Tuesday, March 15, 2011

embedding myths

It has long been a contention of mine that ecomyths are embedded into public consciousness by ideologues, who are often well intentioned but usually are intellectual elites seeking to impose on the world their notion of what is correct, required and necessary for others.  They are stasists in thought and method and the very antithesis of the dynamism necessary for the implementation of sustainability.

Of course, such elites merely espouse sustainability as a construct: they have no real allegiance nor commitment to human sustainability, freedom or development.  No, ecomyths exist primarily as a tool for their own exercise of control, the desire to exert power of the direction and characteristic of the life others should lead.

Two examples today of how:
  • ecomyths become embedded in the public domain
  • elites use a selective interpretation of science as an apparent imperative to justify their ideology and,
  • the politics of eco-activism, governance and intellectual elitism, are mutually reinforcing elements that drive stasism.
The first example describes the mis-use and abuse of science by eco-activists in a demarketing campaign designed to stigmatize fish farming, embedding in the process the well-worn ecomyths of toxic pollution, health risks and the anti-environment narrative of commerce and technological advancement (even when that progress provides employment, food and health benefits).

The second is the latest in a series of articles debunking the myth of obesity.  It suggests that
  • obesity crusaders remain unaware that there is an absence of scientific evidence to support their assertions
  • the success of the obesity crusade rests not on the truth of its science, but on the way in which the obesity entrepreneurs use that science to change policy.
The policy fields vary tremendously but the defining characteristics do not:
  • a self-appointed and self-serving coterie of aspiring officials, bureaucrats, politicians and activists
  • funding an ambitious cadre of scientists
  • a compliant and non-intrusive media
  • a phalanx of celebrity enablers, and 
  • a mutual distaste for, and disregard of the masses, their thoughts and values and livelihood.
There is no large scale conspiracy here. Just the latest manifestation of the centuries old imposition of elite ideology on the rest of society.  The only difference is that the tools are now the very implements and features of enlightenment that were meant to remove the imposition of oppression: information, science, media, literacy, democracy.

There is, however, one crucial difference between today and previous generations: the masses are neither ignorant nor compliant.  As with climate, the continued mis-use and abuse of science will only serve to remove the trust the masses place in those elites who hide behind ecomyths to justify their policies.  Politicians are right to be wary of the Tea Party and its local variants.  Academics are wise to be wary of blogs and peer to peer accountability. Freedom is indeed scary to those who wish to impose power over people rather than empower them.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

caught with the hand in the cookie jar...

There are those who still contend that Climategate was (a) a theft  (b) much ado about nothing and (c) confirmed as such by the "independent inquiries" that have "exonerated" the leading protagonists of the climatocracy revealed by the emails to have fatally corrupted the IPCC process in subservience to the interests of the CRU/Team.  Some are trolls who pop up on blogs, repeat their mantra, throw in a snide ad hominem remark and then retreat back to their morally superior perches of privilege and ignorance.  Still worse are those in the larger academy who ignore the whole affair in the hopes that no one will see that the behaviours and actions of the climate coterie are not that unusual within the venal corridors of higher education.  Indeed, as long as those activities bring substantial amounts of funding and prestige, they are both officially sanctioned and praised by administrators who view the academy as them and professors as mere minions to serve at the administrators' directive.

Feigned ignorance just got more difficult. Denial of inquiry whitewashing and soft-pedalling just got more difficult. Defence of the Team and its actions just got more difficult.  Academic endorsement by subtle, tacit acceptance of the necessity of the Team's actions just got more difficult. 

Just as Climategate confirmed much of what skeptics had alleged and criticised about the IPCC process, the antics of CRU and the bully, expertise politics of the climatocracy, so there are now revelations and confirmation that indeed, emails were deleted by request, truth was obscured and that the inquiries established to root out these issues, did not do this job.

Simply put: the game is up and sooner or later it will get very messy and legal.

Any academic now has a final chance to demonstrate and rescue their intellectual and personal integrity.  To continue to ignore, excuse and otherwise endorse the actions of the Team in the development and promotion of the Hockey Stick meme is to lose any pretense of objectivity and self-respect.
Cartoons by Josh.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

theory vs. practice redux

Theory is interesting.  It starts with someone's ideas, intuition or ideology.  It builds momentum using selective data until the point it becomes an accepted, axiomatic construct, the mainstream narrative.  It can only be challenged by a counter explanation, but the counter explanation requires far more evidenciary traction and explanation than the original hunch, guess or bias because that prevailing theory has now become the dogma with which people have emotional investment.

Let's deviate away from the strict ecomyth to illustrate this dynamic and use instead the housing and financial mess in the US as an exemplar.  Most know of the situation but rely on either the mainstream media or their selected on-line sources for their understanding of the actual circumstances and explanatory constructs: why let facts interfere with confirmation bias?  Moreover, in this like many other situations, our actual knowledge tends to be indirect and subject to ideological interpretation.  Despite this, there is a dominant narrative, a theory that has gained acceptance as the "correct" explanation for what happened.

But what if these are not in a strict sense, fully accurate? Truthful, but only in the details, not the intent and not so far as the origins of the crisis?  We only get the facts we ask for.

Here is an alternative explanation that does look to cause.

And, here is an actual example of the dynamic in play with its results.

If nothing else, Obama will leave the US presidency with at least one clear legacy: crony capitalism as the new community.  

The art in politics, as always, is selling the people on the narrative of what you claim to be doing and not on its substantive details.  

The art of the myth.