Summary: This week many on the Left served a banquet of snark on Nate Silver and his new 538 website for the sin of posting an article by Roger Pielke Jr (Prof Environmental Studies, U CO-Boulder). An article well-supported in the climate studies literature, and consistent with the work of the IPCC (they conceal these things from their followers; least they ruin the narrative). These posts demonstrate the ineffectual tactics that have drained away the Left’s support during the past 3 decades, and after 25 years of work produced no gains in their highest-profile public policy initiative. See other posts in this series, listed below.
“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”
— The basic text of Narcotics Anonymous). People who know all about personal dysfunctionality.
- The two minute hate
- The road not taken: another response to Pielke
- A larger perspective
- For More Information
(1) The two minute hate
The Left runs a Two Minute Hate on Nate Silver, his 538 website, Roger Pielke Jr (Prof Environmental Studies, U CO-Boulder) resulting from their publication of “Disasters Cost More Than Ever — But Not Because of Climate Change”. And me, based on Nate Silver goes from hero to goat, convicted by the Left of apostasy. Read the following, and feel the hatred flow.
- “Thursday Idiocy: Fabius Micromus” posted at Loyal to the Group of Seventeen, 27 March 2014. I posted a brief analysis in the comments. Quite interesting, in a silly way. He posts the comment thread with DeLong. He considers it “idiocy”, but doesn’t say why.
- Brad DeLong (Prof Economics, Berkeley) applauds. Again, he doesn’t explain. True believers don’t ask questions during the Two Minute Hate.
- “The Launch of fivethirtyeight.com and Climate Change Disaster Weblogging: (Trying to Be) The Honest Broker for the Week of March 29, 2014“. By “honest broker” he means misrepresenting what I said, and substituting his judgement for the peer-reviewed literature about this issue. Plus lots of smears.
These are mostly silly in style and content, but rich in insights about the Left. Here are a few thoughts; post your thoughts in the comments.
(a) They show how the politics of climate change has become a cacophony, both poisonous and ineffectual. Smears, more rhetoric than reason. Clickbait for believers, firing up opponents, ignored by those in between. Which is fine for the Right, who wants nothing done, but defeat for the Left.
(b) The Left now often ignores the relevant peer-reviewed literature and work of the IPCC, substituting big talk from amateurs and quotes from activist climate scientists (usually from the same small pool). When confronted with it, as in my post, they respond with smears.
(c) This is the opposite of grass-roots organizing. Two minutes hate sessions build internal cohesion, but tend to repel outsiders. And they make enemies. It’s the opposite of John Boyd’s first rule of strategy: gather and empower allies.
(d) Most importantly, the Left has responded to their inability to gain public support for their climate-related public policy proposals by intensifying these tactics. Their failure to achieve any significant climate-related public policy measures, and the loss of public support, has caused them to continue the same tactics — but louder.
The obvious reason: catastrophic anthropogenic climate change has become central to their ideology. It’s the defining doctrine of the Left today, with no dissent allowed. It’s political failure might cost them dearly. And it is failing:
- What does the American public want done to fight climate change?
- This is what defeat looks like for the Left, and perhaps also for environmentalists
(2) The road not taken: an alternative response to Pielke’s article
Pielke’s article at 538 summarizes his peer-reviewed research, which has been largely confirmed by other peer-reviewed research, and conforms to the conclusions of the IPCC. (for citations and links see section 7 of my post about the article).
If DeLong and the other critics disagreed with his analysis, they could cite contrary research. But doing so would not justify calling Pielke’s work “idiocy”. Conflicting research would show only that this issue was outside the current consensus of climate science. Either way, the invective is unjustified.
We see here is an example of the Left’s tactics in the public climate science debates (unlike the climate science literature): during the last decade they have chosen to use smears, pressure tactics, and rhetoric — rather than contest the specific claims. “Denier of global warming” is their standard reply, even to people questioning the magnitude of forecasts of future warming, and even more technical issues.
They’ve taken the easy road. I suspect they’ll look back and see the road not taken was the better road. As Robert Frost said
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both …
(3) A larger perspective
It’s sad to see how the Left has decayed in America, so that they prefer snark and smears to rational debate. This mirrors a similar decay on the Right (Bill Buckley spins in his grave, if he gets reception there of Fox). Both sides clearly see this flaw in their opponents, and laugh. But the Right appears to have the last laugh, as they’re winning.
“Jeebus — that Idiotus Maximus guy makes Glenn Beck seem cogent.”
— An observation by The Idler based on a brief thread with DeLong, a comment posted at Brad DeLong’s website. No explanation or evidence given.
DeLong heavily moderates comments, often screening out rebuttal evidence but welcoming supportive snark like The Idler’s. Tellingly, my rebuttals to his posts were not posted. Also note the irony: idler’s comment is Glenn Beck’s style of debate.
C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters puts a more charitable spin on this kind of tribalism (ignore the gender bias as an echo from an earlier age; this is a trait of people):
It is an unobtrusive little vice which she shares with nearly all women who have grown up in an intelligent circle united by a clearly defined belief; and it consists in a quite untroubled assumption that the outsiders who do not share this belief are really too stupid and ridiculous.
(4) For More Information
(a) Berkeley Professor Brad DeLong demonstrates how the Left has lost political influence in America:
- Deep analysis of public affairs: his “stupidest man alive” series
- A profound application of the First Amendment to current affairs: his “shut down the Washington Post” series
(b) Climate activists let the hate flow, fantasizing about punishing their opponents (instead of debating them):
- “Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent?“, Lawrence Torcello (Asst Prof Philosophy, Rochester Inst of Tech), The Conversation, 13 March 2014
- “Arrest Climate-Change Deniers“, Adam Weinstein (journalist), Gawker, 29 March 2014
(c) Other posts in this series
- Nate Silver goes from hero to goat, convicted by the Left of apostasy, 25 March 2014
- America swings to the Right. The Left loses. How has the Left dug itself into this hole?, 28 March 2014
(d) Posts about polls showing the fruits of the Left’s tactics:
- Look in the polls, as in a mirror, to see America drift to the Right, 31 January 2014
- What does the American public want done to fight climate change?, 2 February 2014
- This is what defeat looks like for the Left, and perhaps also for environmentalists, 17 March 2014
(e) Examples of the Left’s exaggerations and misinformation about climate change:
- Hurricane Sandy asks when did weather become exceptional? (plus important info about US hurricanes), 28 October 2012
- Mother Jones sounds the alarm about global warming! This time about the north pole., 10 December 2012
- Kevin Drum talks about global warming, illustrating the collapse of the Left’s credibility, 17 December 2012
- Lessons the Left can learn from the Right when writing about climate change, 12 December 2012 — More from Phil Plait
- Fierce words about those “wacky professional climate change deniers”, 20 January 2013
- A powerful story about global warming in Alaska that has set Twitter aflame, 23 June 2013
- The North Pole is now a lake! Are you afraid yet?, 3 August 2013
- Climate science deniers on the Left, captured for viewing, 29 September 2013
- Apocalyptic thinking on the Left about climate change risks burning their credibility, 4 February 2014
- “Climate change is slowly but steadily cooking the world’s oceans”, 5 February 2014
- Why the Left is losing: another example of incompetent marketing, 26 February 2014
- The Left sees “Climate buffoons” and “deniers”. What do they see in the mirror?, 7 March 2014