Holding Me Accountable

When Al Gore authoritatively statesExxon Mobil has funded 40 different front groups that have all been a part of a strategic persuasion campaign to, in their own words, ‘reposition global warming as theory rather than fact’“, why is he and others who hurl that accusation not met with a question something similar to “Reposition – what? Where do you get that statement from?” I have absolutely no problem with people asking me to back up what I say or show. Allow me to explain with the following:

Deep within this article’s comment thread section (which unfortunately doesn’t have permalinks to each individual subcomment post), I used a screencapture photo link to support a remark comparing the position of a commenter critic I was debating with to one held by climate scientist Dr Katharine Hayhoe, regarding ‘industry-funded corruption of skeptic climate scientists’ – as seen here, where my photo link is clickable in the verbatim relevant text below:

… you dismiss it out-of-hand as being industry-paid/orchestrated misinformation. That’s precisely what Ms Hayhoe implied in her video, and she was even more direct about it in this piece http://gelbspanfiles.com/…/2013/08/hayhoenova-2011.jpg , but in the most embarrassing manner, she cited two sources for her assertion of which neither contained a solitary shred of evidence proving skeptic climate scientists work for oil companies or that they knowingly spread misinformation as part of a contractual obligation to do so.

The commenter responded, after a consider amount of other material, this way to my screencapture link:

…. I also went to the link you provided for Katherine Hayhoe in your last reply, and found it goes to a site designated as NOVA, but which looks suspiciously like a shoddy facsimile of the actual site, or else a site so old that its claims are no longer valid. … you provide no links or explanations about where those specific comments come from? I have searched Google.—but I cannot find any such comment.

So why Mr. Cook do you recommend a website with quotes form Hayhoe which are not sourced, and which are thus not confirmable? Please provide me with a direct link ….

He’s partly right. Click on the image below and you’ll see it doesn’t have the web link up at the top like all of my more recent screencaptures do, such as the ones above of the blockquoted comments.

So I replied:

… you asked me to provide a link source for my old 2013 screencapture of Dr Hayhoe saying “…of the 10 scientists who publish material poo-poohing climate change…” Excellent!

To my discredit, I didn’t show the weblink at the top of my screencapture unlike so many of those other ones at my GelbspanFiles blog. At the time when I wrote the post ( http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=865 ) containing that screencapture, I thought the direct link for what was seen at the time at the PBS Nova was adequate enough …

Ask and Ye shall receive — I provided the links, showing what the full context of what’s in the screencapture, and how all of that is found, as a reply to your comment question about this matter here: http://www.pbs.org/…/environmental…/katharine-hayhoe/

Why did I answer my critic’s challenge at a different website’s comment section? Because, to his credit, he apparently attempted to find where the website was based simply on what he saw in my screencapture of Dr Hayhoe’s statements. The reason I know this is because, when I put the PBS Nova link from my notes file for the page containing Dr Hayhoe’s remarks into my web browser in order to see if it it still functioned, the result was a page looking nothing like what my screencapture showed. When I scrolled down the page, I found my critic’s inquiry straight to Dr Hayhoe, which at that time was at the top of the comments pile under its “Sort by Newest” arrangement (to show a screencapture of his inquiry and my response combined, the comments must now be viewed in “Sorted by Oldest” form):

I am currently debating a “skeptic,” who lists a quote from you on a website in support of the idea that you claim “there are only ten of them,” in reference to scientists working for big oil companies. I find a specific figure like 10 to be a bit bogus and no direct link is given to a specific website where you supposedly said this so can you explain for me where he might have gotten this idea?

Thus, I couldn’t resist responding to my critic, since Dr Hayhoe probably has exactly zero chance of having any recollection of what this was about:

Allow me. First, it helps to know that ‘current website content’ does not always reflect what used to be on any given site, past tense. Once you have that concept down, then you figure out how to do deeper searches. In this case, what you need to see is the Nova site archived from at least 4 or so years back. Considering what I was referring to elsewhere (which you don’t have the courtesy to inform folks about here) was a then-live online scrolling chat session, the closest I can get you to is this page, where the chat session doesn’t work anymore: http://web.archive.org/web/… . But that is not a dead end. You have to look where that sort of thing gets saved elsewhere. As in this site http://www.coveritlive.com/… — scroll down to the 7:15 time spot and there ya go: “…of the 10 scientists who publish material poo-poohing climate change (yes, there are just 10…”

For posterity’s sake, here’s the screencapture of the Internet Archive version of the old PBS Nova site where this Live Chat with Dr Hayhoe took place, and here’s one of the other site’s capture of all those remarks, where I marqueed through Dr Hayhoe’s words the same way I did with my 2013 screencapture.

There is a larger takeaway lesson from this situation, and it has everything to to with the elemental concept of accountability. I’ve illustrated this problem at my 2013 American Thinker article with an analogy of a person making a questionable declaration about a classic car; I did so again in a much more obscure blog’s comment section regarding the inherent problem with someone saying they alone spotted a rare bird; and I hope the illustration is clear right here. Anyone who makes a declarative assertion ought to be open to inquiries about what the supporting evidence is for the assertion, and if that person appears to avoid answering direct inquiries about it, certainly some degree of concern should arise on why that person sees no value in enlightening not only the individual making the inquiry, but also no value in sharing supporting information for the assertion which should benefit untold numbers of other people.

Which brings me full circle back to Al Gore. Regarding the way his side’s favored scientists seem loathe to directly debate with skeptic climate scientists, and/or concoct debate parameters which preclude any debate with skeptics at all, forget about that for a moment. Focus on his accusation:

Exxon Mobil has funded 40 different front groups that have all been a part of a strategic persuasion campaign to, in their own words, ‘reposition global warming as theory rather than fact.’

Reposition what? Where do you get that statement from?” …. isn’t an inquiry Gore avoids at all costs, it’s one which no mainstream media reporter has apparently ever thought of asking him.

The argument has been made that it’s up to us to hold the mainstream media accountable for that kind of shortcoming.