If there is one good thing to come from the whole stolen CRU email incident, it is the way that the human-induced global warming denialist movement has been overrun with global government conspiracy nuts. “Climategate” is now being referenced on many New World Order conspiricist websites.
So Sahil Kapur was right all along. Those denying anthropogenic climate change are really little different from the 9/11 truthers. Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait, had also realised this. Some science bloggers are comparing the quote-mining to swiftboating especially when it comes to the weak defence by the University of East Anglia (cf. Kerry’s campaign in 2004) but a more apt comparison may actually be the birther movement. As with truthers, moon hoaxers and climate change denialists, the birthers reject any evidence contrary to their beliefs. As noted by Phil Plait:
they call themselves skeptics, but they are far from it. Skepticism is a method that includes the demanding of evidence and critical analysis of it. That’s not what Moon hoax believers do; they make stuff up, they don’t look at all the evidence, they ignore evidence that goes against their claims. So they are not Moon landing skeptics, they are Moon landing deniers. They may start off as skeptics, but real skeptics understand the overwhelming evidence supporting the reality of the Moon landings. If, after examining that evidence, you still think Apollo was faked, then congratulations. You’re a denier.
Which is exactly what conspiracy nuts do also. And just as peak oil theory lost credibility when 9/11 truthers and NWO believers used it as a motivation for government involvement in the attack on the World Trade Center, the merging of climate change denial and NWO cults may actually have a detrimental effect on the anti-science lobby.
So how exactly should scientists react to conspiracy nuts and swiftboating. Should they spend their valuable time writing on blogs with detailed replies to deniers? Should limited grant funding be used up to mount an Obama-style PR offensive to counter the mistaken beliefs of the irrational ramblings of conspiracy nutters? Given that these conspiracy theories don’t require facts for peole to believe in them putting up website after website spewing forth facts is not going to do much good.
Perhaps the best thing scientists can do is to continue to do their job. The latest Science podcast has an interview with paleoclimatologist, Michael Mann, and nowhere is there any mention of his role in the Climategate/SwiftHack affair *. And if the conspiricists continue making ridiculous demands of scientists, perhaps another reaction is called for.