Let them eat fake

By Phil Plait | April 6, 2010 8:00 am

I wish I had thought of the title of this post, but I have to give credit to the wonderful Rachel Maddow. I happened to catch a few minutes of her show while on the road the other day, and although it made my blood boil, I watched the entire segment, which is now online:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In her segment, Ms. Maddow talks about the out-and-out lying being done by so many right-wing media outlets, in this case about ACORN and Climategate. As I have been saying many times, the far right in this country have been beating the pulpit to a bloody mess with their distortions and noise-making. They will do or say just about anything to distract people from the real issues. As long as people are scared to death by this noise, they won’t think about issues, they’ll react to them.

Elizabeth Kolbert — gotta love that name — has an article in The New Yorker on a similar theme, saying how the sturm und drang over Climategate is much ado about nothing, an overtrumped, overhyped, and breathlessly hyperbolied mountain crafted entirely out of molehills. I have said exactly that myself. Twice. And as I expected when I posted those articles, there was a huge amount of noise, but the points I was making — the ones I was actually making, and not the ones denialists tried play up — still stand. The hacked emails did not show widespread conspiracy by climatologists, and in fact a parliamentary committee that convened to investigate the hacked emails cleared scientists of all wrongdoing.

I’ll note that the far right doesn’t own the copyright on this; the far left has its share of antireality. The alternative medicine movement is a fine example of this. But the right is the one currently making the most noise. I agree with some of the basic tenets of Republicanism — I’d prefer a small government over a bloated bureaucracy, and I believe in fiscal responsibility — but the GOP as it stands now is a far cry from the roots of its party. I think the unholy (so to speak) alliance it curried with fundamental religion a few decades ago has led it to the antireality stance it has today. And either way, and from whatever direction, the noise machines are in full swing.

We’ve seen this over and over again, and it will continue for as long as the media allow it, and we allow the media to allow it. I’m really glad Ms. Maddow and The New Yorker called them out on it. The blogosphere does what it can, but until the main stream media take this issue on, I fear that most people won’t see the man behind the curtain.

Global warming is real. Evolution is real. Vaccines do not cause autism. Homeopathy doesn’t work. These are facts, and they don’t care whether or not denialists spin, fold, and mutilate them. Until we face up to reality, however, they will spin, fold, and mutilate us.


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