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Sandpit

August 18th, 2014

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on.

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  1. patrickb
    August 18th, 2014 at 17:06 | #1

    In a bold move the government appears to have moved into full religio-fascist mode:

    “everyone has got to put this country, its interests, its values and its people first, and you don’t migrate to this country unless you want to join our team”

    Guess who’s decided what interests and values are in and what are out and we’ll be told in due course who’s off to the re-education camp. It’s crude but it just might work.

  2. Ken Fabian
    August 18th, 2014 at 17:40 | #2

    As something of a fixation of mine, the dishonesty inherent in the Abbott government’s unwillingness to openly declare the thinking underpinning it’s position on climate has tended to be a dominant theme of many of my comments here and elsewhere.

    Just wondering how others interpret attempts leading LNP efforts to frame the climate debate as about free speech – like Julie Bishop some time back and, more recently, George Brandis, who has claimed those who reject the science on climate are being unfairly and unreasonably excluded from debate by eco-orthodoxy.

    So, do these people truly believe that they are forced to restrain from entering into honest debate by eco-orthodoxy and an overwhelming requirement for political correctness – that ‘greenies’ have so much authoritarian power in the body politic that they are actually forcing those who disagree to avoid debate, remain unforthcoming, misleading and deceptive? Or are we seeing a well thought out pre-emptive effort to establish these justifications and excuses in the public’s mind in case Australia’s journalists cease their lazy and apathetic, if not openly supportive approach to this deception upon Australian voters and demand an accounting?

    I can’t see myself that climate science deniers have ever suffered from exclusion from positive media exposure or public debate myself, although it looks to me that Abbott and team do go to a lot of effort to refrain from entering into any real debate on climate, whilst leaving the dissemination of views they appear to agree with to allied and supportive commentators. It looks to me more like they are avoiding a debate they can’t win and keeping it from getting oxygen to prevent being burned than any infringement of any right to say what they really think.

  3. Ken Fabian
    August 18th, 2014 at 17:44 | #3

    Oops, should be “… attempts of leading LNP luminaries…”

  4. Donald Oats
    August 18th, 2014 at 17:45 | #4

    @patrickb
    I’d make a comment, but I don’t feel like being carted off for some “values re-adjustment” at the nearest re-education camp (Nauru? Xmas Island?). Damn, I can hear the jackboots on the stairs…

  5. ZM
    August 18th, 2014 at 17:48 | #5

    It looks like they’re trying to position climate science in the public discourse away from the objectivism associated with the physical sciences and into a realm like religion or artistic taste where ‘freedom of speech’ etc applies – don’t know if it’s orchestrated or their like the Borg and just think alike. Howard gave that speech earlier in the year about ‘we don’t need a new religion’ meaning climate science etc.

    Ministers, mps, and public servants are required to tell the truth , so I don’t see that they could get away with it if called on the matter. The news media don’t seem to be up to it though.

  6. Ken Fabian
    August 20th, 2014 at 10:01 | #6

    ZM – they do seem to be practicing a deliberately deniable style of denial and the decisions to wind back pretty much everything climate related are consistently justified for reasons other than rejection of climate science. It does look like a job for journalism to induce or demand (or investigate to reveal a) more expansive explanation.

  7. Watkin Tench
    August 20th, 2014 at 11:31 | #7

    Interesting to see how (mostly) white liberals with a green bent have been browned off by Neil deGrasse Tyson decision to speak truth to power in respect of genetically modified food.

    I’ve also noted how green sites like Grist appeal to people who want to impose sterilisation on the masses and who argue a global return to organic food.

    Ironically, the call for a global return to organic agriculture is taking place at a time when the FAO and NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa are talking about how synthetic fertilisers are needed for food security and pointing out various sucess stories.

    Meanwhile the suitably rotund high-caste brahmin, Vandana Shiva, continues to fatten her wallet and wallpaper her house with the money and awards bestowed on her by an educated liberal elite and its institutions.

    We live in an odd world.

  8. Watkin Tench
    August 20th, 2014 at 11:52 | #8

    A very interesting post by Exra Klein:

    In laboratory settings, there’s no evident difference between liberals and conservatives in their propensity to believe what they want, evidence be damned. In one experiment, Yale law professor Dan Kahan showed you could get liberals to start doubting global warming (and conservatives to begin accepting it) by making clear that any solution would require geoengineering. In another, he showed that both liberals and conservatives were more likely to rate someone an expert on climate change if they agreed with their conclusions. In a third, he showed liberals were about as resistant to evidence showing concealed carry laws are safe as conservatives were to evidence showing climate change is dangerous.

    The difference, at least for now, isn’t between liberals and conservatives. It’s between the liberal and conservative establishments.

    The difference is that conservatism’s mistrust of climate science has taken over the Republican Party — even politicians like Mitt Romney and John McCain have gone wobbly on climate science — while liberalism’s allergy to messing with nature hasn’t had much effect on the Democratic Party. And part of the reason is that the validators liberals look to on scientifically contested issues have refused to tell them what they want to hear.

    I think this has always been the key point in democracy, although it sounds elitist to say so and probably is. As I see it, the politically engaged base, left and right, is rat’s nests of homespun truths, petty prejudices and superstitions.

    But this doesn’t matter quite so much provided that between the base and the political elite you have a thin line of smart and pragmatic intellectuals that the politicians listen to.

  9. ZM
    August 20th, 2014 at 12:24 | #9

    ” although it sounds elitist to say so and probably is. As I see it, the politically engaged base, left and right, is rat’s nests of homespun truths, petty prejudices and superstitions.
    But this doesn’t matter quite so much provided that between the base and the political elite you have a thin line of smart and pragmatic intellectuals that the politicians listen to.”

    You’re right – this does sound elitist. Also as usual you fail to note who the people you attack are, and also fail to outline your own vision for a fair and sustainable food system moving to zero ghg emissions including nitrous oxide and methane. Feel free to offer your own design solutions up for us to give you helpful suggestions instead of tilting at strawmen (as windmills are taller tilting at windmills is much more heroic – its quite cowardly tilting at strawmen while they sing ‘if I only had a brain’)

  10. zoot
    August 20th, 2014 at 13:04 | #10

    Who is Exra Klein and why should I take him/her seriously?

  11. patrickb
    August 20th, 2014 at 13:50 | #11

    @Watkin Tench
    “But this doesn’t matter quite so much provided that between the base and the political elite you have a thin line of smart and pragmatic intellectuals that the politicians listen to.”
    Such as yourself presumably?

  12. Watkin Tench
    August 20th, 2014 at 13:59 | #12

    Zoot:

    Yup, I mean’t Ezra Klein.

    ZM:

    Feel free to offer your own design solutions up for us to give you helpful suggestions instead of tilting at strawmen …

    Huh? I have no intention of adding to the half-baked “solutions” offered up by the punters; meaningful solutions will have to come from the thin line.

    I’m surprised you weren’t able to infer that from the comment you quote.

    But I do plant lots of trees, which is something almost anyone can do. It is also cheap, personally satisfying and good fun if you grow them from seed.

  13. David Irving (no relation)
    August 20th, 2014 at 14:01 | #13

    @Watkin Tench
    Who would that be, Watkin? There may be some white progressives who are anti-GM (and anti-vaxxers), but the better educated ones aren’t, in principle – after all, you shouldn’t cherry-pick your science.

  14. ZM
    August 20th, 2014 at 14:05 | #14

    Watkin Tench,
    I have been told it sounds insincere if I say I am confused by someone’s comment to be more polite. So, my good fellow, you do appear to be contradicting your previous comments about how expert solutions imposed on ‘the market’ are not a good idea – so which is it then? Experts or free-marketism or something else?

    And how do the public get a say in your preferred solution to curing the ails of the world?

  15. Watkin Tench
    August 20th, 2014 at 14:16 | #15

    ZM,

    Nope. The relevant area of expertise is environental economics and env economists tend to advocate the type of light touch pro-innovation market friendly policies advocated here by Prof Quiggin.

    Quiggin is part of the thin line while people who comment frequently on blogs, including myself, are invariably part of the largely superstitious, ignorant and tribal heard 🙂

    And how do the public get a say in your preferred solution to curing the ails of the world?

    The beauty of our democarcy is that the public and policy are separated by a rather large barge pole. This isn’t the case in California, where you have CIR, and the results speak for themselves.

  16. Watkin Tench
    August 20th, 2014 at 14:17 | #16

    oops, herd not heard. sorry pedants 😉

  17. Tim Macknay
    August 20th, 2014 at 14:17 | #17

    Oh dear. Someone has leaked some News Ltd documents to Crikey showing that the outfit’s newspapers are all in freefall and headed for disaster. Cue exploding heads, frothing mouths and bared fangs at The Australian in 5, 4, 3…

  18. ZM
    August 20th, 2014 at 14:26 | #18

    Watkin Tench,

    The relevant experts are land and environmental scientists not economists (exasperated sigh)!
    And the ecological economists I’ve come across tend to argue more strongly for conservative land and resource use actually.

    So I see you think the public should not be consulted at all ? Funny how lots of experts disagree with you.

  19. zoot
    August 20th, 2014 at 15:33 | #19

    @Watkin Tench
    Ok. Who is Ezra Klein and why should I take him/her seriously?

  20. Megan
    August 20th, 2014 at 16:24 | #20

    @Tim Macknay

    That’s good news.

    Sadly, Fairfax has obviously decided that mimicking News Ltd’s “style” of “journalism” is somehow a good idea. Brisbane Times is now so reliably shite that I’ve stopped checking it out most days.

    And, I imagine it should also be: “cue denials, lies, distractions and smear at news ltd in 5, 4, 3…”

  21. Watkin Tench
    August 20th, 2014 at 19:25 | #21

    Zoot:

    Ok. Who is Ezra Klein and why should I take him/her seriously?

    Ezra Klein is a hairdresser in Wisconsin and I’d very upset if you took anything he said seriously.

  22. zoot
    August 20th, 2014 at 20:48 | #22

    Ezra Klein is a hairdresser in Wisconsin and I’d very upset if you took anything he said seriously.

    So why did you quote him?

  23. Nick
    August 20th, 2014 at 21:18 | #23

    Ezra Klein: “In one experiment, Yale law professor Dan Kahan showed you could get liberals to start doubting global warming (and conservatives to begin accepting it) by making clear that any solution would require geoengineering.”

    Watkin, did you read the relevant paper for yourself? Or are you just relying on the opinions of a “validator liberal” who “told you what you want to hear”?

    Because I just read it, and it didn’t show anything of the sort.

  24. Megan
    August 21st, 2014 at 00:57 | #24

    @Nick

    ‘RationalWiki’ defines “Woo”, partially, thus:

    Woo is a term used among skeptical writers to describe pseudoscientific explanations that have certain common characteristics.

    The term comes from woo-woo, an epithet used in the 1990s by science and skeptical writers to ridicule people who believe or promote such things. This is in turn believed to have come from the onomatopoeia “woooooo!” as a reaction to dimmed lights or magic tricks. The term implies a lack of either intelligence or sincerity on the part of the person or concepts so described.

  25. Megan
    August 21st, 2014 at 01:31 | #25

    @Tim Macknay

    Looks like it’s already started:

    Julian Clarke, described the figures on Wednesday as ”14 months out of date, have been illegally circulated and are not from our statutory accounts. They do not reflect the current performance of the business”.

    He told staff in an email: ”We have continually emphasised our confidence in the future of our print and digital assets, driven by an experienced management team which has developed robust plans for the future.

    ”We will be sharing details of these plans with you over the next few weeks and I look forward to working with you as we continue to build the business.”

    The company declined to comment on whether its 2014 results were better

    Sadly though, this market distortion is Murdoch’s MO for Australia. Nobody else is so dedicated to destroying Australian democracy by strangling its media. And anybody wanting to save it could not afford to lose that much money every year just to compete with his hatefest-lie-machine.

  26. Nick
    August 21st, 2014 at 11:49 | #26

    @Megan

    I’m probably more inclined to believe it comes from “to woo someone”, or “pitching woo”, as in to flatter a love interest or potential customer.

    Which I think dates back further than >1850s magic revivalism and dimmable lights 🙂

    The kind of talk that makes you feel a bit giddy or “woozy” perhaps? Though that sounds like a later word.

  27. Nick
    August 21st, 2014 at 11:52 | #27

    So, I guess Watkin is in the right ballpark when he’s talking about Amway salesmen on the net, flogging overpriced ‘health bars’ and ‘boost juices’ and whatnot…

    Which is largely about ‘personal health’ and ‘what’s good for you’, and flattering the customer by telling them how smart they are to now be in the know…

    It’s also about preying on people who are unhealthy or ill, or have relatives who are unhealthy or ill, and who quite possibly can’t afford proper treatment…selling ‘magic cancer cures’.

  28. patrickb
    August 21st, 2014 at 14:32 | #28

    Govt fearmongering ramps up another notch. The PM raises the possibility of beheadings happening in Australia:

    “it could happen in countries like Australia if we relax our vigilance against terrorism and potential terrorism here on our shores”

    Note that he weakens his argument by invoking ‘potential terrorism’ as there hasn’t actually been any terrorism here for decades and no sign that any is substantially planned. Yet another demonstration that an apparently well educated person can be enticed to make any feeble minded statement if they think it justifies their ends.

  29. Watkin Tench
    August 21st, 2014 at 14:50 | #29

    Thanks, Nick, I you are correct.

    I think Klein may have looked at the figs on page 9 and the conclusion that the findings support Kahan’s thesis but missed the graph that showed geoeng had little impact on libs re risk assessment.

    I’ll have to read Klein more carefully in future.

  30. Nick
    August 21st, 2014 at 17:20 | #30

    No worries, Watkin.

    Since Klein’s link was to another article, not the actual report, I get the feeling he didn’t actually read the report…

    I think he just went on faith that what the first writer said was true – which it pretty much was, and Klein probably just misinterpreted it.

    But yeah – not a good mistake to make in any case. But we all do it now and then 😉

  31. Watkin Tench
    August 21st, 2014 at 18:08 | #31

    … there hasn’t actually been any terrorism here for decades and no sign that any is substantially planned.

    Right wing terror in Oz since turn of century:

    – 2001 attempted massacre at abortion clinic by Christian activist resulting in one death before perpetrator was stopped

    – firebombing of 3 Chinese businesses by white supremacists in 2004

    – white supremacists with at least one policeman as a collaborator fire shots at mosque.

    Zammit notes various foiled Jihad terrorist plans:

    … an unsuccessful al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah-guided conspiracy to bomb Israeli and Jewish targets during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, a Lashkar e-Toiba-guided plot that was foiled in 2003, two self-starting cells arrested in Melbourne and Sydney in 2005’s Operation Pendennis, and a self-starting (but al-Shabab-connected) plot to attack Holsworthy army barracks in 2009.

    On the bright side, Zammit notes that we don’t have anything like the Jihadist problem France and Englad have.

    Anyway, with terrorism experts telling us that several thousand westerners including ~ 300 Australians are currently involved in Jihad in Syria and Iraq alone and one in nine returnees from previous Jihads became involved in terror back home, I complacency is not indicated.

  32. zoot
    August 21st, 2014 at 18:21 | #32

    @Watkin Tench

    I’ll have to read Klein more carefully in future.

    Those Wisconsin hairdressers can really lead you astray.

  33. Megan
    August 21st, 2014 at 19:05 | #33

    @Tim Macknay

    The champions of free speech and your right to know raced straight to court and have got a settlement from Crikey – liars and hypocrites:

    Crikey owner Private Media and News Corp have reached a legal agreement that prevents Crikey from hosting or further distributing the News Corporation Australia Weekly Operating Statement for the week ended June 30, 2013.

    As part of the agreement, Private Media has promised to destroy by 5pm today any hard and electronic copies in its possession.

    Presumably there would have been a few copies of the 270 page document downloaded from Crikey while they were up.

    News Corp are liars, bullies and hypocrites.

  34. Tim Macknay
    August 21st, 2014 at 19:45 | #34

    @Megan
    That sucks. I thought Crikey was going to flip them the bird. But I guess the prospect of months in court and vast legal costs got to them in the end, even if the News Corp action was a bluff. As you say, liars bullies and hypocrites.

  35. Megan
    August 21st, 2014 at 21:41 | #35

    @Tim Macknay

    The emperor tends to be a bit sensitive about his state of undress – that is, when anyone points it out to the gormless masses cheering his splendid outfit.

  36. Tim Macknay
    August 21st, 2014 at 22:48 | #36

    @Megan
    🙂

  37. patrickb
    August 22nd, 2014 at 13:28 | #37

    @Watkin Tench
    Yes, remarkably little in the way of Jihadist inspired terror plots. The jailings that have occurred would probably have been caught under the existing criminal code. Complacency? Who’s saying that we’re complacent? I would expect the coercive arm of the state to act as necessary when they have well founded suspicions of a threat to the good order of society as opposed to wasting resources on fishing exhibitions.

    “Anyway, with terrorism experts telling us ”

    Well, they would say that wouldn’t they. Rather than ‘telling us’ maybe they should be made to produce some of the analysis on which they base their tales. I don’t think speculative statements about numbers of participants and what they may do when and if they return constitute much in the way of evidence. If there is any substance then further inquires should be made, all of which should happen before we pass a swag of new laws or start talking about beheadings in George street. Over to you …

  38. August 24th, 2014 at 22:58 | #38

    So over on the “Freedom of the press … ” thread it has become apparent that “Watkin Tench” is (the commenter formally known as) “Mel”, and “Yuri” is “Midrash”, and “J D” is somewhere in the mix as well. They all suddenly went wrong on that thread. It’s intriguing and I’m wondering if anyone can explain more about this.

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