Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Week In Denialism


Johnnie B. Byrd quotes from a 1997 book on black holes, in order to argue scientifically that limiting greenhouse gases will send us spiraling into "the vortex of an economic black hole" from which, obviously, we'll never escape, since you can't escape from black holes. You have to admit it's a sobering thought.

One of his concerns is that American workers will need to learn new things if they're to succeed in the coming economy, which you'd think would be pretty obvious even if global warming were a hoax. It used to be called progress, and we used to flatter ourselves that we produced more of it than the rest of the world, thanks to our firm belief that we could accomplish just about anything we set our minds to.

To be fair, a faint echo of this optimism does persist on the Right. Whether you're clawing your way out of poverty or democratizing the Middle East, the only obstacle that really counts is not wanting badly enough to succeed. If you don't have enough rational self-interest to thrive in a system that rewards nothing else, you have no one but yourself to blame.

That said, any attempt to mitigate climate change will leave us shivering in caves, and reduce the average American's lifespan to 28 years. It's just common sense.

For the record, Byrd has an even more basic grievance with the Warming Cult:

As a middle class American I don’t remember ever being lumped together with “wildlife"....
Indeed. What manner of "scientist" would insult the God-given majesty of our lungs, or our circulatory systems, by lumping them together with those of other mammals? Does a badger comprehend Personal Responsibility? Do antelopes brood over the Law of Unintended Consequences? What then have their entrails to do with ours?

You've gotta love his scrupulous use of "middle class American," too. It's one thing to animalize the poor who clutter our nation's park benches and emergency rooms, but that won't do for Byrd. He's read Hayek.

Whatever else you want to say about Charles Krauthammer, he is not a climate denialist. In fact, he "believes instinctively that it can't be very good to pump lots of CO2 into the atmosphere." You'd think this would lead him, instinctively, to seek advice from people who know more about the matter than he does.

And perhaps it did, at one point. But what he heard disturbed him. It was...well, negative. Gloomy, even. It was liable to plant the seeds of self-doubt or guilt in otherwise innocent souls. And it presented the worst-case scenario as something to be avoided through responsible action, instead of promoting the best-case scenario as something to wait for in a spirit of perfect complacency. In short, it was alarmist.

Which is why he rejected it, and came to the cheerier conclusion that the commies are trying to destroy our Freedom.
Just as the ash heap of history beckoned, the intellectual left was handed the ultimate salvation: environmentalism. Now the experts will regulate your life not in the name of the proletariat or Fabian socialism but -- even better -- in the name of Earth itself.
Having found the real narrative right where he last saw it, Krauthammer can get back to what really matters: protecting Western Civilization from annihilation, by instinctively supporting torture, indefinite detention, and the wholesale invasion of privacy.

Edward John Craig has a brainteaser for you:
The Center for Biodiversity — the outfit that sued to get the polar bear listed as an endangered species — is now trying to get the Pacific walrus similarly listed. The biggest threat to the walrus population? According to the Center, it’s shrinking sea ice (ta da!).

But, as Michelle Malkin suggests, perhaps it has more to do with the explosion in population of their principal predator, the polar bear.
OK. I know that a lot of these claims are cynical. I know that the goal isn't to score legitimate logical points, but to get as many arguments out there as possible, so that every sort of intellect can find reassurance that's tailored to its own weak points. And I also know that there are some Americans who view virtually any reference to the demonstrable facts of existence as an ugly symptom of Elitism. I didn't fall off the cabbage truck yesterday, nor the day before.

But how fucking hard is it to understand that predation takes place in a specific physical environment that affects both predator and prey? I mean, putting aside the absurdity of calling the polar bears' tentative rebound an "explosion," how could any remotely sane or intelligent person believe that loss of habitat has no real bearing on the ultimate survival of a given animal, simply because that animal continues to be eaten by the natural predators who share its habitat?

For once, I'll end this feature on a somewhat positive note. Mona Charen, who's not exactly a climate alarmist, notices that her fellow conservatives have a tendency to "adopt an unbecoming, sometimes juvenile truculence" about environmental issues, which is certainly one way of putting it. And she advises them to ease up a bit.
Since when did conservatives decide that they love waste? There are thousands of energy-saving ideas in circulation that conservatives as well as liberals can embrace. Smaller cars and more trains are just one answer.
Unfortunately, she spoils the effect somewhat by claiming, in regards to ANWR, that "those pictures we've all seen of moose and caribou against a backdrop of verdant mountains are a fraud. The coastal plain, where drilling is proposed, is flat, barren, and characterized by unforgiving permafrost."

First, Death Valley is flat and barren too, but some people consider it to be worth preserving anyway. Second, Charen seems to think that permafrost makes verdancy impossible. But as the US Fish and Wildlife Service points out:
If the soil never warmed up, there would be no plants growing in the arctic. When the summer sun warms the tundra surface, however, the top few inches of soil thaw. This melted part is called the active layer. Plant roots grow within the active layer, and insects burrow here.
Still, Charen's plea for common sense does represent progress, however timid. We may yet go further, and fare better.

(Illustration: "The Calaveras of the Newscarriers" by Jose Posada, circa 1890.)

40 comments:

sbvor said...

I greatly admire and respect Charles Krauthammer and the rest of his essay makes good sense, but:

To “instinctively” believe that “it can't be very good to pump lots of CO2 into the atmosphere” is to have a faith based approach to a scientific issue.

The facts on what directly cited peer reviewed science has to say can be found here.

The views of highly respected climate scientists, some of whom served as lead authors for the IPCC (before becoming completely disillusioned with the entirely biased, dishonest and purely political IPCC), can be found here.

Or, you may continue attending the weekly meetings of the Religious Cult of Man Made Global Warming.

Phila said...

sbvor,

My schedule being what it is, I usually restrict myself to engaging with the arguments of professional fools. I have very little time for hobbyists.

You have every right to disagree with me, and to think me stupid or worse. But as I've already said, you need to understand that you're making no arguments I haven't seen many, many times before. And I have no good reason to pay attention to your particular expression of them, given that they're common as dirt elsewhere.

I don't mind being criticized here. But I do expect you to address the specific arguments made in my posts. Simply popping up like a Jack in the Box to announce that AGW is a religion, or a hoax, is insufficient. And it'll wear out my patience pretty quickly...especially if it begins to seem like your primary motivation for doing it is to post multiple links to your own site.

Just so you know.

sbvor said...

Phila,

1) Not only did I very specifically address multiple issues in your post, I thoroughly addressed, in my links, the very heart of the issue (the warming effect of CO2). I did so by directly citing multiple examples of peer reviewed science. By contrast, your response was purely ad hominem in nature.

2) If the directly cited peer reviewed science I use to make my points is “common as dirt elsewhere”, surely you have a ready response. Where is it? Will you refute the directly cited peer reviewed science or simply delete my comment?

3) I am not a “hobbyist”, I am a formally trained scientist in the field of Environmental Science (among other hard science disciplines). As such, I rely more on peer reviewed science published in peer reviewed science journals (as opposed to political propaganda published by so-called “journalists”). And you? What are your qualifications for evaluating the science?

Phila said...

sbvor,

Yes, it's possible to link to "peer-reviewed science" that casts doubt on AGW, or aspects of it. Obviously, I can respond with peer-reviewed science that confirms the mainstream view and casts doubt on the research of this or that dissenter.

At which point, you'd probably tell me that the scientists to whom I linked were "politicized" (or untrustworthy for whatever other reason), and I'd try to present evidence to the contrary. And it'd go 'round and 'round without any resolution, just as it does on so many other blogs.

I don't want to get sucked into that, so I do things a bit differently here. Rather than attempting to prove or disprove AGW once and for all, which is at least as far beyond my powers as it is beyond yours, I tend to focus on analyzing rhetoric and the logical structure of arguments. I try to identify arguments that don't withstand scrutiny, regardless of whether or not AGW is real. And I think I succeed, by and large.

Let's consider Mona Charen's claim about permafrost. I know it's not about AGW, but the principle is the same, so bear with me. She's in favor of drilling, and I'm not. There are reasonable arguments to be made for each position. However, it's pretty obvious that her argument about the barrenness of ANWR is both false and frivolous. It's false because permafrost doesn't prevent ANWR from being green at times, and it's frivolous because "barrenness" is in the eye of the beholder and is not, in itself, sufficient grounds for sacrificing a given piece of land.

If you and I disagree on AGW, and I claim that Hurricane Katrina "proves" it's real, you'd be correct to laugh in my face, because that's a shoddy argument regardless of whether or not AGW is real. By the same token, I'd be correct to laugh at you if you told me that AGW is obviously false because it snowed last week at a global-warming conference in Montreal.

Pretty simple, yes?

With all that in mind, let's move on to your alleged attempt to "specifically address multiple issues" in this post. In reality, the only thing you specifically addressed was a quote from Krauthammer, which I didn't write; you might just as well have addressed your criticism to him.

From there, you leapt directly to generalities, by informing me that there are actual climate scientists out there who disagree strongly with the IPCC.

Wow, stop the presses...I never knew that until now!

You ended by omplying that people who disagree with you are cultists, and linked to an article that makes the same tired old claims I've heard before. I've dealt with some of them in earlier posts, and will probably deal with others in later ones (unless I get sick of the whole subject, which is always a possibility, God knows).

Anyway, to recap: You claimed to have very specifically addressed multiple issues in my post. Did you in fact do this? No, you didn't, not by a mile. You accused Charles Krauthammer of a faith-based approach to science, and posted a couple of links intended to demonstrate that AGW is a hoax and a cult. And nothing more. But the thing is, you could disprove AGW tomorrow without lending any validity to most of the denialist arguments I analyze on this site; they'd remain just as illogical and unjustifiable.

I'm sure this is a huge sticking point for you, so let me try to make it as simple as possible. It's one thing to disbelieve in AGW based on an informed interpretation of accurate data; it's another to announce pompously that CO2 is essential to life on earth, and act like you've shaken the very foundations of scientific orthodoxy. If you read my posts on climate, you'll see that this latter approach is the one I tend to engage with pretty consistently, for better or worse.

Actually, it's for better. Because this blog isn't where the question of AGW is going to be settled, no matter how much you or I might hope otherwise. This is where a person who accepts the mainstream view of AGW calls attention to what he sees as bad-faith arguments made in support of the belief that AGW is a hoax (or that it's of no real consequence for us, which amounts to the same thing). The larger battle goes on elsewhere, and doesn't involve me (or, I suspect, you).

Of course I have an opinion about how it'll all turn out, but it's just that: an opinion. It could be wrong. (Frankly, I'd be happier if it were.)

As far as your "formal training" is concerned, I'm going to take a tip from your website: I won't believe you, I'll believe the substantiated evidence you present. Fair enough, right?

sbvor said...

Phila,

1) Face it, your only objective with this weekly series is to insult and condescend (while utterly lacking any cred which would merit such arrogance).

2) One VERY simple (albeit impossible) task for you:

Show me just ONE example of peer reviewed science examining the 650,000 year ice core record and finding that, in general (or at ANY TIME), elevated CO2 levels preceded elevated temperatures.

I have presented FOUR examples of peer reviewed science showing exactly the OPPOSITE!

3) ANWR

What? Will you sue to get “roots” on the endangered species list? That makes about as much sense as Polar Bears. Polar Bears survived the (warmer than this one) Eemian interglacial. I am confident they will also survive the current Holocene interglacial. More importantly, there isn’t a damn thing we can to do prevent natural cycles from doing whatever the hell they will to Polar Bear habitat.

We’re talking about developing 1/100th of 1% of ANWR.

And, we’re talking about doing it in an extremely environmentally friendly manner.

Too oppose that, is worse than saying to the poorest of your fellow citizens:

“Let them eat cake!”

It’s just off the charts nutty extremism.

4) “[M]ainstream view”? Horse hockey!

Show me the list of names of individual scientists (of ANY sort) who subscribe to your type of extremist limitations and “solutions”.

About the closest thing there is to a “mainstream view” among scientists is that the earth has warmed by about 0.7C in the last 100 years. There is NO “mainstream view” among scientists that man caused that warming and there is CERTAINLY no “mainstream view” that draconian measures from governments are required to save us from some phony “climate crisis”. There IS however, one hell of a lot of climate crisis propaganda spewed by so-called “journalists”. But, that too is nothing new. That too has cycled and recycled with every little NATURAL shift in climate.

Rest assured that I can produce the independently verified individual names of at least an order of magnitude more scientists who oppose Kyoto or any other draconian measures to cap CO2.

5) The Inconvenient SCIENCE is that:

A) The current perfectly natural, perfectly normal and entirely predictable interglacial warming period is not yet as warm as ANY of the four which preceded it. In fact, even the IPCC admits that the highest temperatures we have evidence of during the current interglacial occurred 8-10 thousand years ago, NOT during the last 100 years. But, even THAT was not as warm as any of the previous FOUR interglacial warming periods!

Oh, and, Polar Bears also survived that (warmer than today) hypsithermal without ANY help from Environmental Extremists.

B) The current interglacial warming period is but one of “around 100 [interglacial warming periods known to have taken place] in the last 2.5 million years”.

C) Better yet, the previous link demonstrates that Milutin Malankovitch predicted the precise dating of these cycles long before paleoclimatologists verified it in the historical record.

Phila said...

sbvor,

You don't seem to have understood my last comment, so I'll boil my position down to the essentials.

1) My time is valuable to me, and I'm not going to debate you on the reality of AGW. If you want to have that debate, you'll need to go elsewhere. I suggest trying the AGU, or NOAA, or the WMO.

2) I'm not going to debate someone who calls me "pseudointellectual," and casually writes off hundreds of scientists as "dishonest," while whining about other people's "ad hominem" responses.

3) I'm not going to debate someone who claims to have specifically addressed points he hasn't specifically addressed, and shows no signs of comprehending.

4) I'm not going to get into a battle over credentials with someone who obviously sees them as irrelevant to getting AGW right, judging from the ease with which he dismisses the position of climatologists worldwide. And again, I won't believe your claim about your credentials; I'll believe the substantiated evidence you provide.

5) I cordially invite you to re-read the above four points as many times as it takes for them to sink in, and then bugger off.

Phila said...

I do try to be fair, so I'll address one point of yours, simply to demonstrate how pointless it is to get into debates of this type.

Here's you:

even the IPCC admits that the highest temperatures we have evidence of during the current interglacial occurred 8-10 thousand years ago, NOT during the last 100 years. But, even THAT was not as warm as any of the previous FOUR interglacial warming periods!

And here's the NOAA:

[T]he mid-Holocene, roughly 6,000 years ago, was generally warmer than today, but only in summer and only in the northern hemisphere. More over, we clearly know the cause of this natural warming, and know without doubt that this proven "astronomical" climate forcing mechanism cannot be responsible for the warming over the last 100 years.

I could dig up similar rebuttals for everything else you say, but what would be the point? It's not like you're going to accept any of them. That's why I say you may as well eliminate the middleman - me - and engage directly with the scientific organizations and individual scientists who are making these claims. After all, your "credentials" allow you to do so, don't they? Why waste your time and expertise here?

Once you've won them over, you can come back here and rub my nose in your triumph, and I'll apologize for doubting you.

Seems perfectly fair to me.

Goodbye 'til then.

sbvor said...

Phila,

1) I assume you think you made some grand point with the bolded portion of the NOAA quote. So, I’ll address it first.

Let’s ignore all the other natural cycles beyond orbital forcing and assume that anthropogenic greenhouse gases caused the 0.7C of warming asserted by the IPCC to have taken place over the last 100 years.

According to the very latest peer reviewed science regarding Climate Sensitivity, that would leave 0.4C of additional warming to take place in the next 100 years (if we do nothing to regulate CO2). So, why all the hysteria?

If you want a more detailed discussion on Climate Sensitivity, “Mitchell” is provoking some over here.

2) Relative to that particular NOAA page, even the IPCC offers a contradictory, more expansive and far more guarded assessment of what we know to date about the hypsithermal.

Here is what the IPCC 4th Assessment said about the hypsithermal (bearing in mind that the purely political IPCC has a well documented CO2-centric politically motivated bias):

Was Any Part of the Current Interglacial Period Warmer than the Late 20th Century?

The temperature evolution over the Holocene has been established for many different regions, often with centennial resolution proxy records more sensitive to specific seasons (see Section 6.1). At high latitudes of the North Atlantic and adjacent Arctic, there was a tendency for summer temperature maxima to occur in the early Holocene (10 to 8 ka), pointing to the direct influence of the summer insolation maximum on sea ice extent (Kim et al., 2004; Kaplan and Wolfe, 2006). Climate reconstructions for the mid-northern latitudes exhibit a longterm decline in SST from the warmer early to mid-Holocene to the cooler pre-industrial period of the late Holocene (Johnsen et al., 2001; Marchal et al., 2002; Andersen et al., 2004; Kim et al., 2004; Kaplan and Wolfe 2006), most likely in response to annual mean and summer orbital forcings at these latitudes (Renssen et al., 2005). Near ice sheet remnants in northern Europe or North America, peak warmth was locally delayed, probably as a result of the interplay between ice elevation, albedo, atmospheric and oceanic heat transport and orbital forcing (MacDonald et al., 2000; Davis et al., 2003; Kaufman et al., 2004). The warmest period in northern Europe and north-western North America occurs from 7 to 5 ka (Davis et al., 2003; Kaufman et al., 2004). During the mid-Holocene, global pollen-based reconstructions (Prentice and Webb, 1998; Prentice et al., 2000) and macrofossils (MacDonald et al., 2000) show a northward expansion of northern temperate forest (Bigelow et al., 2003; Kaplan et al., 2003), as well as substantial glacier retreat (see Box 6.3). Warmer conditions at mid- and high latitudes of the NH in the early to mid-Holocene are consistent with deep borehole temperature profiles (Huang et al., 1997). Other early warm periods were identified in the equatorial west Pacific (Stott et al., 2004), China (He et al., 2004), New Zealand (Williams et al., 2004), southern Africa (Holmgren et al., 2003) and Antarctica (Masson et al., 2000). At high southern latitudes, the early warm period cannot be explained by a linear response to local summer insolation changes (see Box 6.1), suggesting large-scale reorganization of latitudinal heat transport. In contrast, tropical temperature reconstructions, only available from marine records, show that Mediterranean, tropical Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean SSTs exhibit a progressive warming from the beginning of the current interglacial onwards (Kim et al., 2004; Rimbu et al., 2004; Stott et al., 2004), possibly a reflection of tropical annual mean insolation increase (Box 6.1, Figure 1). Extratropical centennial-resolution records therefore provide evidence for local multi-centennial periods warmer than the last decades by up to several degrees in the early to mid-Holocene. These local warm periods were very likely not globally synchronous and occurred at times when there is evidence that some areas of the tropical oceans were cooler than today (Figure 6.9) (Lorenz et al., 2006). When forced by 6 ka orbital parameters, state-of-the-art coupled climate models and EMICs capture reconstructed regional temperature and precipitation changes (Sections 6.5.1.4 and 6.5.1.5), whereas simulated global mean temperatures remain essentially unchanged (<0.4°C; Masson-Delmotte et al., 2005b), just as expected from the seasonality of the orbital forcing (see Box 6.1). Due to different regional temperature responses from the tropics to high latitudes, as well as between hemispheres, commonly used concepts such as ‘mid-Holocene thermal optimum’, ‘altithermal’, etc. are not globally relevant and should only be applied in a well-articulated regional context. Current spatial coverage, temporal resolution and age control of available Holocene proxy data limit the ability to determine if there were multi-decadal periods of global warmth comparable to the last half of 20th century.


Those last two sentences basically say (to paraphrase):

If we keep on looking we might be able to eventually deny what all the data to date tell us about the hypsithermal.

Notice that farther down in the same IPCC link they, as always, carefully choose their words to say:

“Current global temperatures are warmer than they have ever been during at least the past five centuries, probably even for more than a millennium.”

Notice how they did not claim that temperatures are warmer than they ever have been during the last 10,000 years? They know better. They know they would be busted, BIG TIME!

Thus proves the FACT that even the purely politically IPCC knows that all the data to date demonstrate that the warmest period so far recorded during the current interglacial warming period was some 5-10 thousand years ago, LONG before SUVs!

Beyond that, one need only examine this NOAA chart to see that even this hypsithermal was not as warm as the climactic optimums of any of the previous four interglacial periods.

Alternatively, the IPCC also admits that the previous interglacial was warmer than even the hypsithermal of this interglacial. Of course, they couch it in the same (paraphrasing again) “need more data and more money to prove our propaganda” caveats. See section 6.4.1.6 of this IPCC link.

sbvor said...

P.S.) Again, this NOAA chart better visualizes the hypsithermal of the current interglacial warming period. That chart presents it at about 8 thousand years ago.

Anonymous said...

Why waste your time and expertise here?

Probably the same reason you waste YOUR very precious time harumphing over Charles Krauthammer?

No one is forcing you to read Townhall my friend!

Anonymous said...

My apologies for presuming, but... if you're not a scientist, why insert yourself in a scientific argument in the first place? Doesn't this bring the whole issue's SNR down? What information is added when googlers throw half-understood factlets at one another all day?

I cordially invite you to re-read the above four points as many times as it takes for them to sink in, and then bugger off.

Gee, at least svbor does you the courtesy of direct engagement Where you'd rather he just 'bugger off,' the poor benighted jackass! And poor Chas. Krauthammer, who may never stumble across these very harsh (if carelessly expressed) treatments of his work.

In answer to your next question, I have already written blogger about replacing the 'comments' field with an 'applause' button. It cant be done.

Phila said...


Probably the same reason you waste YOUR very precious time harumphing over Charles Krauthammer?


Very possibly. So much the worse for svbor, if so.

No one is forcing you to read Townhall my friend!

Thanks for the insight.

Phila said...

What information is added when googlers throw half-understood factlets at one another all day?

See my comment at 8:39 PM above, which begins by explaining my unwillingness to do precisely this. You might as well see the rest of the comment, while you're at it, since it explains why my posts on denialism are not, by and large, about the science of AGW.

sbvor said...

Phila,

No, you neither understand nor argue the science.

You merely accept the worst of the extremist rhetoric as unassailable quasi-religious dogma and use that as the theocratic throne from which you ignorantly and condescendingly insult and degrade anybody who questions any aspect of your quasi-religious dogma.

sbvor said...

Phila,

You quoted Charles Krauthammer to say:

“Just as the ash heap of history beckoned, the intellectual left was handed the ultimate salvation: environmentalism. Now the experts will regulate your life not in the name of the proletariat or Fabian socialism but -- even better -- in the name of Earth itself.”

That is, indeed, another brilliant insight from Krauthammer. I would expand upon it by exposing, for the benefit of your readers, the precise architecture of the extremist strategy.

Condensing this brilliant analysis and adding my own links:

1) Identify your cause and the laws you want to see enacted

2) Create an apocalyptic scenario

3) Claim there’s a threat to children

4) Don the mantle of science and dismiss any evidence that contradicts your position

5) Use the previous three steps to create a clamor that rules out rational debate

6) Finally, once your measures have been adopted, defend them ruthlessly. The alarmist model relies on its successes being unassailable. Critical examination threatens to reveal that measures advanced by alarmists may be unwarranted, ineffective and, in many cases, positively harmful. Once one such measure is repealed, people may think twice about passing more like it.

Yep, that is precisely what goes on at this blog.

In closing (for now), Phila, review this link and consider your choice of words in your subject line.

Phila said...

sbvor,

If you'd actually been reading this blog for any length of time, you'd notice that:

1. I pretty consistently attack the "apocalyptic" interpretation of AGW (cf. my earlier comment about the foolishness of blaming Katrina on AGW is a recent example).

2. I've made few or no predictions about the likely outcome of AGW, alarmist or otherwise.

3. I've had little, if anything, to say about AGW as "a threat to children," and have in fact repeatedly attacked political rhetoric about "our children," and their so-called "innocence," which I consider to be cynical and brutal whether it's done by the left or the right.

4. I haven't said a word (to the best of my recollection) in favor of Kyoto or cap-and-trade policies. And I don't think I've said much about any other legal approaches, pro or con. My default stance has pretty much been that we're capable of living more sustainably and efficiently, and that we ought to make the effort, regardless of what happens (or doesn't happen) with AGW. Far from trying to indoctrinate people into some cult of extremism, I've scarcely brought up the efforts I make in my personal life, for fear of seeming like a proselytizer.

So your claim that "this is exactly what goes on at this blog" turns out to be not quite correct. (What a surprise!)

The problem with people like you is that you're dead set on having the argument you want to have, regardless of what your opponent actually says or believes. It doesn't really matter how well or poorly I explain myself here; you're going to go right ahead and argue against what I must think, as a card-carrying member of the Warming Cult, whether there's any evidence that actually I believe it or not.

In light of this ugly habit, the fact that you don't grasp the irony of your stance as a defender of rationality and objectivity is kind of funny, but mostly it's just depressing.

As for Krauthammer, his analysis isn't "brilliant"; it's standard-issue red-baiting and situational ad hominem of the type we've heard nonstop for the last couple of decades. Even if you happen to agree with it, the fact remains that Krauthammer didn't invent it and is hardly a genius for repeating it.

If you were capable of applying one one-hundredth of the skepticism to his lazyboned pronouncements that you apply to AGW, you'd stand a fair chance of realizing all this.

But either way, I'm quite sure you can and will understand that his claim has nothing to do with the truth or falsehood of AGW. In that regard, it's just like most other claims I address when writing about "denialism."

There's obviously little hope of you grasping this distinction, but I'll make it one final time: There's a difference between a scientist who presents data that challenge AGW to an audience of his or her peers, and some loudmouth who thinks worrying about AGW is silly because "we all exhale CO2." The latter form of "evidence" is what I deal with here, by and large.

Here's an analogy you might possibly understand. If I talk to a creationist who says "we couldn't have evolved from monkeys, 'cause there are still monkeys," my position that this is a stupid argument will not be affected by proof of the existence or nonexistence of God, or the truth or falsehood of evolution, because nothing in the theory of evolution says that monkeys were supposed to change into people and then vanish from the earth.

By the same token, the claim that "CO2 is life" -- as the CEI put it in a recent ad -- is stupid because no theory on AGW claims that CO2 isn't essential to life, or that it's possible or desirable to rid the earth of it.

I happen to find these sorts of bad-faith arguments funny and indicative, which is the main reason I highlight them here. But I also think we can learn something from them. Or that some of us can, at any rate.

sbvor said...

Phila,

If you want new readers of your blog to be less likely to immediately have an extremely negative and visceral reaction, reconsider using the word “Denialism” in your subject line.

The very fact that you chose that term calls into question much of what you assert in your last comment. I am willing to maintain an open mind as to your true positions. However, for now, that very deliberate chose of words says far more than any protestation to the contrary.

Phila said...

If you want new readers of your blog to be less likely to immediately have an extremely negative and visceral reaction, reconsider using the word “Denialism” in your subject line.

Thanks for the advice, which I believe is sincere. But if "new readers" don't like it, they can either challenge me on it - as you've done - or go elsewhere. I have no ability and no desire to please everyone.

Second, "denialism" is something different from recognizing that AGW is as open to debate, dissent, and falsification as any other scientific theory. You can believe that AGW is partly or wholly inaccurate without attacking the integrity or intelligence of scientists who believe otherwise (let alone shrieking that it's a plot to bring back Stalinism).

In just that way, "denialism" goes far beyond reasonable skepticism, and proceeds directly to crazed slander and conspiracy mongering. And it's based almost entirely on opportunistic, bad-faith arguments of the type I detailed above. I think you'll find that my use of the term is fairly consistent, in that regard. And I'm not going to change it just because I had a single complaint.

sbvor said...

Phila,

As I suspected…

Just make sure you read the link and understand how you have chosen to define yourself.

Anonymous said...

Second, "denialism" is something different from recognizing that AGW is as open to debate, dissent, and falsification as any other scientific theory.

"Most people who use the term" mean it in exactly the sense that 'the debate is over', and the science ' settled.' BTW hand-counting isn't science either.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22settled+science%22+site%3Arealclimate.org&btnG=Search

without attacking the integrity or intelligence of scientists who believe otherwise

Please-- this is what mosh pits like 'realclimate' and 'deltoid' are all about!

And I'm not going to change it just because I had a single complaint.

You now have two. not enough perhaps for such a majoritarian- minded fella as yourself.

Anonymous said...

quoth Wikipedia (our favorite reference on matters of usage):

"Denialism is a term used to describe the position of governments, business groups, interest groups, or individuals who reject propositions on which a scientific or scholarly consensus exists"

Let the handcounting begin . I've written a macro to poll the literature. It involves computers and statistics, so this method must be scientific!

sbvor said...

Just a typo correction:

chose of words should have been
“choice of words”

Sentence revision without word revision can be hazardous.

sbvor said...

Phila complains about the alleged linking of Climate Hysteria to “a plot to bring back Stalinism”.

But, one has never had to look very far to see overt support for Communism among the American Left.

Submitted as evidence, an Obama office in Houston, Texas sporting a Cuban Flag with a Che Guevara image superimposed on it.

Shall I continue?

Phila said...

You now have two. not enough perhaps for such a majoritarian- minded fella as yourself.

If you're suggesting that I'm not interested in your opinion, Anon, you're absolutely right. Score one point for you.

Anonymous said...

Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval.

Oh, the fragile ego of the blogger! I overestimated you.

Anonymous said...

You know Mr. Phila, it's a real pity you don't care about my opinion.

Of course I assume you aren't being truthful because we all care about each others opinions, and if we didn't we wouldn't be human.

With that in mind, you might rethink the scattershot criticism you heap on these rightwing columnists. Your pieces would be much more interesting and convincing if they weren't so drenched in vitriol Anger subtracts substance.

Measured, careful criticism demands patience and generosity, even toward vermin like Krauthammer and Hanson. There should be no interpretation 'too generous' for a good-faith reader.

Unless it's not meant to be good faith analysis ie just a way to blow off steam and entertain your buddies: community theater. Which would be a very serious waste of time (yours more than mine as my time is cheap.)

Although your points 1-4 sound great, you seem to ignore that these straw men are Krauthammer's dancing partners. Why cut in? Don't these AGW prejudices also steer policy?

Phila said...

Oh, the fragile ego of the blogger! I overestimated you.

And we were getting along so well, too.

I think I explained my position re: sbvor pretty thoroughly and fairly in my "Foreign Threats" post. Outside of a "men's rights" troll who used to come and sneer at rape victims, sbvor is the only commenter I've ever banned. Comment moderation has been activated solely for him, and will be temporary.

Thank you for your concern.

Phila said...

With that in mind, you might rethink the scattershot criticism you heap on these rightwing columnists. Your pieces would be much more interesting and convincing if they weren't so drenched in vitriol Anger subtracts substance.

If you tell that you'd find my posts more convincing and enjoyable if I wrote them differently, I have no reason to doubt you. And it seems logical that anyone else who has the same objections would prescribe the same remedy. You're entitled to your opinion, obviously.

Unfortunately, the same incapacities that cause me to displease you so often also prevent me from detecting very much vitriol in this post at all. Maybe there's a bit in the part about Edward John Craig and his polar bears. I wasn't angry when I wrote it, though; I felt kind of sad, if anything.

Beyond that, I don't think I have to be "convincing" to argue that vegetation grows on permafrost, or that a given species can rebound from overhunting while facing environmental threats. These are facts, and my tone can't make them any more or less factual.

The people who dare to pretend that these aren't facts often do so impolitely. They've even been known to get angry on occasion, and to be vitriolic (as you were just now when you called them "vermin," for whatever reason).

But oddly enough, their anger doesn't "subtract substance"; the substance is lacking regardless, and its absence can't be made up for by a sudden affectation of civility.

Beyond that simple logical point, it's SOP in American politics for the Right to be as abusive as it wants, with few or no facts on its side, while treating the honest moral outrage of dissenting citizens as symptomatic of derangement or worse (especially if they say "fuck"). Blogospheric pleas for "civility" fall into that framework pretty easily (and in that regard, your seeming lack of offense at sbvor's vitriol, and his casual slander of...well, just about everyone who disagrees with him, seems to me to be a wee bit suspect).

Given that I'm not and don't claim to be perfect, as a writer or a human being, I think it's fair to say that I put more thought, effort, knowledge and honesty into this post than any of the writers I've critiqued put into their own articles. If that's not sufficient to make my posts interesting or convincing to you, you're reading the wrong blog. As you never tire of reminding me, no one's forcing you to read or to critique anything.

I'm tempted to add that anyone who thinks RealClimate is a "mosh pit" probably shouldn't be on the Internets at all, and would be better off reading Juliana Horatia Ewing over a pot of chamomile tea. But that'd probably sound too "vitriolic."

Phila said...

Of course I assume you aren't being truthful because we all care about each others opinions, and if we didn't we wouldn't be human.

I said I don't care whether or not you object to the term "denialism." Which is quite true.

Nice speech, though. I'm almost sorry to spoil it.

And again, if you want to continue instructing me on the finer points of rhetoric, I expect you to select a 'nym. Doesn't matter what it is...it can be PhilaSux666 for all I care, so long as you use it consistently.

^ said...

The people who dare to pretend that these aren't facts

Which people? Not Mona Charen. Her post didn't state or even imply that permafrost couldn't be green. It claimed (accurately) that misleading imagery is used by anti-drilling advocates with respect to ANWR. Images of less flat, less barren, more green parts of ANWR ('verdant mountains') than the areas contemplated for drilling are used in anti-drilling advertisements. As a simple matter of fact she's completely correct. Verdant mountains aren't where they'd be drilling. Are you pretending this isn't a fact?

Are you also pretending Mona Charen said something she didn't about permafrost precluding verdure altogether? Why are you arguing about a point Charen didn't obviously make and ignoring the point she obviously did make? And why pick nits about Hanson's word choice (whose meaning was clear enough) instead of confining discussion to his weak analysis. This is what I mean by 'bad faith.' Not impolite, just distracted.

First, Death Valley is flat and barren too, but some people consider it to be worth preserving anyway.

Perhaps a different set than those targeted by the misleading ads mentioned above (which exploit an anti-barren anti-flat prejudice held by the general public). And so totally irrelevant to Charen's point -- which you might think shallow (my vote) or wrong for a slew of other good reasons.

if you want to continue instructing me on the finer points of rhetoric

I'm not instructing you in anything, simply registering a different view, offered in the hopes that the quality of your work continues to improve. You're free to ignore it. I wont be insulted. I have a thicker skin than you seem to think (did I say I minded the mosh pit? of course it's great fun and totally unproductive)

^ said...

As you never tire of reminding me, no one's forcing you to read or to critique anything.

True, but then I'm hoping (in vain?) that you'll understand what I am saying and that it might in some tiny way inform and strengthen your future output. That's not 'concern' for anything but the quality of my own future reading material.

Phila said...

Are you also pretending Mona Charen said something she didn't about permafrost precluding verdure altogether?

"Barren" does tend to suggest as much, yes, as does "unforgiving permafrost." The claim that Charen doesn't mean to "imply" that the coastal plain is barren of plants and caribou, specifically because its ground is permanently frozen, is not one I'm able to accept, sorry.

Verdant mountains aren't where they'd be drilling.

No one said they were. Charen says that pictures of caribou "against a backdrop of verdant mountains are a fraud." In fact, the mountains in question are the Brooks Range, and it's quite possible to take such a picture precisely where drilling is proposed, which is -- wait for it, now -- why so many people oppose drilling in the 1002 area. As the FWS once acknowledged, it "provides for greater plant and animal diversity than in any other similar sized land area on Alaska's North Slope."

Are you beginning to see, at all, why I can't take you very seriously?

I'm not instructing you in anything, simply registering a different view, offered in the hopes that the quality of your work continues to improve.

Perhaps if I'd ever seen you offer the slightest praise for the "quality of my work," or note any instance of its "improvement," I'd be more touched by your concern.

But in fact, you've offered me virtually nothing but obtuse nitpicking, bizarre misreadings, pointless objections ("hardly anyone reads NRO"), and flawed arguments that rival almost any problem you claim to have detected in my work. The phrase "physician, heal thyself" springs to mind.

And of course, after a certain point -- which I'd say we've already passed -- all I can say is, "Fine, go start your own blog and show me how it's done." Blow my puny efforts out of the water, as so many other bloggers do every goddamn day.

I'm hoping (in vain?) that you'll understand what I am saying and that it might in some tiny way inform and strengthen your future output. That's not 'concern' for anything but the quality of my own future reading material.

It's nice that you've found something to tinker with in your spare time. But believe it or not, the fact that I disagree with most of what you're saying doesn't necessarily mean that I don't understand it.

It's possible that this blog'll improve over time; it's also possible it'll get a little or a lot worse. Either way, your supercilious complaints, many of which are themselves not exactly exemplary specimens of logic or rhetoric, probably won't have much effect on the final outcome (especially when compared to suggestions from people whose work I actually respect and admire, and whose basic goodwill towards me is much less in doubt).

Phila said...

Yeah, I get it. You feel that I'm attacking VD Hanson for behavior that I myself am guilty of. Duly noted, again.

I'm sure there's an element of truth to this, though it's not necessarily where you find it. And God knows you're not exactly a paragon of virtue yourself. It's also fair to say that I've also criticized him legitimately and fairly for things I'm not guilty of.

We've gone well past the point of redundancy, without having done much of anything to change one another's mind. I assume you think that I'm a hypocrite and a fraud, and I know I think pretty much the same thing of you.

I think we can leave matters there for now, if not forever.

Again, start your own blog and show me how its done. Here's hoping you make a better showing there than you have here.

Phila said...

Hmmm.

Not sure what happened to the comment I responded to, in which you quoted a paragraph of mine and signed it VDH.

But you remember it, I'm sure. And I don't think anyone else is reading this thread. So I assume there's no harm done.

Anonymous said...

You feel that I'm attacking VD Hanson for behavior that I myself am guilty of.

wrong again!

The point was you are attacking Hanson in the same way you feel I am attacking you (superciliously, carelessly, in bad faith, never saying anything nice, ignoring pleas to go away if you hate it so much etc.) Of course VDH isnt in a place to reply, because you disrespect him too much to address your myriad complaints to his face.

PS - Love the swedish tiled stoves, the insect prints, and the antique movies! Very beautiful.

All the best to you.

Phila said...

The point was you are attacking Hanson in the same way you feel I am attacking you (superciliously, carelessly, in bad faith, never saying anything nice, ignoring pleas to go away if you hate it so much etc.)

A distinction without a difference, it seems to me. In any case, I don't think, overall, that my critique of any of Hanson's columns can really be called "careless."

And while superciliousness is of course in the eye of the beholder, and my prose invites the epithet to some extent, I think my objections to his views on the Iraq war are a bit less supercilious, and a bit more logically and morally forceful, than most of the weird, gnomic complaints you've made here. But to each his or her own.

As for "never saying anything nice," I have no obligation to do so, especially given my stark views on the war that he defends as not just necessary, but admirable.

I accused you of this not because I demand praise, but because it seemed pertinent given your allegedly friendly concern over the quality of my work. I'm objecting not to your negativity, but to what I perceive as your hypocrisy. I've had humbling yet constructive criticism before, from people who mean well, and it feels a bit... different, somehow.

It tends to make sense, for one thing...unlike your pompous attempts to tell me what I should and shouldn't write about. That you often don't seem to know what you're talking about doesn't help matters at all (cf. your silly claims about ANWR).

Of course VDH isnt in a place to reply, because you disrespect him too much to address your myriad complaints to his face.

Oh, the humanity!

First, my complaints are hardly "myriad"; they're almost entirely based on his view of the Iraq War. What he writes about ancient Greece is another matter entirely, and should ideally be critiqued by his fellow historians. But what he writes about the war is perfectly fair game for me or anyone else.

Second, you continue to ignore the power differential between VDH and myself; addressing myself "to his face" is no simple matter, not least because he's made it quite clear that he's not too keen on hearing complaints from the peanut gallery. And to be fair, I doubt he'd have the time in any case...I'm sure he's deluged with letters of praise and blame, and long ago learned to ignore the vast majority of both.

But even if that weren't the case, there's no sane reason to claim that criticism is counterproductive or pointless unless it's made in the context of a dialogue with the person you want to criticize. VDH's columns are part of a general miasma, and I sometimes find it worthwhile to describe my reaction to them, as a reasonably honest and moral person, for my own sake if for no one else's. It's pretty hard to see why I'm not well within my rights to do so, all your whining about it notwithstanding.

Anonymous said...

Second, you continue to ignore the power differential between VDH and myself

You think maybe he'd have you killed? He's just some guy writing for a magazine with a circulation smaller than Boy's Life. He isn't the Pope!

Anonymous said...

It's pretty hard to see why I'm not well within my rights to do so

Yes, it's well within your rights. You are allowed to waste your time and attention bemoaning the right wing miasma. But unless you take active steps to get off your duff (or high horse) and confront these people whose opinions bother you so much, you're no more "moral" than Victor Davis Attila or any of his acne-ridden henchmen.

Sorry you take this as an insult rather than a challenge.

Love the blog!

Phila said...

He's just some guy writing for a magazine with a circulation smaller than Boy's Life.

What an amazingly stupid thing to say.

NRO's readership is dwarfed by that of Redbook, too. On the other hand, Redbook has no authors whose influence on American foreign policy is comparable to that of, say, Michael Ledeen.

You really aren't very good at this.

Anonymous said...

NRO's readership is dwarfed by that of Redbook, too.

Indeed it is! And REDBOOK is measurably 'more influential' in every category of life. If Michael Ledeen wrote pieces in redbook we'd all have problems. in fact Michael Ledeen is most influential when he writes for WaPO and the New york times. He is 1/50th as influential when writing for NR, and 1/1000th as much when blogging on their blog-board with the other chumps who somehow manage to hold your concentration hostage (to the detriment of us all, your neglected readers!)

What an amazingly stupid thing to say...You really aren't very good at this.

Meow! Good at what? asking you questions? commonsense observations? Have I been entered in a competition and if so may I please withdraw?

Love the blog -- keep up the good work. Did I mention you're a genius? you really are!