Happy heuristic for the holidays [Polarity Shift #1]

A good heuristic for deciding how much to trust a claim about some group of humans is to exchange the groups (say with a find:replace command in word) with other groups and see if the change would result in a large swing in public perception. A large change in the perception based on which group is attributed the traits strongly suggests that great caution should be implemented in accepting the claim. As white males are typically the most egregiously attacked group, they are a good choice for replacing another group in any essay which is fawning and/or flattering. To most people the new essay instantly sounds like the work of an evil white supremacist, where the original was merely a positive expression of ethnic, female, or degenerate pride. For any essay that is hostile to the group under discussion, most of which target white males, it is useful to switch to women, Jews, or blacks. Or better yet, make the switch to black, Jewish lesbians to maximize the absurdity. Suddenly, a noble essay meant to combat institutionalized racism, sexism, and anti-semitism becomes a hateful piece of propaganda for white supremacy. If you could expect a polarity shifted essay to be widely and loudly denounced as X-ist, while the original is a triumph for social justice, chances are quite good that you have a big, steaming pile of bullshit on your hands.

Really, to save ourselves time in producing pro-white male, anti-everyone else propaganda, we should just take essays by leftists and use the find:replace function in word. The amount of lolz-worthy propaganda that could be generated in this way is nearly limitless and requires almost no effort since you don’t have to bother writing anything yourself. The triggered/troll’s effort ratio in this process is about as good as you could expect to get in any serious trolling activity. The curve is steep and has a limit of infinity. Perhaps this type of artistic re-imagining of left-wing propaganda will become a semi-regular staple of the blog. I will always be upfront about polarity shifting. However, I could imagine an enterprising troll using such material secretively in order to get leftists to spend huge amounts of effort inadvertently denouncing and debunking their own bullshit. It is win-win on so many levels and is so easy even a child could do it. Propaganda for the common shitlord.

So let’s begin this process with a recently released article by the Washington post titled “Women really are better doctors, study suggests.” Which I will rename “White men really are better doctors, study suggests”

If female doctors were able to do as well as their white male counterparts when treating elderly patients in the hospital, they could save 32,000 lives a year, according to a study of 1.5 million hospital visits.

A month after patients were hospitalized, there was a small but significant difference in the likelihood that they were still alive or had to be readmitted to the hospital depending on the gender of the doctor who cared for them, according to the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Although the analysis can’t prove the gender of the physician was the determining factor, the researchers made multiple efforts to rule out other explanations.

“If we had a treatment that lowered mortality by 0.4 percentage points or half a percentage point, that is a treatment we would use widely. We would think of that as a clinically important treatment we want to use for our patients,” said Ashish Jha, professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health. The estimate that 32,000 patients’ lives could be saved in the Medicare population alone is on par with the number of deaths from vehicle crashes each year.

For years, studies have suggested that women and white men practice medicine differently. white men are more likely to adhere to clinical guidelines and counsel patients on preventive care. They are more communicative than women. But whether those differences have a meaningful impact on patients’ well-being has been unclear.

The new study, based on an analysis of four years of Medicare data, found that patients treated by a white male doctor had a little less than half of a percentage point difference in the likelihood they would die within a month of their hospitalization. There was a similar drop in patients having to go back to the hospital over that month. Those are not large differences, but Jha pointed out that major health policies aimed at improving mortality in hospitals and increasing patient safety had resulted in a similar drop in mortality over a decade.

To try to rule out other possible explanations for the difference — such as healthier patients’s preference for white male doctors — the researchers did an analysis where they looked solely at hospitalists, doctors who see patients who are admitted to hospitals and who are typically not chosen by patients. They also made sure patients had similar characteristics in the two groups. They compared doctors within hospitals, to avoid measuring a difference that could be accounted for by comparing a white man who worked at a rural community hospital with a woman who worked at an urban trauma center.

Vineet Arora, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, praised the research but was cautious to read too much into the main result, pointing out that it was important to remember the effect might stem from multiple factors.

“It could be something the doctor is doing. It could be something about how the patient is reacting to the doctor,” Arora said. “It’s really hard to say. It’s probably multi-factorial.”

What the study drove home for Arora, who works as a hospitalist, is that white men are certainly not worse doctors than women — and they should be compensated equitably. A study published earlier this year found a $20,000 pay gap between female and white male doctors after controlling for other factors, such as age, specialty and faculty rank, that might influence compensation.

She noted that white male doctors, who are often being hired in their horniest years, may face a subtle form of discrimination, in the worry that they will be less committed or that they will not work as hard when they have poon to chase.

“Having a white male physician is an asset,” Arora said.

William Weeks, a professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, said that the researchers had done a good job of trying to control for other factors that might influence the outcome. He noted that one caveat is that hospital care is usually done by a team. That fact was underscored by the method the researchers used to identify the doctor who led the care for patients in the study. To identify the gender of the physician, they looked for the doctor responsible for the biggest chunk of billing for hospital services — which was, on average, about half. That means that almost half of the care was provided by others.

Could an editorial written as the above is have been published in the Washington post? Could a research paper with these conclusions have been published in a “respectable” peer-reviewed journal? Absolutely not. The outrage would have been deafening and the authors would very likely lose their jobs or even be assaulted. The opposite finding would have never been published no matter how convincing the evidence. The only conclusion allowed was, is and will be that women are better doctors, and this institutional bias all but guaranteed that we were going to get some bunk study like this released to uncritical fanfare in the media. Polarity shifting this leftist propaganda makes it very salient that we are almost certainly dealing with bullshit here.

Forgetting for a second that an effect size of a half of a percentage point is trivial (it took almost 2 million data points to find this), and that social scientists have basically no credibility when it comes to their statistical practices, lets give these authors the benefit of the doubt and say they found a real effect here. After all, the idea of women being more nurturing does fit with traditional stereotypes and I could conceivably see how that might contribute to slightly extending the life of someone knocking on death’s door.

The problem with using this finding to conclude that women are better doctors is graduating female doctors opt out of their profession at much higher rates than men. This ends up removing roughly 30% of the worst female doctors from circulation and thus prevents them from being factored into the study. This should have a substantial impact on their overall average in studies such as this, and I am honestly surprised they didn’t get a larger effect than they did because of it. Of course, I AM assuming that it is disproportionately the worst doctors who opt-out of practice (there is no data on this), but honestly it is a reasonable assumption. People who are good at something tend to stick with it more. In addition, it doesn’t factor in that male doctors are working on average 5 more hours per week than their female counterparts. Ya, maybe he isn’t as cuddly with his patients, but he is likely seeing more patients per week which translates to providing substantially more care overall. You can quibble over this, but I would argue this increase in quantity of service is more important than a doubtful .5% change in mortality in the terminally ill. Leftists are very eager to latch onto any trivial finding to make a specious argument about how great their favored group is, but it is a huge red flag and very typically misses the larger picture. A picture that is already heavily skewed by decades of feminist infiltration into academia, but nonetheless still paints another picture than the established narrative. And that is assuming the finding itself wasn’t complete nonsense to start with.

The excerpt below from my book Smart and Sexy: The Evolutionary Origins and Biological Underpinnings of Cognitive Differences Between the Sexes provides a more extensive discussion of this. Citations for this section are at the end of the post.

The skilled female labor with the most extreme pattern of opting out is masters of business administration graduates from elite schools. Only 35% of the best, most qualified women who get educated from the highest ranked schools are actually participating in the work force; they are 30 percent more likely to opt out than their peers who went to less selective schools. Though even for those women at less selective schools, it must be noted that a 35% opt-out rate is still very high. Depending on the vocation and education level, the rate of expensively educated women opting out ranges from 20-40% but for most careers the female opt-out rate clusters around 30%. Women with children work even less than this with a range of 40-60% opting out over all professions with most professions having around a 50% opt-out rate.i The female drop out rate is partially due to new mothers deciding not to work to raise children, and it is also partially due to significantly greater earnings by husbands making their income relatively insignificant by comparison.

Perhaps the most important example of female opt-out being problematic is in medical training. Training medical doctors is hugely expensive and they receive the highest degree of taxpayer subsidization. Some of the costs are born by the degree seeker, but the majority of the cost is paid for by the state through taxes on the general population and ranges into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per doctor. The general population consents to this subsidization because they realize that they will need medical doctors to treat them when they become ill. However, prioritizing women in these careers is a poor investment for the tax payer even when they have the cognitive ability to meet the demands of the profession.

Work-time preference differences between genders strongly imply that training men is generally a better investment for society than women at the same level of ability. Especially considering 4 out of 10 female doctors are working less than full time and some of those do not practice at all.233, i Even full time female doctors work on average about 4.5 hours less a week than men. A man who works 50 hours per week, 50 weeks per year, for 40 years would work a total of 100,000 hours. A woman who worked 35 hours a week for the same time frame would only work 70,000 hours. This rough calculation is quite generous in assuming that women working part-time only work 5 hours less than the standard work week and that they do not switch out of their trained profession at an early point for the duration of their working life. However, it is known in practice that many women end up switching out of the profession they were expensively trained in long before they retire.233, 236, ii, iii

These sorts of lifestyle choices are fine when the costs are born by the women who make them, but they are unacceptable when the costs are largely paid by society via wasting tax money on training that goes unused and in terms of shortages of access to medical care due to too few trained doctors practicing. The problem only promises to get worse because of the push to get gender parity in medicine. As of 2010, 30% of practicing doctors were female but almost 50% of new medical school graduates were female. It is estimated that if the trend of female opt-out continues, and there is no reason to think it won’t, there will be up to a 150,000 shortage of doctors in the near future. General practice and pediatrics will most acutely feel the problem since these are the fields women gravitate towards.236 The public will have difficulty gaining access to medical care and costs will rise substantially because of the push of women into medicine.

In addition to a preference for less work hours and a tendency to opt out entirely, working women also call in sick or are otherwise absent at about twice the rate of men.iv For sick leave specifically, women are absent about 50% more often for self-diagnosed sickness and 34% more often for medically certified sick leave.v Some, but not all, of this increased absenteeism can be explained by a greater likelihood for mothers rather than fathers to stay home with sick children. The rest may be due to legitimate increased susceptibility to illness (for example, menstrual pain and hysteria), a degree of semi-hypochondria, or a general lack of tenacity in the face of women’s dislike of working. The later would be consistent with normal female work preferences. There is also some evidence for increased hypochondria; though women more often report ill health than men, it is not reflected by higher mortality rates. Reported ill health is much better correlated with mortality in men.vi Whatever the reasons for these trends, the consequence is that by any measure, women as a population make for less productive and reliable employees than men even when they have similar levels of intellectual ability.

The costs shouldered by businesses forced to hire women to meet diversity quotas is enormous. Though employee turnover has been increasing in recent years for all demographics, the above data makes it clear that women lead the pack. It is estimated that employee turnover will approach 65% in the near future. The median cost of employee turnover is 20% of the employee’s annual salary for positions that pay under 75 thousand dollars annually, but there is a large range of costs and the cost increases drastically for specialized positions that require significant education. Replacing highly paid, specialized positions can cost up to 213% of the lost employee’s annual salary.vii, viii

Studies and articles which address the problem of female opt-out, because of the feminist tendencies of the authors, generally advocate costly female-friendly policies.242, 243, ix In other words, they advocate lower standards for women relative to men and toleration of a greater degree of absenteeism for women. Essentially this means that feminists want the costs and opportunity costs of women’s decisions to be externalized to employers and fellow employees who have to pick up the slack for absent or disengaging women, and vicariously to society who have to deal with less available service agents. The obvious and easiest solution is to simply not have as many women in these positions or restrict them to positions which can tolerate less devotion. This is exactly what our ancestors sensibly did. A company would be better off not having female oriented policies to discourage women from working there and thus maintain a more reliable work force.

i Sibert, K. S. (2011). Don’t quit this day job. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/opinion/12sibert.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

ii Belkin, L. (2003) The Opt-Out Revolution. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/26/magazine/26WOMEN.html

iii Kuczynski, A (2002) “They Conquered, They Left.” New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/24/style/they-conquered-they-left.html

iv Tahmincioglu, E. (2007) Female Absenteeism is not just about child care. NBC News. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21547885/ns/business-careers/t/female-absenteeism-not-just-about-child-care/

v Laaksonen, M., Martikainen, P., Rahkonen, O., Lahelma, E. (2007) Explanations for gender differences in sickness absence: evidence from middle-aged municipal employees from Finland. Occup Environ Med. 65(5):325-30. doi: 10.1136/oem.2007.033910.

vi Young, H., Grundy, E., O’Reilly, D., Boyle, P. (2010) Self-rated health and mortality in the UK: results from the first comparative analysis of the England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland Longitudinal Studies. Popul Trends. 2010 Spring;(139):11-36. doi: 10.1057/pt.2010.3.

vii Boushey, H., Glynn, S. J. (2012) There Are Significant Business Costs to Replacing Employees. Center for American Progress.

viii Appelbaum, E., Milkman, R. (2006) “Achieving a Work­able Balance: New Jersey Employers’ Experiences Managing Employee Leaves and Turnover” Center for Women and Work. Rutgers.

ix Herry, J. L., Wolframz, C. (2009) Work Environment and \Opt-Out” Rates at Motherhood Across High-Education Career Paths. National Bureau of Economic Research. Working Paper No. 14717

i Hersch, J. (2013) Opting Out among Women with Elite Education. Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 13-05. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2221482

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John Derbyshire’s “Dissidents and Doom”

Recently there has been some hand-wringing in neoreaction about the tendency for non-mainstream thinkers (i.e. neoreactionaries, among others) to be contrarian and anti-social. Well, that is true. It kind of goes along with the territory. Going against a well-established and popular consensus (right or wrong) by yourself in the face of possible harm (financial and/or physical) takes a very special type of personality.

First, Warg Franklin penned a piece on the parable of the raft. Then, Nick B Steves had a follow up piece which was also pretty good. In summary, both articles at once acknowledged both the virtues and the flaws of the dissident personality. It has both, of course. Not to mention that neoreaction wouldn’t exist without it. We are nothing if not dissidents from a well established and alarmingly overbearing Cathedral.

The obvious problem with the dissident personality is that they tend to be very hard to get alone with. And then if they do form groups, many or most of the people in the group have the tendency not to get along with each other because they don’t get along with anyone; least of all other people who are hard to get along with. The moment the group starts doing something they don’t like, they wont hesitate to go it alone so they can have their way completely. Clearly that isn’t a very good trait for a society that requires social cohesion. Though the enabling of the cathedral from mass acquiescence of a generally conforming populace is really bad, having a population full of people with the dissident personality that could short-circuit the cathedral would probably be just as bad, but for different reasons. (Well, maybe not AS bad, but it would have problems). Fortunately, we don’t need that many. A firm unshakable belief in 10% of the population is enough to change a consensus.

There is always the possibility that the dissident is completely wrong and the consensus is right. In which case their contrarian determination can only cause trouble. Still, there are definitely times where the dissident is right and everyone else is wrong; in which case they suddenly become quite valuable if they can convince everyone else.

Of course, given Steves’ and Warg’s purposes of herding the cats of neoreaction it is no wonder that this problem is often on their mind. They deal with it a lot. I have to admit that I myself am guilty of giving in a little too much to my own dissident temperament…

Given that, though, I think they came down a little hard on the dissident personality type because of their experience. I don’t blame them, but I think a defense of the dissident personality and why it is so important is needed so that perspective isn’t lost. Fortunately one already exists. It was written years ago by John Derbyshire and to this day it is still one of my favorite articles produced by the alternative-right (before the modern incarnation changed the meaning of that term a bit). In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Steves’ use of the word “dissident” in this context and connotation didn’t originate in Derbyshire’s article/speech. (If you don’t remember the exact title, it can be hard to locate.)

The article was actually a speech given to the providence college republicans titled “Dissidents and Doom” and is related to his book “We are doomed: reclaiming conservative pessimism.”

Personally, I prefer the written transcript. In it he outlines why dissidents are important and the critical role they serve when a culture goes completely off the rails. I recommend the whole thing, but I will provide a few choice quotes. I don’t think I can top what he has already done, and I don’t want to reinvent the wheel anyway, so I will let him explain. First, what is the dissident personality?

The dissident temperament has been present in all times and places, though only ever among a small minority of citizens. Its characteristic, speaking broadly, is a cast of mind that, presented with a proposition about the world, has little interest in where that proposition originated, or how popular it is, or how many powerful and credentialed persons have assented to it, or what might be lost in the way of property, status, or even life, in denying it. To the dissident, the only thing worth pondering about the proposition is, is it true? If it is, then no king’s command can falsify it; and if it is not, then not even the assent of a hundred million will make it true.

I see in these dissidents a lot of the personality characteristics that my loved ones complain about in me: a stubborn cussedness, a disdain for cant and wishful thinking, a lack of interest in what I am supposed to believe and supposed to say. “Who doesn’t want to be a good citizen?” I don’t, not if it involves saying things I know to be preposterous.

Derbyshire definitely agrees that the dissident can be hard to get along with, but he is more inclined to see the glass is half full:

At root this tendency is antisocial. Indeed, if you mix with dissidents much, you notice how fissiparous they are, how they can never agree among themselves about anything for very long. The dissident scene is full of petty animosities and slanders. I find dissidents to be individually admirable and attractive, but collectively hopeless. I’m glad to know they are there, though — that I’m not the only member of what my mother called “the awkward squad.”

And even gives it to totalitarians that a society full of contrarians wouldn’t be great:

And in fact, though it’s an awful thing to say, and I’m going to smother it with qualification, in fact the totalitarians have a sort of a point. A society can’t be stable without widespread unthinking conformism. That’s why dissidents are unpopular. I have spoken to quite liberal and well-educated people in China about high-profile dissidents like Wei Jingsheng. They are not very respectful of dissidence. Mostly they just think dissidents are a bit wrong in the head. Sometimes, and you especially hear this from women, you’ll hear: “He can do what he likes on his own account, but think of the harm he’s doing to his family.” Along with the association with madness, there is an association with social chaos — in the case of Chinese people, fear that too much independence of mind could bring back the terrible chaos of the Cultural Revolution.

Just as the association with chaos has some justification, at least in societies traditionally or recently disorderly, so has the association with craziness. The totalitarians who put dissidents into mental hospitals are of course doing a wicked thing, but again, there’s a little grain of truth in the wickedness. Dissidents are poorly socialized. As Eugene said: “Who doesn’t want to be a good citizen?” And the poorly socialized are seen by the better socialized as a bit nutty.

On how a dissdent should exercise restraint:

The sensible dissident should in fact practice a lot of self-restraint. He should in particular show a proper respect for the idols of the tribe. When I was a teenager back in England it was the custom at movie theaters that when the movie program ended, the National Anthem would be played. Everyone was supposed to stand up and be still for the duration. Well, of course, by the age of sixteen I had seen through all that stupid monarchy stuff — a bunch of rich people living in palaces and doing no useful work. Stand up for them? Not me! So I and some like-minded coevals would bravely sit through the anthem. This generated a lot of disapproval from other patrons, leading once or twice almost to fist-fights. We’d made our dissident point, though.

Now I know that the point was not worth making. Harmless tribal rituals are not to be objected to. They are part of the glue that holds a nation together. That’s a fundamental conservative insight. If you’re going to dissent, dissent about something that matters.

What matters? Truth.

Truth is one of the central features of the dissident personality and it is no wonder neoreaction attracts people with that personality type given its similar disregard for feelings and sociability for the sack of truth. As a group we all care more about truth than we care about keeping our heads down or sparing feelings. And it is this concern for unmitigated truth which implies that when a dissident speaks (or writes), you should at least hear him out. His main value which leads to him being a dissident in the first place is his sole concern with the truth; especially with respect to social pressure and conformity. This concern leads the dissident to find methods of sifting truth from fiction. Methods the average person never bothers to learn for themselves. Chances are that he is much more likely to speak the truth (or at least his honest perception thereof) as a result. Derbyshire describes the thinking of the average person in comparison to the unmitigated pursuit of truth:

The ordinary modes of human thinking are magical, religious, social, and personal. We want our wishes to come true; we want the universe to care about us; we want the approval of those around us; we want to get even with that s.o.b who insulted us at the last tribal council. For most people, wanting to know the cold truth about the world is way, way down the list …

When the magical (I wish this to be so: therefore it is so!) and the religious (We are all one! Brotherhood of man! The universe loves us!) and the social (This is what all good citizens believe! If you believe otherwise you are a bad person!) and the personal (That bastard didn’t show me the respect I’m entitled to!) all come together, the mighty psychic forces unleashed can be irresistible. Ask Larry Summers or James Watson.

Derbyshire also goes on for a while about “soft-totalitarianism,” what we would call the cathedral. One of the examples he uses is on black/white IQ differences, but there are other examples:

At the beginning of lecture 25, “Intelligence, Genes, and Environment,” [Princeton neuroscientist Sam Wang] promised a discussion of group differences, but all we got was some bland stuff about males vs. females. In one of the lectures on learning he skated as close as he dared to the dread topic, but then opened an escape hatch and dropped through it. The name of the escape hatch is “Eyferth,” a great favorite with those on the nurture side of the nature-nurture issue. Klaus Eyferth was a German researcher who in 1961 published a study on the children of black and white U.S. servicemen born to German women. The study showed no overall difference in average IQ between black and white children. There are all sorts of open questions about the study: we don’t for example know the IQs of the fathers. The really big question, though, is this: Since the Eyferth study has been such a huge hit, and gets mentioned by every politically correct commentator on the human sciences, how is it that in fifty years — fifty years! — nobody has been able to replicate the findings?

The 2003 Turkheimer study that claimed to show heritability of IQ is lower in low-income families is another one of these nurturist darlings. David Brooks cites it uncritically in his new book, which I reviewed in the last but one issue of National Review. Sam Wang refers to it too, also uncritically. Neither of them seems aware that at least three attempts to replicate Turkheimer’s findings came up with results that were either null or else the opposite of what Turkheimer claimed to have found. The omission is pardonable in Brooks’ case — the guy’s just a journalist, after all — but not in Prof. Wang’s.

This is the environment of soft totalitarianism I am speaking about. Quite well-established facts about human nature may not be mentioned, even in a lecture by a professor at a prestigious university — a lecture I paid good money for. (Do I have a case in law here?) Where facts are not well-established, but suggest more than one possibility, only possibilities agreeable to ruling political orthodoxies may be discussed.

It is when pervasive lies and/or denials like that of racial differences, gender differences, socialism, immigration or other parts of the mainstream consensus are both extremely harmful to society and become unmentionable that the dissident personality becomes absolutely critical and indispensable. Only the dissident can withstand the pressure of conformity and tell everyone to pull their heads out of their rears. Society needs them for those inevitable times when Lysenkoism takes over. They are the release valve that can slowly drag the society back to sanity. With the dissident comes the chance to escape collapse. Without them, collapse is inevitable. So when considering whether or not a dissident should be ostracized great care should be taken. Dissidents provide a valuable service and whether or not they are right should always take precedence over whether or not they are disagreeable. That is true in general, but doubly true for neoreaction. It is true that you should protect your community from the sorts who will destabilize it, but at the same time moderation should be shown in such judgements. Not every contrarian is a trolling entryist.

For the non-dissident personality types, as well as for my fellow neoreactionaries, I leave you with Derbyshire’s request in relation to the dissident personality. One I wholeheartedly agree with:

Give the dissident temperament a little respect. When dissidents are obnoxious or nutty, which we often are, cut them some slack. Bring your own critical faculties to bear on the things they talk about, and always check the source materials. Try to learn to spot an urban legend or a convenient truth, especially one you hear a lot from not-very-well-informed people. If, when passing through a public square, you see that they’re burning a heretic at the stake, at the very least don’t join in the applause.

Also, this poem at the end was pretty good:

Here, in this little Bay
Full of tumultuous life and great repose,
Where, twice a day,
The purposeless, glad ocean comes and goes,
Under high cliffs, and far from the huge town,
I sit me down.
For want of me the world’s course will not fail;
When all its work is done, the lie shall rot;
The truth is great, and shall prevail,
When none cares whether it prevail or not.

(Note: Unsurprisingly, in an example of possible lysenkoism, firefox doesn’t recognize “lysenkosim” as a word).

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Green Peace Founder comes out against the Climate Apocalypse Prognosticators

I have a number of posts which I have started minimally, or are just one rough idea in need of ironing out. Usually this happens when I have an idea or event I want to write about but don’t immediately have the time to do so. I then forget about it until I feel it is time to write a post but don’t have anything in mind to write about that very second. Helpfully, these series of proto-posts provide seeds for me to elaborate on. This is why I am writing about an article that came out in March in August.

One of the most surprising things that has happened this year, but is probably under the radar of most people, is that the co-founder of the radical leftist environmental group Green Peace came out as a climate skeptic. Seriously. On climate change, Patrick Moore states:

I am skeptical humans are the main cause of climate change and that it will be catastrophic in the near future. There is no scientific proof of this hypothesis, yet we are told “the debate is over” and “the science is settled.”

I am not sure how much CO2 actually affects the climate and I don’t think climate doomsdayers are justified to be as certain as they are. However, it very well may cause an increase in temperature. I am more willing to give the scientific community the benefit of the doubt on this part of their claim than in other areas which are clearly just examples of Lysenkoism. However, knowing their bad practices in areas such as biological differences among humans does force me to remain somewhat skeptical that what they are saying is actually true. Climate change activists are closely aligned politically and philosophically with human biology deniers after all.

However, for the purposes of this article, I want to forgo debate on whether or not carbon dioxide is increasing the temperature. Rather, I want to just concede that point for the sake of argument and focus on whether or not increasing carbon dioxide is a net benefit or net drain on the environment. The problem with climate environmentalists I really want to address is the claim that it is going to cause some sort of destruction of the whole world and everyone is probably going to die. Read that again:

Climate change is going to cause some sort of destruction of the whole world and everyone is probably going to die.

Doesn’t that just sound crazy to you? Haven’t we always been hearing doomsday prophecies of one sort or another? 2012 came and went with no problems, after all, why should this particular “apocalypse” be any different? It was certainly one of several common themes among various sects of Christianity, and I suspect there is a missing link between those predictions of Armageddon and this current one. The current population most adamant about climate change are the descendents of these Christians, don’t forget and such fearful psychologies may have a biological component.

It is indisputable that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are increasing, and the burning of fossil fuels causes some or most of it.  However, CO2 is a natural part of the life cycle. Plants fixate CO2 from the atmosphere in order to grow. RuBisCo is the enzyme which fixes gaseous carbon into simple sugars in plants. This is arguably the single most important enzyme in existence. In addition to plants themselves, all animals and fungi, and most bacteria, are dependent on this enzyme working. It creates the food for those organisms. It also happens to be one of the least efficient enzymes. That is, it doesn’t work very well at doing its job, surprisingly. For on thing, it is very slow. RuBisCo is also capable of catalyzing oxygenation of its substrate rather than fixing a carbon dioxide molecule and it does so at fairly high rates. When oxygenation occurs, the energy is completely wasted because the byproduct isn’t useful for the plant. Moreover, energy has to be expended to reverse the process to make the substrate available for carbon fixation again. Some plants have even evolved special CO2 concentrating mechanisms to try to combat this problem. Increasing the carbon dioxide concentration of the air via burning fossil fuels should make plants better able to use this enzyme because increased concentration of the CO2 substrate increases the enzyme’s efficiency. For example, by increasing the likelihood that CO2 will be fixed rather than oxygen molecules. In other words, the expected result of increased carbon concentrations should be bigger plants, faster growing plants, and/or larger numbers of plants. Both agricultural and wild plants could be expected to benefit from this.

People might argue that these benefits would be more than outweighed by increased temperatures. However, I don’t necessarily think anything bad will come of this even if we get a several degree increase in temperature.  For one thing, there is evidence that times in earth’s history have been hotter than they are today including during the times of the Romans, despite any human induced warming. 66 to 34 million years ago was also warmer than today. So much so that scientists believe there was no polar ice and palm trees and crocodiles existed near the poles. These times did not coincide with mass extinctions or anything else negative to the biosphere as a whole that can be specifically traced to warming; though species certainly died off as has always been true. Most importantly, humans could not have played in role in these drastic climate changes which means it is at least possible humans are playing only a limited role today. Interestingly, there seems to be a positive correlation to warm periods and biological diversity. Overall, more warmth seems to be better for life in general and not worse because more species can thrive during warm periods. Thus concerns about warming are in all likelihood overstated.

One thing I must note is that I do value the environment. I think carbon dioxide and global warming aren’t nearly the threats they are made out to be, but environmental concern overall is not illegitimate outside of that context. Specifically, dumping toxic chemicals in the environment is bad for life and it is bad for people. Moreover, it is bad for quality of life and aesthetics. You can look at China today or western countries in the past to see what kind of problems can result from poor custodianship of the environment. Here are some pictures of toxic rivers in China. The US had a series of river fires (see this video also) which had a large role in fueling the environmentalist movement. Climate change hysteria provides a very profound distraction from things of actual concern, but perhaps that was the plan all along. Though neoreactionaries generally are against progressive climate hysteria (rightfully so), there are other environmental considerations which are real. Just because you are right wing, doesn’t mean you want to live in a pile of trash. In a way, this reminds me of the trike where either the ethno-nationalists or the religio-traditionalists would find themselves in conflict with the techno-commercialists on where to balance economic productivity with less quantifiable measurements of quality of life.

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