Thursday, February 12, 2015


Your kids can get measles now, but hey, don't blame Jenny McCarthy -- according to Wall Street Journal editorial columnist Daniel Henninger, McCarthy may be a crackpot, but she's grasped a higher truth about science that actual scientists don't understand. The scientific community started to lose its credibility, you see, when it dared to express a scientific consensus on climate that right-wingers didn't like (although that's not exactly how Henninger puts it):
It’s easy to dismiss Jenny McCarthy as an airhead, but maybe her airhead knows something the doctors don’t know.

... [The] problem ... is the eroding credibility and authority of science. If too many people think even scientists are lying to them, humanity is headed toward the lemmings’ famous cliff.

Partisanship alert: If you believe with all your being in the indisputable truth of climate-change science, turn to the sports page now, because I’d hate to see anyone ripping up The Wall Street Journal in rage or smashing an LCD screen.

For the purposes of the argument here, what anyone thinks about climate change isn’t the issue. There was a point in this combustible debate, though, when I began to think that science and the people who do the work of science beyond climate were allowing the credibility of their profession to be put at risk with the broader population.

That turning point was when the cause changed its name from global warming to climate change. When the warming-only argument became scientifically difficult and the subject became the irrefutable “climate change,” it was clear that politics, not science, was running the show.

The people doing basic science should learn a well-proven truth about basic politics: Any cause taken up by politicians today by definition will be doubted or opposed by nearly half the population. When an Al Gore, John Kerry or Europe’s Green parties become spokesmen for your ideas, and are willing to accuse fellow scientists of bad faith or willful ignorance, then science has made a Faustian bargain. The price paid, inevitably, will be the institutional credibility of all scientists.
Right -- liberals politicized climate science. The fault doesn't lie with the Koch brothers and other zillionaires who have a vested interest in the climate status quo and have spent vast amounts of money on climate disinformation campaigns -- they didn't make the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate controversial, it was the damn liberals who created controversy by defending science! And now those damn liberals have queered the pitch for vaccines, too, because now everyone thinks all of science is controversial!

I'm still not sure how we get from the ginned-up climate controversy to vaccine skepticism on the part of Marin County liberals, the vast majority of whom are presumably on Al Gore's side with regard to climate. But never mind -- as Henninger says,
The rise of the vaccine doubters proves that, in the Internet age, all authority can be turned overnight into a house of cards. Scientists ought to get back to the business of taming fire, not playing with it.
In the case of climate science, you righties lit the matches, Daniel, and you light more and more every day. The scientific community is just trying to put out the flames.


petrilli said...

Changing from "Global Warming" to "Climate Change" was a Republican backed propaganda initiative headed up by none other than Frank (Goebbels) Luntz himself. I remember him explaining the focus group research behind the initiative in an interview a few years ago. It was a paid-for PR project awarded to Luntz's company to deflect and disarm the effectiveness of the prevailing rhetoric as well as Al Gore's award winning documentary at the time. Will look for links. Wall St. Journal is lying.

Victor said...

I remember back in the day, when the WSJ's Op-ed page - before it went full-goose-bozo early in the Clinton years - and the NY Times Op-ed page - before it became Krugman and a collection of insipid and banal hacks and/or liars; with a couple of exceptions - was a must-read, because they were insightful, and made you think and rethink.

Now, the WSJ's clown car isn't worth a bucket of warm spit, and the NY Times Op-ed - outside of Krugman - worth a bucket of warm shit - which, at least, can be used as fertilizer, unlike spit.

We have dumbed-down our media to suit the righties.
Which is not surprising, since the writer's bosses are mostly righties.

And don't even get me started on the WaPo's crew of Hiatt "hacks & whores" - again, with a handful of exceptions; if that...

Ken_L said...

"The people doing basic science should learn a well-proven truth about basic politics: Any cause taken up by politicians today by definition will be doubted or opposed by nearly half the population."

The idiocy behind this argument is awesome. Any science which informs public policy is going to have to be taken up by politicians. That's how it becomes public policy. It's no doubt true that anything taken up by Democrats will be violently opposed on principle by the editors of the Wall Street Journal, but fortunately even the Republican Party hasn't yet reached that level of obstructionism for its own sake, and the Democrats have never even got close.

Projection much, Danny?

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

As Henninger wisely notes, this corrosive distrust by teabaggers of pointy-headed know-it-alls reaches much farther than just climate science.
I think they've always squinted with suspicion at academics who claim to be experts in "safety science" (a field they totally made up!) too. Do they even know that many shadowy global organizations like Underwriters Labs and International Association for Fire Safety Science receive major funding from Big Government OSHA?! These are the gubmint bureaucrats who put those condescending "No user serviceable parts" stickers on our vacuum cleaner power supplies so we'll believe fishing around in there with our fingers without unplugging it is somehow "unsafe". And forcing Americans to install smoke detectors, which contain highly radioactive Americium... As if they care more about kids than teabagger parents do!
I implore Al Franken and other politicians to immediately "become spokesmen" for these scienctists' ideas as well. Then we'll see who's part of this whole liberal, science cabal.

duffandnonsense said...

Is CO2 the main cause of global warming?

If, 'yes', then given that it is being pumped out at incredible record-beating levels over the past 25 years, why have global temps stalled?

Finally, just exactly why after decades did they change their slogan from "global warming" to "climate change"?

If anyone can provide sensible answers to those simple questions I will cease to regard climate scientists (with a few honourable exceptions) as a bunch of Left-wing activists doing what most left-wing activists do, that is, hang off the government teat as they greedily suck down other people's money in salaries, pensions, perks and travel expenses to this that or the other glamorous, foreign-based conference!

Dark Avenger said...

Duff, there is this thing known as Google you can use to answer your questions.

Why don't you try that first, dear boy?

petrilli said...

"That turning point was when the cause changed its name from global warming to climate change."

Here is the Frank Luntz memo that proves Henninger pulled that claim out of his ass:

Go to page 14 of the pdf. Under the section titled, "Redefining Labels"
1. Climate change is less frightening than "global warming."

Victor said...

Well, on the plus side, at least no one is blaming this on Benghazi - yet...

Ten Bears said...

Am still incredibly impressed by how you people have turned this into a granola crunching lefty thing, When two hundred years of history documents the "anti-vaxxers" firmly in the reich-wings' pocket.

Damned impressive.