A Study In Delusion

By Fred Mittag


cover scientific american“On controversial topics such as climate change, a significant number of Americans do not use science to inform their views. Instead, they use political orientation and ideology.” – Scientific American

David Harper’s Letter to the Editor (June, 2015) is a case study in conservative delusion. Harper says the claim that 97% of scientists agree on global warming is “faked” and suggests Google to prove it. Google leads straight to the Wall Street Journal, and of course, they say the 97% of scientists claimed by liberals is a myth.

But Rupert Murdoch owns the Wall Street Journal, and also owns Fox News – the most disreputable of all TV channels. Two climate change deniers wrote the article in the WSJ, Joseph Blast and Roy Spencer. They both work for the Heartland Institute, whose institutional mission is climate change denial. Blast is the president, in fact. The Koch brothers and other polluters fund this conservative think tank. The Heartland Institute has as one of its projects a “global warming curriculum for elementary children” that presents global warming as a “major science controversy.” Of course, it is not, since scientists are in agreement. Dr. David Wojick, a coal-industry consultant, is preparing the curriculum. He is in the service of big coal, not school children.

Billionaires in the fossil fuel industry have spent many millions of dollars lobbying to make global warming a doubtful hypothesis rather than an established fact. The Heartland Institute is one of their main anti-science efforts. The fossil fuel industry has financed the ideological brainwashing of gullible people, especially viewers of Fox News.

Harper accused the El Ojo del Lago editor: “Like many from the left you start with a false premise and go from there.” This is so ludicrous as to invite contempt. Scientists are by definition liberals. As Stephen Colbert said, “Reality has a liberal bias.” Scientists, of course, deal in reality, while conservatives are chained to ideology –at best, a kind of faith system resembling voodoo more than science.

We really need to dispel any misconceptions about liberal and conservative. When Galileo proposed the heliocentric theory, he was a liberal. What he did was scientific progress, a liberal attribute. When the Church insisted on conserving the geocentric theory, and tried Galileo for heresy, that was the conservative position, a rejection of progress. Galileo the liberal was intellectually solid and the conservative Church was ignorantly wrong. Harper proves conservative mentality has not changed since the heresy trial of Galileo.

Conservatives are still wrong about almost everything. Harper fell into the conservative trap of confirmation bias with his citation of the East Anglia University scandal. He saw what he ideologically needed to see, but was blind to the bigger picture. In psychological terms, he used “motivated reasoning” to reach a false conclusion.

And then this amazing sentence: “The money in the global warming game goes to those who continue to falsify records to provide politicians inaccurate data to plan more taxation to feed their desire for increased government size and spending.”The delusional paranoia behind that sentence is beyond human aid.

In 2009, e-mails from the University of East Anglia in Britain were illegally hacked. A few cherry-picked, out-of-context, quotes from climate scientists were published on the Internet that conservatives claimed were proof that climate scientists were promoting a world-wide scientific hoax. A number of prestigious investigations, both British and American, cleared the scientists of any scientific wrongdoing. Harper is in pursuit of a red herring. His vacuous ideology is promoting the calamitous hoax that the earth’s climate is O.K.

The dinosaurs were hit with a climate-changing asteroid that caused mass extinction. For humans, the climate-changing consequences of greenhouse gases produced by the Koch brothers’ profits loom ahead.


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