D3: “Moonwalk” / “Moonwalking”

Michael-JJ-michael-jacksons-moonwalk-19151755-500-659

Moon*walk. Verb.  1.To retreat to the numerical half of a two-placed empirical / political proposition.  2. To pretend that the truth / falsity (verifiability / unverifiability) of the empirical claim implicitly proves / disproves the political claim.  After Michael Jackson’s stylized backwards dance move of the mid-1980s.

It’s a fascinating quirk of liberal psychology, this insistence that “the facts have a liberal bias.”  And that right there should tell you how untenable this position is, since the words “liberal” and “bias” are both subjective and facts are objective, i.e. true no matter how one happens to feel about them.  But hey, it’s the rare battle cry that appeals to logic, and “the facts have a liberal bias” isn’t the worst slogan to have ever rallied troops.  But it does lead to some interesting, and eminently mockable, verbal tics.

Like moonwalking.  Liberals have this tendency to present their policy prescriptions as if they were the only possible outcomes of hard science and cold logic.  This allows them to tar their political opponents as anti-science, on par with gap-toothed creationists and the guys who locked up Galileo.  If they get called on their political bullshit, they simply retreat to their factual — or, at least, empirical-sounding — claim.  As here, from the Thread that Wouldn’t Die:

Severian: Lest anyone be tempted to miss the point yet again — and if my ridiculously over-the-top satire weren’t enough to convey this — “science,” properly understood, cannot be used to make moral / ethical / political prescriptions, because it deals with phenomena too large and complex to be boiled down to simple, point-to-point programs.

Science doesn’t make moral prescriptions. However, as humans are warming the globe, and this warming will cause disruption of agriculture, inundation and salinization of arable lands, increased desertification, mass extinction, human migration with its attendant political destablization, and as this is avoidable, most people would combine these scientific findings with their personal morality to try and find solutions, especially as those solutions are readily available, and have many other salubrious effects. But that’s just ourselves. We happen to be rather fond of the little apes you call humans. Call it a peccadillo.

Note the little maudochromatic flourish at the end for effect.  Charming, no?  It’s a nice illustration of how all the left’s bullying tactics bleed into each other.  But it’s an even better illustration of moonwalking, since the mooted political outcome (world climate cops, basically) relies so heavily on the purported scientific claim (Global Weather).  Wading through the verbiage, you find endless assertions that this or that will happen — it’s science! — coupled with endless insinutations that only someone colossally, willfully ignorant of basic science could fail to support the politics.  When the politics are questioned, you’re invited, and then commanded, to look at the “scientific” evidence.

Pictured: The Evidence.  If you don't see how this justifies torpedoing the entire world energy industry, you hate science.

Pictured: The Evidence. If you don’t see how this justifies torpedoing the entire world energy industry, you hate science.

As if worldwide human behavior can be logically predicted, let alone mandated, from a set of (quite possibly false) air temperature readings.

Moonwalking is a two-step dance, though, and they’ve got another trick up their sleeves.  Here’s my second-favorite liberal, Ed Darrell, doing what he does second-best:

Yeah, Steve Goddard laughed, too.  He made it a point to try to ridicule James Hansen for saying the water would ever flood the West Side Highway, even with a passing rogue wave.

Then Sandy flooded the West Side Highway with a surge, and left it under water for a while.  Sandy beat Hansen’s prediction by a good decade, too, making Goddard’s denials all the more silly, and mean-spirited.

The context here, again, is Global Weather, but it could be anything.  See, Steve Goddard missed a prediction.  Which means he’s wrong wrong WRONG!.  About everything.  This is why liberals make such lousy statisticians.  Note too the word “denials.”  This makes it sound — as it was intended to make it sound — that Goddard claimed the West Side highway Highway could never flood.  No matter what.  Obviously the man is a charlatan!  We can throw out anything and everything he says henceforth, because the West Side Highway got provably, empirically wet.

One could even make the case that there’s a third step in the moonwalk — the specious appeal to cherrypicked history — but I hesitate to do so, for the sake of the children.  What, after all, are we to make of this?

Of all the great civilizations that have existed, almost all were wiped out because of environmental error, or waste, or failure to prepare for the consequences of human change in the environment.  Thus the canals that supplied water to the great city in the desert, Babylon, silted in, and the civilization collapsed.  The volcanic explosion that caused the tsunami that wiped out Minos literally blasted the civilization into the back pages of history.  The salted orchards and fields of Carthage could not hold back the desert (Tunis still pays the price).  Silt from the Yellow River has, with too much regularity, caused massive floods that kill hundreds, or thousands, or hundreds of thousands.  Lead leaching from the wine vessels of the Romans made them stupid, and the Goths didn’t suffer from that problem.  Etc., etc.

Etc. indeed. Not only are these wrong — one might consult Cyrus of Persia, for example, on the matter of those “silted in” Babylonian canals — but they’re so obviously cherrypicked they serve as their own counterargument.  Unless “conquistadors” are the environmental event that undid the Aztecs, for instance; “Alexander the Great” the Global Warming of his day; and so forth.  And did you notice that he somehow seems to claim the Thera explosion was man-caused?  He’s trying to moonwalk back to history, but his Michael Jackson impersonation is even less convincing than that fat white mental patient from The Simpsons.

michael-jackson

Isn’t it about time we retired this fad, too?

[UPDATERight on cue.  I swear, you cannot make this shit up.

But you’re right:  It’s difficult to tell with climate denialists where their odd reality ends and parody begins.  Just like creationists and fundamentalists.

 

26 thoughts on “D3: “Moonwalk” / “Moonwalking”

  1. Zachriel: Science doesn’t make moral prescriptions. However, as humans are warming the globe, and this warming will cause disruption of agriculture, inundation and salinization of arable lands, increased desertification, mass extinction, human migration with its attendant political destablization, and as this is avoidable, most people would combine these scientific findings with their personal morality to try and find solutions, especially as those solutions are readily available, and have many other salubrious effects. But that’s just ourselves. We happen to be rather fond of the little apes you call humans. Call it a peccadillo.

    severian: Note the little maudochromatic flourish at the end for effect. Charming, no? It’s a nice illustration of how all the left’s bullying tactics bleed into each other. But it’s an even better illustration of moonwalking, since the mooted political outcome (world climate cops, basically) relies so heavily on the purported scientific claim (Global Weather).

    It absolutely depends on the scientific claim of anthropogenic climate change. It’s a syllogism, a common form of argument.

    * Given anthropogenic climate change
    * Given the ability to avoid the worst consequences of anthropogenic climate change
    * Given human welfare is of concern
    * Then take reasonable actions to mitigate anthropogenic climate change

    Now, you could attack the argument at any point. You could say anthropogenic climate change is not occurring. But ‘reality has a well-known liberal bias’ (Colbert, 2006). Solutions are not that difficult to find as the energy infrastructure has to be replaced and updated every couple of decades or so anyway.

    That leaves whether or not you think human welfare is of concern. Well, that is a personal opinion. We told you our opinion. If you disagree, then you may disregard the argument.

  2. * Given anthropogenic climate change
    * Given the ability to avoid the worst consequences of anthropogenic climate change

    That right there is the entire crux of the debate. Neither of those things are “given.”

  3. Cylar: That right there is the entire crux of the debate. Neither of those things are “given.”

    Given, arguendo. They are they premises of the syllogism. We were responding to Severian’s comment that science “properly understood, cannot be used to make moral / ethical / political prescriptions”. We agree with his conclusions, but not for his reason that “it deals with phenomena too large and complex to be boiled down to simple, point-to-point programs.” Rather, it’s because the assignment of *value* to human life, comfort, or freedom, are not scientific questions. They are subjective to the human experience.

    You are exactly right, though. The conclusion of the syllogism depends on the support for the premises. You could attack any of the three premises. Hence, we need to examine each premise to determine the support for each term. (The third term, “human welfare is of concern”, is not independently supportable. It has to be assumed a priori. Those who reject this premise, will not find the argument persuasive.)

  4. Severian’s point is excellent: when emerging science mixes with politics, someone’s almost always skipping steps. Some science is so tried-and-true that we can afford to make general public laws about it: if you fire a cannon at your neighbor’s house, you’re charged with knowledge of where the cannonball is likely to hit. Other science is so new and speculative that courts will refuse to qualify experts to testify to their opinions about it. Some science is on the cusp: it took a while to get courts (and juries) to trust fingerprint evidence, and then to trust DNA evidence.

    Many scientists contribute to the problem by not thinking clearly about the limits of what their discipline can prove. I cringe to hear social scientists and astronomers pontificate about ultimate questions like the existence of God. If they hear someone argue for the existence of God on the basis of some testable empirical fact, they’re on solid ground to refute it. But no amount of measuring of physical facts sheds much light on the superphysical. At most they should say those questions are outside their area of competence and something about which they hold merely personal opinions.

    I believe the empirical evidence shows overwhelmingly that free markets create prosperity and that command-control economies impoverish populations. “Given” that truth, surely most people would would combine these scientific findings with their personal morality to try and find solutions, especially as those solutions are readily available, and have many other salubrious effects. But that’s just me. I happen to be rather fond of the little apes you call the poor. Call it a peccadillo.

    Stupid, yes? It’s true enough, but I’ll never convince anyone to give up Keynesianism or collectivism by assuming that I’m the only one who cares about people or who combines rational thought with moral motives. I have to win the argument on the efficacy of the free market first. Imagine if all I had to point to was the experience of ten attempted free markets over the last century, where my models predicted prosperity, but unfortunately all ten had lower GDPs than their socialist neighbors? People in North Korea living it up, widespread starvation in Australia. “But my new models are better, and we have to get started right now or it will be too late,” I’d sputter. Perhaps my listeners would say, “Get back to us when the models have worked for a change.”

    Prediction is hard. People aren’t as good at it as they imagine. Sometimes you have to wait until you have better data, even though looking back you may wish you’d been sure earlier. I sure don’t want to wreck the world’s economy only to find out that the predictions of warming are overhyped as they appear to be lately. If we’re going to save the world’s economy, we have to start right now! We can’t afford to wait until these clowns have been thoroughly exposed as frauds! :-)

  5. Texan99: when emerging science mixes with politics, someone’s almost always skipping steps.

    That’s why it’s important to put scientific findings on a firm foundation before addressing policy.

    Texan99: Other science is so new and speculative that courts will refuse to qualify experts to testify to their opinions about it.

    Agreed. Courts tend to be conservative. For instance, Charlie Chaplin was forced to pay child support even though the scientific evidence proved he couldn’t have been the father.

    Texan99: Many scientists contribute to the problem by not thinking clearly about the limits of what their discipline can prove.

    Agreed.

    Texan99: I believe the empirical evidence shows overwhelmingly that free markets create prosperity and that command-control economies impoverish populations.

    Agreed, though the most prosperous countries have strong government sectors as well as robust markets, what are called mixed economies.

    Texan99: I happen to be rather fond of the little apes you call the poor. Call it a peccadillo.

    That’s nice. Common ground!

    Texan99: Prediction is hard. People aren’t as good at it as they imagine.

    Agreed. However, with regards to climate, there is already substantial evidence that humans are having a significant impact. They’ll adapt, but the least expensive adaptation with the least risk is to limit the impact.

  6. “Prediction is hard. People aren’t as good at it as they imagine.”

    “Agreed. However, with regards to climate, . . . “ — in that area, Z is certain he really is as good at prediction as he imagines, even without a successful track record.

    Because people who doubted a new scientific proposition were wrong once, and that means that from now on any emerging scientific ideas have to be given immediate worldwide effect at catastrophic expense, just in case. We can’t afford to wait until some climate model, somewhere, actually produces predictions that are confirmed by empirical observations collected after the predictions were published.

  7. Texan99: Because people who doubted a new scientific proposition were wrong once, and that means that from now on any emerging scientific ideas have to be given immediate worldwide effect at catastrophic expense, just in case.

    Um, no. It has to do with the evidence, which indicates that the Earth is warming due to an increased greenhouse effect.

  8. When you start repeating yourself, I know you’ve shot your wad and there’s nothing new to be learned from you. It means you’ve already argued what you think can be argued on the subjects we’ve raised. You’re entitled to believe we should have been convinced by it, but why not assume we can just go back and re-read it if we later develop doubts, or if what you’ve written suddenly starts to seem smarter?

    I’m not certain whether there’s anything mankind should be doing about greenhouse gases right now. What I am certain of is that I won’t find out any further useful information on the subject from you unless you get some new material.

    We’ve given you ample opportunity to impress us here. What we’ve learned is that you’re alarmingly tolerant of professional dishonesty, and that you’re unable to break your arguments down into their component parts. The burden of proof is on you. The whole complicated edifice has to hold water from “diagnosis to treatment,” as you like to say, before it makes sense to turn over the huge resources and control your policies demand. When you skitter from one point to the next in order to avoid a tight spot, or retreat into repetitive, conclusory generalities, you may be avoiding embarrassment, but you’re not making your case. You’re only creating the impression that you don’t know when a case is complete. Maybe you were hoping we wouldn’t notice. You were wrong.

  9. Texan99: When you start repeating yourself, I know you’ve shot your wad and there’s nothing new to be learned from you.

    Repeat the same misinformation, get the same rebuttal until it is answered.

  10. “Repeat the same misinformation, get the same rebuttal until it is answered.”

    Yes, but as a strategy, are you finding that wins people over to your expensive and hazardous proposals?

  11. Texan99: Yes, but as a strategy, are you finding that wins people over to your expensive and hazardous proposals?

    Change is hard, but don’t worry, the world will eventually work to mitigate anthropogenic climate change. There is just too much scientific evidence to ignore.

    • There’s that “will” word again.

      Want to put some money on that, champ? You seem to feel you can predict all kinds of things with absolute certainty. Want to give us a month on that, or even a year? That, say, China will pass their first comprehensive AGW bill?

      Paul Ehrlich put his money where his mouth was, vs. Julian Simon. It didn’t work out so well for the hysteric.

      C’mon, dude… you didn’t kick loose with the Green tech stock tips, even though those will — your word — be a major export commodity in the next twenty years. Here’s a chance to make some money off us drooling troglodytes.

      A hundred bucks says you’re off by at least a decade, whatever year you propose. PayPal is free….

    • Gosh, you sure showed me… except that that’s not what I proposed at all, since “pilot programs on cap-and-trade” are not the same thing as “a comprehensive AGW bill.” You don’t read too good, do you?

      (If you did, you might also have noticed this one, from the article: “China is the world’s biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases from human activity.” Don’t you constantly claim that they produce far less than the “industrialized” nations?)

      So: China’s first comprehensive AGW bill. Name a year. $100 is just waiting for you to claim it.

  12. Severian: Gosh, you sure showed me… except that that’s not what I proposed at all, since “pilot programs on cap-and-trade” are not the same thing as “a comprehensive AGW bill.”

    Didn’t say it was. However, it indicates movement towards the goal of limiting carbon emissions. A measured approach is appropriate, as discussed previously.

    Severian: (If you did, you might also have noticed this one, from the article: “China is the world’s biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases from human activity.” Don’t you constantly claim that they produce far less than the “industrialized” nations?)

    Um, no. They emit far less per capita than industrialized nations, less than a third of the U.S.

  13. Didn’t say it was.

    See, on the internet, when one posts nothing but a link in response to a direct query or challenge, it is assumed that the link contains the complete answer / rebuttal. Really, this is Netiquette 101.

    Either that, or this is another classic example of moonwalking…. in a post about moonwalking! How meta. We’re to assume that your link contains a complete rebuttal, unless we click on it… then it’s “no no no, we never said that, we only said it’s a first step.”

    Thanks for the illustration. But since I’m the guy who wrote the post, I get the basic concept already.

    Um, no. They emit far less per capita than industrialized nations, less than a third of the U.S.

    Huh. That’s funny. You say “less per capita than the US.” Reuters says: “China is the world’s biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases from human activity.” Ergo, you’re claiming….

    that somehow it doesn’t matter that China emits more human-caused greenhouse gasses than anyone else? They get a pass because their per capita emissions are lower?

    Which means that, if we suddenly granted that amnesty Obama keeps going on about, thereby raising our population a couple dozen million, our global warming tab goes down (total greenhouse gasses emitted / number of citizens = per capita emission, which all of a sudden is the only important criterion)?

    Or maybe Reuters is just flat wrong?

    Wait, let me guess: None of the above. Instead we’re going to get a cut-and-paste about “it’s an important first step,” followed by a cut-and-paste from Morgan’s place about China’s historical justification for additional pollution, followed by some cut-and-paste about looking at evidence.

    Save it. I’ve already fully discussed those points.

  14. Severian: You say “less per capita than the US.” Reuters says: “China is the world’s biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases from human activity.” Ergo, you’re claiming….

    That the Chinese emit less per capita than the U.S.

    Severian: that somehow it doesn’t matter that China emits more human-caused greenhouse gasses than anyone else?

    Of course it matters how much they emit.

    Severian: They get a pass because their per capita emissions are lower?

    The industrialized powers have been emitting huge quantities of greenhouse gases over a long period of time, however, everyone is a contributor and also part of the solution.

    Severian: Instead we’re going to get a cut-and-paste about “it’s an important first step,”

    That’s right. It’s an important first step. How did you think a journey started, but by a first step?

    • That the Chinese emit less per capita than the U.S.

      You don’t have to keep moonwalking, dudes…. that fad died out in about 1991.

      How did you think a journey started, but by a first step?

      Here’s how I think journeys get started. Since this is evidently a difficult concept for y’all, click as often as you’d like.

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  16. I thought about the observation that liberals always loudly and repeatedly claim the mantle of ‘good intentions’ for their actions. This childish and cynical “I’m rubber, you’re glue’ argument means that because they called ‘firsties’, then the opposition automatically has bad intentions. And even though they consistently present this binary arrangement, the’ll nevertheless tell you how wonderfully ‘nuanced’ they are.

    Also, they think that their intentions count for something, that it somehow is the only thing necessary to validate their superiority. They don’t ever seem interested in whether or not their policies work or make the situation worse. Or if they fail catastrophically, where they went wrong. And they never apologize or admit errors.

    What they are unwilling or unable to understand and admit is: Good Intentions don’t always result in good ideas or good plans. And even if you have a good plan, there are no guarantees of good results.

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