Over the past three years in providing a small effort to countering disinformation, a fairly robust feature has emerged from my observations of disinformers, both from direct observations and in the literature regarding their nature. The fundamental cognitive dissonance provides green pastures for a healthy, if not gluttonous hypocrisy.
I have discussed in one form or another patterns where, the accuser is in fact guilty of the accusation themselves.
The most laughable being that evolution is a religion in itself. Why is it supposed a religion? That’s because advocates are unflinching in their compulsion to its accuracy at explaining speciation and diversity; they will not give credence to an alternate explanation (one without real world evidence testable via critical methodology, mind you) – the idea of intelligent design… A religious idea. It is facetious to assume both rely on the same level of investigation and credible evidence so why should they be treated equal? Why should an unflinching promotion of hard evidence be subjected to such erroneous labels by adherents of a discredited hypothesis?
We have been too generous to many such adherents over the decades that promote flawed hypotheses and acted as though we were on the back-foot when charged by their hypocritical claims.
For instance, depending on his audience, Monckton can either focus on a warped perception of the evidence or more so on an all-out attack on reality, with strange and sinister plots of hidden socialists, Nazis and a UN run one world government. How on Earth did such a character entertain any serious reflection in any corner? His conspiracies are even enough to make Agents Mulder and Scully face palm!
His breed of disinformation is akin to the main players of Oreskes and Conway (2010); phobic of oppressive socialism that warps information and thus encourages broad scale naivety in the face of disparity, a loss of freedom and injustice to favour a few and yet their actions are exactly the same. They are disinformers whom propagate their ideas as though they were credible to the wider community (rather than testing them within relevant objective expert communities) which in turn stimulates paralysis on important issues, favouring a privileged few.
They are their own demons.
Of course, like their creationism counterparts, they too accuse their opponents of dogmatic devotion when their opponents will not afford weight to untested (or tested and proven wrong) hypotheses offered by the disinformers. The reply ought to be the same again.
Cognitive dissonance is key for many such individuals as it provides the mechanisms to maintain an idea, ideology and world view free from critical reflection. Rather than see the lapses mentioned above, they can even refute the existence of qualified experts with notions of corruption; “X” is true and scientists keep the fact out of their literature because they are elitists / socialists / etc.
You cannot reasonably debate with such an argument because it starts with a premise that requires a leap of faith. They assume a conspiracy without adequate credibility. This is why I continually draw back to the amazing absence of SourchWatch styled websites that expose such a corruption within the scientific community. There won’t be one because no such evidence exists in the real world.
Books, on the other hand, are a different matter entirely. If the Mayan calendar deserves a self, all forms of conspiracies, free from credible evidence can spill out from such places as well. If an author does not want to make a complete joke of themselves, they still need to tone it up. Take Donna Laframboise for instance.
The initial name her book was, Decoding the Climate Bible: Almost nothing you’ve heard about the UN’s uber report is true. Provocative and bold – leading one to assume she would critically review the content and find massive flaws in the science. When her book came out, it was called; The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert. Hardly as bold and in reviewing her presentation, I found it a long way off what she had originally set out to do. Rather than approach the science in any way, she instead attacked the messengers.
The truth is, there is no genuine conspiracy, only crackpot conspiracy theories patched together to fashion an explanation as to why empirical reality fails to meet up with wishful expectations. We in turn play a role by taking them seriously; we make them mainstream.
I’ve been reflecting lately and wondering what the finally step may be for denialists of anthropogenic climate change and environmental degradation when the world simply fails to return to conditions we have prospered from within the Holocene and when species loss can no longer be ignored; when deniers have no option but to finally reject their delusions or literally blind themselves. I’m convinced the final step will be deflection:
“We knew climate change was occurring due to our release of greenhouse emissions. We knew all along. You would have to be an idiot to think pumping gigatonnes of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere wouldn’t have an effect!
“We only argued so hard because the problem became so damn politicised! After the fall of Communism the socialists needed something else to cling on to – that was when environmental science started to find problems with human activities.
“We would have acted, had there been a genuine movement to protect biodiversity and atmospheric chemistry, but there never was. We didn’t act because the socialists stole our opportunity to act.”
I bet something along that nature will arise eventually, forming yet another level of conspiracy theory based upon an ongoing detachment from reality.
We live in a progressive world. One that aspires for prosperity, democracy; personal freedoms. It is completely at odds to the claims being made by disinformers and the contrarian fans, but essential hypocrisy to ensure one does not reflect too hard on their own actions or inactions as the world degrades around them.