Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Both Sides Now

Sometimes, reading the comments on a very liberal site can be informative.

Tonight I was reading a Washington Post article, quite a reasonable one for the most part  -- well, except the usual nonsense of calling those of us who do not buy into the claims that global warming is man made, that it is accelerating catastrophically and must be fought with all our resources immediately, conspiracy nuts, but otherwise, pretty balanced -- arguing that Trump is playing to conspiracy theorists in the Republican party. Nothing I have not said myself.

However, in the comments I found this:
What's going on is that ever since the disaster of the Bush administration and the election of Barack Obama, the Republican Party has conspired to cause Obama's Presidency to fail, expecting the voters to turn to the GOP to make things right. When they failed achieve that, they ramped up the propaganda to make it seem like Obama's administration was a failure.

Truth is, the economic catastrophe of 2008 was followed by GOP intransigence against all progressive policies, but especially against fiscal stimulus. For instance, despite the extreme needs in a wide number of fronts, and excess capacity and low interest rates caused by the recession, infrastructure projects continue to be inadequately funded. Economists estimate that we need to spend $135B a year just to keep our public infrastructure from getting worse. But the thinking in the GOP is that such spending would help the Obama administration, so it is opposed.

These machinations are applied across a whole range of public policy. So, when Trump suggests "There's something going on," the conspiracy that he’s referring to originates within the Republican Party.
Now, this is interesting for many reasons, but mostly because it shows conspiracy theory can thrive on both sides of the aisle.

Let us look at several interesting aspects of this.

First, it is fascinating to see the left and right are not so different. The right often cannot accept the Democrats really do think they are helping or doing the right thing ("Technophobes and Conservatives -- The Risk of Assumptions", "The Futility of Blame", "Misguided, Deceptive or Evil?", "Tyranny Without Tyrants", "Three Versions of Evil and the Confusion They Cause", "Life Without Villains", "Enemies Into Villains", "Rethinking My Earlier Position", "A Small Digression", "The "Liberal Bubble" Becomes Universal" and "In Defense of Civil Debate".) and so either accuse them of actual malice, or, at best, of making a show to "feel good about themselves". Similarly, the left apparently cannot believe the Republicans are acting out of principle, it is all just a nasty plot to hurt Obama. SNDP. Same nonsense, different party.

The second interesting aspect is one that is purely left wing. The right, because the media is often left-leaning, understand the theories of the left, their economic and social beliefs, and so can understand when they act on those beliefs. Many may ascribe evil motives (as above), but we still know they are acting on principle.

Because there are many cities where it is possible to live in a liberal bubble, where everyone you meet shares your views, many on the left do not have this advantage. And we see it here. The writer cannot conceive of anyone not thinking "stimulus spending" is a good thing. To him it is completely obvious the stimulus spending is needed, and the right could only be opposing it out of malice. He seems to be unaware there even exist other schools of economic thought, some of which argue government stimulus spending is wasteful or even harmful.

Finally, to come back to my first point, it is more than amusing to find, following an article about Trump playing to right wing conspiracy nuts, an (admittedly mild) example of left wing conspiracy thinking. Does anyone really believe Republicans are sitting in congress, not trying to help their constituency, or to follow their beliefs they were elected to implement, but instead twirling their waxed mustaches and cackling over how they stopped Obama from making necessary stimulus plans? Really? If so, then they are as nutty as any birther.

As the title says, seems nuttiness is not limited to a particular political affiliation.


For the record, I want to list my "global warming" conspiracy beliefs.

1. Global warming did take place, though it has not been uniform and during some of the periods of peak attention actually saw some cooling
2. M&M's hockey stick graph is a fraud, for many reasons, but especially as it denies the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age for both of which we have historical proof
3. Current models fail to consider, or treat as insignificant, sun spots and other non-man made factors adequately
4. Current models overestimate the role of CO2 and water vapor
5. Current models are flawed as we simply do not know enough about CO2 sinks such as sea water
6. Current models overestimate positive feedback quite excessively and fail to consider possible negative feedback, such as increased plant grow
7. Current models cannot be run backwards to generate historical data, which suggests the model is incorrect
8. Insufficient account is taken of heat islands, or of differing accuracy of temperature proxies in older data
9. M&M should be ignored until they release their method and data which they have refused to do.
10. The "hottest year on record" claim is based on flawed proxy data that even some AGW supporters claim is pretty shaky

I could go on, but I think that covers the highlights. I am not denying the climate changes (it would be foolish to do so, it changes from day to night, winter to summer, and over longer spans, as we see in ice ages and warm periods). I do not believe any current warming trends are entirely man made, and I doubt the models for the reasons given. If someone could show me a model capable of running backwards and forwards with even modest accuracy, I would be much more happy with it. Right now, I will agree, temperatures may have been rising, though much was after the bulk of the industrial era (and another spike before), but the numbers are biased a bit by heat islands and better reporting in recent times, so we do not have good numbers for the degree of increase. In addition, assuming it is all or even mostly man made still needs to be proven, as models right now are inadequate and no other proof is offered. Not to mention the increases do not coincide smoothly with CO2 emissions, making it hard to argue from coincidence in time (which is, in truth, a pretty bad way to argue anyway).

There, that's my loony conspiracy theory. Make of it what you will.

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