Thursday Septuple Threat!
* Great Flickr set of '50s pulp sci-fi covers.
* Rudy Guiliani: Hegelian.
* LRB on Climate Change
: The problem with ‘balance’ is partly a problem with the way science is reported. ‘Balance’ works, sort of, as a way of discussing politics in a two-party system. (Though it has to be said that the remorseless polarisation, whereby I say yah because you said boo, is one main reason for the decreased interest in party politics.) Since the climate debate has been polarised on left-right lines in the US, it has seemed appropriate to the media to treat it as a polarised issue, one on which there are two schools of thought, which, in respect of the science, it isn’t: there is one school of thought, and a few nutters. (Parenthetically, it’s not too hard to imagine a world in which the conservative parties were more in favour of conservation, and environmentalism in general was a cause of the right. David Cameron is clearly trying to remake this connection in the UK, in the belief that this is the main issue where he can clearly and definitively distinguish himself from New Labour. The option isn’t available to the Republicans, since they abandoned science in favour of the Christianist right and the environment in favour of Big Oil, which may be one reason why, notwithstanding the shift in the evidence, a poll of Congressional Republicans found that only 13 per cent of them thought it ‘proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the earth is warming because of man-made problems’.) The way the issue is reported reflects the fact that there are people who want to believe in global warming, and wanted to do so right from the start, before the evidence had accumulated to the point where it was no longer an issue of belief. Similarly, there are plenty of people who did not want to believe in man-made global warming, and who are continuing to refuse to believe in it even though the balance of the evidence has changed. But we can’t afford to be distracted from the factual position either by the people who want it to be true or the people who want it not to be, and there is an urgent requirement in the public arena for the issue to be considered now as one of plain fact.
* The 100-Year-Old Photo Blog.
* The back cover of
History of Madness contains a series of hyperbolic hymns of praise to its virtues. Paul Rabinow calls the book “one of the major works of the twentieth century”; Ronnie Laing hails it as “intellectually rigorous”; and Nikolas Rose rejoices that “Now, at last, English-speaking readers can have access to the depth of scholarship that underpins Foucault’s analysis”. Indeed they can, and one hopes that they will read the text attentively and intelligently, and will learn some salutary lessons. One of those lessons might be amusing, if it had no effect on people’s lives: the ease with which history can be distorted, facts ignored, the claims of human reason disparaged and dismissed, by someone sufficiently cynical and shameless, and willing to trust in the ignorance and the credulity of his customers. Somebody hates Foucault.
* Heaven's Gate, Ten Years On.
* A Treatise on Monkey Morality.