Amazongate: why it matters (as seen through a bullshit filter)

This post is a rewritten version of Delingpole’s latest, as filtered for bullshit. I don’t know if the recent implosion of “Amazongate” has affected him, or if his traffic’s dropped, because this screed is even more pathetic than usual.

In the war for spreading doubt about the near-universally accepted science of AGW, the resoundingly debunked “scandals” of Amazongate and Climategate (none of which actually challenged the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change) were the best attacks deniers could muster.

They cling to these shallow “victories” because the last three or four months have seen every assault on climate science the deniers could muster collapse under scrutiny. Despite their efforts, due to the scientific consensus and extensive evidence of climate change (as well as a more general need for energy security), Britain is investing £50 billion into a Green Investment Bank, which will create almost a quarter of a million jobs, generate much-needed energy and pump money back into the economy.

And what has been the deniers reward for their constant efforts? Their complaints have triggered a string of official inquiries, including three into Climategate, a Penn State one into Michael Mann, a Dutch one into the IPCC, plus the Press Complaints Commission one which led to a climbdown by the Sunday Times over its reporting of Amazongate – every one has exonerated the climate scientists involved and the science of global warming remains unchallenged.

It’s no wonder that promoters of AGW can claim to have right and truth on their side, and that their enemies are just vexatious kooks with no evidence to support their outrageous claims against decent hardworking honest scientists like Michael Mann and Phil Jones.

However, it is a big mistake to think deniers will go quietly.

They honestly believe virtually every respected institution in the world is involved in a climate change conspiracy.

They honestly believe that in a straightforward battle between truth and lies, the deniers have the facts on their side.

Unfortunately, it is likely they will continue to have success in the battle for hearts and minds. In the case of the Amazongate saga, they know that the minutiae is complex, involved and slightly dull. They know that their readers think it is complex, involved and slightly dull, which is why they won’t bother going into detail. They will link to other voices in the denier echo chamber who repeat the same debunked claims, sometimes with passion and sometimes with what appears to be sciencey sounding language.

However, they know their followers won’t go to the effort of reading all those other articles. They only use these other sources to give the impression of credibility before spouting their misleading (and sometimes outright dishonest) claims.

This is why they can say black is white with impunity and confidence.

They will say the Amazongate retraction by the Sunday Times is the result of activism on behalf of the AGW conspiracy and the pro-Warmist bias of the Press Complaints Commission (of all things!). They will, without irony, accuse climate change scientists of employing the same tactics deniers have been using for years.

Why do they do this? If the close of Delingpole’s article is any indication, narcissism is just one of the psychological problems motivating the leaders of the denier movement. As this special report in a May issue of New Scientist explains:

[Seth Kalichman, social psychologist at the University of Connecitcut] believes the instigators of denialist movements have more serious psychological problems than most of their followers. “They display all the features of paranoid personality disorder”, he says, including anger, intolerance of criticism, and what psychiatrists call a grandiose sense of their own importance. “Ultimately, their denialism is a mental health problem. That is why these movements all have the same features, especially the underlying conspiracy theory.”


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