Class Warfare Blog

September 13, 2017

No, You Can’t Ask Questions

Filed under: Politics,Science — Steve Ruis @ 7:35 am

S.E. Cupp was on Bill Maher’s show (Real Time) the other night in her usual role of defender of conservatism/conservative apologist. I like S.E. Cupp, she usually defends her points well, she’s articulate, witty, has a sense of humor, and stands her ground. The ground she took on that show, though, was on climate change and she picked a patch of quicksand to stand on.

Mr. Maher began the segment claiming that only 9% of Republicans in a survey had attested to the reality of man-made climate change and then pointed to the size and energy of the hurricanes in this season as a manifestation of the effects of climate change/global warming. He then asked, basically, what is wrong with those people?

Ms. Cupp was having none of it because she claimed “scientists” hadn’t drawn that conclusion yet, and, well, “she had questions.” Another guest pointed out that scientists were not quick to draw conclusions, but one climate scientist stated the case for the energy and size of hurricanes getting bigger back in 2006 and what he had predicted came true down the line. The argument is that one consequence of the atmosphere heating up is that the surface waters of the globe will also heat up and much of the energy of a hurricane comes from the heat in those waters. (FYI The total energy in Hurricane Irma alone exceeded that of 14 entire hurricane seasons (aka all hurricanes that year) for which we have satellite data.)

Ms. Cupp persisted in her attack that she was allowed to ask questions, wasn’t she?

The answer is “no,” you are not allowed to ask questions, not serious ones anyway.

If you want to play the game of science, you have to play the game, you cannot just sit on the sidelines and ask questions, certainly not questions that are ideologically motivated. If you want to ask serious questions, you have to study the topic, the science, and then ask a question based upon evidence you find. As an example, consider the following subject: the health consequences of smoking tobacco. An enterprising reporter delved into the research and discovered, to no one’s particular surprise, that the only scientific papers published claiming that tobacco use was benign was paid for by the tobacco industry (The Tobacco Institute, etc.). This is an actual basis to question that research, but just the research so sponsored. When research is paid for by a private agency, that agency controls whether or not the work gets published and later investigations showed that the tobacco companies either didn’t publish any negative results or commissioned other work to include with the negative work to make it seem a “push” when it came to health effects. So, questions by people outside of the field can be valuable if they are based upon an examination of the research.

“If you want to play the game of science, you have to play the game,
you cannot just sit on the sidelines and ask questions.”

This, by the by, is the reason we need to have a stout public presence in researches that are important to all of us. “Privatizing” scientific research would be turning over the chicken coup to the foxes, not just asking them to tend it. Plus corporations aren’t interested in doing research that doesn’t make them money.

When it comes to the political question: what do we do collectively about climate change, we all get to ask questions because we are all political actors in the game of American politics (we get to vote).

I would like to see one reporter, just one, ask the follow-up question to the next person claiming that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by scientists to get grants: “That is a serious allegation. You do have evidence to back up that claim don’t you? What is it? When will you produce this evidence?” There isn’t much difference between a corporation that stands to make money from denial of tobacco science and a politician who stands to make money (campaign contributions, jobs after “retiring” from public office, etc.) from denial of climate science. This “fraud” is a serious claim (which will be proved to be frivolous, if not spurious) and serious claims demand serious evidence.

Pony up, climate change deniers.

Pony up or shut up. Those are your options.





  1. Yeah, I saw this, too. What the ‘questioner’ is really doing isn’t asking honest questions or seeking honest answers: it’s a manipulation technique to sell doubt about the answers you might not like. That’s all it is. Dishonesty in action.


    Comment by tildeb — September 13, 2017 @ 8:26 am | Reply

    • Absolutely, the “right to ask questions” sounds like a basic human right, but they are really asking “can I ask dishonest questions?” or “can I ask uniformed questions?”

      On Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 8:26 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — September 13, 2017 @ 9:59 am | Reply

  2. Typical crap. You should see the propaganda I received from the Heartland Institute about the “unsettled” Science concerning climate change. They encourage me me to teach that garbage. I did use it. As an example of how to reject biased material based upon unfounded and questionable methods paid for by special interest groups.


    Comment by Holding The Line In Florida — September 13, 2017 @ 10:53 am | Reply

    • Since you are “on the front” as it were, I can only say Carry On! I fought the good fight in classrooms for forty years but it seems as if we are on a losing streak, of which I saw the beginnings.

      On Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 10:53 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — September 13, 2017 @ 12:59 pm | Reply

  3. Hmmm, stinks of oil money propaganda. Maybe it isn’t, but it has the aroma.

    I swear there is a quiet little room somewhere where Republicans and creationists are sent twice a year to be taught these deceptive tactics. Far too many of them engage in this behavior for it to be coincidence.

    Of course there is a room where a lot of people go every Wednesday and twice on Sunday to get their conditioning… Voluntarily!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by shelldigger — September 14, 2017 @ 6:18 am | Reply

    • It is oil and coal money, liberally applied to politicians and think tanks and, of course, It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it. (Upton Sinclair).

      On Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 6:18 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — September 14, 2017 @ 8:28 am | Reply

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