Saturday, February 29, 2020

Hoppe: The In-Depth Interview - By Hans-Hermann Hoppe

[This interview with Jeff Deist and Hans Hoppe will appear in the upcoming issue of The Austrian (March–April 2020).]
JEFF DEIST: Your recent talk in Vienna mentioned growing up happy but poor, the son of East German parents who had been driven west during the Cold War by the Soviets. Can you elaborate on the lasting impact their experience had on you, in terms of how you view state power and its attendant evils? Are you in some ways still influenced by their “eastern” roots?
HANS-HERMANN HOPPE: The fact that my parents were both refugees, ending up in the West by the accident of WWII, driven away and separated from their original homes in Soviet-occupied East Germany, played a huge role in our family life. In particular the expropriation of my mother’s family and its expulsion from house and home by the Soviets, in 1946, as so-called East Elbean Junkers, was a constantly recurring topic at home and assumed even more importance after the collapse, in 1989, of East Germany and the following German “reunification.” My mother, as many other victims of communist expropriations, then sought and hoped for the restitution of her property—in which case I would have been set for life. However, as I already knew and correctly predicted by then, this was not going to happen. There was to be no justice. But my parents were shocked and outraged.
The numerous trips we took to visit various relatives in East Germany confirmed my parents’ judgment of the Soviet system. Shortages, waiting lines, empty stores, inferior products, and lousy services. All around controls, spies, and informants. Everywhere grey ugliness and decay. A prison wall built around the whole country to prevent anyone from escaping. And commie-proles droning on endlessly about the great successes achieved under their leadership.
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Yet as a little boy and a teenager I did not understand the reason for all this mischief and misery. Indeed, the East German experience did little if anything to shake my own leftist convictions at the time. East Germany, I thought, was just the wrong type of socialism, with the wrong people at the helm.
Apart from their anticommunism, my parents, as most people of their generation, were highly guarded or even timid regarding political pronouncements. Germany had lost a devastating war, and the German population was subjected to a systematic, American-led reeducation campaign, a Charakterwaesche (character-wash), as I was to realize only many years later, of truly enormous proportions, which involved a complete rewriting of history from the victor’s viewpoint, essentially portraying Germans as congenital villains. This made it all the more difficult to finally discover the fundamental importance of private property rights and the evil of statism and so-called public property.
As far as any genuine “eastern” influences are concerned, I am skeptical. Far more important in any case was the fact that my parents were impoverished refugees who eagerly wanted to recover from their losses, get ahead in life, and instill their own will to succeed also in their children. (In fact, empirical studies later on demonstrated the comparatively greater professional success of refugee children as compared to their nonrefugee peers.) However, in the German context you may count my Protestant—Lutheran—upbringing and the character traits typically associated with it, i.e., the “Protestant ethic,” as described by Max Weber, as somehow eastern.
JD: You also mentioned your time at university, studying philosophy under the direction of left-wing critical theorist Jürgen Habermas. Although your political philosophy differs radically from his, discuss his influence on you and your development of “Austrian” class analysis. Is he purely a malign figure, or can we learn from him?
HH: Looking back, I can certainly say that Habermas has been a largely malign figure. He became Germany’s most famous and influential intellectual, and as such played an important role in Germany’s gradual but steady move leftward, both economically and culturally. Indeed, he can be regarded as the high priest of historical and political correctness, of social democracy, and of political centralization.
Nonetheless, my relationship with Habermas, while not close, was cordial, and I learned quite a bit from him, especially from his earlier works such as Erkenntnis und Interesse (Knowledge and Interest). (Since the late 1970s I essentially stopped following his work, as it was increasingly tedious and murky.) In any case, it was Habermas who introduced me to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of analytic philosophy and the philosophy of language. He helped me understand “methodological dualism,” i.e., that the study of objects with which we can communicate (and communicative action) requires different methods than those appropriate for the study of noncommunicative objects (and instrumental action). And contra all empiricist and relativist claims, Habermas always defended the notion of some sort of synthetic a priori truths.
As far as my work on class analysis and the theory of history is concerned, however, it owes nothing to Habermas, who had actually little interest in economics and political economy, but instead to my earlier study of Marx. I wrote the original paper on the subject for a Mises Institute conference on Marx, and I tried to show how, by only substituting State for Business Firms and Taxes for Wages, Marx’s exploitation theory and his theory of history would make perfect sense.
JD: Your speech titled “Coming of Age with Murray” in New York City two years ago reveals much about your personal relationship with the late Murray N. Rothbard. In fact you moved to New York primarily to work with him. Looking back, are you glad to have left Germany for America? Would your career and work look very different had you remained at a European university?
HH: Oh yes, that move was about the best and most important decision I ever made. Given my views at the time, i.e., my Misesian-Rothbardian outlook, an academic career in Germany, even if not entirely impossible, would have been extremely difficult, even with stellar academic credentials. I might have become depressed and given up. Certainly, without constant encouragement such as I would receive from Rothbard in America, I would have written less and then mostly in German, which no one but Germans read.
In the meantime, thanks to the growing influence and worldwide internet presence of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, the situation has significantly changed. It is still difficult, but nowadays you can also have a successful academic career in Europe even as an Austrian (but you will have to write in English).
JD: Rothbard remains relevant and controversial today. Why is he so consistently misunderstood? Given your long history with him, both in New York and at UNLV, what do his critics fail to grasp? Was he warm and convivial as his supporters contend, or acerbic and mercurial as per his detractors? Does his work in social theory overshadow his work as an economist?
HH: Rothbard was a genius of the first order. He ranks among the greatest economists, but he was not and did not want to be a mere economist-economist. He was also a great philosopher, sociologist, and historian, and as such became the creator of a grand, integrated intellectual system. Anyone familiar with Rothbard’s entire oeuvre can only stand in awe before his achievement. But there also lies the problem. The sheer volume and the interdisciplinary character of Rothbard’s work makes it difficult for anyone but the most dedicated and talented student to give a full and fair account of his work. Moreover, especially economics, the centerpiece of Rothbard’s system, is a rather dry, technical field with very limited sex appeal. Much easier, then, for the envious, lazy, and talentless to engage in nit-picking. And easier still not to talk about Rothbard’s scholarly work at all, but reduce him to the libertarian activist (that he also was, if only in his spare time and for his own amusement).
As far as Rothbard the man is concerned there is something to both seemingly contradictory statements about his personality. You certainly did not want to become the target of one of Rothbard’s many written missives. As a writer, Rothbard could be merciless and devastating, ready to go in for the argumentative kill. On the other hand, as a person, in social gatherings, he was a softy: warm, convivial, charming, and entertaining
JD: Rothbard frequently defended you and your work, charging critics with “Hoppephobia.” What did this mean to you as a young scholar? Why does loyalty and gratitude seem so scarce in academia generally, and in libertarian circles?
HH: If you write and take a clear and unambiguous stand on highly contentious issues, you should expect some heat. Otherwise, if you don’t like the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Given what I wrote or said in public (or the way I said or wrote it), I knew that I would be a controversial figure; and as a young man I took a good deal of delight from provocation and vigorous intellectual debate. Nonetheless, I had no idea how downright personal, nasty, and even defamatory and libelous some critics and criticisms could get. In such situations, then, Rothbard’s coming forward in my defense was a welcome relief and gave me a great boost of confidence. After some years in academia, however, I developed quite a thick skin and learned that many a critic and criticism were not worth my attention and best ignored.
As for loyalty and gratitude, it is necessary that a person recognizes and admits that he owes something to another person; that this other person has done something of value for him that deserves to be acknowledged. I tend to agree with your assessment of academia and certain libertarian circles as ranking rather low in this regard. And in both cases I suspect the prevalence of egalitarian ideas to be responsible for this outcome. The typical or “modal” libertarian, as described by Rothbard, is an egalitarian, respect-no-authority guy, with little knowledge of history and world affairs. He fancies himself to have come up with everything he has and knows on his own, as a self-made man, and as such thinks that he owes no one any gratitude or special respect.
The egalitarianism of academia, or more precisely that part of it that is principally concerned with writing and speaking (rather than doing, such as engineering, for instance), is of a different kind. Let’s call this group the intellectuals. Intellectuals generally suffer from an inflated ego. They consider intellectual work and hence themselves as more important than mundane or manual work and workers. In their eyes, then, the fact that they are all subsidized today and kept financially afloat by nonintellectuals is only how things should be anyhow. No need to be thankful for what is self-understood, as far as they are concerned. In this regard, intellectuals are elitists. Vis-à-vis each other, however, they are typically egalitarians. They all equally write and speak, and who is to say that this writing is better or more original than that. True enough, their salaries and their standing in academia may be quite different. However, such differences are solely the result of bureaucratic procedures and criteria that have nothing to do with truth or beauty. Nor does popularity matter as far as truth and beauty are concerned. No need, then, for an intellectual to ever feel less of an intellectual than anyone else.
JD: You mention sharing with Rothbard a profound interest in religion and the sociology of various faiths despite being an agnostic. Have you changed your perspective on Christianity and its influence on the West? Is the post-Christian West going to be a nasty and tribal place, contra the assurances of secularists?
HH: Whether you are a believer or not, there is no way of denying that religion has played a hugely important role in human history and that it is the West, i.e., the part of the world shaped by Latin Christendom in particular, that has surpassed all other world regions both in terms of its material as well as its cultural achievements, and that among its superior cultural achievements in particular is also the idea of natural human rights and human freedom. The Christian notion that each person is created in the image of God contributed to the uniquely Western tradition of individualism and was instrumental in abolishing, at long last, the institution of slavery within the Christian orbit (all the while it lingered on outside the West, even until today). And the institutional separation and jealous competition for social recognition and authority in the West between the Christian church and its hierarchy of popes, cardinals, bishops, and priests, on the one hand, and all worldly power with its hierarchy of emperors, kings, nobles, and heads of households on the other contributed greatly to the uniquely Western tradition of limited (as opposed to absolutist) government.
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This happy, power-limiting arrangement began to crumble already in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with the Protestant Reformation and the Counter-Reformation following. Today, the various Christian churches are essentially appendices of the state. As such they promote even the mass importation of people of rival faiths into formerly Christian lands, thus further undermining whatever authority they may still possess in public opinion and strengthening at the same time the power of the all-secular, post-Christian state.
JD: Democracy: The God That Failed remains perhaps your best-known and most controversial book. Nearly twenty years later, give us your thoughts on the book’s legacy. Are you happy with its notoriety and impact, or do you wish your work on socialism, property, and ethics was better appreciated?
HH: Indeed, of all of my major writings Democracy has been the bestseller, and it is no exaggeration to say that the book in the meantime has exerted some notable influence in helping desanctify the institution of democracy (majority rule) in public opinion. Naturally, I am quite happy about this. The book has a certain “sex appeal,” if you will. It is interdisciplinary and not too technical, and it offers some new, original, and provocative theoretical theses and insights, combined with alternative, revisionist historical vistas and perspectives. It may be the only major work of mine a person reads and associates with my name. But then, I always hope, there may also be other people to whom it opens the door to some other, possibly more important if less sexy, works of mine.
JD: Both your fans and critics seized on a passage in Democracy arguing that individuals with goals and lifestyles at odds with a libertarian social order would be “physically removed” from that community. Since then you have clarified how this phrase functions as an adjective, not a verb. In other words, people at odds with the agreed-upon terms of a private community simply should live elsewhere, just as one town is physically separate from a nearby town. What are your thoughts about the controversy today?
HH: This harks back to your earlier question concerning Hoppephobia. The whole affair, most likely initiated by one of the usual left-libertarian suspects from the DC beltway, was a deliberate attempt to smear and malign me personally and with that also the program of a realistic or right-libertarianism first outlined in the book.
Essentially, I did not say anything more controversial or scandalous in the short passage than that anyone insisting on wearing a bathing suit on a nude beach may be expelled from this beach (but be free to look for another one), just as anyone insisting on nudity may be expelled from a formal dinner party (but be free to look for another party). In my example, however, it was not nudes but homosexuals that figured. I wrote that in a covenant established for the purpose of protecting family and kin, people openly displaying and habitually promoting homosexuality may be expelled and compelled to look for another place to live. But in some “woke” circles, mentioning homosexuality and expulsion in one and the same sentence apparently leads to intellectual blank-out and a loss of all reading comprehension.
Ultimately, the entire smear campaign failed and even backfired, only increasing my own popularity and the influence of the book.
JD: At your Property and Freedom conference in Turkey you have spoken on the process of “de-civilization,” whereby positive law overtakes natural law under the domination of a monopolized state actor. Property rights and adjudication of conflicts fall under the grasp of this monopoly power. We like your conception of the opposite: a social order emerging from “justice principles,” taking the form of a private-law society—entirely voluntary—more in harmony with simple natural order. It sounds better and more reasonable than anarchism to ordinary people! Are anarcho-capitalism and resulting private “covenant communities” actually far less radical than commonly thought? Are they in fact outgrowths of natural law concepts that many people already accept?
HH: Indeed, yes, and yes again. Even if it appears to be little more than a shift in semantics, for the reasons you mention I have long preferred the terms “private-law society” and “natural order” to “anarcho-capitalism.” Because everyone is familiar with the basics of private law. From our everyday lives, we know what property is and implies and how it is acquired and transferred (and how not). As well, we know what an exchange, an agreement, and a contract are (and what is not to count as such). There is nothing difficult or especially demanding about the natural law of property and contract. Indeed, in many small villages people live by these laws, without the presence or pressure of any outside government police or judge. There is self-policing. Yet whoever polices is subject to the same rules as everyone else. And if need be, in the case of conflict, there is self-arbitration and self-adjudication. But whoever acts as judge or arbiter, too, is subject to natural private law.
The emergence of a natural order ruled by private law, then, is not difficult to explain. What is difficult to explain is the emergence of a state. Why should there be anyone, any institution, not subject to private law? Why should there be someone who can make laws? Why should there be an institution that can exempt itself from the rules applied to everyone else? Why should there be some policemen who cannot violate the law or some judges who cannot break the law? Why, indeed, should there be any ultimate and final judge, exempt from any and all prosecution? Certainly, all of this cannot be the result of an agreement or contract, because no one in his right mind would sign on to a contract which stipulated that in any conflict that might arise between you and me, you will always have the final word.
JD: Let’s turn to immigration. You propose contractual admission of immigrants, with sponsors (or immigrants themselves) funding a bond or liability insurance to pay for any criminal or civil cost imposed on existing taxpayers. Immigrants remain in their new home conditionally for an initial period, subject to revocation of admission for contractual violations. They do not receive “welfare”; citizenship and voting rights come much later. You refer to this system as satisfying the “full cost principle.” In many ways this is far more “open” than open borders proposals, because it requires no checkpoints or intake centers or vast border police agencies. It uses contracts and market forces to shape immigration, rather than political machinations. This seems far more humane and practical, yet you are assailed as anti-immigration. What explains this?
HH: As already touched upon, in some circles the mere mention of two words in one sentence—this time “immigration” and “restriction”—is sufficient to trigger a blank-out. No need to read any further and try to comprehend. First homophobe, then xenophobe. In fact, I have never met a serious advocate of “no immigration, period!” Nor have I ever taken a stand that could be described as anti-immigration. Instead I have always argued for the commonsensical approach of selective immigration.
Ideally, with all pieces of land and everything on them privately owned, there would be a huge variety of entrance requirements, i.e., of degrees, respectively, of openness and closedness. I have described this, for instance, in my piece “Natural Order, the State, and the Immigration Problem.” Airports, roads, shopping malls, hotels, etc., would be rather open, whereas residential associations, private retreats, clubs, etc., might be almost completely closed. In any case, however, all migration would be by invitation and invariably the full cost principle would apply. Either the inviting host or the invited guest or both jointly would have to pay the full cost associated with the guest’s presence. No cost could be shifted and externalized onto third parties, and the inviter and/or invitee would be held liable for any and all damage resulting from the invitation to the property of others.
If and as long as there is a state with so-called public property in place, as happens to be the case in today’s world, then the best one may hope for is an immigration policy that tries to approach this ideal of a natural order. You have mentioned some possible measures in this regard. But to advocate, under current conditions, the adoption of a “free immigration” policy—every foreigner can come in and move and stay around the entire country, no questions asked—is certainly no way to achieve this goal. To the contrary, it would make forced integration and cost-shifting ubiquitous, and quickly end in disaster. Only people devoid of all common sense could possibly advocate any such policy.
JD: In your exchanges with Walter Block about immigration, he argues that all government property ought to be subject to open homesteading by immigrants. Your response is often characterized as “taxpayers should own taxpayer-funded public goods.” But in fact your argument applies only in the context of Block’s argument, to disprove the notion that public property should be viewed as “unowned.” If we must have public property, state agents at least ought to act as trustees of that property on behalf of the taxpayers who fund it. Accurate?
HH: Accurate. Let me only add that in today’s world the sometimes mentioned “wilderness” of mountaintops, swamps, tundra, etc., is no longer truly wild and thus ready to be homesteaded. There is no inch left on earth today that is not claimed to be the “property” of some government. Whatever wilderness there is, then, it is wilderness that has been barred and prevented by some government, i.e., with taxpayer funds, from being homesteaded by private parties (most likely by neighboring property owners). If anyone, it is domestic taxpayers who are the legitimate owners of such wilderness.
And quite apart from this, even if some wilderness were opened for homesteading, it would be neighboring, domestic residents, who had been most immediately and directly barred from doing so before, who should have the first shot at homesteading, well before any distant foreigner.
JD: Hoppean argumentation ethics remains a subject of rigorous debate, most recently between (economist) Robert Murphy and (legal theorist) Stephan Kinsella. How important is a purely logical justification for human liberty, as opposed to Rothbard’s normative natural law arguments or Mises’s utilitarianism? Is the shared human experience of physical personhood the best starting point for arguments against the initiation of violence, i.e., arguments against the state?
HH: There are some questions that can be answered definitively by the performance of a simple experiment. For many others that is not possible. Sometimes we are satisfied with answers that sound plausible or appear convincing on intuitive grounds. But to the curious mind, some questions are of such great importance as to ask for more than just plausibility or intuition.
Transcendental arguments are designed to satisfy this desire for more, i.e., for logical certainty or ultimate justification. They are answers to the skeptic who denies that there is any such thing as ultimate justification and a priori truths. They try to establish, by means of self-reflection, what the skeptic must already presuppose as given and true simply in order to be the skeptic that he is, i.e., to make his skepticism possible. One has reached certainty about something, then, if one can show that even a skeptic must admit to it, if only in order to meaningfully express his very own doubt.
The ethics of argumentation is the answer to the ethical relativist, i.e., to any one person claiming—as a proponent vis-à-vis an opponent in argumentation—that there is no such thing as a rational or objective ethics.
In response to the relativist proponent it is essentially pointed out that by virtue of his own engagement in argumentation he has already effectively rejected his own thesis, because argumentation is an activity, a special, conflict-free form of interaction between a proponent and an opponent with the specific purpose of clarifying and possibly coming to a mutual agreement concerning some rival truth claims. As such, it presupposes the acceptance as valid of such norms or rules of human conduct as make argumentation itself possible. And it is impossible, then, to argue against and deny the validity of such norms without thereby running into a performative or dialectic contradiction.
The praxeological presuppositions of argumentation, then, are twofold—and we all know them from personal experience more generally also as the conditions and requirements of peace and peaceful interactions: first, each person is entitled to exclusive control or ownership of his physical body (that he and only he can control directly, at will) so as to act independently of others and come to a conclusion on his own. And secondly, for the same reason of mutually independent standing or autonomy, both proponent and opponent must be entitled to their respective prior possessions, i.e., the exclusive control of all other, external means of action appropriated indirectly by them prior to and independent of one another.
Rothbard immediately accepted my proof. In fact, he hailed it as a major breakthrough. As for the various criticisms I have encountered, I have not been impressed, to put it mildly.
JD: Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the West? Do you think sclerotic, bureaucratic states will yield to happier and more decentralized political arrangements? Or do you think Washington, DC, Brussels, et al. will repeat the terrible mistakes of the twentieth century: aggressive foreign policy, unrestrained central banking, and political globalism?
HH: In the short and medium run, I am pessimistic. True, our living standards have gone up and technological progress allows us to do things not long ago thought impossible, but at the same time the coercive powers of the state have continuously expanded, and private property rights and personal freedom have been correspondingly diminished. The process of political and monetary centralization has proceeded unabated. Central banks create more money and credit out of thin air than ever before. Government debt and obligations have risen to exorbitant heights, so as to make some future default a virtual certainty. All the while taxes and regulations have brought economic growth to a standstill. It is clear, then, that a severe economic meltdown is in the making.
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At the same time, throughout most Western countries the populations have been thoroughly dehomogenized by immigration policies favoring multiculturalism. And migration into the West by non-Westerners has been massively increased still as a fallout of the endless US wars and military adventures in the Middle East and elsewhere. Most Western countries now contain within their own native cultures large pockets and clusters of people of not just different, but rival and even hostile cultures.
Combined with a major economic crisis, this makes for an explosive mixture, the ingredients of a civil war.
It is amazing how the ruling elites have so far managed to keep the show running. But there can be no doubt that the day of reckoning must eventually come, and when it does I see two likely scenarios of how to escape the danger of civil war. The first one is the strong man variant, an authoritarian regime that tries to hold all things together by means of centralized, dictatorial powers. And the second variant is that of decentralization: of secession, separation, and disaggregation so as to approach the ideal of a natural order. Naturally, the second variant is the one favored by libertarians (and recommended by Mises). Yet to make this variant win, libertarians have to prepare the ground. The public must be educated about the economic and social advantages of small, competing political units, and it is necessary to find and nurture potential charismatic leaders for the various decentralist and secessionist causes.
JD: Finally, how does living in Turkey affect your perspective? Are old notions of East and West breaking down, and should we consider looking East for allies in the fight for civilization and property?
HH: As mentioned before and emphasized also by Mises, the idea of liberty is originally a Western idea, created by white Western males, and although it has lost some strength there, it is still most prominent and widespread in the West. That does not mean that it is restricted to the West or only accessible to Western minds, however.
If there is anything I have learned from living in various countries and from my many travels, it is that there exists far more sociocultural variety and variance on earth than the typical Westerner might imagine: not just the variety of different countries, but even more so the regional and local variations within each country. Almost everywhere you can find a few libertarians or classical liberals, and you should look out for them wherever they are, of course. But just as we must learn in our private dealings with other individuals how to distinguish between potential converts on the one hand and hopeless cases on the other, so as not to waste our time and effort to no end, so, and for the same reason, we must also learn in our search for allies how to distinguish between hopeful, less hopeful, or even hopeless countries, regions, and localities. And we must realistically recognize that different places offer hugely different and unequal prospects and potential in this regard.
Note: The views expressed on are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
Hans-Hermann Hoppe [send him mail] is distinguished fellow at the Mises Institute and founder and president of the Property and Freedom Society. His books include Democracy: The God That Failed and The Myth of National Defense. Visit his website.

Climate Change is Not Decimating Bees - By Anthony Watts

Several media outlets -- namely National Public Radio -- are touting a tall tale that climate change is decimating bee populations throughout North America. The (false) alarm is based on a February 7 study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The study, however, is deeply flawed and does not change the very low likelihood of climate change seriously impacting bee populations. 
After examining the study, titled “Climate change contributes to widespread declines among bumble bees across continents” -- one immediately notices that there is a key issue missing that is not discussed in the paper at all: Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). In non-scientific jargon, CCD occurs when entire hives suddenly experience population crashes. CCD has been called the honeybee’s biggest enemy by scientific researchers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says:
“There have been many theories about the cause of CCD, but the researchers who are leading the effort to find out why are now focused on these factors:
  • Increased losses due to the invasive varroa mite (a pest of honeybees).
  • New or emerging diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus and the gut parasite Nosema.
  • Pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control.
  • Stress bees experience due to management practices such as transportation to multiple locations across the country for providing pollination services. 
  • Changes to the habitat where bees forage.
  • Inadequate forage/poor nutrition.
  • Potential immune-suppressing stress on bees caused by one or a combination of factors identified above.”
Needless to say, the many causes of CCD identified above don’t get a single mention in this new study, which cites climate change as the overwhelming “cause” of declining bee populations.
The study’s methods are quite dubious. In effect, they took a trove of bee population data, tossed out a bunch of facts and figures they didn’t like, put it into the world’s most complex gridded climate model, compared data, and somehow claimed correlation with climate change.
Here is an example of their questionable methodology. The authors noted that if their limited examination of parts of a 3,600-square-mile area found some types of bees -- but not a particular species of bee they were looking for -- then the bee does not exist in the 3,600-square-mile area. That is a huge leap in (faulty) logic. In 3,600 square miles, it would be quite likely to identify one, or three, or even five types of bees while not identifying another type that is only present in a smaller segment of those 3,600 square miles.
Such methodology is troublesome. In much of their analysis, the authors are not really dealing with actual observations. They start with those, but then they create a model that gives them “occupancy probability” -- or educated guesses based on their limited actual observations. Instead of looking at the effects of a changing climate on actual bee numbers, they speculate about the effects of a changing climate on “occupancy probability.”
Then, there is this interesting statement:
Occupancy, extirpation, and colonization. Consistent with measured declines in occupancy (Figure 2), observed distributions declined on average by 54% (±3.4% SE) in North America and 18% (±7.2% SE) in Europe relative to the baseline period (Figure S6A).”
Yet the researchers fail to explain why bee populations more than halved in North America, while European bee populations dipped only one-third as much as North America. They don’t even try to explain why global warming doesn’t impact bees the same way globally.
It is difficult to understand how this study passed the peer review process. This is especially so, considering scientists who study species extinctions are not at all concerned when it comes to the studied bees.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has published the IUCN Red List on the European bumblebee that was tracked in the study. The IUCN Red List categorizes the European bumblebee as “Least Concern.” That is the absolute lowest level of concern that the Red List contains. For the American version of the same bee, IUCN says “Data deficient” -- meaning they don’t have enough data to even assign a concern level. You’d think if populations were collapsing due to climate change, researchers would be feverishly counting bee populations. But they aren’t, and that speaks volumes.
This overhyped climate-blaming study seems merely an exercise in numerology and “climate click-baiting.” Neither the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency nor the International Union for Conservation of Nature believe a climate-caused bee crisis is on the horizon.
It appears AAAS got stung after publishing this deeply flawed study.
Anthony Watts (AWatts@heartland.orgis senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. He is a former broadcast meteorologist and operates the world’s most-viewed climate website, He is also a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Earth to Climate Alarmists: Warming Is Good - By Jeffrey Folks

It's cold tonight, and I sit at my desk, wishing it were warmer.  Even with central heat and air, winter is a difficult time.  My sinuses are inflamed, my knuckles are dry and red, and my joints are sore with the cold.  Every year I dread it more.  And now environmentalists like Jeff Bezos want to make it colder.
It's no accident that Shakespeare wrote of "the winter of our discontent" (Richard III) and of "the icy fang / And churlish chiding of the winter's wind" (As You Like It).  Shakespeare, who lived through some of the coldest decades of the Little Ice Age, found nothing to like about winter.  Nor did Dickens, who wrote often of "the winter of despair," or, in a line about the short days of winter that applies to today's liberals, "Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it."  Turn off the lights — you're burning too much fossil fuel!
The fact is that cold is more damaging than heat.  Long, cold winters followed by cold, damp springs and summers diminish crop yields, leading to global hunger.  If the Earth were a few degrees warmer, that heat would expand corn and wheat belts to the north.  In terms of global food security, it is cold we should fear, not heat.
In the Little Ice Age, roughly from the 14th through the mid-19th century, global cooling limited food production, resulting in widespread hunger, disease, and economic stagnation.  In northern Europe, for instance, population growth was stagnant until the 19th century, and for most people, there was little improvement in daily life until after 1800.  In Britain, for example, population has soared from10 million in 1800 to over 66 million today.  That would not have been possible in a period of cooler temperatures.
Globally, 5.4 million die each year from cold-related deaths, while only 311,000 deaths are heat related.  Just in the U.S., on average, 1,330 die from the cold each year, and snow and ice cause over 150,000 traffic accidents annually.  Just as a matter of human comfort, heat is preferable to cold.  There is a reason why tens of millions of retirees have moved to Florida and Arizona.  No one retires in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. 
There are many other benefits to warming.  Some 40% of the U.S. corn crop is now used to produce clean-burning ethanol — larger crops would support even greater use of ethanol and contribute to U.S. energy independence.  Warming would also further open the Northwest Passage for freighters, thus cutting two weeks off the time it takes to transport goods between Asia and eastern Canada, and cutting fuel use as well (though most arctic traffic will continue to pass through Russia's Northern Sea Route).
It would be wonderful if humans actually did have the power to raise global temperatures.  As it is, that power is limited.  For millennia, global temperatures have risen and fallen based on natural cycles resulting from the shifting of the Earth's axis and other natural forces.  These forces created the Great Ice Age and the Little Ice Age, periods that were followed by periods of warming, and that cycle of alternating warming and cooling has been taking place throughout the Earth's history.  We are fortunate to live in a period of warming, however slight that has been.  The danger is that we may slip back into another extended period of cold.
This is not just a remote possibility.  The winter of 2017–18 was unusually cold and long, resulting in late planting and reduced crop yields in the temperate regions.  And according to scientists at NASA's Langley Research Center, thenext 20 years may see a repeat of 2017–18 or worse.  That is because we are entering a period of extended solar minima in which the Earth's temperature declines as a result of lower sunspot activity.  Don't donate your parkas to Goodwill just yet, and prepare to eat less salad.  If temperatures drop even to a fraction of what happened during the Little Ice Age, Florida and California will experience extreme cold — with damage to winter crops like lettuce and tomato. 
Environmentalists believe that higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere contribute to warming, but CO2, in and of itself, is hardly a bad thing.  It is common knowledge that plant growth is increased in the presence of higher levels of CO2.  Plant life on Earth has increased by 14% in the last 30 years as a result of increased CO2 levels and slightly higher temperatures.  Apparently, environmentalists wish to reduce plant life on earth, including staple crops.  If crop yields had not increased during the past 30 years, millions of human beings would have suffered from hunger.  Is it the intention of the environmental movement to reduce crop yields?
If humans could control the Earth's climate, it would be good to raise temperatures as an offset to future periods of cooling already predicted by climate scientists.  Unfortunately, there seems to be no compelling evidence that human activity can alter temperatures to anything beyond a fraction of a degree, if that.
What we can do is to prepare for whatever comes our way, but to do that, we must be prosperous.  At an estimated cost of between $51 and $93 trillion over ten years, the Green New Deal will destroy wealth in the U.S. and make it impossible to defend against natural variations in the climate.  Other schemes, such as the Paris Climate Agreement, would add many billions more to the cost.  There must have been plenty of cave men during the Great Ice Age who wished they had central heating.  If we avoid spending on costly environmental boondoggles, we will have the funds to live safely and comfortably no matter what happens.
Periods of global warming and cooling are inevitable.  This time around, human beings may be able to cope with it.  Unlike those who suffered through the Little Ice Age and the period of warming that followed it, modern humans possess the resources to survive whatever nature throws at us — that is, if we don't squander those resources on misguided schemes like the Green New Deal.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination: Conservative Values in American Literature from Poe to O'Connor to Haruf (2011).

Math Anxiety Writ Large - By Mike Razar

Some years ago, the phrase “math anxiety” became popular to describe the difficulty many students had with learning elementary math skills. I haven’t heard it much lately. Maybe because I am no longer in the “ed biz” or maybe because the public discourse has become dominated by politics.  But the issue has not gone away. Indeed, I will argue that it is, and has always been, a serious problem for adults -- especially for the adults who govern us and who run the news media.
Sixty years ago, Cambridge scholar and physicist Charles Percy Snow delivered an influential lecture entitled “The Two Cultures,” which posited that intellectuals are divided into two distinct camps, Science and non-Science. There is some overlap, but it is nearly all by scientists who love music or literature, not by poets who love algebra.
A popular acronym these days is STEM, shorthand for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. It is generally thought that students who successfully major in these subjects are practically guaranteed decent jobs while those who choose the other culture may face a more challenging future. The problem is that most students are not capable of being successful STEM majors in college because of inadequate math skills. No doubt some of this is due to innate ability, but a large part is due to poor high school math education. It is especially true for girls. Even with all the great efforts of the last few decades, girls seem to get a pass on doing well in math.
Do you think I am exaggerating?  I recently saw an episode of Fox News’ “Outnumbered” (you know -- Four smart women in tight dresses on a couch with “one lucky guy” in the middle). They were discussing the college admission scandals and the role of the SAT exam.  The women admitted to having had some difficulty with the math portion of the SAT. Some even went to “SAT camp.” It is funny (to me) that they didn’t complain about learning obscure vocabulary or understanding challenging reading selections.  I remember hearing on another program Megyn Kelly bragging about failing ninth grade algebra twice before finally passing it and noting that it hadn’t held back or even hampered her career. You rarely hear a man being proud of that.  So the cultural divide persists between the genders despite enormous efforts to erase it. This is a sad fact.
I hope you don’t think I am giving men a pass. Men in the public arena are just as bad. They just don’t admit it. The most obvious place is in debates over taxes and spending. Now this does not require college math, nor even high school math. It barely requires any middle school math. It just requires agreed upon numbers and rules. Yet it is a disaster. Just the presence of lots of large numbers seems to drive people crazy. Of course, political agendas play a huge role too, but the numbers help hide that.
Being conservative myself, I see every leftwing proposal as mathematically dishonest but I won’t even bother with the obvious examples. Rather, let me describe one of the things that drives me to distraction by even my favorite pundits.  That is the tendency to use ridiculous percentage estimates to make some point. In recent days we have seen the upper echelons of the FBI and the Justice Department disgraced by their corrupt behavior. But the critics nearly always qualify that by exculpating some group they call the “rank and file.” Now I am a trust-but-verify kind of guy. I have no evidence of corruption other than what has been uncovered publically so far. But it strikes me as unlikely that an organization which is rotten at the top is pure at the bottom. So I might guess that 90% of the FBI was honest, maybe 96%. Or maybe only 50%. I just don’t know. I have no hard evidence. But conservative pundits like Sean Hannity are sure. They place the number at 99.99%.  Do they know that means that only one in 10,000 is bad? Or did they miss that semester in middle school? There are around 40,000 FBI employees. Do they know that means no more than 4 could be bad? Am I being too pedantic? Maybe, but every time sloppy math pollutes the public discourse it weakens our ability to have a rational discussion.
Nowhere is this situation more obvious than in the current scandal in the “intelligence community.”  The President is plagued with seemingly open rebellion by some significant number of supposedly nonpartisan CIA and other intelligence agents who are really partisan hacks. Yes, I am not seeking public office so I can call them what they are. I don’t have a clue if they represent 10% or 90% of the community. If you are a Democrat, you think they are patriotic whistleblowers. But if you are a conservative who has not yet been brainwashed, then you know they are traitors. Who is right? The last time we were this divided it took a civil war to sort things out.
What is the connection of the previous paragraph to the math issue? As with the FBI and DOJ, the question is what percent of the CIA owes more loyalty to the Deep State and the Democrats rather than the America and its Constitution? Again, conservatives like to pretend that the problem is confined to a few senior appointed officials, while the “rank and file” career agents -- almost always described as 99% or more -- are loyal patriots. Would that it were so, but no evidence is ever offered. The same is true of the State Department, particularly the diplomatic corps, and the rest of the permanent federal establishment.
Do you need more examples?  The debate among Democrats over the cost of their various boondoggles is mathematically pathetic. How about prison guards? There is hardly a prison in the nation where drugs and weapons are not routinely available to the inmates. Yet guards are rarely charged with a crime. How can that be possible?
I hope I have at least convinced you that the folly of claiming 99% with little or no evidence, while well intentioned, has the effect of minimizing a danger that all conservatives should be aware of. I wish I could offer a simple solution but I don’t have one. I am quite sure it will at least require that patriotic conservative Americans stop deluding themselves with bad middle school math.

Russia, Democrats, and the Death of Logic - Fletch Daniels

The media's attempt, bolstered by some in the intelligence community, to spin the lie that Russia wants Donald Trump re-elected shows their utter contempt for the intelligence of Americans.
Simple logic and a cursory understanding of history, economics, and political philosophy punctuate the absurdity of their statements.
It is relatively easy to surmise the kind of leader whom Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping would love to see leading America.
That leader would be weak, show little interest in a militarily strong America or its allies, and implement policies that would weaken America and American influence.  That leader would be skeptical of capitalism and would be advocating the dismemberment of the U.S. energy sector, since this would significantly boost Russia's economic prospects and global influence while crippling America.  That leader would propose obscene levels of government spending to bury the country under a mountain of debt.  He would be all in on open borders.  He would be groovy with unfair trade agreements and would seek to tie America's hands behind its back with ineffective international treaties and agreements.  That leader would be a committed globalist inclined to see America as the problem.  He might even own a flexible red plastic reset button.
Notably, there are candidates aplenty in the race who check the right boxes, and none of them is named Trump.  Anyone who is telling you Russia wants Trump to be re-elected is telling the big lie, one that is so absurd that only a university-educated fool would believe it.  It also demonstrates that the media and their fellow Democrat travelers are convinced that Americans really are a special kind of stupid.
They have reason to believe this since they have been prepping the battlefield with and for their lies for decades.  Considering that Democrats guzzled down Russia, Russia, Russia like the last drop of water in a desert of despair, their designated liars have some reason to believe that it will work again.
This is also why Hillary Clinton saw no problem in accusing Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein, along with Donald Trump, of being Russian agents.  She knows that this is absurd but thinks her fellow Americans are stupid enough to lap up her smug vomit.  In a saner world, these accusations would have marked the last time she was ever allowed to show her face in public.
Even the "revelation" that the Russians are pulling for Bernie Sanders in the primary is offered in a way that defies logic, while containing a supersized escape hatch.  The argument is that the Russians want Bernie Sanders to be nominated, not because he is a Marxist madman threatening to burn down the U.S. system, but because he would be the easiest opponent for Trump to beat since these fictitious Russians want Trump to stay in office.  This conveniently allows its proponents to offer full support to Sanders in the increasingly likely event he is the candidate.
One of my favorite minor fictional characters is Professor Digory Kirke, who was breathed onto the page by the great C.S. Lewis in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Kirke, who was the boyhood hero in The Magician's Nephew, is now a wise, old, and cantankerous professor.  Whenever he interacts with the Pevensie children, he constantly chides them for not using logic.  He laments that logic is no longer taught in school and questions the value of what the children are learning.
Written in 1950, Kirke is a prophetic character who is likely representative of Lewis himself, since he was also a profoundly logical professor.
Lewis was clearly already concerned about the breakdown of logic and reasoning in schools and its effect on the next generation.  We are now almost seventy years beyond when Kirke appeared on the page.  Some of the philosophies that would later wreck academia were being birthed around that time.
We used to say people went to college to learn how to think.  Today, that has been inverted.  Students go to college to learn how to not to think for themselves.  Teaching that leads to clear and logical thinking has been replaced by concepts that are its antithesis, such as intersectionality, Marxism, deconstructionism, humanism, queer theory, and social justice theory.
One of the most important steps in preparing a society to accept the kind of contradictions George Orwell wrote about in 1984 is to short-circuit critical thinking and to prepare a pliant and aggrieved population to embrace the lies.  The ideal citizen when the corrupt "elites" are trying to transform society into a hellish Marxist landscape is the one who is ignorant and lacks an understanding of history, political science, ethics, philosophy, economics, literature, science, and mathematics, among other disciplines.
The schools and universities are dutifully doing their part.  The great books and concepts of the past have been replaced by the foolish theories of today.
It's a tragedy when kids go to college to receive an education but instead are stripped of their moral bearings, filled with nonsense, and returned to society as something less than when they entered, all for the basement bargain price of $250,000 or more.  And then the same cultural arsonists who irrevocably damaged these students demand that we cancel their debt.
The Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, saw this age coming.  He wrote, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron" (1 Tim. 4:1–2).  The left is a refuge of hypocritical liars and projectionists operating under the vilest of influences.  Within their perverse worldview, it makes perfect sense for a multi-millionaire who collects houses the way some people collect sports cards to preach Marxism while demanding the end of billionaires.  It is perfectly acceptable for virulently racist columnists who note that "it's kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men" to lecture Americans from liberalism's flagship New York Times.
We don't need committees or Secret Squirrel CIA officers to study and tell Americans who foreign powers would like to see elected in America. Any thinking person can deduce exactly whom China, Russia, and Iran want to see elected, although Qassem Soleimani could not be reached for comment.  The last type of person any of them desires is an American president set on strengthening America's economy and influence.  China, in particular, is eager to see a new resident move in to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
These countries will certainly try to interfere in our election.  That's what hostile foreign powers do.  But that interference will be aimed at assisting in the election of any of the remaining stable of Democrats, any of whom would be much more compliant and supportive of their interests.  Anyone arguing otherwise is either a liar or a fool.
If Russia, or any other country, drops intelligence breadcrumbs that indicate that it is trying to help Trump, it is with the knowledge that the information will be weaponized by both the bureaucracy and the Democrats to hurt him.  It is a mistake to assume that our geopolitical adversaries aren't devious or that they are stupid.  They're not.  They are more than capable of employing reverse psychology.
Russian efforts at disruption and division attempted the last time succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, but only because the Russians had such eager allies in America.  The media-Democrat blabocracy have enjoyed their role as willing accomplices to America's enemies and will remain so for the foreseeable future, counting on the blindness and illogic they have cultivated to aid their efforts.
Fletch Daniels can be found on Twitter at @fletchdaniels.