Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Anatomy of Denialist Tactics, or how to know you're being conned

Fortunately I’m a self-employed working stiff, since it’s great having work and people hiring me... the unfortunate part is that when I have work it doesn’t allow me the time to properly pursue this main interest of mine.  That being to participate in the struggle against the dysfunctionality that our Anthropogenic Global Warming discussion has been forced to descend into - Thanks to a selective few, supported by some very rich individuals who’s wealth enables them to create “Think Tanks” dedicated to agenda over substance; to debate over learning; to self interest over citizenship.  
Heartland Institute, being but a recent superstar in that arena of public relations manipulation over substantive learning, recently released papers showing us how one ultra rich “Anonymous Donor” can supply the backbone for a group of ideologues to manufacture what amounts to nothing more than political crazy-making. - focused on diverting attention from the real issues we should be facing.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Unfortunately right now my time is limited so all I can do is post the following outline, one that was ironically supplied by Professor Peter Gleick some five years ago.  Still the following is a good outline of the deceptive tactics employed by the likes of Heartland Institute - and I will find many examples to attach to it, as time permits.  

That’s why I’m looking forward to examining Heartland Institute’s own ruthless actions over the years against the moralizing cloak they have draped themselves in...
but alas, that will take a few days... stay tuned.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The following comes from Senate testimony Dr. Peter Gleick gave regarding the degeneration of the standards of discussion and the tactics global warming denial organizations such as Heartland Institute resort to in their attack against rational peer reviewed science.

Pacific Institute
Reported:  Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Washington’s Attacks on Science “Pervasive” 
Peter Gleick Provides Testimony to Senate Hearing
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Political distortions of the scientific process have undergone a dramatic rise in Washington over the past six years, according to the Senate testimony of Dr. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute. Gleick’s testimony (download - PDF) was provided to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on Climate Change Research and Science Integrity Wednesday. Misuse of science and attacks on scientists, Gleick finds, have been pervasive and categorical.

“Good, independent science – indeed good information in general – is crucial to making good political decisions,” Gleick wrote. “It is difficult enough to make intelligent policy choices given the complexities of today’s political, environmental, economic, and social challenges. It is almost impossible when good science or data are ignored or distorted, or when bad science is sought out to support pre-determined political conclusions.”

{I have found it appropriate to add another category heading to Gleick's list}

Testimony of Dr. Peter Gleick, February 7, 2007  Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Categories of Deceitful Tactics 
and Abuse of the Scientific Process
(source: P.H. Gleick, Pacific Institute, 2007)

There are many tactics used to argue for or against scientific conclusions that are inappropriate, 
involve deceit, or directly abuse the scientific process. 

Appeal to Emotion
This is a large category and involves using various tactics to incite emotions in people in order to persuade them that a particular argument or hypothesis is true or false, independent of the scientific evidence. 
     Appeal to Fear
     Appeal to Flattery
     Appeal to Pity
     Appeal to Ridicule
     Appeal to Spite

 ~ ~ ~

Personal (“Ad Hominem”) Attacks
This approach uses attacks against the character, circumstances, or motives of a person in order to discredit their argument or claim, independent of the scientific evidence.
     Guilt by Association
     Challenge to Motive (such as greed or funding)

 ~ ~ ~

Mischaracterizations of an Argument
This approach typically mischaracterizes an issue or evidence and then argues against the mischaracterization. It can include.
     Begging the Question
     Circular Reasoning
     Partial Truths
(willful ignorance)
     Selective Choice of Problems
(willful ignorance)

~ ~ ~
Straw Man Argument (includes substituting a distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented position for the one being argued

Loaded Question (includes posing a question with an implied position that the opponent does not have.)

 False Dichotomy (for or against)/False dilemma (includes assuming that there are only two possible opinions or choices.)

 Misplaced Burden of Proof 

 Confusing Cause and Effect

 Red Herring
(includes presentation of an irrelevant topic to divert attention from another topic.

 Slippery Slope (includes the assertion that one event must inevitably follow from another)

Partial Truths

Willfully Ignoring (excluding all portions of information that undercut your argument)

~ ~ ~ 

Inappropriate Generalization
Accusing all of a group of people or arguments or set of facts as having the characteristics of a subset of that group. 

 ~ ~ ~

Misuse of Facts

     Numerical Mischaracterization 
     Selective Choice or Presentation of Data; Biased Sample
     Inadequate Sample; Hasty Generalization; 

                Leaping to a Conclusion
     Selective Omissions of Data 
(willfully ignoring)
     Illusory Precision
(where precision isn’t needed or available)
     Inappropriate Vagueness
(where precision is needed)
     Unrelated Facts 

      (bringing unrelated facts that seem to support a conclusion)
     Willfully Ignoring (important facts)
 ~ ~ ~

Misuse of Uncertainty
     Misplaced Certainty
     Misrepresentation of Uncertainty

False Authority
Including appeal to authority not competent to address issue

Hidden Value Judgments
Including judgments based on ideological or religious rationales rather than reviewable and testable evidence.

Scientific Misconduct 
The violation of the standard codes of scholarly conduct and ethical behavior in professional scientific research, including: 
    Fabrication (the fabrication of research data and observations)
    Falsification (manipulation of research data and processes or omitting critical data or results)
    Failure to Acknowledge and Correct Errors

Willfully Ignoring (inconvenient Earth Observation data)

~ ~ ~ 

Science Policy Misconduct 
The manipulation of the process of integrating science and policy, including:
    Packing Advisory Boards
    Imposing Litmus Tests
    Altering or Suppressing Information
    Bullying of Scientists
    Selective Funding or De-funding

No comments: