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Dangerous Blogs: the cheque’s in the post

January 18, 2010

Over the last year, Monbiot and others have taken to attacking climate change denialists by accusing them of being ‘paid’ to spread their disinformation – an accusation that doesn’t really match the largely incompetent assaults on rationality and logic that denialist posts depend on (as opposed to genuinely sceptical posts, rare as they really are). Who on earth would cough up good money for such nonsense? While I am sure there are quite a few ‘shills’ out there, the real problem is the inverse relationship between the scale of the threat and the logic of the responses to it.

When I started writing and posting about climate change the discussions were fairly low key and disagreements modest. As time as gone on, and the threat become rather more compelling as the physical data has come in to support the theory, the response in the public domain has become increasingly hysterical and irrational. Arguments about the congruence between climate change mitigation and resource management for a burgeoning population are ignored. Logical constructs that demonstrate why this issue cannot be about taxation or control are drowned out by those clinging to the life raft of their own conspiratorial nightmares.

I have little hope that we will address climate change, either at the institutional level – because significant climate change mitigation is the vote-loser of all time – or at the public level, because the public, myself included, are not capable of assessing the science in any meaningful way. Thus, we are obliged to trust scientists at the very time our trust in any figure of authority is probably at its lowest in all history, since we believe we are better informed. This last point isn’t really true, because while there is a lot of ‘information’ swilling about, most of it is like sewerage. Sure, there are valuable things to be found in the ooze if you are prepared to get your hands dirty and can stand the smell, but information is not knowledge, and while we mistake blogs for reliable sources of information, we simply fool ourselves.

Denialists rely on blogs for they have no credible science to support their case. Warmists depend on science for they cannot rely on blogs and know this. As George demonstrates all too clearly, it is through the manipulation of public opinion that vested interests seek to blind us to the true nature of things. Compared to the CRU emails, the sheer scale of denialist disinformation and the utter, self-serving cynicism behind these campaigns demonstrates not only where the lies are being manufactured, but how gullible the public are when they read or hear something that agrees with their preconceptions.

So it turns out that having a computer and access to the Internet does not make us smarter, but rather the opposite. The propaganda channels multiply daily, and we are their targets. If you abandon reason and the critical facility you were born with, you read these blogs at your peril.

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