David Fiderer

David Fiderer

Posted: December 20, 2009 09:31 PM

Holocaust Deniers, Global Warming Deniers, Chris Wallace: Any Difference?

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Oftentimes that phrase is used -- Holocaust deniers. But the Holocaust was a historical fact. We're talking here about science, and science usually welcomes opposing views.
- Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chris Wallace acts very much like the Holocaust deniers he derides, working hard to confuse any distinction between fact and fraud, opinion and lies. He and his Fox News cohorts have relentlessly touted the journalistic travesty known as "climategate," the 2009 equivalent of the notorious Leuchter report. Just over 20 years ago, Fred Leuchter took some chemical samples from the Auschwitz gas chambers, noted the absence of an iron compound, Prussian Blue, and argued the absence of that chemical proved the absence of cyanide, ergo the Jews must have died of disease, not gassing. Real scientists provided the evidence that discredited Leuchter's findings; they showed that cyanide could exist without Prussian Blue. In other words, Leuchter's irrelevant data point, taken in isolation from a mountain of scientific data, proved nothing. The Holocaust deniers retorted that Leuchter's critics were not conducting a free and open scientific debate. We've heard this kind of dishonest sophistry before, from people who question whether smoking causes cancer, or that HIV causes AIDS.

And on Sunday December 13, we heard it from Chris Wallace, who said science usually welcomes opposing views. Not quite. Science doesn't welcome crackpots who persist in pushing discredited falsehoods, or those who deceitfully conceal facts that refute their own agenda. It does not welcome someone like Wallace, who concealed from viewers any reference to the Associated Press story exposing "climategate" for what it was -- a few irrelevant data points, taken in isolation from a mountain of scientific data, that proved nothing. The AP does fact checking. Fox News does not, which is why it had no qualms about touting a sham story for three weeks.

Wallace suggested those who berate the global warming deniers must be driven by some kind of religious fervor. As he told Don Imus:

Well, look, the climate warming thing is pretty interesting. One of the things I love is that people who don't believe it, and look, I'm not smart enough to know whether it's true or it isn't true, but are called deniers, like this is a religion. And they're denying a fact.

I mean, science is science. And supposedly strong science accepts the idea of skeptics and particularly a science like this that is not -- that is not -- well, I suppose that the Al Gores of the world would say it is totally proven, but it doesn't seem to be proven. And, you know, climate- gate is an example of how this has become kind of a religion. And people who are skeptics about it, I think it's fair to call them skeptics, but to call them deniers ascribes a certainty and a kind of religious certainty to climate change that I don't think exists.

Global warming "doesn't seem proven" to charlatans like Wallace, who artfully twisted the concepts of "science" and "religion." He wants viewers to think oxymoronically, because he wants them to think that Al Gore's criticisms are irrational and unfounded. Science is based on observable phenomena that are repeated with mathematical reliability. The reliability may be 100% -- the sun always sets in the West -- or it may be less than 100%, as with the efficacy of certain cancer medications. But it's something that everyone can observe and agree upon. Religion is about what cannot be seen or mathematically tested. It goes far beyond the scope of science, which could never prove or disprove the existence of a just and loving God. Global warming deniers are like the people who deny that bacteria causes disease, not like those who deny the Papal infallibility. They are the opposite of "skeptics," because they refuse to make an honest effort to consider and weigh evidence.

Anyone with a cursory knowledge of physics knows that the case for global warming is as certain as death and taxes. The December issue of National Geographic illustrated this point beautifully. It said, "It's simple, really: As long as we pour CO2 into the atmosphere faster than nature drains it out, the planet warms. And that extra carbon takes a long time to drain out of the tub." Specifically, most of the CO2 generated in the 20th century was absorbed neither by plant life nor the oceans; and it will remain in the environment for over a century, and continue to absorb the sun's heat, driving up atmospheric temperatures even if we dramatically cut back on carbon consumption.

Wallace's false insinuations dovetailed with Fox News' Climate Quiz: How Much Do You Know?, which intersplices science with right wing propaganda. Each question is prefaced by the famous slogan, "You Decide," as if, you decide whether humans walked the earth with dinosaurs.

As you would expect, a lot of the answers to the quiz are dishonest: "Are global temperatures rising?" Answer: "Coin toss." A coin toss means the probability is 50%, i.e. no more likely to true than to be false. That's the pseudoscientific approach of Fox News. If there's any small variation in the long-term trend, no matter how insignificant, then it's not a trend; it's a coin toss. Winston Churchill smoked and drank and lived till 90? Your neighbor never smoked and died at 48 of lung cancer? Then, in the bizzaro world of Fox News, the connection between cigarettes and longevity is no more than a coin toss.

That particular answer is pretty compelling evidence that Fox News wants to brainwash its audience. As Scientific American explains, almost none of the global warming deniers actually challenge the notion that the earth's temperatures are rising; they only dispute the notion that the cause of the rising temperature is man-made. A coin toss?

"Is climate change man-made?" 
Answer:"Coin toss." Again, Scientific American explains that no one has ever presented scientific evidence backing up any of the alternative theories that global warming is not man made. And an abundance of peer-reviewed scientific studies confirm our understanding that the causes for climate change are man-made.

Then there's that old right-wing canard: "Is CO2 a pollutant?" Answer:
"No. "

This goes to the heart of the scientific case of global warming, and to the heart of the propaganda campaign to brainwash people into thinking that the danger is neither real nor serious. Though CO2 is not toxic, it traps the sun's heat. The fact that CO2 is not a pollutant is irrelevant to the issue of climate change. It is the right wing's Prussian Blue.

On Wallace's program last Sunday, Bill Kristol used this irrelevancy to further misinform the audience. Mara Liasson played along:

KRISTOL: Look, the one thing that happened that we're going to remember is not the Copenhagen meeting. It's the Environmental Protection Agency ruling issued on December 7th, a day that will live in infamy and that will live in infamy for the EPA, which is an attempt -- a huge regulatory scheme. This is binding. This is real, unlike Copenhagen. And this will be a huge regulatory burden on the U.S. economy. I believe Congress -- next year Congress isn't going to be debating Copenhagen.

They're going to be debating overriding this EPA regulation, which -- I think when people see the extent of it, and its intrusiveness, and the cost to the U.S. economy, people are going to be shocked. And I think Congress can really override it.

WALLACE: Well, let me just pick up on that with you, Mara, for a minute, because let's remind people that the Supreme Court...said that the EPA could regulate carbon dioxide...

LIASSON: That's right.

WALLACE: ... and other greenhouse gas emissions, and the EPA has now gone with this and has had an endangerment finding, saying it's a danger to people's health and that they're going to regulate it unless Congress...


WALLACE: ... legislates. But there's some blowback and pushback in Congress where they're saying, "You know, we may override the EPA..."


WALLACE: "... and prevent them from doing that."

LIASSON: Well, that might happen. I mean, I think right now the ball is in the Senate's court, and they have to figure out what they want to do about the EPA, what they want to do about cap and trade, and when they want to do it. And yeah, I think that's what's going to happen.

Liasson is not stupid. She knows that any talk of the Senate overriding the EPA is pure nonsense. No committee chair would ever allow any such bill to come up for a vote. No such bill could withstand a Senate filibuster, nor could it ever attain a veto-proof majority for passage. But she also knows the drill. Since the global warming deniers must have the same stature and legitimacy as those who believe in science, then the rantings of the global warming deniers on Congress must have the same stature and legitimacy as those who wish to craft a cap and trade bill in the Senate.

Some are slicker than others, but all global warming deniers, and their apologists, rely on some kind of dishonest conflation or distortion. Jonah Goldberg claims that climate scientist Judith Curry agrees with his claim that "the climate change industry is shot through with groupthink." Except that Curry has no doubt whatsoever about the growing human influence on climate change. Newt Gingrich says that a guide to the UN negotiations on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), is "purposefully modeled after the Chinese mass murderer Mao Tse-Tung's 'Little Red Book of Communism.'" The words "global warming" were banished from the Fox News hour-long documentary on the water shortage in California. Sean Hannity said the blame lay with the environmentalists.

Currently, about 300 thousand people die every year from the effects of climate change, with another 325 million seriously affected, primarily because of reduced access to fresh and safe drinking water. At its core, global warming denial is like Holocaust denial, an assault on common decency.

Addendum 7:00 pm, December 21, 2009: Pat Buchanan backed up my point on MSNBC this morning, when he claimed that climate change is "a fraud, and a scam, and a hoax." In a 1990 New York Post column, he also disputed the well-documented history that Jews at Treblinka were killed by carbon monoxide gassing from diesel generators. "The problem is: Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody," he wrote. For a definitive refutation, see Holocaust-History.org.

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Well judging from many of the comments, Fox has managed to convince a great mass of people that everything is fine and all scientists do is lie to your face. It is even more obvious that a great majority commenting here haven't taken or passed their 5th grade geography / science classes since they believe that the scientist are lying to their face while the evidence piles up around them. Unfortunately the majority of the deniers live in a country with the least care given to human life and the least understanding of the world around them...perpetrating ignorance on levels not seen since the dark ages.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:34 PM on 12/23/2009
- New David Fiderer - Huffpost Blogger I'm a Fan of David Fiderer 140 fans permalink

It really is something, Lisa. There are countless other examples from Fox that pertain to climate change alone. All together, it goes way beyond spinning, or bias or selective reporting. That's why the verb "brainwash" is so apt.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 05:00 PM on 12/23/2009

Mr. Fiderer,

If you think that was bad you should have seen Fox's special hosted by Bret Baier entitled "Global Warming...or a Lot of Hot Air?" I assure you, you would have lost it after seeing that horrible peace of journalism. It was almost as bad as Baier's October 2008 special. "George Bush: Fighting to the Finish."
Fox, doesn't even try to try anymore.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 05:38 PM on 12/21/2009
- LMPE I'm a Fan of LMPE 74 fans permalink

I've been saying for a long time that global warming denial is tantamount to holocaust denial.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 05:17 PM on 12/21/2009
- WmC I'm a Fan of WmC 16 fans permalink

Fiderer makes a useful distinction between a skeptic and a denier: the latter is one who is not swayed by evidence no matter how overwhelming.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 04:43 PM on 12/21/2009

You do yourself no good by making this comparison. You can believe in global warming but not believe it is man made or that we have the power to change it. Denying the Holocaust is simply based on Jew hatred.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 03:54 PM on 12/21/2009
- dctackett I'm a Fan of dctackett 9 fans permalink

Hey... the republicans are creating jobs... internet forum trolls... apparently they are all handed talking points because they always say the same things... I wonder home much they get paid...

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 03:41 PM on 12/21/2009
- KDog76A I'm a Fan of KDog76A 20 fans permalink

speaking of people saying the same thing all the time, you've plagiarized at least 100,000 other commenters on this sit in your statement.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:55 PM on 12/22/2009
- x76 I'm a Fan of x76 16 fans permalink

The notion that mankind can ADD measurably to CO2 in our atmosphere is ludicrous. And the damning thing about "climate change" is the carbon credit economic bubble, ready to roll. It's a scam.

As for the Holocaust, let's see a transparent international forensic examination of every Nazi Death Camp(tm) in an attempt to determine the exact dimensions of the horror -- every victim, every mass grave, every crematorium. A completely transparent investigation. No one would object to such a thing. I'm sure that every claim made regarding the Holocaust would be 100% supported.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 03:19 PM on 12/21/2009
- Johnagain I'm a Fan of Johnagain 57 fans permalink

"A completely transparent investigation. No one would object to such a thing. "

That's been done. Asking for it to be done again, thereby ignoring the previous investigations and documentation, is a classic holocaust denier tactic.

The relevant question to be asked is this: If you think the holocaust was not real, they YOU prove that assertion. Not the other way around.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 06:37 PM on 12/21/2009

Global warming deniers used to claim that the data for rising temperatures were due to bias from "heat islands"; that the data were taken at locations that have become warmer since urban development moved closer to the measuring spots. Now, they've moved off that one and admit that temps are rising, but it's all due to natural cycles of the sun and earth - despite the fact that the current rising temps are out of synch with the historical natural cycles. Next year, they'll have another explanation. Unless they become bored with the climate, of course, and go back to their original pasttime of denying human evolution.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 03:08 PM on 12/21/2009
- Javani I'm a Fan of Javani 6 fans permalink

Interesting narrative.

"Global warming deniers used to claim that the data for rising temperatures were due to bias from "heat islands""

Used to? The warmist scientists are still trying to underplay it. They have a conflict of interest because the UHI is useful to them if readings there from are accepted as "natural" or "insignificant."

"Now, they've moved off that one"


"and admit that temps are rising,"

They always have "admitted" that. Thing is, some are now moving to say maybe there have been no 20th century average warming. This was caused be revelations from warmist science and various admission late 20th raw data is typically adjusted upward. Plus the warmist scientists act so hypersensitively.

"but it's all due to natural cycles of the sun and earth"


"despite the fact that the current rising temps are out of synch with the historical natural cycles"

By gosh, where did you hear that one? Really, I mean it.

"Next year, they'll have another explanation."

The only annualised events in climate science (not respectable climatology) is the increase in IPCC "scientist" papers increasing prior guesstimates about positive feedbacks in increased
co2 forcing.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 04:10 PM on 12/21/2009
- realpolitic I'm a Fan of realpolitic 164 fans permalink

"Urban Heat Island Effect has been examined quite thoroughly and found to have a negligible effect on temperature trends. .... What's more, NASA GISS takes explicit steps in their analysis to remove any such spurious signal by normalizing urban station data trends to the surrounding rural stations. It is a real phenomenon, but it is one climate scientists are well aware of and have taken any required steps to remove its influence from the raw data."

"A 2003 paper ("Assessment of urban versus rural in situ surface temperatures in the contiguous United States: No difference found"; J climate; Peterson; 2003) indicates that the effects of the urban heat island may have been overstated, finding that "Contrary to generally accepted wisdom, no statistically significant impact of urbanization could be found in annual temperatures.""


Two other factors which negate an urban heat warmig effect is that most of the warming has occurred at the poles and nighttime temperatures have risen more than day time temperatures in North America, which still raises average temperature.

Now watch the deniers go crazy!

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:23 PM on 12/22/2009
- steven11 I'm a Fan of steven11 7 fans permalink

Another banker/lawyer/journalist preaching that anthropogenic global warming is absolute fact. Please, Mr. Fiderer, enlighten us to your scientific background. Please tell us all which scientific studies (not mere articles - the actual studies and data themselves) you have read and scrutinized. I will not dignify the holocaust comparision with a response, since it is truly reprehensible.

Your political ostracising of those who ask questions or have doubts about current "scientific" dogma is worthy of an appointment with the current Administration or better yet, with the "scientists" at CRU.

Global warming does exist. That's a fact. What is unknown or uncertain is whether humans are contributing to such and, if so, exactly how much.

We know with absolutte certaintiy that the earth has warmed and cooled dozens upon dozens of times. After all, New York City was covered entirely by a 100 foot thick glacier not to long ago (30 to 40,000 years).

Here are some, facts, since your article is severly lacking.

1) Humans account for 3% of annual CO2 emissions, the rest comes from mother nature
2) Of this 3%, about 55% of annual emissions are absorbed right back into nature, with 45% remaining in the atmosphere
3) Water vapor accounts for 76% of the greenhouse gas effect, while CO2 accounts for around 15 to 20%.
4) There have been over a dozen ice ages and "thawing" and currentlly we happen to be in the escalation of a "thawing" period.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 03:01 PM on 12/21/2009
- elkabong I'm a Fan of elkabong 184 fans permalink

Chris Wallace knows that he can say anything he likes. If the ruinous effects of man made climate change become full-blown, he knows he can blame the whole thing on Barney Frank (or Al Gore, for that matter) and his audience will swallow it, hook, line and sinker. They believe what they want to believe and take responsibility for nothing.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:15 PM on 12/21/2009
- FTracy3 I'm a Fan of FTracy3 4 fans permalink

Just curious, if after we take all the necessary steps to curb greenhouse gasses and evenutally the climate is (again) cooled by natural cycles of the sun, etc, is there a point at which we'll be calling for increased emissions so we don't all freeze?

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:05 PM on 12/21/2009
- Economike I'm a Fan of Economike 32 fans permalink

If pigs had wings, sure...

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:29 PM on 12/21/2009
- KDog76A I'm a Fan of KDog76A 20 fans permalink

it was the theory back in 1970s that we should burn more fossil fuels... the BBC reported on it and it is actually the basis for the current theory on global warming.


fly on little piggy fly on

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:12 PM on 12/22/2009
- Javani I'm a Fan of Javani 6 fans permalink

"we'll be calling for increased emissions so we don't all freeze?"

At the moment I cannot think how traders can make exotic financial instruments out of that, but I have full faith in American financial ingenuity they can. The harder thing to do will be to sell it to Americans. Western Europeans are easily duped, do not have the bull detectors for americanish financial scams. Throw into the mix appeals to victims' sense of class and intellectual superiority, the conmen win over the marks. Keep them in line with pavlovian tactics like cartoon images of dying polar bears and Gov. Moosemeat's pretty face. Also invoke "Fox News" as the voice of heresy. For those proclaiming selves on the side of science, they do have many traits of the lifecycle of a religious cult.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:40 PM on 12/21/2009
- KDog76A I'm a Fan of KDog76A 20 fans permalink

actually this trading thing was Al Gore's idea, hence his endless propaganda.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:16 PM on 12/22/2009
- Rrhain I'm a Fan of Rrhain 14 fans permalink

Hint: You won't be around to worry about the answer to that question.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 04:01 PM on 12/21/2009
- realpolitic I'm a Fan of realpolitic 164 fans permalink

Well, it just goes to show the campaign to misinform on Fox is not ad hoc and done by misinformed, lazy pundits but is cleverly orchestrated and is propaganda pure and simple. When Fox News outlaws the term global warming from a long feature on the California water crisis it is propaganda. When they supply their own false answers to settled questions like have temperatures increased it is proganda. When they ask questions which have real answers and say "you decide," they are deceiving their ill-read audience that they can decide what they like and believing it makes it so. They are infantilizing the audience and the right wing viewers soak it up because they disdain elitist scientists and science, and they have some weird idea of democracy that simply believing something firmly enough makes it true. As they say, reality often has a liberal bias and I guess Fox viewers do not mind being deceived as long it is in a way they can agree with.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:42 PM on 12/21/2009
- Javani I'm a Fan of Javani 6 fans permalink

"When Fox News outlaws the term global warming from a long feature on the California water crisis it is propaganda."

The "crisis" has nothing to do with warmth but moisture budgets. there is plenty of water in California, but a lot is tied up with water abusing agricultural crops.

"reality often has a liberal bias"

Interesting. As they say, keep the faith.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:44 PM on 12/21/2009
- realpolitic I'm a Fan of realpolitic 164 fans permalink

Sorry, brother, your faith in Fox is sorely msiplaced and they are a proganda outfit. Don't let reality intrude on your listenship of Fox. Their other viewers do not.

"Climate change may increase the risk of winter floods and summer water shortages—even within the same year—says new research by scientists Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)."

"The study, which appeared in the January 27 edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters shows that global warming is likely to change river flows in ways that may result in both increased flood risk and water shortages."

"As temperatures warm as a result of global carbon emissions, more rain than snow falls at higher elevations."

"According to the scientists, since rainfall in California occurs over a short seasonal interval, California's water infrastructure is dependent on the build up of snow in the mountains of the Sierra Nevadas. Snow acts as a natural reservoir by releasing water into streams and man-made reservoirs after winter and early spring rains and snowfall have ceased."

"Warmer temperatures may cause California's rivers to carry a heavier flow during wet months, possibly triggering floods like those seen this past winter in Napa, Marin, and the Sacramento Central Valley. During summer months, river flows would be much reduced, resulting in water shortages that could affect California's rich agricultural areas. The net effect of climate change could be extreme shifts in California's water supply."


    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 03:25 PM on 12/21/2009
- MJinCanada I'm a Fan of MJinCanada 123 fans permalink

Well done, David! Excellent column.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:40 PM on 12/21/2009
- AJH I'm a Fan of AJH 16 fans permalink

"Then there's that old right-wing canard: "Is CO2 a pollutant?" Answer:
"No. "

This is actually the laying of the ideological groundwork to attack the US EPA's regulation of CO2 under the clean air act where pollutant has legal meaning and authorizes EPA to act under existing legislative mandates.

As EPA act's the right will be spinning it that they are acting outside the law and EPA only has the authority to regulate pollutants. It will go to their Obama as tyrant line of arguements. Let's just ignore it was the US supreme Court that declared it was a pollutant not the Obama administration. And that Nixon signed the CAA with such a broad definition.

In the legal sense of the word CO2 is a pollutant. And that is the reason ever since states sued EPA in 2003 over the failure to treat it as such Conservatives have worked it into their attack lexicon. Preparing for the day the government would treat it as such and attempting to define it as not being such to make the act appear egregious and irrational. And here you are supporting them in that effort through a lack of education on the specific details of the use of the word in US policy processes.

YES it is legally a pollutant the court above which there is no appeal say's so. End of story in a democracy.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:07 PM on 12/21/2009
- COPerez I'm a Fan of COPerez 59 fans permalink

Listening to climate deniers talking about AGW is like going to an herbalist or a chiropractor when you have a medical problem. It might sound like they are talking in complete sentences, but when you consider their foundational documents and "beliefs" suddenly you hear it for the glossolalia that it really is.

The deniers (and all their corporate buddies) don't WANT human induced GW to be real, they don't want to give up their life-styles and their SUVs and the don't want polluters to pay the full price for the use of the commons. It interferes with their safe little world-views and - MOST IMPORTANTLY - it interferes with their ability to extract the most wealth from OUR commons.

Note how quickly the go back to the minor points that have already been dismissed about "climate-gate" without ever acknowledging that even if one group of scientists at one organization talked about fudging some data (and there's no evidence that they actually acted on those words), there are thousands of other scientists and hundreds of other organizations doing science that STILL confirms AGW.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:05 PM on 12/21/2009
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