Quote mining – a tool for denialists

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The Australian’s War on Science 59: Quote Mining
[Via Deltoid]

The Australian‘s daily column called Cut and Paste should more properly be titled Quote Mining. Look at their latest effort:

Re-insurers don’t seem to think that climate change is causing an escalating number of catastrophes

Peer-reviewed paper by Eric Neumayer and Fabian Barthe of London School of Economics and funded by re-insurers Munich Re in Global Environmental Change, November 18, 2010:

Applying both [conventional and alternative] methods to the most comprehensive existing global dataset of natural disaster loss [provided by Munich Re], in general we find no significant upward trends in normalised disaster damage over the period 1980-2009 globally, regionally, for specific disasters or for specific disasters in specific regions.

But what does the very next sentence of their abstract say?:

Due to our inability to control for defensive mitigation measures, one cannot infer from our analysis that there have definitely not been more frequent and/or more intensive weather-related natural hazards over the study period already.


It is always important to check the original quotes used by anyone but particularly used by denialists. The latter almost always use quotes improperly, revealing only a part of the quote and not providing any sort of context.

Because denialism is all about fitting the facts to their Cargo Cult world. IN this case, they left out the important parts, the part that completely undermined their argument.

Now, they obviously read the paper. They know what the authors wrote. By leaving out the relevant part, they reveal themselves as people more interested in driving their own narrative than in printing facts.

That is how easy it is to discover who is a denialist and who is not. Denialists knowingly use quotes to prove their point, even when they know that they are using the quotes improperly. When denialists create a Cargo Cult World, they require that the narrative is more important than facts and are willing to mislead to prove their point.

If someone has to mislead, misconstrue and lie to make an argument, you can pretty much tell they are a denialist trying to live in the Cargo Cult World they have created.