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The Ugly Place Islam And Catholicism Meet
There's a term in Islam, taqiyya -- "calculated deception" -- that means it's okay to lie for the good of the faith. Here's a bit on it, from Abdullah Al Araby, in Islam Review (sponsored by Pen Vs. The Sword, an organization to defend the human rights of Christians living under Islamic regimes in the Middle East):

Unfortunately, when dealing with Muslims, one must keep in mind that Muslims can communicate something with apparent sincerity, when in reality they may have just the opposite agenda in their hearts. Bluntly stated, Islam permits Muslims to lie anytime that they perceive that their own well-being, or that of Islam, is threatened.

In the sphere of international politics, the question is: Can Muslim countries be trusted to keep their end of the agreements that they sign with non-Muslim nations? It is a known Islamic practice, that when Muslims are weak they can agree with most anything. Once they become strong, then they negate what they formerly vowed.

The principle of sanctioning lying for the cause of Islam bears grave implications in matters relating to the spread of the religion of Islam in the West. Muslim activists employ deceptive tactics in their attempts to polish Islam's image and make it more attractive to prospective converts. They carefully try to avoid, obscure, and omit mentioning any of the negative Islamic texts and teachings.

An example of Islamic deception is that Muslim activists always quote the passages of the Quran from the early part of Mohammed's ministry while living in Mecca. These texts are peaceful and exemplify tolerance towards those that are not followers of Islam. All the while, they are fully aware that most of these passages were abrogated (cancelled and replaced) by passages that came after he migrated to Medina. The replacement verses reflect prejudice, intolerance, and endorse violence upon unbelievers

In conclusion, it is imperative to understand, that Muslim leaders can use this loop-hole in their religion, to absolve them from any permanent commitment. It is also important to know that what Muslim activists say to spread Islam may not always be the whole truth. When dealing with Muslims, what they say is not the issue. The real issue is, what they actually mean in their hearts.

Is Catholicism so superior? Well, ask sex abuse victims who were protected by an elderly nun, who, in an LA Times story by John Spano, said she "could remember almost nothing" about a kid who'd been sexually molested by a Roman Catholic priest:

Lawyer Irwin Zalkin was puzzled because church records showed she had heard several complaints about the San Diego priest, and the file noted that she had reported them to higher authority.

Finally, Zalkin asked whether she was familiar with "mental reservation" — a 700-year-old doctrine by which clerics may avoid telling the truth to protect the Catholic Church.

"She explained in her own way that it is 'to protect the church from scandal.' She said she subscribed to the doctrine," Zalkin said. "What are you going to do?"

Mental reservation is not sanctioned in canon law, experts say, and is infrequently invoked. But in litigation arising from clergy sex abuse cases in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, at least half a dozen lawyers representing victims report having encountered it.

The idea goes back to times when there were two separate court systems: ecclesiastical, or church courts, and civil courts run by the state. Today, all disputes are settled in civil courts.

The doctrine has been used in modern times to "claim that it is morally justifiable to lie in order to protect the reputation of the institutional church," said Thomas P. Doyle, a Virginia priest who is an expert in canon law and has been widely consulted by lawyers for people who say they were victims of abuse.

It has been misused "to justify lying," Doyle said last week. The doctrine is "not accepted church teaching" but has been widely discussed by scholars and moral theologians, Doyle said.

Yeah, well, it sounds like it's been working rather well for the church, and not so well for the church's victims.

The story continues:

Doyle has noted that the oath newly minted cardinals take before the pope includes the vow that they will never tell secrets "the revelation of which could cause damage or dishonor to the Holy Church."

...Perhaps the single largest landowner on the planet. Hint: When somebody says, "It's not the money, it's the principle," it's usually the money. It's business baby...down to the last slimy lie.

Posted by aalkon at March 27, 2007 1:40 PM

Comments

What do you expect from ANY religion? Since they ALL lie about the existence of their invisible deity, lying about anything else can be expected on a regular basis. According to the bi-bull, abusing children is hardly condemned. Psalm 137:9: "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." Don't like King James English? How about the GWT version: "Blessed is the one who grabs your little children and smashes them against a rock." Damn! The priest is doing your kid a favor by just molesting him!

Posted by: Bill Henry at March 27, 2007 2:43 AM

Interesting contrast with science, where lying is completely unacceptable. You can expect other people to check what you say, and being caught out is the end of your career.

Posted by: norman at March 27, 2007 3:57 AM

Amy - The Muslim faithful (i.e. all of them) can lie to defend the faith. It appears only the catholic power hierarchy is allowed to lie for the institution. So the Catholic church is more like Enron.

norman - The contrast is interesting until the precise moment you realize that scientists will lie to protect their funding. And when they are caught in it, the entire scientific establishment will rush to their defense in an attempt to alter reality lest their funding be reviewed.

Posted by: brian at March 27, 2007 4:15 AM

Every culture makes room for self defense. One has to ask what is reasonable. Radicals claim Islam is under attack everywhere, so all non-muslims must be killed. This strikes me as unreasonable, but who ya gonna call.

Posted by: doombuggy at March 27, 2007 4:29 AM

I know researchers who've lost their funding, and their response is to seek new funding. So, the notion that this is common among "scientists" -- I don't think you can support that. Furthermore, when lying is discovered, it's a real problem -- as science is a search for truth. Not so in the church -- in which the whole business is set up on a big lie -- pretending that there's reason to believe in the Imaginary Friend. In this environment, lying just business as usual. Bu$iness.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 27, 2007 4:32 AM

Brian-
Some scientists do lie. You can look them up and see what happened to them, because it gets widely published. Presumably at any time, there are some lying scientists who have not been found out yet. The point is that the mechanism of science will find them out sooner or later. Science values honesty above all else, and error detection - whether the errors are deliberate or not - is built in.


Did you really mean to say that scientists will attempt to alter reality?

Posted by: Norman at March 27, 2007 4:46 AM

So when are we going to learn about about the great global warming swindle? How come you can't get government funding unless you indicate you are out to prove how humans are a blight on the earth.

How many climate scientists do you think get funding if they indicate they can show that humans are having NO effect on the climate.

Posted by: Jon at March 27, 2007 5:16 AM

Ah, Jon, I look up to you. You're what, a tax accountant, a real estate broker, an ad dude? And you understand the complex science of climatology. Hat's off to you!

Now, I've posted various views on the topic, but to say humans are having zero effect on the climate...does your work in real estate, meat packing, or accounting tell you that?

Futhermore, what science is is truth-seeking. It's corrective when it's wrong. Read up on falsifiable vs. non-falsifiable...I mean, when you aren't showing property or something in between poring over climatology data.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 27, 2007 5:36 AM

Radicals claim Islam is under attack everywhere, so all non-muslims must be killed. This strikes me as unreasonable, but who ya gonna call.

Well, not Daniel Pearl or Theo Van Gogh, thanks to a bunch of Islam-fueled barbarians.

I attack Judaism and Christianity often for their absurd perpetuation in the belief, without evidence, in god, and all their ensuing primitive superstitions. Many Christians will be insulted if you make a joke against Jesus -- even one that's terribly rude -- but they won't go burning down embassies or murdering Dutch film directors or anything.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 27, 2007 5:40 AM

Jon-I've never understood where they find the time to lie about global warming when they're so busy lieing about evolution and the earth going around the sun.

Posted by: Machida at March 27, 2007 5:41 AM

There's an absolutely cracking recent novel about lying and science - Allegra Goodman's "Intuition" (2006).

It's as readable as a Grisham - sort of novel not to take into a bath unless you want to come out wrinkled - but about possibly fudged tumor virus results in a lab, government funding and publicity.

Among the many points it raises is that in science - pace religion - honorable intentions never, ever excuse a falsehood.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 27, 2007 5:41 AM

Do you have any facts, or just angry questions?

Posted by: Norman at March 27, 2007 5:45 AM

Grisham is readable?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 27, 2007 5:47 AM

Oh, grow UP!

Listen to you GUYS: "The church is full of LIARS! They tell things that aren't TRUE! These things are FALSEHOODS! Do you know why they do this? For POWER! And for MONEY!"

It's just so juvenile. And naive. It's the absolute absence of sophistication, being surprised that perceptions will be molded in pursuit of interests. And here you are all grown up and voting, but pretending to be hairless, wide-eyed urchins in flowy white robes, shitting sincerity and pissing good faith.

Here's a great article:

http://tinyurl.com/9qucu

My favorite passage is the flyby of pop psychology in the early going: Children are capable of irony, but they aren't capable of sarcasm. (Maybe this is why teenager are so smartass: They're trying to prove that they're old enough to GET it.)

But you aren't even being ironic. You're being willfully simplistic and ignorant, and nothing is less becoming to the rational mind.

Paging Mr Hrisskopoulos.... Wet cleanup on aisle 4... Paul?... Aisle four.

Posted by: Crid at March 27, 2007 6:08 AM

I don't know why GUYS got capitalized, it's a CapsLock kinda morning in California.

Also, Grisham is readable, he's just not enjoyable. For some vacations, that's good enough

Posted by: Crid at March 27, 2007 6:10 AM

The San Diego diocese is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, because of all the court settlements from the abuse scandals. It will be a way for the diocese to avoid paying future settlements.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20070227-1736-bn27diocese.html

Posted by: Joe at March 27, 2007 6:37 AM

The day the church runs out of money is the day I run out of cheap vulgarities.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 27, 2007 6:47 AM

Allegra Goodman's book is a good read, yes, and by spending time on research she got the atmosphere of a biological research lab very right. But as a writer, she never got "inside the head" of the principal character and thus we readers never actually found out if the accusation of fraud was in fact true or not. I found that terribly disappointing.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at March 27, 2007 6:50 AM

"Grisham is readable?"

Posted by: Amy Alkon

Thunk!!!..a palpable hit!

Fair question. Still - he has tossed off some of the great potboiler opening scenes, in my humble etc

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 27, 2007 6:52 AM

"...thus we readers never actually found out if the accusation of fraud was in fact true or not. I found that terribly disappointing."

Stu,
I'm SO glad you wrote that!

I totally agree - but I scolded myself for feeling short changed by the novel's conclusion, on the grounds that I was being dim and simplistic.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 27, 2007 7:01 AM

It is more about legal manipulation of the bankruptcy laws than running out of money. I believe each lawsuit is handled only through the individual diocese. If one does run out of money... it will be highly unlikely that the other dioceses or the Vatican to pitch in to help. This has been the main strategy of the Vatican to keep the priest abuse scandal local and away from the Holy See.

Well, US Federal Court Judge John G. Heyburn II green lit a civil lawsuit by 3 victims claiming the Vatican was negligent and failed to inform local authorities of the abuse. It will open the flood gates of future lawsuits aimed at the Vatican City.

Posted by: Joe at March 27, 2007 7:26 AM

I have learned that those who are religious follow a completely different code of conduct. The one commonality would be that it is entirely self centered, as they believe themselves superior to everyone else, especially those who are non-religious, or of a different religion. Because they are already living in a fantasy world, they can justify pretty much any kind of behaviour with their remarkably fluid imagination.

Bottom line is, be extremely careful around them, as they are capable of doing things the ethical will not allow themselves to do.

Posted by: Chris at March 27, 2007 8:19 AM

I've spent a lot of time doing research, and find this to be one of the most staggeringly ill-informed statements about science I've read recently:

norman - The contrast is interesting until the precise moment you realize that scientists will lie to protect their funding. And when they are caught in it, the entire scientific establishment will rush to their defense in an attempt to alter reality lest their funding be reviewed.

Here's why this is stupid: To get funding you have to have done good, published, peer-reviewed work. To get your funding renewed, you have to do the same. Your peers are competing for the same grants that you are - they have an anti-incentive to lie for you. Further, to get published you have to tell people what you did; if others try to do the same thing, and repeatedly fail, you and your work are discredited.

As far as the climate change stuff goes, the broad scientific consensus is that humans contribute to global warming primarily through carbon emissions. A few scientists don't believe that this is the case. Fine. Do the research, and may the best model win. The current consensus may be wrong - hell, it used to be the consensus that stuff burned because it contained a substance call phlogiston that was released by burning (never mind the circularity) - but if the consensus is wrong, we'll find out in time. However, given what lots of research shows, it makes sense to me to urge a little caution when it comes to burning carbon-containing fuels until we have a better sense of things. It's not like we can't start burning oil like crazy in the future if the global warming people are proven to be the communist America- and progress-hating luddites that some fools think they are. Sheesh.

End of rant.

Posted by: justin case at March 27, 2007 8:50 AM

Agreed Justin.

Brian needs to read up on the definition of scientific misconduct:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_misconduct

What particular cases does the entire scientific community rush to defend the misconduct?

Posted by: Joe at March 27, 2007 9:24 AM

> The current consensus may be wrong
> - hell, it used to be the consensus that
> stuff burned because it contained a
> substance call phlogiston that was
> released by burning (never mind the
> circularity) - but if the consensus
> is wrong, we'll find out in time.

That's three consensuses (consensci?) in one sentence. Which is a lot.

Why is everyone fond of consensus? Just because things are complicated, it doesn't mean we should trust people who claim to know better than we do. How exactly does this "consensus" --be it religious or scientific-- mean to influence the conduct of my life?

> urge a little caution when it
> comes to burning carbon-containing
> fuels

OK. Caution is urged... Got it. We'll be in touch if we need anything else.

Or were you considering something a little more aggressive in terms of acknowledging the consensus? So many bright young people seem to be looking for a scuffle over this... e.g.:

> It's not like we can't start burning
> oil like crazy in the future

People want the blessing of a oil economy NOW. For example, there are 1.3 billion Chinese who are tired of rice and rickshaws.

Just saying. "Consensus" is becoming my least favorite word to hear from people discussing this topic. It's like hearing a woman under age thirty use the word "appropriate."

Posted by: Crid at March 27, 2007 10:16 AM

Amy, what if you found out that the central tenet of human caused global warming was demostrably false? I.E. that greenhouse gases tracked tempatures instead of the other way around.

Why do you think our recent (10 years or 100 years - whatever) climate activity is abnormal? And what do you think the "correct" tempature should be?

Posted by: Jon at March 27, 2007 11:08 AM

I also didn't say humans had zero effect on climate. I was postulating that a researcher would not get past the first round if that is what he stated that he was set out to prove. So government funded "science" is completely skewed in favor the the GW hysteria.

Personally I hope we can affect climate because the past millions of years has been an almost uninterrupted ice age - punctuated by 10K year slices of warmer temps. And what is wrong with warmer temps? Aren't people moving to Florida, and Vegas? Who is moving to northern Canada?

Posted by: Jon at March 27, 2007 11:17 AM

One argument you hear is that even if the science is not yet certain, it would be sensible to be prudent, which means, for example, not burning so much fossil fuel. I think this is arguing from ignorance. If we don't know something, then we also don't know what it means to be prudent. Perhaps prudence is to carry on as we have been doing. Perhaps we really should burn even more as our emissions are the only thing that can save us. If we are in a position of ignorance, then no-one can argue either way. Now don't start quoting bits of this out context: I am not saying we should be burning our hardwood furniture - I'm saying we should not argue from ignorance and dress it up as "prudence."

Posted by: Norman at March 27, 2007 11:54 AM

Well, I'm not a climatologist, but there is some evidence leading in the direction that global warming will increase the frequency of various tropical diseases carried by insects.

Posted by: Joe at March 27, 2007 12:09 PM

Norman-The appropriate decision making model under conditions of ignorance is to examine the consequences of error. From the standpoint of human induced climate change, a false positive has minimal consequences, a false negative has catastrophic consequences, including the possibility of eliminating life from the planet.

Posted by: Machida at March 27, 2007 12:48 PM

Psalm 137:9: "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." Don't like King James English? How about the GWT version: "Blessed is the one who grabs your little children and smashes them against a rock."


Well at goddam last! Something in the Bible I can agree with. I hate kids.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at March 27, 2007 12:57 PM

Joe, the worse malaria outbreak was in Siberia. Mosquitos are fine in cold temp's. Another lie from the Gore-acle.

Our enviro-hypocrites pat themselves on the back for outlawing DDT, but ignore the 10's of thousands of deaths on their heads from malaria in the third world. I think there is only one plant in the world producing DDT in India and they are constantly under pressure to stop.

Completly agree Norman. An arbitrary assertion is the arbitrary, however you spin it.

Posted by: Jon at March 27, 2007 1:06 PM

Just had to say, I went to law school w/ Judge John G. Heyburn. Good for him!

Posted by: moe99 at March 27, 2007 1:08 PM

Says who? Here's a consequence: The recently accelerating vector of civilization towards liberty, decency, safety, longevity and comfort could be permanently derailed into a centralized, authoritarian project of wretchedness and dashed aspiration. There are plenty of people who are ready to institute this a model for our planet for other reasons.

> a false negative has catastrophic
> consequences

We're closing in on it here... Greenies already presume that we're in control of the weather, as if the globe would have been endlessly hospitable had no one bought a Hummer (though history near and ancient tells us otherwise). Why would they do that, you ask?...

> including the possibility of eliminating
> life from the planet.

...Bingo! I've never heard anyone, anyone, seriously speculate that such a thing is possible; no matter what happens, some form of life will infect this rock for a very, very long time. This crystallizes the amphibian part of human nature at work in this madness. The scenario is fantastic in the deepest sense of the word. It's much more about fulfillment of a need for loving family than it is a critique of the way we truly deal with problems at our best, ie, competitive, democratic capitalism.

We're here because of a confluence of improbable circumstances in the natural realm. One day nature will scratch her back, and all will be lost. Try not to take it personally, OK? And meanwhile, keep your hands to yourself.

Posted by: Crid at March 27, 2007 1:13 PM

Whoops, the Says Who was for Machida saying there would be "minimal consequences"

Posted by: Crid at March 27, 2007 1:14 PM

Norman-The appropriate decision making model under conditions of ignorance is to examine the consequences of error. From the standpoint of human induced climate change, a false positive has minimal consequences, a false negative has catastrophic consequences, including the possibility of eliminating life from the planet.

The decision making model here is a good one, but I think this is overstating the case in both directions - as Crid pointed out, oil is pretty much essential to economic growth right now, and I doubt we're heading toward eliminating life from the planet; it's survived previous climate extremes. Cost of a false positive is not trivial: more of the world stays in poverty for longer (among other things). Cost of a false negative, though, seems more severe: significant sea level changes alone would cause huge economic and population-displacement problems, lots of models predict droughts and food shortages, etc.

Personally I hope we can affect climate because the past millions of years has been an almost uninterrupted ice age - punctuated by 10K year slices of warmer temps. And what is wrong with warmer temps? Aren't people moving to Florida, and Vegas? Who is moving to northern Canada?

This is just stupid. We're mucking about with a system that appears be a rare period of balance.

"Consensus" is becoming my least favorite word

How about agreement?

OK. Caution is urged... Got it. We'll be in touch if we need anything else.

Or were you considering something a little more aggressive in terms of acknowledging the consensus?

I'll disregard the 'tude here and answer-

I'd like to see more incentives for the development of non-fossil fuel power sources (solar, and nuclear, particularly) for electricity production, and for increasingly efficient and clean burning motor vehicles.

Posted by: justin case at March 27, 2007 1:26 PM

I was postulating that a researcher would not get past the first round if that is what he stated that he was set out to prove.

Have you ever written a grant for research funding? Cause it's damn certain if you told them you were trying to "prove" anything, you wouldn't get past the first round.

The usual way you do it is to outline a fair test of what a few different models predict, and how your tests can distinguish between these predictions. The "humans aren't doing anything" model could very easily be one of these models, and nobody has to know that in your heart of hearts, you believe it's the correct one.

If you're just a hack scientist seeking to "prove" that men have nothing to do with global warming, CEI has a job for you, though.

Posted by: justin case at March 27, 2007 1:35 PM

Justin-Your response is thoughtful and well worth considering, however,for the record I said minimal, not trivial. \

The deaths of millions is an opportunity cost statistic; not trivial but a minimal event compared to the elimination of life from the planet.

Crid-says my Management 401 course.

Posted by: Machida at March 27, 2007 1:42 PM

> We're mucking about
> with a system

No we're not. We're defying nature to keep warm in the winter and eat good enough food to live for 80 years instead 25.

> agreement?

What if you don't have enough? Who has to agree, and who can be ignored?

> acknowledging the consensus?

Exactly. This is like the Soshes versus the Stoners at my high school. Time to go with the flow, fella... Or else! Now cut your hair, and be sure to wear the large collar of your shirt OUTSIDE the collar of your black demin jacket. Otherwise the kids in the cafeteria are going to be really mean to you.

> I'll disregard the 'tude

Never, ever do that.

> I'd like to see more incentives
> for the development

So go ahead and offer some. It's a free country, and your portfolio is your own beeswax.

It's amazing how people think that whole freedom and liberty thing has been licked, so now we're free to move on to other projects.

Posted by: Crid at March 27, 2007 1:44 PM

> Management 401 course.

Christ, this IS about high school!

Well, Junior College... Same thing.

Posted by: Crid at March 27, 2007 1:51 PM

Crid-I have previously advised you of my ad hominem policy.

Posted by: Machida at March 27, 2007 1:54 PM

Norman-The appropriate decision making model under conditions of ignorance is to examine the consequences of error.


Machida - That sounds sensible. I did just that when I had to decide my children's schooling. I chose on the basis that I would make the wrong choice and have to put it right, ie I chose whatever was easiest to fix later. But that was not a position of ignorance. I knew it would be easier, for example, to move my child from school A to school B than vice-versa.


But if we must choose either bleen or grue, and we'll all die if we get it wrong, how will you exercise your decision making model?


Actually, what you will do is delay making any decision, perhaps in the hope of getting some information to base a rational decision on.

Posted by: Norman at March 27, 2007 1:58 PM

Norman

There is no delay in decision making. I have decided to accept human caused climate change (and also the phenomenon of peak oil) as existent, and base my actions accordingly. If I am wrong, the planet can live with the consequences of my error.

Posted by: Machida at March 27, 2007 2:04 PM

the elimination of life from the planet


Life won't be eliminated from this planet for about another 5 thousand million years, ie not until the Sun goes nova. I don't even think humans would be eliminated by a climate catastrophe. We've spread to every part of the planet, climate notwithstanding. I don't think any other multicellular animal or plant (except our fleas, lice etc) has done that - ever.

Posted by: Norman at March 27, 2007 2:05 PM

Norman-I don't even think humans would be eliminated by a climate catastrophe.

I hope you are not in error.

Posted by: Machida at March 27, 2007 2:08 PM

Machida-


I don't think you have made your decision from a position of ignorance, but what you have taken into account, I cannot say.

Posted by: Norman at March 27, 2007 2:11 PM

Machida-
I hope you are not in error.


Why do you so hope? The implication of my being correct is that small starving bands of humans will somehow survive global desertification or a global ice age (if we only knew which it will be!). They won't preserve the glories of our civilisation and culture beyond one generation. They will descend to barbarity and ignorance, and myths of a golden age will pervert their development for ages. Those who survive will evolve into something non-human. Whether they will retain intelligence, I have no idea - brains are expensive to run. Life will be hard. Natural resources will be largely depleted by those who went before - ie us.

Posted by: Norman at March 27, 2007 2:24 PM

-the sort of environment I imagine crid would thrive in :-)

Posted by: Norman at March 27, 2007 2:26 PM

Norman-Your original assertion equated lack of certainty with ignorance. I was responding to that.

I have what I consider valid scientific information, but it is not certain information. Science is never certain.

The details of how much information I have are really not necessary using the model. If I was certain, I would not use this model.

Posted by: Machida at March 27, 2007 2:26 PM

Justin - why is is stupid to postulate a warming trend would actually benefit humanity?

Sea levels have risen over 200 meters in the past couple thousand years. Why does another 100 feet matter? People move all the time. In fact, agriculture has been moving north for hundreds of years to keep in sync with desired temps. Think of the potential breadbasket you could grow in Canada or Siberia if it were warmer.

The issue is that environmentalists think they know the answer and want to shackle industry (or really that is the leadership's real goal). You are so glib to throw around demands for incentives for what *you* want, and Crid is right to mock you.
If there really is a problem, economic freedom will be necessary to adapt, not economic controls.

Russia and China aren't the worst polluters by accident.

Posted by: Jon at March 27, 2007 2:32 PM

Norman, compare what you described to your being wrong. If you are right, these wretches may be the basis for the eventual formation of a new and wiser civilization. If you are wrong, we may not have even this as a new start.

I have to sign off; I've a meeting to attend.

Posted by: Machida at March 27, 2007 2:36 PM

Jon,

I'm well aware of the worse case of malaria was in Siberia during the 1920s. 16 million infected and around 600,000 reported deaths.

Also, there are other insect borne diseases besides malaria. Let's see what are the other insect borne diseases:

Barmah Forest virus, Bubonic plague, Dengue fever, Typhus (endemic/epidemic, Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis, Leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, Murray Valley encephalitis virus, Rift Valley fever, Ross River virus, African trypanosomiasis, West Nile virus, Wuchereria bancrofti and Yellow fever.

Now some are treatable and others are quite lethal. Especially towards the elderly, young children and people with auto immune deficiencies. Warmer climates and shorter winters will cause an increase of the reproductive cycles of various carrier insects.

Also, I fully understand that it is a little more complex than ONE single purpose behind the spread of insect borne diseases. You can add the interplay of climate, ecology, insect biology, and many other factors defies simplistic analysis.

By the way, I feel that Al Gore does more harm than good on the Global Warming debate. There is a middle ground seen through voluntary lifestyle choices, SUV-highway construction related taxes, gas taxes, emission standards and R/D.

For future references, I am not a part of the doom and gloom crowd. One of my professors was the late Julian Simon, aka The Doomslayer.

Posted by: Joe at March 27, 2007 2:40 PM

Jon,
From what I know (and climate science ain't my area of expertise) - so take this for whatever you feel its worth - that serious changes in our climate, warmer or cooler, are very problematic because they affect sea currents, global wind patterns, and other things that appear to be primary reasons why the planet has had very moderate temperatures since the last ice age. I think we mess with these things and increase the risk of more serious things than people losing their Florida condos and having to move to Georgia.

As to your other comments:

I just don't think I'm being glib. I think that science is one important tool to guide policy. My suggestions above are pretty modest in terms of the tools governments have; nobody's being coerced. Mortgage interest deductions are an incentive for people to own homes. Are they a bad thing?

Perhaps this wasn't clear in what I wrote, but I'm not coming at this from a hard-core environmentalist perspective. I'm a pragmatist, and think that steps can be taken to minimize risks without making huge and sweeping changes to how things work. I think capitalism has been the biggest force for improving the lot of humanity the world has seen.

But for it to work efficiently, there has to be good information about the real costs of goods. When somebody makes a good product at a low cost, that's a good thing - but if that low cost comes from them dumping untreated wastes into rivers, there is a hidden cost the system isn't considering, and things are out of balance. The price paid for that product does not reflect its true cost. I'd say that's the case with the oil economy right now - 60 something dollars a barrel is probably not taking into account a bunch of hidden environmental costs that may be hugely expensive later. Plus, we know without a doubt that all the oil will be gone one day. Why not get a head start on fixing those problems?

It's amazing how people think that whole freedom and liberty thing has been licked, so now we're free to move on to other projects.

Who thinks that?

Posted by: justin case at March 27, 2007 3:13 PM

Machida - you are the one arguing from an untenable position. Science is not about "consensus". When you report consensus, it's because you don't have any truth. There's no "consensus" about Newton's laws of motion. They simply are.

The same people telling us that we are going to drown were saying in 1975 that we were causing the next ice age.

The same people telling us that we are melting the planet with our pollution were telling us in 1978 that everyone in India was going to starve, and Britain wouldn't live to see the year 2000.

And each and every one of them offers the same solution to every problem: the dissolution of western industrial capitalism, and its replacement with centrally-managed agrarian socialism.

As Amy would be keen to point out - follow the money.

Oh, and as to people being denied research grants and access due to their non-belief in the primacy of anthropogenic global warming? They've been getting death threats, threats of professional decertification (google Heidi Cullen AMS), denied tenure. We've also had demands for an environmental Nuremburg trial for so-called "global warming deniers".

When you must resort to tactics such as this to defend your "science", then your science isn't so sound. When you design computer model after computer model, and none of them track with observed results, this neither disproves your theory, nor makes you reconsider your ability to model so large a system.

And yes, I've got degrees in engineering and math. I'm not a climate scientist, but I know enough about dynamical systems to know that not only to they tend to not wander out of bounds, but there is no way to measure the present state of a system with sufficient accuracy as to make long-term predictions meaningful.

So you go on believing that the sky is falling. Go on believing in Peak Oil too. But Econ 101 will take care of the problem far better than applied misery.

Posted by: brian at March 27, 2007 5:51 PM

Science is not about "consensus". When you report consensus, it's because you don't have any truth. There's no "consensus" about Newton's laws of motion. They simply are.

This couldn't be more wrong. Read any decent philosophy of science text, history of science text, whatever. Science is an amazing tool for answering questions. But even the best theories are always wrong in some sense. Always. Science lets us make (very) educated guesses about what is. But it doesn't tell us what is.

Posted by: justin case at March 27, 2007 7:11 PM

Brian

You have completely misrepresented what I said.

I mentioned no consensus, I stated I had made a decision about how to take actions. Science is about decision making from available data; waiting for your world of perfect knowledge is not an option. To use your example, Newton's laws were just that until Einstein; we know differently now.

I think I have made my point clear, and will not respond to any additional statements.

Posted by: Machida at March 27, 2007 7:19 PM

There's no "consensus" about Newton's laws of motion. They simply are.

Here are a few of things that aren't sufficiently explained by Newton's Laws.

1) Gravitational Lensing
2) The movement of super-large objects.
3) The movement of subatomic particles.

If Newton's laws "simply" were, there would be no need for the General Theory of Relativity or a little corrective known as the cosmological constant. Come to think of it, we wouldn't need the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle either.

Science, as Machida pointed out, is very much about consensus. It is a pursuit of truth through a method based in a material metaphysic. I would like to further refine what Machida stated. Rather than science being about "decision making from available data," it is more about "model creation/testing based on available data." It is a subtle difference, to be sure, but a significant one.

There is a great deal of philosophy of science literature which goes to great lengths to discuss the reasons behind the methodology and the consequences of such a process.

Posted by: Christian Johnson at March 27, 2007 7:35 PM

Way to go Machida and Christian! Shorter Machida: "I've made my irrational decisions, and no fact will sway me from my course, or my disdain for those who are not as brilliant as I."

Christian - that's one hell of an extrapolation. Nowhere did I even imply that Newton's laws were the sum of all knowledge, nor did I state or imply that they are sufficient to describe all physical phenomena. There is, however, no debate as to the veracity of Newton's laws of motion. They apply universally to any knowable frame of reference. Oh, and nice try at throwing around the pomo bullshit. Science is not about any "metaphysic", in fact it is not about "meta" anything. You throw around the big words. I suspect you haven't the foggiest notion how they apply.

The point, which both of you took great pains to miss is this: consensus is achieved by the political method, not the scientific method. Consensus is the absence of rigor. Consensus has no place in science, doubly so when that science is being used to determine the fate of six and one-half billion sentient beings.

Justin - Theories being wrong has nothing to do with consensus. Before the detonation of the atomic bomb, there was consensus that it would burn the atmosphere. Consensus is bunk. Consensus is what is reached when someone with a political agenda wishes to subvert science to suit their aspirations for power.

When the only answer that the Machidas and the Heidi Cullens of the world has to anyone who asks questions about the greenhouse theory is to attempt to marginalize them through character assassination, then it becomes obvious that they know that their chosen belief system will not stand up to scrutiny.

Prediction: Machida or Christian will next ask me why I am in favor of pollution. Why the leftists ask this question is beyond my considerable comprehension. But they always ask it. Why? To marginalize those who disagree with their radicalism.

I'm an engineer. Engineers value efficiency. Pollution is evidence of inefficiency. Do the math.

But I'm also a libertarian. I don't believe that the solution to a problem lies in restricting the liberties of others.

Posted by: brian at March 27, 2007 7:47 PM

There's consensus that smoking gives you cancer, but I bet I can find scientists that think the link between the two is not incontrivertable. I love my cigarettes, but that doesn't mean they won't kill me.

I'm done with this for now, and have work to do. May the best ideas win.

Posted by: justin case at March 27, 2007 8:17 PM

Now, not every person who smokes will get cancer, but smoke is a carcinogen, and you don't know what your risk factor is. Lemme give you a little challenge: Go with a lung cancer patient to chemo, and be with them all the way through the end. Betcha you'll quit. One thing I've learned from very full-of-life close friends who've died -- Marnye, Marlon, Marlowe Minnick, and Cathy Seipp -- is not to waste life. Cigarette smoking seems supremely disrespectful. And I say that as somebody who doesn't believe in god. Perhaps that means I value life more. I think I'll be here until I'm worm-food, and that's that. No 72 gigolos, no angels, devils, or bratty little cherubs floating around. Just the big bye-bye.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 27, 2007 8:26 PM

> I have previously advised you
> of my ad hominem policy.

Did you get MY memo on priggishness?

And just like that, the discussion carries us off into roaming bands in a post-apocalyptic world of whatever.... Amy started this by complaining about small-minded people who believe without evidence and how dangerous they can be when they impose their will, and we're still at it.

> The details of how much
> information I have are really
> not necessary using the model.

You're in school? When you get out, what industry are you going to manage?

> If there really is a problem,
> economic freedom will be
> necessary to adapt, not
> economic controls.

Exactly. Exactly.

> One of my professors was
> the late Julian Simon,
> aka The Doomslayer.

No shit? The wager-with-Ehrlich guy? Give us some stories! We want the deets!

> will not respond to
> any additional
> statements.

You have a bad haircut! Yo' mama wears army boots!

Posted by: Crid at March 27, 2007 8:38 PM

Erlich -- proof you can get rich being really, really wrong:

http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=44

While Simon was proven correct, Ehrlich went on to win a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant -- based on his career of fantastic apocalyptic predictions that never came true. In 1990, Ehrlich and his wife shamelessly published "The Population Explosion," another book predicting that "human numbers are on a collision course with massive famines." Simon's work has influenced people to challenge the corruptions of such environmentalist doomsayers; nevertheless, the rehashed, dispelled arguments of Ehrlich and his ilk prevail in many American minds.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 27, 2007 8:49 PM

Amy - Paul Ehrlich is one of the biggest reasons I've never believed any of the left's "apocalypse-du-jour" scenarios. They are always wrong. And the wronger they are, the more they are lionized by their sycophants.

Not that the right has been much better with their apocalypses, but at least Reagan decided to go after one that was of human making (Marxism) instead of one of the Universe's making (ice ages).

If you read "The Population Bomb" (I've not even attempted to read more than a cliff's notes version, it's that awful) you get the impression that Ehrlich and his ilk aren't driven by altruism. In fact, they know the consequences of what they propose, and they propose it for that reason. Simply, Paul Ehrlich hates brown people, and since he knows that capitalism is the surest way to keep them from dying, he hates capitalism.

Posted by: brian at March 27, 2007 9:06 PM

Justin - The case against smoking is not what you suspect. Certainly, there is incontrovertible evidence that smoking may cause cancer. But it's not perfect causality. Ingesting plutonium will cause cancer 100% of the time, so it's perfect causality. The case against global warming is significantly weaker than the case against smoking - yet the same people who want to ban public smoking while leaving cigarettes legal want to radically alter our lives to forestall a fate that is far less likely than lung cancer to the smoker.

Amy - What sucked far more about Cathy's situation is that she never smoked, but she got the same sneering condescension left for smokers - that somehow lung cancer is deserved. That we spend more money every year researching preventable diseases than we do on leukemia and lung cancer is disgusting.

And anyone who can look at Cathy's life and death and tell me there is a caring and involved God is out of their fucking mind. There is no way any God can justify the suffering that Cathy and her family went through.

Posted by: brian at March 27, 2007 9:14 PM

See, Brian, where you go all silly is in dividing everybody into these black and white categories. A close friend of mine refers to himself as "a bleeding-heart lefty," yet is highly rational, and teaches statistics to doctors. I also know people on the right who are highly rational -- and highly irrational. Most people are a mix of sense and lack thereof. Far too many, on all sides, get more of a helping of the lack thereof than they should.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 27, 2007 9:16 PM

There's some serious mistakes being made here. Newton's laws are a mathematical model relating mass, force, time, space, and gravity. They only approximate what we observe, they do not fit exactly. Einstein's model is a better fit. I won't be surprised if Einstein's model is replaced in due course, though I have no idea what with, and meantime his model is the best we have.


Science is based on non-scientific metaphysical assumptions, but not very many. If this were not so, it would be based on nothing at all. What are these assumptions? I'm not sure - you should look up "philosophy of science" to find out. Things like: we have observations, we can make models, we can reason about the models, and we can test them against further observations.


We don't need to assume there is an "underlying reality." Observations are enough in themselves. It doesn't matter to science if our entire experience is a hallucination and the universe was created last Tuesday. If it is a hallucination, then science will discover truths about the hallucination.


We don't need to assume that the universe obeys laws in a consistent way. If it does, science will help us find them out. If it does not, science will be ineffective, but it will still exist as a method. In particular we don't assume that anything is "repeatable." The test is whether we can predict what is going to happen.


We do need to assume that we can reason. If we are all mad, then we have to be mad in the same way, and we must be consistently mad, or we can't do science. Instead, we will only be able to do paranoid conspiracy theories.

Posted by: Norman at March 28, 2007 5:54 AM

Nice quote from Michael Crichton (I'm looking forward to meeting him very soon - for lucky reasons) at today's Daily Ablution blog:

"But how much [of global warming] is attributable to CO2 is not known. In the absence of that vital knowledge, people speak of a consensus of scientists. That's a way to get around the lack of knowledge and the inability to predict (which is the conventional proof of scientific knowledge, hence the usual emphasis in science on testable hypotheses.) Perhaps people and nations will choose to act on the basis of a claimed consensus. They have done so in the past, sterilizing their poor neighbors in the name of eugenics, gulping milk for their ulcers, downing antioxidants to prevent cancer, and soon. But all those behaviors were ultimately proven to lack a scientific basis — in other words, they are superstitions."

I'm not quoting him as a SAGE, okay? Just thought this dovetailed efficiently with Amy's theme...

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 28, 2007 7:39 AM

Love you, Jodester.

Posted by: Crid at March 28, 2007 8:08 AM

Who quoted Crichton?

Posted by: Crid at March 28, 2007 8:17 AM

Oh, I get it, the comment on the other blog.

Right. Fully awake here, fully engaged now, thanks.

Posted by: Crid at March 28, 2007 8:43 AM

Mwah...[blush]

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 28, 2007 8:49 AM

My apologies to all for the cigarettes-cancer comment. Under the circumstances of Cathy's recent passing, it really wasn't cool of me to bring that up. Mea culpa.

Posted by: justin case at March 28, 2007 10:17 AM

I guess after 70+ comments, it's clear that we're not going to reach agreement on this issue. Some of us think the science on carbon emissions and global warming is good science and should serve as a guide to our policies regarding burning fossil fuels, and others don't. So be it. In the long run, it is going to be about convincing the public at large anyway. Thanks for a fun debate.

Posted by: justin case at March 28, 2007 10:21 AM

> it is going to be about
> convincing the public at
> large anyway.

We should be so lucky.

Posted by: Crid at March 28, 2007 10:29 AM

Brian said Nowhere did I even imply that Newton's laws were the sum of all knowledge, nor did I state or imply that they are sufficient to describe all physical phenomena.

Nor did I. I merely showed areas where Newton's laws of MOTION were insufficient to describe phenomena related to MOTION.

I did so without profanity and was actually more in agreement with Justin Case than Machida, that was the one error in what I wrote.

Your ad hominem attacks against my political ideology, as well as my education, are not only bizarre they are inaccurate. To call me a leftist is like describe Mozart as an illustrator, it doesn't make any sense. To say that I don't understand how to apply the term metaphysic is bizarre and the fact that you "believe" that science has no metaphysic shows how little you understand about philosophy in general and the philosophy of science in particular.

I would never have assumed that you, or anyone really, was in favor of pollution, nor have I at any time tried to state that you are a/an (insert favorite derogatory term here). My comment was simply that from a Physics standpoint, Newton's Laws are not useful under certain circumstances which fit within the parameter of what they attempt to describe.

I can see from an Engineering perspective where they are in fact near infallible. Why? Because the scale on which they are being applied is such that the model doesn't break down and the errors in the mathematical results are so minute as to be of no consequence.

Posted by: Christian Johnson at March 28, 2007 11:10 AM

Not going to reach agreement?


I don't agree with you there.

Posted by: Norman at March 28, 2007 11:14 AM

Not going to reach agreement?


I don't agree with you there.

Good one! Let's see how that works out.


Posted by: justin case at March 28, 2007 11:35 AM

Justin - I come at it from a point of view that the burning of petroleum for energy ought to be eliminated anyhow, as there are far more useful things we can do with the oil, and there are far cleaner ways to make energy. What I don't agree with is the whole "Oh My God We're Going To Die And New York Is Gonna Drown And What About The Poor Polar Bear" knees-bent running about that the political factions of the environmental movement is engaged in.

Christian - Apologies for what you interpret as an ad-hominem (which, by the way, means attacking the man, not the ideology), but if you are not of the belief that government is the source of all good bits, then you are not a leftist. Simple.

Norman - the entirety of existence depends on the universe following a set of rules. Whether it decides to clue us in on them or not is another thing entirely.

The single biggest objection I have to the entirety of AGW orthodoxy is the almost fanatical belief in the accuracy not only of the measurements logged over the past 100 years, but of their utility in predicting short, medium, and long term trends in climate. That's like trying to predict what the final score of the World Series is going to be at the bottom of the first inning of opening night. You simply don't have enough data to accurately model trends.

And yet the answer to the True Believers is always legislation of more government control. Like the proposed ban on incandescent lighting, and some far more radical things that the True Believers want to impose on the rest of us For Our Own Good.

Posted by: brian at March 28, 2007 4:43 PM

Brian-


You are not in a position to state that the entirety of existence depends on the universe following a set of rules. No-one is. We don't even know if it is meaningful or not: how could you tell?


I agree with the point you almost-but-don't-quite make, which is that legislation & more govt control is a poor way to achieve anything. The most powerful social force we have is liberal capitalism and private money. Many people despise money, which is odd, because it is simply a measure of value. If we value our planetary life-support systems, we should make sure this is reflected in the dollar costs of the goods we buy and sell every day. Actually doing this is not as easy as it sounds - unintended consequences seem to be the rule when we fiddle with complex nonlinear systems. Still, it's probably safer to fiddle with economics than, for example, to seed the atmosphere with sulphur dioxide, or the oceans with iron, etc.

Posted by: Norman at March 29, 2007 1:24 AM

Christian - Apologies for what you interpret as an ad-hominem (which, by the way, means attacking the man, not the ideology), but if you are not of the belief that government is the source of all good bits, then you are not a leftist. Simple.

Again, I don't think it's helpful to divide the world into black/white, good/evil, right/left. It's often really not so simple.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 29, 2007 2:50 AM

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