Confidence in climate scientists plummetsGuest author | August 7, 2011
In the latest Rasmussen national telephone survey of American adults, 69% say it’s likely that some scientists have falsified research data in order to support their own theories and beliefs. Only 6% say it is not at all likely.
This is a shocking result. Not long ago, scientists consistently polled as the most trusted profession of all. Now they are dismissed as cheats.
This is the outcome of several years of a globally-orchestrated PR campaign in which all government-funded scientists declared in unison “the science is settled” and “the debate is over.” Several years of filtering “non-mainstream” opinions, refusing debates and ad hominem attacks on sceptics.
Several years of endless mainstream media stories claiming it’s “worse than previously thought” accompanied by “might” and “could” flights of fancy. Several years of solemn assurances regarding “multiple lines of evidence”, but never a fingerprint or even a peer-reviewed paper – let alone a smoking gun.
This will become a case study for communications classes. That huge and famous New York PR firm grossly under-estimated and insulted the intelligence of its audience. They overlooked the wisdom of crowds. Surrounded by elitist group-think, they never tapped in to the discussions by the water-cooler, or in the pub, or over the barbecue.
Another surprise is the level of outright disbelief in the face of the never-changing mantra “there is a scientific consensus.” Sometimes spun as “90% (or even 97%) of scientists believe …”
The Rasmussen poll finds that one person in four believes that scientists agree on global warming – while 57% believe that there is significant disagreement within the scientific community.
Its ironic that these results came out in the very same week as the failed PR programme reached its apogee in New Zealand. The Rasmussen poll must surely deliver a very clear message to the Green Party, which pulled out of a Q&A debate against Lord Monckton on the grounds that “the debate is over.” And to Greenpeace, which persuaded Close-up to decline on similar grounds. And to the Auckland Council’s Treasury Department, which sent a 12-page letter to a private club defaming its guest and declaring “the science is settled.” And to the Herald, which found a Melbourne psychologist to heap insults on Lord Monckton and inveigh against coverage of “fringe” opinions.
This week also saw Science Media highlight a quote from the DomPost’s agricultural reporter, Jon Morgan:
“As reporters, we should not ignore [challenging views], but we should be careful of crossing the line into dangerous territory. We don’t want to put uncertainty into readers’ minds when the science is clear or make radical views appear to be mainstream.”
How patronising is this? Is this reporter peddling propaganda or news? Does he feel he has a Pravda-like mission to re-educate readers? Did it occur to him that adult readers just might want to form their own opinions about what is “clear” and what is questionable?
Mr Morgan’s level of iconoclasm is almost guaranteed to deliver perverse results. Nobody wants sermons from their daily paper. Editors don’t seem to realise how transparent (and boring) they are when they cleave relentlessly to the party line. Most readers lean against it and arrive at an opposite conclusion.
Repetitive reporting of perceived future horrors is particularly boring. Everybody knows the science is as chaotic as the weather. There are not just two viewpoints – for or against – as in politics. A Latin tag comes to mind (perhaps because I mentioned Lord Monckton) – quot homines, tot sententiae – there are as many opinions as there are people.
But political correctness has robbed the reportage of all nuance and depth. Pick up a three-year-old newspaper and you’ll read exactly the same head-banging as was served up last week.
And now two out of three Americans think climate scientists are “cooking the books.” Gallup polled people in 111 countries and found that most of the world did not “believe in” human-caused climate change.
All sides of the debate know that public opinion polls are important. In the final analysis, they will influence the politicians more than any scientific refinements (short of a paradigm shift). But the polls everywhere have been uni-directional for two years in a row. The well-funded campaign based on “we know best” paternalism has been exposed as a bankrupt failure.