by Morgan Freeberg | February 16, 2013 12:32 pm
On the whole climate change thing, as far as the science goes, my position isn’t too remarkably different from blogger friend Phil’s. I think it is perhaps measurable lately, due to our inevitably sharpening skills and technology in measuring things, that human activity is having an impact on the environment around us. But not in any way remarkably different from the effect any other species has on its environment, as the environment certainly has an effect on all those species. It is a relationship involving mutual dependence and mutual effect.
This is simply not the question crying out for resolution, I think. Or if it is, then this thing we lately call “science” is clearly not the tool to be deployed in answering it, for we lack certainty in our understanding of what the tool is. You can’t draw a straight line with a straightedge that isn’t straight, and you cannot use one enigma to resolve another. This thing we lately call “science” is different from the science I know, in two meaningful ways. First, at key points in its exercise, it is evidence-immune. Climate models assume a certain warming from carbon, this will release a certain quantity of water vapor, a climate sensitivity is presumed by which this water vapor will continue to heat things further, and by such-and-such a date the temperature will be up so-and-so degrees. It doesn’t happen, so this climate sensitivity number is re-computed with this objective in mind of “Hooray! We’re still doomed!” And so the “science” triumphs. Trouble is, it’s triumphant over reality itself, and when that is the objective then it’s not science anymore.
The other thing is, its foundations are all screwy. Real science is impure and flawed, by nature, since it is exercised by impure and flawed humans. It cannot strive toward purity, it can only strive to maintain awareness of its own flaws and find ways to tamper down the effect of those flaws. I’m hearing this phrase “peer review” thrown around quite a lot; it seems to be lost to history, that this is supposed to be peer review’s purpose, to try to sift the flaws of the human condition away from the work, and minimize the effect of the vestigial remnants that can’t be removed. This thing we lately call “science” seeks to exacerbate the effect of the flaws of the human condition. It uses peer review to keep them in. We saw this in the University of East Anglia e-mail scandal, which isn’t supposed to count anymore because…quite predictably, just like Atlas Shrugged villains…the institutions involved convened a big fancy panel which then cleared the key players of any wrongdoing.
That is, of course, what institutions always do when they prove the Conquest Rule a bit too well (#2, organizations not explicitly right-wing sooner or later become left-wing), and then get caught at it. These elements are constants in the equation. Some blue-ribbon-panel, filled with functionally anonymous VIPs in which the rest of us are supposed to place unlimited trust. Ooh, a panel! And, a clean bill of health from the panel. Well okay then, move along folks. Nothing to see here. Wouldn’t want to question the panel.
But the fact remains. You cannot settle questions in nature or anything else, using an implement to settle the questions that is, itself, questionable. I have no doubt that the climate is changing, none whatsoever. That is what it is supposed to do. Who ever said otherwise? I have a lot of doubts in some of the other things, like the tipping-point concept first and foremost. But when people use the “science” to show me I shouldn’t be questioning this or anything else, I’m noticing the differences between real science and this square-quote “science.” There’s a lot of anti-science and red-dot science involved in this weird brand of science they use. Which is to say, it’s more important to get rid of information than accumulate it, and it’s more important to figure out what’s going on by way of feeling than by way of rational thought. After a time, the only similarity I can see between real science and the “science” being used to convince me of the tipping point, or other things, is the word itself.
And it becomes unavoidable to conclude that we must be studying the wrong thing. Knowns cannot be delivered to us by way of an unknown. Can’t draw a straight line with a straightedge of questionable straightness. The science, itself, must be studied.
And based on all I’ve seen over the years, going back to the beginning of Al Gore’s crusade about this, before his vice-presidency during which time he did little or nothing about it (link goes to video that auto-plays): This doesn’t seem to be science, as we have known it and understood it through the hundreds of years before that time, but a big bundle of pathologies.
In my opinion, we are way too quick to accept the label, to trust it unconditionally. Good science doesn’t demand trust. This “science” does. Well, we should not comply. We should study the pathologies that give rise to it. We should be studying these before we find out what it has to say. We cannot depend on this new-age brand of “science” to minimize the effect of human frailty against its effectiveness in finding the right answers. Because it doesn’t believe in those frailties. First step to reducing the effect of something, is to believe it is there, and this “science” doesn’t reach that first step, so it cannot reach any subsequent one.
I have identified twelve. They are generally distinguished from one another although there are exceptions to this, in that some are strongly related, and in some places overlap considerably. Each one of the twelve could reasonably be described as a personality disorder, with greater logical defense than many other foibles and eccentricities that really are diagnosed as personality disorders. And, on a side note, that has always struck me as a bit odd and weird about the way we do things in this modern day and age: We think of things that are not disorders as disorders, and think of things that really should be considered disorders, as not disorderly. Both with mental and behavioral health, we do this.
But the following should be diagnosable. Diagnosis is the first step toward treatment. Not-diagnosing is the first step toward taking things more seriously than they should be taken, and I think that’s the mistake we’ve been making here.
1. If I can’t have it, neither can you (wealth and income)
This has long been recognized as a telltale sign of mental instability, at least since the heyday of mystery novels during which time many villains sought to eliminate their former belles who found new suitors, with the motivation of “if I can’t have you than neither can he (or anybody else).” We know this is not a proper way to think. And yet much of the global warming legislation proposed, particularly in the international accords, is based on this charter principle of “developing” nations being given waivers to pollute more than the “developed” nations. The public at large, generally, doesn’t understand how bad the situation is.
To be sure, when you start to consider the economic consequences of implementing some of the solutions proposed, it does make sense. In the same way that a waitress making minimum wage would be completely devastated if she was taxed at the same rate as a millionaire, the developing nations would be similarly devastated if called on to implement the same targets as a developed nation. But that’s just justification for the same progressive politics we see with our tax system, and in both cases, progressivism is the point: Those who have more, should be taken down a peg.
If you have tall poppy syndrome and like having it, that’s all very helpful. But let’s be honest, that has nothing to do with saving the planet. If we’re in imminent peril because “humans” have trashed the environment, we wouldn’t be starting with the objective of granting some of those humans a break. That would make no sense. But if we’re out to redistribute resources and re-align the balance of power among nations, then it would make lots of sense. Well, that’s the way climate repair is done. So what really is the mission? What really is the goal?
Climate change “science” hurts people. Because it is supposed to.
2. If I can’t have it, neither can you (sense of purpose)
Where tall-poppy syndrome has to do with taking the advantaged down a few notches, crab mentality has more to do with sharing a fate. “I don’t care whether not I live, so long as you die.” It is said that if you carry a crab to a kitchen in a bucket, you need a lid on the bucket, but if there’s more than one crab then you don’t need to worry about the lid. Every time one starts to crawl out, the others will pull him back in.
Climate change “science,” when it is channeled into political action, invariably fosters an attack on achievement itself. It seeks to elevate the cost of energy, so that it can elevate the cost of building things that help people. It does this under the guise of helping people. This is not just irony; it is derailment of the entire argument, for no responsible or effective thinking can proceed from a point where some meaningful thing is conflated with, and perceived to be identical to, its opposite. The real goal here is to equalize sense of purpose. Some people manage to have one, and some people don’t. The ones that don’t, rather than focusing their energies on coming up with one, seek to attack the productive livelihoods of others.
3. Collectivist organization (lucre)
Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle and other works, and noted socialist candidate, hit the nail on the head here: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” Ayn Rand, speaking through John Galt during the famous fifty-page speech, hit the nail on the head again: “The man who speaks to you of sacrifice speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be master.” Climate change champions who speak of this “science,” don’t show the curiosity that is associated with real science. Their minds are all made up. They’re in the mode of “when do we get to the fun part, where I tell everyone else what to do and they go do it.” They aren’t seen wanting to learn anything, for a simple reason: They don’t want to. They intend to be the masters. They think the new world order will result in a “salary,” or some other kind of bonus or livelihood, or power.
4. Collectivist organization (creativity inhibit) (partially redundant with #2)
You can tell a lot about people by the way they observe and celebrate human achievement. We’ve got a lot of people walking around among us who make a lot of noise celebrating what key historical figures have done in the past to help us out here in the present; but, they don’t celebrate these things the way normal people do. Just as a sentence can be framed in active voice versus passive voice — “I picked up the ball” versus “The ball was picked up, by me” — inventions and discoveries can be described in the same way. The person who actually did the thing, can be singled out for emphasis, or for de-emphasis. This is essentially the difference between old and new Star Trek episodes: Captain Kirk did this, Captain Kirk did that…fast forward a hundred years, you see “The Federation” has become some umbrella corporation, existing for the purpose of removing individual identity from any notable achievement. “Starfleet scientists” came up with this or that. And you can’t go faster than Warp Five.
We don’t need to wait for the faster-than-light engines to be invented to see this in action. People are scared of individual achievement right now. They find the collectivist lifestyle to be a soothing tonic, because it dulls down the sharpness of human victory. You didn’t build that. Nobody should be able to accomplish anything unless they’re in a group effort.
For the achievements we require tomorrow, we can always count on government. Government is like Starfleet: Safely anonymous. No one individual will get the credit.
5. Turnstyle (you can’t make a living until you punch our dance card)
For centuries, it has been a human ambition we don’t like to discuss, to become a turnstyle in the middle of the linear progress of others. This pathology doesn’t seek to diminish the success of others, or to obstruct it, quite so much as to tax it. And so we have college classes that purport to enhance the future earning capacity of the students that attend them, but don’t do anything to make it happen. We have commission after commission after commission, and board after board after board, awarding and revoking licenses and certificates. These pieces of paper are tickets, in the sense that if you do not have one, then you cannot “enter.” You cannot practice. Some of them are enforced by law, and you can be arrested or fined for doing X without having Y.
For no practical purpose, since the members of the board do not have the confidence of anybody. Oh, the board does, but the people on them who make the actual decisions, do not. For the most part, nobody involved even knows their names. But their decisions are supposed to be infinitely wise, and therefore, unquestioned.
It is true that a certification process can be used to elevate quality, enhance order and diminish chaos. That has the possibility of being the intent, and also the effect. It does not necessarily follow that these are the case. Certifications can be used by big companies to keep little (newer) companies out of the market. And they can be used against the big companies, too, by their governments.
Some people are motivated by this. Obviously, if that is the motivation, it isn’t too helpful to anybody else, so it’s fair to call it out when the possibility exists.
6. Repent for the End of the World is Nigh (partially redundant with #5)
Another sad thing about human faults and frailties that we’ve seen for centuries, is this curious thing: A lot of people look forward, with breathless anticipation, to the end of the world. I mean, the imminent end of the world. Months or weeks from now. Curiously, never “sometime today” or “this coming Thursday” or anything like that. There has to be at least enough time for a media sensation to slowly build so people can become famous. It’s been going on so long that it is impossible to declare some constant window of time, since the history of “here comes the end of the world” stretches backward deep into the middle ages, and further, to when information flowed much more slowly. But throughout all that, it’s a constant that people look forward to the last page of human history being turned in the great massive book, and that they should be among the ones around to see it.
And it seems once they get that far off the beaten path, most of them continue onward to include this other vital ingredient: “We” caused it. Yes, God’s p*ssed at something we did, or we’ve been hurting the environment…I remember when it was we were endangering the species and doing a lot of littering, and we wouldn’t have any water to drink. Nowadays, we’re spewing stuff into the atmosphere and making it hotter.
The fear that these people don’t want to face, is this: In this massive dusty diary of human existence, from its birth to its eventual demise, we are somewhere in the middle. That notion fills them a dread they cannot even fathom, can’t keep it in their heads for a microsecond. For that means, there is nothing exceptional about us, save for the good and bad things we do. We won’t be around to sing Amen. You and I won’t be around to see the back cover slammed shut. We’re just insects, living for a season, and if we want to be immortalized as special insects then we’d better get busy.
These people fancy themselves as being imbued with some special power to appreciate human mortality, thinking themselves keenly and uniquely aware while everyone else stumbles around in ignorance, with false delusions of immunity from eventual death. The truth is the exact opposite of this.
7. Look at Me! I’m Doing Good!
8. Look at Me! I’m Doing Good! And You’re Not! (#7 is an absolute, this is a relative)
9. Look at Me! And Stop What You’re Doing! Right Now! Do What I Say! Or We’re All Screwed!
This is the central plank of modern liberalism itself. We saw it with ObamaCare and a whole bunch of other progressive ideas throughout the last hundred years. Here, I’ll describe it, and you should take note of how detailed I can get as I describe it — and yet, you cannot tell from my detailed description exactly which legislation I have in mind, or even if I have one in mind, since it applies to all of them.
There is a plan. The plan is going to involve some benefits, along with some obligations. Those who are to enjoy the new benefits are not necessarily to be the same as those who labor under the new obligations, but that’s just the way things are going to have to be. We are all to be put under the protection, and effect, of the plan. The plan is very important. A crisis awaits if we do not implement the plan. The plan will cost, but the cost of doing nothing will be considerably greater. We must “act,” as soon as possible, and this action has to involve invoking the plan, right now. There is to be no opt-out from the plan. It must affect everybody whether they want it to or not. The plan cannot be tested out in a sandbox. It has to affect everyone, on the production floor as it were…we’re pretty sure it’s going to do what it’s supposed to do, or in any case, you should not be allowed to suggest otherwise.
Even though the plan should be imposed on everyone, only a few people among us should have any say in figuring out further details of the plan. Some people will have to leave the room, because they lack the “qualifications” to suggest anything constructive. They lack understanding, and/or sanity, and/or good pure clean motives. They should leave so we can have our grown-up talk. Yes, the plan applies to the commoners, but only the elites can say what the plan is going to be. In fact, that is most of the plan; a lot of monologuing about who can’t shape the plan. We are not allowed to point this out in mixed company lest an argument ensue, but those who have the greatest faith in the plan, seem to believe most strongly in that aspect of it. Some loathed people among us should be stripped of any & all influence, particularly with the details of this plan that has not yet been fully formed.
But on their way out of the room, could they please leave their wallets and purses behind. We like their money. Just not them.
10. It Are Science. I Talks Science. It Makes Me Teh Smarts.
In the same way a guy with a little d*ck feels the need to drive a big, impressive-looking, cherry-red sports car…some people feel the need to discuss scientific findings in great detail, even as they demonstrate highly questionable understanding of what those findings really mean, or of the way science really works. One wonders why they feel the need to do this. It obviously has to do with defining their identities, just like the guy with the sports car. They’re compensating for something. I don’t know what, exactly. I imagine the answer to that would vary from case to case.
11. Creation vs. Destruction
It’s easy to define this problem; it’s done through the defining. If you like to go through the motions of building something big and grand and remarkable, but can’t define what exactly it is, then you’re probably afflicted with this personality disorder. If your enemies would be able to easily define what it is you seek to destroy, and you in large part would agree with them about this, then that pretty much settles things. You would then be a destructive agent masquerading as a creative force.
There’s a lot of this going around, in this day and age. I’m not sure why. Since I’m already in trouble for using one Star Trek metaphor, I’ll dig deeper by imaging it has something to do with what Spock said in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: “As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.”
12. I Just Like Winning Arguments
Because it’s normal, natural human behavior to want to win, and not want to lose.
It’s not normal to make that a central, primary objective though. To lust so strongly after the “me smart, you dumb, me win, you lose” thing that you support the realignment of international balances of power, toward the benefit of complete strangers, just so you can win an argument. That’s as much a personality disorder as anything else. Well, just about anything else.
Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Rotten Chestnuts.
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