Is Science on the Brink of Discovering the Existence of G’d?

January 4, 2015

 

Carl Sagan, one of the most celebrated astrophysicists of our time, was an atheist and a proud one at that.  And as an atheist he never let one of his television programs or books go by without reminding us of our utter insignificance.  In one of his most famous books, The Pale Blue Dot, commenting on an image of Earth taken from the space probe Voyager 1 (1990), from a distance of 4 billion miles, he wrote:

 “Our posturings, our imagined self -importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.  Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.  In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

Despite this, Sagan did conjecture that, using the Drake Equation*, there are probably one million advanced civilizations in the Milky Way, of which the one produced by human beings on Earth is only a minute speck of dust. Mainstream astrophysics has followed him into this conjecture.

Unfortunately for Sagan and his coterie there has been no evidence to buttress this theory. Nothing found on the Moon; nothing seen on Mars; nothing picked up by the many space probes launched by NASA into space and today still trundling through the cosmos.

And nothing has been heard either. Since the 1960s  SETI (Search for Extra Terrestial Intelligence) observatories have attempted to pick up magnetic waves which could indicate the existence of an intelligence beyond our solar system.  But nothing,in over 50 years, has been recorded.

 

 

Could that be because there is nothing?   That’s kind of a difficult assumption for those of us raised on Lost in Space, Star Trek and Star Wars to accept.  It is a natural human tendency to stare at the night sky, feel oppressed by the magnitude of it all and let our imaginations run wild, carving out multiple advanced civilizations from all those constellations twinkling so invitingly above us.

But the odds against there being life, other than the one we know and on the planet we occupy, is actually overwhelming.  For life to exist, as Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards point out in The Privileged Planet, a planet’s atmosphere must be clear; a moon must be available and exactly the right size and distance from the planet to stabilize the planet’s rotation;  the star (sun) around which the planet orbits must be a precise mass and composition and that the planet cannot be too close or too distant from that star, lest it freeze or provide an environment which is too hot.  Then the planet must have just the right chemical balance or oxygen, carbon and nitrogen to allow organic life to breathe.

Given the very specific requirements for the earth to have come into existence and the vastness of the universe in which it exists, the chances that the Earth had of ever coming into being are several octillion to one.

But if the Earth itself came into existence because of an off chance, you would be surprised to learn that the Universe had even less chance of being born. According to Eric Metaxes, writing in the Wall Street Journal last week:

“Astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces—were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang.  Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000—then no stars could have ever formed at all. Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row.

Then what about life on earth itself?  How probable or likely is it that life could have developed here?  That question is of course of immense interest to microbiologists but so far has not been adequately explained by conventional science.  When we remember that the building blocks of life are molecules that contain within them a complex system of information known as DNA we should be asking the primary question of not how life developed from the first molecules but how did the coded information get into the molecules in the first place.  DNA is so extraordinarily complex and constructed at such a high level of sophistication that it appears beyond question that in some way it was actually designed.   Conventional science accepts the proposition of first cause – that nothing can ever come from nothing.  It has no answer for the origins of DNA – no adequate explanation whatsoever  – and therefore no real answer to the question of the origin of life.

This might be surprising to those of us who think that scientists know everything.  But the truth is, the more they learn, the less our scientists seem to know and thousands of microbiologists, astrophysicists, cosmologists, theoretical physicists and those dealing in quantum mechanics around the world are becoming mystified by the vast areas of knowledge with which they simply cannot grapple.  It is as if they had chiseled a long tunnel through a mountain, barely able to crawl along it, towards a speck of light they could detect in the darkness; only to discover that the speck of light was an illusion and they have entered a huge endless chamber from which they must now find an exit.

Many scientists who have reached this dead end have not thrown their hands up in exasperation but rather have embraced the one theory that ultimately makes sense of it all: that the Universe, Earth and the life upon it was all designed by a superior intellect and power.  This understanding, perhaps admitted grudgingly, has deeply shaken their atheism as well as their faith in materialist science.

In 2004 renowned British philosopher Antony Flew announced that he had renounced his life long atheism, citing, among other things, evidence of intelligent design in the DNA molecule.

Fred Hoyle a famous Cambridge physicist, astronomer and cosmologist, similarly could no longer credibly call himself an atheist since he could detect in his research evidence as if “a super- intellect has monkeyed with physics.”

Theoretical physicist Paul Davies, another atheist apostate, has said that:

Scientists are slowly waking up to an inconvenient truth – the universe looks suspiciously like a fix. The issue concerns the very laws of nature themselves. For 40 years, physicists and cosmologists have been quietly collecting examples of all too convenient “coincidences” and special features in the underlying laws of the universe that seem to be necessary in order for life, and hence conscious beings, to exist. Change any one of them and the consequences would be lethal. The appearance of design is overwhelming””

And Oxford mathematician, Dr. John Lennox,  has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”

And these are only a handful of  the scientists who are quietly admitting that science has no choice but to accept that the very “appearance of design”  – as Richard Dawkins put in  The Blind Watchmaker –  is actually design.   The reason you do not hear this  ‘aha moment’  amplified  more loudly is because most scientists are simply too afraid to say what many of them might be thinking – that the G’d  they have so resisted as having nothing to do with science, may be the actual father of science.

It reminds me of the famous photo taken of the earth from the far side of the moon by the Apollo 8 crew on December 24, 1968.  The majesty of the Earthrise, the first time any human beings had beheld the full Earth from space, was described in reverent tones as the crew read from the Book of Genesis with Commander Frank Borman reciting these lines:

“‘And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
“And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.’

We can view the Earth as Frank Borman and Jim Lovell did – as a magnificent gift to humanity presented to us by a superior power and intelligence.  Or else as their fellow crewman Bill Anders did- as a planet so tiny and isolated within the cold emptiness of space as suggesting a lonely purposelessness.  These two views, I believe, will define the overarching battle within science in this century, as more and more research reveals less and less understanding and scientists, who are after all just human beings like the rest of us, will be thrown back onto their intuition with the brave finally voicing a conclusion that so many of their colleagues have forcefully resisted over the past 150 years:

“Yes, there is a G’d.”

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of The Intermediate Zone

———————————————————————————————————————

*  The Drake equation is:

N = R_{\ast} \cdot f_p \cdot n_e \cdot f_{\ell} \cdot f_i \cdot f_c \cdot L
where:
N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which radio-communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);

and

R* = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations)
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space
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The Holocaust and The Truth About Genocide

April 12, 2010

How could it happen in Europe?

If history was a panorama dome, it might be  possible to observe a vista of the  Holocaust’s  European antecedents.    We would then be witness to Islam’s armies sweeping across Middle Eastern deserts and North Africa, slaughtering Jews wherever they found them ; the Crusaders leaving behind them rivers of Jewish blood flowing in the gutters of villages in the  Rhineland and France;   the Jews of York  being  massacred  in Clifford’s Tower; the Inquisitors of  Spain and their auto de fé slashing a scar across the face of that country that has never truly healed;   Chmielnicki’s Cossacks of 17th Century Russia, galloping across the foothills of the Ukraine, raping, pillaging and murdering Jews  unchallenged; the pogroms of  Tsar Alexander III in the early 1880s , the first modern instances of  state sanctioned murder and despoliation of Jews;  the Kishniev massacre of 1905,  a final  stake into the heart of Old Russia.

Unabated and unabashed Jew killing became a European specialty and so it is often claimed by modern historians that Adolf Hitler’s campaign to destroy the Jews was  merely a culmination of centuries of such slaughter.  But that theory has always rankled with me.    The Holocaust stands alone in  history as a high water mark, not just of Jewish slaughter but also of human degradation.  The two had to combine to produce something as truly brutal and barbaric as the mechanized slaughter of Jews.  The unending question, the one that never truly ceases to pound  in my brain is  –  how was it possible for the German people to have perpetrated such a horrifying program of inhumanity with barely a ripple  of conscience?

The most immediate answer to that question is that for those who executed their orders, as well as those whose silence made them complicit in the Holocaust’s perpetration, it was not inhumanity at all.  Rather, it was a service to mankind.

The very idea that one could facilitate the creation of a better world by the elimination of the less worthy elements in it, was a function not simply of German antisemitism but of a modern nihilism and entropy that had been metastasizing in Western civilization for a century.  Darwin’s theory of natural selection and survival of the fittest (and the Social Darwinism which emerged from it); Einstein’s theory of relativity which suggested that there were other dimensions to the universe and that time and space were not a continuum ; Freud’s probing of the subconscious, exposing man’s basic impulses as fundamentally barbaric;  the rampant growth of  political ideologies which found the cause of man’s unhappiness rooted  in capitalism, wealth and greed;  Nietzsche’ s insistence that God was dead —  all nurtured  the growing acceptance that life had little purpose beyond immediate gratification of one’s senses.  It ultimately lead to an erosion of religious faith and the notion that moral strictures and codes were essentially human constructs designed as instruments of power rather than as  a path to purpose, meaning and civilized conduct.

The eugenics movement of the early 2oth Century became the most fitting scientific analog to this collapsing sense of humanity.   The notion that humans can and should be selectively bred to improve the species began in 1865 with Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, who believed that heredity governed  talent and character, just as it does eye color and facial features.  He coined the term  ” eugenics ” in 1883,  deriving it from the Greek “good in birth”    In  the early 20th Century eugenics was a serious intellectual and political movement with courses offered in 350 American universities and endorsed in over 90% of high school biology text books.   In 1920, two esteemed German academics Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche published Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life ( Die Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensunwerten Lebens)  in which they argued that some humans had greater moral worth than others.  Here they suggested that physicians ought to be allowed to kill people deemed unworthy of life including the “terminally ill and mortally wounded; ” incurable idiots” and the”unconscious”   This was all  fifteen years before the Nazis instituted their own euthanasia programs.

And if you believe that eugenics was just a  European intellectual past time, think again.  In my June, 2009 piece California Roots of the Eugenics Movement, I describe how the Golden State became the leading sterilizer in the nation, putting to the knife to over 60,000 citizens deemed unworthy of reproduction, before a moratorium was called  on the practice in the early 1960s.  Eugenics enthusiasts were numbered among some of the West’s most  famous political and intellectual leaders on both sides of the Atlantic and these included  Sir Winston Churchill, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Theodore Roosevelt.

It is any wonder then that the Germans felt at considerable ease committing (in 1904), the first genocide of the century in South West Africa – all but wiping out the Herero natives there?   Or that the Turks, eleven years later, could mercilessly drive one million  Armenians from their ancestral homes and force them on a death march which resulted in the disappearance of 90 per cent of the population?  Or that Josef Stalin in the 1930s could allow five million Ukrainians to slowly perish from starvation?   And that all these events occurred years before the advent of the Second World War?  These perpetrators had been schooled for years  in the idea of the Üntermensch – that there were lesser beings who populated the planet and whose existence stood in the way of human progress.

Perhaps this should give us pause then to remember that genocide never begins with guns, machetes and knives, but with ideas.  The Nazis only built on the concepts that, by the time they came to power, had been percolating through Western intellectual life for more than 60 years.

In our own day, we can’t forget that there are bio-ethicists and philosophers such as Princeton University’s Peter Singer who argue quite seriously that infants, as human beings absent cognition, have no right to life  at all – at least no more than baby chimpanzees.

Years ago I remember a celebrated Australian journalist writing that whenever he contemplated the Holocaust, his biggest nightmare was not that he could have been a concentration camp victim, but that he could have been one of the guards.

This is a reminder to those of us who are regularly exposed to the noxious arguments of supporters of assisted suicide, euthanasia, abortion and  mercy killing and who daily see the reality of animal life raised to the sanctity of human life, that there might indeed be modern day forms of  “permission to destroy life unworthy of life.”   Perhaps it can make us all realize that the horrors of the Holocaust began with the dehumanization of those incapable of either defending or speaking for themselves, decades  before the blueprint of the first gas chamber was set to paper.

How could it happen in Europe?  The real question – and an ongoing one – is how could it have happened in the human soul?


Ballad of a Thin Man

February 18, 2010

“You’ve been with the professors 
And they’ve all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks
You’ve been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books
You’re very well read
It’s well known. 

But something is happening here

But you don’t know what it is

Do you, Mr. Jones?”

                                 –  Bob Dylan

 Poor Philip Jones.   To think that only a few months ago he was riding the crest of the Climate Change wave, certain that the adulation would continue to sweep him to a plateau of  glory as one of the planet’s saviors.   Now his career and scientific reputation are in about as much of a mess as the office in which he lost the vital research data upon which the world has written its own doomsday scenario.  

Three admissions – that data for the vital “hockey stick” has gone missing in Jones’ mountain of disorganized office documents;   that there  has been no trackable global warming since 1995;  and that warming periods have happened before but not due to man-made changes  – constitute some of the most provocative developments in over thrity years of global warming advocacy. 

That is because Philip Jones is one of the world’s leading climatologists and his scientific studies regarded as so unimpeachbale  by the IPCC ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) – the U.N. body charged with determing whether man-made activity is causing global warming, that his work has rarely ever been challenged by his peers, and certainly not by acolytes such as Al Gore or many members of the media. 

Jones spilled forth all these revelations on Monday in an interview with the BBC.   Yet even more mind spinning was this astonishing admission

“Prof. Jones agreed that scientists on both sides of the debate could suffer sometimes from a “bunker mentality”.  He said “sceptics” who doubted his climate record should compile their own dataset from material publicly available in the US.”

Ahem…..debate?   Six months ago you could not get Mr. Jones, Mr. Gore or any member of the climate change chorus to admit that there was any debate at all.  In fact, most had gone on record declaring  that global warming science was settled and beyond dispute.

Yet “compiling their own dataset” was exactly what the most persistent climate skpetics, scientists such as Richard Lindzen, Edward Wegman, Fred Singer and Robert Carter, have been doing for decades.

For Jones, Gore and many of their supporters in the media however, these men were not skeptics at all but deniers, as pernicious and as notorious as other any deniers of historical fact, including the Holocaust:

Said Mr. Gore in 2006:

“Fifteen percent of the people believe the moon landing was staged on some movie lot and a somewhat smaller number believe the Earth is flat. They all get together on a Saturdy night and party with global warming deniers.

Scott Pelley, of CBS’ 60 Minutes, when asked by CBS reporter Brian Montopoli in March 2006, why he did not pause to acknowledge global warming skeptics, responded:

“ If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?”

Newsweek joined that claque in August, 2007 with its famous cover story on global warming when Sharon Begley labelled these scientists:

   “ part of the denial machine, funded by the energy industry and organized by corrupt right wing lobbies.”

In the midst of the coldest winter in the northern hemisphere in in 130 years, with snow at one point blanketing 48 out of 50 states in the United States and rivers freezing in places they have not done so in 200 years, one would be hard put to understand any resistance to alternative ways of looking at global weather patterns.

For Philip Jones, that opportunity may have come a little too late.  But his acknowledgement that there might exist legitimate critiques of the science of global warming, is evidence that ‘something’ is certainly happening here, and that his chorus may soon be singing a very different tune.

Ballad of a thin man indeed.


More Evidence of Scientists Behaving Badly

February 9, 2010

Eric Felten, in the Weekend Wall Street Journal this week, adds to the list of malfeasants outlined in my piece Politics in Science. Besides pointing out some of the more egregious Climategate examples he adds:

  • Dr. Scott S. Reuben of the  Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA  – a respected anesthesiologist and researcher in pain medications, who had fabricated results in up to 21 articles to  in order to secure grants from pharamaceutical companies.
  • Cello Energy of Alabama, a company revealed to have dressed up plain old fossil fuels and biodiesel.  For their efforts, a federal jury in Alabama found that investors in Cello Energy had been defrauded of $10.4 m and awarded against the company.
  • In England, Lancet, the country’s premiere medical journal ( and recently the purveyor of the nonsense that Palestinian wife beating was brought on by the indignities of the Israeli occupation), retracted its support for an article which, twelve years ago  had linked vaccines and the advent of autism in young children, resulting in thousands of deaths of young children from diseases such as whooping cough which had disappeared in the late 19th Century.
  • Also  in England, two prominent stem cell researchers went public with their accusations against their discipline’s peer review process claiming that ” flawed and unoriginal work get published, while publication of truly original findings are either delayed or rejected.”

Eight weeks ago, in the Los Angeles Times, columnist Tim Rutten in the wake of the Climategate scandal,  asked the absurdly naive question,

“What are we to believe: that huge numbers of British and American scientists have entered into a conspiracy to dupe the world on climate change? Why? What would they stand to gain?”

Well, Tim, try money, power and fame.  They seem to be sufficient enough inducements for other human beings to commence a descent into corruption.  Or are scientists beyond the reach of human avarice?  A question to ponder as the veil is increasingly lifted on other scientists behaving badly.


A New Challenge to Climate Change

January 22, 2010

Is the climate change industry under seige? According to this latest piece from the Wall Street Journal  Climate Change Claim on Glaciers Under Fire that may be exactly the case.

In its 2007 report the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPPC) claimed that the Himalayan Glaciers, which feed the rivers that in turn feed much of South Asia, were very likely to disappear by the year 2035.

” The receding and thinning of the Glaciers can be attributed to the (sic) global warming due to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.”     The report stated.

But that, apparently is not the case, as IPPC chief, Rajendra Pachuari stated this week when he acknowledged that the claim was ” pooorly substantiated”

The IPCC report stated that the total area of Himalayan glaciers would likely shrink from 500,000 square kilometers to 100,000 square kilometers by 2035. The report cited a 2005 study by the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental advocacy group. That study cited a 1999 article in New Scientist magazine that quoted Indian glacier expert Syed Hasnain as saying Himalayan glaciers could disappear “within forty years.”

The  funny thing is that this is a self-correction – coming as it does directly from the mouth of the very organization that has been the most forceful proponent of man made global warming.

So  lets get this straight:   The data that operated as the basis of the IPCC report was based on a quote from a 2005 report by another environmental group which had relied on a 1999 quote from an Indian glaciologist.   Does that sound like sound scientific inquiry to you?  It doesn’t  to me and nor does the rest of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  The charter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is

… to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy.”.

This makes it a high-profile single-focus organization whose existence depends on its own reports. In other words it has a vested interest in promoting claims that would guarantee its funding and justify its continued existence.

This alone would be reason enough to closely examine its procedures and claims but the situation is made worse by the involvement of governments. These governments not only fund the IPCC but apparently accept its claims without question and allocate funding for climate research on the basis of those findings, then repeat the process when the next IPCC Assessment Report draws on the findings of that government-sponsored research to support its hypothesis.

In case you have forgotten the IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore and is the organization most lauded as having provided the world with the certainty of anthropogenic global warming.

But from the very beginings of its creation in 1988, the IPCC has been a political body first and a scientific body only second.

The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its mission, to assess the risk of human-induced climate change  has turned it into a single minded attack machine for anyone who dissents from the conventional view of anthropogenic global warming.

But from its earliest years inthe 1990s, this flagship of the global warming armada developed a distinctly political purpose.  One of the more alarming revelations is that of the controversy which surrounded the IPCC’s second report, The Science of Climate Change in 1995.  According to insiders, the report had originally concluded that there was no evidence that human beings have had any influence on the climate. Yet the original version of the report was substantially edited with 15 different sections of Chapter 8 ( the chapter dealing with the extent of human influence) being amended to reflect the opposite point of view. The Executive Summary to the report, the only part that in practise most politicians ever read, clearly hewed to the accepted fact of human interference, contrary to the conclusions of the original manuscript.

That editorial hit job was almost certainly the work of IPPC’s first chairman, the alarmist Swedish professor Bert Bolin. But he did not get away scot free. Professor Frederick Seitz, the former chairman of the American Science Academy, wrote in the Wall Street Journal on June 12th, 1996 that  ” I have never before witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer review process than the events that led to this IPCC report.”

He proceeded to demand that the IPCC process be abandoned. From then on,the IPPC’s serial campaign of disinformation only grew more robust and continues today as the flagship of the global warming armada.In discussions with the AGW proponents climate skeptics have often been often told that their views should first be published in peer-reviewed journals before they can be taken into consideration. At first sight this seems a reasonable requirement. But on closer scrutiny this argument is open to criticism. It is a good tradition in science that anybody may criticise any scientific statement with good arguments, irrespective of his or her position or background. However, often the climate establishment does not respect this tradition. On the contrary, as a rule only insiders are allowed to participate in the discussion. In this way an official though flawed idea can survive for a very long time. This has happened many times before in the history of science.

This perhaps explains how an  orphan idea central to the global warming community is coddled and nurtured within the  walls of fortress of climate change and any attack upon it viciously thwarted as an an attack upon reason itself.

The fact that the IPPC is beginning to eat its own young, is a sign that that the tables have turned.  Watch out in the next 12 months as the fortress walls begin to crumble under reaction to  such attacks as ‘Climate Gate’ and the work of other dissenters which will gain much greater public traction.

It is about time the IPCC is challenged in this way.  And it will be a blessing to the millions of people in the West whose lives have already been adversely affected by perverse and inimical legislation based on spurious science.


Google’s China Problem

January 17, 2010

Ten years ago, when I was working with Israeli internet  start ups, I brought a representative from an Israeli internet voice recognition company to Los Angeles.  In the course of his presentation to a group of investors, he described a meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing.   He said that for hours they peppered him with questions about security, questions he had never encountered  from  any government official before.    When he asked what was the source of fascination, it  was explained to him that his interlocutors were not as concerned with how to bring the new technology into the country, as with  how to keep it out.

Everyone has known for years that China is the fastest growing  market in the world for both the production and sale of goods.   But with its 1.3 billion person population, China also happens to be the world’s largest  potential market for information technology.

In recent years many of the landmark Internet operations of the United States, including Microsoft, Apple and Google have created beachheads in this market hoping to cash in on the likely explosive opening of this new frontier once Chinese state controls are loosened.

Last week Google became the first of the big three to finally accept that the Chinese fist is not going to be unclenched anytime soon.  Its threatened withdrawal from the Chinese market, after access to many of the major websites such as ebay, Youtube and Facebook had been blocked by the Chinese firewall known as Green Dam, was a last straw.  In recent weeks, at least 700 Web sites seem to have been shut down or blocked—on top of tens of thousands of foreign online services that were  already inaccessible. Individuals have been banned from registering new domain names in China, and authorities are turning the heat up on existing domains.

The lockdown has many companies worried because it is not simply access to information that is involved.   It is also access to proprietary technology that can apparently be scooped up by the Chinese firewall.  Cyberspying is a great threat to companies such as Google which rely on an interlinked network of proprietary technologies to engineer its formidable search engines.   Such piracy , is, of course, one of the known hazards of doing business in China.  But when you talk about theft of the very technology which makes a service such as Google unique, then there is cause for alarm.

For years, companies doing business in China recognized that they had to play by the Chinese rules if they wanted to succeed there.  Tough government regulations have always made it clear to companies from General Motors to  Motorola that they could reap the harvest of the Chinese market only if they were prepared to play by the rules.   For the past twenty years they have done just that.

But Google’s defiance at the latest outrage may be the first stone thrown in a battle with the Chinese which will involve not just companies but governments all over the world.   Already the White House has  come forcefully to the defense of Google demanding that China’s business practices conform with Western standards.  Other countries may soon follow suit.

What is clear is that the Chinese government is attempting to buy itself time.   It well knows that it was information that ultimately brought down Communism in Eastern Europe and the way to stem the ever present threat of a burgeoning counter-revolutionary force is to build barriers to that information.   But economic liberalization is meaningless without access to this information.  And prosperity, the one thing the Chinese leaders are certain is going to vouchsafe the longevity of their regime, will not continue to grow without it.

Unfortunately for the Chinese, growing prosperity also brings with it the demand for civil rights – as has been shown in almost every middle class -led revolution of the past 250 years.  The Chinese are fighting a battle they will not be able to win, and they know it.  One day the regime will topple, under the weight of a popular revolt from those who have access to information about the West and its many freedoms and will demand the same for themselves.

When it will happen , we do not know.   But as events in Berlin 20 years ago revealed to us,  a regime so seemingly certain of its longevity,  can be swept away in less time than it takes it punch a hole in a wall.

Or maybe in the time it takes to say ” Google.”


Identifying the True Idiots

January 12, 2010

Rolling Stone, that doyen of political correctness and bastion of hate for anything that is conservative, published this week its latest attack on the efforts to derail the global warming movement.    With an all black cover and absent any other graphics ( the funereal intent not going unobserved), the front cover screams its imprecations (in red) :  You Idiots:  Meet the Planet’s Worst Enemies.    The feature inside, The Climate Killers, proceeds to identify seventeen men whom it alleges are all facilitating the destruction of the planet.   They include investor Warren Buffett who, it claims,  invests billions in carbon-polluting industries; Rupert Murdoch, whose papers have become the leading source of disinformation about climate change; Fred Singer , author of Nature, Not Human Activity Rules the Climate and 85 -year -old professor emeritus in environmental science at the University of Virginia who is labeled a  ” hack scientist”; John McCain, who hasn’t done enough, apparently, to buttress his own beliefs in man-made global warming; Senator James Inhofe, who has led the republican charge in Congress against climate change legislation; George Will, the country’s leading commentator whom it regards as an anti-climate change ideologue masquerading as an intellectual, and several CEOs of leading coal and oil companies.

The article, in brash Rolling Stone style, does not make the case for global warming.  It clearly feels that it doesn’t have to. The preceding piece As the World Burns merely rattles off a list of catastrophes that every conscious human must already surely know.

For instance that:

” The Arctic is melting, wildfires are turning into infernos, warm-weather insects are devouring forests, droughts are getting longer and more lethal. And the more we learn about climate change, the more it becomes apparent how enormous the risks are. Just a few years ago, researchers estimated that sea levels would likely rise 17 inches by 2100. Now they believe it could be three feet or more — a cataclysmic shift that would doom many of the world’s cities, including London and New Orleans, and create tens of millions of climate refugees.”

There are no authorities cited for these views;  no reference to external data, field research or an offering of  independent studies.   There is no mention anywhere in the ten pages of the scandal, now  famously referred to as Climate Gate – which offers evidence of collusion and conspiracy on the part of leading global warming advocates to defraud the public. Nor is there any attempt to provide a level of balance to the discussion, preferring  to launch epithets and bromides against the ‘idiots’ who would deny the veracity of their claims.

In other words, there is no sense in which this piece can be regarded as journalism.  It is only an angry screed, unsubstantiated and full of deliberate obfuscations, such as the allegation that every one of the seventeen men on the list can be regarded as a stooge of the fossil fuel industry; that none of them could care less about the future of the planet or about the environment; that greed rules their world view.

Sophomoric, hyperbolic and poorly researched, the feature does little to hoist Rolling Stone much above the noisy yellow journalism of the tabloids.  It verifies what I have felt about the magazine for years – that rather than become a leading voice of the intellectual progressive left, as it might wish to characterize itself,  it has become an anti-intellectual repository of hate and anger poised against anyone who would challenge its ethos of political, sexual and economic liberation.

What a shame the progressive left allows itself to be under served by such a rank, also ran publication, steeped in oppositional politics yet nihilistically unsure of what it truly values.  How sad that any thinking person who reads this awful piece of writing, must come away with the opinion that  the crude  appellation of ” idiot” has somehow been slapped onto the wrong individuals.




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