This morning I was reading the letters section of The Herald-Sun.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, but whenever I go to a coffee shop I always pick up the Murdoch paper for three reasons:
- I think that it’s good to read alternative viewpoints, just so I’m not operating in my own echo chamber.
- While I’m reading it, I’m stopping someone else who may be influenced by their propaganda.
- Reading the letters section always makes me feel smug and superior.
And, of course, I’m not buying it, so I can kid myself that my boycott of Rupert Murdoch is going a long way toward sending him broke.
All right, I shouldn’t justify myself. I should just let you be the judge of my actions, but unfortunately, like Tony Abbott, I’m worried that if I don’t constantly tell you about how superior I am, you may not notice, and so I have to justify myself at every opportunity.
Getting back to the letters, I was particularly struck by one which put forward the view that it was very convenient that we were discovering that this could be the hottest year on record just before the Paris talks. The writer went on to suggest that people were “cooking the books”.
Personally, I’d be more concerned if they’d suggested that this was the hottest year on record last April, and it seems to me that the fact that it’s nearly the end of the year may have had more to do with the announcement than the Paris Climate Conference.
The previous letter was also concerned about climate change. Or to be more precise, it was worried that all the leaders were in Paris discussing something as insignificant as that when we had the more pressing problem of Islamic State.
I wondered if there might be a way to get Andrew Bolt supporters onside by suggesting that climate change was part of Islam State’s plan to destroy the rest and that by using less fossil fuel we were actually winning the war on terror.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think that everyone has the right to be sceptical, and I fully understand that just because 97% of climate scientists have a particular view that doesn’t mean that they’re right. What disturbs me about much of the commentary from so-called “climate sceptics” is the idea that anyone who thinks that man-made climate change is even a possibility is either part of a giant conspiracy or a gullible fool. Rarely do any of them approach it as though it’s a matter of scientific disagreement that needs more investigation. When the models prove even a little inaccurate, this is used as evidence that the world hasn’t been warming for eighteen years, even when it’s saying nothing of the sort.
But after reading the letters today, rather than feel superior, I had an epiphany. Why complicate my world view by gathering evidence, thinking about things and trying to work out the truth. My life would be simpler if – like the letter writers -I simply accepted the Donald Trump view of the world. “I’m right and everyone else is wrong and any evidence is just a conspiracy”.
Yes, I can picture the next time I’m out to dinner and I order dessert and my wife mentions my need to shed a few kilos.
“Why,” I’ll say.
“Well, it’s not healthy to be overweight,” she’ll tell me.
“Au contraire,” I’ll assure her, “all the evidence about excess weight and poor health outcomes is just part of the giant Weight-Watchers/Jenny Craig conspiracy.”
“But didn’t your doctor tell you…”
“Not listening to my doctor any more. If she wants me to lose weight, then she’s part of the conspiracy. By getting us to refrain from dessert, they’re trying to destroy the sugar farmers and the economy can’t afford that. I’ll think about losing weight when the economy picks up.”
“You’re insane!” she’ll tell me.
And I’ll smile quietly, knowing that I’m one of the few who doesn’t listen go along with the brainwashed majority and that I can feel even more superior than I do when reading the letters section of The Herald-Sun!
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