Home > AGW, Bret Stephens, climate change, cognition, commons, Enviro Derangement Syndrome, Lubos Motl > Luboš Motl 2: The cool-headed overheat; to this "rational" scientist, I’m a freedom-hating hypercommunist Nazi who should be "jailed or executed"

Luboš Motl 2: The cool-headed overheat; to this "rational" scientist, I’m a freedom-hating hypercommunist Nazi who should be "jailed or executed"

It looks like Lubos woke up on the wrong side of bed.

BELOW is the type of “rational”, “dispassionate” response that my previous attempt at discourse with Luboš Motl has earned from that fan of Bret “Mass Neurosis” Stephens.  Just who is “sick-souled”, anyway, and finding it difficult to distinguish between reality (my actual points about management of resources and politicized battles) and fantasies of “alarmist” strawmen?

These are Lubos’ responses (indented) to some of the points from my preceding post, My further comments are bracketed:

TT:  While some aspects of the “Warmers” and the Jehovah’s Witnesses may be linked, the Warmers are descendants of those who raised awareness and fought for control of REAL pollution in the 60’s and 70’s.  Warmers also point to REAL phenomena, like increases in GHG levels, acidifying oceans, dramatic warming in the higher latitudes, pronounced climate zone shifts, etc.

LM:  There may have been real pollution 40 years ago but the claims about it have always been overblown. Today, they are overblown by many orders of magnitude. My criticism and Jehovah’s Wittnesses analogy applies not only to the present global warming quasi-religion but, to a greater or lesser extent, to all previous fantasies that the environmentalist movement has invented during the last 50 years.

[TT:  Sure we’ve made strides at cleaning up pollution in the West, but that pollution wasn’t a fantasy, was extremely costly and much of it is still around.  LM’s Jehovah’s Witness analogy is useful (as not only cultists but all of us have difficulties in changing our minds, particularly on matters we cannot personally physically verify), but clearly doesn’t cover all environmentalists, many of whom understand that the lack of clear and enforceable property rights (and markets) lies at the core of environmental problems.]

LM:  They never learn anything from their failures and try to predict things that can’t be predicted and pretend that clearly very unlikely things are likely. The only different aspect of the AGW cult is that they also include a lot of scientific buzzwords but they don’t do proper science because they don’t abandon conjectures that have been falsified. In some sense, bad science is even worse than pure religion because the conclusions are equally crappy and moreover, it contaminates the good name of science.

TT:  Care to elaborate on your complaints?

LM:  Whoever doesn’t want to or isn’t capable to understand basic complaints about the contamination of science by ideology, won’t understand them. In your case, it has been clearly proved that it is a waste of time to try to debate these serious matters with you.

[TT:  I’m quite aware of how not only ideology and politics contaminate science; in fact it’s a point I made to LM.  I’m sorry he’s not interested (or too busy being offensive) in taking up my invitation to elaborate on how he sees that it has affected climate science in particular.]

TT:  Stephens’ discussion of the psychology of belief in and of itself is fine.  It’s his pretense that EVERYONE who takes a different view than himself is either masking an ideology or is irrational (or both) that offends, and is obviously unsupportable.  If Stephens is “rationally” engaged in logical fallacies, then he’s being deliberately deceptive; otherwise, he’s engaged in self-deception of the type he accuses others of.

LM:  The reason why it looks like Stephens thinks that every alarmist is masking an ideology, personal interests, or a mental disorder is that every alarmist is masking an ideology, personal interests, or a mental disorder. If there exists an exception, I have certainly not met one yet.

[TT:  “Alarmist”? Nice strawman, and not intellectually honest.  So like Bret Stephens, for whom global warming is “a nonfalsifiable hypothesis” and thus a matter of belief, LM lumps everybody who disagrees with him – scientist, economist, industrialist, etc. – into the “alarmist” category.]

TT:  I would agree that a scientist may have little or nothing to add to a discussion of policy – and that others should not assume such expertise – but it is not only impractical to not refer to the credentials of a scientist who chooses to get involved in political analysis, but perhaps dishonest not to.  Moreover, scientists may of course have much to offer in policy discussions.

LM:  I find it dishonest if the scientific credentials are mentioned or overblown in the context of activists who have contributed virtually no good science besides the “science” that is used by other activists. I find it incredibly insulting and dishonest if bad scientists and pseudoscientists similar to Michael Mann and hundreds of others are presented to be on par with real leading scientists – if not above them. All these people are crappy radical activists and this is what defines their primary activity in their lives. Saying that they’re scientists is effectively a kind of a lie. And again, my complaint is that science itself should be free of politics, a statement that you deliberately seem to oppose. In my understanding, your approach is on equal footing with the approach of the Nazis who also wanted to manipulate science “to their image”. I consider these things incredibly dangerous, extraordinarily serious, and I would be among the first ones to fight in a civil war meant to protect the society against a new cancer of this type.

[TT:  LM’s view of who is a scientist and who is a pseudoscientist is besides the point, which is when someone with a science background speaks, we should pay attention to whether they are discussing science or policy, and their basis for either.  I agree that it is desirable that science itself be free of politics (which is why I pointed to problems with government funding of science); I just don’t think it is possible to lock scientists out of having or expressing views on politics.  I certainly do not support a politicization of science by the powerful, which has been a clear effort by parts of the fossil fuel and by the Bush administration.]

LM:  I am blogging and in that role, I am a blogger. In fact, I am a kind of full time blogger, in some sense. 😉 And of course, a part of my motivation is to counteract the “activists” who are using science incorrectly. So I am, in some sense, in a similar position with the opposite sign. Unlike them, I don’t hide it. And unlike them, I think it is extremely wrong if the scientific discourse is driven largely by activists of either sign.

TT:  While your stated aims may be admirable, Lubos, they are inescapably a surface manifestation of your own policy goals and preferences.

LM:  This is postmodernist bullshit. You simply can’t understand how objective science or objective scientists could possibly exist – because you are infinitely far from them – so that’s why you assume that they can’t exist. It is circular reasoning and a very insulting one for every honest scientist in the world.

[TT:  This is primitive spleen-venting.  Sorry; I’m not a robot; perhaps LM is – albeit an interesting one that swears and has emotions an awful lot like a real person.

As to the existence of “objective” scientists, even the best scientists have a hard time keeping an open mind.  People have a hard time changing their minds, especially on matters that are not staring them in the face, and even very highly intelligent people and, yes, scientists. Man did not evolve to truly understand the world, but to understand enough to help us to survive and have off-spring. The result is that we build basic maps of reality in our heads and reform them when we have to. Cognitive science shows that we subconsciously filter out much dissonant information, and we all know that it is easier to defend our current reality and to dismiss information that would force us to do to much work in changing our minds. That’s why Darwin, Pasteur and Einstein had such a difficult time. In science, someone with a break-through idea often needs many years to accumulate the evidence and conduct experiments that prove them right, in the face of the opposition of more senior scientists seeking to defend their own established views and reputations.  That’s the reason for the old saw, that “breakthroughs in science occurs one death at a time”, as the “old guard” dies.

But my point was simply that while LM states that he thinks “it is extremely wrong if the scientific discourse is driven largely by activists of either sign“, in fact, as he notes below, he is “fighting only against those whose policies I disagree with. Why? Because I happen to like exactly the policies that reflect the actual science.”  It’s hardly a sheer accident that LM attacks only those who policies he disagrees with, and ignores the demonstrably nonsensical science offered by others who also support LM’s policies.  LM also ignores that “science” itself dictates no policies, which are chosen based on competing values.

TT:  Obviously we have common concerns here, although my view is that the unfortunate role of government in climate science has not so polluted the results as to wholly discredit them.  There are lots of incentives to confirm results and to correct bad work, and many organizations with quite different views and interests involved in the cross-checking.

LM:  Yes, there are these mechanisms. But there are also mechanisms that try to drag science to fulfil some ideological and political goal. Whenever the second force becomes stronger than the first one, and it is indisputably the case of the present climate science, the gross conclusions of the discipline will converge to the pre-determined ideological stuff rather than the scientifically correct answers. What matters is which force behind the scientific process is the strongest one, and when the search for objective, unemotional, unpolitical answers is not the #1 defining goal of science, no one should call it science. It is some Nazi-like ideological crap.

[TT:  It’s fair to worry about the influences of ideology, funding and politics, but there are many scientists, organizations and nations involved in climate change science and investment decisions.  There IS no “Nazi-like ideological crap” that drives them all.

TT:  We are currently conducting an uncontrolled experiment on Planet Earth, Lubos.

LM:  A very nice prayer but not for me. Rationally speaking, the uncontrolled experiment has been conducted on this Earth for 5 billion years and it is called life. This 99.99999% of this correct proposition is inconvenient for you so you don’t mention it, right?

[TT:  LM of course is right, that life on Earth is uncontrolled and that mankind has only been around for a tiny fraction of time, but life is not an “experiment” unless one posits a Grand Experimenter.  While an interesting topic, it is hardly relevant to the current topic, which is that small slice of bio-geologic time inhabited by man, who is very much the experimenter and purposefully changing his environment.]

TT:  Isn’t the real question not whether “science” is involved in measuring changes, parsing through paleodata, making hypotheses and reviewing them in the face of new information, but simply how long we should let the experiment continue and accelerate uncontrolled, before we make private and collective decisions to respond to the changes, including modifying the experiment?

LM:  The uncontrolled experiment called life will last until the planet Earth will exist. And it will be uncontrolled until some fanatical and self-serving totalitarian people – Hitlers, Ahmadinejabs, or the environmentalists – acquire enough weapons to make the Earth “controllable”. I will do everything I can to prevent such a catastrophe. Why the fuck do you think that life should be “controlled”? I would vomit from your proclamations. I am amazed that a hypercommunist like you who hates freedom more than all the old Czechoslovak communists did dares to use the word “libertarian”. 

[TT:  More blind and primitive spleen-venting by our cool-headed scientist blogger-partisan.  Since he metaphorically left the Garden of Eden, man has always been deliberately tinkering with life and seeking to control his environment.  The effects of our activities are undeniably worldwide.  Just as other communities of resource users decided to act collective to manage common, shared resources like ranges, fisheries, water and forests (and man-made resources like cities, the Internet and blogs) – such management sometimes occurring via community rules or through more sophisticated and formal property rights or laws/regulations –  we face similar challenges about managing other resources that we jointly use.  Unlike LM, I do not assume that a coercive global government is required to manage such resources.]

TT:  Because the experiment involves common resources, inescapably decisions about maintaining and modifying the experiment are unavoidable “political”, about which all have rights to express concerns, even concerns that seem to concern YOU.

LM:  You have the right to express your idiotic concerns but you have no right to “control” the experiment that takes place on Earth – you have no right to control life of other people. Can’t you understand this principle, Nazi?

[TT:  It appears that LM is arguing with someone else.  He certainly appears to be using his words in an attempt to intimidate others.]

TT:  It’s helpful to fight against pseudoscience, but that’s a fight that one should wage on all sides, not merely against those whose policy view you disagree with.  The case against pseudoscience (and wishful thinking) from the “skeptics” is quite strong.  Besides the issue of partiality, it is clearly wrong and not forthright (and perhaps deliberately deceptive) to ascribe irrationality to all those who have different preferences over how to manage the global atmospheric commons.

LM:  I am fighting against all pseudoscience, and at the same moment, I am fighting only against those whose policies I disagree with. Why? Because I happen to like exactly the policies that reflect the actual science.

[TT:  This is simply unresponsive to my points.  But clearly LM is not concerned about fighting pseudoscience generally, but only when it is used by those whose policies he opposes.  Nor is he concerned about calling everyone who disagrees with his policy views irrational.]

But please give me a break with your disgusting texts already. I am amazed that after all the disasters of the 20th century, someone is still ready to propose that life on Earth should be “controlled”. In my opinion, people like you should be put in jail or executed before it’s too late.

[TT:  De gustibus non disputandum est, as they used to say.  As for tastes, he has his; I have mine.  But LM is clearly disgusted with a phantom, rather than the real person with whom he is having a monologue.  My suggestion was not that “life on Earth” should be “controlled”, but that we should pay close attention to how we manage our mutually shared, but not clearly owned, resources, being aware that as a lack of property rights makes private transactions difficult, we are likely to try to exert influence via words, including the kind of sulfurous hot air that we see from LM (and appears to be his custom).  Pinched noses, if not gas masks, may be the order of the day!]


 [TT:  I’m very glad LM gave me his “best”; it shows his fundamental good will.  Thanks, LM, and cheers!]

  1. TokyoTom
    July 11th, 2008 at 14:06 | #1

    Frank, thanks very much for archiving my comment to Lubos and his deletion! I wasn`t aware of Webcitation; thanks for showing it to me.

    I`ll make a note elsewhere on the blog of what he deleted.

  2. TokyoTom
    July 11th, 2008 at 14:01 | #2

    Lepus, thanks for your comment.

    1) is certainly correct with some anti-enviros, and it may have some slight foundation (in the degree of socialism present in the enviro movement and in the objectives of many environmentalists to regulate perceived environmental harms by the state). But it`s fair to notice that environmentalists also have their bogeymen and little notice the frequently unhelpful role that states play in aggravating resource problems. So there are perception issues all around, which provides ammo for facile sophists like Bret Stephens to write piece that Motl and others who are predisposed to hate the left lap up.

    I think that 2) is also fair for some skeptics, but certainly not all. Many see a potential problems but are more preoccupied with their visions of the train wrecks we get when government is asked to step in to “help” us.

    Your last question is a good one, but it is also ubiqitous and not limited to alienated enviro-haters. We all have a difficult time wrapping our heads around the world and are prone to tribal reactions. As a result, fear is not uncommon whenever we feel threatened by those whom we do not identifiy with and do not understand.

    The suspicion also extends to people whom you perceive are different but are making strange overtures, possibly like me to Lubos.

  3. TokyoTom
    July 11th, 2008 at 13:45 | #3

    Frank, thanks for pointing out Motl`s blog post. Isn`t it ironic that such a lover of reason should so fail to notice his own glaring deficiencies in it?

    He made be smart, but he`s so blinded by his own preconceptions that he is able to engage only in a monologue, and he`s got the emtional maturity of a gnat.

    Was I unreasonable or obtuse? It seems that he flew off the handle because of frustration over my failure to play his part he had ascribed for me.

  4. July 11th, 2008 at 10:08 | #4

    Lepus: Beats me. I think the whole anti-environmentalist movement started with 1) causing 2), but in Motl’s case I don’t know what got him off the deep end.

    TokyoTom: Looks like your totally ecocommiechickenlittlefascistic comment over at Motl’s blog just got censored, I mean freedomed:

    before — http://www.webcitation.org/5ZE4C94rU
    after — http://www.webcitation.org/5ZEK18b9X

  5. thelongfuture.blogspot.com/us
    July 11th, 2008 at 08:51 | #5

    Observation 1) LM (and many other skeptics) seems possessed by genuine fear or paranoia. Hitlers loom, the UN Kyoto Hypercommunists are coming…etc, etc.

    Observation 2) LM (and many other skeptics) seems to have apathy or active dislike for the environment or the natural world. Restated: from a normal person’s viewpoint, the skeptics are blind to the many interrelated issues like species diversity, extinctions, environmental support systems.

    Question: are the two observations above related? Are we looking at an actual inability to connect with a larger world, followed by them becoming fearful of the people (who do) that they cannot understand?


  6. July 11th, 2008 at 05:02 | #6
  7. July 11th, 2008 at 04:44 | #7

    “In my opinion, people like you should be put in jail or executed before it’s too late.”

    Heh, will Motl dare to express such sentiments in public? Hansen just suggested that oil CEOs and think-tanks should be “tried” — only tried — for high crimes against humanity, and look at the crapstorm he faced.

    — bi, International Journal of Inactivism

  1. November 30th, 2017 at 02:23 | #1
  2. November 30th, 2017 at 02:42 | #2