Science

Ironically, They Avoid Brains

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Memo to right-wing politicians and a complicit media: CONGRATULATIONS!

Even though I'm a life-long and proud member of the culture of death, it doesn't mean my heart is entirely made of stone. When a new life is brought forth, it's a joyous occasion, even when it's a new un-life. So I'd like to extend my sincerest congratulations to the proud parents mentioned above, who last week welcomed their newest zombie lie into the world.

Thanks to their hard work, we will all get to hear for the rest of our lives that "The Obama EPA suppressed a report that was critical of global warming". Which is a heinous scientific crime, the kind of thing we in the reality-based community routinely and roundly criticized the Bush administration for doing. And while part of me is profoundly glad that it didn't actually happen, the rest of me knows it doesn't matter, because it will be said forever and ever, no matter how many times it's debunked, like an urban legend only with actual malicious intent behind it.

Now, it is true that an analyst from the EPA produced a report that was critical of global warming. And it is true that the EPA ignored the report and did not release it. Just like the best zombies start with an interesting corpse, like a cheerleader or a hockey player inexplicably buried in full gear, so too are the best zombie lies start with an interesting chunk of truth. It's what allows people with the tiniest shred of self-awareness or dignity to keep saying them, even when the context and the other facts point out what fucking morons they are for doing so.

What kind of context? Well, let's start with the analyst. His name is Al Carlin, and, um, he's not a climate scientist. He's not a hard scientist at all. He's an economist. Been with the EPA a long time. Which leads to an interesting question. Why would the EPA ask an economist to produce a report on climate change? Perhaps it was a report on the economic impact of climate change? Or perhaps, the economic impact of fighting it, which, if you listen to the wrong people, could cost every man, woman and child living in America a hundred bazillion dollars each from cap-and-trade alone?

Well, here's where things get a bit more awkward. The EPA didn't actually ask him to produce the report. He did them in his spare time. Put 'em on a website. And turned them in, unsolicited, to his bosses. But still, you would think that the EPA would have an obligation to seriously consider a published scientific study, even when its results run counter to administration policy. Wait, what's that, economist and amateur climate scientist Al Carlin? The results haven't been published in any scientific journal? Oh.

Now, let's say I worked for the government. In fact, let's get really hypothetical and say I worked in the area of human services, but in a specialized, technical job that didn't directly deal with the issue of poor people receiving government benefits. To go even further, let's say that I suffered a severe head injury, and as a result, came to believe that all poor people are essentially lazy, shiftless minorities who, instead of a check each month from the government, should receive a swift kick in the ass.

If I were to spend a hurried week producing a detailed plan to replace all the service windows and benefit-approving staff in the human services department with a series of automated, robotic ass-kicking machines, and submitted it in the hopes of seeing it included as part of the government's future poverty-reduction initiatives, I would be disappointed to find my plan had been excluded. In fact, to draw the parallel even further, I would be disappointed, but not surprised, because the last half dozen times I submitted my automated ass-kicking machine plan, they'd ignored it then, too.

But that doesn't mean the government suppressed my plan. Or at least it doesn't mean that they wrongly suppressed it. They looked at my plan, decided I was an insane crank with an ax to grind, but didn't fire my ass because other than the occasional insane report produced in my spare time, I do pretty good work. Under these circumstances, personally, I'd shut my fucking mouth and thank whatever god or gods I believed in that I had such a kind, tolerant employer, and not go on Glenn Fucking Beck promoting my crackpot ass-kicking machine, which, by the way, Glenn Beck would totally love.

But none of this matters. All that matters is that from now on, anybody arguing against global warming will get to say "then why did the government suppress that report, huh?" And since the word "bullshit" isn't allowed even on cable news, some poor liberal will have to come up with two paragraphs of context instead of saying "That report was purest bullshit." And since it's cable news, he'll get eight words into that explanation before being cut off for breaking news about Michael Jackson. And the zombie lie will claim another victim.

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