“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” - Often attributed to Plato but likely from Ian McLaren (pseudonym of Reverend John Watson)

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Paranoid conspiracists, crackpots, and climate change

As anyone who follows the continuing online debate regarding AGW/climate change will know, the number of skeptical (for those who contest the legitimacy of the contentions of the mainstream climatology community) or denier (for those who accept same) sites is huge. In reading some of the posts and comments on such sites, there seems to be a very significant population of participants who entertain bizarre theories of matters extending far beyond climate change. Their acceptance of the notion that those who promote action on reduction of carbon emissions are really tools of the vast conspiracy to subvert democracy, steal assets of hardworking Americans (or Australians) and subject all of us to domination by the one world socialist oppressors is a given. But many go far beyond.

On Steven Goddard's (a pseudonym as nearly as I can determine - his efforts to maintain anonymity are fairly strenuous) Real Science skeptical site (one of the more stridently vituperative sites) we frequently find the comments of one "omanuel" who, along with his disbelief in mainstream climatology, has a disjointed blog whose main theme seems to be that the energy we receive from the sun is not produced as is commonly held and promulgated by the cospiracists, but rather by neutron repulsion. Somehow, this conspiracy to hide the true source of the sun's energy is a part of the overarching conspiracy to dominate the world. Oliver K. Manuel's site is full of references to totalitarianism, David and Goliath, God, etc. Manuel signs as "Former NASA Principal Investigator for Apollo." I guess he must be right then.

Next, we find Harry Dale Huffman, an enthusiastic supporter of the "greenhouse warming fails to explain the surface temperature of Venus, therefore AGW is false" trope. Mr. (NOT Dr.) Huffman describes himself as an "independent research physical scientist, author, and discoverer of the astounding world design behind all the ancient mysteries." He's written several books laying out his discoveries. I haven't dived into the deep end of his theories but I did read his contention that the landmasses of the Earth are laid out (by aliens of some kind) in a regular dodecahedron. He reaches this conclusion by drawing lines that follow arbitrary portions of continental boundaries and measuring the intersections of these lines with latitude parallels. His blog site is entitled "The Earth and Man: Setting the Stage" and the url is  http://theendofthemystery.blogspot.com/.

And Goddard himself has some paranoid conspiracist tendencies. Refer to his post entitled "The Elephant in the Room" where he presents his case that James Holmes, the shooter in Colorado, is part of some greater conspiracy apparently being covered up by the government. The evidence is that a gag order was issued by the judge handling the case. Now, I'm no fan of secrecy (though I'm a HUGE supporter of privacy) but when John B., M.D. is fine with the gag order under the theory that the criminal case won't be tainted, Goddard replies "They are hiding something."

So does finding some of the paranoid/crackpot fringe mean that the skeptical/denier sites are wrong? No, it doesn't but it certainly motivates one to look carefully at the real arguments presented. The fact that such writing attracts these folks certainly should raise warning flags among those who have no baseline of climate knowledge and to whom the arguments presented sound "sciency" enough to be plausible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm on both sides of this issue. I'm selling carbon credits for the planting of trees at a secure, undisclosed location. The master for the certificates is done, and it's a beautiful work of art. Available in $50.00 denominations.
I also know the climate change emergency is a hoax, but I can't afford to admit that publicly, as I stand to make a fortune on the coat tails of this extravaganza. Can't let Al Gore get all the money.