Spreading misinformation, intentional or not

Rick Santorum appeared on Bill Maher and, when asked about climate change, claimed that there was a recent survey showing that 57% of scientists don’t agree that CO2 is the main control knob for our climate. The survey that he is referring to appears to be the one by Verheggen et al. (2014), which you can read about here. It should be patently obvious that their conclusion is not that a majority of scientists disagree that CO2 is the main climate control know. If anything, it’s the opposite of that; a majority of scientists agree that the dominant cause of our recent warming is anthropogenic.

Bill Maher responded to Rick Santorum with I don’t know what ass you’re pulling that out of. Unless I’m mistaken, I think this claim originates from Fabius Maximus who re-analysed Verheggen et als. survey to claim that only 43% of scientists agree that we are 95% sure that man-made CO2 is the dominant driver of climate change.

Well, I’ve discussed this before and you can read Bart Verheggen’s explanation for why this is wrong here. Essentially, Fabius is arguing that only 43% of those in the survey agreed that more than 50% of the warming is anthropogenic AND that this was extremely likely (> 95%). One problem is that the question that his claim was based on had a very high fraction of respondents (22%) who didn’t actually respond with what they thought the human GHG contribution was. Verheggen et al discuss this at length in their paper, and in the blogpost, and conclude that including them skews the result to – probably – a lower value than is reasonable. This conclusion is based on what respondents mentioned themselves, and on comparing results to another survey question about the causes of global warming. This is in addition to Verheggen et al. going out of their way to include contrarians, which also probably produces a slight under-estimate of the actual level of consensus.

More fundamentally, though, Fabius’ analysis illustrates a lack of understanding of attribution studies. An attribution study is really a null hypothesis test. In this case, the null hypothesis is that more than 50% of the warming could be non-anthropogenic. This is rejected at the 95% confidence level, resulting in the conclusion that it is extremely likely that more than 50% of the warming is anthropogenic. Asking individual scientists what confidence they have is not the same as a formal attribution study. Also, the consensus is simply that more than 50% of the warming is anthropogenic. The extremely likely is the confidence we have in this consensus position. What’s relevant is the level of agreement with this consensus position, not how confident individual scientists are in this position. Or, more correctly, arguing that only 43% of scientists personally think that it is extremely likely that more than 50% of the warming is anthropogenic, is not the same as only 43% agreeing with the consensus that more than 50% of the warming is anthropogenic. It is clear from the Verheggen et al. study that a large majority of those surveyed agree that more than 50% of the warming is anthropogenic.

If you’ve read much of Fabius’s blog, you might notice that he spends a reasonable amount of time commenting on how the public debate about climate science is broken. Well, yes, this may well be true. However, a good deal of this can be attributed to the mis-information being spread by those who would rather we didn’t take this issue seriously. That his re-analysis of Verheggen et als. study seems to have contributed to this seems remarkably ironic. This may not have been his intent, but that he has done so seems clear; well, unless Rick Santorum is referring to some other analysis that also produced a value of 43%. If so, I haven’t come across it.

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109 Responses to Spreading misinformation, intentional or not

  1. Fabius Maximus came up with the 47% of those surveyed agreeed with IPCC conclusion and then our brilliant propagandist from down under, Jo Nova, took that number and revised it down to 43%. That’s how Santorum came around to claiming 57% of scientists don’t agree with IPCC. See JoNova’s blog post: http://joannenova.com.au/2015/07/less-than-half-of-climate-scientists-agree-with-the-ipcc-95-certainty/

  2. Thanks. I think the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK and Climate Depot in the US were also involved. Unless Fabius has updated his post, he also came up with the 43% number, but added that it could be 47% if the “don’t knows” were excluded. Either way, the idea that more than 50% think that something else could have been the dominant influence in our recent warming is bizarre nonsense.

  3. PP says:

    Thank you for providing information on this study. I saw the clip on Bill Maher and was trying to figure out what study Santorum could possibly have been referencing. Santorum’s comment made no sense, but it is a great example of the power of misinformation. People inclined to deny the problem of climate change will undoubtedly continue to cite the study improperly. Thanks to you I now have a proper response to any such statements.

  4. Willard says:

    Judge Judy splat the pear in half in her The Conceits of Consensus:

    The 797 respondents who are highly confident that more than 50% of the warming is human caused) are 43% of all 1,868 respondents (47% excluding the “don’t know” group).

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/08/27/the-conceits-of-consensus/

    As Joe “Jesus” Duarte would not say, you can’t make this up.

    (Joe would say “Jesus,” of course.)

  5. PP,
    Thanks, happy to help 🙂

  6. Joshua says:

    I saw this over at MSNBC:

    “Maher appeared to point toward the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, stating with 95% certainty that humans were the main cause of the current global warming. Santorum, meanwhile, cited a survey of 1,800 scientists that found 57% believed other factors were more important than man-made CO2.”

    In that article, the mention of the study that Santorum cited links to Jo Nova’s blog….which despite it’s tribal slant, in no way provides evidence that 57% believed other factors are more important.

    In addition, I want to acknowledge my respect for “skeptics” who think that a poll showing 12% of respondents indicating a belief that the fraction of global warming is less than 50% is some sort of vindication for their arguments. That really is some masterful spin-doctoring.

    Further, I want to acknowledge the mastery of unintentional irony involved in arguing that looking at the prevalence of agreement among experts is both irrelevant and antithetical to “true” science, even as they spend gobs of time arguing about what the prevalence of agreement among experts actually is..

  7. Joshua says:

    And in the name of full context, let me first link the MSNBC article…

    http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/rick-santorum-and-bill-maher-make-peace-contraception

    And then provide some (infamous) evidence related to Santorum’s credentials to comment on climate science:

    “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does … [I]t destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that’s antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, where it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family … In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. – “

    And whatever you do, be careful when you Google Santorum’s name:

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/rick-santorum-2016-dan-savage-google

  8. Joshua,
    When you describe it like this you almost illustrate the beauty of what can be done with the right motivation.

  9. Joshua,
    That final link of yours in your most recent comment almost makes me feel sorry for him.

  10. Joshua says:

    Yes, well…apparently some folks took offense at having their spouses compared to dogs. Amazing how sensitive some of these gay, PC lefties are.

  11. I did say “almost” 🙂

  12. Pingback: Spreading misinformation, intentional or not | PROBABILITIES ARE POSSIBILITIES

  13. Pingback: PBL survey shows strong scientific consensus that global warming is largely driven by greenhouse gases | My view on climate change

  14. Magma says:

    For a while now I’ve thought that any research group doing such consensus studies should include at least one hard-nosed cynic who is fully aware that any ambiguity, mushiness or overly-complicated aspect of such studies will be seized on by those who will deliberately misrepresent it. After all, what is the point of doing such studies apart from convincing the public and policy makers that a strong AGW consensus exists, in the face of those who claim otherwise? Climate scientists don’t need them; they already know the results.

    If I recall correctly, quite a few years ago magician, skeptic and expert debunker James Randi said that many scientists were poor at uncovering charlatans and frauds in the ‘paranormal’ field because they went in with a conscious or unconscious attitude that the psychics, clairvoyants, telepaths, etc. they were investigating were working honestly and in good faith, and they didn’t look for obvious and shopworn tricks and deceit.

  15. Do not think Rick Santorum is innocent. He’s not. Remember the story about US weather service and congressional influence. Also, he’s one of those phony Christians who doesn’t mind the gospels, only the narrow interpretations that serve his prejudices.

    Also, he’s out of power and wishes mightily to become relevant again. So he will pander to anything that serves the narrative currently best represented by Trump: hate and excluding first, caring a long way back.

  16. pbjamm says:

    The numbers at Dr Curry’s site (linked to by willard) do not jibe at all with the 43% claim she makes and as referenced by Rick Santorum. Just adding up the percentages for question 1a give you 65.9% who think greater than 50% of the warming is anthropocentric. The 43% is a cherry picked subset with a completely arbitrary cut off. Unless I am missing something it does not take a scientist to see this number is meaningless rubbish.

  17. Tom Dayton says:

    Magma, James Randi is indeed amazing. I worked with him for a few days several decades ago when he helped with the Princeton experiments that debunked the claim that humans have a magnetic sense. There is a new bio-pic about him that is really, really great: “An Honest Liar”: http://www.movies.com/movie-news/james-randi-documentary/6640. It’s on Netflix.

  18. dana1981 says:

    I think this is my favorite part of Curry’s post:

    a disproportionately large number of these skeptical scientists are experts on climate change detection/attribution. Think Spencer, Christy, Lindzen, etc. etc.

    Have Spencer, Christy, or Lindzen ever even published a single detection and attribution paper? Publishing crappy curve fitting papers claiming that ENSO-caused cloud changes are an “internal forcing” and are responsible for global warming isn’t a real detection & attribution paper.

  19. Howard says:

    This is what happens when you care more about popularity than field point data. 57% is as much a misrepresentation as 97%, the outrage depends on whose ox is being gored.

  20. Howard,
    Don’t really know what you’re on about.

  21. pbjamm,

    The 43% originates with Fabius Maximus, see the link that ATTP provided in the head post. It’s the fraction of all respondents (whether they actually provided a quantitative estimate or not) who though that it’s extremely likely that >50% of warming is due to GHG. There are multiple problems with that approach as ATTP explains. But the number is not taken out of a hat or based on an arbitrary cut-off.

  22. Bart,
    Something that I think you pointed out in your post, but that I think that should be pointed out again, is that Fabius’s argument is that the most recent IPCC result was that it was extremely likely that more than 50% of the warming between 1950 and 2010 was anthropogenic and that only 43% in your survey agree with this. However, your survey was 2012, while the most recent IPCC report was published after that. Hence, the general scientific community was unaware of the IPCC’s confidence level in the consensus position at that time.

    Also, as I point out here, I think that the relevant number is what fraction agree with the consensus position (more than 50% anthropogenic) not what fraction have the same level of confidence in that position as represented by the most recent IPCC report. That comes out of a formal attribution study; it’s not based on the views of the scientific community.

  23. izen says:

    @-Howard says
    “This is what happens when you care more about popularity than field point data. 57% is as much a misrepresentation as 97%, the outrage depends on whose ox is being gored”

    Yes.
    If the ‘97%’ consensus is touted as support for the AGW theory then ANY claim about how many or what percentage of scientists support a particular statement will become part of the dialogue.

    The 57% is much more of a misrepresentation of scientific opinion than the 97% figure. asking questions about how much probability a scientist gives to another statement about probability is a very second order derivative. Answers from such polls are notoriously malleable. Unlike surveys of explicit or implicit positions taken in the published research.

    But the problem is using any claim about the general opinion of the scientific community as a validation of the science. It gets the causal direction wrong.

  24. izen,

    asking questions about how much probability a scientist gives to another statement about probability is a very second order derivative.

    Yes, a good way to describe the issue with Fabius’s analysis.

  25. Magma says:

    izen: But the problem is using any claim about the general opinion of the scientific community as a validation of the science. It gets the causal direction wrong.

    Yes, absolutely. But given the surprising (or boneheaded) ignorance still exhibited regarding concrete facts and basic scientific reasoning in general – not just in climate change – shown by the media and so-called skeptics, this may be too subtle a distinction for some. Here I consider it a useful type of shorthand for “the very large majority of experts who work on climate-related research agree on these basic observations and hypotheses about AGW”.

    It’s basically a proxy for those who won’t or can’t delve through masses of technical literature to come up with their own conclusions. But it would be better if your point was clearly noted.

  26. pbjamm says:

    @Bart Verheggen

    Sorry if I was not clear. I get that the 43% is from Fabius Maximus, Dr Curry even says she uses his analysis in the comments of the page linked to by willard. My point was that it is clear to anyone honestly reading even only the graphs that the 43% number is rubbish and that selecting the subset of “highly confident” respondents to achieve that number is pretty arbitrary.

    “The 797 respondents who are highly confident that more than 50% of the warming is human caused) are 43% of all 1,868 respondents (47% excluding the “don’t know” group). Hence this survey finds that slightly less than half of climate scientists surveyed agree with the AR5 keynote statement in terms of confidence in the attribution statement.”

  27. Nobodyknows says:

    “The second question is: “What confidence level would you ascribe to your estimate that the anthropogenic greenhouse gas warming is more than 50%?” Of the 1,222 respondents who said that the anthropogenic contribution was over 50%, 797 (65%) said it was 95%+ certain (which the IPCC defines as “virtually certain” or “extremely likely”).”
    From some ot the attacs on JC one should think that this sentence is wrong. I should like to hear what is wrong with that.

  28. Nobodyknows,
    I think that is right. You also have to bear in mind that when this was asked (2012) the previous IPCC had reported that it was very likely that more than 50% was anthropogenic. In that case, 91% agreed with that. Also, as Bart has pointed out, the 43% is based on including all who were surveyed (1868) rather than only those who answered that question (1439). If you only consider the latter, it becomes 55% (extremely likely) or 77% (very likely).

    There’s a silly discussion on Twitter about why those who said “don’t know” should be included in the numbers. What those who say this don’t seem to realise is that the survey was intended (I think) to be surveying people who would have sufficient expertise to give an answer to this question. By responding in that way, they were presumably indicating that they did not, hence leaving them out seems like the right option.

  29. Joshua says:

    Remarkable:

    1) Whether there is a consensus is irrelevant. Science is not conducted by consensus. The existence of a prevalent view among experts is not a guide for evaluating the science

    2) The prevalence of agreement among experts is irrelevant and anti-science because those who claim expertise by virtue of some standard of measure are wrong. There is no legitimate way to assess degree of expertise. Therefore, the only expertise that is of any value is expertise that aligns with my opinions.

    3) The real expert opinion that exists is in line with my views. Any alignment with my views, however, is purely coincidental (because I am a believer in “pure science”).

    4) Trying to determine whether there is a consensus is antithetical to the very practice of science. Pure science is being corrupted by these politically-motivated actors who are engaged in a fallacious appeal to authority.

    5) The consensus is “manufactured” by those who are trying to silence “skeptics” and to short-circuit the full scientific process.

    6) There is no meaningful explanation of what the putative “consensus” is in agreement about.

    7) “Skeptics” are a part of the “consensus,” as hardly any of them disagree that ACO2 emissions warm the climate.

    8) Those “skeptics” who doubt the basic physics of the GHE should be disregarded because there is a clear “consensus” that the GHE is real – and therefore, when people speak to the scientific validity of “skepticism” regarding the risks posed by ACO2, those “skeptics” can just be thrown under the bus. They aren’t part of the “consensus” and thus, no one in the room listens to them.

    9). The fact that I spend large chunks of my life, perhaps on a daily basis, arguing about whether there is a consensus, whether or not the existence of a consensus matters, and what the actual magnitude of the consensus is, should in no way be inconsistent with my views that the existence of a consensus is both irrelevant and anti-science.

  30. matt says:

    Blog post being elevated to peer reviewed literature… Again. Sigh

  31. Joshua,
    There was another irony that I think I saw Steven Mosher point out. It was essentially that we constantly hear that “skeptics can’t get their papers published because of the consensus police”, followed by “look, the consensus is only 43%”.

    Matt,
    Indeed.

  32. Has increased CO2 likely caused warming? Yes.

    Can anyone honestly attribute the variation by percentage? No.

    That’s because the uncertainty in absorbed solar ( albedo ) is greater than the forcing for CO2.
    That doesn’t mean that albedo has necessarily changed a great deal, but if you don’t know something, why pretend you do? But that’s what people do in surveys because they think they’re supposed to know, and even though no one’s watching, they pretend.

    Now, very roughly, the warming is about what we’d expect, but not what we know from measurement.

  33. TE,
    Actually, you may not mean to but what you say is roughly consistent with what I was getting at in the post. The extremely likely refers to the confidence at which the null has been rejected (95%), not the confidence level that most of the warming is anthropogenic (i.e., it’s extremely likely that more than 50% is anthropogenic because we’ve rejected the null at that confidence, not because we’ve shown that there is a 95% that it is anthropogenic). Also, it is not intended to be an indicator of an attribution by percentage (which is what you seem to think it is, but what you’ve said seems rather confused).

  34. Michael Lloyd says:

    aTTP, worth a look:
    Why Johnny can’t understand climate: functional illiteracy and the rise of “unpropaganda”
    http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/why-johnny-cant-understand-climate.html

    Perhaps it is worth going on about the 97% consensus.

  35. Willard says:

    > [U]sing any claim about the general opinion of the scientific community as a validation of the science.

    On the other hand, studies showing a consensus over a scientific question help: (a) contradict claims that there’s no consensus; (b) study the impact of wordology on scientific communities; (c) bootstrap a consensus on a population based on some kind of bandwagon effect; and (d) create a fixed point in ClimateBall exchanges (H/T Joshua).

  36. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> ” “skeptics can’t get their papers published because of the consensus police”, followed by “look, the consensus is only 43%”.

    Yes. Excellent. Really excellent.

    And let’s not forget Judith’s beauty: Although peer-review is actually pal-review, articles that show a consensus are crap if and because they were rejected by a number of peer-reviews…while articles that question a consensus are valuable because they’ve been published in peer-reviewed journals… even when they aren’t published until after they’ve been rejected by a number of peer-reviews.

  37. Joshua says:

    willard –

    ==> “(H/T Joshua).”

    Huh?

  38. Willard says:

    Here’s a fixpoint Joshua:

    In mathematics, a fixed point (sometimes shortened to fixpoint, also known as an invariant point) of a function is an element of the function’s domain that is mapped to itself by the function.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixed_point_(mathematics)

    As a ClimateBall function, it’s an element of the rhetorical domain that is mapped to itself by the ClimateBall function.

    Cf. with the contrarian talking points about the consensus:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/spreading-misinformation-intentional-or-not/#comment-61938

  39. izen says:

    @-Willard

    On the other hand, studies showing a consensus over a scientific question help:(a)…
    (b)…
    (c)…
    (d)…
    (e) Coerce those unable or unwilling to engage with the scientific knowledge to accept the mainstream position by the application of the most powerful factors in altering individual beliefs and behavior.
    Social conformity.
    (May harden the position of those who value their rejection of mainstream society/science)

  40. Willard says:

    > Coerce […]

    You keep using that word, izen. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Contrarians won’t disappear because you wish to sing Kumbaya with them, you know. In fact, there’s a theorem indicating that Kahan’s plan should hit a wall soon enough.

    Countering an appeal to authority with an ad temperantiam solves little.

  41. Joshua says:

    izen –

    ==> “(e) Coerce those unable or unwilling to engage with the scientific knowledge to accept the mainstream position by the application of the most powerful factors in altering individual beliefs and behavior.
    Social conformity.

    I am not unwilling, although I am certainly unable, to evaluate the evidence that shows that HIV causes AIDS. Given that, I think it helps me to evaluate certain public policies to know that the vast majority of people who study the evidence disagree with those scientists (who are much smarter and knowledgeable than I) who say that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS.

    I don’t consider that “coercion,” even though it is quite likely that those scientists who denounce the scientists who say that HIV doesn’t cause AIDs presumably do so because their interest is in informing public opinion.

    IMO – it is certainly an open question as to whether there is any meaningful change in public opinion from “consensus-messaging” let alone “consensus studies,” but I think there is no less evidence to prove that outcome than there is evidence to show that “consensus-messaging” or “consensus-studies” harden the opinion of those who reject the mainstream science of climate change.

    [The difference between the “consensus” on AIDS vs. the “consensus” on climate change being that the latter is a polarized issue that stimulates identity-protective behaviors)…

  42. Andy Skuce says:

    To Joshua’s excellent list, I would add the, um, contrast between statements that claim: a) that contrarians can’t get papers published because of a cabal (of a presumed minority) of experts with; b) that there are, in fact, lots of contrarian papers, just refer to Poptech’s 1000 list, or Richard Tol’s incarcerated 300.

    So, apparently, we have a minority of scientists, effectively censoring the silent majority of good, doubting scientists, except in the hundreds of cases when they didn’t.

    Why, oh why, can’t the denialists get their act together and do their own poll or survey? I’m sure they could get dozens of citizen volunteers. There should be no problem in asking Richard Tol for assistance with the statistics or Joe Duarte for help with the ethics.

    I would be fascinated to see the result, no really, I would.

  43. matt says:

    Willard,

    What is “Kahan’s plan”and why “should [it] hit a wall soon enough”? If you can use language a dullard can understand that would be appreciated.

  44. matt says:

    Joshua,

    Fun fact. Some of the signers of the Oregon Petition are also HIV/AIDS deniers. Pretty smart guys to be experts on both climate and medical issues.

  45. redbbs says:

    Take away his pretentious prolix obfuscations? What would be left?

  46. Michael 2 says:

    Matt writes “Some of the signers of the Oregon Petition are…”

    Butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. Toss in a few computer programmers, bicycle repairmen. It cannot possibly be any less relevant than having Leonardo DiCaprio as your advocate for climate stabilization.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2014/sep/23/leonardo-dicaprio-un-climate-change-summit-speech-video

    “Pretty smart guys to be experts on both climate and medical issues.”

    That is doubtless true of thee and me and everyone else here; even our generous host, an astronomer. Smart guys are here and all of us know more than one thing, skilled at several and conversant in nearly all science.

    More to the point, we are citizens engaged in governments.

  47. Michael 2 says:

    Izen writes “application of the most powerful factors in altering individual beliefs and behavior.
    Social conformity.”

    Limited sphere of applicability: The herd, the hive, the left. Saul Alinsky was writing to and for organizers of the left; I believe he had no illusion of these tactics working on the right and even less so for libertarians. This is the thing that Kahan dimly perceives, or perceives clearly but is cautious in springing this grand idea on the Consensus.

    But if you are in the Borg Collective, how can you have any other idea? Plainly, you cannot. This is perhaps the “wall” that Willard speaks of. Kahan can no more “grok” a libertarian than a libertarian can “grok” (combination of know and feel) what it is to be safely tucked into the herd without a thing to think about or worry about except of course what you are told to worry about. Being nice doesn’t work on a person that doesn’t want to be nice, doesn’t know what it is and is suspicious of anyone pretending to be nice (even if they really are nice).

    I have never been a conformist. I couldn’t be a conformist even if I desperately wanted to be a conformist because I do not “grok” the invisible forces that compels my own teenagers for instance to be glued to a cellphone 24 hours a day and incapable of processing a thought that takes more than 140 characters to express.

    I am also not a “non-conformist” since that requires conscious recognition of social conformity.

  48. izen says:

    @-Michael 2
    “I have never been a conformist. I couldn’t be a conformist even if I desperately wanted to be a conformist because I do not “grok” the invisible forces …
    I am also not a “non-conformist” since that requires conscious recognition of social conformity.”

    An inability to recognise the force of social conformity, even if only to oppose it, is generally considered to be characteristic of the autistic or sociopathic personality.
    Libertarian and right-wing ideologies are just as tribal, and concerned with conformity to the central dogmas, as any other social grouping. If you accept the Altemeyer authoritarian analysis, probably MORE conformist than the general population.

    @-Joshua
    ” I think it helps me to evaluate certain public policies to know that the vast majority of people who study the evidence disagree with those scientists (who are much smarter and knowledgeable than I) who say that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS.
    I don’t consider that “coercion, …”

    Most of us rationalise acquiescing to social conformity as accepting the best authority. But despite Willards squeamishness about the term coercion, your acceptance of the mainstream is grounded in the fear of transgressing social ‘norms’.
    One of the problems in changing individual behavior in regards to obesity and the epidemic diabetes it leads to in some developed societies is that the prevalence of obesity normalises the condition and removes the conformity factor from persuading people their weight problem is real. As temperatures, and weather extremes creep up, the same shift in the perceived ‘norm’ may obstruct accurate judgement of the severity of the changes.
    The ‘New Normal’.

  49. Andrew Dodds says:

    izen –

    Yes.. it’s interesting that what looked like extreme temperatures in 1998 would now be completely normal, or even slightly low. The shocking sea ice retreat of 2007 is, again, simply routine now.

    Indeed, you have to wonder what kind of event could make people notice global warming without fading into the background.

  50. Willard says:

    > One of the problems in changing individual behavior in regards to obesity and the epidemic diabetes it leads to in some developed societies is that the prevalence of obesity normalises the condition and removes the conformity factor from persuading people their weight problem is real.

    Are you suggesting that 97% of dietetists agree that obesity ain’t a problem, izen?

    I don’t think your point leads where you think it leads.

    ***

    > Kahan’s plan

    Here:

    The effects will be admittedly modest—indeed, wholly immaterial in relation to the dynamics at work in global climate change.

    But they mean something; they are part of the package of collective initiatives identified as worthy of being pursued by the city planners, business groups, and resident associations—by the conservation groups, civic organizations, and religious groups—who all participated in the public and highly participatory process that generated the Plan.

    That process has been (will no doubt continue to be) lively and filled with debate but at no point has it featured the polarizing cultural status competition that has marked (marred) national political engagement with climate science. Members of the groups divided on the ugly question that struggle poses—which group’s members are competent, enlightened, and virtuous, and which foolish, benighted, and corrupt—have from the start taken for granted that the well-being of all of them demands making appropriate use of the best available scientific evidence on climate.

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/6/27/what-se-florida-can-teach-us-about-the-political-science-of.html

    I don’t think AGW will be solved using only depolarizing initiatives with “modest” effects. Neither does seem Dan. Yet, this is the experiment that is suppposed to show that polarization could vanish if we only used evidence-based science communication, just like he does (except perhaps for his own blog).

    ***

    > [W]hy “should [it] hit a wall soon enough”?

    Kenneth Arrow’s “impossibility” theorem—or “general possibility” theorem, as he called it—answers a very basic question in the theory of collective decision-making. Say there are some alternatives to choose among. They could be policies, public projects, candidates in an election, distributions of income and labour requirements among the members of a society, or just about anything else. There are some people whose preferences will inform this choice, and the question is: which procedures are there for deriving, from what is known or can be found out about their preferences, a collective or “social” ordering of the alternatives from better to worse? The answer is startling. Arrow’s theorem says there are no such procedures whatsoever—none, anyway, that satisfy certain apparently quite reasonable assumptions concerning the autonomy of the people and the rationality of their preferences.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/arrows-theorem/

    For better or for worse, AGW is a political issue. More than that: it has become a wedge issue. No amount of scientific communicatin’ will ever change these facts.

  51. Joshua says:

    izen –
    your acceptance of the mainstream is grounded in the fear of transgressing social ‘norms’…==> ”

    Do you believe that HIV causes Aids? If so, have you built that belief on an investigation of the related medical science? If not, do you attribute your belief merely to conformity?

    Relying on the prevalence of expert opinion is based on more than only conformity. It is a useful heuristic that, while of course it isn’t 100% reliable, makes sense as a way to navigate complicated issues where we can’t master all the relevant information. It seems that you aren’t dealing with the mediating effect of ideological orientation on how people utilize expert opinion.

    ==> “One of the problems in changing individual behavior in regards to obesity and the epidemic diabetes it leads to in some developed societies is that the prevalence of obesity normalises the condition and removes the conformity factor from persuading people their weight problem is real.”

    Do you think that the nomalizing effect that you describe is in any way close to equaling the pressure to conform to the social norm that thinness is desireable? Consider the attitudes towards obesity in countries like Korea and Japan, and the social norms regarding body image in those countries.

    I think that you’re over-extending a real influence to the point where you’re ignoring many of the complexities of complicated social phenomena.

  52. Joshua says:

    M2 –

    I think that you have an idealized view of libertarians, but regardless…

    You seem like an evidence-based guy. What evidence do you use to determine what Kahan can and can’t grok because of his own ideological biases?

  53. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua writes “I think that you have an idealized view of libertarians”

    Yes. When I was considerably younger I imagined I could write science fiction. While the attempt failed, along that road I learned quite a bit of orbital mechanics and gave considerable thought to what kinds of beings would achieve space travel. I decided that highly competitive “monsters” are unlikely to achieve civilization of any kind. Space travel requires huge social investment, but it must be free-will choices, almost “fractal” in the sense that any representative of such a society is actually representative of that society. An example is Boy Scouts or at least Eagle Scouts. It is a worldwide organization and identifies a unique combination of ethics, morals, leadership and followership; freely chosen and yet aligned.

    Libertarians, of the ideal kind, can be aligned. It was such an alignment that created the United States of America; forces at the time existed to prevent it and it required exactly the free-will choices that were made to bring it about.

    “You seem like an evidence-based guy. What evidence do you use to determine what Kahan can and can’t grok because of his own ideological biases?”

    That’s going to require more time than I have right now but a first approximation starts with suggesting you have the causal direction backwards. To understand a thing it must be mirrored internally at which point it becomes predictive and useful. The majority of writing of any person will tend to be expressions of that mirror and will reveal its Great Attractor even if that entity is not directly revealed.

    So you gravitate naturally toward an ideological bias that mirrors what you already believe to be true. This I believe is also the case with religion. I have never “converted” anyone to my religion; on rare occasion I find a kindred spirit that already mirrors my thinking on some things and appreciates the value of an organization of similar thinking, an alignment.

    Dan Kahan is by nature socialist. Not in the dark sinister way the word is sometimes used, but the inevitable cause and consequence of his nature and training: “Prior to coming to Yale in 1999, Professor Kahan was on the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School. He served as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall, of the U.S. Supreme Court (1990-91) and to Judge Harry Edwards of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (1989-90).”
    http://www.culturalcognition.net/kahan/

    So what about Thurgood Marshall? https://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/122/hill/marshall.htm

    That’s an impressive resume’.

    To his credit, he uses scientific methods, or as much of it as applicable, to reveal social and psychological effects that he almost certainly does not himself feel; but which he acknowledges. But by not feeling these forces, he also cannot predict what directions different kinds of people will take and why they will take it. Still, being scientific about it makes it possible to do what otherwise would be impossible, and that is to make reasonable guesses.

    The greatest single evidence in answer to your question is the common tendency to lump libertarians on the right rather than treating libertarians as a third kind of thinking and being. By nature they ought usually to be on the left (liberal) and are really only opposed to the liberty-robbing nature of forced socialism where alignment does not exist and neither does choice.

    Consider this: “Why do white men fear various risks less than women and minorities? Known as the white male effect, this pattern is well documented but poorly understood. … suggests that individuals selectively credit and dismiss asserted dangers in a manner supportive of their preferred form of social organization.”
    http://www.culturalcognition.net/browse-papers/culture-and-identity-protective-cognition-explaining-the-whi.html

    Analysis: Observe and document a phenomenon, but it is “poorly understood”. By whom? By Yale graduates apparently. My Scandinavian ancestors embraced risk and adventure; it isn’t entirely cultural. It is how Scandinavia was discovered and settled; Iceland discovered and settled, Greenland discovered and settled. Without that “gene” for risk taking and adventure Homo Sapiens would never have left Africa.

    So the cultural cognition scientists observe this phenomenon but are safely ensconced in their Ivy League with zero-risk tenure. They can wonder at my desire for adventure, but they will never feel it.

    In conclusion and summary, Dan Kahan chose his field of expertise, and it chooses him in a circularly reinforcing pattern that could not exist except that he mirrors it, and it mirrors him. Yale is one of the most left-leaning institutions in existence trying to study humans as if they were bugs under a glass jar; and for all his own power of cognition I might as well be a bug under a jar. He could ask as you did, but I think not many people, left, right or libertarian, give as much thought to these things as I do, and it isn’t merely arrogance speaking. In my Navy career at far-away and sometimes very unpleasant places I had plenty of time to read and think about a great many things.

  54. redbbs says:

    Andrew Dodds asks
    “Indeed, you have to wonder what kind of event could make people notice global warming without fading into the background.”

    This perhaps?

  55. JCH says:

    OT: for those following developments in Hansen 2015, this new paper looks pertinent:

    http://www.the-cryosphere.net/9/1579/2015/tc-9-1579-2015.pdf

  56. Joshua says:

    Wow. Careful what you ask for, eh?

    Well, I can’t possibly understand all of that, but I guess the gist is that it’s clear that I was wrong whereby I thought that there might be some significant distinction between William Buckley’s ideological orientation (or that of Clarence Thomas, Dick Cheney, Sam Alito), and that of Kahan, or Clinton or Krugman.

  57. Willard says:

    > They can wonder at my desire for adventure, but they will never feel it.

    Wait until you discover Sierra Leone, M2. Or Antartica.

  58. izen says:

    @-Willard
    “I don’t think your point leads where you think it leads.”

    I don’t think where you think where I think my point leads is correct. I may well think my point leads exactly where YOU think it leads… and that is my point!
    (grin)

    @-Joshua
    “Do you believe that HIV causes Aids? If so, have you built that belief on an investigation of the related medical science? If not, do you attribute your belief merely to conformity?”

    As it happens I have enough acquired knowledge about disease processes and genetics to know that HIV causes AIDS. (reverse transcription viruses are inherently fascinating, they may be implicated in the evolution of placental mammals.) However I am much less well informed, and capable of understanding for example, strong encryption methods. I am content to accept the mainstream view as a pragmatic heuristic and because I have no investment in a social tribe that doubts or denies that the common encryption standards used in the financial world are weaker or less secure than the mainstream claims. It that case I think I am rationalising a motive of social conformity, and hope that I would be open to reconsider that belief in the light of further evidence.

    @-“I think that you’re over-extending a real influence to the point where you’re ignoring many of the complexities of complicated social phenomena.”

    Yes, always a problem with very complex systems, getting the balance between root causal factors, the underlying ‘control knobs’, (social conformity/CO2) and the complexity of the system that causal factor acts upon.
    Social systems are vastly more complex than the climate of course!
    (grin)

  59. izen says:

    @-M2
    “The greatest single evidence in answer to your question is the common tendency to lump libertarians on the right rather than treating libertarians as a third kind of thinking and being.”

    I think this is the result of the ‘Duck’ theory of classification. You may claim to be swans, but if you waddle and quack…

    @-” My Scandinavian ancestors embraced risk and adventure; it isn’t entirely cultural. It is how Scandinavia was discovered and settled; Iceland discovered and settled, Greenland discovered and settled. Without that “gene” for risk taking and adventure Homo Sapiens would never have left Africa.”

    I would strongly deplore any attempt to support the ideas of genetic determinism, but there may be an element of truth in the selection of impulsive risk taking among the ancestral colonists.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16251987

    However as this is almost certainly operating at the brain chemsitry level it is also highly environmentally (socially) shaped, probably more akin to weight than height. The traits that make for a good colonist, and libertarian, may not fit you for a society based on Confucian principles. And without colonies to form and people to conquer, the risk-taking and tendency for mania can also result in high mortality in young males. (Accident and suicide)

  60. Willard says:

    > I may well think my point leads exactly where YOU think it leads… and that is my point!

    I thought your point was that the conformity normalization of obesity explained in part the difficulty of getting the dieteticians’ consensus messaging across a population, izen. Mine was that there’s a problem with the coercitive power of dietary science communication if we consider that an obesity pandemic looms over that very population.

    Mansplaining away social trust and authority credibility as rationalization of conformity normalization psychologizes a non-problem for no good reason.

  61. Joshua says:

    izen –

    “. It that case I think I am rationalising a motive of social conformity, and hope that I would be open to reconsider that belief in the light of further evidence.”

    Do you think that we have any beliefs where we aren’t rationalizing a motive for social conformity?

  62. Steven Mosher says:

    “Joshua,
    There was another irony that I think I saw Steven Mosher point out. It was essentially that we constantly hear that “skeptics can’t get their papers published because of the consensus police”, followed by “look, the consensus is only 43%”.

    ya, pretty funny

    of course the predictable response is something like “you only need a few consensus police”
    more funny, one guy cited our difficulties with the “consensus” police, forgetting of course that
    one reviewer was mcKittrick.

  63. izen says:

    @-Willard
    “I thought your point was that the conformity normalization of obesity explained in part the difficulty of getting the dieteticians’ consensus messaging across a population, izen.”

    I think my point was that even if 97% of dieticians warn that excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates causes the obvious initial signs of weight gain and is likely to lead to long term problems is much less effective if the condition is not seen as exceptional, but has become part of the new normal. It is certainly easier to persuade people of the dangers of their behavior if it represents and outlier, than if it is a (recently) embedded part of normal social action.

    @-“Mine was that there’s a problem with the coercitive power of dietary science communication if we consider that an obesity pandemic looms over that very population.

    Yes.
    There is also a problem with the coercitive power of climate science communication if we consider damage from the excessive consumption of hydrocarbons looms over that very population.

    @-“Mansplaining away social trust and authority credibility as rationalization of conformity normalization psychologizes a non-problem for no good reason.”

    Okay. I do see problems with social trust and authority, with accusations of misinformation being spread. Trusting a scientific 97% may be a good bet on grounds of utility, but fails to be anything more than an appeal to (distrusted) authority, a nudge to conform, if unpropaganda raises the suspicion the well has been poisoned.

    @-Joshua
    “Do you think that we have any beliefs where we aren’t rationalizing a motive for social conformity?”

    Only the irrational ones… (Grin)

  64. Willard says:

    > It is certainly easier to persuade people of the dangers of their behavior if it represents and outlier, than if it is a (recently) embedded part of normal social action.

    By “persuade,” you mean coerce, right, izen?

    Grin.

  65. Joshua says:

    izen –

    ==> “Only the irrational ones… (Grin)”

    Was that an actual answer to the question? So you think that the only beliefs that we have, which aren’t just a rationalization for social conformity, are irrational ones? Can you give an example?

  66. Michael 2 says:

    Izen wrote some interesting things which I will reply to interspersed.

    Re: common tendency to lump libertarians on the right rather than treating libertarians as a third kind of thinking and being.

    “I think this is the result of the ‘Duck’ theory of classification. You may claim to be swans, but if you waddle and quack…”

    Your diagnostic tools are imprecise. Explanation: Among my books are Peterson’s Field Guides to birds. They have little black lines pointing to diagnostic features of otherwise very similar looking birds; identical except for certain details but it is exactly those details that make one species different from another. See some white egrets? Look at their feet. If yellow, it is a Snowy Egret. If not, it is probably a Great Egret, which is also quite a bit larger but unless you see them together it won’t be an easy determination.

    So what tools are in the typical toolbox? The primary index and context of this discussion is “conformity to group”. If a person does not conform, diagnostic procedures end right there, no need or purpose is served making a more refined judgment. But the realm of non-conforming is huge — ranging from conforming to a different norm to not conforming to anything external (but still possibly conforming to self-made code of conduct). The great leaders in human history tend to create their own ethics, norms or moral codes that others then follow but in their day such persons are considered outcasts, nonconformists.

    So what is the diagnostic feature of a libertarian? Choice. Other than that, you may well have a duck, a frog, a dog; so if you fail to identify the distinguishing characteristic you might well judge a person to be duck, frog or dog and completely miss the libertarian choice diagnostic feature.

    Choice requires energy, time and labor. It is not efficient. It is not efficient for a society to have all members wrestling with the exact same life decisions over and over multiplied by millions. But the leaders of society must wrestle with these questions on behalf of society. So how does a person become a leader? You don’t. A leader is what you are (or are not) and you cannot very well choose otherwise except at great expense of energy to be something you are not, or even fail to be what your nature has appointed for you.

    I don’t take sides in the Nature vs Nurture argument. It is clear to me that both are relevant and on average perhaps about equal in power but in specific instances one or the other will be decidedly dominant.

    “I would strongly deplore any attempt to support the ideas of genetic determinism, but there may be an element of truth in the selection of impulsive risk taking among the ancestral colonists.”

    I am repeatedly fascinated by the libertarian expressions (non-determinism) of hive members except in the unique case of homosexuality when suddenly it is “genetic”.

    In the movie “American Sniper”, the father explains to his son (who later becomes the sniper of the movie) “There are three kinds of people in the world: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs.” The sheep and wolves are fairly easy to understand; the sheepdogs have an instinct to protect and herd sheep (and children and stuffed animals and many other things). They are similar to wolves in being fighters, but where the wolf eats the sheep using violence, the sheepdog protects the sheep also using violence.

    If your diagnostic toolbox consists only of “is he violent?” then you will be utterly unable to distinguish between a benevolent sheepdog and a dangerous wolf.

    I suspect many traits are latent; that is to say, they live down in the “reptilian brain” and/or amygdala and are triggered only on certain circumstances. They won’t even be known to the person having these traits until they are manifest.
    http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_05/d_05_cr/d_05_cr_her/d_05_cr_her.html

    Some years ago in Washington DC I was entering my place of employment (a Navy facility) when a woman screamed in the adjacent parking garage. I shouted to the guard where I worked to notify the police (on-base “rent a cops” generally) and I took off running toward the garage. I am not a fighter, I’m a geek, but an instinct flared into existence to intervene, and so I did. But so did about 30 other sailors. Curiously, not one civilian on the streets, and there were many, so much as turned to look at the source of the scream. To complete the story, it turned out that a woman had taken money from an ATM and her boyfriend tried to rob her.

    An experiment at MIT if I remember right (pre-internet days) staged a mock fight in the hallway outside of a classroom. In the classroom were three ex-military guys. On hearing the fight, these three men came running out to the hallway to intervene. Only those three.

    This is not and cannot be culturally learned, although of course all traits can be augmented or suppressed by cultural norms. The Boy Scouts in which I am involved places great emphasis on “helping other people at all times.” This is to be a free-will choice, not a mandate, not a law; it is an ideal and the reward for doing good must be internally created. It places great emphasis on duty. I have an instinct for duty; it is the one chain that binds me and indeed I would and do resist having that chain removed.

    “The traits that make for a good colonist, and libertarian, may not fit you for a society based on Confucian principles. And without colonies to form and people to conquer, the risk-taking and tendency for mania can also result in high mortality in young males. (Accident and suicide)”

    Agreed. Darwinism is not a single path through history. One of my favorite stories is “Folk of the Fringe” by Orson Scott Card. It explores much of this very thing. The setting is climate change, a nuclear war has produced “nuclear winter” and the American southwest desert is no longer a desert; ancient Lake Bonneville is refilling and flooding Salt Lake City. To prevent the sandy desert from washing away, people that seek solitude rather than herd are sent out, or invited to go out, or asked to go out, and plant grass on the “fringe” of the desert. Behind them come tree planters and orchard growers.

    So the story explores the mind and behavior of “folk of the fringe” choosing not to live with others. The story follows the actions of a man that, like the sheepdog, follows and protects a family traveling on foot from the devastated east coast westward.

    I do not belong in San Francisco or Seattle. I like both places but only to visit. I feel at home in the mountains or in Alaska (or both at the same time). Iceland is to me the most perfect place on earth — libertarian done right — society is free but aligned on common principles. Few police exist and they are usually not armed. But all Gardens of Eden invite serpents by the very fact of their perfection and innocence. In the case of Iceland, it was financial disaster brought on by the few dishonest people that exist undetected in an otherwise perfectly honest society. They had no tools to discover dishonesty, hardly even a comprehension of the idea.

    So bringing it back to Dan Kahan, he’s trying to measure AC with a DC voltmeter. The needle might vibrate a bit, but it will seem to say “zero” volts when in fact touching it might kill you. What tools exist to measure libertarian? I don’t know; libertarian exists in conjunction with and moderates many other ways of thinking. I am socially liberal but do not believe in imposing my will on others, or having their will imposed on me.

    Examples: Greenways and bicycle paths are great; when I lived in Washington State I would encourage and support such things up to the point of taxing the public for a benefit that only the young and healthy (and largely unemployed) are going to benefit from. So I vote “no” for such things. Were instead it to be user-supported at least in part, a small fee to use the path, then I endorse it. If it is more widely useful, a supermajority, then I will support public funding.

    National health care works great in Iceland, not so great in England, and would probably flop spectacularly in the United States burdened by millions of non-citizens. It isn’t that the idea is bad; it is that the United States (and the soviet union) is too diverse to be a single “society” whatsoever, Confucian or otherwise.

  67. Michael 2 says:

    A reply for both Joshua and Izen:

    On the Cultural Cognition website is discussion of why people deny the existence of danger or dismiss danger. This is binary thinking. Dan Kahan and the Cultural Cognitive project seem to not recognize the third way; acceptance of danger and preparations for it. They, and you, probably acknowledge the existence of that possibility but do not treat it as seriously as its advocates treat it.

    I work with Boy Scouts whose motto is “be prepared”. Sometimes I will ask them, “prepared for what?” Life, among other things.

    200 years ago New York City was a swamp, more or less. In another 200 years it may well return to being a swamp.

    Palmyra, in Syria, was just destroyed by ISIS fanatics (not that ISIS comes any other way). Cities come and go.

    Persons should be prepared for a wide variety of possible dangers. At the personal level one of the greatest is sudden unemployment, or medical emergency which often produces sudden unemployment at the exact moment greater income is needed. Earthquakes are likely where I live but not tornado or hurricane. Sea level rise is inconsequential for me. So what if Leonardo DiCaprio’s new mansion six feet above sea level is inundated? Obviously he isn’t actually worried about sea level rise despite his words.

    Oil and coal will run out, but not suddenly. Depending on the system response parameters the economy could follow this decline gracefully but is more likely to overshoot and then suddenly collapse (Kaibab Plateau deer population crash being an example).

    Society could gracefully and gradually adapt, but it is extremely unlikely to do so — what authority exists that everyone respects? There is no such thing. The American charismatic leader of the left, John F. Kennedy, was widely respected and succeeded with the space program. The charismatic leader of the right, Ronald Reagan, succeeded with the cold war. Who now shall Americans turn to? I don’t worry about New York city being underwater nearly as much as I worry about the next president of the United States.

  68. Willard says:

    > National health care works great in Iceland, not so great in England, and would probably flop spectacularly in the United States burdened by millions of non-citizens.

    On a more serious note: the Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits; the Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits; the Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits; the Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits; the Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.

    This proves beyond reasonable doubt that speaking English is bad for you.

  69. National health care works great in Iceland, not so great in England

    Well, that’s kind of nonsense. The NHS is one of the best, most cost-effective, health care systems in the world. The above is only true if it is defined as “not as great as something better”.

  70. Michael 2 says:

    Willard “Wait until you discover Sierra Leone, M2. Or Antartica.”

    I really wanted to do the overwintering at Antarctica when I was in the Navy. The selection process is highly competitive and rightly so. I have high respect for those that go to Antarctica. I must content myself with small adventures that feel big.

  71. The selection process is highly competitive and rightly so.

    Not the case in South Africa, that’s for sure 🙂

  72. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    ” So you think that the only beliefs that we have, which aren’t just a rationalization for social conformity, are irrational ones? Can you give an example?”

    Well it was meant at least half ironically, but M2 seems to have provided some prime examples…

    “The great leaders in human history tend to create their own ethics, norms or moral codes that others then follow but in their day such persons are considered outcasts, nonconformists.”

    “So how does a person become a leader? You don’t. A leader is what you are (or are not) and you cannot very well choose otherwise except at great expense of energy to be something you are not, or even fail to be what your nature has appointed for you.”

    “I suspect many traits are latent; that is to say, they live down in the “reptilian brain” and/or amygdala and are triggered only on certain circumstances. … … An experiment at MIT if I remember right (pre-internet days) staged a mock fight in the hallway outside of a classroom. In the classroom were three ex-military guys. On hearing the fight, these three men came running out to the hallway to intervene. Only those three.
    This is not and cannot be culturally learned, although of course all traits can be augmented or suppressed by cultural norms.”

    Just one more;

    “National health care works great in Iceland, not so great in England, and would probably flop spectacularly in the United States burdened by millions of non-citizens. ” –

    -Although I think that one probably is a tribal conformity rationalization!

  73. izen says:

    @-M2
    ” Iceland is to me the most perfect place on earth — libertarian done right — society is free but aligned on common principles. ”

    And common genetics…
    Nostalgia for the stability of clan/kinship societies often seems prevalent among those extolling ‘choice’.

  74. izen says:

    @-Willard
    “This proves beyond reasonable doubt that speaking English is bad for you.”

    Isn’t epidemiology informative!
    No wonder 97% of people fail to be coerced by uncertain probabilities.

  75. Michael 2 says:

    izen “Nostalgia for the stability of clan/kinship societies often seems prevalent among those extolling ‘choice’.”

    I suppose so. I lack information on the topic but I suspect nearly everyone prefers the stability of clan/kinship societies inasmuch as that is what exists and thus is “Darwinian”.

    I sense a subtle use of language. Perhaps you mean societies no larger than clan or kinship with its Authoritarian clan leader. I have a doubt that anyone here has experience with such a thing so I wonder about your source of information.

    I presume its alternatives include a society glued together NOT by clan or kinship. The United States, for instance, is glued by its Constitution and Declaration of Independence, namely, glued by *ideals* rather than kinship; and yet to dismiss kinship is to dismiss the real glue that holds this nation together like Velcro; large numbers of interlocking kinships.

    In smaller nations these kinship forces are proportionally stronger; Scotland comes to mind where clan affiliation is strong, perhaps stronger for many than affiliation with the United Kingdom.

    I have never met a person that did not want to choose for himself. Where great variety exists is the degree to which you allow others to make different choices.

  76. Willard says:

    > No wonder 97% of people fail to be coerced by uncertain probabilities.

    Are you sure you did not mean “persuaded” this time, izen?

    I too prefer my probabilities certain.

  77. Joshua says:

    izen –

    That’s not fair, using M2 for examples!

  78. Kevin O'Neill says:

    M2 – You exhibit most of the classic traits that I’ve come to associate with libertarians: most notably cognitive dissonance and selfishness.

    Libertarians believe in property rights and freedom from government coercion. Yet all property rights are the result of government coercion. This is a fundamental flaw that is just swept behind the curtain. It’s typically a selfish desire to have *their* property rights enforced – not the property claims of any competing party.

    Your selection of ‘choice’ as a defining trait is vague to the point of meaninglessness. All democratic countries believe in choice – that’s why they choose their politicians. They’ve decided that social order is better than anarchy. Assume we all get to make our own choices: If I utilize *my individual choice* to drive at 170 mph in traffic it may an acceptable risk to me, but how about all the other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, etc? Did they choose to be run over by an idiot driving as if he was competing in the Indy 500? Exercising individual choice oftentimes means infringing on the choices of others. Again, this is a selfish attitude. It essentially says: My right to choose is greater than the sum off all those who I might infringe upon.

    And then after offering up ‘choice’ as a defining value you go at great lengths to speak of the military. An heirarchical institution that on a daily basis *orders* its members to do what a select few have chosen for them to do. How many Vietnam era soldiers *chose* to go over to southeast Asia and play a game of kill or be killed? How many *chose* to invade Iraq? The military is the antithesis of *choice* – and as a military veteran I know that most of those I met in the military had little interest in ‘duty’ – most joined because of specific life circumstances. Not because they felt a sense of duty. It isn’t a secret that the US military has been disproportionately staffed by the poor, rural, and minority citizens.

    Likewise the Boy Scouts are hardly the organization that I would hold forward as an example of *choice* – it’s little more than a smorgasbord of the standard Christian, patriarchal, 1950s cultural mores. It is an organization that tries to indoctrinate it’s members into *it’s* belief system – and little room has traditionally been left to those who don’t accept that belief system or choose *not* to follow it. As Wiki says, “It has been alleged that BSA may have helped cover-up the abuse cases, sometimes with the aid of police and other officials, “to protect the good name and good works of Scouting.” The reports showed incidents where accused abusers were allowed to continue in the Scouts, and in more than a third of the cases covered in the documents, information about the allegations were not passed on to police.” Again, their choice – to protect their good name – was a purely selfish one. Contradicted their own beliefs. And, like the Catholic Church, protected many pedophiles instead of seeking to have them prosecuted.

    So I’ll repeat, cognitive dissonance and selfishness are the two traits I associate most often with libertarians and nothing you wrote contravenes that analysis.

  79. Joshua says:

    M2 –

    I’m afraid that your comments are too long, too dense, and too filled for me to respond in a complete manner….

    But from what I could understand, and what I did read…

    ==> “Cognitive project seem to not recognize the third way; acceptance of danger and preparations for it”

    Well, you’ve got wiggle room there ’cause you said “seem,” but I read a fair amount of Kahan’s stuff and it doesn’t seem that way to me. I’d say that only extreme outliers can’t recognize a view of acceptance of danger and preparation for it. For you to argue that practically anyone, let alone serious researchers such as those at the CC project, can’t “recognize” your “3rd way” of recognizing danger and preparing for it, looks to me like an argument that could only be produced by some huge-assed motivated reasoning on your part.

    Far more likely, imo, is that you have misconstrued a different perspective on the scale of danger and range of rational responses as being a caricature of someone who exists in your imagination but not in reality.

    I mean this: “They, and you, probably acknowledge the existence of that possibility but do not treat it as seriously as its advocates treat it.” does walk back the earlier statement, and actually, I’m probably in agreement with that latter statement – but then why did you make that earlier statement about what it “seems” like when actually it seems that it isn’t what it seems like to you otherwise you wouldn’t have stated a completely different viewpoint on their point as being probable?

    This goes back to what I said earlier about your idealized views. I’ve run into libertarians who, IMO, don’t fit your soft-focus depiction, and in fact, I’d say that some of Kahan’s views are more libertarian in orientation than anything else. Not only do your views of libertarians seem very idealized, so do your views of, I would guess pretty much anyone, who doesn’t match your true Scottsman colored image of libertarians. .

    And really? Leonardo DiCaprio?

    Anyway, after reading your comments I’m certainly glad that I’ve got that bunker finished…’cause if a tough, military-trained, genetically-predisposed to be a hero-like brave person who doesn’t flinch in the face of danger is a’feared of who our next president might be, then surely a non-genetically predisposed to be a hero, non-military trained, weenie like myself can breathe easier from behind my poured concrete walls.

  80. Willard says:

    FWIW,

    Rationalization is trademarked by that side of the spectrum.

  81. Michael 2 says:

    Willard writes “This proves beyond reasonable doubt that speaking English is bad for you.”

    COL! (Chuckle Out Loud)

  82. Michael 2 says:

    “That’s not fair, using M2 for examples!”

    While quoting most of my post for emphasis. Of course if y’all didn’t get it the first time around you might not get it the second 😉

  83. Joshua says:

    BTW – M2…

    ==> ” I am socially liberal but do not believe in imposing my will on others, or having their will imposed on me.”

    Surprisingly enough, you and I are like two peas in a pod (or a bunker, as it were).

  84. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua writes “but then why did you make that earlier statement about what it “seems” like when actually it seems that it isn’t what it seems like to you otherwise you wouldn’t have stated a completely different viewpoint on their point as being probable?”

    Yes, I think.

    I am conflicted between accuracy and brevity and not apparently succeeding very well at either.

    Izen reminded me of Bob Altemeyer who provides a more specific example, namely the use of surveys whose questions emanate from the cultural bias of the surveyor. It’s like asking why you prefer Big Mac’s without ever offering the survey option “It tastes great”. The surveyor probably didn’t think of it because to him Big Mac’s don’t taste great, so how could anyone choose that option?

    “And really? Leonardo DiCaprio?”

    Yes, it doesn’t get much better. Prior to that my favorite non-scientific celebrity warmist was… Alec Baldwin, rude to everyone and very easy to dislike.

  85. Willard says:

    Watching Haidt’s videos, I stumbled upon this gem:

    In the part starting at 25 min, Haidt explains that what distinguishes humans from monkeys is shared intentionality. Then he shows Tomasello’s experiments on how we and monkeys solve social tasks. In a task where one can find a reward by looking at the experimenter for cues, humans win. No direct coercion was involved in these tasks.

    In other words, our main evolutionary edge is that we can share information. We’re designed to get information from otters around us, and to share intentions among ourselves. There’s no other way to work together. Only then language, division of labor, and morals kick in.

  86. izen says:

    And tolerance is apparently the key…
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982207010172

    Of course some of this may be misinformation… intentional or otherwise!

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  88. Michael 2 says:

    Kevin, your comment is much appreciated. Seldom do I have so much to work with and so great a need.

    “So I’ll repeat, cognitive dissonance and selfishness are the two traits I associate most often with libertarians and nothing you wrote contravenes that analysis.”

    I appreciate also that you are stating your own beliefs which are doubtless immune from alteration by any reason or source; as well you over-estimate my intentions in this regard. I don’t come here to change anyone’s mind; a thing I generally consider impossible, rather I hope to expand the language skills of our readers to make conversation possible.

    Consider misinformation campaigns. You readily accept there’s such a thing against global warming; noting how easy it is to introduce doubt, to change the meaning of words such that you aren’t even sure you are discussing the same thing with another person.

    So it is with “liberty”.

    Patrick Henry, one of the heroes of the United States, said, “Give me liberty or give me death”.
    http://www.history.org/almanack/life/politics/giveme.cfm

    It is worth reading those words attributed to him and perhaps roll back the poisonous meme attacking the very word “liberty” itself.

    We cannot very well come even to mutual disagreement if the same words we use mean such different things to you. Perhaps we are not even in disagreement after all.

    I will probably go over your response line by line, or at least thought by thought, but for now I will try to lay it out as clearly, sharply and well contrasted as possible; at some risk of also being slightly “wrong” in nuances by so doing.

    Liberty is not anarchy. They are opposites.

    Liberty requires agreement and cooperation, willing cooperation I might add. Patrick Henry was trying to persuade his peers, not compel or force them.

    Anarchy requires nothing, it presumes nothing and is force from the very beginning. Haiti after its earthquake demonstrated anarchy. Iceland demonstrates liberty; minimal interference in your personal pursuits.

    Liberty requires mutual awareness, consent and effort. To that end, Iceland’s education system is state-paid (taxpayer paid) all the way through university. They have probably the highest literacy rate on the planet. it is incredibly expensive but their natural resources (and huge debt) pays for it. Their citizen participation in government is the highest I’ve seen anywhere (and is possible with a national population of only a quarter million). Consequently it is easy to observe they have chosen to educate themselves even at this great cost.

    So, using the scales of force and consent, liberty is at one end and anarchy at the other.

    How DARE you conflate these concepts?

    I am not the “denier”, you are. But I don’t fault you for it; your upbringing has probably kept you far away from thinking dangerous thoughts. Nearly all European nations have a “sovereign”, the United States does not. This is very important and penetrates nearly all citizenship and government thinking and expression.

    It speaks to SOA, Source Of Authority (a DNS, domain name system, term of art). In the United States, the SOA is The Person. Not even The People, because The People cannot have a thought unless The Person has it first.

    So it all starts with The Person. You, me. If you cannot think it, neither can The People.

    What gradually happens in a large nation is that direct democracy is impossible. So you delegate your thinking (The Person) to some other Person. After a while you forget that YOU are The Person, and you start to think the Queen of England is The Person. You, your children, through countless generations thereafter will consider the Queen of England to be The Person with swift punishments to anyone that dare think otherwise. Here on the internet that punishment is somewhat limited to ridicule and banishment.

    That is why Patrick Henry was having such a challenge expressing this idea of “liberty” to his peers, all of whom had been born and raised thinking the Crown was The Person, the source of authority, without whom people would be driving 170 miles per hour and all life would end.

  89. Michael 2 says:

    Continuing now with some thoughts in response to Kevin O’Neill:

    In an ancient book are the words, “you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free.”

    Freedom (liberty) requires knowledge. Slavery results from ignorance.

    The ordered society which you prefer, and to an extent so do I, exists because people choose it and for no other reason. True it is that for relatively brief periods of time (decades) a ruler can impose order (Singapore comes to mind) but if the people do not choose it, absolutely nothing prevents you from driving 170 miles per hour. Nothing prevents you from flying an airplane into a building.

    People have to choose honorable behavior, civil behavior, lawful behavior and there is no external force that can guarantee this. Of course, while no guarantee exists it is certainly possible and desirable to persuade young citizens of the mutual value of choosing socially beneficial behaviors. I work with the Boy Scouts on this very thing; by teaching them principles of citizenship, the Boy Scout oath and law, eventually these ideas are internalized and they become each their own enforcer of their own behavior. Citizenship in the world, and in the nation, and in the community are three required merit badges for the rank of Eagle. Typically they attend a city council meeting and observe citizen government in action. I have participated in that activity a few times. I am amazed at how few Americans realize the opportunity that exists, the urgent need that exists, for citizen participation in government.

    I have in the past been ridiculed FOR obeying the law; I have been reproductively challenged also because young women are excited by risk-taking young men. Careful, obedient, young men (me) are not exciting. I was driving and had three passengers in a rather busy part of Palo Alto and on approaching El Camino Real the traffic signal turned yellow. As I had time to stop, I stopped. One of my female passengers expressed astonishment, saying, “Why did you stop for a yellow?” and for the next while I was subjected to quite a lot of ridicule. The fact is that many people watch the opposing signal and will “jump the gun” and start going even before they have their “green”. They might not even get a green at all, but away they go! Well, I’m not going to be the automobile they hit.

    Liberty is not disobedience. Liberty is greatest where obedience is also greatest. If I have faith that everyone obeys the traffic signals I could drive around town with considerably greater tranquility. Instead, I must suppose that every automobile approaching a stop sign is not going to stop, and often enough that’s exactly the case. They don’t stop for red lights. They start before the green. Not all, but I’d say 1 in 100 is likely to ignore traffic controls.

    Minnesota is like heaven on Earth in comparison. Even in rush hour around Minneapolis people signaled for lane changes, left adequate room between moving cars. Civility and politeness rule; but so does ostracism for violation of social norms, a thing that can go on for generations!

  90. Willard says:

    > Patrick Henry was trying to persuade his peers, not compel or force them.

    Then you mean convince, M2, not “persuade.”

    The distinction between to convince and to persuade is why to coerce, in the context under discussion, is far from being optimal. For more on that distinction:

    THE ART of persuasion has a necessary relation to the manner in which men are led to consent to that which is proposed to them, and to the conditions of things which it is sought to make them believe.

    No one is ignorant that there are two avenues by which opinions are received into the soul, which are its two principal powers: the understanding and the will. The more natural is that of the understanding, for we should never consent to any but demonstrated truths; but the more common, though the one contrary to nature, is that of the will; for all men are almost led to believe not of proof, but by attraction. This way is base, ignoble, and irrelevant: every one therefore disavows it. Each one professes to believe and even to love nothing but what he knows to be worthy of belief and love.

    http://www.bartleby.com/48/3/7.html

    This distinction goes as far as Parmenides, and perhaps beyond. Libertarianism is basically rationalism applied to political philosophy.

    The “coercion” trope has been in use since at least Tocqueville and Mill.

  91. Eli Rabett says:

    Libertarians are a con man’s dream. Of course, like everything weird it cannot fail, but only be failed.

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  93. re “skeptics can’t get their papers published because of the consensus police”

    Has anyone actually done a study comparing the relative rate of acceptance (per application and eventual) for skeptic papers vs. mainstream climate science papers, and also for rate of approval of skeptic research projects?

    I understand that not every paper is accepted for publication and not every research project is ever approved. Some (like Dr. Curry) claim that it is more difficult for skeptic papers or projects to get approved, but is that actually true? Is there any real evidence for that at all?

  94. Gator says:

    @M2 “using the scales of force and consent, liberty is at one end and anarchy at the other.”
    ” Liberty is greatest where obedience is also greatest. ”
    Patrick Henry, in the passage you linked, made the opposition of liberty and slavery.
    I’m confused about what you are trying to convey… Normally slavery compels obedience, which according to you is where liberty is the greatest. So slavery => liberty? Patrick Henry is confused.

    Does the US Libertarian Party count as “Libertarian” in your book?
    http://www.lp.org/platform
    Their platform seems to oppose the concept that liberty depends on obedience. Obedience to who/what?

    Anarchy as a political philosophy seems similar to the Libertarian platform except that the Libertarians want enough government left to protect their property; anarchists want zero government. In this way they seem like the ultimate Libertarians, libertarianism taken to the limit gov -> zero.

    I’m curious if you could point to examples of real life movements/parties/philosophers that explain your seemingly non-standard usage of the words liberty, anarchy, obediance, force and consent.

  95. Michael 2 says:

    This hopefully will be the last I have to say in response to your comment. I apologize for the large size; I pruned it several times to make it shorter but any less than this fails to answer the comment.

    Kevin O’Neill writes

    “M2 – You exhibit most of the classic traits that I’ve come to associate with libertarians: most notably cognitive dissonance and selfishness.”

    Thank you. I don’t consider myself all that libertarian; it is a thing that comes in degrees and nuances, but to be recognized for any of it is pretty good praise.

    “Libertarians believe in property rights and freedom from government coercion.”

    Some do, some don’t. That’s the mystery of libertarian. Double Plus YMMV.

    I believe (prefer) that my house not be intruded upon by trespassers. Are you so different?

    I believe (prefer) to make choices without government coercion such as dictating the size of a soft drink:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugary_Drinks_Portion_Cap_Rule

    Rights do not exist, not “ex nihilo” anyway: Metaphysical magical “rights” that simply exist without origin or cause.

    What exists is power. You defend what you consider to be yours; and you with as many people as you can persuade make a social contract whereby you define acceptable interpersonal behavior. You might call these agreements “rights”, but they are just agreements that can be ignored or abrogated particularly by persons that did not subscribe to that social contract, a conspicuous example being illegal immigrants.

    “Yet all property rights are the result of government coercion.”

    Well there’s a new claim I haven’t seen before. “Rights” are ephemeral, virtual; they have no tangible existence. A new right comes into existence the instant anyone thinks of it. The challenge is persuading anyone else that you have a “right”. It’s a bit like children claiming to each other to be “bulletproof” or any kind of proof from imaginary weapons. It’s tedious.

    TITLE to land is simply a document of my claim and is recognized only by the society that issued it.

    “This is a fundamental flaw that is just swept behind the curtain. It’s typically a selfish desire to have *their* property rights enforced – not the property claims of any competing party.”

    (duh) Well, yes of course. If you are trespassing in my house I will certainly have a selfish desire to remove you from my house. If you are in someone else’s house (but not mine) then it is up to that someone else to decide what to do about it especially if his sense of “property right” is not the same as mine.

    “Your selection of ‘choice’ as a defining trait is vague to the point of meaninglessness.”

    I expect you not to comprehend, for if you did, you would be a lot more like me!

    Honoring “choice” as a principle means that I grant to you choice, as much as I grant it to myself. Anarchy results from not granting other people choice; you don’t care about them at all. Liberty is greatest when we have mechanisms in place to negotiate the overlap or conflict between your choices and mine and the resulting negotiation is honored and that means the participants must possess honor which as you point out is somewhat rare (my words for your idea).

    “All democratic countries believe in choice – that’s why they choose their politicians.”

    Pedant alert: Countries cannot believe in anything. People do the believing.

    I speak of honoring other people’s choices as well as making my own.

    Liberty is mutual regard for choices; anarchy is my choice only, socialism/communism is the sovereign’s choice only. Democracy is the majority choice only; up to 49 percent can have the sh*t stomped out of them by the 51 percent and it’s okay in Democracy, there is NO regard (by definition) for the minority in a Democracy.

    “They’ve decided that social order is better than anarchy.”

    Why do you equate democracy with social order? A democracy can easily vote to be disordered. The correct word is “ordered society” usually associated with socialism which seems to also require democracy for its magical power to impose its rules on the population.

    T.H. White expresses what seems to be your kind of order this way: “Everything not forbidden is compulsory”. Hopefully you are as horrified by this as I am, and yet it works for ants and bees, Russians and North Koreans — not that Russians and Koreans *like* it, but it is a system slightly better than no system at all.

    “Assume we all get to make our own choices: If I utilize my individual choice to drive at 170 mph in traffic it may an acceptable risk to me, but how about all the other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, etc?”

    They’d better get out of the way, that’s what! We already get to make our own choices!

    Libertarians obey laws; I obey them more strictly than most people I know. Obedience to law enhances liberty — mine and yours at the same time. Because I obey traffic laws, your liberty to travel is enhanced and so is mine.

    I even go to the trouble to try to learn them which is a very depressing activity after you’ve plowed through several thousand laws and realize they overlap to the extent that really nothing is legal. There’s even some commentary on the internet about the three felonies a day every citizen commits.

    http://www.threefeloniesaday.com/Youtoo/tabid/86/Default.aspx

    “Did they choose to be run over by an idiot driving as if he was competing in the Indy 500?”

    That would be a difficult choice to implement; maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. If he chose to stand on the freeway, then he has at least in part chosen his consequence but this is drifting away from liberty.

    “Exercising individual choice oftentimes means infringing on the choices of others.”

    Nearly always and sometimes not in obvious ways. It can have basically two outcomes: Either neighbors go to war (feud), or they negotiate mutual boundaries on the conflict.

    “Again, this is a selfish attitude. It essentially says: My right to choose is greater than the sum of all those who I might infringe upon.”

    You describe anarchy. I describe libertarian. Very different things. Anarchy doesn’t even argue “rights”; he doesn’t care about you or your rights. They don’t exist. No comparison is made. A libertarian instinctively knows that you have exactly the same “rights” that he has.

    “And then after offering up ‘choice’ as a defining value you go at great lengths to speak of the military.”

    Yes. Liberty is a delicate thing that requires protection. The more delicate the thing to be protected the more aggressive must be the protection. Also, having a military career where, as you say, not much liberty exists makes a person acutely aware of its meaning and value.

    “An heirarchical institution that on a daily basis orders its members to do what a select few have chosen for them to do.”

    Yes, that is a good description of any leader-follower situation. Strange that you seem not to grasp the same function in climate wars. There’s a few leaders and millions of followers, and in between, the NCO’s (middle managers) that carry out these orders of carbon credits, reductions, and so on. Paris is holding some meetings at which a few dozen people imagine they are going to dictate the energy future of 7 billion people. How strong is your complaint about that?

    “How many Vietnam era soldiers chose to go over to southeast Asia and play a game of kill or be killed?”

    17,432

    Or something like that. Really I have no idea; more than zero because I knew some men that loved it over there and had spent more than ten years at it. The movie “Hurt Locker” is relevant and my son-in-law goes to Afghanistan regularly to do exactly the Hurt Locker thing. He seems to love it. He’s doing good and it is very exciting.

    I chose to join the Navy during the Vietnam war, imagining that to be my safest choice of not very good choices. It turned out to be probably the best thing that could have happened.

    “How many chose to invade Iraq?”

    I have no idea and neither do you. What I know is they chose to join the military. That’s their choice. That sets in motion events over which you have no choice.

    If I jump off a cliff, that act was my choice. I cannot choose not to fall, and I cannot choose the consequence of hitting the ground at the base of the cliff.

    The chain of consequences of any choice is not usually up for a vote.

    “The military is the antithesis of choice – and as a military veteran I know that most of those I met in the military had little interest in duty”

    The choice is in joining. After that, not so much. As to how many have a sense of duty; in my era it was pretty good — Vietnam era Navy, people that were smart joined the Navy rather than be drafted. We had brilliant people (including me) in the Navy.

    “Likewise the Boy Scouts are hardly the organization that I would hold forward as an example of choice – it’s little more than a smorgasbord of the standard Christian, patriarchal, 1950s cultural mores.”

    I’m not sure why you believe I consider the military or the Boy Scouts (boy military) to be models of choice. Instead, they are models of duty and heirarchy. All humans, well most and males mostly, naturally form heirarchies. It cannot be avoided. You are surrounded by them.

    With that in mind you can try to shape these hierarchies into socially useful forms, or let them become wolf packs or dog packs, roaming streets with no rules other than they make for themselves. That is indeed anarchy.

    Libertarians (IMO, the True Scotsman thing) ought to recognize that liberty is maximized when all such “little” heirarchies are aligned on some common principles that reduce conflict.

    So what could possibly align little heirarchies? That’s easy — a big one! The respect commanded by “Eagle Scout” must be earned, and it must be respected, and it must mean pretty much today what it meant 50 or 100 years ago. That means conformity to the rules by which it is earned. It can be no other way. There must be rules, they must be respected. So two heirarchies exist — the one for boys, and the one for men that were boys and now recognize and respect other men because, and sometimes solely because, they are Eagle Scouts.

    You choose your action; you do not choose the consequences of it.

    “It is an organization that tries to indoctrinate it’s members into *it’s* belief system”

    Thank you! It offers 130 merit badges a hierarchy, and several ranks to facilitate “do my duty to God and my country, to obey the scout law and to help other people at all times.”

    If a young man subscribes to that belief, that is a great thing for any society. Perhaps you need a reminder on the scout law; I will try it from memory: “a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”

    Is that such a bad indoctrination? What part of this do you find offensive?

    “and little room has traditionally been left to those who don’t accept that belief system”

    There should be NO room unless the organization wishes it. You are free to create an organization and mandate that your members shave their heads only on the left side, they must be shaved on the left and unshaved on the right. Anyone that does not comply is expelled.

    Simple, no? You have liberty, your members have liberty; but it is your creation, therefore you make the rules! Their liberty is to join or leave your organization.

    When the Boy Scouts abandons its rules, I will abandon the Boy Scouts, soon as I can find a responsible person to hand my duties to. I don’t blame the young men for the decisions made by the organization but I see a train wreck coming, figuratively speaking, by abandoning rules it is hardly different than a locomotive running off the rails.

  96. Michael 2 says:

    Gator, not having nearly enough of this, comments:

    “I’m confused about what you are trying to convey”

    Yes, I expect as much. It is not a simple concept for many.

    “Normally slavery compels obedience”

    No! At best, slavery compels acquiescence. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/acquiescence

    Obedience is a choice. Willing to comply with the commands, orders, or instructions of those in authority.
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/obedient

    “Patrick Henry is confused.”

    Easy for you to say 😉

    “Does the US Libertarian Party count as “Libertarian” in your book?”

    No. In my book there can be no such thing as a Libertarian Party. The concept is as amusing as a church for atheists. How can there be a “party” for people that owe no allegiance to anyone else?

    However, nothing prevents libertarians from forming parties for any reason or no reason and calling it anything they wish.

    Since “no true libertarian” is going to form a Libertarian Party, the name is up for grabs by anyone that wants it.

    “http://www.lp.org/platform Their platform seems to oppose the concept that liberty depends on obedience. Obedience to who/what?”

    I do not speak for them. My thoughts are an amalgamation of many writers on the topic of liberty combined with a very similar understanding of freedom and truth. It even has religious elements (the truth shall make you free).

    Physical slavery is well enough understood; but mental slavery happens when you are stripped of the actual ability to choose from among competing “memes” usually by poisoning language so that words no longer mean what they meant. George Orwell has a lot to say on this: Newspeak.

    For instance, many writings were published on liberty in the early days of the United States. Europe and socialists generally find those thoughts dangerous. Since you cannot stop people from using the word “liberty” instead you change its meaning, leaving NO WORD whatsoever that once was described by “liberty”.

    “Anarchy as a political philosophy seems similar to the Libertarian platform”

    Yes, that is part of the modification of language.

    “I’m curious if you could point to examples of real life movements/parties/philosophers that explain your seemingly non-standard usage of the words liberty, anarchy, obediance, force and consent.”

    I am the example. Is there some other Authority you bend a knee to? I would love to provide you with a list of founder’s commentaries but it’s wandering a bit off topic and yet, inherent in all is is indeed “misinformation” about liberty (not global warming).

  97. M2 – Your beliefs are incoherent. I’m reminded of the Talking Heads lyric, “you’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything…” I’m a military veteran. I’m a former BoyScout. I’m a former altarboy. I’ve been active in politics and even managed political campaigns. So this notion you have that somehow your background is special or that others would believe as you if they had the same experiences is pretty much nonsense.

    Any criticism of ‘libertarians” is shrugged off with the ‘No True Scotsman’ argument. You even admit this, but obviously do not find it troubling. Hint: this is a bug, not a feature. It’s why your philosophy is incoherent and inconsistent.

    “do my duty to God and my country” — you believe it is good to indoctrinate children into a belief system that has historically led to conflict and immeasurable human suffering. Much like your non-concept of libertarianism, I suspect you have non-concepts of ‘duty,’ ‘god,’ and ‘country.’

    I have little truck with nationalism. I have no use for mythic beings. I refused to let my children be indoctrinated into either belief system. Instead I exposed them to many different worldviews. When they asked what I believed I offered them the words of Thomas Paine: “My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.

  98. Michael 2 says:

    Kevin O’Neill writes “M2 – Your beliefs are incoherent.”

    As are yours. However, I do try to understand them. All beliefs, and expressions thereof, exist in a context without which things will seem “incoherent”. That context includes all referential material and their meanings, the personality type of the beholder and the catalog of all meanings.

    What I lack to understand you is that vast repertoire of your experiences that cause you to prefer some things and avoid others in ways that differ from my preferences. You are obviously intelligent therefore your choices reflect the sum total of your experiences. Some of those experiences can be unlikely while at the same time being profoundly influential on your choices. A friend of mine, regretably now dead, was in the Vietnam War and he woke up one night by the sound of his own rifle fire; in his sleep he had shot down through his cot and killed a VC that had snuck into the… I don’t remember if it was tent, barracks or whatever, but they would sneak in and knife soldiers so that in the morning the platoon would find just one of their men dead. Anyway, he was extremely jumpy and dangerous for the rest of his life and required personal space. You did NOT walk up to him and place a friendly hand on his shoulder and he had to explain that hundreds of times since otherwise people judged him to be hostile and unfriendly when in fact I scarcely know anyone more charitable, giving and forgiving than him.

    “I’m a military veteran.”

    As am I, but so what? There’s a vast difference between geeky me running a military command and control center mainframe versus the above mentioned buddy in kill-or-be-killed Vietnam. His first day in Vietnam was a serious wake-up call; a boy came running to greet him but the soldier that came to escort shot the boy, who a moment later exploded. The VC had sewn a bomb inside the child and sent the child to the Americans. That’s the kind of thing that makes a man ask, “What kind of God would allow that?” and it takes a Mormon to answer it. That’s what he became, more or less. YMMV

    “I’m a former Boy Scout.”

    As was I. I think I have three merit badges. Maybe 5. It conveys nothing about your choice in the matter. At 12 I have no memory of choosing anything. At 17 I chose to earn the money and hike across the high Sierras from Giant Forest over to Lone Pine. It is also where I learned that “choice” is merely a door, a gate; you enter it but once entered the remaining path is not particularly yours to choose. You don’t choose consequences, you choose your action.

    “I’m a former altarboy.”

    As was I, extremely briefly (just one time). I’m not sure why it was so brief other than my father is and was an atheist; but every atheist I’ve ever met is actually a flavored anti-theist. He is much worse than you at imagining my arguments and conducting them for me.

    “I’ve been active in politics and even managed political campaigns.”

    Good for you! The closest I’ve come to that is photographing a candidate and the occasional letters to the editor.

    “So this notion you have that somehow your background is special or that others would believe as you if they had the same experiences is pretty much nonsense.”

    Of course my background is special. That is what distinguishes me from bees and ants and Democrats. I have no doubt that you will not find another “me” among the 7 billion humans on Earth. Take 7 billion people; filter out everyone that did NOT attend a one-room school out in the middle of the desert. Filter out everyone that did not learn to read starting with Rudyard Kipling rather than “see spot run”. Filter out anyone that had religion in the home.

    Keep the INTP.

    It’s a wonder that I exist.

    “Any criticism of libertarians is shrugged off with the No True Scotsman argument.”

    By Jove, I think you’ve got it!

    “You even admit this, but obviously do not find it troubling.”

    I find it amusing, actually. It is a bit like a bunch of people arguing over who is more “groo” as if there existed a meaningful definition of “groo”.

    “It’s why your philosophy is incoherent and inconsistent.”

    One of the interesting aspects of science fiction and probably its entire purpose is exploring ideas. An example is found in Star Trek (TNG). Hugh, a Borg, has been isolated from his Collective. We find him like a baby, certain concepts are alien, meaningless, incoherent. One such is the concept of “self”. As he slowly grasps it, he is horrified at the loneliness he imagines must permeate the Star Trek crew.

    My philosophy is incoherent to you; its coherency is not an intrinsic property of a philosophy (generally speaking). Where it seems inconsistent is because I use words differently than you; they are woven carefully together at my end but at your end may well be frayed by the different meanings you put on words.

    “you believe it is good to indoctrinate children into a belief system that has historically led to conflict and immeasurable human suffering.”

    Yes. The alternative is to let children raise themselves and I believe this nation is becoming an example of the result of that failure to teach “thou shalt not kill” and a few other socially useful rules. The Second Great commandment I consider to be the first; the distillation of Christianity and Boy Scouts: Serve other people and do a good turn daily!

    I wish my indoctrination was more successful, but the silver lining in that cloud is that if I cannot teach my children moral values, neither can you or any other marxist.

    “Much like your non-concept of libertarianism, I suspect you have non-concepts of duty, god, and country.”

    True enough. But you could have guessed that purely from “INTP”. INTP’s aren’t sure of anything; everything has degrees and nuances. One thing only I have decided for sure: Cogito ergo sum. Everything else is subject to changes great or small as new evidence becomes available.

    “I have little truck with nationalism.”

    You sound just like my father. Atheist, Marxist, communist. He enjoys the benefits of his nation but he wishes it didn’t exist. Now that is some confusion and inconsistency!

    “I have no use for mythic beings.”

    Perhaps they have no use for you 😉

    I love dragons, for instance. It is an archetype. Carl Jung was onto something but I did not pursue it, and I did not pursue him, but such as I read I think he was more correct than Sigmund Freud.

    I cannot see myself or understand myself except by reflection; and if I reflect on you then my reflection is mixed with your projections and that is more muddled than before I started. But projecting off mythical beings its existence is entirely and solely my projection and it allows me to see “me”, or at least part of me.

    “I refused to let my children be indoctrinated into either belief system.”

    Either? There’s rather more than two. I have discovered that pretty much everyone’s attempts to indoctrinate my children fail spectacularly — my attempts, the left-wing public education system, we cannot even get mathematics to go in correctly. My daughter came home one day and announced “Doctor King separated the blacks from the whites!” and it was a chuckle out loud moment. Black history, muddled by a child.

    “Instead I exposed them to many different worldviews.”

    As do I, although perhaps less intentionally as you. Choice has no meaning unless a range of choices exists to choose from.

    “When they asked what I believed I offered them the words of Thomas Paine: My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.“

    THAT, my friend, is Christianity (and I think Buddhism and perhaps Confucianism) exactly. If they accepted any of your words then you have done better than I.

  99. Michael 2 says:

    Willard writes “Then you mean convince, M2, not persuade.”

    Yes, you are correct; it would have been more coorrect and complete for me to say Patrick Henry was trying to convince his peers through persuasion. They could also become convinced by their own reading and study.

    I have a sense that these words denote speaker and listener. I persuade you (the action); you become convinced (the consequence). If I reverse them the idea is still there but it seems odd: I convince you and you are persuaded.

    “If you have been convinced,”
    http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/38438/whats-the-difference-between-persuade-and-convince

  100. Willard says:

    > it would have been more coorrect and complete for me to say Patrick Henry was trying to convince his peers through persuasion.

    One does not simply pretend to convince when one tries to persuade in Mordor, M2.

  101. Michael 2 says:

    Eli suggests http://www.salon.com/2015/03/02/my_libertarian_vacation_nightmare_how_ayn_rand_ron_paul_their_groupies_were_all_debunked/

    “Last month, I spent my final vacation night in Honduras in San Pedro Sula, considered the most dangerous city outside of the war-torn Middle East. I would not have been scared, except that I traveled with my wife and our four children, aged 5, 7, 14 and 18.”

    That’s about what I expect from Salon writers. Danger, shmaynjer! Let’s all go to San Pedro Sula!

    However, I am one step closer to knowing where y’all get such misinformation so I appreciate your link.

    In George Orwell’s story, the mythic enemy was personified as Goldstein and the enemy was variously Oceania and something else. The sheeply left requires an enemy person (Bush, soon to be Trump OMG) and an enemy concept, preferably one so poorly defined that you can define it any way you want (Libertarian).

    It’s good for a laugh; thank you! 🙂

    I would offer up a more detailed analysis of his experience but I believe you are neither interested nor up to the challenge.

  102. Michael 2 says:

    Eli, it appears that reader comments are not particularly favorable toward that common-sense-challenged person that took his little children on vacation to San Pedro Sula. This reader says it best. What the Salon writer describes is anarchy which so many readers of this block mistakenly equate with libertarian. Libertarian is an opposite of anarchy; not “the” opposite since generally speaking human possibilities are trinary, not binary. Those possibilities include anarchy (no law or government at all), socialism/communism (ordered society, one person controlling everything), libertarian (cooperatively ordered society).

    What I do not understand is that with these clearly stated profound distinctions, why so many readers cannot see these distinctions. I suspect that since so many readers have exactly the same misinformation I am tempted to suspect a campaign of misinformation on the topic.

    The only libertarian society I know by personal experience is Iceland. It is also socialist in the sense of public education and medical care, but the people chose it to be that way. Their citizen participation in government is vastly greater than the United States and I presume Canada (or any other western nation). It is what they want and I encountered no opposition to it while I was there.

    As I have written several times, the greatest distinction between anarchy and libertarian is the extent to which I impose my will on you. Anarchists impose their will on each other, libertarians do not. Socialists tend to impose their will on each other and thus have more in common with anarchists than with libertarians.

    Alexander Barber Mar 25, 2015 writes (edited for brevity)

    I see nothing more than a misguided attack on libertarianism by yet another hypocrite who does not understand what libertarianism is. …

    The situation in Honduras is far more complex than the author is willing to acknowledge, and without going into too much detail, the problems in Honduras are not the result of Libertarian ideas, nor is the present day government of Honduras even a shadow of Libertarian philosophy, …

    By most accounts, the interim government was essentially a military dictatorship, and a fairly totalitarian one at that, with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty international, as well as numerous other human rights organizations documenting repulsively countless instances of violent sexual assaults, judges and reporters being threatened at gunpoint, arbitrary detentions of innocent civilians without charges, needless military violence, and even the illegal detention and violent assaults of the Nicaraguan, Venezuelan, and Cuban ambassadors, all at the hands of the interim government.

    Libertarian philosophy argues that consent, voluntary association, political freedom, self ownership, and private property rights are the most sacred rights of all human beings. While there are numerous different schools of libertarian thought (that’s putting it mildly), those aims are the unifying paradigm amongst them.

  103. Eli Rabett says:

    But Michael, it’s so safe when everybunny is carrying an AK.

  104. anoilman says:

    Eli Rabett: No ID check for assault rifles at gun shows!

  105. Michael 2 says:

    Izen, here’s an interesting (to me) item relevant to your claim of autism:

    http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/girl-12-beats-einstein-and-stephen-hawking-to-get-top-score-in-iq-test/story-fnet08ui-1227514524634

    “She believes kids with preternaturally advanced abilities may store memories in their cerebellums, where most of us store our motor memories.”

    Interesting, because I did not learn to ride a bicycle until I was about 12 and it was an ordeal. Once I learned it I became very skilled at it.

    I still cannot put a basketball through a hoop even if I am standing nearly under it. On the other hand I am very good with a flight simulator or any other thing where I can see and correct my movements. But if the system response is too quick (faster than my eye-hand coordination) then I overcorrect (very bad for twitchy acrobatic model helicopters). Teaching my body to provide just the right amount of correction before I see the error seems quite difficult. Hooray for Phoenix RC flight simulator.

    “Child geniuses can face hardships, struggling to make friends and encountering existential questions at an early age. All parents can really do is let nature take its course.”

    Got that part right, too. But it is a mistake to call it a “struggle”, at least for me; I wasn’t *seeking* friends. I eventually found them, and they me; and such things are very durable. I correspond regularly with my childhood friends.

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