Not that long ago, in a galaxy just around the corner, I had occasion to take to task one of the BBC’s storm-trooping disinformation reporters over an article she had written. It was calling out Facebook for being on the Dark Side, and our Jedi heroine, a certain Merlyn Thomas, was taking on the evil Mark Zuckerberg, armed only with a degree in Arabic and French and the lightsaber of truth; which is to say a big red ‘False’ that she could use to zap any statement that threatened the Galactic Republic. The Force is indeed strong in the Zuckerberg, but Merlyn’s gravest warning was reserved for a much more dangerous and pervasive peril:
“The climate crisis is increasingly becoming the new culture war, with many of the same individuals who for years have sought to stoke division and polarise opinion now viewing climate as the latest front in their efforts.”
I wondered at the time just who these lords of the dark energy might be and just what they had hoped to gain by all of that stoking and polarizing. I assumed they wore black and only came out at night, but beyond that I had little clue as to their DNA profile, let alone where they got the money to pay for their Death Star – Ms Thomas was strangely protective of their identity. That is, until now.
Declining the not so hidden
For her next gallant offensive against the offensiveness of free speech, Merlyn teamed up with fellow crusader, Marco Silva, to take on the galactic menace of a particularly sneaky and sinister group called the Creative Society. Just how sneaky this society is could be discerned from the article’s headline:
“How high-profile scientists felt tricked by group denying climate change”
Trickery indeed? But is this just another of those harmless mathematical tricks that the BBC likes to dramatize? Apparently not. This trick was a lot more subtle and entrapping. What the Creative Society did was to send out invitations to experts asking them to contribute towards one of their online conferences, using only the words ‘Creative Society’ on the letterhead to give any clue as to the identity of those making the invitation. The poor experts who failed to decline the invitation discovered too late (and to their horror) that the Creative Society was actually a group with some rather unorthodox theories about what is causing climate change. Of course, these ‘tricked’ experts hadn’t bothered to check beforehand what they were getting into. Take, for example, Dr Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, in Bangladesh. Merlyn and Marco take up the story:
“When Creative Society volunteers invited him for an interview, he simply didn’t think very much about it’. He had been told the footage would be shown at an international conference, he said, but had not asked who the other contributors would be. And only after it aired, last year, did he realise something was amiss.”
Now, you and I might suggest that Dr Huq hadn’t been tricked at all – he was just an idiot. However, the BBC smelled a rat:
“But why would the group interview people it fundamentally disagrees with?”
I don’t know, Merlyn. Perhaps it’s because they don’t share the BBC’s contempt for people who happen to disagree with something they have to say.
So who are these guileless tricksters?
Contrary to the BBC headline, the Creative Society does not actually deny that climate change is taking place – in fact, they are very worried about it. It’s just that they think that the anthropogenic contribution is overplayed and the real cause has something to do with “cosmic pulses” and “cyclicity”. The scientists who walked blindly into their lair had been invited because the society was keen to cherry-pick any expert statements that appeared to cast doubt on the orthodox alternative. I don’t condone this practice (cue mocking laughter from the gallery) but, just maybe, if the scientists concerned had not been so keen to flaunt themselves at what they assumed to be yet another climate alarmist shindig, they wouldn’t have come to grief so easily.
So, other than it being insidious and a little bit loopy, what else do you need to know about the Creative Society? Well first of all, Merlyn would wish you to know that they are omnipresent and influential:
“The group runs a network of more than 200 accounts – with hundreds of thousands of followers – across all major social media platforms…Broadcast in dozens of languages, they have amassed thousands of views online.”
Oh dear. Does this mean that the BBC has a competitor? Maybe not, but whatever the society lacks in outreach it more than compensates with its aura of mystery:
“But its structure and finances are opaque…It remains unclear how the Creative Society is funded but Mr Prudkov insists members are volunteers devoting their free time to the cause.”
So, in that respect, it’s a bit like Cliscep, I imagine. And yet they are much more fanatically committed to their cause:
“The group’s last two conferences went on for more than 11 hours.”
My God! Eleven hours? Even COP26 only went on for… Okay, fair enough, but that’s hardly the point. The point is that 11 hours is still a long time.
But, above all, they are deniers:
“The group has uploaded videos on YouTube falsely describing greenhouse gases as ‘the scam of the century’.”
Well, that’s just downright naughty of them. But should we be taking the word of a pair of BBC disinformation reporters on all of this? Is the Creative Society really an organisation established for the purposes of climate change denial, or are they something completely different?
And now for something completely different
Naturally, the BBC does not want you to visit a climate denier’s website, and so no link is provided. Nevertheless, for those who have a penchant for finding things out for themselves, or are still in the thrall of the evil Zuckerberg, this is no real obstacle. And upon visiting the Creative Society’s website one thing is immediately obvious: It is first and foremost a humanist society that wishes the world to embrace its humanist credo. Consequently, you will read foundational statements such as:
- All People are born free and equal
- No one and nothing in society has the right to create threats to the life and freedom of a Human!
- Ideology should be aimed at popularizing the best human qualities and stopping everything that is directed against a Human.
And more controversially, as far as the average water melon is concerned:
- Everyone has the right to private property and income, however within the limits of the individual’s capitalization amount set by the society.
The negative impact of humans on the environment is not ignored, but the society’s members happen to think that this is limited to non-climatic influences. Instead, cosmic cyclicity is invoked to make good the destructive shortfall. It is for this reason that the society is keen to stage forums to which any scientist who speaks of natural cycles is invited. The agenda for their next forum on this subject is clearly spelled out on the website, and so such invitees cannot claim to have been trapped.
All of which raises an important point. The ideological differences between the Creative Society and a social justice warrior such as Merlyn Thomas are not so pronounced. Both are keen to promote equality and human rights, and both are deeply concerned about the impact we are having on the environment. The difference lies in the fact that the Creative Society places humanism at the centre of its ideology and questions the extent to which humans can be held responsible for changing the climate. As humanists, they believe in freedom of speech on such issues and look towards the scientific community for any support they can get for their openly held views. However, despite having much in common with the society, Merlyn cannot condone their questioning of climate change orthodoxy and, perforce, has to portray them as a secretive, scheming and pernicious cult that exists only to ‘stoke division and polarise opinion’.
Well, I say shame on you Merlyn. I’m not about to sign up for the Creative Society any time soon, but I think I have more time of day for such a group than I do for a pair of journalists who misinform under the protective moniker of ‘disinformation specialist’.