Nontroversy feeds on empty, twisted brains. In this case, a general unfamiliarity with the language of scientific banter allows the "climategate" nontroversy to overwhelm the consensus on global warming. That consensus is built on literally hundreds of thousands of studies at this point; and indeed, the stolen emails contain a wealth of proof that temperatures are rising. Yet the media stovepipe magnifies, even invents, discrepancies and minimizes evidence, even as the ice melts.He describes 5 stages (here are the first three):
Viral Stage: The emails were posted on climate denial sites first. Note that nontroversy never begins in a neutral forum; the wingnutosphere is always the platform for launch. It is the vector of viral memes. This achieves two objectives: (1) it produces the maximum spread of this "news" before anyone can rebut or debunk it, and (2) reinforces Teh Librul Media™ meme with every passing hour that CNN, ABC, CBS, the NYT, et al fail to screech in chorus.Then there's:
Larval Stage: Faux Noise -- the right-wing media world that includes both the Daily Mail and Fox News Channel -- runs the story. Scientific literacy is eschewed in favor of banner headlines, forming a feedback loop with the wingnutosphere.... Note that (1) right-wing media is still responsible for spreading the nontroversy, and (2) Teh Librul Media™ meme is ever-present. Indeed, the wingnutosphere demands it.We can include Richard Mellon Scaife's circle-jerking Op-Ed page in this stage, of course. Next:
There is still no actual science in the discussion. Nontroversy always focuses on the human factor and implies the worst.
Pandemic Stage: "Liberal" mainstream media organizations now run the "facts" and narrative pre-established by the right wing noise machine as one side of a controversy.This part should be familiar to anyone who followed the "controversy" regarding the conflict between Evolution (ie science) and Creationism/Intelligent Design (ie not-science).
In its effort to show "both sides" and report that controversy, the one thing CNN does not report is the actual science of climate change. The public is left with the impression, however unjustified, that scientists have probably done something wrong, and denialists are given exactly the "fair hearing" they don't get from scientific journals.
It's a good read.