The stain of ignorance

In order further to induce skepticism about global warming, George Will now invokes the words of Mark Steyn, a man with no apparent education or expertise on climate science, who in turn rests his global warming denialism on someone who who has no education or expertise on climate science.  Will writes:

The costs of weaning the U.S. economy off much of its reliance on carbon are uncertain, but certainly large. The climatic benefits of doing so are uncertain but, given the behavior of those pesky 5 billion, almost certainly small, perhaps minuscule, even immeasurable. Fortunately, skepticism about the evidence that supposedly supports current alarmism about climate change is growing, as is evidence that, whatever the truth about the problem turns out to be, U.S. actions cannot be significantly ameliorative.

When New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called upon "young Americans" to "get a million people on the Washington Mall calling for a price on carbon," another columnist, Mark Steyn, responded: "If you're 29, there has been no global warming for your entire adult life. If you're graduating high school, there has been no global warming since you entered first grade."

Which could explain why the Mall does not reverberate with youthful clamors about carbon. And why, regarding climate change, the U.S. government, rushing to impose unilateral cap-and-trade burdens on the sagging U.S. economy, looks increasingly like someone who bought a closetful of platform shoes and bell-bottom slacks just as disco was dying.

For the Steyn reference, see here (for the lazy, Steyn's argument rests on the discredited paper of a non-scientist).  As a matter of logic, however, relying on the authority of someone else is a slightly more sound strategy than making stuff up–which is what Will did last time he talked about global warming.

10 thoughts on “The stain of ignorance”

  1. Er, “induce scepticism?” Science IS scepticism and often by lone individuals, dear boy. A true scientist INSISTS on being proven wrong and is always eager to find NEW DATA. Science is NEVER settled. Science is not†not a mass political movement by weight of conformist numbers, it’s NOT consensus, logical fallacy ad hominem, an appeal to authority or conveniently Marxist sodden left liberal ideology of a certain Utopian anti-capitalist, ant-economic freedom paradigm.

    Neither is science coercive and in need of lazy, second-hand and disgusting political terms of intimidation like “climate denial”, as in Holocaust denial. Global Warming is a gravy train mega scam con, power and money grab if it’s anything. It’s the greatest front for radicalism and elite control freakery in†recent memory.

    But still, blame Mark Steyn who is†far more succesful than you and for damn good reasons. What a phony. Please, conform on.

    Colonel Robert Neville blogspot com.†

  2. Dear Old Yellowstain, you’re Reader of the Day at Steyn on line. Congrats. You’re keeping up the sterling traditions of the largely unknown. Toodle ooh. Colonel Neville.

  3. If there’s anything worse than a pseudo-libertarian blowhard, it’s a pedantic, patronizing pseudo-libertarian blowhard.

    Science IS scepticism and often by lone individuals, dear boy.

    That scientists are often skeptical should not be taken to imply that science, qua science, is skepticism.† Skepticism is simply the refraining from making truth claims.† So, the question then becomes what one means by “truth,” for certainly at least some scientists assert that things are true.† Like, say, those that claim global warming to be a fraud. That, dear sir, is a truth claim and therefore not the sort of thing a skeptic would indulge in.

    A true scientist INSISTS on being proven wrong and is always eager to find NEW DATA.

    No true Scotsman puts sugar in his porridge. Angus puts sugar in his porridge. Angus is not a true Scotsman, therefore, Angus is not an adequate counterexample to the claim that no true Scotsman puts sugar in his porridge.

    Science is NEVER settled.

    Finally something we agree on. But I have a strange feeling a complete non sequitur (site plug! cha-ching!) is coming…

    Science is not†not a mass political movement by weight of conformist numbers, itís NOT consensus, logical fallacy ad hominem, an appeal to authority or conveniently Marxist sodden left liberal ideology of a certain Utopian anti-capitalist, ant-economic freedom paradigm.

    This is one instance where I hate being right.† I don’t think anyone here has argues the science is a “mass political movement.”† The author of this post has simply pointed out that Will, as he is wont to do, fails to deal with his interlocutor in the dialogue over global warming in a rhetorically fair manner.† So far as I can read here, there are no absolute claims made about the nature and practice of science.† But constructing strawmen as a segue into some rambling, incoherent screed that does little more than to display one’s ability to use politically charged terms while being completely ignorant of their meanings is always a fun thing to do.† Here’s a hint: Marx isn’t necessarily anti-capitalist; he sees capitalism as a necessary step along the way to something better.† It’s quite possible he’s wrong about that, but that’s a conversation for antoehr day.† Perhaps one should read Marx before using his philosophy as a pejorative.

    Neither is science coercive and in need of lazy, second-hand and disgusting political terms of intimidation like ďclimate denialĒ, as in Holocaust denial. Global Warming is a gravy train mega scam con, power and money grab if itís anything.

    Again, no claims being made here about what science is supposed to do;† but if you’re going to refute the claims of scientists, as Will purports to do, then you should consult with sources who’s expertise is commensurate with the expertise of those you wish to refute.† If I wish to refute a particular objection to philosopher X made by Prof. Y, I don’t consult “Philosophy for Dummies.”† I consult the current literature surronding the topic. Or you know, Prof. Y himself.† You see, it’s possible to confront the claims a person makes directly, instead of leaning on strawmannish conceptions of those claims constructed by ourselves or others.

    Itís the greatest front for radicalism and elite control freakery in†recent memory.

    I would have gone with religion or politics here, but yours is good, too.

    But still, blame Mark Steyn who is†far more succesful than you and for damn good reasons. What a phony. Please, conform on.

    By this logic, anyone more successful than you is thereby immune from your criticism.† Ergo, anyone who is not POTUSA can no longer criticize the POTUSA.† Next time you go to a ballgame, and a player boots a routine grounder, and you stand to boo, slow down little red Corvette: that guy is way more successful than you.† No critcism allowed.† And why is it phony to point out that someone’s research finds its basis in a appeal to unqualified authority?† See, that’s part of what a scientist does.† S/he makes sure that not are her/his methods sound, but also that the sources are sound.† And if one does not do so, then one’s research is unsound, and, as a member of an academic community, or even a participant in a dialogue inside of a particular academic community, that reseacher has operated in bad faith and therefore should be called out, especially when they persist in ignoring their wrongdoing.† If Steyn is going to continue to propogate his work as science, then his work needs to conform to accepted guidelines for fair and honest research.

    So, yeah, you nailed us on the conformity issue.† Here we conform to things like honest research, argumentative rigor, and sound rhetorical tactics.† What bunch of conformists.† What a bunch of mopes.


  4. You can logic-chop all you want, but unless you are honest with your premises you will stink like† a week-old mackerel.

    Steyn’s not a scientist?†† Is Al Gore?†† Is Obama?†† Is Henry Waxman, co-author of that horrendous bill that will go down in flames when the Senate gets it?

    OTOH, are these climate skeptics† “scientists” or aren’t they:

    http://nikiraapana.blogspot.com/2009/05/some-real-climate-scientistskeptics.html

    Can you cavalierly dismiss their views, too?

  5. We’re not in the business of dismissing views, Anna, only pointing out the specious rhetorical strategies of mainstream pundits.† Our saying that Will or Steyn have argued unfairly, or appealed to unqualified authority should not be construed to imply the faslity of their views.† All we’re saying is their conclusions cannot possibly follow from their premises.† There’s a difference between validity and truth.† All we’re doing here is assessing the validity of Steyn’s and Will’s claims.† Will and Steyn didn’t bother to even consult the people you did; they instead relied on the discredited work of a non-scientist.† Perhaps you should do them the favor of forwarding the information you have to them, seeing as they are apparently unaware of its existence.

  6. “Will and Steyn didnít bother to even consult the people you did; they instead relied on the discredited work of a non-scientist.† Perhaps you should do them the favor of forwarding the information you have to them, seeing as they are apparently unaware of its existence.”

    Talk about fallacious reasoning!†† Will and Steyn have both in other pieces referred directly to the works of scientists.† Just because they don’t cite them in a particular piece doesn’t mean they know nothing about the topic of AGW.† Are you really claiming that THEY don’t know anything of the skeptics or their works because they don’t cite them?

    You say “discredited work of a non-scientist”.†† Are you perhaps referring one Albert Gore?


  7. Will and Steyn have both in other pieces referred directly to the works of scientists. Will and Steyn have both in other pieces referred directly to the works of scientists.† Just because they donít cite them in a particular piece doesnít mean they know nothing about the topic of AGW.† Are you really claiming that THEY donít know anything of the skeptics or their works because they donít cite them?

    In Will’s latest columns on Global warming, he’s cited Michael Crichton and Steyn.† So, he’s cited a fiction writer and an op-ed columnist.† Oh, and in the one column where he did cite scientists’ work, it was from reports that had been refuted and/or superceded by more current, informed research.† Steyn keeps leaning on Carlin’s discredited work.† If they’re aware of current, credibly peer-reviewed work on the subject, why do they bother with the detritus?† I’m not claiming they’re not aware, but if we follow your logic, we’re left with three unflattering alternatives: either Will and Steyn are not aware of the current literature on the topic and stick with the sources they know, or they are intentionally ignoring current science because it doesn’t match up well with their preconceived notions, or they’re aware fot he science on both sides of the issue, but somehow find Crichton and Carlin more credible sources.

    You say ďdiscredited work of a non-scientistĒ.†† Are you perhaps referring one Albert Gore?

    No, Anna,† I was referring to Carlin’s widely discredited polemic.† Again, we’re not trying to say Al Gore is right. And exposing the logical pitfalls in an article aimed at refuting Global Warming does not speak to the veracity of Al Gore’s movie, nor does it show Will and Steyn’s claims to be false.† It simply says that conclusion Z cannot possibly follow from premises X and Y.† Nothing more.† If you want to debate the finer points of global warming, you’re probably better off finding a climate science blog.† We don’t really do that sort of thing here.† We analyze arguments as dispassionately and charitably as we can, and I’m not sure you’re prepared to engage in that sort of dialogue.† What I’m saying is, I think you’re a passionate person who happened upon the wrong blog.† Maybe you’ll find the debate you so obviously want someplace else.

Comments are closed.