Gadget by The Blog Doctor.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Post-truth politics

Climate science going back almost two hundred years makes it clear that:
  • the planet is warming
  • the major cause of the warming is very likely (better than 90%) human activities, and,
  • the warming is dangerous.

This is Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). There are multiple lines of evidence supporting AGW. See this post for examples of this evidence.

Consequently it is not a surprise that virtually all scientific organizations support the AGW view. See this post for the evidence of the AGW consensus.

The only response for those who are desperate to cast doubt on the science is conspiracy theorizing. Recently I came across an example of this while in conversation with an acquaintance. I made the point that the Australian Academy of Science, Australia's peak science organiaation supports AGW; that the CSIRO, Australia's peak science research body, supports AGW; and, that the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia's main atmospheric research body, supports AGW. The immediate answer that I received was "but those are corrupt organizations."

It is hardly a surprise then that when emails were stolen from the Climate Research Unit, at the University of East Anglia, the contents of the emails were scrutinized for anything that could be distorted to indicate mendacity on the part of the scientists.

The video below describes some of the deceit by those who would cast doubt on the science. (Although there are many examples like this video that debunks the "skeptic" arguments, this one is interesting as it included Dr Muller, of Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project.)

When five official inquiries demonstrated that the claims of the "skeptics" were baseless, the "skeptics" did not reconsider their positions, instead they just enlarged the conspiracy to include "the inquiries" as well as "the scientists". Here is an example of this conspiracies wrapped up in conspiracies thinking from Australia's premier climate denier.

This conspiracy theorizing is evident in more areas than climate science. Another example are the claims of "birthers" in the US. The video below provides some interesting discussion of conspiracy theories, emphasising that those who hold such views are impervious to truth.

How has modern politics came to this amazing pass where large sections of the electorates in advanced countries believe demonstrable nonsense. David Roberts has investigated this issue in an article called, Policy in the Age of Post Truth Politics. His conclusion is:

But the crucial fact of post-truth politics is that there are no more referees. There are only players.

Roberts agrees with Jonathan Kay (in the video above) that thanks to the Internet people can intellectually live in a bubble of like minded people, who reinforce their beliefs. In this environment crazy, un-factual ideas are not challenged.

There are problems in the main stream media as well, involving the way journalists describe the political process. Most people receive their information about issues and current events from journalists, but it seems that journalists are more interested in describing politics - the day to day machinations of politicians - rather explaining and discussing policy. Lindsay Tanner, Australia's Finance Minister before his retirement, has written a book that discusses these issues. The book has not been formally released yet but here is a post covers the issues well.

If the crazies are immune to reason and evidence then maybe all we can do is laugh at them. President Obama did this brilliantly at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner recently:

No comments: