How Low Will Ken Green Go?

Ken Green, the conservative AEI scholar who has been sparring with liberal science writer Chris Mooney over which political party is more anti-science, keeps digging himself a bigger hole.

Yesterday, I called attention to the loaded language Green used to describe his political opponents. I also wasn’t very impressed with his sourcing. Via Twitter, Green responded:

Perhaps @KeithKloor prefers WikiPedia as a source for Carol Browner’s Socialist cred?”¦

No, actually I wouldn’t. Wikipedia is not considered a citable source by journalists. Let’s go to the Reuters handbook for how we treat and use Wikipedia:

Online information sources which rely on collaborative, voluntary and often anonymous contributions need to be handled with care. Wikipedia, the online “people’s encyclopedia”, can be a good starting point for research, but it should not be used as an attributable source. Do not quote from it or copy from it. The information it contains has not been validated and can change from second to second as contributors add or remove material.

Now, let me be clear. Wikipedia is a very useful source and I have linked to it from this blog when I want to direct readers to general information on a subject or a person’s biography. (I also scrutinize the linked-to source closely before recommending it.) But I do not use Wikipedia to support specific assertions, nor have I cited it as a primary reference in any of my professionally published articles. Moreover, in the journalism classes I teach at NYU, I say exactly what Reuters advises–that it “can be a good starting point for research.” Nothing more.

That Green is determined to find a citation to support his charge that Browner is “a card-carrying socialist” continues to speak volumes about his character. I really thought that, after some reflection, he would have stepped back from the sewer he was swimming in with the politically charged, hyperbolic language in his last post. Apparently not.

Oh, it is also amusing that Green would cite Wikipedia as a go-to source, when this is at the top of his own page:

Megaphone icon.
This article or section reads like a news release, or is otherwise written in an overly promotional tone. Please help by either rewrite this article from a neutral point of view or by moving to Wikinews. When appropriate, blatant advertising may be marked for speedy deletion with {{db-spam}}. (August 2010)
Unbalanced scales.svg
A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. It may require cleanup to comply with Wikipedia’s content policies, particularly neutral point of view. Please discuss further on the talk page.(August 2010) 

UPDATE: A new tweet from Green reads:

Want to smear those who dispute liberal public policies? Call them “anti-science.”

This is precious coming from someone who cavalierly tags a former EPA administrator and influential Washington insider as a “card-carrying socialist.” Green’s lack of self-awareness is breathtaking.

28 Responses to “How Low Will Ken Green Go?”

  1. Paul Kelly says:

    I think Green is kidding you on the square since you rejected the Socialist International Commission for a Sustainable World Society’s own website as a source. I agree with you on most things, but this is positively Rommian.

  2. Keith Kloor says:

    Paul, your comments on this matter are a real head-scratcher. It’s eminently obvious what Green is doing. You’re pretending his language and terms should be read in a neutral manner. Also, I’m not the one flinging around “environmental radicals” or “card-carrying socialist.”

    Your objections are disingenuous and trollish. What’s going on here with you on this?   

  3. All this wiki-bashing is a bit silly. Which bit of the page are we talking about? I assume “Until summer 2008 she was a member ofSocialist International‘s Commission for a Sustainable World Society,[61][62][63] although the commission’s web site still had her listed as a member in January 2009.[64]“. Is there some problem with that text? (bear in mind I haven’t got a clue who she is, not having actually read the page).

  4. Menth says:

    I also don’t understand why this is a scandal. I read and re-read Green’s piece and while there’s no doubt over his ideological preferences (same for Mooney) I didn’t find it nearly as “ugly” as some are making it and certainly not as ugly as some bloggers are on a day to day basis.
    Joe Romm can’t type two sentences without describing anyone who isn’t inline with his perspective as being “pro-pollution”.

  5. Paul Kelly says:

    I totally agree Green is using partisan rhetoric. He is, after all, in a partisan debate with Mooney. I’m a bit stunned by your calling it ugly and shrill. Brownwer did sit on that commission. She is from the ultra progressive wing of the Democratic Party. I even bet she has at some time proudly expressed a desire to bring radical change to the EPA and environmental policy. You know, outside of Green’s circle, radical and socialist are often considered compliments, not criticisms. And the “how low will he go headline” over a possibly tongue in cheek wikipedia reference is, to me, over the top.

  6. Keith Kloor says:


    How do you interpret the Reuter’s criteria for use of Wikipedia as “bashing?” Also, I thought I was pretty clear in acknowledging its usefulness while also reiterating its appropriate role for fact-checking and information gathering.

    As to the actual website and Green’s pointing to it, sit tight. That’s a subject for my next post on this matter. I make it a point now to break these things up into separate posts. This particular one was about the use of Wikipedia.

  7. Keith Kloor says:


    Yes, I’m sure Green was writing for the hard left outside his circle. You’re also deliberately ignoring the one part I singled out as ugly and shrill (but there were others). 

    I guess partisan rhetoric that qualifies as ugly and shrill is in the eye of the beholder.

    As to that website, see my comment to WC. 

  8. Paul Kelly says:

    Was there something other than environmental radical and card carrying socialist that I missed? Yes, ugly and shrill is in the eye of the beholder. Except at the DOJ where it’s in the eye of Eric Holder. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  9. Stu says:

    The language is normalised for the audience. If you’re on the receiving end of it it can feel very ugly indeed. But Keith is right- it’s eye of the beholder. The normalisation of this kind of thing is the problem. 

    I came across a bizarre quote by former Australian of the Year Tim Flannery not so long ago, on Richard Lindzen. 

    “His science is very valued in the area of physics; the problem with Richard Lindzen… …is his politics is to the right of Andrew Bolt and Genghis Khan”….  

    I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean. I guess it’s atleast a little creative…?


  10. Marlowe Johnson says:

    give me a f#$king break PK.  you’re being deliberately obtuse.  Even if you would describe yourself with those sorts of terms, the rather obvious point is that Greene’s using those terms in a deliberately derogatory fashion (since it plays to the prejudices of his intended audience).  But if you want to keep doubling down with the po-mo sophistry don’t let me stop you…

  11. Ron Broberg says:

    I fail to see how Green’s smears demonstrate a “lack of self-awareness.” Offence is the best defense. I’m sure he is both quite self-aware and remorseless. After all, its all for a higher cause.

  12. Steve E says:

    I can’t help but admire how prescient Swift was…opening eggs at the small end; opening eggs at the big end…
    When the debate is so specifically defined how can it not devolve into camps? 

  13. Paul Kelly says:

    I said above that Green was using partisan rhetoric. Of course he meant to slam Browner to his audience. I just thinks it’s like calling somebody a Presbyterian in front of a crowd of Baptists and doesn’t rise to shrill or ugly. 
    Po-mo sophistry is a new one for me. Don’t know what it is, but hope it’s not contagious.

  14. kdk33 says:

    I guess partisan rhetoric that qualifies as ugly and shrill is in the eye of the beholder.


    As evidenced by the posts on this blog:  Your side is worse, no your is, is not, is too, is not, is too.  Socialist.  Anti-science.  Your mother.  Say what?

  15. Ian says:

    Yeah! I think I just figured it out…po-mo = ‘post-modernist’ 
    And from wiki:

    The criticism of elements of postmodernism as sophism or obscurantism was played out in the Sokal Affair, where Alan Sokal, a physicist, delivered for publication an article about interpreting physics and mathematics in terms of postmodern theory, which he had deliberately written to mock postmodernist views on objectivity, determinism and the social construction of scientific truth.     

  16. Tom C says:

    This reminds me of an old Doonesbury comic where “Honey” an exchange student from China, gets called a communist and complains bitterly.  Her friend is taken aback and says “…but you are”, to which Honey replies “I know, it’s just the way you said it that sounds so bad”.

    Mr. Kloor – I think you have a real blind spot in this regard.  You name- call with the best of them but don’t seem to realize it.

  17. Tom C says:

    Mooney’s original list of “anti-science” positions was ridiculous.  He said the opposition to the cervical cancer immunization was due to “anti-science” Christians and then linked to an article that explained how said Christians thought it would encourage early sexual activity.  Maybe that is a good idea, maybe it is a bad idea, but it has nothing to do with science.  Likewise, opposition to embryonic stem cell research may or may not be a good idea, but it is a moral position, not a scientific one.  People who are not trying to score political points get the distinction quite easily.

  18. Keith Kloor says:

    At times I can be brusque, rude and overly snarky in comments.

    But name-calling with the best of them? I not only don’t realize it, I don’t see it. Feel free to call me on it in the future, or point out instances in the past that are equivalent to what Green has done. 

  19. Marlowe Johnson says:

    “At times I can be brusque, rude and overly snarky in comments.”

    let he who is without sin cast the first stone… 

  20. Bob Koss says:

    Keith, 18
    I won’t troll through prior threads looking for examples, but simply suggest this thread as an example. I had an exchange with you in comments 4-6 upon which you exited thread and it died shortly thereafter.
    Thanks for the opportunity to bring it up again.

  21. EdG says:

    Seriously Keith. This is an utterly pointless tangent simply because both sides of this debate say over-the-top things, and the AGW team is the worst.

    How about that video where kids who did not accept the AGW religion were blown up? Sweet.

    How about the kiddy-shock film used as the intro for Copenhagen?

    Fact. Browner was a member of an organization labeled themselves as ‘socialist.’ Whether she carried a card or not is irrelevant. And in terms of the actual AGW question, whether or not she was a ‘socialist’ is irrelevant.

    (Much worse, in my opinion, is that she was a ‘protege’ of that phoney windbag Gore.) 

    Every time you dive into this kind of muck you confirm, again, that this whole thing has NOTHING to do with real science. 


  22. David44 says:

    How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?  While you non-scientists trade snot over who’s the least scientific and most brusque, peaceful protesters, mostly college-educated young people who can’t find jobs, are being maced and beaten on Wall Street for daring to demand political redress.  Brusque?  Really Keith, where’s your outrage?  Walter Cronkite, a real journalist, must be weeping while he spins in his grave.

  23. kdk33 says:


    Perhaps you can parse this for me.

    I can’t figure what these people want.  Seems like their pissed about having to deal with real life and are conducting an organized bitching session.

    Probably they are having pre-marital sex and smoking pot – the hippies.

    Anyway, since you seem informed, maybe you can help me better understand.  I do, after all, have an open mind.  😉

  24. jeffn says:

    I was wondering why the all the partisanship and misdirection plays- calling a socialist a socialist is “shrill,” screeching “evolution evolution” as if it’s some sort of issue in anyone’s mind. Then I saw this:
    NPR: New Boom Reshapes Oil World, Rocks North Dakota. “Two years ago, America was importing about two thirds of its oil. Today, according to the Energy Information Administration, it imports less than half. And by 2017, investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts the US could be poised to pass Saudi Arabia and overtake Russia as the world’s largest oil producer. Places like Williston are the reason why.”
    Ah. The “energy security” angle has gone bye-bye. It’s even going bye-bye in the UK, where shale gas has just been discovered. So… the Malthusian dream dies. Again. Screaming, lamentation and the blaming of Republicans to follow. Good luck and have a great weekend.

  25. kdk33 says:


    In Ohio, there is, apparently, shale gas underneath the shale gas!

    But the eco-silliness has only just begun.  We are soon to learn that Shale gas is worse than coal.  That’s right, the greatest danger to humanity is no longer death trains of coal, but poison gas from under the earth.

    Actually, shale gas (and by extension oil shales) are one of the paths out of our economic doldrums. 

    1) shale gas makes the US a powerful energy play

    2) the associated liquids (and to some degree the oil) provide plentiful raw materials for a revived US petrochemicals business

    3) with energy pushing $3/MMBTU, and combined with high US worker productivity, the US could be a competitive manufacturing site again.

    Shale gas (and oil) is a game changer.  It isn’t localized; the economic benfits are arriving, already, in a variety of places.  Voters are starting to figure this out.

  26. Sashka says:

    Ken Green used the expression “a card-carrying socialist“. The reference is confirmed by the web page of Socialist International Commission for a Sustainable World Society that Keith finds unreputable and maybe he has a point (Is reputability in the eye of the beholder?). Having accused Green of using loaded language, Keith turns around and says that Ken is swimming in the sewer with his politically charged, hyperbolic language. (Is sewer also in the eye of the beholder?).

    Who is lacking self-awareness here?

  27. David44 says:

    Maybe this will help (ironic that we have to hear the explanation from RT, formerly known as Russia Today, but then they’re controlled by Russian oligarchs, not American ones.):
    Or maybe watching NYPD deputy inspector Anthony Bologna spray mace on penned-in, unarmed women is more to your liking:
    Or maybe unarmed flag-waving is now considered a crime in NYC?:
    Undoubted you’ll agree that these card-carrying socialists got what they deserved 😉
    (Sorry for hijacking your thread Keith – well, not really.)

  28. Eric Adler says:

    It seems to be a fact that Browner participate in a conference titled:
    XXIII Congress of the Socialist International, Athens
    Global Solidarity: The courage to make a difference

    On the program she is listed as follows:
    “Carol Browner, Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency under President Bill Clinton, Member of Socialist International Commission for a Sustainable World Society”

    Clearly her interest is in sustainability and the environment and this is the root of her participation.  This is not evidence that she is a Socialist.

    Since this page is still on the web, it doesn’t seem as if evidence of her participation has been erased from the web, as the right wing press claims.

    According to its web site, the Socialist International is not really a Socialist organization in the sense that it advocates the government ownership of the means of production.  According to its web site:
    “The Socialist International is the worldwide organisation of social democratic, socialist and labour parties. It currently brings together 162 political parties and organisations from all continents. (List of members in full)”
    So as pointed out in a previous post, there is no such thing as a card carrying member.
    The British Labor Party is a member. They have thoroughly renounced Socialism.
    Green’s characterization is distorted BS.
    The Socialist International is an alliance of Social Democrat and Labor Parties, according to

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