You’ve probably read about this silly little brouhaha about someone hacking an email account and getting emails from some climate scientists talking about their data. The Worldnutdaily and most of the rest of the right wing blogosphere has exploded with ridiculous claims about it, distorting those emails to prove that global warming is a fraud.
Rational people, like the folks at RealClimate, James Hrynyshyn and Nate Silver have pointed out the distortions and debunked the vastly overblown claims, but Andrew Sullivan really nails the mentality and the rhetorical games being played here:
The key to these bloggers’ mentality is simply to find some tiny thing and focus all attention on that in order to persuade people that the bigger reality is untrue or irrelevant. This is not an argument; it’s a technique. It’s a technique to persuade people not to examine all the evidence, since the source of the evidence – secular humanist scientists – are evil suspects and against God and in favor of making your gas bill higher.
You can’t actually persuade people that way, of course. But you can fortify their resistance to examining all the evidence.
Absolutely accurate. It’s the same technique used by creationists, of course. That’s why they’re still talking about Nebraska Man – one mistaken fossil identification – from nearly 100 years ago.