Conspiracy theories are out to get me

They are seriously everywhere. Came across this hair-raising letter in Matt’s New Civil Engineer (this lot publish their addresses – you can’t fault them for courage of their convictions or trust). It’s the latest in a to-and-fro over recent issues.

Global warming: is there enough evidence for a war?

Published: 20 August 2008 15:36 |  Last Updated: 20 August 2008 15:36 | Reader Responses

Brian Hanson, in supporting the case for anthropogenic global warming (AGW), refers to “impartial” scientific research (Letters last week). And there’s the rub.

Because virtually all those connected with the IPCC, and many other climatologists, are directly or indirectly in the pay of governments committed to AGW theory, and interested only in research results that support it. Impartial scientific climate research under these circumstances is about as rare as impartial intelligence assessments were in the case of the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. And any governmental employee who has studied the contrasting career paths of Sir John Scarlett and the late David Kelly will surely know on which side his or her bread is buttered.

It is therefore vital to search out such truly independent climate scientists as may exist, and ensure their research results are publicised and their views heard.

While conservation of fossil fuel resources is surely important, whatever position is held, some other policies currently propounded may actually make matters worse rather than better if the scientific basis is uncertain.

Even AGW enthusiasts frequently include “could” and similar weasel words in their forecasts – witness the three uses of “could” in the short paragraph setting out Rajendra Pachauri’s views in your recent editorial (Comment, 24 July).

JOHN HOUNSLOW (F), 18 Peacock Close, Downend, Fareham, Hants, PO16 8YG

I can only scratch the surface of what is wrong with this but my questions are broadly as follows. What war? How does he explain the international consensus among governments comprising the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change that the AGW theory holds water? Why should we assume that the politics of scientists funded by democratically elected governments override their commitment to finding out the truth? David Kelly is most famous for winding up dead – is this what John Hounslow is getting at? Why is “could” a weasel word when used by a Nobel Prize Winner attempting, to the best of his human ability, to predict the future?

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8 thoughts on “Conspiracy theories are out to get me

  1. Classic obfuscation. Ignoring the consensus. Spewing weasel words and vague non-references while claiming some shadowy bias. But then what more could you expect from a section called “Have Your Say”? The IET is no better, I bet.

  2. Oi! I’m a member of the IET. In fact I’m a “Fellow” but don’t let on.
    A while back in the members section of the website there was a poll on Nuclear Energy which gave a resounding thumbs up. Mind you it was in the Energy section sub section Nuclear so a pretty biased and vested interest group I’d say.

    I’m pleased Flesh, that you revere engineers with beards containing livestock!

  3. As someone who believes that *everything* should be subject to question, I find it astonishing when people write off all conspiracy theories. For every Area 51, there is a gunpower plot. For every David Icke, there is a Jasper Maskelyne. Assuming that all unlikely theories aren’t true, just because some or most of them are mad, is very foolish. It’s also bad logic.

    Here are some interesting things that loosely come under the umbrella of conspiracies:
    http://www.gatecreepers.com/workspace/library/50%20Things%20Youre%20Not%20Supposed%20To%20Know%20-%20Russ%20Kick.pdf

    And if you haven’t seen this particular huge conspiracy theory, then I recommend it. If nothing else, it puts a very different perspective on what caused the first world war:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8957268309327954402&ei=CnW4SOn3PIXEqQLV643SBw&q=the+history+of+oil

    If you can bear it then I’d also recommend:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1656880303867390173&ei=WnW4SPmaC5SirgKQtqXfDA&q=freedom+to+fascism

    (the income tax aspect is overplayed – it gets *really* mad towards the end)

  4. I think you are broadly right. That’s why when I’ve talked about conspiracy theories here I’ve always engaged with them and posed questions. I haven’t looked at the above yet but I trust you buddy. Well, I think I do. 😉

    So, how do you propose separating the credible from the vexatious? Is anybody actually interested in helping the group of people who tend to be the ultimate, buck-stops-with target for vexatious conspiracy theorists?

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2008/08/30/quinn-protests-im-talking-about-zionists-not-jews/

  5. Having had the pleasure of reading the series of letters (if only I kept them you could see them all) on climate change in New Civil Engineer which was kick started from an editorial
    (http://www.nce.co.uk/opinion/2008/07/climate_change_is_here_we_can_no_longer_ignore_it.html)
    there would appear to be a larger proportion of us who think that it is real and is something we can/should do something about.

    In fact a number of the leading engineering consultancies have set up ‘carbon management’ teams and there is much kudos to be gained from designing sustainable buildings.

    However engineering (especially of the civil variety) does contain more than it’s fair share of small c conservatives so this letter is not a surprise but it wil be interesting to see the reaction next week – perhaps I will bow to pressure for another guest blog (there is none by the way except see comments below).

    Bear in mind we as a profession still proudly rely mainly on late 19th and early 20th century technologies (reinforced concrete and structural steel) so there will be those who are slow to catch up with the consensus.

    As for conspriacy theories my first questions are always

    what could the motivation be? Climate change in particular seems difficult to stomach as a global conspiracy.

    Is it credible the x number of people could conspire with no REAL evidence getting out? A secret is only really a secret when only you know it.

    Do governements and other large organisations demonstrate that they could competently manage such a conspiracy? I tend to think not.

    By the way flesh I know this means more pressure to write about the 9/11 truth lunatics and I will get to it one day.

    If we are all confessing what we are members of I am a member of the http://www.ice.org.uk/

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