Free Markets, Free People
Powerline’s Steven Hayward brings us the results of a revealing paper by Cultural Cognition Project at Yale University. It attacks one of the popular myths that only dummies reject the “consensus” because they are ignorant of the science. Not so says the CCP:
The conventional explanation for controversy over climate change emphasizes impediments to public understanding: limited popular knowledge of science, the inability of ordinary citizens to assess technical information, and the resulting widespread use of unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. A large survey of U.S. adults (N = 1540) found little support for this account. On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones.
Hayward points out that these results validate an earlier finding from the journal Risk Analysis (2008):
By examining the results of a survey on an original and representative sample of Americans, we find that these three forces—informedness, confidence in scientists, and personal efficacy—are related in interesting and unexpected ways, and exert significant influence on risk assessments of global warming and climate change. In particular, more informed respondents both feel less personally responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming. We also find that confidence in scientists has unexpected effects: respondents with high confidence in scientists feel less responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming.
Now one could conclude that it is actually the least informed who buy into the AGW because they’re less likely to seek out explanations to the underlying “science” that supports the theory. Instead they accept it whole cloth and defend it instead of taking a skeptical point of view – a view which science demands. Questioning the theory would also indicate intellectual curiosity instead of the rote acceptance of what is presented.
There’s a bit of irony to had here. Hayward:
Whoa there: The more science you know about climate change, the less likely you are to think it is a crisis? This suggest that all the money environmentalists have spent (I think the Environmental Defense Fund has spent $300 million alone on climate change) has had a negative effect on public opinion, and it offers the ironic possibility that the best thing Al Gore could do to advance his cause is shut up and grow his beard back in a Tibetan monastery.
It makes the case that a) the public isn’t stupid, b) propaganda is still mostly recognized as propaganda and c) the intellectually curious are more likely to be “skeptical” than the less intellectually curious.
Not a particularly flattering portrait of the AGW crowd, is it?
John Hinderaker at Powerline hits on something I’ve been saying for quite some time about the man in the White House:
Last night Col. Ralph Peters was on Bill O’Reilly’s show, talking about Libya. Peters thinks we should act on behalf of the rebels there, but he expressed skepticism that President Obama will ever do anything. "Obama loves the idea of being President," Peters said, "but he can’t make a decision."
I think there is a lot of truth to that, even in domestic policy, where Obama has passively deferred to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi on all legislative matters. One can debate whether action is appropriate in Libya or not, but Peters is certainly right when it comes to foreign policy–it is a safe bet that Obama will do nothing, because doing something would require a decision.
Now it just so happens that I think we ought to stay out of Libya, so this is a stopped clock moment for me. I essentially agree with Obama’s non-decision.
However, to the larger point. I agree with Peters completely when he says “Obama loves the idea of President, but he can’t make a decision”. I might have said it a little differently. Obama loves the idea of being President and the trappings and perks. What he doesn’t like is the job.
I think that should be abundantly clear to anyone who has closely observed the man and taken a look at his background. I always remember the words of the managing editor of the Harvard Law Review who said that Obama loved the title of Editor of the Law Review, but he didn’t want to do the work. The managing editor said he rarely saw him except when it was to glad hand or take credit (and praise) for what was being done. Additionally, Obama never wrote a thing for the review during his tenure, something almost unheard of.
In all cases, his problem is a leadership problem – a familiar topic for regular readers here. He’s simply not a leader. He has no idea how to be a leader. But that doesn’t keep him from wanting leadership roles that offer him prestige, perks and pleasure derived from simply from being in the position.
The reason Obama can’t make a decision is he can’t reason like a leader must. He has no experience. And he doesn’t understand the decision making process as practiced by a leader. He’s never really had to make leadership decisions. So he simply tries to avoid making them. One way he does it is to ignore the problem. Another way he does this is to appoint commissions and panels concerning problems the country faces in order to defer the problem (and decision). He also like to defer to the “international community” on foreign policy or the Democratic leadership in the legislature on domestic things. Again, the avoidance of decision making.
And, in the end, he lets them make the decisions for him and then he jumps on the bandwagon with a speech full of rhetoric about how they (whichever party he is deferring to on whatever issue) have listened to him and decided on a course much like he recommended. Or something like that.
Even the Democrats are noticing how poor a leader he is. They’ve been hollering for weeks, some of them very vocally, that he needs to step up and show some leadership in the budget process. To this point he’s done much of nothing. Today he gave a press conference on energy because gas prices have increased. Essentially his line of argument, concerning domestic oil, is we’re doing fine and we shouldn’t worry.
And where has he decided to try to take a little leadership?
Umhmmm. That boiling, roiling top tier controversy that threatens to tear the world apart. On the turmoil in the Middle East, yeah, uh, not so much. France is doing just fine and besides, Hillary will be by to see you soon.
Instead of a leader, we’re stuck with this:
Mr. Obama has told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China. As one official put it, “No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square.”
Amazing. "Easier". See Peters’ words above.
I say we cut him loose in 2012 and let him take the “hope and change” show to China to make his case. They’ll be bankrupt inside of 2 years.
Charles Bolden, head of NASA, tells Al Jazeera that the "foremost" task President Obama has given him is "to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering." Thus, NASA’s primary mission is no longer to enhance American science and engineering or to explore space, but to boost the self-esteem of "predominantly Muslim nations."
Seriously. Watch the video at Powerline. An 18.5 billion budget spent on self-esteem outreach? Because, per the Obama administration, NASA no longer has a space exploration mission. In fact, as Powerline points out, space exploration didn’t even make the top three priority missions Bolden is charged with:
The other two are "re-inspire children to want to get into science and math" and "expand our international relationships.
So essentially NASA’s new mission is a) muslim outreach and self-esteem bolstering, b) exciting kids about science and math and c) expand international relationships, obviously not for space exploration though. Now that’s leadership.
And you wonder why we’re going broke, heading toward mediocrity and have clueless leadership engaged in misusing an expensive agency for self-esteem projects on your dime?
See the results of the election held in November of 2008.