Monday, September 22, 2014

Andy Borowitz: Less Funny Than Ever

I have never been a big fan of Andy Borowitz. But this column finds him in a particularly unfunny mode. Let's start with this:

"A climate-change march that organizers claim was the largest on record is nevertheless unlikely to change the minds of idiots..."

Ha, ha, ha, they are so stupid, their minds are not going to be changed even by a very large march! Um, but wait a second, Andy: I don't think a march is an argument, and it is hard to see why any march, however large, should ever convince anyone of anything other than, "Wow, a lot of people are enthusiastic / passionate about whatever it is they are marching about." When the Nazis had very large rallies in the 1930s, would Andy have called everyone who wasn't immediately "convinced" by these rallies an idiot?

Anyway, Borowitz continues: "Despite bringing attention to a position that is embraced by more than ninety per cent of the world’s scientists..."

First of all, someone has surveyed "the world's scientists"? Every one of them? But let us stipulate that this statement is correct.  Well, what in the world does it matter what, say, an inorganic chemist or a computer scientist or a low-temperature physicist thinks about this issue? Finally, the statement, if true, means roughly ten percent of "the world's scientists" don't embrace this position. Are they all idiots too? And what puts Andy Borowitz, a man with a theater degree, in a position to judge between these groups of scientists with different opinions? Is he aware that, in 1580, well over 90% of astronomers rejected Copernicus, or that plate tectonics and the big bang theory were also widely rejected when formulated?

Nothing! In short, the "joke" here is simply repeatedly calling people who disagree with prevailing opinion "idiots." My, that is funny, Andy!

(And note: as I have said several times, I think, as uneducated amateur, that the scientific consensus probably is right, since that is my best bet. So Borowitz is probably right as well... just really, really unfunny.)

1 comment:

  1. He did say one hilarious thing. He said the march was "bringing" attention to global warming, like we'd all missed it before.



"If your approach to mathematics is mechanical not mystical, you're not going to go anywhere." -- Nassim Nicholas Taleb