Archive for October 6th, 2009



October 6, 2009

What in the name of Holy Bobo paradise is self-anointed philosopher-chieftain David Brooks talking about?  Anyone?  I’ve read this twice now and I still have no idea.  One thing is clear: it has nothing to do with Bentham or Hume.

I sure hope he’s not intimating that we should create institutions that give the Orwellian impression that every move of ours is being watched, that no misdeed will go unseen or unpunished.  I also hope he isn’t suggesting that we itemize all pains and pleasures and tabulate them on some twisted Sadian ledger.  Even Mill could improve on that tragic oversimplification.  If that’s what Brooks wants, I hate to disappoint him.  On the other hand, I suppose it’s true that I’d rather be Brooks dissatisfied, than a pig satisfied… so maybe he’s onto something.

Oh, right, David Brooks has repeatedly demonstrated that he has no idea about philosophy.


Bosh, Squared

October 6, 2009

My dear colleague Roger Pielke Jr. had this offhand remark on his blog yesterday:

Of course evaluating scientific arguments according to their perceived political implications happens all the time, but rarely do you see a scientist admitting as much publicly….

You should read his very short post for more.  He basically distills this conclusion from the following quote by Wallace Broecker, plucked out of a San Francisco Chronicle article:

“I think it’s a bunch of bosh,” said Wallace Broecker, a professor at Columbia University. Broecker said he worried that the idea of pre-modern people as carbon emitters would turn into an argument that the modern world need not worry so much about its own pollution. “I get really upset with him because people who oppose global warming (legislation) can use this as some dodge.”

Whoa, horsey.  Roger’s is not necessarily the correct interpretation of Broecker’s statement. Broecker can obviously identify the political implications of Ruddiman’s hypothesis and also impartially evaluate the scientific arguments. I can say, for instance, that I think the anti-nuclear crusaders are throwing up a bunch of objections that will have the undesired effect of undermining policy responses advocated by people like Socolow and Pacala, while also saying that their objections have no scientific merit.  Can’t I?  Matter of fact, I might be more inclined to look to the political implications if I think that the objections they’re throwing up have no scientific merit.


Milky Serial

October 6, 2009

The French are at it again.  This time they’ve pissed off the Walloons.  And you know what happens when you piss off the Walloons?

A giant spritzer of milk on your riot shield, that’s what.

At least it’s warm.