The XX Factor

Sarah Versus Climate Scientists

Emily , I think part of the answer to your great question about why Sarah Palin gets to make up facts and be taken seriously by serious publications is that serious publications are ever more terrified of antagonizing people who take Palin seriously. Better to let her speak than be seen as part of the vast media conspiracy to silence her. Whereas normal people see life as a series of complex events, Palin always sees a pattern of evil plots against her and people like her. Any attempt to marginalize her just proves she’s right.

If you read her global warming op-ed closely (another great debunking courtesy of Marc Ambinder ), it’s clear that what undergirds all her scientific misstatements and bad logic is yet more good old Palin-centered conspiracy theory: A bunch of e-mails are built up to represent the entirety of a “highly politicized scientific circle.” Proposals for climate-change legislation are “schemes.” Poor Palin is clobbered by “radical environmentalists.” In Palin’s world, there is always an evil, coordinated master plan to be exposed. But what precisely is the dark plot most of the world’s climate scientists are trying to perpetrate? I can’t figure it out, and Palin never tells me. Are they part of some insidious solar-panel conglomerate? I’m as fond of paranoid conspiracy theories as the next guy, but leave it to Sarah Palin to give voice to the secret narcissistic hope that climate change is really all about persecuting her.

Photograph of Sarah Palin by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.