i-2f8ea02963d183012afec036ef3f7d7d-discostyle.jpgSo remember how I posted a thing about how “critical analysis” is just another Marxist/postmodernist catchphrase adopted by fundamentalists to advance their religious/political agenda? I thought it was interesting, but relatively uncontroversial.

Rob Crowther, Disco. ‘Tute’s scribe in residence, objects not because of the basic thesis of the piece, but because I didn’t clearly indicate that Crowther thinks Camille Paglia is a creationist. That, at least, is what I take him to mean by saying I “impl[ied] the exact opposite” of this:

Camille Paglia has made interesting comments about global warming in the past that have made me think she might be a (very quiet) Darwin skeptic.

Of course, the most interesting thing about that is the bald assumption that Paglia’s global warming denial would be evidence ipso facto of her anti-evolutionism. Crowther threw a small fit last March when the New York Times reported on the growing nexus of global warming denial and creationism. But now he just blithely accepts the linkage as logical and necessary.

From there, Crowther vaguely indicates that he finds some problem with the notion that ID is an exercise in postmodern fundamentalism. He doesn’t indicate why, and requotes, without objection, the passage by Paglia that makes the linkage of “critical analysis” to Marxist theory and postmodernism explicit.

Then he quotes what Paglia said next. Those paragraphs weren’t germane to my point, so I didn’t quote them originally (which Crowther sees as evidence of sinister motives). “[T]he answer is always more facts, more basic information,” Paglia insists. As an example of how people don’t know important facts, she offers (and Crowther selects as his title): “people don’t know polar bears can swim!” This, we’re led to assume, means that polar bears aren’t drowning because of anthropogenic global warming, and therefore humans aren’t causing climate change. Logic is not her strong suit.

I didn’t quote that part because it didn’t bear on my immediate point, and because Paglia’s ill-formed opinions about whether polar bears are really threatened by melting sea ice have already been adequately addressed by others. Eric Martin took a stab at explaining the problems here. He starts by noting that polar bear drownings are, in fact, on the rise (h/t Deltoid), adds:

This is, as it were, pretty basic information. Aside from the information being readily available, conceptually Paglia’s argument is seriously misguided at the very least. There are plenty of animals that can swim that can also drown. Take, for example, human beings.

Yeah, that’s one of the problems.

One could also note that whether an idea causes “anxiety” in students is not exactly a reason not to teach it. Global warming is a big problem, and a legitimate source of concern. Factories and other human activities are causing it. One of the ways we know that is observing that carbon dioxide played an important role past instances of climate change, and that factories and other human activities are pumping out unprecedented amounts of this and other potent greenhouse gases. These, to put a finer point on it, are facts, basic information, that Paglia should have had before spouting off, and that Crowther would have told his readers if he cared about his readers, or science education, or the truth.


  1. #1 Marion Delgado
    May 12, 2010

    Crowther is trying to make me look bad by being an infinitely stupider idiot than Paglia, but it won’t work, because I’m going to go get some ice cream! So there.

    Paglia’s big sin in my book was when she and Bill Maher both said they were Libertarians, but neither would give the old party a goose by signing up and running for something. They always seem to run either insurance salesmen or realtors for all offices.

  2. #2 Lev Bronstein
    May 13, 2010

    Paglia is a has been. Who cares?

  3. #3 Channoff
    May 13, 2010

    Um, polar bears aren’t drowning because of climate change. They are drowning due to overpopulation and lack of food which pushes them to swim much much farther than they had to when populations were smaller.

  4. #4 Albatrossity
    May 13, 2010

    Hilarious! Crowther apparently can’t remember his umbrage where he denied any linkage between the two great denialist systems today. And now he thinks that climate change denial is a hint that someone might be a creationist…
    Every day is like starting over with these bozos!

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