I must be psychic

When Kurt Lambeck criticized Ian Plimer on Ockhams Razor, he gaves specific examples of Plimer’s errros of omission and commission. I gazed into my crystal ball and wrote:

I predict that Plimer will respond to this by denying that his science has been criticised, claiming that Lambeck’s criticism was merely an ad hominem attack, and by making personal attacks on Lambeck.

Yesterday on Ockham’s Razor we had Professor Ian Plimer replies to his critics:

Polemical criticism of my book Heaven and Earth has been savage because there are a large number of career climate comrades who frighten us witless about climate change and who would be unemployable outside taxpayer-funded climate institutes. …

From my experience of challenging creationism, I argue that the global warming movement is an ascientific urban religious fundamentalist movement detached from the environment. …

They anonymously criticise my book Heaven and Earth, but have not read it. …

The most dangerous aspect of this new fundamentalist religion is that it ignores history and has hints of totalitarianism.

Take that, Professor Comrade High Priest Anonymous Lambeck!

Plimer finishes with seven questions that he reckons the anonymous commie priests can’t answer. I know Plimer isn’t big on answering questions, but I thought I’d have a go at answering his.

What is the right temperature for the Earth?

Unless you are a dinosaur or something, it’s the temperature we had when we built our current civilization.

What is the right carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere?

Unless you are a dinosaur or something, it’s the concentration we had when we built our current civilization.

How should enormous economic pain be imposed?

I think we should avoid the enormous economic pain that significant global warming will cause by mitigating emissions.

Why is carbon dioxide increasing, yet temperature is decreasing?

Temperature isn’t decreasing.

Why have climate models not been run backwards to replicate all we know?

They have.

Why have major Earth processes been omitted from models?

They haven’t been.

Why is scientific dissent demonised?

It isn’t.

That wasn’t hard at all!


  1. #1 Vince Whirlwind
    October 26, 2009

    Fran, your characterisation of the “Western assault on Indochina” is political and wrong.
    Indochina had the misfortune of being a battleground in the war between the West and Communism, during a period of decolonisation.
    The atrocities committed by Communists easily matched those committed by the West, just as the atrocities committed by the Communists in Eastern Europe far exceeded those committed by the Nazis even.
    There is a tendency among educators in this country to hold a revisionist understanding of communism – please add “Darkness at Noon” to your reading list ASAP so you can remember the tremendous evil, stupidity and hypocrisy of the communists.

  2. #2 Fran Barlow
    October 26, 2009

    Vince Whirlwind said:

    The atrocities committed by Communists easily matched those committed by the West, just as the atrocities committed by the Communists in Eastern Europe far exceeded those committed by the Nazis even.

    It’s every bit as unacceptable to make unsubstantiated claims about history as it is to make them about the science of climate change.

    The systematic and ubiquitous brutality of the Western assualt on Indochina utterly dwarfed anything the Vietminh/NVA were capable of managing, so between 1954 and 1975 in Indochina, your claim is palpably absurd. In Cambodia 1975-79 you would be on strong ground, as I implied above.

  3. #3 luminous beauty
    October 26, 2009


    >If you want to know why Cambodia is important to me, it isn’t hard to find out.

  4. #4 Fran Barlow
    October 26, 2009

    And as to Easter Europe post 1945, again, the comparison is absurd.

    Yes the Warsaw Pact states weren’t known for greater solicitude towards individual human rights than the pre-war regimes they replaced, but their malign influence was on nothing like the scale of the Nazis.

  5. #5 luminous beauty
    October 26, 2009

    Re: 103

    Like all good things, empathy, when taken to extremes, becomes pathologically perverted. It seems to me, Bruce, your considerable intellect is worthy of much more important things than (wrongly, IMHO) painting Chomsky as an incorrigible black and white apologist for the Khmer Rouge, or communism in general, when his view is, prima facie, more subtly nuanced that that.

  6. #6 Bruce Sharp
    October 26, 2009

    Luminous Beauty, if you think I’m painting Chomsky as “an incorrigible black and white apologist for the Khmer Rouge,” then either you did not read what I wrote, or I’m a profoundly bad writer.

    Admittedly, I linked to several different articles, and some of them are long, so I understand if you’d rather not read them. If you didn’t read them, however, you shouldn’t assume that you know my opinions.


  7. #7 luminous beauty
    October 26, 2009


    Then what are you trying to say, that Chomsky isn’t plainly an ‘advocate’, in your words, ‘apologist’ in mine, for the Pol Pot regime? What instead?

    Rather than being long-winded and vague, you might work on being clear and precise.

  8. #8 Mark
    October 27, 2009

    > The systematic and ubiquitous brutality of the Western assualt on Indochina utterly

    Mind you you also have the atrocities of Japan against China before WW2.

    It’s just all you humans are inhumane…

  9. #9 Bruce Sharp
    October 27, 2009

    Luminous Beauty, I’ll confess to being long-winded. But vague? I don’t think so.

    You remarked previously that Chomsky’s view is “subtly nuanced.” Now, you’re attempting to reduce my view to one word.

    Advocate? Apologist? I’ll pass. If you want a one-word summary, you’ll have to provide your own.

    My opinions were expressed as briefly as possible in #98: his writing on Cambodia was horribly misleading, and he responds to his critics by impugning their motives.

    At [Crooked Timber, Daniel Davies has a nice post on contrarianism](http://crookedtimber.org/2009/10/22/rules-for-contrarians-1-dont-whine-that-is-all/#more-13454), inspired by Levitt and Dubner’s Superfreakonomics nonsense. Davies writes:

    Okay, point two. The other point of contrarianism is that, if it’s well done, you assemble a whole load of points which are individually uncontroversial (or at least, solidly substantiated) and put them together to support a conclusion which is surprising and counterintuitive. In other words, the aim of the thing is the overall impression you give. Because of this, if you’re writing a contrarian piece properly, you ought to be well aware of what point it looks like you’re making, because the entire point is to make a defensible argument which strongly resembles a controversial one.

    So having done this intentionally, you don’t get to complain that people have “misinterpreted” your piece by taking you to be saying exactly what you carefully constructed the argument to look like you were saying. Fair enough, you might not care to defend the controversial point it looked like you were making, but a degree of diffidence is appropriate here, because the confusion is entirely and intentionally your fault.

    Whatever your reaction to Levitt and Dubner’s writing on climate, I would suggest that the same reaction is appropriate with respect to Chomsky’s writing on Cambodia.

  10. #10 luminous beauty
    October 27, 2009


    I think you’re doing much the same thing with Chomsky and Herman as L & D are doing with climate. Much of your thesis against Chomsky is that Chomsky is guilty of propaganda. But one is guilty of propaganda the moment one commits one’s ideas to print. For you, for me, for anybody.

    Chomsky and Herman’s central thesis is that the US press celebrated the brutality of the Khmer Rouge in order to obfuscate and obscure the brutality of the US role in manufacturing and exacerbating that situation. This was true then and has continued to be the false narrative promulgated in the press that we’re the Good Guys, fighting for Democracy, Motherhood and Apple Pie, in Southeast Asia, in Central America, in Yugoslavia, in Iraq and now in Afghanistan against whatever convenient villians can be demonized, when it is really a cynical and brutal drive to establish and maintain economic and military hegemony by corporate elites over the natural desire of ordinary people to have some autonomous and democratic decision-making power within the living fabric of their existence, both inside and outside of the US.

    Your strained insistence that Chomsky mis-represented the Cambodian tragedy, which, if he did, and I don’t really believe that is the case, is but a peripheral distraction from that more important question. A red herring. As such, you serve our corporate masters well.

  11. #11 Bruce Sharp
    October 27, 2009

    Luminous Beauty,

    I did not write a “thesis against Chomsky.” I wrote about his comments on the subject of Cambodia.

    The validity of Chomsky’s propaganda theory may be the “more important question” to you, but it isn’t to me. I’m not searching for a “one size fits all” explanation for history. I simply believe that it’s important to be accurate in the portrayal of historical events.

    The idea that “one is guilty of propaganda the moment one commits one’s ideas to print” is a dodge. It’s a variation of the “Clinton did it, too!” argument. It’s an attempt to define “propaganda” so broadly as to make the term meaningless.

    If you think that Chomsky’s work — in particular, After the Cataclysm — accurately reflects what happened in Cambodia, then we will continue to disagree. If you want to attribute that disagreement to my desire to “serve our corporate masters,” then I can’t imagine that anything I would say would change your mind on either point.


  12. #12 luminous beauty
    October 27, 2009

    Once again,

    “After The Cataclysm” does not question the reality of what happened in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, neither sugar coating the numerous atrocities nor exaggerating their small accomplishments in feeding their population in the face of both self-inflicted and externally enforced isolation, but emphasizes distortions and omissions in the popular US press.

    >We do not pretend to know where the truth lies amidst these sharply conflicting assessments; rather, we again want to emphasize some crucial points. What filters through to the American public is a seriously distorted version of the evidence available, emphasizing alleged Khmer Rouge atrocities and downplaying or ignoring the crucial U.S. role, direct and indirect, in the torment that Cambodia has suffered. Evidence that focuses on the American role, like the Hildebrand and Porter volume, is ignored, not on the basis of truthfulness or scholarship but because the message is unpalatable.

    Distortions of the Fourth Hand, Noam Chomsky & Edward S. Herman

    The ambiguous truths of the Khmer Rouge regime may be better known now but these and equivalent distortions in the US media persist. Just look at the media going to bat for the grotesque journalistic absurdity that is Fox News Corporation.

    You are arguing against a strawman.

    I don’t say you are desirous of serving corporate interests, only that your misplaced rage serves their purpose. Propaganda is merely the propagation of ideas. Whether those ideas are accurate or not is what is meaningful. Your assessment of what C & H are saying is a distortion, as is your putative compassion for road-kill a useful mask of your relentless hatred of Pol Pot, and by extension Noam Chomsky.

    >He beat me, he robbed me, he subdued me. In those who harbor such thoughts, hatred is not stilled.

    >He beat me he robbed me, he subdued me. In those who do not harbour such thought, hatred is stilled.

    >Hatred has never in the history of the world brought an end to hatred. Only non-hatred can bring an end to hatred. This is the eternal law.

    >The contenders do not realize that one day we all must die, but those who realize this resolve their quarrels.

    _Dhammapada_ [III – VI]

    Cambodia has moved on. Why can’t you?

  13. #13 Bruce Sharp
    October 27, 2009

    Luminous Beauty, since this has nothing to do with Ian Plimer or global warming, I’ve posted my reply to [Open Thread 34](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/10/open_thread_34.php#comment-2028020).