Updated Feb. 25….. Dr. Gleick and the group of unreliable reporters, known as the the main stream media (MSM), have done it again. What did they do? They simply manufactured information to imply that someone with different views was some how evil or bad. Manufacturing news or information is lying. Repeating that lie without checking its voracity is both lying and negligent. While organized religion may pay lip service to honest an open information exchange, science does not exist with it.
We all know from life experience and reading many of the other essays here that this behaviour has a long and well documented history. I don’t think it hyperbolae to say, going right back to the founding of societies. We have already addressed the problem faced by the true believer. You know it. It is acceptable for me to do or say this or that but not you, since you disagree with me and “god is on my side”.
Another example of the ends being used to justify the means. Something men do all the time. In my essay More Thoughts On Communications , I examined Niccolo Macchiavelli’s famous statements on this and the questionable news resulting from the situation at Fukushima. In other essays I have quoted Niccolo and explained the context. I also pointed out I have been unable to find any philosophical defence/justification for the ends justifying the means thinking. If the reader knows of any please share.
Dr. Gleick’s false information was motivated by a profound belief in his position on AGW. In his mind, his faith out weighs all else. That by the way, was the same general thinking behind the Inquisition, the burning of the Library of Alexandria and any number of atrocities perpetrated by one group of people on another.
Niccolo Macchiavelli may or may not have believed in the correctness of his statements. We do not know this. We do know he was “telling it as he saw it” from the prospective of the powerful and thought to be sovereign, of his day. This is the same motivation that moderns, often politicians use is their efforts to power. The fact that it applied to all history before ±1450 (and all since) was not lost on him.
In sum it is always justified as being done for the “greater good”. Since it is the powerful that tend to define the greater good, that which they desire or believe…I think you see where this is going.
Leo Strauss argued that Machiavelli may have seen himself as influenced by some ideas from classical materialists such as Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius. Strauss however sees this also as a sign of major innovation in Machiavelli, because classical materialists did not share the Socratic regard for political life, while Machiavelli clearly did. It is true that the philosophers held philosophy above politics. Niccolo, while influence by the others, was first a politician. Like all politicians and true believers he would agree that the “prince” must do and say what ever it takes to reach is objective. That folks is hypocrisy and lying, flat out and little more.
There in lay the problem we must all at one time or another face. That is recognizing when to set aside one’s faith to maintain the greater unbiased good. It should be noted that the ancients the Socratic and per Socratic thinkers attempted to address all the same questions we moderns are still struggling to address.
Thanks Josh for the great cartoon, as always it hits the mark. Subsequent to my preperation of the above I learned that Dr. Gleick has lectured the U.S. Senate on “deceitful tactics“. That was in 2007 but it now smacks of the pot calling the kettle black. His remarks are here. You can get your own copy. Politicians and true believers are more then willing to say or do anything to get their way. That is simply the application of the means to end argument noted above.
Unfortunately this is not and never has been about science. It is and has always been about public policy. The two sides are now polarized and fractures. Both are wrong!
Keep a skeptical eye and remember Mother Nature plays with loaded dice.