Jargon Watch: Agnotology

Source: Climate Progress

Many people are wondering these days about the surprising success of climate change deniers; toss a few feet of snow on the ground and even democrats, who seemed more susceptible to the climate change message, start backing off. What is happening?

Odograph points us to the term Agnotology, "a neologism for the study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data."

Evidently it is all our fault for exaggerating the situation. Or, perhaps it is like the Stanford University Professor who coined the term, Robert Proctor, said about the tobacco industry, quoted in Wikipedia:

A prime example of the deliberate production of ignorance cited by Proctor is the tobacco industry's conspiracy to manufacture doubt about the cancer risks of tobacco use. Under the banner of science, the industry produced research about everything except tobacco hazards to exploit public uncertainty.

Certainly you cannot blame people when their own government's Environmental Protection Agency waffles over the causes of climate changes when they advocate insulating your home:

The Earth's climate has changed many times during the planet's history, with events ranging from ice ages to long periods of warmth. Natural factors such as volcanic eruptions, changes in the Earth's orbit, and varying energy from the Sun have affected the Earth's climate. Beginning late in the 18th century, human activities associated with the Industrial Revolution have also changed the composition of the atmosphere and therefore very likely are influencing the Earth's climate.

In most of the world, liberal and conservative parties agree that we have a climate change problem and usually differ only in the degree of aggressiveness in dealing with it; there are deniers aplenty, but they are a small minority on the sidelines. Only in America is the issue so politicized. Only in America do you get the personal attacks on people like Al Gore, and such stark divisions as shown on the graph above.

Lets hope that with this new administration the rhetoric and divisiveness will get toned down, the comments more civil, and the Agnotologists will be shown the door.

More at Climate Progress about the Deniers winning.
The Deniers are winning, but only with the GOP

More on TreeHugger on Denial:
Where Have All the Climate Deniers Gone?
10 Headlines We Hope To See in 2009
Perfect Gift For Climate Change Deniers by Nathan Martell
John Tierney Denies Everything in the New York Times :
Where Have All the Climate Deniers Gone? :


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