Thursday, June 28, 2012

Plenty of Heat, But No Light

By Dan Hagen
It’s June, and the temperature is hitting 103 here in central Illinois today. It’ll climb higher than 100 degrees in more than half this nation.
But what is going to have the right wingers in a fretful sweat is the necessity of dreaming up new ways to deny the scientific reality and plain fact of global climate change.
"The Sun Shines Over Cape Town" by Marion Boddy-Evans
They’ve become accustomed to indulging in the most fundamental and dangerous of human errors — confusing what you want to believe with the facts of reality.
It’s called emotion-driven motivated reasoning. You confirm what you already believe, ignore contrary data and develop fantastic, elaborate rationalizations to discredit any contradictory evidence. The right wingers huddle in the security blanket of dogmatic myth, pull it over their heads, and use it to try to gag anybody else who dares to tell them the truth.
For example, the conservatives’ great hero, Gov. Rick Perry, says climate change is a hoax drummed up by scientists to make money. That’s the kind of arrogant, cynical, know-nothing cretin many Republicans think would make an ideal president of the United States.
The key to this mentality, Nate Silver observed, “…is simply to find some tiny thing and focus all attention on that in order to persuade people that the bigger reality is untrue or irrelevant. 
"This is not an argument; it’s a technique. It’s a technique to persuade people not to examine all the evidence, since the source of the evidence — secular humanist scientists — are evil suspects and against God and in favor of making your gas bill higher. You can’t actually persuade people that way, of course. But you can fortify their resistance to examining all the evidence.”
Kind of amazing how folks can be skeptical about climate change, but not about Christianity,” Tom Gossett observed.
The Yale philosophy professor Brand Blanshard said, “Science … means more than a set of conclusions; it means also a set of methods and intellectual habits. The most important of these habits is adherence to a rule that is felt to be at once intellectual and moral, the rule of adjusting one’s assent to the evidence.
That obvious principle — that reality requires you to accept the plain evidence before you, not try to hide it or pervert it — was once taken for granted by all even minimally educated children in this nation. Now tens of millions of adults, maybe even a majority of Americans, willfully ignore it. To our great shame. To our profound peril.
You see, intellectual honesty is not merely admirable. It’s the necessary precondition that permits civilization to survive.


  1. Hi Dan,
    The pic above is not by Van Gogh. It is a study by a contemporary painter: Marion Boddy-Evans