The Sciences

Why Reason Loses: Special Marc Morano Edition

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyApr 9, 2009 12:45 PM

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Dear Reader: I encourage you to head on over to DeSmogBlog for the latest evidence of why it is that all our money spent on global warming research does not suffice to solve the problem. Warning, it's likely to make you angry. Marc Morano has long been Senator James Inhofe's top global warming spinmeister and talking head. His special ability is to argue super-fast, spewing out questionable claims, a kind of howitzer of climate "skepticism." (Below, for example, see Morano's recent debate with Joe Romm provided in its first installment, with the second here. Joe tries to be patient in debating Morano, and to correct him as much as possible--a valiant attempt, but it's simply impossible to correct everything Morano says as he bowls you over with dubious assertions.) I bring all this up because Morano has now left Inhofe's service; instead he's joined an anti-global warming think tank, the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which has lost no time in pitching him to the media. DeSmogBlog has the email they've been sending out; it reads in part like this:

Here's your counter guest debater to Al Gore and Global Warming Climate change disinformation plus how Obama's Policies are affecting our economy. For your on-air expert contributor talent files: Credentialed “Counter Guest” to popular global warming ideology: Here’s your anti-Gore Global Warming Expert who offers the science to counteract partisan and ideologically driven Environmental entities and issues. If you believe most, or all, of the global warming dogma, you may use Marc as your “counter guest” to offer a lively, fair and balanced discussion to your audience. If you are a skeptic of the current doctrine, Marc can aid your program by clearing up the deception with the facts. Marc Morano infuses the environmental debate with a balanced and truthful scientific perspective. Marc’s agenda is to revolutionize Climate and Environmental news dissemination to portray the accurate truth.

The thing is, this stuff is totally going to work. Morano is going to get on TV, and he's going to sow more doubt about global warming. He's quite effective at this--frankly, even as I lament it, I'm also impressed by his skill--and has a think tank behind him. And they're willing to fight damn hard to get their point of view across. In my view, while it may be justified (not to mention hard to resist), it's rather pointless to get mad at Morano, or CFACT, over this. They're playing the game to win, and they're very good at it. Frankly, we should be paying close attention to their tactics, and even trying learn from them. If we're going to get mad at anyone, meanwhile, I can see two appropriate targets. First, there's the media who allow this game to work, by creating environments (especially on television) where good science can easily get defeated by good rhetoric. And second, there's the wealthy philanthropists and well funded think tanks and interest groups on our side who, faced with this unfavorable media environment, have failed to adapt and equip us with counter-Moranos--intellectual warriors who are not only up for the task of setting the record straight, and defending accurate science, but actually have it as their full time job description. This is hardly impossible to do; you can learn to be a good TV debater, a stunningly effective advocate for your own side...but who has time to really make an art of it? Who is funded to do this? So far as I can tell, it's generally conservatives, that's who. And that, my friends, is the latest installment of "why reason loses"....

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