Monday, July 4, 2011

Grubs In The Rot

YOU have to wonder, that is the only sane reaction, and not in the sense of being merely curious. It’s the wide-eyed, mouth-agape species of wonder, and what makes the object of such amazement even more remarkable is that an unfolding outrage is going largely unremarked. Indeed, many of those who speak loudest of moral clarity, not least their own, have been the most energetic betrayers of that which they claim to hold most dear. Opaque spectacles are very much in fashion, and the sad thing, as the fuss surrounding Viscount Monckton’s current visit demonstrates, is that they are worn with pride.

We are not talking here about the tour’s freak- and sideshows, an example of which is the post below. For too many years it has been a gotcha game. Nothing wrong with that and, given the trouble the carbon tax is in, much that has been productive and right. If the diggers and the sifters and the amateur source-checkers had not held the wilder warmist nostrums up to the light, who else might have stalled Big Carbon’s panjandrum? Demonstrating, say, that David Karoly has not grasped how droughts raise temperatures, rather than vice versa*, is fun and satisfying, but it is a skirmish when all is said and done, a small tactical action in a war unlikely to end anytime soon.

The polls say the conflict is being won, that faith in the green creed is faltering, and that is most encouraging. But on the strategic front, truth and integrity continue to take a beating. The shameful reaction Monckton has sparked makes that clear as day, just as it spotlights the intellectual corruption that gnaws like a cancer at things still worth saving.

Think about the debasement of debate, if debate be permitted at all. Some 50 educated, intelligent people – people proud to call themselves academics – demand that someone uttering a dissenting view be denied the lectern. One suspects many of those listed in the post below would be amongst the first to denounce any perceived threat to their own academic freedom. Yet they urge the gag. This is remarkable -- remarkably sad and deeply worrying. And it is sadder still for being only one piece of the rot.

What about the press? What about truth’s purported priests, how did they miss the bigger story? Oh yes, the papers covered the demand to gag, but they looked not far beyond it. It was a pissing match they were chronicling, and the centre-ring action was so diverting they failed to notice that “Academics Back Censorship” is the man who bit a dog. Bias in the newsroom? Sure, that goes without saying, but what of supervisors, sometimes known as “editors”, are there are no adults to restrain the youngsters’ opinionated advocacy? Apparently not, so toss onto the pyre any vestigal faith in the notion that the press loves the story, not the crusade.

When Monckton has come and gone, be certain another slugfest will rage, and then the next, and so ever on and on.

The rot, though, that will keep right on eating away at the codes and institutions that have stood us, for the most part, in several centuries of good stead. Foiling the warmists’ follies and fantasies is vital, make no mistake. A revived honesty and the reforms to make it possible, they are essential. It is a long way down without them.

(*droughts raise temperatures because the sun's energy heats dry land faster than it does moist land, no energy being lost to evaporation. In blaming the recent drought and 2009 Victorian/SA heatwave on global warming, an assertion about which hydrologist Stewart Franks set him straight, Karoly turns physics on its head. If a wet Karoly and a dry Karoly both stepped into the sun, the damp edition would remain cooler for longer.)


  1. The common name for the rot is political correctness. As I recall, our children started to spread its spores in the Whitlam era, when they told us that we must stop telling jokes about the Irish.
    When directives from above required the removal of the words Ladies and Gentlemen from from all public dunnies, I realised it was too late to develop an effective fungicide.

  2. No, Skeeter - the common name for the rot is UNREASON. Otherwise, I suspect we are united in our purpose.

  3. One might think the institutions of higher education (well, at least they are marginally more difficult than high school) would inculcate the sprit of rational thinking and basic respect for contrary opinions, but of course they don't. My last few years teaching law at a 'great 8' place were productive of what I think is scholarship, but otherwise very wearing. Sullen, whinging, lying and cheating students; managerialist deans and vice-chancellors; policies on appointment and just about everything else about the measurement of merit that operated on the principle that gender, ethnicity, was strongly relevant; research achievement measured in the ability to extract money from the ARC; and pervading all activity (including especially student assessment) a stultifying political correctness - all these things led to my retirement (hurt).

    So I agree with your last paragraph, but what to about it? Is all lost, so that the best we can do is to export our standards to the rest of the world so that we do not fall behind (with apologies to Theodore Dalrymple's column is the Weekend Oz)?

    More positively, one measure might be action by the bodies that set standards for admission to the professions. Many lawyers and judges know that the quality of law graduates has declined dramatically, but to date no action has been taken, although some propose post-university USA-style bar admission exams. So, may I encourage you all to write to the Law Society, the Bar association, and the Supreme Court and complain about the poor legal service you received. A similar tactic could be employed so far as concerns accountants, doctors, etc. Of course, you might have to make it up a bit or a lot, but, hey, that's what the enemy are doing, and in any event, the aim is to get these bodies to examine the situation more thoroughly.

    I used to think a private university might say - we are not going to dumb down and chase grants, we are going to teach to a high standard and fail those who can't reach it. Does anyone have the ear of a rich mining magnate?

  4. PhillipGeorge(c)2011July 5, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    More CO2 means more plants in more places with improved Water Use Efficiency [WUE].
    Lowering the albedo effect because jungle doesn't reflect like desert.