When PC Backfires

The classical criticism of liberalism is mistaking right thinking for right action, IOW confusing theology with ethical behavior.  For a true liberal, stating the right answer resolves an issue.  Those who aren’t ideologues realize that actions speak louder than words, or as Texans say:  “Money Talks, BS Walks,” i.e. put up or shut up.

Political Correctness is the powerful current manifestation of liberal mistaken morality.  Today come reports demonstrating the disconnect between words and accountability.

Example #1: A mayor in Washington state changed her mind about the BLM protests when she was damaged personally.  Washington state mayor now calls BLM protests ‘domestic terrorism’ after her home vandalized  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A Washington state mayor was fine with the Black Lives Matter protests that followed George Floyd’s death in police custody.

But that was until vandals damaged her home, according to reports.

Now, Mayor Cheryl Selby of Olympia refers to the protests as “domestic terrorism,” according to The Olympian.

“I’m really trying to process this,” Selby told the newspaper Saturday, after the rioters’ Friday night spree left her front door and porch covered with spray-painted messages. “It’s like domestic terrorism. It’s unfair.

Earlier this month, Selby issued a statement saying Olympia would not impose a curfew on protesters demonstrating against Floyd’s death.

“Let me be clear: The City of Olympia supports the peaceful protests that highlight the racial injustices black people continue to endure at the hands of police in the United States.”

Olympia, she said, was “not without sin in this matter.”

Example #2: Another BLM supporter, ESPN writer Chris Martin Palmer, who commented “Burn it all down,” when retweeting a photo of a Minneapolis building in flames in late May, had a different reaction when rioters came close to his house, The Sporting News reported.

“Get these animals TF out of my neighborhood,” Palmer wrote. “Go back to where you live.”

Example #3:  The Facts in Rayshard Brooks Case Don’t Point to Murder

Michael Stern writes at USA Today:

From the horrifying flashpoint of Floyd’s killing came weeks of cops punching, gassing and shooting peaceful protesters and journalists. Then, on Friday night, a white Atlanta police officer shot and killed a Black man in a Wendy’s parking lot after an altercation. It took less than 48 hours for the wildfire of racism allegations to spread, for Atlanta’s mayor to fire the officer,for the police chief to resign, and for an angry mob to seek vindication by burning the hamburger restaurant to the ground.

But not every white officer who shoots an African American man is motivated by racism, and not every police shooting is a crime. Facts matter. Here are the facts leading up to the shooting. 

Rayshard Brooks was killed after resisting arrest, attacking two police officers, taking an officer’s Taser and shooting it at a police officer. The decision by the Times’ editorial board to intentionally omit this last fact is damning proof of its effort to create a narrative that serves a social agenda, despite evidence that supports a contrary conclusion.

That a man died is tragic. But the protests, celebrity outcry and general media capitulation that equates Brooks’ death with that of George Floyd, and countless other African Americans who were murdered at the hands of flagrant police misconduct, is wrong.

In a headline reminiscent of the National Enquirer, the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial Tuesday titled: “Atlanta police killed a Black man for being drunk at Wendy’s.” No. Mr. Brooks was not killed for being drunk.

Example #4: A Backlash Against Democratic Control of Cities?

Yet in the midst of the national upheaval over police brutality and claims of systemic racism, it also highlights the fact that Democrats have been in control of nearly every major urban center in America for decades. It’s worth looking at a list:

  • Atlanta has been controlled by Democrats for the past 140 years.
  • Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi’s father and eldest brother, have held the mayor’s office in Baltimore for all but eight of the last 89 years.
  • In Chicago, Democrats have been in charge of the nation’s third-largest city exclusively since 1931.
  • Detroit has been run continuously by Democrats since 1962, including 39 years of stewardship by African-American mayors between 1974 and 2013.
  • In Los Angeles, 13 of the past 15 mayoral terms have been held by Democrats. Their control of the city began in 1961 and was interrupted by Republican Dick Riordan’s two terms from 1993-2001.
  • Democrats have held control in Philadelphia since 1952.
  • City Hall in Seattle was, by design, nonpartisan until 1990 when three-term incumbent Charles Royer left the mayor’s office. The year before, Seattle was named one of the “best managed cities in the nation.” Since then, Democrats have run the city exclusively, including through the recent turmoil and the uproar resulting from the city’s first gay mayor, Ed Murray, resigning after multiple allegations of child sex abuse.
  • Finally, there is New York, where Rudy Giuliani’s two terms as mayor from 1993-2001 followed by Michael Bloomberg’s 12-year tenure as a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent gives the city some claim to bipartisan management over the last three decades. Even so, Democrats have long had a lock on the City Council and the place was run exclusively by Democrats for the 25 years between 1969 and 1994. For the last six years it has been helmed by Bill de Blasio, one of the most outspoken progressive Democrats in America.

Whatever problems exist today in America’s major cities, and in their respective police forces, they are not bipartisan in nature. Republicans have been shut out of the governing apparatus of these cities and excluded from any serious discussion of policy solutions for decades.

There is a disconnect between the Democratic Party’s rhetoric and how it governs “minority-majority” cities. This is a far bigger issue than one election and ultimately has little to do with Donald Trump. It’s about accountability — about which of the two major political parties can build a better future for those living in America’s storied, but long-troubled, urban centers.

See Also:  When a Hate Cult Took the Streets

 

Solar Cyles in Earth Atmosphere

H/T to Ireneusz Palmowski for pointing me to this presentation of a paper Regional and temporal variability of solar activity and galactic cosmic ray effects on the lower atmosphere circulation by S. Veretenenko and M. Ogurtsov  Advances in Space Research · February 2012.

Background

A previous post Quantifying Natural Climate Change presented a study by Dan Pangburn demonstrating that earth temperature fluctuations can be explained by oceanic and solar variations.  The oceanic factors are elaborated in numerous posts here under the category Oceans Make Climate.  The solar mechanisms are more mysterious, making it more difficult to show how solar activity influences cooler or warmer eras.  Cosmoclimatology is a theory advanced by Svensmark that draws a connection between GCRs (Galactic Cosmic Rays) and cloudiness.

This post presents evidence from Russian scientists describing how those same Cosmic Rays (GCR) have a dramatic top-down effect on atmospheric circulation by interacting with ozone in the stratosphere.  The basic idea is that the climate effects from increasing cosmic rays vary according to Arctic polar vortex shifts from fast and strong, to weak and wavy, resulting in alternating climate epochs.

The published paper can be accessed by the linked title at the top.  The slide presentation is here.

Conclusions: In the paper three important findings are described. Text in italics with my bolds.

1. Disturbances of the lower atmosphere circulation associated with solar activity and galactic cosmic ray variations take place over the entire globe, with the processes developing in different latitudinal belts and regions being closely interconnected. The SA/GCR effects on pressure variations reveal a distinct latitudinal and regional character depending on the circulation peculiarities in the regions under study. The spatial structure of pressure variations correlated with SA/GCR variations is closely related to their influence on the main elements of the large-scale atmospheric circulation, namely on the polar vortex, planetary frontal zones and extratropical cyclones and anticyclones.

2. The temporal structure of the SA/GCR effects on pressure variations at high and middle latitudes of the Northern hemisphere is characterized by a pronounced ~60-year periodicity which is apparently related to the epochs of the large-scale atmospheric circulation. The reversals of the correlation sign between pressure and sunspot numbers were detected in the 1890s, 1920s, 1950s and in the early 1980s. The sign of the SA/GCR effects seems to depend on the evolution of meridional processes in the atmosphere which, in turn, is determined by the state of the polar vortex.

3. A mechanism of SA/GCR influences on the troposphere circulation is likely to involve changes in the evolution of the polar vortex in the stratosphere of high latitudes. Intensification of the polar vortex associated with solar activity and cosmic ray variations may contribute to the increase of temperature contrasts in planetary frontal zones and, then, to the intensification of extratropical cyclogenesis.

Comment and Further Discussion

It takes some effort to grasp the import of this research.  If I understand correctly, they looked at the impact of increasing GCRs during periods of quiet SA, and found the effects on earth atmosphere differed depending on another factor: strength or weakness of the polar vortex, which is an internal feature of the Arctic region.  At one point, the paper says:

Vangengeim–Girs classification defines three main forms of circulation: the westerly (zonal) form W, the easterly form E and the meridional form C. A distinguishing feature of the form W is the development of zonal circulation when the pressure field is characterized by small amplitude waves rapidly moving from west to east. The forms C and E are characterized by the development of meridional processes in the  atmosphere when slowly moving or stationary large-amplitude waves are observed in the pressure field.

Fig. 9. Top panel: annual frequencies of occurrence (number of days during a year) of the main forms of the large-scale circulation (20-year running averages) (a); Bottom panel: correlation coefficient R(SLP,Rz) between mean yearly values of pressure in the region of the polar vortex center and sunspot numbers for sliding 17-year periods (b) and the Fourier spectrum of the annual frequency of occurrence of the meridional circulation C (c). The vertical dotted lines indicate the moments of the correlation sign reversals.

The data in Fig. 9a show the evolution of annual frequency of occurrence (expressed as a number of days during a year) of these circulation forms. The time variation of the correlation R(SLP,Rz) in the region of the Arctic polar vortex is presented in Fig. 9b. Comparing these data, we can see that the latest reversal of the correlation sign in the early 1980s was preceded by noticeable changes in the evolution of all the circulation forms. Since the late 1970s the frequency of occurrence of the zonal form W has been increasing. The frequency of the meridional form C started increasing too, with a simultaneous decrease of the frequency of the form E.

The results presented in Fig. 9 show that the time behavior of the correlation between pressure at high and middle latitudes and SA/GCR variability depends on the evolution of meridional processes in the atmosphere. In the epochs of increasing frequency of the meridional circulation C (~1920–1950 and since the 1980s) we can see that an increase of GCR fluxes in the 11-year solar cycle is accompanied by an intensification of polar anticyclones (an increase of the troposphere pressure at polar latitudes), an intensification of extratropical cyclogenesis (a decrease of pressure at polar fronts at middle latitudes) and a weakening of the equatorial trough (an increase of pressure at low latitudes). The long-term GCR effects on extratropical cyclogenesis during these epochs are in good agreement with the GCR effects on the development of baric systems detected on the time scale of a few days.  These epochs coincide with the periods of a strong polar vortex. 

In the epochs of decreasing meridional circulation C (~1890–1920 and ~1950–1980), corresponding to a weak polar vortex, we observe the spatial distribution of the correlations between the troposphere pressure and GCR intensity with the opposite sign: an increase of GCR isaccompanied by a weakening of polar anticyclones, a weakening of extratropical cyclogenesis and an intensification of the equatorial trough.

A possible reason for these correlation reversals may be significant changes in a dynamic coupling between the troposphere and the stratosphere during the periods of a weak and strong polar vortex. According to the data of Perlwitz and Graf (2001), the stratosphere may influence the troposphere only when the polar vortex is strong. When the vortex is weak, only the troposphere influences the stratosphere. So, if GCR (or some other factor of solar activity) produce any effect in the stratosphere in the period of a strong vortex (i.e., in the period of increasing meridional circulation), this effect may be transferred to the troposphere and we can see a pronounced correlation of extratropical cyclogenesis with GCR intensity. As the strength of the vortex reveals ~60-year variations (Gudkovich et al., 2009; Frolov et al., 2009), which influence the circulation state, this can explain the detected temporal variability of the SA/GCR effects.

And thus we can appreciate the summary slide shown at the top.  It would appear that we have been in a period of weak and wavy polar vortices as well as strong GCRs (minimal solar activity),  a continuation of the epoch since 1982 (on the left). It also suggests that the ~60 year vortex cycle is due for a shift to the epoch on the right.

Sister Cities: Minneapolis and Mogadishu

I was born in St. Paul, Minnisota, so it saddens me to see the Twin Cities falling down like the Twin Towers.  How did  “failed states” come about in the USA resembling collapsed social order in places like Somalia? There are differences, of course:  Mogadishu was blown up by Islamist Jihadists, whereas Minneapolis suffers at the hands of “Woke” Jihadists, in the streets and in positions of governance. Otherwise, the disdain for unbelievers looks similar, along with the intent to separate the sheep from the goats, with the latter as the underclass, tolerated as long as they submit and take their punishment.

Anger in Mogadishu after police kill civilian in COVID-19 curfew

Protests in Somalia after fatal shooting of at least one person by police enforcing coronavirus-related restrictions.

There has been growing anger among some residents over alleged abuses by security forces, including beatings while enforcing virus-related restrictions.

Shouts of “No police, no curfew” could be heard as protesters took to the streets and damaged a police landmark at a city roundabout.

The country’s police chief on Saturday fired the commissioner in charge of security in Bondhere district where the shooting took place.

In other Somali news:

10 killed as minibus hits roadside bomb near Mogadishu ( 2 weeks earlier)

Governor killed in suicide bombing claimed by al-Shabab (3 weeks earlier)

Black pain is ours: Minneapolis Somali community rallies over Floyd killing

Somali community, being both Muslim and Black, plays unique role within protest movement

Minneapolis hosts a large Somali-American community, the biggest Somali diaspora group in the United States, according to the American Community survey in 2017.

They began coming to the US as early as the 1980s, but more emigrated in the 1990s to escape a civil war in Somalia.

Somalis began resettling in Minneapolis after securing jobs at meat-packaging plants, and have since opened businesses and established deep roots in the city.

Ali said that the community has since struggled with its identity, as many of the older generation are averse to being considered Black Americans.

Still, most of the younger Somalis who grew up in the US have aligned themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement, especially after witnessing discrimination and racism at the hands of law enforcement, she said.

Being seen as both Black and Muslim, Minneapolis resident Haji Yussuf said, sometimes means facing multiple forms of discrimination.

“Somalis are Black. So, a white cop or a bad cop doesn’t really see a difference. He sees Black, and then when he hears the name, the racism is even more pronounced,” said Yussuf, who ran for Congress before dropping out and endorsing eventual winner Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Ilhan Omar, the Somali-American congresswoman who represents the district where Floyd was killed, on Friday introduced a resolution alongside Black Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley condemning police brutality, racial profiling and the excessive use of force by law enforcement.

Omar calls for dismantling Minnapolis Police.

At least in the US, people vote and get the government they choose.  How remarkable in 2020 to witness elected officials preside over destruction and social division, claiming to be responsibly executing their office to serve and protect the citizenry.  Wake up and smell the smoke. You too, Seattle.

 

Update 2020 Divide: Producers vs. Parasites

Update June 14, 2020:  The New Face of Diversity

The silent march in Seattle on Friday shows how diversity looks according to BLM.  Those who think like us but don’t look like us are tolerated, so long as they know their place at the bottom.  Look at how the parade was organized.  From KOMO in Seattle.  In italics with my bolds;

In Seattle, marchers met at Judkins Park at 1 p.m. and start marching to Jefferson Park just after 2 p.m.

Organizers say the march was a black-led event and asked participants to respect the march procession order, starting with Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County leadership, followed by (in order) black youth, black community members, people of color, elected and appointed officials, political candidates, white allies and bicyclists.

Rosa Parks refused to ride in the back of the bus.  Should non-Blacks submit to 2nd, 3rd, or lower class citizenship?  This is pure Marxist class warfare, with no redeeming qualities, and adding segregation on top.  What is on offer is pitched street battles to throw the rascals (whites) out, destroy their monuments, place BLM leaders in power, and impose their will upon the others.

Background

In 2015 I posted on the US socio-political climate after Trump entered the contest.  Animal Farm and Climate Change.  The introduction went this way:Animal Farm2

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a masterpiece of a simple story suggesting so many realities of societies. Among many things, it shows how a basic dichotomy mobilizes people (or creatures) for social or political action. The image above expresses the heart of the story whereby some animals took power over the others out of fear of humans.

Consider another dichotomy:    Producers Good, Parasites Bad.

Bumper Sticker

Bumper Sticker

People who are astounded by Donald Trump’s candidacy are overlooking how widely and deeply felt is this distinction between those who produce and those who take, and not only in the Tea Party but far beyond. The power arises from the emotional investment in the branding, no matter how illogical or mistaken it may be. Those who don’t feel it, don’t “get it.” Add in the envy of someone so rich he can say anything unbounded by Political Correctness, and Trump becomes a force to be reckoned with. It remains to be seen whether his followers are voters beyond being fans.

 2020 Update

Against all odds, and to his own surprise, Trump went on to win the Presidency and survive a fierce resistance from entrenched partisans who voted for his opponent.  Now that effort to unseat him is intensifying leading up to this year’s general election.  The rioting triggered by George Floyd’s death shows that the Producer/Parasite dichotomy is now overlaid with racial bigotry:  Black Lives Good/ White Lives Bad.  Premium brand items were targeted in the looting, justified by saying:  “People deserve to have nice things.”

The Parasite claim comes through the the Black Lives Matter manifesto calling for freebies.  #BlackLivesMatter movement bizarrely demands: “Reparations for…full and free access for all Black people (including undocumented and currently and formerly incarcerated people) to lifetime education…retroactive forgiveness of student loans, and support for lifetime learning programs.”  See When a Hate Cult Took the Streets

The producer/parasite divide also appeared in governors’ priorities during lockdowns:  Public Workers Essential/ Private Workers Nonessential. As some observed, knowledge workers and employees paid with tax dollars didn’t miss a check while taxpaying workers who make things were laid off. See Bad Idea: Politicians Decide Essential Business

And this gets at the heart of the contradiction between socialists’ focus on redistributing wealth vs. capitalists’ emphasis on producing wealth.  In the current meme, capitalism and its artifacts must be destroyed to make way for the people’s paradise. It is remarkable that the ideological divide is opening up at all levels,  Federal, State and City, including national policies and pandemic relief, state post-covid regulations and city policing priorities.

Another twist:  This is not your stereotypical uprising of the poor against the rich.  Ed West explains how and why upper middle class youth are in revolt against the “system” they see aligned against them.  The essay at Unherd is Why the rich are revolting. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Great Awokening and the 2020 protests are the product of growing radicalisation among the upper-middle-class

That year (1968), the United States was rocked by riots, assassinations and political crisis, and half a century later, history seems to be, if not repeating itself, then certainly rhyming. Yet while there are huge differences between the 1968 and 2020 disturbances, the one continuous theme running through both uprisings, and indeed all revolutions down the years, is the prominent role of the middle class. In particular, the upper-middle-class, the haute bourgeoise, are the driving force behind revolt and disorder throughout history, especially — as with today — when they feel they have no future.

Today’s unrest involves two sections of US society, African-Americans and upper-middle-class whites, who together form the axis of the Democratic Party, but it is the latter who are far more engaged in racial activism. The “Great Awokening”, the mass movement focused on eradicating racism in America and with a quasi-religious, almost hysterical feel to it, is dominated by the upper middle class.

The rich have always paradoxically been radical, something G.K. Chesterton observed over a hundred years ago when he wrote “You’ve got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists: they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists.”

The wider Great Awokening, of which the 2020 disturbances are a part, is a very elite phenomenon, with progressive activists nearly twice as likely as the average American to make more than $100,000 a year, nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree, and only one-quarter as likely to be black. Likewise with the radicalisation of American academia, with the safe spaces movement most prevalent at elite colleges, where students were much more likely to disinvite speakers or express more extreme views.

Climate protesters disrupt Yale-Harvard football game. Nov. 23, 2019.

Meanwhile, the expansion of the university system has created what Russian-American academic Peter Turchin called ‘elite overproduction’, the socially dangerous situation where too many people are chasing too few elite places in society, creating “a large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable… denied access to elite positions”.

So while around half of 18-year-olds are going onto college, only a far smaller number of jobs actually require a degree. Many of those graduates, under the impression they were joining the higher tier in society, will not even reach managerial level and will be left disappointed and hugely indebted. Many will have studied various activist-based subjects collectively referred to as ‘grievance studies’, so-called because they rest on a priori assumptions about power and oppression. Whether these disciplines push students towards the Left, or if it is just attending university that has this effect, people are coming out of university far more politically agitated.

This has been bubbling up for years — and then along came the coronavirus, throwing millions of people out of work, many from exactly the sort of sections most likely to cause trouble. And what makes it slightly spooky is that a few years back Turchin predicted that there would be a violent flashpoint in American politics — in 2020.

2020 Divide: Producers vs. Parasites

In 2015 I posted on the US socio-political climate after Trump entered the contest.  Animal Farm and Climate Change.  The introduction went this way:Animal Farm2

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a masterpiece of a simple story suggesting so many realities of societies. Among many things, it shows how a basic dichotomy mobilizes people (or creatures) for social or political action. The image above expresses the heart of the story whereby some animals took power over the others out of fear of humans.

Consider another dichotomy:    Producers Good, Parasites Bad.

Bumper Sticker

Bumper Sticker

People who are astounded by Donald Trump’s candidacy are overlooking how widely and deeply felt is this distinction between those who produce and those who take, and not only in the Tea Party but far beyond. The power arises from the emotional investment in the branding, no matter how illogical or mistaken it may be. Those who don’t feel it, don’t “get it.” Add in the envy of someone so rich he can say anything unbounded by Political Correctness, and Trump becomes a force to be reckoned with. It remains to be seen whether his followers are voters beyond being fans.

 2020 Update

Against all odds, and to his own surprise, Trump went on to win the Presidency and survive a fierce resistance from entrenched partisans who voted for his opponent.  Now that effort to unseat him is intensifying leading up to this year’s general election.  The rioting triggered by George Floyd’s death shows that the Producer/Parasite dichotomy is now overlaid with racial bigotry:  Black Lives Good/ White Lives Bad.  Premium brand items were targeted in the looting, justified by saying:  “People deserve to have nice things.”

The Parasite claim comes through the the Black Lives Matter manifesto calling for freebies.  #BlackLivesMatter movement bizarrely demands: “Reparations for…full and free access for all Black people (including undocumented and currently and formerly incarcerated people) to lifetime education…retroactive forgiveness of student loans, and support for lifetime learning programs.”  See When a Hate Cult Took the Streets

The producer/parasite divide also appeared in governors’ priorities during lockdowns:  Public Workers Essential/ Private Workers Nonessential. As some observed, knowledge workers and employees paid with tax dollars didn’t miss a check while taxpaying workers who make things were laid off. See Bad Idea: Politicians Decide Essential Business

And this gets at the heart of the contradiction between socialists’ focus on redistributing wealth vs. capitalists’ emphasis on producing wealth.  In the current meme, capitalism and its artifacts must be destroyed to make way for the people’s paradise. It is remarkable that the ideological divide is opening up at all levels,  Federal, State and City, including national policies and pandemic relief, state post-covid regulations and city policing priorities.

Another twist:  This is not your stereotypical uprising of the poor against the rich.  Ed West explains how and why upper middle class youth are in revolt against the “system” they see aligned against them.  The essay at Unherd is Why the rich are revolting. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Great Awokening and the 2020 protests are the product of growing radicalisation among the upper-middle-class

That year (1968), the United States was rocked by riots, assassinations and political crisis, and half a century later, history seems to be, if not repeating itself, then certainly rhyming. Yet while there are huge differences between the 1968 and 2020 disturbances, the one continuous theme running through both uprisings, and indeed all revolutions down the years, is the prominent role of the middle class. In particular, the upper-middle-class, the haute bourgeoise, are the driving force behind revolt and disorder throughout history, especially — as with today — when they feel they have no future.

Today’s unrest involves two sections of US society, African-Americans and upper-middle-class whites, who together form the axis of the Democratic Party, but it is the latter who are far more engaged in racial activism. The “Great Awokening”, the mass movement focused on eradicating racism in America and with a quasi-religious, almost hysterical feel to it, is dominated by the upper middle class.

The rich have always paradoxically been radical, something G.K. Chesterton observed over a hundred years ago when he wrote “You’ve got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists: they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists.”

The wider Great Awokening, of which the 2020 disturbances are a part, is a very elite phenomenon, with progressive activists nearly twice as likely as the average American to make more than $100,000 a year, nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree, and only one-quarter as likely to be black. Likewise with the radicalisation of American academia, with the safe spaces movement most prevalent at elite colleges, where students were much more likely to disinvite speakers or express more extreme views.

Climate protesters disrupt Yale-Harvard football game. Nov. 23, 2019.

Meanwhile, the expansion of the university system has created what Russian-American academic Peter Turchin called ‘elite overproduction’, the socially dangerous situation where too many people are chasing too few elite places in society, creating “a large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable… denied access to elite positions”.

So while around half of 18-year-olds are going onto college, only a far smaller number of jobs actually require a degree. Many of those graduates, under the impression they were joining the higher tier in society, will not even reach managerial level and will be left disappointed and hugely indebted. Many will have studied various activist-based subjects collectively referred to as ‘grievance studies’, so-called because they rest on a priori assumptions about power and oppression. Whether these disciplines push students towards the Left, or if it is just attending university that has this effect, people are coming out of university far more politically agitated.

This has been bubbling up for years — and then along came the coronavirus, throwing millions of people out of work, many from exactly the sort of sections most likely to cause trouble. And what makes it slightly spooky is that a few years back Turchin predicted that there would be a violent flashpoint in American politics — in 2020.

Media Blowing on Embers of Covid Fear

Alex Berenson explains in a twitter thread (here). Text in italics with my bolds

1/ This panic is likely to prove even more embarrassing than previous panics. Here’s why: the media is both confused and conflating several different data points in an effort to stir hysteria. (Stop me if you’ve heard this before.)

What do I mean?
2/ So: you’ve heard positive tests are up in several states. True. The media refers to these as “cases,” as if positive tests have clinical significance by themselves. They do not. The vast majority of people with positive tests do not become ill enough to need hospitalization

3/ Much less intensive care or ventilator support. For people under 50, this is true in the extreme. But the daily age distribution of positive tests is rarely if ever supported…

4/ Second: you’ve heard overall hospitalizations are up in some states. This is also true. THIS IS A FEATURE, NOT A BUG. Overall hospitalizations are rising because people are returning to hospitals for elective (and in some cases very necessary) surgeries that were postponed

5/ Now, in some of these states COVID-related hospitalizations have also risen (though they make up a tiny fraction of overall hospitalizations). Scary, right?

No. When people go to the hospital for elective surgeries they are now routinely tested for COVID...

6/ Whether or not they are symptomatic. Hospitals have financial and legal as well as medical incentives to do this. IF THEY ARE POSITIVE, hospitals will report them as COVID patients (since, technically, they are), EVEN IF THEY HAVE NO COVID SYMPTOMS.

7/ This fact accounts for the bizarre disconnect between the fact the number of people going to emergency rooms with influenza-like or COVID-like symptoms is NOT rising (and remains in the low single digits) even in states reporting more hospitalizations…

8/ As well as the fact that fewer hospitalized cases are now progressing to ventilators (I can’t swear to this in every state, but it appears to be a trend)…

9/ And the fact that deaths no longer seem to have any relationship to case counts in many states (true even accounting for the fact that deaths lag).

The question you should be asking yourself: why aren’t Europe and Asia seeing post-lockdown spikes if this trend is real?

10/ And don’t say masks. Masks are not routine in Europe. So either COVID is somehow different post-lockdown in Europe (and different in different states, too)… or this is just one last gasp of panic porn.

And if you want confirmation from epidemiologists, here Facts about Covid-19 from Swiss Policy Research.

Fully referenced facts about Covid-19, provided by experts in the field, to help our readers make a realistic risk assessment. (Regular updates below)

“The only means to fight the plague is honesty.” (Albert Camus, 1947)

Overview

1.According to the latest immunological and serological studies, the overall lethality of Covid-19 (IFR) is about 0.1% and thus in the range of a strong seasonal influenza (flu).

2. Even in global “hotspots”, the risk of death for the general population of school and working age is typically in the range of a daily car ride to work. The risk was initially overestimated because many people with only mild or no symptoms were not taken into account.

3. Up to 80% of all test-positive persons remain symptom-free. Even among 70-79 year olds, about 60% remain symptom-free. Over 95% of all persons develop at most moderate symptoms.

4. Up to 60% of all persons may already have a certain cellular background immunity to Covid19 due to contact with previous coronaviruses (i.e. common cold viruses).

5. The median or average age of the deceased in most countries (including Italy) is over 80 years and only about 4% of the deceased had no serious preconditions. The age and risk profile of deaths thus essentially corresponds to normal mortality.

6. In many countries, up to two thirds of all extra deaths occurred in nursing homes, which do not benefit from a general lockdown. Moreover, in many cases it is not clear whether these people really died from Covid19 or from weeks of extreme stress and isolation.

7. Up to 30% of all additional deaths may have been caused not by Covid19, but by the effects of the lockdown, panic and fear. For example, the treatment of heart attacks and strokes decreased by up to 60% because many patients no longer dared to go to hospital.

8. Even in so-called “Covid19 deaths” it is often not clear whether they died from or with coronavirus (i.e. from underlying diseases) or if they were counted as “presumed cases” and not tested at all. However, official figures usually do not reflect this distinction.

9. Many media reports of young and healthy people dying from Covid19 turned out to be false: many of these young people either did not die from Covid19, they had already been seriously ill (e.g. from undiagnosed leukaemia), or they were in fact 109 instead of 9 years old. The claimed increase in Kawasaki disease in children also turned out to be false.

10. The normal overall mortality per day is about 8000 people in the US, about 2600 in Germany and about 1800 in Italy. Influenza mortality per season is up to 80,000 in the US and up to 25,000 in Germany and Italy. In several countries Covid19 deaths remained below strong flu seasons.

11. Regional increases in mortality can occur if there is a collapse in the care of the elderly and sick as a result of infection or panic, or if there are additional risk factors such as severe air pollution. Special regulations for dealing with the deceased sometimes led to additional bottlenecks in funeral or cremation services.

12. In countries such as Italy and Spain, and to some extent the UK and the US, hospital overloads due to strong flu waves are not unusual. In addition, up to 15% of doctors and health workers are now being put into quarantine, even if they develop no symptoms.

13. The often shown exponential curves of “corona cases” are misleading, as the number of tests also increased exponentially. In most countries, the ratio of positive tests to tests overall (i.e. the positive rate) remained constant at 5% to 25% or increased only slightly. In many countries, the peak of the spread was already reached well before the lockdown.

14. Countries without curfews and contact bans, such as Japan, South Korea or Sweden, have not experienced a more negative course of events than other countries. Sweden was even praised by the WHO and now benefits from higher immunity compared to lockdown countries.

15. The fear of a shortage of ventilators was unjustified. According to lung specialists, the invasive ventilation (intubation) of Covid19 patients, which is partly done out of fear of spreading the virus, is in fact often counterproductive and damaging to the lungs.

16. Contrary to original assumptions, various studies have shown that there is no evidence of the virus spreading through aerosols (i.e. tiny particles floating in the air) or through smear infections (e.g. on door handles or smartphones). The main modes of transmission are direct contact and droplets produced when coughing or sneezing.

17. There is also no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of face masks in healthy or asymptomatic individuals. On the contrary, experts warn that such masks interfere with normal breathing and may become “germ carriers”. Leading doctors called them a “media hype” and “ridiculous”.

18. Many clinics in Europe and the US remained strongly underutilized or almost empty during the Covid19 peak and in some cases had to send staff home. Numerous operations and therapies were cancelled, including many cancer screenings and organ transplants.

19. Several media were caught trying to dramatize the situation in hospitals, sometimes even with manipulative images and videos. In general, the unprofessional reporting of many media maximized fear and panic in the population.

20. The virus test kits used internationally are prone to errors and can produce false positive and false negative results. Moreover, the official virus test was not clinically validated due to time pressure and may sometimes react positive to other coronaviruses.

21. Numerous internationally renowned experts in the fields of virology, immunology and epidemiology consider the measures taken to be counterproductive and recommend rapid natural immunisation of the general population and protection of risk groups.

22. At no time was there a medical reason for the closure of schools, as children hardly ever transmit the virus or fall ill with it themselves. There is also no medical reason for small classes, masks or ‘social distancing’ rules in schools.

23. The claim that only severe Covid-19 but not influenza may cause venous thrombosis and pulmonary (lung) embolism is not true, as it has been known for 50 years that severe influenza greatly increases the risk of thrombosis and embolism, too.

24. Several medical experts described vaccines against coronaviruses as unnecessary or even dangerous. Indeed, the vaccine against the so-called swine flu of 2009, for example, led to sometimes severe neurological damage and lawsuits in the millions.

25. The number of people suffering from unemployment, depressions and domestic violence as a result of the measures has reached historic record values. Several experts predict that the measures will claim more lives than the virus itself. According to the UN millions of people around the world may fall into absolute poverty and famine.

26. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that the “corona crisis” will be used for the massive and permanent expansion of global surveillance. The renowned virologist Pablo Goldschmidt spoke of a “global media terror” and “totalitarian measures”. Leading British virologist professor John Oxford spoke of a “media epidemic”.

27. More than 500 scientists have warned of an “unprecedented surveillance of society” through problematic apps for “contact tracing”. In some countries, such “contact tracing” is already carried out directly by the secret service. In several parts of the world, the population is already being monitored by drones and facing serious police overreach.

28. A 2019 WHO study on public health measures against pandemic influenza found that from a medical perspective, “contact tracing” is “not recommended in any circumstances.

See also: Pandemonia Funnies Madebyjimbob

Oceans Cooling May 2020

The best context for understanding decadal temperature changes comes from the world’s sea surface temperatures (SST), for several reasons:

  • The ocean covers 71% of the globe and drives average temperatures;
  • SSTs have a constant water content, (unlike air temperatures), so give a better reading of heat content variations;
  • A major El Nino was the dominant climate feature in recent years.

HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from that source, the latest version being HadSST3.  More on what distinguishes HadSST3 from other SST products at the end.

The Current Context

The cool 2020 Spring is not just your local experience, it’s the result of Earth’s ocean cooling off after last summer’s warming in the Northern Hemisphere.  The chart below shows SST monthly anomalies as reported in HadSST3 starting in 2015 through May 2020.
A global cooling pattern is seen clearly in the Tropics since its peak in 2016, joined by NH and SH cycling downward since 2016.  In 2019 all regions had been converging to reach nearly the same value in April.

Then  NH rose exceptionally by almost 0.5C over the four summer months, in August exceeding previous summer peaks in NH since 2015.  In the 4 succeeding months, that warm NH pulse has reversed sharply.  May NH anomaly is up a little from March but matching last November.  SH and Tropics SSTs bumped upward in March, but dropped sharply since. In May the Global anomaly is the same as December 2019.

Note that higher temps in 2015 and 2016 were first of all due to a sharp rise in Tropical SST, beginning in March 2015, peaking in January 2016, and steadily declining back below its beginning level. Secondly, the Northern Hemisphere added three bumps on the shoulders of Tropical warming, with peaks in August of each year.  A fourth NH bump was lower and peaked in September 2018.  As noted above, a fifth peak in August 2019 exceeded the four previous upward bumps in NH.

And as before, note that the global release of heat was not dramatic, due to the Southern Hemisphere offsetting the Northern one.  The major difference between now and 2015-2016 is the absence of Tropical warming driving the SSTs.

A longer view of SSTs

The graph below  is noisy, but the density is needed to see the seasonal patterns in the oceanic fluctuations.  Previous posts focused on the rise and fall of the last El Nino starting in 2015.  This post adds a longer view, encompassing the significant 1998 El Nino and since.  The color schemes are retained for Global, Tropics, NH and SH anomalies.  Despite the longer time frame, I have kept the monthly data (rather than yearly averages) because of interesting shifts between January and July.

To enlarge open image in new tab.

1995 is a reasonable (ENSO neutral) starting point prior to the first El Nino.  The sharp Tropical rise peaking in 1998 is dominant in the record, starting Jan. ’97 to pull up SSTs uniformly before returning to the same level Jan. ’99.  For the next 2 years, the Tropics stayed down, and the world’s oceans held steady around 0.2C above 1961 to 1990 average.

Then comes a steady rise over two years to a lesser peak Jan. 2003, but again uniformly pulling all oceans up around 0.4C.  Something changes at this point, with more hemispheric divergence than before. Over the 4 years until Jan 2007, the Tropics go through ups and downs, NH a series of ups and SH mostly downs.  As a result the Global average fluctuates around that same 0.4C, which also turns out to be the average for the entire record since 1995.

2007 stands out with a sharp drop in temperatures so that Jan.08 matches the low in Jan. ’99, but starting from a lower high. The oceans all decline as well, until temps build peaking in 2010.

Now again a different pattern appears.  The Tropics cool sharply to Jan 11, then rise steadily for 4 years to Jan 15, at which point the most recent major El Nino takes off.  But this time in contrast to ’97-’99, the Northern Hemisphere produces peaks every summer pulling up the Global average.  In fact, these NH peaks appear every July starting in 2003, growing stronger to produce 3 massive highs in 2014, 15 and 16.  NH July 2017 was only slightly lower, and a fifth NH peak still lower in Sept. 2018.

The highest summer NH peak came in 2019, only this time the Tropics and SH are offsetting rather adding to the warming. Since 2014 SH has played a moderating role, offsetting the NH warming pulses. Now in January 2020 last summer’s unusually high NH SSTs have been erased. (Note: these are high anomalies on top of the highest absolute temps in the NH.)

What to make of all this? The patterns suggest that in addition to El Ninos in the Pacific driving the Tropic SSTs, something else is going on in the NH.  The obvious culprit is the North Atlantic, since I have seen this sort of pulsing before.  After reading some papers by David Dilley, I confirmed his observation of Atlantic pulses into the Arctic every 8 to 10 years.

But the peaks coming nearly every summer in HadSST require a different picture.  Let’s look at August, the hottest month in the North Atlantic from the Kaplan dataset.
The AMO Index is from from Kaplan SST v2, the unaltered and not detrended dataset. By definition, the data are monthly average SSTs interpolated to a 5×5 grid over the North Atlantic basically 0 to 70N. The graph shows warming began after 1992 up to 1998, with a series of matching years since. Because the N. Atlantic has partnered with the Pacific ENSO recently, let’s take a closer look at some AMO years in the last 2 decades.
This graph shows monthly AMO temps for some important years. The Peak years were 1998, 2010 and 2016, with the latter emphasized as the most recent. The other years show lesser warming, with 2007 emphasized as the coolest in the last 20 years. Note the red 2018 line is at the bottom of all these tracks. The black line shows that 2020 began slightly warm, then set records for 3 months before dropping below 2016 and 2017.

Summary

The oceans are driving the warming this century.  SSTs took a step up with the 1998 El Nino and have stayed there with help from the North Atlantic, and more recently the Pacific northern “Blob.”  The ocean surfaces are releasing a lot of energy, warming the air, but eventually will have a cooling effect.  The decline after 1937 was rapid by comparison, so one wonders: How long can the oceans keep this up? If the pattern of recent years continues, NH SST anomalies may rise slightly in coming months, but once again, ENSO which has weakened will probably determine the outcome.

Footnote: Why Rely on HadSST3

HadSST3 is distinguished from other SST products because HadCRU (Hadley Climatic Research Unit) does not engage in SST interpolation, i.e. infilling estimated anomalies into grid cells lacking sufficient sampling in a given month. From reading the documentation and from queries to Met Office, this is their procedure.

HadSST3 imports data from gridcells containing ocean, excluding land cells. From past records, they have calculated daily and monthly average readings for each grid cell for the period 1961 to 1990. Those temperatures form the baseline from which anomalies are calculated.

In a given month, each gridcell with sufficient sampling is averaged for the month and then the baseline value for that cell and that month is subtracted, resulting in the monthly anomaly for that cell. All cells with monthly anomalies are averaged to produce global, hemispheric and tropical anomalies for the month, based on the cells in those locations. For example, Tropics averages include ocean grid cells lying between latitudes 20N and 20S.

Gridcells lacking sufficient sampling that month are left out of the averaging, and the uncertainty from such missing data is estimated. IMO that is more reasonable than inventing data to infill. And it seems that the Global Drifter Array displayed in the top image is providing more uniform coverage of the oceans than in the past.

uss-pearl-harbor-deploys-global-drifter-buoys-in-pacific-ocean

USS Pearl Harbor deploys Global Drifter Buoys in Pacific Ocean

George Was Foil for Climate Uprising

The rampage in Minneapolis was apparently planned ahead of time by organizers of the Sunrise Movement, who are committed to mayhem in the name of climate, as much or more so than Extinction Rebellion.  The scoop comes from Millenium Millie, supported by undercover reporters.
 
 
We have sources imbedded within these groups to get to the bottom of where all this leftist radicalization is coming from. We got their plans, manuals, intercepted internal communications, and have recordings of their zoom chats.
 

What you are about to see is part of a two year undercover investigation into the leftist radicalization imbedded within the climate justice movement that contributed to the riots in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In this first video, we are going to show how the Sunrise Movement played a preemptive role in carrying out the mayhem, taking advantage of George Floyd’s death and using it as a trigger point, to further push their Green New Deal agenda and promoting the abolition of the police.

What some parents may have thought were innocent youth organizations genuinely fostered and ran by children are actually top-down monolithic structures with private intelligence, military contractors, and foreign interests influencing children to carry out their subversive objectives.

The events that erupted in Minneapolis, Minnesota were not a spontaneous reaction to the murder of George Floyd. These were well planned events anticipating some perfect trigger point to bring about the “new normal” – a world without police, without borders, without industry, without wealth, without private property, without an economy – a world based on communist ideals imbedded within the Green New Deal.

The Green New Deal is not about climate change, it is about climate justice – a radical new ideology hellbent on destroying western civilization under the false pretense that white supremacy is the leading cause of climate change, social injustice and all problems globally.

The organizers of these Youth Non-government Organizations, or Youngos, embellish white supremacy as a systemic problem, hyper-focusing on statistically rare instances of racial inequality and injustice, while ignoring great strides of progress the United States has made over the past century towards equal opportunity and criminal justice reform. However, in order to normalize radical policies put forth by the Green New Deal, crises have to be capitalized on to further their agenda while destroying the great accomplishments of civil rights movements of the past.

We didn’t expect to find organizers radicalizing middle school and high school children teaching them military tactics and preparation for high risk actions. Some of these tactics include escalation provocation techniques, blocking freeway traffic, and how to get arrested bogging-down law enforcement in the name of destroying capitalism to make way for the Green New Deal.


N. Atlantic May 2020

RAPID Array measuring North Atlantic SSTs.

For the last few years, observers have been speculating about when the North Atlantic will start the next phase shift from warm to cold. The way 2018 went and 2019 followed suggested this may be the onset.  However, 2020 started out against that trend, now backing off a bit.  First some background.

. Source: Energy and Education Canada

An example is this report in May 2015 The Atlantic is entering a cool phase that will change the world’s weather by Gerald McCarthy and Evan Haigh of the RAPID Atlantic monitoring project. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

This is known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and the transition between its positive and negative phases can be very rapid. For example, Atlantic temperatures declined by 0.1ºC per decade from the 1940s to the 1970s. By comparison, global surface warming is estimated at 0.5ºC per century – a rate twice as slow.

In many parts of the world, the AMO has been linked with decade-long temperature and rainfall trends. Certainly – and perhaps obviously – the mean temperature of islands downwind of the Atlantic such as Britain and Ireland show almost exactly the same temperature fluctuations as the AMO.

Atlantic oscillations are associated with the frequency of hurricanes and droughts. When the AMO is in the warm phase, there are more hurricanes in the Atlantic and droughts in the US Midwest tend to be more frequent and prolonged. In the Pacific Northwest, a positive AMO leads to more rainfall.

A negative AMO (cooler ocean) is associated with reduced rainfall in the vulnerable Sahel region of Africa. The prolonged negative AMO was associated with the infamous Ethiopian famine in the mid-1980s. In the UK it tends to mean reduced summer rainfall – the mythical “barbeque summer”.Our results show that ocean circulation responds to the first mode of Atlantic atmospheric forcing, the North Atlantic Oscillation, through circulation changes between the subtropical and subpolar gyres – the intergyre region. This a major influence on the wind patterns and the heat transferred between the atmosphere and ocean.

The observations that we do have of the Atlantic overturning circulation over the past ten years show that it is declining. As a result, we expect the AMO is moving to a negative (colder surface waters) phase. This is consistent with observations of temperature in the North Atlantic.

Cold “blobs” in North Atlantic have been reported, but they are usually winter phenomena. For example in April 2016, the sst anomalies looked like this

But by September, the picture changed to this

And we know from Kaplan AMO dataset, that 2016 summer SSTs were right up there with 1998 and 2010 as the highest recorded.

As the graph above suggests, this body of water is also important for tropical cyclones, since warmer water provides more energy.  But those are annual averages, and I am interested in the summer pulses of warm water into the Arctic. As I have noted in my monthly HadSST3 reports, most summers since 2003 there have been warm pulses in the north atlantic, and 2019 was one of them.

The AMO Index is from from Kaplan SST v2, the unaltered and not detrended dataset. By definition, the data are monthly average SSTs interpolated to a 5×5 grid over the North Atlantic basically 0 to 70N.  The graph shows the warmest month August beginning to rise after 1993 up to 1998, with a series of matching years since.  December 2017 set a record at 20.6C, but note the plunge down to 20.2C for December 2018, matching 2011 as the coldest years since 2000. December 2019 shows an uptick but still lower than 2016-2017.

December 2019 confirmed the summer pulse weakening, along with 2018 well below other recent peak years since 1998. Then came a surprise in 2020.  Because McCarthy refers to hints of cooling to come in the N. Atlantic, let’s take a closer look at some AMO years in the last 2 decades.

The 2020 North Atlantic Surprise

This graph shows monthly AMO temps for some important years. The Peak years were 1998, 2010 and 2016, with the latter emphasized as the most recent. The other years show lesser warming, with 2007 emphasized as the coolest in the last 20 years. Note the red 2018 line was at the bottom of all these tracks.  2019 began slightly cooler than January 2018, then tracked closely before rising in the summer months.  Through December 2019 tracked warmer than 2018 but cooler than other recent years in the North Atlantic.

In 2020 following a warm January, N. Atlantic temps in February, March and April were the highest in the record. Now May 2020 temps are still warm but lower than May 2016 and 2017.  That is a concern for the upcoming hurricane season, along with the lack of a Pacific El Nino providing wind shear against developing tropical storms.

More recently, temps in higher Atlantic latitudes (45N to 65N) have cooled, as shown in this graph and map from Tropical Tidbits (Levi Cowan)

Footnote:  Levi Cowan’s Tropical Tidbits is an excellent source of information regarding tropical storm activity, even before disturbances are assigned names, as well as ones like tropical storm Christobal now raining over states in the midwest.

Update: Stories vs. Facts

This post revisits a previous discussion of how public discourse is increasingly governed by stories at the expense of facts.  The recent street violence provides another example.  NYT columnist Bari Weiss provides an insider’s look at how the media produces stories instead of reports.

Bari Weiss Twitter Thread

The civil war inside The New York Times between the (mostly young) wokes the (mostly 40+) liberals is the same one raging inside other publications and companies across the country. The dynamic is always the same. (Thread.)

The Old Guard lives by a set of principles we can broadly call civil libertarianism. They assumed they shared that worldview with the young people they hired who called themselves liberals and progressives. But it was an incorrect assumption.

The New Guard has a different worldview, one articulated best by @JonHaidt and @glukianoff. They call it “safetyism,” in which the right of people to feel emotionally and psychologically safe trumps what were previously considered core liberal values, like free speech.

Perhaps the cleanest example of this dynamic was in 2018, when David Remnick, under tremendous public pressure from his staffers, disinvited Steve Bannon from appearing on stage at the New Yorker Ideas Festival. But there are dozens and dozens of examples.

I’ve been mocked by many people over the past few years for writing about the campus culture wars. They told me it was a sideshow. But this was always why it mattered: The people who graduated from those campuses would rise to power inside key institutions and transform them.

I’m in no way surprised by what has now exploded into public view. In a way, it’s oddly comforting: I feel less alone and less crazy trying to explain the dynamic to people. What I am shocked by is the speed. I thought it would take a few years, not a few weeks.

Here’s one way to think about what’s at stake: The New York Times motto is “all the news that’s fit to print.” One group emphasizes the word “all.” The other, the word “fit.”

W/r/t Tom Cotton’s oped and the choice to run it: I agree with our critics that it’s a dodge to say “we want a totally open marketplace of ideas!” There are limits. Obviously. The question is: does his view fall outside those limits? Maybe the answer is yes.

If the answer is yes, it means that the view of more than half of Americans are unacceptable. And perhaps they are. https://theweek.com/speedreads/917760/plurality-democrats-support-calling-military-aid-police-during-protests-poll-shows

“A plurality of Democrats would support calling in the U.S. military to aid police during protests,…
President Trump on Monday threatened to call in the United States military in an effort to curtail protests across the United States, and it turns out most Americans — even some of those who think the president is doing a poor job of handling the demonstrations against police brutality — would support such an action.”

Background from Previous Post

Facts vs Stories is written by Steven Novella at Neurologica. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

There is a common style of journalism, that you are almost certainly very familiar with, in which the report starts with a personal story, then delves into the facts at hand often with reference to the framing story and others like it, and returns at the end to the original personal connection. This format is so common it’s a cliche, and often the desire to connect the actual new information to an emotional story takes over the reporting and undermines the facts.

This format reflects a more general phenomenon – that people are generally more interested in and influenced by a good narrative than by dry facts. Or are we? New research suggests that while the answer is still generally yes, there is some more nuance here (isn’t there always?). The researchers did three studies in which they compared the effects of strong vs weak facts presented either alone or embedded in a story. In the first two studies the information was about a fictitious new phone. The weak fact was that the phone could withstand a fall of 3 feet. The strong fact was that the phone could withstand a fall of 30 feet. What they found in both studies is that the weak fact was more persuasive when presented embedded in a story than alone, while the strong fact was less persuasive.

They then did a third study about a fictitious flu medicine, and asked subjects if they would give their e-mail address for further information. People are generally reluctant to give away their e-mail address unless it’s worth it, so this was a good test of how persuasive the information was. When a strong fact about the medicine was given alone, 34% of the participants were willing to provide their e-mail. When embedded in a story, only 18% provided their e-mail.  So, what is responsible for this reversal of the normal effect that stories are generally more persuasive than dry facts?

The authors suggest that stories may impair our ability to evaluate factual information.

This is not unreasonable, and is suggested by other research as well. To a much greater extent than you might think, cognition is a zero-sum game. When you allocate resources to one task, those resources are taken away from other mental tasks (this basic process is called “interference” by psychologists). Further, adding complexity to brain processing, even if this leads to more sophisticated analysis of information, tends to slow down the whole process. And also, parts of the brain can directly suppress the functioning of other parts of the brain. This inhibitory function is actually a critical part of how the brain works together.

Perhaps the most dramatic relevant example of this is a study I wrote about previously in which fMRI scans were used to study subjects listening to a charismatic speaker that was either from the subjects religion or not. When a charismatic speaker that matched the subject’s religion was speaking, the critical thinking part of the brain was literally suppressed. In fact this study also found opposite effects depending on context.

The contrast estimates reveal a significant increase of activity in response to the non-Christian speaker (compared to baseline) and a massive deactivation in response to the Christian speaker known for his healing powers. These results support recent observations that social categories can modulate the frontal executive network in opposite directions corresponding to the cognitive load they impose on the executive system.

So when listening to speech from a belief system we don’t already believe, we engaged our executive function. When listening to speech from within our existing belief system, we suppressed our executive function.

In regards to the current study, is something similar going on? Does processing the emotional content of stories impair our processing of factual information, which is a benefit for weak facts but actually a detriment to the persuasive power of strong facts that are persuasive on their own?

Another potential explanation occurs to me, however (showing how difficult it can be to interpret the results of psychological research like this). It is a reasonable premise that a strong fact is more persuasive on it’s own than a weak fact – being able to survive a 3 foot fall is not as impressive as a 30 foot fall. But, the more impressive fact may also trigger more skepticism. I may simply not believe that a phone could survive such a fall. If that fact, however, is presented in a straightforward fashion, it may seem somewhat credible. If it is presented as part of a story that is clearly meant to persuade me, then that might trigger more skepticism. In fact, doing so is inherently sketchy. The strong fact is impressive on its own, why are you trying to persuade me with this unnecessary personal story – unless the fact is BS.There is also research to support this hypothesis. When a documentary about a fringe topic, like UFOs, includes the claim that, “This is true,” that actually triggers more skepticism. It encourages the audience to think, “Wait a minute, is this true?” Meanwhile, including a scientists who says, “This is not true,” may actually increase belief, because the audience is impressed that the subject is being taken serious by a scientist, regardless of their ultimate conclusion. But the extent of such backfire effects remains controversial in psychological research – it appears to be very context dependent.

I would summarize all this by saying that – we can identify psychological effects that relate to belief and skepticism. However, there are many potential effects that can be triggered in different situations, and interact in often complex and unpredictable ways. So even when we identify a real effect, such as the persuasive power of stories, it doesn’t predict what will happen in every case. In fact, the net statistical effect may disappear or even reverse in certain contexts, because it is either neutralized or overwhelmed by another effect. I think that is what is happening here.

What do you do when you are trying to be persuasive, then? The answer has to be – it depends? Who is your audience? What claims or facts are you trying to get across? What is the ultimate goal of the persuasion (public service, education, political activism, marketing)? I don’t think we can generate any solid algorithm, but we do have some guiding rules of thumb.

First, know your audience, or at least those you are trying to persuade. No message will be persuasive to everyone.

If the facts are impressive on their own, let them speak for themselves. Perhaps put them into a little context, but don’t try to wrap them up in an emotional story. That may backfire.

Depending on context, your goal may be to not just provide facts, but to persuade your audience to reject a current narrative for a better one. In this case the research suggests you should both argue against the current narrative, and provide a replacement that provides an explanatory model.

So you can’t just debunk a myth, conspiracy theory, or misconception. You need to provide the audience with another way to make sense of their world.

When possible find common ground. Start with the premises that you think most reasonable people will agree with, then build from there.

Now, it’s not my goal to outline how to convince people of things that are not true, or that are subjective but in your personal interest. That’s not what this blog is about. I am only interested in persuading people to portion their belief to the logic and evidence. So I am not going to recommend ways to avoid triggering skepticism – I want to trigger skepticism. I just want it to be skepticism based on science and critical thinking, not emotional or partisan denial, nihilism, cynicism, or just being contrarian.

You also have to recognize that it can be difficult to persuade people. This is especially true if your message is constrained by facts and reality. Sometimes the real information is not optimized for emotional appeal, and it has to compete against messages that are so optimized (and are unconstrained by reality). But at least know the science about how people process information and form their beliefs is useful.

Postscript:  Hans Rosling demonstrates how to use data to tell the story of our rising civilization.

Bottom Line:  When it comes to science, the rule is to follow the facts.  When the story is contradicted by new facts, the story changes to fit the facts, not the other way around.

See also:  Data, Facts and Information