Swap in “The protesters turned violent” or “The demonstrators resorted to vandalism, theft, and mayhem” and the answer, which everybody knows, remains the same.
A progressive is a man who, while beating you over the head with his “Support NPR” poster, simultaneously lectures you on the evils of violence. A progressive is a woman who chants “Free speech!” as she and the crowd she instigated rushes the dais. A progressive is an academic who looks upon a fallen world and would fix it by Theory, by preaching that the ends justify the means.
There is no philosophy more evil than that.
Meet Rod Lamberts, the “Deputy Director, Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science at Australian National University” and malevolent promulgator of evil. In an essay in The Conversation, which is rapidly becoming a rallying spot for would-be brutalists, Lamberts said, “What we need now is to become comfortable with the idea that the ends will justify the means.” Yes, comfortable.
His topic is global warming and how when it finally strikes—soon, soon—it will be “hugely damaging.” Lamberts is like many impassioned activists: keen, but not terribly well educated. From his official biography, he apparently has no formal background in any area of relevance to climatology. I’m sorry to keep repeating this list, but until we all have it by heart, it’s necessary. These areas are fluid flow physics, air-water coupling dynamics, land use, thermodynamics, radiative transfer, the statistical techniques of forecast verification, the mathematics of inverse problems, chaos, massive computer modeling, parameterizations, and so forth. I’m willing to bet five American dollars (Yours Truly is not rich) that the man couldn’t define vorticity or CAPE.
Lamberts is a psychologist. With a specialty in “science communication.” In other words, he is a reporter or journalist with a fancy title. Not having the talent or inclination to do the hard work himself, he collects lists of scientists whose world views most accord with his own, and then repackages the work of those scientists for the perusal of people even less well trained than himself.
If we consider that scientists are our modern-day priesthood, then this makes Lamberts a sort of nethinim, which were assistants to the priests in ancient Jerusalem. Men, that is, not holy enough to make the grade themselves, but who still wanted to make an “impact.” Feeling acutely their lack of status, these men often take to becoming more Pharisaical than any Pharisee. When caught in a mistake, not infrequent occurrences, their arguments become like the wife who knows she’s in the wrong but who is loathe to admit it. It’s not what you said but how you said it.
But you will have noticed the clarifier. I said “scientists whose world views most accord with his own” and not just “scientists.” There is some logic in a man polling scientists on a subject in which he is ignorant, but there is no sense in purposely eschewing from his poll those scientists whose conclusions he does not wish to be true.
Lamberts has not, for instance, referenced Yours Truly or any of the even more qualified but equally skeptical physicists who say (in essence) “Stop worrying so much.” If we skeptics are right, then Lamberts is out of a job, or at least out of a comfortable source of funding. If skeptics are right, then the world doesn’t need men like Lamberts telling everyone what to do.
And that is intolerable to him. We need to become comfortable with the idea that the ends will justify the means. We all know where words like these lead. Yet where is Lambert’s war, the war he so obviously lusts for, in the face of the true uncertainty that exists?
Update Apropos. “They doubtless believed—and found it easy to believe—that they alone knew what was good for society and that they would accomplish that good once their power was secure and unchallengeable.”