Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Hallucinatory Cult


The denialists at Planet Gore may not have too many climate scientists on their side, but they do have Camille Paglia, which ought to tip the scales in their favor...at least among anti-Lacanian, neopagan, militantly bourgeois libertarian chatterboxes and the Salon readers who love them.

I usually steer clear of Paglia, but her current outburst is too grotesque to overlook. For Planet Gore to palm her off as an amicus curiae is roughly equivalent to the Sierra Club citing Charles Manson on the dangers of pollution (except, of course, that Manson was relatively cogent and well informed).

Here, she sets forth her sterling credentials as a person who refuses to listen to things she doesn't want to hear:

In the 1980s, I was...skeptical about media-trumpeted predictions about a world epidemic of heterosexual AIDS.
There's the media for you: No sooner does a frightening, deadly, sexually contagious disease come along, than they blow things out of proportion and get people all upset. If only cooler heads like Paglia had prevailed, and the media had insisted — despite the lack of evidence — that AIDS was and would always remain a disease of faggots!

Now, some bleeding hearts may point out that the worldwide toll of AIDS is, in fact, devastating, and that women account for roughly half of the global caseload. Others might note that gathering data on the sexual orientation of people with HIV/AIDS is neither routine nor reliable. And a few people might even argue that even if heterosexual AIDS statistics aren't quite horrifying enough to satisfy a ghoul like Paglia, this may have something to do with the very coverage she decries; as someone who was sexually active in the early eighties, I can say with some confidence that straight people practiced safe sex a lot more frequently after reading frightening things about AIDS.

But this, unfortunately, is the position in which sensible people will always find themselves, vis a vis dingbats like Paglia. If we were able to avert some sort of climate disaster, she and her pals at Planet Gore would use our very success as proof of our scaremongering; after all, the bad stuff we predicted didn't happen.
And I remain skeptical about the media's carelessly undifferentiated use of the term "AIDS" for what is often a complex of wasting diseases in Africa.
This is lovely. The media are "careless," because they haven't defined AIDS cases out of existence per Gary Null or Michael Fumento or whatever self-styled "expert" Paglia has tapped in order to obtain the nourishing sap of Truth. Note, however, that she's no zealot: AIDS is not always, but often a "complex of wasting diseases." This is how a judicious person speaks of the matter, and everyone from the WHO to the CDC would do well to take notice. (And don't go arguing that there may be some sort of connection between being immunodeficient and suffering from "a complex of wasting diseases"; we are in the fierce realms of the Dionysian, and you should've checked your impuissant Apollonian "logic" at the door.)
We should all be concerned about environmental despoliation and pollution, but the global warming crusade has become a hallucinatory cult.
And not the good kind, either, like academic Western paganism or obsessive pop-music fandom or the god-drunk revels of the Bacchantes. This is the bad kind of hallucinatory cult, which posits some sort of...of...continuum between local and global pollution, as though one could simply travel from point A to point B by passing through the space between, despite what Zeno of Elea had to say on the matter. It all comes down to the arrogance of scientific priestcraft, which can tell us the chemical composition of the Mona Lisa but not why she's smiling, if you get my meaning. It's bondage, in other words. And not the good kind.
Until I see stronger evidence, I will continue to believe that climate change is primarily driven by solar phenomena and that it is normal for the earth to pass through major cooling and warming phases.
Instead of wondering whether it's possible for evidence to be strong enough to establish a proposition of which Paglia doesn't approve, let's consider her use of the word "major." A major warming phase sounds like grounds for...well, let's just say concern. It seems like the sort of event for which one should try to prepare, at the very least, whether one's aim is to protect important species, or national infrastructure, or the Renaissance artwork on display in the Doge's Palace, or queer fetish clubs near the Chelsea docks, or all of the above. But as per usual with the natural-variation crowd, "it's (primarily) the sun, stupid" is simply a rallying cry for smugness and apathy.

Be sure to tune in next week, when Planet Gore trots out Wang Hongcheng to debunk climate orthodoxy once and for all.

(Photo: Hallucinatory cult activity at the South Pole, courtesy of NOAA.)

5 comments:

P. Drāno said...

Slavoj Žižek says that Camille Paglia is herself passing through a major cooling phase.

Phila said...

Slavoj Žižek says that Camille Paglia is herself passing through a major cooling phase.

Maybe we could solve our energy problems by hooking generators to their jaws and locking 'em in a room together.

Anonymous said...

Here, she sets forth her sterling credentials as a person who refuses to listen to things she doesn't want to hear:

In the 1980s, I was...skeptical about media-trumpeted predictions about a world epidemic of heterosexual AIDS.

Once again, Phila, you are reading my mind, or I yours. Now I'm going to have to re-write something.

Paglia is a scab on the decadence of the corporate media. She'd be nothing in a country that wasn't run in the interest of keeping its alleged intellectual class from thinking.

Anthony McCarthy

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Interrobang said...

Five gets you ten Paglia will morph into a full-blown HIV denialist by two years from now. She's already a climate change and sexism denialist, and, as anyone who's paid attention has noticed, one form of crankery tends to lead to others. Someone on ScienceBlogs coined the lovely term "syncretin" to describe these folks.

That is to say, even if you did show her all kinds of strong evidence, she'd refuse to believe it anyway. (And what's the chances she can even read peer-reviewed climatology papers, huh? I have trouble with it, and I'm not a frothing dingbat.)