You may have heard about the recent crackdown by internet providers on purveyors of Fake News, which began by the banning of Alex Jones by Facebook and Twitter.
First they came for the loony rightwing racist chemtrail conspiracy theorist
But I wasn’t a loony rightwing racist chemtrail conspiracy theorist
So what me worry?
Then it got worse, with search engines like Google installing new algorithms which apparently reduced traffic by 50% for middle-of-the-road far left (if you follow me) sites like Counterpunch.
Counterpunch may be far left, but among their regular contributors were Uri Avnery, ex-member of Irgun and the Knesset, and Paul Craig Roberts, who was an advisor to Ronald Reagan. These people are not Trotskyist clones. One of Counterpunch’s founders was Alexander Cockburn, one of those rare birds, a left wing climate sceptic, who lost out in a famous spat with George Monbiot because of having quoted something from someone who once sat on a chair warmed by an ex-spokesman for the KuKluxKlan, or something. Hence climate scepticism cannot exist in a leftwing climate, Q.E.D.
And sure enough, it doesn’t. Counterpunch now publishes the kind of lunatic climate hysteria which even the Guardian or New York Times wouldn’t touch. Why should you believe anything they say about international capital or incipient fascism in Brazil when they write bollocks about global warming?
When we started this site three years ago, we thought long and hard about a name, and decided to call it “Climate Scepticism” quite simply in order to gather hits from people interested in the subject of – climate scepticism. This worked well for a while. If you googled “climate scepticism” you found our site right away. Then a while back I noticed our readership tailing off a bit, while the standard of posts continued to be excellent. Furthermore, the lurkers who click the odd “recommend” to an article or a comment weren’t always the same, which suggested we were picking up new readers, which was encouraging. But Google wasn’t bringing them in.
For a long time, if you googled “climate scepticism” you found this site on the first page of your search, right after Wiki. I’ve just looked, and we’re now on page 4, number 36, right after the Grantham Institute’s webpage on climate scepticism, and just behind an article in the Zambian Mail and Guardian (“Africa’s Best Read”) titled “The persistence of climate scepticism in the media.”
Now I’m quite happy to believe that the Zambian Mail and Guardian has a greater readership than our site, and that they deserve it. But if the criterion for ordering entries is readership of articles titled “climate scepticism,” how do you explain page one of a search for “climate scepticism” on Google?
The first entry is: How climate scepticism turned into something more dangerous … by David Runciman, and it’s one of the Guardian’s Long Reads.
Well that makes sense. It’s got ‘climate scepticism’ in the title. Though I bet it doesn’t get many hits, since the Guardian’s Long Reads are targetted to traditional Graun readers who can scroll down for more than 30 seconds and read without moving their lips – an endangered species..
David is the great nephew of Sir Steven Runciman, author of “a History of the Crusades” the definitive account of the first (unsuccessful) attempt to persuade those desert chappies to keep it in the ground…
(Where was I?)
The second entry is: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-change-scepticism
which is of course the world’s most activist site devoted to suppressing climate scepticism. They have 1,774 articles on the subject. It’s as if you googled “Judaism” and were led to an anti-semitic site with 1,774 articles thereon. They would certainly be relevant. But the most relevant?
The third entry is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial
Climate change denial, or global warming denial, is part of the global warming controversy. It involves denial, dismissal, or unwarranted doubt that contradicts the scientific opinion on climate change, including the extent to which it is caused by humans, its impacts on nature and human society, or the potential of adaptation to global warming by human actions.[Some deniers endorse the term, while others prefer the term climate change skepticism. Several scientists have noted that “skepticism” is an inaccurate description for those who deny anthropogenic global warming…
It’s normal that Wikipaedia should figure high in Google’s search results. But why should a search for “climate scepticism” lead me to the Wiki article on “Climate change denial,” unless there’s something in their algorithm which equates scepticism with denial?
Results four and five are:
Climate change scepticism is when people are not yet convinced by the current evidence that emissions of man-made CO2 notably enhance the natural …
Examines the science and arguments of global warming skepticism. Common objections like ‘global warming is caused by the sun’, ‘temperature has changed…
and so on. Of the 35 sites on “climate scepticism” you’ll hit on Google before you find the one entitled “climate scepticism” 33 are devoted to countering climate scepticism.
Try to imagine a moment if you googled “Mozart” and found thirty three sites denigrating Mozart before you found one that appreciated his music. I’m willing to believe that 97% of the population don’t like Mozart, and even that the remaining 3% are in the pay of the musico-industrial complex, but – hey Google, couldn’t you cut us some slack and let us live a little? It’s only an opinion, after all.
[In the course of writing this, I googled “banned by Facebook.” The first site offered was Wikipaedia’s entry for “Censorship of Facebook” (“Several countries have interfered with or banned access to the social networking website Facebook…”)
I want to know who Facebook has banned, and Google tell me who has banned Facebook. Interesting, but not what I asked.
Oh for Latin with its inflections, its distinction between the ablative and the accusative… St Thomas Aquinas wouldn’t have stood for it, nor would Francis Bacon. Why should we?]