Cynicism and Chicanery | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Cynicism and Chicanery

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To the editors:

What sets the ideologue apart from the honest inquirer (or the honest letter writer, for that matter) are the levels of cynicism and chicanery to which the ideologue must resort to finesse the case he's trying to make.

Take any debatable issue. An honest inquirer will lay what cards he has on the table, and every one of their faces will be showing. The ideologue, on the other hand, cannot follow suit. Rather, the ideologue will be forced to deal from the bottom of the deck, pulling lies and statistics from up his sleeve, and ultimately bluffing, when he has no more trump cards left. A general rule, whether for poker or argumentation, states that the more an opponent needs to bluff, the weaker his hand must be. Keep these caveats in mind, and the rest of my letter should be easy enough to understand.

"What's Hot, What's Not," Daniel John Sobieski's letter of September 4, had so many jokers in it (six or seven in all, by my count), had Sobieski been playing a hand of poker instead of writing a letter to the Reader, he might have broken the bank at Monte Carlo.

As it is, however, Sobieski merely made an ass of himself. Let it suffice to say that his letter, which purported to show that current global-warming models represent nothing more than a "science-by-press-release," "crisis-of-the-month," "doomsayer," and Chicken Little mentality, was classic liar's poker. And, in brief, classic Sobieski.

All of the ideologue's standard tricks were in evidence. The undocumented citation of heavily politicized, bought-and-paid for, elite-servicing, right-wing "expert" opinion. The dismissal of genuine concern for the environment as the obsession of extremists attempting "to repeal the Industrial Revolution." (That one's a real beauty, isn't it?) And, omnipresently, the defense of the short-term prerogatives of the rich and powerful to rape and plunder the globe, come hell or the high water of environmental degradation, global warming, catastrophic famine, disease from known carcinogens, whatever.

"Perturb the climate with carbon dioxide alone, you get global warming," the poker-faced Sobieski quoted University of Virginia professor Patrick Michaels as having written. "Perturb it with sulfur dioxide alone, and you get an ice age." To which Sobieski added, without a shred of supporting evidence (guess why!), "Put them together and you get self-canceling effects."

In other words, the smokestacks and tail pipes of the industrial world have been so beneficial to the earth, we're laying a man-made ice age on top of a man-made greenhouse, the result being that each catastrophe will cancel out the other, and the earthly Paradise once promised to us by the ideologues of the early Industrial Revolution will sooner or later be forthcoming.

Ah, such cunning prescience we polluters have!

Wherever an ideologue is at work, what is doctrinally required by the rich and powerful (i.e., the heavily industrialized North, which also happens to be the world's leading polluter) becomes the absolute truth, and no questions are asked. Hence, Sobieski's claims about the self-canceling Golden Age of global warming and ice age combined.

What a hustler!

G. Guy

W. Iowa

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