Pathological altruism

by Judith Curry

Pathological altruism can be conceived as behavior in which attempts to promote the welfare of another, or others, results instead in harm that an external observer would conclude was reasonably foreseeable.

Concepts and implications of altruism bias  and pathological altruism

Barbara Oakley

The profound benefits of altruisminmodern society are self-evident. However, the potential hurtful aspects of altruism have gone largely unrecognized in scientific inquiry. This is despite the fact that virtually all forms of altruism are associated with tradeoffs—some of enormous importance and sensitivity—and notwithstanding that examples of pathologies of altruism abound. Presented here are the mechanistic bases and potential ramifications of pathological altruism, that is, altruism in which attempts to promote the welfare of others instead result in unanticipated harm. A basic conceptual approach toward the quantification of altruism bias is presented. Guardian systems and their over arching importance in the evolution of cooperation are also discussed. Concepts of pathological altruism, altruism bias, and guardian systems may help open many new, potentially useful lines of inquiry and provide a framework to begin moving toward a more mature, scientifically informed understanding of altruism and cooperative behavior.

Published 2013 in PNAS [link]

Excerpts:

Pathological altruism can be conceived as behavior in which attempts to promote the welfare of another, or others, results instead in harm that an external observer would conclude was reasonably foreseeable. More precisely, this paper defines pathological altruism as an observable behavior or personal tendency in which the explicit or implicit subjective motivation is intentionally to promote the welfare of another, but instead of overall beneficial outcomes the altruism instead has unreasonable (from the relative perspective of an outside observer) negative consequences to the other or even to the self. This definition does not suggest that there are absolutes but instead suggests that, within a particular context, pathological altruism is the situation in which intended outcomes and actual outcomes (within the framework of how the relative values of “negative” and “positive” are conceptualized), do not mesh.

A working definition of a pathological altruist then might be a person who sincerely engages in what he or she intends to be altruistic acts but who (in a fashion that can be reasonably anticipated) harms the very person or group he or she is trying to help; or a person who, in the course of helping one person or group, inflicts reasonably foreseeable harm to others beyond the person or group being helped; or a person who in reasonably anticipatory way becomes a victim of his or her own altruistic actions. The attempted altruism, in other words, results in objectively foreseeable and unreasonable harm to the self, to the target of the altruism, or to others beyond the target.

There are broader implications related to these issues, particularly regarding the policy aspects of the scientific enterprise. Good government is a foundation of large-scale societies; government programs are designed to minimize a variety of social problems. Although virtually every program has its critics, well designed programs can be effective in bettering people’s lives with few negative tradeoffs. From a scientifically-based perspective, however, some programs are deeply problematic, often as a result of superficial notions on the part of program designers or implementers about what is genuinely beneficial for others, coupled with a lack of accountability for ensuing programmatic failures. In these pathologically altruistic enterprises, confirmation bias, discounting, motivated reasoning, and egocentric certitude that our approach is the best—in short, the usual biases that underlie pathologies of altruism—appear to play important roles.

Well-meaning but unscientific approaches toward altruistic helping can have the unwitting effect of ensuring that the benefits of science and the scientific method are kept away from those most in need of help. In the final analysis, it is clear that when altruistic efforts in science are presented as being beyond reproach, it becomes all too easy to silence rational criticism. Few wish to run the gauntlet of criticizing poorly conducted, highly subjective “science” which is purported to help, or indeed, of daring to question the basis of problematic scientific paradigms that arise in part from good intentions. 

To object to a scientific theory is one thing, but to object to a scientific theory that connects however tenuously to feelings of morality is quite another. Once morality plays a role, even at the most subliminal level, the formidable cognitive biases of altruism and its pathologies can swing into play. Perhaps for that reason different academic disciplines and specific topics within those disciplines show differing requirements for rigor. In disciplines related to helping people (which can encompass a surprisingly broad swathe of even hard-science topics), scientists’ differing treatment of research findings that elicit altruism bias can skew the findings of seemingly objective science. As Robert Trivers has noted: “It seems manifest that the greater the social content of a discipline, especially human, the greater will be the biases due to self-deception and the greater the retardation of the field compared with less social disciplines”.

One of the most valuable characteristics of science is that, despite the obvious imperfection of biases in ostensibly objective scientists, it provides a potential mechanism for overcoming those biases. At the same time, altruism bias may be one of the most pernicious, hard-to-eradicate biases in science, because it involves even-handed examination of what groups of seemingly objective rational scientists subliminally have come to regard as sacred. 

Potential Steps to Address Altruism Bias in Academic Disciplines and the Scientific Enterprise. There are active steps that could be taken to prevent the potential for altruism bias within the scientific enterprise. In all-important journal review processes, for example, mixed panels of reviewers (e.g., cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists reviewing social psychological papers) could become standard practice (105). Doctoral programs can place heavier emphasis on the scientific method and careful use of statistics so that graduate students, who are themselves future journal reviewers, can learn to spot problematic submissions more easily and perhaps be less likely to conduct problematic research themselves. The many aspects of altruism bias and the problems as well as benefits of empathy can be much more broadly discussed and emphasized in textbooks, beginning even in high school and the early years of college. Disciplines heavily involved in social advocacy, whose primary goal involves truly benefitting others, should be among the first to take interest in incorporating these concepts and approaches into research and training programs, editorial efforts, and textbooks.

JC comments:  Pathological altruism is an interesting concept (with a catchy name).   To date, the arguments for climate mitigation/adaptation policies have been mostly economic, although there are very substantial uncertainties in such assessments.  There have also been ‘ethical’ arguments based upon concerns over future generations and the populations that are currently the most vulnerable (e.g. Bangladeshi); it is such arguments for climate action that could be characterized as altruistic.

As defined here, I certainly see evidence of pathological altruism in climate policy being espoused by politicians, advocacy groups and even climate scientists.  I am particularly concerned by altruism bias in climate science and among some climate scientists, and attempts being made to silence rational criticism; any scientist who uses the word ‘denier’ is likely to suffer from altruism bias .

I look forward to your comments in fleshing out this concept in context of climate science and policy.

461 responses to “Pathological altruism

  1. Don’t know the author’s politics, but Bastiat (“broken window fallacy”) is a basic presentation of seen and unseen harm. It applies to pretty much the entire liberal conception of what a state should do.

    • Those were my exact thoughts. Along with the question of whether anyone spends a second evaluating the efficacy of all these supposedly helpful programs.

    • Homeless shelters.

      Encourages homelessness. Destroys real estate values. Increases neighborhood crime. Unpleasant visuals.

    • Another example of pathological altruism is TOYS for TOTS, the program which distributes toys to kids whose parents are too poor to buy them gifts for Christmas. This is a gateway program for welfare.

    • Yes, no doubt. When I was a kid my Dad would buy a whole bunch of toys and sell them in the front of a his veterinary clinic. Each day I watched in abject misery as parents bought my favorite toys for their kids. But the worst, on Christmas Eve he and the sheriff loaded the toys that were left into a truck, and they drove around town and gave them to poor kids so that they could have what was obviously an undeserved Christmas. And worst of all, I had to help carry my toys into these poor people’s houses. My toys! They were mine. And he accomplished is I hate him and he locked those kids into a life of welfare dependency and poverty.

    • JCH’s dad sounds like Warren Buffet, the billionaire who doesn’t want to leave his kids much because he thinks if he does they may choose to not work.

    • David Springer

      re Warren Buffet’s kids

      No joke. My mom must’ve told me a hundred times about Buffet’s kids. Maybe not a hundred times but a lot.

  2. Yes, one can see it very clearly in some of the ‘skeptics’ who think they are saving the world from ‘one-world govt’, ‘the geen menace’,or “economic destruction’, etc.

    • Actually, skeptics concerned about one world gov’t etc are interested in saving THEMSELVES, not in saving the world from same.

    • Or perhaps, Professor Curry, some skeptics and believers do not realize all of Earth’s inhabitants are in the same boat. Policies based on flawed science threaten everyone’s survival.

    • “Actually, skeptics concerned about one world gov’t etc are interested in saving THEMSELVES, not in saving the world from same.”
      Why should that be any more true for them than for anyone else? To hear you talk one would think that nothing bad ever happened out of bad (or selfish or thoughtless) motives.
      Those who spend hours on this blog, as some clearly must based on how much they write — I am sure some of them at least are doing so to some detriment of their careers, social lives, etc. – using some energy they could have put into entrepreneurial activities.
      Here’s a question for you. Could it be that the pleasure-seeking successful stock investor Keynes said the things he did because he thought he had a truth that would be recognized and make him well off and famous? While the long time civil servants Hayek and Von Mises were more driven by the idea that they were saving the world with the gospel of “greed is good” and altruism dangerous?
      Marx scoffed at altruism and “utopianism” and believed he had invented a revolutionary system based on self-interest of classes.
      Of course there is pathological altruism, and Christians have been among the greatest practitioners, as have some sorts of liberals, socialists, and whatnot. But maybe it is another sad and funny aspect of human nature rather than a new cudgel with which to beat up (on paper at least) those whom you think are so very, very wrong.

    • Actually, skeptics concerned about one world gov’t etc are interested in saving THEMSELVES, not in saving the world from same.

      What a fascinating example of selective reasoning.

      “Realists” say that they are concerned about others, but Judith knows better: In reality that is pathological altruism.

      “Skeptics” say that they are concerned about others, but Judith knows better: In reality, they are concerned about themselves.

      And she knows all of this with such certainty, she doesn’t need to provide any evidence for her conclusions.

      Judith – I just ran into Uncertain T. Monster, and he told me to tell you to expect an email from him.

    • I definitely fear the Geen. They are an evil menace and have no mercy on the innocent bown.
      ***
      Your comment disappoints me Dr. Curry. I’m a skeptic, and I’m concerned about one world government, and I’m interested in saving myself from it AND the rest of the world too. Is that allowed? Does it have to be one or the other?

      Some might say that I’m suffering from pathological altruism myself, but I deny it. Guess that makes me a denialist too. Gosh I’ve got so many problems…paging Dr. Lewandowsky…

    • Michael, hang on a minute. CAGW arguments are quite explicitly framed in terms of saving future generations from the bad consequences of our actions, and we are selfish and evil if we do nothing about it.

      The skeptic arguments are just not, as a matter of plain fact, usually presented in that way.

    • Gareth,

      On this very thread, we have Willis wringing his hands for the poor of the future;

      “The foreseeable outcome of higher energy prices is increased pain and suffering for the poor today … in the name of possibly perhaps helping the poor in 50 years.
      Criminal.”

      Golly gosh, that soundslike some fine altruistic sentiemnt there.

      But what if Willis’s altruism leads to unintended harms? – he opposes carbon rediction polices on the basis fo concerns for future geneartions, but AGW tuns out to be real and those poor poor suffer far greater harms from sea-level rise, extreme weather,or food price rises???

      Do we have pathologically altrusitic pathological altruism??

      Oh noes!

    • Judith, josh has accused you of selective reasoning… again. Don’t you ever get tired of that crap?

    • Don,

      Maybe it’s true?

    • curryja | December 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
      “Actually, skeptics concerned about one world gov’t etc are interested in saving THEMSELVES, not in saving the world from same.”

      How very ignorant. By “saving the world from one world government” (if this were possible) I would ensure that there is a future in which a person persecuted by his government could have the possibility to go somewhere else.
      If ONE government rules the world, the only place you can go is the afterlife.
      One world government promoters assume that the only government there will be will be benign, and there will never arise the need for a place one can escape to from the reach of the government.
      They either do not know history, or they are malevolent.

    • Dirk is a poe?

    • curryja wrote, “Actually, skeptics concerned about one world gov’t etc are interested in saving THEMSELVES, not in saving the world from same.”

      Do you have a reference for this?

      From Cato, with examples …
      Altruism? Bah, Humbug
      When we’re free to pursue what’s best for us individuals, we inevitably create the kind of order and produce the wealth that is best for us as a society.
      http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/altruism-bah-humbug

      Enabler: one that enables another to achieve an end; especially : one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior (as substance abuse) by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior.
      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enabler

    • Not sure I agree Judith that they are only interested in saving themselves. Concern for others is at the heart of the libertarian ideal which is essentially based on the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (I say this being essentially an atheist myself).

      The difference IMO is precisely this idea of Bastiat’s. Don’t just use your emotions and think at the surface level as Joshua and Michael do. Look at all sides without bias (to the extent possible) and look at possible good and bad effects of a policy. Don’t just look at the effect of a minimum wage on a worker but look at the effect on prices and employment. Ask whether it makes sense to have the same minimum wage when there are thousands of different costs of living around the country. Apply some common sense, not just gut reactions. When it comes to social policies, look at previous results with a skeptical eye and look to see if we have 237 other programs already designed for the same purpose that don’t work very well.

      Of course, I also think that the US military and security apparatuses should be cut by 2/3 because I look at all sides for these issues as well.

      If govt. spending and regulations have grown exponentially over the last 80 years and so has the gap between the richest and the poorest, ask yourself whether there is a correlation. Again look at all sides.

      If you are using simplistic, moralistic arguments like: “it’s greed”, then others will know that you are operating at the surface level only without really trying to understand much of anything at all.

    • David L. Hagen

      Michael
      Re: “‘skeptics’ who think they are saving the world from ‘one-world govt’”

      The critical issue is restraining us from falling into centrally controlled government and tyranny, whatever the size. Centralized control and dictatorship have been overwhelmingly harmful to the rest of the populace, from Rome to North Korea. For the 20th century, The Black Book of Communism documents at least 94 million deaths by communist governments.

      Note particularly the consequence of well meaning centralized direction of the economy in Mao’s Great Leap Forward, trying to rapidly industrialize to become like the USSR. Consequence? China’s Great Famine of 1959-1961. 30 million starved to death. Another 30 million fewer births. 60 million died/unborn because one man’s foolishness was imposed by force on the whole country.

      How much greater the danger of well meaning myopic extreme environmentalists forcing us to “save” earth by mitigating CO2.
      Consequences? 3 billion people live on less than $2.50/day.
      Literally hundreds of millions to a billion or more people will die or not be born from Obama/World Banks’s preventing new coal fired power plants from being built, and from cutting off “oil sands” and other available liquid fuels, before abundant sustainable replacement fuels and electricity are provided.

      “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

    • Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
      ==========

    • mikey, mikey

      Can you help joshie back up his trivial and tedious accusations by citing some substantive evidence that Judith habitually/deliberately, despite joshie’s constant admonishments, engages in selective reasoning? Give your anonymous sniper pal some anonymous help.

    • Forgive them, for they know not the charge nor the wind drift.
      ===========

    • Don,

      I think you’ll see it in Judith’s weak defence of the one-world govt ‘skeptics’.

    • Yeah, right, fergit sustaining diversity. Get all those eggs in one basket, why be so inefficient?
      ==========

    • interesting, I would take that comment to imply that Judith is concerned about one world government.

      Is this blog becoming a bit crazy version libertarian?

    • Dr. Curry – can you provide an example of how that is even possible? In a binary result everyone is affected by what ever the outcome is. I see no viable way one can “save themselves”, what ever that means in this context, without “saving” everyone. One-world government has no shades of gray – it is or it is not. Working to either create or prevent it is automatically altruistic because of the binary nature of the outcome.

  3. There is a reasonable model (game theory) with an application to the “emissions game” with ESS outcomes and the coefficients of Egoism and Altruism. eg

    If there are no doubts that we must reduce the total emission of carbon dioxide then the problem of how much different countries should be allowed to contribute to this amount remains a serious one. We suggest this problem to be considered as a non-antagonistic game (in Germeier’s sense). A game of this kind is called an “emission” game. Suppose that there are n independent actors (countries or regions), each of them releasing a certain amount of CO per year (in carbon units)into the atmosphere, and that the emission would be reduced by each actor. Each actor has his own aim: to minimise the loss in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) caused by the reduction of emissions. On the other hand, taking into account that it is impossible to estimate more or less precisely the impact of the climate change on GDP for each country today, a common strategy will be to reduce the climate change. Since one of the main leading factors in global warming is the greenhouse effect, then the common aim will be to reduce the sum of emissions. This is a typical conflict situation. How to resolve it? We can weigh the “egoistic” and “altruistic” criteria for each actor introducing so-called “coefficients of egoism”. This coefficient is very large, if the actor uses a very egoistic strategy, and conversely, if the actor is a “super-altruist”, then the corresponding coefficient is very small. Using these coefficients we get the general solution of the game in a form of some Pareto’s equilibrium. The solution is stable and efficient.

    http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~bloh/publications/svirezhev99a/welcome.html

  4. Very similar to purported cure being worse than disease. Well-meaning person wants everyone to give up fossil fuel to save planet from heating. Politicians agree and cut off fossils. 12 months later 2 billion dead and not a tree left on the planet.

  5. Another way of stating it is “noble-cause bias.”

  6. I just love this subject to death.

  7. “Pathological” does seem somewhat on the, well, “extreme” side of explication. But, that aside, in conjunction with “altruism”, as you said, it does provide an interesting concept.

    As I was reading the excerpts. what kept running through my mind was the “precautionary principle” which gives no consideration to the unintended negative and harmful consequences – which we are now seeing in spades.

    Many such consequences were – as the author defined – “foreseeable to outside observers”, if not bloomin’ obvious! Yet the climate/sustainability “altruists” seem to be “pathologically” oblivious to their “causal” biases; and to any negative consequences of their activist/advocacy driven exhortations – whether to themselves (viz the recent “pairing” of Mann & Lewandowsky), or to those on whose behalf they purport to advocate and dedicate their “scientific” endeavours.

    • The PP should be applied to its own ‘remedies’. That would quickly reveal the imminent peril of following the PP in the case of AGW. Every precaution should be taken against applying the PP to emissions.

    • Meh, “pathological altruism” is just a fancy name for people who think that they are right, and want to impose their views on everybody else.

      Families are examples that many people have experienced. Under cover of some higher motive (family unity, the best interests of X, family obligations, etc) somebody imposes their will – and opinion – on others.

      Nothing new here, apart from a trendy new name. What next, the discovery of steam power? But, what will they call it?

    • Johanna, it’s the scale and being backed by laws (that are far easier to enact than remove) that’s new this time.

    • I’ve found that people who can’t get others to voluntarily go along with their ideas on how we should live and behave tend to migrate toward having government dictate their desired behavior.

  8. Pathological altruism ‘n noble cause’ corruption’
    go tergether like a horse ‘n carriage, (pre industrialisat’n)
    whereas those who jest selfishly follow their own interests,
    (post industrialisat’n,) the invisible hand of markets with
    its unintended beneficent consequences, broke the bind
    of forty thousand years of daily grind ( 24/7) huntin’ ‘n
    scratchin’ fer enough food … jest ter stay alive.

  9. Willis Eschenbach

    The foreseeable outcome of higher energy prices is increased pain and suffering for the poor today … in the name of possibly perhaps helping the poor in 50 years.

    Criminal.

    w.

    • w – Agree.

    • No Willis, death for the poor, especially the old.
      It is like the deadly ‘sleeping policemen’ traffic calming measure; it slows down emergency response vehicles and hurts the people in ambulances.

    • Noble cause suffering …
      OK because its ‘noble.’.

    • Well, we could subsidize energy for the people below the poverty line and ask the wealthy to put an extra tenner in the pot.

      Line me up and shoot me for being a progressive.

      For 1% of GDP we could have CO2 at 350 ppm by the end of the century.

    • “Well, we could subsidize energy for the people below the poverty line and ask the wealthy to put an extra tenner in the pot.”

      Continue putting a tenner in pot.
      Get all friends to put a tenner in the pot.
      Do it every day.

      “Line me up and shoot me for being a progressive.”
      If you daily putting tenner in pots, why should anyone shoot you?

      “For 1% of GDP we could have CO2 at 350 ppm by the end of the century.”

      Nope, but you and friends putting a tenner in the pot by end of century you may put a million or a billion in a pot.
      But if the pot is the government, all you will find in there is IOU.
      They spend 10 times more money anyone can put in a pot.
      And no one gets subsidize, but their rich friends.
      Who can manage to spend 1/2 billion dollars on a web site that doesn’t work.

    • bob, that would be altruism, and altruism is a dirty word now, apparently.

    • Willis,

      One wonders on the cause of past increases in energy prices and the quality of the hand-wringing concern for the poor, by those now so exercised by future hypotheticials.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Michael | December 10, 2013 at 12:59 am |

      Willis,

      One wonders on the cause of past increases in energy prices and the quality of the hand-wringing concern for the poor, by those now so exercised by future hypotheticials.

      Michael, it seems like you have a point in there somewhere, but I can’t discern it. What do you think is the “cause of past increases in energy prices”? Is there only one cause? What do you wonder about the “quality of the hand-wringing”? Which people are you claiming are “exercised by future hypotheticials [sic]”

      In short, you need to specify some names and examples and quotations, so that we can make sense of your currently vague objections to … something or other.

      My best to you,

      w.

    • Willis,

      Apologies for my vagueness in resposne to your shining clarity of ‘the poor in 50 years” (any idea who they are??) and their “pain and suffering” (arthritis?, headaches??).

      Kind Regards.

    • John DeFayette

      Willis, I think the new term, taken from the text, is “…reasonably foreseeable….” Also, you perhaps another qualifier is in order: “…possibly perhaps just maybe with a prayer…”

    • Willis said:

      “The foreseeable outcome of higher energy prices is increased pain and suffering for the poor today … in the name of possibly perhaps helping the poor in 50 years.

      Criminal.”
      ___________

      The foreseeable outcome for me is more money. Is it criminal for me to have more money just because I already have more than I need?

    • bob droege wrote, “For 1% of GDP we could have CO2 at 350 ppm by the end of the century.”

      Whose GDP? US? Developed Countries? World? One years’ GDP or from now to “the end of the century?” What’s that in dollars. How will that money be spent? And most important, is there anything better that we could spend that money on — and how would we know in advance?

    • Speed,
      The whole worlds GDP til CO2 is 350 ppm.

      Might make the air breathable in China. Stop the ice caps from melting. And keep the cows from leaving Texas, and Wisconsin. Places where the wet-bulb temperature could exceed mammals ability to remain alive.

      If you think there is something better to spend the money on, I’m all ears.

    • bob droege

      For 1% of GDP we could have CO2 at 350 ppm by the end of the century.

      How?

      Please be specific with actionable proposals that will really reduce CO2 emissions to the point that atmospheric CO2 diminishes from ~400 ppmv today to 350 ppmv by 2100, if you can.

      I believe that you can’t do so, bob, and that statement was just a bit of hollow posturing.

      But show me I’m wrong, bob.

      Max

    • Max,
      How about between 2000 and 3000 APWRs or ABWRs for that price.
      Could eliminate all coal fired plants.

      My math is just as good as yours.

    • bob droege

      Your “math” may be as good as mine, but if you shut down ALL coal-fired power plants in the world, what are you going to install to replace them?

      How much capital investment is this going to require?

      Who is going to pay this capital investment?

      Hansen (plus some others) had such a proposal, namely to shut down all existing coal-fired plants in the USA (1.994 billion kWh/year) by 2030, replacing them (supposedly) with nuclear plants.
      http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2010/2010_Kharecha_etal.pdf

      Hansen et al. do not give us a cost/benefit analysis for their proposal.

      What would the implementation of this proposal cost?

      The paper tells us that 1,994 billion kWh/year were generated from coal in 2009.

      The total, all-in capital cost investment to replace 1,994 billion kWh/year capacity with the least expensive alternate (current nuclear fission technology) is between $4,000 and $8,000 per installed kW (say $6,000 on average). [Note: If we replace it with wind or solar, it will cost significantly more, due in part to the low on-line factor and the need for standby generation capacity when there is no wind or sun.]

      1,994 billion kWh/year at a 90% on-line factor represents an installed capacity of:

      1994 / 8760 * 0.9 = 0.251 billion kWh

      This equals an investment cost of 0.251 billion * 6,000 = $1.5 trillion

      One could argue that this is “not too much”, if it helps us “save the planet”.

      But what effect would this step actually have on global warming?

      The paper tells us that the average CO2 emission is 1,000 tons CO2 per GWh generated.

      So by 2030 Hansen’s plan would reduce CO2 emissions by roughly 2 GtCO2 per year.

      Roughly half of this “stays” in the atmosphere (with the rest disappearing into the ocean or the biosphere) so the annual reduction after 2030 will be around 1 GtCO2/year and over the period from today to year 2100 the cumulative reduction would be 80.5 GtCO2.

      The mass of the atmosphere is 5,140,000 Gt.

      So the net reduction in atmospheric CO2 by 2100 would be around 16 ppm(mass) or 10 ppmv.

      If we assume (as IPCC does) that by year 2100 the atmospheric CO2 level (without Hansen’s plan) will be around 600 ppmv (“scenario B1”), this means that with Hansen’s plan it will be 590 ppmv (NOT anywhere even close to your goal of 350 ppmv)

      Today we have 390 ppmv.

      Using IPCC’s model-based 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 3.2C (rather than the much lower CO2/temperature response physically observed since 1850) we have:

      Case 1 – no Hansen plan
      600 ppmv CO2
      ln(600/390) = 0.431
      ln(2) = 0.693
      dT (warming from today to 2100) = 3.2 * 0.431 / 0.693 = 1.99C

      Case 2 – Hansen plan implemented
      590 ppmv CO2
      ln(590/390) = 0.414
      ln(2) = 0.693
      dT (warming from today to 2100) = 3.2 * 0.414 / 0.693 = 1.91C

      So Hansen’s plan will result in a total theoretical reduction of global temperature by year 2100 of 0.08C.

      $1.5 trillion investment between today and 2030 for 0.08°C possible reduction of temperature by 2100?

      Rolling this out to the whole world (not likely to ever occur in real life) would involve a total capital investment of around $5 trillion, for a total net reduction in 2100 temperature of around 0.2C

      It is clear that why there was no cost/benefit analysis included.

      This is a hare-brained proposal. Come up with something better, bob.

      Max

    • bob droege

      Further to my earlier comment, a more sensible approach could be to replace all FUTURE coal-fired plants with nuclear. In most parts of the world nuclear generation is essentially cost competitive with coal, especially if the regulatory burden and cost for new installations can be reduced. So this could be seen as a “no regrets” initiative, assuming the political anti-nuke hurdle can be overcome.

      There are probably some places where nuclear power generation does not make sense (directly over a natural gas field for economic reasons or in some unstable nations because of proliferation concerns).

      But if we assume that most new power plants will be nuclear (with a bit of local wind/solar, where this makes sense), we could reduce the cumulative CO2 generation by 2100 by around 1230 GtCO2.

      This would reduce atmospheric CO2 increase by around 80 ppmv, say from 640 ppmv to 560 ppmv (still a long way from your 350 ppmv), and global warming by 2100 by around 0.6C.

      This seems like a reasonable approach to me, but it won’t get us anywhere near your stated goal of 350 ppmv.

      Max

    • Manacker,

      Very well explained and laid out. Thank you.

      I’d take issue with the cost estimate, however. If the nuclear plants are replacement for existing power plants as they reach the end of their economic lives, we should subtract the cost of the plants that would be built if not nuclear. I argue that if we remove the impediments to low cost nuclear the cost of nuclear will come down so it is the least cost option. And I am arguing this applies for the whole world. In that case there would be no cost or negative cost to replace fossil fuel with nuclear for electricity generation.

      But as you say, the effect on global temperatures would be much less than Bob Droege expected.

    • Manacker,

      I see you have already covered my point in a follow-up comment. I posted it before I saw your follow up comment.

    • Max,
      You are using the business as usual approach to estimating the CO2 levels by 2100, while I am advocating building enough nuclear to start reducing emissions. So your estimates of the resulting temperatures are way off.

      1% of US GDP would be 14 ABWRs or 11 APWRS per year for total 150 Billion each year. Which would reach the 2 trillion kWh in about 13 years. When that 13 years could start depends on the lead times for the large forgings required for the reactor vessels. That is using the 8,000 figure you quoted, could come in a bit cheaper.

      I would advocate the US government bid out the construction and then auction the completed plants to the utility companies. Probably get a dime on the dollar, but call it a jobs bill.

      In my opinion, the biggest impediment to the use of nuclear in the US is the start up costs and the construction time.

      Nice job Max, I say 1% global GDP and you show me how to do it cheaper.

    • bob droege

      Yeah.

      But you’ll never get down to 350 ppmv CO2 with your nuke plan.

      The “no regrets” global nuke plan only gets you a reduction from “business as usual” of 60 to 80 ppmv. BaU is around 650 ppmv by 2100, so the “no regrets” global nuke plan could reduce this to 570 to 590 ppmv.

      Add to this the costly Hansen plan of replacing all existing coal plants in the USA with nuclear, and you reduce the 2100 CO2 level by another 10 ppmv to 560 to 580 ppmv.

      Roll Hansen’s hare-brained plan out globally and you could get a reduction of a further 30 ppmv to 530 to 550 ppmv.

      That’s it, bob -when the world is completely nuked up and essentially all coal plants have been shut down.

      [BTW, IPCC has the "no climate initiatives business as usual" case at CO2 level of 1000 ppmv, rather than 650 ppmv (but IPCC is known to exaggerate on such things).]

      There is no physical way to get CO2 by 2100 down to 350 ppmv, bob, so you should stop dreaming and wake up to reality.

      Max

    • bob droege,

      I think Manacker did the analysis correctly. However, I prefer to do these calculations from a word perspective.

      An alternative approach to Manacker’s is to estimate how much nuclear power would be required to replace the electricity projected to be generated by coal to 2050. Use the EIA Table browser to get the projections to 2040 and then extend the projections to 2050 (or 2100 if you want to): http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/

      I’ve calculated for the world as follows:

      Assume:
      • Nuclear replaces all coal electricity generation from 2045. From 2022 to 2045, capacity of small nuclear plants grows from 0 to 2,000 GW; by 2045 nuclear replaces all coal generation world wide.
      • Nuclear replaces 53,000 TWh of coal generation up to 2045, and 1,000,000 TWh from 2045 to 2100.
      • 1 TWh produces 1 Mt CO2 on average
      1,053,000 TWh avoids 1,053 Gt CO2 to 2100.

      Assume half (i.e. 526 Gt) remains in the atmosphere and, as Manacker said: “The mass of the atmosphere is 5,140,000 Gt.”
      So the net reduction in atmospheric CO2 by 2100 would be around 100 ppm(mass) or 66 ppmv.

      To put this in perspective, it is 66% of the reduction Nordhaus estimated an Optimal carbon tax policy would achieve. From Nordhaus (2008) “A Question of Balance”(Table 5-7, p103 http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf), the projected concentration on 2100 with no mitigation policy would be 686 ppmv and with the optimal carbon tax policy would be 586 ppmv, a difference of 100 ppmv. So, replacing coal with nuclear generation world wide, on the schedule as per above and using the EPA projections to 2040 and extended to 2100 and the other assumptions stated above, would account for 66% of the abatement the optimal carbon tax policy is estimated to achieve.

      Point to note: the nuclear substitution for coal could be achieved without any global carbon tax policy if we remove the impediments to low cost nuclear so all countries (starting with the large emitters) can get access to nuclear power cheaper than coal fired generation.

    • Manacker,

      I was writing at the same time as you again, but slower than you:)

      However, it is interesting to see we got similar results using difference sources of information.

    • Max,
      Your math still sucks.

      If we are putting 9 gtons carbon into the atmosphere with 5 gtons going into increased biomass and the ocean and we reduce that to 7 by the US only eliminating the burning of coal.

      What you are saying is if we do that, then emissions go to 7 and the amount the biomass and ocean takes up goes to 6. It doesn’t work that way.
      Dropping the excess from 4 to 2 would halve the increase from about 2 ppm per year to 1 ppm per and put the projected level in 2100 to 500 ppm.

      The amount that goes to biomass and the ocean is determined not by how much we emit, but by the amount that is available.

      Say we traded some of our (US) national debt held by China for nuclear plants and eliminated their coal based carbon emissions as well and reduced global emissions another 2 gtons or so. That might crash the China market for facemasks, but hey, someone has to suffer.

      That would nearly stabilize the CO2 at about what it is now.

      All we have to do is stop burning coal for electricity.

      • All we have to do is stop burning coal for electricity.

        All we have to do is find a way to replace coal burning power plants in a cost neutral method that doesn’t increase the cost of electricity.
        And work the same magic for China, and probably India while we’re at it.

        We can get close to doing this in the US just by eliminating the legal impediments to building Nuclear, get a few dozen of those under construction, and having the DOE fund development of thorium burners, and cut 90% of the wasted Gov money going to wind and solar to help defray the costs.

        We need to do this anyways, we just shouldn’t destroy the worlds economy by taxing carbon.

        When I start seeing protesters for Nuclear, I’ll believe we’re finally seeing the light.

  10. Pathological altruism. In Australia, the ‘aboriginal industry’ under the previous federal government [an army of bureaucrats, in the Top End supposedly to help, but operating top-down, unaccountable, and doing more good for their own careers than for anyone else].

    • “Pathological altruism. In Australia, the ‘aboriginal industry’ under the previous federal government [an army of bureaucrats, in the Top End supposedly to help, but operating top-down, unaccountable, and doing more good for their own careers than for anyone else].”

      Well, if doing so much good, then don’t they deserve a little reward!
      :)

  11. We are a mutualistic, not an altruistic species; we punish cheats and we have a well developed vocabulary to describe people who cannot be trusted.
    If you visit a University you know when you have ventured into administration territory, they have the best computers, offices and have carpets; bit odd when they are supposed to be the ones working on behalf of the academics.

    • We are social animals and very often go out of our way to help others as long as it is not hurting us or our families too severely. If this is done voluntarily, it is a great thing. So I do think that we are an altruistic species to a point. Not every single person obviously and not all to the same extent. With insurance, charity, mutual aid societies, etc I think it could be done without govt, but I could even be ok with a minimal safety net via government as there is no way we can get ride of it politically (because we are altruistic by nature), but possibly we can adjust the size of programs to a more sensible size.

    • To Kim “hoist by his own retard”

      Would that be similar to a musician “hoist by his one ritard” ?

  12. R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

    This notion of pathological altruism does raise an interesting possibililty. Suppose that humans have accidentally prvented the next glacial advance– perhaps forestalled it indefinitely with CO2 over 400, 500, or even 600 ppm. And rather than catastrophe, it would have been one of the most fruitful periods in Earth’s history, but instead, those good intentions of keeping CO2 low are successful, and the next glacial advance is ushered in just as the Milankovitch cycles are leading to colder times. As unlikely as this scenario is, it would be the ultimate bit of ironic pathological altruism.

    • Thomas Midgley, after getting rich from putting tetraethyllead in gasoline, decided to do something about the domestic refrigerator. At the time the refrigerant was normally ammonia or chloromethane or propane or sulfur dioxide. Leaks of refrigerant were killing and injuring thousands of people every year. So he invented CFC’s, which were safe, inert and couldn’t do any damage.

      The way Thomas Midgley died suggests that if a God exists, then God has a sick sense of humour and doesn’t want people screwing with his ozone.

    • R. Gates,

      I’m, not sure that i’s ‘reasonable foreseeable’.

    • David Springer

      Doc,

      Huh? Midgley died of strangulation.

    • David, I suggest you find an image of Midgley’s getting-into-and-out-of-bed machine, which killed him

    • Kudoes to RGates for his getting in and out of ironies machine.
      ===========

    • David Springer

      You know it would be nice if the guy who wants to make a point provides the linkage to support it. I know as much as he’d contracted polio later in life, invented some contraption out of ropes and pullies to assist in getting moved around, then he got tangled up in it and suffocated.

      Now for the life of me I couldn’t find the irony in that way of dying being a punishment from God for destroying ozone with his CFC invention. I even thought about does lead poisoning cause or resemble polio and drew a blank there too.

      Now you want me to google a picture? Seriously? I’ll tell you what, Doc, you’ll never be a comedian making people spend so much effort trying to get your jokes.

      So here:

      http://gajitz.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/thomas-midgley.jpg

      I still don’t get it.

    • For ’tis the sport to have the engineer. Hoist with his own petard.
      or
      “For tis the sport to haue the enginer / Hoist with his owne petar”

      Hamlet (III.iv.207) by Shakespeare:

    • I’ve long loved ‘Hoist with his own retard’.
      ===========

    • R. Gates

      Your scenario of “the ultimate bit of ironic pathological altruism” sounds far-fetched at first, but who knows?

      But this would not be a case of “pathological altruism” (as defined by Oakley) but just a case of “(selfishly) doing what turned out to be the right thing for the wrong reason”.

      In contrast, implementing a painful program of drastic CO2 reduction in order to “save the planet” from an imaginary threat for our grandchildren and posterity could be a case of “(altruistically) doing what turned out to be the wrong thing for the right reason”.

      Max

  13. Let us do it the other way; I maintain that the majority of people who claim the mantel of defenders of humanity, by opposing the burning of fossil fuels, the ‘warmistas’, are less likely to have displayed metrics of purely altruistic behavior, than have the ‘lukewarmers’ and ‘deniers’.
    So identify yourself as ‘D’, ‘L’ and ‘W’, and indicate whether or not you have ever learned to perform the Heimlich maneuver and CPR.

    L; HM and CPR (saved two lives, daughter and father).

    • David Springer

      Provisionally a lukewarmer. HM and CPR but never used either. Not a defender of humanity in general but 4 years in the USMC (voluntary) officially makes me a defender of the nearly 1 billion people who live in NATO member countries.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Member_states_of_NATO

    • My wife and three children all trained in first aid. One evening, Helen cooked pizza with a mass of runny mozzarella, which went the wrong way and blocked my airways. As I was choking, perhaps facing death, my family were discussing whether or not one of them should use the Heimlich manoeuvre. I found it quite surreal, my face was totally red but fortunately before I collapsed and turned blue, and before any assistance was applied, I managed to dislodge the offending cheese.

      You can see why I advocate self-reliance.

      I don’t fit into Doc’s D, L, W framework, but I am altruistic. And I know that that does not involve forcing my ideas and framework onto others. Following up the previous para, altruism which helps others to be self-reliant is perhaps particularly worthy. :-)

    • I’m a liberal, so I would call 911 but men of action and free from inner debate always beat me to it.

    • Given that many people have to do first aid training for work and other reasons, the link bewtween that and altruism seeems pretty tenuous.

      And the HM?? – Hmmmm, a bit dubious too.

      What’s up Doc?

    • are less likely to have displayed metrics of purely altruistic behavior, than have the ‘lukewarmers’ and ‘deniers’. So identify yourself as ‘D’, ‘L’ and ‘W’, and indicate whether or not you have ever learned to perform the Heimlich maneuver and CPR.

      Consider the man who learned CPR while in prison, serving time for murder and rape after years of less violent crime.

      Why would someone trained in scientific analysis portray himself as a “skeptic” and yet proffer such nonsense?

      Just more evidence that the climate wars are really mostly about identity politics.

    • W, have learned CPR and the HM.

      Found an unconscious body while cross country skiing, got to A.

    • L, CPR and currently at 8%, working towards 10%, in donation of time / income per year to helping others.

    • <L CPR, HM never used. reminds me I have to get re-certified this year.

    • BTW, For a drowning victim you should first use the HM then perform CPR if required. Do it in reverse the victim is likely a goner especially in salt water, but since the Heimlich Maneuver is not part of red cross first aid training folks don’t learn that.

      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/21/heimlich-red-cross-fight/1566492/

      Don’t you just love it when humanitarians fight it out?

    • In goes the good air, out goes the bad air.
      =============

    • DocMartyn, Here is another good one. I have a regular that was an EMT and now owns a big emergency medical supply company. He gave me and automatic defibrillator, one that any kid can use, but said I had to get certified before I could get the battery. Okay. I check out the cert program. It is going to take two days, I have to drive to Orlando, then the battery, cert and travel is going to cost me about $3000. Count on a few cracked ribs if you have an attack on my boat :(

    • “BTW, For a drowning victim you should first use the HM then perform CPR if required” – capt

      Hope I never drown on your boat.

    • Micheal, “The question of whether to attempt in water resuscitation or not is based on judgement. It can be assumed that respiratory arrest preceded cardiac arrest in the drowning victim, thus clearing the airway may be all that is needed to start spontaneous respirations. ” Heimlich is easiest in water method of clearing the air wave.

      http://www.rescuediver.org/rescue-tech/watercpr.htm

      Most of my CPR.first aid instruction was through PADI. But feel free to drown on any boat you like :)

    • You might enjoy this podcast, Cap’n:

      > In the 1970s, choking became national news: thousands were choking to death, leading to more accidental deaths than guns. Nobody knew what to do. Until a man named Henry Heimlich came along with a big idea. Since then, thousands and thousands — maybe even millions — have been rescued by the Heimlich maneuver. Yet the story of the man who invented it may not have such a happy ending.

      http://www.radiolab.org/story/273532-heimlich/

    • Capn,

      hope you don’t mind if I request you stay well away from my air waves.

    • Willard, the father son dust up is one reason I threw that “settled” science” out there.

      http://www.usforacle.com/news/usf-professor-fights-heimlich-maneuver-s-use-in-drowning-1.2745287#.Uqh41bQsprw

      The son, Peter, in this interview says water doesn’t block the air way and list an example of where the Heimlich caused vomiting which was aspirated into the lungs causing brain damage and then death years later. However, water, especially salt water tends to cause laryngospasm which blocks the air way. Rescue breaths then tend to inflate the stomach more than the lungs which can cause vomiting. Because of all this settled science you get, “The question of whether to attempt in water resuscitation or not is based on judgement. It can be assumed that respiratory arrest preceded cardiac arrest in the drowning victim, thus clearing the airway may be all that is needed to start spontaneous respirations. ”

      It’s one of those damn if you do, damned if you don’t things. If it takes 3 minutes to get the victim in the boat or on shore before starting CPR, the moment is likely lost.

      Now since Micheal is a certified genius, he knows exactly what to do and how to do it. Me I just listen to my EMT buddies and instructors and they have had stimulating conversations on the subject from time to time.

    • Capn,

      Great to see blog denizens giving medical advice.

      WARNING – any one who has read Capn’s advice on CPR drowning and HM should disregard it.

      There is no evidence supporting the HM as a part of drowning resus – ZILCH (and its value in chocking is also highly dubious)
      Normal CPR for all drowning victims.

      The HM is associated with the potential for severe internal injuries,even if done correctly (liver laceration,spleen rupture, rupture of the diaphragm etc). Deaths have been caused by the HM, even when done ‘correctly’.

      Though absolutely splendid irony to see Capn, with the best of intentions, offering to help others in a way with very foreseeable harms as the outcome.

    • Micheal, “Though absolutely splendid irony to see Capn, with the best of intentions, offering to help others in a way with very foreseeable harms as the outcome.”

      Right, damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Rescue breaths can induce vomiting quite often and forced aspiration of vomit is bad. CPR done properly can and pretty often does crack ribs and can cause other damage including ruptures/blunt trauma. HM can cause ruptures in the organs in rare cases plus induce vomiting, since you didn’t mention any frequency. The best advice is don’t drown or have an attack unless you are near an emergency room.

    • Capn,

      Drowning+ HM – no no no no no no no!

      Stick that on your boat.

      I’ll take a few craked ribs over gastric perforations, ruptured diaphram, ruptured spleen etc, any day.

      Evdence for use of the HM – ZILCH.

    • Micheal, it is not actually ZIP NADA it is insufficient which is a bit different.

      And it is not NEVER. That is why there is a controversy which is why I brought the subject up. It is also why rescue divers include that, “The question of whether to attempt in water resuscitation or not is based on judgement.”

      You present it like it is cut and dried. It is more like an area that deserves a little more research, especially since the Red Cross is moving away from rescue breathing period. CPR used to be ABC, that was my recert before last. Last time it was CAB with hints from the instructor that B should be forgotten period except for drowning when you are very sure the airway is clear. The instructor’s husband, the EMT mentioned the HM/ARC dust up and recommend the HM be considered.

      Why? Because the ARC revised the HM to chest compressions if the air way is blocked and in the water you can’t give chest compressions, you have to be on a hard surface for that. Now can you see the difference between an “in water” situation and NEVER EVER EVER :)

      It’s a judgement call.

    • Capn,

      You’re pathological altruism in action

      There is no evience for HM in drowning. None. Opinions – yes

    • None? http://journals.humankinetics.com/AcuCustom/Sitename/Documents/DocumentItem/18031.pdf

      “This paper discusses the development and effectiveness of a protocol for lifeguards in enclosed aquatic facilities with special emphasis on scanning, rapid rescue, and applying a resuscitation procedure in the water immediately after contacting a drowning victim. We call this set of procedures In-The-Water-Intervention (IWI). Testing showed abdominal thrusts (ATs) adapted for the protocol were the most effective IWI procedure that could reliably be performed in deep water by 16–18-year-old lifeguards. Data analysis was done on a waterpark attendance of 63,800,000 with 56,000 rescues and 32 respiratory failures including four deaths.
      This paper concludes that this lifeguard protocol is effective for the environment described in this study. The lifeguard protocol’s fatality rate (0.0063 per 100K) is 1.09% of the year 2000 CDC fatality rate for all U.S pools. Only IWI was required to restore spontaneous respiration in 14 (43.75%) of the 32 cases involving loss of spontaneous respiration. In an additional 2 (6.25%) of the 32 cases involving loss of spontaneous respiration, ATs delivered out of the water were all that was required to restore spontaneous respiration.”

      :)

    • Capn,

      From your link;
      “There is no clinical evidence ATs are effective in resuscitating drowning victims”.

      Write that on your boat.

    • Micheal, ““There is no clinical evidence ATs are effective in resuscitating drowning victims”.”

      Right, but NASCO has used AT for 23 years, has evidence of its effectiveness and one of the best safety records in the world. “Clinically” it should not work but it has ans will continue to work if Hunsucker has his way in the real world. So if the clinical trials are not testing for the right mechanism(s) something that has proven effectiveness in at least on case might be disallowed potentially causing harm.

      If NASCO’s record increased to the national pool average that would not be a good thing with millions of visitors per years. If litigation became involved, there would be even more potential damages. So do you crusade to band something that seems to work outside of the lab more often than not or do more research and take a less ridge approach?

      One of the two of us is a pathological altruist, I do my best not to let my customers die and look at real world results. You do your best to tell me how to do it based on “clinical” trials. Your over confidence doesn’t do much to inspire me.

    • Micheal, Here are the guys caught in the middle.

      http://calcoastnews.com/2011/08/paso-robles-water-park-lifeguards-use-discredited-heimlich-maneuver/

      Do you think Paso Robles has been killing people with that dangerous AT?

    • Capn,

      One would think that the topic of this post would give you pause for thought in your well-meaning enthusiasm in promoting something with ZERO evidential support and a well-known list of nasty adverse effects.

      That you also know nothing of the topic might be another reason to be cautious….but apparently not.

    • Capn,

      re: link,

      If you want to take medical advice from a mathematician/engineer, be my guest.

      I’ve no idea where this idea for HM in drowning has come from, but it’s totally nutty.

    • Micheal, “That you also know nothing of the topic might be another reason to be cautious….but apparently not.”

      This is what is known as a discussion Micheal. The “Engineer” was hired to design and implement a state of the art safety program for water and amusement parks using seasonal labor, teenagers for most of his work force. He did his job based on the best available information/science at the time and seems to have been very successful at accomplishing his mission.

      So far you have used appeals to authority and ad homs to make your “clinical” case.

      At one point you mentioned that HM causes spleen a liver damage. It does, but less often than CPR. Neither method is perfect. Overall, there is evidence that HM does less harm. The “average” recovery time from CPR is ~ 4 Day and HM is minutes based on one study. A lay person would consider that a plus. There does appear to be a greater sucess rate with “modified” AT than CPR since the NASCO data indicates a significantly higher than average success rate than the national pools safety success rate. A lay person would consider that a plus. Your response to that is why listen to an engineer that is successful in creating a program to save lives. Because his program seems to work. A lay person considers that a plus.

      In generally, your part of this discussion is worse than effective since “lay” people aren’t experts, if you are an expert you should be able to effective communicate your expertise to the lay public. You however come across as a buttwipe. I am a lay buttwipe btw, like most lay people are, so I am just being me :) So me some professionalism besides it shouldn’t work.

    • Capn,

      CPR and the HM are for different things.

      The evidence for the efficacy of CPR is very good. For HM – there’s very little. For HM in drowning – zero, zilch.

      You’re drowning in pathological altruism.

      “So me some professionalism besides it shouldn’t work.” – Capn

      I don’t know what this means.

    • Micheal, ““So me some professionalism besides it shouldn’t work.” – Capn”

      Sorry, that should be “show me some professionalism.”

      CPR and HM are definitely two different things. Until this father son dust up, for drowning victims, the American Red Cross (ARC) recommended rescue breaths, then pounding on the back and as a last resort the HM as part of rescue steps help revive a downing victim so that they could become a “near” drowning victim. Neither CPR nor HM should be used on a “near” drowning victim because there would be breath signs and a pulse. Following the dust up the ARC changed the steps to rescue breaths, pounding on the back and CPR. The ARC recommends CPR as a replacement to HM even though the two are different things. In water, you cannot perform CPR. I thought that should have been pretty clear with all my “IN WATER” references. So the discussion is on a sequence of events that have to be performed quickly in a stressful situation, but “lay” people, in order to save a life that might happen to be a professional. Not a lab setting.

      So the argument is over the ineffectiveness of HM on “near” drowning victims like that means something. The point is to get the victim to the “near” drowning status.

      It may make perfectly good sense to you to perform CPR to clear an airway, in the water, but it does not make a hell of a lot of sense to me. According the ARC I should move the victim to some place with a firm surface, no matter how long that takes, so I can crack their ribs in hopes of clearing their airway. In my opinion, if I think that a quick AT might be useful since finding a firm surface in the water might be problematic, I am going to friggin’ do it and suffer whatever consequences might follow.

      So you have finally found the pea. CPR is not HM so why substitute CPR to HM when it can’t be performed in a reasonable time frame? I guess that is engineering thinking instead of being very scientific, but something is generally better than nothing unless under those circumstances it is proven harmful, not “possibly” ineffective.

    • Capn,

      The first priority in a drowning – get them out of the water.

      Screwing around trying to do a technique that has no demonstrated efficacy is likely to only delay that process.

      Something is better than nothing. Not when that something achieves nothing and takes time.

      The drowning-HR thing seems to stem from a complete misunderstanding of what drowning entails.

    • “drowning-HM”

    • Micheal, “The first priority in a drowning – get them out of the water.”

      Right, I don’t operate “poolside” so I have to quickly figure out how long and how hard that is going to be. That is part of accessing the situation. If that is going to take what I think is too long, I make command decisions. Your advice /understanding is incomplete and “According the ARC I should move the victim to some place with a firm surface, no matter how long that takes,” reading comprehension skills not particularly impressive.

    • When I was in junior high I saved a drunk who was drowning. This is all I’ll say, it is exhausting, and not much will go the way you think. The guy fought me. I got punched. He wore out before I did or we both probably would have died out there. All the adults were drunk. By the time I was pulled up onto the deck, I could barely move. The drunks had to revive him.

      And the media never came. I don’t know where that comes from.

    • JCH, “When I was in junior high I saved a drunk who was drowning. This is all I’ll say, it is exhausting, and not much will go the way you think. The guy fought me. I got punched. He wore out before I did or we both probably would have died out there. All the adults were drunk. By the time I was pulled up onto the deck, I could barely move. The drunks had to revive him.”

      Right, the play book can get kind of confusing. I have saved a few without needing CPR or HM which is a lot easier, just get something or someone to them fast. I personally would rather get a pissed off live guy instead of a dead guy to the boat any day. So I am not impressed with pinheads limiting my options.

    • Micheal said, “The drowning-HM thing seems to stem from a complete misunderstanding of what drowning entails.”

      That is part of it. There is also the “what is Anecdotal evidence”,part political part, heavy metal part and general vanity part fighting the good Sumerian part.

      http://www.houstonpress.com/2007-10-11/news/fighting-for-air/full/

      All the players are successful buttwipes.

    • “good Sumerian”??
      Were they as good as Samaritans?

  14. First. I do disagree that the liabilities of pathological altruism in climate science have been purely economic. There is evidence the the increased cost of energy in many countries has already cost lives. In addition, the increased cost of food stuffs due to diverting resources to fuel instead have also cost lives. How many? That is debatable.

    Second, a more perfect example of this is Obamacare. A program designed to help 15m people at a cost of $18,667 per person per year has instead cost 15m people their health coverage and done nothing for the target audience to date.

    • Every now and again governments spend billions on computerizing medical record so that two criteria are met.
      1) any medical professional, anywhere in the country, at any time, can look up a patients records.
      2) the system will not allow unauthorized individuals to examine anyones medical records.

      Thus far, no one has every designed a system that can meet these two criteria.

    • A program designed to help 15m people at a cost of $18,667 per person per year has instead cost 15m people their health coverage and done nothing for the target audience to date.

      Given that it’s taken half a century for health care reform to reach the point of actual implementation, is it reasonable to judge it a failure 2 months later?

      I’m not claiming it isn’t, I’m merely pointing out the factor of 300 in how long it takes to get something underway vs. how long to wait before judging that it failed to get underway. Viewed objectively that seems a mighty large factor.

      • In deference to our Host, I will decline your polite invitation to debate the issue here (I regret posting it now). But I will point out that they had 3.5 years to get the implementation right. So it is not 2 months. It is almost 4 years.

    • David Springer

      @doc

      My wife has managed a small surgical practice (1 or 2 surgeons) for about 20 years now including the IT systems. The cost and struggle to be HIPAA compliant is not a fun subject at our home.

    • David Springer

      Vaughn, I think it’s a classic case “the writing was on the wall”. If anything the failure is happening far sooner than the critics anticipated. Who knew they couldn’t get a website working? Imagine trying to get everyone who needs a heart or liver transplant (for example) on time on cost when they can’t even get a stupid website working?

      In engineering we have a saying “Fast, cheap, good. Choose any two.” Obama and the vanishingly slim democratic majority that passed this fiasco through parliamentary shenanigans like thieves in the night chose all three. The writing was on the wall.

    • Speaking of pathological altruism and Obamacare:

      > The Michigan Republican Party is seeking to increase its visibility in Democratic- and minority-heavy Detroit, and last week, it brought Sen. [...] Paul (R-Ky.) to the city to open the party’s African-American Engagement Office. But if anything, the launch event put into stark relief just how much work the GOP has to do, when a largely white audience turned out to hear the senator speak.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/rand-paul-african-american_n_4409356.html

    • If at year’s end it turns out that Obamacare converted no more uninsured to insured people in December than in October I would agree that the program is failing badly. Let’s see how it turns out.

      Another interesting statistic would be the correlation between Obamacare-haters and Pelosi-haters. My going-in number would be north of 0.9 but I’m open to being corrected on that.

    • @DS: My wife has managed a small surgical practice (1 or 2 surgeons) for about 20 years now including the IT systems. The cost and struggle to be HIPAA compliant is not a fun subject at our home.

      Tell me about it. It drives us nuts here in California. We’ve wasted many hours on the phone because of it, in incident after incident. And at one point I was sent from one medical facility to another because a nurse misread my record and I was held prisoner in the latter for five hours because the relevant cardiologist at the first facility was out of the office and HIPAA prevented the two facilities from talking to each other to straighten things out. To add insult to injury the second facility billed me several thousand dollars for the five hours they held me prisoner, which naturally I refused to pay.

    • It’s not healthcare reform, doc. It’s a cockamamie Rube Goldbergian scheme to redistribute wealth and buy votes. It will go down as one of the dumbest social, economic and political blunders in the history of western civilization.

    • Amused @ Pratt’s metric. Right now, the rate of turning insured into uninsured is accelerating.
      =============

    • We have to pass this to see what we are in for.
      ===========

    • @Von Pratt – do you count new enrollees in Medicaid as newly covered and do you consider that to be one measure of success for Obamacare?

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      “In engineering we have a saying “Fast, cheap, good. Choose any two.”
      ____
      And those who find a way a delivering all three move the industry forward a set the bar ever higher. That’s the nature of competition.

    • R. Gates

      those who find a way a delivering all three [fast, cheap, good] move the industry forward a set the bar ever higher. That’s the nature of competition

      Yep. In the private sector that’s exactly how it works (when an enterprise is working with its own money in competition with other enterprises).

      The public sector works with other people’s money (taxpayers) and there is no competition.

      Occasionally major strategic stretch goals can be reached, which open up whole new fields of technology (atomic bomb, man to the moon) – but these are never “cheap”.

      Max

    • Yes – I work at one of the biggest teaching and research hospitals in the world, and I can already see how edicts from Obamacare (and before from the Stimulus Bill) are making us do things that are not in our patients’ best interests. As my (very liberal) boss says, the inmates are running the asylum. We have been converting to electronic medical records for forty years; it’s hard and needs to be done carefully. Government edicts by people in Washington who mean well but don’t know our particular needs just make it harder. Straight Hayek.
      And we are huge; we can afford to muddle through this. Smaller hospitals will get killed. Same with many medical practices. I already know doctors who are switching to concierge care, where you pay a yearly fee and the doctor is completely out of the billing business. Those lucky individuals who can now finally get insurance are likely to find that they simultaneously cannot get doctors or find a good hospital. So are some of the rest of us who had decent care till now. This is likely to kill far more people than it saves. Will an honest liberal acknowledge that if it happens, and change his thinking?
      The basic difference between liberals and conservatives in America is not what you think. It’s: Do you think that such large government programs will help, or will they _end up_ doing far more harm than good? Notice the many comments here about “in that case, I shouldn’t give toys to children!” The subtle distinction: Some things usually help, and others usually do harm. – Be part of the Real Reality Based Community.

    • Gosh – people are talking about HIPAA compliance as well? We have a lot of fun with that at my hospital too. The head of information security is a very bright guy, and speaks to us every so often. He is very clear: There is no way for us to really safeguard our patient health data in this day and age, but then no one wants it very much anyway. Not much of a hacker target like patient SSN or DOB is. Major losses are usually by accident, like the recent laptop that was stolen from our gift shop… Thus, our goal as a hospital is to make sure that lost data doesn’t cause us disastrous HIPAA fines. One solution we follow is to encrypt most everything that can move. Illustrative example: If a laptop is encrypted, and the password is taped to the front of the laptop, we won’t get a HIPAA fine if it is lost. It’s encrypted, you see. A decent chunk of the IT work at our hospital, especially at the administrative levels, is built around HIPAA compliance – work that will not be available to take better care of patients.

  15. “Although virtually every {government} program has its critics, well designed programs can be effective in bettering people’s lives with few negative tradeoffs. From a scientifically-based perspective, however, some programs are deeply problematic, often as a result of superficial notions on the part of program designers or implementers about what is genuinely beneficial for others, coupled with a lack of accountability for ensuing programmatic failures. In these pathologically altruistic enterprises, confirmation bias, discounting, motivated reasoning, and egocentric certitude that our approach is the best—in short, the usual biases that underlie pathologies of altruism—appear to play important role”

    After reading this phrase, screaming in my head were names; well known climate CAWG names. In slightly less volume came the US Governmental agencies EPA and DOE. And then in a more quizzical voice than obstreperous, the name of POTUS; what the h**l are you thinking?

    Foremost is the statement: “with a lack of accountability.”

    Pathological altruism is practiced by those who lack a sense of accountability, to themselves or others. And, as such, I regard these individuals as maniacal, and dangerous.

    Ain’t no use in talkin’ to them folk. Just crazy talk. Must be high on somethin’; religion? drugs? or plumb out of their heads.

    • RiHo, I’d copied that para for comment. The sentence that “well designed programs can be effective in bettering people’s lives with few negative trade-offs” could only be written by someone who has not been significantly involved in government at a policy level. In my experience, few programs are well-designed, all have negative trade-offs and fewer still are well-implemented. I have met altruistic politicians and public servants, but most are self-serving rather than genuinely concerned with enhancing the well-being of those that they are supposed to serve; and political factors tend to over-ride good program design.

      Smaller government will almost always mean better outcomes for the society. It also leaves more resources in the hands of individuals with which they can be altruistic if they so wish.

    • Faustino

      I have “not been significantly involved in government at a policy level” as you have, so cannot speak with that knowledge.

      But, living in Switzerland, which traditionally has a “bottoms up” system of government, I’d agree with what you wrote.

      Here the commune gets the largest cut of income taxes, the canton a slightly smaller cut and the federal government the smallest cut.

      And there is a system whereby the public can vote on almost any local, cantonal or federal issue, if there are enough signatures for the initiative.

      This keeps decision making largely at the communal or cantonal level, except for matters of national importance, with the voters having the final say.

      Obviously, there is a trend here (as elsewhere) for the central government to take over a greater share of the power (and the shadow of the EU is omnipresent), but (so far) this trend to centralize has been kept in check.

      Maybe an anomaly, but the system here (generally) works.

      Max

    • Can someone believe in both these statements, or are they contradictory? 1) It is appropriate for the United States federal government to run the Coast Guard and help build the interstate highway system. 2) The United States federal government is currently controlled by politically connected special interests, is acting as a conduit to funnel money from middle-class taxpayers to the special interests that control it, and is right now more barnacles than ship. It is currently very difficult for that government to get anything worthwhile done.
      Is it possible for a rational person to believe both of them? In fact, don’t most rational people – conservative or liberal – believe both?
      And if they do, what are they arguing about? It isn’t proposition (1) (which makes it seem odd that so many liberals quote it as proof of something). It isn’t even (2), as everyone basically agrees on that as well.
      It’s a corollary of (2): Given that that is so, we should be very reluctant to put the US federal government in charge of anything important.

      Dear friend liberal: I am sorry. I share your concern for the sick poor people of America. You aren’t going to be able to help them this way. Regardless of your plans and intentions, what you _actually end up with_ will be far more costly, far more cumbersome, and will kill far more people than it helps. The rules created will all be the result of political deals somewhere in Washington, nothing to do with what American health care needs. Perhaps you’ve noticed that this is happening already.
      That’s all assuming that they eventually get their website working properly. Have you noticed yet that they are incompetent?
      Join the real Reality Based Community.

    • There is this thing called the earth. On the face of the earth show me a system that delivers more things as well as the United States government.

    • “There is this thing called the earth. On the face of the earth show me a system that delivers more things as well as the United States government.” Not sure, maybe you’d care to define what you mean. The incredible strength of the American Republics has traditionally been understood to be in the way it allows Americans to get things for themselves. I think many European democracies are better at “delivering things”, and they like it that way and that’s their business.
      Polls tend to show that the average American thinks that the federal government discretionary budget could be cut 50% without harm. As I said, mostly barnacles.

      Anyhow, let me ask you, as I asked my liberal family five years ago during the health care bill fight: When you envisioned a health care bill, did it look like this one is turning out? My family: “Of course not! They were going to raise taxes and take care of everyone’s health care. How did they end up with this crazy thing, written by insurance companies and pharmaceuticals, and loaded with special interests?”
      Right now, that’s how the US federal government works. No matter what pretty picture you had, what you actually get is going to be controlled by and written in favor of very powerful politically connected corporations and special interests, and paid for by the politically helpless middle class. Both liberals and conservatives know this, but liberals shrug it off.

  16. I think the ‘harming of others’ definition should be more explicitly broadened to include the “denial of benefits”, both current and anticipated. That obviously includes those who could help raise themselves out of poverty with cheap energy sources derived from fossil fuels.

    Other situations/examples come to mind: What about an organisation that calls itself “Greenpeace”, yet strenuously objects to possibly the single most beneficial thing that could happen to green terrestrial life forms:-an increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide?

    • “single most beneficial thing that could happen to green terrestrial life forms:-an increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide”

      Carbon dioxide can’t possibly do anything bad because it is a good thing and part of nature. Tell that to they people who drowned in N. Orleans because of too much of a good thing.

    • Tell that to they people who drowned in N. Orleans because of too much of a good thing.

      Look up the word ‘levee’

    • Yes, they drowned because of an excess of ostensibly well-intentioned, but incompetent, government that failed to maintain adequate sea defences in a known high risk location.

    • Oh, please, don’t denigrate the Wrath of Gaia.
      ===========

  17. An obvious example of pathological altruism is all those people who want to keep fossil fuel prices low by drilling and digging to increase its abundance, only for climate change to make things worse.

    • Good point. If in fact it was well determined that “climate change” will make things worse.

      It isn’t, unless you are a fan of video games. Er, climate modeling.

  18. any scientist who uses the word ‘denier’ is likely to suffer from altruism bias .

    Big boy pants are the antidote to being called a “denier,” and I think that those who use the word are more likely to suffer from anti-big boy pants bias.

  19. Am I the only one who has noticed that a common ‘feature’ of the scams foisted on us by the ‘pathological altruists’ is that when the dust settles, the ‘altruists’ have inevitably accrued power, wealth, and perks, at the cost of other people’s money and freedom, but the plight of the advertised objects of their benefice has remained the same–or worsened?

  20. Judith -

    Pathological altruism can be conceived as behavior in which attempts to promote the welfare of another, or others, results instead in harm that an external observer would conclude was reasonably foreseeable.

    Hmmm.

    How about all of those who want to promote the use of fossil fuels (and coal in particular) because they are absolutely certain that it will save children from starving?

    OK, all together now.

    Selective reasoning is…..

    • OK, all together now.

      Boring, Boring, Boring…..

    • How about all of those who want to promote the use of fossil fuels (and coal in particular) because they are absolutely certain that it will save children from starving?

      All the selective reasoning here is on your part.
      It’s far more accurate to say that the deliberate withholding of affordable energy will not save children from starving.

    • …besides which, the use of fossil fuels hardly needs promoting, does it? Perhaps in the same way as the eating of food and the drinking of water need promoting.

    • Jashua – name one other discovery in the history of mankind that has done more to lift people out of poverty and enabled humans to live richer, healthier and longer lives that the discovery of how to harnes the energy provided by fossil fuels.

    • That is Joshua, my apologies for the typo…

    • > the discovery of how to harnes the energy provided by fossil fuels.

      And what discovery would that be?

    • Willard: The Cat Cracker (1915)

    • Thanks, Howard. In that case, the box might be a good contender:

      http://pulse.edf.com/en/greatest-invention-time-just-big-box/

      I’ve also heard good words about the wheel.

    • Joshua

      How about all of those who want to promote the use of fossil fuels (and coal in particular) because they are absolutely certain that it will save children from starving?

      Whodat?

      The ones who “want to promote the use of fossil fuels (and coal in particular)” are principally the companies who extract, refine, distribute and supply them.

      Their reasoning for doing this is far from altruistic – it is to earn a profit for their shareholders.

      The “climate skeptics” who are not engaged by these companies, but still want access to a reliable source of energy based on low cost fossil fuels, do so also for selfish rather than altruistic reasons.

      If keeping energy costs low and energy supplies reliable helps “save children from starving” that is a welcome side benefit – or a side argument when discussing the benefits of fossil fuels with someone who suffers from pathological CAGW altruism.

      Max

  21. The obvious issue is that we put the brakes on hard to economic development in the “free,” though becoming less “free”, world. The state exerts more control over the populace, and that power can be used by others in the future for reasons completely unrelated to the original ones.

    In addition, people who might otherwise have the opportunity to use their creative powers have their energy and time resources consumed in less productive activities, as they are consumed by costly energy. The fruits of those creative efforts are lost to subsequent generations.

    Finally, people must accept the idea that they are subordinate to a specific world-view espoused by what appears to me to be the very religious orientation of the Sierra club and others. Casting these views in cement, through the press, primary schools, secondary schools, and post secondary schools is in my view a real danger to the free thought of man’s relationship to his (or her) environment. Using the power of government to state man’s role is subordinate to the ecological system from which we emerged is in my view exceedingly limiting.

  22. Inkblot post.

  23. There is no “profound benefits of altruisminmodern society” and they certainly are not self evident. Altrusim (literally “otherism”) is the principle that one must place the interest of others above ones own interest and the practical application of that principle is sacrifice of the individual to others (called society or God or anyone that is non-you). The inevitable result of the application of altruism in any society is destruction and ultimately death. The climate alamists want us to sacrifice our way of life to the environment. The fact that that sacrifice won’t actually “save the environment” is irrelvant to those who preach that sacrifice – their goal IS THE SACRIFICE! The inevitable result is the slow destruction of the great economic progress (fueled by affordable fossil fules) that free-market capitalism has brought to those who have embraced it……… and death to the third world population because they will be forbidden to expand their use of affordable fossil fuel based energy ,which is the lifeblood of civilization. The result will be pre-mature death to millions…..and that will be the real travisity!
    Run as fast as you can from anyone who tells you altrusim is good, for the sacrificial animal they are after is YOU. The only alternative is rational self-interest and Judith Curry is absolutely correct in describing the sceptics motive as self-interest. We will not be able to turn the tide of the growing collectivisim in the world (including in the US) until we start celebrating the fact that rational self-interest IS the moral good.

    • Ken, I practice rational self-interest but I don’t associate it with being moral. I have no need to believe if I want to do something it’s moral because I want to do it.

      I suspect you are just kidding around when you say” rational self-interest IS the moral good.”

    • I kant believe it.
      ==========

    • No, none of that.

      We climate altruists only want a fair price to be paid for the abundance you receive from fossil fuel use. Since we use fossil fuels, but we don;t pay for the damage the fossil fuels will cause to all of humanity, it is only fair to exact a fair price for such use.

      Can you defend the burning of coal to support you lavish lifestyle?

      Why don’t we stop calling it affordable fossil fuel when you really mean coal?

      • but we don’t pay for the damage the fossil fuels will cause to all of humanity

        Unless there is no damage to the environment. And it will surely cause damage to those who, due to carbon taxes, can’t afford the energy they need to stay warm, and do things like cook their food over something other than dung.

    • Can you defend the burning of coal to support you lavish lifestyle?

      Lavish lifestyle? I’ll swap lifestyles with you anytime.

    • Ken, the 1950s called. They want their Red Scare paranoia back.

      Your pathological selfishness and pathological greed are less concerning than your pathological ignorance. Fossil fuels are not “the lifeblood of civilization” and greedy selfish people are not enlightened — you’re merely weak.

    • What evah Nona wants, Robert gets.

      Sure we are weak in the sense that our culture could not be sustained on human power alone(well, something almost as good for the elite as slavery) so maintaining(sustaining) and improving ourselves will require other energy. There is lots of energy in the Universe and my prediction is that man will not ultimately use all of it.
      ===============

    • MiCro,

      There already is damage to the environment from burning coal, and lives lost, so your premise is effectively not sustained.

      The people who cook food over dung live where they really don’t need to worry about being cold at night. You are all crocodile tears and I’m not buying it.

      I have not advocated carbon taxes for those who burn dung to cook their supper anyway.

      I’m all for banning the burning of coal in the US, once we build enough capacity to do that.

      • I didn’t particularly mention coal, not all fossil fuels are coal. I’d rather use coal than dung, and it gets cold even in the desert at night.

    • Dung is a renewable, not a fossil fuel.

      I would rather use nuclear, solar, wind, hydro or natural gas to cook my dinner.

      Having electric appliances, I currently use a mix of coal, nuclear, hydro, gas and wind.

    • The people who cook food over dung live where they really don’t need to worry about being cold at night.

      I take it you’ve never been to places like Botswana or Namibia then.

    • Phatboy,
      Namibia and Botswana are two places where children don’t know what snow is. Except for a few flakes in Botswana and 5 historical snowfalls in Namibia.

      I’ve camped out several times with colder and snowier weather than ever recorded in those two countries. With no heat.

    • Bob Droege, don’t take my word for it, go there and check it out for yourself – I know I have.

    • Phatboy,
      So you went to Namibia and Bhotswana and froze your ass off?

      Me, I’m skeptical.

      Record low temperatures for the two countries are -2 and -4 C.

      If I were to go, I’d leave my down coat at home.

    • You do that

  24. While I hear a lot of people demanding accountability in others, I don’t hear many of them promising to be held accountable themselves.

  25. “Moral passions are . . . cast in the form of a scientific affirmation…[B]oth branches of Marxism operate by denying to morality any intrinsic moral force of its own . . . yet both appeal in this very act to moral passions . . . Any criticism of the scientific part is rebutted by the moral passions behind it, while any moral objections to it are coldly brushed aside by invoking the inexorable verdict of its scientific findings.”

    –Michael Polanyi, in “Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy”

  26. Lust for power dressed up as “pathological altruism”. The authors have mistaken the rationalization of progressives for their intent.

    Ignore what people say, and watch what they do. Educational policy that keeps millions ignorant and increases dependence on government. Welfare policy that increases poverty…and dependence on government. Healthcare policy that destroys the best healthcare system in the world…and increases dependence on government. Climate policy that seeks to reverse the economic progress of hundreds of millions of people…and increases dependence on government. Social policy that undermines the family…and increases dependence on government.

    Altruism? Every dictator of the last century claimed to be ushering in the next utopia. Stop being duped by PR, and look at what is actually being done. Default progressives vote in droves for policies that are supposedly altruistic. But those who design those policies could not care less about the people they claim to want to help. The people, and especially “the children”, are just a means to an end.

  27. Tom Schelling was, as always, the first to write about pathological altruism in climate policy (first written up in 1995 in Energy Policy, although he had made the point in talks long before that). He did not call it pathological altruism, though.

    Dowlatabadi and I quantified this here http://journals.sfu.ca/int_assess/index.php/iaj/article/view/222

  28. The do-gooder complex is rife and endemic in the field. There’s a gargantuan instance or two of “objectively foreseeable and unreasonable harm” to the planet’s populations built-in..

    Excellent article and observation, JC.

  29. The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.
    H. L. Mencken

    Perhaps this should be updated as:

    The urge to save the Planet (from Humanity) is almost always a false front for the urge to rule

    Robert Cooper was the Brit bureaucrat who articulated the supposed “justification” for Tony Bliar’s aggression against the Serbs

    Why we still need empires

    Tony Blair’s foreign policy guru Robert Cooper believes that a new colonialism can save the world. This is the article that caused the storm. You can also read a longer version of this essay here and join the online debate here
    http://observer.theguardian.com/worldview/story/0,11581,680117,00.html

    The new liberal imperialism
    Senior British diplomat Robert Cooper has helped to shape British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s calls for a new internationalism and a new doctrine of humanitarian intervention which would place limits on state sovereignty. This article contains the full text of Cooper’s essay on “the postmodern state”, written in a personal capacity, an extract from which appears in the print edition of The Observer today. Cooper’s call for a new liberal imperialism and admission of the need for double standards in foreign policy have outraged the left but the essay offers a rare and candid unofficial insight into the thinking behind British strategy on Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/apr/07/1

    The postmodern system in which we Europeans live does not rely on balance; nor does it emphasise sovereignty or the separation of domestic and foreign affairs. The European Union has become a highly developed system for mutual interference in each other’s domestic affairs, right down to beer and sausages
    snip

    The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards. Among ourselves, we operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era – force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself. Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle. In the prolonged period of peace in Europe, there has been a temptation to neglect our defences, both physical and psychological. This represents one of the great dangers of the postmodern state.
    The challenge posed by the pre-modern world is a new one. The pre-modern world is a world of failed states
    snip
    All the conditions for imperialism are there, but both the supply and demand for imperialism have dried up. And yet the weak still need the strong and the strong still need an orderly world. A world in which the efficient and well governed export stability and liberty, and which is open for investment and growth – all of this seems eminently desirable.
    What is needed then is a new kind of imperialism, one acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan values. We can already discern its outline: an imperialism which, like all imperialism, aims to bring order and organisation but which rests today on the voluntary principle.
    Postmodern imperialism takes two forms. First there is the voluntary imperialism of the global economy. This is usually operated by an international consortium through International Financial Institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank – it is characteristic of the new imperialism that it is multilateral.
    snip
    The second form of postmodern imperialism might be called the imperialism of neighbours. Instability in your neighbourhood poses threats which no state can ignore. Misgovernment, ethnic violence and crime in the Balkans poses a threat to Europe. The response has been to create something like a voluntary UN protectorate in Bosnia and Kosovo
    snip
    Robert Cooper is a senior serving British diplomat, and writes in a personal capacity. This article is published as The post-modern state in the new collection Reordering the World: the long term implications of September 11, published by The Foreign Policy Centre.

    • The sainted Mencken also proposed what has come to be known as “Mencken’s Law.” To wit:

      “When ‘A’ injures or annoys ‘B’ on the pretense of saving ‘C’ then ‘A’ is a scoundrel.”

    • Robert,

      Just who are these deniers you refer too? Is one a denier if they fail to toe the line regarding the need for urgent action? Does asking for evidence of predicted disasters qualify one? Are you a denier if you are capable of simple arithmatic?

  30. JC said “any scientist who uses the word ‘denier’ is likely to suffer from altruism bias”
    _______

    I don’t belief a scientist is biased for calling a spade a spade. I think that’s what a scientist is supposed to do.

    • One man’s spade is another man’s knife to the heart. Did you ever notice the bleeding as you twisted this particular spade?

    • I thought one man’s spade was another man’s shovel.

      I can’t understand why deniers get upset about being called deniers. I can’t empathize with them.

    • By strange coincidence the last time I saw a spade being used on TV was also the last time I heard someone use the term ‘denier’ on air. That was in a documentary on the UK Channel 5 about the recent attempt to dig up incontrovertible evidence of the mass murder at Treblinka.

      When the forensic archaeologist in charge came to explain the purpose she said it was about countering the arguments of ‘the deniers’, without qualification. It was like a knife to the heart to me. It was completely fair use of language by Caroline Sturdy Colls but by now the term is so familiar with referent myself that there was a jarring, a slamming door in the mind.

      I tend to watch what I can on the Holocaust and have done for many years. I salute those in our day like Sturdy Colls and Patrick Desbois who are fighting against a real and dangerous evil. Either you understand why use of this analogy in climate debate is totally wrong or I think you too are dangerous and capable of evil. Or is that word too spade-like at the end?

    • Look, Richard, they’re just lambs led astray, mebbe altruistray. Easier to forgive the poor little beasts.
      ==============

    • Richard Drake said: “Either you understand why use of this analogy in climate debate is totally wrong or I think you too are dangerous and capable of evil. ”
      _______

      It makes me feel good to call global warning deniers what they are. Doing what makes me feel good is rational self-interest. Is my rational self-interest evil?

    • Given it makes you feel so good, do you agree with Steve Mosher in January 2001 that:

      To be precise. Watts is not a denier. Willis is not. Monckton is not. Lindzen is not. Spencer is not.

      Nobody here rejects outright without thought all of climate science. no one. The worst reject most of it after considerable amounts of confused thought.

      Or does your enjoyment of using the term also depend on a certain lack of precision?

    • richard

      “Either you understand why use of this analogy in climate debate is totally wrong or I think you too are dangerous and capable of evil.”

      I wouldn’t call it evil. It’s just stupid. Max is allowed to be stupid.
      However, he might be evil..
      Folks who engage in communication about climate science get to
      choose what the purpose of their communication is. If you believe the planet is in danger, and you believe that its important to convince other people that we should take action, then you have to ask yourself
      are my communication strategies supporting my goal or defeating my purpose.

      There are going to be three types audiences that listen to Max using the
      denier lingo.

      1. Folks who are already convinced of his position
      2. Folks who havent formed an opinion
      3. Folks who dont agree with him

      If he thinks the planet is in danger and he thinks its a good thing to convince others, then you get to ask him. ‘How is the use of the term denier working to achieve your ends?” How’s that working for you Max?

      Which comes down to asking how many fence sitters have been swayed by the use of the term? Ever since ellen goodman introduced the trope I would hazard that not a single fence sitter has been swayed by the use of the term. On the evidence the term is used for two purposes: A) to make the speaker feel good about himself and his group B) to make his opponents angry. That is what it actually does. It also derails any conversation. So if your purpose is to save the planet, if you really think the planet is in danger and think you have an obligation to convince others, then use of the term seems to be at odds with that purpose. Given the lack of evidence that it actually works to convince people, and given the evidence that it derails and polarizes dialogue, what can we conclude about people who use the term. Well, we can fairly conclude that they are stupid or insane because they keep repeating a behavior expected different results when experience shows them that use of the term destroys dialogue. Or we can conclude that they really dont care about the planet, they just care about doing stuff that makes them feel good.

    • Richard, being specific would mean using lots of adjectives. I find the more adjectives I use, the less good I feel.

    • Heh, Max_OK’s irrational self-interest.
      ======================

    • Mosher says: “On the evidence the term is used for two purposes: A) to make the speaker feel good about himself and his group B) to make his opponents angry.”
      ______

      Sounds right to me. I like feeling good about myself, and if any of my opponents like being angry, I’m doing them a favor. I suspect many of them are the same as me on this.

    • Max,

      You have repeatedly proven there are a lot of things you can’t understand.

      I’ll ask once again – what science am I denying?

    • kim said: “Heh, Max_OK’s irrational self-interest.”
      _____
      Sound like kim wants to tell me what I like so I can be rational. Thanks, kim.

    • timg56, I don’t recall calling you a denier.

      Why ask me what science you are denying? I don’t know. Ask yourself.

    • So what of Mosher’s 2011 list? Watts? Eschenbach? Monckton? Lindzen? Spencer? And on what basis?

    • Mosher wrote: “Well, we can fairly conclude that they are stupid or insane because they keep repeating a behavior expected different results when experience shows them that use of the term destroys dialogue. Or we can conclude that they really dont care about the planet, they just care about doing stuff that makes them feel good.”

      There is a third possibility: they don’t care about the issue, they just recognize that it’s useful for their political causes. There was a whole confab in Warsaw just a couple weeks ago that collapsed because not enough countries agreed to use global warming as an excuse for global wealth redistribution. This is why it’s funny to watch folks scratch their heads over Joe Romm. Repeat after me, Romm works for a partisan political organization- openly and happily. If global climate warming/change can be used to push a partisan agenda, it’s important. If not, or it underscores something the other party is saying (ie fracking and nukes) then it’s not.
      Max_OK and his buddies have been doing this for two decades now (poisoning the well to push useless policy). Anyone who thinks they give a flying fig about global climate warming/change is a fool.

    • MAX

      ‘Sounds right to me. I like feeling good about myself, and if any of my opponents like being angry, I’m doing them a favor. I suspect many of them are the same as me on this.”

      so you use the word denier because it makes you feel good about yourself.
      That’s fine. You get to do that. I have to assume then that you dont think or dont care that the planet is in danger.

      That makes you evil, not stupid.

      do this exercise. apply the precautionary principle to use of the word denier.
      Tell me the case in which the potential benefits outweigh the harm.

      Put another way. you could try not using the word for a year. do a test. what do you have to lose.

    • Steven, we’ve just been through a national-scale experiment in pampering right-wing fanatics and flattering their biases. It doesn’t help.

      Deniers are deniers. Use the correct term. Dissembling and evading are not going to win over deniers to acceptance of the science. It won’t work.

      Do you object to calling members of the Ku Klux Klan racists? Does that not alienate them? Well, of course it does, but it’s the truth. The truth should count for something, regardless.

    • Mosher suggests I try not calling deniers deniers.

      “Put another way. you could try not using the word for a year. do a test. what do you have to lose.”

      Well, Mosher, I have to call global warming deniers something. I’m not promising anything, but names I will considering are :

      1. Contrarian

      2. Naysayer

      3. Heretic

      4. Those people

      The problem is none of these are any more specific than denier.

      • So you specifically use the term in a non-scientific way for no scientific purpose, but purely to avoid having to think hard about what the evidence and facts presented are.

        How about doing something intelligent for a change, and actually addressing what is being said, instead of using your self satisfying histrionics to placate your ego?

    • Max

      “Well, Mosher, I have to call global warming deniers something. I’m not promising anything, but names I will considering are :

      1. Contrarian

      2. Naysayer

      3. Heretic

      4. Those people

      The problem is none of these are any more specific than denier.

      ###################

      But consider what you are trying to do with the word to save the planet?

      1. You assume you have to call them something. Wrong. you dont have to call them ANYTHING. you could try calling them by their name: Anthony Watts, for example. Note that i always call you Max. nothing forces you to call them anything. There is no them.

      2. denier is the most general and least descriptive. And its generally wrong.

      2. you could try

      A. critics
      B. opponents
      C. refusnicks
      D. challengers
      E. people who refuse to believe
      F. dissenters

      You see all the choices?

      Now, if your goal is to save the planet and using denier HAS NOT WORKED let me suggest that you prove your dedication to the cause by exhausting all avenues of communication. What do you have to lose?

    • The KKK was defeated by Superman, with the aid of Stetson Kennedy.

      http://mentalfloss.com/article/23157/how-superman-defeated-ku-klux-klan

      One cannot help but note how the accusations of ‘racism’ and ‘racist’ have been used so freely that pretty much no one on the right has ever managed to no be so accused.
      Last week an overweight troglodyte accused me of being a ‘denier’; but was not able to state what I was denying.

    • Robert

      you ignorant fool

      “Steven, we’ve just been through a national-scale experiment in pampering right-wing fanatics and flattering their biases. It doesn’t help.”

      You miss the point. we are not trying to convince them. We are trying to convince people who havent made up their minds. The facts are that using the term denier has not worked. if you care about the planet you should test some other approaches. Why refuse to try anything when the planet is at stake you ignorant fool. Now, ask yourself if my name calling changed your mind. Its true you are a fool, but nothing forced me to use that term.

      ####################################
      Deniers are deniers. Use the correct term. Dissembling and evading are not going to win over deniers to acceptance of the science. It won’t work.

      ##################################
      Actually, its not the correct term. It fails as an analogy and as a simple descriptive term it fails because its unclear what exactly they deny. And since many dont deny the science it backfires. Most importantly it does not work. Further, Im not talking about winning them over. See the post above you moron. There are three audiences.

      the simple fact is that the term doesnt work as rhetoric. you are self indulgent and refuse to try anything and everything within your power to save the planet. It costs you nothing to change the words you use, and even if there is a slight probability that changing your dialogue will change the outcome, the precaustionary principle would say.. Change your dialogue. It costs you nothing. It costs you nothing to call them critics. which tells me that you think that you derive some benefit from this behavior.
      Put another way. you engage in a behavior that does nothing to bring your goal any closer. using the term doesnt help our argument. doesnt change minds, doesnt do anything to solve the problem we claim to care about.
      Changing this behavior incurs no cost. i surmise you wont entertain changing this futile behavior because it provides you with some psychological benefit. You are sick. get help.

      ################################
      Do you object to calling members of the Ku Klux Klan racists? Does that not alienate them? Well, of course it does, but it’s the truth. The truth should count for something, regardless.

      A. we are not talking about alienating THEM you moron. we are not trying to convince THEM you idiot. See above for the three audiences.

      B. calling a klansman a racist isnt an analogy, so of course i would not object.

      Now of course if I said we were slaves to obamacare, you might object to the analogy. why? its true.

    • Mosher writes concerning the term “denier”: “Which comes down to asking how many fence sitters have been swayed by the use of the term? “

      I’ve been swayed, but in the opposite direction. When I first came around 5 or 6 ago as an uninformed typical lay warmist, “denier” wasn’t in vogue yet I don’t believe, or the even loonier “denialist,” but the nasty tone embodied by these terms was in full flower nonetheless. It absolutely reduced my trust in the establishment climate scientists. They began to strike me as unstable and untrustworthy. I’m in my 60’s now, and spent half my life in a business in which reading people, and deciding whom to trust was paramount.

    • Mosher said: “Now, if your goal is to save the planet and using denier HAS NOT WORKED let me suggest that you prove your dedication to the cause by exhausting all avenues of communication. What do you have to lose?”
      _______

      Sorry, Steven, but I have dismissed global warming deniers as hopeless. I believe too many of them are old guys too set in their ways to change. There aren’t enough of them to matter, and they won’t be around much longer anyway.

    • When I was just a little sprout, one of my teachers said words to this effect: In debate you should always say how smart and wise your opponent is, because you won’t look so great if you are just beating up on fools and idiots.

    • Right, PG; ‘denialist’ is parseltongue for ‘denier’.
      ==========

    • “Sorry, Steven, but I have dismissed global warming deniers as hopeless. I believe too many of them are old guys too set in their ways to change. There aren’t enough of them to matter, and they won’t be around much longer anyway.”

      You continue to out do yourself, Max_Callow. We baby boomers are a vast army of soon to be retirees, and you’ll be supporting us for at least another couple of decades.

      How’s that strike you?

    • Denier is overused, but is apt for many among the blognets. Monkton, his Noble Lord and Master and Anthony Watts are NOT deniers. They are denier enablers. They give aid, encouragement, comfort and ammo to their denier clients.

      Dr. Curry offers a safe, respectable place for deniers to comment. She makes them so relaxed, they spew all of their lunatic theories based on a strange mix of right-wing idiotology and a per-pubescent female belief in unicorns and fairies.

    • pokerguy said:

      “You continue to out do yourself, Max_Callow. We baby boomers are a vast army of soon to be retirees, and you’ll be supporting us for at least another couple of decades.

      How’s that strike you?”
      ________

      Makes me feel altruistic.

      I’m glad to help.

      Old timers have paid their dues.

    • How about calling them by their screen names and addressing their arguments, that is if you can get them to articulate their position.

  31. From the excerpt included in the the post we can read.

    Good government is a foundation of large-scale societies; government programs are designed to minimize a variety of social problems. Although virtually every program has its critics, well designed programs can be effective in bettering people’s lives with few negative tradeoffs.

    That tells it all.

    Everybody knows that policies tend to have also unintended consequences, and policies that are partly supported by ideological arguments are probably even more likely to have such consequences. Nothing new is revealed by calling that pathological altruism. That really sounds a pejorative, and we already have too many of them, not too few.

    • Pekka, exactly. See RiHo08′s comment and my reply above.

    • Pekka

      You write

      Everybody knows that policies tend to have also unintended consequences, and policies that are partly supported by ideological arguments are probably even more likely to have such consequences.

      Yes, indeed.

      You add:

      Nothing new is revealed by calling that pathological altruism. That really sounds a pejorative, and we already have too many of them, not too few.

      I do not agree that the term “pathological altruism” (or the concept) as defined by Barbara Oakley, and as it applies to some individuals involved in the ongoing CAGW debate, is “pejorative”.

      It is simply an observation that some individuals, with good intentions (e.g. save the planet for our grandchildren, protect the poorest and weakest of us from impending climate disasters, save the polar bears, etc.), see the debate as one of “good” versus “evil”. They “altruistically” want us to “do the right thing”.

      This automatically shuts out any dissenting views, as Oakley notes.

      Does this analysis not make sense to you, as it applies to the ongoing debate on CAGW?

      Have views that dissent from the consensus view on CAGW not been labelled as “denialist” and ignored or discarded by the mainstream group?

      Has our hostess (for example) not been branded a “climate heretic” in a well-known scientific journal or a “serial climate disinformer” by one of the consensus scientists?

      Has the Climate Progress blogsite not labelled Richard Lindzen “MIT’s uber-hypocritical anti-scientific scientist” and suggested that he is a paid shill of the oil industry?

      These are the symptoms of “pathological altruism”, as defined by Oakley, and they appear to me to be real.

      Max

    • It’s not so pejorative as it is descriptive. And the pathologies of the madness of catastrophic warming metastasize.
      =======================

  32. John DeFayette

    “…virtually all forms of altruism are associated with tradeoffs…”

    This is heresy to those who know they’re right.

  33. Here’s “Climategate: The good shepherds” by “vulgarmorality” at http://vulgarmorality.wordpress.com/2009/12/06/climategate-the-good-shepherds/,

    It blames Thomas what Sowell called “the anointed” — the self-consciously “aware and concerned,” highly educated cognitive elite who resonate with one another across all sectors of society and buy into one another’s rationales, tactics, credibility, and value-priorities. They fall into the group of people who want to “Play Parent” or say, “I’m OK. You’re Not OK.”

    One of their main concerns is to avoid being consigned by their fellows in this group into the ranks of the “benighted” (the crudely selfish and ignorant), which is why accusations of being tainted by Big Oil or right-wing think tanks or Fox News or IDers or flat-earthers make such powerful and commonly used weapons by the groups’ mind-guards in keeping the rank and file in line.

    IOW, in large part their motivations are partly idealistic, but also partly social and psychological, in that they want to be part of the leading edge of a high-status in-group, and also want to nourish and bask in the feeling of self-approbation that this reflected self-worth, and this perception of acting idealistically, gives them.

    Here’s a sample of the article:

    I hold that many climatologists, politicians, and journalists share a number of operating assumptions, which in effect allows them to coordinate their actions without resorting to conspiracies. That these assumptions are self-serving is undeniable but here besides the point. They support the story of the elites as the good shepherds, and this in turn endows the believer with the moral authority for practically any action.

    Here are the logical pillars for the story of the good shepherds:

    * A few of us are wise and good, but the average person is foolish and easily misled.

    * The only moral imperative is human development, and the only path to human development is power in the hands of the wise and good.

    * Information must be used by the wise and good, but withheld from the public to avoid panic and confusion.

    * Society is a tissue of outworn traditions and superstitions, and must be rationalized according to scientific principles.

    * Opposition to the wise and good can only come from selfish, corrupt forces and their dupes.

    Evidence of these principles in action abounds in the Climategate affair, and would fill more space than I have in this post – the CRU documents alone are 160 MB. What follows is by necessity selective and illustrative, which is to say, partial and incomplete.

    First, the climate scientists. We should think of them as scientist-bureaucrats, combining the analytic inclination of the former and the primal hunger for funding and prestige of the latter. Becoming saviors of the earth by using their educated brains must have been, from both perspectives, impossible to resist. Presidents and prime ministers were now their audience. Further, the names in the CRU documents comprise a suprisingly small group – maybe 50 persons, the power elite of climatology.

    Their emails depict a world misled by false prophets, in sore need of guidance: “I trust that history will give us all proper credit for what we’re doing here.” As good shepherds, they sought to keep control of the IPCC process, which – as ferocious turf warriors – they intuited to be of supreme strategic importance. If, to control the IPCC, journal editors must be purged, or the peer review process corrupted – well, the moral imperative trumped such quibbles. Critics were unscientific barbarians, whom one wishes to pummel and in whose death one rejoices. They must be denied data at all costs.

    The CRU group perpetrated fraud and abuses in perfectly good faith, out of concern for their flock.

  34. Well, this is pretty much complete dreck as are most of the comments. The silver lining? Someone has recognized that the noble cause of CAGW has been corrupted, and just bleeds to get it fixed. Any betting on whether that particular altruistic urge won’t similarly gang agley? The hint at proper education to instill non-pathological altruism is your first clue at long odds.
    ==============

  35. From today’s Wall Street Journal …

    How to Keep Workers Unemployed
    Another 99 weeks of jobless insurance won’t create more jobs.

    Alan Krueger, President Obama’s former chief economist, coauthored a 2008 study reviewing the amount of time that unemployed individuals in different states and countries spent looking for a new job and found, among other things, that “job search is inversely related to the generosity of unemployment benefits.” Other studies have found that laid-off workers ineligible for unemployment benefits spend more time looking for a new job than those who get checks.

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303670804579233913327613176

  36. My contribution to naming the major perpetrators of Pathological altruism would be the so called environmental organisations, ie; Greenpeace WWF , Sierra Club and a whole host of shadowy eco groups who are merely fronts for doing the dirty work for the more prominent eco organisations who don’t want to be seen once again to be getting nasty, down and filthy in some further doubtful and nefarious activities of very doubtful legality.
    All of which are otherwise increasintgly known in some quarters and with considerable justification as the Eco-loons.

    The classic Pathological altruism example of current times is the all out propaganda war being waged by the eco-loon groups such as greenpeace and other so called green groups against the release of Golden Rice varieties.
    Golden rice has genes from corn, one of the world’s largest crops and from a very common soil bacteria which enables Golden Rice varieties to produce Beta carotene which provides the essential vitamin A to rice eaters right across the world.
    Greenpeace and the other eco -loon organisations have fought the release of Golden Rice since it was first developed at the IRI, the International Rice Institute in the Philippines in 2000 solely on the grounds that it was a GMO, a genetically modified organism and therefore was a danger to humanity.
    Despite the total lack of any proven and substantiated evidence at all anywhere that GMO plants and their products have created any semblance of ill health in anybody, the well off western and entirely self centred elitist environmental anti GMO crazies have openly demonstrated a total lack and utter lack of compassion for those less well off than themselves.
    It is a horrifying to those of us who are not imbued with Greenpeaces and the other eco groups totalitarian green dogmatism in that such an unnecessary and completely preventable death toll of around 10 millions of Asians each year, mostly small kids die due to vitamin A deficiency which is an essential vitamin in the operation of the immune system.
    That this preventable death toll is just blithely accepted by greenpeace and across the whole stratum of the eco groups / loons the western MSM and the western political apparatus is truly a blight on the environmental movement for which it and it’s progenitors will one day pay a very hight price indeed .

    To quote from the IRI’s Golden rice project web page
    [ http://www.goldenrice.org/ ]
    “The shocking fact is that, far from reaching the envisaged Millenium Development Goals, more than 10 million children under the age of five are still dying every year. A high proportion of those children die victims of common diseases that could be prevented through a better nutrition. This number has been equated with a ‘Nutritional Holocaust’ . It is unfortunate that the world is not embracing more readily a number of approaches wih the potential to substantially reduce the number of deaths. It has been calculated that the life of 25 percent of those children could be spared by providing them with diets that included crops biofortified with provitamin A (beta-carotene) and zinc. Golden Rice is such a biofortified crop. Those involved in the project are hopeful that in a near future Golden Rice will be growing in farmers’ fields and helping to improve the diets of millions of people.”
    [ end quote]

    Even if we only took a quarter of those deaths, about 2.5 million preventable deaths per year as due to immune system failures due to the lack of Vitamin A at sufficient levels then since Golden rice was first developed in 2000 and since greenpeace and the other rabid anti GMO eco-loon environmental groups used every weapon they had to prevent the release of Golden rice, that still gives a figure over the last dozen years of at least 30 million preventable deaths and probably at least double that let alone the suffering from ill health associated with a poor immune system amongst the rest of the rice eating Asian population.

    And even that pales somewhat against the estimated 40 to 50 million deaths that have been attributed to Greenpeace’s and the WWF ‘s efforts to ban DDT starting in the early 1970′s .
    DDT was banned purely on the grounds that it was making raptor’s egg shells very thin leading to the shells breaking and the death of the forming chicks inside of the eggs.
    Reality was that the greenpeace and environmental activists were regularly climbing to inspect the raptors eggs to verify their claims and as anybody who knows anything about wild life can tell you, regularly disturbing a wild nesting bird creates great stress in that pair of birds which in turn leads to thin egg shells and the consequent much higher death rate of the chicks.
    For that, according to UN estimates, some 40 to 50 million people died over the next 40 years, quite preventable deaths from the resurgence of malaria due to DDT being banned as a result of pressure from greenpeace and other environmental activist organisations.

    It could quite easily be claimed and proven that greenpeace, the WWF and other environmental activist organisations have over the last 45 years become the greatest mass killers in human history with between some 70 to 90 million preventable deaths occurring due to their bans and activities .
    That is far from the end of the list when we take the banning of dams, the attempts to destroy the fossil fueled energy industry and foist the totally useless, immensely costly wind and solar energy systems onto society despite immense amounts of data showing that there is no benefit of any sort in using these highly inefficient sources of energy to reduce CO2.

    The consequence of the enviro’s influences on governmental policy here is some tens of thousands of preventable deaths across Europe amongst the poor and elderly each year due to hypothermia.
    They can no longer afford the cost of wind and solar energy so they are forced to and have to choose between heat or eat.
    Consequently preventable deaths from hypothermia in the UK and in Germany and no doubt in many other european countries is now rising into the tens of thousands each year during the run of recent bitter European winters with more to come if the severe winter forecasts are right.

    All due entirely to, as the paper heading this post describes it, the classic examples of “Pathological altruism” by the so called western elitist based environmental organisations , the killer eco-loons of our western society who have become the responsible agents for policies which are increasingly becoming the greatest destroyers of human life this planet has ever seen .

    All because they, the Greenpeaces and WWF’s of this world are the prime progenitors of a movement which at it’s core is a practitioner of the worst and most deadly aspects of Pathological altruism .

    • Thank you ROM.

      It is about time that people begin ‘belaboring the obvious’. One can only hope that the practice spreads.

    • “And even that pales somewhat against the estimated 40 to 50 million deaths that have been attributed to Greenpeace’s and the WWF ‘s efforts to ban DDT starting in the early 1970′s .”

      You’ll be happy to hear that that claim is pure myth, invented by right-wing fanatics and without any basis in fact.

      Also, a putting a space before a period is wrong.

      Have a nice day!

    • ROM

      +100

      Excellent summary.

      At some point “pathological altruism” morphs into “pathological self-interest”

      Max

    • “It could quite easily be claimed and proven that greenpeace, the WWF and other environmental activist organisations have over the last 45 years become the greatest mass killers in human history with between some 70 to 90 million preventable deaths occurring due to their bans and activities ” – ROM

      Pure nutjobbery.

  37. Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
    — Justice Louis Brandeis
    Olmstead v. United States,
    277 U.S. 479 (1928)

    Quoted by Milton and Rose Friedman in Free to Choose.

    Olmstead v. United States was about wiretaps in a prohibition case. Altruism at its “best.”

    • When they pass that law that requires liberals to read Thomas Sowell, they need to include a paragraph that makes it illegal for Milton Friedman to quote Louis Brandies.

    • Mr. Olmstead spent his 4 year prison sentence at the McNeil Island Correctional Institute. He then became a carpenter. On December 25, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt granted him a full presidential pardon. Besides restoring his constitutional rights, the pardon remitted him $10,300 dollars in costs (about $175,400 in today’s dollars).[1] Eventually, Mr. Olmstead became a well-known, full-time Christian Science practitioner, who also worked with prison inmates on an anti-alcoholism agenda for decades until his death in 1966 at the age of 79.

      I wonder where old Milty would have stood on this, Taft versus Brandies, and later FDR? Lol. Taft and the clink for old Olmstead. Ain’t not much doubt.

    • One carbon bad, two carbon good.
      ===========

  38. It is interesting that the pointy ends of the ‘Stop Demon CO2′ and ‘Sustainability At All Costs’ pyramids are essentially congruent. Individuals and organizations. It is also interesting that the progressive/socialist/marxist/communist/euphemism du jour subsets of all western governments invariably support both crusades.

    In discussing the pros and cons of reducing our CO2 signature by 90+%, it may be a good idea to keep in mind the almost complete overlap of the CAGW and Sustainability priesthoods. And that the Sustainability denomination requires that the population of the Earth be reduced to between .5 and 1.5 billion.

  39. Small government, like we used to have 80 or so years ago. My father was the last of 5 children. He was born in 1919. Four months before his birth his father died of the swine flu. His mother was blind, widowed, and had five kids to raise.

    The neighbors wanted her farm. Soon the local government responded to their wishes and came to take away her kids. No doubt, an efficient solution.

    Great system that small government. Not corrupt at all. Would never dream of picking winners and losers.

    • My paternal grandfather was sold as a child and my maternal grandfather was the last of the line as all his uncles died in WWI.

  40. Time to drag out the old brick: The Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions.

    Also note that the road to Heaven is similarly paved.
    ==========

    • @kim:

      “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

      My view: Don’t even think of forgiving them, because they know EXACTLY what they do, are ecstatic with the results so far, and are in the process of ‘doubling down’ with a deluge of executive orders and regulatory fiats, with no chance of the legislature applying the ‘brakes’.

    • Oh, sure; draw, quarter, behead, burn, then forgive. It’s old school.
      ================

  41. Ayn Rand certainly gave all she had to promote humanism over the pathology of political correctness aka pathological altrism. A system built on anything other the necessity to choose rational self-interest is either a monarchy, a despotism or a nihilism. The essence of individual freedom is being able to choose, not be given a choice by someone else. The uniqueness of the N. American experience is that the system is based on inalienable rights of all men, given to them by their creator and guaranteed to them by a piece of paper, a contract, not given and guaranteed by other men. That is why the Leftist must deny human nature, deny faith and destroy the Constitution.

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      Waggy opined:

      “That is why the Leftist must deny human nature, deny faith and destroy the Constitution.”
      _____
      What is human nature if not: Bellum omnium contra omnes

      What is there to deny in this?

      What is faith but the belief or conviction in things unseen and in this regard, completely opposed to skepticism?

      What is the U.S. Constitution but the way that one group of humans would interpret as one way to bring individual freedom to the masses? The power of the Constitution rests not in what is was, but as a non-static living document with the ability to be amended over the ages, as freedom and liberty and protections are extended to be ever more inclusive.

      • Yes, liberal fascism is the reason the global warming debate goes on. It’s the only reason.

        AGW has long since ceased being about scientific discovery. It’s all about politics. That’s why we now see global warming playing itself out as a Democrat v. Republican issue.

        Global warming alarmism showcases the self-defeating and anti-American intolerance that is symbolic of the tyranny of the Left. Americans have many rights: some are specifically enumerated and some are acknowledged to have been granted to all of humanity by God, a Judeo/Christian God—i.e., human rights that are personal to free individuals that cannot be diminished by contractual fiat.

        Additionally, Americans have many other rights —penumbral rights emanating from the Constitution – rights that are not specifically enumerated but are nonetheless fundamental to the American experience. These rights are what the Leftist-libs would destroy from within and from without.

        The Leftist-libs would use their democratic freedom to deprive others of theirs: using the democratic process to prevent others from employing their own mental, physical and psychic vitality as their own personal and individual interest shall dictate. The Leftist-libs’ undermining of personal and individual freedom is Liberal Fascism.

        ________________

    • Humanism, and Ayn Rand’s version of elitist self absorption, are as sure a way to tyranny as any other.

      Pure unbridled selfishness is not the basis for a free market. The world had all kinds of markets through history that were governed by the selfish interests of the traders.

      It was the Judeo-Christian ethic, with its emphasis on integrity, and the common good, that gave rise to, and allowed the flourishing of, the free market in the west.

      Free markets require laws and regulations to work. The only reason any democratic government would enact such laws would be that the voters in that country see the system as providing the best opportunity for the populace in general to thrive.

      And humanism is as sure a path to tyranny as any other. In fact, it is the philosophy of choice of the left. It is the underlying assumption of populist demagogues everywhere. It places the needs and wants of the individual over any other, particularly moral or spiritual, standard. “Free” healthcare and education over liberty. “Fair” redistribution of wealth over a free market system that created the richest, most powerful, most generous, most just system in the history of mankind.

      That is why the “principles” of the left are so amorphous. “Fairness” and “for the children” are both contentless terms, and are central to the “humanist” appeal to selfishness.

      I suspect libertarians would not fare too well in the type of world they claim to want so badly.

    • GaryM said in his post on December 10, 2013 at 9:22 pm

      “Free markets require laws and regulations to work.”
      _______

      Let’ s call a spade a spade. A regulated market is not a free market, it’s a regulated market.

      You may see the “free market” as a contest between players, similar to a football game, where the playing field is level and rules are enforced by referees. I see it more as a free-for-all, a riot.

    • Max_OK,

      The fact that you are an economic illiterate does not mean everyone else has to be.

      Pop quiz – name one “free market”, as you have defined it, that ever existed, anywhere, at any time in human history? (And your fevered imagination does not count.)

    • > Pop quiz – name one “free market”, as you have defined it, that ever existed, anywhere, at any time in human history?

      Hence the myth, e.g.:

      More than 12 million hits for “myth of the free market” on G.

    • True, free markets always have regulations to keep them from doing stupid things, like pollution controls, product safety, worker safety rules, worker pay rules, anti-monopoly rules, anti-price-fixing rules. Left to itself, all this is out of the window in a free market. We need regulations to protect the workers, consumers, and the ecology in general. I see no problem with a “free” but regulated market, where they can play within the rules. Who sets the rules? Not the corporations, for sure.

    • GaryM, I don’t have to go back in history to find a free market , meaning one that’s unregulated. The meth market is unregulated. It’s a free-for-all.

      Of course, going back in history, we find Native Americans had an unregulated market. The Vikings did too. Going back even farther, the Neanderthals had an unregulated market.

      I think you are at a disadvantage when discussing economics because your brain is all clogged up with theory, and you seem to lack business sense.

    • I misspoke about Neanderthals. The free market may finished them off, but their Homo Saipien neighbors had a free market. The Neanderthals, however, were free to have a free market. They just didn’t know how to make it work.

      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn7221-free-trade-may-have-finished-off-neanderthals.html#.UqflhGRDt9E

    • I know it will come as a shock to all you default progressives, who don’t understand capitalism any more than you do your beloved progressivism, but there is a whole world between the caricature of capitalism and the free market that you have been taught, and the fascist/crony capitalist/third way statism you think is the alternative.

    • Gary,

      Nice evasion.

    • OK, this is a climate blog, not an economics symposium. So last comment.

      Trade, even when labeled “free trade”, is not what is meant by a free market in modern economics. There has always been trade. There has always been trade where there were no governments. The absence of a regulatory state does not make a free market. In fact, a free market cannot exist without certain regulations.

      Currency, weights and measures, laws governing enforcement of contracts, are all prerequisites, Without them, you have the Hobbesian anarchy that the drone progressives around here mistakenly equate with a free market.

      By definition, a free market is one where price is set by competition without interference of the state. Where there is no rule of law, competition is by no means even the primary factor in setting price.

      It isn’t what progressives don’t know that is so hilarious, it is what they think they know that just ain’t so.

    • Wagathon for the win!

      Wags always wins. And as good as Gary is, and he is freakin’ great, he always comes in second.

    • Max_ok, I don’t know what “free market” means. I take the use of the phrase as a dead giveaway of… something.

    • I get it now. When GaryM says “free market” he doesn’t mean a free free market. He means a “more free than not market” or a “mostly free market” or something in between.

      I believe we had a GaryM free market back in late 19th Century. Those were the Golden Days of Capitalism when true capitalists like Carnegie and Rockefeller monopolized entire industries.

      • If the market is monopolized, it is not free. The “Free” part refers to the buyers and sellers being allowed to set prices between each other, without outside control. In a monopoly, the buyer has no say in the price. Just as in a monopsony, the seller does not.

    • Max, try it this way: you said you think the meth market is “free”. What happens when a supplier provides less than the agreed upon amount of meth? What happens when a new methman an opens shop in someone else’s territory?
      Ask yourself again if there are any regulations in meth.
      Government is a social compact- you agree to appoint someone to make sure my coffee cup has 8 ounces in it and I agree not to smack the barista if she shorts me.

  42. Well, shinola; herd benefit feedsback to individual benefit anyway, so the whole thing is an artificial construct. Anthropomorphic, anyone? Better, Anthropogenically Artificial Construct.

    Do as a rational being would do to a rational being. It’s not that hard.
    ===============

  43. Well, I still think this article is dreck and most of the comments the same, and now most of the comments are mine!
    ==============

  44. Reblogged this on evilincandescentbulb and commented:

    The political correctness of cash for clunkers altruism is no way to run a railroad… or a country or a society. Individual liberty trumps increasing federal government and also local politics that are dominated by a democracy that is motivated by taking from someone else at the point of a ballot.

    The Left nurses its hypocrisy like blowing hot breath across the brim of a hot mug of tea to make it drinkable; we have seen socialist economics. The Left swoons for chaos to keep eyes off the cause.

    I do not know if it easy or hard to separate Rand’s metaphysics of the superiority of individual over the collective from her description of a socio-economic system based on the freedom to pursue self-interest. Some may not be wired to think in those terms… just as people raised in a Western democratic society will have difficulty understanding why a Palestinian parent would celebrate a child blowing up in a Jewish café.

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      Waggy said:
      “I do not know if it easy or hard to separate Rand’s metaphysics of the superiority of individual over the collective from her description of a socio-economic system based on the freedom to pursue self-interest. Some may not be wired to think in those terms… just as people raised in a Western democratic society will have difficulty understanding why a Palestinian parent would celebrate a child blowing up in a Jewish café.”
      ____
      I think that was a most appropriate example when trying to find something to compare Rand’s metaphysics to. Congratulations for that analogy.

    • I tried. All I could come up with is Palestinians read Ayn Rand must be extremely opposed to kibbutzim, but hey, I’m a cowboy.

    • R. Gates,

      Come on, it’s not like Rand ever wrote a book where the protagonist blows up someone else’s property.

      Oh wait…

  45. The point is not that altruism is bad, it is that blind altruism (in which you don’t bother to think it through) is bad. Just because you have noble intentions does not mean that the results of your actions or policies will have the intended outcome. Windmills (good) kill eagles bats etc (bad). CFLs save energy (good) but cost more (bad) and contain mercury (bad). Stopping forest fires is good but may lead to bigger fires in future (bad). Some tradeoffs can’t be avoided, but it does not excuse the failure to even consider that such tradeoffs exist. The big problem is that many policies/laws are put in place because they feel good, with no concern for efficacy, outcomes, cost, or whether they are even possible. Europe has a privacy law which requires that if asked all traces of a reference to a person (let us say an insult) be removed from the internet, a noble idea but not even possible.

    • Great points.

      I wonder if anyone can identify even one “climate change” inspired law or policy that is not simply a feel good measure.

    • > The point is not that altruism is bad, it is that blind altruism (in which you don’t bother to think it through) is bad.

      One might as well say that only true Scot altruism is bad.

      That ought to set us on empirical grounds.

  46. Consider the possibly more important point ==> What does Pathological Altruism do to a scientific field, once it gets rolling? How many Climate Scientists are now willing to come out with contrary findings on CO2 Induced Climate Change? Even those that find a slightly contrary conclusion find it necessary to add in the obligatory line “Our findings do not mean that global warming is not happening or that it is not dangerous….”.

    The Altruistic nature of the current consensus position in CliSci prevents, almost exclusively, any research or findings that stray very far from that position.

    To me, that is the real harm — not the harm foreseen from possible policy implementation — the stifling of the science itself, so that it becomes nearly impossible for the field to self-correct.

    • The PURPOSE of Climate Science is to establish and reinforce the belief that ACO2 is causing AGW and that the result will be CAGW unless political action is taken immediately to control ACO2 via the regulation and taxing of ‘carbon signatures’. A cursory review of the media coverage of the subject and the educational curricula at all levels will show that they have succeeded beyond the wildest nightmares of those interested in actual ‘science’, climate or otherwise.

      So it is understandable that the Climate Science poobah’s get a bit testy when some newly minted PhD naif starts taking the science part of Climate Science seriously by looking at actual climate data and publishing papers suggesting that the sartorial splendor of the ACO2 emperor may be a bit short of splendid.

  47. Walt Allensworth

    As mentioned earlier, the great irony would be that CO2 is stopped, the earth returns to “normal,” that is it plunges back into another glacial phase, and 4-5 BILLION people die because we can’t feed them.

    That would be the pinnacle of Pathological Altruism.

    As far as skeptics being self-centered, and warmists being altruistic, I beg to differ. Behind the warmist agenda is complete political control of all people. They will tax, denigrate, and marginalize the ‘unworthy’ and grant small favors to the masses that support them (free cell-phones). We have already started down this road, and the path is not a noble one. It’s an ego-centric path that is designed to secure and maintain control by “The One Party.”

  48. Here Judith;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_R._Price

    “As part of an attempt to prove his theory right or wrong Price began showing an ever increasing amount (in both quality and quantity) of random kindness to complete strangers. As such Price dedicated the latter part of his life to helping the homeless, often inviting homeless people to live in his house. Sometimes, when the people in his house became a distraction, he slept in his office at the Galton Laboratory. He also gave up everything to help alcoholics, yet as he helped them they stole his belongings causing him to fall into depression.
    He was eventually thrown out of his rented house due to a construction project in the area, which made him unhappy because he could no longer provide housing for the homeless. He moved to various squats in the North London area, and became depressed over Christmas, 1974.
    Death

    Unable to prove his theory right or wrong Price committed suicide on January 6, 1975, using a pair of nail scissors to cut his own carotid artery. His body was identified by his close colleague W.D. Hamilton.Friends said he committed suicide because of despondency over his inability to continue helping the homeless.
    A memorial service was held for Price in Euston. The only persons present from academia were Hamilton and Maynard Smith, the other few mourners being those who had come to know him through his community work. He is buried in an unmarked grave in St Pancras’ Cemetery.

    • The story of George Price — endearing and instructive as it is — tells us nothing about Altruism as a practice or a virtue. It is a fine one-off example of practical Pathological Altruism — but, as such, should not be used as any kind of proof of concept or bludgeon against true altruism.

      Price, more than likely, was what we would today classify as emotionally disturbed — and engaged, and persisted, in a cause, an activity, that was destructive to himself despite the obvious ongoing practical evidence that it was ruining his life and his ability to continue in the practice. It might be classified today as “an addictive destructive behavior”.

      My wife and I spent years in the Dominican Republic heading up an altruistic Humanitarian effort, very carefully crafted and constrained by policies to prevent it from becoming Pathologically Altruistic. Not as easy as one would think. We were often tempted to step outside the box created over many years of practical experience, but every time we approached that point, thinking through to the long term effects brought us back to our senses.

      Here at Climate Etc. I would encourage readers to look at how PA affects the *ongoing research* into climate and its future.

    • Of course Price tells us something about the practice of altruism.
      read harder. think deeper.

    • You are something, Mosher!

    • Outliers are never good examples and are seldom good teaching tools. While all human lives have something to teach us, the emotionally handicapped should not be used as tools to promote or denigrate the activities that they engage in obsessively — because their relationship to the activity seldom mirrors or exemplifies the relationship that the majority of the population has.

      I know many people that have dedicated their lives to helping others and at their own expense. My wife and I did so for the last ten years, just this summer retiring from the field. While they all have made many sacrifices — in time, money, separation from their families, and health — none in our acquaintance lost their perspective on the realities of life and allowed their desire to help — or their actual helping — to destroy them.

      I’ll take my practical experience over words any day.

    • Storyteller Adam Curtis has made a beatiful three part documentary, about strange, ‘rational’, ideas. In part three George Price enters the scene (at around 19:00).
      http://vimeo.com/73561591

  49. There’s a couple sayings that IMO encapsulates this topic:

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions

    The ‘teach a man to fish’ quote is not a Bible verse, it is a Chinese proverb. The full proverb is ‘give a man to fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime.’ The meaning of the proverb is that it is better to teach people to take care of themselves rather than take care of people.

    • Give a man a fire and he is warm for an hour, set him on fire and he is hot for the rest of his life.
      Genghis Khan

  50. Matthew R Marler

    If altruism is self sacrifice, is there any of that in the global warming movement? What we see are a lot of calls for sacrifice and transfer of wealth by others, as well as the claim that long-term benefits (e.g. protection of low-lying cities) outweigh the shorter term costs (giving up fossil fuels.)

    • We also see a lot of rent-seekers, as ex-Aussie PM John Howard described very well recently at the GWPF in London. The altruistic rent-seeker?

    • They sacrificed their credibility.

    • Matt Stat, “If altruism is self sacrifice,” Right Pathological Altruism is the psychotic desire for shared sacrifice. Kinda like Scaredicrat logic where they are going to give their all to help people even if it kills them, the people they want to help that is.

      Scaredicrats love the cigarette tax because they are helping people by giving them the choice between not smoking for their own good or going into poverty. Wear your seat belts for your own good or they make driving excessively expensive. You can build your coal plants but we will bankrupt you. Get health insurance or we will bankrupt you. Clean up your industry or we will bankrupt you. Just a continuous series of threats to conform to their ideal or face bankruptcy. It is all perfectly fine though because it is all done for the greater good and statistically sound because they know their statistics.

      Bill Clinton is on a new tear to save all the teens dying from prescription drug over doses. The number of “overdoses” for the 15-19 age group leaped by 91% according to the CDC. That huge jump from 1.7 to 3.3 per 100,000 was most likely due to classification. Instead of taking mom’s happy pills to commit or at least attempt suicide, 12.1 per 100,000 the deaths were classified as “poisoning” and moved to unintentional deaths.

      You would not believe how much of a problem that has added to pain management for people in actual pain. It is all for a cause though because the study was reported in the “times”.

      • You would not believe how much of a problem that has added to pain management for people in actual pain.

        And at a time when the cost of healthcare is a big issue, how much it increases costs (3x).

    • MiCro, One local doctor cost per visit more than doubled and because of the new restrictions you have to make twice as many visits with no over the phone refills. That is closer to 5x

    • Mi Cro, Sucks don’t it? At least you can get them . I just had an as needed script. I felt fine for a year and didn’t refill now I can’t get any for it looks like two months until they redo a crap load of tests they have already done. It is kind of funny, I tell them my leg is screwed up, they make me make two trips to Miami so the specialists ca say my leg is screwed up, then I have to take some psychological profile because they think I am depressed because I can’t walk very good.

      “Hell yeah I am depressed and frustrated with dealing with a broke system!!” “Give me some friggin’ pain meds and I will smile all over hell a back for ya!”

    • My mother had arthritic fingers and couldn’t remove some of the child-proof safety caps from her arthritis medications; she would get the grandchildren to help.

    • David Springer

      I asked my wife to pick up some Alleve for me. She came back with the 200 count arthritis size and commented about me getting old. It has a big rubber-rimmed cap bigger than a silver dollar and is not child proof. I think you can get the cap off by twisting it up into loose clothing. That cap kind of grips whatever it can without much help.

  51. Svend Ferdinandsen

    An odd but real example is the police officer that shoots a man dead, to stop him from committing suicide.

    Matthew R Marler has a good point. Is that called altruism by proxie?

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      Do you have a link for this actually happening in real life? Not that it couldn’t happen, but I’ve never heard of it. Most police officers are trained to avoid making the kind of choice you describe. Unless the suicidal person is an immediate threat to someone else– they would not be shot just for trying to kill themselves.

    • John Carpenter

      R Gates, if the man were a suicide bomber it probably makes sense and has probably happened.

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      John,

      True enough…but a suicide bomber means to kill more than himself/herself. These kinds of people don’t need a talking to, but simple extermination.

    • Heh, so give 10,000 dollars to each family, eh? Sounds sorta altruistic.
      ===========

    • Svend Ferdinandsen

      It took a while to find the accident from 2006:
      http://politiken.dk/indland/ECE149634/politi-boer-bruge-skum-mod-psykisk-syge/
      It is in danish:
      Ville forhindre selvmord
      Statsadvokaten for Sjælland har netop fastslået, at der ikke er grund til at kritisere den kvindelige politiassistent eller politiet i øvrigt.
      Hun affyrede sit våben for at hindre den syge mand i at begå selvmord.
      Da hun skød, havde han snittet og skåret sig talrige gange.
      Men projektilerne rev pulsårerne over i begge ben, og han døde af forblødning.

      The man had cut himself several times and she would stop him from suicide. He died of the wounds.

    • Gates, I can’t cite sources, but there have been several such instances in Australia, where mentally unstable people who have harmed or might harm themselves have been shot by police. Excessive force has been common, people have died after being repeatedly tasered while lying helpless on the floor.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Aside from a cop using excessive force (which does happen), I can only see two reasons a could would shoot someone to stop them from committing suicide: 1) The person was a danger to others. 2) The cop hoped by shooting the person, they’d prevent the person from dying.

      The former is obviously understandable (such as the suicide bomber example). The latter is more iffy. I can see a cop thinking if he shoots a person in the arm, the person might drop a gun they were going to use to kill themselves. The hope would be the damage from the bullet would be less than whatever damage was prevented. I just don’t know how one makes that call. When do you decide shooting the person is the best thing you can do for them?

  52. This seems to me to be a form of “noble cause corruption” or perhaps even “the end justifies the means”.

    Another I can think of is “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” which is expanded upon by Aldous Huxley: “Hell isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it is walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.”

    As for climate science, I can think of the analogy of a police officer who knows an offender is guilty but also knows there is not enough evidence for conviction and so “makes it right” somehow. That’s the overall vibe I got from the Climategate emails.

  53. The good news: Having read Dr. Curry’s blog for some years, I have noticed that there seems to be a gradual shift toward dominance by the sane. Examples (from today’s topic), but obviously not an exhaustive list, would include Jim Cripwell, Matthew R Marler, Mil Cro, Walt Allensworth, Kip Hansen, timg56, Craig Loehle, kim, Wagathon, ROM, and others.

    The bad news: The outbreak of sanity seems confined to a this and maybe a small number of other blogs; there is NO evidence that it has ‘leaked out’ into the body politic in any meaningful way. The media–every form, academia (including an overwhelming percentage of the students who matriculated since the late ’90′s), and government at every level of every department, federal, state, and local are still solidly on board with CAGW and the need for a comprehensive ‘climate change policy’ based on taxes on carbon signatures, regulation of carbon signatures, and income redistribution as reparation for damages caused by historic carbon signatures. And it looks like we are going to have one, data be damned.

    • If what you write is really true this site must be evolving towards an internal playground of the faithful.

    • Bob, Thanks for the compliment. However, what I write is quite unimportant. What our hostess writes matters a great deal more. So, I think following what Judith has written over the years that CE has existed, is much more informative than what anyone else has written.

    • you realize that “kim” is a chat bot that I created. It’s not a real human.
      The fact that you mistake the output of an algorithm for “sanity” should call into question your ability to discern real intelligence.

    • I agree. I don’t recall if it was you or someone else who posted on an earlier thread how this cancer has fully metastasized into every corner of our society. Very few people outside of the climate blogs pay any attention to climate change other than what little info they may pick up from the media be it TV or print, to some more indepth source like documentaries on History/Discovery/National Geographic. Almost 100%, if not fully 100% of these sources have adopted the meme of AGW to the point that the overwhelming majority of people, at least in the US, think that AGW is real and is a problem, and it does not matter if they are conservative or liberal. The unfortunate result is that this majority have become the useful idiots who are enabling our political leaders to enact damaging policies to satisfy altruistic needs.

      Remember, “Under my watch, energy prices will necessarily skyrocket…” This from that most altruistic leader of all fixing our healthcare system while solving climate change, and assuring us that the seas will recede.

    • “Having read Dr. Curry’s blog for some years, I have noticed that there seems to be a gradual shift toward dominance by the sane. Examples (from today’s topic), but obviously not an exhaustive list, would include Jim Cripwell, Matthew R Marler, Mil Cro, Walt Allensworth, Kip Hansen, timg56, Craig Loehle, kim, Wagathon, ROM, and others.”

      The economists have a principle that describes this “Bad money drives out good.”

      The hysterical, offensive, logic-free ranting of the science deniers you list will tend to repel intelligent people from participating.

      • The hysterical, offensive, logic-free ranting of the science deniers you list will tend to repel intelligent people from participating.

        I am and do none of this. However the level and amount of insults I receive from your side is repelling. So, take your own advise and stop being offensive to everyone who doesn’t agree with you.

    • @Robert Spot on. Most of the sane have given up trying to talk to the ‘denizens’.

      I nearly used a few alternate words to describe the habitual posters but couldn’t come up with anything that would pass moderation.

    • Walt Allensworth

      Thank you for the kind words Bob.

      I agree with others who have said that what Judith thinks is more important.
      Her opinion is certain to have far more influence than mine.

      I am a credit-less flat-earth Denier! Schooled only as a humble physicist and not of the one science, Climate Science. (sound of angels singing in the background) I am worthy only of being branded on the forehead, my riches forfeit, and shunned for eternity. ;-o /sarcoff

      Interestingly, I must credit Al Gore for showing me the light. I voted for him to be president. Clinton too (first time, anyhoo). However, I watched “An Inconvenient Truth” and walked away feeling betrayed. Brings to mind the phrase “you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” The depth and breadth of the snake oil was laid bare for all to see right there in the very work that was supposed to convince me of the exact opposite. Irony, eh?

      As a compassionate conservative, and a thoughtful environmentalist I can only hope and pray that in the long term we can somehow keep this planet warm. We don’t have the foggiest idea what triggers the violent and rapid transition between glacial and interglacial periods. What IS clear is that in the long-view, 90% of the time this planet is in an ice-age and there’s a mile of ice laying over New York state. Not all that conducive for growing grapes. Will an icy earth support a population of 10-20 billion? I think not. If CO2 is the thing that will prevent the next ice age, which is currently knocking on our door, then I say burn, baby, burn! (in the most environmentally clean way possible, of course). If not, then we’d better spend some serious money elsewhere and figure out how to stop the next ice age… we’re overdue.

      So color me an altruistic CAGW Denier that is thinking of what is best for our future generations… a warmer wetter climate, with lots of wonderful CO2 in the air to fertilize our crops for free.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Bob Ludwick, thank you for your kind words, but about the following I must disagree: The outbreak of sanity seems confined to a this and maybe a small number of other blogs; there is NO evidence that it has ‘leaked out’ into the body politic in any meaningful way.

      Without making an exhaustive list, I think there is sanity in many places. I must add WebHubTelescope to your list, because I spar with him over technical matters.

    • Robert,

      Once again – what exactly is it I’m denying?

      How does one “deny” what hasn’t been proven to exist? Namely the claims that a warmer world will be disasterous.

      The world is warming. There certainly appears to be a human component involved. So what? The lack of evidence supporting the catastrophic future meme is so great the proponents of immediate action have devolved into tagging every weather event as extreme and claiming it is either a result of “climate change” or is certain to occur more frequently due to climate change.

    • “The economists have a principle that describes this “Bad money drives out good.”

      Its been interesting watching climate blogs grow and change. those that stay more dedicated to the science dont grow.

    • > you realize that “kim” is a chat bot that I created.

      Really?

      That ought to render bender jealous.

    • Pekka, one cannot help note your movement from dyed in the wool cAGW siren towards a lukewarm position. You are going to end up with 1.8 degrees for 2x[CO2] any time now.

    • David Springer

      Steven Mosher | December 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm |

      “you realize that “kim” is a chat bot that I created. It’s not a real human.
      The fact that you mistake the output of an algorithm for “sanity” should call into question your ability to discern real intelligence.”

      That’s impressive. I wondered how long it would take for someone to pick up Eliza again. I think I still got her on floppy from the early 1980′s. Does she sag much now? So do the letters K-I-M stand for anything in particular?

    • willard,

      yes. Just ask kim, it will tell you who programmed it. it’s programmed to.
      then again, it may deny that its a bot. its programmed to do that as well.

      bender. bender sits by the pool sipping whisky and having his feet rubbed
      while I do all the work.

    • Doc,

      Perhaps you tell only about the change in your impression, which may have been biased before, and which may have a different bias now.

      I don’t believe that my views have changed much, and I believe the evidence can be easily found on the net.

      I have certainly learned quite a lot about the climate science itself, but not something that would have changed my basic attitudes much. Up to a couple of years ago I had not looked so much at the details of atmospheric sciences, but I had worked on related economic and energy system issues since 1990s. I do still think that the largest uncertainties are in these areas.

    • Are you my Mommy?
      =============

    • Can you elaborate Mosher, you had stated kim was a “bot” some time ago

    • Mosher created the kimbot while running the Defense Department and State Department in the 80s.

    • “Are you my Mommy?” kim, am I over-interpreting, or was that the phrase used by a Philip K Dick robot disguised as an orphaned child? Maybe in “Second Variety,” but I think elsewhere? Read a long time ago.

      Perhaps it’s just a gender-blind response to Mosh.

    • Well now I am wondering if the are having a “bot” to crack off one liners for “Family Guy”

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Don’t listen to him. He didn’t program kim. kim is a real person. I know because kim programmed me.

  54. Pathological Altruism:

    I’ve never heard of this term before, but as far as I know the concept is not at all new to folks such as anthropologists and other disciplines engaged on cultural evolution. As a characteristic arising out of our deep evolutionary past, in humans altruism is much more than a surface social choice and is supported via fundamental and co-evolved gene and cultural mechanisms. The concept of *net* benefits (i.e. some ups and some downs with the former winning out) to the social co-operation required for altruism, is I believe well known. Religions provide a mainstream example. On the up-side for instance, they may well have provided the level of social co-operation that triggered the arisal of civilisations, but clearly come with downsides too. Some individual cultural entities can essentially be net negative; in a parasitical manner they are leveraging the mechanisms that exist to support altruism. However, as long as the overall benefits across humanity exceed the negatives (it is proposed that they do by a wide margin; humanity seems to be pretty successful), then the downsides are just a price we’ve had to pay. But that doesn’t mean we’ll always have to pay. Understanding *how* negative societal trends leverage the co-operative mechanisms supporting altruism, would allow us to put in place safegaurds to prevent or minimise this possibility. Signalling, for us essentially social narratives carrying messages that push psychological hot-buttons, are the means by which the social co-operation is accomplished. I mention ‘co-evolution’ above because these narratives have (Darwinian) developmental tracjectories that are independent of the (many) individuals (often spanning generations) who act as their hosts. Social alignment to these narratives is essentially a spin-off characteristic of the spread of the more successful ones (many narratives compete), which is an evolutionary advantage only in the sense of *net* benefit. This is common to pretty much all human social interaction, but to look at specific examples like religion or CAGW, then it is not so hard to spot the narratives that push the psychological hot-buttons. E.g. Personal salvation in religion; salvation substitutes in CAGW such as saving the planet or saving your grand-children. Nationalism offers a nice example because one can see how this benefits a nation in time of war or national hardship, serving to galvanise folks, yet can be parasitically leveraged by social entities or even individuals (tyrants) at other times. The high moral ground of (apparantly) helping others is a pyschological very-hot-button which is intended to foster core altruism; we are primed to appreciate and support narratives which push that button. However, bear in mind that negative narratives (I’ll call these loosely, ‘not connected to reality’, hence having potentially very negative consequences) may survive and spread by leveraging this hot-button *better* than a positive narrative (which I’ll call loosely, ‘in tune with reality’, hence likely to benefit those who take the narrative onboard). In a complex topic with major uncertainty, such as CAGW, most folks react to the hot-buttons in the absence of other solid registration (across all narratives, this includes all of us, certainly me, certainly scientists too). A negative narrative of this type will directly cause pathological altruism as mentioned in the head post; and the rampant spread of various negative narratives of this sort within the overall context of the main CAGW theme, is plain to see. Endless folks are saving us from frying, saving our children, saving us from technology, saving us from fossil fuel addiction, saving us from you-name-it; they are all, apparently saving us, helping us. The NGOs like WWF and Greenpeace are major narrative engines that seem to have fallen into causing some harm while supposedly serving the best interests of the community and the environment. They are slaves of their own narratives. Combating such negative narratives is not easy. Flat facts will eventually (it may take a long time!) strangle arbitrarily evolving narratives, denying them the room to evolve; the sceptics’ determined concentration on science not policy, plus scrupulous audit, is hence a good tactic in this respect. Another option is a counter-narrative, but therein lies danger; narratives have a habit of slipping the leash…

  55. Wagathon wrote:
    “That is why the Leftist must deny human nature, deny faith and destroy the Constitution.”
    There is no denial of human nature. There is denial that YOUR nature is human (considered here as the root word of “humanity.”) You will not believe that others are capable of compassion and humility because you are incapable of these virtues yourself. Convincing you would be like trying to describe color to someone born blind.

  56. Here’s a thought: what if we decided to help ‘the indoctrinated’? At what point does this become pathological?

  57. Pathological altruism – when I need YOUR money for MY cause, regardless of any specific benefit or performance requirement

  58. “any scientist who uses the word ‘denier’ is likely to suffer from altruism bias”

    Or perhaps they are simply using an accurate and widely accepted term for those who practice science denial . . . posts here were better back when you developed your own ideas, rather than grabbing at someone else’s bright and shiny thought and trying (often awkwardly, as in this case) to turn it against normal scientists.

    • no one denies ‘science’. science is a process.

    • There are plenty here who deny science as a process as well as denying the outputs of that science. I get the impression that most of them are stuck in the ‘bullying the geek as they’re cleverer than them’ high school mode.

    • by science denial, you mean Hansen, Mann, Trenberth, Jones, etc. Correct?

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      Judith said:

      “no one denies ‘science’. science is a process.”
      ____
      There are plenty of people who deny the validity of the process of science, but those people are not the same people commonly called “deniers”.

      A perfect example of those who deny the process of science would be those who refuse to allow their child medical treatment out of religious conviction. The nexus of faith vs. the process of science can be quite messy.

    • Gates, religious avoidance of medical care is a weird example. There are groups that do not deny that medical science can’t cure this or that, it is just that part of their religion requires they shouldn’t be treated for this or that. If you get cancer for example your time has come why would anyone want to resist the next step? Death is just the conclusion of one part of life. So they don’t “Deny” science really they just refused medical treatment. Kind of like a perpetual DNR.

    • back when you developed your own ideas

      Unless you do the exact same thing as the warmist crowd, you are ignored or insulted, or both.

    • Robert | December 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Reply

      blah blah blah … bright and shiny thought and trying (often awkwardly, as in this case) to turn it against post-normal scientists.

      Fixed it for Ya

    • Robert | December 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Reply

      Within the narrative space of the climate debate, the role of the ‘denier’ word is to push psychological hot buttons that in association with other mutually reinforcing and co-evolutionary memes, helps sustain the overall narrative of CAGW (in which the ‘C’ is the ultimately distilled token). It is widely spread because having pushed that hot-button, it gets a high chance at replication. But it has precisely no meaning as a term, let alone an accurate menaing; it is not meant to have meaning it is meant to bypass thought.

      I don’t think I’m liking the phrase pathological altruism too much, simply because it’s too narrow and overlaps with an array of other similarly caused and similar behaviours, such as confirmation bias and motivated reasoning (at least these are mentioned above). Nor do I like ‘suffer from’ too much; it implies an illness. I prefer ‘influence’ or ‘immersion’, and all of us are subject to various such influencing. However, Judith is essentially right; anyone using the ‘denier’ word is almost certainly influenced by the core narratives of CAGW and hence is highly likely to exhibit a whole range of biasses that come with that package.

    • Robert, just exactly what is being denied? That CO2 is a GHG? I don’t think so. That the earth has warmed ~0.8C since the late 1800′s? I don’t think so. That humans can affect climate? I don’t think so. That the deep ocean (below 700 M) is accumulating heat? Maybe, maybe not. That CS is greater than 2? Yes. That the observational evidence in AR5 support its/the CMIP5 models’ TCR ranges? No.
      What do you deny Robert? The misnamed pause? That 2-3C of warming will be beneficial to humans?

    • “….as in this case) to turn it against normal scientists.”

      Love the “normal.” So I’ll bite. What’s your definition of a “normal scientist?”

    • Who decides accurate?. I have a rule for climate scientists. My level of trust of what they have to say is inversely proportional to the level of certainty they express about the future.

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      “Gates, religious avoidance of medical care is a weird example.”
      ___
      Weird? Quite appropriate and right to the point. Religious avoidance is rejection of both the scientific process and all the fruits it might bring. Science is completely not a matter of faith…except perhaps faith in one’s scientific intuition or the process itself.

    • Gates, ” Quite appropriate and right to the point. Religious avoidance is rejection of both the scientific process and all the fruits it might bring. ”

      Right, the christian scientists elect to not partake of medical science but don’t “deny” the science and these guys, http://www.organicconsumers.org/irradlink.cfm want to make sure no one can live in a world without many salmonella outbreaks.

  59. @ Matt Skaggs

    Altruism is the individual act of willingly aiding someone else at some level of harm or inconvenience to yourself. The aidee is in general aware of his problem and is free to accept or reject the aid, as he sees fit. It is to be encouraged and applauded, but not forced by a third party.

    Pathological altruists as described by Andy West above (“Endless folks are saving us from frying, saving our children, saving us from technology, saving us from fossil fuel addiction, saving us from you-name-it; they are all, apparently saving us, helping us.”) are always the third party. The pathological altruists identify OUR problems, proclaim the solutions, and force us to implement the solutions, at our expense and at the point of a gun, if necessary. In the process, they magnanimously accept nominal service charges in the form of filthy lucre, political power over us, and a seemingly endless litany of perks such as travel to exotic locations for conferences, speaking fees, fawning media attention, ad infinitum. In other words, the pathological altruists never do the actual saving; they just identify what WE need to to to be saved and FORCE us to do it. And don’t even think about stiffing them for the service charges.

    • Bob Ludwick

      +100

      Add to this that many “pathological altruists” see this as a religious calling, a “sacred” duty.

      “Good” (their side) versus “evil” (anyone who disagrees with them).

      Makes rational debate based on objective reasoning very difficult.

      Max

  60. Would the Tobacco Institute have been considered pathological altruists or something else?

    • The poor maligned tobacco industry. All they did was to make judgements in how to present data that happened to hide the decline in the life span of smokers.

    • claimsguy

      Would the Tobacco Institute have been considered pathological altruists or something else?

      Nope.

      Try “pathological egoists”.

      Just as bad (but for a different reason).

      Max

    • David Springer

      Tobacco started out innocently enough but after the new deal then lbj’s great society the US federal gov’t created a huge liability as medicine improved and half the old gummers weren’t dying before they became burdens on social security and medicare – the system was never designed for this many people living well past early-mid sixties. Tobacco, the more the merrier, would have been a good hedge against that but nooooooooooooo… all you nanny statists wouldn’t let people choose smoking over an extension on the average lifespan. So here we are… now we have death panels instead of coffin nails. I hope y’all are happy with that.

  61. Dr. Curry, am I allowed to express a humble desire: that we drop these idle and useless philosophical musings and get back to the facts and science of climate ?

    • I think that Dr. Curry has figured out that these aren’t idle or useless musings. Sad to say but there are a lot of less that optimal rationalizations involved in knowing that you can predict the future.

    • Agree with the cap’n

      The Barbara Oakley essay cuts to the heart of the ongoing debate on climate science – and why this debate cannot move forward on a rational basis.

      Max

    • The science is pretty much described; not so sure and don’t know.
      The problem is that based on models, known to be failing to describe temperatures a decade after initiation, we are to completely alter the worlds economy, change international trading rules and cut growth in the worlds economy by a factor of 2; and we can’t have nuclear power to support base load as well.

    • Doc notes the schizophrenia.
      ============

    • ‘Based on models’ Doc??

      What are you smoking?

    • @Jacobress

      The following is strictly an opinion, and as such is probably worth every penny that Dr. Curry is paying me for it.

      These are NOT idle and useless philosophical musings; they are the heart of the controversy about ‘CAGW’ (alternatively, CAGCC).

      Lets establish what we are talking about. First, I don’t know of anyone who has ever posted on this site, on either side of the controversy, that does not accept that the climate has changed, is changing, and will continue to change for the foreseeable future. The only bones of contention are over the existence, magnitude, and (possibly) the sign of the ‘A’, whether or not there is any evidence for the ‘C’ that requires a planetary ‘climate policy’ to control the ‘A’, in every case by controlling ACO2, and the likelihood that the policies being implemented to control the ‘A’ will have a measurable effect on either the ‘GW’ or the ‘GCC”. In the absence of an ‘A’ large enough to force ‘C’ no one, other than the people actually doing the data collection and writing the papers and PhD theses would care a fig about ‘Climate Science’.

      So the denizens here argue. Not over whether humans affect the climate; after all I could make a case that by lighting my grill or driving to town to get ice I have anthropogenically caused the planet to warm, but you would have difficulty convincing me that you could measure the increase or that it was catastrophic. They argue about whether anyone actually understands the climate system well enough to separate the ‘A’ component and the natural component of the continually varying climate and planetary temperature and whether it is likely to be ‘C’ unless action is taken to reduce or eliminate it. One group says that the temperature has risen .7 C (or something) in the last 50 years, we are 97% certain that it was primarily due to ‘A’, and we have to curtail ‘A’ immediately if we don’t want to live like the Venusians. The other side (mine, to be up front) says that the temperature and/or climate is well within the bounds of natural variations over the last few thousand years so why get excited unless it does something out of character?

      As for getting back to the ‘facts’ and ‘science’ of’ climate, it appears to me, not being an actual scientist, that even those are in dispute. As an outsider, I have read here that the actual raw temperature data from many or most of the ground sites have been ‘adjusted’. Why? How was the size of the adjustment determined? I get the impression by reading here, possibly in error, that the adjustments in almost every case resulted in the older temperatures being reduced and/or recent temperatures being raised. Did that affect the slope, magnitude OR sign, of the 19th and 20th temperature trend? All of these things are controversial and are argued here endlessly. The actual science that I see here is for the most part collecting temperature data from ground, ocean, and space sensors, fitting curves to the data using a plethora of magic techniques, and then arguing over the results and their meaning. An example is the recent halt in warming–or not. Dr. Curry’s site is neck deep in PhD’s who apparently, as a group, cannot examine the raw data and come to an agreement over the SLOPE of the trend over the last 15 years or so, never mind what the data reveals re the ‘A’ component of the TOE.

      To me, that is a clear indication that if ACO2 actually HAS an effect on the TOE it is negligible, so we ought to forget about ‘climate change policy’ and do something useful with our time, brainpower, and money. But I am not a scientist of any ilk, so my opinion, whether or not I express it on sites like this, is not likely to have any more impact on ‘climate policy’ than lighting my grill had on the TOE.

      Most of the energy of Real Climate Scientists seems to be expended in defending ACO2 as the ‘knob’ that controls the climate and writing papers used by politicians who want to use the ACO2 control knob as an excuse to control and/or tax everyone’s carbon signature. Precious little is apparently spent in trying to exhaustively list what factors actually influence the climate, rank them in order of influence, determine which ones are predictable and which ones are essentially random, and THEN, based on that information, make a judgment as to whether long term climate models are possible even in theory. In fact, quite the opposite. If anyone has the temerity to suggest that the climate is strongly influenced by anything OTHER than ACO2 he is labeled a ‘denier’ and beaten severely about the head, shoulders, and professional reputation. To me, that seems a bit unscientific, even though the discussion is ostensibly about ‘the facts and science of climate’.

      At any rate, you obviously find subjects like todays to be boring and useless. I think that they are the only really important aspect of ‘climate science’. Were it not for the politics and the policies falling out of ‘climate science’ it would have about as much interest as the spin rate of the next detected pulsar. If it is out of the ordinary, astrophysicists will get all excited; the general populace, not so much.

    • It’s fascinating reading through your “opinion” Bob Ludwick to see just how the cogs of denial operate. Over several leaps of sheer illogical reasoning coupled with ignorance of the science you manage to find the position you wanted to reach in the first place.

    • Bob Ludwick

      I have to disagree with lolwot.

      You’ve summarized the situation quite accurately.

      It’s just that lolwot is stuck in his CAGW paradigm, so he is unable to see it.

      Max

    • Bob, good summation of the position of many who are not convinced of impending doom.

  62. Pingback: The Climate Change Debate Thread - Page 3426

  63. All of public-funded education has become a failed experiment in pathological altruism. California’s dropout factories off definitive proof. Also, the global warming alarmism that is taught in Western schools: it is a cold slap in the face to those who dreamed of overcoming superstition and ignorance through education.

    What we see is that the government-education has been taken over by the Left — they now have the luxury of enjoying the personal and economic freedom of modernity in the relative safety and security of the part of the world they wish to destroy. All of society around them is grounded by ideas and social and cultural conventions that have been thought out, fought out and established over 1,000s of years of human-overcoming of evil and it’s all the same to them that it’s all tossed out without the slightest thought as to the consequences.

    Unfortunately, the Left always feels compelled to trade the perceived evils of that it wishes to disestablish for the evils of liberal fascism and the communist dictator and the emptiness of moral relevancy. The Left feels compelled to destroy America and everything else – capitalism, religious and personal ethics, initiative, responsibility and self-determination — and, for what in return?

    Only when it’s all gone are a few people (e.g., like, Ayn Rand) even capable of understanding was diminished and forever lost was the biggest part of what was indispensable for a meaningful existence. AGW theory is taking comfort in the belief that the Leftists of liberal Utopia can reliably produce an ideal climate by restricting the freedoms of Americans with the passage of totally arbitrary CO2 emissions laws. Rather than offering humanity hope climate alarmists give nothing to society but ill humored dishonesty and an anti-humanist contra-cultural manifesto of nihilism.

  64. I see that those commies at the American Chemical Society are at it again: http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/climatescience/about.html
    I’ll bet all their favorite elements are on the far left side of the periodic table.

  65. I hope their ACS Climate Science Toolkit includes a ‘hockey stick.’

  66. > [A]ny scientist who uses the word ‘denier’ is likely to suffer from altruism bias.

    How so?

    • Ole Willy, think. The answer is in the statement.

    • I beleive a certain Judith Curry has used the word, but the link between that and ‘altrusim bias’ is obscure…and likely to remain so.

      I would like to conclude by noting that Judith means well.

    • Willard

      Logic goes as follows.

      I’m right.

      I know I’m right.

      I know from physical science that AGW will potentially become catastrophic for humanity and our environment unless we all change our ways today.

      So I know that it is best for humanity to immediately embark on a program to drastically reduce our CO2 emissions.

      And not only am I right about the science, I am morally right (i.e. righteous).

      We must be altruistic and make this sacrifice now for the common good – for the welfare of our future grandchildren and their children, indeed, for the very survival of our planet.

      Anyone who does not understand this is in denial of the science, i.e. a “denier” (and is also morally wrong).

    • Michael

      I would like to conclude by noting that Judith means well.

      Not only that, Michael, but she also understood what Barbara Oakley wrote and how it applies to climate science today – which you apparently did not.

      Max

    • Max,

      Yes, Judith has a noble cause.

    • > Logic goes as follows. [Followed by many claims, ending up with the use of the D word.]

      Try the other way around, MiniMax. Start with an agent A’s use of the D word and infer from that this person shows a true Scot altruism, i.e. a pathological one.

      Nice reconstruction, though. It shows that people who believe they’re right can call other people lots of things.

      Does it mean that Judy thinks she’s right when she dogwhistles that Mike suffers from a pathological condition?

      • Does it mean that Judy thinks she’s right when she dogwhistles that Mike suffers from a pathological condition?

        Yes of course she’s right!

    • I’m not asking if Judy’s right, Mi Cro, but if she thinks she is. That’s an important step in MiniMax’ engineer-level formal derivation. Or are you suggesting that the line should read:

      (1) Agent A believes he’s right, but he’s wrong?

      I would welcome this corrigendum.

      Makes the question-begging claim more explicit.

    • Does it mean that Judy is justified to dogwhistle the ascription of a pathological behavior to Mike because she’s really right, Mi Cro?

      How do you know she’s right, BTW?

      And about what?

      Please do continue.

      • How do you know she’s right, BTW?

        I find the empirical data of AGW lacking, and there have been a number of deconstructions of the hockey stick. And Dr Curry is doing what scientist are suppose to do, follow the evidence, not what they think the answer should be.

    • > I find the empirical data of AGW lacking [...]

      So Judy is right when she dogwhistles that Mike suffers from a pathological condition because you find the empirical data of AGW lacking.

      Standing that interesting claim aside for the moment, do you have a quote where Judy says that empirical data of AGW is lacking, Mi Cro?

      Many thanks!

      • I said I find it lacking, why don’t you ask Dr Curry what she feels is lacking, or you can go read her blog, I think it would likely found there.

        But, reading isn’t as much fun is it?

  67. Judith Curry

    Thanks for posting another very thought-provoking post. Barbara Oakley’s essay is spot on, as it applies to “pathological altruism in climate policy being espoused by politicians, advocacy groups and even climate scientists” today (as you put it).

    You state that you are concerned that “altruism bias in climate science and some climate scientists” has resulted in “attempts being made to silence rational criticism”. You add that “any scientist who uses the word ‘denier’ is likely to suffer from altruism bias”.

    As Oakley writes, when it becomes a conflict between “good and evil” as opposed to a rational scientific debate, everyone loses. The “altruistic” motivation (to save the planet for the grandchildren, to avoid climate-related disasters for the poorest, and hence most vulnerable, to save polar bears from extinction, etc.) may be based on good intentions, but are actually a false facade intended to shut off any dissenting views as politically incorrect (or even evil). As Oakley notes,

    One of the most valuable characteristics of science is that, despite the obvious imperfection of biases in ostensibly objective scientists, it provides a potential mechanism for overcoming those biases. At the same time, altruism bias may be one of the most pernicious, hard-to-eradicate biases in science, because it involves even-handed examination of what groups of seemingly objective rational scientists subliminally have come to regard as sacred.

    The phrase “regard as sacred” tells a lot.

    But it also tells us how difficult it will be to move away from what Oakley calls “altruism bias and pathological altruism” in climate science today.

    Not only are there the often cited political and economic factors, but the notion of potentially catastrophic human-induced climate change, which must be stopped by drastic changes in life style, especially of the affluent societies has, in many ways, become a religious belief, which some scientists see as “sacred”.

    And folks do not change their religious beliefs easily.

    Thanks again for posting it.

    Max

  68. There’s a lot of it about.

  69. Barbara Oakley: “it is important to note that during the twentieth century, tens of millions individuals were killed under despotic regimes that rose to power through appeals to altruism…The study of pathological altruism, in other words, is not a minor, inconsequential offshoot of the study of altruism but instead is a topic of overwhelming scientific and public importance.”

    • Appeals to altruism are bad? Then we should go kill those dirtbags at the United Way.

      • I would hope the idealism of Jean-Paul Sartre about socialism was somewhat chastened by the subsequent realism of socialism in Soviet Russia that he could not help observing from the comfort of a Parisian café.

    • Well, I claim that we should teach such guys reading comprehension and logic. Does claimsguy fail ignorantly or disingenously? Always the same question, the same question.
      ====================

    • Claimsguy “Appeals to altruism are bad? Then we should go kill those dirtbags at the United Way.”

      Nope, jailing the former CEO seems to have done the trick :) Now they are much better run though I think the focus on fat starving kids should be diverted more toward the system that created the fat starving kids.

    • @ claimsguy

      Nope, the United Way guy is good to go. After all, he is simply ASKING people to behave altruistically.

      It is a bit like standing along a flooded river and watching a kid fall in and being swept to his death if SOMETHING ISN’T DONE.

      The altruist risks life and limb by jumping in to save the kid, realizing all along that he could PERSONALLy die, along with the kid.

      The pathological altruist shouts ‘Save that kid!’ and shoves the guy standing next to him into the river.’. Then, when his altruistic efforts are successful and the guy saves the kid, the pathological altruist appears on the evening news of every channel in town describing what a wonderful thing he did and announcing that he would be taking bids on the movie rights to the story of his heroic effort. But only if he could pick the star.

    • Bob, ” the pathological altruist appears on the evening news of every channel in town describing what a wonderful thing he did and announcing that he would be taking bids on the movie rights to the story of his heroic effort.

      Here is a funny story. I witnessed a crash landing of a twin engine plane and was first on the scene, I had a fast boat. I called the mayday for the pilot and stayed on the radio with the CG. I checked the pilot who was in the water with a PFD and relayed his responses to the basic where are you hurt questions to see if we needed a spine board etc. etc. A second boat shows up and near crushes the guy between our boats so I had to back off. The other boat snatched the pilot out of the water and dumped him on their deck. I tell the CG what happens and where the other boat is headed, then go back to fishing.

      Back at the dock the news crews show up to interview me while I am cleaning the boat. I say no, I am cleaning the boat and yell an answer or two across the marina. I end up on the news and the guys that “saved” the pilot get nada. Then the “heroes” get pissed at me for getting air time I didn’t want. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished :)

    • Capt, it was said that Soviet women only worried about two things; getting enough to eat and staying slim. A lard and carbohydrate diet will do that.

    • Doc, “Capt, it was said that Soviet women only worried about two things; getting enough to eat and staying slim. A lard and carbohydrate diet will do that.”

      They seem to “Americanize” quickly :)

  70. “Pathological Altruism”

    For the lay person. I think it in the end comes down to the science and whether you trust the science or the experts interpretation of the science. I think, if the history of science is any indication, a false theory will not stand the test of time. If the research findings are inconsistent with the theory the theory will be discarded and no one will try to test it any longer. I think that is how science is suppose to work and in the almost cases does work.
    So until the theory is rejected, I will support measures to lower carbon emissions.

    I don’t know who these “pathological” altruist are or what makes them “pathological,” but I would like to know more about them and what evidence you have for it. Sounds like a bit of armchair psychiatry to diagnose them as pathological though.

  71. manacker | December 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm and
    Wagathon | December 10, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Indeed spot on, and indeed a very important angle.

    But not the full journey to root cause. Via what mechanism may one false appeal to altruism win out over another? Why may either win out over a *genuine* appeal to altruism? What other narratives may reinforce such appeals and what are their relationships? How do such appeals, along with potential narrative allies, get locked in to become a ‘sacred’ and defended orthodoxy. Because such orthodoxys are not in fact entirely static, how do they accomodate challenge and change? If the mechanism for implementing altruism is so easily hi-jacked to negative ends, why has it remained an evolutionary advantage over millennia of such negative appeals? Are there balancing mechanisms? And so on…

    Memetics is a useful tool for peering at these next steps.

  72. Seems that Reason reviewed the article a while ago:

    Although Oakley doesn’t bluntly say so, the modern welfare state can be conceived of as being largely a collection of enterprises conjured into existence by pathological altruism. Social security – discourages citizens from saving and is going bankrupt. Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, ObamaCare, employer based health insurance – a dysfunctional system of third party payments that boosts overall health care costs without fostering improved care or services. AFDC (now defunct but replaced by lots of other programs) – encouraged single motherhood and near-permanent unemployment. Subsidized student loans – enable university bureaucracies to enlarge without improving educational outcomes. Obviously some people have benefited from these programs, but it is at least arguable that the unanticipated consequences, e.g., bankruptcy, dysfunctional families, higher unemployment, worse medical care, and so forth, are likely to overwhelm the good intentions behind them.

    http://reason.com/blog/2013/06/19/pathological-altruism-the-road-to-hell-r

    From the Hit and Run blog.

  73. Another fan:

    Oakley’s conclusions concerning the decision-making processes within human beings are of vital importance to the libertarian movement. Put simply, most people base their decisions on emotions, empathy and morality, rather than on rational and reasoned consideration. Why? Basically, because it takes the brain longer to consider rational and logical solutions to problems with which it is presented.

    http://thebackbencher.co.uk/why-isnt-libertarianism-more-successful-in-the-uk/

    The title raises a good question.

  74. Fascinating that no one brought up paternalism. The feminist movement had its first success in criticizing and protesting paternalism. Paternalism holds that a person’s liberty can be limited for their own good. In the 1950′s, for example, women were discouraged from working outside the home for their protection. We continue to practice paternalism toward younger children. Some paternalism is clearly justified. Some is clearly not. Discouraging women from working outside the home seems like a clear case of unjustifiable paternalism and a case of pathological altruism.

  75. I am gob-smacked, or somesuch: I adore “kim.”

    A zillion years ago I played with MIT’s Eliza and, frankly, she wasn’t very bright, at all. A “kim?” Not even close. ….I know: 1980′s…. but…

    Mosher: are you funning us? “kim” is insightful, funny, witty…. often, brilliant. Yesh, brilliant. Like a million monkeys typing Shakespeare, is that it?

    “kim,” where are you, on this matter? ….Lady in Red

    • Mosher responds as Mosher with half his brain tied behind his back. The untied is Kim.

    • Mosher has his merits, but his yearning for the less prosaic wit of kim has led him into false claims. You’re alright, Mosh, just be yourself rather than post kimmesque fantasies. [Oops, contradiction, that's Mosh being himself. Ah, well.]

    • blueice2hotsea

      what is the most popular Korean surname? that’s right.

  76. I agree with JJ, this is a bit of an inkblot post. And you can bet on it–no one sees two ducks kissing.

    But what does “altruism” really mean? Judging by denizen comments (which I grant are not wholly transparent), this seems to be the most common meaning:

    (1) I get a good feeling from how much my helping or giving increases others’ welfare.

    That’s nice. But here’s another possibility:

    (2) I get a good feeling from the amount of helping or giving I do, regardless of the impact it has on others’ welfare.

    These two are not the same thing. In case (1), I enjoy helping or giving or whatever because of what it does for others. In case (2), I simply enjoy the act of giving for its own sake.

    I think that this notion of pathological altruism is more likely when people’s helping and giving behavior is of the #2 kind, rather than the #1 kind. Jim Andreoni calls the #2 kind “warm glow altruism” and showed that these two kinds of altruism make different predictions about behavior and conducted a series of experiments designed to see which kind is most common. Andreoni thought that most observed altruism in laboratory settings was best explained by the #2 kind of motivation. Here is one of his early papers if you have any interest:

    http://econ.ucsd.edu/~jandreon/Publications/ej90.pdf

    • +1

      Yes, #2 is better for me than #1.

    • Nat, here is my take. Altruism involves acting with a volition to help others with no thought of benefit to self. To be effective, the actions must be based on wisdom and understanding.

      I’ve been fortunate to work with/meet several saintly people, most notably S N Goenka, Achaan Cha and J Krishnamurti. These three have in common that they had tremendous energy which they devoted to helping others, principally by teaching people how to develop their own wisdom and understanding, to overcome their conditioning and to lead harmonious, productive lives, good for themselves, good for others. They did not tell others what to do, they had no dogma or belief systems, they demanded nothing from anyone, they provided a path which others could choose to follow.

      I’m not a saint, but I have given voluntary service with altruism as I describe it above. Paradoxically, this giving without thought for self has brought the greatest happiness to me. To be truly altruistic, you need a degree of selflessness, and developing that selflessness provides great benefits for oneself as well as others. But you can not achieve it by seeking benefit for yourself, only through dispassionate observation without desire or objective.

      Those who claim that they know best, that the great unwashed cannot comprehend what is in their best interests, and that all means to bring about particular change “for the greater good” are acceptable, are not altruistic, they are ignorant and misguided, and no benefit will come from their actions.

  77. Pathological altruism is the last refuge of a scoundrel?

  78. Joshua,

    “Selective reasoning”.

    Not really…I’m a conservative…I also believe that for the most part people working predominantly for their own self interest end up creating better overall societal outcomes then people who delude themselves into believing they are not ‘selfish’.

    I am numbers 1 thru 8 on the list of the 10 most important people in my life.

    We make hero’s out of people like Mother Theresa precisely because people like her are extremely rare.

  79. The concept has been around for a while:

    “She’s the sort of woman who lives for others – you can tell the others by their hunted expression.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (1942)

    and

    “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good
    of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live
    under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.
    The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may
    at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good
    will torment us without end for they do so with the approval
    of their own conscience.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (1948)

  80. Somehow related:

    In the misfortunes for which the nature of things admits, or seems to admit, of a remedy, but in which the means of applying that remedy are not within the reach of the sufferer, his vain and fruitless attempts to restore himself to his former situation, his continual anxiety for their success, his repeated disappointments upon their miscarriage, are what chiefly hinder him from resuming his natural tranquillity, and frequently render miserable, during the whole of his life, a man to whom a greater misfortune, but which plainly admitted of no remedy, would not have given a fortnight’s disturbance. In the fall from royal favour to disgrace, from power to insignificancy, from riches to poverty, from liberty to confinement, from strong health to some lingering, chronical, and perhaps incurable disease, the man who struggles the least, who most easily and readily acquiesces in the fortune which has fallen to him, very soon recovers his usual and natural tranquility, and surveys the most disagreeable circumstances of his actual situation in the same light, or, perhaps, in a much less unfavourable light, than that in which the most indifferent spectator is disposed to survey them. Faction, intrigue, and cabal, disturb the quiet of the unfortunate statesman. extravagant projects, visions of gold mines, interrupt the repose of the ruined bankrupt. The prisoner, who is continually plotting to escape from his confinement, cannot enjoy that careless security which even a prison can afford him. The medicines of the physician are often the greatest torment of the incurable patient. The monk who, in order to comfort Joanna of Castile, upon the death of her husband Philip, told her of a King, who, fourteen years after his decease, had been restored to life again, by the prayers of his afflicted queen, was not likely, by his legendary tale, to restore sedateness to the distempered mind of that unhappy Princess. She endeavoured to repeat the same experiment in hopes of the same success; resisted for a long time the burial of her husband, soon after raised his body from the grave, attended it almost constantly herself, and watched, with all the impatient anxiety of frantic expectation, the happy moment when her wishes were to be gratified by the revival of her beloved Philip.

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smMS3.html

    Hope can carry its lot of unintended consequences.

  81. Willis Eschenbach

    Michael | December 10, 2013 at 2:33 am |

    Willis,

    Apologies for my vagueness in resposne to your shining clarity of ‘the poor in 50 years” (any idea who they are??) and their “pain and suffering” (arthritis?, headaches??).

    Thanks, Michael. The “poor in 50 years” are those people who happen to be poor fifty years from now, as the name suggests. They are the ones that the alarmists are always telling us they are trying to save.

    Regarding “pain and suffering” of the poor in 50 years, you may or may not recall that I said nothing about that subject.

    Instead, I said that the policies pushed by James Hansen “increased pain and suffering for the poor today“.

    You may not be old enough to recall when cheap electricity was rightly seen as the savior of the farmer and the housewife. But Hansen and his ilk are pushing as hard as they can to make energy as expensive as they can, via renewables quotas, carbon taxes, “cap and trade”, and a variety of destructive laws and regulation.

    And if you don’t think that expensive energy is causing pain and suffering for the poor right now as we speak, you’re not following the news. Google “fuel poverty” for one of dozens of examples.

    w.

    • Jerry Pournelle has said, often and accurately, that ‘cheap, plentiful energy is the key to freedom and prosperity.’

      Am I the only one who has noticed that the ‘energy’ policies advocated/implemented by the leftists/progressives/greens/socialists/Marxists/communists/euphemism du jour over the last 50-60 years have ALWAYS had the effect, if not the express intent, of raising the price of energy while restricting its availability?

      Or wondered why?

    • Cheap energy = more choices, costly energy = fewer choices. Which is why Leftists love the latter.

  82. Pingback: A few post-event thoughts about the AGU Fall Meeting: the good, the bad, and the ugly | Watts Up With That?

  83. Burning food for fuel comes to mind

    Raising the costs of energy for everyone through non-market-viable energy that requires large subsidies or exist only through government edict. (bird and bat cuisinarts come to mind)

    Both of these altruistic (save the planet) goal end up being a regressive tax on the poorest and are both examples of crony capitalism at it’s worse.

  84. Basically, things don’t always go as planned. Good intentions can mislead us. However, unintended consequences may be related more to the realities of a complex, highly bureaucratized, power-divided world these days, than anything Oakley discusses under the idea of ‘pathological altruism’.
    Yet Oakley’s definition isn’t without a simplicity that might have its place in examination, especially historical examination, of some events. Equally and likely even more recognizable words for the same events might be ‘colonialism’ and ‘paternalism’.

  85. Take care to whom you grant power:

    Troilus and Cressida; William Shakespeare, Scene III. The Grecian camp. Before Agamemnon’s tent; Troilus and Cressida; William Shakespeare. Ulysses speaks:

    “Then every thing includes itself in power,
    Power into will, will into appetite;
    And appetite, an universal wolf,
    So doubly seconded with will and power,
    Must make perforce an universal prey,
    And last eat up himself. ”

    Consult today’s paper for examples.

  86. Psychotic altruism is a better term.