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A Clockwork Green

12 Jan 2022 | OP ED Watch

The alarmists are chronically frustrated that despite being obviously right and experts and virtuous and all, they’re having so much trouble shoving the proles into line. If persuasion doesn’t work, perhaps sticking wires into their brains and finding a way to reprogram them will. “Although most people want to see climate change slowed down, many do not behave in an appropriately sustainable way. Researchers at the University of Bern have now used brain stimulation to demonstrate that the ability to mentalise with the future victims of climate change encourages sustainable behaviour.” And if you doubt that mentalise is a word (apparently it means to be able to “understand the mental state – of oneself or others”), how about electroshock?

You see, “During the study, participants received stimulation to a part of their brain which plays an important role for taking the perspective of others. This stimulation led to more sustainable behaviour.” But relax. “‘Applying brain stimulation to the general public is out of the question, of course,’ explains Benedikt Langenbach, lead author of the study and a former PhD student at the Social Neuro Lab.” Instead apparently the trick is to use made up tragedies to mimic the effect of the brain probe. As another of the researchers explained, “Our neuroscientific findings can therefore help to make communication on the climate crisis more effective, for instance by giving those affected a name and a face instead of talking about an anonymous ‘future generation’.” So there you have it. Fred’s gonna fry. Look Up Now.

If using an electric current to influence current events fails, pull on your jackboots. An article by a climate political scientist in the American Political Science Review warns that “contemporary political theory literature—which largely conceptualizes legitimacy in terms of democracy or basic rights” deplores authoritarianism. But “I argue, however, that there exists another, overlooked aspect of legitimacy concerning a government’s ability to ensure safety and security…. in emergency situations, conflicts between these two aspects of legitimacy can and often do arise. A salient example of this is the COVID-19 pandemic… Climate change poses an even graver threat to public safety. Consequently, I argue, legitimacy may require a similarly authoritarian approach.” However “if we wish to avoid legitimating authoritarian power, we must act to prevent crises from arising that can only be resolved by such means.” So do as I tell you, or I’ll hit you. Lovely. Still, we suppose it beats the Clockwork Orange treatment.

Meanwhile an article in the British Journal of Political Science, published by Cambridge, complains that the 3% of scientists who reject the 97% consensus are 97% not climate scientists. They’re also old. “As a result, we explore other factors (for example, collective memories and ideological views) that may have also contributed to expert and non-expert views.” Yeah. Gotta hate those ideological views. An ideologue being someone who insists on having their own opinion even after hearing mine. And so the non-ideological zealots are losing patience fast, and looking to neuroscience or worse to force us to abandon our opinions and adopt theirs.

We may not think of it as oppression when a government forces firms to disparage their own products in their ads, as for instance in France where car companies now have to urge you to walk instead. But it is an infringement of freedom of speech, and there’s more where it came from.

If you want Melanie Phillips’ opinion, and we do, the problem is a doomsday cult whose pronouncements have long since ceased attempting to be rational. For instance Prince Charles calling the 2021 COP26 in Glasgow “quite literally” the “last chance saloon,” having told whichever one it was in Copenhagen in 2009, that “our planet has reached a point of crisis and we have only seven years before we lose the levers of control”. So Charlie stole the handle in 2016 and there is nothing we can do. (In fact Copenhagen was COP15 and we’ve had 11 more last chances… but who’s counting? Oh right. We are. So is Phillips, who insists that “this is absolute madness…. there is no evidence that today’s climate is displaying anything other than the normal fluctuations in climate patterns over the centuries. The predictions of climate apocalypse are all based on dodgy computer modelling, laughably inconsistent measurements of temperature and outright falsifications of the evidence.” And a habit of reaching for maximum rhetorical effect in the short run at the expense of long-run viability, like an addict.

There’s a classic passage in the memoir Up From Slavery by the first great Black American leader after Emancipation, Booker T. Washington: “In meeting crowds of people at public gatherings, there is one type of individual that I dread. I mean the crank. I have become so accustomed to these people now that I can pick them out at a distance when I see them elbowing their way up to me. The average crank has a long beard, poorly cared for, a lean, narrow face, and wears a black coat.”

And, these days, has an electric probe and is reaching for your head.

One comment on “A Clockwork Green”

  1. Great content.
    Don't Look Up was good advice given the end that really was the movie end. Ignorance is bliss.
    Interesting that the green script had an imminent and measurable catastrophe to confront unlike the ever-receding apocalypse slated to visit your neighborhood probably somewhere around 2200.

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