“Proof is for mathematical theorems and alcoholic beverages. It’s not for science.” – MannWashington Posts’s Steven Mufson and Joby Warrick gave a glowing account of President Obama’s warnings on Climate Change:
“The growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other,” Obama said in a speech at the Le Bourget conference center in Paris’s industrial outskirts. “What should give us hope that this is a turning point, that this is the moment we finally determined we would save our planet.”
Obama, who has staked his legacy on the fight against climate change, struck an ominous tone in describing the ravages of a warming planet, declaring that “no nation large or small, wealthy or poor, is immune.” He urged the leaders to take action even if the benefits were not evident for generations.
I find it interesting that leftists pride themselves on being pragmatic and pro-science when they so viciously reject mathematics at every turn. Why is this so? Before I go on to my main point I need to first address the 500 pound gorilla counter argument that lefties will race to respond with: evolution.
Evolution is one place where I have to concede that the lefties have some of us. I cringe every time I hear arguments for creationism, as these arguments ignore too much evidence to go against scientifically provable timelines. The more current version that we hear along this argument is for Intelligent Design (ID). In a nutshell, ID argues that (H/T to David H. for the source):
Michael Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University, claims that over the past decades, biochemical discoveries at the nano-scale have thrown Darwin’s theory of evolution into an unresolved crisis. It simply cannot account for the molecular complexity of life. Recent advances in science have in fact discovered evidence of intelligent design, though sociological and philosophical factors have caused this discovery to be repressed.
Personally, I don’t agree with teaching this in a science class either, for the same reasons I’ll be explaining why Global warming shouldn’t be. While Behe brings up an interesting point that isn’t as simplistic as Creationism as ID’s detractors would suggest, getting into motive doesn’t belong in a science classroom. I do think that this could be a good topic in a philosophy class, where ID could be presented alongside creationism and straight up random evolution. Speculating motive goes beyond the bounds of science class, which should stick to just provable facts.
That said, I do not believe that faith and science are incompatible. When the ID argument first got some national traction during the George W. Bush presidency my lefty DC pals were trying to dig at me on this issue one night when we were out for a few beers. My response was simple – the last biology class that I took was taught by a 70-something Catholic nun when I was a freshman in high school. When the subject of evolution came up she opened the lesson by stating something to the effect of, “The Bible says that the world was created in seven days, but it doesn’t state how long those days were.” And she proceeded to teach evolutionary theory that even the most rabid left wing atheist would have approved of.
Now with that out of the way let’s get to the heart of this post. If there is one ironclad guaranteed way to annoy a leftist it’s to ask them to quantify any kind of argument they’re making. My favorite one to pester them with is on the cult of Global Warming, Climate Change, or whatever it will be called next month. I admit I’m being a bit disrespectful in referring to Climate Change as a religious cult, but frankly I’ve lost patience with an ideology that so casually labels me a “climate denier” when they can’t even detail what it is I’m supposedly denying. Help me out here, but is it really radical or extreme that before declaring a crisis that you at least establish what the norm or steady state is, how much is change is acceptable, and how is it being measured?
A few years ago I wrote a post showing how we could balance the budget today with no tricks, gimmicks or BS. I used a few relatively simple spreadsheets to bridge the budget gap using a system where everybody pays regardless of income level, and the tax rate is savagely progressive enough to please even the Sandernistas. One of my lefty pals on Facebook took exception with my assertions and I asked for his plan of how we balance the budget. I even told him I wasn’t looking for something as granular as what I did, but something showing where my math was wrong or if he could show a plan that was in the ballpark of a balanced budget, and he just retorted that he didn’t need math. Really.
In another case, I posted the recent numbers showing that despite being years into Obamacare, America still has over 32 million Americans without health insurance. Another lefty pal tried snarking at me that we got 14 million people health insurance (which I would point out was mostly from expanding Medicaid), so how could this be a failure? I responded by asking him why 46 million uninsured was a crisis that demanded hasty, poorly thought legislation but 32 million was a success. For that matter, what made 46 million the crisis number? Had we started out with 60 million uninsured and reduced the number to 46 would you be calling it a success? Or if we had started out with 32 million would you have called it a crisis and deemed 18 million a success? While we’re at it – on any scale I’ve ever looked at when your goal is 46 and you score a 12 that’s a failure by any measure – what makes this different?
As you may have guessed, he went silent after that.
But months before this last guy I got into it with two more leftists, the argument over success of Obamacare. This led to two more questions from me, the first involved trying to get one guy to explain how he determined that “the curve is bending downward.” When he kept regurgitating White House talking points I asked him to what data or study he used to quantify that claim his response was:
“There are figures (Bob), I have seen things; suggest you Google them. I speak in generalities only to point you in the right direction. I’m not doing hours of research to try to convince someone who is motivated only by hatred if the president”
The second guy responded to my question of how many enrollments in Obamacare were needed to considered a success. The response I got was:
“A large number of people who previously didn’t now have insurance. That was the goal. That was the success. Period. Full stop.”
Basically the two responses were “I’m right – go google it”, and “It doesn’t matter. The law is awesome because I say it is”. Not coincidentally, this was the point where I realized both of these guys were completely full of dung and stopped taking anything they said on the subject seriously.
A couple of Facebook food fight anecdotes hardly equate research, but they illustrate the general problem with the left’s war on math.Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott explains that Feds lack the data to determine how well key Obamacare provisions are working:
The accounting system used by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, which manages Obamacare, doesn’t track “expenditure totals for CCIIO-related polling, focus groups, or advertising and other public relations activities,” GAO said in a report made public Monday.
How about the White House “Czars?” You recall the president’s cute way to end-run Congress to give high level jobs to friends too radical to withstand the nomination process to any cabinet position? Laura Fillault over at Right Straight from the Heart offers a thorough look at the Czars.
All of these czars with their own budgets along with all of the resulting policies, programs, rules and regulations beg the question: How effective are the White House Czars? And, how would we know? The challenge with administrative policies is that they rarely have measurable outcomes. And if they do have measurable outcomes, typically the voter is not the one setting them. Worse – it’s the government who is providing the data and measuring the outcomes. What hope do taxpayers and voters have in shrinking an ever growing government if we can’t even know what’s working and what’s not, especially when one government office is “auditing” the other?
When the United Nations approved a massive agenda of sustainable development goals last week, it over-rode pointed warnings by two international science councils that the program is in many ways uncoordinated, unmeasurable and unrealistically ambitious.
According to the 92-page ICSU/ISSC report, there was a lot of perfecting to do.
Among the 169 targets, for example, the report’s authors—40 of them, from 21 countries—declared that only 49, or 29 per cent, could be “considered well developed (i.e. thought out), 91, or 54 per cent, required more specificity, and 29, or 17 per cent, required “significant work” to be useful.
In other words, well over two-thirds of the targets that are supposed to reorganize much of the world’s sweeping self-improvement over the next 15 years are not deemed particularly useful or specific as currently laid out and approved.
Some of the targets, the report noted, tended to cancel each other out, at least to some degree: “For example, an increase in agricultural land-use to help end hunger [Goal 2] can result in biodiversity loss [Goal 15], as well as in overuse and/or pollution of water resources [Goal 6]and downstream (and likely negative) effects on marine resources [Goal 14], which in turn could exacerbate food security concerns [back to Goal 2].”
There are numerous other examples. Here is a link dump if you want to see more:
Those of you who recall the title of this post might be wondering what that “1 of 5” part meant. This particular post began as a sidebar to a larger one I had been working on, and then I realized that these and a few other ideas I had tied together. I had been kicking around these ideas for a few years and a request to write all of this down from my friend Chris over at Liberato.us finally got me rolling. You might also be wondering why the fact that the Radical Left is so anti-math matters. I’ll get to that question, along with revealing the one metric that the Radical Left believes wholeheartedly and consistently uses in:
What’s your plan for meaning? Well, what’s required in the plan? If you’re going to plan for something, what’s required in a plan? You know, the difference between hope and plan is that a plan is hope on a timetable. And I don’t mean to be particularly vulgar about this but the difference between hoping and planning is the difference between sitting in your parents’ basement at 39 years old playing video games and watching online porn versus working your butt off with two jobs and taking out the high school homecoming queen on prom night. That’s the difference between hoping and planning. And I know which one I’d rather do ’cause I’ve done them both.
Cross posted from Brother Bob’s Blog