Conversations about the Shakespeare Authorship Question with those who have not studied the issue are a very predictable, four-step CIFA process. They begin with:
“You idiot! Of course Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare! Look at the name on the play! See what it says? It says ‘William Shakespeare’ right there! Who else would have written it, pinhead?”
Contempt is supposed to scare me off, but it doesn’t work. So then we move on to the next step:
“You really believe that? Really? Even though none of the smart, cool people believe that? How can you wake up in the morning and be so out of step with what the cool people believe?”
I end up pointing out that the incredulity isn’t much of an argument, which forces people to actually come up with something or leave me alone. If they manage to come up with something, we move on to:
“Well, de Vere couldn’t have written the plays, because he was dead. So there.”
That may not be the argument they use, but it’s usually a one-sentence disgorgement of whatever measly, flaccid nugget of conventional wisdom they have at their disposal. At least it’s sort of an argument, but it’s always an argument that’s very easily refuted. Since their reasoning rests on a flimsy foundation, the final step is inevitably:
“Who cares? We have the plays. Why does it matter who wrote them?
“Why do you care so much, anyway?”
That’s the question I want to address.
With regard to Shakespeare, the answer is that understanding the author vastly increases an understanding of the plays. Suddenly Shakespeare has context, history, a point of view. The traditional view of Shakespeare is vapid and confusing – apparently, this guy’s brain was a receiver for random broadcasts from the Muses, and he just channeled the plays and the poems without ever letting his own life or limitations get in the way.
In any case, I find it to be a fascinating topic which can yield a much deeper appreciation for the works Shakespeare left behind.
This post, however, is not really about Shakespeare. Surprise! It’s about Global Warming.
See, the CIFA method applies to all Global Warming arguments, too. (Who knew Global Warming and the Bard had so much in common?) Let us review. We begin with:
“Oh, you’re one of those Global Warming deniers. I’ll bet you don’t think the Holocaust happened, either. You make me sick.”
The word “denier” is filled with such contempt that it’s often very difficult to move past this stage. The problem is that the word “denier” is so intellectually dishonest that, from the outset, it has already sullied the dialogue almost beyond repair.
What, exactly, have I “denied?”
The Al Gore brand of global warming alarmism requires an acceptance of a whole litany of tenets, and uncertainty surrounding any one of them throws the whole preposterous theory out of whack. So slapping the “denier” label on anyone who raises any questions along the way effectively bundles the argument into a single, tidy, yes-or-no package. So either you think the globe has warmed unusually quickly due solely to humanity’s irreversible pollutionary damage and that massive governmental intervention to dismantle industrial society is the only solution, or you don’t.
Quibbling about any of the numerous details – is this rate of warming truly unusual in comparison to global history? Is mankind solely or even primarily responsible? What percentage is our fault? Is it irreversible? Would Cap-and-Trade or any other colossal government program fix the problem, or even put a dent in it? – earns you the “denier” label every step along the way.
But assuming you can move past the name calling, you get to:
“But look at how many scientists agree with us and not with you! You’re not a climate scientist – you’re not qualified to disagree! How can you go against the scientific consensus?!”
So many stupid assumptions here. The fact is that there is no scientific consensus on the entire “denier package,” i.e. the globe has warmed unusually quickly due solely to humanity’s irreversible pollutionary damage and massive governmental intervention to dismantle industrial society is the only solution. When you start to look at where the consensus is, the alarmist position unravels very quickly.
There is consensus that the globe has warmed a degree in the past century, yes. I’m fully in sync with that bit of consensus. But that’s really as far as it goes. Is that an unusual amount of warming for a century? No consensus. How much is mankind’s fault? The consensus seems to be that some of it is, but as to the exact amount, there’s no consensus. What’s the optimum global temperature we ought to be shooting for? No consensus whatsoever. Is it irreversible? No consensus.
So what about government intervention to fix it? Well, the consensus there is damningly clear – Cap-and-Trade and other proposed attempts to limit carbon emissions would have absolutely no effect on global temperatures, but many think we should still do them anyway as some sort of “first step.” That kind of thinking leaves me incredulous. But that doesn’t stop the argument from moving to:
“Last year was the warmest year on record.”
Once “consensus” fails and it becomes clear that pretending to know what other, smarter people think doesn’t really address the question, it becomes time to unleash some select flaccid factoid that doesn’t really say anything, either, like the one I just quoted.
OK, just for kicks, what if last year was the warmest year on record? We’ve only been keeping records for about 100 years, and given technological limitations, those records don’t really become reliable until relatively recently. Does that mean it’s never been warmer in the history of the globe than it was last year? No, that’s clearly nonsense. Does that mean every year has been warmer than the last? No, that’s nonsense, too. In fact, even the “consensus” scientists are forced to concede that there’s been no discernable warming trend since 1998. So what we’re left with is a disputable “fact” that doesn’t provide any useful information at all. Which is why we move on to:
“Why is this such a big deal to you? We all know we need to move to green energy in the long term, so it would be good to act as if we’re warming the globe even if there are still unanswered questions.
“Why do you care so much, anyway?”
And that, my friends, is the real question I want to answer.
We have as many or more natural resources in this country than any other country on earth. We have enough oil in the oil shale in the western United States to fuel the world for generations. We’ve also got gobs of clean-burning coal, natural gas, and untapped reserves of conventional oil all over the place. If we were to develop all of that full bore, then, virtually overnight, we could kickstart this moribund economy, cut unemployment in half, slash gas prices by 2/3, free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil that too often comes from countries who hate us, and use the revenue generated from this massive burst in economic activity to fund Social Security and Medicare benefits for the Baby Boomers and beyond without breaking a sweat.
We won’t do it.
Why won’t we do it? Well, because we’ve been told that we’re going to warm the planet too much in the process.
The direct costs of global warming alarmism – notably some form of carbon tax or carbon credits – are staggering enough on their own and quickly run into the trillions. But what happens when you couple those with the opportunity costs? How much wealth is left literally buried in the ground because we’re afraid of what recovering that wealth will do to global temperatures? How many children in developing countries go to bed hungry because we’re not willing to tap the natural resources that could improve their standard of living? Occupy Wall Streeters, the wealth you’re craving isn’t just in the pocketbooks of the 1% – it’s in the 99% of our natural resources that you refuse to touch. A cost-benefit analysis quickly reveals that the price of climate alarmism is far higher than any civilized society should be willing to pay. Doesn’t that matter? Isn’t that a problem? Shouldn’t all of us be concerned about the answers to these questions?
Why do I care, Mr. Global Warming Alarmist? The question is why do you care about an ill-defined, scientifically shaky doomsday scenario more than the immediate well-being of billions of people?