Patterico's Pontifications

3/30/2010

Global Warming vs Democracy

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 4:01 am



[Guest post by DRJ]

Scientist James Lovelock has no sympathy for the East Anglia scientists caught fudging climate data, and he’s grateful for global warming skeptics who help maintain scientific standards. But he still thinks humans are too stupid to make good decisions about climate change and democracy is an obstacle to those decisions:

“I don’t think we’re yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change,” said Lovelock in his first in-depth interview since the theft of the UEA emails last November. “The inertia of humans is so huge that you can’t really do anything meaningful.”

One of the main obstructions to meaningful action is “modern democracy”, he added. “Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”

Lovelock believes democracy won’t work when it comes to big problems because people are too stupid to understand the problems or the solutions. I disagree. People will buy big ideas, but global warming advocates don’t have the facts to sell their claims.

Sometimes scientists are like salesmen: They blame the buyer when it’s the product that doesn’t work.

H/T Instapundit.

— DRJ

136 Responses to “Global Warming vs Democracy”

  1. I agree with him on thing – humans ARE too stupid to make long-term decisions when their short-term interests are threatened, regardless of what the issue is. The Social Security finance fiasco springs immediately to mind.

    As for his democracy remark, you have to remember that scientists are a bit insulated. I work with engineers, who have a similar problem. They ususally make statements like this without understanding the political implications of them.

    JEA (322ac3)

  2. And some times, scientists are like con
    artist/rent seekers: they lie, exaggerate,
    and steal money.

    And, when they don’t get all of the money
    they want, suggest the solution is a
    totalitarian regime. With them in charge.

    There, fixed it for you.

    Jack (e383ed)

  3. People bought into the idea that pollution was/is bad. We have made great strides over the past few decades – at least here in the US. Many, many more people participate in river clean-ups, adopt-a-highway, etc. That’s not to say we don’t have room to improve; simply that we recognize the problem and are facing it.
    Global-warming data is piss-poor at best. Too many groups jumped on the band-wagon and have done more harm by lending their name to a theory that has lost a lot of credibility. Collect the data using sound methodology. Don’t over-state the problem; if any.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  4. The idea that warmists are people of integrity and good will is the biggest lie of all.

    Jack (e383ed)

  5. why is the formatting lost when I submit??? arrrrgh.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  6. “We must suspend democracy in order to meet the threat… of Manbearpig.”

    –Al Gore.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  7. We must suspend democracy so that I can
    have a second term.

    Barak Obama (e383ed)

  8. ‘too stupid’… also known as ‘making decisions that I don’t like’.

    Yeah, we’re stupid because we don’t agree with trashing the economy the way the global alarmists want us to, or because we won’t agree to raising taxes to ‘fix’ the deficit and/or social security, or because we disagree with Obama on just about everything.

    A letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post rightly says that “If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, then racism is the first charge of the intellectually lazy“. I’d add that claiming your opponent is stupid runs a close second.

    steve sturm (369bc6)

  9. “It may be necessary to put democracy on hold…”

    Nice to hear a lefty just come right out and say that establishing totalitarian government control is what this is all about.

    Refreshingly honest.

    “…for a while.”

    Except, I think he meant to say “forever”.

    Dave Surls (27f0ed)

  10. Lovelock at least has evolved from his earlier global warming hysteria to appreciating that skeptics have played a useful role.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes (9eb641)

  11. I’m sorry, but I no longer refer to the Global Warming/Climate Change proponents as scientists.

    Due to their manipulation of data, suppression of methodology, and aversion to any peer review, they have forfeited any consideration as scientists.

    They are nothing more than propagandists.

    NavyspyII (df615d)

  12. He seems to agree with Tom Friedman that democracy is an obstacle to that hugely important project that needs to be done. They just disagree on what that project is. China has built skyscrapers that are empty and a huge shopping mall in Shanghai that is 99% empty because they are afraid to deal with the unemployment that would follow real economic policies. US imports are going to be way down for years as we work through the consequences of even one Obama term. These fellows are so ignorant of economics that they can’t see that.

    Gary Becker is 79. Now we have Nobel Prizes given to polemicists like Krugman.

    I worry.

    MIke K (2cf494)

  13. Lovelock is too stupid to be human

    Neo (7830e6)

  14. Mike K beat me to it – Friedman has endlessly lamented that our messy democracy is so ineffective compared to China’s top – down political system and command – and – control economy. They own most of our debt, and their country’s on the verge of imploding. Gee, wonder what’s going to happen next?

    Dmac (21311c)

  15. He is right that humans often demonstrate their stupidity, Nov. 2008 a case in point.

    The problem is whether you have a democracy or not, humans are still in charge, unless you decide to follow a machine that follows a predetermined algorithm (good morning Hal), a chimpanzee, or a groundhog.

    The even bigger problem is that some humans then think they are better at making decisions than the rest or us humans.

    The biggest problem is when those said humans gain power and try to force the rest of us to do what they think best. Sorry to be repetitive (but not really) but C.S. Lewis’ “The Abolition of Man” is the definitive work that I know of.

    MD in Philly (59a3ad)

  16. James Lovelock is 90 years old and 60 years past his sell by date.
    Read an interesting article in the recent edition of Science News. The gist of the article is that few scientist truly understand statistics and most of the published scientific work is chock full of errors and logical inconsistencies. Lovelock and the AGW ideologues apparently never got the memo. AGW is absolutely worthless junk. It may be real but from the ‘evidence’ used and the interpolations derived from the ‘data’, AGW is meaningless hocus-pocus.

    cubanbob (409ac2)

  17. Lovelock is the father of Gaia, so he must think he is God. When he and other warmists prove what the ideal earth temperature is and explain how we can attain and maintain it, I will give them some credence. I’m not going to hold my breath as they have an impossible task.

    tmac (5559f7)

  18. Its not like totalitarian governments are doing anything about AGW.

    Fatuous prattle like Lovelock’s and Friedman’s is annoying.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  19. Look for the Democrat majority in Congress and Big Zero to use the bribes/pay-offs strategy to ram Cap ‘n Tax legislation down our throats.

    GeneralMalaise (2bc526)

  20. > I’d add that claiming your opponent is stupid runs a close second.

    I’d agree with that as long as you add a codicil that it’s just a claim made without justification.

    Because, when you’re arguing with Lefties, all too often, your opponent IS stupid.

    Once you’ve demonstrated that point, it’s ok to do.

    IgotBupkis (79d71d)

  21. Increasing numbers of the public are coming to regard scientists as merely hookers with lab coats.

    I’m not sure why they would expect otherwise when they sell out to the highest bidder for grants and political favor.

    It could be worse, the perception could become that they are just politicians.

    GaryS (8351a3)

  22. James Lovelock on Climate Change (emphasis mine):


    One of the main obstructions to meaningful action is “modern democracy”, he added. “Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.

    Got that? Let’s make sure, since you and I are all suuuuuuch dimwitted dunderheads:

    “Since you disagree with us, you’re clearly just too stupid to understand what we’re telling you, so you shouldn’t be able to vote against our will… We should rule — not you.

    The Declaration of the true Fascist : We. Rule. Not. You.

    This is “science” meets Politics — subserviently — and

    “Politics is Power, [Mr. Garrison,] nothing more.”
    – X, ‘JFK: the Director’s Cut’ –

    IgotBupkis (79d71d)

  23. I think I feel a Cap N Trade counterattack coming on…

    FatBaldnSassy (9520fd)

  24. There is also an odd and seemingly requisite personality change that happens to budding young scientists in grad school….to whit, absolute commitment. Without it, you aren’t deemed serious by your superiors about your work. This is especially strong in the theoretical research side of science. Thus, half of your life is some level of defending your work or anticipating a defense by practicing

    Angelo (5df281)

  25. Lovelock says:

    “Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. …”

    Uh, no they don’t.

    Just another lying jackass.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  26. Does it seem that intellectuals in the West are on the same suicidal path as during the 1930s?

    FatBaldnSassy (9520fd)

  27. Why drop this line from the quote from Lovelock’s interview:

    “What’s the alternative to democracy? There isn’t one”

    As in:
    But it can’t happen in a modern democracy. This is one of the problems. What’s the alternative to democracy? There isn’t one. But even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being.

    How odd.

    How distorting.

    snips (6a0094)

  28. Sure they do, EW1(SG), that’s why the United States did not hold the 1944 presidential election and let FDR just declare himself president again …

    SPQR (26be8b)

  29. “…The Declaration of the true Fascist : We. Rule. Not. You…”

    Please don’t interrupt – I’m reloading!

    AD - RtR/OS! (a2cec7)

  30. “I don’t think we’re yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change,” said Lovelock

    If only by “we” he meant “we arrogant scientists”! But I’m pretty sure that by “we” he means “you stupid peasants”.

    Subotai (d601be)

  31. If we rounded up all of the “Lovelock’s” of the world, and shipped them off to – say – McMurdo Sound, would that constitute “ethnic cleansing”; or, would it just be a violation of the pollution standards established for Antarctica?

    AD - RtR/OS! (a2cec7)

  32. #28 SPQR:

    Sure they do,…That’s why the United States did not hold the 1944 presidential election

    or the 1864 election or the 1972 election or the 2008 election…
    But, you already got the idea 😉

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  33. Well, as long as we are going to abolish democracy (temporarily, of course) we ought to strike a deal: In return for letting the scientists have their way with “combating global warming,” the business community gets to have their way with modifying the tax and regulatory system in order to combat this economic crisis. After all, I don’t think we’re yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle as complex a situation as capitalist economics. The inertia of humans is so huge that you can’t really do anything meaningful.

    Do you think the scientific community would agree to this deal?

    JVW (fd30ab)

  34. #31 AD:

    would it just be a violation of the pollution standards established for Antarctica?

    I think there would be lots of overflow, you would probably be polluting the Falklands, Tasmania, New Zealand, Chile, South Africa…and I know they wouldn’t be happy about that.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  35. Re: Lovelock and the temporary abolishment of democracy and all the rights that flow from it.

    Sounds like a plan; let’s start with eliminating freedom of speech, and let’s start small. For the honor of “first person to lose his right to freedom of speech”, I nominate…

    …idiot scientist James Lovelock.

    Works for me.

    Evan Carter (50b520)

  36. Comment by EW1(SG) — 3/30/2010 @ 10:07 am

    You actually think they could swim that far – in the Roaring Forties?

    Think of it as a dietary supplement for Southern Ocean denizens.

    AD - RtR/OS! (a2cec7)

  37. ““What’s the alternative to democracy? There isn’t one””

    Rock solid snips – What do you call the period when you put democracy temporarily on hold then, the tea interval?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  38. Maybe what needs to be suspended is civilized societies tolerance of hucksters like Dr Lovelock. I recommend torches and pitchforks.

    f1guyus (757adc)

  39. #3, Corwin,

    Good point. It also should be pointed out that the worst pollution disasters are in those countries where democracy is “on hold”. Those countries also show the problem with government control of the economy. The Soviet Union with roughly the same population, land, and resources as the USA had an economy one fifth the size. Guess that regulation to assure fairness and stop exploitation by those greedy capitalists didn’t work out as planned.

    Machinist (9780ec)

  40. And the Left wonders why we are skeptical of global warming apologists… there is always an underlying political objective to accomplish. The most effective way to accomplish that objective? Malign your detractors and accuse them of being irrational or extreme. While I believe most scientists are truly devoted to their field of study and try to behave honestly, the influence politics has on science cannot be denied.

    I used to wonder how any intelligent human being could effectively argue for fascism/socialism/totalitarianism… but we hear these arguments made often… indirectly made by the same folks who claim “Washington is broken,” and therefore we need a new kind of government. This reminds me of a similar argument made by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times a number of months back.

    Federal Farmer (45cc6c)

  41. Just another example of the left’s ongoing war against science.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  42. There’s been some research done in both cognitive psych and economics which suggests that humans have a tendency to undervalue long-term risks and overvalue short-term pleasure; this implies that humans in general have a tendency to make suboptimal long-term decisions.

    That’s what’s behind the argument that things like 401k should be opt-out rather than opt-in.

    That said, the exact same problem applies to those who would name themselves the guardians of the whole: if you replace democracy with rule-by-the-anointed, the anointed are going to be just as vulnerable to this problem as the masses are. Meaning that you gain nothing by that switch; you just trample on the right of people to control their own destiny without solving the problem you are seeking to solve.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  43. Guess that regulation to assure fairness and stop exploitation by those greedy capitalists didn’t work out as planned.

    actually, it did: there was no capitalist exploitation of the resources, and no consequent creation of wealth occurred. they all remained fairly poor. 😀

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  44. Now we have Nobel Prizes given to polemicists like Krugman.

    Before he became a polemicist, Krugman was a fairly well respected economist, and – from what I understand of it – his work was pretty important.

    See, for example, this thread at the corner.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  45. aphrael – I think we should all just convert our 401K’s to annuities or have all of our investments in stock of one company 😉

    JD (9d8cb8)

  46. “Before he became a polemicist, Krugman was a fairly well respected economist”

    aphrael – You are correct and his Nobel was based on his early work. I studied some of his writing on foreign exchange in grad school and used it as the basis for some papers. Now, his writing on economics is usually refuted by something else he has written within the prior two years. He has become a complete joke and political hack compared to what he was.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  47. “he still thinks humans are too stupid to make good decisions”

    If humans are too stupid to make good decisions, who is he putting in charge, Kanamits?

    tehag (fed264)

  48. “What do you call the period when you put democracy temporarily on hold then”

    The Bush administration?

    snips (6a0094)

  49. “The Bush administration?”

    Rock Solid – Good one, but there has been more Constitution bypassing under Obama than under Bush in spite of the lefty conventional wisdom. Thanks for playing.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  50. The Bush Obama administration?

    FTFY!

    (btw: love the hair today…. what’s your secret? %-)

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  51. here’s a question i’d love to hear him answer: how can he, as a human, decide that humans are too stupid to make important decisions? if his premise is true, he can’t make the call, and if he can, then his premise is disproved.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  52. “there has been more Constitution bypassing under Obama than under Bush”

    Or so the Christianist militia that got busted yesterday believes!

    snips (6a0094)

  53. Anyone else play Simearth, that Lovelock worshiping game?

    I used to build volcanoes and nuke them, just to see Gaia roll her eyes at me and ask “why did you do that?”

    I guess I was a weird kid. But that was an excellent game for weird kids. Lovelock’s is a cute trick. Personify a giant rock, and then take the personhood away from the actual people. When up is down and war is peace, you can get really rich selling carbon shares and earning grants from Uncle Sugar.

    As man made lethal global warming is more and more obviously bunk, the severity of the warnings has to increase to keep the sugar flowing into the bank accounts, which accelerates the loss of credibility, which increases the severity of the warnings, etc etc. It all started to fall apart years ago.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  54. “Or so the Christianist militia that got busted yesterday believes!”

    Rock Solid – I don’t know anything about them, but Obama’s horde of unconfirmed Czars certainly agree.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  55. 51.here’s a question i’d love to hear him answer: how can he, as a human, decide that humans are too stupid to make important decisions? if his premise is true, he can’t make the call, and if he can, then his premise is disproved.

    Comment by redc1c4

    Because he is not an ordinary human like others, but is superior to other humans, whether in intellect, strength of will, or some other notion of moral superiority.

    When “the one you’ve been waiting for” shows up, he/she will know what to do and will do it. Who are those stuck on old ideas, clinging to their religion, to challenge or even question those who are advanced and enlightened, who are truly modern, who have advanced, evolved to a higher sense of being (whatever that means).

    It doesn’t make logical sense any more than Adam thinking he knew better than God, but that doesn’t stop them from believing their own lie.

    MD in Philly (59a3ad)

  56. There’s been some research done in both cognitive psych and economics which suggests that humans have a tendency to undervalue long-term risks and overvalue short-term pleasure; this implies that humans in general have a tendency to make suboptimal long-term decisions.

    That’s what’s behind the argument that things like 401k should be opt-out rather than opt-in.

    No. What’s behind the argument that things like 401k should be opt-out rather than opt-in is the belief that certain people, people in government, are capable of making optimal long-term decisions while other people, people outside of government, are not.

    If humans in general suffer from a given shortcoming then government policy (made, after all, by humans) most also suffer from that shortcoming.

    Subotai (49d5f5)

  57. Why drop this line from the quote from Lovelock’s interview:

    “What’s the alternative to democracy? There isn’t one”

    There’s a new troll on town? One who can’t follow a link?

    Subotai (49d5f5)

  58. “What do you call the period when you put democracy temporarily on hold then”

    The Bush administration?

    Yeah, I remember how Bush suspended democracy, canceled elections, murdered Paul Wellstone, and put all the leftards in Gitmo.

    Even by the very low standards of lefty trolls, you’re a buffoon.

    Subotai (49d5f5)

  59. If humans in general suffer from a given shortcoming then government policy (made, after all, by humans) most also suffer from that shortcoming.

    I think that comports pretty well with my statement that:

    the exact same problem applies to those who would name themselves the guardians of the whole: if you replace democracy with rule-by-the-anointed, the anointed are going to be just as vulnerable to this problem as the masses are.

    Where you and I differ on this subject is that I have no objection to defaults being designed to encourage a particular long-term decision – in fact, I think that (a) it’s inevitable that any default will encourage some long-term outcome, and (b) it’s entirely reasonable to have that be default set by someone who thinks they know better than I do, as long as I have the option to make my own choice.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  60. You’re discussing Sunsteins “libertarian parternalism” here, right?

    it’s entirely reasonable to have that be default set by someone who thinks they know better than I do, as long as I have the option to make my own choice.

    As far as Lovelock, greenhouse gases and AGW are concerned, no opting out is to be permitted. That’s what the whole suspension of democracy is about. So whatever the merits of Sunsteins ideas, I don’t think they apply here.

    Subotai (49d5f5)

  61. Subotai: yes, I was using libertarian paternalism as an example of something reasonable motivated by the sense that humans are bad at long-term decision making, and contrasting it against things that have no opt-out provision, which (in my words) will “trample on the right of people to control their own destiny without solving the problem you are seeking to solve” because the anointed decision-makers will have the same short-term cognitive bias that the masses will.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  62. I used to wonder how any intelligent human being could effectively argue for fascism/socialism/totalitarianism

    Back in the 1930’s it was precisely the “intelligent” people who argued for these things. And from 1940 onwards it was the “intelligent” people who were communisms biggest fans.

    The intellectual class is just inherently anti-democratic.

    Subotai (49d5f5)

  63. “The intellectual class is just inherently anti-democratic.”

    Thank goodness the Founding Fathers were idiots, right Subtoy?

    snips (6a0094)

  64. Thank goodness the Founding Fathers were idiots, right Subtoy?

    they were “intelligent”, Rocky, as opposed to “intellectuals”, but then again, you are neither so the difference is likely lost on you.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  65. George Washington was certainly not considered an intellectual. His lack of higher education and the ability to speak French had some criticizing him and was something he himself was self conscious about. He was also deeply religious which would surely earn him the contempt of the intellectuals of today (like a certain former governor).

    Machinist (9780ec)

  66. “they were “intelligent”, Rocky, as opposed to “intellectuals””

    Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin weren’t intellectuals?

    snips (6a0094)

  67. When did Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin say they were more fit to rule then the common people and declare that Democracy should be suspended? I missed that.

    Machinist (9780ec)

  68. We’re talking about the Sarah Palin Right’s hatred of the Founding Father’s intelligence, Machinist.

    snips (6a0094)


  69. …democracy must be put on hold for the time being

    Because dictatorships have such a stellar record on environmental issues.

    And because this made up crisis is worse than anything the human race has ever faced before. Just like all the other made up crisis.

    Just once I’d like to hear from a humanitarian who doesn’t envision a totalitarian state with himself in charge.

    Chuck Roast (4fb3c2)

  70. There’s a woman on Jeopardy today who thinks you guys are morons. I agree. But, for political reasons you ignore facts and pretend that a guy who believes smoking isn’t bad for you has all the answers.

    Enjoy that pie.

    Intelliology (00d844)

  71. Machinist: I believe that was his point. That is, subotai claimed: “The intellectual class is just inherently anti-democratic.” snips put forward Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin as two intellectuals who were very democratic.

    Now, two examples aren’t enough to invalidate a general rule. But in this case I think they’re food for thought.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  72. A tangent but not really,

    the section concerning the “Grand Inquisitor” in “Brothers Karamozov” is related to this general discussion. Free people tend to often make bad mistakes and people suffer, out of compassion an onlooker would like to help. An onlooker with arrogance decides they know better about how the world should work, and they decide to make it happen, and grow angry when the created order doesn’t cooperate, especially those stupid people who don’t realize they are just being helped.

    MD in Philly (59a3ad)

  73. Intelliology, your continued lies hardly lead anyone to be impressed by your great intelligence. Lies you’ve been caught in repeated and yet continue.

    That’s why you have the reputation you do.

    SPQR (3944f2)

  74. aphrael ,

    Respectfully, I suggest he was trying to compare two intelligent and productive founders with the insulated and arrogant ivory tower intellectuals of today who think they should rule by virtue of their inherent superiority. I don’t find this valid. Both of the people he named were in fact well educated and intelligent but they were practical and productive men and did not assume they were fit to dictate to others.

    Machinist (9780ec)

  75. Machinist: it seems to me that you’re close to running into a tautology: “intellectuals are anti-democratic”; “those two people who weren’t anti-democratic aren’t what I mean by intellectuals“.

    So perhaps I should ask: how is the intellectual class defined such that Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are excluded?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  76. It is hardly a sign of good intention to take the phrase “intellectual class” used in today’s context and apply it to a period almost 250 years earlier when the words had a very different meaning. Consider how the word “liberal” has changed in that time.

    Machinist (9780ec)

  77. Lovelock believes democracy won’t work when it comes to big problems because people are too stupid to understand

    and yet on Who Wants To Be A Millionare, for the really hard questions, the contestant always asks the audience.

    papertiger (abb951)

  78. snipe fled when asked a few basic questions yesterday. He’s not here to debate or discuss. Just to snipe. He has no intellectual view that he’s willing to discuss. It’s just that he hates anyone who opposes Obama is [everything bad he can come up with]. Just another coward.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  79. aphrael,
    We cross posted. My last remark was not in answer to your question.

    I do not think the phrase “intellectual class” includes all people of intelligence any more than I think “political class” includes all people who run for office. People who believe that their education or superior intellect, as defined by them, sets them apart and makes them superior to those who are not members would be included. Perhaps one could include those who’s educational conditioning dominates their perception of reality as well. There were certainly people like this at the time who believed in the divine rule of kings or that the masses should be ruled by the elite. Even some of the founders could fit into that last group but I don’t think one could reasonably fit the two named individuals into it.

    Machinist (9780ec)

  80. Dustin: that may be, but I had considered posting the very same comment – what about Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin – but decided I didn’t have the time to write it up in a way that wouldn’t come across as flippant. :)

    I guess my question is: if you concede that Jefferson and Franklin weren’t anti-democratic, but you maintain that the comment that the intellectual class is inherently anti-democratic, then ISTM that you need to also believe one of these:

    (a) Jefferson and Franklin were wierd exceptions;

    (b) the intellectual class has somehow changed since the late 18th century.

    My suspicion is that most people who think that the intellectual class is inherently anti-democratic will tend towards believing (b) rather than (a).

    So: what is the change, and what do you think motivated it?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  81. aphrael ,
    Would you share your definition of the “intellectual class”? Would Reagan be included? Bill Clinton?

    Machinist (9780ec)

  82. aphrael #76 – Jefferson and *especially* Franklin would not consider themselves to be “intellectuals” – they had way too much justified-pride in themselves and their achievements in too many aspects of their lives to consider themselves as mere intellectuals …

    The classic “intellectual” has that as the main characteristic – and, sadly, often do little esle with their lives … and that was not at all true of either Jefferson or Franklin …

    Jefferson and Franklin both demonstrated with their own actions and efforts that they were worthy to lead others … can aphrael or Intelliology come up with any current or recent “intellectuals” whose actions are anywhere close ?

    Machinist – I’m not sure that there has even been a period in the history of the english language when “an intellectual” was used as a term of general respect …

    Nowadays, Stephen Hawkings is perhaps an intellectual that we respect … and I doubt that Hawkings would say that he should be leading anyone … most intellectuals, however, are, in the main, useful idiots

    Alasdair (dc755e)

  83. Dyslexics of the World, Untie !

    (blush)(sigh)

    else … else … else …

    Alasdair (dc755e)

  84. snips put forward Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin as two intellectuals who were very democratic.

    They were not intellectuals, any more than FDR and Reagan were.

    Subotai (699247)

  85. Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin weren’t intellectuals?

    No, you fatuous fool, they were not. Any more inane questions?

    Subotai (699247)

  86. Comment by SPQR — 3/30/2010 @ 4:45 pm

    I am comfortable with my reputation. Basically I catch you making really dumb statements backed up by nonsense, then you get all wadded up about it.

    Intelliology (00d844)

  87. #47-If humans are too stupid to make good decisions, who is he putting in charge, Kanamits?

    That is so funny you said that. I just watched the episode for the first time in many years this morning.

    For the uninitiated – To Serve Man

    Horatio (55069c)

  88. So perhaps I should ask: how is the intellectual class defined such that Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are excluded?

    How about “professonal men of letters”, to use the old-fashioned term. Or the modern sense, “one who makes his living by manipulating abstract ideas”.

    John Locke was an intellectual. Montesquieu was an intellectual. Jefferson and Franklin were implementers of the former two mens ideas. (As well as the ideas of several other intellectuals, e.g Hume, Bacon)

    Subotai (699247)

  89. Obviously, Intelliology, you are comfortable being known as a liar.

    That tells us a lot.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  90. #59 aphrael:

    I differ on this subject is that I have no objection to defaults being designed to encourage a particular long-term decision – in fact, I think that (a) it’s inevitable that any default will encourage some long-term outcome, and (b) it’s entirely reasonable to have that be default set by someone who thinks they know better than I do, as long as I have the option to make my own choice.

    As long as someone else is setting “defaults” to control your behavior, you do not have the option to make your own choice.As an example, take Kelso’s (Louis Kelso, like Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin, not an “intellectual,” but an intelligent, productive member of society) post WWII argument that education in this country should be oriented towards having everyone understand how the economic system of capitalism works, and who proposed creating an investor class made up of ordinary individuals.His ideas were shot down by the “intellectuals” of the day, who felt the great unwashed masses unsuitable for anything but being trained as workers to provide grist for the Unions and Big Business, and that their education should be so limited.As it happens, Kelso’s vision of an investor class composed of ordinary individuals has come to pass~the 401k being an example of the very instrument that has brought that about~but how much richer would the country, even the world be if the default decision about what comprises a suitable education had been made by someone else?

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  91. I am only a ‘liar’ in your own warped definition of it. I am 100% okay with being identified as a liar because I am expressing viewpoints based on facts that I have well documented. I think that says a lot about both of our characters, SPQR.

    Intelliology (00d844)

  92. “..I am expressing viewpoints based on facts that I have well documented…”

    Hmmm. I don’t want to pick a fight with you, but the record suggests otherwise.

    By the way, weren’t you banned? And for what?

    Eric Blair (ea0564)

  93. “I am comfortable with my reputation.”

    So was Lizzie Borden.

    GeneralMalaise (2bc526)

  94. #36 AD – RtR/OS!:

    Think of it as a dietary supplement for Southern Ocean denizens.

    That is still a whale of a lot of orca poop.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  95. No, Intelliology, you do not. This is an example of a flat-out lie: But, for political reasons you ignore facts and pretend that a guy who believes smoking isn’t bad for you has all the answers.

    There is no such “guy”.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  96. I am comfortable with my reputation. Basically I catch you making really dumb statements backed up by nonsense, then you get all wadded up about it.

    Comment by Intelliology

    I distinctly remember you making a specific claim about a statistic that was obviously radically wrong, and then insulting everyone who politely brought it up. You’re too insecure to just admit you stand corrected on some little point.

    That’s why people don’t treat you with respect, the way many liberals do get treated here. The fact that many on the left aggressively but honestly argue, and are treated well, is relevant. And you know it. I think, on global warming, you’re an excellent example of how screwed up the extremists have become.

    You really think we’re evil for not letting you lie to us.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  97. “Jefferson and Franklin were implementers of the former two mens ideas. (As well as the ideas of several other intellectuals, e.g Hume, Bacon)”

    I gotta disagree with you, Subtoy.

    As JFK said when addressing 49 Nobel Prize winners dining at the White House:

    “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

    Maybe reading some of Jefferson and Franklin’s works would change your mind about them.

    snips (6a0094)

  98. Well, actually Jefferson is pretty overrated. His performance during the American Revolution showed that he certainly had nothing like a surplus of personal courage, his behavior during the Washington administration and the following political campaigns showed his lack of personal integrity, and his performance as President showed how easily he shucked off his ideology.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  99. Hey, look who is back, with some more “rock solid” observations!

    Actually, I would love to quiz you about both Jefferson and Franklin. My guess is that you are just a Wikipedia kind of expert on those individuals.

    Eric Blair (ea0564)

  100. I saw where Jefferson was supportive of the French Revolution, whereas Adams said from the beginning it would come to a bloody end and unlike the US.

    MD in Philly (59a3ad)

  101. snips – With your rock solid prediction of a Democrat landslide in November, which seats do you see them taking? Please be specific.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  102. I can see why Sarah Palin cultists would get nervous around the topic of intelligence levels of politicians but knocking the Founding Fathers will just get you laughed at even more (if that’s possible).

    snips (6a0094)

  103. snips, Democrats put Joe Biden in the Vice Presidency.

    Nothing – absolutely nothing – you can say trumps that when it comes to intelligence of politicians.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  104. #105 SPQR:

    Nothing – absolutely nothing –

    would be funnier…if it were somebody else’s country!

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  105. snipper – Misogyny becomes you and your ilk, a recurring feature of today’s left.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  106. In some ways it’s fun to have a chew toy again, but snipper is just too easy. Can’t Axelrod find some better trolls?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  107. Since the major intellectual forces of the time are out tonight, I have a question:

    Why do so many smart people believe the science about AGW, but deny science when it comes to vaccines causing autism?

    Ag80 (f67beb)

  108. Ag80, always a good point and one that often reveals the elasticity of one’s devotion to “science”.

    The reality, Ag80, is that the AGW adherents don’t want to discuss the science. They want to run straight to ad hominem. Intelliology is really not even a good example, because he’s so incompetent at it. AGW skeptics are focused on the science, focused on the details of the data and the climate models. AGW adherents refuse to discuss the details, claim that they should just be trusted – even as they show they are not deserving of trust ( the behavior of the whole Hockey stick team who hide data and methodology and the East Anglia team illegally refusing information requests ) and just use namecalling as their arguments.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  109. “snips, Democrats put Joe Biden in the Vice Presidency.”

    Yeah, and Biden won.

    Pretty smart guy.

    snips (6a0094)

  110. “Pretty smart guy.”

    Rock solid snips – and Joe Biden. There is a matching set of IQ scores.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  111. snips said:

    Yeah, and Biden won.

    Pretty smart guy.

    Just like Dan Quayle. Pretty smart guys altogether. It’s nice to agree.

    By the way, how’s the dog? Haven’t seen him lately.

    Ag80 (f67beb)

  112. Meanwhile, more revelations from FOIA data dumps, NASA admits its temperature data worse than East Anglia CRU’s data. Comment by SPQR — 3/30/2010 @ 8:19 pm

    HA! I recall reading the comments not long ago of some nitwit into AGW who claimed the statistics from the CRU weren’t deserving of derison and skepticism (from skeptics and others) because — drum roll, please — the stats from NASA tended to back them up.

    A lot of the angst about global warming is merely a variation of so-called liberal guilt. But instead of the left feeling guilty about, say, slavery, imperialism, racism, sexism, etc, they feel guilty about greedy ol’ humans not being nicer and more loving towards Mother Earth.

    Mark (411533)

  113. CRU to NASA: “What do you mean, where are the keys to the car? I thought you had them.”

    NASA to CRU: “Me? I thought you had them.”

    CRU to NASA: “Dude, where’s my car?”

    SPQR (26be8b)

  114. LOL, plus it’s true.

    DRJ (daa62a)

  115. His best argument is ‘Joe Biden is a smart guy.’

    He’s saying some crazy crap about the founding fathers in a thread about how the left is calling for an end to democracy over some global warming hysteria.

    I am concerned we won’t win the elections we need. I hope people take to heart that it’s going to take a lot of work to harness the outrage. I hope as many people as possible are exposed to snipe and those like him before the next election.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  116. My guess is that you are just a Wikipedia kind of expert on those individuals.

    Rocky’s knowledge of everything seems to be Power Point deep, at best. if ignorance truly is bliss, s/he/it has to be one of the happiest entities in known space.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  117. “His best argument is ‘Joe Biden is a smart guy.’”

    Biden’s not a loser and he’s not a quitter.

    That makes him a smart guy.

    snips (6a0094)

  118. “Rock solid snips” is testing the depths of the troll bell curve.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  119. Indeed, snipe, Joe Biden swears he has a higher IQ than you!

    Hey, if you really think Joe Biden is more intelligent than Sarah Palin or John Mccain, that’s your dealio. I don’t really go around fawning over politicians like you do. You’re the one in the cult, not me. I could give a crap.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  120. Wait a minute.

    Hey, snips. Did you plagiarize that comment? Twice?

    And actually, snips, you have a lot in common with old Joe:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyEqyYUGk4I

    Notice how he has a veering relationship with the truth.

    I don’t think anyone voted for Biden, pal.

    Eric Blair (ea0564)

  121. Maybe you eat at the same restaurant as Joe, come to think of it.

    Eric Blair (ea0564)

  122. “Biden’s not a loser and he’s not a quitter.”

    Dude, how many times has he run for president and lost in the primaries or quit? D’oh!

    daleyrocks (718861)

  123. daley, I actually don’t the guy knows anything about Biden. I think he just sees “D” and that’s all he needs to know.

    That’s my “rock solid” opinion.

    Eric Blair (ea0564)

  124. i believe that the left so often resorts to personal attacts is because thier positions can not be defended by any logic or facts,hence the many stupid claims and lies about the data.

    clyde (d00e75)

  125. That makes him a smart guy.

    saying that makes you a fing moron….. again.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  126. As JFK said when addressing 49 Nobel Prize winners dining at the White House:

    “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

    Well, there you go then. If a Dem president heaps praise on the founder of the Democratic party it can be taken as conclusive proof that what he is saying is the pure unvarnished truth.

    This clown is managing to make me think kindly of imadimwit, and I didn’t believe that was possible.

    Subotai (9ce134)

  127. This is a fascinating discussion, in part because nobody – myself included – involved seems to have an adequate ready-made definition of the word ‘intellectual’, and in part because what people are saying demonstrate wildly different understandings of what the word might mean. There’s a lot of miscommunication exposed by this conversation, I think.

    I asked for a definition of intellectual, and was responded to with a request for my own – which is a fair request, but it’s a hard request, as deriving a definition from my intuitions is unusually difficult in this case. I spent a fair amount of time thinking about this last night, and what I eventually came to was this:

    an intellectual is someone who spends a large percentage of his time in the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge, and who acts on that pursuit and acquisition to either discover new facts or new theories which explain the world, and which contribute something new to the common body of knowledge.

    this definition would, I think, exclude both Reagan and Clinton, who were masterful communicators of ideas, great marketers of thought, but whose ideas were ultimately derived and reprocessed rather than innovated. it would clearly include Franklin; Jefferson is a more difficult case, and while on balance I think it would include him, I can see much room for debate. (The only other President I think qualifies is Wilson, and the only more-or-less contemporary politician I can state clearly qualifies for me is Moynihan).

    in part, i’m trying with this definition to draw a line around “intellectuals” to distinguish them from the “intelligentsia” — the much larger body of people who spend time with scientific and technical knowledge but who, at the end of the day, are working with existing ideas and not contributing new ones. Reagan and Clinton were part of the intelligentsia; most lawyers are; for that matter, I am. But that doesn’t make us intellectuals.

    One glaring flaw in my definition which I’m not happy with is that it seems to define ‘intellectual’ based upon the assessment other intellectuals make of one’s contribution, but that doesn’t seem quite right; scientific heretics whose ideas are rejected as wrong can still be intellectuals. Which means my definition needs more work, I think.

    I asked the OED what it thought – not because dictionaries are dispositive but because dictionary writers might have come up with something that proved to be useful food for thought – and came up empty; its noun definitions of intellectual tend to be things like “a person possessing or supposed to possess superior powers of intellect”, which I think is a superset of what I’m looking for. But I’ll come back to this definition in a bit as I think it sheds some light on the discussion.

    The two definitions of intellectual I’ve been able to infer from this conversation have been: (a) “Jefferson and Franklin can’t be intellectuals, just like FDR and Reagan weren’t” (see, eg #85), and “Jefferson and Franklin can’t be intellectuals because they were productive members of society” (see, eg, #91).

    The first of these is somewhat hard to parse, but I’m reading it as “Jefferson and Franklin can’t be intellectuals because they’re politicians”. I don’t accept that politicians are automatically excluded from the intellectual class, but even if they are, that exclusion doesn’t apply to Franklin. So I find the definition unhelpful.

    The second one is helpful and interesting, though. It seems to posit that intellectuals are distinct from productive citizens who think deeply about intellectual topics and use that thought to make a contribution to society. (I think this would exclude from the definition of ‘intellectual’ such people as Enrico Fermi, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Francis Crick, Bertrand Russell, and the like, all of whom are clearly ‘intellectuals’ to me). In essence, “intellectual class” as presented this way comes across as a parasitic class which spends its time thinking about abstract, meaningless things and makes no contribution back to the society upon which it is a parasite.

    The thing that I find most odd about that definition is that it doesn’t appear to apply to James Lovelock, who – while retired now – contributed an interesting theory about the way that the ecosphere can be analyzed as a complex system, and who – according to his wikipedia page – invented a tool whose use has been critical to our undertanding of the composition of the atmosphere. He can’t reasonably be described as a parasite who has contributed nothing; so, if that’s the definition in use, he’s not an example of the class in question.

    A related definition which my husband posited when I was talking to him about this last night was “they can’t be intellectuals because they were tradespeople”: eg, Franklin was a printer, and Jefferson an architect, and this means that they’re not intellectuals. (This case is stronger with respect to Franklin than with respect to Jefferson: on some level Jefferson was an aristocratic dilettante, not a tradeperson). At it’s bottom, this almost strikes me as being a class argument: working class people can’t be intellectuals; intellectuals are wealthy snobs.

    It’s sadly true that many intellectuals – and more of the intelligentsia – are snobs; but I don’t think that means that as a matter of definition a tradesperson can’t be an intellectual; I think the argument ends up being a kind of reverse snobbery that is ultimately unhelpful.

    Anyhow, I don’t know where this goes, other than we seem to be using wildly different definitions of intellectual, which makes it difficult to reach consensus on whether Franklin and Jefferson were exceptions to subotai’s rule that “the intellectual class is just inherently anti-democratic.”

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  128. I remember from my history books when scientists assured us they could breed better humans.

    I think perhaps I will take a pass on trusting this one assuring us they can “solve” climate change if we just surrender my freedom to them.

    Sam (8d373a)

  129. someone else is setting “defaults” to control your behavior,

    someone else is always setting the default. the default is “what happens if I do nothing”; definitionally, I don’t control that.

    that said, the default doesn’t control my behavior as long as I have the power to opt out and that power is easily exercised.

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  130. aphrael ,
    That was the kind of thoughtful and interesting point of view I was hoping for and expecting when I asked you about your definition. My respects, Sir.

    My main issue with your definition would be that it makes no distinction between someone who advances understanding through abstract reasoning like Einstein and someone who advances knowledge and understanding through exploration or experimentation like Edison. I think the former are intellectuals and the latter are usually not. When I used the word “productive” I was unclear but this was part of what I was trying to convey. I did not mean intellectuals do not contribute but men like Jefferson and Franklin seek knowledge for more practical reasons, they have a purpose in mind for the knowledge. Einstein was not seeking the secret of nuclear power or looking to discredit Newton, he was trying to understand the way nature worked in his field. He invented nothing but showed us our little room was not the universe but only a tiny corner of it. He thought up experiments but did not do them. Edison was not seeking to understand electricity, he wanted an electric light.

    My other issue would be that I am not sure it is correct to use “intellectual” and “intellectual class” interchangeably. I think that generally the intellectual class is indeed anti-democratic but I would not be comfortable saying that as a general statement about intellectuals.

    Thank you.

    Machinist (9780ec)

  131. My basic understanding is that intellectuals deal in abstract ideas that tend to advance knowledge.
    Whether or not their output advances the state of man is another matter entirely.

    AD - RtR/OS! (6f84de)

  132. Of course, once you decide on a definition of intellectual that is a generally good thing, conservatives are no longer anti-that-intellectualism.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  133. That sounds close but knowledge usually requires experimental verification. Einstein did not give us knowledge, at least until observation and experimentation verified his theories. From abstract concepts we can deduce relationships and implications. We may work out an understanding of the phenomenon, but we will not know if it is valid until it is tested. Einstein’s most amazing feat was too work out the Special Theory of Relativity without laboratory or experimental resources, just basic postulates and math. And an incredible intellect.

    I think his socialist and pacifist leanings certainly show he was not qualified to lead others, though.

    Machinist (9780ec)

  134. Dustin, this is why I distinguish “political class”. This to me means people who self identify as intellectuals and believe that puts them apart and above those not in the class. I don’t know that I would consider Franklin an intellectual though he was clearly brilliant. I certainly would not consider him in the intellectual class as defined here.

    Machinist (9780ec)


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