Monday, May 25, 2015

Critiques of Pure Arrogance Intellectual or Political?

by Gary Berg-Cross

Disciplined insincerity & confident ignorance are already evident in this spectacle we call the primary season.  Well it’s still the money primary I guess, but there is a steady effort to test market ideas for the later campaigns. It’s already evidenced an unhealthy dose of arrogance to go along with the insincerity & ignorance (not to mention those flashes & dashes of egoism, conceit, intolerance, sub-surface anger, quarter truths, & light, gossipy slanders.  

I’m thinking of, for example, of Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s sharp-tongued & perhaps dimmer-witted comments.  These started at the winter meeting of the free market Club for Growth winter economic conference in February.  It was a good time to be Palm Beach, but perhaps too comfy an environment for well-reasoned arguments. I’m already tired of people who want-to-be-in-charge of things saying “I’m not a scientist” followed by an awkward opinion that back hands real scientific understanding out of the conversation. In Jeb’s case it was his opinion about climate change, an important topic for Florida and the rest of the world.  Ok, so you are not a scientist or an economist but why not get informed?  There are advisors.

Perhaps we can be disappointed but not surprised with the opinion, since he is very much a politician fitting George Bernard Shaw comment in Major Barbara :

“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points
 clearly to a political career.” 

But it gets worse, because Jeb was just starting on the not-being-humble path. More recently in New Hanpshire he upped the attack as one sees from the headlines:

It is one thing to be “not a scientist” (Re climate change.) and another to attack scientists for their inconvenient evidence, if not a good approximation of reality.  Why are they not to be believed?  Well their explanations are too complicated – he used the more manipulative work “convoluted” in comments reported by CNN.  Then we have the pithy punch:

“For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you,” ... “It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

Well I think that was a swing at President Obama as much as at Science. He’s speaking up.  But it is easy to believe that the arrogance (perhaps anti-intellectual arrogance in this case) really dwells in those politically conservative people.  Sure, one can perceive strength as arrogance in fact-based people, who are right but the not believed. They have a lot to go on. Evidence-based belief comes from the various climate scientists who actively publish research, 97 percent agree that humans cause climate change. Further the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
leveraging research  from ~ 800 climate experts across the globe,  concludes that  it is at least 95 percent likely that human activities are the main cause of atmospheric and ocean warming since the 1950s. Scientists speak in probabilities, how’s that for arrogance?  Well pulling math on you seems arrogant to some, I guess.

I think that the more dangerous arrogance is this.  It is the acted upon and emotion-centered belief of people who are wrong on the evidence (see above), don’t like testing evidence (what is the trend for the next decade?) and for one reason or another can't face this reality and projected reality.  This type of arrogance is manifested in Jeb's attack on the evidence based community and is especially true of political leaders who need to comfort the flock.

Unfortunately, this is just an early, primary season example of the attack on intellect, facts and critical thinking. We are likely to have more as part of 2015-16 silly season. I know that I will still be upset when I see  how many hands get raised this year when the candidates are asked about their belief/non-belief in evolution. Sort of a reverse American Exceptionalism demonstration.

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