A Reading List for the Narrowminded

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Amazon has apparently sent my copy of The Deniers, Lawrence Solomon’s book version of his tiresome Denier series in the National Post, a review of which will follow when it arrives.

But Amazon also followed up with a list of books they think might also interest me: a handsome reading list for anyone who is determined to remain delusional about global warming.

Tops on the list is Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, a Heartland Institute favorite by the not-very-credible Fred Singer. Next up is Bjorn Lomborg‘s Cool It, a disingenuous argument that the money we are NOT spending to defend against climate change would be better spent helping poor people in Africa.

Amazon offers Economic Facts and Fallacies, which the right-wingy Human Events praises for revealing a set of “economic facts” that are “all too often ignored by lazy politicians and a relentlessly Leftist media.” (For example, it’s really no problem at all that women make less money than men and are poorly represented in management.) There is also Taken by Storm , Ross Mckitrick and Chris Essex’s argument that climate change is just too darn complicated so we should ignore it at our leisure. And finally, there is Gusher of Lies, a book by Energy Tribune editor Robert Bryce, who tells us that energy dependence is a good thing, really.

All of you Amazon shoppers have probably seen lists of books like this before: they are computer-generated advertising efforts reporting that people who bought The Deniers had also bought these other books. It is, on one hand, an apolitical marketing effort that could actually be quite helpful for people who are trying to identify other books (or CDs) that they might enjoy.

On the other hand, the mechanism tends to herd people into like-minded groups, steering them to sources that reinforce their biases and preconceptions. Where a regular bookstore might send you to the “climate change” section, or even the “general science” section, Amazon leads you by the hand directly to the “climate change denial and weird right-wing political theory” section. As a result, people who count themselves extremely well-read on climate related issues (who have, say, read three of four books on the topic in the last year) can avoid reading a single word that challenges everything they wanted to believe when they set out.

It’s creepy – insulating and sort of anti-democratic.

The interesting sidenote here was the music recommendations that accompanied Amazon’s book pitches. Apparently, die-hard climate change deniers listen to Radiohead and, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss . Who knew?

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