Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Google Conspiracy - and a Google search engine customised for science deniers

Sou | 2:10 AM Go to the first of 26 comments. Add a comment
A guest blogger, Ari Halperin, at WUWT has decided to create a new search tool especially for science deniers (archived here).  Ari behaves like a full-blown conspiracy theorist, which is par for the course at WUWT. He has all the right words on his blog "CO2 is plant food" mixed in with some that I haven't seen before.

Musicologists impersonating climate scientists

Ari says that climate scientists are imposters. They aren't really scientists, they are instead "journalists, historians, musicologists, copywriters, and professional activists".

He has written:
The majority of the media hugging “climate change scientists” are impostors. Some of them were recruited from among green activists and obscure PhDs by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – a UN organization, where a vote by North Korea or Zimbabwe weighs the same as a vote by the US. After such recruitment and the delivery of expected results, the careers of these “scientists” have skyrocketed. Some other “climate scientists” are simply journalists, historians, musicologists, copywriters, and professional activists, talking about science.
I wonder which career scientists he has in mind when he wrote that? Do their employers know that they employed a bunch of musicologists and copywriters who fudged their CVs and faked their academic quals?

The Google conspiracy

Ari's one of the "off the planet" conspiracy theorists who are a dime a dozen at WUWT. The only reason I'm writing this article is because I noticed something odd. Ari has accused Google of "foul play" because it gives a low page rank to WUWT. He's also complained loud and long that Google searches don't give prominence to anti-science websites. He wrote on his own blog how:
Using Google or other general search engines to find reliable information on anything related to climate change has become almost impossible, because the search results are dominated by alarmist nonsense. I estimate that the alarmist propaganda machine receives tens of billions dollars annually. Our tax money at work! (As well as our pension savings, tuition payments, utility fees, etc.)
He is quite put out that the Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, accepts climate science, and wrote at WUWT:
Usually, I do not give much weight to claims that Google Search unfairly discriminates against X or Y. These complaints sound like sour grapes, and Google has too much to lose and too little to gain from such actions. But the case of climate change seems totally different. Google’s chairman, Eric Schmidt, talks like a fanatical alarmist. He really believes that the orthodox alarmist position is the scientific truth. In 2014, he said: “… we should make decisions in politics based on facts. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people–they’re just, they’re just literally lying” (as quoted by Paul Driessen and Chris Skates) [1]. 
It's time I got to the point, isn't it. It's not Ari's horror that most people accept science that's odd. It's this: for all of Ari's antipathy towards Google, he doesn't dislike them so much that he will avoid their products. When he put up his search page, guess what search engine he used. Yep - it's a Google search bar, customised to only search his favoured denialist blogs.

Guess who got trapped in the denier filter

One more thing - in among all the expected conspiracy climate blogs, if you use Ari's denier search engine, you'll find links to the blogs of Judith Curry and Roy Spencer. I expect you expected that :)

From the WUWT comments

There aren't a lot of comments yet. However already some conspiracy ideation has emerged.

Mark from the Midwest says it all boils down to money. (Deniers are money mad, I've found.)
September 9, 2015 at 7:54 am
Google doesn’t really “cook” the rankings, the process is pretty transparent, anyone with deep pockets can buy a good search position. The reality of Google’s own revenue generation process is that a large plurality of search users know that the pages that are returned at the top of the list are biased, and/or blatantly commercial. I’ve seen a lot more depth in the mid rankings in the number of pages that either lean away from the hardcore AGW meme, or are walk-backs. So I really see this as a bad situation that is improving rather than a dire conspiracy that’s too big to overcome.

MCourtney wonders if it's politics, a hack or corruption:
September 9, 2015 at 7:58 am
It’s true. Search Google for “climate change sceptics”.
And the world’s most viewed site on global warming and climate change, which has won best science blog numerous times, comes out on page three. It should be far higher up the list.
There’s something wrong with Google’s algorithm here.
But instead of just pointing out that Google is broken, why not email them directly and ask what’s happened?
It may be politicisation of Google’s search results by a policy of Google themselves.
Or they may have been hacked or corrupted by a jaded employee. 


  1. I'm guessing they want real Flat Earther blogs when searching Flat Earth theory instead of sites pointing out the Earth is round? Or real Moon Landing Hoax sites coming to the top? How about aether vs. special relativity (I know TallBloke believes in aether)? Truther? Hard to keep up with all the conspiracies out there.

    Or...we just help people find facts.

  2. Here is the definitive list of the frauds in climatology. You might recognize a few names on it. I'm sure it will drive the Wutters nuts:


  3. Well, its this failure to gain a public profile that the OAS was set up to address. But there doesn't seem to be much published by that august organisation for search engines to link to.

    1. There you go: I googled on "I got nothing for my subscription" and the OAS didn't come up in the first few pages.

    2. I just googled OAS and discovered a whole bunch of things that it can stand for. Eight pages in, no signs of Watts.

    3. The example issue of the journal is an empty WordPress blog. Whoppee!
      And of course, his membership/fundraising drive has been overwhelmingly successful:


    4. That fundraising bar graph is truly pitiful! You'd almost think that deniers weren't overly keen on putting their money where their mouths are...

  4. The reality of Google’s own revenue generation process is that a large plurality of search users know that the pages that are returned at the top of the list are biased, and/or blatantly commercial

    Well, yes. That's why they've got the little logo that says "Ad" next to them. As opposed to the rest of the hits, which don't.

    1. Yeah, that was a 'spurt the coffee on the keyboard' moment. Wonder if he's figured out the origin of those linky things with pictures that come up in the right-hand side-bar?

  5. Not surprisingly, using Mr Halperin's search engine for non-climate change related issues exclusively gives results which claim that vaccines are bad, evolution is not true and that WMD were found in Iraq.

    Like Conservapedia, deniers, who are more often than not right wing (extremely right wing in the rest of the world outside the US), ignore reality when it goes against their pre-established opinions and create their very own Alternative Universe.

  6. Because the echo chamber wasn't small enough already?

  7. These people are too stupid to realize why search engine ranking is being given to climate change “alarmists” websites. a) it’s because there are far more websites that actually DO cover climate change; b) they’re all being read far more then the moronic websites such as WUWT; c) rankings are based on site activity with popular sites ranking higher.

    These morons are getting mighty desperate to continue with their connedspiracy bullshit. Creating the own search engine with a clear bias towards their warped views is good evidence of yet another act of desperation.

    As a long time user / web developer working with Google for many, many years (since their beginning), I’ve come to know intimately what it takes to get “ranked” well. There are also many very good websites that will tell you exactly how to do it. My own site was ranked on page 1 for a long time (under “survival food”) until I closed the business for several months. But I’m back on page 2 already with no complaints.

    Getting high ranking is relatively easy. You need relevant content, popularity and updates. It’s no big secret. And I’ve never paid for Google positions. Adwords are something different (paid advertising) which I found to be more of a waste of money then anything else. These days I do not pay for any advertising to anyone and still get decent rankings.

    Intelligent responsible people who deny climate science would simply admit it when they’ve been proven wrong, but you won’t find that amongst this idiotic crowd of fools and morons. So they’ll keep dreaming up more ridiculous claims in ever-increasing attempts to be noticed and be ‘proven right’. None of us need to worry about these clowns unless they start making more threats, which I do expect them to do eventually.

  8. WUWT should be delighted however that they come up number 6 in search for "climate denier websites"

    1. Of course the first site on that list is from Oklahomans for Science Education, a pro-science group. It is a helpful list which falls into the "know thine enemy" category!

    2. And of the first 10, only 3 are really denial websites!

  9. A simple audit:

    "record hot" site:wattsupwiththat.com
    About 144 hits

    "record warm" site:wattsupwiththat.com
    About 326 hits

    "record cold" site:wattsupwiththat.com
    Over 1,000 hits

    Whats up with that?

    Am reminded of the time Watts used the ngrams analytic function at Google to 'prove' that the word 'denier' meant holocaust denier 'cos use of the word peaked in WW2 and just after….

    Then someone pointed out this also corresponded with the introduction of nylon stockings. ROFL.

    Google is very smart. Watts, not so much.

  10. Sort of OT, but sort of apt: Murdoch just acquired National Geographic.

    As if that wasn't awful enough a prospect, IIRC NG acquired ScienceBlogs - think Stoat, Tim Lambert, Greg Laden - in 2011.

    Therefore, one assumes, Murdoch now owns ScienceBlogs.

    1. There's really no need for conspiracy theories when you've got Murdoch in plain sight.

    2. Interestingly, Greg Laden has this to say:

      Murdoch did not acquire, as in buy or own, NG. Rather, the long term relationship between NGS and FOX (the two together have produced most of the NGS documentaries as a partnership for many years now) has been extended to the magazine and some other assets. I have no idea what the new relationship means to the magazine. I suspect little. FOX owns and produces a lot of stuff, only some of which includes the highly politically charged crap we associate (justifiable) with FOX.

      I have heard that a climate change related documentary in in the works now. That will be an interesting test of the whole thing.

      This has nothing to do with scienceblogs. Scienceblogs.com has always had about the most editorial independence of any similar network of bloggers, and as far as I know that continues. Most other networks are highly coordinated with a central authority determining what happens and does not happen, or follow a standard model with typical editorial control or direction, or has no model but occasionally bloggers get slapped or tossed out having had personal discretion up to that moment.

      Frankly, I doubt Fox ultimately owning ScienceBlogs is going to make much difference at ground level - hell, Murdoch owns all our local suburban Messenger newspapers here in Adelaide, too, and editorial doesn't come across like The Australian (a libertarian thinktank in-house journal that by historical accident is the national daily.)

      It is, though, quite an irony.

      However, NG is a trusted flagship that could be used to deploy 'balance' into the climate debate, and push it into similarly suburban homes across the globe. That is a worry. But, at the same time, to acquire NG and then taint the brand would be crazy. Let's hope everyone there realizes this, and they stick to their guns and their commitment to the science...

  11. So, in a WUWT post absolutely loaded with conspiracy theories, Ari Halperin has put together a tool based on the very source he accuses of conspiracies, all so that deniers can look even deeper into their navel lint while ignoring widely disseminated facts.

    Same old, same old. Sigh.

    As I noted on a recent JoNova thread - Ignoring the evidence doesn't invalidate it.

  12. Only in Deniersville should "opinion" about climate science (which is what you get most of the time at WUWT and other denier blogs) be considered more important than the actual scientific research.

  13. Every time I come to this thread to read the comments there is an advertisement for Google just above the heading Google Conspiracy. This is very spooky!

    I am starting to feel like there is a conspiracy somewhere! Bert

  14. A search engine which tells you only what you want to hear.☺

    Every denier, conspiracy theorist and general weirdo will want one.

  15. A search engine which tells you only what you want to hear.☺

    Every denier, conspiracy theorist and general weirdo will want one.

  16. So WUWT is pushing a list of mitigation sceptics. Didn't we see a big fuss only a few months ago about a scientific article make a "list" of mitigation sceptics?

    Talk about double standards.


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