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Friday
Feb202015

"Measurement Problem" published but still unsolved

Published version of this paper is now out....

 

But I don't expect the mystery of the Pakistani Dr. and the Kentucky Farmer to be solved anytime soon....

 

 

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Reader Comments (58)

Congrats on your publication.

The JAAE paper you cite at the Kentucky farmer link above, does not appear to support your Kentucky farmer model at all. In seeing a difficulty with that model, it is useful to meet the Kentucky farmer's cousin Jacob; see my comment at that thread (Feb 6th, first comment on page 2).

February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

@Andy:

In Tx and Mississippi, only 19% of farmers agree that "climate change has been scientifically proven" but 60% agree that that they "expect producers in [their] area to make a significant change in the mix of crops they grow due to climate change."

One inconsistent response among many.

And the blog postcites additional data-- including changes in agricultural practice & anticiaptory behavior by agricultural service industries.

You see no mystery; evertyhing can be explained away w/ close parsing of logic.

Even after reading your response, I think things are much less tidy, much more intriguing.

Others should by all means read & judge for themselves.

And in recognition that of course there are many genuine ambiguities, I will try to think of additional observations that I can make that will make one or another account of what's going on more worthy of being credited than before.

Hope you do same!

It is best response to impasse on existing evidene (much better than hair-splitting survey questions with successively finer-toothed logic combs)

Besides, Jacob left the farm to play professional hockey. Who cares what he thinks. (I have to say I have this sense that finding a farmer in Kentucky named "Jacob" is unlikely; but maybe...)

February 20, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Dan,

Well I agree that there are ambiguities. And indeed there must be more evidence to find that will weight to one account or other, and the finding is a worthy challenge.

But I strongly disagree about the name. Out of the 4 sources I googled for most popular Kentucky boys' names, Jacob comes 1st, 4th, 7th, and unplaced out of 10. Not a bad showing :)

February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

@AndyWest

That's amazing on the Jacobs! My sense of who names their kids that must be really really off. Other possibility is that are lots Jewish farmers in Kentucky; if *that's* the explanation, I'm going to have to doubt everything I thought I knew about anything

February 20, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

"One inconsistent response among many."

In what way is that inconsistent? It doesn't seem inconsistent to me.

It even appears to agree with the IPCC position.

February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Hi Dan,

I'm really interested in the idea of disentangling identity from knowledge. However, I wonder to what extent that really can be done. Take, for instance, the conflation of belief in evolution versus knowledge of evolution that you've described. Does it matter if multiple cultural identies recognize that the theory of evolution states humans evolved from earlier species of mammal if they do not accept (or believe) it to be extremely likely to be true? Is our goal as scientists (and science communicators) to make sure that people simply know what a theory is comprised of but not worry about whether the public buys it?

Also, once a topic becomes politicized, is it possible to truly disentangle that topic from people's cultural identies? I feel like new work is showing how we can potentially stop topics from becoming politicized in the first place, but once a topic becomes entangled with cultural identy, the mere mention of it may trigger motivated cognition. Is it something that will pass with time? For instance, we've seen public perception shift on a myriad of social issues (e.g. Interracial marriage, now gay marriage). Is this a result of time or a change in the narrative surrounding the topics? Does changing the narrative surrounding certain science topics change eventually change how entangles that topic is with regard to cultural identity?

February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAsheley Landrum

@Ashley

An interesting newish topic that's popped up here of late is whether we should privilege attitude or action.

So, to use your example, professed public attitude toward interracial marriage has changed substantially in the last half century. But to my knowledge actual interracial marriage, of the black/x variety (which was the kind most likely to have formerly been illegal), is still extremely rare.

So, point being, we all seem interested in what people "think" ? of various issues. I say think in quotes with the ? because the concept doesn't really have a name, maybe cognate? Anyway, if people answer survey questions and say interracial marriage is the bomb, but in actual practice hardly ever engage in it, does it really make sense to assert the public supports it?

The easy way out is to go minimalist, the public actually does favor the legality of interracial marriage for that small minority of people who wish to have one.

Segway back into global warming. Andy West has made quite a few posts of late about a large majority of people who profess "belief" in human caused climate change, as measured by Dan's survey questions, but who also tend to not support any significant policy changes which could theoretically alleviate the problem.

Unlike interracial marriage, there's no easy way out here. In the former case we can fall back on the old Jeffersonian position of "it doesn't pick my pocket or break my leg" so I don't care. In the case of global warming i we need to start considering things like Andy's theory of cultural alliance between climate true believers in particular and liberals generally as the explanation for the responses to Dan's survey questions. Alternate theories would also be useful.

To hopefully bring this comment back around to what you were talking about, I have always strongly suspected that once a cultural split is established it's going to be nye impossible to get rid of. So long as Christian/Conservatives perceive questions like "do you believe in evolution" to be the equivalent of "are you not a Christian" they'll keep saying no till the cows come home.

In the end I think we need to split issues into two categories. #1, when opinion requires "action" that consists of not interfering with what other people wish to do (eg not stopping gay marriages). And #2 when opinion requires positive actions like, well I'm not completely sure what the climate change activists exactly want out of energy policy, but whatever it is they want it's nothing so simple as ignore the gay people getting married.

In category 1 evolving discourse and public opinion seems like it can alter cultural alliance to one stated belief or another. Your two examples serve to illustrate the point well. But in category 2, it's more complicated? Again we need to look at Andy's point about how generically liberal people will respond to survey questions professing belief in human caused climate change but will still not support policies designed to combat it. In category 1 it obviously matters what people say in response to survey questions, because if they say don't care then there won't be laws outlawing gay marriage. But in category 2 the response to survey questions is kind of irrelevant because it doesn't impact whether there are laws in line with the responses to the survey questions.

February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

""While a survey in March found that 69% of Americans agree there is solid evidence the earth is warming, only 33% described it as a “very” serious problem, while another 32% said it was “somewhat serious.”"" Pew Center article 6/27/13.

I agree with Pielke Jr. Advocates for global warming have fun. They just don't realize, or want to realize what they won. Considering their academic achievements, I would say that they don't recognize it due to their cultural cognition.

What people are supporting is closer to """it doesn't pick my pocket or break my leg" so I don't care"" than the support for civil rights that destroyed the segregated South. This is on the national and international scale.

On the local scale, local problems and risk change the picture as Dan's nice posts on this show.

February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn F Pittman

"And #2 when opinion requires positive actions like, well I'm not completely sure what the climate change activists exactly want out of energy policy, but whatever it is they want it's nothing so simple as ignore the gay people getting married."

You can find what they're proposing here. This document sets out the aims of the activists at the international negotiations. But it's buried miles deep in diplomacy-speak, so I can try to hit the highlights -
- Rich countries to cut their emissions by 50% below 1990 levels by 2050;
- Poor countries not to face mandatory cuts;
- Rich countries to transfer money to poor countries, equivalent to their own defense/security budget;
- Rich countries to transfer any applicable technologies to poor countries for free;
- Rich countries to be subjected to the jurisdiction of a global 'climate justice' court, to be given effective control of their economies.

And as American politicians on both sides of the aisle pointed out (Byrd-Hagel Resolution), emission cuts that don't apply to everyone would not actually fix climate change. (Because industry would just move to developing countries and carry on.) All it would do is hobble the Western economies, transfer eye-watering amounts of wealth to the developing world as welfare, and institute the foundation of a one-world government.

This is what the *real* fight is about. The Americans on one side are arguing for across-the-board cuts of emissions and keeping investment in the most energy-efficient economies, as the most effective means of fighting climate change, and the climate activists and developing nations are fighting for 'climate justice', by which they mean the rich countries paying the poor ones for the damage they've done, and shouldering the entire burden of (not) fixing it.

The battle over public support for action on global warming - and in particular the battle between sceptics and believers - is entirely irrelevant, except to the extent that the politicians think they might get into trouble with the voters if they do/don't cooperate. People changing their light bulbs and turning their air conditioning down a notch or two isn't going to save the planet. About the only practical thing it does is to create a bunch of subsidized industries selling snake-oil renewable energy/efficiency schemes to the public. This is annoying to us non-believers, but given the amount of snake oil and pork barrel wastage already in the economy generally, I don't suppose makes that much difference. Where there's 'big government' protectionism you always get parasites.

Most people are not interested and don't care about climate change, but they know they're supposed to, and so will mouth agreement so long as it doesn't cost them anything. People try to fit in with the mores of fashionable society. It makes them look like a good and caring individual to that young and pretty surveyor with her clipboard.

February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@NiV

That was basically a tl/dr of the climate change debate. They should put it on bumper stickers.

February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

Most people "skeptics" are not interested and don't care about climate change, but they know they're supposed to, and so will mouth agreement [that it's a hoax and economic suicide] so long as it doesn't cost them anything. People try to fit in with the mores of fashionable society. It makes them look like a good and caring individual to that young and pretty surveyor with her clipboard.

February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

JFP -

==> "I would say that they don't recognize it due to their cultural cognition....What people are supporting is closer to "it doesn't pick my pocket or break my leg" so I don't care" "

As you no doubt know, proximity is an important influence in how people address a risk - as is the degree to which they know the effectiveness of potential risk mitigation strategies. I'd suggest that determining causality w/r/t how people address the risk of climate change is a mite t bit complicated.

February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Asheley:

I started to respond to your excellent questions ... but at about the 600-word mark it became obvious the response merits its own post.

Watch for it "tomorrow."

February 21, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Ryan -

==> "Anyway, if people answer survey questions and say interracial marriage is the bomb, but in actual practice hardly ever engage in it, does it really make sense to assert the public supports it?"

It matters because belief affects, among other things, laws. The lifting of legal restrictions based on race didn't happen independently of beliefs about race.

==> "but whatever it is they want it's nothing so simple as ignore the gay people getting married."

This is an oversimplificaiton. It's not just a matter of ignoring gay people getting married. There are many out there who think that gay marriage will destroy the institution of marriage, and as a result, damage our very social and moral framework. Presumably, the number of people who state such a belief has dropped concurrently with the greater acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage. As a results of beliefs changing about homosexuality and gay marriage, laws have also changed and attempts to legislate against gay marriage have failed.

February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Ryan,

"That was basically a tl/dr of the climate change debate. They should put it on bumper stickers."

It was a lot shorter than the 138-page version... :-)

Joshua,

"Most "skeptics" ..."

It doesn't work that way round, does it? :-)

" It's not just a matter of ignoring gay people getting married. There are many out there who think that gay marriage will destroy the institution of marriage, and as a result, damage our very social and moral framework."

The big problem is not that you are required to ignore it, but that you're *not* allowed to. Victory is never enough for authoritarians...

February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@Ryan

You pointed out: But in category 2, it's more complicated? Again we need to look at Andy's point about how generically liberal people will respond to survey questions professing belief in human caused climate change but will still not support policies designed to combat it.

It is naive to think (not that this is what you were saying) that there is only ever one issue to combat. Your point (and Andy's) that even if people accept that human caused climate change is a thing, it doesn't mean that they will want to do anything to combat it is a good one. In this case, though, I think we begin to battle psychological battles other than ingroup/outgroup type cognition. I'd hypothesize that this is a grown up "marshmellow task" in which people are acting on behalf of their present selves instead of thinking about the future. Its particularly hard when adults realize that there is a good chance that they won't still be alive when anything truly catastrophic happens, so they may figure that it is not their problem.

@Dan

I look forward to reading your response!

February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAsheley Landrum

Just goes to show that when stakeholders are focused on shared interest rather than ideological positions, cultural cognition can fade into the background:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/02/21/florida-sees-unlikely-bedfellows-in-fight-over-solar-power/

February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Asheley et al:

My reflections on Asheleys question's now posted.

It was long enough as it was but if I had had more time/patience/skill I might have addrssed @Ryan's response, which I think differs from mine. I think @Ryan surmises a difference in what people say in response to survey questions and what they "really" think/do. That could be it. But my $ is on the "dualism" answer response I gave.

Obviously more testing -- in form of studies that pit plausible hypotheses squarely against each other -- is rquired

February 22, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Joshua

I have always been suspicious of conventional narratives of political history. So a good example is the idea that prohibition ended because the public realized it was a mistake, that it had spawned organized crime while not tackling alcohol abuse. The reality is more that before income taxes the congress relied on liquor taxes for about a third of its revenue. Prohibition had been extremely popular for decades but congress didn't relent and pass the amendment until they had a replacement ready. And prohibition was still widely popular when it was repealed, but the depression had hit and income tax revenue plummeted, so congress shored it up with liquor taxes.

Things like civil rights or gay marriage rights have not resulted, as far as I can tell, from public sentiment changing. They've resulted from people who've always had a pro-civil rights view attaining the political power needed to get their way. Hence why I think it's important to observe that while people say they are in favor of interracial marriage, the real dearth of such marriages makes me suspect they're just giving the fashionable response to the nice lady with the clipboard.

And back around to climate change, if what NiV's link described is actually the goal, that's not a goal like have people give the right answer to survey questions. That's akin to laws forcing a majority of the population to engage in interracial marriages, which despite the survey questions it seems pretty clear no one actually supports.

Florida: There are two ways to resolve the grid maintenance cost problem. Either require people with solar panels to disconnect from the grid. Or require them to pay a special maintenance fee. "Nope, we'll just be freeloaders" is not going to work.

@Ashley

As much as I encourage considering the hypothesis "the evidence isn't very good" as an explanation for skepticism of claims about cause and effect of CO2 on the climate, I would also encourage "what NiV's post describes is actually a terrible, terrible policy" as an explanation for opposition to it.

February 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

"Things like civil rights or gay marriage rights have not resulted, as far as I can tell, from public sentiment changing. They've resulted from people who've always had a pro-civil rights view attaining the political power needed to get their way."

There are two different elements to the movement - there are the libertarian types who argue for it on the grounds that what consenting adults get up to in private is nobody else's business, who I'd class as 'pro-civil rights', and the authoritarian types who simply have a different set of favoured/disfavoured categories, who some do class as pro-civil rights but I wouldn't. They're just as intolerant, only about different people, and they'll stand up for the rights of some minorities often only as a way of bashing some other group that they don't like.

The same people who support gay marriage often also favour taking away civil rights from some subset of the smokers, fat people, fundamentalist Christians, right-wingers, meat-eaters, hunters, the rich, bankers, white people, nerds/gamers, men, and so on. (It's happened to climate change sceptics, too.) It's the exactly the same in-group/out-group thing again - only different groups are 'out'. It's no victory to fix the problem of businesses being made to exclude black people from their premises if instead you're now making them exclude smokers. That's not 'pro-civil rights', that's 'we're on top now and you'll do what we say'.

But yes, I agree that a lot of it isn't the result of changing public attitudes, so much as a different set gaining power.

Free speech and freedom of belief are civil rights, too, but political correctness negates them. Hold/express the wrong opinions, especially about some protected categories like gays, and you can lose your job, your reputation, even your freedom. Being 'pro-civil rights' means upholding even the rights of people you detest. A lot of the loudest voices on civil rights don't do that.

And a lot of the apparent public support is probably people keeping their heads down.

"Hence why I think it's important to observe that while people say they are in favor of interracial marriage, the real dearth of such marriages makes me suspect they're just giving the fashionable response to the nice lady with the clipboard. "

There's a difference between supporting the existence of the freedom, and wanting to actually use it. I support gay marriage for gays, but I don't actually want to take part in one. I would think it's the same with inter-racial marriage. Plenty of people think it should be allowed for those people who *want* to do it, but are not themselves attracted to people of other races. I don't think you can deduce anything about how genuine people support for the principle is from how many choose to use it.

February 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

==> "there are the libertarian types who argue for it on the grounds that what consenting adults get up to in private is nobody else's business, "

Lol! I always get a kick out of your pretzel-bending, NiV.

February 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Ryan -

==> "I have always been suspicious of conventional narratives of political history. "

I'm with you on that.

==> "So a good example is the idea that prohibition ended because the public realized it was a mistake, that it had spawned organized crime while not tackling alcohol abuse. The reality is more that before income taxes the congress relied on liquor taxes for about a third of its revenue."

Notice here that you are painting a mechanism that is not binary. Your construction is not one where financial components and people's beliefs about the practicality of prohibition are set up to be mutually exclusive. So keep that in mind as we look at where you moved into another historical domain.


==> "Things like civil rights or gay marriage rights have not resulted, as far as I can tell, from public sentiment changing."

Suddenly, the multi-factorial view of mechanisms that move society is dropped. Public sentiment changing turns into an either or, binary condition Why is that?

==> "They've resulted from people who've always had a pro-civil rights view attaining the political power needed to get their way."

Not to say that isn't to some degree explanatory, the notion that it is singularly explanatory, IMO, doesn't hold water. First, pro-civil rights people gaining power and people changing sentiments w/r/t civil rights are not factors that are independent of each other.a There is polling that makes it clear that attitudes towards issues like race and sexuality have changed concurrently with related laws changing, and that to a large degree, both changes preceded significant changes in the political power accrued by homosexuals and minorities. As an example, to think that witnessing bigoted cops beating on unarmed women and children civil rights marchers didn't create a mechanism where at least to some degree, changes in sentiment drove changes in civil rights laws in relatively short periods of time, just seems a-historical, IMO. Further:

==> "Hence why I think it's important to observe that while people say they are in favor of interracial marriage, the real dearth of such marriages makes me suspect they're just giving the fashionable response to the nice lady with the clipboard."

Sorry, but that doesn't make sense to me. It is entirely possible to change your outlook on an issue like the rights of homosexuals w/o becoming a homosexual.

February 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"Lol! I always get a kick out of your pretzel-bending, NiV."

And I'm always amused by your attempts to straighten them. ;-)

February 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@Joshua

I think you're right that multifactoral analysis should win out in the end on any subject. And in the particular case of civil rights I think the Soviets talking mad shit about the US for its persecution of black people played one heck of a role in bringing about changes to the law. And I admit I left that and most certainly other factors out of my initial explanation. Egg on face.

More directly to your point on public opinion and law, it's my strong suspicion that changes in law tend to drive changes in public opinion. It can definitely work the other way around, and I think that's probably true of attitudes toward homosexuality. But in the case of things like interracial marriage and segregation in general, I think changes in law drove changes in public opinion.


==>Sorry, but that doesn't make sense to me. It is entirely possible to change your outlook on an issue like the rights of homosexuals w/o becoming a homosexual.

So Ran Prieur, over at www.ranprieur.com had a pretty funny take on the subject. He said something like "I always liked the saying 'be the change you want to see in the world' but that strategy doesn't really work well if you're a straight person who supports gay marriage."

Shameless plug of someone else's blog. I don't know the guy in real life but I've been reading the blog for (god I'm getting old) more than 10 years and quite enjoying it.

Different public policy issues are different. With gay marriage or interracial marriage what's required of the majority of people generally opposed to these things is to look the other way while small minorities prone to them go ahead with it.

It's a totally different story with climate change. Look the other way while you neighbor puts solar panels on his roof is light years short of doing enough. What's necessary is, metaphorically, legislating heterosexuals into entering gay marriages, legislating (?something? everyone?) people into entering interracial marriages. In both cases no one actually wants to do so.

No one, heterosexual or homosexual, of one race or another, wants to adopt the policy NiV described a few posts up.

That's the key problem with climate change policy.

February 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

"With gay marriage or interracial marriage what's required of the majority of people generally opposed to these things is to look the other way while small minorities prone to them go ahead with it."

This is a bit off topic, but no I don't think so. The religious gave up decades ago on the idea of legislating against sin. There are people who think adultery, divorce, contraception, selfishness, and and sexual imagery in public life are wrong, damaging, and bad for society, in the same way they do about homosexuality, but they accept that other people are going to do it anyway, they can't legislate to stop it, and must rely solely on persuasion. As far as sin goes, all they can do is look the other way while people get on with it. For that matter, the left-wing secularists feel much the same way about smoking, obesity, consumerism, greed, big business, bankers, and so on: that it is wrong and damaging to society. If it was solely a matter of ignoring it, there would be little more than grumbling.

What ignites the opposition is that you're not *allowed* to ignore it. You're legally *required* to recognise it, support it, treat it the same way as you do heterosexual marriage. You have to offer the same services, and make no distinction. Your kids will be taught about it in school, whether you want it or not. Men will be able to put on a skirt and use the ladies toilets, or changing rooms, and you'll not be allowed to object. They already looking towards requiring churches to perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples. And you will not be allowed to say anything, in public or in private, expressing any kind of opposition for or dislike of these policies, on pain of being prosecuted, fined, or hounded out of your job.

The 'letting people ignore it' policy was already tried, with the compromise position of 'civil partnerships', which are marriages in all but name. It got you all the practical legal rights, without stepping on anybody's religious toes. But that wasn't enough. And that's the problem - with professional campaigners it's never enough, because it's not really about the goal, it's about the fight. They're aiming to hold on to the privileges of the perpetual victim, and to impose a state of perpetual guilt on their political opponents, with themselves appointed as judge and jury. The pattern repeats itself endlessly.

A lot of gays I've heard from don't want all this crap. They were quite happy with not being prosecuted and persecuted any more, and being allowed to get on with their lives in private without interference. I've heard the same thing from women talking about 'feminism' - they already got equality, and to keep going on about it risks a backlash. But social movements get taken over by the professionals, after which it's no longer about winning.

It's depressing.

"No one, heterosexual or homosexual, of one race or another, wants to adopt the policy NiV described a few posts up."

As hard as it may be for you to believe, oh yes they do.

Here's a book by a guy considered sufficiently reputable to be an IPCC climate report author and university professor, arguing that it may be necessary to suspend democracy and introduce an authoritarian climate dictatorship in order to 'save the world' from climate change. And thinking that's kind of a good thing!

Seriously!

Government in the future will be based upon (or incorporate, depending on the level of breakdown of civilization) a supreme office of the biosphere. The office will comprise specially trained philosopher/ecologists. These guardians will either rule themselves or advise an authoritarian government of policies based on their ecological training and philosophical sensitivities. These guardians will be specially trained for the task.

Nor is he even the most extreme.

Their attitude is that it doesn't matter if it's all a big hoax because they're creating a better world. There are still people today who think communism is a good idea, and are still working towards the revolution. There are many millions more who have some sympathy towards their policies.

And yes, I think that as seen previously in history, when people see what the end result of those policies is, nobody will want it. But for the present, there's a whole bunch of people - many of them in positions of power/influence - who do.

Fortunately, they stand little chance of succeeding - the international climate negotiations are dead and have been for many years; arguably since Byrd-Hagel. But that's what they're really fighting for.

February 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Wow!

==> "The religious gave up decades ago on the idea of legislating against sin. There are people who think adultery, divorce, contraception, selfishness, and and sexual imagery in public life are wrong, damaging, and bad for society, in the same way they do about homosexuality, but they accept that other people are going to do it anyway, they can't legislate to stop it, and must rely solely on persuasion."

What world are you living in, NiV?

February 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"What world are you living in, NiV?"

Is there more than one?

February 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Apparently so.

February 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

==> "57% of Republicans think that Christianity should be the official religion."

http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2015/PPP_Release_National_22415.pdf


(Dan - avert your eyes; the polling questions ask about "belief" in global warming and evolution.

February 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"57% of Republicans think that Christianity should be the official religion."

Was that in reply to me?

Christianity is our official religion. Our head of state is also head of the church; the 'Defender of the Faith'. Bishops sit in the legislature. We had prayers in schools, and religious services on the publicly-funded TV and radio.

And yet we're considerably more secular/irreligious than the US, and nobody has considered legislating against sin on religious grounds here for getting on for a century. Homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy, lying, selfishness, contraception, wearing clothes of mixed fibres and working on the sabbath are all legal. And we've got lots of mosques, synagogues, pagan temples, Wiccan priestesses, druids, witches, wizards, elves, Jedi knights, and Pastafarians. We even had a member of our armed services demand - and get! - officially provided Satanist services to cater to his religious needs.

Americans sometimes sound like they think that an official state religion is tantamount to establishing a theocracy. It's not. And on the whole, I find religious people far less likely to try to legislate their own prejudices and obsessions over everyone else than the secular left (like on smoking, obesity, environmentalism, and political correctness). They recognise that their own freedom of belief is reliant on maintaining it as an inviolate principle for everyone else.

And what I've experienced of the American religious right - and I've had some ding dong arguments about religion with some of them! - they feel the same way. It's not other people doing it that bothers them, it's the government making them participate in it.

I don't know - maybe there's some subset of them I've not come across, who are all mad for a Christian theocracy, that all live near you. Or maybe you do live on another planet, and the internet connection is running through a trans-dimensional portal somewhere. (It would explain a lot!) But so far as I know, around here none of the religious would care what other people get up to, so long as they don't have to cooperate with it. Ignoring stuff is easy.

Perhaps you ought to come over to my universe? It sounds like it's a lot nicer here than wherever you are.

February 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@Niv

First on the issue of culture and tolerance might I recommend this blog post from Scott Alexander:

http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anything-except-the-outgroup/

I guess it might qualify as "didn't tell me anything I didn't already know," but it was so on point I figured I'd paste the link.

I've come to think of [insert name here] in it's weak and extreme varieties as basically a religion trying to convert followers and gain political and economic power. If one posits the equality delusion (hat tip to Dawkins here) as the actual protagonist and the people who got the Mozilla CEO fired as its agents the situation makes more sense, at least in my opinion.

I will also backtrack severely on my doubts about support for your tl/dr of the climate debate.

First Joseph Wayne Smith sounds like the name of a Kentucky farmer turned presidential assassin. Second I would offer 2 criteria for excluding people from the "everyone" who doesn't support your tl/dr.

1. Total extreme radicals, such as the "Supreme Office of the Biosphere" guys

2. A much larger group of people who make up the rank and file of what Jerry West was calling the climate culture.

The key complaint made about his theory is he offered no sort of bright line test or standard for including or not including people in the culture. I would offer the following: include based on how they responded to the East Anglia email leak, specifically the "hide the decline" issue. Did they say/think:

- "Trick" is just a slang term for a clever solution to a problem.

- Growth rates decreasing in response to temperature increasing from the 60's forward does not indicate a flaw in tree ring analysis

- OK sure maybe there's "something to see here" but it's just an unresolved area of investigation fully recognized by the community. Briffa even wrote a paper about it!

- No one was worried politicians might perceive the decline as indicating a flaw in tree ring analysis, Perish the thought. No no, they were just worried those sweet little angels might think temperatures were actually going down, and they didn't want to provide them with any inaccurate information. And smoothing the data together after they affixed thermometer records to tree ring data was all about making the graph look pretty.

If so, swimming deep in the sea of climate cultural bias they are.

Coming back around. Try to imagine a Venn diagram. One circle is the farmer assassins who want to be guardians of the galaxy. Another is the rank and file of the climate culture. The third are the agents of the equality delusion. This diagram doesn't make sense right? The farmer assassins are entirely a subset of the climate culture. Well, perhaps. But some of them might be agents who just think they have great policies to offer.

And I wonder if maybe the climate culture might be open minded to remembering that the big new governments made by communist revolutionaries were supposed to be the guardians of workers and peasants, and it didn't exactly work out well for workers and peasants.

February 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

NiV -

The world where I live:

Scalia in Lawrcence v. Texas:

Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.... [T]he Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed.

He doesn't exist. And neither does Thomas who voted to uphold that anti-sodomy law because the Constitution provides no general right of privacy.

And these people don't exist either:

“Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin.”

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1182339-temporary-platform-committee-report.html


And even if they did, their religious identity would obviously be completely coincidental to their belief that "the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit."

And of course, even if there were, by some wild stretch of the imagination some connection between their religious conviction that homosexuality is a sin and their belief that homosexuality tears at the fabric of society - they'd never, not in their wildest dreams, think that gays aren't just going to be gays regardless of the law, and so they just set their sights on persuading gays not to be gay.

"The law has historically respected and protected the marital union and has distinguished it from acts outside that union, such as fornication, adultery and sodomy. To extend homosexual sodomy the same protections given to the marital union would undermine the definition of marriage..."

[...]

"Because marriage serves a public purpose--namely, procreation and the benefit of children and society--government can legitimately privilege marriage and seek to strengthen it in its policies. Other relationships such as cohabitation and homosexuality do not benefit children and society, and, therefore, should not be supported by government."

http://www.frc.org/insight/why-marriage-should-be-privileged-in-public-policy

February 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua

Point of legal fact, the constitution (the document written in the 1780's and subsequently amended) does not contain a right to privacy, and Scalia is completely correct that the court "has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed."

Only the most hard core element of the left wing of the legal world would dispute this. Very, very few people believe substantive due process is an honest interpretation of the 14th amendment. However a great many people think that simply doesn't matter.

Also, Scalia is laughably wrong that it is any way unusual for the court to depart from "it's role" as neutral observer.

The proper take on the situation is that the Supreme Court has created a Common Law of the Constitution of the United States, essentially the same in substance but radically different in form from the Common Law of the Constitution of the United Kingdom. The British are honest about having an unwritten constitution which their courts modify over time. In the US we're unapologetic liars on the subject.

And to your point, I've met one of Thomas' former clerks who gave me a download on the man. Not one word he writes in his opinions is pretense in defence of a religious agenda. He hates the dishonesty I mention above and has complete disrespect for the faux reasoning used to cover the exercise of raw power in a facade of legitimate interpretation. And if the Constitution, as written and amended, actually contained a right to privacy, he would vote to enforce it.

February 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

What world does this guy exist in?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Barton_%28author%29

February 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

More folks who don't exist:

Rick Perry:

Somebody’s values are going to decide what the Congress votes on or what the president of the United States is going to deal with. And the question is: Whose values? And let me tell you, it needs to be our values—values and virtues that this country was based upon in Judeo-Christian founding fathers.

Michele Bachmann:

American exceptionalism is grounded on the Judeo-Christian ethic, which is really based upon the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments were the foundation for our law. That’s what Blackstone said—the English jurist—and our founders looked to Blackstone for the foundation of our law. That’s our law.

I have a biblical worldview. And I think, going back to the Declaration of Independence, the fact that it’s God who created us—if He created us, He created government. And the government is on His shoulders, as the book of Isaiah says.


And this guy still doesn't exist - Rick Santorum:

Unlike Islam, where the higher law and the civil law are the same, in our case, we have civil laws. But our civil laws have to comport with the higher law. … As long as abortion is legal—at least according to the Supreme Court—legal in this country, we will never have rest, because that law does not comport with God’s law.

God gave us rights, but He also gave us laws upon which to exercise those rights, and that’s what you ought to do. And, by the way, the law should comport—the laws of this country should comport with that moral vision. Why? Because the law is a teacher. If something is illegal in this country because it is immoral and it is wrong and it is harmful to society, saying that it is illegal and putting a law in place teaches. It’s not just—laws cannot be neutral. There is no neutral, Ron. There is only moral and immoral. And the law has to reflect what is right and good and just for our society.


The idea that the only things that the states are prevented from doing are only things specifically established in the Constitution is wrong. Our country is based on a moral enterprise. Gay marriage is wrong. As Abraham Lincoln said, the states do not have the right to do wrong. … As a president, I will get involved, because the states do not have the right to undermine the basic, fundamental values that hold this country together.

Our founders understood liberty is not what you want to do, but what you ought to do. That’s what liberty really is about.

February 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

You appear to be reading things into people's statement's that so far as I can see aren't there.

There is an argument that they want to impose their view on others regarding abortion. The argument there being that it is murder/infanticide, and that interference by the state is justified in order to prevent harm being done to others.

For the rest, they argue that the states shouldn't encourage/support gay marriage or endorse it, which is rather different from banning it, or are talking about Christian values generally, which might mean anything. I certainly don't agree that: "Our founders understood liberty is not what you want to do, but what you ought to do", but it's not clear to me from what is quoted exactly what he does intend. Out of context?

Try this - it's a bit more specific:
http://hotair.com/archives/2015/02/24/christian-florist-why-i-cant-agree-to-provide-service-to-gay-weddings/

February 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@Joshua

The "separation of church and state" is another extra-constitutional invention through interpretation. The first amendment restriction on congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion is a protection of state established religions from congressional interference. Historically speaking this is completely indisputable. Several states had established religions in 1787 and a clear interest in preventing congress from interfering with them. Good old Clarence Thomas brings this up in every case involving a challenge to a state law on the grounds that it is a law respecting an establishment of religion in violation of the 1st amendment as incorporated through the 14th. No one on the court attempts to challenge him on historical grounds because he's obviously correct.

There is, of course, strong support for entirely secular government going back centuries in US history. Thomas Jefferson meant every word of it when he said there ought to be a wall of separation between church and state. And many people shared that sentiment in 1787. In the course of a few decades after the ratification of the constitution every state established religion was undone through ordinary legislative action. By 1868 the idea of states having established religions had fallen completely out of favor with the population.

So it's plausible that the 14th amendment, in its many non-specific limits on state action, was intended by those who ratified it to forbid establishment of religion. And it's even more plausible that clauses like privileges and immunities intended to forbid states from prohibiting the free exercise of religion. So modern 1st amendment as applied to states law is way, way, way more rational that substantive due process.

But very specific rulings, for example the ruling that state governments can't fund school busses to take students to both public and private religious schools, are still pretty ridiculous. Even if states can't establish religion, and even if they can't prohibit the free exercise thereof, paying money for a bus to take kids to a Catholic school is clearly neither. Which is pretty much Scalia's take on the issue.

February 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

NiV -

They are quite specific about their beliefs being based on religious doctrine, and that that doctrine should be the basis of law.

That means that they want to legislate on the basis of religious doctrine, not just "pursuade" homosexuals not to marry, for example.
I'm not saying that all conservatives have such beliefs, just that some who do, exist, and that some of them are quite influential.

I will give you credit, though.
You have great conviction. will persevere with your arguments without letting evidence get in the way.

February 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Moore

As the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, I lost my position because I chose to follow God and the United States Constitution, our rule of law, instead of a federal judge’s unlawful order commanding me to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama state judicial building. But my case was not about a monument and it was not about the Ten Commandments: It was about the acknowledgment of the Judeo-Christian God as the sovereign source of our law, liberty and government.

[...]

Judge Thompson’s self-assuredness notwithstanding, the state, i.e., government, not only can, but in this country must acknowledge God if we are to sustain our system of governance and preserve our way of life.

[...]

If we understand that He is the sovereign source of our law, then we will recognize that there are fixed standards of right and wrong for which people must be held to account. If we understand that He is the sovereign source of our liberty, then we will hold tightly to that gift and fight for it regardless of who tries to take it away – whether it be a foreign enemy or our own government. If we understand that He is the sovereign source of our government, then we will demand that our government perform only its constitutionally sanctioned responsibilities; anything less is dereliction of duty and anything more is tyranny.


February 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Although I will say, NiV, that given that you're a scientist and that you've often expressed libertarian-type views, and even though you are an expert at pretzel-bending, I am surprised to see you bending over backwards to not see the obvious here.

I mean seriously, dude:

We are losing this understanding in our country and with it we are losing our moral foundation. Our prisons are growing ever more crowded with criminals who do not distinguish between right and wrong; political corruption at the state and federal level has never been more rampant; and our children are taught in our public schools that they are descended from monkeys, that marriage does not matter and that convenience is more important than the life of a child in the womb. Before we are defeated by an enemy outside our borders it is likely that we will rot through moral decay from within – unless we recognize God.

[...]

"Government must obey God in its sphere, just as Christians and Churches must obey God in their sphere," Moore said. "We have jurisdictional spheres and so civil government… the separation of church and state does not mean the separation of God and government. It just means that the civil government has a different sphere, but that they have to obey God in that sphere."

Moore went on to add, "The idea that we have a secular government and the church is in a separate domain is a false model."

[...]

Moore didn't leave out non-Christians either. "Hopefully, non-Christians would come to our schools and be evangelized and we would see the re-Christianization of our culture."


Read more at http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/05/sc-candidate-e-ray-moore-calls-christians-pull-kids-government-schools-feeding-system/#BAOsBs0AIQo3kZT1.99

February 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"I'm not saying that all conservatives have such beliefs, just that some who do, exist, and that some of them are quite influential."

And I'm not saying that none of them do. I'm sure there must be some - but I've not met any, and it's not how I understand the position/arguments of the group as a whole.


We were initially talking about the "majority of people generally opposed to these things", to which I replied: "There are people who think adultery, divorce, contraception, selfishness, and and sexual imagery in public life are wrong, damaging, and bad for society, in the same way they do about homosexuality, but they accept that other people are going to do it anyway, they can't legislate to stop it, and must rely solely on persuasion." That's not a claim that every single one of them does. This difficulty with the 'some'/'all' distinction does seem to be a common theme in your arguments - general statements about vaguely-defined groups being interpreted as exact categorical absolutes and criticised for not being quite perfect.

You try to give examples. Scalia observes that courts are engaging politically, following an agenda aimed at eliminating moral opprobrium. Moral opprobrium is OK: that's about freedom of belief. So he's right. You note Thomas voting to uphold a law challenged on invalid constitutional grounds, which is about the legal trechnicalities, not the morality. A third talks about whether the state should positively endorse it, and "granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status". If they're legal entitlements, you're not allowed to ignore them, are you? A fourth talks about protection granted by law (i.e. not ignorable by others) and argues that society only grants such special protection because procreation serves a public purpose. A single person cannot access a married person's allowances - is that being bigoted against the single? Or an attempt to persuade them not to do it?

You go on. Rick Perry talks about Judeo-Christian values, without being specific. Michele Bachmann talks in generalities too - and of course the rule about homosexuality isn't one of the ten commandments. I suppose you could read that as a call to legislate on people honouring their parents, and not coveting their neighbours possessions, but it's not one I've heard about.

Then Santorum, who comes closest to arguing as you suggest. The first bit is about abortion, which as I said above is a bit different because it is about preventing harm to others. But the latter bit, about laws having to be moral and good (for whose definition of good?) could certainly be taken that way. But the part you quote doesn't say why he thinks gay marriage is wrong. If he was talking about the bit about coercing others to cooperate in it, I'd argue the same way. It's wrong to coerce others except to prevent harm, and the laws shouldn't do it. I find that one a bit ambiguous, but I don't think you've made a solid case yet.

Then you cite Moore, discussing being fired over a petty dispute about some monument. He seems to me to be arguing that the monument was an acknowledgement of the historical source of American principles of government. Maybe, maybe not. But it's not an assertion of theocratic government, either. The next one is just about how the government "must acknowledge God", whatever that means. And finally he argues that the law was set up to comport with what people regarded as what was morally right, which for historical reasons has its origin in the religion of the time and place. He argues for minimum interference by the state in people's lives, doing only what the constitution requires, and no more. There's nothing in the constitution outlawing gay marriage, nor requiring other people to cooperate in it. This seems like an argument that it's none of the government's business.

Your final set of quotes (how long did it take you to find all these? Such dedication!) highlights a comment about children being taught about descent from monkeys, which is a general complaint about who decides how a child is to be brought up, the parents or the state? And a couple about the meaning of separation of church and state. He's quite correct that it doesn't imply a secular government. Since it was initially a government of Christians, whose morality was based on Christianity, this is clearly so. It's also the case that if the members of the government are Christian then they retain the religious duty to act as their religion requires. What separation of church and state requires is that the government not use its powers to impose religious (or anti-religious) duties or beliefs on anyone else. The government can't tell you to be a Christian, and more relevantly to this case, it cannot tell you not to be a Christian, either.

I found it interesting that, despite my assumption that there are probably a few of them around and with sufficient digging you can always find someone willing to say anything on the internet, that you had such difficulty finding good examples. Maybe it's even rarer than I had thought. :-)

"They are quite specific about their beliefs being based on religious doctrine, and that that doctrine should be the basis of law."

No, they're specific about their morality being based on religious beliefs, and that morality should be the basis of law. I suspect most people would agree with that - the problem as always being how to deal with there being several different moral systems in conflict.

The government can take sides on one side or the other, or it can keep out of it and so long as nobody gets hurt let people sort it out between themselves.

People are complaining that the government has explicitly taken sides on the opposite side to them. Obviously, they'd prefer it if it took their own side, but failing that it ought to at least keep out of it.

"Although I will say, NiV, that given that you're a scientist and that you've often expressed libertarian-type views, and even though you are an expert at pretzel-bending, I am surprised to see you bending over backwards to not see the obvious here."

I suspect it's "obvious" to you because of your cultural context.

I fully support the right to gay marriage. People can have a ceremony, wear a pretty white dress as they exchange vows, and subsequently go around telling people that they're married without getting harassed or beaten up. But I also support people's right to marry their pet dog, or their company logo, or their robot computerised girlfriend, or the number 17. Whatever. People can marry their country, or famous monuments, or cartoon characters, or their deity. I don't mind at all nuns going around claiming to be the 'Brides of Christ'. It's none of my business.

Nor do I mind if other people choose to play along, and make a business catering to their needs. You can open up a shop selling wedding dresses for dogs, and I'll not object. The government should not be able to come along and shut it down, just because some people think you can't marry a dog. But I would say that while it may be polite (and profitable) to play along, other people shouldn't be legally required to, which is what this fight is all about.

Christians believe that people of the same sex can't get married. They're entitled to that belief, and should be able to go around saying such people are not married without getting harassed or beaten up in just the same way that those other people can go around saying they are. That's freedom of belief and freedom of speech.

The argument is over legal privileges that others are not allowed to ignore, on pain of losing their livelihood, requiring them to acknowledge claims contrary to their religious beliefs. The only possible justification for such actions is to prevent harm, and hurt feelings don't count.

It's about the state taking a position on what religious beliefs people are allowed to hold, without justification or constitutional sanction. It violates the separation of church and state, and the principle that trade should be by mutual consent. It forces people to lie about what they believe, and breeds resentment. And it's hypocritical, because the same people arguing for allowing gay marriage also argue for legislating against other practices that they see as immoral.

Cultural context is so difficult, isn't it?

February 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Lol!

That, indeed, was impressive pretzel-bending, and to it you add some strawman building.

February 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

And NiV -

These are incredibly easy Google searches. Not hard to find at all. All you need to do is look, with an open mind:

"Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society."

http://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/James_Kennedy_%28televangelist%29

Don't forget to Google some on Barton, he's a real peach, and here's another link for you:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominion_Theology

February 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/08/15/leap-of-faith-4


http://www.texasobserver.org/rick-perrys-army-of-god/

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/08/14/dominionism-michele-bachmann-and-rick-perry-s-dangerous-religious-bond.html

February 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/08/15/leap-of-faith-4


http://www.texasobserver.org/rick-perrys-army-of-god/

February 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/08/15/leap-of-faith-4


http://www.texasobserver.org/rick-perrys-army-of-god/

February 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

http://www.texasobserver.org/rick-perrys-army-of-god/

February 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/08/15/leap-of-faith-4

February 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I think it's likely that some of these folks (of the politicians, anyway) don't actually believe this shit, they only think it's politically expedient to espouse these beliefs...and they don't have large enough constituency to get elected president, but these are not insubstantial segments of the American public.

tp://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/08/14/dominionism-michele-bachmann-and-rick-perry-s-dangerous-religious-bond.html

February 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

For some reason, i can't get the link i wanted to post to go through. Just Google "the daily beast" and "dominionism." and if you want to read a fairly unhinged screed, but that has some useful info (mainly the info on Cruz's background, which i didn't know before)..


http://jonathanturley.org/2013/10/12/ted-cruz-dominionism-and-jesus/

February 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

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