Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sheer Human Activity


David Limbaugh informs us that a cabal of “enviro-Luddites” is intent on dragging Western civilization back to the Stone Age, even if it means giving up espresso machines and silicone buttplugs. Curiously enough, the evidence for this plot is precisely what most people would consider to be the evidence against it:

They accompany their manifestos with endorsements from hundreds or thousands of scientists, who serve as the functional equivalent of human shields to insulate their extreme claims from scrutiny by the not yet converted.
The “not yet converted” comprise Limbaugh and the Plain People he represents, who may not know much about science, but know what they like.
Though I certainly don't purport to be an expert, I doubt there is any more science behind their claims than that, for example, behind the ever-changing claims about the benefits or detriments of coffee, or the pros and cons of the Atkins Diet.
Alright, then. I don't purport to be a neurologist, but I doubt whether Limbaugh has the ratiocinative power of a spirochete. No doubt Limbaugh could shield himself from my honest scrutiny with “scientists” who’d tout his ability to write columns as “evidence” that he possesses higher brain functions. But that don’t signify with me nohow, on account of I knows what I knows.

Next, Limbaugh argues that people who believe in anthropogenic climate change constitute a religious sect. And not a good kind like his, which trades solely in empirical fact.
[A]t least our God encourages us not to abandon our reason or ignore doubts we might have. We are commanded to love God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind, and always to be prepared to give the reasons for our belief.
I’m not quite pedantic enough to sneer at Limbaugh for being unfamiliar with The Cloud of Unknowing or Concluding Unscientific Postscript. But I do think he ought to recall 1 Corinthians 1:21-23:
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles….
Still and all, there’s not much sense in contradicting Limbaugh’s views on the abandonment of reason, given that he contradicts them himself by claiming that he’s been commanded to love God with all his mind.

Speaking of self-contradiction, Limbaugh daringly invokes the delicate balance of life on earth as proof that life on earth is not delicately balanced (don’t try this at home, kids!):
[I]ts apocalyptic claims are born of the grossest form of humanistic pride, that which says that as a result of sheer human activity we will destroy the balance of life on Earth. 
Such hubris obviously prevents them from marveling that "the universe is specifically tweaked to enable life on Earth -- a planet with scores of improbable and interdependent life-supporting conditions that make it a tiny oasis in a vast and hostile universe."
Go ahead and re-read that as many times as it takes you to understand it; I’ll work on my needlepoint in the meantime.

Limbaugh ends by lashing out at the “pagan idolatry” of people who believe that Nature’s Little Kings could bring civilization-ending catastrophe on themselves by any other means than addressing climate change. Obviously, God would never allow “sheer human activity” to return us the Stone Age, unless we flout His will by daring to regulate greenhouse gases.

3 comments:

ntodd said...

The Earth is balanced, therefore it's impossible for humans, being a part of the balanced system, to unbalance it. Weebles wobble but they won't fall down? Got it.

roger said...

that paragraph, the one you invite us to reread, reminds me of strange loops.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strange_loop

good thing i already have a strange mind, so i wasn't trapped.

Sir Oolius said...

Our Lady of Eternal Denial