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Shut up, they explained

01 Feb 2023 | News Roundup

An outfit called the Council of Canadian Academies was just paid handsomely by the government to say people should not disagree with the government and the government should consider punishing them if they do. Which is a bit scary. And very relevant to our mandate because the Canadian government is working on an online censorship bill and this report it paid for mentions “climate” 137 times in 185 pages (and another 109 in the references section) and in its “Summary of Main Findings” it says “the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has explicitly acknowledged the role politically endorsed misinformation plays in limiting climate action”. So it’s a plot, and the state must smash it. For your own good, you understand.

The report begins, as these things will, by saying “The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) acknowledges that its Ottawa offices are located on the unceded, unsurrendered ancestral home of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation, who have cared for the environment of this territory for millennia.” And naturally on that point there are not two or more perspectives, just a catechism of dogmatic truths. As with its identification of the policy setting:

“We face unprecedented and layered collective challenges: climate change, environmental degradation, pandemics, inequality, colonialism, racism, threats to democracy, war.”

But not inflation, high taxes, the breakdown of the family or any of that nonsense. Or that politicians lie a lot, something that virtually all normal people regard as beyond dispute and harmful. Instead the “Message from the Chair” (a former senior Canadian public servant and a sociologist and left-wing activist) winds up with:

“More fundamentally what’s needed are policies that yield less inequality and more democracy, and a politics that seeks to heal our divisions rather than exploit them.”

And to get the healing started we’ll accuse anyone who disagrees with us of being a misinformed stooge. Thus for instance:

“Those who were misinformed about COVID‑19 also reported lower support for action in other policy areas where misinformation can hold influence, including climate change, addressing systemic racism, and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples (EKOS, 2021).”

And the solution couldn’t be more patronizing if the report were Babylon Bee satire:

“As misinformation has become entwined with identity and ideology, some politicians have amplified it to build their political coalitions. Misinformation and division are locked in a vicious cycle that needs to be broken. Rebuilding trust, once lost or broken, is a difficult, long-term process, but a number of strategies have proven to be helpful. These include improving direct access to academic research; communicating research accurately and conveying uncertainty where it exists; and carefully selecting the messenger and the medium to reach diverse audiences most effectively.”

We are inclined to think that improving peoples’ access to research, communicating accurately about its findings and uncertainties, and assessing the credibility of the government’s messengers tends to weaken peoples’ trust in governments because it inevitably exposes their untrustworthiness. Though it's not strictly true that the report ignored politicians. It had a lot to say about how bad right-wing ones are. For instance “The language of values and morality can be used by politicians as framing devices to further alienate and polarize political discourse (Lakoff, 2014, 2016).” So there’s the settled science on that point. Morality is evil.

As to climate, well, they’re all over it:

“the Panel has broadly examined the nature and impacts of science and health misinformation in three areas where there is robust evidence:
• Vaccine hesitancy
• Health and wellness (e.g., nutrition, genetically modified (GM) food products, alternative medicine)
• Acceptance of climate change (as well as desire and actions to combat it)”.

And they warn that:

“Catastrophic events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the droughts, floods, and wildfires exacerbated by climate change, underscore the need for reasoned, evidence-informed decision-making at both the personal and public level.”

The evidence, one presumes, does not include what even the IPCC and similar agencies really say about “droughts, floods, and wildfires” which is that the trends are not clear and in many places run opposite to alarmist slogans. Which is probably part of the conspiracy in which “A key misinformation tactic in the climate change debate has been to exaggerate scientific uncertainty” and alas “The long history of climate change denialism and doubt-mongering continues to influence policy.” Is “doubt-mongering” a scientific term, or the raving of activists?

We say the latter, since the report also raves that:

“targeted misinformation campaigns have played a documented role in creating opposition to policies addressing climate change and the widespread and increasing human and economic damage it is causing.”

Naturally opposition to climate policies has nothing to do with the way they cause energy costs to soar and energy sources to become unreliable. No, it’s a plot by the sinister right-wing deniers who secretly control all the governments, universities, media and corporations, and who cleverly disguise their control by always speaking in alarmist slogans and implementing all the plans of climate activists.

The report even singles out the “Calgary-based Friends of Science” for a good rubbishing on the grounds that “It is difficult to trace the funding sources behind Friends of Science, but the fossil fuel industry is among its contributors (Montgomery, 2006; Gorrie, 2007)” while ignoring poor old CDN. Of course if we were secretly in charge of the world, that’s just the sort of thing we’d say to avoid raising suspicion.

So who do they like? Well, the usual suspects. Like those poor misunderstood souls at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit with their misrepresented, entirely innocent “Climategate” emails. And one of the peer reviewers they thank is none other than John Cook, who is not just “Assistant Professor, Center for Climate Change Communication” at George Mason University and the main author of one of the most tendentious and statistically unsound efforts to prove a scientific consensus but is also referenced favourably in the actual report 38 times, so there can be no question as to his capacity to review the document dispassionately.

Well, we can’t discuss all their claims, even to underline their obsession. But we can say that you know where it’s all going:

“Public policies, including legislation, can play an important role in mitigating the negative consequences of science and health misinformation and exist on a continuum from persuasive to coercive.”

So don’t say you weren’t warned, including by them. Coercion to toe the party line is part of the plan. After all of which it takes some gall for them, in “The Challenge Ahead”, to declare that:

“The Panel recognizes that speaking up against misinformation, particularly online, often invites vitriol, harassment, and threats of violence. This adversarial environment points to broader societal challenges, such as increasing polarization, social fragmentation, and the growth of harmful ideologies that pit one group of people against the ‘other.’”

Which we at the CCA would never do, except when it’s, you know, “them”, the deliberate liars and polarizers who challenge the government position to foster inequality and racism and the destruction of the very planet they’re on. Because after all the science is clear:

“Trust-building endeavours that expand beyond the community – such as improving access and delivery of social services, including mental healthcare, as well as addressing issues of economic inequality and systemic racism - are long-term efforts, with implementation and impacts measured across generations.”

Left wing good, right wing bad.

Lorne Gunter, who notes that the CCA “has received nearly $55 million in federal funding since 2002 for ‘independent’ assessments of science” (but we deniers have all the money, though not its staff of 30 for some reason) quoted the report that “some journalistic norms contribute to misinformation, such as the tendency to present both sides of a debate … artificially creating a false balance even in cases where the science is conclusive.” But, Gunter asks, when is the science ever fully conclusive? An essential part of scientific process is the constant testing and questioning of “conclusive” knowledge.

At least, it used to be. Back when it was also true that whichever side was currently winning a debate, on policy or on science, didn’t get to blow a whistle and declare the game over. Back when it was understood that lots of ideas, like that we should not treat people badly on the basis of their race, were distinctly unpopular when first articulated and that censorship is a tool of the obtusely oppressive not of the enlightened and kind.

Ban that thought.

10 comments on “Shut up, they explained”

  1. Academics are always right, the government is always fair to all, all spouses are faithful, every child is innocent, and every crime has a justification, your bank will always give you a break. The universe is pink and puffy with no sharp corners. In other words life is idyllic if you only believe. Dogma forced down our throats by government propaganda, our schools, movies, and even comic books.

  2. Does anyone really know what disinformation and misinformation really is? It’s obvious to me that Trudeau and the Liberal government don’t, they are just as one sided in their thinking as the ‘peoplekind’ they accuse of being offside. Trudeau must have been delighted when his socialist buddy Jacinda told New Zealanders they must only believe what the government tells them, nothing else, and while you’re at it, do not leave your home, do not talk to your neighbour and report on family, friends or strangers that you see out and about defying what we say. Talk about trustissues! What has Trudeau and the federal government done to earn our trust. In life it takes a lot to earn someone’s trust but mere moments to lose it. Partisan government is the least trustworthy group to force public policy via legislation.

  3. Left-wing academics (the term left-wing is pretty well superfluous nowadays) always seem to hurl the words misinformation and disinformation at anyone not unthinkingly in agreement with them. This attitude is symptomatic of people who are fundamentally unsure of their facts and can only survive by insisting that anyone who disagrees with them is ipso facto wrong and must be silenced. Poor things.

  4. This site while very valuable and informative preaches to the converted. It has little if any impact on politicians, including those of the Conservative party of Canada. If the government is going to penalize dissent, including knowledgeable thought out dissent it should start with penalizing the CBC. Here is part of my ongoing complaint addressed to the CBC ombudsman, Mr. Nagler. For us to have an impact on this issue we need to reach politicians. A good start is to send official complaints to one of the government's climate change propaganda arms, the CBC. Here is part of my complaint, please follow up by issuing your own .

    Hello Mr. Nagler, I hope you are well and please understand that I know how difficult your job is.

    Recall that the last missive you sent me following my complaint on how CBC covers so-called climate change stated that, paraphrasing, "should you hear anything inaccurate on climate change coverage by the CBC send me an e-mail". This was a nice gesture; regrettably, however, I would literally have to contact you weekly with complaints. I have refrained from further complaints in the past two years or so since we communicated as it is evident that the CBC, or you, are not going to do anything about such complaints and simply do not understand that you are being irresponsible by promulgating this agenda. Please do not give me another 'argument from authority' type of response, as you have in the past and to which I fully responded. No credible scientist, not even the IPCC, will tell you that we are on the way to extinction, or a climate catastrophe. The data clearly show that there are no more, or stronger, hurricanes than in the past, that the sea level is not rising any faster than it has been, that the arctic (historically a highly variable climate) is warming due to CO2 emissions, or that Canada is warming faster than the global average (a very silly and highly misleading statement). There are no more droughts than in the past, nor more rainfall, etc. What is certain is that we experienced a medieval cold period and a rise of temperature since then is to be expected. Additionally, on a longer time scale, we are in an inter-glacial period and likewise temperatures are expected to increase, until they begin dropping again. That too is certain and unarguable. When that happens, and should we still be around, that will be an existential crisis. The satellite record shows an increase in temperature from the 'cold' seventies until about 2000-2002 and no significant change since. The fluctuations around a baseline are very small of the order of +/- 0.2. C, except for peaks and troughs due to El Nino and La Nina that can reach +/- 0.5-0.6 C. Such deviations would go unnoticed if plotted as absolute temperatures, they would be referred to as 'noise'. These deviations do not drive climate, they are what are known as outliers (deviations from a mean) in probability and statistical theory. To determine the right mean or baseline of temperature is no easy feat and so in climate studies whatever is chosen is basically arbitrary. There is no stationary mean earth temperature, nor will there ever be. Our climate is of the continental type and it will remain so for a long time to come. Coconut and olive trees will not grow in our country anytime soon. For the CBC to incessantly keep telling Canadians that the climate is warming and changing is simply propaganda, not fact based and fact checked journalism. I attach the essay I wrote for your consideration some two years ago. Please forward it to Ms. Laura Lynch for her education and ask if she would like to debate me on the matter. She can have any guest along to help her, say the likable Michael Mann (the climate alarmist not the very good film director ).

    What finally motivated me to write this complaint was another stupid 'Radio Noon Montreal' show today (look it up and listen to it). Despite my complaint some two years ago and a long discussion with the show's producer after your intervention, nothing has changed with this show, or at CBC in general. In fact, things got much worse, especially with Laura Lynch's new show 'What on earth', it should be taken of the air, period. It is highly biased and irresponsible, scaring Canadians witless and justifying increased cost of energy to the detriment of the not so well off and in the end to the benefit of the very rich. Do ask Ms. Lynch to investigate where the Carbon tax is going, what useful purpose it serves and what tangible results it has provided.

    Another irresponsible, biased show lacking balance in perspective and critical insight on so-called climate change is Bob MacDonald's "Quirks and Quarks' (McDonald is not a scientist!). This show has been on the air for far too long with no improvement in format, it is mostly boring, does not teach Canadians about real science, or what is good science.

    Here are some facts on the issue which are not disputable:
    There is no way to know for certain that the mean earth temperature has increased by the often mentioned 1 C since the mid nineteenth century. The statistical uncertainty is at least as big as the estimate. There were not sufficient thermometers distributed evenly across the world. Therefore, any estimate from what was available requires interpolation, which requires a model and hence assumptions. The nature of the landscape has also changed considerably since then, making comparisons moot. And so-called proxy data are also moot at best. Only satellite data are reliable, but these only started in late 1979 (see my essay, a version of which can be found here https://climatediscussionnexus.com/2019/10/16/dont-tell-greta/ ).

    To understand climate and the climate change debate you need to be well educated in the following subjects matters.

    Atmospheric physics and thermodynamics and radiative heat transfers.

    The mathematics of linear and nonlinear dynamics.

    Mathematical modeling and numerical methods.

    Multivariate data analysis and signal processing.

    Absorption and emission spectra of molecules, such as CO2.

    No one at CBC has such an education, dare I say, and consequently the CBC should not promulgate that which it cannot understand. What you are doing is irresponsible, meaning justifying high cost of energy, economic decline and misleading the public that there are so called green economically and ecologically viable solutions in substitute to fossil fuels, no way.

  5. DrC,
    You ought join Dr Robson’s staff as a writer. A well written and enjoyable post. If it all weren’t so serious with real threat to life, i would be guffawing my way to the next piece

  6. Forgot to include kudos for the piece. It was painful in the quotes and is wreaking havoc with my attempt to enjoy the day (unusually cold here in Houston, suspect global cooling)

  7. This supposed independent report is really frightening!!! It is not even trying to disguise it”s call for censoring and completely eliminating any form of debate! Including political issues! Sponsored by “ Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED)”. Our Federal Government in action. WOW!!! What is also frightening is these “Morally Superior Thinkers” don’t realize the mechanisms and actions they are saying should be put in place to eliminate opposition to the current Government dictates can be used against them in the future! In Canada there is not a nut bar right wing leader ready to pounce on them given the chance but things can change in a blink of an eye. The left political representatives have veered so far to he extreme left that even a centrist politician is seen as “Far Right Extremist” if they don’t agree with them!

  8. In the fall of '21 I was accused of spreading disinformation for quoting figures on a U.S. GOVERNMENT website!

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