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‘The Illusion Of Debate’—A History of the Climate Issue: Part 2 (2009 – 2011)

Here’s the long-awaited followup to Part 1: The history of the Climate Debate from 1850 -2008, where history is tragedy reënacted as comedy, adapted for irony and syndicated as sarcasm.  By Brad Keyes from  Climate Nuremberg (whose motto is Deride And Conquer).  — Jo

Guest Post by Brad Keyes

2009

*Independent of each other, not of the Climate Research Unit in question.**

**Independent in a poetic, not a legal, procedural, or quote-unquote ‘actual,’ sense.

2010

There is “real, physical evidence” that our atmosphere is in crisis, Prof. David Karoly reassures demoralised students. And scientists would love to reveal what it is, he says—if only someone hadn’t put a rat on Ben Santer’s doorstep in 1996. The resulting climate of fear (no pun intended) has condemned a generation of honest researchers to silence, euphemism and self-censorship.

Naomi Oreskes, Merchants of Doubt, climate change, science, philosophy

Taken from Chapter 4, this long-overdue correction to millennia of Western epistemology is one of several gems in Merchants of Doubt. Everyone from Aristotle onwards has made the mistake of thinking knowledge meant justified true belief. Simply by dropping the ‘truth’ requirement, Oreskes and Conway usher in a golden age of human ‘knowledge’ about climate change.

2011

When AmazonGates Attack, Part 2

In 2011, Peter “Preternatural” Gleick was already a veteran IPCC author at the interface of Science and Policy-Making, where his ability to pre-summarize documents he hadn’t read was fast making him a legend.

That’s why, recalls Dr Gleick, it didn’t take him much time—or any thought—to type up some pretty damning notes on the upcoming Delinquent Teenager book by Donna LaFramboise. But the innovative ethicist and hydrologist had no idea what kind of ad-hominem vitriol he was about to incur when he innocently uploaded his speculations, headlined “A stunning compilation of lies, misrepresentations, and falsehoods about the science of climate change,” to Amazon dot com.

Hindsight is 20:20, and now that he’s read LaFramboise’s book for himself, Dr Gleick is the first to admit his guesses were imperfect (like anything else in science).

“Sure: if I could turn back time, I’d probably put more emphasis on the lack of lies, misrepresentations and falsehoods [in Delinquent Teenager]—and the fact that it’s not actually about the science of climate change,” he says.

“Er, as such.”

But these details were all it took to fuel denialist suspicions that he’d pulled his a priori critique ex posteriori.*

In his own words, Gleick was guilty: guilty “of being a a geek’s geek.” Having consecrated himself to the life of the mind, he was painfully naïve when it came to secular affairs.

“How was I supposed to know,” he asks, “that the Internet has higher standards of research than the IPCC?”

Every fibre of his being wanted to come forward and own up to the misunderstanding with dignity, Gleick says. Unfortunately, he was unable to respond to his accusers, because they had no academic standing. Such is the inherently asymmetric nature of the war against skeptics, he explains—“an advantage they exploit to the full, in my experience.”

All he could do, then, was refresh his browser in mute rage as his award-winning integrity was traduced by anonytrolls unworthy of palpating his prostate.

It was a traumatic episode for the prominent water scientist, but he refuses to beat himself up over his rôle (if any) in the embarrassment now known as AmazonGate 2.0 or WaterGate 3.1.

These days, if Gleick condemns an upcoming book for its stunning dishonesty, malevolence and venality, he’s always careful to explain that he’s engaged in projection, not prediction.

“I know, it seems obvious, right? But you’d be amazed how slow some people can be.”

All in all, Gleick looks back on Amazon’s assault on his good name as a long-overdue loss of innocence.

“These days I never shoot myself in the foot like that. And when I do, I always try to take it out of my mouth first.

“They say everyone’s got one massive blunder in them, so really, I’m glad I got mine out of my system in 2011.”


* This Latin vulgarism has no exact translation, but connotes something like ‘from out yon orifice whereup Trenberth’s missing heat doth hide.’

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