Case Study: Anthony Watts and Info-Fascism in Action

February 9, 2012

Did you ever wonder about the hordes of angry comments that appear after any major online story breaks about climate change? The ones that angrily attack the very idea that climate is changing, or that man could cause it, or that attack the integrity of the science and the climate scientists? Sometimes you might wonder if such feeding frenzies are organized.

Wonder no more. We now have a convincing demonstration of exactly how its done.

About a week ago, Amazon posted a page for the kindle version of Michael Mann’s new book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars”. A few individuals who had the chance to read the book have been posting reviews, generally favorable.

On February 8, Anthony Watts over at the denialist Wattsupwiththat blog posted that the book was available, and added coyly, “I hope some climate realists eventually review the book as well.”
Wonder of wonders, within hours, a horde of denialists had apparently bought and read the 400 page book, and were furiously posting indignant denunciations of the book,  science, and the scientist.  Apparently climate denialism is correlated with speed reading abilities, albeit with low comprehension.

An example of the level of Watts-inspired attacks – “This book is exactly like a turd. It’s small, it stinks, and it’s disgusting. Just like Mann.”

It’s not the first time that Watts and others in the denial community have organized this kind of attack. It’s a template.

The beauty of this pure example is that it shows how the relatively small constituency of rabid deniers exhibit swarming behavior so as to inflate one’s idea of their numbers.  We’ve recently seen evidence of how PR firms like HP Gary provide “persona management” software, so as to create exactly this effect thru a manufactured army of sock-puppet social media posters.

Now we see that climate deniers have an even better way. Why use sock-puppets when you can deploy real puppets?

UPDATE: In the video below, see how a Koch Brother funded Tea Party activists teaches a workshop on how to specifically game the “review” system as a “guerrilla” tactic to promote “our ideals”. The speaker helpfully admits that “80 percent of the books I put a star on – I don’t read!”

Below, my review of the book.

When future historians seek to piece together the complex and byzantine tale of how humanity dithered on the edge of climate catastrophe – Mike Mann’s book will be the most logical starting point to put the big picture together.

Because Dr. Mann has been directly or indirectly involved at so many key moments, and with so many key players – and because he has pulled together a lucid narrative with a comprehensively annotated, highly detailed chronology – anyone that wants to understand the back story of an enormous and painful paradigm shift will be extremely well advised to consult this volume.

There is enough material in the footnotes to jump-start dozens of master’s theses in, among other topics -the unfolding of our understanding of global climate – but also, the history of science, the rights of privacy under constitutional law, abuses of corporate power, and the modern distortion of media by powerful vested interests.
There have been a number of valuable contributions to the popular accounts of climate change science, but this one jumps immediately to the top of the list for anyone that wants to get the broadest historical context and overview of where we are, and how we got here.

76 Responses to “Case Study: Anthony Watts and Info-Fascism in Action”

  1. Should also mention that I used *raw* (not adjusted or homogenized) GHCN data to produce my results.

  2. prokaryotes Says:

    Reblogged this on Climate Force and commented:
    Anthony’s “Coked” Watts Guerilla Attacks on Science…

  3. prokaryotes Says:

    I posted this video to You Tube

    James Hansen about Runaway Climate Change. The video has about 3000 views within a week and then suddenly within a few hours bad ratings came in, about 30.

    At the same time i noticed a back link from WUWT. The 30 “Online Thugs” from Anthony Watts posted all stupid Ad Hominem comments and voted the video down.

    These attacks on the science are a threat to the NATIONAL SECURITY and democratic freedom, freedom of speech.

    • otter17 Says:

      I would say the email threats could be categorized as attacks on free speech, but these thumbs down on Youtube do represent the opinions of those giving them. Their opinions may not be well informed, but nonetheless they are opinions. They need better information from our leaders, scientists, etc.

  4. […] And a must-read and must-see post by Peter Sinclair at Climate Denial Crock of the Week:  Case Study: Anthony Watts and Info-Fascism in Action […]

  5. prokaryotes Says:

    How You Can Help Michael Mann, Author of the Must-Read Book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars
    By Joe Romm and Climate Guest Blogger on Feb 12

  6. g2-b31f1590b0e74a6d1af4639162aa7f3f Says:

    All files (uncompressed code and data) have been uploaded to:

  7. […] go to Amazon and give poor reviews to The Hockey Stick and the Climate . This tactic, according to, which also examined the reviews of Mann’s book on Amazon, is not uncommon and it posted a […]

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