John Mashey’s Amazon review of Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming by James Hoggan.

Anti-Science and Who Does It
Anti-science (or agnotology), seeks to cover-up or obscure science considered inconvenient, or at least create doubt in the minds of public and decision-makers. It seeks to replace knowledge with ignorance, and has no resemblance to normal arguments within science, by scientists.

Modern anti-science is most skilfully executed by a relatively small subset of lobbyists and PR agencies. Some of the most effective are actually “think tanks”. They have public identities distinct from their (often-unidentified) funders, and can often be labeled “non-profit”, thus avoiding the expense of taxes. They often seek funding in the same way as lobbyist/PR agencies, as is well-documented in the Tobacco Archives.

Such entities have played successful roles in activities like fending off tobacco regulation, fighting CFC regulation (“ozone hole”), fighting mercury regulation, etc. For some, their top priority has changed to obfuscating climate science. Anyone who can help keep children getting addicted to tobacco should find it easy to create confusion about climate.

So, if you wonder how and why so many people, especially in North America, are confused about the current state of climate science, this is an excellent introduction to the key players and tactics.


Sample Chapters and Topics

4 – The age of astroturfing
People respond better to “grass-roots” efforts than to PR from business. If no grass-roots efforts exist, then one can set up fake ones … astroturf.

8 – Denial by the pound
Within science, the only things that really count are:

  • publication in credible, peer-reviewed journals, a relatively low bar that mostly means “Not obviously wrong and might be worth reading.”

  • and surviving the high bar: widespread review by scientists in the field, to see if the results stand the test of time. Many don’t. A few don’t survive more than a few days.

But, if people cannot even get something over the low bar, they can try “petition science”, in which large numbers of names are collected, sometimes including people who object violently to their inclusion as misrepresentation.

This tactic is popular, but absurd:

If you have heart problems, and 10 of the world’s top cardiologists agree that you need a quad-bypass operation, do you listen to them? Suppose 10 brain surgeons sign a petition saying cardiologists know nothing about hearts. Do you believe that instead? Maybe the problem can be ignored?

How about a petition with 10,000 signatures … of brain surgeons, engineers, epidemiologists, economists, politicians, chemists, nuclear physicists, and maybe a handful of (mostly-retired or not very successful) cardiologists? Are 10,000 non-experts more believable than 10 non-experts? Are they more believable than 10 experts?

9 – Junk scientists
The same people who were often helped the tobacco industry now help others, using well-honed tactics and claims of non-existent expertise.

14 – Whitewashing coal
“Clean coal” isn’t. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, and used to work summers at the US Bureau of Mines, which tried to regulate the industry. Homes still collapse due to mine subsidence, although the coal companies departed long ago.

One topic that I hope will get more attention in any later editions is the role of certain wealthy family foundations in funding anti-science, as corporations are not the only funders. of course, this can be hard to track, given the complex web of funding that rather resembles money-laundering.

Summary
Those new to this topic will learn quite a bit of what goes on behind the scenes. Even those familiar with the topic will discover new connections – I certainly did.

Some Canadian references might be unfamiliar to Americans, but are useful, because they offer both similarities and contrasts. Also, Canada has many parallels with Australia (oil or coal exports), so Australians may find this instructive as well. Australian blogger Tim Lambert gets plaudits for his sleuth work. New Zealand cases are mentioned, and the UK is well-represented. Climate anti-science knows no borders.

This is an excellent introduction to an important topic. An informed citizen should not only understand a little climate science, but really needs to recognize the machinery of climate anti-science, which really does not want informed citizens.

Comments

  1. #1 Michael
    September 27, 2009

    Note to all the trolls, Dave included.

    Repeating known falsehoods is not ‘dissenting opinion’.

  2. #2 el gordo
    September 27, 2009

    Michael,

    being an ‘anti-troll’ is a worthwhile occupation, but your obvious skills in this area are under utilized.

    You really should get out more.

  3. #3 Chris O'Neill
    September 27, 2009

    I don’t mind if you counter my posts through argument but

    there is no point in having a blog where everyone agrees with and congratulates you on what you post

    being an ‘anti-troll’ is a worthwhile occupation

    This is why you’re called Dave “the strawman” Andrews.

  4. #4 Chris O'Neill
    September 27, 2009

    Sorry, they both should be called strawmen.

  5. #5 Hank Roberts
    October 3, 2009

    > +/-0.36 deg C oscillation about every 30 years

    Please show your arithmetic.
    You’re not just eyeballing pixels, are you?

  6. #6 bi -- IJI
    October 16, 2009

    > What about the crusade to propagate the myth of global warming?

    I smell a sock.

  7. #7 Mark
    October 16, 2009

    > What about the crusade to propagate the myth of global warming?

    > Posted by: Global warming=religion

    Well we can all see THIS sockpuppet isn’t biased, can’t we.

  8. #8 Mark
    October 16, 2009

    Your momma know you’re on teh internets, kid?

  9. #9 bi -- IJI
    October 16, 2009

    The Poor Man Institute once said,

    > Sure, you can always excuse it with the undisproveable claim that “the Democrats” would have done the same/worse, but sometimes, after using this 10-12 times a day, it’s got to start sounding like, well, an excuse.

  10. #10 Mark
    October 16, 2009

    Likewise, junior.

  11. #11 Mark
    October 16, 2009

    Well at least ONE thing is certain.

    If the denialists are reduced to this level, they are crapping their pants in fear that they aren’t being listened to any more.

  12. #12 Thomas T S Watson
    October 18, 2009

    My, I am a conscious worker who has worked on magnetic for many years and no one has offered me any money who has an environmental outcome to be won by my efforts.
    I have met Iam Plimer and found him to be warm, compassionate and a listener to others who oppose him. His book has more truth to it than what is portrayed as questionable and I believe that he must be given the reason for portraying what he is putting to the public as questionable answers to where we have been promoted by over $7,000 Million to promote that carbon Dioxide is a man made gas ans has caused this Climate Change.
    My book Climate Change Explained by Magnetism (ISBN 978-0-646-47722-0) supports his basic theory and I urge you to think beyond your pressured thoughts that there may be truth in what he is delivering and look carefully at what is around you and ask. Is the ocean really rising in my part of town/beach front? Your answer will be the same as mine. No. The tectonic plates may be moving down. tomw

  13. #13 Jeff Harvey
    October 18, 2009

    “I have met Iam [sic] Plimer and found him to be warm, compassionate and a listener to others who oppose him”

    How would you know what his views are on those who oppose him? Because of what he told you? You apparently agree with the man. Hence the courtesy. But as the drama with George Monbiot showed, those who seriously question the nonsense in his book are treated with contempt, probably because Plimer knows full well that much of it is gibberish.

    Climate change explained by magnetism? Sounds like another flat earth theory to me.

  14. #14 Bernard J.
    October 18, 2009

    Thomas TS Watson.

    A quick check of Amazon did not return any recognition of your book, and a search of your name gave the response:

    Check out our Thomas Wooden Railway products in Toys & Games.

    An [ISBN](http://isbndb.com/search-all.html?kw=978-0-646-47722-0) search both with and without the hyphens did not recognise the number you provided, nor was your name recognised when the middle initials were included.

    There is a [Thomas Watson](http://isbndb.com/d/person/watson_thomas.html), or several, but the principle output of this/these person/people is in Christian theology: there is nothing published on [Climate Change Explained by Magnetism](http://isbndb.com/search-all.html?kw=Climate+Change+Explained+by+Magnetism).

    So, you are either a poe who didn’t work very hard to conceal his poeness (but still a passable poe, nevertheless), or you are a troll with no imagination, or you are a completely deluded clown who lives in his own little la-la land.

    I’d opt for one of the latter two explanations, because your command of language, of grammar, and of sentence structure is so patently reflective of an ignorant person as to increase the likelihood that one or the other of these options is actually true.

    Of course, there is the possibility that your mangling of language is itself an example of poe-try, in which case your overall poe score increases appreciably!

    Whatever the real explanation, Ian Plimer remains firmly ensconced in the nutjob pseudoscience corner, from whence there is no hope of reputational salvation.

  15. #15 Bernard J.
    October 18, 2009

    How curious.

    A simple Google for “Thomas T S Watson” returns [this 'publication'](http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/3918860) (reviewed by [Nexus magazine](http://www.nexusmagazine.eu/nx14_1.html), I note), [this 'paper'](http://tiny.cc/oPgFI) (ahhh…), and nothing entitled “Climate Change Explained by Magnetism”, at least in the first 50 hits.

    Even without any evidence of the book to which you refer, I feel safe in concluding that you are a shining example of Dunning-Kruger Effect, blended with Emeritus Syndrome, and probably throwing in some of the aforementioned vacations to metaphorical countries.

    If you represent the company that Plimer keeps, it says quite a lot about the both of you.

    Let me guess: you have no formal, nor even directed, education in either physics or in climatology?

  16. #16 Bernard J.
    October 19, 2009

    Aw heck Thomas T. S. Watson, just in case modesty restrains your hand, I’ll post your bio from the ‘paper’ [Nature's Contribution to Climate Change](“http://tiny.cc/oPgFI).

    Tom Watson served as a Sergeant Draftsman Instructor in the RAAF. He began his
    research into magnetism when he observed a UFO in 1981 in Ballarat, Australia. He
    researches the harmonic relationship between the electron and the nucleus of all atoms.
    He is now the author of physics books and formulates gravitational values

    I’m still trying to understand the nature of your relationship to the [Australian Atomic Research Team](http://www.aart-jb.com/), and for that matter what Buttigieg is attempting when he says:

    Defining the mind as a magnetic force that relates to atomic functions will allow us to learn more about the fundamental physical properties of our minds. Will we one day consciously use our minds to control the forces that govern disease?

    There are some impressive and apparently orthodox conections within the AART group, but somehow I get the idea that the anchor is dragging in the sand…

  17. #17 P. Lewis
    October 19, 2009

    Search on “Thomas Watson” here for a somewhat rambling missive and self-promotion.

    Seems like it’s a self-publication or vanity-type publication.

    File under D-K and send him to the kill file.

  18. #18 Mark
    October 19, 2009

    Query for Thomas:

    what IS “formulates gravitational values” when it’s at home?

    Or is that streamofconsciousnessbollocks?

  19. #19 Bernard J.
    October 19, 2009

    Oh Thomaaasss…?

    Hmmm. Perhaps he’s been abducted.

  20. #20 Bernard J.
    November 1, 2009

    Where is Thomas?

    Is he under the bridge?

    No! That’s another troll!

    Is he in the cave?

    No! That’s another troll!

    Is he formulating “gravitational values”?

    No! That’s the Legislator of the Universe’s job – and s/he did that the first day at work!

    Is he “research[ing] the harmonic relationship between the electron and the nucleus of all atoms”?

    Of course not, because that makes no scientific sense – unless one is completely ignorant of physics, or is one of the scam-merchants so ripe for the ridiculing by the Feedback editors of New Scientist.

    Is he observing alien spacecraft or other UFOs?

    Well, quite possibly, but this doesn’t mean that what he thinks that he sees is actually what he is observing.

    Is he hiding his sorry arse so that he doesn’t have to justify [the garbage he posted](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/09/john_mashey_recommends_climate.php#comment-2006093) above.

    Yes! Of course he is!

    Hide, Tom, hide!

    [With apologies to Spot, and to Dick and Jane.]

  21. #21 Wow
    November 5, 2010

    > [With apologies to Spot, and to Dick and Jane.]

    And “Where’s My Cow”…

  22. #22 Bernard J.
    November 5, 2010

    [Wow](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/09/john_mashey_recommends_climate.php#comment-2904617).

    Oops, what an oversight!

    Yes, also apologies to “Where’s my Cow”. Mostly apologies to “Where’s my Cow?” Only a year late!

    No apologies though for bagging a fruit-loop. And speaking of fruitloops, why is this particular thread attracting advertisments for junk sites? Can they be delinked?

  23. #23 Tim Lambert
    November 5, 2010

    >why is this particular thread attracting advertisments for junk sites? Can they be delinked?

    Just one that I could see. It’s been marked as spam.

  24. #24 Gary Neal
    July 7, 2011

    Sometimes we talk about this in our Christian service network. We deal a lot with natural disasters and clean up so, logically, we discuss the reasons behind them. We come up with the conclusion of God mostly, but there have been discussions of global warming.