Steve Zwick Says Burn The Deniers (Metaphorically)!

Steve Zwick flips outThere is a scene in Woody Allen’s Radio Days in which we see a diminutive old man from Rockaway Beach who, one day, snaps and runs out of his house in his underwear—t-shirt, shorts, socks with garters. He stops every so often, turns and waves a butcher’s knife. The old man desires to menace and terrify, but he comes off like a confused, impotent old man. It is a comical performance.

And in yet another instance of life imitating art, the scene was played out yesterday in Forbes by Steve Zwick, who played the old man. Poor Zwick’s unfortunate weapon of choice is purple prose, which of course is never very frightening. However, Zwick’s apoplexy appears to have unhinged his faculties so he may not be responsible for his actions.

Zwick edits something called “Ecosystem Marketplace” (I won’t bother linking to it) whose stated purpose is as “an online news service that reports on market-based solutions to environmental problem.” In other words, Zwick makes his living touting environmental causes, so it should not surprise that those who are not concerned as he that the world is coming to an end are the objects of his enmity. Skeptical opinion robs his purse.

Here is his butcher’s knife:

We know who the active denialists are — not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies. Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay. Let’s let their houses burn. Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.

They broke the climate. Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?

Now if that isn’t funny, I don’t know what is. Poor Zwick! I can just picture him in front of his keyboard, a manic rictus fixed across his face as he hunts and pecks those phrases onto the screen. I can even detect pride in his words, which shows you how far gone the sad creature is.

Says he:

[T]he denial machine is ratcheting up its disinformation campaign, and therein lies the problem. Every time someone validates or fine-tunes the science, ten or twelve well-funded and active propagandists pop up to distorting it — usually by twisting the attempts at fine-tuning into “proof” that the models are fundamentally useless…

By “well-funded and active propagandists” poor Zwick had in mind people like yours truly. It would do no good, in his advanced state of crackerness, to tell him that I have never made any money from my work in climatology, that, in fact, my activities in this field have harmed me much more than they have helped me, and that the same situation holds for all of us skeptics. Similarly, it would be shouting into the void to let poor Zwick know that it is people like him, environmentalist groups, and most scientists whose livelihoods depend on promulgating a dim view of the future.

We skeptics are all on the outside: of government, of the media, of the academy, of even the business world. The closest I’ve ever come to an oil-company executive was the last time I rented a car and pulled into the Shell station.

Poor Zwick says of me and other skeptics that it “is a very public record of who has been lying to the public and who hasn’t — and it’s time to start using this information to make the liars and shirkers pay.” At least we can see from this how the man’s episode began. He has the idea that there in only One Truth in science and that all should be made to speak it, that descension is a moral crime, a sin, and therefore should also be a civil crime.

Of course, there really is One Truth, in science or in any field, but the real question is if we know it. Not all truths are known with certainty. Poor Zwick’s disease does not allow him to recognize this obvious fact. I am not expert in the DSMV IV, but this disorder surely has a name.

We needn’t end on a glum note, for there is good news that poor Zwick’s state may not be permanent—or that he fears an evil worse than climate change: being sued. For he has amended his original rant to say please don’t burn skeptics’ homes, that perhaps skeptics haven’t done anything illegal, etc. He is still unable to free himself from using the appalling word “denialist”, but we remind ourselves that some cures take time. Get well soon, Steve.


  1. Luis Dias

    Let’s not feed the trolls, mr Briggs. Ignoring is the most powerful force of the universe.

  2. Katie

    Ignoring them only emboldens them.

  3. Katie

    PS Where are the editors?

  4. Luis Dias

    Ignoring them only emboldens them.

    But that’s the funniest part!!

  5. Mack

    “…an evil worse than climate change: being sued.”

    Good one!

  6. Ra

    The climate zealots claim they can foretell the future and control the climate by dickering with a few parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. When I ask for some examples to support this amazing claim, they don’t have any. Who is lying to whom?

  7. j ferguson

    Is there a single “well-funded” denialist? If so, whom?

  8. Tom S

    A spit for a spit. Very mature. Stirring up raw feelings is fun. Who the hell is Steve Zwick?

  9. I want a “manic rictus” too! Why is it loons like Zwick get the best bits and we’re left to write begging letters to “merchants of death” (silly me thought they sold electricity). Silly me also thinks it’s hypocritical of eco-loons to preach a “low carbon lifestyle” while taking full advantage of the “high carbon” necessary to merely exist, let alone eating, travelling to work, jetting around to preach to the chauvinists who’ll listen and absorb every word uncritically.

    Spending all your time analysing the motives, political background and mental attitude of those who merely question your beliefs doesn’t move your argument (or the world) forward one iota. It’s the last-ditch defence of the “consensus”.

    “Have you got an explanation as to why the world has failed to warm for the last x years while CO2 continues to rise?”
    “Well yes, I have several – one of them must be true, so our hypothesis remains unchallenged”.

    When Lavoisier demonstrated the increase in weight of oxidised tin, demolishing the phlogiston theory, the “consensus” came up (phew!) with the nonsensical explanation that phlogiston had negative weight. These days its aerosols or something, anything with negative feedback. These days output from computer models is called “evidence”.

  10. I think he is saying “Have a ball of fire scare crow”a classic line from the Wicked Witch of the East in the film “The Wizzard of Oz”.

    Definition of Witch-hunt from Wikipedia: A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials. The term “witch-hunt” since the 1930s has also been in use as a metaphor to refer to moral panics in general (frantic persecution of perceived enemies).

    Beware the flying monkeys, Mr Briggs!/sarc

  11. Will

    I’d like to propose a new drinking game. Every time someone says (or writes) “the science” it’s time to have a drink. I can just see college students everywhere clogging the enrollment line for climate and social sciences classes!

    Maybe an iPhone app, which when it detects someone say “the science” plays the sound of trumpets as if God him/her/itself approved. Or a browser plugin that chances “the science” to “the word of the thermageddon apostles”

  12. Will says:
    21 April 2012 at 12:24 am

    Indeed – “the science” doesn’t say anything, it’s interpreters of same who make the statements. Even worse, newspaper and web reports put words into the mouths of authors, words into their cited papers, draw unsupported conclusions, or simply tell lies.

    I just found a piece of lying crap on Grist, no surprise there. It claims a NOAA page
    contains the statement
    “The idea of a global or hemispheric “Medieval Warm Period” that was warmer than today, however, has turned out to be incorrect.”.

    In fact that page contains neither the quote, nor even the one word “incorrect”, but the exact opposite. The Grist author isn’t just guilty of exaggeration, or hyperbole, or even misinterpretation, but lying plain and simple. Such people think their readers just won’t bother or are too dumb or trusting to check the source.

  13. This may surprise you, but the Zwicks of this world are already burning our homes down. It’s not a vague threat; it’s an actuality.

    Besides the eco-terrorist arsonist nutjobs, dozens of whom are in penitentiaries right now doing hard time, the US Forest Service and BLM are incinerating millions of acres of public land, on purpose, every year. They have even gone so far as to firebomb forests (old-growth spotted owl forests in Oregon) using exploding glycerin IED’s launched by helicopter. Firestorm crown fires result, killing every living thing.

    Deliberate government Let It Burn fires not only destroy our forests, they often jump the legal boundaries and burn private land, ranches, farms, homes, and businesses. In the last few years alone, thousands of homes have been burned to the ground by unfought fires emanating from unkempt, unmanaged Federal lands. Hundreds of people have died in those government fires.

    The attitude of the Feds is similar to Zwick’s. Their fires are “ecological” and if your home is in the way, too bad for you.

    At the same time as the Feds are preaching carbon abstinence for you, they are volatilizing carbon from our public lands like nobody’s business. More than half the carbon emissions from western states are Federal fire generated.

    It’s not just double-speak. It’s a war waged by the Feds against our citizenry. Zwick is a clown, but don’t let that fool you into thinking his neo-fascist “environmental” cohorts are not serious.

  14. Noblesse Oblige

    OK so Zwick is whacked out. So what should we do about him? Ship him off to a nuthouse as he would with us (after our houses burn down and we have no homes). No. Let him continue his diatribes. The more this kind of stuff gets out, the more the saner among us see these whackos for what they are.

  15. Will

    Noblesse Oblige: I’m sure that is exactly what the Jews of Poland and Germany were thinking too. You’re making the sometimes-lethal mistake of assuming the world sees things like you.

    Zwick, much like David “people are maggots” Suzuki, are preachers of hate who have dehumanized certain peoples of this world. If we ignore them then the blame is ours to share if their ambitions are ever realized.

  16. Dan

    Well said Mr. Briggs, well said!

  17. Ric

    Its folks like this that are the source for new words like “libtard” or “envirotard” or “enviro-not-mentalist” that come to mind.

    It will take their community to clean up and distance themselves from mentally challenged pathologics like this one if they desire to maintain any credibility when engaging the general public and the professional world of good honest scientists.

    Then again, I would not expect less than this Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels voice of the enviro scorched earth promoters.

  18. Rich

    There seem to be meme that conservative bloggers are all funded by some fat corporation or person and spew the lies because they are paid. I have come across this a few times lately. A new direction from the progressives to dismiss other opinions that they cannot refute?

    Have others been seeing this also?

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