Between Scientists & Citizens

Advocacy: take advantage of your opponents’ commitments

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We interrupt this program…. For a brief mention of Esquire’s profile on Marc Morano.

I spend most of my time looking at what people have said.  Every so often, though, it’s possible to get a glimpse of the “backstage” process through which the public speech was designed.  In a previous post on Morano’s techniques, and in my summary of lessons learned, I stressed that advocates need to rely on their opponents’ commitments as starting points for their own arguments.  Here’s the man himself saying the same thing to his colleagues, to a planning meeting at Copenhagen last year:

“Don’t quote the skeptics,” he begins. “Use the words of their fellow scientists.”

He pushes a key on his laptop and a slide appears on the screen behind him: COPENHAGEN CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS MUST FAIL.

“Let’s play a little game. Who said this? Was it Sarah Palin? Was it Senator Inhofe?”

A familiar voice calls out: “James Hansen, hahahahaha.

“James Hansen! James Hansen said this conference must fail! So if anyone asks you this week, How can you be against this? say, We stand shoulder to shoulder with NASA’s James Hansen!”

Morano stands at the podium grinning. The joke, of course, is that Hansen opposed the conference because it didn’t go nearly far enough to solve the problem, which is the opposite of Morano’s distorted meaning.

He triggers another slide. It’s a prominent scientist saying the Climate-gate scientists should be barred from the United Nations climate process. “This is not a skeptic,” he crows. “This is a UN scientist!”

Next is a leading British science journalist saying that most of his environmentalist friends have gone into denial about Climate-gate, hoping the crisis will go away.

“Again, you don’t have to quote a skeptic. Use their words.

[Updated 3/31: Since Morano at least in this debate with Maslin seems to be careful to hold his opponents to their exact words, I was surprised by Esquire’s claim that Morano made an “obvious mistake” in quoting a climate institute in the Netherlands.  Morano replies to this charge on his blog, pointing out that he did not quote the Dutch scientist(s?) as saying that sea levels are not rising–he quoted them, he says correctly, as saying the rise in sea level is not accelerating. Again–exact words.]

Written by jeangoodwin

March 31, 2010 at 7:05 am

Posted in stray remarks

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