The appeal to ignorance is simultaneously an appeal to lack of imagination. Without imagination, new knowledge is impossible. How can you believe something you cannot imagine? When deployed by a trained mind, the argumentum ad ignorantiam represents a cynical ploy to exploit these limitations.
One man who has argued with keen logic and clarity against the politically-driven myth that atmospheric carbon dioxide is a threat to the environment is Lord Christopher Monckton, the Third Viscount of Brenchley, as he styles himself. Monckton is a brilliant polymath – his main expertise lying in mathematics – who became a political adviser in the Thatcher government in the UK in the 80s. He is a superb debater and an audacious campaigner, once parachuting into a climate conference in Durban, South Africa, after being barred from attending. With worldwide press garnered by the stunt, the organizers could no longer shut him up.
In particular, he has been vocal in opposing the movement towards global government being constructed through climate deals. “The totalitarians around the world have now seized upon climate change as the central weapon they’re going to use to get the countries of the West in particular to agree, in very large areas of policy, to abandon democracy in favor of government by an international elite that nobody elects.”
And yet, when asked for his views on climate engineering, or ‘chemtrails’, he becomes impatient and passive-aggressive, and quickly introduces the term ‘conspiracy theorist’. In an interview on April 7th 2013, Jonathan Eisen, the editor of Uncensored Magazine, brought up the subject of a bill introduced in the US House of Representatives by Congressman Denis Kusinich, which contained a provision to ban the weaponization of the atmosphere through stratospheric aerosol injection – i.e., chemtrails (HR 2977 III, 2009). Eisen noted that the congressman had been forced under heavy pressure to withdraw the provision, and asked for Monckton’s comments on the subject.
Monckton admitted to not having made a detailed examination of the issue, which is strange, since stratospheric aerosols (dust, smoke, industrial pollution, salt etc) must be taken into account in calculating climatic forcings. He was clearly keen to dismiss the topic quickly. He looked with lordly revulsion at the visual evidence presented to him in the form of three hard-copy photographs, appearing reluctant to touch or hold them. He dismissed the images of heavily trailed skies as showing condensation trails – the popular explanation for the phenomenon. Claiming that a satellite photograph featuring a huge vortex of thick white flows showed contrails, he may have realized the absurdity of the assertion, and quickly started talking about atmospheric monitoring on his estate in Scotland, which he claims shows no significant increase in particulates beyond what could be expected from industrial processes. But again he said he had not made a detailed study of the test results.
When Eisen politely persisted with the topic, Monckton could barely contain his exasperation, and started to filibuster, over-riding attempted interventions with long, lordly sentences. While he admitted that there were proposals and patents for ‘Solar Radiation Management’ (SRM) through Stratospheric Aerosol Injection (SAI), he insisted that no such thing could be happening.
“If it isn’t showing up in my atmospheric monitoring, what am I doing wrong?” he appeals. He insists that if a programme to inject millions of tons of particulate matter into the stratosphere existed, it would be visible in military budgets. Asked whether he is aware of an agenda to reduce global population, he admits that he is – but he locates this desire in the souls of a radical ‘people-hating’ environmentalist fringe and its fellow travelers, and insists that there is no way of achieving it and that no measures are being taken to implement it. No evidence of heightened death tolls shows in epidemiological figures: the world’s population is not in decline; therefore no depopulation programme exists.
He then tries to shut down the discussion by insisting on being shown multiple scientific studies written by relevantly qualified scientists and published in peer-reviewed journals ‘of respectability’ before he will say another word on the subject. When Eisen tries to interject that he has one such paper, Monckton snaps back ‘Not enough’, and, without breaking stride, issues an ultimatum: ‘Either you produce the papers, or I’m not going further on this subject. We now move on to something else.’
Monckton’s startling abandonment of anything resembling detached scientific curiosity on this issue, his irascibility and immediate recourse to the appeal to ignorance and the designer-cliché reminds me of Noam Chomsky’s bizarre performance when asked about 9/11.
Chomsky, if you remember, immediately abandoned his mantle of sophistication and resorted to cartoonish arguments – the planes might have missed, the conspiracy would have been leaked and the conspirators would have faced a ‘firing squad’. His way of dealing with the incontrovertible proofs of controlled demolitions is to fall back on a vague, generalized appeal to authority: ‘Anyone who knows anything about the sciences would instantly discount that evidence.’ He compares 9/11 to the JFK assassination, asserting that evidence against a high-level conspiracy in that matter is ‘overwhelming’ and suggesting that the president – who knows? – might have been shot by a jealous husband! Finally, he tops it off the performance with a truly startling rhetorical question: ‘In any case, who cares?’
Such bathetic lapses in critical thinking on the part of public intellectuals is telling. As when a psychiatrist uses hesitations in word-association games to identify blocks and repressions, these lacunae tell us that self-censorship is in play.
In this interview, Monckton’s abandonment, indeed his reversal, of logical sequence is telling. He shouldn’t need to be told: first the grammar. Then the logic. Later, the rhetoric.
With nothing else to offer, Monckton simply announces his intention to remain in a state of passive denial unless forced to abandon it by the provision of multiple peer-reviewed scientific papers, published only in journals he considers respectable, before he will investigate the issue. This disingenuously ignores the strangling of academic freedom within the universities, which he should know all about from his experience in the global warming field. Professional scientists need research grants, the control of which is one of the most important tools for creating a perceived ‘scientific consensus’. One wonders how radically this position must differ from his initial approach to the question of global warming. Did he wait until a full deck of scientific papers conclusively disproving the CO2 hypothesis was forced into his hand before looking into the matter himself? Monckton must know the difficulties faced by scientists who challenge the faux consensus in getting their work published. He knows full well the history of the suppression and falsification of data in the climate field, but calls any idea that the same could be happening in the field of particulate pollution a ‘conspiracy theory’. Apparently, Eisen would have to strap on a parachute and hurl himself out of an aeroplane before Monckton would take a glance skywards.
Condensation trails form in specific conditions, requiring cold, clean dry air, usually at altitudes of 30,000 feet or more. A modern jet engine creates little condensation, because 80% of the gases which pass through it are not combusted. Condensation trails are observed, but they behave as they always did – evanescing as fast as they are formed, appearing as exhalations of constant length, towed across the sky. I am told that contrails can persist, in certain (extremely) rare conditions. Chemtrails, on the other hand, persist in all conditions. The contrail argument can be easily falsified by several instances of video footage and photographs taken from the ground of two planes at similar altitudes, one towing a normal contrail of constant length and the other simultaneously laying down a billowing plume for hundreds of miles.
The contrail argument is simply incompatible with an objective viewpoint. Anyone who makes it is exhibiting a selective blindness – or lying. Is it a morbid fear of being branded a ‘conspiracy theorist’? Has fear of the weaponized stereotype silenced a brilliant mind on this point?
And yet in terms of Monckton’s engagement with the global warming issue, he understands that he is dealing with a conspiracy. After all we were given direct evidence in the two ‘Climategate‘ leaks, in 2008 and 2009, of underhand collusion between main players to falsify evidence, use unscientific ‘tricks’ to deceive the public, target opponents, distort the peer review process, get certain editors fired, and so on. Dr Phil Jones and his colleagues at the UEA Climate Research Unit were lucky to escape prosecution, and only did so because of the statute of limitations. Monckton’s detailed knowledge of the Copenhagen and Rio accords tells him, and he tells us, about the open conspiracy to bring the world under a planetary regime and the importance of the CO2 myth in moving towards that goal. But he is terrified of being labelled a conspiracy theorist?
These critical lacunae don’t just happen to individuals like Chomsky or Monckton, they happen across the board, in science, medicine, and history. There are no-go areas where the scientific method is suspended, alternative hypotheses are stigmatized, and academic freedom stifled or even criminalized. These blank spots on the map should alert us to issues in which the elite is heavily invested, financially, criminally, and in terms of long-term social engineering. These are precisely the areas to which someone who desires to live in reality should pay attention. Like the magnetic anomaly on the moon in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, it tells us that there’s something there.