Cool it …
I wrote the following paragraph in a previous piece on fanatics and the subtle perils of prolonged contact with them –
There is also an insidious danger to this sort of interaction with them; you start to get imprinted by them. If you’re not careful, you soon start to take on the same fanatical traits that you’re fighting, which is an even worse outcome. If you look, you’ll see this has happened at some of the more combative blogs on global warming. If the point of blogging is to inform and persuade, then it’s readily apparent that such vicious gladiatorial displays will quickly alienate the average person. It’s for this reason and a lack of proper moderation, that so many once highly respected blogs, have become PR liabilities in the fight against eco-fascism.
The beef this time around is about a special edition of a rather obscure journal called Pattern Recognition in Physics which covered some different theories regarding aspects of climate, and resulted in the publisher closing it down after what appears to have been some prodding from what passes as establishment figures in climate science. The reasons given for the closure have evolved as the ripples from it have escalated to tsunami proportions.
As a strong believer in the benefits of freedom of expression, that is the real issue here and the fundamental one.
I have not read the papers in question and whether they have merit or are seriously flawed is totally irrelevant. It’s also just as irrelevant whether you agree with their conjectures or not. Closing down publications because you don’t like what’s in them is what usually comes before getting around to burning books, and as Heinrich Heine remarked, burning people is what comes after that.
The best response to such draconian censorship is Christopher Monckton’s initiative of taking over publication of the journal. He is to be commended for such direct and courageous action. Whether the journal thrives or not is an imponderable but if the ideas contained within it are likely to cause similar furores, I say good. It’s about time controversial ideas came in from the cold and back into serious science journals. Get some articles in from people like Swiss patent clerks with nothing but an average teaching qualification. Who knows, I might even consider subscribing to a science periodical again.
As a blogger, I made a decision right from the word go to only cover the political, infowar, economic and human cost of what can only be described as the cult of global warming. The critiques of the underlying science are well catered for by other blogs. As far as I’m concerned, that science was debagged years ago and that was done despite the chronic withholding of data, methods or indeed any cooperation. The work the two Macs did on deconstructing Mann’s hockey stick paper gave a whole new meaning to the words forensic science. When any scientist in any field does everything in their power to prevent replication of their research, the inescapable conclusion to be drawn is that they’re up to no good.
In a certain sense, I don’t give a damn about the science because that’s a battle we’ve already won but there’s a new liability attached to reaching that position. The average person doesn’t understand science, so they operate on the traditional basis of picking out which knowledgeable people to trust. They look at the person and make a judgement of them rather than the science. We’ve come a long way in the last five years and with the emerging breakthrough into the mainstream media of what used to be viewed as sceptical and contrary ideas, we’ve made real progress.
What I really do give a damn about is a bunch of people, who whether they like it or not, now have a leadership responsibility, and have decided to squander it by indulging in a not too subtle hissy fit of handbagging each other all over the blogosphere. We’ve all disgraced ourselves occasionally and to paraphrase Peter Clemenza, these things have to happen once in a while if only to get rid of the bad blood, but when you see creatures like William Connolly joining in on one side, you know it’s gone too far. Much too far.
As a person who writes blogs and leaves comments on other people’s blogs, I understand only too well how difficult that can be when you disagree, but I do try to restrain my first impulses in both terms of my intent and most especially how it’s expressed. It’s all too easy to write something you think as being superficially innocuous but which has a bigger emotional impact on the recipient than you ever intended. I dropped a comment on this debate at Anthony’s site, which though it disagreed with some aspects of his piece, was still civil and I hope lucid.
It’s neither my place or within my capabilities to act as some sort of class monitor of unruly school children nor to stand in judgement of various competing scientific theories, but I definitely have the right to voice my concerns when I see people engaging in behaviour which is likely to undermine the time and effort I’ve put into fighting what I consider to be eco-fascism. I put my time in, a lot of it, and am not going to stand mutely by when all that work is being indirectly devalued by influences outside of my control. Again, quoting from the same article –
I credit the common man with having common sense and while they may not be too bothered or interested in the latest subtle arguments, they can definitely spot a nutter, so it’s up to you to expose the fanatic as one. If you can do that, you’ve not only nullified the fanatic but you’ve also discredited whatever policies they’re advocating.
What’s at risk here is not your pet science theory. It’s the growing trust in you. If we allow ourselves the luxury of habitually throwing vicious internecine temper tantrums whenever we like, we’ll get tagged as squabbling nutters by the ordinary person, and then it’s back to the scientific fringe you all go, and I for one refuse to accompany you there.
Think about it carefully the next time, it’s your choice.
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