Calling for your opponents in a debate to be jailed is idiotic. It drives away all but the most fanatical of supporters, and it makes everyone else shake their head or laugh at you. Amazingly, that’s not the dumbest thing about this recent article.
The dumbest thing about the article is the people defending it. For example, blogger AndThenTheresPhysics (Anders) wrote a post about it saying:
The article has various people – Anthony Watts, Jo Nova, Christopher Monckton and James Delingpole, to name a few – up in arms. My understanding, though, is that he’s not arguing that those who believe that climate change is not anthropogenic, or who publish papers diminishing anthropogenic influences, should be regarded as criminally negligent. He’s referring to those who are knowingly presenting misinformation for political or financial gain.
It’s my understanding that this is essentially what Lawrence Torcello is suggesting in his article in The Conversation and, if so, I find it hard that anyone can actually disagree. Of course, having been involved in this contentious topic for a while now, I’m sure there will be many who will find reasons to do so.
Anders is right about one thing, people “will find reasons to” disagree with his interpretation. Or at least, they’ll find one reason, “I can read.” Before I get to that though, I have to laugh at this excerpt from the first paragraph of the article in question:
When it comes to global warming, much of the public remains in denial about a set of facts that the majority of scientists clearly agree on. With such high stakes, an organised campaign funding misinformation ought to be considered criminally negligent.
Global warming skeptics are often painted as conspiracy theorists, with Anders doing so on the very same page of his post. I find that remarkable given this article Anders defends is claiming there’s a conspiracy to prevent actions from being taken to combat global warming.
But that’s a sideshow for another day. What’s more remarkable is Anders argues the article referred only to people who “knowingly presenting misinformation for political or financial gain.” People who look in a dictionary will see misinformation is incorrect information. Disinformation is incorrect information one knows to be incorrect.
The article Anders defends clearly refers to misinformation (“an organised campaign funding misinformation”). Anders clearly refers to disinformation (“knowingly presenting misinformation”). Based upon this “understanding,” Anders finds it hard to understand why anyone would disagree with him. He apparently thinks people should read this:
We have good reason to consider the funding of climate denial to be criminally and morally negligent. The charge of criminal and moral negligence ought to extend to all activities of the climate deniers who receive funding as part of a sustained campaign to undermine the public’s understanding of scientific consensus.
As only referring to people who spread disinformation. That would require “all… climate deniers who receive funding” from this supposed campaign know what they’re saying is false. That’s an absurd idea. If there is a disinformation campaign, it’s natural people at least some being paid by it will be fooled by it. People who genuinely believe what they say to be true cannot be “knowingly presenting misinformation.”
The only way to sustain Anders’s interpretation of this article is to not read the article.
On an unrelated note, I don’t think Anders quite gets the humor of his comment here:
I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I would guess that noone who’s complained about Gingerbaker’s comment is going to complain about jeremyp99′s comment or about this comment. Of course, happy to be proven wrong.
As Anders knows, jeremyp99’s comment was deleted. It’s unlikely anyone is going to complain about a comment they can’t see. The reality is once you start deleting comments capriciously, you have no room to criticize what people comment on.
And for those who don’t know, Anders has banned me. For behavior far tamer than that of his commenters on this post or the behavior of the article he defends. I find that amusing.