The link between science denial and conspiracy theorism has been obvious to scientists for years. Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, for example, was one of the first to know it was real, long before anyone had found the slightest evidence of it—a search that continues to this day.
Take BBD, one of the blogosphere’s most vocal and indefatigable opponents of science (despite lacking any qualifications therein). He believes we’re all being lied to by a “machine” that operates, naturally enough, “behind the scenes”:
This is what I mean when I say that the denial industry has constructed a false narrative for contrarians to karaoke. Misdirection, false equivalence and dogmatism are central to it all and it needs to be shut out of public discourse because it is a fundamental distortion of the truth. If more were publicly known about the contrarian spin machine, its outputs would be less tolerated by the public and (more) policy makers. Perhaps it’s not the science that needs better communication, but the dishonest tactics of the misinformation industry. IMO, people do not realise what is going on behind the scenes and that is the greatest ‘communication’ problem of the lot.
UPDATE: Or Does He?
Since this article went out, my science-communication colleague GSW has provided BBD with a second opinion about his ideation, substantively agreeing with my diagnosis of conspiracism.
But the subject himself, BBD, strongly denies being a conspiracy theorist, calling our educated clinical impressions “a concerted smear campaign” and “a sustained attempt at delegitimisation.”
And so in accordance with our False Balance Policy, and in spite of BBD’s complete lack of psychological credentials, we have offered him space on ClimateNuremberg to explain his alternative, or “crank,” view.
He made 12 key points, from which we cut out the swear words.
Here they are (edited for coherency):
- Your commentary about me is mostly vicious lies.
- Why does the phrase conspiracist ideation even exist?
- So why did you use it if not to indicate that this is a concerted smear campaign?
- What is wrong with your brain? Lies again, GSW. That’s just how it seems to you because you are insane.
- I merely point out that there is a large, well-funded denial industry that tries very hard to keep its inner workings secret… [Fuck snipped] but I loathe “Brad Keyes” aka “Darrell Harb” etc. One of the very, very vilest people I have ever encountered, although most voluble deniers are vermin, eg [Foxgoose]. Umm, stupid lying [fuck snipped]… I’ll leave the giant conspiracy slug ideation to you. Can’t you understand that you are being blatantly [fucking snipped] dishonest? Don’t you get that? Really? Can anyone be that stupid and or morally bankrupt?… Mimicking. Yes. Sociopath. Manipulator. Own worst enemy: The frog and the scorpion. What happened to you, Brad? Minds like yours are usually formed by very difficult childhoods. Was it your mother? Was she rather cruel to you? Boarding school on top of that tricky relationship? What turned you into a sociopathic, manipulating monster?
- Are you mad? Incidentally, the sociopathic conspiracy theorist loon Brad Keyes did exactly this on his defamatory blog. Since you have never demonstrated any capacity for original thinking (or indeed mentation of any kind) I assume you have simply copied your latest error from Keyes. So you can [fuck snipped] off… This is monstrous intellectual dishonesty. [Fuck snipped] off… You still seem incapable of understanding…you are, inevitably, wrong and for the usual reasons: a woeful failure of reading comprehension on your part… How about some interaction that doesn’t just involve you delightedly rolling around in dishonesty like a dog in fox [shit snipped]…making a grotesque prat out of yourself in public.
- What is the difference between an imagined conspiracy and a real one?
- Words fail me.
- No, GSW, you moronic liar… which is the very epitome of intellectual dishonesty. Your definitional arguments are specious nonsense… nothing more than a smear campaign.
- So an orchestrated smear campaign then.
- And since I have a shrewd suspicion he is with us as we speak, let me just say hello to Brad. And now off you [fuck snipped], there’s a good chap. GSW isn’t very bright. Brad has no such excuse and can be presumed to be acting in bad faith, as usual. This is easy to confirm… we get a sustained attempt at delegitimisation. The usual Brad shit in other words… 1880–85; earlier, as underworld argot, handbag, suitcase, safe; of obscure origin, but words meaning “chest, box” are frequently adduced as sources, e.g., kist1 , German Kiste, Yiddish kestl, etc.
- I am a little surprised that you have been permitted to carry on for so long. As you know, I have long been of the view that the best way of dealing with sociopathic liars who will not admit their errors is to shut them out.
Readers, what do you think:
- Is the science BBD presents credible?
- Should ClimateNuremberg have given so much space to the claims of a single, disproportionately-vocal non-expert?
- Or have we taken false balance too far?
Don’t lose heart, BBD—the people are learning, one by one, “what is going on behind the scenes.”
Every time a copy of Naomi Oreskes’ Merchants of Venice is purchased, another average (or sub-, more likely) member of the public finds out what’s really taking place behind the curtains of world history: to wit, that a tight-knit cabal of Jew tobacco scientists has been secretly manufacturing Doubt™, which they then sell at a tidy markup.