Friday, November 18, 2011

Peiser relies on deception

Benny Peiser, sadly, appears to be on the upswing in climate change denialism (and possibly wrong elsewhere, although I don't know the Easter Island issues well). My experience with him is that he made an incorrect factual assertion, stopped making it when caught by a knowledgeable audience, and then repeated the original assertion in front of different audiences that didn't know the truth and didn't know about his retraction. This is the person being quoted by news media today.

I laid out the sequence of events here. To summarize, he claimed in a comment thread at Deltoid to have repeated an analysis by climate historian Naomi Oreskes and found a different result. Other comments proved him wrong. Peiser continued to post in the comment thread without but stopped repeating his assertion that he had replicated Oreskes. Several days later he then repeated the original assertion on a different website where people don't know that he'd been refuted. I also found him repeating it in subsequent weeks, despite saying in email correspondence with me "I [Peiser] don't know" if he had done the same analysis.

I know the media has a problem trying to get accurate information on denialists because this type of deceptiveness is so common there, but they should communicate to the public that their sources like Benny Peiser make claims to the public that they refuse to defend in front of informed audiences. A far better approach would be to analyze the denialists, not for the credibility of their claims but for the politics that the denialists are manipulating.