Let us salute the heroic secret agent at the Guardian who subverted this quietly sinister article by giving it a brazenly sinister title and undid most of its power to persuade at a stroke: Don’t give climate change heretics an easy ride.
Fun as it is to play Galileo, the author, an Oxford academic called Jay Griffiths, is not calling for the Holy Office to resume work against climate “deniers”. Oh no, she’s far too nice and British for that sort of thing. She reveres democracy:
One more thing is required of academia: to play its role right at the heart of democracy. Being adequately informed is a democratic duty, just as the vote is a democratic right. A misinformed electorate, voting without knowledge, is not a true democracy. Society needs the expertise of academics in the most important issues: climate science above all.
I would propose a system of certification for media articles in which there is a clear issue of social responsibility – a kitemark of quality assurance. It would be awarded by teams of academics, and be given to the article, not the journalist, recognising the facts, not the sometimes spurious credibility of being a “personality”. It would be awarded when the article is accurate, using reliable sources and peer reviewed studies. There already exists the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, which answers journalists’ questions to help them achieve accuracy. A misinformed electorate, voting without knowledge, is not a true democracy.Accuracy must not only be achieved, but be seen to have been achieved.
The certification should be voluntary.
I am relieved that she saw fit to add that it should be voluntary, but even with that, there is a whiff of early Dolores Umbridge here. “A misinformed electorate, voting without knowledge, is not a true democracy.” The modern tendency to make a god of democracy has its own dangers, but it is still the least worst form of government – and a democracy is not denatured by a misinformed electorate, or any other sort of wrong electorate. That’s the point of democracy, actually.
In so far as Jay Griffiths’ proposal is not merely the class interest of an academic talking, I suspect that it is another eddy in the same current of opinion that has led Michael Mann to sue Mark Steyn for libel.