In the movie that put him on the Hollywood map, Matt Damon, as “Good” Will Hunting, lambasted a Harvard pseudo-intellectual for reading “the wrong ***ing books.” He then proceeds to inject garbage politics into the movie by citing Howard Zinn’s piece of revisionist self-loathing “A People’s History of The United States.” While his recommendation is wrong, his observation regarding mis-focusing is an apt one.

I recalled that little exchange when I saw a screen grab of a YouTube “fact-check” that had been tacked onto a vid from PragerU. The matter presented therein is that YouTube is automatically attaching rebuttal messaging onto content that its algorithms flag as contrary in some fashion. In this case, the subject is global warming, and PragerU is critical of the conventional message regarding global warming.

YouTube’s rebuttal text includes “Multiple lines of scientific evidence show that the climate is warming.”

Lets go with that.

If you’ve suddenly emerged from 40 years in a bunker, you can take that sentence merely as a summary statement, with no subtext or implication. However, just about all of us have been bombarded with global warming narratives for decades, and so the sentence carries (and is intended to carry, given its placement) an affirmation of several other points: that global warming is man-made, that it will continue, that it’s a problem, and that we i.e. governments around the world need to do something about it?

Does the YouTube statement actually say that? No, but its placement is intended to propagate a message.

If you accept the widely-declared narrative that human carbon emissions are warming the planet, and that warming will have major negative effects, either today or in the future, you consider the statement a warning against the content of the video. If you are skeptical, you are probably (and justifiably, as I discuss below) suspicious of the intent.

In both cases, however, all that has happened is that you’re driven to a binary “who is telling the truth?” decision, that takes your focus away from the real questions. In other words, “is the climate warming” is the wrong ***ing question.

What are the right questions?

These, and others:

By how much?
By what cause?
By what mechanism?
Will the trend continue?
Will the trend accelerate, decelerate, or remain steady-state?
Is the current warming a positive, a negative, or benign?
Will future warming be a positive, a negative, or benign?
What confidence do we have in predictions of future change?
What remedies can we apply to combat future change, if it’s going to be a problem?
What cost, today and on future generations, will those remedies impose?
How much of an impact will those remedies have on future change?
What is the actuarial cost-benefit balance of those remedies?
What is the cost-confidence balance of those remedies vs the predictions?
What role has politics played in the analysis and reporting of climate change?

None of these are answered by “the climate is warming.”

These and other questions are the real matter, and yet they are all ignored by the many who equate “climate is warming” with “it’s a problem we must address (via one prescription), lest we all die.” If you’re not among those who equate thus, congratulations, you understand something about science and logic. If you are, perhaps you should ask yourself why, and consider that you may be allowing personal biases infect your thinking. While it may very well be that the answers to the fourteen questions that you consider to be correct/accurate support an “act, or die” conclusion, “the climate is warming” itself does not.

By the way, and here’s the nefarious part: The aforementioned 4 does not present a message that runs contrary to “the climate is warming.” Watch it, it’s only 5 minutes long. The video both narrates and illustrates that, from 1800 to 2000, “the global mean temperature has increased slightly and erratically by about 1.8°F.” The video also notes that this datum is believed and accepted by both those who think global warming is a “act or die” problem and those who think we don’t have evidence to support that alarmist conclusion.

So, why tack on an addendum that says what it says, if the video itself asserts wide acceptance that “the climate is warming?” What is the rebuttal? What is the fact check? What is the point of messing with someone else’s content?

What’s all this about?

A suspicious mind might think that YouTube has flagged PragerU as a “climate denial” source, and is pre-emptively besmirching its reputation in the eyes of casual viewers and surfers.

A suspicious mind might think that this is an underhanded tactic to keep you from watching non-conforming videos, from thinking for yourself, and from exploring ideas that don’t lead to a desired conclusion.

A suspicious mind might think that YouTube is infusing the politics of its rules-makers into what in theory is an open forum, with a goal of skewing public perception in a particular direction.

It’s hardly a secret that the major social media platforms have shown favoritism for the Left’s lines of narrative, and the evidence is pretty strong that dissenting voices that aren’t deceitful, provocateur, wacky-noodle, or sneaky-tendentious have been lumped in with those that are. The Russia-meddling story has gotten people agitated – including the people that the social media platforms don’t want agitated i.e. politicians and MSM narrative-writers, and now the platforms are trying to show “responsibility” by curating content.

But, at least in this case, the “informative” addendum YouTube tacked on is actually misleading, since its attachment to the video suggests that the video will tell you the climate is not warming. In its effort to “fact-check” and/or stanch the dissemination of falsehoods, misinformation, “fake news,” and the like, YouTube has actually done so itself, by hinting that the video will present a message it does not, in fact, present. Some will see the addendum tacked on, be led to suspiciousness, and not watch the video and/or make a blanket assumption that PragerU is not to be trusted on the topic of global warming (or, perhaps, at all). And, as a result, some will continue to ask the wrong questions.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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