It seems that, no matter how well-established a phenomenon is, you can find someone out there who will deny it. For example, I just ran some search terms through Google: I searched for the phrase “X is a hoax”, and compared the number of hits I got when X is a hoax to when it is some well-established phenomenon. For example, there are apparently about 38,000 people willing to assert that AIDS is a hoax. It’s not a perfect method, but it’s obvious that People On The Internet Are Wrong. A lot.

Search results for the phrase “X is a hoax”, where X is some well-established phenomenon like global warming, or an actual hoax, like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The actual hoaxes are a bit behind.

But does it really matter if people on the internet believe weird things? It might nt, but weird beliefs don’t stay on the internet, and can impact public policy debate. Since climate change showed up on the political radar, contrarians have been telling congress that it’s not real, or that it’s not a problem. And now that ocean acidification has appeared, contrarians have appeared in congress to deny and trivialize it as well.

 

One such person is Dr. John Everett, who this spring appeared before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The testimony he presented dismisses concerns about acidification (HTML PDF). However, though he introduces himself as a scientist, he is only able to make the claims he does by systematically distorting and misrepresenting the science of geochemistry.

 

I encourage you to read his testimony. Over the next few posts, I’m going to be taking a critical look at what Everett has to say. Does it actually stand up to scrutiny?