Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Idiot post of the week

Normally I ignore Anthony Watt's whiny alternate universe, but this particular post is a gem of the genre:


Bizarre: NYT follows AAAS lead on “FOIA requests equate to death threats”


I'll say this for Anthony; he doesn't bury the lede. The two major lies are included in the title itself:

1. He uses quotation marks around this statement: “FOIA requests equate to death threats.” So he is claiming someone said exactly those words. That's what the quotation marks mean. If that's not so, he's lying (I know -- who woulda thought?) Did the American Association for the Advancement of Science say “FOIA requests equate to death threats”? Of course not. The press release Watts cites mentions the FOIA exactly once, to wit:

The sharing of research data is vastly different from unreasonable, excessive Freedom of Information Act requests for personal information and voluminous data that are then used to harass and intimidate scientists. The latter serve only as a distraction and make no constructive contribution to the public discourse.


Anthony's quote is fake. First lie.

Did the New York Times write “FOIA requests equate to death threats”? Of course not. It speaks to the bottomless gullibility of deniers that anyone would think that.

2. Did the New York Times "follow[] AAAS lead"(1) in criticizing the use of FOIA requests to harass scientists? Watts claims they did. It's ostensibly the subject of the post. So where's the quote from the New York Times endorsing the AAAS's criticism. There isn't one, because it never happened. Lie number two.

How did the New York Times get into the story? Watts relates a story told to him by Chris Horner (2):

Naturally this caught the eye of the New York Times, which had a young lady contact us for comment. Right off the bat it was clear she, too, had been rattled by the horrors of our outrageous efforts to …see certain records the taxpayer has paid for and which are expressly covered by transparency laws.

Her stance was sympathetic to AAS’s to the point of temper.


So what we have for evidence that "NYT follows AAAS lead on 'FOIA requests equate to death threats'" is a secondhand conversation in which a denier felt like a reporter didn't sympathize with his perspective and asked him questions that made him uncomfortable. The number of ways in which that fiction fails the test of reality is mind-boggling. It's heresay from an unreliable source; it's based on the fact that a reporter asked an uncomfortable question (presumably, that's her job); it equates the (speculated) views of one reporter with the entire New York Times organization despite the fact that nothing has been printed in the New York Times related to the press release by the AAAS.

So in summary, Watts uses a fake quote, based on a secondhand conversation as related by a sketchy right-wing extremist, in which he takes offense at questions asked by a reporter, to attribute to the New York Times an equivalence between FOIA requests and death threats, which he false attributes to an AAAS press release, even though his own link shows that to be another lie.

Just another day in the denier fantasyland, which more and more resembles a sweatshop of assembly-line lies, churning out fictional accounts of victimhood.



1. Note the brackets. Brackets inside quotation marks denote a minor change in a quote that should not change the meaning -- in this case, the omission of the "s" at the end of "follows," in order to make the grammar of the sentence correct. The brackets, like an ellipsis [. . .], alert the reader that a quote has been altered, even in a minor way, and if there is any question as the the meaning, you should refer to the original source. These are the rigid rules of direct quotations observed by people who are not lying sacks of shit.

2. The denier responsible for such sparkling analysis as "for decades, environmentalism has been the Left's best excuse for increasing government control over our actions in ways both large and small. It's for Mother Earth! It's for the children! It's for the whales! But until now, the doomsday-scenario environmental scares they've trumped up haven't been large enough to justify the lifestyle restrictions they want to impose. With global warming, however, greenhouse gasbags can argue that auto emissions in Ohio threaten people in Paris, and that only 'global governance' (Jacques Chirac's words) can tackle such problems."

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