Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science


As the Conservatives lead us down the man-made climate change path to extinction, an article by Chris Mooney at Motherjones.com tells us, "The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science."


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"How our brains fool us on climate, creationism, and the vaccine-autism link.


Illustration: Jonathon Rosen
"A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point." So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger (PDF), in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes. But it was too early for that—this was the 1950s—and Festinger was actually describing a famous case study in psychology.

"Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens—including one, 'Sananda,' who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ. The group was led by Dorothy Martin, a Dianetics devotee who transcribed the interstellar messages through automatic writing.

"Through her, the aliens had given the precise date of an Earth-rending cataclysm: December 21, 1954. Some of Martin's followers quit their jobs and sold their property, expecting to be rescued by a flying saucer when the continent split asunder and a new sea swallowed much of the United States. The disciples even went so far as to remove brassieres and rip zippers out of their trousers—the metal, they believed, would pose a danger on the spacecraft.

"Festinger and his team were with the cult when the prophecy failed. First, the 'boys upstairs' (as the aliens were sometimes called) did not show up and rescue the Seekers. Then December 21 arrived without incident. It was the moment Festinger had been waiting for: How would people so emotionally invested in a belief system react, now that it had been soundly refuted?

Read also: the truth about Climategate.
"At first, the group struggled for an explanation. But then rationalization set in. A new message arrived, announcing that they'd all been spared at the last minute. Festinger summarized the extraterrestrials' new pronouncement: 'The little group, sitting all night long, had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction.' Their willingness to believe in the prophecy had saved Earth from the prophecy!

"From that day forward, the Seekers, previously shy of the press and indifferent toward evangelizing, began to proselytize. 'Their sense of urgency was enormous,' wrote Festinger. The devastation of all they had believed had made them even more certain of their beliefs.

"In the annals of denial, it doesn't get much more extreme than the Seekers. They lost their jobs, the press mocked them, and there were efforts to keep them away from impressionable young minds. But while Martin's space cult might lie at on the far end of the spectrum of human self-delusion, there's plenty to go around. And since Festinger's day, an array of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience has further demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs, far more than any new facts, can skew our thoughts and even color what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions. This tendency toward so-called 'motivated reasoning' helps explain why we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal: climate change, vaccines, 'death panels,' the birthplace and religion of the president (PDF), and much else. It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts.
"We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself."
"The theory of motivated reasoning builds on a key insight of modern neuroscience (PDF): Reasoning is actually suffused with emotion (or what researchers often call 'affect'). Not only are the two inseparable, but our positive or negative feelings about people, things, and ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts, in a matter of milliseconds—fast enough to detect with an EEG device, but long before we're aware of it. That shouldn't be surprising: Evolution required us to react very quickly to stimuli in our environment. It's a 'basic human survival skill,' explains political scientist Arthur Lupia of the University of Michigan. We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself.


"We're not driven only by emotions, of course—we also reason, deliberate. But reasoning comes later, works slower—and even then, it doesn't take place in an emotional vacuum. Rather, our quick-fire emotions can set us on a course of thinking that's highly biased, especially on topics we care a great deal about.

"Consider a person who has heard about a scientific discovery that deeply challenges her belief in divine creation—a new hominid, say, that confirms our evolutionary origins. What happens next, explains political scientist Charles Taber of Stony Brook University, is a subconscious negative response to the new information—and that response, in turn, guides the type of memories and associations formed in the conscious mind. 'They retrieve thoughts that are consistent with their previous beliefs,' says Taber, 'and that will lead them to build an argument and challenge what they're hearing.'


"In other words, when we think we're reasoning, we may instead be rationalizing. Or to use an analogy offered by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt: We may think we're being scientists, but we're actually being lawyers (PDF). Our 'reasoning' is a means to a predetermined end—winning our 'case'—and is shot through with biases. They include 'confirmation bias,' in which we give greater heed to evidence and arguments that bolster our beliefs, and 'disconfirmation bias,' in which we expend disproportionate energy trying to debunk or refute views and arguments that we find uncongenial.

"That's a lot of jargon, but we all understand these mechanisms when it comes to interpersonal relationships. If I don't want to believe that my spouse is being unfaithful, or that my child is a bully, I can go to great lengths to explain away behavior that seems obvious to everybody else—everybody who isn't too emotionally invested to accept it, anyway. That's not to suggest that we aren't also motivated to perceive the world accurately—we are. Or that we never change our minds—we do. It's just that we have other important goals besides accuracy—including identity affirmation and protecting one's sense of self—and often those make us highly resistant to changing our beliefs when the facts say we should.


"Modern science originated from an attempt to weed out such subjective lapses—what that great 17th century theorist of the scientific method, Francis Bacon, dubbed the 'idols of the mind.' Even if individual researchers are prone to falling in love with their own theories, the broader processes of peer review and institutionalized skepticism are designed to ensure that, eventually, the best ideas prevail.
"Scientific evidence is highly susceptible to misinterpretation. Giving ideologues scientific data that's relevant to their beliefs is like unleashing them in the motivated-reasoning equivalent of a candy store."
"Our individual responses to the conclusions that science reaches, however, are quite another matter. Ironically, in part because researchers employ so much nuance and strive to disclose all remaining sources of uncertainty, scientific evidence is highly susceptible to selective reading and misinterpretation. Giving ideologues or partisans scientific data that's relevant to their beliefs is like unleashing them in the motivated-reasoning equivalent of a candy store.

"Sure enough, a large number of psychological studies have shown that people respond to scientific or technical evidence in ways that justify their preexisting beliefs. In a classic 1979 experiment (PDF), pro- and anti-death penalty advocates were exposed to descriptions of two fake scientific studies: one supporting and one undermining the notion that capital punishment deters violent crime and, in particular, murder. They were also shown detailed methodological critiques of the fake studies—and in a scientific sense, neither study was stronger than the other. Yet in each case, advocates more heavily criticized the study whose conclusions disagreed with their own, while describing the study that was more ideologically congenial as more 'convincing.'


"Since then, similar results have been found for how people respond to 'evidence' about affirmative action, gun control, the accuracy of gay stereotypes, and much else. Even when study subjects are explicitly instructed to be unbiased and even-handed about the evidence, they often fail.

"And it's not just that people twist or selectively read scientific evidence to support their preexisting views. According to research by Yale Law School professor Dan Kahan and his colleagues, people's deep-seated views about morality, and about the way society should be ordered, strongly predict whom they consider to be a legitimate scientific expert in the first place—and thus where they consider "scientific consensus" to lie on contested issues.


"In Kahan's research (PDF), individuals are classified, based on their cultural values, as either 'individualists' or 'communitarians,' and as either 'hierarchical' or 'egalitarian' in outlook. (Somewhat oversimplifying, you can think of hierarchical individualists as akin to conservative Republicans, and egalitarian communitarians as liberal Democrats.) In one study, subjects in the different groups were asked to help a close friend determine the risks associated with climate change, sequestering nuclear waste, or concealed carry laws: 'The friend tells you that he or she is planning to read a book about the issue but would like to get your opinion on whether the author seems like a knowledgeable and trustworthy expert.' A subject was then presented with the résumé of a fake expert 'depicted as a member of the National Academy of Sciences who had earned a Ph.D. in a pertinent field from one elite university and who was now on the faculty of another.' The subject was then shown a book excerpt by that 'expert,' in which the risk of the issue at hand was portrayed as high or low, well-founded or speculative. The results were stark: When the scientist's position stated that global warming is real and human-caused, for instance, only 23 percent of hierarchical individualists agreed the person was a 'trustworthy and knowledgeable expert.' Yet 88 percent of egalitarian communitarians accepted the same scientist's expertise. Similar divides were observed on whether nuclear waste can be safely stored underground and whether letting people carry guns deters crime. (The alliances did not always hold. In another study (PDF), hierarchs and communitarians were in favor of laws that would compel the mentally ill to accept treatment, whereas individualists and egalitarians were opposed.)
"Head-on attempts to persuade can sometimes trigger a backfire effect, where people not only fail to change their minds when confronted with the facts—they may hold their wrong views more tenaciously than ever."
"In other words, people rejected the validity of a scientific source because its conclusion contradicted their deeply held views—and thus the relative risks inherent in each scenario. A hierarchal individualist finds it difficult to believe that the things he prizes (commerce, industry, a man's freedom to possess a gun to defend his family) (PDF) could lead to outcomes deleterious to society. Whereas egalitarian communitarians tend to think that the free market causes harm, that patriarchal families mess up kids, and that people can't handle their guns. The study subjects weren't 'anti-science'—not in their own minds, anyway. It's just that 'science' was whatever they wanted it to be. 'We've come to a misadventure, a bad situation where diverse citizens, who rely on diverse systems of cultural certification, are in conflict,' says Kahan.


"And that undercuts the standard notion that the way to persuade people is via evidence and argument. In fact, head-on attempts to persuade can sometimes trigger a backfire effect, where people not only fail to change their minds when confronted with the facts—they may hold their wrong views more tenaciously than ever.

"Take, for instance, the question of whether Saddam Hussein possessed hidden weapons of mass destruction just before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. When political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler showed subjects fake newspaper articles (PDF) in which this was first suggested (in a 2004 quote from President Bush) and then refuted (with the findings of the Bush-commissioned Iraq Survey Group report, which found no evidence of active WMD programs in pre-invasion Iraq), they found that conservatives were more likely than before to believe the claim. (The researchers also tested how liberals responded when shown that Bush did not actually 'ban' embryonic stem-cell research. Liberals weren't particularly amenable to persuasion, either, but no backfire effect was observed.)"




CHRIS MOONEY
 Correspondent

Chris Mooney is a science and political journalist, podcaster, and the host of Climate Desk Live. He is the author of four books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science. RSS | TWITTER

Tomorrow: Part 2 - Climategate: What really happened?

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While Conservative Sheeplets and Tea Baggers "think (they're) reasoning, (they) may instead be rationalizing," and truthiness then erupts in their heads.

And when the heirarchical meets the egalitarian, no amount of logic will turn on the light of intelligence or discovery in the Sheeplet's brain, and when they are told by their propagandists that climate change is man-made, they are also informed that climate change doesn't exists!

The sad thing is that the Sheeplets are teaching their kids to be anti-science -- with tinfoil hat attached.  With liberals the "backfire" reaction is nonexistent; with Sheeplets and Tea Baggers, it's a way of life, and the Conservative leadership has no qualms in instructing the Sheeplets to stay stupid.

It oughta be a crime.



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"Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful.  But there isn’t even one study that can
be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas."

GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann.


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stupid Goes Viral: The Climate Zombies of The New GOP


We return to man-made climate change again with a 2010 post from RL Miller at Grist.com, a link in our post from a few days ago, "The Right’s Climate Denialism Is Part of Something Much Larger."
 Today's post is titled, "Stupid Goes Viral: The Climate Zombies of The New GOP," as even the destruction of the planet doesn't dissuade Conservative propagandists and other Consymps from denying that industrialism and carbon fuels are creating it.



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"After researching the causes of temperature fluctuations on earth, I found the largest factor to be the sun. The earth’s orbit changes. Also the earth’s spin and axis change over time. When areas of the earth are closer to the sun, the temperature is hotter and when they are further away, cooler. The sun also has more activity at times and less at other times. They have been able to map out large changes in the earth’s temperature over time to the sun. Times with no polar ice caps have corresponded to times when we were closer to the sun. Ice ages have corresponded to times when we were further from the sun. We should not punish the people of the United States financially by legislating on pseudo-science that has not been proven.

"That’s no ordinary tea partier. It’s a candidate for Congress. And she’s not alone.

"Meet the climate zombies.



"They’re mindless.

"Their stupid is contagious.

"And if they win, humanity loses.

"A couple of weeks ago, the Wonk Room had a story: Every GOP N.H. Senate candidate is a global warming denier. At a candidates’ forum in Portsmouth, N.H., 'all said man-made global warming hasn’t been proven.'

"The epidemic next appeared in New Mexico, where all three Republican candidates for Congress, and the GOP candidate for governor, denied the existence of man-made climate change. The candidates for Congress gave waffling-but-cool answers on a questionnaire, but subsequent digging revealed that all flatly deny the science.

"Intrigued, I began to poke around other states. Virtually all Republicans criticize what they call “cap-and-tax” as too expensive, but how many actually deny the reality of climate change science? How many have been infected by Teh Stoopid?

"A lot. A real lot. Be afraid.


"I started with two states whose candidates for Senate have made headlines for their statements on climate.

"In AlaskaJoe Miller, running for Senate, attributes warming to 'cyclical warming patterns.' So does Don Young, incumbent representative, who derides climate change as the 'biggest scam since the Teapot Dome.' Gov. Sean Parnell, running for reelection, hasn’t said anything, although he dislikes polar bear protection.

"In WisconsinRep. Paul Ryan (Wis.-01) confuses climate and snowstorms; candidate Chad Lee (Wis.-02) dismisses 'junk science'; candidate Dan Sebring (Wis.-04) speaks of 'the fraud of cap-and-trade'; and Rep. Jim Sensebrenner (Wis.-05) praises 'Climategate' for raising 'legitimate questions.' Only Rep. Tom Petri (Wis.-06) may be reasonable. (I don’t have information regarding climate-related positions of a number of Republicans running in Wis.-03, Wis.-07, and Wis.-08, and for governor, all facing a primary Sept. 14.)

"Ron Johnson, Wisconsin’s GOP challenger to Sen. Russ Feingold famously blames sunspots for climate change: 'I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change,' Johnson said. 'It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination.'

"What of other states? eKos leader extraordinaire Patrickz checked out OklahomaJohn Sullivan (Okla.-01) complains about fraudulent data; James Lankford (Okla.-05) complains about the global warming myth; by contrast, Charles Thompson (Okla.-02), Frank Lucas (Okla.-03), and Tom Cole (Okla.-04) merely complain about the cost of cap-and-trade. Gov. Mary Fallin thinks global warming is caused by nuclear attacks. Sen. Tom Coburn considers human-caused climate change malarkey. By contrast, Sen. James Inhofe (R) is a paradigm of reason. One of these statements is false.


"Does the virus only spread from Senate candidates? I turned my attention, randomly, to Arizona. Sadly, the Grand Canyon State is completely overrun with Climate Zombies.

"Trent Franks (Ariz.-02) has yet to see clear and convincing evidence that global warming exists; Ben Quayle (Ariz.-03) states that the planet has warmed and cooled since the beginning of time; Janet Contreras (Ariz.-04) believes that the science has been called into serious question; Jeff Flake (Ariz.-06) identifies himself as a skeptic; and Ruth McClung (Ariz. -07) is tied with Wisconsin’s Johnson in the Stoopid Contest for her comment, above, regarding earth spin. I don’t have quotes from Paul Gosar (Ariz.-01) or David Schweikert (Ariz.-05) yet, but the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity will be pouring money into their races. Jesse Kelly (Ariz.-08) founded the Arizona Tea Party, so is presumed zombiefied. Scorecard: five out of eight GOP candidates have gone on record as doubting the science, and the other three probably will.

"Gov. Jan Brewer has been silent on the subject of climate, apparently because zombies can only be killed by becoming headless.

"Is Sen. John McCain transmogrifying into a Climate Zombie? Long a self-proclaimed maverick who sponsored climate bills, he now tells the Arizona Republic that 'there are dramatic environmental changes happening in the arctic region — whether one believes they are man-made or natural.' Uh, senator? Suddenly the cause of change is in doubt?



"In conclusion: We sampled four states with a total of 22 representatives, three gubernatorial candidates (excluding Wisconsin), and three senators up for reelection. Four representatives (Okla.-02, Okla.-03, Okla.-04,and Wis.-06) seem to accept the reality of climate science, if not the solution; two (Ariz.-01, Ariz.-05) have been silent to date; three (Wis.-03, Wis.-07, and Wis.-08) haven’t been selected yet; and 13 express skepticism/hostility. Of the three candidates for governor, one is openly hostile a
nd two are silent. Of the three candidates for Senate, two are openly hostile and the third is John McCain.

"Climate zombies are now the Republican party norm.

"This past summer, climate peacocks like Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) succeeded in killing the Kerry-Lieberman bill by preening their sincerely held, beautifully articulated concerns about the horrors of climate while simultaneously refusing to find solutions. Those peacocks are going the way of the polar bear. Instead, climate zombies like Joe Miller mindlessly replicate. If you listen carefully, you can hear them moan: 'caaaash!' Or maybe they cry 'kooooch!'"


(RL Miller is an attorney, climate/enviro blogger, runner, quilter, keeper of chickens. If you hate the terms climate zombies and oilpocalypse, blame RL Miller.)

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We pulled this article out from 2010 for a little background on the issue and because, as the article says, "Climate zombies are now the Republican party norm."

The obvious name for Climate deniers is "Climategate," and the rest of the country has only been exposed to Climate Change recently, as the media has been hiding out.

Climategate is bigger than Watergate or any of the other "gates" that the Conservatives have been promulgating for self-profit, and the names in the article will provide reference when we come after these lying monsters who care little for future generations as long as their industrial masters can continue to profit from the use of fossil fuels.


Climate change deniers aren't expressing an opinion nor are they examining the science; they are lying criminals who are steering us towards extinction -- for profit.

Next: More of The Same.



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"A good definition of Hell on Earth is a forced attendance for a couple of days or
even a couple of hours at a Young Conservatives' Convention.

Cassandra, in the Daily Mirror, June 1952.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

7 Right-Wing Absurdities This Week: Colbert Causes Conservative Meltdown Edition


It's Monday again and time once again for Janet Allon at Alternet.org with an article entitled, "7 Right-Wing Absurdities This Week: Colbert Causes Conservative Meltdown Edition."


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"Apoplexy after Stephen Colbert takes CBS late-night reins from Letterman.


Photo Credit: screenshot, Media Matters
"1. Various conservative clowns: Stephen Colbert will single-handedly destroy America.

"The hysteria on the right about Stephen Colbert’s elevation to CBS’s Late Night post has been nothing short of hilarious. Even before news hit that Colbert would replace David Letterman when he retires, Bill O’Reilly frantically declared that Colbert is responsible for the 'destruction of America.' That’s quite a distinction, when there are so many other things vying for the title of 'America’s Top Destroyer.' (Wait, reality contest show idea: 'Who will be America’s Next Top Destroyer?')

"More than failing infrastructure, abject refusal to deal with the coming climate catastrophe, rampant, spiraling inequality to rival the Gilded Age, near daily mass shootings, the criminalization of poverty; or deportation of millions of legions of innocent undocumented immigrants [insert your favorite scourge here], it is Stephen Colbert who is ushering in the decline of this great nation. In addition, O’Reilly also said, Colbert is an 'ideological fanatic,' a 'deceiver' and responsible for the mayhem following UConn’s March Madness win.

"No, we don't really get that last one either.

"Rush Limbaugh sputtered that Colbert’s promotion was 'an assault on the heartland of America,' prompting millions of heartlanders to scurry to their bomb shelters with multiple firearms, canned goods and bottled water. He also said it represented a "redefinition of comedy," a 'redefinition of what's funny.' This is true, Rush. Comedy has been redefined to mean something that makes actual people laugh.

"And, after numerous attempts to identify the full extent of the outrage, Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro finally landed on this metaphor: In making a career out of pitch-perfect conservative pundit mockery, Stephen Colbert was guilty of no less than the moral equivalent of 'vile political blackface.' Clever wordsmith Shapiro called this 'Conservativeface,' a neologism that seems destined to catch on.

"No word on whether Colbert is the Anti-Christ.Although a few years back a little outfit called Christfire implied as much, calling Colbert Stalinesque, Hitleresque and a bigger threat to America than Islamic terrorism.

"All right ye liberals! You’ve been warned! Laugh your way straight into Satan’s clutches.

"2. Advisor to Texas GOP gubernatorial hopeful: (OK, it’s Charles Murray): There’s no evidence women are significant thinkers.


"It’s pretty well known that American Enterprise Institute 'scholar' Charles Murray is a colossally dishonest thinker who shrouds claims of white intellectual superiority in pseudo-science. But he has proven himself offensive and wrongheaded on other topics as well. This week at a talk at University of Texas, he stood by his claim that women have not contributed much significant thought to the field of philosophy. But don’t feel too bad, gals, because Murray did allow that some of you are very good in literature.

"Murray’s enlightened views on women naturally include his oppositions to equal pay laws. He argues that such laws would hurt women by discouraging companies from hiring them, and anyway he doesn’t even believe in pay discrimination—it’s a myth invented by liberals. “Women prefer to stay home with their children,” he says. And they also choose lower-paying jobs.

"Who cares what Charles Murray says, you ask? Well, Texas GOP hopeful Gregg Abbott does. He takes some of his cues on education from Murray and specifically cited Murray’s work in his argument against universal pre-K. Of course, Abbott keeps some pretty questionable company in general. He’s also appeared with Ted Nugent, whose enlightened views on women and blacks are fairly well known.


"h/t: RawStory

"3. Virginia GOP candidate Bob Marshall: No incest exception for abortion because sometimes people want to have incest.

Boys, move away quickly before you volunteer!

"The good people of Virginia have themselves a real prize in Republican Bob Marshall, who is running to represent them in Congress. In fact, his views are so extreme on things like abortion and same-sex marriage that even his fellow Virginia Republicans can’t stand him. And that is saying something. He’s the one who introduced the bill requiring women who want abortions to have an ultrasound first, which helped make Virginia the butt of late-night jokes.

"Still, he does have a following among other crazy social conservatives who could carry him to a congressional seat, where he could continue to embarrass his state. Marshall is anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriage and anti-Planned Parenthood. He has some pretty bizarre religious ideas, too. Remarks of his that came to light this week include his opposition to abortions even in the case of incest, because, “How do you know it’s not voluntary? Sometimes it is.”

"He has also said that disabled children are punishment for women having abortions. Here is his very science-based assertion: 'The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion who have handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the firstborn of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,' he said.

"No clue as to what his source for this bizarre claim is. Voices in his head, perhaps.

"h/t: RawStory and: RightWingWatch

"4. Reince Priebus: There should be no caps on campaign donations at all!


"The chairman of the Republican National Party, Reince Priebus, echoed the words of his master Charles Koch this week when he came out for removing all caps on campaign donations. He also suggested that donors should not even have to be disclosed. Well, theoretically, he thinks disclosure might be okay, but....

"'I mean, you want to be for disclosure,' Preibus said. 'But when you start to see some of the cases out there where people are targeted, and businesses are targeted and picketed and threatened for political contributions, then now you’re suppressing free speech through disclosure. So I mean, even things that I want to agree with are getting to be very difficult.'

"So to summarize, money is speech and should therefore not be limited in any way (particularly when it is flowing into Republican coffers). But unlike actual speech, money should be spoken in secret and not be open to scrutiny or criticism.

"Because that hurts money’s feelings.

"5. Detroit columnist Nolan Finley: Woman candidate is 'milking the vagina business.'


"Detroit News’ editorial page editor and columnist Nolan Finley displayed his ability to keep it real classy this week. Notoriously anti-Democratic and pro-corporate, he has long been using his perch to rabidly oppose the candidacy of Democrats, most recently Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and his running mate, Lisa Brown. This week Finley wrote:
"[Brown’s] confrontational style will give the ticket the spunk the colorless Schauer lacks, but won’t broaden his appeal. Brown could help bring in campaign cash, however. She’s still milking the vagina business, and is a minor celebrity among feminists."
"Wait, there’s a vagina business that can be milked? How come we did not know that?

"What that curious term means to Finley is that Lisa Brown favors reproductive rights for women, which in his world (roughly the 1950s) makes her an extreme left-wing liberal.

"Milking the vagina business.

"What will the Republican woman haters club come up with next?

"6. Minnesota GOPer: I'm running for Congress because no child should be exposed to science.


"Aaron Miller loves to tell the story of how his daughter came home in tears from school on the day when she learned about evolution. That’s not what her daddy taught her. Determined that his daughter and other innocent children should never again be exposed to science that might be upsetting to them, Miller was galvanized to run for Congress. The government has obviously declared 'war on our values,' he thought. Well, he was just going to declare war right back at them.

"Miller has already gotten endorsements from other creationists in government, like Minnesota State Rep. Allen Quist, who has argued that it is only reasonable people and dinosaurs coexisted and that the Book of Job offers science lessons.

"He also joins a GOP field full of anti-science deep thinkers, like Paul Broun of Georgia who knows that evolution is a lie 'straight from the pit of hell.' In Texas, all four GOP candidates competing for the lieutenant governorship in Texas are pushing to teach creationism in public schools. Even more plentiful are the climate science deniers. They even get to head up congressional science committees.

"Because the GOP is determined that every child should grow up in blissful ignorance.

"h/t: ThinkProgress

"7. Florida Rep: Floridians can't vote on solar ballot measure.


"Solar energy is increasingly popular among Floridians, which is why a Republican representative is hellbent on keeping the issue out of the polls. As we all learned in high school civics class, democracy means not letting people vote on things you don’t want them to vote on. A Senate committee in the Sunshine State approved an amendment for the November ballot that would give tax breaks to businesses that install solar panels. But Ritch Workman is using his power as the chairman of the House Finance and Tax Committee to prevent that from happening. His lame excuse?

"'I just don’t see the need to continue to expand the incentives and underwriting of solar,' Workman said. 'Solar is coming a long way and eventually it’s going to be able to stand on its own two feet. But right now it doesn’t.'

"More likely, say proponents of the bill, Workman is under the sway of Florida’s electric utilities, which adamantly oppose rooftop solar energy because it will end their monopoly.

"Ah well, it’s not as if there’s some big hurry to convert to clean energy or anything. It’s not as if climate change and global warming are some big urgent problem that the whole country needs to immediately address in no uncertain terms in order to avert what is certain to be catastrophic climate events, the likes of which we are only just beginning to see. No, no, no.

"Anyway, we all know the sun is for frying your skin, not heating your home or running your appliances. Silly."

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With every week new hate-filled idiocies spew from the mouths of the Conservative leaders and their propagandists, and every week we wonder if the Cons can get any more despicable.

When the Cons own the media and can spend any amount of money to promote their rich benefactors, sometimes humor is the only weapon available to fight Conservative crime and criminals.

Check out an article by Joan Walsh at Alternet.org, "Why Stephen Colbert is Dangerous — and Invaluable,

Bill O’Reilly’s latest freak-out helps explain why the satirist is so important for the progressive movement."




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"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat
myself."

President Harry Truman.


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Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Right’s Climate Denialism Is Part of Something Much Larger


Get out your tinfoil hats, it's time for a peek at the Conservatives' denial of Climate Change with an article by David Roberts at Motherjones.com posted back in 2010, "The Right’s Climate Denialism Is Part of Something Much Larger."


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"If you read RL Miller's post on 'climate zombies' you know that open climate denialism is back in vogue in the GOP. However muted denialism may have gotten in the late 2000s, it has come roaring back—like everything reactionary—with the economic downturn. This is from Gallup:


"For the most part the American public's feelings on climate change are shallow, sloshing around with the economic and political tides. When people are feeling safer and more prosperous, climate scientists will magically become more persuasive.

"As for the professional skeptics and culture warriors, there's little point hashing out the same arguments with them again and again. I have long since abandoned it. Many people do it well and G*d bless them but I've had my fill of sunspots and medieval warming periods and Pacific Decadal Oscillations. Ideological trench warfare is wearisome and there are many other issues in dire need of attention, principally how we're going to respond to climate change. That's a conversation that engages people outside the armed camps.


"However! It does seem to me that the right's climate denialism hasn't been properly linked to the larger phenomenon of epistemic closure on the right. When Jim Manzi, everyone's favorite sensible conservative, criticized fellow conservative Mark Levin for peddling intellectually shoddy skeptic arguments in his bestselling book Liberty and Tyranny, Levin went nuts, joined by a half-dozen other NRO writers. How could they not? The very same skeptic talking points in Levin's book appear in thousands of blogs and comment sections across the interwebs. If they are intellectually bankrupt, a whole lot of people are going to look stupid.


"Regardless, to restrict discussion to climate science—how many scientists say what, who signed what statement, how many peer-reviewed papers say what—misses the forest for the trees. Climate denialism is part of something much broader and scarier on the right. The core idea is most clearly expressed by Rush Limbaugh:
"'We really live, folks, in two worlds. There are two worlds. We live in two universes. One universe is a lie. One universe is an entire lie. Everything run, dominated, and controlled by the left here and around the world is a lie. The other universe is where we are, and that's where reality reigns supreme and we deal with it. And seldom do these two universes ever overlap. ...' 
"'The Four Corners of Deceit: Government, academia, science, and media. Those institutions are now corrupt and exist by virtue of deceit. That's how they promulgate themselves; it is how they prosper.'
"The right's project over the last 30 years has been to dismantle the post-war liberal consensus by undermining trust in society's leading institutions. Experts are made elites; their presumption of expertise becomes self-damning. They think they're better than you. They talk down to you. They don't respect people like us, real Americans. Here's Americans' trust in institutions, also from Gallup data...:


"Of course the decline of trust in institutions is multi-causal, but the right's relentless assault has certainly exacerbated matters. Here's another graph to chill your blood, showing the only two institutions in which trust is rising:


"(I was tipped off to these graphs by Chris Hayes, who has written about America's institutional crisis and is working on a book on the subject, which I expect will be one of the big political books of 2011.)

"The decline in trust in institutions has generated fear and uncertainty, to which people generally respond by placing their trust in protective authorities. And some subset of people respond with tribalism, nationalism, and xenophobia. The right stokes and exploits modern anxiety relentlessly, but that's not all they do. They also offer a space to huddle in safety among the like-minded. The conservative movement in America has created a self-contained, hermetically sealed epistemological reality—a closed-loop system of cable news, talk radio, and email forwards—designed not just as a source of alternative facts but as an identity. That's why when you question climate skepticism you catch hell. You're messing with who people are.


"Consider what the Limbaugh/Morano crowd is saying about climate: not only that that the world's scientists and scientific institutions are systematically wrong, but that they are purposefully perpetrating a deception. Virtually all the world's governments, scientific academies, and media are either in on it or duped by it. The only ones who have pierced the veil and seen the truth are American movement conservatives, the ones who found death panels in the healthcare bill.

"It's a species of theater, repeated so often people have become inured, but if you take it seriously it's an extraordinary charge. For one thing, if it's true that the world's scientists are capable of deception and collusion on this scale, a lot more than climate change is in doubt. These same institutions have told us what we know about health and disease, species and ecosystems, energy and biochemistry. If they are corrupt, we have to consider whether anyof the knowledge they've generated is trustworthy. We could be operating our medical facilities, economies, and technologies on faulty theories. We might not know anything! Here we are hip-deep in postmodernism and it came from the right, not the left academics they hate.

"Scientific claims are now subject to ideological disputation. Rush Limbaugh is telling millions of people that they've taken the red pill and everything they once knew and could trust is a lie. They've woken up outside the Matrix and he is their corpulent, drug-addicted, thrice-divorced Morpheus. What could go wrong?"


(This story was produced by Grist as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.)


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Have we reached the Tipping Point because of the Conservatives' greed that denies human-caused Climate Change?  If so, they can count on being chased down in the streets in the not too distant future and hung from the nearest lamp posts.

When the Cons deny something as deliberate as genocide on a global level, it's criminal; when the lies finally lead to the complete death and extinction of the human race, chasing down the Conservative murderers before the first death happens would be a bit of a preclimax, but a most satisfying political action for the rest of us.



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"You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion.
No one is entitled to be ignorant."

Harlan Ellison.


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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Republicans Are Crazy, But That's Pretty Normal


Our series on the Conservative "brain" continues with a short article by Kevin Drum at Motherjones.com on the do or die 2012 election, "Republicans Are Crazy, But That's Pretty Normal," a title that speaks for itself.


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DonkeyHotey/Flickr
"Ten years ago John Judis and Ruy Teixeira wrote The Emerging Democratic Majority, which argued that a variety of demographic trends spelled doom for the Republican Party. Unfortunately for Judis and Teixeira, Republicans ignored their demographic doom and won a convincing victory in 2004. But hey, that was due to 9/11 and Iraq and the war on terror, and who could have predicted that? Then Democrats chalked up big wins in 2006 and 2008 (whew!), but in 2010 Republicans came roaring back. But hey, that was because of an epic recession, and who could have predicted that? Any day now, those demographics are going to kick in and Republicans will be doomed once and for all. Honest.

"I am, obviously, being a smart-ass about this. In fact, as Jon Chait writes today in '2012 or Never,' the demographic trends that Judis and Teixeira wrote about really are continuing apace. Smart Republicans are well aware of this, and they're especially well aware that one of the biggest demographic trends working against them is the growth of the Latino population. So a few years ago, as a way of peeling off some Latino votes from the Democrats, they took a stab at passing a moderate immigration bill. Unfortunately, their base went into a full-bore revolt and began demanding a harsher anti-immigrant policy instead of a more moderate one. As Jon says, this was about like publicly announcing an electoral suicide pact on national TV.


"And it gets worse. At the same time that Republicans are deliberately adopting policies that spell long-term disaster, they've also adopted an uncompromising all-or-nothing political strategy that appeals to their existing base but has cost them dearly in the form of short-term Democratic victories. A more moderate party could have stopped or watered down health care reform, but instead they got Obamacare. A more moderate party could have struck a historic spending deal with Obama, but instead they got nothing. And like lemmings going over a cliff, virtually all of them voted for Paul Ryan's budget roadmap, which was extremely unpopular with most voters. What's going on?
"The way to make sense of that foolhardiness is that the party has decided to bet everything on its one 'last chance.'…Grim though the long-term demography may be, it became apparent to Republicans almost immediately after Obama took office that political fate had handed them an impossibly lucky opportunity. Democrats had come to power almost concurrently with the deepest economic crisis in 80 years, and Republicans quickly seized the tactical advantage, in an effort to leverage the crisis to rewrite their own political fortunes. 
"…During the last midterm elections, the strategy succeeded brilliantly…In the long run, though, the GOP has done nothing at all to rehabilitate its deep unpopularity with the public as a whole, and has only further poisoned its standing with Hispanics. But by forswearing compromise, it opened the door to a single shot. The Republicans have gained the House and stand poised to win control of the Senate. If they can claw out a presidential win and hold on to Congress, they will have a glorious two-year window to restore the America they knew and loved, to lock in transformational change, or at least to wrench the status quo so far rightward that it will take Democrats a generation to wrench it back. The cost of any foregone legislative compromises on health care or the deficit would be trivial compared to the enormous gains available to a party in control of all three federal branches.
"Jon doesn't actually offer any evidence that this is what's motivating Republicans, and likewise, I can't really marshal much evidence that he's wrong. But I have a hard time buying this. If I'm reading him correctly, he's saying that Republicans know they're doomed, and they're deliberately adopting a catastrophic long-term strategy in the hopes that one last hurrah will be enough to keep America conservative even if they do lose every election for the next 20 years.


"But this simply doesn't pass the human-nature test. I can't peer into the souls of Republicans, but I don't get any sense that they believe themselves to be doomed. People just don't think that way. Rather, I get the sense that they're true believers who think that, deep in its heart, America agrees with them.

"This also doesn't pass the common sense test. Even if Republicans do win control of all three branches, they aren't going to win 60 seats in the Senate. They aren't even going to come close. So if they try to roll back the New Deal, or whatever their plan is, Democrats will filibuster it. Republicans have already shown them how, after all. The GOP will certainly be able to move the dial a bit if they win in November, but there's no way anyone in the party thinks they can 'lock in transformational change' over a two-year period with 52 votes in the Senate.

"Basically, I just don't think there's a huge mystery to be solved here. When Democrats lost to Reagan, they nominated first Walter Mondale and then Michael Dukakis before finally tacking to the center and putting Bill Clinton in the White House. That was a 12-year stretch. Britain's Labour Party spent a decade moving left before they finally tacked back to the center after losing to Margaret Thatcher. It took them 18 years to finally regain power. Republicans have only been in the wilderness for either four or six years, depending on how you count. If it takes until 2016 for them to come to their senses, that would be a pretty normal progression.


"Republicans don't think they have one last chance before the fat lady sings them off the stage. They're just reacting emotionally to a big defeat by convincing themselves that they were rejected because they hadn't been true enough to their principles. That happens all the time. They'll come around eventually."


KEVIN DRUM
 Political Blogger

(Kevin Drum is a political blogger for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here. RSS |)

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Are Conservatives really "true believers who think that, deep in its heart, America agrees with them?" With all respect to Mr. Drum we believe that the Sheeplets and the Tea Bagger office holders like Gohmert, Palin, and Stockman do believe that nonsense, but keep in mind that these True Believers are the inmates who took over the Congressional asylum.

The Conservative consultants and propagandists can read the pollsters' tea leaves and know better, and the Sheeplet and Bagger troops may feel that their candidates were "rejected because they hadn't been true enough to their principles," but the truth is that the demographics are doing the Conservative leadership in -- even with the gerrymandering that has allowed the GOP to be the victim of a hostile Tea Bagger takeover without a shot being fired.

And thank God for the power of the veto: the 2012 midterm election may prove to be a disaster for the Democrats but 2016 will be a different story.



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"Stupidity is an elemental force for which no earthquake is a match."

Karl Kraus. (Austrian writer and journalist, known as a satirist, essayist, aphorist,
playwright, and poet. 1874 – 1936.)

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