Monday, September 13, 2010

AGW skepticism and declining trust in institutions

An extreme environmentalist website called Grist has recently complained that
The right’s climate denialism is part of something much larger.
The bigger "problem" as identified by David Roberts is that the people began to realize that various corrupt institutions are corrupt, indeed.

The author shows that since 2008, the number of people among leftists, moderates, and conservatives who believe that "effects of global warming are already occurring" dropped by -2, 6, and 20 percentage points, respectively.

Roberts correctly says that "When people are feeling safer and more prosperous, climate scientists will magically become more persuasive."

I think this is a valid observation: when people feel that they have too much money and they don't know what to do with it, they lower their standards for a "good investment" and start to invent ways how to throw the money into the toilet, too. That's also why the rich countries witness a higher support for the global warming insanity than the poorer ones.

David Roberts also mentions that he never wants to discuss the climate again. He has already "had his fill" of his denial of the existence of sunspots, the Medieval Warm Period (that he calls "medieval warming periods"), the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and others. Roberts has been denying the basic properties of the climate and the Sun for many years and he probably wants others to take his job.

However, he also shows the spaghetti graph above. It indicates that the confidence in various institutions in the U.S. - religions [at the top], supreme court, banks, public schools, newspaper, congress, television news, organized labor, the presidency, the medical system, the criminal justice system, and the big business has been gradually decreasing in recent 35 years.

The police and the military have seen the opposite trend and needless to say, Roberts is shocked by this fact, too. After all, he is an extreme leftist. I personally consider the military and the police to be the main institutions that justify the existence of countries so they're important. And there also exist reasons why their trustworthiness hasn't recently decreased much.

For the other institutions, people on all sides could worry that the decline of their trustworthiness could lead us to dangerous new waters. But from a broader perspective, the decline is both justified as well as refreshing.

One of the aspects - but not the only aspect - is the ideology that began to take over many of these institutions. In the past, schools or media would be - in average - impartial and balanced players that the political movements could temporarily convinced to become allies. But there was never anything "permanent" about these relationships. Just like various politicians could possess money, they could find positive articles about them or scientific arguments that help them. But in the past, they couldn't have "guaranteed" such things permanently because the media and science were simply independent of politics.

In the recent decades, however, the media and schools - among other institutions - appear to be "eternally bought" by an ideology - and by the loosely organized community that makes living out of it. Well, if it were fully so, you shouldn't be shocked that the trustworthiness of these institutions has to be low. If an institution becomes nothing else than one of the "arms" of a leftist movement, you shouldn't be shocked that the trustworthiness of this institution will mimic the trustworthiness of the leftist movement itself.

And indeed, the trustworthiness of the leftist movement shouldn't surpass 50% - assuming that at most 50% of the people are incapable to understand that the left-wing ideology is a pernicious disease that threatens the very functioning of the human society.

Even the commenters at GRIST are extremely open about their desire to transform the education system and the media to mouthpieces of their atrocious, left-wing ideology. So comrades, you shouldn't be shocked that their trustworthiness will converge towards zero. You can't milk a cow indefinitely.

There is a trade-off here: you may try to rape the education system and overtake a larger portion of it - by intimidating and dismissing everyone who doesn't share your ideological delusions - but you can't be surprised that at the end, you will only possess a greater portion of a much smaller pie. You know, comrades, the pie used to be valuable and precious exactly because you did not possess it.

I Want Your Money will be in movie theaters in the Fall. See some related cartoons.

Am I unquestionably happy about the trends? I am not. While I do think that these trends are likely to ultimately largely erase the public schools or the "mainstream media" off the map, I don't think it is a "purely good" thing. It's great if corrupt institutions evaporate. On the other hand, it's a bad thing that if important institutions disappear.

The institutionalized science or the balanced media have been important players for the human society. Of course, their death in the modern era has de facto started by their contamination by the ideological toxins: that was the moment when people should have cried about their demise for the first time. And toxic things should better go away. However, it's still a potentially bad development.

I still hope it's possible for things such as the balanced media or an honest scientific establishment to get resuscitated sometime in the future.

1 comment:

  1. 1. A good starting point to get a trust survey with the latest trends, including regional differences, to put various graphs and claims in perspective, I have usually found, with the past ~10 years online.
    Maybe people are really learning about the pros and cons of social media. ;)
    2. I respectfully disagree with the oversimplification, stating military and police as the justifications for the existence of countries. Yes, police is important to enforce some commonly agreed rules of society. Military should function as police on a different scale. However, let me go with Eisenhower: the military industrial complex has a danger of running away on it's own since it is big business and the business motivation carries the day. Calculation how much money was spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, and yes Obama's bailouts, and think how much each person in the world has spent on it on average and could do instead with that money. Country boundaries or countries are no issue for military business. Given the nature of partial secrecy of military work, how trustworthy is that?