Tuesday, March 20, 2018

I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who keep telling me it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis.

From "The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth." by Ann Althouse. She is highlighting the gross hypocrisy so prevalent and yet so unacknowledged among our chattering classes. A hypocrisy which allows the chattering classes to demand sacrifices of others for some perceived existential or moral goal while at the same time exempting themselves from that sacrifice.

Glenn Reynolds has a tag line which he uses with some frequency and which serves as an excellent cognitive screen to distinguish real crises from cosmetic crises:
I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who keep telling me it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis.
Reynolds counsel is a Tu Quoque informal logical fallacy but a statement can be true even if arrived at via non-logical means. "The sky is blue you devious, venal, pervert" is a logical fallacy and yet it remains true that the sky is blue.

In our modern, constantly connected, noisy, complex and increasingly centralized societies, there is a huge premium on bringing attention to whatever your cause might be through overstatement. Every issue is cast in apocalyptic, existential terms simply to get enough people to agree in order to sway the mob to direct action or to force the government to do the bidding of the advocates.

It is profoundly anti-democratic, indeed almost a form of distributed authoritarianism. Shouted emotionalism has displaced reasoned discourse and the pursuit of raw power has displaced the pursuit of truth. Such are the fruits of postmodernist thinking where the only thing that matters is power and there is no such thing as truth.

Anthropogenic Global Warming; White Supremacy; Rape Culture; Patriarchy; Systemic Racism; Income Inequality - all are nearly empty caricatures of underlying real issues. Real but materially different than characterized in the shouting match. Yes, we should be concerned about pollution, and group identities, and violence, and economic conditions, etc. But those realities are barely touched on in the emotional exaggeration.

Reynolds' adage is a useful heuristic to cut through the noise. It is hard not to observe that so many of the loudest champions of respectful sexual relations are also sexual predators. That so many of the most emotional advocates against racism are noxious racists themselves. That so many of the most vocal advocates for drastic climate policies are the very people generating the most pollution themselves from their own over-consumption of energy and resources. That most of those championing respect for Islam are also anti-semites.

And here is a very public example of this sort of chattering class hypocrisy. A champion of the AGW hysteria and advocate for people to have fewer children, consume less, and suffer reduced prosperity in the name of AGW policies is also the New York Times reporter leading a global junket of high paying tourists paying tens of thousands of dollars for a month of jetting in and out of remote locations. Hypocrisy, thy name is Nicholas Kristof.

From Ann Althouse.
How on earth — a place we've all been — did Nicholas Kristof think he could get away with that sanctimony?! DO NOT LECTURE US! Let your example come first, and then you can talk. You flew to Easter Island — you led a tour, enticing others to fly to Easter Island — so obviously, you think nothing of your carbon footprint or the carbon footprint of all those other people who jetted out there with you. When your actions are so radically different from your words, I don't believe your words. The depredations of global warming may be coming, but I don't believe that you believe it.

Yes, I know I have alternatives. It's possible that Kristof is an idiot, incapable of noticing or understanding the radical disconnect between his words and his actions. And it's possible that Kristof is a raging elitist, who thinks that he and his close associates needn't stoop to the hard work of self-limitation that he feels fully empowered to impose on others and who thinks that all the people whose opinion matters will share this despicable elitism.
Indeed, I'll believe AGW is a crisis when Kristof and the chattering class who keep telling me it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis. And, after all the persistent hypocrisy, perhaps not even then.

No comments:

Post a Comment