Global warming as a partisan issue

by Henry on August 27, 2007

One bit of the Snyder, Shapiro and Bloch-Elkon paper that I linked to last week was overshadowed by the discussion of the Iraq war. They report survey evidence saying that:

Since September 11, there is not only a wider gap between Republicans and Democrats across a broad range of foreign policy issues, but their views have moved in opposite directions in response to new information. In 1998, 31 percent of Republicans believed that the planet was warming, but by 2006
only 26% did, whereas Democrats increased from 39 to 46% and Independents from 31 to 45%.1

To my mind this suggests2 some interesting connections between new information, the dynamics of opinion change and partisanship. This same period saw an unmistakable convergence of scientific opinion, as many scientists who had previously been agnostic or skeptical came to accept mounting evidence that climate change was occurring. It also saw a clear convergence between Democratic voters and independents. But Republicans, if anything, would appear to have become less likely to believe strongly that climate change was happening during the same period. Either they weren’t getting the same information as scientists, Democrats and independents, or they were interpreting this information in different ways. My best guess (and I am not a public opinion specialist by any stretch of the imagination) is that two things are going on here. First, some Republicans are being exposed to different information than other voters, through talk radio, targeted mailings, frothing-at-the-mouth blogs and other media. Second, even those Republicans who aren’t (or who are only minimally exposed to this information) are increasingly coming to treat global warming as a partisan issue, where conceding that it is happening is in some sense giving ground to ‘the other side.’

1 A summary of the poll evidence is available in PDF form here.

2 The one proviso I have here, is that the summary only reports differences over whether Republicans, Democrats and Independents are ‘sure’ that global warming is happening. They don’t report differences over whether people with different partisan alignments think that global warming is ‘probably’ happening. If there aren’t major differences in the ‘probably happening’ figures, then obviously there is much less going on here.

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1

reason 08.27.07 at 3:39 pm

I wouldn’t discount the possibility that the Republicans in one survey aren’t the same as the Republicans in the next. Maybe fewer reasonable people want to be labelled Republicans.

2

roger 08.27.07 at 3:40 pm

The growth of a fact independent but robust rightwing information network has been overshadowed by the netroots celebrity – but it has a perhaps more powerful effect. When most Americans refer to the news from Iraq, for instance, they are referring to the NYT, Washington Post, the MSM. Those dissatisfied with the media’s performance on the anti-war side expand this to include the stories they can root out of such collectors of information as Factiva and Lexis-Nexis. On the right, however, they now swear by Michael Totten and Michael Yon – names unknown in the mainstream. The various comic tours of the frong of war propagandists like Michelle Malkin now fill the pro-war diet, so much so that even Bush, admitting that mistakes were made in Iraq, is to the left of the true believer network. There are two models for this – one of course is the concerted, hundred year old evangelical effort to combat Darwinism; the other was invented by the cigarette companies in the fifties, when epidemiological evidence came out showing the causal link between smoking and cancer. The cigarette companies hired a p.r. firm that designed a unique news spin format in which they deliberately seeded the public sphere with misinformation under the guise of claiming that there were ‘two sides’ to the ‘scientific controversy.’ In a sense, they invented the media politics that is now mainstream. Allan Brandt’s recent The Cigarette Century brilliantly describes how this was done. It was, in fact, a huge success, and puts in question Mill’s idea that the marketplace of ideas tends towards the truth. In fact, from the time it was discovered that cigarettes were carcinogenic at the beginning of the fifties to the end of the sixties, the average number of cigarettes smoked in America actually increased considerably. Of course, you can only play with the truth so far: 450,000 of the people who took up the cigarette habit then, when the ‘debate’ was ongoing as to whether or not they caused cancer, die of lung cancer each year. Death is a great truth-maker.

3

rea 08.27.07 at 4:39 pm

In 1998, 31 percent of Republicans believed that the planet was warming, but by 2006
only 26% did

Could this simply an artifact of people leaving the Republican party, rather than involving anyone actually beleiving in global warming in ’98, but changing their mind over the ensuing 8 years?

4

Ginger Yellow 08.27.07 at 5:03 pm

Obviously the different reality that you get from Fox or Limbaugh is going to have an effect, but I think it’s just as much a function of the nature of the modern Republican coalition. The main thing that holds it together isn’t a positive shared vision, especially since Iraq and the immigration fiasco, but a hatred of liberals and liberalism. The right has been increasingly painting academia, science and climate change science in particular as fundamentally liberal in recent years, so it’s no surprise that more Republicans would turn against it.

5

Shelby 08.27.07 at 5:40 pm

Roger,

Anyone seriously interested in what’s actually occurring in Iraq does need to be reading Michael Totten and Michael Yon — as well as, not instead of, the New York Times. They’ve produed a great deal of ground-level reporting as good as, and often better than, anyone else in Iraq. Moreover, anyone reading them knows they are far from uncritical supporters of Bush administration policy in Iraq.

Perhaps more to the point, neither of them is on the climate-change beat. Or tobacco or evolution, for that matter.

6

Quo Vadis 08.27.07 at 5:44 pm

The problem is that since the time Bush formed his policy on Kyoto, the issue has become intensely politicized. Politicizing an issue is guaranteed to produce an intransigent opposition no matter what the issue or whose interests are served.

7

nick s 08.27.07 at 6:25 pm

I’d go with the ‘1998 Republicans != 2006 Republicans’ explanation. Not least because I’m sure that there are a few yoostabees in the 2006 crowd who have recanted on evolution too.

8

Walt 08.27.07 at 6:27 pm

Reason’s point (also made by rea) is brilliant. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s extremely clever.

9

Randolph Fritz 08.27.07 at 7:40 pm

“…increasingly coming to treat global warming as a partisan issue…”

It’s been one since the 1990s–where have you been? Don’t you remember Earth in the Balance?

10

Steve LaBonne 08.27.07 at 8:00 pm

How can a matter of vital public concern, which one party refuses to acknowledge as such (and even goes so far as to make systematic efforts to deny its existence), NOT become a partisan issue? To complain about this is to attend to the symptom, not the cause. The real question is how so-called conservatives came to have such contempt for the truth.

11

Grand Moff Texan 08.27.07 at 9:02 pm

The insertion of an energy-industry-linked administration into the White House would explain the polarization, and said administration’s constant resort to science censorship would explain the confusion.

This is the doubt their sponsors have paid for, and the ignorance registers most clearly among their accustomed audience.
.

12

Quo Vadis 08.27.07 at 9:12 pm

Steve @10,

I’m not aware that the Republican party has an officially stated position on global warming. I am aware that the issue is often framed as a political issue, but I contend that while such a framing may be useful for political purposes, it is unnecessary and counter-productive to the end of addressing global warming.

13

Slocum 08.27.07 at 9:21 pm

It will be a partisan issue even when/if as many Republicans as Democrats agree about the warming phenomenon itself because what (if anything) to do about it is more a political question than a scientific one.

14

John Quiggin 08.27.07 at 9:34 pm

There was a survey of rightwing blogs (including quite a few written by academics) not long ago that produced a 68-0 vote in favour of GW delusionism, with only a handful of abstentions. I doubt that the same set of people would have produced such a unanimous result ten years ago. Opinion inside the rightwing bubble has hardened. No one can now be a Republican without at least tacitly assenting to a wholesale rejection of science.

15

Steve LaBonne 08.27.07 at 9:53 pm

slocum- what to do about it is and should be a partisan issue in a democracy. What we’re talking about here is attempts to deny reality, which shouldn’t be.

16

Slocum 08.27.07 at 10:18 pm

No one can now be a Republican without at least tacitly assenting to a wholesale rejection of science.

Really?

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, insisting he is “100 percent committed” to running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, wooed Silicon Valley’s tech leaders Monday — saying he “definitely” believes in global warming, praising Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for being a “progressive” leader on the environment.

And then there’s:

McCain raps Bush on global warming

Not Republicans?

On the other hand, there’s Fred Thompson. But even Thompson is not rejecting science (wholesale or otherwise), but using a scientific argument. A bogus scientific argument, perhaps, but it’s clearly not a wholesale rejection of science as a way of understanding the world.

To be honest, though, I’m not convinced it will really make much difference, with respect to global warming, if a Democrat rather than Republican wins in 2008. With all the populist, protectionist, China-bashing rhetoric coming from Democrats, I don’t see any way that Democrats are going to commit the U.S. to mandatory emissions limits while giving China a free pass. And that concern, of course, was why the Clinton administration didn’t submit Kyoto for ratification at the time.

17

James 08.27.07 at 11:04 pm

I was always under the impression that the political divide on this issue was 1. rhetoric only and 2. concerning how much was anthropomorphic in cause.

1. The Kyoto accords where going to be squashed by the Senate. From memory the two related votes where 95-0 and 98-1 against any type of pollution related treaty containing economic restrictions.
2. The questions do not seem to specify natural or man made causes. Since this issue has become common, many respondents may have assumed all references to global warming refer to specifically increases in temperatures caused by human effects.

Side note: Any time I see a quote like “since 86 evangelical leaders…” it says me the reporter is ignorant about most of the information that follows. They might as well have written “a few people associated with a recognizable group we know nothing about…”

18

John Quiggin 08.27.07 at 11:10 pm

#16. Sad to say, McCain has supported teaching intelligent design in schools, and (AFAICT) Giuliani has stayed silent. Opposition to science is so deeply embedded in the Republican base that it’s just about impossible to take an overtly pro-science position across the board, even for a maverick like McCain.

#17 The most recent vote was on McCain-Lieberman and was 55-43. Continued reliance on the 1997 Byrd amendment is a standard delusionist theme, and its striking how many of the pro-Republican commenters here are pushing it.

19

Shelby 08.27.07 at 11:40 pm

John Quiggin:
There was a survey of rightwing blogs
Can you provide a link, please? I’m curious about the sites selected and the criteria for “GW delusionism”.

Also, is Bush no longer a Republican in good standing? (For purposes of your statement that No one can now be a Republican without at least tacitly assenting to a wholesale rejection of science, I mean.) The Guardian reported on July 6, 2005 that “The US president, George Bush, today acknowledged that human activity contributed to global warming as he prepared to debate climate change with other G8 leaders.” I’ve got plenty of science-related differences with Bush and the Republican leadership, but doesn’t this undercut your “GW delusionism” statement?

20

John Quiggin 08.27.07 at 11:58 pm

Here’s your link. It was actually 59-0, against the question “Do you think mankind is the primary cause of global warming?” (“Don’t Know” is the weakest delusionist position that can muster even one putatively reputable scientist to support it).

Bush occasionally says something halfway respectable for international audiences, while his Administration pushes delusionism at home. If you haven’t seen the numerous stories about Bush appointees suppressing science on this and other topics, I’m sure you can find them.

21

Slocum 08.28.07 at 12:13 am

Opposition to science is so deeply embedded in the Republican base that it’s just about impossible to take an overtly pro-science position across the board, even for a maverick like McCain.

But not taking “an overtly pro-science position across the board” is nowhere close to assenting to a “wholesale rejection of science”. The fundiest of the fundies don’t reject science wholesale — they reject it only in specific domains (evolution specifically, and also climate change).

The most recent vote was on McCain-Lieberman and was 55-43. Continued reliance on the 1997 Byrd amendment is a standard delusionist theme, and its striking how many of the pro-Republican commenters here are pushing it.

But McCain-Lieberman was another U.S. going-it-alone approach. Had it been passed it would, of course, have been amenable to whatever exceptions and/or adjustments that congressmen could obtain for favored industries in their districts. It’s certainly not tantamount to a 53-47 vote to ratify Kyoto (and bind the U.S. to international agreements that would put it at a competitive disadvantage with respect to China).

I fully expect that a Democratic congress and administration will pay all kinds of lip-service to global warming and pass climate change legislation, but I expect it will be full of exceptions and loopholes or be stupid (CAFE standards) or even downright counterproductive bordering on evil (more money for corn ethanol).

I’ll ignore the ‘delusionist’ slur except to note that I voted for Gore. He kind of creeped me out at the time (still does) but I voted for him anyway (hoping that his red-faced populism was a stupid act). I find both the likely nominees (Clinton and Giuliani) worrisome for various reasons, but when it comes down to it, I’ll probably vote Hillary.

But I just couldn’t let the “wholesale rejection of science” remark pass — that’s a pretty basic delusion misunderstanding of even the most conservative of evangelicals. At the time this was first passed around:

http://objectiveministries.org/creation/sciencefair.html

I saw it because it was forwarded by academic scientists of my acquaintance who were totally taken in and were convinced it was genuine rather than a hoax (in fact, it wasn’t that they considered but rejected the idea that it was a hoax — the idea didn’t even occur to them). Obviously, they were quite prepared to believe pretty much anything about the hilarious stupidity of those yokels.

22

John Quiggin 08.28.07 at 12:35 am

I agree that McCain-Lieberman wasn’t Kyoto. But clearly it’s a lot more relevant than a vote taken 10 years ago. And, to be clear, there’s nothing in Kyoto which prohibits loopholes, exemptions, pork-barrel deals and so forth. That would be too much to ask, as you say.

As regards “wholesale rejection”, the point is not that those who practice it disagree with the findings of science on every point, but that they don’t accept science as a process.

I saw the Objective Ministries thing a while ago. I particularly enjoyed the attack on Triclavianism.

23

tired of blogs 08.28.07 at 3:19 am

While it doesn’t deal with environmental issues (so far as I remember), John Zaller’s “Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion” is very instructive as to how voters and citizens with varying levels of information and partisanship respond to informational cues provided by the media and their party’s leaders.

24

SG 08.28.07 at 3:26 am

46% of democrats and Independents? This suggests the problem is much broader than just the Republican party…

25

Keir 08.28.07 at 4:30 am

Science isn’t a buffet; if you pick and choose, that’s not science. The position might accord with the scientific position, but it isn’t the scientific position, because it hasn’t been reached in a scientific manner.

Epistemology ftw!

26

bi 08.28.07 at 5:18 am

Slocum:

What’s so hoaxy about that? If it’s indeed a hoax, it sure is hard to tell — because it’s been scientifically proven that real people can be even more stupid.

27

bad Jim 08.28.07 at 6:59 am

Cognitive dissonance alone will impel most commuting suburbanites to reject the thought that their AC or their SUV is something they ought to give up. What public could be expected to embrace the idea that nearly everything they do is wrong?

Add to that sort of ‘common sense’ the substantial portion of the Republican base inclined to the belief that the condition of the earth is irrelevant, since the end is near.

Either tendency may skew the results of polls.

28

Mrs Tilton 08.28.07 at 8:34 am

Slocum @21,

on a strict reading, you’re right. Not even the worst sort of Republican rejects science wholesale. For example, I have never yet heard a Republican argue that the law of gravity is wrong.

That said, Republican antiscientism covers more ground than just evolution/warming (though yes, those are the high notes that just about all of them hit). They do seem to have pretty much abandoned their “smoking doesn’t cause cancer” efforts[1], but ironically you still hear a lot of DDT mythicism — myths that were apparently invented on behalf of the tobacco lobby to cast doubt on the smoking/cancer connection! You still hear all the time that Plan B emergency contraception is an abortifacient. The crack team of medical experts that is the Republican congressional caucus knew better than those neurologists who had merely actually examined Terry Schiavo. In one amusing incident, a college drop-out Bush appointee ordered government scientists to refer to the Big Bang as “only a theory”. (Which, BTW, is technically true; but the Bushoid didn’t understand what “theory” means to scientists any more than do creationists who claim evolution is “only a theory”, as though that were a bad thing.) There was even one website I saw a couple of months ago that argued against heliocentrism (and no, I don’t mean Blogs4Brownback); though granted, that site was manifestly at the extreme edge of the conservative/religious whacko spectrum even by Republican standards.

Now, I would agree with you if you complained that many, and perhaps even most, Republicans do not hold all of these positions. But they’re out there. I don’t think Republicans take (or pander to) anti-science positions on general principle. But when scientific evidence threatens an important corporate or financial interest, or runs counter to an important point of religious fundamentalist dogma, then yes, you will find Republicans attacking the science.

Thanks, BTW, for that anecdote about scientists being duped by the Objective! Ministries site. We’ve all heard, I’m sure, about the fundies hoodwinked by that Harry Potter article in The Onion; it’s healthy to be reminded that any of us can be taken in. In the scientists’ defence, though, I have to say that Objective! is singularly well-done (it’s vastly better than Landover Baptist, for example). It is the very best sort of parody, taking the actual positions of those it mocks and giving them only the slightest wee nudge into absurdity. At a guess, about 80%-90% of what you read on Objective! could have come (and very possibly did come) from real fundamentalist/creationist websites.

[1] BTW, in the interest of fairness, I would not be surprised to learn that Democrats from the tobacco-producing states also put their shoulders to the wheel on this one, back when those states still routinely elected Democrats. What I don’t think was the case, though, is that Democratic politicians and opinion-makers carried the tobacco companies’ water on a nationwide, partywide basis. I will stand happily corrected if I am wrong on this.

29

engels 08.28.07 at 9:09 am

I have never yet heard a Republican argue that the law of gravity is wrong

Not as such, but it’s only a matter of time before they start spreading rumours about Galileo’s sex life.

30

wissen 08.28.07 at 9:16 am

This is depressing. Deckchairs on the Titanic, anyone?

31

bi 08.28.07 at 10:33 am

engels:

Isn’t Galileo the guardian angel of all nonconformist scientists?

I’m beginning to suspect — judging from

– how Slocum talks about a “bogus scientific argument” (what’s that?)
– how he mentions Objective! to, I don’t know, slam scientists?
– how Werner Gitt keeps using the word “theorem” wrongly (*)

…that Republicans see science not as a rigorous process of hypothesis formulation and falsification, but as some sort of arcane process involving Greek and Latinate terms, Qabbalah-like graphs and charts, impressive-looking mathematical formulas, and magic pixie dust.

32

bi 08.28.07 at 10:34 am

(*) Well, you see: Evolution is only a theory. Creationism is a _theorem_. Where, well, a “theorem” is a sort of theory, except with more gravitas. Or maybe a “theorem” is an “empirical principle”, which is… whatever.

33

Thom Brooks 08.28.07 at 11:29 am

I agree entirely with [1], but perhaps we might also say that the party of God (or, more accurately, ‘GOP’) is not a party that lets facts get in the way of believe. Not unlike with evangelical apologetics, GOP apologetics have a view (e.g., there is no climate change happening) and the party faithful are expected to rally around this view, dreaming up ever more crazy arguments in support of the view. Here the focus is not on the best arguments, but only the best to give support for a view held primarily by faith.

34

Matt McIrvin 08.28.07 at 12:15 pm

Just yesterday, I overheard a bunch of guys chortling over lunch about the unreality of global warming–lots of talk about natural ten-thousand-year cycles, repeated emphasis on stuff “the world’s most brilliant scientists” can’t figure out, and prominent mention of the new “1934 was the hottest year on record” factoid (true only for the US and not terribly relevant at that). There’s a powerful, powerful tide to swim against here.

35

Slocum 08.28.07 at 12:16 pm

bi: What’s so hoaxy about that? If it’s indeed a hoax, it sure is hard to tell.

Thanks for reinforcing my point. Actually, it’s not at all hard to tell if you have any relevant experience. I also have a friend who teaches at a K-12 school of a domination that is officially creationist:

http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=4886http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=4886

One of his duties has been to organize science fairs. So what do those science fairs look like? Pretty much exactly like any other elementary, middle-school science fair. His complaints (that judges seem to reward flashy displays rather than sound use of the scientific method) are complaints that could be leveled at many science fairs.

When you think about it, how many 6th graders anywhere do science experiments that address the age of the universe or the evolution of species (and don’t say, “fruit flies” — creationists accept genetic change at that level).

Here’s the Biology web page of the local Missouri Synod college:

http://www.cuaa.edu/admissions/?d_id=535

Can you spot the wholesale rejection of science? Me neither. I would be interesting to sit in on the first day of the “BIO344 Evolution” course there though, wouldn’t it?

John Quiggin: As regards “wholesale rejection”, the point is not that those who practice it disagree with the findings of science on every point, but that they don’t accept science as a process.

But the fundamentalists don’t reject science as a process — which is why they go to all the trouble and expense of trying to set up their own institutes and establish the bona fides of their experts (e.g. Michael Behe). It’s a sad, futile effort, but one you only make if you do accept the authority of science.

What would it look like to reject science as a process? As it happens, we do have a good, recent example on the left. I’m talking about the PoMo ideas that science has no special authority, that there is no objective truth, and that power relations are what matter (the powerful dictate what is ‘truth’ and what is not). That is what a wholesale rejection of science looks like. Those people certainly didn’t bother to set up their own quasi-scientific institutes to push their own theories — rather, they rejected the whole process (what would a PoMo science fair be like, I wonder)

Mrs Tilton: But when scientific evidence threatens an important corporate or financial interest, or runs counter to an important point of religious fundamentalist dogma, then yes, you will find Republicans attacking the science.

Yes, and you will find the same phenomenon on the left. Consider the anti-vaccination ‘crusades’. Or…do you think, at this point, there is any possible scientific evidence that would convince lefty critics of ‘frankenfood’ that GM crops are safe for consumption?

36

Barry 08.28.07 at 12:23 pm

Note, for those who don’t know it – Galileo was a mainstream science. Partially because he altered the mainstream, of course. He was persecuted by the religious authorities for fear of the theological implications of his science. The religious authorities’ pet scientists (think-tankers, TCS/AEI/CEI prostitutes) because the religious authorities told them to, and because they were jealous of Galileo’s work.

In short, the analog for Galileo is regular science and scientists; the ‘Church’ would be creationists and their junk scientists.

37

bi 08.28.07 at 1:47 pm

Slocum:

“Thanks for reinforcing my point.”

What was your point again? Did you have a point? Maybe your point is that every scientist should go to at least one science fair?

“But the fundamentalists don’t reject science as a process — which is why they go to all the trouble and expense of trying to set up their own institutes and establish the bona fides of their experts (e.g. Michael Behe).”

Which part of that has anything to do with the “process” of science again?

= = =

Barry:

“In short, the analog for Galileo is regular science and scientists; the ‘Church’ would be creationists and their junk scientists.”

Great point.

38

Grand Moff Texan 08.28.07 at 2:17 pm

Or…do you think, at this point, there is any possible scientific evidence that would convince lefty critics of ‘frankenfood’ that GM crops are safe for consumption?

False analogy. No one eats evolution, and the history of new food industry technologies is littered with sick and dead people.

In fact, your whole “both sides do it” nonsense would require that we not be able to tell the difference between a handful of carping lefties to the power of the White House. Likewise, it is not significant that a bunch of scientists fell for a science fair hoax when the press daily holds up stories about Jesus in a ham sandwich, etc. Anything can be believed. Belief is cheap.

The American right is dependent on a dead-end demographic that is desperate for someone to give them relevance. I don’t think that Republican politicians, on the whole, want their children to be left ignorant by those who teach superstition instead of science, but they sure do hire such idiots and they depend on their votes. Consider the reach of Regent University in the present administration and the GOP’s use of a position on abortion that is supported by less than 15% of the population (but which maps very well on the electoral college). Most of America is smart enough to tell the difference between a baby and a blastocyst, but a politically useful portion of it isn’t.

So it does not matter that we can find non-idiots among the Republican elite. I would expect that from the unholy alliance of the white-collar Republicans and the white-trash Republicans. In fact, it reminds me of Zimbabwe.

As with Karl Rove’s recent pretense of religion, the MO of right-wing politics in America has been the exploitation of the epistemological nihilism of the creationist impulse. All science and academia, all education are said to “hate” traditional America (whatever that is) and push liberalism (whatever that is). Without it, the last twenty years of Republican dominance would have been impossible. You can’t swing a dead cat in American politics without hitting some dumb goober who’s hiding in a spider-hole built by a former tobacco lawyer. Consider the responses to this article.

Any ideology can produce zealots who feel entitled to their own facts. But this distinctly American model of quasi-third-world demagoguery is built around a particular cultural idiom. From opinion polls to cosmogeny, the willful ignorance remains the same.
.

39

Grand Moff Texan 08.28.07 at 2:28 pm

Which part of that has anything to do with the “process” of science again?

What fundamentalists reject is naturalism, i.e., that there are natural laws that govern phenomena. For them, there also has to be a supernaturalism in order to allow for their metaphysics.

But they also reject what they see as the consequences of science, by which they mean a society that looks less and less like their notion of the past, a notion of the past that is further complicated by their rejection of any historiography that does not reinforce their notion of a past that was more “moral” than this one.

In short, it’s Darwin’s fault that their present doesn’t look like a past that never was. In this, they are prisoners of a tautology. Darwin is blamed for the ills of their society, because they (being “moral” people) couldn’t possibly be responsible for the bible-belt’s high divorce and teen pregnancy rates.

Science, therefore, isn’t just a boogeyman, it’s a blame-sink.
.

40

Mrs Tilton 08.28.07 at 2:28 pm

Slocum @35,

is the Democratic party in the US, as an institution, really on an anti-vaccination crusade? If so, I clearly am not paying sufficient attention to the Mighty Democratic Wurlitzer.

(The impression I have, BTW, is that the vaccination issue is championed primarily by a specific subset of the parents of autistic children, quite without regard to those parents’ political affiliations. My children are not autistic, thank goodness; but my nephew is, and that sort of story tends to catch my eye.)

GM food is a very big issue where I live, it’s true; but then, neither Democrats nor Republicans figure prominently in the legislative process here. Are Democrats — again, as an institution, meaning their politicians, opinion-makers and fund-providers as a group; not merely Dennis Kucinich and the subscriber base of the Utne Reader — really keeping GM food off American markets?

Sure, Democrats can be silly. (As can “the Left” that you mention, which is not the same thing.) But Democrats as a group simply do not display the large-scale, pervasive antiscientism of the modern Republican party.

41

Grand Moff Texan 08.28.07 at 2:32 pm

and prominent mention of the new “1934 was the hottest year on record” factoid (true only for the US and not terribly relevant at that).

Actually, it’s not even true for the US. NASA’s own guidelines require a temperature differential of 0/1 degree C or more. 1934 averages out to 0.02 degrees C hotter than 1998, so it’s a “record” only in the “minds” of those who similarly think the US is all the world.
.

42

Sebastian Holsclaw 08.28.07 at 2:33 pm

“In fact, your whole “both sides do it” nonsense would require that we not be able to tell the difference between a handful of carping lefties to the power of the White House.”

Since the analogy was with the anti-GM people (mostly in Europe) I’m surprised to find that they don’t have enough power to push their agenda in Europe. They’ve been very successful for a group with little to no power?

The interesting thing for me to note is that we still haven’t gotten to the place where even a majority of Democrats believe the globe is warming. What’s up with that? Even I believe the globe is warming. I just have relatively serious disagreements about what to do about it.

43

James 08.28.07 at 2:41 pm

There seems to be a misunderstanding of the concerning the “opposition” to science among either party. For example, the left in the US insists that everyone believe that genetics can cause predispositions to certain activities (homosexuality, males or more violent) except when politically incorrect (men tend to be better at math and science). The same science with the same amount of evidence takes you both places.

44

engels 08.28.07 at 2:44 pm

Sebastian – You are comparing apples with oranges. If Europeans don’t want to eat your frankenfoods that’s up to them. Reducing CO2 emissions otoh requires international co-operation.

45

Katherine 08.28.07 at 2:50 pm

James is also comparing apples with oranges. It’s a whole fruit market!

46

bi 08.28.07 at 2:53 pm

James: What’s this “science”, what’s this “evidence”, you speak of? Any citations?

Sebastian Holsclaw: What, global warming isn’t an issue outside of America?

= = =

Grand Moff Texan:

“What fundamentalists reject is naturalism …”

Maybe, but that’s not exactly how I see it. It seems to me what fundamentalists reject about “science” is precisely its core tenets of falsifiability, verifiability, reproducibility. Instead of making sure that their “scientific” theories are falsifiable, that they can be verified independently of the claimant, they pretty much rely on authority-worship — by setting up their own Ivory Towers with their own teams of Experts. The result is that their “scientific” method functions pretty much just like another religious church.

47

bi 08.28.07 at 2:56 pm

(So, it’s probably not that surprising that fundamentalists believe that Science Is Just Another Religion. Well, clearly one’ll see science as a religion _if_ one treats it like a religion in the first place…)

48

Slocum 08.28.07 at 4:52 pm

Maybe, but that’s not exactly how I see it. It seems to me what fundamentalists reject about “science” is precisely its core tenets of falsifiability, verifiability, reproducibility.

Fundamentalists don’t reject science in general — if they did, their lives would be so much easier. They could simply declare that science was an invalid way of understanding the world God created and that the only legitimate knowledge is the literal word of God found in the Bible (which is roughly the approach of the Maddrassas that teach nothing but rote memorization of the Koran).

But American fundamentalists don’t do that. They are empiricists when it comes to most things (say, the periodic table, or subatomic particles, or the design of airplanes, or the treatment of infectious diseases). It is only when science impinges on deeply held religious beliefs that their empiricism gives way. And even then, they often try to use empirical arguments (e.g. “nobody’s ever produced a new species in the lab”, or “evolution is just a ‘theory’ because it about the past and you can’t do controlled experiments”). These arguments are bogus, yes, but they’re bogus scientific arguments rather than bogus religious arguments.

And you will find that, on the left, skepticism of science and experts rises when it conflicts with deeply held beliefs — for example, there is much resistance to accepting that there is no scientific proof that organic foods are healthier or more nutritious than conventional foods.

And it’s not as if we even want to get to a situation where the word of scientists and other experts is accepted at face value in general. Not only are individual scientists often spectacularly wrong, but the scientific consensus is sometimes spectacularly wrong, and for a very long time. And I’m not talking about alchemy — during the first half of the 20th century, for example, experimental Psych was dominated by the behaviorists who were certain human behavior could be accounted for by stimulus-response learning, and social Psych was dominated by Freudian theory which has virtually no empirical foundation. It took decades for these paradigms to be overthrown.

The post-modernists weren’t entirely wrong — science does produce closer approximations of the truth over time, but it’s a messy process. There are fads and periods where progress runs in reverse (a university psych student in 1895 probably got a better education than one studying in 1935). And power does matter. There are powerful figures who defend their theories and turf tenaciously and it is a risk to cross them. Scientific progress probably depends quite a lot on the fact that the mandarins eventually retire and die.

49

EthanS 08.28.07 at 4:53 pm

Selection Bias?

From 1998 to 2006 (the linked surveys, unless otherwise noted):

1) Total number answering they are “extremely sure” or “very sure” [GW] “has been happening” has increased 34% to 38%.

2) Total number answering that GW “probably” “has been happening” has increased 80% to 85%.

3) GOP party ID in 1998 was around 27%, with Dem and Ind. ID both at about 33% each. As of March 2006, GOP party ID had declined to – 28%, with Dem 33% and Ind. 34%. (from ABC News, Mystery Pollster)

What can we conclude?

1. We don’t know the party breakdown in the surveys that form the bases of these GW opinion comparisons. According to Mystery Pollster, ABC does NOT weight by party ID, only by demographics. If you decompose the numbers in the 2006 survey, you find that the number of Republicans in the sample is nearly 40% – too high for a nationally representative sample at that time.

2. The net number of people that have actually switched parties between the surveys is low. By 2006, Dem ID is almost identical to 1998. Independents strongly moved to the GOP following Sept 11, and subsequently drifted back to Ind with the failures of the Bush Admin. (esp. after 2005), leaving GOP ID with a statistically insignificant net gain.

3. Compared to a total rise in GW support of 5%, Dem support is largely unchanged, (only +2%). Ind support is +10% and GOP support is -10% – suggesting that the shifts are driven largely by migrations between the GOP and Independent ranks.

4. Demographic selection bias? Is there any reason to suppose that even if the total partisan split in the country remains similar, the composition of the parties has changed? Obviously, lots of older New Deal-Boomer democrats who were alive in 1998 are dead. Eight years also means that the entire 18-26 demographic group is new voters. Young adults are more likely agree that GW is a serious problem. Minority populations have also grown faster than the population as a whole, and they also lean Dem.

Many people have moved into or out of a party as well, drifting into or out of the ranks of the Independents. Individual DemGOP moves are much more rare, especially since Southern whites have mostly finished their allegiance shift. As Democrats have experienced a youth boom, lots of middle-age white boomers have moved to the right. Perhaps this group, even as Dems or Inds was always more skeptical of GW, so that their drift to the right (esp after 9-11) has brought GW skeptics to the GOP?

5. Epistemological Selection Bias? Perhaps we are seeing, even more than demographics, a split in epistemology. The GOP has simply attracted more of those who are disinclined to believe GW because they are more broadly skeptical of science or government or or environmentalists or international institutions.

6. This might also be the 27% Crazification Factor.

50

Grand Moff Texan 08.28.07 at 5:15 pm

Since the analogy was with the anti-GM …

There were more problems with that particular portion of his false-analogy fallacy than that.
.

51

Grand Moff Texan 08.28.07 at 5:18 pm

The same science with the same amount of evidence takes you both places.

“Same science”? Even as a mere humanities Ph.D., even I can tell that different causal mechanisms are proposed.

What’s will all the false analogies in the service of argumentum ad medium fallacies? Did I just not get the memo?

Thanks, Engels. We’ll keep saying it until he pays attention.
.

52

Barry 08.28.07 at 5:33 pm

Slocum, fundamentalists do reject *science*; they accept (certain aspects of) *technology*. This was a notable phenomenon in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia; both regimes were madly in love with technology, especially military technology, but didn’t like the essentials of science. This was because those essentials (empiricism, respect for data, verification, etc.) were threats to those regimes.

53

James 08.28.07 at 6:33 pm

grand moff texan: The field is Behavioral Genetics. The accuracy it provides in prediction of human behavior based on genetic predisposition tends to be lacking. This has not stopped groups from using the various theories as the “scientific truth” that proves a position. Thus demonstrating the idea that both parties accept something as “science” if it supports pre-held beliefs and decrying the same level of “science” from the same field when it does not match said beliefs.

A global warming example: An experiment demonstrating that adding carbon dioxide to an enclosed environmental system causes a rise in temperature is a scientific test. A computer model demonstrating that adding carbon dioxide to an enclosed environmental system causes a rise in temperature is not a scientific test.

54

Grand Moff Texan 08.28.07 at 7:40 pm

grand moff texan: The field is Behavioral Genetics.

That’s nice, but there’s also the difference between pre-natal development (especially in the middle ear) with reference to orientation and the social forces that shape pursuits by gender. The arguments have rather broad bases and they’re completely different.

And even if there really is this debate within behavioral genetics using the same models and coming to different conclusions (which would be news to me), that tiny and rarified debate hardly resembles the kind of hardened ignorance-as-entitlement in American politics that we were talking about here, not in location, scale, or content.

So, so far those trying to push the “everyone does it” line haven’t ventured much beyond playing dumb about the differences between chalk and cheese.
.

55

bi 08.28.07 at 7:40 pm

James:

“The field is Behavioral Genetics.”

Any specific paper?

56

bi 08.28.07 at 7:45 pm

“And it’s not as if we even want to get to a situation where the word of scientists and other experts is accepted at face value in general.”

Whoever said that? It’s the “let’s treat science as a religion so we can call it a religion” mindset all over again. And it’s silly.

57

bi 08.28.07 at 8:23 pm

Thing is, to the fundamentalist, Science(tm) equals

= Giant Cathedrals (e.g. Discovery Institute), and
= High Priests (e.g. Michael Behe), and
= lots of genuflecting.

And in their practice of “science”, the High Priests make proclamations from on high, while the Acolytes listen unquestioningly and parrot their lines of “argument” to the rest of the world.

And… empirical arguments? Are you referring to the Omphalos argument? Or the Pascal’s Wager argument? Or the “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!” argument? As far as I can tell, fundamentalists happily use these arguments alongside the more “empirical” arguments. (And yes, all of them are perfectly Scientific(tm)! The High Scientific(tm) Priests said so!)

Again, those who keep making a big fuss over how “science is just a religion” tend to be those who precisely _want_ to practise science as if it’s a religion. It’s as a clear-cut a case of projection as one can find.

58

John Quiggin 08.28.07 at 8:36 pm

James is giving us a pretty good guide to the kind of anti-science thinking prominent on the non-fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party.

Delusionist on anthropomorphic GW (see #17, point 2) and excessively credulous on claims about the existence of a simple genetic basis for all kinds of behavior.

59

engels 08.28.07 at 11:56 pm

Not one to let the facts get in the way of a good argument iirc, James has gone so far as to maintain in previous threads that the US does not recognise international law. It would seem that the enemy against which people like James are battling is not just science but expert knowledge in general.

60

engels 08.29.07 at 12:40 am

As for Slocum: does anyone still take Slocum seriously? I could take issue with his silly claim that the science of psychology regressed in the first four decades of the twentieth century–which illustrates as well as anything the tendency of American “conservatives” to evaluate intellectual achievements through the prism of their ideological obsessions (Freud is reviled as much as Marie Stopes, and for more-or-less the same reasons)–or his ignorant suggestion that “the madrasahs… teach nothing but rote memorisation of the Koran” but, really, what’s the point? Were the trolls on this blog always this bad?

61

John Quiggin 08.29.07 at 12:47 am

I think the real problem is the one noted in the post, that Republicans as a group have become steadily more detached from reality, decency and the world as a whole. That’s pretty much a constant theme on left/liberal/progressive/independent blogs these days.

If you don’t want to concede it, as slocum clearly doesn’t, you’re left with the alternatives of saying that the Republican position is actually right or denying that there is in fact a substantial difference between Republicans and everybody else. To his credit, slocum is attempting the second rather than the first.

Shorter comment #61: It’s hard to be a good Repub troll these days.

62

Quo Vadis 08.29.07 at 1:48 am

engles @59

It would seem that the enemy against which people like James are battling is not just science but expert knowledge in general.

I don’t think that this problem is unique to James. It is not so much a disdain for expert knowledge, as it is a disdain for any expert who’s knowledge conflicts with one’s own preconceived conclusions. Any expert who does so is written off as a godless heathen, a mindless tree-hugger, or a soulless corporate tool.

63

Nell 08.29.07 at 1:58 am

As an anti-GM foods lefty, and given some of the pre-emptive distancing by other commenters here, I’d like to call out slocum’s dishonest slam:

is [there] any possible scientific evidence that would convince lefty critics of ‘frankenfood’ that GM crops are safe for consumption?

The primary argument against genetically modified crops is not that they’re not safe for consumption, but the adverse ecological and economic effects of their rapid adoption over huge acreages with hardly any testing and no safeguards or liability for the dangers on the part of the companies promoting and profiting from them.

Concerns include but are not liminted to:

contamination of non-GM crops,

speedup of resistance and killing of non-target insects (for crops incorporating a pesticide, like Bt),

unintended consequences of massive and repeated use of broad-spectrum herbicide (on ‘Roundup-Ready’ GM crops),

further concentration and strengthening of the corporate ag giants relative to farmers.

Almost none of the most serious concerns have anything to do with the safety of the crops themselves for consumption (though there is some basis for concern about GM corn and allergies).

I’ll grant you the term ‘frankenfood’ is used by grassroots, non-scientist anti-GM campaigners, and that the connotations are that there’s something unhealthy or unnatural about the GM crops themselves. But that’s politics, eh? It’s pretty hard to come up with a catchy term that captures the unhappy and likely irreversible effects of GM crops on the world’s already diminishing genetic ‘bank’ of food crops.

64

SG 08.29.07 at 3:00 am

following up on Nell’s comment, and just a little reality check here, anti-GM jiggery pokery is also common on the right. Nexus for example, the UK Independence Party, and grassroots farmers organisations which are often agrarian socialist, i.e. supporters of right wing social policies and economic protectionism. These people are often only left-wing inasmuch as they agree with a small sub-section of the Democratic party about protectionism. They same English groups complaining about GM crops often also oppose the European Union, non-racist immigration policies, and the “nanny state”. My father lives in Devon, England and I have seen how political activism in that area works – it is mostly grassroots right-wing activism, anti-gypsy, anti-gay, anti-“Incomer” (the Devon word for non-Devonshire white people) and anti-Europe.

Sure, there is some anti-GM food activism from organisations like EarthFirst! etc., but this is often as much environmental as health based, these people are frequently highly uneducated, they have NO access to the corridors of power, and I think people who have met some of these “far left” vegan/animal rights activists would be surprised at how right wing they can be about things like, say, biological determinism, survivalism, abortion and the like. They have a lot more in common with pacifist far-right christians than they do the Democratic party.

65

bi 08.29.07 at 3:32 am

[…] the notion that feminist science employs a different “reason” from male science.

Harold Fromm

Actually, it’s the same for the Republicans, except they phrase it differently. To them, there’s not just one type of science, but two types: there’s “mainstream science”, and then there’s ‘our non-mainstream science’. It’s the same game all over again: what you’re doing is merely ‘leftist science’, but the proper way to do things is to embrace the patriotic, freedom-loving ‘rightist science’!

66

bi 08.29.07 at 3:35 am

Where ‘rightist science’ turns out to be indistinguishable from religion and authority-worship.

67

bi 08.29.07 at 5:23 am

(My point, in case that wasn’t clear, is that Republicans’ “acceptance” of the process of science is in fact the same as the leftist-postmodernists “rejection” of science, only expressed in different words. Well, another difference is that while the leftist-postmodernists only talk about a New Kind of Science, different Republicans actually _do_ it. (Some people take this to mean that the Republicans are better… yeah.))

68

John Quiggin 08.29.07 at 5:30 am

qv illustrates yet another problem, the idea of looking at individual “experts” rather than expert knowledge as represented the findings of the relevant scientific discipline. Of course, you can always find an “expert” to back up whatever view you want, but this isn’t the same as relying on expert knowledge.

GW delusionists can call on a string of experts, some of whom even have relevant qualifications, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are either buying or selling delusions.

69

Katherine 08.29.07 at 8:17 am

I think you are being a little harsh to Slocumat #44 – his description of the fundamentalist attitude to science seems plausible and useful to me. Fundamentalists still use phones and computers and cars (wouldn’t life be much easier if they were all Amish?) – this may be hypocritical of them – surprise – but it certainly what they do.

And you may be critical of the details of Slocum’s specific examples of scientific failure, but no one surely can argue that “science” has been right 100% of the time for all time – of course it hasn’t. The problem is that the fundamentalists don’t have the educational tools to recognise science as a process.

70

Katherine 08.29.07 at 8:18 am

Argh, I mean “Slocum at #48”

71

bi 08.29.07 at 10:36 am

Katherine:

Certainly whatever’s happening in the scientific community isn’t perfect, but how does that put it on par with groups of people who are very obviously making it their duty to talk through their hats? I don’t think so.

(Interestingly, some of the scandals happening in the research world — the Piltdown Man hoax, and the Hwang Woo-suk fraud — were caused partly by good old _nationalism_. This should put into perspective the general right-wing sentiment that a dose of ‘rightism’ is a good thing for scientific practice.)

72

Katherine 08.29.07 at 10:48 am

I never said that puts them on a par with such people. Nor, I believe, did Slocum.

73

bi 08.29.07 at 11:09 am

Katherine:

Well, I do think that is what Slocum’s getting at, with his cheap “Objective Ministries” potshot and all that… but I don’t want to turn this into a quibbling match.

And more generally, the “Scientists Can Be Wrong, ergo I’m right!” seems to be quite popular these days. It’s become a quick (and lame) excuse for someone to write baseless rubbish, or to set up big fat think-tanks where people write baseless rubbish.

An example of this sort of stupidity: “Science is not a consensus, and this notion that you have a consensus of scientists that believe in global warming, i.e. therefore it is true is a joke. […] Why you even try to claim that snow in June is the cause of global warming. Funny thing, it gets hot in the summer, that is why we call it summer; and surprise it gets cold in the winter, that’s why we call it winter.” …*sploosh*…

74

Katherine 08.29.07 at 11:47 am

Well, I do think that’s an uncharitable reading of what Slocum was saying, but we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that.

75

Barry 08.29.07 at 12:06 pm

Katherine, see my post (#52) re: accepting science vs enjoying technology.

76

Katherine 08.29.07 at 12:22 pm

Indeed, Barry, and you certainly won’t find me disagreeing with that. Actually, since Slocum hasn’t posted again, he hasn’t actually disagreed with that either. Your post seems more like a refinement of what Slocum was saying rather than a refutation.

77

Michael Sullivan 08.29.07 at 1:18 pm

It was, in fact, a huge success, and puts in question Mill’s idea that the marketplace of ideas tends towards the truth.

I think in the long run Mill was correct, and it does so tend. The problem is that Keynes observation is also correct: “In the long run, we are all dead.”

78

tribalecho 08.29.07 at 4:15 pm

Hi. Like your site.

Do you NEVER listen to Rightist radio?

Do you NEVER watch TBN?

I simply don’t get why you are so surprised by your findings.

Wake up and smell the coming oppression.

Oddly, I don’t think things really fall into place until 2009.

The party in power won’t matter.

79

engels 08.29.07 at 4:57 pm

anti-”Incomer” (the Devon word for non-Devonshire white people)

Presumably it’s pronounced “incummurrr”? Still, I can see where they are coming from, up to a point: a fair number of annoying twats have made Devon their second home in recent years.

80

soru 08.29.07 at 11:20 pm

The primary argument against genetically modified crops is not that they’re not safe for consumption, but the adverse ecological and economic effects of their rapid adoption over huge acreages with hardly any testing and no safeguards or liability for the dangers on the part of the companies promoting and profiting from them

Such concerns, strangely, rarely get raised for equivalent proposals for change in cultivation patterns implied by growing organic crops, and never seem to get resolved by evidence: the major current political activity of anti-GM food campaigners is explicitly aimed at preventing the collection of any such evidence.

Fundamentalists are easy to spot and mock, the worrying types are those who sincerely believe in the equivalent of Creation Science, actually honestly, deep down, think that they are being scientific if they use the same set of distinctive words as scientists.

81

Francis 08.30.07 at 1:33 am

What possible genetic contamination can arise from growing “organic crops”?

(Oddly enough, I thought all crops were organic, so I’m not sure what an “organic crop” is. “Organic farming” by contrast, has legal significance here in California.)

((And I’m still curious about the possible genetic cross-contamination attributable organic farming methods.))

82

bi 08.30.07 at 7:41 am

“the worrying types are those who sincerely believe in the equivalent of Creation Science, actually honestly, deep down, think that they are being scientific if they use the same set of distinctive words as scientists.”

What’s so dangerous about these anti-GM types, of course, is that they insist on looking like a group of punks holding signs and protesting all over the place, instead of building Big Fat Non-Mainstream Scientific Cathedrals (read: think-tanks).

Holy batman, are the “leftists are worse!” types are so far inside their own Bizarro Universe that they actually believe this obvious bullcrap?

83

soru 08.30.07 at 9:26 am

their own Bizarro Universe

No, just living outside the US, though I can see how you would make that mistake.

In the UK, the organic food lobby really is the one with billions of turnover and think tanks with millions in funding and several paid propagandists with weekly columns in the media, while the global warming denialists are the ones occasionally getting to appear as a talking head on TV.

None of the top 5 or so political parties will touch denialist thinking, it’s left to the far far right racists and nutters, one step below beliefs that involve the word ‘Atlantis’.

Whereas the complex of myths that tie together ‘blood and soil’, ‘purity’, ‘contamination’, ‘life energy’ influence just about every second of every cookery or lifestyle show on TV.

I’m not sure the phrase ‘genetic contamination’ even makes sense outside that type of thinking – it seems to rely on the idea that an organism has an inherent natural essence, which ‘foreign’ invading genes pollute. Certainly, it relies for it’s rhetorical impact on something very like Nazi ideas of racial pseudo-science.

84

Roy Belmont 08.30.07 at 9:58 am

Soru-
For sheer raw rhetorical impact, your second-to-the-last paragraph totally dominates. The image of some surgically-enhanced second-table Julia Child declaiming offhand and as natural as could be about Neitzsche and Wagner and Kirlian auric resonance has driven every single other thing out of my head, save the words to describe it.

85

bi 08.30.07 at 10:06 am

“None of the top 5 or so political parties will touch denialist thinking”

Oh really. I don’t live in the UK, but here’s one word: Iraq.

“Certainly, it relies for it’s rhetorical impact on something very like Nazi ideas of racial pseudo-science.”

And removing weeds is genocide, I guess? When are you going to write a post that actually comes from the real world?

86

soru 08.30.07 at 10:39 am

I don’t live in the UK, but here’s one word: Iraq.

Could you perhaps draw a diagram illustrating the way in which you believe you are making a relevant point here?

And removing weeds is genocide, I guess?

No, the opposite: you should be wary of someone slipping emotive terms like ‘genocide’ or ‘contamination’ into a discussion of agriculture.

When are you going to write a post that actually comes from the real world?

Is the world outside the USA actually real to you? Presumably, intellectually you accept that other countries exist, have different histories, different balances of power between industry lobbies, different limits on political discussions.

If you stop to think about it, you would presumably accept that the Christianist/Nationalist/Republicans pushing the anti-science message are a specific group, with a specific and limited amount of power and influence. You would agree they are not an existential foe that transcends borders, controls the world. The influence they currently have in the US can be explained as an artefact of the US political setup, for example the 2-party electoral system, private media ownership by rich people, and so on. It is not something inherent in human nature or the universe.

But do you really accept that in your gut? When you are not thinking about it, do you still act as if it were true?

87

bi 08.30.07 at 12:05 pm

soru:

“No, the opposite: you should be wary of someone slipping emotive terms like ‘genocide’ or ‘contamination’ into a discussion of agriculture.”

Oh, so removing weeds is not genocide, but rejecting GM crops is Nazi eugenics or something? Or what?

“Is the world outside the USA actually real to you?”

What’s this, projection? You say that “one of the top 5 or so political parties will touch denialist thinking” when Brown is still trying not to pull out of Iraq? Then you turn around and accuse _me_ of being deluded?

(For the record: _I don’t live in the US, thank you very much._)

Nell: GM crops may cause genetic contamination of non-GM crops. They may also accidentally kill the wrong insects, such as bees. And so on.
soru: You’re committing racism against GM crops! Nazi!

And isn’t it great that when people point out the problems with GM crops, you accuse them of Nazist plant racism? With this sort of arguments, who needs science? Clearly you hate science, you hate facts, you hate evidence… and you can’t deny it, try as you might.

88

bi 08.30.07 at 12:06 pm

s/one of/none of/

89

Uncle Kvetch 08.30.07 at 1:06 pm

If you stop to think about it, you would presumably accept that the Christianist/Nationalist/Republicans pushing the anti-science message are a specific group, with a specific and limited amount of power and influence. You would agree they are not an existential foe that transcends borders, controls the world.

They’ve controlled the most powerful military machine in history for the past 6-1/2 years, with results that have, in fact, “transcended borders” in any number of ways. For several hundred thousand people around the world, these results have, in fact, been quite “existential,” insofar as they are, as a direct result of the actions of a Christianist/Nationalist/Republican administration in the US, no longer alive.

I would have thought that even someone outside the US might have noticed that. But I guess when your every waking moment is focused on hiding from storm troopers wielding bags of organic leeks and carrots, it’s hard to keep up on what’s happening in the rest of the world.

90

engels 08.30.07 at 1:14 pm

You would agree they are not an existential foe that transcends borders, controls the world.

Just to remind people, this is a post about GLOBAL WARMING.

91

SG 08.30.07 at 1:29 pm

all of soru’s comments support the idea that anti-GM craziness is right wing. Unless the Nazis, “blood and soil”, etc.

I’m intrigued to hear about this anti-GM thinktank.

I’m also intrigued to hear about how organic foods can pollute nearby crops.

It just gets wierder in here…

92

SG 08.30.07 at 1:31 pm

engels yes, your pronunciation of “Incomer” is perfect, and you are right to an extent that a lot of prats are spoiling the scenery. There is a village in Devon which one has to pay to enter if one does not live there (it’s a tourist site). My father is getting sick of paying to visit beaches to walk his mate’s dog. But still… “Incomer”, in an area whose biggest industry is tourism…

93

engels 08.30.07 at 1:45 pm

And while the “American Left” (in so far as such a thing exists) can be misguided at times, as an Englishman I can proudly say that they are as nothing compared to the home-grown battiness of people like Soru, with his “plant racists have infiltrated the British press!” act.

94

engels 08.30.07 at 1:48 pm

Sg – I agree; I was merely taking the opportunity to make a pointless, childish swipe at Damien Hirst and chums (and here is a link to A Dead Shark Isn’t Art.)

95

engels 08.30.07 at 1:56 pm

But really, as I said above, why is anybody bothering? The level of trolling on this thread tells us all we need to know, I think.

96

SG 08.31.07 at 3:38 am

excellent website Engels, excellent. I was always innately suspicious of that Hirst chap, because I don’t know much about art but I know what I like. How sweet to have my suspicions confirmed – and how unsurprising that he’s a dirty incummmmurrrrr.

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