Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts!

Just how depressing have America’s policy debates become? What is the extent to which emotion and ideology have replaced reliance on facts, evidence and data–and what are the consequences of our refusal to confront unpleasant realities?

Permit me to offer just two examples.

In Florida, as you have probably heard, state workers are not permitted to use the phrase “climate change.” As the Guardian wryly noted,

You might have missed it, but Florida has solved climate change. Our state, with 1,300 miles of coastline and a mean elevation of 100 feet, did not, however, limit greenhouse emissions. Instead, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), under Republican governor Rick Scott, forbade employees from using terms like “climate change,” “global warming” or “sea-level rise”. They’re all gone now. You’re welcome, by the way.

It’s pointless to call linguistic distortions of reality like this Orwellian: people tune you out when you use that word and, besides, Big Brother at least had wit. These are just the foot-stamping insistent lies of intellectual toddlers on the grift. It is “nuh-uh” as public policy. This is an elected official saying, “I put a bag over your head, so that means now I’m invisible” and then going out looting.

It isn’t only Florida; Scott Walker’s Wisconsin has a similar rule.

North Carolina went them one better:

In North Carolina, the legislature passed a ruling after the state’s Coastal Resources Commission released an estimate predicting the sea will rise 39 inches along the state’s coast in a century, ABC News reported.

The estimation alarmed developers and seaside residents. If the state was to take action, it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, said ABC. North Carolina would need to draw new flood zones, build waste-treatment plants and elevate roads, and several permits of planned development projects would be in jeopardy.

So the state’s legislature promptly addressed the problem–with a bill banning the actual measurement of sea levels; henceforth, sea-level rise “may be predicted based only on historical data.”

It isn’t only climate change. For a number of years, Congress has banned federal research by the CDC on gun violence–a ban it extended in the immediate aftermath of the Charleston church shooting that left 9 people dead.

The ban began with the 1996 Dickey Amendment, which barred the CDC from involvement in any research that could be interpreted as advocating tougher gun laws. Jack Dickey, a Republican Congressman from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who was then a junior member of the House Appropriations Committee, authored a rider to a spending bill that also slashed $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget— the precise amount that the organization had dedicated to studying gun violence the year before.

Ever since, CDC studies on guns and public health have been virtually non-existent. Dickey has since expressed regret over sponsoring the measure.

Every single day, 89 Americans die from gun violence, and yet we refuse to support research on the causes, effects and consequences of those deaths.

Representative David Price, vice chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, recently argued that

“Regardless of where we stand in the debate over gun violence, we should all be able to agree that this debate should be informed by objective data and robust scientific research.”

Representative Price is wrong. There is nothing that ideologues and interest groups fear more than “objective data and robust scientific research.” Their most fervent hope is that public policy debates continue to be conducted in the absence of evidence. Their motto is: don’t confuse me with science or fact.

Problem is, as Neil DeGrasse Tyson is fond of noting, science is true whether or not you believe in it. Facts exist whether we accept them or not.

Ignoring reality is ultimately unsustainable.

51 thoughts on “Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts!

  1. Mother Nature will eventually make climate change believers out of everyone. For some that enlightenment will come too late. For the gun nuts, what awaits them is the agony of knowing that they could have done something and did nothing and people died. For the ones who refuse to see their part in the gun slaughter there will be no forgiveness. What a legacy!

  2. Is this something peculiar to conservatives? I have been married for 40 years to an otherwise intelligent conservative, of whom I often have said, “He never lets facts get in the way of his opinions.” And this was long before the polarization between conservatives and liberals was a “thing.”

    I have always thought that both liberals and conservatives were necessary to a well-functioning society: liberals/progressives to push forward, to embrace new ideas; conservatives to say, “Hey, wait a minute – is this really a good idea?”

    It’s difficult to see how we can function as a society if conservatives simply refuse to engage altogether facts that are inconvenient, and especially so regarding an issue that demands action, such as climate change.

  3. Climate change is real, wait until the next “natural disaster”. Deny these states FEMA $ since they want to deny reality….

  4. “I have always thought that both liberals and conservatives were necessary to a well-functioning society:…”

    Ginny; thank you, so simply stated, direct and to the point and says what used to be the basis of this country…even with it’s problems. I voted Independent for many years due to this fact allowing me a choice; we must “return to those thrilling days of yesteryear” to again be allowed a choice between common sense and chaos we are offered today. Those quoted words are from the opening words of the Lone Ranger’s TV program and what I view as the meaning of the title and content of President Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope”. I still share his hope that the political parties will once again sit at the bargaining table and find solutions to our problems. They cannot do this without facts; facing facts that are unpleasant and costly to undo mistakes in judgement and legal action taken by our elected “leaders”. Sheila’s Tyson quote is on target; scientific facts are not all inclusive of the problems plaguing this entire country today.

    Yesterday I attempted to find news, containing whatever facts I might possibly glean from rhetoric, on MSNBC and CNN yesterday after deciding to give them another chance. I was looking for action, or even inaction, in Oregon, reaction to President Obama’s Executive Action regarding gun control and the stock market situation. I found Trump, Trump and nothing but Trump. For the first time a quite a while I tried Rachel Maddow, one of two supposedly liberal sources for news left on MSNBC. Don’t remember what she was reporting but even Rachel seems scaled back to near empty reporting.

    The article in the USA Today insert in the Star gave a brief report on the gun control issue leaning far to the right; seeming to lack understanding of the issue and reason for the action and of course no support. I have never watched PBS news programming but will try it this evening – with fingers crossed – as their programming in recent years “ain’t what it usta’ was”.

  5. Every few years, some ultra (or maybe pseudo-) religious “leader” gets a great deal of publicity predicting the end of the world, or rapture, or whatever. Many offer up a specific date and time. I assume most thinking individuals shake their head and roll their eyes before and after the “end times” come and go. There is one notable exception to this format. That exception is with any prediction around climate change. They build a computer that predicts mass starvation (doesn’t happen), increases in violent storms (doesn’t happen), Manhattan will be under water (doesn’t happen). And still we accept anything they say. They manipulate data and even change from “global warming” to “climate change” because the rising temperatures haven’t. I do not suggest that climate change is not real, but how can a thinking person not question the chicken little predictions from a group notorious for being wrong?

  6. If there is no action taken, my house will be a beachfront property by the end of this century. I, of course, won’t be here to enjoy it, but I am considering inviting Governor Scott to spend the week here the day that happens. His house will be underwater.

  7. There was a story on the News Hour last night about a wounded, disabled Marine who was married and wanted to start a family. Because of his disabilities and wounds, in vitro fertilization was his only option. VA refused to pay for the procedure and when the reporter started asking questions, the refusal was based on religious objections regarding the process based on the disposal of ova at the completion of fertilization. The reporter claimed that they had asked a couple of elected official as well as representatives of the “religious” organization that had created the objection to appear on camera, but both declined.

    I suspect that they didn’t want to be exposed to any questioning that would make the basis of their positions appear as weak as they are. So they get to continue working in secrecy to control the lives and choices of others, no matter the circumstances. This is how legislation is created.

  8. Regarding FL and WI governors’ mandates about terms – it seems that even the government refuses to allow Freedom of Speech. I’ve dealt with that with private sector employers but am truly disappointed to read about these mandates.

    These mandates really are all about money and the investors that can buy their legislatures.

    Ken, you mentioned that increases in violent storms has not happened. Insurance companies might disagree with you.

  9. The Republicons have been especially clever in harnessing Anti-Knowledge. Controls on pollution whether by factory farms, or industrial pollution, drilling or mining is dismissed as activist science.
    By the way JoAnn, I have given up on CNN and MSNBC. Chris Matthews of MSNBC might as well be on the $hillary Campaign Committee. I watch FOX once in awhile for amusement. No matter what happens in the USA or world it is President Obama’s fault. The McMega-Media narrative is $hillary vs Trump, they have made the choice for us. The McMega-Media is pushing out their Corporate Candidates. No mention at at all on Bernie Sanders.

    It reminds me of a rather famous picture of Stalin walking along a river with his head of the NKVD a man named Yezhov. Yezhov was in command of the NKVD during the Great Purge. Yezhov was replaced and shot. The picture was altered and Yezhov was wiped out of the picture. Our Corporatist McMega-Media does the same thing in controlling the content and narrative.

  10. Louis – It reminds me of a rather famous picture of Stalin walking along a river with his head of the NKVD a man named Yezhov. Yezhov was in command of the NKVD during the Great Purge. Yezhov was replaced and shot. The picture was altered and Yezhov was wiped out of the picture. Our Corporatist McMega-Media does the same thing in controlling the content and narrative.

    Excellent comparison!

  11. Oh the irony… The headline: “Don’t confuse me with the facts” while you call for guns to stop shooting people. In case you didn’t know, guns don’t just go off by themselves. They are fired both by law-abiding citizens AND losers who decide to break the law. People kill others while drunk driving too, but we don’t ban cars. Thanks for the chuckle today- you’re amusing.

  12. Ron raises a good point. At 16 you pass a written test on automobile safety and signage to get a learner’s permit for 6 months. Then you’re required to pass a road test where you demonstrate your ability to control a motor vehicle in traffic, parking and signaling. Only then are you awarded your license to drive.

    What about weapons?

  13. Ron, you are correct in stating that we don’t ban cars and thank you for that comparison. However, we do require a license to be able to legally drive a car and we must pass an exam to obtain that license. We also require auto insurance to cover any damage that we may cause to the property of others or for any physical harm.

    I believe that we should require gun owners to attend training and pass an exam proving that they understand how to operate their gun and how to maintain it in a safe manner. Also, maybe we should require gun owners to have insurance to cover any damages they may cause to other people.

  14. Here’s the problem. Knowledge is unequally distributed. That’s not a conspiracy but the results of the fact that humanity has so much of it that any one of us can only pick up a tiny fraction of it in a lifetime.

    So we have an ever increasing need for collaboration. We need to never stop teaching and learning and serving each other.

    That’s why us competing is so obsolete and us collaborating is the only future that works.

  15. Ken, you’ve been and still are being lied to about climate change. Almost nothing in your post is factual. It’s the product of fossil fuel businesses like Exxonmobil and Koch Industries who very well understand the truth but are hoping for a propaganda fueled reprieve from their obsolescence. In other words profits today that create massive public expenses later on that will be borne by taxpayers.

    Here’s a simple solution. Skepticalscience.com. Every piece of propaganda about climate change ever propagated addressed with reality as science has discovered it to be.

    As someone said here the truth of that science is now in the headlines almost every day. Conservatives look more and more foolish as what they wish was true gets denied in the here and now daily.

    I know that you are trying to avoid the embarrassment of having to say that you’ve been duped but it’s unavoidable now.

  16. daleb & Nancy re: Ron’s remarks. Not only do we train and pass tests to receive a driver’s license we are required to renew it from time to time and when you are as old as I the renewal times are much shorter. You all have a Happy New Year Irvin

  17. Pete. Every wordyou write could be true but manipulation of climate data and Manhattan not being under water and the oil fires in Iraq and Kuwait have not caused global cooling. Why are you so certain that my sources are propaganda and that yours are not? In spite of an almost continuous mantra of “sky is falling” it still has not happened. Furthermore, the greenies have acknowledged that, for example, if Kyoto had been implemented perfectly it would have made a difference measured in 1/hundredths of a degree.

  18. But man made global warming is not based on historical facts. It’s based on feeding cherrypicked information into computer models and reaching predictions about the future climate. The models are limited by the information fed into them and the reliability of the models. One of the biggest problems is that the computer models don’t adequately consider the impact of the number one greenhouse gas, water vapor. The models have already been proven to be wrong.

    Alarmists like to claim being skeptical of global warming is like questioning evolution. The two could not be more different. Evolution isn’t a prediction based on computer modeling. It is a theory that’s been proven true by a lengthy historical record. You certainly can’t say that about global warming. The planet has been warmer than today and CO2 levels have been much higher. These though are inconvenient facts alarmists continue to ignore.

  19. Ron Wayne–If you’re convicted of drunk driving, you usually lose your license and aren’t allowed to drive. Cars and guns are both dangerous. They both need to be regulated, registered and licensed. Why is this such a difficult concept?

  20. daleb; the legal system hasn’t yet caught up with the giant strides made by medical science and the electronic age, causing all of us problems in one form or another. Your last paragraph (9:28 a.m.) is right on target; we are being kept out of legislative business no longer operating under the original belief of “government of the people, by the people and for the people” referred to by President Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address. “Nobody Knows What Goes On Behind Closed Doors” is their theme song. We are in another Civil War where rights are denied and overruled and facts are ignored and replaced with religious dogma the Republicans claim is the basis for the Constitution and Amendments. SCOTUS is basically ruled by the same majority of good old boys who refute facts as they strip the general public of their rights and sell OUR government to the highest bidder.

  21. Paul: civil engineers have been discussing fro several years how to deal with changing weather patterns that result in more intense storms and more frequent dry or drought periods. The old data they use for designing storm water conveyances don’t work now; the pipes are dry for extended periods and when there is rain it falls in more intense storms resulting in an overload to the existing conveyances.

    You can cite the cherry-picked data if you like, but many charged with managing the fallout of climate change have decided to move ahead. It might be interesting to check with the municipalities in FL and NC and see if they feel that denying climate change is an appropriate strategy for preparing their communities.

  22. Paul and Ken keep repeating the propaganda that both makes them comfortable and reveals their lack of proficiency in high school physics. That despite the indisputable evidence from both science and news.

    Let me pose to them another indisputable science problem. If you’re on earth and drop something that’s not buoyant in our atmosphere what direction does it accelerate in? Ans. Towards the center of earth’s mass. Always. Both theoretically and experientially.

    The reality of climate change is of the same certainty. Both theoretically and experientially. It has to do with the well understood nature of energy and matter and the properties of a type of matter labeled a greenhouse gas.

    Mankind didn’t always know that. It was discovered almost 200 years ago and now we do. That is it’s known to anyone who has learned it and accepted the evidence. Any of us not having learned it is not a detail that the universe cares about. It’s always been true and always will be.

    I gave them a website available and proficient in teaching them not what they’d like to be true but what reality is. skepticalscience.com They would rather assume that their wants, because they are conservatives, take precedence over reality. Reality is not conservative or liberal and our window into it is science. It simply is what is.

    I believe that fundamental to this particular ignorance is the fact that especially the nature of energy is completely unintuitive. You and I would never figure it out. But people with extra and very specialized education and very expensive lab tools and global collaboration have. So our choice is simple. Learn it from them or remain with our birth right. Ignorance.

    We all make that choice.

  23. I do not get objections to this one, considering measurements ARE scientists’ [and carpet installers’, painters’] histories — So the state’s legislature promptly addressed the problem–with a bill banning the actual measurement of sea levels; henceforth, sea-level rise “may be predicted based only on historical data.” And who is going to tuck tail and bow heads on that anyway! The Army Corps of Engineers, National Guard suppliers? I noticed that riverfront families have been moving back right along with the urban office building owners, redesigning their footings, or selling out to business investors.

  24. One of my favorite all-time economists, (Lord) John Maynard Keynes, once noted to a colleague that, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” This bedrock expression of ultimate pragmatism (no ideology left or right need apply) is my rule and guide.

    Thus when presented with a broad array of isms from which to choose (including but not limited to a choice of capitalism, socialism, communism, nihilism, libertarianism or any other such ism), I invariably choose an unlisted ism on the menu – pragmatism – whose choice of policy guide may well vary from time to time, depending upon both the nature and pace of change of the then underlying facts per Keynesian insight. If it works, I don’t care what you call it (and all of the historical baggage that comes with it). My only additional qualifier as a democratic idealist is that it must not only work but work for all the people. Reich agrees.

    Science is a mere handmaiden to such process but an important one, especially when you are forced to consort with people who deny climate change, monopoly pricing in an ostensibly “free market” economy, the coming application of Malthusian principles to the population bulge just over the horizon etc. What’s next from our fantasy-mined ideologues, assertions that the law of gravity and the presence of el nino are liberal plots designed to destroy private enterprise? Is there a shrink in the house? When does this end – or does it?

  25. Ken and Ron,

    When it comes to global warming and climate control, Pete gets my ear. He’s a scientist who at this point in his life concentrates on global warming. That means something from where I come from.

    What are your backgrounds to keep challenging him? Do you have any expertise other than information you’ve gathered from communication sources supported by the mega capitalists who have little or no concern about our future other than how it will effect their bottom line or bank accounts.

  26. daleb and Phyllis; a few decades ago, people in this country were told, “We are destroying the environment.” This came with examples and explanations we understood to be safer and cleaner by simply changing a few habits and recycling some items. The term changed to “Global Warming” and threw much of the country into a panic and denial of all evidence presented. Today it is blamed on Al Gore. You should all watch “An Inconvenient Truth” if you haven’t seen it; the facts cannot be denied.

    Climate Change is all in our imagination, will never happen, impossible, nothing has changed, you don’t know what you are talking about, the Bible tells us so. Ken and Paul; in 5th grade, approximately 1948 – I am now 78 years old – our teacher, Mrs. Goodus, told us that at sometime in the distant future the weather in Indiana would be that of Florida. She explained that the earth is constantly changing position on it’s axis; unfelt by us as it happens because it is so miniscule…but consistent. This changes our atmosphere and is all part of nature. If she knew this in 1948; why don’t you know this today, in 2016, in the 21st Century when we have witnessed weather (climate) changes during our lifetime? The mechanical, electronic, medical, transportation, space travel, communication, population explosion, atomic and nuclear power, etc., evolution/revolution since that time has escalated beyond anyone’s imagination in 1948, changing the environment and our physical condition and life expectancy. Science and evolution has grown in part due to spiritual belief of many in our ability to expand our knowledge and use it to create a better world.

    Evolution vs. creationism; science vs. the Bible. Why does it necessarily have to be vs.; why can’t it be inclusive in part? Why does there have to be a winner in this particular “war of the worlds”? The worlds of religion vs. science; currently no one is winning and we are all losing. Religion itself is a fact; evolution itself is miraculous so miracles don’t only happen in Bible stories.

    With that, I will step down from my soapbox.

  27. Paul,

    “The planet has been warmer than today and CO2 levels have been much higher.”

    All I know is this fact: Here in Jacksonville, there were days in December that were warmer than anytime in recorded history. I don’t have to be a scientist to figure out that those days were a dire warning. How could I do otherwise, when I’m watching what’s happening everywhere else on the Planet?

  28. I can’t speak to Pacific coastal areas, but I can speak to coastal areas in the Southeast, more specifically to the Tidewater, Virginia coastal area including the coastal areas of North Carolina such as the Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk, Duck, Cape Hatteras, Corolla, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Ocracoke, and Currituck.

    Over a steady period of tourist/resort and single family/multi-family residential development, municipalities have allowed, even encouraged, the development of hotels, vacation homes, and year-round residential housing in oceanfront areas. There’s nothing wrong with oceanfront development as long as the development is situated well behind the primary dune or, better yet, behind the secondary dune. On the other hand, it’s mind boggling to witness the absolute denial of folks, some very wealthy and some simply wannabe wealthy, who will pay an entry level price of $500K to $750K for a flimsy oceanfront highrise condo or pay $2M+ for a custom built oceanfront single family home, both residences erected in front of the primary dune.

    Sooner rather than later these buyers inevitably will incur one of Mother Nature’s realities whether via a hurricane or a nor’easter, and subsequently these clueless owners will expect the local governing entity to “fix” their stupidity via replenishing the lost beach sand that has left their septic tanks explosed, that has undermined the pilings on their homes, and that likely has left their expensive homes uninhabitable. Go figure the ignorance that continues to repeat itself year after year after year.

    The same situation applies to those clueless folks who build homes or purchase homes in a known flood plain, as in Indianapolis along the White River. Each year these clueless people face yet another flood and then complain because their houses are water damaged.

  29. BSH – I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. And, as you stated, those people will not only expect, but demand that governement (i.e. taxpayers) pay to for the repairs.

    I have never understood why development of the land in Louisiana that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina was ever allowed. Who am I kidding – it was for development income.

    We all pay for the damages to what should be uninhabitable property. We pay for it via FEMA, the cost of cleanup and higher insurance rates that are spread to everyone in order for insurance companies to cover their losses.

    Who always wins? The developers, as usual.

  30. People typically assume that the weather tells us about climate and that was true in the old days. We measured the weather over long times and large areas and from those data calculated the statistical abstraction of climate.

    However anthropogenic global warming is different. Energy balance changed by the properties of greenhouse gases, which of course we dump into the atmosphere in huge quantities from fossil fuel burning, absolutely requires the climate to warm in very predictable ways.

    Now the problems to be solved are: 1) how much more over how many years will we continue to make the problem worse. 2) how will the climate change thereby created change the weather (in other words long term local weather forecasting. 3) at what rate will those changes cause positive and negative feedbacks like greenhouse gas releases from permafrost and reflectivity change from less reflective surface area 3) where will changes like sea level, precipitation distribution and water supply force us to relocate farms and cities and where will we put them, 4) what’s the right economic balance between mitigation (the cost and timing of changing to fuel-less energy) and adaptation (the cost of moving civilization to where the appropriate weather goes).

    Lots more science but we have answers to all of those questions now to some level of certainty. The work left to do is to refine all of those estimates through supercomputer modeling and extensive satellite and ocean monitoring data collection.

    Or we can start apologizing to the kids for ruining their future and stick our heads in the sand.

  31. I found this quote today in a book by Winston Churchill made in 1947. He was speaking of the Soviet Union but it certainly applies to the Republicon Party today. , “the Bolsheviks have discovered that truth does not matter so long as there is reiteration. They have no difficulty countering a fact by a lie which, if repeated often enough an loudly enough, becomes accepted by the people.”

    We hear the constant Republicon Mantras of makers and takers, taxes are too high on the rich, Health Care in the USA is not a human right, get rid of onerous regulations on you name it: factory farms, clear cutting forests, fracking, mining, or drilling. Even more of their mantras: Unions have destroyed America, Black Lives Matter is a cover group for thugs, Muslims and Hispanics are the enemy. It is loudly and endlessly repeated.

  32. Maybe the issue is that some elected officials are not capable of comprehending facts. Maybe they rely totally on their benefactors to provide them with “information” and “facts”. We have elected the “C” and “D” students that attended our public schools.

  33. Theresa, daleb, Nancy, and JoAnn, your comments today are spot-on! Deniers deny mostly because Vice President Al Gore said it. He was right, of course, and his message is the same today as it ever was. They’re having a tougher time defending themselves as the globe does warm and the climate does change. It’s a losing battle, and they’re squirming in their seats even now. (see earlier comments today) It isn’t just the temperature between the house and the fitness center or the nail salon or what’s on (or not on) their front sidewalks. It’s oh so much more than that.

  34. Climate change really does boil down to fossil fuel profits now versus much, much more in tax payer payouts in the future.

    Privatized profits versus socialized risk.

  35. “But man made global warming is not based on historical facts.”

    It absolutely is. Reality doesn’t change over time for both what we know and don’t know. The effects of greenhouse gases are the same here as throughout the universe and have always been and will always be true.

    Homo Sapiens are almost brand new to the planet. For most of the 200,000 years that we’ve been here we wandered and hunted and gathered whatever we stumbled over. We only figured out civilized things like permanent homes, planting and domestication of animals about 10,000 years ago. Since then the climate has been remarkably consistent and we took maximum advantage of that in putting down roots where we did.

    Before us climate changed drastically but typically slowly but we weren’t here to care. Those drastic changes were all caused naturally and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere always played a role. They have to if they change but things other than us initiated those changes.

    But now we are the cause of making our civilization maladapted to the climate that our actions are changing.

    We’re returning to the atmosphere carbon that’s been underground for more than 300,000,000 years. Guess what? It’s recreating the climate from back then.

  36. Ginny – “Is this something peculiar to conservatives?”

    Well, this is in a way, but not for the conservatives of JoAnn’s thrilling days of yesteryear (loved the reference).

    We have a problem with definitions. Traditional political philosophy divided the Left to Right spectrum into five parts: Radical, Liberal, Center, Conservative and Reactionary.
    We no longer use the term Reactionary (although it would often be more appropriate) and now use three categories: Progressive (which is Liberal and in popular lore the same as Radical), Center and Conservative.

    Most of the Progressives are Liberals while the Center is a mix of the old Center and many Conservatives. The reason for this is “label-drift”. As the Republican Party more deeply embraced its Southern Strategy and the whispered racism of Reagan (I think they use the term dog whistle), the Party drifted more to the Right and included more Reactionaries. Those previously viewed as Conservative began to define themselves as Center. On the other side, Bill Clinton represented the wing of the Democratic Party that wanted to shun Liberals, move to the Center and embrace pro-business policy. The media today seem to call that being a Liberal.

    Sorry for the long discourse – philosophy majors are like that. Today’s “Conservatives” are actually mostly “Reactionaries”. Both extremes, Radicals and Reactionaries, tend to be dogmatic, oblivious to facts — and generally lack a sense of humor. The Trotskyites and Maoists aren’t around much these days, so that leaves the “Conservatives”, as currently defined. Yes, there is something peculiar about them.

  37. Pete,
    When it comes to climate change, you are talking with people here who have learned a few talking points but who do not read and follow scientific literature. Now they may have read an isolated article by some guy who was paid off by the oil companies, but not any genuine attempt to comprehend what is going on in a systematic way. But as we all know, ideology trumps facts.

    These deniers do not understand that this is not just some political guy in the corner screaming “climate change”–like it’s some political issue for us to debate and vote on– but nearly all of the people in all the scientific disciplines across the globe–wide and deep. We are talking about tens of thousands of scientists in this “conspiracy”, basing their data on tens of thousands of independent studies which have examined the geology, biology, physics, chemistry of this problem, taking millions of measurements. It’s safe to say that the U.S. is the only first world nation that can say we have climate deniers. Sure, there are a few nuts around, but the rest of the world looks at us with awe.

    As you and every thinking person knows who is even vaguely familiar with the sciences, we are in serious trouble. There is no “debate”. They are no longer talking about what will happen at 4 degrees C. (7.2 degrees F.), but modeling the situation at 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 degrees. Climate change has already been responsible for the deaths of millions, but that is only the beginning.

    We are living in a time when those remaining will ask, “What were they thinking?” I just hope that those people will be able to hear the voices of the ones who serve as the watchman on the wall, warning that the hordes are approaching.

  38. Pete! I checked out you skeptical science website run operated by what esteemed scientist? Oh wait, he is not a scientist, he is a cartoonist! There are literally dozens of scientists who have responded to this site, but of course, they are just propagandists. I persist with my question–let’s reduce it to one! Why do you take the projections of those who said Manhattan would be under water by 2015 seriously? To quote a Pete quote, when the facts change, I change my opinion. Is global warming real? YES! Does mankind have an unfavorable effect? YES! Is the situation catastrophic? That is the part that we brainwashed skeptics are not accepting cuz Al Gore and a cartoonist say so.

  39. Ken; are you aware that Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize with a group of Swedish SCIENTISTS for their in-depth studies of Climate Change and Global Warming? Or that Al Gore won an Academy Award for his documentary film, “An Inconvenient Truth”?

  40. Ken, first of all who said that Manhatten would be under water in 2015? Specifics please.

    Of course if someone did say that they were too pessimistic. Manhatten was flooded in 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.

    The force behind skepticalscience.com is a PhD candidate at the university of Queenland, John Cook. Of course even if he was a cartoonist the words which you are apparently trying your best to avoid reading would have the same meaning to those who choose to read them. And every fact there can be researched and independently verified.

    So the people with all of the education and tools and organization to actually perform experiments and understand the results are being questioned by political entertainers started by Rush Limbaugh.

    Doesn’t seem like s fair fight to me.

  41. There is an aphorism in mental health, “Denial takes you through hell”, but denial will take you there, also. If someone cares, just a little bit, about what this planet will look like in 30 years, please read the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Not what some loony guy has written about it, but go to the report itself.

    Before you even read the first paragraph, look at the vast number of scientists who have contributed, and notice their qualifications, the range of institutions and the range of countries they represent. Then look at the references. Please notice that these are not just individual studies, but meta-analyses, which means studies based on dozens of other studies.

    If you decide to even read the first pages of the first chapter, you will notice that they want you to read this. Instead of reporting the p-values of statistics, they make it easy for you and use different language.

    Before you read anything, though, look at the table of contents. Notice that these folks talk about a range of areas, from the bottom of the sea to the clouds, from the ancient past to the present, the chemistry, the geology, the radioactivity, and virtually every aspect of the earth you can imagine.

    Once you have done a cursory check, hold that up against your talking points, how some pipsqueak had difficulty with how the temperature was recorded in 1970. Then consider the vast array of data and try to demean that with your ideology.

    This is the table of contents if you are interested:

    Observations: Atmosphere and Surface
    Observations: Ocean
    Observations: Cryosphere
    Information from Paleoclimate Archives
    Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles
    Clouds and Aerosols
    Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing
    Evaluation of Climate Models
    Detection and Attribution of Climate Change: from Global to Regional
    Near-term Climate Change: Projections and Predictability
    Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility
    Sea Level Change
    Climate Phenomena and their Relevance for Future Regional Climate Change

  42. Ken “Is the situation catastrophic?”

    What do you think humanity has to do by when to avoid catastrophe? Are we on track to do that? What’s your prediction of the number of years between 400ppm atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and a stable resulting climate? What are your precipitation distribution, sea level, and extreme weather predictions for that stable climate? At the present rate of adoption what % of current fossil fuel will be gone before we are completely converted to sustainable? What will that lead to in terms of global warming?

    When your “scientists” can replicate what the IPCC has done and you have gathered different data from theirs let’s talk.

  43. Ideology allows one to bypass the inconvenient details and questions that might compromise the ideology. Any thoughtful response to Pete’s questions might suggest the presence of intellectual honesty and awareness. Dunning-Kruger effect at work.

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