Scott Armstrong: The Rise Of Climate Censorship

  • Date: 20/10/13
  • J. Scott Armstrong, Fox News

This week, Paul Thornton, letters editor for the Los Angeles Times announced the paper will “no longer publish letters from climate change deniers.”  Is such censorship good business for newspapers and other mass media? Given that most people in the U.S. do not believe that there is a global warming problem, this seems doubtful.

Censorship of skeptic global warming views by the press has been going on for many years. This week, Paul Thornton, letters editor for the Los Angeles Times announced the paper will “no longer publish letters from climate change deniers.” 

Thornton says, “Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published. … Saying ‘there’s no sign humans have caused climate change’ is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.”

Really? Is this kind of censorship good public-service policy for the Los Angeles Times?

It is a good policy for the global warming alarmist movement because those who are more knowledgeable about climate change are more likely to dismiss the alarm as unfounded.

It is not so good for citizens who would otherwise benefit from the freedom to make up their own minds after being exposed to different arguments and diverse evidence.

Is such censorship good business for newspapers and other mass media? Given that most people in the U.S. do not believe that there is a global warming problem, this seems doubtful.

One-sided coverage loses readers who do not share the editorial viewpoint.

Aristotle suggested that persuasiveness is higher when both sides of an issue are presented.

Later research found that Aristotle’s suggestion only works when one can rebut the other side.

Failing that, it is best to try to prevent the other side from being heard.

If persuasion is the goal, and not science, then it is sensible for the warming alarmists to avoid two-sided discussions.

In our study of situations that are analogous to the current alarmover global warming, Kesten Green and I identified 26 earlier movements based on scenarios of manmade disaster (including the global cooling alarm in the 1960s). None of them were based on scientific forecasts. And yet, governments imposed costly policies in response to 23 of them.

In no case did the forecast of major harm come true.

Will it be different this time?

Isn’t it important for the public to be informed about scientific evidence on the issue? And because the alarm is based on the fear of future harm, shouldn’t the public insist on scientific forecasts?

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