The Illusion in Attacks, Part 2

This entry is part 10 of 47 in the series Blog1

April 24, 2012

Unintended Consequences

Chris Mooney has quintessentially distilled the stupid card attack on the Right by writing two books that portray Republicans, Christians, Libertarians and any thinkers on the Right as dumb and anti science. His first book was called The Republican War on Science and the second The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science–and Reality.

The interesting thing is that Mooney was an English major and journalist, about as far as you can get from a science background, yet he is a major figure on the Left defining who is and is not in harmony with science, logic and reality. Instead of being accepted in scientific journals his writings appear in publications such as Mother Jones, Slate,, The American Scholar, The Washington Monthly, the Utne Reader, Columbia Journalism Review, etc.

As usual, the attack on the Right as being dumb and unscientific comes from a social non-scientific thinker on the Left and not real scientists who can clearly define what is scientifically accurate and what is not. Now I’m not saying a journalist cannot write something that is scientifically sound but Mr. Mooney writes much more like a propaganda minister than a scientist.

One of the problems is many of his accusations toward Republicans and conservatives being unscientific and stupid are based on his political differences rather than what is scientifically true and what is not. His two books could have been titled, “My Political Differences with Republicans, Books I and II”

Instead, he just declares that the Republican stand is not scientific and therefore stupid making them out of contact with reality. He’s not as harsh as Bill Maher and others but he writes with an air of superiority that is annoying.

A lot of his accusations of stupidity on the part of the Republicans come from disagreements on the environment.  This includes such things as air and water pollution, salmon recovery, second hand smoke, the EPA, Bushes stupidity etc.

If the Republicans want to take an approach to cleaner air that spends less money and involves fewer regulations than the Democrats Mooney and others think they do not believe in clean water and air and are anti science and anti environment.

What they do not look at are results.  Bush was perhaps portrayed as the most environmentally ignorant president in history merely because he believed in offering positive incentives rather than forceful controls. But something critics are now silent about was that his approach seemed to work for during his eight years the environment improved in many ways.

According to an EPA publication, during the eight years of the Bush administration CO2 emissions were reduced a whopping 15% even as the population grew 9%. One could certainly argue that Bush’s unscientific and ignorant approach to the environment worked pretty well.

In addition, carbon monoxide decreased by 39 percent, ozone by 6 percent, and sulfur dioxide by 32 percent. In most any category pollution levels are generally lower than they were in 2001 according to the “Index of Leading Environmental Indicators.”

Does it make any sense that Mooney and others claim that Bush is dumb in his approach to the environment when he has one of the best records of results in history? Such people can complain they do not agree with his methods but when record-making results are obtained one can hardly claim that what works is either stupid or unscientific.

These guys are like the critic complaining that Steve Jobs did not apply the right computer technology methods when he created the ipad. It sounds a little mentally incompetent to state emphatically that what works has no merit.

The Left applies the old tactic of bait and switch to achieve their ends.  Instead of calling a policy difference what it is they misname it a scientific difference and portray those who disagree as a flat earth Luddite. This gives them the supposed advantage of being in a position that they can merely dismiss opposition as ridiculous rather than intellectually dealing with it. For instance, if a global warning alarmist is challenged to a debate he will refuse, merely dismissing the challenger as not intellectually worthy of his time or attention.

The Right is often accused of being anti scientific because they are supposedly against clean air, water, the environment, salmon, trees and cute little puppies. This is not the case at all.  What they are against is using bad judgment.  If we are to reduce pollution then we must use an approach that will not break the bank and turn us into a third world country that may pollute much more than we do now. If the Right doesn’t support a dangerous approach to reducing pollutants they are unjustly accused of supporting dirty air.

Many on the Left think that all they have to do to accomplish a good end is to mandate it with an increase of rules and regulations but there are many unintended consequences of a mindless plunge into such things.  The United States is regulated much more than should be but if one wants to see where we could be in a decade or so all we need do is look to Britain which has progressed leftward in rules and regulations even more than us.  Here are two examples.

(1) Simon Burgess regularly fed swans in a three-foot deep model boating lake in Gosport, Hampshire, England.  One day the wind blew his bag of feed into the lake and as Simon leaned in to retrieve it he had a epileptic fit and fell in. After he seemed to struggle for a time face down a person nearby called the fire department to assist him.

After they arrived they discovered a problem with the regulations in saving the guy. All they had on hand were men trained for “Level One” water rescue.  This means that no one was permitted to attempt a rescue in water more than ankle deep. Even so, several men volunteered to break the rules and save Simon. One guy had had training in swimming in strong currents but was denied permission to enter the three-foot deep waters.

To save Simon they had to call in specialists who were trained in “Level Two” water rescue who could brave it into three feet of water.

Simon could have been rescued from the lake within two minutes of the firemen arriving.  Because of silly regulations (a scientific approach according to the Left) they could not legally retrieve him until the Level Two people arrived which took 37 minutes.  After the 37 minutes passed Simon was dead.

Poor Simon – a victim of death by over-regulation. Story Link Here

Alison Hume was another victim of over-regulation in the UK that seems to be coming our way soon. She fell 45 feet into a mineshaft and suffered some broken bones but nothing life threatening provided she could be rescued promptly.

Again firemen arrived in what seemed plenty of time but they discovered a problem. The winch they had available was not approved to rescue anyone but other firemen.  Apparently, it was a firemen only winch. They then had to leave Mrs. Hume, mother of two children, in that deep dark cold hole for eight hours until a government approved team arrived with approved rescue tools and brought her to the surface. It was too late.  Staying in that cold damp hole for eight hours caused her to die of hypothermia. Story Link Here

Unfortunately, many on the Left aspire to be even more into Big Government, as are the UK and Europe, but we are not far behind.

The famous Hispanic comedian, Paul Rodriguez, learned this the hard way.  He had been a life long Democrat and environmentalist and had donated time and money to many environmental causes. Then one day he discovered that the Endangered Species Act, that he had supported in the past, had unintended consequences. Because of this act a judge ruled that the water pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta be shut down supposedly to help the endangered Delta Smelt to survive. No one knows if the shut down would actually help the fish or not but on the off chance the judge sided with the letter of the law of the Endangered Species Act.

This had the unintended consequence of shutting off irrigation water to the agricultural Central Valley and urban Southern California where the Rodriguez family and many others owned land.  This turned the most luscious farmland in the world into a desert at the cost of 80,000 jobs and inflating the price of fruits and vegetables across the country.

It also turned Rodriguez from an unthinking supporter of environmental regulation to one who sees the value of the common sense of the Right.  He said:

“This has not only changed my political point of view, it has changed everyone around me. We have always been lifelong devoted Democrats. I supported Mr. Obama. You know, I’m part of the “I love you, Mr. Obama” group. But I — that patina is starting to fade. I want — I want my lover to call me. There’s 80,000 of us over here hoping to get some precipitation here. We need to continue to farm, and we need that water open badly. I appeal to Mr. Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, to please land this time, talk to us, come see us, look at the faces that you’re affecting.” Story Link Here

In my home state of Idaho, a married couple, Michael and Chantal Sockett  dreamed of building their dream house. They bought three quarter of an acre of land near Priest Lake Idaho for $23,000 in 2005. Finally, in 2007 they had the means to begin building.  After spending three whole days preparing a half-acre for laying the foundation EPA officials mysteriously showed up and declared that the lot was a wetland that needed to be restored to its original pristine condition.  Every day that this was not accomplished would cost them a fine of $37,500.

They thought this was outrageous and decided to fight the decree. The lower courts did not side with them because the power of the EPA was beyond anyone’s legal authority to challenge them.  Meanwhile their fines added up to around $100 million for this $23,000 lot by the time they got to the Supreme Court. Story Links Here and Here

The acts of the EPA were so outrageous that the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that they could sue them. That’s less than half the battle though because the Sacketts could still lose to the EPA in court.

Are comedian Paul Rodriguez and the Sackett family anti environment and anti science because they now understand the unintended consequences of feel-good programs that can do more harm than good?

No. I’m sure they both love Mother Earth, but they also love common sense and the chance for average people to live a happy productive life without Big Brother breathing down their necks.

Conclusion:  Just because a law, a bill, a department or an agency has an Orwellian benevolent sounding name does not mean it is either benevolent or in harmony with science.  All things that affect our lives should be examined with a skeptical eye before being approved.

I can’t take time to counter all of Mooney’s accusations of policy and not necessarily scientific differences.  Instead, I gave a few examples of unintended consequences of regulations the Left generally sees as scientifically approved. He has spent two books on policy presented as science and it would take a book or two to counter them one by one.  Instead, I’ll add several important points where the Right is accused of being unscientific, dumb flat earthers by Mooney, Maher, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann and others.  We’ll start with Global Warming/Climate Change.


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