Category Archives: Culture war

How we lost 20 years on climate change action (reprint)

A terrific article from The Conversation which sums up my own thoughts by Maria Taylor, Australian National University

Scientists have warned about the “greenhouse effect” for years. Now it is no longer a scientific nightmare; it has arrived.

Lines from Al Gore’s famous movie? No.

The Sydney Morning Herald published these words in mid-1988. The article detailed record-breaking heat and drought in North America and elsewhere, linking these weather effects with predictions for global warming and climate change (then called the greenhouse effect).

A review of the Fairfax mainstream and business press of the late 1980s and early 1990s found hundreds of articles focused on the risks posed by the greenhouse effect on topics as diverse as biodiversity and holidaying in the Maldives.

These articles all readily ascribed the cause of the greenhouse effect to industrial societies burning fossil fuels.

The science hasn’t changed, but the public story changed dramatically

I recently completed a study of climate change communication in Australia 1987-2001. I reviewed an extensive public record of news reports, government documents, early popular science books and interviews regarding the greenhouse effect.

I found there has not been a one-way road from lesser to better public knowledge of climate change science and available response in Australia in the last two decades. In fact the opposite has been the case and this is directly linked to the public narrative and framing.

The evidence shows that scientific findings – as documented by the IPCC starting in 1990 – remained basically consistent in their description of cause, risk and the need to respond throughout the 1990s.

However, communication from Australian policy makers and the media changed dramatically during the same period –– from expressing good understanding and a will to take action, to a confused and conflicted debate with clear correlations to the national response.

Almost no-one remembers the high point of good understanding that occurred in October 1990. That was when the Federal Government under Bob Hawke established an interim emission reduction target for the nation to lower greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 1990 levels by 2005.

Detailed state and national response plans were established. They canvassed every strategy known today, from efficiency measures and renewable energy to a carbon tax and emissions trading scheme.

But these plans were destined to wither under national competition policy that deregulated the national energy sector to focus on sales and profits rather than “demand management”.

When our values changed, so did the climate change story

The record shows a pivotal change occurred in social values and beliefs that set the public agenda from the mid-1990s on. Politicians and the press gallery, rather than scientists, more and more determined the daily narrative of what was “real”.

Guiding these values were:

  • the narrowed economic options of Australia’s destiny as a resource quarry
  • beliefs in the potential for a greenhouse gas techno-fix (such as clean coal)
  • beliefs in the fundamental divide between the monetary economy and the natural environment, with the latter framed as a cost.

Underlying are beliefs that humans are exceptional and outside the ecological laws governing other species. Such beliefs are widely held in western Christianity and therefore easy to target with coded language.

In the 1990s we added a panoply of beliefs about markets and their ultimate efficiency (so we could not make industry more efficient), embedded in neo-liberal, economic rationalist teachings.

Disciplinary beliefs also played a role. A notable group has been geologists, many of whom were taught that only on-ground measurement and evidence – not future modelling – is valid. This helped explain the enduring sceptic fervour that has confused the public.

Also influential was the impact of scientists communicating degrees of “scientific uncertainty” in the public arena. This is a concept that lay audiences frequently interpret as “don’t know”, and which greatly aided those who don’t want action.

The frames of climate change: from risk management, to too risky

Climate change up to the early 1990s was framed by politicians of both major parties as risk management for everyone. They focussed on Australia being an ethical global citizen responsible to future generations. Responses were framed as “win-win” for the environment and for new jobs. This reflected international response at the time.

After 1991, Paul Keating – and later John Howard – were preoccupied with the economy. Climate change action went on the back burner in the bureaucracy, eventually completing the transition to “can’t do” under Howard.

The reframed narrative became that Australia is exceptional: if climate change science is real, Australia should commit to minimal response because our economy relies on cheap energy and coal exports and we are not about to change.

Politicians became adept during this period at framing these messages with warm emotional values of nation and family –– evoking “us” against the “them” of greenies, Europeans, and the United Nations. These were portrayed as elites and outsiders trying to rob us of our jobs and businesses.

Understanding the coded language of the changed narrative, how it was done, is a lot about how people take up information, and that is another story that emerged from my study.

While the science findings have stayed consistent since at least 1990, politicians and the media re-framed their communication, and that radically changed public knowledge about climate change and the will to respond. Thanks to this change, Australia has lost 20 years of potential action on emission reduction.

Maria Taylor does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

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The 97%: when told scientists accept climate change, the public “gets the science is settled”

Welcome back readers!

I’ll be leading with an interesting article republished from The Conversation this week which discusses a recent paper in Nature Climate Change, and which in many respects goes right to the heart of the issue: how the denial movement has sought to mislead the public on the scientific consensus.

As many of you understand the vast majority scientists and all reputable scientific academies and associations accept the reality climate change.

This is problematical for climate sceptics as one of their key strategies is to push the myth – and it is just that – that no such consensus exists (see recent WtD article Here we go again: Watts up with that pushes the no consensus myth).

Indeed, the infamous Luntz Memo (see in WtD evidence library) written by an advisor to the George W. Bush administration made this one of the key strategies in fostering doubt:

The scientific debate remains open: Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming with the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field.

The recent paper in Nature by Stephan Lewandowsky,Gilles E. Gignac and Samuel Vaughan titled The pivotal role of perceived scientific consensus in acceptance of science clearly demonstrates how this long running campaign to discredit the science can be defeated.

When told a scientific consensus exists, and that it is on the order of 97% of climate scientists, the vast majority of the public accept the science. As the article abstract notes:

Although most experts agree that CO2 emissions are causing anthropogenic global warming (AGW), public concern has been declining. One reason for this decline is the ‘manufacture of doubt’ by political and vested interests, which often challenge the existence of the scientific consensus. The role of perceived consensus in shaping public opinion is therefore of considerable interest: in particular, it is unknown whether consensus determines people’s beliefs causally. It is also unclear whether perception of consensus can override people’s ‘worldviews’, which are known to foster rejection of AGW. Study 1 shows that acceptance of several scientific propositions—from HIV/AIDS to AGW—is captured by a common factor that is correlated with another factor that captures perceived scientific consensus. Study 2 reveals a causal role of perceived consensus by showing that acceptance of AGW increases when consensus is highlighted. Consensus information also neutralizes the effect of worldview.

The last sentence is revealing: acceptance of the science “neutralizes the effect of worldview”.

Yes, even the most right-wing conservative free market fundamentalist can come to terms with the science. Those that don’t remain the committed to their scepticism” are mostly the conspiracy theorists and idealogues.

Scientific consensus shifts public opinion on climate change

By Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation

People are more likely to believe that humans cause global warming if they are told that 97% of publishing climate scientists agree that it does, a new study has found.

Despite overwhelming evidence showing that human activity is causing the planet to overheat, public concern is on the wane, said the study, titled The pivotal role of perceived scientific consensus in acceptance of science and published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday.

“One reason for this decline is the ‘manufacture of doubt’ by political and vested interests, which often challenge the existence of the scientific consensus. The role of perceived consensus in shaping public opinion is therefore of considerable interest,” the study’s authors said.

Overall, participants in the study greatly underestimated the level of scientific agreement on the issue, the study said.

Lead researcher Stephan Lewandowsky from the Cognitive Science Laboratories at the University of Western Australia said the study involved two surveys.

In the first, 200 Perth pedestrians were asked about their views on the scientific research linking human CO2 emissions to climate change as well as their thoughts on medical research linking smoking to lung cancer and HIV to AIDS.

The results showed that people who had faith in scientific or medical research in general were more likely to accept expert opinion on climate change.

“So some people just accept science as an endeavour and it doesn’t matter whether is the science is about climate or something else,” said Prof Lewandowsky.

The second study involved surveying 100 Perth pedestrians — half in a control group and half in a ‘consensus group’.

The control group was asked about their views on the causes of climate change but the consensus group, however, was first told that 97% of publishing climate scientists agree that global warming is a direct consequence of the burning of fossil fuels by humans.

People in the consensus group were much more likely to say that human activity caused climate change, even if their political views were otherwise broadly in line with free market ideologies that eschew the government regulation required to curb emissions.

“So providing the consensus information is boosting acceptance, particularly for those people who would otherwise reject the evidence based on their world view,” said Prof Lewandowsky.

“Telling them about this numeric fact about agreement in the scientific community does make a difference. That’s quite remarkable because few things work.”

Other studies have shown that presenting evidence alone does little to change minds and can even lead to people becoming more entrenched in their disbelief of human-caused climate change, he said.

The study showed it was important for scientific communicators and journalists to tell their audience that the vast majority of climate change experts believe that human activity is causing global warming.

“It is reaching even those people who would normally tune out when you tell them the evidence,” Prof Lewandowsky said, adding that journalists should not give denialists and climate change experts equal air time.

“The media is being irresponsible if they are pretending there is a scientific debate in light of this consensus.”

Will J Grant from the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at the Australian National University said it was an interesting and useful study.

“We can say people are convinced by the consensus but the big caveat is sceptics and climate change sceptics in particular are never going to be convinced by this,” he said. “They will say science doesn’t work by vote, it’s about facts.”

“Realistically, though, most of those sceptics are of an older generation. We are never going to convince them but they will be disappearing from the political discourse soon.”

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

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The GOP and right-wing war on reality; 63% republicans believe Iraq had WMDs. Oh, and Obama is a Muslim. Born in Kenya. Climate science is a scam.

This is what happens when you build a parallel culture, fueled by popularist rage and denial of reality;

Yes, you read that graphic correctly – a whopping 65% think Iraq had WMDs:

New polling data shows that Republicans believe all kinds of verifiably untrue things to be not only true, but the Truth. 

For starters, two-thirds of Republicans believe that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. The Republican party must have amnesia over the outrage of no weapons found in Iraq, it was 9 years ago. 

What the polls show, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said Tuesday, is a party obliterated to reality.

That’s what happens when you watch Fox News eh?

Then there is the issue of how the average Republican voter perceives Obama’s religious views:

Over 50% think Obama is a Muslim or “don’t know”. Uh huh…

And on the issue of climate change: 

The right believes, Fineman said, that scientists and government bureaucrats are conspiring to rob Americans of their freedom by convincing the world that climate change is real.

As I’ve just been stating, this ‘war on science” has been waged for decades: consider also the prevalence of creationism among the Republican base.

And we’re surprised at the opposition to the science in the United States and within the GOP itself?

Nor can we brush aside the wacky Birtherism (i.e. Obama was not born in the United States and the birth certificate was faked):

And the most recent example of wild-eyed conspiracy theories is that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States. That his becoming president was part of a conspiracy that dates back to the 1960s when Obama was born.

As the “theory” goes, Hawaiian state officials faked a birth certificate for Obama, someone ran a phony birth announcement in the local paper nearly 50 years ago, all to pave the wave for little baby Barack to become president some day and institute Sharia law in the United States.

It’s sounds nuts, but the birther craze has reached a lot of Republicans. 

In a recent poll, 37 percent of Ohio Republicans who voted in the GOP primary don’t believe Obama was born in the United States, and 21 percent aren’t sure. That means less than half believe he is a natural born citizen. 

In a Pew Research Center poll, less than half of all voters believe Obama is a Christian. A whopping 17 percent think he’s Muslim. And of Republicans, 64 percent think he’s Muslim.

It is interesting how very, very quickly this idea has gone “mainstream” – but of course, when you build a culture built upon the conspiracy theories, should we be surprised?

Oh, just in case you need a pretty picture to tell the story:

Genesis of the watermelon myth: how right-wing popularism shaped climate scepticism for the past two decades

The emergence of the New Right and climate scepticism

Further to the previous post, I thought I’d share an interesting presentation from The Public Eye, a progressive think tank that conducts research on right-wing popularism. It is a very high level overview of the movement, but worth looking at if you have the time (download the copy from the WtD archives here).

It does need to be said the right is not a monolithic entity – it is comprised of various groups, some in broad agreement and others in violent disagreement.

However they share deep commonalities.

My research has lead me to the thought that the climate sceptic movement is an offshoot, or component, of a broad based right-wing popularist movement that has been emerging and growing in political power since the 1950s.

In order to support such an argument I’ve been tracing the genesis of the ‘watermelon” myth – that environmentalism is merely a new form of socialism (Wikipedia definition here):

Eco-socialists are critical of many past and existing forms of both Green politics and socialism. They are often described as Red Greens – adherents to Green politics with clear anti-capitalist views, often inspired by Marxism (Red Greens should be contrasted with Blue Greens).

The term Watermelon is commonly applied, often as an insult, to describe professed Greens who seem to put “social justice” goals above ecological ones, implying they are “green on the outside but red on the inside”; the term is usually attributed to either Petr Beckmann or, more frequently, Warren T. Brookes,[2][3][4] both critics of environmentalism, and is apparently common in Australia,[5][6] New Zealand[7] and the United States[8]

Clearly the watermelon theory has its antecedents in anti-communism – and yes, some socialists and Marxists have written on environmental issues.

And yet despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall it seems many sceptics are still fighting the Cold War.

Not all environmentalists are Marxists, and scientists aren’t socialists simply because they’ve pointed out the globe is warming: is it that some conservatives simply can’t let go of the Cold War paradigm?

President of the Czech Republic (sceptic and advocate for free markets) Vaclav Klaus is noted for his comparisons of climate change science to Marxism, as this 2011 ABC interview demonstrates:

Geraldine Doogue: Could we talk first about your idea, how much the politics of climate change reminds you of the politics of the communist era in the old Czechoslovakia, please?

Vaclav Klaus: Well, I would like to put it in a mild way, that comparison. You know, I lived, I spent almost half a century of my life in the communist era, where I was forced to accept similar arguments. And I was very angry. I protested, I tried to explain it differently and now I again live in a world of political correctness; in a world when you have one idea you are considered a ‘climate change denier’ or you are considered a ‘sceptic’, and I always try to say that I disagree with those terms, labels, as sceptic, pessimist, denier.

I’d suggest there is more to this than simple right-wing paranoia.

There is a deeper story, far more nuanced than simply equating climate change scepticism with either fossil fuel funded disinformation or lingering fears about reds under the bed.

But first we need to look at the emergence of “the New Right” and the ideologies that informs it.

From reds under the bed to watermelons: the 1950s to today

Public Eye provide an good diagram illustrating the emergence of right-wing popularism since the 1950s and the McCarthy era;

Into this time line – around the mid 1980s – the issue of climate change came to the attention of the various right wing movements that form the basis of this movement.

Conservatives immediately began to formulate a response – and counter-movement – to the perceived threats of a) increased government regulation and b) challenges to cherished values and norms.

It is only now, twenty years after the fact, that we are beginning to recognize how climate change became embroiled in the ‘culture war”:

Taken together, these three facets of our existential challenge illustrate the magnitude of the cultural debate that climate change provokes. Climate change challenges us to examine previously unexamined beliefs and worldviews. It acts as a flash point (albeit a massive one) for deeper cultural and ideological conflicts that lie at the root of many of our environmental problems, and it includes differing conceptions of science, economics, religion, psychology, media, development, and governance.

It is a proxy for “deeper conflicts over alternative visions of the future and competing centers of authority in society,” as University of East Anglia climatologist Mike Hulme underscores in Why We Disagree About Climate Change. And, as such, it provokes a violent debate among cultural communities on one side who perceive their values to be threatened by change, and cultural communities on the other side who perceive their values to be threatened by the status quo.

In attempting to understand climate scepticism I believe we have overlooked how it has been shaped by broader cultural forces. As I have often said, “we” were incredibly naive to think it was simply about presenting the scientific evidence in a “rational and logical manner”.

Parallel cultures and counter-knowledge: think tanks and the fusion right-wing popularism and environmental scepticism

As part of this analysis, I believe we need to draw attention to the important role of conservative think tanks.

They are not merely the ciphers of corporate propaganda.

They are the critical formulators and disseminators of counter-knowledge: disinformation packaged as fact and tailored to the world view of cultural groups.

They are cultural institutions (see above), specifically established in the 1970s to produce counter-knowledge and scholarship in opposition to “official” sources such as academia, mainstream media and science.

They are a critical component of a parallel conservative culture which frequently rejects established scientific theories such as evolution and climate change.

We need to rid ourselves of the simple notion that their corporate funders pay them to spout free-market propaganda: many of their funders share the same world view and cluster of conservative, right-wing values. 

Indeed, one merely needs to look at the context and mission of think tanks when they were established in the 1970s.

The famous memo Lewis Powell memo of 1971 urged the US Chamber of Congress to begin building a parallel system of thought and idea generation to counter ‘socialism” and the enemies of freedom:

The most disquieting voices joining the chorus of criticism come from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians. In most of these groups the movement against the system is participated in only by minorities. Yet, these often are the most articulate, the most vocal, the most prolific in their writing and speaking.

Moreover, much of the media-for varying motives and in varying degrees-either voluntarily accords unique publicity to these “attackers,” or at least allows them to exploit the media for their purposes. This is especially true of television, which now plays such a predominant role in shaping the thinking, attitudes and emotions of our people.

One of the bewildering paradoxes of our time is the extent to which the enterprise system tolerates, if not participates in, its own destruction.

Note the broad application of the “enemies”: media, the arts, sciences and politicians.

Powell’s memo did not single-handily create the think-tanks, but it did provide powerful impetus for their creation.

Today, the think tanks are the great “fusionists” of right-wing thought and conspiracy culture.

Over the past several decades they have fused scepticism of environmental issues with a free market ideology and – critically – conservative social values.

One merely has to visit their websites to see the cluster of ideology and values loudly proclaimed: the literature and language of think-tanks abounds with terms such as “liberty”, “freedom” and “democracy”.

Take a closer look, note the language and imagery:


Freedom; liberty; freedom; liberty; freedom; liberty; freedom.

Notice a pattern?

An enormous strategic error has been made: by simply and naively focusing on the scientific arguments promoted and extolled by the think tanks we missed the broader context.

We spoke in facts, they have always spoken of values.

It was always a culture war, and it has been raging for decades.

What do we mean by “right-wing popularism”?

I’ll produce another slide from the Public Eye presentation which illustrates some of the key components of right-wing popularism:

I’d draw the readers attention to two key concepts listed above:

  • Anti-intellectualism – suspicion of elites, including an emphasis on conspiracist allegations of in shadowy forces control the economy and media
  • Producerism – a form of scapegoating that sees attacks from both those above and those below, defining proper identity along very narrow lines.

Sound familiar?

The producerism of climate sceptics: Australia’s Dr. David Evans as an example

The motifs and language of producerism is a common thread throughout sceptic literature.

One has to look no further than the persistent and frequent claims by sceptics that scientists, bankers, government and the media are all engaged in a conspiracy. Public Eye defines Producersim in more detail:

Calls to rally the virtuous “producing classes” against evil “parasites” at both the top and bottom of society is a tendency called producerism. It is a conspiracist narrative used by repressive right wing populism. Today we see examples of it in some sectors of the Christian Right, in the Patriot movements and armed militias, and in the Far right. (see chart of US right). Producerism is involved in the relationship between Buchanan, Fulani, Perot, and the Reform Party. 

Producerism begins in the US with the Jacksonians, who wove together intra-elite factionalism and lower-class Whites’ double-edged resentments. Producerism became a staple of repressive populist ideology. Producerism sought to rally the middle strata together with certain sections of the elite. Specifically, it championed the so-called producing classes (including White farmers, laborers, artisans, slaveowning planters, and “productive” capitalists) against “unproductive” bankers, speculators, and monopolists above—and people of color below. After the Jacksonian era, producerism was a central tenet of the anti-Chinese crusade in the late nineteenth century. In the 1920s industrial philosophy of Henry Ford, and Father Coughlin’s fascist doctrine in the 1930s, producerism fused with antisemitic attacks against “parasitic” Jews.

I’ll be exploring producerism in more detail, but I would draw attention to the fact that bankers and other ‘parasitic classes’ are frequently the perceived enemies identified by parts of the climate sceptic movement.

It also explains the strangely antisemitic strain of thought that finds expression in some climate sceptic literature and expressed world-views (see here and here).

We see echoes of this in the writings of Perth sceptic Dr. David Evans and his partner, blogger Joanne Nova.

Evans and Nova write frequently on the influence of the financial industry and Rothschild family as being the “true powers” in the world manipulating global events.

The genealogy of this form conspiracy first found expression in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century: however it has continued to be influential within conspiracy culture and is a motif frequently recycled and used today.

In one of his recent papers, Evan’s writes about a parasitic class he calls the “paper aristocracy”:

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…”

So when you hear sceptics repeat the oft repeated phrase “follow the money” it is not simply a claim that scientists and environmentalists are motivated by venal self interest: the money is used to exert influence and reshape the political system behind the scene (or so the conspiracy theory claims).

It is a claim to a massive conspiracy that has its roots in a number of strands of right-wing thought.

Again, patterns in thought and conspiracy making can be seen to be emerging.

Eternal vigilance: the existential socialist threat that never fades

I would also add the above the persistent right-wing fear of socialism or Marxism as a resurgent force. The Berlin Wall may have fallen, but the cultural and Cold War warriors have sworn to remain every vigilant to the danger.

This is why the conflict between “freedom” and “tyranny” can never end; it is a holy war, apocalyptic in nature and an existential threat that can never fade.

Again, we see this in a 2012 speech by Vaclav Klaus:

From the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, that is from the establishment of the Club of Rome and its first reports, I became afraid of the green ideology, in which I saw a dangerous alternative to the traditional socialist doctrine. It was evident that it was another radical attempt to change human society. The alleged depletion of natural resources and the so called population bomb were merely a pretence. At that time it was not possible to see the Global Warming Doctrine that arrived later, nor the power and dangers hidden inside it…

The barbarians are always at the gates, waiting to destroy civilisation.

Climate scepticism: the roots of the movement go beyond big oil

One of the most important works on climate scepticism is the Oreskes and Conway text Merchants of Doubt.

I do not intend to challenge the very sound assumptions of that book.

But I did think as I read the work (and I humbly suggest this) it only told part of the story.

Thus I decided to revisit the primary materials from the same periods – the immediate post war years until today.

I also thought it worth while expanding my research beyond the sources listed in Merchants of Doubt and review a broader range of texts, articles and videos by the individuals discussed.

Very quickly I began finding “climate sceptic” materials from the late 1980s and early 1990s demonstrating the sceptic movement is more than simply the product of the right wing think tanks funded by “big oil”.

Their language and motifs echoed the claims of right-wing popularism to a surprising degree.

Indeed many of the arguments we are still responding to today – action on climate will destroy the economy, climate change is a religion or a manufactured hoax etc. – were formulated in the mid to late 1980s and have been endlessly recycled in the decades since.

Conspiracism is a key feature of all these movements, and has heavily influenced the culture of the climate sceptic community.

An argument can be made that in addition to the think tanks funded by “big oil”, a broad based right-wing conservative movement has waged a “war on science”.

For far too long we saw scepticism as the one defining characteristic of the deniers: however their scepticism is merely one component of a much broader world view.

Indeed the attack on climate science has been running for decades on multiple fronts by a broad coalition of conservative forces using the language and tactics of right-wing popularism.

Genesis of the watermelon myth: the religious anxiety and climate scepticism Dixy Lee Ray

Those who have read the Oreskes and Conway book may recall Dixy Lee Ray, the conservative Democratic governor of Washington state (see page 130 ff).

Ray wrote one of the earliest sceptic books titled Trashing the planet: how science can help us deal with acid rain, depletion of ozone, and nuclear waste (among other things).

In this work Ray sang the praises of DDT and dismissed the threat of Ozone depletion, helping establish the sceptic methodology for the attack on climate science.

As Orekes and Conway note, Ray was a practitioner of ‘denial as a political strategy”:

“…We see this narrative first emerging someone we have already met: Dixy Lee Ray. In Trashing the planet, Ray sang the praises of DDT and constructed a set of ‘facts” that have circulated every since…”

Oreskes and Conway examine her role in the early sceptic movement, her scientific misunderstandings (or if you are less charitable distortions) and her legacy. However, Ray’s legacy goes beyond the “DDT is safe” myth.

When I looked at the full extent of Ray’s writings I was curious to find the following interview in the Fall, 1992, issue of Science and the Environment: a Publication of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty (note the title).

In this interview Ray reflects on the original Rio Earth Summit and claims environmentalism is the next big threat to “liberty”:

R&L: With the world-wide decline of socialism, many individuals think that the environmental movement may be the next great threat to freedom. Do you agree? 

Ray: Yes, I do, and I’ll tell you why. It became evident to me when I attended the worldwide Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro last June. The International Socialist Party, which is intent upon continuing to press countries into socialism, is now headed up by people within the United Nations. They are the ones in the UN environmental program, and they were the ones sponsoring the so-called Earth Summit that was attended by 178 nations.

Ray then goes on to make a remarkable series of claims that foreshadows much of the sceptic movements claims about world government, climate change as a religion and the conspiratorial notion the UN Agenda 21 program is intended to usher in a world government:

R&L: Did you see a big influence by the radical environmentalists there? 

Ray: Oh yes. No question about that, the radicals are in charge. One of the proposals that did indeed pass as part of Agenda 21 proposes that there be world government under the UN, that essentially all nations give up their sovereignty, and that the nations will be, as they said quite openly, frightened or coerced into doing that by threats of environmental damage. 

R&L: Much of the current environmental movement is couched in terms of pagan religions, worshiping the Earth, goddess Gaia, equating the value of trees and people, animal rights, etc. Can you account for how this is accepted in the public forum, when traditional Judeo-Christian religious ethics are basically outlawed from policy making decisions? Do you think the general public is just unaware of the tendency to make environmentalism a religion?

On the role of government, Ray is very clear:

R&L: One could argue that the decline of Marxism vindicates Thomas Jefferson’s assertion that the less government does to the complex order of a national economy, the more likely it is that the economy will prosper and the liberty of its citizens will be secured. In the complex order of the environment, what things are appropriate for government to do in order to protect the natural workings of the environment and simultaneously secure liberty?

Ray: I think it’s appropriate for the government to set standards. For example, to describe what is permitted in the terms of releasing waste products into the environment. I think that it’s appropriate for there to be standards with respect to pollution of the air and the water and so on. I do not believe that the government is in any position to say exactly how every single business and every single activity shall reach those performances. The government should set a goal for a clean environment but not mandate how that goal should be implemented.

And there you have it: climate scepticism, religious conservatism, free market fundamentalism and conspiracy ideation.

Ray’s thoughts epitimise the culture war; they also point to the genesis of “the watermelon” myth in context to climate change.

The debate we have been fighting for the last 20 years has been informed by a fusionist mix of social and religious conservatism.

In the Ray interview we see – in its most nascent and earliest form – the contemporary climate sceptic movement born from a culture of right-wing popularism.

Thus when Sen, Jim Inhofe claims in his book The Greatest hoax: how the global warming conspiracy threatens your future about the role of God in climate change:

Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that “as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.”

My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.

…he is not saying anything new.

Indeed his world view and politics is shaped by the sometimes conflicting and at other times overlapping ideology of the New Right.

We also see this with UK journalist and climate sceptic James Delingpole who has devoted an entire work to the concept of “watermelons”. It echos the claims made by Dixy Lee Ray over twenty years ago.

The book, Watermelons: the green movement’s true colors, merely works in an established tradition (form the blurb which says it all):

Watermelons shows how the scientific method has been sacrificed on the altar of climate alarmism. Delingpole mocks the green movement’s pathetic record of apocalyptic predictions, from the “population bomb” to global cooling, which failed to materialize. He reveals the fundamental misanthropy of green ideology, “rooted in hatred of the human species, hell bent on destroying almost everything man has achieved”. 

Delingpole gives a refreshing voice to widespread public skepticism over global warming, emphasising that the “crisis” has been engineered by people seeking to control our lives by imposing new taxes and regulations. “Your taxes will be raised, your liberties curtailed and your money squandered to deal with this ‘crisis'”, he writes. 

At its very roots, argues Delingpole, climate change is an ideological battle, not a scientific one. Green on the outside, red on the inside, the liberty-loathing, humanity-hating “watermelons” of the modern environmental movement do not want to save the world. They want to rule it.

Delingpole, like Ray, warns about vast global conspiracies and the stealth motives of “Agenda 21′ in his text.

Conclusions: climate scepticism as a form of right-wing popularism?

I tend to think the voluminous primary material similar to Ray’s interview supports the assertion the climate sceptic movement is an offshoot – or part thereof – of the right-wing popularism that has been growing in power and influence for the past several decades.

Climate sceptics have utilized the tactics and language of this movement since the late 1980s and early 1990s: I believe the documentary evidence supports this hypothesis.

Indeed, the climate sceptic movement shares many of the same characteristics and traits of right-wing popularism:

  • anti-intellectualism
  • social conservatism
  • conspiracy claims
  • producerism

These topics will be explored in future posts, and I believe it is a hypothesis worth exploring.

Final thoughts

Key message to the environment movement: stop fighting the war over scientific facts; stop thinking climate scepticism is the product of fossil fuel industry disinformation; start speaking of our values; stop being obsessed with “who” funds which think tank, the public is indifferent to this failed strategy. It’s bigger than that: it has always been so.

Climate sceptics versus the enemies within: conspiracy culture, right wing popularism and the art of counter-subversion (Part 1)

“Man-made climate change is a myth… I think all these issues have to be settled on the base of real science, not manufactured science” – Michelle Bachmann

I’m continuing my research in what is now a very clear association between parts of the climate sceptic movement and conspiracy culture.

For those interested in conspiracy culture I plan to regularly publish lists of those texts and papers I’ve read over the past few years – all of which will be added to the libraryThis will also help set the scene for what will no doubt be the focus of this blog from this point forward: conspiracy culture and the role of values in the climate change debate.

The following post refers you to some key scholarly texts, but also why I believe they are relevant to any attempted understanding of climate change scepticism. I’m also sketching out in broad terms some key concepts based on my reading of the academic literature. From this point much of the research, writing and work of this blog will flow from my reading and interacting with scholars on the above.

There is a lot to take in here: consider this a “primer” with subsequent posts and articles discussing these concepts in more detail.

With this in mind, let us enter the world of conspiracy culture and the fear of the coming New World Order and just how much it dominates the fears and nightmares of sceptics and conservatives…

Manufacturing a global crisis with climate change: the conspiracy culture and climate scepticism link

Where to begin your understanding of conspiracy culture and its relation to climate scepticism?

That was the challenge I faced several years ago as a novice blogger with some general assumptions about conspiracy culture and the drivers of conspiracy theorists.

Was it all simple paranoia?

Where these people somehow unwell?

Is this a new political phenomenon?

What I found was surprising – to me at least.

Conspiracy culture is more pervasive than one would image and has been shaping politics in surprising ways – more so than it is generally understood by those of us assuming people view the word in the same logical, Enlightenment model of the world employed by the scientists or the “rational” individual.

If the evidence is overwhelming, acceptance – or belief – should follow.


As it turns out reason is somewhat in short supply and conspiracy theories have been flourishing on the margins of politics and debate for decades and have now erupted into the mainstream.

Ideas once considered fringe have become been accepted by millions and by elites: indeed, nearly all GOP American presidential candidates have dismissed the science as not merely flawed, but “a myth” and hoax (see above).

This is conspiracy culture bursting into the mainstream and shaping the politics of a super power. 

As scholars of conspiracy culture have warned for decades now, such wide-scale adoption of conspiracy culture has the potential to distort the political process.

Indeed, the lamentable state of the climate change debate and the continuing rejection of the science by sections of the public and conservative political elites could possibly be traced to a growing acceptance of conspiracy theories and their currency in what is often called the “culture war”.

Thus the Michelle Bachmann’s and Sarah Palins of the world – the ultra-religious conservative American politicians both touted as possible Presidential candidates – noted for their rejection of climate change, evolution and embrace of free markets are not an aberration.

They are the products of a specific culture, part of which embraces and extols conspiracy theories and the rejection of certain forms of knowledge as the product of “satanic forces” that must be both refuted and countered.

Introductory and general texts

The following introductory texts are a good as place to start as any.

A culture of conspiracy: apocalyptic visions in contemporary America by Michael Barkun – Barkun provides a useful framework for understanding conspiracy culture: the different types of conspiracies; how conspiracy theorists are attracted to “stigmatized” knowledge”; and the strong association between right-wing popularism and “new world order” paranoia. Personally, this is my favoured text.

Enemies within: the culture of conspiracy within modern America by Robert Alan Goldberg – Another favourite text of mine, Goldberg’s text clearly demonstrates conspiracy culture is nothing new to American politics: indeed, the argument could be made that it has always been part of politics and not an aberration of the political process.

We tend to see the likes of the Tea Party, the hysterical paranoia of Glenn Beck, Birthers and Truthers as something new: the fact is every decade spawns a new class of conspiracy theorists in response to political and world events.

It was inevitable – indeed, it should have been foreseen – that conspiracy theorists would react to climate change and filter it through pre-existing conspiracy theories.

The following text provides context and the long history of conspiracy theories and how they have shaped politics:

Real enemies: conspiracy theories and American democracy, World War 1 to 9/11 by Kathryn Olmsted – This text really helped my understanding that every decade conspiracy theories are reborn and repurposed to soothe the anxieties of the time. Did you know that prior to World War 2 significant sections of the Republican Party believed President Roosevelt was a secret socialist who intended to establish a dictatorship by expanding the Federal government to such an extent it would control every aspect of the individual’s life?

Reading such works was illuminating, especially the parallels with conspiracy theories that have wide currency at the moment. Indeed, it was surprising to find that in the immediate aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor right-wing conservatives started theorising the President allowed the Japanese to attack as a pretext to usher in a fascist regime – a variation of the false flag theory.

Sound familiar?

The truth is out there: the role of the media and popular culture

Both the internet and popular culture have been critical in shaping conspiracy culture (and vice versa). This will be explored more fully but a good place to start is here:

Conspiracy theory in film, television and politics by Gordon B. Arnold – This is a terrific primer on how popular culture has influenced and shaped conspiracy culture. Starting with how Hollywood responded to the “reds under the bed” paranoia of the 1950s it traces the evolution of conspiracy themes in film and television until the early twenty-first century.

Arnold’s book makes a strong case for the idea that fringe conspiracy beliefs were “mainstreamed” by the media and made more palatable to a general audience. Perhaps we see this mainstreaming of “conspiracy ideation” manifesting itself in the large numbers of people who believe Obama was not born in the United States or 9/11 was an “inside job”.

We live in a culture in which new conspiracy theories are ripe for adoption by the public and even members of the political, media and business classes. But there is more to this than an overabundance of conspiracy theories wrapped up in entertaining movies and shows such as “The X-Files”.

We also need to consider the rise of right-wing popularism.

Strange bedfellows: the emergence of right-wing-popularism and its fusion with climate scepticism

The roots of the “culture war” can be seen in the rise of right-wing movements who have sought to wind back the role of government, implement “market solutions” and return society to “traditional values” – what I have tentatively been referring to as neo-fundamentalism (to distinguish it from neo-liberalism).

Thus understanding the emergence of what is referred to as right-wing popularism (RWP) and how this may have impacted the climate change debate is critical.

This broad-based “movement” was the product of the cold war paranoia about socialism and a reaction to globalisation, the civil, women’s and gay rights movements and the massive cultural and societal changes of the past decades. One can also see it the emergence of the “moral majority” and strident evangelical strain of religion in the US and other parts of the globe.

I’d recommend the following text that to help decode the messages and arguments (while tracing the history) of the radical right and the seemingly impossible contradictions of their arguments and world views:

Right-wing popularism in America: too close for comfort by Chip BerlotThis is a must read in any attempt to understand contemporary politics in America – from libertarians to fundamentalists, the rise of the right-wing is charted brilliantly.

Belort makes the argument – forcefully and correctly I believe – that for the past 60 years the extremist and radical fringe within the US (I would argue Australia to a lessor extent) has sought to capture the conservative movement while pushing their radical agenda of libertarian economics, social conservatism and religiosity.

As the issue of climate change “heated up”, a popularist and conservative reaction to the perceived regulatory and cultural changes also came into being.

The threat of more regulation, arguments for less consumption and the necessity of global agreements literally terrified the conservatives and those with a right-wing predisposition – it fuelled their fear of New World Orders, reds under the beds and wind farms as agents of disease.

More discussion on this to come… enjoy the those texts if you get a chance.

The next posts will explore conspiracy culture a little more and make the argument that climate sceptics see themselves as the “saviours” of science and traditional values, and are engaged in what one could call “counter-subversion” angainst “the enemy within”.

Climate deniers: making the world safe from bankers? (guest post)

Tim at New Anthropocene has posted an article exploring the strange nexus between conspiracy culture, belief and climate change denial. It is a good extension of some of the conversation that has been focussed on conspiracy ideation.  It is part of the growing awareness that parts of the climate change “sceptic” movement employ motifs and tropes typical of conspiracy culture, some of which extend back decades. Enjoy, Mike @ WtD.

In rejecting evidence contrary to ones values we’re left with an obvious question; what is it about the value that leaves it immune to reasoning?

In The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris provides such an answer to religious conviction with a fear of death. As discussed in my previous post, this clearly spills into other subjects, such as evolution and climate change, which ultimately question a given doctrine adhered to by an individual. Without meaning to, by challenging the creation myth or omnipotence of a super being (in controlling our climate), we bring the theology into question and with it, one’s immortality. It’s simply unquestionable to such people.

On the other hand, what can we make of the mantra of people like Dr David Evans and Christopher Monckton (associated and apparently shared views with The Galileo Movement)? An outline of this was spotted by Mike at WtD and highlighted in the post, A cabal of bankers and Sister Souljah: Lewandowsky versus the extreme sceptic fringe. I suggest you read through the full article, but for the sake of this post, I’ll mention a few key features.

Basically, dating back to the Middle Ages, there has been a developing class of invisible people growing rich on making money out of thin air, leading us down a path of endless debt to this secret group, siphoned from communities via taxes and interest (bared on, money imagined into existence). It gets weirder in that this invisible enemy is working to develop a single world government that one gets the impression would be oppressive.

Even involuntary commitments, such as only being able to purchase high-efficiency light globes (I suspect fluoridation of drinking water as well – especially if it’s deemed to be costing us) are taken as evidence of the build-up to this new government. Nova provides a caricature of these fears (which she obviously shares).

It reads like Hubbard’s Dianetics.

This doctrine, like its religious counterparts, is far older than the “debate” over climate change and is not really focused on the science of climate change at all (ie. it’s more about the use of fuel to power their dreams and taxes that propose to restrict climate change – the scientific evidence is just a victim to all this). It is an extremely conservative ideology, manifesting its own boogiemen to drawn the necessary conclusions. It justifies (and indeed, exaggerates) a core conservative value: individualism. As Sam Harris puts it in Free Will;

“Liberals tend to understand that a person can be lucky or unlucky in all matters relevant to his success. Conservatives, however, often make a religious fetish of individualism. Many seem to have absolutely no awareness of how fortunate one must be to succeed at anything in life, no matter how hard one works. One must be lucky to be able to work. One must be lucky to be intelligent, physically healthy, and not bankrupted in middle age by the illness of a spouse…

“And yet, living in America, one gets the distinct sense that if certain conservatives were asked why they weren’t born with club feet or orphaned before the age of five, they would not hesitate to take credit for these accomplishments.”

Now, to bring this back to the opening point; what is it about this ideology that leads one to reject compelling contrary evidence? I suspect the principles of individualism ultimately let such people down and they need a scapegoat.

To return to the Harris quote, such individuals believe beyond all doubt, that it is the individual alone that is responsible for their successes and failures in life. We of course tend to far more easily acknowledge our personal successes than the shortcomings of our actions. In the case of extreme conservatives, the only thing that ought to stand between themselves and the riches they can obtain (or deserve) is, well, themself. Why then, are they not rich/powerful/etc?

It is those who “steal” their money – the banks and governments. It is the “powerful” (which, in most cases, doesn’t seem to stretch to the CEO’s and players on Wall Street within this ideologies – rather, such people are the example they wish to emulate) to blame.

Accepting the compelling evidence against reckless resource exploitation and climate change leads to changes in behaviour necessary to ensure increased sustainability into the distant future (and look how this is portrayed in Nova’s caricature). This ignores the core principles of individualism while amplifying the fears that governments and bankers are out to take your hard-earned money.

Just as with the religiously minded who hears you challenge their doctrine when confronted with conflicting evidence, these extreme conservatives hear mindless puppets to a secret world order, threatening their way of life; their pursuit of personal wealth. It also touches on a sensitive nerve already imbedded to explain their failed attempts to emulate their heroes of success.

It would explain the venomous behaviour we encounter in such “debates” and the overall tone of works, such as Nova’s second handbook.

The only course of action, I suspect is, firstly, keep your distance. Secondly, ask questions (as mentioned in the previous post). Questions such as, “Who is behind the multigenerational “hoax” of climate change?” or “What hard evidence do you have of this secret banker society, their desire for a new world government and involvement with climate change?” or “Why have they been hiding for more than 500 years, waiting to take over – surely they could have in the great depression or at countless other times in history – why wait so long in hiding?”

Nut it out – dig into the rabbit whole. By exposing it to the light, one would hope they would start to see the many unanswerable questions to their ideology – the great lengths they go to make it fit reality. They may start to feel a little silly with the increasingly odd conclusions they have to draw (again, I direct you back to the post at WtD for a more detailed look at it).

The thing to remember is that you’re not arguing with such people over the validity of the scientific evidence regarding climate change. You’re nowhere near it. For that reason, you need to aim the conversation instead to what it really in question; how valid is the idea of hidden bankers out to take over the world?

James Delingpole Raising Cash for Australian Climate Sceptic Think Tank

James Delingpole Raising Cash for Australian Climate Sceptic Think Tank (via Desmogblog)

REPOSTED: James Delingpole is a UK columnist waging a long personal jihad against wind farms, environmentalists and climate science. A resident blogger and columnist at The Daily Telegraph, Delingpole is probably best known for being among the first mainstream columnists to declare, wrongly as it turned out… CLICK ON LINK TO READ FULL

Continue reading

Sensitive spot? Galileo Movement ban Idiot Tracker, WtD comments on that “issue”

Most interesting see here.See here for the evolving conversation on Shaping Tomorrow’s World, and my comments on perceived antisemitism.

I posted this in response to a commentator stating my claims were crude jibes wereas I believe there is a great deal of nuance.

The post contains links to resources andconcepts that may inform understanding of some parts of the sceptic community. I don’t think all skeptics are the same, and there are many, many sanded and  opinions.

Watching the Deniers at 00:47 AM on 11 September, 2012

@ Ben Pile

Having read thousands of posts, spoken to deniers, read dozens of books and watched their fillms, videos and YouTube videos I believe I have an understanding of the sceptic community and the broad spectrum of views. I do not view it as monolithic. It is diverse, with lots of voices. Agreed we are.

I believe I have a sophisticated understanding of the GM and work of Evans, and place it the category of producerism:

“Producerism sees society’s strength being “drained from both ends”—from the top by the machinations of globalized financial capital and the large, politically connected corporations that together conspire to restrict free enterprise, avoid taxes and destroy the fortunes of the honest businessman, and from the bottom by members of the underclass and illegal immigrants whose reliance on welfare and government benefits drains the strength of the nation. Consequently, nativist rhetoric is central to modern producerism…”

It has many influences, expressions and nuances. However, scholars of conspiracy culture have noted the parallels to classical antisemitism: if you want a rich history with context start here:

Every conspiracy theorist is unique, offering their own very personal interpretation of facts and events. Indeed, that is the very nature of the almost entrepreneurial style of fashioning these unique world views. Personally, I am fascinated by them and enjoy both reading and attempting to understand their work.

With all due respect, you have not answered my question. I am not suggesting all climate sceptics fall into the same category as Monckton and Evans: I’m asking your personal opinion on the materials.

It is a question for you Ben: as an obviously articulate, informed individual what is your response the claims?

I believe it is a reasonable ask of you.

Re creation/evolution you said it has no policy relevance. I suggested it does, perhaps we crossed wires. Or not.

I belive I am appreciative of the cultural divides or culture wars which impede not merely policy but education and an informed population. There is a complex interplay, and I believe I have stated the nuances cannot be under estimated.

Creationism as an idea makes a policy. It informs attempts to inject its teaching into public schools. It informs the broader objectives of conservative evangelical movements. I’m fully appreciative of its broader cultural and sociological drivers. In addition to denying climate change, the GOP Presidential candidates denied evolution. Every year in US the conservative politicians try to introduce “teach the controversy” legislation at the state level. I suspect you know this.

Do you not think policy implications flow from this? Agreed we are there are broader issues at play.

By turning science into a culture war issue, we inhibit policy that by necessity must be informed by science.

My point is, which I think are both trying to articulate, values and culture wars can distort policy debate. Is that a fair enough assessment?

Do my values inform my world view? Of course! But in order to avoid cognititive dissonance or rejecting vital knowledge that seems to challenge my values, I endeavor to practice a kind of mindfulness.

A Cabal of Bankers and Sister Souljah: Lewandowsky versus the extreme sceptic fringe

Over at Shaping tomorrow’s World, Stephan Lewandowsky has commented on how “the penny” may be dropped for the “mainstream” climate sceptics (Andrew Bolt for example): elements of the “denial” movement are extremists.

Lewandowsky notes in the article “A Cabal of Bankers and Sister Souljah:

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.

Being very familiar with the more problematical claims made by some segments of the sceptic community, I noted the following in the discussion section of the article:

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

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:’%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.

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

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:


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?

At the very least, have a look at the article by Lewandowsky.

Versiongate, inboxgate and now NIWAgate!: or when denial echo chambers implode

Climate sceptics, our operators are standing by…

Since the release of the Lewandowsky paper – “NASA faked the moon landing – Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science” –  we have witnessed a wonderful demonstration of conspiracy ideation, the very thing the paper predicts. As the paper notes:

“…Another variable that has been associated with the rejection of science is conspiratorial thinking, or conspiracist ideation, defined here as the attempt to explain a significant political or social event as a secret plot by powerful individuals or organizations…” (Lewandowsky pg. 4)

At last count we’ve seen at least three conspiracy theories explode in the face of the once-mighty denial machine.

Conspiracy #1 “inboxgate” – or when sceptics fail to check email inboxes

Graham Readfearn on Think Progress gives some the details:

Among the conspiracy theories tested, were the faking of Apollo moon landings, US government agencies plotting to assassinate Martin Luther King, Princess Diana’s death being organised by members of the British Royal family and the US military covering up the recovery of an alien spacecraft that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico.

In the paper, Lewandowsky concludes that “endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories… predicts rejection of climate science”. The research also claims a correlation between people who endorse free-market economics and the ”rejection of climate science”.

Much outrage from climate sceptics that “sceptic” blogs hadn’t been invited to participate – but in fact they had. That’s right folks, in attempting to refute a paper that implied climate sceptics had a tendency to engage in conspiracy making they responded with, er, conspiracy making:

Not content to wait, Australian skeptic blogger Simon Turnill has sent a Freedom of Information request to UWA asking for Lewandowsky’s emails. Lewandowsky told DeSmogBlog: 

So now there’s a conspiracy theory going around that I didn’t contact them. It’s a perfect, perfect illustration of conspiratorial thinking. It’s illustrative of exactly the process I was analysing. People jump to conclusions on the basis of no evidence. I would love to be able to release those emails if given permission, because it means four more people will have egg on their faces. I’m anxiously waiting the permission to release this crucial information because it helps to identify people who engage in conspiratorial thinking rather than just searching their inboxes. 

Lewandowsky revealed that two of the five skeptic blogs approached even replied to the email they were sent.

One stated “Thanks. I will take a look” and another asked “Can you tell me a bit more about the study and the research design?”

Conspiracy theory #2 “Versiongate” – in which basic methodology is not understood

Among the various conspiracies suggested by climate sceptics was the involvement of this blog. Indeed, Watts up with that? put a post in which the following claim was made:

Anthony, there was recently another survey (longer, and with a 1-5 scale) put out by Lewandowsky’s research assistant, Charles Hanich, on June 4, 2012. It seems that the link for this survey was only posted on two blogs: Watching the Deniers and Skeptical Science. Charles Hanich was also responsible for creating Lewandowsky’s 2010 survey, as mentioned in the comments here.

Anthony Watts then made the following claim:

I believe that Dr. Lewandowsky set out to show the world that through a faulty, perhaps even fraudulent, smear campaign disguised as peer reviewed science, that climate skeptics were, as Jo Nova puts it, “nutters”. Worse, peer review failed to catch any of the problems now in the open thanks to the work of climate skeptics.

Oh really?

I got a scattering of hits from WUWT, but I wasn’t at all phased by the attention from Mr. Watts & Crew.

But what of the claims being made?

Well it seems the big secret has been revealed!

It would seem Lewandowsky engaged in the shameful practice sometimes referred to as “basic methodology”.

In what I’m assuming is a tongue-in-check post titled “An update on my birth certificates” Lewandowsky writes:

I laud the stirring dedication to investigative Googling. Alas, this highly relevant detective work is far from perfect.

If I am not mistaken, I can indeed confirm that there were 4—not 3—versions of the survey (unless that was the number of my birth certificates, I am never quite sure, so many numbers to keep track of… Mr. McIntyre’s dog misplaced an email under a pastrami sandwich a mere 8.9253077595543363 days ago, and I have grown at least one tail and several new horns over the last few days, all of which are frightfully independent and hard to keep track of).


Finally this new friend from Conspirania is getting some legs.

About time, too, I was getting lonely.

Astute readers will have noted that if the Survey ID’s from above are vertically concatenated and then viewed backwards at 33 rpm, they read “Mitt Romney was born in North Korea.”

To understand the relevance of Mr Romney’s place of birth requires a secret code word. This code word, provided below, ought to be committed to memory before burning this post.

So here it is, the secret code. Read it backwards:  gnicnalabretnuoc

Translations are available in any textbook for Methodology 101.

No really.

It’s that funny.

But would you believe the laughs keep coming?

Conspiracy theory #3 “NIWAgate” – in which Jo Nova claims courts controlled by government

As noted earlier today (see also Hot-topic) the climate sceptic movement suffered a major defeat in New Zealand in its attempt to undermine the temperature records. As Gareth @ Hot Topic notes:

The attempt by NZ’s merry little band of climate cranks to have the NZ temperature record declared invalid has ended in ignominious defeat. In his ruling [PDF], handed down today, Justice Venning finds: 

The plaintiff does not succeed on any of its challenges to the three decisions of NIWA in issue. The application for judicial review is dismissed and judgment entered for the defendant. [and] The defendant is entitled to costs. 

It will be interesting to see whether the NZ Climate Science Education Trust, which was established purely to bring this action, is able to stump up to cover NIWA’s costs. If it doesn’t, the NZ taxpayer will be left to pick up the bill for this absurd bit of political grandstanding by the Climate “Science” Coalition.

Astute reader of this blog uknowispeaksense  made the following prediction:

My prediction Mike and its a no-brainer. They will either pretend it didn’t happen or claim the courts are in on the scam.

And then BAM!

Jo Nova goes and claims a conspiracy theory!

Apparently since the judges are employed by the government they “must” be following whatever directives they are given:

The courts are supposed to be independent of the government. When these two institutions are effectively working together we lose one of the major safeguards of democracy. All the more reason to fight to keep the free press, free. What else is left?

No not a conspiracy theory at all…

I’ve worked in-and-out of the legal industry for almost two decades, so I think I can say with some authority Jo Nova has no f*cking clue how the court system works.

Now I admit I’m not across the NZ legal system but I assume they share a similar common law tradition devolved from the British system like Australia.

I’m going to assume that the separation between the judicial, legislative and executive branches is going to be robust and protected by constitutional or legislative safeguards.

Unless of course…

It’s a conspiracy!

But nooooooooooooooooooo, sceptics aren’t “nutters” at all.

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