Farenheit 9/11: Indispensibly Incoherent

Irfan Khawaja calmly points out the dumbfounding contradictions in the reviews of Michael Moore's latest tour de sophisme. For example:

Todd Gitlin’s review in Open Democracy calls Fahrenheit 9/11 a “shoddy work”: the film’s “sloppy insinuations, emotional blackmail and all–around demagoguery,” he argues, are an affront to one’s “conscience,” and make it the moral equivalent of a beer commercial. The same conscientious concern induces Gitlin to describe Fahrenheit 9/11 somewhat paradoxically as a moral necessity. Meanwhile, he lionizes Moore himself as a “master demagogue.”

Check out the rest for more smart meta-reviewing.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

26 thoughts

  1. “In other words, it’s not about science”. Well, exactly; you and he haven’t, actually, made a scientific statement at all about your opponents’ opinions. You’ve just assumed bad faith and dismissed them based on pernicious motives that you’ve invented out of whole cloth.
    Look, you (and I) have different opinions that the people you’re talking about on the empirical questions of climate change. Why assume bad faith and corrupt motives? Can’t they just disagree with your assessment of the world and what the factual evidence says about it? I would remind you that there are a great many climatologists– you know, people who know more about the subject than you or I– among those who have deep concern about this issue. They’re really lying? They really don’t think that the empirical data that they’ve rigorously assembled in confronting the question of a warming climate supports such worry? They’re really just so dedicated to the mission of “the far left” that they’ll abandon their professional and personal integrity and ethics, all in order to… destroy capitalism by advocating that people use less carbon, I guess. Truly, this is supervillainy.
    We can’t all strap on our mental X-ray specs and peer into the (twisted, evil!) minds of those we disagree with. Instead we’ve got to muddle through, and make the best out of the information available to us. You don’t agree with those people about climate change. Fair enough. Neither do I, entirely. I don’t pretend, however, to have such unique access to truth that I can in any way crawl inside the minds of my opponents and declare their sinister motives. I can see the appeal of thinking that you can detect ulterior motives and bad faith in everyone that you don’t like; it means you avoid having to engage in the messy business of figuring out what’s right that the rest of us have to go through. But I don’t think that it’s any way to pursue either a workable understanding of human life, or to develop a moral and pragmatically sound public policy.

    1. Wow, I think this is the first time I’ve ever agreed with a Freddie post.
      My problem with the ad hominem response to global warming is that even if it is true (and in fact, I think it is true; environmentalism is the last refuge of many a left-statist scoundrel), it doesn’t tell us much one way or another about the truth value of the scientific claims being made. It may give us reason to discount pronouncements made by Al Gore, but you have to believe in a vast conspiracy far beyond the one posited by 9/11 Truthers to discount the consensus of climatologists as politically motivated.
      On the other hand, when people like Ted Turner start wailing about how “Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals” by mid-century due to global warming and overpopulation…

    2. Freddie,
      “Why assume bad faith and corrupt motives?” There is plenty of evidence of bad faith, including the fact that one cannot offer reasoned skepticism about the wisdom of dramatic action on climate change without having one’s motives attacked and being accused of bad faith. It’s tiring having people constantly trying to bully you, who then accuse you of indifference to reasoned debate when you, in exasperation, point out their evident aversion to it.
      Did you read the 100 months piece? Is it not a bullying attempt to cut short the debate, to cast further reasoned deliberation as too dangerous to contemplate? As a champion of sober argumentative virtue, what do you think of that kind of tactic?

      1. So the words of some random idiot speak for the whole of a group he professes to be a part of? Or are you just looking for a quick way to marginalize a whole lot of people that are smarter than you?

  2. How can you tell when a Communist propagandist is lying? When his lips move.
    Ad hominem arguments are not enough when one is considering the logic of an argument, but I don’t have to believe everything I can’t prove to be false.
    So Hugo Chavez says red wine goes well with lamb. Perhaps, but if he says so, I will assume it could be a lie.
    The moral character of a person does not tell you if what he says is logical, but it sure helps determine how much credence to give.

  3. Yeah, sadly the liberal, progressive ideas of “let’s try to help everyone get healthcare and do better for themselves” HAVE fallen on deaf ears…you’re at least right about that.

    1. No – the lefts argument is “Since all you rich people use too much we are going to take what you work for and give it away, no matter what the person we giving it to has done to desrve any help.”
      When you give half of your salery away then I might use you as an example, until then go away – far, far away.

      1. Because everyone in America that is suffering right now, is suffering because they don’t “work hard enough” or “don’t deserve any help.” Give me a break. Those with incomes of over 250,000 per year should have the obligation of being taxed equally. There is no reason why a millionaire should be taxed less than someone who makes under 50,000. Say what you want about “I worked hard for my money” but I’ll bet you anything that you can find millions of people who are struggling who work just as hard if not harder for their 45,000/yr. than their millionaire counterparts.
        Oh and as for the right’s claims that all democrats want to do is ‘tax and spend,” last time I remember, Democrats left this country with a surplus, Bush and his cronies have left us with a record deficit. Give me a balanced budget and higher taxes for the rich any day.

  4. I’m sorry but are all the photographs of receding glaciers doctored fakes? The shrinking of the arctic circle is fabricated? Climate change is observable fact. You can argue that it might not be humanities fault, you can argue that it might not be bad, but to argue that it isn’t happening implies a conspiracy far beyond the capability of liberals.

  5. It is only some Republicans that deny the overwhelming evidence of global warming. How do they arrive at that view? Is it because Exon or a coal mine owner or other conservative voice tells them it is not so? The author looks young enough to be able to experience the coming effects. Will he then re-examine how he arrives at his beliefs?

  6. Why is it the right wing believes in the Rapture, something that has no scientific basis whatsoever, yet does not believe in global warming? Like all scientific hypotheses it has subjected itself to vigorous peer review, and, while there are always a few who disagree, the great majority of the scientific community agree with the basic premise. Just because some scientists differ does not invalidate the theory. Remember when a two-time Nobel Prize winning scientist announced that large doses of vitamin C prevented cancer? The scientific method, with vigorous peer review of all papers, proved otherwise. Also, look at the scientists who claim otherwise. Most are funded by the energy companies or the right-wing think tanks.

  7. I wish the right wing homosexuals would stop having sex with each other long enough to look into education. It really works. seriously look into issues before you spout off what bush, buchanan and fox tell you to.

  8. “I think the point is that the clock really is ticking. If we don’t “do something” soon, we’ll probably see that we don’t really need to do anything really dramatic, and then the window for radical social change will be closed. So I expect the volume to get much louder.”
    An interesting post, but here’s where you’re missing the point. The reason for demanding a certain urgency now is precisely so REALLY radical social change won’t be required. The longer we wait, the shorter the implementation window, and the greater the shock. We also run the risk of missing the window altogether in our ignorance- hell, we could have missed it already.
    Not to understate the issue, but riding your bike, changing a few lightbulbs, and building some windmills have far less impact on our society than rolling blackouts and a catastrophe-of-the-week. Hell, I’m pretty sure it’s also a hell of a lot cheaper.

  9. Science has shown that the climate has shifted from hot to cold due to catastrophic events like comets colliding into the Earth and wiping out a majority of species on the planet. The norm is HOT and WITHOUT glaciers… But don’t worry! It WILL happen again! Give it a millennium or two! IF people would look into the real science and not the tall tales given by extremists, then there would not be such panic over nothing. However, it gives the politicos a means of deflecting our attention from important problems such as the people in office should be tarred and feathered and new people put into office, perhaps without the R or D party affiliations…

  10. fellas, perhaps you should take some classes on this subject before you start talking about it? The temperature change observed over the past 100 years is .5 degrees Celsius +/- .3 degrees Celsius. What does that tell us besides that there was a change in temperature where temperature was gathered? Nothing. Everything beyond that is an educated guess. Was it the agricultural revolution and the rise in methane levels that got us here? or the industrial revolution? increased solar activity? Who knows?
    What we do know is that the earth is not the fragile, helpless thing it is so often claimed to be (If theres one thing I hate about arguments like these, it’s the idea that we need to keep the earth the way it is. Really? When we have already stalled the scheduled ice age that would have people raving about global winter? I am rambling ). The younger dryas (look it up, it will be good for you), the cretaceous, where temperatures were 6 degrees Celsius hotter, the little ice age, whatever- life *adapts* to change, always had, always will. So then the earth does also.

  11. The thing that hit me immediately when all the AGW pronouncements and panics started hitting the media was how it all missed the “medieval warm” period.
    During this period, the Vikings had colonized Greenland and were farming there. I’ve flown to Europe, I’ve seen southern Greenland from the air — if they were raising crops there, climate was very, very different than today.
    So I know that climate has been changing toward the cooler side of things for a thousand years. I also know that there have been ice ages where much of Europe and North America were encased. If I were to be worried about climate change, it would make sense that I should be more fearful of Natural Global Cooling than Anthropogenic Global Warming.
    That Global Warming theorists have been thoroughly infiltrated by Luddites and “environmental” political groups enthralled by a Hobbesian state of nature (“nasty, brutish, and short”) only reinforces the initial perception. People who look to strangle the world’s economy, doom billions to economic stagnation, and enforce total elitist control over all activities producing CO2 (including breathing) should be fought at every turn.

  12. Modern environmentalists are the first group in the history of this planet to be concerned that the planet is getting warmer, rather than cooler.
    They are also the first group arrogant enough to believe that they can change the planet’s climate.

  13. What exactly are the environmentalists trying to get you to do in order to combat global warming, that you shouldn’t be doing anyway to live in a healthier, more sustainable way? Nothing. Everything they’ve asked you to do, you should be doing for a multitude of reasons besides the chance that the global climate may change.
    Remember that pollution (not just greenhouse gases) is BAD for you? Affects your lungs? Gets in your water? Affects the brains of developing embryos?
    Don’t people realize that our drinking water is inundated with prescription drugs and agricultural chemicals?
    The point is that we can’t (mathematically impossible) continue living the way we’re living indefinitely. We are approaching the right-wall of our ability to expand. We HAVE to change. Only a deluded fool would deny that.
    So why the level of animosity towards the people trying to spur us into action, trying to prevent catastrophe? We know we have to change, so why NOT start now? Because we’re lazy, entitled, spoiled, and completely sheltered from reality. Not because of any conspiracies either way.
    So the next time you think about what a whackjob some environmentalist or another is … take a moment to actually consider what they’re asking you to do, and you’ll realize that what they’re asking you to do may be uncomfortable, but is better for you in the long run WHETHER OR NOT GLOBAL WARMING ITSELF is the danger.
    I’m disappointed that the environmentalists have let the entire discussion be reduced to just whether or not human activity will increase the overall temperature of the climate. Temperature isn’t the only thing that is killing us. Overpopulation, pollution, and damage to our biological communities will kill us too, and they require the same solutions.

  14. They can’t get the path of a hurricane correct. And people still believe the PREDICTIONS of computers for global warming, that amazes me.

  15. Eric: I don’t react well to being given false pretexts for what people want to force me to do. If there’s a real reason hiding under there, out with it, and I’ll make up my own mind on each proposed action. No need to snooker me into it “for my own good.”

  16. Eric – I’ll take a little pollution rather than go back to living in caves. We’ve never lived longer so I doubt the link between pollution and health is anywhere near as strong as the one between poverty and death.

  17. Also Eric – there’s no such thing as ‘clean’ anything (water,air,or whatever you care to name). You may want to look up the word ‘inundated’ before you use it to describe the level of contaminants in our water supply. And finally, what mathematics say we can’t keep living like this – I bet is says the same for life period! Get a grip and wake up – in 10 years when this nonsense has been replaced by the next idiocy of the collectivists you’ll either be wise to them and laugh – or you’re gonna have a pretty sad life (and it’ll be way longer than you think – just to twist the knife).

  18. *Why assume bad faith and corrupt motives? Can’t they just disagree with your assessment of the world and what the factual evidence says about it?*
    But this is exactly the modus operandi of the climate-change fanatics: it is THEY who are characterized by a failure to make scientific statements.
    As for `the climatologists’, you’ll find that their actual peer-reviewed statements on climate change are a great deal more… nuanced than the fanatics – chief among them Al Gore – are ready to make.

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