Violence, Evolution, Climate Change, and Cory Doctorow’s THE LOST CAUSE

  • How Republicans increasingly advocate violence;
  • How Tucker Carlson doesn’t understand evolution, and his several dumb objections to evolution;
  • How 10 straight months of record-breaking temperatures won’t persuade the skeptics;
  • And a passage from Cory Doctorow’s 2023 novel The Lost Cause that suggests that denialists will never admit that they’ve been wrong.

Republicans seem to be on a binge lately, floating violence as the solution to their problems (immigrants, elections).

Joe.My.God, 22 Apr 2024: Republicans Sue For Right To Harass Election Workers. Because free speech, ya know.

Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 22 Apr 2024: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s “space lasers” show how the GOP gets away with escalating violence, subtitled “From Kari Lake’s ‘strap on a Glock’ to the Supreme Court coddling Capitol rioters, GOP threat levels are growing”

I’ve mentioned the items in the subtitle. And the one about Tom Cotton advocating the murder of protesters blocking bridges. Others: downplaying the Jan. 6th violence. Ironically, the more talk like this there is — as with examples of Trump’s incoherence and near-dementia — it become so routine that it stops becoming “news” and so we hear less and less about it.

Perversely, it’s this violent rhetoric that is causing a decline in media coverage. When Republicans excuse or promote violence on a daily basis, it stops being “news,” making it harder for news organizations to cover it. But it’s this very process that makes it likelier that people will act on the violence. As we saw in the aftermath of the insurrection, many of the people who stormed the Capitol didn’t even think they’d face legal consequences, because the Republican normalization of political violence made them think their actions were just fine and dandy.



Joe.My.God, 20 Apr 2024: Man Who Voted Against Infrastructure Repairs Attacks Biden For Letting “Our Roads And Bridges Fall Apart”

That would be Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who complained about spending money on Ukraine, yet voted against the infrastructure bill.



Boing Boing, Mark Frauendfelder, 22 Apr 2024: Tucker Carlson humiliates himself by denying evolution on Joe Rogan podcast

This short summary of what Tucker said includes several of the standard talking points used by people to deny evolution, but which instead reveal only their ignorance of evidence and fact. These invalid talking points have been discredited again and again. How many can we find, boys and girls?

Aggressively incurious charlatan Tucker Carlson recently went on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast to hold forth on the topic of evolution.

“I think we’ve kind of given up on the idea of evolution,” he told Rogan. That’s correct, if you define “we” to be the QAnoners and moms-basement incels who make up Carlson’s audience. Even Rogan, who loves sharing moronic on his podcast balked, sputtering bewildered protests. But Carlson forged ahead, free from the burden of facts or knowledge.

“No, there’s no evidence at all that — none, zero — that people evolved seamlessly from a single cell amoeba,” Carlson declared with unearned confidence. “No, there’s not. There’s no chain in the fossil record of that at all.”

There’s a ton of evidence among numerous lines, if not in the fossil records — because single cell amoebae do not make fossils. Duh!

His confident dismissal of over 150 years of empirical research across multiple fields is staggering in its ignorance. Thanks to countless fossil discoveries clearly showing incremental evolutionary steps, we absolutely do have copious evidence for the emergence of humans and other complex life from far simpler ancestral forms.

But according to Tucker’s solipsistic viewpoint, ” But Darwin’s theories — totally un[proven] — that’s why it’s still a theory almost 200 years later. No, we have not found that at all.”

Check the bingo box. He mis-uses the word theory to mean any wild-ass guess. But the article accounts for this too.

Let’s pause here to laugh at poor Tucker’s garbled misconception of what a scientific theory even means. In Tucker’s world, a theory is mere hunch or blind faith belief. But among scientists, a theory is the highest form of verified, evidence-backed explanation, validated by extensive real-world testing.

Then there’s the appeal to tradition: whatever everyone believed thousands of years ago must still be true. As if humans cannot learn anything.

In fact, Carlson thinks humanity knows less today than is did in the Bronze Age. “God created people, distinctly, and animals. I mean, I think that’s like, I think what every person on earth thought until the mid 19th century, actually,” he told Rogan followed by a scary peal of high-pitched hysterical laughter. “It’s not a new idea.”

Right again, Tucker — it’s an old idea and a it’s been corrected since then. The fact that evolution remains a theoretical framework is precisely because it has withstood scrutiny and continuous re-evaluation for centuries. It’s a feature, not a bug! Meanwhile, Tucker happily waves away all that rigorous knowledge in favor of…God did it? Some deeply insightful stuff there, Tuck.

“God did it” is no explanation at all. Only simpletons think it is.

If he really believes this, why doesn’t he contact the heads of the biology departments at the hundreds and thousands of universities, community colleges, and high schools across and land — around the world! — and provide them with his and his fellow travelers’ insight about how what they’re doing is all wrong? It’s all about God!

(At least he didn’t cite the dumbest objection to evolution of all — that it violates the second law of thermodynamics. This is dumb on two points. One, why accept the scientific conclusion of the second law of thermodynamics, when you do not accept the scientific conclusion of evolution? Isn’t that second law “just a theory”? If not, why? Second, claiming the violation ignores the existence of the sun, which has been pumping energy onto the earth for billions of years. The second law of thermodynamics applies to an enclosed system.)


The ability to draw conclusions from evidence, and even change one’s mind, seems to be an ability of only a small fraction of humanity. Most people cling to ideology and unchangeable beliefs.

LA Times Editorial, 17 Apr 2024: If 10 straight months of record-breaking heat isn’t a climate emergency, what is?

Californians have had weekend after weekend of cool, stormy weather and the Sierra Nevada has been blessed with a healthy snowpack. But the reality is that even the last few months have been more than 2 degrees hotter than average.

The planet is experiencing a horrifying streak of record-breaking heat, with March marking the 10th month in a row that the average global temperature has been the highest ever recorded.

It would be shocking if it wasn’t so predictable. Despite everything we know about the effects of burning fossil fuels, humanity is still going in the wrong direction with self-destructive abandon. Last year greenhouse gas pollution climbed to a new high, a 1.1% increase over the prior year.

If 10 months of record heat isn’t enough to jolt world leaders into crisis mode, it’s hard to say what will.

The editorial goes on to provide further evidence, and emphasizes the importance of elections.


I’m half-way through reading Cory Doctorow’s 2023 novel The Lost Cause. It’s set some 30 years in the future, in which climate change is overwhelming, young people try to take actions to address it, while an older generation of geezer MAGA folks are trying to stymie their efforts.

I was struck by this passage. This is about, no matter what happens in the future, the denialists will never admit they were wrong. Page 160:

“The people who’d been on the wrong side all along, the deniers, the ones who’d said the country couldn’t afford to do the hard work, whose wrongness had killed people and left the Houses of Parliament to drown– even after we knew they were wrong, even after the Tower of London was halfway submerged, they were still there, still saying that they were right, saying we were overdue for a thousand-year storm, anyway, accusing us of exploiting other people’s misery to advance our nefarious causes.

“Not just a few people, either–this huge cohort of business leaders, politicians, asshole climate deniers and wreckers and their legions of followings. Screaming headlines, all over podcasts and radio, just incessant. At first I thought they were just part of someone’s expensive dezinformatsiya and yeah, I’m sure there were some heavies bankrolling the thing, but then I realized that these guys were shouting because they thought they were right. They were on the losing side of a just revolution–the generational-long deadlock and inaction they’d fought for had finally ended, and the UK was finally doing what it needed to do to survive the coming decades, and they were furious about it.

Doctorow is a novelist of course, and novelists often, have forever, speculated about human nature, in intuitive ways that have preceded the modern psychological understanding of psychological biases, motivated thinking and so on. One of the standard conclusions of modern psychology is that you can’t change people’s minds with evidence. They double-down; they’re committed to their ideological and community beliefs, and will rationalize away all objective evidence that conflicts with those beliefs. What Doctorow does here — and depicts in the novel — is how furious people whose beliefs are overturned might be. To the point of inciting revolution. This is probably true, and I’d never appreciated this before. — But I’m only half-way through the book. Will report more when I finish.

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