By Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB), January 30, 2014
Let’s start this article by examining the deceptive use of words and phrases and later i will explain how i believe such deceptions are used in the global warming debate.
A few examples of what i mean.
What exactly is being promised by a sign in a store window that says, “Save up to 50% on everything in the store?”
Does it mean:
- The discount is 50%
- The discount is somewhere between 0% and 50%
- The discount applies to everything in the store
- The discount only applies to some things in the store
- Nothing in the store is discounted
- All of the above.
Of course the correct answer is “F” – all of the above.
This is a classic case of advertisers intentionaly using deceptive wording to create a false impression. In this case, the meaning of the words “… up to . . .” can mean anything from 0% to 50%, which renders the rest of the statement meaningless. So even if NOTHING in the store is discounted, this sign is technically true.
Though this kind of deceptive wording might be obvious to some, you might be surprised to learn how many people reading such a sign will interpret it to mean everything in the store is heavily discounted. Deception sells.
Another example . . .
Look at the NutriSystem ad to the right. NutriSystem ran print ads like this along with TV commercials and the promise-sounding sales pitch, “… lose all the weight you can at Nutri/System for only $199. Don’t wait, call now.”
Wait a second, back up the truck. Did you catch the deception in this pitch?
For only $199 you will lose all the weight you can? I’m sure you see the problem with this wording. So did the Federal Trade Commission (PDF).
If you don’t lose any weight, then this would be all the weight you can lose. See? NutriSystem didn’t lie – you DID lose all the weight you can – now pay $199!!
One more quick example and i’ll move on to global warming . . .
This used car salesman on the right. Is he guaranteeing you a loan or is he promising to accept your loan application (so he can toss it into the round file)? There’s a big difference.
How about car dealerships that promise “guaranteed credit” or “cash for all trade-ins!”
Do these sales pitches sound like you will get all the credit you need to buy your dream car and maximum dollars for your used car trade-in? Or do they really mean you’ll get $5 of credit at 25% interest and a whopping $10 for your used car trade-in?
Words mean things. How words are used, misused or not used at all (conspicuous by their absence), also has meaning and can give us a glimpse into the motives behind the words.
I was going through some global warming articles about a week ago and i found this statistic in an article from LiveScience.com:
My gut finds this statistic hard to believe. It just seems too high compared to other polls i’ve seen in the last few years on the same subject. Two years ago it was reported to be about 50%, now it’s reported at 63%? We haven’t seen any warming in over 15 years and the belief in global warming has climbed? Time to investigate.
So i found the survey upon which this statistic is based (Download the PDF) and i found something interesting on page 34 – the definition of global warming as it was defined for the respondents of this latest survey (November 2013):
For the purpose of responding to this survey, there are 3 criteria to consider to determine if you are a global warming believer:
- If temperatures have increased over the last 150 years,
- future temperatures may increase, and
- the worlds climate may change as a result.
Recall the “50% off” sign, the NutriSystem ad and the used car salesman ad at the top of this article. Now look at the wording in the above three criteria. There is one word that renders two of the three criteria completely meaningless.
Do you see it?
The weasel word is “may” in the second and third criteria.
“May” is synonymous with “optional” – something may, OR may NOT, occur.
Thus the three criteria above and these three criteria below are exactly the same from a logic standpoint:
- If temperatures have increased over the last 150 years,
- future temperatures may OR may NOT increase, and
- the worlds climate may OR may NOT change.
With the second and third criterias rendered meaningless, the question of whether global warming is real comes down to one, single question:
- Have temperatures increased over the last 150 years?
As reported in my last global warming article, this is the temperature record for the last 150 years:
Like asking if the earth is round, answering the question “Have temperatures increased in the last 150 years?” comes down to a simple, objective, recitation of fact:
- Yes, the squiggly line is higher on the right side of the graph than it is on the left side of the graph.
Because neither the definition used to assess the answer to the question nor the question itself asks the respondent to consider anything beyond the vertical movement of the squiggly line, the answer to the question cannot be construed as agreeing with the more expansive definition of global warming and the theoretical causes:
Anyone publicly writing about issues of science and medicine from a pro-science perspective likely gets many e-mails similar to the ones I see every week. Here’s just one recent example:
Im sorry the medical community has become decadent and lazy as most that follow your stance could care less to study the real truth. I have also seen it much more deviant as many professionals know the risks and harm vaccination cause but continue to push it through there practices because of pure greed. Many are also scared of loosing there practices for not following the corrupt industry. Im sorry but the medical industry has become drug pushing decadent slobs that only care about there bottom line.
The e-mailer clearly has a particular narrative that he is following (in addition to the amusingly common poor grammar and spelling). He even writes at one point in our exchange, “the details really don’t matter at this point what matters is what the bigger picture…” He is certain of his big picture conspiracy narrative. The details are unimportant.
Being on the receiving end of an almost constant barrage of such medical conspiracy theories it might seem that such beliefs are extremely common. Of course, such e-mails are self-selective and therefore not representative of the general population. I was therefore interested to see a published survey polling the general population about such beliefs. The survey is published in JAMA Internal Medicine, authored by Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood.
Here are the six survey questions and the percentage who agree or disagree (the rest indicating that they do not know).
The Food and Drug Administration is deliberately preventing the public from getting natural cures for cancer and other diseases because of pressure from drug companies. (37% agree, 32% disagree)
Health officials know that cell phones cause cancer but are doing nothing to stop it because large corporations won’t let them. (20% agree, 40% disagree)
The CIA deliberately infected large numbers of African Americans with HIV under the guise of a hepatitis inoculation program. (12% agree, 51% disagree)
The global dissemination of genetically modified foods by Monsanto Inc is part of a secret program, called Agenda 21, launched by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations to shrink the world’s population. (12% agree, 42% disagree)
Doctors and the government still want to vaccinate children even though they know these vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders. (20% agree, 44% disagree)
Public water fluoridation is really just a secret way for chemical companies to dump the dangerous byproducts of phosphate mines into the environment. (12% agree, 46% disagree)
The numbers are not surprising, in fact I would have guessed they were a bit higher, but again that perception is likely distorted by my e-mail inbox. They found that 49% of Americans agreed with at least one conspiracy, and 18% agreed with three or more. This is in line with the level of belief in non-medical conspiracies. They did not publish, but I would be interested, in the percentage of people who said they disagreed with all of the conspiracies. Many of the respondents indicated that they did not know if a particular conspiracy were true, likely because they had not heard of it before, but were unwilling to disagree on plausibility grounds alone.