A fresh start (on this blog) on calling names in the climate game.
I’ve always thought that people whose language is liberally sprinkled with the F-word and other expletives lack the ability to express themselves, aim to shock (at least a little bit), and consider their choice to use such language as part of their identity (somehow enhancing it).
In the same way name-calling and inappropriate labels have become widespread in relation to opinions held on climate. This post updates how I’ve honoured my promise (see Cleaning House) to remove use of a few such words on this blog.
The crux of the new ‘rule’ for me and commenters is simple –
- Try to say what you mean and avoid generalisations.
- If you are referring to a group of people whom you are defining by their opinion, try to be specific.
- Make sure the label you give to the group is appropriate to the opinion they actually hold.
I don’t want to stifle what people have to say; blogs thrive on opinions. Equally, commenters here are usually articulate and reasonable. I’m just asking that you think before lumping all pro-AGWers under one label.
By the way I don’t give a fig about being politically correct (see below). My main interest in improving the terminology is to make exchanges more readable by newbies, particularly those who tend to believe in AGW but are starting to question. Perhaps this is a naive aspiration, but such interest is a throwback to my own conversion process: much of the mudslinging seemed, er, unjustified, because I didn’t know the history of some of the more heated debates and it didn’t endear me to the skeptics’ cause at the time.
Anyway, here’s my stance on three often used labels:
- ‘Alarmist’ may be suitable in some contexts, but risks a snip if you have generalised or its use is (IMO) unjustified.
- ‘Denier’ is banned and will be snipped. If you want to talk about it, talk about exactly what is denied, or who is ‘in denial’ about what. Use ‘the D-word’ if you must.
- ‘Warmist’ seems allowable as it is used by ‘warmists’ themselves. I guess care with context is everything.
I don’t intend to use these terms to trigger the spam filter, so at times these words may stand for a few hours (maybe a few days, if I’m busy) until I do see them, but I reserve the right to review that if needed.
One of my pet hates about everything PC is that it solves nothing. People still find offence in what others say. Some people seem to take offence where none is intended – in fact some people seem almost to have developed a thin skin deliberately as a weapon – see Mark Steyn on Free Speech (youtube). Whatever happened to assertiveness? [“Excuse me, you said “blah blah blah…” did you really mean that …… or did you just phrase it badly?].
Finally, I am not advocating a ‘turn the other cheek’ approach – I like to see people ‘give as good as they get’. However, since the war of words has turned ugly in the mainstream media, being articulate, being right, and using less inflammatory language can only be a good thing for scepticism.