Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cal Thomas on Global Warming: Thy Name is Projection

Cal Thomas, Fightin' Fundie extraordinaire, and maker of some of the worst anti-science arguments I've ever seen on a major network news show (something like "There is biological evolution, physical evolution, and other kinds of evolution. Which one is correct?"), has a new article purporting to show that global warming is a new secular religion. What he inadvertently does, however, is reveal that he is merely projecting his own intellectual flaws onto his opponents, ignoring the implications of his own arguments.

Take his opening salvo:

"In every child's life there comes a time when childhood fantasies are shattered and he or she is forced to accept reality - there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy; parents don't always mean it when they promise to stay married until parted by death."

I always find it fascinating when a Bible thumper like Thomas can make a statement like this and not drown in irony. Yes, and the world is not going to last forever, because it came to be here via natural forces, as opposed to that childish story that it was poofed into existence by a temperamental, omnipotent being. Part of giving up that fantasy is the realization that the earth is not, per se, immune to being effected by what we do, and we should at least consider what effects we may be having on the environment, instead of acting like we can do whatever we like and everything will be fine.

Speaking of drowning in irony, hold onto your hats for this one:

"Grown-up scientists, theologians, historians, archaeologists and others who pursue facts and objective truths are rooted in reality and constantly adjusting their conclusions, theories and hypotheses when new information comes to light.

We all have the same tune going through our heads, don't we? "One of these things is not like the of these things just doesn't fit..." Theologians aren't much about pursuing facts, and they pretty much only adjust their theories when science piles up so much contrary data that they really have no choice. It took the Catholic Church over a century to acknowledge that Darwin may have been onto something, and many of the theologically inclined still haven't caught up.

"So it is with 'global warming,' the secular religion of our day that even has a good number of adherents among people of faith."

Ah, the old "You're a religion too, nyah nyah " argument. Impressive, and no doubt as equally persuasive. Particularly amusing is how Thomas would tout the virtues of religion any time the chance presented itself, and yet when he wishes to disparage his opponents, he accuses them of being religious. Is there a pious conservative out there that can explain this tangled bit of Thomas' logic?

Note also how Thomas misses completely the significance of the second part of his statement. AGW has adherents from a variety of nationalities, political, and religious views. The same tellingly cannot be said of AGW skeptics.

"There are at least two characteristics all fundamentalists share. One is the exclusion and sometimes suppression of any and all information that challenges or contradicts the belief one wishes to impose on all. The other is the use of the state in pursuit of their objectives, overriding the majority's will."

They also invent conspiracies to explain their failures, and cry "suppression" at the drop of a hat. Tell us Mr. Thomas, from where are AGW skeptics excluded from the scientific discourse? Who exactly is being suppressed, and in what way? There has been, and to some extent continues to be, vigorous debate on various aspects of climate science in the scientific journals. This claim of persecution sans evidence smacks of blaming the referees for one's defeats, instead of looking in the mirror for the cause.

As for using the state to override the will of the majority, that happens as a matter of course. The bigger question for Mr. Thomas is, which majority should hold sway in our society when it comes to matters of science, those who spend their lives studying such matters, or those who do not?

From there Thomas goes into the usual canards of the AGW skeptics, cherry picking the data, and misrepresenting the science, just like his creationist brethren do. Oh wait, Thomas is a creationist too. What a coincidence!

In his closing paragraph, Thomas reveals far more than he intended:

The Earth has warmed and cooled over many centuries. One can get a sense of who is telling the truth about global warming by the company the concept keeps.

Indeed we can. The AGW denialists keep company with creationists, holocaust deniers, and AIDS/HIV deniers. Those accepting the AGW science keep company with scientific organizations around the world. A blind man could see the pattern with a cane.

In desperation, Thomas falls back on a tried and true method of denial: MSU - Making Shit Up.

Most of the disciples of global warming are liberal Democrats who never have enough of our money and believe there are never enough regulations concerning the way we lead our lives.

Really, this is almost too sad to criticize. Almost. Um, Cal, most of the supporters of AGW science aren't even Americans, much less liberal Democrats. They aren't arguing that the planet's climate is warming as some sort of conspiracy to make backdoor alterations to economic policy. I know it's hard to fathom, but that's just the conclusion that scientist after scientist is reaching. I know it's hard to face reality Cal, but this is that time in your life.


Doppelganger said...

Pardon my French, but Cal Thomas is a douchebag.

Many years ago, I lived in Grand Rapids, MI. A nearby town, Jennison, had a gay music teacher in the public school. When a couple fo good Christian boys got failing grades in music, they started preading rumotrs that the teacher had tried to put the moves on them. The pastor at a local Baptist fundy church got hold of this - apparently the boys were congregants - and began a smear campaign against the teacher, ending with the teacher committing suicide in dispair.

The pastor and the boys - who, if I recall, admitted lying about it - were unapologetic and the pastor actually said that it was a good thing. Because he was gay, after all.

Cal Thomas heard about how the townsfolk were disgusted with the pastor, and he graced Jennison with a speech at the church in support of the pastor's actions.

What a scumbag degenerate.

ScienceAvenger said...

Thanks for the link Bhuvan, and glad you liked the article.

Doppelganger, yes, I could see him do that. Thomas is a perfect example of how the compassionate conservative, family values gang becomes anything but when the individual in need deviates from their narrow view of how one should live one's life.

Harriet said...

Mr. Thomas was actually right about something.

One can get a sense of who is telling the truth about global warming by the company the concept keeps.
On one side: those in the pocket of big oil companies and creationists.

On the other side: scientists. :-)

Of course, there are a few respected scientists who see global warming as *mostly* a part of a natural cycle (Pilmer from Australia, who is famous for debating against creationists), but almost no one denies that global warming is real.

ScienceAvenger said...

Yeah Ollie, Thomas said more than he realized. And sure, there is room for some legitimate scientific discussion about the extent of human influence on GW. I just don't see very much of it. Everything I see is plain jane crankery denial.