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Establishment warming skeptic dies

Frederick Seitz departs, leaving puzzle

Was he bought and paid for, or example for skeptics everywhere?

Saint or stain, how can outsiders decide?

A fascinating obituary today in the Times presents a conundrum to all impartial observers of the global warming debate. Frederick Seitz was a fully paid up member of the science establishment, a bemedalled general of its politics by virtue of his presidency of the National Academy of Science for seven years in the sixties, presidency of Rockefeller University, National Medal of Science and other salutes to his brilliance and integrity.

Now he has died at 96, after becoming a leader of the global warming skeptics with a manifesto in 1998 which urged Clinton not to sign up for the Kyoto Treaty, and rated global warming as a benefit which would make crops grow faster.

Did he lose his marbles in his old age, or was he the child of the oil and/or tobacco industry, whose views were biased by drawing on these suspect sources of finance for his research?

The response to his views was a special counter-treatise by the National Academy and Frank Press is quoted with the usual defense of the mainstream when their view is deconstructed and rejected: “He was not a specialist in the field”.

In the wake of the rather large conference in Manhattan this week, which collected hundred of climate skeptics together (the ad for the conference claimed there were over 19,000 signed up under its auspices), those members of the public who are also “not in the field” would surely like some guidance as to who was and is right in this matter.

But how to get it? This is the zillion dollar question for all as the globe hurtles towards its destiny, which Al Gore suggests is Manhattan largely under water before the century is out.

We will address this problem as best we can, with the full authority of our independence of mind as well as our superb sources, by expanding this post when we have time ie later today.

Anyone who wants to chime in, however, please do so. All we will say upfront is that we hope that Al Gore and the other Nobel prize winners are right, and that global warming is man made.

Because if it is not, and all these different contrarians are right, then we will lack the weapons to reverse the phenomenon, and half the globe will be turned into Bangladesh or worse.

For if we didn’t cause warming, we can’t cure it by reversing our efforts to pollute the only nest in the universe we have to live in.

All we can do is build our brownstones on stilts, and other palliative measures, which given the vast size of the global climate system, promises to be not much use overall.

The New York Times
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March 6, 2008
Frederick Seitz, Physicist Who Led Skeptics of Global Warming, Dies at 96
By DENNIS HEVESI

Frederick Seitz, a renowned physicist who led both the National Academy of Sciences and Rockefeller University and became a prominent skeptic on the issue of global warming, died Sunday in Manhattan. He was 96 and lived in Key West, Fla.

The death was confirmed by his son, Joachim.

Dr. Seitz was president of the National Academy of Sciences from 1962 to 1969 and president of Rockefeller University, one of the nation’s leading research institutions, from 1968 to 1978. In 1973, President Richard M. Nixon presented him with the National Medal of Science for his contributions to the modern quantum theory of the solid state of matter.

During World War II, Dr. Seitz, as a member of the National Defense Research Committee, was involved in research on ballistics and armor penetration, on the development of radar components and on the development of the atomic bomb. After the war, he directed the atomic energy training program at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and later served as science adviser to NATO.

“He was a pioneer in the field of condensed-matter physics, expanding the understanding of the physical and chemical properties of materials,” Frank Press, a successor to Dr. Seitz as president of the National Academy of Sciences, said Tuesday.

Dr. Press said Dr. Seitz’s 1940 textbook, “The Modern Theory of Solids,” was a “very important contribution” to the growth of solid-state physics — the determination of the atomic properties of matter. “Transistors,” Dr. Press said, “are an example of one of the discoveries of modern solid-state physics.”

While a graduate student at Princeton in the 1930s, Dr. Seitz and his teacher Eugene P. Wigner developed the Wigner-Seitz method for calculating the cohesive energy of a metal. It was the first such calculation, based on the known properties of the atoms involved.

In the 1990s, as consensus about global warming was building, Dr. Seitz’s contrarian views became a spark for debate.

When, in 1998, Dr. Seitz issued a statement and circulated a petition attacking the scientific conclusions underlying international efforts to control emissions of industrial-waste gases, the National Academy of Sciences took the extraordinary step of refuting the position of one its former presidents. The petition called for the United States to reject the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 treaty, negotiated by more than 150 countries, imposing limits on emissions of gases like carbon dioxide.

Dr. Seitz’s petition was accompanied by an article concluding that emissions of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, posed no climatic threat. Instead, the article said, the emissions amounted to “a wonderful and unexpected gift from the Industrial Revolution” by stimulating atmospheric carbon dioxide and increasing plant growth.

Dr. Press, who was also President Jimmy Carter’s science adviser, said that while he and Dr. Seitz were good friends, Dr. Seitz “was not a specialist in this field.”

“Most top scientists in the field disagreed with him, I among them,” Dr. Press said. Asked if Dr. Seitz’s beliefs had shifted in recent years, Dr. Press said they had not.

From 1978 to 1988, Dr. Seitz was a member of the medical research committee of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. His work for the company was the subject of a 2006 article in Vanity Fair magazine that criticized what it called an “overlap” between scientists who deny climate change and “tobacco executives who denied the dangers of smoking.”

The article, by Mark Hertsgaard, said that Dr. Seitz had helped R. J. Reynolds “give away $45 million to fund medical research in the 1970s and 1980s,” studies that “avoided the central health issue” of smoking and “served the tobacco industry’s purposes.”

Dr. Seitz called the charges “ridiculous, completely wrong.” In an article for the technology journal TCSDaily, he wrote, “The money was all spent on basic science, medical science,” citing in particular research on mad cow disease and tuberculosis and for the work of the Nobel Prize winner Stanley B. Prusiner, the discoverer of prion, an agent that causes brain and neural infections.

Born in San Francisco on July 4, 1911, Dr. Seitz was a son of Frederick and Emily Hofman Seitz, the owners of a local bakery.

Besides his son, of Palo Alto, Calif., Dr. Seitz is survived by three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His wife of more than 50 years, the former Elizabeth Marshall, died in 1992.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Stanford in 1932, Dr. Seitz earned a Ph.D. in physics at Princeton in 1934. Before being named president of Rockefeller University, in Manhattan, Dr. Seitz had served on the faculties of the University of Rochester, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Illinois and the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University).

In his time as president of Rockefeller, the university started research programs in reproductive biology, cell biology, molecular biology and the neurosciences. It also began a joint M.D.-Ph.D. program with Cornell University Medical College and established the 1,000-acre Center for Field Research in Ethology and Ecology in Millbrook, N.Y., where behavioral and biological scientists study natural phenomena related to animal behavior and environmental biology.

In the early years of the cold war, Dr. Seitz warned of the Soviet Union’s rapid development of nuclear weapons. In 1980, President-elect Ronald Reagan appointed Dr. Seitz to a 15-member advisory committee of scientists and engineers to study technical issues facing the new administration. The panel urged Reagan to strengthen programs in military, industrial and space technology as a means of reasserting American strategic and economic supremacy.

Besides the National Medal of Science, Dr. Seitz received many other honors, including the United States Department of Defense Distinguished Service Award; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Distinguished Public Service Award; and the Compton Award, the highest honor of the American Institute of Physics.

Assessing Frederick Seitz at 87

So what can we make of this item, and the career of Fred Seitz? Obviously a very good scientist who made substantial breakthroughs in understanding solid state physics, which helped develop transistors and thus the whole apparatus of modern global communications before microchips. This led to public recognition of his talent and reliability as a distinguished scientist of incontrovertible achievement and a number of awards and high positions.

All this didn’t seem to count for as much as it should have when he issued a proclamation in his later years (he must have been 87 in 1998) that objected to the Kyoto Treaty and global warming alarm on scientific grounds, because he “wasn’t in the field.” However, it counted for enough in that the National Academy took pains to “refute” his stand, though we are not told how or why it amounted to refutation rather than counterargument.

Presumably the feeling was that since Dr Seitz was in his late eighties he must have lost some of his powers but since outsiders might not appreciate how weak his arguments were it was necessary for the mainstream to point out how wrong he was with the full authority of the National Academy of Scientists he once headed.

Let us hope for the sake of the dignity and authority of the National Academy that the counter arguments amounted to more than “Most top scientists in the field disagreed with him, Frank Press among them”.

Unfortunately, this is inevitably the plane on which most media coverage is forced to operate, and most members of the public, politicians and other outsiders also have to join them in having to assess arguments in climate science according to the credentials of proponents, rather than examine the data and the arguments themselves, for lack of time and expertise to do so.

Is there anything wrong with this situation? On the surface one would think not, since one would assume that the generals of science know what they are doing, and are not liars or biased, especially in such an important study of such great import to the future welfare of all mankind.

Unfortunately, however, once one examines the issue more closely one finds reason to worry. Anyone familiar with the scene in HIV/AIDS, such as the faithful readers of this humble blog, know very well that there is at least one vast example in science of the mainstream being plainly wrong in the conventional wisdom it purveys, and the number of reasons why this can be so.

In fact, they are we hope very aware by now that this is par for the course in science, since almost by definition the paradigms replaced by progress in science are strenuously defended until the last possible minute by the generals who live by them and off them.

They are also defended by the vast crowd of journeymen scientists in the field, media reporters and supportive laymen who may not understand their leaders or the critics’ points or why they are supposedly right or wrong, but operate on the general principle that mainstream beliefs are thoroughly vetted and valid and anyone who questions them is out of step with science, religion and moral values and probably mentally unbalanced.

This defense is invariably bolstered by noticing that the critics’ are funded by suspect organizations with devious motives, such the petroleum industry, or tobacco, who are known to be evil in their intent to muddy the waters and resist government regulation of the pollution and poison they perpetrate. The fact that the mainstream is funded by government agencies which dispense millions if not billions along lines that meet the agenda of bureaucrats and officials with ulterior motives of the job seeking kind is somehow overlooked.

Thus in the item above we are told that Dr Seitz in his senior years did research funded by R.J. Reynolds which was called into question by Mark Hertsgaard, a Vanity Fair contributor who pointed to the overlap between scientists who deny climate change and “tobacco executives who denied the dangers of smoking”.

The Queen of England is afraid. International C.E.O.’s are nervous. And the scientific establishment is loud and clear. If global warming isn’t halted, devastating sea-level rises will be inevitable by 2100. So how did this virtual certainty get labeled a “liberal hoax” in the U.S.? Try the same tactics Big Tobacco used to deny the dangers of smoking.

We take this to suggest that tobacco funding is motivated by a wish to show that there is scientific doubt which is valid in another field, implying that it could be valid in smoking as well. This seems plausible. Peter Duesberg in AIDS was funded by tobacco for a time, presumably for the same reason, since he showed that doubt was valid in HIV/AIDS.

Dr Seitz replied that the research money he was given by R. J. Reynolds went to mad cow disease and tuberculosis and helped Stanley Prusiner win a Nobel for prions, “an agent that causes brain and neural infections”. As it happens the irony is that many continue to doubt the validity of that discovery.

All in all, the reader in search of answers other than knee jerk Al Gore-ism is left wondering what Dr Seitz argued against the idea of man made global warming, apart from pointing out that carbon dioxide makes plants grow faster.

One source might be SEPP, Fred Singer’s Science and Environmental Policy Project, of which Seitz was the Chair.

Skeptics meet on global warming

Luckily, there is now an enormous amount suddenly made available on this topic from the Heartland Institute conference on global warming here in Manhattan earlier this week. We will deal with it in our next post, since the whole event was a classic of how mainstream and anti-mainstream prejudice can divert attention from the nub of the issue, which is what do the data tell us, and what do we not yet know from the data?

In particular, the credentials and motivation of the sponsor, the libertarian Heartland Institute, were called into question, for reasons which are obvious from one glance at their website. However, they strenuously defend themselves against charges that they are unduly influenced by the secret corporate donors (both Exxon and Philip Morris in the past) who provide 25% of their funding, with only 5% from “energy-producing companies”, and counted attendees from Harvard and the London School of Economics among the 500 they claimed attended the event, with a hundred speakers.

With coverage from the Times and others beating up on them and the yahoo flavor of their website, they do not make a very good impression, but let’s see.

14 Responses to “Establishment warming skeptic dies”

  1. MacDonald Says:

    So Seitz thinks carbon emissions have no impact on global climate but that somethingabout the chemistry of the emissions stimulate plant growth. Whateverthat isit doesn’t sound like holistic thinking to me. But of course we do not get the benefit Seitz’s own words on the matter.

    One difference between Seiz and Duesberg: Both argued against mainstream but apparently only Duesberg argued against Big Business.

    I suggest this is how you distinguish the real maverick: the guy who stands up to mainstream and Big Business at the same time.

    What did Duesberg do for the tobacco industry?

  2. Truthseeker Says:

    Very true, follow the money trail is a key to who is more likely to be biased, and who squeaky clean, like Duesberg, who seems to have followed only the public interest and real science. But the idea re Duesberg and the tobacco industry is that he would show that the mainstream can be wrong. It must have been distasteful to him that he was reduced to being their servant in this respect.

    The fundamental principle seems to be that politics taints almost everything it touches, so it should be kept out of science as much as possible. How much stupidity there is in politics! – one reasonto keep it out.

    Here in New York we are being told that Elliot Spitzer who got into the governor’s office a year ago on a record level of support from voters because he cleaned house in Wall Street is now deserving of being summarily dismissed for paying large sums to high grade call girls from the Emperors Club, apparently up to $2500 or more a throw. Then he paid for a rail journey as well, if I understand correctly.

    Anyhow the spectacle of worrying about a politician’s sex life is a constant comedy in the US which disrupts the lives of good politicians, and I thoroughly agree with Alan Dershowitz of Harvard that it is not a resigning matter, even though it is hypocritical of Mr Spitzer to act Squeaky Clean and make the lives of others hell on Wall Street for their transgressions while acting as if he never did anything wrong. Seems to me that American public life would be improved if this kind of thing was not an issue, so it was not subject to blackmail which is the only political significance it has in my opinion.

    Actually it is hard to see it as a moral issue either, if the wife is not embarrassed by the disloyalty in public. Surely it is better to use tarts as a pit stop during the political race than develop some serious affair with some other woman which is far more disloyal to your wife. Clearly prostitution should be legal to avoid all this. In what way is it public business?

    Obama has won Mississipi and the Clinton campaign seems to be reduced to even sillier points in response eg that he would never have got anywhere if he wasn’t lucky enough to be black.

    Very odd that some people still prefer Clinton when the only way to radically improve Washington is to come in as an outsider or/and young. This is a general principle in all fields including science, as this blog never tires of laboriously pointing out. Neurobiological research shows that all people become fuddy duddy with age and prefer whatever they are used to, and advantages of a financial and power kind only cement the deal.

    But the bottom line is that given the way Obama acts and talks it is hard to see why everyone doesn’t see him as the next President, aside from their previously established loyalties and assuming they have seen him in action for more than a few minutes, which may be impossible if you dont have CNN or CSPAN and he doesn’t come near to where you live.

    Clinton by comparison looks and sounds increasingly small. But she will argue that she has the big states, which are needed in the big race. if Clinton wins Pa big, she might even catch up and pass Obama, if she wins Michigan and Florida by a good amount, and some others, CNN shows.

    Some say the Democrats are headed for a “nuclear meltdown” internally over this standoff. But at least Obama has shed Samantha Powers, so if he becomes President the chances of him reviewing HIV/AIDs have risen from 0.5% to 1%.

  3. MacDonald Says:

    Let’s not in our Democratic zeal fall into the error, eagerly seized on by rightwingers, of dsicussing legalization of prostitution (or sex in the Oval Room) The issue is whether Spitzer did something illegal, not what ought to be illegal.

    In moral terms, it cannot be stressed enough, and is therefore eternally newsworthy, that politicans are essentially hypocrites – that our supposedly enlightened society inherently elevates the hypocrite.

    I liked the T-Shirt that came out in the new Client 9 line reading “Witness for the Prostitution”.

  4. Robert Houston Says:

    Truthseeker hath written:

    “…almost by definition the paradigms replaced by progress in science are strenuously defended until the last possible minute by the generals who live by them and off them.”

    “Neurobiological research shows that all people become fuddy duddy with age and prefer whatever they are used to, and advantages of a financial and power kind only cement the deal.”

    It tends to be overlooked that human-generated global warming is a relatively recent paradigm (post-1980) that has been replacing the old orthodoxy of climate equilibrium. It is the aging believers of that prior climate model who have been the major leaders of the “Greenhouse Skeptics.” As usual, “skepticism” is a term that is generally used by purveyors of old-time orthodoxy to describe their attitude toward new challengers. (Note that virtually every article in Skeptic magazine and the Skeptical Inquirer displays this pattern of defending orthodox beliefs.)

    Dr. Frederick Seitz, who was 96, is an example of the old-guard that has refused to change their long habituated views on global climate change. Another recent example was Dr. Robert Jastrow, another leading Greenhouse Skeptic, who passed away at the age of 82 on Feb. 8th, according to his NY Times obituary. Dr. Jastrow, a former advisor to Pres. Reagan, maintained to the end his opposition to the new global warming paradigm, even while admitting to a climate scientist friend that its proponents were “probably right,” though overly alarmist. Such opposition is typical of rightwing scientists and their think tanks (e.g. Heartland Institute), who seem more concerned for the conservation of the huge corporate profits of the energy industry than the viability of the planet.

    Truthseeker also wrote:

    “This defense is invariably bolstered by noticing that the critics’ are funded by suspect organizations with devious motives, such the petroleum industry, or tobacco, who are known to be evil in their intent to muddy the waters and resist government regulation of the pollution and poison they perpetrate. The fact that the mainstream is funded by government agencies which dispense millions if not billions along lines that meet the agenda of bureaucrats and officials with ulterior motives of the job seeking kind is somehow overlooked.

    Truthseeker seems to forget that the current rightwing Republican administration in government has been allied with corporate energy interests and has taken a determined stance against doing anything about global warming, refusing to participate in developing international treaties to control greenhouse gases. The Bush administration has also brought in representives of the petroleum industry (such as its former lobbyist Phillip Cooney) to edit and suppress the findings of government scientists on the issue in an effort to prevent them from reaching the public.

    Fortunately, other governments have been more enlightened, and the Bushkins were unable to suppress the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel and Climate Change, which concluded that the phenomenon is definitely real and very serious, and mostly caused by human-generated pollution.

  5. Robert Houston Says:

    Note: The proper name is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,(IPCC), which convened 2,000 of the world’s top climate scientists to study the issue under the auspices of the United Nations. The IPCC and Al Gore shared the Nobel Prize for Peace in December 2007.

  6. Truthseeker Says:

    Let’s not in our Democratic zeal fall into the error, eagerly seized on by rightwingers, of discussing legalization of prostitution (or sex in the Oval Room) The issue is whether Spitzer did something illegal, not what ought to be illegal

    Surprised to detect a certain cavalier, even philistine note in your comment here, MacD. Seems to us that what to do about prostitution to replace the current silly laws, and whether political stars are by definition oversexed by nature or encouragement (the reaction of women) and thus hypocritical, and whether public service in politics is by definition hypocritical, and whether it is worth losing a great deal of human capital just to serve the blue noses and the cheap fears and petty prejudices of the mob are topics of great interest to all who would reform the politics and laws of sex to make them serve society’s real interests better.

    Personally we agree with Al Dershowitz of Harvard and feel generally supportive of the hapless Spitzer in his possibly fatal career speed bump, for two reasons, namely the minor quality of the household sin, pace the wife’s presumed upset/indignation/fury/career concern at the minimal infidelity, and the loss to New York of the human capital accumulated by and invested in the schoolboyish governor, caught with his pants down in utter naivete about modern tracking software, the enmity of those he had harassed and the bloodhound instincts of investigators of the politically elevated.

    Seems to me we ought to be as the Europeans are, indulgent to such peccadillos, which have almost nil public consequence, other than vastly disproportionate political consequences when unmasked, and that only because of the absurd and anachronistic Mann Act and other 19th Century-in-spirit legislation which seem way out of date for erasure.

    Looking ahead, selling one’s favors would seem to be something which will eventually be recognized as personal business which is not a public issue unless legislated against rather uselessly, which drives it underground and makes it expensive, pimpladen and a matter for blackmail and disgrace if exposed. Those laws will be dispensed with, and replaced with something less injurious to citizens of whatever level.

    And if Spitzer was hypocritical, so what? Surely hypocrisy in a public official is an excellent qualification in most, since they are often flawed human beings in their private lives, with hypocrisy endemic and almost inevitable given the dysfunction between public theater and private human reality, so if anything it is admirable that Spitzer was able to serve the public interest (as legislated) and collar thieves on Wall Street, and even go after prostitution dutifully, when he himself obviously didn’t in his private motivations agree with the voters and laws he served.

    Now the state has lost all that great human capital in its public service (sadly including those who worked for him sometimes at a pay cut) and all the potential for reform he embodied as governor, and those that like to escape the brunt of the laws in the financial and political area are gleeful.

    All to serve the grubby prejudices of the unwashed who subscribe to laws to protect monogamy within marriage which are useless in the face of human nature, especially the nature of high level politicians who are clearly often oversexed by nature and/or due to the eroticism of power and the acquiescence of nubile females it encourages.

    it is time for the people of New York State to bite the bullet and realize that legislating paid sex out of existence is as unrealistic and damaging a policy as banning abortion, and only the yahoos vote accordingly.

    Perhaps we should make being a john a misdemeanor with a $100 fine and establish a state brothel in Albany (if not Washington) for the relief of oversexed legislators and high level executive officials, with the usual bureaucratic oversight of course to guarantee quality and displace exploitation of either demand or supply.

    Had a refreshing encounter with a friend who is a female Princeton graduate today who informed me that her sister undergraduettes at that fine institution a long time ago were happy to make some pocket money in this way when short of ready cash. Such strongmindedness seems to be the intelligent approach here, and one reason why I believe in oligarchy rather than democracy when it comes to the knotty problems of sex policy in this fair but often stupid nation.

    What business is it of government to stand in the way of such sexually liberal women, if they are not being exploited out of poverty, let alone serve the bluenose matrons who think they can enforce loyalty in their husbands with laws which will be flouted anyway and in this case only allow the political enemies of reform to get rid of a worthy executive.

    Now we have to put up with the columns and commentary of the posturing respectable media females who come out and deplore what they cannot empathize with in the cause of subliminally defending their own somewhat rocky domestic situations (one imagines).

    Thus on PBS tonight we had to suffer the unctuously intoned essay of the unmatchable Anne Taylor Fleming, who fixated on the unhappy face of Spitzer’s wife on Wednesday morning as she stood by while he read his short resignation speech to the press. Spitzer’s wife originally advised him not to resign in a hurry and one can understand her unhappiness with the outcome from a power point of view, and how much it had to do with her domestic humiliation remains questionable. She is a Harvard Law School lawyer which is hardly a ninny role, so one suspects that her attitude in really as robust as my Princeton friend’s.

    But to Anne Taylor Fleming, “she has left us this day with an indelible image of a sorrow beyond words.”

    Here is the blog entry another older and wiser Princeton graduette wrote, which proves my point I believe on how unsophisticated and irrelevant this chorus of media females is.

    Dear Mr. Spitzer:

    I’d like to say I know how you feel, or I feel for you, but I’m no longer sure of this. Alan Dershowitz and I were hoping you’d tough it out and not let the bastards get you. After all, at least you’re heterosexual. And $80,000 is trivial these days. Not even the annual gubernatorial clothing allowance (quite a pricey suit you were wearing to walk the dog when I passed you on Fifth Avenue recently!). Far less than a year’s triple tuition at Horace Mann. Not enough to even suggest an addiction. And you had the moral rectitude to use your own money. I was a little charmed by the innocent way your neighbor observed you repeatedly withdrawing your ATM maximum like a law-observing customer. Not establishing an offshore account like some of your colleagues. And how many of these breathed a temporary sigh of relief that Kirsten or Kristen or Amanda hadn’t given their pseudonym to the FBI in exchange for whatever they might have been offered. The book deal will be huge. Not to mention the Hard Copy payment. If Jennifer got 6 million for a picture of the twins, what might they offer for Kristen’s cellphone?

    But what happened to the good old days when these well-paid employees had class and style, not to mention sufficient dedication to the job not to violate the old honor code? Is there no binding contract? No one you can sue in turn? And were you not paying top price for hygiene, for manners, for that je-ne-sais-quoi? Whores are not what they used to be. Nor is honor among thieves, as you have learned the hard way. My 18-year-old found Kristen marginally attractive. Not the kind of girl he’d have bothered to take back to his spring-break hotel room because, as he said, she looked like she might be the coyote Sunday kind. She looked desperate. He could have found you a better alternative– closer to home– and without a weakness for FBI drama. Makes me almost want to start my own brothel. It’s certainly as respectable a profession as massage and I could find you some women who are a lot more competent than half the TV shrinks who’ve been running their botoxed mouths on CNN.

    So was it the thrill of the chase? Were you not informed that the FBI had staked out your hotel several weeks ago? And if not, I find your lack of private vigilance charming as well. Do you not get points for your naivete? For risk-taking? For catering to a human need? For a kind of charity? Was tennis boring? Or were you framed? Don’t you watch Law and Order? You went to Princeton and Harvard. Are you going to allow a twit like that bring down the house? Okay…. your wife is devastated. Or not. She looks pretty smart. Your kids. But it’s done. FEMA may not come to your assistance, but I will. Alan Dershowitz will.

    And it’s not just my sincere frustration that the crooks on Wall Street— those billionaire brats who maybe put the FBI up to this in the first place— will be running as free as the rats on Park Avenue tonight. They are celebrating with treasures from the wine cellars of 5-star restaurants which will be paid for by their corporate expense accounts. Some of these are sharing their best vintage with a paid escort– not Kristen but one who (dressed) could pass for an employee or consultant or daughter. And it’s not just the loss of term-closure or the sting of defeat, even though I actually believed that you were going to exterminate some of the vermin who have polluted our city and state and economy.

    I think, on top of it all, I am disappointed in your taste. I was expecting at the very least some Elizabeth-Hurley type. Not a hamster-eyed Jersey girl with a dysfunctional past and a tabloid reading-list. For $4,300 an hour, I expected someone–well, less ‘cheap’. Maybe not a Rolls Royce, but not a Honda. I wanted some hot gorgeous thing to convince me this was all about sex and passion. Even Hugh Grant had better taste. And he didn’t back down.

    Here’s what I’ve been thinking about tonight: Remember your kids, when they were little? How they picked one story…one tape, one TV show…a song…and they played it over and over. Until it came out of our ears and eyes and wound into our dreams and nightmares and forever and ever will be a madeleine of fatherhood. But at a certain point, they moved on. They wanted variety. And like the internet generation they are, they began to need variety. Like a drug. They don’t even have dog-eared White Albums and Last Exit and Are You Experienced. They just delete and delete. Download and delete. Is that it?

    Here’s what else I’m thinking about. Loneliness. Abandonment. Not just the kind you’re going to suffer in coming months, but the kind you might have suffered all those months you were making the ATM withdrawals.

    Forget about the apology. Come clean. Are they threatening to hurt your family? Give us the real story. We’re not as dumb as we look. And we’re certainly smarter than to buy into an organization named like a cheap hotel from one of Bangkok’s seedier neighborhoods. Give us a story. My favorite Springsteen tune is Candy’s Room. I went to the same schools as you. You owe me.

    She is not alone. The Daily News gossip columnist Cindy Adams was also thoroughly aware of the low importance of the Great Domestic Sin perpetrated by Spitzer. We agree – dallying with an expensive and otherwise apparently rather wholesome and sensible girl from New Jersey otherwise of no consequence is better for the wife than engaging in a serious affair with another woman and then announcing to the press that you were switching loyalty without first telling your wife, as Giuliani did, which is a much greater insult and domestic crime.

    The silver lining of course is that Spitzer’s replacement is the indomitable, legally blind black David Paterson, who might listen to the HIV/AIDS dissidents more attentively than Spitzer, though the latter didn’t seem to subscribe to the importance of wearing condoms.

  7. Truthseeker Says:

    Truthseeker seems to forget that the current rightwing Republican administration in government has been allied with corporate energy interests and has taken a determined stance against doing anything about global warming, refusing to participate in developing international treaties to control greenhouse gases. The Bush administration has also brought in representives of the petroleum industry (such as its former lobbyist Phillip Cooney) to edit and suppress the findings of government scientists on the issue in an effort to prevent them from reaching the public.

    Fortunately, other governments have been more enlightened, and the Bushkins were unable to suppress the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel and Climate Change, which concluded that the phenomenon is definitely real and very serious, and mostly caused by human-generated pollution.

    Well, that is the widely written media story, but perhaps you forget, Robert, that we have a grotesque example already on the book is of a widely written media story which is purely hot air (the HIV/AIDS ideology being purveyed without review by the New York Times and the 99% of the media that follow its lead).

    You maintain this simple, clear cut view based on your assumption that the Bush Administrations and its supporters are not motivated by truthseeking but by political interests antagonistic to reforming the economy to curb man made global warming. Probably you are right, since there is not much evidence on the other side, but that has nothing to do with whether they are right or not to assume global warming is man made.

    As we said in our blog post above, let’s hope that you are right that global warrming is man made or we will be unable to do anything about it.

    If it is not due to man, then we are going to waste a lot of resources trying to stop it which should be used in trying to reduce its impact on humanity. If the liberal side (seems we can call it that, given the way opinion breaks) is wrong, and exaggerates its confidence in the way Steven Weinberg once said it might have to do to get global support, then it will be responsible if wrong for a lot of wasted lives drowned in the rising sea level that will prove impossible to stop.

    This is why it is important to find out whether IPCC is correct or not, and by the way Nobel prizes have been awarded before for mistakes.

    At present, we believe it is difficult for anyone who has not throughly studied the offerings of those who argue against man made warming and ascribe it to other natural causes to be confident they are wrong, pace the IPCC (which still leaves it as a small possibility that their judgment is wrong). The fact is that their objections are still very well argued and justified if you bother to review them, as we will show in a post as soon as life allows. Given such strong arguments it seems necessary to have them deconstructed before we can take sides, even though cynical interpretations of motivations look justified.

    The simple association of industry with the critics of global warming and its validity is not a scientific argument, since it is possible that they have the better arguments and that they genuinely believe them to be correct. Smart people make judgments which include possible motivations when they cannot get enough information to settle a dispute between conflicting sources, just as they take credentials into account. But it is preferable to assess the scientific reasoning and evidence, and we have no reason to suppose yet that these are hidden from the public by complexity or censorship, as is true in HIV/AIDS and which partly accounts for the dominance of the unproven and irrational paradigm in that censored field.

    Your instinct is that these people are biased and the media narrative is correct. But an academic analysis based on the scientific literature is needed to back you up, despite your impeccable credentials in successfully detecting bias in this and other fields.

    Bias is politics and politics has to be uprooted from a scientific debate, wouldn’t you agree? Let’s see what the claims of the bad guys (in your book) are, and how they stack up when inspected for their reasoning and evidence.

  8. MacDonald Says:

    Personally we agree with Al Dershowitz of Harvard and feel generally supportive of the hapless Spitzer in his possibly fatal career speed bump, for two reasons, namely the minor quality of the household sin, pace the wife’s presumed upset/indignation/fury/career concern at the minimal infidelity, and the loss to New York of the human capital accumulated by and invested in the schoolboyish governor, caught with his pants down in utter naivete about modern tracking software, the enmity of those he had harassed and the bloodhound instincts of investigators of the politically elevated.

    If the schoolboyish governor really was that naive about modern tracking methods, human nature, or even the politician’s nature, especially considering his previous career in the justice system, good riddance I say. Our investment in him might have been considerable, but the return and therefore the loss seems to have been at least as minimal as the inifidelity – which last is surely relative and not quite as minimal as it might seem to the cavalier bystander.

    The hypocrisy of politicians has nothing to do with prostitution or being “oversexed”. If the poor political animals really are incapable of sublimating all their mythical libido, power drive to be straight, they remain just that: animals. And animals that wear their “natural” urges like a ring in the nose are much too easily led by that organ, as secret services the world over know well enough. Good riddance! I say ever more forcefully.

    And if Spitzer was hypocritical, so what? Surely hypocrisy in a public official is an excellent qualification in most, since they are often flawed human beings in their private lives, with hypocrisy endemic and almost inevitable given the dysfunction between public theater and private human reality, so if anything it is admirable that Spitzer was able to serve the public interest (as legislated) and collar thieves on Wall Street, and even go after prostitution dutifully, when he himself obviously didn’t in his private motivations agree with the voters and laws he served.

    Nicely spun, and yet,the syrup does not mask the stench of corruption. The sort of corruption that – I repeat – has littlte to do with prostitution and everything to do with the fact that public servants, as persons sworn to uphold, secretly hold up nothing but their own ideas of inequality before the law. If Spitzer disagrees with something, he should campaign against it and trust the public he professes to serve while frolicking on tender and expensive pastures to love him truly in return. Instead he tells us from the public pulpit he has been awarded that he has betrayed his own ideals and perforce must give it up. Billi Clinton likewise assured the public sheep that nothing was more important to him than his family, and so we learn that even if the American public were to rank as higly a second on the august philanderer’s list of priorities, they would still be mere lambs on the altar of ugly Incontinence. Good riddance to the hypocrite, hypocritical to his last foul breath!

    O Schoolboyish Naivete, thy name is Truthseeker if thou thinkst the politician’s hubris is but amorous innocense. That flaw spins darker webs than a whore’s charm, though a painted whore’s charm it certainly is: Lies, torture, unjust war, fundamentalism, autocracy, tyranny, those are the bloody consequences of the crusader’s fickle allegiance to the ideals he pretends to champion. Good riddance and stay gone to skunks of all stripes.

  9. MacDonald Says:

    Fourth paragraph above is a quote from Truthseeker. In the hasty typing accompanying my righteous wrath I omitted to italicize it among other lesser sins of spelling.

  10. Truthseeker Says:

    Now we are called naive as well as (earlier) adolescent, which gives one pause. All that injured indignation smacks of lack of sophistication to us, MacD (replying in the same vein).

    Obviously highly sexed up alpha males are not your cup of tea, principle-wise, if they flout the social norms and indulge their ugly bestial appetites in disregard of the ideals they profess to share etc etc etc but methinks you are shooting a flea with an elephant gun here.

    Sex is the most powerful force on earth and will disrupt any house of cards humans build in their anxiety to bring order out of chaos and protest themselves against pillage and rape, but let’s not forget that it is a force for good in that way also since it is the one thing powerful enough to penetrate snobbery, class and privilege, as many a daughter of the powerful will happily attest.

    Tolerance for impulsive human behavior of the sexual kind is realistic we believe, and rigidity and fire and brimstone in response is unkind and not as elitist as we would hope and expect.

  11. MacDonald Says:

    Ts, you seem to be rather oversexed in your own right seeing how steadfastly you focus on and defend the harmless physical act. I have no doubt you would acquit yourself admirably in the rarefied company of upper echelon virile middle-aged, immensely powerful Democrats. However, this is not about sex; it’s about consistency and reverence for the law. Spitzer and the rest can have as many car key swapping Roman orgies as their insatiable, irrepressible carnal appetites compel them to, but they cannot break the law (and make themselve blackmail targets in doing it). There’s a million and one silly and impossible laws, but you cannot be the champion of those laws and at the same time regard them as your personal smorgasbord.

    However, this still does not go to the heart of the matter. This is not about sex or hormones running rampant in fifty up years. Spitzer was not tipsy and suddenly overcome by the enchantment of the moment; he spent weeks on carefully setting up a meeting. This is about power, the feeling of power that comes from getting and doing what one wants. The thrill of doing the forbidden and getting away with it because one has the power, the position, the money to do so.

    These are immature adolescents – yes Bill too – in expensive suits and in positions of far more power than they can safely handle who cannot handle themselves. Look to Iraq and you’ll see where this slope leads. HIV on all their houses.

  12. Truthseeker Says:

    Not sure that oversexed is a particularly bad thing to be, McD, given that it seems to be a given of prominent politicians, as is power seeking, perhaps by definition. Is this wrong, or does it make it wrong? Your answer seems to be no, it is the law they make and enforce and then flout which makes it wrong, which we agree with. That is why we claimed in the first place here that the laws are overdue for updating.

    You said you weren’t interested in discussing that, I believe, but it is exactly what is interesting to us at least about this whole otherwise cheap flurry which mostly goes to show how Mars vs Venus is the split which divides opinion, as Alessandra Stanley and other sensible women have observed. Men think “Dumb” and women think “Scum” (Leonore Skenazy in the NYSun).

    What laws should we have on the books regarding paid sex which will serve humanity best, given that in one way or another all women sell their favors for money, and their bodies and sex for economic support and recompense, albeit tied in with the emotional theater of it all which obscures this basic truth? Not discussing this topic of whether the laws are in need of reforming is to reduce the debate from lawmaking to salacious commentary, the sex war and bluenosing.

    All your high principle is just out of perspective I believe, but then I have more respect than disdain for lust since it energizes so much in life which would otherwise be wan.

    Sooner or later people calm down and value other things more highly as they grow into their relationships, but if their relationships don’t grow then are they really immature to deal with them by seeking an exciting alternative outlet?

    Not sure that they are. Seems the least damaging way to deal with lust, which is excited by power, as you imply, and let’s recall that half of marriages don’t go anywhere in the end, perhaps many more. Is it really immature to lust after other women after fifty? I believe it is probably good for you, in the same way as the brain grows even in old age if you challenge it with novelty.

    But obviously if married and prominent your and your family’s reputation is always something to consider as a priority, which is why people try to keep it secret. Decriminalizing it would take much of that sting out of it, wouldn’t it?. The alternative is repression, which is obviously an option too, and not necessarily a bad one. But the choice should be personal, and not something biased by the intervention of the state empowered by bluenose laws.

  13. Robert Houston Says:

    Regarding the validity of human-generated global warming, Truthseeker wrote above: “… an academic analysis based on the scientific literature is needed to back you up…”

    As Truthseeker and other well-informed people know very well, that analysis has been done. It was the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was the largest peer-reviewed scientific study in history. As everyone should know by now, the IPCC concluded that global warming is real and is caused predominantly by human activities that release greenhouse gases such as CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Perpetual study coupled with total inaction is, of course, the agenda of the polluting industries, which want nothing to be done that might reduce some of their obscenely huge profits (e.g., Exxon Mobil netted $40 billion last year alone). Truthseeker sets up an odd disjunction:

    “If it is not due to man, then we are going to waste a lot of resources trying to stop it which should be used in trying to reduce its impact on humanity. If the liberal side (seems we can call it that, given the way opinion breaks) is wrong, and exaggerates its confidence…then it will be responsible if wrong for a lot of wasted lives drowned in the rising sea level that will prove impossible to stop.”

    This is a false disjunction, for nowhere have the Greenhouse Skeptics advocated that anything should be done about preparing for the consequences of global warming. Obviously, such preparations should be conducted along with efforts to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases so as to help reduce the extent of the disaster. Reduction of pollutants will have additional benefits in terms of enhancing public health by cleaning up the environment.

  14. Truthseeker Says:

    This is a false disjunction, for nowhere have the Greenhouse Skeptics advocated that anything should be done about preparing for the consequences of global warming.

    Bjorn Lomborg for one.

    Regrettably, Houston, given the fine edge of your skepticism in AIDS and cancer honed by what we gather is long experience of human behavior in those arenas, you appear to be almost worshipful of the IPCC report as the “largest peer-reviewed scientific study in history”. Perhaps it is entirely correct and its judgment right, but a mainstream consensus tends to produce reports which are biased in favor of the previous general opinion, unless independent critical minds are allowed to have their say and are listened to. Is it possible that the IPCC is wrong? Given the quality of the critics of the report and its conclusion, we don’t know how to be sure.

    Your evident certainty smacks of consensus impetus ie you are agreeing with a conclusion that you like, rather than making an objective exploration of the full debate as it currently stands and judging accordingly. My point was that we may all see that the critics come from the side that irresponsible industrial exploiters of the environment love and support, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong, even though they may be poorly motivated and biased, which they may not be.

    Perhaps you are biased, in the sense that long experience of this kind of controversy in American life leads you to make premature prejudicial judgments because you instinctively reject giving people the benefit of the doubt as naive. However informed this is by long experience it is still a political bias and not a scientific opinion. This site exists to separate conventional wisdom from prejudice and politics and examine what the science says.

    We agree with you that the money trail indicates that the resistance to concern over man-made global warming stinks and Fred Singer et al are bought and paid for but have you examined how little the payments from industry to these folk are compared to the public money they have beeen granted for their work in research?

    We happen to agree with you that it appears that the IPCC is correct and global warming is man made, but it is not impossible that it isn’t, and the alternatives deserve attention. Given the vast distortion of the belief system in HIV/AIDS it is surprising that you object to that.

    We would say that unless you subscribe to and read the email lists of Fred Singer and Benny Peiser you cannot say you are sufficiently researched to be sure.

    To quote the quote at the top of Fred Singer’s latest communication:

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
    –Bertrand Russell

    Present company excepted, of course. Or you could claim that you have taken Russell’s point, and decided to improve the world with a modest contribution of one intelligent person who has decided to be decisive!

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