The biggest threat to the denial of any scientific fact is evidence showing that there is a scientific consensus. Scientists are sceptical and questioning by their very nature. They love to poke and prod everything to see if it withstands scrutiny.
When scientists agree this is a sign that some serious prodding has ensued and that the evidence withstood it. That’s why studies like Oreskes 2004, Doran 2009, Anderegg 2010, and Cook 2013 showing that scientists agree the planet is warming and that we’re causing it are such a threat to science denial. Which then make them a prime target for attacks, I have more than enough articles on this website chronicling the attacks on just the Cook 2013 paper.
A lot of those attacks are very conspiratorial. Not surprising as the denial of science almost always has it’s root in a conflict with a person’s world-view. This means it’s not about the evidence, as science deniers don’t have any evidence to back them, and thus anything and everything must be attacked that highlights this. This certainly makes effective science communication very interesting, but it can also be a source for a bit of bemused entertainment:
According to this tweet John Cook founded the journal Environmental Research Letters so that he could publish his consensus paper. Strange that this would be necessary as Naomi Oreskes, Peter Doran, William Anderegg, and other scientists got their research published just fine.
Of course it’s not the case that Cook founded the journal as he published his research in the 8th issue of Environmental Research Letters (the journal released its first issue in 2006). It’s probably easier to shop around to get your research published than to found a journal 7 years before you publish your research (or 6 years before you start working on the research paper).
With how easy it is to show that this conspiracy isn’t true the tweet was retracted. But how uncritically this conspiracy was accepted in the first place does highlight the problem with the global warming ‘sceptics’. They truly go beyond simply doubting or not knowing to straight out conspiratorial thinking. Research like Lewandowsky & Oberauer 2013, Lewandowsky & Gignac 2013, Smith & Leiserowitz 2012, and more research like it, clearly demonstrate the link between denial and conspiratorial thinking.
Which also puts into context Cook’s hobby of collecting conspiracy theories. It must be great fun collecting these conspiracies and figuring out what the origin of the conspiracy is.