On knowing a man by his friends

Mr Eugenides is an extremely offensive and ranty, but also highly entertaining and generally honest, blogger. I disagree with him on most things, and sometimes feel that his commentary on female Labour MPs’ stupidity goes beyond the stick they deserve for their actions into misogynistic territory, but overall he’s a principled and reasonable right-libertarian.

Unfortunately, he’s decided to go on holiday and put his mates Carpsio and Moai in charge. I say unfortunately because, in three posts they’ve made, they’ve managed to fall for three of the most obvious and ridiculous libertoonian [*] myths:

1) “the government is evil to small businesses by making them pay for maternity leave. The government should reimburse companies for maternity pay. But they won’t, the bastards”.

Fact: they do. Moai’s suggestion would be worse than the status quo, as it’d only help tax-paying profitable businesses and not start-ups.

2) “the BBC and the Guardian are evil lying scum for suggesting that Ofcom condemned the Global Warming Swindle documentary”.

Fact: Ofcom found that the programme was unfair, partial, and misrepresented significant views on the subject. It rejected the complaint that the programme had ‘materially misled’ the audience. So that’s OK then.

3) “Everyone who dies of malaria dies because of Rachel Carson, because she got DDT banned”

Fact: DDT has never been banned for use against malaria. Rachel Carson only sought to get DDT banned for use as an agricultural pesticide, partly because that use made it less effective as an antimalarial drug. Everyone serious in the malaria field accepts that this is the case, even the ones who aren’t hippies.

On the plus side, the superb Reactionary Snob has also been drafted in. Hopefully he’ll address the balance a little…

Update: commendably, Carpsio was extremely quick to correct post #3. No sign as yet on the maternity pay one…

[*] libertoonian = someone who became a libertarian because they’re grumpy about how the Metro says their tax money is wasted and hate politicians, rather than because they believe that political theory and history shows a minarchist state is the best way to maximise the general happiness of the people.

6 thoughts on “On knowing a man by his friends”

  1. May I present a compositing motion? Libertoon = soi disant 'consequentialist libertarian' (trans: public school tosspot who thinks that inequalities will be addressed by the benevolent trajectory of feudalism) = 'bloggertarian' (these people only seem to exist in hypertext)?

  2. I used to get wound up about the Carson thing but I've come to the conclusion it's best to let it stand: Litmus paper for idiots, give them enough rope, etc… It shows you who is actually thinking and who is just lashing out in spite.

    Ditto Principled Libertarians (who would, by definition, have a decent understanding of economics, you'd think) who are currently tinkering around with the abiotic oil idea because it's 'interesting'.

    As an aside, do these rabid (to the point of repeating obvious lies) anti-environmentalist types ever stop to consider the role the environmental movement had in the downfall of Soviet communism? I reckon it would make their heads turn inside out if they thought about it too hard…

  3. As ever, the devil's in the context. Yes – the words 'unfair', 'impartial' etc do appear in the Ofcom report, and Channel 4 were found in breach, which does constitute a nice tasty snippet on which to base a hysterical headline.

    However, the reading of the detail of the report is far more nuanced than either the BBC or Guardian (or presumably yourself) would allow. Climate Audit said it better detail than I had time to, hence my link to them. I recommend you read their words.
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3328 http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3329 http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3334

    This kind of nuance is entirely lost in the BBC/Guardian reports, and I don't believe it's a coincidence that neither article saw fit to link to the actual report. Was I overly polemical myself? Possibly. But then I too have an axe to grind.

    It's an attitude taken from the lead of the IPCC itself, which provides juicy headline-fodder in the summaries of its reports, knowing full well that lazy media sources will never go to the lengths of someone like Steve McIntyre to look at the actual science and statistics that are supposed to underpin every aspect of their work.

    3 or 4 years ago, I was convinced of the reality of AGW and would lecture my friends about the issues down the pub. I now find myself eating humble pie, because I was wrong. The science isn't "settled."

    The Hockey Stick was just wrong. GISS (ironically) still refuse the acknowledge the greater accuracy of satellite date over a surface station network that is both incomplete and of uncertain quality. The quality of the sea temperature record is unknowable because the methods of measurement and effects of those methods have not been recorded. Dendrochronology is too fragmentary and contradictory (and far more than mere climate will affect the growth of any single tree). Our predictions of how carbon effects temperature are, by necessity, built into our recreation of past climates through proxies. There is no way to falsify them, for there were no thermometers. There is no way to falsify computer models for 50 years hence until we are 50 years hence. And without a falsifiable hypotheses, you don't even have a science.

    Sorry to ramble, I rarely get time to blog and contribute to this debate so when I do get the chance, I tend to go on and on…. ;-)

  4. Fact: Ofcom found that the programme was unfair, partial, and misrepresented significant views on the subject.

    It rejected the complaint that the programme had ‘materially misled’ the audience….

    Because the science behind Anthropogenic Global Warming is so settled that the public couldn't be misled by such ignorant bollocks.

    I paraphrase the actual words of Ofcom, but that's the gist. Sadly, as elsewhere, Ofcom errs on the side of reason.

  5. Oh sod it, the actual Ofcom statement is clearer than my paraphrase –

    This view of human activity as the major cause of global warming does not appear to be challenged by any of the established political parties or other significant domestic or international institutions.

    Therefore, in this case, Ofcom considers that the subject matter of Parts One to Four of the programme (i.e. the scientific theory of man-made global warming) was not a matter political or industrial controversy or a matter relating to current public policy. Having reached this view, it follows that the rules relating to the preservation of due impartiality did not apply to these parts. It is important to note that by simple virtue of the fact that one small group of people may disagree with a strongly prevailing consensus on an issue does not automatically make that issue a matter of controversy as defined in legislation and the Code and therefore a matter requiring due impartiality to be preserved.

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