Kelley Ross and the “Post-Copernican Left”

Kelley Ross’s “Proceedings of the Friesian School” website probably has the most and the best historical content on the internet. Unfortunately, it’s also created by a hardline Neo-Con who thinks he’s a Libertarian. In Ross’ mind, everything that is bad comes from the left, even anti-science!

Although Anglo-American philosophy tended to worship at the feet of science, the drift of academia to the left has led to characteristically totalitarian political attacks on science itself. The “post-modern” move may even be called the “post-Copernican” move, where the “de-centering” of meaning and objectivity (giving new meaning to the word “obscurantism”), returns the “marginalized” literary critic or theorist to the Ptolemaic center of the universe, whence modern science, now demystified and unmasked as an instrument of Euro-centric oppression, had proudly thought to have dislodged an arrogant humanity. Where the arrogance has settled now is all too plain to those familiar with American academic life.

How many people on the Left really believe this? Lefties believing in a “post-Copernican” world where science is a “Euro-centric” invention of oppression is not an idea that has received any amount of traction by any stretch of the imagination. This has got to be the ultimate straw-man argument, especially since Ross doesn’t even believe the science of global warming.

Question: what is science? Who decides that evolution is real science and global warming is pseudo-science? Does every individual, whether they hold a degree in science or not, get to choose what the word means?

Ross attempts to act as if his Ph.D. in Philosophy gives him the authority to decide what is and what is not science yet he makes no attempt to explain how global warming has become accepted throughout the entire scientific community rather than just a crazy idea coming from a few liberal tree-hugging environmentalists. His global warming web page tries to blame most of it on Al Gore. In fact, there is no credited scientific organization on the entire planet that challenges the science, not even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, which not too long ago gave Michael Crichton their yearly award in “Journalism”!

To give an idea how Ross categorizes the question of global warming in terms of the great minds debating the question, one only need look at the name of the html page his global warming essay appears on:

Ross doesn’t even attempt to hide the fact that he starts with the politics and works backwards from there. His anger towards the Left is evident in the way he accuses *them*, not the scientific community(!), of “inventing something else” if it wasn’t global warming.

The financial pressure to maintain the status quo hardly needs an explanation, but does Ross really believe that people on the Left hate their country or the rich or whatever so much they just somehow convinced everyone except a few “true science-followers” into this Green conspiracy? The money trail from oil companies to anti-climate change astroturf organizations is clear enough for anyone with a computer to see yet there is not one financial link that can be found connecting clean energy to climate scientists. A conspiracy like this would have to be over 100 times larger than the “9/11 Truther” conspiracy with large sums of bribe money needed, and yet not a single financial connection between the liberal politics and the climate science can be found.

Ross’ “crichton.html” webpage on climate change is especially lame. The guy has the best website on the planet. Seriously, the maps of the pyramids he has posted are awesome and his work on the historical obscurity of the Eastern Roman Empire being caused by a pro-Italian bias is pure genius. But like setting loose the child with crayons upon the Mona Lisa, a perfectly good website is ruined by right-wing idiocy.

Ross just does not seem to understand that some 15 loose, incomprehensible, and extremely unscientific pages worth of content on “Unstoppable Global Warming” (one-third of which concentrates on a science fiction author) does not compare to the thousands upon thousands of pages of peer-reviewed research from actual scientists in countries throughout the world working on many independent lines of evidence. You might as well try to disprove evolution by writing about the volcano theories of L. Ron Hubbard on a cocktail napkin, which, come to think of it, isn’t far from how supply-side economics was invented.

Can you really be on the side that says scientists, not fossil fuel industries, are deluding the entire world and at the same time say it’s the Left who is covering up science with ideology? Isn’t it just a little disconcerting that the top guys fighting Climate Change science today is an English Lord with a Classics degree and a Creationist Senator who belongs to a Fundamentalist Christian organization linked to the C-Street sex scandals? If he really thinks science can be bought so easily, then he should at least admit to being somewhat “anti-science” himself, at least as far as the current official stance is in relation to the truth. The Right can’t even buy their own climate scientists. Was it a mistake of history that the entire world body of climate science ended up on the Left despite the Left’s “post-Copernician” hatred towards their profession? Is there another example in history in which the science got it wrong and traditional beliefs got it right? The funny thing about Neo-Cons is that, unlike their fathers, they finally admitted that the Left was correct about evolution, but they still don’t know why.

The theory that massive amounts of carbon inserted into the atmosphere causes global warming is over 100 years old. Congress was warned about this from James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies over 20 years ago. They have been proven by the hottest decade on record, the melting icecaps, the forest fires in California, the desertification of Australia, etc., etc., etc., all of which either follows or surpasses the worse-case scenerios predicted by the much-despised IPCC. Stephen Hawking, who some consider to be the smartest physicist in the world, ranks climate change along side the proliferation of nuclear weapons as one of the greatest threats to the future of the world. And once again, every accredited science organization on the planet says the “alarmists” are right. If you are going to present yourself as unbiased, you need to at least admit to some kind of even-handed criteria to which you would take the other side. What exactly do climate scientists need to present to accept their occupation as belonging to the realm of science instead of being a world-wide conspiracy theory?

Ross’ online shrine to Ayn Rand lists a compendium of “communist bullet points” appearing alongside red-colored rats, associating things like “child protective services,” “urban planning,” the “minimum wage” and “community service” with Communism, not a few inches away from the bust of Che Guevera himself. Next in the line are the green rats which he describes as being like watermelons: green on the outside, but red on the inside.

Finally, the black rats:  “relativism”, “nihilism”, and “ignorance”, which he associates with the post-Modern Marxists who seem to have completely taken over the vast majority of state universities without anyone realizing it:

Considering the millions murdered, tortured, enslaved, and impoverished by Marxists in the 20th Century, one would have to consider continued true believers [of “critical theory”] among the most uncritical people, let alone the most naive or dishonest, in intellectual history — a description that is sadly all too applicable to much academic culture in the United States, where Marxist doctrine and Leninist behavior are alive and well.

Even his views on philosophy are tainted by the anti-Leftist chip on his shoulder. Like, for one, he argues that: “Trendy intellectuals, however, would never want to admit that Nazi anti-Semitism owed any genuine, rather than merely a confused and misrepresented, debt to Nietzsche.” Maybe that’s because Nietzsche made numerous statements criticizing Anti-Semitism, Pan-Germanism, racism, and nationalism. Nietzsche even broke off all communication with his editor, his sister, and his good friend, the acclaimed German composer Richard Wagner, over their own Anti-Semitism. In Beyond Good and Evil, he criticized patriotism and advocated Europe unite peacefully. After his mental breakdown, he even wrote about fantasies in which he shot all the Anti-Semites. Nietzsche stopped writing after his mental breakdown but after his death, Nietzsche’s sister and her Nazi husband rewrote some of his unpublished writings and released it as a Nazi propaganda piece under the name The Will to Power, a concept Nietzsche wrote extensively about, but never in a nationalistic sense.

One might even be led to believe that Ross is making these accusations against Nietzsche as some kind of subconscious scapegoat for his own favorite philosopher. Ross admits that the philosopher of Kantian logic the website is named after, Jakob Friedrich Fries, was himself a German nationalist who wrote what Ross calls an “anti-Jewish tract.” Ross, however, fails to elaborate that a large part of that tract included the suggestion that Jews should be marked with a distinct sign so that they could be identified. Yet despite this, Ross actually tries to makes Fries out to be unfairly judged by historians, seemingly out of a Hegellian (yes, yet another competing German philosopher who Ross doesn’t like) bias:

In criticizing Fries, Shlomo Avineri (in Hegel’s Theory of the Modern State, Cambridge University Press, 1972, pp. 119-122), has correctly pointed out that German nationalism was already displaying some of its worst tendencies, including the book burning at the Wartburg Festival, and anti-Semitism — with Fries himself contributing an anti-Semitic tract. The horrifying overtones of this led Avineri to dismiss Fries and the Burschenschaften, not as “liberal, idealistic,” but as proto-Nazis; and he attributed the affinity between them all to the subjectivism and irrationality of Fries’ thought. This repetition of Hegel’s own charge, however, is nonsense.

Yes, how ridiculous that Fries should be called a proto-Nazi just because he was a right-wing nationalist who believed the Jews needed to wear signs to identify themselves just like the Nazis did.

One of Fries’ own students, Karl Sand, assassinated a German dramatist who spoke out against the Anti-Semitism of student nationalists. When the daughter of the dramatist caught Sand in the act, the assassin actually stabbed himself in remorse, but later recovered only to be executed for murder. A note from Fries warning Sand not to get involved with secret societies led the authorities to accuse Fries of complicity and he lost his philosophy teaching position only to teach math and physics elsewhere. Ross tries to claim that Fries’ Anti-Semtitism was no different than any of other liberal philosophers of the time, but to defend him while castigating Nietzsche is completely hypocritical.

By the way, the name of that tract that Fries wrote? “On the Danger of Well-Bring and Character of the Germans Presented by the Jews”. It starts off saying:

For about forty years now the Prussian scholars, in particular, have defended the Jews in face of the antipathy shown them by the common people. Some where motivated by friendship… positive forms of religion… still others, because they had become dependent on the rich, individual Jews….

The idea that the Jews were excessively oppressed in civic matters derives from this [erroneous belief that the Jews were treated with blind hatred]. If they were only to receive more civic rights, it is held, they would thus improve themselves. Ruehs has clearly shown that the opposite is true by using examples from history. Both in Germany and abroad the Jews have dwelt in free states where they enjoyed every right, and even countries where they reigned–but their sordidness, their mania for deceitful, second-hand dealing always remained the same. They shy away from industrious occupations not because they are hindered from pursuing them but simply because they do not want to.

Not exactly the kind of guy I would want to name my philosophy website after.

This entry was posted in History, Politics, Science by Jeff Q. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jeff Q

I live in New Orleans. I have a Bachelors in Computer Science and a Masters in English Literature. My interests include ancient history, religion, mythology, philosophy, and fantasy/sci-fi. My Twitter handle is @Bahumuth.
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  • Ryan the Sea Lion

    When it comes to sounding the drum about global warming, perhaps many on the Left also start with politics and work their way to the science afterwards. James Delingpole, in a recent ReasonTV video, suggests that the rise in global warming politics resulted from a crisis in Marxism following the collapse of the USSR.

    You ask, “Is there another example in history in which the science got it wrong and traditional beliefs got it right?”

    The point is that, when predicting the future, “the science” is ultimately a projection of a person’s own ideology. And if global warming proves to be a dud, it wouldn’t be the first time that environmental doomsayers were full of hot air. Sadly, I doubt it would be the last time either.

    Anyone still fearing the New Ice Age?

  • Delingpole is no different than any other conspiracy theorist: he just cites two people out of the pathetically small group of non-specialists who keep repeating the same debunked bullshit over and over again while citing themselves in a giant incestuous conspiracy theory circle-jerk. Kelley Ross steals Delingpole’s “watermelon” metaphor and then you cite Delingpole while responding to my criticism of Ross. I can name more scientific institutions that accept global warming than the number of names of actual scientists that get tossed around in climate denier circles.

    The idea that global warming science was invented because of failed Marxism makes about as much sense as saying Darwinism was invented because of the crisis of failed Nazism. (Oh wait — Ben Stein already went there.) The greenhouse effect was proposed in 1824 and verified by experiment in 1858. Jimmy Carter was putting solar panels on the White House (which Reagan took down) long before the fall of the U.S.S.R.

    Ironically, the propaganda shown on official government stations in Russia denied climate change against the consensus of their national science academy just as Bush tried to claim “more research was needed” against the statements of his own science organizations. President Medvedev only admitted that there was something wrong with the climate when the massive 2010 heat wave (like those in Brazil and the southern U.S.) broke out, destroying their crops. The subsequent ban on crop exports helped cause the food crisis that largely instigated the Arab Spring.

    I’ve gone over the stupidity of Anthony Watts and “Climategate” in other places.

    Science is not a projection of ideology. It is a discipline based on observation and experiment. Satellites and temperature stations have already long proven what anyone can see from the naked eye: the ice on mountains are receding, the famed Northwest Passage has opened, Niagara Falls no longer ices over during the winter, and nothing like this has happened during the thousands of years before we greatly increased the percentage of carbon dioxide in the air. There are no ties between mainstream scientific institutions and under-developed renewable energy companies but there are plenty of ties between climate denial and oil companies, as well as evolution denial, cigarette carcinogen denial, and even relativity denial.

    As to “How Deniers undermine Science and Theology,” it is ironic that far-right ideologues like Lewis Loflin, who argues on his homepage that anti-white racism is one of the most poignant topics in modern politics, want to demonize climate science by comparing it to religion since he’s essentially mirroring the Creationist attack on Darwin. I’ve seen all these arguments before and they start to get old.

    It’s like listening to someone criticize an airplane pilot while the plane is going down when they have no idea what any of the controls in the cockpit do. If you want to devote your career to climate science and after spending years learning everything there is to learn and then you write peer-reviewed technical papers on why the majority opinion is wrong, then fine, but don’t act like spending a couple of hours on the internet researching one side of a story makes you superior. Just because the left is more pro-science than the right does not mean all scientists are Marxists or atheists. Anyone can point to some book written by a biologist or some article about global cooling but that does not mean that it was ever accepted by the majority of scientists or scientific institutions. Anthropogenic global warming is accepted by the IPCC, NAS, NASA, NOAA, AMS, AIBS, AMQUA, AAP, INQUA, the Pentagon, CIA, 97% of climate scientists, 84% of total scientists (just 3% less than anti-evolution scientists), Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, the last two popes, the Dali Lama, and Ronald Reagan.