It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Latest delusionism from the WSJ

Because we have been successfully Godwinned out of calling the self-proclaimed "skeptics" "denialists", I join the new trend in calling them "delusionists".

Here's a slightly edited instant messaging transcript you may find interesting. "mt" below is me. The other two people speaking are not climatologists. One (here called 'Fred') is well-known as an author of operational weather forecasting codes. The other (here called 'Barney') is a very clever high performance computing expert who has seen weather and climate codes but does not specialize in them.

It is interesting that Barney was quick to violate Godwin without any prompting. I do not think he has heard of "denialism".

TRANSCRIPT BEGINS

mt says, "The Wall Street Journal is at it again." [linked]

... pause ...

Fred: Mr. Jenkins is pissing in the wind. If the world scientific community *and* the U.S. Supreme Court aren't enough for him then I guess he's just gonna have to suffer.

Fred says, "I like how he slams Gore for what Jenkins thinks Gore's going to say."

Fred says, "Ought to at least let him say the thing first before criticising it. What's wrong with public discourse in this country?"

Fred says, "Are the people I agree with this strident and obnoxious too, and I just don't notice it because I agree with them?"

Fred . o O ( I'd like to think not, but we're all creatures of our own biases. )

Barney . o O ( What's wrong with "such a belief [being] the 'consensus' of scientists"? Perhaps Mr. Jenkins only shares beliefs with a plethora of tooth faries, or he only believes things written in invisible ink he cannot see drafted by an invisible man he does not know, or maybe god just tells him what to believe... or maybe he just knows better. )

Barney says, "A consensus of scientists have a theory of gravity -- but they're all wrong: The earth just sucks."

Barney says, ""Obviously we need a better theory than Mr. Inhofe's of when head-counting is a useful way of estimating the validity of a factual proposition and when it isn't." Yeah... How about a "scientific theory"?"

Barney assumes fetal position on floor in corner.

Barney can't tell if the WSJ is anti-science, or anti-intellectual.

Barney says, "What other well documented facts does WSJ provide coulmn space debunking? Anything on holocaust denial? What, exactly, is WSJ's point in running this dribble?"

Barney says, "There's a reason why it's always non-scientists who discover "mistakes" in cimate change studies: Lack of skill in the field leads to difficulties in self-assessing one's own incompetence."

Fred says, "Well said. I like the tooth fairy plethora consensus."

9 comments:

Michael Tobis said...

to which I replied as follows:


mt says, "can I quote you guys on my blog? That was a great summary."

mt says, "unfortunately the propaganda is successful enough that many people (many republican voters anyway) believe that"

mt says, "the WSJ has been saying this for a long time. They have exceeded my original best bet that they would reverse themselves by 2005. (I estimated that in 1993, because I figured the change would be casually obvious by 2005.)"

mt says, "I did not reckon for people being unconvinced by a validated prediction of a weird change"

EliRabett said...

What did Wilma say?

Besides which Eli calls then denialists, not deniers, so they can go Godwin themselves.

Michael Tobis said...

Man, the calculated Godwin violations are flying around everywhere these days.

Do you think someone wants to actually prevent rational conversation?

EliRabett said...

No, I think the umbrage takers will always paint themselves umber. It's simply another tactic they use to try and distract the audience. If you accomodate them, they move on to the next step until they gobble you up.

Remember, on space ships, you mess with the air supply you get tossed out air lock.

chris said...

P.Z. Myers had a post a while back suggesting that we call religious people "demented fuckwits."
I know it's uncivil but it still runs through my head by times.
I fail to see the problem with calling a denialist a denialist ( or denier). The mental process, if sticking your fingers in your ears and humming can be called that, is the same no matter the topic.
Denial is a defense mechanism which protects frightened people from truths they do not wish to acknowledge. They need to be called on it, over and over again.
People in denial twist and squirm, kick, scratch and bite, evoke Hitler to make truth go away.
But truth chips away at denial.
Keep presenting the truth.

Michael Tobis said...

Chris, you may be happier hanging around with coturnix.

First of all, I consider myself a religious person, just not a superstitious one. So I suppose I have little choice but to take offense.

I think it is one thing to be angry, and another to be contemptuous.

The former is bad enough tactically, but its at least understandable. The latter is not only mean and ignorant. It is also the road to defeat.

Do you want to feel superior, or do you want the world to find some way out of this mess? I choose the latter.

The people who have been roped into superstitious hostility toward science are innocent victims. On the whole they are kind and decent, perhaps more so than the rest of us.

Their kindness and decency has been preyed upon by a few unscrupulous people. Your arrogance and childish humor will do them no good, and in the end will do the rest of us no good either.

ankh said...

Did you see today's WSJ? They won a couple of prizes for articles exposing failures of capitalism (US and Chinese); their editor is saying that's one of the paper's major purposes.

Good to know, eh?

In other news, NASA confirms Einstein was right: if you spin really fast you can drag the frame with you.

-Hank Roberts

________________
If I have seen further than others it is by getting in the hair of giants.

Steve Bloom said...

Michael, the WSJ's anti-AGW editorial stance is not strictly either anti-science or anti-intellectual (although it touches on both), but anti-environmental. This goes back to the development (more or less in the '70s) of the Republican coalition we see today. An underlying premise is that protection of various aspects of the environment can all be delayed with no real long-term harm, which in the case of AGW is a problematic attitude.

Kevin said...

How about the term, "global warming staller" or "global warming procrastinator" ? I think the first term accurately encompasses the chronically shifting position of a denier.