Old men behaving badly (2nd repost)

I first posted this in 2011, and reposted it in 2014. Sadly, nothing changes, except that the old men keep getting stupider and behaving worse.

John Howard’s endorsement of Ian Plimer’s children’s version of his absurd anti-science tract Heaven and Earth has at least one good feature. I can now cut the number of prominent Australian conservatives for whom I have any intellectual respect down from two to one.[1] Howard’s acceptance of anti-science nonsense shows that, for all his ability as a politician, he is, in the end, just another tribalist incapable of thinking for himself. [2]

Although not all the tribal leaders are old men, an old, high-status man like Howard is certainly emblematic of Australian delusionism . Like a lot of old, high status men, he stopped thinking decades ago, but is even more confident of being right now than when he had to confront his prejudices with reality from time time. Like other delusionists, Howard has no scientific training, shows no sign of understanding statistics and almost certainly hasn’t read any real scientific literature, but nonetheless believes he can rank clowns like Plimer and Monckton ahead of the real scientists.

The situation in the US is similar but even more grimly amusing, with the sole truthteller in the entire Republican party, Jon Huntsman, recently reduced to waffling (in both US and UK/Oz senses of this term) because he briefly looked like having a chance to be the next non-Romney. This tribal mindlessness is reflected in the inability of the Republican Party, at a time when they ought to be unbackable favorites in 2012, to come up with a candidate who can convince the base s/he is one of them, but who doesn’t rapidly reveal themselves as a fool, a knave or both.

And, as evidence of the utter intellectual shamelessness of delusionism, you can’t beat the campaign against wind power, driven by the kinds of absurd claims of risk that would be mocked, mercilessly and deservedly, if they came from the mainstream environmental movement.

The global left is in pretty bad shape in lots of ways. Still, I would really hate to be a conservative right now.

fn1. Now (2014) down to zero. Turnbull has proved he lacks any real substance.

fn2. I’m not saying that all Australian conservatives are mindless tribalists. There’s a large group, epitomized by Greg Hunt and now Malcolm Turnbull, who understand the issues quite well, but are unwilling to speak up. Then there is a group of postmodern conservatives of whom Andrew Bolt is probably the best example, who have passed the point where concepts of truth or falsehood have any meaning – truth is whatever suits the cause on any given day.

4 thoughts on “Old men behaving badly (2nd repost)

  1. You write that John Howard “believes he can rank clowns like (Ian) Plimer and (‘lord’) Monckton ahead of the real scientists.”
    Mr Monckton is more a charlatan than a “scientist”, but at least he believes the nonsense he’s preaching.
    Ian Plimer is now Professor emeritus of earth sciences at The University of Melbourne. Before 1991 he spent 7 years as professor and head of geology at the University of Newcastle.
    The latter would have given him many opportunities to further inform his speciality in mining geology and to form links with, and be lobbied by, the coal mining industry.
    “Lord” Monckton has the excuse, if you like, of being ignorant about the issue of coal and its role in climate change. But Professor Plimer knows exactly what he is doing.

  2. Some columnists at the oz still use Plimer as an authoritative voice when contesting various issues of climate change. Yup, despite the thorough debunking of virtually all of his arguments & despite his anti-science affiliations or his conflicts of interests with various mining directorships, they still rely on his BS to “validate” their ideological rants (masquerading as scientific debate) and when invited on the ABC as guests for programs like “Insiders”, they continue with the same…

  3. Since the rise of ecology consciousness in the late seventies, there has been one long filibuster by vested interests in order to void even doing cheap and common sense things that could alleviate environmental degradation.
    TV shows and press seem to lock the issue into a sort of “permanent becoming”, a sort of Orwellian revisionist Ministry of Truth operation that denies historical context to attempts to have enviro dealt with rationally. Enviro is not something that crept out from underneath a dewy cabbage leaf seconds ago.
    Scientific and humanitarian concerns have in fact been expressed at least since the Rachel Carson and “Silent Spring” exposure the dangers of pesticides sixty years ago.

  4. Prediction… JQ will repost this again within 3yrs >80%

    JQ, how do you beat the news cycle by a day?

    Clintel-ism = denialism…

    ” Last week the UK-based thinktank InfluenceMap, which analyses corporate lobbying on climate change, named the Minerals Council of Australia in a global top 10 of “opponents of climate policy globally”.

    “‘CO2 is plant food’: Australian group signs international declaration denying climate science

    “Mining engineers and business leaders among those joining Clintel group targeting UN

    “Another is the well-known British peer Christopher Monckton, who once likened the leading Australian economist and climate adviser Prof Ross Garnaut to a Nazi.

    “The prominent Clintel member Hugh Morgan, a former chief executive of the Western Mining Corporation, was until his resignation in 2017 a founding director and shareholder in the Cormack Foundation – a $70m funding vehicle for the Liberal party.”… and John Howard.


    “Trade Groups and their Carbon Footprints
    …”Outside the US, the Japanese Business Federation (Keidanren), ranks highly due to its key role in pushing for a coal-focused energy policy for Japan, the world’s 3rd largest economy. The Minerals Council of Australia and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers are also noted as highly climate-oppositional groups that have had a significant impact in undermining climate action in key fossil fuel exporting countries.”


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