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Sep 05, 2008


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This piece has been out for a while, but it speaks volumes. Glad you posted it.

Carla Gentry

I think the last sentence says it all. Maybe they are joiners. People like to feel included and will often join to be included before checking out what they are joining. This is a great piece to get folks thinking and thanks for posting it.

Michael W. Kruse


It may have been out for awhile but it is timeless ... especially after watching two weeks of conventions. :-)


"Joiners." I think you're right. This inclination that most of share can be used for good or bad. Diligent reflection on our actions and being community with others with opposing views are important antidotes to being mislead.


It probably helps that a pretty woman was doing the asking ...

Michael W. Kruse

LOL. Excellent point.

Jim Moss

Puh-lease! This sort of blind allegiance to a cause happens in equal portions on the right and the left.

Michael W. Kruse

I don't think the clip or I said otherwise.

Jim Moss

Look at about 1:15 or so into the video.

Penn: "Our petition woman was getting signatures left and right. Ok, mostly left."

And you can't deny that the whole piece is slamming the environmental left.

Granted, this is all tongue-in-cheek comedy - I'd hardly call Penn and Teller serious political analysts - but the implication and the bias is unmistakable. It's meant to distort and mislead just like that fake petitioner.

Michael, I read your blog because even though I usually disagree with you, I find you to be fair and responsible in your reporting. This piece is below your standards.

William Apel

Didn't a ban like this actually get to the floor of Congress a number of years ago? I knew from the title exactly what Dihydrogen Monoxide was. I seem to remember some Congressman doing the same thing.

Michael W. Kruse

Haven't heard that one. Wikipedia gives a history of this hoax dating back to 1990


There's no bias in the piece.

This particular episode of their show (which is titled Bullsh*t, BTW), was on environmentalism, and the point of this exercise was to show that a disturbingly large number of the people on the activist end of the spectrum are joiners and followers who are advocating what they're advocating for reasons other than solid science.

Their only "bias" is toward science and cold, hard facts...as they see them.

If you're at all familiar with the series, you'll know that they gore ox's cherished by both left and right, and people of all ideological persuasions are made to look foolish.

The results of their little experiment here are what they are, and I don't see anything untoward about Michael's post at all.

Jim Moss

Has Michael posted any of the work that makes the right look foolish?


Don't know if he's posted other clips from this series that do that, what's your point?

You'll find a lot of Bullsh*t clips up on YouTube that you can view if you feel that you feel the need to see more foolish right-wingers.

First, I don't think bloggers are (or should be) under any obligation to meet anyone's standard of fairness or balance other than their own.

Second, my experience is that Michael showcases interesting ideas and data without regard to whether it's pro-left or pro-right.

Jim Moss

Van - You're dreaming if you think Michael's blog "showcases interesting ideas and data without regard to whether it's pro-left or pro-right." He is a conservative, which he proudly admits to, and his writing reflects a well-informed right wing point of view.

I have no trouble with him presenting information from a conservative point of view. The problem is when it is not acknowledged as such. And while Michael himself never claimed this piece to be unbiased, you - as his #1 apologist - certainly have.

I'm guessing you think Fox News really is "fair and balanced." :)


I'm guessing you think Fox News really is "fair and balanced." :)

Of course. And, as of this past primary season, both Bill and Hillary agree with me. ;^) (truth be told, I don't consume any broadcast news anymore, Fox or otherwise).

With regard to this particular video, you're not suggesting that Penn and Teller are right wingers, are you??? They just happened to expose some embarrassing aspects of a decidedly left wing movement. That doesn't constitute bias.

Bias, IMHO, is stacking the deck in favor of one point of view. This clip doesn't do that. Please elaborate on why you think this clip is biased.

I may well be dreaming, but I think that Michael often posts articles and ideas that challenge the stereotypical views and assumptions of the right wing.

Lastly, I'm sure that I'm not worthy of the title of "#1 apologist", and I'm equally sure that Michael doesn't need one.

I just think that any suggestion that he needs to also post clips of Penn and Teller embarrassing creationists, gay marriage opponents, or pro-lifers in order to meet someone else's standards of fairness is a little silly.

Jim Moss

Here's why I think the video is biased:

First - I doubt they showed all the people whom they interviewed. They only showed the ones who were foolish enough to fall for their trick. I'd be curious to know how many people refused to sign their petition, either because they knew what dihydrogen oxide is, or because they didn't want to sign for something without more information. There is a lot of bias in the way the piece is edited just to show one type of reaction.

Second, the clip is full of innuendo that these foolish people are good representatives of the environmental movement as a whole. Sure, there are people who join up just because it is the fashionable thing to do, but I know many, many environmentalists on the left who know their stuff backwards and forwards and who have been fighting for their cause for decades.

Third is the insinuation that the leaders of the environmental movement are doing it for other political purposes. Of course, the leaders in any movement are fallible to the temptations of ego and profit - but this video makes blanket statements as if none of the environmental leaders are coming from pure and noble motivations. To be fair and unbiased, they need to stop making such gross generalizations.

Would you like some more? I could go on and on.


Jim, I'm sure you could. ;^)

I think if you watch the entire episode you'll find that they issue disclaimers to the effect that they're not claiming that EVERYONE in the environmental movement is an idiot or a Marxist.

What the did demonstrate, quite fairly, I think, is that a troubling number of people, including the highest ranking representative of the group holding the rally, simply didn't know what they were talking about.

Furthermore, the way Michael positioned the post, referencing BOTH political conventions, makes it clear that the relevant takeaway here, irrespective of one's own political views, is that it's all too easy to exploit people's non-rational needs and desires in order to further a political agenda.

Finally, the claim that the environmental movement is now heavily populated with anti-capitalist refugees from failed Marxist movements isn't controversial. A look at signage, literature for sale and even explicit policy statements from groups that are active in environmental activism demonstrates this.

And I say all this as someone who, for many years, has been very active in green causes related to ocean and fresh water pollution and its impact on wildlife.

Michael W. Kruse

Jim, I see the video talking about the joiner phenomenon, not about the merits of particular partisans.

While my understanding of economics places me right of center but I'm reticent about the word "conservative" because in today's environment that comes close to libertarian, which I'm not. I'm more in the Russell Kirk vein of conservatism that is about conserving the basic institutions of society and avoiding radical sweeping changes.

I got the clip (see the hat tip) from my friend Neil who is an Obama supporting, Wallis enthusiast, pastor. He didn't see at as liberal vs conservative issue. Neither do I.

Jim Moss

I guess I'm putting this in reference to our earlier conversation on global warming -if you care to dig all that back up.

Given that history, it is natural for me to see this video and think it is being posted as an effort to discredit the environmental left and to specifically to refute the claims of those who are concerned about the human impact on global warming - though global warming was never mentioned in the video, that is the issue that immediately springs to mind when one watches it, isn't it?

And Michael, I do believe that you have described yourself as a conservative. If I am mistaken on this, I would say that your writing consistently identifies you as one.
Perhaps the liberals have finally succeeded at making conservative a pejorative word, much as the conservatives have done to "liberal". ;)

One final note. I put this video in the same league as that inflammatory book about Obama - I can't remember the guy's name who wrote it. He is good as raising questions and then backing away from them - but still leaving enough doubt in the reader's mind.

For example, he raised the question about Obama being a Muslim because of the school he went to in Indonesia. He nevers makes a hard accusation, but he very carefully leaves the notion in the reader's mind. That's what this video does.

Maybe I'm just looking for journalism that is more straightforward and less sneaky. And I know, I know, it is just as bad coming from the left. Perhaps this is just the reality of today's media climate.

Michael W. Kruse

Yes, I believe much of the energy behind aspects of the environmental movement is driven by joiners. I been at Republican events as well where people are proud of their Republican identification but press them on the specifics of their beliefs and they haven't thought through a thing. The same is true for almost any sizable movement. Joiners are everywhere.

Penn and Teller, are scathing secularists and anti-conservative. Posting this is like posting a Michael Moore. In fact, I suspect that Penn and Teller partly went with this topic to deflect criticism that they were picking on conservatives. (And by the way, this gag has been around for 18 years. I first encountered in the mid-1990s.) I see nothing inflammatory or anti-left in this at all.

As to conservative, I do occasionally own the term in some contexts to simplify discussion, but it is with a small "c." I don't know that I consider it a pejorative so much as insufficiently descriptive. I haven't yet found a label that I would latch on to, although Kuyperian and subsidiarian are adjectives that reflect significant parts of my thought.

I'd also note that I rarely mention the political candidates or the political parties. When I do it is usually information pieces about trends and developments, not polemic arguments supporting one or the other. I'm not above an a comment here or there but I try to keep the focus of this blog on the issues. I'm more than weary campaigns via blogging.


Well, if you consume way, way too much of it at a sitting, it CAN kill you.



Sorry about that. Here's the tinyurl:


This is a very dangerous thing, and must be banned immediately. ;-)


I'm an environmentalist by both lifestyle and by career (well, a consultant at least). I found nothing overtly anti-environmentalist about the video. I do feel a bit bad that one of my favourite causes was used as an exaple but hey, there's fools in every camp.

I like to think that environmental action is, at it's core, driven by both science and compassion for humanity and the natural world. The best environmentalism is done by scientists, and a healthy respect for accurate data gathering and impact assessment is crucial, otherwise the movement threatens the very natural systems it tries to protect.

This video should serve as a warning to all those wishing to get invovled in environmental action - it's not about signing up for quick fixes or about making loud noises.

Michael W. Kruse


I'd forgotten that story. Yet another example.


"This video should serve as a warning to all those wishing to get invovled in environmental action - it's not about signing up for quick fixes or about making loud noises."

Well said!

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