Rule of thumb : they USUALLY have an agenda. USUALLY they don’t argue something for its own merits, they usually have an ulterior motive which their denial extends, and depends on their denial of a premise they dislike.
SOME will insist they are only interested in “free speech and open exchange”, usually those who resort to such a defense admit they are not interested in serious academic inquiry, which is neither open to laymen, nor subject to opinions.
For creationists and intelligent designers, their agenda is to not have evolution forced down their throats because they’re insecure about their faith. They may have more on their list of reasons, but that’s the common thread for almost all.
For 9/11 truthers, and Holocaust deniers, it’s anti-war, anti-occupation. They believe that exposing the truth about 9/11 or Holocaust, will take away the justification for Iraq war, Afghanistan, police state, and occupation of Palestine. Some of course, will admit they’re more interested in vindicating Hitler’s regime because short of Holocaust death camps, Nazi Germany somehow doesn’t look so bad.
Climate change deniers, really only care about tax dollars. They will deny whatever it takes, as long as they can, to avoid having to pay more for energy and oil consumption (this is not entirely their fault, liberals hate gas prices too).
So, to simplify this instruction manual, I’ll start with my favorite. You guessed it : climate change deniers. If a denier is genuinely a skeptic and has no agenda, he can pass this test without a problem.
Ask your denier buddy :
If you are guaranteed that there would be no new taxes and regulations based on carbon emissions, fossil fuel consumption, industrial growth,…would you care which way the globe’s temperature is changing?
If you are guaranteed that there would be taxes on the above mentioned, regardless of temperature change, would you care what scientists are saying about climate?
If they answer yes to both. They might be closer to a person honestly interested in debating climate, otherwise it’s admission they’re only motivated by taxes.
Now ask them this! If global cooling was used as a criteria for taxing carbon, while warming was presented as both a good thing and a justification for subsidizing, cheapening energy costs, would you help us find arguments FOR global warming AND man caused global warming? Would you help us deny global cooling?
If they say YES, then they lied!
A person who is sincerely only motivated by tax prevention is not a thought criminal, nobody likes taxes, and there’s also no guarantee that taxing carbon will help the climate. But a person who just doesn’t want to pay more taxes or have his lifestyle changed, DOES NOT NEED TO ARGUE WITH FACTS OR LIE ABOUT IT.
You don’t need to start with “global warming isn’t happening” to “it’s not us” then “it’s not bad” then “ok, it’s bad, and it’s us, but it’s still not worth taxing”. A good honest debater would concede all the small points to get the big point.
Just because you don’t want to pay carbon taxes, doesn’t mean you MUST accept that global warming is happening, but it does mean you don’t need to deny it. Now, what if you don’t want carbon taxes AND you’re not sure if global warming is happening? ANSWER : ADMIT IT!
What then? Once you’ve admitted that you DON’T KNOW if global warming is happening, but you’re open to it, we can actually talk about it. And IF we can establish that it’s true, it DOESN’T force you to change your position on taxes, we already know you don’t want taxes.
The PROBLEM with people who are dishonest about their agenda is this : if they start out with “global warming is a scam, it’s just trying to tax us” then you’re admitting, that IF global warming were true, you’d have a hard time refusing the carbon tax! This is like saying, if you admit slavery and gas chambers are wrong, then if they were true, you MUST admit the people who did them were wrong!
I have no problem with people who don’t want carbon taxes, I am one myself. I am not a global warming denier. But people who are lumped with deniers deserve to be, because they don’t know how to be honest.
This is why 9/11 truthers and Holocaust deniers get no support, it’s bad enough they are wrong, but even if they are right, people who agree with them on policy (that Israel and Iraq war need to be stopped) know that facts don’t matter. This is why policy debaters NEVER let the facts of this scale get in their argument. When do you EVER hear about Israel foreign policy advocates say that if it wasn’t for the Holocaust, Palestine can be free? When do you EVER hear Iraq war advocates say that if 9/11 didn’t happen, or if oil wasn’t in Iraq, we’d come up in a heartbeat?