Tuesday 25th of February 2020

twisting the facts...

Historian Says Perry Misses Point on Galileo and Climate Change


In one of the more curious moments in the Republican debate on Wednesday night, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas invoked 17th-century science in discussing his doubts about climate change. He cited the astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei — often called the father of modern science — in suggesting that the current thinking that climate change is a result of human activity could be overturned. “Galileo got outvoted for a spell,” he said.

On the surface, though, his example seemed to illustrate the opposite of the point that Mr. Perry might have been trying to make. Galileo, whose astronomical observations confirmed the Copernican theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun, was basing his assertions on empirical knowledge and faced opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, which supported the Ptolemaic view of an Earth-centered universe.

Mr. Perry, by contrast, has said repeatedly that he does not believe the empirical evidence compiled by scientists in support of climate change, but that he does adhere to faith-based principles.

Was Mr. Perry trying to depict Galileo as a maverick among scientific thinkers of his time? If so, the governor was wrong, says one historian who has studied the trial of Galileo.  

“If Perry means to say that at some point some body of scientists said Galileo was wrong, that didn’t happen,” said the historian, Thomas F. Mayer, who teaches at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.

Galileo and Copernicus were long ago proved right, but even in Galileo’s day there were scientists who supported him, Mr. Mayer said. “His notions about science were not that far out there,” he said. “There were a lot of other scientists, especially in Rome, who more or less agreed with his scientific observations.”

 Perhaps, then, Mr. Perry was referring to the church’s trial of Galileo on charges of heresy, in 1633, in which the astronomer was convicted and sentenced to house arrest. In that case he was “outvoted” not by other scientists but by church leaders.


the power of lying spruikers...

The power of spruikers no matter how wrong they are — from Perry to Abbott — is their extraordinary ability to twist the facts to suit their idiotic views and confidently dump them on us like gospel at a healing revivalist church. The fabled revisionism of history is totally reconstructed in their own minds into a certifiable truth based on impeccable sophism:

Galilieo was a maverick.

I am a maverick.

Galileo was proven right, therefore I am right in what I say against scientists.

This is the extraordinary talent of telling porkies, used with unshakable confidence, that many political and religious spruikers use to bamboozle the masses into faith. What is amazing is that these spruikers do not see the outrageous opposing conflicts of false ideas that they use to build their argument .... The gab-gifted idiots are winning... Let me cry.

a history of exceptionalism .....

Rick Perry links the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and '60s to the struggle of the Republican Party to absolve the wealthiest Americans from paying a fair share of their debt to their country. He also thinks it's legitimate to secede from the USA. To the Perry version of American exceptionalism, add some others: Sarah Palin finds us exceptional because she can have her guns; Michelle Bachmann seems to define American exceptionalism as our ability to achieve just about anything we set our sights on, no matter how unlikely, as long as our oversized, overregulating government only gets out of the way.

For Mitt Romney, American exceptionalism seems to turn on the ability of entrepreneurs to innovate and make a ton of money, even if we're selling off bits and pieces of once-healthy companies. For TV host Chris Matthews, (I'm paraphrasing) it's exemplified by Obama being born of mixed race and yet making it to the presidency. Chris says this couldn't happen in any other country in the world. "You can't go to China or Japan and become Chinese or Japanese. Obama came to the US and became an American and is now in the White House. (Chris leaves out the minor truth that Obama didn't have to become American - he already was, having been born in Hawaii.)

Virtually since the beginning of our Republic, we have been spinning a variety of narratives to reassure ourselves that we are the greatest nation ever invented and that no other comes even close. That, presumably, is one of the reasons we seem to have this irresistible urge to teach the rest of the world how to be exceptional, too.

But one of the wisest men I know is injecting a dose of reality into the patriotic mishmash being cooked up by those seeking to get themselves elected to something.

That man is Doug Speth, or more formally, James Gustave Speth. A Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Yale Law School, after which he became a co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Then, in the White House, as a member and subsequently for two years as chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, he served in the executive office of the president. Later, he was professor of law at Georgetown, teaching environmental and constitutional law.

In 1982, he founded the World Resources Institute, a Washington, DC-based environmental think tank, serving as its president until January 1993. He was a senior adviser to President-elect Bill Clinton's transition team, heading the group that examined the US's role in natural resources, energy and the environment.

Still later, he served as administrator of the United Nations Development Program; dean of the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He retired from Yale in 2009 to assume a professorship at Vermont Law School.

Now, why I am going to such lengths to introduce you to some of the details of this outstanding career? Because those folks who believe in American exceptionalism - or think they're simply good for political aspirations - are wont to blame the messenger who brings actual proof that Americans may once have been exceptional, but today that achievement is crumbling and our favorites narratives with it.

American Exceptionalism

please, pray to the god of atheists...

They're both victims of persecution though … In a way, yes. Galileo was put on trial by the Roman Inquisition and sentenced to house arrest for almost 10 years until his death, while Perry has been plagued by pesky scientists wielding facts.

Facts? Considered a form of psychological abuse by some on the Christian right.

It sounds like Galileo was lucky to escape with his life. Yes, unlike the 234 people executed under Perry's governorship.

So is Perry a genius? During a severe drought this April, Perry proclaimed a three-day "prayer for rain". Conditions worsened.




beaches tend to empty...


But risk perception isn't a rational endeavor. Sometimes moderate risks take shape as vicious monsters in the public's imagination, while far greater threats are dismissed, out of sight and out of mind. Most of us don't think twice before undertaking the relatively dangerous endeavor of getting into a car and driving across town, but after every serious shark attack, rare as they are, beaches tend to empty. Much of this skewed perception is driven by the media, which get big ratings and lots of pageviews from shark attacks but don't see much interest in fatal car crashes.

One would be hard-pressed to come up with a better example of how skewed perceptions of potential threats lead to profoundly irrational policy than the government's responses to acts of terrorism and the fallout from human-induced climate change. Washington has shifted an enormous amount of funding from the latter to the former, and the tragic irony is that those skewed priorities will continue to get Americans killed.

Last year, the National Academy of scientists surveyed 1,372 climate researchers and found that 98 percent of them believe human activities are changing our climate (one has to presume the other 2 percent are working for Exxon)



The sad part here is that human activity can be easily measured in the amount of CO2 added into the atmosphere, year after year after year... No secret here. Humans add 3ppm of CO2 per year into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. This CO2 is on top of what has been the "natural CO2 cycle" for the last one million years. So far, climate has been quite tame, despite a few too many horrendous storms and cyclones. But donkeys, asses and dumbos like Barnaby Joyce in this country have no clue about what this means. Nor do they want to know. They've got god and Alan Jones on their side — so they must be right despite being fools and ignoramuses.

stupid dissenters and deliberate ignoramuses...

Suddenly scientific evaluation is just opinion, the scientific method just one way of understanding the physical world.

Well that is not right. There is plenty of room for debate on the issue of climate change. The course of action that should be taken on the basis of science involves real doubts and ambiguities.

What you can say about science and climate change is what is often said. There is an overwhelming consensus among scientists working in the field of climate that the planet is warming and that the human-generated increase in concentration of C02 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is contributing to that warming. There is no major national scientific body which dissents from that view. All major scientific bodies - the CSIRO here, Britain's Royal Society, the AAAS in the United States and others - share the view.

Dissent comes from a small minority of scientists working on climate and a larger number who have no qualifications or publications in that field.

But the white heat of the climate change debate has brought not just climate scientists, but science itself in for public questioning.

So it is worth restating a simple and unambiguous fact. There is one and only one way to understand the physical universe, that is through science, by applying the scientific method.

You cannot understand the world or the rest of physical reality by conducting a focus group, by lining up the numbers in a political party, by opinion polls, by prayer, by invocation, by assertion, by rhetoric. Above all you cannot establish the nature of physical reality by relying on that sometime friend, common sense.

What evidence, shared by our common senses, shows us that the world is round? What common sense insight would allow us to know we are revolving around the sun and not the sun around us? Certainly what are now self-evident truths eluded human society through millennia of flawed observation.

Science, to repeat, is the only tool for understanding the physical universe.



One of the sad point is that some people are going to say stupid things like this blogger in answer to this article:

It has been happening for 4.6 billion years - it is not a new phenomena. The issue is does it present a real and present danger to life on this planet? Some would say yes and try to scare the living daylights out of people and some would so no but we need to be congisant of the issue and adapt accordingly. In all reality what man does will make very little difference in ant event.

That is somewhat illiterate and totally ignorant of the process. No shame. Thanks that someone can respond and explain (as we have on this site for a long time see "letter to prue" for example):

Goodness me. People have explained all this. Climate change such as is happening now has not been happening for 4 billion years. The carbon has been stored for however long and now it's all extracted and put into the atmosphere in one go. Or a couple of hundred years. If your ancestors were very prudent and saved money for generations and you came along and took it all out of the bank and blew it, would it change your life? Would it change the lives of the next generation? We are adding CO2 at such a rate that things will change. Either you will too or your kids will suffer.


see toon at top...

one, two, oops...

An ‘Oops’ From Perry and Audience Support for Cain at Republican Debate

By and

ROCHESTER, Mich. — Gov. Rick Perry of Texas emphatically declared at a Republican presidential debate on Wednesday night that he would like to eliminate three government agencies. But as he began to explain, he could think of only two.

“Commerce, Education,” Mr. Perry said, pausing for an uncomfortable moment and looking from side to side as he counted on his fingers and flipped through notes. As his rivals offered suggestions, a moderator asked if he could name the third agency. “I can’t,” he finally said, a sad look on his face.

“Oops,” he said.