The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

James Manzi Will Regret This But Once, and That Will Be Continuously

Posted on | April 21, 2010 | 46 Comments

He has written a very dismissive attack on Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny. Levin will surely respond, as always, with overwhelming rhetorical force.

Manzi focuses his attack on Levin’s chapter about anthropogenic global warming (AGW), a topic on which Manzi considers himself something of a lay expert. While I have no personal quarrel with Manzi and have no interest in a detailed discussion of the scientific issues involved, let me explain the basis of my skepticism toward the climate-change alarmists, as I am sure many other conservatives share the same perspective.

In its basic outlines, the AGW panic combines the motifs of several previous liberal fear crusades, especially Paul Ehrlich’s “Population Bomb” scare of the late 1960s and the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s and ’80s. There is a distinct element of Malthusianism at the root of it, as well as the kind of transparent prejudice against Western capitalist society that motivated those who marched for a (unilateral) “nuclear freeze” and those who chained themselves to the gates at the Diablo Canyon project.

Ever since global-warming theory became a political controversy — in the 1997 ratification fight over the Kyoto Protocol – I have dismissed AGW as merely the latest manifestation of the same anti-Western doom-and-gloom hokum that liberals have peddled so often in my lifetime. That this gut-hunch reaction is not scientific, I readily admit, but I am one of those “men of untaught feelings” of whom Edmund Burke spoke, and have never subscribed to the Temple Cult of Scientism.

Furthermore, I have a stubborn resistance to bandwagon arguments cloaked in the trappings of prestige: “How can anyone possibly disagree with so many sophisticated experts?”

When the facts are clear and the logic is sound, there is no need to invoke prestige, and therefore whenever I hear such an argument, I instinctively suspect a scam is being perpetrated. Judging from the revelations at East Anglia, that suspicion was well-founded as regards AGW.

If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and AGW theory was — from the perspective of environmentalists — far too good to be true. So I think we can safely predict two things:

  • The entire pseudo-scientific edifice of AGW theory will eventually be proven utterly false; and
  • Mark Levin will soon pile onto Jim Manzi with a frightening ferocity.

Epistemic closure,” and all that.

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Comments

  • Joe

    The late Michael Crichton was great on this topic. He looked at the data and evidence, spoke with lots of experts on this topic and concluded:

    1) While there is global warming it is not as bad as people say.
    2) Some of it is manmade and most of it is natural.
    3) There is simply not a lot we can do about it other than switching from a carbon based economy, promoting nuclear, and reducing coal use. Which by the way the West is gradually doing all on its own. Until the economics demand it, people will continue to the use the lowest cost energy sources available. The developing world is much farther behind.

  • Joe

    The late Michael Crichton was great on this topic. He looked at the data and evidence, spoke with lots of experts on this topic and concluded:

    1) While there is global warming it is not as bad as people say.
    2) Some of it is manmade and most of it is natural.
    3) There is simply not a lot we can do about it other than switching from a carbon based economy, promoting nuclear, and reducing coal use. Which by the way the West is gradually doing all on its own. Until the economics demand it, people will continue to the use the lowest cost energy sources available. The developing world is much farther behind.

  • K

    One thing you need while sunk in the middle of a statist nightmare is your advocacy press to be debunking and publishing fratricidal attacks on pro liberty pundits. Maybe they should just bring back David Frum and be done with it.

    As for Manzi’s supposed knowledge of the subject, while he’s picking apart the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine petition, he forgets to mention that the IPCC reports are just as full of unqualified authors and non peer reviewed reports. And that the accurate quantitative connection of whatever warming there is (nobody seems to be able to put a “settled” number on it) to CO2 concentrations are mainly a matter of guess work and “send more money”.

    Maybe he’s the latest NRO mole angling for one of those high paying “pet conservative” posts at the NYT?

    As for NRO, with advocates like that, who needs the Washington Post?

  • K

    One thing you need while sunk in the middle of a statist nightmare is your advocacy press to be debunking and publishing fratricidal attacks on pro liberty pundits. Maybe they should just bring back David Frum and be done with it.

    As for Manzi’s supposed knowledge of the subject, while he’s picking apart the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine petition, he forgets to mention that the IPCC reports are just as full of unqualified authors and non peer reviewed reports. And that the accurate quantitative connection of whatever warming there is (nobody seems to be able to put a “settled” number on it) to CO2 concentrations are mainly a matter of guess work and “send more money”.

    Maybe he’s the latest NRO mole angling for one of those high paying “pet conservative” posts at the NYT?

    As for NRO, with advocates like that, who needs the Washington Post?

  • MrPaulRevere

    Well said K. Welcome to the reign of Lowry, where a solid conservative like Mr. Levin is basically called a ‘wingnut’. If I see more of this I can assure Rich Lowry I will”cancel my own damn subscription”.

  • MrPaulRevere

    Well said K. Welcome to the reign of Lowry, where a solid conservative like Mr. Levin is basically called a ‘wingnut’. If I see more of this I can assure Rich Lowry I will”cancel my own damn subscription”.

  • bruce

    Manzi is a techie nerd and once took on Derb mathematically re claims of evolutionary origin of ‘altruism’. Nice guy, I wrote to him with support and he kindly wrote back. I guess he is, just like Derb, subject to all the nerd caveats – too much in thrall of ‘elegant’ abstractions, minimising the vast uncertainties resulting from politicisation.

    He and another Corner contributor were always AGW fans, and I guess he’s been holding back his bitterness over the recent collapse of public support, till the dam burst.

    I didn’t see any real substance in his piece. Just that he doesn’t follow the broader debate and feels affronted by Levin.

    I stopped regularly reading Corner when Derb did his anti-religion prima donna aria a few years back. I mean, Karen Armstrong? And ‘altruism’ from Darwinian evolution? The vague ‘scientific’ definition of altruism they use includes even the Nazis because of their mutual support for each other.

  • bruce

    Manzi is a techie nerd and once took on Derb mathematically re claims of evolutionary origin of ‘altruism’. Nice guy, I wrote to him with support and he kindly wrote back. I guess he is, just like Derb, subject to all the nerd caveats – too much in thrall of ‘elegant’ abstractions, minimising the vast uncertainties resulting from politicisation.

    He and another Corner contributor were always AGW fans, and I guess he’s been holding back his bitterness over the recent collapse of public support, till the dam burst.

    I didn’t see any real substance in his piece. Just that he doesn’t follow the broader debate and feels affronted by Levin.

    I stopped regularly reading Corner when Derb did his anti-religion prima donna aria a few years back. I mean, Karen Armstrong? And ‘altruism’ from Darwinian evolution? The vague ‘scientific’ definition of altruism they use includes even the Nazis because of their mutual support for each other.

  • MIke

    Wasn’t Manzi the one on NRO who kept insisting that conservatives should accept AGW as a fact but instead argue over how to deal with it? I guess that’s the Frum/Bush administration strategy, surrender on “controversial issues” and hold what little ground you can. Of course, Manzi now looks like a complete fool with the fact that AGW is a hoax as we now clearly see thanks to the IPCC emails.

  • MIke

    Wasn’t Manzi the one on NRO who kept insisting that conservatives should accept AGW as a fact but instead argue over how to deal with it? I guess that’s the Frum/Bush administration strategy, surrender on “controversial issues” and hold what little ground you can. Of course, Manzi now looks like a complete fool with the fact that AGW is a hoax as we now clearly see thanks to the IPCC emails.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.wordpress.com Bob Belvedere

    In all fairness, Kathryn Jean Lopez and Andrew McCarthy have come down hard on Mr. Manzi – so far [the day is young].

    As my readers well know, I’m in favor of overthrowing ‘Twinkle Toes’ Lowry and replacing him with Jonah Goldberg, but The Corner has a good number of solid conservatives including Mr. McCarthy, Mark Steyn, Mark Levin, Victor Davis Hanson, and Michael Ledeen.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.wordpress.com Bob Belvedere

    In all fairness, Kathryn Jean Lopez and Andrew McCarthy have come down hard on Mr. Manzi – so far [the day is young].

    As my readers well know, I’m in favor of overthrowing ‘Twinkle Toes’ Lowry and replacing him with Jonah Goldberg, but The Corner has a good number of solid conservatives including Mr. McCarthy, Mark Steyn, Mark Levin, Victor Davis Hanson, and Michael Ledeen.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.wordpress.com Bob Belvedere

    Lowry delanda est!

  • http://thecampofthesaints.wordpress.com Bob Belvedere

    Lowry delanda est!

  • Lazarus Long

    “I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.
    Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

    -Michael Crichton

  • Lazarus Long

    “I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.
    Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

    -Michael Crichton

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  • wildman

    Science is the search for the truth. environmentalism is the search for grants, control and a sense of self worth. I do belive we have heard enough from the fraudsters and whiners about how the earth will be destroyed. Their manipulation of the math and the endless chorus from the media is getting old. If there is one consolation, when the next major event takes place (Think Toba, Yellowstone, Cumbra de veiljo) these folks will be the first to go.

  • wildman

    Science is the search for the truth. environmentalism is the search for grants, control and a sense of self worth. I do belive we have heard enough from the fraudsters and whiners about how the earth will be destroyed. Their manipulation of the math and the endless chorus from the media is getting old. If there is one consolation, when the next major event takes place (Think Toba, Yellowstone, Cumbra de veiljo) these folks will be the first to go.

  • http://www.harlemghost.blogspot.com Jeff

    I smell a possible Frumming of Manzi in the future …

    Yes, he’s one of those AGW conservatives that refuses to do any critical independent thinking on the subject …

    He’s JUST NOW reading Levins book ? Gee, talk about a day late …

    NRO is always in danger of slipping into an elitist circle jerk being staffed by way too many academic writers with no real world experience … many of them sound so high minded but you aren’t sure you want to share a foxhole with them.

    Just try and read “The Agenda” and not have to use thesaurus for the obscure words and Wiki to look up all of the “experts” cited, most of whom turn out to be expert writers about their subject and not much else …

    All to often the NRO writers refuse to fight lefist fire with fire and fall back on “but we have the facts on our side” when the battle in the media is not fact based.

    They hated the Palin “Death Panel” debate because they felt she was overstating the issue to get coverage. Well, duuuuuh … she got coverage and more importantly she got the debate going, something that the eggheads at NRO can never seem to manage within the larger MSM. Yes, they get invited to appear on FOX once in a while but nowhere else generally.

  • http://www.harlemghost.blogspot.com Jeff

    I smell a possible Frumming of Manzi in the future …

    Yes, he’s one of those AGW conservatives that refuses to do any critical independent thinking on the subject …

    He’s JUST NOW reading Levins book ? Gee, talk about a day late …

    NRO is always in danger of slipping into an elitist circle jerk being staffed by way too many academic writers with no real world experience … many of them sound so high minded but you aren’t sure you want to share a foxhole with them.

    Just try and read “The Agenda” and not have to use thesaurus for the obscure words and Wiki to look up all of the “experts” cited, most of whom turn out to be expert writers about their subject and not much else …

    All to often the NRO writers refuse to fight lefist fire with fire and fall back on “but we have the facts on our side” when the battle in the media is not fact based.

    They hated the Palin “Death Panel” debate because they felt she was overstating the issue to get coverage. Well, duuuuuh … she got coverage and more importantly she got the debate going, something that the eggheads at NRO can never seem to manage within the larger MSM. Yes, they get invited to appear on FOX once in a while but nowhere else generally.

  • http://kingshamus.wordpress.com/ KingShamus

    Jim Manzi also has a weird man-crush for St. Andrew Sullivan of the Sacred Power-Glutes, so he’s also got that going for him.

  • http://kingshamus.wordpress.com/ KingShamus

    Jim Manzi also has a weird man-crush for St. Andrew Sullivan of the Sacred Power-Glutes, so he’s also got that going for him.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.wordpress.com Bob Belvedere

    Mark Levin replies.

    Oh! The carnage!

  • http://thecampofthesaints.wordpress.com Bob Belvedere

    Mark Levin replies.

    Oh! The carnage!

  • http://thecampofthesaints.wordpress.com Bob Belvedere

    For good measure, Andrew McCarthy attacks from the flank.

    It’s Cannae redux!

  • http://thecampofthesaints.wordpress.com Bob Belvedere

    For good measure, Andrew McCarthy attacks from the flank.

    It’s Cannae redux!

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  • http://www.andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com Andrew Sullivan

    Jim Manzi Is A “Global Warming Zealot”?!
    22 Apr 2010 04:22 pm
    Yes, Jim Manzi, one of the most effective, data-driven critics of cap and trade is described thus on Mark Levin’s Facebook page and all Levin’s fans congratulate him for smacking down a “liberal” and an “eco-Marxist”!

    So there you have it. When someone like Manzi is a left-wing zealot, then the right has simply ceased to be in any way rational. The circle has closed.

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  • http://www.andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com Andrew Sullivan

    Jim Manzi Is A “Global Warming Zealot”?!
    22 Apr 2010 04:22 pm
    Yes, Jim Manzi, one of the most effective, data-driven critics of cap and trade is described thus on Mark Levin’s Facebook page and all Levin’s fans congratulate him for smacking down a “liberal” and an “eco-Marxist”!

    So there you have it. When someone like Manzi is a left-wing zealot, then the right has simply ceased to be in any way rational. The circle has closed.

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  • http://www.kloognome.com Rob Crawford

    Ah, the “true conservatives” Sullivan and Cole have ridden to Manzi’s rescue!

    Good Lord, he may as well stomp off to the left in a huff now.

  • http://www.kloognome.com Rob Crawford

    Ah, the “true conservatives” Sullivan and Cole have ridden to Manzi’s rescue!

    Good Lord, he may as well stomp off to the left in a huff now.

  • JerBeck

    You lost me at: “… I have … no interest in a detailed discussion of the scientific issues involved”. It’s because you refuse to acknowledge science that you are on the incorrect side of this issue.

  • JerBeck

    You lost me at: “… I have … no interest in a detailed discussion of the scientific issues involved”. It’s because you refuse to acknowledge science that you are on the incorrect side of this issue.

  • cbp

    It’s very good that you admit that your views on global warming are based on gut-reaction and politics rather than fact, logic and science.

    If only more sceptics would admit this we could all get on with things.

  • cbp

    It’s very good that you admit that your views on global warming are based on gut-reaction and politics rather than fact, logic and science.

    If only more sceptics would admit this we could all get on with things.

  • http://theothermccain.com Robert Stacy McCain

    You lost me at: “… I have … no interest in a detailed discussion of the scientific issues involved”. It’s because you refuse to acknowledge science that you are on the incorrect side of this issue.

    JerBeck, I don’t “refuse to acknowledge science,” it’s just that I’m not so vain as to suppose anyone wants to read me pretending to be an expert on this subject.

    In fact, I believe one of the reasons that so many non-scientists (e.g., Al Gore) enjoy promoting AGW is that it provides them the experience of vicarious expertise — they get to pose as experts by parroting “science” that they didn’t do themselves and don’t really have the background to understand.

    It’s a familiar pattern. Back in the Freudian heyday, the field of psychology attracted a lot of these amateur experts, endlessly chattering second-hand nonsense about “syndromes” and “complexes,” etc. Perhaps you would benefit by reading Randall Jarrell’s Pictures from an Institution, a dead-on satire of that kind of intellectual pretension. For that matter, Nabokov’s Lolita has a lot of satire along the same lines, and not coincidentally so, as Nabokov and Jarrell both worked within the same collegiate millieu, among the same kind of pompous frauds. There is nothing new under the sun.

  • http://theothermccain.com Robert Stacy McCain

    You lost me at: “… I have … no interest in a detailed discussion of the scientific issues involved”. It’s because you refuse to acknowledge science that you are on the incorrect side of this issue.

    JerBeck, I don’t “refuse to acknowledge science,” it’s just that I’m not so vain as to suppose anyone wants to read me pretending to be an expert on this subject.

    In fact, I believe one of the reasons that so many non-scientists (e.g., Al Gore) enjoy promoting AGW is that it provides them the experience of vicarious expertise — they get to pose as experts by parroting “science” that they didn’t do themselves and don’t really have the background to understand.

    It’s a familiar pattern. Back in the Freudian heyday, the field of psychology attracted a lot of these amateur experts, endlessly chattering second-hand nonsense about “syndromes” and “complexes,” etc. Perhaps you would benefit by reading Randall Jarrell’s Pictures from an Institution, a dead-on satire of that kind of intellectual pretension. For that matter, Nabokov’s Lolita has a lot of satire along the same lines, and not coincidentally so, as Nabokov and Jarrell both worked within the same collegiate millieu, among the same kind of pompous frauds. There is nothing new under the sun.

  • http://theothermccain.com Robert Stacy McCain

    It’s very good that you admit that your views on global warming are based on gut-reaction and politics rather than fact, logic and science.

    As if facts accumulated over the course of a half-century of life don’t inform my gut-reaction? Besides which, I aced logic in college and need no lessons from anonymous trolls.

    To deride skeptics as “anti-science” is to ignore the fact that the history of science is littered with erroneous theories that were once as widely accepted — if not more so — than AGW theory is today. In a previous comment, I referenced the “Freudian heyday” as an example. For decades, it was nearly universally believed that serious mental illnesses were the product of “Oedipus complexes” and other such tommyrot, whereas now these diseases are recognized as symptomatic of dysfunctional brain chemistry.

    You can go through every scientific discipline, from astrophysics to zoology, and find similar cases of erroneous theories that once enjoyed tremendous prestige. And, for all we know, much of what is even now considered scientifically “proven” will one day be falsified by further research. AGW acolytes seem to believe that the most accepted science is automatically the most accurate science. Such a belief is not scientific; it’s actually more like superstition.

    Can carbon-dioxide emissions cause global warming? I grant the possibility. Does this possibility require me to reject alternative explanations and to blindly endorse the catastrophic prophecies of AGW cultists? I think not.

    Your lack of skepticism toward AGW theory suffices as proof of the scientific axiom that there is a sucker born every minute.

  • http://theothermccain.com Robert Stacy McCain

    It’s very good that you admit that your views on global warming are based on gut-reaction and politics rather than fact, logic and science.

    As if facts accumulated over the course of a half-century of life don’t inform my gut-reaction? Besides which, I aced logic in college and need no lessons from anonymous trolls.

    To deride skeptics as “anti-science” is to ignore the fact that the history of science is littered with erroneous theories that were once as widely accepted — if not more so — than AGW theory is today. In a previous comment, I referenced the “Freudian heyday” as an example. For decades, it was nearly universally believed that serious mental illnesses were the product of “Oedipus complexes” and other such tommyrot, whereas now these diseases are recognized as symptomatic of dysfunctional brain chemistry.

    You can go through every scientific discipline, from astrophysics to zoology, and find similar cases of erroneous theories that once enjoyed tremendous prestige. And, for all we know, much of what is even now considered scientifically “proven” will one day be falsified by further research. AGW acolytes seem to believe that the most accepted science is automatically the most accurate science. Such a belief is not scientific; it’s actually more like superstition.

    Can carbon-dioxide emissions cause global warming? I grant the possibility. Does this possibility require me to reject alternative explanations and to blindly endorse the catastrophic prophecies of AGW cultists? I think not.

    Your lack of skepticism toward AGW theory suffices as proof of the scientific axiom that there is a sucker born every minute.

  • http://www.populartechnology.net Poptech

    Manzi has been thoroughly refuted,

    NRO’s Manzi Mischaracterizes Global Warming Debate
    http://www.heartland.org/environmentandclimate-news.org/article/27646/NROs_Manzi_Mischaracterizes_Global_Warming_Debate.html

  • http://www.populartechnology.net Poptech

    Manzi has been thoroughly refuted,

    NRO’s Manzi Mischaracterizes Global Warming Debate
    http://www.heartland.org/environmentandclimate-news.org/article/27646/NROs_Manzi_Mischaracterizes_Global_Warming_Debate.html

  • WestieBestie

    I’m late to this, have had to try to make a living….good job Stacy on the NRO flacker vs Mark Levin vs Sully/pull my pud bud!

    Stacy, you have the moxie combined with that gracious ability that many thinking southerners use so effectively on these lightweight poofs from Yankeeville….aka Obama Land.

    We have these Tools & Fools on the run, soon we will send in the Cavalry and roll up their flanks!

  • WestieBestie

    I’m late to this, have had to try to make a living….good job Stacy on the NRO flacker vs Mark Levin vs Sully/pull my pud bud!

    Stacy, you have the moxie combined with that gracious ability that many thinking southerners use so effectively on these lightweight poofs from Yankeeville….aka Obama Land.

    We have these Tools & Fools on the run, soon we will send in the Cavalry and roll up their flanks!