Moderates are Dumb, Trapped in a Random World

It’s 104 degrees outside. I am not adapted to this heat and I am not pleased. So I have a global warming-related graph for you today:

From Yale Alumni Mag, "What do Americans think about global warming?"
From Yale Alumni Mag, “What do Americans think about global warming?

It’s a pity the text on the image is so small. I’m going to try to replicate it, just in case you’re having trouble reading the caption:

Stable: Earth’s climate system is very stale. Global warming will have little or no effects.

Random: Earth’s climate is random. We do not know what will happen.

Fragile: Earth’s climate is delicately balanced. Small amounts of global warming will have abrupt and catastrophic effects.

Gradual: Earth’s climate is gradual to change. [?] Global warming will gradually lead to dangerous effects.

Threshold: Earth’s climate is stable within certain limits. If global warming is small, climate will return to a stable balance; if it is large, there will be dangerous effects.

In case you are wondering how big each group is, here you go:

leiserowitz_6-americas

The left to right ordering of the bubbles is probably not coincidental: global warming believers tend to be liberals, while deniers tend to be conservative. The disengaged, cautious, and doubtful tend toward political moderatism, not picking either obvious side.

Amusingly, I consider myself a political moderate, though to be fair, it’s a moderatism of considering myself “somewhere between anarchism and fascism.”

Some people are “moderates” because they just don’t want to get into annoying arguments with others, a position I find very reasonable in this day and age. But others are moderates because they just aren’t smart enough to make sense of either side’s arguments.

The Disengageds and their neighbors are the most likely to favor the Random hypothesis: the climate is totally random and we can’t predict it at all.

I suspect this is what life is actually like for unintelligent people: stuff seems to happens for no particularly coherent reasons at all.

IQ tests measure, among other things, your ability to figure out patterns. Finding patterns in data and making non-obvious connections requires cleverness and insight. For those not gifted with such skills, many of life’s events seem simply random.

It’s all about the patterns.

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17 thoughts on “Moderates are Dumb, Trapped in a Random World

    • As said below, too much randomness thrown in to make reliable predictions. However, even during the period of highest temperatures in Earth’s history (water temperatures above 50 degree Celsius almost worldwide) id happened more slowly. Again, I have checked that over a year ago and details are becoming cloudy.

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      • I meant it ‘in the history of life on Earth ‘. Of course, in the initial period of crust formation and before temperatures were much higher.

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      • it happened’

        It seems you have different understandings of the term ‘chaotic’. Use ‘stochastic’ instead to make everyone happy.

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    • If humans thought weather was random, agriculture would not exist. Weather is variable within a narrow range, day to day, but I can predict with reasonable certainty that summer will be hot and winter will be cold.
      Given your location, I can also predict the approximate rainfall per month, allowing you to make certain plans like, “cacti will grow well here,” or “I should harvest my potatoes before the rains begin.” Sure, I can’t tell you exactly the temperature tomorrow, and I can’t predict the absolute rainfall for most places, but the system is pretty reliable within certain ranges.

      Of course, even the people who said that climate is random don’t actually think that heat and snow are equally likely in summer, or that there’s a 50% rain every day in Death Valley or something like that.

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      • I read “random” as “not enough information to reasonably say”.

        You can make the above predictions, and I would say those are reasonable, but keep in mind they are still “random” in the sense that you are measuring them in likelihoods. Generalizing to the entire globe strikes me as a complex task that requires expertise far beyond my current level. I lack the power to make meaningful changes in either direction, so becoming an expert in climate change doesn’t hold any value for me beyond whatever satisfaction I can from learning.

        There is disagreement even among experts, so for a layperson to hedge their bets and say “random” rather than try to give a more specific model of the climate is not stupid.

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      • There are already studies showing that self-described “moderates” tend to be less intelligent than “liberals” or “conservatives” (though members of the extreme fringes of either side also appear to be less intelligent.) From the meta-political position, both sides present a series of logical statements about the way the world works, and people’s inherent biases may tilt them toward one set of explanations or another, but to pick one side or another with any certainty at least requires an ability to understand the argument they are making. Since most of us aren’t climate scientists, we tend to just default to trusting the opinions of the people who’ve said things we find sensible in the past, so liberals fall into line saying that Global Warming is real, and conservatives claim that it’s not. This may be a form of over-confidence, but people tend toward over-confidence, not politely demurring from expressing uninformed opinions.

        But the group that has never really been able to make sense of either side’s arguments about much of anything tends to just say, “Oh, we’re moderates, the weather is random,” and go on with their business.

        The “Cautious” group–favoring the “Threshold” theory–is hedging their bets.

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  1. The whole graph is wrong. It’s not even asking the right questions. Global climate is caused by the Sun’s output. The last time we had as few Sunspot’s as we have had lately we had a sort of little ice age. It’s going to get very cold.

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  2. I am the post necromancer here to summon this discussion from the graveyard.

    Although I write satire instead of normal political articles, I wanted to weigh in on this.

    First of all, I think you’re correct that “moderates” are dumb (there’s research to support that) and, as a consequence, their perspectives must necessarily be that the world is full of constant randomness, with almost no discernible patterns.

    I believe the reason somebody cannot take a position on cut-and-dry issues, like “do you support gay marriage?” or “do you believe climate change is real?” and all related sub-questions to each topic, is because that person doesn’t understand the arguments of either side and/or cannot form a coherent argument themselves.

    I know a lot of self-described “moderates” might get offended, but as a satirist, I don’t give a hoot about offending anybody. That said, here’s what I’d like to add: Moderates see there are two sides to certain issues plaguing the world, so instead evaluating each side and forming a coherent belief, they just say, paraphrased:

    “Oh my god, look at you two morons arguing about this topic. The RIGHT answer is CLEARLY in the middle. After all, it stops the arguing and appeases both sides! MUST BE TRUE! Only a fucking retard would form strong convictions or beliefs!!!”

    This is how they play the fence in their heads, but paraphrased since I phrased it to mock them on purpose.

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    • Unfortunately, without a way to bump posts to the top of the blog, it’s hard to necro them. But I appreciate the effort!

      If someone can’t understand either argument being offered, and they’re afraid that choosing incorrectly will bring disaster, then choosing either side sounds like a 50% chance of doom. Picking the moderate response feels a lot more like only incurring a 25% chance of doom.

      Good luck with your satire 🙂

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      • Thank you. I’m a new blogger, only blogging for a few months so far. However, I make consistent content mocking society and current events, so I believe in the long-term I will grow a larger audience.

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