Great Barrington and Climate Denial

Google has been playing sillybruvvers with the Great Barrington Declaration – the on-line criticism by world renowned medical experts of current government policies on the Covid crisis. 

According to this article a Google search initially turned up, not the declaration itself, or an honest account of what it says, but hit pieces attacking it.

This seems now to have been corrected. When I looked, the first article was the declaration itself. What comes next varies according to how I enter Google, but I’m now getting this article from Byline Times second 

“Climate Science Denial Network behind Great Barrington Declaration”

and this Guardian article third.

“Herd Immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Johnny Bananas’”

Bing and Duckduckgo offer a more rational list of articles, including this one from Mike Hulme explaining why he’s signed.

The Guardian article and a similar one from the Independent use the fake signatures as an argument for not taking the declaration seriously, without having actually to address the points made.

“It is not clear how many of the names in the declaration’s list of experts are fake, or when they appeared. However, many scientists have already criticised the letter’s conclusions…”

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the Guardian and Independent that ‘Cominic Dummings’, ‘Harold Shipman’ etc. might be having a laugh at the expense of the Barrington scientists, or even trying to tarnish their name by persuading gullible people that the scientists are not serious people. And it works, because the Guardian and Independent seem to take these pranks as evidence that the scientists are not serious people.

If a Guardian journalist saw a swastika painted on a gravestone she would take it as evidence that a Nazi was buried there. 

The Byline Times accusation of Climate Science Deniers being behind the declaration is based on the fact that the Great Barrington meeting that led to the declaration was organised by the American Institute for Economic Research, “..an institution embedded in a Koch-funded network that denies climate science while investing in polluting fossil fuel industries.” And the evidence for this “embedding” is the fact that “in 2018, the AIER received $68,100 for General Operating Support from the Charles Koch Foundation.”

Could someone calculate what $68,100 would buy you, in terms of influence of the climate denial industry over the Great Barrington gathering? Airfares for twenty participants perhaps, plus enough fossil fuel to heat the conference centre? 

The author of the Byline Times article, Nafeez Ahmed, has about seventeen articles promoting conspiracy theories about British government policy on Covid 19. I haven’t read them yet, but they look interesting. His Wikipaedia page tells you about everything he’s ever written, plus everyone who’s ever agreed with him and everyone who hasn’t. 

He was also a Guardian environment correspondent for a short time. Looking at his articles here I can see why they dropped him. Titles like “The age of climate warfare is here. The military-industrial complex is ready. Are you?” seem a bit strong for the Graun. 

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October 11, 2020 at 10:09AM

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