The Righteous Mind

by Judith Curry

Do you ever find yourself reading something by a commentator you disagree with and wanting to punch them in the face? Do you listen to people on the other side of the political debate and find yourself almost hating them?

Well, we had a lot of fun with the Republican Brain.  Here is another book with some similar themes, but one that isn’t partisan. Jonathan Haidt has written a book  The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.  From the summary on

Why can’t our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount? Why do people so readily assume the worst about the motives of their fellow citizens? In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding. 
His starting point is moral intuition—the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong. Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right. He blends his own research findings with those of anthropologists, historians, and other psychologists to draw a map of the moral domain, and he explains why conservatives can navigate that map more skillfully than can liberals. He then examines the origins of morality, overturning the view that evolution made us fundamentally selfish creatures. But rather than arguing that we are innately altruistic, he makes a more subtle claim—that we are fundamentally groupish. It is our groupishness, he explains, that leads to our greatest joys, our religious divisions, and our political affiliations. In a stunning final chapter on ideology and civility, Haidt shows what each side is right about, and why we need the insights of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians to flourish as a nation.

Haidt also has a Ted video [here].

There are two substantial reviews of the book, from the New York Review of Books and the Telegraph, that tackle different aspects of Haidt’s theme.

From the New York Review of Books

You’re smart. You’re liberal. You’re well informed. You think conservatives are narrow-minded. You can’t understand why working-class Americans vote Republican. You figure they’re being duped. You’re wrong.

This isn’t an accusation from the right. It’s a friendly warning from Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who, until 2009, considered himself a partisan liberal. In “The ­Righteous Mind,” Haidt seeks to enrich liberalism, and political discourse generally, with a deeper awareness of human nature. Politics isn’t just about ­manipulating people who disagree with you. It’s about learning from them.

The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others. 

Faith, patriotism, valor, chastity, law and order — these Republican themes touch all six moral foundations, whereas Democrats, in Haidt’s analysis, focus almost entirely on care and fighting oppression. This is Haidt’s startling message to the left: When it comes to morality, conservatives are more broad-minded than liberals. They serve a more varied diet.

The hardest part, Haidt finds, is getting liberals to open their minds. And in a survey of 2,000 Americans, Haidt found that self-described liberals, especially those who called themselves “very liberal,” were worse at predicting the moral judgments of moderates and conservatives than moderates and conservatives were at predicting the moral judgments of liberals. Liberals don’t understand conservative values. And they can’t recognize this failing, because they’re so convinced of their rationality, open-mindedness and enlightenment.

Haidt isn’t just scolding liberals, however. He sees the left and right as yin and yang, each contributing insights to which the other should listen. In his view, for instance, liberals can teach conservatives to recognize and constrain predation by entrenched interests. Haidt believes in the power of reason, but the reasoning has to be interactive. It has to be other people’s reason engaging yours. We’re lousy at challenging our own beliefs, but we’re good at challenging each other’s. Haidt compares us to neurons in a giant brain, capable of “producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system.”

Traits we evolved in a dispersed world, like tribalism and righteousness, have become dangerously maladaptive in an era of rapid globalization. A pure scientist would let us purge these traits from the gene pool by fighting and killing one another. But Haidt wants to spare us this fate. He seeks a world in which “fewer people believe that righteous ends justify violent means.” To achieve this goal, he asks us to understand and overcome our instincts. He appeals to a power capable of circumspection, reflection and reform.

From the Telegraph:

The human mind is divided, Haidt argues, into two parts, a rider and an elephant, and the rider’s job is to serve the elephant. “The rider is our conscious reasoning – the stream of words and images of which we are fully aware. The elephant is the other 99 per cent of mental processes – the ones that occur outside of awareness but that actually govern most of our behaviour.”

Intuition comes first, strategic reasoning second, and this goes the same for intelligent and dim alike. Education and IQ makes no difference to where the elephant goes, only to how well the rider explains its actions.

Since the conscious mind’s job is to justify the choices it has made, we are prone to confirmation bias, seeing what it wants to see our, and our mind treats contradictory evidence as a threat. All animal brains are designed to create flashes of pleasure when the animal does something important for its survival, and small pulses of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the ventral striatum (and a few other places) are where these good feelings are manufactured. Heroin and cocaine are addictive because they artificially trigger this dopamine response.”

Being proved correct provides us with a dopamine hit, which is why obsessed politicos and bloggers trawl the internet looking for anything to prove them right.

“If this is true,” says Haidt: “then it would explain why extreme partisans are so stubborn, closed-minded, and committed to beliefs that often seem bizarre or paranoid. Like rats that cannot stop pressing a button, partisans may be simply unable to stop believing weird things. The partisan brain has been reinforced so many times for performing mental contortions that free it from unwanted beliefs. Extreme partisanship may be literally addictive.”

JC comment:  I haven’t read Haidt’s book (maybe I would have more time to read if I didn’t spend so much time blogging.)  But I found both reviews to be quite provocative.  In terms of the climate debate, here is what I take away:

We’re lousy at challenging our own beliefs, but we’re good at challenging each other’s. Haidt compares us to neurons in a giant brain, capable of “producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system.”

Sounds like a ‘mission statement’ for Climate Etc.

428 responses to “The Righteous Mind

  1. Roddy Campbell

    A beautiful review of it from a UK perspective by a friend of mine in a liberal magazine.

    • Roddy thanks for the link

    • Richard Dawkins is to Darwin what Einstein was to Newton. His book ‘The Selfish Gene’ was a major work in which he examined the evolutionary selection pressure, not on whole organisms, but on the individual units of replicons; the genes.
      Dawkins has never so much as hinted that genetics leads to ‘social Darwinism’ nor supported selfish behavior in humans. Indeed, the misuse of the term ‘selfish gene’ is endemic. Individual genes are replicons, their existence is in the form of information content, the individual bases that make up the DNA sequence are periodically replaced. A gene, exists only to replicate itself. However, to do so the gene must cooperate with surrounding genes. Genes work in cooperation with each other; this was a major point that Dawkins made and continues to make. Dawkins also coined the term ‘meme’, a replicant in the world of words and thoughts.
      The meme that ‘selfish gene’ = ‘selfish phenotype’ is widespread, and also wholly false. It is a pity that people who use the term don’t read the damned book.
      Moreover, only someone who does not understand the evolution of colonial insects and of higher Primates would state that humans are ‘90% Chimp and 10% Bee”. You might as well compare an iPhone to a difference engine and a telegraph.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        DocMartyn, please let me commend to you, and to other Climate Etc. readers, the most recent two books of the renowned sociobiologist E. O. (Ed) Wilson:

        Anthill: A Novel (fiction)

        The Social Conquest of Earth (nonfiction)

        These two books represent (in effect) a synthesis of liberal ideals with conservative means.

        Needless to say, Wilson’s work is despised by the senior pundits of the Righteous Left and is denounced by the senior pundits of the Righteous Right … and this response is (to me) a reliable indication that Wilson’s biology-driven pragmatic synthesis is winning! :)

      • Bernie Schreiver

        PS: maybe I had better caution Climate Etc. readers that E.O.  Wilson’s novel Anthill includes graphic scenes of homicidal violence that go far beyond ‘punching in the face’ … because Wilson appreciates that killing as a definitive means of settling differences is an ineradicable part of our human heritage.

        Eerily, the killing scene in Wilson’s fictional Anthill foreshadows, by precisely four months, the real-world ideology-driven homicidal violence of Anders Behring Breivik on Utoya Island. :(

      • Biological reductionism will always be compelling and repulsive to different people, and I personally think it can be a valuable (if sometimes dangerous) way to reason about the social world. However my own opinion is that social psych can and often should be investigated without an evolutionary foundation. It is easier to make arguments about how things are rather than why they evolved a certain way, and our knowledge of empirical phenomena in social psych is still very incomplete.
        Group membership and identification is one of those phenomena that is so universal it is hard not to think about it in terms of human origins, but there is good reason I think why memes are used primarily to refer to viral videos and not as the general social/cultural concept Dawkins intended.

      • Just a quible: As great a writer as Dawkins is, he is no Einstein. Virtually all of the ideas he popularized in the Selfish Gene were already in wide circulation by the time his book was written. His was a synthesis of ideas, complete with a new vocabulary, rather than the promulgation of a whole new paradigm de novo. Also, Dawkins’s next book, The Extended Phenotype, is a much better book – his best.

      • Dawkins is also a great popularizer, not really comparable.

      • “The Extended Phenotype, is a much better book – his best.” Agree. +1

      • Alex Heyworth

        I must admit to a soft spot for the broad sweep combined with intimate detail of The Ancestor’s Tale.

      • David Springer

        The gene theory is SO 1990’s. You’re about 20 years behind the science, Doc, if you’re still of the opinion that genes determine much of anything. They’re like the boards and nails in a home not like the blueprint. Coding genes comprise just a very small portion of the genome. There were a lot of surprises when the human genome was fully sequenced in 2000 and one of those was that the gene centric hypothesis proposed by Dawkins was malarky made up by zoologist who left the lab long ago to become an anti-religion zealot.

      • “You’re about 20 years behind the science, Doc, if you’re still of the opinion that genes determine much of anything”
        I thank you for your opinion. Your insight into what you term ‘the gene centric hypothesis’ is enlightening. Perhaps you are aware of how information is transmitted between generations better than us all.
        Care to share?

  2. Given which blogs carry anger and censorships, and which blogs don’t, it’s blatantly obvious who the haters are. And close-minded of course.

    Ps I never experience feelings of anger or hate on the ‘net. I often experience a sense of despair though, upon realizing some people are humans just like me 8-)

    • Omnologos – We share common traits. I was a dogmatic, left-wing liberal who loved the hippie movement in the early 1960s. A staunch supporter of J.F. Kennedy who later loved to hate R. M. Nixon.

      Until the Climategate emails were released in 2009, I had always voted for Democrats. My eyes were opened by the response of world leaders and leaders of the scientific establishment to glaring evidence of deceit and deception in government-funded science.

      At first I was stunned by responses of the UN’s IPCC, the Nobel Prize Committee, the US NAS, the UK’s RS, publishers and editors of BBC, PBS, NYT, Newsweek, Time, etc. and of leading research journals – Nature, Science, PNAS, MNRS, JGR, etc.

      Then I was able to look back over my career and realize that these same groups had endorsed equally incredible science most of my life, at least from the time in 1946 when almost the entire community of astronomers and astrophysicists unanimously changed the internal composition of the Sun from iron (Fe) to hydrogen (H)!

      The rest of that strange tale is here:
      and here:

      Like omnologos, I often experience a sense of despair, but not anger or hate, on seeing that those that disagree with are human too.

      • despair, but not anger or hate,
        they are human too
        I like that

      • There was, is, a world of difference between JFK liberals, and the McGovern liberals that followed them. However, the JFK liberals just can’t bring themselves to see that they probably had more in common with Reagan than Obama (or Carter). They’d rather die than to be named “conservatives” or wear a GOP election pin.

      • The 60’s Liberals had been through WWII, the present day leadership cut their teeth in Vietnam.

      • And then there are the Alinsky liberals (US definition) we are stuck with now.

      • “Despair, but not anger or hate, they are human too” is probably a healthy way of viewing fellow travelers on the journey of life.

        Related blogs suggest that leaders may be plagued by self-righteous socio-pathology:

      • What the freak is going on here????

        I don’t understand anyone on this thread. I have never felt despair, anger or hate when people disagree with me. And I am completely surprised and flummoxed that it seems everyone else does.

        Judith, I read your blog every day because I can expect a big dose of sanity, but this post and comment thread seems like something.out of Alice in Wonderland.

        Tell me if I’m alone on the following:

        I find that almost all arguments steam from one of two sources, and neither of them is “reasoning differently”.

        1) What Judith calls “talking past eachother” – which I take to mean, believing that we’re arguing about the same thing, where in fact we are arguing about two different things.

        William James and the squirrel seems to be a good example of this:

        2) A difference of opinion about cause and effect in the real world – typically when the effects are hard to measure.

        I think it is best to explain with an example. I plucked this by going to a news source, and picking the top article about political debate:

        Here’s a quote (sorry don’t know how to do italics):

        The Obama administration Friday kicked off a push to delay a scheduled increase in the interest rate charged on so-called Stafford loans for college. But the program is just one of many that face pressure from Republicans who say they are too costly for taxpayers.

        The thing is, everyone would like people to pay less on student loans, and everyone would like for the government to incur less debt as well. The real question is which one of the two options will have a better effect on America?

        Obama apparently believes that America would benefit the most by not increasing the interest on student loans. Republicans apparently believe that America would benefit the most by having this money go elsewhere.

        In theory this could be empirically tested assuming we all agree what constitutes a “better effect on America”. But as modelers are fans of telling us, that would require two different worlds and many years to test.

        We can look to history to help guide us, but then there will certainly be other factors that make the difference.

        And of course this assumes we can somehow quantify and compare the lives of all Americans.

        Since these things are impossible instead it comes down to how tough you feel loan payers have it at this time, how much everyone will benefit if the interest doesn’t increase, and how much everyone will benefit if the money is used elsewhere.

        Those are very subjective beliefs and they are not something that will be solved by arguing, but something that might be solved by statistics and taking a closer look at the world.

        The point of all this is that when people disagree with me I never feel an emotion other than curiosity, which apparently is different from everyone else on this thread (and, if Haidt’s book is to be believed, the earth). I’m curious because either we’re doing such a bad job communicating that we’re talking about two different things…

        Or, more importantly, we disagree on cause and effect.

        By which I very literally mean that we believe the same action on the world will have different effects.

        Don’t you find this curious??

        No one will tell you that baking soda and vinegar don’t react chemically because you can point to a junior high science fair and show them that they do.

        So when people disagree with me about other things I get curious about what junior high science fairs they’ve been going to. In essence, I get curious as to where they see such cause and effect in the world, and why I see a different cause and effect.

        Usually I find – as J.C. would put it – uncertainty.

        How can I feel anger, hate or despair about that?

      • WRT your contention about needing two separate worlds, the whole reason the Framers used a federalist model was so each state could be its own laboratory of democracy. The problems here really come in when someone thinks they can and should push their preferred solution (prohibition, pro-abortion, anti-abortion, income taxes, sales taxes, government funding XXXXXXXXX, etc.) across the nation regardless of what other people think.

        Having said that, I have noted with some amusement how the press and pundits tie themselves in knots accusing conservatives of “hate speech” but said very little about Al Franken’s “jokes” about Limbaugh or Bush, Bill Maher’s “jokes” about a teenage mother whose mother happened to be running for VP, etc. We need people to debate without devolving to actual hate; cheers to you for being able to do so. ;D

      • Experience is a very thorough teacher when we consider the amount of time it takes to teach the individual.

      • The lesson of life: We are all powerless over things controlled by cause and effect.

        The surprise: Leaders are especially plagued by an inability to admit that they too are controlled by cause and effect.

  3. Spot-on. And that’s why your “mission” on Climate, etc is so much appreciated. Thanks.

  4. This article comes as no surprise if you are conservative. Modern liberalism is a philosophy based upon good intentions. If you disagree with them, then your intentions must be bad or may I said it, evil. And why in the world would you look to learn something from someone who is evil?

    • goodspkr | April 19, 2012 at 7:33 am |

      This article comes as no surprise if you are conservative. Modern liberalism is a philosophy based upon good intentions. If you disagree with them, then your intentions must be bad or may I said it, evil. And why in the world would you look to learn something from someone who is evil?

      Why would you look to learn something from someone who is evil?

      Well, if they are evil, then they are due to be punished to maintain good order, they are a danger to contaminate the good by contagion, especially if they have corrupted authority, because it would harm those you care about, and punishing the evil while protecting the good costs you, and you want to be sure you get fair return for what you pay.

      Haidt’s five goal game argument is infinitely malleable to reason. Well, not infinitely malleable; it contains a logic trap that inevitably leads to a situation where the agenda of any moral decision maker may be manipulated to force them to suboptimize, and adopt courses of action contrary to their best interest every time.

    • Charles Krauthammer — “the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans think Democrats are wrong and Democrats think Republicans are evil.”

      • It’s a generalisation and generalisations generally over-simplify :) George Orwell was an honourable exception once one broadens to Right and Left internationally. We do well to honour those who break this mould.

        But it was in thinking through this tendency of the Left to think the Right evil, on Bryan Appleyard’s old blog, pre-Climategate, that made me decide, if pushed, to say I am of the right. To be unfairly thought of as evil – that’s the place Jesus took for me so this has to be my self-identification.

      • stan, and there is this wonderful summation from P.J. O’Rourke:

        “I have only one firm belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat.

        God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle-aged mate, a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men strictly accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well-being of the disadvantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful and holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God’s heavenly country club.

        Santa Claus is another matter. He’s cute. He’s nonthreatening. He’s always cheerful. And he loves animals. He may know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without thought of a quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he’s famously generous to the poor. Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus.”

      • Just another example of Easter Bunny propaganda. :D

      • Now you are going to tell us the Easter Bunny isn’t real?

      • timg56 | April 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

        You’ll need to ask your leprechaun friends about that. ;)

  5. “But rather than arguing that we are innately altruistic, he makes a more subtle claim—that we are fundamentally groupish:
    The evolutionary biologists use the distinctions altruistic’ and ‘mutualistic’, not ‘groupish’.
    A lot of the information we have comes from models, lovely models and game theory. You have a Bot programed with a pattern of interactive behaviors and after an exchange you have a scoring system, something like being ripped off =0, fair exchange=2 and ripping off another Bot=3, rip-off/rip-off =1, refuse interaction =1). The best communal strategy is fairness (2 Bots at 2 points), but the best individual strategy is to be evil (Evil Bot=3 and poor Bot=0).
    They way to make a successful society is to program a Bot with a stereotypical opponent that prior to the first exchange in ‘good’, afterwards one calculates how likely this Bot is likely to be ‘fair’ in the future.
    The bottom line is that the more information (memory) one has on another Bot, the more the system becomes ‘fair’. ‘Shunning’ is a very good strategy to deal with ‘The Bad Samaritan’. The Bad Samaritan is a Bot programmed to be generally good, but will be evil when interaction with a stranger; a Bot that the Bad Samaritan will meet only once. This is the garage on the lonely road that charges you $300 for a thermostat. If the greater Bot community are allowed to observe not only their own exchanges, but the exchanges of others, they are able to others.
    The results of these game theory based model behaviors are quite simple, the system (total sum of all interactions) is highest where their is transparency, affordable memory of past interactions and the starting position is that the others members of society are generally ‘good’, unless proven otherwise.
    The assumption that others are the same as oneself, ‘mirroring’, is also a self for-filling prophecy; if you suspect everyone is going to rip you off, you start with a rip-off strategy, and then everyone you meet does the same towards you. The only way individual Bots with an initial rip-off strategy can become high scorers is if the general population has a ‘redemption’ factor and weigh examine recent activity more strongly than previous activity.

    Here is a place where you can, apparently, build you own Bot and look at the history of game theory applications to group behaviors.

    • This appears interesting.
      I could not understand: typos, editing…. I hope I come upon its second draft.

  6. chuckspinney

    Dr. Curry … this is an excellent posting. I had considerable personal experience with this kind of dynamic when working in the Pentagon as part of the Military Reform Movement … a small group of Defense Dept. insiders in the late 70s and early 80s, uniformed and civilian, who where convinced the Defense Department was (and still is) on the wrong track. I won’t go into that, but the climate debate reminds me very much our debates — except the positions were reversed — the dissidents were viewed as the anti-military liberal naysayers whereas the defenders of the status quo and the dogma were the conservatives. But the dynamic you described in your post was identical — on both sides. Billions of $ were involved, politics took precedence, emotions ran high, and everyone talked past each other, attributing the worst motives to the other side. And the pathologies of the status quo that created the dissidence were amazingly similiar — data cooking, highly sophisicated but unvalidated computer models, and tweaking of inputs to get the pre-ordained answers, all swathed in a spirit self righteousness.

    FYI, I recently wrote two short essays on the similarity between the climate wars and the Pentagon budget wars, which can be downloaded at this links:

    By the way, most of the people shaping the arguments in the Pentagon were trained in science, engineering, or mathematics, most with advanced degrees and many with PhDs. Keep up the great work — it is important and following it is keeping me young!
    Chuck Spinney

  7. Yep, while there are extreme and inflexible partisans on both sides of any issue, the hardest people to have a sensible discussion with are those who believe that they are being ‘caring’ or otherwise altruistic. Since anyone who disagrees (even slightly) with their position is obviously not as caring and altruistic as they are, they are bad people and nothing can be learned from them. Most of these people are on the Left or incorrectly described ‘liberal’ part of the political spectrum, although the extreme Right has its share of them (in the Western world).

    This kind of mindset can lead to perverse outcomes, such as cruelty, intolerance and authoritarianism. Aldous Huxley nailed it when he said:

    “To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior “righteous indignation” – this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.”

  8. Haidt gave a presentation on this book on one of the CSPAN (CSPAN3, I think) channels. Very interesting; I recommend watching it if they rerun it.

  9. Let us see how the true believers respond. It should be quite interesting.

    • This particular ‘true believer’ (I assume you mean folks like me who accept that AGW is a problem) is a right wing (Conservative) voter, interesting? Nope. That you thought it would be just shows your own bias once again.

      The constant need to define those that accept or reject that AGW is a problem along party political lines is a distraction in the same way as if I were to lump all creationists in with those that believe AGW is a scam or all environmentalists are against GM foods would be distractions. It’s just not true.

      • On this topic I agree with Louise.

        Judith seems to like to categorize people to help in the formulation of conclusions regarding their positions. Personally, I find the practice fundamentally flawed and frequently leading to incorrect and prejudicial conclusions. It seems far more productive to evaluate a person’s positions on individual issues based solely upon the rationale for those specific positions and to not generalize that if they believe in “X” then therefore they probably believe in “Y”.

      • Oh, I think Judith’s interest in group behaviors is getting at something very useful, even if it’s not a universal truth. Think of it as an analog to statistical mechanics. Not EVERY partical follows the general trend, but you can understand the system pretty well by understanding the trends. And Haidt is exactly right: a big part of what drives every trend–including both AGW and anti-AGW–is a human mind that follows trends, indeed, sees the world in terms of them.

      • qbeamus

        I do not completely disagree but suggest it is not unlike profiling people for security reasons based upon their characteristics. It needs to be done carefully and on a limited basis.

        In regards to the issue of AGW it seems to me that the discussions need to be more on the relative merits of specific policy positions being proposed to be taken by specific nations.

      • Louise | April 19, 2012 at 9:35 am |

        One thing Haidt’s analysis in the TED talk ignores is the Libertarian case. Which I imagine he covers in his book, as a more advanced and convoluted case than the left:right analogy.

        Libertarians typically are said to reject authority, which would make them like liberals. And yet, unlike both left and right, they also put forward a case that fairness and protection from harm fall entirely to the individual, not to either group action (which also, libertarians typically are said to reject) or to law and order (again, rejected). How do we know this? By reading Libertarian group literature, carefully edited and vetted by Libertarian authorities and interpreted through carefully managed Libertarian practices to ensure fair representation and avoid harm to Libertarian followers.

        One can arrange Haidt’s five moral values in any order in rationalizations, shade moral propositions with whatever nuance one deems, and out of playing off each moral value one against the other obtain any result in any morally pluralistic scheme.

        While Haidt’s observation that conservatives are generally better than liberals at understanding the position of the ‘other side’ sounds compellingly like an argument that conservatives are generally better, it simply is not so: it means conservatives are more susceptible to the work of a special interest to manipulate the five-factor value system to obtain the outcome the special interest seeks against the best interest of the conservative.

        Which is why special interests align themselves with conservative groups, using the motifs and manners to dress themselves in sheep’s clothing, in preference to seeking liberal groups. (Though the liberal groups are not immune, either; more about that later.) A special interest can play off five competing goals against each other, confuse and obfuscate the issue, to arrive at any moral conclusion, and by the higher power of group unity then enforce on the conservative mob this adverse decision. It’s hard to be conservative and opposed to such adverse decisions, and a source of wonder to some conservative minds to see so many otherwise sensible people adhering so closely to such contrary and irrational views.

        Meanwhile, the liberal manipulation is more obvious for special interests. So much so that everyone does it, and even have some hope it will affect conservatives too: alarmism. Find a harm or an injustice and crank up the threat level to the highest pitch. What liberal won’t shake at the knees and gird their loins up to fight the good fight to protect the weak and ignorant at the tolling of the alarm bell?

        Psychology observes our moral dimensions. Game Theory helps us see who’s playing us with them.

      • Bart

        When you write: “Libertarians typically are said to reject authority”.

        Who made such a generalization other than you?

        Libertarians generally seek to maximize individual freedoms and to preclude the government from expanding into areas not specifically granted by the constitution.

      • Po-tay-to. Po-tah-to.

      • Wow, Bart…I hope that was just a half-hearted attempt to cover up your error, because if you actually believe that, you’re a lot more oblivious to the moral dimensions of political debate than even I had you pegged for.

      • qbeamus | April 20, 2012 at 9:39 am |

        ..oblivious to the moral dimensions of political debate ..

        There are no moral dimensions to political debate. You may want to inflict definitions out of some handbook on the rest of us, but like high school nicknames and reputation, no one gets to choose their own.

        Heck, “granted by the constitution” doesn’t even apply to the libertarian philosophy outside the USA. Just because the USA does constitutional government, and everything else in general better, doesn’t mean the rest of the world has figured out to catch up. Outside in the USA (and in much of it), libertarians are grouped in with anarchists, minarchists, rebellious angsty teenagers, mobsters, quacks, pirates and drug cartels.

        Also, read the whole of the comment. I didn’t say libertarians do reject authority. I wasn’t really talking about libertarians, after all, as the point of the comment. I was talking about the shortcomings of Haidt’s model using perceptions people may take from it. That the stereotype so rankles you just better illustrates Haidt’s shortcomings.

      • “special interests align themselves with conservative groups”

        Not in America. Special interests dominate and control the Democratic party. It’s nothing more than a collection of special interests all of whom see the government as their gravy train.

      • Indeed, the Democratic Party consists of those who seek equality through special treatment. lol


      • Not all of us.

      • stan | April 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm |

        “It’s nothing more than a collection of special interests all of whom see the government as their gravy train.”

        How does either party escape this cynical (albeit accurate) tag?

        But to address your point, note I later said, “Meanwhile, the liberal manipulation is more obvious for special interests.”

      • The core supporter of the GOP wants govt to spend less and do less. That’s the opposite of the blue model that the Democratic voter embraces. The blue model (big business, big labor, big govt, big media, big academia) has identifiable special interest groups who use govt to feather their own nests.

        The core of the GOP voters are the self-employed, the small business owners and others who aren’t part of an identifiable special interest.

      • stan | April 20, 2012 at 9:42 am |

        “The core supporter of the GOP wants govt to spend less and do less.”

        Based on actual outcomes, the core supporter of the GOP would then vote against the GOP, then. The GOP can’t be trusted to act on the wants of its core. Why else would the core be so discontent?

        “The blue model (big business, big labor, big govt, big media, big academia)”

        As opposed to business monopoly, labor suppression, ever growing government, Fox News, and obedient academia?

        You make the core supporter sound like a gormless dupe. What did the core supporter ever do to you?

      • ceteris non paribus

        While typical voting Americans busily sharpen their important distinctions between the Democrats and Republicans, the rest of the world already knows that your government is actually run by un-elected people on Wall Street and Madison Avenue, with occasional input from the Pentagon.

      • The solution to the corporation and politics problem is to make it illegal for companies to lobby. In exchange, charge them zero taxes. That way we would get the jobs they create, but not have them run our government. More companies would come here. We would all be better off. Well, all except the “progressives” who need a dependent constituency.

      • Actually Bart,

        Your discription is more like potato – rock. As in you really don’t know how to accurately describe either, based on your description of a Libertarian viewpoint.

      • timg56 | April 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm |

        Your discription is more like potato – rock. As in you really don’t know how to accurately describe either, based on your description of a Libertarian viewpoint.

        Actually? Huh. I’d think “typically are said to” would directly tell anyone who can parse the agreement of verbs to nouns that I wasn’t describing a libertarian, much less a Libertarian, viewpoint.

        Read harder.

      • andrew adams


        I’m not sure about that – I think that the political divide is significant enough to merit attention. It’s certainly more notable in the US than in the UK and I appreciate that you and many other people on the mainstream right in the UK accept that AGW is real and is a threat, but then I think that by American standards you would be considered quite left wing! Certainly if you look at the most prominent “skeptical” individuals and publications in the UK they are all firmly on the right. So although it would be wrong to say being on the right necessarily makes one a skeptic there is certainly a particular strand of hardcore conservative and libertarian opinion which is particularly inclined towards skepticism on both sides of the pond, it’s just more noticeable in the US because that strand of opinion is more commonplace there.

        Obviously there will be widely differing opinions as to the reason for this but I make no argument here in that respect. And although I think that such considerations should be open for discussion they should not get in the way of the more important arguments about the science and the policy implications. And after all, we have the facts on our side ;)

      • and you are such a gallant gentleman. In the UK, I have voted in public elections for the last 32 years and have never voted Labour (socialist) or Green Party or any others remotely like them. I am a staunch Tory and have even campaigned for them in the past. They may not be as right wing as the Tea Party who I think are just to the right of Ghengis Khan, but, apart from the nationalist parties, they are what passes for right wing over here..

      • In my experience, those who identify themselves as supporters of the Tea Party in the US are far less extreme than many in the media suggest. They happened to have an event very close to my home and I walked over to listen one afternoon. It seemed their only issues were to balance the US budget and to promote personal freedom and responsibility.

        It is difficult to see why anyone would not support those objectives and they do not seem conservative or liberial. Balancing the budget is fundamental economics and promoting personal liberty and responsibility, well, who could be againest that?

      • Rob,
        the people who choose accusing the Tea Party of extremism and worse are the same people defending voter fraud and who have hysterical reactions when asked to consider cutting government spending.

      • Hunter- there are undoubtedly extremeist views among those who describe themselves as Tea Party supporters. Again, it comes down to the specific issue and the rationale to support the conclusion.

        This is also true in regards to the issue of AGW or cAGW. I personally favor rational actions that make economic and environmental sense. The specific policy suggestions should be evaluated on their merits.

      • Are you suggesting that applying a tourniquet around the neck of someone bleeding from an arm wound, while being totally effective, might not be a cost-effective solution?

      • geek– actually that solution would be very cost effective, but probably not perferred for quality of life-lol

      • I have friends who think the Occupy movement is one of the most inspirational things they’ve seen in the last couple of decades, but consider the Tea Party to be a bunch of stooges and/or rabid dogs.

        I don’t bother pointing out which group acted illegally and which one did so in accordance to the law. I do point out though which group is smart enough to direct there actions to the proper target – elected officials – and which group isn’t. Hint: the Occupy folks are not the one with a clue.

      • I would say the mainstream Dimocrats are extreme. The one left of them live in China.

      • Rob Starkey,

        One of the key points you will find in any genuine Tea Party discussion is belief that the Constitution as written should constrain government. That is why there has never been a Democratic Tea Party candidate.

        Progressive want a “living Constitution,” ie. a Constitution that can be changed at the whim of 5 Supreme Court Justices. They also want to ignore the restrictions on the centralization of power in the Constitution, and to read into it “positive rights,” like those so popular in more progressive countries.

        Many tea parties hold what could be described as libertarian (really progressive) views on some social issues, but there is uniformity in wanting to restrain the inexorable growth of government. On that issue they are all conservative.

      • Gary

        Imo, you have formed your own definition of the terms conservative and progressive. I tend to think of conservative as an individual who is reluctant to make changes or accept new ideas. Again, Imo it all comes down to what an individual feels about specific policy issues and why.

        If you examine real specific issues the conservative vs. progressive labels seem misplaced. As an example:
        I would like to see the US make drastic and rapid changes to how we manage our finances such that we do not continue to spend more than we generate in revenues except in cases of emergency. Now that is a very major change in the course of action, but somehow it is labeled as conservative vs. progressive.

      • Rob – with all due respect, your idea of a conservative is shaped by your own liberal views and attitude. Being a conservative has nothing to do with a willingness or not to change, it has to do with seeing deeper into issues than just what’s in it for me, it’s seeing the bigger picture, it’s an appreciation of things of value. Change is fine, but you had better have something better to put in its place. For me in the US, the “progressive” “vision” doesn’t even come close to individual liberty and capitalism. As a conservative, I’m not afraid that the US is different from other countries, I see it as one of our most valuable assets.

      • “Being a conservative has nothing to do with a willingness or not to change…”

        Correct. As the original piece pointed out, conservative values are very much at the heart of what we believe, and one of those values is **NOT** stubborn refusal to change (a value which seems to be in all camps if it exists in conservative camps).

        Nor do conservatives not see the problems that liberals see — conservatives are concerned about the environment, poverty, hunger, etc. To that end, they are very generous with their private donations, much more generous than liberals. (Salvation Army for instance, and conservative Christians outgive their liberal brethren by a wide margin.)

        As I explained, liberals seem to believe that all of the woes of humanity can be solved by a huge government program, at the highest level, funded by (what they believe) is an inexhaustible money held by the world’s wealthy people. And they are prone to fads — or as you would see it, their willingness to be open to new ideas to solve new problems, which then of course means that anything “old” ceases to be interesting.

        As it relates to AGW / Mann-style hysteria, the AGW pronouncements were the perfect vehicle for them to get every liberal cause funded and mandated. And therefore, the claims — already questionable — became laughable, then outright dangerous.

      • blueice2hotsea

        GaryM, I think you have it right. Some might have forgotten that this blog is based in the U.S. where conservatism does not mean “God Save The Monarchy”. Here conservatism is about maximizing individual liberty and maximizing individual economic and political power. That radically liberal idea has been around so long in this country, it’s now thought of as old-fashioned and conservative.

      • Rob Starkey,

        I use the term conservative in the way conservatives in the US use it. A “genuine” conservative has views that are compared to the three legs of a stool. Economics – the free market; social policy – the Judeo-Christian ethic; foreign policy – a strong national defense.

        I use the term progressive in exactly the same way progressives have used it for over a century. From Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama, their principles are central control of the economy and government. For some time, the term progressive came into disrepute in the US because of the excesses of the early progressives, including eugenics and Prohibition. (Yes, that was a progressive policy, not the product of the fevered minds of those evil conservatives. Surprise surprise.)

        For the first half of my life, progressives had adopted the term “liberal” because progressives became so unpopular. But then “liberal” too came into disrepute under Carter and Clinton. So now they are back to progressive.

        You don’t define a conservative based on whether he wants change. Conservatives very much want to change the horrendous policies the progressives have foisted on the US – from the regulatory state, to the imperial judiciary, to the “living” Constitution, to the central planning of our health care economy. What we want to conserve are the principles that developed by trial and error of centuries, and that helped to create the richest, most powerful, most generous, most just society ion the history of the planet.

        That’s what a conservative is.

      • I suggest people consider is that there is the actual recognized definition of the word “conservative” and then there is each of your personal evaluations of what the word means to you from a political perspective in the USA.

        When Gary writes-“A “genuine” conservative has views that are compared to the three legs of a stool. Economics – the free market; social policy – the Judeo-Christian ethic; foreign policy – a strong national defense.”

        Gary has formed his own opinion of what he believes a “good conservative” should support and this definition seems to be quite fluid in US culture. The evaluation of a social policy based upon the “Judeo-Christian ethic” is especially ill defined and frequently there seems to be almost schizophrenic conflicts. Take the idea of drug use. Some “conservatives” believe that individuals who use illegal drugs should be locked up without reservation while others believe these laws should be abolished and that the government should not be involved unless the individual doing the drugs harms someone else.

        There are many problems when we start labeling people.

      • Rob Starkey,

        “I suggest people consider is that there is the actual recognized definition of the word ‘conservative’….”

        Indeed. From Merriam-Webster:

        a : disposition in politics to preserve what is established b : a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change; specifically : such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs (as retirement income or health-care coverage)

        Or perhaps you prefer the Oxford Dictionaries:

        2(in a political context) favouring free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas.

        Amazing how my own personally manufactured definition of the word tracks the, you know, actual definition.

        The definition of conservative is indeed quite fluid among certain sectors in the US. That would be among the progressives and those progressives who style themselves moderates. But as a conservative, I prefer to conserve the existing meaning of words. rather than redefine them to suit my purposes..

        And no, I am not in the pay of Big Dictionary, But thanks for playing anyway.

      • Gary

        Interesting that several comments disagreed with the dictionary defination and that there was no mention of the Judeo-Christian ethic

      • Gary – lower taxes and limited government would be a CHANGE!!! Anyway, I’m not defined by anyone’s dictionary.

      • Rob,

        As for the Judeo-Christian ethic, try this in the Oxford definition: “socially conservative ideas.” Guess where socially conservative ideas come from?

        The definition I used tracks almost exactly the Merriam-Webster definition.

        Now here is your definition: “an individual who is reluctant to make changes or accept new ideas.”

        Now I am sure you would get a lot of agreement on the Huffington Post, and from the denizens of MSNBC, but in dictionaries…not so much.


        Precisely. Whether resistance to change is a conservative position depends on what the change is. And although I accept the dictionary term of conservative, there are many conservatives who differ on various individual policies..

      • Gary
        I have pointed out that you and many others are not following the dictionary definition of conservative and that it has nothing directly to do with Judeo-Christian values.

        Socially conservative ideas would be advocating that people maintain the same moral standards as they had in the past. That perspective is not consistent with Republican’s stated positions on many fronts. As an example historically, it would have been unacceptable for a woman to work or to be in senior management or governmental positions. Today, I do not believe you can find any prominent republican who would argue that as a position or societal goal.
        Webster’s defines conservative as “marked by moderation or caution c : marked by or relating to traditional norms of taste, elegance, style, or manners”

      • blueice2hotsea

        Rob Starkey –

        In Russia the old surviving hard-line communists are the arch-conservatives. Conservatism is about preserving traditional values.

        GaryM correctly includes Judeo-Christian ethics as part of traditional U.S. values. Give it up.

      • Blue

        Communism is an economic system. The opposite of communism is probably pure capitalism. There can be communists who are socially liberal and others who are socially conservative.

        I have not given up in educating you yet–lol

      • blueice2hotsea

        Rob Starkey –

        Yes. Of course communism is an economic system. I knew this when I was a child and still have notes from then where I claimed it was compatible with any system of government. Now, I doubt it.

        Now can we get back to the point? Did the framers of the U.S. Constitution aspire to Judeo-Christian ethics? If so, it is a traditional U.S. conservative value. If not that, then what? Confucianism? OK, then THAT is a traditional U.S. conservative value. But please show it or give up.

      • Rob Starkey,

        “Communism is an economic system.”

        Wrong again. Communism is a political system. Marx’s Communist Manifesto was originally called the Manifesto of the Communist Party. It, among other things, discussed the superiority of the communist system as a means to implement socialism, the economic system.

        “The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.”

        The Soviet Union was both communist, politically, and socialist, economically.

        I normally wouldn’t spend so much time on semantics, that was Joshua’s forte. But you are so busty lecturing others on the definition of words, I thought you might like to look at the real definitions.

        You have misdefined conservatism, and communism. Want to take a shot at getting progressivism wrong too?

      • blueice2hotsea,

        This from the original constitution of the State of Virginia:

        “…and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”

        Guess who were among the drafters of that constitution? James Madison and George Mason. Otherwise commonly known as among the founders of the United States.

        Those like Mr. Starkey who buy into progressive historical revisionism love to lecture others on history, while being blissfully unaware of it.

      • blueice2hotsea


        What about the economic communism of the Inuit and early Christians. There weren’t exactly Marxists.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Gary –

        Yes. As I explained to Starkey:

        GaryM correctly includes Judeo-Christian ethics as part of traditional U.S. values.

      • Oh, that explains my confusion. I thought you were saying you were a genuine conservative, but you actually meant you were a Tory. Of course, the AGW scam is pretty widely accepted amongst Tories, and that’s only one of a number of ways in which the British “conservative” party has remodeled itself as the largely-liberal-but-not-quite-as-liberal-as-labor pary.

        Then again, Tony Blair was substantially more conservative than the Tories on a number of issues.

        It’s sad what’s become of the party of Margaret Thatcher.

      • Of course, a similar re-alignment (assuming the Tory re-alignment continues to completion) took place in the U.S. “Reaganomics” was just the new name for the economic policies of JFK. Nixon implemented price controls, and ran to the left of JFK on national defense. The Republican party had historically been the liberal party–the party of Lincoln and TR. The Democratic party was an ideologically diverse group (owing, especially, to the one-party system in the South), but with Johnson’s “Great Socity” the party platform became entirely progressive, which made space on their “right” for Reagan to fill. Only when he rose to President did anti-statism become a recognizable feature of “conservatism.” No coincidence that Reagan started his political career as a Democrat.

      • Statists believe in AGW. Dr. Curry can explain it all in detail, the wherefores and whys. Looking forward to her inside scoop on the subject, soon to hit the pages of Climate Etc.


      • The right wing in the UK is like the left wing of the Heritage Foundation. Within the context of the organization, it might make some sense, but to an outsider…. There is no right wing to speak of in England, or in most of Europe. There probably won’t be until their feather bedded socialist system crashes. Here’s hoping we don’t get drawn into another “European Civil War” in the aftermath.

      • Louise,
        I am a gallant gentleman to ladies.

      • “This particular ‘true believer’ (I assume you mean folks like me who accept that AGW is a problem) is a right wing (Conservative) voter, interesting? Nope. That you thought it would be just shows your own bias once again.”

        If someone didn’t think AGW was a problem, why would they be reading this blog?
        I even think CAGW is problem.
        It seems like it’s related some kind of mental disease or disorder.

        Maybe it is correlated to drug use.
        What Ted Turner, has publicly said, indicates a belief in CAGW.
        But also it would not seem shocking that Ted had a couple drinks before making such a public statement. The idea that entertainer are taking drugs before they do performances, is acceptable behavior- and generally recommended.

        Now, I don’t believe that human CO2 emission has made a measurable increase in global temperatures.
        I think this statement may cause someone who believes in CAGW to get overly agitated.

        CAGW is dependent upon idea that there are runaway effects, whereas AGW doesn’t necessarily need these effects.
        That doubling CO2 causes about 1 C of warming, is not assuming we are on a sure path to becoming like Venus.

        We have not had doubling of CO2 and the increase in global CO2 has increase over decades of time [smearing any small increase in temperature over many years]. And if we actually had a .5 C in
        global temperature from CO2, such small increase over decades is not measurable.
        Though it would be measurable if we had good understanding of climate and all the causes increases and decreases in global temperatures- but I do not believe we have such a level of understanding.
        So I believe there *could have been* some warming from increasing levels of CO2, but I think that so far it’s not been measurable.
        But also think it’s possible that CO2 might cause a smaller affect upon global temperature or it might even cause cooling.

        If I accept that doubling of CO2 causes 1 C warming.
        Then it seems we will not have 1 C increase of global temperature within a century [or ever] which is due to Human emission of CO2. I don’t think by 2100 we will have 800 ppm of CO2: 2 ppm per year is +200 ppm in a century. Need more than 4 ppm increase per year.
        I think planning beyond 100 years as a bit crazy.
        Can anyone say we have more 50 years of fossil fuel?
        And more important in terms of global CO2, does China have 50+ years of coal use?

        In terms of other fossil fuels burning say methane [CH4] most of the energy generated results in making water rather than CO2. And in terms of Human CO2 emission coal burning is a significant portion of the human CO2 emission [why China emits more CO2 than US].

        In summary, it isn’t a significant matter if anyone believes or doesn’t believe in AGW.
        What is important is are you crazy enough to believe in CAGW- do you believe in these feedbacks, theories which are lacking of any evidence and is refuted by the billions of years history of this planet?

      • Louise,
        The existence of some on the right (i.e. Classical Liberals) who accept AGW as a problem does not invalidate an important insight: With the destruction of nationalist socialism in WWII and the intellectual and economic defeat of internationalist socialism in the Cold War, the strongest criticism of freedom and capitalism still standing is green socialism. Even if the evidence for CAGW became overwhelming, it would still be necessary to be sure that mitigation efforts be structured in ways that are economically efficient and that leave us fundamentally free. For many of the ‘greenshirts’ of the left, environmentalism really underpins their anticapitalism. That is why profound skepticism re AGW is mandatory: Its loudest proponents hold ideologies which tell them that lying and cheating are OK in pursuit of (their) good cause.
        So, reasoned debate regarding the science and the evidence is called for. But, when some individuals are exposed as lying and cheating for their cause, then we are well advised to stop listening to them completely.
        No sarcasm intended; serious question: Who on the warmer-than-lukewarmer side can still be trusted? Who on the AGW side has denounced Mann and his lying hockey schtick? Who on the AGW side has called for Peter Gleick to go to jail? Those are the AGW people I want to be listening to.

    • Of course there are True Believers on both sides of the climate issue is that boths sides has individuals who will forever stay on that side, will remain forever unconvinced by any facts presented to them, will find reason the facts that don’t support their position must be wrong or a product of a conspiracy, etc.

  10. I had just posted my comment above and gone elsewhere and the first thing I came across was this:

    “Environmental journalist James Garvey has defended Glick’s behaviour, arguing that he acted in a way that served the “greater good”. He commented: “If Gleick frustrates the efforts of Heartland, isn’t his lie justified by the good that it does?”

  11. johnfpittman

    It is not the sins in others that we hate that should be addressed, but rather, the sins in ourselves that we love.

    With this little reminder of what is considered the better morality, perhaps civil discussion could once again break forth.

    Nah, too many would have to give up that dopamine response of self righteuosness. Humorous to consider that the fuel that the climate wars run on is a group therapy drug response.

  12. Rom 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

  13. The last paragraph of the NYReview is problematic. It’s mere assertion that ‘tribalism and righteousness have become dangerously problematic in an era of rapid globalization’, about which assertion I have my doubts. The next sentence, about the means of purging such traits, is purely out of science fiction.

    Now I know this is just the reviewer. Maybe I should just shut my righteous mouth and read the Haidtful book.

  14. “Liberals don’t understand conservative values. And they can’t recognize this failing, because they’re so convinced of their rationality, open-mindedness and enlightenment.”

    This is why we can’t make much of a dent in the essentially liberal belief in global warming. It’s all of a piece. From Vietnam, to civil rights, to gay rights, to women’s rights, to “women’s right to choose,” to Anita Hill, to the War in Iraq, to medical marijuana, to the right to die, and to just about every environmental issue you can think of, liberals are utterly and wholly convinced of their rightness. I know this first hand because I’m a liberal myself.

    Liberals think conservatives are either stupid, especially blue collar conservatives, or corrupt, especially the politicians, or both as in the case of a guy like George Bush. They simply can’t conceive that about a major issue like global warming, they might be wrong.

  15. It is possible that some of the extremely self righteous bad behavior is done by bi-polar individuals that are hooked on anti-depressants. They are never able to evaluate objectively and go on gut feelings that make them feel good.

  16. I’ve never felt like punching anyone!
    Said that, the problem is that almost always people stop debating because they are unable to document and prove their statements.
    Said both, what I like more is recognizing when I’m wrong. It doesn’t occur that often, but people are surprised when I say I’m mistaken, or even agree with their arguments!

  17. I’ve always said that the most closed minded people I know are open minded liberals.

  18. ” liberals can teach conservatives to recognize and constrain predation by entrenched interests. ”

    Yup Liberals are experts on that …

    Like unions. The Democratic Party. General Electric. All of Obamas supporters. All the parasitical green energy programs. And climate scientists.

    • It’s not the color of your partisanship, it’s the content of your interests.

  19. Real scientists have a communication problem because an ability to understand AGW True Believers cannot come naturally as a matter of logic and reason. Imagine, for example, trying to help solve a puzzle with someone who is simply trimming pieces so they fit together? And, that is exactly what GCM model-makers do. They apply perameters to make models fit historical data. And, that is why the AGW model-makers’ GCMs fail grandly. All you have to do is compare GCM predictions to reality to see that GCMs cannot be taken seriously.

    “Worse still from the alarmist perspective, has been the painfully obvious failure of climate itself to cooperate. For the past three years all over the world savagely cold winter weather has repeatedly set new records for snow and low temperatures. Time after time global warming conferences have been greeted by record and near record cold weather. Trying to dismiss this as merely coincidence or just weather, not climate, has lost all credibility; especially after it has happened repeatedly amidst a background of extreme winter conditions over large areas. Continuing to offer this increasingly lame excuse has only made it look more like a lie or delusion than an explanation.” (Walter Starck, 2-Jan-2011)

  20. Each of us with our own
    Selective screen of experience
    Admitting only features that
    Are important to us.
    Each sees ‘the other’ as
    Deluded, devious
    Or delerious.*

    *Go on, admit it. You know I’m right!

  21. ‘ delirious’ :-(
    (Darn… Now I’ve gone and undermined my position.)

  22. Bernie Schreiver

    Any post, no matter if it is ill-mannered or illogical, can be met with a response that is respectful, well-mannered, factual, and logical. Particularly in modern democracies, this strategy is (in the long run) a winning one, because it is not necessary that everyone be convinced, but only that a majority be convinced. And for most citizens, in the long run, abusive & illogical disrespect of facts is not convincing.

    A rather good historical account that focuses on this strategy is Jonathan Israel’s A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy in which we read:

    The emancipation of man via forms of government promoting the “general good” and life in a free society that accords protection to all on an equal basis, argued d’Holbach in 1770, is not an impossible dream: “if error and ignorance have forged the chains which bind peoples in oppression, if it is prejudice which perpetuates those chains, science, reason and truth will one day be able to break them” (si l’erreur et l’ignorance ont forge les chaines des peuples, si le prejuge les perpetue, la science, la raison, la verite pourront un jour les briser).

    A noble and beautiful thought, no doubt, but was he right? That perhaps, is the question of our time.

  23. If the global warming alarmists of academia were held to the same standard as business they would never see over the mound of class action lawsuits filed against them for the long list of misleading representations for which they are responsible.

    The liberal utopianism greedy self-interest underlying AGW fearmongering has fueled more hate, disruption, prejudice, lost opportunity, misery, poverty and death than anything Honda ever did by failing to prevent advertisers from claiming their Civic Hybrid would use “amazingly little fuel,” and ”provides plenty of horsepower while still sipping fuel” and “save plenty of money on fuel with up to 50 mpg during city driving.”

  24. “We’re lousy at challenging our own beliefs, but we’re good at challenging each other’s.”

    This is hardly news. In fact I had always understood that recognition of this commonplace truth was the guiding principle of the Scientific Method, an archaic system of thought, disregarded in climate “science”, but still thought by many to have certain advantages over alternatives such as “consensus”, or “post-modern” science.

  25. Western liberal utopianism has been on display from Copenhagen to Cancun among those discussing global warming like children hiding under a blanket sharing fears and taking turns scaring each other in the dark. But, the ‘new approach to environmentalism’ – according to Dr. Patrick Moore (co-founder of Greenpeace who authored “Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout) — ‘requires embracing humans as a positive element in evolution rather than viewing us as some kind of mistake.’ Patrick has essentially outed Leftists as perpetrators of an anti-humanist and anti-capitalist agenda by eco-commies.

    • Wagathon, at the risk of being rude, I rather think that the way your political views are so entrenched is at the heart of this article. I lurk here all the time and I am afraid that despite you occasionally having some very interesting things to say I mostly skip your posts because they are so politically polarised.

      Like Louise who posted earlier that she was conservative but an AGW shipper, I am a liberal in my politics but now fairly skeptical. The question of AGW and CAGW is a matter of evidence and it’s response to it a matter of pragmatism. I appreciate that liberal/socialist values tend to focus on the common good, and conservative/libertarian values tend to focus on individual freedom, and as such concern about AGW plays to the liberal conscience more strongly, that’s about as far as it goes.

      The polarity you see on this issue in the US that is along the political divide is just not nearly as strong elsewhere. This idea of ‘liberal utopia’ comes across as somewhat delusional or paranoid, to me anyway. I think the thrust of this book and the reviews is something I would love to see someone like you think about because I think your views has the danger of creating an opposite polarity, which is how we get the entrenched AGW position and the undesirable policy implications that entails.

      • We know global warming is more social than science and is political and not science precisely because it is a Left v. right issue.

      • This is precisely the view I am challenging. It is NOT a left vs right issue at all. It is a scientific question that has political implications. You are far too concerned about the political implications that you have not stopped to objectively assess the scientific question. You are approaching this exactly backwards in my view. It is the notion that the political will was first BEFORE the scientific question was posed that I find so untenable about your position.

        I appreciate absolutely that once the notion of CAGW had been established, it plays much better to liberal sentiments than to conservative ones, but you have seen many commentators here outside of the US whose politics and views on AGW do not line up along the same boundaries as in the US? You are absolutely too coloured in your thinking by a US-centric almost parochial attitude.

        To non-US readers it is absurd, and it undermines the case skeptics of the alarmism to GW have on the genuine scientific and policy response question.

        Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. The whole precept of CAGW is not unreasonable in that it is certainly a question worth asking. For various reasons, confidence in the answer was unwarranted, and a small cabal of scientists have been instrumental in distorting it to the extent it is as politicised as it is, objectivity has been lost, and the whole thing has descended into the sort of tribalism you sadly demonstrate in your posts.

        Seriously, if world temperatures were going up alarmingly, sea levels really were accelerating and parts of new York were starting to flood as a result – if all the indicators were that CAGW was real or beginning to occur, the projections were turning out to be right, how would you expect society to respond? We surely would need governments around the world coordinating a response?

      • We now see that global warming alarmists — all of whom are the creation of a secular, socialist Western civilization gone wild — are not any longer even good atheists. At this point in the global warming hoax, they have become citizens without a conscience and without a country.

  26. I saw his TED talk (and in fact I linked to it earlier on this blog) and liked it a lot. But I was a bit skeptical of the fact that he uses polls, in other words people’s own view of themselves, to find out what values they believe in. So he makes himself blind any distance between theory and practice. The AGW side in the climate debate is leaning heavily on the “conservative” values of purity and authority. My theory is that since, as he points out, the “conservative” values are necessary for stability, any left-leaning political group that claims to reject these values needs to practice some degree of hypocrisy to survive long-term.

    • “I was a bit skeptical of the fact that he uses polls, in other words people’s own view of themselves, to find out what values they believe in.”

      +1. I have read some lectures Haidt has given, in which he conducts polls on the spot. Then he interprets the results in ways he cannot possibly believe are correct, if he understands anything about scientific polling. For one thing, his audience at a lecture is a self-selected group, and he will compare the distribution of their opinions to population-representative samples, accusing the audience of dishonesty because their own sample fractions do not match the population-representative sample polling fraction. Either he is being dishonest for effect (doing a parlour trick with the audience), or he doesn’t understand sampling. Since I tend to suspect the former is more plausible than the latter, I end up generally distrusting what he writes and says. If he is willing to deceive lecture audiences for effect, why shouldn’t I think he is willing to do the same thing in anything he writes?

      Haidt has some interesting things to say but I do not trust his methodology or his empirical arguments because of this. And since most of his interesting claims are finally matters of empiricism, I’m afraid I discount Haidt pretty heavily.

  27. Here’s a discussion from last month on Haigt from The Atlantic Online:

    The discussion included a link to Haigt’s survey web site where you can simultaneously see how your moral values line up with self-identified liberals and conservatives and and contribute to Haigt’s latest research at the same time!

    As far as I’m concerned, an absolutely great party idea would be to have everyone take the “Disgust Scale” survey, record their answers, and then compare notes one question at a time. Trust me on this.

    • (oops, “Haidt”.)

    • Hi John, thanks for the links. the survey is very interesting (takes a while to get through all the different ones)

      • I did the first study, and puzzled at the assumption that ‘money’ is the right currency for some of the possibilities. Money is often irrelevant (at least to me) in certain situations. Would I do something for a million dollars? It depends what it was. Yes, I can imagine being prepared to do some things that I would not normally wish to do (like sitting in a tub of ice-cold water for ten minutes) for a sizeable sum (if I needed it). But stick a pin into a child’s hand? No. That’s not transferable into a money sum.

        Perhaps that is what Haidt is on about. But I might stick the pin, for example, if the alternative were the death of my wife — not a money sum at all.

        Just puzzling.

      • agreed, i didn’t think the ‘what you would do for a million dollars’ survey was very useful. some of the other questionnaires made more sense to me

      • I would just add this. We know very well, through rigorous laboratory experiments, that hypothetical valuation questions result in seriously biased answers. This is a case where Dagfinn’s remark a bit above is exactly the right question.

        To be more precise, hypothetical dichotomous choice valuation questions result in MUCH higher implicit valuations than do real dichotomous choice valuation questions. There is a simple cognitive reason for this: In a hypothetical valuation situation, there is no real economically binding constraint, so the real constraints of real personal circumstances are not salient, as they are in a real valuation task with real economic commitments.

        A classic in this genre of experiments is:

        This is a common methodological mistake that psychologists and social psychologists continue to make. There are many circumstances under which real and hypothetical choice questions generate quite similar answers, but valuation is not one of them. I wish they would stop this garbage.

  28. There is another aspect of this. We seek comfort zones and tend to stay out of areas where folks disagree with us. What this does in reinforce a fortress mentality where liberals and conservatives spend most of their time talking with like minded people and learning nothing. I don’t often seek to try and convince anyone of my position but only that they understand how I got there and also try to understand how they got to the position they have. It is quite acceptable in my book to agree to disagree at the end of an argument particularly if it is of a philosophical nature. In science however, the score is settled with predictions and experiments that validate or eliminate the concept.

    When it comes to climate science, I am convinced that the science is on the early part of the learning curve. With such an immature field, the climate scientists, particularly the modelers should be spending a lot of time with the meterologists, particularly the ones they have disagreements with. Long range forecasters like Joe Bastardi may not be able to write music but they understand the rythms and recognize a discord when they see one. At a minimum they each ought to be making predictions then sorting things out based on what actually occurs. By dividing into camps and launching salvos (mostly insults) at one another, progress in the fields grinds to a halt. in reality, the GCM’s seem to think it all starts in the atmoshere and everything follows. Joe would probably tell you it all starts in the oceans and everything follows. And since the systems are coupled but seem to work on vastly different time scales, there is obviously an element of truth to each. The answer probably lies in sorting out where the emphasis should be and determining how the oceans and atmoshere actually influence one another.

    • Joe Bastardi is the last person any credible climate scientist should be speaking with about climate. His underlying assumption that “everything is cyclical” prevents him from seeing a broader perspective. There is nothing in the past million years to match the current rapid build-up of greenhouse gases. Joe’s weather maps don’t account for Anthropocene weather.

      • Your statement only makes sense if you assume climate is driven by small changes in green house gasses. If the change in concentration in the atmosphere is a minor factor that’s mapped over natural cycles, they Joe has a lot to say about what’s coming next. He believes that the ocean cycles drive the climate and predicted after the turn of the millenia (10 years ago) that temperature rise would stop when the PDO went negative. Well, the temperature stopped rising. The modelers say we need 17 years of stable temps before you can say its not just noise. That’s only a few years away. If the modelers had made the effort to understand the natural cycles, they might not have painted themselves into a corner because the models seem to be able to predict anything except extended periods of stable or cooling global temperatures.

      • R. Gates writes “There is nothing in the past million years to match the current rapid build-up of greenhouse gases.”

        sean2829 is absolutely right in his criticism. It is irrelevant how much the concentration of CO2 has risen in the atmosphere. The climate sensitivity of adding CO2 to the atmosphere from current levels, has been proved, by the observed data, to be indistinguishable from zero. Adding more CO2 to the atmosphere has absolutely no effect whatosever on climate.

      • No Jim, it is not “irrelevant” what the concentration of CO2 is in the atmosphere of this planet. Your denialist perspective would only cause you to issue such an absurd statement.

      • R. Gates writes “No Jim, it is not “irrelevant” what the concentration of CO2 is in the atmosphere of this planet.”

        I entirely disagree with you. What the modern temperature/time graphs show clearly is that there is no CO2 signal in them at all. We can detect a signal of 0,06 C per decade, from unknown causes, above the noise, but an alleged signal of 0.2 C per decade is not there. So we know from observed data that the climate sensitivity of CO2 added to the atmosphere from current levels is indistinguishable from zero.

        If you want to claim I am wrong, then produce a reference showing a CO2 signal in any modern temperature/time graph.

      • John Carpenter

        What is Anthropocene weather?

      • Everything now is Anthropocene weather. Human activity is the single largest change agent on the planet.

  29. steve sutton

    I read another review of this book and what struck me was that liberals value equality above fairness in relative importance while conservatives are just the opposite way arround. I think this fact explains allot in terms of the difference in their respective world views.

    • I think this completely misunderstands the problem with liberalism/progressivism. A liberal will tell you that equality is fairness.

      Progressives value “equality” and “fairness” equally, as they define them. And they define them however they think appropriate on a given issue. Equality and fairness are in the eye of the beholder, as is “for the children.” Which is why these amorphous, meaningless terms are the center piece of virtually every progressive political campaign.

      Conservatives differ from liberals/progressives, not in the degree to which they value equality or fairness, but in how those terms are defined. Conservatives look to established moral principles that form the basis of the free market economic system, and the Judeo-Christian morality that informs our social system.

      Conservatives value equality of opportunity while progressives value equality of outcome. Conservatives define fairness in terms of the rules of the game being the same for everyone. Progressives define fairness as making whatever rules are necessary to ensure the proper outcome.

      The left tries desperately to control the terms of the debate, and constantly changers the definition of words to move its agenda, ie. from global warming to climate change to climate disruption. The fight over terminology is just one of the front in the progressives attempts to control the economy. But it is a crucial one.

      The difference between the conservatives and liberals is not the names of the values they champion, it is whether those values are objective or subjective.

      • GaryM, last night I was at the launch of a book on “Right social justice,” edited by Gary Johns, minister in the Hawke and Keating ALP governments and now in the Australian Catholic University’s Public Policy Institute. He briefly addressed some of the fairness issues, enough for me to buy the book – I’ll post if I find pertinent points in it.

    • Oh, and on the issue of the progressives’ redefining of the English vocabulary – our Chinese and Korean brethren, who died by the millions at the hands of the Japanese in the 1930s and 40s, will be glad to know they were involved in a European Civil War.

      • Funny, I guess the Mail just made it up. Who would think progressives could do anything so stupid?

        I would.

      • Did you actually read the wikipedia article? Yes the Daily Mail made up the whole EU renaming WWII piece, they blame all of the world’s ills on the EU. The Wiki article talks about the whole of the first half of the 20th Century in Europe and the series or wars throughout and that some historians refer to this period as the European Civil War bas the heads of state for many were all part of the same Royal family.

        Try reading your own links.

      • If you Google ‘European Civil War Museum’ you get one relevant hit – the Daily Mail

        If you Google ‘Daily Mail Lies’ you get six relevant hits on the first page

      • Whenever someone asks me if I read an article I linked to, I immediately know they didn’t actually read, or at least comprehend, what I wrote.

        The Mail article doesn’t claim that the European History Museum coined the term European Civil War in reference to WW II. It notes that the Museum, a creation of the progressive governments of Europe, has adopted the term as the title to its WW II display. The Wikipedia article merely shows that it is a term coined and popular in progressive academia.

        The question is not the etymology of the term, but its adoption by a governmental organization as an accurate description of history.

        Now if you want to post something that shows the Museum did not in fact adopt that label, then have at it. Otherwise….yawn.

  30. I heard Haidt interviewed on PBS. It was fascinating as the interviewer regularly and reflexively I think tried to entice him to engage his roots and talk about “them” (being conservatives). He resisted EVERY invitation by redirecting the discussion. I think this is one of the all too rare cases of a science author actually embracing lessons learned from their research that are contrary to their innate belief system. It was a great listen. I actually thought of this website when I was listening. I don’t read much any more besides comp sci and history. I might make room for this.

  31. “Haigt,” Johm N-G ?

    Hope you realise you’ve just undermined your position? :-)

  32. This post, along with the two articles linked to by chuckspinney above, are fun to read. It is always entertaining when progressives turn their keen insight on their brethren.

    I for one am still waiting for the day when an article about the left/right divide by an actual conservative is posted here. But then, to post such an article, one would have to read such articles. And to read such articles, one has to brave the horrors of conservative books, blogs and magazines. So I expect to have a very long wait.

    As to the substance of the post, it starts off on a faulty premise.

    “Why can’t our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount?”

    Assuming this is a fair approximation of the book’s central question, it belies the real issue. Our political leaders can’t work together because they have fundamentally different views regarding governance. The question is not why they can’t all get along, it is which of them is correct.

    You can either have a centrally planned economy, or you can have a free market. If you try to join the two, ala Gorbachev and perestroika, or the Chinese and their state run capitalism, they may muddle along for a while, but inevitably you will either get more freedom, or more central control, and almost always the latter.

    Russia flirted with capitalism for a while after Gorbachev, but is now heading quickly towards oligarchy with a fascist economy (ie. profits are allowed, but industries are absolutely controlled by the government). And the Chinese, who never stopped being despotic, are awaiting the collapse of their Potemkin economy, the results of which no one can predict, but can’t be good.

    There should not be some compromise, middle of the road meeting of the minds on economic governance in general, or in the decarbonisation debate in particular. If one doctor prescribes amputation of a leg, and another prescribes chemo therapy, you don’t cut off half the leg and deliver half the chemo treatments.

    Sorry all you moderates, independents and establishment Republicans. Sometimes you have to actually make a choice.

    • +100 … I’m tired of hearing about how Pubs and Dems can’t come together politically or ideologically. It’s an idiotic idea.

      • Speaking of idiotic ideas there is this book:

        The Plan
        Rahm Emanuel & Bruce Reed
        ‘Big Ideas for America’

        Coming to us all real soon too.
        From the mayor of Shy-town
        Or so it seems.

    • Bernie Schreiver

      GaryM, there *IS* a group of professionals who:

      • regard Dwight Eisenhower as a pretty good president
      • regard Bill Clinton as a pretty good president, and
      • admire especially the “checks and balances” of the Founders.

      These folks are called “historians“, and for them, a central lesson-learned from American history is to distrust equally the ideological-first, black-or-white pronouncements of the Righteous Right and Righteous Left. :)

      As James Madison wisely wrote in The Federalist #10:

      It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.

      The inference to which we are brought is, that the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS.

      CAGW is a good example of a cause of faction (some folks desiring cheap energy, other folks desiring that their lands not be drowned) … we now are seeking a middle ground for reconciling these factions (e.g., carbon markets).

      At present the “cheap energy” faction is electorally dominant … but if it should come about that the scientifically predicted acceleration in sea-level rise is seen in coming years, then it is reasonable to foresee that the “no drowning” faction will prevail, on grounds of economy, justice, and prudence.

      • Bernie Schreiver,

        Using Madison and the Federalist Papers to argue that “a central lesson-learned from American history is to distrust equally the ideological-first, black-or-white pronouncements of the Righteous Right and Righteous Left” is indeed worthy of a smiley face.

        The Federalist Papers were at their core a defense of the ideology of decentralized government, which is anathema to progressives. Federalism, a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary, were specifically designed to prevent the centralization of power in any one group, however labeled. Progressivism seeks first and foremost the centralization of power.

        The left you find so attractive seeks to remove the Constitution, the ratification of which was the whole point of the Federalist Papers, as in impediment to their progressive agenda. So go ahead seek a compromise between polar opposites. Cognitive dissonance is your friend.

        There is no middle ground on CAGW. If the climate scientists are right in their predictions of thermageddon, than drastic action must be taken. If they are wrong, it need not. There is a choice to be made, no matter how scary that is to “moderates.”

        “Historians” by the way are among the most uniformly progressive tribes in our society. I think only social scientists might be even more monolithic. There are some actually conservative historians, but not many, and very few in academia. The fact that you refer to a “‘cheap energy’ faction” tells me that you probably feel right at home with your fellow historians.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        GaryM, please let me recommend to you (and all Climate Etc. readers) a plain-and-simple reading of the (many) discussions of “faction” that occur in The Federalist. The Righteous Right and the Righteous Left will find similarly much to dislike in these passages, because the Founders deplored both factions, and conceived a system of government in which neither could dominate the other.

        There is presently evolving among the Greens an appreciation of the wisdom of this approach, and as the Green equivalents of James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay we can identify the emerging leaders of “Green Federalism” as E. O. Wilson (The Social Conquest of Earth), Jane Goodall (Reason for Hope), and James Hansen (Scientific Case for Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change to Protect Young People and Nature).

        It is clear that the 21st century’s Green Federalists are reading carefully and absorbing wholly the political lessons of the 1780s The Federalist … and this rapidly-evolving and considerate blending of science, scholarship and stewardship will likely prove to be good thing for all Americans, nowadays as at the founding of our Nation.

        Certainly if more folks read-and-reflect upon The Federalist, that is no bad thing! :)

      • Yet another example of someone telling me to read something I have already read, and showing his own ignorance in doing so.

        Your ill informed condescension aside, as either a historian or student of history, surely you are aware that the Federalist Papers were written as support for a Constitution that was proposed as a defense against the rise of a monarchy, aristocracy or other form of centralized governance. I am sure you are also aware that there were no such ideologies as conservatism extant at the time of the founding.

        Adam Smith didn’t publish The Wealth of Nations until 1776; De Tocqueville’s Democracy In America in 1835, and Hayek’s Road to Serfdom in 1944. There was nothing resembling modern conservatism at the time to protect against.

        And Marx didn’t publish Das Kapital until 1867; Lenon and Mao their contributions to the progressive canon much later. Modern progressivism was also not a theeory, let alone a faction, that the founders sought to address.

        The Federalist papers dealt with numerous issues relevant to ratification of the Constitution. Compromise between progressives and conservatives was not one of them.

        The real evidence of the intent of the Founders is the Constitution they in fact ratified, the central organizing principle of which was preventing the very centralization of power you favor (however moderately).

      • Gary M,
        Bernie is here to troll, not to demonstrate his intelligence.
        Which is fortunate, since he is very successful at the former.

      • Bernie,

        You may have had me until you included James Hansen in your list.

        PS – I had the good fortune to meet with Dr Goodall when the science education non-profit I work with did a joint program with Roots & Shoots.

      • Sorry Bernie, you’re fundamentally misreading your text. By faction, The Federalist refers to self-interested groups seeking to abuse the powers of government to their own advantage. The notion of a Green Federalist is so silly I would call it self-satirizing.
        The Federalist is a primary text for conservatives in the USA, because conservatives, by definition, are trying to conserve the existing system which is a limited republic defined by a written constitution.
        Bernie now joins my list of people who are so deeply miseducated that I no longer need to read his comments.

      • Tom Schaub | April 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm |

        It would be a great honor to be considered for your list.

        Please add me.

      • My undergraduate degree is in History and I take exception to being lumped as a “Progressive”.

      • timg56,

        My comment was “’Historians’ by the way are among the most uniformly progressive tribes in our society. ”

        Most uniformly, not completely uniformly.

        Also, the fact that you majored in history does not make you a historian. And if you are a historian, ie. you are a professor/instructor of history, or publish historical research, and you are not a progressive, all I can say is congratulations. You are in a very small minority. Though that minority does exist, as I noted in my comment.

        Don’t blame me for characterizing historians as overwhelmingly progressive, blame the historians who answer poll questions.

        Here is just one example. A poll of historians regarding their opinions of who the best presidents were:

        Eisenhower, a moderate/progressive Republican made the bottom ranks of the list a couple times. But the only genuine conservative is Abraham Lincoln. (Who, by the way, historians are currently trying to deconstruct as a progressive.)

        I would claim Washington as a conservative, since he resisted the efforts to centralize power in himself as king, but I am loathe to politicize our greatest president ever. He may be the only historical figure who genuinely transcends party. Historians rank him fourth, which tells you more about them than about him.

      • Gary,

        I would note that the poll was only of 238 presidential scholars. There are far more historians out there than 238. In fact I would not be surprised to find out there are more than 238 presidential scholars and historians.

        Eisenhower makes the top ten, so I am not following the “bottom ranks” bit.

        I am in complete agreement with you on Washington being our greatest president and his being ranked 4th by these guys being a pretty good indication of the value of their opinions. The fact they rate a sitting president ahead of one whose impact we at least have some sort of distance in time from to evaluate is another sign their opinions are worth what was paid for them in this poll. (Also reinforces my belief that polls are of limited value.)

      • Bernie – first you have to demonstrate CO2 is a catastrophic problem. You don’t seem to like to talk about science. That reminds me of something on another thread.

        “Jim2 | April 19, 2012 at 9:22 am | Reply

        Yes, Punksta, I was wondering if Bernie was here to illuminate or simply denigrate skeptics. The sea level data on U of C web site (TOPEX/JASON) are labeled raw data, but obviously are not the initial sea level data – the average of the actual sea level before additional adjustments. It is frustrating that some climate scientists conflate raw data with adjusted data. Mosher’s argument that all data is filtered through theory is obfuscation. Data is the result of a measurement. That data may and usually does depend on theory, but even so it is a measured value. Models do not measure anything and model output is not data. These issues make climate scientists look sloppy and undisciplined.”

        Bernie – It isn’t just about cheap energy. It is about climate scientists first proving CO2 is a catastrophic problem. We value individual liberty and capitalism more than even cheap energy.

      • Very well said.

        And as someone who could accurately be placed in the cheap energy grouping, I’ll bet that far more people on this planet are going to have their lives improve due to cheap energy in the next 50 years than will see a deterioration through rising sea levels.

  33. The most interesting part of this is not Haidt’s theories. It’s the finding that lefties have no understanding of those who disagree with them while those who disagree clearly understand lefties.

    We can specuate why. I would say it is because lefties are so inflexible that they label as evil all who view morality differently. No need to engage with anyone who is evil. Their opponents recognize that different choices are plausible and are able to understand and predict the attitudes of those who disagree with them.

    • stan,
      As I listen to that most progressive of progressives, our current President, I think an important part of the progressive/leftist mindset is immaturity.

      • I blame the dog for the arrested development, but it might have been the snake or the grasshopper.

      • kim,
        I am certain that we can look at certain Greek tragedies for some guidance on this.

  34. Willis Eschenbach

    Thanks again for an interesting read, Judith. For me the important quote was:

    We’re lousy at challenging our own beliefs, but we’re good at challenging each other’s.

    That, in a nutshell, is why science works, because the system is adversarial. One scientist makes a claim, and others challenge it.

    It is also why the corruption revealed by climategate was so dangerous and has done so much damage to the field—because in order to “save the world” they tried and in a number of cases succeeded in short-circuiting the process of challenging incorrect scientific beliefs.


    • Willis, could you be more specific? Which specific incorrect scientific belief did “they” succeed in short-circuiting the process of challenging? The key word here is “incorrect”.

      • Georges Lemaître first proposed the “hypothesis of the primeval atom.”. Fred Hoyle had proposed a steady state model and dismissed the Belgian Priests postulate as ‘The Big Bang Theory’.
        Terry Pratchett sums it up with “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.”

        Hoyle’s theoretical calculations showed that a static universe was impossible under general relativity and Hubble had shown that the universe appeared to be expanding. Hoyle’s answer was that vacuum caused the creation of matter, with new matter must be continuously created to keep the average density of matter in the universe equal over time.
        Hoyle had a lot of support, given that particles and anti-particles spontaneously appear all the time, it fits general relativity well, it means there was no nothing to something breach of the laws of thermodynamics, only a bending of the rules.
        Hoyle was wrongs, as were his supporters.

      • Most likely Willis is referring to the incorrect assertions of the amount of climate sensitivity with regards to additional CO2.

    • The quote should be “We’re lousy at challenging our own TEAM’S beliefs, but we’re good at challenging the other TEAM’s.” Or perhaps that was implied.

      Willis’ comment is close to the mark in the long term and shows the failure of science in the short term. There is way too much stuff published which is not properly challenged. It’s not just climate science and it goes much deeper than the problems with peer-review. Blog discussions are a step forward. They should be recognized as scientific publications.

      • Not every single post of every troll and other malware, please! Which brings to mind Dr Curry’s:

        I haven’t read Haidt’s book (maybe I would have more time to read if I didn’t spend so much time blogging.)

        Blogging there I assume includes having to read the good, the bad and the ugly on every thread. May at the end it be found that I not have wasted such precious time for our host too often, Lord. (The Blog Commenter’s Prayer – version 0.1. Feel free to improve.)

  35. Perhaps the real change is the relatively new culture of the ‘western left’ has evolved enough to start having group loyalty, deference to authority, and sacred ideas that can’t be questioned (the missing three). This is where all ‘radical’ ideas end up if they go mainstream – that is the only way humans can maintain these massive groupings long term.

    It would explain why so little changes with a new ruling party – we are dealing with two groups that always favor the status quo, the differences are mostly verbal. To get balance we need a group that questions everything again, the way the left used to.

  36. I was raised by liberals, educated by liberals, and for 7 years worked as a pastor for a liberal religious group, under the most liberal senior pastor in the area. I know liberals, and liberal thought, well. Unfortunately, most liberals can’t describe conservative thought in anything beyond the talking points they get from their sources (MSNBC, DailyKOS, etc). Therefore, I can safely say, liberals aren’t the educated ones in this matter.

    Liberalism is all about “fads” that seem to sweep their ranks. Years ago it was DDT, then Aldar, then AGW, and tomorrow it will be something else. This makes them prone to manipulation by those who want to obtain other goals in life — witness the hijacking of AGW science to further financial and political aims of those who were NOT climate scientsts, or even had a reasonable scientific claim (“Global warming causes cancer” or some such things).

    Sadly, for them — and for me at one time — the “feel” that they are the educated ones, that they are the moral ones, and that all others are either stupid or evil. Many are surprised when they encounter educated conservatism for the first time, although respond as though they’ve been physically threatened when such encounters occur.

    My strategy for AGW believers was to simply wait them out — I know that another new fad will come along, and this will all return to backwater status. Can anyone tell me the last time they’ve had an environmentalist talk about holes in the ozone? Well, same thing will happen here.

    • geek49203,

      This is true of the vast majority of modern conservatives. The progressive view of history, economics and governance has dominated the educational system since at least when I was in school, which was indeed long ago. To be a conservative you have to think against the grain of what you are taught. You have to be able to change your mind.

      To be a progressive, all you have to do is accept what you are taught, accept what those around you believe, and accept what authority tells you. That is why I refer to most progressives as default progressives. Who are much different from movement progressives.

      Default progressives not only can’t articulate conservative theories, they aren’t very good at explaining progressive theories either. They often don’t even know that what they believe is the product of progressive ideology. They believe it really is all about fairness and for the children. This goes for moderates, independents and establishment Republicans as well. It sounds good, so why don’t we compromise? Why can’t we all just get along – as we march ever closer to the economic and political abyss.

      • Should American (hell, Canadian and European too!) liberalism ever come up with a solution to the things they claim to care about that doesn’t involve some massive, all-powerful government program at the highest levels of government, I might rejoin their ranks. I mean, it’s not that conservatives don’t decry environmental damage, or racism, or poverty, etc etc. Rather, the major difference seems to be that conservatives have a dim view of government’s ability to do more than its basic functions, and a deep distrust of any attempt by government to do more than basic functions.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Geek49203, please let me commend to your attention the recent writings of the above-mentioned “Green Federalists” (Wilson, Goodall, and Hansen). Just as the ardent American radicals of the 1770s evolved to become the sober-minded Federalists of the 1880s, the argent Greens of the 1970 are evolving to become todays’s Green Federalists.

        For example, in Wilson’s novel Anthill, the idealistic Green protagonist Raphael Semmes Cody trains to become (what else) a land-use lawyer who works *FOR* (as a loyal and conscientious employee) a private firm of developers. As Wilson expresses it (in vividly profane language):

        Oh for G*d’s sake. What is this, f**king Earth Day? People sure don’t like tree-huggers coming here and gobbling up the best land.”

        Raff lived by three maxims. Fortune favors the prepared mind. People follow someone who knows where he’s going. And control the middle, because that’s where the extremes eventually have to meet. He opened his mouth and said …

        To learn more about Raff/Wilson’s brand of Green Federalism, you’ll have to read his book! :)

        More broadly, anyone who is familiar both with the text of The Federalist and with the recent writings of Wilson, Goodall, and Hansen will recognize numerous, striking (and consciously developed?) parallels between the American Federalism of the 18th century and the emerging Green Federalism of the 21st century.

        And this emerging parallelism seems like a good thing to me. :)

    • Geek,

      The concern over anthropogenic climate change isn’t a “fad”, and neither was the very valid concern over DDT and the destruction of the ozone layer. Your viewing them as such is more indictative of your own bias toward these issues. People don’t talk about the destruction of the ozone layer anymore because the world took action. People don’t tallk about DDT anymore because the world took action. These issues were not like the real fads of playing with yo-yos or hula hoops. DDT and the destruction of the ozone layer were real scientifically based envinomental issues. You’re viewing them as “fads” helps you to diminish them in your own mind– so like I said, says more about you than anything else.

      • Great loss of lives with the DDT fad, and great loss of treasure with the Ozone Hole fad. Oh, nevermind that, it was the intent.

      • Mr/Ms Gates — sure were fads. They *might* have been actual problems, but in fact, they *were* fads. As in, liberals were in near hysterics for a while, and then… nothing. Ditto for “El Salvadore” back in the Reagan years. Not to mention “Gitmo” and “Bush tax cuts for the Wealthy” in recent time. Now you hear nothing but these ideas, next week, *crickets.*

        I will remind you that I worked for these people. Honestly, I spent more time as a pastor one year talking about replacing styrofoam cups (remember that fad?) than the plight of the impoverished in nearby Detroit, by a long shot.

        Wanna know my final “clue” on this conclusion? Remember when the liberals were all anti-nuke, and pro-unilateral disarmament in the Reagan years? Well, when the USSR fell apart, and weapons were dismantled, I didn’t hear one sound from liberals. No parties, no celebrations, nothing. They just enjoyed the “feeling” of being cool, progressive, and caring more than anyone else. And of protesting– protesting becomes its own addition I think.

      • What company saved about 6 million dollars a year by replacing styrofoam containers?

        Maybe they did it both because it is better for the environment and because it saved money.

        McDonalds can be both librul and evil at the same time.

      • Non sequitor. First, this wasn’t about cost savings of McD’s. This was an example of how the left has these causes de jour that are red-hot one day, and almost forgotten the next. I still spent more time working with liberal Christians about styrofoam cups for the after-church coffee than I did working to relieve the poverty of the third-world country called “Detroit” a few miles away.

        And for the record — since those styrofoam containers were made near my house back in the day — the paper wrapers (actually paper-plastic-paper laminates) that replaced them are NOT biodegradable either, and unlike the foam, not recycylable. Yet another example of the problems associated with “We must do something NOW” tendencies of the Left.

      • We get a lot of we must do this now from the right, with respect to overturning Roe v Wade, the recent health care legislation, opening the Arctic National Wildlife Sanctuary to oil exploration, allowing prayer in schools, and dismantling the EPA to name a few.

        Well, anyway, I was a liberal in the Reagan years, but never anti nuke and never pro-unilateral disarmament.

        Not all liberals think the way you are quick to portray.

        AGW is no fad, in fact it is older than all of the current existing US political parties.

        You want to talk about CFL bulbs and where you are most unlikely to find incandescent bulbs?

      • How in the hell did you go from “liberals and conservatives don’t understand each other” to your liberal rants? PLEASE try to learn what conservatives really think, so you can actually SPEAK to us in terms that might actually “convert” us (as the original piece suggests you do). From the top:
        – “We get a lot of we must do this now from the right…” You missed the point. Let me make it again. Liberals seem to not mind if their solutions are ineffective, or downright dangerous. That is the hazard of constantly thinking new thoughts I suppose. My styrofoam example (along with others) points out times when the solutions were, uh, half-assed.
        – “AGW is no fad…” Again you miss the point. The **INTEREST** in it, the *USE OF IT** is in fact a fad. I never once had people ask me to do a protest over AGW while in a liberal seminary, and the subject never came up in liberal activist church situations. Hell, AGW has mostly disappeared from the national political scene now, right? It’s had its 15 minutes.
        – “You want to talk about CFL bulbs…” Yes, we do. It summarizes the complaints. First, we are FORCED to change — something that conservatives believes violates basic laws of limited government. Second, the solution is half-assed, as one bulb breakage pretty much negates with mercury poisoning a bunch of coal savings, right? Third it was done at the behest of companies that supported the Dems, crony capitalism at its worst, something your side decries when it is out of power!

      • “AGW is no fad, in fact it is older than all of the current existing US political parties.”

        The Democrat Party was established in 1792. Even Mann’s infamous hockey stick doesn’t purport to show AGW until the late 1800s.

        But hey, it sounded good.

      • R. Gates,
        That you don’t recognize or admit to the faddish nature of most social manias tells a lot more about you. That you confuse the science behind the fads with the fads leaves you floundering and looking sort of silly.

      • People don’t tallk about DDT anymore

        Yes, particularly the tens of millions of African children who have died as a result.

      • I notice you left out Aldar. But lets discuss the two you did mention. DDT – while the concern about the impact to egg shells of certain avian species was valid, the lack of concern for the millions of lives impacted by malaria because DDT was not utilized was disgusting.
        Ozone hole – exactly what horrors have occured as a result of the hole? Last time I checked, it’s still there. Why are we not seeing stories about it in the MSM any more?

      • Sorry, later scientific studies showed the link to thin shells had nothing to do with DDT. It was a result of unusually young raptor populations because the relevant species were just recovering in numbers due to a ban on hunting. Even the supposed liver cancers couldn’t be replicated in later studies. DDT is far less toxic than the far more expensive pesticides that replaced it. Silent Spring is up there with Mein Kampf in the list of nasty books on my list. Killed more children.

      • Sorry, You’re dead wrong. The rush to judgement on DDT was a fad. Junk Science. Tens of millions of dead children in the 3rd world and no evidence from toxicology that DDT was ever a threat to anything.
        Same with the ozone layer hysteria. Junk science.
        Go to or read Junk Science Judo for documentation. The science on both issues is indeed settled. Their was no environmental threat, and costs imposed on society were completely unnecessary.
        Tens of million dead children.
        If a fossil fuel industry had foisted this nonsense on us, their executives would be in prison.

  37. We’re lousy at challenging our own beliefs, but we’re good at challenging each other’s. Haidt compares us to neurons in a giant brain, capable of “producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system.”

    It is called being in a familiar place. Ever tried to give directions to someone. You know the turns, but what about the street names? When I am very familiar with an area, such as my neighborhood, I can easily tell people “first right, second left”, but am very hard pressed to name the streets. I do not need to know them. I just need to know the turns.

    Thus it is with our own beliefs. We already know them, so we do not have to name them. But when telling someone how to get from an unknown place to our place, we make sure they know the names as well. We know the arguments against what we do not believe, but having gone over the same road so many times, we may forget the arguments that got us there in the first place.

  38. Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2011) addresses similar issues and is very readable. The author, an Israeli-American psychologist and Nobel laureate, summarizes his research on what he calls System 1 and System 2 in this book, discussing how intuitive decisionmaking and more deliberate decisionmaking occur. The results of the research are deeply troubling to anyone who would like to think humans are rational decisionmakers.

  39. ‘By their fruits you will easily recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thorns or figs from brambles?’ Matthew 7.16

    We have such a recent history of horror, torture and murder. Do they in all high mindedness advocate suspension of democracy and disruption of economic systems? Well yes – and we know where that leads. Even without such blatant nonsense there are more subtle distortions of rational economic and social policy that have dire ramifications for real people.

    • That “recent history of horror, torture and murder” was as much a result of the suspension of morality, as it was of the interference in democracy and the economic system. Name a prior society that rejected the notion of objective, enforceable morality and lived to tell the tale, without devolving into abject tyranny?.

      Liberaltarians, moderates, independents be warned.

      • Enforcable morality must be based on the golden rule – do unto others. The language you use is a bit odd – morality is the realm of the individual and the family. Law is the province of the state and at essence is the protection of the weak against the strong. We may argue about particular laws – but the bulwark is in democracy, the rule of law and freedom of the individual.

      • Protection of the weak against the strong is somehow not a moral choice? What is it, genetic? Not anywhere else in nature. Not to mention, there are lots of physically weak criminals. Does the law protect weak criminals from strong honest people?

        The law is at its very essence a series of moral choices. The pretense that morality is a personal matter is just that, a pretense.

        Rape, robbery, murder, slander, all are immoral acts. They have all been outlawed by one society after another for that very reason. Not for their utilitarian value, but because they are wrong.

        I love libertarians who preach that you can’t legislate morality, when the very centerpiece of their hybrid philosophy, liberty, is a moral precept.

        When someone says you can’t legislate morality, what they mean is you can’t legislate your morality.

      • I rather prefer the inverse version of the GR – Don’t do unto others that which you would NOT have them do unto you. Dems, true-believers, alarmists and all the rest, are you listening?

  40. Michael Larkin

    Interesting synchronicity. Just prior to reading this post, I’d read and replied to Keith Kloor’s post: “Rejection of Science Not Unique to Climate Change” with a comment that I think is relevant here. I’ve copied this reply below.
    Just look how you have phrased the title of this post, Keith. I don’t reject climate science, it’s more that I’m sceptical of certain aspects of it, specifically, CAGW. I’m less sceptical about GM food science. It’s quite possible that for some others, their positions would be the other way round.

    Just because you or someone else begs to differ, doesn’t mean that I’m a “rejecter”, which I think is a euphemism for “denier”. All it means is that I take a different view from some others. It’s quite normal for people to have different scientific views: even scientists working in a particular field do so. It’s just that some fields have become so politicised that it’s impossible to have a reasoned and productive debate. And in the eyes of some, if others disagree with their view, that means they are bound to be as mendacious and obstinate as they perceive them in *all* scientific areas.

    The way you have phrased the title is broken, Keith. It’s part of the problem. “Rejection” is a value-loaded word. “Rejection of science” carries with it the connotation of “Rejection of truth”. But Science and Truth are not synonyms. Newtonian science was not truth, but nonetheless it was very definitely science, and good science to boot.

    Science is almost by definition *not* truth. If it were, then no scientific progress would be possible. Long ago, we would have discovered the “truth” about the world and our evolution as a thinking species would have ceased.

    God save us all from “settled” science–a political/philosophical stance which by its very nature is anti-evolutionary.

    I didn’t mention anything above about a left/right dichotomy. This is in any case something that seems an obsession in the USA. Here in Britain and the rest of Europe, I think that on the ground there is a much more nuanced view of left vs. right. We can actually realise that both sides have their plus and minus points.Some of us have views that comprise what we see as the best from both camps. Which is why I find no party in the UK actually represents my views as much as I’d like, and why I don’t intend voting again until one arises. Whichever party I vote for, it is bound to do something that will end up pissing me off, so a pox on all their houses.

    • Which is why I find no party in the UK actually represents my views as much as I’d like

      It’s nice to see I’m not alone in feeling that.

    • Note quite right — “embracing the habit of truthfulness [is] a main pillar of the ethos of science.” (Steven Shapin)

      If we cannot trust scientists to tell the truth then sceince will have no credibility. “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” (Isaac Newton)

      It is the love of truth for its own sake that is what defines the philosopher of ancient Greek tradition. But then, of course, the Greeks were not atheists and any departure from truthfulness would essentially be spitting on God.

      • Science doesn’t have credibility. Science is a method, not an entity. It is those who rely on appeals to authority the most who anthropomorphize science. It is a mistake to buy into their terminology.

        Scientists have integrity, or don’t. But you can no more blame “science” for their faults, than you can blame structural mechanics for a bridge that falls down due to the negligence or dishonesty of the structural engineer.

      • So the ancient sceince of astrology is just a method and some astrologers have integrity and some don’t, is that it? Is ‘truth’ just a method too? The EPA isn’t a method it’s government agency with no credibility because it is populated with bureaucrats with no scientific integrity.

      • Astrology did not qualify as a science because it lacked the aspect of experimentation. (Much like climate science)

        And you make my point by pointing out that the EPA, a governmental organization not a method, is seen by many as having no credibility (scientific or otherwise) because many of the bureaucrats who people it have none.

        People have credibility or don’t. Institutions have credibility or not based on the conduct of the people who comprise them. Science is neither a person nor an organization. Again, it is a mistake to follow the left’s lead in anthropomorphizing “science.”

        Leave bastardization of the language to the left.

      • Renaming global warming to climate change to disastrous climate is bastardization of the languange. Needless to say, thinking that schoolteachers will save the world is a leap of faith that gives wings to the global warming pseudoscience that Japanese researcher Kanya Kusano compared to ‘ancient astrology’ while other serious scientists consider climatologists as no different from the readers of tarot cards and tea leaves or witchdoctors schooled in the art of casting of chicken bones to foretell the future. Western schoolteachers cannot be taken seriously because they cannot admit that a belief that has not been validated and can never be validated is what we call superstition, not science. Besides, we know what causes global warming and global cooling: nominally, it is the sun, stupid.

  41. We’re lousy at challenging our own beliefs, but we’re good at challenging each other’s

    I believe that’s because we’re too close to our own beliefs, and so cannot view them objectively – indeed often being unable to distinguish between our beliefs and the truth.
    But of course, that’s just my belief – I could be wrong ;-)

    • The idea of challenging one’s own beliefs is metaphorical nonsense. How do you do that? Review what you previously considered, hoping for a different result? Given no newinformation, why change your mind? Develop a second personality, that questions your first one, with a third as judge?

      Note that further investigation is not challenging one’s beliefs, it is just more research.

      The concept makes no sense, despite its popularity.

      • Lots of people can entertain differing beliefs – makes sense to me, it’s part of my basic training. If you’re already committed to a particular belief, this is trickier, but you can still consider what form of reasoning (or programming if you favor the information metaphor) might lead you to another conclusion.

      • What do you mean by a form of reasoning, such that they lead to different conclusions when the same person uses them? Surely only one can be correct. How do you decide which one to use?

        If your beliefs change from day to day for no reason you may not be sane.

      • Why can only one be correct? Lets say your reasoning is premised on certain values. It may be worth entertaining the fact that different values might guide your reasoning in a different direction. By this you may essentially be asking a different question/posing a different problem, but I think this is something people do regularly when they are supposedly arguing about the same issue (politics particularly).

      • David Wojick | April 19, 2012 at 9:13 pm |

        “Surely only one can be correct. “


        Are you sure you’re a philosopher?

      • David Wojick | April 19, 2012 at 9:13 pm |

        To explain my remark, many philosphies, and most philosophers, allow for different correct conclusions from the same premise for the same person without sanity coming into question.

        While expecting the same action to have a different result may, per Albert Einstein, define insanity, it’s hardly the same thing as what you said.

      • David, you can challenge your beliefs by more detailed study of reality, to see if they stand up. For example, if you believe that you are a solid, enduring entity then find by close examination that you consist of minute particles arising and passing away with great rapidity, your belief might change.

      • You appear to be assuming that beliefs are adopted by way of some rational reasoning process.
        Some are, but I would venture that most aren’t.
        A belief will always trump reason.

    • “We’re lousy at challenging our own beliefs, but we’re good at challenging each other’s”

      I think that it would be pretty much impossible to function if you didn’t have faith in your own beliefs. You cannot work in science unless you have a good grounding in what is going on. However, pretty much of everything of interest is ‘fuzzy’ and consists of your own and others guesstimates. You have to have a stab at which guesstimates you have the most faith in so you are on firmish ground to bigin your building work. It could very well be that you are working on quicksand.

  42. How’s this for righteous?

    “We know who the active denialists are – not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies. Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay. Let’s let their houses burn. Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.

    They broke the climate. Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?”

    Steve Zwick writing in Forbes

    • By that logic those on the Left should pay more for goods and services. The Left is anti-business so why should they be treated as well as loyal customers who appreciate those who actually provide something of value to society that others voluntarily wish to buy?

  43. So let me ask a question — if our moral views are more pre-wired than we imagine them to be, perhaps this accounts for a shift in many people from liberal to conservative as we age? It’s not that we get “wiser” or something but rather that our brain’s aging predisposes us to be conservative?

    • How pre-wired do you imagine your moral views to be? This is just the good old mind-body issue, a conceptual confusion, but a great one.

  44. blueice2hotsea

    Some 10-12 years ago Haidt was a partisan liberal when he discovered what was (to him) a mysterious, ominous portent. And he apparently did not quite believe it. It implied that if he continued down the path of understanding BOTH liberals and conservatives, he himself would become a conservative. But he did. And now he is.

    It is analogous to maturation. A child understands children’s motivation and also attributes childish motives to adults, then after obtaining adulthood understands both.

  45. blueice2hotsea

    oops. And now he is no longer a liberal partisan. Don’t know if he has moved beyond conservatism or not.

  46. The claim that 99% of our mental processes occur outside of awareness is incoherent at best. How are they mental? Is there a second mind in our heads that does the thinking then feeds the results into awareness? Of course psychs love this absurd model because they get paid to study this hidden mind, that supposedly controls our thinking. Mabe it too has a hidden mind, and so on, minds all the way down.

    The only mind we have is the one we have. How it works is another issue, but the subconscious mind makes no scientific sense.

    • While I have a bit more time for the concept of the subconscious than you, David, I would love to see an explanation of how they came up with the 99% figure. What twaddle. As you say, it is a ridiculous way to conceptualise the way we think.

    • blueice2hotsea

      David –

      When I asked my conscious mind if I have a sub-conscious mind it answered, “Who wants to know?” (A real joker.) I asked again and it answered, “How would I know? So I took a nap and that’s the correct answer just popped into my brain. Weird.

      • Waking up with an answer is interesting, but the big question is why we come up with answers at all? Why is this specific response occurring to me now, as opposed to all the other possible rational responses, which must number in the hundreds or thousands?

        Waking up with an answer is really no more mysterious than coming up with an answer when awake. Positing a hidden mind does not address this fundamental question. (The issue tree model does help, but that is a different issue.)

      • David, I wonder what you make of this phenomenon:

        From time to time through my life I have done cryptic crosswords. When I have done no crosswords for some time, I find I am very slow. If I do a crossword daily for some time, I start to get quicker. This is particularly pronounced if each crossword is from the same setter, but seems to apply generally. If I go on doing the same crossword daily for long enough, I start ‘coughing up’ correct answers after the most cursory look at the clue, and certainly without any sense whatsoever of ‘thinking’ about it. I literally have no experience whatsoever of parsing the clue, certainly not of the usual process of sifting synonyms, homophones, etc that I had to do when I started – the answer, for a growing number of clues in each crossword I do, is just there as a word – and THEN I become conscious of it’s MEANING. This seems to be a fundamental reversal of the usual order of mental business. If I give up crosswords for a while, I lose this proclivity.

        As far as I can see, an unconscious mental process is at work here. Even if I am learning the setter’s style, I do not consciously experience following the set of rules I may thus have learned. And of course I have ‘reverse-engineered’ my ‘Rainman’ answers, and when I do I find a set of rules far too extended to be consciously worked through in the time it took my mind to become conscious of the answer. And I would still be left with the ineluctable fact of my experience – that of being conscious of a familiar word a brief moment before I am conscious of its meaning.

      • Tom – look at it this way. If every neuronal impulse everywhere in your brain impinged on your consciousness, your conscious mind would be awash with white noise. Unless you believe that only neurons involved in consciousness are firing, then there has to be a subconscious.

    • “The claim that 99% of our mental processes occur outside of awareness is incoherent at best. ”


      But, sort of tangent, there is a social conscious.
      That Einstein did some of my thinking.

      Millions of humans and centuries of time, transfer knowledge.
      Not just transfer, they are mining and processing “knowledge or ideas” and a distilled substance is transferred.
      That might be 99.9% :)

      Though, large amount can be blah, blah.

      • Certainly, a great deal of what we know we learned from others, who did the same, via the accumulation of knowledge and other beliefs. That is not a form of mental consciousness.

    • David, we only have one mind, but are normally conscious of only a small fraction of it, our rational consciousness is not in touch with the parts of the mind which dominate. Read “An Ancient Path” by Paul Fleischman (the psychiatrist, not the children’s author) then sit a Vipassana course.

      I have great respect for you based on your posts here and looking at your website, but there’s a gap in your knowledge here.

      • Faustino, as an analytical philosopher of mind I have explored the concept of the unconsious mind extensively and it makes no sense. It is a poor metaphor disguised as science. The mind consists in experiencing plus having thoughts, both of which occur in consciousness. Is the unconscious mind seeing things and having thoughts, that we are not aware of? How is this possible? If it is doing something else it is not a mind.

        Why and how we have the thoughts we have is an important scientific question. But positing a second, unconscious mind does not help, in fact it is a redundant obstacle to understanding the mind. There is no second mind behind the mind.

    • David, have you looked behind you’re mind? Who’s looking? There’s awareness outside (behind) your conscious mental processes. You can test it. It’s the ultimate scientific experiment.

      • Edim, both behind and outside are spatial concepts, but the mind does not occur in space, so neither is applicable. This is a good example of the metaphorical confusion that infests the concept of the unconscious mind.

    • blueice2hotsea

      David –

      [P]sychs love this absurd model … this hidden mind, that supposedly controls our thinking.

      Yes, I agree the model is flawed. It has the rider serving the elephant, a one-way service which is not wholly true. Good luck with improving the model.

      The notion that thoughts can alter brain physiology beyond simple neural connections is now well established. However, some decades ago when I presented this simple negative feedback idea as a research topic for my master’s thesis, I was cut short minutes into my presentation and the whole thing tossed into the trash.

      The problem has deep philosophical roots and is of a sort which does not permit self-examination.

      • blueice2hotsea

        BTW, my advisor chaired the Dept. and was to my recollection a rare-bird political conservative. I have personally been on the receiving end of the righteous mind problem so many times I have lost count. Each time I have fled to a new career imagining that I would find less craziness. And each time found out the hard way no dice. Worse, the righteous mind is infectious. Still in recovery.

  47. It won’t do to minimize the blockage liberals have to understanding conservatives because of self-righteous certainty. That is the most egregious and pernicious block to learning and communication that can be imagined. In effect, it guarantees the opposite of what it assumes and claims: stupidity instead of intelligence, ignorance instead of knowledge.

  48. Re Gary M @19/4 1/13pm on EU’s narrow summation of WW2.
    Phillip Bobbitt in his massive history, ‘The Shield of Achilles,’ (Penguin 2009) traces the evolutionary history of the western state from the16th century, legitimacy of the dynasty or prince state, to the 18th century territorial state and the 19 century state nation in which the nation set out to to forge the identity of the nation, to 20th century developments which fous on welfare of citizens.
    Bobbitt, a constitutional lawyer and former senior adviser at the White House sees this unending process evolving into new market economy states in varios ways that will maximize opportunities in the global economy,

    Bobbitt argues the changes from one state to another are traceable in the dynamic interaction between law and war, institutionalized in important historical treaties such as Westphalia, Vienna but not Versailles. He views Versailles as a truce in what he refers to as a ‘Long War’ which began with Bismark’s Prussian State and continued beyond WW11. fought out to determine what kind of state would supersede the 19 century state nation. From Bismark on, a battle for legitimacy has been played out, with global reprecussions, between proponents of three kinds of state, Fascist, Communist and Parliamentary Democracy,

    The legitimacy for any of the three of the modern states, is revealed in its constitution which manifests the values of its citizens. The state’s legitimacy involves protecting, buffering or expanding its hegemony through containment or war with the rival contenders. :-(
    This was the basis of what Bobbitt called the Long War, ongoing in the cold war inwhich the US and USSR, not Europe, are the major players.

    ‘The Sword of Achilles’ is a broad and detailed history of 827 pages plus copious notes, well worth reading when you have time…

    ( Darn, there goes my morning! )

  49. I miss Firing Line with William F. Buckley. You’d see liberals and conservatives engage each other in spirited and usually civil debate. Larry King’s radio show was also pretty good in the 80’s. Every weeknight, he would have a one hour interview followed by two hours of call in questions, followed by two hours of open phones. Some stations carried an additional 20 minutes of open phone. That was the golden age of debate.

  50. Logically speaking there is a problem

    • Steven Mosher

      the problem is the comment they cite ( as an example of DL) looks like an IPCC approved list of problems with models. Which would make the IPCC an example of DL.

      They also edit the comment in a weird way in their paper changing its meaning somewhat. Here is the comment in full. It’s not at all close to what they represent it as. Basically they selectively edit a comment to produce an example of DL, but when you look at the actual comment you find out that it points to a number of sentences that could come straight of of the IPCC.

      “The biggest hole is that the models are close to falsification about as soon as is mathematically possible. Individual problems include the stratosphere is not behaving as modeled. The troposphere is not behaving as modeled. Ocean heat content change is not indicative of a large energy imbalance. Ocean oscillations are poorly understood. Aerosols are poorly understood. Storms are poorly understood. Clouds are poorly understood. Sea level rise attributions are simplified and contributing factors ignored. Sea level rise is not accelerating. Warming is not accelerating. The biosphere is poorly understood. Ice sheet flow is poorly understood. There is a lack of consistency in arguments regarding transient and equilibrium senitivities. Land use changes and heat transport from land use changes are poorly understood. Perhaps I missed some since I never really tried to make a list before. On a positive note I do think the scientists know CO2 is a GHG. After that I’m not real sure they have firm handle on anything.

    • Eli,
      Shame on you for offering up a deceitful, parsed pile of rabett droppings.

    • Eli Rabett | April 20, 2012 at 1:17 am |

      Sweet. It’s been way too long since I’ve read any Lengyel.

      Mosher: forest, trees. “They also edit the comment in a weird way in their paper changing its meaning somewhat.” Yes. The edit preserves the elements of DL they are examining in that particular passage. The ellipses of the irrelevant (to their specific discussion) portion is inconsequential to the point the authors make in that specific section of their paper.

      You may as well be saying the following entry from page 3 of the paper is editted in a weird way (see my bolding):

      • justification constants c, c1, c2, . . .
      • justification variables u, v,w, x, y, z, x1, x2, . . .

      Lengyel & St.-Pierre describe a DLxLP model that shows propositional logic (and some constraints) compensate for failings of a strict subform of justification logic they call ‘denial logic’. It’s a pretty nice result in mathematics, and appears mathematically robust.

      Translation for the layman: however strongly an argument (using DL) against a claim appeals to you, there may be a better, stronger argument (using LP) for the claim you haven’t tried and possibly can’t even see.

      And it’s a two-edged sword, so don’t get hung up on the ‘denial’ part.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Bart R.

        The comment which was used as an example of Anthropogenic Global Warming [Denial Logic] was not a logical argument or even by a denier. So, Lengyel screwed up. His science of Denier Logic BEGINS with a subjective superficial determination of CAGW creds. Then, by definition, all else use denier logic.

        To recap: The comment is simply a factual listing of uncertainties in response to Judith Curry’s question:

        What are your thoughts on the biggest holes in climate science?

        JC’s question was provoked by Quirin Schiermeier’s Nature article: “The real holes in climate science.” It notes:

        In its most recent report in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted 54 ‘key uncertainties’ that complicate climate science.

        Schiermeier received The American Meteorological Society 2011 Award for Distinguished Science Journalism in the Atmospheric and Related Sciences. But is clear from Lengyel’s analysis that Schiermeier comments sans ID would be held up as a prime example of denier logic. Funny.

      • blueice2hotsea | April 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm |

        a) Source of a statement is irrelevant to its logic; a source can be quoting, paraphrasing, summing up a group of typical statements, expressing earnestly the sum of its own logic, but whatever else a source can’t be its own logic. (See Russell’s Paradox)
        b) Two edged sword. As in cuts both ways.

        Read harder.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Bart R

        The source example of Denier Logic was not an example of logic. Certainly not an honest example. Better to have used a completely fabricated example w/o the reference to JC’s blog.

        Think harder.

      • blueice2hotsea | April 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm |

        Uh, yeah.

        Think like you?

        That would be harder on us all.

        I’ll just keep thinking more like a mathematician a little longer.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Bart R –

        To be more clear. The inability to restrain from a drive by, disingenuous insult aimed at JC within a paper on mathematical logic is irrational and therefore FUNNY. Irrational logic? Get it?

        My math skills are not what they used to be. Maybe the Texas heat got to me. (will get to you too) However, I have been slinging code for nearly 40 years and have gotten rather good at compensating for the fall off.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Bart R –

        Finally, the touch-point for this tiff was the modeling of

        an agent who believes that climate models are as close to falsification […] as mathematically possible”

        Jeez. Couldn’t they have used an actual example of denier logic instead of twisting words to slander someone who is CLEARLY NOT A DENIER? For me, the actual comment was a teasing observation that IPCC claims will be falsifiable in principal just as soon as the 54 key mathematical uncertainties have been fully worked out. That’s FUNNY.

        Of course, to be falsifiable in principle is a key differetiator between science and religion.

  51. Of all the value judgements on this page, this is the one I least understand:

    Dr. Curry says: Here is another book with some similar themes, but one that isn’t partisan.

  52. It seems to me, if we look at ‘law in historical contexts we can’t say that “the law’ only means objective enforcible morality, an issue raised earlier. In the evolution of states from dynastic to nation states, ‘law’ was about legitimacy of the present order, protecting it from either internal or external action that might threaten that legitimacy. While some principles eg Judo Christian morality might be part of a specific state’s law , you would also find states where obnoxious Hegelian principles were enshrined in its law as the embodiment of its legitimacy,, as in the Prussian Fascist state. Here the power philosophy, set out in its laws, makes the state supreme over the individual and justifies draconian legal action against any dissenter. Forget individual conscience, its anathema

    However detestable or immoral were ‘ laws’ maintaining a state’s legitimacy, we can’t make the distinction that these were not the ‘laws of the land’ that ‘law’ must mean moral law, that ‘law’ is only ‘law’ if it includes some Thos Jefferson principle like ‘all men are created equal.’

    Even in a democracy where legitimacy involves inclusiveness, the law has to be broadly legalistic, rule of law for all, so we don’t legislate laws that some minority groups regard as moral issues eg forbidding alcohol consumption :-( l or gambling, or immodest dress.

    Well this is what I think,… Of course I may be wrong…

    • The state is still supreme over individuals. Violate the law and go to jail. That is supremacy. As for Hegel, I am not familiar with his political philosophy, but since he first articulated the concept of how new ideas change society I find it hard to believe it was all that authoritarian. Caveat: Hegel is my hero because concept change is my field.

      • ceteris non paribus

        You have a hero.
        But you can’t be bothered to read his books.
        Funny, that.

        I guess you’re just attracted to early Continental idealism and proto-Marxism by sheer intuition.

      • I, like many others around the world have our hero too, we all love to read the book that is all about Him.

        Gal 5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

        Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

        Gal 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

        The other amazing thing is that this book is all true. All anyone needs to do is ask the author, if the reader has some questions of God. We know you can’t ask Hegel anymore. This is life.

      • David Wojick

        ceteris, I don’t know “whose books” you are referring to. I have both studied and taught Hegel. His Phenomenology of Mind is one of the most important books ever written. It describes the way in which new ideas destroy the old ones. Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions, on which I did my Ph.D. thesis, is quite similar. Hegel’s antithesis and Kuhn’s anomalies are basically the same concept. Every theory is ultimately overcome by the aspects that do not work. This is the essence of progress, scientific and otherwise.

        Hegel is not a proto-Marxist, any more than Kant is a proto-Hegelian, or Hume a proto-Kantian. The history of philosophy is the history of the articulation of great ideas, ideas which everyone already has, but cannot speak, as Hegel pointed out. Marx was the first to articulate the idea of technological progress, and that societies will change to adapt to new technologies. He was profoundly correct in that regard, his political philosophy aside.

  53. Judith,

    Rather than looking into any NEW areas of science, theories or planetary mechanics, the “group think” is protected at all costs.
    This then puts science backwards when an area of science is found to be missing or explored which was NEVER considered.
    Sort of a “brainwashing” exercise of the public media.

  54. “Oh look at us, we’re educated and smart and we can delve deep into the psyche of Climate Change debate participants and tell you what makes them tick and why they argue instead of coming together in harmony yabba yabba yabba”

    What a load of tosh. Some people are just a waste of resources. LOOK, the climate change debate wouldn’t be where it is today if eco nuts pretending to be scientists didn’t cheat, lie, tamper with data and knowingly, purposefully and wilfully lie to people in order to get their agenda accepted.

    Not even useful idiots need to understand that this AGW scam is about the age old twin evils…..power and money. And they ain’t gettin’ none of it from this red neck without a fight.

  55. On Green Federalism, at least one aspect – for Bart.
    Bart – you have strenuously objected to having people pay for positive externalities, but here we see India wanting to be paid for its forests, which absorb CO2. What say you on this?

    • That is one of the many issues with global welfare. Paying for something you have no real control over. Paying a government to protect forests is not the same as investing in the forests to protect them. You can get screwed either way, but individuals are a generally easier to deal with than governments and generally a lot less expensive.

      • I’ve been reading about “green federalism” on the web. Basically, it boils down to what governmental entities will make environmental regulations. In my view it doesn’t much matter if the Fed or states make the regulations, they first need to be based on solid science. Unfortunately, science has not made a good enough case that CO2 emissions will result in catastrophe, so any CO2 regulations from any entity would be premature.

      • There is more to consider than just CO2 for what may need to be regulated. CO2 does appear to be a smaller player, but if global regulation is attempted it should be based on the individual capacity to control the negative impacts of growth.

        China, not the sharpest tack in the box in my opinion, had to jump through hoops to reduce smog for the Olympic games. They are making the same discovery that the US made in the 70s. They need to get control of the situation and know it. Local need is going to drive local change more than global desire will. Throwing money at them to change will just enable the profiteers along the money trail. The fun part about the China smog situation is that most of the coal plants that contributed to the problem had pollution control systems that were not used because they cost money. Local corruption is a major part of the problem.

        Most of the “green” dream policies do not even consider the levels of corruption and profiteering that have to be penetrated to have any impact. State, local and individual actions remove more of the out held hands.

      • As usual, green federalism will be yet another lucrative area for lawyers. It won’t benefit the common man.

    • If they don’t want their forests, then their trading partners ought take into account their carbon poaching when determining barriers to trade.

      Would you accept India dumping any other product into your market? Then why accept it dumping what it produces by consuming its forests?

      Why treat this case like an exception?

      • Bart

        Are you advocating trade sanctions againest India because they cut down trees?

      • Rob Starkey | April 20, 2012 at 11:25 am |

        I advocate regular and evenhanded application of sound trade policy against anyone who dumps and poaches to steal American jobs.

        Don’t you?

      • Read: Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics. Then you won’t sound so stupid. Or take an undergrad economics course anywhere with any (non-Marxist) teacher.

      • Tom Schaub | April 21, 2012 at 12:04 am |

        What have you got against American jobs? Or is it just America you don’t like?

      • Though to be fair, what you say about Sowell isn’t all wrong, up to about third-order reasoning, after which he gets a bit shallow and susceptible to the accusation of populism.

        Sowell’s a great starting point to understanding many of the symptoms and outcomes of root causes Sowell stops short of identifying.

      • Bart – I favor free trade. It makes sense for all the nations. We, sometimes get cheap goods at the loss of industry here. They get to export for money, which lifts them out of poverty like no UN program ever has. You have to see the forest, not just the trees. If the US government butts out of fracking and fossil fuel production, we will see a revitalization of certain chemical industries here. It will be good for us and we can export some of our value added products. Shoot, we can even export nat gas.

      • Jim2 | April 20, 2012 at 11:52 am |

        Would that be the same government that passed laws in Pennsylvanian forbidding physicians from telling victims of poisoning by fracking what made them sick? (Likely primarily toluene and hydrazine, btw.)

        Oh, wait, no, that’s the state, not the US government per se.

        Or the US government that subsidizes to the tune of $billions annually the extractive energy sector, both directly and indirectly, favors the industry with legislation and infrastructure, pressures foreign governments to bend to fossil interests?

        Free trade is the cake. The cake is a lie, on that basis.

        More to the point, review any of the FTA’s, and look up the sections dealing with dumping and poaching. You’ll see that the trade measures against illegitimate practices are if anything harsher and swifter under any FTA than unilateral actions by injured nations.

        Only a petrochemical reserve is a petrochemical reserve. It’s valuable as a resource for fertilizer, plastics, pharmaceuticals and other industrial chemicals. Burning your petrochemical reserve in preference to _cheaper_ alternatives is just idiotic (the price per unit of energy of gasoline soared way past the price per unit for carbamide and liquid ammonia both, more than a decade ago).

        Promote selling inner city children to India to work in their call centers, and burning the contents of museums and art galleries for heat; you’ll get about the same effect.

      • You have no proof that fracking made anyone sick in Pennsylvania or anywhere else.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Bart R | April 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm

        Would that be the same government that passed laws in Pennsylvanian forbidding physicians from telling victims of poisoning by fracking what made them sick?

        Huh? The Pennsylvania law requires oil drillers to disclose their ‘trade secret’ chemicals upon doctor’s request. Yes, doctors are required to sign a confidentiality agreement. And they can be sued if they engage in industrial espionage by selling secrets to competitors. So, what?

        You seem to be claiming the law would inhibit treatment of patients or prevent injury lawsuits against drillers. If so, link please.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Bart –

        Please read the Pennsylvania Medical Society News Release On page 2:

        Inherent in [physicians] right to receive this [proprietary] information is the ability to share the information with the patient, with other physicians, and providers including specialists assisting and involved with the care of the patient. Further, reporting and information sharing with public health and regulatory agencies such as the Department of Health is necessary and permitted. In short, the information can be utilized in whatever manner is necessary to respond to the medical needs asserted by the health care professional.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Note: the above quote is from PA Secretary of Health, Eli Avila to the president of PAMED. It explicitly allows doctors to share info with patients and advises that sharing with public health and regulatory agencies is necessary and permitted.

        Who is in charge of the botnet that saturated us with the PA frakking hysteria?

      • Links (which I see since Thursday reverse the position of the Pennsylvania Medical Society), a curious outcome after the public attack by the speaker of the House on doctors’ concerns as “outrageous”. Oh. Wait. (Dr.) “Avila, meanwhile, remained mum on the loss of up to $2 million in new Health Department funding.”

        Reading between the lines, the Pennsylvania government turned the screws on the medical establishment through funding cuts (and no doubt threats of other steps) to support Pennsylvania frakking and maintain secrecy on the real impact to health.

        And Jim2, you’re out and out fantasizing if you can say there’s no evidence linking frakking to illness in humans. That patient confidentiality and laws like Pennsylvania’s are barriers to discovery of the extent of the public health risk isn’t as solid a buttress of ignorance as you may wish.

        The body of evidence relating to the dangers of chemicals uses in frakking is enormous, and the concentrations and bio- and geo-concentrating effects are substantial and documented. Interactions of multiple exposures are less well-known, though some experiments show support for the principle that such interractions occasionally have synergistically harmful outcomes.

        What a shameful thing to have said, Jim2. Even for you.

      • I can see why you don’t usually supply links, Bart. Those are all the weakest link.

      • The links you posted for fracking reinforce my suspicion that you are a paid shill for the Dimocrat/Watermelon party.

      • Jim2 | April 20, 2012 at 11:18 pm |

        Less DL, more LP. It’ll do you good.

      • I think Bart, Bernie and Steve Zwick, Peter Gleick and 10:10 are God’s gifts to skepticism.
        Thanks, guys.

  56. Judith,

    Imposing one’s position and sometimes power to one’s cause has generated many errors.
    Much of our technology and science is trial and error. The problem generated with our current scientists is that they only went up to a point to try and prove a theory or conclusion to an observance without actually moving further.
    This then would have to take education into many areas to further the study, which scientists did NOT do. 150 years out of 4.5 billion is very poor statistical study on a complex system.
    Religion, science, governments, corporations, etc. impose their brand as being absolute and will defend it to the bitter end no matter what is put forth in front of them. Blinders to anything NOT of their interest or cause.

  57. @Jim2 | April 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm |

    Exactly! Very well put.

  58. Bernie Schreiver

    Jim2, without being familiar with the particular case you mention, it seems to me (and to most scientists) that the case for CO2 warming the planet already is very strong, and if the predicted acceleration of sea-level rise (for example) is observed in the coming decade, then we may reasonably regard the reality of that warming as established beyond reasonable doubt.

    How then will conservative values come into play? That question is not difficult to answer, because already there are numerous organizations, having impeccable conservative credentials, that accept the reality of AGW, and are advocating action based firmly upon impeccably conservative moral principles.

    Three AGW-accepting, impeccably conservative organizations, that are well-known, and maintain excellent web sites, are:

    (1) Republicans for Enviromental Protection (REP),
    (2) the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and
    (3) Season’s End: Global Warming’s Threat to Hunting & Fishing
           (this is a site that I particularly enjoy)

    Bottom Line: Accepting the reality of AGW in no way obligates any conservative individual, or any liberal individual either, to alter his or her moral convictions in any respect whatsoever. Rather, the reality of AGW acts upon us all, so as to mature our moral convictions, sufficiently to deal with global-scale problems that (let’s face it!) are real, serious, and accelerating.

    • Bernie – I accept that CO2 has caused and will cause some warming. However, climate scientists have failed to make the case that H2O feedbacks will amplify that warming to a catastrophic level. That is the missing link, and the action of clouds, to mention one thing, isn’t well understood. Even some climate scientists admit that. You can’t model what you don’t understand. You see, this has zero to do with conservative values – this has to do with good science.

    • Bernie

      It all comes down to whether the specific suggested actions makes sense.

      Would you care to suggest specific actions that you beleieve make sense for the US to implement regarding the issue of CO2.

      1. What do you think should be done?

      2. What do you believe your suggestion will accomplich in terms of impacting CO2 levels?

      3. What would your proposed actions cost?

    • Here is a way to be conservative and live green.

      • OMG, what pathetic inanity! “mass extinction of several species on earth” {GROAN}

      • Hi Brian,

        I got stuck in floods last year. As you do – I was on my laptop checking reports and came across a doom and gloom site saying that the Fitzroy River flood was hugely unprecedented end of the world stuff. So I posted – well no – I am sitting at the flood gauge and there are still 4 bigger floods shown above the current level which is falling.

        It was enough to get me banned from the site.


      • But the lesson is, if everyone did that, the environmental impact would be huge. We would each need 10’s or 100’s of acres. Going back to the pioneer life won’t work unless something does wipe out the majority of humanity.

  59. Bernie Schreiver

    Jim2, if it should come about that the predicted acceleration of sea-level rise is verified by observations in the coming decade, this will largely put to rest the skeptical concerns that you express.

    What then for conservatism? It seems to me that conservatism will not be harmed, but rather will be greatly strengthened, by the challenge of evolving conservative ideals that are capable of grappling effectively with the shared global-scale problems that (let’s face it!) science tells us *ARE* real, serious, and accelerating.

    • Let’s face it Bernie – I do consider the sea level numbers to be scientific data, in that those numbers represent measurements. But others have raised questions about the corrections applied to the initial sea level. This is not purely a measurement because researchers are attempting to “correct” the sea level in order to isolate the purely steric component. Just as with the climate models, there may be influences on the sea level that are unknown or poorly understood. So, if you have specifics on how the corrections are made that are not behind a paywall, you could further your cause by sharing that knowledge.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Jim, I am happy to respond to your request for information (recognizing that space is limited).


        For a wonderfully clear and in-depth ( :) ) account of the details of sea-level rise measurements — by the four independent techniques of tidal gauges, altimetry, salinity, and gravimetry — it’s pretty hard to better Walter Munk’s free-as-in-freedom one-hour lecture Perspectives on Ocean Science, which is titled “Global Sea Level: An Enigma” (by the way, Walter Munk is the world’s most respected senior oceanographer).

        Needless to say, Munk’s 2009 lecture is already a little bit out-of-date, but the more recent measurements have pretty solidly verified the picture that he presents.

        In particular, the GRACE gravimetry measurements that are reported by Thomas Jacob et al. in a 2012 Nature article titled “Recent contributions of glaciers and ice caps to sea level rise”, have strikingly verified both the physical mechanisms and the increasing magnitude of the predictions of accelerating sea-level rise that Munk made in 2009.

        These multiple, independent, converging lines of evidence constitute strong confirmation of the essential correctness of our present scientific understanding of AGW.

        Happy viewing and reading, Jim2! :)

      • Bernie Schreiver

        By the way, at the end of his YouTube lecture Walter Munk — who is 95 years young :)  — confesses that his recently-purchased ocean-front retirement property is sited 300 feet above present sea-level. That’s because Walter Munk and his wife are thinking ahead to the world that their grandchildren will inherit. So when it comes to sea-level rise, Walter Munk “walks the walk”, eh? :)

      • Bernie seems a lot like Joshua under a different name

      • I applaud his effort. Everyone should be held responsible for siting their house and buying insurance. Others should not have to pay for sheer folly.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Jim2, you and I agree with regard to Walter Munk’s personal integrity & accurate scientific foresight … and yet (let’s face it!) there *ARE* some mighty tough moral, political, and economic issues that arise when carbon-burning energy economies, in places like Asia, North America, and Europe, commence to drown cities, in places like the Gulf States, Bangladesh, and the Netherlands. That the drowning progresses slowly, on a time-scale of decades, is irrelevant morally speaking, because “drowned is drowned.”

      • OMG! At 16:58 he trots out Mann’s hockey stick chart! And you seriously expect me to take this seriously??? (But I’ll watch the whole thing.) The part about the angular velocity of Earth was interesting.

      • Bernie,

        I don’t what to say about any of that. Le Pétomane and his absurd arm waving. What does any of it mean? It is all fantastical.

        I think you should look further afield. Both ocean expansion and melting is a function of warming. Warming is all energy. This figure from Wong et al 2007 uses sea level rise to determine energy content in the ocean and compares that with ERBS. – – You will find that most of the warming in that period – as determined by both ERBS and ISCCP-FD which are both NASA programs – was in the SW. This fits in with a lot of evidence of how the Pacific operates in it’s decadal mode. It also has much longer and larger variability than seen in the 20th century as shown in this ENSO proxy –

        We are in a cool Pacific decadal mode – as can be seen in the cool blue V in the central Pacific. How can sea level rise if the the planet isn’t warming for the next decade or three. I rather think that you and James Hansen are simply unable to process this cognitively – catastrophists through and through. Here is a copy of recent WSJ article – – we think it’s a bit sad.

        Beyond that lies dragons. Drgon-kings to be precise defined as extremes ‘associated with a neighborhood of what can be called equivalently a phase transition, a bifurcation, a catastrophe (in the sense of Rene Thom), or a tipping point.’ Sornette 2009 There have been climate shifts identified around 1910, the mid 1940’s, the late 1790’s and 1998/2001.

        Abrupt climate change – unpredictable – is not merely more likely than slow climate evolution but is how climate works without a doubt.

        Robert I Ellison
        Chief Hydrologist

      • Well, gee whiz, Bernie. 10 minutes into the video, the summary of which mentions the enigma of sea level rise, the good Dr. shows a slide that illustrates the melting of ice caps for the last 20 kyr. Not exactly the kind of evidence that will convict anthropogenic CO2. But, I’ll view the rest of it. What I really want are details on how all the adjustments are done. I’m thinking this video isn’t that, but I’ll humor you this time and watch it.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Jim2, for me what’s just as impressive as the science, is that Walter Munk was born in 1917, and is giving that lecture in 2009! So whatever brand of vitamins Walter’s been taking, we should *ALL* of us be taking them. :lol:

        Having reached age 90++, Walter Munk is totally immune to considerations of political pressure and personal gain … so what we’re seeing in that video are the unvarnished, unfiltered scientific opinions of the world’s most experienced oceanographer. :)

      • Bernie,

        Yr: “Having reached age 90++ , Walter Munk is completely immune to considerations of politics pressure and personal gain…”

        C’mon Bernie–don’t be so naive about us old guys. My guess is that they agreed to give Munk’s hot-babe, barely-legal girlfriend-on-the-side a “no-show” job if he made the video. But there’s lots of other ways to get to us geezers. So maybe it was something else.

      • Munk’s stuff is on the mark. Decadal variability from Pacific Ocean variability, impossibe to predict even the next ten years, potential for abrupt change. 3mm/year sea level rise over 25 years which might over 500 years have an effect? Who cares.

        We will never agree on carbon taxes and caps. Even with so-called fees and dividends the intention is to price carbon based energy out of existence – at which stage energy is more expensive, there is no tax revenue and global productivity takes a dive. Can’t really end other than in tears.

        We have an alternative model.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Chief Hydrologist, many folks on this forum agree that when it comes to climate change, there is an increasingly urgent need to Bell the Cat, precisely as your white paper advocates.

        What we’re short of is science-and-enterprise “cat-bellers” who have appreciable practical experience in the trade. :)

        No scientific “cat-beller” has more experience than Walter Munk and no enterprise “cat-beller” has more experience than Sam Palmisano … and that is why their opinions convey more assurance (to me) than “cat-bellers” whose track records are largely ideological and/or political.

      • All this breakthrough stuff would be fine if they would just admit that “advanced energy technologies” cannot mean solar PV or windmills. Effectively, if we are not talking about fossil fuels, the only energy sources capable of supporting modern civilization are going to be nuclear. (A few fortunate locations might be able to get by on hydropower or possibly geothermal energy, but most of the world doesn’t have that choice. Why can’t they just say the N-word?

      • Bernie Schreiver

        SRP, your desire is hereby fulfilled … James Hansen on Nuclear Energy … :)

      • Bernie,

        There are many organisations and professionals with commitments to – and runs on the board – in environmental progress. I work for an international environmental consultancy. I am an engineer and environmental scientist with a water specialty. Use, reuse, treatment, water quality. This is something I have been working on for decades. So how’s that for pratical experience in belling the bloody cat.

        What we have is minor changes in climate that may or may not have much to do with carbon dioxide. The decadal changes that Munk mentions in the Pacific are the cause of much recent change in surface and ocean temperature. Both as a rapid response in atmospheric warming with sea surface temperature and slow response in a negative correlation of low level marine stratocumulus with sea surface temperature. Nor am I even sure that the small relative emissions of carbon dioxide by people have much impact in the context of large natural sources that increase with temperature. The world is not warming for a decade or three more – as a result of the current cool Pacific decadal mode. Beyond that lies abrupt change that was mentioned by Munk. Your science is not so much wrong as warped into a millenniallist space cadet cult in the opinion of most of us.

        Regardless, just in case I am wrong, let’s look at approaches with multiple objectives with the aim to increase human dignity in this century. This doesn’t include negative economic growth or limits to economic growth.

        And I don’t have a particular problem with nuclear energy as long it is a market choice. The 4th gen designs seem more promising however.

        Robert I Ellison
        Chief Hydrologist

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Chief Hydrologist, please let me say that I have great respect for your (well-expressed) opinions and for your professional engineering experience. And yet, I similarly respect Walter Munk’s still-greater experience, which has led him to conclude that AGW is real and serious.

        My own views are simple and data-driven, as follows. If it should come about, within the next 5-10 years, that the rate of sea-level rise is observed to accelerate to (say) 5+ mm/year — as many present-day oceanographer foresee — and moreover this acceleration is observed, redundantly and cross-consistently, in the tide-gauge records, and in the gravimetry records (GRACE), and in the altimetry records (Jason-2), and (indirectly) in the sea-temperature records (ARGO), and furthermore the observed rise-rate acceleration is affirmed by the satellites and scientists of multiple nations …

        … then for me (and many folks) it will be game-over … there will be no reasonable remaining doubt that AGW is real, serious, and accelerating.

        And please let me say too, that largely on the basis of Walter Munk’s account (yet in my opinion solely) this coming verification of the sobering reality of AGW is the single most likely outcome of the coming decade of climate observations.

      • Bernie,

        A sea level rise at all in the next decade or so will occur only if Munk and other scientists are wrong about natural variability on decadal scales. –

        You might note that the study that Swanson discusses talks about no warming for an indeterminate period and not merely a decade more. You will note I hope that Munk made a point of not forecasting for the following decade. Yet you feel you know more in predicting an acceleration of sea level rise over the next decade or so? On what data driven basis would that be?

        As someone who has studied – over more than 2 decades – variability of rainfall and surface temperatures deriving from Pacific decadal variability – I doubt very much we can get warming over the next decade or 2 in the current Pacific cool mode. My first degree, btw, was in engineering with a hydrology speciality – now I am more of an environmental scientist with a nuts and bolts appreciation of how the built environment impacts the natural world at the places where they meet. The love of water in all its forms persists.

        I am not sure how anyone can miss this. Much ado about natural variability? Well yes it is a big deal.

        Robert I Ellison
        Chief Hydrologist

      • Robert I Ellison | April 21, 2012 at 12:11 am |

        Even Hansen isn’t predicting much sea level rise for five decades. Why is the next decade so important to you again?

      • Oh – and I wanted to add somethng about the simple global energy budget.

        d(S)/dt = Energy in – Energy out

        Where d(S)/dt is the change in global energy content – mostly as heat in the oceans. This equation perfectly describes the Earth’s energy dynamic.

        These are measured most accurately by SORCE, CERES and ARGO. ARGO can measure whether the planet is warming or cooling – sea levels can discern whether the cause is steric or as meltwater. SORCE and CERES can show why the planet is warming or cooling. I would look to SW out as the biggest variable in CERES.

      • Le Pétomane,

        You’ve got to be freakin’ kidding –

        I am so far from being a sceptic – but I keep asking you guys to imagine the political dimensions of no warming for a decade or three more and to weave a way pragmatically through.

        I know, however, that you’re a freakin’ space cadet. A hopeless case with a monomaniacal obsession. A village idiot with a dunce cap and those curly shoes with bells on. You’d do everyone a favour by engaging your brain before shooting your mouth off but why change the habits of a lifetime.

        Robert I Ellison
        Chief Hydrologist

      • Robert I Ellison | April 21, 2012 at 1:16 am |

        Less DL, more LP.

        See Fig. 7, p 22.

        Oh, and France called. It wants its language back. Something about ‘flopping off the tongue like a bag of wet refuse’.

      • Le Pétomane,

        The French have told you that? You have spoken to them all? They object to me calling you Le Pétomane? I think you are lying again. You don’t appreciate the cross lingual pun? Bart rhymes with fart? (hah hah) A little immature – I do admit -but it amuses me as you most certainly do not.

        Your graph – Fig 7 – is not referenced correctly so I can’t tell what the meaning of a linear vs exponential 5m sea level rise this century. Perhaps it is due to scientific reticence. Perhaps it is just that you plop in irrelevancies at every opportunity to divert from your absurd claims and to bury relevancies in absurdist fantasies.

        In this case you borrow as well Eli’s absurd brain is a vat reference - – we deny that we are brains in a vat in some way that relates to information provided in our programming or inputs. So called denial logic. But we are obviously nor brains in a vat – it is just another tedious space cadet fantasy.

        And we are right about the world no warming for a decade or three more – hah hah.

        Robert I Ellison
        Chief Hydrologist

      • Middle rhyme. How droll.

        Couldn’t find anything in French that rhymes with R? Get it? End rhyme?

        You should do more work on your French Rs.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Chief Hydrologist, it’s pretty clear that James Hansen and his colleagues are planning a “scientific checkmate”.

        (1) CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
        (2) Because the Earth’s energy budget is now imbalanced:
            — deep-ocean warming raises seal-level
            — shallow-ocean warming raises seal-level
            — land warming melts ice, raises seal-level

        So Hansen confidently predicts that no matter *WHAT* the details of AGW dynamics … the rate of ocean-rise will accelerate.

        Until recently, the only place to hide water (where the satellites couldn’t see that water) is as ground-water … but now GRACE can see even *THAT* water. So we can confidently expect the sea-level rise curves to smooth out as this effect is accounted.

        The math-and-physics of Hansen’s strategic insight is sound … this counts for a lot with me. And experienced senior “cat bellers” like Walter Munk and Sam Palmisanso believe him … this too counts for a lot with me.

        Summary: If the acceleration in sea-level rise that Hansen and his colleagues predict is seen in the coming decades, then yes, it for most citizens it will be “game over” for climate-change skepticism (and shoreline property values will drop sharply too).

      • Bernie Schreiver | April 21, 2012 at 8:24 am |

        Looked at one step further, it isn’t sea level that is really being talked about, or that at any one moment especially matters.

        It’s water distribution.

        Heat change doesn’t appear uniformly as a result of GHE; it doesn’t affect distribution of water uniformly, either.

        However, both heat and water move and diffuse.

        Thermal movement and diffusion warm the most susceptible water most first. Hence surface over deep, polar over equatorial, northern ice over southern, lower altitude over higher, faster tropical feed over slower, higher precipitation over lower, and so on.

        Thermal expansion increases net volume of liquid water.

        Temperature rise increasingly displaces water ice:
        o warmer water ice collapses and spreads out;
        o where it spreads from land to water it rises water volume;
        o warmth melts ice to liquid,
        oo which in turn not only runs to liquid reservoirs (ground water, surface fresh water, salt water bodies) but also
        oo speeds break-up and motion of surface water ice to lower levels,
        oo reduces ocean salinity (less saline=more volume) and
        oo becomes more susceptible to vaporization and precipitation.
        oo greater precipitation shifts more surface water ice as a proportion to higher altitudes (the Antarctic has a pretty high average altitude, as does the K2 range).

        Different distribution of water actually alters the Earth’s rotational inertia.

        Different distribution of water shifts existing circulation from fresh to salt water, as has been seen to affect the Arctic, with knock-on effects for thermohaline and for ice dams.

        The frequency and location of typical ocean circulations will shift. ENSO may move north or south (slightly), much as the Atlantic hurricane creche has relocated and spread out both in area and season, which would have a huge and unpredictable effect.

        Awesome, isn’t it?

  60. David Wojack,
    In Hegel’s historicist interpretation of history he applied his cosmic idea of the ‘Absolute Idea’ to the destinies of nations, to the chosen state as the ‘Divine Idea’ as it exists on Earth.

    Bertrand Russel in his ‘History of Western Philosophy’ critically examines Hegel’s theory of destiny, played out, first in the Oriental State, then the Greek and the Roman states and in Hegel’s time, the Prussian authoritarian state, as the realisation of Absolute Truth and Freedom’s highest expression at this stage of history. By ‘Freedom’ Hegel was not referring to democratic freedom but ‘freedom to be a dutiful member and uphold the law of the authoritarian state, which is to be worshipped as the manifestation of the Divine on Earth.(Russell, Ch XX11.)

    Karl Popper in Volume 2 of ‘ The Open Society and Its Enemies,’ dissects the historicism of Hegel’s racist doctrine embodied in the tribal fascist state and also his influence on Marxist historicism based on class.
    In order to give a glimpse of Hegel’s Platonizing worship of the state, Popper presents a few quotes; ‘The universal is to be found in the state… We must therefore worship the state as the manifestation of the Divine on Earth, and consider that, if it is difficult to comprehend Nature, it is infinitely harder to grasp the Essence of the State… The State is the march of God through the world….. The State must be comprehended as an organism … The State knows what it wills,’
    ( Popper Ch 12.)

    The State is everything and the individual nothing. In the fascist state and war becomes of the highest moral value in preserving the moral health of its people. Hegel’s theory of the state is integral to modern undemocratic political movements.

  61. The abandonment of the scientific method by the global warming alarmists creates an entirely new problem for them now. They have become so disconnected with reality, and so disconnected from guiding principles — from the goals of individual liberty and free enterprise to Judeo/Christian ethics of honesty and personal responsibility — and, so paralyzed by self-defeating nihilism — that they are desperate to find a theology that will provide future meaning. And, to that end, they have dreamed up the illusion that their feeding off of the productive like government-funded gadflies provides a worthwhile service to society.

  62. Bernie Schreiver

    Rob Starkey, the viewpoint that I reject *UTTERLY* — not as a scientist, but as a conservative-minded citizen — is the too-common viewpoint that asserts (in effect) “AGW poses challenges that are exceedingly awkward politically and exceedingly difficult morally, therefore AGW cannot be real.”

    To prosper amidst the challenges of the 21st century, any viable brand of conservatism has to perceive in the scientific reality of AGW, and in the sobering consequences of that reality, a tremendous *opportunity* for the maturing of conservatism, as a foundation, both morally sound and practically sound, for dealing effectively with the real, serious, and accelerating challenges of AGW.

    Conversely, immature brands of conservatism that seek to evade the 21st century challenge of conservative maturation will disappear, for the harsh yet simple reason that these immature brands of conservatism will not deserve to survive.

    Moreover (and needless to say) this same harsh reality-based standard applies to those brands of “armchair liberalism” that specify noble goals without bothering to specify practical means.

    Bottom Line Present-day global realities require a practical synthesis of liberal objectives achieved by conservative means … and if we work hard and are somewhat lucky, perhaps our planet may escape the worst consequences of AGW by this path.

    • Bernie

      Unfortunately, you fail to actualy respond to my simple questions.

      1. What do you think should be done?

      2. What do you believe your suggestion will accomplich in terms of impacting CO2 levels?

      3. What would your proposed actions cost?

      • Frustrating, isn’t it? The questions all seemed simple. After all, you are asking for an opinion. I assume people should know what their opinion is, even if it is “I don’t know.”

      • Imo- much of the anger or frustration between people on this subject could be eliminated if we focused on answering those questions and implementing things that made sense

    • Bernie Schreiver

      Rob and Jim2, my own views (and it’s gratifying that you’re both so interested! :) ) are aligned reasonably closely to the IBM Corporation Climate Change Position and Policy.

      Perhaps this is because the IBM Corporation has not sought to muzzle its scientists, but rather has listened to them soberly, and has responded with a creative enterprise strategy, that the IBM Corporation now implements consistently and globally.

      • Bernie

        The IBM “policy statement” states nothing that can be implemented as a specific policy.
        In order to actually impact a situation real policy decisions need to be made and implemented. That requires people to not waffle and make general vague statements but to get down to specifics.

        Give it some thought and get back when you have real ideas that you think make sense.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Whoops … here’s a working link (hopefully!) to the IBM Corporation Climate Change Position and Policy.

        The present-day IBM corporate policy is (obviously) pretty much the same as the Mitt Romney Position and Policy of 2007, the Barack Obama Position and Policy of 2008, the Pontifical Academy Position and Policy of 2009, and the Steven Chu Position and Policy of 2012.

        Hmmm … we thus find solid grounds for conservatives, liberals, religious folks, and scientists alike to unite. So let the squabbling cease!   :)

      • Bernie,

        Yr: “IBM has not sought to muzzle its scientists, but has rather listened to them soberly…” (Hey! liked that “soberly” adverb, Bernie–nice touch! I mean, like, it reminds us, Bernie, as you appeal to IBM’s authority, that IBM is, like, you know, a real serious-minded outfit worth a listen, unlike those boozed-up, eco-freak, carbon-OINK!-OINK!, hive-parasites who are always shooting their mouths off about one pestiferous, CAGW-scam scare-story or another at venues like the IPCC’s party-animal blow-out conferences and the up-coming, Rio+20 bacchanal-confab.)

        So let’s see now, Bernie, IBM employs “unmuzzled” scientists that are experts in climate science. IBM!! Aren’t they, like, computer guys, Bernie? So, I read your comment, Bernie, and then I asked myself, where’s all that interest IBM has in the climate science business coming from, anyway? Well, I gave the matter some thought, Bernie, and I’d like to share my ideas with you, Bernie. And, please, I look forward–indeed, would cherish–any constructive criticism of my views you might have.

        So, Bernie, let’s consider just why “Big Blue” maintains an expensive, in-house, “climate science” capability? And also, let’s consider just why IBM feels it needs its very own climate science guys? Well, perhaps, Bernie, its because IBM simply can’t trust all that boondoggle, hide-the-e-mails, hide-the-decline, post-normal, doom-and-doomer, greenshirt science that’s floating around now-a-days. Bet that’s it!–but what do you think, Bernie?

        Now back to question as to why a computer-dork company would be interested in all that geek-ball climate science malarkey. Here’s my theory, Bernie: IBM’s “Position and Policy” Statement notes that “IBM believes a diverse energy portfolio is necessary.” I mean, that’s it!, isn’t it, Bernie? I mean, like, IBM has probably sunk, directly or indirectly, a big wad of its investment dough into what seemed, just a short while ago, like a bunch of sure-fire, get-in-on-the-ground-floor, Solyndra-type, “sustainability”, crony-capitalist, taxpayer rip-off, good deals. But now (take out the hankie), the eco turkey-technologies on which IBM placed its big bets have gone South (like everyone knew they would) and the taxpayer is in no mood to bail IBM or anyone else out (that last, is the big surprise–IBM’s “business model” probably had a taxpayer bail-out hard-coded into it).

        So how’s this scenario, Bernie: IBM’s original CAGW advocacy was all just predictable, make-a-buck, slicko humbug. But now things have become more serious–“America’s Flagship Company” is looking to loose its corporate shirt on its “green-economy” investment fiascoes, big shots’ bonuses are at risk, upper-tier toadies see their pension benefits melting away, etc. So, in response, IBM’s corporate honchos are big-time putting the screws to their hired-gun scientists (and agit-prop specialists) to “DO SOMETHING!” And that’s what the whole deal is really about. Right, Bernie?

        By the way, Bernie, I had an interesting dream–a nightmare, actually–last night that I’d like to share with you, if you don’t mind. I mean, like, in this really weird dream of mine, I was at this “lemon” lot (don’t even know how I got there) and this guy–named Bernie, but not you, Bernie, rather a nightmare-Bernie who was nothing like you, at all, but was instead kinda like that “Ned”-guy, insurance-salesman character in the “Groundhog Day” movie (you know which one I mean, Bernie?)–was trying to sell me a real loser clunker (and I didn’t even want to buy a car!). And the salesman guy had on a checkered sports-coat and was wearing a paisley shirt (open four buttons down and with a fit at the guy’s chubby mid-driff that was just a “little” too tight and then some) and sporting a big gold chain around his neck and snappily attired, below the overhang, in a brown polyester trouser and white belt combo complemented by belt-matching, white, slip-on shoes with a bunch of scuff marks at the toe and gum soles. And, like I said, I didn’t want to buy the guy’s creepy car, but he wouldn’t take “NO!” for an answer and he just kept on pestering me and saying things like “Einstein thinks it’s a great car!” and “Warren Buffet thinks it’s a great car!” and “Alexander the Great thinks it’s a great car!” and so on and he wouldn’t stop and so he was like making me go, like, all crazy and everything! And then the dream abruptly stopped. And then it started all over again–I mean, just like in that “Groundhog Day” movie! I mean, like, it ’bout blew my mind!

        P. S. Incidentally, Bernie, youtube has a collection of the “Ned” clips from “Groundhog Day”–Good stuff! Check it out!

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Mike, please let me testify that I have personally collaborated with numerous IBM scientists and engineers, and have invariably found their work and their professional ethics to be both of the highest quality. Perhaps you might progress toward a similar opinion, if you watched IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano’s lecture of September 21, 2011, titled IBM100/The Leadership Agenda: Thoughts on the Future of Leadership:

        We cannot drift, cannot simply hunker down and hope to ride it out. I think the past two years have proven that’s not a winning strategy, because this shift is not cyclical; it’s secular. The world will be very different on the other side. It’s going to create winners and losers, based primarily on what on what we do as leaders.

        If we seize upon this resource, I believe, future historians are going to look back on this moment not as what they’re calling “the new normal” of recession – increased protectionism or lowered expectation, which will only lead to a lower standard of living, by the way – but I think they are going look back on the dawn of a new golden age of innovation, of economic growth and of global leadership.

        Terrific stuff, eh? An integrated philosophy that liberals and conservatives alike can embrace? :)

      • I’ll walk this much of a mile in your shoes, Bernie:

        Let IBM or whoever, on their own dime, within the law, with no crony-capitalist good deals, no taxpayer guarantees, no United Nations pay-offs, no philosopher kings’ thumbs on the scale, and the like work up a faster, cheaper, smarter world entirely at their own risk. If IBM succeeds, they keep the profits of their success. If they fail, they “eat” the losses. And, if I like their faster, cheaper, smarter, brave-new-world, I’ll buy some of it–if not, I’ll pass. And no pig-in-a-poke, “trust-me-I’m-a-climate-scientist” deals either.

        In the meantime, let’s all agree that cancelling the up-coming Rio+20, carbon-ugly, hypocrite freak-show and re-scheduling it as a video-conference event only is a way to both spare the tax-payer a green-washed, rip-off hecatomb of his/her hard earned bucks and materially reduce CO2 emissions (if that last is a even a worry).

        O. K. Bernie? We got a deal?

        P. S. Hey, Bernie! Let me add that I really like your poise–my last comment was kinda, sorta intended to get your goat, among other things. But you didn’t bite! My compliments.

      • As I understand it, IBM are in the business of selling computing power. CAGW is a hopelessly-addicted byte-junkie. It’s a marriage made in heaven…

      • What a nasty, snarky post! Unfortunately, I agree with pretty much all of it. Unfortunately/unfortunately, I may have to cut you loose, as you lose me with your egregious error: ” “America’s Flagship Company” is looking to loose [sic] its corporate shirt”.

        Bad dog.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Mike, it’s just like Sam Palmisano says in that video:

        The most obvious, and also the most underestimated lesson in the 100-year history of IBM is that you must keep moving to the future. I will repeat that because I think it’s worth repeating: You must keep moving to the future.

        As you know, that is easier said than done. It is so easy to stick to things that have made you a successful company or institution. A winning product, a profitable business model. It’s even easy to stick to your own personal behavior, what made you successful as a professional. As you know, muscle-memory.

        But yet one of the core responsibilities of leadership is to understand when it’s time to change: change the organization and change yourself – ourselves.

        It’s also equally important to know what not to change, what must endure, and to get that balance right is really, really hard.

        A pretty good way to “keep moving to the future” is to pay close attention to the science, even when its message is unwelcome … this approach has worked well for IBM.

      • We do, satellite telemetry, non-linear dynamics, ARGO, more realiswtic uncertainty evaluation,

        You still playing with tree rings and linear no thresh hold models?

      • Gee, I’m moving to the future through spacetime at the speed of light, just like every other damn thing in my reference frame that isn’t zipping by at more than a ten-millionth of light speed.

        Nothing is more deadly to read than the “statesmanlike” and content-free maunderings of retired executives. Newsflash–it’s really hard to know what to change and what to keep! As if nobody ever realized before that Aristotle’s Golden Mean prescription for right behavior has a few practical implementation problems. Why, next thing you know, Palisano will shock us by pointing out that we should look before we leap even though we have to strike while the iron is hot! Maybe I shouldn’t look this gift horse in the mouth, though–as long as I’m not buying a pig in a poke.

        Palisano did a great job of avoiding BS and making tough decisions when he assumed the helm of a then-foundering IBM. He did not succeed by presenting this type of pseudo-wisdom to credulous fools.

      • Gee, I and everything in my reference frame that isn’t moving above deci-micro-lightspeed is moving into the future through spacetime at c. Maybe Palisano meant something else–it would be nice to think that he wasn’t spouting meaningless pap. Nothing is more deadly than the status-polishing maunderings of retired business leaders.

        Oh, wait. His blinding insight is that it is hard to know what to change and what to retain. Knock me over with a feather–it turns out that Aristotle’s Golden Mean is hard to implement! Next thing you know, Palisano will be shocking us with the insight that we should strike while the iron is hot without forgetting to look before we leap. And we should avoid buying a pig in a poke but never look a gift horse in the mouth.

        Palisano did a great job of turning around a foundering IBM when he took the helm. He didn’t do it with effusions like this.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Sam Palmisano retired? :)

        SRP, you need to check who’s still Chairman of the Board at IBM. :)

      • Trolling dodge, I see–no response to the vacuity of the remarks you posted. And, yes–Palisano is retired as CEO. Chairman of the Board is not a policy-making position.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Gee SRP, when yah think about it … ain’t picking your own successor the *ULTIMATE* in policy-making? :)

      • Okay, so you admit by default that the Palisano remarks you so portentiously linked are actually vacuous nonsense. Case closed.

      • Bernie Schreiver

        Case closed SRP, are you sure it’s not a case of “mind closed”?

        `Cuz gee, the IBM Corporation Climate Change Position and Policy is far more nuanced than *THAT* … and is grounded quite deeply in IBM’s corporate history and business strategy! :)

        Plain Fact: IBM has prospered in a tough global economy, when many other large corporations have gone extinct … this track record of success counts for a lot with me.

      • IBM has prospered in a tough global economy, when many other large corporations have gone extinct

        ergo, they must be right on climate.
        Sorry but that’s a king-sized non sequitur

      • IBM is a juggernaut of a company, they have offshored lots of jobs (and that’s OK by me even though I work in IT) … they are very successful. But IBM has nothing to do with global warming. We all keep moving to the future – that is a physical law AFAIK. Your argument here is facetious. Maybe you could add some music to your argument. We all know music appeals to emotion – I think you would welcome that to your arsenal. “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ … into the future.”

    • Bernie,
      No one except strawmen and red herrings believe the basic assumption you utterly reject. If you have a point to make, you have hidden it very well.

    • Doug Badgero

      The Diane Chambers of the climate debate.

  63. Tom Choularton

    There does seem to be a rather sharp divide between liberal and conservative in US political speak but in my experience people have more of a spectrum of views for example there is a big difference between being socially Liberal and economically Liberal, the former tends to be people with a more left stance and the latter a more right stance.

  64. I don’t get the urge to punch someone in the face when they disagree with me. And I think I can honestly say that have no hate for anyone. While I am from being the sort of person I was taught Christ wants us to be, I have at least managed to follow the part about loving one another.

    Many of my closest friends hold political and religious views far different from mine. It makes for great conversation. It doesn’t keep us from being friends and respecting one another, even if we don’t think much of each other’s views at times. I And I find I am constantly learning and adjusting my own viewpoouints and opinions. I don’t believe I have any monopoly on the “truth”.

    Perhaps the closest I get to the “want to punch” feeling is the lack of respect I feel for people with a public forum who are more interested in agenda pushing than providing accurate information. (I exempt politicians, since they by definition push agendas without regard to facts.) Perhpas a good example is the column yeserday in Forbes by Steve Zwick. Talk about a smug, judgemental eletist. Seems he thinks those who disagree with his world view all need to burn.

  65. Agree with timg. I have no problem reading an opposing opinion/ following a different line of reasoning.

    It is when the pundit uses deliberate maniuplation in his message to reach his conclusion that truly angers.

  66. From the excerpts, Haidt sounds rather superficial to me. For a really profound look at the intellectual divide that goes much deeper than left vs. right, see Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles.
    Sowell is one of the deepest intellects on social issues to emerge from the USA in the last 100 years. If he were less conservative and less iconoclastic on racial issues, he would surely have won the Nobel for economics by now.
    This particular book is not an easy read, especially if you don’t have a basic background in scientific economics (as opposed to economic policy disputes). But Sowell makes a penetrating analysis that shows, among other things, why so many are quick to attribute political opposition to moral deficiency.
    Anyone who hasn’t spent some serious time digesting some of Sowell’s many books should be quiet when grown-ups are discussing policy.

    • Your last sentence is foolishly insulting. By association it suggests that the books are not worth reading.

      • David Wojick | April 20, 2012 at 9:33 pm |

        Guilt by association?

        Are you sure you’re a logician?

      • Being praised by fools is not a recommendation.

      • It doesn’t take a great actor to recognize a bad one. Tim Allen, Galaxy Quest

      • David Wojick

        Actually it probably does. But as usual I have no idea what your point is. We have to stop meeting like this.

      • Oh. Point.

        For a philosopher and logician, you frequently say illogical things that reflect either ignorance of or broad contempt for widely held philosophies.

        It isn’t that, for example, Tom Schaub broadly insults the intelligence of those who aren’t fans of Sowell that makes Sowell’s books not worth reading; as a simple logical proposition there is no proximate connection of purported cause to supposed effect. Sowell’s habit of insulting the intelligence of people credulous enough to read his books more than does that on its own.

      • Insulting? Yes. Foolishly? What if I had said anyone who hadn’t studied mathematical statistics should shut up when the grown ups are discussing statistical significance?
        Economic illiteracy and fallacies are deeply offensive, because they so often allow people to feel good about themselves for favoring policies that have effects exactly contrary to their stated intent. That is a major theme of this thread. Sowell is currently the best economics teacher on the planet. He has commented that if the general public simply understood that portion of economics which has been around for 150-200 years, 80% of what politicians are doing would have to stop. I agree.
        The specific book I recommend here deals with two basic visions of human possibilities which drive thinking about economic and political policy thinking. One vision he characterizes as constrained: There are limits to what can be accomplished no matter what powers, wisdom, and computational power are delegated to those responsible for fixing the problem. Certain aspects of the human condition are seen as inescapable, even though amelioration may be possible. But there are costs, trade-offs, and limits on what can be accomplished. The unconstrained vision sees human nature and human society as essentially malleable and thus, to some extent, perfectible. Residual evil is a product of a failure of will or intent in accepting change or improvement. Those with a constrained view tend to think their opponents are misguided, idealistic, impractical, or ignorant of the way the real world works. Those with a constrained view tend to question their opponents motives, to think they are evil, or selfish, or tradition-bound. The book traces the history of these visions of society in political philosophy and economic thought from the 1700’s to today. It does not oversimplify or build straw men. For example, Sowell explicates how Marx’s vision is a mix of constrained and unconstrained views.
        If you doubt the central relevance of this book, go back and reread some of the posts on this thread with these ideas in mind. The bloggers’ basic visions bleed out all over the place.
        As I said, Sowell is much deeper than the psychologist who triggered this thread. He is concerned about how deeply held ideas about the very nature of humanity and the human condition influence how we debate, how we make policy choices, and how we think about our opponents.
        The book seeks to explicate the two visions without

      • Oops! didn’t finish
        The book seeks to explicate the two visions without rendering a general judgement as to which is correct, although from other writings it is clear that he more usually falls in the constrained vision camp.
        Now will you think about reading the book?

      • Tom, I am a policy professional who never heard of Sowell. You implication that I am not grown up is indeed insulting.

      • David Wojick,
        If the choise is between: Hegel or Sowell. I would read, Thomas Sowell. Read them both and you will too.

      • Yes, and unintentionally insulting as well.
        My apologies.
        Per your Denizens profile, there is no reason you would have heard of Sowell. However, if you want to think seriously about the intersections of economics with issues of culture or minorities, you should read him. Also, his Basic Economics is the best math-free survey of economics available. His book on Marx is the best intro to him as well.
        Again, sorry. ‘policy’ takes in a lot my than I had in mind when I threw out my ‘grown-ups’ line.

      • David Wojick

        Thanks Tom, I appreciate your response. I was never criticizing the substance of your post. The grand challenge here is to be civil, or even (gasp, choke) polite. Sometimes I nag people about this, precisely because I value what they have to say.

      • Regarding your “What if I had said anyone who hadn’t studied mathematical statistics should shut up when the grown ups are discussing statistical significance?” two points. First you are still using the foolishly insulting term grown ups, when you apparently mean experts. Second, Sowell is by no means equivalent to mathematical statistics. Try being sensible. I agree that people who have not read Sowell probably have little to say when Sowell experts talk about him, but so what?

      • Point taken.
        I’m new at doing more than lurking; just learning to avoid unintentional troll-like behavior. Luckily old dogs can still learn new tricks.
        I am reminded of a comment by Dr Johnson to the effect that reading makes a full man, conversation a ready man, and writing an exact man. Commenting in writing here should display more exactness and less readiness.

      • Careful, David. Sowell is brilliant and extremely observant. Do read some of his work. (He also writes very well; so reading is no chore.)

    • “If [Sowell] were less conservative and less iconoclastic on racial issues, he would surely have won the Nobel for economics by now.”

      I disagree. Contemporary Nobels in economics occasionally go to people who would be called conservatives by most people–Heckman, Lucas and Sargent for instance–but as a contributer to contemporary economic thought, Sowell isn’t anywhere near the class of those guys. I think Sowell is more a popularizer of pretty old ideas in economics, not an innovator. If you disagree give an example.

      • Not to mention Vernon Smith.

      • I will mention: Mr. J. Vernon McGee.
        Or just read The Book, & have a good One.
        For a nce change, today.

      • NW | April 21, 2012 at 12:57 am |

        Keeping in mind, I find many of Sowell’s conclusions agree very much with my own opinions.. I can’t disagree.

        Sowell has a series of vast blind spots (well, not so much blind, as he is certainly adept at maneuvering around these issues when questioned on them) that will always hamstring his overall work. Some other consideration than the pure science of Economics is interfering with his progress toward a clear and unified vision that works. I suspect it’s political allegience, which is a shame as many politically committed Economists do overcome this limitation.

      • Sowell is more a popularizer of pretty old ideas in economics, not an innovator.

        — You may be right with respect to economics. On some of his deepest work, an economic nobel wouldn’t apply.

  67. A more-interesting framework than Haidt’s in some ways is that of Alan Fiske from UCLA’s anthropology department. He and his students have nearly twenty years of findings using multiple methods to establish his “relational” theory of human sociability. A summary from a few years ago, with some references to political and ideological disputes toward the end of the page, can be found at

  68. Mike @ 1.57 pm:
    Rio bacchanal.

  69. This from the Wall Street Journal. It is not even that their science is wrong as such – such that it is. It is simply warped into a twisted narrative of catastrophe.

  70. Chief @ 9.32 am:
    Professor Philippulus.

  71. Judith and cognescenti, I just posted a long response to David Wojick. When I pressed “post”, I got a WordPress log-in screen, and lost the post. This has happened several times recently (yes, I should have copied the post before hitting “Add post”), but I don’t recall this in the previous few years – I just came here and posted, didn’t lose posts in this way. Has something changed? Am I doing something wrong?

    David, a lot of effort an thought went into the post, I’ll try to re-draft it.

    • Okay, that worked but as “genghiscunn” rather than “Faustino”, although the box below shows Faustino.

    • genghiscunn

      THis is happening frequently for some reason. Generally you just need to fill in your password and submit, and word press will then deign to post your comment

  72. David Wojick, following earlier problems with posting I’ll repeat your post here and respond to it.
    David Wojick April 20 7.33 am: “Faustino, as an analytical philosopher of mind I have explored the concept of the unconscious mind extensively and it makes no sense. It is a poor metaphor disguised as science. The mind consists in experiencing plus having thoughts, both of which occur in consciousness. Is the unconscious mind seeing things and having thoughts, that we are not aware of? How is this possible? If it is doing something else it is not a mind.
    Why and how we have the thoughts we have is an important scientific question. But positing a second, unconscious mind does not help, in fact it is a redundant obstacle to understanding the mind. There is no second mind behind the mind.”
    David, I haven’t used the term unconscious nor referred to a second mind. On and throughout our body, sensations constantly arise and pass way with great rapidity. Most people are not aware of this at the level which is often referred to as “conscious,” and which you appear to see as the totality. But we are in fact constantly aware of these sensations at what I’ll call for convenience the deeper part of the mind.

    Several processes are going on. When an object meets a sense door to which we are attending – a sound at the ear, a vision at the eye – we cognize it, as it is. We then perceive the phenomenon in terms of our past experiences and memories and evaluate it, broadly as good, bad or neutral. In response to this evaluation, a sensation arises on (indeed, throughout) the body. Depending on the evaluation, this sensation may be pleasant or unpleasant. We react to these sensations with liking and disliking, which develops into craving and aversion. We crave for pleasant sensations and want to be free from unpleasant ones.

    Most people are not aware of these processes, but they strongly influence that thinking part of the mind of which we are normally conscious. I’m not putting this forward as a concept, metaphor or philosophy. In most countries of the world it’s possible to experience this for yourself in a 10- or 11-day residential Vipassana course. You train your mind to observe with equanimity processes which are constantly taking place without our surface knowledge; a scientific examination, akin to using a microscope except that that is an external examination, this is direct experience of the reality of your own mind and body.

    You say that you have explored the concept. Vipoassana allows you to explore the reality. I’d strongly advise you to read Paul Fleischman’s book before dismissing it. Flesichman is a psychiatrist, highly esteemed by his peers, and “An Ancient Path” is a collection of talks he gave to professional and academic audiences. The talks are aimed at people like you, intelligent, educated, aware (at some levels!) and questioning. I’d be happy to get a copy mailed to you.

    In passing, there is no charge for Vipassana courses in the tradition of my teacher, S N Goenka. All courses are funded by donations from past students who feel they have benefited and wish to share those benefits.


    • David, having just read in another post a slogan that “You must keep moving to the future,” I’ll add that Vipassana (a Pali word) means “to observe the reality of the present moment, as it is, not only as it seems to be.”

    • David Wojick

      Maybe you can get Sowell to take the course. That would be fun.

      • David, I know nothing of Sowell except what I’ve read here. I know of you that you are “an analytical philosopher of mind” who has “explored the concept of the unconscious mind extensively.” I had an analytical job, as a government economic policy adviser, which included doing economic research, though I think that my skills (even before being diminished by serious illness 2000-2009) were probably a lot less than yours. But analysis, philosophy and exploration of concepts are not unlimited. The technique I’ve mentioned doesn’t use any of those tools, those skills. It is a training in direct observation, at increasingly subtle levels, of what actually takes place in our own minds and bodies. This allows you to observe reality directly: you don’t need a concept when you have direct experience of how things work. Most people who undertake such an exploration are surprised by what they find, and the knowledge they gain is at a much deeper level than that derived through the intellect.

        Fleischman was a pioneer in discovering what became known as post-traumatic stress disorder in Vietnam vets: the problems were not in the conscious mind but deeply embedded in their bodies, and could not be accessed or dealt with by the psychiatric understanding and techniques of the mid-70s. (I have some personal experience of PTS arising from early childhood, and of dealing with it through Vipassana.) Reading the preface and first (31-page) talk of “An Ancient Path” would take only a little of your time and be sufficient for you to determine whether or not there might be some merit in further investigation.

        Anyway, enough, I won’t raise this with you again except at your request.

        I’m in Brisbane, GMT plus 9 hours, hence the time-lags in my response to CE posts.

  73. Bart @ 20/4 11.01 pm:

    As one of NW’s leprechaun friends I will respond to your comment.
    Am I detecting a slur against leprechauns here?

    We have feelings, you know. “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” (Merchant of Venice.)
    Let me warn you that as a member of
    I intend to take this further.

    \ # > > # % * % ( ? & ( / z @> ii : % # ) * ….

    (Translation from Leprechaun : ‘Doggone self righteous … )

    • Beth Cooper | April 21, 2012 at 1:16 am |

      What is it about association with Tim56 that you find such a slur? If he’s anaethema to the fae, I’m unaware and so claim as defense the simple geas of keeping my nose out of other people’s business, a singularly sitteach virtue.

      Even so, as there is no cold iron in the comment, it indeed is incapable of harm to one of the First Folk; when so pricked, none of the Fair do bleed.

      However, in goodwill, I offer a gift of cream, a moonbeam, and the glint of a kitten’s eye to salve the sore feelings.

  74. I am softened by the glint in the kitten’s eye,
    oh … and the gift of a moonbeam, )

  75. Considerate thinker

    “Do you ever find yourself reading something by a commentator you disagree with and wanting to punch them in the face? Do you listen to people on the other side of the political debate and find yourself almost hating them?” ?

    My answer is a resounding NO to that opening question, and to the second part of the question, my question, Why would you hate someone that is taken in by political spin and merely spouts the words of the propaganda put about by clever people who are deliberately lying to those that have absolute faith in them?. So sad, a simple person, manipulated by a flawed proposition, prediction, or political process spun by liars.

    The worst thing of course is, the smart spinners, depend upon that simple unquestioning response, while maintaining an arrogant contempt for those they so cleverly manipulate with their lies and misinformation.

    When ordinary trusting people finally realise the depth and extent of the lies, the misinformation, the contempt and loathing is all encompassing, as is the loss of trust for years to come.

  76. Judy or anyone … I searched the web for a copy of Douglas et al, 2001 and here on Climate Etc but can’t find it. Can anyone spare a link? (It is amusing that skeptics are winning the publicity battle with one hand tied behind their backs – we don’t have ready access to papers. It would be nice if Judy could get one of her graduate students to create a page with links to papers and climate model web sites :) )

  77. The Righteous Mind tells the truth like the following:

    HADCRUT4 compared to HADCRUT3 =>

  78. As far as I’m concerned, everyone has the “punch them in the face” part so backwards.

    I want from the moment I open my eyes to the moment I pass out to punch the vast majority of the globe in the face, personally and gratuitously, and I think every one of you who denies this about yourselves is likely lying at some level.

    It’s listening to and reading and thinking about what all you slow-moving targets say that sublimates that rage into something productive, even and perhaps especially when what you say itself contradicts my own opinions, attitudes, values and beliefs.

    We’re born with an urge to squall and flail blindly, filled with want and frailty. We have none but the most rudimentary rationality, driven only by pain and pleasure and a little propensity to seek and sort sensation. It’s our ability to take in the world and learn what works for us that overcomes that pitiable state.

    We were given politicians to remind us through their example what it’s like if we don’t.

    • Bart, once again you try to derail discussion with ludicrous statements like:

      “I want from the moment I open my eyes to the moment I pass out to punch the vast majority of the globe in the face, personally and gratuitously, and I think every one of you who denies this about yourselves is likely lying at some level.”

      You are not as smart as Joshua, but your tactics are the same.

      • And yet, suddenly my violent urges toward anyone whose name starts with “j” have abated dramatically. Have you considered a career in diplomacy?

        Mostly it’s the rampant irrationality of claiming a topic with over three hundred and seventy five comments has somehow been derailed two days after it was posted that does it.

        What a cunning ploy of mine. I should start calling myself a former NASA principal investigator.

        Oh. Wait. That’s not Joshua’s handle.

  79. gregschiller

    There is an excellent interview with Stuart Firestein, chairman of the biology department at Columbia University and author of the book ‘Ignorance, in today’s The Daily Beast.

    Firestein embraces uncertainty. He revels in the notion of “I don’t know”.

    Here is a quote from the interview:

    “In the book, I talk about this idea of “negative capability,” which is a phrase the poet John Keats thought up as a literary state of mind, but I would say it’s a scientific state of mind, too. It’s the ability to remain in mysteries and unknowns without any irritable reaching or grasping. But people don’t like that, generally. They’d rather not be in doubt. Is it this or is it that? Is the world warming up or isn’t it? But in the end, the only sensible way to get into science, to be able to be a citizen of it, is to stay on the ignorance side of it, to stay on the questions. We can all understand the questions.”

  80. David Wojick,
    You ask which books…
    Vol 2 of Karl Popper ‘The Open Society and it’s Enemies,’ on Hegel and Marx for which he was awarded the 1976 Lippencote Award of the American Political Science Association and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society , is highly ctitical of Hegel, as is Bertand Russell, in his History of Western Philosophy.’ Russell concludes: ‘Such is Hegel’s doctrine of the State – a doctrine, which if accepted, justifies every tyranny and every external aggression that can possibly be imagined.’ Russell, P711, Routledge 1991,)

  81. David Wojick

    Beth, anyone in the climate debate should know better than to accept an opponent’s view of someone’s position. I take it you have not actually read Hegel. Popper and Russell are arch enemies of Hegel, as it were, even though he came 100 years earlier. When I did my Ph.D. in Russell’s analytical philosophy I was taught that the 19th century did not exist philosophically, as it were. We went from Kant to Russell. I dug deeper, to the consternation of my committee. Analytical philosophy is based on concept analysis, but it has no account of concept change, because it skipped over Hegel. The title of my thesis was “Concept change in science and philosophy.” It was not well received.

    Mind you I am not defending Hegel’s political philosophy, because I have never read it. But unlike Russell he might well have the realistic view that states exist and wield enormous power, presumably legitimately.

    • Bernie Schreiver

      David Wojick, please let me respectfully suggest that you read back even further in time, into the early literature of philosophy and democracy, to the writings of Hume’s great predecessor Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d’Holbach (1723-89). Because for d’Holbach, as for America’s founders, as for present-day progressives, science and philosophy are joined in one great enterprise:

      “If error and ignorance have forged the chains which bind peoples in oppression, if it is prejudice which perpetuates those chains, science, reason and truth will one day be able to break them” (“Si l’erreur et l’ignorance ont forge les chaines des peuples, si le prejuge les perpetue, la science, la raison, la verite pourront un jour les briser.”)

      Further reading of d’Holbach and his contemporaries is highly recommended, for the common-sense reason that the end of history — as some have wrongly called our modern era — has not yet arrived … largely in consequence of emerging 21st-century global-scale challenges like AGW! :)

  82. David @1.47 am:
    Agree, David that there is a difference between accepting someone’s view on something and reading for yourself. It’s important to listen to their critical argument and the counter arguments also.That is what i try to do and was my practice at university.’ Nullius in verba.’ ..wish the Royal Society would hold true to it’s word :-)

    Re your comment about the power of the law. David, well law is about crime and punishment so offenders are likely to get the ‘go to jail’ card. But there is an important distinction between the legal processes of democratic and totalitarian legal systems. In democracies there’s the principle of innocent unless found guilty, right to legal representation, open trials and non arbitrary defined statutory penalties. Compare that to the knock on the door at midnight, political incarceration of dissenters and the show trials of tyrannies. The concept of the all powerful State and individual concience is anathema to parliamentary democracies, eg: ‘The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on Earth…We must thereforeworship the State as the manifestation of the Divine on earth..’ (Hegel.)

  83. Thanks Beth. As I said, I have never read Hegel’s political stuff. What is the citation for your quotation? We are talking about someone who was creating newlanguage, in German, in 1820. I try to work thru the translations to figure out what is valuable in what he meant. I am selfish that way. I have no idea what he actually said, as I do not speak 1820 German.

    I would point out that technically the difference between democratic and totalitarian systems is in how laws are passed, not in how they are enforced. Innocent until proven guilty is not a principle of democracy per se, nor are the other elements you list. They happened to be lumped together in the American revolution, for which many thanks.

    In any case, if Hegel was defending the devine right monarchy concept that America overthru it does not concern me. All that matters is that his description of concept change was correct, and first. If Hegel and Marx, the philosophers who first described concept change, are ignored on political grounds, that is America’s loss. Change needs to be understood.

    • The best reason I’ve found yet to stay out of a discussion about Hegel’s writing, that wasn’t Hegel’s writing itself:

  84. David, I don’t generally read unadulterated Hegel,( tho’ I thought the the 1820 German was very good,) as I respond like the bemused character in Bart’s funny video.I’m jest not as persevering or intelligent as you.:-) My sources are as above.

    Your second paragraph on Law…once more I’m bemused…’
    Does a ‘state of bemusement’ mean I escape the self righteous mind? Hmm, probably not. You say that technically the difference between democratic and totalitarian legal systems is how laws are passed. I don’t think you can separate aims/ means/ outcomes like that since what the laws are, the means of enforcement and the way they control the populace stem from the intent of the legislators. But for the citizenry, the difference and crux of the process are the issues of freedom and control.

    • Beth, I think David’s right here – the English, for example, enjoyed and cherished all sorts of rights you appear to want to conflate with ‘democracy’, while they were subjects of ‘absolute’ rulers. The presumption of innocence and the right to trial by a jury of one’s peers did not spring into being in 1688, or 1832, or whatever other date you wish to credit with the birth of English democracy. Indeed habeas corpus, one of the cornerstones of anglophone liberties, was formulated under a Saxon king, Interestingly, it was originally the sole prerogative of the king, suggesting that in that Sopranos-meets-Blackadder world the king was as likely to be seen by his subjects as their protection against the rapacity of overmighty barons, as a tyrant.

      The Barons at Runnymede were not – in their account of the matter – perpetrating revolution, but reasserting ancient liberties that had been abused by that naughty King John, while his noble brother Richard was off doing what the English then expected of their rulers – bashing J. Foreigner Esq.

      In truth, I suppose, there was never a time when England’s rulers did not have have to consider the will of the people, but that meant they had to strike an entente with their subjects, not that they were running an outfit you could describe as a democracy.

      Conversely, rights which, again you seem to hold to be elements of democracy have been extinguished, or simply never established, in patently democratic regimes. I don’t want to be accused of Godwinisation, but while in retrospect one might pick the odd hole in the constitutional mechanism that led Hitler to the Chancellery, it was surely as ‘democratic’ as many another we would consider impeccably so. And aspects of the inquisitorial system of criminal law which prevails in France today would have been repugnant to the lowliest Anglo-Saxon Englishman.

  85. Tom fop ‘ I agree i was generalising but where a leader or clique have great power, how protected are individuals from arbitrary decisions from the top? Re striking an entente, where most of the population was illiterate and powerless, wasn’t entente mostly maintaining a difficult truce, of trade offs, with the nobles and sometimes trying to assert Divine Right of Kings? What about the peasantry in agrarian France, pre the French Revolution, locked to the land and subject to punitive taxes? I ‘d say you didn’t get broader protection until a rising middle class started to push for representation, 1780’s France and in Britain, pre Russell’s Reform Bill.

    Pre WW11,Germany, yes, democratic mechanisms got Hitler into the Chancellery but the fragile democracy of post WW1 and Depression era Germany was no bulwark againt his nationalist demogoguery and racial propoganda directed at the non German population blamed for Germany’s ills. Hitler was allowed to get away with dismantling the democratic mechanisms through appeal to a disillusioned population that responded to the nationalist sentiment and hatred he broadcast, and the threat from his back up henchmen. Democracy can be easily perverted.
    Tom, thx for your informed and thoughtful comments. )

    • Hi Beth,

      I think it’s dangerous to generalise with a concept like democracy.

      The lumping together of everything we like under the brand-name of ‘democracy’ is a favourite pastime of the progressive left, because it allows them to describe as ‘democratic’ any privilege they happen to think of as desirable, thereby making it compulsory.

      Democracy is concerned with the means of installing (and removing) a government in power, and not at all with what it does when it gets there.

      My early English example was intended to show that for many centuries, most of the English population expected and by and large got many of the liberties you speak of from a government they had not installed and had no right to replace. When empires such as the Ottoman, Russian and Habsburg broke up, the protection they had traditionally offered to all their citizens failed, and the countless diasporic minorities which had settled during the imperium found themselves at the mercy of local ‘democrats’ whom a misguided Woodrow Wilson, had assured had a right to “self-determination’.It is therefore misleading, IMO, to say that personal liberty, or any instance of personal liberty, is a hallmark of democracy. It is of course, an almost invariable OUTCOME of democracy, since people don’t tend to vote for governments that repress them to a greater extent than they see to be in their own interests. But,as interwar Poland’s numerous anti-semitic laws attest, democracies tend to protect and extend the rights of the majority, and they are on occasion perfectly happy to vote for the curtailment of the rights of citizen groups of whom they disapprove. The existence of a democratically-elected government, then, is no guarantee that it will respect the liberty of all of its citizens.

      As to the prerevolutionary French, I never said ALL absolute monarchies were benign, just that it’s mistaken to say, or imply, that people who live in them are NECESSARILY powerless against the mighty! Or to say that all democracies are paragons of enlightenment.

      Democracy is narrowly-defined because it needs to be.

  86. Concerning the roots of rights, have a look over The Greens; A Warning from History by Martin Durkin. You also might like to listen to bueno de Mesquita’s lectures on tyranny: for a strong functional description of the differences between systems. (“The Selectorate”, etc.)

  87. Hi Tom, I wasn’t saying democracies are paragons of enlightenment, take a look at AGW practices of gatekeeping, humans are flawed, flawed and then some. I’ve just listened to the illumination plus podcast posted by Brian H ,’Democracies and Dictatorships.’ Bruce de Mesquita of Stanford University on leaders’ dependency to stay in power on their ‘selectoracies.’
    Narrow cronyism bribery for autocracies amd wider distribution of public benefits for parliamentary democracies. de Mesquita is just terrific on Hitler’s policy decisions re steel production and hausfrau support.
    If you get timeto read it,Tom, I’d appreciate your thought.

  88. Brian H,
    Thx for link to de Mesquita, it’s terriic and I’ll read his other posts.
    Hope Captain Kanga reads it too!

  89. Republicans support torture.

    Show me I’m wrong.

  90. Judith,

    Thanks for recommending “The Righteous Mind”.

    I bought it on your recommendation and am some way in. Following books like Edward Wilson “On Human Nature” (as well as his formidable “Sociobiology) and Steven Pinker “The Blank Slate”, this is quite awesome.

    – Steve at Science of Doom.

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