Pssst! Climate Change Activists? This Is Why Nobody Trusts You…

Here is Houdini showing the Scientific American panel how spiritualists and mediums made bells ring. See his foot?

I once subscribed to Scientific American. We had to read it in high school, and I often used articles from the magazine in research projects. I also was a fan of its history, which intersected with my long-time love of magic and magic history. It was Scientific American, back in the 1920s, that created the special cash prize for anyone who could prove they had supernatural powers, or that paranormal phenomena was real. After a while psychics and other miracle workers stopped applying for the prize, because SA’s panel of experts always exposed them as frauds. The star member of that panel was Harry Houdini, in his post-performing second career as the enemy of charlatans and frauds

Thus it pains me to see the once great, dumbed-down vestige of Scientific American publish an article with this unforgivable headline, in front of content that is little better:

Climate Change May Have Helped Spark Iran’s Protests

And space aliens may have built the pyramids.

Actually, the article still has educational value, though no teacher is likely to use it properly. It is a wonderful example of poor critical thinking, bad science, the result of mixing science with politics, and how bias makes you stupid.  The author, Scott Waldman, doesn’t even try to hide the article’s weak logic and lame premise, beginning it with this:

The impacts of climate change are among the environmental challenges facing Iran that helped spark protests in dozens of cities across the Islamic republic.At least 20 people have died in the uprising, driven by the sudden collapse of financial institutions, low wages and mistrust of national leaders. Rising temperatures are seen by some experts as an underlying condition for the economic hardships that led to the unrest. A severe drought, mismanaged water resources and dust storms diminished Iran’s economy in recent years, according to experts who study the region. While the protests are largely driven by resistance to the country’s hardline conservative government, such environmental factors might have contributed to the largest protests inside Iran in years.

That tells any objective reader all he needs to know: junk ahead.  The old “some experts” ploy, eh? You can find “some experts” who will say anything, especially on TV. We just went through weeks of unethical speculation on whether the President was suffering from dementia based on “some expert,” a Yale professor of psychiatry who breached the American Psychiatric Association (APA) ethics protocols and was revealed as not to be licensed to practice anymore.You know. An expert.

Waldman himself isn’t an expert on climatology or even science: he’s a reporter, and his degree was in journalism. Funny, I’m so old, I remember when the articles in Scientific American were written by scientists. How quaint.

Almost none of the “experts” that Waldman quotes to support his “maybe” thesis are scientists either. For example, he quotes Suzanne Maloney (without saying what her expertise is), telling us that she is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Energy Security and Climate Initiative.

“The drought has certainly impacted Iran’s economy broadly, and it’s impacted quality of life and living patterns, migration patterns around Iran quite considerably,” she said. “It’s an issue of huge political importance, one that factored into the presidential election last year, so it’s certainly something I think one can say has had a role in shaping frustrations and driving some of the underlying grievances around the protests.”

OK, a drought is quantifiable and provable.  Does Maloney say that the drought was caused by climate change? No, but Waldman’s use of her quote implies it. She’s not a scientist either. Now that we have the words of a non-scientist, we are told by the non-scientist writer—who is he to argue with experts?—this:

Iran is increasingly vulnerable to climate change, experts say. [ What experts? What does “vulnerable” mean? The fact that a nation is vulnerable to a phenomenon doesn’t mean that the phenomenon is occurring or will occur.] Rainfall in the Middle East is expected to fall 20 percent by the end of the century, and temperatures could rise by as much as 5 degrees Celsius, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. [ Deceit. One organization has models that make this prediction. “Is expected” suggests “is expected by more than one panel.”  And wait: why is rainfall in the Middle East is “expected” to fall 20 percent, but the same group only says that temperatures “could” rise by as much as 5 degrees Celsius? Are these conditions expected, or are they possible?]

Aaa, what the hell. You know. Whatever.  It’s climate change, Jake.

Here comes another “expert,” actually a bunch of them: “By 2070, the Persian Gulf could experience a spike in heat waves that are hard for humans to survive, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study published in 2015.”

By 2070? How have those last batches of long-term models panned out, Scott? Hey, where’s the link to the study? What “experts” performed it?  Oh, right—the the Persian Gulf could experience a spike in heat waves.  Good to know. Based on that, I think we should go back to horses and buggies.

And yet another “expert” is weighing in!  Kaveh Ehsani, a professor at DePaul University and an expert on Iranian politics, says that environmental issues have brought some protesters into the streets, in part because climate change is “now seen as a contributor to inequity. Newscasts on the environment are potentially reinforcing Iranian views, since that topic is not generally censured by government officials.” Environmental issues aren’t seen through the same political lens as they are in the United States, he says

Wait, that’s not climate change causing unrest! That’s punditry, biased reporting and activist propaganda causing unrest. A phenomenon and the buzz about it are not one and the same, Scott. SA? Is there a scientist in the house?

Details, details. What do you want, precision? This isn’t a scien—oops. Heh. Right.

Ehsani, who is—surprise! not a scientist, but an expert—  says that the Trump administration’s retreat from the Paris climate agreement and its larger rejection of climate policy mean that Iranian citizens are increasingly blaming environmental problems on the United States. Since the “climate agreement” has no effect on the climate and the U.S. withdrawal cannot possibly have affected the climate in Iran now, then this statement means that intellectual laziness and dishonest propaganda may have helped spark…no, no, the protests are against Iran’s government, not the U.S.

What’s this article about again? And where’s Houdini when you need him?


20 thoughts on “Pssst! Climate Change Activists? This Is Why Nobody Trusts You…

  1. It’s always a joy seeing you take this kind of frippery down. While you’re on this, can you also have a look at this arrant nonsense –

    facts: an 11 year old hijabi girl and her 10 year old brother lied that an Asian man attacked her with a pair of scissors and sliced her hijab while she had been on her way to school. Toronto Police said nope, no such thing happened. Worse? Toronto School District Board made her have a press conference.

  2. This can’t be as important as the involuntary sex-change of the sea turtles?

    Or chocolate becoming “extinct?”

    Or kiddies filing “climate lawsuits?”

    ”(Juliana v U.S.): A group of kids, including ‘future generations, through their guardian Dr. James Hansen,’ claim that the government’s actions and failures to act have caused climate change, thus violating the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and have failed to protect essential public trust resources.”

    The “appeal to authority-experts” have been around a while now.

    Take a look at the UNIPCC, Lefty’s go-to think tank on the Global Warming that’s here and worse than the models predicted, rank-n-file, it does no research of its own.

    It’s rife with activists, diplomats, & opportunistic rent-seeking bloodsuckers.

    It answers to no one, has no obligation to give an audience to anyone that doesn’t confirm the “Consensus” (CON US, for short) and has NO Conflict-Of-Interest (COI) provision.

    An Interacademy Council investigation (released 08/30/2010) recommended sweeping changes to the UNIPCC.

    *(T)he council said it needs a full-time executive director, more openness and regular changes in leadership.

    *It also called for stronger enforcement of its reviews of research and adoption of a COI policy, which the IPCC does not have, even though its parent agencies do.

    *The (COI) issue was raised because of Pachauri’s work as adviser and board member of green energy companies, etc., etc., etc.

    The UNIPCC’s response?

    “FUCK OFF!!

  3. Facts without profit and power motives would be welcome on this topic. The lack of them from credible should cause skepticism and further inquiry. Sadly, in the main, it doesn’t.

  4. Wait. You mean Iran and Iraq and Syria and Israel and Egypt and Jordan and Yemen and Saudi Arabia are kind of … arid? They need surface waters to irrigate their crops?

    I’ll give the Iranian mullahs this: I wish our leaders were as intent on going all in on nuclear power as the mullahs purport to be. Near as I can tell, they’re still pretty big on petrochemicals though. Surely THAT’S what the protests are about. Tom Steyer must be bankrolling them. Maybe Jerry Brown will start having the Caliphate of California start admitting eco-refugees from Iran, all by his own self.

  5. Here’s the thing, I can agree with the predicted hazards of climate change (if it is indeed warming), such as in this instance:

    Population movement towards the poles and away from the equator
    Population distress for those who stay put closer to the equator
    Population distress for those who become encroached by the movement

    Those are reasonable expectations of a warming earth.

    The problem is, and always will be:

    1) Proving that any particular instance actually is because of a warming earth
    2) Is the earth actually warming as severely as is necessary to manifest these problems so boldly
    3) What can actually be done about a warming earth if it is indeed warming

    It’s like any If-Then statement. I can agree with the If-Then assertion without actually agreeing with the asserter that the conditions are met to trigger the If-Then.

    • I do think (my own theory) however, that much of the middle east unrest is about an isolated economic bubble spanning a few generations wherein the middle east, benefiting from a post-WW2 oil boom, converted its inflow of money into an unnatural population boom.

      Late in this bubble, we’re seeing the effects now of a un-sustainably large population, with the slowing of the monetary inflow that had been unnaturally sustaining it.

      And well, the stresses are manifesting.

      Much like Spain in the early colonial period derived a ton of wealth from extracting precious metal resources but never got around to producing anything that could become a sustained economy, the middle east has derived a ton of wealth from extracting precious fuel resources with no associated establishment of a sustained production of anything else. And much like Spain collapsed when the world no longer needed the vast supply of silver and gold that Spain offered, I think we’ll see the same with the middle east soon (well, soon as a relative term for multi-generational forces).

      But, that’s my own theory.

      • This used to be described as ‘Let them eat their oil”

        With the recent discovery of abundant cheap energy reserves within CONUS, they may well have to learn how to do just that!

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