Adventures in Epistemic Opening – Manzi vs Levin and the Fate of Everything

The fancy phrase “epistemic closure” may be a bad one, and not just because it may be too fancy by half, but when Julian Sanchez applied it to the great body of American conservatism, he touched a nerve. The claim that conservatives are caught in a kind of feedback loop of ideological closed-mindedness was discussed and debated in several high profile blogs – giving every blogger and many a commenter a chance to show off his or her own epistemological infirmities.

Karl at HotAir did a fine job establishing the lack of any empirical basis for judging conservatives unaware of alternative viewpoints and information, but there is and was something else going on here, something not directly susceptible to survey data and a mapping of linking habits and reading lists.  It was the scientifically oriented Jim Manzi at NRO/The Corner who drove the discussion furthest, not by either attacking or supporting Sanchez, but by conducting a demonstration, almost in the manner of an experiment. After analyzing a chapter from Mark Levin’s Liberty & Tyranny on global warming, Manzi summed up his verdict with a word that’s easier to process than “epistemically closed,” but that one suspects he wishes he hadn’t used: “wingnuttery.”

You can see why Levin would feel sand-bagged. But he might just as well have felt complimented that someone still takes his 2009 bestseller seriously enough to analyze and respond to it, while anyone who’s listened to more than a few minutes of his radio show would need a heart of stone not to laugh at anyone’s hurt feelings on his behalf. Predictably, Levin’s response post is saturated with derision, just like his radio show, whose motto seems to be “That’s right! I said it!” Rather than further escalate, Manzi wisely stepped back without giving in, inviting readers to compare the two posts (Manzi’s, Levin’s) and reach their own conclusions.

Now, this all might seem like a pointless exercise – if fun in a kind of inside conservative baseball way – but such exchanges sometimes lead to unexpected places. Eventually involving an expanded cast of regular Corner-ites, the proceedings finally inspired Manzi to lay out the basis for a truly conservative response to global warming – one that begins with the intellectual humility that those committed to denial or alarm conspicuously lack. He eventually linked to an easy to miss post from earlier in the week that he self-deprecatingly referred to as “excruciating” in its detail. Its conclusion happens to offer a succinct formulation of a potential “grand strategy” on ecological crisis:

We can be confident that humanity will face many difficulties in the upcoming century, as it has in every century. We just don’t know which ones they will be. This implies that the correct grand strategy for meeting them is to maximize total technical capabilities in the context of a market-oriented economy that can integrate highly unstructured information, and, most importantly, to maintain a democratic political culture that can face facts and respond to threats as they develop.

In addition to being constructive and refreshingly “open,” this “grand strategy” offers the key benefit of resilience in the face of tomorrow’s headlines, next year’s hurricane season, the scientific measurements and re-measurements of the next decade, and the considered opinions of eminent men and women who are relatively invulnerable to charges of self-dealing and self-interest. It might even withstand the eventual resurgence of a global ecology movement that may appear today on the political defensive, but that still commands broad support, and may be revived much sooner and more powerfully than post-Climategate triumphalists on the far right want to believe.

A side-benefit of such a strategy might bear on some disturbing polling numbers that at least deserve a place in the great epistemological ruction of 2010. For instance:

That’s from a Pew Poll of last July. Or how about this less widely remarked synthesis of polling results, compiled by Charles Murray (a sometime contributor to the Corner), on ideological affinities among American population groups over time:

These numbers may also help explain the perceived vulnerability of the right to the charge of closed-mindedness. The only positive thing about the situation for conservatives is that it suggests a growth opportunity: Corrective movement back to near equality would be a tremendous accomplishment, and a major blow to the liberal coalition. Otherwise, a choice before the public that comes down to “the highly intelligent, well-educated, and well-informed” vs. “conservatives” might at best work for an election or two, but you can’t like the looks of it over the longer term.

There may be explanations for such results that go beyond the obvious. Many scientists and intellectuals may be reacting self-interestedly to their own dependency on state support, for instance, and, especially in the wake of Climategate, they face an urgent need to to confront this issue squarely. Yet it’s still sad to think that this sector of society, representing people whose commitments and ethos are in many ways as “conservative” as “liberal,” have been moving to the left for 40 years. Is it too much to wonder whether continual and habitual assaults on the honesty, intentions, patriotism, and professionalism of scientists and intellectuals, a reflexive readiness to dispute the validity and usefulness of scientific and intellectual inquiry, in short the open adoption of anti-scientific and anti-intellectual attitudes and practices by some conservatives may also have played a role in such dramatic and long-standing trends?

Conservative efforts to alter this situation – American society with its head twisted ever further around at its neck – might begin with the understanding that belief or disbelief in the greenhouse effect, global warming, and other properly scientific matters cannot be a political issue in a free society: Only how we go about addressing scientific questions can ever be. There may also be times when no decision is more important to any society than one requiring scientific input. At that point – at any moment, really – we may need skeptical but non-denialist scientists like Richard Lindzen, and people who can take them at their actual word like Jim Manzi, much more than many conservatives seem to believe – or, under conditions of ideological and emotional closed-mindedness, are capable of admitting or possibly even of conceiving.

And we’ll probably need excitable and entertaining, fiercely dedicated polemicists, too. That’s right. I said it.


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139 comments on “Adventures in Epistemic Opening – Manzi vs Levin and the Fate of Everything

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  1. Science has taken a downgrade in the estimation of some, with the favoring of embryonic over adult stem cells, and the whole AGW kerfluffle, which really misapprehends the cyclical nature of climate
    patterns, the fact that they had to edit part of the climate record,
    including the medieval warming period, is instructive. The fact the IPCC was until recently run by a rail road engineer with no meteorological experience, but plenty of interests in this boondoggle
    is also instructive. Conservatives are as supportive of technology
    and chemistry as any one else, so it seems epistimological blindness
    from those imputing it upon us

  2. Narciso: not to mention the fact that many “scientists” today are effectively, or even openly, hostile to technology.

    I personally find the “intellectual upper class” to be mostly parasites. (Just why do we need lit professors on our side anyway?) Even when you take scientists alone, you’re including a lot of social scientists whose relationship to real science is shaky at best.

    I would be much more impressed by a poll of physical scientists + engineers–i.e., people who actually know real things.

  3. @ Ken:
    I believe that the Pew Poll – you can check the link – is focused on what you might consider “real” scientists. The softies who fall under the general category of intellectual elite may not be as credible on science-related issues, obviously, but over time they may be even more influential on opinion formation, on setting the bounds of allowable discourse, even on what people mean when they report that they’re “conservative.” I just don’t think it serves conservatives well to be complacent, or constantly to be complaining that life’s just not fair.

  4. CK MacLeod: I don’t think there’s that much “epistemic closure” on the Right (and while we’re on the subject, the surest way not to be taken seriously by the general public, or even the more practical eggheads, is to use phrases like “epistemic closure”). What’s going on is more an unwillingness, by those of us whose heart is in the battle, to start fights on our own side when we’re under attack.

    Case in point: I am a regular churchgoer, but I flinch a little when people say that the Constitution is based on the Bible. First of all, it mostly isn’t; certain portions like the 8th or 13th Amendment might be seen as reflections of the Golden Rule, but by and large the purpose of the Constitution is not to propose a moral code, but rather to restrict the power of rival factions–whether religious or secular–to control government for their own purposes, or to abuse it once in power. In fact, it would be much closer to the truth to say that common law is based on the Bible–although still far from totally true.

    I would argue that the statement in the Declaration of Independence (which is not the Constitution, so don’t correct me) about God-given rights to life, liberty, and property, although it could be seen as deriving from some Biblical passages, is actually drawn from the philosophers of the Enlightenment (Locke and Hobbes) and is not so much saying “God said so, so the discussion is over,” as it is saying, “Observation of human instincts says the perception of these rights is universal.”

    However…

    I don’t bring up my disagreement, because ultimately I agree with the religious fundamentalists on the really important things: we don’t want a powerful secular government (and I’m pretty sure a powerful religious government just isn’t meant to be); we don’t want redistribution of income; we are opposed to abortion (not for religious reasons, but for right-to-life reasons; see above); and we don’t feel comfortable with the decay of republican virtue. The mere fact that I don’t think Balaam’s ass spoke doesn’t change that, and frankly, I don’t see a lot of point in arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    Having said that: if there is “epistemic closure” on the right–on the left, it’s more like absolute tyranny of thought–you can thank those like David Frum and David Brooks, who make every slight disagreement into a personal vendetta. (David Brooks, for instance, wrote off the entire agenda of the Tea Parties because the “educated class” didn’t support it. What a shame that we have to be violently stripped of our guns, our money, and our real estate because we graduated from a state college instead of an Ivy League school).

  5. @ Ken:
    Well, though I don’t much care for Brooks and Frum, I think I can get my mind around where they are and why. Since, as noted elsewhere, it’s National Poetry Month – here’s Robert Burns:

    Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
    To see oursel’s as others see us!
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
    And foolish notion.

    http://www.bartleby.com/100/315.19.html

    You mention your own squelched discomfort with a statement to the effect that the Constitution is based on the Bible, and I like very much your interpretation of what you believe the Founders meant by “God-given.” You’re probably aware, however, that there’s a significant and vocal current of very public conservative comrades who are rather militant, at least verbally, about putting the Big Guy up front first and foremost, among other things because they expect to earn the appreciation of religious people who are happy to see God spoken of, and approvingly, in public. Thus, you rarely hear a mention of “natural rights” from them without an underlining gesture “from God.” Belief in God (expressed as such) nearly equals belief in America or authentic constitutional Americanism in this discourse.

    I’ve always thought that a key to Huckabee’s persistent appeal was in the same phenomenon, and likewise Palin’s and Bush 43’s: Their other stands or acts are almost secondary compared to their willingness and ability to “testify” – an act of no little value in independent protestant/evangelical traditions (part of the very meaning of “evangelism”). Conversely, no matter how intimately Romney embraced the social conservative agenda, and no matter how consistently McCain voted a social conservative line, their inability or reluctance to evangelize made them suspect. Beck is able to circumvent Romney’s problem because he’s not running for anything and isn’t subjected to scrutiny in the same way: In my own limited sampling of religious Beck fans, few have any idea at all that he was raised a Mormon (I have no idea whether he’s observant).

    But to bring us back to scientists, intellectuals, and Robert Burns, when they hear the testimony, many hear – or believe they have reason to hear – a threat or at best a lost cause. This doesn’t need to be the case at all, and it’s a shame that Pope Benedict’s rather brilliant defense of reason in a religious context hasn’t obtained wider circulation. But overcoming the prejudice from this stratum, which our occasional visitor strangelet is always happy to put forward in the most abrasive manner possible, may require some effort.

  6. Epistemic closure is a stupid term. It should go right where we put “immanentize the eschaton.”

    As for Jim Manzi’s decision to take up the Global Warming chapter in Mark Levin’s book as a prime example of “epistemic closure,” that was weird. Let’s stipulate that everything he said about the chapter was true (it wasn’t, but let’s say it was): a whole bunch of stuff has happened in the intervening year and a half to bear out the broad brush of what Levin asserts: the dubious data, the shut out of dissident voices, the unwholesome alliance of Global Warmists and policy makers who want supra-national bodies to regulate carbon, etc. etc. So even if Levin’s chapter wasn’t up to Manzi’s high standard of scientific purity, Levin was still right and the chapter is still old.

    Plus, I have to say, the tone was really shocking for a Corner post. And so what if Levin can dish it out? That’s no justification for the unseemliness of the tone of Manzi’s post.

    And since you brought up Bobbie Burns, this is my favorite RB joke, which I dusted off after the car bomb flame out in Glasgow a few years ago:

    Gordon Brown visits a Glasgow hospital, and he’s shown around. In one ward, one patient says to him, “My lurve is leek a rade rade rose..”. The next patient says to him “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!”. And he finds yet another patient muttering, “O’ all the gifts that God could gie us, to see oursel’s as others see us.” Brown says to his guide: “..Psychiatric ward?”. Guide says: “Nope.. serious Burns unit…”

  7. That may be so about Huckabee, who I do find as cloyingly insincere as all out, who beside his Carteresque mien, wanted to reenact the sad history of Mormon/Christian relations to win the
    primary

    but that’s not really true about Palin, She has a deep some would even say naive faith in this country and what it is capable of.
    Hence the three planks of her platform, energy, and the idea of progress, defense of our soldiers and sailors efforts abroad, and the renewal of the American spirit, which she does see in part rooted in faith. This is what drives her to ultimately become Obama’s foil, his learned contempt is antithetical Nixon, who came from similar lower middle class roots, hence the attempt to pigeonhole in that slot, was too wracked with bitterness and ultimately it showed through.

  8. Two things to consider here:

    1) When conservatives dive into science and draw out the political implications they tend to come back with conclusions most people don’t want to hear and public conservatives would be embarrassed to discuss. For example: Charles Murray and John Derbyshire argue that ongoing research in human biology will establish human inequality as an irreducible fact of human nature and hence provide scientific “testimony” against attempts to secure equal outcomes in society. They may be right, but who wants to talk about it? I don’t–we already have good enough arguments against egalitarian social engineering without having to tell people that, anyway, a lot of you are best suited for the simple stuff. But what if we don’t talk about it (“we” being politicians and those who urge arguments upon them)–are we guilty of “epistemic closure”? Global warming is a popular theory, even among those who would reject attempts to address it in a serious way, because it offers a pleasing narrative of sin and redemption, or sin and deserved punishment–such narratives satisfy our resentments, and make the believer a principled critic of lesser breeds of humans. Conservatives who are uncompromising in their science will likely bring back sterner stuff which tells us we cannot be the beautiful people we would like to think we might be.

    2) It is very well known how comfortable leftists are with using social scientific theory to generate policy ideas, and how uncomfortable conservatives are with same. Liberals and leftists look at society as a great big barrel of problems to solve, and themselves as the solvers–this is what smart people do, define problems, gather data, and propose solutions that close up all the loopholes. Conservatives see people themselves as problematic–so, conservative social science, like the Federalist Papers themselves (which might, actually, be better called “political philosophy”), is concerned with balancing interests, providing rules for the safe practice of freedom, and finding ways to make power line up with accountability. These kinds of approaches always look extremely limited and hence “anti-intellectual” to liberals and leftists–they don’t address “root causes” or offer “systemic change.”

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued long ago that social science should be used to measure the effects of policies (and, therefore, to predict possible consequences), not to generate policies, which should be the result of deliberation among citizens and their representatives who operate with a very short and clouded epistemic horizon. Moynihan was pretty smart, but the people who follow his advice will look stupid to those who don’t, and I don’t see what we can do about it.

    Was that off-topic? I haven’t time to delve into that whole Manzi-Levin tussle.

  9. They would seem to be problem solvers, but not really, when you examine their premises, we need more food to feed the world, but between objection of GM foods, pesticides, and more conversion of grain to ethanol, they are doing the opposite. We need energy in roughly the same proportion, but they are foreclosing the whole panoply of really effective resources, from nuclear to oil and gas, vs
    the alternatives we abandoned centuries ago, because they were
    insufficient. There is less focus on learning of basic subjects than the right societal attitude, They focus on the embryonic/adult stem cells, they put roadblocks to the development of new and more
    effective drugs. It seems a very bizarre application of science

  10. Barbara wrote:

    So even if Levin’s chapter wasn’t up to Manzi’s high standard of scientific purity, Levin was still right and the chapter is still old.

    I have to disagree with you there: Levin’s chapter wasn’t up to much of any standard, and Manzi’s standard isn’t one of scientific purity: It’s one of treating oneself, the opponent, and observers with intellectual respect, in the interest of getting at a better approximation of the truth. The great polemicists – Burke, Lincoln in his political speeches and debates – are able to lay claim to understanding their opponents arguments as well, or better, than their opponents do. They can take the opponent and the audience through them logically to their own polemical purposes. In some cases, the method requires the polemicist to make a better case for the opponent than the opponent is able to make.

    Put differently, at the current relative low point politically for GW-ists, the coalition of Denialists + Unsure Realists + Believing Realists is bigger than the coalition of Alarmists. By insisting on a Denialist line, the right risks building an opposing majority made up of the other 3 groups. If you watched the British debate the other day, btw, you can see that whatever the state of things here, the “GW consensus” seems alive and well among our allies. An unusually hot year or two, a bad hurricane or flood, and the momentum may shift right back. If the public grows convinced, rightly or wrongly, today or ten years from today, that the GW-ists were right, then say hello to all sorts of things you think you’ve beaten.

    @ adam:
    Speaking of Lincoln, “Have faith that right makes might.” In the meantime, the truth may or may not set you free, but it will out. Oh yeah, and one other quotable quote: We don’t run away because we’re afraid; we’re afraid because we run away.

  11. Having just read the Manzi NRO piece for the first time and Levin’s response, I am baffled by the point Colin seems to take away from them. Manzi does not discuss any science anywhere, not a smidgeon, not an idea, not a shadow of a ghost of an idea on global warming, anthropogenic or otherwise. Yet weirdly, Colin actually sees Levin’s riposte as evidence for Manzi’s argument, namely, conservatives like Levin attack their opponents’ weakest argument, not their strongest, and so discredit themselves. In this case at least, that is ridiculous. No scientific argument, I repeat, is even outlined by Manzi, not a strong argument for AGW nor a weak one against it. Nothing, zilch.

    There is advanced, however, a pathetically gullible argument from authority. Manzi cites various national academies of science public positions on global warming. This may be incredibly difficult to follow, but hang on: such statements are not scientific arguments any more than Sense of the Senate resolutions are laws. The only scientists whose opinions should matter are the climatologists actually doing global-warming research for a living. But then that butts us right up against a nasty bottleneck problem: for the last 20 years the relevant departments, which are not that large to begin with, have been leading the global-warming charge. Their budgets have become critically dependent on the receipt of large amounts of money – global research is expensive – not to enrich themselves, but simply to keep their jobs lubricated. As a result, no AGW skeptic can get a position, much less tenure, in any university with such a research program, and that is no overstatement. Careers have ended abruptly for attempting otherwise. The notion that “big oil” or similarly situated whipping boys are supplying the money for basic climate research is preposterous. The sums advanced by governments and liberal foundations and international organizations like the UN’s IPCC dwarf any private money by several orders of magnitudes, tens of billions of dollars over the past decade versus millions.

    How on earth might one conclude that what is in Levin’s book falls short with respect to AGW solely on the basis of Manzi’s column? Which is what makes Colin’s attack on Levin scarcely to be believed, since he simply repeats Manzi’s claims and also makes no scientific argument, nor does he even attempt to. Does Manzi know what the strongest argument for man-made global warming is? The weakest? The strongest and weakest against? I don’t know. He gives absolutely no evidence of it in his NRO piece, so why defend him as if he does? And why give the totally misleading impression that Manzi has bested Levin on substance anywhere beside his own mind?

  12. @ Joe NS:
    Manzi is not making a scientific argument or pretending to, Joe. He is making an argument about Levin’s approach to the topic.

  13. @ narciso:
    Who’s “they” in your comment? Many science- and intellect-positives are quite open to the arguments you allude to. To me, your comment suggests the common rhetorical practice of imagining a monolith on the other side, then demanding one on your own to oppose it, the main effect of which is to drive the opposition together and scare off those in the middle, in a political self-fulfilling prophecy spiral.

  14. @ CK MacLeod:
    “@ adam:
    Speaking of Lincoln, “Have faith that right makes might.” In the meantime, the truth may or may not set you free, but it will out. Oh yeah, and one other quotable quote: We don’t run away because we’re afraid; we’re afraid because we run away.”

    Science is not about forming coalitions, and it’s wrong to enter the artificial reality created by the Left. Let Lord Monckton debunk the gloabl warmists–do we all have to do so? Defending the disinterested, apolitical nature of science is defending science, and that’s all we can do. Those scientists who really want to do science and not be prophets may be on our side. Industry and government will always have its uses for science, but only if it’s really science, and answers questions put to it by industry or government. The real interesting question is why so many people believe (if they really do believe) that anyone knows what the temperature will be in 2050. If a few hurricances or a hot summer a few years from now will re-start the AGW hysteria, then what we need is not a few of our own irons in the fire, but a diagnosis of the irrationality of public opinion and a hold on its most rational elements–and then we have to hope that the more rational elements will be the more enduring ones. The bigger problem is the collapse of rational risk assessment within public discourse (as Frank Furedi at spiked is always arguing)–if not AGW, then some new disease, or some scare about genetically modified crops, or something else will lead to a panic for political entrpreneurs to speculate upon. It would be better to think about what habits of mind and dispositions might make us relatively immune to such ideological outbreaks, and then figure out how to package and mass produce that political and moral immunity. If a majority really believe that the government can and should save them from the weather (sorry, climate), then we have more serious problems than the unpopularity of conservatives among scientists.

  15. Pronoun trouble, I refer in this case to the above figures, who have been caught in various and sundry misrepresentations, and they silence
    any critic as an oil company stooge, puppet of big carbon, a very Stalinist way of doing things, or in my native land, la coletilla, the little tail, that was put on ‘running dog lackies’ like the Diario de La Marina’. There maybe a silent majority of scientists, but everybody
    who really diverts from the norm is Alinskied, their imput doesn’t get
    into the textbooks, or the audiovisual supplements, are scrubbed from Wikipedia. The Climate gate inquiry has now been directed against the skeptics at last observation

  16. adam wrote:

    If a few hurricances or a hot summer a few years from now will re-start the AGW hysteria, then what we need is not a few of our own irons in the fire, but a diagnosis of the irrationality of public opinion and a hold on its most rational elements–and then we have to hope that the more rational elements will be the more enduring ones. The bigger problem is the collapse of rational risk assessment within public discourse (as Frank Furedi at spiked is always arguing)–if not AGW, then some new disease, or some scare about genetically modified crops, or something else will lead to a panic for political entrpreneurs to speculate upon.

    That’s the point, Adam. In pursuing a “my hysteria is more hysterical than your hysteria” + “science bad” approach to AGW or any other issue, conservatives are contributing to all of those problems, when a scientifically open, unafraid, inquiry-encouraging approach with a focus on rational risk assessment/management (something Manzi is quite good on, incidentally) offers an excellent position, arguably the commanding policy heights, for conservatives to seek to occupy.

  17. narciso wrote:

    their imput doesn’t get
    into the textbooks, or the audiovisual supplements, are scrubbed from Wikipedia.

    I’m sorry, but that’s flat wrong or at least greatly exaggerated and unnecessarily defeatist. I’ve just finished reading PHYSICS FOR FUTURE PRESIDENTS, awarded the (oh no!) Pulitzer Prize, written by a tenured professor at Berkeley (OMG!), and it addresses several of the topics you raise from a conservative-congenial perspective. The book was published in 2008, paperback last year. On GW, the author is quietly devastating on Gore, predicts something like Climategate biting the alarmists (though I don’t recall him using the term) in the ass, produces ample stats and charts demonstrating the ridiculousness of Kyoto-like pseudo-solutions. There is nothing about this book – or its respected, popular, peer-reviewing, public-serving, eminent professor-author – to be afraid of unless you’re such a committed denialist that you refuse even to consider the opinion of someone willing to present the GW case dispassionately, although he seems to think that ocean acidification may turn out to be a much bigger problem than GW. He therefore favors some kind of carbon credit scheme to encourage India and China to convert to carbon sequestration as soon as practicable.

    He’s far from an alarmist, however, and, as I said, far from un-critical of the GW movement. I would be, overall, quite comfortable if I learned that a conservative administration pursuing a Manzi-like “grand strategy” appointed him as a top science adviser.

  18. @ CK MacLeod:
    I suppose if a non-scientist is going to discuss AGW, he can’t to much more than quote a reasonably respected scientific authority who makes sense to him. Risk assessment can only be performed within one’s field of competence–climate scientists can, I suppose, assess probable effects upon the weather from a variety of sources, keeping in mind how much they must not know about those sources and other sources they don’t know about at all; then politicians can factor those risks into another risk assessment regarding the possible effects of various policies, subject to the same provisos; and, of course, more immediate risk assessments of their own future in office if they do one thing rather than another. But those who step over these lines–including scientists lobbying for specific policies based on their scientific expertise–should be very bluntly called what they are: frauds. And, of course, factored into risk assessment must be the various ways free people can improvise in response to crises and all the ways the government can’t. The riskiest thing is to impair that power of improvisation.

  19. adam wrote:

    The riskiest thing is to impair that power of improvisation.

    Agreed – which I believe qualifies as a corollary to Manzi’s proposed grand strategy. In other works he’s also factored in geo-engineering proposals. I think the work that got the most attention, however, was where he calculated the on-the-charts worst case scenario of total cost of GW, and showed that it would have a much smaller impact on world GDP than the main CO2-mitigation schemes. As for the off-the-charts super-alarmist scenarios, he has shown how they have to be addressed. Speculative geo-engineering proposals play a role here, too. If I were Joe Scientist, I could get totally on board. Someone somewhere needs to calculate, with total cynicism, assuming a direct correlation between socio-economic rewards and scientific “results,” but with attention to Chicken Little feedback effects (e.g., Climategate), a “sustainable” path for scientific economic development – i.e., how under a conservative grand strategy all those greedy wards of the superstate will, over the middle and long term, do better than if they cause a tragedy of the scientific commons overfeeding at the AGW trough.

  20. My skepticism was really sparked by Lomborg, who does believe in AGW
    but is not a sufficient problem to be concerned with, at least with the solutions being presented. McKibben is being interviewed in my local fishwrap and Moses has less adoring press. Stephen Chu, our illustrious
    energy vizier wants any bill, we can find out what’s in it later, much like
    Madame Alessandri says

  21. Note: Thanks to everyone – everyone – for their input. I enjoyed the discussion and it also helped me recognize some things that I could and should discard in the post, which has now been cut down by around a third. If I keep on hacking at it, I might end up discarding the whole thing – but then we’d lose the thread…

  22. @ CK MacLeod:
    The post is up and the discussion has moved on but, having read the posts of Manzi and Levin you linked to, I’ll say one last thing.

    The place where we have to resist the Left the most fiercely, even at the risk of being called stupid, fascist, or whatever, is in those places where the Left moves beyond arguing for policies that might improve things in some way towards arguments that we are compelled to do x or y. This is a move that it is easy to miss, and I’ll give two examples. One is AGW, where, rather than making the reasonable argument that we should keep trying to control and reduce pollution (there is very little disagreement about the harmfulness of smog), they contend that there is really a global crisis which gives us no time to debate and demands that we act now, in unison. The other is gay marriage where, rather than make the argument one might be sympathetic towards, that legal means should be provided to gay couples to stabilize and deepen their relationships, up to and including marriage if they win over a majority, they argue instead that the right already exists, and those who fail to “recognize” it are essentially hate criminals. In both cases, the goal is clear: to take the changes they would like to see out of the political sphere of debate and majority rule into the judicial and administrative spheres, where small minorities can capture crucial and ever growing state institutions so as to act beyond accountability. This power grab is inscribed in their arguments, to which we can therefore give no quarter–we have to be smart enough to notice and dissent, absolutely, from everything in the arguments of the Left that smuggle in this compulsion from Nature. This is far more important than seeming, or even being, open minded about AGW.

  23. Conservative efforts to alter this situation – American society with its head twisted ever further around at its neck – might begin with the understanding that belief or disbelief in the greenhouse effect, global warming, and other properly scientific matters cannot be a political issue in a free society: Only how we go about addressing scientific questions can ever be.

    Here Colin has grasped the nettle. It is not, however, as if he is the first. The Danish writer Bjorn Lomborg has been saying since before the so-called climategate “ruction” that the critical issue to be addressed, even granting the alarmists’ position, is how best to mitigate the effects of global warming (implied here is the sentiment “whatever its cause”). Is there, he’s asked, some alternative to allowing the IPCC to dictate the solution, which is basically to subject every sector of a national economy to the quixotic goal of preventing the hypothesized four-degree rise in global average temperature? Lomborg thought there was a better use for our dollars, for which opinion – he was previously considered a moderate “warmist” – he was raked over the coals by incensed “Greens.” In other words, it is not as if alternatives to “we’re all doomed unless we act yesterday” have not been broached. They have simply gotten zero traction in today’s media environment.

    There is a more important point to be advanced here, a subtle form of question begging. Colin’s remarks, quoted above, clearly imply that the scientific question of belief or disbelief in AGW and the political question of what to do about it are separable. As a matter of plain logic, that cannot be so. Unless one has already come to an opinion on the credibility of the science – pro-AGW, anti-AGW – why would one waste 10 minutes designing “solutions” that involve mind-boggling expenditures, to say no more? If there is no cause of action, then logically there need follow no action. The science must be settled first before embarking on plans to revolutionize the global economy. Therefore, the question of whether or not the science is “settled” is paramount. Open-mindedness or, which is worse, the wish to appear open-minded, is a radically insufficient reason for entertaining what may be, and in my opinion is, a load of crap. I have elsewhere given at some length my reasons for dismissing AGW out of hand, so I will not repeat them here unless asked to do so.

    This controversy cannot be primarily about process. The substance of the argument for AGW must be addressed first. It’s almost as if critics of just-say-no to AGW are befuddled or intimidated by the demands of assessing the scientific claims and so, perhaps understandably, feel more comfortable defaulting to an “if there’s smoke there must be fire” posture. If an idea is radically unsound, however, nothing is gained by humoring its proponents. Indeed a great deal of actually existing damage must ensue if one does.

  24. @ adam:
    I think the place that we have to resist commenters is when they say that the discussion has moved on and it’s time to say one last thing! These are Zombie Contentions, man – they never die.

    As for conclusions already inscribed in arguments, I think you could go down the list of issues and formulate typical left or right positions in such a way that the outcome was pre-determined by respective modes of discussion. That was part of Unger’s point, as we were discussing some weeks ago. It begins to look impossible to resolve an issue like abortion, for instance, because the world view of the person arguing it from the pro-choice side is already at odds with the world view of the pro-lifer.

    A closed worldview eventually ceases to function, however – eventually loses contact with social reality. What the political system does, almost spontaneously or perhaps materially, is locate the points of contact in such a way as to hold each side’s larger project hostage to its particular commitments. It may be inherently a coercive and violent process, since sooner or later everyone is forced to accept something “immoral” from his or her own point of view.

    In a cosmopolitan setting such conflicts and compromises multiply astronomically, as Georg Simmel pointed out. It’s hard to be a saint in the city.

  25. But as I’ve pointed out earlier, ad infinitum, we can’t help but encounter the left’s statist arguments they are everywhere. It is
    they who either are ignorant or misrepresent ours, and that link to American Scene, a nominally conservative outfit, which is spouting
    ‘dead left meme’ as Keynes would say if he were alive today, after
    being very surprised

  26. @ Joe NS:
    No – a democratic political system can’t be about deciding whether GW is real or not. Only nature can do that. If the GW-ists persuade enough people to feel strongly enough that it’s worth the time, energy, resources, inconveniences, moral compromises, etc., then all that time, energy, etc. will be forthcoming, whether or not it was all based on a fiction. If a durable majority of our fellow citizens decide that believing in that fiction gives meaning to their lives, the rest of us will sooner or later be forced to stand back as they kneel down, whether we like it or not.

    Preventing this from happening will certainly include arguments on the science, but the political equation is something different. When a large segment of the citizenry and our major international allies feel urgency about an issue, then our political life is being held hostage to a hearing of their complaints, concerns, and recommendations that is generally accepted as fair. Conservatives continue to win on this issue precisely because the warmists are so far from providing a practical means of achieving their end that doesn’t also kill the hostage.

  27. It does kind of beg the question, back in the mid 70s, the left was forecasting global cooling, the horrible film “Zardoz” is one of the
    relics of that period, why didn’t they pick up on the trend before.
    just a dozen years later.

  28. @ CK MacLeod:
    This is what I find most important in your response:

    “A closed worldview eventually ceases to function, however – eventually loses contact with social reality. What the political system does, almost spontaneously or perhaps materially, is locate the points of contact in such a way as to hold each side’s larger project hostage to its particular commitments. It may be inherently a coercive and violent process, since sooner or later everyone is forced to accept something “immoral” from his or her own point of view. ”

    A closed worldview will cease to function, but that may come after it has lost contact with social reality–and it can do a lot of damage in the mean time. (We may disagree over who has the closed world view–I’m not sure what you’re referring to.) Your assumption is that the various immoralities we have to accept balance out, but I was trying to address the very means of balancing them, and suggesting that the Left is holding those means hostage. We may have an epistemic gap here: what you see as normal politics on the field of negotiation I see as an attempt by one side to change the field and the rules, and by the other side (my own) to preserve, restore, and re-open the field.

  29. hahaha!
    bravo, bravura!

    i said Manzigate was a field lab test too.
    Im sooooo proud, Highlander.
    You even used the Murray graph i endlessly cite you.
    Now if you can recover from the Palintasp that pithed you, I think conservatism can make progress.

    Here’s one of my thoughts…..

    Manzi: Though this has not been my motivation, it is my view that by attacking the scientific process, conservatives have needlessly disadvantaged themselves in achieving their desired policy outcomes.

    Bravo!
    But I think Dr. Manzi understands completely the danger to conservatism engendered by embracing anti-scientist populism. Understandably, conservatives endorse skepticism of scientists and the scientific process so they can pretend solidarity with their anti-rational religious base on GW denialism, ToE denialism, IDT/creationism, ensoulment of diploid oocytes and oppression of homosexual citizens.
    But only 6% of scientists are republicans….94% of scientists are NOT republicans.
    To preserve the true nature of a loyal opposition dedicated to Dr. Manzi’s stellar principles, policies must be rooted in scientific empirical analysis, and not in emotional populist tropes.
    Going forward, the GOP needs a scientist cohort…..to survive.

  30. @ adam:
    I feel that that’s a one-sided, one might say classically one-sided, view of the situation. The Left has its claims against the Right, too, and the claim and counter-claim will go on forever along the Unger-Simmel model: We seek to discover the points of fruitful connection or contiguity between apparently irreconcilable viewpoints, but if we fail to reach and generalize them intellectually, the world will still resolve them materially. It’s the role of the political system to manage the material or objective reconciliation of contradictions with the least possible violence – and least practicable impairment of future reconciliation.

    My assumption isn’t that the immoralities balance out fairly, only that life goes on, or at least has gone on so far. The American system, as in my view the authentically conservative position on the American system, doesn’t assume perfect solutions – to the contrary, it makes them virtually impossible and seems to be based on the assumption of their impossibility and of the undesirability of any other assumption.

  31. @ CK MacLeod:
    I suppose whether my account is one-sided, and whether life will go on as it has, are empirical questions–you act on the faith that it will, and I have no such faith: while I concede the possibility, I see it as a fairly low probability, and so probe around for unprecedented moves which may lead to new rules. Which in turn strikes you as apocalyptic and hence anti-democratic (which implies that there are some things that the system, in fact, can’t handle–perhaps there are some others worth noting as well).

  32. @ strangelet:
    Hi, strange. It’s nice to have something to agree about for once.

    I thought it was the Pew Poll you were endlessly citing, not the Murray graph, but either way I noted your comment at the American Scene post and would endorse it if only you could manage to avoid your needlessly abrasive language and eugenicist/genocidalist baggage. Conservatives attempting to force GW-denialism or any other form of anti-science populism on a public that prefers, or should prefer, an attitude of impartial objectivity and “openness” are seeking to cross a bridge too far. Whatever-you-are’s who want to force spiritual/moral denialism are attempting the same crossing from the other side.

  33. @ strangelet:
    This is one area where I disagree with Dr. Manzi. The so-called “scientific process” has been corrupted and coopted by what we may call the grantmaker-academic complex. Money is raised by exaggerating the situation, both its scope and severity, by downplaying uncertainty, and by flogging the plight of everything. Conservatives have paid a lot of attention to the science, but even those who don’t have a background in science can appreciate the ample evidence that the “scientific process” is not thorough, it isn’t peer reviewed, and is terribly skewed (I limit these comments to the AGW debate, although it applies pretty broadly as more and more scientist have tied their research to AGW- following the money.)

    By saying that Republicans need more scientists, you are admitting that the process has been politicized (congratulations: for once, you’re right) but what is really needed is intellectual and process integrity. The party doesn’t matter.

  34. Additionally – skepticism of scientists and of the scientific process is integral to scientists and the scientific process – which is why there’s nothing inherently unscientific about conservatism, and why science and intellectual labor generally, properly understood, are or ought to be at least as conservative as they are liberal, and also why, up until recently from the historical point of view, the conservative bias of science and scholarship tended to be much more prominent in any characterization of the relevant establishments and institutions.

  35. Barbara wrote:

    The so-called “scientific process” has been corrupted and coopted by what we may call the grantmaker-academic complex.

    To the extent that your description is accurate, then the critique should be framed as pro-science and pro-scientific process, and the situation you describe would have to be understood as an elemental threat to science and to scientists. As I suggested somewhere above, an appeal to the self-interest of scientists eventually coincides with an appeal to their ethics – since the Chicken Little/Cried Wolf feedback on events like Climategate can eventually imperil the scientific project. Even if bad luck led to the apparent validation of Chicken Little-ism, that would be even worse for scientists, since it would reinforce the position of a non-skeptical, anti-scientific, politicized/bureaucratized elite against the ethical and practical interests of true scientists, while also making them even more vulnerable to some future catastrophic event.

    The GW argumentation advanced by alarmists can be applied to the scientific project itself: If there is an ecological crisis, it equally or perhaps to a greater extent may infect the scientific project, as any understanding of ecology should lead one to expect from the outset. The alarmists have been, in short, pursuing a non-ecological response to a putatively ecological problem. Luckily for conservatives, it doesn’t appear necessary to explain this abstract concept to the general public – though the g.p. may have intuited it anyway – because the contradiction appears materially in the disconnect between threats-described and measures-proposed (Kyoto etc.), and responsibility-demanded and responsibility-shown (Climategate).

  36. @ CK MacLeod:
    eugenicist/genocidalist baggage.

    lies.
    ima medhlevi sufi transhumanist.
    and we are all eugenicists….we ALL select potential mates on phenotypical characteristics either consciously or unconsciously.
    i have never advocated genocide, even for the intransigently stupid.
    linkage please?
    to validate I am a genocidaire?

    im a scifi otaku….sry…but Palin totally reminds me of a Ringworld vampire…her skullspace is filled with beautiful hair.
    you can’t see it because you are pithed by the Palintasp.
    <3

  37. I thought it was the Pew Poll you were endlessly citing, not the Murray graph

    welll..both.
    I ALWAYS cite Murray’s graph for evo theory of culture….ie, who are the culture producers and who are the culture consumers?
    ans; extreme liberals or intellectual uppers are the culture producers…..the culture consumers are everybody else.

  38. strangelet wrote:

    i have never advocated genocide, even for the intransigently stupid.
    linkage please?

    ensoulment of diploid oocytes

    Since you cop to eugenicism, I’ll focus on your skeptical use of the above phrase, which implies a negation of the “right to life” of human beings extended to conception. The moral position that you deny, or refuse to respect (violently I anticipate), is extended by those who hold this moral position to encompass all human beings, at all stages of development, with the understanding that putting oneself in the position to deny the the humanity (here equated with the possession of a soul) of one category of human being makes it possible to deny by parallel logic the humanity of other categories of human being.

    We don’t need to divert into some interminable discussion of right-to-choose/right-to-life – though it happens to be on this subject that I best recall Unger’s presentation of apparently irreconcilable worldviews, mentioned above. My point was that when you attach a baggage train of issues to an already adequately controversial subject, you needlessly impair further dialogue, seeming to confirm the suspicions of those whom you are presumably trying to reach that it’s all a scam, a bait and switch, and that compromise on this issue will send them, per your fiendish designs, pell-mell down the slippery slope to Brave New World, at best.

    Not sure why this isn’t obvious to you. Same-same on bringing la Palin into this confrontationally – another invitation to go round and round on familiar ground with no known or yet-demonstrated exit.

  39. @ CK MacLeod:
    pardon, but the Palin-as-a-Ringworld-vampire was for Dr. Manzi…its his thread.
    Dr. Manzi and I have been discussing Palin in email since she emerged…nearly 2 years now.

    So I am a genocidaire of diploid oocytes?
    but…so are you!
    There are hundreds of thousands of diploid oocytes in terminal cryostasis, and not a peep out of the right on fertility therapy restrictions.
    Why is it permissible to create a proto-human for fertility theraphy, but not for scientific research?

  40. seeming to confirm the suspicions of those whom you are presumably trying to reach that it’s all a scam, a bait and switch, and that compromise on this issue will send them, per your fiendish designs, pell-mell down the slippery slope to Brave New World, at best.

    so…the truth is not PC enough for you?
    but…that’s epistemic closure!
    lawl.

    Highlander….idc what your base thinks.
    Its not my responsiblility to educate them….its yours.

  41. strangelet wrote:

    Highlander….idc what your base thinks.
    Its not my responsiblility to educate them….its yours.

    My base? I don’t pretend to represent anyone but whichever clique of neural subsystems happen to have won control of my verbal apparatus.

    And I apologize for dropping the genocide/eugenics bomblet on you, but I was trying to make a point. As for Palin, for whomever the references were intended, you inserted them here. As I think I made clear way up above somewhere, I do think her and her following can be quite relevant to this discussion, but probably to no good purpose at daggers drawn.

  42. 1. The Pew poll you cite is Pre-Climategate & Pre-Health Care. I would suggest that those numbers are completely irrelevent today, if anything…liberal/conservative numbers might be polar opposites. Frankly, there has been an ideological tectonic shift in the last year.

    2. Manzi’s proposal for responding to alleged Global crises assumes that Conservatives don’t follow his grand strategy already. I would suggest that the essence of Climategate is that the left has been the purveyors of the closed-feedback loop, intransigent and immobile. There is no need to debate the issue here and now, my point is that when discussing climate, it is the right that approaches it with an open mind and the left that has retreated to the ivory tower. See Wattsupwiththat.com, ClimateAudit.com or noconsensus.wordpress.com as good examples of conservative thinkers, scientists and statisticians trying to get to the truth.
    3. Speaking of the next Hurricane cycle…and this is CRUCIAL, A funny thing happened last week in the blogosphere…a hurricane of sorts. Please recall in 2005 IPCC Hurricane Expert Dr. Chris Landsea resigned with an open letter that finished as follows: “I personally cannot in good faith continue to contribute to a process that I
    view as both being motivated by pre-conceived agendas and being scientifically unsound.” Last week Dr. Judith Curry of Georgia Tech, again an IPCC lead Hurricane AGW author finally crossed the Rubicon, http://is.gd/bzKBV In fact she appears to blame the left of exactly the kind of closed-mindedness you attribute to the right.

    “Regarding my personal opinion on where I stand regarding climate science as presented by the IPCC. I place little confidence in the WG2 and WG3 reports; these fields are in their infancy. With regards to the WG1 report, I think that some of the confidence levels are too high. During the period Feb 2007 – Nov 2009, when I gave a presentation on climate change I would say “don’t believe what one scientist says, listen to what the IPCC has to say” and then went on to defend the IPCC process and recite the IPCC conclusions. I am no longer substituting the IPCC’s judgment for my own judgment on this matter. So if the readers here assess that this constitutes going over to the “dark side” then so be it; my conclusion will be that the minds seem to be more open on the “dark side”.”

    If I read her words correctly, the climate skeptic community she has been dialoguing with for several years is more open to real science than the left. The pre-cursor to this event was Dr. Curry having received many e-mails from faculty and students disillusioned by the climategate scandal, feeling the need to write a letter on openess and engagement. http://is.gd/bIWf9 It is interesting to note that this Climate titan still uses the pejorative “Climate Skeptic” nevertheless it is clear that over the last 4 months she has reached the conclusion that The right is intellectually open…the left is inflexible & closed.

    4. So is the Right really closed minded? Here’s a pre-Climategate post http://is.gd/bIWf9 about what climate skeptics believe. Is it closed? Does it not reflect Manzi’s values at a time when Climate Skeptics were being pilloried in the blogosphere, professionally and in the news media:

    A global warming skeptic is someone who reading and understanding the same data as others comes to a different conclusion.
    1 – First and foremost, a global warming skeptic believes in science.
    2 – A global warming skeptic believes in intelligent conservation and preservation.
    3 – A global warming skeptic believes the earth has likely warmed to some extent in the last 40 years.
    4 – A global warming skeptic believes that extremism and politics have overwhelmed the science and that the Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is at its roots corrupt.
    5 – A global warming skeptic believes global temperature changes are more common than the preferred research chosen by government agencies reveals.
    6 – A global warming skeptic believes that there is little evidence linking human activity to temperature changes but does not discount the possibility.
    7 – A global warming skeptic believes that there is little hope that humans can stop producing CO2 even if the worst case scenarios of the extremists are true.
    8 – A global warming skeptic believes that environmental extremism has and will continue to create severe economic damage which has already caused some level of starvation and strife in the world, and if our current path is followed it will limit research and the financial ability to implement truly useful and technically achievable environmental solutions.

    9 – A global warming skeptic believes humanity needs to do more research, achieve more accurate temperature measurement, establish better historic temperatures, open the scientific raw data and calculations to the public and allow dissenters to have a full voice in the IPCC before signing over the keys to our bank accounts in a vain attempt to stop CO2 production.
    5. Lastly, If we take Manzi’s proposition at face value…that Conservatives live in an echo chamber-devoid of reason and closed off from dialogue, debate and reality…I for one am glad that people like Rush, Levin, Palin, Lord Monkton, James Dellingpole, Jeff Id, Steve McIntyre, Dr. Roy Spencer & Anthony Watt have stood on the front lines as a bulwark against the globalist agenda….and bought enough time for the skeptics to put the brakes on insane global taxation schemes to redistribute wealth from the USA to the LDC’s http://is.gd/bIWWp A dignity Tax??? Recall that as of November 18, 2009 the world was 1 Russian hack & and 1 US Senate election away from a globalized carbon tax UN Climate Treaty page 122 effective September 15, 2009:
    17. [[Developed [and developing] countries] [Developed and developing country Parties] [All Parties] [shall] [should]:]
    a) Compensate for damage to the LDCs’ economy and also compensate for lost opportunities, resources, lives, land and dignity, as many will become environmental refugees;

    b) Africa, in the context of environmental justice, should be equitably compensated for environmental, social and economic losses arising from the implementation of response measures.

    My point here is that perhaps the idealism of Manzi, may not always be the best approach. That a multi layered approach may be most effective. I don’t view the partisan nature of Rush, Hannity, Levin, Breitbart, Drudge or the guys at Hotair as harmful to the conservative movement…while they may be devisive at times, they serve as a bulwark and an anchor for people who don’t have the strength, will, or ability to fight Socialism at an ideological level…Pew research or no, they have done a heck of a job. The ideological war as Manzi proposes is being fought openly with dialogue by guys like Jeff Id, Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts, and that approach is working as well. If they have lured the USA’s two best Climate Hurricane Scientists to “the dark side” their must be something to the proposition, we already are being open, it’s the left that is behaving like fascists.

  43. no…..that is what you don’t get.
    Palin is not useful.
    You are just like Manzi….you both think Palin is a symptom.
    She is a disease.
    And she is going to kill your party.
    Have a nice 40 years in the wilderness.

  44. OK- here’s a peep out of the right (and if you’d been paying attention, you would have heard it before): IVF poses terrible ethical problems for those of us who think that human life is sacred from the moment of conception. I personally think that the risks of IVF outweigh the benefits, but I know that I am a minority voice. Also, if you had been listening, you would have heard lots and lots of peeps from George W. Bush when he limited the funding of embryonic stem cell research. In fact in one of the announcements surrounding his executive order, he had a photo op that included several parents and their children, all of whom had been abandoned embryos who were rescued and brought to term by the bio-adoptive mothers. George Bush also has a Presidential Commission on Bioethics, which included scientists and ethicists from across the spectrum: a first. Needless to say, Barack Obama doesn’t see the need for people to think about bioethics, so he disbanded the commission.

  45. @ After Seven:
    Thanks for your substantial and thoughtful reply, and sorry it was caught in the pending queue for a couple of hours. I’ve got to run, be back later – Gaia willing.

  46. @ Barbara:you moron.
    Obama didn’t disband the commission, he just sacked the bible thumping bioluddites on it and gave them 24 hours to empty their desks. Bush’s Bioluddite council was universally loathed by every tecnologist and scientist in America… including Glenn Reynolds and John Derbyshire and Rhazib Khan.
    Obama kept the real scientists.
    Big whup….a hundred or so snowflake embryos adopted out of the icy genocide of 400,000 cryostasis’d embryos?
    whited sepulchre.
    /spit

  47. She is a disease.
    And she is going to kill your party.
    Have a nice 40 years in the wilderness.

    Unless people in 2050 are voting on the basis of Charlie Gibson interviews from 2008, that seems highly unlikely.

  48. The Pew poll you cite is Pre-Climategate & Pre-Health Care. I would suggest that those numbers are completely irrelevent today, if anything…liberal/conservative numbers might be polar opposites.

    lies….if anything, scientist attrition on the right is continuing to be driven by rising numbers of liberal postbaccs and baccs.
    Who teaches in unis? postbaccs and teaching research search scientists. Murrays extreme liberal/intellectual upper curve
    Where we will see a tectonic change is Murray’s graph….we will see medical doctors switching to liberal.
    Obama turned the AMA.

    Seven, you are whistling in the dark.

  49. @ Ken:in 2050 non-hispanic cauc will be the demographic minority.
    good luck with runnin’ a postmenopausal Palin…she’ll be 87 in 2050.
    hahaha

  50. Who said we’d be running her? We’ll be running someone else, probably sharing the majority of her opinions. In what weird world do you think you can win even in 2012, let alone future elections, based on nothing but Palin-hate? Even most of the people who don’t support her for President don’t hate her. The only ones who hate her are the nightclub crowd, simply because she “judged” them by not aborting her child.

  51. Oh, and good luck maintaining that Hispanic vote, considering that the overwhelming popularity of the new Arizona law makes it inevitable that we’ll get more such laws in the future. (Actually the immigration rate has been dropping for several years already).

    Don’t worry though…I’m sure we’ll have several more years of legalized abortion, so you can kill several more kids in the meantime while living your life trading sex for dimebags. By the time we illegalize it, you’ll have OD’d in some disco bathroom stall anyway.

  52. When my Grandma Rivka didn’t like someone she would look her right in the face and say you are a miserable person!

  53. Reading strangelet’s provocations is like reading a tag cloud. She thinks, if the word may be abused in this way, in keywords and slogans. She writes ad copy, jingles. An extended argument with, you know, sentences one after the other is apparently beyond jingle girl’s powers of concentration. But running together snappy phrases will no more illuminate a discussion than striking a series of matches will a room. Have I mentioned her cute-as-a-bunny experiments in typography?

    “medhlevi sufist transhumanist,” she scribbles in self-confession. Where are the long walks on the beach? Her resume is a perfect example of nothing masquerading as something. (Who is “medhlevi” by the way? If she refers to Rumi here, his name was Mehlevi.) To conjoin Sufism with Transhumanism is moreover quite obscene. Islamic Sufism has been around since the Seventh Century; but it is really much, much older. It likely represents what prior Persian religious philosophy and practice have contributed to Islam. As is the tendency among mystics, Sufis strive for face-to-face union with God, here and now and whilst still in the plain old human form we all currently share. I’ve read a good deal of Idries Shah, and what wee wee cummings thoughtlessly mingles is utterly foreign to Sufism, according to which we needn’t evolve into some transhuman stage to achieve spiritual enlightment, “to pierce the black light,” as Sufis have expressed it. We have all the equipment we need right now to achieve the end intended. Technology or technognosis has no more to do with Sufism in the 20th Century than it did when Rumi was writing in the 13th. Aiming to physically transform ourselves into something else altogether is a species of Satanism to an honest Sufi.

    Transhumanism does have a lot to teach us about our little visitor, though, who, not unlike dysmenorrhea, arrives here every 28 days or so, bringing cramps and a bloody mess. Have any of you ever seen, let alone read, H+, the transhumanist movement mag? I remember seeing the cover of the first issue and mistaking it for a copy of Vogue. A strikingly banal image of what was supposed to be a woman, a transhuman woman, utterly indistinguishable from a manniken, a pathetic cartoon – but acne free! That is what jingle girl is really on about, the androgyne adolescent’s fantasy of never having to grow old, of always being a size 4. That’s right, the vampire fantasy. And of course, college and university attendance and affiliation, which these days has become an increasingly lengthy bout of extended adolescence, must loom large in the juvenile imagination as some sort of eden. So many smart people. So much to think about!

    So naturally, such tastes invariably run to the eugenic, which the child seems to think is what happens whenever two people are attracted to each other and procreate. That special bit of nonsense she advanced earlier, in all seriousness it appears, giving every indication that she feels her definition is a model of concision. The term eugenics was only invented in 1883, so there’s scant excuse for confusion in the matter. It had, and I believe still does have, a pretty straightforward meaning: deliberately incentivizing reproduction of superior specimens of humanity while discouraging the, ugh, less fit. It’s all pretty disgusting and inhuman at core because of, well, all of the selecting and deselecting that has first to be got out of the way. Of course, as we know, it’s been tried with some enthusiasm, but sadly with mixed results, here and there.

    Those stunted obsessions lead to another: Sarah Palin. For all the obvious reasons Palin infuriates the jingle girl. Some of it has to do with Sarah Palin herself, and I think girlish envy of a beautiful woman should not too quickly be ruled out. More, much more, I’d bet, has to do with Trig Palin, a child with trisomy, whose mother knew its condition when there was plenty of time to prevent its dysgenic contribution to the race. Trig and Transhumanism? No way, Jose. Hatred and contempt is all that a loving mother of a trisomic child deserves, and jingle girl pitches in with a will, returning to Palin, bidden to or not, again and again, like a dog to its vomit.

    Fittingly enough, her other specialty is fortune-cookie prognostication. She is eager to share with us what will happen in 20 years or 40 or 50 years, how this that or the other thing has to happen. Is there a more worthless form of argument?

  54. After Seven wrote:

    1. The Pew poll you cite is Pre-Climategate & Pre-Health Care. I would suggest that those numbers are completely irrelevent today, if anything…liberal/conservative numbers might be polar opposites. Frankly, there has been an ideological tectonic shift in the last year.

    Could be. Could be wishful thinking. Might take more like a major astronomical collision rather than a mere tectonic shift to change those numbers radically.

    2. Manzi’s proposal for responding to alleged Global crises assumes that Conservatives don’t follow his grand strategy already. I would suggest that the essence of Climategate is that the left has been the purveyors of the closed-feedback loop, intransigent and immobile. There is no need to debate the issue here and now, my point is that when discussing climate, it is the right that approaches it with an open mind and the left that has retreated to the ivory tower. See Wattsupwiththat.com, ClimateAudit.com or noconsensus.wordpress.com as good examples of conservative thinkers, scientists and statisticians trying to get to the truth.

    You 100% sure that the authors at those fine web sites (well the 2 out of 3 I’m familiar with and have in the past discussed or linked) are political conservatives at all, much less American political conservatives? Could be some are. If they are – and to be clear I see no reason why they couldn’t be conservative – they represent one sophisticated wing of the movement. I support their work. I suspect Manzi does as well. I also know of at least one important and influential non-denialist scientist who features McIntyre’s work prominently in the sections of his book that deal with GW (Richard Muller, see above). I’m all in favor of good scientific work, or good work checking up on scientists.

    3. Speaking of the next Hurricane cycle…and this is CRUCIAL, ***Last week Dr. Judith Curry of Georgia Tech, again an IPCC lead Hurricane AGW author finally crossed the Rubicon, http://is.gd/bzKBV In fact she appears to blame the left of exactly the kind of closed-mindedness you attribute to the right.
    […] nevertheless it is clear that over the last 4 months she has reached the conclusion that The right is intellectually open…the left is inflexible & closed.

    As for Dr Curry, her statement at your link begins with the following sentence: “First, I’m not sure why we are talking about ‘sides’ (that tribalism thing); we should be talking about science and how to improve the integrity of science.”

    And yet somehow you turn that around into a support for one “side” over the other.

    4. So is the Right really closed minded?
    ***

    Where did Manzi or I describe “the right” as “closed-minded”?

    One form of closed-mindedness – or ideological defensiveness – is to turn specific criticisms into generalizations on no apparent basis. It suggests a kind of paranoia. It’s also typical of the Levin counter-attack on Manzi, incidentally, in which he continually associates Manzi with the worst of the warmists, and argues as though anyone who isn’t a radical denialist is a sellout and accomplice of the etc. etc. etc.

    Manzi (CATO Institute, NRO contributor) and I both are “of the right,” so it would make no sense for us, and others who think like either or both of us, to attribute monolothic ideological discipline to “the right.” It would be equally absurd to make the left into such a monolith – though I see the practice constantly, and see it in your comment as well.

    Jim Manzi criticized Mark Levin and described how a certain approach to a certain topic in his view exemplified a kind of “epistemic closure.” That’s it. He thinks it’s bad. So do I. I pointed out that, in addition, the e.c. attack seemed to strike a nerve, and that, rightly or wrongly, scientists and intellectuals seem generally to feel more comfortable on the left – by large margins. That may change by itself – or the process may be worth helping along as much as we can.

    I don’t really see what the point of the whole GW skeptic section is in relation to this particular discussion, though it’s a useful set of reference points. Some on the right, perhaps including Manzi, might associate themselves with that kind of skepticism. Others are less skeptical – they might be closer to the view of a scientist like Richard Muller, whose views on GW I attempted to summarize in a comment above. Others go much further, however – and even seem to feel the need to denounce or ridicule those who dare to suggest that there may some serious issues worth looking at in relation to GW/greenhouse effect/CO2, even if the warmist program and the manner in which it was developed are deeply flawed.

    5. Lastly, If we take Manzi’s proposition at face value…that Conservatives live in an echo chamber-devoid of reason and closed off from dialogue, debate and reality
    ***

    Where did Manzi say that? Again, see above.

    My point here is that perhaps the idealism of Manzi, may not always be the best approach.

    I’d prefer not to generalize about Rush, Hannity, et al, and am myself from time to time one of “the guys at HotAir,” though if you mean Ed and AP, I don’t see them as the “same” as Levin, or the same as Drudge.

    I also wonder if it’s accurate to describe Manzi as the “idealist” in this discussion. Perhaps in some regards – if it’s “idealism” to hold out any hope for our political system, if it’s “idealism” to believe in the existence of relatively uncorrupted scientists worth listening to. If that’s idealism, then it seems odd to me to use it as a pejorative – connoting a woeful lack of realism – as you seem to, when you yourself take conspicuous pride in the example of scientists who you believe have come over to your “side.” Otherwise, if you don’t hold out any hope for the political system – then go find a bomb vest.

    I didn’t spend much time in the top post discussing either Manzi or Levin’s posts in detail, so I’ll say here, because it seems relevant, that I think what spoke to me most directly about Manzi’s was his description of examining the work of a popularizer/polemicist like Levin writing about something that he, Manzi, had studied, and having the experience, I paraphrase, of thinking “if this guy can be so bad on this subject, how can I trust him on any subject?” I’ve had that same experience many times with other figures – Glenn Beck comes to mind, Jonah Goldberg unfortunately, though less often – and I imagine that part, not all, of the explanation for those Pew and Murray numbers might be versions of that same experience multiplied many times over, over and over again, helped along by the kind of blanket assault on the integrity and interests of scientists and intellectuals that one encounters constantly in the trenches on the right.

    Speaking in favor of reaching out to scientists and intellectuals and persuadable centrists and leftists, of trying to understand them and their motivations and how they see themselves, of constructing a program that makes sense to more of them, etc., is treated as some kind of foul betrayal by some on the right – amidst statements of proud ignorance and anger at anyone willing to point out that the anti-consensus consensus is as false as the consensus ever was. Just check out the thread at HotAir under my post – or virtually any thread under one of my posts at HotAir lately – or the discussion under the Karl post on this subject. It’s bad enough wherever it’s encountered, and if unopposed, it tends to take over whatever forum it appears in – and it makes the right look bad, harms the conservative project politically, and makes it more difficult for conservatives to develop better ideas and more effective arguments.

    It doesn’t matter whether the left is worse or not – no one is in a position to make an objective determination anyway, but what if you could? It still doesn’t help conservatives, to be ideologically and emotionally closed-minded, however many or few the description applies to.

  55. This of course, is the problem with this whole notion, we live and breath these notions, it maybe we react against the mind numbing
    notions that theirs, and by that I mean the usual suspects view are
    the only ones that matters. Hence the post hires more with these
    notionshttp://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/04/epistemic_closure.html, and it becomes a scandal when anyone
    on the right, who has a strong position, Gerson doesn’t count, ends
    up on the editorial board, like Thiessen who gives our dear webbed
    friend, all sorts of gas

  56. @ CK MacLeod:

    Jeff ID at Air Vent (noconsensus.wordpress.com) is definitely a political conservative, as he troubles to remind readers once in a while. He also rejects the term “skeptic” as applying to himself, describing himself as posssibly a “lukewarmist,” a puzzled one, puzzled by how much bad science on the subject of AGW has been naively swallowed by governments and media.

    Steve McIntyre at ClimateAudit.com is very guarded about his politics (for good reason, too). Before retiring, he was a mining engineer specializing in statistical evaluations of geological data (I think).

    Tony Watts (wattsupwiththat.com) is a meteorologist, and is also, at least to my reading, pretty unforthcoming about his political views.

    By the way, the reason that McIntyre is so significant – he’s the man, along with Ross McKitrick, who thoroughly undermined (pun there) Michael Mann’s infamous hockey-stick graph, which graced the cover of and appeared no fewer than seven times in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report – is that far more than most people appreciate, the proof of AGW, if you can call it that, is statistical.

    Isolating what climatologists call a “temperature signal” in an enormous welter of disparate data, collected under maddeningly varying conditions (nothing like laboratory work at all), as well as a millennium in scope, is almost entirely a statistical exercise. Sure, there is a deterministic physics of an embarrassingly rudimentary sort lurking in the background. In fact, McIntyre some time ago challenged Mann and Hansen and the rest to present a physical argument, not a computer model that assumes CO2 forcing (warming), starting with first principles, that would proceed from any given concentration of atmospheric CO2 to the predicted and apocalyptic 4-degree-celsius warming in the next half century. No one has ever taken him up on it. For reasons I’ve discussed before, it cannot be done; and that can very nearly be known apriori.

    The chief AGW proponents are not physicists, nor do they appear in their writings to be very much interested in physics even though the problem posed in AGW is at heart a radiative-physics problem. More pertinently, they are not statisticians even secondarily! They are trying to get a certain temperature curve that matches their motley data sets, and, shockingly enough, they use off-the-shelf statistical software packages for the most part, tweaking them and the data until the curve fits without really understanding or even much caring about – ignorance is bliss – the numerous mathematical restrictions on the use of the software, some of them very difficult if not impossible to do justice to. Even then, what they succeed in producing with their tweaking is a hindcast of the raw data, the same data that they have repeatedly massaged, homogenized, and adjusted! – the terms used are numerous – not a forecast, which is where the rubber meets the road. Their forecasts, beginning in 1998, as even warmists admit, have been next to worthless for at least 15 years, judged by surface temperature measurements, and even all the way back to 1979 if satellite data is admitted, namely, no evidence of statistically significant warming can be found. It required an expert statistican like Steve McIntyre to “take the cunning in their craft [Romans 3].”

    The main point to take away from this, I am suggesting, is that if more people of responsibility understood just how deeply AGW arguments are statistical guesswork, I think they would be quite alarmed and wonder just what sort of train they’re being urged to board.

  57. I’ve been in contact with someone on another blog, who for most of last year, mostly by linking from Anthony Watts, and other sources,
    was giving me all the data on Yamal Briffa, decadal oscillations, maunder minimums and all the other fluctuations, that comprise what could be considered ‘a travesty of two mockeries of a sham” long before I heard on Climategate, they went cold in the monthes before
    the East Anglia revelations came to light, and reappeared shortly
    after

  58. @ Joe NS:
    I’m familiar with your positions, Joe. You know much more about physics than I do. However, I don’t really consider you an authority on GW and related fields, and there wouldn’t be much point in your trying to persuade me of your position, since, upon my next intellectual encounter with someone whose credentials I consider at least as good as yours, I would be compelled, if I’m simply going by authority, to adopt that person’s opinon, until the next encounter, and so on. One other alternative – the one that human nature often leads us to adopt – is to believe the authority whose conclusions best fit our prejudices. Another alternative is to concentrate on the authority whose conclusions most discomfort us, in the interest of testing ourselves against the challenge to our pre-conceived notions.

    As Manzi points out in one of his posts, we do have processes set up for approximating the best authoritative opinion on scientific questions of political relevance. If there is something wrong with that process, then that might be one place where the energy of a scientifically unqualified observer might best be applied, and where scientists and non-scientists can meet on equal terms.

  59. I just read your long attack on strangelet, Joe. I’ve faulted her for poor manners and questioned her ideas, but that crude bit at the end was offensive, and I’ve exercised my prerogative/accepted my responsibility to delete it.

    Since you mainly stick to substantive – if largely off-topic – discussion, since you seem to have put some work into the comment, and since, as noted, strangelet is often quite antagonistic, I’m reluctant to delete the entire comment merely out of my own discomfort with it and the example it sets. I’d still like to request that all participants refrain from making personal attacks on anyone who comments here, “asked for” or not.

  60. Really CK , you’ve deleted Kermit’s comments for a far less vicious diatribe than Kate,the wannabe Quellist, there were some comments
    that were somewhat adhominem but Joe’s really doesn’t qualify. She
    shows the same courtesy af Jeff Goldstein’s shop by the way

  61. @ CK MacLeod:

    I don’t have to be an authority nor you a physicist for you to grasp what everyone on both sides of the debate has admittted: AGW proponents have failed to forecast average global temperature for the past 15 years. Failed miserably. What more condemnation of a physical theory could be supplied? Surely you’ve heard of the law of indirect reasoning, which is no more demanding of the average intelligence than is elementary logic? Affirming A affirms B if and only if denying B denies A. A is AGW, B is increased average global temperatures. B has been falsified. Therefore A has been falsified. That is not a stretch. That is the heart of scientific reasoning. Other serious examples of modus tollens (indirect reasoning) falsifying the AGW hypothesis could be adduced. They are a bit more technical, but not very. For instance, every – and I do mean every – AGW model ever put forward unambiguously requires a suddenly elevated temperature at an altitude of 12 km and between the tropics. They have been searching for this thermocline break for going on 20 years now. They have used radiosondes and satellites. There is not a sign of it, not so much as a milli-kelvin’s deviation from smoothness. The falsification of the theory here evidenced is as conclusive as can be imagined since this is one of the very few nonstatistical, basic-physics predictions that the theory of AGW makes. The natural buoyancy of CO2 demands that the “hot spot” must be there and only there, but it’s not.

    Furthermore, you do not, in your agnosticism, address the main line of my comment, seemingly fail to appreciate it an iota: AGW is not a theory of gravity or anything remotely like it. The proof of AGW is almost entirely statistical and thus suffers from all the attendant infirmities of such an approach and is more than usually open to abuse.

  62. yeah, that’s right, Tsar, whatever narc said.

    I feel that no comment should be deleted if I haven’t written it.

  63. @ CK MacLeod:

    I quite understand your reticence, Colin. Were the positions reversed, I might feel no differently. But to bring this discussion back into the context of your original post, why did you so uncritically sympathize with Manzi’s position vis-a-vis Levin? You may try to evade this, but I don’t think you can: to the extent that Manzi has a substantive criticsm of Levin is to the extent that Levin actually does or fails to do what Manzi claims unambiguously (“wingnuttery”) that Levin does and fails to do, namely, he attacks the weakest AGW argument, not the strongest. But as I said above and repeat here, Manzi does so without even mentioning what that argument might be. So how on earth did you assess his persuasiveness with regard to Levin’s inadequacy? It seems impossible to me, unless – and please don’t take this the wrong way – you are sympathetic to Manzi because, judging solely from his attack on Levin’s book, he appears to know no more than you do of the topic.

    That is why I have been insisting that taking a sort of I-distrust-both-houses attitude, as you seem to, simply won’t do. The substance of the scientific argument is all there really is to the argument. AGW is first of all a scientific dispute. A position with integrity must be staked out there, and not loftily eschewed or put to one aside, before one may even begin to grapple with the political side of things. The two approaches are not independent. They implicate each with each; but the scientific truth of the matter should, I’d argue, clearly must and should take precedent over the opinions of political casuistry.

    As for strangelet, I don’t much care. I thought the last lines were pretty funny though. And I can’t believe you’re really worried about sparing the feelings of someone who called Barbara a moron and a liar. Say, didn’t she matter-of-fact-ly cretinize someone, too?

  64. @ narciso:
    If anyone makes a comment that you find offensive or otherwise “bad for the blog,” you’re welcome to contact me directly or to say as much. A ca. 500-word comment devoted entirely to attacking another commenter here – rather than a public personality – is rather unprecedented.

    I’m not sure if you read the sentences that I deleted. Can we at least agree that vulgar sexual insults should simply be unacceptable?

    The role of personal invective in closing down discussion may be on-topic after all.

  65. to the extent that Manzi has a substantive criticsm of Levin is to the extent that Levin actually does or fails to do what Manzi claims unambiguously (“wingnuttery”) that Levin does and fails to do, namely, he attacks the weakest AGW argument, not the strongest.

    Neither Levin nor Manzi is in a position to judge the science. They are in a position only to communicate to the reader the state of the discussion as they understand it: Almost any argument either makes will in the end come down to a more or less persuasive presentation of authorities.

    Instead of glossing Manzi’s and Levin’s posts, I’ll refer to one point of contention: The AGW petition that Manzi accuses Levin of mischaracterizing – both its endorsements and its content. Manzi argues that the endorsers aren’t impressive, and are in some known cases quite suspect, and that the number given is inflated. He then argues that, anyway, the petition text doesn’t say what Levin implies it says:

    And most important by far, the text of the petition is not close to Levin’s claim of rejecting the notion of man-made global warming. In the key sentence it says that signatories do not believe that there is compelling scientific evidence that human release of greenhouse gases will cause catastrophic heating and disruption of the earth’s climate. Depending on the definition of “catastrophic,” I could agree to that. Yet I don’t reject the notion of man-made global warming.

    (emphasis added)

    Of the two arguments – endorsers, content – the first is obviously weaker, because it’s impossible to prove that there were no qualified signatories. Manzi’s arguments might stand as suggestive of Levin’s bias, but, without proof of systematic fraud and of Levin withholding knowledge of same, would be unlikely to make the case. On the other hand, the second argument destroys the whole point of Levin’s having introduced the petition in the first place, since, rather than adopting a hard anti-AGW position, the signatories are instead merely adopting a position that a believer in AGW could also adopt.

    In replying, Levin focuses entirely on the first argument, and ignores the second one, even though Manzi has (properly) declared it “most important by far.” After some more derisive comments and attempts to associate Manzi with the GW alarmists whom Manzi has explicitly separated himself from, Levin slides on to the next topic. This mischaracterization of Manzi as alarmist parallels the mischaracterization of the petition. It bypasses the opponent’s strength by again refusing to distinguish between radicals and moderates. IN the first case, the petition signers, Levin wanted them all on his side, so he equates all moderates with denialists. In the second case, he wants to argue against Enviro-Statis kooks, so he associates the non-denialist skeptic Manzi with alarmists.

    Aside from having nothing to do with a search for truth, Levin’s approach is totally unpersuasive. All of his conclusions could be correct – about the GW discussion or about Manzi or both – but he adopts methods unlikely to persuade anyone who isn’t either already persuaded or prejudiced in Levin’s favor. He gives the distinct impression of someone determined to arrive at a specific conclusion – GW wrong, Manzi wrong – and ready to ignore, minimize, or mischaracterize anything that might cause someone else to doubt that conclusion. And that exemplifies what we have been calling “epistemic closure.”

  66. For Manzi to introduce a quibble over the word “catastrophic” is at best coy and at worst seriously ignorant (I don’t think he’s ignorant). We do not have to wonder at the definition of “catastrophic” at the center of the debate. And the prospect of out-and-out catastrophe is in fact the beating heart of the actually existing global-warming controversy. Warmists have helpfully spelled out the meaning of catastrophe in the most lurid terms imaginable: sea-level rises of a meter and a half with submersion of whole archipelagos and large portions of entire nations (picturesque Holland? just a memory), total desertification of sub-Saharan Africa, destruction of half the food-producing capabilities of enormous parts of the globe leading to the starvation of “hundreds of millions” of people, disproportionately in the Third World. Northern India and western China, home to a billion people, will to all intents lose their water supplies. Species extinction will occur on a scale not seen since the Precambrian. Simultaneously, social conditions will worsen dramatically, descending to a hobbesian state of nature, and, in historical terms, will do so practically overnight, spawning disease, war, and famine. In brief, we are asked to contemplate the Four Horsemen at full gallop, roaming the globe and pillaging like Huns. If there is a better word than “catastrophic” to describe the spectacle, please supply it.

    And you know what? If the “climate sensitivity” proposed by AGW is in fact correct, which is to say, four-to-six degrees of warming per CO2 doubling per century, all those horrors likely will occur! Without such melodramatic prospects in the offing should we “fail to act,” without such nightmares – a list that could with little effort be extended – soberly announced, there most likely would have been no Rio Summit, no Kyoto Protocol, and no Copenhagen Conference. The governments of the world would have been derelict in their duties in the extreme and possibly deserving of a visit by a firing squad had they ignored such predictions, which moreover were grounded in supposedly impeccable science.

    If AGW didn’t assert what it plainly does, who would much care that the earth has been warming (moderately) since about 1850, which no one “denies”? They would care about as much as people did before AGW entered the scene, definitely from stage left, that in the previous three centuries the earth had been cooling or that in the three centuries before that surface temperatures were rising, and so on, back as far as ingenuity may discover. Which government would concern itself over a secular oscillation one degree in amplitude?

    Of course the scientists themselves – most of them anyway – do not speak of war, famine, and plague. That task has been delegated to eager and excitable flunkies in the media. No, Mann and Jones and Santer merely have to announce their pat four-to-six degree scenario and all the rest follows as the night the day. (A notable exception is Jim Hansen at NASA, by far the most influential alarmist in the United States, who has called for trying coal-company executives at the Hague for crimes against humanity.)

    Earlier IPCC assessment reports (AR1 and -2, mid-to-late 1990s) had produced no great alarm. But that was before the AGW ball really got rolling, to be precise, before the Mann hockey stick (1998). That single, bogus* graphic electrified the climatological community and galvanized calls for immediate and draconian government intervention because it seemingly demonstrated for the first time that (1) previous oscillations in temperature were much smaller than had been believed and in any event were not global in extent, and (2) since the industrial revolution commenced in earnest, the rate of temperature increase has growed like Topsy.

    For the first time (AR3, 2001), the IPCC included in its “Advice to Policymakers” chapter, the conclusion that “it has been determined that global warming is accelerating and that it is probably manmade.” Lest there be further pointless quibbling, the meaning of “probably” is spelled out in the report’s discussion of confidence intervals: “probably” means “with 95% confidence.” The basis for the manmade part was, and still substantially is, a patent fallacy that scientists used to be taught to avoid as one would poison, i.e., post hoc ergo propter hoc. As temperatures have risen, so has industrial activity, and we blithely conclude that the one has caused the other! Putting aside the magnitude of the temperature anomaly at the heart of the controversy, industrial production is still rising, but the temperature curve is either flat or decelerating, aka cooling.

    To resume, for signatories of the petition cited by Levin to reject the notion of “catastrophic ” consequences is to reject everything about AGW theory that is not trivial, leaving only a climatological platitude: Now the earth’s getting warmer. Manzi must know that, so I wonder if he isn’t the one with some ‘splaining to do as to just why he resorts to an equivocation on “catastrophic” that is really quite unnecessary. It has been defined for us in 72 point Boldoni Bold by those concerned.

    As to the first objection to Levin imputed to Manzi, you are correct in saying that it is the weaker, but you do not do justice to its feebleness by that rather tame assessment. As Levin points out, 9000 of the signatories have PhDs in some field or other. But where in Manzi’s criticism do we learn the following: that of the 2500 names appended to AR3 and 4, reports that wholeheartedly endorse AGW, only about 700 are even scientists, or that of the 700 fewer than 70 are climatologists, or that only 60% of the 70 – 42 scientists, count ’em – thought human activity was responsible to any appreciable extent, or that, when AR3 was being prepared, none of the dozen or so panelist drafts had concluded that the warming was “probably manmade”? That last particular and deliberately incendiary observation had been inserted, most likely by Ben Santer, after the final iteration of the chapter drafts had been circulated and without being resubmitted for vetting, in clear violation of the IPCC’s own report-preparation protocols.

    Given such textual manipulation, the impact of which on policymakers was both importunate and consequential, Levin’s suggestion of some kind of conspiracy in operation is neither unreasonable nor an example of “wingnuttery.” Manzi must have known or should have made it his business to know that that particular feat of report-writing legerdemain is no deep, dark secret. The President of the National Academy of Sciences was so concerned that in 2005 he submitted an op-ed piece to the WSJ (shamefully, the only newspaper that would run it) denouncing the insertion as tantamount to scientific fraud. The rest of the media yawned and ignored him. Don’t you think that an occasion for raking Levin’s petition and alleged conspiracy mongering over the coals might also have been the appropriate time to mention such blatant shenanigans? Open-minded is not how I would characterize an omission so pointedly relevant to his criticisms of Levin. In sum Manzi’s argument can fairly be described, I think, as backhanded reinforcement of science-is-settled bromides that are more questionable today than ever.

    The reasonable suggestion that it is vitally important to strengthen the weaker argument in any controversy was, so far as I can see, first urged by Protagoras (fl., 5th cent. BC). It may be only a coincidence that Protagoras is also the most famous and influential member of the school of Greek rhetoric today called Sophism. I for one am not sure that it is.

    * We can be pretty sure that even the IPCC is now allergic to Mann’s 1998 work because in AR4, which appeared after McIntyre’s exposure of its methodological shoddiness, the graph doesn’t appear at all! Think of it. The work that was easily the single greatest excuse for pandemonium breaking out after 2001, apearing all by its four-color lonesome on the cover of AR3, is buried in AR4 in a couple of footnotes. Mann et al. ’98 had served its purpose, worked its damage, and henceforth could be scrupulously ignored.

  67. Colin, I have to agree with Joe’s main point about “judging the science”–if the prediction fails, the theory fails.

    That goes for theories about physical events and those for social events. One does not have to disprove every paragraph in Das Kapital to reject the tory; it’s enough to show that the immiseration of the proletariat hasn’t happened. As soon as we hit the global temperature decline of the last 9 years, the theory of global warming was in big trouble, and the scientists involved underscored this conclusion by their efforts, now revealed, to torture earlier data to minimize this.

    About winning over the intellectual class: We should remember that intellectuals are subject to liberal (actually, radical) gatekeepers at the early stages of their careers, and thereafter become heavily dependent on government funding. Working from a conservative point of view that pays attention to incentives, I would say that getting Mark Levin to modify his tone will have little effect, even if it were possible.

    By the way, according to the test above, Levin’s prediction about GW has been vindicated by facts. Should give him some credit.

  68. Barbara did lie about the Bioethics council.
    Obama did not disband it, he just booted the biblethumping bioluddites.
    Obama is a bricoleur…..he optimizes re-use and re-engineering of existing structures.
    Sorry about the moron part..i should have just said intransigently stupid and badly-informed.

    What Manzi did in his analysis of cap-n-trade is that he used science in service of what I feel are true conservative goals…he acknowledged [rationally] the existence of gw, and did a scientific cost/benefit risk/threat trade-off on proposed liberal policies…..he did his conservative job.

    I dislike irrationality.
    Your attachment to Palin as president is purely emotional, Highlander.
    1. she has never given an open press conference.
    2. any question she takes at an appearance is still prescreened.
    3. statistically, via electoral demographics, the only way she could currently become president is in a putsch.
    4. she cannot survive a presidential debate with follow on questions and she knows it.
    She is still using media bias as an excuse to not learn anything. Perhaps she was unfairly treated, but it has been 2 years…if she is going to run in one year, she needs to cowboy up and take open pressers.
    5. if she doesn’t intend to run, she should have the grace to step aside and make space for a legitimate candidate.

  69. No, my dear Kate, it would seem Obama is the Nyarlathop in the equation. It can’t be his work at the CAC, the results of which were
    seen at Altgeld Gardens, while the Olympics selection was going on, they chose Rio, a tropical Dantesque landscape instead, He fixed his first state house race, and did the same for his Senate bid. He did nothing of note there, except a whistleblower bill that he has proceeded to violate, all the while was in the pocket of all the culprits of the subprime crisis, all the while acting as the champion of the people, while creating the grounds for yet another sham,
    the socalled financial reform and cap n trade bill. All the while serving as the model of the modern American idiot, to paraphrase
    Montaner, Mendoza, and Vargas Llosa

    By contrast Palin has been all about reform, and she has the scars
    to prove it, from her fights with the party establishment up there
    above the lower 48, to the Alinskyite machine that took over the
    Democratic apparatus, who have heaped no end of slurs and slanders upon her family, her status as a wife and mother. And yet she persists fighting for the issues that matter, in ethics, economy
    and defense

  70. @ narciso:

    By contrast Palin has been all about reform, and she has the scars
    to prove it, from her fights with the party establishment up there
    above the lower 48, to the Alinskyite machine that took over the
    Democratic apparatus, who have heaped no end of slurs and slanders upon her family, her status as a wife and mother. And yet she persists fighting for the issues that matter, in ethics, economy
    and defense

    Again, a purely emotional appeal.
    There is NO empirical evidence that Palin is a reformer.
    There is however, tonnes of empirical evidence that Palin is a serial liar and serial embellisher with little regard for fact-check or data.
    There is some empirical evidence as well that Palin is a counter-rational pre-tribulationist. A very bad choice for custody of the nuke-launch codes IMHO, or as a hopeful broker of an Israeli/Palestinian peace accord.

    I truly dislike irrationality and argumants based on pure emotion.

  71. Margo wrote:

    Colin, I have to agree with Joe’s main point about “judging the science”–if the prediction fails, the theory fails.

    The “prediction” – actually a set of predictions – was a political event, not a scientific event. The warmists were warned by fellow scientists – mainly non-denialist “skeptics” – that the multiple inputs on and complexity of global temperatures made prediction especially over short and medium time frames a crap shoot at best, even granting all AGW assumptions. The conservative AGW prediction can only ever be a relative increase in temperature over the course of time – temperatures will be n degrees higher than they would have been otherwise. If other factors happen to be causing relative cooling – a distinct possibility – then it would be canceled out.

    An additional layer of complication, and of danger, is that the atmosphere and the ocean would react differently in the theoretical framework of the greenhouse effect. The acidification of the oceans, an effect of CO2 independent of temperature effects, would be occurring at the same time. No one knows exactly the effects of a warmer, more acidic ocean. Could be catastrophic. Could be wonderful. Could be a non-event. We may be about to find out. It’s not alarmist to consider the possibilities, ask for further work and review, and set up a process for coping with whatever results.

    Since there is so much uncertainty about the temperature prediction, it is, indeed, a rather weak reed on which to rest a worldwide multi-zillion dollar freedom and economy encumbering program, even if – additional layer of uncertainty – the harms predicted by some warmists would indeed come to pass under warmer-than-historical temperatures. Another reason why you don’t have to pre-emptively decapitate the worldwide scientific establishment – a rather un-conservative project – in order to argue against alarmism.

    One does not have to disprove every paragraph in Das Kapital to reject the tory; it’s enough to show that the immiseration of the proletariat hasn’t happened.

    An argument about Marxism? Perish the thought! But you have provided a good example of a one-sided argument that makes zero impression on someone actually versed in the subject. You don’t have to be Marxist or to be sympathetic to Marxists to acknowledge that numerous very intelligent and sophisticated people have been busy at Marxism and Marxian projects for generations, and to suspect – indeed, safely assume – that somewhere or another one or two of them might have run across the same thought that you came up with.

    There is a vast worldwide “proletariat” whose immiseration has been truly impressive. Marxists began to shift their attention to the global economy generations ago.

    Working from a conservative point of view that pays attention to incentives, I would say that getting Mark Levin to modify his tone will have little effect, even if it were possible.

    Who said anything about getting Mark Levin to do anything? Good luck in that effort! The discussion was about a mode of argument and thought that’s intellectually and politically dysfunctional and counterproductive vs. another that’s constructive and “epistemically open.”

  72. What ranckles is that Manzi seems to be too charitable to what appears to be a fraud of collossal proportion, that looks to be a
    toxic assault on the American economy, for no good purpose

  73. @ CK MacLeod:
    The beauty of Manzi’s argument is that he uses ACTUAL science to PROVE that suggested progressive policies are NOT COST VIABLE.
    A true conservative position.

    I want to ax you Colin, do you really think that Manzi regrets using the term “wingnuttery”?
    I think it was perfectly deliberate…actually part of his experimental design testing epistemic closure.

  74. @ Joe NS:
    Why would Manzi, in a critique narrowly focused on the mode of argumentation employed in a chapter of Levin’s book, at a point more narrowly focused on a single argument deployed in that chapter, be obligated to assess the history of the IPCC reports and their endorsers?

    Your comment is at 1290 words longer than Manzi’s 1204-word post on Levin’s book – yet manages only briefly to address the question under discussion here. You asked for an example of what I meant by Levin’s failing to address Manzi’s or other people’s arguments at their strongest. I provided an example of Levin completely ignoring Manzi’s “most important” argument, and instead focusing deceptively on his lesser argument. Levin’s approach is disrespectful to Manzi, disrespectful to the reader, disrespectful to the subject, and disrespectful to himself. Protagoras can go fish.

    For all I know, Levin was taking perverse pleasure in refusing to treat Manzi’s argument on the terms in which Manzi advanced it. A partisan of Levin’s might see some justification, since Manzi bushwhacked Levin. Unfortunately, as Manzi demonstrated, Levin doesn’t need to be attacked “out of nowhere” to be found resorting to dishonest, deceptive, and diversionary tactics.

    You use the discussion of the narrow example as an excuse to launch off into another disquisition on the meaning and history of AGW, AGW propaganda, and related/thinly related subjects. Maybe you should write a book.

  75. We have seen that the real epistemic closure is in institutions like the IPCC, buttressed by the Soros org, despite the dog food they’ve been serving up for 20 years, from the classroom to the congressional hearing, the dogs won’t bite. This in turn supports another huge
    confidence game, called cap n trade, whose windfall for connected parties are in the trillions of dollars, based on constructs not real products. All the while, making the life of the average citizen, ‘nasty, brutish and short’

  76. @ strangelet:
    Manzi apologized, in a manner that looked to me to be quite sincere, for giving “offense,” though he didn’t specifically repent on the w-word – which was directed at Levin’s work, not quite the same as being directed at Levin himself. In other words a non-wingnut might conceivably produce a work with elements of wingnuttery from time to time (even though the Bible does say that ye shall know them by their nuts).

    I think it’s plain what Manzi was attempting to do. Shake things up, following Douthat’s “call.” I think Manzi, as in the self-deprecating remark about going on in “excruciating detail” on the Krugman III post, is also conscious of the fact that he may sometimes go over people’s heads, or fail to supply the drama that, say, a typical fan of Mark Levin feeds on, and that, as a result, his efforts to fight a drift into radicalism and closed-mindedness are sometimes ignored.

    So the temptation is to put a little extra “oomph” in the ping just to make sure you get a reading back on the sonar. It was a bit daring – not storming a pillbox at Iwo Jima, but intellectually brave all the same – to take on “the Great One” at NRO, and in such terms. Precisely calibrating one’s attack in such a situation – violent enough to make an impression, careful enough not to subvert itself – can be quite difficult, and sooner or later a writer may just say “to hell with it, here’s my shot.”

  77. narciso wrote:

    What ranckles is that Manzi seems to be too charitable to what appears to be a fraud of collossal proportion, that looks to be a
    toxic assault on the American economy, for no good purpose

    It’s a lot more than that. It’s an assault on the economic system of what used quaintly to be called the Free World, an offensive which has demonstrable roots in the migration of anti-capitalists into the Green movement in the 1980s, when, even prior to their de jure collapse, the abysmal failures of socialist command economies could no longer be chewed, swallowed, and digested quite so readily on the Left as had been the rule for the previous 65 years. The socialist avenue of criticism having been closed, it was then on to the environmental boulevard, as if to say “Let’s see what havoc may be wrought in a more upscale neighborhood.”

    And Colin, Manzi’s “‘most important’ argument” is meretricious, relying as it does on a wholly manufactured ambiguity in the meaning of a single word.

    Also, your response to Margo seems to be hand-waving. The warmists made the predictions. No one forced them to. The question of the time scale of when the elevation of temperature might take place was addressed by them: the temperature increases would continue and not only would continue but would accelerate. How you can maintain straightfacedly that those were not scientific predictions is incomprehensible. That was what their computer models were telling them, in no uncertain terms, too, models based on the cited climate-sensitivity figures I supplied. Their figures built into their models yielding their predictions. Precisely how is that unscientific? How political?

    Yes, certainly, now they’re all over these hidden variables, as one might describe what clearly amounts to a series of after-the-fact rationalizations, such as oceanic acidification. When Keith Trenberth, a leading warmist, writes, as he does in one of the climategate emails: “The fact that global temperatures are not rising and that we have no idea why they’re not is a scandal,” it speaks volumes. Now Trenberth is on to the hypothesis that the heat is somehow hiding in the oceans. A desperate, easily refuted distraction, since ocean temperatures are not rising and infrared radiation cannot penetrate more than a fraction of a millimeter into sea water. So maybe it’s hiding in his basement. Ridiculous ad hoc patches to a theory that is tottering.

    Your complaint about my going on about AGW is noted. I can be prolix, Lord knows, but each item I introduced is aimed at refuting, either directly or indirectly, Manzi’s objections. If Manzi needed more space to go beyond the strawman arguments he actually did present then perhaps he should have used a venue beside the Corner. You probably know the adage: a solid argument cannot be too long, nor a weak one too short. Manzi’s brevity may speak to no more than that.

  78. Margo wrote:”One does not have to disprove every paragraph in Das Kapital to reject the tory; it’s enough to show that the immiseration of the proletariat hasn’t happened.”

    It’s more difficult to reject Marx’s analysis of what can go wrong with Capitalism if we allow it to go wrong. Marx is in alignment with many of the “Approved” classical Economists on that score. One of the problems about having opinions on Economists is that you have to actually read those deadly tomes to understand them. Most people characterize economists according to some soundbites they picked up in school or from a blog somewhere.
    The other big Elephant,of course,is that the world’s 3rd largest econmy is run by “MARXISTS”,apologies to Andy Xie,who feels that it will Bubble out Japanesse Style sometime.

  79. And Colin, Manzi’s “‘most important’ argument” is meretricius, relying as it does on a wholly manufactured ambiguity in the meaning of a single word.

    I disagree, but, if you’re right, Levin had a golden opportunity to turn Manzi’s self-designated “most important argument” (on that point) against Manzi. Instead, Levin completely ignored it. He was too busy coming up with derisive jibes, apparently – just as you’re very busy making, again, at length, arguments about AGW that are beyond the scope of Manzi’s complaints against Levin. If Levin had made your arguments about AGW, in the way that you make them, then Manzi would have had a different post on Levin to put up, if any.

  80. @ Rex Caruthers:
    Additionally, as I’m sure you’re well aware and as I expect Margo will also recall, once upon a time it was quite common, virtually the obligatory response among “thinking people,” to say that the Depression was “proof” of the validity of Marxist economics – to say nothing of other more parochial and less widely disseminated “proofs.” I think you’ve noted elsewhere that neo-Marxists can hardly restrain their glee and their sense of long-delayed validation in viewing the world’s current economic difficulties.

  81. “I think you’ve noted elsewhere that neo-Marxists can hardly restrain their glee and their sense of long-delayed validation in viewing the world’s current economic difficulties.”

    Screw their Glee,Marx was correct in some instances about errors of Capitalism,but he was mistaken most of the time about the virtues of Social-Communism. IOW,Marx was a great Macro-Economist,and a fifth rate socialpolitical analyst.

  82. @ Rex Caruthers:
    He had the potential to have been a terrific blogger – see 18th Brumaire… Fifth rate’s a little harsh. Maybe we can agree he occasionally showed some symptoms of epistemic closure.

  83. @ CK MacLeod:
    i have corresponded with Manzi for 2 years or so..I have never heard him use that word.
    I think it was calculated, deliberate.
    I do think it was partly a response to Douthat (who i thoroughly detest btw) and partly a clever experiment….which did demonstrate the emotional non-argument on Levin’s side, and the conservative defense of Levin’s gw denialism.
    Levin never responded to Manzi on substance, remember.
    He went straight to ad hom.

  84. Odd that anyone would detest Douthat. I’ve actually grown to appreciate him more lately.

    The “what was Manzi up to question” has led me to think a little bit more about the moment – the transition from populism-led conservative resurgence to the next conservative coalition, which may take longer than some would prefer, or might be accelerated by events. I may put together a post about it later.

    I don’t know how conscious Manzi was of specific intentions, and I’m not sure what difference it would make anyway, though it might tell you interesting things about Manzi. Conscious or not, it’s a moment of potentially productive stress between elements of the conservative coalition, loosening the control of the likes of Levin and other substitute intellectuals on public speech and thought within the movement – a more mature and possibly less internecine version of the Frum/NRO split.

  85. @ CK MacLeod: women and girls mostly detest Douthat….he is a a misogynist and thinks females are “icky”.
    Read his seminal Chunky Reese Witherspoon piece.
    I see little difference between his opinion of the XX and that of the African imam that sanctions a broken-glass granny to “fix” little Maaya so she won’t run around having sex and destroy her bride price.

  86. @ strangelet:
    Based on that rather pathetic but all too human college sex confessional thing – that I just looked up for the first time? I think you may be reading a tad bit much into it with the broken glass granny bit.

  87. @ Barbara:

    Oh, c’mon, Barbara. I like “immanentize the eschaton”! You can have so much fun with it. “Epistemic closure” promises plenty too.

    Although I think I would say the biggest problem of the 21st century is the great yawning void between epistemologic closure among one set of folks, and the utterly unclosable epistemologic aperture characteristic of another.

  88. @ narciso:

    Hey, Zardoz is a cool cult classic. Y’all messin’ with all my cultural touchstones here. How often do you get to see Sean Connery nancing around in a foofy get-up like that?

    Speaking of ridiculous fictional treatments of the Ice Age that was impending back in the 1970s, who else remembers Colleen McCullough’s A Creed for the Third Millennium? I think that was mid-80s. The cognoscenti in Alarmist Theory circles were already moving on to planetary meltdown, but the goodhearted Aussie lass, mega-selling author of Thorn Birds, took a game late-in-the-day whack at depicting an Ice Age falling on the northeastern US. I mainly remember the book as being full of colloquialisms Yanks don’t use.

  89. I had forgotten all about that aspect of that book, actually quite nearly that book, she went on to the Rome series but then careened
    of course since then

  90. I’d like to pose a question. Is “epistemic closure” anything more than a newfangled synonym for “narrow minded”? Is not accusing conservatives of epistemic closure equivalent to spicing up the tired chestnut that conservatives are old-fashioned fuddy-duddies unable to escape the past? This is not exactly an innovation in thinking so much as putting old wine into a new bottle. Conservatives, beginning, I believe, with Burke, have addressed the tendentious accusation a hundred-thousand times or so. As active verbs, there’s not a farthing’s worth of difference between “to narrow” and “to close.” “Epistemic” also seems to me to be no more than a tarted-up version of “mindful.” Dragging in a Greek root to replace a Germanic one may give an appearance of being an un-thought-of conjecture, while in fact owning little of substance that is new and exciting or even much worth pondering.

    An alternative way of analogizing the matter might be that whereas invoking the spectre of epistemic closure pretends to be a tactical exercise in aid of improving Conservatism, it would be more accurate to characterize it as a strategic attack on Conservatism itself, a hackneyed polemical posture at that, which by stealth diverts the merits of any controversy into naked reconsideration of principle, to fruitless questioning of core conservative presuppositions, leaving, not incidentally, Liberalism’s openness to novelty, which an incorrigible ideologue such as yours truly views as little more than a deplorable taste for nihilism, blessedly undisturbed.

    In sum, for us navel gazing, while for the opposition, given the parlous state of their present political prospects, the considerable comfort of watching conservatives battling a wacky auto-immune disorder. What a godsend to the Jonathan Chaits and Paul Krugmans of the the world.

  91. That does seem to be the point of the game, Joe, that our esteemed host doesn’t get. When they are running a shell game, like with the
    health care leviathan, cap n trade, this new ‘financial reform’ boondoggle and we’re impolite in pointing out that’s its a con. The
    beautiful plumage of the Norwegian Blue, doesn’t obscure the fact
    that it’s bleeding demised, ceased to be, But lo and behold to the ones who point out that the emperor does not indeed have a new set of clothes

  92. @ J.E. Dyer:
    Calls to mind a favorite Whittaker Chambers quote, in response to the bumpersticker wisdom of “Minds are like parachutes: they work best when open”. He said, “Yes, but even a parachute has to be closed at one end to really be functional.”

    By the way, your thoughts on the Jim Jones Stand-up Routine (is he headed for the Catskills? “Oh, the food’s terrible and such small portions!”) were excellent. I understand that the joke doesn’t read as well as it was delivered. Fine, it was still truly tone deaf and very, very odd.

  93. @ J.E. Dyer:
    I thought Zardoz was an anti-anxiety drug.

    OMG!OMG! Did you all hear that they’ve stopped production of the next James Bond movie until MGM gets sold???!!!! Daniel Craig is the proper heir to Sean Connery. I was so happy to see the back of Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton totally forgettable, Pierce Brosnan was OK, but Craig… oh, baby… but he probably is no better than some African imam running up bride futures by developing strange unregulated derivatives that are inherently exploitive of XX and foster the hegemony of the patriarchy.

    In other words, my kind of guy.

  94. They have to stop with the Byzantine scripts like “Quantum of Solace”
    and some of the settings, Haiti, for the better part of an hour, the
    Atacama desert, “Royale” had good pacing, but this one lagged for
    long stretches. Don’t laugh, but that might very well be the next villain

  95. narciso wrote:

    That does seem to be the point of the game. . . . [W]e’re impolite in pointing out that’s its a con.

    Not merely “a con.” The same ol’ con.

  96. well..I don’t think it is epistemic closure at all.
    It is just bunker mentality and the age old exploitation of the proles by the elites.
    Conservative elities don’t really believe the crapology the low-information base believes….they just pretend to believe to exploit them.

  97. “Closed-minded” was already proposed several times as an adequate plain talk synonym. However, to say someone is closed-minded doesn’t tell you very much. Arguing, as strangelet does above, that the con elites merely pretend to be closed-minded in order to please the base, is a flexible and also not very revelatory charge – as if lib elites don’t do the same thing? As if anyone in daily life doesn’t withhold thoughts or feelings for the sake of not offending others, for whatever reasons, but in the end for reasons of self-interest?

    I don’t know if Sanchez has gone into detail about his reasons for using the specific term, but I think he wanted to put a post-structuralist spin on his critique of conservative “discourse,” while keeping it somewhat grounded empirically in a description of the familiar conservative media complex. When he deploys the word “episteme,” he summons Foucault to testify from the grave as follows:

    I would define the episteme retrospectively as the strategic apparatus which permits of separating out from among all the statements which are possible those that will be acceptable within, I won’t say a scientific theory, but a field of scientificity, and which it is possible to say are true or false. The episteme is the ‘apparatus’ which makes possible the separation, not of the true from the false, but of what may from what may not be characterised as scientific.

    The context was the discussion of the history of science, as a history of scientific discourses rather than a history of progressive discoveries, which Foucault in other works extended to other realms.

    Sanchez’s idea, apparently, was that conservatives more so than liberals – perhaps because driven into a “bunker” – are unable to process, even acknowledge the existence of certain kinds of evidence or argument. I would argue instead that to the extent anyone’s “discourse” can be characterized as ideological, it is “epistemically closed” (I was saying something like this just the other day without the “e” word). The Marxists were here first, at least with the terminology, though it goes without saying that to the beginning of time, all discourses are defined as much by what they exclude as by what they contain. This apparently goes for theories of mathematics and cybernetic systems, as well. It also happens to be a theme of “the Latest Freed Man,” a poem that gave great delight to a post-structuralist professor of mine back in the day.

    To bring us back to the present topic, Levin and his partner in epistemic crime Andy McCarthy almost fall over themselves demonstrating their ideological closure. It is clear from word one, or nearly, that they would remain uninterested in global warming per se even up to the moment that the atmosphere itself exploded in flame. They have already decided that they’d rather the world came to an end than see a virtual world government telling people like them where to set their thermostats or how fast to drive. They would fight that to the death, just as during the Cold War they would have been prepared to see the world’s great cities incinerated and the skies blackened with radioactive soot rather than give into SOVIET DOMINATION.

    When induced actually to discuss this matter about which they are virtually incapable of caring very much, they will pursue familiar modes of selective perception and attention. These can be isolated and criticized, and are rather obvious to anyone not predisposed to agree with them. Can anyone read Levin and doubt that, while searching through authorities, if he found 10 supporting the GW case, he’d keep on reading until he found an 11th whose doubts could be inflated until they seemed to outweigh and overwhelm the 10 contradictory positions?

    It may even be that #11 is more right than #s 1 to 10, but in a political context people who don’t begin with Levin’s biases and prejudices, and who are incapable of assessing the science for themselves, have to go on apparent credibility – perform their own discourse analysis by way of intuition. They may not be able to perform a Foucauldian or Derridean or Althusserian or wheoverian critique, but they can tell when someone ain’t listening and ain’t interested in listening. They can also often sense when someone else is selling them a bill of goods.

    Into a state of uncertainty and anger, someone like Manzi comes along with sophisticated but fairly easily understandable, and logical, set of ideas about how to proceed to a less than perfect, but democratically supportable, testable, and criticizeable project. Conservatives should support it not just to reach the best decision on GW, or for the sake of extracting maximum political advantage from Climategate, but for the sake of the entire policy process, the good of scientists, and the good of all political participants.

  98. There are some statements, that knowledge and or experience, prove that are beyond debate. I’m not going to ever accept that Fidel had the right idea, McCarthy is not going to accept that Militant Islam is a good move, and in light of the patent fraud of the IPCC (re the most recent browse) AGW is a sham. Now Mr. Sanchez wants to accept that as a premise, just as surely as he’ll support the ‘war on drugs’ sure when pigs fly. Why accept a lie as truth, maybe we go overboard in challenging a premise that is so ludicrous. First, the evidence isn’t there, and the measures to solve this non existent crisis. But the first is a priori

  99. @ CK MacLeod:

    and Manzi’s standard isn’t one of scientific purity: It’s one of treating oneself, the opponent, and observers with intellectual respect,

    Just for the record I tend to be in about Manzi’s camp on AGW; but, having read his initial gratuitously insulting post I can’t say he will in future have much of a platform to argue about treating others with intellectual respect. I figured he had a bad day or else he was purposely picking a fight in the manner of Frum Andrew Sullivan.

  100. @ Sully:
    I believe I addressed the question of Manzi’s tone – which I think probably should have been calibrated more carefully – something Manzi admits when he apologizes in his follow-up post. Otherwise, I think you’re being a little oversensitive on Levin’s behalf.

    Anyway, intellectual respect is different from politeness. Sometimes they come into conflict. Taking an imbecile’s ideas seriously may lead to embarrassing said imbecile.

  101. @ CK MacLeod:

    In the interest of keeping the epistemic aperture open as wide as possible, I think it’s important to point out the closure inherent in assertions of this kind:

    Levin and his partner in epistemic crime Andy McCarthy almost fall over themselves demonstrating their ideological closure. It is clear from word one, or nearly, that they would remain uninterested in global warming per se even up to the moment that the atmosphere itself exploded in flame. They have already decided that they’d rather the world came to an end than see a virtual world government telling people like them where to set their thermostats or how fast to drive. They would fight that to the death, just as during the Cold War they would have been prepared to see the world’s great cities incinerated and the skies blackened with radioactive soot rather than give into SOVIET DOMINATION.

    Certainly Levin and McCarthy have an a priori prejudice against a “virtual world government” with the powers you suggest. But their argument is actually that we don’t face the alternative of either accepting that government or going up in the smoke of an overwarmed atmosphere.

    It isn’t either a moderate or a “scientific” approach to denigrate people for not accepting that which is far from proven. Levin and McCarthy only look extreme if we accept the premise that our alternatives are world government or incineration. There is no empirical evidence that points to that; there are only limited sets of observations, brokered by fallible humans, and theories that are still in testing.

    There is also, of course, the unexamined assumption that whatever we conclude in 2010, even with the best will and methods, is absolutely valid and will remain so over time. Nothing in the history of human science should lead us rely on that assumption. We’ve been wrong about everything since we began keeping written records of our endeavors; we get to more right answers through iterations of failure and disproven theories.

    Levin and McCarthy are saying that we haven’t established anything about what our climate’s doing that should trump the national-level guarantee of liberties. What is the evidence that we have?

  102. @ Barbara:

    You know, I can’t shake the prejudice induced in me against Craig (who is, admittedly, a brooding hunk) by the following events:

    1. The fact that he was picked to be the new bond over Clive Owen, who as far as I’m concerned is way hunkier, and comes already programmed with the accent Ian Fleming endowed his Bond with.

    2. Craig’s disclosure, while Quantum of Solace was in filming, of his discomfort with firearms. It just seems so Johnny Depp of him. Haven’t been able to view him in the same light since. What can I say, I guess I’m epistemically vacuum-sealed on that one.

  103. But their argument is actually that we don’t face the alternative of either accepting that government or going up in the smoke of an overwarmed atmosphere.

    Levin and McCarthy are saying that we haven’t established anything about what our climate’s doing that should trump the national-level guarantee of liberties. What is the evidence that we have?

    And this is why it’s an epistemological, or perhaps borderline epistemological question. The questions are a) how do or can they know that to be true?; and b) how can the public, we, come to accept that truth?

    The first goes to what process for determining the truth they undertake and demonstrate. It can be criticized, and we are free to take or leave what they say, to consult other authorities or analysts of authorities, and form our own opinions.

    As for the second, if the manner of argumentation and presentation leaves an unbiased observer with as much or more reason to doubt that process as to trust it, or to prefer someone else’s process, then McCarthy or Levin’s “truth” is the proverbial tree falling in the forest, no one being inclined to listen. Blown up to the level of public policy, that suggests an authority-gathering and -testing process with error-checking.

    As Manzi points out in his “apology” post, we have such processes already in place. If they need to be improved, then improving or, in the extreme, replacing them – for the sake of a process that’s more resistant to self-interest and other forms of corruption – is something that non-experts on the underlying scientific questions can fruitfully pursue. Let Lindzen, Lomborg, Muller, and Joe all give their skeptical inputs, but there is no reason for Weitzman, Mann, Jones, or Barack Obama to trust the process if it begins with a pre-determined result, and if all participants aren’t somewhat assured that the “losers” will abide by the results, while retaining whatever agreed-upon future opportunities to amend.

    You, JED, like Joe and others here are GW skeptics. I think you could be fairly termed “denialists,” for the sake of discussion, once we remove any pejorative connotation from the term: You deny that GW is a problem. We can likewise define “alarmists” simply as people who are “alarmed” by what they have come to believe about GW. (Of course, the alarmists are also denialists in the sense that they deny the denialists, and the denialists tend to be alarmed about the alarmists, but we’ll avoid moving on to such arguments on the second order and beyond, mainly because we accept going in that everyone has a right to deny or set alarms in a free society, without being pre-judged for his or her denial or alarm.)

    McCarthy in one of his responses to Manzi presumes the denialist position when he says, essentially, “GW isn’t a big enough deal for me to be bothered about it when we have wars to fight, an economy to rescue, and political sanity to restore.” That’s what prompts Manzi to ask, “How do you know it’s not a big deal?” How can you or we know or come to accept that it’s not a big deal? That’s when this begins to become an epistemological or borderline epistemological question.

    In the public sphere, the denialists can’t be bothered, but the alarmists are super-bothered. A democratic system gives the alarmists a right to be heard without their claims being pre-judged. If they are successful in persuading enough people that the better course is to let them have their way, then they get their way.

    Similarly, if a national consensus is reached that we need an income tax, that women deserve the right to vote, that alcoholic spirits should neither be sold nor consumed, that Communism is evil and must be fought, that underwear should be worn on the outside, and that the word “gravity” should never be uttered on prime time TV for the sake of public safety, then that’s the way things are gonna go.

    And if the losers on the underwear-on-the-outside controversy come to believe that it was a rigged game and that they and their children and their children’s children will never have an opportunity to restore their briefs to where they belong, then the system becomes to that degree less credible and more vulnerable to eventual breakdown.

    And that’s why the political question isn’t and can’t be about GW per se, it’s about how we decide issues like “the GW issue,” including whether the GW issue deserves to be treated as an important issue, and whether that decision on the issue’s importance needs to be reviewed, ad more or less infinitum.

  104. Ck, Weitzman?? Mann, Oppenheimer, Schneider, et al, have been driving the process for 20 years, the possibility of AGW is an important issue, well lets debate it, lets see how they gather and even interpret their data, let’s not take it as a fait accompli.

  105. @ J.E. Dyer:
    I find you to be a Daniel Craig denialist.

    Daniel Craig is the best Bond. CASINO ROYALE (2006) is the best Bond film. QUANTUM is better than the vast majority of other Bond films.

    This is simply the truth, and that so many live in denial would sadden me if I wasn’t used to that kind of thing by now.

  106. @ narciso:

    the possibility of AGW is an important issue, well lets debate it,

    I don’t really care what someone like me – or you – thinks about GW. It’s like asking me to go to bat against major league pitching. I know only enough about science to get things comically wrong and to be misled, pretty much.

    I do know something about discourse, and I’ve learned a little bit about political science over the years, and, as an American I have as much right as anyone else, expert or doofus, to weigh in on whether the political process looks fair, and whether participants in the discussion are performing credibly.

  107. I agree with you on Casino Royale, but an hour in what is supposed to be Haiti, a face off in the Atacama desert, plus the plot right out of
    the Guardian, too much Bourne influence, Quantum is supposed to be
    the successor to SPECTRE, but it just doesn’t pass muster as the big rival

  108. I think it’s kind of a truism that we should be discussing the “AGW issue” in political debate. But unfortunately, the reality or unreality of AGW is inherent to the political issue. Proponents on each side are always going to bring up the assertions they consider believable as part of the argument.

    I notice that you speak of “GW,” and I don’t know if that’s deliberate or not. But “GW” is a different proposition from “AGW” in all the ways that matter. Without the “A,” there is not even a superficial basis for assuming any clarity on what is or ought to be “done about it.” If there’s no “A” in the proposition, then at the very least, there’s nothing for man to stop doing.

    I don’t agree with the characterization “denialist,” incidentally. Denial implies refusing to acknowledge something, or categorically proclaiming it to be untrue or invalid. “Skeptics” is a more accurate term. Five years ago, I was actually less skeptical of both GW and AGW than I am today. My skepticism has grown with my knowledge of the topic; but it could begin receding again if empirical evidence were to start pointing more incontrovertibly in the direction of GW or AGW.

    (Just to clarify, since this question is obvious: when I say “GW,” I refer to the theory that the earth is warming on a seminal and unprecedented one-way trend, as opposed to simply being in a cyclical warming trend of the kind documented in various research disciplines.)

  109. @ J.E. Dyer:
    I use GW to refer to the broad policy issue. In my view there are, in theory, a wide range of possible combinations of actual-GW, possible-GW, actual-AGW, possible-AGW, in varying proportions. We could conclude or learn, for example, that there had been no recent AGW to the 95% confidence level (the widely mischaracterized Phil Jones “retraction” was of this character), but that at radically higher concentrations of CO2, AGW could kick in with a vengeance. We could conclude or learn that we were in a cyclical natural warming trend, but that human intervention could counteract whatever damaging effects, or that at some point AGW could make it worse. We could conclude that there was no GW, or even that there was Global Cooling, but that AGW was not just possible, but desirable. There are endless possibilities.

    Certainly all participants in public discussion will sooner or later end up referring to authorities and their own logic – a fully qualified scientist refers to the “authority” of experimental results and the logic of analysis – but when citizen JED rises up to say that the Hockey Stick’s a joke, she’s always implicitly saying “authority A plus evidence B by way of logic train C has led me to conclude that HS is a joke.” The power of her assertion is that, a free citizen of evident intelligence, she has become a full-blown skeptic. The political question is how much weight to give to the voices of skeptical citizens in the process – on all sides.

    In the effort to add to that weight on our own side, assuming we have one, any of us is in a position to make, quoting Manzi’s original Levin post, “a fundamental argument that proceeds from evidence available for common inspection through a defined line of logic to a scientific view.” In the public dimension, quoting Manzi’s reply post, where he imagines a political leader attempting to make a responsible decision in the face of disagreement on facts, the parallel process is “gather together a group of the leading subject-matter experts to produce a review of known science, and subject it to review by a standing body of leading scientists who are not directly in the field in order to minimize both groupthink and opportunities for self-dealing.” He goes on briefly to describe the current process for achieving same.

    It was to the second suggestion that McCarthy responded, in essence, “Go away, kid, you bother me.” That won’t be acceptable to all of the evidently intelligent citizens who have come out on the other side from you.

  110. @ J.E. Dyer:
    Clive Owen is hunkier, but I think I like Daniel Craig as Bond better.

    Quantum of Solace sucked, mainly because Bond was too brooding- trademark humor gone with the Atacama winds. And Narciso, I love ya, dude, but what part of “The whole effing thing is unrealistic” do you not get?

    Never Say Never Again was the best Bond film. “Actually, there was this girl in Philadelphia” is one of my favorite lines.

  111. It was too pedestrian a scheme, compared to Zorin’s psychotic earth quake plot, Stromberg’s sub launching super tanker, Drax’s space station, I know Die another DAy, went too far, but there has to be
    a happy medium.

    Back on thread, epistemic closure, has hit the Times, with all the usual
    suspects, and of course, none of the context, well played Jim

  112. narciso wrote:

    It was too pedestrian a scheme, compared to Zorin’s psychotic earth quake plot, Stromberg’s sub launching super tanker, Drax’s space station, I know Die another DAy, went too far, but there has to be
    a happy medium.

    I sit doubly shocked, shocked (or would that be quadruply shocked?), first that a film with Olga Kurylenko would get dissed at ZC, second that y’all ain’t positively responding to the fact that the evil bad guy was an eco-fraud! And pre-Climategate! Obviously I found the brutal violence and the utterly absurd parachute escape, and inferno art climax more diverting, but y’all are being hard cases. Now I’ve got to do some work so play nice while I’m gone, and never say NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN again.

  113. All right I’ll give Olga and throw in Gemma Arterton, before she was covered in oil, but it’s just grand guignol enough I’m sorry

  114. My best Jack Benny, “Well!”

    Excuse me, but I *I* was the one who posted Olga’s pic on this blog.

    Let’s bottom-line this sucker: no one cares about the plot. Everyone cares about thinking about being laid by Danny or Olga. And I can’t get into the mood with some sullen guy who makes up drinks so that he can name them after his dead girlfriend.

    Reminds me of the time I dated that Lesbian who couldn’t forget Annie, his previous girlfriend. He kept wanting me to see Annie Hall with him. I passed.

  115. Since this topic has reached the Times, and now has gone beyond absurd, I think the House and Senate Republicans need a little epistemic closure, if just to realize why they should oppose such a bad bill.

    I really like Casino Royale, even though they run it a little too often lately, the obstacle course on the construction yard in Motaba, the
    chase at the airport, the card game itself loses steam, and the torture scene was innovative enough that a recent Gitmo detainee took it for his own narrative

  116. In search of a cynosure,
    Toward eschatonic closure,
    You find epistemes are closed for,
    You can’t immanentize,
    And attain worldly ayes,
    Which shouldn’t surprise,
    For that’s the ruling guys,
    From the big kahuna’s assize.

  117. @ Sully:

    Well done!

    In the next to last line, I suggest altering “rule” to “ruling.” It scans better and strengthens the metaphor at “assize.”

  118. 1. Re: Pew Numbers

    Might take more like a major astronomical collision rather than a mere tectonic shift to change those numbers radically.

    The numbers of Self-Identified Republicans vis a vis Democrats has changed dramatically since the Pew Poll. Gallup Data is summarized here http://is.gd/bUxrO Its not clear why you’re challenging data that is fairly common knowledge at this juncture.
    The Conservative/Mod/Lib data remains constant and the Scientist data is addressed below.

    2. Re: Jeff Id, Watts & McIntyre: Looks like one of your other posters at #68 got it right. I would add the following observation, that I have yet to see a Climate Skeptic self-identify as a Liberal. Whether conservative or not, they help illustrate the broader point that the issue of “epistemic closure” might be better hurled at the left as opposed to the right…which is a nice segue to Dr. Curry.

    3. Dr. Curry:
    You state:

    As for Dr Curry, her statement at your link begins with the following sentence: “First, I’m not sure why we are talking about ’sides’ (that tribalism thing); we should be talking about science and how to improve the integrity of science.” And yet somehow you turn that around into a support for one “side” over the other.

    Dr. Curry’s Posts from Mid April are found here: http://is.gd/bUysX and here: http://is.gd/bzKBV
    I think you got this one all wrong. As I related before, Dr. Curry states: “I am no longer substituting the IPCC’s judgment for my own judgment on this matter. So if the readers here assess that this constitutes going over to the ‘dark side’ then so be it; my conclusion will be that the minds seem to be more open on the ‘dark side’.”
    ~This comment explicitly acknowledges that a form of tribalism exists for better or for worse. If she seems contradictory on the issue, its because she IS contradictory on the issue, but there can be no debate as to her conclusions.
    ~This comment supports my not so clearly stated thesis that “epistemic closure” occurs on the left as opposed to the right. (We can debate whether the AGW crowd is left/middle some other time.)
    ~In her first post supra she accuses the left/IPCC of Corruption…a pretty serious charge in academia. She continues:

    we have seen evidence of IPCC lead authors pushing their own research results and writing papers to support an established narrative.

    ~Is this not a living breathing example of epistemic closure, at least as she sees it, as it applies to the left. Whereas all we have to support the proposition on the right are broad statements with no supporting facts. I’m sure there are some epistemically closed conservatives…is it a core issue requiring immediate action? I haven’t seen evidence to suggest dramatic action.
    ~In closing, the Curry Posts have two conclusions: 1. The left is closed and sticks to an established narrative and 2. The Right is more open minded. Again we can debate whether Alarmist v Skeptic breaks down perfectly Left/Right on anther day. I propose to you as a general rule, that appears to be the case, and that the open minds are here on the right.

    4. Scientists and Intellectuals:
    You state:

    scientists and intellectuals seem generally to feel more comfortable on the left – by large margins.

    And your data for that is what exactly?

    ~Pew Poll Problems
    A. As previously observed, the Pew poll is from the height of Obamamania. After HCR I think I’d like to take a look at that Scientist data again given that 50% of the sample came from the Bio-Medical field. http://is.gd/bUBmk
    B. The sample comes entirely from the AAAS whose membership breaks down like this: http://is.gd/bUBXt
    # Professional Membership
    # Postdoc Membership
    # Student Membership
    # Emeritus Membership
    # K12 Teacher Membership
    # K12 Teacher with Science Books
    So how exactly are Students and K12 Teachers “Scientists”???? There is a serious methodology question here.
    C. The AAAS Events Policy list is a treasure trove of Human Rights Activism. http://is.gd/bUC6J It’s easy to see why a conservative scientist might want to affiliate him/her self with an organization that is more scientific and less political. Thus, I’m not sure our polling sample isn’t populated exclusively by Liberals to begin with!
    D. Had Pew polled “scientists” in business and in academia in Red States and in Blue States I’d bet you would have vastly different numbers. Take the faculty at U Texas and U California and tell me that they poll as mirror images as the Pew poll suggests. I hypothesize that scientists in corporate America and Entrepreneurs and in academic red states…would lean Conservative and Independent/Republican. We’ll never know because the Pew poll is as skewed as skewed gets. Garbage in, Garbage out.

    ~Murray Graph Problems http://is.gd/bUCfx
    A. First it only deals with white non-Latinos. So I’m not sure that this graph has any validity at all to a broader discussion of America.
    B. The nomenclature of the Graph is completely distorted, here are the definitions:
    Traditional Upper: Someone at the 95th percentile of income, with a graduate degree, who is a business executive, physician, engineer, etc.
    Intellectual Upper: Also at the 95th percentile of income and with a graduate degree, but a lawyer, academic, scientist (hard or soft) outside academia, writer, in the news media, or a creator of entertainment programming (film and television).
    Traditional Middle: Same occupations as the Traditional Uppers, but with just a bachelor’s degree and at the 75th percentile of income.

    This is a simple vendiagram exercise…Scientists and Intellectuals can be found in large numbers in each of these 3 categories, 2 of which trend conservative .

    We could quibble as to whether scientists can be found in Traditional Middle, and if a Bachelor’s Degree precludes a “scientist” designation (which appears not to be the case in the Pew poll) the statistics do not support the conclusion that ALL scientists and ALL intellectuals are liberal or trend liberal…the graph doesn’t show any such thing, absent the the polling sample data, we can’t make any conclusions other than … many intellectuals and scientists are trending conservative and many are trending liberal…anything beyond that is poppycock.

    In conclusion, you’re going to need much better data to support your statement. In fact it’s so dismissive of the possibility of Conservative intellectuals and scientists existing that I wonder if a sub form of “epistemic closure” is at work here. This is where I disagree with Sanchez and apparently with your good self. You are buying into the liberal narrative.
    Conservative = knuckle dragging pea brained Neanderthal.
    Liberal = Bright as a copper penny.
    No you didn’t say it, you didn’t have to. It’s the ethos. As if to say Danger Danger Will Robinson….we’ve lost all the smart people!
    Why not be open to the possibility that there are thousands, perhaps even millions, of scientific and/or intellectual and open minded conservatives?? Where do you get off coming to a contrary conclusion, its simply not supported by any of the data you’ve provided.
    The entire AGW debate suggests to me epistemic closure on the left NOT on the right. My premise is reinforced by the change in support for Climate Change pre-Climategate, and post-Climategate. Pre-Climategate many Conservatives supported the theory of AGW and the probability of attendant catastrophic ecologic disasters. Post-Climategate: The numbers have shifted such that the only people who appear to support the AGW theory are Liberals. That transition has occurred in the USA, Germany and the UK.
    As you suggest, the pendulum could easily shift back. Certainly I can see no harm in being MORE informed, who could argue against that? It’s a straw man argument. I simply take issue with the premise that conservatives intentionally and reflexively deride science and intellectuals. Its surreal that you would suggest it.

    5. The Panacea
    You rely on the following post as a road map for conservatives in responding to new challenges in the 21st century.:

    We can be confident that humanity will face many difficulties in the upcoming century, as it has in every century. We just don’t know which ones they will be. This implies that the correct grand strategy for meeting them is to maximize total technical capabilities in the context of a market-oriented economy that can integrate highly unstructured information, and, most importantly, to maintain a democratic political culture that can face facts and respond to threats as they develop.

    ~My first problem with this proposition is that assumes conservatives don’t act in this manner currently.
    ~My second problem is that the paragraph is a bunch of gobbledygook.
    ~ What is the average Conservative to take away from this?
    That we need to maximize our technical capabilities?…Ok Check…I think we’re on solid ground there…not really a lib/conservative issue.
    In the context of a market oriented economy…Ok Check…most conservatives like market oriented economies as far as I can tell.
    That can integrate unstructured information…Ok Check …this is where we start veering off into gobbledygook…
    If this comment had actual tangible meaning that was useful to the average conservative, which I doubt, I do not see its absence as a critical failure in the conservative movement. What about structured information? What about a hybrid of Structured and Unstructured information?
    Maintain a democratic political culture that can face facts and react. Ok Check….9/11, Nuclear power, strong defense, Charter Schools, Free Enterprise Zones, seems like conservatives own this issue. What exactly is the problem? Seems to me that Liberals are stuck in the closed feedback loop, not Conservatives…cite specifics, not generalities.

    Nothing has changed since 1972…The Kael Syndrome is alive and well with Liberals. Trapped in the bubble. You can see it in Obama’s gross reference today to “TeaBaggers”. Only a person so far removed from his citizens, so closed off to everyday Americans, could possibly refer to his own fellow citizens in such a gross and unprofessional manner. Any disagreement with Obama has now reflexively become a “Racist” issue; you can’t deny it, you’d have to be obtuse not to see the inflexible closed Liberal response to any criticism of Obama. Reid’s comments on the negro dialect are also educational on this point. So out of touch, so trapped in the Liberal bubble. Even Pelosi’s comment on the Constitutionality of HCR falls into this liberal information bubble. “Are you kidding Me?” The intellectual arrogance, the reflexive racist accusations, the blatant hypocrisy, the “My Party Right or Wrong” attitude…The liberals are digging in, they are closed off to the real world, they have spent 1.5 years keeping Republicans and Republican solutions out of the legislative narrative. You make your point in a scientific context, I am responding in kind and in a broader perspective.
    My point is that Mr. Sanchez’ and your concern for the conservative movement is rather misplaced and it seems as if the shoe of epistemic closure fits better on the liberal foot.

    6. Assault on Conservatives
    You state:

    Is it too much to wonder whether continual and habitual assaults on the honesty, intentions, patriotism, and professionalism of scientists and intellectuals, a reflexive readiness to dispute the validity and usefulness of scientific and intellectual inquiry, in short the open adoption of anti-scientific and anti-intellectual attitudes and practices by some conservatives may also have played a role in such dramatic and long-standing trends?

    I’m sorry, I don’t look at the tens of millions of US Conservatives as continually assaulting the honesty, intentions, patriotism, and professionalism of scientists and intellectuals. You might characterize Rush, Hannity and/or Levin in this light, but I don’t even see that as justification for such an assault on conservatives…where is this animosity coming from. Conservatives are far from a monolith so to the extent a few may behave as described, where is the proof that the group as a whole can be so described? (I will concede that things like the Creation Museum might be “un-scientific” but it’s not at all clear that evangelicals are still conservative.)

    You correctly identify other factors that demonstrate why intellectuals MIGHT be trending liberal. I would certainly argue that the Trial Lawyers have sufficient motive to trend liberal. I’m not at all sure that alleged conservative anti-intellectualism has anything to do with it. Ultimately, your statement is far too broad and is not supported by objective data.

    7. AGW
    You State

    Conservative efforts to alter this situation – American society with its head twisted ever further around at its neck – might begin with the understanding that belief or disbelief in the greenhouse effect, global warming, and other properly scientific matters cannot be a political issue in a free society: Only how we go about addressing scientific questions can ever be.

    I don’t agree that scientific matters have become political to conservatives…rather I see that scientific matters have become political for liberals…i.e. climategate and AGW. You and I are looking at the same data, and you refuse to see the disease where it is most manifest and wish to suggest solutions for problems that are non-existent.

    I’m not going to get into AGW here other than to say the following:
    ~There isn’t enough data to make any conclusions.
    ~Climate modeling has completely failed to predict climate.
    ~There is no consensus and people who advocate the notion that consensus can be reached or should be reached are in fact dangerous to the scientific method.
    The Meteor Crater Controversy, Darwinism and the formation of Yosemite Valley Muir v Whitney….are good examples of “consensus” gone wrong.
    I think we all agree that properly scientific matters cannot be political, hence the reason that the politicization of AGW should be properly challenged by conservatives at the political level and by scientists who disagree whether conservative, liberal or otherwise.

    8. By the Numbers
    You conclude by saying we need polemicists, I agree. You go out of your way to make the point that conservatives need to stop being anti-science and anti-intelectual as if that’s an actual problem on the right, and that’s where there’s room for strong disagreement. As an Intellectual Upper, I don’t see it.

    Lets assume for a moment that you are correct….does it really matter?
    According to various census data from 2000 – 2008 we have about 760,000 active lawyers in America graduating 38,000 consistently year in and year out. So lets say that the graduation rate of professionals reflects 1/20th of the active members of a given profession. If true, there are 520,000 physicians, 760,000 Lawyers, 880,000 PhD’s and 10,000,000 Masters. Effectively, the Scientist/Intellectual Upper category probably comprises somewhere between 5 – 8 million Americans. If every other demographic in America is trending Conservative…why the need to do Intellectual cartwheels and mollycoddle the effete liberals? To what purpose? Why can’t conservatives just be conservatives? Do you really believe that in the current political climate that intellectual Uppers can be moved?? Are they already being moved??? Is their ideological bent financially driven or is it a response to the plebeian masses?
    The more interesting statistic would be an analysis of environmentalists and inner city Americans. If conservatives applied themselves to better environmental policy and better inner city policy and made a real tangible difference in the lives of environmentalists and in the lives of the inner city Americans and communicated those policies and their effects clearly, they would make far more inroads electorally and in so doing would drag the the intellectuals towards the middle by sheer force of gravity.

    If we’re driving away Intellectuals, who cares? If conservative policies are good for America, intellectuals will come back to the fold. If not, then conservatives pay the price at the polls.
    There is plenty of common ground in agreeing that conservatives need to stay current on the science and that we need to be better informed than our opponents. We already are, its just a maintenance issue, a process of continued excellence.

    • @ After Seven:
      1. Pew Numbers:

      No reason simply to assume that closing the overall generic ballot gap in the broad population will have greatly affected the numbers among scientists – even if you don’t rely on the excuses commonly offered previously that scientists are overly influenced by a combination of groupthink and self-interest.

      We’ll just have to wait and see whether conservative self-identification among scientists has greatly increased. Maybe it’s even doubled! To… 16%… (From minuscule to merely desperately small…)

      2. Left more “closed” than the right – could well be. I acknowledged as much from the top. Why should that be an excuse for the anti-intellectualism and extreme closed-mindedness exhibited by Levin and other popular hard right conservatives? If the perception that conservatives are closed-minded on some topics is false, though somewhat prevalent, then one way, among others, to dispense with it is to subject closed-minded offerings to criticism.

      Conservatives want to think of themselves as more open-minded and non-ideological in their thinking and beliefs than liberals. That sets a higher burden before them. Merely acting on a blinkered assumption of open-mindedness isn’t enough.

      3. You continue to want to recruit Dr. Curry to the right. Until Dr. Curry herself has made the avowals and confessions, you do her a service, or perhaps a disservice, but the conclusion remains premature. You have no idea whether, say, Dr. Curry voted for Barack Obama and would do so again. That she criticizes and may have broken with a nominally non-partisan outfit that you associate with the left is not a greatly significant political fact, unless you believe that there are not and cannot be intellectually, morally, and financially corrupt institutions and individuals of the right.

      Unfortunately, in the trenches, including this trench, I see plentiful evidence of closed minds on the right – especially those individuals who persist in the entirely un-conservative framing of a scientific question so that one set of answers must qualify as conservative, the others as liberal. That’s a position worthy of Joseph Stalin, not William F Buckley.

      4. You again speculate that an external event – now passage of HCR – might greatly alter the Pew Poll results. For all we know, HCR may have driven a large section of merely rather liberal scientists into the hard liberal or ultra- liberal camps. We just don’t know and can’t know until we do know.

      The breakdown of the AAAS membership is irrelevant to the Pew Poll, which was designed to asses political affinities of scientists, not AAAS’ broad membership. Specifically:

      Results for the scientist survey are based on 2,533 online interviews conducted from May 1 to June 14, 2009 with members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. A sample of 9,998 members was drawn from the AAAS membership list excluding those who were not based in the United States or whose membership type identified them as primary or secondary-level educators.

      I don’t see why you would want to exclude student members of the AAAS, on the other hand, in whatever numbers they made up the sample, in an effort to assess attitudes among scientists. They are presumably grad students, possibly including some undergraduates in the sciences, not kindergartners.

      Your C argument runs up its own posterior: That AAAS does liberal things offers anecdotal evidence for the proposition that AAAS is as liberal as the poll indicates. You wouldn’t expect an 8% conservative organization to be purchasing state rooms on the National Review cruise.

      Your D argument is more self-serving speculation. You’re asking me to take your “hypotheses” about what a theoretically better poll might show against the bona fides of Pew Research. In other words, on this topic as well as others, when a respected organization produces data you don’t like, they’re “garbage.” Their data and methodology are open for all to see and to make of what anyone will. Their results happen to conform to anecdotal evidence and to other polling regarding the state of political opinion and affinities in the scientific community. Your speculation, on the other hand, merely conforms to your wishful thinking. Excuse me, but I’ll take Pew over “After Seven” for now, without assuming that Pew is the end of the discussion or immune from criticism.

      As for Murray’s graph, it illustrates a certain peculiar trend that Mr. Murray, among others, found impressive. No one attached the one-sidedness to the results that you do. Not only am I “open to the possibility that there are thousands, perhaps even millions… of open-minded conservatives,” I presume as much, and use Manzi as an example of the species. The Murray graph appears to reflect a trend, it doesn’t portray a monolith.

      As for whether conservatives “intentionally and reflexively deride science and intellectuals,” am I to assume that you do not consider Mark Levin a conservative? Going back for a very long time, many conservatives have been complained about scientism. In the wake of the (A)GW debates, the claim that science has been corrupted has become common, and is thrown around in such a way that, if I were a scientist, I might well find offensive. The misuse and abuse of scientific proceedings occurs on both sides.

      5. You claim that conservatives all follow the part of the Manzi suggestion that you find intelligible, and then you proceed to contradict it in your further explication, importing every manner of “I hate liberals” into what is a narrow discussion: Should conservatives, on the question of GW, be advocating for one “side” of the scientific question, or should they be advocating a conservative approach to the scientific question in its political dimensions?

      6. The statement of mine that you quote describes “some” conservatives. You go on to concede that three of the most popular conservatives in the country (supported, incidentally, by legions of ditto-ing followers) might justify my description, and yet choose to take offense on behalf of others unnamed.

      The reason that I offer no proof of some monolithic conservative anti-scientific closed-mindedness is that I made no claim of a monolithic conservative anti-scientific closed-mindedness.

      Seeking offense by exaggerating the statements of others is, however, a good example of one mechanism that often supports “epistemic closure” on the part of some conservatives (as well as some liberals).

      7. The main point as to the politicization of science is discussed above. Some scientific matters have clearly become political to some conservatives. Just check this comment thread or, even better, the comment thread over at HotAir, for clear evidence that some conservatives are appalled even at the suggestion that GW-related issues should be assessed without pre-judgment.

      8. We have no way of determining objectively what the divergence of the Murray stratum from the rest of the population means. Maybe the other trend lines would be even more pronounced in conservatives’ favor if the Intellectual Uppers weren’t fighting against them. Maybe the other trend lines help drive the Intellectual Uppers further away. There are lots of possibilities.

      Even if there was no important political or practical problem or risk involved – I think there might be, as outlined in the top post – I take it as a given that it would be better for the intellectuals themselves (and their students and acolytes) as well as for larger society if they were more open to conservative ideas and insights, if they were exploring and extending conservative approaches in culture, politics, administration, and so on, if they were contributing financially and personally to conservative causes or at worst relatively neutral. We might have a richer and more dynamic culture – a good in itself – and better science and intellectual work, too.

      Maybe, for example, the elite media (intellectual uppers par excellence), if less skewed ideologically, would do a better job of exposing supposedly moderate and open-minded presidential candidates for the ideological leftist they are, rather than participating in a sham, thus better enabling a right-trending populace to make a properly informed decision.

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Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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