Saturday, December 3, 2016

Beguiling Words

The propaganda machine of the extreme right has scored a double hit, it would seem. Not only do they and their racist brethren have Breibart-founder Steve Bannon warmly ensconced in the White House as chief strategist and Senior Counselor to Donald Trump (whether he will also be keeping the president's seat warm in the Oval office in what are certain to be frequent presidential absences is anyone's guess), but many in Congress now appear to be conduits for Breitbart propaganda.

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, headed by Republican Lamar Smith, has a new weapon in its attack on climate science: Breibart 'science':

The content of this tweet is the same sort of thing you’d get if you fed a bull 20 kilos of Ex-Lax and stood behind it for a while. Global warming, of course, is real. The Breitbart article in question is written by James Delingpole, a flat-out climate change denier who has a history of writing grossly misleading articles about global warming. He gets this information from yet another climate change denier, David Rose, who wrote an article for the execrable Daily Mail claiming that global temperatures have dropped by an entire degree Celsius since this summer. Contrary to what the Daily Mail might have to say, global temperature is indeed increasing.

In a nutshell, Rose is guilty of extreme cherry-picking. He looked at a single temperature data set from a specific layer of the Earth’s atmosphere and only used measurements over land. And to make matters worse, he only used data going back to 1998, a big no-no: That year was unusually warm, so starting there falsely makes it look like temperatures haven’t risen much.

He also is chasing local fluctuations and ignoring the decadeslong trend. And that trend is up. The Earth is heating up. If you want more details, Tamino at Open Mind debunks Rose’s claims quite thoroughly.
Somehow, I doubt that the propaganda machine in Washington is going to alter too many people's thinking. The true believers of climate denialism will dismiss the critiques, and those who trust the scientific data will be unmoved by such blatant attempts at manipulation.

But what it does show is that the need for critical thinking is greater now than it ever was. In what I hope will be my next post, I will discuss some of the ways one can vet information for its veracity or falseness.


  1. Whether of not P. T Barnum said it, Lorne, it's true. A sucker is born every minute.

    1. No matter what era, there never seems to be a shortage of them, Owen.

  2. Lorne, I thought that our last, best chance on climate change was the Trudeau government. In just one year he's approved three climate wreckers, all of them in my provincial backyard, - the Woodfibre LNG plant, the Site C dam and, now, the Kinder-Morgan line into Burnaby. Add to this his refusal to clean up the blatantly "captured" National Energy Board; his unwillingness to defend Canadians against C-51; the sale of masses of armoured death wagons to the greatest state sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East and birthplace of the brutally extremist strain of Sunni Islam whose minions are wreaking havoc in Syria and Yemen; while placing his government above the law in the assisted dying legislation; and whose government consigns young Canadians to a life of "job churn" while the governor of the Bank of Canada tells us that the good jobs aren't coming back and our future lies in services, competing with India for outsourced IT work or taking jobs as tour guides, restaurant servers and chambermaids for the tourism industry. Supporting the job wrecking TPP by telling us that, bad as it is, it'll go worse for us if we don't sign on. Justin has succeeded in expunging any trace of liberalism from the Liberal Party. The party of Justin Trudeau is not the party of Trudeau, Pearson, St. Laurent and Laurier.

    I never expected anything good out of Trump just as I expected little good from Stephen Harper. I just didn't know Justin Trudeau would be cast from the same mold.

    Having taken my leave during the Ignatieff years, I do wonder how the Liberal faithful today can look at Justin and not puke, just a little.

    1. All excellent points, Mound. I am starting to conclude that Trudeau is indeed quite vapid, and really believes that empty words mean something. If you take a look at his interview with the Toronto Star editorial board, I think you will see this amply demonstrated:

      While he talks about the American backlash from those left out of economic growth, he seems totally oblivious to the contradiction inherent in his slavish pursuit of more free trade and hence more globalization.

  3. What I meant to add was that sure, America and the world are going to have woe aplenty from Trump but we've got our own plateful here at home.