Friday, 16 May 2014

(I Pray For) A Lack Of Will

I've worked this beat before, but it's been a few years, I have new readers now, and anyways it's nice to take some time out every now and again to note what a fucking idiot George Will is, especially when we can use it to segue into what fucking idiots climate change deniers are.

Obviously everything Will says or has said or presumably ever will say on the subject of global warming is utterly vacuous and would embarrass even the most intellectually incurious nine-year-old were they to be picked up on it.  I guess nothing here quite matches his 2009 insistence that because 1980 was the hottest year on record, there had been no global warming in three decades [1]. I guess that by his own logic, the fact that his hilarious and  piteous ignorance peaked in 2009 means Will hasn't been a calamitous failure on every level when discussing climate science in the last five years. Which is nice for him, but for those of us not paid to make the world a worse place through smug self-immolation, I think we can consider the point proved.

So what's he up to this time, this worthless anti-science hack who can't even be bothered to bring his worthless schmuck A-game any more?
“If you want money from the biggest source of direct research in this country, the federal government, don’t question its orthodoxy.”
This - and I mention it because Will is bound to get on his high horse about it again soon enough - is why people laugh in conservatives' faces when they complain progressives treat them like idiots.  Yes, the federal government gives more money to climate scientists than do, say, petroleum companies. The annual bill to feed federal workers grossly outweighs that spent by the seven US restaurants with three Michelin stars, too, but if you think people interested in expensive ingredients should be chowing down at school canteens in central Baltimore, you're a fucking idiot.

You would hope a man so obviously and embarrassingly devoted to US conservative orthodoxy would understand higher paying jobs are both more rare and more tempting, but this is an opportunity to stick it to the Feds, so fuck it. [2]

But then, as always, Will is nothing if not a perfect microcosm of his tribe's political thought in general. There are two types of self-proclaimed "climate sceptic".  The first is at least approximately tolerable; they can be discerned as those who resolutely refuse to believe either side has yet made their case well enough. They're wrong, and in many cases they're wrong because they haven't bothered to actually listen to each side for long enough to slap together an informed opinion, but hey: there's plenty of issues in the world about which I know nothing and haven't attempted to correct the fact.  It wouldn't hurt for some of those people to be a little less smug and dismissive when confessing their ignorance, but at a basic level I'm uncomfortable telling others who might be outside my privileged position of having easy access to information (and, quite frankly, the kind of brain that can assimilate and weigh that information correctly) that they have a moral duty to read up on the kinds of things I think should be read up on. It's aggravating that their position is basically a licence to do nothing about climate change (every time they read an article saying everything is doomed, they can read another saying it's all a big fuss, then commend themselves for being so even-handed whilst they drive their 4x$ to the steakhouse), but there it is.

That's not Will, though, nor Krauthammer neither. They are not and never have been sceptics.  Sceptics require a greater level of proof before they believe something.  Will and Krauthammer requires absolutely no proof at all before they believe something, as long as they want to believe it.  They're as credulous as those people that still somehow mean the Nigerian prince email scam still seems to be worth pursuing.  It's just that their credulity makes them money rather than causing them to lose it.  Which is nice work if you can get it, I suppose (though I'm sure the Fed spends much more money on fact-spinning than does FOX News, so clearly Will must think he's made a terrible mistake somewhere in his career), but being covered in money for being a chump doesn't make your inherent chumpery any less obvious.  You can't spell "useful fucking idiot" without "fucking idiot".

Which is why the label "deniers" fits them like a studded ball-gag. No argument is too weak, no factoid too implausible, no equivalence so obviously false for these people to swallow faster than Chris Christie would a jam doughnut sprinkled with proof he masterminded the GW Bridge scandal.
Scepticism is about checking others are right.  Denialism is about desperately hoping others are right so that you don't have to change your opinions or behaviour. Scepticism is how science brought us every innovation for the last six hundred years. Denialism is how scientists got thrown in dungeons for asking whether the dude in the priest's robes really knew all that much about astronomy.

Scepticism, properly exercised scepticism that faces of against orthodoxy rather than simply avoiding it, is brave. Denialism is cowardly. And the fact that you can get rich through weaponising cowardice might actually be a stronger reason to believe mankind is ultimately doomed than any amount of evidence for climate change might be.

Just kidding. It's climate change that will screw us.  I know this because I bothered to check. 

[1] Except 1998 and 2002-2007, but who's counting?

[2] Were I dealing with anyone else, I'd point out his argument is logically indistinguishable from the argument that most of the world's resources are held by non-white people, and hence being white is a profound disadvantage. The problem, of course, is that not only am I concerned that might not actually be true - splendid work Europe, really - but that neither Will nor Krauthammer would have any problem with the idea that it's super-tough to be white and why is everyone always so mean to them?

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