Arguing With Your Crazy Uncle About Climate Change

  • Published on October 14th, 2011

By David Brin

(David Brin is a scientist and best-selling author. His future-oriented novels include Earth and Hugo Award winners Startide Rising and The Uplift War. The Postman inspired a film by Kevin Costner. Brin is also a leading commentator on technological trends. His non-fiction book, The Transparent Society, explores issues of privacy and accountability.)

Forget “left-versus-right.” Or even arguments over taxes. The centerpiece of our current Phase Three of the American Civil War is the all-out campaign to discredit science.

Elsewhere I show that the War on Science is part of a much wider effort to destroy public trust in every “smartypants caste” — from school teachers, journalists, medical doctors and attorneys to professors, civil servants and skilled labor. (Name a center of intellect that’s exempt!) But nowhere is it more relentless than by savaging the one group in society that’s unarguably among the smartest and best educated.

It’s having the intended effects. Chew on this. Thirty years ago, in the era of Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley, 40% of U.S. scientists were Republicans. Today that fraction has plummeted to around 6%.  Can you blame them?

Why is this happening? I go into it elsewhere — the underlying motive for a campaign that will leave only one elite standing. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that everybody has this thing backward.  Scientists are not being undermined in order to argue against Human Generated Climate Change (HGCC). Rather, the whole HGCC imbroglio serves as a central rallying point in the campaign against science.

The latest salvo

Trust the once-credible — now murdochian — mouthpiece called the Wall Street Journal to publish a sophistry-drenched festival of talking points. Five Truths about Climate Change by Robert Bryce.

Yep, call it “truth.”  The Far Left spent years devaluing that once-proud word on a hundred university campuses, in their own version of a War on Science. Now the Entire Right — not just the far-fringe — completes the devaluation of “truth” down to Orwellian levels.  Take this sampler from Bryce.

“The science is not settled, not by a long shot. Last month, scientists at CERN, the prestigious high-energy physics lab in Switzerland, reported that neutrinos might—repeat, might—travel faster than the speed of light. If serious scientists can question Einstein’s theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth’s atmosphere.”

Urk!  Gurggle (*strangling sounds*) — I must let someone else answer this.  This cartoon from Sci- ənce! will make you both laugh and sob for your civilization.

How can you help win this phase?

Trapped between the Far Left’s own distaste for science and the Entire Right’s lemming charge, lured by Rupert Murdoch over the cliffs of insanity, what are  all the pragmatic-moderate liberals … plus those rare but admirable and deeply appreciated awakened paleo-conservatives andSmithian libertarians to do?

Why, what he have to do is fight this phase of the American Civil War, of course!  The “blue” forces were slow to rouse in the other phases, too, but finally got it together to rescue the Great American Experiment. Are we made of lesser stuff?

This fight won’t be with muskets or civil rights marches, but by patiently prying open the skulls of our crazy uncles and neighbors out there who swallowed the anti-future, anti-progress, anti-science hype recreating the Know Nothing movement of the 1830s.  It is going to take all of us — working on the smartest and most salvageable of these fever-racked neighbors, one by one. Getting them to calm down and re-join civilization.

It won’t be easy! Rupert’s fox-machinery supplies endless talking-point incantations to stoke trog fury. Go prepared.  Here’s a pair of sites to arm you.

Next Page ->How to answer your crazy uncle re: Climate Change





About the Author

  • I have a brother in law who I love dearly even though in his dotage he has turned into a hard right wing zealot of the worst kind. He worships Limbaugh and Hannity and the whole bit. Anyway his theory on climate change is that it is the left’s attempt to dethrone god by denying he has the intellect and power to keep the planet livable until he comes again. I just don’t talk to him about religion or politics because anyone that delusional is prone to stroke out when confronted with logic, facts and evidence.

    • MSrebel

      To Dan C.- You may want to consider that there are zealots on both sides of the spectrum. Religious kooks who believe the earth was created in six “literal” days are wrong, as is the Kook-in-Chief His Highness Sir Richard the Atheist From Hell Dawkins. Both extremes are foolish and indefensible, not to mention unprovable. The Creation itself speaks to a more sophisticated approach to life on earth. The magnificence we call our solar system is not because of mere chance. The geological record shows the “planet” to be billions of years old, not a few millenium. The Bible does not address the earth’s beginning, only the epoch of man’s placement on the earth. The term “day” in scripture is indefinite and written that way so people of faith don’t fixate on the unprovable. Clearly, there is no scientific experiment that can be done to prove when the earth, life or humanity began to a certainty. ANY scholar claiming to have that insight is a pretender, looking for adulation. The more science looks into the order, the uniqueness, the infinate wisdom of design in all aspects of our universe one cannot escape the obvious. To deny an intelligence behind these vast systems or state as Biblical fact that which scripture does not verify shows more about the observers motives than his intellect.

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  • Brilliant analysis with a nice engaging tone.. a great line of attack. Falls in the trap of using US nationalism to motivate.. always dangerous and for the rest of us readers just irritating.

  • *applause* The only difficulty I am finding with this article is the fact that it is written for a similarly minded audience. I couldn’t easily link it to say, my republican friends or relatives because it is incendiary to refer to them as my ‘crazy uncles’. But everything else… is awesome! 🙂

  • I’ve been waiting for ages for someone to say this; I used to have this fight with my father (RIP). The simple fact is that there is tremendous money to be made and jobs to be created from embracing climate change… The issue isn’t if climate change is real or not; the issue is whether current power structures will be part of that innovation… and they would rather stay where the money is now rather than risk a big payday later.

    We have been subjecting to marketing, and too many swallow it too easily.