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Old 2012-02-21, 09:14   #1
cheesehead
 
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Default Global Cooling / Climate Change Information Campaign

"Ethical Analysis of the Climate Change Disinformation Campaign" -- a four-part series on Penn State's Climate Ethics site

1. "Ethical Analysis of the Climate Change Disinformation Campaign: Introduction to A Series. "

http://rockblogs.psu.edu/climate/201...-a-series.html

2. "Ethical Analysis of Disinformation Campaign's Tactics: (1) Reckless Disregard for the Truth, (2) Focusing On Unknowns While Ignoring Knowns, (3) Specious Claims of "Bad" Science, and (4) Front Groups. "

http://rockblogs.psu.edu/climate/201...ocusing-o.html

3. "Ethical Analysis of Disinformation Campaign's Tactics: (1) Think Tanks, (2) PR Campaigns, (3) Astroturf Groups, and (4) Cyber-Bullying Attacks. "

http://rockblogs.psu.edu/climate/201...rf-groups.html

4. "Irresponsible Skepticism: Lessons Learned From the Climate Disinformation Campaign "

http://rockblogs.psu.edu/climate/201...-campaign.html

- - -

From the first part ("Ethical Analysis of the Climate Change Disinformation Campaign: Introduction to A Series." http://rockblogs.psu.edu/climate/201...-a-series.html
):
Quote:
I. Introduction to The Series:

Over the next few weeks, ClimateEthics will take a deeper look at what has been referred to as the "climate change disinformation campaign" through an ethical lens

This series is based upon the assumption that skepticism in science is essential to increase understanding of the natural world. Yet, ideologically based disinformation is often ethically abhorrent particularly in regard to behaviors about which there is credible scientific support for the conclusion that these activities threaten life and the ecological systems on which life depend. This report focuses on specific tactics that have been deployed in the climate change disinformation campaign. It is not a critique of responsible skepticism.

Although ClimateEthics has examined these issues briefly before, see: An Ethical Analysis of the Climate Change Disinformation Campaign: Is This A New Kind of Assault on Humanity?, this is the first in a series of posts that will examine this phenomenon in depth.

The climate disinformation campaign can be understood as a movement of organizations and individuals that can be counted on to systematically attack mainstream climate change science in ways that radically depart from responsible scientific skepticism. In the next entry in this series we will look more closely at what we mean by a "campaign" or "movement."

Later entries in this series will look in more detail at specific tactics used by the disinformation movement. Because skepticism in science should be encouraged rather than vilified, the last entry in this series will make recommendations about norms that should guide responsible skepticism in climate science.

. . .
From the second part ("Ethical Analysis of Disinformation Campaign's Tactics: (1) Reckless Disregard for the Truth, (2) Focusing On Unknowns While Ignoring Knowns, (3) Specious Claims of "Bad" Science, and (4) Front Groups."
http://rockblogs.psu.edu/climate/201...ocusing-o.html ):
Quote:
. . .

This entry first explains what is meant by the climate change disinformation campaign and then examines a number of specific tactics deployed by this phenomenon.

. . .

II. What Is The Disinformation Campaign.

. . .


III. An Ethical Analysis of Specific Tactics.

. . .

A. Reckless Disregard For The Truth.

. . .

B. Focusing On Unknowns While Ignoring the Knowns.

. . .

C. Specious Claims Of Bad Science.

. . .

D. Creation of Front Groups

. . .
From the third part ("Ethical Analysis of Disinformation Campaign's Tactics: (1) Think Tanks, (2) PR Campaigns, (3) Astroturf Groups, and (4) Cyber-Bullying Attacks."
http://rockblogs.psu.edu/climate/201...rf-groups.html
):
Quote:
. . .

II. Conservative Think Tanks.

. . .

Emphasizing unknowns

. . .

• Making claims in reckless disregard for the truth.

. . .

• Manufacturing dubious science

. . .

• Publicizing questionable scientific claims

. . .

III. Public Relations Firm Led Campaigns.

. . .

IV. Astroturf Groups.

. . .

V. Cyber-Bullying of Scientists and Journalists.

. . .
From the last part ("Irresponsible Skepticism: Lessons Learned From the Climate Disinformation Campaign"
http://rockblogs.psu.edu/climate/201...-campaign.html
):
Quote:
. . .

II. Assigning Moral Blame.

. . .

For these reasons, although there are no initial ethical problems with people expressing their opinions about the extent to which human activities are affecting the environment, individuals must be willing to modify their opinions if there is an evidentiary basis for so doing, subject any claims to peer-review, and abide by other norms for responsible skepticism discussed in this entry. This fact makes several of the tactics discussed in this paper deeply, ethically problematic if they are engaged in without the willingness to revise the claims in response to contradictory evidence including the tactic of stressing unknowns and ignoring what is known about connections between human behavior and climate change, manufacturing bogus scientific claims that have not been subjected to peer-review while claiming that the opinions are entitled to scientific respect, and making claims in reckless disregard for the truth. Corporations are particularly ethically blameworthy if they finance people or organizations who deploy these tactics without any recognition of the need to abide by the norms of reasonable scientific skepticism because their motivation is to undermine mainstream science to protect economic interests.

. . .

III. Norms To Guide Responsible Climate Skepticism.


A. The Duty of Skeptics to Subject Their Conclusions to Peer-Review

. . .

B. The Duty Of Skeptics To Subject Any Broad Claims To Review By Organizations That Have Appropriate Expertise.

. . .

C. The Duty To Not Overstate Conclusions That Can Be Inferred from Any Individual Study.

. . .

D. The Duty to Restrict Claims To Those That Have Adequate Evidentiary Support.

. . .

E. The Duty To Acknowledge That It Is Not "Bad" Science to Rely on Less Than Fully Proven Scientific Claims.

. . .

IV. Conclusion.

Throughout this series we have identified ethical problems with the climate change disinformation campaign. These ethical problems are particularly disturbing because they have led to inaction for over twenty years by some largest emitting countries including the United States, Canada, and Australia and in so doing have put millions of poor people at greater risk. And so, some of those engaged in the climate change disinformation campaign are responsible for endangering people and ecological systems around the world and appear to have been motivated primarily by economic self-interest or protecting a radical free-market ideology rather than a search for the truth that would be a goal of responsible scientific skepticism.

As we have seen, not all who have engaged in the disinformation campaign are equally ethically blameworthy, but many can be accused of deeply irresponsible and often knowingly deceptive practices to protect economic interests. There is no clear ethical problem with corporations sponsoring rigorous scientific research. However corporations engage in ethically troublesome behavior that sponsor organizations that manufacture bogus scientific claims, that make claims that must be understood as examples of reckless disregard for the truth, that highlight unknowns while ignoring settled science, or that have been created to deceive people about who the real parties in interests. Without doubt, corporations or philanthropic foundations that sponsor organizations that encourage cyber-bullying of climate scientists and journalists are engaging in particularly odious behaviors.

ClimateEthics has in this series made a clear distinction between responsible skepticism and the tactics deployed by the disinformation campaign. Responsible climate skepticism should be encouraged but skeptics must play by the rule of science and abide by the norms discussed in this series.

. . .

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2012-02-21 at 09:27
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Old 2012-02-21, 20:10   #2
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Unfortunately, it appears the disinformation campaign is not one-sided. A climate scientist breaks the law, possibly forging documents.
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Old 2012-02-21, 20:40   #3
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Most of the tactics used by the groups described in Cheesehead's links appear to be more-or-less straight from Big Tobacco's well-honed playbook.
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Old 2012-02-21, 22:39   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta-Flux View Post
Unfortunately, it appears the disinformation campaign is not one-sided. A climate scientist breaks the law, possibly forging documents.
That wasn't a good idea, but it wasn't about misrepresenting the science itself as the Heartland Institute does.
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Old 2012-02-21, 22:41   #5
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Now, did I really forget to prefix "Dis-" to "information" in the thread title when I posted it, or ...?
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Old 2012-02-22, 00:51   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
That wasn't a good idea, but it wasn't about misrepresenting the science itself as the Heartland Institute does.
That may be true, but people won't see it that way. What they will see instead is a quack scientist badmouthing an institution, possibly forging documents, and breaking the law in the process. They will see your type of response as that of a blind follower, blaming the institution for more wrongs than the fallen disciple. Not to say any of that is accurate, but that is how it will look to many people.
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Old 2012-02-22, 05:53   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta-Flux View Post
That may be true, but people won't see it that way. What they will see instead is a quack scientist badmouthing an institution, possibly forging documents, and breaking the law in the process. They will see your type of response as that of a blind follower, blaming the institution for more wrongs than the fallen disciple. Not to say any of that is accurate, but that is how it will look to many people.
Wrong question:

Where did this "anonymous" memo come from? Excellent way to probe your own information security, this bogus memo...not to mention discredit your opposition.

And a major ethics question of its own here: Should *ANY* organisation set up specifically to sway public opinion be allowed to operate in secret?

Finally, while I applaud the attempt in Cheesehead's ethics review, I wonder if the authors have been reading "vixra.org"'s manifesto? It's a wonderful demonstration of orthodoxy in science....

But that does not mean that doubling of atmospheric CO2 can be ignored...
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Old 2012-02-22, 08:11   #8
cheesehead
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta-Flux View Post
That may be true, but people won't see it that way. What they will see instead is a quack scientist badmouthing an institution, possibly forging documents, and breaking the law in the process.
Of course, Gleick should be prosecuted for what he did.

Quote:
They will see your type of response as that of a blind follower, blaming the institution for more wrongs than the fallen disciple.
Wait -- to whom are you assigning the roles of institution and disciple? I wasn't aware that Peter H. Gleick was a disciple of Heartland Institute, so apparently you mean something else.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2012-02-22 at 08:12
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Old 2012-02-22, 15:38   #9
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I meant something like "...the fallen disciple of one's pet cause."
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Old 2012-04-14, 03:12   #10
cheesehead
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta-Flux View Post
That may be true, but people won't see it that way. What they will see instead is a quack scientist badmouthing an institution, possibly forging documents, and breaking the law in the process. They will see your type of response as that of a blind follower, blaming the institution for more wrongs than the fallen disciple. Not to say any of that is accurate, but that is how it will look to many people.
Those people are the ones that can be most easily swayed by propaganda. Right-wingers are very good at creating propaganda that appeals to them, that leads them to disregard actual scientific evidence.

It is completely unbalanced to equate Gleick's misdeeds to Heartland Institute's misdeeds. Gleick misrepresented only his own identity, not any of the science. Heartland, on the other hand, misrepresents the scientific facts about AGW, not merely an individual's identity.

That so many people cannot distinguish that difference is testimony to the effectiveness of the nearly-four-decade right-wing campaign to undermine trust in science whenever it happens to conflict with the right-wing view of the world.

- - -

Note that the above conflict is about human behavior, not about scientific evidence.

If the anti-AGW folks actually had science on their side, they could demolish the AGW theory by showing how scientific facts contradicted the "10 Indicators of a Human Fingerprint on Climate Change" listed in the article at http://www.skepticalscience.com/10-I...te-Change.html

But they never do.

If science is on the side of the anti-AGWers, where is the evidence?

AGWers keep presenting scientific evidence, but anti-AGWers respond not by refuting that evidence, but by turning the argument away from climate, toward human behavior.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2012-04-14 at 03:21
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