Professor Jones says in Raiders of the Lost Ark that the first step in archaeology is going to the library. The line always stuck with me. My previous career was in an archaic form of IT. When technicians were having trouble with equipment, software or systems, I insisted they look at old trouble tickets and ask other techs if they had similar issues. There were few problems that someone had not solved before, and you could save a lot of time not duplicating the research of others.
Same thing in the Reactosphere. If I’ve got a question about politics, history, or power, there’s a good chance someone in the ‘sphere wrote about it, very often with a good primary source for it. Hence, my delight in being directed to this article on the substitution of religion for economics.
Marxism seems to have evolved to try and place human existence under rigid centralized control, based on plans driven by figures, to maximize production. (An example: James C. Scott’s study of agrarian planning in Seeing Like a State.)
Does this kind of thinking really work, ever? An example:
It was unwise to have Robert McNamara (who helped the US Air Force with statistics in the fire bombing of Japan) as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson during the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam War. He was intelligent, but he missed simple wisdom on human behaviour in war, which a reading of The Art of War and a year in combat service would provide. Colonel David Hackworth had this to say in an interview with PBS:
Q: Why was body count so important? Or was it?
Hackworth: McNamara was a number-cruncher and he wanted to have something to crunch, a number. The overall strategy was attrition, to wear out the enemy. By counting bodies, we would know the impact of the war, its success or failure. That became the standard measurement of success. It was the score, and everyone knew the score.
What happened was that body counting completely eroded the honor code of the military, specifically among the officer corps. It taught people to lie. The young lieutenants fresh out of the military academies were taught to lie. The generals, who were pretty proficient liars anyway, pushed the body count. A high body count meant great success. So, in every battle, enemy bodies were counted several times. If there were 200 bodies, suddenly the figure became 650 and it became, to quote Westmoreland, “another great American victory.”
It corrupted the officer corps and it appalled the soldiers, who by that time were mostly draftees. They were scurrying around the jungle counting bodies, which was a pretty awesome and terrible thing to do. It had a real boomerang effect on the military because it was like a cancer; it destroyed its soul.
The movie The Fog of War is McNamara showing why he was not suited for the role. I like McNamara, but he is a cautionary tale and an object lesson: Others have dealt with problems before and you need to learn from them. He speaks passionately about his errors because he knows they cost the lives of thousands if not millions.
McNamara is honest, even sympathetic at times, but did not learn until it was too late: There are some very critical decisions you cannot “numbers” your way out of. Sometimes you need to understand the non-quantifiable human aspects of the situation, hence his fallacy.
What Caught My Eye This Week
Aidan MacLear sets the record straight on Whores and Actors.
Alf has said goodbye to AlfaNL. I’d been reading for a few years, and always looked forward to his posts. He’ll continue posting at the gardenoftheinternet.com, and the latest is the need for a new religion.
Evolutionist X does an excellent review of Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate. A bit of history: In ancient times, having the neighbours over for dinner meant something else. And her thoughts on Millennials and burnout. Millennials seem to have entered a phase of recognizing there are severe faults in the ‘system’. They are in that ‘doubling down will work’ phase. Hopefully, they’ll learn to find their own way. May I suggest this letter, for starters, my young progressives.
The Covingtion Smirk is not off the radar yet. A special guest post at Statistician to the Stars, eloquently confirming what we already knew: don’t trust the media without a long pause. Part One of American Sun’s study on the event. PA discusses the general trend which lead up to the uproar.
Scholar’s Stage on the history of words as weapons.
Dr. Spencer provides a transcript of Michael Chrichton’s warnings on the Climate ChangeTM “crisis” in 2003. It’s highly recommended. In a few places he is prophetic:
I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.
Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.
Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
And also this:
The deterioration of the American media is dire loss for our country. When distinguished institutions like the New York Times can no longer differentiate between factual content and editorial opinion, but rather mix both freely on their front page, then who will hold anyone to a higher standard?
The answer, as we’ve learned the hard way, are zealots in purity spirals with infinite standards.
Dr. Spencer also asks: If cold waves are caused by global warming, why are they decreasing? Also, Climate Audit considers the Pages2K Antarctic temperature data. It’s a highly technical blog, but if you really want to get into the science (whatever that means) behind the global warming industry check it out.
William Briggs was busy this week: the next installment of his Summary Against Modern Thought. A Reactionary movie review – When Worlds Collide. A survey of the Great Mustaches of History, and two This Week in Doom entries: the best one and the even better one. Plus, a guest post explaining how: “We have all lost our national identity. All of us. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Why?”
Palladium’s take on the Davos Conference.
Faith Goldy has a video on Canada’s new laws and taskforce to deal with
Wrongthink foreign interference in elections. I thought that would mean stopping things like this, or preventing offering assistance to your favourite DRC candidate, or using federal government funds to donate to her foundation. But no, it’s meant to keep interference by [Select evil party: Russians/Iranians/North Koreans/Basket of Deplorableans/Covington High School Kids] in [the Current Year] at bay. (As if any of those parties care. Trust me, if they want Canada wrecked, they simply need sit on their hands and let the Liberals win.)
Finally, the Reactosphere is well aware that any time you see a grassroots movement, there is big money from somewhere backing it up. Vivian Krause, at Rethink Campaigns, originally going after questionable fish farming research, has been tracking the big money behind the activist campaigns against oil sands and fossil-fuel pipelines. She’s even been getting time on the CBC. Canadians are noticing a sea change with the federal and provincial governments who are undermining the oil and gas, using the rhetoric of groups, which Vivian reveals, are funded by sources foreign to Canada.
Energy is vital to any country, and especially Canada, where it’s really bloody cold. And despite the well wishing of enviroactivists and Climate ChangeTM adherents, wind and solar power will not replace oil and gas by using magic spells such as “diversify and change the economy” and “get off fossil fuels“. Those undermining the industry have zero implementable options on what to replace it with (other than, the State needs to make it happen, which a brief review of 20th century history will show always ends badly).
Canada needs hydrocarbons now and for the foreseeable future. Oil and gas is a major source of tax revenue, vital to the economy and trade with other nations, and essential to insure people do not freeze in the dark. But Québec and British Columbia are lauded for not allowing the flow of ‘dirty’ Alberta oil.
Any country whose exercise of sovereignty over its energy industry amounts to a two handed approach of simultaneous dependence and undermining will find someone else holding that sovereignty in their place. This, where Canada finds itself, which Vivian is shedding some much needed light on.
Keep on Reactin’!