Someone should tell this guy about Godwin’s Law

As if it wasn’t already embarrassing enough to be a rightwinger, here’s Dennis Jensen.

Update Judging by the comments, rightwingers are pretty hard to embarrass (after eight years of Bush, and the complete collapse of their economic ideology, I guess this isn’t so surprising). No-one from the dexter side has showed any inclination to disown Jensen as a crackpot and a goodly number have solemnly refuted the jocular suggestion that a PhD in ceramics might be a little cracked.

134 thoughts on “Someone should tell this guy about Godwin’s Law

  1. When I said the bit about being embarrassed, I didn’t mean you, Tony, and I certainly can’t imagine anything embarrassing our Jen.

  2. Godwin’s Law was invented because left wingers, social democrats and socialists have a phobia about this name;

    “National SOCIALIST German Workers’ Party,” [Nazi Party]

  3. Even for you, Tony, this is impressive. In a thread about Godwin’s Law, you take an automatic loss at comment #5. Stunning!

    Terje, I had in mind people like Harry Clarke who manages to take a sensible line on climate change despite supporting the political right and Andrew Norton, who tries to hold a pose of ironic detachment while obviously aware of the clown show that his side of politics has become.

  4. The funny thing about it is, that the Nazis did not have very much to do with it. The book “100 scientist against Einstein” was published in 1931, two years before they gained power. While some who signed the petition were no doubt motivated by Antisemitism, it also had a number of Jewish signers, among them chess champion E. Lasker. The Nazis would never have allowed that.

    If one looks a bit closer to the story the comparisons get quite different. Jensen appears to compare himself to Einstein, which already gives him a decent score on the Crackpot Index (TM).

    The petition against Einstein has a lot in common with the Oregon petition: Like AGW Einstein’s theories had received wide accepance in the relevant community, but was attacked from the fringe by people with questionable credentials.

    Franz

  5. jquiggin Says: February 25th, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Terje, I had in mind people like Harry Clarke who manages to take a sensible line on climate change despite supporting the political right and Andrew Norton, who tries to hold a pose of ironic detachment while obviously aware of the clown show that his side of politics has become.

    SO I suppose the Left-liberal’s “side of politics” enthusiastic (and sometime continued) support of diverse and perverse cultural policies experimented with over the past generation (soft on drugs, open door for illegal immigrants, ethnic lobby rackets, rorts and rotten boroughs, remote indigenous community establishment, open-ended unconditional welfare, revolving door prisons etc ad nauseum) was not a “clown show”.

    I certainly got a lot of cheap and nasty laughs out of it. Although the long-suffering tax-payer and law-abiding citizen eventually had a gut-full.

    [Snorts with scorn and derision]

    And then there is the Left’s notorious hostility to anthopological realism. Almost as bad, in some ways, as the Right’s hostility to ecological realism. No Left Wing War on Science here folks, just keep movin…

  6. Godwin’s Law, stricly speaking, relates to the probability that in an internet chat/comment threads (eg, this one) as the thread progresses one party will hyperbolically liken another commenter to hitler/nazis.

    The spin-off delusion that any reference to hitler/nazis is an automatic debate “loss” is sometimes incorrectly thought to be “godwin’s law”

    References to Nazis in chat/comment threads are usually VERY hyperbolic.

    Chanting “nazi, nazi” at someone is akin to putting your fingers in your ears and chanting “I can’t hear you!”, or saying “the science is in, no more debate”

    The linked article should focus more on the “100 scientists against Einstein” than on Hitler, without the accompanying photo (undoubtedly there to lure readers) the hitler reference may not be so much the remembered focus of the article.

  7. Steve, you are historically correct, but as Wikipedia notes, the automatic loss tradition is well established, and often referred to as Godwin’s Law.

    In any case, as the discussion above indicates, the “100 scientists” talking point is high-level crackpottery even without the (apparently mistaken) Hitler reference.

    Jack, I’ve responded to your idee fixe on quite a few occasions, but I’m not going to this time, and future repetitions of this point will be deleted with prejudice unless I judge them to be germane to the post in question.

  8. “The linked article should focus more on the “100 scientists against Einstein” than on Hitler’

    It was Jensen who brought up Hitler.

  9. Tony G: “Godwin’s Law was invented because [leftists are afraid to notice that Nazis were National Socialists]”

    Tony, do you recall anything of your thought process when you produced this statement? Did you already know something about the invention and history of Godwin’s Law? Or did you just say the first thing that came to mind and felt right? Please be honest.

  10. Tim Lambert asserts that Dr Jensen “only” has a PhD in the Physics of ceramics thereby making him a crackpot.Regardless of the discipline the scientific method still applies.
    Define the question
    Gather information and resources (observe)
    Form hypothesis
    Perform experiment and collect data
    Analyze data
    Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
    Publish results
    Retest (frequently done by other scientists)
    Several of these steps are missing in climate science.
    By the way Tim, what is your “non-crackpot” science discipline?

  11. Just one point I think the actual article was entitled: 100 Authors Against Einstein

    http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Einstein.html
    “Einstein was attacked by some with anti-Jewish leanings. When a pamphlet was published entitled 100 Authors Against Einstein, Einstein retorted “If I were wrong, one would be enough.” Some famous Einstein quotes about God include ”

    and

    “http://www.time.com/time/time100/poc/magazine/a_brief_history_of_rela6d.html”

    “When told of publication of the book One Hundred Authors Against Einstein, he replied, Why 100? If I were wrong, one would have been enough. ”

    You would think that he would at least have checked the title first.

  12. John I don’t think it’s about throwing pots(not that there is anything wrong with that)… From your beloved wiki
    Now a multi-billion dollar a year industry, ceramics engineering and research has established itself as an important field of science. Applications continue to expand as researchers develop new kinds of ceramics to serve different purposes. An incredible number of ceramics engineering products have made their way into modern life.

  13. Godwin’s law was obviously formulated as a means to implementation of Political Correctness, the Right’s attempt to stifle debate from back in the eighties.
    Progressives do not “lose” a debate in finally invoking a “nazi” comparison involving a topic. They will belatedly employ a nazi comparison as a last resort, say along the lines of equivalencing the Gaza invasion to the Warsaw Ghetto, only in the face of obfuscation by righties seeking to deny a meaningful understanding of a situation involving application of rightist ideology.
    So whether the debate is “lost”, depends on the accuracy of the analogy.

  14. paul walter: “Godwin’s law was obviously formulated as a means to implementation of Political Correctness, the Right’s attempt to stifle debate from back in the eighties.”

    Paul, are you serious, or just presenting the opposite contention to Tony G for the sake of doing so? I ask you the same questions I asked him: is this assertion of yours based on actual knowledge of some sort, or does it come from somewhere else, and if so, where?

  15. Mitchell Porter.
    Am BEYOND baffled at you comment.
    What is the nature and substance of the flickin thread, for gods sake?
    Reread my comment and see if you find an example there.

  16. This has incompletely reminded me of something, which is now gnawing at me. Someone, I think in the Bank of England, had an economic law named after him, to the effect that if you took a sound economic measure and started basing policy on it you would distort the measure and the policy. Can anyone remind me of just what law that was?

  17. Tim Lambert @ 11
    Crackpot PhDs… someone should do a thesis on why there is so many of them.

    mitchell porter @ 15

    You should ask yourself this;

    If the left aren’t so embarrassed about their forebears, explain to me why history has been distorted by academics who portray a National Socialist Workers’ Party as right wing extremist, when in fact they were left wing extremists.

  18. Tim Lambert:

    “Crackpot PhDs… someone should do a thesis on why there is so many of them.”

    Another crackpot feeling left out.

  19. This post has for some reason brought out the inner looney in right-wing blog-commenters. The mere mention of Hitler brings out an internal dividedness.

  20. #11 Tim Lambert
    I thought this was a clever use of an image to create a funny comment. I too was amused by the fellow with a PhD in the physics in Ceramics being a climate change denier. The latter term being one, that Barnaby Joyce explained on Lateline, that he dislikes because he links the Holocaust deniers and climate change deniers. I am not sure if this qualifies for Godwin’s Law as the reference is indirect.

    #27 Tony G you might like to turn the National Socialist around – the National part comes first. Many of our Nationals are in fact socialist as they like to privatise the profits and socialise the losses and are indeed quite right wing.

    Perhaps what is lacking in the Climate change scenario is one scientist who is credited with discovering it in the same way as Einstein or Darwin, Newton etc created their theories and then had to dealt with sceptics. Someone should tell Dennis Jensen that his story about the 100 scientists petitioning against Einstein props up the climate change argument rather than refutes it as Franz point out at #8.

  21. What worries me is that we have the right wing climate change deniers and the “left” wing accepting the science but not doing anything substantive about it.

    More concerning, we have the USA, China and India unwilling to do anything about CO2 emissions. They are like 3 mortal enemies with guns in a sinking boat and an unmanned bilge pump that could save them. No-one is willing to man the bilge pump for fear the other two will shoot him in the back.

  22. Tony G,

    I’m not sure who taught you history (or if in fact you were even paying attention) but the National Socialist German Workers’ Party persecuted minorities and perpetrated the holocaust. It doesn’t quite equate with Jack Strocchi’s description of liberals at #10.

    As an example: just because the Liberal party are called that, doesn’t mean they are.

    In fact for me it’s a lot easier to equate conservatism with an authoritarian, patriarchial world view.

    Actually the terminology is really difficult to pin down these days with terms like libertarian socialism or anarchist socialism, which almost seem like oxymorons.

  23. And thus JQ’s reminder leads to Goodhart’s Law. No wonder Godwin’s Law reminded me of it. These days this part of the wikipedia article is particularly interesting:-

    “It has been asserted that the stability of the economic recovery that took place in the United Kingdom under John Major’s government from late 1992 onwards was a result of Reverse Goodhart’s Law: that, if a government’s economic credibility is sufficiently damaged, then its targets are seen as irrelevant and the economic indicators regain their reliability as a guide to policy.”

  24. Quite so, JQ.
    Od’d on irritable pills and not helped by the reappearance of that dreadful woman who announced the sackings at Bonds on Latteline business.
    By way of historical analogy, am thinking of the Scots crofters driven off their homes by absentee landlords requiring their properites for increased pheasant/grouse production for weegend shoots with their mates.
    Definitely a teleological aspect to history…

  25. Was the wonderful Penny Wong suggesting by her comment in the article that the Member for Tangney be made to shut up?

    A comment in my opinion that does not say much for the quality of debate in Federal Parliament.

    I am disappointed that Dr Jensen is not making a more substantial contribution.

  26. #38 Initially, of course, the people were cleared off to make room for sheep, but the sheep in their turn gave way to grouse moors, about the time those who had destroyed the actual clans starting inventing clan tartans and all that stage-Highlander stuff so beloved of the Victorian era, and of Queen Vic herself. But this OT, even for a thread on Godwin’s Law.

  27. John – I wouldn’t call Andrew Norton right wing. He is a classical liberal. ie Libertarian. Harry is right wing.

  28. 6# terjeP says
    “left wingers, social democrats and socialists

    Is there a distinction?

    Yes there is distinction TerjeP – social democrats are not left wingers like free marketers are not fascists.

  29. The words left wing and right wing should be discarded as an unfortunate hangover from the cold war era. It gives the media an excuse to promote division instead of discussion.

  30. On the contrary, I think the terms Left and Right are clearly relevant today, and that it is impossible to avoid terms of this general kind if you want to discuss political ideas.

    To Terje’s point, while it is possible to imagine a libertarian politics that isn’t allied with the political right, and there are even occasional instances emerging in the US, it really doesn’t exist in Australia. It’s absurd to suggest that the CIS, for which Andrew works, is not part of the organised political right, and even more absurd to suggest this of his previous employer, David Kemp.

    As regards the topic of this thread, the CIS has actively promoted the kind of delusional views on climate science espoused by Dennis Jensen. Such views are an almost infallible marker of rightwing tribal affiliation (to be clear, not all rightwingers are delusionists, but nearly all delusionists are rightwingers).

  31. To Terje’s point, while it is possible to imagine a libertarian politics that isn’t allied with the political right, and there are even occasional instances emerging in the US, it really doesn’t exist in Australia. It’s absurd to suggest that the CIS, for which Andrew works, is not part of the organised political right, and even more absurd to suggest this of his previous employer, David Kemp.

    Libertarianism exists in Australia even if it’s profile is smaller than in the USA. And I would put Andrew Norton in the Libertarian camp. I think it is a bit absurd to suggest that the CIS is aligned with anybody. What would it do differently if it was left libertarian?

  32. p.s. Your inclination to divide libertarians into left and right is itself problematic. Libertarians have historically aligned with conservatives but only because historically libertarians wanted to conserve liberty in the face of statism. So yes they are guilty of keeping bad company but not without cause.

  33. Quite apart from the bizarre political references, the logic of Jensen’s argument (and most CC denialists) really is staggering weak. Their claim to CC proponents is:

    You believe X
    You can’t absolutely prove X is 100% correct
    Therefore X is false
    Therefore the opposite of X must be true

    Consider what you get if you apply this logic to something else:

    You believe in Gravity
    You can’t absolutely prove Gravity 100% correct (there are other universal forces that change the results slighting; you can’t see a gravity wave)
    Therefore Gravity is false
    Therefore the opposite of Gravity must be true -we are all floating in space

    Its just rubbish. How does a science PhD believe this?

  34. Ike #33 “West “responsible” For Third of China’s CO2 Emissions’
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/02/western-goods-china-emissions-pollution.php

    ‘About 9% of total Chinese emissions are the result of manufacturing goods for the US, it finds, while 6% come from producing goods for Europe’

    The article goes on to describe unintended consequences of China manufacturing goods for the world such as destruction of forests for furniture and unsustainable extracton of raw materials in places like Africa.

  35. I think that some climate change skepicism might be a good idea, but once hard scientific data is produced – eg exponential increases in CO2 concentrations as measured over decades – then, given then science of the green-house effect, we should proceed on the basis that human induced climate change is an established fact.

    However right-wingers have, for eons, been trained to always complain about: occupational health and safety, minimum wages, taxation, arbitration, licences, human rights, governments, etc etc and always try to exploit society for the benefit of private wealth.

    They must therefore deny climate change but only because public policy addressing climate change will place additional constraints on capitalist business.

    The deniers are now few and constitute little more than wingeing gnats. The big business push is to accept the science but not do anything about it on the basis that this puts Australia on a competitve disadvantage to other producers.

    They accept climate change only to make it worse.

    So my main concern is about those who support climate change but so that nothing is really done about it. Rudd, Wong, Turnbull are in this camp together.

  36. Terje, take a look at the list of speakers who’ve given the CIS Bonython lecture. Just about every one of them is prominently associated with the political right, and a large number are known as neocons, not libertarians (Kagan, Fukuyama and even Rupert Murdoch for example). In twenty-five years, they couldn’t find a single leftish speaker, or even (as far as I can tell) an pro-peace libertarian from somewhere like Cato.

    Then there’s the anti-immigration stuff from Helen Hughes and the social conservatism they were pushing hard a few years back.

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