Rush Limbaugh: Meat Eater, Science Denier

Wed, 2011-11-09 07:23Chris Mooney
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Rush Limbaugh: Meat Eater, Science Denier

Recently, Rush Limbaugh went on another of his anti-science rants. This one was particularly fascinating, though, because of the things he actually got right—even as he  simultaneously exhibited the standard cocksure blind spots.

First, what did Rush say that was true? Well, he gets the idea, supported by much research, that we all have the tendency to appropriate “science” as our own, selectively choosing those bits that support us and selectively refuting or denying those bits that don’t.

Thus, Rush goes on repeatedly about the attempt to “codify liberalism as science.” Actually, conservatives, including Rush, also try repeatedly to depict their views—including their denialist ones–as scientific. Rush thus shows a massive blind spot when he fails to recognize that he’s susceptible to the very same tendency.

In fact, I would argue that Rush is worse–because he is deeply sure of himself when he has no good reason to be. He is vastly, and baselessly, overconfident.

Thus, when Rush gets into the meat of his commentary (pun intended, as you’ll see), he draws a stunningly false parallel between a Dutch psychologist who has been seriously accused of falsifying data on the one hand, and climate change researchers on the other.

The Dutch case appears very serious; read about it here. The professor, Diederik Stapel, has already been removed from his position at Tilburg University, and an interim investigation has found him guilty of fabricating data repeatedly, according to the Los Angeles Times. This sounds grave indeed.

So what does Rush do with this case study? Tie Stapel’s questionable research on meat eating back to global warming, of course:

Anyway, there was a very important and major story that we touched on yesterday, but there's much more information in the latest AP story that makes this story even more pertinent – especially vis-a-vis the scientific “consensus” on manmade global warming.

And make no mistake: All of that was nothing more than an attempt to codify liberalism as science, to codify political beliefs as science.  “Dutch Professor Faked Data for Years – A prominent Dutch social psychologist who once claimed to have shown that the very act of thinking about eating meat makes people behave more selfishly has been found to have faked data throughout much of his career,” and he was, by the way, lionized and treated as a hero all during his career.  “In one of the worst cases of scientific fraud on record in the Netherlands, a review committee made up of some of the country's top scientists has found that University of Tilburg Prof. Diederik Stapel systematically falsified data to achieve the results he wanted,” just like what happened at the University of East Anglia Centre for Climate Prediction and Research; i.e., global warming. 

Actually, Rush has now shown that he is the one trying to “codify” his beliefs as science. In contrast to the Stapel case, repeated inquiries into “ClimateGate” have not shown fraud or wrongdoing. Rather, they have repeatedly vindicated the scientists involved. And this is six investigations!

Not only does Rush show unwarranted certainty in his claim—contrary to mountainous evidence—that “ClimateGate” was a case of scientific fraud or falsification. Linking back to the Stapel case, he then goes on a fascinating and telling rant in defense of meat eating:

Let me make an observation here, folks.  I know meat eaters.  I am a meat eater.  I have never met anybody who feels superior to anybody or anything because they eat meat.  But I have run into all kinds of holier-than-thou vegetarians and vegans and other wackos who do think they are superior and better and smarter than everybody else.  I know gazillions of beef eaters, and I don't know a'one of them who has forced his eating choices on anybody else; but I know a bunch of ragtag, stupid vegan vegetarians – holier-than-thou superiorists – who try to force everybody to eat what they eat and to not eat what they don't approve of.  Such as this bunch of louts that demanded in Berkeley, California, that Burger King sell veggie burgers – and, of course, Burger King caved.  So lie after lie after lie about “white people,” other aspects of sociology and science, and meat eaters and so forth – and all of it fraudulent.

Okay: I’m sure there are some very ideological vegans out there. But is not Limbaugh’s anger directed towards those “stupid vegan vegetarians” at least as extreme, if not worse?

Just to tick Rush off to the maximum, I want to put all of this in the context of some psychological research from Berkeley (!).

Psychologists Dacher Keltner and Robert J. Robinson were studying how groups in ideological conflicts misperceive the views of those on the other side. And they found a very interesting ideological asymmetry in a deeply provocative case study—the 1990s battle over teaching the “Western Canon,” versus the works and narratives of under-privileged groups, in college English classes.

Here was the asymmetry: Literary traditionalists assumed that literary revisionists only wanted to teach the works of women writers, African-American authors, and writers from other disadvantaged or non-white male groups. But in fact, that is not what the revisionists wanted to teach at all. They weren't nearly as radical as the traditionalists assumed. Rather, they merely wanted to mix in a few examples of such texts with old white male literary classics: Shakespeare, Chaucer, Sophocles, Homer, James Joyce, Herman Melville.

The revisionists, however, knew quite well what the traditionalists wanted to teach—just what they had always been teaching! As the researchers found:

In our studies, the tendency for partisans to exaggerate the magnitude of their conflict was qualified by two provocative asymmetries in social bias. First, across conflicts, a consistent perceiver effect emerged: Partisans in power exaggerated the magnitude of their conflict more than partisans seeking change. For example, traditionalists, more likely to be tenured males and guardians of the literary status quo, polarized the Western Canon dispute more than revisionists.

Do you think something similar might be going on with Rush Limbaugh’s defense of meat eaters (traditionalists) against “stupid vegan vegetarians” (revisionists)? I certainly do. (And I’m speaking as a moderate liberal who could be spotted at a Brazilian steakhouse last weekend.)

Rush ends with a final swat at Stapel, and also climate scientists:

The important thing to remember is this guy's writing was accepted, welcomed unanimously by American journalists, worldwide journalists who reported this with glee when he wrote this about meat eaters.  I mean, it's patently ridiculous.  But it just goes to show you how gullible people (or better stated: how desirous the left is) for any codification of their asinine beliefs as science. 

It does just go to show you. We’re all gullible, but some of us may be more gullible than others.

Comments

Don’t forget Lord’s Resistance Army defender (see http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/17/limbaugh-defends-lords-resistance-army/ )

Overlooking the detailed record of their brutality and bizarre practices, Mr. Limbaugh then added: “They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops, to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them. So that’s a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda.”

Yes, that’s right. Limbaugh defended a group that rapes, mutilates and tortures children (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/rush-limbaugh-defends-violent-lords-resistance-army-survivor-responds/2011/10/18/gIQA8CjxuL_blog.html ) as brave Christians fighting against eeevil Muslims 9_9

He is a vile, disgusting, willfully stupid piece of filth. And that’s being kind.

Good thing you are being kind. Wouldn’t want to overstep the commenting policy. This Rush is one bad character. How is it that he walks free on the streets and even has a national radio show? Someone should call the cops and lead this guy away in chains.

Sorry, I don’t fall for condescending, issue-deflecting, passive-aggressive “jokes” like what you attempted above.

What do you think about his comments on the Lord’s Resistance Army?

this is how it works - Rush gets a bit of news and goes off half cocked. That’s job.  He doesn’t have all the details and he’s going to say things that don’t reflect a complete understanding of any story.

If you are going to hold Rush to this standard then you have to do the same for those who verbally support the OWS movement - which comes with plenty of rape and violence and criminal activity of it’s own.

Hahahahaha oh wow, that comment contains so much weapons-grade stupidity and analogy FAIL I don’t know where to begin :P Try again.

(to others lurking, these tactics are typical of trolls - I call it D4, as in: Deny, Distort, Distract, Derail. Instead of engaging in a real conversation, providing sources to back up their claims, and answering questions raised, they merely repeat the same “look over there, a shiny object!” blather again and again and again).

“Hahahahaha oh wow, that comment contains so much weapons-grade stupidity and analogy FAIL I don’t know where to begin :P Try again.”

You have to admit Rick, that’s pretty funny. Even funnier is your defense of far right wing whackos like Limbaugh.

It’s unstable times that lead to whackos from the far left & right getting a foothold. But the only thing that allows them a voice is the uneducated, the easily duped & the nihilists. Or people that make money of this kind of shite.

 

I prefer reason. You and Phil seem to find personal attacks to be more effective. You’re probably right that the personal attacks win out in the end. It’s techinically against comment policy but we all break some rules here and there.

“I prefer reason.”

What reason?

“He doesn’t have all the details and he’s going to say things that don’t reflect a complete understanding of any story.”

Surely with a following of a few million he has a duty of care to find out all the facts & details & not spread unfounded rumour……..don’t ya think? People believe this guy & vote accordingly.

Fortunately the newspaper version of Rush here in Australia, Andrew Bolt ( Murdoch right wing press) was recently convicted of racism. Sometimes people don’t take these schmucks on because they believe they are too big & have too much power behind them. This case in Australia proves otherwise.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-09-28/bolt-found-guilty-of-breaching-discrimination-act/3025918

I would say that Rush is entertainment. If people see him as their leader, then maybe you ought to take the vote away from people in general. Require a university degree or some such thing. In a democracy people vote (and often vote stupid) and that vote is their responsibility.

Similarly people who voted for Obama are responsible for their own votes. They may have elected him because he wowed them with his campaign or maybe they thought he should win because he’s black or whatever else their motivations might have been. Individuals still own their votes. They were responsible to weigh the whole messianic campaign and decide if he was the right choice or just a guy with a nice voice and a winning smile and a narcicisstic desire to be top dog.

If Rush carries too much weight with the people, someone (his opposition) needs to communicate that Rush is just entertainment. 

Don’t blame Rush if people are dumb and the opposition is weak and ineffectual.

“If you are going to hold Rush to this standard then you have to do the same for those who verbally support the OWS movement - which comes with plenty of rape and violence and criminal activity of it’s own.”

Rick, did you ever think that maybe it’s better that the protests happen now the way they are in regards to wall street & the banks? Rather than it all go to crap & then have uncontrollable violent protests like the OWS of the great depression?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7jjGm712bQ

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bank_of_the_United_States_failure_NYWTS.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:American_union_bank.gif

If anything, this time around OWS is happening before the event, not after like the great depression.




 

Rick, get back to your music writing, at least you did that well. You were pretty good on “super freak”, except for your clothes. Maybe denialism is not your thing.

 

The difference between the meat guy and Rush is huge. One is revered as a scientist and is falsely claiming scientific proof of his personal beliefs and the other is just blathering on about his opinion and whatever he observes in day to day life. Rush is not trying to codify anything as science. He’s just yapping about what seems obvious to him. It’s what people do. Rush just does it in front of a microphone.

Minimization and deflection. Also ignores the fact that Limbaugh basically has the GOP establishment on a short leash:

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/173311-boehner-briefed-limbaugh-on-debt-plan

That’s right, Speaker of the House John Boehner feels compelled to seek Limbaugh’s approval. Limbaugh, who defended the child-rapists of the Lord’s Resistance Army, and who also claimed the heat index is a liberal government conspiracy:

http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/07/20/274664/limbaugh-calls-heat-index-a-liberal-government-conspiracy/

Under freedom of speech laws, of course, Limbaugh can spew whatever stupid, life-endangering garbage he wants. Citizens who care about the future can respond by boycotting his show, its sponsors, and the GOP itself. When that happens, America will be ennormously better off.

 

Sort of on topic….

Scientific Snake Oil gets faked here and there.  Thats why we have the peer review process.  One way or another you’ll be hauled out into the light if you do bad or false work.

First the peer review gives you a quick review from other folks experienced in a field.  (There has always been at least one off the wall crank involved with my reviews.)  Majority rules.  It may still get published if it isn’t up to snuff.  In the case of the MMR Autism paper, it was labeled “Preliminary”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MMR_vaccine_controversy

Once a paper is published, it gets scrutinied even more.  And again folks will notice;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sch%C3%B6n_scandal

By contrast you can do almost anything without a peer review like so;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

Or my favorite;

http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-supporting.html

 

Ah, I was wondering when Chris Mooney was going to write a new article.

I guess today wasn’t the day, either.

Why is it that only certain participants in the discussion here are allowed to post Adhom attacks when the rest of us get deleted?

Maybe Chris Mooney can write an article about that, eh?

FWIW, Mooney’s new book is getting totally trashed in the blogosphere today (yes, mostly the skeptical logs). But i have to give them credit, some have actually read it first.

“Why is it that only certain participants in the discussion here are allowed to post Adhom attacks when the rest of us get deleted?”

Would you like me to get out the comments policy again?

FWIW, Mooney’s new book is getting totally trashed in the blogosphere today (yes, mostly the conservative , right wing , tea party, fossil fuel blogs, fossil fuel lobbyist blogs, fox news sponsored, “skeptical” logs)”

You could have provided some links so we could see what a weak argument looks like, sheeesh.

 

Let’s just say there are some varied interpretations of the comment policy text. That is the nature of written rules. My interpretation is that you play on the edge, which I think is great.

“Would you like me to get out the comments policy again?”

Haha! I like you Phil, I mean it. You have a sense of humor, unlike some of the more extreme ‘believers’ out there. Here’s a link you might like.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/10/mooney-pulls-a-muller/

p.s. I don’t mind one bit that you’ve added to this bit when you quoted my comment because it’s exactly what I meant anyway;

(yes, mostly the conservative , right wing , tea party, fossil fuel blogs, fossil fuel lobbyist blogs, fox news sponsored, “skeptical” blogs)”

Cheers!

“Would you like me to get out the comments policy again?”

Haha! I like you Phil, I mean it. You have a sense of humor,”

Heh heh, see mate, I listened to you.

“Here’s a link you might like.”

“http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/10/mooney-pulls-a-muller/”

You are right Hank, I do have a sense of humour & thanks for the link to that fox news comedy site. I see you got a mention ;) . The sweet irony of Watts musing over desmog’s donations when he works for Fox radio. Or Chris using “BEST practice”, implying lack of evidence, when he has been rallying people for years to accept blog science over peer review. Case in point was his surface stations gone wrong experiement on the UHI where he stoked the fire in his troops to accept his baseless assumptions. Even after NOAA humiliated him, he was still in denial.

I see even Poptart came out of his closet of smear for the rare comment. Must be working on getting his “peer review” list to 1000. I expect the next 100 will be similar. Someone mentions that they farted less in one month, so that is grounds for completly debunking “The AGW myth” & is added to the list. But hey, as he will tell you, AGW has been refuted…..by him.

The piece de resistance was the invoking of the Godwin & the lemmings that lined up to show their ignorance & attempt to rewrite history. I guess they surmise that if it was good enough for Glenn Beck, it’s good enough for them.

Please no more links like that Hank, my leg is hurting already from the thigh slapping .

p.s. I don’t mind one bit that you’ve added to this bit when you quoted my comment because it’s exactly what I meant anyway;

(yes, mostly the conservative , right wing , tea party, fossil fuel blogs, fossil fuel lobbyist blogs, fox news sponsored, “skeptical” blogs)”

Cheers!”

Well, the strike through was meant to work on those words, but the formatting didn’t work. I tried to edit it, but the captcha phrase didn’t work…*sigh*. But glad you liked it anyway ;).

 

“some have actually read it first.”

They’ve read it six months before it actually comes out?

“They’ve read it six months before it actually comes out?”

Some have time machines. Hence how they know there will be no damage in 50-100 years time from AGW.

 

Sorry, I was wrong on that one. I was referring to Roger Pelke jr., I misunderstood part of his comments.

forgive science denial but meat eating?

How last century…

yeah, the meat industry is horrendous in more ways than I want to think about, yet I’m still weak enough to have had meatballs tonight. If I  wanted to be progressive and contribute to planet healing, I guess I would have to look at the possibility of vegetarianism. not happening today.

Methane… Animals fart and burp.  Methane is worse than CO2.

There are other footprints to look at.  Water is pretty noticeable.

http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=cal/waterfootprintcalculator_indv

http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/productgallery&product=beef

Global average water footprint: 15500 litres of water per kg of beef.

[x]

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