The last thing I expected logging in to Social Media today was a bunch of headlines about an “Easter Massacre.” What a mess. This site has the video the shooter livestreamed on Facebook, and it’s agonizing to watch. A poor 74 year-old man was just walking home, minding his own business, and a piece of human garbage randomly selected him to be shot in the head for no reason whatsoever.
Fortunately for the nonce, it would appear the shooter’s brag about killing thirteen others is probably bogus. Hopefully they find this guy and put him down.
This idea of livestreaming your criminal activities is just sick and intensely narcissistic. A few years ago, an IRS scammer who bilked millions bragged on Facebook that she could never be caught, being that she was so clever and all. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how thatended up.
We have a peculiar brand of evil, here. It isn’t the intensely sociopathic, cold-blooded evil which we traditionally associate with acts like this. That kind of evil tends to want to hide itself. The sociopath often pretends to be a normal human being. No, these individuals are narcissists. They crave attention and recognition. Indeed, they crave it so badly, it overrides their empathy toward their fellow man. At that point, killing, stealing, assaulting — whatever — all becomes part of some grand effort to become popular even if that popularity is effectively negative.
These people would rather be hated by many, than loved by a few.
The disease is not limited to casual murderers killing old men on the streets, or tax scammers bilking people out of their tax return money. It can also be seen at a meta level in the recent Antifa protests and attacks at Berkeley. This is attention-seeking behavior, a desire to be seen in the headlines, to be famous, or infamous even. They will pepper spray women in the face for daring to have the temerity to wear a Trump hat.
But, like the child throwing a temper tantrum, it’s not merely about being angry that a candidate lost, or a particular political effort failed, it’s about wanting attention, it’s about everyone in the grocery store seeing the child throwing his arms around and screaming.
In other words, it is narcissism. It’s media coverage they crave, it’s even blog posts like this one, talking about how evil these people are. Some of my readers might be thinking something along the lines of: “well, if you believe this, Dystopic, why are you writing about it? Why not starve them of the attention they seek?”
Therein lies a conundrum. If I don’t discuss the issue, the media still will. They will sensationalize him, either as a monster, or maybe the product of the Capitalist White Supremacist CisHeteroPatriarchy, or something else equally inane. Whatever the angle, they will give him the attention he wants regardless of what I do. But at the same time, we must understand why people act this way and what they presume to get out of it.
I’m not sure what we can do about this attention-seeking brand of evil, save to be armed and ready every moment of the day. How much better, after all, would it have been to see this would-be murderer get shot by a concealed-carry holder on his own livestream? What if the old man simply blew him away and went on about his business? Maybe that’s all one can do about this.
Nonetheless, in the coming days, it is possible the media may try to make excuses for this man. Don’t forget the shocked and confused face of a 78 year old man, just walking home, in the moments before he was shot in the street. Narcissism or not, this was pure evil.
Virtue signalling is a topic that both fascinates and horrifies. We all know how this game is played by now, and if for some reason any of my readers do not, let me assure you that you won’t remain in the dark for long.
Moral trumpeters are legion.
For them, it is an arcane ritual, designed to alleviate them of guilt, of a peculiar form of original political sin. It also gives them hierarchy to compete against. The person who takes the most wealth from one person and gives it to another is the pinnacle of proper Progressivism, the greatest of their moral agents.
Who the wealth is taken from, and who it is given to, doesn’t really matter from any moral perspective (it matters in other ways), so long as the wealth is taken. You might take millions from a man who cured cancer, and give it to a bunch of barbarian slavers in the Third World, but all is good because the millions were taken.
The middleman gets all the credit, of course. Lesser Progressives must bow to his superior morality, that he managed to steal more from one to bribe another to do his political bidding. The taxpayer is insulted for not giving more of his wealth to the government. There is no gratitude. The media is most moral, and the guy living in the sticks least moral, for no matter what he might do for the poor, no one is there to see it, therefore it isn’t moral.
If a person helps another, and the cameras aren’t there to record it, it is as if it never happened.
Competitive morality requires that you trumpet your moral achievements to the world. Stephen Colbert shows us how it is to be done:
Here Stephen Colbert is telling us that we are not Christians, and do not follow Christ, if we don’t want to give our earnings to the government. This is designed to wound a genuine Christian, by calling him a poor follower of Christ, and elevate himself as a superior agent of morality at the same time.
Mr. Colbert would be well-advised to read Matthew 6:2:
Therefore when you give your alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Stephen Colbert and his ilk are revealed for what they are: hypocritical trumpeters of their charity.
So long as one man in the world has less than another, men like Stephen Colbert will find cause to call us selfish and uncharitable for not giving all of our wealth to the government, to spend as it sees fit.
Those same people say that churches don’t do enough to help the poor. This meme is a great illustration:
Give all your money to government, and not churches, because it is better at helping people. Right.
These people know that charity and taxation are not the same thing, and yet they continue to make these insinuations, continue to trumpet their moral superiority. “I’m better than you,” says the liberal. Sometimes they imply that they are more moral in sarcastic, passive-aggressive fashion. “I worked for Greenpeace, did you?”
My first instinct would be to say “no, I prefer to donate my time and money to the parents of kids with cancer in my hometown, because charity starts at home.” But that’s actually a bad reply. It’s a form of trumpeting your own charity right back at them. More importantly, it doesn’t work.
That is their heresy, not ours. We’ve no need for that sort of thing. Instead, explain how their charity really isn’t charity. If you’re taking someone else’s money, grabbing a cut for yourself, and passing along some of it to another in exchange for his vote, you’re no Mother Theresa. You’re an asshole.
The Clinton Foundation was more interested in ensuring Chelsea Clinton’s dress fit right than whatever was going on in Haiti. Whenever massive amounts of money are moved from place to place, these people get a slice of it. They can also determine who it goes to, and under what conditions.
Obama, for example, was very dead set against securing the border or stopping illegal Mexican immigration. But he was all for ending the Cuban refugee wet foot-dry foot policy. Why? Cubans didn’t get the “Hispanics have to vote Democrat” memo. If Cubans were reliable Democrats, Obama would have taken the whole damned country, if he could’ve gotten away with it.
The Leftist motto is rob from everyone who makes money, and give to the most gullible poor slobs they can con into voting for them.
They are King John, not Robin Hood.
And they want to con the Christian man into going along with it by working at his conscience. If we could translate their insinuations, their passive-aggression, it would result in something like this:
Just look at you. I bet you have a car and a nice home. I bet you have savings and valuables. I bet you sometimes spend money on things you want rather than things you need.
You haven’t given every last cent to the poor. You prioritize your own family, friends, and community over the people I want to give money to, and that’s selfish.
You are a bad Christian, and a bad man. You are immoral. I am better than you. And because I am better than you, you must obey me. You must give me your wealth, to dispense to whomever I see fit to give it to.
Because if you don’t, I will continue to make you feel bad for being successful. I will make you look selfish in front of your friends. I will chip away at the foundations of your faith. I will insult you and make fun of you. I will turn the media against you. You will be the butt of all jokes.
This is the message people like Stephen Colbert are sending to us. They presume themselves to be your moral superiors, your intellectual superiors, your betters in all things. They look down upon you while ripping you off for all they can steal.
So the next time one of them calls you immoral, or trumpets their own morality, you must answer as Rhett Butler did: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”.
I once had dinner in a Michelin-starred restaurant with a fellow who insisted on eating there instead of my selection of a casual Greek taverna with a friendly owner operator, his second cousin as a manager and his third cousin once removed as a receptionist. The other customers seemed, as we say in Mediterranean languages, to have a cork plugged in their behind obstructing proper ventilation, causing the vapors to build on the inside of the gastrointestinal walls, leading to the irritable type of decorum you only notice in the educated upper classes. I note that, in addition to the plugged corks, all men wore ties.
Dinner consisted in a succession of complicated small things, with microscopic ingredients and contrasting tastes that forced you to concentrate as if you were taking some type of exam. You were not eating, rather visiting some type of museum with an affected English major lecturing you on some artistic dimension you would have never considered on your own. There was so little that was familiar and so little that fit my taste buds: once something on the occasion tasted like something real, there was no chance to have more as we moved on to the next dish. Trudging through the dishes and listening to some b***t by the sommelier about the paired wine, I was afraid of losing concentration. I costs a lot of energy to fake that I was not bored. In fact I discovered an optimization in the wrong place: the only thing I cared about, bread, was not warm. It appears that this is not a Michelin requirement.
It’s fascinating because it’s so true. Most high-end restaurants I’ve been to operate more or less as Taleb describes them. The server will spin a line of bullshit about the wine pairings, lecture us on the acidity of this or that, and attempt to sell us on the exclusivity of the place. Everything is unnecessarily complex.
There have been exceptions, of course. There is a high-end steakhouse near where I live called Bern’s Steakhouse, and it apparently has some renown, given that out of town friends often gravitate toward it. In that case, the place lived up to the hype. The steak was excellent, among the best I’ve had, along with what is probably the best french onion soup I’ve ever tasted. But the building itself is sort of run down, and the wait staff doesn’t lecture you on the menu, or the pairings, or any of that garbage (this despite having one of the largest wine collections in the world). And the menu is simple. You go there for steak, and the accompanying sides, and that’s pretty much it.
But such unassuming high end restaurants are the exception, not the rule. For the most part, be prepared for a lot of pretentious bullshit about why complex ingredient lists and overpriced wine is proof that you have an elevated palate, that you are special in the way those dirty unwashed masses aren’t. As Taleb puts it, they have corks plugged up their asses. It must be uncomfortable.
I couldn’t imagine living that way.
As Taleb tells us, this extends beyond food, however. When people get to thinking this way, everything must be complex, special, expensive, and out of reach of the unwashed masses. It’s about differentiation, thinking yourself better than others.
When people get rich, they shed their skin-in-the game driven experiential mechanism. They lose control of their preferences, substituting constructed preferences to their own, complicating their lives unnecessarily, triggering their own misery. And these are of course the preferences of those who want to sell them something. This is a skin-in-the-game problem as the choices of the rich are dictated by others who have something to gain, and no side effects, from the sale. And given that they are rich, and their exploiters not often so, nobody would shout victim.
It’s not just when they become rich, however. It’s when they start to climb above the teeming mass of humanity. Remember when Hillary Clinton looked positively baffled by a beer tap, when looking to do some kind of misguided blue collar photo op? There she was, with a fake smile and a beer glass full of foam, looking for all the world like she would rather be anywhere else.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton hoists a beer during a tour of at Pearl Street Brewery in La Crosse, Wis., Tuesday, March 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Beer, you see, is the peasant’s drink. Unless you’re becoming a beer snob, I suppose. Either way, though, it’s too simple and plebbish for a refined power broker like Hillary. I bet she’s one of those women who sniffs the cork repeatedly before deigning to pour a glass of wine. Oh hell, silly me, what am I saying? She probably pays somebody to pour the wine for her.
I think most Americans daydream on occasion about what they would do if they were supremely wealthy. I asked one of the redneck gearheads at the local muscle car meetup about what he’d do with a few million bucks.
“I’d buy a GT350. Supercharge it,” he replied.
Simple needs for a simple man, I suppose. No Ferraris or Lambos for him. He just wanted to go fast, and to hell with the rest of the bullshit. There was no talk of servants, or mansions, or outings to the fanciest French restaurants. It was all about the go-fast.
Nicholas Nassim Taleb explains that even if the costs were reversed, he’d prefer a pizza over the bazillion-course microscopic servings at the fancy place:
Let’s return to the restaurant experience and discuss constructed preferences as compared to natural ones. If I had a choice between paying $200 for a pizza or $6.95 for the French complicated experience, I would pay $200 for the pizza, plus $9.95 for a bottle of Malbec wine. Actually I would pay to not have the Michelin experience.
Of course, this isn’t to say that if you genuinely liked the complex food that it’s somehow wrong to eat it. Neither, should it be noted, should you forgo the Ferrari if you can afford it, and if you really want one. The key is to avoid the artificial narrowing down of your options, in some misguided attempt to signal your superiority:
Many have been mistaking this idea for an advocacy of Spartan choices rather than something about the restriction of freedom.
If you’re poor, you can have the pizza, or nothing. If you’re rich, you can choose the pizza or the fancy food, as you prefer. You should not say no to the pizza just because someone is trying to sell you on the superiority of complex food. Neither should you deny yourself the fancy shit, if that’s what you really want.
But whose desires are you satisfying at that point?
I’ve found in my short time on this Earth that most people espouse things that aren’t them in spades. I used to think it was a drive toward artificial conformity, you know, the traditional cliquish high school behavior writ large. But I find that this operates in reverse, too. At times they choose something precisely because they don’t want to be associated with some group. Ask any Mustang guy what he thinks of the Chevy Camaro. Buying a Mustang is as much about avoiding being a Camaro driver (jokes about mullethead, Miller Lite drinking GM guys abound). And the wealthy patrons of Michelin’s don’t want to be seen crawling around some neighborhood pizzeria. That’s for plebs!
It’s funny, because the virtue signalers often spout cliches like “be yourself!” You first, asshole.
All of this is artificially restrictive of choice. Becoming wealthy is supposed to grant you more choices, not take them away, not pigeonhole a person into the sort of vapid, petty-tyrannical, I’m-better-than-you snobbery espoused by our political class.
And it makes you think. How much of what they say or do isn’t even based on their own preferences, but based on some kind of desire to signal superiority? Social Justice is signalling moral superiority. Food snobbery signals superiority of taste. And then there is the sort of Dunning-Kruger-esque desire to signal intellectual superiority by barfing word salad like the privileged cisnormative heteropatriachal conspiracy, or some bullshit. I mean, if you don’t like white guys, I’d actually prefer if you just said that. You’re still a racist shit, mind you, but at least you’re not a pretentious racist shit.
Put simply, if you like well done steak, order away. If you prefer pizza to Michelin’s, get yourself a pizza. And if all your friends are virtue signalling their food superiority, you probably ought to get new friends.
Sarah Hoyt wrote an excellent piece this morning describing the Leftist view of racism as, in essence, fear of the stranger. Fear of the stranger contains a strongly rational component, in that, as she puts it:
In pre-human times, with many bands and tribelets living close enough for kids to stray, the name for a kid who thought that his family or strangers were equivalent was — at least if we go by how our closest relatives, the chimps, treat young from other bands — “dinner.”
Oh sure, in times of stress and famine, the chances that your own band would tuck in were fairly high, but still the chances that dear old mom would eat you were not nearly as high as that a stranger would eat you.
In other words, the in-group was more likely to protect and cherish you — and less likely to eat you — than the out-group. So fear of the stranger was rational, and selected for.
That isn’t to say you cannot regard someone of a different background as part of the in-group. Over time, as individuals prove themselves and you get to know them, the fear of the stranger will ease because the individual is no longer a stranger to you.
My in-laws are of Cuban ancestry, and their culture is somewhat different from the one in which I was raised. But having lived with it for near to a decade now, it is very familiar to me. It is not strange or odd.
But therein lies the distinction. You get to know someone first. And if they prove themselves, then they are no longer regarded as strangers.
Instead of rationally determining which individuals and groups are good, and offer no threat to you, then acting accordingly, Leftists demand that you display a knee-jerk reaction every time fear of the stranger comes, and immediately accept that person into your home, regardless of what they say or do.
The Syrian migrant/refugee business is a great case in point, as is illegal immigration. The Left thinks it a crime to ask the stranger what his business is, and why he wants to enter our community. They think it is a crime to not immediately give the stranger every possible honor, a seat at our table, a home in our village, a position of power in our councils, and then demand nothing from him in return. We don’t even demand that he obey our laws, or speak our language.
It’s absolutely insane.
Their position is beyond stupid. Any species that acted this way in the wild would be rendered extinct within a generation. They would be eaten by everyone. They would be gullible fools, easy snacks for any predators.
A Leftist sees a sketchy van roll into his neighborhood, and in order to virtue signal his moral superiority over us, he immediately dismisses his fear of the stranger, and offers his children to the sketchy van owner, heedless of any threat or danger (because recognizing any threat is discriminatory). He asks the sketchy van owner to come into his home, eat at his table, and give company to his wife. It doesn’t even matter if the van owner speaks his language. In fact, the more difference he has from you, the stranger he is to you, the better for the moral preening.
Any hesitation to do this immediately and reflexively is racism/sexism/homophobia/islamophobia/whatever.
It’s knee-jerk moral preening, and if it weren’t moderated by a fair amount of Rightist common sense, it would have already destroyed the country, and then the Leftists themselves, in short order.
There’s a reason, of course, why Stalinists shot gullible true believers. They didn’t want those idiots around either. They were useful for destroying the old order — because they bring civilizational extinction wherever they achieve power — but they are useless for any other purpose.
Leftist anti-racism is a knee-jerk reaction to a survival instinct. If the choice is dismissing the stranger, or doing whatever the Left is doing, dismissing is the superior choice, because it at least concedes survival. The best position, of course, is a healthy skepticism of the stranger, until he proves himself adequately, upon which he is no longer strange to you.
But nothing other than civilizational hara kiri is acceptable to the political Left.
Tom Nichols is one of those individuals who straddles the line between elitism and sense. At times, he acts intelligently and contributes valuable insight into current affairs. At other times, he demonstrates a certain elitism, a sort of smugness little different from the Jon Stewart liberals, a sort of technocratic disdain for the layman, or, indeed, anyone that is not within his small circle of approved smart people.
It’s one of those pieces that demands a fisking, a point-by-point rebuttal, because this notion of the stupid layman, the idiot who is unaware he is voting against his own best interests, as determined by the credentialed wise men of government, is central to the dispute about where the West is heading, and why.
You need only recall Brexit, and the groans of the remainers, to understand this. A majority of Britishers, it would seem, were too stupid to understand that the EU was better for them. And so all sorts of legal chicanery was deployed in the service of preventing Brexit, or rolling it back.
Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve taken issue with Mr. Nichols and his view of the American citizenry as what you might call expertise deniers. A sort of equivalent of the climate change denier writ large, as if most Americans hate experts for no good reason, and are too stupid to realize that they ought to willingly subordinate their wills to greater men.
But enough of that. Let the fisk begin:
Do Americans hate science? They certainly seem to hate it more than they used to, as they rage against experts in every field. This is more than a traditional American distaste for eggheads and intellectuals. Americans, increasingly, are acting (and voting) on myths and misinformation about science, and placing themselves at significant risk.
What traditional distaste for intellectuals? When I was young, I remember how the engineers and scientists who supported NASA were regarded as quasi-gods. Everybody wanted their kid to be a rocket scientist, or an aeronautical engineer. No, America never had a tradition of hating intellectuals. At worst, there was a time when being nerdy was regarded poorly. But nerdy and intellectual are not the same thing.
Furthermore, Tom tells us that they rage against experts in every field. This is observably false. They do not rage against airplane pilots, or automotive engineers. They do not malign physicists and mathematicians. There are very specific fields which have attracted the ire of a sizable fraction of the citizenry. More on this later.
In Texas, for example, “personal-belief exemptions” among parents refusing to vaccinate their children increased from 2,314 in the 2003-2004 school year to 44,716 in 2015-2016. Although these parents were, they say, galvanized by the election of Donald Trump—America’s most prominent vaccine skeptic—this reflexive dismissal of science long predates the 2016 election, even if it has intensified in the last few years.
This anti-vaxxer thing is a frequent political bludgeon deployed by the Left to make the Right look like morons. Except there does not appear to be strong correlation between conservatism and vaccine skepticism. Observe. For one, only 13% of Americans disagreed with the statement that “vaccines are safe.” The French were much more skeptical, at 41%. Meanwhile, the article cites Marin county, California as a bastion of strong vaccine skepticism. This is a county that votes strongly Democratic. So it is not exclusively (or even strongly) a Right-wing issue.
Tom, of course, doesn’t claim that it is Right wing (he probably knows better). But nonetheless, the skepticism bothers him. Another interesting tidbit of information comes to us from the same article’s citations. In it, we find that one out of four French doctors are telling their patients that many vaccines recommended by the public health authorities aren’t even necessary. I wish there was better data in America on this, but nonetheless, the French statistics are useful for illustrating one possibility, namely that citizens aren’t distrustful of qualified doctors and medical practitioners, they distrust public health bureaucrats. That’s very different from distrusting science, or expert opinion, or just smart people in general.
Of course, Americans don’t really hate science: they rely on it every day in ways they don’t even notice. From tens of thousands of safe and effective over-the-counter drugs to the directions on a car’s GPS system, Americans trust the work of experts on a daily basis. Rather, it is more accurate to say that the American public distrusts scientists, rather than science itself. Scientists, however, should be consoled by the fact that they are disdained not for their work, but for being part of an undifferentiated mass of “experts” whom a fair number of Americans now view as, at best, a suspect political class, and, at worst, as an enemy.
There is an interesting intellectual sleight-of-hand here. Note that Tom starts off talking about science, then switches to the word expert. Scientist and expert do not mean the same thing. Neither, it should be noted, do Americans distrust scientists in all fields. It’s not a general hatred of science, it’s much more specific than that.
Tom is right on one thing, however. The ones who are disdained are subjected to this because they are seen as a suspect political class. It is the politics that engenders the hate, not reliance on the scientific method.
In one sense, this attack on the defenders of established knowledge was inevitable. It is not only fueled by an obvious culprit—the internet—but also by the unintended side effects of otherwise positive social changes. Universal education and increased social mobility, among other changes, have thrown America’s experts and citizens into direct contact after nearly two centuries in which they lived segregated lives and rarely interacted with each other. And yet the result has not been a greater respect for knowledge, but the growth of an irrational conviction among Americans that everyone is as smart as everyone else. To understand this, and to think about solutions, requires a deeper look at causes. Both the professional community and the public it serves bear some responsibility for our parlous condition.
Tom spoke before on how he thinks the Internet was actually a bad thing, because in his view, the proliferation of bad information on the Internet has given rise to a politically active class of idiot. He explained that he believes the media was better when it was in the hands of a few expert firms, and such clout was effectively denied to the layman. The rise of blogs like this one horrified him.
Trouble is, the layman may in many ways be uneducated, and not inclined to intellectualism. But that does not mean he is stupid. America doesn’t have a tradition of hating scientists, it has a tradition of hating tyrants. The layman may not know anything about climate statistics, ice sheets, the ozone layer, or a host of other things, but he may have the vague sense that he’s getting screwed, that he’s being taken advantage of. It is similar to when a man goes to the car dealership, and may not understand all of the arcane math spouted by the sales weasel. Indeed, the sales weasel may be far more intelligent. Yet the man still realizes the salesman is trying to screw him, and acts accordingly.
In other words, the average American is on the look out for a tyrant trying to sell him a lemon.
For its part, the American public is in the grip of a sullen, almost paranoid, narcissism about science and experts. This is not a function of education; the anti-vaccine movement, for example, is actually concentrated among parents with more education than their poorer counterparts.
The poor and uneducated do what they’re told. The middle class doesn’t. It’s been a bone of contention for a long time. The elite doesn’t like the middle class. Tom’s second statement here is borne out by the data… it isn’t the uneducated and stupid who are vaccine skeptics, generally. Saudi Arabia has only a 2% skepticism rate, and we’d hardly call it a bastion of high education, or particularly high IQ.
This actually contradicts his earlier implications that this is primarily driven by stupidity. It isn’t.
Instead, the public rejection of science is an extension of our politics, which in turn have become an expression of our constant outrage about everything that offends our deepest beliefs about ourselves. As social scientist David Dunning has put it: “Some of our most stubborn misbeliefs arise not from primitive childlike intuitions or careless category errors, but from the very values and philosophies that define who we are as individuals.” When those misbeliefs are challenged, laypeople take it not as correction but as a direct attack on their identity.
Now we get to it. This reminds me of the common atheist superiority complex, wherein an atheist believes himself to be superior and more intelligent because he isn’t so stupid as to believe in a sky wizard. To the atheist, God is misbelief.
It’s funny to hear this sort of thing from social scientists – the same sort of folks who are going over to this idea of gender as an infinite spectrum rather than anything concrete. Tell a genderqueer androgynous person that this is all made up nonsense, misbelief in other words. Does that not get viewed (by them, as least) as a direct attack on their identity? The experts in social sciences have been spewing a lot of nonsense lately, things that are directly and easily contradicted by observation.
Now they are bothered when, suddenly, folks don’t trust them anymore?
The expert community, however, must shoulder some of the blame for the collapse of the relationship between science and the public. Experts often trespass across from empirical knowledge to normative demands—I am not without sin as an expert myself in this regard—and thus validate the suspicions of laypeople that the real goal of expert advice is to force compliance with expert policy preferences.
Well, at least he admits it.
The debate over climate change is a good example of this problem. Is the earth’s climate changing? Most experts believe it is, and they believe they know why. Whether their models, extrapolated out for decades and centuries, are accurate is a legitimate area for scientific debate. What experts cannot answer, however, is what to do about climate change. It might well be that Boston will be underwater in fifty years, but it might well also be that voters— who have the right to be wrong— will choose to shift that problem to later generations rather than to risk jobs (or comfort) now.
This is so stupid. “Is the Earth’s climate changing?” Of course it is changing. This is axiomatic, it categorically must be. The Earth is not static. When the experts say “the climate is changing” the proper reply is “duh!” This is why I hate the label “climate change.” It would be like calling weather forecasting “weather change” and acting like it’s somehow the mark of an intelligent man to say that the weather tomorrow will be different than the weather today. Duh! It also strikes the layman as a weaselly term. The layman knows that the climate will change, and may view the expert as hedging his bets. In other words, he may think the salesman is trying to screw him.
It doesn’t help that “fighting climate change” almost universally requires the government to take more of his money. It isn’t the science that bothers John Doe, it’s the potential for tyranny.
Now, as to making specific predictions, to say the climate will change in this direction, by this amount, and for these reasons… that’s a much more difficult ball of wax. As I’ve stated before, I essentially have no opinion, except that I don’t trust the government or the academic establishment, because I’ve caught them in many other lies.
And that goes back to why Tom’s appeal is likely to fall upon hearts of stone. The public has been lied to with such frequency that it is hard to trust anyone in a position of power anymore. Politics has always been a business of lies, but the last few decades have become much worse. Tom wants to blame the Internet for this.
I blame our “leaders” and their way of trying to piss down my back while telling me it’s raining.
Letting Boston slide into the harbor is not my preferred outcome. But experts cannot compel civic engagement, and they must accept that their advice, which might seem obvious and right to them, will not always be taken in a democracy that may not value the same things they do. The job of mediating those values and policies lies with elected officials, not with scientists or other experts. The knowers cannot—and in a constitutional republic, should not—be the deciders.
This is the sort of stupid, transparent rhetoric usually peddled by Leftists. Tom should be ashamed of himself. Sure, he admits the technocrats shouldn’t be the ultimate decision makers, but then makes sure to jab the stupid hoi polloi by implying they’d be fine letting Boston slide into the harbor.
Actually, with the way Boston votes these days, he might be right. Maybe they wouldn’t care. It would be like if the California coastline sunk into the Pacific, there’d probably be a party in middle America the next day. But that has nothing to do with climate change, per se.
Tom is making sure to tell us that it sucks that stupid people (i.e. people not like him, the anointed intelligentsia) get to make decisions.
At the same time, experts cannot withdraw from a public arena increasingly controlled by opportunistic demagogues who seek to discredit empiricism and rationality.
Tom is talking about Donald Trump here, of course. He can’t resist a dig at the President, either.
Instead, the expert community must help to lead laypeople, who find the modern world intimidating and even frightening, back along the road to a better day when the citizens of the United States valued scientists and other professionals as essential parts of the American story. Experts must continue, as citizens, to advocate for those things they believe to be in the public interest, but the most important role they can play is defend a stark but empathetic insistence on science and reason as the foundation for public policy.
In the end, Tom tells us that the experts must lead the laypeople, shepherding the flock of idiots who find the world intimidating and frightening. He then admits openly that America once valued these people (you know, back when Academia wasn’t the shining beacon of Marxist-Leninism and Social Justice weirdness). Earlier, you recall, he told us that America traditionally hates these people.
Which is it, Tom?
He tells us that experts shouldn’t make the decisions, but must advocate and lead the laypeople. Which is it, Tom?
I can only guess at what’s going on in his head, because he appears very conflicted and contradictory here. He doesn’t want to espouse open technocracy, to seize control openly. And yet he wants his chosen to lead the people nonetheless.
He fails to mention the real reason we are in this mess. Academia is full of loons and crazies. The education system is a disaster, and full of leftist agitprop. The experts in certain fields have been caught in egregious lies, obviously designed to serve a political narrative. Having been lied to about so many things, many Americans find it hard to trust those people.
And that’s what Tom’s experts (at least in those fields closely tied to Academia and government) need to address. Trust. They need to stop crying wolf, stop lying, stop trying to cloak wealth redistribution and globalization with a thin veneer of environmentalism.
The layman feels strongly that he’s being sold a false bill of goods by a fast-talking salesweasel. And quite often, he’s right on the money about that.
And it’s not just the latest character assassination that shows this, it’s the media themselves. They admit their role is to control the public, to tell them how to think and what to believe, not merely to report on the facts.
Mika Brzezinski has committed a Kinsleyesque “gaffe.” Michael Kinsley defined that as an occasion on which a politician unwittingly tells the truth. I submit that the definition applies with equal accuracy to mask slippages among media figures.
The luminaries of the media really would like to control what you think, Gentle Reader. They aspire to the authority of Orwell’s Ministry of Love. That President Trump has denied them the homage they expect from the White House has evoked their counterfire. Not that that’s likely to have the effect they seek.
The Presidency is suppose to obey the press, to operate solely within the narrow Overton window constructed by manufactured public opinion. Not only is the press the fourth branch of government, at this point, it is supposed to be preeminent over the other three. Media consensus is supposed to turn legislation, check the President’s veto pen, and steer court rulings.
This is their job, as stated:
This is not surprising, except to note that it was admitted openly, which is usually taboo for them. The thing to note about the media is how inaccurate and disingenuous they can be. Pick a topic you are an expert in, any topic. Choose mechanical engineering, or Byzantine history, or theology. The subject doesn’t matter, so long as you are well qualified to speak on it.
Now, go look up media articles, hit pieces, videos, and otherwise on that particular subject. Note the level of inconsistency, the many lies, the spin, the incompetence and blatant, obvious errors.
Now, extrapolate that across the entire media and everything they do. Are you beginning to see it?
There used to be a detractor of mine that would comment here. And he’d often ask why, if I didn’t trust the media, I would post links to media articles here. Aside from the obvious answer, which is I often post the links to point out the lies, there’s a deeper reason.
For some bizarre reason, many Leftists actually trust the media. Perhaps this is because the media tells them what they want to hear, or perhaps they don’t really believe it, but merely use it as a cynical weapon. Whatever the reason, unless it’s sourced from AP, CNN, or some other such outlet, they don’t believe it. So when even one of those outlets is forced by the obviousness of the truth to report on something, it can be a fearsome weapon against them.
If there was no Internet, no way for the hoi polloi to get the word out, I’ve no doubt that CNN would have buried it, or even outright denied it was happening. But even there, they will cast doubt, spin to the maximum of their ability, and try to manipulate public opinion in their favored direction as much as possible.
Sometimes they just lie, other times they tell the truth because they are forced to, but try to spin it as much as they feel they can get away with. Oftentimes, it’s a combination of both.
Either way, however, they cannot be trusted. They are the enemy, and Donald Trump is right to treat them thusly. He is reasserting the primacy of the elected government over the unelected bureaucracy and the de facto media branch, which has long been accustomed to unchallenged dominance.
For the court of manipulated public opinion needs no judge, nor jury of peers. Such a court needs neither evidence, nor witness, and, indeed, generally disdains both. Only the journalists seething hatred, the reporter’s smug sense of self-righteous superiority, is needed. “Believe me,” says the journalist, “for if you do not, I shall destroy you too.”
I'm a DJ, developer, amateur historian, would-be pundit, and general pain in the ass. I still cannot decide on the wisdom of the Oxford Comma. These are my observations on a civilization in decline, a political system on the verge of collapse, and a people asleep at the wheel as the car turns toward the jersey barrier.