It’s a topsy-turvy world.
Back in the early ’90s, a group called the Western Fuels Association took out full-page ads in serious intellectual magazines. (I think I remember it in The Atlantic, but it may have been Harper’s.) Featuring the endearing cartoon mascot “Reddy Kilowatt”, if I recall correctly, its textual content was a paragraph of outright and frank misrepresentation of the state of climate science at the time. I remember being shocked. I would have thought such a thing illegal, or if legal, at least fraught with consequences. I waited for the consequences to hit the Western Fuels Association. I am still waiting.
You would think that in a functioning democracy there would be negative consequences for people in positions of responsibility promoting unambiguous disinformation.
A blog post by Greg Sargent in the Washington Post, entitled “Paying no price whatsoever for climate science denialism” addresses this:
Just to catch you up, LCV recently announced plans to launch a $2 million campaign attacking Republicans in Congress for climate change denialism. …
As I noted here the other day, there’s more to this than you might think. It’s not about electoral politics — after all, Johnson isn’t up for reelection until 2016. Rather, environmentalists view this as a long game designed to change something that’s frustrated them for some time: the fact that crazy climate change denialist statements just aren’t nearly as politically toxic as outsized statements about, say, abortion or immigration often prove to be.
Much more in the posting that’s worth considering. But I couldn’t let it pass without noting this bizarre turn of phrase (emphasis added):
note that LCV’s ads smuggle a few facts into the discussion: both of them note that the overwhelming consensus among scientists is that climate change’s primary cause is human activity.
At this point, has the journalistic community bought so thoroughly into Kahan’s upside-down argument that facts are somehow illicit in politics? How is it that lies or extreme confusion are hunky-dory and facts are something smuggled? I’m sure Sargent was being somehow sarcastic here but the context is baffling.