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The Incurious Case of the Carbon Alarmists

A popular blog aiming to discredit "climate skeptics" is the epitome of the alarmist movement’s anti-intellectual approach.

by
David Steinberg

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March 7, 2009 - 12:00 am
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Question global warming theory by commenting on an alarmist-based site and a reply will likely direct you to the writings of blogger Coby Beck. A self-described software developer specializing in “artificial intelligence,” Mr. Beck is the author of “How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic” — a series of phenomenally popular blog posts seen as unassailable dogma among his fellow believers.

Had it been his intent, Beck could not possibly have forwarded more solid grounds for delegitimizing his movement. “Climate Skeptic” is a mash of remarkably cursory, blinkered responses, leaving unanswered questions readily apparent to the cold, scientific observer. Yet Beck’s charges seem quite willing to battle with his tinfoil-and-cardboard, Hanukkah-play weaponry, swinging madly and wondering why the supposed faith-based and unenlightened are so slow to die or convert.

In love with theory and the “righteousness” of the cause, Beck’s work may be the definitive historical snapshot of the alarmist movement’s startlingly anti-intellectual approach. A movement that assumes to champion the scientific method’s sound defeat of ideology, yet stands content to be so blithely — and publicly — incurious.

For all but the alarmist, simply advancing past the introduction to Beck’s series requires comfort with condescension. Without examining what is to come, apparent is just how much fuel the AGW movement gains from perceived intellectual superiority.

Beck writes:

There are four separate taxonomies; arguments are divided by: Stages of Denial, Scientific Topics, Types of Argument, and Levels of Sophistication.

Beck also lists subcategories under “levels of sophistication”: “silly,” “naive,” “specious,” and “scientific.” Only six of his fifty-seven fall under “scientific.” Science is not practiced by contempt, yet Beck and his supporters are quite comfortable being unbecoming. The “skeptics suck” t-shirt should sell well.

But snobbery aside — and Beck certainly is not the worst elitist among his web allies — the toe-in-the-shallow-end answers are the star here. And one post, “CO2 Lags Not Leads,” rises above the scores of others as being most representative of the “Climate Skeptic” phenomenon.

Beck’s instruction on how to parrot the argument — that temperature change historically precedes a rise in CO2, not vice versa — is eerily, fascinatingly, chicken-stock thin. This argument may be the most widely repeated among those whom his posts are meant to convert or silence, and as such should deserve a thorough examination. A data dump. That it does not seems strikingly passive.

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