ‘facts’ are not facts but ‘best guesses’ made by scientists re. causes and effects. If uncertainty already exists, how can you ‘manufacture’ it? You just highlight it and thus you invite others to become sceptical of claims made by scientists disguised as facts or certainties, or, in IPCC-speak “extremely likely” causes or consequences.

    To wit, McKinnon’s definition of denial is based upon her own judgement that that there are undeniable realities involved in AGW ‘science’ but she provides a reference for this viewpoint from an academic who believes that inherent uncertainty in climate science is being used by some to ‘manufacture’ uncertainty and magically generate a denial of ‘facts’ which about AGW which don’t actually qualify AS facts!

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  18. Unless you are involved in building wind or solar farms, you have no first hand experience of renewables. You do, on other hand, have first hand experience of record temperatures, having lived through recent years, but due to the nature of global averages, your experience is worthless in judging the record.

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  19. “It’s clouds that prevent us from fundamentally in some reductive fashion understanding the climate system,” Princeton Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Professor Isaac Held, senior research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, declared from the IPCC climate consensus bench. Collins made a similar point toward the end of the session. “My sense, to be honest with you, is that, and I think this all makes us a little bit nervous,” he said; “climate is not a problem that is amenable necessarily to reductionist treatment.”

    https://judithcurry.com/2017/11/29/a-veneer-of-certainty-stoking-climate-alarm/

    Stick that in your Political Philosopher’s pipe and smoke it Prof McKinnon.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Say, Catriona, food for thought…

    A Veneer of certainty stoking climate alarm. Professor Judith Curry, 29/11/17.
    Rupert Darwall has written a tour-de-force essay “A Veneer of Certainty Stoking
    Climate Alarm“, which has been published by CEI [link to full essay].

    Foreword

    ‘I was invited to write a Foreword to the essay, which provides context for the essay:

    While the nations of the world met in Bonn to discuss implementation of the Paris
    Climate Agreement, the Trump administration was working to dismantle President
    Obama’s Clean Power Plan and to establish a climate “red team” to critically
    evaluate the scientific basis for dangerous human-caused climate change and the
    policy responses.

    The mantra of “settled science” is belied by the inherent complexity of climate change
    as a scientific problem, the plethora of agents and processes that influence the global
    climate, and disagreements among scientists. Manufacture and enforcement of a
    “consensus” on the topic of human-caused climate change acts to the detriment of
    the scientific process, our understanding of climate change, and the policy responses.
    Indeed, it becomes a fundamentally anti-scientific process when debate,
    disagreement, and uncertainty are suppressed.

    This essay by Rupert Darwall explores the expressions of public certainty by climate
    scientists versus the private expressions of uncertainty, in context of a small Workshop
    on Climate organized by the American Physical Society (APS). I was privileged to
    participate in this workshop, which included three climate scientists who support the
    climate change consensus and three climate scientists who do not—all of whom
    were questioned by a panel of distinguished physicists.

    The transcript of the workshop is a remarkable document. It provides, in my opinion,
    the most accurate portrayal of the scientific debates surrounding climate change.
    While each of the six scientists agreed on the primary scientific evidence, we each
    had a unique perspective on how to reason about the evidence, what conclusions
    could be drawn and with what level of certainty.

    Rupert Darwall’s essay provides a timely and cogent argument for a red/blue team
    assessment of climate change that provides both sides with an impartial forum to
    ask questions and probe the other side’s case. Such an assessment would both
    advance the science and open up the policy deliberations to a much broader
    range of options.’

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  21. Len Martinez says: “Great example of someone living in his own information bubble.”

    And here you are.

    “Only the climate emails were a major story.”

    Major story indeed. Got my attention!

    “Unless you are involved in building wind or solar farms, you have no first hand experience of renewables”

    Seems to my hydropower ought to be in your list. Maybe biomethane and geothermal.

    “But can you really question the falls in prices of renewables or the record temperatures with a straight face?”

    Yes. As Socrates says, question everything. He said nothing about having a straight face so far as I know. The most believable temperature measurements are the ones I make myself.

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  22. There’s a new childish rant about “deniers” by 14 authors including Lewandowsky, Mann, Verheggen, and a bunch of activists from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology. Most of it is a personal attack on Susan Crockford.

    It’s calmly taken apart by Fabius Maximus. See also WUWT and Crockford herself.

    Amongst many other things, Fabius points out that they repeatedly use the d word without explaining what they mean by it.

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  23. Why doesn’t McKinnon simply draw up a list of all books held in the Libraries of Reading University that she wants to burn, because she believes they are wrong? She would only be a really bad extremist if she actually burnt them.

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  24. GolfCharlie (Gwen) perhaps McKinnon probably objects more to the continued employment of those who wrote the books, and would only be a really bad extremist if she actually burnt them.

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  25. Geoff Chambers sees the exact same problem I saw years back in sociological papers which asserted the AGW science was settled because skeptic viewpoints could be dismissing out-of-hand as the product of a “denial machine.” Undertake the effort yourselves to follow those papers’ citation cascade back to its ultimate origins, and who does it turn out to be? The above-noted “investigative journalist” Ross Gelbspan, who’s widely praised as a Pulitzer winner. Dig ever deeper into who he is, and you discover he was NOT employed as a journalist of any type when he supposedly discovered how skeptic climate scientists were ‘industry corrupted’, and he NEVER won a Pulitzer. Worst of all, the oft-repeated ‘leaked industry memo’ core evidence he uses to indict skeptic climate scientists turns out to be literally worthless, taken totally out of context. So, permit me to steer you to my own blog post analysis of this collective mob and their 3 degrees of separation or less from Ross Gelbspan:

    “Oreskes’ Inability to Keep Her Mouth Shut & the Big Erik Conway Problem” http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=5917
    “Naomi Oreskes’ Problems, pt 1” http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=2009
    “Robert ‘dark money’ Brulle & Other ‘Skeptic-Trashing Environmental Sociologists'” http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=1237
    “We Have to Stop These People ….” http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=5573 (Sharon Begley)
    “How did I arrive at “Greenpeace USA née Ozone Action”?” http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=3227 (Sharon Beder)
    “Lahsen’s Spice Girls” http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=3765
    “Science magazine Plunges off the Single-Source Cliff” http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=3984 (Kintisch / Mashey)
    “‘Skeptic Climate Scientists Do Not Deserve Fair Media Balance'” http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=1886 (Stephen Schneider)
    “Why is Ross Gelbspan’s Name Found in ClimateGate Emails?” http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=671 (Michael Mann)
    “An Accusation Built on a Foundation of Sand” http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=4024

    Apologies for sending everyone into lengthy reading. But what this all ultimately burns down to is that the entire claim for the existence of a ‘misinformation machine’ run by the fossil fuel industry is pure psychological projection of exactly what the AGW side is doing. Their big mistake was putting all their eggs in the one basket of Ross Gelbspan as a means of convincing the public that skeptic climate scientists should be ignored. The moment any objective unbiased person starts to deeply examine EVERY aspect of the ‘crooked skeptics’ accusation, the whole thing starts to unravel.

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  26. Gullibility has been central to McKinnons indoctrination, as demonstrated on the first page of this missive from 2009

    Runaway Climate Change: A Justice-Based Case for Precautions
    Author Catriona McKinnon

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9833.2009.01446.x/abstract;jsessionid=E7F8C3A2C8DAAE9D8061995B66342E75.f01t03?

    She has also forgotten about what she wrote on the subject of tolerance, and the precautionary principle, having not considered the possibility that she might be wrong:

    Why should we be tolerant? What does it mean to ‘live and let live’? What ought to be tolerated and what not?

    “Catriona McKinnon presents a comprehensive, yet accessible introduction to toleration in her new book. Divided into two parts, the first clearly introduces and assesses the major theoretical accounts of toleration, examining it in light of challenges from scepticism, value pluralism and reasonableness. The second part applies the theories of toleration to contemporary debates such as female circumcision, French Headscarves, artistic freedom, pornography and censorship, and holocaust denial.

    Drawing on the work of philosophers, such as Locke, Mill and Rawls, whose theories are central to toleration, the book provides a solid theoretical base to those who value toleration, whilst considering the challenges toleration faces in practice. It is the ideal starting point for those coming to the topic for the first time, as well as anyone interested in the challenges facing toleration today.”

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  27. To further clarify her expertise and balanced opinion:
    Runaway Climate Change: A Justice-Based Case for Precautions
    Author Catriona McKinnon

    is available here
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9833.2009.01446.x/abstract;jsessionid=E7F8C3A2C8DAAE9D8061995B66342E75.f01t03?

    and she also introduces her understanding of her belief in “Tolerance” which she seems to contradict with her recent effort.
    “Why should we be tolerant? What does it mean to ‘live and let live’? What ought to be tolerated and what not?”
    “Catriona McKinnon presents a comprehensive, yet accessible introduction to toleration in her new book. Divided into two parts, the first clearly introduces and assesses the major theoretical accounts of toleration, examining it in light of challenges from scepticism, value pluralism and reasonableness. The second part applies the theories of toleration to contemporary debates such as female circumcision, French Headscarves, artistic freedom, pornography and censorship, and holocaust denial.”

    “Drawing on the work of philosophers, such as Locke, Mill and Rawls, whose theories are central to toleration, the book provides a solid theoretical base to those who value toleration, whilst considering the challenges toleration faces in practice. It is the ideal starting point for those coming to the topic for the first time, as well as anyone interested in the challenges facing toleration today.”

    Those who depend on Climate Science can’t tolerate the views of anyone else.

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  28. Alan Kendall, if she objects to Universities employing people she objects to, then she has simply proved how antisocial she really is. Does Reading University consider it acceptable in this progressive era to employ bigots?

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  29. Golf Charlie, sorry, for some reason your comments all seem to get stuck in moderation. I’m not sure why.

    Ah, I think I see why. They all seem to come in from different IP addresses so WordPress puts them in moderation.

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  30. GolfCharlie. I did not mean to imply that she objected to anyone specifically at Reading. I was merely playing with your words as we are wont to do in another place (BTW I am so pleased to see you here).

    Concerning Catriona’s views on tolerance and climate change, I would suspect that she considers climate change is too important to be tolerant about. After all there are many topics that all reasonable people would be intolerant about – child molestation, wilful destruction of environmental beauty and so on. Catriona is clearly a fully paid up climate change convert and so is (in her mind rightfully) intolerant of any who are deniers of this great truth.

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  31. Paul Matthews, thank you, us country bumpkins don’t get fibre optic superfast broadband, and have to rely on alternative coping strategies!

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  32. Alan Kendall, she is objecting to people she disagrees with, about a subject she has not even considered she might be wrong about. As a social scientist, she is guilty of what she accuses others. A hypocrite in otherwords, but she cannot even see it for what it is

    People who live in Green houses really shouldn’t throw stones.

    I have no idea whether this makes her more credible as a Social Scientist anywhere, but if anybody at Reading University takes offence about her bookburning approach, she can always cite Peterson Connolley and Fleck 2008 in her defence, which will prove her science and social skills.

    She has jumped on the Climate Science funding bandwagon before, so can’t complain if people judge her work for it.

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  33. GolfCharlie.

    “she is objecting to people she disagrees with, about a subject she has not even considered she might be wrong about.”
    But she works in a social and academic environment in which her peer group is so secure that they know they are right. It’s like working in a geography department and not questioning that the earth is spherical.

    “As a social scientist, she is guilty of what she accuses others. A hypocrite in otherwords, but she cannot even see it for what it is”
    Don’t be so condemnatory. How can she be a hypocrite if she works within her own academic environment and, presumably is true to it? Can you be hypocritical if you cannot perceive (or accept) an alternative?

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  34. Alan Kendall, she could do her next paper on the philosophy of hypocrisy, and conclude it was the fault of her neighbour’s cat flap. Unfortunately, that is the way that academic funding can be abused, which is not good for academics seeking funding, as those in the USA are finding out about Global Warming.

    Bath University has set a precedent for Student power. Rightly and wrongly, others will suffer the consequences.

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