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Latham on denialism

Mark Latham makes an interesting commentary on the origins of the prevailing foolishness of climate denialism:

“In the climate change debate, we are witnessing a puzzling shift in the foundations of public reason – the emergence of what might be thought of as anti-enlightenment. It is no longer sufficient for a large majority of scientists to compile the evidential facts of a matter and expect the public to accept them at face value. Other, more powerful influences are at work”.

He is right that denialists reject consensus science. However contrary to his claims – and those he cites of Robert Manne –  I do think a substantial component of the denialist position is a tribal barbarism and it is stupidity.  Indeed how can you engage in an anti-enlightenment thinking and be a rational respondent?  Consider poor old Rafe at Catallaxy. Since he got kicked off Troppo for his meandering, tedious posts he has felt the need to reaffirm his ignorance on the subject of climate whenever that is possible. Its almost ‘you can’t deflect me from pursuing my own stupid course. I’ll be as stupid as I want!’ This is his latest of his incoherent posts – the discussion thread is interesting since it shows (with a couple of exceptions) that the feeble-minded have a natural tendency to cluster.  The stream of illogic is as bad as anything I have seen for quite a while. It is simple stupidity since it involves a consistent rejection of science with ad hoc individual views offered by the entirely uninformed as a substitute for knowledge based on evidence and reflection.

151 comments to Latham on denialism

  • Jim Rose

    Rog, I assume you are referring to the macroeconomics of Friedman.

    Let’s assume you are right – that the macroeconomic ideas of Friedman are long-dead! What would that mean if these ideas of his have long had no influence?

    – It would make you are point-man for Freidman whenever he is blamed for the global economic crisis because his influence died out long ago.

    – Friedman would not be the architect of neoliberalism horrors that beset us on the macroeconomic front at least. You cannot blame his long-dead ideas for the present discontents.

    Who should be in the dock in Friedman’s place? New Keynesian macroeconomics?

    Larry Summers’ statement that “Any honest Democrat will admit that we are now all Friedmanites …He has had more influence on economic policy as it is practiced around the world today than any other modern figure” was misguided or limited to his microeconomics, alas, no. summers went on to say:

    “Mr. Friedman is perhaps best known for his views on money and monetary policy. Fierce debates continue on how the Federal Reserve and other central banks should set monetary policy.

    But the debates take place within the context of nearly total agreement on some basics: Monetary policy can shape an economy more than budgetary policy can; extended high inflation will not lead to prosperity and can lead to lower living standards; policy makers cannot fine-tune their economies as they fluctuate.”

    Summers also said that “No contemporary economist anywhere on the political spectrum combined Mr. Friedman’s commitment to clarity of thought and argument, to scientifically examining evidence and to identifying policies that will make societies function better.”