A Dogmatic Polemicist or Rhetorical Bomb Thrower?

By Keith Kloor | December 17, 2012 5:25 am

In a perfect world, people would not let their ideology warp their thinking. In a perfect world, people would not use screechy hyperbole to fulminate against those who don’t share their position on a given issue.

In a perfect world, James Delingpole, the flammable blogger for the UK’s Telegraph, would only be permitted to shriek about which brand of toilet paper he prefers.

Delingpole, if you aren’t familiar with him, is to libertarian conservatives in Britain what Michael Moore is to liberals in the United States. Both are shameless, crusading showmen. (In terms of influence, though, Moore–because of his movies–has had a much bigger impact). Both are nakedly partisan and as such, appeal to the most partisan members of their respective camps.

Delingpole has become well known for his rants against environmentalists and climate scientists. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t accept that global warming is real.

Delingpole’s incendiary, vitriolic writing entertains his fans and further polarizes the discourse on important issues, such as climate change. (He also revels in the revulsion he elicits.) Like most ideologues, he doesn’t recognize when he is being intellectually inconsistent.

For example, here’s the headline of a recent post of his:

On the stupid Lefty Luddites, green ideologues, and Guardianista pillocks opposing our glorious shale revolution…

You might gather from this that Delingpole is pro-shale gas and disdainful of arguments made against fracking. And you would be right.

As it happens, I think that anti-fracking campaigners are a bit reckless with their facts and prone to exaggeration. Kinda like anti-wind campaigners. Indeed, if there’s one thing that unites both of these antis, it is the use of dodgy science and alarmist rhetoric to advance their respective causes.

Not that Delingpole, an outspoken opponent of wind turbines (he calls them “bat-chomping eco-crucifixes”) and the author of this ridiculously overwrought, scare-mongering piece of propaganda in the Daily Mail, would recognize that.


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Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at http://www.keithkloor.com/

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets.From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine.In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest.He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


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