Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cursing the darkness

I have been wondering if there could be a better name for those who willfully ignore evidence and reason on climate change than 'climate deniers' or 'climate sceptics' ('skeptics' in modern U.S. and 18th century British English).

'Sceptic' is misleading because these people are seldom interested in reasoned scepticism but rather pursue an ideological agenda against the facts (see, for example, these two identified by Philip Pullman or this story about a hoax). And 'denial(ist)', while sometimes accurate, neither always fully captures what is going nor has the feel of a rollicking good insult.

Elizabethan curses and army and navy swearing may be one place to look. Yiddish and other cultures have some great terms of abuse too. I quite like 'mooncusser', an old Yankee term for wrecker. It's colourful, and germane because these bastards used to curse the light of nature and lead people to destruction for fun and profit. (And I'm sure they had a self-story about how what they were doing was justified.)

If you have suggestion for a better label for these shysters please post a comment. Or should we just stick with the terms we have?

Perdition on these mewling toad-spotted carbuncles.


David Thorpe said...

How about blockhead? Nothing too learned or literary - they wouldn't get it!

By the way, the biggest catch by far was Rush Limbaugh, the world's most popular talk radio host. Limbaugh, broadcasting across 600 radio stations in the US and around the world through his online service, used the fake paper's findings to denounce global warming as a dangerous hoax.

When we don't like a finding, we ignore it or subject it to the most rigorous scrutiny. When we do like a finding, we accept it unquestioningly. As we found when we circulated the bacteria paper, those who style themselves climate "sceptics" are least able to engage in sceptical enquiry.

As you say, they are not sceptical but dismissive of mainstream climate science. But they will swallow any old nonsense that appears to cast doubt on it. Even experienced journalists are prepared to believe almost anything if it suits their politics.

Almost everyone would like to believe we can continue to burn fossil fuels without causing climate change. So they latch onto any 'evidence' like drowning men clutching at straws.

So perhaps 'strawclutchers' might be another idea?

Best wishes


Clive Bates said...

Scepticism is a fine tradition and the basis of scientific inquiry, so it's use in this context is wholly inappropriate given who it refers to and what they do. 

This has been faced before with 'euro-sceptics' of the Bill Cash and Nigel Farrage variety. I consider myself a reasoned Euro-sceptic but would in no way wish to associate myself with the Little-Englanders behind this trend. The term Euro-phobe was coined to provide an alternative... not sure that works here. 

The word that springs to mind is 'dissembler' but that's perhaps too hi-falutin' for widespread use. "Scientists of Fortune" might be one way of capturing this mercenary nature of their work - though for some I'm sure it's ideological. 

Climate creeps? Climatonanists? Climate Neo-cons?

George Marshall said...

I call them 'contrarians' which suggests the self appointed, arbitrary and media oriented quality of their expertise

Whatcha think?