The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A confusing week

As far as I can tell there's a whole lotta shark-jumpin goin' on these days.

It's all about what Marshall McLuhan called "hot media". McLuhan feared video (called television in his day) though he wrote about it a lot. He was an intellectual, and he feared the visceral power of moving images. I think he had a point.

To start the headspinning episodes off, Joe Romm featured this video. It's a rhetorically effective piece, well designed and well produced, and containing shocking scences of this some of this year's extreme weather events, under the rubric "this is what global warming looks like". I think it was guilty of nothing more than spin until the end, when it blurts "a 1600 square mile ice chunk broke split from the great Petermann Glacier leaving the Arctic sea ice at an all time low". Now we have a statement that totally demolishes the impact of the piece for anyone who has the remotest understanding of the way the cryosphere works. It is one thing to emphasize the bad things that are probably starting to become more common and/or mopre extreme. It's another thing to just blunder. Did nobody who knew anything at all vet this video? And why feature it on Climate Progress with a blunder like that?

So what to do? I thought I'd feature a much better piece, a recent Peter Sinclair Climate Crock of the Week, about the recent stress among Arctic walruses as the ice retreated to far out to sea to support the offshore weaning of walrus pups. Essentially this population of walruses faces the same stresses as some polar bear groups. I got a surprisingly virulent critic of this piece based entirely on the use of the word "extinction" in Peter's title, and not in any of the claims made in the video.

So while I was contemplating how universal video publishing (a bandwagon I've yet to climb on) is going to effect debate in the future, and whether I should favorably compare Peter's piece to the flawed NRDC piece, the bombshell of the bizarre 10/10/10 10:10 (not the same as 10/10/10 apparently) "exploding schoolchildren" video emerges. (If you haven't endured it yet and are of a mind to, here's a link.)

Great moments in the annals of "what the hell were they even thinking"? OK, preachy and tedious greenish schoolteacher, earnest and cooperative children, a couple of surly outliers, and their explicitly violent death at the hands of the teacher? Followed by a couple of reprises in case you missed the point? OK, so we start with everything everybody hates about greens, and follow up with what the most paranoid among us fear? What?

(Yes I'm aware of the use of comparable devices in Monty Python's work. Few can take a back seat to me as a Python fan in either non-herpetological sense. But this is obviously grossly misplaced and I fail to see why it is even perceived as funny at all.)

Yet, that wasn't the worst of it. Even more amazing, we find that the denial squad takes this piece literally, as an encouragement to greens to 1) deliver stupefyingly ponderous lectures and 2) assassinate anyone who is unconvinced.

Delingpole:
With No Pressure, the environmental movement has revealed the snarling, wicked, homicidal misanthropy beneath its cloak of gentle, bunny-hugging righteousness.
Motl:
However, it was the choice of the 10:10 movement to openly promote genocide. They are not just promoting it: much like in the case of The Fate of the World PC game, they are planning it. They are genuinely planning ways how to reduce the global CO2 emissions by 10% a year. And indeed, genocide similar to what they present in the video (or in the game) is the only plausible way how something of the sort may be achieved.

However, if 10:10 has similar ideas what to do with the people from the "other side", they may rename themselves from 10:10 to 9:11; the sum wouldn't change, after all. Al Qaeda U.K. may sound nicer than 9:11.

The CIA, FBI, and others should go after the neck of the inhuman activists behind the 10:10 movement and those who harbor them. These people are a genuine threat not only for your well-being and prosperity but for your freedom and health (or life), too.
(Update: Coby Beck has more examples of this sort of thing.)

There's an interesting defense of the piece here, but for me it doesn't wash. You actually have to find that there is some humor under the vile misanthropy of the piece. I don't find it.

Most confusing of all, even though he goes out of his way to bait me, (bait which I am, as you see, not taking) I think Tom Fuller (of all people) wrote a more sensible critique:
What are they saying? That it’s okay to ostracize, bully and dismiss those who don’t agree that climate change is uber alles (Oops! Godwin alert, Godwin alert) and that skeptics or the children of skeptics are fair game for… whatever.

As there is no real attempt at humour in the video, there’s no point in pretending it’s a parody. It’s instructional. It’s not even aimed at helping children work towards reducing emissions. It’s about helping children take aim at those who do not.

... there is a special place in hell reserved for those whose intent it is to legitimize the cruelty of children towards each other based on what has evidently become a religious belief. And I hope that none of the film’s makers reaches that special place ahead of their allotted timespan–but I hope they get there.
Well, I don't wish hell on anybody, but this is really the point.

We have forgotten how to think and we are reduced to pulling each other's strings. This was a gross misfire in the battle of manipulated emotions. Indeed, there is lots of evidence that the opposition does this far better than we do. But the game is the same; it is an "own goal" as the Brits say, on the playing field of emotional manipulation and not of reason. Not a word about why one should or shouldn't act in these ways appears in the entire piece.

In a society where social connections are frayed and community leadership has vanished, we losing track of ways of collectively processing information rationally. In the end people vote with their gut, having no time to engage their brains and nobody sensible to talk things through with.

Peter Sinclair's work, by contrast, stands above the usual propaganda because he goes to science and to scientists, and goes out of his way to represent the facts on the ground as they stand. He lets the facts work on your emotions. The visceral power of images is there, but it shows us that there are serious, smart, hard-working people who are genuinely worried about this or that peice of the puzzle.

The climate crisis is not the last complexity we will face. Even if it turns out to be a dud, or if the Lomborgians find the magic pixie dust that outcompetes carbon without a carbon tax, our future remains bleak unless we remember how to reason together.

Similarly, if do we succeed somehow in capping carbon concentrations based on a widespread shallow and manipulated belief that we ought to do so which isn't really based somehow in some combination of reason and deserved trust, it really will be something of an enforced religion. I really don't see how that can work.

I think we are in a desperate race against time to create not just an ethic of sustainability but a rational understanding of it as well. The solution isn't in pushing through some half-baked compromises. The solution is in a world that lets go of the pieces of its cultures that cannot fit through into the future.

There are many other problems between our increasingly muddled and desperate present state and the sustainable universal prosperity and dignity that until recently everybody was genuinely hoping for and even expecting. The lack of real progress over my lifetime, and the increasing signs of decadence, denial and decline, have been a very deep disappointment to me and to the best of my generation.



I suppose I have no authority to say something like this; I'm not a Rabbi or a Mahatma, just a fading old hipster with a fancy but commercially useless degree. Make of it what you will but this is what I believe.

If there is a way out, it will not come from any of us acting on our fears or frustrations. A sustainable world can be a better world. The changes we need are significant, but not overwhelming. There is no hope in making enemies. The world is no longer stable enough to afford much hostility. If there is a solution, it is not in anger but in joy; not in meanness but in generosity of spirit; not in fences but in bridges; not in noise but in music.

A different Fuller, old man Buckminster, wrote a book called Utopia or Oblivion. I think he had it right. Why is that even a difficult choice?

53 comments:

Dan Olner said...

10:10's apology seems to show they still don't get what the problem with this video was... note this line: "Many people found the resulting film extremely funny, but unfortunately some didn't and we sincerely apologise to anybody we have offended."

'Unfortunately, some people just couldn't see the funny side, the old curmudgeons...'

10:10 is a big campaign and quite a success story in the UK. The denialosphere reaction probably won't affect them, but someone (don't know who) should get through to them and make clear just how politically appalling that video was. People trying to fight against scientific ignorance of climate change don't need this sort of own-goal.

Stepping back from it, though: it's actually curious how such a large campaign group got this film all the way to production. People like Delingpole / Brooker / North in the UK are one thing, but perhaps over here they really are a tiny minority. Not so in the US?

geodoctor said...

Richard Curtis wrote the film (he of Blackadder and Four Weddings and a Funeral fame). Impeccable comedy writing credentials. Perhaps they just assumed anything he wrote HAD to be funny, and dispensed with the usual oversight.

Big mistake, if that's what happened.

profmandia said...

I am SHOCKED, just SHOCKED that 10:10 suggests that we blow up our children! What a dumb idea.

Instead, we should be EATING OUR CHILDREN.

A Modest Carbon Proposal by Jonathan Swifthack

We are making this a bigger story than it should be. I say poke fun at it to minimize its importance.

Heraclitus said...

Michael, over recent months I've increasingly come to feel you spoke for me, but not on this one. Fuller's comments like this: "As there is no real attempt at humour in the video, there’s no point in pretending it’s a parody. It’s instructional. It’s not even aimed at helping children work towards reducing emissions. It’s about helping children take aim at those who do not." are nonsense.

"It's instructional"??? What does that mean? No it's not and moreover this displays a total lack of understanding of the way children think.

Why should the film contain information? There's no shortage of information, anyone not aware of the 10:10 aims and reasons behind them are either blind, illiterate or choosing to be unaware. The film had one purpose, to stop people choosing unawareness and to get them engaging with the issues. I'm not going to argue it was successful in this nor that it wasn't damaging but Fuller's interpretation is dross.

rab said...

I agree with Mandia. All that hand-wringing by Romm only serves to tie the video to our side. I say just ignore it.

Michael Tobis said...

Hera; 1) yes a video advocating a counterintuitive behavior should always contain a little information 2) I don't entirely agree with Fuller's take on this but it seems much more reasonable than Dellingpole's; at least he isn't suggesting that there is a literal encouragement toward genocide.

As to how children think, there's hardly a universal generalization, but it's easy for me to see this as license for bullying kids who don't conform. That is not how we are going to prevail.

I agree with Scott Mandia that this isn't all that important in itself. It isn't as serious a setback as it at first appeared, but this is because deniers are playing it the way Dellingpole is.

But it does raise the question of hot media vs cool media. Our message requires patience and learning. The message that we are "simply" sinister in some implausible way is more suited for hot media. The less time people have for cool media, the worse off we get. We can't win by going with a pure hot media manipulative message, because what we are selling is adulthood and the competition is selling adolescence.

Which brings me around to Pirate Radio (a great movie). The pirates were also selling adolescence, but of a particularly idealistic and enthusiastic sort to a society that badly needed a boost of enthusiasm.

Our hope is in imagining a sustainable world. It could well turn out to be a beautiful thing; something that can be posited as an inspirational ideal, something we can sing about. The path from here to there is complex, and the ideal doesn't work without geek chic; so we need the cool media as well as the hot.

We need to make the case intellectually as well as emotionally. The disregard of the former has been a big part of our recent failures. Skeptical Science is a big step forward.

Tom said...

My reference to you was supposed to be light hearted. Oh, yeah--so was that video...

I would hope to be able to say something coherent on this subject, as I get paid to do so for clients. And I'm very aware that that does not confer any legitimacy on things I write on other subjects.

So staying with the same topic, it seems clear (as I wrote at WUWT) that following a very difficult period for environmental activism in general, a variety of organisations have ceased working together on the messages they craft for the public. The 10:10 video is just the latest example.

So far, the net effect has not been useful for those they claim to represent. Without going into right or wrong on any of the subjects, the messages have not helped with either those on side or with opponents, and especially not with the two or three people in this world that are still undecided.

I think one of the problems is that there is too much government money floating around, something that tends to fund projects that normally would not be moved forward. When government spends money on media messaging, the message is definitely secondary in the eyes of many competing for the money.

My honest assessment is that a lot of people panicked after Climategate and Copenhagen (much more because of the latter) and started throwing ad hoc messages against the community billboard.

The major miscommunications were:

Scholars and Rogue-led attack on The Hockey Stick Illusion

Prall et al in PNAS

WWF skyscraper ad

Greenpeace opposition to S. African coal plant

Repetitive attacks on Koch brothers

10:10 video

Again, I'm not arguing the validity or lack thereof of any of the issues involved--I'm talking about the quality of the actual message that is delivered.

You are not getting it right. Here it is the 4th of October and the only person to write about the large September anomaly is Lucia Liljegren. It's clear that the big guys (marketing teams from very large environmental organisations) are no long co-ordinating and your messaging is suffering as a result. And people are trying to compensate with tactically organised pet ideas that are not vetted against any strategic goals.

You need to remember that no messaging is far better than bad messaging.

And, MT, sorry if I don't stick around but I have no interest in seeing what Marco, ManuelG, Delgado and dhogaza have to say about me.

skanky said...

"but it seems much more reasonable than Dellingpole's;"

Delingpole is a polemicist who makes a living by being unreasonable. For example he explicitly stated that he avoids reading scientific literature and/or it's not worth bothering with (I forget the actual wording. It was in a debate with Monbiot on The Daily Politics Show - can't find a clip, probably there isn't one any more, knowing the BBC). And finally, when I once visited his website (I've not been again) he listed "war" as one of his likes.

So it's not hard to be more reasonable than him.

I stopped paying any attention him when I saw that.

Heraclitus said...

Well if all you're saying is Fuller's comments were more reasonable that Delingpole's then fair enough, it'd be hard to string any words together and not be more reasonable. But you seemed to be suggesting it was better than Matt Wootton's and whilst I don't fully agree with his analysis either it is streets ahead of Fuller's - at least going by the bits you have excerpted here.

There is no shortage of patiently presented, cool-media style information on 10:10 - it's everywhere for those willing to see it. I don't see that this film needed to add to that information.

I don't believe there is ever going to be any significant pressure of a bullying nature amongst teenagers for their peers to conform to a sustainable lifestyle. If anything this idea was what the absurdist vision in the film was parodying.

Michael Tobis said...

Heraclitus, I think something like that as going on, too. But that is an awfully subtle moral to be conveying with such a coarse story. It's little wonder that most people didn't get it.

I am not just trying to butter up Tom F. Obviously his follow-up here shows how peculiar his view of this all is. But I am bound and determined to judge people's points one by one. The coarsening and derationalizing of discourse is by far the dominant message of the video. The satire fails so thoroughly that one is forced to wonder if any satire was intended at all.

Re Wootton; URL please?

Heraclitus said...

Michael - you gave the link to Wootton! He authored the greenwordsworkshop piece.

I'm still not sure the satire has failed with all groups yet, it's too early to tell what the eventual impact will be, though it doesn't look too good at the moment. Many people have suggested a disjunction between British and American homour/humor, I'm not sure about this (Team America?) but no-one I know saw this as coarse (no not quite what I mean - no-one missed that there was subtlety along with the coarseness, though not necessarily being sure what that was). When I showed it to my wife she was offended, but only because the teacher at the start said that the students' dads could insulate the loft.

Andy S said...

There's a cultural aspect to this discussion that gets neglected. British advertising relies much more heavily on humour--admittedly, often weak humour--and sometimes goes as far as mocking the product it is promoting. Even supporters of the goals of 10:10 may feel that the moral coercion that is central to the campaign can appear sanctimonious. That's the target of the advertisement. It's an attempt to make a clever, arty statement about motivations and methods of activists, not to change the minds of doubters.

Australian advertising culture is similar, I believe, and the comments at Deltoid seem generally less outraged than those I have read on American blogs. http://tinyurl.com/23cjpc8

This is not a defence of the ad: it was lame and stupid, a failed in-joke and a waste of talent and resources.

The outrage over the gore is a little overdone, I think. I'm thankful, at least, that the way dissenters were dealt with was obviously absurd. (OK, except to nutters like Motl.) Imagine how much more chilling it would have looked if, instead of the resistant schoolchildren being bloodily blown apart, they were instead gently led away by men in uniform.

Hank Roberts said...

> led away
Scary but not helpful.

Perhaps helpful:
Show the kids projected into their own future to learn the consequences of current choices.

That movie has been made:
"The Age of Stupid"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRrrb2XlHpI&feature=related

profmandia said...

RE: Age of Stupid

The beginning was very good, the ending was excellent, but the middle dragged. I did like the storyline overall but this movie will fail to impress because of that middle section.

I think a 20 minute mini-movie would have been more effective.

Fat Bastard said...

+1 to what andyS said.

Aaron said...

What is funny is not that anybody gets blown-up, but that today, for all of the sound and fury, NOBODY is taking any serious action. The butt of the joke is not the denialists, but “Scientific Reticence.” You do not like the video because it points a finger at the people who understand global warming, but have not mobilized politically to the extent required to solve the problem in the time allotted. You think that you “get it” because you understand the problem. No! WE do not “get it” until WE have solved the problem. Until WE have solved the problem, WE deserve to be ridiculed.

In time of war, armies are drafted and sailors pressed. In times of epidemics, quarantines are enforced against the infected. In times of great fires, we dynamite sections of cities to create fire breaks. In times of climate change, we need to take draconian laws against anybody and everybody that squanders carbon.

David B. Benson said...

I suspect that increasingly easy communication demonstrates to those in ivory towers that, to their surprise, the great unwashed don't think so well.

William T said...

I finally watched the video (actually, only the first half - I'm not into this kind of splatter genre) and have to agree that I'm struggling to find the "humour" in it.

A couple of comments - apart from the genre of "splatter" movies that some people find funny, there is the current obsession with gore and vampires amongst youth audiences, and also the phenomenon of pushing people into cringe-inducing scenarios (eg in reality-tv) and then humiliating or "expelling" them from the show. This video had elements of that. But I don't find that kind of stuff funny either.


As for Fuller, he's almost funny in his concern that there isn't a unified messaging strategy on "our side". Maybe he does really believe there is a some "team" masterminding global warming?

Patrick Mouse said...

Michael quotes the line "a 1600 square mile ice chunk" which was supposed to have been evidence of an alarming decline in the area of sea ice in the artic. The number "1600" seems to have been a typo. Having watched the video they said that "a 160 square mile ice chunk" was cause for concern. That is hardly akin to the break up of an ice shelf the size of Conneticut or even Rhode Island. 1600 square miles would be akin to a Larsen B scale ice shelf collapse.

The people who made the video also do not seem to be aware of the distinction between sea ice and glacial ice and why it matters.

Andreas Muenchow of the University of Delaware refered to the ice island that calved off the Petermann glacier as being four times the size of Manhattan. While this is nothing to be scoffed at it is not the home run that they after.

The difficulty is that when people try to understand large numbers often times they just don't.

My chem teacher illustrated avogadro's number by asking how much money (if distributed equitabley) would allow 6 billion people to spend 3.93 billion dollars a day, 365 days a year for 70 years?

David B. Benson said...

MT --- Unfortunately there are some people who can't reason.

EliRabett said...

And how does this differ from Lubos and the Lames favorite book, Atlas Shrugged?

Rattus Norvegicus said...

I have to say that the best comment so far.

Made me laugh harder than the video, much made me laugh pretty hard, but then left me confused because I couldn't figure out what they were trying to say.

Hank Roberts said...

> anomaly
One of these?
http://chartsgraphs.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/arctic-oscillation-1-trends/

Neven said...

If there is a way out, it will not come from any of us acting on our fears or frustrations. A sustainable world can be a better world. The changes we need are significant, but not overwhelming. There is no hope in making enemies. The world is no longer stable enough to afford much hostility. If there is a solution, it is not in anger but in joy; not in meanness but in generosity of spirit; not in fences but in bridges; not in noise but in music.

Well said, MT.

Maybe we should focus less on AGW and more on talking about the transition towards a sustainable society? Sometimes I feel as if AGW distracts from other global environmental and social problems. And there are a lot out there.

Or let me put it this way, no matter what problem is discussed, the absolute necessity of transitioning towards a more sustainable society should always be the conclusion.

Of course, such a transition will only become possible once we ditch the pathological concept of exponential and infinite economic growth, the root problem. That's the other thing that in my view should always be emphasized in the discussion of big problems, from AGW to financial bubbles, from Peak X to ocean acidification, from resource wars to diabesitas.

I also notice in debates with skeptics that it helps when I emphasize that I'm mainly interested in this transition towards a more sustainable society, and that AGW is just one of the many reasons to do so.

You see, no one can argue against a transition towards a more sustainable society. It creates sort of a basis on which both parties agree. And I think that on the sparse occasions that I manage to convey that this transition is my principal motivation, my credibility as someone who really means well for everyone involved is boosted.

Dean said...

There is a sizable number of people today who consider the depiction of extreme violence to be entertaining, and we see that in movies all the time. Now it usually is not labeled as comedy, but some people do think that slasher "horror" (horrible?) movies are funny. I don't personally think they are either funny or entertaining, but I am assuming that the people who made this video come out of that group. People who see the depiction of violence as detached from real violence.

If such a video were made by a group active in a different cause that is less politically-loaded, it would have been pulled just as quick, but otherwise ignored. I think it says more about those who "found the resulting film extremely funny" (as the apology describes it) than the politics of climate change/disruption.

Dean said...

I would add that in an age of terrorism and suicide bombings, trying to get people to see violence as funny when connected with a political cause is even more problematic than it used to be. Personally this doesn't bother me at all. I think that violence as entertainment has a dulling affect for _some_ people and that violent video games probably do make a few people more prone to violence, and a few is all it takes.

Michael Tobis said...

Cartoonish violence can be funny, but it's hardly guaranteed.

Some of the Python bits were hilarious. I find the Black Knight sequence hard to take because it's too explicit and goes on too long.

That's not the issue here. Whatever the filmmaker was trying to do beyond the gross-out is hopelessly obscure. The gross-out was far too explicit and realistic to be seen as tolerable within a joke by many people, myself included, but more to the point, the actual joke was undetectable.

The ways in which it's being interpreted are fascinating.

Lazar said...

Sigh... try again...

The founder of 10:10, Franny Armstrong in the Guardian;

"What to do with those people, who are together threatening everybody's existence on this planet? Clearly we don't really think they should be blown up, that's just a joke for the mini-movie, but maybe a little amputating would be a good place to start?"

And in an alleged email;

"It’s a fairly simple and to-the-point premise, I’m sure you’ll agree: we celebrate everybody who is actively tackling climate change… by blowing up those are aren’t."

Lazar said...

Points...

How many times can one joke about inflicting violence on political opponents before rational people stop giving the benefit of the doubt? What if, instead, it's racist jokes?

If the above is excusable, then no complaints for...

"Making sure that every scientist at every university in this country who has been involved in this is named and fired, drawn and quartered" -- Rush Limbaugh

"There's not enough knives. If this, if the IPCC had been done by Japanese scientists, there's not enough knives on planet Earth for hara-kiri that should have occurred." -- Glenn Beck

Call me a simple cynic (is that a contradiction?)... but the ending that lingers on the blood and the no pressure message is sinister... the fascist glove fits better than more generous hypotheses

"what to do with those people"... we don't wanna go down that path...

Heraclitus said...

Lazar - I struggle to believe you don't see the difference between jokes about physical harm towards inactivists and racist jokes. Racist jokes are not funny because racism is a real and insidious issue. Franny's coments are of a fundamentally different order because even the thought of inflicting physical harm in this context is absurd. Or at least it is absurd coming from the 10:10 campaign, which is as benign an organisation as it is possible to imagine.

I'm increasingly coming to the conclusion that the main problem with the 'No Pressure' film has been the difference in mindset between the US and the UK - in the US it's possible that people genuinely don't see this threat of violence as absurd. This is perhaps related to the Authoritarian / Nurturing divide.

Neven said...

the difference in mindset between the US and the UK

I've asked a few friends in the UK and none of them thought it was funny. They thought it was tasteless (the splatter) and the message was wrong (if you're not with us, you're against us). Mind you, these Brits I know are very eco-conscious people. One friend in the Netherlands thought it was a good ad, because it wasn't so soft, like most environmental ads are (which BTW isn't true). Coincidentally, he's in the advertising business, so there you go.

There certainly is a part of the environmentalist movement (which isn’t half as homogenous as the denialist movement, where utter nutcases like Monckton, Delingpole, Corbyn and Plimer are accepted because they serve a purpose) that is obviously so frustrated with the slow pace and the semi-solutions, that they most of all would like to see a large part of humanity disappear, so we can all return to some primitivist no-tech culture.

I don’t think they are actually willing to commit genocide, like the ‘ill doers are ill deemers’ denialists are suggesting, but they wouldn’t mind if the avian flu really did come to pass and killed by the b/millions. There most definitely is a misanthropic element to a part of the environmental movement, and I think this ad was a bit of a Freudian slip for the people behind it (like Frannie Armstrong).

I don’t like people like that, just like I don’t like denialists.

Heraclitus said...

Neven, maybe you're right and there is a perception in the UK that there are groups of activists who could contemplate physical attacks - there are animal rights groups, for example, that might foster this perception. But I don't think anyone could associate this with the 10:10 campaign, or any similar group working within the normal bounds of social discourse, and I'd say you're being unfair to use the term 'freudian slip' here.

Possibly this film risks erroding the boundary between these approaches, at least in people's perceptions, and I guess that was basically Lazar's point. But I think we should be attacking that (false) perception, not the film, however ill-advised it was.

(P.S. missing my early morning dose of Arctic sea ice - so what's happening in the Antarctic these days?)

Neven said...

I'd say you're being unfair to use the term 'freudian slip' here.

But it is a bit of a Freudian slip. That is what you get when you combine a certain (more fanatical) part of the environmentalist movement with PR and film professionals who never think more than 1 second about AGW or sustainability.

Things show through in this ad. Like the misanthropy, which is not the whole story. Frustration plays a part as well, and I think everyone sometimes thinks 'if people would just do what I tell them, everything will be fine'.

Misanthropy doesn't equate to genocide. I don't think that Frannie Armstrong wants to kill skeptics or the brainwashed masses in general, but I don't think she would mind if they all got the avian flu either.

I'm fine with that. I also sometimes think that the Earth doesn't have the carrying capacity for so many people in this delusional system of exponential economic growth. But my ethics tell me I should look at the system first, and then the population problem.

However, if you're a fanatic (and I have a strong suspicion Frannie Armstrong is one, not only based on this ad and her remarks, but also on The Age of Stupid and the interviews and articles I read surrounding it) you will want a) that population gets reduced drastically, again, not by genocide, but rather voluntarily and/or catastrophes, and b) that everyone does as you say before it's too late.

And that really shows through in this ad, combined with the mindless professionalism of the people who determine our culture (hence the splattering blood=funny aberration). Despite all good intentions.

Anyway, that's how I see it.

Neven said...

(P.S. missing my early morning dose of Arctic sea ice - so what's happening in the Antarctic these days?)

Check the Open Thread. Don't know about the Antarctic. I'll do a blog on that one, when the canary decides to show signs of asphyxiation in that part of the world. Perhaps it already does, but not clearly enough, like it does in the Arctic.

Lazar said...

Heraclitus,

"Racist jokes are not funny"

The issue I'm raising is not whether the jokes are funny... which depends on the individual... I'm asking how many times does the 'it is only a joke of course they don't mean that' excuse work?... "How many times can one joke about inflicting violence on political opponents before rational people stop giving the benefit of the doubt?"

"racism is a real and insidious issue"

Violence and the desire to inflict violence on political opponents are real issues (whether they are capable of acting on that wish is a separate issue)... particularly where as Matt Wootten put it "caring" emotions run high e.g. animal rights and anti-abortion activism and even environmentalism. Remember Franny believes...

"those people, who are together threatening everybody's existence on this planet?" [...] "300,000 real people who now die each year from climate change"

You're claiming it's inconceivable that anyone involved in the 10:10 video could want to inflict physical violence on their opponents. Therefore Franny could make hundreds of such jokes and it still would be alright? No qualms? Really?

As Neven says, there is a misanthropic section of the environmental movement, it is small, but it is real, and if we end up excusing it and pretending it doesn't exist... we end up in a dark place.

Heraclitus said...

I don't think it's not a Freudian slip because it couldn't reflect a deep-seated deisre for the problem of inactivism to simply 'go away', but because of the intentionality in the film. There was a conscious choice, maybe wrong, naive or stupid, tbut still a choice to frame the message in this way.

I think you're unfair on Franny Armstrong. It seems to me she represents the opposite to the sort of fanatic you portray her as. By her own admission she is obsessed by climate change (it is difficult to be anything else once you accept the reality we face) but she has responded to this obsession in a far more positive and constructive way than most of us. The films she has made and the work she has put in to the 10:10 campaign are the opposite of the despairing response of a misanthropist. In my view the film deliberately plays on this and puts up the misanthropic vision in order to utterly dismiss it in reality.

Heraclitus said...

Lazar, I don't claim it's inconceivable that anyone in the 10:10 campaign wants to commit physical violence but I do claim that the reality is they don't. I don't believe anyone can look at what they have said and done and come to any other conclusion. The conceivability that they might is where the film becomes 'edgy', but this idea can and should quickly be dispelled.

For me I think she can get away with the joke a few more times, though she'd be advised not to try too often.

Lazar said...

Heraclitus,

"I do claim that the reality is they don't"

... neither of use can read minds, we're both speculating.

"I don't believe anyone can look at what they have said and done and come to any other conclusion."

I can and do.

"this idea can and should quickly be dispelled"

why "should"?

"I think she can get away with the joke a few more times"

Okay.

I can't see this going much further... agree to disagree?

Neven said...

You're claiming it's inconceivable that anyone involved in the 10:10 video could want to inflict physical violence on their opponents. Therefore Franny could make hundreds of such jokes and it still would be alright? No qualms? Really?

I agree with you up to this point, but I think you're projecting too much on your opponent here. I'm quite sure that nobody involved in this film would want to inflict physical violence on their opponents.

As Neven says, there is a misanthropic section of the environmental movement, it is small, but it is real, and if we end up excusing it and pretending it doesn't exist... we end up in a dark place.

Sure, but we don't have to equate misanthropy to wishing mass murder or political liquidations. These are not the same things. Genocide and political liquidations have to do with hatred of certain groups, not of mankind as a whole or the species of Homo not so Sapiens.

I think misanthropy is a quite logical response. Just looking at what human beings, individually and as groups, are doing and have done to each other, to animals, and to their habitat, is heartrending. If a peaceful alien species would come and see what is coming out of the tremendous possibilities we as conscious beings possess, I think their would be a lot of head shaking in disbelief and disapproval.

I can sometimes go desperate when I think of the utter stupidity of the masses to let itself be brainwashed into spiritless consumers and producers to serve a system that is conceived to make the rich even richer, and in consequence will make billions go miserable, hungry and dead. But that doesn't mean I want to put everyone into concentration camps or blow them up (and neither does Frannie Armstrong). And I try very hard to not let this frustration cloud my thinking about pragmatic solutions.

Don't make the misanthropy bigger than it is, Lazar. And don't give Lazar an opportunity to fall into that paranoid trap, Frannie Armstrong.

BTW, this wasn't aimed at skeptics in particular. Otherwise they would have framed the people who raised their hands differently, by letting them say dumb things 'it's the sun!' or 'the IPCC is a fraud!' It was aimed at the people who will not take action. These are not rabid denialists. These are people who don't want to change habits.

Neven said...

You're claiming it's inconceivable that anyone involved in the 10:10 video could want to inflict physical violence on their opponents. Therefore Franny could make hundreds of such jokes and it still would be alright? No qualms? Really?

I agree with you up to this point, but I think you're projecting too much on your opponent here. I'm quite sure that nobody involved in this film would want to inflict physical violence on their opponents.

As Neven says, there is a misanthropic section of the environmental movement, it is small, but it is real, and if we end up excusing it and pretending it doesn't exist... we end up in a dark place.

Sure, but we don't have to equate misanthropy to wishing mass murder or political liquidations. These are not the same things. Genocide and political liquidations have to do with hatred of certain groups, not of mankind as a whole or the species of Homo not so Sapiens.

I think misanthropy is a quite logical response. Just looking at what human beings, individually and as groups, are doing and have done to each other, to animals, and to their habitat, is heartrending. If a peaceful alien species would come and see what is coming out of the tremendous possibilities we as conscious beings possess, I think their would be a lot of head shaking in disbelief and disapproval.

I can sometimes go desperate when I think of the utter stupidity of the masses to let itself be brainwashed into spiritless consumers and producers to serve a system that is conceived to make the rich even richer, and in consequence will make billions go miserable, hungry and dead. But that doesn't mean I want to put everyone into concentration camps or blow them up (and neither does Frannie Armstrong). And I try very hard to not let this frustration cloud my thinking about pragmatic solutions.

Don't make the misanthropy bigger than it is, Lazar. And don't give Lazar an opportunity to fall into that paranoid trap, Frannie Armstrong.

Neven said...

BTW, this wasn't aimed at skeptics in particular. Otherwise they would have framed the people who raised their hands differently, by letting them say dumb things like 'it's the sun!' or 'the IPCC is a fraud!' It was aimed at the people who will not take action. These are not rabid denialists. These are people who don't want to change habits.

The blog world of alarmists and denialists is much smaller than we think.

Neven said...

Sorry, for the double post. Blogger reported that the first comment was too big, so I split it into two parts.

Lazar said...

Neven,

Interesting.

"we don't have to equate misanthropy"

Agreed that it isn't *necessarily* a motivation toward violence, real or wished.

'fraid I still believe a frustrated emotional fantasy of hurting and intimidating the 'bad guys' is the most likely explanation, esp. given the repeat 'jokes' by Franny, and the potential for rationalization of those urges by the ends justifying the means... "threatening everybody's existence"... "300,000"

Lazar said...

Neven,

Can you expand a bit more?

You seem to claim...

... the violence in the video and jokes by Franny reveal misanthropy (Freudian slip)

... but the misanthropy doesn't necessarily relate to violent urges

... then how does the violence indicate misanthropy?

...you describe Franny as a fanatic... what does that mean?

Lazar said...

Neven,

I don't believe Franny is motivated to *act* on those fantasies... or to sympathize with such actions were they committed by others... does that help?

Lazar said...

Neven,

"brainwashed into spiritless consumers and producers"

That work and wealth ethic evolved from a struggle for existence, the 99% of human history where life was nasty, brutish, short. Now we struggle to live with plenty, there is very little real work to do, and people have more money than they can usefully spend. And still we want to work more and earn more! It will take a long time to culturally adjust... and will require adjustments to the system... how to distribute wealth produced by robots and the knowledge of our ancestors... without ending up in a socialist paradise.

Heraclitus said...

On whether the film is funny I agree to disagree. Whether it will achieve any positive purpose, I'm still not fully sure that it won't.

You seem to be big on the mind reading and I think you draw the wrong conclusions. We need to project our personal observations of our own humanity onto our phenomenological observations of the other if we are to avoid ultimately nihilistic solipsism. To simply conclude we can never know another's meaning and intent is defeatist.

Why should we try to dispell this impression about the intentions of the 'No Pressure' film? Because the idea is false and if something good is to come from the film then we need to ensure that people truly understand the idea is false.

Heraclitus said...

Sorry - meant "you seem to be big on the mind reading thing". I've seen you use this argument elsewhere, I think.

Lazar said...

Heraclitus,

"we can never know another's meaning and intent is defeatist"

... at best we can make educated guesses from their words and actions... whether that is true or not is tangential to whether it is defeatist or not... unfortunately it is true... i do not believe it is defeatist tho... our guesses often appear close enough...

"Why should we try to dispell this impression about the intentions of the 'No Pressure' film? Because the idea is false"

... there again we'll have to agree to disgree...

"you seem to be big on the mind reading thing"

... such beliefs are common and often derail discussions...

Neven said...

I don't believe Franny is motivated to *act* on those fantasies... or to sympathize with such actions were they committed by others... does that help?

It will take a long time to culturally adjust... and will require adjustments to the system... how to distribute wealth produced by robots and the knowledge of our ancestors... without ending up in a socialist paradise.

It's good to see we agree on certain things.

Lazar said...

Indeed. :-)

Heraclitus said...

At best we can draw conclusions based on our assumption of common humanity strong enough to act as though with perfect certainty.

Lazar said...

Heraclitus,

"at best" with 'act as though we're almost certain' I can go with.

But I don't think this case warrants an "at best" interpretation... I'm sticking with my original guess, but see the qualifiers in response to Neven. YMMV. Sorry.