Global warming debate goes onMy lasting legacy, other than being kind to children and dogs, is surely going to be the Unified Theory of Stupidity. This is the thesis I developed through years of patient observation of the human species and a vast acquaintance with stupidity.
By: Reg Henry, The Dickinson Press
My lasting legacy, other than being kind to children and dogs, is surely going to be the Unified Theory of Stupidity. This is the thesis I developed through years of patient observation of the human species and a vast acquaintance with stupidity.
Which brings me immediately to the subject of the climate change conference in Copenhagen, which appears likely to fail in its quest to do something about a real problem, thanks to the logic-muddling Unified Theory of Stupidity.
Because this is a scientific theory, ideally it would be researched by a scientist, not a journalist. But I don’t happen to own a white coat, and no self-respecting scientist would be caught dead in the lab without a white coat. The very sight of it would put the lab rats off their feed.
Besides, journalism has one big advantage — it regularly brings one in contact with stupid people. But enough already about the editors.
As produced by journalistic method, which includes field trips to convivial taverns, the Unified Theory of Stupidity holds that all stupidity has its roots in preconceived notions. This explains why on climate change the attitudes of many people have nothing to do with science. Nil. Nada. Zilch.
To be sure, learned scientists flap their white coats, follow the scientific method, do experiments, produce papers and reach consensus. They are then ignored by the man in the street who bows instead to the likes of broadcaster Glenn Beck, who is apparently skilled in observing meteorological phenomena like lunar influences. I am sure that is why he is called a lunatic.
How does he and others do it? To coax otherwise smart people to embrace stupidity, prominent deniers of global warming always observe the first principle of the Unified Theory of Stupidity. They play on common beliefs or prejudices.
Have you noticed? Those environmentalists are a grubby crew. Tree huggers. Sandal wearers. The type of folks who put soy milk on their organic corn flakes. Alarmists. Socialists. Marxists. Believers in one world government. Look at them, not at the melting glaciers.
Why, the environmentalists have to be mistaken about climate change because it is just so wrong to hug trees — it is arboreal adultery. Instead, let us believe dissenting scientists with contrary facts. We don’t like the other facts.
It was ever thus, as the unified theory observes. For example, the Bible is literally true; let’s fit some science around it and call it creative design. What use is science if it doesn’t confirm what we already believed? I know what you will say: “Reg, you are no scientist. Why, you admit you have no white coat. When they gave you a Bunsen burner in high school science class, you wanted to know who was this Mr. Bunsen and why was he burning?” This is true. Did I say that the debate about climate change often has little to do with science? It is possible my preconceived ideas make me a victim of my own ridiculous theory. Possible but not likely.
You see, some of us are not so caught up in the cynicism and mistrust of the age. Forced to choose between a respected scientist like Stephen Hawking, one of many thousands, and a famous blowhard like Glenn Beck, we will pause a minute and think, “Hmm, Hawking? Beck? Hawking? Beck?” before siding with Hawking, on the quaint theory that he is a heck of a lot smarter.
We will also go out to our cars in the summer and observe that, in a closed environment, if you shut the doors and smoke a cigar inside, the air gets pretty hot and foul in there. Yes, not a perfect analogy, but do you think that the pollution pumped into the closed environment of our atmosphere continuously since the Industrial Revolution can’t possibly affect things? Really? You don’t have to be a scientist or a tree hugger to believe in such intuitive common sense, just as you don’t have to be a chicken to know a bad egg when you smell one.
Those infamous hacked e-mails failed to unmask any scientist who didn’t believe in global warming. It unmasked scientists who believed in it so much that they thought they could be fools or jerks with the facts.
And yet while this debate goes on, following the dismal path dictated by the Unified Theory of Stupidity, we come closer to making Hamlet’s words a fulfilled prophecy: “This goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.”
Indeed, what a piece of work is man.
— Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail him at email@example.com.