National Geographic’s Pseudo-Scientific Centerfold

natgeo-risingseasWhile plausible arguments can be made that anthropogenic global warming is happening, many proponents thereof often resort to demagoguery and pseudoscience. Hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and floods, for example, are demagogued to death as signs of global warming, even though the same has been happening since time immemorial.

National Geographic just pulled a whopper in the demagoguery department. Its current feature article is on rising sea levels. There’s a fold-out map, called “If All the Ice Melted,” on what the world would look like if all polar and glacial ice melted – with sea levels some 200 feet higher than present.

The map – which many families will no doubt post up in their homes and many teachers post up in their classrooms – is groundless and very unscientific fear-mongering.

It conveys the impression that if we continue on our current course, the world will look like that at some future date. In fine print they say it could take 5,000 years for all of the ice to melt. But even this is absurd. For one thing, it is estimated that it would take anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 years for all of the ice just on Greenland to melt – and that would raise sea levels by just 20-25 feet. Antarctica, which holds the most ice, isn’t even melting; perhaps that’s because even if global temps rise a bit, it’s so cold there that temps will still remain well below freezing.

More significantly, within a couple of thousand years, we’re due for another ice age. It’s been about 11 or 12 thousand years since the last one and ice ages have been the norm over the past 2.5 million or so years, with “interglacials” such as the one we’re in now lasting around 12,000 years. And with a new ice age, sea levels would drop several hundred feet as happened during the last one.

While someone could speculate that mankind will delay the next ice age due to increased CO2 emissions, the NatGeo article doesn’t go near that – probably because it’s so speculative.

So the NatGeo map is depicting an absurdity.

A scientifically grounded map would depict the likeliest scenario: an ice age a few thousand years hence, with ocean water levels a few hundred feet lower, not higher. In that case they could have mentioned the far less likely scenario of all the ice melting, but then they would have had to argue that mankind will prevent or delay the next ice age through carbon emissions. And they certainly don’t make that argument.

Likewise, their cover graphic of water levels reaching halfway up the Statue of Liberty – some 200 feet above current levels – depicts an absurdity as well.

— update – four months later —

NatGeo finally ran letters to the editor regarding the above cover story. Despite a letter from this observer echoing the above, and I’m sure letters from others making similar points, the magazine had zero letters critical of their cover story. Only only positive letters were featured. Now that’s shoddy journalism.

The Ironies of Elizabeth Warren

Apart from initially wiping out any mention of “God” from the party platform, one of the biggest manifestations of the Democratic Party’s lurch leftward is the elevation of the “wealth-is-theft” school of thought.

The notion that the wealthy got their money through institutionalized theft used to be championed just by people on the far-left fringe, like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. But at their national convention earlier this month, Democrats not only featured a speaker championing this school of thought, but gave her a coveted, prime-time slot – right before Bill Clinton.

Folks, it’s not your mom and dad’s Democratic Party anymore.

The speaker was Elizabeth Warren, who’s running for Senate in Massachusetts (and infamous for her claims of being part Cherokee Indian).

For more on the demagoguery, click here.

The ultimate irony? That Ms. Warren and her cohorts on the left are protectors of actual wealth transfer from the poor to the rich. As explained in the post below, the 15.3 percent payroll tax on the working poor, perversely, helps fund Social Security and Medicare payouts to middle- and high-income retirees. Whenever Congressional Republicans propose “means-testing” so that transfer payments don’t go to the rich, Democrats balk.

Yet another irony: Awhile back, lefties swooned over Ms. Warren’s comment along the lines that job creators should pay more taxes because of the government services provided to them like roads, police, education, etc.

But as explained in an earlier blog post, we’re getting less of those essential government services because of people like Elizabeth Warren!

The left is fueling the biggest crisis in government: the crowding out of things like law enforcement, fire protection, transportation infrastructure, education, environmental protection, etc. by wealth redistribution. Fully two-thirds of federal government spending goes toward entitlements and other redistribution programs – up from about 25 percent several decades ago. And with Obamacare, it’s on track for 70 percent in a few years. For a short video on the subject, click here.

Basic government services are getting squeezed out. Yet Ms. Warren and her allies relentlessly call for more wealth redistribution, tightening the squeeze.

Dr. Madeleine Albright’s Warning Sign

Well, so much for aging with grace and dignity.

In an appeal for donations of $3 or more, seventy-four-year-old former secretary of state Madeleine Albright described those opposed to the legalized killing of human fetuses and those who oppose socialized contraception with such respectful language as “extremists“, “attackers on women’s rights” and purveyors of “vicious misogyny”.

A genteel and above-the-fray elder stateswoman she is not.

Another term she used was “radical Republicans”. Why thank you Dr. Albright. Little do you realize it but that’s actually a compliment. Those up on their history know that the famous Radical Republicans were the ones who pushed for unconditional abolition of slavery before and during the Civil War, and civil rights for former slaves after the war.

Madeleine Albright being in the news again brings to mind an amusing incident described in Walter Isaacson’s recent biography of Steve Jobs. Former Apple CEO Gil Amelio, who presided over the company when it was hemorrhaging massive amounts of cash, is described in an unflattering light. “He was just such a buffoon, and he took himself so seriously,” recalled Jobs. “He insisted that everyone call him Dr. Amelio. That’s always a warning sign.”

(Note: Jobs was notorious for his insults and intolerance for folks who don’t think like him, so I’m sure Dr. Amelio didn’t deserve such harsh language from Jobs.)

Yes, insisting that everyone call you doctor-so-and-so just because you spent an additional two or three years studying at a university, can be a warning sign. I remember reading a news article back when Dr. Albright was secretary of state, describing an incident where she insisted that everyone call her “Dr. Albright”, especially since people addressed one of her predecessors as Dr. Kissinger.

Yep, that was a warning sign all right.



Update: a few months later. I listen to a C-Span radio interview with Dr. Albright on a recent book of hers about her family’s experiences in Czechoslovakia during the Nazi and Soviet eras, and she was wonderful to listen to. Elder-stateswomanly-like. Too bad she has to go and sign her name to some crass political mailing which someone else probably wrote.

The New Demagogues

Have you ever come across people who trumpet statistics saying that Jews have a disproportionate share of the wealth? Those statistics may be right, but usually the person spouting them is prejudiced against Jews.

What they do is tout certain statistics without providing the right context or explanation, such as the fact that Jewish parents really emphasize education more so than people of other religions, resulting in their children having higher incomes when they become adults. They should be admired, not vilified. It’s a similar situation with Asian-Americans.

Now, media outlets, as well as President Obama and many others, are trumpeting statistics showing that in recent decades, the top 1 percent’s income has risen much faster than that of the other 99 percent.

To tout statistics like this without providing the right context is like anti-Semitic people touting statistics showing that Jews have a disproportionate share of the wealth. The people in the media and the President are prejudiced against the rich.

Just as the demagogues of old whipped up envy, prejudice, and hate against the Jews, President Obama and his enablers are doing the same against the rich.

(For context regarding the top 1 percent statistics, click here.)


Demagogue Alert

Yet another one where the writer impugns the character of those with whom he disagrees, calling them “stoney hearted” and having “open contempt” for “compassion or tolerance or fundamental fairness”.

My comment to the article, by a Mr. Neal Gabler, follows:

It’s a total myth that conservatives want to end or change programs that would harm the downtrodden. Time and again it’s been demonstrated that liberal programs hurt the poor, from the public housing fiascos, to welfare dependency that even Daniel Patrick Moynahan and Bill Clinton recognized were exacerbating poverty, to the Democrat-controlled inner cities, to Social Security and Medicare, where payroll taxes on the working poor are literally transferred to middle class and rich retirees.

Two-thirds of federal tax money is redistributed, and most of that money is redistributed to the middle class, upper middle class, and rich. Something is tragically wrong with the system today, and it’s surprising that liberals don’t recognize it and work to reform it.

Many people have a welfare horror story – where they see welfare money going to people who don’t need it, whether it be SSI, SSDI, unemployment compensation, or Section 8 housing. Regarding the latter, a real tragedy is where immigrant retirees are living with their upper-middle-class children, and find that they’re eligible for Section 8 housing and other welfare programs. They crowd the Section 8 housing waiting lists, the lists close to new applicants, and the ones left out in the cold are the real poor, who often have to live on the streets. It’s one of the many examples of the tragedy of American liberalism.

Top 1 Percent Demonization, and Nobel Prize Devaluation

For an account of one of the most clear-cut cases of demagoguery in recent times, click here.  The demagogue scapegoats and demonizes a group of people without providing any evidence whatsoever. He doesn’t just say that what they’re doing is resulting in bad things (which isn’t happening). He indicates that they fully intend to do the bad things. Tragically, the demagogue is a Nobel Prize recipient – named Joseph Stiglitz.

That tells you something about the caliber of certain Nobel Prize recipients these days. In other words, when you hear that someone is a Nobel Prize recipient, don’t ooh and ahh. Instead, say, “yea, so?”