« Comedy Imitates Life | Main | MSNBC: A Bastion of White Privilege »

November 23, 2009

Here and There

Attila has been following the Goreball warming controversy so I don't have to:

More on Climategate at PJM, from Charlie, who emphasizes that with an information leak this massive, we must proceed with caution. Not all of the leaked emails have been authenticated, after all.

But if the bulk of the material is truly authentic, what are the implications?

More here.

John Hinderaker makes an interesting point about our feel-good President. I wouldn't be surprised if the phenomenon he cites didn't have a lot to do with the baffling cries of "racism" that pervaded the campaign and - despite having been rather thoroughly refuted by Obama's election - have continued even now that he's in the Oval Office.

As my mother liked to tell me when I was a little girl, often the way other people act has less to do with you than it does with how they feel about themselves. It's not hard to see how throwing the race card induces a sense of moral superiority.

But what does that say about the practical effect of Obama's election on the nation? It is arguable that the election of our first black president - far from unifying Americans of different races - creates powerful incentives for some people to behave in ways that only deepen racial tensions.

Could this be one reason a recent poll found that blacks believe race relations have grown worse rather than better?

During the 2008 election, 38 percent of blacks surveyed thought racial discrimination was a serious problem. In the new survey, 55 percent of blacks surveyed believed it was a serious problem, which is about the same level as it was in 2000.

I'm not inclined to put too much credence in a single poll, but the results seem counterintuitive. On the other hand, this study suggests an interesting theory:

Merely observing someone publicly blame an individual in an organization for a problem -- even when the target is innocent -- greatly increases the odds that the practice of blaming others will spread with the tenacity of the H1N1 flu, according to new research from the USC Marshall School of Business and Stanford University.

Nathanael J. Fast, an assistant professor of management and organization at the USC Marshall School of Business and Larissa Tiedens, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford, conducted four different experiments and found that publicly blaming others dramatically increases the likelihood that the practice will become viral. The reason: blame spreads quickly because it triggers the perception that one's self-image is under assault and must be protected.

I've commmented many times on the enormous gap between what Obama preaches and what he practices. He seems to think he should get credit for talking about doing the right thing regardless of whether his actual behavior is 180 out from his rhetoric. Anyone who has ever raised children knows that the best way to get them to behave well (especially when your back is turned) is to be a good role model; to reinforce through your actions the standards you set through your speech. Kids pay more attention to what we do than what we say.

It wouldn't surprise me a bit to find that adults react in exactly the same way. Implicit in the term leadership is the exhortation to "follow me" - in other words, do as I do.

Posted by Cassandra at November 23, 2009 08:54 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


That CRU stuff is absolutely damning, if it's true. I'm still waiting for a bit more confirmation before I comment on it.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at November 23, 2009 11:02 AM

The larger purpose of polls and polling data, as well as significant parts of the Internet is to reduce the individual to be less than he or she was. To destroy that part of us that wants to be regarded as a sovereign human being. We've polled you, and that's all we need.

Ayn Rand once wrote that the eternal struggle of the human race was the individual versus the collective. In spite of that truism, I think there is still a layer of reasoning below that.

That is, the notion that a human being can live in civil peace with his neighbors, versus the notion that we are to live in Hobbesian state of all against all, or live as Rousseau's savages.

Ultimately, the statists want to destroy any notion of peaceful civic life, to make the besieged individual cling to or even to run to the State for help and protection. It's happened time and time again throughout history. Once you reduce the civic notion of the Rule of Law, and the freedom and liberty that flows from that protection, and reduce human relationships to a state of incoherent savagery, the individual will RUN to a fascist state that offers order.

And so, despite Barack Obama being elected president, the correct propaganda line is that this indeed illustrates that rascism is "worse than ever", because the the real message is fear.
Fear the white man, fear the black man, fear the Other. Only when the State is all powerful will you be safe.
Give up some of your freedoms, citizens, but you will be safe when the State is All. Banker, Doctor, Owner of the Means of Production. We're closer all the time, ain't we?

Safe until the State itself turns on you, the individual. And the State is, again, made up of those very flawed human beings. But without the constraint of the Rule of Law, or the principles of a Constitution. Just whatever works, from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
When we feel like it.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at November 23, 2009 11:10 AM

"publicly blaming others dramatically increases the likelihood that the practice will become viral"....an executive of my acquaintance was fond of the expression "fix problems, not blame." This guy was by no means intellectually brilliant, but some of his positive character attributes, like the attitude I just quoted, eventually carried him to a job as CEO of a Fortune 100 company.

In the political field, though, results are generally less measurable than in government, and an attitude of casting blame is more likely to be highly successful.

Posted by: david foster at November 23, 2009 11:17 AM

BHO is attempting to control behavior by eschewing truth for perception. Hypocrisy is a hallmark of politicians in general and BHO in particular. The recent flap in the Global Warming community makes the point as in, "If in doubt, delete."

This expose will hopefully be a result of an inside whistleblower and not a hack job. The hypocrisy of the NYT claiming it does not respond to purloined data inimical to it's preferred position is laughable and pathetic.

The real question is why did it take so long for someone to grow a pair and state the obvious? To anyone with a minimal amount of science under their belt anthropomorphism is an agenda for wealth redistribution akin to Alice In Wonderland. California is stepping into that rabbit hole as it seeks to impose onerous restriction on diesel engines in the state during a recession and in the face of bankruptcy.

BHO is not Dudley Doright and the American taxpayer is not the fair damsel tied to the railroad track with #9 bearing down on her.


Posted by: vet66 at November 23, 2009 12:37 PM

Considering how the CRU obfuscated, tap-danced, claimed to have lost the data, cherry-picked (or rather pine-picked) data that matched their model out of several hundred samples that disagreed with their hypothesis and a few other small problems, I'm inclined to believe the "released" e-mails et cetera. I've been following this storm for a while and I'm glad someone finally released the data, although I'm not happy that it was done from outside and in this way.

Posted by: LittleRed1 at November 23, 2009 01:17 PM

Red, I agree that the emails and such I've seen appear plausible. I remember the furor over that "accidentally deleted" data from last year. Some of the emails seem to fill in the blanks on that. So it's looking plausible. Now if we can get some Russian hackers to take a look at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies...

Don: "And so, despite Barack Obama being elected president, the correct propaganda line is that this indeed illustrates that rascism is "worse than ever", because the the real message is fear."

What you said, and thanks for the interesting comments. Obama is governing in the European mode. The European mode, since the Dark Ages, has been that governance is an extension of tribalism. Which tribe you were born into determined where you lived, the course of your life, and how successful you would be in life.

America has been the first nation since antiquity not based on tribalist principles, and that has a huge amount to do with how the paths of Europe and America have diverged since the 19th century. European Marxism tries to pretend that it isn't tribalist, but in its zeal to divide people according to class, it inevitably taps into tribalist passions that ultimately it cannot control. I too have been scratching my head about why those polls keep showing that people think that race relations are worse than ever. But now, in light of Don's words, I get it. It's because Obama campaigned on an implicitly tribalist platform, and he has since governed on an explcitly tribalist agenda, and now the passions he stirred up are out of control. The Democrats keep driving home the notion of dividing people by race and class, and the results are inevitable.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at November 24, 2009 09:20 AM