Thursday, July 2, 2009

Skeptical RE. Research

Yesterday I posted on a piece from The Guardian, describing how Exxon-Mobil was still granting hundreds of thousands of dollars to (as the Guardian put it) "lobby groups that have published 'misleading and inaccurate information' about climate change." This is an accurate description of the groups named in the article, including National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) and the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC. These examples are two of many well-funded conservative "think-tanks." From what I've seen over the last 15 to 20 years, "think-tank" is not a good description of these groups. Their mission is to not come up with new or improved ideas, it is to come up with justifications- any justifications- for why sticking to their old, broken and disproved ideas is the best solution, and to make as much media noise with those "justifications" (rationalizations) as they possibly can.

They have been extremely effective and successful

So today, when I saw this headline from The Telegraph, "ExxonMobil funds climate-change sceptics," I clicked over to see if there was any new information. And confronted this top-of-the-article summary:
ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, is continuing to fund researchers who cast doubt on global warming, despite public promises to cut support for climate-change sceptics.
Do you see the problem here?

Somehow the recipients have gone from being conservative lobbyists and media manipulators to "researchers."

They are not researchers. They are vultures who are paid to protect the interests of the wealthy and powerful. If Exxon-Mobil were actually funding real, peer-reviewed research that might contradict the findings of the vast majority of climate scientists, I would have no problems- in fact, I would be overjoyed if they could establish that climate change was not going to have an enormous impact over the next century and longer. But to fund noisemakers so we as a culture can't hear the fire alarm is unconscionable

Thanks, media, for continuing to clarify and fact-check on these trivial little issues. Kudos for a job well done.

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