The BBC is reporting that

Climate change denial is spreading unchecked on Facebook, two studies by disinformation researchers have found. The Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue said less than 10% of misleading posts were marked as misinformation. And the CCDH researchers linked the majority of these to just 10 publishers.

How did the researchers do it?

Researchers used social media analytics tool Newswhip to search for strings of key words including “climate change”, global warming” and, “fraud”, “hoax”, “cult”, “scam”, “lie” and so on….

Ah, so if you use Certain Words, researchers can spot if you’re spreading misinformation. Hence the title of this article, aimed at getting Cliscep noticed in the Great Fake Social Science Scam Algorithm Method Cloud of Unknowing which BBC Checkers take for Reality.

Highly shared articles made false assertions that climate change was not confirmed by science or claimed to debunk it with data. Of these, 69% could be traced back to just 10 “super-polluter” publishers – dubbed the “toxic ten” – the campaign group found.

So, “claiming to debunk a claim with data” gets you labelled as a “denier” (also a “toxic,” “extremist” “conspiracy theorist” – see below.)

But there’s more:

These posts represent the most extreme types of outright climate denial, according to the CCDH. They can’t tell us the true scale of climate misinformation on the site but they do indicate climate conspiracy content is spreading without being labelled or removed by Facebook. Campaign group Stop Funding Heat, working together with think tank the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), said it had found far more misinformation which more generally “undermines the existence or impacts of climate change, the human influence on climate change, and the need for urgent action”.

We at Climate Scepticism have never knowingly “undermined the existence of climate change,” which is probably why we didn’t make it to Hate’s top ten. That’s because, unlike the BBC’s Reality Check Team, we understand the English language.

And there’s worse:

Counter-extremism think tank the ISD discovered during the 2021 German election that most of the top shared posts relating to renewable energy on the site (18 out of 25) either doubted climate change or criticised climate action.

Think about that. The BBC disapproves of “criticising climate action,” especially during an election campaign, citing the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Strategic dialogue is presumably the sort that doesn’t involve criticism. Not before an election, anyway.

The BBC, being a responsible mainstream media organisation, doesn’t actually name any of the toxic extremist conspiratorial sites that “undermine the existence or impacts of climate change.” The two BBC Reality Checkers Rachel Schraer & Kayleen Devlin just flatulate in a vacuum. To understand what the BBC is talking about, you have to go to The Center for Countering Digital Hate website and download their report. There you’ll learn that the toxic ten are:

1) Breitbart, the disinformation site once run by Steve Bannon

2 Western Journal, whose founder claimed President Obama is Muslim

3)  Newsmax, a key promoter of election fraud conspiracies

4)  Townhall Media, founded by the Exxon-funded Heritage Foundation

5)  Media Research Center, a “think tank” that received funding from Exxon

6)  The Washington Times, founded by self-proclaimed messiah Sun Myung Moon

7)  The Federalist Papers, a site that has promoted Covid misinformation

8)  Daily Wire, one of the most engaged-with publishers on Facebook

9)  Russian state media, pushing disinformation via RT.com and Sputnik News

10)  Patriot Post, a secretive conservative site whose writers use pseudonyms

Steve Bannon, Exxon, Sun Myung Moon, Russian state media – enough said. But here are some of the specific charges made against the toxic ten:

On Breitbart:

US contributor John Nolte and Breitbart London’s executive editor James Delingpole both having repeatedly referred to climate change as a “hoax” pushed by so-called “climate alarmists”.

Climate Alarmists? What’s that? You mean people who say things like:

We are at a climate tipping point. Delayed action means humanity will be forced to endure continual and worsening surges in heat waves, droughts, typhoons and hurricanes, rising sea levels, and the degradation of our food supply. It is the greatest crisis ever faced by our species.

That’s from the introduction to Digital Hate’s Toxic Ten report. Alarmist? Us?

On Newsmax:

During the pandemic, Newsmax published an op-ed describing the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a “lifesaver” for people infected with Covid, despite it being an ineffective and potentially unsafe treatment for the disease.

On Town Hall Media:

Townhall Media’s sites have published false or misleading claims on Covid and vaccines, including unproven allegations about dangerous side effects of vaccines and the efficacy of horse-dewormer ivermectin as a treatment.

On Media Research Center:

The site often uses the phrase “climate alarmist” to refer to people who highlight the threat of climate change. This NewsBusters article brands climate science as “alarmism” and promotes the suggestion that “so-called ‘hottest year’ claims… are political statements designed to persuade the public that the government needs to take action on man-made climate change.”

The Federalist Papers

…has pushed misinformation about the US elections and Covid, including unproven claims about anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine being an effective treatment for Covid. This Federalist Papers article included in our sample claims that leftists “use climate change to scare people into submission” and that their predictions have been “wrong every time”.

The Daily Wire

“…publishes misleading climate content, including the debunked claim that after the winter storm of February 2021, wind turbine failures led to power outages across Texas. “ This Daily Wire article included in our sample alleges that “the Left never really relies on the scientific method” when it comes to climate change and green policies, but rather “intimidates its opponents into silence”.

On RT and Sputnik:

Disinformation campaigns waged by RT.com include coverage ahead of the US 2020 election that “amplified voices of chaos” with headlines such as … “election teeters on the verge of chaos”.

The Patriot Post

“…repeatedly touted anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, as an effective Covid treatment.”

Oh, by the way, any attempt on the part of deniers to link the Covid crisis with the climate crisis is evidence of toxic extremist conspiracy theorising. While DigiHate and the BBC are free to theorise that there’s a conspiracy on the part of cult leaders and conservative millionaires to make the link between Covid and climate. Or something.

Full marks to Operation Hate though for publishing the Boolean Query they used to identify climate denialism (Nice expression, “Boolean Query.” I like it. Careful how you spell “query” though, or the Hate Police might get you.)

Here it is:

(climate OR “global warming” OR “climate change”) AND (alarmism OR alarm OR alarmist OR fraud OR hysteria OR hoax OR panic OR climategate OR realism OR hypocrite OR hypocrisy OR cult OR scare OR manipulation OR manipulated OR scam OR lie OR marx OR marxism OR soros OR “solar minimum” OR “agenda 21” OR “climate lockdowns” OR “agenda 2030” OR “new world order”) AND NOT(“climate denial” OR “climate denier”)

Got that? Mention Marx (Karl or Groucho) and Climate in the same article, or Climate and Solar Minimum, or (perish the thought) Climate and Realism, and you’re a Denier, i.e. (still according to Hate) someone who spreads “Deceptive or misleading content that undermines the existence or impacts of climate change, and the need for corresponding urgent action.”

So don’t Undermine those Impacts, or mention Realism, or you’ll be the subject of a Boolean Query on the part of the Strategic Dialogue enforcers and the Hate Police. And a Facebook ban, if the BBC gets its way.

19 Comments

  1. footnote:
    The other great thing about their Boolean Query is that if you actually mention the word “denier,” then you’re not one. Hallelujah I’m a Boolean reject.

    Like

  2. Dang, that’s my draft article on this topic binned! Oh well, great minds think alike, and well done for beating me to the punch.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh darn, I don’t read any of those ‘Toxic Ten’. Are you absolutely sure I need them to establish my denier status? Perhaps I’m only a lukewarm denier after all and can return to polite society with only a few stains showing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry, Mark, but my Hate Speech Detection algorithm has just flagged your comment for using “punch” and “beating”.

    Sir, I’m going to need you to step away from that keyboard now!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Well, my draft article hadn’t got very far, but it was going to include a quotation from Marcus Aurelius, to use to back up my claim that much “fact-checking” is really nothing more than the expression of disapproval for opinions that the “fact-checker” doesn’t like:

    “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was also going to say:

    “Many people set themselves up as guardians of the truth, as callers-out of misinformation. I do it myself in my own small way, for example when (in “Losing the Plot”*) I criticised the Guardian for its reporting of a study on deaths arising from extreme heat and cold, which the Guardian reported in such a way as to suggest that extreme heat was the problem, whereas the study found that deaths from extreme cold were much more common than deaths from extreme heat.”

    My point there is that these debunkers and fact-checkers aren’t much interested in the climate misinformation so often propagated by the BBC and the Guardian. It’s only the “wrong” sort of “misinformation” that is to be called out, apparently. Which, in its own way, makes the article and the study it reports on, acts of misinformation themselves, in my opinion. Ironic, that.

    Like

  7. More irony is that the climate misinformation organ that is the Guardian, also reports the story:

    “Climate misinformation on Facebook ‘increasing substantially’, study says
    A new analysis reveals that thousands of climate misinformation posts received up to 1.36m views everyday”

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/nov/04/climate-misinformation-on-facebook-increasing-substantially-study-says

    “The study’s release coincides with the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow and it urges governments to seriously consider the role of climate misinformation on social media in derailing the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    “This is where the ambitions of Cop26 and the revelations of the Facebook Papers collide, with our data showing Facebook is among the world’s biggest purveyors of climate disinformation,” researchers said.”

    Coincides with COP 26, eh? I wonder why? I think we can be pretty sure it isn’t a coincidence. Irony piled on irony.

    “This “rampant” spread of climate misinformation is getting substantially worse, said Sean Buchan, the research and partnerships manager for Stop Funding Heat. Interactions per post in its dataset have increased 76.7% in the past year, the report found.

    “If it continues to increase at this rate, this can cause significant harm in the real world,” he said.”

    As Marcus Aurelius might have pointed out, that last statement is an opinion rather than a fact, a perspective not the truth. Perhaps it even constitutes misinformation? Just a thought.

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  8. Mr. Geoff Chambers, Forensic analysis of the titles of your recent written outputs suggest that you would greatly benefit from a yearly subscription to our monthly magazine (in full colour) “Scatological News”. You may even be eligible for free gifts.

    We will be writing to JIT soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Mark.
    There’s plenty of room for two or more articles on this. The BBC article mentions two studies. I didn’t even look at the second one, by “Stop Funding Heat” and the “Institute for Strategic Dialogue.”

    Note how the BBC is using this technique of merging two articles into one message as a way of reinforcing its intensity – a tactic referred to in certain circles as double teaming, I believe.

    The first known use of this technique in climate science formed a major sub plot in the Climategate emails, as analysed by Andrew Montford in “Caspar and the Jesus Paper.” It was also used by the BBC’s Security reporter when he claimed that the Trick’s author Owen Sheers approached him about the security aspects of Climategate, thus prompting him to making his “Hack that Changed the World” radio series – an unlikely order of events that curiously mirrors the relation between lawyers for the Clinton election campaign and the FBI. (You tell me, then I tell you, and we both have sources to rely on when we tell everyone else.)

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  10. Stop Funding Heat’s report’s taxonomy came from a paper co-authored by John Cook and its writer is a Skeptical Science fan. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the report is utter bollocks but here is a recent blog post by its author setting out what he means by ‘climate skeptic’, ‘climate denier’ and ‘climate misinformation’.

    URL:stopfundingheat.info/climate-denial-in-ads/what-is-climate-misinformation-and-climate-disinformation-all-you-need-to-know/

    In short, scepticism is denial and so is misinformation. What counts as misinformation (and therefore denial)?

    Casting doubt on the movement – climate scientists, activists, the media or celebrities that may talk about it. E.g. “DiCaprio wants us to cut emissions, but I don’t see him walking to his job every day”

    Downplaying the potential future cost of climate change e.g. “if we just grow our economies, we will find technological solutions” – or, only focusing on the cost of adaptation without mentioning the even bigger cost of not acting e.g. “everyone is going to need a new boiler – who is going to pay for it?”

    Framing the situation as hopeless, so we may as well not act E.g. “why should our country reduce emissions if China will never do so?”

    Okey-dokey. Questioning hypocrisy or local mitigation tactics or the global mitigation strategy makes you a denier of climate change.

    A not unfamiliar take on things and almost certainly not the first time it has been the basis for a report puffed by the Beeb.

    Still weird, though.

    The SFH report can be downloaded here:

    URL:stopfundingheat.info/facebook-in-denial/

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thanks Vinnie. I’ve been thinking of making a (semi-humorous) climate change glossary, and that is actually almost exactly what I had down for “denier.” (I thought I was exaggerating a smidge: seems not.) The definition of “alarmist” may well be “everyone else.”

    Like

  12. ‘The definition of “alarmist” may well be “everyone else.”‘

    How dare you!

    Things are a lot more complicated than that, Jit.

    For example, this scientific graph shows how the Net Zero concept swooped down on the BBC and knocked it into obscurity, yet left the mainstream alarmist camp untouched:

    https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=alarmists%2Cwe%27re+doomed%2Cnet+zero%2Cnow+relax%2Cbeeb%2Cbendell&year_start=2000&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=1&case_insensitive=true#

    Can your simplistic, bigoted assumptions about what constitutes alarmism explain that?

    I thought not.

    Science is science. Deal with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. On the subject of the BBC being economical with the truth, here’s what the 7 million Today Programme Radio 4 listeners were told by a newsreader and Gordon Corera yesterday morning.

    Apparently, Steve Mosher was a sceptic, had a role in the Climategate release, and has since accepted that global warming exists.

    Radio 4 news, 8am 5 Nov, transcript

    Newsreader: A former climate change sceptic has told the BBC he wants to apologise for his role in the release of hacked documents from the University of East Anglia more than a decade ago. Bloggers used the documents to argue that climate change wasn’t real, in what became known as Climategate. Our security correspondent Gordon Corera reports.

    GC: In 2009 a hacker broke into the computer systems of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and stole thousands of emails and documents. They were passed to climate change sceptics who used them to try to claim that the science about global warming had somehow been falsified. Steve Mosher, although not the hacker, was a key figure, selecting emails he thought would be most damaging and promoting the material. He told the BBC he now wanted to apologise to the scientists for what he had done. He also said that after the hack he ran his own models using the UEA data. He found the results and conclusions reached by the university, that climate change existed, were correct.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. For a second there I dismissed Geoff’s reference to “Stop Funding Heat” as a Freudian typo, but then, in the very next comment, Vinny spelled it the same way.

    Having now heard it twice, from non-identical sources, I was forced to promote the existence of such an org from Rumor to Fact. (See: scientific method, the.)

    Now all our opponents have to do is criminalize heat speech.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. @Paul Matthews – thanks for the comment
    partial quote –
    “Steve Mosher, although not the hacker, was a key figure, selecting emails he thought would be most damaging and promoting the material. He told the BBC he now wanted to apologise to the scientists for what he had done. He also said that after the hack he ran his own models using the UEA data. He found the results and conclusions reached by the university, that climate change existed, were correct.”

    that was not what the hack/leak/something else was about.

    can’t believe Mosher has said that !!!!

    in the old days at CA, bender would ask for him to clean the pool.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Brad I do so hope that this is not just a flying visit to be followed by another long, long silence. When I think of all the world’s inanities where we did not have your “specialist” input…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Naturally enough, the Steven Mosher apology has not gone unnoticed over at ATTP:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2021/11/12/the-hack-that-changed-the-world/

    As far as the ATTP faithful are concerned, the argument seems to boil down to character failings that are the hallmark of those who were disturbed by what Climategate revealed. Not for the first time, and I suspect not for the last, Professor Rice chooses to draw attention to what he sees as a lack of charity. I agree with him that charity often seems to be in short supply, but this is surely the case on both sides of the debate. To suggest that this failing is a peculiar characteristic of the sceptic is taking moralizing too far, particularly when coming from one who cannot bring himself to refer to sceptics without using inverted commas.

    When all of the ya boo sucks have died down, there are still some serious implications of the Climategate emails that many of us still believe are worthy of further reflection. If that is being uncharitable of us, then I suppose the only alternative for us would be to salve our souls with gullibility.

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  18. Has Steve Mosher of the by-now famous ‘Steven Mosher apology’ said anything in print about this? Or are we relying solely on the good offices of the BBC to report his views fully and fairly? (I found time to ask the question but not to click on ATTP. But it has puzzled me, the picture presented on this here blog.)

    Like

  19. Thomas Fuller continues to be uncharitable towards Phil Jones over at ATTP:

    “And, while sympathetic to his plight, what he did was not legal and that’s what led to his troubles.”

    Thomas’ judgment has led to the following rebuke from Professor Rice:

    “Given that there were 8 enquiries and none of them found that anything illegal had taken place, this claim of yours would seem to not be true. Maybe you could be more careful when making such claims here.”

    Well, I know only too well how careful one needs to be when making claims over at ATTP, and so I shall make them here instead:

    Firstly, I have to say that it is not clear to me whether or not the ‘8 enquiries’ alluded to by Professor Rice includes the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) enquiry, but since that was the only one set up to investigate the possibility of illegality we should be focused upon it, and it alone. This is what the ICO had to say to The Sunday Times on the subject:

    “The emails that are now public reveal that Mr Holland’s requests under the Freedom of Information Act were not dealt with as they should have been under the legislation”.

    This is, of course, the very definition of illegality. In a later correspondence with the UEA, the ICO clarified further by stating:

    “The prima facie evidence from the published emails indicate an attempt to defeat disclosure by deleting information. It is hard to imagine more cogent prima facie evidence”.

    Of course, there is a difference between an enquiry acknowledging that it had been presented with ‘cogent prima facie evidence’ of illegality and that enquiry concluding that illegal actions had taken place. However, this fine distinction only exists in this instance because the statute of limitations that applies to such prosecutions prevented such an enquiry from being pursued to a conclusion.

    I hope that this appraisal is careful enough for Professor Rice. In the meantime, I have to say those who are not concerned when the ICO speaks of ‘cogent prima facie evidence’ of illegality are themselves guilty of gross complacency.

    Liked by 1 person

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