|The Optics of Energy Failure||Can Liberals Handle Adversity?|
by Christopher Chantrill
March 27, 2012 at 12:00 am
THE MORE we learn about climate science the more we learn what a shabby, back-of-the-envelope business it is. Dr. Michael Mann, the climate science poster boy that simplified the global climate of the last millennium into a hockey stick, just came out with a book to remind us how anyone who disagrees with him is a shill for dark forces. Hes a bully, and in the ClimateGate emails, he even bullies his colleagues.
Its déjà vu all over again, of course. Fifty years ago another academic published a shabby little paper and then succeeded in bullying everyone into endorsing his view that saturated fat was the cause of heart disease. Gary Taubes describes this researchers personality in Good Calories, Bad Calories:
Henry Blackburn, the long-time collaborator at [the University of] Minnesota, described him as frank to the point of bluntness, and critical to the point of sharpness. David Kritchevsky, who studied cholesterol metabolism at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia and was a competitor, described [him] as pretty ruthless and not a likely winner of any Mr. Congeniality awards.
This frank... critical... ruthless academic was Ancel Keys, inventor of the K-ration. He and his wife (an expert in measuring cholesterol) investigated several hundred people in the general population of Naples, Italy, in the early 1950s and found that they measured low on cholesterol and had less heart disease than the fat-eating Neapolitan rich. Keys decided pretty quickly that dietary fat was the main cause of heart disease and spent the next couple of decades doing research to confirm his hypothesis.
The political situation back then was eerily familiar to our own time. In the early 1950s, the health establishment had just finished up the great public health success story of all time. With sanitation and vaccination, public heath had conquered the great scourges of infectious disease. So what could it do for an encore? It could solve the post World War II heart-disease scare and apply the same epidemiological tools that had isolated the cause of cholera and typhoid. It was a no-brainer.
Fast forward to climate science in the 1980s. The environmental establishment had just achieved the great goals of clean air and clean water, and had transformed the US metropolitan environment. What could it do for an encore? It could apply the same science, public relations and regulatory tools used for the environmental success and save the planet from catastrophic global warming!
As we skeptics have seen, the global warming enthusiasts often had more enthusiasm than science. Climate science is a young science and it doesnt know all that much about the climate. Not yet. The same was true back when heart-disease became the #1 killer in the years immediately after World War II. What was killing all those middle-class Americans? Ancel Keys decided it was the saturated fat in foods, and he couldnt wait for the results of his research: people were dying. So he persuaded the government to fight cholesterol with low-fat diets right away. When the research results came in, they were close to the Folgers taste test: no difference. But by then big budgets and reputations were committed to the idea that a high-fat diet causes heart disease, and the government couldnt change its mind.
People with half-baked ideas that are not ready for prime time instinctively grasp that they need the bludgeon of government force. Theres a long and tragic history of half-baked ideas linked up to government, from Horace Manns half-baked idea in the 1830s that government education would reduce crime, Marxs half-baked critique of capitalism, and on to Lysenko and whole language reading. It makes sense that Michael Manns flawed Hockey Stick paper would be boosted at the dawn of climate science by the global-warming alarmists and given an authority it didnt deserve. So also did Ancel Keys cholesterol theory get established into a huge government war on fat.
You can see how young folk get sucked into this. Young Karl Marx looked out at the world in the 1840s and saw an out-of-control industrial revolution. Something had to be done before the world ended! Same with Ancel Keys, when he had his Aha! moment about cholesterol at a conference on nutrition and disease in Naples in 1951. No doubt the young James Hansen and the young Michael Mann had their Aha! moments as well.
The separation of church and state is an attempt to keep religious enthusiasm at a distance from the temptations of government force. Only now we need a separation of secular church and state. That way we can keep secular-religious ideas on saving the planet at a distance from political power.
Then, when weve made progress on that front, we could try the separation of science and state, and even the separation of economy and state.
Weve just got to save the planet from second-rate scientists and their half-baked ideas.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists
conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family.
Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is merely relative, is asking you not to believe him. So dont.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy
Paul Dirac: When I was talking with Lemaître about [the expanding universe] and feeling stimulated
by the grandeur of the picture that he has given us, I told him that
I thought cosmology was the branch of science that lies closest to religion.
However [Georges] Lemaître [Catholic priest, physicist, and
inventor of the Big Bang Theory] did not agree with me. After thinking it over he
suggested psychology as lying closest to religion.
John Farrell, The Creation Myth
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization