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Death threats are never OK, but for those without morals they can be a useful PR tool

Posted By Joanne Nova On June 6, 2011 @ 1:52 am In AGW socio-political,Global Warming,Media-matters | Comments Disabled

My sympathies go out to anyone who lives in fear for their life, no matter what their beliefs are about a certain climate theory. I soundly condemn death threats.

Though, as it happens, such a thing is completely out of character for any skeptic I know.

After 50,000 comments on my site, violent thoughts are exceedingly rare, from skeptics anyway. Only a few [skeptics] have even issued vague allusions wishing ill-health on someone. (And these were made not by regulars, but by anonymous “hotmail” commenters; real skeptics, or poseurs perhaps?)

Indeed, the team that makes naked death threats publicly has always been the pro-carbon-tax fans.  Think of Greenpeace “we know where you live...“.  Think of 10:10, “we will blow up your children”. Joe Romm encourages the idea that skeptics will be strangled in their beds. A blogger at TPM pondered when it would be acceptable to execute climate deniers. Richard Glover, suggests forcibly tattooing skeptics opinions on their bodies’ (though wisely thinks maybe it’s a bit too Nazi creepy).  Willis Eschenbach came up with a list of hate-related behavior. There is plenty to pick from.

So when the Canberra Times claims skeptics have been threatening climate scientists, I am, not surprisingly… skeptical.

It’s possible that some aggrieved skeptics have said something none-too-friendly, unwelcome, and unwise. If so, these may be “death threats” in the Tony-Windsor style of capital fear, where much hoo-haa was raised about strong statements like “…you’re not going to get voted in again. I hope you die, you bastard.” and “you’ll get yours”. Not that it helps any cause to reduce the arguments to something so rude or banal. It’s bullying.

Most oddly, there’s the point that scientists are moving to secret offices, getting private numbers and home security systems, but if the threats appeared to be of a serious nature why aren’t the Federal Police involved yet? As Simon points out at Climate Madness, it’s a very serious offense with a ten-year sentence. “The Australian Federal Police says it is aware of the issue, but there is no investigation underway.” [The ABC wrote that full line, but the SMH and Canberra Times decided to save their readers from seeing those last six words. What does it matter...]

When the rock star fame is waning,  a highly publicized death threat is a way to win sympathy and keep the celebrity factor rolling.

The bottom line is that the people who have the most to gain from issuing death threats like these are not skeptics, but the pro-carbon-tax team. It’s a great way to win sympathy. Not that I’m suggesting these scientists are feigning it themselves, but that there are billions of dollars on the table, not to mention a cult-like devotion to the meme. It’s in quite a few people’s interests to help those scientists win the sympathy of the crowd, and to distract the crowd with something non-scientific. I expect there would be a few PR agents who’ve been hoping for just such a threat. Go on, it sounds macabre, but it’s business. Think of the UK transport Ministry advisor who infamously emailed on Sept 11, 2001 that it would be “‘a good day to bury bad news’.

Climate scientists have run out of anything scientific to say; they’ve tried their damnedest to win support. They’ve issued their 25th prediction that “we only have 10 years to go” and simultaneously (even though we haven’t fried yet) that “it’s worse than we thought”. When the rock star fame is waning,  a highly publicized death threat is a way to win sympathy and keep the celebrity factor rolling. It also makes your opponents look like criminals. Convenient eh?

But, that’s the lesson for frustrated skeptics. Whatever you do, don’t threaten anyone’s health. Apart from being criminal and abhorrent (as if that’s not enough), it would be a PR writer’s gift. Savaging a b-grade scientist’s reputation by politely demolishing his reasoning is the method of choice.

If serious death threats have been issued, I hope whoever made those threats is caught and caught soon.

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PS: Richard Glover’s words in the SMH are most entertaining.

He’s trying to understand the skeptic’s mind, but as usual, not by asking a skeptic. It’s the lazy journo tool for understanding the world, not with empirical evidence, but by bland analogy and baseless speculation.

People on the left instinctively believe in communal action, the role of government and the efficacy of international agencies such as the UN. They were always going to believe in climate change; it’s the sort of problem that can best be solved using the tools they most enjoy using.

His only insight into the “right” is just that it is the absence of “left”.

The right tended to be sceptical about climate change from the start and for exactly the same reasons. It’s the sort of problem that requires global, communal action, with governments setting rules. It is a problem that requires tools they instinctively dislike using.

Dearest Richard, some people were just born to follow authority, and others prefer to think for themselves. Neither group is necessarily right about science  (because science is about evidence not politics), but if the authorities get corrupted (like that never happens) and they try to sell us imaginary bridges over third-world factories, one team will fall for it every time. Gullible group-thinkers rise to their call.

Not so long ago, 4 out of 5 people thought “Carbon was pollution”. The skeptical polls are surging, but not because people are changing their genetic voting predisposition. Wake up. Set yourself free of the serfdom to the National Association of Sorcery. Ask to see the evidence; unleash your brain!

And if you can’t face investigating climate science evidence, at least do some real research on how the other half think. Next time you want to write about a group, try asking them. (You can’t understand right-wingers by quizzing your leftie friends. Most of them have never talked to one either.)

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