Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I knew Megan McArdle's twitter would be a gold mine. She's even more arrogant in there than on her blog.

Here she is crowing about her "gotcha":
Internet connection, $30. Blogging software, $49.99. Reveling in the full majesty of editorial hypocrisy: priceless.
3:19 PM Feb 8th from TweetDeck

The hypocrisy was The New York Times' rejection of the privatization of Social Security and approval of health insurance reform. See, if the Times rejected unpopular changes in SS, it should have rejected unpopular changes in health insurance reform. Except the latter isn't unpopular. McArdle simply dismissed any poll numbers she didn't agree with.

Prep school education: $252,000 (including junior high--$144,000 for high school only). University education: $100,000. Being unable to think her way out of a wet paper bag: priceless.

Memo to bloggers/blog commenters . . . "fails to agree with me" is not the actual definition of any of these: stupid, ignorant, confused
6:50 PM Feb 8th from TweetDeck

Memo to blogger: Jonah Goldberg called. He wants his schtick of redefining words to make himself feel better about criticism back.

Dad informs me that third snowstorm may be coming towards DC. Organizing house-to-house search. Al Gore must be hiding somewhere in city.

4:10 PM Feb 8th from TweetDeck Okay, Democrats: you promised me global warming. If I don't get it soon, I'm voting GOP in November. #brokencampaignpromises
3:20 PM Feb 8th from TweetDeck

Her sweetie pie is being paid by climate change deniers, you know. Two of Reason Foundation's donors are/have been oil billionaire David H. Koch and Exxon. Reason Foundation's current president worked for Shell.

Wired published an interesting interview with sociologist Kari Marie Norgaard about the psychology of climate change denial. talked to Norgaard about the divide between science and public opinion. Why don’t people seem to care?

Kari Norgaard: On the one hand, there have been extremely well-organized, well-funded climate-skeptic campaigns. Those are backed by Exxon Mobil in particular, and the same PR firms who helped the tobacco industry (.pdf) deny the link between cancer and smoking are involved with magnifying doubt around climate change.

That’s extremely important, but my work has been in a different area. It’s been about people who believe in science, who aren’t out to question whether science has a place in society. People who are coming at the issue in good faith, you mean. What’s their response?

Norgaard: Climate change is disturbing. It’s something we don’t want to think about. So what we do in our everyday lives is create a world where it’s not there, and keep it distant.

For relatively privileged people like myself, we don’t have to see the impact in everyday life. I can read about different flood regimes in Bangladesh, or people in the Maldives losing their islands to sea level rise, or highways in Alaska that are altered as permafrost changes. But that’s not my life. We have a vast capacity for this. How is this bubble maintained?

Norgaard: In order to have a positive sense of self-identity and get through the day, we’re constantly being selective of what we think about and pay attention to. To create a sense of a good, safe world for ourselves, we screen out all kinds of information, from where food comes from to how our clothes our made. When we talk with our friends, we talk about something pleasant. How does this translate into skepticism about climate change?

Norgaard: It’s a paradox. Awareness has increased. There’s been a lot more information available. This is much more in our face. And this is where the psychological defense mechanisms are relevant, especially when coupled with the fact that other people, as we’ve lately seen with the e-mail attacks, are systematically trying to create the sense that there’s doubt.

If I don’t want to believe that climate change is true, that my lifestyle and high carbon emissions are causing devastation, then it’s convenient to say that it doesn’t. Is that what this comes down to — not wanting to confront our own roles?

Norgaard: I think so. And the reason is that we don’t have a clear sense of what we can do. Any community organizer knows that if you want people to respond to something, you need to tell them what to do, and make it seem do-able. Stanford University psychologist Jon Krosnick has studied this, and showed that people stop paying attention to climate change when they realize there’s no easy solution. People judge as serious only those problems for which actions can be taken.

Another factor is that we no longer have a sense of permanence. Another psychologist, Robert Lifton, wrote about what the existence of atomic bombs did to our psyche. There was a sense that the world could end at any moment.

Global warming is the same in that it threatens the survival of our species. Psychologists tell us that it’s very important to have a sense of the continuity of life. That’s why we invest in big monuments and want our work to stand after we die and have our family name go on.

That sense of continuity is being ruptured. But climate change has an added aspect that is very important. The scientists who built nuclear bombs felt guilt about what they did. Now the guilt is real for the broader public. So we don’t want to believe climate change is happening, feel guilty that it is, and don’t know what to do about it? So we pretend it’s not a problem?

Norgaard: Yes, but I don’t want to make it seem crass. Sometimes people who are very empathetic are less likely to help in certain situations, because they’re so disturbed by it. The human capacity of empathy is really profound, and that’s part of our weakness. If we were more callous, then we’d approach it in a more straightforward way. It may be a weakness of our capacity as sentient beings to cope with this problem.

Not to mention all that lovely money given out to hacks who will prostitute themselves for the mega corporations.


Clever Pseudonym said...

Memo to Megan: "fails to agree with me" and "stupid, ignorant, confused" are not mutually exclusive*. A person can be both at the same time.

Another memo to Megan: that MasterCard joke stopped being funny about eight years ago.

*you may need to look this up, as I can recall you using the term incorrectly on a number of occasions.

Kathy said...

Apparently the highest form of Wit is quoting titles of kid's books written decades ago, and idiotic catch phrases from commercials. Wait till she starts saying "Where's the Beef?"

Downpuppy said...

On the whole, Megans twitter is no worse than Chuck Todd's

Anonymous said...

Thanks for publishing the link to the Noorsgard article, Susan. I'm actually trying to figure out a way to segue into this field--I'm really interested in studying how information flows and human psychology are affecting people's ability to make informed, educated, moral choices about political things. You see this issue all the time when you look at the teabaggers, the climate change denialists, the abstinence absolutists and lots of other small, noisy, political communities in this country.


zhakora said...

I'd say Mother Nature has a pretty well-honed sense of irony to pick on DC so thoroughly, actually. It couldn't happen to a nicer group of people -- but their infantile response, grounded in the inability to tell the difference between climate & weather grates.

Only a truly stupid person would say "it's snowing, global warming is the bunk!"