2017/01/04

James Taylor: Peer-Reviewed Survey Finds Majority Of Scientists Skeptical Of Global Warming Crisis

Scott Adams says to Show this article to a climate change worrier and watch the cognitive dissonance happen. It will be fun. (Seriously.). The article is Peer-Reviewed Survey Finds Majority Of Scientists Skeptical Of Global Warming Crisis by James Taylor.

Don’t look now, but maybe a scientific consensus exists concerning global warming after all. Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. By contrast, a strong majority of the 1,077 respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.

The survey results show geoscientists (also known as earth scientists) and engineers hold similar views as meteorologists. Two recent surveys of meteorologists (summarized here and here) revealed similar skepticism of alarmist global warming claims.

According to the newly published survey of geoscientists and engineers, merely 36 percent of respondents fit the “Comply with Kyoto” model. The scientists in this group “express the strong belief that climate change is happening, that it is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main or central cause.”

Emphasis Mine

It would appear that Adams read Taylor's article and stopped at confirmation bias. But since Taylor's article severly challenged my views, I read the original paper rather than let cognitive dissonance happen.

As for the other papers,

In the Organization Studies paper (Lefsrud and Meyer (2012)), the abstract says:

This paper examines the framings and identity work associated with professionals’ discursive construction of climate change science, their legitimation of themselves as experts on ‘the truth’, and their attitudes towards regulatory measures. Drawing from survey responses of 1077 professional engineers and geoscientists, we reconstruct their framings of the issue and knowledge claims to position themselves within their organizational and their professional institutions. In understanding the struggle over what constitutes and legitimizes expertise, we make apparent the heterogeneity of claims, legitimation strategies, and use of emotionality and metaphor. By linking notions of the science or science fiction of climate change to the assessment of the adequacy of global and local policies and of potential organizational responses, we contribute to the understanding of ‘defensive institutional work’ by professionals within petroleum companies, related industries, government regulators, and their professional association.

Emphasis Mine

The paper would then appear to be about the cognitive dissonance of those professionals within the petroleum industry as they try to reconcile their work with reality. So, Adams could be right in a way that he does not expect. Here, I equate cognitive dissonance with defensive institutional work.

Lefsrud and Meyer (2012) write about their sample:

Given our nonprobability sample, there are limitations. First, though it is not our intent to generalize to larger populations but to create theoretical generalizability, response bias is still a possible concern. However, such concern is reduced by the accessibility of the survey to all APEGA members without any systematic exclusion, the fact that members were responding to a survey by their regulator as they normally would, the respectable size of our sample, and the apparent representativeness of respondents to the membership as a whole. Second, framings are socio-historical constructions — embedded in specific worldviews, social positions, and interests that are bounded in space and time. Thus, the specific socio-economic location of our group of experts — the constellation of professional designations and industries, and the relevance of the petroleum industry for Alberta — may influence the findings, especially the frequency of frames. In addition, while these experts’ framings may have represented those of October 2007 in Alberta, Canada, the science and policy positions may have since shifted there as elsewhere.

Emphasis Mine

I understand this to mean what Upton Sinclair once wrote:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

THis seems to accord with one of the conclusions to :

Third, we show that the consensus of IPCC experts meets a much larger, and again heterogenous, sceptical group of experts in the relevant industries and organizations (at least in Alberta) than is generally assumed. We find that climate science scepticism is not limited to the scientifically illiterate (per Hoffman, 2011a), but well ensconced within this group of professional experts with scientific training — who work as leaders or advisors to management in governmental, non-governmental, and corporate organizations. Following Levy and Rothenberg’s (2002) examination of the automotive industry, we find that professional experts employed in the petroleum industry are more likely to be sceptical of the IPCC and of anthropogenic climate change. Given this, the defensive institutional work of these professionals to maintain existing institutions clearly exceeds the mere maintenance of ‘routines and rituals of their reproduction’ (Lawrence & Suddaby, 2006, p. 234). Marquis and Lounsbury (2007) suggest that banking professionals are more able to resist due to their stronger professional identity; Jonsson (2009) finds that professional resistance differs across firms, depending upon the relative influence of professionals and the logics associated. Our research connects and extends these findings to understand how defensive institutional work is performed in response to insider-driven challenges. We find that the heterogeneity of professionals’ framings is a function of their degree of identification/mobilization with others (as suggested by Marquis & Lounsbury, 2007) but is also a function of their degree of defensiveness against others (as suggested by Maguire & Hardy, 2009), even other insiders. Further, these professionals’ framings are also linked to their position within their firm (as suggested by Jonsson, 2009), to their industry, and to the industry’s relevance for the region (Levy & Rothenberg, 2002). We discuss this in more detail below. Hence, our findings give greater granularity in understanding which professionals are more likely to resist, why and how they will resist, and who is more likely to be successful.

Emphasis Mine

In other words, the more strongly professionals identify with the petroleum industry, the more likely they are to be climate change skeptics. And the more strongly they identify with their profession, the more strongly they accept the consensus of climate science researchers. Thus, the cognitive dissonance appears to happen with the skeptics.


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2017/01/02

Arash Azizi: After Trotskyism, what? Some personal thoughts

Arash Azizi writes about After Trotskyism, what? Some personal thoughts.

Marxists and those (like myself) who have an affinity for the 1917 tradition need to unite with others around the political and practical double goals of: 1) improving the lives of the working people and the oppressed here and now, and; 2) striving at a radical transformation of society and building of a socialist alternative to capitalism.

The strategies toward these goals will differ in different countries, based on their political conditions, the balance of classes and the existing organizations and traditions. In general, however, there is a basic fact that the revolutionary left needs to come to peace with: It needs to win power by convincing a majority of a population to support its vision. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean basically turning into an electoral machine. To slightly paraphrase Eugene Debs, elections are to socialism what a menu is to a meal. It is a fact, however, that the liberal democratic order, a system in which the government of the day is elected on the basis of universal suffrage, is now dominant across much of the globe (it is worth remembering that in Lenin’s time, it was almost entirely non-existent, hence a long Marxist struggle for universal suffrage) and wherever it isn’t, it is probably an imperative for us to unite with liberals for democratic goals. Democratic conditions can actually offer an excellent opportunity for socialists: Build support for our vision; convince a majority that we can offer a workable, real socialist alternative; and come to power and start implementing it! Of course, there would be resistant from the capitalist class and, of course, our strategy needs to take that into account too. But to move against a democratically-elected government is not an easy task, especially if it is based on an active support of millions of workers.

This might seem very mundane at the first glance but, ask yourself, how many socialists and revolutionaries are asking themselves: How can we build an organization that is ready to win support of the majority and form a government? How many are telling themselves: “The test of socialist politics is how I can win over large numbers of people, which is possible by meeting them where they are at, not by trying to be the most left-wing guy in the room?”

In asking such questions, we’d need to be forward-looking and accept that not all differences need to be solved for leftist to unite in an organization. It is silly for socialists not to be organizationally united in pursuit of goals today because they disagree over the class nature of the Soviet Union or because they have a slightly different take on the Palestinian struggle.

Building of leftist institutions that are something beyond their name, real organizations that can represent a significant portion of a country’s politics, is a very difficult task but it is rewarding at the end. It will influence the lives of the working people here and now, it will consolidate our power and it will offer a clear route to power. It will also create a space that could help blossom the kind of thinking that is needed to address the massive questions that we will face if we are to actually conduct the mammoth task of transition to socialism.

Needless to say, in building such vehicles we should never abandon the organizations that the working class has already built which, almost all over the world, means the parties that historically belong to the Second or Third Internationals. One of the mistakes of the left has been prematurely abandoning these organizations whereas the recent victory of Corbyn in the UK shows that even if your organization is led by the likes of Tony Blair, there is a chance that the left could come to power in them and start their transformation.

What we need more than ever is an end to the mentality of small circles and an audacity to prepare for real socialist change in our own lifetimes. It is time to offer the working people, our people, the political instrument that it deserves.

Emphasis Mine

Azizi's argument is for Socialists to engage with the Labour parties of the world. They are where the workers are—both physically and intellectually.

The Socialist Alliance has sufferred several splits over the years:

  1. 13 May 2008
  2. 2-3 July 2016

The position of the Socialist Alliance on the Australian Labour Party is:

The Australian Labor Party (ALP), formed more than a century ago by trade union officials and sections of the intelligentsia, now acts as a systematic agent for capitalist rule in the labour movement.

ALP governments have always defended the interests of the capitalist system and worked to contain trade union and other social movement struggles within the framework of capitalist parliamentary politics.

The ALP has fostered parliamentarism, class-collaboration, racism, xenophobia and protectionism as ways to divert the working class from seriously confronting the capitalists and their governments. It has promoted the false idea that workers in Australia have more in common with their ‘Australian’ bosses than with the working masses in other countries — particularly in the colonial and semicolonial countries. Therefore, a central part of socialist struggle in this country today is to win the working class away from the conservative domination of the ALP.

While it still retains a significant base in the working class, all ALP governments since the 1980s have played a leading role in the capitalist neoliberal offensive. With the collaboration of the trade union bureaucracy the Labor leadership has severely weakened the trade union movement and constrained it from taking independent mass action.

In this period the ALP has increasingly abandoned championing new reforms — or even defending previously won reforms — in the interest of the working class and other oppressed groups.

Emphasis Mine

The political situation in Australia has not given rise to SYRIZA, Corbyn, or Sanders. So, we cannot use those experiences in the Australian context. We need to be where the workers are, not where we think they should be.


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2016/11/25

Dan Little: Coarse-graining of complex systems

Dan Little writes about Coarse-graining of complex systems.

I am not sure whether these debates have relevance for the modeling of social phenomena. Recall my earlier discussion of the modeling of rebellion using agent-based modeling simulations (link, link, link). These models work from the unit level — the level of the individuals who interact with each other. A coarse-graining approach would perhaps replace the individual-level description with a set of groups with homogeneous properties, and then attempt to model the likelihood of an outbreak of rebellion based on the coarse-grained level of description. Would this be feasible?

Emphasis Mine

Marxists use coarse-graining as a matter of course. We have the ideas of classes with the possibility of dividing those classes into strats.

For example, we divide a Capitalist society into two (2) major classes:

  1. Capitalists
  2. Workers

There are other classes, but they do not figure in the major dynamic of the class struggle between Capitalists and Workers.

The Capitalist class can be further divided into two (2) major strata:

  1. Big Capitalists
  2. Small Capitalists

Even though Donald Trump, Mark Cuban, Eric Schmidt, and Bill Gates have wildly different temperments, histories, world-views, and political philosophies, they have enough similarities to be lumped together as Big Capitalists. Here the coarse-graining is concentrating on those attributes that are essential to model the behaviour of a typical Big Capitalist.


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2016/11/21

Chris Dillow: On class politics

Chris Dillow writes On class politics.

There is, however, a more intelligent form of class politics. This starts from the fact that class isn’t a state of mind but an objective fact: if you’re in a position of subordination to an employer, you’re working class whatever you feel. This means that being working class unites otherwise disparate people. The immigrant chambermaid, the skilled coder whose boss is a twat, and the academic facing the neoliberalization of the university are all working class.

This means they have some common interests. All would benefit from increased control in the workplace and increased bargaining power.

In this sense, class politics should be a unifying force. And there needn’t be a conflict between class politics in this sense and identity politics, for at least three reasons:

Of course, all this is easier said than done. One challenge for the left – which is as great today as in Marx’s time – is to build class consciousness. Politics isn’t just a marketing exercise aimed at getting our person into office. It’s about building a constituency for intelligent class politics. This is a long game.

But let’s remember the underlying fact here. The interests of the working class are, to a fair extent, the interests of most people. In this sense, the working class is not a problem in politics. It’s the solution.

Emphasis Mine

Thank you, Donald J. Trump, for overthrowing identity politics, and allowing class politics to reappear.

No more, the soothing voice of Barak Obama lulling us into a prison of apathy.

Trump has truly awaken us.

Now what are we going to do with this opportunity?


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2016/11/18

Chris Dillow: Ideology in economics

Chris Dillow writes about Ideology in economics.

Now, you might find this surprising. We Marxists are supposed to be spittle-flecked ideologues, and yet here I am demanding facts and utility.

But of course, there’s no paradox at all. As a Marxist, I have no skin in the game of whether the CAPM or efficient theory is right or not: such matters are orthogonal to my concerns qua Marxist. And in fact even if Robert Lucas’s main points were right — that business cycles are an optimum response to technology shocks with little welfare cost — a lot of Marxism would survive. Such claims are consistent with the notion that capitalism is exploitative and alienating and leads to unacceptable inequalities of wealth and power.

It’s sometimes said that Marxism brings ideology into economics. For me, though, it takes it out.

Emphasis Mine

Dillow is correct to insist that theory fit the facts.


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Ted Rall: Trump’s Fascism Picks Up Where Obama’s Leaves Off

Ted Rall writes that Trump’s Fascism Picks Up Where Obama’s Leaves Off.

Could President Trump deploy drones against American citizens (or non-citizens) on American soil? Yes, he could, says Obama’s attorney general Eric Holder. Obama could have declared that he — and future presidents — did not have that power. Better still, he could have asked Congress to pass a law banning domestic drone killings. Instead, he went golfing.

From what we know of Trump’s likely cabinet appointments, the next few years promise to devolve into a dystopian nightmare of authoritarian repression the likes of which few Americans ever imagined possible. As we head into the maelstrom, it will be tempting to look back fondly upon the Obama years as a period of relative calm and liberalism.

But don’t forget the truth. Fascism under Trump will merely continue Obama’s fascism with a smiley face — a fascism that we let him get away with for far too long.

Emphasis Mine

Rall is correct to point out that the instruments of State terror have been accumulating for some time. The smiling face of Obama has made them seem quaint.

The election of Trump has awaken some people to the fear that these instruments could be used against them.


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2016/11/17

Ted Rall: No, Everything Is Really Not Going To Be Alright

Ted Rall writes that No, Everything Is Really Not Going To Be Alright.

Now add the situation. Imagine 6 or 12 or 18 months from now, when these characters face the inevitable political crisis: terrorist attack. Natural disaster. Economic meltdown. Race riot. Nuclear crisis.

These aren’t personalities predisposed to respond to these challenges with introspection or compromise. Beginning with Trump himself, these are people with a cop mentality who, like a hammer, see everything as a nail to be pounded into submission.

Bear in mind, they’ll be 6 to 12 to 18 months inside the Washington Beltway bubble. Trump’s canny campaign instincts, his intuitive understanding of populist anger that got him elected, will have been dulled by lack of interaction with the public. Moreover, Team Trump will be 6 to 12 to 18 months into an unprecedented period of constant left-wing criticism and street protest. Think Richard Nixon: they’ll be deep inside a bunker mentality.

Everyone in the cabinet room will favor moves to curtail civil liberties: tracking and cracking down on leftists, preventative detentions, new police forces to protect the state and ferret out illegal immigrants and those who hide them, the use of drones to kill Americans on American soil (something Obama said was OK), even more abusive NSA surveillance.

In my book “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” I described the president-elect as “an accidental authoritarian.” He thinks of himself as a patriot, a good man. He hasn’t been planning to lead a plot against America.

Trump’s fascism will come about naturally, caused by the perfect storm of his ego, his CEO mentality, the politics and personalities of the men and women with whom he is surrounding himself, and a set of developments that are all but inevitable.

Canceling the next election? For these characters, it will be an easy call.

Emphasis Mine

Running any company, one has to be an authoritarian as one has to place Capital over People. Trump's instincts have been honed by his business experience.


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Joan Williams: What So Many People Don't Get About the U.S. Working Class

Scott Adams agrees mostly with what Joan C. Williams reveals about What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class.

For months, the only thing that’s surprised me about Donald Trump is my friends’ astonishment at his success. What’s driving it is the class culture gap.

One little-known element of that gap is that the white working class (WWC) resents professionals but admires the rich. Class migrants (white-collar professionals born to blue-collar families) report that “professional people were generally suspect” and that managers are college kids “who don’t know shit about how to do anything but are full of ideas about how I have to do my job,” said Alfred Lubrano in Limbo. Barbara Ehrenreich recalled in 1990 that her blue-collar dad “could not say the word doctor without the virtual prefix quack. Lawyers were shysters…and professors were without exception phonies.” Annette Lareau found tremendous resentment against teachers, who were perceived as condescending and unhelpful.

Michèle Lamont, in The Dignity of Working Men, also found resentment of professionals — but not of the rich. “[I] can’t knock anyone for succeeding,” a laborer told her. “There’s a lot of people out there who are wealthy and I’m sure they worked darned hard for every cent they have,” chimed in a receiving clerk. Why the difference? For one thing, most blue-collar workers have little direct contact with the rich outside of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But professionals order them around every day. The dream is not to become upper-middle-class, with its different food, family, and friendship patterns; the dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money. “The main thing is to be independent and give your own orders and not have to take them from anybody else,” a machine operator told Lamont. Owning one’s own business — that’s the goal. That’s another part of Trump’s appeal.

Emphasis Mine

Williams seems to be saying that the WWC wants to be part of the petite-bourgeoisie. She also notes that there is very little contact between the working-class and the Capitalists. Indeed, the hated face of the current system is the professionals who are also part of the petite-bourgeoisie.

Class trumps gender, and it’s driving American politics. Policy makers of both parties — but particularly Democrats if they are to regain their majorities — need to remember five major points.

Emphasis Mine

Williams lists these points as:

  1. Understand That Working Class Means Middle Class, Not Poor
  2. Understand Working-Class Resentment of the Poor
  3. Understand How Class Divisions Have Translated into Geography
  4. If You Want to Connect with White Working-Class Voters, Place Economics at the Center
  5. Avoid the Temptation to Write Off Blue-Collar Resentment as Racism

Williams concludes that:

Saying this is so unpopular that I risk making myself a pariah among my friends on the left coast. But the biggest risk today for me and other Americans is continued class cluelessness. If we don’t take steps to bridge the class culture gap, when Trump proves unable to bring steel back to Youngstown, Ohio, the consequences could turn dangerous.

Emphasis Mine

One of the good things to come out of Trump's victory is demolition of identity politics. In its place, people should cultivate their class consciousness.

Workers have to understand how the Capitalist system works. Their dream of becoming self-directed workers is being crushed by Capitalism, and can only be realised through Communism.


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2016/11/11

Ted Rall: Here Comes the Rise of the Anti-Trump Left

Ted Rall writes that Here Comes the Rise of the Anti-Trump Left.

Meanwhile, out in the streets where real political change can happen, I expect to see an anti-Trump resistance incorporating anarchists, veterans of the Occupy Wall Street movement, communists and socialists, radicalized left-wing Democrats, old hippies from the 1960s, Black Lives Matter activists, pro-immigrant people, work together and individually to oppose the radical right policies that we are going to see flying out of Washington over the next few years.

Out on the streets, Trump’s repressive tone will prompt brutal police tactics to which nonviolence will no longer be seen as the only acceptable counteraction. The “peace police” of the wimpy protests of the 1990s and 2000s will go extinct. Nonviolence will retake its rightful place as a noble and desirable tactic, but no longer the exclusive approach to taking on repressive government goons.

Donald Trump will be atrocious for the United States, especially with the Republican House and Senate. He’ll attack immigrants, Latinos, Muslims, victims of police brutality, God knows who else.

But he’ll be good for the Left. And, in the long run, the Left will be great for us.

Emphasis Mine

Trump might be good for the Left, but he will con those who do not have a grounding in Marxism. He is a Capitalist through and through. In looking out for himself, he is looking out for Capitalism.

The opposition to Trump must be based on principles, not on what we think he said. Trump has undergone a great journey that his own supporters do not comprehend. They think he is still the racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and islamophobic misogynist bigot that they had come to love.

They do not understand that Capitalism uses racism, homophobia, xenophobia, islamophobia, misogynism, and bigotry as tools of social control to divide workers against themselves. These tools are only useful in that they keep society under control, and will be abandoned once they cease to be useful.

I predict that Trump will legalise Gay Marriage in the USA before Australia does. Homophobia is losing its edge as a means of social control.

Even if Capitalism stripped itself of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, islamophobia, misogynism, and bigotry, we would still oppose Capitalism and work to replace it with Socialism, because the underlying social relations in Capitalism prevents people from reaching their full potential as human beings.


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