Over in the USA, there is now more than one organisation that specialises in fact checking: these are places where both political protagonists and observers can go and see just how true the assertions made in the heat of campaigning really are. The original fact checking resource is factcheck.org, from the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Also available for your perusal is the St Petersburg Times’ PolitiFact site, with its “Truth-O-Meter” (which has just awarded former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani its “pants on fire” accreditation for his “No domestic terror attacks under Bush” assertion).
So far, so reassuring, but the reactionary Right in the USA isn’t happy: anything from factcheck.org that doesn’t show their side in a good light brings the response that this source can be dismissed, as it’s “in Obama’s pocket”. The site is therefore held to be part of the conspiracy. This way of simply dismissing inconvenient fact has recently found its way across the Atlantic, and into the debate on climate change.
Recently, the climate change denial lobby (some of whom whinge about the use of the D-word, saying it makes them sound like Holocaust Deniers, thereby engaging in a sub-Freudian attempt to paint themselves as victims) have been coming up against organised bodies of information that is not palatable to them. One in particular, RealClimate.org, puts that information in a reasonably straightforward manner, with resident contributors who will take time out to explain the science and the arguments to those who ask.
It will be no surprise at all to those who have seen the dismissal of factcheck.org as being part of the conspiracy that RealClimate.org is now similarly being dismissed.