Wednesday Weirdness, Denier Hypocrisy

This post is obviously a bit mistitled due to today being a Thursday. I had planned to post it yesterday, but I managed to break the cord on my keyboard and didn't get it replaced in time to get the post finished for yesterday. I would have re-titled the name, but I couldn't think of a synonym for "weird" that worked with Thursday. I'd be happy to take any suggestions for future posts.

Anyway, as readers will know, on Monday I encountered some strangeness at Watts Up With That when the proprietor of the site decided to delete one of his comments without any indication to hide the fact he had made an embarrassing mistake in telling me I was wrong in my criticism of one of his posts. As he's since explained, he intended to reinstate his comment shortly after in an edited form to correct his mistake, but he got distracted so he didn't:

Brandon, I’d planned to clarify that in an edit, But got distracted with phone calls before I could edit it to be correct for the context.

Now personally, I think that's an incredibly shady practice. I don't think a person should use powers reserved for moderators to try to cover up mistakes you make. He apparently thinks otherwise. He sees nothing wrong with it, to the point he did it again almost immediately afterward.

That's not what's weird though. What's weird is during the discussion of this issue, he decided to defend statements like:

It appears the President is the denier in chief.


People familiar with Watts Up With That will know the site has frequently complained about the use of the word "denier." Anthony Watts himself has done so many times, such as in this post where he compared it to the "n-word":

We’ve known for sometime that there’s an underlying, sometimes overt display of hatred towards climate skeptics. However, it generally never made it into science publications. Unfortunately, the editors of the journal Nature Climate Change just made one of the ugliest decisions ever with the publication of the Bain et al letter. One wonders though, if this were a study about… say, attitudes about racism, would the Nature Publishing Group allow things like the “n-word” in the graph and text? I think not.

Said it was associated with Holocaust denial:

In case anyone thinks the word isn’t rooted in offensiveness, I’ll remind you of the syndicated column that gave the use of the word the big push:

I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future. – Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe, February 9, 2007 “No change in political climate” on the Wayback Machine here

Called people hypocrites for complaining about similar Nazi references while using it:

Of course, we’ve stopped using “SS” (another well known reference to Nazi Germany) to refer to the website Skeptical Science, but proving himself a hypocrite, Skeptical Science contributor and editor Dana Nuccitelli has not returned the favor, and continues to be snipped here at WUWT for using the word. The word also continues use at Skeptical Science on a daily basis. It seems this is a common problem with AGW advocates, they have no sense of fair play, only dogma and thinly veiled hatred for people who disagree with their position.

And said he was "shocked" people would endorse the use of the word:

I was shocked to learn that Nature has apparently endorsed the use of the word “denier” which is deemed offensive by many people in the climate debate due to it being associated with Holocaust denial thanks to a widely syndicated opinion column in 2007

These views have been long held for Watts. I won't bother to survey the whole history of his site or public engagements, but this is from the introduction he wrote to another post he ran from several years earlier, in 2009:

This comment was sent to me in case it was not posted at all or in it’s entirety over at Climate Progress. It wasn’t, so I’m repeating it here because I think it is relevant to the discussion that Dr. Judith Curry started. From my perspective, the best way to begin to foster understanding is to stop using labels that degrade, and that goes for both sides of the debate.

The comment sent to him reasonably said:

Judith Curry wrote “I reserve the word “deniers” for people that are explicitly associated with advocacy groups that are politicizing this issue…”

I reserve the word “deniers” for people that explicitly reject the history of Jewish extermination in wartime Germany.

When I see anyone legitimize the term “denier” in the context of this debate, an alarm bell goes off – “this is not a serious person”.

To do so is to commit an unforgivable devaluation of the historical relevance of the word “denier. It’s a rhetorical tactic unworthy of anyone who wants their scientific credibility to remain above reproach.

Watts clearly rejects the use of the word "denier," saying it is an offensive word with connotations of Holocaust denial. He says labeling people in ways which degrades them is harmful and hinders discussions. And yet, just a couple days ago, he runs a post titled, "An Update On The Real Deniers." There's no way a post with that title should have been allowed to run, especially not when it begins:

Denialism is defined as “the practice of creating the illusion of debate when there is none.” In climate the problem is those who label others deniers are the real deniers. They don’t even acknowledge there is a debate to deny.

Hello?! What happened to not using the word "denier"? What happened to not labeling people in ways which degrade? Where were those repeated complaints when this post said things like:

Even the Pope denied the deniers by excluding them from his climate conclave...
Sadly he doesn’t know enough to know who the real deniers are...
Either way they are the real deniers.
Here are just a few, but sufficient to expose the deniers.
The phrase “cherry-picking” is all too familiar to those following the history of the real deniers.
Logic says it’s those who want to stifle debate, to silence individuals and groups, who are the real deniers.
It appears the President is the denier in chief.
Further proof of who the real deniers are is found in...
In the case of the real climate deniers, they ignore the demonstrable facts and compound their denial by changing the record.

I'll tell you where: Nowhere. Not only did Watts not complain, nobody else complained either. Nobody said a word. Apparently everybody at Watts Up With That, who have spent something like ten years complaining about how wrong it is to use the word "denier," decided it was cool to start using the word "denier" now because they were the ones doing it. Or at least, that's how Watts explained it:

Perhaps Brandon can’t understand Dr. Ball’s definitional use of the term in his essay, in a “turnabout is fair play” sense, complete with references, which wasn’t done with any pejorative intent (i.e. “stupid deniers”, “oil-funded climate deniers”, “Koch shill deniers” and dozens of other pejorative uses that we have to suffer daily) because Brandon was blogging today while impaired?

That's right. According to Watts, I must be drunk or stoned to think it is wrong to call people deniers.

Seriously. It's okay for "us" to call people "deniers" because we're the "good guys" folks. There's no "pejorative intent" to it. We're not trying to insult anyone when we do it. We're not labeling anyone with the intent to degrade. We're just using the word in a "definitional" manner. And if you don't get that, you must be drunk or stoned.

Because we're not being insulting, at all. We're being purely definitional here. There is no negative connotation to our use of the word "denier." And when the author of this piece, Tim Ball, wrote another piece a couple years ago where he said:

Those who knew how much climate changes naturally were those previously called global warming skeptics. They now became climate change deniers with all the holocaust connotations of that word.

He really meant "climate change deniers" have "all the holocaust connotations of that word," not that "deniers" have "all the holocaust connotations of that word." Because the word "deniers" is cool folks. It's fine to use it. Have it at. Call anyone you want a "denier."

Except climate change "skeptics." Don't call them deniers. Call them deniers, and you're a terrible person making Nazi references. Nevermind if they call you deniers. They're allowed to do that. Just like how they're allowed to insult you by making Nazi references. And if any of this seems unreasonable to you, you're probably just a pill-popping alcoholic like me.

Now pardon me while I go drink a forty with my homeboys I have to remember I can't call the "n-word" because I'm white.

Sept. 11, 12:10 PM Update: Since Anthony Watts decided to look through my Twitter feed to find something to use to insult me, I got curious to see when the last time condemned the use of "denier" on Twitter was. I've seen him do it a few times on there, and I considered spending a little time checking. Then I decided that was lame and a bit creepy so I didn't. It turns out someone else already had posted a tweet though, over at the messed up Hot Whopper blog, and I thought I'd share the tweet here. Because really, it's too rich:

37 comments

  1. With all due respect this thus seems to have degenerated into mountain out of molehill stuff. Your last example is a perfect one: You acknowledge your homeboys would not take it well if you used the N word with them. Nevertheless we know that it is common AND ACCEPTABLE among homeboys, among themselves, to call each other the N word. Thus N has different meanings and appropriateness scales depending on context. Here you criticize the use of the word denier whenever it is used and under all contexts; yet WUWT actually DEFINED the word and the context in which he was using it: the denialusm of creating the illusion of debate.

    Yes Brandon, he did use the word BUT HE WAS CAREFUL ENOUGH TO ACTUAKKY DEFINE WHICH MEANING IF THE WORD (many words have many meanings and he specially stated the meaning he was using). Brandon both context and definition matter. response

    WUWT actually went out of his way to ensure he was not using the climate argument meaning of the word.

    Two things: You seem to be stretching to have a fight with Watts and thus you ignore the clear fact words can have various meanings and that WUWT carefully defined his use of the term to not have the climate connition you put on it.

  2. I apologize about the numerous spelling mistakes. I inadvertently hit "send" (actually "done") before I got a chance to proof it.

  3. Jimrjbob, I think your bias is causing a severe reading problem which shows through rather well here:

    With all due respect this thus seems to have degenerated into mountain out of molehill stuff. Your last example is a perfect one: You acknowledge your homeboys would not take it well if you used the N word with them.

    Seriously? What part of the phrases "drink a forty" and "my homeboys" made you think that sentence was serious? I have never said "drink a forty" or "my homeboys" in my life, save when being facetious. There is nothing in anything I have ever written which would remotely suggest I would use those phrases in a real sentence.

    What's next, am I going to put on some bling, drop some dope beats and speak truth to powah? My ghetto slang can go only so far before the joke becomes too stupid to be funny. So for your whole idea that:

    Nevertheless we know that it is common AND ACCEPTABLE among homeboys, among themselves, to call each other the N word. Thus N has different meanings and appropriateness scales depending on context. Here you criticize the use of the word denier whenever it is used and under all contexts; yet WUWT actually DEFINED the word and the context in which he was using it: the denialusm of creating the illusion of debate.

    They're not trying to "take back" the word denier like was done with the "n-word." They're not trying to turn it into a label they can make their own. They're clearly still using it as a pejorative. The phrase "denier in chief" was obviously meant an insult. Your idea this is somehow like what black people did with the racial slur is ridiculous and insulting to black people.

    Black people took a derogatory label assigned to them and turned it into a matter of pride. The WUWT crowd took a derogatory label assigned to them and assigned it to other people. There's no comparison.

    As for your claim:

    Two things: You seem to be stretching to have a fight with Watts and thus you ignore the clear fact words can have various meanings and that WUWT carefully defined his use of the term to not have the climate connition you put on it.

    I'm not the one who spent the better part of a decade crusading against the use of a word in all forms then turned around and used the word myself. Anthony Watts didn't condemn the use of "denier" for the last decade in one connotation. He just condemned it. He doesn't get to turn around after ten years and say, "Oh, well now that I want to use the word, what I really meant for the last ten years of crusading was..."

    Because guess what? The exact use you're claiming Watts is defending now? That's the same use people have been claiming to be using for the last decade. They've been claiming to just be using the word the way it is defined. That never satisfied Watts. Why should it satisfy the WUWT crowd now?

    The obvious answer is it shouldn't, but it will because tribalism overrides all reason.

  4. Anthony Watts, for whom I have a lot of respect, should set an example and not use a word he has called others out for using.

    Pretty simple in my book. Do as you say, say as you do.

    This whole debate should be about the science. Yet time and again it has degenerated into a clash of personalities and ad hom attacks.

    All this over the value and impact of ECS! Who would have thought!

  5. Kozlowski, one thing I will say for Anthony Watts is he didn't write that post. Tim Ball wrote the post. That's the same Tim Ball who wrote a post making Nazi references to insult people not too long ago, which Watts had to apologize for (which I mentioned and linked to in this post). Watts could easily have just said Ball crossed over the line again and that would have been that. There would have been no hypocrisy on his part at that point. There would have just been the question of why Watts lets Ball still write posts at his site when Ball keep doing stuff like this.

    But instead, Watts defended Ball's post. That means even though Watts didn't call anyone a "denier" himself, he defended the post which called people it. Even worse, he went with some pretty personal attacks against me for criticizing the post for calling people deniers (it's worse if you read his remark in context). That means he not only thinks it's okay to call people deniers, he thinks it's inexcusable to challenge his site when it does so. The hypocrisy is staggering.

    As you say, this is pretty simple. If you tell people not to call others deniers, don't call people deniers. If you tell people not to use labels that degrade, don't use labels that degrade. But despite how simple that is, not a single person commenting at WUWT criticized it or complained about what it did here. And as far as I know, nobody other than me has spoken out about it anywhere else. It's like the "skeptic" community is just not going to say a word about it.

  6. As a matter of policy, comments which contain nothing but copies of or links to other content with no original contribution are considered spam. Please refrain from making them.

  7. It is not all that unusual for "skeptics" to use the term "denier" in a derogatory manner to refer to those who disagree with them about climate change. Judith Curry has done it. There have been numerous comments over at Climate Etc. where "skeptics" joke about who the "real deniers" are.

    I have commented on it numerous times, for a couple of years at least.

    While I wouldn't say that there aren't ANY "skeptics" who are authentically offended by the term "denier," - because they really feel it is a holocaust reference - IMO, more often than not, the "outrage" expressed about the term comes from a desire to self-victimize as a part of the identity-defensive and identity-aggressive behaviors that result from the tribal nature of the climate wars.

    My reasoning is thus: Most of the "skeptics" who I see expressing offense to the demeaning connotation of "denier" turn right around and use polemics themselves, like "alarmist," at the drop of a hat (and often defend the use of that term in the exact same way that "realists" defend the use of "denier" - by saying that using the term is just fine because it's an "accurate description.") IMO, if someone is truly offended by the use of polemics, then they would not then turn around and use polemics themselves.

    Just to be clear, I'm not defending the use of the term "denier." It seems rather pointless to me - and IMO it relies on fallacious reasoning. You can't know whether or not someone is a "denying" something simply because they have stated a particular belief. As always, use of polemics tells you more about the user than the target; it tells you that they engage in facile thinking.

  8. Joshua, has Judith Curry done this as well? I'm sure I've seen people do things like this before, but I can't recall anyone noteworthy doing it. I might have just missed it, but it seems so ridiculous. How can anyone who condemns the use of the word "denier" turn around and call people deniers?

  9. Joshua, has Judith Curry done this as well? I'm sure I've seen people do things like this before, but I can't recall anyone noteworthy doing it. I might have just missed it, but it seems so ridiculous. How can anyone who condemns the use of the word "denier" turn around and call people deniers?

  10. Brandon -

    "curryja | October 14, 2014 at 5:45 pm | Reply
    Yes, they confuse extreme weather events as being caused by anthropogenic global warming. I would call them extreme weather deniers – they seem to be in denial that these are caused naturally."

    I've asked Judith about her use of that term a number of times, but she hasn't responded.

    IIRC, there have been other occasions when Judith has participated in discussions on the issue of "Who are the real deniers"- where "skeptics" are discussing which is the most appropriate polemic (including "denier") to use to describe those that they disagree with about climate change. tt would be a tough search to conduct, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it.

    And clearly, there is ubiquitous use of polemics by "skeptics" to describe those who are less concerned about the outcomes of ACO2 emissions than they. As much as Judith has expressed concerned about the use of polemics to describe "skeptics," I don't ever recall seeing her object to a "skeptic" at her site using polemics in that fashion - despite the frequency of the occurrence. As an example, apparently she wrote a forward to one of the ebooks that Rud promotes endlessly - and Rud calls people "warmunists" in, I would guess, multiple comments at her site per week on average.

    I point out the double-standard frequently on her blog. Sometime the response from her commenters is on the order of..."they did it first," or "they do it too," "their polemics are more polemical than ours," or "but we're only using an accurate term because they really are alarmists, they really are indifferent to children starving due to lack of energy access, they really are totalitarians who want to destroy capitalism," etc.

  11. Brandon -

    ==> "but it seems so ridiculous. How can anyone who condemns the use of the word “denier” turn around and call people deniers?"

    That kind of behavior is, IMO, the norm in the climate wars. It should be expected when people are identified with groups on one side or the other of polarized issues. It's representative of the general double-standard w/r/t behavior. It's always amusing to see a "skeptic" or a "realist" respond to an ad hom by saying how you can always tell whether someone is a "skeptic" or a "realist," respectively, by virtue of their use of ad homs (e.g., "The reason why "alarmists"/"deniers" like you always use ad homs is because you can't make any scientific arguments in support of your opinions.")

    IMO - behaviors that are so common aren't "ridiculous," really. I see them as indicative. Indicative of the underlying mechanisms of human psychological and cognitive attributes. We all have a natural tendency towards applying double standards when they become identified on an issue. I would imagine that practically no one is immune to the habit on occasion. It's unfortunate that more people aren't accountable for when they fall into such a behavior pattern - but it is to be expected, IMO. So the question is how to best proceed with discussing climate change knowing that: (1) that behavior is commonplace in polarized contexts where people are identified with one "side" and, (2) people won't likely acknowledge it.

    Discussing how to proceed given the ubiquity of identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors is interesting discussion, IMO, but perhaps best left for another time.

  12. hmmm.

    The thought just occurred to me that even though I said that I don't think that behavior is ridiculous, I do often ridicule that behavior...

    ...I"m going to have to think about that a bit.

  13. Joshua, I believe I've made it clear I disagree with a lot of what you call double standards. In case I haven't, I'll just state it again here; I think you're way off base in a lot of your criticisms of people. I think a lot of your criticisms are opportunistic and hypocritical, and I don't think that's something I could possibly hope to make progress on resolving here.

    That's why I'm asking about specifics. I don't think there'd be anything to be gained from discussing past topics in general, but we could certainly deal with the specific issue you described - Judith Curry using the word "denier." If she's labeled people deniers (other than possibly those people who "deny" global warming), I wouldn't hesitate to call that hypocritical of her. Even if she's just participated in discussions with people who did it, I'd say it's pretty hypocritical of her.

    You don't get to condemn the use of a word then use the word yourself. You don't even get to condemn the use of a word then tolerate the use of the word when convenient.

    Unlike what you seem to be describing though, you do get to condemn the use of one word while using or tolerating the use of other words which serve similar purposes. That's not hypocritical. It may not be ideal behavior, but it can be perfectly consistent. You just have to pick a standard and stick with it. If that standard happens to be, "No Nazi/Holocaust references," then so be it. That's not the standard I'd adopt, but it's certainly a minimum one I'd expect of people.

    IMO – behaviors that are so common aren’t “ridiculous,”

    As your next comment may suggest you're realizing, this isn't a good standard for determining what is and is not ridiculous. I long ago decided the world is insane. I suspect the ridiculous and insane is actually quite commonplace.

  14. ==> "As your next comment may suggest you’re realizing, this isn’t a good standard for determining what is and is not ridiculous."

    No, that's not what I'm "realizing," Brandon.

    I'm thinking about why I ridicule behaviors that I don't think are ridiculous.

  15. Ah, my apologies then Joshua. I don't know why you'd ridicule something if you think it's normal behavior.

  16. Brandon -

    "Normal" adds a connotation that I'm not particularly inclined towards.

    The behaviors are commonplace. They significantly characterize much of what I see in discussions about climate change (and likewise in other issues that are polarizing along ideologically-oriented identity fault lines). Pretty much everyone does it at one point or another (some more than others, of course).

  17. Well, I'm not sure what you'd prefer to call it. If you can think of a different word you'd prefer, I'll use that instead. In the meantime, you say it's not ridiculous, and it's the "norm" in these exchanges. Normal seems about as good a word as I can come up with for it.

  18. I think it's obvious that most of the high-traffic "climate debate" sites divide into true-believer ideological camps & are therefore pretty much worthless for anything beyond propaganda.

    But I don't think you absolutely need a broader ideological context for this kind of blue-vs-green stuff. It seems to arise from a human tendency to factionalize over just about anything, really. You can probably find on-line door-knob collector communities riven by bitter faction over things which would be completely opaque to an outsider.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nika_riots

    Amusingly (?), the tiny world of formal logic within which I did my postgrad work was like that.

    Broad ideological baggage gets attracted to these rifts, but doesn't necessarily cause them.

    Kudos to Brandon for fighting the factional tendency, whatever the mountain-vs-molehill balance.

  19. Szilard, for what it's worth, I don't know how much credit I deserve for not joining in factionalization. In high school, a classmate of mine pointed out it's easy to never get caught up in the drama between various groups if you're not welcome in any of the groups. It made me aware of the important question:

    Am I not tribalistic because I'm not welcome in any of the tribes, or am I not welcome in any of the tribes because I'm not tribalistic?

  20. ==> "Broad ideological baggage gets attracted to these rifts, but doesn’t necessarily cause them."

    IMO, it is likely that both the ideological polarization and the identity-oriented behaviors are associated with the same "causes" - which are the human tendency towards identity affirmation (which is carried out through identit-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors), and the pattern-finding attribute in how we make sense of the world. In other words, it is more that ideological baggage (of any particular type such as AGW is/isn't risky, Obama is/isn't a foreign-born Muslim, etc.) is a moderator/mediator on the relationship between identity affirmation and the "human tendency to fractionalize."

  21. Isn't the word being used here to point out the irony that some of the people shouting "deniers" are literally in denial? It seems to me he is just deflecting a nasty insult. In that context I'd say your point is debatable. But even if I fully agreed with you, you're just pointing out that nobody's perfect.

  22. JamesNV:

    Isn’t the word being used here to point out the irony that some of the people shouting “deniers” are literally in denial? It seems to me he is just deflecting a nasty insult. In that context I’d say your point is debatable.

    And if we accept this idea, then for the sake of consistency we'd be forced to the accept labeling of "skeptics" as "deniers" on the basis they are literally in denial. Or at least, that some people believe they are and thus say they are. But that's clearly not the reason "skeptics" were labeled deniers, and it's not the reason Tim Ball used the word here. I don't know why people pretend the use of the word denier in phrases like "denier in chief" was simply definitional. I guess some people will just defend basically anything, as long as it on the right "side."

    But even if I fully agreed with you, you’re just pointing out that nobody’s perfect.

    Uh... no. Not even close. If the largest "skeptic" website runs posts calling people deniers while simultaneously decrying the use of the word denier, that says far more than, "Nobody's perfect." If thousands of readers and hundreds of commenters can read the post without taking issue with it, that says far more than, "Nobody's perfect." If not a single person in the skeptic blogosphere speaks up to condemn the use of the word denier when it is used by so-called skeptics, that says far more than, "Nobody's perfect."

  23. JamesNV:

    Isn’t the word being used here to point out the irony that some of the people shouting “deniers” are literally in denial? It seems to me he is just deflecting a nasty insult. In that context I’d say your point is debatable.

    And if we accept this idea, then for the sake of consistency we'd be forced to the accept labeling of "skeptics" as "deniers" on the basis they are literally in denial. Or at least, that some people believe they are and thus say they are. But that's clearly not the reason "skeptics" were labeled deniers, and it's not the reason Tim Ball used the word here. I don't know why people pretend the use of the word denier in phrases like "denier in chief" was simply definitional. I guess some people will just defend basically anything, as long as it on the right "side."

    But even if I fully agreed with you, you’re just pointing out that nobody’s perfect.

    Uh... no. Not even close. If the largest "skeptic" website runs posts calling people deniers while simultaneously decrying the use of the word denier, that says far more than, "Nobody's perfect." If thousands of readers and hundreds of commenters can read the post without taking issue with it, that says far more than, "Nobody's perfect." If not a single person in the skeptic blogosphere speaks up to condemn the use of the word denier when it is used by so-called skeptics, that says far more than, "Nobody's perfect."

  24. People have called me a denier. I've had no problem objecting to the term while pointing out the irony that they are denying plain, undisputed facts. So I'm not sure what the big deal is.

    I was going to say that maybe "denier in chief" is a little over the top. But thinking on it, if the "leader of the free world" is using John Cook's paper to help justify dehumanizing skeptics...

  25. JamesNV, I hope you don't object to them calling you a denier on the basis that using the word "denier" is offensive then call them a denier. That's what this post is about. You refer to saying "they are denying plain, undisputed facts," but there's a significant difference between the words "denying" and "denier."

    The point of this post is very simple. A ton of skeptics complained and complained about being labeled "deniers," saying it was horribly offensive due to the Holocaust connotations. Then WUWT ran a post calling people deniers, and nobody complained. That's wrong. You don't get to say something is horribly offensive when the other side does it then say its okay when your side does it. You don't even get to say something is horribly wrong when the other side does it than just keep quiet when your side does it. Doing so makes you a hypocrite.

    Incidentally, I'm pretty sure Anthony Watts knew I was right. I think he just wasn't willing to admit it. I could be wrong about that, but he's now banned the use of the word "denier" in blog posts at his site. It could just be coincidental timing (he apparently did it in response to the AP handbook saying not to use the word), but I think it's pretty remarkable just a couple weeks after I point out his hypocrisy on this issue, he takes steps to put an end to it.

  26. No, I don't mind objecting to the term while pointing out the irony that they must be, by their own definition, "deniers".

  27. To me : the explanation seems quick despite the massive amount of time Brandon put into it
    It's simply a question of Context and nuance

    synopsis : WUWT's people raise a storm about people using the word "denier", then in ANOTHER CONTEXT the use it themselves... and them Brandon shouts "Gotcha you hypocrites !"
    No it's 1# different context , and it's also 2 different nuance.

    Context 1 Public Debate : You can't use name calling to win a public debate cos that is just the fallacy of ad hominem and the fallacy of poisoning the wells.
    So in IMPARTIAL places like on the BBC, NPR etc. you don't want to preload the debate by allowing such terms as "denier" or "eco-nazi".
    Similarly the news staff of impartial media should be using neutral language as to avoid preloading reporting.

    Context 2 A Climate Activists discussion forum or Skeptics forum or private blog : These are NOT neutral/impartial territory its people's own PARTISAN territories so if as a form of shorthand people want to use words like activist, denier or eco-nazi to describe their opposition I think that is OK.

    Context 3 Debaters visit the oppositions territory : And try to win a debate by throwing around the word denier or eco-nazi
    then that is not acceptable ..That's the 2 logical fallacies from above

    Context 4 On their own forum : Skeptics use the words back at their opposition as in the WUWT page to point out the hypocrisy eg. "pause denier". Or activist use the word "alarmist" back at skeptics in a post about the waste of eco-subsidies, against to point out hypocrisy that's OK.

    NUANCE : There is a difference in throwing around words deliberately to insult or poison the well, versus using it jokey way or truthful way.

    That is the main problem with the word denier ie that it is not used in a truthful way, cos activists never explain what the skeptic is denying : they know full well mostly that most skeptics are not denying the greenhouse effect, nor that temperatures have risen.
    But in the WUWT piece the writer does take care to define what he thinks the "real deniers" are denying.
    The word does have a proper meaning beside an insult so even in context 1 like on the BBC you can use a word like denying as long as use you use it in a truthful way and explain what they are denying.

    So it is wrong to suggest as Brandon seems to that the word "denier" is always bannned from WUWT ..no it depends the context or nuance.

    One more context

    Context 5 the public discussion areas of media : Some media might allow almost 100% freespeech including the right to offend, cos #1 It normally reflects badly on the one throwing out insults, #2 Those insulted have the space to respond, which is different from live on air, with no response time. So you don't have to set moderation based on the words denier or eco-nazi.

  28. StewGreen, that's certainly an... interesting attempt to excuse extremely poor behavior. I'm glad it's not one Anthony Watts or anyone else I've seen running a blog has ever offered. In fact, while you say:

    So it is wrong to suggest as Brandon seems to that the word “denier” is always bannned from WUWT ..no it depends the context or nuance.

    Shortly after I made issue of this, Watts actually banned the use of the word "denier" as a label for other people in blog posts on his site. So not only does it seem Watts doesn't agree with your attempt at justifying this sort of behavior, it seems he doesn't even allow this behavior like you claim he does.

    Which I suspect is because he finds it as disgusting and hypocritical as I do but wasn't willing to come out and say so. So instead, he found an excuse to ban it shortly after I pointed out the hypocrisy of his site's position on this issue. I suppose it is possible that was just an amazing coincidence though.

    The reality is using disgusting labels for your opposition is wrong whether it is in private or in public. It is even wrong if they used the same label for you first.

  29. @StewGreen made an assertion
    "So it is wrong to suggest as Brandon seems to that the word “denier” is always bannned from WUWT ..no it depends the context or nuance."
    @Brandon made an assertion
    \\Watts actually banned the use of the word “denier” as a LABEL for other people in blog posts on his site.//
    That does not contradict my assertion.
    If it true that means it is banned in one context CONTEXT#1 (as I labelled it) ie using it as an insult.

    @Brandon further asserted
    "So not only does it seem Watts doesn’t agree with your attempt at justifying this sort of behavior, it seems he doesn’t even allow this behavior like you claim he does."
    Well, does WUWT allow the word denier to be used in other contexts? : YES
    To verify that go to Google type : site:wattsupwiththat.com denier , then click webtools /time to set the results to the last 24hours or 1 week ..and you will see pages of results link

    @Brandon asserts "The reality is using disgusting labels for your opposition is wrong whether it is in private or in public."
    this contradicted by the way he himself throws terms around like fraud, dishonest, lie, liar, Crackpots and Lunatics, loons.
    Is it really true that you never categorise a group of people with a label they don't like ?

    I am sure some activists use the term denier cos they mistakenly believe ALL skeptics use really deny something that know to be true, instead of just being a handful of skeptics.
    On skeptic forums we use phrases like alarmists, "true-believers" as we believe they are descriptive and it's quicker than saying "people who take a quite alarmist stance on climate change" ..although in impartial media I think they might not allow such labels.

  30. I'm sorry, but are you seriously suggesting words like "crackpot" are disgusting labels on par with "denier," which is said to be a reference to Holocaust deniers? That is ridiculous. Not only is there no comparison, words like "crackpot" and "liar" don't even refer to a specific group of people like "denier" has been used to.

    As for context and nuance on the use of "denier," the only reasons my comment doesn't contradict yours is people need to be able to discuss how other people refer to them and WUWT doesn't ban the use of many words at its site. Other than that, the use of the word "denier" is not allowed there. As in, Anthony Watts has explicitly said no author there may call anyone a denier when writing a post for the site - directly contradicting your portrayal.

    That they can still point out people call them deniers doesn't somehow make what you said true.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *