The Great Library of Tlön

by John Quiggin on June 6, 2008

Via Tim Lambert and Matt Nisbet a study in the journal Environmental Politics (here, but unfortunately paywalled) shows that, since 1972, at least 90 per cent of the books that have been published disputing mainstream environmental science have been produced by rightwing thinktanks or authors affiliated with such thinktanks. Symmetrically, at least 90 per cent of the rightwing thinktanks in the study contributed to this literature.

This study is an important contribution to our understanding of the emerging parallel universe which has almost completely absorbed the formerly Earth-based Republican party[1] and its networking of supporting thinktanks, media outlets and blogs. It helps to explain the otherwise surprising fact that higher levels of education make Republicans more, not less, ignorant and deluded. With their beliefs on scientific, economic and political issues derived from the Great Library of Tlön, every book they read, talk show they listen to and blog they browse actively reduces their knowledge of the real world. [2].

fn1. Represented most notably on Earth by Abraham Lincoln, but on Tlön by Jefferson Davis.
fn2. If any Tlön based readers have access to this blog, please apply your polarity reverser. Educated Tlön Democrats are more likely to hold the deluded notions that their planet is roughly spherical, billions of years old and subject to significant climatic effects from human action. Tlön social democrats are even likely to believe that income inequality is increasing and that the market-based health system of Uqbar is less then perfect.

{ 9 comments }

1

Keith 06.06.08 at 2:10 pm

I’ve always suspected Dick Cheney was secretly a Heresiarch of Uqbar. Explains the man-sized safe in his office.

2

"Q" the Enchanter 06.06.08 at 3:00 pm

To be fair, though, Republicans’ knowledge of their own representation of reality is unmatched.

3

Rich B. 06.06.08 at 3:10 pm

What is most impressive to me is not just the delusion, but the way that the delusion can shift with party leadership. Just over the last decade or so, the mainstream Republicanism represented by Gingrich, Bush, and McCain would constitute widely divergent parties in any non-bi-polar political system.

I am curious to see what happens as John “Climate Change Is Real And Should Be Addressed Somehow” McCain continues to become the new face of Republicanism. Do the books discussed in this post get thrown down the memory hole?

4

Z 06.06.08 at 3:16 pm

To be fair, though, Republicans’ knowledge of their own representation of reality is unmatched.

Thread already won.

5

Keith 06.06.08 at 7:30 pm

rich b.:

I think this is the way to understand American politics. It isn’t two parties but two mostly-permanent coalitions of about a dozen or so parties: Social-democrats, theocrats, neocons, Reagan Democrats, libertarians, Dixiecrats, Constitionionalists, Progressives, old school Conservatives, Independents and Joe Lieberman.

Depending on the issue, the coalitions will change slightly (under the banner of Bi-partisanship) but they divide into two camps for what was at one time considdered electoral simplicity.

6

bi 06.07.08 at 1:05 pm

Hah… the other day I was writing about how Don Aitkin’s bland, lowest-common-denominator account of Climate Skepticism™ was akin to the Tlönists’ elimination of the “multiplication of hröonir” stuff.

It’s instructive — and entertaining — to dig up what the merry band of climate inactivists were saying back then, and compare it to what they’re saying now. Lots of fun and merriment to be had.

Do the books discussed in this post get thrown down the memory hole?

Not whole books, just those parts of the books which no longer sound good.

 –bi, International Journal of Inactivism

7

bi 06.07.08 at 1:06 pm

s/öo/ö/

8

KCinDC 06.07.08 at 3:15 pm

McCain continues to become the new face of Republicanism

That only really happens if McCain wins. If he loses, won’t the representatives of the old face be coming back on a wave of “Told you so”s?

9

mpowell 06.09.08 at 10:11 pm


That only really happens if McCain wins. If he loses, won’t the representatives of the old face be coming back on a wave of “Told you so”s?

Maybe. But that group probably represents even less electoral success in a general election now. After all, it wasn’t even good enough in a Republican primary this year.

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