Reading Terry McCrann
Terry McCrann has responded to the call for a new inquiry into the financial system with a snark-filled piece which is of sociological, if not intellectual, interest. Let’s jump to his last para.
What next then? Setting up a government-owned home-buying service at the Post Office? Presumably two others among the ‘six-pac’, Nicholas Gruen and John Quiggin, would love that, provided it directed the trusting unsophisticated only into carbon neutral homes.
The most charitable interpretation of McCrann’s reference to carbon-neutral homes is that he is indicating a tribal affiliation. He knows that the typical reader of the Herald-Sun business pages has delusional beliefs about climate change, and is assuring his readers that he shares these beliefs. This alone would be enough reason to dismiss the rest of the column. If McCrann is prepared to dismiss a vast amount of scientific evidence on a topic on which he has no particular expertise, simply because members of his social group don’t like the conclusions, his judgements are worthless. In the absence of any new factual evidence (and, all the facts mentioned in his column are well-known), his arguments have no evidentiary weight. In essence, they amount to the statement “if you’re on my team, you shouldn’t agree with these guys, because they are on the other team”
But that, as I observed, is the charitable interpretation. The less charitable view is that McCrann rejects climate science because his world view is incompatible with the existence of the atmosphere, or any kind of global public good. There’s plenty of evidence for this interpretation in his column. On McCrann’s apparent view, the fact that Australia is not in a deep recession proves that there is, and can be, no such thing as a global recession. Since we haven’t been affected, there’s no need to worry. To quote his column
For their call for a massive, Campbell-and-Wallis type inquiry into the financial system actually lacks ‘a problem’ that has been exposed and thereby needs fixing. … global financial crisis. Not many dead or even injured in Australia. From any systemic fault, that’s to say.
There is a real problem here. McCrann is significantly less ignorant and wilfully stupid than the average defender of economic liberalism in Australia (compare for example, Andrew Bolt or the Institute of Public Affairs). But he can’t allow himself to be much smarter than his readers, and stupidity and ignorance (whether endowed by nature or acquired by effort) are essential if you are to be a full member of the tribe. In a period when social democracy is on the rise, we need better opponents than this.Deranged film