The Penitent Paris

As Paris Hilton gets ready for her short stay in jail, she increasingly is photographed carrying Jesus books. And today, she appears on my favorite blog wearing a “Faith” hoodie, and carrying Count Your Blessings, Spiritual Warrior, and some others.

Her behavior recalls Machiavelli’s advice:

…a prince ought to take care that he never lets anything slip from his lips that is not replete with the…five qualities, that he may appear to him who sees and hears him altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious. There is nothing more necessary to appear to have than this last quality, inasmuch as men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them; and in the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges by the result.

Oh when will we outgrow this infantilism? It’s scary that this pro forma “got religion” act, so frequently performed in this country, actually sways people.

Formation of a crank: A case study

Readers of the Nation are probably by now familiar with the lunatic ravings of Alexander Cockburn on global warming.

What is bizarre, is that, before he traveled down this road, he seemed able to identify other crank ideas – like 9/11 conspiracy theories, and criticized them. Further, it’s unusual to see a left-winger become a crank on global warming. The history of this mess is interesting. It started with this first post from Cockburn, in which he declares global warming a scam.

What evolves is a fascinating picture into the formation of a crank, and the change in global warming denialism from attracting only right-wing cranks, to also attracting left-wing cranks – both denigrating science to serve a political goal.

Below the fold I’ll summarize Cockburn’s arguments and how they use the denialist tactics, George Monbiot’s responses (including his amazing crank-fu!) and discuss why in the future we may start seeing global warming denialism from the left as well as the right.
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