My favorite politically issued “talking point” has to be the “gravitas” deployment of 2000. The word “gravitas”, previously unused unless four words from the phrase “Dame Judy Dench (DBE 1988)”, was on the tips of all the well connected tongues within the blink of an eye. A pre-tingled Chris Matthews commented of G.W. Bush, “there have been questions raised about his gravitas.” Al Gore wondered if Bush lacked it. Stuart Rothenberg had ideas about how Bush could gain it. From the New York Times to The Kansas City Star, editorialists were learning the name of their papers’ theater critics for the first time as jargon inseminated jargon. What a time to be alive.
Move forward thirteen years. This one is good too. After much soul searching. polling, and test grouping, the administration has decided that those that disagree with their environmental policy shall be henceforth referred to as members of “The Flat Earth Society.” I could list the mentions, but a simple “Kerry flat Earth” or “Obama flat Earth” Google search is sufficient illustration. It has been decided by those that know how phrases resonate in the polity are of the opinion that casting “deniers” as “deniers” is insufficient. “Flat Earth” is the money phrase.
So they trumpet that “settled science” boasts 97% consensus. The tests are done. The scientific community has ruled and neanderthals like Judith Curry whose temerity puts them in opposition to the DeCaprios and Albas of hard science are akin to those that once thought the world to be a plane.
I’m left agog at the lack of self awareness. Is there in history a grander blow to the concept of scientific “consensus” than that of the flat Earth? There probably is one that escapes me. Further the lack. And lets be clear. The Earth was never flat. There is a hallowed reverence (Redundant? Not in this case.) from some quarters when the 97%, no matter how dubious that number is, is invoked. The Earth was always round. It didn’t change because some fourth century barber paused mid bleeding and said “That Eratosthenes had something.” thus putting the rounders an aught aught aught one past fifty percent versus the mesa-ns. Science is a process for discovering truth and truth is notoriously impervious to majority rule.
But there they are bragging about how many people agree with them and ridiculing everyone who disagrees with them as akin to believers of an idea that nearly everyone agreed with even though it was wrong.