Deniers’ talking points spread via the same process as that of all urban legends
John McGrath, a contributor to Grist, made an important comparison between how the internet contributes to making urban legends look legitimate and how it is used in spreading climate chaos denialism:
It highlights the odd dynamic of the Internet: tiny, vocal, crazy-ass minorities can nevertheless be numerous enough on the Internet to appear more impressive than they are.
So we get never-ending rumors about Barack Obama’s birth, and now no doubt Sarah Palin’s daughter. We get the spectacle of the media inventing 9 out of 10 angry Hillary supporters of the PUMA mold, and of course we get it in larger ways too: the “controversy” over climate change is just this phenomenon writ slightly larger.
Journalists need to develop new filters for the Internet age, and one of them is this: just because a nominally large number of people say something, doesn’t mean they’re important.
The difference is that spreading doubt about the causes of climate chaos is more important to bigger interests and is a long-term rather than short-term project. It is well-funded with paid full-time staff devoted to spreading urban legends aimed specifically at delaying action. Nevertheless, the process is essentially the same, as McGrath said, only on a larger scale.