On Denialism

Did you see Trump’s Coal Ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, say she believes “both sides” of the science on climate change? She and her husband, the Kentucky coal king, are major contributors to Trump’s campaign and inauguration. They also funnel money into his hotels, one of the major conduits of corruption flowing to the Trump Organization crime family. (His most fervent supporters in the Senate and House are also big spenders at his properties, with the pallid trollop Lindsay Graham as number-one bootlicker.)

Ah, “both sides.” Such inestimable damage corporate media has done with claiming to provide balance. 99.9-something % of the world’s scientists versus a handful of cranks is hardly balance. Of course, there’s rarely push back from the media to statements like Craft’s. Follow-ups like:

“Can you name one scientist or one peer reviewed study or one peer reviewed journal at all on the side that denies anthropomorphic warming?”

“Who actually makes up this side you also believe in?”

“What do you mean by “believe”?

“Or, put another way, how can you believe in two completely contradictory things at the same time?”

“Were you aware that scientists working for the oil, gas, and coal companies figured this all out half a century ago but their bosses chose to ignore them, bury the data, and fund the obscurantism and denialism you’re now peddling?

“Are you in the pay of the carbon industries …oh, that’s right, you are the carbon industry! Question withdrawn.”

Someone on their game — and Trump’s grifter scumbag crew are rarely on their game — might offer up the name of Bjorn Lomborg. But he doesn’t deny the reality of climate change, he’s just skeptical about what should be done about it.

I’m fascinated by the denialism complex. There’s the instrumental cynicism of the plutocratic funders of denialism, as they build their redoubts against radical climate transformations to protect their own, because they know what is coming. (I hear On The Beach will be remade in New Zealand instead of Australia.) There’s the denialism of Murdoch’s sluts; I don’t frankly know what they believe, but that’s immaterial; it’s what they perform. And then there’s the denialism of the serf-like supporters of denialism, parroting and serving their masters. Some of these folks have been brainwashed by religious and conspiracy thinking, which are not, after all, dissimilar. How well they fit the Trump cult.

Physics is complicated. The planet is complicated. The greenhouse metaphor, on the other hand, is not so complicated. But denialists aren’t looking at the evidence. They’re not actually making an argument against the science. They’re making an argument against science and rationality. They’re making an argument for rejectionist know-nothingism, militant stupidity, vicious irrationality. It’s all quite fascist, which is why it meshes so well with the Republican-authoritarian attack on democracy, as in the attack on the facts as we know them.

Check out Sarah Dry’s new book Waters of the World. There’s an absolutely fascinating century and a half of questioning, exploration, and experiment in the unraveling, per her subtitle, “of the mysteries of our oceans, atmosphere, and ice sheets.” A so very human achievement, flushed away by the epistemological nihilists.

3 Responses to “On Denialism”


  1. 1 alaspooryorick December 22, 2019 at 10:21 am

    “on the beach” saw the original version at 9, never forgotten. Waltzing Matilda.

  2. 2 Pamela P Anderson December 28, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    great blog entry.

  3. 3 KC February 10, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Nicely written! It’s aggravating that leaders endorse the status quo rather than work to make change.


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