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Lew’s New World Order

[Post updated to include the entire quote from The Atlantic which is to be the basis for the proposed research]

23 hours ago Ulli Ecker posted this on Reddit:

COVID-19 will change the world forever. But how will it change? What will the post-COVID world look like? More important, what do we want it to look like?

We cannot be sure how the future will unfold, but it takes little imagination to see that we are at a bifurcation in history, and we may spiral towards one of two radically different new states. Ed Yong—focusing on the U.S.—put it brilliantly in The Atlantic:

“Despite his many lapses, Trump’s approval rating has surged. Imagine that he succeeds in diverting blame for the crisis to China, casting it as the villain and America as the resilient hero. During the second term of his presidency, the U.S. turns further inward and pulls out of NATO and other international alliances, builds actual and figurative walls, and disinvests in other nations. As Gen C grows up, foreign plagues replace communists and terrorists as the new generational threat.

One could also envisage a future in which America learns a different lesson. A communal spirit, ironically born through social distancing, causes people to turn outward, to neighbors both foreign and domestic. The election of November 2020 becomes a repudiation of “America first” politics. The nation pivots, as it did after World War II, from isolationism to international cooperation. Buoyed by steady investments and an influx of the brightest minds, the health-care workforce surges. Gen C kids write school essays about growing up to be epidemiologists. Public health becomes the centerpiece of foreign policy. The U.S. leads a new global partnership focused on solving challenges like pandemics and climate change. In 2030, SARS-CoV-3 emerges from nowhere, and is brought to heel within a month.”

Simon Mair spelled out 4 possible futures in the Conversation that fall along the same continuum from nationalist-Darwinian to multilateral-cooperative.

In this study, we plan to present (representative) participants with two brief vignettes that instantiate those two possible extreme futures and then ask 4 questions:

a. Which outcome do you prefer?

b. Which outcome do you think is most likely to occur?

c. Which outcome do you think most other people in your country would prefer?

d. Which outcome do you think most other people around the world would prefer?

Comparing responses to a. against responses to c. and d. would allow us to detect potential pluralistic ignorance – that is, a state in which people who hold the majority opinion feel they are in the minority. This can happen if loud voices in society are overshadowing the quieter majority.

Also 23 hours ago, Professor Lewandowsky tweeted a link to what he describes as “New project being planned with @UlliEcker,” inviting collaboration and comments. The tweet is carefully phrased in the passive voice, avoiding first person pronouns, but I think we can take it that at the back of the Ulli is a Lew.

So far no-one has replied.

19 thoughts on “Lew’s New World Order

  1. “So far no-one has replied.” – I somehow doubt that will slow the “plan” down. Time for a cook to pop up.

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  2. The overwhelming impression is that a lot of the climate scientists (using the term in the very loosest sense to include pop psychologists) have realized that they are no longer relevant. Currently, no one will publish or even listen to their ravings. In the new world post lockdown, they will have to go back to being non-entities struggling to earn a living. How will their egos cope?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Chris,

    No matter hiw much we would like it, I don’s expect there to be a sgnificant change to the direction of the CACC gravy train. It may be knocked of course for a short time but I’m expecting it to get back on track soon after the panemic has run its course. CACC supporters have to much to lose to let the scare pass on without a fight.

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  4. I’ve updated the post, replacing my truncated version of the quote from Ed Yong in The Atlantic with the full two paragraphs, which are apparently to be the basis of the two “vignettes” whose popularity is to be tested in the proposed research, and adding the four survey questions. Ed Yong’s article is here:
    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/how-will-coronavirus-end/608719/
    It’s a very long, perfectly reasonable article about the lack of preparedness of the US government. The musings on two possible futures come in the very last paragraphs.

    Both the supposedly binary futures envisaged by Ed Yong and the research programme outlined by Ecker are extremely odd. I find Yong’s predictions hopelessly biassed and incoherent. What makes him think Trump might leave NATO? What’s the big deal about building walls? Obama did it, and Trump carried on. What could possibly persuade the U.S. to “disinvest in” other nations, as long as they can make profits? The second future envisaged is so starry-eyed the Democrats would throw it out if it were suggested as a campaign platform. It sounds like the scenario for a Chinese propaganda film circa 1960.

    Here we have two social scientists proposing to do opinion research, based, not on real political propositions or programmes, but on their self-composed vignettes based on a piece of speculation by an evidently politically motivated journalist, in order to discover whether people think that other people think the same thing that they think about President Trump. It’s just weird.

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  5. Peter
    They might well want the gravy train to continue but with significant economic hardship facing everyone, including the chattering classes from where they draw much of their support, who will indulge their fantasies to make everyone even poorer? Pielke Jr used to quote research on how much money people were prepared to pay to support climate change measures. The answer was basically nothing. People only wanted things done that didn’t affect them. And with the unemployment forecasts showing major retrenchment, including a lot of celebrities gone to being Starbuck staff, where will any support come from? A lot of noise will be made about dooming the planet but there will be no cash and no presence. And the media is already seeing it as yesterday’s story. Even the Granuiad has only one climate story up.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It would seem that Ulli/Lew are/is the person/people rejecting reality and seeking elaborate conjecture heavy, fact lite explanations to rationalize ignoring said reality.

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  7. Now that climate scientist finally have learned to teleconference, like other working people have for years, will they still dare to organise in the near future mass gatherings with lots of flying involved?

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  8. Speculations on likely moves by the Climate science community and their allies properly belong under Richard’s article:
    https://cliscep.com/2020/03/27/covid-19-shows-there-wont-be-global-action-on-climate-change/
    I’m more interested in the question of the improper use of social science to blatantly political ends.

    Consider Ecker’s intro:

    COVID-19 will change the world forever. But how will it change? What will the post-COVID world look like? More important, what do we want it to look like?

    Scientists enquiring into public opinion are not supposed to want anything at all. Imagine if a newspaper editor had said that, while commissioning a survey from a pollster. (Maybe they do. Maybe the world is more hopelessly corrupt than I imagine.)

    Note that the propositions to be presented to respondents are not real statements by politicians, or the kind of banalities usually served up in opinion research in batteries to establish conservatism/liberalism and the like. They’re “vignettes” – fantasies invented by the researchers, which they apparently plan to attribute to Trump and some imaginary anti-Trump candidate standing on a Pollyanna platform of love for one’s fellow men, the whole based on some throwaway remarks by a science correspondent.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. “vignettes– fantasies invented by the researchers, which they apparently plan to attribute to Trump and some imaginary anti-Trump candidate standing on a Pollyanna platform of love for one’s fellow men, the whole based on some throwaway remarks by a science correspondent.”

    Such a plot outline would be laughed at and abruptly dismissed if it were ever to be injudiciously presented for consideration, even to an ever-so-green-leaning BBC producer. Are these people real?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Imagine that Trump succeeds in diverting blame for the crisis to China, casting it as the villain and America as the resilient hero.

    I don’t think we will have to imagine that one. That one is fixed in place, and not just in Trumpland.

    If the Left want to lose every election for the foreseeable future, then defending China will do it for them. We might not all blame China, but we sure aren’t going to be interested in anyone defending them and suggesting closer links.

    Buoyed by steady investments and an influx of the brightest minds, the health-care workforce surges. Gen C kids write school essays about growing up to be epidemiologists. Public health becomes the centerpiece of foreign policy.

    There’s a phrase for this, and it’s “fighting the last war”.

    Pouring massive amounts of money into health care, and particularly speculative health care, is merely a way to reduce the productive economy. We have no idea what the next big threat might be. Maybe an asteroid on collision path. Maybe global warming. Maybe a major war. It’s unlikely to be a disease.

    The best defence against what is to come is wealth. It an economy that has both access to resources and the flexibility to adapt. It is people trained across a broad spectrum of sciences. Liberty helps too.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. That Lew is actually pushing the idea that Chinese negligence (at best) did not directly lead to this global tragedy is an amazing insight on his lack of sanity. Insinuating that president Trump, who started significant preparations for the epidemic before basically every Western nation, was somehow negligent or slow in his response is to simply ignore the facts of what happened. That Lew is in fact doing both is not at all surprising to those of who have held our noses and followed his deranged climate work.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This morning I awoke in a sweat having had a terrible nightmare. I dreamt that the country was in the grip of a deadly, highly contagious virus — and Theresa May was still in charge!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Going back to the Ulli Ecker post at Reddit, there’s just one comment from one UHahn, plus a reply from Lew. Scrolling down, five of the eight previous posts on this thread are by the same UHahn, and one is by John Cook, so it’s a small world here.

    Cook says:

    Planned study: inoculating against COVID-19 misinformation

    I’ve been developing a study into inoculating people against climate misinformation with my colleagues Emily Vraga and Sojung Kim. At the 11th hour before fielding the experiment, we’ve changed it to test inoculation against COVID-19 misinformation.

    Our experiment is testing passive vs. active inoculation. In the passive inoculation condition, we explain the fallacy in misinformation (e.g., the participant passively reads the information) while in the active inoculation condition, we instruct the participant to interact with the content – as much as is possible in an online Qualtrics survey, we try to get the participant committing the fallacy themselves.

    We’re also testing humor vs. non-humor so our experiment is a 2 x 2 design (e.g., passive non-humor, active non-humor, passive humor, active humor) plus a control condition (no inoculation or misinformation) and misinformation-only condition. The reason we’re also exploring humor is because active inoculation lends itself to gamification, which in turn lends itself to engaging, entertaining forms of interaction with players.

    I like the idea of doing a study on one subject, then changing it to an entirely different subject at the 11th hour – something Lew is expert in. Also, the idea of Cook studying humor vs. non-humor is pretty killing.
    Cook’s post attracts comments from Lew, the mysterious UHahn, and Sander van der Linden, whom we’ve met somewhere, but I can’t remember where.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks Richard. No wonder I forgot him.

    Cook in a comment to his post mentioned above,

    explains what he means by “the fallacy in misinformation:”

    “The misinformation is a ~350 word article arguing against social distancing because it infringes on individual rights. It’s kind of a mash-up of articles and quotes taken from various sources.”

    Cook’s “mash-up” is of course a political/ethical point, and so can’t be considered either true or false, and therefore can’t be considered “misinformation.” Like Lew and Ulli’s “vignettes,” it’s a position invented (or “mashed-up”) by the researchers themselves, to which they, in their quality of academic researchers, attribute a moral value (bad) and a truth value (false). Cook thinks we need “inoculating” against an opinion which some people hold on moral or political grounds. Despite the grandiose ideas of the Cook/Lew fraternity about “shaping tomorrow’s world,” they are in no position to inoculate anyone against anything, let alone against a person’s ethical beliefs. All they can do is conduct biassed research whose results they can hope to see hyped in the press, and thus brought to the attention of their political masters. Once they could rely on the Guardian and the New York Times to publicise their work. Lately they’ve been reduced to the Daily Kos and Morocco News
    https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2020/03/297804/mysterious-forces-and-mythical-creatures-in-coronavirus-conspiracy-theories/
    Sic transit… (So if you have to, please wear a mask.)

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