Dancing with Denialists (and trolls)

A recent thread led to the following rant from myself. If you happen to debate climate deniers on forums and drop by this blog, please tell me if this is also your experience, as I’ve had a gutfull of this rubbish lately!

From the glaciergate comments… directed at pgillman.


And there you go again, repeating more Denialist rubbish. Even “The Economist” has summed up “Climategate” by saying:

“The inquiries into the “climategate” e-mails and files may find that some of the researchers fell short of the standards of their calling, or that some of the science in question does not stand up as well as its authors would wish. To think that all action on climate change should cease pending such inquiries, though, is foolish, cynical or both.”

But basically climategate shows how powerless these climate scientists really are. They came across as a bunch of scientists honestly discussing some of the parameters of their discipline, and expressing frustration at the stupidity of the Denialist rubbish they have to confront all the time, leading them to actually try and ask for certain rubbish papers not to be published. However, the paper in question was published anyway (boy that’s one POWERFUL conspiracy! 😉 and the open and public peer review process revealed it to be exactly what is was, RUBBISH!

I’ve noticed that climate deniers don’t actually quote the most vital paragraph of source documents, because that would show how weak their arguments are. They repeatedly use the old strategy of… repeating. 😉 It’s like a waltz debating climate deniers!

The rules of their waltz are: “Assert 2 3, Distract 2 3, Accuse 2 3, then Assert 2 3” and repeat. Note there is no EVIDENCE in their assertions, no real response to questions put to them, no peer-reviewed science given as evidence, and if they DO take the highly unusual step of actually putting forth ‘some evidence’ it is only to link to a 115 page PDF (of pure rubbish which couldn’t get peer reviewed anyway) and words to the effect that “This PDF is self-explanatory”. As to which paragraph of the PDF is actually relevant to the discussion at hand? No, actually selecting the most relevant paragraph or concept might too easily be debunked by the real science. This is dishonest argument strategy is exactly what you’ve engaged in. You’ve made a bunch of assertions, then character attacks, then more assertions about climategate, and notice that I’m left guessing what on earth you are actually talking about?

So I will take a guess at the ‘torturing the data’ climategate accusation you made, and with a wild stab in the dark will guess it is one of the 2 most talked about climategate emails in the Denialosphere: The “Hide the decline” email. Give me a break and learn about the difference between post-60’s tree ring data and actual thermometers! Talk about taking one phrase out of context!

But then it is impossible to question “True Believers” because its your religion. “Denier” – no I would prefer the title of AGW infidel or heretic!

I can tell. You’re in denial of the worldwide scientific consensus and basically believe in a worldwide conspiracy as a result. Please, which Dan Brown novel do you live in, Da Vinci Code or Lost Symbol?

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2 Responses to Dancing with Denialists (and trolls)

  1. pyrotex says:

    Hello Eclipse!
    Re: Denialists.
    Humanity has lived with “denialists” for all of recorded history. We have many names for them: “tories”, “conservatives”, “monarchists”, “federalists”, and so on. Even the Greeks recognized this group back in their Golden Age.
    It all revolves around :
    “Rhetoric normally explains the three arts of using language as a means to persuade (logos, pathos, and ethos), as well as the five canons of Rhetoric: memory, invention, delivery, style, and arrangement. From ancient Greece to the late 19th Century, it was a central part of Western education, filling the need to train public speakers and writers to move audiences to action with arguments.”
    Note there is nothing in there about truth, evidence or verification.
    It’s ALL about either persuasion or resisting persuasion.
    The latter is done via various nefarious strategies such as (but not limited to): distraction, counterpoint (subtle change of subject), demonization, misrepresentation, misinterpretation, unfalsifiable conclusions, conspiracies, jingoism (use of unrelated catch phrases), paranoia (‘they’re out to hurt us’) and ideological victimization (‘they’re out to destroy our beliefs and traditions’).
    My father (god bless him!) was a Viet Nam denialist. That’s where I first learned about these rhetorical strategies. I have many friends who are denialists of many things: that Wall Street caused our current economic crisis, that there EVER WAS a current economic crisis before Obama, that economic boom-busts EVER have happened in the past, that insurance costs are going through the roof, that inflation is real, that all folks (or citizens at least) should have civil rights, that our founding forefathers weren’t born-again-christians, and on and on for another 3 pages.
    Denialists can have all kinds of native intelligence and education. But their hallmark is that there are problems and issues in the world that they do NOT want to face, or even to hear about. They don’t want their ‘heroes’ sullied, or their ‘traditions’ questioned. They don’t want to recognize that the world has changed out from under them.
    And so they become masters of rhetoric.

  2. eclipsenow says:

    That’s a great list of argument strategies Pyrotex. Yes, I recognise the Greek arguments of logos, pathos, and ethos, but doesn’t logos address the actual data and parts of the argument, the logic or ‘word’ of the data?

    I also think and important distinction needs to be made that many of the ‘followers’ of Denialist meme-casters might not even consciously know that they are engaging in these deceptive argument forms. In other words, they might be sincere and not purposely misguided, but of course they are still incorrect.

    So the bottom line is that because their ‘Denialist heroes’ don’t address the scientific data (or historical facts, depending on the issue they want to disagree with) they sometimes inherit these argument methods without even realising how dishonest many of them are. Then when people try to contradict them, they feel under attack (as the *argument should*, but not necessarily the person) and start to make statements about “don’t attack my opinion/beliefs” on this.

    And that’s when it gets really interesting, because that is when some even seem to admit their opinion is a ‘belief’ they are clinging on to, and not a historical or scientific argument or theory.

    So I have some sympathy for those who have been caught up in this denialist movement, but not for those who endlessly repeat the same drivel in a science forum, without actually addressing the questions put to them, sourcing their claims, or backing up anything with any reasonable data EVER! I’m just glad the moderators finally closed those threads, as BrianG and Theo were starting to get under my skin! 😉

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