Scientism - the misuse of science-like arguments to prop up unfounded propositions, policies, and propaganda.
The 8feb16 Union published, as its lead op-ed piece, an Other Voices commentary – ‘An alternative alternate universe’ – by Mr Paul Douglas Hauck of Penn Valley. In it Mr Hauck responds to my 16jan16 Other Voices commentary (Download OtherVoices_160113), and was preceded here in these pages.
Mr Hauck presented a very curious but polite and measured criticism of my ‘Swansong …’ piece. Unfortunately, in it he gave no “alternative” to the alternate universe from which I characterized Obama’s SOU speech in some detail. Neither Mr Hauck nor I know each other, so I did a little googling on the man who promptly stated that he was a “numbers junky” and a “victim of (his) training as a scientist” that caused him to “overvalue objectivity at times.” From there his criticism of what he understood of my piece proceeded in a march of thinly veiled innuendos.
But before addressing his critiques, we should first consider his carefully couched credentials revealed online. The man attended an institution called the Chicago School of Professional Psychology from which he presumably obtained some certification or degree, since he is shown to have worked as the Director of Children’s Services in the Department of Mental Health of the David Grant Medical Center located at Travis AFB. From this and the offerings of his alma mater, I deduce that he is a child psychologist.
There is no evidence online that he has any training in the hard sciences or the mathematics related thereto. This means that his acumen with the sciences and numbers required to read and understand the literature of “original climatological studies … in reputable scientific journals” is the derived result of a prodigious home study effort. Among the many other talents he highlights in his piece, his claim to being a “fairly competent writer” who successfully fights back the urge to “build a pretty solid case in support of (his) position” that claims my “accusations” were “disconnected from the facts”, is strained by his gratuitous use of full quotes of words and phrases I never wrote nor even implied.
Mr Hauck also has some problems with the logical development of argument as when he obliquely accuses me of “starting with a preconceived model of how things “should”(sic) work.” of which I offered none, preconceived or otherwise. This may be forgiven because his alma mater proudly proclaims training its graduates to join the ranks of elite government central planners which could explain why he sees such prescriptive behavior in everyone he reads or encounters.
In another part of his analysis of my piece he refutes my assertion, supported by commentators nationwide, that Obama has “driven mainstreet Americans further apart than they were in the sixties”. He does this by citing Gov Nikki Haley’s observation that Republicans also have responded in a polarizing manner. Not sure how that refutes my point about our most divisive of presidents.
In his grand summary Mr Hauck finally allows his progressivism to peep through as an unabashed acolyte of the ‘balanced argument’ as opposed to my “somewhat absolutist style” – readers know that I neither worship balance nor lay claim to that deficit. Given his science credentials, I’m not sure that our psychologist’s studies taught him that human progress is seldom gained through anything considered so bland as balanced. Quite the opposite, and especially in science, expanding knowledge has always been achieved a fortiori by the most unbalanced of propositions that at the time were deemed outrageous by their target audiences. What clearly escapes almost all lay people, climate true believers like Mr Hauck among them, is that at the margins of knowledge science is a very messy business and scientists almost never agree – claiming scientific consensus there is blatant propaganda forged from myth.
But I digress. Let me conclude with the letter I sent to The Union today.
In his ‘An alternative alternate universe’ Mr Paul Hauck’s critique of my ‘Swansong from an Alternate Universe’ was almost painfully civil in his quest for balance. The gentleman’s disagreements with my citations of Obama’s iniquities consisted of a collection of innuendos variously veiled in gossamer to sack cloth. He let us know immediately that he is trained in science and an accomplished student in other more eclectic fields, one who develops understanding of things from “raw data”, a practice that we glean would let him refute the points I made about our president’s tenure. Nevertheless, he did eschew specifics in order to remain balanced as a penance of his “Lenten discipline this year.”
Being an unabashed patron and purveyor of the unbalanced argument, I gave Mr Hauck the benefit of an expanded response on Rebane’s Ruminations. In turn, as a fellow scientist, I invite him to join me there to do what best may be called ‘dharma battle’ over the points of our obviously disparate ideologies. His accepting my invitation would guarantee an enjoyable and even entertaining exchange for the anticipated launch of which I must again thank The Union.
[17feb16 update] Let the record show that The Union published my letter in its 17feb16 edition (here). I am grateful.