As one of only a handful of elite contributors to the letters to the editor, I’m in a position to say, the non-elites are full of baloney. They’ve made quick work of dividing and conquering themselves this time.
Perhaps the “elite” we’re really talking about are more like Josh Hawley. Bogusly portraying a highly qualified Supreme Court nominee as a proponent of child pornography. Waving a big red flag for QAnon, now apparently mainstream Republican ideology. At the same confirmation hearing Republicans made a production out of promising would be “respectful” and “dignified.” Or, Tom Cotton “elite,” who claimed Ketanji Brown Jackson would have defended Nazis at the Nuremberg trials. Or maybe Ted Cruz, sucking everybody’s air, time, and brain cells, by accusing the Georgetown Day School of teaching critical race theory. Asking whether she agreed “babies are racist,” demanding a response. Performative, fake, baloney for the rube “base” aside,” that’s just his day job. In real life, Ted prefers his kids to attend St. John’s. The elite Houston prep school from the movie “Rushmore,” boasting a similar “Statement on Community and Inclusion.”
Skeptics interpret every discussion of climate change as a desire to argue the specific points of climate science. I said climate change exists, the evidence is overwhelming, and it’s a fact according to scientific consensus. I don’t control when the radical Right rails endlessly against the established science, day after day, letter after letter. It is fascinating they feel so compelled, but it isn’t important to my argument.
I argue because the Right thinks they know everything about climate and every other subject, they care less for the truth than justifying their preconceived beliefs, or whatever it is they feel like doing. Relying on phony, pre-fab, fallacious arguments rather than facts and reality. They aren’t interested in dialogue. It isn’t curiosity or the desire to learn and understand that drives them, or any intention of solving problems. They grandstand, obstruct, and obscure because, so often, they can’t make a legitimate argument fit.
They’re enjoying the argument they wish I was making. Maybe sometime they’ll address my point, or move on to the other topics in my letter. Presumably, as I was saying, they haven’t yet been informed of their opinions. No surprise they ignored January 6th, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Ukraine. Nothing to see there. Better to attack, and meanderingly ignore, a subject that, at present, is thoroughly understood to the best of human ability. Knowing the current Republican platform amounts to mud-slinging, culture wars, and vapor.
My letter was about “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” in the Republican Party. It’s in the title. If I wanted to argue climate science, I wouldn’t take it on in the letters to the editor. There’s too much evidence. I accept the science. Like the rest of the world. Everyone, except for a dwindling few conservatives, who prefer collecting scraps of information to support fallacious selective observations to defend their preferred views, or cherry-picking. Described centuries ago by Francis Bacon, “counting the hits and forgetting the misses.”
In his paper, “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection,” Carl Sagan chose another quote from Francis Bacon to describe our human tendency to come up with every possible argument in defense of what we’d rather believe.
The human understanding is no dry light, but receives an infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called “science as one would.” For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride, lest his mind should seem to be occupied with things mean and transitory; things not commonly believed, out of deference to the opinion of the vulgar.
Sagan’s paper is chockfull of examples of the lazy, fallacious arguments proudly used by the Right-wing media and their disciples. While today’s Republicans wear their failure of logic and rational argument as a “non-elite” insignia. “Whataboutism,” is one example. A twist on the old tu quoque fallacy, a variation of ad hominem. Basically, attacking someone else’s idea using a perceived or assumed false equivalency — a transparently illegitimate argument linked to Soviet propaganda techniques used during the Cold War. Republicans have, of course, pushed back, defending “whataboutism,” believing it their God-given right to “ask questions,” which, nobody tried to deny them in the first place. It becomes obviously phony when overused by Republicans to defend ridiculous ideas, or in the laziest possible way, demonstrating no interest in the truth.
Most people recognize that while science is ever-evolving and isn’t 100% accurate, scientific consensus is still the best way we have of knowing things. Sagan put it this way, “But it can’t be that what feels good is what we should believe because all sorts of deception lies down the road. It has to be what’s true is what we believe, and the only way humans have figured out to find out what’s true is science.”