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Stephen Pinker another Straw Men warrior
Posted: 10 March 2018 09:32 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Today I read another George Monbiot (3/9/18) article that’s fits into the category - if I only could have, That’s something I’d have been proud of writing,
as opposed to most the other stuff out there which tends to have me rolling my eyes more often than not.

After starting his article, I stopped to view some of Pinker’s talks and Q/A’s on YouTube - I recall him from previous viewings, and that not-good feeling welled up inside.
To me he inhabits a reality/head space that seems an opposite to my own*.
  First though, I’ll admit he’s got a hell of scholastic career behind him,
apparently in the previous century he did ground braking research on visual cognition, language acquisition and such.

I am not referring that scientist Stephen Pinker.  I’m referring to the smug guy on the stage. 
The guy who reminds me of Jordan Peterson, or Pascal Bruckner for that matter, tough background to argue with,
yet what I’m hearing from them now is more deceptive showman than substance.

Creators of convenient straw men to drive their respective arguments home and for the gullible to gobble up,
rather than any serious examinations of today’s situation.
Appearing to be more interested in “success” and an adoring following than anything genuinely substantive (like their early work).

After seeing who Monbiot was writing about, I knew I had to share it here since its part and parcel of my struggle to dissect the bullshit
that people like Pinker peddle - and Monbiot does a much better job than I can dream of.

George Monbiot
http://www.monbiot.com/2018/03/09/contrary-to-reason/

Stephen Pinker claims to champion Enlightenment values. But his latest book is an affront to them
——

I am broadly sympathetic to his worldview. I agree with him that scientific knowledge is a moral imperative, and that we must use it to enhance human welfare.
Like him, I’m enthusiastic about technologies that horrify other people, such as fourth-generation nuclear reactors and artificial meat.
So I began reading his new book Enlightenment Now with excitement.

I expected something bracing, original, well-sourced and well-reasoned. Instead, in the area I know best – environmental issues –
I found an astonishing mishmash of factoids, mistakes and outright myths. The alarm began to sound for me when he characterised
“the mainstream environmental movement” as “laced with misanthropy, including an indifference to starvation,
an indulgence in ghoulish fantasies of a depopulated planet, and Nazi-like comparisons of human beings to vermin, pathogens and cancer.”

Yes, I have come across such views, but they are few and far between. When they are expressed on social media,
they are rapidly slapped down by other environmentalists. They are about as far from the environmental mainstream as they are from the humanitarian mainstream.

But this is just the beginning of the problem. Rather than using primary sources, Pinker draws on anecdote,
cherry-picking and a litany of discredited talking points developed by anti-environmental thinktanks. ...

The same dependency on secondary or tertiary sources allows Pinker to claim that ...

... I doubt such poor scholarship will dim the adulation with which his claims are received. While Pinker is lauded, far more interesting and original books, such as Jeremy Lent’s The Patterning Instinct and Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics, are scarcely reviewed at all. If there is one aspect of modernity that owes nothing to the Enlightenment, it is surely the worship of celebrities.

http://www.monbiot.com

*Oh, why do I fancy “Pinker inhabits a reality/head space that seems an opposite to my own.”
Because my work (home repairs, construction) has immediate direct physical feedbacks.
His current reality is buried in rhetorical arm-waving and feed his celebrity machine,
He has no reality touchstone.

My constant touchstone is physical reality.
I must constantly evaluate my ideas and plans in relation to the unfolding situation,
I don’t have the luxury of wallowing in puffing up my ego with superficial fluff.
I have a job to get done and I learned a long time ago to doubt myself,
and allow the facts of the matter to dictate how I work, or live for that matter.
End result is satisfied me and clients, because the job does get done correctly.

If I’m wrong or make a mistake, its something look at directly, understand why/what happened, to think about it and learn
as opposed to something to avoid with hand-waving and distractions.

And so far it’s worked out pretty good.  The calls keep coming in and I’m quite happy with my circumstances, modest thought they may be.
Now if only our world weren’t coming apart in front of me and a seemingly clueless citizenry, I’d be the happiest guy in the world.

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Posted: 10 March 2018 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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George Monbiot
http://www.monbiot.com/2018/03/09/contrary-to-reason/

Stephen Pinker claims to champion Enlightenment values. But his latest book is an affront to them
——

I am broadly sympathetic to his worldview. I agree with him that scientific knowledge is a moral imperative, and that we must use it to enhance human welfare.
Like him, I’m enthusiastic about technologies that horrify other people, such as fourth-generation nuclear reactors and artificial meat.
So I began reading his new book Enlightenment Now with excitement.

I expected something bracing, original, well-sourced and well-reasoned. Instead, in the area I know best – environmental issues –
I found an astonishing mishmash of factoids, mistakes and outright myths.

To be clear, that doesn’t me I agree with everything George says, though I can understand the logic that takes him there.

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Posted: 10 March 2018 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Why not read the book instead of dismissing his work as bullshit based on video clips and someone else’s description.

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Posted: 10 March 2018 07:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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So how would you explain the strong anti gmo stance from environmentalists? Media tends to ignore the topic,  I asume it’s toxic to ratings.

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Posted: 10 March 2018 09:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Beltane - 10 March 2018 05:28 PM

Why not read the book instead of dismissing his work as bullshit based on video clips and someone else’s description.

Well I don’t have that much free time.  But, what I do do, and what I did do, was march over to YouTube and plug in his name and listen to him in various presentations and lordie are their a lot videos of him and his golden locks and usual misrepresentation of what he’s opposing.

Why the hell should I waste my time on his book when I already know his arguments are built on the back of fictions.
Straw men, tailored to his specifications.  He can be the sweetest smoothest most fascinating writer there is - but his stories and arguments are still built on bullshit.

And that’s how the Libertarians do it, always with the what if world, that ignores what is.

Lausten - 10 March 2018 07:29 PM

So how would you explain the strong anti gmo stance from environmentalists? Media tends to ignore the topic, 
I asume it’s toxic to ratings.

What’s the question?
Media ignores all the serious topics.  When’s the last time you heard anything about our population explosion   ;-P

[ Edited: 10 March 2018 09:51 PM by Citizenschallenge-v.3 ]
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Posted: 10 March 2018 09:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Lausten - 10 March 2018 07:29 PM

So how would you explain the strong anti gmo stance from environmentalists?

A) certainly not all.
B) I never said both sides weren’t guilty of foolishness and wishful thinking over sober assessment of physical reality.
C) That topic is an excellent example of both sides misrepresenting each other, plus selectively,
a willingness to ignore the facts that didn’t mesh with one’s particular position.
In the end alway emotionalizing the topic, rather than focusing on the issue and breaking it down dispassionately.


D) what’s that got to do with the price of tea in China anyways   :cheese:  or?

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Posted: 10 March 2018 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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About your GMO thing, on the one hand I don’t have any issue with ingesting GMO produce.
However, that does not negate the fact that GMOs have some frightening cascading consequences that should not be ignored.

Here’s a couple items off the top of the stack of literature.

Unintended Effects of Genetic Manipulation
A Project of The Nature Institute
Project Director: Craig Holdrege
http://natureinstitute.org/nontarget/updates.htm

http://natureinstitute.org/evol/index.htm
Their “evolution” page is nice summary that would be an example of an objective collection.

Then there’s this.  I like the way they frame it.  I know from my own decades of watching science develop there were often times simplistic explanations, were handed to the public,
that I just knew couldn’t be right.  I remember the first time I read the description of the first billion years as the “boring billion” - It really irritated me, I thought the guy was a fool, but the cool thing was that that made me think about that super deep time even more.  Then, Dr Hazen comes along and no more boring billion instead an utterly fascinating story in its own right has been revealed. 
They were among the earliest most essential building blocks in this fantastic march of creation Earth is on.
 
And to think, we are pretty much the last generations, before the evolutionary clock of Earth get’s reset yet again,
see what survives to start all over again.
*  For real, it’s geophysics.  Our infinitely fertile imaginations are no match for that.

Mission: Nature around us is whole and interconnected.
Though we are part of nature, we do not yet fathom her depths, and our actions do not embody her wisdom.
A fundamental shift in our way of viewing the world is necessary if we would contribute to nature’s unity rather than dissolution.
At The Nature Institute, we develop new qualitative and holistic approaches to seeing and understanding nature and technology.
Through research, publications, and educational programs we work to create a new paradigm that embraces nature’s wisdom in shaping a sustainable and healthy future.

Modern science has increasingly moved out of nature and into the laboratory, driven by a desire to find an underlying mechanistic basis of life. Despite all its success, this approach is one-sided and urgently calls for a counterbalancing movement toward nature. Only if we find ways of transforming our propensity to view and control nature in terms of parts and mechanisms, will we be able to see, value, and protect the integrity of nature and the interconnectedness of all things. This demands a contextual way of seeing.

Pesticide use is up—have biotech crops backfired?
Kenrick Vezina | Genetic Literacy Project | May 23, 2013
**

A recent report in the Wall Street Journal points to an overall increase pesticides and lays the blame for this increase at the feet of Monsanto’s pest-resistant Bt corn. The easy, appealingly David-versus-Goliath implication? Bt crops are backfiring now that nature has outsmarted them.

This isn’t exactly news, though. The first Bt-resistant rootworms were found in 2011, and “just to be safe” many farmers have since been spraying their fields with soil pesticides to eliminate any resistant hookworms their Bt corn might not deter. ...

[ Edited: 10 March 2018 10:59 PM by Citizenschallenge-v.3 ]
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Posted: 10 March 2018 10:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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§
*
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e44ydPIQGSc&t=3435s
59:30 is the bottom line spelled out.
And we are doing all we can to increase atmospheric CO2 as fast as possible.  There’s some insanely suicidal math at work here.
**
https //geneticliteracyproject org/2013/05/23/pesticide-use-is-up-does-that-mean-pest-resistant-gm-crops-have-failed/

[ Edited: 10 March 2018 10:56 PM by Citizenschallenge-v.3 ]
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Posted: 11 March 2018 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Citizenschallenge-v.3 - 10 March 2018 09:47 PM

Beltane - 10 March 2018 05:28 PM

Why not read the book instead of dismissing his work as bullshit based on video clips and someone else’s description.

Well I don’t have that much free time.  But, what I do do, and what I did do, was march over to YouTube and plug in his name and listen to him in various presentations and lordie are their a lot videos of him and his golden locks and usual misrepresentation of what he’s opposing.

Why the hell should I waste my time on his book when I already know his arguments are built on the back of fictions.
Straw men, tailored to his specifications.  He can be the sweetest smoothest most fascinating writer there is - but his stories and arguments are still built on bullshit.

I’ve liked Pinker’s writing. Is there a specific example you have a problem with?

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Posted: 11 March 2018 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 11 March 2018 07:21 AM

I’ve liked Pinker’s writing. Is there a specific example you have a problem with?

I don’t have the time to do that justice*, that’s why I shared George Monbiot’s writing since there is no question he knows the dude much better than me,
What I know from my admittedly sparse listening to Pinker is that Monbiot’s words are accurate.

Citizenschallenge-v.3 - 10 March 2018 09:32 AM

Stephen Pinker, Contrary to Reason
George Monbiot
http://www.monbiot.com/2018/03/09/contrary-to-reason/

Stephen Pinker claims to champion Enlightenment values. But his latest book is an affront to them
——
I am broadly sympathetic to his worldview. I agree with him that scientific knowledge is a moral imperative, and that we must use it to enhance human welfare.
Like him, I’m enthusiastic about technologies that horrify other people, such as fourth-generation nuclear reactors and artificial meat.
So I began reading his new book Enlightenment Now with excitement.

I expected something bracing, original, well-sourced and well-reasoned. Instead, in the area I know best – environmental issues –
I found an astonishing mishmash of factoids, mistakes and outright myths. The alarm began to sound for me when he characterised
“the mainstream environmental movement” as “laced with misanthropy, including an indifference to starvation,
an indulgence in ghoulish fantasies of a depopulated planet, and Nazi-like comparisons of human beings to vermin, pathogens and cancer.”...


Pinker reminded me of Pascal Bruckner, and once I did take the time to do a more or less paragraph by paragraph commentary of one of his famous essays
so if you were really interested where I’m coming from, I’d recommend this
(though I should probably reread it myself, I imagine it could use a bit of cleaning up, but hey more immediate tasks at hand.)

Watching Flames, Pascal Bruckner Fiddles, fanaticism of the apocalypse
http://citizenschallenge.blogspot.com/2014/12/watchingflames-pascalbruckner-fiddles.html

December 28, 2014

I respect you Andrew and feel I owe you a little more than that.  So I pulled up a short video and share some terse observations.

The surprising decline in violence | Steven Pinker
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ramBFRt1Uzk

{Okay to be fair this was in 2007 - though seems to me, I heard repeating this stuff in one of the more recent ones I listened to the other evening.}

1:15 setting up his first straw man

10:00 That who series of claims, is a sort of cherry picking.  Too busy making his case to actually lay out the full spectrum of relevant evidence.

13:15 All that and no mention about how the vendetta process is what the increasing middle east insanity is about, or rise of trump for that matter has more to do with vendetta revenge than anything else - 

No mention of increasing misery that driving refuge crisis in too many places.
No mention of the violence and degradation of this biosphere we depend on for your survival, it’s all LUFT GESCHEFT

14:00 Here again, so easily glosses over the root causes of those failed states falling back into anarchy, as he skips along making his case
15:30 Again totally the rosy picture, not a mention of the real and significant damages we are inflicting on our life support system

Pinker is all about an intellectual head game, more than assessing the real physical Earth we exist within.
It’s like beautiful songs, wonderful in many respects, but when its all said and done not much physical substance there,
it’s all about our wonderful mind-scapes and that soul of ours that keeps pushing us forward.

That’s fine and dandy, but disconnected none the less.

17:00 we see how that’s worked out

cheers

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Posted: 11 March 2018 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Citizenschallenge-v.3 - 10 March 2018 09:57 PM
Lausten - 10 March 2018 07:29 PM

So how would you explain the strong anti gmo stance from environmentalists?

A) certainly not all.
B) I never said both sides weren’t guilty of foolishness and wishful thinking over sober assessment of physical reality.
C) That topic is an excellent example of both sides misrepresenting each other, plus selectively,
a willingness to ignore the facts that didn’t mesh with one’s particular position.
In the end alway emotionalizing the topic, rather than focusing on the issue and breaking it down dispassionately.


D) what’s that got to do with the price of tea in China anyways   :cheese:  or?

It has to do with this from Monbiot’s characterization of Pinker

“the mainstream environmental movement” as “laced with misanthropy, including an indifference to starvation,
an indulgence in ghoulish fantasies of a depopulated planet, and Nazi-like comparisons of human beings to vermin, pathogens and cancer.”

I find exactly that. The history of dealing with starvation, in a nutshell is that a guy from MN went down to help Mexico with it’s crisis of blight. They vastly improved hybridization work. That was then taken to India, and again was heralded as a modern miracle, saving millions or billions of lives. But then everyone just sort of got tired with the whole idea and left Africa to fend for itself. Worse we got people like Vandava Shiva trying to make a buck off people being afraid of GMOs.

As for misinformation, counting gallons of pesticides used is a poor use of statistics, especially RoundUp. RoundUp use has increased because people who need pesticides to do their job see it’s a good product. It is also far less toxic than the products it replaced and has resulted in less need for tillage thus saving topsoil. The fact that bugs and weeds develop resistance is business as usual. That’s been happening as long as we have been farming. Calling them superweeds or saying we have to develop more toxic chemicals to combat them is exactly the “humans are cancer” narrative Pinker is talking about.

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Posted: 11 March 2018 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I haven’t read Enlightenment Now, but I did read Pinker’s book on violence. I thought it was pretty good. Regarding your very first “straw man” observation at 1:15, he picks an example of someone reporting a peaceful, 3rd world society, and he sets it up as an example of the mindset of believing that primitive peoples are generally more peaceful than modern peoples that he intends to refute. How is that a strawman? Do you think that people do not generally believe in this idea, that primitive peoples are more peaceful?

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Posted: 11 March 2018 01:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 11 March 2018 12:16 PM

I haven’t read Enlightenment Now, but I did read Pinker’s book on violence. I thought it was pretty good.

It might well have been.
Sorry I can’t get into the rest of your question, too much going on.

I just came back real quick because I came up with this summation of the real point I think I’m driving at here:

Anyone, no matter how accomplished,
who discusses the future without taking into account the physical changes people and society and this physical planet we are dependent on
are facing, is off in their own mindscapes and not dealing with reality.


gotta run

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Posted: 12 March 2018 04:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 11 March 2018 12:16 PM

Regarding your very first “straw man” observation at 1:15, he picks an example of someone reporting a peaceful, 3rd world society, and he sets it up as an example of the mindset of believing that primitive peoples are generally more peaceful than modern peoples that he intends to refute. How is that a strawman?

 
Well for starters thinking he can summarize the whole scope human society based on a couple studies.  I can’t recall specifics, nor have time to hunt them down, but I know many ancient finds have been made that show societies without violence.  That doesn’t wish away the Aztecs, but it means the Aztecs don’t represent all of mankind. (just using that example because of their known blood lust)
His apparent non-consideration of the different ages of mankind also disturbed me.  He comes across cartoonish to me.

Also the transparency of his main task, apologetics for the modern outlook. 
It feels to me, his job is to make us feel good about our gluttonous ways - and that’s what he accomplishes.

and don’t mean to be a pecker head, but it has absolutely zero to do with an honest assessment of today’s situation.

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Posted: 12 March 2018 05:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Citizenschallenge-v.3 - 10 March 2018 09:47 PM

Beltane - 10 March 2018 05:28 PM

Why not read the book instead of dismissing his work as bullshit based on video clips and someone else’s description.

Well I don’t have that much free time.  But, what I do do, and what I did do, was march over to YouTube and plug in his name and listen to him in various presentations and lordie are their a lot videos of him and his golden locks and usual misrepresentation of what he’s opposing.

Why the hell should I waste my time on his book when I already know his arguments are built on the back of fictions.
Straw men, tailored to his specifications.  He can be the sweetest smoothest most fascinating writer there is - but his stories and arguments are still built on bullshit.

And that’s how the Libertarians do it, always with the what if world, that ignores what is.

This is monumentally incoherent, even by your standards.

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Posted: 12 March 2018 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Citizenschallenge-v.3 - 12 March 2018 04:39 PM
TromboneAndrew - 11 March 2018 12:16 PM

Regarding your very first “straw man” observation at 1:15, he picks an example of someone reporting a peaceful, 3rd world society, and he sets it up as an example of the mindset of believing that primitive peoples are generally more peaceful than modern peoples that he intends to refute. How is that a strawman?

 
Well for starters thinking he can summarize the whole scope human society based on a couple studies.  I can’t recall specifics, nor have time to hunt them down, but I know many ancient finds have been made that show societies without violence.  That doesn’t wish away the Aztecs, but it means the Aztecs don’t represent all of mankind. (just using that example because of their known blood lust)
His apparent non-consideration of the different ages of mankind also disturbed me.  He comes across cartoonish to me.

Also the transparency of his main task, apologetics for the modern outlook. 
It feels to me, his job is to make us feel good about our gluttonous ways - and that’s what he accomplishes.

and don’t mean to be a pecker head, but it has absolutely zero to do with an honest assessment of today’s situation.

I suspected this. Pinker doesn’t directly address your crackpot views on society and nature, and you are compelled to attack his scientific integrity.

That’s all we need to know.

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