Bipartisan stupidity FTW!

By Phil Plait | November 18, 2007 5:41 pm

OK, I get people complaining that when I point out how dumb government officials are when it comes to science, I only pick on Republicans. Now, that has nothing at all to do with the systematic neocon attacks on stem cell research, global warming, evolution, sex education, the CDC, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the FDA… OK, you get it.

But hey, Democrats can be dumb, too! Well, at least one Democrat.

Please welcome Jim Gooch, a Democrat representing Providence, Kentucky in the state legislature. Gooch has plenty of ties to the coal industry, which of course means he is completely unbiased when it comes to issues of global warming. Sigh. He held a press conference where he had "experts" denying global warming exists.

Get a load — and I do mean load — of the experts:

Lord Christopher Monckton, the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, is a British journalist and onetime adviser to then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Monckton generated controversy during the 1980s with his recommendation — which he repeated for lawmakers yesterday — that people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS be locked up for life.

Um, yeah. OK. The other guy, a lawyer named James Taylor, contributed this:

Similarly, Taylor said most scientists don’t believe in global warming. Not that warming is bad, he said. Hotter weather means more vegetation and crops and more diversity of wildlife, as in the tropical rain forests, he said. He distributed a report that urged Americans to burn more coal, oil and natural gas so “our children will therefore enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life than that with which we now are blessed.”

Wow, the first sentence is a lie, and the rest is horrifying. These are the best Gooch could do?

Well, he certainly couldn’t ask any, y’know, scientists to come (even though "most don’t believe in global warming"). After all, where would he find any?

“Well, I mean, where are we going to get scientists?” Gooch asked. “We’re limited here in Kentucky to what we can do. I don’t know how we’d necessarily get scientists to come here.”

Wow, don’t you want him representing you? Incidentally, the University of Kentucky is located a few miles east of where the press conference was held. I bet they have scientists there! If so many believe GW isn’t real, you’d think they’d be easy to find.

Evidently Gooch did ask some people to provide evidence for GW: two folks, hastily assembled at the last minute, given five minutes each to make their case during a two hour press conference.

Did I mention that Gooch is the Chairman for Kentucky’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee? No?

So, all in all, excellent work Mr. Gooch! I expect you’ll be given an appointment by President Bush to be head of the EPA any day now.

Tip o’ the propeller beanie to Fark.

Comments (61)

  1. Scott

    Just goes to show that catastrophic stupidity is not monopolized by any single group. Or even two.

    It sounds like this guy needs to switch parties. He’d be more at home among the GOP.

  2. The only two valid reasons a person in government would speak out on global warming as if it were some sort of vast scientific conspiracy are:

    1. They are just too dumb to understand how serious it is.

    2. They are actually aliens.

    So, how many aliens do we have in government?

  3. Pleco

    Wow, reading this makes me think it is a paradoy!

  4. chris

    that second paragraph in qoutations is just beyond terrifying

  5. Stephen

    So what Taylor’s saying is that global warming isn’t happening, and anyway it needs to happen faster… Huh?

  6. Michelle

    …Wow. That Monckton dude is one heck of a retard. I mean, locking up HIV folks? And what about human rights?

  7. Halcyon Dayz

    It just to be fun to make fun of politicians.

    This isn’t funny.

  8. OK, I get people complaining that when I point out how dumb government officials are when it comes to science, I only pick on Republicans.

    I think the main reason people want you to point out Democrat’s flaws on science is because they are Republicans and want to blunt criticism of Republicans by promoting the idea that both parties are equally bad – and if they’re equally bad, then we can’t use ‘science illiteracy’ to influence our vote for either party. This allows them to turn the issue from a Republican flaw into a stalemate.

    I would very much like politicians to think that promoting stupid science will harm them – the only way they’re going to get educated is if it’s harming their votes. That’s part of the reason I don’t like the “they’re equally bad” crowd – because they end up dulling the bad-science = losing-votes mechanism.

  9. AGW Skeptic

    Phil,

    Even the founder of The Weather Channel, John Coleman, stated that AGW is bunk.

    Why don’t you go over to CSU and talk to Dr. William Gray about global warming? He’ll set you straight.

    Stick to astronomy, because you make a bad meteorologist.

  10. AGW Denier, it sounds like Mr. Coleman will need to take it up with Mr. Taylor. Taylor is saying that human consumption of fossil fuels will accelerate the rate at which things get warmer, and therefore better.

    But, hey, if John Coleman says it ain’t so, I guess all the scientists who say they have data that shows it is should just STFD and STFU.

  11. Just Al

    Wow, the founder of the Weather Channel?! No shi– uhh, no fooling? Well, then, I guess that settles THAT! I sure couldn’t pick an ultimate authority better than some cable executive!

    Hey, lookit this, everyone! This fact is THE fact! All the others can go home now!

    Phil, your commenters are just hilarious sometimes.

  12. That just goes to show you. Stupidity may be in no short supply on Capitol Hill, but the Internet is its true home.

  13. Geophysicist

    Phil, I admire this site for its accessible breakdown of bad misrepresentations by quality facts and science.

    While I sift through the 2500 pages of the IPCC AR4 and the many other papers that did not make it in, trying to come to my own conlcusions about AGW based on facts and evidence (You remember, science).

    All I needed to make up my mind was in fact to come to your blog and read a couple of ad hominem attacks on a couple of the theory’s detractors. Well done, quality argument.

    So one of them is a British lord with a funny name who made a bad decision on another quite irrelevant matter. If you wish to discredit these men, please do so on the merit of their arguments and the evidence supporting yours, not on their morality or commercial affiliations.

    You do yourself a significant disservice as an advocate of science by resorting to such a weak argumentative style.

  14. Quiet Desperation

    >”Wow, the founder of the Weather Channel?!”

    Hey, the Weather Channel rocks!

    >”I sure couldn’t pick an ultimate authority better than some cable executive!”

    Uh, he was a meteorologist…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Coleman_%28meteorologist%29

    Not that it makes him a GW expert, but if you must deride other commentors, please to be accurate, yes?

    And, hey, he has an IMDB entry!

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0171087/

  15. Geophysicist

    Weather channel, Meteorologist, coal eating corporate oil junkie. Can we please stop with the name calling?

    Science is about analysing evidence, not people. If Einstein was a hunchbacked Nazi eugenecist who believed in alien government conspiracy theories, would that detract in any way from his theory of relativity? No. Scientists are just messengers, the facts speak for themselves. If you must apply labels such as “Denier” or “coal industry stooge” or even “TV weather man” one has to wonder if it is because you lack the confidence to smash their arguments”

    This is a science blog, lets stick with science shall we?

  16. Geophysist…

    Attacking someone’s reputation is fine when its their reputation that’s in question. They were supposedly reputable sources. Obviously, they aren’t.

  17. Ad Hominid

    I went over to the GOP for a few years, since I didn’t like being associated with a bunch of Vietcong sympathizers and sanctimonious Kumbayists.

    I’m back with the Dems now, though, since I am even less impressed with folks who think that Noah and his family rode dinosaurs onto the ark. There are lots of those in the Republican Party, especially here in west Texas where I live.

    I’ll be we don’t have as many cranks as the Repubs, but this article shows that we can get loopier ones. Does quality trump quantity even in kookiness?

    The lawyer guy who thought GW was a good thing is especially amusing, right up there with Duane Gish and the Institute for Creation Research. If ANY member in good standing of the ICR is a Democrat, I will eat a trilobite.

  18. jmd

    The is indeed a science blog, but I think the key word here is “blog.”

  19. jmd

    And I did a poor cut-‘n’-paste job up there. Sorry!

  20. Quiet Desperation

    The problem is that our whole *culture* is anti-science. The politicians are just a mirror held up to it. Representative democracy, yes? People VOTED for these obvious idiots.

    Our media portrays scientists and other smart folks (like engineers [yay!]) as socially awkward dweebs, nerds geeks deserving of utter contempt and derision.

    The only exception I can think of is Joe Dubois, the husband on Medium. He’s an aerospace engineer. Like me. :) The only good depiction of an engineer is on a show about a psychic. Is that irony? Good show, though, if you treat it as fantasy.

    How many movies and TV shows are there where a main character recoils at the very thought of having to do math? I’ve seen three in the past month, and I don’t even watch a lot of TV.

    Win the local homecoming game? You are a God. Sports is the modern opiate of the masses. Win a statewide science challenge? Who cares who you are- just gimme your lunch money.

    Fill in the blanks:
    1. Britney ______, famous singer
    2. Walter ______, co-inventor of the transistor

    How many books or movies depict utopic futures as opposed to dystopic? How many show the horror of some scientific discovery gone out of control rather than being a benefit to humanity?

    Super heroes are the ultimate athletic archetype. Super villains are the mad scientist archetype.

    Anti-science permeates everything. Math is constantly shown to be the playground of the mental misfit. Engineers can’t talk to girls. Scientists burst into flames in the sunlight. Wait, that’s vampires, but you know what I mean. :)

    Hell, come to think of it, even *vampire* characters are cooler than scientists these days.

    Typical movie vampire:
    http://img.tesco.com/pi/entertainment/DVD/LF/694326_DV_L_F.jpg

    Typical movie scientist:
    http://www.caughtoffside.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/mad_scientist.gif

  21. Geophysicist

    Craig, You missed my whole point. Lord Monckton’s views on AIDS make him a disreputable expert on AIDS, but say nothing to his reputability on AGW, so too with the man with ties to the coal industry. Six degrees of separation applies. While your source of funding may introduce a bias, it does not necessarily do so, the quality of your facts and arguments is the only reliable measure.

    A fine example of this is the inclusion of a recent article in Scientific American magazine by Peter Duesberg. Mr Duesberg is a crackpot virologist who asserts that AIDS does not come from HIV. His SA article was however about chromasomal abnormality as a root cause of cancer. His cancer theories are being actively researched in mainstream science and could have a great deal of merit.

    So no, attacking someone’s reputation on the basis of previous and distinct topics is NOT fine and does nothing to negate the basis of someones reputability when it comes to the topic in question.

    Anyone else without a shred of scientific literacy want to raise an argument here?

  22. Quiet Desperation

    >”Weather channel, Meteorologist, coal eating corporate oil junkie. Can we please stop with the name calling?”

    Cripes, I was defending the guy!

  23. Geophysicist

    Sorry QD, just pointing out that both sides can improve.

    I loved your last post by the way. Too true. But are the opposite of the holywood stereotypes any better?

    TV shows like CSI and Numb3rs hold science and maths up as panaceas with all the worlds answers. If only it was that simple.

  24. Just Al

    Okay, then, let’s be more specific for the holier-than-thou crowd:

    My comment (at the very least, since I can’t speak for others) was intended to accomplish two things:

    1) Trash the useless yet ever-present “appeal to authority” that always crops up in threads like this;

    2) Point out, in a rather biting way, that all evidence should be examined, not just the evidence you want to see – thus the part about “THE fact.”

    Get it now? Good.

    I really don’t give a rodent’s caboose who the guy is, his credentials, nor whether he’s the greatest that ever lived. Show me anyone that hasn’t been wrong, ever, and I’ll begin to consider it a possibility. Until then, I’m more concerned with how all of the findings stack up.

    Not terribly so, though. AGW or no, I can’t see a down side to reducing greenhouse emissions no matter how hard I try, so I really don’t see any point in arguing about it. It should have been started decades ago. Continuing to do something bad while you try to determine how bad is too bad is not exactly good science either.

    But good luck with your efforts to get everyone to play nice and be smart. After this you can get commenters to spell correctly on YouTube, then take the rest of the afternoon off.

  25. Geophysicist

    Hey Just Al,

    If you want some examples of the downside of reducing emmissions, look at Bjorn Lomborg’s talk on TED.com. It can be damned expensive, so IF the benefit is small, you’re better off spending the money on things we can achieve, like feeding Africa, or combating AIDS.

    Down here in Oz we have a booming coal export industry and an upcoming election. The head of our “Green” party wants to shut the industry down completely. O.K, but that will be hundreds of thousands of jobs and a good share of our GDP, if you’re going to shut it down, you have to replace it with something, or we starve, unemployed, in the dark. If it needs to be done, fine, do it, but sensibly. If not…

  26. Quiet Desperation

    >”But are the opposite of the holywood stereotypes any better?”

    Sometimes, yes. Depictions of the WW2 codebreakers, for example. Without them the war would have lasted much longer and, some feel, might even have been lost.

    Book recommendation:
    “The Code Book” by Simon Singh. Absolutely kickass. :) Cryptography though the ages.

  27. strangeangel23

    I guess Mr. BA is confirming what I have always suspected about America. That is, it’s divided into two parties. One that takes extreme positions and acts on them. And the other who think they maybe right in doing so.

    I thinks it’s time to shine the light in the demon haunted age.

  28. tacitus

    Wow — the comments sure veered off course in a hurry, even without my help this time!

    Phil’s actual point is perfectly valid. Gooch obviously made no attempt to find out what the real scientists in Kentucky say about global warning so his excuse that he could not find any in his state was simply a CYA maneuver. (But then, it’s pretty clear that he wasn’t interested in the science anyway given the “experts” he did invite along to the press conference).

    And what’s with all the whinging about deniers being attacked for who they are and not what they know? This is positively tame stuff compared to the incessant barrage of ad homs Al Gore has had to put up with these past few years.

    As for the Weather Channel founder, when you issue a statement saying that AGW is the “greatest scam in history” then you deserve to be ridiculed, as this is a ridiculous statement no matter how you read it. Even if AGW is dead wrong, how does impugning the motives of the majority of climate scientists around the world help the debate? Answer: not at all.

    Finally, whether you skeptics like it or not, there is does seem to be a strong overlap between anti-AGW, anti-HIV, and anti-evolution forces. Scratch an anti-evolutionist and an anti-AGWist might well pop out (e.g. UncommonDescent). They are most often united by a fairly radical conservative political viewpoint which has a profound mistrust of the “liberal” scientific establishment and, of course, any government mandated action.

    That’s not to say there are exceptions, or that there aren’t people who are genuinely skeptical of the science regardless of their politics, but whenever I tune to Fox News, or listen to any number of right-wing political/religious talk shows, that drumbeat of mistrust of established science is constant and unmistakable (and usually devoid of any reasoned argument why). If nothing else, when real AGW skeptics complain that they are being unfairly attacked, they should remember that the waters have been seriously muddied by the massed ranks of the true-deniers.

  29. tacitus

    Of course, the irony in all this is that even if the most “liberal” Democratic candidate becomes president, any actions taken to reduce the risks of GW will likely be cautious and slow. It’s not as though we’re going to turn the American way of life upside down overnight — no elected official is going to have the nerve to do that, not even the likes of John Edwards.

    Only if/when there is an in-your-face unmistakable sign or (more probably) when disaster strikes because of AGW will the public be ready for swift and drastic government action. But by then it will probably be too late anyway.

  30. Scott

    This guy sounds like a real winner to me… not.

    on a side note:

    “systematic neocon attacks on stem cell research, global warming, evolution, sex education, the CDC, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the FDA… OK, you get it.”

    Every one of those little internet tests the political sites put up that are supposed to tell you which party and what political lean you belong to peg me as a solid NeoConservative. So my personal view on the issues you mentioned?

    Stem Cell Research = Good
    Sex Education = Good, although the program could use some serious updating along with the rest of the school system.
    Global Warming = Probably one of, if not the most serious problem facing the world today.
    The CDC, FWS, NPS, FDA etc, not sure what the issue is, I must have missed those blogs but knowing this blog I have the feeling that it has to do with the repression of scientific data to uphold incorrect beliefs so the profit mongers can make more money which is of course, wrong.

    So am I the devil incarnate? Let me know if I’m way off in my views here. believe it or not I am always open to listening to valid arguments and its not unheard of that I be swayed by new evidence I hadn’t seen before.

  31. Scott

    Opps, I forgot Evolution which is of course, true. I read somewhere that something like 98% of breeds of dog are man made. Example: Someone needed a dog to pull sleds in Alaska so they bred dogs that had good traits for pulling and good traits for cold weather survivability and came up with the Malmute. Seems to me that if we can selectively breed dogs to create a new breed to performa specific function then the same thing should work in nature, by accident. It just takes longer. Evolution is really just common sence.

  32. Mark

    It’s pretty easy to substantiate that Republican politicians are bad on science. And yes, they may be grasping at straws to fight what seems to be a very strong trend in the scientific “community” to support the idea of GW. But, as the saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. It is foolish to use Republican (or Democratic) politicians as a barometer for the either the falsehood *or* the truth of any scientific theory.

    It is easy, but ultimately useless, to prop up your existing opinion primarily by pointing out how stupid some of the people who disagree with you are. If you really want to have a solid, rigorous, and well-substantiated opinion on a complex issue such as whether or not global warming is real, substantial, man-made, harmful and reasonably preventable (and keep in mind that all of those tests must be passed to justify any kind of action), you should seek out the best arguments against it, and see if you can counter them. Rather than writing about moronic politicians, why not investigate the work of people like Patrick Michaels, Bjorn Lomborg, John Christy and others who make compelling arguments and introduce perspectives on the issue that might be new to you if you have never applied critical thinking to the theory at hand.

    You might be compelled to ask yourself some difficult questions, such as:

    1) What would the natural temperature fluctuation be over the next few hundred years, outside of any CO2 influence?
    2) Is there an optimal average global temperature, and if so, is the current one necessarily it?
    3) How good can we really say our temperature data are, from the perspective of plotting historical trends well enough to answer question 1), let alone to predict the net effect of CO2 emissions going forward?
    4) In the same context, how good can we really say our modelling technology is?
    5) How catastrophic would a moderate rise in average temperature really be? Would it be catastrophic at all? Wouldn’t you expect there to be various harms and various benefits to different people in different locations from any temperature change?
    6) Is there any good science out there at all which indicates that even an enormous cutback in CO2 emissions (say 20% world-wide) would have a measurable countering effect on projected warming?
    7) What would be the economic/social/political effects of forcing all those cutbacks?

    I would also point out that all of the points that you make about being on guard against those who may have an existing agenda apply at least as much to supporters of AGW as they do to detractors. The number of people whose jobs, grant money, reputation, political standing and/or ego are to some extent dependent on a pro-AGW perspective is quite large. The very existence of something like the IPCC rests on the assumption that the tests I outlined above can likely be passed. Governmental and academic agencies whose charters are strongly linked to global warming will wither and die if the facts come in unfavorably. And if you think that has not influenced the content of the IPCC reports, you’re extremely naive.

  33. DennyMo

    All it would take is one good gamma ray burst to put our GW concerns to rest.
    http://www.history.com/minisite.do?content_type=Minisite_Episodes&content_type_id=1435&display_order=3&mini_id=1401

    Like I’ve said before, arguing over whether or not global warming is real and/or human influenced is a needless distraction. There are enough locally demonstrable reasons to curtail pollution that doing so SHOULD be a no-brainer.

  34. Soma

    “Craig, You missed my whole point. Lord Monckton’s views on AIDS make him a disreputable expert on AIDS, but say nothing to his reputability on AGW, so too with the man with ties to the coal industry.”

    Ok, so enlighten us as to what gives this crackpot any more reputability on GW than on AIDS?

  35. > The only exception I can think of is Joe Dubois, the husband on Medium. He’s an aerospace engineer. Like me. The only good depiction of an engineer is on a show about a psychic. Is that irony? Good show, though, if you treat it as fantasy.

    Did the point-of-failure in the plane crash episode strike you as a bit (well, a lot) unlikely too? (That’s the only episode I’ve seen, because someone asked me to comment on it. It looks like a good show, but the whole OMG REED TEH BOOK TEH SHOW IS BASED ON turned me off. Dead is dead is dead. But anyway.)

    Anyway, can it be end of world as we know it times now please?

  36. Brodie

    James Taylor was awesome in Two Lane Blacktop.

  37. Quiet_Desperation

    >”Did the point-of-failure in the plane crash episode strike you as a bit (well, a lot) unlikely too?”

    Uh, I forget? :-)

    I remember the episode, but not much about it. It was an average one. Try renting one of the DVDs. Season 3 was good.

    For what it is (a show about a psychic), it’s well put together. The writers are careful not to make Allison too superhuman. Her dreams and visions can be very cryptic, and include junk data, so they are little puzzles to unravel.

    There was one where she kept seeing a man in her dreams but they couldn’t find anyone that looked like that. Turned out it was a model from a menu cover in a pizza restaurant her family frequented. Just background noise mixed into the signal.

    In another where she fingered the husband in a woman’s death, she eventually realized that the wife was killed from behind. She never saw her killer, and went to the grave thinking her husband killed her, but not knowing for sure. So even the dead are not all knowing. :) Turns out the husband *did* do it, though.

    I also have a hopeless crush on Patricia Arquette.

    As for the “real” Allison Dubois and her books, don’t worry about them. It was just a marketing thing by NBC to get people to notice the series. The Allison in the series is a completely different person. The TV Allison is *actually* psychic, for example. :)

    Season 3 ended bad. Allison was exposed by a reporter who depicted her as mentally ill. The DA and cop who were in on her secret were about to lose their jobs. There was talk of every case she solved being reviewed. Her husband lost *his* job for indirectly related reasons. Big mess.

  38. Lcedar

    The problem with the anti-evolutionist is that they think evolution is a theory. Evolution is a process as observable as an apple falling from a tree. No body argues that gravity exist. The processes of evolution are debatable…its existence is consistantly confirmable. Our teachers are partially responsible for this being taught inaccurately.

  39. Chip

    Tacitus wrote: “Phil’s actual point is perfectly valid. Gooch obviously made no attempt to find out what the real scientists in Kentucky say about global warning so his excuse that he could not find any in his state was simply a CYA maneuver. (But then, it’s pretty clear that he wasn’t interested in the science anyway given the “experts” he did invite along to the press conference)…..”

    Thanks for posting lucid, insightful comments earlier in this thread.

  40. Carey

    Well of course there aren’t any scientists in Kentucky. The Creation Museum scared them all away. I wouldn’t want to be a scientist in that kind of environment.

  41. > Uh, I forget?

    Bleed air valve from one of the nacelles shutting automatically, preventing cabin-air refresh and so everyone asphyxiated. Hypoxia for the lose, apparently. It just struck me that the BAV isn’t really what I would’ve picked for a single-point-of-failure (but then again, we need to explain why an airliner with TCAS would just smilingly fly into the ground with a part that would be immediately recoverable on the scene without taping the bits back together (instead of the more reasonable seal failure and slow cabin pressure loss, although that would set off pressure alarms at some point and they’d just dive…).

    > Gooch obviously made no attempt to find out what the real scientists in Kentucky say about global warning (sic) so his excuse that he could not find any in his state was simply a CYA maneuver.

    Actually… I lived in Kentucky for five years. There’s a reason why Answers In Genesis’ creationist museum is fifteen minutes from where I used to live, up north, in the relatively urbane part of Kentucky. UoK also doesn’t strike me as a particularly science-oriented university (note how it’s only really known for college basketball…), although I say that unfairly without doing sufficient research to make a positive claim one way or the other.

  42. Sergeant Zim

    Gooch may actually end up swaying more people to the side of reality through his single-digit- I.Q. stance. When the article opens with this statement: “Global warming is a myth concocted by former Vice President Al Gore, the United Nations, Hollywood and the news media, Kentucky lawmakers were told yesterday.”, it’s pretty easy even for the average ‘redneckistani’ to know that there is some industrial-grade woo a-comin’.

    And when the one call for ‘experts’ he DID make was to the Heartland Institute, a rather obvious shill for everything Rush, Sean, and Savage stand for, we can smell the agenda a mile away (I noticed when he call HI, he said that “Scientists weren’t necessary”).
    We wouldn’t want SCIENTISTS to testify on a SCIENTIFIC problem, now would we?

  43. Zim:

    Yes, but there is one problem: “Global warming is a myth concocted by former Vice President Al Gore, the United Nations, Hollywood and the news media, Kentucky lawmakers were told yesterday.”

    The average redneckistani (and I’m friends with quite a few) see, as bad things (not on the level of minions of Satan, but still bad):

    1) former Vice President Al Gore,
    2) the United Nations,
    3) Hollywood,
    4) and the news media.

    It’ll play in Peoria, I’m afraid.

  44. Scott M

    While on the one hand it is a bad idea to use politicians as a barometer for the accuracy of scientific theory, it is not a bad thing to really, really wish that the politicians would…you know…actually learn something about science.

    The politicians are the ones who make–or at least validate–the rules everyone else lives by. They decide policy. They decide who gets money. They decide what gets taught in schools.

    It’s not too much to ask that they get at least a basic education on…say…what a theory actually is, for instance.

  45. What the politicians are a good barometer for, though, are the people (or at least the ones activist enough to bother participating in governance, where democracies are concerned). Le sigh.

  46. Chris CII

    I sense a little disingenuity in this “quizz”

    Fill in the blanks:

    1. Britney ______, famous singer
    2. Walter ______, co-inventor of the transistor

    The transistor was invented in 1956, and fame in music industry is quite fleeting so you’ld rather have to put in :
    1 Clifford ______, american jazz trumpeter, highly influential despite his early death age 25.

    Not that it invalidates the rest of the post, but in scien ce methodology is everything. ;-)

    Or you could put in
    2 : Albert _______, co-inventor of giant magneto-resistance and then your quizz holds.

  47. Jason

    I’m wondering if he took a nasty hit on the head during the tornado that nearly wiped out Providence several years ago.
    Then again, it might just be that a bunch of his hot air escaped.

  48. Mark

    DennyMo states that “… arguing over whether or not global warming is real and/or human influenced is a needless distraction. There are enough locally demonstrable reasons to curtail pollution that doing so SHOULD be a no-brainer.”

    It’s not such a no-brainer to define exactly what is pollution, and, more importantly, for those things that meet the definition you come up with, to asses what the cost of not doing them is. Certainly, the CO2 “problem” could mostly be eliminated by dismantling all power plants and banning all automobiles. Tally up the trillions of aspects of our lives that depend either on electricity or ease of transportation, and then ask yourself what you’d be willing to put up with to avoid giving all of that up.

    And yes, I know he said “curtail,” not “eliminate,” but that’s just the same problem to a lesser degree. Any honest student of this issue will tell you that we are not going to make a sizeable dent in emissions by simply making our usage a little less wasteful on a person-by-person basis. Or even by passing laws to force automobiles to be a little cleaner. If the CO2 emissions are as dangerous as we are being told, then something fairly drastic will be required to “curtail” them enough to help the problem. That means making some major change to our power and transportation technologies and/or enforcing drastic limitations on usage. The former may very well be a good thing, but those technologies just don’t exist yet, and if they did, the market would already be favoring them. (An interesting exception to that last point is nuclear power, which IS an economically viable and far more clean and efficient source of electricity, but, not surprisingly, doesn’t seem to be included on the approved list of solutions by any of the vocal GW advocates I’ve heard, and is for the most part legally excluded from the market-place due to its political unpalatability, at least in the U.S., which itself is the result of pseudo-scientific scare mongering. Bad science emanates from both the right AND the left.)

    And even if you suffer from the delusion that the advanced industrial nations can switch things around in some way that won’t cause the pain and misery I imply above, what are you going to tell the developing nations? “Sorry, too late for you. You had your chance to go industrial when we were all on board with that, but now we’re changing our minds and saying that pollution avoidance is more important, so you’ll just have to remain in your manual labor model indefinitely.”

    Have any of you really thought this through?

  49. Quiet_Desperation

    Sorry, Centipede, but you don’t have to be a “redneckistani” (good word, BTW) to have a healthy dislike for the four things in your list.

    1) former Vice President Al Gore,

    As I have stated in other threads, I think he’s in it for the attention and he uses classic (and distasteful) propaganda techniques. I don’t care if it’s for “a good cause”. Wrong is wrong. The road to Hell and good intentions and all that.

    2) the United Nations,

    How many scandals do you need? If the UN officials hadn’t been taking bribes from Saddam in the food for oil corruption, maybe the world would be a different place right now. Maybe not, but who knows?

    They gave Kofi Annan a Nobel peace Prize, too, BTW. I’d really like some of what they are smoking in Oslo.

    Outside of the Security Council, the UN has been dominated for 40 years by Afro-Asian countries whose government routinely pervert human rights and any sense of justice.

    I mean, how can I have ANY respect for an organization that makes Sudan, a *genocidal* government, the watchdog for human rights? This is a country with human slavery within its borders.

    The UN is the festering boil of Turtle Bay. It needs to be disbanded and sent the way of the League Of Nations, and replaced by something much more rational. Put Vaclav Havel in charge of it.

    3) Hollywood,

    I have to wonder what it means when I find myself sympathizing with the antagonists in so many films.

    Here’s a funny article by David Brin defending Mordor.

    http://dir.salon.com/story/ent/feature/2002/12/17/tolkien_brin/

    4) and the news media.

    Sound bites and shallowness. People argue about CNN versus Fox or whatever. It’s *all* crap, people. Harping on just one channel makes you look deluded and silly.

    Besides, Fox has the hottest news babes. :)

  50. “Redneckistani” is Sgt. Zim’s word and I’m not going to allow for false credit to fall upon my shoulders for it. ;) Note that I didn’t say one had to be a redneckistani to generally dislike those four things; just that redneckistani usually do. ::shrug::

    I do agree, to one extent or another, with all your points. Perhaps a better post-UN could be some sort of atomic monopoly like in “Solution Unsatisfactory.”

  51. Venton Thorn

    [i]Taylor said most scientists don’t believe in global warming. Not that warming is bad, he said. Hotter weather means more vegetation and crops and more diversity of wildlife[/i]

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/18/AR2007111800501.html

  52. Venton Thorn

    “Taylor said most scientists don’t believe in global warming. Not that warming is bad, he said. Hotter weather means more vegetation and crops and more diversity of wildlife…”

    Um…right.
    The Washington Post had an article today about the effect of global warming on agriculture.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/18/AR2007111800501.html

  53. John A

    Venton

    What ARE you talking about? Can’t you read English?

    “India, on track to be the world’s most populous country, could see a 40 percent decline in agricultural productivity by the 2080s..”

    “Africa — where four out of five people make their living directly from the land — could see agricultural downturns of 30 percent…”

    “Even the emerging agricultural powerhouse of Latin America is poised to suffer reductions of 20 percent or more…”

    “And those estimates do not count the effects of new plant pests and diseases, which are widely expected to come with climate change and could cancel out the positive “fertilizing” effects that higher carbon dioxide levels may offer some plants.”

    Complete rubbish.

    People are being scared to death by apocalyptic scenarios that bear no resemblence to what happens when climate warms. And some simpletons even believe them to be factual right now.

  54. Kyle Huff

    For the record, cancer researchers also regard Duesberg as a crank.

    Here’s the pattern:
    Clever guy from outside your research specialty sees glaring holes in your analysis, points them out, and comes up with random theory that could also fit the supplied data without studying for years to see if there’s anything in the literature that would invalidate it.
    Defenders will call the guy a crank, and point out something that invalidates the crank theory.

    This doesn’t advance the state of the art. The holes are either real, or illusory. Fix them or elucidate them. It is not constructive to pretend that the holes don’t matter just because the critic’s alternative theory is crank.

  55. tacitus

    Complete rubbish.

    Excellent way to prove you are a denier, not a skeptic. :)

  56. Adam

    Geophysicist,

    I’m also from Oz, and work as a stockbroking analyst covering resources services stocks (amongst others). That gives me the insight to say your belief that “hundreds of thousands” of Australian jobs will be lost if the coal industry is shut down is utter crap. Coal mining isn’t done by sending thousands of dirty men with pickaxes down holes any more.
    Have you also considered that the large scale generation of renewable energy also requires a workforce?

    I also think that spending $bn on military adventures is also a waste of money (I spent 10 years in the RAAF, so I’m not a raving anti military loon), but I presume any “lomberg” style of money redirection can only come from taking $ away from humanitarian efforts.

  57. Hooray

    Al Gore lost the election, then grew a beard and ATE a small country. Now he’s 300lbs. Hooray for him. There are plenty of other LEGITIMATE reasons to get off the oil kick other than ‘global warming’ — like for starters, relying on the most instable corners of the world for our energy supply. Grow up Phil and you other sycophants, and stop worshiping liberals because you share their facial hair. Ice ages came and went without Exxon and Mobil. We need energy independence for many other reasons than a coincidental 1 degree rise in global temperatures.

  58. Quiet Desperation

    >”Perhaps a better post-UN could be some sort of atomic monopoly like in “Solution Unsatisfactory.”

    Nah! What we need is International Rescue!

    Thunderbirds are go!

    Ah, to see Thunderbird 2 dropping daisy cutters on a terrorist training camp… :)

  59. “Al Gore lost the election, then grew a beard and ATE a small country.”

    PROTIP: Fat jokes make you look like a serious and gifted intellectual.

  60. > Nah! What we need is International Rescue!

    Who says we can’t do both? Plus have a Space Patrol with XL-class patrol ships firing Interceptor Missiles with the power to destroy small planetoids (take that, dwarf planet! kyahahahaha!).

  61. Nomen Nescio

    AGW Denier, you can get your climate change/global warming information from a cable exec and his meteorologists but I’ll get my climate change/global warming information from climatologists — the people who actually study climate.

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