A Cabal of Bankers and Sister Souljah

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Professor, School of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol
Posted on 9 September 2012
Filed under Culture

One of the many adverse consequences of knee-jerk science rejection is the voluminous noise generated in response to certain events, such as the recent publication of my paper on rejection of science and conspiracist ideation. Whenever baseless accusations are launched, whether against me or other scientists, this detracts attention from other potentially substantive issues.

My inbox has been overflowing with messages relating to my paper, to the point where I can no longer guarantee a personal response to each message. Some emails raise good points and substantive scientific issues. Likewise, the comment stream on my earlier posts contain some interesting points, and I apologize for not being able to engage with the comments to the extent that I would like—I am however monitoring them so I can make a note of important insights.

I will endeavour to take up those substantive issues here as time permits. I consider the following points to be particularly worthy of discussion in connection with my forthcoming paper:

  • The distinction between conspiracist ideation and meritorious criticism.
  • Outlier detection and interpretation of extreme responses.
  • The role of structural equation modelling and how it differs from Excel cross-tabulation.
  • Details of the methodology and the supplementary online material.

I look forward to posting on those issues (roughly in the above order) in the near future.

I would do so sooner if my time weren’t also occupied with other, comparatively trivial matters, such as the identity of those “skeptic” bloggers whom I contacted for my study. I have several phone conversations scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, W.A. time, with the ethics committee at my university. I will report on the outcome as soon as a decision has been finalized.

I want to offer some further thoughts on the crucial notion of “triage”, that is, the separation of an intellectual signal from the noise of the echo chambers:

  • One must differentiate between the organized purveyors and pushers of science denial on the one hand, and the “consumers” of such denial on the other. While the former legitimately attract moral scorn because their conduct causes much human pain, the latter are in a very different category. This distinction can be brought into sharp focus by considering AIDS denial: The purveyors of pseudo-scientific nonsense who convinced South Africa’s President Mbeki that antiretroviral drugs were “racist” medicine deserve little other than moral contempt. Their actions have killed—330,000 people in South Africa alone, based on the peer-reviewed literature—and their actions continue to kill.

    The sick and desperate people who turn to the purveyors of denial to deal with their tragic illness, by contrast, deserve not contempt but compassion, however ill-informed and counter-productive their actions may have been. The triage between the perpetrators and the victims of science denial is, alas, frequently very difficult and I can only highlight that dilemma without being able to resolve it.

    In this context, it is of interest that my forthcoming paper on the rejection of science found a stronger link between conspiracist ideation and the rejection of sciences other than climate science (including rejection of the link between HIV and AIDS). To date, however, this fact has been overshadowed by the eager self-immolation of the climate-denial community, who has seen fit to respond to my paper with more conspiracist ideation than my modest survey could have ever uncovered.
  • There are subtle indications that even among climate “skeptics” a penny has dropped. Ardent “skeptics” suddenly recognize the need to address their own fringe. This is best illustrated by the moves of Mr. Andrew Bolt, a right-wing blogger and Murdoch columnist, who commands a large audience in Australia despite his high-profile conviction for racial vilification.

    Mr. Bolt has referred to me variously as a global warming evangelist or smearer. Despite those obvious failings, Mr. Bolt publicly distanced himself from the “Galileo Movement.” The Galileo Movement is an Australian climate-denial outfit that variously reminds me of Monty Python and Fox News.

    Although initially listed as one of their "advisors", together with other practicing scientists such as  Australia's most famous shock jock, Mr. Bolt discovered that the Movement's views about climate science comprise an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory involving a “cabal” of bankers who strive to dominate the world via carbon trading (or something like that, I apologize if I have not penetrated the full nuances of this theory).

    If even Mr. Bolt is concerned about anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, then we have arrived at a Sister Souljah moment for climate denial.

Bookmark and Share

151 Comments


1  2  3  4  Next

Comments 1 to 50 out of 153:

  1. You say:
    My inbox has been overflowing with messages relating to my paper, to the point where I can no longer guarantee a personal response to each message... Likewise, the comment stream on my earlier posts contain some interesting points, and I apologize for not being able to engage with the comments to the extent that I would like ... I will endeavour to take up those substantive issues here as time permits.
    One appreciates that writing five blogs on the same subject in one week leaves you little time to answer all the questions addressed to you. However, you have found time to discuss Mr Bolt and his association with a movement espousing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, a subject which is raised neither in your paper, nor in the comments to your blog posts.
    (-Snip-).
    Moderator Response: Please note that, as expressed in the OP, Stephan is constrained by the need to first consult with the ethics committee of the university. Patience is counseled. Inflammatory snipped.
  2. geoffchambers, you're a gem. I think you can take it as read that your repeated demands are noted for the Professor to provide urgent answers, even though he has pointed out that he has been travelling and under email siege from a whipped-up army of angry ants and blustering bloggers.
    I think psychologists call this "impatient". I'd call it "bullying" - no matter how politely or sarcastically the demands are phrased - but then I'm not a psychologist.
  3. Bluebottle is concerned about 'bullying'...

    Lewandowsky says, we should "differentiate between the organized purveyors and pushers of science denial on the one hand, and the “consumers” of such denial on the other".

    (-Snip-)

    (-Snip-)
    Moderator Response: Inflammatory snipped. Off-topic snipped.
  4. GeoffChambers @1, the Galileo Movement is the foremost Australian anti-climate science organization. Its advisors, most of whom are known to read Andrew Bolt, and hence are undoubtedly aware of his accusations are:

    Professor Tim Ball
    Warwick Hughes
    Professor Fred Singer
    Professor Dick Lindzen
    Bill Kininmonth
    Professor Bob Carter
    Professor Ian Plimer
    David Archibald
    Professor Peter Ridd
    Professor Garth Paltridge
    Dr Vincent Gray
    Dr Jennifer Marohasy
    Jo Nova
    Des Moore
    John Nicol
    David Flint
    John McLean
    David Evans
    Pat Michaels
    Joe D'Aleo
    Viscount Monckton

    That constitutes a who's who of the Australian anti-climate science movement with the notable and creditable exception of Andrew Bolt. It also includes several of the most prominent international opponents of climate science. (-Snip-)
    Moderator Response: Inflammatory snipped.
  5. Professor Lewandowsky, it is a bit rich to complain about the focus of comments on your paper given your title. If you wanted people to pay attention to the fact that among those who reject mainstream science, AGW "skeptics" have unusually low tendencies to accept conspiracy theories, perhaps that should have been the focus of your title, abstract and pre-publication interview(s).
  6. Come on Ben, you can do better than that. What a flimsy and tenuous trail of logic you take here.
    1. (-Snip-)
    2. "Anyone concerned about 'bullying' should consider that they're being hectored by his crude moral calculus.". Um, so even if your colourful description were correct, you're saying that one individual hectoring a mob is no different to a mob hectoring a specific individual? Ever seen someone get booed off a stage? Consider that you're one of the many boo-ers, not the boo-ee.
    3. (-Snip-)
    Moderator Response: Responses to snipped comment snipped. Please take the high road.
  7. Bluebottle: "You assert that you know what Lewansdowsky's intentions were even though he doesn't."

    The belittling of sceptics' (and in fact, the wider lay public's) mental faculties are common to many environmental arguments to the extent that we can call it 'ideology'. The fragility of the conceptual objects of his study bear this out.

    And like Lewandowsky, other researchers who make similar claims are very resistant, not just to examining their own prejudices, they are resistant to challenges to them. Indeed, the premise of the argument that one's political opponents lack mental faculties is that you shouldn't have to answer or suffer their criticism. It's an infantile sense of entitlement.

    I don't claim to be able to read Lewandowsky's mind, I'm saying it is being shouted at all of us.
    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of 'No accusations of deception' part of our Comments Policy.
  8. One feature of science rejection that seems particularly notable from my perspective as a scientist is the way in which purported "flaws" in reports or data that threaten their views is use to rationalize rejecting those findings in their entirety.

    This is very different from the way a scientist criticizes a report. Scientists accept that any study or experiment will have "flaws" -- i.e. limitations that impact interpretation of the data. In his paper, Dr. Lewandowsky explicitly acknowledges its major limitation -- this is not a random survey. He has surveyed only a handful of blogs, and the recipients are self-selected, and likely represent a minority of the readers of those blogs. Rigorously speaking, the results can only be interpreted in terms of the characteristics of the readers of those blogs who choose to answer surveys. Any broad interpretation along the lines of "people who reject global warming are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories than those who accept global warming" remains speculative, although the results could be considered (weak) evidence consistent with that hypothesis.

    When a scientist identifies flaws in a paper, he considers hypotheses as to how those flaws might have biased the results in order to evaluate the extent those flaws or limitations might have impacted the results.

    So it is interesting to see all of this fulmination about whether certain "skeptic" blogs were solicited, or details in how the survey was constructed, with hardly any attempt to formulate a hypothesis as to how the purported flaws might have impacted the results. Why is failure to recruit skeptic blogs a problem?

    Conspiracy arguments of one kind or another are quite common in the comment threads of the prominent climate skeptic blogs, so it is certainly plausible that the failure to sample denizens of these blogs weakened the association between rejection of global warming theory and conspiracy thinking. But I don't think that is what most of the people who are obsessing about whether "skeptic" blogs were contacted are getting at.

    On the other hand, is it really plausible that skeptics who at least occasionally visit "pro-scientific consensus" blogs are more conspiracy-minded than those who restrict themselves to the "skeptic" blogs? Nobody I've seen (although I'm sure I've missed some comments) has actually had the nerve to propose such a hypothesis. This is one of the reasons why it is important to frame apparent "flaws" in terms of actual hypotheses--it engages the "sanity testing" facility of the brain, forcing you to consider just what would have to be true for a "flaw" to have a serious impact on the results.
  9. re #3, Ben introduces Steven Moffic, aka "Dr. Strawman." Ben, there's a certain maximum distance that can be supported between the thing actually being argued against and the superimposed, fake position introduced as a substitute topic. Dr. Strawman is too far away to work.

    Perhaps you can think of a better example?

    Meanwhile, what's offensive about Tom's remark? Read Bolt's story. Surely you're aware that "cabal" is a sort of dog whistle? If Lindzen's been suckered into associating with nuts like the founder of the Galileo movement that's a shame but doesn't speak to the matter Bolt brings up.
  10. Ben Pile, Lindzen lives and works in Massachusetts and can hardly be expected to have read Bolt. My comments where restricted to the the listed advisers who can be expected to have read Bolt - most of them, but by no means all.

    Having said that, Lindzen's name is tarnished by the association, and you would have thought his friends would have advised him of Bolt's comments so that he could end the association.
  11. Galileo Movement at 10:12 AM on 10 September, 2012
    The Galileo Movement is horrified that the fabricated smear by the SMH that The Galileo Movement is anti-Semitic is still being reported and referred to as fact.

    Anti-Semitism is alien to The Galileo Movement which is made up of a group of unpaid volunteers having a single, published purpose – to rid Australia of the ‘The Carbon Dioxide Tax’, its derivatives and the means by which such negative, economic and socially destructive legislation may be reintroduced.
    Both the Directors of the Galileo Movement have the credentials to dismiss any challenge of them having anti-Semitic opinions or attitudes having a strong Jewish heritage, including John's wife who was a Holocaust survivor.

    Again, this smear was fabricated in an attempt to discredit the incredible work The Galileo Movement have done in exposing the anti-scientific nature of AGW.
  12. Doug: "e #3, Ben introduces Steven Moffic, aka "Dr. Strawman." Ben, there's a certain maximum distance that can be supported between the thing actually being argued against and the superimposed, fake position introduced as a substitute topic. Dr. Strawman is too far away to work. "

    I pointed out a number of other examples. Adam Corner in the UK makes similar claims, as does Chris Mooney in the USA. I would add to this the many researchers claiming to develop insight into 'motivated reasoning'.

    There are many studies, similar to Lewandowsky's. And none of them as far away as you claim. After all, the point at issue here is Lewandowsky's -- and the others' -- need to explain the failure of environmental politics. A number of explanations have been posited. For example, it was once the view that Big Oil funded scientists to lobby and brief against the environmental movement. But this was inadequate. The theory developed to explain a deficit between the lay public and climate expertise. Concomitantly, environmentalists began to question the ability of democratic government to meet the challenge of climate change. The view was that people were simply 'addicted' to consumer society, and thus were too easily influenced by politicians who promised to allow it to continue, rather than make difficult decisions. But this is again insufficient, because global environmental politics has never been subject to national democracy -- a point which may lead to conspiracy theories developing about 'world government'.

    Global politics to one side, what environmentalists still don't understand is why they failed to build a popular movement, and have only caught the imagination of the establishment. Lewandowsky et al seek to explain the failure in terms of psychology. The real truth of the matter, however, is that the public are turned off by the cynicism of political environmentalism. You don't need to be a psychologist to understand why.
  13. Ben, this caught my eye: "...what environmentalists still don't understand is why they failed to build a popular movement, and have only caught the imagination of the establishment."

    That's actually not true except in the sense that most people don't carry a card saying "Environmentalist." Myriads of surveys show strong concern for protecting the environment that more or less crosses ideological lines and numerous other boundaries. People disagree on details of implementation, priorities but in terms of overall support, environmental conservation is well served.

    Heck, Richard Nixon started the US EPA, Nixon perhaps being an excellent metaphor for the blend of pragmatism, naked self-interest and actual ethical concerns that shape our public policy approach to the environment.

    It's odd that something that's akin to not throwing our trash over the fence and into our neighbors' yards arouses such passion but there you go; human nature is a strange thing.
  14. Galileo Movement, can you direct me to the page on your website where Roberts retracts his slur? If not, can you point me to the page on your website where it is reported that he is dismissed from his position with the Galileo movement for refusing to retract those comments; and explain why he is still listed as project leader? Failing either of those, Andrew Bolt has the correct response:

    "Malcolm,

    Your conspiracy theory seemed utterly stupid even before I knew which families you meant. Now checking the list of banking families you’ve given me, your theory becomes terribly, shamefully familiar.

    Two of the three most prominent and current banking families you’ve mentioned are Jewish, and the third is sometimes falsely assumed to be. Yes, this smacks too much of the Jewish world conspiracy theorising I’ve always loathed.

    Again, I insist: remove me from the list of people you claim are prepared to advise you. I’ve never advised you, Malcolm, and would never want to. I am offended to be linked to you.

    Andrew Bolt"
  15. Doug -- "That's actually not true except in the sense that most people don't carry a card saying "Environmentalist." Myriads of surveys show strong concern for protecting the environment that more or less crosses ideological lines and numerous other boundaries."

    I don't call that 'political environmentalism'. You'd be hard-pressed to find even climate sceptics who don't enjoy experiencing natural wilderness to a greater or lesser extent. When I talk about 'environmentalists' I mean people whose political 'ideology' is predicated on the idea of a particular form of relationship with the natural world, with particular moral consequences or imperatives in consequence. Nonetheless, I also argue that environmentalism is largely incoherent, inconsistent, and shouldn't (yet) be confused with 'doctrine' (contra 'ideology'), as more concretely expressed systems of political thought, such as Marxism.

    The fact that so many people identify as (soft) environmentalists should give political environmentalists a clue as to just how much they have completely alienated themselves.
  16. Doug -- "Heck, Richard Nixon started the US EPA, Nixon perhaps being an excellent metaphor for the blend of pragmatism, naked self-interest and actual ethical concerns that shape our public policy approach to the environment."

    I'm not sure why it should be a surprise that Nixon started the EPA. Bush Sr. signed the Rio Declaration. In the '60s and '70s, the 'pioneers' of environmentalism such as Garret Harding and Paul Ehrlich were drawn from the political right. Hardin's 'Tragedy of the Commons', for example, was an argument against the common ownership of property, on the basis it is the best way to protect the environment. Now, however, environmentalists curiously use the same essay's title to make precisely the opposite argument, against private property. My argument here, as per above, is that the proponents of whichever political/economic theory fail to make a moral argument on their own terms -- i.e. the relationships between people that such a theory involves -- and instead borrow from environmental science.

    There are no straight lines in the story of environmentalism's ascendency, and this fact is most easily forgotten by environmentalists themselves. (snip)
    Moderator Response: Part of this comment has been snipped due to violation of the 'No profanity or inflammatory tone' part of our Comments Policy.
  17. Alrighty Ben, you're talking about a narrow group, if I take your meaning correctly, while I'm lumping the rest of us into a more broad and diverse collection supporting (as you aptly put it) the "idea of a particular form of relationship with the natural world, with particular moral consequences or imperatives in consequence." The details of the "ideas" may vary but the common thread of understanding is that choices and actions have consequences.

    It doesn't seem as though the inefficacy of the group you hypothesize has much to do with the political reality the rest of the world follows.
  18. Galileo Movement at 11:56 AM on 10 September, 2012
    Tom,
    The Galileo Movement never made a religious/race slur and therefore had no reason to retract it.

    Claiming that the banking industries will profit from the AGW scam through carbon trading has NO religious/race slur connotations.

    Naming a list of banks (the majority of which were American - non-Jewish) that will profit from Carbon trading does not suggest in ANY way a Jewish banking conspiracy.

    Again, this smear was fabricated in an attempt to discredit the incredible work The Galileo Movement have done in exposing the anti-scientific nature of AGW.
  19. Doug - "It doesn't seem as though the inefficacy of the group you hypothesize has much to do with the political reality the rest of the world follows."

    On the contrary, there is a substantial supranational effort to make environmentalism's premises the basis of global politics, with far-reaching political, social and economic consequences. This is what is perhaps behind some conspiracy theories about 'world government'. More precisely 'world governance' *is* being sought, explicitly expressed as a transformation in the concept of 'sovereignty'. That isn't a conspiracy theory: aside from the fact that it is an explicit aim, it is the necessary consequence of building supranational political institutions above democratic control. That is 'political reality'.
  20. Galileo,

    "..this smear was fabricated in an attempt to discredit the incredible work The Galileo Movement have done in exposing the anti-scientific nature of AGW."

    Repeating a falsehood does not make it true. You have also failed to support your assertions. Double fail.
  21. Galileo Movement, the claim that Andrew Bolt invented a smear "... to discredit the incredible work The Galileo Movement have done in exposing the anti-scientific nature of AGW." does not pass the sniff test.
  22. Galileo Movement at 13:00 PM on 10 September, 2012
    Tom,
    Bolt did not invent the smear, he ran from the one made against us (he was our advisor) by Mike Carlton from the SMH.
    Moderator Response: Please provide a link to support this assertion.
  23. Stephan, my compliments on your continued good will and humour in the face of this inexplicable (to me) storm of defensive bullying - and your thoughtfulness in this post and willingness to discuss your study and address some of the questions raised.

    Thank you for providing insights into how some people think and behave - both through your paper, through your posts and indirectly through the reaction both have invoked.

    I don't normally bother with many of the science attacking/rejection blogs (except to keep an eye on the current topics under attack) but did look at a few of them in the past few days. I found it extraordinary. (I understand better, from the glimpse into their dark world during this episode, what some climate scientists have had to deal with for the past several years.)

    A huge number of us are very grateful to you for your contribution over the years and the insights you've given. Keep it up please.
  24. Galileo Movement at 13:34 PM on 10 September, 2012
    Tom,
    Bolt did not invent the smear, he ran from the one made against us (he was our advisor) by Mike Carlton from the SMH.

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/anthems-to-stir-the-common-man-20120803-23knh.html

    the smear was fabricated from this article

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/climate-sceptics-unmoved-by-scientists-aboutface-20120730-23a6s.html
  25. Galileo Movement, can you reveal your identity and the position you hold that allows you to speak for the Galileo Movement? If you choose to speak for a public organization, you thereby loose your right to anonymity.

    You are clearly in error about several facts of this case.

    1) The remarks of Malcom Roberts where first reported in The Age by Ben Cubby on July 31st. It may well have been reported in the Age's stablemate, the SMH at the same time:
    http://www.theage.com.au/world/climate-change-sceptics-unwarmed-by-scientists-reassessment-of-cold-facts-20120730-23agk.html

    2) Mike Carlton blogged on the report in the SMH on Aug 4th. Ergo, he was not the originator of the claims:
    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/anthems-to-stir-the-common-man-20120803-23knh.html

    3) Andrew Bolt blogged on the comments on August 6th:
    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/happy_to_help_those_who_ask_but_not_people_who_peddle_this/asc/#commentsmore

    In his blog he made it quite clear that he had never had any prior contact with Roberts' and had not advised him. Presumably this means he was never an adviser of the Galileo Movement, and was listed as such without his knowledge or consent.

    He also made it clear that Roberts endorsed a conspiracy theory, the main principles of which (apparently) all just happen to be Jewish, or widely thought to be Jewish.

    The Galileo Movement appears to evade responsibility for this fact, but will not repudiate the conspiracy theory, nor provide the list of the members of the "tight-nit cabal" so that we can see that it is just garden variety crack-pottery rather than a racism that dare not speak its name.
  26. Ben, seeing as how our various effluvia don't seem clued into the existence of national borders, sovereign states and such, it's not so surprising that we're going to need to find agreement on how to "get along" in the sense of not crapping on each other, metaphorically speaking. If we've all mutually covered ourselves with excrement, we'll be perfectly free but likely not very happy.

    Government starts at the family level. If I tell my kid he needs to flush the toilet when he's finished using it, I'm not crushing his individuality. If my township says I'm not permitted to fling my household garbage out the window of my car, I'm not having my freedoms unreasonably circumscribed. If the state I live in tells my township that we can't dump untreated sewage into the river that provides drinking water to others downstream, our liberties are not being stripped away. If the federal government tells the various states they must not allow vehicles to release tetraethyl lead into the general environment, the states are not falling under a hegemonic power grab. If the various nations of the world agree that releasing unchecked quantities of a compound that will send the globe's climate into a new and untested trajectory is offsides, we've not succumbed to a totalitarian world government.

    It seems arguable that aside from avoiding warfare and promoting healthy trade, looking after the various infrastructure systems of the planet is one of the few compelling reasons to form international agreements. I don't feel threatened by arms limitation treaties and I have to say I'm not frightened by such things as agreements to limit CFC emissions. On the converse, I'd be more concerned if I saw governments doing nothing to cooperate on these matters.
  27. Galileo Movement, I see that Cubby's SMH article is probably the original, for The Age did not run the final paragraph:

    "Mr Roberts said climate change science had been captured by ''some of the major banking families in the world'' who form a ''tight-knit cabal''.
    He said he understood that the group's views might sound strange, but claimed they were becoming increasingly popular.
    ''It does sound outlandish,'' Mr Roberts said. ''I, like you, was reluctant to believe it [but] there are significant things going on in Australia that people are waking up to. The UN's climate front is just a part of the overall UN 'Agenda 21', which is the sustainability program and the biodiversity program … But the biggest one's the UN agenda for global governance.''"

    So not one conspiracy theory, but two - "tight knit banking cabal" PLUS "UN agenda for global governance". And this from Australia's premier anti-climate science organization which includes all of Australia's most prominent "skeptics" on its advisory board (except for Andrew Bolt, and possibly without their knowledge or permission).

    I have significant problems with Lewandowsky's paper, that hopefully he will address soon. But the Galileo Movement manages to pretty much prove his thesis all by itself.
  28. Apologies to Ben; I let my hyperbole get the better of me and referred to "totalitarian world government" when Ben was referring simply to "world government."

    Stripping that away, my point is that treaties and agreements are not world government.
  29. Doug - "Government starts at the family level. If I tell my kid he needs to flush the toilet when he's finished using it, I'm not crushing his individuality. If my township says I'm not permitted to fling my household garbage out the window of my car, I'm not having my freedoms unreasonably circumscribed."

    You draw a parallel between parenthood, and government. The infantilisation of the demos is what I'm talking about when I'm critical of environmentalism, and talk about the 'ideology' which precedes seemingly scientific accounts of climate scepticism -- in SL's research, for example.

    The premise of a democracy is that those who participate in it are adult and capable of determining their own government. In drawing such a comparison, it would seem that you diminish the public, as per my criticism above. The mechanism for dealing with people whose behaviour don't fit this schema is the law. There are completely different relationships between parent and child, individual and state. They are not remotely analogous.

    "Government starts at the family level"... only if we abolish the distinction between the public and the private spheres. I believe that it is an important distinction, very much worth maintaining.

    You make the defence of global political institutions that they seem to 'avoid warfare' and promote trade. There is no test of this claim, and so it seems to be a matter of faith. Yet there are good reasons to think that internationalising civil conflicts or border disputes escalates and prolongs them by raising the stakes with the promise/threat of intervention. Moreover the 'avoidance of war' looks more like moral blackmail than a defence of a political system.

    You may not feel threatened by arms limitation treaties, but then, you may not happen to feel on the receiving end of them. Indeed, I doubt you live in a country against which arms limitation treaties has been used (either honestly or as a ruse -- see the survey) as the basis for an invasion. So much for the avoidance of war. International agreements are simply the bases on which wars are executed, not avoided. Notice the composition of the Security Council.

    "If the various nations of the world agree that releasing unchecked quantities of a compound that will send the globe's climate into a new and untested trajectory is offsides, we've not succumbed to a totalitarian world government."

    We should draw a distinction between 'government' and 'governance'. And that there are degrees of governance between 'none' and 'total'. Just as national democracies are degraded by the parent-child analogy, the creation of supranational political institutions treats national governments like children. And it is *us* who ought to be disciplining *our* governments. So there are now two levels at which sovereignty has been undermined -- contra 'totally dissolved' as per your inaccurate paraphrase. We could take the view that the sovereignty of national democracies diminishes as it loses a relationship with the public, and thus that supranational political institutions give legitimacy to national governments 'top down', where authority had previously been granted 'bottom-up', without it being a conspiracy theory.

    There is a democratic deficit, absolutely, and one doesn't need to trade in free-market conspiracy theories to see it; indeed, the criticism of global technocratic bureaucracies was at one point categorically 'left'. For all the worthwhile ends such a political system intends to achieve, the question we should ask is about the legitimacy of the means. A benevolent dictatorship -- your 'totalitarian world government' -- has the same constitution as the tyranny. I don't believe ends justify means. Moreover, I don't believe that 'the various infrastructure systems of the planet' are as vulnerable as you, and I believe that the belief that they are vulnerable is is far more owed to 'ideology' than to 'science'. The way to contest that ideology was, in the past, through democratic contest. That is not possible when none is permitted, either nationally, or supranationally. Surveys about what people believe service that democratic deficit. Unwittingly. That's the point about 'ideology'.
  30. "Apologies to Ben; I let my hyperbole get the better of me and referred to "totalitarian world government" when Ben was referring simply to "world government." "

    I had already been very precise about the fact that I was not talking about 'world government':

    >More precisely 'world governance' *is* being sought, explicitly expressed as a transformation in the concept of 'sovereignty'. <

    There is no such thing as 'world government'. But you yourself seem to agree that there are institutions that deliverer *governance* at the global level, but which aren't *a* government as we might see with a state. Your argument seemed to be that these institutions are justified on the basis that they seem to do good, not that there was no such thing.
  31. "my point is that treaties and agreements are not world government."

    And so, to bring it back on topic, my point is that what you see as 'conspiracy theories' about 'world government' in others may be owed to your own ideological preferences/prejudices. You happen to like the treaties and agreements, whereas others don't believe them to be legitimate, and that the institutions intended to deliver those agreements/treaties exist beyond democratic control. You say we need them. They say we don't. The attempt to link climate change scepticism to 'conspiracy theory ideation', or 'motivated reasoning' is just an attempt to get beyond such impasses without actually having the debate.
  32. Be, you identify a pitfall in my illustration; indeed governments are not parents or at least should not behave as such. Excluding failed attempts in many styles, by "government" I mean compositions of people who've matured and are able to agree on general goals that are often not commensurate with each individual member being able to act as if they were alone. As children are not equipped with the judgement and skills to be autonomous, the smallest unit of governance--the family-- necessarily resembles an autocracy in some ways.

    Otherwise I'm comfortable that most people are capable of following my reasoning and yours, so I've not much else to say on the topic.
  33. Watching the Deniers at 16:39 PM on 10 September, 2012
    This is an interesting discussion, to which I'd like to bring the following materials and quotes for comment. This will no doubt prompt discussion, but it is important to closely examine the claims being put forward and what is the supporting evidence.

    I believe it is essential that commentators - both bloggers and those in the media - spend time reviewing the primary materials.

    With that in mind, let us turn our attention some of these claims being made: I fully accept that many individuals may not be aware of the source materials of some of NWO/banking conspiracy theories. It is well understood that conspiracy theorists re-purpose old materials every decade to explain new anxieties. I trust that people will review these materials and the arguments being put forward by some - not all - climate sceptics. I am not accusing any individual of anti-Semitism.

    With this in mind, I refer people to the work of Australian sceptic, Dr. David Evans and his paper "Manufacturing money; and global warming" published by the Science and Public Policy Institute in 2009. An archived copy is available here:

    http://watchingthedeniers.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/manufacturing_money_and_warming.pdf

    It is more than reasonable to ask for clarification of the claims being made, in particular due to the apparent sources or influences.

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Claim one: international bankers killed two US Presidents

    -------------------------------------------------------------
    Evans in the paper wrote: "“The paper aristocracy has overwhelming wealth. They own or influence all the media – if only because every media organization borrows from banks. They influence almost all the institutions that employ professional economists, by supplying the money for PhDs and providing most of the lucrative consulting jobs for economists. They buy politicians by the truckload. The banksters have even killed the occasional thorn in their side—including, probably, two US presidents, Lincoln and Garfield…” (Manufacturing money; and global warming" page 9)

    Evans claims "banksters" may have had two US presidents killed.

    The major source of the claim that Lincoln was killed by "international bankers" was made in 1978 in the publication "The Rothschild's' International Plot to Kill Lincoln" in New Solidarity published in 1976 (the same magazine I believe is/was associated with Lyndon LaRouche and his movement).

    I refer readers to page 242. of the book, "The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies", by William Hanchett (1982) for a brief discussion:

    http://books.google.com.au/books?id=LkpXNY32FVoC&lpg=PA278&ots=YIpJgYZb6b&dq=%22The%20Rothschilds'%20International%20Plot%20to%20Kill%20Lincoln%22%20new%20solidarity&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=rothschilds&f=false

    I would recommend readers then search the Internet for instances of the 1976 publication and how it is interpreted by individuals and fringe groups. The Lincoln assassination by bankers has also a standard trope of conspiracy culture for several years, and popular among right wing elements who are opposed to the concept of the US Federal Reserve and fantasize about the influence of the Rothschild family.

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Claim two: the Rothschild's and international bankers are involved in climate change (somehow) and the general economic collapse

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Evans in his paper wrote the following: "There are a small number of families who, over the centuries, have amassed wealth through financial rent seeking. They are leading members of the paper aristocracy. For example, the Rothschild's are the biggest banking family in Europe, and were reputed to own half of all western industry in 1900. That sort of wealth doesn't just dissipate, because unless the managers are incompetent the wealth tends to concentrate. The banking families don’t work for a living in the normal sense, like the rest of us. They avoid scrutiny and envy by blending in and make themselves invisible. Since they own or influence all sorts of media organizations, it isn't too hard. There are unsubstantiated rumors and conspiracy theories, but nobody can really credibly say how much wealth and influence they have. What are the paper aristocracy going to do in the aftermath of the current huge bubble? The course and end of the bubble are quite foreseeable, so they must have a plan. (Ibid. page 32)

    This is a problematical claim: in essence the Rothschild's don't "work for a living" and "avoid scrutiny" and that they "they must have a plan". Within aspects of conspiracy culture there is a belief/theory called the "general economic collapse" - that is a deliberate financial collapse orchestrated by shadowy banking cabals in order to profit from the chaos. It is theorised that this "plan" has been in operation for centuries.

    Evans details a world chronology that incorporates a history of banking and that of climate change.

    He writes: "...In the Middle Ages, goldsmiths took gold deposits from individuals for safekeeping. The receipts for these deposits circulated as money, because they were more convenient than the metal itself. But the goldsmiths learned they could issue many more "receipts" than they had gold. They would typically lend out receipts for ten times as much gold as they had, on the assumption that not everyone would try to redeem their receipts for metal at the same time. Money was thereby manufactured, or created out of thin air. Furthermore, the goldsmith would charge interest on the receipts they lent out, to compensate for the risk of not being repaid and to make a profit."

    Evans also writes: "...The wider class of people who control and manufacture paper money in all its forms are referred to in this essay as the paper aristocracy: the banks, the government, and those who know how to work the system of paper money. They are the kings of the financial system. This banking class started from humble beginnings as goldsmiths, grew rich by over-issuing paper that represented gold, eventually dispensed with gold and all its constraints, and have now graduated to rule the financial universe with a money system based entirely on paper."

    The question is: what has this anything do with climate change? Apart from a distorted view of money and the financial system, I fail to see what gold smiths have to do with climate change as a purported hoax?

    Two phrases are of concern, and ***can be**** used as code words (I stress can be): "Rothschild" and "international banking families".

    I refer readers to the following text to appreciate the problematical nature of the claims: "Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia Of Prejudice And Persecution, Volume 1" by Richard S. Levy.

    http://books.google.com.au/books?id=Tdn6FFZklkcC&lpg=PP1&ots=qKZtsayMXL&dq=encyclopedia%20antisemitism%20vol%201&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=encyclopedia%20antisemitism%20vol%201&f=false

    I refer readers to the following entries:

    1/ The entry on the "Rothschild's" on page 624 in which the long history of conspiracy theories involving the Rothschild family is explained
    2/ The long running popular rage against "international bankers" that goes back to the 1930s under the entry "Charles E. Coughlin" on page 140 of the book.
    3/ See also the entry on page 55.56 "Bankers, Jew".
    4/ See also this discussion of the text "The Profound Revolution" by Mary M. Davison by Political Research Associates and the troubled nature of claims about bankers and the New World Order

    http://www.publiceye.org/apocalyptic/Dances_with_Devils_1-01.html

    Public Eye notes the following on the international bankers theory of Davison: "In the 1960s, a great deal of right-wing conspiracy's attention focused on the United Nations as the vehicle for creating the One World Government. Mary M. Davison, in her 1966 booklet The Profound Revolution, traced the alleged "New World Order" conspiracy to the creation of the Federal Reserve by international bankers, who she claimed later formed the Council on Foreign Relations. At the time the booklet was published, "international bankers" would have been interpreted by many readers as a reference to a postulated "international Jewish banking conspiracy." Davison included the standard call for the people to rise up against internationalism and rebuild a constitutional form of government--a call echoed later by various right wing populist groups including the contemporary armed militia movement.120 Davison later wrote tracts that were overtly anti-Semitic and tied to Christian Biblical passages."

    I note the following passage in Evans "Manufacturing money; and global warming" on page 8, which is an example of Evans writings on the US Federal Reserve:

    "The banks and government got together in a big way in the United States in 1913, with the creation of the Federal Reserve. This was the third time a central bank had been created in the US; the previous two ended in ignominy or failure. It’s been a lucrative partnership. The bank money manufactured by the private banks is labelled as national money, backed by the government, instead of just the private currencies of individual banks. Government gets to borrow as much money as it wants whenever it wants. The government has run up a huge tab that future taxpayers must pay off through actual hard work, although the debt is now so large that it can never be paid off without also reducing the value of the dollar, and our descendants may be paying it off in perpetuity. All this for money that is created legally out of thin air, and for which the banks charge interest. Beautiful. As the say in the world of confidence tricks, the best con is one where the mark doesn't even know they've been conned."

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Claim three: the political class want to usher in a "one world government"

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    On March 23, 2011 in a anti-Carbon Tax rally in Perth, Evans made the following claim in a speech: “Official climate science, which is funded and directed entirely by government, promotes a theory that is based on a guess about moist air that is now a known falsehood. Governments gleefully accept their advice, because the only way to curb emissions are to impose taxes and extend government control over all energy use. And to curb emissions on a world scale might even lead to world government — how exciting for the political class!"

    The video is available here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di5FyndJbz0

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Claim four: the political class want to usher in a "one world government"

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    In a joint publication with Lord Christopher Monckton, titled "Climate coup - the politics", Evans made the following claim: "...The real issue here is a grab for absolute power by those who already govern. They have grown tired of democracy and would like to do away with it, without ever giving the game away by actually saying so. This is the age-old divide between the totalitarians and libertarians. Coalitions like the current regulating class have always been instinctively totalitarian, desirous of interfering in every tiny detail of our lives—for our own good of course, and prodigiously at our expense. They are now even telling us what kind of light-bulbs we can use. With the rise of democracy, it looked like the regulating class would be subject to the will of the people. The US Constitution explicitly defines the obligations of government to the people, and not of people to the government. However, liberty, democracy, and the free market are now again at grave risk, and “global warming” is the Trojan Horse the regulating class are hoping to ride to victory over the people."

    They also claim COP15 was a failed global coup: "All of that national sovereignty would have been ceded to an unelected group of global bureaucrats: Never in the field of human administration would so much power have been transferred by so many to so few. This was a narrowly averted global coup, an attempt to seize a great deal of power by stealth without the knowledge or explicit consent of the world’s people. It can only have been kept silent with the active support of the world’s media."

    Questions to sceptics and media commentators:

    1. Do you support the above claims made by Monckton and Evans?
    2. Can the evidence for these claims be provided?
    3. Where are the exact sources of these claims from?
    4. Do you agree with the claim about international banking families and the Rothschild family?
    5. Was COP15 a failed coup?
  34. Paul in Sweden at 17:21 PM on 10 September, 2012
    Frankly I am amazed at the hostility and reactions to Lewandowsky's paper. I see little difference in his paper and the multitude of papers that sail through the 'Climate Science' peer review process. Everyone needs to remember that this is 'climate science'.
  35. In this context, it is of interest that my forthcoming paper on the rejection of science found a stronger link between conspiracist ideation and the rejection of sciences other than climate science (including rejection of the link between HIV and AIDS).


    My bold above.

    Stephan, if your paper shows a stronger link between conspiracist ideation and the rejection of sciences other than climate science why then did you preface your paper's title "NASA faked the moon landing—Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax" when that particular conclusion is the weakest (if not non-existent)?

    Could this be explained by a hypothesis that says this is an indication of the authors pre-existing biases?
  36. Paul, are you familiar with the term "inside baseball?"

    When you say we need to remember that "this is climate science," almost nobody can see your sly wink. You're impressing your friends while annoying the rest of us who know your implication, which leaves a vast residual population who'll probably conclude you like Lewandowsky's paper and actual climate science in general. It's a very odd way to communicate and not very effective.

    (Snip)
    Moderator Response: Ad hominem
  37. Watching the Deniers at 17:37 PM on 10 September, 2012
    Doug et.al care to comment on the above evidence of conspiracy claims about world bankers? Or ignoring and denying?

    I note that sceptics get very, very quiet when asked to respond to specific questions and are pinned down to provide answers.

    I predict you will not. Or refuse to read the materials.

    The challenge is for you, if you are honest sceptics, is to review the evidence and comment.

    (Snip)

    Geek = proud to be.
    Moderator Response: Off-topic
  38. Watching the Deniers at 17:40 PM on 10 September, 2012
    I respectfuly ask the sceptics to answer the above;

    1. Do you support the above claims made by Monckton and Evans?
    2. Can the evidence for these claims be provided?
    3. Where are the exact sources of these claims from?
    4. Do you agree with the claim about international banking families and the Rothschild family?
    5. Was COP15 a failed coup?
  39. @38 Watching the Deniers at 17:40 PM on 10 September, 2012

    I respectfuly ask the sceptics to answer the above

    I rather think any answers to those questions here would be as meaningless as the eventual results to the WUWT "replication" that is being undertaken elswhere. ;)

    I think what we need is a study undertaken by social scientists who don't start from such an emotional investment in the subject - I believe they are out there - and they balance the conspiracies offered with ones that could accepted by both "sides"

    i.e. I would proposes that the absolute belief that all set-backs in climate policy have some connection to "big-oil" conspiracies seems prevalent - although that just "seems" that way to me, as the opposite "seems" to others.

    The "seems" has to transfered and nudged closer to "could be" to maybe "is" via some sort of science and I would say this paper hasn't done any nudging in that direction. I would have thought "pro-science" people would have noticed that by now?
  40. Watching the Deniers at 18:08 PM on 10 September, 2012
    I see you can't answer the question. What you've written, just above, is called deflection.

    Please answer the questions.

    That is a reasonable request from people who claim to be of a sceptical persuasion.
  41. (-Snip-)

    Another is a major Factual error in the paper about data collection, which I might ask is corrected prior to publication.

    We now know the names of all 8 blogs claimed to have been surveyed. The paper states that 5 sceptic blogs were approached but did not publish it, thus no results would have been recieved from sceptic blogs (a failing in itself, given the title):

    to quote the paper here:
    http://websites.psychology.uwa.edu.au/labs/cogscience/documents/LskyetalPsychScienceinPressClimateConspiracy.pdf

    "Links were posted on 8 blogs (with a pro-science
    science stance but with a diverse audience); a further 5 "skeptic" (or "skeptic"-leaning) blogs were approached but none posted the link."

    We now know this to be (-Snip-). as JunkScience (a 9th blog, one of the 5 sceptic blogs asked presumably?) DID publish the survey.

    As JunkScience has a high Alexa ranjking, higher in fact than the majority of the 8 'pro-science' blogs surveyed. one might expect to see a significant number of results from this survey.

    Yet, the paper states (-Snip-) that no sceptic blog published the survey.

    What effect on the paper is there when the high traffic Junkscience data is included?

    Why was this data not reported?
    Why was the claim made that no sceptic blog published the survey?
    Moderator Response: Repetitive questioning snipped. All-caps usage snipped.
  42. Watching the Deniers at 18:16 PM on 10 September, 2012
    Hi Barry, interesting questions. I can't answer them, but I think the paper's author has already.

    Can you please address the question I have posted above about the claims of Evans/Monckton?

    The question is this: is there a connection between conspiracy making and the sceptic movement.

    I have provided evidence of conspiracy claims which, if sceptics are indeed sceptics, need to be addressed.
  43. Lewandowsky says Bolt's actions may be a "Sister Souljah moment" for climate "denial".

    It certainly may be, if it follows that of Sister Souljah, as per Wiki:

    However, despite the meme-like nature of the term in the mainstream media, there is little evidence that the act by Clinton had any effect on voters' mindsets.
  44. Watching the Deniers, let's not forget Monckton's recommendation of Ian Wishart's "Air Con":

    "The UN, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jacques Chirac, and other world government wannabes are plotting to establish nothing less than a global, bureaucratic-centralist dictatorship under the pretext that it is necessary to 'Save The Planet'. Ian Wishart's book demonstrates that there is not the slightest scientific reason for the new, quasi-religious belief that The Planet needs Saving. The new religion is merely an excuse for world government. World government will not, repeat not, be democratic government.

    "The 'global warming' debate is not really a debate about climatology - it is a debate about freedom. It is the aim of the growing world-government faction amont the international classe politique to take away our hard-won freedom and democracy forever. I commend [Wishart's] book ... . Those who read it will will help to forestall the new Fascists and so to keep us free."

    Needless to say, Wishart's book is deserving of its blurb, being scant of fact, dismal in analysis and replete with conspiracy thinking itself.
  45. I know nothing about Monckton or Evans, beyond thinking Monckton is just a failed UK poltician, of a party UKIP which is a bit of a joke in the UK.

    (-Snip-)

    Unless someone can point me to a specifi response to what happened to the JunkScience data?

    'movement' sounds like you believe in a conspiracy yourself. My observation is that the majority of high profile sceptic bloggers are fiercly independent individuals, not a 'movement' ! ;-)
    Moderator Response: Repetitive questioning snipped.
  46. Watching the Deniers at 18:45 PM on 10 September, 2012
    Indeed, or that Monckont has just published a major paper that states that Obama "May not be the president", he states:

    "Does the issue matter? An eminent constitutional lawyer has given advice that it does. He says: “We amend the Constitution, or we abide by it.” Judge Parker of the Alabama Supreme Court in the McInnish case also considers the issue important, in that it raises “serious questions about the authenticity of both the ‘short form’ and the ‘long form’ birth certificates”. Mr. Obama’s legitimacy is now materially in doubt. Though his political supporters dismiss questioners of his birth certificate as “birthers”, much as they brand questioners of Man’s influence on the weather as “deniers” or questioners of the European Union as “xenophobes”, the subject will move up the political agenda in the coming months, notwithstanding the studied indifference of the media and of both parties to it."

    Note how Monckton links Birth-er claims to climate scepticism.

    Title: Is the President the President? A Hereditary Peers’ Briefing Paper | LONDON, JUNE 2012

    Source: http://static.infowars.com/2012/06/i/general/peers-briefing-2.pdf

    Is this isn't "conspiracy thinking" what is?

    I believe if sceptics have any intellectual honesty they will respond to these claims and the evidence presented and discuss/debate/refute.

    But I note the typical reaction: the moment the spot light is turned on the foundations of their claims silence.
  47. @41 Watching the Deniers at 18:08 PM on 10 September, 2012
    What interested me about your post was only the fact that you placed some questions on a blog with an on-going polarised discussions and apparently expect to learn something from it.

    I used that observation to make the point that we really need some better quality work to answer any questions about "ideation" and biases going on.

    If I had not posted that observation would you say the empty space where my comment would have been was an indication of "deflection"? ;)

    I notice you didn't reference my point about requiring a better study in your response - can I take that as an example of "deflection" on your part? I can see how labelling something can give a feeling of control but if we went on doing that forever it really would be an unedifying process for anyone else reading ;)

    I am not interested in answering your questions. Hmmm, does this mean your survey has not accounted for the possibility of volunteer bias ;)
  48. Watching the Deniers at 18:48 PM on 10 September, 2012
    I see you have picked up Monckton is a failed UK politician (your words).

    Thanks for that response. So can I take it you reject the above claims as having no foundation in reality?

    Barry, if you are indeed fiercely individual, then take the time to review the materials and respond to the claims.

    All you need to know is above: I have given you the primary materials and links to supporting evidence etc.
  49. Watching the Deniers at 18:51 PM on 10 September, 2012
    @ tlitb1 at 18:47 PM on 10 September, 2012

    I agree, there needs to be a lot or work and research on the topic by the science and social science community indeed, I am on record for repeatedly stating so. You are more then welcome to pop over to "Watching the deniers" to read, comment, debate, refute or discuss. Open invitation.

    But can you comment on the materials above? I believe I have responded to your reasonable request for clarification.

    Cheers
  50. survey Of 1,000 British adults in Jul 2008.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jul/31/1

    The online poll, by film company 20th Century Fox·
    1 Area 51 exists to investigate aliens (48%)·
    2 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government (38%)·
    3 Apollo landing was a hoax (35%)·
    4 Diana and Dodi were murdered (32%)·
    5 The Illuminati secret society and masons are trying to take over the world (25%)·
    6 Scientologists rule Hollywood (17% )·
    7 Barcodes are really intended to control people (7%)·
    8 Microsoft sends messages via Wingdings (6%)·
    9 US let Pearl Harbour happen (5%)·
    10 The world is run by dinosaur-like reptiles (3%)

    sceptics come out quite sane by comparison.Just for amusement value only please, another survey of a 1000 individuals, general population.ComparedTo Lewandowsky’s survey, even though the sceptic conspiracy theories may be spammed.The sceptics seem to be doing quite well compared to general population, as do the readers of the pro-science blogs!So are the general public the problem for policy makers, not sceptics. It would be nice if one of the authors could address my questions about the results of the JunkScience survey, above

1  2  3  4  Next

Comments Policy

Post a Comment

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or register a new account.