Sunday, August 29, 2004

La Vanguardia is particularly bad today. Asshole Andy Robinson has a "news" piece from New Madrid, Missouri, in which he conclusively demonstrates that midwestern Americans are a bunch of ignorant fanatical Jesus freaks. I hope Andy makes fun of the wrong guy in the wrong bar around those parts. He also denounces those midwesterners who dare to go to the Republican convention in the holy city of Manhattan, where they obviously should stay out of since progressive New Yorkers don't want them around. They're so gauche, you see.

One Ramon Aymerich has an article that exemplifies a lot of typical Spanish bad logic and bad faith in argument. It's about Bjorn Lomborg, whose book is well worth reading.

"The case of the Dane Bjorn Lomborg must be unique in the field of social science. A statistician of vaguely environmentalist beliefs in his youth, Lomborg switched sides after reading the economist Julian Simon. He wrote three articles in which he denies several basic assumptions of environmentalism: global warming, the lack of biodiversity, and deforestation. Collected in the book "The Skeptical Environmentalist", they brought him to fame."

Yeah. Lomborg slaughters an awful lot of environmentalist sacred cows in his book, and he does it with the same numbers and the same studies the environmentalists use. He does not investigate or do research; he is not a scientist. What he does is examine whether the conclusions that environmentalists draw from said studies and numbers are legitimate according to the laws of statistics and probability. He demonstrates conclusively, in my mind, that the environmentalists' conclusions are generally bogus. Lomborg shows that the panic over global warming, dimunition of biodiversity, and deforestation is greatly exaggerated.

"From the beginning, Lomborg has gained the hate of the ecologists and the enthusiasm of the businessmen who contribute the most to global warming. His theses are tranquilizingly simple: the environmental apocalypse has been exaggerated, there's nothing technology can't solve, and the market will decide how urgent these problems are when their costs have been quantified..."

An extremely common argument around here is to call an argument you disagree with simple or simplistic. Lomborg's arguments are anything but. His book references hundreds of studies with thousands of footnotes. Lomborg does say that those environmentalists howling disaster are wrong. He emphatically does not say that there's nothing technology can't solve; he says that technology will solve some problems and create others. Duh. The whole point of new technology is to be able to do something you couldn't do before--that is, solve a problem. And Lomborg is absolutely right when he says that any government making environmental laws needs to look at the economic costs and benefits thereof. Also, note that Aymerich has already begged a question when he says that those businessmen who contribute most to global warming support Lomborg's analyses. No, no, first you have to prove that global warming a) exists and b) is a problem before you go around accusing people of profiting by it. That would get you flunked out of Introduction to Logic where I went to school.

"...What if Lomborg really isn't the convert he pretends to be? And what if he were merely a professional sophist whose discourse is used now from the neocons' trenches in order to pulverize three decades of environmental research?"

What if you, Mr. Aymerich, stopped assuming everything is a conspiracy? What if you didn't insinuate that people who disagree with you have been bought off by the powers that be? What if Mr. Lomborg is a honest man who actually believes his analyses are correct? And note that Mr. Lomborg's theses are based on the statistical analysis of the studies published during a lot more than three decades of environmental research. Lomborg does not attack the studies. He attacks those who draw unwarranted conclusions from the studies because they don't know jack-shit about statistics and probability.

"Just like the Bush administration has questioned birth-control policies because of their Malthusian connotations, Lomborg is useful now to settle accounts with books free of all suspicion such as "The Limits of Growth" by the Club of Rome (1972) or the Carter administration's Global 2000 report (1980). The ideological swing is so strong that Lomborg's adepts' crusade against the theory of global warming is very similar to that which the fundamentalists began twenty years ago against the theories of Darwin."

Note Mr. Aymerich's use of guilt by association. If you agree with Bjorn Lomborg, you're doing so for ideological reasons, you're some kind of anti-Darwin fundamentalist, and you most likely are going to vote for George Bush. Lomborg's whole point is that statistics have no ideology and that if anyone's been manipulating the facts for ideological reasons, it has been the people who have shouted that the sky is falling based on faulty conclusions drawn from ignorance of mathematics. Does anyone understand that line about Bush and Malthus, by the way? Also, just one more point: Global 2000 and "The Limits to Growth" have both been long since discredited, mostly because everything they predicted was wrong.

"Lomborg's relevance--you guessed it--is in the opportunism of his discourse in the middle of the debate over Kyoto and CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. But it is surprising and strange that the anti-Kyoto sectors don't make recourse to dissident scientists (there aren't any) to invalidate the theory of global warming, and on the other hand they get a statistician--something like the pharmaceutical industry's getting an industrial engineer to deny that AIDS existsd. Strange and surprising, but there it is: Lomborg, the man with the easy answers."

See? Lomborg's a creature of the evil corporations who want to stop the Kyoto accord. Well, first, the Kyoto accord has been dead ever since the U.S. Senate rejected it unanimously, 95-0, back in 1995. No significant nations have actually made any plans to meet its criteria. Second, there are plenty of scientists who disagree with the standard environmentalist doctrine on global warming. Third, it's cheating to compare global warming with AIDS; AIDS exists. You still have to prove that global warming exists and is significant, Mr. Aymerich. Fourth, I certainly would consult an industrial engineer if I were going to manufacture anti-AIDS drugs, just as I would consult a statistician if I were going to draw conclusions based on statistics. Fifth, notice how Mr. Aymerich insinuates again that Lomborg is part of a conspiracy.

Conclusion: Ramon Aymerich is unintelligent, a poor writer, a worse logician, dishonest in argument, ideologically biased, and a conspiracy nut. Par for the course in Spain.

Oh, just one more comment: Mr. Lomborg is openly gay. I just bet he's in league with those Christian fundamentalists.

No comments: