How I Handle Birthers and Climate Change Deniers
The real problem is that they are taken seriously instead of being quickly dismissed for the moronic jokes they are. Imagine someone telling you the earth is flat or that there are 57 known communists in the US Congress? We all know how wrong they are and that the scientific theory of the earth being round proved to be true and that the communist allegation was made up to feed the anti-red hysteria by a self-serving political opportunist.
One, refuse to take them seriously. Do not become angry or engage in debate. The idea that there are two equal sides to every issue is horse hockey. With the climate change deniers there is one side, soundly based on science and proposed after much study and peer review. The other is a theology and oil industry fueled propaganda campaign and has little merit. Imagine a discussion based on black magic being responsible for climate change? Would you chuckle and tell them to STFU? Or imagine a nutrition argument read from a Hostess manual on the health benefits of twinkies? Any nitwit who dared to repeat it would be laughed as a moron/tool.
Here is how I handled a climate denier recently. I was an invited guest at a special dinner that followed a tour of some of the most majestic and quickly melting glaciers in the world. The person holding the dinner organized and manged tours and was a very high ranking tour company official. The fact that they were melting came up and much to my shock he brought up the 'nonsense of the theory of climate change' being responsible for the acceleration of glacier melting. My first reaction was shock but I quickly regained my composure and aimed my verbal gun and responded with 'the scientific theory of climate change is not like grandma's theory that the cake at Aunt Bessie's is especially tasty because of a special, secret ingredient.' Adding a scientific theory is concluded after careful investigation and using the scientific method of the evidence and peer review. I got a big laugh from everyone at the table but our host fumed like Bill O'Reily does when his nonsense is pointed out to his face. I knew I had the upper hand but had to be careful to be respectful to my host and avoid totally humiliating him at the dinner table. He responded with a ridiculous charge that theories are not proven, which is true, and have no merit until they are called laws. I am not sure how he came to this inane conclusion but challenging it wasn't worth the effort and it all smelled like a big smoke screen. So I let others speak and debate and then when my opportunity came added that there were other scientific theories that have been challenged, much like climate change, include the scientific theory of the earth being round and the scientific theory that the earth revolves around the sun. This was very potent and our host clearly no longer wanted to debate the subject, knowing he was outgunned and that his argument exploiting the confusion over the word theory wasn't going to fly.
A new co-worker recently told the entire office at a company dinner that the he was of the opinion that Obama was not a United States Citizen. He let that bomb drop and we all sat in stunned silence for a moment. I have heard these people on TV and on boards like this but had never actually met one. My first reaction was to go to town and cut his crap down unmercifully and point out that the entire birther movement is little more than a hardcore racist reaction to a black man holding the highest office in the United States and bringing up politics, especially KKK politics, at a company event, was a poor decision. But I knew I couldn't and did not want to create a scene or make everyone uncomfortable. I got it together and quickly responded, with a full throat chuckle included, that I thought he was hilarious and what was next, was he going to tell us about Mitt Romney being a unicorn? Or, in less than subtle dig at the inherent racism, Aunt Jemimiah was in back and had made the fried chicken that has just been served and was going to come out and do a jig for us? Everyone laughed and I knew the conversation was over. He and I get along well at work and the subject has never come up again. (Although I do plan to let him know that my free time between now and November will be working to make sure Obama gets re-elected.)