CSotD: Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

There are a lot of environmental cartoons out there and perhaps there is some shift in public perception. However, I’m not prepared to say “Now they get it!” until I see more proof.

But Pat Bagley lays out the situation without predicting what will happen next, and he’s on firm ground.

Let’s begin with the idea that there are two schools of denial:

One is pure ignorance: They honestly don’t know that there is no rational justification for their resistance, that all climate scientists — at least all climate scientists who can be trusted with sharp objects — agree on the threat.

The other is linked to a belief that free markets will regulate themselves and that the world is full of conspiracies. In a study that is behind a paywall but is probably too long anyway, they concluded

Our findings parallel those of previous work and show that endorsement of free-market economics predicted rejection of climate science. Endorsement of free markets also predicted the rejection of other established scientific findings, such as the facts that HIV causes AIDS and that smoking causes lung cancer. We additionally show that, above and beyond endorsement of free markets, endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the Federal Bureau of Investigation killed Martin Luther King, Jr.) predicted rejection of climate science as well as other scientific findings.

Which is a lot more interesting than simply declaring that climate deniers are in the pocket of the fossil fuels industry, though they are certainly ripe for the picking.

The journal that published that report gave it the delightful headline “NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax.”

That is, it’s not that they consciously, deliberately tailor their beliefs to their paychecks. They truly believe that climate change is a hoax. And that oligarchs have your best interests at heart.  And that Elvis is alive.


This level of delusional thinking is funny in the current story arc at Brewster Rockit, but Brewster Rockit isn’t a real person making policy for our nation.

Meanwhile, on this planet and in this reality, Greta Thunberg is coming under attack from deniers and it’s probably fortunate that she’s an Aspie because it may help her let the vitriol roll off her back.

And she did get a prodigious number of other young people to turn out in support of rational science and responsive policies.

Though we should bear in mind that, despite the turnout at the March on the Pentagon, the various Moratoria and the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Nixon secretly torpedoed peace talks in Vietnam and nearly as many young Americans died under his watch as had died up to that time.

Those who weren’t there enjoy mocking young people for having believed in flowers and peace but we knew at the time that expecting actual pacifism to take over the world was, at best, wildly idealistic.

But it wasn’t foolish to believe it was possible to negotiate instead of wage war, and, if young people today seem foolish to believe we can shut down all internal combustion processes tomorrow, they probably know that, too.

They’re not fools to think that Elvis is dead, or that Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon, and that we need to start implementing more forward-thinking, responsible energy policies.

Oh … and they’d better also believe that the oligarchs are not particularly interested in making our lives better, which brings us to our first

Juxtaposition of the Day

(RJ Matson)

(Jim Morin)

I wish that I were as optimistic as Jim Morin, who simply drapes a temporary banner across what used to be the US Department of Justice.

But I’m closer to Matson’s graphic depiction, because I think it will take considerable reconstruction to put things back where they belong.

The process of removing Nixon and his cadre of criminals was made considerably easier because, while there were plenty of loyalists penning furious columns in newspapers, there was not the massive Peanut Gallery of the Internet uniting the True Believers.

Which reminds me of a favorite Jeff Danziger cartoon from 2005, which makes me laugh but also makes me shudder, because we’ve got loose nuts rolling all over the place these days.

So we can have a good laugh at Rudy Guiliani first denying to Chris Cuomo that he’d conspired to get the Ukranians to dig up dirt, and then admitting it, and then going into an apoplectic rage and all but falling off his chair.

It’s also comforting to note that, after all the screwballs agreed to show up and storm Area 51, they simply didn’t.

But if you think taking Dear Leader out of the White House would solve the problem, you’re ignoring the loyalists who insisted Nixon had done nothing wrong, who lionized Gordon Liddy as a hero, who then cheerfully moved on to Iran/Contra and made Oliver North even more of an icon.

All without the uniting power of the Internet.

You’re also ignoring the fact that Donald Trump was elected president, and that, although he lost the popular vote, 48% of Americans still thought he’d make a dandy president.

And that if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue tomorrow, the Deplorables would insist that the victim was a Mexican drug-dealing rapist, then raise a cheer and carry their hero down the street on their shoulders.


With all due respect to Rob Rogers, I have no problem sympathizing with the Democrats’ dilemma.

But you might as well believe in Elvis as believe that you could get 21 Republican Senators to shift their loyalty from Dear Leader to the American People and provide the necessary 2/3’s majority to convict.

Particularly if you view that as more attainable than persuading a majority of the American people — including in key Electoral College states — to vote the rascals out.

Get out the clipboards and put on some sensible shoes.

This isn’t Congress’s job: It’s (still) ours.