Archive for December 15th, 2009


How Føcked Are We?

December 15, 2009

Whee. This is clever, from Grist:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Tomorrow is likely to be a big day of demonstrations and protests. Police are clamping down pretty heavily. Naomi Klein is screeching about how American politicians shouldn’t even show up. And Christiania is being raided, only to be defended by young anarchists in black hoodies.


King of Night Vision

December 15, 2009

Glenn Beck has spectacular optics. His laser eyesight enables him to pierce the most muddled of issues. Here’s a video of him comparing the stonewalling of climate skepticism to the persecution that Galileo experienced. We’ve seen this comparison many times before, of course, but it seems so misplaced to me that I just have to note it again. It is true that Galileo was persecuted for trying to advance a theory that appeared to run at cross-purposes with entrenched power structures, but isn’t that about as far as this comparison goes?

Lots of people have noted the alleged dissimilarities between Galileo and the skeptics, observing that Galileo was a scientist and the people persecuting him were involved primarily in the church. The skeptics, they charge, aren’t really scientists. I suppose that’s a fair criticism, though I suppose the counter-charge is that the scientific establishment isn’t being terribly scientific, that they’re acting more like religious figures, prostrate to the gods of AGW.

Others have noted that persecution is a far cry from being stonewalled or having your research rejected by top journals. That may also be a fair criticism, depending on your views about the extent to which there was underhandedness in the peer-review process, and the extent to which the scientific journals are rigged to yield a particular result.  Maybe it is persecution to continually reject someone’s research.

But it seems to me that the most damning argument against this comparison is that it isn’t clear what criteria would make it apt. Isn’t it true that whenever someone takes on the establishment, she’s always in the position of underdog? That’s the definition of taking on the establishment. And isn’t it also true that whenever someone taking on the establishment tries to get her papers or her research through the establishment, she’s always disregarded for a while? That, too, seems inevitable.

If that’s true, then it’s hard to say what about this particular circumstance would make it just like Galileo’s circumstance. The dude was thrown to the wolves. He was put on trial for heresy, found guilty of heresy, imprisoned and held under house arrest, and his work was banned. That’s not at all like what’s going on in the climate debate.

Just a thought.

Incidentally, I hope nobody mentions to Glenn Beck, student of history, that one of the two plenary rooms at COP15 is the Tyco Brahe Plenary Hall. That’d certainly send the sun spinning recklessly around the earth.