Deniers, NIMBYs and Conspiracy Theories

I’ve been swimming upstream in the river of culture as long as I can remember. I once questioned my third grade teacher about the myth of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow in the Great Chicago Fire. She was not amused.

But at least she didn’t call me a conspiracy theorist or a history denier. She just smiled indulgently and went on with her story.

It seems to be a common reaction to perceived criticism to strike out against the critic with name-calling and meaningless pejoratives. Those who cast doubt on human causation of climate variation are labeled “deniers,” worse yet, “climate deniers” and  “science deniers,”  as if anyone could deny climate or science. Those who question the “Lone Nut” assassin claims for the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King, Jr and  Malcom X are called “conspiracy theorists,” thus denigrating conspiracies, which are very real, and theory, which is an important component of the scientific method.

It’s difficult enough to seriously research significant historical events and current cultural trends without constantly having to respond to such ignorant accusations. It would be bad enough if they were restricted to the unknowing and unwilling to learn.

In the volatile world of public information, the casting of conspiracy and denier labels can have a significant cooling effect on the acceptance of ideas alternative to those professed by official organizations and mainstream media. Don’t think that this hasn’t escaped the notice of those whose reputations, fortunes and access to power and control are at risk to self-enlightened, critical thinkers with their own ideas and who are willing to publicly express them.

Where does the extensive and coordinated campaign to label opponents of “Global Warming” as “climate deniers” (similar to Holocaust deniers) originate? Where did the idea of “conspiracy theory” come from, and how and by whom has it been used?  James F. Tracy and Cass Sunstein have some interesting ideas about that:

Having read JFK and the Unspeakable several years ago, I’ve been thinking about assassinations for quite a while and I’ve seen how “conspiracy theory” is used to shut off debate, to signal that we’re entering “the unspeakable” zone. So I began to wonder if the use of the term Conspiracy Theory might be a conspiracy itself.

Source: The Term “Conspiracy Theory” — an Invention of the CIA | Project Unspeakable

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How to Craft Headlines to Mold Public Opinion

I’ve been disturbed for some time with the propensity of news headline writers to ignore the content of the articles being headlined in favor of hyperbole, misrepresentation and outright falsehood.

The recent news flap about a sudden “melt” on the Greenland ice sheet is a perfect example of escalating “Headline Wars.”
The article in question describes a recent sudden melting of the upper surface of 97% of Greenland’s ice sheet. In the above headline, fairly modest compared to others, the melt is described as “unprecedented.”

However, “Common Dreams Staff” and/or the headline writer, ignored the explanation contained in the article so headlined:

“Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data.”
The observed melt is not at all “unprecedented,” having been recorded in historic times and repeatedly earlier.
Some headlines have gone even further, from The Independent. 
Voice of America, in an article that deletes the paragraph about historical periodicty:
Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly all of Greenland’s massive ice sheet suddenly started melting a bit this month, a freak event that surprised scientists.
This paragrah is a complete lie, as only the surface of the ice sheet melted slightly for a few hours.
Only one source questioned the hyperbolic headlines of its sister publications: Examiner.com in a refreshingly rational article by weatherman JUSTIN BERK
In all of the media hype over Global Warming and Climate Change, no periodicals or news web sites publish scientific literature that calls to question the Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis. It’s no wonder the news reading public has become inured to lurid headlines and hyperbolic claims by media pundits. The public has nothing to compare against this headline propaganda onslaught. Few read the story through to the end, even if it does contain an explanation that contradicts the headlines. Most people get their news impressions from headlines and pictures.
Editors, and their handlers, know this well.
Far be it from me to suggest that the news is manipulated by extra-editorial interests. We have a “Free Press” after all, free to print whatever is in the interest of the owners of the press, that is.
This is one advantage that can be gained by reading the news in computer based news aggregators that present the same subject material from a variety of sources. One can compare headlines and content across a broad spectrum.
It’s amazing what one can discover through critical reading and analysis. You may not find The Truth, but you can reveal The Lies in the headlines.

Chaneling Michael Crichton

Someone in Washington, D.C is reading Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, and taking it seriously, at least the parts about building fear to influence public opinion.

Recently, there has been an uptick (dare I say a “tipping point?”) in press hyperbole about climate change, with a distinct message drift away from emphasis on climate science and toward making the proposed effects of climate change personal.

From Joseph Lieberman, to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), to the Aspen Institute, the word is going out to “reframe the national dialogue about climate change in personal terms that people can relate to.” (The Colorado Independent)

Taking a page directly from State of FearPolitico reports, “the Union of Concerned Scientists sent experts out earlier this month to Washington and New York for meetings with reporters from 60 Minutes, Time, USA Today, Reuters, Bloomberg, MSNBC and other news organizations.” (Climate Change Heats Up)

The UCS even has a page refuting Crichton’s conclusions in State of Fear, in a section titled “Global Warming Contrarians,” baldly supporting the “consensus” interpretation of climate science as expressed by the IPCC, and stating “Readers may understandably take away some misconceptions from his book. To clear up these misconceptions, we have selected some representative cases to discuss.”

Even religious fundamentalists are jumping on the global warming bandwagon. EPA Chief Lisa Jackson urged U.S. government and religious leaders to unite in their “moral obligation” to heal the planet and “build on the religious and moral reasons for being good stewards of our environment….  We will continue to seek the input of faith communities in the decisions we make. And we also plan to align our efforts with the Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership through the White House.”

Those who seek to influence policy makers in favor of anthropogenic global warming have abandoned their shaky interpretations of climate change science and have chosen instead to bring home the fear to every US citizen in their local communities and homes. Senator Joe Lieberman thinks we should have more TV and radio commercials showing most eye-catching images. “Just show people what’s happening,” he said. “Show them satellite pictures of the ice caps.”

The push is undoubtedly in response to recent polls showing that interest in anthropogenic global warming is declining in the American public, striking fear in the pocketbooks of those who seek to profit from fear of climate change.

There are billions of dollars riding on the outcome, as forecasts with real teeth, those predicting declines in global petroleum production, become increasingly verified each day. ExxonMobil, BP (Beyond Petroleum) and Chevron saw the writing on the wall a long time ago. They know their future petrodollars have a finite limit and they are seeking to build continuing profits by monopolizing access to widely dispersed energy sources such as wind and solar.

Don’t be confused by the rhetoric. “Climate deniers, contrarians and skeptics” are defending science, not attacking it. Those science organizations, Big Green environmental groups, academic administrations, corporations, investors, policymakers and politicians who have staked their reputations, and their fortunes, on a massive technology changeover to global “carbon-free” energy have the most to gain from widespread fear of climate change, and the promise that we can “stop global warming” with technology.

Making a Killing in Public Relations


Marja Offensive Aimed to Shape US Opinion on War

The Pentagon is now using the deaths of innocent men, women and children as tools to bolster public opinion of citizens in the United States in support of continuing the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

In an act of brazen cowardice, US military officials targeted the city of Marja in Helmland, Afghanistan, knowing that the city was of little strategic importance, that it could easily be “subdued” (read: destroyed), in order to demonstrate the power of the new “surge” to win the war against the people of Afghanistan.

The US military has, once again, become an independent entity, dictating policy to the United States government and its civilian leaders, seeking to lobby the American people to support it’s useless and purposeless invasion and occupation of Afghhanistan. The deaths of civilians have been cynically deployed against the people of the United States in a carefully controlled and purposefully designed propaganda program, aimed at building support for increased military presence and deadly activities in this exceedingly poor and beleaguered country.

It’s time to take back control of the US military, to rein in the mad power mongers who seek total control over all aspects of US foreign policy. As Kennedy threatened to break the CIA into a thousand pieces, the Pentagon must be broken of its aspirations to unfettered power and returned to civilian control.

The military can never be allowed to hold power over the President, Congress or the people of the United States, nor must the Pentagon be allowed to conduct operations outside of government oversight.

The purpose of the US military is to kill people and destroy their infrastructure. This great power must always be held in close check, watched jealously, released only reluctantly and under a strong, short leash. The US military is far too close to wielding power over the US government and the people of the United States.

It’s time for a clean sweep down, fore and aft.