Climate, Corona, Bernie: Three Hysterias and a Conspiracy Theory.
It’s a depressing fact that the freethinkers on the internet whom I most admire for their courage, intelligence, and scepticism about the official line, who are doing for free or peanuts the job that journalists no longer do, nearly always let me down when it comes to climate change hysteria.
Take Craig Murray, the ex-ambassador sacked, insulted and defamed for his opposition to the use of torture by the British government. In a reasonable, well-argued, and compassionate article about the corona virus outbreak, he says in an aside:
As the human species continues to expand massively in numbers, and as it continues casually to make other species extinct, it is inevitable that the excessive and crowded human population will become susceptible to disease. As we see the catastrophic effects of human beings on the environment, including on other species and the climate, I am genuinely perplexed as to what are the underlying assumptions and goals of humankind.
And I am genuinely perplexed as to why someone who has been the victim of government lies which destroyed his career and almost destroyed him, believes anything they say. He knows they lie about Julian Assange, about the Skripals, about Iraq, Yemen and Syria. So why does he believe them about climate change?
Or take Caitlin Johnstone‘s latest: “Dear America, Please Stop This Nonsense Immediately. Love, The Rest Of The World:”in which she pleads with the Democrat Party not to hand the coming election to Trump by putting up a candidate who is in the advanced stages of senile dementia. In another recent article she gives 26 examples from recent public speeches by Joe Biden, including his mention of “Super Thursday” and these gems:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident. All men and women created by the, go, you know the, you know the thing.”
“I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. Look me over, if you like what you see help out, if not vote for the other Bi- gimme a look though okay?”
It’s not as if Caitlin is doing this as a paid up Bernie Sanders fan. In another article, thoughtfully titled: “Chris Cuomo is a Fucking Shitbag” she says of the CNN anchorman and brother and son of New York mayors:
If it weren’t for power-worshipping shitbags like Chris Cuomo constantly sticking their rapey fingers in people’s minds every day and adjusting their perceptions on what’s going on in the world, Bernie Sanders would be considered too far right for the political left to support and nobody would even know Joe Biden’s name.
But, and here’s the point, her plea to the USA not to commit Hara Kiri is summed up thus:
Please don’t do that to us, America. We just want a world that doesn’t get destroyed by climate chaos or World War 3 or the total collapse of civilisation We just want to live, dammit! We just want to live.
Two more Bidenisms have just emerged from a campaign speech he gave in Missouri:
“If you want to nominate a Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, a proud Democrat, an Obiden-Bama Democrat, join us.”
“…We cannot get re-elected, we cannot win this re-election, excuse me. We can only re-elect Donald Trump..”
I went to the Guardian, who reported his Missouri speech, but without those two quotes. The New York Times doesn’t seem to have a report on the speech so far. The mainstream media are conspiring to hide the fact that their favoured candidate for the presidential election is suffering from dementia.This is not some vague suspicion, blown up by Trump tweets. It’s obvious to any reasonable human being who knows what’s going on, which means anyone who doesn’t rely on the mainstream media. The Guardian and the NYT are part of a conspiracy to get Biden chosen as Democrat candidate and elected by hiding the obvious fact that his mind has gone. The Guardian and the NYT are as trustworthy as Pravda pre-1989. Are the Daily Telegraph or the Wall Street Journal any better? Someone enlighten me please.
Let’s talk about conspiracy theories. I’ve mentioned in three articles, this one, this one, and this one, three organisations in Britain and Europe currently investigating conspiracy theory belief. All three see it as something bad, associated with populist politics, and all three include climate scepticism among their conspiracy theories. The “Conspiracy and Democracy” group at Cambridge even changed their research programme in mid-course in order to include questions on Trump and Brexit, in order to demonstrate that those on the winning side in the 2016 US Presidential Election and the UK referendum were more likely to believe irrational conspiracy theories. In order to produce a series of questions which could be put in a number of different countries, the Cambridge group left out almost all possible actual conspiracies (the Kennedy assassinations, 9/11) leaving only Holocaust denial, contact with aliens, the truth about immigration, climate change, and suspicion of vaccines as concrete cases. The questions were worded so as to determine assent to vague assertions that “the government is deliberately hiding the truth..,” “the truth is being deliberately hidden from the public..” etc. The Cambridge professors have yet to produce their final report, but all indications are that it will find that the world divides into thick populist chavs who deny the Holocaust and climate change, and decent folk who would never believe that the government might lie to them.
The corona virus has given the debunkers a new subject to expostulate about. I must have seen or read a score of articles or TV programmes countering conspiracy theories on social media. All but one of them failed to mention either of the two interesting theories circulating: one involving the sudden dismissal of Dr Qiu and her husband from a Canadian biological weapons research laboratory, and the other concerning the fact that Wuhan, where the outbreak started, is home to China’s main biological weapons research facility. An item on French TV attempted to refute the possibility of a link between the outbreak and the Wuhan lab by pointing out that the virus definitely came from an animal, probably a bat, and thus must have originated in a place where there were live animals, namely the market, conveniently overlooking the undoubted fact that biological laboratories also contain live animals, plus the world’s top expert on bat-born viruses. Attenborough himself couldn’t have done a better job of alerting the normally sceptic rational human being to the fact that he was being lied to. Other facts I haven’t seen followed up on mainstream media are that the virus seems to attack Asiatics far more readily than Europeans, and that Wuhan recently hosted a kind of Military Olympic Games, meaning that it had as guests a number of members of the armies of the USA and other Western powers.
It would be nice to think that some new Watts or McIntyre with knowledge of medical biology might start a blog to explore some of the questions raised, and might in – say – five years time, (because that’s how long it takes when all you’ve got is a blog with informed readers) begin to produce interesting results. It’s more likely that such a person would die of a sudden shortness of breath in easily explained circumstances before their research bore fruit.
The identification of reasonable climate sceptics with holocaust deniers and all those who dare to suspect that our governments are not always entirely honest with us will have a wholly predictable result. When the lights go out, or flights are taxed out of reach, or electric cars start to accelerate silently into unsuspecting pedestrians before bursting into uncontrollable flames (google Tesla) people will turn to the only politicians who said: we told you so. And they won’t be the nice, reasonable (though rather conservative) Lord Lawson or Viscount Ridley.
No doubt MI6 and the CIA are fully aware of the danger, and are even now working on the problem. If you’re a young member of a rightwing climate sceptic party like the French Rassemblement National, heading for electoral success and eager to shake off the boring old racist policies of your elders, check that the wing nuts in your party aren’t agents provocateurs. And check that the wing nuts on your car wheels haven’t been loosened before you drive.
Sorrry but you seem to be in bed with conspiracy theorists yourself over Assange and Skripal, as well as Murray.
Climate change scepticism – by that I mean active, involved, deliberative, reasoned scepticism – seems to be the final frontier of distrust. So pervasive it seems has the belief in AGW become amongst the chattering classes – even those who may actively question the establishment narrative in other areas – that ‘hard’ climate scepticism has become the preserve of just a few diehard bloggers on the internet. I think this may be due to the fact that relatively few natural sceptics in the media are trained in the sciences or inclined to dig beneath the scientific cloak of respectability which AGW wears.
Geoff’s example of Caitlin Johnstone is particularly illuminating:
“Please don’t do that to us, America. We just want a world that doesn’t get destroyed by climate chaos or World War 3 or the total collapse of civilisation We just want to live, dammit! We just want to live,” she says, evincing the fact that the climate industrial complex has indeed been sticking its rapey fingers in her mind every day and adjusting her perceptions on what’s going on in the world. Which would be comical, if it were not so serious.
Steve McMcIntyre is an example of a broad spectrum sceptic who seems to question almost everything he comes across which doesn’t quite fit together, including climate science, because he has the broad skillset required to do just that. There are others, of course, but he’s one of the most prominent and influential.
But as Dennis points out, the science of climate change has become almost irrelevant in some respects to the debate about what to do about a problem that has never been properly, rigorously, scientifically quantified or qualified. The loonies have jumped the shark and they’re not coming back. So now it’s all about countering the lunatic fringe who are bizarrely dictating actual policies. Maybe people like Sherelle Jacobs will have more success in initiating a popular rebellion against net zero insanity than we sceptics have had in organising a rebellion against establishment climate science. I have hopes though that Trump will win a second term and set up the panel of experts he promised which will question the fundamental science also. A two-pronged attack on these nutters has to be better than coming at them from just one direction.
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You have to admit that “Obiden-Bama” does have a certain loonie genius about it. 😉
Part of the problem is that the non-scientific general public still tends to see science in terms of black-or-white provable truths and not quite appreciate that the results of experiments, even relatively simple ones, have to be interpreted, let alone the inordinately complex system(s) making up the climate.
They also ignore or forget that scientists are human beings with all the faults and failings of human beings.
And as you say, the generally non-science bias of most journalists does not help.
About that ‘settled science’ of climate change…
Upper tropospheric water vapor (UTWV) has a much greater impact on the greenhouse effect than water vapor in the lower atmosphere, but whether this impact is a positive or a negative feedback is still uncertain. The main challenge in addressing this question is the difficulty in monitoring UTWV globally over long timescales.
Nobody knows what’s really going on?
“Craig Murray, the ex-ambassador sacked, insulted and defamed for his opposition to the use of torture by the British government . . .”
Much as I respect Craig Murray’s often courageous exposés of the issues you mention (esp on the Skripals and Assange), they are, give or take, within his area of expertise and/or depend on (inevitably) anonymous contacts from within his former milieu. I have no issue with that – few, if any, can be expert on more than a narrow range of subjects.
Take him out of that ‘comfort zone’ and he’s as blinkered as anyone and not just on climate change. He fervently believes e.g. that Scotland can be ‘independent’ within the European Union (er, there’s a clue in the latter’s name); as you imply, he shares the misanthropic world view of many former FCO colleagues; he argues that Scotland was – and remains – ‘colonised’ by England despite one and all at last accepting that the Scotch were at the forefront of both the Atlantic slave trade and of the wider British imperial project. (He has a degree in modern history if you please.)
Only this morning he claimed that “The MSM hate Alex Salmond as a danger to the status quo”. Oh Dear. That myth was blown apart years ago by David Torrance’s excellent biography. The book showed what most up here already knew – that he was a run-of-the-mill, ex-lefty, centre-right politican with a political bee in his bonnet. See e.g. his NATO U-turn; quite the little apparatchik when the mood strikes.
In short, were it not for Murray’s competent and obdurate reporting, you wouldn’t take him seriously. But, as his reporting is competent, I do. (What I don’t get is why he didn’t set himself up as a meeja research thingie and join the NUJ. It’s what I did when I was involved in researching the wind power scam.)
“The mainstream media are conspiring to hide the fact that their favoured candidate for the presidential election is suffering from dementia.”
Don’t get me wrong. I think Joe Biden is corrupt, mendacious and dangerously bellicose – were he to drop dead tomorrow, I’d head for the pub but the theme that one’s opponents are either dim or gaga is a feature of many US presidential elections. See e.g. Ford, Reagan, baby Bush, Al Gore. Not to mention Trump. (Showing my age here.)
The US campaign trail is so surreal and so intensive that mental exhaustion is all but inevitable. A few fumbled words prove little. I can find no medically competent diagnosis that he has dementia. I’m not saying he hasn’t but I see no proof, only prattle from lazy journalists, most of who who couldn’t organise a conspiracy if their lives depended on it. Look e.g. at the Russiagate farce.
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Thanks very much for this Geoff. I’m rather sympathetic with what Ryelands has just said about Craig Murray. But one other thing in the guy’s favour was his frank admission he’d been quite wrong about Clement Freud. See the difference between April 2009 and Paedophilia and Politicians in October 2017. Not everyone does that.
The over-the-top climate concern expressed by Murray and others is truly a mystery. A cultural Behemoth that gives succour to a developing Leviathan that goes way beyond Locke’s ideals into authoritarianism and even totalitarianism. Yep, for the latest keep reading the book of Job, Andy!
On Covid-19 I was totally unaware of the departure of Dr Qiu and her husband from Canada and the Military Olympic Games in Wuhan. Thanks for that, as they say. But the practical thing right now is reducing the casualties worldwide. And that I think requires judicious trust in authorities like England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty. The conspiracist mindset isn’t always good with such paradoxes.
I’m currently fasting from Twitter but I did make an exception earlier for my brother’s birthday:
followed by another plug for the sensible young guy who’s amassing Our World in Data and our own Ross McKitrick:
People of good and honest hearts required. As always.
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Kung ‘Flu is the best name I’ve heard for it. That’s not racist is it? The WHO would probably disagree. Mind you, they think it can only be ‘acquired’, not ‘transmitted’, because the latter implies blame and in this snowflakey world of ours, we can’t be leveling that accusation at any unwitting person who happens to be going about their normal, daily life, totally unaware that they are handing out a potental death sentence to the people around them. My main bone of contention is that it’s not the ‘flu.
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Jaime: “the latter implies blame and in this snowflakey world of ours, we can’t be leveling that accusation …” I was self-censoring in quoting from my brother’s email. What his wife has said about one aspect of the current virus situation is both very funny and highly un-politically correct. And in fact, like all good humour, it has a rather deep truth attached. But I can’t repeat it publicly.
I was in the supermarket yesterday and got to a narrow space where an elderly lady was talking to a younger one. As I passed close by she coughed – clearly an involuntary action for which she was totally unprepared. So those little droplets could very easily have reached my own mouth.
What does one do? I was discussing this with a friend last night. I explained that I walked right on and didn’t make eye contact. Because that would have been to accuse her of something and I just wasn’t prepared to do that. Even if I die as a result, I just wouldn’t do that.
The WHO guidelines are I agree annoying but the underlying issue of caring for our neighbours, and all that might involve, is real.
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I agree with you about Murray’s position on Scottish independence and probably Alex Salmond, but one doesn’t expect a gadfly to always be right. My point is that forty years ago people like Johnstone and Murray would have had their place in the serious left-of-centre press. They are now at best ignored, at worse tarred with the brush of conspiracist-blogger-in-a-basement. Forty years ago it would have been possible to have a debate about the Skripals, Assange, or the supposed Russian interference in elections in a left of centre paper. There is no room for freethinking on the mainstream left now. Johnstone and Murray have their fans, but they are in the position of radicals in England post-Waterloo. It took half a century for something like a radical political movement to take concrete form, and another half century for it to form a party capable of winning elections. I can’t wait that long.
There was a touch of irony when I said “The mainstream media are conspiring…” but the Guardian and I think also the NYT have described the accusations against Biden Jnr as a conspiracy theory. That’s astonishing, given that his father is on record as boasting about pressuring the Ukraine into sacking the prosecutor. It’s beyond bias – a simple denial of the known facts.
You need to watch the video evidence provided by Johnstone. The decline in a few years is striking. This is not bumbling or the difficulties with syntax of a Bush or Reagan. And the press let us know every one of the gaffs of a Bush, Reagan or Trump. My point is that the NYT and the Guardian won’t do the same for Biden, who is not simply getting words wrong. He confuses his wife with his sister, and himself with someone else. The problem is not the brain failure of Joe Biden, but that of the Democratic Party and the media that supports him.
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I didn’t even check my references to the military games and Dr Qiu, which is unforgivable for someone who’s criticising journalistic standards.
Here’s some confirmatory links
The story of Dr Qiu originally came from greatgameindia dot com, but this site gives more links to associated matters
I’ve no idea whether these sources are reliable. The articles certainly don’t sound crazy. If the MSM were really concerned about combating fake news they’d be all over this story, checking and double checking. The fact that they’re not (are they?) suggests that they don’t care about finding the truth, but are simply weaponising terms like “fake news” and “conspiracy theory” in order to promote a line, which happens to be the official WHO/government/expert one, in precisely the same way as they promote the official UNCCC/government/green line on climate change.
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Richard, it’s impossible to avoid the risk of infection when you have to be in crowded, confined spaces next to other people – and we all have to, barring a few hermits living off their own land in isolated rural places. I’m going to start wearing an FFP3 mask with respirator when this thing takes off – like now. It doesn’t guarantee non-infection but it does at least greatly reduce the chances of inhaling the virus. It also greatly reduces the chance that you will pass it on to others if you are a carrier. The Chinese have no problems wearing masks but we Brits are a bit embarrassed and self conscious I feel. I haven’t seen anyone so far using a mask in public, but this will probably change if things get really bad. Surgical masks are next to useless btw.
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Jaime: I first saw someone wearing a mask in London twelve days ago, after I’d just come out of the tube for the first of some meetings in town fresh from the West Country. A person of Asian origin I think – and she didn’t look at all embarrassed. What our capital’s for – expanding one’s mind. But I’ll follow the CMO’s guidance on this for now I think.
Geoff: Thanks for the links but I’d googled and found plenty. As you say, in effect, who knows. Who or What Started the Wuhan Coronavirus Epidemic? was penned on 2nd March and covers a lot of ground. The idea “Asians Far More Susceptible to Coronavirus Than Other Races, More Likely to Die”, as a linked article puts it, seems to have been disproved just by Italy since. However, this is I think well-judged:
Our problem as sceptics of the climate kind. But I do trust Chris Whitty.
And my general heuristic at the moment is find good examples and follow them, not focus too much on the dark side. Thus I give you Willis Eschenbach:
And, as an example of the kind of citizen journalist you’re looking for in this post, Brian Cates:
“Your fight for climate realism is also inspiring.” Yes indeed.
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The major problem we face is the constant appeal to authority and the willingness of government agencies to distort to the point of lying, eg Paul Homewood’s recent pieces on the Met Office and the Environment Agency show prime examples.
Politicians get their info from government scientists and if they do any research it is via the House of Commons Library. I have been trying to inform my Conservative MP about the distortion of the Met Office anomaly graphs, but I think I am hurting his brain too much, as he hasn’t replied to my last couple of e-mails.
Check out this page at the Met Office for some serious distortions about science.
My Mp or yours will read this and say, why should I believe what you say, these guys are the experts, it’s the Met Office. This is the sort of thing schools will use, NGO’s will quote it, XR will feed off it. These people are the world’s leading climate scientists. Do read it.
Met Office examples include:
How are humans changing the climate?
“In the 11,000 years before the Industrial Revolution, the average temperature across the world was stable at around 14°C” Such certainty…
Guess what? In 1999 Phil Jones said: “although rarely used, the most widely quoted value for the global average for the 1961–1990 period is 14.0 C (or 57.2 F) https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/19595636.pdf.
And there’s GISS: https://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/faq/abs_temp.html
“For the global mean, the most trusted models produce a value of roughly 14°C, i.e. 57.2°F, but it may easily be anywhere between 56 and 58°F (13.3 -14.4C) and regionally, let alone locally, the situation is even worse.”
If the temperature was 14 C for 11000 years, and it still is, then the climate hasn’t changed…has it?
How about this?
“Burning fossil fuels produces energy, but also releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous monoxide into the air. Over time, large quantities of these gases have built up in the atmosphere. Once in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide form a ‘blanket’ around the planet.
This blanket traps the heat from the sun and causes the earth to heat up. This effect was noticed as far back as the 1980s. [That really makes me feel old!] In 1988, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up to provide governments with information to tackle climate change.
Evidence has shown that the high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the leading cause of increasing global temperatures.
Scientists have been able to rule out natural events as causes of climate change, such as volcanic activity, changes in solar activity, or natural sources of CO2. These may, however, have a small effect, on top of human contributions.”
Met office doesn’t do history; they say:
“The Industrial Revolution began in the mid-1800s when humans began to burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas for fuel.”
Began to burn?? Mid 1800’s?
The first steam engine was produced in 1698, the Watt steam engine in 1769, the first locomotive in 1804. In the 19th C they were worried about peak coal. https://editors.eol.org/eoearth/wiki/The_Coal_Question_(e-book)
“The Industrial Revolution, ……was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, the increasing use of steam power and water power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the mechanized factory system.
Rapid industrialization first began in Britain, starting with mechanized spinning in the 1780s, with high rates of growth in steam power and iron production occurring after 1800. Mechanized textile production spread from Great Britain to continental Europe and the United States in the early 19th century, with important centres of textiles, iron and coal emerging in Belgium and the United States and later textiles in France.”
With such false information as fact from an authoritative source, it shows how difficult it is to get through. And we are “denying” their science.
There is a lovely quote in the Coal e-book,
“The first great requisite of motive power is, that it shall be wholly at our command, to be exerted when and where and in what degree we desire. The wind, for instance, as a direct motive power, is wholly inapplicable to a system of machine labour, for during a calm season the whole business of the country would be thrown out of gear.
Before the era of steam-engines; windmills were tried for draining mines; “but though they were powerful machines, they were very irregular, so that in a long tract of calm weather the mines were drowned, and all the workmen thrown idle. From this cause, the contingent expenses of these machines were very great; besides, they were only applicable in open and elevated situations. No possible concentration of windmills, again, would supply the force required in large factories or iron works”
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I hadn’t heard of Craig Murray before this. I’ve started reading ‘The Catholic Orangemen of Togo’ which I found on Scribd. I get the impression that he felt there was some competence among people of his level in the foreign office about Africa, but the politicians were inclined to stuff things up.
It seems to me as though he might similarly feel that the technocrats and scientists are generally in the right about agw and that the various rounds of political talkfests have mostly amounted to political pious declarations and kicking the can down the road. Perhaps this might be more or less his default view of the way governments work, due to bitter experience.
I would have thought that he would have noticed the selective enrichment of some interested parties in the actions that have been taken though, and that this might trigger his bs detector.
Chiming in with Cliscep overnight, Eric Weinstein on a better kind of conspiracy theorising:
The only other episodes of Eric’s podcast I’ve listened to were his quite wonderful interviews of mathematical physicist Roger Penrose and his own brother, Bret. This is different again – and makes the same point Geoff does about the failure of the media to do anything like an investigation, in this case of Jeffrey Epstein.
As Wikipedia will tell you, rather ungrammatically, “Eric Ross Weinstein is the managing director of Thiel Capital, Peter Thiel’s personal investment firm, since 2015.” And Thiel is the nearest thing to a public climate sceptic in the tech venture capital world. Weinstein has a deep understanding of physics but doesn’t I think speak out so publicly about the idiocies of climate policies. But interesting.
Worth a read if you’re a subscriber or can access it as one of two free articles, as a guest (as I just did):
“America has a choice between two kinds of crazy
It’s barmy uncle Joe vs Trump the orange bully”