Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lemming Tracks: 'My Mind's Made Up, Don't Confuse Me With the Facts;' and Climate Change


*Experts in the carefully-selected "21 Club," that is.

That's a select group of hand-picked experts - who were selected because they are convinced that human beings are killing Earth. Or say they are, anyway.

It reminds the Lemming of the 'good old days' at college, when dissenting opinions were called 'racist,' 'homophobic,' 'hate speech' - or the ever-popular 'intolerant.'

That wasn't, in the Lemming's opinion, much better than the older 'good old days' when dissenting opinions were labeled 'communist,' 'pinko,' or 'un-American.'

Dissenters Need Not Apply

Here's what got the Lemming started:

"Google is diving headfirst into the climate-change debate with a '21 Club' of hand-picked experts that the search engine giant hopes will drive the conversation -- and guide investments -- in climate change.

"But it's a discussion that even the club's members say is meant to be one-sided.

" 'If Google included people who challenged that debate, they would be wrong to do so,' said Matthew Nisbet, an associate professor for the School of Communication at American University and one of the 21 Google Science Communication Fellows.

" 'As to whether climate change is happening, humans are a cause and it is a problem -- there is no scientific debate over that,' Nisbet told FoxNews.com.

"A review of the 21 Club confirms Nisbet's comment. The group includes meteorologists, communication specialists, and even weather forecasters, as well as few scientists who research climate change for a living. None argue that the planet isn't in imminent danger...."

Let's not be too hard on the 21 Club, though. There's a recession going on, and funding for silly science may be getting scarce:

"...So what's Google up to, anyway?

"Part of the motivation seems to be funding new climate change research.

"Jack Gold, a research analyst, told FoxNews.com that promoting new research often ends up generating new product ideas. He said having good models for climate change can also feed into the company's own data visualization efforts.

"The company likely sees the search term 'climate change' popping up in search results, too. 'They are probably reacting to what people are interested in,' Gold said...."

Don't Shoot the Messenger: Demonize Him

The old adage, 'don't kill the messenger,' is a sort of admonition against hurting the person who cares enough say what you don't want to hear. These days, to the best of the Lemming's knowledge, even nitwit supervisors seldom actually kill employees who try to keep the company afloat - and that's almost another topic.

Demonizing folks who don't say what they're supposed to, though: that's another story. In the Lemming's opinion.

"Demonize?" Demonization is "to represent as diabolically evil." (Princeton's WordNet) It's not limited to one sort of beliefs - and, in the Lemming's opinion, besides being wrong, demonizing folks who don't say the 'right' things does not help others understand what's really going on.

Culturally-savvy Americans, at least, will recognize that FoxNews.com is not politically correct. They have a (distressing, to some) habit of not agreeing with the Huffington Post or The New York Times' editorial positions. They're 'obviously,' 'racist,' 'homophobic,' and 'intolerant.' Or something pretty much icky.

That sort of name-calling is, in the Lemming's opinion, an example of demonization.

So is, again in the Lemming's opinion, selling coffee mugs that say "Islam is of the devil." (A Catholic Citizen in America (April 1, 2011))

Junk is Useful: Silly Science, Not So Much

The term "junk science" has been around for a while, to describe weird assertions that get taken seriously - apparently because somebody says they're 'scientific.' More about that at junkscience.com.

The Lemming respectfully submits that the term "junk science" is unfair to junk. "Junk," "the remains of something that has been destroyed or broken up" (Princeton's WordNet again), is - as the folks who recycle know - potentially useful.

"Junk science," in the Lemming's opinion, isn't: except perhaps as raw material for comics and folks who make a career of countering the crazy claims.

The Lemming thinks that "silly science" is a preferable term, since "silly" means: "ludicrous; foolish; lacking seriousness; given to frivolity; inspiring scornful pity; dazed from or as if from repeated blows." (you guessed it: Wordnet again)

From the coming ice age and the 8 x 8 water rule, to climate change: "silly science," in the Lemming's opinion, captures the essence of 'expert' opinions that can't endure close examination or debate.

Where Have All the Trilobites Gone?

It the Lemming's opinion, it would be a trifle disconcerting if Earth's climate wasn't changing. The Lemming's opined about that before:
Bottom line? Change happens.

And the Lemming doesn't think that it was supposed to stop around the early 19th century - and that all change since then was somebody's fault.

But, like the blog's name says, the Lemming is "apathetic." And that's another topic.

Related posts:
In the news:


Brigid said...

So, wait, the group is there to foster conversation, yet dissenting opinions aren't allowed and would be a bad thing? What the heck?

Also, missing word: "caution against hurting the person who cares enough say what you don't want to hear."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


I think you've got it.

This is PC 101:

* Assert that one's intent is to foster openness to all opinions
* Encourage 'correct' opinions
* Vigorously suppress 'incorrect' opinions
* If anyone complains, label the person as 'intolerant' - and probably 'unintelligent,' to boot

McCarthyism worked about the same way, with a different set of cliches.

And thanks for the heads-up. In context, "caution" was being used as a noun. I've replaced that with "admonition."

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