ACM Comment: The retreat of reason

Astrology and pseudo-science rules

I have been thoroughly amazed at the response to the Japanese earthquake from both the public and the media, and the similarities between the reactions to that event and the hysteria surrounding climate change. I believe that what we are witnessing is a wholesale abandonment of rational thought and a retreat into astrology and pseudo-scientific, apocalyptic sooth-saying. It is as if the Enlightenment, and the triumph of rational thought and scientific enquiry over mythology and witchcraft, never happened.

Whenever there is a natural disaster, people seem to rush to blame Earth gods for “punishing humanity” for its sins against the planet, rather than analysing the situation rationally, and understanding that we live on a dynamic and dangerous planet, comprising tectonic plates moving relative to one another, resulting in earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

First came the earthquake, then the tsunami and now there’s a storm of speculation, myth and rumour.

If you believe everything you hear or read, the natural disaster in Japan is linked to climate change and was a “sign from nature”, while some even believe it’s a sign of the beginning of the end of the world.

Social networking sites are riddled with theories that the earthquake was a prophecy written in the gospel of Luke and people should prepare for “the end”.

Some are linking the September 11 terrorist attacks to the Haiti earthquake on January 11 last year to the latest disaster on March 11.

On 2UE talkback radio yesterday morning, callers were also talking about apocalypse theories.

“[There will be] thunderbolts like you’ve never heard and the whole earth will shake,” one caller said.

“19th of March, this month, is the one we have look out for.”

We are rapidly regressing into a frightening new Dark Age, an age of ignorance, scientific illiteracy, witchcraft and superstition, when such nonsense should have remained firmly in the dustbin of history. It is the same forces that drive the notion of Gaia – Earth as an organism – with enough “consciousness” to punish humanity for its wickedness. Even the theologians can see through such ridiculous notions:

Canon Scott Cowdell, an associate professor of theology at Charles Sturt University, said people always panicked after large scale disasters, but such theories did not bring out the best in people.

“I think people in the popular imagination associate God with stability and order and predictability and control and whenever those things are lost, people panic that the world’s coming to an end,” he said.

“The best instincts of Christians are not to associate God with all those things.

“Christians, at their best, don’t go looking for signs in history like this.

“Even in the gospels Jesus warned about it, he said there’d be wars and rumours of wars and all sorts of signs, but they’re not to be gone after.

“They’re not to be obsessed about.”

“There really are just things that happen.” (source)

Precisely, they are just things that happen. Earthquakes and tsunamis are what the earth does, and has done for billions of years. And the arrogance that we have to think that somehow we caused it, is utterly breathtaking.

So given the ludicrous hysteria that has accompanied the Japanese tragedy, is it any wonder that we rush to blame ourselves for climate change, despite the fact that climate has likewise changed for billions of years without humanity’s help. There seems to be this bizarre psychological and quasi-religious urge to self-flagellate and take responsibility for any disaster that befalls us, viewing it as a punishment from nature, and that we must atone for our sins by sacrificing our standards of living with carbon taxes – the modern equivalent of purchasing indulgences from the Catholic Church.

What this demonstrates, more than anything, is a horrifying ignorance in the general population about the nature and history of the planet we live on, its workings and place in the solar system, and indeed the solar system’s place in the universe as a whole. One must therefore conclude that there has been a staggering failure of our educational system to properly equip the population with the necessary scientific knowledge and tools to understand even the most basic natural phenomena. Without any concept of our insignificant role in the workings of the cosmos, our hubris grows unchecked, to the point where we believe that we can significantly influence the climate or the geology of the planet.

Benjamin Franklin must be turning in his grave.


  1. Col of Blackburn says:

    I have just finished reading Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. I believe it should be required reading in our Secondary Schools

  2. Regrettably – all true. Even more regrettably, it’s what people think they want at this point in time. When you are hearing this from both your alleged government and your alleged mainstream media, you know it’s beyond all hope. And until the punters have had the chance to experience it and realise that it’s not what they wanted after all, there is of course nothing to be done. But of course by then it will be all too late.

    “We are rapidly regressing into a frightening new Dark Age.”
    True. Every passing day, I’m more inclined to believe that the best strategy is to stop pissing into the wind, to begin making some prudent preparations for the coming Dark Age, and to keep one’s head down.

    I fear the battle over this Gaia nonsense is probably lost – it’s just not that easy to fix stupid. If you follow Niall Ferguson at all, he makes the point that when empires collapse, they collapse quickly, and he has no doubt that we are teetering on the brink of economic collapse. You don’t have to be Einstein to realise that deliberately setting out to flatten an economy is not going to play well in these overall economic circumstances. A generation of dumbing people down may well be about to enter its end game.

    The only comfort I take from this is that when it eventually ends and people realise just how comprehensively they have been dudded, they will want to exact a commensurate retribution. I look forward to the day when the key players get impaled on wooden pikes, burned at the stake, and left for the birds to pick over their worthless remains. The alarmists clearly have no sense of history. If they did, they would realise that this is how Dark Ages play out.

  3. The Loaded Dog says:

    A couple of quotes from the late great Michael Crichton to add to your excellent opinion piece as follows:-

    I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.

    He states further:-

    I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can’t be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people—the best people, the most enlightened people—do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.

    and further still:-

    Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

    There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

    Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday—these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don’t want to talk anybody out of them, as I don’t want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don’t want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can’t talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.

    And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren’t necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It’s about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.

    1 – For some reason humans seem to be hardwired to be religious and believe in a god. (many Christians will assert they can tell us why that is)

    2 – A recent manifestation of this “hardwiring” is seen in blind faith in what is thought of to be infallible science….and environmentalism.

    For those interested, the link is here:-

    • The Loaded Dog says:

      Oh dear, this is worse than I thought.

      From the Sydney Morning Herald we have JuLiar telling us we have to have…….

      wait for it………


      “Carbon tax needs faith says Gillard”

      Prime Minister Julia Gillard has urged Australians to have the faith to implement “momentous” change by putting a price on carbon.

      but wait, there’s more. St Gillard testifies further:-

      “(Opposition Leader Tony) Abbott wants us to believe that Australians are incapable of such change – I don’t share his basic lack of faith in the Australian people,” she said.

      So now they’re coming right out with the “F” word….

    • Very interesting writing. I always liked Michael Crichton’s novels – in fact it was “State of Fear” which first started me on the path of enlightenment re the loathsome climate change scam.

      However, I believe that the climate change religion and indeed environmentalism will eventually fade into insignificance. I have a attached a link below to an article first written in 1972, though still relevant. This article talks about the five phases of the issue attention cycle. And climate change has followed these phases exactly – I think we are now at the end of phase 4 about to enter phase 5.

      Remember how Esperanto was going to solve all the world’s problems?

      • The Loaded Dog says:

        Very interesting link, and I hope you are right on this religion being between phase 4 and 5. It certainly could be the case.

        The wild card however is the huge vested financial interest in the form of lunatic governments backed up by a compliant and lazy media pushing to keep the issue at phase 2 “Alarmed discovery and euphoric enthusiasm”

  4. Under normal circumstances, I’d be inclined to agree with this analysis.
    But for two things.

    The first is the pending economic collapse that Niall Ferguson (amongst others) talks about. If he is correct (and there is little reason to doubt his logic), then we are in for some very tough times – tough times that will render these 5 steps absolutely irrelevant, as a completely different paradigm will apply.

    The second issue is the collapse of American leadership. Under normal circumstances, it would be reasonable to expect the economic and industrial muscle of America to pull us out of the shit created in Point #1, above. However, never in America’s history has she had the misfortune to languish under such a galactically incompetent, reckless, and divisive President – at such a critical juncture – as is currently the case. What we laughingly refer to as American economic policy has been making the problem far worse, and as a result, America has been sliding deeper into the abyss during the last few years.

    When the real Global Financial Crisis hits, and both America and China fall over economically, the wherewithal to move to Phase 5 will evaporate, followed by a descent into chaos.

    • Peter A. says:

      I can name at least two presidents who were far more ‘galactically incompetent, reckless and divisive’ – Ronnie ‘Star Wars’ Ray-Gun, and George [snip] Bush.

      • Wandering dangerously close to the line, Peter… Contribute to the debate by all means, but mindless trolling will be ruthlessly moderated out.

        • Peter A. says:

          Okay, I got the message, but Eloi is plain wrong here.

        • The Loaded Dog says:

          but Eloi is plain wrong here.

          No he’s not..

          (An illustration above of an advanced and complex debate in the classical “Peter A” style)

  5. Les Kovari says:

    What, no mention of Nostradamus? My, my.

    • The Loaded Dog says:

      Who needs Nostradamus when you’ve got Tim Flannery or Al Gore?

    • I would have thought that Nostradamus was well covered in the second paragraph:

      “I believe that what we are witnessing is a wholesale abandonment of rational thought and a retreat into astrology and pseudo-scientific, apocalyptic sooth-saying.”

      Climate alarmists are the modern-day Nostradamus equivalents, with their 100-year-plus predictions of thermal armageddon. They are the complete antithesis of rational thought.

  6. Les Kovari says:

    The earthquake and tsunami in Japan is truly tragic…………but so was Pearl Harbour, The Burma railway, life in Chengi prison, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the whole Pacific War. Just think about it.

  7. I live in Canada and we have come close to ruinous carbon taxes. We have the second coldest climate on earth but yet the left wants to tax these necessities of life for us. WE need affordable and pentiful energy for survival. Yet some politicians want to tax us into oblivian. What i cannot figure out for the life of me is i thought one of the duties of govt. was to look out for the poor, sick and elderly in the pop. but these taxes will really hammer these people. Like i say i am at a loss as to why this is going on when the vulnerable in society will be most effected. Seems the so called environmentals and some politicians dont care, they just dont care!

    • The Loaded Dog says:

      Seems the so called environmentals and some politicians dont care, they just dont care!

      Well apparently they “care” for Gaia, and themselves…..but that’s about it….

  8. Simon, while acknowledging your defence of The Australian as a moderate voice in the mainstream media, to my mind its editorials are as irresponsible as those of any other tabloids in relentlessly supporting the climate madness.

    Its editorials to-day, are no exception. Whoever writes them may have a change of heart if persuaded that Garnaut is an agenda-driven disgrace and that the dogged use of “carbon” instead of “carbon dioxide” betrays ignorance at the most elementary level. Furthermore, humbug like “giving the planet the benefit of the doubt” to support an economy-wrecking insurance against fictional catastrophe, is an inanity equally applicable to an invasion by intergalactic aliens.

  9. Uhavitbad? says:

    I don’t believe that,
    “We are rapidly regressing into a frightening new Dark Age, an age of ignorance, scientific illiteracy, witchcraft and superstition.”
    We have always lived in a dark age, communication wise.
    I argue that, it’s websites like yours, which prove your viewpoint wrong.
    Keep up the hypocrisy!

    • The Loaded Dog says:

      You don’t “believe” that Uhavitbad but instead are heeding the “call to faith” of your illustrious leader JuLiar Gillard aren’t you?

      That’s about all that needs to be said I suspect…

      See ya!


  1. […] planned a post on the fearful neo-paganism on display since the tragic events in Japan, but Simon nailed it: Whenever there is a natural disaster, people seem to rush to blame Earth gods for “punishing […]

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