Oregon Petition and the right

John Quiggin uses the Oregon Petition to illustrate the way the right insulates itself from knowledge about the world:

This kind of thinking is by no means unique to the contemporary right. But it is ubiquitous, and the staying power of the Oregon petition indicates way. Even the silliest claim, once made part of the canon must be defended to the last. In extreme cases, there is the option of dropping an utterly discredited talking point and then saying “we never said that”. This is one thing the Internet has made much harder, with the perverse result that obstinacy in error has become more entrenched.

In a follow-up post he looks at whether it is possible to find a similar example on the left.

Update: Here is a picture of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and its staff:

i-296388beca612b2c4501a76cb72c98de-oism.jpg

Comments

  1. #1 carrot eater
    May 5, 2010

    There’s surely much agnotology on the left (a word I’ve never used before today, mind), but Quiggin has set narrow goalposts for what counts as a similar example.

    That said, the narrowness of the goalposts illustrates a point. This (claims relying on the Oregon Petition) isn’t a matter of perspective or some subjectivity, it isn’t clouded by ambiguity or complexity – it’s just easily shown to be bogus.

    Now, to be fair to the right, I doubt very many people on the street have ever heard of the Oregon Petition, so they wouldn’t even have an opinion on the matter.

    I also have no idea how well known it is among commentators and politicians who don’t focus on climate. It isn’t exactly an everyday topic of conversation, I don’t think.

  2. #2 David Irving (no relation)
    May 5, 2010

    The only recent (-ish) examples I can think of on the left are support for the Cultural Revolution in China (but most of us have since acknowledged we were horribly mistaken), and opposition to GM foods (on spurious, frankenfood, grounds – there are actully good reasons for being, at least, dubious of their benefits).

  3. #3 MFS
    May 5, 2010

    One problem with the Oregon petition is that it would take such an inordinately huge amount of time to check that the names suplied are not bogus.

    A different way to view it is that even its 31,000 signatories are but a [minuscule proportion](http://www.skepticalscience.com/OISM-Petition-Project.htm) (~0.3%) of the 10-odd million scientists (using the same criteria) in the U.S.A.

    Even if you could make a case that all 31,000 knew enough about the topic to put their scientific credibility on the line (as this is the way the petition is portrayed, these are scientists we’re talking about!), 99.7% of scientists did not choose to sign the petition.

  4. #4 Fran Barlow
    May 5, 2010

    The problem is fuinding a left example that repeats the error of the Oregon Petition viz. insistence on a measurable fact about the world that is demonstrably false

    As far as I can tell, the left has nothing to compare with what went down at Cave Hollows.

    Sympathy for cultural movements may be wrongheaded, but it’s not stating a fact about the world that is specific enough to be demonstrably wrong. So what leftists thought about Mao or Che is beside the point.

    The closest I can get is perhaps the insistence that the Rosenbergs were innocent of any formal wrongdoing, when they almost certainly were guilty of one kind of crime or another, as part of the campaign against McCarthyism and their subsequent execution.

  5. #5 vince whirlwind
    May 5, 2010

    One area of obvious leftist agnotology is the situation at Christmas island.
    For some reason it is an *a priori* truth to the Left that people who are clearly not refugees from Indonesia are nevertheless “refugees” when they arrive illegally on our shores from Indonesia. The Left clings desperately to the nonfactual AND red-herring notion that “50,000+ illegal visa-stayers” arrive here every year by air. And so forth.

    Another clear example of Leftist agnotology which approaches the extent of the Rightist denial of global warming is the well-known Leftist fantasy about aboriginal “Stolen Generations”.

    The Left’s 1940>-<1989 love affair with (remote) Communism should also rate a big mention: the facts on Stalin were well-known but simply ignored and lied about as the Left fell over itself trying to believe the “worker’s paradise” fantasy.

    So, I don’t think the Right has any sort of monopoly on the deliberate construction and emission of lies.
    In fact, it seems to me that any people who can’t think up their politics for themselves are prone to signing-up for political group-think irrespective of the flavour of those politics.

  6. #6 carrot eater
    May 6, 2010

    Concerns with GM food do come to mind, but to fit the rules of the game, we’d have to come up with a rather specific idea which can easily be shown to be wrong. A general unease with GM food isn’t quite discrete enough. We need something specific like “the left thinks eating GM maize gives you cancer.” But I don’t think many people actually say stuff quite like that.

    There’s also still the problem of who we’re even talking about. Quiggin seems to be referring to people with visibility – public intellectuals, politicians, columnists, think tankers and the like. So it isn’t just enough to show that left-leaning people on the street have some easily debunked misconception, but also that people like Krugman and elected officials share it.

  7. #7 John Quiggin
    May 6, 2010

    Vince, the “50 000 overstayers” number is an official government estimate – probably the stat is a bit of date, but there’s no reason to think they have declined.

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:HAtRKQvhaeYJ:parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/genpdf/chamber/hansardr/1999-11-25/0076/hansard_frag.pdf%3BfileType%3Dapplication%252Fpdf+illegal+visa+overstayers&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au&client=firefox-a

    Your other claims about refugees and the stolen generations just seem to be rightwing exercises in semantics

    I think it’s fair to concede that, if you go back 30 years or more you can find a fair bit of agnotology on those sections of the left influenced by Marxism. In fact, you can even argue that the well known Trotskyist converts to neoconservatism helped to shift the right in this direction.

  8. #8 sjk
    May 6, 2010

    “it is an a priori truth to the Left that people who are clearly not refugees from Indonesia are nevertheless “refugees” when they arrive illegally on our shores from Indonesia”.

    Vince, you are mistaken. The left claim that it is a historical fact that 90% of the boat people who arrive unannounced on Australian shores are, in fact, refugees. From this, these same people surmise that 90% of future boat people will also be genuine refugees i.e. “a priori”.

    What you need to show is that the 90% figure is false and is well known to be false. If you can, then you will have met Quiggin’s challenge. Until then, you have not …

    Similarly, which particular claim: re Stolen Generations has been shown to be false, but is still used by lefties? Not saying it doesn’t exist, just you haven’t provided one.

    Your Communist example is interesting, because at one time it was true, but today it is not – see David at #2. Many that sympathized now acknowledge they were mistaken.

    And this goes to precisely what quiggin is on about: Those of us on the left have the capacity to (eventually!) change our minds when confronted with reality: Can we say the same for our right-wing friends? Based on current evidence, not so much.

  9. #9 MFS
    May 6, 2010

    sjk @ 8,

    Your comment that:

    “Those of us on the left have the capacity to (eventually!) change our minds when confronted with reality: Can we say the same for our right-wing friends? Based on current evidence, not so much.

    Only really holds insofar as there is a good correation between people with science backgrounds and a left leaning in political views, but I don’t think that you can say the same from a person who derives their left-wing politics from, for example, the union movement and labour struggles.

    However, your comment brough something to mind that I saw some time ago. To put it into context, on a discussion on evolution, a (creationist) poster said that ‘the problem with scientific theories and such is that you scientists are always changing your mind, and so the theories change all the time, and become so confusing. On the other hand, I read the Bible every day and it always says the same, so I am never at a loss as to what to believe’.

    Since there seems to be a pretty good correlation between creationism, right wing politics and climate change denial, I always found that comment a very useful guide to an uneducated person’s view of science.

    More to the point, it perhaps helps explain why certain canons, once accepted by right wing movements, become so entrenched, whereas left-wing views in general, as espoused with people with a higher education and perhaps also some understanding of how science works, are generally more flexible.

    This is all purely my opinion and I’d love to hear what you all think.

  10. #10 savemejeebus
    May 6, 2010

    OT
    Hearing of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will host “top-level American climate scientists,” and …Lord Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, (the (sole??) Republican witness) to debate the foundations of climate science.

    Press release here:

    http://globalwarming.house.gov/mediacenter/pressreleases_2008?id=0226#main_content

  11. #11 Lotharsson
    May 6, 2010

    MFS, there’s also [authoritarianism](http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/) at work, which has in the past been seen a lot more often in left wing political movements but is now much more predominantly observed in right wing (to use an over-simplifying term) movements.

    Roughly speaking, authoritarian followers are generally uncomfortable with change and with uncertainty (“shades of grey”) and they want everything to be pinned down and certain (“black and white”), and they’re quite happy to cede authority (even as the source of many of their beliefs) to those who provide apparent certainty to them.

  12. #12 savemejeebus
    May 6, 2010

    Further, should be streamed at:

    http://globalwarming.house.gov/

    at 1130PM tonight Australian Eastern time.

    Might be fun to watch.

  13. #13 cohenite
    May 6, 2010

    Ho hum, left agnotology; North Korea, East Germany, Lysenkoism; poor old Lord Monckton confronts another example;

    Dr. Lisa Graumlich, Director, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, and member of the “Oxburgh Inquiry” panel
    Dr. Chris Field, Director, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, and co-chair of “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” portion of new IPCC report due in 2014
    Dr. James McCarthy, Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University, past President and Chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, co-chair of “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” portion of IPCC report published in 2001
    Dr. James Hurrell, Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, contributor to IPCC reports
    Lord Christopher Monckton, Chief Policy Adviser, Science and Public Policy Institute

  14. #14 Lotharsson
    May 6, 2010

    > [...contributor to IPCC reports Lord Christopher Monckton...](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/oregon_petition_and_the_right.php#comment-2492136)

    Are any of his words actually in the reports, or does “contributor” these days include anyone who may have commented but whose words are not found in the reports – or is this more right wing agnotology?

  15. #15 Nathan
    May 6, 2010

    Cohenite

    Why you think Monckton is useful for anything is beyond comprehension…

  16. #16 ChrisC
    May 6, 2010

    In my experience, those who are anti-vaccinationists and anti-fluoride in drinking water are far more likely to be on the left side of politics (although by no means exclusively).

    I’ve confronted several of my lefty colleagues on their stance about these two issues and attempted to argue the scientific evidence, I’ve received responses very similar to climate change denialists (specifically “lalalalalalalalal I can’t hear you… lalalalalala”).

  17. #17 ScaredAmoeba
    May 6, 2010

    OT, but I believe this is apposite:
    Over at DeSmogBlog, I recently encountered the
    http://www.cassiopeiaproject.com under ‘General Science’, the Oregon Petition zombie has à la Frankenstein been revivified as a video, funding is ostensibly from an ‘anonymous’ physicist.
    Most alarmingly, this pseudo-scientific travesty is aimed at school-age children. Those bastards are in it for the long-haul.

    The transcript and videos can be found
    here

    This has caused some confusion and concern over at
    Climate Prediction.net

    Can anyone throw any light on who specifically the ‘physicist’ might be? Of course, it’s quite possible likely that’s another part of the deception.

    Clearly, if a physicist really is behind this, the initial suspects would be the physicists involved with the original crapfest who were Seitz; Baliunas and Soon. So that leaves Baliunas and Soon. Unless it’s someone who’s gone emeritus.
    Others suspects might include Chris de Freitas

  18. #18 JMurphy
    May 6, 2010

    I’ve always been curious as to why it seems to be that many of those who can be called neo-cons, were formerly Marxist types. It seems that some people can only deal with extremes – when they are younger and full of idealism, they gravitate to the far-left because that’s where all the action is; when they are older and disappointed, they end up on the far-right. They don’t appear to realise that extreme views are off-putting to most, and rarely advantageous to the holder.

    The odd comment of cohenite reminded me of this, because it brought back to me the classic example of Nick Cohen in the UK. Are they one and the same, perhaps ?

  19. #19 Fran Barlow
    May 6, 2010

    Here’s a link to the “false” stolen generations information

    http://www.racismnoway.com.au/classroom/factsheets/52.html

  20. #20 Michael
    May 6, 2010

    cohenite referencing Monckton – more agnotology.

  21. #21 Lotharsson
    May 6, 2010

    > …when they are younger and full of idealism, they gravitate to the far-left because that’s where all the action is; when they are older and disappointed, they end up on the far-right.

    Try “[The Authoritarians](http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/)” by Altemeyer that I linked to earlier – IIRC authoritarian follower personalities may switch political allegiance (i.e. change their chosen authorities) without changing their primary mode of forming opinions about the world (received from their selected authorities).

  22. #22 NicM
    May 6, 2010

    Lotharsson@14:

    In the original text there is a line break between “reports” and “Lord”, i.e. the reference as “contributor to IPCC reports” is to Dr James Hurrel.

  23. #23 john Quiggin
    May 6, 2010

    The perception that antivaccinationists are mostly on the left is out of date, I think. The Daily Mail ran the autism-vaccine line in the UK, and the most politically prominent US proponent is Dan Burton (RFK Jr has a famous father, but has never held, or even run for elective office)

  24. #24 Jeremy C
    May 6, 2010

    This post is a bit OT but bear with me people because I think there is a need to adequately address Cohenite’s love afair with all things Monckton by dealing with one particular aspect, the peerage. So to do this lets compare Monckton’s peerage with another peer, that of Valerie Amos the present British High Commissioner to Australia. Firstly, Valerie Amos and Monckton’s grandfather share one important thing i.e. they were both given their peerages by the UK government (I think young Christopher was about five when this happened) but the difference is that Monckton’s grandfather’s peerage was one of the last hereditary one’s given out to political supporters, if not the last.

    But if we compare Amos and Monckton directly there is a glaring difference, i.e. Valerie Amos sits in the House of Lord’s (in fact she has been the government leader there) whereas like you and me Monckton has to get an invite from a member to be able to go in.

    Oh, there is perhaps one similarity betwen Amos and Monkton. Amos fervently supports the idea that England will win the next Ashes tour when it is played in Australia. In any paper or radio interview she will state this fantastical belief.

    Sorry to be OT.

  25. #25 cohenite
    May 6, 2010

    I didn’t introduce Monckton, the link at 12 did, but the subsequent reactions indicate some possible manifestations of epigonal lese majeste amongst the usual suspects.

    As for Nic Cohen; his book, “What’s Left” is as good as any analysis of left agnotology.

  26. #26 jakerman
    May 6, 2010

    >*As for Nic Cohen; his book, “What’s Left” is as good as any analysis of left agnotology.*

    I.e. not about climate. And in fact, cohnite provides such a vague allusion to a source that may or may not cite “agnotology” at all.

    Suits me.

  27. #27 carrot eater
    May 6, 2010

    On vaccine-quackery: Thankfully, it isn’t widespread on either left or right, or else we’d be in some trouble. This would have much worse immediate repercussions than anything related to the Oregon Petition.

    It seems to be celebrity-oriented to me, as opposed to left or right.

  28. #28 Michael
    May 6, 2010

    I didn’t introduce Monckton, the link at 12 did, ….. – cohenite

    Not approvingly dear cohers…….

  29. #29 MikeH
    May 6, 2010

    Completely off the point but tonight’s Catalyst program on the ABC had a segment on the effect of increased CO2 on plants – conclusion – less protein in grains and increased toxicity in other plants.

    So why would a plant have less protein in a raised carbon dioxide environment? In the process of photosynthesis plants convert carbon dioxide into sugars using a protein called RuBisCO to capture the CO2 from the atmosphere. If carbon dioxide levels increase plants will need to produce less RuBisCO to capture the same amount of carbon dioxide. Less of this protein means a less nutritious meal. And the plant’s extra resources can then be diverted in to protecting the plant. Plants protect themselves using spines and thorns or make themselves less appetising by producing toxic chemicals. Eucalypts produce phenols.

    Another denier talking point down the toilet. But I am sure there will be no shortage of flat earthers with their hands down the bowl trying to rescue this one.

  30. #30 MikeH
    May 6, 2010

    Back on topic John Quiggin says at 7

    I think it’s fair to concede that, if you go back 30 years or more you can find a fair bit of agnotology on those sections of the left influenced by Marxism. In fact, you can even argue that the well known Trotskyist converts to neoconservatism helped to shift the right in this direction.

    The “well known Trotyskist converts to neo-conservatism” is a bit of an urban myth … you are really talking about the well pickelled Christopher Hitchens.

    There is no doubt that large sections of the left were under the influence of both Russian and Chinese Stalinism up until recent times even though it was apparent from the time of the Russian show trials in the 1930s that all was not as it seemed. But to keep this in perspective, the Russian and Chinese CPs were not a group of old farts (well they were a bunch of old farts) in a tin shed in Oregon – these countries won major victories against fascism which if you recall was a big deal last century. This gave them a lot of credibility which took a long time to dissipate.

    But this is not an excuse. Left or right, facts trump idealogy every time.

  31. #31 Jeremy C
    May 6, 2010

    Yes Mike H but the problem with the right is they only give up on their beliefs after they have left Europe in ruins.

  32. #32 Lotharsson
    May 6, 2010

    > In the original text there is a line break between “reports” and “Lord”…

    Monckton has a history of puffing himself up and without knowing about the line break it seemed like it was probably another one – thanks for the clarification!

  33. #33 sjk
    May 6, 2010

    MFS, you wrote:

    Only really holds insofar as there is a good correation between people with science backgrounds and a left leaning in political views, but I don’t think that you can say the same from a person who derives their left-wing politics from, for example, the union movement and labour struggles.

    I’d be interested in particular examples. Labour market deregulation and the privitisation of public utilities should provide plenty of opportunities with regard to unions. My vague understanding on both these points is that the movement, has in general, reassessed its views on these matters.

  34. #34 winnebago
    May 6, 2010

    Off topic: Monkey boy was the GOP ‘expert’ witness at this morning’s hearing by the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. His prepared remarks are now posted, pinata whacking anyone?
    http://globalwarming.house.gov/files/HRG/050510climateScience/monckton.pdf

  35. #35 winnebago
    May 6, 2010

    All witness testimony available here:
    http://globalwarming.house.gov/pubs?id=0018

  36. #36 Mike
    May 6, 2010

    I’m fairly politically neutral myself. As far as the Left goes, I see things like chasing whaling boats in the Southern Ocean as a fairly fruitless (and rather silly) endeavour to achieve unrealistic goals, and which ends up being counter-productive.

    However I reserve a special place in my heart for the Right, having seen how they not only ignore facts they don’t like, but how they lie, obfuscate, then ultimately if none of that works, threaten, to pound the facts into oblivion. Funnily enough, it never really works for them in the long term, so they just all end up being really angry and going to shooting ranges with Obama target posters to take out their rage (yes, seriously, I know someone who did that just recently). I think they do often have anger-management issues.

  37. #37 Jeremy C
    May 6, 2010

    Thanks for the link Winnebago.

    The most interesting thing for me was that Monckton says that the earth has been cooling since 2001. So I suppose that this is proof that the meme about the earth cooling since 1998 is dead and buried. Perhaps Cohenite would like to comment on this discrepancy between 1998 and 2001, i.e. a) did the deniers get it wrong and new research has shown that the cooling was delayed by a few(sic) years or b) its been a talking point all along and who cares amongst the deniers about any sort of accuracy or c) someone forgot to tell Monckton that the date was 1998.

    If c) is correct then right now there is a huge scramble to rewrite every know piece of paper of internet page that carried the date of 1998 to change it to 2001. This effort would be very similar to the chapter in 1984 when Winston Smith and his fellow workers have to rewrite every reference to who the country was at war with.

  38. #38 luminous beauty
    May 6, 2010

    >The “well known Trotyskist converts to neo-conservatism” is a bit of an urban myth … you are really talking about the well pickelled Christopher Hitchens.

    [Sorry Mike](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/oregon_petition_and_the_right.php#comment-2492396), but the Trotskyite roots of many neo-conservatives are well documented in the persons of Irving Kristol, James Burnham and others. Of course, more central to neo-con pseudo-philosophy is Leo Strauss, who would have happily joined the Nazi Party, but for being Jewish.

    As far as I know, Chris Hitchens has never renounced his rather more [pro-soviet](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claud_Cockburn) roots, though attracting the near universal ire of the US left for joining with the neo-cons in promoting the ill-advised and tragic war in Iraq.

  39. #39 winnebago
    May 6, 2010

    Jeremy C,

    The answer appears to be a). The year 2001 is cherry-picked — there is a negative trend from 2001-present. The trend is positive if you pick any start date prior to 2001.

  40. #40 Jeremy C
    May 6, 2010

    Ah,….. but Winnebago it was only a short time ago that deniers were swearing on the bodies of their grandmas that the globe had been cooling since 1998.

  41. #41 Fran Barlow
    May 6, 2010

    As far as I know, Chris Hitchens has never renounced his rather more pro-soviet roots, though attracting the near universal ire of the US left for joining with the neo-cons in promoting the ill-advised and tragic war in Iraq.

    Hitchens was a Cliffite, and the Cliffities came out of the stalinphobe wing of the Trotskyist movement. Its patrimony was with Schactman and Burnham (whom you mention) and thence to Tony Cliff.

    For years their slogan was Neither Washington nor Moscow but International Socialism

    Hitchens was one of the British SWP’s leading figures.

  42. #42 TrueSceptic
    May 6, 2010

    39 Jeremy,

    But…but…but there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995!

  43. #43 Bill W.
    May 6, 2010

    Monckton’s probably switched from using the CRU dataset (in which 1998 is the warmest year on record) to the NASA GISS dataset, in which 2001 is the warmest year on record. Because, after all, the CRU dataset has been discredited (according to him).

  44. #44 Bill W.
    May 6, 2010

    Oops. Hottest year in GISS is 2005, not 2001. Where DID he get 2001?

  45. #45 luminous beauty
    May 6, 2010

    [Fran](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/oregon_petition_and_the_right.php#comment-2494328)

    I stand somewhat corrected. I think Hitchens was pretty much on the outs with the IS before it became the SWP, however. He has described himself as an ex-Trotskite, a Marxist but not a Socialist, and as a temporary ally of the neo-cons. His self identification as a contrarian is probably most apt. That and being a heavy drinker.

  46. #46 TrueSceptic
    May 6, 2010

    43 Bill W,

    2001 is the earliest year that gives a negative trend to the present. It is long enough ago that he thinks he can pretend that he’s not cherry-picking, which would be much more obvious if he chose a later start point. I can recommend [WoodforTrees](http://woodfortrees.org/plot/) if you want to play with the data and trends.

  47. #47 vince whirlwind
    May 6, 2010

    John, the deliberate Leftist dishonesty lies in insisting that there are 50,000 overstayers *per year*. This has been ann incredibly persistent bit of agnotology which the Left has been reluctant to abandon.

    The 1951 UN Refugee Convention defines what is a refugee and illegal entrants from Indonesia who are not fleeing Indonesia do not meet that definition. The fact that we let most of them stay anyway describes pragmatism, not legal status.

    The “Stolen Generations” is complete politically-motivated myth, reminscent of the Stalinist approach to “history”. Read the “Bringing them Home” report and ask yourself – “where’s the actual evidence?”. Read subsequent test cases which hit the courts. Read the personal histories of prominent “Stolen” people such as Lois O’Donohue and marvel at how the reality fails to match up to the politics.

  48. #48 vince whirlwind
    May 6, 2010

    Here’s one to upset the agnotological Left:

    It seems african Homo Sapiens might be classified a different species from the rest of us:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/neandertal-genetics-study-shows-theres-a-caveman-in-us-all/story-e6frg6n6-1225863446398

  49. #49 Nathan
    May 6, 2010

    Vince

    Almost every single illegal entrant is granted refugee status, because they meet the criteria. Even when Howard was Prime Minister it happened. Australia doesn’t have a problem with illegal entry, the numbers are way too low to be considered a ‘problem’.

    That article doesn’t say anything about Africans being a different species. Why did you think it would mean they are a different species?

  50. #50 John Quiggin
    May 6, 2010

    Vince, the 50 000 point seems like a minor piece of semantic confusion between stocks and flows, not an obstinate persistence in error. The number of new overstayers each year can be estimated as 50 000 divided by the length of the average overstay (in years) before departure or conversion to some other legal status. My guess is that the mean overstay is probably around a year, so 50 000 is about right.

    The rest of your points are just rightwing rhetoric and the following comment is an absurd misreading, which (combined with your other points) does not present you in a good light.

  51. #51 bill
    May 6, 2010

    John Quiggan – you were absolutely right to confine the discussion on your site to widely-accepted (cross-spectrum, social-democrat to Trostkyite) left positions that were demonstrably anti-scientific, as the succession of aged straw-men tossed about above only serves to prove! Wow, Stalinists and hard-line Maoists believe some stupid things – who’d have thought it?

    The discussion of Hitchen’s switch from left to hard-right (at least in some arenas) is intriguing, however.

    And isn’t 2005 the warmest year on record if we’re choosing not to believe the CRU?

  52. #53 David Irving (no relation)
    May 6, 2010

    ChrisC @ 16, most of the anti-flouride cranks I’ve ever encountered have been on the right, and anti-vaccinationists tended to be hippies (generally apolitical) 30-odd years ago. I don’t know about these days, but, in each case, I think “deluded” is a better descriptor.

  53. #54 Phila
    May 6, 2010

    vince @ 47:

    Wow. You really didn’t understand that article at all, did you?

  54. #55 carrot eater
    May 6, 2010

    My perception of anti-fluoride cranks was that they were either libertarian or paranoid about government. But it isn’t a notion that’s widespread among any political group, so I don’t think it fits in this game.

    As for vaccine-cranks – whatever you saw 30 years ago was an old wave. The movement had a re-awakening with the Wakefield paper in the Lancet, 1998. I just don’t think it has an obvious ideological slant; you can see isolated examples on left, right and other.

  55. #56 Jim Eager
    May 7, 2010

    I’ll see the Oregon Petition’s 31,000 names and raise it with 225 National Academy of Science members, including 11 Nobel laureates, and their open letter in Science:

    Climate Change and the Integrity of Science
    http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2010/05/whole-thing.html

  56. #57 Chris O'Neill
    May 7, 2010

    cohenite:

    I’m happy with 1998:

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:1998/to:2010/trend/plot/rss/from:1998/to:2010/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1998/to:2010/trend/plot/gistemp/from:1998/to:2010/trend/plot/none

    Obviously he’s not happy with 2010 and why would he be? Hottest year on record won’t go down too well in science denialism.

  57. #58 Lars Karlsson
    May 7, 2010

    Cohenite,
    If you include “to:20101″ on Wood for trees, then the curves will stop at the beginning of 2010 (ie 2010 will not be inlcuded).
    Rty it like this instead!

  58. #59 sailrick
    May 7, 2010

    “I also have no idea how well known it is among commentators and politicians who don’t focus on climate. It isn’t exactly an everyday topic of conversation, I don’t think.”

    I don’t think much of the media has a clue about the denialist disinformation agenda. Yesterday, I was listening to syndicated talk show host Mike Malloy talking about the oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. He’s a liberal talk show host. I called in to the show, and talked briefly about the fossil fuel PR campaign and plugged “Climate Cover-Up” by James Hoggan, as well as my own blog. It was obvious that Mallone had no idea what I was talking about until I filled him in a little more.
    I left several posts on his website with more information, and with hopes that he will read them and follow up on it.

    I did the same thing on Alan Colmes radio show and website.

  59. #60 Marion Delgado
    May 7, 2010

    actually, monckton is smarter, more scientifically literate and even more sensible politically than our cohenite rock troll.

  60. #61 Lars Karlsson
    May 7, 2010

    vince whirlwind: “It seems african Homo Sapiens might be classified a different species from the rest of us.”

    Nobody should be surprised that the newspaper article that vince links to says no such thing.

  61. #62 TrueSceptic
    May 7, 2010

    58 Lars,

    I’ll point out once more: at WfT, the From year is included but the To year is not. It’s obvious when your graph is short-term, not so much when it’s long-term. If you want to include the latest possible data, simply omit the To year/date.

  62. #63 Jeremy C
    May 7, 2010

    So Cohenite, you believe 1998 is adequate and you can’t explain why Monckton says 2001?

  63. #64 el Gordo
    May 7, 2010

    In testimony before the US Congress on May 6 Monckton said ‘Solar activity increased with a rapidity unprecedented in the Holocene, reaching a Grand Solar Maximum during a period of 70 years from 1925-1995 when the Sun was very nearly as active as it had been at any time in the past 11,400 years (Hathaway, 2004; Usoskin, 2003; Solanki, 2005).

    That is a fairly convincing argument and explains a lot about global warming. On the other hand, Hathaway, Usoskin and Solanki might be wrong.

  64. #65 winnebago
    May 7, 2010

    “Hathaway, Usoskin and Solanki might be wrong.”

    On the third hand, Monckton might be totally misrepresenting the articles. Google scholar is your friend.

  65. #66 Dave R
    May 7, 2010

    [el thicko](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/oregon_petition_and_the_right.php#comment-2496062):
    >On the other hand, Hathaway, Usoskin and Solanki might be wrong.

    There’s a simpler explanation. You are a gullible idiot repeating the lies of an anti-science loon.

    Solanki [says](http://cc.oulu.fi/~usoskin/personal/nature02995.pdf): “solar variability is unlikely to have been the dominant cause of the strong warming during the past three decades”

    Usoskin [says](http://www.mps.mpg.de/dokumente/publikationen/solanki/c153.pdf): “during these last 30 years the solar total irradiance, solar UV irradiance and cosmic ray flux has not shown any significant secular trend, so that at least this most recent warming episode must have another source.”

  66. #67 TrueSceptic
    May 7, 2010

    64 EG,

    You could read 66 Dave R or try something very simple. Go to WfT and plot solar against any of the temp datasets. What do you see?

  67. #68 TrueSceptic
    May 7, 2010

    62 me,

    Lars, that was intended for anyone who didn’t know. Obviously you do! ;)

  68. #70 Fran Barlow
    May 7, 2010

    Luminous Beauty

    The more interesting example is Lyndon LaRouche (aka Lynn Marcus) who was an early supporter of the RT within the US SWP. The RT (after it was purged from the SWP) went onto become the Spartacist League — an orthodox Soviet Defencist Trotskyist group which still exists today while Marcus split and went onto eventually wind up founding the far right Larouchite cult group.

  69. #71 Tony Sidaway
    May 7, 2010

    I am shocked, shocked I say, to discover that Monckton has misrepresented the views of the scientists whose papers he cited before Congress!

  70. #72 vagueofgodalming
    May 7, 2010

    Surely antivaccination fails the Quiggin test because no left-wing party or politician of any importance has embraced it. It’s not enough to show (let alone assert) that some piece of crankery is of the left: it has to have been mainstreamed as well.

    Compare climate denialism, which has prominent elected Republican spokesmen in the USA and Liberal ones in Australia. In the UK, I had climate-denying election leaflets from only the BNP and UKIP (on whose behalf I heard Chris Monckton’s dulcet tomes campaigning on the radio the other day), neither of whom count as serious, fortunately.

  71. #73 Quentin
    May 7, 2010

    Pshaw. Not 31,000, not scientists, not denying. I signed the petition (online, mind you) and I have no background in climate, and have not studied anything to do with climate from original data.

    I have a major in physics, am able to think logically and am widely read. Consequently I understand that mankind is warming the planet, that this is a very bad thing, and that it will be much cheaper (maybe even free) to fix it than survive it. And we will get to keep all those (apparently economically valueless) species.

    I signed the petition to show what BS it was.

    You can quote me.

    Hell, sign it yourself.

  72. #74 trrll
    May 7, 2010

    I received the invitation to sign in the mail, phony “PNAS” paper and all. Considering that my field is not remotely related to climate science, it must have been a large mass mailing–I wonder who paid the postage?

  73. #75 Phila
    May 7, 2010

    FYI: The shocking facts about Mohonkgate.

  74. #76 carrot eater
    May 7, 2010

    vagueofgodalming | May 7, 2010 11:52 AM

    Exactly. This exercise isn’t about fringe cranks of various ideologies, but a large part of a mainstream deluding itself over something that can be easily checked, and something that really isn’t a matter of subjective interpretation.

    So for vaccine quackery to count, you’d need it to be repeated by prominent left politicians, newspaper editorials and columns, and prominent public intellectuals.

  75. #77 jakerman
    May 8, 2010

    >*”Hathaway, Usoskin and Solanki might be wrong.”*
    >On the third hand, Monckton might be totally misrepresenting the articles. Google scholar is your friend.

    The evidence goes with Dave R and the [third hand](http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11676&page=102)

  76. #78 Vince Whirlwind
    May 9, 2010

    John, you’ve made unsupportable assumptions and weasel-words to excuse the misuse of the Leftist “50,000 overstayers per year” meme.
    A simple search on the Immigration website turns this up:

    “In the 2007-08 financial year, it was estimated that around 14 000 people overstayed their visa. This compares with around 4.5 million temporary entrants over the same period or an overstayer rate of less than half a per cent.”
    and
    “Since June 2004, this estimate has remained below 50 000″. In other words departures are matching overstays – not a fact the Left likes to broadcast.
    My guess is the Left will persist in its rejection of this inconvenient fact, *as you have just done* despite my leading you all the way to the water. Your “guess” was wrong, the reason being that agnotology is embraced very tightly by those who value their politics ahead of fact.

    And your response (and others, Lars) to my other post is very interesting in that you seem to have deviated immediately from argument to censorship.
    In fact, I would even call your response revealing.
    The newspaper article *I* read is telling me that I am the 2,000th-generation descendent of a non-Homo Sapiens species which is no more closely related to African Homo Sapiens than 20,000 generations.

    It is a demonstrable trait of the Left that some things are not open to discussion.
    I’ve just found one of them.
    Anybody who rejects discussion in favour of preconceived notions is *every* bit as bad as any Rightard. Take a long look at yourselves.

  77. #79 Lotharsson
    May 10, 2010

    > In other words departures are matching overstays…

    I haven’t been following that line of argument, but it’s certainly not clear to me how you reach that conclusion from the brief quotes you supply. One could almost read them to imply the opposite, at least until 2007/08. Clarification might help.

    And when you write:

    > The newspaper article I read is telling me that I am the 2,000th-generation descendent of a non-Homo Sapiens species which is no more closely related to African Homo Sapiens than 20,000 generations.

    I find that a slightly odd summary of the article, given that you’re also presumably a descendant of the African Homo Sapiens line – and way more of your DNA came down that line than from Neanderthals.

    But entirely regardless of that, I’m not sure how you reach:

    > It seems african Homo Sapiens might be classified a different species from the rest of us…

    Nothing in the article seems to imply biologists are or are likely to seriously consider breaking Homo sapiens into two distinct species.

  78. #80 SteveC
    May 10, 2010

    Vince @ 78:

    It is a demonstrable trait of the Left that some things are not open to discussion

    It is a demonstrable facet of a shallow argument when the proponent resorts to facile generalisations…

    Anybody who rejects discussion in favour of preconceived notions is every bit as bad as any Rightard

    Project, much?

  79. #81 jakerman
    May 10, 2010

    I’m [with Lotharsson](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/oregon_petition_and_the_right.php#comment-2502210), I don’t clearly see the case that is being made, but I sure can feel the emotion building.

  80. #82 Vince Whirlwind
    May 10, 2010

    Lotharsson – the persistence of the wilful misinterpretation of the immigration statistics is a good example of the topic at hand. Why do you think have I had to point out its wrongness 3 times just in this one thread now? Why are *my* opinion and quotes on the matter subject to argument and quibbling which is clearly not informed by research and fact? IOW, why doesn’t any leftist actually look it up? Quite simply: the 14,000 figure is a recent annual amount of new overstayers. On average 30% of overstayers leave within 1 year. All current overstayers in Australia add up to about 50,000, and that has been the case for quite a few years now because Overstayer-Departures usually roughly equal new-Overstayers.

    I realise no Biologist is going to try to reclassify any sub-group of *Homo Sapiens*, but I think we all know that classification is subjective and that if we were talking about a species of bacterium about which the above data had become available, I could initiate a discussion about reclassification without incurring comments such as those I did.

    I’ve thought of two more clear examples of Leftist agnotology:
    – The “Noble Savage” myth – beloved by Lefties.
    – The link between ethnicity and crime – an example of Leftist Denialism.

    In fact, having thought about this, I’ve decided that the occasional Rightard obsession with anti-science (in this case the obscure “Oregon Petition” which almost nobody has heard of) is far less pervasive than that over-arching Leftist agnotology which is the bane of modern society: Political Correctness.

    PC is the basic idea that Fact should be suborned by the Party Line, and is without doubt a central tenet of unthinking Leftism and every bit as bad if not worse than the Rightard War on Science.

    In short, John is wrong, and his wrongness stems from the subjectivity caused by his political indoctrination.

  81. #83 Michael Ralston
    May 10, 2010

    I realise no Biologist is going to try to reclassify any sub-group of Homo Sapiens, but I think we all know that classification is subjective and that if we were talking about a species of bacterium about which the above data had become available, I could initiate a discussion about reclassification without incurring comments such as those I did.

    The only reason such a discussion could be entered into about bacteria is because the concept of a species is fuzzily defined in such organisms.

    In organisms such as H. Sap, the fact that all humans are capable of interbreeding means that we are one species. We don’t even have the complexity of a ring species! All populations of humans are interfertile with all other populations, at least as far as I know.

  82. #84 Fran Barlow
    May 10, 2010

    Vince wittered:

    In fact, having thought about this, I’ve decided that the occasional Rightard obsession with anti-science (in this case the obscure “Oregon Petition” which almost nobody has heard of) is far less pervasive than that over-arching Leftist agnotology which is the bane of modern society: Political Correctness.

    At one level, posts such as yours are useful for they illustrate what most of us know but the enemies of mitigation pretend not to know — that wanting action on climate change is not peculiar to the left.

    At the same time it also shows how easy it is to be blinded by one’s own ideological predispositions. Political Correctness if it means anything at all, is also not peculiar to those left of centre. Indeed, the most pervasive exemplars of political correctness come from the right — and are reproduced in the tabloid media on a daily basis, and without scare quotes around them.

    It’s just that rightwing political correctness gets a much more flattering, non-ironic and plebeian name — common sense. The obvious and the banal, the intuitively reasonable, everyone’s semi-informed stereotype of anything — this is just common sense.

    That you make the assertion above merely underlines where you stand ideologically rather than adding to insight into the sources of PC.

  83. #85 Lotharsson
    May 10, 2010

    > Why are my opinion and quotes on the matter subject to argument and quibbling which is clearly not informed by research and fact?

    In this case, because you were making the argument and therefore responsible for supporting it. And because the references you supplied did not appear to support the case you were making. And because your statements about how you got to your conclusion were unclear.

    If you had initially said (and referenced support for):

    > Quite simply: the 14,000 figure is a recent annual amount of new overstayers. On average 30% of overstayers leave within 1 year. All current overstayers in Australia add up to about 50,000, and that has been the case for quite a few years now because Overstayer-Departures usually roughly equal new-Overstayers.

    …then your position would have been a lot clearer. Instead you provided a quote that could reasonably be read to imply that recently it was 50,000 per year, not 50,000 in total in country at any given time, thereby appearing to undermine the alleged universality of your own argument.

    That’s why!

    > I realise no Biologist is going to try to reclassify any sub-group of Homo Sapiens, …

    …and yet you provided an interpretation of the news article which does not appear to be supported by evidence, and which presumes that biologists should or would reclassify such a sub-group, and then castigated “the left” for being unwilling to discuss or countenance the idea! And yet you argue that the pushback is because the idea is unthinkable to “the left”, NOT because it’s unfounded in the evidence you provided?

    > PC is the basic idea that Fact should be suborned by the Party Line…

    Not in the common usage I encounter, but I see where you’re coming from.

    However I spend a fair bit of time on US political websites, due to having lived there for several years. Hewing to the party line is an **intense** feature of US right wing politics, so much so that they recently discarded various successful politicians *because* they weren’t sufficiently hard right – and that all 41 Republican Senators frequently vote as a bloc.

    It’s quite rare for either of those things to happen on the left in the US – even if (e.g. Joe Liebermann) you often vote against key Left principles and spend lots of time on political talk shows talking up Republican talking points and attacking “the Left”. If anything it’s a frequent refrain that getting broad agreement on The Left is like herding cats.

    Evidence suggests your contention that PC “…is without doubt a central tenet of unthinking Leftism and every bit as bad if not worse than the Rightard War on Science” is not entirely concordant with reality, at least in the US (where much of the War On Science is sourced).

  84. #86 Vince Whirlwind
    May 11, 2010

    Michael Ralston –
    “all humans are capable of interbreeding means that we are one species”

    —> so we’ll be re-classifying *homo neanderthalis* as just another *homo sapiens* real soon seeing as we seem to be accepting they interbred.
    No?
    So your assertion was not based on logic then, but on something else. Something agnotological, perhaps? Could it be Political Correctness?

    Lotharsson – please check what I posted – I didn’t say any species “should” be reclassified. I didn’t say “would”. And yet you’ve characterised my statement as signifying one of these words because that suited your counter-argument. Dodgy and Rightardish.

    Ditto with the Visa Overstayers. The Leftards trumpet this non-fact and I’ve called them on it. *They* haven’t supported their assertion with facts, but *I* have to support mine? Sound familiar? It’s blatantly one of the methods used in the Rightard War on Science.
    Just checking – do you now accept that the “50,000 overstayers per year” meme is a valid example of Leftard agnotology?

  85. #87 Vince Whirlwind
    May 11, 2010

    Fran – you’re going to have to work a lot harder than that to convince me that the populist appeal to “common sense” equates in any way to the Leftist concept of Political Correctness.

  86. #88 jakerman
    May 11, 2010

    >*The link between ethnicity and crime – an example of Leftist Denialism.*

    Vince, I assume you mean the resistancce to use of this link. The link between ethnicity and crime is righfully not allowed to go unchallengd because of the gross confounding variables at play such as poverty, opportunity, enviroment, education to name a just a few.

    What is your hypothesis, that ethnicity is the fundamental cause of crime? If so I’d challenge you on that. I also challenge your misuse of the the discripter of agnotology in this case.

  87. #89 jakerman
    May 11, 2010

    >*PC is the basic idea that Fact should be suborned by the Party Line, and is without doubt a central tenet of unthinking Leftism and every bit as bad if not worse than the Rightard War on Science.*

    Quite a partisan (solid right and etightlement) and I must say a distorted view Vince. My experience is that PC is an intollerace of racist and sexist and other bigotted language that had intertia from times when slavery was accepted, as was denying vote to women or controlling and subjugating the less entitled in various forms.

  88. #90 Fran Barlow
    May 11, 2010

    Oh I’m not bothered Vince. You could google up Glenn Beck’s “Common Sense” and get a whole bunch of “non-partisan” common sense there. It’s inspired by Thomas Paine, apparently, so the pedigree is right up there.

    Keep an eye on the tabloid press and see how often they or their letter writers use the term and for what things. Banal, right of centre populism for most of it, with Dunning-Kruger thrown in — the sort of ideas that “all right thinking” (no pun intended but it’s there) people have.

    If you analyse AGW through the prism of “common sense” you can see the climate is always changing, don’t ya know … I remember in the 1970s when they were predicting an ice age because you know scientists have been wrong in the past and I know this bloke …

    Oops too much common sense can rot your brain — like drinking metho — it’s just common sense ‘in ‘it?

  89. #91 Lotharsson
    May 11, 2010

    > I didn’t say any species “should” be reclassified. I didn’t say “would”.

    True, you didn’t, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. You said:

    > “It seems african Homo Sapiens **might** be classified a different species from the rest of us.”

    (Are you sure you really want to hang your hat on that trivial a difference – and expect me to think it makes a significant difference to the bogosity of your argument?)

    Because “might” is not justified by the article, as was pointed out a long time ago, and which I indicated I didn’t find justified either.

    To the first response you said, shifting the goalposts:

    > The newspaper article I read is telling me that I am the 2,000th-generation descendent of a non-Homo Sapiens species which is no more closely related to African Homo Sapiens than 20,000 generations.

    Which didn’t seem justified by the article either.

    But you had also proclaimed:

    > It is a demonstrable trait of the Left that some things are not open to discussion.

    Discussion of your “un-discussable” claim continued after that point.

  90. #92 MFS
    May 11, 2010

    Lotharsson,

    ‘Bogosity’ will henceforth be my new word of the day.

  91. #93 jakerman
    May 11, 2010

    Loth must has a shelf full of internetz prizes by now. I remember giving him at least one myself.
    ;)

  92. #94 MartinM
    May 11, 2010

    In organisms such as H. Sap, the fact that all humans are capable of interbreeding means that we are one species.

    Well, not necessarily. There are many different biological species concepts. Under none of them does the new data suggest separating homo sap into two or more clades, however.