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Thanks, jamesp - nice one!

Mar 15, 2013 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Thanks for the correction. Every time I comment about France I make a silly mistake. I also got the name of the book wrong. It’s “Le Fou et le Prolétaire”.

Mar 15, 2013 at 5:58 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers


That's a wonderful document - I shall treasure it.

There is, I think, a parallel with our climate alarmist friends. They have been living in their own world (I initially wrote "little world" but thought better of it - it may be a closed world, but it's not little) with their own little certainties (and their own silly jargon) for many years. But now - really for the first time - they're facing reality: that their "solutions" don't actually work. And they don't have the tools (an open mind, familiarity with uncertainty, willingness to learn, etc.) that would enable them to cope with that.

It would be amusing if it weren't so serious.

I started my professional life as a commercial lawyer working in an engineering context. I quickly learned that, to get things done, both I and the engineers had to abandon our "trade" jargon. It made me a better lawyer. And I think it made them better engineers. Although, to be fair, they didn't use much jargon: as CM says, engineers work in a commercial environment anyway.

Two observations:

1. The "one of three cases must apply" (paragraph 8) is amazingly similar to the "three possible views" I suggested in my email to NLP (see my post at 4:34 PM yesterday).

2. I particularly liked his concept of '"epistemologically challenged": a constitutional inability to adopt a reasonable way to tell the good stuff from the bad stuff'. It reminds me of my favourite New Yorker cartoon. Two precious-looking men are in an avant-garde art gallery - one is saying to the other, "I know everything about art, but I don't know what I like".

Thanks again.

Mar 15, 2013 at 5:13 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier


You are quite right in saying the people who actually run France are the graduates of the grandes écoles, but I think you may have conflated the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (the civil engineers) and the various Écoles Nationales Supérieures des Mines.

Mar 15, 2013 at 4:58 PM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

Thanks for that link, jamesp. Tres amusant! His last paragraph could help raise the morale of all who stand un-moved in the frantic tide of alarm over CO2, but who might still want to help rescue those caught up in all (for 'jungle', read 'surf')

I think that the task of outreach is left to those of us who retain some connection, however tenuous, to what we laughingly call reality. We have to go into the jungle after them and rescue what we can. Just remember to hang on to your sense of humor and don't let them intimidate you.

Except that Mother Nature and the blunderings of alarmed ones are helping keep our morale sky-high all by themselves!

Mar 15, 2013 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Funny and very true.
On the particular talent of the French for this stuff: the French sociologist Emmanuel Todd has a good explanation in his book “le Fou et le Proletariat”. (Todd is a popular TV talking head for his politically incorrect observations on society. Nobody takes any notice of his serious sociology because its jargon-free, empirically based, and testable. That’s not the French intellectual way).
Todd’s explanation is that, until the second world war, France was governed by a tiny literary élite steeped in philosophy and classical culture. Post -war reconstruction required something different, and the current élite comes from the School of Administration or the quaintly named School of Bridges and Mines rather than the Sorbonne. The literati, like the Galapagos birds in the article, retreated to the schools of literature and philosophy, occasionally emerging to appear on late night TV shows to plug their books. The result is an educated middle class with an enormous respect for the intellect (you can buy philosophy books in the local supermarket) but a total ignorance of science or economics.
None of this would matter if it wasn’t for the fact that the idiocies of academia tend to leak out into society at large. In the Greenpeace debate in which Alice Bell figured, I was struck by how many times the man from the Climate Change Committee used the terms “narrative” or “story”, as if Global Warming was a text to be analysed.

Mar 15, 2013 at 2:32 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Good article in The Times today by Mat Ridley re the Japanese development of cathrate <sp?> drilling. He gets a good kick in to the doom-mongers who keep banging on about 'peak-oil/coal/whatever fossil'.

And then, on the next page, a letter from Renewable Foundation saying how good it is for the planet that we are to have 10% bio-fuel in our petrol - no matter the cost!

Mar 15, 2013 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket


Slightly tangential, but as an engineer, I warmed to this article. It's quite old, but new to me, and written with the kind of clarity that is conspicuously absent in leftist tracts.


(The slightly dodgy-sounding handle 'Chip Morningstar' disguises an accomplished individual. He helped invent hypertext and the term 'avatar', among other things.)

Mar 15, 2013 at 1:37 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Just out on an errand and got panhandled by four twenty-sumfings dressed as EasyJet cabin crew complete with clipboards, pop-up roller blind posters and an aluminium folding "desk" attempting to chug passers-by for direct debits to WWF.

I thought WWF were above this sort of thing.... getting most of their funding behind the curtain from taxpayers?

Sadly did not have time to give them the full hairdryer treatment or "sponsor" a polar bear.

Mar 15, 2013 at 1:36 PM | Registered Commentertomo

First one to desist gets my warmest thanks.

Mar 15, 2013 at 1:19 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

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