September 03, 2013

So #libertarian #skeptics are persecuted?

I mean, it's not as if Michael Shermer, Penn & Teller and Brian Dunning are running around the skepticsphere already, is it? (Well, Dunning will be running around for another month or two, until he gets jail time, in my prediction, for his Internet cookie-stuffing scheme.)

Noooo, noooo. Even though Barry Fagin concedes, or claims, that, by a show of hands at a recent con, libertarians make up about 25 percent of the  Professional Skeptics™ world, they're still being marginalized or worse.

There's plenty of howlers in this piece, and we're going to target several of them:
Libertarians understand economics, externalities, and market failure perfectly well.
Really? Libertarians are more likely than anybody else to believe in the thoroughly discredited legend (it's about humans, therefore it's legend; it's only myth if it's about a divine critter) of a hyper-rational Homo economicus and all the trappings that accompany said legend.

The real nut grafs are in the rest of that graf and the next one, addressing how libertarians who accept global warming should discuss what to do about that:
However, we also understand that all institutions are subject to failure, including government. In fact, we believe as skeptics that the evidence shows that even though politics and governmental approach to problems do not work particularly well, they nonetheless expand far beyond their original intent, making things worse and far more difficult to repair. We wish to break that cycle. 

Thus we worry, I think with good cause, that any approaches to combat global warming will not be restricted to affecting global climate but will be used to advance a political agenda that we oppose. 
First, Mr. Fagin, let's list a number of government programs that work well and that libertarians like you oppose:
1. Social Security (better than private pensions in 2008, eh?)
2. Medicare (which actually works better on cost controls than private insurers)
3. Medicaid
4. Environmental protection (libertarian lawsuits are useless after the trees or endangered species are all dead)
5. Civil rights protections.

(I'm sure you can fill in many, many more, folks. This, and the reasons WHY they work better, are numerous.)

There's more pablum for the libertarian masses that follows:
When it comes to politics, I like to think of libertarians as consistent skeptics. We want to know how everything actually works in practice, not how it is merely supposed to work or assumed to work. This includes government.  
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Libertarianism in general starts with the presupposition, the assumption, that government in general doesn't work.

See, this illustrates a core problem with libertarianism, not just as a philosophy of government, but a broader socio-political philosophy: It's reactive, totally reactive, and nothing but reactive.

And, where government issues impinge upon science, especially, the only way libertarians can deal with science's precautionary principle is either by flatly standing it on its head, or citing the rare instances where the precautionary principle was way off course.

As for your last sentence? Speaking of head-standing, I can say this:

As a non-libertarian non- Professional Skeptic™, I worry with very good cause that your libertarian opposition to government action on anthropogenic climate change is being used to advance a political philosophy that people like me oppose.

No wonder Fagin wants to go beyond Shermer, beyond Penn/Teller, and get “positive protection” for libertarianism being part of skepticism? And, yes, as a good student of history, of Civil War and pre-Civil War years, I deliberately use "positive protection" for a reason.

But, like those Southern slaveholders wanting to move to Kansas or Nebraska, Fagin says he and his fellow libertarian skeptics just aren't respected!

He ties this back to his "we're so clear-eyed about government" legend, and the fight against Bigger Government from global warming:
This would be easier for conservative and libertarian skeptics to do, I think, if we felt more welcome in the skeptical community. ...

Were our views proportionally represented in skeptical writings, on skeptical websites, and at skeptical conferences, I suspect the discussion on policy issues would be more civil, more dispassionate, and healthier for the skeptical movement as a whole. 
 Good fucking doorknob. Libertarian skeptic Michael Shermer RUNS one of the two main skeptical mags. But, no, you couldn't write this piece there, or on his blog. You had to carry this elsewhere.

Unrepresented, my ass. Beyond the above, Penn and Teller regularly do much more than just perform their magic tricks at skeptics' conferences. Penn actively evangelizes for libertarianism while both Penn and Teller are official "fellows" of Cato. Yes, per your next paragraph, your perception is quite wrong.

Including the part about lack of tolerance, since somebody on Shermer's blog blocked me from commenting under my original user name and email for too-vigorously pointing out things like this. Later on, my second one was blocked.

If anything, people like you, all the above, and the quasi-libertarian Elizabeth Loftus are overtolerated in the world of Professional Skeptics™.

And, I swear, at least at times, libertarians strike me as being like Jehovah's Witnesses, living to have doors metaphorically, if not literally, slammed in their faces.

Finally, methinks y'all doth overrate yourselves too much. Touting the Drudge Report on the Libertarian Skepticism's Facebook page? Haahhhh. Oh, you meant that seriously. That said, Mr. Fagin, the proprietor of said page says he's never felt persecuted, so I suggest, after buying a reality check, you buy some thicker skin next.

(That said, Mr. Facebook page proprietor, you know nothing of me, so your judgment that I have no training in philosophy is simply your judgment, and wrong, for whatever reason you formed it. And, if it's trollery to point out the errors of the likes of Shermer conflating libertarian belief systems with skepticism, I gladly plead guilty.)

As for the pleas that libertarians and liberals have a lot in common? Mr. Fagin, et al, none of those social issues are what you mentioned in this piece, and drug legalization, gay rights, etc., have nothing to do with the sciency focus of Professional Skeptics™. Ditto for whether or not to militarily intervene in places like Syria.

The issue you focused on, anthropogenic global warming, though, does. I can't quite call you a denier, but I will call you .... a magic man? That's because, solely due to your fear of Big Gummint, while you can't quite deny AGW, you wish it would just magically disappear. Heck, you couldn't even mention the classic "market based solutions" to fight it. You just mentioned it might be a problem, but ... Big Gummint!

And, that's why, even to the degree I share common cause with libertarians on issues like drug legalization, even there, I do so warily, because the issue for you folks in general is always "Big Gummint!" There's no nuance, and every problem is a nail for your hammer.

Meanwhile, "Murray Rothbard" has added me to his/her Google Plus circles. I don't know the gender because the real Rothbard died nearly 20 years ago. Also, unlike the Murray place-holder, he didn't live in Britain.

But, given his importance in libertarian circles, I don't know whether to be flattered or what.

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