Core: noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the Latin cor, meaning heart.

The View from the Core by E. L. Core
America's Small Town Webzine

 Volume 1.19 Front Page June 17, 2002 


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The View’s Featured Webpages
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Down to Columns Classic

Columns, essays, and news articles (new at top)

Silent Spring at 40: Rachel Carson’s classic is not aging well. (06/12/02) new
By Ronald Bailey at Reason Online
“So 40 years after the publication of Silent Spring, the legacy of Rachel Carson is more troubling than her admirers will acknowledge. The book did point to problems that had not been adequately addressed, such as the effects of DDT on some wildlife. And given the state of the science at the time she wrote, one might even make the case that Carson’s concerns about the effects of synthetic chemicals on human health were not completely unwarranted. Along with other researchers, she was simply ignorant of the facts. But after four decades in which tens of billions of dollars have been wasted chasing imaginary risks without measurably improving American health, her intellectual descendants don’t have the same excuse.”

Federal Judge Throws Out Charge in Shoe Bomb Case (06/11/02) new
By The Associated Press at FOXNews
“A judge threw out one of nine charges Tuesday against a man accused of trying to blow up a jetliner with explosives in his shoes, ruling that an airplane is not a vehicle under a new anti-terrorism law. The charge — attempting to wreck a mass transportation vehicle — was filed under the USA Patriot Act, which was passed by Congress after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. U.S. District Judge William Young said that although an airplane was engaged in mass transportation it is not a vehicle as defined by the new law.”

Dispatcher Says She Was Told Not to Report Shoe-Bomb Incident (06/13/02) new
In The New York Times by Matthew L. Wald
“The American Airlines dispatcher who was monitoring a trans-Atlantic flight when the captain reported that a passenger had a shoe bomb said today that her supervisor tried to prevent her from notifying the authorities. The supervisor worried that law enforcement officials would delay the plane on the ground, the dispatcher said. In a complaint filed with the Federal Aviation Administration, the dispatcher said her supervisor ‘instructed me to hold off informing the authorities because the flight would be remotely parked, and “it would be forever before we could get the plane out of there.”’”

Shoe-bomb flight conduct criticized (06/13/02) new
In The Dallas Morning News by Jim Morris
“The American Airlines dispatcher who helped guide the flight carrying a suspected shoe-bomber to a safe landing in December alleged in a whistle-blower complaint Wednesday that airline supervisors interfered with her during the incident and threatened her afterward. In a complaint filed with the director of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Whistleblower Protection Program, Julie Robichaux, a 12-year American employee, said she was subjected to ‘intimidation, threats and disciplinary action’ after criticizing the airline’s handling of Flight 63 on Dec. 22.”

Post-Sept. 11 “Backlash” Proves Difficult to Quantify (06/12/02) new
In The New Jersey Law Journal by Jim Edwards
“With five lawsuits filed in three states last week by the American Civil Liberties Union, all alleging racial profiling of Arabs and Asians on airplanes, Americans could be forgiven for thinking that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had turned the country into a nation of vigilantes and bigots. But 10 months after the events, the official numbers tell a less alarming story. While there certainly was a hike in such bias claims since September, it’s hard to say that the increase was serious or even statistically significant.”

Much of Sept. 11 Charity Remains to Be Disbursed (06/11/02) new
In The Washington Post by Lena H. Sun, Sarah Cohen and Jacqueline L. Salmon
“Of the $2.3 billion raised by the largest charities in the nine months since the terrorist attacks, 29 cents of each dollar has gone to the survivors of those killed. A survey by The Washington Post of the major charities, which raised virtually all of the funds that flowed in after Sept. 11, found that roughly 20 cents of each dollar has gone to displaced workers and others affected by the attacks and an additional 40 cents has yet to be distributed. Several charities reported that money continues to come in — in one case an average of $21,500 a day — even though the organizations have long since ended their appeals for donations.”

The State of the Special Relationship (June 2002) new
By Robin Harris in Policy Review
“If America’s European allies only France and Britain possessed a significant capacity to assist in the war on terrorism, and only Britain had the will. A British task force was accordingly deployed in the Gulf; British submarines fired Tomahawks against Taliban targets on two occasions. Within Afghanistan, members of Britain’s SAS regiment — without doubt the most skilled special service forces in the world — performed taxing and dangerous tasks with great success, notably in attacking the al Qaeda training camp outside Kandahar and in hand-to-hand fighting in the Tora Bora region. British forces are still involved in mopping-up operations against the enemy. The pity is that from first to last these exploits have mattered little in the overall outcome. This has been America’s war, and the U.S. has fought it according to its own battle plan and almost entirely with its own resources.”

Climate Changing, U.S. Says in Report (06/03/02)
In The New York Times by Andrew C. Revkin
“In a stark shift for the Bush administration, the United States has sent a climate report to the United Nations detailing specific and far-reaching effects that it says global warming will inflict on the American environment. In the report, the administration for the first time mostly blames human actions for recent global warming. It says the main culprit is the burning of fossil fuels that send heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

White House defends U-turn on global warming (06/04/02)
In The Washington Times by George Archibald
“The White House yesterday defended the about-face on global warming contained in its report to the United Nations on climate change. The report marked the first Bush administration agreement with environmental activists that recent global warming is caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from human use of fossil fuels.... White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday defended the report, issued Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency, by pointing to its language reiterating the administration’s stance that, Mr. McClellan said, there remains ‘considerable uncertainty in current understanding of how climate varies naturally.’ The administration says such uncertainty backs its opposition to the Kyoto treaty’s goal of cutting U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 7 percent from their 1990 levels between 2008 to 2012.”

Bush burned by climate report (06/08/02)
By Henry Lamb at WorldNetDaily
“Despite a flurry of media reports to the contrary, the Bush administration’s policy on climate change has not flip-flopped. The media frenzy followed the release of a U.S. Climate Assessment Report prepared for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.... Most of the individuals who prepared the report are holdovers from the Clinton-Gore era, who are known proponents of the global-warming theory. It is also widely known that some of Bush’s high-level appointments are also proponents of the theory, even though Bush, himself, has expressed strong reservations. Release of the report was not intended to be an announcement of a change in policy — it was simply compliance with treaty requirements.”

Don’t tell Dubya (06/09/02)
By Robert Novak in The Chicago Sun-Times
“The Environmental Protection Agency report warning of global warming dangers was issued without President Bush’s being informed in advance, even though it seemed to contradict his long-held position. That’s why Bush dismissed what the EPA did as a ‘report put out by the bureaucracy.’ The president did not mention EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey who has frequently clashed with the White House.”

C.I.A. Was Tracking Hijacker Months Earlier Than It Had Said (06/03/02)
In The New York Times by David Johnston and Elizabeth Becker
“The officials said the C.I.A. learned in early 2001 that Khalid al-Midhar, who died in the attack on the Pentagon, was linked to a suspect in the bombing of the Navy destroyer Cole in October 2000. The agency had said previously that it did not learn of Mr. Midhar’s connections to Al Qaeda or his multiple visits to the United States until the month before the hijackings, when an increase in ‘chatter’ about terrorist threats prompted a review of the C.I.A.’s terrorism files.”

Face to Face With a Terrorist: Government Worker Recalls Mohamed Atta Seeking Funds Before Sept. 11 (06/06/02)
By Brian Ross at ABC News
“Four of the hijackers who attacked America on Sept. 11 tried to get government loans to finance their plots, including ringleader Mohamed Atta, who sought $650,000 to modify a crop-duster, a government loan officer [Johnelle Bryant] told ABCNEWS.... Atta also expressed an interest in visiting New York, specifically the World Trade Center, and asked Bryant about security there. He inquired about other American cities, including Phoenix, Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago. Prompted by a souvenir she had on her desk, he also expressed interest in the Dallas Cowboys’ football stadium, mentioning that the team was ‘America’s team’ and the stadium had a ‘hole in the roof.’”

The Other Shoe: Obsessing over Sept. 11 distracts us from preventing the next attack. (06/07/02)
By Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal
“At the same time the institutions that keep us up and humming, or at least help keep us mutually invested in and respectful of each other and our way of life, continue to wobble and groan from the weight of their misconduct. The American Catholic Church is a victim of self-inflicted wounds, its corruptions as towering as its cathedrals. Big business — Enronned. Wall Street — stock tipped, finagled and fooled by a bubble. Big accounting, by which we judge how our business investments are doing, is a joke. The FBI and the CIA are more joke fodder. Our serious journalists are focused on today’s testimony, tonight’s game and the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries. The others do shark attacks and entertainment awards. Our intellectuals are off on various toots, most of them either irrelevant — the latest edition of the New York Review of Books leads with stories on David Brock, Clarence Thomas, Sexy Puritans, Peggy Guggenheim and Noel Coward — or all too relevant and wrong.”

Wartime Distractions (06/04/02)
By John Podhoretz in The New York Post
“The war did not end with the regime change in Afghanistan. Nor did it end with the removal of the last girder from Ground Zero. It’s still ongoing. The CIA-FBI-Congress-media frenzy is the way the Washington game was played before the war on terrorism. For a while, it seemed that game had at last been retired in the wake of Sept. 11. It should have been. But you could sense a kind of perverse relief on the part of the media and governmental Establishment that the old game could still be played.”

A Few Very Good Men: Priest Recruiter Bill Parent Is Looking for Those Who Have Seen the Light (06/09/02)
In The Washington Post by Phil McCombs
“What’s most surprising, in talking with the seminarians and young priests and new deacons-at the reception and later by phone-is that, far from being discouraged by the scandals that have rocked the church, they seem filled with new fervor, as McCarrick indicated. These are hard-charging guys-tough, determined, full of life and good humor, a palpable sense of joy. Most come from solid Catholic homes, had careers before they went to seminary, and wanted success, cars, romance-all the stuff of modern life. But something kept nagging, and although they ran and hid and wrestled with demons and angels they knew deep down what it was.”

Celibate and Loving It: For Many Priests, True Happiness Lies in The Joining of Self and Church (06/06/02)
In The Washington Post by a Staff Writer
“Part of the point of celibacy, for Catholics, is to confront people with something bigger than biology, society, music, dancing, writing, painting, advertising. And sex. Celibates also turn around the supposition this life is a heroic renunciation. They say celibacy is not No. It is Yes. Maybe. Anyway, it's not just a Catholic thing.”

The Body of Christ and the spring meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops (06/09/02)
By Francis Cardinal George, OMI, in The Catholic New World
“A crisis of authority in the Church cannot be resolved if bishops don’t act like bishops. A bishop has responsibility before Christ for keeping people united to Christ. A bishop therefore sets boundaries, in the matter of sexual misconduct or any other matter; but, more fundamentally, he encourages people to live virtuously in Christ. When people are “in Christ” and not full of themselves and their own lives, they are the Church. Since the bishop is the visible point of reference for union with Christ, people divorced from their bishop are not part of the apostolic Church. Hence the terrible trial for the Church when priests and people and bishops are not together in purpose and in life.”

The Bishops and the Vatican (06/10/02)
By Avery Cardinal Dulles in The New York Times
“The bishops are understandably concerned to show that they are taking bold and decisive measures. But they should take care not to lock the church into positions that will later prove to be unwise. If they yield too much to the present atmosphere of panic, the Holy See can be relied upon to safeguard the theological and canonical tradition. The many levels of authority in the church are a precious resource.”

Tearful FBI Agent Apologizes To Sept. 11 Families and Victims (05/30/02)
At Cybercast News Service by Jeff Johnson
“In a memorandum written 91 days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, an FBI agent warned that Americans would die as a result of the bureau’s failure to adequately pursue investigations of terrorists living in the country. FBI Special Agent Robert Wright, Jr., who wrote the memo, led a four-year investigation into terrorist money laundering in the United States. Wright began crying as he concluded his remarks at a Washington press conference Thursday.”

FBI admits bureau missed clues of Sept. 11 attacks (05/30/02)
In The Oklahoman by Ted Bridis of Associated Press
“FBI Director Robert Mueller said Wednesday there may have been more missed clues before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He also suggested for the first time that investigators might have uncovered the plot if they had been more diligent about pursuing leads. ‘The jury is still out on all of it,’ Mueller said, during a wideranging, two-hour presentation at FBI headquarters. ‘Looking at it right now, I can’t say for sure it would not have, that there wasn’t a possibility that we could have come across some lead that would have led us to the hijackers.’”

Stop frisking crippled nuns (06/01/02)
By Mark Steyn in The Spectator
“So you’re at Newark standing in line behind a young Saudi male and an 87-year-old arthritic nun from Des Moines. Who’ll be asked to remove his or her shoes? Six out of ten times, it’ll be the nun. Three out of ten times, you. One out of ten, Abdumb al-Dumber. Even if this is just for show, what it’s showing is profound official faintheartedness.”

Liberal Reality Check (05/31/02)
By Nicholas D. Kristof in The New York Times
“One reason aggressive agents were restrained as they tried to go after Zacarias Moussaoui is that liberals like myself — and the news media caldron in which I toil and trouble — have regularly excoriated law enforcement authorities for taking shortcuts and engaging in racial profiling. As long as we’re pointing fingers, we should peer into the mirror. The timidity of bureau headquarters is indefensible. But it reflected not just myopic careerism but also an environment (that we who care about civil liberties helped create) in which officials were afraid of being assailed as insensitive storm troopers.”

In the mind of a would-be suicide bomber (05/30/02)
In The Jerusalem Post by David Rudge
“Underlying it all, however, were the teachings which preach the need for jihad to ‘create a just and equal, non-corrupt and non-criminal society by the spread and unification of Islam.’ .... ‘I also began to imagine the people I would be killing, whether they would be women and children, families sitting down at a cafe. I became a bit disillusioned, because I had been told to blow myself up in any event,’ she said. ‘This meant to me that what was important for them was to succeed in perpetrating an attack, whether there were casualties or not, and then they would be able to pat themselves on the back. I felt like they were playing a game with the blood of the martyrs.’”

Shin Bet, IDF nab reluctant female suicide bombers (05/30/02)
In Ha’aretz by Staff
“25-year-old Tanzim activist from Jaba in the northern West Bank was planning to carry out a suicide strike in Jerusalem. Hamamra told reporters she had decided to go ahead with the attack for ‘personal reasons’ but wouldn’t give further details.... She said after she had completed the training, she had a change of heart and decided not to go through with the plan. She said: ‘I began to think about killing people — babies, women, sick people, and to imagine my family sitting in a restaurant and someone coming in and blowing them up.’ Hamamra said she feared ‘God would not see it as a good reason for committing suicide and therefore would not accept me as a shaheed.’”

My fellow Muslims, we must fight anti-Semitism (05/26/02)
In Ha’aretz by Joseph Algazy
“Ramadan, 39, is not only an outstanding Muslim intellectual but also the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hassan Al-Bana, who was murdered in his own country in 1949. He firmly condemns the anti-Semitic incidents that took place during the past year in France, Belgium and other European countries, such as attacks on synagogues and Jewish institutions. ‘Too few Muslims have spoken out against these anti-Semitic and Judeophobic phenomena,’ he says. In his opinion, any attempt to afford legitimization to anti-Semitism on the basis of texts taken from the Islamic tradition, and as an expression of protest against the suffering of the Palestinians, must be firmly rejected.”

The Elderly Man and the Sea? Test Sanitizes Literary Texts (05/02/02)
In The New York Times by N. R. Kleinfield
“In a feat of literary sleuth work, Ms. Heifetz, the mother of a high school senior and a weaver from Brooklyn, inspected 10 high school English exams from the past three years and discovered that the vast majority of the passages — drawn from the works of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Anton Chekhov and William Maxwell, among others — had been sanitized of virtually any reference to race, religion, ethnicity, sex, nudity, alcohol, even the mildest profanity and just about anything that might offend someone for some reason. Students had to write essays and answer questions based on these doctored versions — versions that were clearly marked as the work of the widely known authors.”

Political Diversity Lacking in Many UNC-CH Departments (May 2002)
In Carolina Journal by Jon Sanders
“A survey of faculty members in nine departments at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found that more than four-fifths are registered Democrats. The results of the survey, conducted by the conservative student magazine Carolina Review for its March issue, called into question UNC-CH’s devotion to diversity. The results were not unique; in 1996, The Daily Tar Heel examined eight departments and found a similar disparity: 91 percent of professors who were registered with a major political party were Democrats, while 9 percent were registered Republicans.”

The unhyphenating of America: Census finds fewer citing European roots (05/31/02)
In The Boston Globe by Cindy Rodriquez and Bill Dedman
“Four centuries after the Pilgrims reached Plymouth Rock, European-Americans are cutting their ancestral roots. In the last decade, the number of Americans who said they were English, Irish, or from another European derivation dropped by at least 32 million, according to new Census 2000 data. Six million more people than 10 years ago, about 20 million, listed their ancestry as “American” or “USA.” And millions more left it blank.”

UN Misses the Forest for the Trees (05/22/02)
By Alex A. Avery of Hudson Institute
“We suggest that the United Nations work to accelerate market reforms, property rights protections, and the rule of law so that people in developing nations can increase their standards of living. Moreover, the UN should work much harder than it has in the past to increase the productivity of farmers in developing countries.... It is just too bad that Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the World Wildlife Fund, and the other groups that are supposedly concerned about biodiversity continue to be distracted by fights over fertilizers, pesticides, and biotechnology as the forest burns around them.”

Weakland apologizes for his “sinfulness” (05/31/02)
In The Journal-Sentinel by Staff
“Former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland apologized to his parishioners tonight for the ‘scandal that has occurred because of my sinfulness,’ saying he felt ‘remorse, shame, contrition and emptiness’ over a relationship he had 20 years ago with a man and the archdiocese’s subsequent $450,000 payment to silence him. Weakland also revealed that, contrary to earlier statements, his income from honoria and writing projects over his 25 years as archbishop did not cover the amount of the settlement. ‘In my remaining years, I will continue to contribute to the archdiocese whatever I can,’ he said, ‘and, of course, the archdiocese will receive whatever effects I own on my death.’”

Text: Weakland’s apology (05/31/02)
In The Journal-Sentinel
“I come before you today to apologize and beg forgiveness. I know — and I am sure you do too — that the Church to be authentic must be a community that heals. But I also know — and you do too — that there is no healing unless it is based on truth. In my remarks I will do my best. I apologize to all the faithful of this Archdiocese which I love so much, to all its people and clergy, for the scandal that has occurred because of my sinfulness. Long ago, I placed that sinfulness in God’s loving and forgiving heart, but now and into the future I worry about those whose faith may be shaken by my acts.”

Occasionally, some links are moved from this section into the Featured Webpages Trove.

Classic articles that are, or should be, famous (new at top)

Advice to Graduates About Advice (06/06/1971) new
By Edward C. Banfield at Claremont McKenna College
“Figures of speech, especially metaphors, are peculiarly serviceable to people who give advice about social problems. The use of them tends to create an emotional response in the listener that enhances the urgency of the ‘problem’ thus raising the value of the putative ‘solution’ that the advice-giver offers. I sometimes wonder if we could have an ‘urban crisis’ without a good supply of metaphors. Suppose that a writer could not speak of ‘decaying neighborhoods’ but instead had to say what he meant straight out — say that the well-off have moved away from aging unfashionable neighborhoods, that this has given the less well-off opportunities to move into housing better than they formerly had, and that they, for obvious reasons, are in most instances disposed to spend less on the repair and maintenance of houses than the former occupiers were. Or suppose that a United States Senator instead of saying, as one recently did, that ‘the cities are mortally sick and getting sicker’ and that the ‘states are in a state of chronic crisis’ had to speak plainly — in this instance, perhaps, to say that although in the last decade the cities and states have increased their revenues by a factor of three, there are nevertheless many voters who would like to have more spent, provided of course that the taxes are paid mainly by others.”

The End of History? (Summer 1989)
By Francis Fukuyama in The National Interest
“The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism. In the past decade, there have been unmistakable changes in the intellectual climate of the world’s two largest communist countries, and the beginnings of significant reform movements in both. But this phenomenon extends beyond high politics and it can be seen also in the ineluctable spread of consumerist Western culture in such diverse contexts as the peasants’ markets and color television sets now omnipresent throughout China, the cooperative restaurants and clothing stores opened in the past year in Moscow, the Beethoven piped into Japanese department stores, and the rock music enjoyed alike in Prague, Rangoon, and Tehran. What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government. This is not to say that there will no longer be events to fill the pages of Foreign Affairs’s yearly summaries of international relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete in the real or material world. But there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run.”

An Explosion of Green (Apr. 1995)
By Bill McKibben in The Atlantic
“In the early nineteenth century the cleric Timothy Dwight reported that the 240-mile journey from Boston to New York City passed through no more than twenty miles of forest. Surveying the changes wrought by farmers and loggers in New Hampshire, he wrote, ‘The forests are not only cut down, but there appears little reason to hope that they will ever grow again.’ Less than two centuries later, despite great increases in the state’s population, 90 percent of New Hampshire is covered by forest. Vermont was 35 percent woods in 1850 and is 80 percent today, and even Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have seen woodlands rebound to the point where they cover nearly three fifths of southern New England. This process, which began as farmers abandoned the cold and rocky pastures of the East for the fertile fields of the Midwest, has not yet run its course.... This unintentional and mostly unnoticed renewal of the rural and mountainous East — not the spotted owl, not the salvation of Alaska’s pristine ranges — represents the great environmental story of the United States, and in some ways of the whole world. Here, where ‘suburb’ and ‘megalopolis’ were added to the world’s vocabulary, an explosion of green is under way, one that could offer hope to much of the rest of the planet.”

The Doomslayer (Feb. 1997)
By Ed Regis in Wired
“The world is getting progressively poorer, and it’s all because of population, or more precisely, overpopulation. There’s a finite store of resources on our pale blue dot, spaceship Earth, our small and fragile tiny planet, and we’re fast approaching its ultimate carrying capacity. The limits to growth are finally upon us, and we’re living on borrowed time. The laws of population growth are inexorable. Unless we act decisively, the final result is written in stone: mass poverty, famine, starvation, and death. Time is short, and we have to act now. That’s the standard and canonical litany.... There’s just one problem with The Litany, just one slight little wee imperfection: every item in that dim and dreary recitation, each and every last claim, is false.... Thus saith The Doomslayer, one Julian L. Simon, a neither shy nor retiring nor particularly mild-mannered professor of business administration at a middling eastern-seaboard state university. Simon paints a somewhat different picture of the human condition circa 1997. ‘Our species is better off in just about every measurable material way,’ he says. ‘Just about every important long-run measure of human material welfare shows improvement over the decades and centuries, in the United States and the rest of the world. Raw materials — all of them — have become less scarce rather than more. The air in the US and in other rich countries is irrefutably safer to breathe. Water cleanliness has improved. The environment is increasingly healthy, with every prospect that this trend will continue.’”

A brilliant parody:

Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity (Spring/Summer 1996)
By Alan Sokal in Social Text
“There are many natural scientists, and especially physicists, who continue to reject the notion that the disciplines concerned with social and cultural criticism can have anything to contribute, except perhaps peripherally, to their research. Still less are they receptive to the idea that the very foundations of their worldview must be revised or rebuilt in the light of such criticism. Rather, they cling to the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook, which can be summarized briefly as follows: that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are encoded in ‘eternal’ physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the ‘objective’ procedures and epistemological strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.”

... and, in explanation, ...

A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies (May/June 1996)
By Alan Sokal in Lingua Franca
“For some years I’ve been troubled by an apparent decline in the standards of rigor in certain precincts of the academic humanities. But I’m a mere physicist: If I find myself unable to make heads or tails of jouissance and differance, perhaps that just reflects my own inadequacy. So, to test the prevailing intellectual standards, I decided to try a modest (though admittedly uncontrolled) experiment: Would a leading North American journal of cultural studies — whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross — publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.... What’s going on here? Could the editors really not have realized that my article was written as a parody?”

Networks Need a Reality Check: A firsthand account of liberal bias at CBS News. (02/13/1996)
By Bernard Goldbert in The Wall Street Journal
“There are lots of reasons fewer people are watching network news, and one of them, I’m more convinced than ever, is that our viewers simply don’t trust us. And for good reason. The old argument that the networks and other ‘media elites’ have a liberal bias is so blatantly true that it’s hardly worth discussing anymore. No, we don’t sit around in dark corners and plan strategies on how we’re going to slant the news. We don’t have to. It comes naturally to most reporters.”

There is No Time, There Will Be Time (11/18/1998)
By Peggy Noonan in Forbes ASAP
“When you consider who is gifted and crazed with rage... when you think of the terrorist places and the terrorist countries... who do they hate most? The Great Satan, the United States. What is its most important place? Some would say Washington. I would say the great city of the United States is the great city of the world, the dense 10-mile-long island called Manhattan, where the economic and media power of the nation resides, the city that is the psychological center of our modernity, our hedonism, our creativity, our hard-shouldered hipness, our unthinking arrogance.”

 
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Special Wayback Collections at The Internet Archive:

The September 11 Web Archive
“This collection of archived documents was commissioned by the Library of Congress to preserve digital materials covering the events of September 11, 2001.”

US Election 2000
“This collection was commissioned by the Library of Congress to archive digital materials covering the Election of 2000. It contains 800 gigabytes of data gathered from 8/1/2000 to 1/21/2001.”

Web Pioneers: The Early Years
“A special Wayback collection of websites that began the Internet revolution.”

A chronicle of high-level USA government actions in September 2001, at two websites:

Ten Days in September (WP)
“This series is based on interviews with President Bush, Vice President Cheney and many other key officials inside the administration and out. The interviews were supplemented by notes of National Security Council meetings made available to The Washington Post, along with notes taken by several participants.”

Response to Terror (Austin American Stateman)
“This is an eight-part series by The Washington Post describing the response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the highest levels of government.”

News coverage of September 11 and the aftermath:

Fighting Terrorism: America Retaliates (BG)
“Archive stories from the Boston Globe: Tuesday Sept. 11 – Sunday Sept. 16”

Attack on America (Guardian Unlimited)
Special Report with continuing coverage

Miscellaneous Collections:

Catholic Poets @ ELCore.Net
Joyce Kilmer, Alice Meynell, Joseph Mary Plunkett

Verse @ Bartleby.com
Public-domain Anthologies and Individual Volumes

HTI American Verse Project
“The American Verse Project is a collaborative project between the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative (HTI) and the University of Michigan Press. The project is assembling an electronic archive of volumes of American poetry prior to 1920.”

Newman Reader
Life and Works of Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

What We Think of America (Granta)
“In this issue twenty-four writers drawn from many countries describe the part America has played in their lives — for better or worse — and deliver their estimate of the good and the bad it has done as the world’s supreme political, military, economic and cultural power.”

Hot Issues: Persecution (Christianity Today)
Reports of contemporary persecution of Christians world-wide

Gay Activism in Schools (Teachers in Focus)
“A single-themed issue on homosexual activism in the schools”

Skepticism Toward The Skeptical Environmentalist (Scientific American)
The Great Debate between Lomborg and Anti-Lomborgs

Document Archive in English (ZENIT)
The World Seen from Rome

Archives: Fallout of September 11 (ZENIT)
The World Seen from Rome

STATS Spotlight (Statistical Assessment Service)
“Here are pieces of more extensive unpublished STATS research.”

Legacy of Shame (New Times LA)
News and opinion about Roger Cardinal Mahony

A Trust Betrayed:
Sexual Abuse by Teachers (Education Week)

“This three-part series on child sex abuse by school employees is the result of a six-month project by Education Week involving scores of interviews with state and local education and law-enforcement officials, other experts, teachers, principals, parents, and victims, as well as an extensive review of court documents, journal articles, and public-policy records.”

Catholic Church Abuse Scandal (Yahoo! News)
U.S. Full Coverage

The Crusades (Catholic Dossier)
“It is difficult for one who lives in an increasingly secularized society not to be influenced by its prejudices. One of the great misunderstandings in the West, even among Catholics, has to do with the Crusades. This issue of Catholic Dossier provides fundamental and irrefutable historical information about what actually happened and why.”

Pope Pius XII (Catholic Dossier)
“The accomplishments of the Vatican diplomatic corps in the various countries occupied by the Germans, over which the sinister Eichmann preyed, had received the plaudits of all free men, not least those in the new country of Israel. There groves were planted in honor of the Pope and of many of his nuncios, not least Cardinal Roncalli who, as nuncio in Istanbul, had been the good right arm of Pius in rescuing Jews. Pius XII escaped martyrdom during his lifetime, but he has been subjected to the martyrdom of vilification, defamation and incredible falsification after his death.”

The New Rise of Islam (Catholic World Report)
“Late in the 20th century, the renewed vigor of Islam has become one of the most important developments on the world scene. By dint of their energetic proselytism, their migration to new lands, and their high birth rate, Muslims are rapidly gaining attention and influence in many countries where their faith has heretofore been virtually unknown. CWR aims to make readers better acquainted with Islam, with a primer on the religious principles, and public practices of that faith.”

Christianity and Islam, Terrorism and War (Catholic World Report)
“Why have thousands of Muslims joined in anti-American protests in Pakistan, Kenya, and Indonesia since the start of the US air strikes on terrorist bases in Afghanistan? These demonstrators are not all supporters of al-Qaeda, thirsting for American blood; they are not Arabs, caught up in the political turmoil of the Middle East. They are united only by the Muslim faith. Is it Islam, then, that prods them toward violence?”

The Cross and the Crescent (Catholic World Report)
“To a remarkable degree, America has united behind President Bush in the war on terrorism. For the first time since World War II there is an overwhelming consensus that we are fighting a necessary battle, for a just cause. That national unity is a clear sign of strength, and a clear warning to our enemies. Nevertheless, beneath the surface of that consensus the careful observer can still detect signs of the fault lines within American society. We are united against terrorists, but divided among ourselves.”

Other columnists (alphabetical)

Diane Alden
inflyovercountry

Ann Coulter
Town Hall

Bill Dunn
Faith and Funnies

Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post

Michael Kelly
Washington Post

Jonah Goldberg
National Review Online

Jonah Goldberg
Town Hall

Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice

John Mallon
Peter’sVoice

Steve Milloy
Fox News

Peggy Noonan
Opinion Journal

Fred Reed
Commentary with Moxie

Mark Steyn
National Post

Deb Weiss
A View from Here

George F. Will
Washington Post

Weblogs (alphabetical)

The Blog from the Core
E. L. Core
Needless Commentary From Small-Town America

Ad Orientem
Mark C. N. Sullivan

Annunciations
Michael Dubruiel
(husband of blogger Amy Welborn)

BrinkLindsey.com
International politics, economics, and foreign policy

CampusNonsense
Exposing Left-Wing Lunacy

Catholic and Enjoying It!
Mark Shea
“So That No Thought of Mine, No Matter How Stupid, Should Ever Go Unpublished Again!”

ChristianityToday.com
Compiled by Ted Olsen and others

The Conservative Underground
Oubai Shabandar, Shanna Bowman, Dan Moody, Tim Richards
Culture Progress Justice

The Corner
National Review Online
(The Blog Mother Ship, according to Kevin James)

cut on the bias
Susanna Cornett
“keeping an eye on the spins and weirdness of media, crime and everyday life”

EveTushnet.com
“Conservatism reborn in twisted sisterhood”

Fool’s Folly
Emily Stimpson
Proverbs 12:23

The Goliard Blog
Kevin James
Your Destination for Deep Thoughts and Alleged Insights

Holy Weblog!
M. J. Garcia
A faithful look at the Net.

In Between Naps
Amy Welborn
(wife of blogger Michael Dubruiel)

Juan Gato’s Bucket o’ Rants
Bunch of crap from a moron.

Jumping to Conclusions
David Nieporent
“Thoughts, comments, musings on life, politics, current events and the media.”

Louder Fenn’s Whirligig
Perpetual ephemera

Mallon’s Media Watch
John Mallon
“MMW is a Catholic blog site featuring news analysis, response to and commentary on misinformed media reports on the Catholic Church.”

Media Minded
(An anonymous copy editor looks at the media, especially newspapers.)

Minute Particulars
Mark DB

Nota Bene
Sean Gallagher
Humble (oh really...?) opinions on matters of faith

Orthopraxis
Fr. Nectarios Trevino
A weblog of American Orthodoxy.

OxBlog
“The political rantings of Josh Chafetz, a graduate student in political theory at Oxford, Dan Urman, a graduate student in international relations at Oxford, and Anand Giridharadas, a junior at the University of Michigan spending the year at Oxford.”

Relapsed Catholic
Kathy Shaidle
Where the religious rubber meets the pop culture road...

Rhetorica: Commentary and Analysis
Andrew R. Cline, Ph.D.
Politics, Journalism, Rhetoric, Persuasion, Propaganda, and Spin

Sand in the Gears
Anthony Woodlief
Clogging up juggernauts since 1967.

ScottRubush.com
Scott’s little outpost of sanity on the web.

Veritas
Chris Burgwald
“A blog among friends devoted to the usually serious but occasionally frivolous search for truth in things theological, philosophical, political, historical, etc. etc.”

Series and multi-part articles of news or opinion (new at top)

Four columns by Rod Dreher at National Review Online about the June bishops’ meeting in Dallas:

new The Dallas Outlook: The American bishops need a conversion. (06/12/02)
“The final hurdle the bishops must clear is... themselves. Catholics and non-Catholics alike have been sickened and astonished to confront the repugnant sex crimes — child-rape chief among them — committed by priests. They wonder, as any normal person would, what kind of men in a position of authority can learn of these unspeakable acts and fail to act to stop them. They wonder, as any normal person would, what kind of Christian leaders would protect child predators, unleash lawyers on victims of these priests, and publicly lie about these matters. They wonder, as any normal person would, why, after all that failed bishops have on their conscience — including secret sexual sin of their own — they do not resign, and go to a monastery to do penance for the rest of their lives.”

new Dallas Diary: In town with the bishops. (06/13/02)
“One wonders why the bishops refused the offer of the Catholic Medical Association, a group whose number includes faithful Catholic psychiatrists who actually believe what the Church teaches, to offer their expertise at this meeting. Actually, given the lavender mafia’s power, one does not wonder for long. Here’s a recent open letter from one of the CMA’s leaders, to the bishops, saying that same-sex attraction in the priesthood is at the heart of this scandal. The bishops don’t want to hear it. And neither do the media. I’m hearing from inside press circles that reporters, editors and producers don’t want to look at the gay issue. Michael S. Rose, author of Goodbye, Good Men, is in Dallas. I spoke yesterday to a TV reporter who wants to interview Rose about his findings, but who received word from the top to stay away from him. I can’t prove it, but from the anecdotes I’m hearing, the need to avoid the ‘elephant in the sacristy,’ in Mary Eberstadt’s memorable phrase, is perhaps the only point on which the bishops and the media agree.”

new Dallas Diary, Part II: Outside and around the main event. (06/14/02)
“Also absent from the conference: any official place for conservative voices of reform. Appleby and Steinfels had some good things to say, certainly, but concluded with liberal-style calls for more lay involvement. ‘This doesn’t look good,’ said Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World Report. ‘Who on the agenda, anywhere on the agenda, is known as a stalwart defender of Catholic teaching on sexual morality?’ Lawler’s comment gets to the heart of why conservatives are not welcome here: They would have raised the issue of homosexuality among the clergy, absent which this scandal cannot be fully understood, much less dealt with. Helen Hull Hitchcock, leader of the orthodox Women for Faith and Family, asked the bishops in an afternoon press conference what it meant that as many as 90 percent of these publicly known abuse cases involve priests having sex with teenage boys. She did not get a straight answer, so to speak.”

new Done in Dallas: The problems that persist. (06/17/02)
“Though the policy they adopted on Friday is clearly the strongest stand they’ve ever taken against priest sex abuse, and that there is a lot of good in it (even if it will probably be rejected by Rome), there is little reason to believe that it is much more than a quick-fix pseudo-solution, a bone tossed to quiet the baying pack of journalists and lay activists. One is most impressed not by what they did, but by what they left undone. Aside from not addressing the root causes of the scandal, the bishops refused to accept personal accountability for their paramount role in the scandal. Not one resigned. Not one was asked to resign, at least publicly. Words of apology ring hollow when not followed by action. As C. S. Lewis said, ‘A long face is not a moral disinfectant.’”

Joe Klein is writing a multi-part report from Europe for The Guardian:

France? It’s like 1970s America (05/28/02)
“Over the next six weeks, Joe Klein, America’s leading political commentator, will be travelling through Europe for the Guardian. Today, 36 years after he first arrived there in search of “dark-eyed lovelies with difficult personalities”, he reports from France”

The Prince (06/06/02)
“Is Silvio Berlusconi a medieval thowback to a time when rich men could buy power? Or the shape of things to come? And is he dangerous — or just a colourful rogue? In the second of his weekly dispatches from Europe, Joe Klein meets the billionaire prime minister who just wants to be loved”

The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy: Meeting the Problem in a Comprehensive and Responsible Manner (the 1985 report to American Bishops):

First Part
Executive Summary, Table of Contents, Forward, Introduction, Descriptions of Possible Case Scenarios, Summary of Considerations

Second Part
Summary of Considerations (cont.), Project Proposal, Scope of Services, Strategy, Conclusion

Related articles in The New York Times on the last messages to come out of the World Trade Center after the first plane struck:

History Recorded From the Messages of Victims (05/26/02)
“The primary sources for today’s article are interviews with more than 140 people who communicated with individuals on the upper floors of the twin towers, and conversations with 17 others who were at or above the impact zone in the south tower but escaped. Additionally, eight people described conditions just below the impact zone in the north tower.”

102 Minutes: Fighting to Live as the Towers Died (05/26/02)
“They began as calls for help, information, guidance. They quickly turned into soundings of desperation, and anger, and love. Now they are the remembered voices of the men and women who were trapped on the high floors of the twin towers. From their last words, a haunting chronicle of the final 102 minutes at the World Trade Center has emerged, built on scores of phone conversations and e-mail and voice messages. These accounts, along with the testimony of the handful of people who escaped, provide the first sweeping views from the floors directly hit by the airplanes and above. Collected by reporters for The New York Times, these last words give human form to an all but invisible strand of this stark, public catastrophe: the advancing destruction across the top 19 floors of the north tower and the top 33 of the south, where loss of life was most severe on Sept. 11. Of the 2,823 believed dead in the attack on New York, at least 1,946, or 69 percent, were killed on those upper floors, an analysis by The Times has found.”

Accounts From the North Tower (05/26/02)
“Following are accounts from survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center’s North Tower and the friends and relatives of the victims.”

Accounts From the South Tower (05/26/02)
“Following are accounts from survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center’s South Tower and the friends and relatives of the victims.”

A three-part UPI series by Martin Sieff on how some mainstream media were bamboozled about a massacre that had never happened:

Part One: Documenting the Myth (05/20/02)
“After the Israeli Army attacked the West Bank Palestinian city of Jenin on April 2, the Western European media fell for the ‘Massacre Myth’ in Jenin in a big way. Even though the final Palestinian Authority figure acknowledged only 56 dead in Jenin, media coverage in major Western European nations gave credence to early claims by the PA’s top officials that as many as 3,000 civilians had been killed in the fighting there. Israel’s own actions led credence to the myth. The Israeli army barred the international media from Jenin as its forces drove into the city. The only sources that the media then had for what was going on there were from the Palestinians themselves. And in the inevitable confusion of battle, what the great 19th century military theoretician Carl von Clausewitz called ‘the fog of war’ applied. At the time, both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities appeared unclear what was actually happening on the ground. However, even allowing for these factors, the Western media coverage of Jenin, espically in the Western European press and broadcast media, largely proved to be factually wildly inaccurate in the light of what later emerged. And there was also a hysterical tone to many of them. What made these unreliable and misleading reports all the more remarkable was that many of the worst of them emerged in the most respected and influential organizations in the British media. The British Broadcasting Corporation and three of the four so-called ‘quality’ daily newspapers — The Times, The Independent and The Guardian — fell for the ‘Massacre Myth’ hook, line and sinker. Even the more cautious and — as it proved — reliable ‘Daily Telegraph’ was not entirely immune either.”

Analysis: Why Europeans bought Jenin myth (05/21/02)
“Why were reporters and news editors of so many of the biggest and most prestigious Western European newspapers and broadcasting networks ready to believe that the Israeli Army had committed a massacre in the Palestinian West Bank city of Jenin when no massacre had in fact occurred? The reasons were many. First, everyone was prepared to believe the worst, because the worst had already happened. It was all too credible to believe that hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians had been massacred in Jenin because they had been massacred before. The 20-year-old shadow of Sabra and Shatila lay across the international media’s initial perceptions of Jenin.... Second, the Israelis haplessly and inadvertently dug a public relations trap for themselves and then promptly fell into it. They prevented the international media from covering what was certainly extremely fierce fighting in the refugee camp and streets of Jenin.... Third, even when the worst fighting was over and the Israelis finally allowed reporters into Jenin, a ‘rat pack’ psychology, even hysteria, appears to have taken hold. People saw what they wanted to see and they mutually reinforced each other in their perceptions.... Fourth, almost none of those present had covered serious urban conflicts in Lebanon and Northern Ireland during their worst phases in the 1970s and early 1980s. Almost none of them were old enough to have experienced full-scale battle reporting first-hand in Vietnam. This led them to vastly exaggerate the scale of destruction and death they were seeing.”

How Europe’s media lost out (05/22/02)
“The credibility of state-run or supported national broadcasting organizations took a huge hit. The principle of having a free market in broadcasting as well as print media outlets in order to ensure more fair and balanced overall coverage got a big boost. This was humiliating to the Europeans, who have long sneered in their dominant broadcast media culture at what they regard as the crass commercialism and vulgar pursuit of profits of competing U.S. broadcasting networks. It was also a blow to those who would like to expand National Public Radio’s small-scale radio news operation in the United States into a radio-TV news empire on the lines of the BBC or other European outlets. The reporters and editors of NPR appeared far more prone to swallow the wild allegations about Jenin than most of their U.S. media colleagues did. The controversy also underlined the value of having widely read and circulated columnists who can act in the media like the Senate does in Congress or other ‘upper’ houses of parliament do in Western Europe and Japan. Such columnists at their best can act like deliberative parliamentary chambers not subject to the pressures of repeated re-election campaigns. They can take a longer term view of things. They can act as cautious, more thoughtful voices expressing caution or doubt about emotional hysteria sweeping the news pages. William F. Buckley’s May 4 editorial ‘Did the Israelis Do It?’ serves as a model for this kind of writing.”

A three-part essay “How Contemporary American Poets are Denaturing the Poem” by Joan Houlihan @ Web Del Sol:

On the Prosing of Poetry
“Before writing was invented, poetry was used to mark special occasions and strong emotions and to burn the necessary stories — the myths and truths of a culture — into the memories of the people. Mnemonic devices such as sound, rhythm, and heightened, pictorial language, economy of expression (‘epigrammatic’ speech that encodes many meanings in as few words as possible) and assonance, consonance, alliteration, parallelism, were the branding irons used for the task. As well, these devices were incantatory, stirring primal responses to their sound and rhythm, and creating an atmosphere for the sacred and magical. Although spoken, poetry was not common; it was instead, a singular kind of speech, reserved for relaying important or sacred events, ensuring that such events would be remembered almost in a physical way, in the body’s deep response to sound, rhythm and imagery. Speaking poetically served a purpose. Speaking prosaically also served a purpose — to negotiate everyday reality, to speak of those things which were common to all and not worthy of long remembrance — to speak of the world in transit. Our ability to write did not erase the distinction. It took contemporary American poets, writing in deliberately flat prose about insignificant personal events and feelings; and editors, publishers and critics dubbing such anecdotes and everyday journal entries ‘poems,’ to erase the distinction. We have reached the point we are being asked to believe that a text block, chopped randomly into flat, declarative lines, is a poem. We are told to kneel and stare at this specimen of dead lines laid out in its little coffin on the page, and declare it alive. What do we say?”

I=N=C=O=H= E=R=E=N=T
“The need for coherence appears to be basic, perhaps even neurological. Science has proved the human brain strives to find a pattern, an order, a meaning in chaos. What isn’t coherent, we strive to make so. It satisfies us. Thus, before settling for separate, unconnected pieces, beautiful as they may be, we will look hard for connections. While shapes and colors can become untethered from their representation, or meaning, a poem can only become fully untethered from meaning if it is without words. This is because the smallest irreducible piece — the word — retains meaning, in and out of context. A totally meaningless poem would logically consist of a blank page. In spite of this difficulty, some poets do manage to make extremely close approaches to the state of meaninglessness while still using words.... In order to save us from the Western capitalist construction called a poem, the Language Poets had to destroy it. But two other possible reasons for writing Language Poetry come to mind: [1] The poet cannot succesfully create a coherent poem and so makes a virtue of his failure. [2] The poet cannot successfully create a coherent poem and so uses poem-as-pretext for expounding critical theories — something he or she can do, and that, happy coincidence, ensures an academic career.”

The Argument for Silence: Defining the Poet Peter Principle
“The tension between ‘career’ and ‘vocation’ in poetry is nowhere more obvious than in academia where poets take a sabbatical in order to write poetry, but never take a sabbatical from writing poetry. I believe that a certain variety of established poet, perhaps those with a substantial number of books, would benefit greatly from a poetry sabbatical. There is evidence of a need for poetic silence all around us. We see it every time we read a denatured poem by a renowned poet, usually in a renowned publication; evidence that the enabling editors of such publications have failed in their duty to enforce last call. For example, poets James Tate, Philip Levine and Mary Oliver have each produced more than 16 books of poetry. Whatever has driven this production, it is clear from the trajectory of all three poets that something must stop it. In all three cases, a windiness, a wordiness, a kind of poetic logorrhea can be found in their latest work in contrast to the fire and compression in their early work. Flatlined, barely pulsing, their latest work is being kept alive by extraordinary means: the artificial resuscitation of continuous publication.”

A two-part article on Economists & Ecologists by Arnold Kling @ Tech Central Station:

Common Sense and Sensibility (03/28/02)
“Economists are not well thought of these days by environmentalists. Or so it seems from accounts such as a recent Scientific American excerpt of Edward O. Wilson’s book, The Future of Life. He characterizes economists as narrow, myopic environmental ignoramuses.... It’s true that economists have trouble with the views of many environmentalists. But this just reflects our frustration with the ecologists’ use of the most naive and inappropriate economic models and assumptions in their forecasts and policy prescriptions. That’s why Bjorn Lomborg’s new book The Skeptical Environmentalist is such a distinctive, rare, and important work. In addition to sharing the ecologist’s concerns about aquifers, sustainability, and global warming, Lomborg accepts the economist’s paradigm. By combining economics with ecology, he comes up with a rational, balanced analysis. Unfortunately, environmentalists’ denial of the validity of economic analysis runs through much of their criticism of Lomborg’s work.... Environmentalists tend to assume a constant relationship between inputs and outputs. If you are going to produce X tons of grain, then the acreage of land required will be X/y, where y is the average yield of an acre of land. Economists call this the ‘fixed-coefficients’ model, because the relationship between acreage and grain is governed by the coefficient y. Simply put, this is not a realistic model. In practice there are always a variety of production techniques that use different combinations of inputs to produce the same output. The fixed-coefficients model applies, if at all, only in the very short run. In the long run, there is substitution and technical change. Substitution means that producers will vary the inputs used in production, depending on changes in the cost of various inputs. For example, if land becomes more expensive, producers will substitute capital, labor, fertilizer, or other resources in order to utilize the most efficient combination. The other long-run factor is technical change. As we accumulate knowledge, we come up with ways to produce more output with fewer resources.”

Lomborg’s Lessons (04/02/02)
“Economists use interest rates to discount future benefits and costs. Because of discounting, environmental costs that are out in the future are given less weight than today’s economic goods, including today’s environment. Ecologists suspect that economists are being short-sighted, when in fact we are being rational. The interest rate represents the price at which the economy can trade off future output for present output. What discounting says is that tomorrow’s output is ‘cheap’ in today’s terms. Undertaking a large expense today to avoid the same expense tomorrow is inefficient. Ecologists worry that we are consuming too much now, while depriving future generations of resources and leaving them with large unpaid environmental bills. Economists, on the other hand, argue that by investing in science and research we are providing a legacy of wealth to future generations. The assets that they inherit in the form of capital and know-how will be much greater than any environmental liabilities. In The Skeptical Environmentalist, Bjorn Lomborg makes a strong case against the Kyoto Protocol, which attempts to restrict carbon dioxide emissions in order to forestall global warming. Even as one who accepts the thesis of global warming, Lomborg suggests that the Kyoto Protocol is a bad idea. Lomborg estimates a finite (albeit large) cost to global warming. Also, because this cost will be borne in the future, he applies a discount rate. If the present value of the cost of global warming is finite, then it becomes possible to estimate the benefits of policies to forestall global warming. Next, it follows that we can compare benefits to costs. It is on the basis of these cost-benefit comparisons that Lomborg is able to show that the Kyoto Protocol approach is unwise.”

A two-part article @ Salon, by Andrew O’Hehir, on J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings:

The book of the century (06/04/02)
“It’s unwise to read The Lord of the Rings as allegory in any strict sense, but this commonplace personal odyssey, one shared by millions in the modern age, is strikingly echoed in its plot. Frodo, the child-size hero, must leave his beloved Shire and travel into Sauron’s domain of Mordor, with its slag heaps, its permanent pall of smoke, its slave-driven industries. When he returns after much danger and difficulty, he discovers that the malicious wizard Saruman — as Shippey points out, a techno-Utopian who began with good intentions — has industrialized the Shire itself, cutting down its trees, replacing its hobbit-holes with brick slums and factories and poisoning its rivers. In this regard, then, The Lord of the Rings belongs to the literature of the Industrial Revolution, a lament for the destruction of England’s ‘green and pleasant land’ that belongs somewhere on the same shelf with Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence and William Blake. But Tolkien saw something wilder and stranger in the Sarehole of his childhood, and in himself: a fading but still tangible connection to the distant, mythic past. If his Shire hobbits are the West Midlands rural bourgeoisie of 1895 or so, they have been catapulted backward into a world where they themselves are the anachronisms, a realm of elves, dwarves (Tolkien insisted on this nonstandard but ancient plural, although he would have preferred ‘dwarrows’), wizards, dragons, goblins and black sorcerers.”

A curiously very great book (06/05/02)
“It is not merely the scale of mythic invention or the grand storytelling that distinguishes it but also its tragic vision, the profound melancholy mentioned by Lewis. Few if any heroic quests have ever had such a sense of human frailty and weakness; although Frodo brings the Ring all the way to the Cracks of Doom where Sauron forged it, in the end he is overcome by temptation and claims it for his own. He is redeemed only by chance, or by divine grace, which in Tolkien’s world comes to the same thing. He has shown mercy to the treacherous and miserable Gollum, who becomes the accidental agent of Frodo’s and the world’s salvation. But Frodo, the book’s ostensible hero, fails in his quest and is left, like the knight who guards the Holy Grail, with a grievous wound that can never heal (an Arthurian parallel Shippey has not noticed). Even the victory wrought by the Ring’s destruction is a sad affair, in many respects closer to defeat. Much of the magic and mystery drains out of Middle-earth after Sauron’s fall, leaving behind an ordinary, only slightly prehistoric realm dominated by human beings. Tolkien’s most beloved characters — Gandalf, the High-Elves Elrond and Galadriel and the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo, both of them indelibly marked by the Ring — depart over the western seas to a paradisiacal nowhere that none of us on this shore will ever see. Tolkien liked to present himself to friends and readers as a contented fireside hobbit, fond of tobacco, simple food and late mornings in bed, and there can be no doubt, reading his letters, that he was immensely gratified by the outpouring of love and enthusiasm his work engendered. (And immensely irritated by some of it; when a woman wanted to name her Siamese cats after his characters, he replied that they were “the fauna of Mordor.”) But in reality he was a strange and complicated man who wrote a strange and sad book, whose complex of meanings we will likely never determine.”

A three-part article on some current thinking on the Koran in The Atlantic:

What is the Koran? Part 1 (Jan. 1999)
“Some of the parchment pages in the Yemeni hoard seemed to date back to the seventh and eighth centuries A.D., or Islam’s first two centuries — they were fragments, in other words, of perhaps the oldest Korans in existence. What’s more, some of these fragments revealed small but intriguing aberrations from the standard Koranic text. Such aberrations, though not surprising to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of God.”

What is the Koran? Part 2 (Jan. 1999)
“Deviating from the orthodox interpretation of the Koran, says the Algerian Mohammed Arkoun, a professor emeritus of Islamic thought at the University of Paris, is ‘a very sensitive business’ with major implications. ‘Millions and millions of people refer to the Koran daily to explain their actions and to justify their aspirations,’ Arkoun says. ‘This scale of reference is much larger than it has ever been before.’”

What is the Koran? Part 3 (Jan. 1999)
“Gerd-R. Puin speaks with disdain about the traditional willingness, on the part of Muslim and Western scholars, to accept the conventional understanding of the Koran. ‘The Koran claims for itself that it is “mubeen,” or “clear,” he says. ‘But if you look at it, you will notice that every fifth sentence or so simply doesn’t make sense. Many Muslims — and Orientalists — will tell you otherwise, of course, but the fact is that a fifth of the Koranic text is just incomprehensible. This is what has caused the traditional anxiety regarding translation. If the Koran is not comprehensible — if it can’t even be understood in Arabic — then it’s not translatable. People fear that. And since the Koran claims repeatedly to be clear but obviously is not — as even speakers of Arabic will tell you — there is a contradiction. Something else must be going on.’”

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This View’s Column

A Tale of Three Doctors

And What it Tells Us About the Environmental Movement

This is a “reprint” of a two-part column originally published in February and March.

Part One (February 25, 2002)

No, they’re not physicians, the three doctors of this Tale. They are the following:

  • Paul R. Ehrlich, Ph.D., Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford University and president of its Center for Conservation Biology;
  • Julian L. Simon, Ph.D. (1932-1998), Professor of Business Administration at the University of Maryland and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute; and,
  • Bjorn Lomborg, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Statistics at the University of Aarhus in Denmark.

Population studies? Business administration? Statistics? Yawn.

No... wait... these gentlemen, their ideas and their writings, are at the center of an international fracas.

No kidding.

Doctor One. Ehrlich appears first in this Tale, all the way back in 1968: in that year, his book The Population Bomb was published. It sold 3,000,000 copies, and got the author a guest spot on The Tonight Show.

In his book, Ehrlich proclaimed that “the battle to feed all of humanity is over.” And we lost that battle: “In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate....”

Later, in 1974, he and his wife Anne published The End of Affluence. We were still facing an impending apocalypse: the book warned of a “nutritional disaster that seems likely to overtake humanity in the 1970s (or, at the latest, the 1980s). Due to a combination of ignorance, greed, and callousness, a situation has been created that could lead to a billion or more people starving to death....”

Ehrlich, of course, has not been able to say I told you so. And, fortunately, it does not seem that he will ever be able to do so.

Doctor Two. Simon comes into the Tale in 1980. Fed up after more than a decade of similar apocalyptic pronouncements, he published “Resources, Population, Environment: An Oversupply of False Bad News” in the June 17, 1980, issue of Science.

His article began with something of a manifesto, and has earned Simon the epithet The Doomslayer:

False bad news about population growth, natural resources, and the environment is published widely in the face of contrary evidence. For example, the world supply of arable land has actually been increasing, the scarcity of natural resources including food and energy has been decreasing, and basic measures of U.S. environmental quality show positive trends. The aggregate data show no long-run negative effect of population growth upon standard of living.

(“Arable” land is land capable of being cultivated for food production. And the strange double negative “scarcity... has been decreasing” — required, I surmise, by the terms in which his opponents had been framing the discussion — means that the known supply of natural resources has been increasing.)

Ehrlich wrote a letter to Science in response to Simon’s article. But they engaged their argument in quite a different way later that year. In response to a proclamation from Ehrlich — “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000” — Simon publicly proffered a real wager: he was willing to stake $10,000 “that the cost of non-government-controlled raw materials (including grain and oil) will not rise in the long run”.

Ehrlich and two colleagues took the bet. (They thought, it is said, that it would be easy money.) The raw materials they chose were chromium, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten: they expected all of these materials to become scarcer and, thus, to rise in price over the following ten years.

They were wrong, and Simon won the bet, as detailed in a remarkable article by Ed Regis in Wired, Feb. 1997:

Between 1980 and 1990, the world’s population grew by more than 800 million, the largest increase in one decade in all of history. But by September 1990, without a single exception, the price of each of Ehrlich’s selected metals had fallen, and in some cases had dropped through the floor. Chrome, which had sold for $3.90 a pound in 1980, was down to $3.70 in 1990. Tin, which was $8.72 a pound in 1980, was down to $3.88 a decade later.

Now, Ehrlich has been wrong, over and over and over again, for decades, yet he has won world-wide acclaim for being some kind of prophet. He should be a gambler: he loses every hand, but somehow manages to win the game.

Simon, having merely the available facts and demonstrable history to back up his contrary opinions, lived somewhat in the shadow of his acclaimed opponent. He published quite a few books, which only won him opprobrium for daring to say, in effect, that The Good News is That the Bad News is Wrong. As Regis put it in his Wired article:

Naturally, he received a fair amount of bad press for all this heresy, particularly for his pet claim that what the world needs most is lots of additional human beings. They’re not just mouths to feed, he argued. Newborn babes grow up to be creative adults; they turn into individuals who contribute and achieve, who give back far more than they ever take.... “Resources come out of people’s minds more than out of the ground or air,” says Simon. “Minds matter economically as much as or more than hands or mouths. Human beings create more than they use, on average. It had to be so, or we would be an extinct species.”

Yes, Simon received — “naturally”? — bad press for his good news. This is a theme to which we must return. Now let’s bring this Tale closer to our own time.

Doctor Three. Lomborg is a late comer to the Tale with the publication of his book The Skeptical Environmentalist in 2001.

What’s the connection between Lomborg, on the one hand, and Ehrlich and Simon on the other? The connection is the very article on Simon by Ed Regis that I have quoted: Lomborg read it and was aghast that Simon had the impudence to say that all the doomsayers were wrong, and that facts and historical trends show them to be wrong. Lomborg believed the doomsaying and, being a statistician — naturally keen on facts and historical trends — he took Simon’s effrontery as something of a professional challenge.

So, Lomborg and some of his associates set out to prove Simon wrong. Instead, they discovered that the facts do, indeed, tend to prove that Simon, The Doomslayer, is largely right, and the doomsayers, like Ehrlich, are largely wrong.

I have not read The Skeptical Environmentalist. But Lomborg wrote a series of three articles, published the first week of September 2001, in The National Post, a Canadian publication. In them, he lays out the case in brief that he lays out at length in his book, also published that month. (These articles are no longer available at the URLs I have for them.)

In the first article, Sep. 1, Lomborg sets forth what he (following Simon’s lead) calls The Litany:

We are defiling our Earth, we are told. Our resources are running out. The population is ever-growing, leaving less and less to eat. Our air and water is more and more polluted. The planet’s species are becoming extinct in vast numbers — we kill off more than 40,000 each year. Forests are disappearing, fish stocks are collapsing, the coral reefs are dying. The fertile topsoil is vanishing. We are paving over nature, destroying the wilderness, decimating the biosphere and will end up killing ourselves in the process. The world’s ecosystem is breaking down. We are fast approaching the absolute limit of viability.

He wastes no time in setting the record straight about The Litany:

It does not seem to be backed up by the available evidence. We are not running out of energy or natural resources. There is ever more food, and fewer people are starving. In 1900, we lived for an average of 30 years; today we live for 67. According to the UN, we have reduced poverty more in the last 50 years than we did in the preceding 500, and it has been reduced in practically every country.

He proceeds to dispute almost every aspect of the doomsayers’ scenario:

  • agricultural production, and food consumption, in developing countries have actually increased in the past 30 years;
  • in the last 200 years, food prices have decreased by 90%;
  • the rate of population growth increase has been declining for 40 years;
  • air and water are becoming less and less polluted with every passing year;
  • species are not becoming extinct at a rapid rate; and,
  • widely held forecasts of global warming are overly pessimistic.

In his second article in the series, Sep. 3, Lomborg takes a closer look at our resources, and oil in particular — our dependence on it, and our fears of running out of it.

It seems that we have been running out of oil as long as anybody can remember:

In 1914, the U.S. Bureau of Mines estimated that supplies would last only 10 more years. In 1939, the U.S. department of the interior predicted oil would last only 13 more years. In 1951, it made the same projection: oil had only 13 more years. As Professor Frank Notestein of Princeton said in his later years: “We’ve been running out of oil ever since I was a boy.”

Though consumption has, of course, increased dramatically, we now have more known reserves of oil than ever before. This is the case, too, with other natural resources: though we use more and more of them, we have more left over for the future. Why? Because we discover more and more of them and learn ways to use them more efficiently.

In the last article in the series, Sep. 5, Lomborg basically accepts the premises of a 2001 report sponsored by an agency of the United Nations, but thinks that many conclusions drawn from the data are outlandish: he says we have to sort reality out from the hyperbole. And he argues that some of the proposed “cures” for global warming could be worse than the problem itself:

Despite our intuition that we need to do something drastic about global warming, we are in danger of implementing a cure that is more costly than the original affliction: economic analyses clearly show that it will be far more expensive to cut carbon dioxide emissions radically than to pay the costs of adaptation to the increased temperatures.

Indeed, the Kyoto Protocol would require that the developed world spend astronomical fortunes to produce only a minuscule effect on the environment by the end of this century, money that Lomborg argues would be much better spent improving conditions in the developing world.

A spate of articles preceded and accompanied the publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist. But Lomborg has been in the news again lately — and that will be the subject of the rest of this column, which will continue in the next issue of The View.

Part Two (March 4, 2002)

A spate of articles, as I mentioned last time, preceded and accompanied the publication of Bjorn Lomborg’s book The Skeptical Environmentalist, September 2001 . And Lomborg has been in the news again lately. (Which, by the way, is why I have been writing this two-part column.)

He has become, in certain respects, Julian Simon Redivivus: his message — The Good News is That The Bad News is Wrong — has not exactly been well-received among environmentalists. Unlike Simon — who, as far as I can tell, was widely ignored and, thus, easily dismissed — Lomborg has been getting a great deal of attention. And much of it has been very bad attention, as reported in an article in the London Sunday Times, Jan. 13:

The scientist who dared to challenge the establishment view on climate change has been subjected to a campaign of personal abuse, professional vilification and threats to his safety.... The book has provoked scientists and environmental groups into producing articles, websites and pamphlets rubbishing its author and his work.... He has been physically attacked and has had to employ bodyguards.

Huh? Good news — backed up with facts and statistics and history —is greeted with... vilification and violence? Perhaps somebody can explain that to me; in the meantime, I’ll try my own explanation.

How about an analogy? A family has (as they say) fallen on hard times: Dad has been laid off, with little real prospect of similar employment; Mom has been able to find only a low-paying part-time job. They watch their small savings dwindle with every bill they have to pay. The wolf is at the door (as they used to say) and the future that Dad and Mom imagine is inevitably worse than their past.

One afternoon, though, Mom makes a discovery. Shuffling through the household papers, scanning for anything they might have overlooked, she suddenly realizes that her husband’s life insurance policy has built up a pretty good cash value: they can withdraw enough money to see them through a couple of months, when the situation (as we say) might pick up.

Mom is overjoyed to have, finally, some good news for Dad. She hurries to him and announces her discovery: We have some money that we had forgotten about; we can breathe easier, at least for a little while.

Dad says that cannot be true. So Mom shows him the policy and the latest statement: The cash value is a bit more than $5,000, and we can withdraw almost all of it.

Dad says she must be — she must be — wrong. But Mom points here and there, to figures and facts, to the history of premiums paid and to the projection of cash values and death benefits, and she tells Dad the good news again: We can withdraw, $5,000 — and it will be tax-free because we have already paid more than $5,000 in premiums!

And Dad slaps her right across the mouth.

Bjorn Lomborg is Mom, so to speak, and Environmentalists are Dad.

Now, while the wisdom of my analogy is sinking in, allow me to move to a broader topic for a minute: what the heck is an Environmentalist? There must be lots of them: I see this or that person, on TV or the radio, or I read about this or that person in a newspaper or magazine or on the Internet — and this or that person is identified as an Environmentalist.

For instance, I was looking at a TV news story, and the reporter was interviewing different folks: some were identified as Farmers, others as Ranchers, and yet others as... Environmentalists.

The distinction that was being drawn implicitly — between Farmers and Ranchers on the one hand, and Environmentalists on the other — is pretty much lost on me. Especially since I’d be willing to bet money I don’t have that the Farmers and Ranchers are much closer to the environment than the Environmentalists are.

Now, I pretty much know what a Farmer, or a Rancher, is. What do they do for a living? Basically, they grow crops and raise livestock. Where does their money come from? Basically, from selling their crops and livestock. Where does their money go? Basically, back into the farm or the ranch, most likely. These are things I know, and I think pretty much anybody knows them, without having to ask about them.

But I do not know what an Environmentalist is. What do they do for a living? I don’t know. Where does their money come from? I don’t know. And where does their money go? I don’t know.

Do you?

Back to the Mom and Dad of our analogy. The only real explanation for Dad’s reaction to Mom’s good news is that — to put it politely — Dad’s mental health has deteriorated while contemplating the family’s bad state of affairs. In the case of Lomborg and the Environmentalists, that explanation just won’t do. (Okay, I could be wrong about that. But I shall proceed as if Environmentalists — whatever they happen to be — are sane. I hope you do not think this too unlikely.)

Now, allow me to recall a quotation from last time, from Ed Regis’ 1997 article on Julian Simon’s attempts to spread good news about the enivronment:

Naturally, he received a fair amount of bad press for all this heresy....

“Naturally”? I ask again. Good news about the environment “naturally” gets bad press?

Well, yes. But not because it’s good news. Rather, because good news about the environment is heresy: it is contrary to the received orthodoxy that the Earth is going (as they say) to hell in a handbasket, and that drastic curtailment of human activities — and only drastic curtailment of human activities — will keep the Earth from going there.

I’m not the only one who sees that good environmental news is heresy to the Environmentalists. Regis used the term years ago. The London Sunday Times article quoted above is entitled “Eco-heretic beset by hate campaign”. And a London Telegraph article, Jan. 20, takes the language even further:

But to the nabobs of the international environmental movement — the researchers, bureaucrats, politicians and protesters whose most passionate beliefs and professional livelihoods are staked on the near-religious conviction that the world is confronting imminent environmental catastrophe — Lomborg is the anti-Christ.

The article is entitled “Anti-Christ of the green religion”, and I think that the writer, David Thomas, has hit the nail (as they say) on the head: Environmentalists’ passionate beliefs and professional livelihoods are being challenged. That being the case, good news for the Earth is bad news for them, for their worldview, for their reputations, for their livelihooods, and for their influence.

But it remains good news for everybody else.

Of course, Lomborg is in the minority among published authors on environmental topics. And some of his opponents seem to think that fact tells very heavily against him and his arguments: why is he virtually the only one saying what he is saying?

One answer is this: because he is a pioneer. Lomborg is looking further and deeper into the evidence, and discovering that it does not really lead us to where it has been supposed to lead us.

And he is not so lonely as Environmentalists and mainstream media would have us think. The BBC ran an article, Feb. 25, about scientists disputing the generally received opinion about global climate change, which has recently become the linchpin of the Environmentalists’ relig... er... worldview:

A group of scientists in the US and the UK says the accepted wisdom on climate change remains unproved.... They claim it is “a media myth” to suppose that only a few scientists share their scepticism.

The article goes on to quote Philip Stott, professor emeritus of biogeology at the University of London:

The authors challenge the key contradiction at the heart of the Kyoto Protocol, the global climate agreement — that climate is one of the most complex systems known, yet that we can manage it by trying to control a small set of factors, namely greenhouse gas emissions. Scientifically, this is not mere uncertainty: it is a lie.

And science author John Gillot, in a spiked-science article, May 22, 2001, explains how an apparent scientific consensus is rigged through a media compliant to Environmentalists’ extremism:

European politicians, environmentalists and the media are unable to resist the temptation to link contemporary extremes of weather to global warming, even though there is little or no evidence for this. And they know it. A greater awareness of the range of variables influencing climate change and the potential impact on humans is making for a more interesting and realistic scientific debate. But this is rarely reflected in the public discussion. Instead, worst-case scenarios are commonly presented as fact. A rapid warming, of 3.5 degrees centigrade or more within the next century, would threaten significant changes. But would a more modest warming pose such a threat? There is a sound scientific basis, in both theoretical modelling and the study of past climates, for the view that a warmer world might be a better place for humans.

Sometimes, scientists have felt obliged to go on the public record about how mainstream media has distorted their findings. Even such a prestigious body as the USA’s National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is not immune from having its reports distorted. For instance, Richard Lindzen, MIT meteorology professor and member of the NAS panel on climate change, published an article in the Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2001:

Our primary conclusion was that despite some knowledge and agreement, the science is by no means settled. We are quite confident (1) that global mean temperature is about 0.5 degrees Celsius higher than it was a century ago; (2) that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have risen over the past two centuries; and (3) that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas whose increase is likely to warm the earth (one of many, the most important being water vapor and clouds).

But — and I cannot stress this enough — we are not in a position to confidently attribute past climate change to carbon dioxide or to forecast what the climate will be in the future. That is to say, contrary to media impressions, agreement with the three basic statements tells us almost nothing relevant to policy discussions.

Lomborg himself recognizes that his position is perceived to be in the minority; in an article I quoted from last time, he gives four reasons why this is so:

  • “Lopsidedness” is built into scientific research: research is not conducted in an area if there are not actual problems already, or if there are not thought to be potential problems for the future. Lomborg says that this will “create an impression that many more potential problems exist than is the case.” I say that it also creates an incentive to magnify the number and impact of potential problems, to prop up researchers’ reputations and funding, which provides their livelihood, and perhaps to support some larger political purpose. (To say that scientific researchers are not subject to, or do not succumb to, temptations like that is tantamount to saying that they are not human beings.)
  • Environmentalists’ groups are lobbying groups: they need to get the media’s attention, and want to influence governing bodies, corporations, and the general public. While asserting that these groups are run by “selfless folks”, Lomborg does acknowledge that they “need to keep the money that sustains them rolling in. The temptation to exaggerate is surely there, and sometimes, indulged in.”
  • Bad news sells better than good news does, and the media gives the public what it wants. Lomborg notices that this is a fault of the media; I will add that, though the media may be faulted for giving the public what it wants in preference to more realistic viewpoints, the general public is partly to blame, too, for desiring bad news more than true news.
  • Poor individual perception causes us to be dependent on views shaped by the media, which suffer because of the reasons already explained.

Is all this enough to explain the hostility which has greeted the good news from Julian Simon, first, and now from Bjorn Lomborg? In the 1960s, the public — especially the media — was spell-bound by horror stories of imminent global catastrophe. Never mind that they never came true, and that in fact the world situation has been, by and large, getting better and better for a very long time. The train (as they say) had left the station, and there was nothing to stop it. Bad news — some of it exaggerated, some of it mere speculation, some of it outright deception — has been continually trumpeted by the mass media and welcomed by the general public. Biases built into scientific research, and into the propagan... er... the publicity methods of Environmentalist groups, have lent support to the widely received impression that bad environmental news is the only true, or the only significant, environmental news.

Is all this enough to explain the hostility? I think so. But other explanations are available, and I do not think we can merely discount them. Columnist Diane Alden wrote recently about her research into fraud by employees of both the US federal government and the Washington state government — Fish and Wildlife Service agents whose salaries are paid by the taxpayers — concerning the presence of an endangered species of lynx in certain forest areas. She and others speculate that the individuals involved want to be able to declare the forests off-limits to human activity as part of a larger, long-term plan:

Trace the motive behind the fraud to an international agenda. An agenda adopted years ago when the U.N. and UNESCO were looking for ways to create a global economy and social structure – a collectivist utopian vision of the collective “good.”

That ultimate “good,” of course, is decided by the world’s elites, the “good” of the collective as opposed to the welfare and primacy of the individual. What would be created is a despotic utopian world where where our lives, property, economics, education, jobs and the environment are centrally planned.

The cover for the collectivist vision is the environment – and environmental policy.

I, for one, do not dismiss this out of hand. For it doesn’t take long to realize that Lomborgs critics aren’t always motivated merely by concern for the state of the environment. Rather, some of them seem to be motivated by more concern for the state than for the environment.

For instance, one of his most strident critics, Mark Lynas, has noted the following (as of today’s publication of The View) on a website devoted to debunking Lomborg:

Lomborg’s clearly on a political exercise, producing an anti-environment polemic not entirely different from the kinds of statements emanating from the current Bush White House — just with more footnotes.... Why not take the $60 billion from George Bush’s stupid Son of Star Wars program and use that cash to save lives in Ethiopia? Because in a world where political choices are not made democratically at a global level, but by a small number of rich countries and corporations, the poor and the environment are never going to be a priority.

Ah. Yes. I see.

But even if one is not willing to go so far as Alden does, we nonetheless have all the evidence we need to understand something about Environmentalist groups. Their assertions — whether they be apocalyptic forecasts of the future state of the environment, or even simple claims of the current global state of affairs —their assertions need to be scrutinized and criticized much more than they have been these past 30 or 40 years. And so do their motivations and their intentions.

Strange that I should have to say this, but I think a little more inquisitiveness on the part of reporters would go a long way towards helping the public to sort out fact from fiction about the environment.

It seems to me, for instance, that I must be supposed to know about Environmentalists, and what they do, and where their money comes from, and where it goes: you see, nobody has even attempted to explain these things to me. A reporter ought to get mighty strange looks for asking, say, Farmers or Ranchers what they do for a living and how they earn their money. But I think reporters ought to start getting strange looks for not asking Environmentalists what they do for a living, and why they do it, and how they earn their money.

Strange, having to tell reporters to be more inquistive, no?

P.S. According to a Reuters article, Feb. 27, Lomborg has been appointed to head a new Danish independent environmental organization, the Institute for Environmental Valuation. Though it seems to me that he would bring a needed balance to their activities, his appointment “has enraged local environmentalists and invited criticism from opponents abroad”.

P.P.S. Some of the articles cited in this column are already unavailable at the URLs I have for them.

© ELC 2002

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 Volume 1.19 Front Page June 17, 2002 





The View from the Core, and all original material, © E. L. Core 2002. All rights reserved.

Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”