Good Friday Morning! Justice Kavanaugh. It has a beautiful ring to it. And we’re finally through with that brutal nomination process. That sets us up for the looming midterms in a few weeks. I have an article up on the Conservative Institute talking about my thoughts on the current electoral landscape. I don’t have much more to add to that piece. I’d only emphasize that you should absolutely keep an eye out for the October surprise storyline, and also watch and see how Americans perceive Trump as cleanup begins in the wake of Hurricane Michael.
This week I’m doing a grab-bag of sorts of various stories that got swallowed up by the Kavanaugh news cycle. Links follow.
Where you can find me this week
Make sure to sign up for the Conservative Institute’s daily newsletter. You can also go to their Facebook page. You can join Ricochet here. And I do recommend their ever-growing network of podcasts, which you can find on all popular podcast platforms. They have a show for every topic you can imagine, and the list continues to grow.
In this piece, I walk through all the various media reports the press gave during the Kavanaugh hearings and why they were knowingly grossly irresponsible. They picked a side in the Senate fight and threw all their standards out of the window to defeat Kavanaugh. And this is apart from the Ford allegations.
My take on where the midterms race stands just a few weeks out. The GOP has a narrow path they can take to retain power in Congress, but they’ll need help.
Fake studies underscore the replication crisis in academia
Quillette Magazine — a growing website of influence, most would consider it on the right — published an investigative article by three academics. These three professors targeted academic journals that focused on “grievance studies.” That would include your typical politically correct, social justice, Marxist, way-leftist journals. I’ll let them describe the rest:
For the past year scholars James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian have sent fake papers to various academic journals which they describe as specialising in activism or “grievance studies.” Their stated mission has been to expose how easy it is to get “absurdities and morally fashionable political ideas published as legitimate academic research.”
To date, their project has been successful: seven papers have passed through peer review and have been published, including a 3000 word excerpt of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, rewritten in the language of Intersectionality theory and published in the Gender Studies journal Affilia.
It’s a trip.
It’s also not the first time. Some of the same academics involved above showed the results of some fake papers they published in 2017. They had several counterfeit papers published there too.
And in 2016, the New York Times published a fascinating story of the world of “fake academia,” where you can get degrees to order or dissertations created just for you.
All of these fake papers and fake academics covers only the last few years. And you have to overlay the lack of any rigor in the humanities on top of the replication crisis in many of the soft sciences. Psychology, particularly social psychology, has gotten hammered by that crisis since nearly everything is up for debate.
What this episode and others are teaching us is that the humanities are rapidly losing any form of credibility. Professors who faced no challenge for their niche degrees are writing academic papers for journals that can’t tell the difference between a real or fake paper. And then these same people are trying to reshape society around theories they have that they can’t prove or validate.
I view some of the grievance studies majors as nothing more than glorified English majors who couldn’t make it harder disciplines. They effectively write what they feel and expect us to take it as scientific fact since they have PhDs.
I’m waiting for more massive hammers like this one to drop in Political Science, the undergraduate degree I possess. Psychologists or economists do most of the interesting work in political science. Everything else in political science is either philosophy or history by another name.
Progressives are a tiny part of the culture
Keep the above fake studies in mind when you read this section; both to be skeptical about the study itself and to show how people with significant biases are coloring the grievance studies.
A story that’s made significant waves this week was a study written up in The Atlantic entitled: Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture: Youth isn’t a good proxy for support of political correctness, and race isn’t either. The meat of the piece is below:
If you look at what Americans have to say on issues such as immigration, the extent of white privilege, and the prevalence of sexual harassment, the authors argue, seven distinct clusters emerge: progressive activists, traditional liberals, passive liberals, the politically disengaged, moderates, traditional conservatives, and devoted conservatives.
According to the report, 25 percent of Americans are traditional or devoted conservatives, and their views are far outside the American mainstream. Some 8 percent of Americans are progressive activists, and their views are even less typical. By contrast, the two-thirds of Americans who don’t belong to either extreme constitute an “exhausted majority.” Their members “share a sense of fatigue with our polarized national conversation, a willingness to be flexible in their political viewpoints, and a lack of voice in the national conversation.”
Most members of the “exhausted majority,” and then some, dislike political correctness. Among the general population, a full 80 percent believe that “political correctness is a problem in our country.” Even young people are uncomfortable with it, including 74 percent ages 24 to 29, and 79 percent under age 24. On this particular issue, the woke are in a clear minority across all ages.
Youth isn’t a good proxy for support of political correctness—and it turns out race isn’t, either.
Whites are ever so slightly less likely than average to believe that political correctness is a problem in the country: 79 percent of them share this sentiment. Instead, it is Asians (82 percent), Hispanics (87percent), and American Indians (88 percent) who are most likely to oppose political correctness.
The one part of the standard narrative that the data partially affirm is that African Americans are most likely to support political correctness. But the difference between them and other groups is much smaller than generally supposed: Three quarters of African Americans oppose political correctness. This means that they are only four percentage points less likely than whites, and only five percentage points less likely than the average, to believe that political correctness is a problem.
If age and race do not predict support for political correctness, what does? Income and education.
When you boil it down, the authors only found one group of people who liked and enforced politically correct culture: progressives.
So what does this group look like? Compared with the rest of the (nationally representative) polling sample, progressive activists are much more likely to be rich, highly educated—and white. They are nearly twice as likely as the average to make more than $100,000 a year. They are nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree. And while 12 percent of the overall sample in the study is African American, only 3 percent of progressive activists are. With the exception of the small tribe of devoted conservatives, progressive activists are the most racially homogeneous group in the country.
Progressives are rich white people living in major cities who look down on everyone else (some of this should explain some of the grievance studies biases above). And I think what made me laugh the most is how little in common progressives have with any other group.
Artistically, progressives paint themselves in the media as this inclusive group of people that represent all races and creeds. But when you break them down, that picture vanishes.
Anecdotally, I think you can prove this point too by looking at the cities that represent this type of culture and seeing how they treat minorities. Noah Smith, a liberal economic writer for Bloomberg Opinion, often says that NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) is the new form of redlining (keeping certain races out of neighborhoods via banking regulations). And he points to wealthy, progressive communities in the San Francisco area to prove his point.
Instances like Marion County, where progressive communities are segregated and regularly refuse to grant any low-income housing, even though they preach the need for it. You also get some in those town hall meeting accusing those of wanting to build low-income housing as turning over the county to the ghetto.
When you combine Noah Smith’s observation with the Atlantic study above, it’s this interesting hypocrisy where coastal elites, mostly whites, are preaching a politically correct culture they try to force on everyone through culture. But when push comes to shove, they’re actually among the most prejudiced people in the country. And they’re the smallest of all segments.
The very unscientific IPCC report
The latest IPCC report is out, and as usual, people are scaremongering off of it. The IPCC reports, for those who don’t follow, are the main studies put out covering global warming.
My problem with these reports is less about the warming part, and more about the conclusions, solutions, and lack of science behind them. The temperature part is the most natural part of this entire endeavor. Meteorologists keep detailed records of the temperatures of various places, and we can compare those records over time and see trend lines across years, decades, and longer. And from that, you can point to distinct warming across the planet.
The IPCC report isn’t so much a scientific report as it is a model based on statistical probabilities. Every single prediction they make is based on a range of confidence where they’ve run various models to predict what will happen. And we’ve seen the accuracy of their models in the past — they’ve failed consistently. Nate Silver, no conservative, even wrote about the failure of climate models in his book “The Signal and the Noise.”
Secondly, they make brash predictions of bad weather and blame all that lousy weather on warming temperatures. One of the predictions they make is that stronger hurricanes will appear, and they blame all recent hurricanes on global warming.
Here’s the problem: if theories on global warming are correct, that doesn’t mean more or stronger hurricanes. It could say the opposite. Warmer temperatures increase water temperature, which is a main ingredient for hurricanes. Do you know what other component is vital for hurricanes?
Low wind shear.
Stronger hurricanes require lower wind shear to develop properly. If you look at Hurricane Michael’s development during the last day, when it strengthened quickly, the wind shear working against it dropped significantly. The Associated Press had this report on that fact:
And none of the factors that hold a storm back were present, especially something called “wind shear.” Wind shear is when there’s a mismatch either in speed or direction between winds near the surface and those five to six miles (8 to 10 kilometers) up.
That mismatch “pushes the storm over” or decapitates it, Kossin said. When the wind shear near Michael eased, the storm took off, he said.
“It’s kind of like someone was holding on to it when it was trying to run and they let it go,” Kossin said.
Think of wind shear like a restrainer, and when that got removed, Michael was able to take advantage of all the factors that made it stronger (for a more in-depth explanation on the how’s and why’s, start here).
Current NOAA research says that wind shear increases with global warming, which would, counterintuitively, counteract the issue of stronger hurricanes. Specifically:
A key finding of this study is the projected increase in wind shear over the tropical Atlantic and eastern Pacific ocean basins during the next century. Wind shear results from a change in direction or speed of winds between the lower and upper levels of the atmosphere and is widely recognized to inhibit the development and intensification of tropical cyclones.
And you can keep going through the IPCC report, poking holes in it, because its authors aren’t interested in science, only the conclusion.
You get that sense when solutions come into play because the answer that would create clean renewable energy overnight is nuclear energy. And the IPCC goes out of its way to attack nuclear power. Michael Shellenberger at Forbes dismantled the IPCC over this point:
“Nuclear energy,” write IPCC authors, “can increase the risks of proliferation, have negative environmental effects (e.g., for water use), and have mixed effects for human health when replacing fossil fuels.”
In fact, study after study over the last 40 years finds that nuclear is the safest way to make reliable electricity, and climate scientists found that nuclear energy has saved 1.8 million lives by preventing premature deaths from air pollution.
Where nuclear was 19% of U.S. electricity last year, solar and wind still constitute just 1.3 and 6.3% of electricity in the U.S., and 1.3% and 3.9% of electricity globally.
And yet IPCC repeatedly characterizes nuclear as inherently flawed in contrast to renewables whose problems can be solved through “policy interventions.”
In reality, there is no policy intervention that can change the physics of making electricity.
Solar farms (like California’s Ivanpah) require up to 5,000 times more land per unit of energy than nuclear plants (like California’s Diablo Canyon) because sunlight is energy-dilute and uranium is energy-dense.
IPCC authors promote “policy interventions” to “enhance affordability” for renewables, but never suggest similar “policy interventions” for nuclear.
And IPCC authors note that “Bundling energy-efficient appliances” with renewables can reduce costs — which is true, but combining energy efficient appliances with nuclear (or any other energy source) would have the same effect.
The report comes days after two major scientific papers published by Harvard University professors found that “the transition to wind or solar power in the U.S. would require five to 20 times more land than previously thought, and, if such large-scale wind farms were built, would warm average surface temperatures over the continental U.S. by 0.24 degrees Celsius.”
There’s more, and I recommend his entire piece.
The long and short of it is this: it’s perfectly fine to say we need to work on better solutions to prevent the rise of global temperatures. The Paris Agreement was not one of the answers. To borrow an observation from foreign policy cynicism, there’s a reason all the world signed on to an agreement like that — and it’s not because they cared about the environment. The US is already the world leader on having clean energy. Nuclear power provides an answer now, with other technological improvements in the future far outstripping wind and solar.
Moving towards nuclear power is useful beyond the environment, it frees us from having to buy energy from other countries and makes us energy independent. This freedom is a good goal that’s well worth pursuing by itself. If the US and Europe were energy independent, it would deal severe blows to oil-dependent countries like Russia and bad actors in the Middle East.
The IPCC’s scaremongering will be wrong because it’s always wrong and it’s based on flawed models of the world and weather. But we can take steps that conserve the environment and achieve other goals beneficial to the United States. And when partisans reject these solutions, it’s telling because it reveals they never cared about the environment, only the state power it gives them.
Links of the week
A Trio of Wealthy Russians Made an Enemy of Putin. Now They’re All Dead.: Nikolai Glushkov, a close associate of the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, was preparing to testify that Aeroflot was a corrupt instrument of Russian intelligence
Two Students Hooked Up. It Was Clearly Consensual. He Still Spent $12,000 Defending Himself.: A brief romantic encounter at UC-Davis triggered a Title IX investigation after the female student changed her mind about it weeks later.
Peter Jackson Restored and Colorized 100 Hours of World War I Footage, and the Final Results are Remarkable — Watch The director’s new documentary, “They Shall Not Grow Old,” brings to life World War I on the big screen like never before.
Satire piece of the week
CINCINNATI, OH — Calling the device the perfect addition to any bathroom with loud acoustics or thin walls, Febreze officials announced Wednesday that the company had released a new air horn for covering up unpleasant bathroom sounds. “Pesky, embarrassing bodily functions are simply no match for Febreze’s new ThunderClap Air Horn—just one deafening blast, and that’s all anyone will hear,” said company spokesperson Clara Jung, adding that their product’s specialized, high-pitched siren was specifically designed to hide reverberations up to volumes of 15 decibels. “From routine bathroom sounds to something as loud as a groan, Febreze’s new air horn can mask it all. That’s because Febreze’s patented air horn goes deep and emits sound waves that don’t just cover up the noise, they also deafen everyone around it.” At press time, Febreze announced plans to release an accompanying plug-in air horn able to fill bathrooms with a constant stream of cacophonous noise for six months at a time.
Thanks for reading!