Respectful Insolence

Who are the Terminator cranks?

As a part of a longer post where I was, for the most part, serious albeit sarcastic, I asked one question that I considered a bit of a throwaway joke. Oddly enough, the more I think about it, the more I think that it wasn’t such a joke. Here was my question:

Perhaps we could have a contest: Which cranks are most persistent, tobacco/smoking denialists, AGW denialists, anti-vaccine loons, or anti-fluoridation activists?

To which jre responded in the comments:

Fairness requires that we try to round out Orac’s list. At a minimum, this must include:

  1. Tobacky / 2nd-hand smoke denialists
  2. Climate septics
  3. Anti-vaxers
  4. Anti-fluor / Precious bodily fluids defenders
  5. Free energy / perpetual motion advocates
  6. 9/11 troofers
  7. Carson=Hitler DDT boosters
  8. Moon landing revisionists
  9. HIV deniers

Holocaust denial is off the map; sorry. There are some things even a crank won’t go near.

Actually, I don’t think that Holocaust denial is off the map. Well, actually, it is. What I meant was that I would still lump Holocaust denial in there. I’d also add evolution denialists, also known as creationists, of which there are two main varieties, young earth creationists and intelligent design creationists.

Depressingly, Now that I have (perhaps foolishly) inserted myself into the anti-fluoridation manufactroversy, I can now honestly say that I’ve dealt with each and every one of these cranks at one time or another on this blog with one exception. I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with moon hoaxers. That, I think, gives me the authority to know of what I speak when I propose my own answer to the question of just what kind of crank is the most persistent?

Clearly, it’s possible, based on my experience in observing what topics that I blog about bring the most cranks and trolls crawling out of the woodwork to drive a thread to hundreds of comments, to name the top three, from which I’ll choose a “winner.” My top three most persistent forms of crank are:

  • Anti-vaccine loons
  • Tobacco/secondhand smoke denialists
  • Anthropogenic global warming denialists

I say “possible,” but that doesn’t mean it was easy. After all, I’ve had posts about 9/11 Truthers that have brought in dozens, if not hundreds, of comments. Also, my one and only foray into anti-fluoridation woo certainly brought in the water fluoridation cranks by the bushel full. Then there are HIV/AIDS denialists, one of whom tried to draw me into a “debate” with now deceased (of AIDS) HIV/AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore. But, after going back and forth a few times about whether any of these merited kicking one of the top three off the list, I ultimately decided that the winner for the most persistent cranks, the cranks capable of latching onto a skeptical post and flooding the comments with endless streams of vitriolic woo, it had to be one of these three. So, out of these three, which one did I pick for the One Crank To Rule Them All, the One Crank to Find Them, the One Crank to Bring Them All and in the Darkness Bind Them?

And the “winner” is…(if you can call it that):

Tobacco/secondhand smoke denialists.

I bet you didn’t see that one coming. Don’t get me wrong. Anti-vaccine loons are definitely up there in terms of sheer crazy combined with persistence. However, they just don’t seem to be the same as they were when I started blogging. I don’t know if it’s me becoming a bit jaded with them or maybe it’s them having lumped me into the category of enemy blogger, but they just don’t seem as crazed to me as before. On the other hand, maybe they realize that many of my commenters really know their stuff when it comes to vaccines and don’t fancy being utterly humiliated on a regular basis. Who knows? I do know I’m grateful to my pro-vaccine readers for watching my back when I’m away from the blog and can’t answer the anti-vaccine cranks for many hours at a time when I’m at work.

Why tobacco/secondhand smoke denialists? Well, there’s just something about them when they show up in a thread. I can sort of understand anti-vaccine cranks; they really and truly believe that vaccines injured their children. In the vast majority of cases, they’re wrong, but I can understand the intensity of their passion. On the other hand, cranks arguing against secondhand smoke tend to be incensed about, more than anything else, their no longer being allowed to smoke in a bar or restaurant. When the passion level is the same in people who think, even if almost always mistakenly, that their children were injured and people who don’t like the guv’mint telling them they can’t light up in a bar or restaurant, I wonder about the people who harbor such a persistent sense of being wronged because they hate it that The Man is telling them that they can’t light up in a bar anymore. The sense of proportion seems lacking.

I strongly suspect that there is a cadre of tobacco defenders who have a whole panoply of Google Alerts set up to detect any new news story or blog post discussing secondhand smoke. When such a post appears, the flying monkeys descend on the comment thread to rant and rave about threats to liberty or to try and fail to pick apart the science. You saw it in my most recent post on secondhand smoke. We’ve seen it time and time again on this blog virtually any time I write about secondhand smoke (for instance, here, here, here, and here). In particular, Harleyrider1978 might well have influenced me to tip the prize to the smoking cranks. He takes the cake, as I hadn’t realized that there are still people out there who deny that smoking itself causes lung cancer and heart disease in those who actually inhale the toxic fumes from cigarettes themselves. Even the vast majority of secondhand smoke cranks concede that smoking causes cancer and heart disease, but not Harlyrider1978!

Still, it’s very, very close. In retrospect, maybe I should have named the anti-vaccine cranks as the winners. After all, they’re the only cranks who actually have tried to get me fired, which is a qualitatively different level of vitriol than just flooding the comments of my posts with inanity and insults. That wasn’t persistence, though. It only lasted a few days and then comnpletely fizzled out after my Dean basically ignored them and stood up for my academic freedom.

So, dear readers, I ask you right here and right now: What cranks do you think are the most annoyingly persistent, the most intensely obsessed, the must unrelenting and why? Who are the cranks who can rightly be called Terminator Cranks, because they can’t be reasoned with, don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and absolutely will not stop–ever–until a blog thread is dead.

Speak! Orac wants to know!

Comments

  1. #1 Dave
    December 3, 2010

    Im a little disappointed that you didnt give evolution deniers a bit more recognition. These guys atleast deserve an honorable mention for their longevity: I recently found in an antique bookshop a book published in the 1920′s against evolution. The amusing part is the arguments havent changed in 90 years.

  2. #2 MikeMa
    December 3, 2010

    Orac,
    While I think the idea of tying the cranks to a cause is laudable and fun, the true crank doesn’t just have one. Good ‘ol Sid Offit was spouting anti-fluoride crap just as ludicrously as he poops anti-vax crap.

    You may want to have a separate category for individuals regardless of cause. In that case I would I nominate Sid who comes down on the wrong side of every issue I’ve seen him comment on. Well done Sid.

  3. #3 Giliell
    December 3, 2010

    I go for the young-earth creationists, because for things like vaccination or smoking, you need a bit more scientific understanding to know how it works and why.
    But the evidence for an old earth and evolution is so big and much and obvious, it makes my brain hurt

  4. #4 symball
    December 3, 2010

    Um- don’t the Homeoquacks get a shout?

    They have been blithering on for over 200 years without realising that it has all been gibberish all along- in fact it is becoming less and less comperhensible with each new fad (homeopathy by wire?)

  5. #5 Sigmund
    December 3, 2010

    I find anti-vaccine cranks (particularly those in the unfortunate situation of having an autistic child) to be far more emotionally linked to the argument. The secondhand smoke deniers usually stick to the claim that secondhand smoke doesn’t cause cancer and avoid the mountains of evidence that it causes its harm mainly through damage to airways – asthma, heart problems etc. The ones I have argued with are usually easy to deflect when you concentrate on the non-cancer damage (I realize that second hand smoke DOES increase the rates of cancer but as its nowhere near the increase you get with firsthand smoke it is much easier to argue with them about the very clear data showing other forms of harm).
    Besides, the second-hand smoke deniers are usually pushing some sort of libertarian argument (“stop denying me my right to smoke in public”) and can sometimes be made to admit that there are circumstances where other people can have rights too. Anti vaccine loons, on the other hand, seem to think they are on a mission from God to save the world from the perils of inoculation and for them the end often justifies the means – and it that means telling untruths or smearing your opponents with falsehoods then so be it.

  6. #6 Brett
    December 3, 2010

    In my experience, AGW denialists are the worst in terms of spamming comment threads. Creationists abound, but they’re such a laughing stock that it’s rare for more than one or two to show up in a post on evolution.

    But with AGW denialists, you’ll get thirty people spamming comment threads with the same regurgitated nonsense. They’re like the 21st century’s creationists, only more paranoid.

  7. #7 Nancyinwi
    December 3, 2010

    Where do birthers fit in? Don’t they deserve a nomination? They weren’t on the initial lists, and they haven’t been around very long,but they’ll probably still be banging that drum 20 or 30 years from now, regardless who’s President then. They pack so much wingnuttery into that one idea–racism; Islamophobia, since they’ve convinced themselves he’s a secret Muslim, and I bet he’s in favor of fluoridation and he and the family are up to date on vaccinations. (OTOH, since he’s known to smoke once in awhile, maybe he gets some sort of credit for that). And they seem to have convinced a significant portion of the American public, not counting those who say they have doubts. Overall, though, tobacco denialists deserve first place (for now).

  8. #8 Dave Ruddell
    December 3, 2010

    I was just going to post about Birthers, but then I hit refresh and was beaten to it. The thing is, there’s no real woo involved with them; it’s all conspiracy. At least twoofers bring in a little ‘science’ to mock.

  9. #9 James Sweet
    December 3, 2010

    Yeah I think it’s the AGW denialists. For one thing, there’s probably more of them then any of the other types (though evolution deniers are a close second, in the US at least).

  10. #10 Denice Walter
    December 3, 2010

    I know that this might sound dreadfully mundane but, how about the food faddists? “Let your food be your medicine….” ad nauseum. Here is indeed a long history involving elements of sympathetic magic and the old, reliable concern about “purity”. Restricted diets have associations with religious beliefs (e.g. Judaic, Moslem, Buddist, Hindu, Jain, I’m sure I’m leaving out something from Korea or Japan) and more recently, other notions like “spiritualism”,”conservation”,”green” etc. Vegans** appear in many different contexts from the traditional to New Age: needless to say, vegetarianism is often a “cash cow” for woo-meisters- from “how-to guides” to supplementation and recipe books. Vegetarism can be cloaked in the “allure of the Mystical East” ( macrobiotics; Ayurvedic dosha-type diet; Taoist 5-elements) or not ( 7 Day Adventist). Mercola goes on a bit about blood-type and Paleolithic diets. Of course, infernal toxins (always a winner for woo) necessitate organic farming and freedom from Monsanto. “Orthorexia” should be in the DSM V.

    ** Do they come from Vegas or Vega?

  11. #11 Loren
    December 3, 2010

    Birthers bring a little pseudoscience to the table. Mostly claims that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery (and fake Birther ‘experts’ have produced reams of ‘research’ to support this conclusion), but also stuff like claiming that all photographs of young Obama and his mother are Photoshopped fakes:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7nwdWZu1VA

    And is ‘woo’ can be defined broadly enough to incorporate crank legalism (like tax deniers and flag fringers), then there’s no doubt whatsoever, as Birthers are absolutely awash in crank legal theories.

  12. #12 Daniel J. Andrews
    December 3, 2010

    I’d go with evolution deniers too, or AGW denialists (full disclosure–I’m a biologist/ecologist so I may be a wee bit biased as to who are Terminator cranks).

    I think the thing to look for in Terminator cranks is their ability to hijack the political process in order to push their agenda through. Using that criteria I think the tobacco denialists are now on the wane, while evolution denialists and AGW denialists are still strong…especially when you consider the McCarthy-like witch-hunts coming from people like Inhofe or on a state level like Virginia’s AG Ken Cucchinelli (AGW); or the constant battle to keep evo deniers from altering textbooks in schools or dictating teaching agendas using the local political level.

    Those two are the most persistent and the most dangerous in the long-term. The next few years in U.S. politics may be a ‘interesting’ science-wise with two flat-out deniers/conspiracy theorists vying for the chair of the House Science Committee (one of them has a track record of pushing progress backward to the 50s when he was with the Dept of Energy by shutting down clean energy initiatives).

    As an aside, wonder if instead of calling them “denialists” we could call them “denailists” because every other week they’re trumpeting about ‘de’ final nail in the coffin of [insert crank theory here]?

  13. #13 Chris
    December 3, 2010

    The birthers seem to post once or twice and then go away. I believe there is only one persistent one who continually changes his ‘nym (he also is a colloidal silver crank).

    Another group that appears, but then disappears are the cranks who come out when posts on animal rights terrorists.

    I can see where the tobacky folks can be the top. It is usually one or two who continue to come back over and over again.

  14. #14 Eric Lund
    December 3, 2010

    Um- don’t the Homeoquacks get a shout?

    You make a good case that they should have been in the top ten, but they are nowhere near league champions. They don’t seem to be organized to nearly the extent that many of the other groups are, and they are mainly harming themselves rather than threatening me or any children besides their own. Creationists, AGW deniers, and anti-vaxers do pose such threats: interfering with education, trying to suppress scientific knowledge, and in the case of anti-vaxers threatening those who for whatever reason depend on herd immunity in order to not get sick (recall that there are some people who have legitimate medical contraindications for vaccines, and others for whom the vaccine does not by itself produce immunity).

    As a physical scientist, I’m inclined to vote for AGW denialists, but it’s a close call between them and creationists.

  15. #15 Daniel J. Andrews
    December 3, 2010

    *in previous comment should be [insert theory here] (drop the “crank”) … siighhhhh.

  16. #16 Adam
    December 3, 2010

    There’s one small group of cranks whom you didn’t mention, and that’s the pro-bleach-drinking cranks.

    Now, granted, they are a small bunch, and I fully expect them to get smaller over time, particularly if they keep drinking bleach. And for the record, I don’t think they come even close to beating the anti-vax folks in your competition.

    However, I think they deserve special mention simply for the sheer craziness of the idea that drinking bleach* is a miracle health cure that cures all known diseases.

    I think it may come from some kind of confusion between “this stuff kills bacteria if I use it to clean my kitchen” and “this stuff will make me healthy if I drink it”.

    If you’re not familiar with this particular brand of crazy, here are a couple of relevant links:

    http://jimhumble.biz/biz-mmsintro.htm
    http://phaelosopher.wordpress.com/

    * Not any old bleach, obviously. That would be crazy. It has to be a particular brand of bleach called “MMS” which, by an amazing coincidence, just happens to be sold by the people claiming it’s a miracle health cure.

  17. #17 IBY
    December 3, 2010

    Hhmmm… I don’t know, AGW deniers are so persistent. Every single time they flood badastronomy in full force whenever any comment of AGW is made there. I have seen similar floodings elsewhere.

  18. #18 Vinny Burgoo
    December 3, 2010

    Wot? No anti-corporate cranks? A loathing of Big Business is the mother lode of crankery. Enthusiasm for homeopathy, faddy food and the climapocalypse; opposition to vaccines, nanotechnology and GM crops – these and other hippy-dippy crankeries are often mere symptoms of an underlying resentment of Daddy^WThe Evil Men In Suits Who Run The World. It’s probably an Oedipal thing.

  19. #19 Ahistoricality
    December 3, 2010

    I had a moon-walk denier student once: turned out to be a great opportunity to talk about the nature of historical evidence and plausibility (would Russia, for example, have let us get away with faking it?). Don’t think I convinced ‘em, but it was a good discussion for the rest of us.

  20. #20 Phoenix Woman
    December 3, 2010

    “Indeed, I strongly suspect that there is a cadre of tobacco defenders who have a whole panoply of Google Alerts set up to detect any new news story or post discussing secondhand smoke.”

    Probably tobacco company employees.

  21. #21 Party Cactus
    December 3, 2010

    I’m going to go with a less commonly mentioned group. The ones who my goat are the anti-genetic engineering cranks. Not anyone who wants to have honest discussion about the merit of an issue in the subject, but the ideologues who insist on passing off their own ignorance as fact, use unrelated arguments, and claim any and all scientists who disagree with them are ‘industry sponsored shills’ who can’t be trusted. You can’t have an honest discussion with someone who will say, ‘All of your evidence is clearly fabricated because I’m right and they refute my arguments, so I’m going to ignore them.’ I’d say they’re terminator cranks because they demand that scientists act in an absolute vacuum (anything funded by universities, NGOs, or the government is corrupt to them) and be divinely omniscient, while conveniently ignoring the denialist tactics their own side uses (I kid you not, one once told me that calling them on logical fallacies was part of the ‘shill handbook’). They get less attention from skeptics than the other crank groups, but since I concern myself more with agriculture than medicine, they get my vote.

  22. #22 Jojo
    December 3, 2010

    Overall, I’ve got to hand it to the AGW deniers. Not only do they have persistence, but they also rank really high for being annoying and the long term impact of their actions are even more nightmare inducing than the anti-vax loons.

    On a personal level, I’m with Denice. The food woo stuff is pretty harmless, but it’s really common in my circle and it drives me batty. I deal with everything from the basic starches are evil people through the blueberries are magic folks and onto people who have made being a vegan part of their identity. The amount of ignorance, magical thinking, and arrogance I encounter daily in regards to food magic is more than I can take sometimes. I’ve found myself close to shouting that potatoes will not kill you on far too many occasions.

  23. #23 JakeS
    December 3, 2010

    You forgot the Austrian economics cranks. The insidious thing about the Austrians is that for the first dozen or so comments, they’ll look like any old neoliberal quack – it’s only when you start dismantling the orthodox neoliberal lies that they’ll roll out the true crazy. So you can easily waste an hour trying to deprogram somebody who looks like he’s just been taken in by the conventional wisdom, when he is in fact a hardline crackpot. (The fact that the conventional wisdom in economics bears sufficient resemblance to Austrianism that one can be mistaken for the other should be somewhat disconcerting in and of itself, but that’s another story.)

    - Jake

  24. #24 knotfreak
    December 3, 2010

    @Vinny Burgoo

    Being suspicious of creeping corporatism is hardly a conspiracy theory of any kind. You don’t have to be “hippy-dippy” to worry about corporate influence on politic,s or to be alarmed by the Citizens United decision of a right-leaning court.

  25. #25 Just Sayin'
    December 3, 2010

    I had a moon-walk denier student once

    …who obviously never heard of Michael Jackson.

  26. #26 Eric Lund
    December 3, 2010

    Wot? No anti-corporate cranks? A loathing of Big Business is the mother lode of crankery.

    There are in fact perfectly good reasons to not like Big Business, and there are plenty of crank fads that Big Business promotes. It’s not the anti-corporate types who are denying that tobacco/secondhand smoke are harmful, or claiming that humans are having no effect on global climate. Some of the new drugs that Big Pharma develops are needed because bacteria or parasites have developed resistance to the drugs that used to be effective treatments for diseases caused by these bacteria or parasites, so anti-evolutionists are ipso facto not shills for Big Pharma. And let’s not get into the dubious economic theories that led us into the housing bubble and dictated our response to its collapse.

    Corporations are legally required to maximize shareholder return. They will take legal issues into account, but they need not consider ethical issues per se (i.e., if they refrain from unethical act X it will be because they have calculated that the legal and business costs of doing X will exceed the financial benefits to them). Sometimes maximizing profit coincides or overlaps with your interests, and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, too bad for you. Yes, that gives ammunition for certain kinds of crankery, because all too often the profit motive is consistent with that portion of the relevant crank theory. The crank theories are crank theories because they get most of the facts wrong in obvious ways, even as they get some things right.

  27. #27 jre
    December 3, 2010

    Orac, since you were kind enough to cite my (admittedly incomplete) list, I feel both obligated and privileged to venture an opinion:

    For passionate, immovable conviction, reckless viciousness of expression and pure hellhound-on-my-trail persistence, I have to call it a horserace between HIV deniers and anti-vaxers. But there are more of the latter, so it’s anti-vax by a nose.

    But there is often more entertainment value in the other flavors of wackaloonery.
    Funny story: back in the 1970s, when my dad was a project scientist with NASA, he had the experience of sitting next to a moon-hoaxer on a flight. As he related it to me, the conversation went something like this:

    MH: You know that whole moon landing thing was a trumped-up hoax, don’t you?

    Pop: Well, I work for NASA, and I know a lot of the people who designed, built and flew the launch vehicle and the spacecraft, and I go to the launches. I’m reasonably sure that we actually did go to the moon.

    MH: So they got to you too, huh?

  28. #28 Robert Grumbine
    December 3, 2010

    Your choice of tobacco is better than you perhaps realize. A fair swath of the climate change denial industry is funded by the same people (c.f. Koch brothers) and staffed/fronted by the same people (c.f. Singer, Lindzen) working with the same institutions (c.f. Heartland) as the tobacco denial industry.

    On a recent trip through a very bad (scientifically) presentation on climate, I traced the references for a figure. The original was a think tank named multiply in the tobacco letters. They were misquoting (to make human contribution to climate change seem smaller than it is) another think tank that was also named in the tobacco papers. This one misquoted two more think tanks (again, to make human contribution seem smaller than it is), both of which were also named in the tobacco papers. The four mission statements were nearly identical, as were lists of funders. None had science in its mission, nor climate change.

  29. #29 sagossens
    December 3, 2010

    How do you decide who is and who isn’t a crank? Is it just your personal preference?

    Personally, I’m sick to death of AGW cranks claiming that the earth is warming, when it’s been cooling for the past decade, and right now I’m freezing. AGW is a mad new doctrine which tells people that the world is getting warmer when their own personal experience says exactly the opposite: that the world today is much like the world was 50 or 100 years ago. What you call an anti-AGW crank is what ordinary sensible people thought 25 or 50 or 100 years ago, and what ordinary sensible people still do believe. It’s was common sense then, and it’s common sense today, and it’ll be common sense tomorrow. To believe AGW scaremongering you really have to be the sort of naive and credulous douchebag who’ll soak up whatever they’re told by the media, and by self-styled ‘climate scientists’ without a trace of skepticism.

    Same goes for so-called secondhand smoke. Anyone who has been in a smoky bar knows perfectly well that it’s harmless. And furthermore most of the studies of it have shown that too. Once again it’s the naive and credulous and impressionable who are taken in by this swill.

    And no I’m not anti-vaccine or a moon landing denier. I’m just sick of so-called authorities telling me what I’m supposed to think. They can all get lost.

  30. #30 Sid Offit
    December 3, 2010

    Tobacky / 2nd-hand smoke denialists – Tobacky, No. second hand possibly overstated
    Climate septics – Yes
    Anti-vaxers – Yes
    Anti-fluor / Precious bodily fluids defenders – Yes
    Free energy / perpetual motion advocates – ???
    9/11 troofers – No
    Carson=Hitler DDT boosters – Leaning no
    Moon landing revisionists – No
    HIV deniers – Maybe
    Holocaust – No
    Obama Muslim socialist – Yes

  31. #31 Scott Cunningham
    December 3, 2010

    Strangely enough, I’ve mostly met anti-vaxxers and holocaust deniers in real life. My only experience with the others is limited to net forums and their silly books.

    Given my limited real-life experience, I vote that holocaust deniers lose. Even they don’t seriously believe themselves. They can’t state their denials without shouting “uno mas!” in the same breath, and if these overt anti-Semites honestly believe the rubbish they say, why then do they worship and venerate Hitler? Exactly.

    So they lose.

    The anti-vaxxers I’ve met, on the other hand, are far more numerous and earnest in their wackiness. A friend of my dads typifies the anti-vaxxers I’ve met. He can spot and name logical fallacies when they’re employed by creationists, anti-fluoride loons or other typically right-wing cranks online, but then turn around and use exactly the same fallacies, goalpost-shifting and shill gambits to attack vaccines. Yet he has a science education, and yet basic biology and chemstry fly out the window as soon as the topic crosses the border, like vaccines live in their own state with special laws.

    I don’t really have enough experience with other denialisms to declare a winner, though.

  32. #32 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
    December 3, 2010

    What is this “Holocaust” you are talking about?

  33. #33 Tacroy
    December 3, 2010

    I would have to say that the anti-evolutionists are the overall most successful, if only because they’ve managed to push the Overton window on this topic over so far in their direction that the general population believes ID lite is totally true – i.e, that evolution is mostly random, but God meddles in it at times despite the fact that we’ve never found any evidence for anything like that. But they’re still not those kooky creationists, oh no!

  34. #34 Militant Agnostic
    December 3, 2010

    sagossens is poe right. I mean no one would seriously make these arguments against the scientific consensus on sa science blog right.

    personal experience says exactly the opposite

    what ordinary sensible people thought 25 or 50 or 100 years ago, and what ordinary sensible people still do believe

    We have never seen anti-scientific cranks use arguments like these.

  35. #35 Daniel J. Andrews
    December 3, 2010

    How do you decide who is and who isn’t a crank?

    Was going to respond, but on second reading I think I was taken in by a poe. :)

    Regarding my previous comment on how Terminator cranks can be rated by the way they influence politics…

    blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/12/03/antiscience-party/

    If that doesn’t depress you, follow some of those links.
    –dan

  36. #36 Sid Offit
    December 3, 2010

    and there are plenty of crank fads that Big Business promotes.

    Sounds like GE, SIEMANS and AGW

    And let’s not forget the high-speed rail cranks

  37. #37 Vinny Burgoo
    December 3, 2010

    sagossens: Personally, I’m sick to death of AGW cranks claiming that the earth is warming, when it’s been cooling for the past decade, and right now I’m freezing.

    That’s right. We must all listen to our knees. Knees don’t lie.

    http://i53.tinypic.com/2po49di.png

  38. #38 Orac
    December 3, 2010

    I love how sagossens (a few comments up) provides a living example of what I’ve suspected for a long time, namely that AGW denialism and secondhand smoke “skepticism” go hand in hand a large percentage of the time. Tim Slagle is another example:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/07/the_perpetuation_of_bad_arguments_1.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/07/the_smoke_thickens_along_with_some_other.php

    Yep, anti-AGW denialism and secondhand smoke crackpottery, two great crankeries that taste great together!

  39. #39 Raging Bee
    December 3, 2010

    I’m voting for the AGW denialists, because a) they’re backed and guided by some very powerful reactionary economic interest groups, and b) their denialism is driven by an ever-more-desperate refusal to tolerate any talk of changing our lifestyles to protect the environment. The economic interests driving those cranks are stronger and more pervasive than any economic interest in creationism, trooferism, birtherism, anti-vax-ism, or any of the other cranks’ pet issues.

  40. #40 Raging Bee
    December 3, 2010

    AGW is a mad new doctrine which tells people that the world is getting warmer when their own personal experience says exactly the opposite…

    Really? What about the personal experiences of people living on islands that will soon be underwater due to shrinking glaciers? What about the personal experiences of people who live near glaciers and see them shrinking from year to year?

    …that the world today is much like the world was 50 or 100 years ago.

    Really? How much climate science is based on the recollections of centenarians about the weather? (And besides, has anyone ever met a person over 50 who doesn’t think the world has changed in his lifetime?)

    Same goes for so-called secondhand smoke. Anyone who has been in a smoky bar knows perfectly well that it’s harmless.

    Excuse me, dumbshit, but I’ve been in plenty of smoky bars, and I know damn well it’s NOT harmless. I also know many people who have athsma, or allergies, and it sure as Hell isn’t harmless to them.

    And furthermore most of the studies of it have shown that too.

    Citations, please, or admit you’re full of shit.

    Once again it’s the naive and credulous and impressionable who are taken in by this swill.

    Yeah, people with athsma and allergies are SOOO stupid about their own health. They should take advice from people who inhale smoke every day until they get cancer, haeart disease or emphysima.

    sagossens, you’re a fucking ignorant asshole.

  41. #41 Michael
    December 3, 2010

    #24, there’s a difference between legitimate suspicion of corporate influence in our political process, and conspiracy theories like “all the “proof” that AIDS exists has been manufactured by Big Pharma”. The Corporate conspiracy theorists indeed fall into the category of cranks.

  42. #42 Vinny Burgoo
    December 3, 2010

    Eric Lund: Yes, that gives ammunition for certain kinds of crankery, because all too often the profit motive is consistent with that portion of the relevant crank theory.

    But it’s often (a very handy word, that) clear that the visceral loathing of Men In Suits came before any rational opposition to specific damage done by Big Business and that this loathing fuels ‘certain kinds of crankery’ rather than merely coinciding with it. The incoherent, scattergun rage that was (is?) the anti-globalisation movement might be a good example of this, but I’d have to have a think before stating that with greater certainty.

  43. #43 Jojo
    December 3, 2010

    Whether sagossens 229 is a poe or serious, I think it counts as a vote for AGW denial being the most persistent.

  44. #44 Kapitano
    December 3, 2010

    What about capitalism cranks? Objectivists, Rand Paul, those who genuinely believe in infinite economic growth, etc.

    Some of these people may be in positions of power, but calling medicare ‘hardcore marxism’ and blaming the BP disaster on too much regulation…that’s seriously deranged.

  45. #45 Raging Bee
    December 3, 2010

    What about capitalism cranks? Objectivists, Rand Paul, those who genuinely believe in infinite economic growth, etc.

    They tend to appear in large numbers only when told to do so by a libertardian candidate or a corporation in need of a quick smokescreen. In most cases, their presence is obnoxious and insulting, but rarely long-lasting. Once they’re done chanting “go ron paul” and equating liberals to Hitler and Pol Pot, they really don’t have much to say.

  46. #46 Joseph Hertzlinger
    December 3, 2010

    One interesting phenomenon is that of bouncing cranks. This occurs when a crank from Side A invades a discussion forum normally inhabited by Side B and acts in such an ignorant manner as to convince a Side-B crank to invade Side A. (Both cranks think they are relieved of any responsibility to find out anything about the Other Side’s opinions.)

    For example, I suspect that a large fraction of AGW denial has been inspired by anti-nuclear cranks.

  47. #47 Shay
    December 3, 2010

    Birfers may not be the worst, but in my experience they are the scariest. These people want to bring back Judge Lynch and summary executions by firing squad.

  48. #48 JakeS
    December 3, 2010

    Anti-globalisation activism is hardly based on some sort of inchoate rage against The Man. Anti-globalisation activists usually have a quite canny perception of what sort of policies promote misery and corruption, although some of them are a big fuzzy on the difference between legitimate free trade (in finished goods), off-shoring (which may or may not be legitimate, depending on how much rent-seeking is involved), and liberalised cross-border financial flows (which are almost always a crude cover for criminal behaviour). However, this fuzziness is at least as much the fault of the economists and globalisation advocates who deliberately conflate these issues in order to dismiss the valid objections to free cross-border financial flows through a spurious conflation with protectionism.

    Where you will sometimes find inchoate rage is in the communities that suddenly lose their electricity supply or see the cost of heating their homes skyrocket due to an IMF “structural adjustment” (read: thirdworldisation) programme. They may not always have the information necessary to spell out who their enemies are (although they actually often do), but you would be hard pressed to deny that they have real enemies who are making their lives harder than they have to be.

    - Jake

  49. #49 John Mashey
    December 3, 2010

    I would suggest that “crank” is too all-inclusive a category.
    Some of these are pseudoscience and some are *anti-science” from p.7 of Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony (CCC)”.

    “Pseudoscience
    When ideas are repeatedly examined, often explicitly refuted, but originators persist in the face of a strong imbalance of evidence, at some point it becomes pseudoscience, an attempt to convince scientists to adopt ideas for which the balance of evidence is strongly adverse. In some fields, its primary use is sales.”

    For example, fuel-less engines and moon-landing fakery claims seem in this vein.

    “Anti-science
    Agnotology was coined by Stanford‘s Robert N. Proctor [PRO2008] to describe the deliberate production of ignorance and doubt. When applied to scientific topics, it might be called anti-science, employed especially when research results threaten strong economic or ideological interests. It is rarely intended to convince field professionals, but to confuse the public and especially decision-makers in government and business. Many modern anti-science PR tactics were created for tobacco companies and then used thereafter, often by the same people and organizations, especially in fighting environmental. (sic) Many scientists are unused to dealing with such tactics, since most scientific fields face no organized anti-science.
    The Internet offers new opportunities for anti-science amplification, using networks of media, websites, blogs, and public helpers. The practitioners are very experienced.”

    Fig 2.1, p.10 shows anti-science flow of money and memes. A key difference between it an typical pseudoscience is that the latter is usually concentrated in B1c (public, convinced), without any backing/funding from the machinery above. For creationism/ID, the key machinery at top would be the Discovery Institute, whose cofounder George Gilder is very anti-AGW, and a strong supporter of OISM and Arthur Robinson, who acted as fronts for the George C. Marshall Institute (GMI). Google: arthur robinson rachel maddow
    Watch the show for amusement. Although he lost his House race, people voted for him. He says he will try again, but still doesn’t know where his funding is coming from.

    Tobacco and anti-AGW are definitely in this vein, and as Bob Grumbine points out, these two are quite tied together.
    See CCC p.7-9 for the history of development of tobacco tactics and how they got adopted by climate anti-science entities.

    Appendix A.6.1, pp.92-95 shows funders down left, and across top, entities involved in climate science. Check top 2 rows, which have “T” for tobacco connection and “$” for funding shown here. In particular, p.93 shows the entities most involved in climate anti-science, almost all of whom have had tobacco connections. Of these, Heartland (p.68) is especially well-mentioned in the Tobacco Archives. Of course the only way to get most people addicted to nicotine is to get them hooked when ~12-18, a fact that tobacco companies have long known, as per RJR’s Importance of Younger Adults, a fien 6-page marketing analysis from ~1984.

    See Merchants of Doubt for a thorough discussion. That is a must-read book in this turf.

    Finally, for fun, see GOogle Map that shows the geographic location of most of the “institutes” that promote anti-science. Hint: if you are familiar with Washington’s K-Street it will help.

    SUMMARY:
    Pseudoscience is often silly, amusing and chaotic. Some parts of anti-science look that way from the outside (i.e., repeated blog posts by the Dunning-Kruger-afflicted) but are really well-organized, well-funded parts of a distributed network with clear goals. It is deadly serious, not very funny, but very effective. The Surgeon’s General report of 1964 was a long time ago. Anti-AGW is much-better organized and supported.

  50. #50 Michael Simpson
    December 3, 2010

    If the level of Crank is directly proportional to the number of deaths (either now or in the future), AGW denialism has got to be #1.

    Holocaust denialism, though basically a racist point of view, shouldn’t lead to any further deaths. At least that’s what I tell my kids.

  51. #51 Adam C.
    December 3, 2010

    I’m probably going to need to do a top 3. In no particular order:

    Creationists
    Anti-vaccinationists,
    and
    Woo-Peddlers (of all stripes, e.g. homeopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, etc, etc).

  52. #52 JakeS
    December 3, 2010

    @49: If you’re measuring by the number of dead people, jingoists are the über-cranks. Disease and starvation was not really preventable on a mass scale until fairly recently, so that leaves belief in the short, victorious war as the most damaging delusion in all of human history.

    - Jake

  53. #53 JakeS
    December 3, 2010

    @49: If you’re measuring by the number of dead people, jingoists are the über-cranks. Disease and starvation was not really preventable on a mass scale until fairly recently, so that leaves belief in the short, victorious war as the most damaging delusion in all of human history.

    - Jake

  54. #54 Michael
    December 3, 2010

    Jake, there have been short, victorious wars, though. More to the point, sometimes it’s not easy to predict whether or not a war with be short or long until the war actually starts. There’s a difference between being a crank and being wrong. For example, is someone who predicted in 1947 that the Israelis would quickly lose the war against the Arabs a crank? No- they’re simply incorrect.

  55. #55 jre
    December 3, 2010

    Scott @31 has a thought-provoking description of the “cafeteria crank”:

    He can spot and name logical fallacies when they’re employed by creationists, anti-fluoride loons or other typically right-wing cranks online, but then turn around and use exactly the same fallacies, goalpost-shifting and shill gambits to attack vaccines.

    Now, that’s put me in mind of yet another funny story, this time about my über-wooful girlfriend of many years ago, and a visit to the Spiritualist Church of Winnipeg, Manitoba, but this margin is too small to contain it …

  56. #56 Militant Agnostic
    December 3, 2010

    @29 – the “own personal experience” of the Inuit in the Canadian Arctic tells them the earth is getting warmer very quickly – which is exactly that the climate models predict for the poles. Actually whether sagossens is a poe or not the “my personal experience trumps the evidence” mindset goes hand in glove with the libertarian my right to do what I want trumps the rights of everyone else mindset.

  57. #57 trrll
    December 3, 2010

    In terms of body count, I think the tobacco/SHS denialists are probably in the lead, particularly if you count the industry organized obfuscation of the link between smoking and cancer, which probably gave many people a rationalization for not quitting.

    I expect that the HIV/antiviral denialists are second in terms of death toll, but they are on the wane, because a lot of them had HIV and followed their own advice, and thus are no longer with us. Still, they’ve racked up quite a death toll if you count the 3rd world.

    Antivaccine cranks are probably third on the death toll sweepstakes, pretty far back but gaining.

    But I think the AGW denialists have the inside track. I don’t think they’ve actually killed much of anybody yet (maybe a few extreme weather casualties, but even reasonable people could debate that). But it seems likely that worsened global warming due to delays in controls on CO2 emissions will ultimately kill more people than the other three combined.

  58. #58 John Mashey
    December 3, 2010

    re: #46 on anti-nuclear cranks => AGW denial (by reaction)

    I have found some very explicit examples that might fit , especially of nuclear physicists within certain age brackets:

    - angry that people protested nuclear plants after 3-Mile Island and Chernobyl

    -nuclear industry diminished

    Reasoning seems to be: environmentalists were wrong then, so they must be wrong about AGW, so no AGW. This of course makes no sense – if I were a nuclear physicist (I almost was, until UG senior year), I would love AGW idea, even if it weren’t true.

    In Catalog of reasons for anti-science, this might be an instance of POL2:

  59. #59 John Mashey
    December 3, 2010

    re: #46 on anti-nuclear cranks => AGW denial (by reaction)

    I have found some very explicit examples that might fit , especially of nuclear physicists within certain age brackets:

    - angry that people protested nuclear plants after 3-Mile Island and Chernobyl

    -nuclear industry diminished

    Reasoning seems to be: environmentalists were wrong then, so they must be wrong about AGW, so no AGW. This of course makes no sense – if I were a nuclear physicist (I almost was, until UG senior year), I would love AGW idea, even if it weren’t true.

    In Catalog of reasons for anti-science, this might be an instance of POL2: “Against”. In the tobacco history, a similar effect might be found in temperance unions’ crusades against smoking, before the medical research.

  60. #60 Steven Sullivan
    December 3, 2010

    The earth has been cooling for the last decade, sagossens (and I’m gonna a bet you really means since 1998, right, you meme-spouting clown)?

    Yet the temperature trends have remained upward, not down!

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/
    http://www.aussmc.org/documents/waiting-for-global-cooling.pdf

    Real temperature data: a neat *trick* to *hide the decline*!

  61. #61 adelady
    December 4, 2010

    My vote would go to AGW and anti-vax.

    My feeling is that their persistence and prevalence on blogs is related to their deeply personal nature. Personal?

    The anti-vaxxers are tapping into the I’d-never-hurt-my-precious-baby feeling. They rarely say it openly but sucking in gullible parents is all about avoiding the ‘guilt’ they might feel about subjecting an innocent little bundle to … shock, horror … an injection. Most of those parents hate injections themselves, nobody actually enjoys them.

    And you can detect a lot of similar guilt avoidance in AGW deniers. They are horrified by the notion they, they personally, might be responsible for the suffering of anyone – let alone someone they’ll never know. Much easier to cloak this in arguments about freedom .. to drive my SUV, or economics … it’s too expensive, or wishful thinking … people have always coped, our descendants will find a way out of this.

    (There’s also a bit of troofer cum racism here when the *socialist* Obama gets mentioned. But normally people who get personal are more interested in Al Gore being *fat*.)

    And that AGW freedom is often tied up with extreme economics – the two together are a wonderful exhibit floating in their little bottle of alcohol in the Hall of Deformed Ideas. I do believe kittens playing with knitting have never produced such a diabolical tangle.

  62. #62 adelady
    December 4, 2010

    Hit wrong button – preview is only a boon when you use it.

    …. troofer / birther cum racism …

  63. #63 Alan Kellogg
    December 4, 2010

    Being a contrarian I’d mention sasquatch denial, but since that’s socially acceptable (and it means doing a ton of research to find supporting material), I shall forebear. I will note that I find a lot of the sasquatch debunking out there is as vile and vitriolic as climate change skepticism or AIDS denial.

  64. #64 Rainborowe Spence
    December 4, 2010

    Can we nominate individuals? If so, I nominate Christopher Booker:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Booker

    Here’s his book with Richard North:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Scared-Death-Global-Warming-Costing/dp/0826486142

    (Note how high the rating is!)

    Here is the first sentence of its description:

    From salmonella in eggs to BSE, from the Millennium Bug to bird ‘flu, from DDT to passive smoking, from asbestos to global warming, ‘scares’ have become one of the most conspicuous and damaging features of our modern world

    Also it attacks the dangers of:

    leaded petrol, dioxins, and high-speed car driving

    http://richardwilsonauthor.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/christopher-bookers-co-author-caught-white-washing-his-track-record-on-wikipedia/

    Wikipedia also states he believes in intelligent design.

    Enough crankery for you?

    Oh, and I’m surprised no-one has mentioned Cantor cranks yet. It’s hard to be in more denial than denying a whole area of mathematics, since at least the other deniers have the excuse that the experimental and research work that demonstrates, say, global warming, is less tangible and demonstrable to the layman.

    Actually, now that I think about it, a more persistent crank than even Booker would be the incomparable Gene Ray.

  65. #65 andrewD
    December 4, 2010

    As a European, can I nominate the US politicians as the worst cranks?

  66. #66 Andreas Johansson
    December 4, 2010

    Not top-three material, but an honorary mention is due to the Velikovskians et sim. Unlike many others, they have no horse in the race beyond the satisfation of being Right when the establishment is Wrong, yet they’re willing to argue ad infinitum about how their idiosyncratic interpretations of cherrypicked mythology trumps basic physics.

  67. #67 MikeMa
    December 4, 2010

    @andrewD
    I’m in the US and I’d have to agree the level of ignorance and incoherence in US politics is mind boggling and increasing. We are in for some bad times here.

    Europe has its fair share of lunacy though. Berlesconi and Brown (gone and soon forgotten) both provide stand up comedians much material.

  68. #68 Wren
    December 4, 2010

    @64: As an American living in the UK, I’d have to say yes.

    I’d like to nominate the entire membership of Smothering.com. In case the anti-vaxing isn’t enough, there’s also a lot of unschooling and unassisted childbirth there. I think the basic flaw in the logic is that natural is automatically better, so not having any medical care in pregnancy and childbirth, not sending your kids to school or even schooling them at home and not vaccinating all beat out what society at large does. It’s a scary, scary place there, as other opinions are effectively banned.

  69. #69 geolith
    December 4, 2010

    The persistence of denial myths, and the adaption of logic to serve their perpetuation, is fascinating, but what I’d like to know more about is the way in which they arise and dissipate.

    Does an individual denialist ever doubt the constructed beliefs? Is he or she ever convinced by contrary evidence? Do individual denialists proceed through a progressive life cycle of denial, or do the beliefs ossify and become permanent?

    And what distinguishes the mental process by which a denialist evaluates evidence from the scientific process of hypothesis, predict, test and adjust?

    And there must be books to be written to show how the social institutions of denial interact in the Age of the Internet with the general population to identify, isolate, incorporate and maintain individuals who are prone to those beliefs…

  70. #70 Ben P
    December 4, 2010

    Reasoning seems to be: environmentalists were wrong then, so they must be wrong about AGW, so no AGW. This of course makes no sense – if I were a nuclear physicist (I almost was, until UG senior year), I would love AGW idea, even if it weren’t true.

    Among a broader AGW Denialist crowd the same reasoning seems to apply except referencing Al Gore.

    Al Gore = Democrat

    Al gore made a movie about Global Warming

    I don’t like Al Gore therefore no AGW.

  71. #71 PREDJAMA
    December 4, 2010

    Frank Fenner, who eradicated smallpox and ended rabbit plague, dead at 95

    http://tinyurl.com/2423mr7

    “The world being what it is, with an enormous and growing human population, if you want to protect children from the vast number of infectious diseases . . . vaccination is by far the best way to do it.”

    …Professor Fenner added: “If on the other hand, you wish to act against overpopulation, don’t vaccinate anyone, including your own children.”

  72. #72 Militant Agnostic
    December 4, 2010

    @46

    For example, I suspect that a large fraction of AGW denial has been inspired by anti-nuclear cranks.

    Any evidence of this? So far, most of the funding for the AGW denial machine comes from the oil industry and people like the Koch brothers and is funded through right wing groups like the Heartland Institute and Cato. I doubt that any significant AGW denial will be coming from the anti-nuclear cranks until reactor construction ramps up (if that ever happens – I am not holding my breath).

    Interestingly, the guy who founded Greenpeace is now a spokesman for the nuclear power industry because he sees it as an important part of the solution to AGW.

  73. #73 Michael
    December 4, 2010

    #66,I still say the Fomenkoites top the Velikovskians. Admittedly, they’re motivated partially by Russian nationalism but they’re willing to declare most of history a forgery, carbon dating,dendrochronlogy wrong,etc. on the basis of their mathematical model. I can’t think of another group of cranks that insists on a flawed mathematical model in the face of such *overwhelming* evidence to the contrary.

  74. #74 Stewart
    December 4, 2010

    I appreciate sagossens’ post above; as he was winding down his ravings he provided evidence of what may be a key element to crank psychology: envious distrust of authority.

    “I’m just sick of so-called authorities telling me what I’m supposed to think. They can all get lost.”

    Sagossens writes this, of course, after he claims authority to dictate the “truth” of global warming and second-hand smoke. Yes, he’s likely just a troll, but his last sentence, in the context of his post, was quite entertaining.

  75. #75 John Mashey
    December 4, 2010

    Re #72

    I’m not sure if this was what the original poster meant, and it certainly wasn’t what I meant, so let me try again.

    For the sake of argument, let me define:
    X : “Anti-nuclear crank” : no nukes anywhere, ever.

    (This is different from:
    No nuclear plant near my house. For example, I don’t want one anywhere near here, but that is simply because we live 5 minutes’s walk from the SanAndreas fault and there are no rivers anywhere near here for cooling. OR
    Nukes OK in general, but have to make sure real costs are accounted for, and processes handled much better than original US buildout. OR
    Minimize building of current designs until there are clear plans for 4th Gen reactors that can reuse wastes. OR
    Etc, which can be labeled as nukes like necessary, but need to be done right.
    Sone serious climate folks (like James Hansen) certainly think so, or folks like Nobelist Burton Richter. Personally, while California can probably do OK on solar, hydro, geothermal and wind, there are plenty if places in the world that will likely need nukes if they are ever to eliminate coal and still have much electricity.

    Y = other extreme: nuclear is THE answer, the only answer.

    I have never seen any trace if X supporting climate anti-science.

    I have seen (and documented) specific cases where Y supported climate anti-science, typically nuclear scientists/engineers more or less in baby boomer generation, who grew up thinking nuclear power was going to be the field.

    Again, the reasoning chain seems to be that people sho accept AGW include X, and therefore AGW cannot be true. People write this stuff down., which I found in studying the physicists who signed a petition last year.

    So, the anti-AGW views are sometimes reactions to X, not that X supports anti-AGW.

    In more detail, the parallel with 1800s temperance unions and cigarettes is:

    It is immoral to smoke!
    A: i don’t smoke, but who are you to tell me it us immoral?
    Let me go try these cigarettes.

  76. #76 John Mashey
    December 4, 2010

    Someone mentioned examples where people can show fallacies in big chunks of pseudoscience or antiscience, but totally buy some particular type, meanwhile being proud to claim the classic skeptical label.

    A great example was found over at Skepticsl Inquirer.
    SI published a straightforward article in AGW.
    The Editor was inundated with “cancel my subscription” letters; in the first wave, the only supportive letter was mine. Some truly bizarre email conversations ensued, including some from one who had often written for SI. Some people were absolutely sure that AGW was a hoax.

  77. #77 Composer99
    December 4, 2010

    May I be the first to say that Alan Kellogg wins the thread for his sasquatch comment.

  78. #78 iamnothouse.com
    December 4, 2010

    Really? I’d go with AGW Denial, personally. That’s the one, IMO, which lures in the most diverse spectrum of people, and because its less of an exact science as, lets say, vaccines, its easier for the layperson to say “well, it got cold today, therefore global warming is a hoax”

  79. #79 James Fox
    December 4, 2010

    I always find it amazing that a large number of denialists and cranks are firm believers in the supernatural absent one shred of evidence. I suppose the pump needs to get primed with something.

  80. #80 Vinny Burgoo
    December 4, 2010

    Wordiness is a necessary but insufficient indicator of crackpottery.

    Comments?

  81. #81 steverino63
    December 4, 2010

    Tobacco cranks, Orac, also usually have the sidebar baggage of being hardcore libertarians in general, which antivaxxers don’t. You made the right call. (That said, I’d put global warming denialists at No. 2 for the same reason and move antivaxxers to No. 3.)

  82. #82 Dangerous Bacon
    December 4, 2010

    The most doggedly persistent cranks in my view are the antivaxers.

    They’ve been around longer than any of the other cranks/denialists listed in Orac’s post, and the most inventive when it comes to justifications for their views.

    Arthur Allen’s “Vaccine” discusses the origins of antivax sentiment with the first public vaccination programs well over a century ago (based largely on resistance to any government mandate, with a few complaints of un-naturalness/adulteration-of-body-fluids thrown in). The more recent autism scaremongering aided by mercury/aluminum/toxin du jour gambits have demonstrated not just that the antivax movement is as fanatical as cranks in other fields, but that they are tops overall in ignoring evidence, shifting goalposts, conspiracy theory promotion and championing quacks and fakes who agree with and exploit them.

    So for longevity, fingers-in-the-ears determination to avoid reason and sheer nuttiness, antivaxers most deserve the title of Terminator Cranks*.

    *honorable mention to the antifluoridationists.

  83. #83 Joseph Hertzlinger
    December 4, 2010

    Irony alert: Conspiracy theorists on an anti-crank thread.

  84. I think it simply varies depending on who you are as a blogger. You’re getting the health-related cranks here. The climate and evolution denialists and 911-troofers and birthers tend to post for ever and ever on other sites.

  85. #85 dedicated lurker
    December 4, 2010

    I’ve found that hardcore libertarians tend to embrace a whole cascade of cranky ideas. There are probably exceptions, but I’ve seen them endorse every weird idea but Holocaust denial and perpetual motion, and don’t hold me to the last two.

  86. #86 George
    December 4, 2010

    I am sorry but as a Canadian I think many of the people on here are not familiar with that subspecies called the Canadian AGW denialist.

    To put this into context you must understand that this sub-species brings being annoyingly persistent, and most intensely obsessed to a whole new level. This sub species survives in a country which is experiencing some of the most dramatic climate change effects on the globe. Just think Arctic temperature anomalies, retreating Arctic sea ice, boreal forest destruction, melting tundra glaciers, well not to be annoying, you get the idea.

    Now juxtapose against this context, a Canadian who says “Climate change? What climate change? I believe the climate is cooling.” Being around this sub species can result in any number of problems ranging from stuttering, experiencing a psychological effect similar to being stunned by a taser and serious dislocation due to jaw dropping to ground. The more dangerous of this this Canadian sub species is the Albertan Tar Sands Climate denialist. Exposure to this sub species is to be avoided at all cost since exposure even for short intervals is often fatal.

  87. #87 Marilyn Mann
    December 4, 2010

    Cholesterol deniers. I am referring to people who deny that LDL (“bad”) cholesterol causes heart disease. The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS) are known for this, but there are others. Cholesterol skeptics are usually also against the use of LDL-lowering drugs such as statins. Some of them are against the use of statins for primary prevention, but some are against statins for any indication whatsoever, even in people who have heart disease. I have argued with these people many times, but they are impervious to reason. Here is one of them:

    http://michel.delorgeril.info/

  88. #88 Marilyn Mann
    December 4, 2010

    Cholesterol deniers. I am referring to people who deny that LDL (“bad”) cholesterol causes heart disease. The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS) are known for this, but there are others. Cholesterol skeptics are usually also against the use of LDL-lowering drugs such as statins. Some of them are against the use of statins for primary prevention, but some are against statins for any indication whatsoever, even in people who have heart disease. I have argued with these people many times, but they are impervious to reason. Here is one of them:

    http://michel.delorgeril.info/

  89. #89 Anthropologist Underground
    December 5, 2010

    I’m torn. IRL vaccine rejectors have caused me far more personal conflict and angst than any other group. In part, this is because I am a vocal proponent of vaccination.

    That said, I think the AGW deniers win because their crank magnetism seems to attract a set of beliefs from a bizarre and opposite universe. The AGW science is complex, and I realize that there is a great deal of deferring to climatology experts, which can seem like conspiracy to conspiracy-minded people. However, their attendant crank beliefs are often so profoundly, demonstrably the opposite of the truth, that I wonder if we’re all engaged in some sort of reality/anti-reality dualism.

  90. #90 wmdkitty#83021
    December 5, 2010

    As a smoker, I can accept being forced to smoke outside. Fine. I follow the state law, staying 25 feet from building entrances and air intakes. I stay away from non-smokers. I try to stay downwind. I properly dispose of my butts.

    And I still get shit on for “polluting their air”.

    It’s always some jackass in a gas-guzzling SUV, too.

    What about your cars? Trucks? Hummers and SUVs? What about manufacturing plants? What about paper mills? What about the crap all THAT is spewing in to the air?

    My five-minute smoke break is NOTHING compared to the air pollution generated by industry and traffic!

    I’d like to see a little consistency in their gripes about “clean air”. Stop blaming smokers, and point the finger where it belongs. At yourselves.

  91. #91 David N. Brown
    December 5, 2010

    Anti-vaccine insanity gets a big boost from Tim Bolen, aka the Bolenator. In addition to his obsession with Stephen Barrett and propensity for dishonesty and/or delusion, he seems to be in the habit of telling people they will (not MAY, but WILL) be sued by third parties he obviously has no power to influence or authority to represent. In his latest rant, he’s claiming that, through subpoenas in DDI v. Barrett, the Consumer Health Digest mailing list will be seized, and public officials will be made “targets” (he won’t say of WHAT)simply for having their names on it.

  92. #92 David N. Brown
    December 5, 2010

    @64:
    I have read this book, and I don’t agree at all with placing the authors as “denialists”/cranks, at least not on the basis of this work. For the most part, I found it thought-provoking and reasonably well-informed. (A chapter on Satanic ritual abuse covered an area I had previously researched myself.) I would not consider their approach to be skepticism, so much as looking for more complex questions within an issue (eg. whether eggs or other vectors caused salmonella outbreaks). I also found them to be, at least in principle, strongly critical of the kind of pseudoscience (particularly combined with litigation or legislation) embodied by anti-vaccination, etc. In fact, I was very surprised they didn’t have a chapter on Wakefield and the MMR scare.

  93. #93 Tom
    December 5, 2010

    Forgive me for sticking my English journalist’s nose into your American science blog, but it seems relevant to me that AGW denialists have by far the most mainstream credibility. At least, they do on this side of the pond, where national newspapers with millions of readers can be openly sceptical about AGW in front page ‘news’ articles, and star columnists such as Richard Littlejohn and Jeremy Clarkson base a huge amount of their repertoire on sneering at the climate change ‘myth’.

    For example, a recent Littlejohn column (in right-wing mid-market rag The Daily Mail) noted that the country is currently in the midst of a cold snap, and said: “That’ll be the global warming then.”

    I can’t speak for the situation in the States, but if any of the other forms of crankery on your list were advocated in such a high-profile way, the newspaper in question would be met with absolute derision. Even the big anti-MMR campaign propagated by our press over the past decade or so seems to have died out for now. No-one would use a newspaper column to suggest that HIV doesn’t cause Aids or that smoking doesn’t cause cancer (though the ‘right to smoke’ brigade is still depressingly prominent). And although religion is still afforded special status, no-one propogates intelligent design or young-earth creationism as a valid alternative to Darwinism. The other forms of crankery listed are either seen as politically repugnant (Holocaust denial) or too obscure to make an impact (anti-fluoride, for example).

    So AGW denial has the most friends in high places.

  94. #94 Sam
    December 6, 2010

    Oh dear lord. Please don’t lump people who think the anti-smoking movement is being fast and loose with facts together with frickin’ global warming denial.

    There’s nothing but a handful of crappy meta-analyses supporting the more wild claims of heart disease and cancer risk, such as the fantastical notion that sidestream smoke is more toxic than inhaled mainstream smoke, with absolutely no plausible mechanism even offered, let alone shown.

    Yes, obviously prolonged exposure to high levels of carcinogenic smoke will lead to rise in cancer rates. But everything is a matter of proportion, and absolutely no proportion is used by the anti-smoking lobby in their claims.

    At the end of the day, my position is that bars and restaurants are private property, and if consenting adults wish to allow smoking on said property, and risk possible health effects, then that’s their prerogative. And I find the hysteria and pseudo-scientific garbage peddled by the anti-smoking movement insulting, because it’s the most insidious form of lying, the 20% garbage added to 80% truth. All in the name of saving people from themselves.

    You don’t like smoking. That’s fine. I don’t like jackasses on Harley Davidsons driving around subjecting everyone to the racket they make. But I’m not going to point to motorcycle safety statistics and spurious studies about traffic noise causing hearing loss because it makes my disdain sound more reasonable.

  95. #95 Jonathan Bagley
    December 6, 2010

    Just about all the statistics bolstering the claimed risks from passive smoking (ETS to Americans) is fraudulent. Ask any professional statistician to read the papers and give you an opinion. A Harvard Emeritus Professor said something to the effect that, “The science is awful but the end justifies it.” I’ve forgotten his name but you will be able to find the quote via a search engine. Everybody concerned with the issue in the UK has at some time admitted that the smoking ban was brought in to denormalise smokers and get them to give up (this hasn’t worked); protecting employees was an excuse.

    Please don’t confuse active smoking and passive smoking. Very few of those who believe that passive smoking has a very small effect deny that smoking itself is harmful.

    Smokers are angry about smoking bans because pubs and cafes are private property. I don’t know if you are aware that the UK smoking bans cover private clubs staffed by volunteers. Many non smokers are against the ban because they realise that drinkers and the overweight are the next targets. Indeed, several of the anti tobacco prohibitionists are behind the recent attempts in the UK to hinder the purchase and consumption of alcohol. Overweight people are now talked about in a manner which would invite prosecution were racial groups the target.

  96. #96 Chris
    December 6, 2010

    Johnathan Bagley:

    A Harvard Emeritus Professor said something to the effect that, “The science is awful but the end justifies it.” I’ve forgotten his name but you will be able to find the quote via a search engine.

    It is much more effective if you do the the googling and produce the name and quote to support your claim. Otherwise, you are just blowing smoke.

  97. #97 G.Shelley
    December 6, 2010

    I’d agree that some of the SCAMs should be up there – homeopathy, accupuncture, no matter how much they are shown not to work, nothing will ever trump “It worked for me”

    But overall, that smoking cranks, the anti vac cranks are just focussed on one small area of denial. The creationist have to ignore reams of evidence from a multitude of fields, which surely requires a higher level of dedication.

    I see you managed to draw in some smoking cranks, who apparently read some blog post somewhere that agreed with their pre-conceived ideas, so think this trumps all the other evidence you have discussed, but I would expect the other cranks to arrive soon enough. HIV denialists are normally pretty quick to find any blog that talks about then and I imagine most of the others are the same. This could end up as a crank fight, each doggedly defending their own irrational and idealogical based beliefs, while insisting that the science in the other areas is solid

  98. #98 Adam
    December 6, 2010

    Jonathan Bagley:

    Just about all the statistics bolstering the claimed risks from passive smoking (ETS to Americans) is fraudulent. Ask any professional statistician to read the papers and give you an opinion

    I’m a professional statistician. In my opinion, the evidence that passive smoking increases the risk of cancer and heart disease is compelling.

    But I’m wondering if that was a typo in your post, and you meant to write “tobacco company marketing executive” instead of “professional statistician”. It’s an easy mistake to make.

  99. #99 JohnV
    December 6, 2010

    @wmdkitty

    As soon as you drive your cigarettes to work we’ll talk :p

  100. #100 Mary
    December 6, 2010

    quote: #84 “I think it simply varies depending on who you are as a blogger. You’re getting the health-related cranks here.” I agree; I follow cycling news, where every single article that allows comments attracts a rabid hoarde of anti-bicyclist commenters, damning Lycra and complaining that bicyclists run through stop signs. It’s hard to find a topic that doesn’t attract cranks.

  101. #101 Aurini
    December 6, 2010

    I gotta admit, I’m pretty upset by your over-extension of the word ‘crank’.

    Crank is generally used to describe the purveyors of pseudo-science and provably false claims. If you were solely describing the “Smoking isn’t bad for you at all” crowd that’d be appropriate. As for the second-hand deniers, while they’re almost certainly wrong, they’re mainly suspicious of studies done with political agendas. They may or may not be crank material (vaccines have a simple and demonstrable history of one crank starting a ‘controversy’ – SHS studies were begun by sources looking for an excuse to ban smoking, and aren’t particularly clear in their results – some suspicion there is healthy).

    But you’re not stopping there – implicit in your article, and explicit in many of the comments, is the statement that Libertarianism itself is crank.

    If I agreed that second hand smoke caused illness, but then I said “My bar, my property, my decision to allow smoking,” does that make me a crank?

    Generally this blog does a lot to raise the sanity waterline, but this time around it’s boiling down things into an Us versus Them dynamic, grouping Smoking/AGW/Vaccines/Libertarians into the Out group. This kind of rhetoric does not help people be more rational.

    Honestly this is a failing I see a lot of in the Skeptic community. Don’t get me wrong, 99% of the time skeptics are going after quackery, and they’re doing a lot of good – but that other 1% of the time they’re going after something legit but strange, and they’re blinded by their own need for groupthink, sacrificing rationality on the altar of fraternity.

  102. #102 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 7, 2010

    If I agreed that second hand smoke caused illness, but then I said “My bar, my property, my decision to allow smoking,” does that make me a crank?

    Maybe, maybe not. In some places it makes you a law breaker.

    You may then argue that the law can’t tell you what you can and can’t do on your property – and that would then make you a crank. Because the law quite obviously can. For instance, you can’t:
    - allow drinking in your restaurant without the proper license (even if you don’t serve the alcohol)
    - provide or allow nude dancing (in some places without permit)
    - allow dancing at all (in some cities without permit)
    - bar the emergency exit to keep people from sneaking out
    - have conditions believed to be obvious fire hazards

    If smoking were the only activity so prohibited, your “my bar, my rules” theory might be arguable. In context, though, it’s one of a great many activities that may be regulated.

  103. #103 J Todd DeShong
    December 7, 2010

    I may be wrong, but there does not seem to be Organ Transplant Cranks. Is that because there is no denying that Organ Transplants work and actually save lives and extend lives by many, many years?
    JTD

  104. #104 J Todd DeShong
    December 7, 2010

    I may be wrong, but there does not seem to be Organ Transplant Cranks. Is that because there is no denying that Organ Transplants work and actually save lives and extend lives by many, many years?
    JTD

  105. #105 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 7, 2010

    I’m not sure about organ transplant cranks, but there are those who believe it is opposed to the normal order of nature (and thus refuse to participate). There are also those who believe that organ transplants in some way carry the spirit or personality of the donor into the recipient – a form of possession.

  106. #106 Jonathan Bagley
    December 8, 2010

    In answer to Chris #96.
    You are right. It took me a while to find the quote, as it wasn’t by a retired Harvard professor. Here it is:

    Dr. Alvan Feinstein “Yes, it’s rotten science, but it’s in a worthy cause. It will help us to get rid of cigarettes and become a smoke-free society” Yale University epidemiologist writing in Toxological Pathology in 1999 on passive smoking.”

    In answer to Adam #98.

    I agree there is probably some increase in risk, but that’s not saying much. When I leave work and breath in the fumes from the A34, I’m probably not doing myself much good. You need to more specific.

    For the sake of brevity, I’ll start at the top. You are probably familiar with Doll’s statement on Desert Island Discs, that the harm from being in the same room as a smoker was neglible. His colleague Doll, while seeming to agree with smoking bans in the hope that they may cut active smoking, has been less than enthusiastic about the claimed harm form passive smoking. Below is part of his evidence to a H of Lords Select Committee:

    Q404 Lord Skidelsky: But legislation should be based on some measure of hazards. That is the basis of all—

    Professor Sir Richard Peto: We know this is the most serious of all human carcinogens. In terms of numbers of deaths, just lung cancer alone is causing about one million deaths a year worldwide and smoking kills a lot more people by other diseases than by lung cancer. This is the most serious of all human carcinogens. It has to be causing some risk. Whatever risk it is causing, there is going to be uncertainty about it. It is difficult to measure small risks reliably, particularly on heart disease and particularly in people who are ex-smokers and have some substantial exposure previously. But, environmental tobacco smoke has to be causing some risk. In this country alone, we are talking about 100,000 deaths a year from smoking—actually, it used to be more than 100,000. These are really big numbers. Trying to minimise exposure or to limit exposure to such agents seems attractive to many people. The fact that it is difficult to measure these low risks is always going to be the case. Whatever those risks are, it is going to be difficult to measure them.

    Below is his reaction to the smoking ban (BBC webpage)

    “Cigarette smoke is the most important cause of cancer in the world and so the exposure of non-smokers to it is going to cause some risk of death.

    “But there is reasonable disagreement as to how big that risk is: smokers kill more smokers than non-smokers.

    “However, if this ban helps people who want to stop to manage to do so then it could save a lot of lives and prevent a lot of premature deaths.

  107. #107 ferp
    December 8, 2010

    “There are also those who believe that organ transplants in some way carry the spirit or personality of the donor into the recipient – a form of possession.”

    There was an episode of Shatner’s Weird or What that dealt with that – a guy received a heart transplant and was convinced his behavior was turning into that of his donor…

  108. #108 David N. Brown
    December 9, 2010

    @103:
    A durable and noxious set of beliefs that might be counted are tales, ranging from urban legends to outright hoaxes, about people being kidnapped and/or murdered for organs. It’s my understanding that these stories circulate mainly in the developing world as a “blood libel” myth about the US and/or Europe. Hence they don’t pose a direct threat to organ donations, bt they do have the potential to reinforce social divisions and prejudices, and certain poloitical agendas. Interestingly, there actually are at least plausible-sounding reports of the Chinese harvesting organs from executed prisoners, but such a state-sponsored enterprise would be pretty much the opposite of the hasty affairs featured in the legends.

  109. #109 tmaxPA
    December 11, 2010

    “I bet you didn’t see that one coming.”

    Actually, I did. Just because you included it on the list. And to be honest, “second hand smoke denialists” is just so freaking weak that it jumps out.

    Smoking tobacco causes lung cancer. I won’t quibble about the wording. But taking a statistical relationship between smoking and cancer, assuming it must therefore extend to second-hand smoke, and expanding the level of statistical correlation necessary to make it sound like a “public health hazard”, is really the edge of the liberal nanny state insanity, and I say that as a liberal nanny. People smoke tobacco incessantly for DECADES and MIGHT develop lung cancer, but anyone else even catching a whiff of the smell of tobacco will certainly “be more likely” (it doesn’t matter how many digits past the decimal point we are, does it, it is still “more likely”, right?) and must be protected from having to inhale known carcinogens (which naturally outnumber the number of elements in the air we breath, regardless of tobacco use) or they may well be one of the vanishingly small number of people who a) get lung disease, and b) don’t smoke themselves, but c) spend all their time with smokers. If there is even one, then all smoking should be banned. (Snark)

    Sorry; you’re stretching a relatively tenuous statistical relationship way way too far, both when you act as if second hand smoke is scary dangerous, and when you pretend that people who are aware this is stupid can be equated with those who deny global warning, evolution, or even that vaccines don’t cause autism. Jesus, get your head out of your ass. The reason the 2nd hand “denialists” are so persistent is because they aren’t denialists, they’re just right. So no, they’re never going to go away.

  110. #110 P_P
    December 11, 2010

    tmaxPA, sorry, but not everyone is against second-hand smoke just because they’re worried about inhaling carcinogens. Granted, that’s a valid reason to be worried; when you inhale, you don’t take in that much oxygen, and a lot ends up being exhaled, thus why artificial respiration when you’re doing CPR works. There’s no reason not to assume that a good portion of the carcinogens you inhale in smoke are also being exhaled in second-hand smoke.

    More importantly some of us like having a working sense of smell (it’s fucking gross seeing a chef smoke; tobacco comes out in your sweat and kills your sense of taste), not to mention not having our bodies end up smelling like we rolled around in raw sewage just because we stepped into a restaurant that allows smoking, or visited some idiot friend/relative who wasn’t considerate enough to go outside to light up.

  111. #111 John Mashey
    December 11, 2010

    tmaxPA:
    I’m afraid your timing was infelicitous.
    Can you explain why you know much more than Factsheet, the Office of the Surgeon General, which just released a New Report Dec 9?

    this chapter, p.363 is relevant or you can go back to the long report from 2006 just on secondhand smoke.

    Google: asthma smoking hospital
    I’ve know people who had to be very, very careful where they went … or they might well end up in the hosptial.

  112. #112 Barry Woods
    December 11, 2010

    40#

    Even the BBC say the islands are not sinking but growing…

    BBC: Islands growing not sinking.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10222679

    As for sea level 2 metre – by 2100, and 4 metres in a few hundred years

    that is wrong as well…
    Say the Met Office and Hadley Centre (hardly a hot bed of ‘denialists’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1335964/Alarmist-Doomsday-warning-rising-seas-wrong-says-Met-Office-study.html#ixzz17KZaXtHJ

    buried away in p19 half a column… I thought this good news would make the front pages…

    If you don’t like trhat the newspaper, same info, in the Guardian

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/06/climate-change-tropical-forest-greater

    If you want the original source:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/cop/MO_AVOID_prog_FS3_AW_LR.pdf

    It the eco-scare people that AGW sceptical are most sceptical of…

    But why let facts get in the way of a good bit of CAGW propaganda.

    In the same Met Office/Hadley Centre source.. The atlantic Gulf Stream is not slowing down either (big scare about Northern Europe with that one)

    Personally, I was overjoyed at the smoking ban in public places in the UK. I can now enjoy a meal without an odious smoker next to me, but I would concede that the risk due to being next to a smoker at a bus stop, are insignificant next to the risk due to the bus fumes..

  113. #113 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 11, 2010

    The “my bar, my decision” group forgets that the employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace for his or her employees. They are the ones who have a chronic long-term exposure to second-hand smoke and are at much more risk than the customers. In BC, at least, it was the Workers’ Compensation Board that got smoking banned in restaurants and bars (for good reason, IMHO)

  114. #114 tmaxPA
    December 11, 2010

    Having gotten a response, I can only consider my timing felicitous. The reason I “know more” (or rather say different things) than the Surgeon General is because I am not a political appointee. As we all know, the determining factor about what the SG can and does say is not science or knowledge, but political acceptability. It is politically unacceptable to accept any risks (or inconveniences) from second hand smoke at all, no matter how low and trivial. And they are, according to science, low. Science, alas, can’t measure trivial; what they can do is make everything sound really scary. Take for example the “one puff” principle. There is nothing people who want to ban a substance love more than saying how dangerous it is and one exposure will permanently change your brain and such. As far as I know, anything you ingest permanently changes your brain.

    I say again; smoking causes cancer (and other health effects). Second hand smoke causes paranoid whining, and other political effects.

  115. #115 John Mashey
    December 11, 2010

    Dunning-Kruger is curable, but only if someone is willing to learn.

  116. #116 John Mashey
    December 11, 2010

    Dunning-Kruger is curable, but only if someone is willing to learn.

  117. #117 Joseph
    December 11, 2010

    As for sea level 2 metre – by 2100, and 4 metres in a few hundred years

    that is wrong as well…
    Say the Met Office and Hadley Centre (hardly a hot bed of ‘denialists’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1335964/Alarmist-Doomsday-warning-rising-seas-wrong-says-Met-Office-study.html#ixzz17KZaXtHJ

    buried away in p19 half a column… I thought this good news would make the front pages…

    That’s quite inaccurate. The 2007 IPCC report projected 20 to 70 cm of SLR by 2100 (good summary here.) That’s because it did not consider ice melt, the most important aspect of SLR.

    70 cm (2.3 feet) might not sound like much, but it should be pointed out that SLR doesn’t track climate instantaneously. It took about 3,000 years for sea level to stabilize after the end of the last glacial period. That was about 120 meters of SLR for about 4 or 5 degrees (C) of warming. Keeping in mind that the relationship is non-linear, it’s chilling to consider what sea level might be a thousand years from now.

  118. #118 Barry Woods
    December 11, 2010

    I am not talking about IPCC 2007… that is misdirecting the issue.

    What was happening since then were IPCC scientists and others claiming the IPCC had not gone far enough, 2 metre and more were procliamed in 2009 and just (pre conference of course) at Copenhagen.

    Let us not pretend that the sea level scare stories were not ramped up just before Copenhagen.

    Guardian: ‘Copenhagen Diagnosis’ offers a grim update to the IPCC’s climate science – 25th November 2009 (- 6 days after climategate)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/25/copenhagen-diagnosis-ipcc-science

    “Twenty-six climatologists—including 14 IPCC members—have released a startling update to the [IPCC AR4 ] panel’s work, reporting that sea levels could rise and methane-laden arctic permafrost could melt much sooner than the panel had anticipated.

    Sea-level predictions revised: By 2100, global sea-level is likely to rise at least twice as much as projected by Working Group 1 of the IPCC AR4; for unmitigated emissions it may well exceed 1 meter. The upper limit has been estimated as ~ 2 meters sea level rise by 2100. Sea level will continue to rise for centuries after global temperatures have been stabilized, and several meters of sea level rise must be expected over the next few centuries.”

    At Cancun they were still saying 2 metres: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8170075/Cancun-climate-change-summit-small-island-states-in-danger-of-extinction.html

    “The study of climate change impacts in the Caribbean warned that sea levels could rise by up to 6.5ft (2m) by the end of the 21st Century if global warming continues. There is also an increased risk of hurricanes and storm surges. – Louise Gray”

    So it is not inaccurate, I was not referring to the IPCC report. JUst the pronouncement afte rit, and pre conference designed to alarm..

    There was quite a lot of fuss in the filed post Copenhagen as well.

    Times: Jan 10 2010, Climate change experts clash over sea-rise ‘apocalypse’

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6982299.ece

    So let us not pretned that their was not the escalation of seal level rise announcements…. PLus the silence of the lambs, no one acame forward to correct it…

    Until now, Met office report buried away, hardly any coverage, compared to headlines..

    Similarly, the gulf stream slowing down has been a major scare piece, touted by all the lobby group and many a scientist.

    Now we have the Met Office Hadley Centre Walker Institute, and the Tyndall centre, part of the AVOID consortium, saying very unlikey, 59 cm is A WORST case scenario, upto 2 feet possible, leaving plenty of plausiable denialbilty that the observed trend is less than a foot, well within the realms of entirely natural.

    I just thought this GOOD news the 2 metre and more is wrong, used to terrify school children and alarm the general public, deserves as much attention in the press as it got in the run up to Copenhagen..

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/policymakers/policy/avoid.html

    http://www.avoid.uk.net/

  119. #119 barry woods
    December 11, 2010

    117
    Why not quote my Met Office original source, or even the Guardian?

    Selective choosing of quotes so it might be dismissed as just the ‘Daily Wail’ ? Hopefully not.

  120. #120 Anonymous
    December 12, 2010

    Wmdkitty, one thing that used to annoy me was waiting at bus and train station only for someone to light up. I’m not even going to discuss the cancer issue of second hand smoke but rather the fact that I would have to spend the rest of the day with my clothes and hair stinking of cigarette smoke. Seeing as I’m not an idiot with a fuel guzzling suv, I should be allowed to complain about inconsiderate, cancer causing smokers.
    Also @aurini, ‘my bar my rules’ is so idiotic. I have picked nonsmoking restaurants and sat in their outside areas only to find myself downwind of a neighbouring bar’s smoking area. It would have been clear to the bars owners that the neighbouring restaurants were nonsmoking but didn’t really care despite the possibility of other restaurants losing business due to the bars smoking area. Competition doesn’t even apply in this case as bar didn’t serve food, restaurant did.

  121. #121 Anonymous
    December 12, 2010

    Wmdkitty, one thing that used to annoy me was waiting at bus and train station only for someone to light up. I’m not even going to discuss the cancer issue of second hand smoke but rather the fact that I would have to spend the rest of the day with my clothes and hair stinking of cigarette smoke. Seeing as I’m not an idiot with a fuel guzzling suv, I should be allowed to complain about inconsiderate, cancer causing smokers.
    Also @aurini, ‘my bar my rules’ is so idiotic. I have picked nonsmoking restaurants and sat in their outside areas only to find myself downwind of a neighbouring bar’s smoking area. It would have been clear to the bars owners that the neighbouring restaurants were nonsmoking but didn’t really care despite the possibility of other restaurants losing business due to the bars smoking area. Competition doesn’t even apply in this case as bar didn’t serve food, restaurant did.

  122. #122 Alan Kellogg
    December 12, 2010

    For top rank cranks I’d have to go with the anti-vaxxer crowd. They place people in peril, and not just children, but everybody. I grew up when chicken pox and measles were common diseases, I remember Mom and Dad being very worried each time one of their three sons got it. Don’t have the figures on hospitalizations and fatalities, but I doubt not a fair number of people were lost thanks to chicken pox alone.

    As for sasquatch and other out of hand denialism. . .

    . . .Sometimes actually looking at the evidence can surprise you. Works no matter what branch of science you talk about. GFAJ-1 may be only a common extremophile, but only thorough testing of the available data is going to establish that.

  123. #123 stuart large
    December 13, 2010

    Hi. I am concerned about the media, there are so many things being said that are just not true, for twenty years I believed what they said about saturated fats being bad for you, now I know they are not.
    Palm oil is bad for the ecology, when its a hundred times greener than soy bean oil.
    Climate change is causing seas levels to rise, they are notrising at all.
    Smoking. well all I can say is in the forties 58% of americans smoked, now it’s about 27% are smokers, so has lung cancer gone down NO it’s gone up 262%.

  124. #124 Doctor Smart
    December 13, 2010

    Well Let me take a crack at it.

    1) cigarettes and second hand smoke does indeed cause cancer as well as other medical problems
    2)No one doubts climate change. it changes four times a year. it’s called nature.
    3)I am an “anti-vaxer”. Those poison vaccines mames and kills. I will not take your fetal cells line derived crap.
    4)Flouirde is bad for your body.It causes mental clarity failure as well as nervous disorders. It should be banned.
    5)There is no such thing as free energy. Even it it was the environazis would have it banned in the name of global warming.
    6)9/11 was a horrible day. Islamofascist nuts attacked us and delcared war on us. End of story.
    7)Know nothing of Hitler DDt boosters, but nazis did use sodium flouride on prisoners to make them more obediant.
    8)The flag waving in the wind on the moon thing was never resolved. Germany was the first people on the moon that we know of. Just ask the CIA. You would be surprised at how many firsts the Nazis really accomplished.
    9)No one denies HIV. It killed many people every year. Gay men are ost suceptable to getting it. Of course I will be painted as a biogt for pointing out a proven scientific fact. That’s a given. Who know where it came from – Russians, monkeys, aliens, etc. Maybe it is a disease put here by God as punsihment for gayism? We may never know.

    So, how did I do?

  125. #125 No one of consequence
    December 13, 2010

    So, how did I do?

    As expected. You fail at life.

  126. #126 SAWells
    December 20, 2010

    Interesting how one crank diagnostic is a total failure to grasp which side of the argument is “common sense”.

    “I’m going to set fire to this toxic plant and blow the smoke over you. That’ll be harmless, right?”

    “I’m going to fill the atmosphere with gases that absorb infra-red. That won’t have any effect on the earth’s heat budget, right?”

    The sasquatch comment is still funniest of all, though.

  127. #127 David44
    December 28, 2010

    I nominate antivivisectionists who claim that animal research results in no benefit to humans or other animals as the worst of the denialists.

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