D3: Beachhead Facts

ddayMorgan has a good post about liberal “arguments.”  The catalyst is some bullshit about Global Weather, but it applies across the board — these people talk and talk and talk (and talk and talk and talk), but nowhere in their blather is there anything approaching an actual argument.

With, you know, facts and reason and stuff.

One of the reasons we started this blog was our collective frustration with liberals who claim to be science’s BFFs, but conduct their lives with the adamantine imperviousness of grand inquisitors.  They claim to want debate, yet summarily reject anything that isn’t one hundred percent compliant with their opinions.

Even facts.  Especially facts.

They will claim, of course, that the facts have a liberal bias.  Oxymoron aside, though, they can do this without their heads exploding from cognitive dissonance because they’re in possession of what I’ve come to call “beachhead facts.”  An amphibious attack has to establish a beachhead, a secure perimeter where reinforcements and supplies can be landed, before the rest of the invasion can continue.  So liberals glom on to one or two facts — they hoard ’em up with the grim compulsiveness of squirrels before a particularly hard winter — and from there proceed to launch the rest of their attack.

Problem is, like a poorly planned amphibious landing, the beachhead facts just aren’t big enough to handle the rest of the argument.  Imagine Eisenhower compressing the whole of D-Day down to a single landing zone the size of a putting green.  The best troops in the world can’t win under those conditions.  Even if the Nazis don’t get ’em, they’ll simply be crushed to death by all that materiel stacking up in the surf behind them.

Global Weather is a great example.  Here’s how Morgan puts it:

Oh, you might delight in repeating over and over that the “science” is on your side because CO2 acts as an insulator and the greenhouse gas effect exists. It’s an established fact! Look it up! But when we get to that more crucial, thorny matter…of WEMUSTACTNOWORITMAYBETOOLATE!!. That’s where the problem is.

The starting points of the Global Weather argument are both indisputably true.  There is such a thing as the greenhouse effect, and carbon dioxide is an insulator.  The conclusion, though….

There’s just no scientific way to get from “carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas” to “we need a Global Climate Gestapo.”  The assumptions behind just one of the standard Warmist talking points could fill a phone book.  Like Ike trying to cram all of Operation Overlord into Utah Beach, the facts get smooshed by the weight of all that apocalyptic rhetoric.

I’ll give most liberals the benefit of the doubt (if that’s quite the right phrase) — I don’t think they’re doing this consciously.  They’ve got their good intentions, and they’ve got their two precious little beachhead facts, and they’re nobly setting off to save the world, but they’re not quiiiiite able to see how the one doesn’t naturally lead to the other.  It’s less ideological malice and more the “protective stupidity” of crimestop:

The faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. In short….protective stupidity.

How can you acknowledge that the greenhouse effect exists, but not worry about global warming?  Don’t you care about The Earth?

Some of them do know what they’re doing, of course.  They’ll thunder like an Old Testament prophet about the obvious, indisputable truth of their beachhead facts… only to get caught on the logical errors, misperceived analogies, and all-around sloppy thinking that leaps from one or two small truths to globe-spanning conclusions.  These are the folks who gave us moonwalking, the Maudochromatic flourish, and all the other gruesome dodges the Dim Devil’s Dictionary exists to document.  These are the folks who will never, ever concede an opponent’s point — even if it would advance their own argument.  They retail the rottenest chestnuts of them all.

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