Monday, April 11, 2011

The Rhetoric of Rejection: Part II

Eli would add a fourth horseman to the rhetoric of rejection, beyond perversity, futility, and jeopardy: hypocrisy

  • hypocrisy: the claim that anyone who cares about, for example, climate change, must live in an unheated shack without air conditioning to be taken seriously, and certainly cannot drive a car.
This red herring has been deployed most strongly against Al Gore. Brian Schmidt has a strong answer:

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to fear hypocrisy

. . . .We're no angels, and hypocrisy is a good argument to make if we claim to be angels, but it's not an argument for inaction.

I often see its counterpart argument, btw: someone says they should be allowed to do something wrong because other people have done something wrong previously. Land developers make this argument constantly, "people ten years ago built their homes right into the streamside habitat, therefore I should be able to as well." No.
but Eli has a slightly different take (maybe because Eli is older)

No free riders. Which means we act together or not at all

The key to all these problems is that people are willing to stand a considerable amount of sacrifice, but only if they see that everyone is sharing the same. So Eli

1. is willing to share a considerable amount of sacrifice but
2. is unwilling to do it if others don’t.

This is a fairly general rule . . .

A good example of this is bottle return laws or plastic bag laws. People have no problem with them and they benefit the community, but only a few will bring their own bags or return bottles without some sort of regulation.
The nastiest version is folks who don't give a damn about anyone else, especially anyone else in a poor country, especially a poor African country, berating anyone who wants to take action against climate change for wanting to hurt the poor Africans. See also perversity, futility and jeopardy. That one is a real keeper.

Examples folks, Eli wants examples


Brian Schmidt said...

Lomborg is the first example that comes to mind: I suspect he's done nothing regarding Africa other than tell people not to fight climate change.

Maybe, quietly and without fanfare, he's giving time and money to development projects in Africa. One can always hope....

(And thanks again for the link!)

seamus said...

Since most of electricity is generated by coal then all of EPA's offices should be mandated to use no air conditioing in the summer, all thermostates to be tured down to 60 degrees in the winter and do away with all government vehicles for all EPA's employees and give them bikes. BY swamper on 01/14/2011 at 14:36

Just about any thread on TheHill blogs where CO2 comes up you can find precious nuggets like this.

Stephen said...

I've seen the "no free riders" argument used most often in the context of the Kyoto Protocol - usually, along the lines of "CO2 is not the problem, but even if it was, whatever reductions the United States make won't matter because of China and India."

Anonymous said...

Eli, this is an example that pops up in Oz, from time to time:
We (ie Australia) sell an awful lot of coal to the Chinese, so Aussies are responsible for all the CO2 that the Chinese emit from burning "our" coal.


We (ie Australians) only emit 1.5% of the CO2, so anything we do can't make a difference. Ergo, don't bother doing anything.


If we put a price on carbon before everybody else (ie all other countries) we will trash our economy for no benefit. Therefore, wait until everybody else does something first.

...and many variations on the basic themes.

Donald Oats

David B. Benson said...

Garrett Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons.

Anonymous said...

Leaders inspire people to act, often through "lead by example". Your plan of "ah screw it, if we all don't do it, then I am not either."

Yet another strategy that will not work.

Your side is void of leadership. You are really good at developiong new labels and have all obtained masters in snark, (even wearing off on me, hmm funny).

You are becoming weaker with each day.

Oh yeah, I did learn that rabetts roam in herds and will all run off a cliff together.

Quite entertaining Eli, you must be preparing for a big announcement or change in the next few months.

Celery Eater

Marion Delgado said...

On all those surveys, even though i live in a city in the States, i come out around "one Earth" meaning the world could get by on what I use, per person. That said, the stuff the Green as a Thistle and No Impact Man bloggers did was to raise awareness and encourage thinking. People don't have to live without a fridge, IMO.

Michael Tobis is constantly warning people not to soft-peddle the fact that you can't necessarily have a sumptous lifestyle for everyone and that people will have to give things up - I am a little the other way, I think it's at least partly the capitalist brainwashing people get from advertising and marketing that leads them to think that fashion and planned obsolescence are valuable things we'll actually miss. That said, yeah, people will miss things, but I figure the zombie consumers won't miss their SUVs more than I'll miss, say, Siberian tigers, so the issues are political, still, not some pseudo-science called economics.

Marion Delgado said...

One of the things that allegedly saves the bacon of liberal/neoclassical economics is the ability to find local equilibriums - free riders, so-called tragedies of the commons, and prisoner's dilemmas all have NO Nash equilibriums, and have the characteristics Eli points out (hence his use of the term). Free riders can only be resolved by an outside coordinating entity (well, or by iterated negotiation*) which either has coercive power or is a mutually trusted auhority/referee.

*Then again, unlike the prisoner's dilemma tournaments, the goal is to have things work out, so a classic tit-for-tat usable in those things wouldn't work well. there have to be altruists self-motivated enough to keep the ball rolling even in the face of defections - and it's tricky to find the right level of being a sucker to being mutual prisoner's dilemma victims, since minor losses where other people freeload a little don't matter, just absolute gains and losses. It's why normally, coordinating authorities work, and laissez faire does not work, even in iterated situations.

Marion Delgado said...


Lomborg cured malaria in Africa by digging up Rachel Carson's remains and having them exorcised.

willard said...

There is a whole deck of cards:

Anonymous said...

Pity poor celery eater, as he so suffers from malnutrition that it debilitates his cognitive ability.

As every bunny knows, celery has less than half the caloric content of carrots, only a quarter of the carbs, a little over half the fibre, a little over a third the vitamin A, less than half the vitamin C, and only half the iron.

Green thumper bunny

Anonymous said...

To Green Thumper Bunny,

Like I said, masters in snark, void of leadership. You prove my points well, thank you!

Celery Eater

Anonymous said...

Ah, but it's oh, so easy to "prove" to yourself what you already "know."

And if snark is a thorn in your paw, then do be careful not to tread on your own posts.


Anonymous said...


Read much? Snark away! I said above: " You are really good at developiong new labels and have all obtained masters in snark, (even wearing off on me, hmm funny).

I said the snark is funny.

The only thing you proved, for all to see, is my claim that you are a master of snark, since your entire 1st reply was just that, snark.

Do you get out much? Are you callled Thumper, because you practice swinging a hammer against your head on a daily basis?

Celery Eater

Anonymous said...

On the contrary, dear Celery Eater, what I did was allow you to prove how incoherent and unhinged you are.

Please do continue to yammer away, at least as long as our host will tolerate it.


Anonymous said...

So Thumper, leaders do not inspire people to act? Leaders do say "ah screw it if they don't conform I quit."?


Unhinged? Which standard response box did you pull that one out of?

Eli's latest ranting, that you, for some strange reason support 100% (imagine that a lemming following a Rabett) basically is a waah! festival of whining.

"No free riders. Which means we act together or not at all

The key to all these problems is that people are willing to stand a considerable amount of sacrifice, but only if they see that everyone is sharing the same. So Eli

1. is willing to share a considerable amount of sacrifice but
2. is unwilling to do it if others don’t."

So the main point of Eli's latest rant is "We do not have to lead by example, and is you don't sacrifice then screw I am not either."

A previous post was spent on coining a new "name" for those that offer the slightest disagreement.

Meanwhile fewer people are goin g in the direction you want, yet you refuse to believe it is a tactical problem

Celery Eater

luminous beauty said...

It isn't easy being green

"Some social scientists now argue that understanding how we care on an emotional level, known in the field as 'affect', is the only way to motivate society to change its energy use."

The problem is that the celery eater types have mastered the use of effect in lieu of rational argument. A shameless willingness to manipulate public perception for political gain, consequences be damned.

Ridicule is an effective means of countering celery eater's bottomless pit of stupid, but celery eater's commitment to denial cannot admit it, so celery eater keeps coming back for more, believing celery eater is Winning a la Charlie Sheen.

seamus said...

CE offers us futility (and some mild entertainment).

We're all in the same boat, dude. =/

luminous beauty said...

...mastered the use of affect...

Anonymous said...

Ah more useless labeling and putting people in a box like "denial", more labels blah blah blah.

Of course we are in the same boat. What have I denied in this series of posts? Ah forget it, you all are too conditioned to respond in the smae manner to every post you disagree with. 100% agree with Eli, 0% agree with me. I know I raised no valid point, but..

Meanwhile fewer people are going in the direction you want. You are failing, thus you are failures. I know I know, it is all my fault.

Celery Eater

luminous beauty said...


You mistake temporal fluctuations in a single nation's public opinion for a global trend. A not uncommon mistake for pre-conditioned group-thinkers such as yourself. Fortunately a majority of people, and more importantly, a majority of policy makers admit the need for action on climate change, and continue to act positively, if slowly and incrementally, towards solutions at all levels of society.

Denial isn't just a river in Egypt; it is a real psychological behavior. In your case, and pertinent to this thread, denial of consequence.

EliRabett said...

Well, yes.

Anonymous said...

Eli agrees that you are all failing and it is my fault. How weak. Like I said a waah waah post void of leadership.

Till the next time you come up with another failed idea on what to do...

Celery Eater

EliRabett said...

Well, Eli is not very concerned about your failing CE. It's your thing.

Anyhow thanks for the great example of a rejectionist hypocrisy argument.

Anonymous said...


I think you are simply fooling yourself

Australia is going to enact laws that will create a price for carbon dioxide emissions, so your claim that fewer people are going in our direction (whatever the hell that even means) is just wrong.

There's some leadership for you.


GFW said...

As Marion Delgado pointed out, the "no free riders" issue is exactly what iterated prisoner's dilemma strategies have to optimize. Generally, the best answer without changing the rules via coordination authority is "slightly lenient tit for tat". In other words, if you're willing to meet someone else 53% of the way, or you're willing to lead, taking on slightly higher costs, but not allowing total freeloaders, that is the route to a superior equilibrium.

Anonymous said...

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."

"It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things."

"It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things."

"Freedom from effort in the present merely means that there has been effort stored up in the past."

Theodore Roosevelt.

Anonymous said...

"Examples folks, Eli wants examples".

Note quite hypocrisy, but even so...

In Australia, Tony Abbott and his far right-wing, ultra-conservative political and media henchmen are howling about how our impending carbon price will cost jobs and increase the cost of living.

They completely ignore the facts that by not taking the intiative, Australia would on balance lose more jobs, and suffer greater increases in the cost of living, as

1) other countries take advantage of the benefits of transition away from fossil carbon energy, leaving AUstralia to catch up with the rest of the (albeit mostly slow) world, and as

2) the effects of warming, to which we are already committed and to which we will soon be additionally ommitted if emissions aren't curbed, start to manifest.

And for what it's worth, eating too much celery will result in symptoms of poisoning, as said plant is mildly toxic.

Bernard J. Hyphen-Anonymous XVII