Month: November 2014

Road Rage Psychology – courtesy of Urban Velo

Road Rage Psychology

rageI’ve always felt the argument that one rule-breaking cyclist (“You ran a red light?! Now we’re all gonna die!!”) is what compels drivers to hate all our collective guts, is very weak. Human nature is far more complex and subconscious than this, as is argued by BBC writer, Tom Stafford, as he pulls from evolutionary theory and social psychology to give a more thorough explanation of this road rage phenomenon. He explains,

…It’s not because cyclists are annoying. It isn’t even because we have a selective memory for that one stand-out annoying cyclist over the hundreds of boring, non-annoying ones (although that probably is a factor). No, my theory is that motorists hate cyclists because they think they offend the moral order…

… Humans seem to have evolved one way of enforcing order onto potentially chaotic social arrangements. This is known as “altruistic punishment”, a term used by Ernst Fehr and Simon Gachter in a landmark paper published in 2002. An altruistic punishment is a punishment that costs you as an individual, but doesn’t bring any direct benefit. As an example, imagine I’m at a football match and I see someone climb in without buying a ticket. I could sit and enjoy the game (at no cost to myself), or I could try to find security to have the guy thrown out (at the cost of missing some of the game). That would be altruistic punishment.

I don’t think there is much of a cooperative answer to this problem of cyclists avoiding generally accepted traffic laws, in part as a way of protecting ourselves, but maybe this theory can help you shrug off the haters as you circumvent the moral social order next time the light turns red on you.

Check out Urban Velo – great site and magazine

The SJWs Now Get To Police Speech On Twitter


The Dish

Well, you could see this coming. Twitter announced last Thursday that it was teaming up with a left-feminist activist group to investigate gender-based harassment on the social networking site:

A group called Women, Action, and the Media, which advocates for better representation of women, is testing a new reporting process for gender-based harassment. The group developed a tool for reporting harassment and will forward confirmed reports to Twitter. “If it checks out, we’ll escalate it to Twitter right away (24 hours max, hopefully much less than that) and work to get you a speedy resolution,” says the group, which abbreviates itself as WAM. “But please note: we’re not Twitter, and we can’t make decisions for them.”

I wondered what exactly this small non-profit believes in. You can check them out here or check their agenda from the statements in the video above. Their core objective is what they call…

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9 Things Drivers Need to Stop Saying in the Bikes vs. Cars Debate

In Wired this morning, Adam Mann addresses some of the myths about cyclists and makes a lot of good points:

There are certain things guaranteed to set off an internet firestorm. Talk about climate change, mention Monsanto, or bring up the treatment of women in video games. And you can, especially in recent years, piss off a whole bunch of people simply by writing about bikes and cars. Nothing seems to bring out the angry caps lock and personal attacks faster than transportation issues.

A recent report showing more cyclists are dying on US streets prompted a remarkable number of stories about cyclist safety. And in the comments section of each, people rehashed the same tired arguments over and over.

So, before the next big wave of internet arguing, I propose we retire a few overused and underwhelming opinions in the bikes vs. cars debate. Though I drive and bike, my allegiances skew toward cyclists (feel free to scroll straight the comments and yell at me). But beyond my personal judgments lie a great many studies and data showing most of the pro-motorist arguments just don’t hold up. I know it’s hard to be wrong, especially on the internet, but here are a few sentences I hope we see less of in the future.

I agree with almost everything he says except for the part about bike lanes.

I had a driver get very mad at me the other day when I cruised through a stop sign. She beeped her horn and shot me a glance. When I saw her at the next stop sign, she was applying her makeup.

Mark Styen on Climate Depression

Monday morning hilarity with Mark Steyn. I’m reprinting Steyn’s latest article in its entirety below but you can find it here on his website.

Climate Depression Is For Real. Just Ask A Scientist.

By “climate depression”, they don’t mean a low-pressure system off Labrador. Rather, the massed ranks of climate scientists are depressed because nobody’s listening to them – well, nobody except President Obama, the Prince of Wales, the European Union, John Kerry, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jessica Alba, etc. Reporter Madeleine Thomas lays out the grim toll “climate depression” can take:

Two years ago, Camille Parmesan, a professor at Plymouth University and the University of Texas at Austin, became so “professionally depressed” that she questioned abandoning her research in climate change entirely.

Parmesan has a pretty serious stake in the field. In 2007, she shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for her work as a lead author of th…

Whoa, whoa, hold up there. Professor Parmesan shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore? Who knew? Certainly not the Nobel Institute in Oslo nor the King of Norway. Be that as it may, Ms Thomas continues:

In 2009, The Atlantic named her one of 27 “Brave Thinkers” for her work on the impacts of climate change on species around the globe. Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg were also on the list.

Despite the accolades, she was fed up. “I felt like here was this huge signal I was finding and no one was paying attention to it,” Parmesan says. “I was really thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?'” She ultimately packed up her life here in the States and moved to her husband’s native United Kingdom.

“Native United Kingdom”? Her climate depression was so severe she was reduced to moving to Britain? Good grief. But it could have been worse:

From depression to substance abuse to suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, growing bodies of research in the relatively new field of psychology of global warming suggest…

Wait a minute. The “psychology of global warming” is a “field”? Why, yes:

For your everyday environmentalist, the emotional stress suffered by a rapidly changing Earth can result in some pretty substantial anxieties.

For scientists like Parmesan on the front lines of trying to save the planet, the stakes can be that much higher… “I don’t know of a single scientist that’s not having an emotional reaction to what is being lost,” Parmesan is quoted saying in the National Wildlife Federation’s 2012 report, “The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: And Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System is Not Adequately Prepared.”

Is there a name for what these afflicted climate scientists are suffering from?

Lise Van Susteren, a forensic psychiatrist based in Washington, D.C. — and co-author of the National Wildlife Federation’s report — calls this emotional reaction “pre-traumatic stress disorder,” a term she coined to describe the mental anguish that results from preparing for the worst, before it actually happens.

With all due respect to Dr Van Susteren, I don’t believe she coined the term “pre-traumatic stress disorder”. That coinage spread like wildfire five years ago as a befuddled media tried to explain why Major Nidal Hasan gunned down dozens of his comrades at Fort Hood. From November 2009, NPR’s Tom Gjelten:

That’s right, Steve. You know, you referred to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There’s – almost seems to be a phenomenon that you could maybe call a pre-traumatic stress disorder.

Indeed. I referenced the pre-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in my book After America (pp 168-169). If it seems mildly unsettling to find climate scientists claiming to be suffering from the same condition advanced for Major Hasan, don’t worry: They’re unlikely to wind up on a table firing wildly and yelling, “Allahu Akbar!” Instead, they’re being urged to yell …well, I’ll let Brentin Mock spell it out:

“Forgive my language here, but if scientists are looking for a clearer language to express the urgency of climate change, there’s no clearer word that expresses that urgency than FUCK,” Mock writes. “We need scientists to speak more of these non-hard science truths, no matter how inconvenient or how dirty.”

Climate scientists, don’t let pre-traumatic climate depression ruin your life! Instead of being reduced to a pitiful husk emigrating to the United Kingdom like a jihad wannabe heading off to ISIS, stand on a street corner and roar “F*CK!” at passers by.

As I said, I initially worried that this might be a brilliant parody of Big Climate’s terminal narcissism, but, if so, it’s not the first. From The Sydney Morning Herald:

Nicole Thornton remembers the exact moment her curious case of depression became too real to ignore. It was five years ago and the environmental scientist – a trained biologist and ecologist – was writing a rather dry PhD on responsible household water use…

Thornton had always been easily upset by apathy towards, and denial of, environmental issues. But now she began to notice an oddly powerful personal reaction to “the small stuff” – like people littering, or neighbours chopping down an old tree.

She found herself suddenly and strongly enveloped by unfamiliar feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anger and anxiety… “That’s when I lost hope that we would survive as a species. It made me more susceptible to what I call ‘climate depression’.”

Dr Thornton has now formed a support group for fellow sufferers of climate depression. There’s no awareness-raising ribbon, just an awareness-raising tree-ring you can wear round your neck like a millstone.

Susie Burke, of the Australian Psychological Society and Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, adds:

“We can be very sure that many people in the field of climate change are distressed – highly distressed – and it can have a significant psychosocial impact on their wellbeing,” Burke said.

That’s interesting to know. As part of his amended complaint against me, Nobel fantasist Michael E Mann accuses me of “intentional infliction of emotional distress“:

98. As a result of the actions of defendants, including , inter alia, besmirching Dr. Mann’s reputation and comparing him to a convicted child molester. Dr. Mann has experienced extreme emotional distress.

99. As a result of the actions of defendants, the chara cter and reputation of Dr. Mann were harmed, his standing and reputation among the community were impaired, he suffered financially, and he suffered mental anguish and personal humiliation.

But, according to Dr Burke and Dr Van Susteren, Michael E Mann works in a field so prone to “extreme emotional distress” and “mental anguish” it has its own condition, which is to the climatology departments of the developed world what Ebola is to Liberia. Who’s to say he wasn’t already suffering from Pre-Traumatic Climate-Depression Warming-Pause Disorder? We may have to have Dr Van Susteren examine Michael Mann in court…

By the way, the most revealing passage in that Sydney Morning Herald piece is this:

Six years ago, a dehydrated 17-year-old boy was brought into the Royal Children’s Hospital, refusing to drink water. He believed having a drink would somehow contribute to the global shortage of potable water, and became the first diagnosed case of “climate change delusion”.

This kid is the real victim of Mann and his Big Climate ideologues. There has been no global warming since the lad was in kindergarten, but the poor boy doesn’t know that – and he’s been so terrorized by the climate alarmists into believing that advanced western lifestyles are the cause of all the world’s woes that he’s terrified even to run the cold tap and have a glass of water. This kid is really a victim of child abuse. But that brings us back to Jerry Sandusky, and I wouldn’t want to cause Michael E Mann anymore “emotional distress”…

I can understand why the disinclination of reasonable persons to listen to the likes of professors Parmesan and Mann might produce in them a bad case of “climate depression”. One way to avoid that might be to cease passing oneself off as a Nobel Laureate when one is no such thing, and to cease demonizing those who disagree with Big Climate absolutism with cheap emotive sneers like “denier”. In other words, try behaving like – what’s the word? – scientists. Jo Nova:

If you have to resort to namecalling, and can’t define your terms in English (who denies there is climate?), there’s a message in that. You’ve picked the wrong career.

As Dr Judith Curry concludes:

Whining scientists aren’t going to help either the science or their ’cause.’

~If you have the misfortune to be in Washington on November 25th, do swing by the DC Court of Appeals for oral arguments between Mann and my co-defendants. I’ll be there as an amicus curiae, but in the cheap seats. I promise to autograph any copies of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn shoved under my nose – and don’t forget, all profits from book sales and trial merchandise and gift certificates go to prop up my end of this interminable case.

Obama is unpopular and that’s your fault Americans!

Here is the always excellent Jonah Goldberg on the U.S. midterms and an unpopular President:

Obama fatigue is setting in. Indeed, I’ve gone from Obama fatigue through full-on Obama Epstein-Barr to end-stage Obama narcolepsy. I hear him talking, or hear some MSNBC-type rhapsodizing about how misunderstood he is, and I start dozing off like a truck driver who took the drowsy-formula Nyquil by mistake. “Gotta stay awake! This is my job!” But then 20 seconds later, Jonathan Alter starts telling me how misunderstood the president is, and suddenly orange traffic cones are bouncing off my truck’s grill as I somnolently drift into a highway work zone. You could fill a cereal bowl with broken glass and barbed-wire shards drenched in hot sauce right below my face. All it would take for me to use it as a pillow is a 30-second loop of Obama saying “Let me be clear.” His speeches are like whale sounds, but with less substance. I’d say they’re all white noise, but I don’t want to get called a racist.

He goes on to explain how liberals and Dems are characterizing Obama’s unpopularity but here’s the highlight of the essay for me:

Other explanations are similar in their desire to place blame elsewhere. The fault lies not in Obama, but in ourselves. Let’s come back to this in a moment because I know exactly what you’re thinking right now. “Gosh, isn’t it about time Jonah quoted East German Communist playwright Bertolt Brecht?”

In Die Lösung Brecht famously quipped that if the people lose faith in the government it would be better if the government dissolved the people and elected another.

For progressives it’s always five minutes to Brecht-O-Clock. What I mean is this desire to fix the people, not the government always seems to be lurking behind liberalism. It was there when Woodrow Wilson said the first job of an educator is to make your children as unlike you as possible. It was there when Obama explained in 2008 that Hillary Clinton’s Pennsylvania primary supporters weren’t ready to vote for him because they were too busy clinging to their sky god and boom sticks. It’s the central theme of Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? It was whispering in John Podesta’s ear when he said the American political system “sucks.” It is at the heart of the Voxy “explanatory journalism” craze, which holds that if you call proselytizing “explaining” it will help the rubes come to their senses. It runs riot in the mainstream media and their sovereign contempt for these stupid, stupid, Americans and their parochial “unscientific” concerns about an organ-liquefying disease (even as the MSM caters to those concerns for the ratings they deliver). It runs like an underground river through the White House’s national-security policies, as they constantly downplay the dangers Islamic terrorism (“Let’s just call it ‘work place violence’!”) for fear of rousing the fearsome beast of public opinion on the side of the war on terror. It’s why the White House doesn’t want Congress to get involved in a deal with Iran, because Congress might actually listen to the people. It’s why the New York Times laments the “bumpkinification of the midterms.”

That’s how most liberals think. That’s what they think of you and me dear reader. And it’s not unique to the U.S. The sentiment runs through the Canadian progressive character. To them we are just rubes who need to be directed to the lefty utopia whether we like it or not.