Today, we're introducing a new feature on Bye Bye Shadowlands called the "Iggy" Awards, recognizing spectacular achievements in profound ignorance. Our first winner, according to the National Academy of Ignorance Studies, is Mike Kennedy of St. Cloud, Minnesota. Mr. Kennedy caught the Council's attention with a letter to the editor that appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on June 26, in which he wrote:
So Brian Lambert thinks the debate over man-made global warming is over ("Global warming calls for truth, not `balance' game," June 22) and that no one who disagrees with this theory deserves to be heard because there is a "scientific consensus."I have a few questions. Didn't a "scientific consensus" believe the Earth was flat?
The panel has awarded the Iggy to Mr. Kennedy based on his impressively ignoramic achievements on three distinct levels of unreason:
1. Extrapolation--Mr. Kennedy's argument that one cannot trust "scientific consensus" on global warming because learned people once assumed the earth was flat extrapolates to the belief that because learned people turned out to be wrong about something half a millennium ago, one can never trust any form of "scientific consensus" (broadly defined) again. This, in turn, extrapolates logically to, "I don't believe in science," in which case Mr. Kennedy should wonder why his underwear drops to the floor instead of flying up toward his face.
2. Application of Personal Metaphor--Taking Mr. Kennedy's arguments to heart, if he were to visit the doctor complaining of fatigue and malaise, and the doctor were to say, "You have early signs of leukemia; we need to start you on chemo," the man would have no choice but to reply, "I'm sorry, but wasn't there scientific consensus centuries ago by people like yourself that the solution to any illness was bleeding with leeches? I therefore reject your current 'consensus' on my condition. Good day."
Which leads to the aspect of Mr. Kennedy's argument that the Council believed truly raised him to the level of Supreme Ignoramaniac:
3. Self-Negation--The true genius of Mr. Kennedy's sublime lack of reason is that his argument actually succeeds--cleverly and efficiently--in negating itself. He reasons that scientific consensus cannot be trusted because scientific consensus was once proven wrong. But what disproved the "scientific consensus" that the earth was flat? The scientific consensus that the earth was not flat. By acknowledging this, Mr. Kennedy recognizes that science is a progressive function whose accuracy improves as knowledge increases over time. Mr. Kennedy negates the concept of "scientific consensus" via the authority of "scientific consensus." But if he does not believe in scientific consensus as a concept, he has to disbelieve the consensus that the earth is round, which in turn means that he must believe the earth is flat. This "mirror upon mirror" display of utter hostility toward reason is, in the words of the panel, "a heretofore unseen and completely original expression of spectacular, mind-boggling and transcendent ignorance."
Congratulations, Mr. Kennedy. You may now take your place next to Ms. Bachmann.
P.S. I just realized that a different version of my reply to Mr. Kennedy was actually published in today's Star Tribune here (scroll down to the fifth letter).