The sweet and fetid stench of propaganda
One of the most common tactics deniers use is something I call The Impressive Letter Technique
, or this being NASA, let it be known by the acronym TILT
-- which is exactly what it tries to do to your thinking. A TILT is a letter signed by a lot of impressive sounding people who make a public statement or demand, and expect the gullible antiscience press
(whose last science class was probably in high school), and the public, to lap it up because of their collective authority
The classic example of a denialist TILT is the OISM Petition Project
, which claims to have the signatures of 31,487 scientists who question the scientific consensus on climate change. Pretty impressive, huh? That many scientists questioning something must mean there's a real scientific controversy about it. Until you break it down and then the petition project begins to evaporate into the fetid smoke and mirrors of propaganda. It turns out that the petition is open to anyone with a bachelor's of science degree, which is roughly 20.5 million Americans
. Those are their "scientists." So it's perhaps not surprising that of the signers, 99.9% of them don't have any training in climate science.
And out of a pool of 20.5 million, only 31.5 thousand, or 00.15%, have signed the petition. In other words, outliers.
49 former NASA employees fall from grace
Ironically, at the same time I was speaking to some of NASA's climate scientists about how to counter these kinds of propaganda attacks, the denialsphere
was abuzz with a new TILT -- this one signed by 49 former NASA employees. Like other letters of its kind, this one, addressed to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden
, is signed by some prominent and semi-prominent names, thus is has the sheen of collective authority
, but none of them are climate scientists or have any training in it.
In fact when you break the letter down, it too evaporates into propaganda -- in a way that sullies the names and credentials of these formerly respected individuals.