Down there in the comments, one of the bunnies, Louise, quotes a comment from Willard Tony's blog of ill repute which is trying to freep the Lewandowshy poll, to establish once and for all that those who deny human's having a major effect on climate are not conspiracy junkies
WUWT is attempting to replicate the survey, some of the comments are particularly amusing:Eli is an old beast who grew up in the culture wars of the 1950s only to emerge full eared as the paranoid style in American politics took the Republican party by the throat and threw out the progressive wing of the party (and there was one, mostly in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest). Viewed through these lenses, the uproar about Stephen Lewandowsky's (some of the links here) paper is deja vu all over again. With one simple substitution the start of Richard Hofstadter's observations about the Goldwater capture of the Republican party in 1964 is an iron law today
"the warmists will be discussing this secretly" - wot, you mean a conspiracy?
"I won’t be completing the survey. Here’s why. First, I strongly agree with several of the conspiracy theories, (secret services assassinate people – that’s their job) and I don’t want that fact being used to dirty the name of scepticism." - Hmm, again, not a conspiracy believer?
"Also, I would note that not all “conspiracy theories” are wrong, and not all conspiracy theorists are whack-jobs. Almost noone believes the lone gunman and magic bullet theories of the JFK assassination"
"I, like many sceptics, accept that fossil fuels are having an influence on the climate but I also believe that its influence is exaggerated by “scientists who wish to spend more taxpayer money on climate “research””. "
American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the tea party movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wind. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.The conclusion is, again, something that could have simply been copied into the Lewandowsky paper
Of course this term is pejorative, and it is meant to be; the paranoid style has a greater affinity for bad causes than good. But nothing really prevents a sound program or demand from being advocated in the paranoid style. Style has more to do with the way in which ideas are believed than with the truth or falsity of their content. I am interested here in getting at our political psychology through our political rhetoric. The paranoid style is an old and recurrent phenomenon in our public life which has been frequently linked with movements of suspicious discontent.
This glimpse across a long span of time emboldens me to make the conjecture—it is no more than that—that a mentality disposed to see the world in this way may be a persistent psychic phenomenon, more or less constantly affecting a modest minority of the population. But certain religious traditions, certain social structures and national inheritances, certain historical catastrophes or frustrations may be conducive to the release of such psychic energies, and to situations in which they can more readily be built into mass movements or political parties. In American experience ethnic and religious conflict have plainly been a major focus for militant and suspicious minds of this sort, but class conflicts also can mobilize such energies. Perhaps the central situation conducive to the diffusion of the paranoid tendency is a confrontation of opposed interests which are (or are felt to be) totally irreconcilable, and thus by nature not susceptible to the normal political processes of bargain and compromise. The situation becomes worse when the representatives of a particular social interest—perhaps because of the very unrealistic and unrealizable nature of its demands—are shut out of the political process. Having no access to political bargaining or the making of decisions, they find their original conception that the world of power is sinister and malicious fully confirmed. They see only the consequences of power—and this through distorting lenses—and have no chance to observe its actual machinery. A distinguished historian has said that one of the most valuable things about history is that it teaches us how things do not happen. It is precisely this kind of awareness that the paranoid fails to develop. He has a special resistance of his own, of course, to developing such awareness, but circumstances often deprive him of exposure to events that might enlighten him—and in any case he resists enlightenment.
We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.and what better exemplars of this style exist besides Lucia and
A final characteristic of the paranoid style is related to the quality of its pedantry. One of the impressive things about paranoid literature is the contrast between its fantasied conclusions and the almost touching concern with factuality it invariably shows. It produces heroic strivings for evidence to prove that the unbelievable is the only thing that can be believed. . . . . .But respectable paranoid literature not only starts from certain moral commitments that can indeed be justified but also carefully and all but obsessively accumulates :evidence.” . . . . . The paranoid seems to have little expectation of actually convincing a hostile world, but he can accumulate evidence in order to protect his cherished convictions from it.and, of course we have the Heartland Institute and the NIPCC reports:
The higher paranoid scholarship is nothing if not coherent—in fact the paranoid mind is far more coherent than the real world. It is nothing if not scholarly in technique.As anyone living in it knows, the real world is messy, people are, well messy, which is why, for the purposes of the thing Eli much prefers being a Rabett
Finally a word of caution implicit in Hofstadter's writing. The entire essay is to be read, and to be read again every so often when the political world descents into the mire of conspiracy. The central theme, that the paranoid style originates with a perceived loss of control, is key, the warning is not to go down that path, and there are times that those of us trying to inject reason and scientific observation into various arguments are all too tempted (and sometimes succumb) to tit for tat, it being wearisome to keep knocking the moles down.