We have previously discussed the curious coupling of creationists and global warming deniers. See Discovery Institute: Thrilled About ClimateGate, and also Discovery Institute: The Mask Falls Away (in which we introduced the “vindication of all kooks” doctrine), and also Global Warming, Creationism & Brain Death.
Then we wrote about an announcement from our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), telling us that NCSE Expands into Climate Change. Their decision caused us some uneasiness, as we feared they might become entangled in the political and economic aspects of climate science — where your Curmudgeon seems almost alone in preferring free market solutions — but our worries so far have been unjustified.
A new dimension to all of this has recently surfaced about which we haven’t yet posted. NCSE wrote Source of Heartland leak steps forward. Dr. Peter Gleick, a well-known climate scientist who had been about to join the NCSE board revealed that he was the source of some document leaks from Heartland Institute — a well-funded climate change opponent. NCSE reports that Gleick wrote:
My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved. Nevertheless I deeply regret my own actions in this case. I offer my personal apologies to all those affected.
Among those leaked documents was one which is analogous to the Discovery Institute’s wedge strategy, but which Heartland insists is a forgery.
As a result of that mess, Gleick declined to join the NCSE board, a move that NCSE undoubtedly welcomed. He’s also been accused of being the author of the allegedly forged document. We have no opinion about that issue, but if he did it he might have gotten the idea from reading the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District and noting how the Wedge Document was so devastating to the Discovery Institute’s credibility. We don’t know, and maybe we shall never know. In any event, Gleick seems to have made a mess of things and he certainly hasn’t helped his cause.
Regardless of how the Gleick-Heartland imbroglio plays out, the result has been to shine even more light on the nexus between evolution denial and climate change denial, and also to position Heartland Institute (at least journalistically) in a role strikingly similar to that of the Discovery Institute. This is probably a good thing.
All of which brings us to a new article at the blog of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).
Their new post is A Friendly Letter to the Heartland Institute and Other Advocates of Free Speech on Global Warming and it’s written by Casey Luskin — our favorite Discoveroid. As you can see from Casey’s title, he positions their joint science-denial activities as being manifestations of free speech. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us and his links omitted:
For years, the primary mission of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) had been to censor any scientific criticisms of Darwinian evolution in schools — and sometimes in the academy too. We at Discovery Institute were curious and concerned recently to learn that the NCSE is expanding its struggle against free speech to the debate over global warming and climate change.
Observe the use of Discoveroid Newspeak — advocating sound science education and opposing pseudo-science is “censorship.” A typical beginning to a Discoveroid article. Casey continues:
I’m concerned that in the debate [on controversial scientific issues like global warming], we’ve seen the same kind of censorship and suppression of minority, dissenting scientific views that have become routine in the debate over Darwinian evolution.
Casey’s concerned. How sweet. Let’s read on:
In any case, since the Heartland Institute, Discovery Institute, and other scientific dissenters from the “consensus” are now being jointly misrepresented and attacked by the NCSE, I thought it might be helpful to encourage Heartland and others involved in the fight to protect academic freedom and scientific free speech with a friendly open letter. Now that the NCSE has taken its campaign of censorship to the global warming debate, let me give you some ideas of what you can look forward to.
Casey then gives a list of expected responses– described in Discoveroid terms — that Heartland can expect from the science community. You can read them all at the Discoveroid blog, but here are a few of them:
1. Expect to face a condescending tone with lots of sneers and name-calling. Also, be prepared to use NCSE rhetoric to your own advantage.
Among those who defend Big Science, smears and stereotypes are the rhetorical bread-and-butter. You already know what I’m talking about, the litany of stock libels: “anti-science,” “denier,” “ignorant,” “dishonest,” “science-abusers,” “fundamentalist,” “anti-intellectual,” “war on science.” We have become accustomed to attacks like these, and much worse, from evolution activists.
Yes, Casey has become accustomed to such attacks from “Big Science.” Why is that, we wonder? But from his experience, Casey gives his comrades at the Heartland Institute some advice, such as “try not to take it personally,” and “remember who your audience is.” Casey says they’re not trying to convince the scientists. Instead, the “audience is the vast majority of people in the open-minded, undecided middle — normal folks who are willing to listen to reason, and don’t like nasty rhetoric.”
In other words, it’s not about science, it’s public relations and propaganda. He also advises:
[W]hen your opponents start in with the name-calling, shine a spotlight on it. When you respond in a pleasant, calm, civil, and rational manner, your morally and intellectually credible position will resonate with listeners and readers.
Good advice! That’s why the Discoveroids are always “pleasant, calm, civil, and rational” while telling their audience that Darwin was Hitler’s intellectual godfather. Then Casey tells his Heartland comrades something else to watch out for:
2. Expect the NCSE to try to paint you as fringe extremist — but be prepared to show that they are the ones in the minority.
Right. Never mind all that science stuff — it’ll confuse the target audience. Just talk about public opinion polls. He says:
The reality is that for a supermajority of Americans, supporting free speech on these issues is just common sense. So take polls on what the public really thinks and be ready to throw those statistics back at the NCSE.
That’s how cutting-edge science is done! Casey’s advice goes on and on. We’ll leave it to you to read it all. Here’s how he ends his open letter to his comrades:
At the end of the day, our true adversary is censorship — and this is exactly what the NCSE stands for. Climate skeptics and Darwin doubters now have a common opponent, and we’re going to be linked and attacked in many of the same ways. Whatever you believe about evolution or global warming, may intellectual freedom prevail.
So there you are. It seems that the NCSE has their hands full. Well, they knew what they were getting into. Now we all know. The creationism + climate-science denial axis exists, and we can expect them to use similar tactics. Thanks, Casey, for showing us the blueprint.
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