Saturday, September 6, 2014

The ugly denier: a real, clear and present danger

Denialism is ugly. At its heart is an abdication of responsibility. Denialism goes hand in hand with bigotry and worse. Today there's an example of that at WUWT.

Anthony Watts claims (archived here) that John Kerry is mentally ill because of a speech he gave at a ceremony "in Honor of Special Representative to Muslim Communities Shaarik Zafar". It is part of the role of the Secretary of State to give speeches at ceremonies like this. It is also part of their role to reach out and speak out in times of crisis and difficulty. In particular, to remind everyone that that people of all faiths and no faith can live in harmony, despite what is happening elsewhere in the world. You can read the speech here.

John Kerry doesn't avoid reference to the ugly events by a radical political group that pretends to be Islamic. He faces it head on. He also makes the point that those actions are not the face of Islam.

Anthony Watts on the other hand is a muckraker who not only wants to destroy the planet by preventing any action to mitigate global warming, he now comes out as a warmonger. An ugly bigot inciting hatred. He's shown his sociopathic tendencies before in other ways. Now he's combining his determination to destroy the planet by warming with his desire to destroy the planet by inciting hatred of Muslims.

I don't know if all climate science deniers are bigots, racist and sexist or not. Probably not. But evidence suggests that they are more likely to be so than the general population.

Let me illustrate. Anthony Watts under a headline: "Is John Kerry mentally ill? ‘Scriptures Commands America To Protect Muslims From Global Warming ‘, quoted this part of the speech in support of his claim that John Kerry is mentally ill:
Our faiths are inextricably linked on any number of things that we must confront and deal with in policy concepts today. Our faiths are inextricably linked on the environment. For many of us, respect for God’s creation also translates into a duty to protect and sustain his first creation, Earth, the planet,
Confronting climate change is, in the long run, one of the greatest challenges that we face, and you can see this duty or responsibility laid out in Scriptures clearly, beginning in Genesis. And Muslim-majority countries are among the most vulnerable. Our response to this challenge ought to be rooted in a sense of stewardship of Earth, and for me and for many of us here today, that responsibility comes from God.

Anthony followed it up by writing this, to stir up the bigotry and lynch mob mentality of his rabble:
I do hope Mr. Kerry travels to the heart of an ISIS stronghold to deliver this message personally. Maybe then he’ll gain a sense of priority and perhaps, some sanity when he realizes his epic mistake. 

What Anthony chose not to quote was any of the rest of the speech. For example, this was what immediately followed the above:
We also know that a cadre of extremists – nihilists, people like ISIL – are just waiting to seduce these people into accepting the dead end. And when people don’t have a job, when they can’t get an education, when their voices are silenced by draconian laws or by violence or oppression, we’ve all witnessed the instability that follows from that, from the lack of dignity and respect for the human person. To meet the demands of these populations for dignity and opportunity, frankly, requires new and creative partnerships. That’s why Shaun is here. That’s why we’re here today. We need to reach beyond government to include religious leaders and faith communities, entrepreneurs, civil society groups, all of them working together to invest in a future that embraces tolerance and understanding, and yes, even love.

Anthony Watts is very lucky he lives in a democracy where he probably won't be punished for inciting hatred like he has. He has the freedom to belong to a cadre of WUWT extemists, nihilists, deniers. He is free to seduce his followers into accepting a dead end. He doesn't have the excuse of not being able to get an education. His voice is not silenced by draconian laws or by violence or by oppression. Anthony Watts has no excuse for his lack of dignity, for inciting hatred. Anthony Watts doesn't want to reach out or work together with others to make the world a better place. He is free to do all this, just as I am free to be disgusted by his behaviour.

Usually there is something to ridicule at WUWT.  This WUWT article is beyond ridicule. It is a reminder that deniers at WUWT aren't just depressingly ugly, they are a real, clear and present danger.


  1. Perhaps WUWT serves as a cathartic safety valve for hostile impulses? Hard to say if the site inflames or pacifies; I guess it depends on the individual. My general term for WUWT and other sites of its kind is "anger factory" but maybe it's both a factory and a disposal site rolled into one.
    Anyway, Watts is indeed a mess. Such a mental tangle, really.

  2. Don't think so, Doug. I think the experience of participating there is cathartic in the moment, but then they want more. Such echo chambers seem essential for the maintenance and promotion of wingnut politics.

  3. Yeah, Steve, hence "anger factory." The product is a seemingly inexhaustible stream of heated gibberish spewed over newspaper comment facilities, etc. On balance I agree that manufacture and export is the objective; how can I argue with the evidence?

  4. Catharsis involves a purging and release but the likes of Watts hug their hatred and contempts close. They never feel more alive than when they're venting in like-minded company.

    They love ISIL because they can use it to characterise way over a billion people at once as despicable. The stink of cattle-wagons and solutions is overwhelming.

    Fortunately these people are actually few, in both cases. Unfortunately I know too much about the 20's and 30's to view Europe now without trepidation.

  5. "I don't know if all climate science deniers are bigots, racist and sexist or not. Probably not. But evidence suggests that they are more likely to be so than the general population."

    The reverse might be true: All racists are deniers.

    The liberals tell them that global warming will hit the poor in Africa the worst. What is better than that. Being a racist is no longer popular in public, they are forced to accept blacks as humans nowadays, but you can always claim not to believe in climate science and delay mitigation as long as possible. Do not expect to be able to convince a racist with arguments; they know they are wrong; they do not care.

    To kill blacks without any effort with full impunity, all you have to do is drive, is there anything better. Just drive, drive, drive and life in a badly isolated house.

    Who cares that also whites will suffer. It is America first, not America affluent. The Germans also suffered much.

  6. Rebecca Nichol (@RebeccaNichol1): "He must be either trying to manipulate Christians or make them look stupid. Plus the Bible never says anything about being stewards of creation, quite the opposite." (my bold, wow)

    She is not the only one at WUWT that clearly does not like it that their faith tells them to do something about climate change. Nearly all the Christian Churches in the world agree on that, if I may again use these comments to promote a post of mine.

    Quite a number reveal themselves as being against religion. Is this a group the Republican party wants to associate themselves with?

    1. Yes Victor, ....."Nearly all the Christian Churches in the world agree on that," That would especially apply to the Catholic the Pope has this "science advisor", Ramanathan (SOD's favourite) feeding your AGW bullshit into his shell-like.

    2. Isn't that terrible, Mack? The Pope listening to people who actually know what they are talking about. The horror! Surely he should listen to people like Mack, who still believes the earth is flat, a position even the Catholic Church never held (although some of its members did).

    3. Plus, the argument of Rebecca Nichol is not that AGW is bullshit, but that we should not care about the creation. that is completely independent of any science on climate change. Most Christian Churches would reject that notion.

      Only some extremist US Christians have such views. If they go to heaven, everyone is welcome.

  7. Nice catch , He has the freedom to belong to a cadre of WUWT extemists, nihilists, deniers.

    I would add narcissists to this list.

    My big beef with them, they all seem to have been deeply scarred sometime around the 8th grade. It somehow froze their emotional development. And they have been whining ever since, that they couldn't get a date for the prom.
    Every comment from them is a time warp back to Jr. High School.

  8. "I don't know if all climate science deniers are bigots, racist and sexist or not. "Probably not. But evidence suggests that they are more likely to be so than the general population"

    I am a denier and white, growing up in Detroit. My daughter married a black man and we have 3 magnificent grandchildren. We all live within 3 miles in the state of Indiana.

    My Dad taught me to respect all people, regardless of race, gender or political affiliation. He couldn't have known that views on climate change would influence how some people feel about each other but this awesome man(who will be having his 89th birthday in a week=hooray) raised me to see the world through the eyes of others............and to try to make the world a better place.

    1. MM - there is a link on the sidebar to Professor Robert Altmeyer's "The Authoritarians" - it's a free e-book that details decades of research.

      "Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians (for insight into behavioural traits common to climate science deniers as well as bigots (in regard to sexism, homophobia, racism etc))"

    2. Bear in mind that not all climate science deniers can be categorised as Bob Altemeyer describes. I liken his "right wing authoritarians" to the 8% Dismissives.

      (The other day I looked back in time at the WUWT articles, there has been a change over the years, with him getting nuttier year by year. WUWT now is more extremist than it was in the early days. Anthony Watts seems to have settled on the bottom of the heap as his target audience these days. It wasn't always so. I think he liked the attention he got from the nutters when the CRU emails were stolen. The equivalent of Judith Curry's "epiphany", when she decided she could get the attention she craved only if she became a disinformer.)

  9. Meteormike, you sound like a wonderful person.

    There are many who read these threads who understand the climate change issue extremely well and who might be able and willing to help you understand why deeply knowledgable people think this will become a serious problem.

    Is there anything you'd like to ask us? All the best -- p

    1. Agree, palindrom, that MM is probably a very nice person. However, just so comments here don't go off topic, if he or anyone has questions, they are very welcome, but will need to be posted on a relevant article. There's a search box at the top.

      (Meteormike has given his opinion at length about various aspects of climate, in comments to other articles here.)

  10. It gets worse, if possible. Some (unpublished) reaction is not unlike the reaction of HotCopper's mods to my pointing out gross sexist comments by others. (In the warped mind of extreme sexists, a person is being sexist if they point out where sexism occurs.)

    According to upside down "denier" logic, I am the one "inciting hatred" because I pick holes in pseudo-science and write about the worst excesses of science deniers.

    This is more evidence (if you need it) of the feeling of kinship between some science deniers. They can put aside their myriad differences and rise up as one when they are criticised. For some of them they feel an extremely strong bond with each other, which makes them even more likely, when their world view is criticised, to form the sort of cyber-lynch mobs we've seen at WUWT.

    1. I think history shows that a bond of hatred and contempt for some identified 'other' is the easiest to create. It requires no emotional complexity or 'empathy', which is difficult. The general lack of social subtlety and maturity in the AGW denier scene is more than obvious to any adult, not to mention many children.

      It's important to these people that they be embattled, and by implication heroic; it's all for one when the enemy attacks. It's no time for bickering.

      A prominent exception is Christopher Monckton, but then he is exceptional in so many ways.

    2. Bumped into this site via Twitter-google-acronym-search chain of events. I'd responded to a rabid denier on Twitter & gotten... interesting replies from her cohorts. ANYHOO, just felt like replying this post-- because here in the future, Summer 2015, we all witness the astonishingly POPULAR train-wreck/abomination that is Donald Trump, Presidential Candidate (oxymoron? Sign of last-days? Jon Stewart's going-away present? Pick two). It was impossible to miss DT's [apt acronym] "othering"/ scapegoating in his initial moment of vomiting forth from the sea of idiocy to throw his hair-hat in the ring. The demonizing of Mexican immigrants, the joyous seizing of a tragic murder as proof of an epidemic, etc... Did he read some Machiavellian playbook or Nazi handbook, or did he just fall into the hate-mongering MO from a natural bent for that sort of thing? Hell, he's even, ferChrissake, martyrishly vilifying Macy's, Univision, [the list could go on & on & I noticed he hasn't attacked NASCAR, too beloved of his "fan-base no doubt!] etc. as being a kind of enemy for his herds to rally against via boycott and snipes, etc. All those companies who severed ties with him are, he brays, "Politically Correct!!" [fie!] and spineless weaklings. But the scapegoating of Mexicans/ immigrants is classic. Scary. Makes me want to capitulate to Godwin's Law. And his "followers"' sheeplike waves of agreement & fervent fear & territoriality is, to me, SHOCKING. Have we all been quietly, in our sleep, teleported to the center of a Kurt Vonnegut novel? Or Joseph Heller? Or have I just been on Twitter too much? Well, not the latter; his poll numbers are actually real. Gack.

      Anyway, just felt like commenting, or perhaps "rambling" is a better word. I should cook now. Unedited. Thank you for list'nin.

  11. Kevin,
    Thanks for the link. Fascinating and worth the time to read.

  12. "You're a loonie" - Graham Chapman as King Arthur; Monty Python's Holy Grail ttps://


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