The more tightly ANY system is coupled, the more likely its performance is paced by its weakest and/or its most stupid members. Mother Nature
In the 10oct15 Union there is an opinion piece that perfectly, nay, iconically reveals the liberal mind. ‘Let’s Have a Worthy Debate’ by local politician Heidi Hall and much regaled/reviled meteorologist Dr Michael Mann (of Hockeystick fame) is a call to silence the preventable global warming (PGW) skeptics and banish their voices from the public media. It is a chilling preview of the future that our progressives have in store for Americans.
The Union management appears to be flummoxed by how to properly present all this debate. They are having a hard time sticking to their policy to publish letters rebutting named condemnations (e.g. one of my rebuttals was not published). Admittedly it is a difficult piece of content management, especially about something that people spend most of their time talking past each other, like hiding everything under the misleading umbrella ‘climate change’ which is not even in dispute.
One of the more interesting aspects of the Hall/Mann piece is its stock denigration of skeptics without mentioning one word about the significant science and scientists who have presented counter arguments to PGW in all of its dimensions. To understand the taxonomy of the issues involved in any rational discussion of PGW, please see Drilling Down ‘Climate Change’. But then, censorship not reason is the objective of their piece attacking skeptics; Hall/Mann do not mince words –
Journalists and editorial page editors need to stop wasting ink to give a false sense of equity from “both sides of the issue.” In this time of Internet jockeys thinking that every opinion is equal regardless of their actual understanding of the issue, this matters.
Publishers and bloggers do us a disservice by not distinguishing credible opinion from absurdities, and continuing to give both equal time. We understand that it can be difficult to determine the credibility of opinions. But doing so is, in our opinion, a key responsibility of journalists today.
But lay aside that and the omission of the large body of science that details material shortcomings and errors in the work of the politically driven True Believers. One of the more humorous observations I have of Dr Mann taking time with a small town politician to dun the skeptics in these Sierra foothills is that they lambast us as ignorant voices talking only to each other within a small and insignificant community. If that is so, then why would a dominant figure adored by the nation’s progressives and leftwing politicians deign to waste time lending his weight to counter skeptical bloggers and readers of a newspaper with a negligibly small readership? What’s so important about Nevada County? If the skeptical critics in the Union (e.g. columns by Norm Sauer, Bob Hren, Gregory Goodknight, and moi) and on blogs like WUWT (Anthony Watts), Next Grand Minimum (Russ Steele), and RR are so far off base in their arguments countering PGW, then why bother? Really?
Methinks otherwise. I know that the mentioned blogs are read nationwide and overseas. Today it’s easy to have Google (e.g. Google Alerts) notify you whenever someone publishes something of nominated interest to you. Ms Hall’s participation here is clear – as a declared leftwing candidate, she is burnishing her credentials riding on the coattails of Dr Mann on an issue near and dear to progressive hearts. But the only rationale for Mann to devote his time/name to counter these critics is that we are giving effective voice to a growing body of science/engineering that threatens to upset the Left's carefully constructed and grant/tax powered applecart on the road to Agenda21.
Finally, to put this effort by the Left to abrogate the First Amendment and silence opposition into perspective, take a read of 'Shut Up - Or We'll Shut You Down' in the 10oct15 WSJ. To understand the draconian national initiatives the socialists are seeking against their dissenters, can you spell RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act)? Yes, these scumbags are actually attempting to make public PGW skepticism a criminal act under RICO which would "shut down debate because it can inflict treble damages upon a defendant." This, dear reader, is what we have been talking about in these pages for the last eight years. And this is why the local leftwing lackies (who have also called for silencing me both in the Union and on KVMR) support the likes of Sen Elizabeth Warren in legislation to shut down institutions and blogs like this. Their brave new world may be no more than one or two elections away.
[11oct15 update] In these, my offerings on the workings of the liberal mind, we have again been blessed to have the participation of our most welcome spate of liberals/progressives/socialists. And again, they come to illustrate and underline the thesis outlined and expanded in these pages over the years. No one does it better than Mr Steven Frisch, CEO of a regional non-profit that promotes and helps implement government diktats of the collectivist genre.
Above I have focused not on the science of PGW, but how the Left continues its policy of silencing arguments counter to its agenda and belief system – here it is a general proposal of censorship by the media, in particular in our local newspaper The Union.
But let us first dispose of a few PGW-relevant points of science. A fundamental tenet of science is that no ‘fact’ is ever known with certainty – therefore prima facie evidence of a non-scientific argument is to claim otherwise and depart further from science and state that debate on a point of science is over. Nationally respected Professor Philip Tetlock of the Wharton School (U of Penn), who has served on numerous government boards and commissions investigating issues and events involving uncertainty, advises “it is a huge mistake to belittle belief updating”. This echoes economist Keynes’ famous, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
And since the first alarums about catastrophic global warming were raised, and then augmented by assertions that proper human actions could halt it, many facts have indeed changed as non-politicized investigators (scientists, engineers, et al) have entered the fray and committed their own intellectual capital to less preordained programs of research. As pointed out here for years, constant (Bayesian) belief updating is critical to maintaining an unbiased and correct knowledge base.
Students of the estimation and forecasting field understand that uncertainty comes in two major flavors – epistemic and aleatory. Epistemic uncertainty bestows hope about something unknown but knowable, at least in theory. Aleatory uncertainty is an attribute of something that is both unknown and unknowable under our current state of knowledge (i.e. including all extant theories). Physical and computer scientists have told us for decades that our universe resists knowing the future, and the more so as we seek to extend the time horizon – this unfortunate state of reality says that predicting the vicissitudes of climate decades or a century from now is an aleatory enterprise. And fundamental science proscribes pronouncements from such infectious hubris.
But grant-driven science hacks like Michael Mann and James Hansen are pipers playing the tune of their political benefactors. They remind history students of the career of epigeneticist Trofim Lysenko (q.v.) the hoaky 'scientist' who ruled soviet agriculture for 30 years, and in the process destroyed it. His client was the state (Stalin), and the rest of their scientific community dutifully fell into line. There censorship of counter arguments was complete, as according to today's well-publicized wishes of our progressive cadres in the US who cite consensus science as the foundation of irremediable truth. (The fact that the overwhelming fraction of the cited consensual thousands don’t understand climate as a system and deny supplying IPCC with anything more than inputs from their own narrow fields, that fact is judiciously trampled by propaganda promoting progressives – ‘nothing to see here, just move along.’) As all students of science know, that field of endeavor does not move with the horde, but through the insights of lonely pioneers vilified for the existential threats their work presents to the status quo that always has thousands of lockstep cadres defending their belief barricaded turfs. But that is a sister issue already well-covered and in anticipation of more on the way.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch.
Most people understand ‘censor’ to mean the denial by one party/agency of another party/agency communicating an idea, facts, proposition, belief, or elements of knowledge. Formally from Merriam-Webster (see also Gregory’s 955am) – “Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions.” (apropos emphasis mine)
In America, censorship is directly addressed in our right to free speech as specified in the First Amendment. As it applies to our public forum and the several institutions that make up our society, not all forms of censorship are illegal for the simple reason that free speech is not guaranteed for all and in all circumstances – e.g. members of the military, employees of certain government agencies and private corporations, etc. But it most certainly is guaranteed to rank and file citizens, absent their membership in restrictive organizations, especially when they seek to communicate their beliefs and opinions on broadly impactive public policies, matters of science, history, religion, social values, mores, etc, and especially about their government.
There is a difference between beseeching public media to “ignore” certain factions and tenets, and advising private individuals to do so. Since public media are outlets for general communications in a society, such calls by Hall and Mann for responsible journalists to ignore and “stop wasting ink” on specific topics, is simply the call for censoring such ideas from consumers of their outlets. Mr Frisch’s attempts at counter-examples of censorship in his 636pm and 643pm give ample evidence that he agrees with this general definition when it conforms to and supports his own ideology. I cannot cite a better exemplar of the liberal mind than Mr Frisch's 126am below, wherein he extolls the notion that he and his are privileged to incorrigible facts which then should fall upon the rest of us as ex cathedra pronouncements. For these self-styled worthies, ‘saving ink’ in such circumstances should not be seen as censorship but instead a public service.
What Hall and Mann said was that the facts should end the debate not that censorship should end the debate. There is a big difference. You are dissembling and creating a faux issue to have a star dog to attack. It is really an act of desperation on your part gentlemen. (emphasis mine)