Thursday, November 16, 2006

People of Integrity

The next time you’re shedding hot salt tears over the Catholics’ persecution of Giordano Bruno, spare some pity for the climate change denialists, who stand alone against a monolithic oppressor, with no friends (save for industry, government, and the media) and no weapons (save for supremely flexible consciences, and the best PR that billions of dollars can buy).

In an op-ed piece, David Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research invokes Science’s Martyrs in order to drum up sympathy for the brave dissenters who’d be slightly inconvenienced if ExxonMobil heeded a recent request to stop funding think-tanks like his:

Copernicus, Bruno and Harvey were persecuted out of fear. Each ultimately was proven to be correct.

Today U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) are engaging in persecution of their own, attempting to silence dissenting voices. Just what do they fear?
Well...I’m no mindreader, but I suspect they fear that climate change is just as serious a problem as the experts say it is, and that the silly antics of marionettes like Ridenour have wasted more than enough precious time already.

They probably also fear that the denialists’ media clout is grossly out of proportion with their expertise, their “evidence,” and their standing within the scientific community. Hell, if Giordano Bruno had been funded by Scaife, the Catholic Church probably would’ve made it a heresy to deny hylozoism.

Then again, they may simply be tired of listening to these people, who respond to the annihilation of one flimsy talking-point by instantly shifting their righteous indignation to the defense of another one, without losing one whit of their lunatic self-assurance. Perhaps I’m splitting hairs, but William Harvey didn’t prevail in his battle against the Galenists by being consistently, stridently wrong about everything.

Ridenour finishes up by echoing Bruno’s final words to his executioners: "Perhaps you, my judges, pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it."
People of integrity will not change their views because their funding is threatened -- or even cut off. People of integrity will not change their views because it is asserted that the "scientific debate is over." They won't even do so when they are equated with Holocaust deniers. People of integrity will only change their views when they are convinced by the evidence.
The cheaper the hood, the gaudier the patter. Still, this raises an important question: How does one tell the difference between “people of integrity” and cranks?

It’s simple, really. The people of integrity are funded by ExxonMobil and the Scaife fortune, send Tom DeLay on questionable business trips, and put Jack Abramoff on their Board of Directors.

Maybe the denialists are a bit more like the Galenists than William Harvey, all things considered.

(Ad at top via Climate Denial.)

1 comment:

Hecate said...

Maybe the real fear is that they won't get paid big bucks to lie to everyone. Can you imagine someone being paid by the shipping company to stand (along with everyone else) on the deck of the Titanic and yell, "Hey! It's really ok! The boat's not sinking! That's just a theory that the alarmists want you to believe!" The result is the same for them as it is for everyone else "Glug, glug, glug . . . " Morons