Heartland and Discovery Institutes - Not So Strange Bedfellows

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Because of the cognitive dissonance required to buy into pseudoscientific beliefs, it’s not surprising when an adherent of one pseudoscience is sucked into believing another one. For example, there is considerable overlap between advocates of 9/11 Truth beliefs and advocates of anti-Semitic causes, or between young-earth creationists and climate change deniers. The Discovery Institute has been engaging in climate-change denial for some time (see here and here, for example), so it’s really not surprising to see today’s banner article on the Heartland Institute’s news page by Discovery’s Casey Luskin. (Last we saw, Luskin was was attacking Neil deGrasse Tyson and COSMOS with straw-man misrepresentations.)

Luskin’s July 10th article in Heartland’s site is titled “Nation’s Schools Targeted with Mythical Alarmist ‘Consensus’ Program.”. The post is

… the first in a two-part column on how the National Center for Science Education is targeting the nation’s schools to enforce a mythical consensus on global warming alarmism.

Discuss.

66 Comments

Richard Hoppe has a post on some of the specific pseudoscientific overlaps here, from May 28th, 2013.

With respect to the DI and Luskin of the Great Squeak, it should be remembered that climate-change denial likely has a rather greater potential for generating funds for pseudoscientists than any version of creationism has.

Glen Davidson

The Heartland Institute is really excavating beneath the bottom of the barrel now. This is the same think-tank that had a plan to mail out propaganda for use in public schools which would lie about the science of climate change, as revealed by some purloined documents.

Heartland’s latest idea, the documents say, is a plan to create a curriculum for public schools intended to cast doubt on mainstream climate science and budgeted at $200,000 this year. The curriculum would claim, for instance, that “whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy.”

Shortly after that revelation, they put up a billboard comparing people who accept global warming to the Unabomber. Along with the billboard came a boisterous press release stating (among several other hilarious things):

The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.

They had a whole series planned out that would also include Osama bin Laden, Charles Manson, and Fidel Castro… until sane people everywhere blew up at the sheer malicious stupidity of it. They backpedaled almost immediately and said it was just a stunt to (in their view) turn the tables on those mean Warmist bullies who say nasty things about honest, well-mannered Denialists like themselves. It was too late to salvage much of their funding as big-name donors dropped them left and right. All because the Heartland Institute let their mask slip for a moment and told us how they really see the world.

I think Casey Luskin will fit right in.

“Unholy relationship”, “a marriage made in heaven”, take your pick. I, however believe these two choices aren’t clear enough, better to describe this union as “the blind leading the blind”.

I also believe “psudoscientific beliefs” is a phrase which dangerously gives vailed legitimacy to quacks, “non-science beliefs” is more accurate and also comes very close to sounding like, “nonsense”.

Legitimacy is extremely important to these groups, nothing gets their goat more than being ignored, for the very good reason concerning their ignorance of all things sciency. Dembsky is of course the king of desperate scientific underachievers bawling for attention, and then like an ignored six yearold, stomping his feet petulantly before running to his bedroom and slamming the door.

‘Heartland’ and ‘Discovery’, Jesus bloody Christ!

robert van bakel said: I also believe “psudoscientific beliefs” is a phrase which dangerously gives vailed legitimacy to quacks, “non-science beliefs” is more accurate and also comes very close to sounding like, “nonsense”.

I do not like the phrase “non-science belief” to describe something which is properly described as a political/social/religious campaign, not an alternative idea/hypothesis/theory. Pseudosciences are things astrology or palm reading or dowsing, which intend to give an account or explanation.

One should not forget that the Heartland Institute was originally set up by the tobacco companies to disseminate propaganda disputing the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Apparently, that money tree has dried up so they moved on to obtain funding from the Koch brothers and the energy companies to disseminate propaganda disputing AGW. Hey, grifters got to grift.

ksplawn said:

Shortly after that revelation, they put up a billboard comparing people who accept global warming to the Unabomber. Along with the billboard came a boisterous press release stating (among several other hilarious things):

The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.

The prominent “advocates of global warming” whom I see regularly in seminars and scientific meetings are hiding their murderous, tyrannical, and insane tendencies pretty well. In fact, they are rather cordial in person.

Carl Drews said:

The prominent “advocates of global warming” whom I see regularly in seminars and scientific meetings are hiding their murderous, tyrannical, and insane tendencies pretty well. In fact, they are rather cordial in person.

That’s because they are very good at hiding those tendencies.

Matt G said:

Carl Drews said:

The prominent “advocates of global warming” whom I see regularly in seminars and scientific meetings are hiding their murderous, tyrannical, and insane tendencies pretty well. In fact, they are rather cordial in person.

That’s because they are very good at hiding those tendencies.

I must have missed that class in grad school. :-)

I think “advocates of global warming” is badly phrased; nobody with sense, relevant knowledge, and empathy for other people likes the conclusions of global warming.

ksplawn said:

Heartland’s latest idea, the documents say, is a plan to create a curriculum for public schools intended to cast doubt on mainstream climate science and budgeted at $200,000 this year. The curriculum would claim, for instance, that “whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy.”

Christ, I could spend $200,000 so much better than that, even if I just spent it completely selfishly on ridiculously priced wines and cognacs and some very fun nights out. It would still be infinitely better spent money. :(

There are certainly convergences between Heartland Institute and the Discovery Institute. But there are discordances too. The DI is an outgrowth of the Religious Right, while the Heartland Institute cares more about defending Big Money.

This can’t make for an easy relationship, except in the sense that each movement knows it needs the other.

There are always people who dislike what “THEY” say, whoever “they” are.

Nine out of ten dentists recommend Crest. Well, what about that other dentist. Maybe he’s on to something.

So, these various “institutes” focus on the cranks and feed their delusions; for a price!

Can you imagine what the Disco Tute would have to do to turn an honest buck? Maynard G. Krebs said it best, “Work!”

I’d think Gov. Perry, the Texas BOE, and their legislators would be the first in line to adopt any such anti-climate change curricula materials, no matter what the cost. Perry would likely even give ‘em a Texas sized tax break.

The point might be about a pro evolution/anti creation group extending its private agenda with another propaganda cause. tHat is indoctrinate kids to conclusions about global warming. There is no global warming from man but instead its just the establishment/upper classes wanting a more clean pristine environment for their second and third home. However creationism is a separate subject. it all merges because of how error runs rampant in circles that call themselves scientists. I’m sure heaps of creationists think global warming is true and some evolutions, out of character, are skeptical and denying man affects this globe with puffs of smoke or smog. The ID movement is not from the religious right but from traditional scholarly consent with a god behind nature without belief in genesis. however evolutionism is rooted in left wing ism and shall, like them, be sent to the trash heap of history along with commies and socialiosm and aggresion for world empires like the soviets. Remember them? Seems like a bad dream. It wasn’t a dream. Modern creationism will prevail just as modern captialism and democracy and nationalism.

Henry J said:

I think “advocates of global warming” is badly phrased; nobody with sense, relevant knowledge, and empathy for other people likes the conclusions of global warming.

However, I have heard people say that maybe warm weather might turn out for the better. A longer growing season for crops, for example. Not that I’d heard that from an “advocate of global warming”, to be sure.

Carl Drews said:

ksplawn said:

Shortly after that revelation, they put up a billboard comparing people who accept global warming to the Unabomber. Along with the billboard came a boisterous press release stating (among several other hilarious things):

The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.

The prominent “advocates of global warming” whom I see regularly in seminars and scientific meetings are hiding their murderous, tyrannical, and insane tendencies pretty well. In fact, they are rather cordial in person.

Actually, the advocates of global warming are the deniers. They’re the ones who advocate for actions that cause global warming.

I personally wish that the denial was true. It would be great if global warming wasn’t a relevant issue.

Unfortunately, I personally believe that there is more deliberate, conscious lying going on, by climate change denialists, than by creationists.

Sure, creationists all deny climate change, and I’ve noted before the creationists as a group are mainly lacking in self-awareness, full of themselves, authoritarian in thinking pattern, and more or less convinced by their own self-serving biases. They don’t go home and break down in evil laughter at their deception. They obsessively battle any tendency to doubt their own agenda.

Among non-creationist climate change deniers, it’s my subjective impression that the proportion of more or less conscious liars may be higher. Actual clinking of cocktail glasses at private events, and bursts of evil laughter, in celebration of a deliberate successful deception, may be more common. At least that’s the impression I get from Heartland Institute types. This is subjective conjecture, though.

Be that as it may, we need to bring up the other connection that these two socially harmful groups share.

It would be grossly irresponsible for us to fail to mention it out of misguided concern that it might make someone uncomfortable. Those who are made uncomfortable by it are made so for a good reason. That’s their conscience prodding them.

Both of these horrifically harmful anti-science positions are pandered to/outright supported by the US Republican Party.

Republican, Republican, Republican, Republican, Republican. The Republican Party.

I see Rick Perry is mentioned above, but that comment didn’t include the word Republican. I think it’s highly germane to include that word.

Richard Nixon was in many ways a rather competent president despite mental illness, corruption, and grotesque personal biases (this statement NOT intended as particularly complimentary to Richard Nixon). It’s plausible to conjecture that Nixon would have initiated a policy to deal with climate change. For a man with delusions, he had a peculiar way of also perceiving reality quite accurately. Flat denial of physical reality was not a characteristic of the Nixon era party. It included the deniers even then - it was the party of cigarettes/disease denial. But they didn’t totally control the agenda. Gerald Ford was apparently an all round decent guy. That Republican Party is long gone. Republican Party. Organized science denial with harmful social consequences is supported by the current Republican Party.

This isn’t a politics blog, and I never dreamed that creationism would have a political aspect until I met creationists. But when something is this relevant it needs to be at least touched on.

Full disclosure - I don’t like either major US political party. But one is worse than the other. And this area is an example of that.

Robert Byers said:

There is no global warming from man but instead its just the establishment/upper classes WANTING A MORE CLEAN PRISTINE ENVIRONMENT for their second and third home.

Gasp and egads! They want less pollution??? How terrible! And the worst part is that only the rich would ever be able to have a clean and pristine environment, because they can just keep poor people out of the environment!

Let’s put a stop to this! I say we all start rolling coal and show those rich people what-for!

Darn those rich people, trying to better the environment so that the worker classReal Americans have to suffer cleaner air! Who appointed them stewards of the Earth anyway? If God wanted us to pollute less, He wouldn’t have given us all this cheap energy to use! It’s not like God would ever let us screw things up down here, right? Heck, I’m sure coal and oil are not actually killing innocent people or costing the US hundreds of billions of dollars in human suffering and death every single year! Because God wants us to use it, and God doesn’t want people to suffer, therefore it’s selfish of those Watermelon Commu-Nazis to want different ways of generating electricity! Right?

TomS said:

Henry J said:

I think “advocates of global warming” is badly phrased; nobody with sense, relevant knowledge, and empathy for other people likes the conclusions of global warming.

However, I have heard people say that maybe warm weather might turn out for the better. A longer growing season for crops, for example. Not that I’d heard that from an “advocate of global warming”, to be sure.

So happens I talked with a corn farmer from Illinois recently. He was showing me the amazing app he had on his iPad, connected to his driverless John Deere that placed corn seed exactly where it needed to be. He said the warming trend, that he and other farmers have been watching for over a decade, has required them to overlap growing seasons with different kinds of corn, what he called 180-day and 150-day corn. I had no idea farming was that exact.

But, what he said next was even more interesting. In the coming years Minnesota will be the ideal place to grow corn. Fertile soil and very warm. Illinois, he said, will either be a dust bowl or only suitable for hot weather, arid loving crops.

This is a farmer. He just lives the stuff. Maybe we ought to listen more to farmers.

Doc Bill said:

So happens I talked with a corn farmer from Illinois recently. He was showing me the amazing app he had on his iPad, connected to his driverless John Deere that placed corn seed exactly where it needed to be. He said the warming trend, that he and other farmers have been watching for over a decade, has required them to overlap growing seasons with different kinds of corn, what he called 180-day and 150-day corn. I had no idea farming was that exact.

But, what he said next was even more interesting. In the coming years Minnesota will be the ideal place to grow corn. Fertile soil and very warm. Illinois, he said, will either be a dust bowl or only suitable for hot weather, arid loving crops.

This is a farmer. He just lives the stuff. Maybe we ought to listen more to farmers.

I’ll give you long odds that he votes Republican. I grew up among ‘em. But actual working farmers are a small minority of the Republican Party. The Cruzes and Perrys and Gohmerts don’t have to listen to them.

Just Bob said:

Doc Bill said:

So happens I talked with a corn farmer from Illinois recently. He was showing me the amazing app he had on his iPad, connected to his driverless John Deere that placed corn seed exactly where it needed to be. He said the warming trend, that he and other farmers have been watching for over a decade, has required them to overlap growing seasons with different kinds of corn, what he called 180-day and 150-day corn. I had no idea farming was that exact.

But, what he said next was even more interesting. In the coming years Minnesota will be the ideal place to grow corn. Fertile soil and very warm. Illinois, he said, will either be a dust bowl or only suitable for hot weather, arid loving crops.

This is a farmer. He just lives the stuff. Maybe we ought to listen more to farmers.

I’ll give you long odds that he votes Republican. I grew up among ‘em. But actual working farmers are a small minority of the Republican Party. The Cruzes and Perrys and Gohmerts don’t have to listen to them.

American ideas of what the political parties represent change with an almost bizarre slowness.

Another odd thing about American culture is that stereotypes from certain times persist far longer.

The 1965-1975 period is a still the cultural reference for numerous stereotypes.

And the political parties are stuck in that.

It’s partly because during the 1960’s, it really was social issues that divided “liberals” from “conservatives”. Both parties at least ostensibly favored progressive economics, unions, and whatnot. Both tended to be in favor of protecting the environment, too. But the Democrats had become the party that was okay with independent women, black people choosing any available seat on the bus, and so on. Interestingly, this represented a total about face for the Democrats, who had previously been the party that tolerated segregationists. But that about face was made.

Today, the Republicans are still the party that tries to lock traditional targets of bigotry out of the mainstream. So that part hasn’t changed much since the sixties. I think a lot of people resort to a crude “they’re basically the same on the more complicated stuff” heuristic. And I think this is true for a lot of Democratic voters, as well. Right now, the defining image of the Democrats is that they are the party that put a black guy in the White House. The defining image of the Republicans is that they don’t like that. People tend to vote based on how they feel about gay marriage and black presidents. They don’t or won’t examine the more complex issues.

The sad fact is that we have one party with an ideological vision. The Republicans. And that vision is a very bad, post-modern, reality-denying, mean-spirited fantasy vision of dominance over others and personal glorification. Michelle Bachmann is almost the perfect representation (even though she’s not from the former confederacy).

Opposing these ideologues, we have a cobbled together alliance of fumbling bureaucrats, many of whom are quintessentially “conservative” in the true sense of the word. The Democrats are united only in that they generally get that the Republican ideology is a bad idea. They could make themselves massively popular simply by reading about economic policy that exists in Canada and Australia and advocating the same things here, but most of them aren’t smart enough and the others are actually economically right wing - not as much so as the Republican, but more so than the average American. (Obama’s “education czar”, just for an example, is a corporate tool who essentially advocates the message of for-profit charter school companies, which includes the reality denying ideas that treating teachers a lot worse will attract better people to teaching, and that you can make under-funded schools perform better by taking away some of their meager funding - but no-one really believes this crap, it’s just rationalization for spewing tax money to corporate executives instead of spending it all on education.)

If it weren’t for the fact that the Republicans have alienated blacks, women, gays, and some other demographics to the point of never voting for them, the Democrats wouldn’t have a chance.

But unfortunately, the world has seen this situation before - somewhat charismatic destructive ideologues versus fumbling, uninspirational defenders of the status quo, who will sometimes inch forward in the general direction of progress. And the way this situation works out is, you either go with the fumbling, uninspirational types until the destructive ideologue movement fades away, or you get yourself in big trouble.

harold said: I don’t like either major US political party. But one is worse than the other.

I was working in Washington DC during the Ford-to-Carter and Carter-to-Reagan transitions… I have equal respect for both political parties - zero equals zero.

My favorite political bumper sticker:

Voting is as easy as driving - choose “D” to go forward or “R” to go backward.

I have equal respect for both political parties - zero equals zero.

While I don’t like either, I’d have to put my respect for the Democrats a shade above zero. They may leave a lot of easy-to-win progressive chips on the table, but overall they are opposed to bigotry, and have worked to help the most socially disadvantaged people since the 1960’s.

My respect for Republicans, at this point, is well below zero.

I don’t think you intended equivalence, either, but for my part let me clarify that for me, “don’t like either much” does not remotely mean “both are the same”.

One partly is a poorly cooked, unevenly heated tuna casserole that could have been done better, but that will sustain life, and has some positive characteristics. And alive, we can always advocate for something better. The other party is poisoned candy. There is no doubt whatsoever that the correct choice is the tuna casserole.

(As an aside, another asinine thing Americans do is vote on what they imagine, or pretend to imagine, the parties do, rather than on what the parties actually do do. For example, I’m about 99.9% progressive, and with the caveat that any further discussion of this will be voluntarily moved to the BW by me, I support the right of law-abiding individuals to own ordinary firearms like rifles, shotguns, and handguns, although I also support the right of local jurisdictions to restrict guns to some degree. And although I strongly support background checks, I oppose any use of confidential medical records as part of such a check. This isn’t even a “conservative” value; I consider this a progressive stance. But anyway, neither party is advancing any onerous gun control legislation. The Democrats simply don’t do that. No-one is even proposing tight controls on new gun purchases, let alone anything that would affect guns already owned. Yet millions of Americans can be manipulated into voting stupidly based on the fantasy that the Democrats support some kind of imaginary gun control law. Gun controls have markedly REDUCED during the Obama era, due to SCOTUS decisions and local laws, and no federal law at all has been passed on the issue. Yet I bet there are pro-science readers here who believe the fantasy-land propaganda-for-the-stupidest-suckers claim that the Democrats want to restrict firearms.)

Harold said:

Gerald Ford was apparently an all round decent guy.

Ford was the only sitting president who was a member of The Family aka The Fellowship, the elitist fundie cult that runs the Presidential Prayer Breakfast once a year and uses it to arrange arms deals and political support for genocidal dictators.

Under their influence, Ford signed off on Suharto’s genocidal purge of “communists.” 24 hours after Ford flew out of Jakarta, Indonesia invaded and annexed East Timor and started massacring the “communist” population, with Ford’s stamp of approval.

Read Sharlet’s book “The Family” and learn how this country is really governed.

diogeneslamp0 said:

Harold said:

Gerald Ford was apparently an all round decent guy.

Ford was the only sitting president who was a member of The Family aka The Fellowship, the elitist fundie cult that runs the Presidential Prayer Breakfast once a year and uses it to arrange arms deals and political support for genocidal dictators.

Under their influence, Ford signed off on Suharto’s genocidal purge of “communists.” 24 hours after Ford flew out of Jakarta, Indonesia invaded and annexed East Timor and started massacring the “communist” population, with Ford’s stamp of approval.

Read Sharlet’s book “The Family” and learn how this country is really governed.

Well, truth be told, I was only trying to be diplomatic toward science-supporting Republicans from another era, and to emphasize to them that the party has changed.

A generalized apology for the Nixon and Ford administrations was not my intent. Rather, the point was that current Republicans are substantially worse. And that is a point I defend strongly. It does not imply that Nixon and Ford were wonderful. Simply being less bad than Bush/Cheney, Michelle Bachmann, and their ilk, is not much of a compliment.

Read Sharlet’s book “The Family” and learn how this country is really governed.

I may read the book but I don’t believe that some particular individual book is all I need to “learn how the country is really governed”. I was already perfectly aware of tacit US backing for the Suharto regime, and for many other right wing dictatorships. It should be obvious to anyone who reads this blog that I am aware of, and opposed to, the excessive influence of fundamentalist Christian authoritarian groups on the US government.

Why is Lathey Pufkin writing for the Heartland Institute now?

Call me optimistic, but I speculate that the Disco Tute’s churchofascist donors have realized ID has failed and are tapering off their milk and honey, so the #AttackGerbil is formulating a Plan B employment strategy for when his current gravy train comes to a stop.

Jumping from churchofascist-funded think tank to corporate-fascist think tank, Lathey? Good luck with that. Given Lathey’s education and resume, he’s not fit for much else in the way of a career. After the Heartland Tute, there’s not much else left for Lathey Pufkin besides putting on the fishnet stockings and seeking donors down at the truck stop. Granted, this last profession is morally superior to his current employment.

Stopping by to protest that Republicans aren’t even slightly postmodern…

diogeneslamp0 said:

Why is Lathey Pufkin writing for the Heartland Institute now?

Call me optimistic, but I speculate that the Disco Tute’s churchofascist donors have realized ID has failed and are tapering off their milk and honey, so the #AttackGerbil is formulating a Plan B employment strategy for when his current gravy train comes to a stop.

Jumping from churchofascist-funded think tank to corporate-fascist think tank, Lathey? Good luck with that. Given Lathey’s education and resume, he’s not fit for much else in the way of a career. After the Heartland Tute, there’s not much else left for Lathey Pufkin besides putting on the fishnet stockings and seeking donors down at the truck stop. Granted, this last profession is morally superior to his current employment.

Man, I hope this is correct in every detail. (For full disclosure I think that sex for money between consenting adults should be legal.)

But I doubt it very much. The funding of the Wingnut Welfare System is incredibly vast and stable.

A Casey Luskin is easily made happy with a low six figure salary. Let’s be optimistic and hope that he gets no more than a flat $100K. Yes, the Wingnut Welfare System is much more generous than the other welfare system.

For a mere million bucks a year you could hire four or five Luskins, a couple of administrative assistants for them, and set them up in a nice suburban office building with nice sunny offices. They can show up if and when they want as long as they spew a few pages of propaganda cliches once in a while.

And of course, that million would be a tax deduction, since you contributed it to a “charity”. (Note - you do still have to spend the money. You can’t give money to Casey and spend it on yourself, too. But you don’t have to pay taxes on it.)

As a crude but decent ballpark estimate, obsessively right wing American individuals and foundations probably control at least a trillion dollars in wealth. We’re talking about billions and billions in disposable revenue per year.

Even if we budget a couple of hundred grand per Luskin type per year for salary/benefits, office space, clerical support, tech support, etc, we could pay 100,000 of them for a mere 20 billion per year.

I don’t know what the true population of right wing think tank propaganda spewers actually is, but it’s easy to see that there are plenty of funds for thousands and thousands of them.

And I was just talking about the money from billionaires. Don’t forget the “base” - the people who will go without their diabetes medication to sent $100 to help Casey and the DI. That’a s good 25% of American adults. In the ballpark of fifty million people. A mere hundred bucks a year from each of them, and you’ve got another few billion. And that hundred bucks may be an underestimate of what they give on average.

And this is just assuming that you pay the Luskin types directly as employees of “non-profit” “charities”.

But many of them are completely self-funded in the advertising supported media. Not just Rush, Bill-O, the rest of the Fox gang, Douthat, and Brooks. Every print venue that still exists has a “conservative columnist”. There are hundreds or thousands of right wing AM radio hosts. Does it count as “Wingnut Welfare” if it makes money? In many cases, yes, because, with the possible exception of right wing radio and Fox, the wingnuts aren’t WHY the venue makes money; their position is a subsidized one. If the NYT replaced Douthat they’d make at least as much money. He’s only there because somebody somewhere in a corporate office wanted a “conservative”. Brooks borders on paying his own keep, but he could probably be replaced without much problem as well. He STARTED as a Wingnut Welfare recipient, but managed to make a few bucks on his own once by saying “bobo”.

Despite the generosity of the system, not all applicants qualify. For example, Casey doesn’t have a column in the NY Times, or even a Chicago or Philadelphia paper. He isn’t perceived to be at that level. There are some people who aren’t even good enough for the DI - can’t make their spew sound “intellectual” enough.

However, the system is massively generous and loyal. As in all historical times, if you’re willing to be a groveling lickspittle, the powerful will throw you some crumbs.

In my opinion, the DI is unlikely to go anywhere - if they lose their current funding, they can replace it. And Casey is set for life, as long as he doesn’t ever “say anything liberal”. He’s a proven loyal propagandist, with adequate spelling and grammar. There’s a nice salary, a do-almost-nothing-job, and a nice office for him somewhere no matter what.

david.starling.macmillan said:

Stopping by to protest that Republicans aren’t even slightly postmodern…

There is no strict definition of the term “post-modern”, so we can both be correct here, but to me, they are completely post-modern.

Denying objectively observed scientific reality is a post-modern trait.

They reject the intellectual advances of the Modern era. If that’s not post-modern, I don’t know what is.

In addition, it is a simple fact that their current policies were initiated during the historical period most commonly referred to as post-modern.

But please elaborate on why you think they aren’t. It’s possible, although unlikely, that you can convince me to stop calling them post-modern.

This is not a big issue for me. Objectively, the do certain things. We agree on what they do. I call it “post-modern”, you don’t, but as long as we agree on the objectively observable stuff, I’m okay with that.

harold said:

There is no strict definition of the term “post-modern”, so we can both be correct here, but to me, they are completely post-modern.

I would go with “pre-Enlightenment” rather than post-modern. That is, I think most of their reasoning isn’t based on a rejection of modernism, but a failure to get fully on board with it in the first place. (I’ll also generalize “they” to mean cultural and religious conservatives.)

I won’t presume to define post-modernism. Modernism is hard enough, and I don’t have a rigorous definition. In my mind I sort of associate “modernism” with the optimism of the 1939 New York World’s Fair (like David Gelernter, though I would probably disagree with him about most everything). Of course, that’s very much a technology focus, but the technology of the Western world would not be here without the science that ultimately resulted from a habit of questioning everything and trying to answer questions empirically.

Conservatives embrace technology with enthusiasm, but they are still prone to see authority as the main basis for belief. Science may have managed to stay under the radar in this regard because it was not directly threatening to religious or cultural views. I think YECs actually are correct that progress in life sciences is more directly threatening to pre-Enlightenment values than in other sciences, because it comes directly against the question of what it is to be human.

So, and maybe this sounds too cynical, I think Western conservativism has for centuries been “Enlightenment, sure, but only up to a point.” But that point has now been reached, and they need to spin their way out of it without coming right out and saying “Can we have the Middle Ages back?” If it sounds like postmodernism, it may just be the impossibility of making any reasoned argument that doesn’t reveal the true motives.

diogeneslamp0 said:

Nobody here has quoted the founder of ID as a political movement, law prof. Phillip Johnson, whose quote you may know but is certainly relevant:

Phillip Johnson said:

“I told them I was a postmodernist and deconstructionist just like them, but aiming at a slightly different target.”

That ought to settle whether IDers perceive themselves as post-modernists, although we might argue they don’t know what the term means, or are misrepresenting themselves (wouldn’t be the first time.)

The above is quoted in an article on just this topic by philosopher Robert T. Pennock, “The Postmodern Sin of Intelligent Design Creationism” [PDF].

Thanks for the link to Pennock’s paper. You may be aware that Ken Miller has pointed out this connection between the Intelligent Design cretinists and the “Deconstructionists” in “Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul”. I believe Shawn Otto of Science Debate also arrived at a similar conclusion in his book “Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America”.

Several years ago Genie Scott of NCSE gave talks around the country pointing out the links between ID and global warming denialism, noting that they were using the same kind of language.

They also argue like the cigarette/lung cancer denialists did. Not surprising that the Heartland Institute graduated from the former to the latter then the money for the former dried up. They replaced the tobacco companies with the Koch brothers and their ilk.

By the way, I have downloaded a number of NOVA presentations and have been much annoyed that the first moneybags cited is usually David Koch, global warming denier extraordinaire.

John said:

diogeneslamp0 said:

Nobody here has quoted the founder of ID as a political movement, law prof. Phillip Johnson, whose quote you may know but is certainly relevant:

Phillip Johnson said:

“I told them I was a postmodernist and deconstructionist just like them, but aiming at a slightly different target.”

That ought to settle whether IDers perceive themselves as post-modernists, although we might argue they don’t know what the term means, or are misrepresenting themselves (wouldn’t be the first time.)

The above is quoted in an article on just this topic by philosopher Robert T. Pennock, “The Postmodern Sin of Intelligent Design Creationism” [PDF].

Thanks for the link to Pennock’s paper. You may be aware that Ken Miller has pointed out this connection between the Intelligent Design cretinists and the “Deconstructionists” in “Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul”. I believe Shawn Otto of Science Debate also arrived at a similar conclusion in his book “Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America”.

Several years ago Genie Scott of NCSE gave talks around the country pointing out the links between ID and global warming denialism, noting that they were using the same kind of language.

ksplawn said:

Some essential fingerprints that tell us global warming is being caused by humans. These are things we simply should not see if the warming was due to something else.

That’s the basic, 5-minute version with a nice graphic. If you want more in-depth explanations, click on the Intermediate or Advanced tabs at the top of the page.

Only 2 of the 10 “fingerprints” implicate humans. Those would be the fossil carbon ones, showing a small increase in CO2 from fossil fuels. The other 8 could be caused naturally, unlike the silly “things we simply should not see” claim of the poster.

KlausH said:

ksplawn said:

Some essential fingerprints that tell us global warming is being caused by humans. These are things we simply should not see if the warming was due to something else.

That’s the basic, 5-minute version with a nice graphic. If you want more in-depth explanations, click on the Intermediate or Advanced tabs at the top of the page.

Only 2 of the 10 “fingerprints” implicate humans. Those would be the fossil carbon ones, showing a small increase in CO2 from fossil fuels. The other 8 could be caused naturally, unlike the silly “things we simply should not see” claim of the poster.

Let me just quote from the basic version of the page, because I don’t really see how you can read all this and say that only two of them implicate human activity:

When presented with the overwhelming evidence that the planet is warming, many people react by asking “but how can we be sure that we’re causing the warming?” It turns out that the observed global warming has a distinct human fingerprint on it.

In climatology, as in any other science, establishing causation is more complicated than merely establishing an effect. However, there are a number of lines of evidence that have helped to convince climate scientists that the current global warming can be attributed to human greenhouse gas emissions (in particular CO2). Here are just some of them:

10 Indicators of a Human Fingerprint on Climate Change

The first four pieces of evidence show that humans are raising CO2 levels:

  1. Humans are currently emitting around 30 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.
  2. Oxygen levels are falling as if carbon is being burned to create carbon dioxide.
  3. Fossil carbon is building up in the atmosphere. (We know this because the two types of carbon have different chemical properties.)
  4. Corals show that fossil carbon has recently risen sharply.

Another two observations show that CO2 is trapping more heat:

  1. Satellites measure less heat escaping to space at the precise wavelengths which CO2 absorbs.
  2. Surface measurements find this heat is returning to Earth to warm the surface.

The last four indicators show that the observed pattern of warming is consistent with what is predicted to occur during greenhouse warming:

  1. An increased greenhouse effect would make nights warm faster than days, and this is what has been observed.
  2. If the warming is due to solar activity, then the upper atmosphere (the stratosphere) should warm along with the rest of the atmosphere. But if the warming is due to the greenhouse effect, the stratosphere should cool because of the heat being trapped in the lower atmosphere (the troposphere). Satellite measurements show that the stratosphere is cooling.
  3. This combination of a warming troposphere and cooling stratosphere should cause the tropopause, which separates them, to rise. This has also been observed.
  4. It was predicted that the ionosphere would shrink, and it is indeed shrinking.

(References for all of these findings can be found here.)

While it’s true that the Greenhouse Effect might be enhanced by natural processes (it’s happened before), if we were not emitting all that fossil carbon, we wouldn’t see this happening. This turns every item about an enhanced GHE (such as the differential warming in nights vs. days, the shrinking upper atmosphere, the reduced longwave IR escaping to space, etc.) into evidence for the human influence specifically. Because of that fossil carbon, the other GHG-derived observations are about our fossil carbon emissions.

It doesn’t make sense to ask “what’s causing the current warming trend?” without considering everything in the context of the current warming trend. Once you know for a fact that we’re pumping hundreds of gigatons of GHGs into the atmosphere annually, all the other evidence revolving around GHG enhancement that otherwise wouldn’t be happening is evidence for our influence.

More to the point, I don’t know how you would separate the 2 middle points from the first 4 and say that they don’t constitute evidence of our impact above the others potential factors.

ksplawn said:

More to the point, I don’t know how you would separate the 2 middle points from the first 4 and say that they don’t constitute evidence of our impact above the others potential factors.

It helps if you watch Fox News and listen to Limbaugh. Then you won’t be misled by all those liberal facts.

SLC said:

One should not forget that the Heartland Institute was originally set up by the tobacco companies to disseminate propaganda disputing the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Apparently, that money tree has dried up so they moved on to obtain funding from the Koch brothers and the energy companies to disseminate propaganda disputing AGW. Hey, grifters got to grift.

Actually, not quite: Heartland started earlier, but then looked for money and got it, and had a Philip Morris guy on their Board for a decade starting in mid-1990s, and in fact, seem to still be getting tobacco money. See Fakery 2 and Familiar Think Tanks Fight For E-Cigarettes.

A lot of think tanks got started in 1980, via Kochs, Richard Mellon Scaife, etc, and added tobacco in late 1980s or 1990s.

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on July 10, 2014 7:34 PM.

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