Monday, September 28, 2015
With Pope Championing Environment and Scientists Supporting Capitalism Who’s Right? When?
Climate Change is one of many issues that Pope Francis has been coming out in favor of reform that is much more progressive than the political establishment. A close review of may indicate that there is an enormous amount of research to indicate that he is calling for the best interest of the majority of the public on these issues which have been the highest profile in the past couple of weeks.
However religious leaders have a long history of using appeals to emotions to convince the public to support many positions that aren't in their best interests, and at times this has included Pope Francis.
The reason why we have so many problems is because a shocking percentage of the public is taught from birth to believe what they're told from their leaders and one time after another those leaders have been betraying them. Now that Pope Francis is supporting a lot of progressive issues that stand up to scrutiny he should receive as much support as possible to get as much progress as possible with the attention that it is receiving; however those that have been working for a long time to inform the public about many of these issues should receive as much if not much more credit than he does.
And caution should be taken to avoid blindly supporting him because of the hype surrounding his visit. It shouldn't be forgotten that this is the same Church that obtained it's power through centuries of supporting tyrants and intimidating and torturing those that chose not to believe what they're told by the Church, most notably during the Inquisitions and Crusades. It wasn't that long ago that there were reports about questions that remain over his role during Argentina's dictatorship when the Church backed the military government that was involved in many of the activities he is now condemning.
While most progressives seem to agree with the Pope's support for action against pollution and Climate Change Steven Pinker, who is often considered a liberal academic, claims "Despite hype, Pope is NOT helping w climate change: Disavows the best solution." He cites a New York Times article which may seem to make sense at first but by the end it is clear that it supports market based solutions like Cap and trade that have already been tried and proven to be a disaster.
Steven Pinker also tweeted about supporting Larry Summers on The importance of global health investment; this is the same Larry Summers that once wrote a memo that said that we should export pollution. This was followed by an enormous controversy at the time and one of his defenders said he was just trying to stir up debate and didn't actually mean to do it. This might make sense if they followed up by doing what they could to prevent this policy; but instead they let the memo fade down the memory hole while Summers pursued policies that did what the memo recommended, indicating that he really meant it. His policies on health haven't been any better, yet academics like Pinker continue supporting him while being portrayed as progressive.
Some of Steven Pinker's own work is about crime including "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined" where he reviews the history of violence and indicates that it has been declining contrary to common beliefs. this is almost certainly true although many of his statistics probably has a high margin of error; however he does a poor job considering they leading root causes of this reduction, including child abuse escalating to more violence later in life, which is a major contributing cause, but he doesn't review it much until the second half of the book and avoids or downplays any contributing causes that might implicate some of the most powerful people in the establishment. A recent tweet of his, US homicide, after 23-yr decline, will likely increase in 2015 because of post-Ferguson police handicapping, continues this pattern where he ignores root causes of crime when it challenges those with the most political power, in this case it is the police.
The article cited misrepresents the threat to police as I previously pointed out in The threat to police is greatly exaggerated; and both his book and this article avoids much discussion, or downplays, the root causes of crime including an economic system that is shipping jobs overseas and providing selective protection from police to those with the most political power. The article claims, "The irony is that the historic reduction of U.S. crime since the 1990s was predicated on police singling out African-Americans—for protection," implying that the police are responsible for the reduction in violence and the anti-police rhetoric is preventing them from doing their job; however people in minority areas know how they've been treated by the police and they're also aware of the many police shootings of minorities including many where that involve excessive force or even targeting the wrong people. He also avoids discussing how the dominant political powers are selling weapons all over the world that have maintained a permanent state of war preventing violence from decreasing even more.
This isn't a right wing academic that is easy to recognize as catering to corporate interests; Steven Pinker has been portrayed as one of the more liberal academics, including when he favored allowing his class notes to be used on line for free according to a six year old Boston Globe article FreeHarvardEducation.com Does anyone own what universities teach? (12/13/2009) Pinker is portrayed as being liberal, in this article for allowing his noted to be shared but he doesn't discuss the possibility of financing "Intellectual Property" through other means, nor does anyone else in the traditional establishment.
The same goes for many other issues including preventing war, violence in the streets, environmental damage or many other issues. The people and ideas presented by the political establishment tend to be very limited in many ways which a lot of people might not recognize. This doesn't mean that there aren't better ideas or research about many of these subjects, but the traditional media simply refuses to cover them, and the political establishment doesn't take them into consideration when making policies.
Alternative media outlets and political activists have been covering some much better research for years if not decades, but the media simply ignores them or portrays them as rabble; so unless people seek out alternative media outlets they might not know what these ideas are. These organizations also put an enormous amount of pressure on the political establishment to address these issues better, but get little if any credit, even though they do a better job researching or reporting them.
Now that the Pope is speaking out on these issues he's getting much more attention and might be portrayed as the leader that enabled action to take place, assuming the political establishment actually does start addressing some of these issues in a more effective manner.
On any given subject there is almost certainly a much better source than either the Pope or academics like Steven Pinker, who is just one of many watered down academics given more coverage than the better researchers. Jonathan Kozol, did a better job reporting on economic inequality; Alice Miller Philip Greven and others did a better job reporting on how violence at an early age escalates to more violence later; Naomi Klein and 350.org did a much better job than either of them on environmental solutions and there are plenty of peace activists that did a much better job reporting on how the dominant countries are contributing to violence in third world countries with their interference and dealing with dictators, including selling them arms that are routinely turned against us.
The Pope and many academics, on the other hand are much slower to speak out and when they do they have a tendency to down play things and mix it with complements that might not be earned for those with power. This has the result of helping to prop up the current power structure even when it isn't doing a good job at anything.
A large percentage of the public has been indoctrinated to believe that they should blindly follow their religious leaders like cult leaders, although not all of his supporters do this. Some of the supporters of the Pope have said they support him because of his positions on the issues, which implies that they might be thinking the issues through and sorting out which ones to support on their own regardless of what the Pope supports. When this happens this is not what I would call cult thinking. However, some of his other supporter make claims like, "this shows that God cares for Us," which can easily be reviewed for accuracy. If God does exist and has been working through the Church for thousands of years as religious people believe then this would be the same God that inspired the Church during the Crusades and Inquisitions when they propped up a lot of tyrants and were responsible for torturing of thousands if not millions of innocent people. It is also the Same God that inspired the Church when it supported the Argentine Junta while the Pope was a leading religious figure in that country. If this god does exist and didn't intend for these things to happen he could have easily communicated and let people know about the misunderstanding, yet he didn't clearly implying that he doesn't exist or he has other intentions that aren't nearly as benevolent as religious people believe.
Followers that believe that this "God" is benevolent without being willing to review evidence that clearly refutes their beliefs may be cult followers and all the hype that is surrounding the Pope can help to indoctrinate them. It is possible to get them to participate in productive solutions while being pointed in the right direction; but if cult leaders start pointing cult followers in the wrong direction they'll follow without question. Steven Pinker and other people from the so-called "New Atheist movement" do a much better job exposing this than most religious people but they often have other biases that don't typically involve the best interests of the majority.
The Bible warns of false prophets; however it doesn't teach people to defend against this by learning how to think rationally and recognize them before being led astray, since the false prophets look and act the same as the ones that are supposedly not false prophets.
Also the progressive issues against pollution, poverty and war among other things isn't being advanced much by the enormous amounts of hype surrounding his visit unless it is followed up by action. The security and other activities surrounding his visit costs millions of dollars and these expenses don't go to advance his causes. He's getting an enormous amount of credit for a very small amount of action to advance his causes, like feeding the poor when he visits a homeless shelter. Many people have been doing a much better job at that for a long time but they don't get nearly as much credit.
This hype does far more to control who gets the credit for reform activities than it does for the reforms themselves; and the people doing the research without much attention from the commercial media or the political establishment are doing far more to educate the public; and their work is more likely to stand up to scrutiny.
The Pope's visit could help inspire some major reforms which are beneficial to the majority but if they don't include better efforts to educate the public about how to sort through the details and recognize when they're being mislead by their leaders it could only be temporary and the same people that control the ideas people are able to consider will still be in power.
In the long run it will be more important to educate more people about how to represent themselves and stop worshiping celebrities, whether it is religious people sport figures or politicians; otherwise we might implement enough solutions to protect the interests of the elites without doing more than they have to for the poor to keep them complacent.
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"In the face of the emergencies of human-induced climate change, social exclusion, and extreme poverty, we join together to declare that: Human induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity." Pope Francis
Edit since this was posted Bernie Sanders has been invited to the Vatican to speak. This is not intended to be a complete endorsement from either side and the invitation didn't come from the Pope as some people initially implied. However they do have a lot of common ground when it comes to poverty and Capitalist corruption.
Bernie Sanders Says He Met With Pope Francis 04/16/2016 and apparently they discussed common ground about addressing poverty and climate change. In interviews either before or after Bernie Sanders has indicated other things that they disagree on including gay marriage and abortion.