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Discussion > Channelling dogginess

On 20th September Jonathan Jones wrote on a thread on Antarctic ice:

It is tricky to keep track of all MDGNN's alter egos, especially as many of them seem to have subtly different personalities. My most recent discovery was Markus Fitzhenry who at one point at http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2012/06/05/3518659.htm channels pure doginess. He seems to be distinct from Doug Cotton and Claes Johnson: though there are certainly similarities of outlook the styles seem quite different. But it's very hard to be sure.

What I find so frustrating about him is that he frequently *almost* makes sense, but he will keep veering off on strange obsessions. All part of life's rich tapestry I suppose.

This thread relates to two earlier discussions Real names or pseudonyms and "Skydragon" invasions. I don't want to limit its scope but I would especially like to ask BH denizens - preferably well-established ones - what they think about two possible uses of pseudonyms and their consequences for climate blogs:

1. A single contributor who uses multiple pseuds over a relatively short space of time, as mdgnn and Doug Cotton (on JeffId's blog) are both believed to have done.

2. A single pseud under which which multiple real world individuals contribute.

To make clear I don't want us to assume the worst in all cases let's call type 1 the Orwell and 2 the Bourbaki.

I've been thinking about starting this thread since reading Jonathan on 20th but it was only today, as I read Tom Fuller calling another well-known pseud absurdist, that I felt I had a key making it worth a go.

I'll put links here, if I may, from the two prior Discussions in the next 24 hours. Though this is not meant to replace either.

But any thoughts on theory and hard experience in this area?

Oct 16, 2012 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Well, multiple pseudos used by just one or two would certainly give the impression that their beliefs are more widely shared than in reality.

What I find so frustrating about him is that he frequently *almost* makes sense

For quite a while I wondered if it was simply a communication problem. mdgnn would often seem on the brink of making sense. He never seemed to come out with outright nonsense of the sort you find in the Skydragon book, which you could immediately dismiss. But in the end, without ever actually figuring out what he believes, I concluded it was probably in that category.

Oct 16, 2012 at 9:58 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I can only comment on the principles not from experience, I read "papers/articles" on other blogs but I do not read comments.
On BH Alec M is on his third nick(name)/tag as far as I know but I have no problem with that, he only uses one at a time hehe.
I would seriously not be comfortable with a tag that was used by different people.
I often wonder if BBD and BitBucket are the same person but since they are all trolls I do not care anyway.
It seems to me that the way people behave is more important than what name they use in general.
Personally I simply prefer to write under a tag but will be happy to supply my real name to any BH regular.

Oct 17, 2012 at 12:13 AM | Registered CommenterDung

I have no connection with BBD. That should be obvious as he/she is clearly an expert (or perhaps a false expert); I am clearly not.

It seems to me that the solution is simple: restrict posting rights to subscribers (and perhaps by invitation, eg Met Office staff). BH must have a large subscriber base that could sustain varied conversation without interruptions from the likes of me.

Oct 17, 2012 at 2:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

I''m not sure what the problem is. My Song's Got One Note is clearly identifiable in all his forms and makes sense right up to the point when you need the final understanding that back radiation can't exist, but he/she's otherwise harmless. If you are a troll you then I guess you need t keep your identity secret becasue you''re deliberately trying to provoke people and when you spend your life delighting in poking hornet's nests you're risking a response. Having said that trolls can be a good thing if they address the arguments at hand. BBD was good until I realised he'd not read any of the papers he was quoting and they were all freely available at two alarmist websites. Bit Bitbucket is, shall we say, more impish and and hasn't yet found SkS, and ZDB is, shall we say, "weird" and in some respects sinister, like the "Woman Behind the Arrass." None the less we should welcome them all, else we'd become a self congratulatory echo chamber. Personally I'm not interested in their names, but I know others are, in my case I give the Bishop carte blanche to provide my name and email address to anyone who asks for it provided I'm copied on his response to the supplicant.

Oct 17, 2012 at 7:48 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Oct 17, 2012 at 2:00 AM | BitBucket

I have no connection with BBD. That should be obvious as he/she is clearly an expert (or perhaps a false expert); I am clearly not.

Please do tell, little bitty-one: since you are not an expert, how in Gaia's name did you manage to determine that BBD "is clearly an expert" [false or otherwise]?!

Unless, of course, you are speaking of BBD's well-honed "expertise" in derailing discussion by the grown-ups on any thread he chooses to pollute with his zealotry, his walls of text, his ad homs (and ad fems!) ... and/or his tiresome - and oh-so predictable - exercises in classic projection.

If, so I will readily concede that, relatively speaking, he is "an expert". But then he's had far more practice than you have ... well, at least more practice than you have while using your current chosen nym.

Oct 17, 2012 at 8:23 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Oct 16, 2012 at 5:56 PM | Richard Drake

To make clear I don't want us to assume the worst in all cases let's call type 1 the Orwell and 2 the Bourbaki.

First of all, thank you Richard, for sending me off in search of "Bourbaki" of whom I had never heard before. I know, I know ... how could I have lived so long and, until today, never heard of the Bourbaki?!

Back in the day, when I frequented the trenches of the newsgroup alt.revisionism, contending with the self-proclaimed "voices of reason and seekers of truth", more commonly known as Holocaust deniers, I encountered both types.

As I was reading your post I was reminded of the words of one of the very few articulate Orwells as he attempted to create a personna for himself. His words were something along the lines of ....

'On the Internet, we are not judged by our looks, our status in society, our credentials** or our expertise. We are judged solely by what we say.'

[**this was clearly in the days before many had ever heard of "climate scientists" ;-)]

He should probably have added that we are also judged by what we do not say. But perhaps that's because he lacked the intellectual honesty to acknowledge when he was shown (often by his very own words) to be wrong. He left a trail of "dangling conversations".

Like others, he used more than one nym; but (again like others) he was always easy to spot, because of his writing style - and his pet postulations and pontifications.

In some ways, I think this last point (particularly the "style") applies to the pseudonymically inclined (both types) and to those who use their own names, as well as to those who use a constant and recognizable nym.

So, to my mind - particularly here at BH - the style recognition is somewhat akin to recognizing the sound of a familiar voice and attaching a name to the voice.

It would be interesting to hear from some of the lurkers as to how they judge the words of various "speakers" here. But then if we did, I guess they'd no longer be lurkers!

Oct 17, 2012 at 9:43 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Richard, I'd like to join Hilary in thanking you for bringing Bourbaki into this - I had forgotten all about that intriguing phenomenon. I fear the blog-Bourbakis may make lesser contributions.

Just a quick comment: AlecM has had more than three handles. Ones I can remember as well as mdgnn and AlecM are Alexander, spartacusisfree, and alistair.

Oct 17, 2012 at 1:38 PM | Registered CommenterJeremy Harvey

Hilary, I do believe you are getting the hang of the "false expert" thing. Lesson 2, when I write it, will be titled "Introspection". You could do some homework in advance.

Oct 17, 2012 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Hilary
How are you on egg-sucking, grandma? :-)

Oct 17, 2012 at 2:58 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

BB

What did they do to you to make you like that?

Oct 17, 2012 at 5:50 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Thanks to everyone who's responded. I've had an interesting 24 hours during which I've heard that someone I greatly loved at school has died. I want to take time to process that.

But the Bourbaki story is fun. Don't miss Wikipedia on the man in whose honour the group was named:

His success in the war in Italy was second only to that of MacMahon, and in 1862 he was proposed as a candidate for the vacant Greek throne, but declined the proffered honour.

Bourbaki's work (or that of André Weil) on the surprising relationship between topology and number theory, in particular the Shimura-Taniyama-Weil conjecture on elliptic curves, paved the way for Andrew Wiles's proof of Fermat's Last Theorem, which I guess most people would have heard of.

I partly liked Bourbaki because of its French connotations, given that absurdist also calls to mind French thinkers of the same era, especially Camus, for whom I've also always had rather a soft spot.

But as Jeremy Harvey says (who shares a surname with the jazz trombonist I just learned has died, I just realised) the blog versions of any of this may be less inspiring.

HIlary's experience of the blog wars against real holocaust deniers is extremely telling. Not least that old cry "We are judged solely by what we say [not by our name]." As with so many things - yes and no.

I'll definitely have more to say about all this. People have already hit some of the points I wanted to suggest. One issue not yet raised: a subset of Orwellism is sockpuppetry. Anyone want to try for what distinguishes the general case for the specific (normally assumed to be bad)?

Oct 17, 2012 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Just a quick comment: AlecM has had more than three handles. Ones I can remember as well as mdgnn and AlecM are Alexander, spartacusisfree, and alistair.

Oct 17, 2012 at 1:38 PM | Jeremy Harvey

The one he favours on Jo Nova's blog is turnedoutnice. The question is why does he use all these handles? Part of it seems to be to get around moderation when his posts become too repetitive and are viewed as disruptive, as has happened regularly on BH. He clearly sees himself as a man on a mission without seeming to comprehend that to 'make a difference' it would probably be more effective to engage in open debate with scientific peers.

There may well be an an unusual degree of diffidence at play here, in the tradition of Henry Cavendish perhaps, in which case he should find a collaborator who is comfortable with the limelight in real life, if he wants his ideas to be given a thorough airing. I agree with him that the climate science peer review process is heavily biased towards the 'consensus', but then again with all the time and effort he has put into blog comments, he may well have got a paper or two up by now, even if accepted only by a less 'prestigous' journal.

I would not call mydog's behaviour Astroturfing, which is a deceptive form of propaganda for political purposes; he clearly believes he has the science right and wants to spread the word. From what I have seen Astroturfing is a proclivity predominantly of the activist left, who understood early on the opportunities provided by social media to convey a (usually false) impression of wide popular support.

From what I have seen the Bourbaki technique, a type of Astorturfing, is used only by alarmists, probably emanating out of green ngo's or activist groups. There was a recent case on Jo Nova where the same pseudonym was used for deliberate thread clogging, leading to their eventual ban. It was noticed that the posting style and apparent level of scientific comprehension varied between posts. When it comes to watermelon zealotry, it seems that any behaviour is deemed acceptable.

Oct 17, 2012 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Chris M: some useful points, a subset of which I agree with.

The question is why does he use all these handles?

Indeed. I can't find a good reason so I call him an absurdist - meaning he wants to make the debate absurd. He doesn't (in anything I've read) admit to using multiple handles. So when you want to bring anything up with the latest incarnation you have to think "Can I assume this is the same guy as before and how do I put that?" That's ridiculously paralysing and, for me, deliberately so, until proven otherwise, given what Jonathan and Martin have said about trying to figure out the guy even when for all we knew he was simply mydog.

Now who in this area wants to make the debate seem absurd? I saw them today in Whitehall, marching with their green hats as a publicity stunt. The debate is absurd, they tell us, meaning it's over, the science is settled and the anointed green policies must go forward, ever and ever, windmills and all, amen.

I don't use absurdist as a compliment, in other words, in this case. Perhaps you're right that it's better than that.

There may well be an an unusual degree of diffidence at play here

Not the way it comes across to me :)

From what I have seen the Bourbaki technique, a type of Astorturfing, is used only by alarmists, probably emanating out of green ngo's or activist groups. There was a recent case on Jo Nova where the same pseudonym was used for deliberate thread clogging, leading to their eventual ban. It was noticed that the posting style and apparent level of scientific comprehension varied between posts. When it comes to watermelon zealotry, it seems that any behaviour is deemed acceptable.

This is very helpful testimony, thanks.

Oct 18, 2012 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Back to a passage from Hilary. Maximum respect for the context but leaving that aside ...

As I was reading your post I was reminded of the words of one of the very few articulate Orwells as he attempted to create a personna for himself. His words were something along the lines of ....

'On the Internet, we are not judged by our looks, our status in society, our credentials** or our expertise. We are judged solely by what we say.'

[**this was clearly in the days before many had ever heard of "climate scientists" ;-)]

He should probably have added that we are also judged by what we do not say. But perhaps that's because he lacked the intellectual honesty to acknowledge when he was shown (often by his very own words) to be wrong. He left a trail of "dangling conversations".

My bold. That hits the nail on the head so hard it hurts. It's the missing words that are key to an absurdist. A simple courtesy like admitting one is using multiple pseudonyms rather than letting everyone guess. Participation in 'the community' as mystery at every level. Until someone like me writes something like this and you become cogent and focused, in limited areas, for a while, though always 'veering off on strange obsessions', as JJ puts it.

Many appear to find such eccentricity amusing. I sure wouldn't in discussion of holocaust denial. What about the subject matter here? How important is it? Is it just about the sales of popcorn, as they say?

I can't answer that. Each to his own. But I'm grateful for what Hilary said here.

Oct 18, 2012 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Some final thoughts, starting with this from Dely in April 2009, after discussing a tweet-storm at that time over 'censorship' from Amazon:

This whole event also brings to mind an ongoing debate I've had about the merits of trolling, which I define in its simplest form as "exploiting and demonstrating the weaknesses of online trust relationships".

I don't think I can better that definition. I thought it might help as I return for a third time to Hilary's articulate revisionist:

On the Internet, we are not judged by our looks, our status in society, our credentials or our expertise. We are judged solely by what we say.

Disconcerting as it may be to see them in the mouth of a holocaust denier there's great attraction for many in these words. I want to question how well we live up to them in practice but first I must say that the writer has a point. There is a wonderful ideal here.

That's why I chose Orwell and Bourbaki. How fitting that Eric Blair's words could be taken totally on their own merits, without reference to petty and distracting details about the author. Even more so, what deep humility was expressed by Weil and his collaborators, who let their brilliant individuality be subsumed for so long into something greater than the sum of its parts. (That's why they took the name of someone who turned down the offer to become King of Greece, or so the story goes. That will never not be worth meditation.)

Such values have been prized throughout the development of the Internet, not least by Ward Cunningham, the brilliant creator of wiki in 1995. At the very least they are important ideas that aren't going to go away.

But there's a problem. A few of them in fact. Wikipedia's history will cough up quite a few examples under only minimal interrogation. But I want to focus on just one that has I think affected us here. Despite the strong possibility of Orwells and Bourbakis, in the none-to-positive sense, we tend to take monikers like BBD as if they were real people and this means we get angry with them. And that's a fatal flaw. It's no longer 'solely what they say', our reaction is governed by strange stuff that happens inside when any of us feels let down in something extremely odd our reformed-troll-friend Dely calls a relationship.

Listen to someone I take to be unaffected by this in the case of BBD, Steven Mosher, otherwise known as Sherlock (literature's very epitome of reason without relationship?) This was ten days ago on Climate Etc:

Oh Captain, my captain. BBD righteously busted you. And you are handling it worse than Mann handled upside down tiljander.

Already one of my favourite blog posts of all time, not least because of the great allusion to Moby Dick. But ask yourself honestly as a BH denizen whether you think it possible for BBD to righteously bust anyone. For avoidance of doubt, I have the same problem. If so, we could miss the important mistake kindly pointed out by BBD and Mosh on that occasion.

Switching channels (for I've always considered BBD a bit of a Bourbaki, rightly or wrongly) think of some of the positives that came out of the discussions with mydog in the simpler days when there was only one bark in his biscuit tin. I know my top example right away: Martin A's inquiry on Science on Doom about how much the radiation laws were confirmed by known experiment. SoD's answer began:

Good and interesting question. I wish I had the complete answer.

Once I read that I knew we were all going to learn something important. That all came, in my generous view, from mydog's questioning.

You may think you detect a difference of emphasis in this post from previous ones. But of course I am being totally consistent throughout. The problems of online interaction run deep but the rewards can be great. I hope you feel you have more to chew on as a result of this thread.

Oct 19, 2012 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Great thread! It's given me much to think about, although the only thing I can add in the moment is a literary aside: the line "O Captain, My Captain" is actually a specific invocation of Walt Whitman's poem of that name. It is viewed as an elegy for Abraham Lincoln since it was written soon after his assassination in 1865 and was known to resonate with that event and the end of the US Civil War. In the poem the "Captain" is very dead and the 'trip' (US Civil War) is done:

Walt Whitman 'O Captain, My Captain'

p.s. Total aside, but if I may press my luck in BH indulgence of literary references, one of my favorite poems is another of Whitman's elegiac poems, also seen as in memory and honor of Abraham Lincoln:

Walt Whitman 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d'

It's very much 'free' verse which Whitman pioneered (although with distinguished antecedents), so not to everyone's taste, but marvelous in its own way.

Oct 19, 2012 at 10:12 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Richard,

I was sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, the memory of whom I hope will be a comfort to you.

But, I must say that I was pleased to read that my recollections of my experiences elsewhere had provided so much food for your thoughts :-)

In return, your summary, thus far:

The problems of online interaction run deep but the rewards can be great.

certainly strikes a chord with me.

Speaking of the problems ... I think we should keep in mind that they are not always attributable to the absurdists and others of the Orwellian ilk. We all have our blind-spots (well, all except me, of course ;-) ) which, when exhibited by someone one considers to be on "the same side" - for want of a better expression - can lead one to wonder: what on earth is s/he trying to prove?! And what did X ever do to Y to deserve such disparagement and lack of respect?.

One can take in stride such tactics from obvious opponents. But it can be disappointing - and disillusioning - when they emanate from the keyboards of those one considers to be among one's virtual friends and friendly acquaintances, whether known by name or by nym.

[Disclaimer: Lest I be misunderstood ... I'm speaking of experiences in the distant past, and observations of "battles" I've seen in the non-alarmist blogosphere, but not of anyone in this thread!]

Oct 20, 2012 at 8:36 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Skip: thanks for the correction. The Whitman allusion makes the Mosh even better.

Hilary: talking of the rewards of the blogosphere, Ed's death was the first time I've added to an obituary, except arguably on the afternoon of my father's funeral in March 2008. What an amazing privilege that is - but what a responsibility. I probably wrote too quickly this time. And that could be said on many other occasions no doubt.

Which re-emphasizes two vital points. One that of course you're right that both names and nyms can err greatly online and in doing so we can grieve those who admire or otherwise feel an affinity for us. Relationship is always more important than reason, just in case that wasn't already clear.

And second, playing games with identity and content online can be deadly. The strange spammer at the end of that thread about my father I could really have done without. Just checked to see if they were still there. The 'freedom' the internet brings - and the persistence thereof - is deeply flawed. But still we attempt to partake. Thanks again, deeply, for the way you tuned in to what I was trying to unpack here.

Oct 20, 2012 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Whatever the merits of Mosher's bons mots, BBDs sickening display of triumphalism over Captain Dallas's error (probably a minor one, from a broader perspective) reminds me just why BH banned him from this site. A very hard edge has developed in the comments of the warmist horde on Judith's blog in recent times, perhaps a sign that the CAGW endgame is upon us.

In a rare (my second ever) comment on Climate Etc. a month or so ago I expressed both my support for Judith's intent and my disgust at the partisan antics of some of her warmist/alarmist denizens, and vowed not to return, a vow I have kept. I was pleased that one of the more reasonable warmists, Joshua (a favorite of Judith's I believe), offered some solace as I departed.

If my unwillingness to countenance jeering animosity makes me a partisan as well (albeit not a very courageous one), I feel comfortable that at least I am on the side of the angels. As are all of us here who want to see an end to a blatant untruth, and a monstrously harmful distortion of public policy.

Oct 20, 2012 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Thanks to all posters, especially Hilary and Skiphil (I am a sucker for poetry).

It is certainly worthwhile to step back and reflect on these matters. One of the reasons I check the sites I do regularly (BH, WUWT, Climate Audit and a few others) is that they maintain standards of civility and relevance, with a bit of flexibility.

I do get annoyed with people who deliberately derail threads (not mentioning any names here) by trying to get us to follow them down every rabbit-hole that they point to - and then claim they must be right if people don't bite.

As for multiple identities - while I maintain anonymity for professional reasons, posters who try to scam readers by changing their names lose a lot of points in my book. Or, if they are not trying to deceive, why change their names? A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but why pretend to be a cabbage or a geranium?

Finally, can I put in a huge thank you to the hosts and contributors to blogs like this one. For example, the recent discussion on hydrogen fuel cell technology was both fascinating and informative. Average punters like me would not have had a chance to learn and think about that stuff at a nominal cost even 20 years ago. If that means we have to put up with a few overt and covert trolls, it is a small price to pay.

Oct 20, 2012 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

Chris M:

Whatever the merits of Mosher's bons mots, BBDs sickening display of triumphalism over Captain Dallas's error (probably a minor one, from a broader perspective) reminds me just why BH banned him from this site.

Sickening as it may be, who would you say on BH first complained that BBD was, for want of a better word, a troll - or a deep troll, as I began to call such characters? Whatever exception you may take to what I've written above I think that fact (and the reputation cost to such a person, using their real name, in the early stages, with something so slimy) should be mentioned.

Having said that, I couldn't actually point to the moment when our host banned BBD. Could you give a link? What reasons were given?

Whenever a critic is banned outright there is a potential loss, because we all need criticism, particularly of our deepest held convictions. But if the host has reason to think the moniker in question is acting as an absurdist - and I believed that about BBD from way back, though the word is new, thanks Tom Fuller - there is a much more difficult judgement call.

I first suspected BBD when, not longer after establishing himself as a strong and apparently intelligent voice here, he treated very roughly some humbler, more tentative people using their real names on matters that were highly debatable and not amenable to scientific argument. I felt increasingly that he wanted to snuff out the real name component of the debate here, so that he and his allies could more easily control proceedings. He wanted to discourage real people (and by that I include those using a nym in wholly good faith) and above all he wanted to divide us.

That's why I took careful note of the reactions of Mosher and Fuller to BBD on Climate Etc recently. It's no big deal that these two men should disagree on some detail, in fact it's a very good thing. But I believe, from the past, that BBD would be trying to stir up division in all possible ways and would be delighted if this difference between the very real-world co-authors turned into something deeper and longer lasting.

Which is, I hope you understand, a way of saying that I'm very sympathetic to your reaction as well, and the rest of what you say about Climate Etc. But that there may be more to it as well.

Including the fact that BBD will be right about some of the science and policy tradeoffs, he will spot genuine mistakes and that (despite all else) has some value.

Johanna's cost-benefit analysis at the end of her contribution is exactly right in principle. But I don't personally think we are dealing with the absurdists optimally - not yet. I think that if we learn to do that many more flowers will bloom in places like this.

Oct 20, 2012 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard

You have a point re picking up errors - but it goes both ways. I am no scientist, but have picked up errors in both BBD's and Bitty's posts. Neither has ever acknowledged that they were wrong - they just shift the goalposts and keep going.

Mind you, Mosher is the same. He is apparently infallible. A couple of times, I have questioned the premises of his work on UHI, and he just batted me off like an irritating fly - never even attempted to engage.

The people who earn my respect do so because they are prepared to honestly confront criticism or questions, and let the chips fall where they may. I care a lot less about what they are proposing than about how they propose and defend it.

In that sense, Alec/mydog etc is infinitely preferable to either Mosher or the B's. He's repetitive, but generally civil and more than happy to discuss. Can't for the life of me figure out what benefit he imagines from changing his moniker.

Oct 21, 2012 at 1:24 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Oct 21, 2012 at 1:24 AM | johanna

I am no scientist, but have picked up errors in both BBD's and Bitty's posts. Neither has ever acknowledged that they were wrong - they just shift the goalposts and keep going.

Mind you, Mosher is the same. [...]

Bingo! There certainly have been posting days when I have wondered if Mosher is a member of the (now that I know the term!) Bourbaki!

Johanna also notes:

The people who earn my respect do so because they are prepared to honestly confront criticism or questions, and let the chips fall where they may.

Bingo! Again, Johanna!

Seems to me that the BB's (and others of their ilk) just don't seem to place any value on the respect of their audience. Either that or - not unlike the arch-propagandist, Bob <fast fingers> Ward - they are so dedicated to their "cause" that they must delude themselves into profoundly underestimating the intelligence of their audience.

Oct 21, 2012 at 6:58 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Hilary

I think that the recent emphasis on changing people's thinking, enhancing 'communication' and so on is a turning point.

As a long term political junkie, I can attest that as soon as a failing government starts to blame 'poor communication' as the source of its woes, you know that they are on the way out.

It is scary, however, that people like Lewandowsky are being funded to undertake research that marginalises dissenters. CAGW seems to have given a fillip to previously discredited views about opinion and moral rectitude. There seems to be a whole new undergrowth of 'social' (fill in the blank) researchers whose mission is to prove that people who don't agree with them are deficient in some way.

Oct 21, 2012 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna