William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Stream: There’s Big Money in Global Warming Alarmism

The government is ready to hand out more global warming grants.

The government is ready to hand out more global warming grants.

Cop21 is upon us. Dread it. The Pope yesterday spoke of the corrupting influence of “special interest” groups. Amen to that. Although these groups aren’t who the Pope thinks they are. More on that tomorrow.

Today: go to The Stream to see There’s Big Money in Global Warming Alarmism

A sociologist with no training in the physical sciences is puzzled why most Americans think the world is not doomed by global warming. So flummoxed is Yale’s Justin Farrell that he decided to study the question in the most scientific way possible. And he managed to publish his results, “Corporate funding and ideological polarization about climate change,” in the once prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

What do you think his conclusions were? Perhaps that thirty years of failed temperature predictions boosted Americans’ skepticism? Or that the obvious eagerness of politicians to leverage exaggerated fears have left many skittish? Or maybe it’s the dearth of severe storms, despite the many promises that floods and droughts would drown and parch us all?

No, none of that. Farrell discovered that private groups spent their own money to say that things were not as bad as alarmists claimed. He told The Washington Post that these “contrarian efforts have been so effective for the fact that they have made it difficult for ordinary Americans to even know who to trust.” Indeed, I, myself a climate scientist, no longer trust anything non-scientists like Farrell tell me about global warming (which he incorrectly calls “climate change”).

Farrell is right about one thing: Global warming alarmism is big business. On one side you have Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, The Climate Project and dozens upon dozens of other non-governmental organizations who solicit hundreds of millions from private donors and from government, and who in turn award lucrative grants to further their agenda…

Go there to read the rest.

I have a nice little list of the groups. Tomorrow we talk about the Holy Father’s other errors. Yes, errors.

Old Lodge Skins’ Prayer Of Thanksgiving

The real Little Big Man.

The real Little Big Man.

In what is now a tradition, here is the death prayer from Old Lodge Skins, which comes at the close of Little Big Man by Thomas Berger (who died in 2014).

Then he commenced to pray to the Everywhere Spirit in the same stentorian voice, never sniveling but bold and free.

“Thank you for making me a Human Being! Thank you for helping me become a warrior! Thank you for all my victories and for all my defeats. Thank you for my vision, and for the blindness in which I saw further.

“I have killed many men and loved many women and eaten much meat. I have also been hungry, and I thank you for that and for the added sweetness that food has when you receive it after such a time.

“You make all things and direct them in their ways, O Grandfather, and now you have decided that the Human Beings will soon have to walk a new road. Thank you for letting us win once before that happened. Even if my people must eventually pass from the face of the earth, they will live on in whatever men are fierce and strong. So that when women see a man who is proud and brave and vengeful, even if he has a white face, they will cry: ‘That is a Human Being!’…”

I stood there in awe and Old Lodge Skins started to sing, and when the cloud arrived overhead, the rain started to patter across his uplifted face, mixing with the tears of joy there.

It might have been ten minutes or an hour, and when it stopped and the sun’s setting rays cut through, he give his final thanks and last request.

“Take care of my son here,” he says, “and see that he does not go crazy.”

He laid down then on the damp rocks and died right away. I descended to the treeline, fetched back some poles, and built him a scaffold. Wrapped him in the red blanket and laid him thereon. Then after a while I started down the mountain in the fading light.

Incidentally, eschew the movie of the same name, which shares only the title and the names of a few characters from the book, a book which is the moral and historical opposite of the politically correct film. It is a book which contains no anachronisms, itself a matter of great celebration.

Also highly recommended (as historical orientation) is the classic The Fighting Cheyennes by George Bird Grinnell, who was born in 1849 and who wrote the book in 1915 (it’s still in print). It is a non-patronizing, non-romantic look at the battles the Cheyenne fought, in, as much as was possible, their own words.

Berger wrote Little Big Man at a time (1964) when white boys still wanted to run off and be Indians. Nearly twenty years later, the TV show Grizzly Adams fulfilled the same escapist function. What little boys want to be now they had best keep quiet about or out come the pills (or awards).

Old Lodge Skins was Little Big Man’s adoptive grandfather. The scene takes place shortly after the Battle of Little Big Horn which the Cheyenne called the Battle at the Greasy Grass.

There is much in this prayer that still works. Men, remember to offer it or one like it as thanksgiving today.

Best Equivocation Joke: Open Thread


It being a slow traffic week and me being on the road and swamped—COP21 is coming up next week, working on a new book, news of the old one is coming soon, et cetera, et cetera—I didn’t have time to say anything of interest today.

What better time for a joke challenge? As I often say, the best jokes are built on equivocation. My all-time favorite: Two cannibals are eating a clown and one says to the other, “Does this taste funny to you?”

And that reminds me of one told to me by Ianto Watt, author of The Barbarian Bible:The True History of Man Since the Fall of Troy. Did you hear about the cannibal who ate his brother? He threw up his arms in despair.

Since much of the world is at war—and hey, even we might be—it’s time to be a little less serious. What are your favorite jokes? But only those based on equivocation, mistaking one word or sound for another.

For example, this one doesn’t count: One snowman said to another, “That’s funny. I smell carrots, too.”

But this one does: Why did Mozart kill all his chickens? Because when he asked them who the best composer was, they’d all say “Bach bach bach!”

Get cracking! (And don’t forget my mother reads this blog.)

Ridley Claims Materialists, Atheists, & Secular Humanists Don’t Preach

Books, not guns?

Books, not guns?

Matt Ridley has a curious piece in The Times (no, the better one), “Why Muslims are turning away from Islam“.

(Incidentally, Ridley and I both have chapters in the new National Association of Scholars report “Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement To Turn A Generation Against Fossil Fuels“.)

Ridley starts: “As scepticism and materialism replace blind faith, more people than ever worldwide are opting for atheism.” Blind faith, eh. As far as I have been able to discover, there is no such thing. No one believes a thing for no reason; no one, except for a fool or a drunk, believes just for the sake of believing. Even science, like mathematics, requires faith, i.e. the believing in things for which no observational evidence will ever be forthcoming. Skip it. Everybody knows “blind faith” is a euphemism for one of the monotheistic beliefs (for which, in the case of Christianity, there is ample observational evidence).

And materialism, what’s that? A coherent philosophy that nobody holds. Every nihilist is a liar—at some point. Materialism is the philosophy that only material substances exist. Accepting that leads to the rigorous conclusion that nothing matters. Not the good of the human race, not the bloody hijinks of terrorists. Nothing—as in nothing. No materialist or nihilist is ever consistent, though. In every instance, there is a call to a universal standard of good and evil, standards which cannot exist if materialism is true. Let’s see if that’s so with Ridley.

Quietly, non-belief is on the march. Those who use an extreme form of religion to poison the minds of disaffected young men are furious about the spread of materialist and secularist ideas, which they feel powerless to prevent. In 50 years’ time, we may look back on this period and wonder how we failed to notice that Islam was about to lose market share, not to other religions, but to humanism.

To disparage poisoning a mind is to lay claim to a universal evil, which is nonsensical if materialism holds. Of course, one can be furious under materialism, but it means nothing. Anger is merely another word for a certain configuration of chemicals in somebody’s nervous system. But anger or fury, and what comes of it in the form of action, it’s neither good nor bad if materialism is true. Kill or let live: it’s all the same under materialism.

Ridley is right that non-belief among monotheists, even among Muslims, is waxing. He notes this in an approving tone. (Be careful what you wish for, etc.) He says the rise of atheism is “all the more remarkable when you think that, with a few notable exceptions, atheists or humanists don’t preach, let alone pour money into evangelism.”

Atheists or humanists don’t preach?

Oh yes, they do. Constantly. You can’t shut them up! Their evangelization is vigorous, well-supported, and ubiquitous. Every secular cathedral—the bulk of our schools (at every level), media, and entertainment complex—preaches daily from pre-dawn into the wee small hours. There is a cataract of preachy propaganda gushing through the air.

Did we not just see muscular street-corner style soap-boxing at Mizzou? Flick on the dream machine and turn to any ad- or government-supported channel. Nonstop lecturing and hectoring on the essentials of non-belief. They even control the sports networks! The soldiers of secularism are indefatigable. Or maybe that should be spelled sexularism.

Ridley admits as much.

In the Arab world, according to Brian Whitaker, author of Arabs Without God, what tempts people to leave the faith is not disgust at the antics of Islamist terrorists, but the same things that have drained church attendance here: materialism, rationalism and scepticism.

Materialism we know; and skepticism merely means sexularism (or secularism, if you must). But rationalism doesn’t belong in the list. It is rational to believe in God—which ought to tell you what irrationalism is. Ridley quotes a guy who says, what I think is true, “Not a single advanced democracy that enjoys benign, progressive socio-economic conditions retains a high level of popular religiosity.” Yes: progressive democracies are nothing but trouble.

Hey: ever notice these guys love coming up with self-congratulatory names for themselves? “Rationalists”, “brights”, “humanists”. Sheesh. That reminds me a of a brilliant one-act mini play.

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