Home > Boneheaded stupidity > Can there be a sane honest rightwinger?

Can there be a sane honest rightwinger?

December 31st, 2013

A few pieces of data from the past few days:

* US Republican views on evolution have shifted significantly in the past 4 years. In 2009, 54 per cent said Yes to the question “Did humans and other animals evolve over time”, and 39 per cent said No. In 2013, those numbers have shifted to 48 per cent No, 43 per cent Yes. Other evidence shows that college-educated Repubs are more likely to have crazy views on evolution, climate science and so on than less-educated Repubs.

* Globally, November 2013 was the hottest November on record. In Australia, 2013 has been the hottest year on record.

* (Via Harry Clarke) Abbott’s senior adviser Maurice Newman has a piece in the Oz blaming the carbon tax/price for the decline of Australian manufacturing

Looking at the last point first, anyone who understands economics can see that the decline of Aust manufacturing is primarily due to the same long run trends that have reduced agriculture to a tiny proportion of economic activity, and secondarily due to the overvaluation of the $A (relative to PPP), reflecting the mining boom and other factors. If Newman doesn’t know this, he should. Newman’s nonsense on this point illustrates something more fundamental. You can’t deny climate science without screwing up your understanding of economics and politics.

This observation is strengthened by the second point. Climate “sceptics” claim to prefer data to models. But in fact they will all explain this data away. The truth is that they are all (I mean this literally, and without exceptions[1]) religiously committed to a position that no evidence will shake.

The final point illustrates the processes that are making it impossible to be a sane, honest rightwinger. The numbers reflect two processes
(i) People with sane views are ceasing to identify as Republicans, while those with insane views are shifting to become Repubs
(ii) Committed Republicans are resolving cognitive dissonance by becoming creationists

The processes are slightly different in Australia, where creationism remains a fringe position. But how can the likes of Akerman, Blair, Bolt, Devine and Stutchbury continue to parrot the arguments of American creationists without at least assuming that creationism is a defensible viewpoint?

The final step in the argument is addressed to a hypothetical sane, honest rightwinger. How can anyone take your stated views seriously when you fail to acknowledge that most people who share them are either fools or liars?

fn1. To be more precise, I don’t give up hope that some rightwingers will give up the entire package – climate denial, rightwing economics and all. But outside a conversion experience of this kind, these people are impervious to evidence.

Categories: Boneheaded stupidity Tags:
  1. Justin Kerr
    December 31st, 2013 at 12:50 | #1

    Great post, but in the first datapoint there are no figures for the percentages, it makes the point a bit cryptic, not to mention ungrammatical… (But the link did give me the rough figures that I thought would be there.)

  2. I used to be not trampis
    December 31st, 2013 at 13:03 | #2

    impervious to evidence?

    That sums up Catallaxy

  3. Jenny
    December 31st, 2013 at 13:11 | #3

    The question you pose is entirely rhetorical.

  4. Michael S.
    December 31st, 2013 at 13:14 | #4

    I was thinking similar things about Maurice Newman this morning – how can it serve any government to have someone who doesn’t understand the economy heading a panel of business advisers?

  5. chrisl
    December 31st, 2013 at 13:15 | #5

    Why not wade into the debate instead of sniping from the sidelines.

  6. Tim Macknay
    December 31st, 2013 at 13:28 | #6

    The continuing fringe status of Creationism in Australia is probably because Evangelical Christianity has less influence than it does in the US, the mainstream churches have been more accommodating of evolution and also because Australia is less religious overall.

    Climate change denial, however, seems to be rapidly becoming for the Liberal Party what Creationism is to the US Republicans.

  7. Megan
    December 31st, 2013 at 13:41 | #7

    Unfortunately, I’m afraid that I know a few people who are sane and honest but utterly delusional and appear impervious to the science of climate change.

    They read News Ltd papers (and appear to believe what they read in them). This is why my passionate hatred of all things Murdoch runs so deep – he is destroying my country and my planet.

  8. Stockingrate
    December 31st, 2013 at 13:46 | #8

    Newman is an embarrassment to a country whose origins are associated with names like Cook and Banks – we really are going backwards.

  9. Tim Macknay
    December 31st, 2013 at 14:00 | #9

    Yes, I also have several acquaintances who read News Ltd papers (particularly The Australian and apparently believe what they read in it. The thing I find most disturbing is the reliance they place on the opinion columns, which are essentially fact-free.

  10. Zen Digital
    December 31st, 2013 at 14:19 | #10

    @Megan @TimMacknay
    The reason deniers read or pay attention to the Murdoch propaganda is because they are lazy and refuse to research or read data from the likes of NASA , NOAA , CSIRO , BOM , MET and many other top scientific bodies ..

    I call then deniers because there are genuinely no skeptics left due to the serious amounts of data confirming climate change.. Many of these deniers who continually sprout the propaganda will have a hidden but vested interest as we seen with groups who are paid / sponsored by the polluters themselves .. Groups like Galileo Movement , Jo Nova / David Evans , Monkcton all have their fingers in the pockets of polluters paid to speak by them…

  11. Michael S.
    December 31st, 2013 at 14:35 | #11

    Pointing to vested interests only helps us partially understand Climate Change Denial. It certainly got the ball rolling and helps keep a lot of deniers in paid gigs now.

    If Big Carbon pulled the cash flow from under it’s PR flacks today, Climate Change denial would continue to be with us for a long time yet. It’s become a badge of affiliation for TRUE CONSERVATIVES to show they are no greenie/commie etc.

    Like with creationism in the US or Windschuttle’s ‘revisionist history’ here there will be a long residue of idiocy in the face of overwhelming evidence.

    Big Carbon created a monster

  12. Megan
    December 31st, 2013 at 14:41 | #12

    @Zen Digital

    I’m not so sure about “lazy”, I think it’s probably “confirmation bias”.

    Murdoch peddles lies and propaganda – but it is of a kind some people want to believe.

    I’d probably prefer “stupid” but the people I’m thinking of are otherwise intelligent (one is a retired medical practitioner). That’s why I tend to think it is like a religious belief. It is interesting that they use projection, like Newman does, to describe people who accept the science in terms like ‘cult’ and ‘crusade’.

  13. Michael S.
    December 31st, 2013 at 14:42 | #13

    Also John your link to Harry C is not working – I think because those of us who aren’t FB friends with him can’t see it.

  14. Paul Foord
    December 31st, 2013 at 14:52 | #14

    Putting it another way I think many right wingers/conservatives are strongly committed to their priors. So they may be honest but it is so constrained as to, in reality, be false.

    There may also be a process starting where Australian religious conservatives (Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal) move closer to US approaches – I think it has started in the area of women’s fertility at the present time, so creationism is less significant.

    [note FB on an iPhone is not the most useful way to access posts.]

  15. Felix Alexander
    December 31st, 2013 at 15:07 | #15

    I don’t think John Quiggin’s view that “the truth is that [climate ‘sceptics’] are all (I mean this literally, and without exceptions) religiously committed to a position that no evidence will shake” can possibly be true.

    Has anyone got any success stories? A couple of weeks ago at work there was a discussion between a Bolt-follower and a libertarian about climate change; the Bolt-follower of course thought it was utter bs and the libertarian thought that, while there was probably some truth to the scientific view on climate change, at least it isn’t going to be anything to worry about.

    Me and the others who witnessed the discussion merely watched (I know at least some of their views); I didn’t know what to say, it was such a weird place to be.

    Knowing what I know about human cognition, the discussion will only have tended both of them towards the odd position, where they shouldn’t be (and where it’s in everyone’s interest that they not be). Doing nothing was obviously the wrong thing to do; but I don’t have a clue what to do.

    But what should I do? And is John right, or does anyone know how to get people who (in their field of work) are observant and intelligent into the land of sense?

  16. Stockingrate
    December 31st, 2013 at 15:09 | #16

    @Michael S.

    Agree with your view on a motivation being a badge of affiliation with”true conservatism”. However that makes them anything but conservatives, rather reactionaries whose views of the science are driven by (reaction to) the views of the left.

  17. Alan
    December 31st, 2013 at 15:40 | #17

    I think at least part of it is that the climate science is deeply scary.

    Let’s imagine a large asteroid is detected on a direct course for the planet, with a collision date later in the century, say 2075. The danger can be averted, but it will take large resources.

    A significant group of people are going to wish it away and imagine alternate trajectories to try and avoid mobilising those resources. Another group are going to say it can be dealt with in 2050, or 2060, or even 2070. There are going to be reactionary billionaires perfectly happy with the status quo. Some of those billionaires will own media companies. Some will be happy to fund sound orbit belief tanks.

  18. Alphonse
    December 31st, 2013 at 15:50 | #18

    Why? Because you can’t debate a loony. There is to but no fro – at least no fro that makes sense, that is open to factual engagement, that can be respected as honest engagement in debate.

  19. Faust
    December 31st, 2013 at 17:09 | #19

    While I am fairly certain human-induced climate change is happening, it is foolish to use individual weather datapoints to try to prove your view. If you use examples of high temperature, then someone will use examples of low temperature to prove that climate change does not exist. For instance, I can point to the fact that there is a ship stuck in ice right now that was meant to document the melting of the ice as an example of global warming not happening.

  20. derrida derider
    December 31st, 2013 at 17:35 | #20

    Alan has hit the point here. Al Gore had it right when he called AGW an inconvenient truth. And once the inconvenience of a truth is apparent, tribalism does the rest to create to create outright denial of it.

    Let’s acknowledge that cheap energy is what has liberated us from nasty, brutish and short lives, and so it really would be a better world if we could continue re-oxidising all that Carboniferous stored solar energy without getting a pre-Carboniferous climate. But the hard fact is we can’t, so we need to put some effort into getting other ways of getting cheap energy.

    And on that gloomy note, let me say Happy New Year to all before I head off to the party.

  21. chrisl
    December 31st, 2013 at 19:09 | #21

    Faust Ahh Yes The ship stuck in ice in summer, All sorts of statistical jiggery pokery to prove global warming,but somehow all the modelling did not predict that there would be shiploads of ice down in Antartica. A PR disaster being played out in real time. Somehow in a warming world this ship has 10 kilometres of ice behind it ,up to 3 metres thick. It could be there forever!

  22. Oliver Townshend
    December 31st, 2013 at 19:31 | #22

    Malcolm Turnbull? And maybe his namesake Malcolm Fraser.

    As to the religious beliefs views, my climbate change denial friends throw the same accusation. It’s just insulting. Both ways.

  23. David C
    December 31st, 2013 at 20:10 | #23

    I would assume that you are ignorant and are not being intentionally dishonest. See here It is why the mimimum sea ice coverage in the arctic is during September and not at the end of June. I imagine that the same thing occurs in the Antarctic.

    Come back in mid March and tell us if there are any ships stuck in sea ice in the Antarctic.

  24. December 31st, 2013 at 20:16 | #24

    I don’t self-identify as “right-wing” but I imagine that is where others put me. I will try for an answer, though the question isn’t very clear.

    * I don’t think that most people who share my views are fools/liars, but then perhaps this is directed more towards the American christian right rather than an Australian libertarian. I agree that many on the christian right (and green left) are fools and/or liars. I agree that fools and liars sometimes agree with me, both left and right.

    * On creationism, having been bought up a fundamentalist christian that is something I changed my views on when I better understood the facts. The vast majority of libertarians accept evolution, though I’m sure there are exceptions. BTW, most creationists I know support left-wing economics, though I don’t pretend that my anecdotal experience is necessarily true in general.

    * On global warming, I have changed my views a few times on the science, and while I have long accepted that AGW is real and man-made, I do not having strong views about the magnitude. If forced to choose my best guess would be at the lower end of the IPCC range — what has been called a “luke-warmist” position. You may find it ironic, but the person who was most effective at convincing me that AGW is a real and man-made thing was Pat Michaels. He and I have shared a few chats about our shared frustration that some of our political allies seem to outright deny AGW. There are plenty of other libertarians who share my view, though I have also been heckled by some on the right. My complaint is that there has been exaggeration (mostly in the media/blogs/politics, not the science) and that few policy proposals pass an intellectually honest benefit-cost test.

    * On “right-wing” economics, I am pretty confident that I am right and you are wrong on issues ranging from the corrosive effects of regulation on competition, to dynamic tax analysis, to open-economy macroeconomics, to welfare reform, to the minimum wage elasticity of labour demand, and beyond. But I don’t think that makes you a fool or a liar. Indeed, I used to enjoy our debates.

    * This post seems to be focussed mostly on American politics and I admit that I don’t really know what’s going on over there. But I don’t think I should change my views based on the fact that an idiot in America might happen to agree with me on something.

    I’m not going to come back to check this thread as I don’t enjoy the sorts of debates that happen on this blog anymore. But you know where to find me if you want to follow up. And happy new year.

  25. Hermit
    December 31st, 2013 at 20:30 | #25

    The fact it is now hot and dry in the subtropics and unseasonably cold in subpolar latitudes is not reassuring if that pattern is amplified in future. I’ve mixed views about both conservatives and lefties. Conservatives help their mates (eg no pesky carbon taxes) while lefties help every other kind of undeserving group. I’d prefer if hard nosed pragmatists dominated the higher circles of politics and administration.

    Maurice Newman is slightly loopy thinking the UN can cover up a climate conspiracy. Not likely on simple probability. On the other hand he has a point that wind power is not particularly cost effective in reducing emissions. Compared to 100% gas fired generation wind probably saves CO2 at a cost of over $200 per tonne whereas for now the official price is $24.15. He should make his criticisms more technical and less sarcastic. In the house it’s a shame we’ve got mainly ideologues rather than honest brokers like Oakeshott and Windsor.

  26. Ikonoclast
    December 31st, 2013 at 21:46 | #26

    Q. Can there be a sane, honest right-winger?

    A. No.

    Sane maybe, honest never.

  27. Neil Hanrahan
    December 31st, 2013 at 22:36 | #27


    How do you prove (firstly to yourself) that it is not you that is “projecting” (assuming that bit of late Freudian jargon is useful)?

    I ask this in the contrarian spirit of one who knows that we can do b-all about climate change, not even as a nation. I was going to add a whole lot of other things we can do nothing about but now pose the question which has popped into my head as not unrelated to climate change and the future of the earth: could we not, by paying pensions to families in Africa (or some parts of it) whose females continue childless and being educated until the age of 24 do something on a large scale that we could afford and which would be of immense benefit to poor Africans and Africa’s environment including its wildlife and biodiversity? There wouldn’t have been the slightest problem from the left about that before 1933 (though the Catholic Church and some Ayatollahs and no doubt African kings and tribal chiefs might have objected for different reasons) so, if you recoil at the suggestion and are even attempted to utter the no longer sayable E word (which is coming back actually and never was a problem outside the Western world) please tell me why it is not longer right for the left to have such thoughts.

  28. faust
    December 31st, 2013 at 22:37 | #28

    Reading some of the odder comments on this blog by Professor Quiggin, Ikonoclast and others makes me wonder what this blog would have looked like about two centuries ago…

    I can imagine Professor Quiggin waxing on the virtues of the French Revolution and questioning whether the “backward Tory and Whigs” will see the light etc etc… right up past the murders and public executions and through to the Napoleonic era… All the while extolling the virtues of Republicanism soon-to-be Bonapartism and wondering why “backwards” people like Edmund Burke just don’t “get” the “empirically superior” way of doing things elsewhere.

    Sadly having read too much literature from that period my intellectual wanderings in this post are not too far from the truth. Had some writers and this blog existed in centuries gone past they would have justified even the most ruthless of centralised command and control despite the destruction of personal liberty.

  29. Neil Hanrahan
    December 31st, 2013 at 22:57 | #29

    @Felix Alexander

    You sound like a very sensible person Felix Alexander. And at least when struck by that imperative “we must do something” [frequently the unfortunate result of being given a remit as the tendency of any committee appointed by a higher authority to suggest action, often expensive in the final washup, demonstrates: cf. parliamentary committees of backbenchers and eager young staff] you don’t just grasp at anything but admit that what to do gives reason for pause. [Sorry if that sounds a bit patronising: clearly you don’t deserve to be patronised by the self-appointed know-alls].

    Allow me, in the contrarian spirit which I find more invigorating than reciting catechisms, proffer the answer I was fed on Boxing Day when the cricket was a bit slow. The suggestion is that, since nothing Australia can do or say about CO2 will make any difference to whether Tuvalu’s problem with rising seas is worse than its existing overpopulation problem, millions of Bangladeshis are drowned or displaced by ever more dangerous flooding, Africa destroys its wildlife or Australia’s climate warms up dangerously, or at all, or our seaside suburbs need seawalls we should encourage making as much in taxable profits out of exporting coal and making cheap electricity from it as we can. That way we will be able to make choices about things we can do something about. What would you have answered to that? (I am sure she would have allowed for spending around the edges on scientific research. Like me, I take it that she gets quite statist and expansive with other people’s money when the arts or hard sciences are the beneficiaries…. pity about some of the human beneficiaries of course…. 🙂 …..)

  30. John Quiggin
    December 31st, 2013 at 23:00 | #30

    @Faust: The latest data isn’t the proof I rely on, it’s just yet more confirmation of a scientific analysis of climate change that has long since been established beyond reasonable doubt.

    On chrisl, it’s great to have an example of the process showing up. And, as it happens, the silly “ship stuck in ice disproves warming” claim, now circulating through the usual channels, was one of the motivations for this post

  31. Neil Hanrahan
    December 31st, 2013 at 23:58 | #31

    Aha, JQ, I think I have an explanation for just how wobbly I sometimes think your arguments are given that you are a full professor who is even numerate. You actually spend time reading those you write of in the following quote (no wonder your humours are disordered from time to time).

    “But how can the likes of Akerman, Blair, Bolt, Devine and Stutchbury continue to parrot the arguments of American creationists without at least assuming that creationism is a defensible viewpoint?”

    I don’t (read them) though I have met the former Labor government staff member Bolt a number of times and, apart from his displaying the compulsive and/or professional opinionators problems arising from feeling compelled to emit too many words, he seems a sensible enough fellow. For those who would like to see him put in his place (whatever that is) it seems a pity that Ron Merkel and others engaged in their self-defeating use of Sec. 18C for a quasi-criminal prosecution rather than have the more credit worthy plaintiffs sue Bolt for libel. After all, the case against him succeeded only to the extent that he had made errors which would have sunk his defence to a libel action by at least one or two of the plaintiffs. Instead of thus diminishing to some extent his credit as a journalist the case made him something of a martyr and certainly obscured the real issue of inaccuracy about some individuals while making sure that the Section which Merkel would want to preserve is repealed or gutted. But I digress…..

    Do you JQ actually know any right wing people? Presumably you don’t spend time with dim skinheads or fundamentalists. I wonder what your conception of a right wing person is and what it is based on. Is it sufficient that you proudly identify yourself as left and so, if someone disagrees with you on something political (or capable of being political like creationism) that you regard them as right wing?

    FWIW (and that mightn’t even include clarity) I used to say I was of the radical centre but I now regard that as far too extreme and prefer to take a stance against all bad arguments.

    UPi seem to have, as do some of the Commenters, a problem about people you classify as right wing being honest or intelligent. Yet, at the outset, it might be worth considering all the no doubt many intelligent people you know who honestly hold various religious beliefs. Whether you are, as I suppose, or not, an atheist (at least not a theist) then you must wonder at people who not only believe in a Creator God who is omnisicient, eternal, omnipotent and cares about us, and even for us, but somehow get over the fact that he didn’t make sure his message was unambiguously affirmed to one of the succession of those claiming to speak in his name or to the Buddhists, Hindus and others. Is that a different problem from understanding the variety of world views and associated tribal beliefs of those on the left and on the right?

    On the question of what you mean by right wing, I wonder how you deal with the American conservatives who have nothing to do with the evangelicals but are either palaeos or neos or just plain intelligent like the publisher, till recently, of The American Conservative and many of the contributors and contributing editors. I subscribed for a while on the basis of what I learned about the publisher who apparently bought the mag from a couple of palaeo-conservatives who shared his views about the Iraq war being a bad mistake. His name is Ron Unz and he was said in a Newsweek article to have had the highest IQ recorded by the Guinness Book of Records which may not be true but I found a Los Angeles Times article about him which noted it had been measured at 214. A friend of mine who studied physics with him at Harvard said that he really knew what a superior brain was when, before they each headed off to graduate school they took jobs writing software over a summer. Unz made such a fortune out of it that he has been able to be a political activist ever since. His latest cause that I am aware of is making a case for a much higher minimum wage. How about that coming from what some (you?) would call the right? He apparently has it coming up as a referendum proposal in California….

    So can we expect a little more definition and nuance in discussion of the “right”?

  32. Neil Hanrahan
    January 1st, 2014 at 00:25 | #32

    @John Quiggin

    Is it useful to your argument or at all to say

    ” Globally, November 2013 was the hottest November on record. In Australia, 2013 has been the hottest year on record.”

    A barrister for the sceptics/deniers would say that you were being non-responsive. “So what” they would say because they (presumably) say that we are indeed in a period when there has been a great deal of warming since the end of the Little Ice Age (which they usually put at about 1860 though I would have thought it was quite a bit earlier). They would say that what tells against the dangerous AGW hypothesis is the fact that there has been no statistically significant continuation of the uptrend in line with increases in CO2 in the atmosphere since 1998 (and please don’t hold me to affirming that statistical assertion unless you are willing to deploy your mathematical expertise to give us all a solid technical refutation that we can use, but it is sometimes said that the chap who was/is head of the East Anglian institution from which the emails were leaked has affirmed it). They invariably point to something like 30 year cycles in global temperatures for a century or so including a down cycle from the 1940s to the 1970s and I have heard mention of the Chow Test (well after my time learning mathematics – but perhaps not yours JQ?) as showing that there was a major shift in the late 1970s most consistent with some oceanic cause of major change. It seems reasonable to suppose that, assuming that there is still an upward tendency of global temperature from greenhouse gas effects another big oceanic shift has put a damper on rising temperatures since about 1998 and may do so for some time to come…. after which….? On the sceptics side it would no doubt be argued that it is apparent that vastly too much has been claimed for the very many different models which have all been fitted to the rising temperatures of all or much of the last century. Clearly the admissions by the East Anglia people were honestly candid when they accepted that the years after 1998 (even allowing for 1997 being an exceptional El Nino year – or was it La Nina?) were an embarrassment to the modelers. Have you, as a mathematician, examined the models? Can you say anything about their mathematical and empirical merit? In the same inquiring vein, what do you say to the argument that i have heard put by sceptics that the models, if they are adequately capturing all the important factors, should be able to retropredict all the major climate shifts of the past few thousand years durinig which vastly greater changes occurred than anything we have seen to date. I have heard Prof David Karoly asked something like that question and he asserted that the models did explain such events as the great droughts which dried up the Nile and the Sahara and destroyed the Egyptian Old Kingdom but it wasn’t followed up on either side. Maybe you know how it should have been.

  33. January 1st, 2014 at 01:03 | #33

    Corporate and Political sociopaths/psychopaths abound. These are dishonest rather than insane. Only concerned with their own personal short-medium term goals. Say and do what suits these goals. Otherwise the world can go hang. Others of us, who can only see and believe what fits with our ‘tribal’ affiliation, we are the insane ones, but not necessarily dishonest. And there are plenty of these in the apparently-rational camp, too. Ain’t life funny (when you think about it)?

  34. Ernestine Gross
    January 1st, 2014 at 01:26 | #34

    Happy New Year to you, JQ, and your readers and commenters.

    The question in your thread is too difficult for me to think about and this is not exclusively due to the time and date at which I am writing now. However, I am able to say that Mr Maurice L. Newman seems to be out of his depth on economic matters and the basis of his claims on climate science is a total mystery to me. I do hope the climate scientists at UNSW will publicly challenge Mr Newman to present the material on which his claim on climate science is based in an appropriate forum such as a televised academic seminar with the usual questions from the audience, composed of scientists and economists.

  35. Faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 01:34 | #35

    Well Professor Quiggin, since we are in the spirit of acknowledging empirical truth, maybe you too can acknowledge that “terrible” right wingers have done things like help abolish slavery, fought for Roman Catholic emancipation, opened the world up to free trade, outlawing women and children in mines, opened up democracy to previously non-franchised, and enacted progressive reforms such as primary education and an expanded university system.

  36. Megan
    January 1st, 2014 at 01:53 | #36

    On the ice-bound ship – apparently it’s stuck in Commonwealth Bay because an unusually enormous iceberg called something like B-909 has clogged the mouth of the bay and therefore the pack-ice is backing up when it would usually be expected to flow out to sea.

  37. Megan
    January 1st, 2014 at 01:57 | #37


    Now that really is some rolled-gold Poe!

  38. Faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 02:04 | #38

    What is Poe?

    Care to respond with substance?

  39. Megan
    January 1st, 2014 at 02:04 | #39

    The world according to Faust:

    right wingers have done things like:

    -help abolish slavery,

    -fought for Roman Catholic emancipation,

    -opened the world up to free trade,

    -outlawing women and children in mines,

    -opened up democracy to previously non-franchised,

    -and enacted progressive reforms such as primary education and an expanded university system.

    Is there any evidence to support this?

  40. Megan
    January 1st, 2014 at 02:09 | #40

    @Neil Hanrahan

    When you held judicial or quasi-judicial roles, were any of your decisions reported?

    Please provide links or general citations, thanks.

  41. John Quiggin
    January 1st, 2014 at 02:13 | #41


    That’s some impressive extrapolation there, Faust. As Megan says, Poe’s Law applies, but I’m going to assume it’s intended seriously.

    If so, you don’t need to hypothesize about the French Revolution. There have been plenty of comparable instances in the recent past, where you can actually check my record

    * The Iraq war, where the warbloggers mentioned above (Bolt, Devine and so on) went through exactly the sequence you describe

    * The Cold War, where advocates of both sides continually justified and excused appalling crimes by their own side, while condemning those of the other

    Since you’re slandering me from behind a pseudonym, I can’t check your record on these issues, but you can easily check mine. And while my views on the French and Bolshevik revolutions are obviously formed with the benefit of hindsight, here they are


  42. Faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 02:20 | #42

    Abolition of slavery: US Republican Party, UK Coalition of independent, Tory and Whig MPs lead by William Wilburfore who supported the Tory administration of William Pitt the Younger.

    Roman Catholic emancipation was under Duke of Wellington.

    Free trade and and the outlawing of women and children in mines was under Tory administrations in the 1830s and 1840s, specifically the administration of Robert Peel.

    Primary schools were enacted in the mid 19th century and the opening up of the voter base was secured under Disraeli. But one reason why there were ‘Working Men Conservative Clubs’ in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

    Opening university education and further social reform was secured in the 1930s and the 1960s in both Australia and the UK.

  43. Faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 02:23 | #43

    My personal views were, ashamedly, in favour of the Iraq War which I mistakenely trusted that the UsS administration actually had a clue of what they were doing. My support lasted precisely 9 months after the invasion when I recognised that these guys had no idea what they were doing.

  44. Faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 02:25 | #44

    I shall read your Crooked Timber post with interest.

  45. Faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 02:26 | #45

    Apologies for the bad spelling. I am typing this out on an iPad.

  46. Ernestine Gross
    January 1st, 2014 at 02:30 | #46

    A legal argument approach to settling questions of science seems to me to be as ill suited as the approach of the Inquisition to such questions.

    Similarly, a legal argument approach to settling questions on political notions such as ‘the left’ and ‘the right’ seems to me to be as ill suited as using my academic background, economics with specialisation in mathematical economics and finance. Hence I don’t proffer an educated comment. However, I can observe that Dr Angela Merkel’s party, the CDU, would be considered ‘right’ in the relevant local spectrum of political parties, but she has a PhD in physics and it seems this is more helpful than legal training in dealing with climate science questions and this seems to be reflected in policies. It might be helpful to consider ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ not as two points close to zero but rather as two possibly long line segments such that, when time is taken into account, at one point in local histories, ‘the Right’ and ‘the Left’ might be indistinguishable to the casual observer while at another point in the local history at least one point represent a nutty (crazy) position. It seems to me Prof Q is talking about some local histories where ‘the Right’ has reached such a nutty position. But this is merely my way of thinking about it. I conclude specialist knowledge in the area of politics is required to interpret the arguments presented by Prof Quiggin. I don’t have such knowledge and therefore ‘can’t think about the question’ of the thread (in an appropriately educated sense). However, I can rule out the validity of an argument that rests on moving forward and backward on a time line even without me checking the historical accuracy of the claims. I can do this because it is a synthetic history (cherry picking, I think, is the term used) which distorts the empirical evidence relevant at a point in time.

    Happy 2014.

  47. Megan
    January 1st, 2014 at 02:34 | #47


    Kudos for openly admitting you were once fooled by the lies that so many of us were loudly protesting at the time as being just that – lies designed to take us to war and slaughter innocents.

    It’s odd that you can’t seem to question other concepts to which you hold but which, I for one, argue are as equally fallacious as your (once held) belief in the Iraq invasion.

    I view that as a supreme “war crime” in the Nuremburg sense. And I would still call for those responsible to be brought to account.

  48. Faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 02:43 | #48

    Now I have read up on Poe’s Law I think it is wise to state that this original post is an example of that. for Professor Quiggin has not explained what he means by ‘right wing’. If you look at the current crop of LNP, you will see people who are socially and economically ‘conservative’ like Barnaby Joyce while you also social and economic ‘liberals’ like Kelly O’Dwyer. Who is rightwing when you have that breadth?

  49. rog
    January 1st, 2014 at 05:50 | #49

    @Faust Fair point, how would you describe the consensus of right wingers in Australia? The current lot seem to be a bad tempered ill educated superstitious bunch of bombasts.

  50. Ken Fabian
    January 1st, 2014 at 06:42 | #50

    When it comes to climate change right wingers will look no further than what looks like a winning argument to allow them to ignore (and worse, oppose and obstruct efforts of others to deal with) the climate problem; that one or two more la Nina years over el Nino’s over a period as short as that from 1998 will skew the trend isn’t hard to figure out. But the problem is they don’t want to. (Not sure if the public being unaware of this a consequence of climate scientists being poor communicators or the Mainstream Media’s incompetence and top down/groupthink bias).

    People who are skeptical (or hold positions of trust and responsibility that should make being well informed an essential part of being trustworthy and responsible) could ask what natural internal climatic variation was doing over that time, or ask what other indicators of a warming world like ocean heat content have been doing or getting an appropriate reading list and reading), but being well informed imposes an unwanted burden that is most easily avoided by the simple expediency of choosing to make no efforts to be well informed or choosing the made to order BS the Right’s think tanks and lobby groups provide to make such a choice easier for them.

    If there is any actual desire within Right politics to figure it out or be better informed it’s not apparent; doing those appears on the face of it to lead policy leftwards that is mostly a consequence of mainstream politics deliberately framing the issue as left and green rather than mainstream and central to future prosperity, and failing to develop ideologically sound market based solution themselves and offering a credible alternative.

    They keep choosing ignorance and rhetoric based on their own BS but have been doing it so long now that it’s no longer recognisable as expedient spin; they have unwittingly entrenched opposition to action most strongly within their own base and cannot now shift position without alienating that base.

  51. Hermit
    January 1st, 2014 at 07:04 | #51

    Climate change deniers who find affirmation in the fact Antarctic cruise ships are blocked by summer ice should also note it is expected to nudge 50C at Lake Eyre today.

  52. Julie Thomas
    January 1st, 2014 at 07:23 | #52

    I do know some right wingers and they are not dishonest. They are very ‘nice’ people – knoq their manners and how to patronise, but they would be quite happy to ‘breed out’ of the gene pool people like me who do not live up to their requirements for a society that suits them.

    I have argued with the male part of this couple, he was a fellow student during my undergrad degree, an older man who was so well off he didn’t need to work. Who said he wouldn’t do any more work because the govt just took all his profits in tax, so he undertook a psych degree to try and show that lefties were all wrong.

    His wife just nodded like a fool and looked to him for her beliefs.

    He couldn’t do that – he couldn’t find a way to show that ‘leftist’ psychology was wrong, but not to be daunted, he said to me after one drawn out debate which I clearly won with evidence and rational argument, he said “Ok, rationally you are right but I just know you are wrong. Something will come up in the future to show that you are wrong.”

  53. Julie Thomas
    January 1st, 2014 at 07:34 | #53

    @Neil Hanrahan

    I would argue that Freud’s defence mechanisms – particularly projection – are the best thing that he did.

    Freud really did understand the way wealthy white males who were raised in sexually repressive cultures thought and not much has changed for men from this class.

  54. AMD
    January 1st, 2014 at 08:56 | #54

    Well, there are sane, honest republican citizens, it’s just their unexamined, firmly held beliefs on climate change, evolution, and other matters of science that are crazy. Although perhaps that rules out the honest part

  55. NathanA
    January 1st, 2014 at 09:42 | #55

    I know of sane, honest but ignorant right wingers. I guess it’s defining the point at which ignorance can no longer be used as an excuse.

  56. faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 09:46 | #56

    @rog I think the combination is due to temperament than anything else. While there may be philosophical differences the coalition promotes competence and pragmatism. This combination of Tory and Whig (Conservative and Liberal) is happening in other Anglophone countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. My reading is that they are not reflexively believers in change for change sake, they have a healthy respect for tradition and institutions even when changing them (happy to explain the contradiction here if need be) but are by-and-large pragmatic and competent.

    In contrast, those on the left tend to have a naïve faith in the power of the State (at least I and others view it as naïve) and tend to change society based on abstract principles or concepts. This can mean that some radical and potentially beneficial changes are proposed but conversely mean that people can’t trust them to manage the affairs of state.

  57. faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 09:48 | #57

    @JulieThomas I can use examples when I am debating leftist individuals which are very similar. Both left and right have their fair share of the ideologues and “insane” individuals. Sometimes though it is useful to have these people around for no other reason than by being so intransigent that they can allow you to test and confirm/deny your political hypotheses across a number of topics.

  58. rog
    January 1st, 2014 at 10:58 | #58

    @faust This “competence and pragmatism” seems OK until you scratch it; it was the competent and pragmatic who misjudged financial institutions and misjudged foreign policy aka War.

    Underneath it all the “competent and pragmatic” know that there are limited resources and they dont want to be left out; their share is proportional to their estimation of personal ability.

  59. sunshine
    January 1st, 2014 at 11:01 | #59

    I find it hard to get past this fact ;- Climate science is currently a very very large part of the world scientific community and apparently 98 % of them say the world is changing fast because of human activity. Why so many can get past that fact is a question for psychology and sociology. There are fairly simple answers -the only hard bit is acknowledging that you must work that way too.

    Why is it that if anyone says ‘maybe markets arent perfect all the time ‘, some think you said ‘the government should run everything all the time ‘? (you know who you are!)

    One of my biggest beefs with these neo-lib-con extremists is how easily and thoroughly they have convinced everyone in the Western world that human nature is essentially selfish so we best design our society (and economics) around the new virtue of greed. Human nature is selfish and altruistic. It is now commonly assumed that the saying ‘Charity begins at home ‘ means to look after your own first. Its original meaning was that children must be encouraged to care about others as it is easy to raise selfish bast##ds rather than caring nice kids.

  60. Trev
    January 1st, 2014 at 11:05 | #60

    @faust “This can mean that some radical and potentially beneficial changes are proposed but conversely mean that people can’t trust them to manage the affairs of state”.

    Best wishes for the new year, and please keep working on that very troublesome cognitive dissonance of yours.

  61. faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 11:05 | #61

    @rog Financial institutions were regulated before, during and after the crash. The argument that they were unregulated does not stack up. Furthermore, what exactly is the left-wing view on financial institutions? Public ownership does not confer safety a la the failed State banks in Australia in the 1980s. You can demand that the banks be highly conservative but expect people from vulnerable backgrounds to be denied access to credit. Michael Milken the chap to basically created the market for high yield (‘junk’) bonds received death threats until the early 1980s for financing African-American companies. This type of activity (financing vulnerable people) is usually demanded by the left but it requires financial institutions to be risk-takers (and profit makers) which the left does not want.

    Talking about war, I seem to recall two Democratic Administrations (Kennedy/Johnson) who scaled up the US assault in Indo-China. Waging war on other countries is not the sole preserve of the political right.

    Competence and pragmatism, even when they are not actually in display, are still two qualities that those who find themselves in the right wing church search for.

  62. faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 11:06 | #62

    I should just make one slight amendment: …Mike Milken the chap *who* basically…

  63. Julie Thomas
    January 1st, 2014 at 11:10 | #63


    So you are able to take an above it all approach and see that both sides do it? You are the observer and can interpret the right for us?

    But you missed the bit where I explained that the big difference I see between left and right. People on the right think there are two types of people and one type – losers like me – should die out. The left do not think this.

    And I do wish you would answer my questions on the other thread. What does the right have to offer in the way of building a good society?

  64. faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 11:15 | #64

    @JulieThomas What a shocking thing to say! I have heard from leftwingers that I am scum and should die as well. Let’s protest together. But I don’t then turn around and lump an entire group of people who have those views in and label them cruel or heartless!

    Building a good society? What is a good society? Is it one where there is charitable giving, family units are held broadly together, people live in a safe and harmonious environment? Many people who are labelled the “religious right” believe in such notions. They believe that a disciplined school environment, pro-family tax policies, and promoting religious institutions are ways to achieve this.

    But it does not really answer the question of what is a “good” society. Unless you provide a definition around that then we may be speaking at cross purposes.

  65. faust
    January 1st, 2014 at 11:16 | #65

    @trev Look at the current Australian political environment. The previous Labor Government proposed and implemented a whole range of, at times radical, legislative proposals. Yet because of their basic incompetence are now on the Opposition Benches. You can come up with brilliant ideas but if you can’t implement them then people won’t trust you for a very long time!

  66. Fran Barlow
    January 1st, 2014 at 11:36 | #66

    Plainly, I’d say its possible that there can be sane and honest right-wingers, depending on how one defines the concept. Most of us start with very loose and therefore incoherent conceptions of the polity and more broadly, the sweep of what may be described as mutual obligation. As Marx commented all those years ago in the 18th Brumaire, the ruling ideas of any age are the ideas of its ruling class, and given that this is a privileged and property owning class, the ruling ideas will, this side of soc!alist revolution, be ideas favouring the exclusion of working humanity from power and thus be of the right. It would be paradoxical if most people didn’t start off with a right-wing perspective. People who are in prison are defined by their “prisonership” and their ideas take as given that social reality. Capitalism is a far more subtle prison than Long Bay can ever be and it mystifies with awesome power. Ruling classes neither become so nor remain so by accident.

    So you can be sane and up to a point honest and be a right-winger, though at the very least you will probably need to be intellectually lazy or distracted or dissonant to be so for any length of time. After a while, a right-winger will have to work harder and harder to suppress the incoherence in their paradigms of community, favouring always that which causes them least cultural discomfort and becoming dissonant about inconvenient truths. Perhaps the rightist will begin choosing to stay amongst those sharing he same dissonance and eventually be me unhinged by the absence of any check on their misanthropy and ignorance. This seems to be what has happened in the US. Being an adult American right-winger would make sanity and honesty very hard to maintain indeed. You might well be even more isolated than those of us on the far left.

    I see being a right-winger as a kind of social pathology, endemic in societies shaped by unwarranted privilege and the concomitant social exclusion and which left untreated can ruin humans on a grand scale, but which, with careful reflection and just collaboration with others, one can conquer, in the process, seizing one’s humanity.

  67. Fran Barlow
    January 1st, 2014 at 11:39 | #67

    Oops …

    Perhaps the rightist will begin choosing to stay amongst those sharing the same dissonance and eventually become unhinged by the absence of any check on their misanthropy and ignorance.

  68. Nathan
    January 1st, 2014 at 11:48 | #68

    Classic ignorant right-winger.

    There have been drastic changes in US banking regulation which correlate beautifully with stability in the banking sector. The US banking system in the early 20th century was very unstable culminating in 1929 crash. In 1933 Roosevelt introduced various regulations of which Glass-Steagall was the centrepiece. There followed about 5 decades of unprecedented stability. In the 80’s, the Reagan administration began the serious undercutting of these regulations, adding loopholes so they could be avoided. A similar story was taking place under Thatcher in the UK. Undeterred by the 87 crash this program was continued by Democrat and Republican politicians until Glass-Steagall was finally repealed in 1999. From that point on we moved into an almost unprecedented era of deregulation, until the entire global economy crashed.

    The story of financial industry regulation isn’t really the whole story of the GFC, but it’s a huge part and statements to the effect of ” but there’s always been some regulation” are uninformed, asinine nonsense.

  69. Julie Thomas
    January 1st, 2014 at 12:05 | #69


    I asked for some writing or thoughts from the right about how one goes about the task of building a good society. However you want to define it, is not the question.

    Did you miss that simple request? Where have ‘the right’ written or talked about society and what would be a decent society?

  70. Trev
    January 1st, 2014 at 12:17 | #70

    @faust Love your sweeping assumptions! You don’t believe the Murdoch powered MSM had anything to do with creating the impression of incompetence in the centre-right ALP government? I’ll believe the international rating agencies, the World Bank & the IMF on this one.

  71. rog
    January 1st, 2014 at 12:22 | #71


    Financial institutions were regulated before during and after the crash….

    ..not if you accept the evidence http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-FCIC/pdf/GPO-FCIC.pdf

    The crash was man made, avoidable and due to a failure to regulate.

  72. Alan
    January 1st, 2014 at 12:43 | #72

    I am not going to go through all of Faust’s list of schoolboy howlers, but I will address a couple. All he does is map the contemporary meaning of left and right onto the nineteenth century and then claim happy precedent for the contemporary right.

    It is true that Lincoln was Republican. It is equally true that in 1877 the Republicans stole the presidency by agreeing to withdraw federal troops from the South and allow the former slave-owners to take control of Southern state governments, often by force alone. I’m not sure abandoning African-Americans in the South to another century of de facto apartheid is the kind of glorious rightwing success that Faust is eager to instruct us on.

    It is equally true that most of the staes, interests and population groups that voted Southern Democrat in 1860 now vote Republican. The reason I say Faust’s retrojection of our notion of left and right is extremely misleading is that the party of Abraham Lincoln morphed into the party of Jefferson Davis after the Civil Rights Movement. Lincoln must be spinning in his grave over ‘Republican’ governors and legislatures defending the the use of the Confederate flag.

    Faust assigns Roman catholic emancipation to Wellington, exclusively and solely. There is no mention of O’Connell, the popular agitation in both Ireland and England, or Wellington’s fear, as a member of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy that O’Connell’s movement would lead rapidly to an independent Ireland.

    In Brazil the monarchy enacted emancipation. The slave-owning aristocracy responded by overthrowing the throne and establishing a republic with de facto apartheid. Does this mean Brazil should, in Faust’s world, immediately recall the Braganças?

  73. Donald Oats
    January 1st, 2014 at 12:53 | #73


    Your question is answered.

    Happy New Year.

  74. Brian
    January 1st, 2014 at 12:58 | #74

    In the 1960ies when Kennedy and then Johnson enacted the raft of Civil Rights legislation that changed the “old”south Johnson said that would cost the Democrats the southern vote
    Events have proved him right,as the Repoublicans ,mostly hard liners now hold all the seats in congress with a few exceptions, across the”old” South
    This has freed the Democrats however from an old reactionary bloc whoc made the Demoicrats a curious amalgam of conservatives and progressives…and made the Republicans so right wing as to be unelectedable

  75. James
    January 1st, 2014 at 13:21 | #75

    Going back to Maurice Newman; his comments appear to support the contention that it is possible to be factually errant and economically illiterate and still be very successful in business. This is not a right/left issue, but would tend to suggest that factors other than rationality and knowledge are key to corporate success. My observation of the matter would support the contention that successful corporate captains excel in a narrow range of social skills; the ability to be charming and ruthless with an unhealthy moral disregard for guile and dissimulation.

    In the current economic phase, whatever term one wishes to use, the dominance of the corporation with the sole objective of making money against every aspect of human and environmental respect has rightly gained these figments of modern capitalism the descriptive psychological profile of a psychopath. Perhaps the skills to run one successfully require a complementary profile.

    More to the point, seeing the destruction of the environment in left/right terms is probably unhelpful. The predisposition of the straighteners and fixers, the apostles of narrowness, to use Keating’s terms, to ride roughshod over sound argument and more importantly, sound policy, purely for the satisfaction of winning (whether financially or in the realm of public opinion) does not require a debate, which those on the side of rationality are likely to lose, but a concerted civil action to both discredit these destroyers and demonstrate an alternative.

  76. January 1st, 2014 at 20:02 | #76

    Its a bit tribal, and so is AFL. The thing about AFL is that reality bites you in the bum. You can insist all you like that yours is the best team, or your style of play is best, but a couple of thumping losses tends to shake your confidence.

    Without this regular reality check, you can easily spout your sides mantra. Without the reality check, opinion makers can make out that you are winning when you are losing.

    I think the right are currently more deluded than the left (my side). And I think it is a mixture of delusion and dishonesty, with the Bolt’s of this world being rather less delusional.

  77. John Quiggin
    January 1st, 2014 at 20:27 | #77


    Thanks for making these points. I was too lazy to respond, but you’ve nailed it.

  78. chrisl
    January 1st, 2014 at 20:34 | #78

    John Brookes Would you regard the ship stuck in the Antarctic reality biting people in the bum ?
    Clearly they thought it would be a lovely jaunt ,following in the footsteps of Mawson , doing a few cursory experiments and showing how the climate had changed.And now here they are, disrupting several supply chains, costing millions and rapidly becoming a laughing stock. How could this happen?

  79. John Quiggin
    January 1st, 2014 at 21:15 | #79


    Do you really believe this kind of thing, or is it all tribal pointscoring for you?

    Believe it or not, I intend this question seriously. Can you really believe, on the strength of obviously silly claims from people like Bolt (utterly unqualified, and with a long track record of being factually wrong) that you are smarter and better informed than the thousands of scientists who have devoted their lives to studying various aspects of this problem – unwillingly, so in the case of people like ecologists and marine biologists who have enough problems without climate change loaded on top.

  80. klem
    January 1st, 2014 at 21:40 | #80


    Not bad, the highest temp recorded at Lake Eyre was 61C.

  81. klem
    January 1st, 2014 at 21:42 | #81

    @Julie Thomas
    So you were wrong, big deal.

  82. Neil Hanrahan
    January 1st, 2014 at 21:44 | #82


    Thank you for your interest. I see no advantage in satisfying your curiosity so will not. I was prompted to require someone who was making ill-informed and abusive comments to put his credentials on the line as I suspected that he was, with some not negligible degree of probability, just someone who had been an employee solicitor retired with disability pension or other benefits as a result of mental/emotional problems. He appeared to have some slight knowledge of the law just a millimeter or two above the level of the bush or barrack room lawyer. He doesn’t seem to have responded. Perhaps if you asked him to he might.

  83. Megan
    January 1st, 2014 at 21:51 | #83

    @Neil Hanrahan

    I see our comments crossed paths.

    That’s a shame – if your judgments are on the public record I see no reason not to direct me to them. You claimed to have held judicial/quasi-judicial roles and it would be interesting to read some of your judgments.

    On the other hand, you may have adjudicated a year 7 debate, once – in which case it would most likely not be of any interest.

  84. Neil Hanrahan
    January 1st, 2014 at 21:54 | #84

    @Oliver Townshend
    Yes it’s insulting both ways but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true in the sense that a lot of the psychology of religious belief is involved in many cases. As other’s have pointed out tribalism is one and tribalism is readily apparent on this like most similar blogs (whether left or right and whether one is talking about climate or some other subject). A way of ordering a good part of one’s world view is another even if it is apparent that most people hold somewhat inconsistent views of different parts of reality at the same time, a phenomenon not unknown to the those who have researched economic and investment psychology and people’s instinctive feel (usually dodgy) for probabilities.

  85. Neil Hanrahan
    January 1st, 2014 at 22:00 | #85

    If I thought you really entertained that final amusing jibe as possibly capturing the truth then I wouldn’t think anything you were likely to say about anything important worth a moment’s attention. But you do know better I think. Despite that mild compliment based on your posts I would invite you to disclose what, on your CV, would add to your credit when making assertions on this or any blog…. Sauce for the gander……

  86. Megan
    January 1st, 2014 at 22:02 | #86

    @Neil Hanrahan

    I never claimed to have held judicial/quasi-judicial roles – you did.

    Having made the claim you are now being coy about supporting it. Matter for you.

  87. Neil Hanrahan
    January 1st, 2014 at 22:10 | #87


    I find your questions posed to Faust about evidence for the social advances he claims for the right rather odd. Surely it is not evidence that you want but a careful analysis to exhibit the association of those well understood advances with the right. Perhaps like JQ you are in want of any real understanding of right wingers or anyone indeed except those that you can classify as friend or enemy. Or if not “understanding” then “definition”.

    The part of the great Anglo-Irish nobleman the first Duke of Wellington in facilitating Catholic Emancipation even though in his case it was somewhat against his instincts, invites attention to what you, JQ – or Faust – regard as right wing. In terms of the right and left which sat in the Etats Generales Wellington was of course Right,as were the Bishops and it seems reasonable to regard all, in current terms, as Right who voted for the abolition of the slave trade in 1806 since only a handful were even elected by propertied city dwellers. And so on, but surely you know all those commonplace facts. So give us what is missing, viz. your idea of what is/was/will be right wing.

  88. chrisl
    January 1st, 2014 at 22:11 | #88

    JQ your response had nothing to do with the question I posed (to John Brookes) And what is with the obsessoin with Andrew bolt? Around 53 per cent of people voted right of centre last election. Please …get out more
    Clearly they thought it would be a lovely jaunt ,following in the footsteps of Mawson , doing a few cursory experiments and showing how the climate had changed.And now here they are, disrupting several supply chains, costing millions and rapidly becoming a laughing stock. How could this happen?

  89. January 1st, 2014 at 22:17 | #89


    A ship stuck in ice. Proves what exactly? The world just had the hottest November ever, and you are hoping to trump that with a ship stuck in ice?

    When it comes to dishonesty, you can take one isolated piece of information and, ignoring the great body of information already in existence, claim that your thesis is proved.

    I’ll be entirely honest about my opinion of global warming. I think its real, and human caused. I also believe it will be very damaging. But I’m less sure of that last bit. Many lefties take a strange view of global warming, seeing it as an opportunity to don hair shirts and make a CO2 free penance. I can’t see this – but it is a huge problem.

    Global warming is not part of an attack on capitalism. It does mean that yet more regulation of unfettered libertarianism is necessary. But that is no big deal.

  90. January 1st, 2014 at 22:28 | #90

    And we (the lefty intelligentsia wannabees), use Bolt as a kind of short hand. We could use Albrechtsen or Sloane, or Devine or lots of others. But Bolt is only 4 letters long, and harder to misspell, and typifies the right wing demagogue.

    The Macquarie dictionary new words committee is currently considering adding an extra meaning to “bolt”. Submissions for the definition are now open. Do your worst.

  91. Megan
    January 1st, 2014 at 22:38 | #91

    @Neil Hanrahan

    Presumably you are familiar with the convention that questions involve a sentence with a question mark as its final punctuation?

    I didn’t ask Faust a question in this thread, AFAIK.

    Having recently displayed an inability to comprehend a fairly short and simple Judgment of a Federal Court Judge, I suppose it is unsurprising that you seem to have confused my comments with someone else’s (perhaps Julie’s) questioning of ‘Faust’.

    There’s every possibility that you are a nice person, but you are certainly pompous beyond all reasonable justification.

  92. Neil Hanrahan
    January 1st, 2014 at 22:46 | #92


    I won’t applaud you for being against the Iraq war because I don’t know your reasons. However i do note that while people presumably left of centre like Richard Butler and Kevin Rudd were loudly declaring that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and “everyone” (scil. who matters) believes it, I proferred the lonely view that the one person who really wanted everyone to believe in the WMDs was Saddam Hussein. Well, not “everyone” but he really did need the Iranians, the Saudis and his own generals and Iraqis generally to believe he had them which was a completely adequate explanation for him behaving as though he was concealing something. Of course I had no idea of the degree of incompetence we would see in US government (actually at all levels) in the 21st century: Whatshisname the first Administrator who disbanded the Iraqi Army and sacked all the Baathists; the handling of Hurricane Katrina if you like; the appointment of people like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden to positions where they could spread OUR secrets to all and sundry; lack of regulation of the financial sector; budgetary profligacy and waste at all levels including “entitlements”, cost of health care, vast cost overruns in everything, partly fostered by corrupt or near corrupt lobbying etc. So I was willing to be agnostic on the basis that if the US knew what it was doing and had the political stamina and ability and wlliingness to deploy the very expensive military means for as long as it took our grandchildren, and Iraqis’ grandchildren might look back and approve the Bush Admiinistration’s decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately my doubts were justified. I would even go so far as to wonder why the US didn’t simply threaten the Taliban government in Afghanistan with bombing them (as Clinton used bombing in the Balkans but even more ruthlessly) until they handed over Osama bin Laden. (I can’t believe that the US incompetence extended to thinking that they were going to get some economic advantage out of some pipeline or mineral resources).

    Would a Crean or Beazley government have refused to go along with the US in invading Iraq? I doubt it. BTW, what position should have been taken on the sancitions which, thanks to the way Saddam Hussein responded may well have cost the lives of many Iraqi children for years before the invasion?

    On the bright side, it looks as though our highly imperfect but still very creative major ally is going to get another chance. It’s fracking is going to give it another 15 or 20 years to solve its huge problems. Can anyone cheer me up by giving reason to suppose it will? Mind you, even if it doesn’t solve them it isn’t going to be the basket case that it might be if its population was ageing like that of Japan and Europe. Without compulsory voting it should be able to stagger on with a very unequal society as long as they can resurrect much of the middle class, or rather create conditions in which 50 per cent of the population can do it for themselves.

  93. chrisl
    January 1st, 2014 at 22:57 | #93

    John Brookes That is a pretty reasonable answer.Lefties do seem to to want to take our lifestyles away and I am not sure why that is.Just live your own life as you see fit. Do no harm to others.
    A ship stuck in ice.Proves what exactly.Reality

  94. Neil Hanrahan
    January 1st, 2014 at 22:57 | #94


    Are you losing the plot a little? Not only did i not suggest that you had claimed some sort of judicial or quasi-judicial position I specifically referred to someone else’s possible want of legal credentials but then added a suggestion that, having shown an interest in what I may have done or written elsewhere you might disclose similar information about yourself. However, the lay down case is your denial of asking a question of Faust, not to mention your rather arch if not supercilious (pompous?) grammatical point.

    This is what you said:

    The world according to Faust:
    right wingers have done things like:
    -help abolish slavery,
    -fought for Roman Catholic emancipation,
    -opened the world up to free trade,
    -outlawing women and children in mines,
    -opened up democracy to previously non-franchised,
    -and enacted progressive reforms such as primary education and an expanded university system.
    Is there any evidence to support this?


    I would prefer to give people the impression of pomposity than careless inaccuracy or of leaving big holes in an argument.

  95. Megan
    January 1st, 2014 at 23:06 | #95

    @Neil Hanrahan

    The people who knew best that Hussein had exactly zero WMD were the neocons and their establishment media accomplices who firstly convinced “us” that he did and secondly that an illegal war of aggression was the correct course to follow.

    I couldn’t care less for your applause, thanks.

  96. Megan
    January 1st, 2014 at 23:11 | #96

    @Neil Hanrahan

    Comprehension is quite evidently not your strong suit. That question was both rhetorical and general.

  97. Neil Hanrahan
    January 1st, 2014 at 23:13 | #97

    @John Quiggin

    Good, I see reference to the thousands of scientists etc. So perhaps you can answer the question about where that almost mythical figure of 97 per cent of some lot of people or other who are supposed to be relevant comes from. And whether it is worth a row of beans.

    I remember reading somewhere that some minor thesis by some undergraduate was the source of the 97 per cent originally. But more recently I have seen it being claimed as the figure which (coincidentally) was arrived at by someone looking at all (really?!?) the published peer-reviewed articles on some subjects and counting those which seemed to be affirming some (and what?) version of the AGW is real and dangerous thesis and those which were not (what counted for putting them into the for or against or agnostic category I have no idea). Against that I recall someone getting up a petition or statement by some 30,000 scientists of all persuasions, some 9000 with doctorates, who, who were willing to say that they were unconvinced of the AGW is real and dangerous hypothesis. Do you have any position on this “consensus’ business JQ? And do you have any faith in those doing the literature review which is the product of the IPCC’s editors, contributors etc.? Since, whether you accept the Laframboise evisceration of the IPCC or not it is clear that there are plenty of pretty dodgy or merely unqualified people associated with it, what faith should one place in it and what is the rational basis on which one should assess what it reports both in its Summary for Policy Makers and in its other chapters?

  98. January 1st, 2014 at 23:28 | #98

    @Neil Hanrahan

    Yes, the vast majority of actual climate scientists do believe in anthropogenic global warming (AGW). You can read Naomi Oreske’s book on it. As for the 30,000 signatures, with the supposed 9000 Phds, maybe they were all right wingers? Have a look at http://www.skepticalscience.com/OISM-Petition-Project.htm

    All you’ve demonstrated is that mud sticks, and that the anti-AGW crowd have been throwing a lot of mud.

    Or maybe you are just trying to prove Prof Quiggin’s hypothesis about the existence of sane honest right wingers?

  99. Megan
    January 2nd, 2014 at 01:06 | #99

    @Neil Hanrahan

    You must have been a very interesting “judicial/quasi-judicial” person to appear before.

    I remember reading somewhere…I have seen it being claimed…I recall someone…

    I’ve often heard it said that some people recall hearing or reading somewhere things which are absolute bollocks and yet believe them to be true.

  100. Alan
    January 2nd, 2014 at 01:46 | #100

    @Neil Hanrahan

    The references for the figure of 97% are available from NASA. You may care to read the material at that link.

    Lest you be too busy making judicial and semi-judicial decisions, the papers they cite are:

    W. R. L. Anderegg, “Expert Credibility in Climate Change,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Vol. 107 No. 27, 12107-12109 (21 June 2010); DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1003187107.

    P. T. Doran & M. K. Zimmerman, “Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union Vol. 90 Issue 3 (2009), 22; DOI: 10.1029/2009EO030002.

    N. Oreskes, “Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” Science Vol. 306 no. 5702, p. 1686 (3 December 2004); DOI: 10.1126/science.1103618.

    You are welcome to hunt for your undergraduate among the authors. Equally you are welcome to retract your nonsensical claim about having read something somewhere about someone that says something or other that you are not completely sure of.

Comment pages
1 2 12102
Comments are closed.