People don’t care about right and wrong.
That’s why my high school’s zero tolerance rule for fighting punished all parties in any fight equally. It didn’t matter if a person was a hapless bystander who tried to stop an assault. It didn’t matter if a person was an innocent victim who did nothing but get beaten unconscious. People who did nothing wrong were punished the same way as the people who attacked them without any cause or provocation.
A similar thing happened recently when an individual publicly called me an incredibly foul word on Twitter. I highlighted his tweet because that sort of thing shouldn’t be tolerated. The first person to respond said this:
In a sane world, it would be appropriate to call out people on their bad behavior. In this world though, it seems highlighting bad behavior can be every bit as unacceptable as behaving badly. People seem to act like all parties in any conflict are equally responsible.
I pointed this out, and this is the response I got:
Think about that. This person said he didn’t bother to read what was said before deciding I behaved poorly. This is clearly true because anyone who had read what was said would know I never called anyone that name. I think the word is offensive and would never call anyone it.
In fact, rather than call anyone that, I called for the word not to be used:
I highlighted bad behavior and called for it to cease. People responded by claiming I am guilty of that bad behavior (another user had responded by saying “exactly”). Even worse, they openly admitted they weren’t even going to look to see if I was guilty. The mere fact I was involved in the situation was enough for them to condemn me.
Suppose you were in back in high school, and some student came up to you and punched you in the face. I think you’d be forgiven if you exclaimed, “He punched me in the face!” I think you’d be forgiven for saying, “Dude, don’t punch people in the face!” At least, you’d be forgiven if this world were sane. Or fair.
It isn’t though. People don’t care about right and wrong. People want things to be a certain way, and anything that interferes is unacceptable. It’s the same concept Dr. House (of House M.D.) discussed when he said:
Spoken like a true circle queen. See, skinny, socially-privileged white people get to draw this neat little circle. And everyone inside the circle is “normal”. Anyone outside the circle should be beaten, broken and reset so that they can be brought into the circle. Failing that, they should be institutionalized. Or worse – Pitied.
We see this mentality all the time in the climate debate. Judith Curry stepped “outside the circle” by publicly addressing legitimate questions global warming skeptics raised. The people “inside the circle” didn’t reward her for this. They punished her. They tried to beat her into submission so she’d “come back inside.” She didn’t, and now, she says:
Am I the only climate scientist on the planet that is concerned about these issues and reads the social science literature relevant to these concerns? Well, I seem to be the only one speaking out publicly on these issues. Are those scientists that are so wrapped up in AGW ideology completely blind to the impact that their advocacy is having on climate science?
The same thing happens to skeptics who step “outside the circle.” Earlier this year I showed a major figure for the skeptical cause, Richard Tol, abused his power as a Lead Author of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report to to alter its conclusions and heavily promote his own work outside any of the normal IPCC channels or review processes (see here and here.
How did skeptics respond to this clear-cut proof the IPCC process is corrupted, an accusation they’ve made for years? They ignored it. Actually, they did worse than ignore it. Some of them defended it. In private communication, a couple even acknowledged I was right but told me to cover it up because talking about it would be bad for the cause.
I didn’t, of course. I pointed out Richard Tol’s bad behavior for what it was. I did the same with other “skeptic” figures as well. Christopher Monckton. Steven Goddard. Anthony Watts. At one time or another, each of these people behaved in a way which would be unacceptable in any fair world. And each time I pointed out that unacceptable behavior, “skeptics” said I was in the wrong. This sort of thing led me to ask, “Am I a Skeptic?”
I still don’t know the answer to that question. What I do know is I care about right and wrong, and I can’t find a “circle” which does. It seems these “circles” don’t want to think about anything that happens outside of them. All they care about is whether or not you’re with them. If you are, they like you. If you aren’t, you must be bullied into converting.
And if you won’t convert, you must be destroyed.