Richard Tol has another article about how claims of a scientific consensus don’t stand up (you can read it here if you really want to). It’s the standard message that he’s been promoting for quite some time now and I really can’t bring myself to point out the flaws again; it’s just getting tedious. I’m also tired of always being a critic. I thought I might, instead, try to write something a bit more positive.
I think what Richard has done here is a fantastic example of how persistence can eventually pay off. If you have some kind of agenda, or a message you’d like to promote, just be persistent; eventually you will succeed in getting it out there. It doesn’t really matter if what you’re saying is strictly correct, or not. It doesn’t really matter if what you’re saying is balanced and objective, or not. It doesn’t really matter if what you’re arguing against is something you’ve already accepted as being true. Just keep going. Eventually you will succeed.
Ignore those who point out your errors and tell you that you’re wrong. Ignore those who point out that your behaviour leaves much to be desired. Few people are sufficiently persistent, and so they’ll eventually just give up. You’ll be left to promote your message, free from the criticisms of those who would rather your audience were informed, than misinformed.
Now, there are of course some big caveats. Your message does need to appeal to some kind of audience, ideally one with some power and influence. There’s no point doing this if you won’t actually achieve something. Your message also has to be at least plausible, and you do need to avoid promoting something that would be obviously objectionable and/or libelous. Of course, you’ll be reasonably safe from claims of libel, as most who typically complain about such things would probably be in your audience, rather than amongst those about whom you’re writing.
This strategy also isn’t for everyone. If you have any interest in maintaining some actual credibility, this may not be optimal. If, however, that doesn’t particularly bother you, then carry on. It can be a particularly successful strategy, as long as you have suitable persistence and little interest in what others might think of you.
So, there you go. People think that I can only be a critic, but sometimes I can see the positives in what those with whom I broadly disagree are doing. I think Richard is the living embodiment of the saying if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!. Maybe we could all learn a lesson from this episode? Maybe this is a strategy worth considering. On the other hand, if you have any interest in maintaining a shred of dignity, possibly not. Similarly, if you would like the strength of your argument to be based on something other than your critics simply giving up, this may not be for you.