Doubleplus-ungood: the language of deniers restricts their critical thinking on climate change (and a helpful dictionary of Denyspeak)

“The climate is not changing. The climate has always changed”

I’ve been paying close attention to the denial movement for almost a year know, and while I do not consider myself “the expert”, I believe I have more than a passing familiarity with not only the tactics of the deniers, but their language.

Like all subcultures, the “deniers” have a language all of their own with key words and phrases loaded with meaning.

For example:

“The climate has always changed”

Is really shorthand for:

“Clearly climate is magic. It changes for no reason, usually on a whim and we’ll never have a clue as to why. I refuse to consider these extraordinary weather events, because clearly that would upset me!”

Or:

“There is no consensus!”

Is actually short hand for:

“I’m comfortable with the idea that there is a massive global conspiracy and that scientists, governments, socialists, greens etc. are all after the loose change in my pocket. I prefer the opinion of unqualified journalists such as “Lord” Monckton. I really like his ties.”.

Or:

“It’s the sun”

Means:

“Perhaps I accept the theory the earth goes around the sun, but only if it is the primary driver of climate change…”

These simple mantras are repeated again and again (viz the comments on my blog).

Climate change: ungood

In a sense, the language of denial is a form of “Newspeak“, Orwell’s fictional language:

“…Newspeak is a fictional language in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The term was also used to discuss Soviet phraseology. Orwell included an essay about it in the form of an appendix in which the basic principles of the language are explained. Newspeak is closely based on English but has a greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar. This suits the totalitarian regime of the Party, whose aim is to make any alternative thinking—”thoughtcrime”, or “crimethink” in the newest edition of Newspeak—impossible by removing any words or possible constructs which describe the ideas of freedom, rebellion and so on. One character, Syme, says admiringly of the shrinking volume of the new dictionary: “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”

After all the logic and language of the deniers revolves around three simple arguments that are repeated ad museum but in different iterations:

  • The scientists are wrong
  • There is no evidence
  • It MUST BE something else, a natural process

I’d note the mild panic that normally accompanies such statements.

After all, repeating these on a daily basis surely reduces one’s anxiety or growing realisation that; climate change is happening; it is happening faster than anticipated; will must likely profoundly impact our civilisation; engenders uncomfortable feelings of guilt, powerlessness and anxiety.

So how do they deal with this?

By using carefully chosen words, phrases and metaphors to inhibit their critical thinking facilities:

“Did I just hear the Arctic is melting faster than anticipated… well it is not melting But it has melted, it melted in the past therefore it is just natural! Now, what’s on the television?”

Honestly, I feel for these guys.

So here’s a little something to help our denier friends simplify the whole process: they need their own “Newspeak”.

By ridding language of such pesky words as “science”, “climate forcing”, “tipping points” and positive feedbacks” they never need confront uncomfortable facts.

The principles of Denyspeak and the English-Denyspeak dictionary

Obviously we need to keep things simple, removing “all shades of meaning from language, leaving simple dichotomies“. I’ve adopted definitions from the site “Newspeak dictionary“.

Denyspeak (deniers speak) is a simple language to learn, and I anticipate its rapid adoption across the blogosphere and then into the English language itself.

A

Anthropogenic climate change (ACC) = thoughtcrime

B

Bolt, Andrew = goodthinker; “One who strongly adheres to all of the principles of Newspeak. (goodthinked, goodthinking, goodthinked, goodthinking, goodthinkful, goodthinking, goodthinkful, goodthinkwise, goodthinker” (See also Monckton, Lord)

C

Climate change = ungood

Climate models = doubleplusungood

Climate Depot (blog) = two-minute hate – “Daily telescreen specials in which various elements of crimethink were packaged into a parade of horrible images and sounds, at which, the viewers were expected to boo, hiss, curse. and release any negative emotions upon.”

Coal = Doubleplus good

D

Denial = goodthinking

E

Evidence, scientific = crimestop; “The faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. In short protective stupidity.”

F

Freedom, economic = free “…Only exist in the sense of “The dog is free of lice”. The concept of political freedom has been replaced by the word crimethink.”

G

Gore, Al = Goldstein; “The supreme enemy of the state. He was once a high-ranking member of the party, until he supposedly betrayed the party and begin engaging in revolutionary activities. He is the supposed head of the “resistance”. Goldstein is to Ingsoc what Satan is to Christianity… The embodiment of pure evil”

H

Hansen, James – Goldstein (see Gore, Al)

Heartland Conference (think thank organised conference questioning the science) = hateweek; “…Week in which Oceanian citizens all attend rallies and parades to inflame hatred of Party enemies and heighten their efforts on behalf of Oceania.”

I

Ice = good

Ice, melting = crimestop (see also “Evidence”)

J

Jones, Phil = Goldstein (see also “Gore, Al”)

K

Kilimanjaro, loss of ice not caused by climate change negates all climate change = goodthinking

M

Mann, Michael – Goldstein

Markets, free = free (see “Freedom”)

Monckton, “Lord” = goodthinker; “…One who strongly adheres to all of the principles of Newspeak. (goodthinked, goodthink, goodthinked, goodthinking, goodthinkful, goodthinking, goodthinkful, goodthinkwise, goodthinker”

N

NASA = the resistance; “…The resistance was the revolutionary group which was supposedly led by the arch-traitor, Emmanuel Goldstein. There is some question as to whether or not this group actually existed. The novel seems to imply that the resistance was simply fabricated by the government, or at the very least, that the police had agents posing as real resistance members in order to catch possible recruits.

The only thing that is for sure, is that the party blamed every possible woe of society on this group. The resistance was blamed for spreading herpes, contaminating the water supply, forging government documents (which was the reason for so many “misprints” in the papers), abducting party members, helping to aim rocket bombs to targets on Airstrip One, and destroying industrial machinery. Every single thing that ever goes wrong is blamed on this group. For instance: Whenever the trains don’t run on time, it is said that the resistance has alter the train schedule … When a department does meet their production goal, it is said that the resistance has altered the original data, resulting in a over-estimation of production for that year.” (see also “Scientists”)

O

Orwell, George = “Who?”

P

Paleoclimate = memory hole; “…A system of pipes, similar to pneumatic tubes, which were used to destroy documents. A document stuffed in the memory hole would be conveniently whisked away to the furnaces below – quickly & easily wiped from history.

Q

Queensland, floods of 2011 and attribution to climate change = thoughtcrime

R

Russia, fires of 2010 = memory hole; “…A system of pipes, similar to pneumatic tubes, which were used to destroy documents. A document stuffed in the memory hole would be conveniently whisked away to the furnaces below – quickly & easily wiped from history.

S

Sceptic = goodthinker (see Monckton)

Science = Thoughtcrime, (see also “Evidence” and “NASA))

Scientists = the resistance (see NASA)

T

Tipping point (concept feedbacks could push climate into potentially dangerous state) = crimestop (see also “Evidence”)

V

Vostock ice core = ungood

W

Watts up with that? (Blog) = blackwhite; “…the ability to accept whatever “truth” the party puts out, no matter how absurd it may be.”

Weather = weather; “…because they can always mention the weather, but not long term trends associated with climate change.”

How do I use Denyspeak in everyday thought and language?

The creators of Denyspeak do “not want people to be intelligent in multiple fields” thus there is no word for “science“.

However, to be effective one must internalize Denyspeak. Do not allow other forms of language to infect your consciousness.

Thus the sentence from a scientific paper:

“…Seasonal near-surface temperatures have increased in many regions of the World. Previous work has shown that this has led to rapidly increasing frequencies of very warm Northern Hemisphere summer temperatures.”

Can easily be translated:

“Thoughtcrime”

By adopting the principles of “Deniers Newspeak” (Denyspeak) the average denier saves time, energy and the necessity of thinking.

Doubleplus good!

18 thoughts on “Doubleplus-ungood: the language of deniers restricts their critical thinking on climate change (and a helpful dictionary of Denyspeak)

  1. fredorth says:

    Talk about being useful! Thank you. Also great for a smile.

  2. john byatt says:

    Climate change: Dogs of law are off the leash
    By Richard Ingham (AFP) – 1 day ago
    PARIS — From being a marginal and even mocked issue, climate-change litigation is fast emerging as a new frontier of law where some believe hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake.
    Compensation for losses inflicted by man-made global warming would be jaw-dropping, a payout that would make tobacco and asbestos damages look like pocket money.
    Imagine: a country or an individual could get redress for a drought that destroyed farmland, for floods and storms that created an army of refugees, for rising seas that wiped a small island state off the map.
    In the past three years, the number of climate-related lawsuits has ballooned, filling the void of political efforts in tackling greenhouse-gas emissions.
    Eyeing the money-spinning potential, some major commercial law firms now place climate-change litigation in their Internet shop window.
    Seminars on climate law are often thickly attended by corporations that could be in the firing line — and by the companies that insure them.
    But legal experts sound a note of caution, warning that this is a new and mist-shrouded area of justice.
    Many obstacles lie ahead before a Western court awards a cent in climate damages and even more before the award is upheld on appeal.
    “There’s a large number of entrepreneurial lawyers and NGOs who are hunting around for a way to gain leverage on the climate problem,” said David Victor, director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California at San Diego.
    “The number of suits filed has increased radically. But the number of suits claiming damages from climate change that have been successful remains zero.”
    Lawsuits in the United States related directly or indirectly almost tripled in 2010 over 2009, reaching 132 filings after 48 a year earlier, according to a Deutsche Bank report.
    Elsewhere in the world, the total of lawsuits is far lower than in the US, but nearly doubled between 2008 and 2010, when 32 cases were filed, according to a tally compiled by AFP from specialist sites.
    The majority of these cases touch on regulatory issues and access to information, which can have many repercussions for coal, gas and oil producers and big carbon-emitting industries such as steel and cement.
    “In this area, the floodgates have opened,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the recently-opened Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School in New York, who contributed to the Deutsche Bank report.
    In the United States, many cases seek clarification on the right of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, while in Europe, the main issue has been emissions quotas allotted to companies in Europe’s carbon market.
    In some cases, courts have thrown out the suits, admitted part of them or declared themselves unfit to issue a ruling and booted the affair to a higher authority.
    The legal fog is especially thick when it comes to so-called nuisance suits, which seek to determine blame, and thus open the way to damages.
    “There are billions of potential plaintiffs and millions of potential defendants,” said Gerrard. “The biggest problem, though, is causation.”
    Gerrard and others pointed out some of the dilemmas for establishing liability, starting with the fact that fossil fuels are used, by all of us, in complete legality.
    And a molecule of CO2 is no respecter of national boundaries. Gas emitted by a car in Los Angeles or by a coal plant in China will help drive climate damage in South Asia, Europe, the North Pole — anywhere.
    Then there is the business of distinguishing between weather and climate. For instance, hurricanes, droughts and floods have always occurred in human history. Can one, or even several, of these be pinned to human meddling in the climate system?
    And there’s a further complication: rich nations were the first to plunder the coal, oil and gas that powered the industrial revolution, but they are now being overtaken by China and other fast-growing but still poor giants.
    So who is to blame? And to what degree?
    Some of the wrangling can be seen in a 2006 case in which California sued three US and three Japanese carmakers, arguing that emissions from their vehicles had caused among other things a melting of mountain snow pack on which the state depends for its water.
    That case was dismissed by a district court in 2007, which ruled that the issues were “political questions” that should be tackled by the US president and Congress.
    It also noted that the cars were sold legally, that the car emissions had not violated any current laws or regulations and climate change had many contributing factors.
    Two other big cases touching on liability have gone to the Supreme Court to adjudicate on competence.
    In the most eagerly-awaited case, whose ruling is expected by the end of June, the state of Connecticut is demanding an injunction against major power companies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
    “That will definitely be the big one,” said Gerrard. “Everyone is waiting to hear what the Supreme Court says.”
    Christoph Schwarte, a lawyer with a British charity called FIELD (Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development), said that even if today’s lawsuits run into the sand, “some of these cases may be winnable in the future.”
    “Case law in the future might evolve, and scientists’ claims to determine the percentage of human contribution to certain extreme weather events may be recognised in some way or another.”
    Today’s lawsuits may also spur thinking about future liability risks among major emitters, Schwarte argued.
    Many tobacco and asbestos lawsuits, for instance, hinged on arguments that firms knew their product was dangerous at the time, but concealed this evidence from the public.
    “(The lawsuits) create awareness and thus also may have an impact on the actions of governments and corporations,” said Schwarte.
    “They also create caution” about what is said in internal documents and emails, he said. “In 15 years’ time, you might not be able to turn around and say ‘I didn’t know anything about it at the time.'”
    Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved. More »

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mat Lane, Watching the deniers. Watching the deniers said: #denyspeak the language of #climatechange denial http://tinyurl.com/48vblgl […]

  4. rogerthesurf says:

    You are the one sounding evangelical,

    Cheers

    Roger

    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

  5. Captain Pithart says:

    anthropomorphic -> anthropogenic🙂

    also, check out this diagram: http://ijish.livejournal.com/30003.html

    p.

    [Fixed, lol an amusing typo as well!

    Mike @WtD]

  6. Christine says:

    LOL – thanks for this!

  7. Good laugh mate!

    I’m working on another piece currently where an evolution denier pretty much uses the same language as a climate change denier (to follow on from my history denier piece). Of course, creationists are the true legends of science denial and any good denial campaign should be modelled on their example.

  8. andydharma says:

    Great blog post! Well done! George Orwell is one of my favourite writers and to see his thinking applied to climate denierspeak is so creative and useful, and funny too in a tragi-comic sort of way. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

    • rogerthesurf says:

      Global Warming => Climate Change => Climate Variability sounds Orwellian to me.

      Cheers

      Roger

      http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

      • greenman3610 says:

        right, one of the dumbest of climate denier canards. “they changed the name to climate change”.

      • Ross Brisbane says:

        Where’s your evidence we have no global warming/climate change or climate variability.

        Stop playing lame duck and spent some time on real science web sites.

        You denier want it all to go away into the sublime because you cannot handle the truth.

        You denier restrict the dialogue down to idealogical verbiage void of any scientific credibility.

        I know I know, all of it is some one world government scheme. Better check Michael’s denial testimony in the States – he let it out – yes 40% of the money comes from big Oil and Coal that support this denial CREEP. These conglomerates are your 1984 not government!

        Looks we’ve got Denialgate a brewing.

  9. […] Doubleplus-ungood: the language of deniers restricts their … […]

  10. rogerthesurf says:

    Still sounds like an effort to have a bet both ways to me.

    Would help if you folks could actually point to some ACTUAL evidence that links anthropogenic CO2 to Global Warming – that does NOT rely on correlations.

    Even in the video I hear the statement that “the world is experiencing its greatest warming, IN THE HISTORY OF INSTRUMENTAL MEASUREMENTS”.

    Well thats a great statement in the world history scheme of things I must say.

    Ever heard the saying “shoot yourself in the foot”?

    Cheers

    Roger

    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

  11. rogerthesurf says:

    Ross,

    For a start I am talkig about so called Anthropogenic Global Warming,
    Secondly, it is YOU guys who are making the assertion that is liable to effect our lives in a big way, and not to the better therefore
    it is reasonable that you supply the evidence for your assertions.

    If you want evidence that disproves your assertion of Anthropogenic global warming, then try my blog and have a good read of the links as well.

    Cheers

    Roger
    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

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