Monday, September 21, 2009

Seen Any Brown Astroturf?

Astroturfing is the cynical creation of artificial grassroots movements to achieve political and/or corporate aims. It is a bigger phenomenon in the US than the UK, but I'm sure we still get plenty of climate change denial astroturfing under the radar.

Take George Monbiot's blog in the Guardian. He goes out of his way to provoke the denialosphere and every online post immediately fills up with denial comments. The commenters obviously aren't your average everyday Grauniad readers and you see that many of them are spotting right-wing dweebs just waiting for Monbiot to makes his move before they shout 'Aha!' and start typing furiously. But spotted in amongst these are a strange brand of faux-naive comments like "I came at this with an open mind, but when I looked at the science I couldn't believe how skronky it was."

Let's be clear - almost no-one who looks at the science with an open mind finds fault with it - because most of it is fact and the rest reasonable interpretation of the evidence collected and analysed and checked over many decades by thousands of people. So what made this anonymous poster think he could see gaps where the great minds of science can't? That word 'skronky' looks like a US spinmeister's creation to me and is at odds with the personal authority he claims.

It appears that the same old tactic of 'don't debate the substance, just spread uncertainty' is alive and well. This was the tactic used by the GW Bush administration and the Global Climate Coalition for many years to avoid the brutal facts their scientific advisors were telling them. Beware of astroturf...

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