Monday, September 26, 2011

Only In America

Here's a good article on America's singular denial of anthropogenic climate change, harbored pretty much exclusively within one formerly useful political party. Between the lines, it speaks volumes. Denying the undeniable. Ignoring the obvious. Rejecting science -- and pretty simple science at that: one party, one mindset, whose selfishness and neediness for magical thinking will destroy us all. The extrapolation to just about everything they believe, and how and why they believe it, is more than obvious. For the life of me -- for the life of us all! -- I simply can't fathom the way some people can do it. Some of them are even, by some standards, smart.

If such mental frailty is part of the human condition -- and, in surprisingly many, it surely is -- there must have been some evolutionary benefit at some point, though it's hard to see what it is. Not now, anyway; that much is clear. And it's even harder to figure how, to the extent that it hasn't been dropped from the gene pool, in the so-called civilized world the ability, the need, to ignore reality seems to have congealed solely in the US of A.

I suppose you could speculate that people who immigrated here against all odds had to have had a certain optimism, a type that comes from believing those odds don't apply to them. In that sense, it could only have been a good thing. On the other hand, to succeed after getting here required a sort of mental toughness and creativity that would seem, to me anyway, at odds with rejecting the obvious. The earliest settlers came here for religious freedom, didn't they? People whose need to believe what they wanted to believe in the unprovable magical realm made them willing to risk it all to maintain it. Maybe Republicans are the spawn of that group. Certainly, they claim exclusive rights to the thoughts of the Founding Fathers.

But those weren't the Pilgrims: those were something else entirely. Voracious readers, skeptics, agnostics, among the religious. Jumping on the "I know what (your choice of dead person) would say" bandwagon, I have no doubt that Thos. Jefferson would be a believer in man-made climate change. Ben Franklin. John Adams. These were seekers of truth, rebels against status quo. Science guys.

From such promising beginning, our country has, nearly inexplicably, descended quite suddenly from one of invention, of risk-taking, of horizon-broadening explorers, into one -- at the level of governance, at least; of politics -- of selfish cocooning into the opposite of thinking. Of close-mindedness in the service of maintaining the immediate comfort of religious or religion-like adherence to nonsense. Of choosing such empty-headed dishonest bigoted stupid (or needing to appear stupid to win teabaggR approval) people as the current crop of Republican presidential candidates.

How I wish I could be around when, much too late, they realize what they've done.

[Added: just this morning, I watched this:]


  1. Sid, just putting "Anthropogenetic" in front of something doesnt substitute for cold impartial research. Its like "Anthropogenetic Jerking Off", even eith the fancy name your still just playing with yourself.
    Example, what was the temperature in Omaha Nebraska on July 4th, 1776?
    NOBODY KNOWS, it could have been 120 degrees, or 120 below,or a pleasant 72, nobody was there except the Indians, and they didn't have Thermometers.
    They were here first though...
    nuthin like a good Indian joke to start your week.
    So if you can't tell me what the temperature was in a major midwestern city several centuries ago, how can you predict what the Earth's temperature's gonna be several centuries from now??
    Don't answer its rhetorical.
    Heck, I'd be happy if you can tell me what the weathers gonna be this weekend...
    and even if you can, AlGores still fat, he's so creepy even Prostitutes say so, and did I say he's fat?


  2. Ummm, OK, maybe its another LSD-2 flashback...
    did you say Thomas Jefferson believed in Anthropogenetic Climate Change???
    Well he had Slaves too, screwed em in fact.
    I mean sexually, not just that he made them work for free.
    but I still like him, cause he's the only founding father who was lefthanded...


  3. Hey Dr. Sid,
    Warm-earthers are less educated and probably slightly more scientifically illiterate than climate realists (skeptics) according to this study from Yale.

    Maybe if you get a PhD, you'll finally be able to understand that
    man made "climate change" is only a theory with questionable data collection methods and "evidence".


    Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-26
    Cultural Cognition Project Working Paper No. 89
    Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 435

    The conventional explanation for controversy over climate change emphasizes impediments to public understanding: Limited popular knowledge of science, the inability of ordinary citizens to assess technical information, and the resulting widespread use of unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. A large survey of U.S. adults (N = 1540) found little support for this account. On the whole, THE MOST SCIENTIFICALLY LITERATE SUBJECTS WERE SLIGHTLY LESS LIKELY, NOT MORE, TO SEE CLIMATE CHANGE AS A SERIOUS THREAT THAN THE LEAST SCIENTIFICALLY LITERATE ONES. More importantly, greater scientific literacy and numeracy were associated with greater cultural polarization: Respondents predisposed by their values to dismiss climate change evidence became more dismissive, and those predisposed by their values to credit such evidence more concerned, as science literacy and numeracy increased. We suggest that this evidence reflects a conflict between two levels of rationality: The individual level, which is characterized by citizens’ effective use of their knowledge and reasoning capacities to form risk perceptions that express their cultural commitments; and the collective level, which is characterized by citizens’ failure to converge on the best available scientific evidence on how to promote their common welfare. Dispelling this, “tragedy of the risk-perception commons,” we argue, should be understood as the central aim of the science of science communication.

  4. Nice to hear from you, PT.

    Of course the study you cite has nothing to do with the science of climate change, per se. I agree it's interesting (and I've written about it before) that even smart people can rationalize ignoring facts when it suits them. It speaks volumes about the human condition, the human brain: its frailty, its need, in times of trouble, to simplify and turn to magical thinking.

    In fact I'd say it's been and will continue to be a central theme of this blog: humans -- the best that god could come up with, according to legend -- are woefully ill-suited to tackle the hard stuff when the chips are down; and are amazingly adept at pretending it's all okay.


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