Debt, Red Herrings, and the Church of Global Warming

James Taranto wrote a column in The Wall Street Journal on the Anti-debt ceiling Republicans that wound up at the global warming issue, an issue that has divided people. An issue that has removed the lens from such environmental disasters as drought-driven famine in Somalia to indigenous cooking fires which "Kill a million and a half people and nobody gives a damn. But become a part of this big climate thing and everyone comes knocking on your door," at least that's what Burkhard Bilger reports in "Hearth Surgery" from The New Yorker, but I digress . . .

James Taranto, a conservative writer, reports that liberals believe, “Some of the congressional Republicans who are preventing action to help the economy are simply intellectual primitives who reject modern economics on the same basis that they reject Darwin and climate science.

"Darwin is a red herring here. Although disparaging people for holding harmless religious beliefs as 'intellectual primitives' is awfully uncivil, we agree . . . that people who 'reject' the theory of natural selection are mistaken.

In argumentation a red herring is a fallacy where an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. So how is Darwin a red herring when it comes to economics? Read on . . .

Taranto goes on to say, "But the comparison between Keynesian economics and global warmism is on target. Both are liberal dogmas disguised, increasingly thinly, as science. Both are supported by circular logic, and thus lack falsifiability, a necessary characteristic of a scientific theory. If the weather gets warmer, that's because of global warming; if it gets colder, that's 'climate change' and proves the theory too. Had unemployment stayed below 8%, as the Obama administration promised it would, that would have proved the 'stimulus' worked; since it peaked at 10% and has held steady above 9%, that proves the stimulus wasn't big enough. Heads I win, tails you lose.”

Here Taranto mentions another logical fallacy--circular reasoning. A circular argument restates the same problem in a different way, such as, "The roads are congested because too many people are driving." Can you see the circle in Taranto's presentation about the debt debate?

A recent article in the The Chronicle of Higher Ed by Laurie Fendrich begins by saying, "I argued that because the majority of the Republican Party is against basic science, the time has come 'for people who are educated to boldly stop pretending that being a Republican is a viable option for an educated person.'" She goes on to connect "global-warming deniers" to the debt crisis. When studying perceived media bias think about why pundits choose certain labels. Obviously, "global-warming deniers" is a reference to "Holocaust-deniers," people who believe that the Holocaust never happened. But it was the vitriol of Professor Fendrich's opinion piece that caught my attention and reminded me of something Freeman Dyson wrote in the foreword to The Best Science and Nature Writing of 2010.

"Environmentalism has now replaced Marxism as the leading secular religion of our age. Environmentalism as a religious movement, with a mystical reverence for nature and a code of ethics based on responsible human stewardship of the planet is already strong and is likely to grow stronger."

Prof. Fendrich's piece reminds one of those "hell fire and brimstone" preachers of old. In the case of climate change, maybe she should consider why there are skeptics in the first place? As the global warming religion heats up, some are skeptical of prophets who profit, such as Al Gore who left office a relative pauper and now lives in splendor with digs in Nashville, Arlington, and Malibu after garnering a Nobel Prize and Academy Award for global warming projects.

Fendrich and Taranto are ideologically opposed, one is a liberal and the other a conservative, so don't expect them to agree. When you begin writing arguments, remember to avoid fallacies and address counterarguments. Yes, you must respond to counterarguments and you should do so in a respectful and logical manner, no matter how "stupid" you think the opposing side.


  1. I believe if the government wasn't so corrupt, America would have a better economy and more freedom. Similar to religion, it has loopholes, controls people, and does not exactly work in the most logical way. If the Government wasn't corrupt, wasting money, the country would be much better off. That is logical because that is what people want.

  2. The global warming is a really important issue because if the weather is always becoming warmer and warmer, no matter Human, animals, or plants, they can't live in that environment. Therefore, human should resolve global warming as soon as possible. Human should reduce releasing CO2. In other words, people should reduce using cars because C02 causes the weather temperture raising and raising. With the fast development of science and technology, human have to create some transporters using electricity or solar energy instead of using gas, which will really reduce releasing CO2. Another way to resolve warming is people need to change nature environment. For instance, people can plant more trees because the green plants can fresh air. They absorb plenty of CO2 and release fresh much more 02.


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