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Nostalgia for the Absolute


Mark Steyn, SteynOnline.com 17-05-2014.


Yale law professor Stephen Carter has written an imaginary address to America's Class of 2014, which is currently busy disinviting truckloads of distinguished speakers from their graduation ceremonies. In the course of his remarks, Professor Carter observes:
The literary critic George Steiner, in a wonderful little book titled "Nostalgia for the Absolute," long ago predicted this moment. We have an attraction, he contended, to higher truths that can sweep away complexity and nuance. We like systems that can explain everything. Intellectuals in the West are nostalgic for the tight grip religion once held on the Western imagination. They are attracted to modes of thought that are as comprehensive and authoritarian as the medieval church.

Oddly enough, Professor Carter doesn't so much as mention "climate change", but "Nostalgia for the Absolute" fits, doesn't it?
(...)

"Nostalgia for the Absolute" runs rampant through the Settled Science reactions. As Bishop Hill says, the only "scientific difference" between Gleick and Verheggen, on the one hand, and the GWPF, on the other, is really on the question of climate variability, a murky and imprecise topic. A round earth and a flat earth are two stark, mutually incompatible choices: one side is going to be 100 per cent right, and the other 100 per cent wrong. As the 17-year warming "pause" suggests, in climate science nobody's 100 per cent right; it's a field of "complexity and nuance", and somewhere in the grey blur people pick different points to pitch their tents. There is no Team Round and Team Flat. Steve McIntyre doesn't talk this way, nor does Nigel Lawson, nor does Richard Tol nor Judith Curry. Only the Settled Science enforcers do.

Bishop Hill calls this "the bigotry of the consensus".



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