Herald Sun War on Science 9: escalating the war on science

Yesterday the Herald Sun announced that conservative columnist Miranda Divine would be joining their stable of columnists.  

My first thought was “Here comes more climate change denial…”

And true to form, I’m not disappointed.

Dear old Miranda is one of those conservative journalists who recycle denial memes and propaganda in her columns. Divine’s first column – titled “Green advertisement to bring pain” - is a wide-ranging attack on environmentalism and science.

Let’s break it down piece-by-piece.  

10:10 No Pressure campaign

As predicated, the 10:10 campaign is a disaster and will be used again, again by the deniers to draw the “green = terrorism” meme. Divine milks it for all it’s worth:

It’s green Darwinism, known in earlier times as The Final Solution.

Armstrong and friends removed the video from the 10:10 website when complaints started, but it was too late.

She has let the cat out of the bag.Now we have the evidence that during the long silence after the twin blows last year of the Copenhagen climate summit and Climategate, green zealots had been busy plotting revenge.They flipped the switch in their brains that takes them down the blood-spattered path of totalitarian death so well-worn in the 20th century. Now we know: climate change alarmism is a death cult.

We heard the message in its starkest form last month from the Discovery Channel’s suicide bomber James Lee, whose eco manifesto demanded no more “filthy human children” before he was shot dead by police outside the US cable channel’s headquarters in Maryland.

These rants are worthy of your garden variety creationists: Hitler, the Final Solution. In this respect Divine mimics creationists in the US who link Darwin with Hitler, the Holocaust and the individual acts of mentally unwell people.

Personally, I find the 10:10 video objectionable on two levels:

  • the film is tasteless. I find the violence objectionable, especially the thought of harm to children
  • it was an incredible blunder made by people who fail to understand the difference between entertainment and communication.

Divine recycles Heartland Institute talking points

As I noted a few weeks back, the industry funded American think tank “The Heritage Institute” was sponsoring a sceptics conference.

As predicted, talking points have made their way into the media:

As the brilliant Perth-based mathematician David Evans, who wrote the Government’s carbon accounting program when he worked at the Australian Greenhouse Office (now the Department of Climate Change) told a climate seminar last week, the temperature record is based in part on suspect readings.At a seminar by the American climate sceptic think tank, the Heartland Institute, in Sydney on Friday, Evans displayed images of temperature measuring stations around the world, including in Melbourne and Sydney, which stand next to heat-generating air conditioners, freeways and asphalt runways.

The link between industry funded think tanks, the denial machine and the media is made explicitly clear here. 

Divine is recycling the old “temperature records are unreliable” meme. This has been debunked so many times (see here) it’s not funny, however like the creationist meme “There are no transitional fossils” it is endlessly repeated by climate sceptics.

I also like the fact that she calls David Evans a “mathematician”.

Evans has a PhD in engineering. He has not ever been a mathematician, which is a recognised discipline.

Evans also calls himself a “rocket scientist (from SourceWatch):

According to his biographical note, Evans rhetorically describes himself as a “Rocket Scientist”[4]. (While Evans use of the term was rhetorical, one article on a website for the conspiracy-minded took it literally and headed an article about Evans claims “Top Rocket Scientist: No Evidence CO2 Causes Global Warming”.[5] While Evans has a PhD in electrical engineering, there is no evidence that he was ever employed as a rocket scientist. Evans explained this was a misunderstanding: “In US academic and industry parlance, ‘rocket scientist’ means anyone who has completed a PhD in one of the hard sciences at one of the top US institutions.”[6]

He has never worked for NASA. 

He just thinks it makes him sound super-smart. 

It’s the old trick of puffing up ones credentials.

Journalists like Divine are simply gullible.

The HUN is stepping up its war on science

Divine joins Andrew Bolt and Terry McCrann as their most high-profile journalists who without fail regularly wage war on science.  

Since the election in which over 11% of the Australian population voted Green, conservative papers such as the HUN and The Australian have gone into a panic.

They’ve seen the rise as the Greens as a threat, and have been running dozens of stories seeking to attack their credibility and link their world view with Osama Bin Laden, the Nazi’s and communists.  

It’s a very dirty, ugly campaign that is only getting worse.  

Climate science is seen simply as another “green belief”, a meme fostered by think tanks hoping to discredit the science and scientists.

“El sueno de la razon produce monstruos…”

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8 thoughts on “Herald Sun War on Science 9: escalating the war on science

  1. ken dickman says:

    How come we have climate science experts exploding out of the halls of
    learning , all of a sudden ? , they couldn’t have been around to join the ranks of the IPCC Inter-governmental panel on climate change , when they threw together their now ” notorious ” un-substianted ” Computer Model ” which was designed in haste by a pack of economists ( the study of ” Consumption , & Transfer of Wealth ), that says it all ! just another TAX grab , First to fall is copy-cat ” NIWA ” NZ( The National Institute of Water & Atmosphere ) presuming Australia’s counterpart the BOM ( Beauro of Meterology ) had documented Peer Reviewed evidence akin to the IPCC Model , have now admitted in court to unsubstantiated temperature records , is this the first sign of a World-Wide Domino type collapse of the Exalted Peer Review System of Scientific Acceptance . ” Google ” Watts up with that , NIWA .
    dickykenman

    • klem says:

      Dicky Dicky, you sound like a climate denier to me. Here let me help you.

      Now repeat after me.. Al Gore is good…now drink this kool-aid, that’s right, drink a bit more.. now say the IPCC is good…drink more kool-aid…now say all things bad are caused by AGW…now drink more kool-aid..and repeat all things good are caused by something else…drink..drink..that’s good..

  2. Medusa Knows says:

    LOL. There is no such beast as a climate denier. There are those who question Agenda 21 rhetoric and the “new” science of evil CO2, which at best is theoretical, along with the AGW theory. That is all.

    [Unsupported drive by denial - yawn. Mike @ WtD]

  3. Nick says:

    It’s great fun to see Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine together in the same tabloid. I wonder how much their subject matter will overlap? Probably a whole lot. There is a chance that they will dilute the audience and /or phase cancel each other. I wish.

    It’s easier to compare their styles when they sit in the same font,and I’ve got to say,Bolt is a better writer stylistically, with broader interests. Aside from dog-whistling,he seems more economical,a little less malevolent,and diffuses his overbearing tendencies by sub-contracting a lot of his crack-pottery to other News Ltd writers,as well as your garden-variety US Rightists.

    Devine is more self-oriented,and is possibly the most charmless and abrasively ignorant columnist we’ve seen for a while,Janet Albrechtsen aside. Her mix of disdain,scolding and contempt makes her seem more distant and controlling than Bolt,and when she is seen to be so credulous,as in her recent column,this assumed authority becomes particularly empty and unearned.

    Mothincarnate’s penultimate paragraph really captures how the issue is being played such stylists,and I hope we see these two polemicists drive each other to new heights of hysteria and unintentional irony!

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Nicely put! I often think the best content on this site is generated from the readers.

  4. fredorth says:

    Changing topics, has anyone checked out the actions of the Virginia Attorney General against the University of Virginia? I’ll try to track down an article.
    Sorry to interupt.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      No please jump in! Heck, if you want to write an article on it I’ll publish it as a guest post :)

      I’ve been following it but think other blogs are covering that well.

      Real Climate have an excellent summary of the issues:

      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/10/cuccinelli-goes-fishing-again/

      “…if you publish a result that might turn out to be statistically weak or with understated error bars – even if this was in no way deliberate and regardless if you were aware of it at the time – Cuccinelli thinks that is equivalent to fraud. And any grant that you apply for that even cites this paper would therefore be a false claim under the statute. Cuccinelli is specifically not stating that deliberate scientific misconduct must have occurred, all you need to have performed is an inadequate (according to him) statistical treatment or you made an unsubstantiated claim. If you want “unsubstainted claims”, Soon and Baliunas (2003) (cited approvingly by Cuccinelli) would be a great example of course. But more generally, this would clearly open up pretty much the entire literature to ‘fraud’ investigations since one can almost always improve on the statistics. You didn’t take temporal auto-correlation into account in calculating the trend? Cuccinelli thinks that’s fraud. You didn’t fully characterise the systematic uncertainty in the “unknown unknowns”? That too. You weren’t aware of the new data that showed an older paper was incomplete? Too bad. This is not just an attack on Mike Mann, it is an attack on the whole scientific enterprise.”

      A very concerning trend is emerging.

  5. I’ve not seen the 10:10 video and will not – I’m appalled at the lack of judgement used by it’s creators. After a decade of terror propaganda, how stupid was is to blow kids up in relation to climate change? The paranoid ultra-right will do nothing but retreat further into their warped world views (as Divine demonstrates).

    I suppose I’m lucky, being in SA, that I’ve not had much to do with the HUN – the Australian has long annoyed the hell out of me (starting with their sensational nonsense about sharks after an attack in 02 or 03 – they clearly don’t care about the scientific basis).

    Honestly, science has been left for dead in this argument, which now more closely resembles cold war fear than a discussion about environmental degradation. That they can continue to sprout the same debunked nonsense time and time again probably demonstrates that they openly don’t care about evidence over personal beliefs.

    The rules of the game now in play really put me outside the park; where sanity and reason were also left behind.

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