A number of years ago I wrote a couple of pamphlets about the politics of AIDS. At the time there was a vast amount of mis- and disinformation about AIDS, its causes, its methods of transmission, and the risks it posed to individuals being peddled as science and fact. I argued that many scientists, much of the AIDS activist movement, and most of the mainstream media either ignored data that was inconvenient to their analysis or circulated “facts” that were simply untrue in order to scare people into supporting one political agenda or another. Now that global warming has replaced AIDS as the current threat to the existence of humanity, if not the world, I see similar politicking, suppression of debate, misunderstanding, and manipulation of the scientific data being used to deceive and frighten people.
Such fear-mongering, however, would not be effective unless there was a large group ready and willing to be convinced that, this time and at long last, the sky really is falling. Despite the fact that neither a sudden ice age, genital herpes, acid rain, AIDS, SARS, nor any one of the other disasters we have been warned about in the last 20 years or so has lived up to the hype, lots of people are worrying that this time the experts and news media are right. Continue reading