Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Hero: Michael Shellenberger”

I had two Comments of the Day to choose from to greet the morning. This one, by Lumiere, was the less depressing of the two, so you can imagine what the other one was like. However, The last paragraph in the post, a comment on the climatologist who admits in a new book that he joined his colleagues in hyping and fearmongering,  gives me hope.

My mind was already on indoctrination and the way our scientists, scholars and educators have abused the public’s trust. A truly frightening story was revealed by College Fix: an incoming freshman at Marquette, Samantha Pfefferle,  posted a (silly and obnoxious) pro-Trump video on the social media site Tik Tok, and administrators at the school began suggesting to her that her admission might be revoked because of her unacceptable beliefs. What was unacceptable about them was that, based on the video, she supported the President of the United States, ergo his policy positions. The Horror.

Pfefferle explained that following the TikTok, she was contacted by Brian Troyer, dean of undergraduate admissions at Marquette, who she said told her her acceptance to the school was far from certain.

“[He] had the heart to tell me I wasn’t a student,” Pfefferle said. “This means that my classification is still in limbo and is currently being decided by the administration. I have been accepted, I paid for my housing, I have my roommates, I even have a complete class schedule. If that doesn’t make me a student, what does?”

Some Marquette administrators also asked Pfefferle a series of questions meant to judge her morals, she said.

“They also asked me hypothetical questions regarding Dreamers,” she said. “How would I respond if a Dreamer who lived down the hall from me came up to me and told me she didn’t feel safe or comfortable with my views and me being on campus. They also asked me if they thought there was anything I could do to improve my image on campus. They proceeded to ask if I was comfortable with the reputation I have established for myself. The assistant dean asked if I put any thought into the response I would be getting from my videos.”

The “response” she was getting from her video was threats, harassment and intimidation, perhaps from Marquette students. Strange: that would seem to be the problem that administrators had a legitimate reason to be concerned about. No, they apparently approved, since the college officials decided to engage in some intimidation of their own: “Nice little college acceptance you have here…too bad if something were to happen to it..”

I would normally be skeptical that any administrators from a reputable college would challenge a student’s political opinions in the manner Pfefferle described, but Marquette confirmed that  “the admissions team did recently have a conversation with incoming freshman Samantha Pfefferle about statements made on her social media accounts.” After unwelcome publicity on several blogs and conservative websites, Marquette announced that the student’s acceptance was not in peril and had been finalized, firmly placing what the school did in the “it’s not the worst thing” category.

It was bad enough. It is unethical for educational institutions to promote viewpoint conformity among their students, yet this incident, like the confession of the suddenly remorseful climate scientist, indicates that this is increasingly how our professionals whose duty is to enlighten us see their roles: not to inform, but to indoctrinate.

Here is Lumiere’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Hero: Michael Shellenberger:

What this is? Is scary.

Not just for climate science but for EVERY SINGLE THING that has been promoted or supported by the left in the name of Science. And the willingness to punish, and silence people who disagree because “How dare you reject science?”…

The problem is mostly in the narrative. What is left out? what is emphasized? What is implied? For example “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah claims to be an objective evolutionary history of humankind (it leaves out many facts and is full of many assumptions) reads totally as socialist cant, with sufficient human bashing that presents human existence as the worst thing that has ever happened to the earth. Now a person who reads that book as their introduction to human biological history would accept its postulations as facts, become indoctrinated and would have their view of humankind changed drastically for the worse.

This kind of indoctrination is the reality in many fields of human endeavour and it’s sad to see people form such emotional attachments to ideas that makes rational discourse almost impossible

One thing I’ve learnt to do is always ask myself the question “What if you are Wrong?”. I always ask myself that question on EVERYTHING. And it informs my attitude to contrary and differing opinions…

20 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Hero: Michael Shellenberger”

  1. “What if you are Wrong?” is a great question, an amazingly good question, one that I wish a whole lot more people asked themselves, but it’s only half of the assessment you have to make.

    “What if you are Wrong?” is the x axis on a slightly altered risk assessment matrix. In the unaltered version, the x axis represents the severity of the consequences of risk, and the y axis represents the likelihood of the risk topic happening. In this case, instead of asking “What happens if the thing happens?” we’re asking “What if you are Wrong?” and instead of asking “How likely is it that the thing happens?” we’re asking (or should be asking) “How likely is it that I’m wrong?” which might require an additional “How subjective is the topic?”

    Once you have identified where on the risk matrix the question falls, the strategy for each quadrant is prescribed; for instance, in the risk assessment tool, something that has a low impact, and isn’t likely to happen can be ignored. something that has a high impact, but isn’t likely to happen can be insured, something with a high impact and is likely to happen has to be mitigated.

    Similarly, on the “What if you are Wrong?” variation, I don’t think, for instance, that a race of Aliens with big foreheads are going to take over the Earth in order to steal all our gold, and the only way to end their occupation will be to self teach myself to fly stealth fighters in a flight simulator and crack the dome they build because they don’t breathe oxygen. If I’m wrong, I should probably learn how to fly a stealth fighter…. But because it’s very unlikely that Terl and Ker are on their way, so I’m not.

    If however I thought that the Earth was going to end in 12 years, and the only way to prevent that was to cripple the economic viability of my country, particularly at a time when it’s already economically struggling, and there hadn’t yet been a 5 year model that predicted that that was still accurate in year two, it might be worth looking into.

    It’s actually a really good point when talking to progressives because progressives generally haven’t asked themselves either question. They worry about vague issues…. inequality, discrimination, oppression…. and then assign “solutions”, never asking themselves how the solutions are going to work, or what damage the solutions could cause, or even bothering to reconcile those solutions with their solutions for previous issues to look for inconsistencies. It’s how the left comes up with absurdities like asserting that only police should have guns while also asserting that the police routinely kill innocent minorities. It’s interesting to note, than when forced to reconcile the positions, they fell on the conservative position, and if there’s a silver lining to 2020, it’s that we finally won the second amendment debate.

    I wonder how many other conservative positions they would fall on if forced to actually deal with their positions.

    • It seems that the collective left rarely gives much thought to unintended consequences, even when warned, or when such are readily apparent as likely possibilities. The harms caused by extended lockdowns in response to the virus is a case in point. It’s like dealing with a small child who cannot be reasoned with, but can only focus on the thing he most desires at the moment.

      I wouldn’t put too much faith in them sticking with some shift in a position beyond however long it serves their narrative of the moment. Tasers pointed by the police are “deadly weapons”…A tasers stolen from and shot at an officer a couple of weeks later is an insignificant pebble on the path to his lynching.

      • See, at the risk of summoning her to the conversation, I recently had a conversation with a person who likes to attach labels to people, but doesn’t really know what the labels mean. I finally pinned that person down to defining conservatives, and it boiled down to “someone that conserves”.

        I think that’s both an insane simplification and unworkable. If all conservatives did was conserve, we would never change. Our way of life, cracking rocks together to make fire, if we even got that far, would need to be conserved, and then life becomes a series of losses as more flexible people out-innovate them. No, I’ve always seen conservatism as more of a “means tested” approach to life. Sure we value our history, and our traditions, but that’s mostly because they’ve done pretty well for us, and there’s no reason not to, but that won’t keep me from getting the newest tech, innovating something myself, or changing my mind when it’s obvious I’m wrong. If that means I have to turn in my conservative card, point me to the nearest shredder.

        On the other side of that, I’ve always seen progressives as conservatives in the throes of arrested development. They get so close sometimes. They’re obviously able to identify issues, and they aren’t completely incompetent at brainstorming solutions, but they just can’t seem to rub two neurons together to properly plan for success. As much as “that’s not going to work” can be discouraging, especially if you hear it a lot, screaming at the top of your lungs and doing the dumb thing anyway doesn’t exactly have a proven track record. The alternative, which cannot be discounted, is that for many of these people, they are more interested in the social credit score than actual results, so the important thing is to signal your virtue with enough lumens to rival the sun, and that *can* be accomplished by screaming at the top of your lungs and doing the stupid thing, because apparent intent is more than enough.

        • Or, put another way, Conservatives don’t instantly leap to the (unfounded) conclusion that they are the smartest people who ever lived, and that no one could possibly ever have already thought of (insert idea here) in the entirety of human history–let alone maybe even already tried it out and discovered that it was actually a BAD idea.


  2. Paragraph 5 is worded poorly… “If however” should have been similarly, and “it might be worth looking into” should be “it might be worth taking a second look at.”

    An environmental apocalypse might be more likely than an alien invasion, but I still don’t think it’s going to happen.

  3. That was a discouraging story to hear, as a lot of Jack’s are ……Not quite on topic, but a high school junior of my acquaintance was called in to administration about wearing an NRA t shirt to school. Someone apparently felt uncomfortable with that and they asked him not to wear it. I have coffee every morning with his grandpa who carries, and his dad is a shooter too. We are in farm country and firearms are not a big deal. The kid told them that the NRA was a gun safety organisation and told them that he was going to wear the shirt, just like any other student with their emblems.
    The powers that be backed down. Resistance is all that it takes sometimes. This kid had the genetics and the upbringing to resist being pushed around by insecure bullies who happen to be teachers. We are in rural Iowa….a fly over state, I know, but a great place to live.

  4. Wow! I never thought I would ever get to make a Comment of the Day on this forum.

    Thank you so much Sir. I am honoured

  5. Perhaps the question isn’t if she’s a student at Marquette, it’s if she still thinks that college is a good fit for her. At the end of the day, they’re solely dependent on student tuition and maybe her money would be better invested elsewhere. Her entire quality of education she’s about to receive there is now suspect at the college.

    • I don’t know why she would have applied there, since the place in infamous as a Leftist mill, and I sure don’t see what she has to look forward to; certainly not a good education. But she may not have a lot of options, although passing on college for a year or more makes more sense than paying Marquette to abuse her.

      • Going to the University of Wesconsin in Madison would be jumping out of the frying pan and directly into a really large conflagration. At least Marquette is not in Madison. There has to be a little common sense in Melwaukee. Heck, they have the Brett Favre Steakhouse, for crying out lout. But Marquette is pretty famous for harassing that non-lefty tenured teacher who was mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

  6. The Marquette disaster has been more than adequately — and brilliantly — covered by other responders.

    So I will just say this: I have long distrusted those ‘scientists’ who do things ‘because they can, not because they should.’ Now, as I’ve thought before, we have a bunch of so-called ‘scientists” who LIED about their global warming data. So science becomes politics, and we continue to depend on it.

    These assholes should be fired, sent to Wyoming to live off the land, and get the hell out of our media and our lives.

  7. Unfortunately, private colleges have a great deal of discretion about what they do and how they deal with students. They can just as easily tell you, look, the majority of students and faculty are liberal here, and someone who doesn’t go with the flow is just a disruption. If you disagree, just keep your head down, give the professors back what they want to hear, and at the end of this we’ll hand you your degree and your future will be secure. Nod along with Black Lives Matter, keep your distance from the women, and always make sure someone who isn’t questionable can vouch for where you were and what you were doing. St. Thomas More got his head chopped off because he couldn’t place his hand on an old black book and tell an ordinary lie. You can safeguard your future by keeping quiet.

    • But they can’t change the rules in the middle of the process, and if they say, as Marquette does on its website, “A Marquette education offers students a virtually unlimited number of paths and destinations and prepares them for the world by asking them to think critically about it.Along the way, we ask one thing of every student: Be The Difference.” and then clarify “but your critical thinking can only lead where we tell it to.”

      • At a lot of colleges the rules might as well be written in pencil. Oh, and I think you’ve got it with that last sentence.

        • The Hamilton College mission statement (who knew they had hired consultants to come up with one) includes getting students to “embrace differences.” What the fuck does that even mean? And what does it have with getting a liberal arts degree?

          • I asked the black woman (recently made the president of the alumni association) who pointed this out to me whether that meant she had to embrace whiteness. No response to date.

  8. Just remember, while the circles are not 100% overlaps, in the Euler diagram of people who say unborn babies are not human or are not alive, and people who say there’s no such thing as male and female, is also the circle of people who claim to not only believe *in* science, but that science can all determine ethics and appropriate policy.

    These circles are also shared with the man-made-climate-change crowd.

    They’re idiots. All of them.

  9. Congratulations on your COTD, Lumiére. Well deserved.

    This is not directly on point to Lumiére’s excellent comment as much as it follows on the themes, but I have been cogitating on a Facebook incident that occurred over the weekend.

    As many on this blog may know, I am a lawyer (though some would suggest that I am not a very good one!) and I follow a number of Texas lawyer pages on Facebook because issues discussed can be relevant to my areas of law. A lawyer posted on one of the pages that JK Rowling’s comments on transgender black women should disqualify her forever to speak, write, think,or do just about anything unless and until she repents. My response was, “Oh? Isn’t she entitled to her opinion, even if it differs or diverts from the current social creed?” Some likes, but the initial poster took great offense, suggesting that (1) I am ignorant and most probably a bigot; (2) that referring to the “current social creed” was dismissive of transwomen’s civil rights; (3) that transwomen are, in fact, women; (4) that I should educate myself about trans-black women and crimes against them, and (5) that I needed to declare, once and for all to see, that Black Lives Matter.

    I asked other questions. For one, I asked if JK Rowling deserved the abuse heaped on her. The responses stated that because she is a high profile author of popular books that have some relevance to the Alphabet Community (my words – sorry), that her comments inflict serious harm on members of that community. I wrote that I highly doubted Rowling’s statements harmed anyone. Cue the Cries of Outrage and let loose the Social Justice Warriors. Again, the poster demanded I declare that transwomen are, in fact, women, and my unfettered support for Black Lives Matter. Things got interesting. Aside from being called a bigot and ignorant, I was accused of transphobia because I wouldn’t relent. I said that, if Bruce Jenner now identifies as Kaitlin, I would respect that decision but I wouldn’t submit that Bruce, XY that he was, is now somehow magically XX and, in fact, a woman. Again, abuse heaped on little ol’ me. Ni modo.

    I wrote that my comment about the “new social creed” was not intended to disparage or dismiss anyone’s rights; in fact, I believed that individual rights are derived from inherent liberties arising out of either God or Natural Law, which then lead me to conclude that my actions vis-a-vis the Alphabet community are governed by the Golden Rule. The “new social creed” comment rejected the Marxist idea that rights are granted by the state, which if true, can be changed, altered, or taken away. Things went sideways from there, where I was called to support BLM, unequivocally. I responded that I did support Black lives, and that certainly Black lives matter, but that I rejected completely and emphatically the underlying principles (and principals, for that matter) of BLM, in that it is a Marxist organization that seeks to undermine society.

    The poster was a Facebook friend. That friend defriended me and deleted the thread. Very strange. The orthodoxy would not permit deviation from the norm. The orthodoxy would not permit dissent: conform or be cast out. The orthodoxy would not tolerate individuality: Think about the average – what use have they for you?


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