Several months ago I wrote a Federalist article criticizing the legendary skeptic Joe Nickell’s glowing review of the sequel to the most financially successful power point presentation of all time: Manbearpig part 2. I did not realize that Joe had come across my article until very recently. I was of course hoping he might and assumed that if he did respond there would be some measure of attempt to defend his viewpoint or at least try to be persuasive. Sadly Mr. Nickell had nothing remotely that rational in mind. Back in September he posted a laughably weak response more reminiscent of the intellectual punch line known as Bill Nye, than the tough minded skepticism he is known for.
His response was so noetically putrescent that deciding where to begin dealing with it is essentially a form of scatalogical philosophy, comparable to the daily decisions of a Zoo Custodian. A.k.a which piece of $&@# should I pick up first?
JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE SOMETHING DOESN’T MAKE IT FAKE NEWS
As a proud contributor to The Federalist I’ve decided to address his slanderous claim that The Federalist was reporting fake news. The impeccable reputation of the Federalist stands for itself and requires no defense. But the claim of Fake News is a serious one and in this case is dealt with easily.
Fake News by any reasonable definition is not partisan news or biased news. It is certainly not news we dislike or with which we disagree. The New York Times Op-Ed Page is a Daily car crash of leftism, but despite Andrew Klavan’s constant protestations it’s still not FAKE news. Fake News isn’t even strictly speaking news that is false. Publications are not perfect and will have to do retractions from time to time. Fake News is news that is faked. In other words the people publishing it don’t even believe it’s true. That’s the difference between fiction and non fiction. I would think that a man like Joe Nickell who earned his Ph.D. in English would be able to competently deal with the concept of genre. But alas The University of Kentucky has apparently failed him horribly. Joe disagreed with my article and therefore to him it became fake news. This is exactly how President Trump sometimes chooses to attack his critics. Rational people simply say “I disagree” and then explain why. They don’t throw temper tantrums and scream fake news.
The first turd is in the dumpster. Now to the rest.
DID I DENY GLOBAL WARMING?
In his third paragraph he wrote
“Who is Gleason? you rightly ask. He is a fledgling global-warming denier who shares Trump’s dissatisfaction with the Paris Agreement on climate change.”
This is partially true and partially false. I am a person of little consequence. In fact Nickell’s brief tirade is the most anyone has ever written about me, which I take as complimentary. So yes it is right to ask who I am since virtually no one on this planet is aware of my existence! But I am not a global warming denier. I’m not sure if I know anyone who actually denies global warming. If you read my article you will not find any evidence at all that I deny global warming. But to Joe’s skeptical credit my article had nothing to do with the Loch Ness monster, circus sideshows, or the Protocols of the Elders or Zion. Since that nonsense is what he usually deals in I can understand how it would be hard to comprehend normal subject matter. But it is of course true that I think the Paris Climate accord is unsatisfactory. It is a non binding agreement that accomplishes nothing but signaling “virtue.” I don’t understand why Nickell thinks it’s a good thing. Since he believes Gore’s apocalyptic shil films with Jihadi esque fervor I would think he’d be even more dissatisfied than I, with a climate accord that is unable to accomplish anything!
I’M NO SCIENTIST
He goes on:
“To say Gleason is a non-scientist is a great understatement.”
This is very true and also very irrelevant to the subject matter at hand. His original review, that I took to task, and this school yard response contain no actual science. To be fair to Nickell he uses the word science in a very imprecise manner. This is common amongst skeptics with no philosophical training. It is also common amongst skeptics WITH philosophical training such as his unfortunately esteemed peer Shermer. The sad truth is that Nickell adheres to the epistemology of naturalistic materialistic scientism. So to him science means something like truth, but only “truths” that make no recourse to metaphysics of any kind. In other words his epistemology, is to put it nicely, false. It’s similar enough to things like logical positivism that I can safely say Nickell’s epistemology was universally found wanting a century ago.
It’s similar to the infamous statement of William K. Clifford: “It is wrong, always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” And the response is what evidence do you have for that outrageous claim? And since they cannot provide any that sort of evidentialism disappeared, until the contemporary version of scientism managed to pull itself out of the intellectual Toilet.
AD HOMINEM GALORE
He continues with:
“He studied theology at evangelical Christian schools: Biola University and its Talbot School of Theology, which holds that the Bible is “the Word of God, a supernaturally given revelation from God Himself” and “without error” (“Doctrinal” 2017).”
This is partially true and partially false. My two degrees from Biola and Talbot are both degrees in analytic philosophy not theology. I minored in Biblical Studies but all Biola Undergrads minor in Biblical Studies. It’s a requirement for graduation regardless of major. And my MA is twice the unit size of a normal MA in Analytic Philosophy because Talbot is a Seminary as well as a graduate school. Their philosophy of Christian education is wholistic, meaning that they seek to equip their students for service to Christ in Academic pursuit. So I was required to take graduate classes that deal with psychology, History, and also theology. So yes I have formally studied theology. I have studied many things.
His poor attempt at slighting the orthodox Christian belief in inerrancy is easily refuted by the Chicago Statement of faith. To an intellectual like Nickell nuance is apparently a thing best left in the medieval University, where truly rigorous thinking took place daily. Because his inclusion of the statement “without error” is supposed to make the whole thing absurd. So he either doesn’t understand how Christians have qualified this or he’s decided that the words “without error” constitute an argument.
But uh…none of that is remotely relevant to the discussion at hand. The discussion at hand is Nickell’s opinion that Al Gore is the infallible Pope of climate change. A belief that Dr. Roy Spencer completely obliterated in his short Book on Manbearpig 1 and Manbearpig 2.
But it gets even better, he’s about to turn the irrelevance factor up to 11.
“Presently, among other things, Gleason drives for Uber.”
I also drive for Lyft! I also work in the California public schools with special needs students. I also do research for a prominent Christian Scholar. And now I’m going to be tutoring students in China. So I do more than just Uber. As if that even matters. Nickell should be embarrassed by this “response.” Poor guy. It’s pretty obvious he has no concept of what an argument is supposed to look like.
It’s unclear which fallacy he’s engaging in here because there’s a sense in which he’s engaging in multiple fallacies. But he also hasn’t actually attempted to make an argument. If you don’t make an argument then you aren’t strictly speaking being fallacious. You aren’t really doing anything. That’s pretty much what Nickell has done so far…nothing. He’s just upset.
MORE AD HOMINEMS!
“Although one might think Gleason is not the brightest bulb, he obviously believes himself smarter than I, Al Gore, 99.9% of climate scientists, and all but one world leader.”
That’s true I’m not very smart. It also has nothing to do with the discussion at hand. I’m clearly not smarter than Nickell or Gore since they are able to trick people into giving them money to engage in vacuous fear mongering. Meanwhile I have to work 4 jobs so that I can write articles, blog posts, and podcast none of which I get paid for. So yeah, in the smarts department Nickell and Gore have me beat pretty bad.
I also never claimed to be smarter than any scientists. But yet again Nickell is simply grandstanding. I don’t deny global warming. The earth has gotten hotter. I don’t deny that humans have contributed to it. We have. I deny that Al Gore has done anything positive on this topic but has instead enriched himself through senseless fear mongering. And he has duped the supposedly tough minded Joe Nickell into buying his nonsense. Nickell isn’t really sure what he is arguing for or against here because his worldview is an echo chamber of humanist dogmas. Even if I did disagree with 100% of scientists that isn’t an argument. The whole point of my original article was that these “arguments” aren’t persuasive. When Bill Nye was challenged by Tucker Carlson to provide some evidence for his ridiculous fear mongering, all Nye could say over and over was this is settled science. That isn’t an argument. That’s an attempt to stop an argument from taking place. Nickell had a chance here to try to provide some kind of persuasive case for his insane cataclysmic climate change view but instead he proved my original piece right. He doesn’t want to discuss. He wants to throw temper tantrums and expect people to just believe shils like Gore. It’s sad.
“What makes Gleason so brilliant in his own mind? He apparently jumps to conclusions with the aid of a pogo stick. For example, he asserts that I was “persuaded by Gore alone” about climate change. Actually, that is a falsehood: the science magazine I work for, Skeptical Inquirer, has been addressing climate evidence for many years.”
I’m pretty sure Joe Nickell denies the existence of minds. But if Nickell can’t understand my original article or how to respond like an adult to criticism then he certainly can’t understand Philosophy of Mind.
I also don’t own a pogo stick…I feel like this is an old man’s version of an insult. “Those whipper snappers on their fallacious pogo sticks!”
So did I say Al Gore was the only thing that persuaded him? Sorta.
“No one, least of all a skeptic, should be able to be persuaded by Gore alone on this issue.”
But what is at issue here is not global warming or climate change. What is at issue is believing Al Gore’s insane fear mongering about climate change. And I guess Nickell believes they’re one in the same. This discussion could have been advanced by some clarity from Nickell, but he chose to increase the nonsense through constant equivocation. And if Skeptical Inquirer holds to every position that Al Gore does then Roy Spencer debunked the debunkers as well since Gore’s predictions haven’t come true. And most of them have nothing to do with Climate change anyway.
I AM TRUMP, THEREFORE…
Any way he goes on:
“Cited by Gleason as his trump—or Trump—card is Roy Spencer, a meteorologist and prominent denier of man-made climate change who appears on programs like “The Rush Limbaugh Show” to discuss his beliefs.”
I don’t have a trump card or a Trump card. Roy Spencer is a real scientist. I find him persuasive because he is clear and moderate about his conclusions. But more importantly he isn’t a denier of man made climate change. He is a denier of Al Gore’s ridiculous claims. I don’t know what appearing on Limbaugh has to do with being a good scientist. I think Nickell has published in the Huffpost, which is probably the single most useless online publication after buzz feed. But I’m still trying to take Mr. Nickell seriously. His claims and arguments are what matter not the fact that he has an obsession with showing how every weird thing that anyone has ever seen is actually an owl.
“Spencer is a signer of “An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming” which states: “We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence—are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history””
Sounds good. I don’t have strong opinions about any of this because I’m not an expert on global warming, so maybe there’s problems with that Statement but two things can be true at the same time. Humans can contribute to global warming and it be part of a cycle. Spencer has said that carbon dioxide levels do contribute. The real debate here is whether or not Gore is right. Gore is not right, Manbearpig is not out to get us. In fact global warming has positive outcomes.
THIS IS BORING
“Spencer—a poster boy for confirmation bias—obviously prefers a dogma about “God” to the overwhelming scientific evidence for man-made global warming.”
This is tiresome. Nickell hasn’t said anything meaningful here. He’s just confirming everything I’ve said. Confirmation bias is exactly what Nickell has exhibited through this entire thing.
“Not surprisingly, he has been criticized for plotting data that supports his view, while ignoring scientific evidence to the contrary. He announced in 2014 that those who disparaged “climate change deniers” were themselves “global warming Nazis”.”
The comparison is apt. Nickell sounds and argues like a fascist throughout this “response.” Yet again this isn’t an argument, because Nazis don’t argue they try to force their beliefs on you. But ultimately he just thinks Spencer’s position is absurd, but Spencer points out constantly how Gore et al ignore other pieces of evidence. So it’s just ping pong. Who is right IS the debate, and since Nickell doesn’t want to engage in debate it seems like his 99.9% of scientists don’t have much of a case to make for Manbearpig.
“Gleason accuses me of making an appeal to authority, but look at the authority he appeals to. Thank you, Mr. Gleason; now run along.”
He did. That’s all he did. And as I pointed out that isn’t strictly fallacious if it’s a relevant authority. But it’s also not persuasive. Especially if you have competing relevant authorities. And the only way that Nickell has criticized Spencer is by attempting to attack his credibility. But Al Gore has no credibility and isn’t a relevant authority. So in the end Nickell has used arguments from authority against a competing authority which is fallacious and ad hominem’s that only speak to Nickell’s anti religious bigotry.
In conclusion Nickell still loses. So yes I’ll run along, and you’re welcome. I hope that you can teach an old dog new tricks because Mr. Nickell is very old and apparently very stuck in his ways. Maybe he’ll eventually grow up and mature into a rational adult. Fingers crossed, there isn’t much time left!