Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sticking to the Obvious

Jack Cashill has discovered and christened a new threat to our Democratic Republic: The Literary/Science Complex.

Some mischievous soul at William Jewell College, a smart Baptist institution outside Kansas City, invited me to participate Tuesday in a three-person panel called "Science, Politics and Policy."

I say "mischievous" because that person had to suspect the trouble I could cause for the star of the panel, Chris Mooney, an elfin journalist in his late 20s who had scored big in the literary/science complex with his 2005 book, "The Republican War on Science."
To hear him tell it, Cashill mopped the floor with Mooney, while proving that it's actually the Left that has launched a war on science. Here's some of his evidence:
Mooney...surprised me by insisting that embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning were two different things altogether.
I'm not sure why this would surprise Cashill, given that Mooney makes the distinction in the book Cashill claims to have read, and in the sole line that Cashill quotes from it. What's even more confusing is that Cashill himself goes on to make a similar distinction, even as he claims it doesn't exist:
As I explained to Mooney and the audience, there would have been little fuss had scientists stuck to in vitro discards. Instead, they ventured into the process of creating life to destroy it – therapeutic cloning. This is what embryonic stem cell research is all about and why it is so controversial.
From here, Cashill proceeds to a truly astonishing argument against global warming:
I suggested that the Vikings did not name the island "Greenland" as part of some real estate scam. I then talked about the settlements there, the vineyards that stretched into Northern England, the town names, the historical artifacts, the memoirs and the various core samples that suggest these warming events were not local.

"But then it got cold again," the biologist said as though this information somehow undercut my own. This tag-team madness continued when Mooney challenged my evidence that it had gotten cold at all. [??!!]

Sticking to the obvious, I referred the pair to the 16th-century winter landscapes of Dutch painter Peter Breugel and the 19th-century novel (and Disney special) about Dutch lad Hans Brinker and his silver skates.
Unless I'm dreaming, which is possible given that I'm doped up on Flexeril, Cashill is trying to debunk AGW by offering some paintings and a children's story as evidence that it gets cold during winter.

Which goes to show that "sticking to the obvious" is an excellent way of making a fool of yourself. (Or of other people, if you're a propagandist like Cashill.)


P. Drāno said...

To be fair, Eisenhower warned us of this literary/science complex. I fear it has become much worse than he imagined, invading every aspect of our lives with unwanted information.

four legs good said...

Holy moly.

I guess The Snow Queen is proof that global warming is a hoax.

Anonymous said...

...and I suppose The Flying Dutchman disproves all that nonsense about CFCs, eh?


(Phila, why joo don't get leenks from Pharyngula I am at an utter loss to comprehend.)

roger said...

cashill says of mooney "He showed up studiously disheveled." well that's a cogent argument.

hey, i like this quote mining thing.

Phila said...

(Phila, why joo don't get leenks from Pharyngula I am at an utter loss to comprehend.)

I've gotten one or two, IIRC...but there are plenty of other bloggers on this general beat.