Arguing With Your Crazy Uncle About Climate Change

Forget “left-versus-right.” Or even arguments over taxes. The centerpiece of our current Phase Three of the American Civil War is the all-out campaign to discredit science.

P3Elsewhere I show that the War on Science is part of a much wider effort to destroy public trust in every “smartypants caste” — from school teachers, journalists, medical doctors and attorneys to professors, civil servants and skilled labor. (Name a center of intellect that’s exempt!) But nowhere is it more relentless than by savaging the one group in society that’s unarguably among the smartest and best educated.

It’s having the intended effects. Chew on this. Thirty years ago, in the era of Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley, 40% of U.S. scientists were Republicans. Today that fraction has plummeted to around 6%.  Can you blame them?

Why is this happening? I go into it elsewhere — the underlying motive for a campaign that will leave only one elite standing. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that everybody has this thing backward.  Scientists are not being undermined in order to argue against Human Generated Climate Change (HGCC). Rather, the whole HGCC imbroglio serves as a central rallying point in the campaign against science.

== The latest salvo  ==

Who Speaks for the ClimateTrust the once-credible — now murdochian — mouthpiece called the Wall Street Journal to publish a sophistry-drenched festival of talking points. Five Truths about Climate Change by Robert Bryce.

Yep, call it “truth.”  The Far Left spent years devaluing that once-proud word on a hundred university campuses, in their own version of a War on Science. Now the Entire Right — not just the far-fringe — completes the devaluation of “truth” down to Orwellian levels.  Take this sampler from Bryce.

“The science is not settled, not by a long shot. Last month, scientists at CERN, the prestigious high-energy physics lab in Switzerland, reported that neutrinos might—repeat, might—travel faster than the speed of light. If serious scientists can question Einstein’s theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth’s atmosphere.”

Urk!  Gurggle (*strangling sounds*) — I must let someone else answer this.  This cartoon from Sci- ənce! will make you both laugh and sob for your civilization.

==  How can you help win this phase? ==

Trapped between the Far Left’s own distaste for science and the Entire Right’s lemming charge, lured by Rupert Murdoch over the cliffs of insanity, what are  all the pragmatic-moderate liberals … plus those rare but admirable and deeply appreciated awakened paleo-conservatives and Smithian libertarians to do?

Why, what he have to do is fight this phase of the American Civil War, of course!  The “blue” forces were slow to rouse in the other phases, too, but finally got it together to rescue the Great American Experiment. Are we made of lesser stuff?

This fight won’t be with muskets or civil rights marches, but by patiently prying open the skulls of our crazy uncles and neighbors out there who swallowed the anti-future, anti-progress, anti-science hype recreating the Know Nothing movement of the 1830s.  It is going to take all of us — working on the smartest and most salvageable of these fever-racked neighbors, one by one. Getting them to calm down and re-join civilization.

It won’t be easy! Rupert’s fox-machinery supplies endless talking-point incantations to stoke trog fury. Go prepared.  Here’s a pair of sites to arm you.

==  How to answer your crazy uncle re: Climate Change ==

1) I offer my own  handy guide to engage intelligent people who only half swallowed koolaid.  Smart guys who proclaim they aren’t climate science “deniers”…  but “skeptics” instead.

In fact, this distinction is very real! Moreover, science benefits from critical questioning by genuine Skeptics!

Still, given the pervasive villainy of fox-propelled denialism, a burden of proof falls on those who claim to be above the fray and not Rupert’s hand puppets.  My article reveals half a dozen essential (if a bit intellectual) ways to test the claim. And if they pass? Then prove your own adaptability and lack of dogma! Engage and argue with such people, like adults.

2) Alas, most of those marching in Rupert’s Lemming Army don’t make such fine distinctions.  They’re fine with anti-science denialism and my intellectual points will be meaningless.  But if you think your crazy uncle has a — somewhere buried deep inside — the remnant of an honest “paleocon” conservative, then your role — your duty! — is to gather stamina and wear him down, for the sake of civilization.

Each ostrich conservative who lifts his head is a victory for America. Worth hosannas and paeans of joy. When enough of them get angry at the real villians – the monsters who hijacked conservatism – we’ll get back a conservatism folks can sanely argue with. Negotiate with. You can help, one crazy uncle at a time.

This site offers: simple rebuttals to denier talking points — with links to the full climate science. It’s extended, exhausting and somewhat repetitious. Print it before your next crazy-uncle encounter.

But of course… I found some gaps!  So I went ahead and wrote a few more. Add these to the printout.

== Some additional rebuttals to Denialist talking points: ==

1. Practical minded people don’t listen to Climate  Change chicken-littles:

The US Navy is spending a lot of time, money and effort planning for an ice-free Arctic.  The Russians are too, setting up sub-oceanic mining claims and outposts and reassigning a whole division of special forces.  Are the Russians and the US Navy and the Canadians and Norwegians all doing this for nothing? Because they are fools and chicken-littles?

2.  Climate scientists are clueless:

The supposedly stupid climate scientists are in many cases the very same people who improved the Weather Forecast from a 4 hour joke (remember those days?) to a ten day projection so useful that you plan vacations around it.  Sure, climate is more difficult, but it uses the same equations and same modeling systems. If they proved titanically competent in one area, don’t they deserve some benefit of the doubt in a closely related field?  Perhaps more than TV shills who work for coal czars and Saudi princes?

But of course Glenn Beck knows more than they do.

3. Scientists just follow the herd:

Top scientists are the most competitive human beings of all time.  Put three in a room and there’s blood on the floor. Below them, “young guns” are constantly looking for some giant to topple or “wrong corner” of  current theory to shine light into and make a reputation.  If you believe the meek, herd-following nerd image, enjoy!  It clearly makes you feel better to express superiority over people who are smarter and know a lot more than you do.  But… it… is… a… lie.

4. Scientists are pushing climate change for grant money:

Really? They’d lie for a $50,000 grant? All of them? Even the vast majority who have no such grants and work in other (related) fields?  Or who have grants that are secure forever due to their wondrously successful work in weather forecasting? Vastly more is spent on weather than climate: these tenured guys have no “skin” in Climate Change… yet they all believe it.

Oh, but Beck says they are all sucking up to the money gushers in Big Environmentalism. (Do you ever actually listen to your own words?)

How about the major prizes and grants offered by coal companies and petro moguls, for anti-Climate Change “research”?  Huge offers, often much bigger than those petty little grants from EPA, NASA, NOAA or private foundations.  Why don’t those coal-co offers draw serious, top-rank climate scholars, if they are all such money grubbers?

And how does it feel parroting the exact same lines as the Tobacco Industry pushed, when they cried “the jury is still out” about the health effects of smoking, and Tobacco shills claimed that anti-smoking scientists were all in it to become millionaires off grants from the Heart Association? Have you no memory? No shame?

More to the point, if you are so sure about this slander – that all the scientists backing Climate Change are grubbing for grants – HOW ABOUT OFFERING IT AS A BET?  Wagers are on the table.  Free money, if you’re sure! Follow the money, prove this and collect the bets. Only a coward would refuse. (Hint: when offered wagers, these folks always, always run away. Try it and watch them scurry for cover!)

5. Accepting the advice of 97% of the people who know about the climate would ruin the economy.

Wrong.  Accepting HGCC would only open us to finally arguing over the BEST methods to ease greenhouse warming.

Admitting that something needs to be done would not pre-judge the argument over what to do. It will just start that argument!  Many tools would be on the table and economic repercussions would certainly be a factor in negotiations and tradeoffs. We all want to keep the lights on. Given a choice, we’d all prefer the solutions that kept a vibrant economy.

Stop portraying scientists – and those who respect science – as unreasonable people.  Stop portraying them as people like yourself.

TWODA6. Solving Climate Change would veer us in directions we shouldn’t go.

Exactly the opposite of true. Most of the methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions involve increasing our energy efficiency and stimulating new forms of energy.  In other words, exactly the same things we ought to be doing anyway!

Even if HGCC proved to be an utter myth, it would still be worthwhile to bend major efforts toward efficiency and new energy, if only to wean ourselves off dependence upon foreign oil and filthy coal.  An accomplishment that George W. Bush swore would be his top priority… and that he sabotaged at every turn. (Hmm… look at his family friends and guess why.)

Indeed, follow the money behind climate change denialism.  It leads directly to… foreign oil princes and big, filthy coal. Congrats. You are in good company.

7. The Earth isn’t that delicate:

In many ways the planet is resilient. But here’s a fact that you will hear nowhere else, though as an astronomer I’ll vouch for it:

Our planet skates along the very inner edge of the sun’s “Goldilocks Zone” (GZ).  The sun has been getting warmer gradually for 4 billion years. (This has NOTHING to do with the rate of warming re climate change. A separate, slow but inexorable shift over hundreds of millions of years.)  Now the inner edge of the GZ is right upon us.  That means we must expel almost all of the heat we get from the sun as infrared rays and cannot afford even the trace amounts of greenhouse gas increase that humans have caused.  It sounds unfair, and maybe it is, but them’s the facts.

7. In the 1970s scientists were predicting an Ice Age.

An outright lie. There were a couple of very tentative papers, that’s it.  But this lie is dealt with in the big list of rebuttals that I cite above. So why do I bring it up now?

Because of a big, popular movie that illustrates just how widely people were already talking about HGCC, even in the 1970s. Proving that science never swerved. Go watch Soylent Green.

8. I don’t care, I hate science:

Yep, that is the fall-back refrain. Hatred of  people who know stuff.  Not just science, but also teachers, diplomats, journalists, lawyers, professors, medical doctors, civil servants, skilled union labor… you name a caste of knowledge and professional intellect — of knowing stuff – and it’s under attack.  Most vigorously by the foxed right (making Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley spin in their graves) but also by the loony far-left.

Pragmatic-moderate problem solving and negotiation were great American virtues. Culture War is betrayal.  Treason. And the chief purpose of denialism.

ClimateSkepticsAgain. Scientists aren’t being dissed in order to detract from the theory of climate change.  Climate change denialism is being pushed in order to help know-nothing-ism win the War on Science.  If our generation fails this test – if you refuse to do your part by rescuing some salvageable conservative, luring him or her back to the version of conservatism professed by real men like Buckley – then welcome to the Dark Ages.

See also: Distinguishing Climate Skeptics from Climate Deniers

David Brin

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Filed under science, society

42 responses to “Arguing With Your Crazy Uncle About Climate Change

  1. Excellent article. Thanks for another box of ammo to use in the war on science!

  2. With respect to claim #4 (“Scientists are pushing climate change for grant money”), you might be interest in this article from a climate scientist. If nothing else, read the last paragraph:
    “To sum up: climate research doesn’t pay well, the amount of money dedicated to it has been shrinking, and if the researchers were successful in convincing the public that climate change was a serious threat, the response would be to give money to someone else. If you come across someone arguing that scientists are in it for the money, then you can probably assume they are willing to make arguments without getting their facts straight.”

  3. Lonny Eachus

    Without going into too much detail (which would take up more space than this entire article), I read the “simple rebuttals”, and find them as a group to be disingenuous, often straw-man, hypocritical and self-contradictory. There may be a real gem amongst that pile of rubbish, but most of it is not worth the electrons used to distribute it.

    If you’re going to support Science, David, the least you can do is point to scientific arguments, rather than things like that pile of hypocritical sound-bites.

    • Mark Bryant

      @Lonny. You will get three sentences into your scientific explanation and your listener will suddenly adopt the deer-in-the-headlights stare. You’ll have blown your chance to connect. If you want to get their attention, stick to the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle. Get their attention first, even if you have to use the list. They will at least understand what you are saying. Then, if they want to know more, launch into your mind numbing scientific discussion. However, with non-scientists you MUST start out slow or you will certainly drive them away. They’ll walk off shaking their head saying, “I don’t have any idea what that buffoon was talking about.” At that point, they’re gone and all your scientific arguments will never get them back. So do the smart thing, use the rebuttals, no matter how repugnant you find them. At least you’ll have a chance to make a difference instead of pissing away a golden opportunity with they very same attitude that gets well educated people labeled as “elitist” in the first place. Talk to them, not at them. If you can’t do that, then stay away. You aren’t helping and are, in fact, hindering the effort.

    • “Without going into too much detail (which would take up more space than this entire article)…”
      Precisely. ; )
      Mark has the better idea.

  4. For year conservatives have warned about “post-modern” thinking or the idea that all truth is subjective. Now they have madethe “post-modern” a central plank of thier agenda.

  5. Mark Bryant

    “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” — Isaac Asimov, column in Newsweek (21 January 1980)

    Well done, keep up the good fight!

  6. James

    While I enjoy many of your posts, your premise here is, ironically, intellectually dishonest. Contrary to your assertion, most of the skeptics and outright deniers don’t rely merely on rhetoric for their positions, they rely on reports of scientists who reject or at least challenge the science (the methodology, the instruments, the computer models, etc.) relied on by the HGCC crowd. If there is a single study out there that entirely debunks HGCC, the fact scientists disagree with its results does not make the study wrong. It unfair and disingenuous to claim people who believe scientists with whom you disagree are somehow anti-science.

  7. James, no you are disingenuous, here. Did you bother reading this article? If so, you’d see that I have already addressed the non-cult portion of the Denier Movement…. those who claim as you do, to be merely “skeptics.”

    I make very clear that I know some people who are verifiably in that category and I proclaim them worthy of respect. I chide those who lump genuine skeptics into the same category as the fox-lemmings.

    Nevertheless, you badly need to read my challenge to guys like you.

    If you are, as you claim, scientific, then you should be able to recite the sacred words “I might be wrong.” Moreover, your stance that 97% of those who actually know the most about a field, who have modeled climate on 6 worlds and wrought miracles in weather appraisal, are fools.

    You owe it to them, and to civilization to at least read… not skim!… my article and apply the tests to yourself.

    • James

      You adopt a premise based on stereotype, not evidence, and that is what I disagree with. I don’t accept that most HGCC deniers do so merely out of a knee-jerk, anti-science reaction. To the extent you intended to show respect to those who are deniers or skeptics based on scientific principles, you were not “very clear.” Describing those as “intelligent people who only half swallowed koolaid” is far from suggesting they are “worthy of respect,” which they are.

      Moreover, don’t the 97% who “believe” in HGCC also have an obligation to say “I might be wrong?” Many of the 3% who disagree are adamant about their disagreement. Isn’t it their duty to convince the other 97% they’re wrong? Yet, you are advocating that those who believe in HGCC adopt a dogmatic approach and proselytize on behalf of that view, thereby closing their minds to the possibility they may be wrong.

      To be clear, I don’t consider myself “scientific” so much as I consider myself logical with a healthy respect for history. How many times as the prevailing scientific view been wrong? Even worse, how often has basing public policy on the prevailing scientific view lead to horrible injustices?

      I will certainly read your article, but I refuse to do it badly. ;-)

      • James, I think you’re missing the primary thrust of this contemplation. This is not a diatribe against the scientists who differ from the prevailing views in the field of climate. Bless their hearts and I support them crying to the heavens to get our attention for things that we may not have considered.

        This is a veritable handbook for those of us who are surrounded by good people who have easily accepted maxims sold to them for reasons other than scientific merit. This was a consideration that addresses the underlying reasons for the debate in the first place.

        Accepting climate change (never mind HGCC) is a royal pain in the ass! If we acknowledge it, then we have to do the intellectually hard work to redesign our manufacturing processes (even those that do simple things like produce food) to reduce the amount of damage they do to our surroundings. And in a world where we have to compete with other nations that will not do that, it means we have to work harder.

        There are some folks who will not do the hard work when it’s far easier to discredit those annoying jerks who studied advanced mathematics in school, wouldn’t smoke dope with us in the parking lots, and couldn’t generate 15 lousy rushing yards for the football team — and since we have the money and control the media outlets — well we win!

        Those people cannot be reached, but the good people who’ve been swindled by those folks may have a chance to see reason once more. I don’t know if all of the material in these talking points will strike home (for some of it is a little snarky David), but this is what we need! If the world is going to be forged by Thunderdome-like chants, then perhaps the folks who can actually understand the underlying mathematics and science can develop their own.

        Tidy your waste, smile on your face!

  8. I’ve talked to Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, both smart guys. The last I checked, they barely admit to global warming, let alone that humans help cause it. Convince them, and I’ll believe in the possibility of persuasion. Till then, I may maintain that Republicanism has no cure. ; )

    • Yes, Larry and Jerry are prototype “ostrich” republicans. Guys who are smart and savvy and who used to watch William F. Buckley on TV… a deep conservative but who brought on guests to challenge him… like Jon Stewart does. Today, the ostriches suckle on Fox talking points desperately clinging to loyalty to those who utterly betrayed conservatism, hijacking it into insanity.

      But we must keep working on them! Every ostrich who lifts his head is worth hosannas. It is part of saving America. If we waken enough, they’ll form a new conservative party that can (again) be negotiated with.

      Keep trying.

  9. Where is this “loony left” you keep talking about that’s anti-science? What are we talking about here…health food or something? I’m pretty “left,” and other than some “hippy dippy” stuff (mostly about food and the FDA, etc.) I see very little on my side that’s anti-science. Am I missing an area, or am I just not looking far enough left? Or, are you just feeling a need to assure everyone that “both sides do it”?

    • …you’re not far enough left. Believe me, the left has a lot of doggerel, superstition, and self-defeating rhetoric on its side too. Right now though, the societal discourse is dominated by the other side so it’s easy to forget.

      For example, I live around people who think we should all get our food from family farms and window box tomato gardens.

      The folks directly involved with Occupy Wall Street are learning first hand how hard it is to be effective in a consensus based leadership model when it scales up above 8 people.

      • If organic gardening is the Left’s “science rejection,” then a) I feel pretty safe with the Left, and b) it confirms to me that it was only mentioned in this article as a way to appear “fair and balanced.” By the way, most of the conservatives I know also like to get their “food from family farms and window box tomato gardens.”

    • The looney left are folks like these idiots with the Animal Liberation Movement who sabotaged a science experiment in order to spare the fish “pain and suffering”. Never mind that the fish were raised by the Tiburon Salmon Institute in order to replenish stocks. And never mind that, by releasing the smolts early, the ALM probably doomed most of them to being eaten quickly. Those poor fish had to be saved from the inhumane conditions of freedom from predators and ample food!

    • Briefer, the “Loony Left” that I encounter every day are folks who promote bizarre nonsense – usually devices that they are selling, such as bi-metallic wands that alter the structure of water by stirring. When pressed for reliable evidence, their eyes glaze over and they utter two words, meant to stop you in your tracks.

      Quantum Physics

  10. @briefer: I’d recommend you check out Karl Popper, for starters.

    • Never heard of him. Looked him up on wiki. Can you give me some examples of how his philosophy of scientific method has impacted the public debate? And the major figures on the Left that are buying it? And the Lefty media that’s pushing it?

      I guess that’s my point. I spend quite a bit of time reading and watching “Lefty” stuff. Unless my presuppositions are blinding me to something, I don’t see much on the Left that warrants this “and, of course, we all know they do it too” reflex.

  11. lorq

    I agree with David Brin’s thesis that most of the rhetoric around global warming skepticism is in service to a larger intention to discredit science. I recently found a good, if minor, demonstration of this at a website called “Knight’s Christian Commentaries and Worldwide News”:

    Here, a legitimate article is re-printed from the Los Angeles Times on the faster-than-light neutrino evidence at CERN. But the *keyword tags* attached to the bottom of the article run as follows:

    “Albert Einstein, antigravity, can neutrinos go faster than light, CERN, CERN lab, crackpot, Einstein, exotic matter, faster than light, faster than light travel, FTL, FTL drive, FTL engine, general theory of relativity, GTR, idiot, is Einstein wrong, junkscience, kook, lightspeed travel, looney, mainstream science, mainstream science cult, mainstream scientists, mainstreamers, Malcom Bowden, matter than can go faster than light, moron, neutrino, neutrinos, relativists, relativity, Science Cult, scientific evidence against relativity, special matter goes faster than light, special relativity, speed of light decay, speed of light in early universe, speed of light slowing, Theory of General Relativty, things that go faster than light, was Einstein wrong, what can go faster than light, when science is wrong”

    There are many interesting things to note about this list; just for starters, try Googling “Malcolm Bowden”. Then, also note the titles and subtitles of the “Top Blog Posts” at the right side of the page. Some examples:

    Animals Are Not Primitive — More irrefutable evidence against Darwinian evolutionary theories
    Bipolar Disorder — There is no such thing as bipolar disorder; it’s existance is a myth
    Bill Maher is an excellent example of the extreme confusion that doubting God and belief in Darwinian Evolution causes
    Global Water Vapor Changes Shows Another Major Flaw In Global Warming, Climate Change Hoax

    …Yes I know, this is a particularly fringe-y site. But it does demonstrate pretty vividly how climate change plugs into a pre-existing template of anti-intellectual and anti-science attitudes.

  12. I’m a EE, libertarian, pro-science, but I am skeptical of mainstream climate change claims. As is physicist Howard Hayden see his book “Bass Ackwards: How Climate Alarmists Confuse Cause with Effect ” and his one-letter disproof of global warming claims .

    I will concede that too many people who are fellow travelers are proponents of Creationism and conspiracy theories like 911 Trutherism. But being confused on these matters does not mean the only basis to reject modern climate change theories is anti-science. For some it is a sincere disagreement, and trying to rule reasonable debate out of court is probalby one thing stirring up the more fringe types who rightly smell a rat.

  13. Pingback: Short Reads: David Brin on Climate Change « Books Worth Reading

  14. Alex

    So the way to convince people to change their minds is to call them names, tell them they’re too dumb to understand the correct point of view anyway, and ascribe ulterior motives to them. Got it.

  15. Alex

    What happened to the David Brin who wrote this?

    Although my quibble with the linked article is that our systems of government are too corrupt, the moneyed influences spread too deep and wide (they cross all major party/faction lines, rest assured of THAT), for us to be able to do anything constructive urgently and with all due speed. Will the politicians and activists of the “left” give up pushing for things like all-inclusive welfare states, comprehensive wealth redistribution, and the ongoing construction of parasitic government jobs programs masquerading as an ineffectual bureaucracies, in order to cut a deal to save human life on Earth? I’m not holding my breath.

    • You seem to believe that the 95% of Democrats who are liberals share all these opinions with the 5% extreme lefties. There’s a simple test. Try cramming these Beckisms into the mouth of an average democrat. They don’t believe a single thing of the statements you made. The Democrats are not ruled by their monstrous dogmatic fanatics. The Republican party is. That’s the difference.

      • The Republicans are about as bad as you say, but the Democrats are as bad or worse–they scientific and economic illiteracy, labor theory of value, and so on. They are both illiterate collectivists.

  16. Crazy Okie

    As a scientist, I can speak directly to point 3 as regards other fields of science. One of science’s big problems is peer review. Peer review means that you can’t say anything too far away from the accepted consensus or you won’t get funding. On the premise that you can’t be right, because then the majority of other scientists – particularly the big names in your field – are wrong. And if you don’t get funding, you don’t get papers published and you don’t get tenure. So there is a STRONG incentive to go with the consensus. Don’t believe me? Look up Barbara McClintock. She discovered ‘controlling elements’ within genes. That was contrary to genetic theory at the time. It was 20+ years before someone else ‘rediscovered’ the same phenomenon and she was proven correct that it became accepted. This is a problem that has been widely acknowledged in the medical sciences, but as yet no one has come up with a solution.

    • And yet peer review is one of the great strengths of science. McClintock never lost tenure, always had students and general respect. Same with Wegner and continental drift. And most of the other so-called “martyrs.” They had to tilt against a standard doctrine, yes. But name another field of human endeavor ever in which it was so safe, protected, tenured to do so. Their trick? Do solid, regular science with three quarters of their papers and push the crackpot theory twenty-five percent of the time. That built professional respect, tolerance, and eventually a willingness to listen. No other area of human endeavor had better ways to question assumptions.

  17. David, wonderful to “meet” you via a share by Reese Jones. But I’m wondering how could you write such an excellent view of the anti-science movement without using the word “religion.” In my experience, I would estimate that 8 out of every 10 climate change deniers are bible-thumpers only recently armed with a few Glen Beckian “talking points.”

    • You may be right, but I doubt most of them were primarily motivated that way at the beginning. Bible thumping is just one more aspect of an identity imposed on them by ‘culture war.’

  18. And yet, the Christian anti-science influence has been a major factor steering culture and conversation for thousands of years. Witness the current wave of fundamentalism sweeping through most Protestant denominations today. Watching attendance and donations plummet, it does not take a pastor long to realize that he’d better get on the anti-evolution bandwagon if he wants to fill the pews. Meanwhile, sensible parishioners are cowed into placing decals on their cars depicting the Christian fish devouring the Darwin emblem.

    • This is true, but Christians are no more unscientific than other confused groups, including the left, and even modern scientists. And all of them seem to exhibit the human trait of being able to compartmentalize: which means, to not take their unscientific ideology too seriously, to marginalize it when realism is more obviously necessary for success.

      But consider the left: it has and still does to some degree endorse incredibly irrational and unscientific notions, including: aspects of environmentalism (recycling for its own sake even when it is not economically efficient; opposition to nuclear power); and collectivism and state worship–e.g. belief in central socialist/communist planning, and elevation of the state to the status of deity, perhaps to replace the role of God in their faux-secularism. As for scientists, they largely adopt not only some of these fallactious notions, but an incredibly naive, confused, simplistic, and fallacious understanding of the nature of knowledge and science: they basically suffer from scientism (see Mises, Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science).

      • Stephen, you are comparing a ripple to a tidal wave. While there is certainly dogma and error on both sides of the religion/science fence, at least the science side is open to debate. I believe that is the core of the scientific method. There is nothing on the fundamentalist religion side that compares to the robust evaluation of evidence that you and I engage in every day. On the contrary, Islamic fundamentalists will kill you for the “crime” of apostasy. Christian fundamentalists are more subtle, but still require adherents to accept irrational positions such as Biblical literalism and Papal infallibility.

        Compare the insignificant number of leftists calling for a Communist state to the rapid growth – in every state of the Union – of homeschool organizations and Christian schools teaching Creationism.

      • “Stephen, you are comparing a ripple to a tidal wave.”

        That’s a matter of debate. The consequences of the anti-scientific and anti-rational mentality that pervades the left are arguably worse than the mere ignorance and plain religion of the traditionlists. At least the latter do not pretend that their religion is scientific–except when pressed to when the secularist-statists force their own views onto children in irrational statist government schools. (I don’t think religionists would have to pretend Creationism is a science if there were not a battle over the curricula taught to everyone in government schools, and secularists support government schools–irratioanlly–which leads to this problem.)

        “While there is certainly dogma and error on both sides of the religion/science fence, at least the science side is open to debate.”

        to some degree, yes, at least among natural scientists and engineers, like physicists and chemists and biologists. But even there, government funding and dominance over academic (via grants, state schools, control of curricula, etc.) and the military industrial complex has had a significant and baleful effect. But sure, I tend to agree, to an extent–for these real scientists. The problem is most of the left does not belong do this category; they are as anti-science as the traditionlists; more so, in a sense, since they support irrationality under the banner of science.

        ” I believe that is the core of the scientific method. There is nothing on the fundamentalist religion side that compares to the robust evaluation of evidence that you and I engage in every day. On the contrary, Islamic fundamentalists will kill you for the “crime” of apostasy. Christian fundamentalists are more subtle, but still require adherents to accept irrational positions such as Biblical literalism and Papal infallibility.”

        I agree. but I do not believe the average adherents of leftism are in the slightest more adherents of the scientific method than are Creationists.

        “Compare the insignificant number of leftists calling for a Communist state to the rapid growth – in every state of the Union – of homeschool organizations and Christian schools teaching Creationism.””

        yet they still call for lighter versions of communism–various socialist policies, centralized control, more power to the state, and violent, brutal punishments meted out to those who dissent from the state order.

        The defenders of the left can not be any more pro-science, ultimately, than the religious conservatives you (rightly) condemn. The only rational stance is a secular, religiously-skeptical but also pro-property, pro-market, anti-state perspective. Only such a view is really scientific and rational. So, lefties, remove the beam in your own eyes, before you can coherently criticize the motes (or even beams) in the eyes of traditionlists.

      • The only rational stance is a secular, religiously-skeptical but also pro-property, pro-market, anti-state perspective. Only such a view is really scientific and rational.

        Let me restate that for you: “Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium, et invisibilium. Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum. Et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, Lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero. Genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri: per quem omnia facta sunt. Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram salutem descendit de caelis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine: Et homo factus est.”

        Stephan, when you speak about people you disagree with in a way that reduces their positions to bizarre caricatures, and then turn around and state your own positions as if they were God’s law, you are doing precisely what you claim to hate. You are no different than a person who loudly chants the Nicene creed when confronted with someone saying something which which they disagree.

      • Ted, was there a question? Or just confused mainstream positivistic scientistic pontificating?

  19. Crazy Uncle

    Dave, it is the scientists who have strayed from impartial and neutral expert analyses into political firefights, using scientific half-truths to support political ends, who have brought this upon us. It is the scientists who have claimed that the (climate) sky is falling based on extrapolating models beyond the range of the observations who have brought this upon us. It is the scientists who have conveniently started their climate “trend” analysis at the depth of the Little Ice Age, without admitting they are just looking at half a cycle, who have brought this upon us. It is the scientists in one field who have biased their “climate change” analyses by adopting false assumptions based on misunderstanding the results and conclusions from studies in other fields who have brought this upon us. You cannot defend “science” as an activity, or counter spurious climate change arguments successfully, until you purge the arena of these imposters who – through ignorance or design – assume the mantle of infallibility to cover almost absolute ignorance about the workings of the climate.

  20. Talk about a whole hearted regurgitation of Talking Points !

    ‘Scientism’ isn’t a bad name for a proposition that is inherently untestable because any ‘proofs’ ; of a half baked model excluding most of the bisophere as irrelevant turned to device of ‘prediction’ in a system open to space ; do not occur within the current time frame !
    Nor is ‘climate change’ any proof of the fudged mathematical models used to try and get congruence with arbitrarily picked data points on a miniscule timeline.

    Larry Niven blew cold. That’s funnier than you think – and in a novel about climate change and anti-science backlash too !

    Review — Fallen Angels by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michael …
    11 May 2010 … In a future in which science fiction is forbidden, a group of fen rescue two spacemen who fell to Earth and trek cross-country to find the rocket …

    Did you try the military intelligence resource for files on diverse ( not contrarian ) ideas about drivers of climate ?

    Were you aware that even environmental protection science activists the Suzuki Elders cautioned about ignoring geological trends in the past which indicated natural forces for extreme and rapid change exist ?

    You don’t need to go to corporately sponsored CFACT for wild stories…and you shouldn’t complain about active imagination !

    And … if you look at the cautions the IPCC ( who will receive fantastic tax revenues from global participation in a scam denuding nations of revenue for adapting to change ….while throttling the world economy by the throat…in a world where population will shortly start to nosedive from little incidentals like 1 billion under imminent threat of starvation and less than 3 years coal left in Appalachia…not to mention water resources that are being polluted at a fantastic rate ) include in their statements….reporting is overblown to say the least. Not that I don’t realize that the IPCC is funded by the same crew ( BBC,Tony Blair,etc.) that participated in the anti-science scare about WMD in Iraq following the parameters of the NPT TRAP.

    Which is where I came in Dec 4 2009…from geopolitics of nuclear power and demonization of nations trying to use atomic power peaceably while being harassed by the nuclear club ( aka The UN Security Council ) who, having unimaginable overkill of global destruction, posit the unarmed peacenicks to be the ‘true danger’.
    ‘The Axis of Evil’ : calling others what they are.
    Climate in Contention

  21. fck science .. we have ipads, google search and social media. we upgrade science every year. In Jobs we trust.

  22. I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this blog. I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade content by you later on as well.
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