New Yale study shows funding behind the effort to mislead Americans on climate science
By Bob Berwyn
Organizations funded by ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers form the core of a disinformation network that has spawned a vast body of literature that deliberately tries to deceive the public about global warming, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
The research by Yale University researcher Dr. Justin Farrell closely scoured more than 40,000 texts produced by the climate change counter-movement (164 organizations), finding that organizations with corporate funding were more likely to have written and disseminated texts meant to polarize the climate change issue.
The study also shows that corporate funding influences the thematic content of these polarization efforts, and the “discursive prevalence of that thematic content over time.”
Specifically, the organizations funded by ExxonMobil and the Koch Brothers family foundation try to create doubt about whether greenhouse gases are causing the Earth to warm, and whether global temperatures are increasing, among other things.
In other words, this is how the climate-science denial sausage is made, said Robert Brulle, a Drexel University sociology professor who has done similar research. The careful study shows that ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers family foundation, among others, have funded a network of think tanks and advocacy organizations that are at the heart of the effort to create uncertainty about climate science, Brulle said.
“If you want to know where climate disinformation comes from, this tells the story,” he said. “The data is truly impressive, state of the art social science … it shows that the climate disinformation effort is well-coordinated, well thought out and well funded … it’s not just haphazard,” he said.
PNAS described the significance of the paper in a short statement:
“Ideological polarization around environmental issues—especially climate change—have increased in the last 20 years. This polarization has led to public uncertainty, and in some cases, policy stalemate. Much attention has been given to understanding individual attitudes, but much less to the larger organizational and financial roots of polarization. This gap is due to prior difficulties in gathering and analyzing quantitative data about these complex and furtive processes. This paper uses comprehensive text and network data to show how corporate funding influences the production and actual thematic content of polarization efforts. It highlights the important influence of private funding in public knowledge and politics, and provides researchers a methodological model for future studies that blend large-scale textual discourse with social networks.”
Exxonmobil and Koch don’t fund everybody, they only fund a select group,
more information, more polarizing info, including climate science denial
orgs that are funded by them form the core of the climate denial effort …
if you wanna know where climate disinformation comes from
the data is truly impressive, state of the art social science
well-coordinated, well thought out, well funded – it’s not just haphazard
(another paper in nature climate change – how this impacts media coverage)
this appears in PNAS – 3d ranked journal
ExxonMobil clearly knew climate change was real, doing scientific research
for me, this lends credibility to the fact that exxonmobil was trying to mislead the public …
we’re looking at the sausage being made here ..
(NEXT WEEKS PAPER) it studies the syntaxtical similarities between what goes on on the web pages of these climate disinformation groups and what shows up in the papers …
Computational analysis suggests that corporate funding likely influences the nature and content of polarizing text pertaining to climate change. Political polarization has become a hallmark of climate change policy discussion, with multiple groups in various sectors contributing to public discourse regarding climate and energy. To quantify the influence of corporate funding in climate change discourse, Justin Farrell analyzed more than 39 million words of text produced by 164 organizations active in the climate change counter-movement between 1993 and 2013. The author examined the ideological content of the produced texts, as well as whether or not the organizations that produced the texts received funding from ExxonMobil or the Koch family foundations in the years studied. The author found that organizations with funding from one of these two corporate actors were more likely to have produced polarizing texts than organizations without funding from these corporate actors. Further, according to the author, corporate funding may have influenced the ideological content of produced texts. The results provide quantitative evidence of the previously suggested influence of funding in the climate change debate as well as an analytical model for integrating texts with the networks that created them, according to the author.