Golden Wingnut winner

This post from the Power Line (a major, mainstream conservative blog–not a fringe yahoo) was voted winner of the Golden Wingnut Award, a prize given to the most ludicrous post from the conservative side of the web. It might be fun, I thought, to see if anyone can identify why it is so bad.

Here it is:

>It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

>Hyperbolic? Well, maybe. But consider Bush’s latest master stroke: the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. The pact includes the U.S., Japan, Australia, China, India and South Korea; these six countries account for most of the world’s carbon emissions. The treaty is, in essence, a technology transfer agreement. The U.S., Japan and Australia will share advanced pollution control technology, and the pact’s members will contribute to a fund that will help implement the technologies. The details are still sketchy and more countries may be admitted to the group later on. The pact’s stated goal is to cut production of “greenhouse gases” in half by the end of the century.

>What distinguishes this plan from the Kyoto protocol is that it will actually lead to a major reduction in carbon emissions! This substitution of practical impact for well-crafted verbiage stunned and infuriated European observers.

>I doubt that the pact will make any difference to the earth’s climate, which will be determined, as always, by variations in the energy emitted by the sun. But when the real cause of a phenomenon is inaccessible, it makes people feel better to tinker with something that they can control. Unlike Kyoto, this agreement won’t devastate the U.S. economy, and, also unlike Kyoto, the agreement will reduce carbon emissions in the countries where they are now rising most rapidly, India and China. Brilliant.

>But I don’t suppose President Bush is holding his breath, waiting for the crowd to start applauding.

I have my theory. What’s yours?

7 thoughts on “Golden Wingnut winner”

  1. argumentum pro homine?

    There also seems to be a premise missing here:

    “What distinguishes this plan from the Kyoto protocol is that it will actually lead to a major reduction in carbon emissions! This substitution of practical impact for well-crafted verbiage stunned and infuriated European observers.”

    In addition to the ad hominem attack in the second sentence.

    Then, there’s this little sophistry:

    “I doubt that the pact will make any difference to the earthís climate, which will be determined, as always, by variations in the energy emitted by the sun. But when the real cause of a phenomenon is inaccessible, it makes people feel better to tinker with something that they can control.”

    The first sentence seems to patently contradict the prior claim that “[w]hat distinguishes this plan from the Kyoto protocol is that it will actually lead to a major reduction in carbon emissions,” thereby undercutting the hidden, indisitinguishable brilliance of Our Fearless Leader (OFL). The second sentence is almost indecipherable; the author has prattled on about how OFL is going to boldly and effectively reduce carbon emissions, only to say that the “real cause [of global warming] is inaccessibe.” Okay, so if it is the case that the “real cause of the phenomena is inaccessible, then why is it a display of OFL’s phantasmic brilliance that to develop a plan that more effectively reduces carbon emissions? If, as the author insinuates, the reduction of carbon emissions won’t “make any difference” and the cause (there’s only one?) “is inaccessible,” then I fail to see how he has provided adequate grounds for the claim that OFL is some sort of underappreciated genius. In fact, the author has more likely provided proof of the opposite; s/he has proven that OFL is a bumbling fool who can’t even formulate an adequate plan to combat global warming.

  2. Could it have won because it packed the most logical fallacies and false premises into the smallest amount of space, while still sounding coherent? I think I could write a ten page paper detailing the problems with the validity of the arguments presented, and that wouldn’t include the challenges I could raise to the factual claims offered.

    I see a straw-man, an ad hominem, a false cause, an argument from ignorance, an irrelevant conclusion, suppressed evidence, and a weak analogy, not to mention the plethora of laughably false factual claims.

    Of course, I could ask the obvious question: how would western pollution control technology REDUCE emissions?? We use that technology right now in the west so no reduction there and the Indian and Chinese economy will only continue to grow. So it appears that pollution control technology will, at best, only help SLOW the rapid increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, the “details are still sketchy,” but how is this plan supposed to work if companies are not forced to implement the pollution control? It’s “brilliant” without even having to know the details of how itís supposed to work! I guess if a brilliant painter “revealed” his masterpiece by leaving it in the warehouse for no one to see, then his audience should not be bored or hostile, but praise his brilliance for surely it must be great!

  3. Good Lord that was awful.

    I find three major problems: the premise, the example, and the relationship implied between the two, which just seems like a red herring: no climate-change plan, however brilliant, can redeem disastrous policies–how can it possibly follow from one environmental policy decision that Bush has been unveiling “one masterpiece after another”? And I guess that takes us back to the premise…What are the other masterpieces?

    If you are going to make your whole case rest on a single example then you shouldn’t pick one that assumes a fringe climate model. If there exists a metaphorical gallery of masterpieces to choose from, then why not choose one without shaky scientific underpinnings?
    What about that war, or the debt? I wonder whether the author avoided these or he can actually envision them as masterpieces.

    I hope special bonus points were awarded for the scare quotes around “greenhouse gases”. Life could not exist on earth unless water vapor, CO2, ozone, etc. were effective greenhouse gases. Sloppy treatment of technical terms looks especially bad when you are claiming to possess a deeper understanding than the experts.

    My call would be a red herring, but I don’t think I can differentiate between that and ignoratio elenchi enough to rule that one out.
    I’ll be interested in your take on this.

  4. All of these are great suggestions. I think the sheer idiocy of this post consists in the insistence that Bush is almost a genius for an easily discoverable deception. Global warming is bullshit, so we can’t do anything about it, but Bush has expended political capital and money on a program aimed at reducing its purported causes. In light of other, more pressing matters (IRAQ), one could only draw the conclusion that Bush has a very sorry sense of how to budget his time and energy. Had he employed this genius in forming the coalition of the willing, we might not be holding our socks in Iraq all by our lonesome. I would say, Dagon, that this fits the general pattern of ignoratio elenchi: the evidence suggests one conclusion (Bush is confused about priorities and dishonest with his allies) but the author draws another (Bush is a genius!). But, these things are informal, or, as I tell my students, loosey-goosey, so a case might be made for red herring as well.

  5. Ahh, the ever elusive elenchi. Long has man sought for a mind so delusional as to advanced an ignoratio elenchi which he himself believed. To the presses! Let us amend our logic text books! No longer need we resort to such ridiculous examples as “This cat is black; therefore, cats are mammals.”

  6. “a major, mainstream conservative blogĖnot a fringe yahoo”

    That line began to blur a long time ago, my friend.

  7. Methinks the first sentence garnered the reward. ‘It must be very strange to be President Bush.’ Not. A look at its history would present facts supporting self delusion to be the long time companion of the PB. He is his normal; has been for a long time. In his normal, the PB finds proof of his genius in that others think he to be lesser than he knows his is. That’s why god spoke to him and not others. They’re many, he is few, the one, the chosen decider. This is not strange to PB.
    The careful garb of the ‘must’ carries the reader forward to a distraction of specific rationalizations. Most analyze what follows the declaratory ‘must’ to see if the claim is justified rather than simply stop at the first sentence and make an independent evaluation of the statement. As the many debate the merits of the particular scenario, other scenarios lay in the waiting, only to be brought out in the next defense of the ‘must’. Victory has been won, not because the particulars are true, but because the stage has been set for the ‘debate’ to continue as if there were a not an answer of ‘not’ to the ‘must’ regardless as to what follows.

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